Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Pres. Albright between the twin towers. Elders Rex and Doman
In the car leaving for the airport
Elder Kirkham and Doman
Elder Kirkham (now Aaron) and Sister Spencer (now Tarah) at the baptism.
We were blessed to have Elder Aaron Kirkham and his parents come for a visit. They stayed at the mission home one night and we really enjoyed visiting with them. We got to know them last year when they were here for the National Jamboree. They were part of those in charge of the booth that the church had at the jamboree. Great devoted scouting people. Well, they are actually on their way to the International Jamboree in Sweeden and were able to come to Virginia for a few days first. This was wonderful because it coincided with 2 of Elder Kirkhams' former investigators getting baptized and he got to participate in these events. We love the Kirkhams and hope they have a great time representing the church and the US in Sweeden.
Dear President Albright,
Last Friday our son in Falls Church had a disastrous thing happen at their home. They are trying to sell their house in anticipation of a move to Lightning hit a gigantic Poplar tree in their neighbor's yard. Unfortunately the tree then fell into our son's yard. I cut up the tree, which took a half a day but the amount of wood, branches and leaves was overwhelming. We made plans to do the cleanup on Tuesday. Our son is less active and his wife is a non member. The missionaries, Elders Cheung and Hubbard, often come by and always mention that they would like to help them in any way that they could, so our son called and asked if they could help. They agreed to come and meet us at 7 a.m. If you will recall the heat index on Tuesday was 105. I got up at 4:30 a.m. and was in Falls Church at 6:30. I stood on our son's deck and looked at the carnage and volume of debris and thought , there is no way we are cleaning this up in one day. Our son had ruptured a disk in his back three weeks ago and was told not to lift anything heavier than 20 lbs. So there were just the four of us, two missionaries, a 71year old High Priest and a sixteen foot trailer. At 7 a.m. we started work with Elders Cheung and Hubbard. It was slow progress and then the miracle happened. Suddenly six Priests from the Falls Church Ward appeared. It was like the three Nephites X2. Elders Cheung and Hubbard had organized it all. We took three trailer loads to the dump and it was weighed each time to know how much to charge us. The total weight for three loads was 10,000 pounds. We finished four pizzas, three gallons of ice cream and 10 gallons of ice water by later that afternoon. As we looked out at the now pristine yard from our son's deck that evening, both he and his wife said, "how can we possibly repay them?" I said, that’s easy, go to Church next Sunday. We talked it over and decided to go as a group to their 9 AM meetings. My wife and I needed to go to express our appreciation as well as to make sure that our son and his wife did not lose their resolve. We had a great sacrament meeting and expressed our appreciation in the Priesthood meeting. Many of the members and Bishop Mason went out of their way to make our son's family feel at home for their first visit in at least a year. Thank you for allowing Elders Cheung and Hubbard to assist us and thank you for having such well organized and trained missionaries. By the way, one of the Priests invited a non-member friend. He rode with Elders Cheung, Hubbard and myself on one load to the dump and we were able to give him the first discussion. Among the priests was one who has been less active. He worked hard, seemed to be really well fellowshipped and I thought enjoyed himself. I feel it was a very productive day..
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Dear President Albright,
My name is Christina, and I am a member of the Fair Oaks Ward. I wanted to write to you and tell you how one huge rock and one very Christ-like Elder are bringing the gospel to my neighbors! Let me first say that we have lived here for 7 years, and my neighbors know that I am a member of the church. Despite some efforts at sharing the gospel in the past, none of my neighbors have ever shown an interest in hearing the gospel. That was before Elder Mower and Elder Crockett came to the Fair Oaks ward.
