Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three lives well lived- May 31, 2015

This week, our mission has been called upon to deal with the tragic death of one of our sisters.  It was something none of us ever wanted to see in our lifetime.  Her companion is in the hospital in critical condition.  Here is the link to a news article about it:  Sister Barnard and Sister Beckstrom

These young women were valiantly serving the Lord.  We are grateful for the time they have spent on a mission here.  They were actively involved in missionary work when it happened.  These young women have been a force for good, and this tragedy is being felt by many, many people.  Even though we did not all know them, every one in this mission feels the loss.  The tears you see flowing from our eyes are simply the love that is spilling out.

We also lost a fine servant of our Heavenly Father in the death of L. Tom Perry.  I wonder if he knew how loved he was?  The missionaries here are very sad to hear of his passing.

We can take comfort in our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation.  That plan has also been called the Plan of Happiness.  Sister Barnard and Elder Perry have transitioned into a new phase of that plan.  They completed what the Lord needed to have them do on this earth.  Now their spirits continue in the next life as they strive to bring souls unto Christ.

We do not always understand.  But whether we understand or not, we must remember that it is the Lord who is in charge.  He is perfect, and with that perfect understanding, He can help us become the best we can be.

We continue to pray for Sister Beckstrom, both families, and the truck driver.  We pray they will have peace and comfort in this difficult trial.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day- May 25, 2015

I am so grateful to those who sacrificed so that I could have the freedoms I enjoy.   My parents always made certain that we understood that.  I won't be there to put flowers on the graves of my parents and Dad Dixon, but I am happy that Kaitlyn made the effort.

Boy, time sure flies here!  I can't believe we are at transfer time already.  It is such a time of change.  We see new missionaries, scared, excited and tired.  We see the missionaries who are leaving, scared, excited and seasoned.  Many work to the very last minute.  It is hard to let go of the wonderful missionaries who have made such a difference.  Many, many people have had their lives changed by the testimonies of these young missionaries.  I am proud to work with them.

We are working hard.  There is always something to be done.  We don't really have a preparation day any more.  During the week, we are in the office.  On weekends, we are often doing things with, and for, the Branch.  Don't feel bad for us, though.  There are so many others who work this hard, including the young missionaries.  We don't have their energy, though!

We attended several baptisms this weekend.  One, in particular, touched my heart.  It was a young woman about age 20.  Her family came in force to support her.  They were so great about supporting her in something that made her happy.  They were also impressed and pleased to know of the network of support she would have in the Church.

It reminded me of my parents.  They were like that when my siblings and I joined the Church.  I am grateful for my parents.

Our mission is about to enter the I-Pad world of missionary work.  It is exciting, but somewhat scary.  There are so many wonderful things that can be done by using the I-Pad, but there are also many, many things that can detract and even derail good missionaries.  They have received great counsel about being full-purpose missionaries and avoiding those things that could be harmful.  I plan on calling our neighbors, the Wrights, if we run into issues.  They worked on the I-Pad roll-out in New York.

We have spent quite a bit of time moving missionaries to new apartments.  Closing out apartments is not my favorite thing.  Many of them have fallen into disrepair.  The young missionaries don't always understand the importance of reporting things that need to be fixed, so the problems grow.  By the time we move out, some of them are in bad shape.  I am trying to find a way to encourage the missionaries to have the desire to keep their apartments in the best possible shape.

Just a couple of oddities that we have seen in our journeys.  We have noticed that a number of people dangle items from the trailer hitch on their vehicles.  This one is an angry bird.

Can't decide if they spelled it this way on purpose. . . .

Sunday, May 17, 2015

This is the house that Jack built- May 17, 2015

Remember the children's story about the house that Jack built?  I remember the illustrations being very strange.  The house was always built with weird angles and leaned.

That is a little how it seems working in housing in a mission.  We do our best to have clean and safe places for the missionaries to live, but we don't have nice furniture.  So, I have been pleasantly surprised with the furniture we have been able to have in our house.

We will start a tour with the livingroom.  This is almost exactly the furniture we had in the other apartment.  With a cover for the wingback chair, it turned out well.

We switched out the table for one with a leaf,   The chairs are interesting, but they will work.


This is part of the kitchen.  I was baking some cookies that Sister Jessen left in the freezer.  They didn't turn out too well.  That is pretty bad, when I can't bake frozen cookie dough

This picture is of the exercise machines off of the kitchen, next to the garage.  They have a great view of the backyard.

This is the master bedroom.  None of the furniture matches, but it is comfortable.
This is the "bonus" room off of the master bedroom.  It serves as a second office for those times we can't sleep.
These are the extra bedrooms.  Sometimes, when there are a lot of missionaries going out or coming in, these serve as the space for some of the missionaries.

This is where we do most of the  home-office work.  It is also the gathering place at the end of a hard day.  We get the chance to pause and give thanks to our Heavenly Father, and share stories of the day with the Assistants.  They hold their own very well with Elder Dixon's dry wit.

Okay, I admit that I am ocd.  The patio furniture gets algae on it from the moisture here.  I couldn't stand not having it usable, so I scrubbed it down on Saturday.  It turned out well, but I anticipate it will not stay that way.

Now, admittedly, the missionaries don't generally live quite this well.  It is one of the perks of being a Senior Missionary.

I worked really hard to get furniture for a new location in Washington, Georgia.  We sent a u-haul with furniture and packed boxes for them.  I hope that it all comes together well for them.

