Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cottage Meetings

Sunday, September 12th we will host our third cottage meeting in the mission home. They have been wonderful evenings and we definitely look forward to the this next one. Suzie and Craig were here last month and Aisling will join us for this one. Our plan is to have one on the second Sunday of each month.

The cottage meeting centers around three or four recent converts sharing their conversion journey. They typically talk about how they encountered the church, what aspect of the message touched them and their testimony. We also try to arrange a special musical number from the missionaries.

After the converts speak, Ada and I share a few thoughts and our testimonies.

It is a wonderful Spirit-filled meeting and time and time again the investigators are touched. The following is from Elder Spencer after the August cottage meeting.

"This week was awesome. We have been working with this part member family. The wife is way active and now he has started to be interested. We have been teaching him for a long time and he has started to come to church. They took us to cottage meeting and he loved it. On the way home he said that he has decided to be baptized on the 4th of September."

Dan was baptized last weekend - one of 19 throughout the mission.

The missionaries will invite their investigators and arrange with a fellowshipping member for a ride. We've had 120 or so people here each time. That is about 30 investigators, about 40 members and 50 missionaries. You can imagine that it kind of fills up our living room, front entry, dining room and family room. The missionaries sit on the stairs and upstairs landing.

Right after church, some missionaries come over and empty the main floor of almost all the furniture.
Most of it stacks in the garage and more in the guest bedroom. Then they set up folding chairs from the church. The photos show the front room before the chairs are set up and one at the end of the evening. You can't see the chairs all set up to the right through the dining area.

People start arriving shortly before 7:00 pm. The meeting is just under an hour then we serve water and cookies baked by Ada and Sister Scott, a church service missionary who works in the office. Emily has also helped bake.

With that many people in the house the air conditioner just can not keep up. We are very grateful that it is cooler now than it was in August.

Everyone mingles and visits for another half hour or so and by 9:30 the house is all put back together.

Although our mission is not that large, it is an hour-and-a-half each way for people from Bellingham, Ferndale and points north. Ada and I have discussed that it would be good to find a way to hold cottage meetings in different places so that more will be able to participate. We are still working on that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Mission and the Area

I thought it would be good to give you an overview of the mission.

The Missionaries

We are assigned 196 full time missionaries. For a variety of reasons the actual number fluctuates around that - usually lower. That number, called mission complement, is broken down as follows:

  • 12 sister missionaries

  • 22 Spanish speaking elders

  • 6 senior missionaries (3 couples)

  • 156 elders

In addition, there are 8 other missionaries (4 couples) on church service missions. This means that they live locally and come in for 20 to 30 hours per week. Their time is more flexible and they serve in the day and then go home to be parents and grandparents for the rest of the time. They help in mission office with records, finance, coordinate housing, vehicles and other matters.

The Church

The Church is very strong and mature here. There are ten stakes within the mission boundaries and over 33,000 members in about 90 wards and branches. The stakes are (from the north):

  • Bellingham

  • Mount Vernon

  • Marysville

  • Snohomish

  • Everett

  • Lynnwood

  • Shoreline

  • Bothell

  • Kirkland

  • Redland

Our mission is part of the North America Northwest Area. This comprises stakes and missions in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. I noted one indication about the maturity of the Area in a recent report. There are approximately 1500 missionaries serving in the Area. There are approximately 2300 missionaries serving from the Area.

Most of the members in the mission are part of the Seattle Temple district.The Seattle Temple is in the community of Bellevue just east of Seattle, about 6 miles outside of our mission. The members in the Bellingham Stake are part of the Vancouver Temple district.

The Area

The Washington Everett Mission is a smaller mission, taking in the northwest corner of the state of Washington. Our boundaries are as follows:

  • On the north: the Canadian border
  • On the east: the Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish county boundaries - which is also the watershed line for the Cascade mountain range
  • On the west: a border out in the water between US and Vancouver Island, Canada and the Washington Olympic Peninsula
  • On the south: essentially a line along the southern edge of the communities of Shoreline, Kirkland and Redmond

The mission is comprised of the following counties: Whatcom, San Juan, Skagit, Island, Snohomish, and a slice of the northern edge of King County.

For any purist, there is a little tip of a peninsula off of the mainland portion of British Columbia called Point Roberts, which is part of Whatcom County. It is American soil because it lies south of the 49th parallel. However, anyone who lives there is part of a Vancouver stake so it is outside of the mission.

The mission takes its name from Everett, the largest city in the mission. The mission offices and the mission home where we live are actually in Mill Creek, a small community just a few miles southeast of Everett.

It is 90 miles from our house to the furthest missionaries in Blaine, WA. (The missionaries in a couple of other areas take longer to get to because of ferry schedules.) Most of the population lives within 5 miles either side of I-5 and I-405. So although the mission is over 100 miles wide, we hardly venture more than 10 to the east. We feel very blessed to be here. Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but we can easily visit the missionaries, investigators, church members and leaders whenever we need to. Especially having Nathan and Emily with us, we can be where ever we need to be and still get back home each night.

The economy is fairly diverse in the area: high tech, aeronautics, agriculture, shipping, military, and logging. Everett is the home to the Boeing Company. There are two naval bases within the mission. Microsoft headquarters are in Redmond. The raspberry and tulip capitols of the US are here along with an abundance of other cool weather crops.

There are four other missions in Washington - three missions along the coast and two inland.

