Monday, September 29, 2008

Singing Lullaby Hymns

A short post from Sister Jenn (Bishop) Eardley:

"It seems like forever ago that I received my call to serve in the Australia Perth Mission, which I soon came to know as the APM.
The flight from the MTC to Perth was long and tiring.. but also exciting and spiritual as the missionaries and I were able to share a Book of Mormon with a fellow traveler.

"One of my favorite memories was that first night spent at the mission home with President and Sister Hamilton and their small children. It caught me off gaurd to hear Sister Hamilton and the children address "daddy" as "President." Years later I understand the respect they had for his calling.

"That first night in a strange place felt so at home with the Hamiltons. I clearly recall bedtime when President sat at the top of the stairs and sang Hymns to his children while they lay resting. A great example of love and devotion to his family and his calling. I look forward to hear him sing at the mission reunion. It has been too long."


The reunion is just a few days away! I know I am looking forward to seeing you all! -Brandon

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Friday, September 19, 2008

My MTC Comp - Don't Stop Looking

With the reunion approaching rapidly (two weeks from tonight!), I've been trying to follow my own advice. I've spent a few early mornings scouring the internet hoping to find information that would lead me to find some of my "lost" companions. I've spent time looking at the "lost" list looking for familiar names and trying to remember any crucial info that would help me craft a *better* Google search.

Let me share a few success stories, and encourage you to do the same this weekend...

My MTC comp was Elder Darron Nilsson. We kept in touch for the first few years after we got home. I remember getting his wedding invitation, and I think we exchanged a few emails, and then, we lost touch.

Here's a picture from our first day in Australia (Darron is on the left, I'm on the right)...

I finally found Darron on Facebook. Last week, we finally got back in touch. I called him, and we talked for almost an hour on the phone. We talked about our wives, our jobs, and our families. One thing that broke my heart was when I found out that his parents had divorced since the mission. Why did it break my heart? Because I realized I should have kept in touch with him and I should have been there to support him during this time. Why? Let me give you a bit of background...

When I was in the MTC, my parents filed for divorce. It was a pretty big shock to me, as I had been away at college for over a year and hadn't spent a whole lot of time at home. Elder Nilsson was my rock. He was my support. I remember a lot of crying, praying, pleading with the Lord, pondering, and I remember Elder Nilsson's infectious smile and his reassurances that everything was going to be okay. I remember some very spiritual experiences in the Provo Temple, with Elder Nilsson by my side. When I realized I had missed part of the opportunity to do the same for him... I felt regret.

But, it was still great to catch up... I don't feel like the opportunity is completely lost. And, in fact, another prayer was answered this day. You see, there was one other former companion that was at the top of my "must find" list. You see, I knew this particular elder had some struggles when he left his mission, and we had completely lost touch. Last year, after hearing Pres. Hamilton talk about our responsibilities to reach out... this was the one Elder whose name continued to press upon my mind. As Darron and I talked about finding others, I casually mentioned this comp's name and how I really wanted to find him, but I had "struck out" at every turn.

There was a pause on the phone... and then, "Brandon, his parents were in my ward for several years. They just moved out, but I have their contact info. I've seen him (this elder) when he has visited, and I can get his contact info!" Sure enough, a few days later, he got the email address! Imagine my surprise and joy!

Here are a few other experiences I've had:

* Finding another MTC district companion (Sam Mounga) after finding his brother's email address at North Dakota State (of all places!) online.
* Finding Jack Schweiger's picture online at a blog after finding out that he played football at Auburn under Tommy Tuberville after the mission!!!

I just received another email from a former missionary who took a different way home from work and happened to see another former missionary working out in front of a house. He stopped, reconnected, and we've added his info to the list!

Needless to say, if we each try, I know that we can find a few more people. The time is running out for this reunion, but there will be more reunions in the future. Let's take the time and find them!

A cool website I've found is Under the Advanced Search option, you can enter in a name, a home town, an approximate birth year, and you may get phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Take the time today and find one more person! If you do get contact info, feel free to send it to me at bwsavage at gmail dot com so I can update our master list.

