Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!!

As we look back and contemplate the old year, we have to admit that we accomplished quit a bit for a couple of old folks: Trips to California, Denmark, Nauvoo, Wisconsin, and Utah. 

Now we are here serving a mission in Maryland, and while we still can't believe it, we know we are in the right place at the right time.  Our mothers used to say, "Where there is a will there is a way."  They were correct.  If you have a righteous desire and involve God in the process, miracles can happen.  We knew that before but not until now has it settled deep in our hearts.   Jesus said to his Father, "Here am I, send me." (Abraham 3:27).  Nephi said to his father,  "I will go and do the things the Lord has commanded me ...."  (1Nephi 3:7).  And Joshua said, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15).  We are so grateful for the many faithful examples of service we read about in the scriptures that encourage us to help and serve others. The Lord assures us that, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God".  (Mosiah 2:17) 

Today we attended our weekly district meeting from 10:30 to 12:00.  We then had lunch with the other missionaries at our favorite fast food place, Ginos - burgers and onion rings.  (Oh well, we'll do better next year, right?)  We then helped a sister in the branch to a doctor's appointment and later visited a family who will be moving soon to Wyoming.  We are now planning on celebrating New Year's Eve at home with pizza and watching some of the festivities on TV.  We will not be out and about this evening.

Tomorrow is New Years Day, and we will again be helping with missionary transfers.  We have to be at the Columbia Stake Center in Ellicott City at 8:30 am where we will be assigned our jobs when we arrive.  It could be anything from inspecting vehicles and handling bicycles, to distributing gas cards. We particularly enjoy listening to the newly arrived missionaries as they share their first testimonies, and to the ones leaving - giving their last.  

"Thank you" to all of you for your love and support during this past year.  May God bless you and keep you in his watchful care. 

And like Dory always said to Nemo's dad:  "Just keep swimming!"  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013

It's been a wonderful week.  I have posted a few pictures here and have written above each one to explain what and where it is from.  It may not be in the right order by date. 


Saturday, December 21, we drove down to the temple to see the lights and to attend the Christmas concert in the visitor's center.  We took a couple and a sister from our branch with us.  I'm not sure why there are no pictures of Brother and Sister Williams, but they must have been walking around by themselves.  Anyway, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the evening very much.  There are no words to describe the beauty and the peace we felt even though there were hundred of people around.

This room had nativities from all over the world along the walls and in the middle.  Amazingly beautiful.  

Dennis Pitta, formerly of the BYU football team but now a football star with the Baltimore Ravens attended our Mission Christmas Party.  He was kind enough to have his picture taken with all 260+ of us individually.  

Ready for Christmas Eve dinner.  We had invited the whole district but only our own four Elders could come.  We had such a nice and fun evening with all the Danish traditions that I cherish.

Sorry, a little blurry.  

We have adopted all four of them.

Elder Lewis ran into an old friend at the Mission Christmas party.  As you can see they were happy to meet again.  It had been six weeks.

More fun and spirit than you can imagine.  All these Elders and Sisters are the cream of the crop.

Oh my goodness!!  Desserts galore. 

Ham, cheese potatoes, mixed vegetables, salads and rolls.

The following pictures are from our Senior Couples' Christmas Party at the mission home.  Everything was so nice.

President Richards is cutting the pork roast.  What a great man!

Good times.

Sister Richards and their daughter.

More pictures from the temple grounds.
Elder Lewis with our friend Wanda.

Smile :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 16, 2013

     It's the most wonderful time of the year!!

We wish all of you, family and friends alike, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

This past week flew by.  On Tuesday the weather was really bad so we stayed inside and worked on getting better prepared and organized.  In the evening we did venture out and drove over to visit some really good friends who are going to the temple for the first time in January.

On Friday we attended a special zone training meeting in Annapolis from 10:00 to 3:00.  It was inspiring and well worth it even though the fire alarms went off twice and fire engines showed up each time.  They found nothing wrong but it must have been from the ovens in the kitchen where we were warming the food.  We helped Sister Richards (Mission Mom) serve Chicken Alfredo, garlic toast, and salad to all the young missionaries, and we also helped clean up.  It was nice getting to know her better.  She is so amazing and sweet.

Elder Lewis teaches a teacher training class at church every Wednesday night as well as on Sunday.  I'm taking it also and it's good to be reminded how to be a better teacher.  I'm also having fun teaching my youth Sunday School class every week.  

Saturday night was the Branch Christmas dinner and program.  Everyone brought food and it was a huge spread of everything you could imagine, with many diverse dishes.  I think about 80 people attended.  The Primary children put on a really sweet Nativity program with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, the three Wise Men and lots of shepherds.   It was just adorable.  Santa Claus also came and each child received a large cloth bag with their name and "I am a child of God" written on it.  In the bag were a few little gifts, but no candy.  I was impressed.

During the week we have visited a sister in the hospital and an elderly sister in a nursing home.  We have listened to and comforted several members of our branch.  We have rejoiced with a member over a negative blood test, encouraged and helped a sister to get out of an abusive relationship, and cried over another sister who sadly decided to return to one.   We work with and teach  some with addictions as well as other problems.  We have made friends with people who have nose, eye brow, lip, and ear piercings, and tattoos on neck, arms, legs, and face.  We have walked down streets that we would not walk down in the dark, and we have sat in living rooms where I was scared to sit down, but we feel so happy and blessed to be here, and hopefully we are bringing a little hope and joy to these wonderful people.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we are going to a Christmas dinner at the mission home with all the other senior couples in the mission.  It should be really fun.  Friday we are attending the Christmas devotional and dinner for all the 250 young missionaries.  We will be helping with the dinner and serving.  Saturday we will try again to drive down to see the Christmas lights on the temple grounds and also to attend the special musical program they have there every night in December. We should also attend the Stake Christmas musical devotional in Annapolis on Sunday night, so I hope we're not too tired after a long week of activities. 

