Category Archives: Pre-mission

Blog about everything before we left

And the days dwindle down…

As we drove to the lawyer’s office this morning, I realized that in 73 hours we would be checking in at the MTC to start our mission. As I write this it is now down to 62 hours. I imagine we should be running around getting things ready, but instead Mary is watching ‘Polar Express’ and I am recording some new music from the web.

Earlier we went to the movies with the Alexanders – Deja Vu – and then to the ward Christmas party. Other than that it has been mainly studying Indonesian.

I do have some things that need to be done – including checking to see if the sale of the apartments over on Main street is going along without any problem. I imagine we would have heard from the buyers it things were not OK. Also there are some things that need to be done on the BYU rentals. But all in all I think things are pretty much under control.

 I am going to ask Mike, Bob, and Tom to not tell us any problems unless they are really something they can not work out between them. I do not want to have anything from home interfere with what we are doing in Indonesia.

I would be happy to get on the plane and head for Indonesia tomorrow. I do not seem to be worried at all. However I am sure when the time really comes to head for the airport, the reality of it all will set in.


It is about 8 a.m. and I am looking out my window at the snow covered landscape. Frosted trees, white blanketed deck and yard, Cline Black’s snow shingled roof. Soon this sight will just be a memory to think about in the heat and humidity of Indonesia.

 Last night I went to serve in the temple for the last time before we leave. It was mentioned that it would be my last time and some of the brothers asked me about the mission and wished me well.

 I had the opportunity to officiate in one of the sessions and it went very well, except at the very end I was thinking too much about the fact that it was my last session and got up too early. So I went out saying maaf-maaf in my mind. The rest of the evening went by quickly and it was not long before I was helping my last parton. Then all I had to do was change and carry out my suit bag which will hang in the closet until I get home.

 Earlier in the day we had our lesson with sister Tippets and I realized that I have a pretty good idea about the how Indonesian is constructed and it is my limited vocabulary that is really holding me back. However I continue to believe that there is a reason for us to learn Indonesian well enough to communicate with the Indonesian people. Therefore I will try hard to reach that point and trust that the Lord will help me when it is needed.

 I have not written about the family gathering for Thanksgiving. I guess that is because they were here and therefore know how wonderful it was. I know I will miss each of them but I also know that what we are doing will help our family. They will know that we have strong testimonies of the gospel and that we are going on this mission to share the blessings the Lord has given to us.

I am really not worrying about what will happen to our earthly goods while we are gone. I am sure that our family will take care of things for use. However, other than the family, nothing is being left behind that is not replaceable.

 I just looked up and did a double take because it looked like there was a huge snow covered mountain range at the South end of the valley. It took a couple of seconds to realize it was nothing more than a cloud bank. I tried to take a picture but it could not capture the effect. Even as I write this the clouds have moved and the ‘range’ is quickly disappearing.

 It is very cold today – sangat dingin hari ini. It is not supposed to get above freezing. In Jakarta at 9 at night it is 81.

We just got a call from brother and sister Hash who are going to the Indonesia and are now in the MTC. We are going to try and see them on Thursday night. I think they are going to the area we would have gone to if our mission had not been changed. After talking to them I am a little disappointed that we are staying in Jakarta. But I am sure it was the Lord’s desire that it is working out this way.

Yesterday in the temple I spoke with a brother who with his wife has served missions in the South Pacfic and Egypt. In the Pacific they served on an island that was about 100 yard wide and 30 miles long. It had one road running down the middle. They worked for CES and made a major difference in the five branches on the island. As I listened I realized that the Lord expects us to be inspired to do as much as we can to build up the kingdom. Just as in any calling we need to give the full two mites to receive all the blessings.


Calling a Counselor

When I was bishop of Redondo III, one of my first counselors told me he was moving. As I started to think and pray about a new counselor, I was inspired to call my ward financial clerk, Lewis Cobabe.

Lewis had been the original bishop of RIII and also the Stake President. He was known to be a little sharp at time and also tended to use profanity at work. However Lewis and I got along well, the spirit was telling me he was the correct choice, and so I took the name to the stake presidency for approval.

