Thursday, June 26, 2014

Alabama Birmingham Mini Missions!

Missionaries in the three Huntsville area Zones of Madison, Huntsville North and Huntsville Southeast were grateful for the opportunity to help 16 and 17 year old youth to become more familiar with missionary life as they prepare themselves for their next big steps: into the mission field themselves!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Senior Spotlight: The Spechts

Twenty-three months ago, Elder Clifford and Sister Christine Specht left their home in San Diego, CA and entered the Missionary Training Center en route to their assignment in LA (Lower Alabama).  After almost two years in the mission field, they have “seen and done just about everything.”

As Member and Leadership Support missionaries, Elder and Sister Specht have served in numerous Church positions in the Greenville Branch in the southern-most reaches of the Alabama Birmingham Mission (please remember, that there is still more of Alabama below them – the part that contains the second best mission in the Church).  In addition to their activities in the Church, they’ve also been busy being representatives of the Church as well.  Small towns throughout the country have benefitted from such MLS missionaries, and Greenville is no exception.

The Spechts have participated in everything from crochet clubs to yoga groups at the local YMCA, as well as an Interfaith Council of ministers that’s led to new relationships and opportunities to introduce the Restored Gospel to members of the community.  Not only have the Spechts invited many, many different people to Church activities, they also found great success by participating in – and even helping with - activities of other groups and denominations.  This has led to not only community members reciprocating with visits to the chapel for such programs as talent shows – helped by such wonderful younger missionaries such as Sisters Lewis and Thorup – but also in holding “open Family Home Evenings as many nights a week as possible,” regular Family History nights, and with many of those who are not-yet members accepting invitations to – and completing – the active Addiction Recovery Program.

Elder and Sister Specht, as adult converts, have now followed their children into the mission field, although Alabama is far from Uruguay and Brazil where two of their children served.  Unlike their children, however, as MLS missionaries, this Senior Couple has not been actively “proselyting.”  Nonetheless, people they’ve met and helped teach have accepted the Gospel and been baptized.  In fact, “baptizing through not proselyting” has come as an easy and natural thing.  People who watch and observe see true happiness in a companionship; as they themselves are helped, they see the principles of The Gospel in action and want more that for themselves.  And, in a wonderfully circular way, the Specht’s own testimonies of Gospel Principles have grown dramatically.

Elder Specht, with his Nebraska roots as a highschool wrestling and football coach has forever attached himself to Sister Specht’s Southern California roots.  Now, they’ll add family members – Church family members – from the South to their children and twelve grandchildren in Washington State as they complete their great service.  Their message to potential senior couples?  “There’s no life like missionary life!”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Photos from May Zone Conferences!

Bessemer Zone Conference:

Birmingham Zone Conference:

Huntsville Zone Conference:

Montgomery Zone Conference:

Tupelo Zone Conference:

Friday, June 20, 2014

THANK YOU from Sister Austin

From the moment I first started moderating this blog, I was very aware that this blog is not about me- it’s about the missionaries of the Alabama Birmingham Mission, and that’s who I’ve tried to focus on. That said, I hope you will allow me to take a few inches of blog space for a personal comment.

When I accepted the task of creating this blog, I was told that I would receive blessings for my service.  However, blessings were the last thing in my mind as I embarked upon the creation of the Mission Blog.  I was so excited to finally be able to use my technical skills for the Lord!  I was excited to be part of the missionary effort taking place in my corner of the world!  I was excited to be able to serve in general! I have a severe case of a disease that is very difficult to treat. Because of this disease, I was unable to serve in other various callings in my ward and stake.  However, hosting a mission blog?  That I could do!  And I happily started posting and typing away.

Then the blessings started rolling in.  Step by step I was lead by the Spirit to find a Specialist to treat my disease- one of the best in the world- located a few hours away from where I live.  I underwent surgery this week.  I had been told by the AB Mission Presidency that all of the missionaries were praying for me this week.  With that kind of spiritual firepower behind me, how could this surgery not be a success?!  And it was a GREAT success- miraculous really!  I woke up in the recovery room realizing that I have been given an amazing blessing.  I attribute it to the power of prayer and faith, especially the prayers of your great missionaries.

I arrived home today and found over 30 cards and letters in my mailbox from Elders and Sisters all over the Mission.  I cried like a baby while opening those letters and cards.  There was so much love and faith in their words.  I love reading their testimonies, their jokes, and their favorite scriptures. 

I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU.  Thank you to the missionaries for their prayers, faith, and love.  Thank you to the parents and family of our missionaries for raising such amazing and faithful sons and daughters.  Thank you to the Mission Presidency for their support.   Thank you to all of you who support our blog! 

Now back to your regular missionary themed posts :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tornado Time in Alabama and Mississippi

Tornado Time in Alabama and Mississippi – and yes, some people really do choose to live here! 

