Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lots of firsts, interviews, and speaking!

What a wonderful week we had, interviewing the missionaries from the Lake Elsinore, Corona, and Mt. Rubidoux zones. We appreciated all of the conversations and their willingness to share their thoughts and testimonies with me and the time they spent visiting with Sister Hammon, waiting their turn to be interviewed. She loves visiting with these missionaries and becoming better acquainted. We have been providing cookies and milk! Great tradition, we hope!

We had baptisms this week in Temescal Canyon with Sisters Wilde and Butler (now two weeks in a row):
Members of the family, Sister Wilde, and Sister Butler at the end
Canyon Hills with Sisters Greenhalgh and Keith. Mt. View with Sisters DiPietro and Price

Sister Diamond, Sister DiPietro, Sierra, and Sister Price
Tres Lagos with Elder Sánchez and Hansen. Congratulations and many thanks to everyone who helped prepare these children of Heavenly Father for baptism.  We know all of our missionaries and the members are working diligently to bring more of God’s children to the waters of baptism.

Sister Hammon and I had the privilege of speaking in the Del Ray and Auburndale wards on Sunday, July 23, 2017. Sister Hammon and I both spoke in Spanish in the Del Ray Ward. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Now, whether anyone understood, that’s a different story. 

Elder Patterson, one of the zone leaders, spoke with us in the Del Ray Ward. He did an outstanding job, and his Spanish is buenísimo! 

Miguel, and his family, Elder Patterson, and Elder Eldridge, 
Also, la Hermana Padilla and la Hermana Buitrago sang! They sang like angels! (Cantaron como angeles!) 

Hermanas Padilla y Buitrago

We also had the opportunity to attend their Gospel Principles class. One of the rewarding parts of the Del Ray Ward was the new convert Miguel was confirmed. It was impressive to us because we had attended Miguel’s baptism the week before. It is so wonderful to see the fruits of your labors.

Sister Hammon and I also attended two Missionary Correlation Meetings (MCM) this week, one in the Moreno Valley Stake and one in the Corona Stake. Special thanks to the Corona Zone missionaries who all came at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 23, 2017. Elder Patterson and Elder Eldridge sat on a panel discussion titled: “Missionary work and building unity between missionaries and ward members.” What a great topic! We know we can be more effective in our work when we work with members.

Incoming—The arrival of our first missionary happened Tuesday, July 25, 2017 from the MTC—Elder Gallacher. We meet him when we were in the MTC. He is learning ASL (American Sign Language). His new companion is Elder Clark. Both are wonderful young men. Amazingly, we took picture of Elder Gallacher coming down the stairs:

Elder Gallacher arriving
and then at the Mission Office. We immediately sent those to his mother and received an instant response. Technology is so incredible!

President and Sister Hammon with new arrival Elder Gallacher in front of the Mission Office
Outgoing—The departure of our first missionary also happened on Tuesday—Elder Phipps. We took him to the airport and watched him walked up the escalator. We haven’t known Elder Phipps that long, but tears came to our eyes. It was like watching a son leave. Like with Elder Gallacher, we took pictures of Elder Phipps last night with President Crippen, a member of the Missionary Presidency, who gave Elder Phipps a blessing before he left; 

Elder Phipps and President Crippen
pictures at the airport; 

Sister Hammon, Elder Phipps, and President Hammon
and pictures as he was ascending the escalator. We sent them to his mother who also responded immediately.

Elder Phipps ascending and then home to SLC and Logan
When Elder Phipps landed, she returned the favor and sent us a copy of the homecoming with his family. Joyous!

Sister Phipps and Elder Phipps. Who is the most happy here?

The whole Phipps clan. A glorious welcome home for a missionary who returned with honor!
We had a great evening with him and two of the senior couples working in the Mission Office—Elder/Sister McCracken and Elder/Sister Thorne. What a delicious meal and program on pioneers! Then, Elder Phipps shared his strong testimony with us. After everyone had gone, Elder Phipps and I had companionship study. Is there anything better?

Sister Hammon and I continue to enjoy our mission! We love our missionaries and continually marvel at their goodness and willingness to serve. 

From the Mission Home's backyard: Light = Hope!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Baptisms and Trainer-Trainee Meeting: Another Great Week in the Mission

What a delightful week we have had, sharing missionary experiences with our missionaries! Sister Hammon and I had the privilege to attend the baptism of Miguel of the Del Rey Ward.

Miguel and his family, Elder Patterson, and Elder Eldridge
Jesus of the Mt. Rubidoux Ward was also baptized on Sunday afternoon. 