 When I told them who I felt the Lord wanted, they were all shocked. All of them had worked with Lewis and infact the stake president had been one of his counselors. The second counselor had been in the stake high council when Lewis was president. Each of them gave me some good reasons why they did not think Lewis would make a good counselor. One told me that he did not work well with youth and as second counselor he would be over the YM and YW program. Another suggested he was not very good as a follower. They also brought up the fact that he had served both as bishop and stake president and wondered how this would affect how he served. I told them that I was aware of most of Lewis’ attributes – good and bad – but since I was sure he was the Lord’s choice, I still thought he was to be my counselor so they said they would consider my choice.

After the meeting I started thinking about what they had said and so I went to the Lord and asked for further confirmation, but none came. Over the next few weeks I heard from the stake president that they were still considering the calling and each at times expressed their doubts. Although I had no new spiritual confirmation, I continued to back Lewis as the Lord’s choice, and finally they agreed. With some surprise Lewis accepted the calling and he was to be sustained the next Sunday.

All during this time I was praying and telling the Lord that if I had misunderstood about Lewis, I could still make a change. Nothing came from the prayers. I continued praying about this through the Sunday morning and even into the sacrament meeting. Nothing! Finally it got to the time when the president was getting up to make the change.

At that time as clearly as if He was speaking to me, I was told that yes Lewis was the Lord’s choice. And then the Lord told me that in the future when He had given me an answer to pray through the spirit, that I was not to bother Him again about the same subject.

I learned a great lesson that day and Lewis proved to be one of the best counselors I had while I was bishop. We shared a major experience of building a new chapel and I will tell about that another day.

Indonesian – all day?

15 November 2006 – Thursday

We spent most of the day from the time we got up until after our lesson ended at 5 PM. I did take time out for a nap but other than that I was busy reading, listening to and writing Indonesian. We were to share our testimony in Indonesian. I wrote mine on the computer and then Mary helped me make corrections and guess at how to say some things. As part of the lesson Sister Tippets made some corrections and now I have a short testimony and a more complete one that I will continue to study and practice.

Sister Tippets asked if I felt the spirit as I shared my testimony. I told her that I did not because I had to concentrate so hard on saying the correct words that it was hard to feel the spirit. She told me that I needed to practice it each day until I reached the point where I could feel

After our lesson we went to The Red Lobster where we had all you can eat shrimp. I had five servings and Mary had four. We had an interesting and very good waiter who as soon as his shift is over is going to get in his car and start driving home to Maine.

 I am now listening to music while I wait to go to a HP leadership meeting.

Musing about Mite vrs Mites

As I was thinking about our mission, the need to be a self-starter, and to magnify my calling, I got to wondering if I would put my whole effort into the work. Or if like so many things I have done in my life, be excited at the first but after a while only doing what was necessary to be considered to be fulfilling my call. This got me thinking about a talk I gave a couple of years ago about a subject that came through inspiration. A subject that I really needed for myself. I had a talk that I thought I would give pretty much worked out when I chanced to read the parable of what is known as the ‘widow’s mite.’

As I read the parable I noticed that the widow did not put in one mite but that she put in two mites. It was then said that ‘she gave her all.’ I had always thought of this as a story about the rich and giving money to help the church. However as I read the story this time I realized that it was about much more and the key was the fact that she had two mites to give.

If she had only one mite – as most people seem to think – then she only had two choices. To give nothing or to give ‘her all.’ Her having two mites adds a third choice – she could give only one of her two mites. In that way she contributes to the kingdom but still keep back something for herself.

In my talk I pointed out that I realized that I was often a ‘one mite’ giver when it comes to serving in the kingdom, raising my family, etc.  Although I put some effort and time into a calling, home teaching, and personal and family spiritual growth, I do not ‘give my all.’ I hold back that one mite for personal use. That is instead of really preparing for a home teaching visit, I throw something together at the last minute. Instead of looking for ways to magnifying my calling, I do what is necessary to get buy. When I should have been reading the scriptures or Sunday’s lesson, I would find myself listening to music or reading a novel.

