Elder Devin Kirk

Elder Devin Kirk
I am blessed to be the messenger that is permitted to bring this joyful message to those who are in great need. I have authorization from our Savior, Jesus Christ, to represent Him in this part of the world. I am given the ability to work miracles in the lives of the people. I am guided by His Spirit in all that I do and say. I am given power to testify boldly to all who will listen that Jesus is the Christ and that He has restored His Gospel in these days and that all can be forgiven and receive the blessings of living this Gospel. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have to be called to this position and be blessed with this assignment.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Arizona Week 59 - The Race

Hey Everyone,

This week went by fast. In fact this whole transfer has gone by fast; transfers are next week! It has been so fun serving here, and I really hope I get to stick around longer.

We had interviews with President Sweeney this week. He talked with us about finding a new branch president in the community and suggesting them to the stake president. He also wants us to try finding a member in Carrizo (another little town we serve) that would be willing to let us hold a sacrament meeting there. The people is Carrizo don't like Cibecue. They are afraid to go there so it is hard to get them to church.

We went to the temple with our Elders quorum president. It went well. He invited us to run in a 5K race fundraiser in Whiteriver (the closest big reservation town which is an hour away). So, we went down there on Saturday to race. The race started at 7, so we got there at 6:30. It was getting close to start time, and my comp and I realized that we needed to find a facility to get rid of some excess weight. We went to the nearest building, and they let us use their restroom. As we were walking out the door we heard, "GO!" We had missed the start of the race, so we had to catch up to everyone because we were pretty far behind from the start. Well, we worked our way up and ended the race absolutely exhausted. They gave awards for different age/gender groups. We got 1st and 2nd in our age group. It was just like old times, running races and getting medals. It was a lot of fun!

Seminary starts today, and we are super excited to teach it. We will have more girls than boys as we start off because it is hard to find the young men; most of the boys are running in gangs by the time they are twelve or sooner. I'm not much of a fun teacher (in fact I think my teaching can be kind of boring), but I feel the Lord is blessing us to be exciting like seminary teachers need to be. We have some neat plans for our first week, and we think the kids will enjoy it. 

Yesterday, as we were out walking to appointments, we got caught in a huge storm. Elder Gaebler and I were absolutely soaked, but we enjoyed it. It had been getting so hot recently that it was nice to get cooled off. We were having a great time walking around to make visits and then we were almost struck by lightning! It was a huge bolt that lasted for nearly a whole second and was less than a quarter mile from us. The EMT's in the fire station nearby called to us and drove us home. We were soaked when we got there; our clothes dryer does not work and hasn’t for a while. So, we have set up a clothesline in the kitchen. 

Things are going great here. We're excited to be getting two more missionaries this coming week; it will be crowded in our little trailer, with the six of us, but it is going to be fun. We have been finding a lot more people that have been lost and forgotten but the Lord has not forgotten them. He has helped us to go to find them.

I love this place and the people here. They are very special to our Father in Heaven. That is why the Adversary is working so hard to keep them trapped. But we are here to help them be free, and we are already seeing that happen. We had 85 come to Sacrament meeting yesterday. Our branch is growing every week. 

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. 

Elder Kirk

Monday, July 21, 2014

Arizona Week 58 - The Sign


It's been an exhausting week. We've been running around a lot trying to do everything we need to. There are a lot of things that started up this week: our evening gospel principles class and our open gym sports night. They were pretty successful, and we hope they continue to grow as the weeks go on. The big thing we need to prep for during this week is Seminary. School starts a week from today and Elder Gaebler and I will be teaching the seminary class. We're very excited! It's going to be a lot of fun.

We had lunch with Amy (the white woman we teach) this week and it was a lot of fun. She's very open to religious discussion and truth resonates with her as we speak. At the end of our meal we shared a scripture and sang a song. She came to church yesterday, and we think she enjoyed it. Hopefully she'll come again. 

I taught Sunday School. Participation from everyone gets a little better each week but it stills leaves some to be desired. Not many of them read well, which we need to be sensitive towards. But it went well.

