Week 55: November 24, 2014: Keeping Busy!

So on Monday of last week, Elder McGonigal shipped his bike home and borrowed a member’s bike to use for his last week in the mission. Tuesday was District Meeting and it was very tough for Elder McGonigal since it was his last District Meeting in the mission. We went out as a zone to lunch at Joe’s Farm Grill (which is a FANTASTIC place!) and tried contacting several people.

Tuesday, we had a lesson with a former investigator who we contacted about a month ago and had our first lesson about two weeks ago. We followed up with her on how the Book of Mormon reading is going and she said she hadn’t read it. We reminded her about the importance of reading and praying and asked what the reasons were she wasn’t reading it. She said it was because she was busy and so we asked if we could text her and send her reminders and specific reading assignments to help her remember to read and she said that would be fine. So we have been doing that. Whether she read it or not, we’ll find out later, but she said she won’t be able to meet until about two weeks from then… so she’ll be a slow one to work with.

We also met with the Chadwick’s that night and continued to talk about Family History Work and the Temple and trying to get them set up for that. The Family History Consultant did stop by, but apparently didn’t have enough time to do much, so it’ll be a while before they can start taking names to the Temple. We had dinner with them on Saturday, with the Mabee’s over as well, and they gave us these ribs they got from a place called “Mad Dog’s Saloon.” And they were the greatest ribs I ever had in my life! The meat just falls off the bone clean! You don’t have to gnaw at the bone to get chunks of meat, the meat and the bone are nearly separate in how easily the meat comes off of it. But they were really good. Saturday was the last time we were over at their house, so we shared a message and Elder McGonigal said his goodbyes.

On Sunday, Brother Chadwick blessed the Sacrament, so that was really cool to see and he did a great job! Sunday was a bit of a long day because now we have pretty much all-day church (Seville – 10:00 AM, Seville Park – 12:00 PM, Seville Groves – 2:00 PM). We weren’t able to get to Seville Groves sacrament meeting because Elder McGonigal had his departing interview with President Nattress at 2:00, but we did attend the rest of church at Seville Groves. Since Brother Mabee got moved from Seville to Seville Groves, the new ward mission leader for Seville will be Brother Laux. And the new ward mission leader for Seville Groves is… Brother Mabee. Haha! So that won’t be different at all.

I don’t have a whole lot of time for emailing right now because we’ll need to get shopping soon and Elder McGonigal needs to be dropped off at the Mission Office in literally less than two hours from now. But this week has been really interesting. Elder McGonigal and I have been meeting with loads of people, working to get appointments, and there are some things that are picking up in this area. We potentially have two new investigators and we gained another from Seville Groves that got put in from the Sister’s area. But I know it’s been hard at the same time. It’s weird being with a missionary who is going home. I think right now, he is finally content with the fact that it’s happening, but during his last District Meeting, he was getting pretty emotional. He’s going to miss the mission and everyone here will miss him. He was asked to speak during Seville Ward’s Sacrament Meeting. It’s going to be weird in a couple hours when we drop him off at the Mission Office. This isn’t a typical, “Oh, my companion is being transferred” scenario. Because the Arizona Gilbert Mission is so small, we get to see each other all the time at zone conferences and every single transfer meeting has the entire mission meet there. So you’re always getting to see everyone. But with Elder McGonigal, he’s not just getting transferred… he’s going home. I will not be able to see him again. And it’s a really weird feeling. Transfer calls came and only three people are being transferred, so I’m not going anywhere. But it’s going to be really weird… it’s even weirder to think that in a year from now, I’ll be in his position. But yeah… I’m gonna miss him.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Foxx

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Week 54: November 17, 2014: Couldn’t have asked for a better 1 year celebration!

Tuesday, November 11th was the Baptism of Kerry Kenney. She had been investigating the church for over five years and that day had finally come. She went through several sisters, loads of zone leaders (a few of which eventually became assistants to the President), and she finally recognized the importance of entering into this covenant and followed the promptings of the spirit to do so. When me and Elder McGonigal were meeting with her, she already decided very early on that she wanted me to Baptize her. It was a very humbling experience. It was a really good Baptismal service. The room was PACKED of people that she knew either from the Book Club she’s a part of, the Facebook group “Higley Friends,” or just from investigating for over five years. And her husband and her two sons were there as well, which is good. I think I could honestly say that if every single person who said they were going to be at the Baptism actually did end up going or had the chance to, we would have had to meet at the Chapel due to all the people that would be there. But we managed to cram it down to the Relief Society room (barely). When the Baptism itself was going on, I’ll be honest, it took me about three times to get it right. I just couldn’t get her completely immersed in the water, haha! It was pretty embarrassing, but we just kept doing it until it was correct. After the Baptism though, Kerry told me I did a good job and that it was actually good because then her sons really understood the importance of the ordinance and that it had to be done correctly.

