HAPPY MARCH EVERYONE!
Elder Wadley and I just realized that we will be serving our mission for 1 year and 1 day...IT'S LEAP YEAR!!!
On the 5th of March, we called our GRANDson, Luke, and wished him a happy 8th birthday. That's right - 8 years old! We feel so bad we won't be there for his baptism, but feel SO THANKFUL that he has decided to take this important step in his life. He was going to be baptized on his birthday, but our son, Luke's dad, had surgery and so it is postponed until March 26th, when the rest of the stake will be doing their baptisms. Our son, David, and his family, and hopefully our daughter, Jennifer, and her family will be traveling over to honor him on this special occasion. We have 13 GRANDchildren and Luke will be the 6th to be baptized. What a very proud time for his parents and us! Congratulation Luke! Another 10 years and you will be serving our Heavenly Father as a full time missionary. We have one more member of our family with a birthday in March. Michael will turn 37 on the 28th. We can't think of a better birthday present for you than to baptize your oldest son! Congratulations.
Sister Marriott of the General Young Women Presidency of the Church came to Charlotte, N.C. to our daughter's stake center for a tri-stake work day and fireside. Our daughter said it was wonderful! Our GRANDdaughter, Kaylee, was asked to give the closing prayer at the fireside Sunday evening. What an honor! She was so excited. Way to go Kaylee!
Sara, our 12 year old GRANDdaughter skyped with us and showed us her certificate for making the Honor Roll at her school! How wonderful, Sara! We are so proud of you! David and Leticia's boys have started baseball. Oh how we will miss going to all the games this year! We'll make up for it next year. Jennifer and Josh's kids are starting swim team and swimming lessons now. Wow, busy busy! It won't be long before school will be out for the summer. It doesn't seem possible.
We have had some very wonderful experiences this past month on our mission. We finished the Temple Prep lessons with Sister Thompson and she traveled to the Columbia, South Carolina Temple on the 12th of March to receive her endowment. Our last couple of lessons with her were so spiritual. We felt the spirit so strong and many tears and hugs were given as she prepared to enter the temple. We would have loved to go with her, but it is out of our area and Columbia is where she is from so she wanted to receive her endowments in that temple. Sister Wadley was able to find her a white handkerchief to take with her. She smiled and said, "no one has ever given me a hankie!" This will be such a blessing in her life. She has many friends here in the Fort Bragg Military Ward who will travel with her to the Raleigh temple. We are so very happy for her!
We are continuing to teach the Montanez'. The have had 2 Temple Prep lessons and are so excited to finish and go to the temple. Another couple who have already had all of the lessons are preparing to go to the temple in a couple of weeks.
We had a really fun Senior Missionary Temple Trip and potluck on the 12th of March up in Raleigh. Elder Wadley and I attended the 10:30 a.m. session and then we all met over at the stake center next to the temple and enjoyed each other's company while we feasted on yummy yummy food with a pot luck lunch! Afterwards, we headed to Costco to do some shopping and have the tires rotated. That evening we attended and convert baptism at Cameron Ward for Brother and Sister Needham's son-in-law. Elder Rose got to come back from his area to be at the baptism. It was so much fun to see him again! He and Elder Hancock were the missionaries who taught him the gospel. What a special ordinance to witness. We felt so happy for him. They are due to have their first child in June, so this was just a very special time in their life. The baptism was very well attended and the Elders from the Fayetteville 3rd Ward brought an investigator along to witness it. Hopefully, this will lead to his baptism in the near future!
Brother Beldsoe, the Fort Bragg Ward Mission Leader has been deployed, so he was released and the Assistant Ward Mission Leader, Brother Robison, was called as the new Ward Mission Leader. He will be awesome! We have Ward Missionary Correlation Meetings over to his house or at our house every Sunday evening, unless we are out at Camp MacKall.
Cameron Ward is losing THE ENTIRE WARD it seems like! Not really, but there are many PCSing in the next few months. We will lose Brother Wagner, the Ward Mission Leader. He and Sister Wagner are PCSing to Alaska. The Young Men President, Brother Storrs, and Sister Storrs got a house on Fort Bragg so a new Young Men President was called on the 6th. It is Brother Tilley, who will be awesome! They have just the sweetest family! Fort Bragg Military Ward is really lucky to have the Storrs move in! They will be put to good use. The Ward Clerk is also PCSing. He has been so great in furnishing us with new move-in rosters every month! He will be missed! There are several others leaving. Others will come to replace them. In fact, 3 new families had their records read in on the 6th. When one door closes, another opens. The Lord always provides a way.
