Sunday, December 29, 2013

Brrr, It's Cold

December 29, 2013

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day, with  Lots of presents, Lots of love and time to remember the reason we celebrate.  Our Christmas was a memorable one. During the night on Christmas Eve, I awoke about 3:00 for my nightly pilgrimage .  It felt cold in the house, but I could hear the furnace running, so I went back to bed knowing that it would warm up soon.  Dad awoke at 5:00 and it was even colder.  The temperature in the house was 52.  The noise I had heard, was not the furnace but the blower and it was blowing cold air.  We couldn’t get it to turn off, so we gathered all the extra towels we had and put them on our bed...then got in where it was warm.  We stayed there until about 9:00.  We decided on a plan for taking showers....fortunately our bathroom is very small, so we ran the hot shower until the room was nice and warm and we quickly showered and dressed.  We knew our landlady was having her family for Christmas Breakfast, so we waited until 11:00 to go over and give her the news.  While we waited we turned the oven on 400 degrees and left the door open.  We fixed our skinny pancakes by the warmth of the oven....then hurried into the table to eat them while they were still warm.  Then a little drive in the car to get warm.  Miss Ruby was so sad that we were without heat.  She called the furnace man and he said he was “coming into town later” and would stop by. 
Her sons came over to see if they could light the gas burner in the one big room.  It helped quite a bit.  We could stay in there until Mr. Jones came.  (With our coats on).
He came about 4:00...he found the problem and he HAD the part.  So by 5:30 we started to have heat.  What a wonderful gift.  We loved the gifts we received and will enjoy them through out our mission. 
We have had another bout with rain.  It started Friday night and didn’t stop raining until very early this morning.  We got about 3 inches of rain.  It is HARD pelting rain.
One of the things our Mission President suggested that the Senior Missionaries do when things are slow, is to visit historical sites in our area.  We spent most of the day on Friday in Selma.  Selma is of course know for its role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and it also played an important role in the Civil War.  The largest ammunition plant was here.  We also took a driving tour of the Antebellum homes and other historic homes.  One large home was occupied by the Union Forces (NORTH)  as a hospital and the second floor was occupied by the wives and children of the Confederate Forces (South).  We went to Brown Church where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke.  I don’t know if that is where he gave his I have a Dream Speech, but there is a monument to him outside the church.  
The black churches in the South were the only place where they could meet to discuss the need for the Right To Vote.  The Civil Rights Movement was a Non Violent Movement, but there were many confrontations where blacks and some whites were killed and injured.  We crossed the Bridge over the Alabama River where the Marchers left Selma on the famous march to Montgomery.  They only allowed 300 to participate in the march, but by time they got to Montgomery, there were 25,000 marchers.  

As 2013 comes to a close, we thank each of your for so many wonderful memories.
We wish each of you a HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR with opportunities for new and joyful experiences.  Love Always, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Memorable Week in Alabama