Wednesday, November 12th, was our zone’s turn to attend to the Gilbert Temple for an Endowment Session. We attended the 7:00 AM session, so it was pretty early. But it was really good, the spirit was definitely there. Then afterwards, we went to Kneader’s for Breakfast and we all had the “Bottomless Cinnamon French Toast” since you could get free refills of those. And it turned into a massive eating contest. I was only able to eat five of them, so it got pinned down to Elder Anderson (Elder in the other district) versus Elder Van Skyhawk (zone leader). And the results was that Elder Anderson was able to eat seven of them and Elder Van Skyhawk had him beat by eight. It was insane!

Then to end the night off, we started a fire in the fire pit that we recently got. November 12th, 2013 was the day I started the Mission. So at that day, I officially turned a year. And as tradition to the Mission Field, I burned one of my shirts to celebrate this mark of achievement! It was a pretty cool fire! Once the shirt got in there, the flames just shot up. It was really cool, and the stars were out in the night sky and there was a cool breeze outside, so it was the perfect scenery to have a fire.

The next day, we visited with the Chadwick’s to see if we could set up a time for them to go to the Temple to do Baptisms for the Dead. They expressed that they wanted to take their own family names to the Temple, so we are coordinating with the Family History Consultant of that ward so that he could introduce them to familysearch.org and Genealogy work. Our goal is to get them to the Temple before Elder McGonigal finishes his mission.

Friday, we finally got the official word on who is covering what wards and Elder McGonigal and I are now covering all three of the Seville Wards. Seville, Seville Park, and the new Seville Groves ward. Which is what we figured would happen. So in a sense, we didn’t really lose anyone that we wouldn’t get to see since all the members that did get moved from Seville Ward ended up moving to Seville Groves Ward. And then a good 60-70% of the new Seville Groves ward came from the Sister’s area. So on Friday, which was our planning meeting, we were re-arranging all the different papers of investigators, less-actives, recent-converts, etc. according to the new wards and which missionaries cover which wards. We wanted to get a new Area Book for the Seville Groves ward as soon as possible, but we checked on lds.org and they said they would create the new ward directories last Tuesday or Wednesday, but they still haven’t updated them yet. I really hope they update them soon because that’s kind of essential for us knowing what to do and where to go right now.

Saturday was of course the Phoenix Temple Cultural Celebration, which we got to watch at the San Tan Stake Center. Didn’t quite have the soaking wet look that the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration did, but it was still really cool, haha! I really liked the song that celebrated the military and you would see members from the First President stand up when it was their song going on. I was trying to see if I could recognize some of the youth, but the projector we were watching it on wasn’t the best quality (and they wouldn’t turn off the lights, which made it even harder to see), but I knew that there had to have been some youth that I knew that participated in it. But everyone looked like they were having fun and they all did a great job!

Sunday was then the Dedication of the Phoenix Temple. Both Kerry Kenney and the Chadwick’s were able to make it, which is great. It was a great dedication! We watched both the 10:00 AM and the 1:00 PM sessions since we had Kerry attending the 10:00 and the Chadwick’s attending the 1:00. Both sessions were great. President Monson spoke and gave the dedicatory prayer in the first session and then in the second session it was President Uchtdorf. It’s really cool to see that there is now a Temple closer to home than having to travel all the way to Mesa or Gilbert from Goodyear. So that’ll be really nice to have that when I’m finished with the mission, so the Temple will be easily accessible. If there’s one habit I really want to keep having that I’ve done on the Mission, it is attend the Temple often. We get to go to the Temple at least once a transfer (every six weeks) and it is definitely something we look forward to, so I want to keep that going and be able to attend the Temple at least once a month, if not more. That night, there was a New Member Fireside which only had about two speakers talk about their conversion story and then the rest of the time was turned to the Arizona Gilbert Mission Choir’s performance.

