Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Month of Miscellaneous Pictures…

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In Africa and Indonesia we took pictures of exotic wild animals. In South Florida most of the time the animals we see are small and not too exotic…crocodile of course are not small and are exotic. The two lizards are special because they are black instead of brown or gray. I love the texture and color of the bark. Often when we walk out to our car or arrive home, these two cats are sunning themselves in the neighbor’s window. We also have a small dog as a neighbor that barks when we pass its window.

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Ducks, ducklings, egrets and other birds are also our everyday neighbors. I have recently started feeding them and it does not take long before the different species gather to take part.

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One of the fun things to do is to feed the turtles. For months we did not even know we had turtles in the lake but elder Sommerfeldt show a couple to me. Now when I go out to feed the ducks I throw some bread on the waters. Last night there were a dozen or more turtles at our feeding with one brave one coming up on the land to get his share.

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Of course being with the missionaries – young and old is one of the great blessings of serving a mission. The end shot is the Fort Lauderdale district..Elders Taylor, Wilson, Rasmussen, Beard (DL) Grant and Plowman. We meet once a week at the Fort Lauderdale chapel which is an older chapel that has a very mature setting. The seniors get together now and then…this is a picture at The Olive Garden where we had a farewell lunch for the Steimles who started for home on the 27th.

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One of the highlights of any mission is attending a baptism and feeling the spirit as some of God’s children start down the path that can lead to Eternal life. This family of three – with a forth joining them a week later – were fellowshipped by a member of the Weston Ward and taught and baptized by the assistants – Elder Hansen, Giorgino, and Kealamakia. Mary plays for the Weston baptisms. President and Sister Anderson – here with the Evans – go to as many as they can but with the whole mission baptizing most weeks they can only be at a few.

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Because of the announcement of another stake in Indonesia and a chat I had with Curt Roper,  I went back and looked through pictures from our first mission. Elder Tuxworth was one of those missionaries who always always a joy to be around because he was just plain good natured. I took this picture of Elders Whitmore, Roper and Thiemann on the day before elder Whitmore was to start to head home after a well served mission. We got to know Elders Roper and Thiemann while we were in the MTC and got to serve with them when we arrived in Jakarta about 3 weeks after they got there. The last picture is of one of our wonderful Extensive English classes on graduation day. All pictures from 2007…mission memories.

28 April 2012 – Man Plans – God Commands

I know I owe a whole lot of posts here but I have been lazy about posting but today we had an experience that I could not delay posting about so I will just put it in out of order.  Hopefully I will catch up the missing two weeks some time soon.

 

 

 

Man plans – God commands. 

We had planned to take a p-day drive up to Port St. Lucie to deliver a package but also just to get away from the house for the day. Of course when we woke this morning it started raining and it did not look like it was likely to stop. Since it is a two hour drive up there and another two hours back I was not excited about doing it in the rain. Just after we had decided that we would put our trip off for a more pleasant day, brother Silva from the Weston Ward bishopric called and asked if we could attend a baptism at 3:00 for a young man who’s family got baptized last Sunday. He asked if Mary could play the piano and if I would give a short talk on baptism. We of course agreed.

We decided to go shopping at Target to get some salami and other things and on the way home we stopped at the Bagel Store and had a breakfast/lunch. Mine was just OK and the next time I will go back to the chicken salad sandwich.

We went to the baptism and at 3:00 no one was there except ourselves, bishop Rampton and his wife and brother Silva. The assistants came about 20 minutes – elder Hansen was to do the baptism. Sisters Hong and Geest showed up a little later with a lady they had just met and invited to come see the baptism. While we were waiting for the family to show up bishop Rampton and I waited in the foyer and talked about different things. As we were standing there a man drove up and stopped opposite the doors and looked in to the building for a while before driving off. We thought that was a little strange and so when a few minutes later the car appeared again I went out to see if I could be of help.

I met Mark Zimmerman who said he was trying to decide if he should come in. He is a non-member who just got back from a conference of some kind in Salt Lake. I mentioned that we were there for a baptism and invited him in to watch. He said he was not a member and it was open for anyone to watch. So he came in and I introduced him to the missionaries.

