Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Day of Specialized Training….

 The mission had Specialized Training meetings on Thursday for the North part of the mission and Friday for the Southern part. We went to the Friday meeting in the Miami Lakes chapel. Missionaries serving in the Miami Beach, Hialeah, Miami and Homestead zones were taught about how to use the Book of Mormon and personal testimonies to answer the needs of their investigators by President Anderson and the APs. Before that sister Anderson talked about the need for listening to and following the spirit. She included a personal story that was very touching and powerful.

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Elder McCormick and I went to the local Little Ceasar’s and picked up 38 large pepperoni pizzas. It brought back memories of South Africa and the many times we helped serve pizza to the missionaries at conferences and transfers. The sisters got to serve themselves first. I kid sister Anderson about her being able to open a catering service when she is released from their mission. The truth is she enjoys cooking for lots of family and others.

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Elders Curtis, Maki and Dean seemed were at one table. Some elders found that they would rather share their meal with some of the sister missionaries. Sisters Smith, Hymas, Lira and Schneider serve in different zones but shared a table. After the meeting there was a special sister’s meeting but we had to leave early so I did not get any pictures of all the sisters together.

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Missionaries everywhere seem to like pizza. There was enough for each missionary to have at least 1/2 of one. Elders Brough and Plowman found one of the far away table and were enjoying their food in peace.

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They were then joined but the Boices who are serving as Employment specialists. Notice how getting their picture taken does not slow down the eating of most missionaries.  The Andersons ate very healthy – all veggies. Myself and the Evans had veggies but also managed to sample the pizza.

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One of the things that missionaries love to do – besides eating – is to talk to each other. Elders Bennett, Patino and Benitez shared some thoughts as did sister Andrus and elders Fullmer, Welch and Beer. Early on elders Benitez, Johnson, and Harper were sitting with sister Brown while her companion sister Quiocho was just about to sit down.

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I love this picture of elder Shipley which shows not only his dexterity and strong teeth but the plate of pizza and lots of good vegetables. His Mother would be proud. Sister Quiocho always likes to pose for me. While elder Shipley was eating his companion elder Gust was sharing some wisdom with other elders.

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We had to go back to the office before the meeting was finished. It was time for the mission finances to be audited for 2012. When we got there sisters Herrera and Stegelmeier came in and I got them to pose with elder Collins who shares the office with me. The middle picture is not from today but from a week ago when elders Hunt and Smoot came in for a visit. After the meeting at Miami Lakes was over the Sommerfeldts came by to check in. It does not seem possible that they only have a couple more weeks before heading home to Canada. The whole mission will miss them greatly.

A Mission Correlation Meeting can be Fun and Productive

 Every Wednesday night the missionaries assigned to the Fort Lauderdale ward meet with bishop Brown, brothers Acevedo and Beille for a missionary correlation meeting. It is one of the most enjoyable MCM that I have ever been to – including some I conducted. Not only does the bishop and the other brothers stay on top of what is going on with missionary work and plans to keep up the retention rate, but everyone has a good time.

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Sister Stegelmeier is not assigned to Fort Lauderdale ward but since she dropped into the office during the day I took a picture of her talking to Mary. Elder Andelin looks on as elder Burt leads the music and bishop Brown sings. Elder Thorne always has a big smile – even when I am not taking his picture.

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Brother Hafen who often goes out with the missionaries also often joins the meeting. Brother Beille Proust with elder Andelin in the background. Brother Proust has been called to work specifically with new members to see that they get home teachers, callings, and the new member lessons. Hopefully this will increase the retention figures for the ward and the mission. Elder Hunt, one of the zone leaders, was on exchange with elder Jones so I did still have not got a picture of elder Jones and his companion and new to mission elder Van Wagenen. Elder Shipley was also at the meeting as the APs are assigned to one of the areas in the Fort Lauderdale ward.

“No Weakness of Purpose”

President Anderson chose these three stories to illustrate his letter this week. They represent the idea that great missionaries, above average missionaries like there are in the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission do not let opposition stop them from bringing the gospel to God’s sons and daughters. In fact they turn opposition into opportunity!


