Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Love Letter for Selwin

Dear Family of Elder Lovell,

We are so glad to have Elder Lovell in the Mississippi Jackson Mission! He arrived with ten impressive new missionaries. We are pleased with their goodness and their excitement to get to the work at hand.

He is being trained by an excellent and experienced missionary Elder Muhile in Shreveport, Louisiana. They will learn a lot from each other as they continue to progress in missionary work.

We know Elder Lovell will be blessed for his service to the Lord and you, his family, will also enjoy the blessings of his service. We have found it is very important for our missionaries to hear from their families each week. Please email him regularly. We love him already! 

Sweet is the Work!

Sister McDonough
Mississippi Jackson Mission

Monday, April 28, 2014

Selwin Meets the Po-po's

It's been a pretty okay week. Had some battles and stuff, but it was good.  It wasn't easy but it was good. Hope you all keep the spirit and let the Lord guide the way. Trust me, he's there. Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 - read it ... you will love it. It's been challenging, but I'm ready for it.  My companion's an awesome guy and we have a lot in common.  And, don't worry. I'm eating 3 times a day.  Yes, that's right.  Can't miss a meal out here!

The cops were called on us last evening. I had just slung my imaginary rope to my companion Elder Muhile to pull me up a really steep drive way when the cops came in two squad cars. One on them called me over.  He steps out of the car and says, "Who are you?" In my best missionary voice, I replied, "We are missionaries from The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" He responded, "Oh, I thought you were Jehovah Witnesses."  Anyway he went on to apologize and said, "Somebody called in saying there were two black dudes roaming the neighborhood, so we came to check up on you."  At this point I just wanted to laugh. He apologized again and then they left. The minute they were around the corner I just started laughing. I said, "Really ... these people think we are going to do something to them dressed in shirts and ties, black pants and a bag filled with scriptures."  My companion didn't like it at all, though.

Simeon Will Follow His Dream

This week they told us our vision in the Georgia Atlanta Mission is to baptize.  They told us we should be thinking about baptizing, talking about it as companions and with one another and should be dreaming about it, as well. My week went way better than last week. I felt the missionary spirit.  It was amazing and YES! … we found investigators. 

Now I think about "The Vision To Baptize", as well as talk and dream about it, but I needed something to always remember. They told us when we dream about it we should follow that dream so I took my planner and did this so I will always remember "The Vision To Baptize". Follow the pattern from picture #1 and you will get it.  And who said I never use my brain!

My companion Elder Crowther, wanted to feel normal again so we went biking on P-day. So he put on some "normal people" clothes, slipped on his name tag and said, "Elder, let's go." Now he never wants to be normal again and hey, I always liked being a missionary anyway.  Let's just say, I prefer to be a missionary instead and now, so does he.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Selwin: One of the Best Days of My Life

Ok, so when I first got my mission call, I admit, I was a little disappointed because I wasn't leaving at the same time as Simeon.  But now I'm sure glad I left when I did. If I had (left at the same time) I wouldn’t have met some wonderful people.

Let me tell you about Easter Sunday.  I got up and went to class as usual then we had a devotional that morning but didn't know who was coming. Well, do you have a clue who came? It was President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I was through the roof when I heard it was him.  My district had the opportunity to be host.  My branch president told me that doesn't happen often.  I told him they must know I'm here.  We all filed into the auditorium to hear this wonderful man speak. (It was noted there had not been someone from the First Presidency at the MTC in six years). President Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk on the Atonement and on the faith Peter had.  He also told a story about a missionary in England who feared no man. If you weren't feeling the spirit while he talked I would say you needed prayers a lot, because it filled the room right up.

So as his talk ended he noted he would be coming around to shake some hands and I was like, “oh, yeah this is going to be so awesome” but he didn't so I was pretty much satisfied just being in the same room.  Being that close to him was an honor but faith/fate had other plans for me.

