Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thank you!

First things first thank you to everyone who reached out Elder Packham for Christmas.  I know from being in coordination with our own Elders here in Ankeny that Christmas can be a bit of a challenging time.

I am struggling with getting a lot of information from Elder Packham so I apologize for not having more to share. Here is the latest Q & A:

How is Missoula?

Missoula is doing great! I love it here! Ahh! My companions are just awesome and we have so much fun.  We went the wrong way on a one way twice this week, roads in Missoula are the worst.

How was your Christmas party last week?

Our Christmas party went great! We actually sang a special musical number up on stage in front of everyone, it was oh come all ye faithful. They even had a spot light on us. Lol it was so much fun though and I enjoyed it! I love singing.

How are your Zone leader responsibilities going?

Zone responsibilities are going great! There is never a dull moment and never down time that's for sure.  We are ALWAYS running around visiting people and also managing zone leader things.

How was Zone conference? Tell me all about it!!!!
 

Zone conference was amazing! I got some letters I think I had one from you and one from grandma and grandpa it was very sweet! They gave us all little present baggies! There was a lot of singing and special musical numbers. 2-4 testimonies were born and only the assistants and president and sister Mecham spoke. One of our assistants is going home at the end of the transfer in January! I'm so sad, he's such a great missionary and he's impacted this mission SO much. He's a great influence. He will actually be coming to stay with us at the end of January and he will be at our zone training.

It occurs to me that you haven't told me about your companions.

Elder Connor McLeod and Elder Marshall. Elder McLeodis my zone leader companion and is from North Carolina and has been out just over a year.

Jake has developed a friendship that I hope will last forever with Elder Jacob Inman. They came out together. I enjoy reading his blog. Here is a link:

http://elderjacobinman.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 20, 2013

Video of Elder Packham's Mission

video
Enjoy!

If you have trouble viewing... here is the link:

Jake's Video



5 Days until we talk to Jake!!! I can't wait!!!!!

I think that everyone in our house is excited to talk to Jake on Christmas Day!!!!  We all love and miss him and it will do all of us a world of good to be able to see him and hear him.  I am so grateful for technology!  I am praying that all goes well and that we will be able to Skype him.

I am late on my update - sorry.  It seems to be happening a lot and I apologize.  Part of the reason is Jake's very short emails and the other part of the reason is that I am always so busy. 

Biggest news of late -----  Jake has been tranferred!!!  And he has a new calling of responsibility.  Elder Packham is now serving in Missoula and as a Zone leader.  Here is a little information about zones in the mission:

Most missions are divided into several zones, a zone being a geographic area specified by the mission president (though these are often the same area as the LDS ecclesiastical unit known as a "Stake"). A zone encompasses several more organizational units called districts. Each zone and district is presided over by leaders drawn from male missionaries serving in that area. Zone and district leaders are responsible for gathering weekly statistics, assisting missionaries in their areas of responsibility, and general accountability to the mission president for the well-being and progress of the missionaries under their stewardship. A district typically encompasses four to eight missionaries, and may or may not comprise more than one proselytizing area. An area is typically a portion of the LDS ecclesiastical unit known as a Ward (or congregation), one Ward, or multiple Wards.

Needless to say, I am positive that Elder Packham is very busy!!!  I am grateful for that knowledge because I know that he is serving the Lord and I also know that he is doing an amazing job!!!!

Jake sent some hilarious videos of him eating a habanero pepper - they are SO funny!  He makes me laugh.  He also told me that he feels the affects of my prayers and that made me happy.  I shared with him that Elder Boyd K. Packer said that there are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.  I know that is true because I have seen it in my life when I pray for my children.  It motivates me to be the best that I can be and to draw close to my Father in Heaven - I want that protection for my children and I want the knowledge that my faithful prayers are making a difference in their lives.  I heard Elder Holland once speaking to a mother who had asked him what she could do to help protect her children.  He told her to pray for them - every.single.day.  He said, you wouldn't send them out in the cold without a coat to protect them - don't send them out in to the world without a prayer to protect them.  I love that!

Yesterday would have been a Zone conference in Helena.  I am excited to hear what Jake has to say about it because I know that they were planning something special for the missionaries.

