Winter brings snowbirds…human ones that makes the impossible Florida traffic even worse – something that did not seem possible. Then there are the migratory birds that come down to enjoy the Florida sun. One very interesting one showed up in the last couple of weeks – the female Hooded Merganser which I managed to get a great shot of one on our lake. Also we have had a really beautiful Wood Stork that has been around for a few weeks.
Four of our great sister missionaries visited us during the week so I took their picture with the APs…Elder Rippstein, Sisters Dye, Stegelmeier, Johnson, and Holyan and Elder Avila. Sister Dye will be going home on this transfer but she will be working as hard as she can up until she gets on the plane.
Thursday night we were invited to the Fort Lauderdale Relief Society social where we were the guest speakers. I took a couple of pictures before it really got started but once people started coming I had too much fun getting to know some of the sisters of the ward. We had a delicious light meal and then got to talk about gratitude. Mary did a great job talking about the things she had in her ‘gratitude basket.’ I suggested that we could give thanks by doing – including giving the gift of the gospel to someone this Christmas season.
On Friday President Anderson held exit interviews at the mission home for some of the 12 great missionaries that will be leaving us. Elders Conger and Meredith came in for their interview and to pick up one of the new Cruzes. Elder Bare – our very busy Car Czar – enlisted them in carefully giving a final check of the car before it went off to Belle Glade where elder Meredith will be able to drive it for the last five days of his mission. If you look at this blog’s post of November 22, 2011 you will find pictures of us with elder Meredith. As I looked at these early pictures of our mission I realized that 13 months later Elder Meredith and Sister Holder – who is also in this transfer group – are the last two missionaries in that original district that are going home. It has been an wonderful year. Elder Conger was our district leader up until a transfer ago when transferred up to be a zone leader with our friend Elder Plowman.
Later in the day Elder Conger came back with elders Furner and Reidhead, two more missions who have served excellent missions and will be leaving us soon. As the day at the office ended Mary rests on the sofa as we waited for E/S Bare so we could go and have a delicious meal together.
I almost forgot to mention that for the second time this year, our blog got a mention in the Deseret News’ “Bloggernacle. ”
“Mission temple: Bill & Mary’s Blog: Words from the mission field has been following the construction of the Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple and share some updated photos, including some close-ups of the magnificent blue stained-glass windows. Looks like it will be another gorgeous temple.”
After spending about half the day at the office catching up on things, we went by the temple site to see how it was going. Little had changed since we were there a month ago to see the Moroni statue. Most of the outside windows are not completely in and they have started to some work on the area where the fountain will go in. We are hoping that before we leave the landscaping will be mostly in. If we want to see the completed temple we will have to come back for the tour and dedication.
It was a beautiful winter day and the first two pictures show the South and East (not West as originally posted – thanks Darrell) sides of the temple. The one on the right is the East or front side. If you look close you can see the plumbing where the fountain will be built.
On the North side of the temple I can get close enough to take good pictures of the beautiful windows that are now almost completely in place. Some have stone detail over them…at first I thought they were plaster but then decided that they are poured stone like the rest of the building. The slightly blue tinted glass with intricate designs should be beautiful when lighted from the inside. We will make another trip by the temple in December and hopefully the landscaping will be beginning to take some shape.
Missions are about people and this week we had a great chance to be with some amazing missionaries and members.
On Tuesday Mary came down with a sore throat so I went to district meeting to take them some mail and the treats. While waiting for a key to arrive some of them found the many acorns on the ground and got into a full out acorn fight. Missionaries will be boys! Sister Jackson came in to the mission a little later so I did not get a picture of her and her trainer Sister Beck before this. They are serving up in Boynton Beach South. On Thanksgiving Mary had a relapse so I went to the Fort Lauderdale chapel to help with the meal that the ward was fixing for anyone who needed a good meal. Elder Hall and Bloom are busy cutting up potatoes for mashed potatoes – they took over from me!
Bishop Brown drew a crowd as he made gravy and held court with the missionaries. Elders Avila and Rippstein are listening to him in the first picture. The crowd increased when elder Hall joined in – he must have finished his potatoes. Elders Rondo and Patino join the crowd as Bishop Brown gets up on a soap box of a sorts. I love the look on the faces of the children as they look on.