A little later the family showed up and the reason they were late was because they were picking up a woman who is a good friend of the mother and they wanted her to see the baptism. 

The baptism service went well. There were 9 missionaries, 4 members of Weston ward, 4 members of the family who’s son was being baptized and 3 investigators. It made a nice size group. Mary played and I spoke about the baptism prayer and how special the words ‘having authority’ were! 

We found out before the service that it was originally set for 10:30 but if it had gone off as originally planned Mark Zimmerman and the investigator that the sisters brought would not have had the opportunity to see the baptism, feel the spirit and be introduced to the missionaries.

Men plan and the Lord commands.

Another Week in the Office…and other things

 Pictures to be added a little later….

14 April 2012 – Saturday

I am sitting at the computer trying to think of what to write about for the week. Since I am not keeping up my journal on a day to day basis, some of the best experiences fall through the cracks. 

Monday April 9 – turned into a busy day because things kept coming up that had to be taken care of. We are now opening the office at 8:00 or close there to and are closing it up between 4:30 and 5:00. Mary continues to learn how to be mission secretary I continue to learn the ins and outs of being financial secretary. 

Besides that I take care of the phones, help elder Beagley when I can and do odd jobs as they come up. 

Tuesday April 10 –  we went to District meeting which not only moved from the Plantation to Ft Lauderdale chapel but also it seems moved from 10:30 to 10:00 without us knowing it. So we arrived after the meeting had been going for 30 minutes. Elder Hanson was there with Elder Castillo as was the new zone leaders – elder Rippstein and Fitts. Elder Beard is the new district leader and he was his usual positive self in getting the district pumped up to be successful by setting meaningful goals for baptisms and baptismal dates for the transfer. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

Wednesday April 11 – was busy in the morning but by the afternoon things were very quiet and seemed to go on forever. At times it seems every couple in the mission except the Beutlers are in the office and then there will be no one except Mary and I.

During the day I worked with Elder Beagley to try and get his vehicle records in sync with everything. I also made new gas card and vin # lists for him to try and make it easier to find out who has what when he can not get to a computer.

Thursday April 12 – was interesting because I got a call from the father of a missionary about his son’s personal credit card. Since the father and son could not talk directly I got to be the middleman as they tried to work it out with the bank. It went on most of the day and when I went home I was not sure what if anything had been settled.

The other excitement for the day was that all the couples went to Olive Garden for lunch to say goodbye to the Steimles who will be leaving at the end of the month. Even the Collins came in despite elder Collins back still hurting. 

Friday April 13 – in the morning I called the father and found out that he had worked out the problem with the bank and then I called the elder to tell him not to worry any more. The only other excitement for the day was we got back some checks from a landlord who was getting paid by both ourselves and Orlando for an apartment. It turned out that the financial secretary in Orlando did not realize one of the Stuart apartments were still on his batch payments list and approved the payment when he should have put it as ‘do not pay.’

Friday afternoon as I was working with Elder Hansen he mentioned that he thought missionaries coming into the field today were much better prepared to teach and become successful than his group from 2 years ago. I mentioned that my neighbors was one of those involved in changing the teaching program at the MTC that made this possible.

I heard elder Kealamekia say that we led the English speaking missions in number of new investigators last week. As President Mann always said, you have to keep putting people into the top of the hopper if you wanted to keep having people to teach and baptize. 

I almost forgot to mention that on Monday we got the news that new couple will be coming to the mission in May. The President did not know they were even called but will be happy to get them. It seems that when your mission is being successful, you get blessings you do not expect. The McCormicks are coming as Member and Leadership Support missionaries. It will be interesting to find out where President Anderson is inspired to use them. If they were up in Stuart or down in Homestead, they could cut down on a lot of travel by Elders Sommerfeldt and Evans. Wherever the President puts them it will be where the Lord wants them.