The Elders arranged to do some service for my family. On the day that they were working in my yard, one of my neighbors, Bob, came over to say hello and chat with me. I introduced him to the Elders and Elder Mower started talking to Bob and asked Bob if there was anything he could do for him or if he could do any service for him. Bob is an elderly gentleman who has had a couple of strokes and walks with a cane. So Bob asked Elder Mower if he could remove a shrub from his yard and plant it in his next door neighbor Carlos' yard. Elder Mower and Elder Harb (who was helping with the service for us) went over to Bob’s and removed the shrub. When they went to plant it in Carlos’ yard, Elder Mower encountered a rock in the ground and started to work to remove the rock so that he could put the tree in the ground. The rock turned out to be a huge rock and several hours went by with Elder Mower digging and using any means he could to try to get the rock out. He borrowed tools from us and other neighbors to try to get the rock out. The whole time he was working, Elder Mower talked to Bob and got to know him. He talked to him about the gospel, and Bob stayed outside with him the entire time. Bob and Carlos couldn’t believe Elder Mower’s hard work and determination. At this point, Carlos asked if he could take the Elders out for pizza as a way of saying thank you, so they took a break and went out to dinner with Carlos. Now two of my neighbors are very impressed with the Mormon missionaries!
But the rock was still not out, so when they got back from dinner Elder Mower began again to work at getting the rock out. All the while, talking now to two of my neighbors about the gospel. Elder Mower finally pulled the rock out after about six hours of work! Bob was so impressed and he couldn’t believe that Elder Mower didn’t just give up on that rock! Bob started calling the rock Mormon Rock! He asked the Elders to put the rock in his front yard, and he is having a sign made up with the name “Mormon Rock” on it, with Elder Mower and Elder Harb’s name on it too! Bob even said that he is going to plant BYU colored flowers around the rock and decorate Mormon Rock at Christmas! My entire street has had the “tour” of Mormon Rock and been told by Bob himself how Elder Mower conquered Mormon Rock! Bob was so impressed with Elder Mower’s qualities of resilience and determination and his great faith that he asked me to get Elder Mower’s parents’ address so that he can write to them and let them know “what a fine example of Christ-like love their son is”.
President Albright, the story doesn’t stop there. A few days later, Bob fell mowing his lawn and hurt himself and was in great pain, probably with broken ribs. Elder Mower offered a blessing and Bob accepted and had the blessing. Bob called me the next day to tell me that the blessing was a miracle, that he had finally been able to sleep for the first time since his fall, and that his pain was gone completely. Elder Mower asked Bob to come to his District meeting (at Elder Franzwa’s request) to tell the story of Mormon Rock, and Bob went and stayed for the whole district meeting. He was very impressed with all of the Elders he met, and with the church. Elder Mower invited Bob to come to church the next Sunday, and Bob accepted. He stayed the entire time and loved it! Bob has a friend who has throat cancer, and he has asked Elder Mower and Elder Crockett to give her a blessing soon. He’s not even a member yet and he believes in the power of the priesthood because of the blessing that Elder Mower gave him! Bob has connected with Elder Mower so strongly and I can see that Bob is feeling the Spirit every time they are together. I know the Elders are working towards teaching Bob the lessons and I hope that he will accept baptism soon. He is an older gentleman and I just keep thinking how grateful I am for Elder Mower’s example of faith and love for others that has touched Bob so much. This might be Bob’s chance to hear the gospel before he leaves this earth.
And because of the work that Elder Mower has done with Bob, all of my neighbors love the Elders. Elder Mower has developed a rapport with all of them. They all come out and talk with him when he is over, and we joke in our family that Elder Mower is going to baptize our whole street! He works tirelessly to serve others, and he has been such a great example of the Savior’s admonition to love one another. I haven’t been this excited about missionary work in a long time, and I just wanted you to know how grateful I am that Elder Mower and Elder Crockett are working so hard to share the gospel with my neighbors. Their example is really making a difference on my street and I am so grateful for that. And I wanted you to know about Mormon Rock! When I see them in action, I think of the scripture that says “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven”.
Thank you for your time. May our Heavenly Father bless you as you for these wonderful missionaries whose light is so shining.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Elder and Sister Banks
Dear President Albright,
D&C 88:89-90 provides, "For after your testimony cometh the testimony… of the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds." This scripture manifested itself to my Tongan relatives back in September of 1959. As you know, Tongans love to pass down stories from generation to generation, and I would love to share one with you that my mother shared with me when I was a boy.
