It's Still Winter

25 February 2017

As we’ve been studying the New Testament this year, and reading in Jesus the Christ, I keep coming back to the question, “What think ye of Christ?” Sometimes, it seems hard to always keep Him at the center of our thoughts and of our life. Or, perhaps, it isn’t really hard – but, it certainly takes focus. I'm trying to get better at that. . 

We had a couple of teaser days of almost spring-like weather this week, but then it snowed again, and it’s definitely still winter, here. I have a “countdown” sign just outside our cubicle at the office reminding us there are only 3 more Mondays until spring!
Early Thursday morning view from our window 

We were given free tickets to a concert by the Utah Symphony Friday night. What a treat! There’s nothing that compares to a live performance of good music! The first piece, by a Hungarian composer, Johann Hummel, was truly delightful, and the next number was a complete contrast of style. It was by a contemporary composer, Michael Jarrell, and, for me, it was kind of like listening to abstract expressionism. It was fun to find out later that was the composer’s intention. He wanted the listener to “hear” the colors. Bob didn’t like it, but, I found it interesting, and it was well performed. The second half of the concert was Brahms symphony no. 4, opus 98, so, for that, the orchestra lost half the percussion section, while more than doubling the strings. That part of the program was also excellent, and was much more to Bob’s liking. . .

I completed a quilt top this week. Of course, this would have taken me less than a week to assemble at home, but, my sewing time here is so hit and miss, it has taken me six months! (Can you believe we've already been here 6 months??)
Now I have to decide if I will take it home as is and finish it after the mission – or - if I should try to finish it here. I’m leaning toward taking it home as is. We don’t have much room in the car for all our stuff, and a completed quilt would take up more space.

Bob has started physical therapy on his shoulder and his knee. Hopefully that will improve things for him before long. He doesn't have much pain tolerance.

We hear the weather has been wonderful in NC this week. Sigh. . . :-)

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:



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 or 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)