Dear Brother and Sister Woodward,
|At the airport|
|Sister Woodward with President and Sister Goodwin|
|San Bernardino, California|
Dear Brother and Sister Woodward,
I wanted to write to you and express our gratitude to you for sharing your daughter, Sister Woodward, with us for the next 18 months. She is a fine young woman and we have enjoyed meeting and interacting with her.
We met the arriving missionaries at the Ontario airport at 9:40 a.m. on May 14. When Sister Woodward, along with 11 Elders and 8 other sisters arrived, they looked amazing in their new clothes, white crisp shirts, new suits and shined shoes. 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. We also had 5 other Elder’s and 3 other Sister’s arrive in a different terminal making a total of 28 new missionaries!
The assistants to the president (AP's) arrived in a pick-up truck and a van, and with the help of our senior couples and with our car, we were able to fit all 16 missionaries and their luggage in and we were on our way to the Woodruff building for our transfer meeting. You could just feel the excitement in the air. All of the new missionaries were assigned a very capable trainer. After the meeting, President had a trainer and missionary meeting that explained the expectations of the missionaries for the 12 Week Training program. Following the trainer meeting we enjoyed lunch and the missionaries all got acquainted. Following lunch, we went to the mouth of the Cajon pass to Glen Helen Park where we met Sister Marilyn Mills. Sister Mills is an accomplished historian and she explained to the missionaries how the area of San Bernardino had been settled.
Briefly, for your information, 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. 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. After a march through what would become the Southwestern part of the U.S. the battalion arrived in San Diego and was eventually stationed in what would become San Bernardino and the surrounding areas. Among its’ many assignment’s, 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 Saints who settled in the area in 1851, including Captain Jefferson Hunt. It was the third stake organized in the church. The story of the settling the area here in San Bernardino was told in a story written by Sister Marilyn Mills for the February, 2003 Ensign, if you are interested in reading more about it.
Following Sister Mills presentation, we had a short orientation meeting. Sister Snyder, the financial secretary for the mission explained how to use their MSF (Missionary Support Fund) cards and explained to them the proper use of the card and what to purchase with them. Elder Houser and Elder Perez, our senior missionary elders explained briefly to them about the church-owned vehicles in the mission and about the gas cards that are associated with each vehicle. Not all missionaries are assigned cars, about 1/3 of the missionaries at any given time, are on bicycles while the remaining 2/3 are in church-owned vehicles. We showed them some entertaining DVD’s made by the church with some serious expectations explained in part on the DVD by some of the 12 apostles. Sister Ball, our mission nurse, also arrived to meet the new missionaries and explained some very basic things each missionary needs to know. (We will do a more detailed meeting on April 16. After some experience in the mission, they will have more questions and be able to more fully understand what will be explained to them. The office staff will be there at that meeting as well to explain how things work in their specific areas of responsibility.
After they received their MSF and Missionary Medical cards, the housing coordinator, Elder Snyder, talked to them about some basic expectations in regard to housing and talked about the importance of CO2 detectors. President started interviewing and I spent some time with the missionaries answering questions and explaining our expectations of them as missionaries. We also let them just relax a bit. I showed them around the mission office, which is right there in the building, so they could see where their mail comes and their pictures and areas on the transfer board. That evening we had dinner with them at the church. We laughed and enjoyed one another's company but they were all very tired. The trainers returned at 7:00 and they went to their various areas to sleep. They were asked to return Wednesday morning at 7:00 to have breakfast along with their trainers. President finished interviewing each of them and also talked to them more about some of his expectations of them as missionaries and role played with them some different scenarios. Those not being interviewed, did individual and companion study. After all the interviews were completed we settled in the chapel and had a testimony meeting with the new missionaries and their trainers. It is always inspiring to hear the new missionaries and their trainers bear testimony of the work they are involved in and their testimonies of the Savior and His Atonement. Following testimony meeting we went back into the cultural hall for lunch. About 2:00 we sent them off to their areas to begin, in earnest, their missionary efforts. They were all happy and excited to get to their fields of labor to start their missionary experience of finding and preaching the restored 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 in this mission. The missionaries will learn a lot about other cultures. We know she will be a fine missionary. She is a wonderful young woman.
The Lord is indeed “hastening His work” and we are thrilled to be yoked with your missionary at this very exciting and monumental time.