This morning one of our dear soldiers, Brother Beck graduated from Advanced Leadership School. We will miss him! Fortunately, he is from Utah, so we will be able to go visit him and meet his family in May sometime. He has been tremendously active and has participated in nearly all our activities. He has been out with the missionaries, served with us during the clean up of the ice storms. He will depart tomorrow, so we had him with us this evening in Family Home Evening. We invited the Elders with whom he served to attend the graduation with us.
We continued our busy schedule today! After attending the Augusta Ward sacrament meeting, we dashed home, ate lunch and then dashed off to post to teach the Temple Prep class to the Richards family; they are a sweet couple! We will miss attending the temple with them come August, but we will know that we helped them along the way. After our Branch meetings, we teach 3 young men the Missionary Prep class. One of them will receive his call before he graduates from AIT; that will be a first! We are so excited for him. After this class we head on over to the Johnsons to visit and teach them from the Gospel Essential Sunday School manuel. We love and enjoy visiting with them.
This morning, we had three new soldiers to go out and meet and we found and visited with all three of them. The first soldier, Brother Landfeld has been here for 5 weeks or so, but we've always seemed to miss him. He is a very nice young man with very short, dark, red hair. We had a nice visit with him and learned that he is from Lehi, UT. Next, we went to find a fellow who had referred himself to the missionaries via Mormon.org. We found him with the help of one of his battle buddies. He happened to be on Fire Guard duty this morning. As we approached he seemed genuinely happy to see us. But then we learned that he had not referred himself, but his fiance had put in the referral. We asked him if she was LDS and he said, "I don't know, maybe". Very strange, but true. So we had a nice visit and invited him to come out to church and sit down with the missionaries and learn about us. He said he would. The last fellow, we went to meet was a newly baptized fellow who was baptized while in basic training. His name is Brother Sheffield. We had a real nice visit with him and he, too, said he would come out to church with us; we are hoping that all these young men will keep their word and come out.
With the Women's conference in session at this time, Elder Gowans went out with the zone leaders do help do some teaching while sister Gowans is at the conference.
This evening, we had a wonderful lesson from Joseph Smith - Matthew. We went through verse-by-verse studying the prophecies of Christ's second coming and the signs that would preceed His advent. We asked the question: "Why would the Lord command this one single chapter from the book of Matthew of the entire Joseph Smith translation of the Bible in the Pearl of Great Price and no others?" There must be something very important about this chapter that is not included anywhere else that the Lord wanted to us to have and know; and obviously, it must have something to do with His second coming. It was a great lesson, the Spirit was there in rich abundance; we had two more individuals out who had not come out before, which is nice; it helps us keep our numbers up.
This afternoon, Elder Gowans assisted our young Elders in teaching a young lady in her home. She is very excited about learning all she can from them. In fact, she didn't think she was going to make the appointment, so she called to let the Elders know; we had already arrived at her home, but then as we got back in the car, she called again and said she would be back home in 30 minutes. So Elder Gowans took them to get a quick sandwhich at Subway and then we drove right back to her home and found her there. We studied the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and then read the first chapter together. We left her with all smiles.
This evening Elder and Sister Meacham took us to dinner at the Olive Garden. We had a very enjoyable evening together. After dinner we returned to their apartment and finished a game of Phase 10 we had begun a couple of weeks ago. We will miss them, but then we will likely see them again in June once they complete their mission.
Elder and Sister Morris will complete their MTC training tomorrow and then will return to Texas on Saturday and will begin their journey out here that evening. They will stop off in Houstin for a day or two and then press on here to Augusta. We anticipate their arrival on Wednesday or Thursday.
This morning at the post Library, we were asked to dust the book shelves and books. Sister Gowans worked in the children's section and Elder Gowans worked in the main library. It was obvious that the tops of many of the shelves had not been cleaned since the remodeling a year ago. He was covered with dust all over his pants, tie and shoes. Twas very dirty.
This evening we had a real nice dinner with the Esteps. We all ate steak at the Outback. It was very delicious. Afterwards we went back to their place and had a nice visit together. Just before 8 pm we drove to the Augusta building for our Ward Mission Correlation meeting.
