We have received some wonderful feedback from friends and family about how uplifting our blog has been for them. This is one of our main goals. We read the article in the April, 2016 Ensign about the great need for senior missionaries. We couldn't agree more! The article highlighted the Mauerman's (p. 71), who served the exact same mission in the exact same place as we are a couple of years ago. They taught us for 2 days in the MTC in Provo and mentioned how "envious" they were of us going to their same mission and seeing a lot of the same military members whom they have grown to love. When we arrived in our mission and visited the Fort Bragg Military Ward's Elder's Quorum President to see how we might be of service, he mentioned the Mauerman's and told us, "you have big shoes to fill!" We have taken this seriously, and have tried to exemplify their excellent service.
It brought out in the article how so many senior couples are serving right out of their own homes. What a blessing! We have just learned that they are assigning a Senior Military Relations Couple to serve out of their home in Mountain Home, Idaho! Elder Wadley and I had spoken earlier of how great that would be! The gospel is spreading throughout the earth in preparation for the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is such a humbling experience to see it in action!
Here in North Carolina, the members of the church, both in the military, retired military and civilian continue to do what they can to help the less active, part member and investigators we have the privilege of contacting. The Ward Council meetings for the 2 wards and 1 branch we serve in are always full of concern for everyone in their boundary - members and non-members.
The Cameron Ward is seeing some success with investigators. There is a baptism scheduled for June 18th and the young elders are teaching about 5 investigators. The Fort Bragg Military Ward has had 2 couples take the Temple Preparation Lessons from us and have both received their endowments within these past 2 months. We have been able to attend both of them and it was truly a thrill! The Montanez' are a young couple. He is in the military and she is going to school and working part time. They are being transferred to the Pentagon in a week and wanted to go through the temple before they left. Sister Montanez' parents were sealed in the Washington, D.C. temple and this is where they want to be sealed. The Boucher family received their endowments last month and they are going to have their family sealed on the 28th of May. We will have the privilege of witnessing this sealing. It is the same day as our Senior Missionary Temple Trip so we will be able to do an endowment session and then witness their sealing. They have 3 little children who will be sealed to them! Oh, it just thrills us to see these sweet members come to the temple. In each of our Zone Leadership and Zone Conference meetings, President James always stresses that we don't look upon investigators as BAPTISMS, but on GETTING TO THE TEMPLE. This, of course, is their final progression here on earth in order to return to our Heavenly Father. Of course, one more extremely important thing that is required of us is to ENDURE TO THE END. This is where daily progression enters in and it is so vital!
Elder Wadley and I are teaching another couple the Temple Preparation Lessons now from the Cameron Ward. They are the Wightman's. They have a little girl, Victoria, who just turned a year on the 14th of May. Brother Wightman has been a member all his life. Sister Wightman is a convert of about 2 years. The want to receive their endowments and be sealed in the Raleigh Temple before they PCS (permanent change of station) to Colorado Springs at the end of the summer. Brother Wightman was there for the first lesson, but is in Colorado Springs now, so we, along with the full-time young Elders have been going over once a week and teaching Sister Wightman and she will have her last lesson on the 24th of May. We should be able to accompany them to the temple in June or July.
We are seeing a lot of changes in the 2 wards due to military families coming and going. It is always a real challenge to keep up with all the new move-ins. We try to get around to all of them and take them a box of honey buns. At the last Cameron Ward Council meeting, the young elders brought up that Elder and Sister Wadley are known for their "honey bun visits!" All of the little kids when we go back and re-visit the families ask us, "did you bring us honey buns?" Between those and Tootsie Roll Pops, I guess we are quite popular!!
