Love Being in the Temple

25 March 2017

As you know, Disneyland uses the tagline, “The happiest place on earth.” I mention that because, recently, there was a sister who spoke at one of our mission devotionals who said our mission is “like Disneyland for senior missionaries.” LOL

While that sometimes feels true — and, it is a privilege to be among so many good people working together to hasten the work of salvation — this has been a challenging week. I’m looking forward to a little down time this weekend to recharge – and, also, to being edified during the General Conference women’s broadcast tonight. I don’t have a ticket to attend it live, so will probably watch it on-line.

It is a blessing to have leaders who encourage, and buoy us up, and, who help us to draw closer to the Savior. One of the talks we read this week as part of our “Christ in You” readings is by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. It’s called “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father.” There is an audio version of it on line and it’s a talk I need to go back to. He speaks of how unconditional surrender [to the will of the Father] is what gives us victory, and yet, in the process we do not lose ourselves or who we are. That, in fact, we find our true self. I want to study this one more.

During their transfer day this week, we lost four of the young Elders who had been serving in our zone, and got six new ones — so, we now have two districts of young Elders in our zone. (Four in each district) We’d gotten kind of attached to the ones who were transferred out, and will miss them, but, are enjoying getting to know the new ones.

We went to the Bountiful Temple again yesterday, and, it was wonderful. I love being in the temple! All the cares of the world just wash away. . .

Then, last night we met up with the Hubbards and saw the latest movie version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Even though it’s the same story and songs we’re already familiar with, we enjoyed it.

We pray always for our loved ones at home and miss being with them.

It's Been a Happy and a Sad Week

18 March 2017

It’s been a happy/sad kind of week.

The good news is that in our Mission Conference, this week, we got to hear from Elder Brent H. Nielson, Executive Director of the Church's Missionary Dept. He quoted some of the verses from Helaman 7 where Nephi is saying how he would have liked to have lived in an earlier time, but, was consigned that “these are my days.” Then Elder Nielson said none of us should wish to be living in a different time. “There is no better time to live than right now!”

He told us some wonderful things about how the gospel is continuing to be spread throughout the world. One example was that 18 months ago we were given permission to open a mission in Turkey! (A country that is 98% Muslim!) Another example he used was the Philippines. He said if you squish all those islands together, they’d be about the size of Utah – only they have almost 100 million people living there. (Compared to less than 3 million in Utah.) The Philippine Islands weren’t officially opened for missionary work until 1961, but, by 1967 there was a Philippines Mission. In 1984, there were 76,000 LDS members there and, now, there are more than 728,000, with 21 missions, 2 temples, and more than 1200 LDS congregations!

Elder Nielson also held a Q & A at the end and there were a couple of different missionaries who had previously served in Cambodia and in Vietnam who asked about progress in those countries. It was interesting to hear about some of the work being done there. Another great meeting!

I haven’t mentioned any VIP sightings of late so I thought I’d say that a couple of weeks ago, we were in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and saw Sister Sheri L. Dew walk past. And, earlier this week, as I was getting off an elevator in the Church office building, the doors of an elevator right across from me opened and there was Elder Quentin L. Cook, talking with some other brethren!

However, we’ve also had some sadness this week.

Our hearts are broken for our friends, Bob and Tiffin Volpe, at the loss of their son, Travis, who died yesterday. Only 30, he was much too young! We are devastated for them.

I wrote, previously, about Sister Filip, and she continues to mend. But, on Sunday, another of our single, sister missionaries got a call that her son was diagnosed with brain cancer and wasn’t expected to live more than three or four days. (He had been feeling bad but wouldn’t go to the doctor. By the time he did, it was too late for them to do anything to try to save him.) She flew to Florida on Monday and her son died Thursday. He was in his early 50s. Like most of us, she never expected to bury any of her children.

On Wednesday, we learned that one of our Church-service missionaries went to the doctor because he thought he had a kidney stone. The doctor did a CT scan and there were no stones, but they discovered a large, cancerous mass. The last we heard they were still considering treatment options. We don’t know if he’ll be able to come back to missionary service or not. (As a retired engineer and programmer, he has served a vital role in part of our zone, and will be hard to replace.) He has a rough road ahead and we’re keeping him in our prayers, as well as our other friends who are facing difficult trials.

I don’t want to end this on a downer – so I’ll say that last night, we attended a wonderful concert in the tabernacle. It was fabulous! The Temple Square Chorale and the Orchestra at Temple Square performed an evening of “Mozart & Mendelssohn.” One cool thing was that our daughter, Laura, told us one of the soloist used to be their choir director in their ward in Greenville, N.C.! So, we were especially on the lookout for Andrew Crane. He has a wonderful voice! We really enjoyed the evening.

We were also given tickets, this week, to attend the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference, on April 2nd. Looking forward to being in the Conference Center for that! Plus, we secured a couple of tickets for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Easter Concert on April 14th, which should be great!