 By this time you’ve all had the opportunity to read President Hanks’ letter indicating that all missionaries were safe, notwithstanding the widespread damage that was sustained in cities, both large and small, throughout the Mission. 

Certainly, the story is about safety; certainly it’s about the wonderful protection for which we are all so very grateful. Yet, the other part of the story is still unfolding. 

Both ABM missionaries as well as members throughout the region and beyond have been engaged in the clean up and repairs – extending more and more service on behalf of others irrespective of religious traditions or affiliations. Of the thousands of hours of assistance rendered, the photography that follows is the merest sampling of the work. Naturally, the ubiquitous yellow Mormon Helping Hands shirts are recognized more and more widely, especially when such service work is offered without any charge or expectation. 

 This is in direct contrast to disaster conditions in years past when so many of the “relief workers” have sought compensation for their efforts, making recipients suspicious of help offered. Many times, grateful recipients have spoken not only about the help they’ve received, but how their faith in good people, doing good things for good reasons, has been restored. 

 Your missionaries, laboring among these people, continue to make significant contributions to the communities they live in; they continue to demonstrate that the Latter-day Saints among them are people who are ready to pitch in and work long and hard on behalf of others of Our Heavenly Father’s children.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Tender Surprise at the Huntsville Zone Conference

On May 23, the missionaries of the Huntsville zone planned and executed a wonderful, and tender, and completely unexpected surprise for President and Sister Hanks. 

 Asked to sit in the front of the assembled Zones, President and Sister Hanks heard the familiar strains of “Because I have been given much.” 

 However, the words were considerably different from the ones in the Hymnal. The traditional third verse, attributed to the LDS Composer Kenneth Cope became the first verse of this tribute: 

Friday, June 13, 2014

May 2014 Transfers!

One of the largest transfers in Mission History took place in May, involving 93 different companionships (none of those involving Senior Couples).  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Family's Guide to the Alabama Birmingham Mission Area (or, "Where's My Missionary?")

A Family Guide to the Mission

Just got a letter after a transfer meeting?  You now know which area your favorite Elder or Sister is serving in, but when you start to search through Zone Conference photography you don’t know which area or district – or even zone for that matter – to refine your search? 

If so, here’s the answer to every Mother’s Prayer: 

Overall, there are typically five zone conferences, which actually include more than just one zone each:  Bessemer, Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Tupelo.

Attending the Bessemer Zone Conferences, you’ll find the Bessemer East and the Bessemer West zones - including the areas of Alabaster, Columbiana, Lorna, Hoover, and Inverness in the east and Tuscaloosa, Northport, Demopolis, Ensley, Jasper and Bessemer

Attending the Birmingham Zone Conferences, you will find the Birmingham Central and Birmingham Northeast zones – including the areas of Vestavia Hills, Birmingham, Cahaba Heights, Altadena, and Gardendale in Central, and  Gadsden, Anniston, Locust Fork, Talladega, Leeds, Sylacauga and the new area of Attala in the Northeast.

Attending the Huntsville Zone Conference, you will find the Huntsville North and the Huntsville Southeast, along with the Madison zones – including areas of Weatherly, Byrd Springs, Fayetteville, Sparkman,  Capshaw and Huntsville in the North;  Monte Sano, Scottsboro, Guntersville, Fort Payne and Boaz in the Southeast; and Cullman, Madison, Athens, Decatur in the Madison zone

Attending the Montgomery Zone Conference, you will find the Montgomery North and Montgomery South zones – including Tuskegee, Wetumpka, Alexander City, Millbrook, Prattville, and Clanton in the North; with Montgomery, Highland Home, Greenville, Selma, Magnolia and Camden in the South

And, attending the Tupelo Zone, you will find the Tupelo North and Tupelo South zones – including Savannah, Corinth, Booneville, New Albany, Tupelo, Amory, Haleyville, Hamilton, Russellville, Columbia, West Point and Starkville.

Of course, if you’re related to and/or interested in President and Sister Hanks – or one of the Assistants – you’ll be able to see vestiges of each of them in all Zone Conferences.

For more information, visit our Mission Location Information Page.

Psst- This post will be very handy on Friday, June 13 when a HUGE amount of pictures from the last transfer will go live on our blog.  Now you'll know where all of the missionaries are going!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

May Baptisms!

As always, the month of May was busy in the Birmingham Alabama Mission.  We made a lot of new friends and had a lot of Baptisms!  A big welcome to all of our new members!

On a side note from the Blog Administrator: These baptism posts are some of my favorite to create. When I look into the faces of these people who have made this amazing (and sometimes difficult) choice, I feel the Spirit so strongly testifying that the Gospel is true.  Our missionaries are truly taking up Christ's call to be "Fishers of Men" and inviting others to "Come Follow Me".

The Gospel is true!  Christ's love is real!

I hope you can feel that as you look into the faces of our new members.

-Sister Austin.