Brother and sister Slivka seems to have been the people who was in charge of getting everything done. Brother Slivka cooked the turkeys and then carved them. They are kind of a dynamic duo in the ward. Sister Brown joined her husband for the picture. They are a great couple. In the evening the couples got together at the mission home for dinner. I did not take any pictures except of the Anderson’s beautiful granddaughter who I caught trying to say ‘cheese’ while standing in her rather oversized high heels. The dinner was wonderful and the company even better – it would have been perfect if Mary could have been with me. But the best I could do was to take a nice big plate of turkey with all the fixing home to her. Which included the mashed potatoes that I made at home – so today was my mashed potato thanksgiving.
Assorted pictures from the week include a huge stag horn fern in the Rampton’s front yard shot when we went there on Tuesday for piano lessons. I bought Mary some flowers on Monday and I took this shot because I thought it was beautiful. On Saturday morning I took this picture of the now almost full sized ducks eating breakfast. They are pretty much full grown so I guess it is time to quit feeding them once the last bag of cracked corn is emptied.
More experiences that President Anderson shared in his weekly letter…
“As we prayed before we got out of the car, I prayed in my heart that we might find a way to fulfill our goal of 3 blessings that night. So we got out of the car and walked over to our first lesson. They weren’t home! So we quickly took advantage of the opportunity and talked to this man on his driveway. We asked him if we could bless his home, and he said no thank you, but that another time would be better… We testified to him that it would bless his life a ton, and he ended up letting us in. We prayed with his whole family, and they all felt the Spirit, and all of them committed to baptism on the 25th of November! But that isn’t the end. We went to the appointments we had after that, and both of them weren’t home! A sign from the Lord telling us to harvest more. So we knocked 5 more doors, got 5 more blessings, and got 5 more families committed to baptism!”
As you show appreciation to God and show him through your hard work your gratitude, he will always pour his blessings on you:
“God noticed our hard work and it was right at the breaking point where he helped us out. On both Friday night and Saturday night we found someone prepared to hear the gospel at 8:30 at night. It was at times where we both felt like giving up but for some reason we kept going and just put our shoulder to the wheel and did the very best we could. The man we found on Saturday night was one of the most prepared people I have met. After the blessing he said “Other than my son being born, this is the best gift that anyone has ever given me.’ He came to church on Sunday and he is preparing to be baptized on this coming Sunday.”
God will inspire you again and again after you show thankfulness and gratitude:
“… we saw a complex and we both felt good about it. We knocked one door and got thoroughly rejected. We heard voices on the 2nd level, so we walked up and found a man on his phone. Normally when I contact people on the phone they shoo me away, but Caesar gently pulled the phone away from his ear and listened intently as I identified us as representatives of Christ, there to pray for him. As soon as I said it, he told us that he was in dire need of blessings- that he had just found out he might have cancer, and was praying for help. When he saw us walk out of our car and to the complex, he knew that we were there for him. We had a super spiritual experience praying for him (and his wife on the speaker phone) and after, he accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 25th! It truly was a miracle and such a testimony building experience that Heavenly Father knows where we need to be, and if we listen to the Spirit, he’ll guide us there.”
All Sundays are a wonderful opportunity to partake of the sacrament, learn about the gospel, meet people and serve. But this was a especially beautiful because we were able to stay for the baptism of sister Shamekia W and her daughter Ma’Kaylah. We also saw the baptism of sister Elizabeth N that fulfilled the made a family complete and brought joy to her daughter who had been praying for this to happen before she went on her mission.
On Saturday I bought our first poinsettia of the season at Costco…so much beauty for a reasonable price. This is the little used front entrance to the Fort Lauderdale chapel. It is the first chapel built in the area and is surrounded by huge trees. It is a lovely setting for a peaceful chapel. While Shamekia and Ma’Kaylah got ready to be baptized, Mary became the grandmother to watch the other three children. As I looked at this picture it reminded me of our mission to South Africa.
Sister Elizabeth – in white in the middle – is enclosed by her family who was so happy to have come unto Christ. The middle picture is of Shamekia, her children and Elders Bloom and Hall (in white). As the day ended I caught this beautiful picture of the sky outside our apartment. What a wonderful Sabbath.
The Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale Zones…
Homestead and Miami Zones – Hialeah and Miami Beach Zones – Stuart and Palm Beach Zones.
“Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” Robert Heinlein
The two pictures on the ends were created when Mary tried to print a couple of photos on some old photo copy paper. When she saw the results she thought they were ruined. When I saw them I thought they were very interesting art. The negative space gives only outlines but the basic picture is still there and it makes the part that printed and the colors more vivid. The one on the right is a picture of me holding our granddaughter McKay many years ago. The one on the left was taken in South Africa and showed how children are not prejudice. After I had taken these pictures, I noticed the wording of saying on the magnet I used to hold them. It seems perfect for the subject matter. I plan to get these pictures framed and hang in our house when we return from this mission.
The wonderful thing about pictures is that they capture moments in our lives that we can recall each time we see them. Often they bring back different memories and thoughts depending on how we see them and what is going on in our lives.
President Anderson has been holding Zone Conferences this week. Today it was Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs Zones turn. Since the assistants asked Mary to play the piano we got to the Fort Lauderdale chapel at 8:30 to find that a number of companionships had already arrived. It was the start of a excellent 6 hour training meeting interrupted by a delicious lunch.
Four of our favorite missionaries were greeting at the door. Elders Rippstein, HoChing, Avila and Bishop. Everyone was happy to sister Bare come in…she types up all the baptisms and ends up calling many of them. The Bares also serve in the Riverside Park Spanish Branch. The Relief Society room was pretty well packed with missionaries. Elder HoChing is holding down one end of the row. We found out that he is not a big fan of needles and was happy to hear that he was not expected to get a flu shot because we is going home in early December.
One of the fun events at Zone Conferences is recognizing birthdays since the last one. Sister Anderson has treats for the birthday missionary and their companion and everyone sings a happy birthday song. A ward in the zones are asked to provide a lunch for the 40-50 missionaries. These four sisters went above and beyond in not only serving delicious food but setting beautiful tables fit for a banquet.
Lots of pictures of missionaries eating. Mary, Sisters Johnson, Dye and Holder share a table. The middle is a long view down the tables. First elders find a table – Patino, Rondo, Rippstein and
Too many missionaries to list but all seem to be enjoying the food. There were even seconds for those who were still hungry.
Wanting to work off some of his lunch, Elder Avila swings while sisters Dye and Stegelmeier looks on – they are easily entertained. After lunch the emphasis was on repentance, how it is only complete after baptism which also give access to the atonement. Then there was role playing on how to teach repentance. Elders Odar and Torres teach Elder Wood ( I think that is correct.)
As I regularly mention, one of the highlights of the week is reading the weekly letter to the missionaries from President Anderson. His letters encourage, train and shares spirit lifting missionary experiences.
I love how you as missionaries are obedient, and how you follow promptings by the Spirit to those who are praying for you:
“We knocked a couple doors then went to the second level. A lady answered the door with a lot of happiness and excitement. After the prayer she looked at us with tears in her eyes and said she was going to a lot of different churches but knew none of them were right. She didn’t feel good about any of them and knew there was only one truth. She was praying to God to know where the truth was. She finally told God that He was going to have to send the truth to her. She was praying that night and she told us, ‘God sent me his truth and even on my birthday!’ I can’t put into words how amazing this experience was. The spirit was giving me constant goose bumps. She is preparing to be baptized on the 11th. She came the next day to church and brought her friend.”
“Being obedient when we don’t know why at the moment will quickly manifest the miracle:
“Last week as we were on our way to go see one of our investigators, we saw a guy walking down the street ahead of us. We stopped him and testified that we were sent there to find him. He paused for a moment and then said, ‘Now it makes sense. Just now I was watching TV and something was telling me to leave the house to go wait for my daughter’s bus on the street. I thought to myself that this will be the first time I’ll ever wait for my daughter to get back from school… so I did. And now I know why I was prompted to come here so I could meet the both of you.’ We testified to him that we were sent by Jesus Christ to find him so we could leave His peace and blessing on his home. He told us that he wanted his daughter to be part of that prayer. So we waited for his daughter. After she arrived we followed them to their home and left a blessing with them. Jason wept throughout the entire blessing. Right after the blessing he got up and hugged me and my companion. We could feel the spirit super strong in Jason’s home and the first thing we said was, ‘Jason will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and to be baptized?’ He accepted it with tears on his face. He and his Daughter came to church yesterday and they loved it. They are preparing to be baptized this week!”
Your example of obedience and hard work will affect those who are watching you:
“We are really working super hard here and seeing a lot of success! We had 6 people come to church this week, which got the Branch more excited to work with us, and they gave us 8 referrals during church!! They have heard us say that we are going to work hard, but when they actually saw that we were is where they got excited!”