Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

Today, June 23, is my mother's birthday.  She lived to be almost 101 but passed away in April last year.  Today is also midsummer.  At least it is in the Scandinavian countries. There will be lots of fun and festivities this evening with bonfires everywhere and burning of witches who will fly south on a broom stick.  My childhood memories are flooding my mind.

Here in the Baltimore mission we are "hastening the work of salvation."  This past week we said goodbye to several missionaries and welcomed eleven new ones, plus a senior couple.  What an amazing experience it is to be part of this work and to feel the enthusiasm and also the humility of these missionaries.  There are no finer young people in the world today.  To give up two of the best years of their lives in service to the Lord, and to do it with such class and character is a sight to behold.  We are amazed again and again as we get to work along side with them, attend meetings with them and just watch them in action.  Elder Yardley and Elder Latu were transferred to other areas and we miss them.  Not just regular miss them, but pain-in-your-heart miss them.  I know, I'm a softy.  

We have sister missionaries in our district that we love and adore, but sisters will not be assigned to the Brooklyn Park area because it's too dangerous.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Yes, I guess this senior sister missionary is safe.  I have a strong man with me all the time to protect me. :)  Actually, I have gotten used to being here and the area doesn't bother me.  The only bad thing that has happened is that our car was "keyed" really bad all the way down the right side.  I may have mentioned that before.

The other day we went to McDonald's to get an ice cream cone and to talk to a homeless man we have become friends with.  While we were there, there was a man sitting at a corner table who sounded very angry and was rapping something loud.  At another table a young couple were sitting with their heads on the table, completely stoned, high, low or whatever it's called.  There were several other characters, who obviously were there for the AC, and then of course our friend, who is a really nice person.  He owns a car and gets a little Social Security every month, but doesn't want to spent it on a room.  He has come to church with us one time.  

We have been enjoying some street contacting/inviting, and we are even teaching an investigator, but most of our time is spent with our ongoing member and leader support activities.  

We have had some interesting experiences this past week.  I wasn't sure if I would share this one, but I will.

The elders had been teaching a young gay man (we will call him Joe) whom we had come to know and love.  He was very excited about the gospel and he accepted and loved everything about the Church.  He told us that the first time he walked into our meetings he felt like he had come home.  He came to one of our Family Home Evenings and had a wonderful time.  His baptism date was set and we were all very excited for him.  Then "a friend" decided to show Joe some ugly anti-Mormon material.  We had warned him that the adversary would try hard to discourage him, and we encouraged him not to waste time looking for and/or reading stuff like that, but he did.  So, he abruptly texted the elders and us, and basically said stop coming!  

Last week it had been about a month since the text and we decided to go and visit him.  He was sitting outside his apartment when we arrived and he looked angry when he saw us.  I walked up and asked him if he was still mad at us.  He said he was not mad but felt like he had been deceived.  I said: "Honestly Joe, do you think Elder Lewis and I, and the young elders, would ever deceive you?"  He looked down and said "No, I don't."  We then told him that we had missed him and just stopped by to make sure he was okay.  We ended up having a nice friendly conversation and gave him a hug before we left.  As we were leaving, he said with a smile, "Don't be surprised if I show up at church one day."  We hope he does.  There is a place for everyone in our Church and everyone is welcome, but we all have to live by the same commandments that God has given us.

The following pictures are from last Wednesday's transfer day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 16, 2014

On June 2nd we passed our half way mark.  It's hard to believe because it seems like we just arrived.  It feels like home here and we love the good people in the Brooklyn Park Branch.  Some days we are tired and feel like we are not doing enough, but then we will be uplifted and revitalized by the kindness and gratitude of others.  

I read in 2 Cor. 9:6-7 today:

But this I say, He which soweth 
sparingly shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth bountifully 
shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he pur-
poseth in his heart, so let him give;
not grudgingly, or of necessity: for 
God loveth a cheerful giver.

We are having such a good time and I can truly say that we are cheerful in our work of serving others, but the rewards far outweigh the time we spend in doing so.

A sad thing happened this past week.  Our dear friend Gladys passed away.  We had come to know and love her through these past months of visiting her often in the nursing home and the hospital.  She was always so happy to see us and her face lit up every time we came.  She called us "her missionaries."  We loved sharing scriptures with her and the three of us would hold hands when we prayed.  I still feel like crying when I think about her.  I wish we could have seen her just one more time.  We hope she had a wonderful reunion with her husband who passed away several years ago.

I still really enjoy teaching the youth in Sunday School.  Some times I have two or three and at times seven. They keep me young. I also teach Relief Society on the fourth Sunday.  Ken stays very busy with his callings and Sunday is always a very busy day for us,  usually from 7:00 to about 3:00.

Our Family Fun Nights have been changed to only every other Friday.  It was becoming too much for all of us.  Lots of kids attend, but not as many adults as we had hoped.  I have crafts for them to do and we have had fun making wall hangings, necklaces, cards, and other things. 

On June 6th, we went to the temple with all the other senior couples and President and Sister Richards.  It was a wonderful experience as I am sure you can imagine.  Afterwards we all went to a restaurant for lunch and had so much fun chatting and eating together.  One sad thing is that one of the couples is leaving early because she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will start treatment as soon as she gets home.  We will miss them. 

Tonight the Dotimas family had a FHE farewell cook-out for Elder Yardley and Elder Latu, who are being transferred. We will miss them so much and they will always be in our hearts.

Some of the amazing young missionaries in our mission.

At our zone training last Tuesday.

Elder Zwhalen and Elder Yardley did a great job instructing us.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 7, 2014

We have been so busy that I have not had time to write.  Following are some pictures from the last couple of weeks:

With Abdon and Tylor.

Where they live.
Memorial Day cook out at church.
Elders are doing a good job grilling burgers and hot dogs.

Lots of people came and enjoyed the food and fellowship.

This one especially.

It was perfect weather.

After the party the room is turned back into this for Sunday meetings.

We attended our zone conference in Annapolis two weeks ago.

Elder Yardley did a great job conducting the conference.

I think this is a picture from Curtis Bay.

My sister Connie came to visit last week.  We had a great time.

Old Ellicott City.

At Inner Harbor.

We took a nice boat ride out into the harbor.

Fort Henry in the distance.

We enjoyed a nice lunch at the harbor.