Mission Conference with Sister Wendy Nelson

18 February 2017

It’s been a full and busy week. We had a fairly large group (20+) full-time missionaries finish training yesterday, but, sadly, none of them were assigned to our zone. We’ve learned that one unexpected outcome of being under the Missionary Department, now is that they have so many needs throughout the world, they are not inclined to send people to Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City. (If people really want to serve in this mission, they can contact our mission office, and, with the assistance of the mission president, have a pretty good chance of being assigned here. But, it’s not like it used to be.) We’re praying that more local residents will want to serve as church-service missionaries, because we need them.

At our monthly Mission Conference this week, we got to hear from Sister Wendy Nelson (President Russell M. Nelson’s wife.) She is a wonderful speaker! She told an interesting story about when she was 24 years old and engaged to be married, but, was wondering a bit about the relationship. She had heard the promise that you can receive personal answers from the messages at General Conference, so she decided to give this a try. This was back when you only got the audio feed for conference (not like it is now), and she had a small tape recorder she used to record the messages so she could play them back later. She said it was the most amazing thing! In one session she listened to, every single talk was about marriage, and the message she heard with each talk was, “Do not marry this man.” So, after conference, she ended the relationship. Then, a few months later, she was asked to give a RS lesson about marriage. She went back to listen to all the talks at that Gen. Conference session, and discovered that not a single one of them was on marriage!! She pointed out that when we are prepared to hear, the Holy Ghost will speak to us – regardless of what a speaker may actually be saying. 

She also talked about some experiences she’s had with doing her own family history research, and I found it interesting because I’ve had some of those same impressions and experiences. Especially, with being wakened around 2 or 3 a.m., going to the computer, and finding a whole family that I didn’t have records for before! That’s happened several times in recent months! Yet, somehow I’m able to function the next day. . . and, it’s truly exciting to find these missing family members!

We feel blessed to be serving where we are, and especially, to be close enough to walk to the temple! (And, within an easy drive of several other temples.) It’s wonderful.

Missionary Journal Excerpts from Claudius V. Spencer

Previously, I have mentioned the story our mission president, Warren G. Tate, likes to tell about Claudius V. Spencer, who left (reluctantly) on a mission to England in 1850. I was able to secure a copy of part of his journal and some key excerpts are below:

MY EXPERIENCES IN ENGLAND
BY C. V. SPENCER
CHAPTER 1

CALLED ON A MISSION—START FOR MY FIELD OF LABOR—DIFFICULTIES ON THE WAY—TRAVELING IN DEEP SNOW—REACH THE PLATTE RIVER—PROCURE A NEW OUTFIT—EXPOSED TO CHOLERA—ATTACKED BY THE PLAGUE—MY RECOVERY—ARRIVAL AT ALBANY, N.Y.—TAKE PASSAGE ON A STEAMER TO NEW YORK CITY—INCIDENTS ON THE WAY.

At the April conference, 1850, I felt a presentiment that I might be called on a mission, and kept away from conference until near the close of the last afternoon’s meeting, thinking that if I were not seen, I should, perhaps, not be remembered, and then went to the door, and standing on the outside pressed it open about two inches. Just as I did this a man arose on the stand and said, “It is moved and seconded that Claudius V. Spencer go on a mission to Europe.” I turned as though shot, walked down Main Street saying to myself, “Can it be possible those men have any inspiration to call such a stick for a missionary?” I think if my body and spirit had then been weighed together, I should have pulled the beam at two thousand pounds.

Previous to this time no person had heard me pray or speak in any public meeting.

. . . The most of the company left Salt Lake City on the 19th of April, and those who did not go then overtook us the next morning. We carried the mail by express with ox teams, and delivered it at Council Bluffs on the 4th of July following.

At the time we were set apart Brother Heber forbid us taking either money, watches, rings or chains of gold or silver, but told us to go literally without purse of scrip. For the benefit of the missionaries who now go by rail and frequently in first-class style, I record that the first day out we reached Emigration Canyon, and that night had a severe snow storm. The next morning our cattle were all lost. We divided into parties to find them. The party with which I went trailed some of the cattle towards the city. They wished me to go in, see the folks and help get the cattle back. I said, “No, I will never enter Salt Lake again til I have fulfilled my mission, unless I am carried in dead.”

[He recounts numerous difficulties and privations along their arduous route east, as well as some blessings – including being able to trade their horses, wagons and other gear for better ones to complete the journey. They passed some men traveling west who had been exposed to chlora, and spoke of having to leave the road sometimes to avoid the bodies. He also mentioned how the way they lived and traveled had worn his clothing so that it was in pretty bad condition. Once he got to Albany, NY, he planned to sail down the Hudson to NYC.]

