Went to Costco and besides getting what we needed I bought the traditional poinsettia and a non-traditional live Christmas tree. It is a Norfolk pine that is about 2 feet tall and came with some gold ornaments. Mary brought some South African ornaments and the nativity ornament we bought in Santa Fe earlier this year. We still need some small lights and a few more balls but I had to take pictures and post them so everyone could see we are going to have a very, merry Christmas.
On the 19th I wrote about Zone Conference and mentioned a program that President started here called ‘Harvesting the Field” where the missionaries offer to come in and leave a blessing on the home. It has been much more successful than just tracting but the missionaries need to be bold and bear testimony if they really want to get in and bless the home. President Anderson taught this and told the missionaries if they would prayerfully and with authority bear testimony of the blessings that the home would receive that people would invite them in.
In this week’s letter from the President he shared a number of experiences that missionaries had written to him. This is just one:
“This last week after Zone Conference, we had District Meeting the next day. We talked a lot about Harvesting with testimony. After District Meeting we went out and Harvested. We used that energy and excitement that we had just learned about and used our testimony as well. The first door that we knocked they let us in and we blessed them. After that we went to another door and they let us in as well. It was really cool. We haven’t seen success with harvesting like this in a long time. The next day we were out harvesting and the first 3 people that talked to us, we were able to bless. And yesterday we went back to one of the houses and they let us teach them and the lesson was really good. We are now teaching the others. We have seen so much success these last 3 days with harvesting. It is so cool to be able to see how open people become when you testify with the spirit.
It really is cool…we are winning!
The other day Cindy asked if I had started growing plants yet and I told her all I so far was a house plant that I bought at a local supermarket. But on Saturday when we were out driving around in the far country – an hour or so away – we came across some nurseries and I had to stop and get something. I ended up with a beautiful hanging basket of New Guinea Impatiens and a nice bougainvillea. So the plant life around the Piers homestead is growing. Plants here are very reasonable – about 50 – 75% of what we pay in Utah. At least they are when you get them directly from a nursery. I am sure I will add more plants as we go along.
I spend much of my time in the office helping Elder Beagley who is the fleet manager and has the joyful job of trying to keep the cars in the mission in running condition. Most accident damage repairs are done by a local firm called 2nd Generation which was one of the place we went to yesterday. They are mounting bike racks on the new cars that we recently received to replace some old ones. When the cars read about 50,000 miles they are replaced and then the old ones are sold off to members or sent back to Salt Lake to be sold. I do not think most members realize how much work is involved in just keeping a mission running from day to day. It can often feel like it is not very spiritual but the truth is that the army of Israel would not function very well with out the support troops keeping thing flowing. After just a couple of weeks in the office I have much greater respect for all those who helped us as we served in Indonesia and South Africa.
Mary and I spoke on Sunday in the Weston ward. As with the talk I gave in our ward before we started in at the MTC mine was focused on Elder Hollands talk in October conference. I really did not want to use the introduction to the ward where we will be serving for the next 17 months to be about senior missionary work so I tried to write a number of other talks that were less missionary centered. I ended up writing 3 1/2 other talks but I never felt good until I just trusted the Lord and outlined a talk about couple missionary work.
When we got on the stand and I looked over the members of the two wards…Weston and Pembroke Pines wards are meeting together while their building is being repaired…I realized that from where I sat there did not appear to be more than 4 couples who are of the age that the bishops could call to immediately go on a mission. I immediately started thinking of how I could use one of the other talks to be centered on member missionary work and not couples.
I was never nervous but as I ran through ideas, nothing really jelled so I decided I really had to trust the Lord and get up and start talking. So that is what I did and ideas and words just started flowing into my mind. I can not really remember most of what I said or what triggered me to share some of the stories but I do know that the Lord kept his end of the bargain and that at least one person and perhaps more had the opportunity to hear what they needed to hear.
The Lord does bless his missionaries.
In looking back through the last month of posts, I realized that I had not written one of the blessings that we received already from accepting this call to serve. The Harmons – the young couple who are watching over our house while we are gone – told us that they are going to take the money they are saving by house sitting for us to help support Jeff’s parents on a full time mission. So before we even left for Florida we got to see one of the reasons we were called. I am sure there will be others but in some ways they will just be bonuses.
We decided it was time for us to do a little exploring on our P-day so we headed North, went to Palm Beach and looked at the sea before turning West and going to Lion Country Safari. We traveled about 100 miles and enjoyed the trip greatly.
