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.