Monday, September 30, 2013

We resumed our Red Cross Service after missing last week. Nothing has changed! :) This afternoon Elder Gowans was able to get the Institute lesson for Friday all outlined, now we just need to get to work and learn it real well. We held our FHE as normal. Sister Wessels came out, it will be her last time with us as she graduates tomorrow morning and will head home right afterwards. Also, Brothers Kemner and LaRose came out too. It was great to have them come out. These two graduate in 6 weeks, we will miss them once they go, they have been a lot of fun to have around.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

We had a wonderful worship service at our Fort Gordon Military Branch today. A fellow by the name of Leon Gavin had worked as a deputy sheriff for many years here in the Augusta area. He has a wonderful gift to be able to tell a story from his experiences and then tie a gospel principle to it. Our meetings went nearly 30 minutes past our normal; everyone was glued to his great message, which was to be prepared in life for anything that may come along; most of the time we don't know what may come, but we can do a lot to prepare temporally and spiritually.

After services, we visited the Johnson family; they continue to progress slowly, but they are coming along.

After our visit with them, we went home ate dinner with the Zone Leaders who work with us on Post. We then returned to the Post to look up 4 AIT students that we had not yet found. We found all four! We had the opportunity to meet them, introduce ourselves and get acquainted with them too. It was an enjoyable evening.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

This morning we headed out to post early to meet up with the Branch Presidency to make our periodic mass visit of our troops. We only had an hour and 15 minutes to visit before we needed to head back to the apartments to pick up Elder and Sister Meacham and take them to the airport. They are on their way home so he can get the required surgery to do away with his cancer. Hopefully they will return in about 3 weeks.

From the airport we headed directly to the South Carolina Columbia Temple to be with Sister Sanders as today was her day to be endowed. It was a wonderful occasion to be with her. Sister Galan and the Andersons came out to be with her also. We love the Sanders family.
 From left to right: Joshua and Kat Anderson, Sister Galan, Sister Gowans, Sister and Brother Sanders
 Just the two of us. I don't think we had had our photo taken together in the past at the temple.

Friday, September 27, 2013

This morning we attended the homecoming of the 67th EBS (Expeditionary Battalion) as we had several soldiers in Battalion who returned home from deployment. Brothers Alberts, Adamson, Bennett and then we had Brother Janssen come whom whose wife joined the church during his deployment; so we were able to meet him.

Afterwards, we took the car in for some routine maintenance. Speaking of the car, it turned over to 50,000 miles today. Elder Gowans was there for over 2 hours while it was being worked on. He got a lot of reading done in the Book of Mormon challenge given to us by President Cottle, in the Ensign magazine and was able to review the Institute lesson a couple of times.

After the car was finished, Elder Gowans picked up Sister Gowans, who had been doing the laundry and we drove up to post to teach a new member lesson to Sister Dixon and her son Jake. We studied the Plan of Salvation today.

Afterwards, we picked up some AIT students and drove to the chapel for our institute class.Today we studied the role of Chastisement and the Temple in our striving to become a Zion people.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This morning, we were up early, 0530 and off to Macon for our first couples conference in our new Georgia Macon Mission.

On the way to Macon, we stopped off for a few minutes in Eatonton, GA birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris, father of Br'er Rabbit, Uncle Remus and other wonderful story characters. We spent about 30 minutes on the way down with the intent to stop back in on the way home to visit Uncle Remus' Museum. 
Here are some photos of both visits.
 Sisters Gowans and Meacham with Brer Rabbit

 A close up of Mr. Rabbit
 In front of several of the stores in the small downtown area, we found colorfully painted statues of  Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear.