Back to Saturday April 14 –  P-day and we spent it alternating between cleaning the house and just relaxing. Since Wednesday I have been reading through the conference talks on the computer and pasting important thoughts into a study journal. After I am done I hope to go through it regularly and catch the spirit that I felt as I watched and then read the talks by the Lord’s chosen servants. 

President Uchtdorf’s great bumper sticker – “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

I have been feeding the ducks and other birds that show up around the apartment pieces of bread. Today I got not only ducks but the white ibis and a smaller brown bird that I have not been able to identify. What really surprised me was how easily the ibis’s long beak could break up even the toughest bread. I do not know how it has enough strength in it’s jaws to put that much pressure on the middle of it’s beak.

The small birds arrived late to the party and would snatch pieces away from the ducks and ibis. Then when the bigger birds would try to get it back they would just fly away to eat their prizes in peace before coming back for more.

In the evening we had the Sommerfeldts and Evans over for a pizza dinner. After dinner and good conversation the Sommerfeldts had to leave to help the elders in their area so we and the Evans played a rousing game of Five Crowns. Elder Evans won easily and I managed to not be the high score by 2 points over sister Evans. A good time was had by all.

07 April 2012 – P-day – Savior of the World

I was going to write about what has to happen after transfers were finished but it would not really make sense to anyone who was not involved. So I will just say that the last days have been filled with getting the records to agree with what changes were made in leadership, companionships, apartment, vehicles, telephones, and I am sure some things I have already forgotten about so that the mission can run smoothly for another 6 weeks.

Today was P-day and so we did our shopping and some house cleaning but mainly spent the day relaxing. The shopping included going to Mary’s favorite store – Second Edition Book Store where she picked up her supply of used books for the next month to 6 weeks. I made the mistake of going in with her – if I want to read something I usually just pick up something she has bought – and of course finding something I had to read.

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On the way home from the bookstore, we stopped at a huge nursery who sells mostly wholesale but also has a retail area. Anyone who knows me knows that I am always looking for another plant. This time it was a beautiful bougainvillea for just $10. Mary is just hoping that on the way home there will be some room in the van  for her as well as the plants.

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The price of regular has finally crossed the $4 line. Still lower than some states and a lot less than they pay in Europe but still somewhat of a shock to see it at that price. I often remark that when I was starting to drive the price of gas was 4 gallons for $1 and now it is $4 for I gallon. But then I remember that at the same time I dreamed of having a job that paid $10,000 a year because that sounded like a fortune!

In the evening we went to be greeters for those coming to the Fort Lauderdale Stake Center to see the last production of ‘The Savior of the World.” It was a 50 minute play/show about the events surrounding the resurrection of the Savior. The stake had asked the senior missionaries to greet the people as they came in. We served last night with the Beagleys. Mary took care of will call and I took tickets and greeted people. They expected the show to be completely full but it turned out to be only about 75% filled. I guess people reserved tickets and then found something else to do. However a lot of members brought non-LDS friends and many took Book of Mormons – we had them in English and in Spanish – as well as other pamphlets. It was a very well done production with some excellent singers. I hope that people went away feeling more of the spirit of Easter and the resurrection.

04 April 2012 – Transfer Day

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Transfer day is spiritual, fun, and at time frantic. It comes every 6 weeks when some missionaries come in and some go home. Today there were 3 new missionaries and 5 went to the Orlando temple for one more great experiences before flying out tomorrow for their homes. The new missionaries are a little in shock and the returning missionaries are caught between being happy about soon seeing their families and yet there is a sad side. They are leaving companions and other missionaries who they have not only come to love but who they have shared the amazing experience of bringing others unto Christ and changing their lives forever – both the one being baptized and the missionary.

The president and the assistants start thinking about transfer a couple of weeks in advance but the final transfer list often is not fully completed until the morning of transfers. Usually on the Friday or Monday before the transfer day we get a draft of what is likely to be what is going to happen. We start putting the information in a couple of programs that need to be completed after transfers are finished. Then on transfer day we find out what is really going to happen as the missionaries are actually moved to their new zones, districts and areas.

