It's a Winter Wonderland Here

21 January 2017

As I type this, I'm watching a heavy snow fall, and everything I see out our window is covered in a blanket of white. We're supposed to get up to 4 inches, and, since this was predicted, we ran errands last night so we wouldn't have to go out today.

The only big excitement this week is that Bob fell on the ice yesterday. He’s kinda bruised, but mostly, he wrenched his bad knee, and has gotten some treatment for that. He’ll be sore for a few days. He’s been cautioning everyone else in our zone to be careful walking on the ice, but, he was hurrying, and said that he forgot that he, too, is old, and needed to be careful himself!

Yesterday we got to attend another “Go Forth” meeting, where the mission president tells new missionaries what their assignments will be. (We’re happy to get one new missionary – it’s better than none – but, we had three FTMs go home this week, so we wish we could have more.) At this meeting, President Tate likes to share from the missionary journal of Claudius V. Spencer, who was called on a mission to England in the early days of the church – and later, on his way back from England, led a company of saints to Salt Lake City. I’ve searched for Claudius V. Spencer’s missionary journal with no luck (though I found a little about the company he led west and, also excerpts from an earlier journal, before his mission) so, I’ll have to ask Pres. Tate if I can get a copy of what he has. (He may have gotten it from the Church History Library, which is currently closed for renovations.) Claudius was a bit like Jonah, in the Old Testament – he tried to avoid being called on a mission, and, then, went very reluctantly to that mission, once called. Eventually, he caught the vision of what the Lord had for him to do and was very successful, but it’s interesting to hear his experience in his own words. (Pres. Tate usually says he hopes no one in that room is feeling like Claudius about their assignment, and he relates some of the inspiration, and, guidance from the spirit, that goes into determining each assignment.)

Last Sunday we received the materials for our mission reading challenge for the next 13 weeks. Wow!! What a wonderful course of study!!! It’s something President Tate put together for our mission and the theme is “Christ in You”

We’re reading from the New Testament, from Jesus the Christ, and, from a selected group of talks assembled into a booklet for us. The talks are from a variety of Church leaders -- mostly apostles and prophets -- but, also people like Stephen R. Covey, Sheri L. Dew, and Daniel H. Ludlow. All of them are meant to help us draw closer to our Savior. What a blessing to have these!

Since, as a mission, we don’t have to follow the same course of study as the rest of the Church, we’re also using these readings (which are broken down by week) for Sunday School and for Relief Society and Priesthood. 

In Sunday School, we’ll focus on the scriptures and the readings from Jesus the Christ, and in RS/Priesthood, we’ll be taught from the talks assigned for the week. 
Our sacrament meeting talks will also be on topics related to that week’s readings. I don’t know what we’ll be doing after Easter, but, these next few months will be awesome!

The zone leader role, as I’ve mentioned before, continues to expand, so Bob will not only be teaching some of the Sunday lessons, but, will assign all the sacrament meeting talks for specific months, and, will also assign and assist people from our zone in providing talks, and the sacrament, to members who are in a nearby Elder Care facility.

We already feel like we spend most days going from meeting to meeting, coordinating with staff for their needs, holding periodic interviews with each missionary in our zone, and attending to other details. And, we’re also trying to have occasional, fun, “team-building” activities with our zone. (It takes extra time to plan and develop those, so we finally got an assistant zone leader and wife to help with that.) Plus, some of the sisters in our zone who speak English-as-a-second-language often need extra help with things. . .

I guess that’s why we’re here, though! It’s good to be busy!

Life in the Zone . . .

14 January 2017

We had something funny happen in our zone this week. My husband is not a morning person -- but, as the zone leader, he conducts our zone devotionals first thing each morning. For a while now, he has stood up and said, “Morning.” And, when several people respond with “Good Morning.” He says, “I didn’t say ‘good’” . . . or some such thing. Last week, one of the sisters came in singing and he gave her a bad time, telling her it was just too early in the morning to be that cheerful. So, a couple of days ago, she secretly talked to others in the zone, and plotted a way to get back at him. When Bob stood up and grumbled, “Morning” the whole room burst into singing, “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ayMy, oh my, what a wonderful day!. . .” And, we all laughed and sang the whole song! It was a great way to start the day! (Naturally, Bob pretended to be horrified and plugged his ears.)

