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
BEST MISSION WE KNOW!
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.