The Center Of Everything Is Christ

Christmas time is an important time of year in the spiritual development of each of us and our families.  What better time of the year is there to get lost in the service of each other and ultimately service to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I look forward to feeling the love of family, friends, and ward members.  I hope I can put others first this time of year and focus on the gift of the happiness and joy of others.  There are so many great examples of service in our ward.  This month we will welcome two missionaries back home.  Elder Austin Ison and Elder Brady Wheeler have successfully served as missionaries for the past two years.  Elder Ison will report to the ward on December 17, Elder Wheeler will report on December 31.  What an exciting time for these two young missionaries and their families.  I’m looking forward to celebrating the completion of this significant act of service with each of them.

This month the theme in Sacrament meeting is Christ.  As we all know the center of everything is Jesus Christ.  My mission president used to say that everything we do, we should do in the name of Jesus Christ.  When we go to work, school, household chores, church, family time, everything can be done in the name of Jesus Christ.  I hope that I can do a little better this month as we celebrate Christmas.

The ward will have a Christmas party on December 20.  We hope that everyone will come and enjoy a brief program from our primary kids, a visit from Santa Claus, good food, and most important the fellowship of ward members.  Enjoy this time of year with your families and friends.

Merry Christmas!

Bishop Applegarth

Missionary Christmas

As a sister missionary, 15 years ago, I was lucky enough to spend two Christmases on my mission. Surrounded by the splendor of Oregon at Christmas – famous for its Christmas tree and Holly Berry Farms; I reveled in the joy of the holiday season. But, as a missionary I wanted more. Even though my life was focused on studying and teaching about my Savior, Jesus Christ, I wanted to strengthen my personal relationship with Him. I felt impressed to read, Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage in its entirety during the month of December. This was an amazing experience! Elder Talmage wrote this book in the Salt Lake Temple, and the truth and spirit infused in it is profound. I enjoyed the experience so much and was so uplifted that I read it all again my second December in the field.

I am so happy that the book Jesus the Christ can be found for free in the Gospel Library App. I have read it a few times since my mission. I especially love to read it in December. I love my Savior! He has healed me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He shows His love for me constantly with tender mercies. How blessed I am to be a member of His church! And how grateful I am for this beautiful season of love and giving where we can feel His presence more strongly as we celebrate His birth!

Becky Zundel

The pure love of Christ

“In today’s world of so much suffering because of different circumstances, sending a text message with a funny emoji or posting a nice picture with the words “I love you” is good and valuable. But what many of us need to do is leave our mobile devices behind and, with our hands and feet, help others in great need. Love without service is like faith without works; it’s dead indeed. The pure love of Christ, which is charity, inspires us not only to act and provide service but also to have the strength to forgive, regardless of the situation.”

Jose L. Alonso, “Love One Another as He Has Loved Us”

Talk about Christ by Russell M. Nelson

Elder Applegarth – December 2017

Mission Office Address PO Box 263 Freetown Sierra Leone

Spencer continues to enjoy his service as a missionary to the good people of Sierra Leone.  He recently was transferred from Koidu back to Freetown, where he will train a new missionary.  Below is a short excerpt from his last e-mail:

We had an amazing baptism! The other companionship baptized 6 and we baptized 1 so it was a lot of fun! We went to where we were last time and this time we had to ride in the back of a truck and were packed in tight haha. It reminded me a ton of home and going up the mountains! The baptism went really well and everyone loved it! President Moi baptized everyone, so that was cool. On Sunday I got to confirm Isheka a member and give him the gift of The Holy Ghost. That was a really special experience for me! The spirit was just so strong I can’t even explain. It was just awesome. Then we got transfer news. I am getting transferred to Kontoloh in Freetown, and I will be training!! I’m a little bummed that I am leaving Koidu, but I’m pumped that I’m training that will be a ton of fun – but a lot of hard work for sure!  It was super hard to say goodbye to the people in Koidu. Some were even crying. It was so hard but we have done a lot of work in Koidu and it was so much fun to see the branch progress from nothing to what it is now. From going to super apostate to not really any apostasy at all! It has been a good run that’s for sure!  So we will see what the next area brings! Everything else is going good just love being on the lords errand!!