  • Seattle: just south of us
  • Tacoma: south of Seattle - taking in Tacoma, the Olympic Peninsula and south to Oregon
  • Spokane: the northern 1/2 of the state from the Cascades an into part of Idaho
  • Kennewick: the southern 1/2 of the state from about Portland to Idaho. It also includes part of northeastern Oregon.
We will have a world map in our home showing where the missionaries are from. Right now we have missionaries serving from all over the US, and also Canada, New Zealand and Cambodia.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


This was a very exciting week --On Monday we had five elders and one sister returning home. They had their final interview with the President. (Yes, I'm referring to your dad in the third person which thing I never cared for, but it's expected here.) We served them lunch here at our home --- pulled pork on toasted buns --- had a short testimony meeting, and then sent them on their way to the airport. I am excited for their mothers who are ten kinds of happy right now!

Tuesday was a special day ---TEN NEW MISSIONARIES arrived! These included the six Spanish learners whom we were able to meet at the MTC while we were there, so they were OUR elders! In addition there were four other English speaking elders who were in the MTC after we left. I opted not to make the airport trip so that I could be home with Emily and have lunch ready. We fed them ---same menu--- took pictures, then headed over to the nearby church which houses the mission office. (SO convenient and such a blessing!) While President conducted interviews, the office couples oriented them concerning cars, housing, $$, etc. I took my turn explaining medical procedures. By the end, they were pretty glazed over and tired.

However, soon we could hear and FEEL the buzz of energy out in the hall as, first, zone leaders, and then trainers gathered. As those who will teach the new missionaries, "trainer" is an especially important leadership position in a mission.

There were so many highlights during this day, but my favorite has to be when President announced the new companionships. As each trainer enthusiastically embraced or greeted his missionary, you could sense the instant love and support they felt. Lots of bear hugs and smiles; some just looked very comfortable together. A wonderful moment for each one.

Another highlight was unexpected ---the two assistants came in and told me there was a medical question in another room. I innocently stepped into a little room filled with our 20 zone leaders who proceeded to give me an enthusiastic standing ovation! I have no idea why! Perhaps it was because, medically speaking, I had "done no harm" to that point! As I told them, "There's a lot of power in this room." That was certainly true. I will remember this for a long time.

Finally, I was able to witness TRANSFERS for the first time! The Washington Everett Mission handles these very efficiently, I think. Every missionary who is moving gets a ride from a member to the Mill Creek chapel. They then find out where they are going, make the switch, and head to their next area in another member car. It was fun to watch as missionary friends who hadn't seen each other for a while greeted each other with great affection. Toss in the new missionaries and it looks like organized chaos until suddenly the parking lot is empty again.

The topper for all this came on Friday when we gathered the new missionaries and their trainers back for further training and we listened to some of the experiences they'd had already. As one elder said, "I saw it all yesterday, and it was good."--meaning, he'd had good and bad experiences, but knew that the good felt SO good, the bad didn't matter. We heard some simply wonderful and wonderfully simple testimonies.

This was, of course, our first new missionary orientation, but your Dad did a masterful job. Even I took notes! (I made a short presentation about manners/appearance and why they are important. Dad helped me by portraying the slouchy missionary.) These young men are so ready to do whatever you ask and that is very humbling. Please keep them in your prayers.

THIS WEEK: We are preparing for our first Zone Leader Council

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting started

Hi, Family!

Today is the last day of our first month here in the Washington Everett Mission. You have all been very patient and understanding of our "information blackout."--- We have discovered that being a new mission president (and wife) feels like trying to jump onto a playground merry-go-round going full speed. With the Lord's help and two able assistants, (Elder Nelson and Elder Johnson) we are on the merry-go-round and hanging on for dear life! We have been busy beyond comprehension, but we know that you are all anxious to hear the details of our experiences thus far. Welcome to our blog! (Dad writing, Mom editing this time...)

So much to tell you. I'll just jot down a list of topics to draw upon for future posts...
  • Mission Presidents Seminar at the MTC
  • Our trip here
  • New missionary calendar
  • Weather / trees / our mission area
  • Ada's time, medical
  • Emily and Nathan
  • Baptisms
  • Teaching appts with the missionaries
  • Stake leaders
  • Interviews
  • Cottage meeting in our home
  • Transfers
  • and more
It seems that every day we are doing something new - the first time speaking impromptu; the first time feeding missionaries in our home, and hence, the first trip to Costco; the first time orienting new missionaries; the first time through transfers; the first time planning a zone leader council; the first sprained ankle. You get the idea.

There is no time to go back and be better prepared. Nor can we delay something to have more time to get ready. We can't call up the MTC and say, "Please keep those elders a few more days while we get ready here." Ten new missionaries are coming - ready or not, here they come! And ready or not we will have an orientation with them. And will have initial interviews with each of them. And will determine who should be their trainer companion and where they will serve.

I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to find the pause button. There is none. It can be very humbling.

On top of incredibly busy days, we got off to a rough start with technology. Maybe in another post I'll comment on that, but for now, the good news is that I have a cell phone that works and our computers here in the mission home and at the mission office can send and receive email.

Well, that is probably enough for now to get started. Please feel free to send questions. And, while what we write will be primarily addressed to you, our family, feel free to pass on the blog reference to others that express interest.

We love you. It is an incredible blessing to be involved in this work of saving souls. Our young missionaries are absolutely wonderful and are so supportive of us while we learn. We are reminded each and every day in numerous ways that this is the Lord's work and that He is directing it.