Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bringing 141 Souls Unto Christ

It is amazing what 140 dedicated, hard working, faithful, and obedient missionaries can do in 31 days of service. They had 141 sons and daughters of God accept the invitation to come unto Christ, repent and be baptized so they could receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and prepare themselves to receive all the ordinances and covenants so they can endure to the end. Here is some of the letter that President Anderson sent to the missionaries after a fruitful week to end a very fruitful month.

Dear Above Average Great Missionaries,

How amazing it is to feel the incredible Spirit that has immersed this great Mission. All of you are astonishing in your dedication to bring Souls to Christ. We had 39 baptisms (a new weekly record) this week and 141 for the month. We not only beat our goal, we shattered it. You truly have “done what has not been done before”. Last year, July 2011, we baptized 50; we have almost tripled what was done before.

All of you have astonished the Angels in Heaven with your devotion to God and your perseverance to this great work with the power and authority you have been given the privilege to invoke. We have been called to serve God and to represent His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. In fact you are those Angels, those Ministering Spirits that Paul speaks of:

 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:6-7,14)

 “We had been out for the day and had already harvested for about an hour and a half and we still needed to have 1 more blessing. One of our appointments had fallen through and we decided that we would harvest some more. We decided to knock an apartment building that we were parked at. The first door we knocked on was answered by Chuck. We introduced ourselves and offered to share the blessing. He looked at us funny and then asked, “Who sent you?” We told him that Jesus Christ had sent us to his door. He then told us about how he was going through a really rough time and that as he was just eating dinner he was thinking and praying that God would send someone to his door. There we were.”

And of course your faith and boldness as representatives of Jesus Christ, to invite everyone to come to Him:

“We have an investigator… that gave us a compliment that will stay with me forever this week, he told us that he sees our love and passion for the gospel because we aren’t afraid to talk to anyone. He said that he knows that we are truly Christ’s representatives because we don’t judge, but instead love and invite everyone we see to follow him. He asked us if we have ever seen a person that we didn’t invite to be baptized. I know that what he sees in us is true, we are representatives of Christ and we have to talk to and invite everyone because they need what we have. I am so grateful for this work!” 

I have seen so many miracles from you missionaries that I am overwhelmed and astounded. I performed two weding ceremonies this week with wonderful people that had tremendous desires of what you are teaching them. After the ceremonies, both occasions, the husband was baptized. I love how this Gospel is bringing families together and to Christ.

 The strength of our unity is moving mountains and we are receiving “an endowment from heaven” of great blessings. I am so proud of all of you!!!

We can do 100 again. We’ve never had 2 months in a row with 100 plus.

Missionaries and Little Ducks

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Sister Tuai is being trained by sister Hong while they serve in West Palm Beach North. Sister Hong served here in the Fort Lauderdale zone for about the first 6 months of our mission and we were happy to see her in the office before she leaves for home at the next transfer in early August. Sisters Dye and Geest are serving together in the Davies area and they always have big smiles on their faces. This is sister Geest’s last transfer before heading home and we will miss her. That handsome elder in the background is their District Leader elder Larsen.

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The flash did not work so you may have to look hard to see Elders Avila, Georgino and Rippstein struggling to get their burgers from Flanigans into their mouths. I can assure you that they over came the problems and ate them all gone. We took the assistants to lunch to say thanks for the service they gave in taking apart and putting back together all the electronics before the office was got new carpet. Elders Hunt and HoChing are the zone leaders in Hialeah. The zone is so on fire that Elder Doria, a new missionary who came in late June, thinks that it is normal to baptize each week and when they do not he suggests that they work harder.  On the right are Elder J Owens and Beer who serve together as Zone Leaders in the Miami Beach zone. It is a great experience to see and talk to the missionaries about the work when they drop into the mission office.

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I looked over at Elder Collins and saw that he had the biggest tie tack I had ever seen. It was his cell phone! He put it there so he could get to it easily when he was driving. When he told me this we both broke out laughing. Elder Evans came in to do some clean up in the supply room and help sister Evans with the mail. You can see the big stack of milk cartons that he is taking out. When they move or clean out a house, they use them for smaller items that need packing. I am amazed at the amount of moving and cleaning the Evans, Sommerfeldts and Collins no to keep the missionaries in suitable housing with proper furnishings.

