THIS IS ELDER AND SISTER WADLEY'S FINAL POST AS THEY FINISH THEIR MISSION IN THE NORTH CAROLINA RALEIGH MISSION.
It is with the most humble of hearts, that we post our final blog for our 12 month mission serving in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
We have had the privilege to serve the Cameron Ward, the Fort Bragg Military Ward and the Morganton Road YSA Branch. Each of these wards and branch has left a truly profound feeling of love in our hearts. We began our mission serving in the Cameron Ward. After about 4 months, when another Military Relations Couple finished their mission, we moved into serving in the Fort Bragg Military Ward as well as the Morganton Road YSA Branch. We also continued serving the Cameron Ward. We were stretched pretty thin, covering all of these areas, but were blessed beyond measure - much more than we ever could have imagined!
We found ourselves traveling to the Cameron Ward one Sunday and then down to the Stake Center to the Fort Bragg Military Ward and the YSA Branch the next Sunday. While at the Stake Center, we spread our time evenly between each unit. With each Sunday, we grew to truly love the members of each unit. Our first Sunday on our mission, we walked into the Cameron Ward and found it to be the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program! What a wonderful welcome! Children took up the entire stand and 3 or 4 rows of the pews! The future of the church! It was wonderful!
As we began serving in the Fort Bragg Military Ward, we found it to be 100 percent young military families. We were the grandma and grandpa of the ward and the children would run up to us and give us really awesome hugs! As we would go by to visit the families and Elder Wadley would bring suckers to the children and Sister Wadley would bring her famous "honey buns." We grew to truly love them and the feeling was reciprocated. This brought the wonderful hugs we would receive from the children on the Sunday's we were there.
Hugs weren't restricted to the Fort Bragg Military Ward. We had one particular family in the Cameron Ward and their 2 darling daughters would come up and hug us every Sunday we were there without fail! Oh, did that ever do our hearts good and helped us ease the pain of missing our own grandchildren! Truly, sweet, sweet spirits of our Heavenly Father!
The YSA Branch was so much fun to serve in! Sister Wadley and Sister Dickerson, the Branch President's wife, would find themselves checking to see who they thought might be "pairing off" to become a couple...so to speak! During the time we served here, we have seen 1 couple marry and another is due to be sealed in the Raleigh Temple on September 29th. Another couple just got engaged last week! We have seen much happiness here and much sadness as well. Many of the single male service members have experienced some degree of PTSD. Elder Wadley has been involved in giving blessings to them along with President Dickerson and the full time missionaries. Our mission has been to help these servicemen and women to have a feeling of "home" and "family" as they enter and return from harms way. We have been able to accomplish this thru the very loving leadership of both President Dickerson and Sister Dickerson. They have opened their home every Monday evening for Family Home Evening. We have helped Sister Dickerson prepare an entire meal for them each Monday evening. After dinner one of the YSA members gives a short lesson and then everyone disperses to play volleyball or other outside games or board games inside, or they enjoy visiting with each other. It has been such a fun thing to look forward to, and as one member said, "It's so nice to realize we have FHE to come out to every Monday when it's the beginning of another work week!" An example of what goes on on a typical Monday evening was last night....we always drive the Zone Leaders out with us. They usually give one or 2 lessons to investigators in a separate room during the evening. Elder Wadley served as "the member present" for these lessons. Sister Wadley talked to a serviceman who has experienced 2 members of his company commit suicide in 2 weeks time and has been traumatized by this to the point that he asked for a blessing. Another YSA member talked about how her father and mother have both lost their jobs and she is their sole support right now and praying that a job will open up for one or both of them. She feels a lot of stress right now in her life. 2 YSA members are being sealed in the temple on September 29th! She has served a mission and he is a new convert of about 2 years. It has been so much fun seeing them grow together in the gospel, fall in love, and plan to be together for eternity! He brought his new set of scriptures to YSA last night and asked us to write in them. What an honor! We had a discussion with aYSA member who we have been helping his good friends try to stop smoking. We have had them over to our house several times for dinner and gospel discussions and have become such good friends with them! We will forever love them and encourage them in their efforts. These are just some examples of a typical Family Home Evening night out at President and Sister Dickerson's. We really do have a fun, fun time out there!
One of the most important things that we have been able to receive a firm testimony of is that Heavenly Father KNOWS us and KNOWS what each of us need in our life here on earth and He also KNOWS of each of our life's big picture. It is up to us to have the faith that this is true and live each day, knowing He will guide us if we only let Him in. We find ourselves (and this means US!) trying so hard to sometimes fight against the will of our Father, when in reality if we can only find a way to say, "Thy will be done," it seems life would be so much easier! Not that Heavenly Father doesn't expect us to reason things out in our own mind, pray and listen for an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost! He does! Then the blessings come, and He will never forsake us. What an amazing blessing for each of us! This has probably been one of the most important lessons we have learned as we have served.
