Friday, January 25, 2013

January 22, 2013

Dear families of the missionaries in the West Virginia Charleston Mission,

As you know, we have just finished our “White Christmas” here in the mission.  We hope your missionaries told you about all the things we were doing to bring this about.  We started the last week of September and finished the end of December.  Each companionship was to teach and baptize someone in that length of time.  We talked about the importance of the missionaries becoming white themselves, in that they should try to be obedient and be better than they ever had before, so they were worthy of finding an elect person to teach.  The “white” in this Christmas gift was not just a baptism, but the missionaries becoming better themselves.  We have seen so many miracles because of their desire to be better, to work harder, and to have faith that they could do this.

There are 66 companionships and 10 couples right now.  We baptized 85 wonderful people during that time making it more than enough to cover every companionship.  We were working as a mission and as a mission we succeeded.  Not every companionship saw a baptism, but they contributed to the overall feeling and work and they are just as successful as the ones who did baptize.  We prayed every day at one, besides the other prayers we do, just so everyone felt connected and God knew we were serious.  

We also hit another goal we have had for a long time, that being to baptize 30 people in a month.  For some missions that is a week, but here that is a great month.  Well, in December we finally reached that goal as well.  We had 31 baptisms.  We are very thankful and happy and we want you to know how pleased and grateful we are for your son or daughter who is serving here.  The missionaries as a whole are more obedient and hard working than they have ever been.  They know the Lord is behind them in this work and that angels go before them, preparing the way.

We want to thank you for supporting them so much through these last few months.  Thank you for your prayers and for your encouragement to the missionaries.  Thank you for writing them on a weekly basis and lifting their spirits.  They love their families and love it when you get involved in what they are doing here.  Learn to know the people they are teaching and pray for them to truly allow the Holy Ghost to teach them and help them.  Those who study the gospel really have to make some major changes in their lives, so encouragement is always welcomed.

Again, thank you for allowing your missionary to be a part of this mission time with us.  We do truly love them and want them to love the doctrine of Christ so much that they will be changed forever.  May the Lord’s blessings be with you and your entire family this New Year.

Love and best wishes,

President and Sister Pitt

Encl:  Some of the miracles we saw during “White Christmas.”

White Christmas Miracles

Elders Dumke and Klain - Charleston AP

Marcie McDonald watched a MSNBC special on the church. She felt the Spirit prompt her to call her friend Shawn Long, who was a member of the church. Unbeknownst to Marcie, Sister Long has recently been reactivated. Marcie asked her if she could come to church with her the next day. She came and loved it, came for a few more weeks and then approached us and asked if she could meet with us to learn more about the church. We taught her first lesson in Sister Long’s home and set her with a baptismal date for 18 days later. She was baptized on her scheduled day, and now her husband has joined the church and they are on their way to having a Celestial Marriage.

Elders Mero and Maxwell - Charleston ZL

The Cottrells were found by the Montgomery Elders while visiting a part-member family in theit area. The Elders found out that Sister Cottrell was also a member who had been less-active but wanted to come back to church and had 4 children that she also wanted to have the gospel taught to. After receiving there address they found out that it was out of there area and they lived in a area where there were no missionary's serving. So we got a hold of the Beazers a senior couple in Flatwoods to go over and teach the first lesson. After a few short lessons they were set on date for Dec 16. They then were continued to be taught by the Charleston Zone Leaders and the Beazers until all four children were baptized on Dec 16. The family is now super active and loves coming to church and the kids love family scripture study and prayer. It was amazing to see how Lord led us to them and how much of change this awesome family has made!

Elder Mears and Bishop - Huntington ZL

For about 12 years Elaine has been very close to a family who are members, the Kirby's. After many years of numerous meals with the missionaries and countless spiritual thoughts, Elaine started to consider the idea of becoming a Mormon. The was about 5 years ago. Well in November Elaine asked to be put of the list for the scripture of the day that we send out every morning. We had our first lesson the very next day. By the second lesson Elaine was sure that she wanted to get baptized and she set a date for the next month. At this point she hadn't told her parents that she was even considering being baptized and she was afraid to tell them. Well after a couple lessons she made the decision and told her parents that she was meeting with us. Well her parents weren't very happy about that at all. Over the next few weeks before her baptism, her parents for consistently trying to talk her out of it. Elaine held strong to the her testimony during everything that happened and was baptized on Dec 16th. She has been very actively involved in teaching the primary since before she was baptized and now she is beginning to prepare to serve a mission a year from now.