Dear Family

As we sit here in Camden on the Sunday before Christmas, our hearts are happy and full for all the wonderful experiences we have had this past week. We did a lot of visiting and met some wonderful new folks.  Again we put some mileage on our car.   We went out to visit Miss Ernestine Vick Mannes on her 93rd Birthday.  She is the Matriarch of many of the members of our branch. (4 generations)  Some of them are very active and others are not.  She reminded me a lot of Grandma Murri in those last years, so happy to have her family all around her....the most important thing in her life.   Some of the Relief Society sisters met there to sing happy birthday to her and then we went Christmas caroling to Sister Barbara Kirchharr another Matriarch and then to our Branch President’s home.  Family is the most important thing to many of these people, even the ones who have quit coming to church.  The next night we went home teaching with our Branch President, President McIntosh.  Most of the people call him Uncle Bubba.  He is loved by everyone in the community.  We went tout to Vredenburg to meet Donnie and Debra Kirchharr: a wonderful couple who have wonderful pictures of their heritage.  Again, another tradition, the people tend to purchase the property of their family and extended family and treasure it like a photograph album  I asked Donnie what he does with his property and he said, I just go up there and enjoy the beauty and quite.
Friday was the most special day.  It was our weekly District Meeting which we held in Magnolia AL  Magnolia is so small it doesn’t have any stores. The pictures I hope Michelle was able to put on this blog are of the First Latter Day Saint Chapel in the area.  They are not sure if it was the first in Alabama. It was dedicated June 21, 1914.  They will have a 100 year Celebration next June.  This new chapel was built right next store.
There is a lovely cemetery to the east of the Old church.   After our meeting and the wonderful lunch provided for us by some of the ladies in the Branch, we sent inside the building.  The old church benches are still there.  Brother Martin said originally the long benches were in the middle and the short ones on each side.  They have the oldest piano I think I have ever seen.  One of the early missionaries, built the pulpit.  Two of our young Elders even got to “pull on the bell”   Sister Martin brought out the book that has been kept of all the missionaries who have served in Magnolia.  There were a lot of pictures and history in that little book.  A real TREASURE.  Brother Martin said LeGrande Richards came to that chapel several times to speak at different conferences.
The Church no longer owns the building, but deeded it to the Magnolia Cemetery Historical Group.  (That is Brother Martin)

Saturday was another special day.  We went up to Birmingham to the Mission Christmas Party.  Our mission is so large in numbers that they divide the mission into thirds and we each had a party.  I would guess there were more that 100 of us yesterday.  Wonderful food!!   A MIRACLE TO know that I went faithfully to Curves before I came out and had a lot of great friends there.  One of those friends moved to Alabama about a year and a half ago.  I admit that I had forgotten that she and her husband came here for his work.    So can you imagine my surprise when we walked into the cultural hall for the lunch and this woman came up to me with tears in her eyes...”.Sister Hepworth do you remember me? “ She was so familiar, but I couldn’t remember....then she said...”you know, from Curves?”  It all came rushing back and how wonderful for both of us to meet in this huge state of Alabama.  Sister Lemon is the Relief Society President of the Bessemer ward and she and her ward sisters had done two of these missionary lunches. She said she had just in the last couple of days received an email from Esther Brown (of Curves) telling her that we were in Alabama on a mission.  What are the chances that we would meet so quickly!!!  A blessing for us both.

Since about 2:00 am last night, it has been raining SO Hard.  Thunder and lightening like I have never seen before.  We even had a leak in the roof about 5:00.  Grandpa came back to bed, and felt water.  It had flooded all over our desk and all the papers.  We mopped up with towels, moved the desk, spread out all the papers to dry and went back to bed.  It is now 5:00 Sunday evening and it is still raining.  Grandpa just came and asked me if I had all the animals packed?  I looked at him strangely....he said...”you know...for the ARK!”  At church they told us this wasn’t much of a storm....wait until spring!  You get it frozen and we get it wet!


We miss each of you but at the same time we are very happy here in our Little home in Alabama.  Love

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Have a "Blessed Day"

