Sunday, December 6, 2015

Visit to the Mission from Elder Dube of the First Quorum of the Seventy!

Each year, at least one General Authority – and almost always his wife – visit each of the 418 Missions of The Church for a “Mission Tour.”  The Mission Tour lasts several days and involves a variety of meetings both with full-time serving missionaries as well as with members and local leaders.  This year, our visiting General Authority was Elder Edward Dube of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his wife.  (His biographic sketch is included in the beginning of the two multi-zone conferences photo albums.)

Elder and Sister arrived quite late Tuesday night the 17th of November and started early the next morning with a group picture and introductions to individual missionaries from the three southern zones of the Mission (Montgomery, Birmingham and Bessemer).  Since the pictures and introductions had to be over in time to start the actual conference itself at 9:00 a.m., one can easily imagine what time missionaries had to leave their apartments from their distant areas of labor.   Additionally, they had all dedicated  themselves with study and preparation to get the most out of the meetings.

For all that such an early hour might mean for the usual 18-21 year old, there was no sleepiness throughout the day!   And, to that point, Elder Dube emphasized his deep belief in rising early to do the work we’re assigned:  “If you want to raise your area, you’ve got to raise yourself first (with meanings on several levels) and leave your area better than you found it.”  Further, Elder and Sister Dube’s enthusiasm, along with their topics and presentation styles were complemented – as usual – by President and Sister Hanks. 

Thus the pattern was set for what followed the next day in Huntsville.  Training from both couples filled the morning, a great lunch was provided by Sisters from the Stake Relief Society, and the afternoon recommenced with additional training through 4:00 p.m.  Selected missionaries were then interviewed by Elder Dube, and the day ended for the missionaries to return to their respective areas. 

Elder and Sister Dube, accompanied by President and Sister Hanks, then travelled from Inverness to Bessemer to enjoy a dinner with leadership of the Bessemer Stake, followed by attend a Stake Adult fireside that evening presided over by Elder Dube. 

Early Thursday, the Dubes and Hanks left Birmingham for the Huntsville Stake Center for the conference of the three northern zones of the Mission: Huntsville, Madison and Tupelo (Mississippi).  Following the interviews of selected missionaries, the couples returned that evening to Birmingham and began to prepare for the Special Mission Leadership Council (MLC) meeting the next morning.

At the MLC meeting, once again in Inverness, Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders were provided exceptional training that was designed to help them become better leaders, trainers, and especially, Disciples of The Lord Jesus Christ.  Following a short lunch, additional training was provided, after which there were more interviews of selected Mission Leaders.  President and Sister Hanks then escorted the Dubes to the Birmingham airport, where Elder Dube flew off in one direction on another assignment over the weekend and Sister Dube returned to their home in Salt Lake City.

 Of the hundreds of influential points made during these activities, one of the most meaningful was the amount of dedicated and consecrated effort put forth – as an example to young missionaries – by General Authorities of The Church.  The intensity of the schedule described above doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of planning, organization, preparation, travel across multiple time zones that goes into such a Mission Tour – and that’s only one of a General Authority’s many responsibilities.

We were truly blessed!

- President Nolan

Elder Dube Visit: Special Mission Leadership Council 20 November 2015

Elder Dube Visit: Northern Multizone (Huntsville, Madison and Tupelo zones) 19 November 2015

Elder Dube Visit: Southern Multizone (Birmingham, Bessemer and Montgomery zones) 18 November 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

September MLC

These are some great pictures of our September Mission Leadership Council, or MLC.  Want more info on what an MLC is and what it entails?  Check out President Nolan's explanation in this July 2014 blog post!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September Temple Trips

Note from President Nolan: "Apologies for not having photography of all the temple sessions - just wasn't possible this time - I send my regrets to those parents and friends who won't see their favorite missionary!"

Luckily, there are still lots of missionaries in these pictures! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July Transfers!

Sorry it's taken a little while to get the pictures up on the blog! Also a special shout out to the Harris family for the gentle reminder :)  We love our missionaries and we LOVE their families!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Problem Solving on the Job: How the AL Birmingham Missionaries get things done!

