Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014 Happy Thanksgiving tra la la

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you this week!  Thanks to Angie and P1 for the card I could include in the blog.  Thanks to my sweet sister and mother-in-law for sending things in the mail when they felt bad for us because we don't receive a lot of mail.  Thanks to those who took up the charge to help our missionaries have a great Christmas.  Thanks to my children, children through marriage and my wonderful grandchildren, just because.

Thanks to my wonderful husband.  There are too many things to list, but here are a few.  Thanks for finishing the Sudoku when I get stuck.  Thanks for vacuuming the carpet.  Thanks for understanding when I just NEED chocolate.  Thanks for opening the doors for me and setting that example.  Thanks for doing anything that requires 3D construction because I am 3D impaired.  Thanks for carving the turkey even when your back hurts.  Thanks for setting an example of service for our family.  Thanks for being a worthy priesthood holder.

Thanks to my siblings for the outstanding things they have done.  Thanks for teaching me things, like how to drive a stick shift when Dad was frustrated.  Thanks for telling me that the guy who just broke up with me was ugly anyway.  Thanks for teaching me to harmonize.  Thanks for sending me a neon light bulb when you were far away.  Thanks for being strong when I was not.  Thanks for making paper dolls for me.  Thanks for laughing when I dropped the wedding cake.  Thanks to my siblings through marriage for making our family better.  Thanks for making me laugh.

Thanks to the missionaries.  Thanks for their sacrifices and service.  Thanks for their understanding when I need a translator.  Thanks for their patience when I try to speak Portuguese (even though Elder Sousa makes fun of me!).  Thanks to my Mission President and his wife for their selflessness and caring for these young missionaries.

Thanks to the Clear Springs Branch for wanting us to come.  Thanks for their patience and kindness.  Thanks for teaching me about great Brazilian traditions and foods.  Thanks for being such fine examples in Temple attendance.  Thanks for thinking that the ideas I have are good, even when they may not be!

Thanks to my friends for the support you have given me.  Thanks for helping me to have courage when I had none.  Thanks for helping me find answers.  Thanks for helping me build castles out of bottles.  Thanks for helping me to be able to provide something special for others.  Thanks for teaching me about your cultures and beliefs.
Thanks to the beautiful people with whom I served in the Temple and their support in helping me learn.

Thanks to my Heavenly Father.  Being in the mission field, I realize how blessed I was to be raised in a home where God and Jesus were words to be respected.  I realize that being raised in an LDS community allowed me to have a believing heart, where I otherwise would probably not have.  The greatest blessing I can have is to know that I am a daughter of a loving Father in Heaven and that Jesus Christ made it possible for me to return to live with him.

Yes, I have a lot of thanks this Thanksgiving!

November 28, 2014-watch for a special Christmas campaign by the Church.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16, 2014 What do you mean "it doesn't get that cold in Atlanta"?

The weather has definitely changed here.  We have had days where the high temperature is in the 40's.  It is a real shock to our young Brazilian Elders.  We journeyed to their apartments to survey their winter preparations.  The one who is probably the most prepared for the weather is also the one freezing to death!  Riding bicycles in the cold is not pleasant, they are discovering.

Today was a very blessed day at Church.  There were 15 non-members there!  We are so excited to have less actives rejoin us and non-members become members.  The conversion stories are wonderful.  We are so grateful to be part of it all.  I assure you, it is not because we are good at this.  The Lord is sending them to us.

We spent time running cars to Lilburn to get them fixed.  It is about 45 minutes from here.  I am getting so that I can get there without the Garmin because we go so often.  It is always a delight to be able to see the other senior missionaries.  They run things so smoothly and are wonderful people to be around.

As a senior missionary, we are allowed to go into the Atlanta area.  We are also allowed to visit with family.  We had the pleasure of having dinner with Elder Dixon's brother on Wednesday.  He is so busy and so are we.  We hadn't seen him for almost two months.

We had a Zone training on Tuesday.  The Zone Leaders invited a man from one of the Wards here to speak to us about teaching.  He is well qualified to teach on the subject, his resume was lengthy and impressive.  He talked about the importance of using open-ended questions when we teach.  If we use questions that can be answered with one word, we are not getting everything from the person's answer.  He taught us about different forms of teaching and when to use different kinds.  For example, he used to be in charge of safety training (in some way) at UPS.  They had lots of injuries for people because of falling in ice and snow.  He said they developed a machine to simulate ice and the person was in a harness.  That way, the person could safely learn how to walk on ice.  Instructing them was not enough.  They needed to be able to feel firsthand how to walk so as to not fall.  Good food for thought!

Every time we go to visit our Elders in Alpharetta, this little car is parked there.  We think it is amazing that it can sit there and not be damaged or stolen.