We have been taught by young 18, 19 and 20 year old Elders and Sisters here in North Carolina. Men and women who have grown in leaps and bounds while serving the Lord on a full-time basis. They follow the mission rules and are spiritual giants in our eyes! Every Wednesday morning at our District Meeting, we are taught by our District Leader and there has never been a time we have left a meeting when we weren't filled with the spirit and totally committed to serving the Lord. We realize that we are a lot older than them and have more limitations than them, but the way they serve and the sweet spirits each of them have, have truly taught us and helped us to have the desire to give it our all!
Looking backwards for a minute during the month of August, we had the privilege the evening of the 23rd to drive to Raleigh and have dinner with President and Sister James! It was sooo nice! We went to a Japanese Steak House and had an awesome dinner - just the 4 of us! We talked about everything from soup to nuts! We felt so sorry for Sister James. The mission put a text out to everyone saying to be on the lookout for Sister James scriptures. She lost them. The mission asked everyone to check their ward library's lost and found. We asked her when we ate with them if they had turned up and she said, unfortunately no. Whenever we had Zone Conference, you would see Sister James sitting at the head table marking her scriptures as the meeting went on. Hopefully, someone will find them and turn them in.
We spoke in the YSA Branch on the 14th of August. I believe we have mentioned a dear elderly couple in the Cameron Ward. The sister has had stage 4 breast cancer for about 13 months. She passed away on the 7th of August. We were sitting in the Fort Bragg Military Ward when Elder Wadley got an emergency text saying to come now because she had just passed. We left as soon as the meeting was over and when we got there, the hospice nurse had pronounced her dead and they were waiting for the mortuary to come and take her body. Elder Wadley helped carry the cart with the body on it out to the van. Brother Kirby took it very well. He actually said that he, surprisingly felt a sense of peace. He has been taking care of her for the past year 24/7. We have watched the loving care he has taken of her. We have spent a great deal of time with them this past 3 months. We have been able to be over to their home on Sunday's when his home teacher comes and brings them the Sacrament and have experienced some very spiritual meetings there. Brother Kirby has no immediately family close by. Sister Kirby is Philippino and has a sister and 2 sons in the Philippines. They weren't able to come for the funeral. Elder Wadley and I helped him write her obituary. Sister Wadley had taken all of her temple clothing and laundered it and had it all ready at our house. She took it to the funeral home and dressed Sister Kirby along with the Cameron Ward Relief Society President and her first counselor. We typed the program and called people to be on the program. We arranged the organist and chorister. Brother Kirby said he wanted a funeral as close to "the funerals they have in Salt Lake City." We have been to many there, so we tried to outline it in the same way. Elder Wadley gave the Life Sketch and Sister Wadley gave the closing prayer. We traveled with Brother Kirby and his good friend from Salem, Utah to the burial site about 40 minutes away where Elder Wadley dedicated the grave. We went back to the church where the Relief Society had prepared a wonderful lunch. Brother Kirby seemed to be very pleased with how everything turned out. Prior to Sister Kirby's passing, we helped Brother Kirby find a doctor and took him for a checkup. He hadn't seen a doctor in 3 years. He had extreme anxiety due to her passing. We are taking him again on the 24th of this month. He is going through a very difficult time right now and feels so alone. We are sorry that our mission will be ending and we aren't able to come by and visit him. He has mentioned that he would like to find a small apartment somewhere in Utah to come for a few months out of the year. We told him that would be wonderful so we could see him.
We have been spending the last couple of weeks going to say goodbye to the members. It has been hard to do! They tell us they are going to miss us so much and we tell them the same thing! When we were having dinner with President and Sister James, I commented to them that we feel like there is still so much for us to do and we are leaving it half done! President James smiled and in his very loving way looked at me, smiled and said, "it's never done Sister Wadley." I've had time to think about this and he is right! There is always,.."work enough to do, ere the sun goes down!"
We had our quarterly meeting with the Chaplain's at the Womack Military Hospital cafeteria on the 23rd. It is always so much fun getting together with them! Chaplain Omer and Chaplain Willis are really great men and we are going to miss them tremendously. We were able to discuss ideas pertaining to beginning an LDS Addiction Recovery class on Fort Bragg. We got quite a bit accomplished in the meeting and all were pleased with the results.
We had the BIGGEST surprise we have had on our mission! Our good friends back in our home ward, Jack and Nadine Palmer have a son who is stationed here at Fort Bragg. We have been trying to reach him to take him out to dinner since we arrived here. Come to find out, he has been deployed to Africa twice since we arrived. Needless to say, we hadn't seen him. We talked to him mom and asked if she knew where he was and she said he just got back from deployment and he was driving to Idaho with his dog to see his parents for his leave time. He texted us the other day to see if we could meet him on the post for lunch. We went to the 82nd Airborne cafeteria on the 22nd and found him there. It was so good to see him! We had met him on several occasions at his parent's house when we had gone to visit them. We stood for a minute and visited with him and then Elder Wadley asked him, "how was your visit home to see your folks?" Dugan said, "I don't know, why don't you ask them yourself," and he smiled and looked over to a table and there sat his parents! We were shocked to say the least! They said that his leave had gotten canceled because his is leaving soon for Fort Benning, Georgia to attend Army Ranger School. We had the best reunion and just couldn't believe they were here! We visited them just a few days before leaving Meridian to tell them goodbye. They have been such good friends!
