April 22nd, 2015
Dearest Mother, Father and all else,
It is Bitter sweet because I love my family and friends and am excited to see you all again. Along with moving forward and progressing in my own life, the very way I have been teaching people to progress in their life for the last year. But it is bitter because this is a unique life experience and as preach my gospel says there is nothing that brings greater satisfaction than this work.
But really I thought I would be a bigger deal for me to reach my year mark, but it has been really just in passing, I have seen where I was and where I am now and feel that I am right on track, beyond my own expectations but exactly where heavenly father wants me to be by the end of my mission...In turn, I am not counting down the days but I am also looking forward and am going to keep moving forward. I don't feel I have "missed" any of my mission, I fail and try daily but I love my savior and I want to do better and what I fail and try at today is not what I failed and tried at in the beginning and what I fail and try at the end of my mission will not be the things I fail and try at now...Because I am learning, progressing, succeeding and mastering, just as heavenly father's great plan of happiness and salvation intended me to...above all now more than anytime before in my mission I can say I am exactly obedient, and I don't feel I have lost who I am, but really learned who I am...the biggest key to obedience and access to the power of heaven is attitude and love, I am not perfect but I strive for excellence, I fail in ways that I don't realize at first but correct them when I do...the biggest change in me has been my desire. I want to be and do what heavenly father wants me to do because I love him and know he loves me and the blessings he wants to give me are great!. So great in-fact, that he sent his son Jesus Christ; so I could, fail and try, learn, progress, succeed, and master...Then move on and learn what is next for me that heavenly father wants to teach me.
Because of the Atonement no failure ever needs to be final, but we (I) need to try my very best, because sincerely trying and doing all that we can do, brings forth grace and the power of heaven which brings success and mastery!
How wonderful is this message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, powered and driven my love of an exemplar and savior, who I look to for my salvation and progress, Jesus the Christ, the living son of God, who I love and am eternally grateful for.
West Virginia Charleston Mission
Lewisburg is on top of their lamp post banners they change just about every week, but this week they were WVSOM (West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine) where we have spent a good deal of time, teaching and working with investigators and members who are students.
Spring has also been stunning here...this was photos from our walk-n-talk in downtown Lewisburg a regular activity for us, just after president and sister Salisbury left for Charleston, Lewisburg and WSS are wonderful and have been here now 4 months it is difficult for people not to call upon us by name as we walk by, we have become a welcome staple of the city and I am able to call back to most people by name as well it is a genuine feeling of welcome, and inclusion, it has also lead to people recognizing us as servants of the lord and out of no where asking us the questions they have "always had" know that they know us.
Spring in Downtown Lewisburg
President and Sister Salisbury came to town for interviews with us and the L's with just our area because we are so far from the rest of the District and Zone, they also took time for lunch in Lewisburg and because it was just us we hosted the interviews at our apartment (which is on the second floor on the left side.) I love our neighborhood, it also the first time in my mission I have had grass near my apartment, and it grows like mad here, they have to mow it twice a week to keep it under control, no sprinkling system necessary, but I figure in what we spend it watering our lawns in Utah they spend double in gas keeping the grass cut here. President said our apartment was surely one of the best if not the best in the mission. It should also be noted that we discovered that their is a less-active part-member family that lives in the yellow house on the left behind us who we met actually in WSS following a series of promptings which lead us to a home a good distance out of the city and she was watching her grand kids there, wonderful new family in our view. and the brown house behind us on the right just became investigators this past week when we were walking past and they were outside. All of our neighbors either work for The Greenbriar or are students at WVSOM
more in part 2
To give you an idea of the size of the area and wss ward. it is 70-80 miles across
Green grass equals a lot of rain...this is the road up to J. C.'s home.
If anyone didn't know it already, my mom is the pretty dang cool! this was on the step when we arrived with President and Sister Salisbury...they loved my moms creativity as well It arrived after three weeks in the mail system but once it got the Lewisburg the post office knew it was for the missionaries.