Another little bit of Atlanta trivia.   This is the homebase for the Chick-fil-a organization.  Their restaurants are EVERYWHERE!  There are a few, though, that have had me scratching my head.  This is a picture of one of them (I didn't take these pictures, but it looks like the one we pass):

Yes, you are seeing it correctly.  It is a Chick-fil-a Dwarf House, complete with a small red door.  I was really surprised that these were in existence, so I looked up the history.  As it turns out, the initial restaurant for Truett Cathy (the founder of Chick-fil-a) was called a Dwarf Diner because it was so small.  There is nothing small about their business now!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014 Adversity

This week has been a rough one for people we care about.  One lost a brother in really hard circumstances.  One of our investigators lost his mother unexpectedly.  Two of the dear sisters in the Branch are dealing with physical problems.  The struggles in life have not been avoided by the righteous.  Many ask "why"?  These are good people who are striving to live their lives as God would have them do.  Still, they face difficulties, pains and sorrows.  

When the early Latter-day Saints had been persecuted, driven from their homes, even murdered and the Prophet Joseph Smith was arrested and put in Liberty Jail, he found himself asking a similar question of the Lord.  The answer he was given is pertinent for all of us, even today.  Doctrine and Covenants 126:7-8 states: 

 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

Life is hard.  Many of our greatest sorrows are not of our own making.  In the pre-existence those are the trials that we not only agreed to endure on the earth, but wanted to endure.  We wanted the freedom to choose.  We wanted agency.  We wanted to learn and grow.  That placed us in a position to experience pain and sorrow, as well as health and joy.  I read a book many years ago in which the character stated that the difficulty that was given was to carve out the heart so that there was greater room for joy.  I pray for those who are suffering to have a great abundance of joy to fill their hearts.

Remember how one of the Brazilian missionaries fell on his bicycle and was miraculously safe? This week, the other Elder,  Elder Castro, locked his brakes up and flipped the bicycle.  He tried to break his fall with his hands and broke his wrist.  He is quite embarrassed and has been trying to figure out a way to hide his cast.  That is harder to do when it is bright red (he chose it because he likes the red Power Ranger).  Our Branch Mission Leader has threatened to put training wheels on their bicycles!  

We spend quite a bit of time taking missionaries to doctors.  We figure by doing that, their companions can keep working.  It is amazing how busy it keeps us, though!

I have to say, though, I was certainly proud of our Elders after the transfers took place.  One of the apartments was a mess.  There was a huge stack of garbage.  After the transfer, the Elders who were assigned to that apartment cleaned it up.  It looks really nice.

This is one of those Atlanta curiosity things.  This is called an Osage Orange.  It is not really an orange and apparently not even edible.  We took a brief break to check out a local historic site and the tree had a warning sign to watch out for falling Osage Oranges.  It is almost as large as an orange, and I imagine it would hurt if it hit!

 This is the Bullock house where Teddy Roosevelt's mother was raised.  It is interesting to think that our little Roswell Georgia has such a link to America's history.
 The weather is changing.  It is colder here now.  Some days it has been colder here than in Utah.  The leaves are changing, but everyone indicates that the leaves are not as bright this year because there has not been as much rain.

 Elder Dixon took this picture so that I could put it on the blog and you would feel sorry for us!  Every day we check the mail.  I guess it is just the optimist in us!

I can't end this blog without a tribute to our Veterans.  Tuesday is a day to remember them.  Their sacrifice for our freedoms is something for which we can never say thanks enough.  I am proud of those who have served our country .  Thank you.  We wouldn't be here without you.    Battle Hymn of the Republic

Whitney Houston's Star Spangled Banner

Kate Smith's "God Bless America"

Armed Forces Tribute

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014 Be careful what you pray for

A few of you have asked what Elder Dixon has been doing on the Mission.  A few weeks ago, we were called as the "team leaders" for the Brazilian missionaries.  That really meant that he was called as the team leader and I am the sidekick.  I occasionally feel the motherly instinct kick in and check cupboards, but mostly, it is Elder Dixon who is working closely with the Elders.  He helps them learn to budget their time, their money and their mileage.  A couple of weeks ago, he also had to take over the car for one of the sets of missionaries.

The car issue needs a bit of explanation.  In the mission cars, there is a monitor called a TiWi.  It reports bad driving to Salt Lake.  If you have too many violations, your driving privilege is revoked.  The funny thing is that Elder Dixon has had five reports on his driving!  Elder Residori said that is a mission record.  In his defense, he was given incorrect information about how it works.  He is doing much better now, but really dislikes the TiWi.

So, if those assignments have not kept him busy enough, he was just called as the Second Counselor in the Branch Presidency.  He is pretty anxious about that call.  Although he tries with Portuguese, he is less than competent and sometimes does not understand the people. (I just got hacked by Elder Dixon on the last sentence!)

Before we came on the Mission, I prayed  that we would be needed and that we would be busy.  Elder Dixon has told me to consult with him before I pray for anything!

It was transfer day.  I cried like usual.  This time one of our sweet sister training leaders (Sister Lindsay) went home, and one of the Elders who has been with us as a Zone leader from the first was transferred.  We also saw our sweet little Sister Tapia transferred.  She cried because she was looking forward to meeting Drei, Kaitlyn and Titan at Christmas.  We will miss them.


