Its Been a Full Week

This past weekend was our stake conference and we were presented with the prophetic vision for each of us to: “Become, and help others to become true followers of Jesus Christ and enjoy the blessings of the holy temple.” 

What great meetings we had! 

On Saturday night, one member of the stake presidency quoted from Pres. Henry B. Eyring, who said, “As good as you are, you can operate on a higher spiritual level . . . to do this we need the Lord’s help, . . .and, Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, are standing by saying, “Please, please let us help.” “

At our Sunday morning conference session, two of the speakers were Pam and Richard Norby. Brother Norby was the senior missionary who was with the two young Elders and one sister missionary in the Brussels airport when it was bombed this past March.

They both spoke softly about that experience; yet, their testimonies were very powerful! Sister Norby spoke of how she knew she had to turn her heart over to the Lord – and when she did, He strengthened her and helped her through. She spoke of the miraculous healings that have taken place for her husband and for the other missionaries.

Brother Norby still has difficulties with his legs, and though he could carefully walk to the podium unassisted and stand and speak to us, he did mention that he often uses a wheelchair. He spoke of the overwhelming peace he felt after the bombing and also of the great love he felt for the Savior as he laid in the airport waiting for someone to come help him. (He had tried to move but his leg was broken and much of the soft tissue destroyed.) The three young missionaries found him and one of the Elders gave him a blessing before other help came.

He talked about how, in the Book of Mormon, the theme for Laman and Lemuel was always, “This is a hard thing you ask of us . . .” - while for Nephi, the theme was, “I will go and do” -- It wasn’t I will go and know – because he didn’t know how he would do what he was asked to do – he just set out to do what the Lord commanded, and discovered the way as he went along. Bro. Norby referred to Nephi’s way as having 20/20 “foresight” – trusting in the Lord’s vision for the future.

He said he knows that the Lord comes to the rescue . . .we just have to hold on and trust in His ways and His timing.

Bro. Norby will carry the scars and other effects of the bombing for the rest of his life, but, he said, “When I look at the scars, I am reminded of my Savior’s love for me.” “Because of Him, I am not a victim, I am a survivor.”

I was deeply touched by their testimonies.

The Days Are Flying By

22 October 2016

This past Wednesday we officially became the zone leaders for the Digital Imaging Processing Zone of the mission – and, have been trying our best just to keep our heads above water ever since. We really like the previous zone leaders, but, they weren’t particularly detail oriented, so we’ve spent a lot of time organizing files, and trying to wrap our heads around exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. . . There is much to do!

We got a special treat this last Monday. Our Happy 15 group got a behind-the-scenes tour of the conference center. It was really interesting! (They were already breaking down the stage to prepare for the Christmas Devotional.) Plus we got to see the area where they do language interpretation. Amazing!  They interpret 94 different languages for every General Conference. And they have more than one interpreter for each language, plus a back up in case there’s a problem. (A fulfillment of D&C 90:11)
You may not be able to see this well, but these are all the languages that are interpreted.

We were told that during one conference session a man collapsed and the paramedics were called, but the man only spoke Farsi. Someone went to the interpretation area to see if anyone there spoke Farsi so they could communicate with the man. (They thought he may have had a seizure.) The interpreter they went to said, “Yes, I speak Farsi and I can help. And, I'm also a trained seizure nurse.” So, she was not only able to help the paramedics understand the man, but, she could give them helpful information for his care. Truly, the hand of the Lord was there!

Once a month we have a mission conference, and this week we got to attend that. We love our mission presidency! They are wonderful! One of the messages this week was on guarding your “spiritual identity” just as much as you guard your personal identity. We need a “spiritual firewall” to protect us from the false messages of Satan. (All the ways Satan tries to make us believe we are less than we are.) We have God's DNA and its important to remember that.

On Friday we were delighted to be able to visit with some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. Ken and Judy Malone were in the area, and they met us for dinner. It was great fun to catch up with them and to hear about their family and their plans for the future.

And . . I forgot to mention this earlier, but, since we’ve been on our mission, we’ve learned that we like persimmons! J When I was a child someone gave me a persimmon, and it was very bitter, so my whole life, I thought I didn’t like them. Then, recently, one of the sisters we visit/home teach gave us one and it was delicious!! A happy discovery!

Very early Friday morning I happened to catch a "test" of all the Christmas lights on the trees around the conference center. It made me so happy to see them, and excited to anticipate being around Temple Square at Christmas time. . .

A Full and Happy Week

15 OCT 2016
Its been a very full week. Though most of it was spent working on our usual mission assignments, there were other good things, too.
On Wednesday, we mailed off our absentee ballots, and, we also got our flu shots. (So, as one nurse said, we’re now “winterized.”) J
We also got a big surprise on Wednesday when Bob was called as the new zone leader! I will be his assistant. We feel like we barely got here, and didn’t expect this. It won’t be announced for a few more days, but, the current zone leaders are ready to hand things off to us! This will be interesting. . .
Friday we got to take a couple of classes at the Family History Library. One of them was on finding land records to help with genealogy research. I found the land grant patent for the 154+ acres my Grandfather Wade homesteaded in New Mexico in 1911. It was really exciting to find that! (For some reason many of New Mexico’s records (land and otherwise) are not on line, so I was happy to find this in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management records.)
After we finished our work on Friday, we met up with some old friends we knew in Missouri – from the Rolla Ward (our first ward in the church – since we were in the Berlin Servicemen’s Branch for only eight or nine weeks after our baptism.) Bob Talbert was the first bishop we had, and he and his wife, Bobbye, were tremendously welcoming and kind to us, and helped us become stronger in the church. They are also the ones who drove us to Utah during spring break of 1973 - and were our escorts for our first time in the temple. It was wonderful to see them again! They treated us to dinner and also invited us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. They live just south of Provo so we look forward to seeing them and some of their kids at Thanksgiving.
Then, having already had a wonderfully full day, we ended Friday by attending the fall concert of The Orchestra at Temple Square. It was fabulous! Wow! Loved it!
Every Saturday since we've been here, we've had errands to run, but, today we get to stay home and just rest. Case in point, at 11:30 a.m. I'm still in my pajamas. Aaaahhhhh.
I did manage to go online this morning and snag a couple of tickets for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert, which will be fun. They're not fabulous seats, but that's okay. We're looking forward to attending that in December.

