It has definitely been a LOVE month here in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission! We have seen the love of our Savior in many of the events that have happened to us this month.
We CONTINUE to try to complete our security clearances to volunteer at WOMACK (the large military hospital here on the post.) We were under the understanding that we had completed everything, but not quite yet! We did finger printing, took some more tests, etc. Elder Wadley said that by the time we are finished with this, we could be qualified for the highest level of government security and trust!!
The hospital here is such a massive place, as is the post. We feel like we have managed to become familiar with maybe a third of the post. They are continually adding new eating places here on post and they are actually building a freeway that will run through the post with checkpoints at either end. That gives you an idea of it's immense size. What has been fun is finding where everyone in the Fort Bragg Military Ward lives here. As we come to a members home, we both look at each other and say, "oh we were just here the other day...Brother and Sister So and So live right across the street!!" That ALWAYS happens.
We continue to go out to Vass to the Young Singe Adult Branch President's home for Monday night Family Home Evening. Sister Wadley has helped furnish corn bread for chili night, baked potatoes for a potato bar, etc. It is always a really fun night and the attendance has steadily grown. The last one had about 28 people there. We usually take 2 or 3 of the soldiers out with us - brothers or sisters or both. We have a lesson for maybe 20 minutes, followed by a fun activity and then they usually all sit around and "talk military" or play board games, or just hang out and visit. This seems to be a time when they can take off their military uniform and just "veg" for a while with each other.
The branch has also been in charge of cleaning the stake center this month, so we have met each Saturday morning and worked for an hour or so. Many hands make light work! We keep stressing this at Family Home Evening! Last Saturday there were only 6 of us, so we worked a good 2 1/2 hours. But it's all for the good of the church and WE LOVE SERVING!
We have had a couple of our very young military men in the branch who have been struggling with depression and have been hospitalized for short periods of time. We are reaching out to them and having them over to eat and helping them to feel as much of a family environment as we can. They are just wonderful soldiers who are doing their part to protect our freedom. We admire and honor them.
We had Zone Training this month. We have a new Zone Leader, Elder Won (pronounced Wee On) from South Africa. What a spiritual giant! He and his companion, Elder Harper, from Orem, Utah taught us, as did all of the District Leaders. It was a very, very inspiring training session. They stressed the importance of faith in their tracting. Elder Harper made the comment that with President James (our mission president) telling the Elders and Sisters that they need to be out tracting from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., it is important to realize that if they are obeying their mission president and having the faith that thru their obedience, miracles will happen, they have been able to see miracles happen! As each of these young Elders and Sisters get up and teach and then bear their testimonies, it just gives Elder Wadley and me chills to see how they are filled with the spirit of missionary work. It is so obvious to us that they are truly IN THE LORD'S HANDS and ABOUT THE LORD'S WORK! They make us so proud to be a part of this work and so thankful for parents who have brought these fine young men and women up to become what they are today - true disciples of our Heavenly Father! It has made Elder Wadley and me realize that the home is truly the training ground for all that our youth will and CAN experience in their life when it comes to forwarding the work of the Lord at this time on the earth, and it can't start too early!
This month has brought a LOT of visits in the heavy rain and ice. There has only been 1 day that we haven't been able to get out and visit the members. Even when we come to their door and the weather is really bad, they invite us in with a warm welcome and we can enjoy each other's spirit and testimony.
We have also driven the Sister Missionaries to exchanges on several occasions and have been able to see other parts of our zone. Pinehurst is one area we have visited which is famous for having the US Open Golf Tournament there 2 years ago and several times before that. It is REALLY a beautiful city made up entirely of pristine golf courses surrounded by gated communities. The set of Sisters who work in this town, live with a doctor and his wife and their 7 children. There is a big hospital here called Moore Regional Hospital and most of the doctors there live in Pinehurst. It is very, very nice. Southern Pines is another beautiful city just 6 miles from Pinehurst. Again, many beautiful golf courses there. Carthage is another small city that the Sisters who serve in Southern Pines, also visit. It has a famous small restaurant there with a small landing strip right next to it where they have seen a Black hawk Helicopter land and all of the military in it come in for lunch and then get back in the helicopter and take off. It is literally right next to the landing strip and they just get out of their aircraft and walk into the restaurant! On our way back from visiting our daughter for our GRANDdaughter's birthday, we stopped and had lunch here, and it is just as everyone says...quaint and right on the landing strip! Besides that, the southern BBQ is out of this world! Very fun!
Here on Fort Bragg, we continually hear the Howitzer's being fired, along with all of the artillery. The C-130 and C-17 planes are constantly taking off and landing as they transport the parachute jumpers to their jumps, and then return for more. The young Sister and Elders are always asking us to take them out to the jump sites to watch a jump. It has been fun and very impressive to watch!
