Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015

Dearest All

The two big highlights from the week

Civil Dealings - I was so pleased with the excitement from the ward when they learned of our booth up at the Roanoke Star, the bishop was especially excited and asked the ward to volunteer time to come and join us at the star, which 10 families signed up for various times to join us in sharing the Christmas Spirit with their fellow citizens of Roanoke.

At the beginning of the week we received permission from the Roanoke City Parks and Recreation Department to set up at the star...then a couple days later we received another phone call, informing us that we could not do that and proselyting in the parks was against the city's rules and ordinances. Confused I, thought that was strange and seemed a little off-color and limiting of the freedom of religion, so I took some time to read up on the freedom of religion in the public square on LDS.org and Mormon Newsroom. After learning a bit more about the topic and following the council from the prophet and various other apostles who all were in harmony in the message of "be civil" and "stand-up for these precious rights".

The next step we took was to learn the city's official policy so we went the city clerk's office, the staff was very helpful and pointed us to a city ordinance which in short said: We should be able to set-up a booth and express our views in public places in the city so long as we notify the city of our time and location we intend to be there. The city clerk recommended we see the city attorney to verify the interpretation of the ordinance. The city attorney was my favorite, very kind man and was a perfect help. We shared with him our full intentions and plans, and our concern. We told him we are happy to go through any permits and processes to get permission along with examples of similar events in previous cities in Kentucky and West Virginia.

The next day he called us and informed us that we would be able to proceed with our plans and directed us to the personnel we would need contact to get an assembly permit, (to be on the safe side since we intend to set-up a table and such) and also that regular proselytizing (walking-and-talking) is indeed permitted at anytime in the parks and city public spaces (sidewalks etc.) The city attorney was very pleased and mentioned his gratitude in our approach. He cleared everything up with the parks and recreation department mentioned he was grateful we do what we do.

Dickens of a Christmas - Smashing success, the Christmas spirit was well and alive and the people of Roanoke gladly welcomed us in brining the true meaning of Christmas to this incredible event, the night was full of singing and service, and countless opportunities to share the restored gospel many of which were captured. The zone leaders ended up being stuck in traffic and were an hour late and asked Elder Numbers and I (both former zone leaders) to get the zone organized and where we needed to be at the various tasks the city had. It was great to get everyone going, it felt like Lagoon again or Disneyland the streets were closed and the shops decorated it felt just like a theme park atmosphere, they even had a whole cast of actors in turn of the century clothes going around spreading Christmas cheer, with various acts and such.

We searched out the possibility of hosting our own A Savior is Born booth, but all the booth spaces were full and the retailers to busy to fit another group. However for next week we have two options we discovered that we will look into one is to rent a parking space (I noticed a hot dog stand who did something similar) in a lot right where the line for carriage rides forms and a good number of the zone was helping group people and assist in loading and unloading carriages and singing Christmas carols with the crowd in line (well over 100 people) then talking with the most noticeable participants which were usually families with small children between intervals. It would be a perfect fit, we will be getting in touch with the parking company this week to try to get this arranged.

Also we are gaining a teaching pool! I am so excited for C. and her husband, who were the worlds greatest media referral! Asking for a Book of Mormon, when we came to the door she said "I wanted to read it first to see if I want to join the church, I have met several Mormons and they are all so nice and happy" We shared short restoration lesson and she wanted to get right into reading so we arranged to follow-up next week...We are both praying fervently and all our hope for this young couple. So grateful for this referral and certainly feel blessed by it and this amazing opportunity and am so grateful for the members who were examples in living and sharing the gospel without words.

Love Elder Wheeler

Roanoke sights and Lights
Dickens of a Christmas...part 1 Dickens of a Christmas attracts thousands from all over the state and even into West Virginia...and is every Friday Night in December before Christmas.
The Carriage and Carol Crew
Sunset from a beautiful neighborhood up the road from us on Yellow Mountain, we tracted yesterday afternoon.

Our Christmas Card...This was Elder Bosen, Elder McClune, Elder Blake and I following the Christmas Devotional and Dinner at the Hodge Home.

Love yins
Elder Wheeler
-ART

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