We started to get a little low on food this week so we resorted to eating the a couple of the MRE the national guard had given to us during the water crisis back in January...after this on Sunday a couple of 25$ gift cards to Walmart showed up on our windshield after church, the lord takes care of his servants and the L's sent us away with a good amount of left overs as usual:)
The man above is J. B., he was one of our contacts from the Newspaper about the chocolate festival and the other photo is the stuff I was able to find with him and our ward family history consultant filling in the missing link in his family tree...it was really neat and man this man is full of amazing and great stories.
A. is back! As well and after two almost three months with no drains all new plumbing was installed and it works great. Along with getting insulation in his attic.
We showed A. Meet the Mormons introduction in times square and it was the perfect laugh and glue to get him going again and earlier this week we had a really awesome lesson about priesthood authority...The Bible is true also and I know the church is true from this lesson as well as it just supports everything the church is founded upon and The Book of Mormon.
Dearest AllI am so full of love, this week at church as I walked around the building, I just felt a click within myself that I haven't felt before in my mission of not just serving in a ward but really being a part of the White Sulphur Springs ward. I feel that I know and genuinely love the members and they know and love me, I fell the unity and with it members have become more excited and included in the work. I love it here.
The chocolate festival was a smashing success. We served 600+ Chocolate chip cookie brownie bites, which sold out with-in two hours of the festival beginning. Never the less we were kept busy with a consistent steady flow of festival goers coming in and getting a "taste of their family history" from the start to end of the festival there was not one single break in people. which is one of the miracles that we all were so full of energy and not hungry the entire time regardless of not having time to eat lunch or taking a moment to sit down. The spirit and excitement of it all provided the energy we needed and more.
I was amazed at how effective the newspaper article was that a significant number of people had actually read it and came to the festival for it.
The space we had arranged to host us for the chocolate festival was the perfect space right at the heart of the festival, the Ls' provided us use of their Tablets which we, using the wifi were able use familysearch.org, with the name and date of an ancestor able to find documents and photos for festival goers who came in to get "a taste of family history"
We had prayed that from this event we would find 3 new investigators and 3 families set up to have us come to their home to help us find more. the first of which our return appointment with them is tonight, we are very excited.
The ward was pleased with and I think it surpassed their expectations. and again inspired the ward with excitement to see what is possible! Bishop T in our ward council meeting the next day said "thank you for how well you have represented the members of the ward here."
The city organizers and planners of the festival said that they hope for our return next year and had people mention how is was a great addition to the festival to provide family history. It was a grand day in Lewisburg. the weather was fantastic and the spirit of Elijah was so enlightening to see new people just light up as they see something with their family's name on it and then ask what more can you find. In addition to all the non-members we were able to invite, but also a less -active member sister F has been a key factor in the expertise in the event she had helped us prepare and train us in family search weeks ahead and the day of the festival she was there all day with her computer, basically what would happen is Elder Sawyer and I would fish for people with the 2-3 minute find a document approach then when they wanted to search more on the spot we handed them over to sister ford who sat down with them at a desk and they searched. The Ward members who came all greeted this missed sister with great big hugs and warm hearts. Sister F is on her way to her return to activity surely.
My only regret from the chocolate festival is that I wish we had incorporated Because He lives more. I will be putting together instructions and contacts, for how to participate next year and our participation is hoped for again next year and our spot will be reserved.
Sorry for the length of this letter president but the chocolate festival was not the most exciting thing of the week.
Remember the G family? I told you the spirit lead us in a faith filled tract, who is a professor at the Medical school.
We returned to teach them yesterday and it was the most Ideal lesson of my mission, it was simple and both Husband and Wife with children were engaged and asked inspired questions, the spirit was entirely present, We brought along a Member Friend, which was perfect. Brother G and Brother M (member) work very close to each other. Brother M told us a little more that we didn't know about the G family, who had recently left their former church, and recently lost an extended family member, which confirmed our inspiration to teach the plan of salvation. They were sincere and genuine in their questions and followed along in their scriptures and simply saying I just never understood that before. After we taught the plan of salvation the spirit said now tell them why we know this is the plan of our heavenly Father and we followed up with a short but powerful testimony of the restoration and the Book of Mormon and from their there wonderful questions just kept coming, about the Book of Mormon and about the church including a commitment to come to church when their daughter who returns from Marshall university in a couple weeks. We started mentioning the other members who work at the medical school with him to which the husband said "No way them too" with excitement. This family is ideal example of the elect and a testament to the statement that there are those who are ready but no not the truth only because they know not were to find it. This lesson and miracle family are a product of faith and Preach My Gospel preparation, faithful obedience out of love for the savior and this family. We are seeking the lord for a baptism date to invite them for on our next visit with a member with the G's.
