To answer dad’s question first. In the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission, there are currently 58 companionships in 47 units covering 4 stakes. Our number of companionships has always seemed to hover around 60. The stakes we cover are, from North to South, Reading, Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Wilmington (Delaware and a good chunk of Maryland).
When I first came into the field we had most of our missionaries in the city areas, which means 4-8 companionships in some wards! Recently we were able to have missionaries in every unit in our mission which took a lot of the missionaries out of the city and into the more suburban wards. That has been a nice switch for many reasons. We are now able to work more with the members and the members and missionaries get to know and trust one another on a new level. The retention has also increased dramatically probably from an focused placed on fellowshipping the new converts and the type of people being baptized.
We are excited this week to have the baptism of Eric Wheelin. He and his family have been working really hard getting him ready for Sunday. They are such a great family and will be very happy to see Eric baptized. Bryce Kruman was asked to baptize him, which is also really exciting since Bryce is getting ready to go on his mission to China in just a few weeks!
Our ward has a new Bishopric which was sustained. Bishop Ross was formerly the Young Mens President. He and his family are wonderful. They all have their own copies of and study them. His counselors are Brother Topham (formerly 2nd counselor) and Brother Asay (formerly the Elders Quorum President). They are going to be a great team and I know they will have a wonderful view and focus on missionary work in the ward.
The transfer seems to be flying by– it’s already half way through week 4. I was reminded how long I have left and I cannot believe it! Only three transfers left? 18 weeks is way too short a time to do what I need to do. I guess I better put the pedal to the metal! I was able to see Elder Moorhead yesterday when he came by to do apartment inspections. He called ahead and we met him at our house. He says he is really liking being a Service missionary for now. I think Elder Moorhead would love anything he is asked to do though. He has a great attitude and is a real hard worker. Sister Lee (one of my favorites) found us Pocket sized Preach My Gospel and had them ordered for us when he was here. So I got that to him yesterday as well.
Everything else is going great! This ward is great and I hope I can stay here for another couple months. Our teaching pool is growing and we are watching some amazing people progress and accept the gospel!
I love you.
I hope you have a great week.
Elder Michael Oakford