In addition, please send me any more mission photos or personal family photos. I have over 100+ photos so far. I'll continue to take submissions until Wednesday of next week (the 24th).



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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The First Day

I got off the plane and everything was *different*. The steering wheel was on the wrong side. The trees were different. The grass was spongy. Instead of the snow storm I had just left 24 hours earlier in Salt Lake, it was HOT! Like, 100+ degrees, HOT. My body was tired because it still thought it was the middle of the night. We drove for a while and eventually arrived at the mission office where we met our... trainers!

We probably all remember fragments of that first day... Well, here are pictures from it!!! Sis. Hamilton just sent me a whole bunch of photos... in fact, *all* of the photos from The First Day during their tenure.

Take a look, and remember!

Click on the photos for increased detail...

Click below for more photos!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

My shortest Companionship

This is the story of the shortest companionship I had during my service in Perth, and the many miracles Elder May and I experienced during our three weeks in the Yokine area, Dianella Ward. Prior to serving in the Dianella ward I had spent six months in the country branch of
View Larger Map">Bridgetown, so the faster pace of a big Ward like Dianella was intimidating...


Our ward mission leader was the recently returned Mission President Geoffrey J. Liddicoat, who did some of the finest member missionary work I had seen on my Mission. I felt outclassed, with Elder May out 16 months, Elder Heath (our DL) was always fired up, and had high expectations.
Elder May was in a slump when we got together, but he was willing to work, and had great soft people skills that I still don’t have. This was good for me because I was a little too intense at times back in those days. Our first week together was rough, because everything Elder May had going before I came started falling apart, we weren’t having much luck finding new contacts either. That first Sunday at sacrament I got a first hand look at the size of Dianella Ward mid 1995. I think we had four companionships, plus the office couple, and the Office Elders. I can’t remember the Bishops name but I remember he was a fiery Aussie bloke, and strait shooter. I remember initially thinking he was a hard case, but found him to be a kind man. That Sunday I remember being embarrassed because most of the other companionships had investigators there. Elder May and I went to sacrament meeting with no serious investigators, and nothing going on in our area.
After meetings we walked through the gym down the hall beside the Baptismal font. I stopped in front of the font, and told Elder May “next week we will baptize in this font”. It hit me after I said it, and Elder May, and I had a good laugh knowing we had no one in our teaching pool. The week before President Jones had completed his mission, and President Hamilton had taken over. When reading my Presidents letter from that week; I explained to Pres H the work was slow, and slightly discouraging in my area right now. I must have had faith quoting Genesis 22:14 I felt the lord would provide a way, like he had for Abraham.

That Monday heavy rain greeted Elder May and I, with no prospect’s for that mornings work We tracted, and street contacted with no luck. Elder May was so tired by lunch time he walked into the bed room, and slept in his soaked pants, winter jacket, and helmet. I know Elder May was struggling at the time because I mentioned it in my Pres letters a couple of times, I never did know why, but I knew success would make him happy. I wasn’t excited to get back out in the rain after our lunch break, but today I felt different; an urgency I had felt before, kicked me in the pants. I woke up Elder May, and headed to a good street contacting area we liked to frequent. I could tell Elder May was miserable but didn’t care today because I felt the spirit move me, and needed to obey. We got to our favorite street contact area, and started talking to people. We weren’t discriminating, just using the shot gun method talking to anyone who would listen. After a ½ hour we spotted this athletic guy walking down the street, at first I hesitated, but opened my mouth anyways. I have no idea what was said but remember what he told Elder May and I, “I have been looking all over for you guys because I just wanted to talk to you”. His name was David Mullen’s, we started teaching to find as we walked, until we ended up in front of his house, where he invited us inside to finish his first discussion. We spent an additional two hours teaching David that day sharing the first, and second discussions. The spirit was strong as we testified and taught David, we asked him to pray with us right then if he should be baptized. I don’t remember the words but I remember the spirit washing over us as we listened to his humble prayer for a confirmation from the spirit. David committed to baptism that Sunday. We taught David each day that week, with the young men’s president, elders quorum president, even the bishop. I was blown out by David‘s humility, and by the response from the ward putting their arms around him.
I did stand in the baptismal font that Sunday baptizing David Mullen’s; Elder May confirmed him a member of the church, and Bishop gave him the Aaronic priesthood, and ordained him to the office of a Priest. I learned from the experience our Lord provides when we trust him, and bless’s the lives of those who participate. In no way could this have happened without all of its players, and parts. It took my tenacity, Elder May’s love, and patience, the Dianella wards stability, and warmth to bring the one soul to his Savior. After that experience both Elder May and I worked like each chance was our last chance to share the gospel. A week later Elder May was transferred.
I apologize for not remembering all the names involved in this story, especially the good people of Dianella Ward who took time to love and fellowship this young man. Id like some help remembering names, especially the name of the couple who rented the infamous Vine flat,
View Larger Map">29 Hindmarsh St, Yokine.

