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!

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