“We knocked our first door of the day … and we were met with an aggressive shout from within the house of a man asking us what we wanted and how we shouldn’t be knocking on people’s doors and how he wanted us to leave.  He wasn’t very kind at all as we were explaining through his window of how we were representatives of Jesus Christ and that he had sent us here to leave a prayer with him, until we said that Jesus Christ loves him and because of that love, we were sent to pray with him.  Right after we expressed that love of the Savior for him, he quickly opened the door and welcomed us in to pray with him and his wife.  He told us that they needed that love from the Savior right now to mend their breaking relationship!  We left the blessing and baptismal invitation with them and they explained how they had both been thinking of being baptized and that they were also looking for a church to join!  Expressing the love that the Savior has for them, unlocked and changed a heart and created a new path for them both as they now are preparing to be baptized.”


You are testifying with love in every moment possible:


“My companion and I had an awesome harvesting time and it got to the point where we just wanted to continue but yet had other appointments to head out to, so we decided to knock on one more home. We came across Jo, whom had such a bright spirit and accepted the Saviors peace and blessing. After leaving the blessing with him and identifying the spirit, we invited him to church but he was kind of hesitant and wouldn’t give us a for sure “YES”. So Sunday morning we head out to round up our investigators for church, and we came across Jo. Jo stated that he wouldn’t be able to attend church as he was waiting for a phone call in regards to a job. We did what we do best and that was “TESTIFY” letting him know that it’s something Heavenly Father wants him to take part in and that he will truly be blessed throughout that week! Then eventually he said “YES” and he came to church with us. Then yesterday we go out to his house for our scheduled appointment and he stated that he liked church and that he plans to come again this Sunday. We had an awesome lesson with him and invited him to be baptized 01/20 and he accepted knowing that we as Representatives of Jesus Christ will be there every step of the way to prepare him for this exciting moment in his life!”


“That day we set a goal to get 21 blessings (something none of us had done before), and it wasn’t going well. I expressed my frustration to my companion. I was really beginning to feel hopeless. I was desperately introspecting trying to fix the problem… AND didn’t have anyone solid for baptism for the month.  My companion lifted me up and helped me realize I needed more faith. I humbled myself, and repented, realizing I needed to depend on my own strength less, and God more. If we were going to baptize, it was going to be by His hand. We were at 15 blessings and 4 yes’s. The next home was  a Haitian Family who accepted baptism! Then the following 3 did as well! All of which were super cool miracles (1 lady reopened her door after rejecting us, another who wouldn’t open the door, but accepted baptism thru the window); and finally, Marlene and her family of 11, we blessed them and they all clapped after the blessing. They readily accepted dates and to come to church. It took 3 cars to get them all to church, and we saw them last night and they are preparing for baptism this Sunday! I think this has been my lingering problem, trying to do it all on my own, without depending on, and seeking the grace of the Lord.”


I put that last thought in bold because I feel that there are too many times when I have the same problem as this young missionary…depending on the arm of flesh instead of the strength of the Lord.


Nothing to do…

 In case you have not noticed I carry my camera everywhere I go. It is something that I started doing when we were in Indonesia and it just seems natural now. It takes me a while after we get home to not carry it on my belt. I guess I should get a phone with a camera and then I would only need to have one case instead of two.  I must confess that there are times when I completely forget to take a picture that I should…I am busy doing something else and my older, one track mind just does not register.

These are pictures I took Friday through Monday…

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For each transfer Sister Pier makes cards for the missionaries that give the date of the transfer, companion’s name, what area they will be serving in and their position. The copies are laminated and trimmed so they can be used on the two transfer boards to show where the missionary is serving and then moved around before transfer to where they will serve. Usually I get to do much of the laminating and trimming – unless of course I can do a Tom Sawyer and get others to do it.  Sunday morning was unusual in that there was quite a bit of fog. But even that could not hide the beauty of our lake and the reflections.