Goodbye for now.  Love to all.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 8, 2013

Well, it's here - snow!  We looked outside during church meetings yesterday, and it was snowing.  By the time we drove home we had about three inches, and it was cold.  It's very pretty and we loved sitting in our cozy apartment later in the afternoon, looking out.  Today it has already started to melt, but more is expected tomorrow.

Last night, here in our home, we really enjoyed watching the Christmas Devotional from Salt Lake City, with the four Elders in the Brooklyn Park Branch.   The music and talks were, as always, very inspirational and heartwarming. 

Before the program, I fixed more grilled cheese sandwiches than I can count, tomato soup and hot chocolate for these young men.  They were cold when they arrived and really appreciated it.  We also made some chocolate chip cookies later to enjoy.   

Thursday evening we attended the Addiction Recovery meeting with a member of our branch.  We were surprised to find out that we were welcome to participate.  It was an eyeopener for us and our hearts go out to people who really are struggling with addiction and have nowhere left to turn but to the Lord.  We learned that with God's help anything is possible but that professional help and lots of support are also needed.  God usually sends help through other people and we saw that first hand that evening.  This program the Church is using is amazing and has helped so many.

Wednesday we visited a sister from our branch for the first time who told us her story.  We were again amazed at the resilience of people who have struggled all their lives but have always felt the light of Christ in their hearts and have searched for the truth.  She is now an active member of our church and just loves being part of it.  She teaches the Gospel Principles class every other Sunday and does a wonderful job.  We had a lot of fun taking her grocery shopping, so she didn't have to carry her bags on the bus going home. 

These two sweet girls were baptized on Saturday.  Here they are with their Primary teacher who is a really good friend of ours.

Remember the changing table we picked up on the side of the road last week?  Well here it is in the corner of our dining room.  Looks pretty nice huh?  Missionaries have to be resourceful, and we are. 

Tonight we had a wonderful Family Home Evening.  We had invited fifteen but eight came.  A recently baptized member led the discussion and did a great job.  We also had an investigator here so we were very happy to include him in our "happy family".   We also each shared a special Christmas memory from our childhood, and it was interesting to learn about other's traditions.

Earlier today we took a sister to a doctor's appointment for some treatments.  She was in a lot of pain in her back, knees, feet and more.  After the treatment she was in even more pain, but the doctor would not give her any more pain medication.  There is more to it than we know, but it was really difficult for us to take her home and leave her there alone and in pain.  She was crying, I was crying, and Ken was upset also.  He gave her a blessing and she was calm when we left.  I hope angels are looking after her tonight. 

We could tell so many sad stories about the people here.  Some times I am overwhelmed, but I always receive strength and am able to carry on.  There are, of course, just as many happy stories to tell.  


I wanted to share something a dear friend of mine, Monika, wrote to me on FB for Thanksgiving.  It really touched my heart:
I am very thankful for something you taught me, something you introduced me to, you and your Church - fellowship! Your testimony has made a great impact in my life and the lives of my girls, thank you Mormor! Alex still has the green hair clip, she holds it dear in a special place in her room. You truly touched us, and we are nothing but THANKFUL!

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

The week flew by because of Thanksgiving on Thursday.  We drove down to Lorton, Va. to spend the day with Linda and Clyde and some of their children and grandchildren.  It was so nice to be with family and to share the holiday with them.  The meal was just wonderful and we were given leftovers to take home to enjoy the next day.  The best!

We had the Reynolds family, one recently baptized member, and two missionaries over for dinner and FHE Monday night.  Elder Lewis shared a story from the August Ensign about giving without judging.  When we keep coming to the Lord about the same problems, he never says,  "You have done this many times before",  or "I'm getting tired of this."  Instead, he is always there with his arms extended to us to listen and welcome us back.  After the lesson we played "The Glad Game."  We each shared something from past experiences that we may not have liked to do but were "glad" we did, because we learned and grew from the experience.  

After a wonderful district meeting on Tuesday  (where our Mission President was in attendance), we served taco salad to all the missionaries for lunch.  It was a hit but I had misjudged and prepared way too much.  I'll know better  next time.  We and our own four elders were a little taco'd out after a couple of days :).

One sister in our branch who has come back to church recently, and whom we love but have worried about because of her personal situation, called us during the week and told us that she was in a shelter for women.  We were happy to hear it because she was not safe at home.  She had left with only the clothes on her back but sounded happy to now be in a safe place.  Yesterday she called again and told us that she had found a small apartment away from here and that she would be moving there today, Monday.  She has nothing - no food, no furniture, and not even a pan to cook anything in.  We called our branch president and he will contact her new bishop so she can get some assistance.  We also contacted the senior missionary couple in that area and they are also happy to help.  I love this church!  

We were so very happy yesterday in church to see a less active member of our branch whom we have been visiting and come to know and love.  Everyone welcomed him warmly and we hope he felt at home again and recognized that he belonged. 

We finally today almost completed our 72 hour emergency kit.  Every missionary must have one - just in case.  It's nice to know that we are ready for whatever may come.  Hopefully we will not get snowed in this winter with no electricity etc., but "we can sleep when the wind blows".

We received a wonderful Thanksgiving package from our daughters and their families in California this week.  Beautiful art work from each child and also candy, cookies, a candle and a funny card from everyone.  We loved it.  Thank you!!!

Love to all from Elder and Sister Lewis :)