Sunday, January 31, 2016

So much to do, so little time! January 31, 2016

We are running to the finish of this amazing mission assignment.  This week we will busy with transfers and we are grateful that there are 18 missionaries coming, including another from Temple Square.  Transfers are especially hard when we lose great missionaries.  We have some great ones leaving.  They are been good and faithful servants.

The logistics of transfers are more complicated than it may sound.  We have to get all of the missionaries in the right places at the right times.  It takes a van to carry missionaries, a truck and trailer to bring their luggage and a bunch of us from the office to make it happen.  Elder Dixon has the responsibility of getting it all figured out.  I am glad we have him.  If it was up to me, I would make mistakes and we would have three in Florida and two on their way to the Bahamas!

The need for Senior missionaries has weighed heavily on my mind.  We had the opportunity to attend a baptism yesterday and the Relief Society President came up to me with gleaming eyes.  She had heard that we are going to have a Senior couple in their ward (and that rumor was actually correct).  The ward is wonderful, is growing with new converts who are terrific, and needs someone to give extra support to all the new people.  We are fortunate to have someone to do that.

We have loved working with the Branch.  I love the people there so much.  They are good people who give freely.  They sacrifice to attend the Branch, but their attendance percentage is really high.  They do genealogy, they attend the Temple monthly.  They celebrate every event in style and do so together.

I have really loved being with these Young Women.  They are a treasure.  Each of them brings something special to our class.  They are deep thinkers who are also a lot of fun.  I will miss them terribly when our mission is over.

It seems to me that many of our senior church members hesitate to serve a mission because they don't feel qualified.  That is where they would be wrong.  There are so many ways to serve, so many needs, and so many people who can use a lift.  You don't have to be a gospel scholar to provide encouragement to these young missionaries.  They need the support, they need the counsel, they need help with investigators and new members.  We can help with those things.

Weather here is so weird.  The white in this picture is frost.  I wish the pictures had come out better.  It was frost on grass, but looked like pieces of white plastic.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"O be wise; what can I say more?" January 24, 2016

I have been reading the Book of Mormon again.  I just reread the account of Sherem.  Sherem rose as a leader among the Nephites.  I envision him as a powerful speaker, commanding in his presence.  I imagine that he told the people what they wanted to hear, and they accepted him in large numbers.  The account is found in Jacob 7.

"And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
 And he labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts;
And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil."
Sherem then asks for a sign, is struck down, and before he dies, he acknowledges that the things he had been saying were not true.
Just before the account of Sherem, Jacob says this "O be wise; what can I say more?"  Jacob was calling upon the people to be wise in who they would follow.  
How important is it that we be wise in choosing those we would follow?  We have many accounts in history in which the people were not wise.  
Many years ago, Elder Dixon had a friend who had come to the United States from Iran.  He told Elder Dixon about the experience he had when the takeover of the government took place.  There was unrest among the people about the reign of the Shah.  Demonstrations began to form in the streets on the weekends.  Many of those demonstrating were college students seeking change.  Each weekend the crowds grew until hundreds of thousands were assembling and chanting and calling for change.  Then, one day, some demonstrators joined them who carried signs supporting the Ayatollah.  Not long after, those demonstrators began to attend with guns and would shoot the guns into the air.  Elder Dixon's friend and many, many others, once the display of force took place, were too afraid to attend. The mood of the demonstrations changed and Elder Dixon's friend said that the reason the Ayatollah and his group took over is because the good people did nothing to prevent it.
I wonder if it was not similar when Hitler came into power.  The people were disenchanted, downtrodden perhaps.  He made promises that sounded great to them.  He played into their desire to be a great people.  He convinced them of their superiority to others.  He used tremendous displays of power.  Then, he systematically destroyed anyone who would oppose him.  Worse still, he targeted those he considered inferior and had them murdered.
One thing I find truly alarming is the position that compromise is a sign of weakness.  If that was so, we would not have a country today.  Our Union was established based on compromise and the sincere desire of good men to unite into something great.  The States' rights voices and the Federalists had to find common ground.  They did so, and created a tremendous land with promise and freedom.  People who are unwilling to compromise are listening to those voices who they believe will put them into, and allow them to stay in office.  They are not looking for the best for us and our country.
"O be wise; what can I say more?"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The blessings of discovering I am an introvert- January 17, 2016

In the scriptures, we hear "Be still and know that I am God".  One of the blessings that I have in being an introvert is that I don't need noise.  In fact, I can work in silence and be completely happy.  I don't even need music.  Sometimes, I just need quiet.  It is in the quiet that I can ponder and process.  I can think and consider.  I can listen to the things we miss in the noise and bustle of our days.

I used to feel weird that I didn't listen to music all of the time like my friends and even my family.  I didn't know then that quiet was a part of me.  Now, I value that.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dear friends and family of a missionary January 10, 2016

I'll Go Where You Want Me to GoI was wondering today about whether I had acquired wisdom for those who are not in the mission field.  I decided that I have learned some important things.

1)  Your missionary LOVES to get packages.  It doesn't matter so much what is in them, it is just that someone remembered.

