Monday, February 13, 2012

We Love Baptisms

This is Allen with his father, grandfather, best friend and best friends mom.  He was our 8 year old baptism.  He was so excited and brought a great spirit of enthusiasm.

This is President Burke, our branch president.  As you can see he baptized Allen.
This is Donya and Lizzie with Donya's sister, husband and daughter.  We also see the Jamestown Elders.  Her sisters husband baptized Donya and Lizzie.

Here we are with Donya and Lizzie.

Here we are with the Jamestown Elders.

The baptisms on Saturday went very well.  The weather was marginal, several inches of blowing snow but everyone made it there just fine.  Sunday we were able to confirm all three as members of the church.  In our Gospel Essentials class, we gave a lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which they had just received.  We also had all the youth in the class so it was big.  Sister Sherwood taught the Relief Society lesson also, so we were very grateful the weather did not prevent us from getting to the branch for the weekend.

Next weekend will be our last one in Fredonia.  After church there is going to be a "Linger Longer" and then we will leave from there to go to Detroit that night and spend some time with our daughter, her husband and three grandchildren.  We will then head for home via Colorado Springs where we will stop and play with some more grandchildren.  We have very mixed feelings about leaving this mission.  It has been wonderful and entirely too short, and we will really miss the friends we have made here.  But it will be so good to be back home with family and friends there.

We love you all and will see you soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Great Missionary Weekend

Sunday we had another fun day in Fredonia.  Before Sacrament meeting Melissa and her son, Allen came up to us wanting to set up a time later in the day for us to come teach Allen.  Allen told us he really wanted to be baptized.  They couldn't meet with us until 4:00 and they live 30 minutes south of Fredonia.  Since her other committment was in Fredonia and we were wanting to avoid and extra hour of driving, we had the inspiration to suggest we meet with them in the  Branch President's home.  The Burkes were willing and President Burke sat down with us as we began teaching Allen. We had a delightful time with him and were amazed about how much he remembered from his limited primary experience.  When we were finished with our lesson, we turned to the Branch President and said, "We think he is ready to talk to the Branch President, what do you think?"  He said "I think so too.  We need to set up an appointment with him for a baptismal interview".  Allen asked who was the Branch President, as he was excited to get everything done so he could be baptized. President Burke said, "I guess that would be me!  Lets go talk."  He took Allen into the next room where he has his home office and they talked for a few minutes.  Then the office door flew open and Allen came running out to his mother shouting, "I passed!"  It was so fun.  Then President Burke asked him who he wanted to baptize him and he immediately responded, "My Mom!"  We then taught him about the necessity that it be done by someone holding the proper priesthood authority and he then asked President Burke if he would do it.
He is going to be baptized this coming Saturday with our other two investigators.  We are so excited.

Donya and Lizzie were both sick with the flu this week-end so we weren't able to visit with them.  However as we checked in with them last night to finish up  the preparations for them, they were both much better and  are also eager to be baptized.  Donya's brother-in-law will baptize them and she asked Paul last night if he would confirm them. So things are moving right along.

Noel was in our Gospel Essentials class this week.  She said she had an appointment with the Jamestown Elders for Tuesday evening (last night) so we didn't try to teach her this weekend.  The Elders called us last night to report that they had taught the plan of salvation and that she has committed to baptism for the 1st week in March.  She will be coming to observe the baptism on Saturday.

We have enjoyed so much serving in the Fredonia Branch.  It has been a thrill to be a part of these good people accepting the gospel and preparing for baptism.  We are so grateful for this experience.  Our temple president told us when he set us apart at the beginning of our mission, that even though it was a temple mission what we would remember most would be our experinces in the branch.  This has proven true.  Our experiences in the temple have been wonderful.  Our love for Heavenly Father has grown so deeply from our serving there each day.  But the joy we feel from helping these dear people in Fredonia learn about the gospel has been overwhelming.  We wish this mission didn't have to end, but we are ready to be coming  home.  Our mission has been perfect.  Hard, challenging, and perfect.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Great Missionary Weekend

New College Investigator
Last week-end we gave a ride to one of our college freshmen from Palmyra down to Fredonia.  School was starting again for them on that Monday, after their Christmas break.  He had been bringing his girlfriend out to church for about a month before the break, and we have been teaching her in the gospel essentials class.  We were thinking that she might be ready to start the missionary lessons if she was still interested in coming out to church.  We challenged him to ask her if she wanted to learn more about the church.  He was a little hesitant because he wasn't sure how she would respond, but agreed to ask her. 