We also had a shake up among our Brazilian missionaries.  Sister Barros is now assigned to work with an English-speaking Sister.  They are doing well.  Elder Santos is now working in a Spanish Branch in a rural area.  The two new missionaries were separated and placed with Elder Castro and Elder Sousa.  It will be a great thing.  It will allow all of them to grow more, to improve their English, and to become better leaders.  I look forward to watching the growth.

Amazing things happened this week in the missionary work.  On Tuesdays from 10:30 until about 12:00 we have District meeting at the Papermill Building.  We meet in the Relief Society Room at the back of the building.  We had concluded the meeting and I was emotional because we were losing missionaries.  They wanted some group pictures, but I stepped into the hall because I was crying.  I looked down the long hallway, and at the front of the building, a woman was trying to get in.  I quickly walked to the front and called to her.  She returned to the door and explained that her car had died and would we help her.  I said "of course" and invited her into the building.  She had been wearing high heels and had taken them off because her feet hurt from the long walk.  She helped us take pictures and then we loaded up two of the Elders to take her to her car and see what could be done.  She explained that she had just had the engine rebuilt and it cost $2,500.00.  We drove for probably a mile and an half before arriving at the parking lot at the school where she had left her car.   The Elders popped open the hood to see the problem, but the car started right up.  My mind processed it all quite quickly (which is a miracle in and of itself) and I pointed out to her that she was supposed to meet the missionaries.  Why didn't she simply ask for help in the school where her car was parked and where she had just volunteered?  Why did she walk the direction she did when it was residential and to go the other way would have been businesses?  (She is from the area and would have known that).  Had I not been in the hall when I was, had she not come to the door at that exact time, we would not have met.  She gave her contact information to the Elders.  I look forward to hearing how it went.

In a different location, two English-speaking Sister missionaries engaged a man (Marcio) in a gospel conversation.  They found that he was Brazilian.  They contacted our High Councilman, who speaks Portuguese.  He set up a time for the Brazilian Elders to teach Marcio.  Marcio knew everything they taught him was true.  He is committed to be baptized this month and was at Church at the Branch today.  He told the brethren at the Branch that he had known of the Church for 20 years, but had avoided us and the Jehovah's Witnesses.  He said that the young sisters made it difficult to avoid them, and he does not know why he agreed to go to Church.  Once he did, and heard the doctrine, he knew he had found the truth.

We have another man who was scheduled for baptism today, but had to have surgery on Friday.  He did not want to get his cast wet, and wasn't secure that we could keep it dry.  He will also be baptized this month.  We owe his conversion to the persistence of Elder Santos.  Elder Santos never gave up on him, even when George was struggling to keep the commandments.

I got some sweet pictures of some of my grandchildren

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014 A tribute to my dear mentor

I received notice that Lewis Farr, a dear friend and mentor, passed away.  Words cannot begin to pay tribute to the man.

In the 1980's I was attending a student ward at the University of Utah.  Bishop Farr became the Bishop while I was there.  He was a gentle and caring soul.  I don't know how he was able to make so many of us feel loved, but he did so.  Even after so many years, we still have a closeness as a ward.  We have reunions, we share memories.  I believe that most of those who were there have good lives and good marriages.  Somehow, Bishop Farr taught us well.

I have two special memories of him.  I had graduated from the University and decided that it was time to leave the Ward and move on.  I went to Bishop Farr's home to say goodbye.  We talked about the Ward and the fact that he would soon be replacing his Relief Society President.  He asked me what qualities I thought he should look for.  I told him that it needed to be a person who could give without feeling it.  I hated to leave his influence, but I went on to the resident ward.  I introduced myself to the Bishop of the resident ward.  (The resident Ward Bishop subsequently told Elder Dixon that he (the Bishop) had just met the woman he was going to marry.  That is a story for another time).  I didn't stay in that ward long  because my roommates and I moved.

I tried really hard to find peace in my new ward, and was treated very well, but it did not feel right.  I remember crying to the Lord one night about my feelings and pleading that he would help me know what I was supposed to be doing.  Bishop Farr called me that night and listened to my story.  He invited me to return to the student Ward.  I immediately knew that he was right, and that is what I did.  He then called me to be the Relief Society President.  My guess is that he knew all along that was what was supposed to happen, but I had to find my way.

Working with him was wonderful.  I always felt the love of the Savior through him, and felt encouraged to grow.  I became the best I could be while working with him.  He gave me wings to fly.

I remember returning to the church building one evening.  Bishop Farr was in his office with the door partially open.  He didn't know I was there.  I was able to see him there, agonizing for those of us in the Ward.  I knew that he loved us, only at that moment I also began to know the depth.

Bishop Farr was in my thoughts often, but I didn't make it over to see him.  Still, when we had the last reunion I attended, he treated me like a favored queen.  I can only hope that I can grow to be like him.

I love you, Bishop.  Tell Marilyn "hi" for me.

Bishop Farr's obituary