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One thing that being on other missions has taught us was that we were often called on to transport members and non-members to church and other meetings. That was one of the reasons we bought a good used van to take on this mission – that and the fact that we brought half our house with us. On Saturday the missionaries start working on Round-Up where they contact all their investigators and try to get them committed to going to Church. They will then contact us and ask for rides – they can not provide them in a mission vehicle. On Sunday the APs – Elders Gust and Shipley – met us at this apartment where they had committed some investigators to attending. Unfortunately as sometimes happen either the people decide not to go or just do not get up in time. In this case they did not answer their door or their phone. We were of course sorry for the elders and the people who do not realize what they are missing but it allowed us to go pick up our other investigator for Elders Thorne and Rondo.

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After picking up Jean we headed for Church. On the way we pass over this small draw bridge and since we had time I stopped and took a picture of the canal with the many boats and nice yards. When we got to Church we got a call from Sisters Bean and Lake who had another contact who needed a ride and was close by so we dashed over there and picked him. It is fun to meet these people who are interested in seeing what services are like. I do not imagine many of them have been to 3 hours of straight church but most seem to enjoy it – especially primary age children – but too few come back for a second time.

The last picture was taken on Monday of elders Shipley, B. Jones  (we also have an elder K. Jones) Gust and Torres. Elders Jones and Torres are the Coral Springs zone leaders and stopped by to pick up some supplies for their area. We love to see and talk to the missionaries when they come through the office. They are so full of the spirit as they talk about how the work is doing.

The Couples Have a Goodbye Party!

 I have mentioned before that working with and getting to know other senior couples are a couple of the many blessing we have had on our missions.  Senior couples love to get together and since there are 4 couples who live minutes from each other and 2 who live 30-45 minutes away. We often find reasons to eat some food, exchange lots of talk and play 5 Crowns. Tonight we had everyone over to our house for soft tacos and other goodies as a last chance to get together for a kind of informal farewell party for the Evans and the Sommerfeldts who will be heading back to their homes over the next few weeks.

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The Sommerfeldts brought the Bares this bear that they said they found hitch-hiking along the road. It seemed only fair that it got it’s own missionary name tag. I think Sister Bare looks good along the new Elder Bare. Elder Bare arrived in his casual evening dress…it seems that the other Elder Bear could not make it.

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I have no idea who was talking to elders Collins and Evans. I also do not know why sister Sommerfeldt seems to be putting on a blindfold as she talks to sister Evans. Elder Evans and I like to take pictures of each other taking pictures of the other.

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Sisters Collins and Bare prepare the food. Elder Sommerfeldt seems to be enjoying his plate full of food.

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In fact everyone seems to be enjoying the food and the fellowship around the tables.  We were really happy to have E/S McCormick come up from Marathon Key for the evening. It was perfect timing as they were coming up anyway to meet with some family who will be coming in from a cruise and they will get together tomorrow.

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After dinner we played a intense game of 5 Crowns. One table was mainly sisters and the other was mainly the elders. We do not have couples play at the same table so they can ride home together in peace. Sister Bare and I were the winners at our table.

After the game we had some great dessert and then the couples one by one left to head to their home.

Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission – Where They Are Serving the Next 6 Weeks

 I do not understand why I have not thought of this earlier for other transfers but at least they will be here for the last three transfers while we are here. These are pictures of the transfer sheets that are projected at transfer meeting. Everyone at the meeting knows that they are going to be transferred and will have a new companion but they have no idea who. These sheets are revealed line by line and the missionaries learn for the first time who they will be with and where they will serve the next six weeks.

As you sit in the meeting you can hear the intake of breath and the soft comments as the companionships are shown. After each zone has been fully revealed the missionaries are told to make the changes. There is a lot of excited noise as old companions give big hugs and say goodbye and then hug their new companion and join them for the first time. It is one of great experiences of being a senior missionary.