So this week was pretty good. Got a Baptism, went to the Temple, and we now have a new Temple in Phoenix. Not bad for a Year Mark!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Foxx

Kerry Baptism 1  Kerry Baptism 21 year anniversary date on milkLake1 Lake2

1 year shirt burning tradition…

Week 53; November 10, 2014: Small Miracles

Not a whole lot happened this week. Went on exchanges on Tuesday with Elder Christainsen and went into his area. One cool thing that happened was that at the start of the exchange we visited this less-active lady and it turned out that she wanted to call us, but her phone got stolen a few days earlier. She wanted to call and ask for a blessing because of some struggles she was dealing with, but because she didn’t have the phone, she had no way of doing so. So here we just happened to have stopped by at the right time to give the blessing. So that was a really cool miracle. After that one visit, the rest of the exchange kind of went downhill. Literally NOBODY was home. Nobody was outside, and nobody would answer the door. And the one appointment that they had (doing service for someone by moving their piano) stood us up and it didn’t happen. So that was pretty frustrating, but oh well.

Then Thursday was Zone Conference and it was just the San Tan zone and the Ironwood zone that was there. There was lots of training given there of course, but the biggest thing that stood out to me a discussion President Nattress started. He drew on the chalkboard a family and then the three degrees of glory. And he talked about how back as a stake president, he would do this exercise with the youth where he would ask them, “Based on where you are right now, where do you think you’re going? How many think you’re going to the Telestial Kingdom?” And a few would jokingly raise their hands trying to be funny, but nothing serious. Then he would ask, “How many feel like you’re going to the Terrestrial Kingdom?” and a lot of kids start raising their hands. And he asks, “How many feel like you’re going to the Celestial Kingdom?” and nobody would really raise their hands. And so President talks to us and he asks us, “What do we need to do to get this family to the Celestial Kingdom?” The overall responses were, “We need to build their faith.” Then “They need to know how to repent.” “They need to be baptized and have the Holy Ghost.” And then President said, “Now what if it just stops there. All they did was they got baptized and it never went anywhere after that, where would they end up?” And nobody really knew what to say out of fear of giving the wrong answer. But President answered, “They’d go to the Celestial Kingdom, wouldn’t they?” And reviewed the requirements again for the degrees of glory. The Telestial Kingdom is for really bad people who didn’t accept the Gospel and were just really wicked people. “None of you qualify for this,” he said. Then the Terrestrial is for those who lived good lives, but did not accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Celestial is for those who lived good lives and accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and received the saving ordinances such as Baptism. When people are baptized by the Priesthood authority of God, the doors of the Celestial Kingdom are being opened to them. And he talked about how that is what we are doing as missionaries. We are literally opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom to our investigators. Which is a really cool way of looking at it.

In other news, Kerry is progressing very well. We met with Brother Flake (Ward Mission Leader), and a few others and her to discuss the Baptismal program and all the details for the Baptism. So far, everything is going well and the Baptism should still be happening, so that is exciting.

Also the Chadwick’s are doing great. Yesterday, we met with them at the Bishop’s office after the block and Brother Chadwick got ordained to be a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. They also got their Limited-Use Temple Recommends to do Baptisms for the Dead and the recommend to go to the Phoenix Temple Dedication. So that is really cool. In a couple weeks, he’ll get to bless and pass the sacrament and then they all will be able to do Baptisms for the Dead in the Temple. They’re progressing very well!

Yesterday was also a meeting for the entire Queen Creek Chandler Heights Stake at 4:00 PM. Every single ward in the stake had some sort of split in some form and they created two new wards. The “Country Shadows” ward and the “Seville Grove” ward. The Seville Park ward didn’t have too much happen to it, we lost a small corner and a small handful of families that I know of. Seville ward lost 25% of the members there and we ended up losing the Mabees (Ward Mission Leader) to the new Seville Grove ward. So that’s a little disappointing. So Seville ward is going to need to call a new Ward Mission Leader soon. And we don’t know who will be covering the new “Country Shadows” and “Seville Grove” wards. They will most likely split it up between two companionships in the zone and each companionship gain an extra ward (for example, they could have us cover Seville, Seville Park, and a third ward). But we don’t know yet. For know, we’re just going to temporarily visit people we still know even if they were lost to the other wards just because we don’t know which missionaries will be covering which wards yet, so until we are informed otherwise, we’ll just keep treating it like the boundaries haven’t changed. I have no idea when they’ll give us the information, but I’d assume they tell us as soon as possible. That’s gonna suck a little bit… we’ll have to wait until next week when all the boundaries are updated on lds.org and then print out new maps and new ward directories. When it comes time for Transfers, I’m gonna have a lot on my plate to deal with…

