Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Alabama

It was so great to skype with some of you on Christmas and to talk on the phone and to received so many beautiful Christmas cards and notes. We had a wonderful Christmas even though we missed you terribly. As you know, the Sisters had a “sleep over” Christmas Eve. They planned our evening from having Chicken Noodle Soup in Bread bowls, to Christmas Caroling and delivering a few gifts. I had not made bread bowls before and since I could not find any at the store, miraculously our Wal-Mart had some Rhodes frozen bread dough. Even more amazing it has the directions for bread bowls on the package. They looked great and it was fun to have our soup that way. Dinner was at 5:00. Christmas Caroling was from 6:00 to 8:00. It started out shaky as the first home on the list, no one was home, but the second house and every house thereafter was so thrilled to have the four of us on their porch singing Christmas Carols. The Sisters have lovely voices, so our little choir sounded very “heavenly”. Our last house was Betty and Roy. Roy was almost speech-less. He said he had never had someone come and sing to him on Christmas. Roy and Betty are a black couple who joined the church about 5 years ago. They are the sweetest most humble people. His conversion (in short) was do to his reading of the scriptures and knowing that “Jesus came straight way out of the water” He had joined several churches and when it came to baptism, they said, yes they knew it should be by immersion, but with children and old people, it was just easier to “sprinkle” When the missionaries came by his home, he had a lot of company and asked if they would come some other time. As they left, he said, “How do you baptize?” They said “By immersion”. He said, “Come back tomorrow.”

 At 8:00 we started our Christmas Eve Program. First we read the Christmas Story from Luke. Sister Olson had selected songs for us to sing interspersed in the reading. Then Sister Williams read a wonderful Christmas Story by Elder Anderson. A family in the Branch had been doing the 12 days of Christmas, so they brought the final night to our house, so we had that little excitement too. Several of the Branch members brought us gifts and treats during the evening, so we felt very loved. We want to thank each of you for your love and support as we have served here in Camden. We know that you have missed doing some of our traditions and our get-togethers and that you look forward to our return. Our Branch members also thank you for your support in our being here. Senior Couples do help out in these little branches and give them strength and encouragement. I think about our ward at home and although they too are looking forward to our return....we are NOT NEEDED there. Senior Missionaries couples are NEEDED in the Mission Field. We so are blessed that we took the opportunity to Serve the Lord and some of His children for this time. Love to each of you. Hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration.
 Love you so very much. Grandma and Grandpa

 To our Children and Grandchildren: We wish you could have been with us when we delivered the pictures that you put together on Thanksgiving. We delivered them to twelve homes and the joy and the tears and the appreciation they had, to finally have a beautifully framed Temple, Proclamation or Living Christ and to know that it came from you with your love. (Y’all) We are sure that they will be a treasured gift and testimony in their homes. .

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Party

We just know that you had a wonderful CHRISTMAS PARTY last night! We thought about you as we had our Branch Party at the same time. Our Primary did a wonderful little Christmas Play about a class room learning about Christmas and Samuel the Lamanite. It was complete with a class room, 3 young boy students, a teacher and a principal and on the other side of the stage, we had Zoie and Josie, two young Lamanite girls and Samuel on the Wall. They did such a good job. We then had a wonderful Pot Luck Dinner. As usual we had about 50 in attendance and food enough for 100. Out here they just ask that each family bring two covered dishes ( with food in them) They all are excellent cooks. One of the main dishes in the South is Macaroni and Cheese. (NOT OUT OF A BOX) Delicious Mac and Cheese like Grandma Murri always made. And a super desert table. Then back to the chapel/multi purpose room for games. We played the Pass Right- Pass Left game with the money in each envelope. They had not heard of that before and it was a BIG hit. Then we did the White Elephant Gift Exchange. ( Out here they call this Dirty Santa) Again, they had such a wonderful time. There were about FIVE favorite gifts that got the full 3 trades before they became the property of the 3rd owner: the children’s toys and the big can of popcorn were the favorites. The finale was the PINATA! Ours was a small dinosaur which made it through ALL the hits from the children. Stone, our 14 year old, broke in each of his three hits, with the last one popping it open. It was the first real Christmas Party they have had and I am sure that it will not be the last. I think all totaled we had over 50 people in attendance. Some non members only came for the program, but the whole evening was just so special. Thanks to our family....back to Aunt Bebe and Uncle Carl for the first Christmas Parties with clam chip dip and a piƱata and probably a few other “traditions”. WE have been truly blessed by our heritage! Earlier in the day, we (dad and I and the Sister Missionaries) had traveled to Birmingham for the South half of the Alabama Mission Party. You who have been fortunate to go on a mission know the wonderful spirit that a roomful of missionaries can bring. These young Elders and Sisters are so so so great! I just want to share with you, part of the Christmas Devotional that our Mission President, Elder Richard Hanks and his wife gave. It is a message for every Christian in the world, but especially for those of us who have been taught the Gospel and know the importance of the Birth, Life, Example, Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Savior. QUESTION: HOW CAN WE HONOR THE SAVIOR? 1. Like His Mother, we can honor Jesus by Loving Him. John 7:14 and Luke 2:12 2. Like the Angel’s. we can honor His Divine Gift by Serving Him. Luke 2: 13-14 Matt 2:10 3. Like those who seek Him, we can honor His Power to Heal the World. Isaiah 25:8-9 Matt 1:21 4. Like those who adore him, we can honor Him by Giving Him all that we Have. Mark 8:34 2 Nephi 31:20 Matt 25:40 We hope you have a most wonderful Christmas! Ours will be another interesting one. The Sister Missionaries had the great idea to have a “sleep over” here with us, so that they can have Christmas Morning with us. We are all very excited! They each have ytheir own family traditions, so we are going to try to do all of them. The are making the “list” so that we do it all. They will be skyping their families and we will skype ours, so it will be a fun filled day. We Love Each of You and wish you a very Merry Christmas! Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, December 15, 2014