We started the day off early with breakfast at the Red Cross Recognition event. We were specifically thanked for our service over the past two years. It was a nice morning. From there we attended our weekly District Development Meeting with our 10 missionaries in our District. We had the opportunity to provide some input into the lesson as they spoke of planting seeds by taking the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible. Elder Gowans shared a story from his mission as a young man about how a seed had been planted with a young doctor who later joined the church when the time became right for him. It wasn't until 3 years later, but the seed did sprout and bore fruit.
During the afternoon, we worked on outlining our next Temple Prep class and Missionary Prep class. It took the entire afternoon to work up these two lessons, but we got them done. Now all we need to do is find time to work on them. We are also giving talks on Sunday in our Branch meeting. It will be a busy week.
This evening, we had a real nice dinner and evening with the Stock family. Brother Stock was deployed for a year from August of 2012 to August of 2013; we did a lot of service for the family and learned to love each of them very much.We will certainly miss them. Here is a photo of them: Brother and Sister Stock, Becca, Jonny and Jessica.
Monday morning, yes, we accomplished our weekly service at the Post Hospital. Today was one of those unusual days where we didn't see anyone we knew. Nearly every week, we will see someone from church or a soldier that we know.
This afternoon, Elder Gowans got right to work on Friday's Institute lesson; we will be covering Joseph Smith - Matthew. Sister Gowans' PT interupted the process, but after we returned home he got right back to it and finished it up before we headed to FHE. At FHE, we had our typical attenders with the exception of Brother Hancock who had something come up where he couldn't make it. President Estep has been ill for the past 4 days, so hopefully he will be feeling better soon. Sister Estep did come out along with Aubrey and Charles, Brother Beck and the missionaries.
We have had a wonderful and event filled day. After Sacrament meeting at the Augusta Ward, we headed home for lunch and then up to Post to meet with the Richards family and teach them their second Temple Prep class. We invited sister Lonsberry to join us; she was recently endowed herself, so we thought it would be nice to invite her in to share her own thoughts and feelings about her experiences. It worked out real nice. Afterward, Elder Gowans dashed about to pick up a few soldiers at various companies so they could also attend church. We do whatever we can to ensure that those who want to come out can!
After our Branch meetings completed, we began a Missionary Prep class for three of our soldiers who desire to serve mission and who are preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is so gratifying to see these wonderful young men, who are so motivated, grow and progress. We invited the full-time missionaries to assist us with their insights; that added a lot to our class.
From there we drove up to the Jones' home; we were invited for dinner with them, what we didn't know was that they also invited the Murray family who live a couple of doors down. We love both these families and had a wonderful time with them. Elder Gowans gave the FHE lesson, which seemed to go over real well.
From there we drove into Evans for a little pow wow with Brother Person in the Stevens Creek ward. We needed to update our military roster of their ward, and he is in a real good position to help us with that. We got that done and then home we came. It has been a rewarding and gratifying day.
This morning, we arose extra early and headed up to Post to drive to the temple with Sister Sanders and her two children, Leyna and Westin. She had not been able to get back to the temple since she was originally endowed due to difficulties experienced after giving birth to Westin. Sister Gowans and Sister Brosnahan attended with Sister Sanders and Elder Gowans kept Leyna and Westin in the waiting room of the temple and also took them for a walk and did some shopping at the Book Store. Here are some photos Elder Gowans and Leyna took:
Leyna and Westin at the Temple
Elder Gowans and Westin at the temple
Leyna, Westin and Crystal in front of the temple
After returning to Fort Gordon, we tried to find a couple of students, but they were checked out so we will look for them tomorrow. We then drove into Grovetown and visited with Sister Malcom for a while; she has recovered from her long journey to be with her husband in Dubai; she is still riding the wave of gratitude for the opportunity to be with him.
Just down the street from our apartment stands this duplex, yes, with a tree laying on top of it.
A few more photos that Leyna shot during her experimentation with Elder Gowans' camera.
She learned to use the zoom function
This is Stacey, she was waiting for her ward to finish their work; little Westin took a real liking to her!
This morning, Elder Gowans took the car in to the KIA dealership to have it readied for our trip home: Oil change, tires rotated, coolant and transmission flushed, hoses, brakes, tires inspected and so forth. It was about a 3 hour process. During that time he reviewed the institute lesson for this evening. He then did some reading in Psion Delta. During this time, Sister Gowans was baking cookies for Sunday.