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For those who have not served here, I will explain what you are seeing as you look at the Stuart Zone sheet. The names in black are missionaries who have not moved and the ones in red are those who have moved. For example Elder Edwards was already serving as a Zone leader serving in the Stuart South area. Elder Osborn is now his companion.  ZL stands for Zone Leader and DL stands for District Leader. The only companionships in this zone that did not change are elders Bowen and Duncan up in Okeechobee and elders Maddox and Pearce serving in Wellington.

I need to explain a couple of more things and colors on the sheet. Looking at the Palm Beach  Zone you will see that the Palm Beach Central area is in red…this means it is a brand new area that was opened or perhaps re-opened this transfer. The other thing that you will find on this sheet is names in blue. Blue means that the missionary on the left is training the missionary on the right. Usually the trainer will be serving in the same area as they were the previous 6 weeks but that is not always true.

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Elder Evans shares some pictures…Arrive – Depart

 As I mentioned before, the 14 above average missionaries that arrived on the 15th had a very long day in airports and planes. Instead of arriving at 2:30 and having a nice dinner at the mission home, then an interview by President Anderson, and being trained by the APs. They arrived after 8:30 and was wisked to the hotel where they were fed a delicious box dinner that was put together at the mission home by the Evans and sister Anderson. They then got to take their weary bodies up to their rooms for a well deserved night’s sleep.

Elder and Sister Evans brought the food to the hotel and Elder Evans sent me these pictures. Since they will be leaving before the next transfer they were also invited to the departing missionaries dinner on Wednesday night where they took a couple of pictures of the missionaries arriving at the mission home from their trip to the Orlando temple.

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Elders Shipley and Rippstein with some of the missionaries. Note the TV picture in the back – they certainly are not talking about the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission! In the middle I believe are elders Madson, Page and Van Wagenen. The right side picture shows the first picture of the old and new APs – elders Gust, Avila, Rippstein and Shipley.

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The Evans with elders Avila, Shipley and Rippstein. The departing missionaries arrive at the mission home after a 3 1/2 hour drive from the Orlando Temple. In the last picture elder and sister Sommerfeldt can be seen. They escorted the missionaries to the temple and then stayed for the departing dinner and testimony meeting. They will also be leaving before the next transfer. I asked sister Sommerfeldt if the missionaries slept all the way home but she said they spent the whole time talking! These 9 elders have been together for 2 years and they have shared so many wonderful experiences, lived with each other for 24/7 and have learned to truly love each other as only those who have been on missions can understand.

Miracles Happen because of Faith, Obedience and Hard Work

I came for lunch today and finally had time to read Elder Pond’s blog page that includes his letters home. They always give me a lift but the one this week – written on Tuesday when he knew he was going to be transferred but not where – was even more spiritually powerful than ever.

Dear Family and Friends!!

Well transfer time is here once again and I will be leaving Cypress Creek and my district unfortunately… But I know the Lord has amazing things in store for me and I am extremely excited to witness what the Lord has in store for our amazing mission now! I am eternally grateful for the call to serve as a representative of Christ in this amazing mission. Serving as a missionary has changed my life completely!

To read the whole letter with two amazing experiences you just need to go to his site

17jan13-wardell-pond-sis-bare.jpg I took this picture yesterday when Elders Wardell and Pond came in to pick up some supplies before heading to the Plantation chapel for District Meeting where Elder Pond will conduct his first DM here in Fort Lauderdale.

The secret of the success of the Fort Lauderdale Mission is that there are 140 plus above average missionaries like Elder Pond who are fully dedicated to fulfilling their purpose as a missionary by inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. As they do this the Lord blesses them by leading them to those He has prepared to hear and accept the Gospel.

Goodbye to some above average Missionaries

 Transfers are always exciting and this one was a little more than usual. But  at the same time we are welcoming new missionaries, there is a group of wonderful young men and women who are experiencing their last full day in the mission field. While we are having transfer day they are heading up to the Orlando Temple to have one last amazing experience before their final dinner with President and Sister Anderson, a final testimony meeting, and of course a departing picture.