One thing I have noticed is that not every missionary apartment has a nice, framed picture of Jesus.  We don't have Deseret Industries here, so Goodwill here I come!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 12, 2015 Good, better, best

Happy belated Mother's Day!  It was great to hear from my children and my missionary children.  I received three special cards this year:  one from my mother-in-law, one from P1 and P2 and one from Elder Sousa.  I loved the fact that Elder Sousa drew one of him and his companion!

It is wonderful that, as a Senior Missionary, we are able to call our families and they can call us, throughout the year.  But the regular missionaries can only talk to family twice a year.  It is so important to them to be able to make those calls.  We were happy to be able to have Elder Sousa and Elder Higginbotham Skype from our home.  It was great to see Elder Sousa's family.  I can't express enough appreciation for the missionaries and their families.  They are making a difference in a world that might otherwise be lost.

This new assignment will be a test of my ability to discern good, better and best.  There are so many good things I can do, so many I need to do.  Setting priorities will be critical.

Last week was packed full.  We are making progress on things.  It is amazing the things that are needed in setting up a new apartment for a Senior Couple and in moving ourselves at the same time.  We even had to figure out what spices we could send them!

We have begun to get our own home in order.  Elder Sousa was here and said that it felt different.  I said, "I know, I am sorry" (because I knew how much he loved the Jessens.  He said "It feels like your apartment, only bigger."  And that was before he saw that we had our furniture from the apartment!

It is beginning to feel like home.  For a while, I really missed the apartment.  Life was so much simpler there.   This is much larger.

I do love having the Assistants here, though.  I wasn't sure how it would feel to share this house with them.  It is great.  They come home at night and we share experiences and then end our day with prayer.  What a wonderful blessing!

The Branch had a terrific activity on Saturday.  Almost a year ago, one of our Brazilian members married a raised-in-the-south man.  At their reception, I started talking to his family about having a cook-off with them doing Southern Barbecue and the Brazilians doing churrasco (Brazilian barbecue).  It took a long time to put it together, and a few miracles to pay for it, but it was a wonderful event.  Our judge wouldn't judge, so we declared it a lot of fun.

 I gave the Golden Tongs to the Southerners with an invitation to do it again.  It was just a wonderful event of fellowship and fun.  I think we had between 25 and 45 (we didn't count and are estimating) people who were not members of our church there.

 A little shout-out to Titan, who just had his tonsils out.  Love you, little man!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Nailed it- May 3, 2015

This week is best classified as a week of awkward moments.  Remember those awkward moments when you start learning a new assignment?  Those times when you ask the same questions several times and can't find things you were just shown?  That best describes the week.

There is a fun thing that I have seen on the internet called "Nailed it".  They show the original picture of something, and then the picture where someone tried to replicate it.  Here are some examples:
Lamb cake

Those make me laugh!  It is great to see someone who can laugh at themselves and at things that don't go well.  So, this is my attempt at "Nailed it!"

We started in the office. Sister Jessen has things so well organized and knows exactly what to do and when.  So, I had to go get some helmets from the shed.  I had no problems opening the door to get them out, but when I went to put one back, I could not get the key to work.  Two missionaries came to help me.  One suggested that perhaps I had the wrong key (I had been insisting that I had the right key).  Sure enough, I tried a different key and opened it with no problem.  I turned to the missionaries and said "See what you are in for?"  Nailed it.

One of the days, we had to travel to Athens (about an hour drive) to help with a Zone Conference.  Part of Zone Conferences is that the office personnel check the vehicles.  When completed, Elder Dixon gathered the keys into his briefcase to put them on a table and the missionaries were told to pick up keys.  We left the conference and returned to the office.  We then received from a set of missionaries who did not have a set of keys there.  He checked his briefcase and found them in the bottom.  Back to Athens to deliver keys. . . .  Nailed it!

On Saturday, we were to attend a Public Affairs training at 8:30 in the morning.  We drove to the building listed in the e-mail (about 17 miles away) and found no one there.  We texted to find out where it was.  So, we went to the Clear Springs Branch (and found out that the other ward had changed the date for which ward would clean.  We cleaned anyway).  We finally received a response about the meeting and had to drive back to Tucker (about 3 miles from our home).  We didn't get there until 11:00 a.m. and it ended at 2:30 p.m.  Nailed it!

Then two of our missionaries couldn't find their driver's license and so they needed me to drive them to an appointment in Spanish.  Nailed it!

So, we have begun moving food into our new home.  How could it be that we move from a two bedroom apartment to a four bedroom home and things are not fitting?  Nailed it!  Tried to attach pictures for you to see, but it won't work.  Nailed it!

So, I am trying hard to be efficient and get our apartment closed and everything moved, while also trying to find an apartment for sisters, moving some missionaries and setting up a house for a new senior couple.  Nailed it!

So, it is crazy busy and chaotic right now.

I don't want to forget the great things.  The Jessens were wonderful and did everything possible to make it easier for us.  They even moved out of the master bedroom so that we could move in.

We were able to have dinner with four wonderful sister missionaries on Wednesday.  Sandy, we served your brisket.  Elder Jessen said it was perhaps the best meat he had ever had.  It was delightful.  The sisters accidentally took my phone.  Easy mistake, every phone looks the same.

We also had a great visit with Tyler Winegar who lives in the same city we just moved to.  He came into the office to look us up.  We look forward to having dinner for him as soon as we settle in.

We saw a fox in the neighborhood.

Today, one of the sweet sisters in the Branch made a delicious corn cake for us.  We had to wait to eat it until after fasting.  It was wonderful and we appreciated it so much.

Love ending the days on a spiritual high talking to the Assistants.  It is so fun to see how they can hold their own with Elder Dixon and his wry sense of humor!