We had a terrific lesson covering the mission of Enoch as found in the book of Moses chapters 6 and 7 in the Pearl of Great Price. We asked the question, "Why did God reveal this account of Enoch to the Prophet Joseph Smith?" We concluded that it is to help prepare us to become a Zion people. Another purpose would to be to show us that the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was the same back in the day of Adam as it is today. Back in the day of Adam, Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost was just as critical to their salvation as it is to ours today.
Afterward, Elder Gowans took the Elders to see President Estep and to give him a blessing of health; he is quite ill.
We have had a wonderful day! At noon, we met with and had lunch with Brother and Sister Criswell, they are our points of contact with the Martinez Ward. We were able to update our roster and make sure we had an accurate list of all our military members in that ward. We spent about an hour with them and had a real nice visit with them.
Afterwards, we had a visit to physical therapy; sister Gowans is doing well in rebuilding her strength and stamina.
This evening, we met up with Brother Beck and Sister Lonsberry; we met with both of them in their barracks. Brother will head back home around the 1st of April, he is a wonderful fellow, very selfless and givening of his time and resources. While visiting with Brother Beck, we met another soldier who is also a member of the church, Brother Hughes. He just arrived this week; we invited him to come with Brother Beck to our activities. Sister Lonsberry is doing real well and is very happy with the way her life is going. We always enjoy our visits with her. Her dad will be coming out our last weekend here; we look forward to meeting him. Sister Lonsberry will help us teach the Temple Prep class this Sunday.
During our service at the Library this morning, Elder Gowans received a phone call from Donnie Johnson asking if we were on post. He told him we were and he replied if we could come pick him up for his Doctor's appointment or if we could jump his car, the battery was dead. Elder Gowans drove over to his house and we got everything hooked up and his car started right up. It went really quickly, before he knew it he was back at the Library doing his assigned tasks.
This afternoon we attended the graduation of Brother Benjamin Boone; he is the nephew of Joseph Boone of those in the family who know the Boone family. Also, graduating was Brother Bamford; he was a battle buddy to Brother Carapezza who graduated last week; although not a member of the church, Brother Bamford came to church with Carapezza quite regularly. His parents are baptist missionaries in the Philippines.
This evening we visited the Sanders Family prior to Brother Sanders deploying to Latin America where he will serve for four months and then return home. Not too terrible of an assignment to be gone only four months. Afterwards, we dropped in on the Powers family, they just had a baby boy, very cute, a lot of dark black hair. Then we dropped in on the Alberts, but they were not home. From there we drove to the airport where we picked up Sister Malcom who was returning from a visit with her husband in Dubai. She had a wonderful time with him and enjoyed this most interesting country. She may see him again in either August or December.
This morning, we attended our weekly DDM, boy is time slipping by fast; it seems like we just did it! But here we are again enjoying the camaraderie of the missionaries.
After our meeting ended, we hurried home, ate lunch and then attended two sessions of a webinar sponsored by the VA to help those who work with the military understand better what they can do to assist with the various mental, spiritual, emotional conditions that many of them have after returning home from combat. Each session lasted an hour and a half. Also, during all this we began the process to ensure that all our books are up-to-date and ready to hand over to Elder and Sister Morris after they arrive and upon our departure. We will be meeting with our various representatives in each ward to get an update on any move ins or outs of military families.
This evening, we had the opportunity to visit with Brother and Sister Halford and Sister Arnett. Sister Halford was up and around and seemed to be doing as well as we have seen her. She suffers from several different maladies and is often down when we come by to visit. Sister Arnett is getting to that point in her life where she would really like to retire and move on in life and do things, like family history, that would be enjoyable and interesting for her. She enjoys traveling and visiting sites of historical significance. We love these folks and look forward to our continued association with them.
While at the hospital for our Red Cross service this morning, Sister Swartz, whose husband is deployed, came in for her knee operation having corrected the same issue that Sister Gowans had, a torn meniscus. Elder Gowans had the chance to visit with her while in the waiting room along with her father-in-law. Happy to report that we spoke with her this evening and she is doing fine.
