Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sri Lanka Branch Builders

Last week was Thanksgiving. Sister Berrett sent a letter to our siblings and children. I am posting it here as it may have wider interest.

27 Nov 2014
Dear Family,

We will be thinking of each of you this Thanksgiving and will feel grateful for each of you.  Hope you have a wonderful day.

We let ourselves get so crazy busy and so today my goal is to send an update to let you know that we are still alive.

It has been a busy time.  We spent last week in Sri Lanka welcoming young branch builders again after 6 years.  We view them as "branch builders" as their assignment is to work with people already members of our Church, but perhaps not attending, with relatives of our members and with good friends of our members. Four Elders (native Sri Lankan) were brought back to work in their home country after each had served a year or more in the Philippines.   

Our flight arrived in Sri Lanka around 10:30 pm on 18 Nov 2014, and then we waited at the airport until 1:30 am when we were joined by the District Pres and his wife.  A short time later the Elders arrived.  Dad looks pretty good for that early in the morning. 
Branch builders return to Sri Lanka for first time in 6 years
Sri Lanka has 3 branches, 2 of which are good sized.  The Elders were so excited to be back to work in their native country.  Dad/Dave says that to whitewash an area (opening an area that has not had missionaries, so no current contacts or familiarity with the area or members) is a challenge. These elders have to whitewash a country!  They are very hard working and dedicated and we feel they will do a great job. 
l-r Elders Wijendran, Rajan, Nugara, and Perera
 The weekend was district conference and our area president, Elder Gong, and his wife came to Sri Lanka to attend.  After the Saturday meetings were over, we went with a small group to a park in Colombo, where in Sept of 1978, Elder Faust dedicated the country of Sri Lanka for missionary work.  It was a very meaningful and sacred feeling as the former District President explained the details of the event.  He was a young man of 25 years at that time, and serving as the district clerk.  
l-r: Pres. Anton (district president), Sister Ann (his wife), Sister Gong, Elder Gong, Bro. Sunil (former district president), Sister Lilani (his wife), Sister Berrett, Pres. Berrett
 Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and it is always nice to spend time there.  We also have a senior couple serving there.  Sister Woodruff was telling us about the district girls camp she organized.  Even though she has lived the last 25-30 years on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, she could not face the tropical wilds of Sri Lanka, so they held camp in the church.  They sang songs, cooked in the kitchen and held classes on first aid, etc,.  Apparently, it was a big success and not one girl got a snake bite.

We will imagine you all having turkey, potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie and look forward to spending it with our family in a couple of years.

We love you all and hope the coming of this Christmas season brings happiness to each of you.

A Mission President's Birthday

My birthday was back in September. At that time, I sent a letter to all of our missionaries. I intended to turn it into a blog post, but failed to do so. But, since repentance is an eternal principle, I will repent and undertake posting the letter written two months ago. I hope it will be of interest.

22 Sep 2014
Elders and Sisters:

Over the past weekend, I passed my birthday. Many of you sent me a text or made a phone call expressing birthday greetings. Today the Assistants presented me with a book containing birthday greetings, cards, and notes from many of you. I have been overwhelmed with love for each and every one of you as I read the letters, text messages and other notes. 

During the past several months I have been reviewing Missionary Recommendation forms for new missionaries. As I do so, the Spirit whispers to me that the "noble and great ones" are being called to the India Bangalore Mission. I know by the confirmation of the Spirit that you are among the very best missionaries anywhere in the world. Each one of you has been called to serve in this mission right now because God knew that you were needed here. You are here because of direct revelation, not merely because of administrative process or because of convenience. Some of you may feel that you should not or cannot be here. Maybe you are overwhelmed because of what is being asked of you. Do not despair. Heavenly Father knows you and He sent you here at this time because this is where you are needed. Sister Berrett and I are blessed now, and will be blessed for eternity, to be able to work with you. We are humbled because of the greatness of your spirits and because of the contributions you will make to God's work now and in the future. 

Under USA customs, birthdays are a time to gather families together, eat too much food, and play with grandchildren. This year on my birthday, I left Sister Berrett in the mission home, flew to Chennai, spent several hours studying, pondering, and then writing study materials for the trainers of new missionaries. Then I went out for the evening to work with a missionary companionship. I enjoyed riding on a bus, walking, meeting with members, walking some more, riding on a train, walking some more, meeting with investigators, walking some more, and then eating cake with the Chennai Zone and several Young Single Adults. I think this may have been the best birthday I have experienced in many years. I loved it.

Thank you to all of you for your dedicated service. We love you.

President Berrett