I went aboard a New York steamer and applied for a ticket for passage and state room to that city. The agent looked at me from head to foot and then said that I could not have one, as the boat was chartered by the State, county and city authorities for a pleasure trip. On looking round I saw “U.S. Mail” as a sign on the boat; I laid down the money before the ticket seller and demanded my ticket. After some squirming on his part I got it. On this same day I had the “blues” as I hope never to have them again. I had nearly concluded that there could not be either sense or inspiration in the authorities of the Church sending me to England on a mission, and that when I got to New York City I would go over to my native town where I had some property and quietly settle among my old friends and relatives. So great was the power that the devil had over me that when I first stepped on the boat I drew a chair into the niche by the “figure head” to avoid having conversation with anyone. I had sat there but a few moments when a person came up behind me and remarked that it was a pleasant evening. I made no reply.

“Boat making fine time,” said he.

Still I did not answer. Soon he spoke again, “Are you traveling far, young man?”

I jerked my chair around and answered very spitefully, “I have come a long way and I am going a long way; all the way from Salt Lake to England. Is there anything else you want?” My abruptness had sent him back several feet, and he was looking at me with about as much curiosity as if he were viewing a wild animal.

Very soon he smiled and said, “Yes if you come from Salt Lake there is a good deal more I want.”

He commenced asking questions and soon several more persons gathered around; but just then the dinner bell rang, and they invited me to go to dine, which I did not do, as it seemed to me that I could not have eaten at that time even if it were to save my life. After finishing their repast I was waited upon by three gentlemen, who stated they had engaged the cabin from the captain and wished me to preach. I told them I had never preached in my life. They wanted to know for what I was going to England. I told them to preach. They then wanted to know why I would not preach, in the cabin, my answer being that it was because I was not sent here to preach. We finally compromised the matter by my consenting to go to the cabin and answer questions. The room was so crowded that they could not sit down, but stood around in circles, and took turns asking me questions.

. . . I answered questions until about eleven o’clock at night, when I sprang from my chair and said, “Gentlemen, you have had ‘Mormonism’ enough for one night,” and I started for my room. I was stopped and led back to my chair, when I received a unanimous vote of thanks and the proffer to raise me three hundred dollars if I would accept the amount. I told the gentlemen that we preached the gospel without purse or scrip, and that I had already received enough to take me to England. I selected, however, three reliable men, who promised me to see that the three hundred dollars were given to the poor in their neighborhoods during the next Winter.

I went into my room and prostrated myself with my face on the floor, and thanked God for the gift of the Holy Ghost, for I had most surely talked by inspiration. I asked forgiveness for my unbelief, and from that time I was wholly contented to go to England.
(Labors in the Vineyard: Faith-Promoting Series, no. 12 [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1884], 14.)

A Fun Week

11 February 2017

We feel well entertained this week! On Tuesday, there was a Missionary Appreciation night at the Salt Palace. They fed us a light meal; told us that, in 2016, our mission contributed more than 1 million hours of service to the Family History, Church History and Headquarters Departments of the Church; and, then we were entertained by the One Voice children’s choir. Oh. My. Goodness. They were fantastic!! The ages of the choir members range from 4-17 and they were so much fun to watch/hear! Very energetic and delightful!
Plus, Roots Tech is here this week and there are lots of things going on in conjunction with that.
Thursday night we got to attend the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert in the Conference Center. The theme was “Music: It Runs in the Family” and the special guest was Oscar Hammerstein III (grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II) and the music was all show tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein. -  i.e. songs from Oklahoma, Carousel, Sound of Music, South Pacific, etc. (It was hard not to sing along!)
As we were leaving the concert, we bumped into Bob Bray, and he came back to our apartment with us so we could visit for a bit. No one told us he is now serving as a member of the Raleigh Temple Presidency. That was cool to learn.

