March 10 - April 6, 2014

We are struggling to get more of the youth to our Sunday school class.  We have seen about half of the kids on the roll attend at least once but they all don't come every week so we usually have about 6-11

 in the class.  We can't seem to generate any interest for the others to come out.  Some are just not interested but we have learned about other reasons:
     Some kids are with the Dad (divorced) on the weekends.
     One boy plays club soccer every Sunday.
     One father told us his daughter is not a member of our church. (Though we have her on the records)
     One family has a Mom with a doctrinal question about the church--woman and the priesthood.
     One girl's Dad just won't let her attend unless he's in a good mood
     One family is mad because the bishop wouldn't give them welfare assistance
     One family has a No Trespassing sign in the yard

The ward has also asked for our assistance in locating some of the in-actives.  In several cases they have moved with no forwarding address so the ward has to keep the records until one can be found.  We found out that two members had died and the ward needed the death dates.  Gail just went to and looked in the Social Security Death Index--that was easy.  On one occasion a man just came to the door, didn't open it, saw our name tags, yelled at us "No" and shooed us away.  We left quickly not even knowing if we were at the right place or if the member was still living there.

But one day we found an inactive man who greeted us at the door with "Well, you found the old f**t!!!  All we could do was laugh but he did invite us in for a visit.  He left church activity when his wife ran off with another member.  He is now remarried to a non member.  We like them both very much and he is fun to visit.  His name is Jack and you can't believe how much he reminds me of "Uncle Jack".  He is a model rail road buff and has a model train layout.  Paul has always had an interest in model trains, so they hit if off.  He lent several dvds to Paul of classic passenger trains still operating around the world.  We had two good visits with them in their home and then this last week we invited them over to our apartment for dinner.  Paul showed Jack a picture of "his" electric train--Monorail Red from Walt Disney World!  We don't know where this is headed but maybe if we are just good friends first, we can make some headway to getting him active and get her, Wanda,  a member.

On March 15th Sparks Stake held an activity for the young men and young women called Mini Missions.  All the Elders and Sisters did splits with the youth and spent the whole day together doing missionary work.   The youth helped teach, rode bikes to appointments and really got the feel of what it's like to be a missionary. We think it was a great idea to encourage the work.  The youth admitted it was fun and not as difficult as they thought it would be. We didn't participate as our circumstances are different.

We had another missionary temple day and got about 40 endowments done.  Gail has gotten so much temple work completed since being on this mission.  Thanks also to Sheyna and Shane, Angie and Karl and Paula for helping with the names.  Gail should send names to the rest of you.   We have a couples retreat on Wednesday  and are going to the temple again.  By the way, just want you to know the latest thing Gail found on our family.  Granddaddy Boyd's mother had a Charlton line.  Your 5th great grandfather was Thomas Charlton.  His sister was Anna Charlton.  She married John Ross Key.  Their son was Francis Scott Key.  He is your first cousin 6 times removed.  Feel proud--since all of you love music and many of you are good musicians.

In March Paul did a presentaion on Emma Smith for the ward's 5th Sunday's Relief Society and Priesthood joint meeting.  He has been asked to repeat it for the Stake singles over 31 tomorrow night. Thanks Rob for sending the materials--we knew we'd need them eventually.

Well, we hope you all enjoyed Conference as much as we did.  There is something about being on a mission while watching Conference.  Using her laptop, Gail was able to access BYU-TV on our television screen.   It was almost like home, except no family members were with us!

Everyone has their favorite talks.  Two that especially come to mind:  Elder Oaks' sermon given during the Saturday evening priesthood session.  He pointed out that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve do not have the authority to extend the priesthood to the sisters.  That said, whenever anyone, male or female, carries out responsibilities in association with a calling, they do so with priesthood power.  There are other important points that we are going to isolate and carry with us in order to answer any questions that may arise on the matter.  Too bad the 200 sisters (and a few brothers) who entered Temple Square in protest have been unable to understand how the Lord's program works.

Our second favorite talk was that of President Packer.  Years ago, in a conference address, (then) Elder Packer hypothetically asked if it was all right for a Church member to ask a member of the Twelve to share his witness of the Savior.  Elder Packer then said that that would NOT be an appropriate thing to ask.  But, said he, listen to the way an apostle may refer to that sacred experience.  He may say, "My testimony of Jesus Christ is like the testimony of Thomas," (or another apostle or prophet). President Packer, in sharing his wonderful experience while he was in the military, gave what we regard as that sacred witness. What a wonderful blessing to share with us, as his mortal ministry draws to a close.

Several of the Brethren are quite old and not in the best of health.  It may be that we will see some pass away in the next few months.  We will surely miss each of them and be grateful for the legacy they leave behind!  And we may possibly have brethren of different ethnic backgrounds.  Years ago, Elder Hugh B. Brown, at one time a counselor to President McKay, prophesied in Tokyo that he would not live to see it, but that some in that meeting would live to see a Japanese apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve.  Paul personally knows two men who were present at that meeting.

We certainly wish cute Sam a wonderful baptism.  It is hard not being able to be there in Virginia for this special event.  Shelly and Kenneth will have to extend a double dose of grandparenting and cover for us. Know we will be thinking of you all day.  Take lots of pictures and send them on.  We love you.

Samuel Axtell

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