Sunday, October 25, 2015

The value of our young women October 15, 2015

IMG_3194.JPGI probably sound like a broken record as I extol the virtues of the Sister Missionaries and of the Young Women in the Branch.  Serving with them is a real privilege.  Elder Dixon and I were bemoaning the fact that at the next transfer we will be losing our temporary set of Sister Missionaries.  They have been wonderful.  I have been so proud of each of them.  Neither came in the usual way.  We were privileged to have Sister Oliveira with us for two transfers from Temple Square.  We have also been privileged to  have one of our own Branch members step forward to be her companion for that time.  They have been a great addition to the Branch.

So, not only have I served with those two great young women, I also get to work in the Young Women for the Branch.  I LOVE those young women.  They are so bright and wonderful.  We have fantastic discussions in which I learn from them.  Today, I was teaching about patience.  Their insights and comments were terrific.  I showed them some quotes on patience and this one became a favorite for all of us:

 "When the veil which now encloses us is no more, time will also be no more. Even now, time is clearly not our natural dimension. Thus it is that we are never really at home in time. Alternately, we find ourselves impatiently wishing to hasten the passage of time or to hold back the dawn. We can do neither of course. Whereas the bird is at home in the sky, we are clearly not at home in time - because we belong to eternity! Time, as much as any one thing, whispers to us that we are strangers here. If time were natural to us, why is it that we have so many clocks and wristwatches?" ---Neil A. Maxwell.

Wow!  It has taken me years to understand these deep quotes from Neil A. Maxwell, and they understood it immediately.  There is tremendous power in these young women.

I had the privilege to share one of life' greatest moments this week.  Bala and Srvanthi brought a beautiful little girl into the world.  They invited me to be there in the hospital after she was born because her mother had a C-section.  That little girl was so aware and so darling.  I am grateful I could be part of it.

On Saturday, we were going to attend some baptisms in Gainesville, so we took a little time and went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville to see the Lego sculptures.  They were amazing.  I can't bring my grandchildren to the sculptures, but I can bring the pictures to my grandchildren.  Enjoy!

The baptisms were so great.  I hope that when I return from my mission, I will always attend baptisms.  I used to think that it was a private, family thing and I didn't attend.  Now I realize that I was not welcoming those people into the ward.  

Have a happy, but safe, Halloween.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kirkpatricks October 18, 2015

Saturday, we took some time to attend the Scottish Highland Games at Stone Mountain.  It was quite fun.   There were many, many people dressed in kilts or ancient-types of dress.  I had to laugh when I saw these kilts, made of camouflage.  I commented to one of the attendees (who was wearing a kilt) that perhaps it was just me, but that seemed a bit strange.  He laughed and said, no, it was not just me.

I found it especially interesting that there were tents for each of the clans.  The clans posted their names in large letters and were manned by people who knew the history of the clan.  I didn't expect to find anything because I could not think of anyone in our genealogy with a Scottish name.  I found that Kirkpatrick is actually one of the clan septs. (like a subset).  The clan spokesperson told me that our clan crest is a bloody dagger because when Sir Robert Bruce was once ambushed and used his dagger to escape, he returned to the safety of the Kirkpatrick clan and they asked if the man was dead.  "I think so" he replied.  The Kirkpatricks then responded "We make sure" and went back to be certain he was dead.  That, my friends, explains a great deal about us.  From stories about my boxing grandmother, "the fighting Grimms" (my father and his brothers) to my own personality traits, I see where we live by that motto.

The other thing that I found to be hilarious is that my brother, Tom, hates bagpipes, yet the two clans I could find were the names of his children's spouses.  Maybe he needs to take a trip to Scotland!

There were some very interesting events. One event was called caber tossing.  The competitor lifts something that looks like a telephone pole on the very end.  It has to be lifted straight up, then tossed.  In order to be a countable toss, the pole must land at a 90 degree angle before falling.  Pretty amazing!

We ate haggis.  Can't say that I liked it, though.  There was a great man who explained how to make haggis.  Technically, we do not have real haggis in the United States because our Food and Drug will not allow the use of the sheep lungs.  It was an entertaining explanation and I was designated as the one to hold the intestines (make of fabric)!  All in all, it was fun and informative.

