Category Archives: Pre-mission

Blog about everything before we left

A great Saturday

October 4, 2006 – Saturday. The morning was filled with studying Indonesian and preparing for my PH lesson tomorrow. Our studying of Indonesian – we are working on prefixes – did not go so well. The rules for prefixes are difficult and we ended up with more questions than answers. But we will try again tomorrow and see if having a day to digest some of the information helps.

Preparing for my PH lesson went much better. On Thursday I was sure I knew what I was going to teach and had made a start on a lesson plan. However as I sat down this morning to flesh it out, I was prompted to change it completely. Instead of talking about D&C 50, I was impressed to share some of the things I learned from classes, books and the scriptures that have made major differences in my life. After making this decision things went well and I soon had most of the thoughts I wanted to share and then have discussed.

I finished with the preparation just when it was time for lunch. Mary was out doing grocery shopping for tonight’s gathering and so I sat down in front of the TV with my chicken and rice. As I looked through the list of recorded programs I felt that I should watch part of a conference session. When I hit the button for the Sunday afternoon session I found that I had stopped it just as Elder Packer was ending his talk.

To make a long story short, I listened to Elder Bednar and Elder Merrill’s talks. I found both of them spoke to things I needed to hear. Elder Bednar’s point was that we needed to take responsibility for our actions and not try to let others actions affect our relationship with God. Elder Merrill’s talk was about what we need to do to get the most out of church meetings. Both of these subjects are among those I was going to teach at Priesthood tomorrow. I took this to mean that I was in tune with the spirit as to the lesson plan.

We called Olivia this morning to wish her Happy Birthday and caught the family out having breakfast. Olivia really likes to talk on the telephone but I am afraid I am not often hearing what she is saying. But her excitement and sweet spirit comes through clearly.

We also called Steve to see if they were coming for Thanksgiving and found that they could not get it all together so they will not be here. We had a good talk about work and his trip to China. It sounds like he was busy every minute of the two weeks he was gone. Maybe the next time he goes to China he can take a quick trip down to Indonesia to say hello.

Bob and his family arrived about 4:00 and from then until about 8:00 we had a lovely gathering of family. The main entertainment before dinner was watching ‘Footloose.’ The grandchildren wanted to know why the film was so important to those who were young in the middle 80’s. I do not think I have ever watched it all the way through before.

Tamara and Andy, Daniel and Becky joined us for a family spaghetti dinner. After dinner a group of us played ‘Mexican Train.’ As usual I did not do well. A couple of times Tamara was one away from winning but skillful play by others kept it out of her grasp.

After everyone had left and we finished cleaning up, Mary and I watched ‘Numbers.’ Then I was ready for bed but spent some time writing email and looking at my lesson plan. Mary watched a couple of other of her favorites that had been recorded before we turned off the lights and headed for bed.

It was a good Saturday. I feel that I am getting closer to the spirit each day. I know that I will need to have Him close if I am to be effective on our mission.

Indonesian in Westminister

November 3, 2006 – I guess it should not be a surprise that Indonesian is consuming more and more of our time. For example, this evening we went to hear a piano recital at Westminister College and as we were waiting for it to start we studied Indonesian in the lobby. I would guess that does not happen everyday. What I thought was interesting was no one paid any attention to our trying to speak this strange language.Actually we did not study as much today as we usually do. That was because we spent most of the day in Salt Lake. Mary went up to see Mike and get new glasses before we leave. After that we had lunch where we read novels instead of Indonesian. Then we went to the distribution center when Mary ordered her garments that she will need to take with us. A trip to downtown SL to see if we could get some things from the closing of The Inn at Temple Square proved useless. It seems that almost everything was sold yesterday – the first day of the sale. We then looked at some art galleries – nothing special – and finally we stopped in at the art spaces on Pierpont avenue. By then it was about time to head up to the college to find where we would be later in the evening. We studied Indonesian for about an hour before getting something to eat and then going back to the college to hear Shostakovich’s first 12 Preludes and Fugues played by Kori Bond.

In the morning I asked Mary for Olivia’s birthdate and she told me it today, so I called and left a message telling her Happy Birthday. On our trip to Salt Lake she realized that today was not the 4th but the 3rd and so I had called a day early. I can not complain since I seldom remember birthdates of our children, let alone our grandchildren. I do wish I had Mary’s memory.

