Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 24, 2014

This past week was a week of highs and lows.  We had many good and rewarding visits with members of our branch as they shared with us their joys and sorrows.  One brother returned to church Sunday and we were very happy and excited to see him.  During Sunday School class he suddenly collapsed from a low sugar episode and an ambulance had to be called. It caused quite a stir in our little group. While we waited our branch president offered a prayer for him. He was fine after the paramedics gave him something to stabilize his sugar.

One day we unexpectedly helped out a stressed sister by sitting with her son and seventeen year old autistic daughter for a while so their mother could run a necessary errand.  It was a very sweet experience for us.  The son is in my class on Sundays, but we had never met the daughter.  We talked about music, games, school and even God.  She wanted to know what we thought He was like and told us that she believed in Him.   It was fun to get to know her and felt of her sweet spirit.  

A little after midnight, this past Friday, our phone rang and it was the son of a sister we dearly love, telling us that his mother just passed away.  We had visited her in the hospital the Sunday before and worried that perhaps she would not be coming home again.  Sister Eva was the sweetest little lady and we had come to know her and love her these past six months.  After the call I went back to bed and as I thought of her, I could see her face and hear her voice saying to me, "It's alright honey," like she had said to me so many times before.   She was only 67, but had been ill for a long time.  The funeral was today and we enjoyed visiting with her large family and listening to all the good memories of Eva.  We will truly miss her and the branch will never be the same without her.

Last Wednesday we attended the temple with our new mission leader and the four young Elders.  It was a most spiritual experience.  We feel like they are our family, so we really enjoyed the experience with them.  

In addition to teaching the youth in Sunday School, I now also teach the 4th Sunday lesson in Relief Society.  I really enjoy doing that and there are usually about ten to fifteen sisters in the class.  

Did we mention that there are about six Filipino families in the branch?  Even our branch president is from the Philippines.   They are all very nice, happy and friendly people.

We have had a few days of nice weather, but also more snow and cold.  Hopefully spring will be here soon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

This past week has been a little backbreaking and scary.   The Saturday before, Elder Lewis and I were doing some service by vacuuming the carpets with a shop-vac in a great big three story house.  I, of course, wanted to try first, and by doing so must have pulled something in my back.  To make a long story short, I could barely move a few days last week and was becoming fearful it might mean the end of our mission.  But after a couple of days of rest and priesthood blessings, I am almost as good as new.  We are so grateful for the support, concern and prayers of family and friends.

We again enjoyed our every-six-weeks inspection tour of the elders' and sisters' apartments and vehicles.  We love getting out of town, traveling through "old Maryland" and admiring the beautiful landscape, farms and homes.  This was right after the terrible ice storm, so we saw a lot of trees and branches down.  Visiting with the young missionaries is always a treat, and after we finish the "white glove" inspections and advise them where they need a little more elbow grease, we always leave them with a spiritual thought and a prayer.  

Last Wednesday we again attended "transfer day" where we lost from our district one sister (who went home because of homesickness) and two elders who were reassigned to other areas.   However, we gained a wonderful brand new sister straight from the MTC.  One of the elders is from Tonga and is so humbly amazing.  We were called up to bear our testimonies and introduce ourselves because we didn't know about the first transfer after we arrived last September,  and it was then overlooked.  It was fun and thrilling to look into all those young (and old) faces and see the happiness and excitement of this work.  By the way, did you know that there are actually three verses in the "Called to Serve" song?  It goes like this:

Called to preach the gospel by the Spirit,
Two by two we share the Savior's word.
Hard we'll work so we return with honor,
Preach until they all have heard.
Onward, ever onward, 'till we rescue every soul,
Onward ever onward, true conversion is our goal.
Frederick, to Columbia, out to Martinsburg we go.
Baltimore, nap-town, Winchester we're the

You can imagine how much fun and spirit we feel when we stand and sing that song in unison in a chapel full of missionaries.

At the transfer meeting we had the easy job of handing out TIWI cards.  Each mission car has a system installed where Elder Jones in the mission office can keep track of where the missionaries are and how fast they are going.  We never knew that but it's kind of cool, knowing that he can keep track of 250 18 - 20 year olds driving cars belonging to the Church.  We have been told that there are very few mishaps. 

Monday for FHE we had invited our good friend Wanda to dinner and she brought her nonmember daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed having them in our home.  The son-in-law is Jewish, so we had a brief, interesting discussion about Judaism and Christianity.  To be continued....

On Thursday we had another snow day and could not get out, but it worked out well so I could rest my back.  On Friday Elder Lewis went outside with a broom and a neighbor's snow-shovel and cleared the snow from on and around our car and several of our neighbors also.  I think he had fun and he said it felt good to get out in the fresh air.  (Those wonder gloves came in handy, Royce!) :)

Yesterday, Sunday, we had our two sets of elders over to dinner.  First, the two new ones came at 5:00 pm, and it was fun to get to know them better.  The elder from Tonga told us that his family have all been members of the Church way back to his great grandparents, and that the entire population in Tonga is 60% LDS.  He is a wonderful young man, and boy he could eat.  The other elder is from Utah and told us that he has lost 40 lb. since he came on his mission a year ago - just by not drinking Doctor Pepper; and he has not been in a bike riding area at all.  Oh, he is 6' 4" and was heavy when he first came out.

The other two elders always come about 8:45 pm on Sunday evenings.  They are the zone leaders so they regularly use our computer to complete their reporting and spreadsheets. Of course, we always have something good for them to eat first, and they really appreciate that.  A little grand-mothering never hurts anyone.

Yesterday we had eleven less active members attend church!  It was so exciting and we were very happy to see them all.

We continue to love visiting the members of our branch and  enjoy many wonderful experiences.  I think one of the sweetest moments lately was when we knocked on the door to a family's apartment and discovered they are from Pakistan.  Only the father is a member, but he was not home; he drives a taxi 14 to 16 hours a day to support his large family. There are five children and they are all attending high school and college.  Two teenage girls opened their door, dressed in their native attire, and pleasantly talked with us; they were very sweet and friendly.  The mother does not speak english so she did not speak with us, but we hope to meet her another time.

Bye for now.  God bless.

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 3, 2014

Beautiful sunset seen from our apartment windows.  
Our building is identical.  We live on the 1st floor.

Tuesday, January 28th - our 42nd wedding anniversary!  What better way to celebrate than to attend the temple with friends who were going through for the first time.  It was the most beautiful day filled with the Holy Spirit.   Our friends have been married for about seven years and she has only been a member of the church a little over a year.  After years of abusing drugs and alcohol, they met at an AA meeting, became friends and later married.  After listening to the stories of their lives and everything they have been through, I remain a firm believer that anyone can change.  With enough help, love, encouragement and the Atonement of Christ, it is possible to start a new life.  You can imagine the happiness and sweet emotions we felt seeing them kneeling at the alter of the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  

Elder Lewis has been doing some research into the history of the Brooklyn Park Branch.  He has been interviewing past presidents, clerks and members and has found much interesting information.   Hopefully he will finish by the end of our mission.  

The work is progressing and we are happy and - except for colds and my bad shoulder - healthy.  We continue to enjoy our mission here and feel very blessed.