We also had some other wonderful things this week, but I will have to save those for another chance to write.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Growing pains October 11, 2015

Ever since Elder Dixon and I began working with the Branch, we have had a goal (and have prayed) that before we leave their membership would be up to 120.  President Tedjamulia said today that the Branch had reached 107 members, then lost 8 families very quickly.  That was about the time that we arrived.  President Tedjamulia had lost a large number of his leaders.  Elder Dixon was called into the Branch Presidency as the Second Counselor and to do Public Relations.  I was called to teach in Primary, to help with the upcoming activities, was Secretary of the Relief Society and acting President of the Young Women for a time.

But, our dreams began to come true.  First one strong family came, then another. . . .  There finally came a time that my callings were needed for other people who had joined us.  So today, Elder Dixon was released as Second Counselor.  We will still be working with the Branch until we are thrown out or complete our mission.  It was bitter/sweet.  We love President Tedjamulia and Brother Nogueira.  We will miss the close association, but we are certain that the Branch is ready for this member of the Branch to take over.  Elder Dixon indicated that when he began in his calling there were about 50 people who attended church each week.  Today, we counted about 85 (and some of the faithful members were not there).

It was a little hard to look forward a few months and see that the release would be as missionaries and not in callings.  Several people thought Elder Dixon's release meant that we were leaving.  No, they are stuck with us for 7 more months.  I really love these people.  They have taught me so much.

I was thinking today about a sweet friend I had many years ago who worked hard to teach me to give hugs.  My children have laughed over the years at my hugs (or lack thereof).  Now, I find myself hugging almost every Sister I meet.  Sometimes, there is even a hug for a departing Elder.  This Branch is full of wonderful, kind people.

I love the young missionaries who are serving in the Branch.  It has been awesome to have some sisters.  They are both here in unusual ways, one a temporary mission to her home ward and the other a "loaned" missionary from Temple Square, yet, they have been amazing.

After the crazy week two weeks ago, Elder Dixon and I decided to take a little time for getting to know Stone Mountain.  We wanted to see the plantation that they have there, and stumbled across their Pumpkin Festival.  Here are a few of the pictures.

This is the main house.  There was also a Doctor's house, the overseer's house, the office, the school, and slave quarters.  It was fun to see.

This is a magnolia seed.  The seed pods are about the size of my fist.  The tree from which they came was huge.  

I had a moment of sadness as I saw this garden of Dahlias.  Mom, yours were prettier!

We were also able to attend the celebration for Richard's second year of the gift of life.  He had cancer and was able to beat it after a stem-cell transplant.  It was wonderful to be there with so many friends celebrating this journey and success.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I am a Christian October 4, 2015

I have so much for which to be grateful.  This conference has been wonderfully spiritually nourishing for me.  I was tired, discouraged and lacked the confidence that I could fulfill my assignments.  So, this weekend, I had the opportunity to be filled, to be inspired, to be counseled.  I had new insights, new hope, new energy (although I did take a couple of naps!).

If only the world understood what we have.  We have hope.  We have a promise of an eternal plan that is beyond what we can understand now.  We have a divine design created by our Heavenly Father and his son.  These things are reasons that we should have joy!

All of the new missionaries are now in their apartments.  It was a rush, and some of them do not have all of the furniture and other things that would complete their housing.  I am so grateful for the help from the Lord.  There was one location we had opened and the lease was one that we cannot buy out.  The Stake and Ward felt that they did not have the ability to support more missionaries in their Ward.  The decision was made to never move missionaries into that apartment.  I was very sad.  Then I remembered that the complex had a policy where we could terminate a lease for any reason within the first 30 days.  Fortunately, we have done so.  I will be closing that apartment, but at least it will not continue to cost.

I also had help in finding a beautiful little home for Sisters in a new area.  The Branch President had been looking and thought he had found something for us, but it all fell through.  I prayed for help, then searched the same source one last time.  There was a nice little family home in a good location.  The Branch President was thrilled.  It turns out that the man who rented to us had been trying to sell it but had not been successful.  He had others who wanted to rent it, but agreed to rent to us.  They are a wonderful family and the feeling in the home is special.

We also had the farewell for the outgoing missionaries.  I don't think we appreciate the sacrifices that these young people have made to serve.  One young Sister will be returning to a small island.  Her travel itinerary would require that she travel for several days.  When she received her call, she was supposed to report the following day and had to run after the person who delivered the letter to have him read it to her because she neither spoke, nor read, English.  Because the call took so long to arrive, she missed a months of the language training she would have received.  She was promised that at the end of her mission she would be able to read the entire thing.  She speaks fluent English and testified in the fireside that she was able to read and understand every word.

The farewell fireside was really powerful.  These young people glow brightly with the testimony of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation.