Saving this space for a future post on the stake conference we attended Saturday and Sunday.
27 January – Friday – We were in the office in the morning and the afternoon but the rest of the time we pretty much shopped and caught up some things at home. Oh and we took naps – something we seem to need more here than anywhere else we have served.
While in line at Ross Dress for Less, I got to talk to a young woman who I found out had three children and two of them were autistic. We talked about how they were a blessing to her and not a burden. I gave her a pass-along card about families. I felt the Lord put us in line together so she could have the chance to understand the Plan of Salvation.
I spent a good amount of time reading, studying and pondering Moses 6 and 7. Elder George – our District Leader – had given this as part of our homework for the week. Earlier I had read the scripture chain he had given us but I wanted to really do a close reading of 6 which led me to read 7 also because it repeats and polishes the lessons in 6.
28 January – Saturday
P-day and we basically stayed home. While we were taking a walk around the complex I took pictures of lots of the hibiscus that was blooming.
Along the way we ran into this young woman walking her twins – Jackie and Cooper. If you look closely the one on the right has one dark brown eye and one white eyes. She said she brought him home first because no one wanted him. She got his brother a little later. I gave her a pass-along card with the risen Christ. She mentioned she knew lots of LDS…like an idiot I did not ask her more about this. Another missed opportunity I am afraid.
When I went to Publix this morning to get some things, I found this big bird walking around in front of the store. It seems that many of the birds in the area have become scavengers. I have seen lots of smaller birds and ducks wandering around parking lots and other areas near stores but this is the first time I have seen a bird this big.
The center picture is of the Lowe’s garden shop we found the other day while out getting to know the area around the ward we are assigned to. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to plant and grow flowers and other plants. Both in and outside the house. I would go crazy here where everything grows year round. They have gorgeous bougainvilleas in all colors and for next to nothing compared to Utah. If you look closely you can see some bougainvillea trees through the door.
The picture of Mary is just to show off her great smile. I took it weeks ago during some shopping trip.
I am going to do today backwards because it was in the evening that we got to meet Jerry and his owners the Gamboas. Sister Gamboa serves in the YW and Daniel was made a deacon the first Sunday we attended the Weston ward meetings. Jerry is Daniels pride and joy. As we were leaving Daniel gave Mary a real compliment by telling her that she was the first woman who was not afraid to touch and pick-up Jerry – he said most of them ‘freak out.’ I will have to show him the picture of her with a huge python wrapped around her neck – that will really impress him. We left them with some pass-along cards and a challenge to pray that the Lord would prepare someone to receive them.
Earlier as we dropped off the mail at the post office. I noticed that the man sitting in the big PO truck waiting for it to be loaded was the same one that I had talked to a few days ago. When I talked to him then I failed to hear the spirit tell me to give him a pass-along card. But today as we talked I gave him one and told him about mormon.org. I feel that the Lord had prepared him and his family and it was important that he be introduced to the Church.
Before we went to the post office, we were at the office and there was nothing for me to do so I took the opportunity to go through the scripture chain on baptism that Elder George. I had read it rather quickly on Wednesday but in the quiet of the office I was able to read, study and ponder what was written and it became much more meaningful to me. I was especially enlightened by Moses 6:59-60. 59 says you by living the gospel plan you can enjoy eternal life here on earth as well as well as afterwards. 60 explains how the atonement makes this possible.
Earlier in the day I found that even rather dull and repetitive work can be fun if you have someone to share it with. It comes back to President Monson’s comments about attitude and how ours often determines how we feel about experiences. I also think of Elder Wirthlin’s conference talk about how we should smile and laugh when we meet problems. Everyday experiences can become important learning experiences if we take the time to think them through.
The morning started with Mary dropping me off at PepBoys to pick up a car that needed to be back at the office at 9:30 because a couple was coming in to purchase it. The counter men at PepBoys now know us and got me out quickly and I made it back to the office with 5 minutes to spare.
