Sunday, August 23, 2015

Winter Quarters 1846-1848

This beautiful painting was commissioned by the Church to be painted for the Winter Quarters Temple.  It is beautifully displayed in a waiting area in the temple and a replica hangs in the Mormon Trail Center Visitors Center.

The painting provides for me a feeling a love for the saints that sacrificed so much so that each of us could have the freedom to worship and to enjoy the blessings of the gospel.  It was in this location where many church members settled after they were driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois.  It was also where many Latter-day Saints, including many who came from Europe, camped before crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.  More than 2,000 church members died at Winter Quarters because of heavy storms, scurvy, malaria and inadequate food and shelter.

In the 136th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, Brigham Young received a revelation at Winter Quarters.  In verse 6 we read, "And this shall be  our covenant-- that we will walk in the Ordinances of the Lord."

Each week we see many individuals that are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, already have a great love for and desire to enter the temple.  Within a few weeks at most, these faithful converts are entering the temple to do baptisms for the dead for their own family members.  We have seen baptisms for spouses, brothers, sisters, grandparents and great grandparents.  The hearts of the fathers that gave their lives in this sacred place have turned to the children of our day and the children's hearts have turned to their fathers.  They are walking in the ordinances of the Lord and we are witnesses of the fulfillment of this prophesy.

A Weekend of Baptism's and Confirmations

This week was filled with miracles as we witness the hastening of the Lords work.  We attended the baptism of Dusty on Saturday afternoon.  What a sweet woman that has exercised tremendous faith to make and keep commitments which led to her baptism today.  Our sweet sister missionaries have taught her well (Sister Strong and Ferrara).

Sister Strong, Dusty and Sister Ferrara

We also attended the confirmation in North Platte Nebraska of Chris and Dawn.  I had the opportunity to help teach them one of the lessons.  They have made so many changes in their lives that truly is a miracle.  We love them and are so proud of their faith to follow the Savior and begin living his commandments.  

The night that I was able to go with our missionaries to teach them, the first 10 minutes, they shared their testimony of how praying together as a couple has strengthened their marriage and their desire to be better in their marriage.  All of us need those blessings in our lives and they have set a great example.

Elder Higgins, Chris, Dawn and Elder Parkinson

Friday, August 21, 2015

Helping a Family Move Brings About a Miracle

Two weeks ago, two of our Elders were helping a family move from their home.  In doing so, they met a 16  year old young man that had also been enlisted to help this family move.  During the afternoon, our missionaries were able to share with this young man, information about what they do each day as missionaries.  He was impressed that they would leave their homes for 2 years to serve other people.  In the process of the move, the young man had to hurry and leave and the missionaries were disappointed that they had not obtained his contact information.

Yesterday, our missionaries had decided to do some street contacting.  The first door they knocked on was opened by this 16 year old young man.  He invited them into his home.  The missionaries taught him the message of the restoration and invited him to be baptized on September 19.  He accepted their invitation, is reading the Book of Mormon and has invited the missionaries back to teach him again with his entire family.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Miracles in the Winter Quarters Temple

In the 2014 Mission President Seminar, Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that Missionary Work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple.  He said, "Missionary work is about gathering people out of the world, ennobling them, and enabling them eventually to dwell with God... God, our loving Heavenly Father, wants His children to return home to him."

As we have begun our Mission in the Nebraska Omaha Mission, we have taken his prophetic council to heart and we have seen incredible miracles.  We have invited our missionaries to assist their new converts or returning members, to enter the temple within 30 days of their baptism.  Our missionaries have been overjoyed to be able to attend the temple with their new converts that they love so dearly.  In fact, our missionaries are now setting both a baptism date and a date to enter the temple at the same time.

Here are just a few of the many miracles that we have seen as we have helped our missionaries focus on the temple:

On July 11, 2015 an 85 year old sister and her 68 year old daughter were baptized in Grand Island, Nebraska.  On July 25, 2015, only two weeks later, both of these dear sisters entered the Winter Quarter temple with members from their ward and our two full-time missionaries.  Each of them were baptized for relatives for which they had completed the work on FamilySearch.  Even more sweet, one of the members was baptized for the deceased husbands of these two sisters.

Last week, two of our missionaries and their ward members, accompanied a couple that they had baptized on July 11, 2015 to the Winter Quarters Temple to perform baptisms for the dead.  The dear sister was baptized for several of her ancestors.  Perhaps the baptism that that was most touching however, was for her sister who had unexpectedly passed away exactly one year ago.

A few days ago, two of our missionaries were escorts for a 24 year old, that they had baptized one year ago.  He received his endowments last week and was sealed to his spouse this week. She at the time, was just a friend that introduced him to the missionaries.  They are now sealed for the eternities.

When Moroni visited Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823, he quoted Malachi 4:5 which reads, " I will reveal unto the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers."  Moroni taught Joseph about the importance of temples and sealing families for the eternities.

We have witnessed the fulfilling of this prophesy in the Nebraska Omaha Mission and are grateful for the prophetic counsel to begin and end missionary work focused on the blessings of the temple.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Miracle--Members and Missionaries Working Well Together

One of the things that I have enjoyed as we have begun our mission it to have the missionaries call me when they set a specific baptism date for one of their investigators.  The excitement that you feel from these wonderful missionaries brings absolute joy.

