We are definitely in the "DOGWOOD" DAYS OF SUMMER here in beautiful North Carolina! I am a little behind in typing up our June blog, but as I type today, it is the 4th of July, 2016. The high today should be 102 degrees with 100% humidity.
Things have been very busy for us, as usual. We have been trying to keep up with the ever-growing Young Single Adult Branch, which is averaging about 70 members in Sacrament Meeting every week. We have seen it grow and grow and we are so very thankful for this. Of course, there are YSA's who are home for the summer from college plus several workers from Vivent (a home security system based in Provo, Utah) who bring the numbers up. Each and every one is so much fun and we really enjoy the Monday evening Family Home Evenings out at President and Sister Dickerson's home in Vass. Sister Dickerson and Sister Wadley prepare a meal every Monday evening for them and then we have a short lesson, usually provided by a member of the YSA Branch, and then we finish off the evening with volleyball, or other outdoor games as well as board games, ping pong, etc. inside. They live near a beautiful lake and several of the branch members go out to fish off and on during the week. At Fast and Testimony Meeting yesterday, Justin, a member of the branch from Tonga thanked the Dickerson's and told the members there that they truly are their "mom and dad" at this time in their life. We have seen many converts come into the branch because of the great work of the YSA members. We have had 2 members of the YSA Branch become engaged! Like President Dickerson always says, "We need to get them GRADUATED!"
Several families in the Fort Bragg Ward have taken advantage of the summer and left to visit family. Some sisters, whose husband's are deployed have especially taken advantage of this time so they can go away and be with extended family while their dad's are gone. We are thankful that our mission won't end until August 31st so we can say goodbye to the families who are away for the summer.
On the 30th of June we were treated to a WONDERFUL Hawaiian celebration by our mission president's sister, her husband and their children, son's and daughter-in laws, and their 14 grandchildren. They came to the Fayetteville West Stake Center and put on a program featuring dancing from Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, etc. They were in full costume. All of their family participated, even down to the youngest grandchild - a little girl 2 years old. Our stake center was packed. At the end, we all went outside, where we witnessed a "fire dance." The dancers had large batons with fire on either side of them and they did dancing, flipping the batons in the air and catching them, etc. It was a tremendous program. President James sister married a Hawaiian and they travel all over the United States every summer putting this program on. All of the missionaries in the 2 stakes were there and a table was set up with Books of Mormons and pamphlets to hand out. We had gone to dinner with Brother and Sister Bowden from the Cameron Ward and we went to the program with them. They really enjoyed it.
Sister Kirby is still hanging on. She has Stage 4 Breast Cancer and wasn't expected to live nearly as long as she has. We have helped Brother Kirby get everything in order for her funeral and burial. Sister Wadley has laundered all of her temple clothing and has been asked to dress her at the funeral home when the time comes. A hospice nurse comes in twice a week and a regular nurse comes to bathe her and change her bedding. She has such a strong body and an even stronger spirit. Sister Wadley has been able to have many very spiritual experiences with her as she has sat by her bedside and visited with her. Sister Kirby has one good arm to use and she holds on to both of Sister Wadley's hands and tries to pull herself up. Sister Wadley has commented on several visits, that her strength just amazes her. Sister Kirby turned 70 years old on the 26th of June and we took some flowers and a card over to her. She was able to wake up long enough to see the flowers and got a smile on her face. She is always SO grateful for everything that is done for her and she will wake up and smile and look at Sister Wadley and say, "thank you sister." Sister Wadley has typed the entire funeral program and has it saved to use when the time comes. We have worked with Brother Kirby, at his request, to have the program just the way he wants it.
We have a new District Leader, Elder Moran. We were wondering if he might be related to the person the Moran Eye Institute was named after! That is such a quality eye care center. He has a brand new companion, straight out of the MTC - Elder Mueller. He is a great missionary! We are working with 2 exceptional missionaries serving in the Cameron Ward now - Elder Cromar and Elder Weiss. They are so humble, so caring, so spiritual! They visited with Brother Kirby the other day and he just loves them!
We had a meeting this month with the Stake Presidency, all of the LDS Chaplain's, the 3 sets of Senior Military Relations Missionaries,\and President Dickerson from the YSA Branch. We have been trying to see what we can do to get some sort of activity on the post for the LDS Single Servicemen. It was decided that what they are going to try to do is get a chapel on the post and have everyone meet there and then carpool them over to the Stake Center for Institute classes and then maybe have an activity at the chapel on post as well. It is still in the works.
One of the most rewarding highlights of our mission has been to attend the graduation of the 297th "Q" Course. We were invited by 2 different soldiers - 1 in the Fort Bragg Military Ward and 1 in the Cameron Ward. Brother Harmon is in the Fort Bragg Ward and Brother Fetters is in the Cameron Ward. It was held downtown in the Fayetteville Arena. They had a 3 star General as the guest speaker and it was tremendous! We sat with the Fetters. They have 4 children, a new baby boy only a few months old as well. We went over to the Harmon's afterwards for a BBQ. The Fetters had to leave right after because Brother Fetter's father had passed away and the funeral was in a few days. When we watched the video they presented there and saw everything they go thru out at Camp MacKall, it made us have all the more respect for them. They simulate such things as terrorist attacks, survival school, etc. It is a very, very difficult course. At the end of program, they don the Green Beret, and become one of the elite few to have that honor - the best of the best! We felt so grateful for being asked to attend.