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A couple of time this week we ran into the flock of little ducks on the road as we were driving out of the complex. I told Mary that in Swaziland cows on the road were called ‘Swazi Stop Signs.’ Here in Southern Florida little ducks seem to take the place of cows. When I went to get the mail on Tuesday, the flock was on the grass near the boxes. I stepped over to take a picture and instead of running away they actually came towards me and then settled down just a couple of feet away. All 25 all still alive and the single mother duck is taking care of them. Hopefully they will continue to be safe and grow.

An Above Average Week…Month

“We do not boast in our own strength, nor in own wisdom; but behold, our joy is full, yea, my heart brim with joy, and we will rejoice in our God,” Alma 26:11.

For the first time in it’s history the mission had over 100 baptisms in just 4 weeks and are looking to have 120 or more for the whole month. This miracle came about because of the faith, hard work, and obedience of the 140 above average missionaries who serve here.

The following is the weekly letter from President Anderson:

Dear Missionaries,

 

With the miracles that have happened this week and this month, I can’t contain the excitement for what is and has happened with our Mission. We set out to baptize 100 souls unto Christ, and we have surpassed it with 102 by the 22nd of the month. I feel like Ammon when he glories in the Lord:

 

“Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted. Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them. But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day. Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.” (Alma 26:5-8)

 

Missionaries, how wonderful it is to have brought these souls out of darkness and into light:

 

“Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.” (Alma 26:15)

 

Missionaries you have become instruments, chasers of darkness from among us:

 

“That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you; (D&C 50:24-25)

 

We have done in 4 weeks what has never been done before. Elder and Sisters you are amazing, remarkable, astounding, and even astonishing.

You go forward with a positive attitude, full of faith knowing that God will bless you for your efforts to get people to Church:

 

“This week I was able to go on an exchange… This was a really tough day for the both of us. There were about 8 scheduled appointments that all fell through and it felt like everything was going against us. Something that I learned from this great Elder is how positive he stayed the whole day. He kept saying, ‘something great is going to happen.’ We went by to remind all those who had accepted to come to church and all of them said they weren’t going to come. However he kept saying, ‘something great is going to happen.’ The disappointments happened all day and nothing seemed to happen. We headed home and got to the apartment and I gave him a hug and said ‘something great is going to happen.’ Yesterday I got a call from them saying, ‘Elder, Something great happened! 3 people showed up to church!’”

 

You have become fearless, faithful and full of fire, valiant to invite everyone to be baptized:

 

“We were riding our bikes and stopped to talk to Carlos at the bus stop. We gave him a pass along card and asked if we could come bless him. He said yes and explained that he had read a little in the Book of Mormon and liked it. We set up an appointment and as we were about to ride away I had a very strong impression to invite him to be baptized. I tried to push it out of my head and just wait until our appointment at least. We hadn’t even blessed him! But again the spirit urged me so I testified that what he felt when he read in the book of Mormon was the spirit and that it was testifying that this is true and that means he should get baptized. My companion extended him a specific date and he accepted. Turns out, he had been praying to find a church that would baptize him. He told us that had we not invited him to be baptized he probably wouldn’t have been interested. He will be baptized on Sunday.”

 

You testify boldly, with faith and full of love. Your testimony that you represent Jesus Christ “pierces their soul and causes their hearts to burn”.  That Spirit stays with our non-member friends and works with them even when you are not there, after the blessing:

 

“Our last blessing Jose especially seemed like he was ready to come to Christ but after the invitation gave a muttering unclear not really. We testified, left our phone number and set a return appointment. That same night I got a phone call from a number I didn’t know and it was Jose who [we had] harvested. He asked, ‘When was that baptism you talked about’, I said it was the 29th. He asked ‘What do I have to do prepare for it?’  I gave a very brief summary and he said ‘I want to do it!’  I’ve never had that happen before! What a miracle. Our goal wasn’t achieved in the moment but after we left, the spirit worked with Jose and he changed. It was a great experience.” 