I guess I forgot to tell you about this finding idea that the mission came up with several months ago. So you know the Stake Center right next to the Gilbert Temple? Well, on Monday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, they turn that Stake Center into what is called “The Gilbert Temple Reception Area.” Basically, it’s kind of like a mini Visitor’s Center. You can go there to take a tour around the Church building, there’s a room where you can watch Joseph Smith The Prophet of the Restoration or On The Lord’s Errand (The life of Thomas S. Monson), there are a couple computers in which you use FamilySearch.org, etc.

And so to add to that, for a while they have been holding a Choir Performance every Thursday comprising of the missionaries of the mission who want to be a part of it. They hold a 30-minute performance in which people can invite their friends, family, etc. to. But because of scheduling conflicts with the wards that meet at that building, we had to change it from every Thursday to being the first Thursday of every month. So last Thursday, there was a Choir Performance based on the Restoration of Gospel through Joseph Smith. And then on December, there will be a Choir performance based on Christmas. And I don’t know what the theme will be for January… but they’ll have a new theme for each month. I don’t sing in the choir, but Elder McGonigal does (and so do a whole bunch of other missionaries), so I always have to go there for the performances and for Choir practice whenever that happens.

Anyway, that is pretty much how the week went. All is going well. Hope you all have a great week!

Love,
Elder Foxx

Week 52; November 3, 2014: Best P-Day Ever!

So there is this park over in Queen Creek called, “Schnepf Farms” and it is particularly popular during the month of October. As I mentioned about a month and a half ago, the Schnepf family actually lives in our ward boundaries (but they attend a ward in Queen Creek). So we stopped by there a couple weeks ago and found out they have Schnepf Farms closed on Mondays. However, they were willing to have the entire zone over on P-Day! So that is what we did last Monday. And it was by far the coolest P-Day activity I have ever had in the mission, and to be honest, probably the coolest activity I ever will have in the mission! It was just like being in a mini amusement park. They took us on a train ride all around the park, went racing on these little carts with bike pedals and steering wheels on them, went to the shooting gallery, petting zoo, swing ride, roller coaster (which in reality, was extremely small, but we were acting like it was the greatest ride in the universe just because it’s the only time we’d get to ride on a coaster in the mission), a giant slide, a massive corn maze, etc. We all had a blast! And a few of the Elders had ropes that they were lassoing other Elders with. The Schnepf’s fed us hamburgers for dinner, all the water and soda there was free for us, it was awesome! It was easily the funnest P-Day I had ever had. 5:30 PM had never been so depressing before… I mean, 5:30 PM is usually depressing on any P-Day because it means P-Day is ending, but it was even more depressing with this activity. It was very cool!

On Tuesday, we had a lesson with Kerry and just continued teaching some of the lessons and commandments such as the Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Commandments such as Church attendance and things like that. Just continuing preparing her for baptism. She’s still on date for November 11th. We’ve also been going over some of the details for the baptism itself such as who is going to speak, songs that will be played, and who will perform the ordinance of baptism and confirmation (because we’ll need to confirm her on the day she gets baptized since the Sunday after November 11th is November 16th, which is the Phoenix Temple Dedication). It’s coming up quick. Just about 8 days from now. This is really exciting because she’s been investigating for over five years now and things seem like they’re finally coming together. She also asked me to perform the Baptism. She actually asked me if I would baptize her several weeks ago, but now that the day is approaching, I figured I might as well make it official since the baptism is becoming official. I was pretty taken back by the request and did not see it coming, but I will be happy to do it. So that’s exciting. Her whole family (two sons and husband) should be at the baptism, so that’ll be really good. Hoping that all goes well there.