December 14, 2014
We have had a wonderful has been SUPER busy.  We have been to Montgomery and to Birmingham twice: Transfers and the Senior Christmas Party.  Transfer meetings take place every six week and they are the most wonderful spiritual experiences.  We have the Best Mission President and his wife!
A great start to our Celebration of Christ’s Birth.
Saturday, we had a Baptism!  Yes, you read right, the Camden
Branch had a baptism.  It was a real story of how it takes several people to find those that God has prepared. Two of our Sisters tracted this neighborhood several months ago, the husband answered the door and said they were not interested in hearing any thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Six weeks ago, our current sisters tracted that area again.  Sarah, the wife, was out in the yard.  That in itself is a miracle as she works at the work release detention center 4 am until noon.  Then she sleeps most of the day, but this day she was out side and was interested in talking with the sisters.  She invited them in and they taught her the Restoration Lesson. She felt something and set up a second lesson. One day the sisters took on a tour of the church and that day the primary was there practicing for the Sacrament Meeting Program.  She loved the children.  In short, Sarah is a wonderful woman, with great faith in our Lard and Savior, Jesus Christ.  She had had all the lessons and was baptized Saturday evening. 
Her husband one of her daughters and her best friend all attended.  There was such a wonderful feeling.  
We have completed teaching Theresa the Temple Preparation classes and she is planning to go to the temple in January.  We have had some wonderful successes and still have a few other goals that we hope to complete before our mission comes to an end. 
We are so excited to take out the “gifts” that you all sent.  We will start the delivery this week.  We will take a few pictures if we can so you can see the members expressions.   Dad’s expression will be the best.  He tears up when ever we talk about it. 
Hope your Christmas preparations are going well and that you have the true spirit of Christmas in your heart. We love you so very much.  Be thinking about when we can skype with you on Christmas.  We will also have the Sisters here skyping with their families.    Turn on your Christmas lights, turn up the Christmas music and ENJOY .  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting the Christmas Spirit

We just got home from watching the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional.  It was beautiful and we could almost feel ourselves in that beautiful setting.  NEXT YEAR

This week when the Sister Missionaries were teaching a less-active family, the term “GRACE” came up several times.  This family became less active several years ago and now they are active in the BIG Baptist Church.  It is the largest church and congregation in Camden.  It “Is the place to be” socially.  As they visited, the young daughter asked what does “grace” mean?  This term is used a lot here in the South.  The Sisters quickly looked us grace in the Bible Dictionary to answer her question.  It got me thinking, so I to looked up the word “grace”.   Sometime this week, try looking it up yourself...I thought it was a most wonderful and encouraging definition.   The Grace of God.

Wednesday and Thursday we were with the Elders and Sisters at the Birmingham Temple.  It was another GREAT blessing in our lives to be there with them.  18, 19, and 20 year old young people, so clean, so obedient, so faithful and so supported of each other. Now that we have been here a year, we knew quite a few of them and we were so excited to see each other and hear how their new areas are going. 

