Monthly Archives: March 2013

Blue Wednesday and the Fuzzy Pink Thing…

 It was a perfect winter day in Fort Lauderdale – warm, not humid, and no rain. We are going to miss this. But it was also perfect in other ways. We got to see a number of missionaries as they passed through the office and later at the Fort Lauderdale ward’s missionary correlation meeting. We spent much of the day training the Singletons. I must confess that I am not a very good trainer. I tend to show elder Singleton something once and then sit back and let him work it out for himself while helping when he gets stuck.  That is probably not the best way to train but it is how I like to learn. They are both doing a great job for only being here for three days.

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Elder Shipley was on an exchange with one of the Coral Springs ZLs elder Hunt. I really like elder Hunt who served as ZL in the Fort Lauderdale zone with elder Smoot for a transfer. He is a hard worker and always has a ready smile. While they were here the Collins came in to do some paperwork before heading out to try and find some housing for the many new areas that will be created for the next massive group of missionaries coming in April. Sister Singleton dressed perfectly for Ft Lauderdale’s Blue Wednesday but Mary chose pink.

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Elders Jones, Van Wagenen and Hafen stopped by and talked to sister Bare. Elder Singleton got a chance to meet the dynamic duo of elders Rondo and Pond. I asked elder Pond if they were going to have some baptisms this weekend and he said of course we will. The two red carts are strictly and in joke for Mary and myself. I will let you try to imagine why we find them interesting.

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At the Ft Lauderdale correlation meeting I embarrassed elder Burt by starting the group singing happy birthday. He turned a lovely shade of red. Elders Burt, Andelin and Thorne wait their turn to discuss their investigators. Brother Acevedo always is the last one in because he has to work until 6:00 when the meeting starts. Since the rule is that the last one to the meeting says the closing prayer he gets lots of opportunities to bless the missionary work in the ward.

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Notice the pink thing sitting in front of bishop brown. I talked about how he got it in an earlier post. When before the meeting the bishop stepped out to take care of something elders Gust and Shipley plotted to pick up the pink thing. Unfortunately I missed the money shot and for some reason got a very fuzzy picture of the two culprits. As I took the picture bishop brown came in and caught the two in the act! There is never a dull moment when you are in Fort Lauderdale ward.

Sisters – District Meeting – Happy Birthday Elder Burt!

 It was an interesting and spiritual Tuesday for us. We spent much of the day training E/S Singleton but we took time off to take them to the Fort Lauderdale district meeting which is always a great experience.

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Before we left for Fort Lauderdale the sisters from the Plantation district dropped by after their meeting. I could not pass up the opportunity to take a picture of the four of them and the three senior sisters who were in the office. I think sister Singleton was a little stunned by all the activity. She really did not know what to do when we did our silly picture…I am sure she will soon learn to join in the fun. Next to her are sisters Dougal, Stegelmeier, Merrill, Gordon, Pier and Bare – all above average missionaries. I finally got a picture of the three sister serving in the Riverside Park North area. Sisters Escorbore, Smith and Chavous are serving together. Sister Smith has two great missionaries helping her train.

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It was decided that this district meeting was the largest one any of the missionaries had ever been to. There were the 11 assigned to the area, the 2 zone leaders and 4 senior missionaries for a total of 17. If the assistants who are actually assigned to the area had been there we would have had to find places for 2 more. As usual the early birds were elders Andelin, Burt and Thorne – elder Thorne’s companion elder Brimley was there but not in the picture – as well as sisters Fletcher and Bean. In the middle picture I am not sure if elder Edwards is scratching his head or patting himself on the head while his companion elder Smoot is talking and elder Jones is texting. Elder Jones had a wonderful lesson plan where he asked all the missionaries to share what they felt were the most effective skill they used in the work. There was a lot of great discussion and sharing of experiences that produced a long list. He then asked each of us to concentrate on in proving one of these skills. The last picture shows elders Smoot, Jones and Van Wagenen during the lesson with the first skills on the board.

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Elder Burt’s 21st birthday is on Wednesday the 20th. Sister Bean baked him a beautiful cake and even brought candles and matches. We had to tell her that we are not supposed to light candles in the building so we had to go outside. Since the wind was blowing it was a challenge to get all the candles lite but we were successful. However soon after I snapped the middle picture while we were singing happy birthday  a breeze came out and beat elder Burt in blowing out the candles.