Bishop Applegarth

Applegarth2

Elder Jessee – December 2017

Mission Office 29 Wiryeseong-daero 22-gil (Ogeum-dong) Songpa-gu Seoul-teukbyeolsi 05655 South Korea

Elder Jessee is currently a District Leader and Trainer in a brand new area that he is loving! Following is from one of Elder Jessee’s letters:

This week was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to meet with our investigators but we proselyted a lot, had a few meeting, and met a lot of people on the street.

A few days ago Elder Diaz and I met with some Jehovah’s Witnesses. I saw a man named Kim Chan Ho on an old record and decided to give him a call to see if we could meet. After we talked on the phone, and scheduled the appointment, I read more into his record and saw that he was a JW. He told us to meet him at Giheug subway station. When we got off at the station he called me and told me he is in a coffee shop. Elder Diaz and I walked there and see 3 very old men. They stood up and begin to greet us bowing and shaking our hands. One of them had a big blue button pinned to his suit coat that said “JW.org”. I thought we were only meeting with one man, but I mean the more the merrier … right? Hahah!

The leader asked one of his assistants to get us some coffee. We told him we don’t drink coffee, which I am sure he knew. They asked why and I told them it was revelation received by God to not drink strong drinks, which coffee is. He then told them to get some bread instead, which was coffee bread.. haha! I know there is some coffee bread you can eat, but I didn’t feel right about it. I could feel the Spirit tell us not to – so we didn’t. They got us some egg bread instead, which was delicious. He began to talk to us and tell us that he wanted a 편견 없이 discussion, which means without prejudice. We talked for a little, just some small talk, during which I asked them if I could translate for my companion. He Then started the conversation by asking me what we thought happens after we die. I told him that we are resurrected and live with God and Jesus Christ again if we lived a righteous life. Then he asked where will we go, heaven or earth? I told him “with God, where that will be exactly I don’t know but we will live with Him”. He then opened up scriptures to share with me their doctrine. He told me of how we will live on earth for the rest of eternity. Told me how when we die we are really dead and cannot think, see, hear, move, and that is the end – until God comes back to the earth. They did this for about 20 minutes. This whole time Elder Diaz has no idea what is going on, so I translated for him here and there. I thanked them for the bread and began to bear testimony to them that God loves them, that he loves all people, and that is why I came to Korea to tell others this great message. I testified to them that I knew we lived with God and Christ before this life and will again after if we follow his teachings and live a righteous life. I told him I know we can live with our families forever and testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I explained to them that as missionaries we don’t fight with others, but we teach our message and invited them that if they wanted to learn these simple truths, we teach 5 lessons. I told them I would answer all their questions and then we left them with a Plan of Salvation Pamphlet. We said thank you and parted ways.

God really helped me that day through the Spirit to avoid any conflict. This was a huge testimony builder for me. The words “You will not be confounded before men” came into my head. I am grateful for the Spirit, the Priesthood, and the power of God on my side. Truly without Him I am nothing.

Elder Jessee

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Elder Ison – December 2017

Montana Billings Mission Office Address 1848 Rimrock Rd Billings MT 59102

Elder Ison is finishing up his mission in Missoula.  He was released as a Zone Leader and transferred there on November 15th. He will spend the last month of his mission training a new missionary Elder Johnson.   He absolutely loved Great Falls and said it was hard to leave but he was excited to be back in Missoula serving in the YSA ward, especially while to training again.  Time and goodbyes are becoming bittersweet. He is excited to come home and see his family again, but he is heartbroken leaving his mission and the people of Montana.  He was also in a car accident Thanksgiving evening. Everyone is ok and he knows that all involved were being watched over, however as a result of the accident he has lost driving privileges for that remainder of his mission.