Oh- I sent Jake a package for Christmas with the 12 days of Christmas.  This is a poem for each day with a little gift to go with it.  It was a lot of fun to put together and I hope he is enjoying it.  I asked him in his email last week if he received it and he said yes, he loves it and his companion is having to keep him from opening all the days now. LOL.  We are going to have a set of our Ankeny Elders over on Christmas morning. I always pray that the members in Montana are taking care of my Jake.  I hope he and his companion have an invite for Christmas morning.

I know that for Thanksgiving he members fed Jake and his companion a TON.  Silly boy!  I hope that the members of Montana feel my prayers of gratitude.

Here is a little Q&A I got  back from Jake this last Monday:

How is your new companion?

My companions are awesome! I love my zone leader companion(: He's the best! I am already learning so much from him and we laugh all the time. Except now because I'm slightly upset.  ---Jakes ipad was stolen from the library and he was less than happy.

What are your initial thoughts of MIssoula?
Where cowboy meets indian. 

How was your first Sunday in your new ward?
My first sunday was the primary program (: we set up like 10 appointments for the week during church as well

Your new responsibility are zone leader - are you adjusting?
Yeah I'm loving it. It's very tiring. Super tiring. 

Have you been to any ward christmas parties? what were they like?
We have our ward Christmas party this Saturday and I'm really excited! We went to a few family parties yesterday

Are you getting plenty to eat?
Yeah yesterday we had 3 dinners

Are you staying warm?
Yeah I'm staying warm thank you!

Most spiritual experience this week?
Teaching the gospel. We had some really great experiences teaching some less active members of the ward.

Most uplifting scripture this week?
I don't know if I have one. I read Enos this past week and loved it

He is doing really well and I am proud of him.  I think this is a wonderful experience for him to be on his mission at Christmas time. Since his life is turned to the Savior I am positive that this experience will be one he will treasure his whole life. 

I think in closing I want to share a Christmas card I got from Elder Jake.



There is no way for Jake to know how much this meant to me but it was and is priceless.  Let's just say I carried it around with me for days.  He makes me feel like I have done a good job as his mother.  I really want to leave a legacy and Jacob makes me believe that I will--and it will be one I will be proud of.

I love you Jacob Daniel!!








Sunday, December 1, 2013

I had a great week!

Monday, November 25th

This week I had written to Jake in his email about something that I was struggling with and, as always, he taught me a lesson.  He said:

Be patient through your trials, be patient physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Don't be easy to anger. Pray to the Lord. Don't let this thing that is bothering you be a heavy burden on you. Those who offend will be judged for their unrighteous dominion and their actions. Read D&C 122:7-8.  Remember Christ?!  Christ's BEST FRIEND turned him in and he would eventually be killed and hung on the Cross.  Christ STILL loved that man.  Christ descended below all of this so that we may stand strong, steadfast, and happy through these trying moments.  Be strong. Be faithful. Be loving.

I am grateful for his words of wisdom.  I spoke in church last weekend about Elder Packham's mission and the blessings that have come to our family through his service and had a much needed conversation with another missionary mom.  I said to her, "I know that some people say that we shouldn't share with our missionaries any struggles that we are having, but some times, I do."  She said, " I disagree with those people. I think that one of the blessings we receive with our children serving a mission is that they have this great wisdom to share with us.  I share with my son."  I appreciated her telling me that because sometimes I feel bad that I shared a struggle with Jake and then he emails me something great, like above, and I feel better and know it was the right thing to do.

Here is a portion of Elder Packham's email:

I had a great week! It was a very rough week but it was a good week. One of our investigators is almost on date. She won't accept a solid commitment with a date but she said 80% sure she'd be baptized. We're meeting with her twice this week and she wants to finish the lessons as soon as she can. She's so solid. All of her beliefs are like our beliefs.
 
I'm staying happy, healthy, and well. The Lord like I said has blessed me with patience. Thanksgiving is going to be crazy! We have 4 dinners and 1 dessert appointment planned. I don't know how I'm going to survive. Ugh... Not good.  I ate a habenero pepper this last week. OOH SO HOTTTTTT!!!! Holy cow i thought i was going to die!

I love that boy and miss him greatly.  I am proud of the work he is doing.  I see so much growth in him and I love that he is bold and willing to share his love of the gospel with everyone.  Jake has always been so loving - literally the best friend someone could ever ask for and I know that he is making life-long friendships that he will carry through the eternities.