This transfer 9 valiant Elders who helped the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission to new records said their goodbyes. Also two amazing couples are also coming to the end of their missions – Elder and Sister Sommerfeldt – on the right in the picture below and Elder and Sister Evans who are on the left.


The back row is Elders Taylor, Badillo, Rippstein, Avila, and Hatch.  Middle row has Elders Evans, Semons, Smith, Bjorling, Bishop and Sommerfeldt. In front are Sisters Evans, Anderson and Sommerfeldt with President Anderson.

16 January 20123 – Transfer

 It was a long transfer day and I took lots of pictures…I did not have time to put comments into the post but I thought there might be some parents and friends out there who would like to see their missionaries and their new companion…

Since our incoming missionaries could not get out of Salt Lake until 2:30 pm our time they did not arrive here until after 8:30 pm. That meant that President Anderson had to wait until this morning to interview the 14 missionaries so he could determine who would train them where. This meant that the usual 9:00 am transfer meeting was moved to 12:30. It also meant that the companions of the missionaries who are leaving had to get them to the Plantation chapel by 5:00 am so the departing missionaries could take a 3 1/2 ride to the Orlando temple.

This left a group of missionaries sitting around the chapel with nothing to do but wait, so we called and had 4 of them come over to the office to help us with some chores. Answering the call was elders Smoot, Torres, Gutierrez, and Call.

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Elder Torres and Smoot got to find out how much work goes into the chapel cards they hand out every day. Elder Torres mentioned that he now had a greater respect for the cards and would make sure he took better care of them when he was in his area.

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Elder Gutierrez and Call helped me with getting the mail ready to be transferred over to the chapel to be handed out when all the missionaries came to transfer meeting. Then they shifted over to cutting chapel cards while elders Call and Smoot helped me with getting the binders that each new missionary gets ready. It is filled with information the missionary will need when they arrive as well as their MSF – think debit card – and Medical card.

While we busy doing this we got a call from the APs asking if we could come to the mission home and help transport the new missionaries to the chapel after they had lunch. Before we could do that we had to empty our van of the mail that the elders helped load.

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When we got to the chapel we used some of the other missionaries who were waiting there to help us unload and distribute the mail. We have done this enough that we have it down to a science. Elder Shepard was one of those who helped as well as did elder Doria and others. The pay off was that they got to look for their own mail and packages. Elder Doria got a couple of new and interesting watches. One which he showed off on camera.

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This is what the RS room looks like when all the mail is set out.

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We went over the mission home and helped prepare lunch for the new missionaries. This gave me a chance to meet some of them and take their pictures. Sisters Ellett and Price are facing the camera in the first one. Sister Sablan gets got the window seat. Sister Houghton was on the other side. We kind of knew sister Houghton because we talked to her mother when they were notified she would be coming one transfer early because she was already fluent in Spanish.

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I managed to catch sister Ellett by herself as well as elder Page. You can only see the back of elder Brown and Page in the next picture but I wanted to show the spread of food and managed to get elder Shipley as a bonus.

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Here are six of the elders that came in on Tuesday. Elders Langford and Harris will serve together in Miami Beach area. Sisters Bagley and Chavous are now companions in Coral Springs.

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It is fun to be out in the parking lot after the meeting because missionaries are everywhere swapping cars, moving bike and luggage, hugging each other and just plain hanging out. Elder Burgon – elder Harral’s old companion is now serving with elder Taylor who is in the back ground. The Collins are talking to Elder Edwards who is one of the zone leaders in Stuart Zone – his companion elder Bjorling was one of those who went home so now he will be serving with Elder Osborn up there at the top of the mission. Sister Collins can be seen behind Elder Winslow who is getting a great trainer in our dear friend elder Rellaford who we have served with for 6 months.

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Elders Curtis and Maki will serve together in Blue Lagoon East. Elder Doman who was born here in the Fort Lauderdale Zone – that means he started his mission here – will now serve with elder Owens  way up in Vero Beach. Sister Dougal will serve with sister Holyan in Nova YSA.

