It feels like these elders just got here. We had Elder Duthie in the office for many months and he did a wonderful job keeping the temporal affairs of the mission in order as well as having succcess in his own prosolyting area. Elder Cranny was our assistant for 8 months and helped so much in turning the culture of our mission around. Elder Vail and Butikofer were great missionaries and touched many lives with their faith and diligence.
Our senior couples are miracle workers. Miracle Grow in the case of Elder and Sister Manning. They are working in Oakdale now that the Vances returned home. They are master Gardeners, so they decided to use their talents for the benefit of the community. They decided a community garden would bring people together and give them an experience with self reliance. The land was donated by the city of Oakdale. The project was the joint effort of the city of Oakdale and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints. The garden was dedicated to the late Mrs. Juanita Crawford, one of the Co-founders of the Oakdale City Arts Council and a member of the Garden Club. All of Mrs Crawford's family were there to honor their mother and knew that she would have been so excited about the garden. She passed away a few months before the garden was dedicated. . There was music, and activities for the kids.They planted some donated trees. Elder Manning had built individual plots for people to use. The mannings had also planted beans, tomatoes, squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon on a larger planting area to harvest for everyone. We express our gratitude to the Mannings for their great effort to share their talents not only with the members but with the community.
Oakdale finally was cleared to have a new meeting place. The work had gone so well in baptizing, reactivation and retention that they had outgrown their little building. The church purchased a funeral home for them to fix up for a meeting house. It was ideal, but required a lot of work. The branch set to work and painted, scrubbed, and built, until it was sparkling and worthy of anyone to come and worship there. The missionaries had an open house for the community. They passed out flyers and extended special invitations to community leaders. They had a progressive instruction from room to room teaching about Prophets, the role of the Savior, the apostacy and Restoration. They did a beautiful job. They had a small turn out but those of us that were there, felt the spirit in abundance. We know our Heavenly Father was pleased with their hard work.
Bishop Hazleton and his daughter getting the refreshments ready.
Elder Christiansen and elder Willmuth teaching about the Apostacy
Sister Aka and the Zone Leaders Elder Lambert, and Elder Rueckart teaching about the Restoration. I loved their creativity in making it feel like the Sacred Grove
President Dwight Epperson, Stake President of the Alexandria Stake, chatting with one of the newest members of the Oakdale branch.
These are the good members of Oakdale branch that come and support the missionaries.
In February we brought all of the leaders into Baton Rouge for four days of leadership training; 65 in total. We had 15 at the mission home.We felt the spirit of our mission increase in abundance after our first four day leadership conference. We have had several months to teach, practice, and implement these wonderful Fundamentals of Preach my Gospel lessons. We felt we had new missionaries and leaders in our mission that it was time to immerse them in the spirit. It is the Holy Ghost that is poured out in abundance at these gatherings, and it is four days in a row. These lessons train all of us to recognize the voice of the spirit it choosing questions to ask, which lessons to teach, and bringing power in our commitments.With the miracles of implementation every night these truths really sink into their hearts and they are empowered by the evidence of their faith.
Elder Duthie checking his planner after a great instruction on planning.
Sarah, the young adult next to me , and I single handedly fed 65 missionaries lunch and every day for four days in a row. We were pretty proud of ourselves. Let's face it, we know we had angels helping us all the way. Bill's sister was here from AZ and helped us serve.
Elder Sewell was a great server but he couldn't keep his tie out of the whipped cream. I think he was trying to save some for later.
At the end of each daily session the missionaries went out proselyting to practice with exactness what they had learned that day. This is a little miracle that the sisters experienced because they had the faith to implement the things they had learned. They were about to leave an apt building when Sister Hislop felt impressed to go to the end of the hall and knock on the door. This mom was busy cooking dinner but the sisters offered to come in and help so they could listen to the message of eternal families. The woman had been praying for new truth about life. It was a bit chaotic in the home , but they had learned the value of "how to begin" a lesson and sitting down and setting the stage for the Spirit. They had the faith to ask if the family could sit down and have a prayer, eliminate any distractions, and invite the spirit to be there so they could feel the truth of what they were teaching. They asked good questions and found out he concerns in their family and began to teach to those needs. This little family was blessed and wanted to have more lessons with the missionaries. We had miracle after miracle every night.