It was a good day from start to finish. But then we have found that every day can be a good day while we are a mission if we decide to make it one.
Early today Sisters Hong and Holder called and asked if we could go with them to see a sister who has been investigating the Church for many months – they are the third set of missionaries to work with her. They said she had some questions and concerns that they thought we might be able to help with. We of course were thrilled to do this.
We went into the office and did what was needed there and then decided we would go out and drive by the house that we were going to go tonight. We are still feeling our way around the area and even with the GPS we sometimes get lost.
The architecture of the chapel is perfect for the area as the main entrance shows. The man in the far right of the middle picture is the foreman who the Lord provided with a Spanish pass-along card. We looked for something that identified the chapel as being an LDS building and found it on one side. I just noticed that none of the pictures show the bright orange accent that is being used.
After doing that we had some lunch and then decided that since we were close we would visit the Weston/Pembroke Pines chapel that is under repair. When we got there a painting crew was working on the outside of the chapel. They were putting special waterproofing paint on to try and keep the insides drier.
I started talking to the crew chief and as we were getting ready to leave I gave him a pass-along card. He looked at it and said “I bet you can read this.” I thought he meant the small type on the bottom that says www.mormon.org. But he pointed out that the information was in Spanish – his native language. I was really surprised because I usually do not have any Spanish cards in my pocket and I had just chosen the first one in the stack. I realized that the Lord knew I would need one today and somehow got it into my pocket. I will never know if the card touches the man and his family but I do know that he got the one he needed.
The picture on the left shows the Northern end of the site where the construction trailers and material storages will be. The one on the right shows the South end where there will be parking. It was not until I got home that I realized I did not take a picture of the Central section where the actual temple will be built. Maybe I will add this later after there is actually something to see.
From there we went to see the Fort Lauderdale mission site and there was some work going on. Brother Barry, who has been assigned to over see the construction came over and talked to us. He will be here until it is dedicated and then he hopes to be assigned another temple. He feels that working on temples is the highpoint of his professional life.
I mentioned to him that he will probably have a lot of local and general authorities stopping by to see how it is doing. He told me that would not happen. The only authorities who are authorized to visit the site are the First Presidency, the Twelve and the Presiding Bishopric.
The site is right next to a major freeway and the building itself will sit on the far West of the site so that it will be seen by thousands of people each day. I imagine it will become a popular place to visit by members and non-LDS alike.
As we were on our way home from visiting the constructions sites, Mary got a call from Sister Collins saying that we needed to go in and do the mail. So we did that and then came home to have dinner and prepare to go out with the sisters. I had been thinking about what we might share with the investigator that would help with the concerns she had shared with the missionaries. But I decided that I would just have to trust that the Lord would help me say the right things.
When we got to the area the sister called and said they would like us to go to another appointment first because they had the opportunity to teach a lesson to a new convert that we knew but there would also be another woman there who had showed reluctance to have the missionaries teach her. While we were there the sisters did an awesome job teaching and while I added a few thoughts I spent about half my time trying to keep three young children from interrupting the lesson. I showed them pictures from Africa and that helped.
I think the lesson was a success in that the non-LDS young woman did read with us from the Book of Mormon and seemed to be interested in what was being taught.
We then walked through the block and went to the appointment that we had been asked to attend. It was an amazing time. While the sisters pretty much sat there, Mary and I were able to talk to her about how being members and being sealed in the temple helped us see our marriage from an Eternal perspective. Then I was able to share my own conversion experience and some other experiences from my own life and from the scriptures of how the Lord answered prayers when I or others were going through a ‘why is this happening to me’ situation. After bearing a strong testimony I felt that I should ask her if she received a witness to what she had been taught would she be baptized in two weeks. She said she would and I told her the sisters had a calendar that would help her reach that goal. The spirit was so strong in the room that it was hard to leave.
It was truly great to be able to be part of teaching a very talented woman who will not only receive much from joining the kingdom but will bring so much to it.
It was an Awesome Wednesday all day!