A Full and Special Week

11 March 2017

We had a special guest at our sacrament meeting this past Sunday. Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy was there. It was a fast and testimony meeting and he took a few minutes at the end to share some thoughts with us. It was wonderful! Such a great spirit! One thing he said was that while it is true that our earth life is a test, there’s only one question on the test — “How do I get back home?” 
Then, to answer that question, he referenced John 8: 27-29, where the Savior tells us that he does what Heavenly Father tells Him to do, and, also, that He does what pleases the Father.
Elder Cornish explained the difference between doing what you’re told to do, and doing that which is pleasing. He said when he was a boy, there were 6 children in his family and he was one of the younger ones. They lived in a small house in a neighborhood with other small homes, and people with modest incomes. In their family, they were assigned chores. The one chore all the children seemed to hate most was doing the dishes after dinner. He said he always did them when he was assigned because his mother’s rule was that if it was your turn to do the dishes you couldn’t go to bed until they were done. (He then commented on the amount of whining and complaining and bargaining and carrying on that he and most of his siblings did – making the task more difficult than it actually was.) Because his mother was firm, he did what he was commanded to do. His oldest sister, however, when it was her turn to do dishes, would get up from the table and immediately begin cleaning the dishes. She washed and dried and put them away, then she tidied the kitchen and swept the floor — all without complaint. SHE did what she was commanded to do, and, also what was pleasing to her parents.  
He bore testimony of the Savior and of the prophet – then said, as much as we love President Monson, he is not the one leading this Church. It is our Savior who leads us. (Even when we know these things, there is power in hearing it from a general authority.) He expressed gratitude for the service we give as missionaries and promised us that all our needs would be met while we are serving. The spirit was so strong! It was a great meeting.

I don’t think I ever mentioned the follow up report about all the glasses our previous branch (The Salt Lake 2nd Branch) collected and sent to Uganda just before Christmas. We sent 530 pairs of glasses, in various prescription strengths, and received a letter of profound gratitude from the Mission President there. He said before they received our boxes — there was one branch where the Relief Society sisters would pass around the one pair of glasses they had between them so they could take turns reading during a meeting. (It’s hard to imagine!) There were more pairs sent than they needed immediately, and the full-time missionaries have been distributing those in some of the poorer communities. 

And, I forgot to say last week that we had a visit from one of the young men who served his mission in the North Carolina, Raleigh Mission. At that time, he was Elder Grant Brewer. We got to know him when he taught a couple of discussions to one of our neighbors. Grant is now married and living in Carson City, Nevada. He, his wife and baby, and his parents came to SLC for a friend’s wedding, and we met up and spent a little time with them. We loved seeing him again and meeting his family.

It’s been kind of an exhausting week for me. One of the sisters in our zone (Sister Elena Filip, who is 75) fell on the ice, Monday, shattered her wrist and fractured her T-6 vertebrae. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the hospital with her, and also checking on her and arranging help for her after I took her home. She’s a strong woman and is doing remarkably well, but is in a lot of pain. I know she's doing as well as she is because of all the prayers in her behalf. She has good neighbors who’ve been very helpful, as well. “I’m surrounded by angels!” she said.

We also attended a special Family History meeting this week. It was great to hear all the testimonies born of this work, and to see how it can change lives. (For both the living and the dead.) The most interesting video we saw, “Redeeming the Dead Redeemed Me” was of a man who talked about how he overcame word of wisdom and pornography addictions by doing Indexing. He said he’d reached a really low point in his life and one day he looked in the mirror and said, “You are the worst person you know.” He started praying and reading scriptures and asked Heavenly Father to help him. He was struggling to do better. . .  Then, a friend he had known from church growing up was talking to him and said something about indexing and he asked what it was. Although he was no longer a member of the church, he started indexing and discovered that while he was doing that, he didn’t have the desire to do wrong things. (He had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to quit some of his vices, and was astonished that this work had the effect it did.) He continued to pray and read his scriptures every day, and, whenever he felt tempted to do the things he wanted to stop doing, he would do more indexing. (He got LOTS of indexing done!) :-) Within a few months, he had met with his bishop and was able to be re-baptized into the church. His testimony was a marvelous witness of the power of the spirit of Elijah and how doing family history work can help increase our personal righteousness!

Part of the D.I.P. Zone (who attended the Mt. Timpanogos Temple). L to R: Elder Frank Howe; Sister Marianne Howe; Sister Barbara Peterson; Sister Ikuko Ishikawa; Sister Corliss Clayton; Sister Beverly Corcoran; Sister Colleen Lee; Elder David Lee; Sister Ann Packham; Elder Leland Montague; Sister Marlene Bollinger; Sister Sandra Montague; Sister Connie Mason; Sister Patricia Martindale; Elder Alan Martindale, Sister Cindy Bergener; Sister Betty Crenshaw; Elder Bob Crenshaw

Yesterday our zone went to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple together, had lunch at the Wild Zucchini Grill, then took a tour of the Holdman Studios Stained Glass Factory at Thanksgiving Point! This studio often does work for the church and we got to see the stained glass windows that will go into the Rome, Italy temple. They're beautiful, of course! They asked us not to take pictures of them since the church prefers to publish their own photos, but here's one of the windows they are creating to install in another site. A really interesting tour!