 Now this does not mean that I was not doing my calling or was doing bad things, but it did mean that I was not ‘giving my all’ as I had promised in the temple. It also meant that the Lord could not bless me and our family as He wanted to. That is I was not eligible to ‘always have His spirit’ to be with me.

The problem with being a ‘one mite’ giver is that most people think I doing an excellent job in the church and in my personal life. But as I kneel to pray, as I write in my journal and report my day, I know and I know the Lord knows that I am holding back. I am sure that makes Him very sad. He gave everything for me and I am not willing to return that to Him. Also I am sure He is sad because He can not give me the blessings that knows are available when I am a ‘two mite’ giver.

My prayer is that I will commit myself to be truly a full ‘two mite’ missionary – a ‘two mite’ member of God’s church. That I will not find excuses for doing less than my best. I am hopeful that at the end of our mission the Lord will be able to say to me – ‘Well done my true and faithful servant.’



Lunch with Elder Carmack

15 November 2006 – We had an interesting morning and lunch today. We headed towards Salt Lake at about 9:30. Our first stop was the cleaners to drop off the suit I am taking to Indonesia. Then we got gas at Costco, where we pulled right up to the pump. Gas there is down to $2.03 a gallon – about $1.00 less than we were paying a couple of months ago.

Next was a stop at Mike’s office to pick up some new glasses for Mary. From there we drove down State street and Mary remembered we should stop at the CostCo there and get toilet paper or we would have to start using old newspapers. While there I found some nice lightweight black dress pants on close out for $10 and amazingly they had 4 pair in my size. Continuing down State, we came to the Sears store and I remembered I still needed some white short sleeve shirts. A quick trip inside bagged me 4 shirts and that finished off my clothing needs for the mission.

 We got to park under the Church office building. The security there is really tight but the men are very curteous. When we got into the building and reached the security desk, they already had our temporary passes ready to go.

We had a great lunch with Elder Carmack. He had salads waiting for us and so we sat right down and ate. As we ate we talked about our families, shared experiences, and then about Indonesia. I took the opportunity to check two stories about his experiences as mission president that I have used in a number of talks and lessons. I was glad to know that I got the main points correct.

The important thing that I heard was that we should feel free to find new ways to be effective missionaries. He said when he first arrived as the Asian Area President, there was little going on. He said about all they had to do was answer 4 or 5 letters a week. He soon changed that around by visiting all of the areas, opening new ones – including Mongolia where the Carlson’s from our ward went – and in other ways magnifying his calling. I am hoping that we can do the same kind of thing. I am just wondering what our travel budget will be.

The trip home and the rest of the day was very normal. In the evening I went home teaching and then we went to Albertson’s where we bought drinks for the family gathering for Thanksgiving.


Nothing really new going on, but yesterday as I sat in church I thought about a conversation that I had recently with Tom. I told him some spiritual experience I had and he said he had never heard it before. As I thought about that I decided I would use this blog to write some of those I remember so my family would have a record of some of the special times in my life.

 The first one that I remember came when I was investigating the church. Two wonderful ward missionaries – Grant Anderson and Merrill Johnson – were my teachers. Frank Gonzalez, my cousin and neighbor, and his family had joined a few months before. Frank said that I should listen to the missionary lessons. I can not remember why I agreed but I did. Probably it was because Frank and his family was very close to me at that time.

My missionaries did not have an easy time. Mainly because Frank gave me a copy of the missionary lessons so I knew what they were going to ask me. Since I was 19 and thought I was smart, I carefully made sure that I did not answer the questions the way I should.

At that time the lessons were basically a series of questions that any reasonable person would answer in a certain way so they would reach a point where they natually asked to be baptized. Of course being a smart-ass I was determined not to go along.

To make a long story short, after a number of for what to them must have been frustrating lessons, one of them looked me in the eye and told me that I needed to earnestly pray to God to know if what they were teaching was true. From reading the lessons I already knew that logically the gospel made sense, but I had not done anything to try and get a spiritual witness. Therefore the suggestion to pray came at just the right time. So I prayed and got a spiritual witness. This of course led to my joining the church.