On March 12, 2016 Elder Wadley attended the monthly baptisms for the Cameron Ward. Unfortunately, Sister Wadley had the flu and was unable to attend. The 2 twin boys of Brother and Sister Brown were baptized by their father and they asked Elder Wadley to confirm them. This was such a special time because we have been working for a long time with this sweet family, trying to get them out to church.
We should back track a bit and let you know of our March, 2016. Sister Wadley came down with a real nasty cold on February 29th (perfect LEAP YEAR treat!) She suffered with it for a good 8 days. It brought on a fever and lots of coughing, etc. She got over it by about the 10th day and about 4 days later, she got hit badly with the flu. She got so dehydrated that she had to go to Womack Hospital on post and have 2 bags of IV fluid pumped into her. That lasted for at least another week. She was very weak and just rested at home. Elder Wadley pretty much catered to her and stayed with her. Every so often he would run with the Elders to visit someone. Needless to say, from February 29th to about March 21st, we were pretty much out of the loop with sickness. Elder Wadley ended up getting a cold too, but luckily, didn't get the flu. There has been a lot of the flu going around here lately. Elder Wadley was able to work on our report for Salt Lake City. It's always fun to go back through our notes for the month to see the contacts we have made and the special things that have transpired while here on our mission. We both hope we are DONE with sickness for the remainder of our mission! It is an awful feeling not being able to go out and work like we have for the past 6 months. The Lord has blessed us to recover and get on with His most important work! How thankful we are.
On the 29th of March, our daughter, Kathryn, brought our 3 grandchildren over for a spring break visit. What a fun time we had! We were still able to make appointments we had made, go to our District Meeting, and accompany the Elders to visit Sister Felton, who they have been teaching for the past month. We were able to go to a few children's movies with them. We took them to the nice playground on the post and Aaron and Bekah LOVED throwing pine cones into the 2 waterfalls from the lake, and then hurrying over to the other side of the bridge to see them go down the stream. They also fed the ducks, played in the sand and on the playground equipment and had such a fun time. They all accompanied Grandma and Grandpa on our morning and evening walks. Bekah was running to keep up with Aaron and fell down and skinned her knees pretty badly. They loved helping grandma make waffles with syrup and whip cream and chocolate chips on them. Sister Wadley surprised Kathryn and her granddaughter, Kaylee (14) and took them to lunch at Mrs. Lacy's Magnolia House in Sanford, N.C. They loved it! We all even ordered a different dessert each and tried a bite of each others and ended up taking the rest home for the family to enjoy! Elder Wadley took the 2 younger ones to McDonald's to eat and play and then to shop for things they liked at the Dollar Store. We finished the day with pedicures and manicures for all 3 of us! What a fun, fun time we all had.
We were so saddened to hear of the defacing of the Meridian Idaho Temple. We drove past it before coming out on our mission. Another beautiful House of the Lord! There will always be those who try to disrupt the Lord's work, but the work will go on and the gospel will be spread across the face of the earth.
We are SO looking forward to General Conference and hearing from our Prophet. We will be having a few of the Young Single Adults to our home on Saturday to watch conference and have a nice lunch together. Speaking of the Young Single Adults, we were able to attend Family Home Evening last Monday out at President and Sister Dickerson's home and a Hawaiian investigator, Poi, who has been investigating the church and being taught by the Zone Leaders here, announced that he is getting baptized! Wow! What a wonderful blessing! We had 28 Young Single Adults out to Family Home Evening and it grows by the week! There were even men there who are here temporarily - one working for Vivent and has been installing security systems in homes in Pine Hurst and will be going back home to Orem in a week or so to help his parents move and then will spend his summer installing in California. Another man is here at Fort Bragg for a month from the Utah National Guard at Camp Williams. They both have been active members while they are here temporarily. Each week we have a wonderful dinner Sister Wadley helps Sister Dickerson prepare. Afterwards, we have a short lesson by one of the YSA members. Then someone plans a fun activity. It's always a great time!
