Dec 1, 2014
Area: Trinity River
I have been called over to serve here in the Trinity River Branch with Elder Gamez. I feel blessed for this opportunity to serve. Elder Gamez and I have been getting along great! I believe that that is due to the need of service. Elder Gamez has Cerebral Palsy, making it so he is unable to do some of the tasks that we do normally, at least he can't do them alone. If you don't know what Cerebral Palsy is, it is a paralysis of the nervouse system or of the brain, something like that. Elder Gamez has difficulty with the left side of his body, he has to walk slowly and even though he can use his left hand, it is more difficult, it naturally goes more into the "claw" position, his hand closes and drops down close to his arm. I have the opportunity to tie his tie each morning, as well as help him down stairs at times, hang up his pants, etc. Sadly, on Sunday morning, we were running a little late for studies, then a meeting we had because as he tried adjusting the showerhead, he fell out of the shower. He luckily wasn't hurt or anything, but the bathroom got all wet, so I went in there to soak up the water before I got in the shower. Elder Gamez however, is far from incapable of being able to serve the Lord, but I have noticed that at times he just needs help, or he does it slower than most people. I already love Elder Gamez because of his pure desire to serve and help others, and especially because of the spirit and testimony he has.
The Trinity River Branch is struggling as well, and they are so grateful for the support of missionaries. This week, the branch had a total of 30 people there, including us, the Stake President, and Elder and Sister Christiansen, the elderly missionaries assigned to the English ward. They are still a dependent branch because they do not have enough active members to have the full leadership necessary to be a functioning branch itself. Sadly there are families that were active members that have recently moved out of the area, so they have lost some of their numbers. But I was able to help out with my musical talents by directing the music, as well as them asking me to sing in their Christmas program, and sing a song with the primary or something like that... The English ward as well as the branch are extremely willing to help though! We have Correlation meeting with the Ward Mission Leader on Tuesdays, and after that, at 7pm, they come out for a Visits Night, where we will go visit member or non-member families with them, and if we have an appointment set up at that time, they will come with us.
We have had the opportunity to eat with all of the members of the Branch Presidency and get to know and serve them. I have found that we have especially been a great support for Brother Christiansen, the first counselor, because he has been very stressed and weighed by the responsibility that has fallen onto him. Sadly the branch president, President Escobar, has been in Washington D.C. for the last month and will be until after Christmas because his work has him out there. And the second counselor, Brother Garcia, has been called into work for 3 Sundays in a row, so this Sunday was the first Sunday that he has been able to attend this since November 2nd. Brother Christiansen has been having to fill the roles of all three of them, but he has done the best he can, and more. We had the chance to eat with him on Saturday, and the spirit in his home was so strong! Elder Gamez and I could both tell from the strength of the spirit as well as what the Christiansen's were saying, they have truly become consecrated to the work. I truly love that family. Brother Christiansen seems to barely be holding back tears whenever we offer to help and when we ask what he would like us to do. We have been able to visit about half of the families that he has asked us to visit, and we have plans to visit the rest. I am honored to be able to help this branch, as well as bring new people into it. Brother Christiansen was also really surprised at how much we already knew about the branch and some of the families/investigators because I took it upon myself to truly study the records of the teaching visits and the progress of the different people.
There are many people prepared for the gospel in this area of Liberty and Dayton, and the hermanas were working with some of those non-member families. We haven't met very many of these people, but we have been able to make good use of our meetings with some of them. We were able to get the help of members for teaching a couple of those lessons, and every lesson we have had has been spiritual. Sadly, none of the investigators were able to make it to church, which is supposedly a rarity, but we still have the faith, hope, and desires to make this branch self-reliant. We hope for it to become a ward, and it has that potential with the reactivation of the men who are of age for the Melchizedek Priesthood and the baptisms of men who in due time will receive those same covenants and responsibilities. We have high hopes for this next week with members coming out with us, teaching the different less/in-actives, and helping the leadership.
I love you guys,
Elder Stanley Scott Dye
PS: I finally found a baritone player!!! The branch president's son plays baritone, so they might have us play a Christmas song together for their Christmas program.