Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

My daughter-in-law, ME posted that they blessed our little granddaughter, P2,  yesterday.  She looks like her older brother, P1,  He is being such a sweet brother.  His mother says that when the baby cries, he goes to get the nursing cover-up because he figures she is hungry.  One day ME was in the shower and had the baby in her room.  The baby began to cry and P1 was trying to get into the room.  I am so glad he has that sweet personality and hope that they will always be close.friends.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I have so many thoughts, I don't know where to start.  I think one of the greatest challenges in being a Member/Leader Support missionary is dealing with the good/better/best issue.  There are so many things that could, a perhaps should, be done.  We have to strive to find the best of those good things.  Easier said than done sometimes.

On Monday, the fiance of our new investigator was in a terrible automobile accident.  Her car rolled and the picture is pretty bad.  They called us, but our Branch President was already on it.  He was on his way to give her a blessing.  The doctors thought she had broken ribs because of the amount of pain she had.  When they took x-rays, they determined she was bruised but had no broken bones.  She gives the credit to being protected by her garments.

On Tuesday, I taught one of the points in District meeting.  I never expected to be so intimidated by young missionaries.  I really was.  Hopefully, though, they found my message to be useful.

That night, our other investigator decided she was not interested in organized religion and canceled our discussion.  I was sad.  I can understand better how the young missionaries feel when that happens.  It was definitely an "eat ice cream" week.

We used Thursday as our preparation day and went with the other Senior missionaries to Stone Mountain.  It is pretty amazing.  The original intent was that the carved mural would go completely around the mountain, but the resources did not hold out to finish it.  The three horseriders represented are Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.  The second picture is of the carving, the first is a picture of Elder Dixon and I standing by a replica of the buckle that you can see on the bridle of one of the horses.

 We didn't take this picture of the carving, but ours wasn't clear enough to show you the buckle.

On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to President Bennion's home with the other Senior missionaries.  It was a wonderful evening.  Sister Bennion is a warm and inviting person and made us feel welcome.

The highlight of the week came on Saturday when we were able to attend the baptism of four people in two separate wards.  That is a privilege.  It has made me more appreciative of the sacred nature of baptisms and I regret not supporting people who were baptized into the Ward back home.  Baptism is the gateway to the blessings of eternity and is worthy of celebration.

President Bennion had asked us to put together a nice document to be given to new converts which captures their conversion story in their own words and in the words of their missionaries.  Elder Dixon and I used that and will be putting together little binders/booklets with their conversion and other information.  We are pretty excited about it, all of the missionaries like the idea and it is taking off.  Ideally, we hope that the Branch/Ward missionaries will take over the project.  It seems like that may be easier than we thought.

Elder Dixon taught the High Priest's group in Portuguese today.  He said that as he was writing on the board, he was uncertain of the accent and asked if he had written it correctly.  One of the members said, "It doesn't matter.  We are Brazilian and we don't know!"  Love these people!

The people are so wonderful to us, and especially to me and my lack of language skills.  Last week we went to a lovely dinner with a wonderful couple from the Branch.  They had been feeding a chipmunk in their backyard and were happy to tell us about it.  There is a Brazilian word for chipmunk, but they chose instead to say it in English for me.  To my delight, I got to hear them say "sheepy moon' kee".  I believe that may be my new favorite word.  Much better than English!

One final picture for my grandsons.  This little lizard likes to crawl along the handrail of our porch.  When he does so, he puffs out his throat so it looks like he swallowed a red marble.  I assume he does that to look tough.  He is really fun to watch.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014

Another great week.  We were able to meet with the District, and it is always nice to be around the young missionaries.

 The Relief Society Presidency had an idea to use mirrors to remind the sisters to be more Christlike.  We have put together these little mirrors.  The image of Christ is mostly transparent and uses the quote in Alma "Have ye received his image in your countenances?"  Now I just have 39 more to assemble!  Good thing I have Elder Dixon to help me!

We have been given the opportunity to teach a woman outside of our Branch.  We met a special requirement that she wanted: we are old!  Keep us in your prayers.

My Portuguese is improving, although it is slow.  I read the scriptures in Portuguese with my English version and am able to figure out a lot of the content without looking at the English version.  I have a LONG way to go before I understand well, but I am working on it.  The members are patient and kind.

Elder Dixon and I decided that our date for the week would be to go to the events at the Atlanta History Center commemorating the Battle of Peachtree Creek.  Peachtree is a prominent name in streets here, and was a significant battle during the Civil War.  For many years, Elder Dixon and I have enjoyed journeys with our wonderful Bishop Welch, who has been a trainer for seminary and institute teachers regarding church history from Nebraska to Utah.  One of the things that I have learned is that there is a special spirit when we are in the place where significant events have occurred.  I remember feeling that as we stopped at a spot in Wyoming where there was nothing significant to mark it.  However, the sense that something powerful had happened there was really amazing.  It was the spot where the rescuers finally found the stranded handcart saints.