On Friday, we got to spend the day at RootsTech and we heard LaVar Burton’s inspiring presentation as the keynote speaker in the General Session. He was moved to tears when, afterward, he was presented with a record of his own family history.
We attended several classes (I especially learned a lot at the ones on Research Strategies, and on British Research) and we enjoyed browsing the booths in the expo hall.
Going to all these classes has gotten me more focused on work I need to do on my family tree, and, now I’m having trouble doing other things on my “to do” list today — because I just want to keep working on my genealogy!
One person we got to meet was the brother who runs the Church’s data center in Frankfort, Germany. He sends all the data they collect/film throughout Europe, via the internet, to our zone in the Church Office Building. It’s kind of fun to be able to put a face to someone on the other end of that “pipeline.” I wish I’d taken a picture.
Also on Friday, we bumped into Arina Aidarbekova, who is a CSM in our zone. She was in line to have a caricature drawn of herself and invited me to join her. Here is the outcome, though, I can’t honestly say it looks much like either of us. . .
We’re happy to hear that, after learning of our granddaughter, Nora’s, illness Friday, things are looking pretty good today. There are still some follow-up MD appointments, but she’s doing alright. We’re sending up lots of prayers.

Today was the closing day of Roots Tech, and we had more great classes. We came away with lots of information to help up move forward with our research and documentation. For instance, we learned if you’re looking at records in a language you don’t know, besides standard on-line translation helps, there are people in Facebook groups (made up of volunteers around the world) who will help you interpret what you’re reading. People often get answers within hours. We also got an intro to paleography that included some great tips for reading old scripts.
The entertainment for the closing event was two a cappella groups from BYU. The male group is Vocal Point and the female group is Noteworthy. They are both exceptional. Great entertainment!
One of the hosts for the shows at the conference was Jason Hewlett, a comedian and impersonator. He was very entertaining, and “clean” funny.
Next year, we hope to attend more days at Roots Tech.

Good Missionary Training

4 February 2017

A few days ago I was looking around on the church website and I happened to go to the full-time missionary portal. I hadn’t been on that part of the site since we came on our mission (though I went to it often before that.)

While there, I discovered that last week, (on Jan 25) there was a Worldwide Missionary Training Broadcast by the Missionary Executive Council of the Church. I assume our mission wasn’t made aware of it because we are not serving a proselyting mission – and the primary topic was to help missionaries learn to teach repentance and baptize converts. [ The Missionary Executive Council is composed of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who chairs the council; Elder David A. Bednar; Elder Neil L. Anderson; Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President; W. Christopher Waddell, of the Presiding Bishopric; Brent H. Nielson, of the Seventy (and executive director of the missionary department); and Stephen B. Allen, managing director of the missionary department. ]

I particularly liked something Elder Bednar said. He said, “Too often in the church, we have a cook book, checklist mentality about living the gospel. So, faith is this little separate thing, and then, repentance is a separate thing, and then there’s the ordinance of baptism, and then receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
But, all things are gathered together in one, in Christ.
So, faith is in the Savior – in Him as the Son of God – in His nature and attributes.
Repentance is dependence upon Him. . .
then following Him - is baptism.
Pressing forward with Him is enduring to the end with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. . .
They are all interrelated. . . Faith that leads to repentance will lead to baptism. They are all tied together.
There is no spiritual power in treating these fundamental elements of the doctrine of Christ as separate things.”  Isn’t that beautiful?

During another part of the discussion Elder Oaks said, “we study – so that we may be nourished by the good word of God. We pray – so that we can be inspired by the Holy Ghost.”

Elder Oaks then quoted Doctrine and Covenants 6:36, which is the Savior, saying, “Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.” Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear = inaction. But, faith is a principle of action.

I’m glad I heard the great insights discussed by this council — basic principles, well taught.

Yesterday, our zone went to the Bountiful Temple together and it felt wonderful to be there with these good people we serve with each day. After our session, I noticed one sister was kind of emotional, so I went to talk to her. She said, “Usually, when I go to the temple, I don’t have any family with me, but, today, it felt like all of you were my family.” (We gave each other a big hug.)​
 
*About 2/3 of our Zone went to the Bountiful temple on 3 Feb 2017
(There were five more who attended but aren’t in the picture.)

We love all the good sisters and brothers in our zone. It's a great place to be!

And, we're especially thinking of our granddaughter, Sophia, today, since its her first time to go to the temple to perform sacred ordinances. I sent her some family names I discovered recently and am excited that we'll be working together to complete their work!