A sister in the Cameron Ward area is being baptized on the 27th of August. Sister Wadley will be speaking on baptism and Elder Wadley is giving a prayer. She is SUCH a sweetheart. She has a son 6, a daughter 14, and a daughter 21. She is a single parent. When we went to teach here with the elders she told us that she had fasted on Fast Sunday and she was sooo worried about her stomach growling during Relief Society! We laughed and told her everyone is the same way! She said that as she got home and began praying to know that President Monson is a true prophet, she said she could barely get the words out when the warmest feeling started going all the way down her body and she said she was assured that he is truly a prophet on the earth today. It was such a spiritual visit with her, one we will never forget. We are so excited for her to be baptized! President James told us at dinner that he had interviewed her on the phone and said to give her their love and Sister James asked Sister Wadley to give her a hug for her.
We finished another Temple Preparation class with a sister and a couple. We will be able to attend the couple's endowment and sealing in the Portland, Oregon temple when we get home. We are so excited! They don't have very many members in their families and so they said having us there will mean a lot to them. We have been able to teach this class to 6 different couples and 2 sisters. We have accompanied 3 of the couples when they received their endowments and seen one of the couples sealed together and to their 3 children. What a thrill for us! Teaching these classes has been one of the highlights of our mission!
We were able to attend the Raleigh Temple with all of the departing missionaries. We drove the Zone Leaders up, since one of them will be going home. It was such a fun, spiritual time. Afterwards, we went next door to the cultural hall in the stake center there and have lunch with everyone. We took lots of pictures and said goodbye to everyone. Afterwards, we drove home and stopped off at a tiny little bakery in the town of Vass. The owners have been taking the lessons from the missionaires so we stopped with the Zone Leaders to meet them. Afterwards, we went to the Sicily Drop Zone and watched the parachutists jump for about a half hour. The Zone Leaders had never seen it, so it worked out perfectly and they loved it!
We had our final day of working at the Womack Hospital for the Red Cross. We will really miss taking the comfort cart around to all of the patients there. We have made some good friends with the nurses, doctors and medical staff on each of the floors. It was sad when we had to turn our vests in and tell our director, Linda, goodbye. She cried and we cried. We are going to miss her a lot!
During our year here, Sister Wadley had a really bad bout with the flu and had to go to the emergency room and have 2 bags of IV put in her. Elder Wadley got Bell's Palsy and has struggled with that for about 3 months of our mission. He has healed about 90 percent from it. Other than some allergy issues due to all the pollen here, we have been blessed with great health.
As we end this blog and this mission, we can truly say that we have felt the hand of the Lord while serving Him. There were times when we felt like we couldn't go another minute, and yet, up we got and away we went. It was as if the Lord was pushing us up out of our chair and cheering us on saying, "you can do it...I NEED you to do it!" Feeling this closeness to the Lord is a feeling neither of us want to ever lose. It has been a true blessing in our lives. There is so much truth to the statement "when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God. These sweet, sweet souls here in the wards and branch we have served in have truly touched our hearts. So much so, that we have made some very, very close, forever friends. We are actually feeling a little worried about going home because we want to stay as busy as we have been here. It is a GREAT feeling!
We are so grateful to all of our many friends who have taken the time to keep in touch with us, even though we haven't reciprocated as often as we should have. We love you and appreciate you!
We are so grateful to our children and their spouses for being the tremendous, righteous people they are. We thank our Heavenly Father every day of our lives for their love, for their commitment to the gospel and for their desire to raise a righteous family in this day and age of such turmoil. They are to be commended and we support them and love them for everything good they do in their life.
We thank you, both family and friends, for your love, faith and prayers in our behalf. We have felt your prayers, and are so grateful for your testimonies and your support. We pray the Lord will bless you for your efforts and hope that you will know of our love for "y'all."
Finally, when we began our blog, we made the statement that we decided to keep a blog of our mission to let our GRANDchildren be able to see how the Lord blesses us as we serve Him. We truly hope and pray that they have been able to receive this vision as they have read or their parents have read our blog to them. It is our fervent desire and prayer that as each of these WONDERFUL WONDERFUL GRANDchildren mature and attend Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, Young Men, Young Women, Seminary, Priesthood, Relief Society and all the other wonderful programs the church has for them, that they will have a burning desire to not only serve a mission for the church, but to serve the Lord to the fullest! That they will study the scriptures and gain their very own testimony of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that by so doing, they can one day spread what they know to be true to those seeking the truth.