On Tuesday night, the Seville ward had their big Trunk-Or-Treat event and they had the traditional Chilli and Cornbread contest. I can’t tell you how many Olaf and Elsa (from Frozen) costumes I saw that day. Can’t say I found that too surprising. But it was packed and there was a LOT of people there, I was pretty surprised. They had a bouncy house there for the kids and of course all the trucks out with their candy and everything. But I was really surprised how many people will there. It was pretty fun though.

Thursday was the Halloween activity for Seville Park ward. Brother Harris (ward missionary) has been coordinating this thing for over a month now. What it is was that it wasn’t a Trunk-Or-Treat, but they called it the “Seville Park Fall Festival” and made it more of a community event rather than advertised as a ward activity hosted by the church. So it was a huge effort to getting all the members to get to know their neighbors and invite their friends to this activity. They had games there for the kids, they had cupcakes, chilli, and cookies, homemade root beer, a bouncy house, music in the background, etc. We essentially went around just socializing and talking to people. One of the kids in the ward had a box of candy he didn’t know what to do with, so we just took the box and started going around to people offering candy. People seem way more open to talk to us when we’re holding out a box of candy in front of their face… maybe that should be a requirement for missionaries to bike around and offer people candy just to get them to talk to them, haha! It was really good though and there was a LOT of attendance of people who were not members of the church, which was excellent. It was kind of interesting because the closer the event was coming, we were all getting a little worried things were going to fall apart and not that many people would show up, but lots of people did. I think in part to that was because the Seville Park ward since the end of September has been doing a “40-Day Fast.” Basically, different families of the ward chose a day out of the 40 days available in which they would fast for missionary opportunities. And so for the past while, we have been trying to follow up with people on that, and it has been going really well. So I kind of feel that part of the big attendance was a result of the members participating in that fast and naturally becoming more missionary-minded. So the event was a big success. And it’s something they plan on making a yearly thing so that people can kind of look at it as a tradition as “Oh, October 30th is coming up and they’re going to have the Seville Park Fall Festival again!”

Friday was of course Halloween. And the rule for Halloween for missionaries is that we cannot be out proselyting on Halloween evening (mostly for safety reasons). So Friday is our regular Weekly Planning, so we had that from 10:30 to 1:30. And then from 2:00 – 4:00, we had lunch and played a couple of games. And a few weeks ago, President Nattress talked to the Gilbert Temple Presidency and how hardly anyone goes to the Temple on Halloween (which makes sense). So they made this arrangement where they would have all the missionaries in the mission go to the Gilbert Temple that night. So at 4:00 PM, we all went over to the Gilbert Temple and stayed there for the rest of the night. It was really cool. Because we had such a long time, they allowed us to do anything we’d have time to do. Endowments, Initiatories, Baptisms, Confirmations, Sealings (if you are participating as a child being sealed to parents), the whole thing. I also had time to do Endowments and Initiatories, but it was still pretty good. What was surprising was that there was a family that was there that got their own Endowments that night. On a Halloween night of all times. That was pretty interesting. But anyway, Halloween was fun.

On Saturday, we finally met with the Chadwick’s again and they’re still doing good. We actually had an appointment to meet with them Wednesday, but they had to cancel because Bishop wanted to meet with them that night (welp, that’s a pretty good reason lol). And so we asked how they were doing and found out that Bishop was trying to get Brother Chadwick prepared to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, so that’s great. We’re hoping to be get Brother and Sister Chadwick Limited-Use Temple Recommends so that we could go with them to do Baptisms for the dead before Elder McGonigal finishes his mission, so hopefully all goes well with that.

Anyway, so all is well over here. It’s weird that I’m hitting up Week 4 of the transfer. It’s even weirder for Elder McGonigal. I feel so bad for him because the typical question people ask missionaries is “Where are you from?” and “How long have you been out?” And so people are always teasing him and giving him crap about how much longer he has left. It’s weird for him because now when people ask him how long he has left, it has now gone to “3 weeks.” Certain people get mixed reactions, (some making the claim that he’s trunky right off the bat, some saying, “Oh, that’s exciting, you’re going home soon!”, etc.) Course, he’s usually able to thwart people’s idea that he’s trunky when he mentions that he extended and could have been home back in October, haha. Ah, missions are funny.

Anyway, everything’s going good. Hope that all of you have a great week!

Love, Elder Foxx

Enjoy the pictures from Schnepf Farms. If you want to see a few videos, here are the links:
 Scheph Farms P-Day15516475479_601a14a90b_o-2
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