2)  However, I have seen a few boxes of candy and treats left at the office when the missionary indicates that he/she still has some left from the last package.  Change it up.  They enjoy a surprise.

3)  I have found that the missionaries always need cleaning supplies like wipes and light bulbs.  They have a limited amount of money in their accounts and they really hate to use it on such things.

4)  Many missionaries quit going to check for mail in their mailboxes.  It is sad to go every day and not have anything in the box.  So, if you do send something to their mailbox, they may not realize it is there for a while.

5)  I always thought that missionaries would think it is weird to get a letter from me when I did not know them well.  At least it is mail.  Inspirational materials are nice to receive.

6)  At least here in our mission, the mail service is REALLY slow.  Plan on about two weeks for a letter.  Don't think that the weekly e-mail is enough.  Missionaries like paper letters.

7)  In our mission, packages sent to the mission office have a good chance of getting to the missionary, even if they are transferred.  That may not be so if sent to their residence address.  However, you may want to ask the office of your missionary whether that is the case in their mission.

8)  Monday holidays may change the day that the missionaries get to e-mail.

9)  Transfers are to be expected.  Every six weeks, the Mission President has to determine which missionaries are leaving and who may be coming in.  The President makes it a matter of prayer to determine where the missionaries are to be serving.

10)  There are no missionary assignments that are more important than other assignments.  I learned this lesson several years ago.  I had grown up believing that leadership assignments were a "promotion".  How wrong that is!  Whether it is the assignment of a proselyting missionary, a trainer, a district leader or Zone Leader or Sister Training Leader or Assistant to the President, every single assignment is important.  Which is more important for a car to run:  the gasoline, the tires or the engine?  The fact is, that car is not going to run without all of them!

11)  Missionaries need your help.  They need to have you be willing to go with them to teach, they need you to help investigators and new members.

12)  When the missionary returns home, they have grown.  They have been able to live independent of parents and family, support them as they use what they have learned.

This week, write a letter to someone, send a note of encouragement, tell someone the difference they have made in your life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Some people leave a great legacy- January 5, 2016

In the past week, two very wonderful people died.  Brenda Tau'a was an elementary teacher where my children went to school.  She was the fourth grade teacher who especially encouraged Andreia   Andreia was taller than the other girls and had curly hair.  Mrs. Tau'a completed loved Andreia and encouraged that from others.  Even years after my children left elementary she would see me in the store and ask about them. She has left a great legacy.

We also lost Gordon Hatton.  I didn't realize it while I was in the ward, but Gordon Hatton was an outstanding Ward Mission Leader.  Being in the Mission, I see the power that comes from someone like him.  With what I know now, I wish I had been better at supporting him.  He was so loving and kind to everyone and he has also left a great legacy.

Thanks to both of them, and peace and comfort to their families.

Enjoyed a great Christmas season- January 5, 2016

It was so fun to have Andreia, Kaitlyn and Titan here for Christmas.  We tried to make it enjoyable and memorable.  The day after Christmas, we went to the Center for Puppetry Arts.  That Sunday, we went to Church at the Branch.

We continued to work in the office part of the time, but snuck in some time with the family.

Titan had begun to not feel well but we went to Stone Mountain  anyway.  We were able to enjoy a tram ride to the top of Stone Mountain.  We enjoyed a 4D movie and a parade.  We had nachos with barbecue pulled pork and cinnamon bread.  Mostly, we enjoyed being together.

 Titan enjoyed the missionaries who live here in the house.  When we tried to get a picture, though, Grandpa had to wrestle with him first.

Titan and Andreia were not up to doing anything some of the time, but Titan got a lot of playing with Grandpa.  They read books together.  They had Nerf gun target shoots.  They just played like they always have and loved every minute.

<em>Refinery Smoke, Dress</em>, July 2008

When the rest of the family was not up to doing things, Kaitlyn and I ventured out.  We went to the High Museum and saw the exhibit on the Hapsburgs, but I was more impressed with the exhibit by a young artist.  Disguised as clothing, it was fascinating art.  The artist actually does have models wear these creations.  This one is refinery smoke.

This one is made of acrylic (I think) and looks like splashing water.  The artist uses all kinds of processes including 3D printing.

Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, January 05, 2016Kaitlyn and I also went to the Baps Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn Georgia.  I had been there before, but she had not. 

We had Honduran food, Brazilian food, Chinese food and Sandy's awesome barbecued brisket.

We went to see the Legos at the Botanical Gardens in Gainesville.

We were able to go to lunch with Sister Abram and her companion.  I had always wanted her to meet Kaitlyn because they are so much alike.  Kaitlyn and Andreia did not see the similarities, but everyone else seems to.  It was so fun to have them all meet.

We made chocolate-covered grapes to give as gifts, but they did not last long enough!  We decorated regular-shaped Christmas cookies and ugly sweater-shaped cookies.  We had a lot of laughs!  We also made pancakes in unique shapes.  Kaitlyn got quite good at it.

It was hard to let them go, but we all needed to return to our regular lives.

I keep finding pink flamingoes throughout the house!