Walking to the beach after parking the car I came across these porpoise trying to get back to the sea. Notice Mary’s wind blown hair – the wind felt great. Finally a picture perfect shot of the sea off of Palm Beach.
After the beach we went to Lion Country Safari to try and capture a little of the feeling of a game drive in South Africa. We did get close to the rhinos and got to see a black buck which we had not seen before.
We had not seen this color wildebeest – In SA we saw blue ones. No game drive would be complete without zebras and impalas. We will go back when it is not so crowded and spend more time with the animals.
Thanksgiving is always a difficult day when we are on a mission because we are away from our family. But we do have the opportunity to share it with a group of wonderful missionaries.
When we were in South Africa and Indonesia we were only away for one Thanksgiving but we will celebrate two Thanksgivings and two Christmases away from home. In South Africa we invited all the missionaries in the Richards Bay zone over for dinner. In Indonesia President Marchant and his wife invited all the couples in the Barat Zone to come to the mission home for dinner.
Today we were invited over by President and sister Anderson to come to the mission home and share Thanksgiving with them and the other couples. The Andersons provided the main items of turkey, stuffing and delicious yams, while the couples brought other necessaries and the desserts.
It was a big success – I was very surprised to find that I enjoyed sister Anderson’s dressing as much as our traditional one. Sister Beagley made some wonderful cakes – pumpkin, pecan, banana cream and an amazing apple. All in all it was outstanding.
After dinner and introductions of the couples to the Beutlers and ourselves we played a game where the sisters clobbered the elders. Sister Steimle turned out to be a champion guesser of holiday song from just a few scribbles on the board. It was a lot of fun.
We took a group picture that I will post here as soon as the President sends it to us.
Back home we tried to contact our family so we could chat with them on Facetime but as I am writing this we have only contacted Bob’s family. Hopefully before the night is out we will get ahold of the others.
The road that runs along in front of the Plantation chapel also run along a canal – there are lots and lots of canal in the area as well as lots of small lakes which catch the volumes of water that keep falling from the skies. I had noticed that almost any time we drove along this canal there were people fishing with these long poles. I decided that I would stop today and ask them what they were fishing for. A very nice man explained that they were fishing for mullet, the pole is 20 feet long and they fish with worms. I stopped again after our meeting which lasted about 2 hours and asked how they were doing. They had not caught anything and had not even had a bite. However the little minnows regularly ate their bait so they had to continually replace their worms. I wondered why they did not use spinning rods which are much lighter and easier to cast but I guess the 20 foot pole is traditional. Maybe some sunny p-day I will give it a try.
We went to our first district meeting for the Fort Lauderdale West district. We have always enjoyed meeting with the missionaries and to share in their training and spirit. There are four elders and two sisters in the district. The ZLs also attend each meeting so all together there were 10 of us.
There was some training from the white handbook, on how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in our teaching and then a role play on setting a baptism date. Along the way sister Mills shared how she uses four verses in Alma 36 to explain the steps of repentance that I felt was a great tool for teaching this important concept to investigators.
The DL is elder Meredith and his companion is elder Stohlton, Sister Holder and Sister Mills, Elder Farr and Elder Valderama.
The ZLs are elder Beard and Anderson. I managed to get them to all pretty much hold still for a group picture. It is going to be a pleasure to work with these fine young missionaries.
We went to the Weston ward for the first time today. We started with a Ward Council meeting that was a real pleasure to go to because almost all the time was spent talking about people and what could be done to help them in some way. The Relief Society came with a list of sisters who they had concerns for as did the other leaders. Bishop Rampton seemed to know about the members under discussion and made assignments to handle others.
Sacrament meeting was interesting because the Weston ward and Pembroke ward are meeting together in the Plantation ward chapel while their building is being repaired. The bishoprics take turns each month conduction sacrament. It seems that the members of the two wards blend together perfectly. It makes me think of Moroni 7 where Mormon tells the saints that they are peaceful…that is how it felt to me. It truly seemed like a household of saints.
In the evening we went to Bishop Rampton’s house for dinner. We were able to meet his lovely wife Jennifer and their two charming daughters Chloe and Shiloh. We had a delicious meal – topped off by some of the best pineapple we have had in a long time and a rich delicious Texas sheet cake. We talked about the ward, missions, families, and such. Before we left we committed them to select a date by which they will have someone prepared to have the missionaries.
It was truly a very good Sunday.