Also, today, Elder and Sister Morris entered the MTC. They will spend their 10 days there and then fly back to Texas and then beging the drive out here to Augusta. They will spend the weekend visiting Sister Morris' mother. We pray that they will have safe travels.
We had a very nice FHE this eveing. Twelve attendees! It was very enjoyable. We love those who come out and support the activities that are provided for them.
This afternoon, we began teaching a Temple Prep class to Brother and Sister Richards; they will have been married one year come August and will then be eligible to be sealed in the temple. We will teach them until we depart, then we will have Elder and Sister Morris finish up the instruction. We are very excited for them.
Also, this afternoon, we decided on a time to teach a Missionary Prep class. Currently we have 3 young men who are eligible to serve missions; they have asked that we hold a mission prep class for them. We will have to double up on some lessons in order to finish them up before they graduate. We are also very excited about helping them prepare and ready themselves to go and serve.
This morning, we did splits with the Esteps. President Estep and Elder Gowans went out together to meet the male soldiers and Sister Estep and Sister Gowans visited the female soldiers. The ladies found only Sister Nielson at home, but the Brethren were able to find and visit 9 young men. This will leave us a few to find and visit next week. We did learn that we have one young man here that we didn't know we had; we have no idea where he is located, so we will have to do some searching. He hasn't answered our calls or texts.
This afternoon, we had dinner and a nice visit with Sister Mitton. We will sure miss our association with her. After our visit with her, we drove back to Augusta and visited with two of our student soldiers and their families. The Drapers and the Richards live in the same apartment complex. Both of them will be on active duty, both of them had their wives come out and join them as soon as they were able to make the arrangements. The Drapers have two small boys and the Richards are newly weds and are preparing to go to the temple. We are very excited for them. We had a very pleasant visit with both families.
This morning, we both had doctor's appointments. Elder Gowans had a follow up appointment with the dermotologist and Sister Gowans had an appointment at her Physical Therapist. Then this afternoon, we prep'd for Institute.
We had a wonderful class; the topic was the Fall. We studied verses very carefully in the Book of Moses chapters 4, 5 and 6. We went into as much detail as we could in an hour covering the fall of Lucifer, the fall of Adam and Eve, accountability and consequences, how Adam and Eve were taught the Gospel and how they began to understand the plan of salvation; at the conclusion, we gave each member present a handout covering the Abrahamic Covenant. We all felt the presence of the Spirit there and are grateful for how the Spirit teaches all who make the effort to come out.
This evening, we had the opportunity to visit with a new family in the area, Brother and Sister Olpin. We learned as we visited with them that they just moved here from Papillion, Nebraska and had attended the same ward that we did when we lived there. We knew many of the same people. He is a Korean Linguist and used to be one of the fellows that would listen in on Korean communications. He said that he was medically retired due to having 2 pulmonary embolisms. We had a real nice visit with them. I think they are one of those families where if we lived close by we could become good friends.
Afterward, we dropped in on the Murray family to see how they are all doing. They brought Timothy home from the hospital on Monday, they all seem to be doing real well.
This afternoon after our library service and Sister Gowans' PT, we attended AIT graduation. We thought only 3 of our students were graduating, but low and behold we had 6! One of them, Sister Shelton, is not a member, although she is married to a member and has been investigating the church. The family photo is her plus her parents and siblings. We had a short, but nice visit with them.
Sister Shelton is on the far right.
This young lady is Sister Garcia; she is a very sweet, lovely young lady. She is heading to Germany, we wish her all the best.
Brother Begay, he is a Navajo Indian. We also wish him all the best.
The Wickham Family. Beautiful family.
Brother Carapezza, a wonderful young man. He was the top graduate of all classes graduating today.
On the left is Brother Anderson. A fun young man to be around. His battle buddy on the right, Brother Rogers, came out and we enjoyed having him too.
After graduation, we zipped on over to the church to have our final interview with President Cottle. We love the Cottles and will look forward to the time when we can see them again, after their mission is complete.
This morning, we attended our weekly District Development Meeting; Elder Judson had prepared instruction for us on the topic of making contacts. He went through 6 different ideas of how we can all do better in making contacts and introducing the Gospel.
Then, this afternoon, we took Sister Malcom to the airport to catch a plane for her trip to Dubai to meet up with her husband who she has only been with a few times over the past 5 years. She was so excited, we hope they have a wonderful week together.