Travis Hosman
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Facebook Group

For those of you that are on Facebook, there is a general APM group that you can join and find other APM Facebookers.  The group can be found in the APM Facebook Group here

If any of you are interested in "guest posting" and sharing a favorite story/experience from the mish, please email me at bwsavage at gmail dot com
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finding the Lost

We've "found" the contact info for over 25 elders and sisters over the last two weeks. Thanks for everybody who has helped contribute. I'm sure we can find another 50-100 if we all dig through our address books and reach out. Take a look at the list on the right, and please email any "found" info to bwsavage at gmail dot com.


-Brandon Read More......

Australia Reunion Details


I received the details for the Australia reunion. I was a bit off on the dates, so I wanted to share them here:

Date: Fri, 12th September, 2008
Location: 77 Watkins Road, Baulkham Hills, Greenwich Stake Centre
Time: 6pm – 9pm

"This is the first reunion we have had, so we would love for each of you to attend. Please reach out to all the missionaries that served at this time and invite them to be with us.

"Please inform old companions... from the mission by forwarding this email or calling them.
For those coming from out of town, you are able to stay in the temple accommodation for $35 a night. To book accommodation, please call----------------. In return for the accommodation the Temple Presidency has invited us to attend a temple session. For those who would like to attend a temple session we thought we could do a session together on the Saturday morning at 8 AM.

"A Nursery will be organized at the chapel for out of towners for Friday evening. There will be finger food Friday evening. For those of us who live locally would you please bring a plate.

"For further information about the reunion please contact Deb (Saikaly) Stewart tdstewart at bigpond dot com or Emma (Crosbie) Forbes nrforbes at bigpond dot com

"For us to book the temple session we need to tell the temple the numbers that will be attending. To confirm attendance at the temple session please email cyndee at cyndan dot com dot au

"We would like to put together a DVD. Could you please send in 2-3 mission photos and a recent family photo to Michael Sarafian ( as soon as possible. Please mark the email APM reunion."

(My addition: If you are sending pictures to Michael, feel free to send them to me too, so we can share your pics at the U.S. Reunion. Email them to bwsavage at gmail dot com. I'll be sure to share our pics as well!)
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

U.S. Reunion Details

APM Reunion with The Hamiltons - Oct. 3, 2008

President and Sister Hamilton are coming to Salt Lake City, UT to unite the bond shared with return missionaries from 1995-1998. This is the first real reunion this era has had with the Hamiltons. Please plan now to attend to rekindle the friendships and bond we share as Australia Perth Missionaries.

Originally, we planned... to do two events – a lunch for families to bring kids and an evening dinner for adults only. We’ve decided to make it just one evening event and for it to be more of a social outing with light finger foods, favorite Australian treats and desserts.

When: Friday, October 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Church house located at 1208 W. 12400 S. Riverton, UT 84065
Directions: From I-15, take the Draper 12300 S. Exit and head west. Go to 1300 W. (Temple Drive) and turn right. The second right will be 12400 S. Go down a couple blocks and you will see the church on your left.

Please help to inform old companions and friends from the mission by passing on this email and calling them to encourage them to attend. We want no one lost or unaware of this reunion.