A Day for Indonesian

Thursday, November 2 – was a day for studying Bahasa Indonesian. I started as soon as I woke up and pretty much continued with doing something with the language until 2:15 when we finished our lesson with sister Tippets. Much of the time was looking up the meaning of words that Mary found in the first discussion plan that she did not know. If I had made the list it would have been much longer. Luckily we have the English version to use along side the Indonesian version so at least I have a starting place to try and figure out what it means. I am sure I am absorbing more and more of the language but it is still frustrating at times. Mainly it comes when I find I can not translate words I should know.

Mary spent much of her time running around doing errands. I am afraid that December 4th is going to rush up on us before we even notice. It is hard to imagine that in just about a month we will be set-apart as missionaries. Personally I could pack up and get on a plane today. But that may be because I would like to just leave without needing to worry about all the details that still need to be worked out.

We got another nice letter from the Leishmans telling us more about house and car rentals. I guess we will spend the first week or so finding an apartment, getting a car and driver, and stocking up with food, etc. It will be something like when we first got married. I can still picture the two cart loads of groceries that totaled an amazing $100. Today I would bet the same load would cost $500.

In the evening I had a group leadership meeting. I am going to miss working with Gordon and Steve. We have been a good team for the last three or four months. Gordon indicated that he had been considering a replacement for me. As we went through the list of the older members of the ward and their illnesses. Steve Gibson asked – “Is this what we have to look forward to?”

One funny thing did happen this morning – Friday. I was reading the Deseret News and came across a heading that started “Meningitis.” Since so many Indonesian words start with ‘me,’ for just a brief second I found myself trying to figure out what the word meant in English. When I told Mary about the experience she had a good laugh. I guess the Indonesian lessons are having some effect on my mind.

A birthday in the MTC

Wednesday night – November 1 – we went to the MTC to share some time with the Indonesian class. It turned out to be Elder Roper’s 19th birthday and so we got to share his excitement of this special day. We sang his favorite song – Put your shoulder to the wheel – in Indonesian and he read us some of the letter he got from a friend serving in Brazil. From a conversation that took place the Mongolian elders were supposed to sing him the Mongolian Happy Birthday song but their teacher told them it was really boring.

The first part of the class was reading from Preach My Gospel and I am ashamed to say that I did not participate. Mary on the other hand did a great job. I did come up with the meaning of a couple of words that the missionaries asked about. Later we had about an hour with sister Tippets where we developed a very short version of the first part of the first lesson. When we got home I expanded it a little and today – Thursday – we will practice it with Sister Tippets as an investigator.

We spent much of Wednesday morning working on Indonesian. I was working on the first lesson in PMG and developed a new word list. It was about 15 words and that was just from the first two short paragraphs. We later wrote sentences that used those words. We will have sister Tippets check them today. Mary can now translate about 70% of what she reads in Indonesian. I get about 25% but I am determined that with the Lord’s help I will master the language enough that I can be a successful active missionary.

On the home front, it looks like we will be able to sell the property on Main street in Orem before we leave. We will not get what it is worth but since it has been a pain to get the rent – and often not getting it – I think we are better off selling than have the family struggle with it while we are gone. We will take some of the money and pay off the store so that all the rent will come to us. Most of the rest will go to taxes and tithing but we will have a good income that we can depend on.

We got an e-mail from the missionary couple that we will replace. I had sent them one asking a number of questions about the mission. The Leishmans will go home about a month after we get there. This means we will have a month to be trained. Elder Leishman said that it cost them about $2000 a month but in looking over some of the monthly expenses he listed – including renting a car and a driver – I think it will be more like $2500. He assured me that there are good cell-phone and inter-net services in Indonesia.

Yesterday was the day the catalpa tree dropped all it’s leaves. I forgot to go out just as the sun came over the mountain to watch the majority of the leaves fall in just minutes. But later when we left to go shopping the nice clean driveway we had yesterday is not covered with a thick layer of plate sized leaves. Now that it and the maple has dropped their leaves, about the only leaves left are on the fruit trees.


Continued –

Tuesday – We left for Oregon at about 5 a.m. The trip took a little longer than usual for a couple of reasons. First we had to make a couple of extra stops along the way. One was to get drinks since I managed to leave the filled ice chest on the kitchen counter. The second was not so much extra as longer. We took the time to sit down and eat our lunch at a Subway in the middle of Oregon. Unfortunately the staff was not very fast so it took a while to get our food. The other problem was that we ran into pretty much steady rain from about 60 miles outside of Portland to where we turned towards Salem. But even with that we managed to make it in just over 13 hours.

It was great to see the Oregon Piers – especially William and Kelli. William had just turned 6 months a few days before and as usual he was happy to be hugged and held by grandparents. Kelli was excited to see us but still is not into too much cuddling.

Tom showed us the downstairs library, family, guestroom he has been working on. He has done a great job and It is getting close to being finished. The main thing left to do is to get the carpet laid. I am jealous of all the bookshelves. But my guess is that he already has enough books to almost fill them.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – They kind of blended together. Mainly I had my teeth worked on – Shauna took really good care of me – and we read a lot. We did spend an afternoon in Silverton looking at stores and then eating at a family restaurant that had an outside deck that stuck out over the river. It was a beautiful day, the food was good and we took our time reading and enjoying the sun before we finally got up and left. Mary spent some time working on her extraction – I did almost nothing really useful. It was rather like a last vacation before heading off for our mission. Speaking of that, the one thing we did not do much of during our trip was to study our Indonesian.

Saturday we were up and away at about 5:20 a.m. Tom, Shauna and William all stood at the door and waved goodbye. Well William is not quite up to the Goodbye waving stage but at least he was there. We let Kelli enjoy her sleep.

The trip home was an hour shorter. I had replaced the cooler and we ate lunch on the fly. The trip through Oregon has some great sites. The Columbia River Gorge in the early morning light is always beautiful. The scenery is always changing with different cliff formations, different colors and even the way the water flow changes along the long path. The other feature that we had not seen before is the changing leaves on the huge pulp wood forests that grow along the freeway. One is miles long and probably as deep. Rows and rows of tall trees planted maybe 20 feet apart. What made it especially beautiful was that not all the sections of the trees were in the same stage. Some were still green, some were lighter green, some were light yellow and some were golden. On our way to Portland the sun was well down in West and it seemed to accent the golden color. On way back home the sun was just coming up and was filtered through some morning clouds. This gave very subtle shading to the colors. It was truly beautiful.

We got home just after 7 – we did stop for dinner in Provo – and it was good to walk into our own house.

To Write or Not to Write

At times it is difficult for me to sit down and write about the everyday things that are going on in our world. At other times it is impossible for me to stop. The last week has been one of former. It is not like nothing happened that was important only that I did not feel like sitting down and writing about it – at least not at the time. Another problem I have is trying to play catch-up – my memory seems to get twisted around so I am never sure that what I write is what actually happened. Of course once I write it down it becomes the truth unless someone else corrects me. That soon gets into a major philosophical discussion that I will just as soon leave alone.

Saturday the 21st was a really nice day. I spent the morning working in the yard. Steven Kay came over about 10 and finished up what we had started yesterday. The weather was cool but nice. The Mitchell’s arrived sometime after 1:30 – I know that because the Cal game had already started. After they arrived Mike settled in to watch the game – I had recorded the start so he did not miss a play – and Tyler, Krista and Cindy went out and gathered up the leaves I raked up the day before. I went out and joined them – not in the work but just to talk. ***As I look out now – a week later – the lawn and driveway are once again covered in leaves***

Around 4, Bob, Lisa, Gentry, McKay and Rachel joined us and the rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent fixing and eating dinner, playing Phase 10, watching Cal manage to win their game in overtime and having Mike’s birthday party. The hit of the presents was Cindy’s gift. It was a lawn sculpture that shot flames. Luckily we had a bottle of fuel that worked so we got to see it in action.

All in all it was a really nice family day.

Sunday, since Gordon was out of town, I got to go to the early leadership meetings. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed it. I think the fact that I knew I did not have to do it on a regular basis helped. In the afternoon I went to visit one of my HT families. It was one of those times when I was glad I had the experience of being a bishop. I spent quite some time listening to the problems the family was having and giving some counsel. After I got home I called the bishop and he was already aware of most of what was going on. We talked some about what I could do to help. Mary was busy for much of the day working on an extraction package that she has had for a number of years. When I look at what she must read to try and figure out, I see nothing but a mess. But she has reached a point where she can make sense out of the blurred writing. I doubt I will ever hand the patience to do extraction.

Monday was a get ready day. We took the car down to Doug’s to have it serviced. Later we went to the distribution center where I bought the garments I would need for our mission and Mary found she had to order them from Salt Lake. I spent a part of the day cleaning up my music room. I had let it become a real mess with stacks of books, papers, cds, and other things everywhere. I would not say that I got it really clean but at least I can walk across it without watching where I step. In the evening we went over to the MTC to try and take part in the evening lesson. When we got there we found out that they did not have class. But the trip was not wasted because Mary made a copy of a chart in the room that shows how prefixes and suffixes are used. Later in the evening we packed up for our trip to Oregon.

Date Night

I studied Indonesian for a couple of hours in the morning.

Steven Kay came and we worked on rock moving and yard cleanup. We finished the path from the Southeast corner to other paths or hard surfaces so now I can walk almost everywhere without going through mud, etc. We got about ½ of the yard cleaned. Steve filled both large trashcans and eight 45 gallon trash bags but still has a lot more cutup and bag tomorrow. At this point I do not think I am going to miss yard work while on our mission. However I will probably feel quite different come next spring – that is when it is spring in Utah.

What I am going to miss is the beautiful fall weather. The air was crisp, the sky changed from blue to clouds to blue again. In the afternoon, a stiff wind blew fall leaves from North to South. At times it looked like huge flocks of bright gold birds were flying over the neighborhood.

While I was working in the yard, Mary went to ONB and helped Kristen figure out the quarterly taxes. Then she went to the Costco to get things for the family dinner tomorrow. When she got home she studied Indonesian while I went home teaching to Fred Takasaki.

I had a nice visit with Fred. I am one of the few people in the ward that he seems comfortable with. Especially when it comes to church doctrine. After knowing Fred for almost 20 years and home teaching him for 12 of those, I still do not fully understand his line of thinking. But he is a good man and is usually fun to be with.

On the way home from Fred’s I met up with Bill Lambert. He was on the way to have his blood pressure checked. We had a nice brief talk about everything from our mission to how well dahlias winter over.

In the late afternoon we went to see ‘The Prestige’ with Tom and Marilyn. I thought it was a good movie with some great twists and turns. Good acting, interesting characters, and few slow spots. All in all it was good entertainment.

By the time we got home I was really tired and fell asleep while we were watching ‘Numbers.’ Later I woke long enough to stagger to bed.


Yard Work

19 October 2006 – Thursday

I woke at 4 and studied Indonesian for a couple of hour. It continues to go in one eye and out the other. But so be it — all I can do is keep studying and trying. At about 8 we made a trip to the drivers license office down in Eastbay to get my license renewed or extended and to get copies of our driving record. The very friendly clerk informed me that I needed my mission call showing I would be out of the country when my license expired in 2007. So after getting a copy of Mary’s record we went home where I got my call and made another trip to the office. Luckily the place was still empty and it took only a few minutes to get everything finished. I am sure we will never have any use for driver licenses in Indonesia; I do not think they will let us drive in what was described to us as the worse traffic in the world. The rest of my morning was spent working in the yard. Steven Kay came over to help. We continued to move the pile of rocks to make paths through the oaks. I am trying to make it so I can walk from the house to the upper garden without getting my feet muddy. While Steve did most of the rock moving, I blew and raked leaves. This is a task that will not end until well into November when the fruit trees finally give up their leaves.

While I was doing yard work and later talking a nap, Mary was studying Indonesian and working on her extraction work.

At 4 PM we were at the MTC for our language lesson with sister Tippets. She tries very hard to keep me from becoming discouraged but I think has finally realized that she will only hold up Mary’s growing Indonesian if she tries to teach at my level of understanding. I am thrilled that Mary is starting to understand what is said when sister Tippets speaks Indonesia.

After the lesson we went to the mission store to buy another Indonesian book. As we were passing through the mail room line and in the store, I became aware of the multitude of languages being spoken. I told Mary that other than the United Nations building I doubted if there was anywhere in the world where you could hear so many languages at one time.

While we were in our lesson we got a ticket for illegal parking. They have changed it so the whole campus now requires an “A” permit. Since we need to park 2 to 3 times a week, I stopped by the office and got a temporary parking permit.