Dear Family,

The weather here in Camden Alabama is so minute the sun is shining and the temperature is very mild and the next day it is grey and cold. The fact that there is so much humidity here, make the warm warmer and the cold colder.  AND we are older and the cold is harder to take.  On our PDay, we bought grandpa a warmer coat and I got a couple of sweaters.  We are saving them to “open” on Christmas.  It is hard to be away at Christmas. But it sure helps to have fond warm memoires of times together and that the family is keeping on with the traditions. 
We were invited out to dinner last night by one of the families here in our branch.  It is a very old home built in 1820, that the original owners daughter has turned into a restaurant.  It was decorated so beautifully last night.  Everything in in Red, White and green.  Old fashioned Christmas trees, garland, twinkling lights and antiques Christmas dishes, platters and bowls.  It was like walking back into the past.   The food was delicious.   A real Christmas Party!  For dessert we had BLACK BOTTOM PIE.  This restaurant’s pie is listed in the Book: 100 Best Places to Eat in Alabama.  It was so light and fluffy, its amazing it stayed on the plate. 
We had our District meeting in Selma on Friday.  We have such great young elders in our district.  It makes me think of Derek, Cody and Shayla.   They were well prepared with their seminary studies and the Mastery Scriptures.  Each meeting we play some come of game like scripture chase or something. This week our District Leader handed us a sheet with 10 partial scriptures and we were to find the exact scripture reference.  I did horrible on the day we did the scripture chase, but this time I did pretty good.  I got two and guess right on three others.  It is interesting that I know the scripture when he reads it or lists it, but I don’t know exactly where it is.  I try to study these during my study time, so that I will be better prepared. The work in our District is very slow. It is probably due to the Christmas Season, the amount of rain and the days being so short.  People are reluctant to have you in when it is dark.   We spent last week driving to each of the less active families homes, so that we know where they live and can find it when it is darker.  We found a couple of them home and were well received.  Another, we knew they were there, but they wouldn’t come to the door.  The two members of the Branch Presidency are that family’s home teachers, so they are going to invite us to go with them this week, so that at least we can meet them and ask if we can come back to visit and get better acquainted
  We have been attending the high school basket ball games.  We have one member on the Jr. Varsity team and three on the Varsity.  The Varsity team had a tournament this past week end.  They came in second which is really pretty good as they have the smallest of the schools that participated.  We have met several members of the community and now have friends when we walk into the gym.  The City Librarian has stopped to visit it with us twice and invited us to come down to the library.  I think she is interested in genealogy.   I wish we were better prepared on that topic, but will do the best we can.  

I didn’t know that missionary work was so difficult at times.  It has certainly changed my prayers for our missionaries and their service.  The Gospel gives us so much help in our daily lives and once you start living it on a regular basis it is very easy...almost like is so natural.  I wish each member could feel that guidance and that peace in their lives. . .
WE love you and pray for you in all of our prayers.  Our Mission President says we should “Pray Out”....meaning we can’t pray enough.   Have a “Blessed Day”.   (They say that a lot in the South, even as you leave the drive thru.) We love EACH of you, Grandpa and Grandma

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cotton Fields

December 12, 2013

Dear Family

We are adjusting more each week and finally feel like this is home.  We have been out trying to find the homes of the members and less active members.  We have the addresses and even some directions, but they mostly live out of our little town and winding little roads.  One day it seemed like we were just going into the woods, farther and farther and then all of a sudden there was a lovely home.  Of course no one was home, but we left an invitation to our Branch Christmas Gathering.  A couple of the families did come, so it was not a wasted effort and we saw some beautiful county.  Since we arrived in Birmingham on November 13, we have 1900 miles on our car.  On this little trip, we came across a field of cotton.  I got so excited.  We pulled over and I took a few pictures and even picked some cotton.  I’m sure the harvest season is well past as the stocks were dried and brown, but the cotton is soft and smooth.  I hope I am here to see the fields when they are white with the cotton blossoms.

On Thursday we went over to Montgomery AL to see an Inter-Faith Nativity Program. It is sponsored by several different faiths, but held in the LDS Stake Center.  There were more than 1,000 different nativities brought by members of our, members of other churches and many from the military personnel at a near by military base.  The military people brought nativities that they had collected during their different deployments.  I’ll try to send a couple of pictures.  There were some very tiny delicate ones, wood carved ones, very modern ones, and very antique ones, even one made of legos and two made of white chocolate. It was a wonderful experience.  Such a wonderful start to our Christmas Celebration.
Sunday we had our Branch Christmas Gathering.  The primary presented a darling little Christmas talent program, then we had a pot luck dinner.  Just like at home, we had way more food than people and it was all delicious food, including Fried Okra and Corn bread Pie.  Then we watched the First Presidencies Christmas Devotional.  Another wonderful evening.
Tuesday, we went up to the Temple in Birmingham.  It was the Temple Day for the Young Missionaries.  We picked up two of our young Elders in Selma and drove up. 
It was a grey morning, but we were all excited to meet everyone at the temple.
As you can see from our pictures that the sun came out and it was a beautiful day in Birmingham.  Much like the days in Oregon when it had been so grey and gloomy and then the sun came out and there wasn’t a more beautiful sky anywhere.
We thank you for your texts...emails...Facebook (we are trying)...letters and calls.It has really helped us a lot. 
We check the temperature for Centerville and for Portland every day as well as for our little Camden.  We are sorry you having such a cold spell.  Hope you can keep warm and watch out for each other.  We love each of you dearly.  Love Elder and Sister Hepworth, aka mom and dad, grandma and grandpa.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Teaching Lessons