One of the most touching part of transfers is when companions who have served together for 6 weeks to months give each other a big hug and say goodbye for a while. Then they give their new companions a big hug of welcome. After the meeting there is another round of saying goodbye, transferring luggage and bikes to new cars and then one by one they drive off to get to their areas so they can get in 8 hours or so of work before ending the day.

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Today we brought in mail and packages that we have accumulated for the last 4 days because we could not forward it until the transfers are final. Any missionary that is at the meeting pick up their mail and the Zone leaders are supposed to pick up any mail for their missionaries that did not come in. About 85% of the mail gets picked up and we send the rest out as soon as we are sure where the missionaries are going to be living. One of the ‘packages’ that came through the mail was this plastic egg that was just as you see it above. No box or packing – just a plain egg with an address and postage attached. It is a tribute to the USPO that the egg arrived at the right address, intact and without a crack.

There was another interesting twist today. A number of cars got new Tiwi boxes and we were supposed to be able to activate them once they are  installed but for some reason it just would not work so Elder Beagley finally gave up and had the missionaries take the cars and he will work out the details later. The missionaries wanted to get back to their areas and get to work.

After everything was wrapped up we stopped at home long enough to eat some lunch and then went into the office. The assistants came in an made a few last changes – just getting the names of some of the areas the way they wanted them. As they were leaving I asked if any of the missionaries were going to be moved to a new address and I found out some of them are…we can not complete the transfer fully until we have that information so we will get it tomorrow.

All of this and a few more interesting problems that came up made the day fly by. While I will be glad when everything is finalized for another 6 weeks, it has been a real learning experience to go through one like this as Financial secretary. It is kind of the difference between watching a play and being behind the stage trying to make the play go on smoothly.

02 April 2012 – Last Lunch

 One of the things we look forward to is the last District Meeting before transfers because afterwards we have them all over for a Last Lunch…in South Africa it was a Last Supper on Sunday night but here they need to be out saving souls in the evening so they come over to our apartment for their lunch hour. This transfer Mary made a huge pot of spaghetti that I thought was way too much but the elders and sisters proved me wrong and her correct as they almost ate it all to the last piece of penne.

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We traditionally take a picture of new missionaries who are here for the first time standing in front of our door. Elder Wilson has a great smile and a powerful spirit. His companion is elder Smoot who was born here in the Plantation/Davies. This is Sister Hong’s 3rd last lunch but I failed to get her picture the first two times. She was reluctant to pose but finally I got her to flash her wonderful smile.

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This is sister Andrus’ first Last lunch. She and her companion sister Pack are a powerful companionship that, like all the missionaries in the district, give 110% to inviting others to come unto Christ. Picture taking is one of the main activities during these lunches – at least when they are using both hands to eat – so sisters Pack and Andrus are looking at sister Holder’s (she is sister Hong’s companion) latest.

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Elder Conger has only been here as zone leader for one rotation so this is his first picture. His companion is elder Beard who has been with us since we first got here. Elder Grant is also new to the district and was born here 6 weeks ago. He is from New Jersey where he knew our dear friends the Taylors. They were serving there on their 3rd mission and told us that elder Grant is a very special spirit. They are now serving their fourth mission in the South Africa, Johannesburg mission and are stationed in Botswana. They are our heroes.

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Elder Plowman is the district leader and is elder Grants companion and trainer. Sister Hong thinks my picture taking is funny…you can see that she is thrilled to be in that picture. Elder Smoot is caught with his mouth full and elder Wilson is getting ready to join him.

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Elder Conger started with the elders around the table – see the last one and the empty chair – but abandoned them for a softer seat and much prettier company.

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The middle picture is the only one I have of this district and after tomorrow’s transfer meeting it will be different. Some will leave and some new missionaries will come in. But the spirit will stay the same and we will never forget those we had the great blessing of serving with. The last picture shows the missionaries starting to leave after an hour of being together. Elder Conger was caught taking a last bite of brownie before he left.

