Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Our last transfer May 3-5, 2016

Twenty-three months has now passed.
Our replacement Senior Missionaries were called and were angels about moving their timing up in order to be there before we had to leave.  We had promised our daughter that we would be home by May 15 so that she could take a vacation with friends.  We had a very important little grandson waiting for us to come home.

So, we were part of this farewell fireside.  As a result, not all of the pictures are the best and somehow we missed at least Elder Castro.  It was hard to speak with so many great missionaries.  We had the privilege of sharing the house with many of them.  We love the missionaries.

 There were fond farewells and 'til we meet again.  This picture is of the last set of Assistants we had in the house with us.  We had wonderful times with Elder Cottle, and enjoyed Elder Ward for the short time he was there.  Elder Cottle will be home at the next transfer.

Ask any of the Assistants and they will tell you that the award for the best ward missionary would go to Chandler.  He loves the missionaries and the missionary work.  He would go tomorrow if he was not still in High School.  

And, of course, the Branch put on a wonderful feast to send us off.  The Branch has forever changed both of us.  We are better for the time we had to learn and grow there.  We really love them.  I find myself thinking about things we did there quite often.  

I didn't get a picture with President and Sister Bennion, but I love them.  They did a great deal for both Elder Dixon and me.  They encouraged us to be our best in everything we were asked to do.  I hope the missionaries realize how much that President and Sister Bennion care for them and pray for them.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

To all the wonderful women in my life- Happy Mother's Day! May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!  It is a great time to reflect on the wonderful women in our lives. 

I want to take a little time to thank my mother.  She loved deeply.  She wanted us to soar and sacrificed her own happiness to make it happen.  She worked long, hard hours to see that our needs were met.  She gave back.  She loved our country.  She valued family.  She loved my father and supported him.

I want to thank my beautiful daughters and daughters-by-marriage.  All four of them have loved my grandchildren.  Those who are able to live close to each other, have looked out for each other and for all of the grandchildren.

I don't have pictures here on the mission of my sister.  I want to thank her for looking out for me.  She has always been a support, and while I have been here on the mission, she has written me, sent packages and cards and, I know, prayed for me. 

I want to thank my wonderful mother-in-law.  She loves her children deeply.  She had to raise them alone and raised some awfully great kids.

I want to thank my sisters-in law.  They have been wonderful friends, supportive and kind.  Oh, and Nancy, sorry about the awful bed you slept on at our house here.  We just slept on it!

I want to thank those who work in the mission to make the lives of the missionaries better. 

 Thanks to our Branch "mother".  What a support she is!  Even though she did not speak Portuguese, she didn't let that slow her down and does everything possible to strengthen the Branch.
I started to add pictures of other great mothers from the Branch and mission, but there are too many.  So hopefully, it is enough to say my life has been forever blessed because of the wonderful women in my life.  Thank you.  I love you.

Is this like pre-earth life? May 8, 2016

This week we helped with the last transfer we will be assisting with.  Friday evening we loaded up the things we will be taking back to Utah and moved out of the house where we have lived for the last year.  We spoke at the Farewell Fireside with a fabulous group of returning missionaries. (pictures will have to wait until we return home).  We took Elder Sousa and Elder Castro to the airport to return to Brazil.  They both made it home safely.

On Saturday, we were exhausted and just stayed at Richard's house and slept a lot.  Today, we will attend the Branch for the last time as missionaries.  Tomorrow, we finish the training for our replacements and begin the LONG drive home.

It is a strange feeling.  In a few days, we will be living nearly 2,000 miles from here.  I imagine this feeling is something like we felt before we came to earth.  The pre-earth life was wonderful.  When it was time to come to the earth, I am certain it was hard to leave.  We would have been excited to come here and begin our families, to learn and to receive a body.  Still, now that we are on earth, there are times I feel a homesickness that I can only feel comes from having left that pre-earth life.  What sustains us is the knowledge that someday we will have both of those worlds together.  The world where our Father in Heaven lives, combined with the world in which we now live.

So, I comfort myself with the thought that these good-byes are only for now. 

I still don't like good-byes.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stake Conference May 1, 2016

Over the years, I have noticed with interest that people see Stake Conference as a time to get away.  I can certainly understand that feeling.  Life is so busy.  Stake Conference seems to free us from our Sunday responsibilities.  Many people use the time to visit friends or family.