The Young Single Adult Branch is exploding with members! It has gone from about 20 attending Sacrament Meeting when we first began working here to last week there were 72 members! The Family Home Evenings on Monday nights out at President and Sister Dickerson's home is a hit! Sister Wadley helps Sister Dickerson prepare a meal for them and they devour it! It begins at 7:00. We have dinner. Then someone gives a 10 minute lesson, after which they go outside and play games, stay inside and play board games, or sometimes just visit and visit and visit. They love doing that, since they are so busy during the week. Two of the Young Single Adult men were sustained to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and Elder Wadley was privileged to be in their circles for this ordination. We have become close to them and have such a fun time together. They always go up and do baptisms for the dead in conjunction with the Fort Bragg Military Ward Young Men and Young Women. We have been able to go up with them and it has really been a lot of fun. Most of the Young Single Adult men baptize the youth and it makes for a very spiritual time.
We received an email from the mission office at the beginning of May which made us very sad. It was a notice telling us that it is time to begin our preparations to return home from our mission. We thought, "wait a minute, we still have 4 months!" That is how organized the mission is! They needed information as to whether our Bishop back home and our Stake President had changed since we left on our mission, etc. It just made us realize how quickly the time has gone by. It made us realize how much we still have to do! We believe there may be a couple in the Cameron Ward who would like to take over our calling here and serve out of their home. That would be wonderful! They are an awesome couple.
We attended the Boucher family's sealing on the 28th of May. What a thrill to see Brother and Sister Boucher be sealed together for time and all eternity and then have their 3 beautiful children walk in all in white and kneel at the alter with their parents and be sealed to them./ It was just wonderful! What made the day even more special was that just as we were driving into the temple parking lot we received a text from the Montanez'. They told us that they were being sealed in 2 hours at the Washington D.C. temple. Sister Montanez' parents were able to drive there from Kansas and sister Montanez' text said, "we are going to do this!" That just made our day complete! What a blessing!
We had a 3 Zone Conference on May 19th with Elder Zwick of the Seventy He was accompanied by his wife and President and Sister James of the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. It was held at a building in the Fayetteville Stake. We went up and picked up the Cameron Elders and brought them to it with us. Elder Zwick wanted to shake each missionary's hand so we all walked down to the front of the chapel, row by row, introduced ourselves to them and were able to shake he, his wife and President and Sister James hands. He kept Elder Wadley visiting for quite a while since Elder Zwick was also in the Air Force and wanted to know what Elder Wadley had flown.
The morning session was wonderful. Sister Zwick told about going to the Santiago, Chile mission with their 4 young children, where Elder Zwick was going to serve as Mission President. She said they had just dropped the old mission president and his wife off at the airport and came back to their home and received their first phone call. She said it was one of the young elders. He told Elder Zwick that he was standing at a phone booth with only his companion's over coat on. He said they were holding a baptism and some terrorists had come in, made him strip off all his clothes, poured floor wax on them and then set them on fire. He said the building is burning now and then he said, "what do you want us to do president?" Sister Zwick said that was her introduction to Chile and their mission and she thought, "get me out of here now!" She couldn't speak the language and with this happening her only thought was, "I want to go home!"
She also talked about receiving a call from President Eyring and he wanted them to meet him in his office. When they got there, he told them that the mission president in Costa Rica had to leave the mission unexpectedly and wondered if they could replace them for about 3 months. They thought he would give them time to think about it and discuss it but then President Eyring said, "and you would need to leave TOMORROW." Well, Sister Zwick said that her daughter-in-law was about ready to have their grandchild and they had been told that the baby would be born with severe disabilities that would require multiple surgeries right after birth, and had just found out that it would probably have Down's Syndrome as well. She was so torn because she was planning to go stay with them for a month or so. She said that they looked at each other and turned to President Eyring and said, "we'll go." She said when they got to Costa Rica and began their work there, they asked all of the missionaries to please fast and pray for their unborn grandchild. Their son called just sobbing and said the baby had been born and was PERFECTLY NORMAL in every way. This showed what sometimes accepting the Lord's call can do in our lives. They do have a severely handicapped son they are raising who is in his late 20's now. It was such a great conference!