 
 
 


 

November 24th- Talk in Church about, my missionary son, Elder Jacob D. Packham

November 25th, 2013

So I was asked to speak at church on Sunday, November 24th about my missionary and any blessings that I felt like our family has received from his serving the Lord. And here is my talk:

When I was asked by Brother Cox to speak about my missionary, I was actually happy about it.  Strange I know, but I miss Jake and I am proud of him and any chance to talk about him makes me happy. And then I started to prepare my thoughts and the realization that Jake will not be here for Thanksgiving hit me like a ton of bricks.  Please don’t get me wrong… I know that Jake is right where he needs to be and I know that the blessings far out way the sacrifices. I have a missionary blog that I started for Jake when he went into the MTC and I started it mostly for selfish reasons.  I thought, if I start this blog and write about Jake’s experiences, it will help me to ease the ache of missing him.  If you go to his blog across the top it says, “Called to Serve: Elder Jacob D. Packham” and then under that it says, Missionary: someone who leaves their family for a short time so that others can be with theirs for eternity.  And really – that is the truth of the matter – Jake is working hard for the Lord with the goal of helping others to experience what he has – an eternal family.  I am a convert to the church.  I joined in the summer of my sophomore year of high school and I will forever be grateful for the two young missionaries who taught me the gospel.  I am the first member of the church in my family and the blessings that have flown to my life through the gospel are immeasurable. 

Brother Cox also asked me to have Elder Packham write something to share with the ward. So he wrote a letter and I want to share that with you now:
Dear Ankeny 1st Ward,
I have thought long and hard about what to say. I pray that I will be able to convey the messages The Lord would have me give you. I am grateful for this opportunity to be able to write you. I am grateful for all that you do, the love that you show each other, and to my family I miss dearly.

My missionary service is going great! Time has flown by so fast. After the holidays I will be at my year mark. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. I have seen so many miracles and I have been blessed by the hand of The Lord. Great things are happening throughout the world when it comes to missionary work.

One thing that has affected my missionary service and my life has been prayer. I have essentially changed the way that I pray. My mission president, President Mecham was the mission president in Mongolia for some time before his wife was diagnosed with cancer. He had the wonderful privilege of observing and getting to know the people of Mongolia. He observed that when the saints in Mongolia pray they often stay in a 'prayer' position for a few seconds, they have their head bowed, arms folded, and sit quietly. As they do this they give time for our Heavenly Father to answer their prayers. Too often we say a prayer and just get up and move on to the next task. Think about it: It's like calling your stake president rattling off all the things you are thankful for and then everything that you need help with and then hanging up. None of us would do that to someone that we respect so much. It's disrespectful and on top of that how could he ever help you in return? Brothers and Sisters I'll be the first to admit at one point in my life I was severely guilty of this, and I can't imagine what it makes our Heavenly Father feel like. We can't expect a million dollar answer to a 10 cent prayer especially when we don't give time for God to respond. I have implemented purposeful prayer into my life. As I have done this and taken a moment of silence after my prayers I have seen many great things. I have better recognized the promptings of the Spirit throughout the day (AKA missionary opportunities all of you can have too!), I have seen miracles happen, and lives change (including my own). I encourage all of you to introduce purposeful prayer into your lives, implement this in your homes, in your quorums and in the ward. I promise you that you will have more opportunities to share the gospel and you will recognize those opportunities when they arise, you will also grow your love for your heavenly Father and our Savior as you do this. I promise you that there are people prepared to hear the gospel that YOU need to touch. There are people in each of your lives that could use the gospel and all it takes is a simple invitation. Brothers and Sisters, I bless you as the Lord blessed Enoch: "Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and man shall pierce thee. Open they mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good." (Moses 6:32)
Brothers and sisters I love you and I'm proud of you for the work that you're doing. Keep up the hard work and rely on The Lord. Have a great week and I hope you are all safe and well. Be happy! I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

 
As you can tell from his letter, he is SO excited about missionary work!!!  Which leads me to another topic that Brother Cox asked me to speak about, which is, blessings that have come to our family through Jake’s mission.  As I have thought about this, I keep thinking about Elder Bednar’s talk this last conference on tithing and the blessings that come from paying your tithing because he echoed something that I feel, which is that it is sometimes hard to quantify the blessings we receive.   Sometimes you know exactly which blessings you are receiving and sometimes you don’t even realize them.   This has given me an opportunity to think about those.