PICTURE DVD: In addition, we are building a DVD showing pictures from the mission and current pictures. The Australian missionaries are hosting a reunion as well and will be making one for it in September. We want to swap DVDs and show both at the reunion. TO DO THIS WE NEED ALL OF YOU TO SUBMIT 1-2 MISSION PHOTOS AND ONE CURRENT FAMILY PHOTO. Please send photos to Brandon Savage at bwsavage at gmail dot com no later than August 17, 2008.

Out-of-State Travelers: Those traveling from out-of-state or southern Utah – we will have babysitters available at the church in the nursery (this is not for locals; you can get your own babysitter). In addition, if you need assistance with accommodations please contact Nate McDonald at 801-808-0810 or nate2263 at yahoo dot com.

For any additional questions please call Nate McDonald at 801-808-0810 or nate2263 at yahoo dot com.
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Finally... a reunion?

From Elder Brandon W. Savage:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I always wondered why we hadn't had a mission reunion... After I returned home in February of 1998, I went back to school at BYU. I got married in '99, and we ended up sticking around in Utah after we both graduated from college. For the last 10 years, around general conference time (April & October), I would always look in the Deseret News in the Mission Reunion section and see if we were going to have a reunion. Every year... nothing.

After a few years...I started seeing reunions for Pres. Robinson, and even attended one and saw a few familiar faces, but I never saw one with the name "Hamilton", and I started to wonder why.

I'll be honest, I have done a terrible job of keeping in touch with people from my mission. That includes converts, companions, etc. Living in Utah, I would occasionally bump into some APMers here and there, and the conversation would always steer to "When are we going to have a reunion?" Nobody seemed to know.

In early 07, we moved from Provo to Northern California for a job opportunity. Flash forward to Monday, October 1st, 2007... I received an email from Sis. Hamilton (as many of you might have). It basically said, "We're coming this weekend, let's have a reunion! It'll be this Sunday!" My first thought was... "It figures, I finally move away from Utah, and *now* they have a reunion!!" My second thought was, "I *really* want to be there."

I talked to my wife, and I bought some last-minute tickets and flew in to Salt Lake City Sunday morning. As I walked to the Conference Center to attend the afternoon session, I heard somebody shout out, "Elder Savage!" I turned to look and saw Pres. and Sis. Hamilton. We hugged and talked briefly. It was so great to see them! We parted ways, until later that evening, when I arrived at Elder Parker's parents house for the reunion.

I don't remember everything that happened that night, but it was one of the stronger spiritual experiences I had had in the last few years. There were 25-35 people there (including spouses), most who had lived locally and had heard about the reunion at the last minute. Some were calling former companions from the reunion encouraging them to come. A few, like myself and Elder Crotts, had traveled from a bit farther away.

After mingling for a while, Pres. Hamilton had us all sit down in one room and basically told us the following:

He had just spent the previous night at his first missionary reunion (after 25 years, I believe?). Like many things, Pres. Hamilton had modeled himself after Pres. Opie. Pres. Opie had felt that missionary reunions were entirely up to the missionaries to organize and he didn't see a lot of value in them... until the previous night. Pres. Hamilton had followed that example, and that was one of the reasons we hadn't had a reunion. He then tearfully explained to us that he had been wrong to do so... he realized from some personal experiences the previous night that we have an obligation to reach out to our brothers and sisters from the APM. He said that we would have another reunion whenever and wherever we wanted, and we should do whatever was necessary to get everyone there we possibly could. He shared the story of an APMer (that most of us know) who has strayed from the strait and narrow. He knew that we needed to reach out to our fellow missionaries *and* the converts we met and taught.

Anyways, I wanted to try to explain why we haven't had a reunion before, and hopefully help each of you stir a desire to attend the reunion this year. I hope this blog can become a place where we can come together and help identify and locate all of the missing missionaries from the APM (see right sidebar). In addition, we can hopefully share stories, pictures, thoughts, memories, from our missions in anticipation of this October. I would like to keep track of who is still "missing" and who is planning on attending.

My first challenge to each of you who read this: Take a second, and write down a list of all the companions you served with. Now, go to and create an account if you haven't already. List all of your companions. Enter your contact information. This will be the best place to maintain your info for the benefit of others. (Especially since Nathan McDonald and I won't have to track it... :) )

We'll see you in October!
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