Sunday, June 23, 2013

More and More Mission Tales...

This is a continuation of the last post because the blogger/Mom took a break from blogging to attend the worldwide training meeting for new mission presidents via satellite. I knew that Brae was excited about it because he mentioned it in his email last week, and so it was fun to be a part of something like that, knowing that he was also watching from his corner of the middle of nowhere--the reservation. I came away from the meeting uplifted and inspired to be a part of this great work, even though I cried through most of it! 

Brae let us know the week of June 3 that he would be staying in Cameron for another six weeks. He said that if Elder Booth's visa doesn't come in the the next six weeks he will likely be transferred in mid-July, but if it DOES come he will likely stay on the reservation another twelve weeks. He is loving it there, and so he will be happy either way. He said that they are still allowed time for language study every day, and so he is hoping to become more fluent in the Navajo language. They also found some new people to teach.

He also talked more about the "stinking HOT" weather, saying, "I think I jinxed myself when I got my call and said 'it's warm there'! Oh, the irony!!!" Apparently it has been between 100 and 110 every day.

His email from the week of June 10 began, "HOLY SMOKES! IT'S HOT DOWN HERE!" I laughed when he said that they have a swamp cooler in their trailer that keeps it down to 80 degrees most of the time, so it's "not unbearable". Notice that he didn't say that it was bearable, just that it was "not unbearable"! He said that one day they went up to the mountain to teach some people who were selling jewelry at their bead stands there. It was 98 degrees, and he told Elder Booth, "Wow! It's really cooling off!" and said that it felt awesome to be up there. They had 35 people at church and five new people who have set a baptismal date. He said, "We keep finding new people/families that the Lord has TOTALLY prepared to hear the word. It's crazy. God is doing all of the work and I'm just an instrument in His hands, which I'm happy to be!" 

They also got to see the Grand Canyon with the senior missionaries, Brother and Sister Robertson. Sister Robertson texted me some cute pictures, which I will share at some future time when I become savvy enough to know how to post them on this blog! It was Sister Robertson who told me that Brae and his companion were singing my song "Bless Your Father's Name" for Father's Day, which made me really happy. (The thought of Brae singing anything makes me smile!) It is truly a blessing for Brae to be serving there with Brother and Sister Robertson! He loves them and has learned so much from them. I hope that Becky doesn't mind my sharing an excerpt of a text that she sent me the morning of June 14: "Ya'aah'tee. I wanted you to know what a great missionary you have. It has been awesome watching him grow in the gospel this past 3 1/2 months. He teaches with the spirit. The families love him. He has taught Elder Booth very well. We enjoy being around him and love him also. He is always happy. We are blessed to serve with him." Truthfully, I was having one of those "melt-down-moments", and her text came as a tender mercy for me. I am glad to know that he is growing in the gospel, serving people, and doing well, but the part that made me the happiest was her saying that he is always happy. I am always reminding him to look for the good in every person and every situation, and his happiness is evidence that he is doing just that. And I want to bear testimony that although we will experience difficult moments as part of our mortal journey, we have a Heavenly Father who knows us by name. He loves us and He is there for us. He hears and answers our prayers, often times through ministering angels like Sister Robertson. 

June 17, Elder Beck was really excited that they had taught thirty lessons the previous week, which was a new record! He said, "We're still totally being led to people who are prepared to hear about the gospel. I love being a missionary because you can see the spirit's workings clear as day." He told of singing a duet of my song with Elder Booth and said, "It was really good! I love being able to share my talents with the people here. The Lord gave me everything, so I might as well pay it forward!" As a reprieve from the hot weather, the missionaries had plans to go to Tuba City for P-day for a "Zone Water Fight". He was excited to see several of the elders who went out the same time as he because they all became such "awesome friends". 

Sister Robertson sent this update this morning via email: "Ya'aah'tee. We have a great story for you this week. We were going back to the church early in the morning, and Elder Beck and Elder Booth were closing the gate to the church yard. They said a member of the church who works at the post office 1/2 mile away from the church had a car that would not start. So she jumped on her horse and rode about five miles to the church with her three dogs following her to the post office to work. During work, the Flagstaff pound picked up her dogs and took them fifty-five miles away to Flagstaff. It cost $360 to get them out of the pound! Dedication!!! It's not every day you see a horse tied up on church property. Only happens on the Res.!" In the spirit of the Res., maybe Briana and I should ride our horses to church one of these Sundays. ??? Maybe people would stop to investigate...It could be a great missionary tool...Haha.


More Mission Tales

Ya'aah'tee'! Elder Beck is having a great mission! I'm thinking that maybe some of the Navajo spirit is rubbing off on his mom, who has been taking her sweet time on the blog posts! (I can just hear Brae calling me to repentance and telling me to get with it!)