Pictures…Granddaughters Young and Younger….and other things

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Our beautiful and colorful granddaughter Gentry – that is her in the middle – went with a group of her friends to the Hari Krishna Holy Festival of Colors and obviously greatly enjoyed every colorful moment that they were there. Ah the joys of being young. I wonder what the car looked like when they all got out at home?

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Pictures of grandchildren that I came across during the week and wanted to put on the blog so I could always find them.

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On the way to Church on Sunday the 25th we finally saw the famous alligator that occupies the canal that runs near the Plantation chapel. We had heard about it from President and sister Anderson but had not seen it before. It was bigger than I thought it would be. The cultural hall has been off limits for a few weeks as they prepare the scenery and lighting for the stake production of ‘Savior of the World’ that will run the Friday and Saturday before Easter. They are also painting the chapel but I think this is just a happy coincidence because of regularly scheduled re-furbishing. One man was on the scaffolding but the other was using a roller with extensions that must have been 20-25 feet long…it did not look very effective to me but he seemed to handle it well.

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Elder Conger has been playing the piano for district meeting his rotation. He may not be technically perfect but the spirit is great. Elder Grant and elder Plowman getting ready for the meeting.

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While out walking around the complex in the cooler early evening we saw this beautiful and unusual sky and I had to take a number of pictures. I also took another picture of the fountain as seen through the twisted trees. I still have not got the one I really want but I have another year to get it right.

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On another walk I took this picture looking East down the lake towards our apartment way down at the other end…but it is not visible from here. The yellow tree blossoms are almost past their prime and many of the trees have already lost most blooms. This one shined in the late morning sun. Notice how blue the sky is…the last few days have truly lived up to the motto of being the ‘Sunshine State.”

02 April 2012 – It is official and lots of pictures…Oh – And we are Winning

On Thursday we learned that Elder and Sister Steimle will be released on April 30th so they can be home in time for some important family occasions. Which means as a birthday present I get to become the official Financial Secretary for the mission and Mary becomes the Mission Secretary. I have to say that I am glad to know that who the Lord calls he qualifies because I do not think of myself as qualified. Anyone who knows me – other than the Lord it seems – knows that details are not something I do well. But thankfully Elder Steimle and those before him have organized the calling and hopefully I will not mess it up too often. I will keep Elder Steimle’s home phone number on speed dial!

The other great events of the week were conference and the district’s “Last Lunch” for this transfer. Conference was filled with great instruction and counsel. The talks that at first run through that seemed most directed at me were Elder Hallstrom’s and Elder Andersons, but I look forward to watching, reading and pondering all of them again. Between sessions on Sunday there was an hour feature on “The Saints in Swaziland.” Both the Wilsons who served there while we were in South Africa and the Blackburns who followed them and we got to serve with for a few months were shown in the program. Since we served in Swaziland for 2 1/2 months we knew some of the Swazi members who were shown.

The most important news of the week was the fact that the mission had 106 baptisms for the month. The first time that it has ever had 100 or more and hopefully the new base for an average month. The missionaries here are wonderful and full of desire to serve. We are very blessed to be allowed to accepted as part of a great district. On Monday they held their lasts meeting of this transfer and I had the opportunity to give a short lesson from the Book of Mormon. I gave it on the last few verses in 2 Nephi 32 and tied it in to what it meant to be a successful mission as outlined in PMG.

After the meeting Mary and I hurried home to prepare a spaghetti lunch for the district plus the other sisters who serve in the zone and live just across the street from our complex. I think it went well. Although the missionaries certainly enjoy the food, I think they enjoy just being together and talking in a relaxed atmosphere for an hour. We made sure that they got did not stay longer than the hour they get for lunch…they needed to get back to work because there were people who were waiting for them so their hearts and lives could be changed for Eternity.

During the week we found out that former Elder and Sister Johnson who we served with in Durban are now President and Sister Johnson in the Idaho Falls temple. Elder Johnson was called to be a counselor in the temple presidency. Couldn’t happen to a more spiritual couple.