I think I have written about our friends the Taylors who are on their fourth mission as a couple. They are serving in Botswana and they send out weekly letters about their experiences. This week they shared a number of stories and the one below seemed to kind of sum up how the Lord is in charge of his church and that missionaries are called by a prophet to where their talents are needed.
“We also visited with another young woman who is an investigator that will be baptized next Sunday. She is the sister to a young member who is a deaf mute. It was interesting talking with Elder Knight, one of our young missionaries. He said that when he was in the 6th grade his teacher taught the class sign language. He had never used it and didn’t think he ever would, but when he was transferred here his new companion said they had an investigator they were having a hard time teaching because she was a deaf mute. Elder Knight knew why then he had learned sign language and was able to teach and baptize this young lady and now her sister. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord works!
Yes indeed it is wonderful how the Lord works and we need to remember that as we go out and serve in any calling in the Church. Who the Lord calls he qualifies.
Today was a joyful Sunday. Yesterday I read Psalms 100 and thought how this has been part of my life since I was 10 or 11. At that time I was going to the Grace Methodist Church because it was just a half block from our house. Although our family was not any particular religion and we never went to church as a family, they thought everyone should get to have some religious training so I attended the closest Christian church.
One of the programs at the church was for young children to receive their own special bible if they memorized the 100th Psalm. So I did and got my bible. I would love to be able to say I still have it but it disappeared some where along the way after I stopped going to church when I was 13 or 14. But the Psalms 100 never got lost and although I could not repeat it perfectly I always remembered the part about making a joyful noise unto the Lord and coming into his presence with singing. So as I read it this morning I decided that I wanted this to be a Joyful Sunday and it was.
Mary played the organ for sacrament and we got to hear two beautiful talks by the Smiths. Sister Smith has just been put in as Primary president and brother Smith was made executive secretary about the same time. They were nervous about their talks – we sat just behind them on the stand – but I must say that they spoke from their hearts about their own experiences with goal setting and it was great.
For Sunday school we went to Gospel Principles where the lesson was on the Gift of the Holy Ghost and brother Wood gave a very good lesson and afterwards we made an appointment to go over to one of the recent convert’s home to help them with genealogy so they can get some names to do when they go and do baptisms at the temple in February.
During Priesthood the lesson was on Elder Holland’s conference talk about missionary work and I was able to get in some good comments on using pass-along cards …some of the HP even requested some to give out this week… and a good plug for senior missions. There were also some very positive thoughts from other members of the groups.
In the evening we went over to the Perez home to have dinner. We were not sure which was their home so I pulled into one of the driveways and asked the young man who was there if it was the Perez home and he said no so we knew it was the next one over. After I parked the car at the Perez’s I walked back over to their neighbors – they had just moved in a week ago so they really did not know the Perezs – and talked to the young man, found out about him and his family and gave him a pass-along card. The Lord does give us chances to do missionary work if we are open to the spirit.
Dinner was great and afterwards we got to see one of their daughter’s art work. She graduated from the Y in December as an art major. We had a great time talking about art and artists which is something I do not think she has got to do much since she got home. All in all it was a nice meal and good conversation…we even got some plugs in for missionary work as I suggested that they try to get to know their new neighbors and invite them to Church.
So you can see it was a Joyful Sunday and we did serve the Lord with gladness.
We went to the Plantation chapel early so Mary could practice the organ before District Meeting. She has been asked to play for sacrament on Sunday and since she has not played the organ for quite a while she felt she needed the practice. As I think I have mentioned before she has been playing for Relief Society since the first week we went to Weston/Pembroke Pines wards meetings.
While she was doing that I got the van washed…the constant wind off the ocean, rain, the many trees that are constantly shedding leaves, and the ash from burning cane fields makes it very hard to keep cars clean which is why a good car wash here seems to be a real money maker.