When Jake received his mission call, people would say to me, ‘your family will be so blessed for having a missionary.’  At the time I didn’t really understand what that meant but now I can tell you that it is true.  Some of the blessings that our family has received through Jake’s service might not be the ones you would immediately think of when you think of blessings but they have been the ones we have needed. ALOT of those blessings are of a personal nature and too sacred to share.  Our family has been very blessed and the greatest blessings have come on a personal level for each of us – starting with Jake.  If you recall in his letter he said, I have seen miracles happen and lives change (including my own).  

I never served a mission but I have gleaned enough from others experiences to know that they aren’t a piece of cake.  There can be long, discouraging days, filled with work, bike riding, people who don’t like you, having to cook and clean for yourself and other hard stuff.  But I also have realized that there is also something powerful and life changing in missionary service.  You learn to love people in a whole new way, you learn you can do hard things, you learn how to take care of yourself while serving others.  Basically, I think it is takes someone special to service a mission.  It takes courage, bravery, hard work, discipline, commitment, and a sense of humor.  It takes a stripling warrior.

I have been reading the Book of Mormon and I am currently in Alma and this week I read about the stripling warriors.  They prayed that the Lord would strengthen them and deliver them.  Elder Bednar referenced this too and I think he said it perfectly.

Assurance, peace, faith, and hope initially might not seem like the blessings warriors in battle might want, but they were precisely the blessings these valiant young men needed to press forward and prevail physically and spiritually.

As I mentioned the blessings our family has received may not be the ones you would immediately think of – but they have been the ones we have needed.  I would not trade the personal relationship I have with both the Savior and my Father in Heaven for anything.  Looking back, I thought prior to Jake’s mission that I understood missionary work and that I was content in my relationship with my Father in Heaven but I was wrong….

Missionary work can change lives… it can change each of our lives on a personal level.  I know that Elder Packham challenged each of us to institute more purposeful prayer in our lives and I hope we will each take that challenge.  I would like to challenge all of us as well… to bring missionary work more fully into our lives.  I know, without a doubt, that by doing so – we will strengthen our testimonies… we will have deeper faith and a closeness with our Savior and Father in Heaven that we will never want to lose. 

In closing, Jake always like to tell me about miracles that he experiences and I love that.  In more than one email he has sent it he has begun with, “Miracles Happen!”  Brothers and Sisters, the gospel can and does bring miracles to our lives.  In a talk by Elder Neil L Anderson, entitled It’s a Miracle, he says, “

 

I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them.22 Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles.

 

Let us all incorporate purposeful prayer into our lives and pray for opportunities to open our mouths.  The Apostle Peter said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh… a reason(for) the hope that is in you.”

We have nothing to lose… and everything to gain… I doubt that any of us would forgo the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the Lord.

I want to leave you my testimony.  First and foremost, I know that this church is true. I know this because I have prayed to know it and the spirit has confirmed it to me. I went to a lot of churches in my youth looking for the one that felt right.  I am forever grateful for Joseph Smith and that he did as the scripture in James says, and asked the Lord which church was true.  The prophet Joseph is an amazing example of strength and faith.  I am grateful for the early pioneers of the church and their faith and conviction.  I lean on their example as well because they withstood so much opposition in their day.  Life is hard and knowing that others have made it through – gives me strength to endure.  I know that my Savior lives and that He loves me.  I know that when my life feels hard and like more than I can bear – that there is ONE who knows how I feel and that He loves me…and He is always with me.  He never leaves me comfortless.  As society continues to change so much I am grateful for the certainties of the gospel in my life. I am grateful that God is unchanging.  I am thankful for temples and eternal families.  I am grateful for the Book of Mormon – best. Story.ever!  It strengthens and encourages me daily.  I am grateful for my husband…  the one I have beyond the veil and the one I have here with me now.  Alex, you bless my life and I love you- you are my best friend.  I am grateful for Donna, whom I never met, but love her and her children with all my heart.  Because the gospel is true, one day I will be able to hug her and she will hopefully say to me, you did a good job. I love this gospel and I love my family – In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.