The Pioneer Day celebration was Saturday night. We got back late and the other elders had the truck so we decided to walk to go see some of the people we had on our schedule. When we saw how dark it was outside we were already a little uneasy, but we continued. A car drove past and a passenger yelled from the window, "You Mormon Boys are some brave ____ ____! I hope you have a knife!" Well, we hear that all the time so we kept going. Then in a moment we both stopped; we could not decide whether to continue or to go back. In the hopes of gaining knowledge (but really in a joking manner) I said, "Lord, give us a sign!" At that moment, the street light right above us turned on. It’s the only one on the whole street. This confused us because we really felt that we should go back but the light seemed to tell us that we should go ahead. In a similar manner to the first statement I said, "Lord, give us an interpretation of your sign!" Immediately, the light went out. We ran home! Right before we got back, a woman pulled over and said, "Elders, you shouldn't be walking around right now. It's really bad out here. There was just a huge fight at the end of this road. You need to go home." We realize at that point that if we had continued to our scheduled appointment, we could have walked into some real danger. The Lord truly watches over us and guides us. 

I hope all of you are enjoying summer. I'll try getting pictures this week so you can see what it's like here.

Love you all!

Elder Kirk

Monday, July 14, 2014

Arizona Week 57 - Wake

Hey Everyone,

This week has been packed full of stuff, and I really hope I remember to talk about all of it.

Elder Vete was with me the whole week (Elder Gaebler is back now and is all better). Elder Vete is somewhat of a legend in the mission and it was such a privilege to learn from him. He served in Whiteriver (comparable to Cibecue just bigger) for almost 10 months. He knows a lot about working with Apaches and taught me a lot.

There are a lot of traditions in the Apache culture particularly concerning when someone dies. One of these is called "Awake". Well, to be specific it is called "awake" if you are talking about it happening in the future and "wake" if it has already happened. We went to a wake this week and wanted to help out. I'm pretty upset right now because I took a bunch of pictures on our phone but the library computers can't read them (old computer, new phone).

Anyway, we got there the day before it would start, so they were preparing. We were directed over to where they were butchering the cow, on the ground outside. Yeah, I helped. We took all the guts out and put them in a very large not very clean bucket. The intestines went to the women to clean and cook, and we went to clean the stomachs (yes, plural). I had the honor of cleaning the large stomach. To clean the large stomach entails cutting it open, dumping out about 20-30 pounds of cow poop and then hanging it on a fence and squirting it with the hose. I got poop on my pants. Oh, did I mention that we were in normal missionary clothing? But that wouldn't stop me.

Then we chopped some wood (or "made woods" as the Apache say it). While chopping the wood, a random drunk guy roamed into the back yard where we were working and was trying to pick a fight with us. We were unfazed by him; he could barely stand and looked quite ridiculous. However, he was annoying enough that the patriarch of the family called the police to come take him away. 

Before we left, they offered us some of the cooked intestine and fry-bread. Well of course we ate it. And yes, it tasted like poop. Well poor Elder Bateman got a piece that really did have poop left in it (They say it adds flavor) and paid for it the remainder of the night. 

The following day, they brought the body in the casket. The casket remains open there for 1 day, in this case. In some instances, it could stay there for 3 full days if it isn't as hot out. There is something going on, day and night, from then until they bury the body. People get up to speak and to sing, share memories of the deceased or comfort the family. We learned how to make tortillas the Apache way. We didn't do very well, but we tried. Later in the evening, we learned that anyone could go up and speak (we had thought there was a program because all that went up were being announced). So we got our names on the list and went up to share our testimonies about life and death and life after death. We then sang Love at Home. We tried to be as brief as we could so that we would be different than all the others (they talked forever). We had so much fun and met a lot of people and made friends.

School will start in a couple weeks here, and we will be starting a seminary class for the youth. We've been trying to do as much as we can to help the youth here. They live rough lives and get into bad things early. If all we do, and we plan to do more, but if all we do is change the lives and perspective of the youth, then the next generation of Cibecue will be better than the last.