Many years later, when we were serving our MTC mission, I used the story of my own conversion to tell missionaries in the MTC that they should never teach the gospel without the spirit. Even if they are just teaching their companions. Until a missionary can get a person to sincerely pray to know the truth, they will have little success in converting them. They may get them to be baptized but they will not be converted until the spirit has told them that the church is true.

Two for the price of one

Tuesday November 7 was composed of Indonesian in the morning and the temple in the evening. Nothing really new about trying to learn Indonesian – Mary continues to do reading and learning the vocabulary while I continue to struggle. But I am not discouraged – at least not very often or very long.The temple was amazing. Four things happened there that I had never before experienced. Two I can write about and two I can not. For the first time in the five or six years I have been serving in the temple we had a sister in our session faint. We had to stop the endowment and get her some medical help. She was able to walk out of the room by herself but later I found she did go home. The other thing was that I did not pay attention to where I was supposed to be and so almost missed working in the initiatory booth. However for some reason I left where I thought I was supposed to be and went down to see if they were busy in the booths. When I found they were, I volunteered to help and the man in charged said that was nice since I was supposed to be there. Opps! Anyway they had all the booth going and so it was a good thing I was prompted to show up. The temple was slow but the spirit was still strong. It is a very special place to serve. Mary spent the afternoon working on her extraction work so she can leave a clean slate for sister Nixon.Wednesday November 8 was busy. Early morning was spent on Indonesian – nothing new there. I am listening to some of the conference talks in Indonesian and trying to follow the written text. Then I try to understand why the translator used the words they did. I do not know if it is helping but I try different things and hope something makes a break through.This freed us to run some errands. We went to South Towne Mall and did some shopping. I bought some summer pants and shorts that were on final closeout at Dillards for 99 cents. At Sears I bought some short sleeve white shirts. They only had 3 in the style and size I need so I am going to have to buy the other 4 on line. After shopping we went to Bryan Johnson’s to drop off a check so they can change where they take out our insurance payments. Then we dropped by ONB to pick up a rent check. We just missed Keith. The store looks very good but sales continue to be dismal. I do not miss being there at all.

The next stop was the bank and then lunch at a Chinese place. The food was very good. We were then going to the post office to send a package to ourselves in Indonesia. However Mary brought the wrong book and we did not have the mission home address so we came home. Mary napped and I worked on my Indonesian.

We left again at 2:15 to go and sign a contract to sell the apartments on Main Street in Orem. We are not gong to make any money – or at least not much – but we do get rid of a continuing source of problems. Also we will get enough cash to pay off the mortgage on the store. This way we will get all the rent instead of just half. It will insure that no matter what our mission costs we will have enough money. From there we went to the doctor’s where Mary got prescriptions for 18 months of her meds. It is a lot of medicine! It is a good thing that the mission insurance will pick up most of the costs. Our last stop was the post office where I paid $31 to ship 4 pounds to Indonesia. It is a good thing that Shawn gave me the purifiers.

So a few more things got crossed off our to do list. Hopefully we will get most of it done before everyone gathers for Thanksgiving.

Late – but not my fault

Monday – November 6, 2006. I wrote this about 5 PM on Monday but when I tried to post it, the site failed. It was not until I started to write a new post tonight that I realized this post was not on the blog/ 

I had a strange feeling this afternoon when I continued my watching of the Sunday afternoon session of October conference. Since I had slept through most of it when it was broadcast live, this was the first time I had actually seen it. As I pointed out in my last post, both Elder Bednar and brother Merrill had included in their talk one of the points I used in my PH lesson on Sunday. Imagine my surprise when Elder Cardon of the 70 concluded his talk by discussing D&C 121:45, one of the two verses I used in my lesson. I decided if the next speaker talked about not having time to do things, I would be 4 for 4.

If I did not know that I had written the points in my lesson plan before looking at the session, I might think that their talks were the inspiration for my lesson. However it seems that the Lord was just letting me know that what I taught was in keeping with the counsel of the brethern.