Also, I forgot to mention that we saw President Uchtdorf in the cafeteria yesterday. He sat at the table right next to ours. (One of the sisters at our table could hardly contain herself she was so "star-struck". LOL!) I have to admit, though, that it's kind of fun to have an apostle sighting from time-to-time. :-)

*Missionaries pictured: Front row, L to R: Elder Frank Howe; Sister Marianne Howe; Sister Deborah Mangum; Sister Barbara Peterson, Sister Betty Crenshaw, Sister Colleen Lee, Sister Elena Filip, Sister Marlene Bollinger, Sister Ikuko Ishikawa, and, Elder Bob Crenshaw. Back row, L to R: Elder Jakob Wolff, Elder Dallin Perkins, Elder David Lee, Elder Matthew Huskinson, Elder Steven Wilde, Elder Jenner Sorensen, Elder Nathaniel Wilkes, Elder Jacob Wamsley, and, Elder Harrison LaRose. (Attending, but not pictured: Sister Cindy Bergener, Sister Corliss Clayton, Elder Ed and Sister Sandra Montague, and, Sister Lois Wille)

Its All About the Dash

28 January 2017

Yesterday we got to attend the Oquirrh Mountain temple, about 21 miles south of us. It’s a lovely temple, and it’s always interesting to see how each temple is “managed” a little differently. This one is a small temple, like Raleigh, as far as seating, but, it’s very tall, (the celestial room is at least two stories high.) It has a grand staircase, plus a chapel that people gather in before the session begins. When you enter, they hand you a little plastic, imprinted tag that shows the time of your session and you must turn that in to get on that session. For instance, we thought we were getting there in time for the 10:30 a.m. session, but, they’d already given out all the tags/seats for that session and the earliest we could get was 11:15.
Since we had a 2 pm phone call appointment we decided an 11:15 session might not work as well for us, so we ran some errands, had lunch, took care of our business call from 2-3, then went on the 3:45 pm session. It’s always good to be in the temple.

Bob and I spoke in the mission-wide devotional on Monday, introducing ourselves and sharing our testimonies. Afterward, it was nice to receive good comments from President Tate about how effective he thinks we’ve been as zone leaders. We work mostly with President Hansen, the second counselor, and weren’t sure President Tate was all that aware of us.

I’ve been debating with myself about whether to include my talk here and finally decided I will.
We were limited to 3 minutes to tell all about ourselves. J Here’s what I said:

“Good morning! My name is Betty Crenshaw. I grew up in a small town in Missouri, in a rather spectacularly dysfunctional family.

My husband, Bob, and I met in college, while he was dating a friend of mine. We married in the summer of 1968.

Just over a year later, he entered the Army, and after he finished training, was assigned to Berlin, Germany. A few months before his enlistment ended, we were tracted out by two young Americans who were serving a German-speaking mission. Only the Lord would know to send a farm boy from Paul, Idaho and another one from Wellsville, Utah all the way to Germany so they could teach and baptize a young couple from Missouri. That was in 1972, and, of course, joining the church was the single best decision we ever made!

Although we’ve moved a lot in our 48 years of marriage, and, have lived in many places, we came on our mission from North Carolina – which is where our six children and most of our 13 grandchildren live.

I returned to college after our kids were all in school, and finally completed my degree a few months before I turned 50. Since then, I have worked as a graphic designer in the creative services department at IBM, and then, at a private women’s college. Later, I had my own free-lance design business.

I love our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His glorious gospel. I am filled with gratitude for the many ways in which we have seen the Lord’s hand in our lives.

In March of 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery and radiation treatments. Then, about the time I finished my treatments, my husband took a job in Brisbane, Australia, and . . . we met many wonderful people there.

In November of that year, on my 60th birthday, I wrecked a motorcycle. As a result, I had seven broken bones and a severe laceration near my right hip. Besides a six-week hospital stay, and multiple surgeries, I was in a wheelchair or on crutches for more than six months afterward. Again, the Lord’s hand was evident in the healing I experienced, and for that I am truly grateful.

Back in the U.S., and about the time I turned 63, I wanted to do something that would challenge my body a bit, so I took classes in rock climbing. I really enjoyed it, a lot, but, unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to go climbing with, so that didn’t last very long.

After that, I took up quilting. I set a goal to make a quilt for myself, my husband, and each of our children and grandchildren. So far, I’ve completed 9 of those 21 quilts and it gives me great joy to plan and make each one.

I know that our Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us, and He wants us to be happy.”

And, of course, I closed in the name of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been using this blog for most of my journaling for several years, now, but, trying to condense my story into a three-minute talk helped me realize how important it is to record more of my life experiences. There’s a great initiative on the Family Search Blog called “Define Your Dash - #52Stories Project” (dash = the dash between the years on most people’s headstones) and it gives 52 prompts for telling parts of our life stories. Since memories are not particularly structured or orderly, the article encourages everyone to just add one story a week to our life story and not try to write about ourselves chronologically. I should give it a try. . .

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)