Sister Rodriguez, Sister Trocoso, Jesus, Sister Reagan
Hermana Padilla and Hermana Buitrago gave an inspiring restoration presentation in the Barrio Del Rey; 

Elder Balls and Elder Day gave an equally inspiring restoration presentation during the Mt. Rubidoux Ward baptism. What great baptisms! . 

Both Elder Ly (Mt. Rubidoux) and 

Elder Jones (Del Rey) each gave incredible vocal musical numbers.

Elder Jones and President Hammon
 On Wednesday, July 19, we rose early and headed out to the Trainer-Trainee Meeting at Grand Building. What a great event that was! Eight sets of missionaries—eight trainers and eight trainees,  four set of sisters 

Hermanas Padilla and Buitrago 

Sisters Marks, Brereton, DiPietro, and Price

Sisters Bryant and Harris; Elders Casper and Walker

four sets of elders—came prepared and ready. 
Elders Jackson, Dunn, Gulbranson, and Porrazzo

Sisters Bryant and Harris; Elders Casper and Walker

Elders Escobar and Bailey

What was impressive was how participatory, engaged, and knowledgeable they were. Each of them had experiences that have helped them become better and effective missionaries. Many of the trainer missionaries said they had learned more as trainers than perhaps the trainees did. 

The whole group. 
President Hammon continued having wonderful interviews with several missionaries throughout the Mission and was impressed with them. While President interviewed the missionaries, Sister Hammon talked to them about their favorite scripture and shared milk and cookies. These missionaries are just incredible young people who have a drive to do the Lord’s work. 

We love serving in the California Riverside Mission!

Monday, July 10, 2017

We have arrived to the California Riverside Mission!

Well, we have arrived in the California Riverside Mission! President and Sister Mullen met us at the Ontario Airport. 

Ah, the arrival from Salt Lake City to Ontario Airport
We traveled to the Mission Office where we met all of the senior couples from the Mission, the Assistants, and the Office Elders. 

President and Sister Mullen, President and Sister Hammon, Senior Couples, Assistants, and Office Elders
Plus, the “exchange of power” happened: the handing over the phone from President Mullen to President Hammon. Once the exchanged happened, we all went to lunch and then to the Mission Home where the Mullens exchanged information and gave us last-minute instructions before they left. After all this, hopped in their rental pickup and were off, leaving us standing in the driveway, waving and wondering: “I guess we are it.”

President and Sister Mullen and President and Sister Hammon: The Exchange of Power
On Saturday evening after we arrived, we went with Elder Parson, one of the Assistants, and Elder Osberg, a Zone Leader, on a missionary split. We had a great time with them. We spoke a lot of Spanish, taught a lesson to a young man named Alex, gave a blessing, picked up two or three potential investigators, visited a member family who had a referral, and arrived back to the Church late.
Los Hammon with Elder Ly
What an incredible week we have had, traveling to all the zones and introducing ourselves to all of the missionaries and they introducing themselves to us during the "Meet the President" tours! They are wonderful, and our love for them grew! We thank the Assistants, Elder Parson and Elder Anderson, for being our guides and GPS. They are dedicated young men. We'll will have a picture of them soon. We appreciate all of the Zone Leaders who put together the agendas. A special thank you for the incredible musical numbers! We truly felt special being among the missionaries. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Hermana Flores, Hermana Garcias, y los Hammon
Sister Hammon and I had the privilege of speaking in the Lincoln YSA and Corona wards on Sunday, July 9, 2017. We felt the spirit. I had a “teary” challenge in the Corona Ward. Probably one of the most spiritual things happened just before I spoke. A Sister Dike sang “Oh, That I Were An Angel” while Sister Whittaker played the piano. The moment she began, I started to tear up. I have a history with that hymn. I was serving in Puerto Montt, Chile, where Sister Palmer who composed the song came to pick up her son Elder Palmer. Sister Palmer told us the story about the creation of “Oh, That I Were An Angel” and then sang it to us at Zone Conference. Touching! She gave us all a signed copy. Then, when I arrived home from Chile, my cousin’s wife sang it at my homecoming. When Sister Hammon and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting before we left to serve here in the California Riverside Mission, we asked our home teacher and another brother in our ward to sing it. Amazingly touching! I said to Sister Dike: “Sister Palmer would have been proud of you. You were inspired to sing this today.” Again, a continuing touching scene.

Sister and Brother Larsen in 2012. I wish I had a picture when she came to Chile! (Elder Larsen, do you have one?)
We had baptisms —Sunday, July 9, 2017. Anthony from the Young Single Adult Ward (YSA was baptized. Elders that worked with Anthony included (from left to right): Elder Goodrich, Elder Yeaman, Elder Langley, Anthony, Elder Anderson, and Elder Murphy. Incredible young men! Incredible examples!