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Elder Dowdle – who is my phone expert – will serve as one of the Zone Leaders in the Miami Beach Zone with elder Stewart. Elder Elliott will be trained by elder Loucks, a district leader, up in the Boynton Beach Creole area. Sister Houghton is being will be trained by sister Clayton in the West Palm North area.

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Elder Hoole will train elder Harper in the Miami Shores Creole area. Elder Madson will be trained by one of our favorite missionary Elder Hall in Boca Raton East. Elder Rockwood – who is always smiling – will be the district leader trainer for elder Comstock in Hialeah West.

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Elder Hunt will team up with our special friend elder Smoot to be the Zone Leaders in the Fort Lauderdale zone while serving in Hollywood South. The only three some in the mission will be elders Marcussen, Fisher and King will all serve the Coral Reef North area. Elders Osborn and Edwards are now the zone leaders in the Stuart Zone where they serve in the Stuart South area – they drive a nice new truck and are envied by all the other companionships.

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I caught for lovely sisters together. Sisters Jackson and Sheffield are up in Stuart North. Our close friend sister Johnson – she has lived near the office so we got to see her very often – will train sister Ellett in the new Palm Beach Central area.

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Elder Jones will serve as a zone leader in Coral Springs Zone with our office helper elder Torres while in the Lauderhill North area. Elder Richardson is now the companion of our other helper elder Call the DL while they serve in West Palm Central.

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Sister Sablan will be trained by always smiling sister Beck in Boynton Beach South. Elder Shaffer is now teamed up with elder Aul and will in Jupiter North. I managed to catch elder Shipley with his new companion and fellow AP elder Gust when they were not swamped. They are going to make a great team. We are told elder Gust speaks Cuban Spanish so fast that even some native Cubans can not keep up.

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Sisters Hymas and Smith will serve together for the next 6 weeks in the Killian East area. Elder Taylor and Burgon will serve up in Fort Pierce. Elder Toeava will be the district leader in Miami Gardens and will serve with elder Lee.

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Elders Welch and Faniaka will invite others to come unto Christ in the Doral area. Elder Bare – the car and soon also the bike czar – spent much of the transfer day making sure the right cars got switched to the right missionaries and solving other vehicle problems. It is not an easy day for the czar. Elder Wood is our friend elder Bloom’s new companion. Elder Bloom will be district leader and the two will serve in Cypress Creek.

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Elders Martineau will serve with elder Chinchilla the DL way down in Homestead East. Elders Nielsen and Dean will open the new Hollywood Central area. Elder Larsen will be with our close friend elder Harrall up in the newer Royal Palm Beach area.

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Elder Brough will serve with our special friend elder Plowman in the Hialeah zone where they will be Zone Leaders. Elder Mackley is now serving with elder Patino in the El Portal North area. It does not seem possible that elder Patino (I tended to call him Patrino but he forgave me) has been away from the Fort Lauderdale zone for 6 weeks. The time is really flying by. We only have two more transfers before we are in the departing group.

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Another picture of elder Madson with his trainer elder Hall. Of course when there are missionaries in the office they are often gathered around the big board. I do not know if elder Bare is signaling that he needs help, look at me or is trying to order something. Sister Price will be trained by sister Tuai in the Hollywood North area.

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Elders Silva and Webb will be down in the Sunset North area. Since the missionaries were at the chapel during lunch time and most did not have a chance to eat anything before coming to the office for supplies to take back to their areas, sister Bare was kept busy trying to put out snacks for the hungry elders and sisters until the cupboard was literally bare! We will miss elder Taylor who is headed up North to for Pierce.

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Elder Wilson will be training elder Brakey and also serve as district leader up in Boca Raton West. We had to get one last picture with elder Rellaford before he heads up to Boynton Beach to train elder Winslow. My last picture of the day was taken just before we chased elder Doria and his new trainee elder Levy off the couch so we could turn off the lights and shut the door on a very busy but spiritual transfer day. We then went home and collapsed.