One thing I did not mention in my last post was that I bore my testimony during Fast meeting. I think all of this preparation and study for our mission has moved my spiritual awareness up a notch or two. I was thinking about bearing my testimony but because we will be giving talks later in the month, I was not sure. Then during the sacrament I was reading from Micah 4:5 and the last part ‘and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever’ really struck me. I realized I had not listened to the blessing of the bread so I missed where it says ‘that they may always have His spirit to be with them.’ I thought of the great blessing that I have each week too not only renew my baptismal covenant but also I am reminded that I can have His spirit to be with me. I felt that I should share this feeling as well as my testimony, so I did.

Mary and I spent part of the day getting our financial house in order. We are transferring all the bill paying to Tom while we are gone. He will also be able to wire transfer money to our Indonesian bank. At least we will once we get an Indonesian bank account. We are also consolidating our bank accounts and getting rid of credit cards. Hopefully we will be to a point where we will just have our Discovercard and an American Express card during our mission.

I checked with the Deseret Mutual about Mary’s prescriptions and it seems that best way to do this is to buy all 18 months of any prescription that will keep and take them with us. The insurance will pay 75% of the cost if we order from a on-line pharmacy.

We got a letter from the couple we will be replacing and they have shadow leadership responsibility for 3 branches in Jakarta. This means that we will probably have the same branches. It seems that we go to one block meeting each week and then go to the English ward for the other Sunday. It will be interesting to see how this works.

We just finished making a peach truffle dessert to take to tonight’s High Priest activity. We are seeing if there is interest in a regular Monday night ‘Empty Nesters’ family home evening group.

A Spirtual Sabbath

05 November 2006 – Fast Sunday I only fasted for one meal and about 14 hours but I believe I was still within the spirit of the Law. Which is something that came up today in the Sunday School lesson on Isaiah 58. Brother and sister Tolley team taught the lesson and in the discussion about the fast I made the point that the Lord was pointing out that it was not the sackcloth and ashes that was important but what was going on within.My Priesthood lesson went really well. I discussed the 4 things below that I had learned through out my life from books, classes, scripture or revelation that had a lasting affect on me.If you do not have enough time to do something, you do not want to do it enough. This idea was taught by Marie Seimers at a Teacher Development Class in Lennox Ward over 40 years ago. It not only ruined one of my favorite excuses but also became part of my life. The other thing she taught that I remember is a quote from Shakespeare. “Unto thy own self be true and it shall follow as night the day, you can not be untrue to anyone.This idea was taught by Marie Seimers at a Teacher Development Class in Lennox Ward over 40 years ago. It not only ruined one of my favorite excuses but also became part of my life. The other thing she taught that I remember is a quote from Shakespeare. “Unto thy own self be true and it shall follow as night the day, you can not be untrue to anyone.

The Lord does not have me go to meetings to waste my time so there is something there for me. If I do not pay attention, I may miss that single item that was to make my day.

This came to me by revelation when I was complaining about a Stake meeting I had been at. I was walking back to the car with some other members when I was informed by the Lord that the problem was not the meeting but me.It is interesting that soon after deciding to use this point in my lesson, I was prompted to watch part of the October conference and the second talk was by Brother Merrill, the Sunday School president for the church, which was basically on the same subject.

The only problems you can solve are your own. This idea came from reading the biography of LeGrand Richards. His whole life was an example of this. It is based on the idea that if you make a problem your own you can figure a way to work on it. But if you think the problem requires someone else has to decide to change or take some other action before a problem can be solved, you are not able to solve that.

Let virtue garnish thy thoughts – 121:43 Although there were a number of other points I could make before the classes ended, I felt the right one to close with was this favorite of mine from the D&C. I went through it point by point and showed how it offered so much. Including having the Holy Ghost as your constant companion.

Although there were a number of other points I could make before the classes ended, I felt the right one to close with was this favorite of mine from the D&C. I went through it point by point and showed how it offered so much. Including having the Holy Ghost as your constant companion.As I gave the lesson I often felt the spirit and I think that the idea of the 50th section of the D&C was fulfilled. That everyone was edified and we rejoiced together. I am extremely grateful to my Father in Heaven for His help in preparing and giving this lesson.