We got tickets to attend part of the Roots Tech (genealogy meets technology) conference being held here next month. It will be at the Salt Palace, which is pretty much within walking distance of us. Although I’m not a fan of being in a crowd of 15 – 20 thousand people, I think it will be interesting. We’ll get to hear LaVar Burton as one of the keynote speakers. Then, on Saturday, Pres. Russell M. Nelson and his wife will be the featured speakers. Of course, we’ll also take some classes and browse the exhibits in the expo hall.

Bob had to meet with a woman the other day (who heads up one of the departments our zone supports) to talk about their needs for missionaries to help with certain projects. While they were talking, she started recruiting him/us to run one of their data centers. He said, “Ummm. How about if we finish the mission we’re on, first?” I think it just goes to show how much all the departments are needing missionaries. We don’t seem to be able to fill the slots we have, and I know it’s the same in other zones.

We’re grateful for all the missionaries we do have, though. It’s a blessing to work with such dedicated and faithful people serving together to hasten the work of salvation. Its so different from any other work environment either of us have been part of. Not that there aren’t challenges, there are, but, we definitely feel we’re in the right place, doing the things we should be doing.
Today a small group* of us went to the Provo City Center Temple, then had lunch together. Really enjoyable day!
(*Us, Elder and Sister Tuinei, Sis. Wiltbank, Sis. Lowe, Sis. Filip, Sis. Kappel, and Sis. Aidarbekova)

What We Do in the Digital Imaging Processing Zone

6 January 2017

Since Bob became the zone leader for the Digital Imaging Processing Zone in mid-October, there have been a number of changes, and our responsibilities have increased in several ways.
We are in a zone that has people working on many different things and in several locations, so, we thought it would be good (and, hopefully, unifying) to have a zone newsletter.
I'm sharing our premier issue here, because it tells a lot about what we do in our zone (and there's more that wasn't listed.)
Here is the January 2017 issue of our news:

Ring In The New!

1 January 2017

By way of celebrating New Year's Eve, we participated in a delightful activity on Temple Square. There was a Broadway show-tunes Sing-a-long held for an hour in the Assembly Hall. It was great fun sitting with a room full of strangers with all of us belting out songs from Newsies; Annie; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; New York, New York; Man of La Mancha; Sound of Music, and several more! We loved it! We didn't stay out much longer after that, but, came home and prepared a small table of goodies.

This morning we were excited to hear that our 21-year-old granddaughter, Ryann, (our oldest) is now engaged to be married. No date has been set, yet, and we haven't met her intended, but we're happy for her.

Today was our first day to meet as the new Ensign Peak Missionary Branch and we had great meetings. Since we are studying the teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley this year, our special guest for a joint Priesthood/Relief Society meeting, was someone who knew President Hinckley, personally. And, it was awesome to hear some of his experiences. The guest was Brother Herbert Klopfer, whom I mentioned in a previous post. He was the stake president to several prophets, including President Hinckley.

He also served on the Church music committee with President Hinckley back in the 1980's, while the committee was selecting hymns for our current hymnbook.

Hymn #135 – My Redeemer Lives –  is interesting because it’s the only hymn in our hymnal that is entirely written by general authorities. Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the words and G. Homer Durham, who was a Seventy, wrote the music. Brother Klopfer said that when the decision was made to put Pres. Hinckley’s words to music, there were 17 different submissions for possible tunes. When they told Pres. Hinckley they had chosen the music by Elder Durham, Pres. Hinckley said, “That’s wonderful! He was a boyhood friend of mine. We played sports together and even wore the same size shoe. So, in high school, we would play tricks on each other by taking the other’s shoes.” Plus, they served in the same mission together in England.

Bro. Klopfer also related stories about Pres. Hinckley’s warmth, and his kindness to others. We enjoyed hearing these stories in preparation for our Priesthood and Relief Society study this year.

As this New Year begins, we are feeling blessed to be in this mission, at this time, and look forward to many opportunities to serve others throughout this year. 

Historic Mission Changes

      23 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

When we had the special meeting this past Sunday (18 Dec 2016), and it was announced that our mission name will change from the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission to the Utah Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission — and, then, the changes in organization and structure were announced — I was impressed by the spirit of this change, and, with how right it feels. (Elder Craig C. Christensen of the presidency of the Seventy, presided, and President Warren G. Tate, our mission president, conducted the meeting.) Previously, we functioned independently from the Missionary Department, but, now, we’re under the Missionary Department ecclesiastically, (the newest and largest mission in the Church – though one of the smallest geographically) yet in our day-to-day endeavors most of us will still serve under the Family History and Church History Departments.