During the morning session, I looked over at Elder Wadley and thought his face looked a little odd. When we broke for lunch in the cultural hall, one of the senior missionary sisters said, "Elder Wadley, what's wrong with your face, you look like you've had a stroke." Elder Wadley went into the bathroom and came out and I don't know whether we were both in denial, clueless or whatever it was....but we went in, got our food and sat down and started eating. The other senior couple had gone up and told President James and he came over and knelt down and said, "what's going on with Elder Wadley?" We said we just noticed his face was slumping down. He said, "you need to get him to the hospital now." They were afraid that if it was a stroke, we had a time constraint. I drove him to Womack on Fort Bragg and they got him right in. They did a CT scan and then the nurse wheeled him out into the waiting room and said, "if I don't come back and get you in a couple minutes, that's a good sign." Well, she DIDN'T come back so we were relaxing A LITTLE BIT. They soon came and got him for an EKG and an MRI. After this, they put us in an examining room and said the doctor would be in. We waited another 45 minutes and then here came an older doctor in. He took one look at Elder Wadley and said, "you have Bell's Palsy." He said he hadn't read any of his tests yet because he likes to come in and have a look first.
After his diagnosis, he went out to read all of the tests and came back and said everyone of them looked fine and it was just Bell's Palsy. As I finish typing this blog on May 31st, his face is still disfigured. President James asked me to keep him posted by text, which I did. He told me that when they resumed the Zone Conference, they had a special prayer for Elder Wadley. When they resumed, we hadn't gotten a diagnosis yet. President James has continued to make contact with us, and he called yesterday, after his church meetings in the early afternoon, wondering how Elder Wadley was doing. He told Elder Wadley that there maybe could have been a lot of senior missionaries who would have used this diagnosis to return home from their missions. That had never entered Elder Wadley's mind! Elder Wadley told President James that he just goes out to visit military members and explains to them what has happened and we just continue on. President James thanked him for that and for his service. There is one very funny thing (I guess if you want to call it that!) about Elder Wadley getting Bell's Palsy. It forced me to DRIVE! I hadn't driven since we left Salt Lake City way back about the last week of August of 2015. We get ready in the morning and head out and Elder Wadley always drives! This sure isn't how it was back home. He had his pickup and I had the car and we would take off for wherever we needed to go! With one car and both of us doing the very same thing each day...I had just never driven! If we go to the store, we go together, etc. That seemed very weird getting behind the wheel that day to get him to the hospital! As a side note: while we were waiting for Elder Wadley's prescriptions, we hurried over to Chaplain Willis' office, who is the head LDS Chaplain at the Womack Hospital and he gave Elder Wadley a beautiful blessing.
I had such a wonderful Mother's Day! Kathryn and her family came over and met us at the Fort Bragg Military Ward for church! Oh, it was so great seeing our family walk in and sit through Sacrament Meeting together! Kathryn told us that we should probably only stay for Sacrament Meeting because Bekah, our little 5 year old granddaughter had thrown up 2 minutes before they arrived at the church. She seemed fine at church and I sooo loved having all of them there with us! We came home and Kathryn had made party delights, a yummy jelly and Shawn had made a great pound cake and strawberry topping for it! What a great time we had. They even brought puppy dog! Now I would say that is a really special Mother's Day out on my mission! We played games. Sadly it was too hot to go over to the park, but we did make it around the block for a walk. There was also a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me. The children had all gone in and got dad and I tickets to go see the Biltmore Mansion after our mission. Wow! What a super day! Thank you Kath and Shawn and all our other children for a really wonderful day!
Our grandson, Jason, turned 10 on May 27th. We skyped with him and he looked so much older! He was just going to leave to go to a movie with his dad and some friends for his birthday. All of their kids looked so much older! We are getting so excited to get back home and see all of the family again. It's just hard to realize we will not see our "easternites" again for quite a while.
We LOVE going out to visit the military families each day! We usually plan the night before and make a list of those we want to see. One day we will stay on post and visit Fort Bragg members and the next day we will travel to Cameron and visit out there. We usually receive a new move-in roster every other month and go thru it to visit and welcome the new ward members. It is so much fun to meet them and find out where they were stationed before and all about them! By doing this this month, we found a family where the husband graduated from Boise High School and he served his mission in Scotland! With us living in Meridian, Idaho, which is a suburb of Boise, and Elder Wadley also serving his mission in Scotland, we found we had a lot in common with them. The husband's family had come from Boise for their grandson's baptism and it was so much fun visiting with them about "back home!" We have said so many times to members that it never ceases to amaze us how small the world is when we start talking to members of the church who are in the military! You always seems to find something you have in common with them.
It was the Fayetteville North Carolina West Stake Conference this month. President Chandler is such a neat man! He is an anesthesiologist at the Moore General Hospital in Pinehurst and we have gone over to his house on several occasions for YSA Family Home Evenings nights. His daughter, Madison, just came back from serving a mission in Rome, Italy and one evening she made lasagna for everyone and we had FHE there with President Dickerson, the YSA Branch President, showing slides of when his company installed the bell at the top of the Nauvoo Temple. What a great story that is! At Stake Conference, one of the YSA members, Justin, talked on Saturday evening about his life and serving a mission. Justin had just baptized Poi, who is from Hawaii. Justin is Tongan. Justin said that his parents got up at 4:30 a.m. every Friday morning to take a boat to go to the mainland to the temple. He remembers 2 things his parents would always come back and talk to them about: missionary work and temple attendance. He said that his parents told him he should join the army to get some money to go on a mission. They didn't have enough money to send him. He went to a recruiter and began his enlistment papers. he prayed and realized he needed to serve a mission NOW. He stopped his enlistment process and put in his papers for a mission call. His parents were very concerned. He knew that is what he needed to do. When he went in to see the bishop, the bishop told him that an anonymous doner had come to see the bishop and told him, "here is a check we want to donate to the next person who needs money for a mission." It was enough to cover his entire mission expenses. His mission had been paid for! He served his mission and then is now active duty in the army! It was a very powerful testimony on Saturday evening and he is SUCH a great man! He has gone over with us to visit another island family in the Fort Bragg Military Ward who are semi-active and has helped us get them out to church.
We continue to work with part member families to help encourage their spouses to allow the young full-time missionaries in to teach them the gospel. More than anything, we have been able to establish a great friendship with them! They realize that we love them and care about them, and they are usually very happy to have us stop by for a visit.
We received word that my sister's mother-in-law had passed away this month. She was such a kind, loving lady. She has suffered with breast cancer for the past year and it finally took her life. She lived a good, long life and died at 95 years of age. They sent us a copy of the funeral program, along with pictures of Jean in her casket and she looked beautiful. Ann and Richard did a wonderful job in making the arrangements for her burial. We had so hoped that we would be able to finish our mission before her passing, but that wasn't the Lord's plan. She is now at peace with her eternal companion.
As we finish our blog for May, it is Memorial Day and our daughter, Kathryn, called and asked if we could meet them on the very edge of our mission to take Verl to lunch for his birthday. He turns 69 years old tomorrow! We try to take advantage of each of these quick visits to be able to hug those grand kids whom we won't be seeing a lot of after our mission. They will drive a distance and we will and we will have a nice lunch together today!
As usual, Sister Wadley has told our story very well. This Bell's Palsy is certainly humbling. Maybe I needed some humbling at this time. I always remember President Benson's wonderful conference talk on pride and humility. He said, "God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, 'Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.' Let us choose to be humble." (See chapter 18 of President Benson's manual). I am so grateful for the many prayers of family and friends in my behalf. I've felt those prayers and am sure they will be answered for me, and also with a blessing for them. I will always bear testimony of the power of prayer.
We have both been so blessed to serve this mission. I was certain that it would be a great experience, but it has already exceeded my highest expectations. We give thanks each day for this time in North Carolina. We pray that the Lord will bless all of you family and friends too.