A Young Single Adult, Laura Wheat, a convert of almost a year, invited Elder and Sister Wadley over to her apartment on post for Easter Dinner. There were 10 YSA members there. We brought eclairs and lots of different ice cream. She made lamb, 2 different kinds of potatoes, 2 different kinds of vegetables, a relish tray, deviled eggs, rolls, and gravy. It was delicious. We then watched "Easter Parade" with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Laura is an old-fashioned girl at heart! She and Sister Wadley get along so well because they both enjoy the same "old fashioned movies!" She is a Captain in the Army and has deployed for a month now and Elder and Sister Wadley are watering her plants for her while she is gone. She is the only member in her family and apparently, her parents aren't happy about here joining the church. She has told us that she searched and searched for meaning in her life and when she was introduced to the church, she KNEW that this is what she had been missing in her life. She said she wasn't an "easy" investigator for the missionaries. She asked hundreds and hundreds of questions. She still continues to have lengthy discussions with us, but is such a sweet, sweet soul and has such a strong testimony!
The day of the General Relief Society Meeting was a great day! Not only were we so spiritually fed, but we had one of our grandsons baptized a member of the church on that day! Michael and Mandi's boy, Luke, turned 8 and was baptized by his father. His uncle, our son - David, and his family went to Springfield, Oregon to take part in the baptism. Uncle David gave a talk on Baptism and it was a really nice event. They said there were 2 others getting baptized that day as well. We skyped with Luke and he showed us his brand new scriptures he got. His parents gave him a Bible, Grandma and Grandpa Wadley gave him his Triple Combination, and Great Grandma Manning gave him his small hymn book. All of them had his name engraved on them. Our future missionary is all ready to go!
We think and look at our pictures we have around of all of our awesome children, their awesome spouses and our VERY awesome GRANDchildren and are continually thanking our Heavenly Father for blessing us so much. We are forever in debt to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ for their deep and abiding love for us, for their guidance and for each of them loving us, in spite of our shortcomings.
One very spiritual meeting we have been able to experience during this month was when we traveled with the Elders to visit sister Felton, who is investigating the church. Her husband, Ghostdog (yes, that is is REAL name!) is a less active member. She was born and raised in Ogden, Utah. She said she always lived near members there. She had been having some of the lessons with the prior Senior Missionaries who served in the Cameron Ward. Elder Wadley had gone on one visit with the Elders when Sister Wadley was sick with the flu. We both have accompanied them on 2 different occasions now. The first time we went, Sister Felton was telling us about how she had to call the police to accompany her to help get her husband out of a drug house he was in. She said after it was all done, and she really was able to get him out, she has kept telling herself, "I really did it and I know I really did it because of God's help." Everything she has told us about her difficult life, she has always finished by saying, "I have just trusted in God to get me through it." She has a son in prison for murder. She has had people walk by her house with Ku Klux Klan robes on and threaten her and her family (they are an African American family.) Through it all, she has kept the faith and knows that she is indebted to God for getting her through all of these trials.
As she was speaking, Sister Wadley was so impressed by the faith she has and thought about the Young Women song by Janice Kapp Perry - "I Walk By Faith." She made a copy of the words for her and played it on You Tube and she and Sister Felton sang it together after her lesson. They both had tears in their eyes when they were finished and hugged each other for a long time! Sister Wadley told her that the words in this song reminded her of Sister Felton and the faith she has had to get her through all the trials in her life. She told us that she knows she needs to become a member of the church and is continuing her lessons and trying to overcome some habits she has formed. She is always in our prayers and our fast.