He has loved serving the Lord and serving the people of Montana and knows he will be leaving a piece of his heart there.  As he reflects on his mission he says that it has been the best 2 years of his life and he is so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve.  His testimony and love for the gospel has increased and he can’t imagine his life without it.  He is so grateful to those in the ward that have supported him throughout his mission and he is focused and just wanting to give it all he has these last few weeks.

Elder Ison will return home December 16th and will give his report home talk the following day the 17th.

Kristie Ison

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Sister Ison – December 2017

Vancouver Washington Mission Office Address 2223 NW 99th St. Vancouver WA 98665

Sister Ison is doing amazingly!  She is just finishing up her first transfer this week and will be staying in Vancouver with Sister Phillips for at least another transfer which she is so excited about.  She loves Sister Phillips and is so grateful that she is her trainer.  She had her first baptism 2 weeks ago and they have several people that they are teaching including Sister Phillips’ father who left the church years ago when she was a little girl, and they are just so excited to get to teach him and her step mom via social media.  They are so grateful for the new ways they are getting to use social media to “hasten the work”

Sister Ison encourages us all to be member missionaries.

Kristie Ison

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Lesson Schedule – December 2017

December 3rd – Gospel Doctrine Lesson 44: Being Good Citizens, Relief Society & Priesthood: By Quorum/Group Presidency

December 10th  – Gospel Doctrine Lesson 45: “The Family Is Ordained of God”,  Relief Society & Priesthood Chapter 23: The Blessings of the Holy Temple

December 17th – Gospel Doctrine Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”,  Relief Society & Priesthood Chapter 24: The Atonement of Jesus Christ: Vast in Its Reach, Intimate in Its Effect

December 24th –  No second or third hour due to Christmas

December 31st – Gospel Doctrine Church History Chronology and Maps,  Relief Society & Priesthood: Combined under direction of the Bishopric

Christmas Clasics

Book Highlight

I am sure that you are bored of hearing suggestions and experiences from Becky and I. So this month’s Highlight comes from our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson. In his address “Because He Came” at the 2011 Christmas Devotional he said “For almost as long as I can remember, I have had a particular tradition at Christmastime. My family knows that just before Christmas I will read again my Christmas treasury of books and ponder the wondrous words of the authors. First will be the Gospel of Luke—even the Christmas story. This will be followed by a reading of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens and, lastly, rereading The Mansion, by Henry Van Dyke.”

This is what GoodReads says about A Christmas Carol

“In October 1843, Charles Dickens ― heavily in debt and obligated to his publisher ― began work on a book to help supplement his family’s meagre income. That volume, A Christmas Carol, has long since become one of the most beloved stories in the English language. As much a part of the holiday season as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen wreaths, this perennial favorite continues to delight new readers and rekindle thoughts of charity and goodwill.

With its characters exhibiting many qualities ― as well as failures ― often ascribed to Dickens himself, the imaginative and entertaining tale relates Ebenezer Scrooge’s eerie encounters with a series of spectral visitors. Journeying with them through Christmases past, present, and future, he is ultimately transformed from an arrogant, obstinate, and insensitive miser to a generous, warm-hearted, and caring human being. Written by one of England’s greatest and most popular novelists, A Christmas Carol has come to epitomize the true meaning of Christmas.”

And The Mansion

“There was an air of calm and reserved opulence about the Weightman mansion that spoke not of money squandered, but of wealth prudently applied. Standing on a comer of the Avenue no longer fashionable for residence, it looked upon the swelling tide of business with an expression of complacency and half-disdain.

Van Dyke’s Christmas story about a mansion that speaks “not of money squandered but of wealth prudently applied” – the companion story to The Other Wise Man.”

Both are beloved holiday classics and are now in the public domain. You can get free copies of both from Project Gutenberg here for A Christmas Carol and The Mansion.

Calvin Zundel