Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

The weather is still very cold here in Maryland.  Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of it and it's only January.  I guess I've been a Florida girl too long.  This coming Wednesday it's supposed to get down to 1 degree, and that's not including a chill factor! 

Last week we received a wonderful gift surprise - "a new iPad!" We're so excited.  Thank you so much, Jackie and Bryan!  I use it to show church videos to the youth in my Sunday School class and we can use it in our missionary work also.  We're probably the last people on earth to have one but it's amazing.  

Last Friday we drove to Frederick to attend a missionary conference.  Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy was there and gave wonderful instructions.  He is very funny and interesting and the young missionaries especially enjoyed it.  He played football both in college and professionally, so he made a lot of comparisons with teamwork, communication and working hard.  President and Sister Richards also spoke and they are always so wonderful.  We were all served a nice lunch afterwards and that is no small affair when there are about 275 people to feed. 

So, I got my results from the MRI and I do have a torn rotator cuff, which is very common.  I can decide to have shots that will not fix the problem but may take away the pain, or have arthroscopic surgery to repair it.  I'm still not completely sure what to do.  I don't want it to interfere with our mission.

Yesterday was our Branch Conference.  We had lots of visitors from the stake and I was lucky enough to have a member of the Stake Presidency attend my Sunday School class - yay!  Just what I had hoped for.  :)  

So far Elder Lewis is the Sunday School President, teaches the Gospel Doctrine class when the teacher doesn't come (which is often), and is now also the executive secretary in the branch presidency.  Being a senior missionary in a small branch is the best and we love it.  

Some people have asked us:  Why are you doing this?  Why do you leave your home, family and friends for eighteen months to come here?  The answer is simple:  Because we love Jesus Christ and we love His church.  Our faith and testimonies are deeply rooted in our hearts and therefore we would go anywhere to serve Him.  We have been blessed with good health and stamina and are thankful that we are able to be here.

Our first tulips of the - almost - Spring.  I feel better when I have real plants and flowers around.

The District!

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

This past week has been a pretty normal week.  P-day and FHE on Monday, district meeting on Tuesday, and visits to several of the members of our branch each day.  The highlight of the week was when we delivered a birthday cake to a less active sister who has not been to church while we have been here.  She was so excited and grateful.  We had a really good visit with her and she said she and her family would all be coming to church on Sunday.  They didn't come, but we will keep hoping and praying for them.  Another sister we have been visiting did come and we were very happy to see her.  

Some times we visit people along with the young Elders.  It's always a very spiritual experience for us to see how these young men, two bus stops past high school like our mission president says, handle themselves and deal with people in stressful situations.  I have so much more respect for them now that I have seen them work up close.  The other evening we were meeting them in a neighborhood called "the projects."  There were "blue lights" blinking at every corner, indicating a high-crime area, and I was a little concerned.  It didn't faze these young men; they said hi and talked to everyone they met (so did Ken actually).  We're learning a lot from them, and if I had had on my "heavenly glasses", I'm sure I would have seen angels round about them.  

Thursday I went to see an orthopaedic doctor about my shoulder.  It has been bothering me since last spring.  I had x-rays and an MRI, and will be going back this coming Thursday for the results.  

Tomorrow it's going to snow again.  We were going to drive down to the temple with a sister who is going for the first time, but we think all the mission cars will be grounded, and we usually follow the rules to be safe.   It may just be a cozy day at home with a good book and some hot chocolate.  

We hope you are all well.  God bless.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 14, 2014

I usually write on Mondays, our preparation day, but we were really busy all day with cleaning, shopping and getting ready for our weekly Family Home Evening.  We only had two visitors this time but it turned out to be a really pleasant evening with a good discussion on how we can cope with life's trials and heartaches.  

Last Monday we were very pleased to have a less active member attend, and he also brought his daughter and her three children, ages five through twelve.  We first showed a short Mormon Message video and then talked about the importance of making good choices and how they affect us in the future.  I told the boyhood story by Pres. Hinckley about two young boys who put coins in a field laborer's shoes, and the children really enjoyed it.  We had a good discussion about the warm feelings we get when we choose the right.