This evening, we had an appointment with the Azbill family. We had a real nice visit with them; they have 4 children, two of each. He has just returned home from a deployment and is now back with the family. Previous to his deployment, they had been living in Germany; so this is the first time living back in the United States for four years. During the deployment, his wife and children stayed in Florida with her parents. After our visit with them, we dropped in on the Hicken family and the Anderson Family. Brother Hicken is still waiting for his results of his Med Board; his wife is about 8 months pregnant and suffers from migraines. Brother Anderson recently went through foot surgery to correct an injury, which occurred clear back in high school. He is recovering well! It has been a good day.
We accomplished our normal Monday Red Cross service this morning. From there we headed home, ate lunch and then dashed off to Sister Gowans' PT. Afterwards, Elder Gowans worked on Friday's institute lesson and did some research on conducting a Missionary Prep class for two of our soldiers who desire to serve a mission once they return home. It is a 14 week course, but if we were to hustle we could do 2 or 3 lessons a week for them and have it done prior to our departing.
We had a very enjoyable FHE this evening, a real good turn out. Brother Anderson came and brought a battle buddy along with him. Then we had Brother Beck and Sister Lonsberry and our zone leaders. Pres. Estep put on an LDS short story about bullying taken from Pres. Uchtdorf's April 2012 conference talk. It was Sister Estep's birthday so we sang to her and ate birthday cake and then played a fun game of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
It has been a beautiful Sabbath day. The past two days have been nearly perfect with Sunshine, Blue Skies, warm temperatures. It has really been nice. We have had so many graduations lately and few troops coming in that our Sacrament meeting attendance has decreased. Those who are currently here are quite faithful. Before church began, Elder Gowans made three pickups. Brothers Wildman, Boone and Carapezza. After church we visited the Johnson family, dropped in on Sister Herr and stopped by the Powers; we were wondering if she had had her baby yet, sure enough she had and she is still in the hospital. This evening will be an evening of rest, the last few days have been very busy and tomorrow will too. We love our mission and love serving our troops and their families.
Last week, we had a new soldier arrive here at Fort Gordon by the name of Colby Wildman. He is one of the few of whom we had not received any prior notification of his coming. What a wonderful young man. When he learned that we would be attending the temple the following weekend, he wanted to go. We gave him a copy of the permission slip and told him he needed to get it turned in on Monday to his Cadre so that they would have the opportunity to approve it in time. Well, come Friday when we were following up to see who was coming, he texted back saying that he hadn't heard anything. So we told him we would come by his barracks in the morning, pick him up, take him to his CQ with a battle buddy, and see what was going on. So we did just that. We picked him up at 0710 and drove to pick up another soldier on the way. So we had the two. When we arrived at Brother Wildman's Company and as we were getting out of the car, Elder Gowans said, "Let's go make a miracle happen". So we went into the CQ. It just so happened to be the same Sargent who had accepted Brother Wildman's permission slip, so he was aware of it. He made a phone call to someone who said he didn't know the status. At that point, while we were waiting for some word, Elder Gowans left and took Sister Gowans to the chapel and sent her off with two other soldiers and Elder Gowans then took President Estep back to the CQ. We waited while phone calls were made. Then the desk Sargent, Sargent Smith motioned for us all to come back to a private room. He said this is highly unusual, but we will let him go. Please be careful with him. We gave him our heart-felt gratitude and off we went; a miracle indeed! We all had a wonderful time together.
The two miracle men, Brother Barnes and Brother Wildman
Also with us on the trip was Sister Aubrey Lonsberry and Brother Shawn Beck
Brother Shawn Beck
After we returned from the temple, we headed over to John and Karen Estep's home, their son Tristan had invited us to his 3rd birthday party. We had a very enjoyable time with all the crowd.
Young Sister Fry
A couple of the Smith children
Sister Gardner and Ben
President and Sister Estep's daughter
The Estep family
The Johnson Family
After the birthday party we headed over to see Sister Malcom. We learned that she got the job she was after, working for a law firm as a legal assistant. Then we learned also that she is traveling to Dubai to meet up with her husband and spend a week with him there. We are so happy for her!
As you can see and tell, it has been a wonderful, event filled day!