As I was heading out for my Sunday walk with my district, one of the security guards told us "OK, he's coming this way. Don't take pictures or approach him.  If he wants to he will come and shake your hands" I was excited again but not like before because I knew the likelihood of him coming over was like 99-to-1.  As he was passing by we waved at him and he stopped to talk to us and asked us "where are you going?"  Then he asked where we were from.  Out of nowhere I shouted out “South America” and then he came over and said where?  I said Guyana, South America and then told him about how he had met President Benn last year and all this time he was shaking my hands. Then he started talking about how the First Presidency and the Twelve talk about Guyana and are working on making things better there.  Just hearing how much they cared made me want to shed some tears (I didn't though).  Then he opened his arms and gave me a hug.  The spirit was really speaking to him because I needed one. It was truly amazing.  Words can't describe how I felt.  It truly was amazing and topped off one of the best days of my life!

PS:  As it turns out, a reporter from the Deseret News was standing nearby with a camera.  On April 23, a full page story appeared (https://www.lds.org/church/news/president-uchtdorf-delivers-easter-message-to-missionaries?lang=eng).  The final paragraph read:  After the meeting, President Uchtdorf shook hands with dozens of missionaries. Elder Selwin Lovell, a missionary from the South American nation of Guyana assigned to the Mississippi Jackson Mission, was among many elders who received a warm embrace from President Uchtdorf.  

And, even more amazing, this is the second time one or both of the Lovell twins have been in a church publication since they joined at age 13 (see https://www.lds.org/youth/article/great-day-in-guyana?lang=eng)!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ordinary Miracles in Georgia

Easter goodie bag made by sister missionaries.
It reads, "Happy Easter.  Testify He lives!!!"
So last week we had really tough luck! We found no new investigators to share this wonderful gospel with but we did teach several lessons to other investigators.  In one of these lessons we watched the restoration of the gospel video with a part-member family and her sister.  After we finished watching the video I was amazed at how prepared with questions her sister was. But the best part was how prepared I was to answer her questions.  It was just amazing and truly shows that though we may be young, when we are representing our Savior Jesus Christ, through the holy spirit we know what to say, when to say it, where to say it and how to say it. I saw the tears in her eyes as we brought relief to her and she even said I feel so relieved now.  She was looking for the right church to join just as Joseph Smith was.  It truly testifies how the Lord works in marvelous ways.  I'm grateful we had the opportunity to point her in the right direction through the Savior's help!

Oh, and can you believe, they make us shave everyday? My face is literally smoother than a "baby's bottom" How could they do this to me?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Selwin in the MTC

My first day in the MTC was pretty amazing.  I tried to take in as much as possible.  My MTC companion is Elder Hansen who is also going to Jackson, Mississippi.  My other two roomies are Elder Hall and Elder Reynolds - both who are going to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  You can totally feel the spirit here except when the "dudes" down the hall are singing "Hey, Y'all, I'm a Rock Star!"

Day Two was a tough day with a few surprises, but I made it.  I was given a calling as the District Leader.  It's nothing much ... just getting and delivering mail and ensuring my district attends all their activities.  I learned a lot about my purpose today and will learn even more tomorrow ... and so it goes.  Read 3 Nephi 19:25 (actually you should read the whole chapter) which teaches us we must "do all we can" so our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can bless us and His countenance will smile upon us.

Even I have questions which need to be answered, but I know where I can turn for help.  Seek full conversion!

Simeon's First Week in the Field

This pillow case was made for each of the missionaries by those in
the Primary, Young Women's program and Relief Society.
Simeon writes, well, I'm here but, boy, it isn't easy.  The people here all believe in God but they like the church they are going to more.  We explain to them we believe in God as well, and that His true church and His gospel have been restored to the earth, but they don't want to hear it.  Some shut their doors, others say they aren't interested and a minister even prayed for our eyes to be opened (of course, they already are!!) because he thinks we have been brain-washed. That shook my companion up a bit. We went to a recent convert's home to cool off but she had about 25 cats so I almost lost it, too.  I had to stay cool through 45 minutes of talking and being around cats.  Anyway, we found 3 new investigators and one who said he would pray about being baptized.  We also got drenched by the rain, dirty and cold ... and all of this happened in my first week!  But as they say in the MTC, "if you can make it to Sunday, you'll make it all the way!!!"