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Elders Rellaford and Winslow came down from Boynton Beach with the Collins for a medical reason and so we got to take their picture. They have good reason for smiling as they had a baptism on Sunday. Elder Bare spent the afternoon at the bike shed straightening up things. I must confess that it was a little hard to stand downwind to him before he headed home to take a well deserved shower.

Our Replacements Arrive…

 On Saturday afternoon we got to meet the couple who will be serving in our current callings for the next 18 months. The Singletons are a wonderful couple from Idaho Falls. We were at the office straightening up our desks so they would not realize how unorganized we are – or at least I am – when they arrived. We gave them a quick tour of the office and then we headed off for some lunch. After lunch we took them to their new apartment and helped them unload their car. They then did some unpacking and a quick nap before we showed them where to do their shopping.

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On Sunday they went to the Fort Lauderdale Ward. They made it there with no problem. They are not going to have any trouble with getting around once they figure out Florida driving. Maybe it would be better to say if they survive figuring out Florida driving habits. On Monday they came into the office and we spent a couple hour before staff meeting teaching them about their new calling. Basically I just turned things over to elder Singleton and he quickly learned how to pay bills – one of the things he will do almost everyday. They both have great attitudes and seem to have good computer skills. They are eager to learn. We are thinking in two or three weeks they should be able to do almost everything so we can spend some time traveling around the mission and of course start packing…not an easy task when we brought so much from home and accumulated more once we were here.

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On Sunday we picked up this beautiful young family for Church. Their 15 month old daughter, Summer, just was not willing to smile for a picture. At the end of today’s staff meeting I saw the Anderson’s holding hands as we sang the closing song and had to take a picture. I am going to have to check pictures from when we first got here but I think President Anderson’s hair is getting a little grayer. Sisters and Herrera and Judkins came in so sister Judkins could finish up the things she needed to get her driving privileges. I had to take a picture of sister Herrera’s very pretty tunic.  It was a strange p-day as they were the only missionaries to drop in. Usually three or four companionships come by. Even the APs did not show up to use the computers for their e-mail.

With the same attitude as Ammon that all glory goes to God for preparing people to accept the gospel, the mission had 42 baptisms for the week and are on track to reach 200 for the month. But no matter what the number the important thing is that these sons and daughters of God have started down the straight and narrow path that can lead to Eternal Life. Our prayers go with them that will continue to keep the commandments so they can enjoy all the blessings that the Lord has for them.

I Believe in Miracles…they come when we have faith, are obedient and work hard!

President Anderson’s letter taught about how missionaries are the happiest and most successful when they plan and work with diligence under the influence of the spirit. Here are the experiences he shared this week as once again the mission had 42 baptisms for a total of 121 in the first three weeks of March.

“When Ammon was his happiest, he was busy, engaged, and working his hardest to bring souls to Christ.

I love how you are teaching our new missionaries our culture of obedience and the importance of working hard:


“On my first night here, the assistants challenged us to invite everyone to be baptized. I was determined to do just that. It was around 8:00 pm and we had just finished praying before we went out harvesting. As soon as the prayer was finished, we turned around and there was a man walking his dog. We contacted him and left a blessing with him right there. He was the first person I invited to be baptized, and he accepted! It was exciting, but I didn’t think too much more about it since we had to pass him to another area. However, at the stake wide baptism on Sunday, this man was baptized! God really does put us in the path of those who are prepared and willing to follow His example and enter the waters of baptism.”


I love how hard you are working in planning with faith for your investigators to be baptized:


“This week, my companion and I have really sought to plan with the Lord and to really tune into the Spirit as we plan. Weekly planning, nightly planning, and comp studies have changed so much and are so much fun as we really strive to be innovative with the Spirit. Katrina was very nervous about religion and was not sure about being baptized again. Each day as we planned her lessons we prayerfully selected the commitments that we would extend to her and the doctrine she needed to understand in order to keep those commitments. As we did she started keeping the little commitments! She loved the Mormon Messages and we found that as she understood true doctrine that she would invite herself to keep the commitments. It is the best! She invited herself to be baptized! I love helping people seek learning by faith. Teaching by the Spirit is the ONLY way to go.” 


When you work hard, you get what you pray for:


“We had been praying all week to meet a family and we finally did!  When they first answered the door, we asked if we could come inside and leave the blessing with them, and they let us in to say the prayer.  We got on our knees and the whole family was together and my companion offered a simple but powerful prayer.  After the prayer the spirit was so undeniably strong.  We testified of what they were feeling and that God had sent us there and invited them to be baptized.  The dad then chimed in and said that he had been praying for his family to get closer to God and that he had been asking God to send him messengers.  He bore testimony to his whole family that we were sent to them by God.  It was incredible!  They came to church on Sunday and are preparing for baptism!”