Los Misioneros--The Missionaries who helped teach Anthony
The mission home is lovely. Here are some outside photos and flowers around the Mission Home:

Bougainvillea bushes along the road to the Mission Home

Gorgeous sunset from the backyard of the Mission Home

One part of the backyard
We are loving being here. The "Meet the President" tour was incredible because we met our wonderful and dedicated missionaries in the California Riverside Mission!

Stay tuned for more!

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Seminar for Mission Presidents: Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC)

2017 Seminar for Mission Presidents

The famous world missionary map: pointing to our mission
Since Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 2:35 p.m., we have been at the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. We said good bye to Christiaan, Emiline, and William, which was very difficult. After huge hugs and kisses and tears, Emiline said, “You know, I’ll be 11 when you arrive home.” We hope to see her often during the next three years.

Darrel, Joanne, and Anna Rose: The Drop Off at the MTC
Anna Rose drove us to Provo and dropped us off at the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC). People swarmed the car, took our luggage, tagged it, and then hauled it away for safe keeping while we checked in. One of the helpers there took our picture. We shed a few more tears as we said good bye to Anna Rose. We love her and thank her for her generous support these last few weeks. We could not have done it without her and her sweet family.
The Worth of Souls.....
The moment we walked into the MTC was magic. Everyone knew our names. We received our name tags and then headed to check in, which was simple and easy. We then boarded a bus for the hotel. Our rooms were not ready so we boarded the shuttle and headed back to the MTC. Then the incredibleness began!

Elder and Sister Cook, Elder and Sister Hallstrom, and President and Sister Hammon
What a marvelous four days. From inspiring talks and conversations with the Twelve Apostles to lunch, dinner, and breakfast with them and other General Authorities to meeting with the sole missionary still at the MTC heading to our mission to a missionary fireside with Elder Bednar to a tour of the new buildings at the MTC to meeting many of our new missionary president colleagues to studying and pondering the numerous teachings we received—all of it and much, much more have inspired us and taught us what we are about.
The Seminar Room 
A few of the topics of the sessions included:

The Brethren....

A Vision of the Work
The Faith to Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts
One Together in the Work
Preparing to Teach
Interacting to Edify
The Divine Companionship
Treasure up the Words of Life
The Power of the Book of Mormon
Balancing Family and Missionaries
Teaching Missionaries the Power of the Word
The Power of His Word Which is in Us
Mission Leadership
Caring for Your Missionaries
A Christ-Center Mission Culture
Personal Priorities and Holy Purposes

Elder Bednar. Photo from: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865683877/A-diverse-group-of-new-mission-presidents-gather-for-annual-seminar.html
One of the phrase that Elder Bednar used to introduce President Eyring was this: “Isn’t it important that the Lord trusts us to do this hard thing.” We know Heavenly Father trusts us to do His work in California with all of His/our missionaries.

The Seminar was phenomenal! We enjoyed it thoroughly. After we arrived home last night from our final meal and testimony meeting with Elder Ballard, Joanne and I just sat here, quiet, trying to absorb everything that has gone on this week. One thing we do know is this: We love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and we love our missionaries even though we do not know them—yet.

We know that we “can do….we must do it.”

Stay tuned. More to come!

P.S. For more information about the Seminar for Mission Presidents, click on http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865683877/A-diverse-group-of-new-mission-presidents-gather-for-annual-seminar.html.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Setting Apart

June 20, 2017 

Today was one of those special days that literally comes once in a lifetime. Joanne and I were set apart today in Elder Dale G. Renlund’s office. We picked up Anna Rose from her work and then traveled to Elder Renlund’s Office. We were greeted at the elevator by his administrative assistant Becki who took us to his office. 

Elder J. Devn Cornish was there in the outer office, and Becki ushered us in and told us where to sit. We had a great catch-up conversation with Elder Cornish about his family when Elder Renlund came in. He greeted us warmly and then asked, “How did you receive your call?” We told him the process. 

Back row: Elder Cornish and Elder Renlund. Front row: Anna Rose, Darrel, and Joanne

Then, he said, “Let me tell you from my perspective because I was there.” He then proceeded to tell us that the Twelve met in the upper room of the SLC Temple and discussed the names of men whose names had been forwarded to serve as mission presidents. He said it was a unanimous vote, and then the names were presented to the First Presidency. He bore his testimony that we had been called of God. Joanne and I listened with tears in our eyes. 

After explaining how the setting apart would go, Elder Renlund set me apart as Mission President, and Elder Cornish set apart Joanne as a full-time missionary and companion to me. Elder Cornish was one of the Caribbean Area Presidents when we served in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office.

What an incredible experience to be in the presence of an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in this dispensation, one we shall never forget!