This is my testimony that the lord is Hastening his work, and this work is true...I just simply in the an indescribable way I felt and instant genuine connection with the Griffith family, they are wonderful and I love them and love the lord for trusting us to teach his happy elect children in this family.
the week had so much more to tell but I would be writing for hours so I will leave it with this, we found another 3 new investigators this week all through seeking the guidance of the spirit. We also had 3 Less-active members at church, and a long time part member family has really connected with us and "the Gz family loves you" and are asking for us to come to their home more often.
Here is the Newspaper article in the Mountain Messenger.
This is a painting at the Visitors Center in Lewisburg gearing up for the chocolate festival, I am pointing to our location to give you an idea of how ideal our host location was, and A huge thank you to Stone Hill Reality for hosting us. Phyllis Tuckwiller the owner was a lot of fun and a huge hoot! Thank you Phyllis, I was also amazed at how her good reputation preceded her as we invited people everyone knew who she was.
In order to participate we had to provide a minimum of 500 chocolate tastings, our tasting was a Gourmet Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie with a Chocolate Gnash topping. We in total had about 650 tastings...this is me after baking from 1-9pm at the Z house which we turned into our Heath Department approved kitchen, I have never washed my hands so many times before in my life. when it was all said and done...someone asked me if it was worth it, and after the festival I said with out hesitation that yes it was...as it says in Preach my Gospel there is no greater work that brings greater satisfaction.
An early but gorgeous morning the next day after moving all the tastings, tables and displays into the stone hill office the the night before, which Phyllis was nice enough to trust us with a key to the office and after the Chocolate Chase 5k and 10K that morning, which brought me back to running events with my mom. the street closed and chocolate overtook the city.
our tower of tastings...our tasting was actually a favorite and we sold out in a couple hours...but remained busy through the entire day with family history seekers.
one of the displays put together with the help of ward members...the blue board on the floor is some of the stuff found by our own families and sister F from family search. She even found three photographs from three generations back on my king side...look Grandpa your photo in on the board.
The other display with family history Mormon messages playing and the family Proclamation
more in part 2
doors open lets get started.
line was out the door and in the street a ways.
Elder Sawyer and sister L keeping busy keeping tastings on the table. Elder L was the server.
while sister F and I served up the tasting of family history technology is really an amazing tool in this work. It really took just 2-3 minutes to find something with anyone's family on it. it was amazing.
Sister F did sit down help sessions with the people who wanted more on the spot.
It was really a streamlined and well run event.
Keeping busy...the woman in the white shirt with sunglasses is Phyllis Tuckwiller...again great woman, a lot of fun.
With the wifi and the tablet I was able to get out on the street and find family history for festival goers on the street...love Lewisburg
Take a look around the festival
well over 5,000 people attended to eat 43,780 tastings...each tasting ticket was purchased online or at city hall for 1.00 and the proceeds all went to United Way of The Greenbriar Valley
Lewisburg really is "the Coolest Small town in America" (with the exception of Moab) but that is what Lewisburg reminds me of.
when it was all over...we at last took a sit down and thanked heavenly father for how amazing the day was and how well everything went.
At the little "after party" at Harmony Ridge Gallery the festival organizers thanked us and set up to reserve our space for next year. again it was a great success for both us and the festival and they are excited for our return next year.
More tastings Next Year! It was a Smashing Success!
more in part 4
After learning that there was some Lucas (from the Blood Family) family history in WSS and asking around a bit I found the cemetery...it was a beautiful Sunday with a few minutes to spare before our lunch appointment we decided to find it and found this beautiful view of our little White Sulphur Springs below....spring has turned our area into a sight to see it is gorgeous here in the Mountains of Southern West Virginia.
Love you all