For me personally, Stake Conference offers spiritual rest and nourishment.  I get to rest from my Sunday responsibilities, but I also get to be fed with wonderful talks.  I have always especially liked the Saturday night session of Stake Conference.  Often the speakers are people from the Stake who have had profound experiences in their lives.  This conference was like that.  The speakers had wonderful messages.

I was especially touched by the conversion story of a young woman.  She talked of her teenage years when she met a Mormon boy.  He eventually went on a mission and she found herself feeling very lonely and looking for something that was missing in her life.  She began taking discussions from the missionaries are found the joy that was missing.  She was honest about how her decision was not well-received by her family who were devout Baptists.  The pain of their rejection was very apparent, but she talked of how her testimony has seen her through.  It was a powerful message.

Today, I was struck by the message from President Rupp.  He spoke to those under the age of 34 regarding the impact of the internet.  He had the statistics (which I did not write down), but when the world-wide web began with the agreement to share information, the content would fit on something the size of an IPad.  Today, it would require nearly a mile and will soon be two miles.  The problem is that 70% of the information on the web is a person's opinion.  It does not get fact-checked, nor does there have to be any validation for it to be on the internet.  His message was clear and powerful.  We CANNOT rely on the internet to validate our testimony.  The only way to be certain of the truth of the gospel is through prayer in faith.

I have seen that personally.  One of the people our missionaries was teaching had a son who had gotten information on the internet which challenged the validity of the Bible.  I did some fact-checking from church sources and found that the internet information he quoted had been debunked.  Sadly, the information he was relying on is not required to carry a banner saying "This information has been confirmed as incorrect and misleading."  I wish it was required.

Two years ago today May 1, 2016

Two years ago today I posted that we had received our mission call to the Georgia Atlanta North Mission and were to report to the MTC on June 9.  I remember the mad scramble we made to be ready.  We had five weeks and in that time we had to finish the projects we had started on the house.  We had to finish painting the garage and reassembling it, as well as remodeling two bathrooms.  Our son moved into our home with his family while we were gone.  When he was asked to speak in Church, he told them that we were hanging doors the day before we left.  That was basically true.

Our farewell celebration in our home was on folding chairs because our furniture was moved out.  Chris Thornley and our kids put the food together.  We had no idea then what an adventure we would have!  Our call changed from Member Leader Support English-speaking to Member Leader Support, Portuguese-speaking and then to Office missionary.

I remember wondering at the time why the Lord would call us to serve mere days before the Mission President would be released and the new Mission President would begin his service.  That one little thing has proven to be a huge blessing in our lives.

Our MTC friends, Elder and Sister Allgaier will be going home this month also.  He has been the physician for several states/missions.  They are wonderful people and have served joyfully.  I love them!


We have loved working in the Clear Springs Branch.  I have learned so many things from them.  I love their parties, their food, their kindness, their missionary-mindedness and their support of each other.  I have felt heartache as some have left us.  When someone leaves, it is like losing a member of my family.  Our Branch has nearly doubled in size since we have been here.  It has nothing to do with us, but shows what prayer and faith can do.  So many people's lives are blessed in this Branch.  This is our sweet Branch Mission Leader.  His tender testimony has moved me many times.  He loves the gospel and is making a difference!

Yes, I finally had someone cut my hair!

Today I said goodbye to Elder Lima.  He will be transferred this week in order to allow two new Brazilian missionaries to be able to grow in the Branch.  He bore his testimony today at a baptism for one of the children.  He was strong and confident.  It was such a change from the hesitant young man I first met here.  He has served humbly and well.  I will miss him.

This week will be one of many goodbyes.  I hate goodbyes.  I would much rather go away quietly without fanfare.  This week Elder Sousa and Elder Castro return to Brazil.  I will miss them also.

Our replacements will be here sometime this week.  Hopefully they will make it in time to see some of the things that occur in transfer week.

We are packing and trying not to leave any junk behind.  After all, that has been what I have tried to teach the missionaries since coming to the office.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Thanks, Papa April 25, 2016

On Saturday night, Will Thornley lost his battle with brain cancer.  I can't begin to express the sense of loss that we feel in our family.  Papa was a wonderful grandfather to Titan.  They played cars, watched movies, flew planes, and were close friends.

When Elder Dixon and I were planning on a mission, we made a pact with Will and Chris that we would watch out for Titan while they were on a mission and they would do the same while we served.  Will and Chris lived true to that promise for us. They helped prepare food for family and friends who came to the house after our farewell talk.  While we have been gone, they watched out both for Titan and for our daughter.  They took care of things we could not.  They continued to watch over Titan even when Will's health had deteriorated.