 

Missionaries, you are doing what you have never done before. You are doing what has never been done before in this Mission. We should all glory in the Lord with what we have accomplished and what we have achieved. Elders and Sisters, we have now the opportunity to finish this month better than any month in the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission. Let us have a tremendous strong finish to this month and spring board into the next.

 

Let’s get them to Church, Let’s get them to Christ,

 

We Love You, We Pray For You, We Can Do This,    102+  1000  8 by Wednesday

A normal week – A new missionary arrives – Couples gather

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Elder Conger finally got his new companion Elder Rellaford (I will probably never remember that there are two l’s in his name) to train. Sometimes the assistants have a little too much time on their hands as this picture of Elders Rippstei and Avila shows. Elder Giorgino just could not stay out of the picture. On the 21nd the couples – minus the McCormicks who are down in the Keys – gathered at the Collins for dinner and a birthday celebration for Mary, Sister Beagley, Sister Evans and Elder Collins who is sitting on his favorite stool before we went in to dinner. There are above average couples serving here in the Fort Lauderdale Mission

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The Plantation Costco is very busy and by the afternoon they usually do not have any carts near the door so you learn to take one with you from wherever you park. For some reason they do not have enough cart tenders working to bring in the multitude of empty carts that fill all the spaces in the parking lot. OK rant over, back to missionary work.

The fourth and fifth week of a transfer is usually quiet around the office. Especially when they fall near the middle of the month. All the reports are in, letters are written, and for the most part we have time to organize and handle problems. This was one of those weeks and we were happy to have it.

Elders and Carpet…and don’t forget the little ducks…

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I have decided to try and take pictures of companionships when they come into the office. On the left are Elder S. Wood and T. Dean. They are known by the initial of their first names because we also have a C. Wood and J. Dean but they are not serving together. Of course if the Lord inspires President Anderson we could have S. and C. Wood and T. Dean and J. Dean serving together. Then there are B & K Jones and H & J Owen.  In the middle are Elder Rockwood and Elder Valderrama – I must ask Elder Rockwood if he wrestled in high school. The last picture is of a mother duck and 23 little ones…we are pretty sure they are not all hers but she obviously is watching over the whole brood.

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The office got new carpet over the weekend (July 14-15) which required a lot of packing on our part and a lot of moving on the part of the carpet layers. I honestly could not believe that they could get everything moved out of rooms, take up the old carpet, prepare the floor, lay the new carpet and put everything back in just two days. We also must thank the four Assistants – Elders Kealamakia, Giorgino, Rippstein, and Avila  for taking apart and putting back together all the electronics such as computers, copiers, and telephones – they are the best!

I am reminded of a great principle by the “Faith of a Little Child”

On Monday morning when we came in to the office I found a copy of Elder Gene R. Cook’s talk to the missionaries at the MTC sitting on Mary’s desk. I asked it where it came from and she had no idea. As I started reading I realized it was put there for me to find and read…a tender mercy if you would. Here is just one of the stories that he uses to illustrate how faith is a principle of power that should lead to action.

“I remember hearing of a case in the pioneer days somewhere in southern Utah where there had been a long drought and many of the crops were about to die. The bishop had called the ward together and asked them to fast and pray. The saints had done so. On a particular Sunday, the bishop asked them to come together in the afternoon to offer a final prayer that the rain might come.

As one family prepared to leave home, a little five-year-old girl said, “Wait a minute, Dad, I forgot something.” She ran into the house and came out with a bag.

The Saints gathered together in the church courtyard and offered prayer with all of the saints exercising their faith. Before the final “amen” raindrops began to fall, and then it came down in bucketsful. Everyone ran for the chapel. Interestingly enough, there were two people left in the courtyard–the bishop and the five-year-old girl. She opened up her bag and said, “Bishop would you like to share my umbrella?”

Would you think about that for just a moment? A five-year old girl heard that they were going to pray to the Lord with all their hearts that rain would come. As far as the history shows, she was the only one–the only one with an umbrella. That little girl had total faith that it would rain.”