When we got home I fixed dinner – actually it was more like breakfast prepared 12 hours later in the day.

Gordon Creer called and told me he would like to hold a group leadership meeting at 7:00. It was a good meeting that concentrated on home teaching, the health of some of those we are responsible for, and how to meet the needs of the members of the group. It is a real pleasure to serve with Gordon and Steve. We seem to be really united in our thoughts about the group’s needs and how they should be met. There is a spirit of peace and fellowship when we meet together. It is a oneness that I hope we can help instill in the whole group.

It was a good and I think productive day.

Catching-Up 2

We were up early on Monday for our trip to Salt Lake. Although there were lots of cars on the freeway the drive went quickly so we arrived at The Inn on Temple Square a little early. This gave us enough time to study a little Indonesian before heading over to the Church Headquarters Building. The weather had changed overnight and it was quite brisk as we walked though a very quiet Temple Square. We spent a minute watching a crew start to put up the Christmas lights.The building security is quite tight. No one can get to the elevators without getting a pass. If you are a visitor you must check in at the security desk so they can let you though the turnstiles. Later in the day I forgot to do that and a gate came out and an alarm sounded.

The two days of training was interesting but I thought a little too long. The best part was getting to meet Elder and Sister King who were leaving on Wednesday to be PEF missionaries in Northern Brazil. Brother King was born there and Sister King is native South American. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Both are lovely people and should do well there. They were worried because their duties are not clear and they both like to have their duties neat and clear. As the training went on it became evident that they are going into a situation where there are some disagreements between the different PH leaders in the area about how PEF should be run in Brazil. I kept insuring them that the Lord would help them succeed. I think in trying to give them comfort, I was also counseling myself.

I think the staff were not quite sure how to handle Mary and myself. We were not called to be PEF missionaries but took the training because we knew Gordon Creer and Indonesia maybe the next country to be opened to PEF. The main problem is to find a way to legally extend loans in Indonesia. It turns out that Indonesian law prohibits private organizations to give loans and there is no bank in Indonesia that they feel will treat the students — especially those who are not paying on their loan – in a manner the church would approve. If there is to be a PEF program in Indonesia I am sure the Lord will provide a way to solve this problem.

Just before our training was over, Elder John Carmack came in to say hello. He remembered us from over 30 years ago when we went to him to get help with mom and dad’s estate. He was just about ready to leave to become mission president in Idaho. I have met him a couple of other times when he came to Torrance North Stake as part of the area presidency. Except for his hair being a little grayer he looks exactly the same. He has a smile that lights up any room. He invited us to come back sometime before we leave on our mission and have lunch with him.

After our training on Tuesday we picked up our car and went by to see Cindy’s family. There was no one home and when we called her, we found they were at piano lessons and would not be home for an hour. We decided to go have dinner at “Little America” and perhaps when we were finished we would go back. By the time dinner was over I was so tired that I just did not feel like doing anything but head home.

Since there was snow on mountain, about the first thing I did was moving the bougainvillea plants inside. I do not know if anyone will keep them while we are on our mission, but I decided I did not want to let a freeze kill them. Besides unpacking the car and writing a couple of e-mails, Mary watched ‘Dancing With the Stars’ I did not do much before heading off to bed at about 8:30.

Playing Catch-Up

It is surprising how quickly the days are going by. In two months we will be in Indonesia sweating while the snow should be falling on our home in Provo.

Sunday seemed busy from dawn to dusk. It started with Stake General Priesthood at 7 am. There was an excellent talk by a recently returned mission president who said that it is never too early to prepare for a mission. President Esplin discussed the new Family History program including extraction and indexing. Mary’s name got mentioned a number of times. The final speaker was President Jackson. Once again technology failed him – he could not get his powerpoint presentation to work. Since this is at least the third time this has happened during early morning meetings, I hope that he gets the message that his talks do not need powerpoint. His testimony and spirit is very strong when he just speaks.

After the block – Don and Caroline Petersen spoke about their mission in Russia – it seemed like there was something for one of us to do each hour. At about one Lynn Wardle came over to home teach.

After that I had an appointment with the bishop to get my temple recommend renewed. Since he had asked me all the questions a couple of months ago when he interviewed us for our mission, he gave me the short version.