 Town Hall
 These little flags hung on many of the light posts
 Downtown, the City Hall was just to the right

A monument to the confederate soldier and to their wives

 The Museum Grounds

The Museum

We had a wonderful time with 10 other couples who also serve throughout the mission. We also had the opportunity to meet with the other Military Relations Missionary Couples and discuss with them the nature of their service, some of the things they do to minister to their families and students. Each base is very different which offers each missionary different challenges. For Benning is a Basic Training Base with the Air Born school there. Fort Stewart is still different from Benning and ourselves; so even though we have opportunities to discuss our Posts, we don't always find what works for one will work for another. We each need to seek Heavenly Father's guidance on how to best serve. The conference began a little after 1000 and concluded a little after 1400; here are some photos:
 Elder and Sister Cole
 Elder and Sister Johnson
 Elder and Sister Sperlein
 Elder and Sister Butler
 Elder and Sister Bush
 Elder and Sister Foster
 Elder and Sister Bardwell
 Elder and Sister Castleton

After returning home from Macon and our joyous experience there, we had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy Leyna Allen-Sanders' baptism. Leyna, way back at the end of 2012 had been visiting her paternal grandparents who are members of the church. She became very excited about being baptized as she is of age. However, she had some obstacles. Her mother, who is a member, was not active, her step dad was not a member. Upon returning home, she informed her mother, as only she can, that she wanted to be baptized. Her mother, remembering the covenants she had made, and seeing her daughter's enthusiasm, realized she needed to make some changes in her life. We were notified of the family, but we did not have a complete address, nor did we have a telephone number, so we could not do anything with the information we had. Finally, we learned that they were friends with a good, active member of the church. We were finally able to make contact. We took the young full-time Elders with us to meet the family. Sister Sanders agreed to sit in with Leyna as we taught her the missionary lessons. Dad also agreed, but only sat in once and then he left on deployment. Sister Sanders began taking Leyna to church; not every week, but she slowly began going. Her activity increased and our lessons finally concluded, but we visited frequently. Meanwhile we waited for dad to get home from his short 4 month deployment and waited for grandpa to make arrangements to fly out to baptize Leyna. Dad returned home at the beginning of summer and a week later came out to church with his wife and with Leyna; Elder Gowans immediately told the young Elders to set up an appointment with Brother Sanders for a visit. They did and two weeks later, a big miracle later, he was baptized and confirmed a member of the church. His miraculous conversion was truly just that, a miracle. We will relate it to you when we see you in person. Immediately after his baptism he was ordained a Priest, but then went in for surgery so he could not baptized Leyna, as they planned, until he was healed. Well, it finally happened this evening, it was a wonderful event. 
The Sanders Family!
Mom is expecting little brother in a month.

After the baptism, we went up to Evans to visit the Krenz family. A beautiful family with 5 children. Oldest brother is serving a mission in the Ukraine, Older sister is living in Virginia where she is finishing high school and then 3 younger brothers still at home. We had a sweet visit with them. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This morning we had our Zone Conference where President Cottle interviewed each of the missionaries in the Zone. Elder and Sister Gowans had to leave at 1030 to attend the graduation ceremony of Brother Noah Nakaya. We had not been interviewed yet. After the graduation, we drove back to the church and there found President and Sister Cottle, Elder and Sister Meacham, the Zone leaders and the President's Assistants all ready to go to lunch together. We joined in and all drove to subway where we enjoyed one of their $5.00 footlongs. It cost $44.00 to feed 10 people, not to bad. After lunch, we drove back to the church and had our interview with the President. When he first arrived, we offered him our time, at his convenience to educate him on the role of a Military Relations Missionary. I don't know if he remembers our offer or not, but today he asked many questions and we were happy to answer.

This evening we went out to visit the Tiede family. We had never met them; he was deployed when we first arrived and had forgotten that we had never been out to get acquainted.  We had a very nice visit with them and left with them a thought out of Alma 5:16

From there we dropped into see Sister Fordham; her husband's unit returns Friday, but unfortunately he will not be with them; he may be delayed a month due to operational needs. We wanted to get the straight story from her and so she was able to fill us in on what she knew, which wasn't much, of course.
Noah Nakaya, just finished Basic Officer Leadership Course. He is from the Omaha area.
President and Sister Cottle; they are from Logan, UT

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

At one time today, we had a full agenda for this evening; however, a little chest cold put an end to that. Sister Dixon's son, Jack stayed home from school this morning, so she called us and postponed the appointment until Friday; we will see them Friday just before institute. We had a good Branch Presidency meeting; good plans were made for our mass outing on Saturday morning to go visit the AIT students.

