Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Elder Ettinger's safe arrival in San Bernardino

Dear family of Elder Ettinger,,

We wanted to write to you and express our gratitude to you for sharing your missionary with us for the next two years.  We have enjoyed meeting him.  He is a fine young man and we have enjoyed our interactions with him and look forward to many more. There are two pictures attached, one was taken at the airport and the other with us at the conference tree. 
We met the arriving missionaries at the Ontario airport. Your missionary, along with 8 elders and 6 sisters, arrived at the airport about 9:30 , June 7.  They looked amazing as they were coming down the escalator - they all looked so happy and nervous, the sisters looking so neat and tidy and all the elders in 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.  The Assistants had been waiting in the area in 2 pick-up trucks  and the mission van, waiting for our phone call.  We called, they arrived and all luggage was loaded into the vehicles.  We transported them to the Etiwanda LDS chapel where all the other missionaries that were being transferred as well as the new missionaries' trainers, were waiting.  Two additional new elder's were there waiting, for a total of  11 elders and 6 sisters.  The entire chapel was full as we brought in the new missionaries.  It was an exciting meeting for all involved.

We left the chapel with the new missionaries and a load of chairs in the AP’s truck and went to the the Glen Helen Park at the mouth of the Cajon Pass.  Sister Mills, a local historian, (she is an amazing sister who loves to meet the missionaries) met us there and told us 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 missionaries to the mission home to have lunch and an orientation meeting.  After the meeting about medical, financial and transportation issues they had initial interview with President Godwin. We cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and a little relaxing time where the missionaries could socialize with one another.  Later in the afternoon, their transportation arrived and they went to their various apartments to begin their service here.

Also for your information, we wanted to tell you about what we have been doing prior to your missionary’s arrival here in the field.

We  (President and I) have been involved in training the zone and district leaders in the new Simplified curriculum for the past  months.  They, the zone leaders and district leaders are involved in teaching the same program to all other missionaries in their areas.  We, along with members of the mission presidency and other senior missionaries will be attending those various meetings for the next few months.  This program will be taught to all new missionaries when they report to the MTC beginning in August of this year.  By that time, all of the missionaries here in the mission will know the program.  Preach My Gospel is the text the missionaries will continue to use, but there is an additional approach that has been prayerfully directed by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.  We were told in the MTC this past July in the Mission President's Seminar that they have spent many, many hours on bended knee and in the temple receiving inspiration on how to make it easier for the missionaries to teach and the investigators to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The use of additional principles contained within Preach My Gospel are being used to invite the Spirit in the initial interactions with a new investigator.  This process allows ample opportunity for the missionaries to ask inspired questions and then address the needs of those they teach.  The principle of the Doctrine of Christ is taught first where possible, but following the Spirit is still essential for the direction of the work.  The knowledge of the material in Preach My Gospel is vital to teaching by the Spirit, but not in rote fashion. 

We hope this information will be helpful to you. Some of it may  be retold to you by your missionary, but hopefully you have learned something you didn't know before.

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.   The missionaries learn a lot about other cultures while they are serving here in San Bernardino.

We have a mission blog where I post pictures of the missionaries.  I will be posting pictures of the departing and incoming missionaries each transfer.  We also post other mission news and things of interest.   We try to get pictures of all of them, but keep checking because we add to it routinely.  The address or the blog is   If you ever have any questions, please call or send an e-mail anytime. 

Warmest regards,
Sister Godwin
President Godwin
Kyle and the other new missionaries with their mission president,
Pres. Godwin, in the front.

Kyle with President and Sister Godwin

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