A new Senior Military Relations Missionary Couple joined us February 6th. They are in our District and serve in the Fayetteville 3rd Ward. They are Elder and Sister Low from Smithfield, Utah. What a great couple! He has served 34 years in the army, 18 of them active duty and the rest in the reserves. They went out to Camp MacKall the day after they arrived to help us present the Sacrament Meeting to the soldiers out their going thru the Special Forces Survival School. They were in awe of everything! One of the soldiers walked in with a huge gun on his shoulder and went to hug us and we sort of backed off and he chuckled and said, "oh here, let me lay this down first!" This is some of the things that happen to us out there! Chaplain Cottle, who facilitates our meetings out there, has a new assistant now from Brazil, Sargent Couto. We met him 2 weeks ago and he is really a nice soldier! He wants to make sure we have everything we need to hold our Sacrament Meetings. We went out with the Low's as well as the Nielson's who serve in the other stake here, on Sunday, the 14th. Elder Wadley and I gave talks that evening on...what else...LOVE! We had also been asked to speak by Bishop Hamner of the Fort Bragg Military Ward the day before because he hadn't gotten any speakers. Again...what did we speak on???...LOVE! It was a really nice day. We found out that since they have put Elder and Sister Wadley's names in out their as being registered to come through security, that we will always be the missionaries going out and the other 2 missionary couples can switch off or both can come along as they see fit. We will rotate the assignments out there pertaining to music, administration of the Sacrament and talks. It continues to be one of the real highlights of our mission! The soldiers have an hour reprieve from the very grueling, trying experience out there and they seem so happy to be in a "normal" setting for just that short period of time.
The Von Latta's called us and asked if we would like to go out to lunch with them! We were so happy. They are a less active couple in the Cameron Ward whom we have been able to form a really friendship with. We may have mentioned them before. They are the ones who were in the Air Force and stationed at the same base as us in England at the same time! We really have a fun time visiting with them about memories of England. Our hope is that we can get them out to church in the near future and enjoy the members there. We invited them over to dinner next week. We have a really fun time with them.
We continue to see success in visiting less active members and inviting them out to church. Sister Harriman, who we met when we first arrived in the Cameron Ward, has been coming out to church and her daughter, Melinda, who is active duty Army, has returned home from her deployment to Africa, and is coming to church with her too. This has been such a blessing to see! We continue to visit them and enjoy their friendship so much!
District Meetings always bring the spirit so strongly. One of them in February we discussed having the faith to knock on doors and convert souls. Sister Wadley gave a thought on faith from Matthew about the example of the savior in a boat with the disciples and a strong storm had flooded the boat, and they were about to sink. Jesus is asleep in the rear of the boat and his disciples ran to him and woke him up and ask Him what they should do. He answerd them by saying, ""Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the waves; and there was a great calm." Elder Wadley gave a thought on our purpose as a missionary, and our commission to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We were also taught from Matthew 18:12 and were reminded from this scripture that President James asks us to "get away from the 90 & 9 and FIND THE ONE." This was our challenge given to us when we entered the mission field and it has stayed with us and blessed our lives as we go out and "are about the Lord's work" daily.
We have had a couple of tornado scares this month. During one of them, we were just taking some soup over to a sister in the Fort Bragg Military Ward who had strep throat, and all the sirens on the post started going off and just then we had a big emergency ring on our cell phones in the car go off and the loud speakers on the post came on warning everyone to "take shelter immediately." We dashed back home and sat in the house and waited it out. Well...I should say Sister Wadley waited it out. Elder Wadley ventured out and looked at the sky. Very ominous! A tornado touched down 12 miles south of the post. We were talking about it afterwards, and the last time we remember being so close to a tornado was when Elder Wadley was going through pilot training in Enid, Oklahoma back in 1972 and a tornado touched down 5 miles from Vance Air Force Base. At that time, there were torrential rains, flooding, and 3 people died. We remember we were living in an apartment at the time in Enid. We hadn't yet moved onto the base, and the water came up to the very edge of the stepping threshold into our apartment. Flooding was all over the town. It was really horrible. These type of things we just don't experience out west. It definitely has kept us on our toes back here!
We got permission to take a quick day trip over to Charlotte to surprise our oldest GRANDchild, Kaylee, for her 14th birthday. We "kidnapped" her from her school with her mom and little sister, went to Olive Garden, played games, made cupcakes for her big party the next night, and just had a lot of fun. It was quick but so much fun! We feel so fortunate to be close enough to be able to see them as much as we can. Our daughter hadn't told anyone except our son-in-law that we were coming, so when our little 5 year old GRANDdaughter opened the door, she just screamed, "Grandma!!" and ran and hugged me! Talk about melting a Grandma and Grandpa's heart!
