Sunday, July 26, 2015

Worthwhile effort- July 26, 2015

The other night I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about things I needed to get done.  I had a lesson to prepare for primary, a lesson for Young Women, I needed to get the decorations ready for our New Beginnings, we had to clean out an apartment we are no longer renting, we had Zone Conference for three days where I was presenting and we needed to clean out the storage sheds.  As I was pondering, I remembered that I had not gotten furniture for two Elders who had moved into a
new apartment.  Fortunately, they are very forgiving!

At the end of the storage shed project, the missionaries were apparently feeling a little like Ninjas.  I am so grateful for their help.

This Zone Conference we introduced the concept of the apartment journal.  I can feel the spirit when I testify to the missionaries about keeping their apartments up so that the spirit can reside.  I hope that we are able to raise our attitudes and our sights to a higher kind of living.

Bugs continue to plague us.  I am constantly amazed at the varieties and numbers of the bugs here.  I tell the missionaries that the bugs lived up to the commandments given to them, so when they were required to leave the Garden of Eden to afflict and torment man, the bugs were allowed to choose where to live.  Where did they choose?  Atlanta!

At last transfer, Elder Castro and Elder Cruz were given the opportunity to improve their English by having English companions.  That meant that the Branch received two new missionaries.  Elder Mattos is Brazilian, but his companion doesn't speak any Portuguese.  His companion is completing his mission next transfer, but has the assignment to be a great missionary AND to help Elder Mattos get a driver's license.

We also had a New Beginnings program today.  Our theme was "Oh ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye do so with all your heart, might, mind and strength."  As I understand it, the Branch hasn't had the New Beginnings program before.  It was fun to be able to have such a great theme to use.  We had food on plates in the sea (blue waves), boats carrying food and napkins, a lighthouse, goldfish cookies and crackers, brownies, fruit, donuts, cookies,Swedish fish and even a bowl with real knots on the outside (thanks to the scouting skills of Elder Dixon!

We also honored our outgoing Laurel who has completed her Personal Progress program.  She will be leaving to attend Webster University in musical theater.  I am so happy she was able to get her Personal Progress done.  We will only have one Laurel, and one MiaMaid, but we will have FOUR Beehives!  Yeah!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cicadas and grandpas- July 19, 2015

For the first time since living here, I saw a live cicada.  They are very much a part of the sounds in Georgia, but I had never seen one.

So, do you think they sell grandpas or cater to them?
Just wondering.

Apartment journals- July 19

In missions, the missionaries have the same need to show that they had passed through that the pioneers had with Independence Rock.  They want to leave their names behind as showing that they had been there.  As a result, there is a lot of furniture that gets signed.  We felt that was not the best thing for a missionary apartment, so we are getting rid of those signatures.  Instead, we have a small journal like Parley P. Pratt might have carried.  There, they can leave not only their names, but some message that they would like future missionaries, or even future family, to see and read.  Inside the front cover, are these words taken from Jacob 4:2 in the Book of Mormon:
But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers—
We are already seeing a change in the way the missionaries view their apartments.  Not everyone will get it, but we hope it will leave a lasting legacy of faith and testimony.
 Thought you might enjoy this picture of the trees by our mission office.  The driveway is lined with these trees and they have been really lovely.  I never thought I would say that the refuse in a gutter is beautiful, but when these petals drop into the gutter, it is pretty.

Today our lesson in Young Women was on the covenants we make at baptism, specifically taking the name of Christ upon us.  We talked about the importance of names.  We talked of their own names and the history of those names.  I shared a story with them that has great meaning to me.  When my wonderful grandson was born,  his parents chose a first name that didn't have any family link, then gave him the middle name Newell and his last name which both came from his father's side..  I admit that I was very hurt because we had been so involved and tried to be helpful to our daughter during her pregnancy.  Our adorable first grandson did not carry anything in his name from our family.  Over the years, I would periodically think about his middle name and feel sad.  Since coming here to the mission office, we live with the Assistants.  I have grown to love these young Assistants so much.  They have become like family.  We share our day and end with prayer whenever we can.  One of these terrific young men (Elder McArthur on the right) has the middle name of Newell.  I am so proud and happy that my young grandson can share the name of someone who has been such a great missionary and friend.  Whoever would have expected this kind of story when they chose his name!

Our days are full of new challenges.  My latest?  The post office has begun to return mail to us as undeliverable when the addresses are ones we have used for months, even years.  Every day is an adventure!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary to us! July 12, 2015

Although it has been really busy here, we decided to take some time to celebrate 32 years of marriage.  We went to Medieval Times for dinner.  It was reminiscent of an earlier trip we took many years ago in California.