Elder Hawes and Hansen - Morgantown University

Brad was one of the most prepared people to join the church. He served in the Military and as part of his training spent a few days in the wilderness. His only travel companion was a member of the church. During their time in the woods, they discussed many principles of the gospel. After returning to civilization, Brad made the resolve he would contact the missionaries. He had been studying on for the past few weeks, and began living the Word of Wisdom and other commandment. He was planning to attend church for the first time the Sunday before meeting the missionaries. He met the Elders and a member while they were tracting and was baptized just 2 weeks later, even bearing testimony at his own baptism. It was definitely one of the most amazing Christmas for us all.

Elder Collett and Olsen - Russell

Aaron Artrip is an 11 year old son of a Part-Member family.  He has a brother who's older who also got baptized a while ago and has been trying to get baptized for over a year now.  His mom is a member, and his dad isn't so it was a lot harder to get him to church, and to make everything work out right.  He was so close one time, but they went on vacation and seemed to get out of the habit of coming to church and we thought all hope was lost for a little bit there. Luckily we were able to continue to see them occasionally and keep their hope and fire burning just enough to have the smallest desire to keep going, and for them it seemed like they didn't even think it would be very soon for him to be baptized because his grandpa was the only one he wanted to baptize him, but he wasn't worthy to.

Just the week before Christmas we got a call from them that Aaron could be baptized on the 26th, basically setting himself with a baptismal date, because a different uncle was going to be in town who was an active, worthy member, that was coming to visit for a week or 2.  From that time forward we've been working with him constantly, and with only a week to set up the baptism and get everything ready we had a lot of support from the ward and from his family and were able to get everything taught, and ready for the baptism.  Now it seems like a weight has been lifted from that family and it's just a lot easier for them to do what's right.  It was definitely a miracle that he was able to be baptized so quickly and out of nowhere.  Without his family being an example to him and being the moving force behind him making the decision it really helped him to want to be baptized and is now a member with the Holy Ghost!

Elder Hess and Holmes - Martin

This White Christmas has helped bring some serious Miracles to pass here in Martin, Kentucky! The greatest miracle of all was the opportunity that we had to bring Brother Amos Conn into the church! He was so elect and knew from the first moment we talked to him that he needed to be a part of this Gospel. On the first day of the transfer (Nov. 14) the ward was having a Thanksgiving dinner. A less-active was at the party and asked us to come over to her house that weekend because she needed help to cast out some evil spirit that she could feel. We went there on that Saturday and helped her out, and that is when we found Amos. We met him on November 17 and he was Baptized on December 14. It was such an incredible answer to our prayers and a true miracle given to us from God.

Elder Makemson and Cluster - Clarksburg ZL

One White Christmas Miracle that we had was with the Norton family. We had been praying every day that we might be able to baptize during the months leading up to Christmas, and the Lord blessed us with one of the most amazing and prepared families I've ever known. I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers and knows each one of us perfectly.

On one Preparation Day, Elder Makemson and I were inside playing a board game when we got a referral sent to us on our phone. We had just finished trying to contact a media referral a few days before that didn't end very well. We were a little discouraged because of that and so we didn't get super excited when this referral came. We didn't even have an address that we could go to because the man lived off of some unknown route. Thankfully we had a phone number that we could call. We called it up, and a very nice man named Ron Norton answered the phone. He asked if we could meet up and set Chick-fil-a as the meeting place. The next day we met him there at lunch time and found out that he was a very friendly, clean shaven middle age man. We could tell that he was happy to see us, so of course that made us really happy to see him.

We went inside the restaurant and he offered to buy our meal. We thanked him and began to think that this might be too good to be true. We picked out a little table in the back and whipped out our copies of the Book of Mormon. He told us a little about himself before we really got started. We found out that Ron had been Catholic all his life, but became somewhat disillusioned by his church when they started to endorse political stand points such as who to vote for. So, him and his new wife started going to a community church, but they felt like something was missing. The spirit, ...along with Glen Beck... lead him to There he studied the Gospel Doctrines and messages from living prophets for over a month. When he felt the time was right he sent a message through saying that he wanted to meet up with us.

We tried to teach him the basics, but he had already gained a solid understanding of those. When asked how he felt about everything he said "I feel like this church is like a New Catholic church. It's exciting and I want to learn more." That's all we needed to hear as missionaries! Right then and there, inside a busy Chick-fil-a restaurant, we set him on date for baptism and he accepted.

The next week we went over to his place to meet the family. We then met his wonderful wife and two kids, age 13 and 5. His wife was raised Baptist and didn't have the same knowledge of the LDS church that Ron had. Still, she said that she wanted to learn as did their 13 year old son, so we set them on date for baptism as well.