On June 27, the Huntsville and Madison Alabama Stakes hosted a Patriotic Celebration and Concert for the local communities in North Alabama.  Hundreds of people were expected to attend, and of course our missionaries jumped at the chance to help set up!  One problem- the cart of chairs that needed to be set up had rolled back further under the cultural hall stage than anyone could reach. So Elder Littleford got a little creative and did some problem solving to bring the chairs back out...

Monday, March 23, 2015

February Montgomery Zone Conference

Note about the coverage of the February zone conferences...

Our photographer had some other critical responsibilities during the Bessemer and Birmingham Zone Conferences and was not able to capture those on film.  As a result, we're only able to bring you photos from the Tupelo, Montgomery, and Huntsville Zone conferences.  Many apologies!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Senior Spotlight: The Hepworths – serving an extended mission in Camden, AL

Although Elder and Sister Hepworth were originally called to serve a 12 month, Member and Leadership Support (MLS) mission in Camden, AL, they extended their mission another six months in October 2014. 

Why?  “Because we felt we were needed here more than at home,” says Sister Hepworth.

This is not to say that they do not miss their five children and 18 grandchildren mightily, but with technology it seems that all things are possible.  From weekly family blog entries to regularly scheduled Facetime and Skype conversations, they are able to keep up with events at home just as well as if they were back in Centerville, UT. 

 At the close of a mission well-served, The Hepworths can look back to the start of their assignment to serve among the 1,900 people in this rural Alabama town from the beginning: a “self-designed mission” that reflected their own skills and talents as measured against the needs of the small Camden Branch.  Never, in all the callings that they have served in, have they felt as challenged or as fulfilled as they have in the many responsibilities they have undertaken. 

As just one of many instances, Sister Hepworth gave up playing the piano more than 25 years ago, simply because there were so many very gifted pianists in the wards they’d lived in – whether in Utah or in Portland, Oregon.  Yet, upon attending the first Sacrament meeting and finding that the music was provided by a CD Player, she knew immediately that she could no longer hide that particular talent under a bushel.

 Sister Hepworth’s Church service experience was almost precisely mirrored by her opportunities in Camden: as a former Primary President, she was able to help meet the needs of the Branch’s children; as a former Young Women’s President, she could assist in their further development; her service in Stake Relief Society Presidencies helped bring a renewed sense of sisterly kindness, charity and service – not only among the Branch members but others in the community. 

In fact, townspeople of different faiths and experiences have often referred to them as “Our town’s missionaries” when speaking of the Hepworths to visitors.  Small wonder, then, that when three of the Hepworth’s daughters visited recently, they were embraced and “nearly formally adopted” at the close of a three day trip.  The wonderful, plain-spoken and open people of Camden were “amazing” in how quickly they embraced The Hepworths as “immediate family.”  With quiet humor, Sister Hepworth compared the fixation that Relief Society sisters out West sometimes have with ensuring that the table napkins match perfectly to the simple, wonderful and loving character that she found in this little branch - just enjoying each others’ company, while working toward a common good.

Elder Hepworth’s previous Church service similarly prepared him to maximize his impact: everything from early morning Seminary teaching, Young Men President, three different High Councils to five years as a Bishop all gave him experience that would be for others’ good.  Yet, the most impact that their previous service provided to the Branch was their service as Temple Ordinance workers.  A concentration – in cooperation with two-time Branch President McIntosh - on Family History work led to much activity and activation, with one sister having recently completed the indexing of over 22,000 names; for others, it meant considerably increased temple attendance in spite of the 300 miles roundtrip.

At bottom, however, the Camden Branch didn’t grow and prosper the lives of the Saints there because of the Hepworths.  “All we did is help make ideas happen,” says Sister Hepworth.  She was quick to point out how Church members in this tiny branch already were leading the community – everywhere from the five year old who decided to take them to school as “Show and Tell” to the 17 year old President of the Student Body at the Wilkins County High School – who also leads the school’s chapel and prayer session each morning.

The difficulty that the Hepworths will have in early March will be to pull themselves away from these people that they have grown so much to love over the past 18 months; it will be compounded by the attempts by the Branch to keep their arms around them so they can’t leave.