I am grateful to have found a companion who fits me so well.  There are a few things we each like that the other does not, sometimes we annoy each other, but we are committed to each other and to this crazy life we lead.  We do our best to strengthen each other, support each other, build each other and give to each other.  We took a picture in front of the doors of the Medieval Times, but we both looked bad, so forget the picture!

Last week was a significant week for transfers.  We had 13 missionaries go home, and many of the Elders were leaders in the mission.  The farewell fireside was packed with these powerful young men and a beautiful young sister who was also a leader.  One of them was our first District Leader, another our first Zone Leader, another was the Assistant before we came to the office, and another was our Assistant who lived in the house with us.  These young men and woman have left a permanent mark in our lives.

 I watched as they have nourished other missionaries, helped them and guided them.  Because of some of these missionaries, our Brazilian missionaries are doing great.

One of my favorite books is "The Little Prince".  In the book, he learns to tame a fox by being consistent.  When the Little Prince then has to leave, the fox is sad.  The Little Prince is confused because he does not understand why the fox would want the Little Prince to tame him if it was going to make him sad.  The fox explains:

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields."  (Note:  the fox explained that the Little Prince's hair reminded him of a field of wheat, and before wheat meant nothing to a fox, but now it meant something). . . .
And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that  one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

It is so true.  I may go watch a rodeo when I get home.  I will probably go to a basketball game.  I will laugh every time we have an avocado shake.  What is invisible to others, means a great deal to me.

We got to go to lunch with Elder McArthur's parents.  They were delightful, and great sports.  We went to a restaurant we had not been to before, and there was nothing in the normal range on the menu.  They both tried some of the Southern-style food.  Mostly, it was great to be able to tell parents first-hand about how wonderful their missionary is.  Thanks to all of you parents.  These young missionaries are making a difference.These are only a few of them.  I will always be grateful that I had the chance to learn and grow with them.  These are terrific people.  Their families should be proud.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy American Independence Day! July 5, 2015

Sorry, I don't have any pictures of fireworks.  We saw a few, but we didn't try to go to the spots they were set off.  We are thrilled that our family was able to get together and again enjoy the tradition  of attending the fireworks at the Eaglewood Golf Course.  It brought back a lot of memories to think about the first years of the celebration there.  Tremendous thanks to all of those who have brought so much enjoyment to so many for so many years.

We had a barbecue at President Bennion's home for the Senior couples.  It is so nice to have all of them together.  There is an amazing amount of life experience in one room!  I am proud to serve with them.  There was one funny thing, though.  I had called each person and each committed to bring a food item.  When we all came together, almost everyone brought at least two.  We had WAY too much food.  Just goes to show how they are all willing to go the extra mile.

IMG_0029.JPGWe did a small thing for one of the amazing couples in the branch.  We could no longer use our bedding set because we no longer have a queen-size bed.  I asked if anyone in the branch might like it.  This couple had just come from Brazil a short time ago and is getting settled in.
 They gratefully accepted it.  I felt more than repaid just from their kind response.  I was so surprised, then, when Sister Sousa brought a gift for me.  It is a lovely counted cross-stitch with our name on a towel.  The quality is outstanding.  Just one more example of the kindness I have experienced.

This week will be a difficult one.  Our sweet Elder Flake is going home.  He has been such a wonderful young missionary and we have loved being around him.  He has lived under this roof with us for the past few weeks.  He has made us laugh, shared our cereal, tried avocado milkshakes (not a fan), inspired us and showed us how wonderful it can be to have "brothers" in our home.  He and Elder McArthur have become like sons to us.  I don't do well with transfers and these missionaries going home anyway, so this one will be a bear.  I will get a picture of our two "sons" before Elder Flake goes.

Today in fast and testimony meeting, one of our beautiful sisters really touched my heart.  She had a son die unexpectedly and is very sorrowful, but not bitter.  She does wonder why the Lord would have taken him when she needed him here.  One of my dearest friends lost her husband way too soon and asked the same question.  Today, I understood a little bit better what they have felt.  I know that Elder Flake has faithfully completed what he was supposed to do here, and is moving on to the next stage of his life.  It is hard to have him leave.  He is such a good missionary, we tend to want him to stay here, to continue what he has been doing.  But he is ready to move on.  He has learned what he needed to, completed what he needed to, and the rest of us just treasure the time and the memories.  I hope to see him again after we have completed our mission.

That same sister came to church in jean shorts and a tee shirt.  I teased her a bit, and her response was humbling to me.  She could not get away from her employment in time to change.  She thought of skipping church, but decided that she needed to come.  So she did come, bore her testimony and we were all fed spiritually because of it.  I don't know that I would have had her courage or commitment.

Today our little branch was blessed as new families joined us.  It is beginning to get stronger as these choice people come.  I look forward to the future, to see it grow as those families bring others.