Blue Wednesday?

I have been doing this blog for over 6 years with breaks between missions. At first in Indonesia I wrote a lot and only put in a few pictures. In South Africa I wrote a little less and put in more pictures. Since we started this mission it has mainly pictures with the writing talking about the pictures and the people in them. I like this best…but I do like going back and reading what was going on in detail back in Indonesia. It will be interesting to see what happens with the next one.

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This is the picture of the lizard that sister Stegelmeier was unhappy about. I love the colors on it’s back. I do not remember seeing one of these when we were in South Africa. The scene with lots of different animals is also a typical but we did see things like this. We never got tired of seeing elephants. Especially herds with younger animals.

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Sisters Gordon and Dougal came in to get their new phone up and working. This young lady was born about Christmas time and had this head of hair even as she came into the world. Elders Burt and Andelin came in to pick up some supplies for the companionship of sisters in the new Riverside Park area. While they were here they also picked up some necessary supplies for themselves…missionaries are always hungry.

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We went to the Fort Lauderdale ward’s missionary correlation meeting and elder Bowen came in on an exchange with elder Gust. Bishop brown was a little less formal than usual – normally he has on his scout shirt. He explained that they are having their bedroom remodeled and he can not find any of his clothes. I told him it seemed like a good reason to me. I mentioned that the Fort Lauderdale district had Brown Thursday. As I was editing these pictures I noticed that elders Thorne, Brimley, Jones and Van Wagenen all had on Bruin blue ties and wondered if they also have Blue Thursdays!

Three New Sisters Join the Fort Lauderdale Mission

If a missionary arrives at the MTC and has good skills in the language they are going to be using in their mission, they are usually sent to the field after just 2 weeks of basic teaching skills training. We were happy to have three new above average Hermanas come in yesterday. All of them were already proficient in Spanish so they will have four extra weeks in the field to bring their brothers and sisters unto Christ.

sis-choui.jpgHermana Chiou will trained by sister Bagley in the Coconut Creek North area of the Coral Springs zone.

sis-smith.jpgHermana Smith will be serving with sisters Escobores and Chavous in the new Riverside Park North area of the Fort Lauderdale Zone.

sister-espinoza.jpgHermana Espinoza will be trained by sister Pickup in the Hollywood Hills West area also in the Fort Lauderdale Zone.

Monday – Senior Lunch *** Tuesday – District Meeting

 We usually have a staff meeting with president and sister Anderson on the second monday of each month. However they have been touring the mission interviewing missionaries and inspecting houses for most of last week and the first part of this one so it was cancelled. I thought I had told everyone but it seems I had a senior moment when it came to the Collins because they thought it was still on.

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One of the senior missionary traditions that has become popular is that on the Monday when there is staff meeting all the couples who want to go to Scrufy’s BBQ and have lunch together. On Monday you get a full rack of tender baby-back ribs and all the fixings for $9.95. It is a great lunch and there is always lots of discussion going on. Elders Bare and Collins were busy discussing things at the end of the table. The Ellis’ were sharing thoughts as were sister Collins and Mary. Of course I was taking the pictures. The food is great and there is enough that I took home enough for a great lunch.

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Tuesday is Fort Lauderdale District’s day for district meeting. Today was both a lot of fun but also very spiritual. Before the meeting sisters Bean and Fletcher were bookends for elder Thorne and Brimley who are seen actually studying before the meeting. As we were waiting for the ZLs and elder Jones to come and start the meeting I noticed elder Thorne had not one but two cameras and I had to take that picture.

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This started a round of taking pictures of people talking pictures. Sister Bean and Fletcher are looking at pictures while elder Edwards takes one of me and it appears elder Smoot is sleeping. By now you know the cast and the pictures speak for themselves.

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Elders SmootJones and Van Wagenen took a while to warm up to the idea but elder Jones did join in. I really like the shot of elder Edwards taking a picture of a picture on sister Fletcher’s camera. We are really easy to entertain.