Lots Of News this Week

4 March 2017
As I write I'm thinking of the news we received this week of three big events.

First, our daughter, Laura, was sustained as the Relief Society president in her ward in Greenville, NC this past Sunday. It’s a big calling, but we know she’s up to the task, and will do a great job. We wish her well!

Also, this week, we learned we’re going to become great-grandparents!! Our oldest granddaughter, Ryann, told us that she and Kyle are expecting a baby girl at the end of May and we can hardly wait to meet this new little one! (Although, with the mission, unless they can come here for a visit, this little one will be a toddler before we get to see her.) We’re grateful for facebook so we’ll at least see pictures!

Some friends of ours created a plaque to keep track of all their great-grands. (They are w-a-a-a-y ahead of us in that category — but it’s something to aspire to.)  ;-)  Their plaque has the name, birthdate, and parents’ names, plus, a tiny little pink or blue rhinestone to designate gender. We especially like that they titled their plaque “The Great Ones.”  Maybe we have one of these in our future! :-)

And, this morning, our granddaughter, Abby, is being baptized! We wish we could be there for this special day! Our hearts are in North Carolina, today, though we are in Salt Lake City. We would love to be at her baptism, and spend a little time with family. We’re so proud of her for making this important decision to follow the Savior. (Her mother has turned away from the church, and though we pray her heart will return one day, she tried to persuade Abby not to be baptized. Abby decided to anyway, though it was really hard for her to go against her mother's wishes, and we are very proud of her for making that choice. The good news is that, in the end, her mother chose to support Abby in her decision, even though it wasn't the one she wanted her to make.) This has been difficult for our son, John, as well — wanting Abby to be baptized and also wanting to keep peace in the family. We're glad he's the one who's baptizing and confirming Abby today.

As for our mission, I’ve mentioned before that we serve with a truly interesting variety of people, and we enjoy hearing their stories. In our mission devotional this week, an 84-yr-old sister missionary introduced herself as Sister Roberts. Then she said, “Before I got married, my name was Butts. B-U-T-T-S. — and it ruined my childhood!!” Then, she continued, “However, I didn’t have it as bad as my grandmother. Before she married, her name was Ellen Baer, and after she got married, she was Ellen Baer Butts. And, that’s a true story!”  :-D  She was delightful! She went on to say that her father died when she was only 8 years old, leaving her mother to raise her and her siblings alone. Her mother went to work in a munitions plant. Even though she was a single mom, struggling to feed and clothe her family, she took some of the money from every paycheck to buy shelf-stable food items to put into care packages for extended family members living in Germany. (This was in 1945, and people in post-war Europe were literally starving.) Her mother tried to get others to help, but, because the anti-German sentiment was so strong, no one would. There was a teacher in Germany who interpreted her letters for the family there. Once, this teacher sent a letter to Sister Roberts’ mother and pleaded, “Please. I don’t want to cause trouble. But, is there anyone there who could send my family some of that powdered milk? We have a small baby, and my wife is unable to nurse.” [probably because she was starving] Again, her mother asked others to help, and no one would. So, she started sending to that family, too. She kept sending packages of powdered milk, Spam, etc. every time she got paid. Once the Marshall Plan went into effect in 1948, they wrote to tell her they could get food now, so she didn’t need to send it anymore. I was impressed that she would do so much when she had little herself.

Another day this week, a sister in our zone, Sister Deeana Shelton, gave a spiritual thought during our zone devotional that I loved. So, I’m sharing it, as well.
Make Christ the Center of Your Day
A story is told of a woman who woke up one morning and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “I think I’ll braid my hair today,” she said. So, she did, and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up and had only two strands of hair on her head. “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today,” she said. So, she did, and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up and had only one hair on her head. “I know,” she said, “today I’ll wear my hair in a ponytail.” So, she did, and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up and had no hair on her head. She exclaimed, “Well, hallelujah! I don’t have to fix my hair today.” She didn’t. . . and she had a wonderful day! . . .
-Influenced by his parents’ counsel and example, young Gordon Hinckley also learned to approach life with optimism and faith.
President Hinckley taught: “In a dark and troubled hour, the Lord said to those he loved: ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ (John 14:27) These great words of confidence are a beacon to each of us. In him we may indeed have trust. For he and his promises will never fail.”
No matter what challenges we face, we, too, can have a wonderful day, if we make Christ the center of our day.