One of these calls that came last week from one of our dear sister missionaries.  She and her companion had been rather discouraged as they had received a call earlier in the day from one of their investigators letting them know that she needed to take a break from the lessons for a while.  This dear sister had a baptismal date set and they knew of the joy of the gospel would be delayed in her life.

Rather than wallowing in their discouragement, they received inspiration to invite an investigator to a Ward picnic activity at the park that afternoon.  They were completely surprised when she answered the phone and accepted their invitation.

While at the park, they saw a man sitting on a bench looking on curious at the events and activities.  They were prompted to go and speak with him but held back so that they could stay with the woman that they had invited to join them.  However, a few minutes later,  this gentleman approached them.  He asked if this was a church group and told them that he was interested in putting Christ back into his life.  The sisters with the assistance of the Ward Mission Leader, sat on the park bench and taught him the Message of the Restoration while the rest of the ward had a front row seat.  He loved the message, agreed to read the Book of Mormon and accepted their invitation to join them in church the next day.   He loved the meetings and a member in the ward invited him and the sister missionaries to their home for dinner.

Following dinner, they taught this good man again, this time in the members home where he felt the spirit again.  He accepted the invitation to be baptized on September 5, 2015.  The faith of this man to act upon the invitations offered by the missionaries has brought him great power and great joy. 

Miracle--A Tender Mercy

I received a call this last week from one of our missionaries.  He and his companion had been street contacting in a neighborhood.  They approached a woman who recognized them as missionaries.  She invited them into her home.  She told the Elder's that her dad's dying wish for her ten years previous was for her to learn more about the Mormon church.  That request had weighed on her mind for years but she said she had never done anything about it. 

She then mentioned that a few nights previous, she had a dream regarding two Mormon missionaries.  She recognized them instantly as they were walking down the street.  The missionaries taught her the Message of the Restoration and she accepted a baptism date on September 12th, 2015.  I am grateful for these two missionaries that were in the right place, and the right time, carrying the right spirit and obeying their thoughts, feelings and impressions.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

One Month Down!

Welcome to our first attempt at blogging!   Our first month in the mission has flown by! We were told that we would arrive and jump on a fast moving train never to stop.  The analogy has proven true, but there have been so many sweet surprises along the way.
  Our first week was spent in Meet The President Zone Conferences.  We arrived at the first building on Chad standard time (definitely at least 20 minute early) only to find a chapel filled with quiet, studying missionaries listening to hymns.  When we walked in the chapel, they all stood up.  We were so taken by surprise and overwhelmed to look into the faces of these beautiful missionaries we had been memorizing, praying for and thinking about for so many months.  They were absolutely radiant to look at and took our breath away.  (You may not want to read this if you are disturbed by sappy, emotional things...)  We loved being able to meet them one by one and they loved covering their badges and quizzing Chads memorization skills to see if he could recognize them.  He was very close to 100 percent and they loved it! We were so grateful to the Weston's, the previous president and wife, because they had prepared each missionary to love and accept us openly.  We found that the Nebraska Omaha mission is a happy, loving, obedient and smoothly running machine and we couldn't be more in awe of or grateful for our predecessors.
The train zoomed on after zone conferences with our first Mission Leadership Council.  We are fortunate to have amazing assistants, zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  We loved hearing their ideas, successes and counsel.  We made plans, set goals and talked about our plan to have every new convert in the temple to do baptisms (preferably family names) within a month of their baptism.  The missionaries have embraced this wholeheartedly and love attending the temple with their new converts.  
The second week, eight amazing, faithful missionaries completed their missionary service and returned home.  Although we didn't get well acquainted with very many of them, we loved them for showing us what each of these young people are aiming to become and accomplish.  Their testimonies were powerful and they will return to continue progressing at home.  Later that day, we received 12 new missionaries!  This group was very special to us because we were in the MTC together and had a chance to spend an evening getting acquainted.  We were so excited to welcome them and had fun sharing two days together before they headed to their areas.
Meeting our Missionaries at the MTC- June 26, 2015
New Missionaries Arriving at Omaha Airport- July 8, 2015

Visiting the Winter Quarters Mormon Trail Center
Elder Chamberlain

Sister Youngberg

Elder Hunt

Sisters Willis, Murphy,Graves, Lewis, and Youngberg

There is never a dull moment, always a meal to prepare, a medical or spiritual challenge to conquer.  There have definitely been challenges, sad times, outcomes that aren't always what we had hoped.  We have felt that we are not alone.  We are keenly aware that this is the Lord's work and it is His mission and His missionaries, not ours.  We try so hard to know His will and do things His way.
  Chad has spent ten full days interviewing each missionary.  It has been a wonderful opportunity for him to visit with them one and one and they seem to enjoy it and look forward to it as much as he does!  While he interviews, I sit and visit with the missionaries waiting for their turn.  I love listening to them share with each other counsel they received or a challenge President gave them in their interview.  Their eagerness to receive and follow counsel is amazing.  They are humble and teachable and truly desire to do and be good.  We really love them!
  We sure miss and love everyone at home.  When I think of home and what we left there I am just so grateful for everything!
Sister Yancey and Sister Johnson

Elder Olsen

Elder Jensen, Elder Olsen, Elder Taggart, Elder Adams

Sister Young