If you would like to read the whole talk just search for “Qualifications for the Work” Eugene Cook.

What was really interesting was that later evening as the couples met at the Mission Home, Elder McCormick, who is serving down in the Keys with his Eternal companion, told us about a story that was published in this month’s Friend about an experience he had while on a trip with his family and how the prayer of one of his young children basically dug them out of a major problem that had him stumped, not to mentioned covered in mud.  Here is the opening paragraph – you can read this in the July 2012 Friend. It is called “Stuck in the Mud” by Annie McCormick Bonner.

My dad looked like an angry mud monster. Our van and our moving truck were both stuck in the mud on a deserted road. Dad and Mom were trying to move them, but the mud was deep. Each time they tried to drive, the wheels spun and mud flew everywhere. Dad was getting more and more frustrated.”

The story goes on to show how faith can not only move mountains, it can also help dads move stuck trucks.

New Companionships, A Future Missionary, A Gorgeous Sky

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Elder Doman arrived a couple of weeks after the others in his group and is being trained by Elder Marsh. Elder Marsh is always smiling and his great spirit shows in his happiness. Elder Hall was transferred up from Key West and is now serving with Elder Taylor. Elder Fitts also has a new companion – Elder Bishop. They are powerful Zone Leaders and we look forward to getting to know Elder Bishop better.

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Elder Thorne is now serving with Elder T. Larsen who is the district leader in the new Plantation district. They are serving in the Plantation Ward. If the Lord lets us stick around for another 19 years or so, I am sure we will see Colin leave on his mission. If we are needed on the other side before that we will keep an eye on him anyways. The morning sky is often amazingly beautiful. Not long after I took this picture the skies just opened up and dumped rain on us as we left for the office.

Fireworks and a Last Picture

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Our camera is getting old…we bought if before we left for Indonesia…and it does not catch fireworks as well as it did at one time. We watched them with two other couples from the lawn at the edge of our apartment complex. They were shot off at a field just a few hundred yards from where we sat so we had a great view. When the show was over we just picked up our chairs and we were home in about 5 minutes.

The middle picture is a last one for the Fort Lauderdale district before transfers. When transfers were done, half of the missionaries had been sent to serve somewhere new. Elder Rippstein was called as an assistant to the President. Elder Plowman has been in the district for almost the whole time we have been here and has moved to North to the Palm Beach zone. Elder Wilson has moved way North to Fort Pierce which is about the top edge of the mission. Elder Rasmussen was moved a little South and is serving in Miami Shores. I have posted a number of pictures of Elder Rasmussen and I do not think I ever caught him not smiling until this one. These are all above average missionaries who were replaced by other above average missionaries…it is just what the Florida Fort Lauderdale has.

2 July 2012 – The Four Amigos and a Surprise Picture

 For this cycle the President has four assistants. Elder Kealamakea and Elder Giorgino are in their last cycle so they will train the other two elders to take their place. This will also allow the assistants to attend more district meetings and go on more splits with zone leaders. They will be able to share their extensive and effective missionary experience and abilities with more of the elders and sisters.

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Elder Kealamakea has been an assistant since before we got here back in November. Elder Giorgino is our always smiling Italian missionary who is in his third cycle as AP.

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Elder Rippstein we know from him being a zone leader with Elder Fitts for a couple of cycles and have come to appreciate his many good qualities. He also has a good sense of humor which seems to be almost a requirement for being an AP. We know Elder Avila – I keep trying to put an extra ‘l’ in his name and pronounce it incorrectly – only from the good things that have been said about him. We look forward to getting to know him better.

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Mary was pleasantly surprised to find this 2008 picture of Elder Spencer Taylor who after returning home from serving an honorable mission married our granddaughter Taylor Pier which made her Taylor Taylor or as she likes to be known Taylor Pier Taylor. We were in South Africa when they were sealed in the Salt Lake temple but we got to know and to love Spencer when we arrive home. When we got our call to the Fort Lauderdale Mission he was happy that we were going to his mission and told us a lot about it.