Our daughter Deanna texted us the other day and said, "People ask about you and I tell them your are loving it, working hard, and it seems like you are on a second honeymoon because you are having so much fun."

Well, she is right.  We do love being here, we do work hard, and we are also having a lot of fun.  There is no better way to find happiness than spending time helping others find happiness.  Having almost every day planned with meetings, appointments, visits, and service can indeed get tiring, but we sleep well at night and we rest when we need to.   We have plenty of fun.  We often see the light side of our experiences and laugh with each other a lot.  

We also have good fun visiting with our new friends here.  Several days ago  we were visiting a couple who shared with us some contentious family problems.  After listening, we advised them to forgive and forget, and to let the whole matter go.  Then, out of the blue, I started singing, " Let it be, let it be ..." from the old Beatles song.  Ken and the couple joined in and we then all laughed together.  Some times laughing truly is the best medicine.  We usually leave a spiritual thought when we visit people and often we sing a song also.  People really like that, especially elderly people.

For the honeymoon part, I should tell you that if you want to know whether you can get along with your husband or wife  "24/7",  just go on a mission.  To be honest, before we came here we were a little worried about how it would go. But with patience, open communication, tolerance, and lots of prayer, we are getting along great.  When we allow God to be in the relationship, it always works out.  After all, we have been practicing this for 42 years so we should have learned it by now, right?

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014

The holidays plus the cold weather have kept us from doing as much as we normally would, but when we can't go out, we use the time at home to read, plan, practice and also rest.  

On Sunday, December 29th, Elder Lewis and I actually performed a duet in sacrament meeting - a first for us.  We sang "The Wintry Day Descending to Its Close."  We probably never would have done that in our home ward, but here we are more brave; and they very seldom have special musical numbers during the meetings here, so we simply volunteered when we saw the need.

One of the many "learning experiences" we had this past week was when a gentleman, a less active member of the Church, was unexpectedly rude to us.  We just wanted to say hello and visit for a minute, but he made it very clear he was not interested in talking to us.  Oh well.  

However, all the positive experiences completely out weigh the negative ones.  We have seen so many good and kind people and we feel very fortunate to meet them.  We started to knock on the door of a less active couple a few days ago (For those of you who are not acquainted with the Mormon Church, "less active" means they are members but no longer attend church meetings), but before we could even knock, the door opened and a lady said "Come on in."  When I replied,  "Don't you want to know who we are?" she quickly responded,  "I saw your name tags and that is enough for me."  We then sat in her living room and talked to her for a long time.  She told us her husband was a paraplegic and that she also had many serious health problems.  Her mother had died just before Christmas and she was missing her very much.  We listened and emphasized with her and could feel her sweet spirit.  We will be going back soon to help her sort through some things she needs to get rid of.

On the way home from church yesterday we stopped to visit a family who had not been at church for a couple of weeks.  Elder Lewis had collected some information about the BYUI  Pathway education program for him and wanted to drop it off at his home.  We visited for a few minutes and talked with him.  He was very down and discouraged and we tried to encourage him a little.  He is such a wonderful father and example to his four children and a good and strong member of the church.  I was very upset when we left because of the condition of their apartment.  There was only one armchair to sit on but not a couch or anything else in the living room.  It was very dirty and messy.   I wanted to do something but I'm still not sure what other than let our branch president and the Relief Society know.  The sad thing is we see this kind of situation again and again.  


Below are a few pictures from the last couple of weeks:

It was very cold and windy that day, but we still 
went for a walk and visited a family near by.

These beautiful sister missionaries are in our district.  The sister on the far right has been here in the mission for only one transfer (six weeks) and is now a trainer.  The second from the right has now been transferred.  We will miss her.  The two next to me are still with us.  We love them all and they are so amazing and strong.  

Fun with our friend Diane at the temple grounds and visitor center.  She was beyond happy and excited. 

Beautiful sky over the temple at sunset.  Moroni must be cold up there.