We have been accompanying the Cameron Elders quite a bit the latter part of this month as they teach lessons or just fellowship members. They have called and asked us if they could accompany us as well. On one particular occasion, the Elders had received a call from the Elder's Quorum President about a family who needed some help. Elder Wadley and I knew the family quite well because the father received a bad brain injury while working for Com Cast in Utah and has continual migraines. He is unable to work. He stays home with the 3 children (7, 5 3) and his wife is a full time medical student (1st year) and has 2 part time jobs. Sister Caswell had passed out while they were playing games with the Elder's Quorum President and his wife. They called an ambulance and she was hospitalized. She had a grand mal seizure and they can't find any reason for it - except stress. It is no wonder with everything she has on her plate! Elder Wadley gave her a blessing with one of the young Elder's and they told us that Brother Caswell had to fly to Salt Lake City to testify at his trial for his injury. Sister Caswell's mother was able to fly out from California and help the family while he was gone. The ward furnished meals Elder Wadley and I were able to go over and visit with Sister Caswell when she came home from the hospital. She seems to be doing alright, but is way behind on her school work and is just doing it from home. The college here videos each class and so she is able to watch it at home. This has been such a trying time for them. They are just trying to keep things together until they hear about the outcome of the court case. Through it all, they still express such appreciation to everyone for all the help they have been given and Brother Caswell has made the comment on several occasions that they are sure the Lord is aware of their circumstances and knows their needs. Again, just like Sister Felton, they have such faith! These are the people who Elder Wadley and Sister Wadley are having the privilege of rubbing shoulders with here in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. These are the people who are building our testimonies so, so much. These are the people who know there is someone whom they can rely on to get them through these earthly trials. We have grown to respect them and to love them so very much.
We need to mention one other very faith-promoting story that happened here. Brother Wood, who teaches out at Camp MacKall and who we drive out with, usually goes out into the field once a week and takes the Sacrament to the soldiers out there going thru the very rigorous courses out there. He told us that one particular day, he wasn't scheduled to teach. He said that that was a day where he could go out into the field and provide the Sacrament. He said he decided that he had so much studying to do (he is trying to finish his Bachelor's Degree) that he would just skip it. As the time went on, something just kept nagging at him to get out to Camp MacKall and take the Sacrament out to the soldiers. He said he got in his car and headed out there. He said when he got there, he realized he had everything he needed EXCEPT some bread. As he was walking back to get in his car, thinking "at least I tried," he said he looked down and there on the ground was an unopened MRE pouch. He bent down and picked it up, opened it and inside were some crackers that he could use for bread. He took it, returned to where he would head out to the field. He took the Sacrament out there and there were several members so very thankful that they were able to partake of it. They are under such stress out there and to just have "a little bit of home" means EVERYTHING to them. What an inspiring story of how the Lord takes care of those who serve Him. The Lord knew there were soldiers out there, having a very difficult time, and He, as only He can do, made it possible for the Sacrament to be taken to them to fill them with that spiritual strength they needed to get through this course. These type of spiritual experiences happen all the time out here in the mission field. Elder Wadley and I take none of them for granted, nor treat any of them any less than what they truly are - the intervention of the Lord in helping His work to go on. How our testimonies have been strengthened on our mission! We will be forever grateful to the Lord for allowing us to experience these in our lives.
We are FINALLY full-fledged Red Cross Volunteers at WOMACK on post! Hooray! We have our vests, our badges, and are ready to go. We will be working on Wednesday afternoons, taking carts around to the patients with snacks, video games, movies, books, etc. Our service will be to try to make them as comfortable as possible during their stay in the hospital.
As March comes to a close, the Montanez' only have 1 Temple Prep lesson remaining. They will be PCSing (permanent change of station!) to the Pentagon in June. Sister Thompson, who we taught the Temple Prep lessons to, called us and said that her endowment at the Columbia South Carolina Temple was beautiful and she wants to go to the Raleigh Temple with us. We will plan a time to do that. We are also beginning to teach 2 couples in the Cameron Ward, the Wightman's and the Holt's. President James continually tells the mission that "we don't think in terms of baptisms, we think in terms of "getting them to the temple." This gives us such a wonderful goal to work towards as we go into the homes of these wonderful members and teach them. Brother Wightman was able to bless their baby this month and he asked Elder Wadley to stand in the circle. Brother Wightman teaches the Special Forces and they will be returning to Colorado Springs in November and want to be sealed in the Raleigh Temple before heading back out west. Sister Wightman has been a member about a year and a half. They are a wonderful couple!
As we begin the last half of our mission, we feel like we have just gotten started with all of the work there is to do. We feel a true sense of urgency! We have both commented that if WE feel this urgency, imagine how our Heavenly Father feels! His love for us is never ending. We thank Him every day for this really extraordinary opportunity we have at this stage in our lives to serve Him and to grow to love those we serve here in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. We pray that whoever reads our blog, will be able to receive the same wonderful "spiritual high" that we are experiencing now in our lives. There is nothing in the world that can compare to it. We are truly, truly blessed.