By the way, I need help learning to play the piano again.  They want me to play for them at district meeting and I can't even remember how! But I'm okay. I had a little okay and tough week mixed in together, so there is no complaining from me.  The weather is awesome and Sel is finally in the MTC. Oh Yeah!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Selwin's Week Before the MTC

Today Elder Selwin Lovell went into the Missionary Training Center in Provo.  It has been a very busy week leading up to Wednesday, April 9. 

On Sunday, March 30, we threw him a little "going away" party inviting ward members to come for punch and cookies following his well-prepared and powerful talk in Sacrament meeting which Brother Sappington called "a grand slam" (a baseball term describing a home run with bases loaded). 

On Thursday, April 3, Selwin and I attended the St. George Temple together where he performed the baptisms and initiatories for four of his male relatives … then he served as proxy for the endowment of his grandfather Dennis Lovell.  It was a wonderful day! 

On Friday morning, President James Bown from the Bloomington Stake Presidency came to our home early in the morning to set Selwin apart as a full-time missionary.  Bishop Bair and his family also came.  It was a beautiful experience.  This young man is well loved by the members of our ward, all who are anxious to support him in the mission field.  

Following this spiritual gathering, we loaded up the car and headed to Provo for the West Indies Mission Reunion (see pictures at sappingtonsinstgeorge.blogspot.com).  Selwin probably didn’t know most of the 80-90 attendees, but those he did know greeted him warmly, including our mission president Claude Gamiette, who is now serving as a Caribbean area seventy (coincidentally, we met him at Deseret Book in Salt Lake the next day).

On Saturday, April 5, we traveled by Trax Train from Provo to downtown Salt Lake City to attend the morning session of General Conference in the 21,000 seat Conference Center.  Saturday evening, Selwin attended the Priesthood session with “Brother Ed” Sappington.  On Sunday, April 6 we returned for the 5th - and final - session.  When asked how he enjoyed General Conference, his response was, “it was awesome!”

On Monday, Selwin (almost) finished his shopping and enjoyed sightseeing in Salt Lake City.  Tuesday morning was spent at the Salt Lake Temple where he was proxy for another family member.  The Salt Lake Temple, which is absolutely GLORIOUS in its pioneer splendor, is one of only 1-2 of the church’s 142 operating temples still doing a “live” session.  It was well done, but most of us are used to the movie version.  In the evening, we collected Lilly and went to the movies.  Lilly and Grandma Linda saw “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” while Selwin and Ed saw “Captain America.”

Tuesday at 1 p.m., our second Guyanese missionary was met at the curb in front of the MTC by a host who gave us a minute to say our goodbyes, take pictures and wipe away the tears, then whisked Selwin away.

He is such a great young man who will be an outstanding missionary and make an amazing difference for the church in Mississippi.  I will miss him!

Selwin's Area of Service

Elder Selwin Lovell left his Bloomington home with Ed and Linda Sappington, on Wednesday, April 9 for the MTC in Provo to begin two years in the Mississippi Jackson Mission. A 21-year resident of Georgetown, Guyana, South America, he and his identical twin brother Simeon, joined the church at age 14. In the United States only since mid-September and in St. George since Halloween “the twins” always knew the next great adventure in their lives was a mission. 

Opening his call to the American south was an exciting moment – not only because “it is finally here” but because his brother Simeon also received his call letter to the Georgia Atlanta Mission on the same day!

The fact there are only 21,760 members in 44 wards and branches – and 16 family history centers - in all of Mississippi does not trouble this elder who just recognizes there are more who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ – and he considers himself up to the challenge.

Early church records indicate missionaries first arrived in Mississippi in 1839 and baptized 13 people amidst much persecution. In April 1842, nearly 90 Mississippi Latter-day Saints in 40 wagons escaped opposition by fleeing to Nauvoo, Illinois. Persecution from enemies in Mississippi continued for the next four decades, culminating in 1880 when an attempt was made to persuade the governor to force Church members from the state. In 1846, a company of Church members left Monroe County expecting to join the main body of Saints in the Rocky Mountains. Instead, they became the first group of Latter-day Saints to cross the plains, wintering with fur trappers in Colorado that year.