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Elder Smoot woke up and joined in the picture taking. Only elder Van Wagenen did not take any pictures. After the picture taking the meeting settled down the work of the district with a discussion of goals and how to achieve them. Elder Jones had prepared an excellent lesson on how we need to purify ourselves and have our eyes single to the glory of God if we are gong to be the kind of missionaries the Lord needs. If you have followed this blog for any time you will know that I often take pictures of a couple of cats that are often setting in windows near our apartment. This morning we found a new one carefully looking over it’s kingdom and the boring people who walk by. Sisters Bagley and Chavous came in and looked at the new Zones with Pictures board that I had finished yesterday. Elder Beer will have to find some place else to do his graffiti. The sisters are are going to be trainers for two of the three new sister missionaries that came in today.

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Sister Stegelmeier is having a difficult time getting a duplicate driver’s license from Utah. She and sister Merrill came in to talk to elder Bare about what to do and the possibility of her getting a Florida license if she can not get one for Utah. She was a little upset when she found that I had put a picture of an African lizard over her picture. Sister Merrill is as usual laughing in the background. As she is also doing in the picture of her companion with Mary.  They are a powerful pair of missionaries who truly serve with all their heart, might, mind and strength to invite others to come unto Christ.

Office Graffiti, Office Workers and New Ducklings…

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Yesterday I wrote about elephants, wildebeests, etc. Today’s animals are much smaller. I was very surprised and happy to see the first spring ducklings on the lake. 6 little ones made their way across the lake while being watched over by mother and then joined by dad. They keep them in line by pecking at them when they try to stray. Hopefully some of them will make it to maturity but the survival rate due to illness and predators is not very high.

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Sisters Stegelmeier and Merrill came in to talk to elder Bare about medical miles. They have a very large area and for a while can not use bikes. Since they have a goal of 15 baptisms for the month…or is it 20…well one of the two and they really think they can achieve this, they need to be able to get to their appointments. Elder Bare will work it out. While they were here they asked if they could help and so sister Merrill ended up shredding old driver’s paperwork while sister Stegelmeier crossed out old names on some file folders so they could be reused. She is looking a little put out because one of those names she crossed out was Sister Makayla Dye who was her trainer and very good friend.


With all the new missionaries coming into the mission there is a need to have more space for missionary pictures and Zones with Pictures. Right now they are on the same board but it will soon be too small so I got a new board that will have just the Zone With Pictures and the other will have the transfer date pictures. Elder Bare basically put the new board up for me. I never thought about the fact that a brand new, pristine white board was just too much temptation for some elders. When I came back into the office I found it covered with elder Beer’s Graffiti. But as I looked at it, I had to approve because it is all about missionary work and goals…I especially agree with the 200 baptisms for March! That is the goal I would really like to see reached in this last full month we will be here. I will leave it up until next week when Zones with Pictures will be going up.

Washington Seattle Mission – Get Ready for Hermana Pier

 Thanks to Facetime, 0n Wednesday night we got to watch one of our beautiful granddaughters open her mission call. McKay is going to Washington, Seattle mission and will preach the gospel in Spanish. She goes into the MTC on June 19th. We are excited that we will be home to go to the temple with her.

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The last picture is of McKay and her sister Gentry and Gentry’s fiancee Devan. Gentry and Devan are planning a temple marriage for May 21 so McKay will get to be there to watch their sealing. We are going to have a pretty busy time for a while as we will also finally get to see one of our grandchildren graduate from college soon after we get home.

Elephants and Brown Thursday….

 Tembe Elephant Park has a great webcam location near a watering hole. In the morning we like to look at the website to see what animals might be there. Because morning in Florida pretty much matches the best time to see animals, we often see a good variety. Having elephants there is always a bonus. Today there were elephants, wildebeests, a couple of different kinds of antelope and even a couple of zebras. One strange animal that we have never seen at the watering hole arrived later in the morning. It was smaller than any of the other animals and walked on two legs.

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Elders Brown and Rugg came into get supplies for their district. Because of Zone training meetings this week, district meetings got moved to later. We went to Fort Lauderdale’s. Elders Brimley and Andelin along with sisters Bean and Fletcher were among the first to arrive. Elder Van Wagenen seems to be talking to his fist.

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This is not the greatest group of singers in the mission but we certainly try. Elders Thorne, Brimley, and Smoot  joined in but elder Edwards had to just be with us spirit because he was getting over a cold. Sister Bean – you can see her eyes above the piano – played while elder Jones led. But Sister Fletcher practiced her leading while she sang. Elder Shipley has a pretty good voice and elder Gust really sings with a smile on his face with great gusto.