The week of April 29, Elder Beck called training a "CRAZY" experience and said that he had to trust in the Lord to make up for his shortcomings. He admitted to realizing that he didn't know as much as he thought about certain details in missionary work, but had help from his district leader and definitely from Heavenly Father. Funny story...As he was driving back to Cameron from Farmington after picking up Elder Booth, he said, "I didn't have GPS, so I was just trying to remember how to get back. Well, we were about an hour out when we passed a sign that said 'Welcome to Colorado'.


So we turned around, said a prayer, and then we made it back to Cameron." (Obviously, he is still somewhat directionally-challenged, but Heavenly Father proved to be better than GPS anyway!)

They had to move back all of their scheduled baptismal dates because the investigators didn't show up at church on Sunday. Brae hated being the "bad-guy" and having to break the news, but said that he gained strength from the words of Paul in the New Testament, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." It helped him to be more bold and as he put it, "do less sugar-coating with people". He cracked me up when he said that he hoped things were going well for all of us back in the United States, in civilization. (It really is a different world there!)

The week of May 5, things started to get HOT! Brae said that it was 90 by 10:00 a.m. every day and it just got worse from there. He said that the 100-plus-degree heat would turn him into a dried-up piece of jerky by the time he got home! It was also the beginning of snake and lizard season. He enjoyed watching lizards from his study room window, but was freaked out by the fact that the Navajo people regard snakes as sacred and do not kill them. (Brae was taught from an early age to kill snakes before Mom sees them!) He said that if the Navajos find a rattlesnake, they catch it and drop it off somewhere else. 

He had more experiences of having to be the "bad guy" when they had to drop some investigators who were not progressing and keeping their commitments. On a lighter note, he said, "I'm supposedly turning into a real Navajo now, because I point with my head and lips. It's a funny Navajo thing that when they are talking about a place or saying something like 'over there', they point with their lips while they are talking. I am starting to do that without even thinking, so now I just have to master speaking Navajo and get a good tan and I'll be set!"

Mother's Day was the most fabulous day ever because we got to Facetime with Elder Beck for an hour and nineteen minutes! (Thanks to Paul and Becky Robertson for letting the elders use their iPads!) He looked and sounded great! He was trying to teach Briana and me how to say some Navajo words. Let me just say that it was the hardest thing I have ever tried to do! Rather than sounding like words, they were just guttural sounds. I really could not relate phonetically to any of the sounds. Kudos to the elders who master it. I would just have to smile and point with my lips, I guess! 

They taught 24 lessons and found three new investigators. They were really excited about the five baptisms that they had scheduled for the following Saturday, especially considering that there had not been a baptism in the area for eight months. Although they had to move the baptismal dates back, they were grateful that their faith and perseverance was going to finally bear fruit.

On May 20, Elder Beck reported that the baptisms and confirmations all worked out! He said that he was tearing his hair out because the branch president didn't show up and two of the children being baptized came twenty minutes late. It was somewhat stressful for him being the senior companion and it being his first time planning a baptism. Besides that it was great! He was also excited that a former investigator who had left his family and been negatively influenced by a medicine man came to the baptism and to church meetings on Sunday. He said to keep our prayers coming, because the Lord's hand is definitely guiding this work.

This next quote is just the stuff a mom loves to hear! Brae said, "I'm definitely growing a lot more as a missionary now. I've learned a lot in the past few weeks. I'm to the point that I can honestly say the I love the work and this is my life now. My dreams at night are about missionary work, so that must mean I'm more focused or something. Bahaha!" Oh, Brae. :)

Another quote from Brae: "Funny story--So, we are teaching this lady who is doing awesome. She always prays and reads her scriptures, but she just won't come to church no matter what. And we figured out that it is because she won't forgive someone who offended her at church. So being the psychology-major that I am, I committed her this week to write down on paper exactly what happened that offended her, how she felt about it, etc., and then I told her that next week we are going to BURN IT. Then she can let it go! I laughed at myself, because it was a little bit of Brae coming out of Elder Beck. Haha. I'm still me!"

On May 27, Elder Beck wrote, "Happy Memorial Day! I'm not dead, but I hope you remembered me! Haha! Just look at my attempt at a joke!" He was happy to have had a zone meeting with his mission president and stake president. The main thing he learned was to find joy in the journey. Brae is really good at looking for the good in every person and every situation. He said, "I think everything on a mission is magnified: the good times are amazing, and the hard times are really hard. Luckily I am enjoying all of it." Then he went on to tell me that although they were disappointed at not having very many people at church that week, a sister who had not come in years was there. He said, "There's always the glimmer of a miracle, even in a tough situation."

They had a "pick-up fast" on Saturday, where their whole zone didn't use vehicles for a day. He and Elder Booth started out by hitching rides with the senior missionaries (Paul and Becky Robertson), and then after a while, just started walking. Here are the words every mom does not want to hear, "Drumroll please...we hitch-hiked! I never thought I would be saying those words! Five people honked at us, and one lady actually stopped, but in the end the senior missionaries just picked us up again. It was an adventure though! It was 90+ degrees and we walked about five miles." All I have to say about that is that I am grateful he has Heavenly Father's protection, and I am thankful for the senior missionaries!