We went to the Gooday family yesterday, and they taught how us to make Apache cornbread. We had to grind the corn, and we did it on....an actual grinding rock. It was awesome! And it tasted so good! We also found a tarantula at their house. I let it crawl up my leg. When I get the pictures off the phone I'll send them. (Sorry mom =P)

At Church yesterday, we had 70 people attend. That is the most that have ever been in that building. Although, we still didn't need to set up any extra chairs, it will be happening soon. We love the people here, and they love us. It is the best place I have served on my mission so far. Miracles are happening every day. In fact, yesterday we were looking for the high school principal to ask him about a few things, and we found a white woman that will be teaching at the school this year. She just arrived a week ago and it was so fun to talk to her. She stopped once; almost mid-sentence and said that she felt she was talking too much. She said that this was the first conversation, over 2 sentences, that she had had in almost 3 weeks. Sometimes the Apache people don't talk much so it can be hard to hold a conversation until you become "family" with them. That's what we're going for. This woman has read most of the Book of Mormon and asked us a couple questions and invited us back. 

The Lord loves these people. I love these people. I find so much joy in this work. I often think about when I'll meet men like Alma and Ammon and Amulek, and we can talk about our labors among the Lamanites. It's kindof like a private club haha

I love you all, and I hope that things are going well in your lives and the lives of your families.

Elder Kirk

Monday, July 7, 2014

Arizona Week 56 - Monsoon in the Lagoon

Hey everyone,

It's been another good week in CBQ. We've met some awesome people that are so ready to come back to church. One family that has been inactive for 5 or 6 years came to church this past Sunday. He was the Branch President at one time but fell off the wagon a bit. Many people were very excited to see them.

So, you remember my companion's cut elbow from last week? Well, after much effort on our part, we failed to keep an infection from grabbing him. It was pretty bad. The surrounding area was swollen and red, so we took him to the hospital. This was after the longest 4th of July parade that has ever taken place in the history of mankind. Back to the elbow - They did some blood work and x-rays and IV's. Well, the infection hadn’t made it to the bone but it was beginning to get into the white blood cells. We got some antibiotics; however, by the next day, there was no improvement, so we got another antibiotic. Then, President decided that he shouldn't be in CBQ with such an infection. Well, we drove down to Mesa and traded him for Elder Vete (just for the week). We went the short way through the Salt River Canyon, which is a beautiful drive of about 2 1/2 hours. Elder Lomu drove us down and I drove us back. Allow me to say that driving back, the same way, took much longer: 4 hours to be exact because the monsoons are starting, and they are big! We had the wipers on full blast but that didn't do much. The water had caused some landslides in the canyon, which made the drive even more difficult. Fortunately, we had traded our car for a truck just the day before. The thunder was deafening and the lightning was all around us making an almost continuous light that could put the sun to shame. We got home about 12:30 that night.

President is kind of expecting that we will, at some point, have to battle with drunken hoodlums. So he has asked us to get some solid boots so that we can kick these people if we need to. 

The other night, we went into the church to watch some of those scripture cartoons before bed. When we walked to the front of the building, we noticed that there were about 10 Crips hanging out by the gate, drinking. We watched quietly in nervous anticipation, but they never crossed the fence line. The ground we live on surely is dedicated soil that will not be defiled. After an hour or so, they trickled out and left.

We are very happy to have a police station in CBQ for the first time in all history! Previously, an officer from Whiteriver would patrol periodically. Now, we have about 3 officers stationed here. The only problem is that they always seem to end up right in front of our house. Three times we've come home to a handful of police and medics out front. In fact, in one single day someone was tortured (we heard him scream and so we got the police), a woman was badly beaten and then a large rock was thrown on her face, and someone was stabbed to death.

There is a lot of work to be done here and a lot of people that need to feel loved. We added another focus to our service which is to strengthen the community. There are good people here that just get trapped in Satan's lies. We are here to free them.

I love you all and I hope that you had a good 4th of July.

Elder Kirk