Friday, August 3, 2012

First Pictures From California

(We received this wonderful, detailed letter from the wife of Allison's mission president, complete with pictures, just last night. I tried to post the pictures within the context of the letter.)

Dear Brother and Sister Mills and family,                                                        August 2, 2012

We wanted to write to you and express our gratitude to you for sharing your daughter, Sister Mills with us for the next eighteen months.  We have enjoyed meeting her.  She  is a fine young woman and we have enjoyed our interactions with her and look forward to many more.

We met the arriving missionaries at the Ontario airport. Sister Mills along with 4 Elders and one other sister, arrived at the airport about 12:30 Tuesday, July 31st.  While we were waiting for their luggage, we had a quick visit with each of them.  They were excited and just a little uneasy, (maybe more than a little) wondering what was happening next.  The assistants to the president (AP's) had been driving around the area in a pick-up truck and a van, waiting for us to call them to come and get the new missionaries and their luggage.  We called, they arrived and all luggage was loaded into the vehicles.

We left the airport with the new missionaries and a load of chairs in the AP’s truck and went to the Glen Helen Park at the mouth of the Cajon Pass.  I took a sack lunch for the missionaries to eat there. President and I talked to the missionaries and told them how the area had been settled.  The first settlement efforts were conducted by Spanish missionaries, and Spanish landowners starting about 1810.  During the U.S. Mexican war the Mormon Battalion (the only religiously based battalion in U.S. history) was organized in Iowa in 1847 and after a march through what would become the Southwestern part of the U.S. it arrived in San Diego and was eventually stationed in what would become San Bernardino and the surrounding areas.  Jefferson Hunt, a Captain in the Mormon Battalion was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as were all the members of the battalion.  Since many people call Church members Mormons, the Battalion was known as the Mormon Battalion.  Among its’ many assignment a portion of the Mormon Battalion was sent to guard the Cajon pass and protect it from possible marauding indians. After the members of the Mormon Battalion were mustered out of their service, they returned to Salt Lake City to join their families.  President Young saw that Southern California could be a valuable supply route for the Utah pioneers.  So to establish a mail route and a supply stop/route for immigrants coming through California, President Young used church funds to buy property in the desired area from Antonio Maria Lugo, a Mexican rancher who had obtained a 35,000 acre grant after Mexico won independence from Spain.  Twenty families were asked by President Young to colonize the area.  Fifteen former Battalion men and their families were among the Saint who settled in the area in 1851, including Captain Jefferson Hunt. The story of the settling the area here in San Bernardino was told in a story written by Sister Mills for the February, 2003 Ensign, if you are interested in reading more about it.


After the experience at the park we took the new elders and sisters to the mission home for a short orientation meeting.  We will do a more detailed meeting in a couple of weeks when they will have questions and be able to understand what we will need to tell them.  The office staff will be there as well to explain how things work in their areas of responsibility.    President and I spent some time with them answering questions and explaining our expectations of them as missionaries.  We also let them play ball, ping pong and just relax a while.  We took them to the mission office so they could see where their mail came to and to see their pictures and areas on the transfer board.  That evening we had dinner with them at the mission home.  We watched some safety videos the Church has made for the missionaries on car and bicycle safety.  President also talked to them a little about his expectations of them as missionaries.  He did a little role playing with them in different scenarios.  We laughed and enjoyed one anothers' company until we were allexhausted. We then had the elders sleep on mats downstairs and the two sister's upstairs at the mission home.  Everyone was exhausted and fell right off to sleep after writing in their journals.  The next morning we cooked waffles and put things away while President had initial interviews with them.  About 11 a.m. their trainers arrived and President talked to all of them about the new 12 week training program.  For lunch we cooked hamburgers and hotdogs outside and everyone ate on the patio, played ping pong and just got acquainted.   Following lunch we had a testimony meeting with them.  It is always inspiring to hear the new missionaries and their trainers bear testimony of the work they are and will be involved in and their testimonies of the Savior and His atonement.  About 4 o’clock we sent them all to their areas to begin, in earnest, their missionary efforts.  They were all happy to get out in the field to start finding and preaching the gospel.

We are looking forward to working with your missionary in this most wonderful of experiences - preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in this area.  There is a lot of diversity here.  She will learn a lot about other cultures. We know she will be a fine missionary.  She is a wonderful young woman. 

Attached are a couple of pictures we took on Tuesday, July 31 upon their arrival, and Wednesday, August 1 when they met their trainers  We knew you would be interested in seeing the pictures of your daughter and her companion.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either one of us. 
Also, if you do not know, we have a mission blog where I put pictures of the missionaries from time to time. I don’t have a lot of time to spend doing it, but try to update it every week or so.  I am sure your missionary will have pictures on there as we associate with them and have pictures sent to us.  The address for the mission blog is:

Warmest regards,
Sister Godwin
President Godwin

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