This Sunday at church, he told us that she had said yes.    We  had an appointment to teach an 8 year old son of a member of the branch as well as her finace right after church.  That fell through because the son was ill yesterday.  The missionaries from Jamestown had come up to help us teach them, so we thought that if Noel was willing, we could give her the lesson instead.  Her boyfriend had an appointment with the branch president right after church, so she was just going to be sitting around waiting for him anyway.  She was happy to have something to do while she waited.  So we all went into a classroom  and we turned it over to the Elders.   It is fun to watch the young missionaries teach.  They have prepared so well and are very good at it.  They also know to bear testimony often and bring a great spirit.  She was ready, and is feeling the spirit as she learns.  It was a great first discussion and we finished about the same time Jeff finished his interview.  The branch president was getting him started on submitting his mission papers and he came out of the interview with a "Preach My Gospel" in his hand.  It was great!

  That make the 8th person we have been able to teach while in the Fredonia Branch.  We had six investigators and one recently activated member in our Gospel Essentials class yesterday.  If Melissa and her fiance had been there as well, we would have had to find a bigger room.  How blessed we have been!  And oh, how we will hate leaving Fredonia with so many good things happening now!

Baptismal Date Set

Later on we met with the mother and daughter we have been teaching, and finished the lessons with them.  The Elders came with us to their home also.  They had taught them last Thursday at her sister's home in Jamestown and were back to help plan a baptism.  We set a baptismal date for Feb. 11 at 3:30pm. They are excited to be baptized. Her sister and brother-in-law will come and be a part of it. They have set a great example for this family and that is why they are ready for baptism.
We are most grateful that we are getting the Jamestown Elders involved so that they can continue with these good people when we are gone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Special Day In The Temple

It Does Snow In Upstate New York
We had our first real snow storm last week.  We had about 6-9 inches over a 3 day period and actually had to delay going to the branch until Sunday morning because of lake effect snow at the branch.  It made our weekend very unproductive.  We were not able to visit anyone.  Until this week it has been the least snow here in many years.  We were 30 inches of snowfall behind the normal year.

Special Day In The Temple
This morning was a special day.  Normally the temple is closed Monday in the winter.  Today we had scheduled two families coming in around 9am to the baptistry.  We were able to do many family files there and had a great time with fathers and grandfathers doing the baptisms for their families.  A father baptized his wife and 3 children.  The grandfather baptized his 2 grandsons.

We also had an endowment session with about 33 people from a single ward in the district.  They were all soldiers and their wives from Ft Drum, east of Watertown.  Of course they were all young couples and there was a tremedous spirit with them.  Many of their spouses are currently deployed and most of them have been deployed in the Middle East multiple times.  It was an thrill and an honor to have them in the temple.

When the President schedules special sessions like this, it is the temple missionaries that staff the temple.  There were none of the local ordinance workers.  We have 6 temple missionary couples and it is just enough to do this kind of a day. None of us felt it was a sacrifice to lose our day off.  It was a priviledge to be there.  Much more fun than doing laundry.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Great Missionary Weekend

This was a great missionary weekend.  We taught Donya and her daughter the third missionary lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We taught faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost and committed them to baptism.  They will be deciding on the date this week.  Donya has a sister who is a member in another ward.  Her sister's husband will be baptizing them.  Her married daughter, who is living with them, with her husband and two children, is also interested in coming out to church.  We will be teaching the fourth lesson next weekend.

We taught a mother, and her boyfriend in our Gospel Essentials class and are going to start teaching the boyfriend and her 8 year old son the lessons.  The mother is a member of the Branch and is semi-active.  She works every other weekend as a nurse and comes sporadically on her off weekends.  Her son enjoys Primary and wants to be baptized but hasn't attended enough to understand the gospel basics.  She told her boyfriend that she won't marry him unless he joins the Church so he is somewhat interested in learning more about the Gospel as well.  He participated well in the class and seems open to learning more.  She works next weekend so we won't begin teaching them until the following week.

Our young college kids are on Christmas break for two more weeks.  We miss them.  We want to get started teaching one of their friends when they get back.  She has been ou to church for a number of weeks and has expressed a lot of interest.

We hope you all had a marvelous Christmas with your families and look forward to seeing you again in a couple of months.  It looks like we will be leaving here for home on Feb 19.  We will spend time in Detroit and Colorado Springs on the way home.  We should be home about the 25th or 26th.  We are concerned about leaving the branch.  There is so much that needs to be done and so little time.  We trust our replacements will be ready to go to work.  It will be very hard leaving.