We are trying to get our Technology Act together.  I have sent some Tests to the has sent some...and now I am not sure what we’ve sent and more importantly who has gotten it.  SOOOO.....I am sending this email on our P-Day. 
If I duplicate stuff I have already said....just enjoy it again.  I promise to do better from now on.  We have had a most wonderful two weeks.  We are teaching Scot and Theresa Runnels the lessons for new converts after baptism.  They were baptized in October.  We have met with them several times: taught one lesson and have had more social visits.  He is attending Truck Driver Training, so he has been gone much of the time since we got here.  He has also had a bout with strep throat, so Dad was able to give him a Priesthood Blessing.  The other family we are working with are Roy and Betty Westry.  They have a 13 daughter Ro’Shaira.  All three of them were baptized about 3 years ago.  Roy’s conversion is very interesting.  He and his wife had been baptized into another church along time ago.  He said it was a “sprinkle “ on the forehead.  It has bothered him cause he knew that Jesus came straightway out of the water and that didn’t mean a sprinkling.  When he asked about it, they told him that they do it that way cause it is easier for “older” people.  But he said....I am not older.  It had continued to bother him for many day he had a house full of people at his home, two young missionaries came to the door.  He told them he could visit with them right then, but could they come back.  He said they almost did flips.  They came back two days later and when he asked about baptism and they said it was by immersion, he almost set his baptismal date at that moment.  They want to go to them temple.  Betty has had a hard time with titing, but is now paying a full tithe.  We are starting the Temple Preparation class next week. 
We went to visit Edward Smith.  His wife died in October and we thought he would appreciate some company.  What a visit!  We talked about his wife’s short illness and her valiant fight with Cancer.  It was a second marriage for them and they had been married in the Temple 6 years ago.  What a blessing that has been to him.  He is the trapper.  (We will see that the pictures we took with him get to Michelle.  She is going to set up a BLOG.)   The day we were there, he had trapped a Grey Fox, a Bob Cat and two possums.  He said he will send the furs of the fox and the cat to Canada.  He will make about $100.00 for the Cat and $50.00 for the fox.  The belly of the fox is spotted like a leopard....very beautiful.  
We went up to the Birmingham Temple on the Saturday before Christmas.  It is 2 1/2 hours up to Birmingham.  We did the 1:00 session and then our Branch had a cleaning assignment.  We left at 10:00 and got home about 7:30.  it was a long day, but it felt so good to be in the Temple again.  It is a small temple, but just as beautiful as all the other Temples.
We had our District Meeting Friday.  Dad and I and our 6 young Elders.  Our District Leader Elder Bearnson is from Cedar City.  He is a terrific teacher and leader.  We had transfers the day before Thanksgiving, so we lost 3 elders and got 3 new ones.  Two sets serve in Selma and the other set serve in Magnolia.  Magnolia is a very small branch like us. 
Today we had our Senior Missionary Christmas Lunch at the Mission Home in Birmingham.  President and Sister Hanks are wonderful.  He is such a spiritual giant...and also loves to have some fun.  A wonderful day.  Again, we were gone all day.  A busy week ahead of us.  That is very good.  We love to hear from you, the letters, the emails, the texts, the calls.  We are getting more adjusted every day.  It is time for bed, so I will close.  WE love each of you and so glad we have so many memories and PICTURES>  I spent last evening going through the pictures on my camera and on my phone.  Almost a year’s worth.  What fun we have had.  You are in our prayers....several times each day.  Love you....Elder and Sister....Mom and Dad.....Grandma and Grandpa