Part of this change will enable us to offer support to wards and branches in the area, as well as to provide community service in the inner city. (It feels like they’re preparing us to serve in the offices during the day and proselyte and give service on nights and weekends.)

On the stand were three members of the quorum of the 70, the three men in our mission presidency, each of the branch presidents (whose branches were dissolved as part of this change), and, the two stake presidents involved. (Those of us who are full-time missionaries will still attend church in two branches on Sundays, but now we aren’t part of any stake and our branch presidents are Pres. Larson and Pres. Hansen, the two counselors in the mission presidency.)

Our closing hymn at last Sunday’s meeting was “I’m trying to be like Jesus” and I was struck with how amazing it is to see a row of 10 strong leaders singing about being kind and gentle and loving, like the Savior. Where else but in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ would you see this?

Brochures were printed to explain the changes. Zone leaders will now play a larger ecclesiastical role in ministering to those serving in each of the 20 zones of the mission (especially to meet the needs of the single, senior, sister missionaries) – and the brochure lists each of the zones and zone leaders. So, Bob was named in the brochure as part of this historic change — as one of the zone leaders serving under President Hansen. (see below)

We also had our monthly mission conference this week, and, at the conference, they had us perform the small ceremony of officially moving our name tags from the right shoulder to the left – as all other missionaries wear them. Somehow, it felt bittersweet to do that. Ah, well. . . onward and upward!

This weekend we get to talk to most of our family. Looking forward to that!

Some Changes are Coming

December 16, 2016

It’s been a great week! We got to hear from some of the Quorum of the Seventy who are over Family History at a special Christmas devotional and luncheon. Elder Ian S. Arden and his wife (from New Zealand) showed us some slides of their family and of the beach near their home, where they will be spending Christmas. Then, Elder Erich W. Kopischke and his wife (from Germany) shared special Christmas memories, and a cute video of some of their family singing a carol (in German, of course). First though, Elder Kopischke said, “I know what Elder Arden was trying to do there. He was trying to make us all jealous [only he pronounced it yell-us] that he gets to spend Christmas at the beach! (It was fun to see their banter with each other.) Then, we also heard some special memories from Elder Bradley D. Foster and his wife. Elder Foster is over the Family History Department.

All the missionaries in our mission have been “invited” to a special meeting this Sunday (Dec 18). Elder Craig C. Christensen, one of the seven presidents of the Seventy, will be presiding. Our mission Presidency said “We can’t really say it’s mandatory, but, all full-time missionaries are expected to attend.” Of course, there are all sorts of rumors flying around about what might be announced at this meeting – so it will be interesting to learn what really is presented.

Currently, we are the only mission in the Church that is not under the Missionary Department. (We’re under the Family History Dept.) – so one rumor is that we’ll be moved under the Missionary Dept. . . Also, right now, we have two branches that meet on Sundays that are entirely composed of full-time missionaries. So, another rumor is that those two branches will be disbanded and all the missionaries will be scattered among the various wards in Salt Lake City. Plus, lots of other ideas are being batted around as well. It’s kind of funny to hear some of them. But, we shall see. . . A member of our mission presidency DID say that there are changes coming, and that they are the result of counsels and prayer among the Family History Dept., the Missionary Dept., the First Quorum of the Seventy, the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.

Thursday night we went to a wedding reception about 30 miles south of SLC. It was for Ben Housley and his bride, Krysta Moss. We were in the Morrisville Ward with the Housleys several years ago – and it was fun to see them again! We also got to see Jordan Rawlings and Quinn Volpe, who were there!

Later tonight, Catherine Plautz is arriving and will spend a couple of nights with us. Her sweetheart’s mother is serving here in the same mission as us, and Cat and her beau are flying out so she and his mom can meet. Since we have an extra bedroom, Catherine is staying with us, and Derek will be at his mom’s. I think we’re all going to the temple tomorrow afternoon.

We also learned that LouAnn Brady’s brother is a patient at the Veteran’s Hospital here in SLC, and we have a goody box ready to take to him – hopefully, this weekend.