In time the answer that the church is true came to the whole family in the form of their 5 year old son Brody. They came in one day to find him praying on his knees for the first time. When they asked him what he was doing he responded that he was praying about his new church. At that point the spirit touched their hearts, and they knew that the church was true.

The day that all three of them were baptized was a wonderful day that none of us will forget. It was amazing to see the change in them through the light that came into their lives. They were happy and we were overjoyed! I will never forget the Norton family and the love that the Lord showed to us by having us teach them. The church is true. I know it and the Nortons know it.

Elder J. Johnson and Guthrie - Richlands

Matt Hardin was a media referral that lived in Grundy WV. When matt was 7 years old he bought a Book of Mormon at a library sale for twenty-five cents. He read it and by the time he was 14 had collected a small library of LDS literature. At age 23 he contacted the missionaries via a few months ago. We made an appointment and traveled out to see him. Matt accepted to be baptized on the first visit and was excited to do so. He was completely receptive at every lesson and kept every commitment diligently. He was baptized three weeks from the time of our first visit. His baptism was a magnificent experience for everyone who attended. matt gave us a small thank you note that said:

Elders, thank you for your time and efforts in teaching me the principles of the restored gospel.  I have known the church was true and spent many years without the blessings of membership and the covenant of baptism. Thank you once again, for now i can take my rightful place among the saints."

Matt was a true miracle and will bless the lives of many.

Elder Blaser and Kleiman - Gallipolis

This White Christmas was one of the best journeys we have had on the mission. While teaching Jeff Golden we learned so much from him but we also learned a lot about ourselves teaching him. He was hanging with a Member in the ward and we invited him to play Basketball , he then started asking questions about why we were out on missions what we believed, For 6 weeks he came to church and he made his decision on getting Baptized but had to tell his family. His family was not receptive to the fact he was becoming a Mormon, They kicked him out, his brother stopped talking to him for a bit and their friendship isn't the same. yet he knew the Church was true and he couldn't turn away from his testimony he received. Jeff was baptized on November 10th, A White Christmas we will never forget. When I asked him how he received his final decision, he said "How could I deny this if it brings me closer to my Heavenly Father."  We are grateful for Jeff Golden and his decision this White Christmas Season.

Elder Solomon and Morgan - Blacksburg University

Katie Scalia is one of the elect that we're always looking for as missionaries and was definitely an answer to our White Christmas prayers.  One of her friends had invited her to Institute one night.  We were able to catch her afterwards and ask her if she would like to learn more about our church.  She obviously accepted.  Over the next several weeks we taught her everything and she absorbed it all.  She just wanted to learn.  She said that everything we shared with her "just made sense."  She was baptized November 3rd.  She's now busy trying to convert all of her friends.  I'm sure that many other baptisms will come because of her commitment to this gospel.  May we remember the blessings that are ever secured through prayer.

Elder Havertz and Chavez - Bluefield

Danny Meade is an amazing man. He is married to a wonderful member of the Church. About a year and a half ago, the Sisters started coming by to visit the Meade's regularly. Most recently Elder and Sister Green have been coming by to teach them. After returning from vacation he made the commitment to be baptized. We set him with a date on Monday and he was baptized that Sunday. Brother Meade is a very charitable man and is always looking for a way to help others. In fact after he was baptized he bought an entire Christmas dinner for a less fortunate sister in the ward. He didn't want any recognition for the act so he had Elder Anderson and I deliver the food. I'm sure he'll be an example to so many others in the coming years. He already is an example to me.

Elder and Sister Clifton - Hazard

Katie referred herself on after attending the branch for quite a few weeks. She awaited missionaries to come into the area, so she could be baptized.

I want to tell you about Katie Smith's baptism.  We had a nice program all planned although I was concerned that we wouldn't have enough Priesthood there.  I called a couple of Brethren and was assured they'd be there to 'cover the bases'.  Then it started to snow-very lightly.  Apparently snow creates real problems for the members here, especially those who live up narrow, winding 'roads'.  We then got a text from the Elders saying they would be there.  Thank you for allowing that.  It made all the difference.  As it turns out, the only people who decided to brave the weather were the Elders, President James and his wife (who spoke on Baptism), Sister Little the R.S. President, us and Katie and her mother...she came and was very gracious.  The baptism went well and President James decided we would confirm her then thinking that there may not be many in Church today.  An inspired decision!Katie is a remarkable young woman.  She has a strong testimony and will be a great asset to this little Branch.  We feel blessed to have been able to play a very small part in her decision to be baptized.Thanks again for allowing the Elders to attend.  I don't know how we would have managed without them.

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