As you can tell from my weekly posts District Meeting is always a treat. It even extra special today because President and Sister Anderson came to the meeting. The handbook training was done by the only new elder in the district, elder Plowman who is now elder Meredith’s companion. Elder George did his normal great job on the conversion process. He does very well at getting the district to set and commit to district goals that stretch them but are always reachable. We have seen that they respond by succeeding to reach most of them. We hope that we contribute some meaningful thoughts at DM but I know we receive more than we give.
Elders Meredith and Plowman – they had a ton of investigators at sacrament meeting last week. Sister Hong and her infectious smile. I missed taking her picture last week at our Last Lunch so I got it today.
After DM and lunch we went to the office where I found that while Mary had things to do I had time on my hands. So I shredded old files. It is not a job that I particularly like but I realized that it was something that needed to be done and that I needed to have the right attitude of service. Not all jobs in the office are exciting but they are all necessary.
My friend the touchy shredder. Try to feed it too much or too fast and it just stops until you repent and say you are sorry.
Another task that takes more patience than skill is cutting out chapel cards. They are made as missionary tools for each ward and branch. Some are made in two or three languages. Notice on the sign in front of the chapel it says “Legliz de Jezi de Sen de Denye Jou” which is the name of the Church in Haitian Creole. Talk about a foreign mission experience…Southern Florida is it!
These three pictures were taken on the 13th when all the couples got together at the Mission Home because the Graffs who served here before we came were in town to go to the temple with some members they had been close to while they were here. When the couples get together there is always lots of good food and chatter. And there is always a picture to remember the great time we had.
Kristy posted these two pictures on her blog I love the one where Colin’s tiny hand is gripping Kristy’s thumb.
This was taken a couple of weeks ago…maybe 3…and I just got it from Elder Clark. I did not have one on my camera because I could not remember how to set the delay! This is an excellent district and zone leaders.
Left to right – Elders George, Smoot, Clark, Beard, Meredith, Stohlton. Front row Sisters Mills, Hong and Holder and of course us. Sister Mills went home soon after this was taken and Elder Stohlton went on last Thursday. Other than that the district stayed the same. Elders Clark and Beard are the Zone Leaders.
Today we were at Church from 11:15 to about 5:30. First we attended PEC meeting, then we had the block meetings, and after that there was a baptismal service for three children.
While we were waiting to go into the PEC meeting sister Lundrigan, the new Relief Society president, came up and we started talking. We asked about how it was to go from being Primary president directly to Relief Society president and shared some our history with her. Somehow as we talked we mentioned that we had served is South Africa and it turns out her family came from South Africa. Somehow it came up that we knew a couple named Blackburns and she got excited. It turned out that her mother knew Elder Blackburn back when he was a missionary in South Africa. Some years later when brother and sister Lundrigan needed a sponsor so they could immigrate to the US from Canada, her mother called the Blackburns and they were happy to sponsor them.
We told her about meeting the Blackburns when they first came to the Durban mission and that we kept in contact with them through Facebook and e-mails. She did not realize that they would be coming home in March and I gave her their blog address. The LDS Church is a small world indeed.
There is a very spiritual story about the baptism that was held today. It started when Fabriana Lima was baptized around Christmas time. Her road to baptism is very special in itself but that is another story. In her testimony at today’s baptism she told how for some reason she walked down her street and knocked on the door of a family she did not know at all. After getting to know the mother she told her about her conversion to the LDS church and asked if she would like to have the missionaries come over. The mother and her three children were taught by the assistants – Elders Neeley and Kealamakia – and the children were ready to be baptized today and hopefully the mother will join them next week.
Fabriana mentioned that going to their home and asking if she could talk to them was something she never did. But since she has been baptized she wants to share her joy with others.
I was asked to give the opening prayer and be a witness. As I stood and watched the first young woman enter into the font, I received a witness that the spirit was there and that she was ready to be baptized. This took all doubt from my mind about the wisdom of three children being baptized before their mother was ready. It is the Lord’s Church and He is in charge.
Since we have been here the Weston Ward has had more baptisms in 2 months than they have had in any 12 month period. The work is really starting to move forward in this area. We are winning…