Aug 4, 2012
To begin this week’s news, I want to report that for the month of July the Mission had the largest number of baptisms ever recorded since the mission was created in 1979. I’ve already sent you pictures from some that we attended. Last Saturday we were involved with the baptism of a new member in our own branch. She has been attending ever since we were assigned to the branch and we have helped teach during the Sunday Gospel Principals class. She has gained a strong knowledge of the teachings and truthfulness of the gospel and it has been a pleasure to see her progress. We were able to pick her up the morning of her baptism and be there for her that day. There was a nice Branch turnout. After her baptism Regina bore a sweet and heartfelt testimony. Now we need to follow through by mentoring her reading in the Book of Mormon and encouraging others to continue fellowshipping her. Was a nice day.
This is the kind of news that we most enjoy sharing and remembering from our mission. In the first two years that President Holzapfel has been here, the baptism numbers have been higher for the mission than years past. As he began his third year as Pres. in July it looks like that growth will continue. There is an urgency throughout the church to reach out to those who have been and are being prepared to receive God’s word. The missionaries were told by Elder Gonzales that no matter how many times they have gone to an area, there are still those being prepared to accept God’s message. The work is there.
This has been a busy time of travel for us and the mission as the individual Zone Training meetings were held for Aug. It seems that we had just attended them for July. This time they weren’t all held on the same day so we were able to go to three of the five. We learned while in Huntsville that the two stakes that make up that Zone have been asked to separate and each stake will become a Zone as is requested by Salt Lake. As of next week the mission will have six Zones to cover. I have to admit, with all the changes that are being requested by Mission Headquarters, things do finally seem to be running more smoothly and the work gets done faster and more efficiently. I guess all the beta testing and having our computers bringing frustrations to our lives, is now paying off. I know the person that will replace me will have it much easier and even Paul’s responsibilities are a little less hectic, although, there are STILL issues with tiwis and then just human error (accidents, lost reports, etc) that will probably always be there to some degree.
Anyway, we attended the Birmingham Zone on Wed, then Huntsville on Thursday and Elder Curtis went to Tupelo on Friday. I had a dentist appointment for a rootcanel so was unable to go that day. As always, it was great to be with the young Elders and Sisters. We have some fantastic Leaders and they are the ones that did the training based on what they had been instructed by the President.
Besides traveling to the different areas for the training meetings we took one day to deliver a new car to our Sisters serving in Tuscaloosa (over an hour from the office) and then took their car South East to Tuskegee (past Montgomery) so that we could retire the car from there. All of this was necessary because there had been a wreck and one of our 50 cars was in the repair shop. I won’t even go into the headaches that caused Elder C. The mission is only allowed 50 cars so this left six missionaries with just one car in an area where a car was badly needed. It took some juggling, but for now everyone is getting by the best they can with a little help from Elder C. On the day we made this exchange we ended up being on the road for nearly eight hours…..whew! There had been a bad accident on the freeway and we took all back roads. We saw some beautiful country and went places we’ve never been, but after a long day, the slow driving was not what you would call pleasant. Oh well, looking back we remember the good…like meeting Elders Withers and LaCour in Tuskegee. They were just WALKING up to their place when we arrived. It was well over a hundred that day and they were out there working hard. We call Elder Withers the “hundred door a day man”. He never stops and Elder LaCour is right there at his side. They were both dripping with sweat and we thought we would melt just standing there talking to them. We didn’t spend much time as they had to head out (walking) to another appointment. Good, good Elders.
I’ll close by writing about more mission “Hellos and Goodbyes”. We had a luncheon at the mission home as a welcome party for Elder and Sister Specht, who arrived in July and are serving in MS, and a farewell party for Elder and Sister Halley who have completed their 18 month mission. We will miss the Halleys. Besides their great missionary efforts, Sister Halley was in charge of planning our Couples’ outings and she did a super job giving us opportunities we probably would have missed if not for her. We were pleased to meet Elder and Sister Specht. They are lively and outgoing and will be a nice addition to the mission.
One last Goodbye….. Our fun, friendly, much loved and highly successful missionary Elder Pili was given an early release (30 days) so he can return for football training at BYU. He played before his mission and has been promised a spot on his return. We considered him a friend, but then, everyone did. He has a permanent ‘smile’ on his face. I don’t think he could look mean or mad if he wanted to. Everywhere he has served the wards and people have loved having him. He is a great teacher behind that impish smile.
We will miss him along with so many others. Already we are preparing for the next group to come in and the next ones to leave. That’s mission life and we love it!
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
This seemed like a good scripture to end with. It is so beautiful here in Alabama and as we take in the beauty of the countryside and even more so, the people, we feel to clap our hands with joy for the blessing of serving here and the work we see being done.
Blessings and Love to each of you, Elder and Sister Curtis Mom/Dad