In 1959 two Mormon missionaries decided to visit the small island incalled Lofanga. When the elders sailed their small boat to Lofanga, there was only one member they knew and her name was Sela. She was visiting her sister Silia who at the time was an inactive member of the church because her nonmember husband would not let her attend church. (Church meetings were held on another island and required a boat trip.) Silia invited the missionaries into her home and told them they could stay there with the family. Silia and her sister Sela were the only people who were nice to the two elders. The following day, as the two elders tried to proselyte on the island, the people of Lofanga were not at all receptive to their message. One local man even threatened to cut their heads off with a helepelu (machete) if they stayed and so they decided they would leave the island.
According to my mother’s account, the missionaries told Silia that a storm was soon going to hit Lofanga but if she stayed in her house, nothing would happen to her family. Sure enough, soon after the elders left, the seas started to pick up and the weather turned. The waves started to rise and a terrible storm hit the island. As the waves slammed into the(about 1.4 sq km), family legend says that the waves miraculously spared Silia’s home, leaving it undamaged. The waves and storm became a symbol of punishment to this small island in Tonga for having rejected the missionaries. LDS missionaries returned to the island a short time later and soon converted enough people that they were able to start a branch and build a small chapel on the island. A generation of faithful members followed from this experience.
Silia is my grandmother. My mother’s name is Sela. She was named after her aunt. It is because of that experience that my mom later joined the church as well as my grandfather. My mother then served a mission in Tonga, as well as my father. My older brother served his mission in Tonga as well. I'm currently serving here in the . South Mission, and my younger brother is now serving his mission in . Our family has been truly blessed ever since the elders’ warning protected my family.
I arrived in the Washington D.C South Mission in December of 2009, and on my first Sunday in theward, I mentioned that I grew up in , but my family is from Tonga. When sacrament meeting was over, several members came up to me and asked if I knew a local member by the name of Douglas Banks. They told me that Banks served his mission in Tonga and he recently served as a mission president there as well. For 19 months I never got to meet him until last Saturday we were finally introduced. He asked me where in Tonga my family lived. I always tell people my dad's village which is Faleloa, Ha'apai, but for the first time ever, I felt prompted to say, “My mom is from Lofanga.” He then asked me if I had ever heard the story of what happened in Lofanga when the storm hit. I said, “Yes, Silia is my Grandmother.” He then replied, "Elder, I am that very missionary that served in Lofanga!"
I've always wondered what it would be like to meet the missionaries that brought the gospel to my family on the little island of Lofanga, and now I’ve met him right here. He is now the Patriarch in theStake. What are the odds that I would come to the very place where the missionary who knew my grandma in 1959 on Lofanga now serves as the Patriarch? It’s been a spiritual adventure and journey for me these past few days talking with President Banks. This experience has taught me a lot of what blessings one person can bring to generations of people. I will be forever grateful for this tender mercy, and for the gospel of Jesus Christ that we have in our lives, and for the numerous missionaries who go out around the world to invite generation after generation of souls to come into the fold of Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Peniueti Ta’ufo’ou
Same group with Elder Doman instead of me.
2 FINE ASSISTANTS- REX AND DOMAN
2 GREAT OFFICE ELDERS- ALLEN AND HARB
Training in the basement
Pretty excited to see each other
1st Row: Elders Edgington, Hussey, Tilleman, Sisters Ganbaatar, Olsen, Vaitai, & E Barrett.
We took 8 elders to lunch after the training. Elders Earl, Schwindeman, Forrest, Liew, Davis, Tamir, Kelley and Sherwani.
This is Elder Tamir, from Mongolia playing the HORSE FIDDLE. It was incredible. He is really accomplished on this instrument from his homeland.
Elder Liew, from Malaysia, accompanied him on the piano. He is a piano performance major in college at home.