Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Elder Gull's first area is Apple Valley up in the desert above San Bernardino.  His trainer's name is Elder Bowler, and we are told that he is a good, hard working missionary.  We are all so happy and excited for Elder Gull, and can't wait to hear from him about his new and first area.  He looks happy and we couldn't be more thrilled to see these pictures of him as a glowing Full time missionary.  

Elder Gull with President and Sister Godwin

The new missionaries right off the plane. 
Elder Gull is in the center.  

Here is a letter sent to Mom and Dad from President and Sister Godwin:

Dear Brother and Sister Gull,

We wanted to write to you and express our gratitude to you for sharing your son with us for the next two years.  We have enjoyed meeting him.  Attached are a couple of pictures we thought you would enjoy seeing.  He is a very talented young man and we have enjoyed our interactions with him and look forward to many more.  We know he will share with you his experience arriving here, but we thought we would share our abbreviated experience also.  We apologize for the impersonal nature of the internet, but we wanted to send a note and some pictures and thought this would be a little faster. 
We met the arriving missionaries at the Ontario airport.  Elder Gull  along with eight other Elders and three sisters arrived at the airport about 9:30 this morning.  They looked amazing as they were coming down the escalator - all the elders in white crisp shirts, new suits and shined shoes.  While we were waiting for their luggage, we had a quick visit with each of them.  They were excited and just a little uneasy, (maybe more than a little) wondering what was happening next.  The assistants to the president (AP's) had been driving around the area in a pick-up truck and two vans, waiting for us to call them to come and get them.  We called, they arrived and all luggage was loaded into the vehicles.  We transported them to the Etiwanda LDS chapel where all the other missionaries that were being transferred as well as the new missionaries trainers, were waiting.  The whole chapel was full as we brought in the new missionaries.  It is a pretty exciting meeting for all involved.
We left the chapel with the new missionaries and a load of chairs in the AP’s truck and went to the the Glen Helen Park at the mouth of the Cajon Pass.  Sister Mills, a local historian, (she is an amazing sister who loves to meet the missionaries) met us there and told us how the area had been settled.  The first settlement efforts were conducted by Spanish missionaries, and Spanish landowners starting about 1810.  During the U.S. Mexican war the Mormon Battalion (the only religiously based battalion in U.S. history) was organized in Iowa in 1847 and after a march through what would become the Southwestern part of the U.S. it arrived in San Diego and was eventually stationed in what would become San Bernardino and the surrounding areas.  Jefferson Hunt, a Captain in the Mormon Battalion was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as were all the members of the battalion.  Since many people call Church members Mormons, the Battalion was known as the Mormon Battalion.  Among its many assignment a portion of the Mormon Battalion was sent to guard the Cajon pass and protect it from possible marauding Indians. After the members of the Mormon Battalion were mustered out of their service, they returned to Salt Lake City to join their families.  President Young saw that Southern California could be a valuable supply route for the Utah pioneers.  So to establish a mail route and a supply stop/route for immigrants coming through California, President Young used church funds to buy property in the desired area from Antonio Maria Lugo, a Mexican rancher who had obtained a 35,000 acre grant after Mexico won independence from Spain.  Twenty families were asked by President Young to colonize the area.  Fifteen former Battalion men and their families were among the Saint who settled in the area in 1851, including Captain Jefferson Hunt.  The story of the settling the area here in San Bernardino was told in a story written by Sister Mills for the February, 2003 Ensign, if you are interested in reading more about it.    
After the experience at the park we took the new Elders to the mission home to have lunch and an orientation meeting.  After the meeting about medical, financial and transportation issues they had initial interview with President Godwin. We then cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and a little relaxing time where the missionaries could socialize with one another.  Later that evening their transportation arrived and they went to their various apartments to begin their service here.  
Also for your information, we wanted to tell you about what we have been doing prior to your missionary’s arrival here in the field.
We  (President and I) have been involved in training the zone and district leaders in the new Simplified curriculum for the past few months.  They, the zone leaders and district leaders will be involved in teaching the same program to all other missionaries in their areas.  We, along with members of the mission presidency and other senior missionaries will be attending those various meetings for the next few months.  This program will be taught to all new missionaries when they report to the MTC beginning in May of this year.  By that time, all of the missionaries here in the mission will know the program.  Preach My Gospel is the text the missionaries will continue to use, but there is an additional approach that has been prayerfully directed by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.  We were told in the MTC this past July in the Mission President's Seminar that they have spent many, many hours on bended knee and in the temple receiving inspiration on how to make it easier for the missionaries to teach and the investigators to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The use of additional principles contained within Preach My Gospel are being used to invite the Spirit in the initial interactions with a new investigator.  This process allows ample opportunity for the missionaries to ask inspired questions and then address the needs of those they teach.  The principle of the Doctrine of Christ is taught first where possible, but following the Spirit is still essential for the direction of the work.  The knowledge of the material in Preach My Gospel is vital to teaching by the Spirit, but not in rote fashion.    
We hope this information will be helpful to you. Some of it may may be retold to you by your missionary, but hopefully you have learned something you didn't know before.  
We are looking forward to working with your son in this most wonderful of experiences - preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in this area.  There is a lot of diversity here.  He will learn a lot about other cultures. We know your son will be a fine missionary.  He is a wonderful young man.  
If you have any questions, please ask us anytime.  
Warmest regards,

Sister Godwin 
President Godwin

Again we are so excited for Elder (Taylor) Gull and can't wait to hear more from him.

I hope to have his new address posted soon, in the mean time just send everything to the mission office.  

Thanks Everyone!

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