Even though my daughter and their son divorced, they continued to love her as part of the family.

I had so hoped to be able to make it back from our mission to be able to thank Will and Chris.  He just couldn't hold on that long.

Thanks, Will and Chris.  You have made our lives better.  We will miss you, Will, but we will not forget you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The counsel of a Prophet April 17, 2016

This week I have been thinking a lot about the counsel that we hear from our leaders.  I fear that for some of us, unless we can see the immediate confirmation of the truth taught, we ignore or discount the counsel.  We want to see the Lord's plan NOW.  If the Lord was to do that, there would be no need for faith.  We fought in heaven for the chance to have free agency.  It would cease to exist in a world where we did not have to struggle.

I remember a book I read years ago called Hinds Feet on High Places.  At one point in the tale, the main character is to take a journey.  For companions, the character is given Sorrow and Pain (I believe).  The character is confused.  How could it be fair to assign them as the companions.  What is learned is that it is through Sorrow and Pain that the heart is carved out to have room for joy and happiness.

I have been especially interested this week in the latest research that is coming out regarding pornography.  Those who have heeded the counsel of the prophet have long-accepted the destructive power of pornography.  But, in the world, there has always been a line drawn and protected with cries of "freedom of speech".  With that cry, the destruction of adult pornography has gone on basically unchecked.  Now, scientists are discovering that those who are addicted to pornography no longer have the ability to engage in natural sexual relationships.  They are no longer even attracted to natural sexual relationships.  The question before states and nations is whether pornography has now become a public health crisis.

We have long known.  It is more than a public health crisis.  It is a destructive force for our nation and the world.  It destroys the desire to form family units, it destroys men's feelings for women, it demeans women, itputs our children at grave risk and it destroys the values of our society.

Priceless treasures April 17, 2016

This week I received a priceless treasure.  Before our mission I bought scriptures that had larger print because I anticipated that my sight would get worse.  In that prediction I was correct.  The problem with the larger print is that I have not been able to find a good case in which to carry them.  Over time, my poor scriptures have gotten a little beaten up.

Here in the mission, many of the missionaries protect their scriptures with customized boxes they have created themselves.  Elder Cottle knew that I would like a box for my scriptures and he is very talented at making them.  He puts tremendous thought into it.  He used his preparation day time and other minutes he could squeeze out, to create this beautiful box for my scriptures.  I cannot begin to say how much it means to me.

These young missionaries are so wonderful.  Not only do I become the recipient of wonderful things from them, but so do hundreds of others.  Elder Cottle was working on a collage of pictures for a recent convert.  He has included in the collage the pictures from the baptism, but also included pictures of the Savior and the Temple.  It will also be a priceless gift.

Here are four great men in my life.  Elder Burrows and Elder Cottle have been serving as the Assistants during this transfer, but President Bennion decided he wanted the influence of the Assistants to be felt by many missionaries in this transfer.  So, he called Elder Paulson as an Assistant.  Elder Paulson (on the right) and Elder Burrows (on the left) are now traveling Assistants.  They travel to an area and then split up to work with the missionaries there.   Elder Cottle has been assigned to remain here in the office and attend to the reports, logistics and trouble solving for the missionaries.  In addition, he is also having daily exchanges with missionaries.  

It reminds me a lot of the Book of Mormon.  As Elder Burrows and Elder Paulson were leaving, I imagined what it must have been like when Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah were departing for their assignments.  In their case, they literally did not know if they would ever see one another again.  I imagine that as they were departing, they did the huddle/hug and then departed.  I imagine there was some degree of loss because they had been so close for so long.  So tonight, I look forward to their reunion for a day.  And I will smile an think about the sweet reunion between Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hats off to loving leaders! April 10, 2016