Earlier this afternoon, we dropped off a magazine article from the Ensign to Sister Janssen; it is official her husband will arrive home Friday morning. She has been very worried over it, she really doesn't want him in the house, he has been so unfaithful to her during the year he has been gone.The article we left with her is titled Christ-like Mercy. We invited her to read it, but we before we left we did talk to her about some of the important points in it. One was that although Christ was betrayed by Judas, He didn't allow the betrayal to influence the way he would act, rather he showed mercy to Judas by the way He treated him although at the same time not condoning or excusing his actions against Him. We invited her to do the same with her husband. Do not do or say anything that would cause anger, or an all out fight, but rather show mercy through her actions while not excusing his terrible behavior. We taught her that she can choose how she will act; she can choose happiness or allow the circumstances to make her bitter. We invited her to choose happiness.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sister Gowans went through her procedure just fine this morning. After we returned home and ate some lunch, she rested for a couple of hours and then we went out and visited 3 families. Our first stop was the Murray family. We  found them all to be in good spirits and in good health. Little Sarah is rapidly losing her hearing, we hope that the Doctors will be able to do something that will keep her from going completely deaf. Little Timothy has also suffered more seizures, gets good caught in his wind pipe and so forth; they struggle so much; it is amazing that Sister Murray is able to keep her sanity about her; what an admirable lady.

Our next visit was to the Parris family. We had learned of them from Sister Fordham. She is a member of the church, he is not. We did not have a phone number for them, but wanted to meet them, so we simply dropped in on them. We found them all at home. We talked at the door for a few minutes, exchanged phone numbers and then said our goodbyes.

From there we went to visit Brother Woodley for a few minutes. He is doing very well. When we first met him, way back in June or July of last year, we met a man who was really struggling. Today he has completely changed. He had been excommunicated from the church and was struggling to get back. We invited him to come back and offered him all the help we could give him. We often picked him up for church or institute, took him shopping and so forth. He has since been baptized back into the church and we learned that he recently had all his blessings restored to him; that would include priesthood and temple blessings. We are so happy for him.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This evening Elder Gowans went out to help a Sister put gas in her truck so she could resume her move to a new place while Sister Gowans stayed home and consumed all the prep for her colonoscopy tomorrow. Sounds like an exciting evening! The sister that Elder Gowans assisted will pay him back after the first of the month. She is moving from her home to a rental so that her daughter and family can move into her home; this will help her save money for a year while she gets back on her feet financially.

Our church services were very enjoyable today. Sister Gardner spoke in Sacrament meeting and while speaking, she also signed for the deaf to be able to understand. She normally assists with the signing, but it was enjoyable to watch; she signs as comfortably as she speaks. It doesn't take long to be able to start picking out some of the meanings of the signs.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yesterday, at the conclusion of Institute, we learned that Six Flags over Atlanta had invited the AIT students into the park for nearly free of charge. We had planned on having the Branch Presidency come out with us and visit as many of our students as possible; so we decided to cancel the mass visit and just the two of us go out and hopefully find some of our newer soldiers and visit them. We were very successful in finding all who we wanted to visit. We may have missed just two that we hoped to see.

This afternoon, we were able to get a real good start on our next institute lesson. We have a rather mixed up week coming up, so we needed to get a good jump on it. Later in the afternoon, we attended the baptism of a sister who had been taught by our young missionary sisters; she was so happy, she stated that she couldn't believe the change she had seen in herself.

Then this evening, the Augusta ward held a ward talent show with a dinner. We all had a good time watching those who were brave enough to get up and show off their talents. There were some who we really had to pray for, as they tested our ability to endure, but we applaud them and their courage.

Friday, September 20, 2013

This afternoon, we received a call from the Cheney family, ah oh, we thought they should have left for home by now. Anyway, they had decided to take things easy yesterday, and now it is Friday afternoon. So Elder Gowans went over to their apartment and helped Steve load up a bed on the top of the U-Haul. It was too heavy for Sister Cheney, especially after just having a baby. We are glad they called us for some help. They also gave us their left over food, which we shared among the other missionaries around the neighborhood. We pray that they will make it home safely, that no harm will come to them and that Heavenly Father will watch over them while driving through the long night ahead.

We learned today that Elder and Sister Meacham will return home to have the prostate cancer removed surgically removed. After recovery and when all is determined to be well, they will return back to Augusta to complete their mission. They have been truly blessed to have everything work out so well for them. We will take them to the Airport on the 28th and then pick them back up when they return. If they return after we leave, for Joe's wedding, then we will have to work something different out.

This evening our Institute lesson went real well. We studied section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants; along with it we read Isaiah 53 and a few verses from 3 Ne 11. It was a very spiritually rewarding lesson for all who was in attendance. The lesson centered around our Savior Jesus Christ, how we come to know Him and not just know about him; and how we can come to know Him personally while still in mortality.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

While the Sister Gowans was doing the laundry, Elder Gowans sat down to go over the Institute lesson for Friday. He hadn't felt quite right about it. Going back over it, he felt inspired to make some changes in the outline; as he did so the inspiration continued to come and the final product turned out wonderful. We will have a great lesson on Friday; we will be covering the 93rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Heavenly Father certainly has inspired us as we create these lesson and get them ready for the class; we are blessed every week with wonderful lessons, they are not our lessons, they are the lessons Heavenly Father would have us give.

This evening, we met and visited with a new family to the area, Brother and Sister Call. When we arrived they had another military couple with them. Not members of the church, but another couple with whom we were also able to get acquainted. We had a nice visit. Both of these brothers are in the army band located here at Fort Gordon and both play the trombone.

From there we drove out to meet with the Elders who serve in the Harlem Ward; they were meeting and teaching a family where the wife is a member and the husband is not. The husband has been receiving the missionaries and being taught. He is in the Army, this being one of the reasons why we wanted to stop by and visit and get acquainted. He has set a baptism date for the 28th, hopefully that will work out for him; hopefully we will be able to attend.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

After our service at the Post Library this morning, we went and picked up Elder Gowans' dry cleaning and then we went out to the housing area to drop in on a sister who just arrived from Utah to be with her husband while he is here in AIT. She seemed very kind; we invited her to the church social on Saturday night and to church with us in the Augusta ward on Sunday; hopefully she will come out. We will make a list up for her of the other LDS families in the area for her to meet.

This afternoon, we attended the graduation of four of our AIT students; however, we were only able to get photos of 3 of them. Saturday morning we should be able to get a photo of the fourth.

This evening we went out to meet a new military family in the Harlem ward and after getting there we found out they weren't military. Our Harlem POC thought they were because Brother Walter's hair is cut military style. Oh well, we still had a nice visit with them. From there we went to visit the Halford's to pay our  monthly visit with them. We had a nice visit; we discussed the topic of adversity and opposition in our lives.

 Brother Padron
 Sister Cheney and the kids
 Brother Power

 The entire Cheney family

Brother Cheney
With this video, We should now have posted, all the songs the graduates sing at the conclusion of the ceremony. 
We need to thank Becky again for reminding us that a blog for Tuesday had not been posted. Sorry about that to all of you who read our daily posts.

So, Tuesday morning we attended our weekly DDM and immediately following we dashed up to Evans to meet with Brother Criswell and his wife to update our list of Military families in their ward. We learned that there had been some who moved out and a few who had moved in. We have now met with Grovetown ward, Harlem Ward, Stevens Creek Ward and the Martinez Ward POCs and have a new and updated list of all the families who are new who we need to get out and meet. We have started making phone calls to get together with them.

This evening we had an appointment on post with a lady and her son who was just baptized a month ago. It is time for them to receive the new member lessons. We picked up sister Sanders and took her with us so that Sister Dixon could meet and get better acquainted with some of the other women in the ward. We reviewed with her the Apostasy, the First Vision, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and then we did something a little different that we had not done before and that is we taught her some church history, besides what we just mentioned. We all had an enjoyable time together.
Here are some photos from our DDM; of course there are always the comedians in the group, Elder Hatch.
 Elders Hatch and Phillips
 Three Elders who are assigned to the Spanish population: Elders Webb, Bennett and Brimacomb
Sisters Tevi and Grimm; Sister Tevi is sitting on Sister Grimm's lap 
Elder and Sister Meacham

Monday, September 16, 2013

We are happy to hear that Anthony's surgery this morning was successful and that he is home and recovering well. We are grateful to our Heavenly Father how He watches over our family and how He has blessed each family with wonderful and rich blessings.

This evening we enjoyed our last FHE with the Cheney family; they will be departing Thursday to for home as Steve has completed his AIT courses and graduates on Wednesday. We have welcomed Paul Miller back with us. He attended our services for 5 months back during the fall, winter and spring months. We are grateful for the Esteps and all they do to support us in our missionary efforts.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This morning we all met at the Friendship Chapel at 0900, loaded up our AIT students, and off we went to the Stake Center. After arriving at the Stake Center, we had the opportunity to introduce our students to President Squires, our Stake President, Elder Bruth, our Area Authority Seventy, President and Sister Cottle, our mission president and a few others. We had wonderful speakers, we hope that our students left the meeting inspired and spiritually rejuvenated.

After conference, we came home, ate lunch and Elder Gowans began making phone calls to arrange appointments with new military members in the area. He couldn't get anyone to answer their phone.

We decided to go back up to post and find and meet 3 new soldiers who had just arrived at Fort Gordon. We went to find the first fellow, but he was not in his room. We started back to the car when we saw a young man carrying his gear towards the building we just left. Elder Gowans began walking towards him to see his name tag to see if he was the fellow we were looking for; sure enough it was. He was a rather short, small fellow, but we talked as we walked back towards his building. We left him with all the information we could and told him we looked forward to seeing him in the future. From there, we went over to the 73rd. We have two more fellows over there in what we now term, "The Black Hole". It seems our LDS soldiers get assigned there and never get out until it is time to graduate. We met one fellow, but not the first that we hoped to find. We will have to look for him another day.

From there we went to visit a few more families. We were able to visit with Sister Janssen for a few minutes; from there we went to see the Johnsons. She had just returned from the ER; she had a kidney infection. We administered to her and then left. We also went up to visit the Cheneys and see the new baby. They will be leaving this week; we will miss them.

It has been another wonderful day; by the way after returning for the evening, we were able to find some of the families at home whom we had called earlier and was able to fill our week with appointments.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We were up early this morning and off to pick up our AIT students who were going with us to the temple. We picked up 3 at one company and then took them to pick up two other fellows. The letter of the law states that if they are going off post and older than 21, they need two battle buddies. So we took the two and didn't have any problem getting them checked out. We had a total of 14 attend today, with one of our young soldiers, Brother Mardanlou, going for the first time.
 Sister Flygare, Brothers LaRose, Kemner, Mardanlou

 Elder Gowans and Brother Mardanlou
 Brothers Kemner and LaRose
 The Angel Moroni, of course
Brother and Sister Manwaring; she came out to be with her husband for two weeks while he is in training. He finishes in October, the same day we fly out for Joe's wedding.
This afternoon, after returning home, President Estep and Elder Gowans dashed up to the Stake Center to attend the 4 pm Priesthood Leadership meeting; that ended at 6, we then met the girls (our wives), at Zaxby's and had a snack before the 7 pm Adult Session of Conference. They were wonderful events, we were well instructed, the Spirit was powerful and we were all uplifted and edified. 

While at the temple we saw some friends: 
 Sister Mack, her husband just deployed 2 weeks ago.
Robert Bradley and two of his girls