My Companion, Sister Wilks, and Me
Hey Dad and Family,
First of all, Mom I'm sorry I didn't respond to your e-mail from last week. I saw it today for the first time, so it must have been sent after I was done e-mailing. Sorry! I don't think I'll get to see yours this week either :(
Dad it was good to hear from ya. Sounds like you had a good/busy week. I'm glad to hear Charter's concert went well! Tell Melba I said hello. I forgot to tell you guys that I saw her Sister when I was in the MTC :) We took a pic together!
Ok I'll do my best to answer your questions. The ward boundaries are pretty large, but my companion and I only cover 1/4 of the Kirtland ward. There are 4 sets of missionaries (8 Sisters in total) who serve in the Kirtland ward. As a result the ward is split into 4 districts. Each companionship covers a different district. The only trouble we have with the district system is trying not to exhaust our member resources. We are supposed to only use members within our respective districts to go teaching with us. The same people end up volunteering. But we're coming up with a system that will hopefully change that. Plus we have the Bishop's support, he told us to let him know if anyone refuses to go teaching with us because he will take their Temple recommend away. I was like, "Whoa!" Yes, all of the people that we work with live within the Kirtland ward and within our district. And yes we do teach recent converts and less actives. We also teach a few part member familes and active families. We are given six focus families from the ward and we are supposed to have 10 lessons (total) each week. This is called the 20 lessons program, which has recently been instituted by the brethren of the church. (We only teach 10 lessons a week since we are at Sites half the time). The main point of the 20 lessons program is to build up the members and make them better member missionaries. We just started the program, but I'm hoping for great things to come from it!
The Butterfields are from Southern Utah. Elder Butterfield is the Site Director, which is basically like the "Mission President" of Sites. The call normally lasts for two years, but the First Presidency extended their call for full extra year. So lucky for me they will be here for most of my mission (until January of 2011). I love them they are AWESOME! Elder Butterfield used to be a Mission President in Southern California and he's such an inspiring man! Sister Butterfield is such a sweet lady too :)
I'll just share a brief story with you from this week. Every third Sunday we hold an investigator fireside at Sites. Missionaries from throughout the mission bring their investigators. Last night's fireside was SO GOOD!
Sister Wilks and I had three investigators there, the Abplanalps (who we tracted into) and a kid named Larry Gaillard. Larry is 13 years old and he will be getting baptized this Saturday. We teach him about three times a week. He comes from a very disfunctional family and has some learning disabilities so we try to meet with him as much as possible so that he can retain the information we teach and so that we can be a positive influence on him. Anywho, all of our investigators really loved the fireside. There were quite a few talks including one from an A.P., Elder Butterfield, the Stake President, and the Mission Presdident. They all did a great job! There was one talk, though, that stood out to me and I think to everyone there. It was given by a man named Darrin, who is a recent convert of the church. He told his conversion story, and it was POWERFULL! Darrin was baptized in August 2009. Before his baptism, he basically lived on the streets. He was a drug dealer, an alcoholic, he had been shot multiple times, he dropped out of high school, and so on. In his own words he said, "I wasn't right." He said when the missionaries found him he could feel something different. He gained a testimony fairly quickly, was baptized, and did a 180! He now holds the Melchizedek (sp?) Priesthood, has been to the Columbus Temple about five times to do Baptisms for his ancestors, has Baptized three of his friends into the church, and is preparing to serve a full time mission! He had to get special permission from the First Presidency to serve a mission because he will be turning 26 soon and the maximum age for Elders is 25. He is a great example to me about the power of The Atonement! It is for EVERYONE!
Well, I have to go now. Thanks for everything! I love all of you and pray for you daily! The gospel is true!