Last December, Bob had bariatric surgery, and while it has cured several health issues, nevertheless, I've been concerned about him for a while, now. This week he had his second endoscopy in as many weeks. He’s been having a really hard time eating anything, especially meats and vegetables, for several months now. (Has mostly been living on protein drinks, Greek yogurt and snack crackers.) He’s had frequent episodes where he would try to eat, but, after one or two bites, had to stop. He couldn’t eat and was miserably uncomfortable, yet, at the same time, couldn’t bring anything back up – it felt like any meat or vegetable he tried would get “stuck.” (even with lots and lots and lots of chewing to soften it.) He finally saw a Bariatric specialist in mid-November and that MD scheduled these two endoscopies to “stretch” the little bit of stomach Bob has, as well as the small intestine connected to it. When the first endoscopy was done, they discovered an ulcer, as well as the stricture, and between those two things, he was struggling to eat much of anything. He was given a prescription to help with the ulcer, and, with that, and the two “stretchings”, he seems to be doing much better. He actually ate most of a small hamburger for dinner yesterday! Hopefully, now, he will gain back some weight — because he’s gotten too thin. (i.e. He currently weighs what he did when he was 14, and a freshman in high school.)

On another note, I think I’ve discovered why so many of the women out here use hairspray. With this dry, cold weather, there is so much static electricity in the air that whenever I run a brush through my hair, it flies all over the place – and I look like I stuck my hand in a light socket!! (I think I need to put hair spray on my next shopping list.)

We are participating in giving gifts to some refugees in the area, so it’s fun to see a few presents under our little tree – for a few days, at least. We’ll deliver them to the refugee agency in the next day or two.

And, we look forward to visiting with family via Facetime on Christmas eve! Of course, the best part of Christmas is remembering the best gift of all - Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ!

Making Christmas Memories

10 December 2016

We LOVED President Eyring’s story (at the Christmas Devotional last Sunday) about their family acting out the Christmas story every year – and when the group got really big, they added Samuel the Lamanite, and the unbelieving crowd, who threw things at him! I laughed out loud at that!
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I’m remembering sweet photos from years past when our family acted out the Christmas story from Luke 2. . .

And, I am loving the mindfulness of participating in this year’s Christmas initiative to #LIGHTtheWORLD. 

Our son, John, also told us about a challenge one of his mission presidents gave when he was on his mission. The idea is to make a point, in every action we take between now and Christmas, to act for the benefit of another — to focus on giving, and to consider how, when we focus on giving, it affects how we act toward others. Then, at the end of each day, reflect upon how this way of acting helps us be more like Christ—and how it brings us closer to the Spirit. (And, then, record these experiences in your journal.)

I’ve decided to give this a try, along with the Light the World initiative.

This week, my oldest brother and his wife were here. I was on the phone with this brother a few weeks ago, and he said one thing he has always wanted was to be able to go to one of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concerts. I was surprised to hear this, but, I told him I happened to have been lucky enough to get two tickets for this year, and that I would give them to him if he wanted them. He declined at first because he didn’t want to take our seats, and said, “Maybe we can try for next year.” I talked to Bob and we agreed to give them our tickets, so, I emailed and encouraged him to take advantage of my offer, because there’s no guarantee that we’d get them next year. They drove up from New Mexico on Tuesday and have been seeing some of the sights in and around Salt Lake City. Last night they went to the concert. (And, of course, loved it!!)

In addition to that, at the office on Thursday, someone came to me and said she had two tickets for the MoTab Choir Concert for that night that she couldn’t use, and did I want them? I said, “Yes!” However, Bob was sick and didn’t feel well enough to go — and I was able to give them to two different missionaries in our zone. (Sister Filip, from Romania, and Sister Zohrabyan, who is here from Armenia.)

So, I’ve had four different tickets (opportunities) in my hands to attend this wonderful concert without being able to go myself. Yet, I feel such joy at being able to give them away! It feels like I was meant to get these tickets so that I could give them to others. It’s a great feeling!

Yesterday, Bob and I were allowed to take the day “off” and one of the things we did was take our guests to visit Welfare Square. My brother was really impressed to learn about all the different ways the Church provides assistance, both for Church members and for humanitarian aid. (Although he and his wife don’t attend any church, they are very generous and conscientious about giving to worthy causes.) It was a great tour!