The last week of February found 3 sisters in the Fort Bragg Military Ward due to have their babies. They were all hoping for a "leap year baby!" As it turned out, 1 had hers February 26th and the other 2 within a couple of hours of each other on the 27th! Bishop Hamner announced in Sacrament Meeting that day that our ward had grown by 3 within the last 28 hours! How great! Sister Wadley's mom makes the cutest baby booties and has sent her some to give to those having babies, and they have loved them! Thank you, Mom, for all the time and effort AND LOVE that went into knitting them! They are truly appreciated!
The deployments continue and families are separated for long periods of time. The Fort Bragg Military Ward sisters have a Facebook page that Sister Wadley has joined in order to find out the comings and goings of families and where we might be of service. It has proved invaluable! They are SO good to look after each other! Case in point: One sweet sister texted that she was just running into the Commissary and wondered if she could maybe pick up some bread or milk for anyone...personally delivered! She had 3 sisters respond that it was perfect timing and if she could bring them a loaf of bread, etc. that would be so nice! Such things as this happen all the time here. Everyone realizes that everyone else is in the same boat, and THEY LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER. It is SO wonderful to see!! One sister with 5 little ones and having pneumonia herself, has her husband deployed for 6 months. A posting such as the one I mentioned could really help someone like her...and has! It's very special for us to witness this. True Christ-like love. This sweet sister who posted this is actually going to receive her endowment along with her husband next month and then have their 3 sweet children sealed to them a week later. We have been privileged to visit them and get to know them.
Another sister is heading down to the Columbia, South Carolina Temple to receive her endowment the first week in March. We have taught her all of the Temple Prep classes and she is ready! Likewise, we are teaching 2 other couples. They are so humble and so eager to get to the temple. They have given up a lot and have changed their lives entirely, in some instances, in order to have this blessing in their lives. It is so exciting to see them take the final ordinance steps in order to return once again to live with their Father in Heaven. What a blessing in our lives.
We have been thinking a lot lately about all of our many friends back home. There are way too many to mention personally, but you all know whom you are...AND WE LOVE YOU! Neighbors, old friends, lunch friends, temple friends, friends we have had for YEARS and still consider you are good friends...everyone. You may not hear from us, but you certainly are not forgotten. We think of you often and love you so!
Sister Wadley wants to end her portion of the blog by just listing a few of the wonderful things we hear at our District Meetings and around members all the time here in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. It gives us the strength and the desire to truly magnify our callings here and to further the work of the Lord:
- Always be at the edge of your seat with BOLDNESS - BE ENGAGED!
- Before asking inspired questions, we have to LISTEN.
- Listen + The Spirit + Love + Questions = CONVERSION
- Don't ever ask questions that have yes or no answers or do's or don'ts. Ask though-provoking questions: "What is your relationship with Jesus Christ?"
- Get away from the 90 & 9 and FIND THE ONE.
- We teach with the spirit. We don't know what we will find, but as we have the spirit, we will be helped.
- Help the members have good experiences with missionary work.
- Faith is a principle of action; fear is the absence of action and power.
- Work like it's all up to you, pray like it's all up to God!
- Align our will with our Heavenly Father's in helping our investigators get to the temple.
- We extend commitments to help our investigators.
- Teach repentance and baptize.
- Make sure members are grounded in the gospel.
- Make a legacy on your mission - make it a legacy for good.
- A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you're not going to get anywhere with it, so why have it?
- When we truly understand the atonement of Jesus Christ, then we can share the gospel with others.
- We can keep the faith, serve God, and not worry.
- Comparison is the thief of happiness.
- Our vision should be to make the temple a focus, just like we do baptism.
As I close this February Blog, it is my humble prayer that each one reading this will know of our sincere love for you and our hope that you are doing well in your individual life. We know the challenges this life brings and the many heartaches, set-backs, disappointments, etc. that it brings with it, but we also know that if we will hold steadfast to all that we know is true - the gospel of Jesus Christ, learn of Him and teach what we have learned to all of His children, the world can become a better place in which to live. How grateful we are for this very special opportunity in our life to serve our Heavenly Father on a full-time basis and give our all to bringing others to Christ. By so doing, we have been able to see blessings in the lives our our children and GRANDchildren that might not have come to them, had we not heeded the call to serve. For this and everything else that comes from a loving Heavenly Father, I am eternally grateful.
Sister Wadley continues to keep an excellent record. I'm grateful for her love and faithfulness. My thought on our missionary purpose was from page 1 in Preach My Gospel. It shows a drawing of Dan Jones, "one of the greatest missionaries in this dispensation, preaching the gospel in Wales." From the April 2010 Friend Magazine, we learn in an article by Chad E. Phares that, "Dan Jones visited Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail the day before the Prophet was killed by a mob. During the visit, Joseph Smith told Dan Jones that he would serve as a missionary in Wales. During Dan Jones's four years in Wales, more than 3,000 converts were baptized." Preach My Gospel tells us that our commission is also to teach people the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel, "as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith will bless their families, meet their spiritual needs, and help them fulfill their deepest desires." Sister Wadley and I add our testimonies that this is true and send you our love and prayers.