IMG_0473.JPGThis week, President and Sister Tedjamulia, opened their home to all of our Young Women for a sleep-over and temple trip. On Thursday evening, Sister Tedjamulia fixed an amazing taco bar while President Tedjamulia traveled many, many miles to pick up the girls.  They gave me time to be able to have the girls focus on a flag and cheer for their upcoming girls' camp.  That was incredibly kind because they had planned several activities for the girls.  When we finished the camp things, the Tedjamulias had other activities, dessert and more food.  The Tedjamulias are such a good example to me of charity and love.  They truly care about those girls.  I missed the mummy activity, but it certainly looks fun!
DSC03103.JPG On Friday, they all went to the Temple.  What a great way to end the activity.
The Senior Couple who will be replacing us has been called.  I had the opportunity to talk to them on the telephone this week.  What nice people!  I am so grateful to know that our mission family will be in good hands.
I have been reflecting on the Lord's hand in our lives.  I have had some tough times.  During those times, I didn't always handle it well.  I lost my perspective.  I lost hope.  I lost confidence.  And yet, when I look back on those times, I wonder if the trials were caused because I was not listening, because I was not ready for change, because I was comfortable and it was time for a change.  Do we cause our own difficulties because we resist the guidance that will help us become who we want to be?

Monday, April 4, 2016

What a conference! April 4, 2016

 There were so many wonderful and powerful messages from Conference.  I feel blessed to be part of this Church.  We have such a great opportunity to find the path to eternity when following their counsel.  I didn't have a favorite, but I definitely found messages that meant a lot in my own journey.

One of those messages was the support for fathers.  I have believed that is a critical part of our society, and that we are losing our perspective.  When I was growing up, there were sitcoms on television in which the father was a strong, wise, example to his children.  "Leave it to Beaver", "My Three Sons", "Father Knows Best" and even "Gidget" had fathers we could all look to.  They were loving, kind, and taught their children.  They were involved with their children.

Now, fathers are portrayed on television as mean, calculating, clueless, and stupid.  Fathers are mocked and made fun of.  They are demeaned and even scorned.  Over and over they are portrayed as unloving and uninvolved in the lives of their children.

That has bothered me for years.  I have tremendous respect for the fathers in my life.  While they may not be perfect, they are trying.  They love their children and sacrifice for them.  I believe most fathers are like that.  So, to hear Elder Christofferson say those things from the pulpit was wonderful.  I hope that people will turn off productions that demean parenthood.  I hope they will value their parents.  I hope people who produce programs will see the value in portraying families that are functional and are real.  Then, maybe instead of our youth believing that their fathers have no value, they will see their eternal value.

So I want to thank my Dad.  I want to thank him for loving my mother.  I want to thank him for overcoming a tough upbringing.  I want to thank him for being willing to leave his beloved Iowa in order to have his children have opportunities.  I want to thank him for being creative.  I want to thank him for all of the games he allowed me to join.  I want to thank him for helping me feel safe as I grew up.

I want to thank my husband.  He has been my partner, my support, my friend.  He was willing to sacrifice for our children.  He coached teams, helped with homework, made meals, gave blessings, set an example and tied lots of knots!  Because of his courage in trying things, we all tried new foods, and learned new skills.  He has been a wonderful example to us in being faithful in Church attendance and callings.

I want to thank my sons.  They have chosen two lovely young wives who have blessed our families.  I see the pictures of the boys with their families and am touched that they also are carrying on those valuable traits.  Their children clearly love them and feel safe.  What a blessing!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The sheep March 26, 2016

This week had two teaching moments about sheep.

We had the "Farewell Fireside" for the departing missionaries on Wednesday.  Sister Gerard, described by the other missionaries as "fearless" bore a beautiful testimony.  It was her final statement that hit me, though.  I may not quote it exactly but it was "I came on my mission to save the sheep and the sheep have saved me."  The wisdom in that statement is amazing.  Parents, be very proud of these wonderful missionaries.

The second lesson about sheep came from a beautiful painting by Liz Lemon Swindle picture called "Seeking the one" .  We had the picture hung in the entry of the office some time ago.  It is a beautiful picture and has captured the interest of people who come into the office.  Elder Cottle was describing the picture to someone and said "It is the one where Christ is walking away from the sheep."  That made me think more deeply about the title of the picture.  Christ was walking away, to find and save the one.  But Christ is a good shepherd, he would not leave the other sheep alone.  He would leave protection for those while he searched for the lost one.  That is why the sheep graze peacfully in the background.  They are not afraid because they trust the Shepherd.

It is a great representation of what he has asked of us.  We need to watch out for the 90 and 9 when he must find the lost one.  We must be their security until the Good Shepherd returns.

March Transfer March 2016

We had transfers this week.  Elder Farr has returned to the field to serve as a Zone Leader.  We will miss him, but we welcome Elder Burrows.

We sent home some wonderful missionaries.