We have begun to have the Fort Bragg Military Ward Council meetings at Bishop Hamner's house at 4:00 on the 2nd and 4th Sunday's now. They had been at the church at 6:30 a.m. Cameron Ward and the YSA Branch meet just once a month. There have been several people move out of both wards for a PCS move (permanent change of station.) We have helped coordinate these moves with the Elder's Quorum and the receiving wards.
We still try to take the missionaries out to see a jump at the Sicily jump site whenever possible. There is a tower we climb to watch, where it has a roof to shade us from the sun. They really enjoy watching these.
Sister Wadley has been experiencing a lot of allergies with really itchy and swollen eyes. She blames it on all the summer foliage here. She has had to run over to Womack and be seen by an eye doctor and get some drops. It reminds her of when she was a little girl, she experienced the same thing.
A really neat thing happened one Wednesday when we were doing our Red Cross Volunteer work at the Womack Hospital. We went into the ICU Unit and, as usual, introduced ourselves to the head nurse and asked if we might go into the patients rooms to see if they need or would like anything from the "Comfort Cart." On this particular Wednesday, we were told there were 4 different rooms we could go into and see if the patients needed anything. The nurse of one particular patient told us that he had just come into the ICU and is very hard of hearing and that I might need to pretty much yell at him. Sister Wadley went in and began talking loudly to him and he would just cup his hand around his ear as if to say, "I can't hear you." I walked back out of the room and the nurse just smiled at me and said, "you or your husband wouldn't happen to have any hearing aid batteries would you?" Elder Wadley carries a card of them in his pocket each day, but on that particular day, he didn't have any with him. We both then went into the patient's room, where Elder Wadley checked the patient's hearing aids and saw they were different than Elder Wadley's but Elder Wadley took the batteries out of his hearing aids and put them in the patient's hearing aids, and Sister Wadley could instantly hear that they were working because of the little squeak that comes out of them when you are putting them back in your ear after changing the batteries! The nurses on the floor couldn't believe what he had done! They were so appreciative. Elder Wadley then said, "oh, that wasn't any big deal. I have plenty more at home waiting for me!" That was a great thing to see!
We attended a combined Fayetteville 3rd Ward and Fort Bragg Military Ward meeting to discuss combining the YM and YW programs due to such small numbers. It was decided to do it and it will begin in July. We can certainly see the wisdom of doing this, since the Fort Bragg Ward has very few YM/YW age children. It has LOTS of Primary age children! This should be a very positive move for all concerned.
During our Zone Training Meeting in June, we learned several important things. One was that God cares a lot more about who you are and who you are becoming instead of who you were. Another quote was: "Jesus doesn't save us "in our sins" but "from our sins." That really hit home with Elder Wadley and me. We are continually striving to be what He wants us to be.
Elder Wadley's Bells Palsy continues to improve. He is probably about 70 percent cured. He still can't blink with his right eye. We are hoping this will improve. His smile seems to be about 70 percent back to normal. Everyone who sees him says that he looks like he is back to normal. We are so grateful for this, and for the many prayers in his behalf!
We had a very impressive Fast and Testimony Meeting at the YSA Branch on the 1st of June. There was a constant stream of members going up to bear their testimony. As it got close to ending, we heard one of the male members go up to the pulpit and he said, "It's blue and it's true in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." He was, of course, referring to the Book of Mormon, but seeing that Brother Register was going to end the bearing of testimonies, he hurriedly went up and said this. Even though this may sound like it was not as spiritual or as reverent as it maybe should have been, the spirit was so strong there that day, that it really just fell in line with what everyone had been saying in their testimonies. It was a wonderful meeting. A young lady named Cayley was confirmed and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and it seemed like the Spirit stayed with all of us the entire meeting.
The month of June in the mission field for us brought a very noteworthy event: SISTER WADLEY'S MOM TURNED 90 YEARS OLD!! She still has a very sharp mind and has just slowed down to be careful in her walking. She always remembers things Sister Wadley and Sister Wadley's sister forget! Sister Wadley always says that she and her sister have things happen to them health-wise that their mom didn't experience until maybe 20-30 years later. Sister Wadley's sister threw a great surprise birthday party for her at mom's condo's club house. Everyone was asked to write down a special memory they remember with mom/grandma. Sister Wadley sent 90 memories - one for each year of her life. We had gotten her a sweatshirt before we left for our mission that said, "What is 89 + 1? they gave it to her at her birthday party. It sounded like it was a really fun party! Elder Wadley and I knew that we wouldn't be home for her birthday and her mom was a major consideration for us serving a year or an 18 month mission. We are so happy that we will be able to see her in a couple of months.
Elder Wadley turned 69 years YOUNG on June 1st. We had District Meeting that day and then took the Cameron Elders and the Zone Leaders out to Red Robin to celebrate. It was such a fun time. What was even more fun is to watch the elders watch the TV's on there!!!! I kept wanting to say, "we're here!!!!" Another milestone was celebrated this month for us...our 45th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking 2 of the Young Men from Cameron Ward who don't have a father at home and their mom is active duty army, out to eat. It was fun visiting with them. They aren't active in the church right now, so we just had a fun time eating and talking. We had other birthdays celebrated in our family this month. Our daughter, Jennifer, celebrated her birthday on June 28th. Her daughter, Jane, turned 4 on the 27th, our granddaughter, Ashley, turned 6 and our grandson, Aaron turned 8.
The Young Single Adult Branch had a baptism on the 4th of June out at the Pinehurst Building. Caley was baptized and flew back to California the following Sunday and got married that next Wednesday! Wow, talk about a whirl wind! She married a returned missionary and they are going to be sealed in a year. Such a really sweet sweet girl!
We are still really enjoying our time out at Camp MacKall. On the 26th of June we spoke out there and there was a member of the Cameron Ward, Brother Heath and a member of the Fort Bragg Military Ward, Brother Chriswell, who came and they brought a non-member with them. Elder Wadley spoke on commitment and talked about the way the gate guards say, "all the way sir," when we come thru the gates. Sister Wadley talked about loving others and having angels 'round about us.' It is always a very special experience to be out at Camp MacKall.
We visited a sister in the Fort Bragg Ward in her home one day. She has a 5 year old daughter and another baby on the way in August. She asked us if we knew anyone who might be flying to Alaska. We told her we didn't but then Sister Wadley remembered a single parent from Cameron Ward who will be PCSing and already has a job in Alaska she flies up to and we told her we would mention it to her. She said that she had told her mother, who lives in Alaska, that the little girl could come and spend the summer with her. She is due to have her baby the 1st of August, so couldn't take her up. The Cameron Ward sister said she would be happy to take her along with her. It all worked out and they both flew up together on June 28th! We're so happy we had gone to visit her and knew of someone flying up there. We have had several families PCS to either joint base Lewis/McChord or up to Alaska to Elmendorf AFB area.
We had a really sweet young couple in the Fort Bragg Military Ward, the Robinson's, invite us over to their home to help color cards their 2 children had made for our grandchildren to thank them for sharing us with them. We thought that was such a neat, neat idea and we had such a good time!
As we conclude this post for the month of June, it has become apparent to us that our mission is quickly drawing to a close. and it makes us so sad. We received word from the mission office that we need to give them information on our Stake President's name at home, along with our Bishop's name so they can let them know our mission is drawing to a close. As we think back, really the only thing that we won't miss from our mission is the heat and humidity! It is hard to work outside with all the humidity. Other than this, we have really enjoyed every minute of serving the Lord and we would do it again in a minute! We have even contemplated another military relations mission! You just never know! Our children and grandchildren have been healthy, safe and happy. Our extended family has also experienced the same blessings. Maybe these missions are a really great source of insurance! They certainly can't hurt! The number of people who have become "forever friends" is endless, and we will keep in touch forever. We have seen sad times in their lives here and very happy times as well. We have felt so fortunate to have been able to be there for them thru both thick and thin. We have been able to provide maybe just a small portion of the "balm of Gilead" for them as they have worked to facilitate ways to support their families and stay close to the church. We have definitely seen the Lord's hand continually while serving our mission. It has strengthened our own testimonies so very much. When we were over to our grandson, Aaron's, baptism, they showed a few Mormon Messages while waiting to go in to witness his baptism and one was about Elder Ballard's talk on "Saying in the boat." Sister Wadley remembered a time when both of us were serving in the Young Men and Young Women and we took them on rubber rafts down the Snake River. Sister Wadley had a very scary experience in getting out of the raft for a while to swim, but then couldn't get back in and felt like she was going to drown. 4 Young Men were able to pull her back into their raft just before taking a rapid. How grateful she was for those Young Men helping her to get in AND STAY IN the boat. In the same way, we need to stay close to the gospel of Jesus Christ, encircle ourselves with positive, active members of the church who keep the standards of the church and are good influences for us. If we happen to get out of the boat, we need to get back in as quickly as we can by using those people who are living the gospel to the fullest so we can be blessed by our Father in Heaven and enjoy the blessings of the gospel in our life.
Father's Day this month gave Sister Wadley and me a special opportunity to remember our Heavenly Father, and thank Him for His patience, love, mercy, forgiveness, and more than a few "tender mercies". He has blessed us so much. It is such a special honor to wear His son's name on our chest each day. One day, a lady passed us in the store aisle and said, "I love Him." Another time one of the gate guards smiled and said, "He's the one!" Every day we look at that missionary badge, and give thanks for our Savior's love, example, teachings, and the infinite atonement.
Until July's blog.......happy summer everyone. Stay safe, be happy and love the Lord!