I had a similar feeling at the history center.  What happened at Peachtree Creek was a powerful part of our history in this country.  Many people in the South seem to hold a reverence for the events of the Civil War.  There is a reason for that.  Thousands of young men, gave their lives in terrible battles.  Historians may debate which battle was the death knell to the move for independence by the South, but none will deny the impact of each battle in the lives of the families who lost loved ones, or lost their livelihood.  Atlanta was not burned as I had always been told.  The men leaving from the Confederate armies did not want the Union soldiers to be able to have the ammunition and explosives they had, so it was actually the Confederates that blew up train cars full of explosives and ammunition and that did level city blocks.

In the picture with the uniforms is a tan coat worn by a 17 year old Confederate Soldier.  He was killed in the battle at Peachtree Creek.

The thing that really struck me was that there was a divine plan.  Southern armies got lost on the way to the battle, some did not get there at the appointed hour, and the largest part of their army did not pursue the Northern army as ordered.  Had any of those things been different, the outcome of that battle and, possibly the war, could have been different.

It also struck me how Mormon must have felt as he watched the terrible destruction as men who should have been brothers fought to the death.  It leaves a very solemn reverence in my heart.

This week's little Atlanta novelty:  pine straw.  It is used  for mulch and is baled like hay.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13, 2014

I love being in this mission.  Our assignment is wonderful.  We love the Branch and the Branch President is wonderful.  Working alongside the young missionaries is a choice opportunity.  I don't mind wearing skirts all of the time because I also get to wear the name tag.  Most people are completely respectful of our service.

I like to think that we are needed.  I have concluded, however, that we are not needed as much as we need to be needed.  I love feeling like there are things I can do to help the Branch.  Even though my lack of Portuguese language skills does cause some issues.

Today Elder Dixon and I spoke in church.  I used the talk that had been given by Elder Packer some years ago about the "lower lights".  He had an experience in which the lower lights in the lighthouse were not turned on and it caused a perilous journey for him.  He likened us to the "lower lights".  I have really come to understand that concept here in the mission field.  In "Preach My Gospel" it talks about people who may not even realize that something is missing in their lives until we give them the gospel.  I believe that is true.  I remember times in my life when I felt homesick even though I was home.  I needed the "lower lights.">

We were able to top off the day by sharing the gospel, and dinner, with the Sister Missionaries who live just in the building across from us.  They are delightful, and are working hard.  I should find out how to contact their families so I can tell them how great they are!

I thought you might all enjoy a little information about our home.  The roads are CRAZY!  The name of the road changes according to what city you are in, and sometimes within the city.   If you miss a turn, you can't just make a quick right and travel around the block to get back on the road because the roads are not in a grid and do not connect.  You often have to drive north to get on a street to go south, etc.

The entrances to subdivisions are amazing.  Even humble subdivisions have quite elaborate entrances.  This is just a random one:

Firehydrants here are silver.  I don't know why, but they are.

There are beautiful flowering trees everywhere.  They have clusters of blossoms that are lavender, pink or red in color.  I think they may be Crape Myrtle, but I am not certain.

We have District Meeting on Tuesday.  Our District is just beginning to get used to us.  We love them!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

Another busy week!  We were able to move into our apartment on Tuesday.  The office missionaries and the Elders were wonderful.  Sister Jessen gathered furniture and decor for us and the Elders helped move it all.  I was surprised to see how well the comforter I brought from home worked with everything!


Just as we were settling in, a pipe burst!  Elder Dixon swept water out of the door while I ran for help.

After the excitement, we settled in nicely.

We got to meet with President and Sister Bennion this week and had Zone pictures taken.  The powerful message of believing you can achieve was felt throughout the conference.  My favorite part was the story of how President and Sister Bennion were concerned regarding their ability to serve because they have a daughter with cerebral palsy who requires constant care.  President Bennion's twin brother was contacted about the issue and he indicated that he and his wife would come to Atlanta to care for her so that President and Sister Bennion could serve.  It is still unknown if that will be necessary, but it is a tremendous testimony regarding service to others.

We were able to go to the Temple with the youth.  There were probably 10 youth at the Temple for baptisms.  Even more amazing is the fact that they do that monthly and that they take family names with them to the Temple.  Imagine what we could do if all of the Wards were able to do that!

Late Happy July 4th!  We had the pleasure of going to dinner with other senior missionaries.  It was at a "Tea House".  After World War II, many women needed to find a way to make money, so they established restaurants.  They called them "Tea Houses".  The one we went to has been open since then and serves authentic Southern cuisine.  I tried Pot Likker, and even fried Okra!  I liked the Pot Likker, and could tolerate the Okra.