More Mission Happenings

9 Oct 2016

As I write this, our hearts are drawn out to everyone affected by Hurricane Matthew. And, we’re especially praying for all our family and friends in North Carolina. Hope they are all safe and sheltered from the storm. 
We attended a wonderful dinner last night at our stake center. Our RS put on an international dinner. We have a lot of people here from other countries, so it was truly authentic foods from 13 different countries. I helped a sister from Armenia with some of her food prep and setting up. I also enjoyed getting to know her. She is Sister Zohrabyan and her mission assignment involves writing software for the Family History Library that is specific to research in Armenia.               

​Sister Zohrabyan with her son (who lives in Orem)
and all the beautiful food she made.

When I’m not auditing or scanning for the mission, I am often working on my own family history research. I’ve truly come to appreciate (more than ever) the work being done by indexers, everywhere. From time to time, in recent years, I have kind of dabbled with indexing because I thought it was a good thing to do. Until I came here, though, I really didn’t GET the need, and the urgency, for doing indexing. Of the millions and millions of records in the Family History Library, (and more are added every day) only about 30% have been indexed. 30%!!

When records are indexed they are easily searchable, and it makes the research go w-a-a-a-y faster. Without the indexing, once you locate a record, you have to go through the labor-intensive task of scrolling through every single page in hopes of finding what you’re looking for. I am SO grateful for indexers!!

This past Wednesday, we had our first “up-close” apostle sighting. We were on our way to lunch and passed Elder Bednar, in the hall, in conversation with a couple of other men (who were unknown to us).

Most days we have our lunch in the cafeteria located in the basement of the Church Office Building. One nice perk about that is that every day, we are serenaded by lovely piano tunes. The man who comes in each day to play for us is W. Herbert Klopfer, president of the Ensign 3rd branch (that’s the other branch in our mission. We’re in the Salt Lake 2nd branch.) 

Pres. Klopfer has a fascinating story. If any of you listen to the audio conversations on the Mormon Channel, you may have heard him tell it. He’s an amazingly accomplished musician and he and his wife co-wrote the hymn, “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth.”

He was born in East Germany in 1935. His family lived in a small town in the southern part of E. Germany. When it was clear that WWII was about to break out, the Church pulled all of their American missionaries and personnel out of Germany, and Pres. Klopfer’s father, though only 28 years old, was made the mission president for all of East Germany. His father was also drafted into the German army shortly after that, so, he had to wear two very different hats during that time. His counselors in the mission presidency were both too old to be drafted, so, when he was deployed to other areas, he communicated with them by phone and letter to carry on the business of the mission. (There were full-time German sister-missionaries still serving.) 

Eventually, as the war progressed, his father was captured, and, the family later learned that he died in a camp in Russia. In 1950, when he was 15 years old, Pres. Klopfer, his mother and his younger brother, made a daring escape into West Berlin (traveling through Checkpoint Charlie.) After they were safely in the west, their family was sponsored so they could come to the U.S.

At one time Pres. Klopfer was stake president in the Salt Lake Stake, and was the stake president to three different prophets — Presidents Benson, Hunter and Hinckley. He visited each of them as he served in that calling. 

And now, he serves as the branch president for one of our missionary branches — and he plays the piano for everyone in the COB during lunch. With his talent, he could command audiences in some of the best concert halls there are, and, yet, he comes each day — though largely ignored among all the people moving about, the rattling of dishes, and the hum of many conversations — and he plays the piano to enrich our day! We are blessed by his service!

And, we feel blessed to be serving where we are.

General Conference, Oct 1 & 2

2 October 2016

We’ve been enjoying General Conference this weekend! Like Pres. Uchtdorf, I, too, am awed by our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness for us! When he referred to the motto of Belfast, “What shall we give in return for so much?” my heart was touched. We have truly been blessed!
When Elder Hales talked about “quiet, unheralded service” I thought how that can apply to everyone serving in our mission (and probably to all who serve in the church, really.) Most of what each of us do is done “behind the scenes” and yet is so important. 
And, I loved when Sis. McConkie pointed out that prayer involves all three members of the Godhead. It truly is a sacred gift from our loving Heavenly Father that we’re able to commune with Him in this manner! 
Bob and I drove up to Immigration Canyon after we finished our assignments on Friday and enjoyed seeing a little bit of fall color – but, it’s not like what you see in the NC mountains. Made us miss home a bit. We also stopped at the This Is The Place monument on the way back.
We’re going back there next weekend with our mission social group. We’ll all drive up the canyon, then, stop on the way back for a picnic lunch at the monument. Since there are 15 in our social group we’ve decided to call ourselves the Happy 15. We’re going to try to do something together at least once a month.
 I was reminded today of something the senior missionaries were told at the MTC. “A true "senior moment" is when we recognize we are here to give our all to the Lord.” We are aiming to give all that we can to help the Lord’s work move forward.
Also, we finished the Book of Mormon challenge for September (Mark all reference to the Savior and His atonement), and have begun reading it again, for the October challenge (Liken the scriptures unto ourselves).