Friday we went over to Montgomery to an Interfaith Nativity Exhibit at our Stake House.  There were over 350 Nativities from all over the world.  The kids will be glad to know that there were two nativities made from Lego’s.   A sister had made a wall covering quilt that was absolutely gorgeous.  Each Nativity was labeled with the owner’s name, the country of the nativity and the church they represented.   A few of them even had how old they were and there some very old ones.  I don’t know how many years this has been going on, but each year it gets bigger and the TV stations sent out crews to video a segment for their morning shows.  In the evenings, they have different choirs from around the city perform.  Since we are so far away, we went over in the day and did not get to see any performances.  We took the Sister Missionaries, Theresa who joined the church a year ago and our new investigator Sarah.   We had a wonderful time, touring the exhibit, then lunch and a little shopping at the Dollar Tree.  Theresa and Sarah had the best time.  Sarah’s baptism is scheduled for December 13, 2014.

Thursday when we got home from our two days at the temple, there were two very large boxes on our porch.  Dad thought, who would send us such big packages so that we would have to bring them home when we come.  Once we opened the boxes.....he was in tears......He (and I) was so touched by the gifts you all sent: The Family Proclamation, the Living Christ and the Temple Pictures.  It will mean so much to our Branch Families.  There is no Deseret Book, or Seagull Book or even a Christian Book store here in Camden, or Selma.  They don’t have these hanging in their homes to give strength to them and their families.  We were so touched that you thought of it and then did it. 
We will give you the reactions as we deliver them to each one.  We ourselves could not have received a greater gift than the love you all sent in those boxes.  We love each of you and are so thankful for you.   Enjoy this week as you prepare for Christmas...Remember it is all about LOVE!  With much love, grandma and grandpa

Thursday, December 4, 2014

That Perhaps We might be the Means

Hope each of you had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.  We surly did.  New friends with food traditions.  We had ham and turkey, dressing. mashed potatoes and gravy but THEN  potatoes salad, chicken casserole and bean casserole with Mississippi Mud Pie, Sweet Potato Pie and Theresa‘s Cheese Cake.  And I made Rolls.  We were all stuffed to the brim.  And the time spent with this family was very very special.  We have been truly blessed!
On Monday, we had a two zone “Fun Day”. There were about 50 Missionaries and two Senior Couples at a local bowling alley in Montgomery.  What a blast!  It was the first time we had seen all the missionaries in casual clothes: us included.   For $7.00 we got shoes, bowl three games and have a hamburger, fries and a drink. What a bargain.  We started at 11:00 and finished up about 3:00.  It was truly inspiring to see so many young people, happy, friendly, laughing and supporting each other.  Not a single hard word.  Some were very good at the game and others just rolled the ball and had a great time.  Dad and I had not bowled since we all bowled that one year for Christmas.  Needless to say, we were not very good.  Dad barely broke 100 and I just made sixty for our “high” games.  It was one of the Sister Senior Training Leaders Birthday and someone brought two cakes, so we all sang “Happy Birthday and had Cake.  The Mission has set some very desirable goals and they have all been working so hard, it was great to see them relax for a short time. 
Today, we had a baptism in Magnolia.  Bobby is 17 years old and has been living with an LDS family.  I don’t know all of his story, but it has not been the easiest life.  While they were changing into dry clothes, we each wrote him a letter telling him how much our baptism meant to us and what it could mean for him.  Magnolia is a branch similar to ours, but the town is much smaller.  (This is where the 100 year old chapel stands)  We took our Sister Missionaries and their investigator over to the baptism.  Our investigator is Sarah and she is in her late 40’s.  She is one of those “elect” that we hear so much about.  Her baptism is scheduled for Dec. 13th.  
We continue to visit with the Less Actives and we love them dearly and I think they love us too, but so far it hasn’t carried over into church attendance.  We have set some new plans for the Christmas Season and hope that they might have a “change of heart”.  Shayla wrote a letter once where she quoted the scripture, “That perhaps we might be the means...”  Alma 26: 26, 30.
This week the mission goes to the temple.  We will have 8 special sessions so that all the missionaries will be able to participate.  Dad and I will help at four of the sessions: Wednesday and Thursday at the 9:00 and 1:00 sessions.  Since we are 2 ½ hours from the temple, we will go up Tuesday night and stay overnight for two nights.  It is a most humbling experience to be with all of these young people. 
We missed you all on Thanksgiving and we will miss of the Christmas fun, but we have wonderful memories of the times we have been together and that brings us a lot of joy.  Keep us in your prayers.  Thank you for all the little texts, pictures and letters.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

As the Holidays approach, we are thinking more about each of you and the fond memories we have made over the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday.  Last year we were so new to this mission life that we were sort of like “deer in the headlights”.  We were alone on Thanksgiving and had the littlest turkey you ever saw.  This year we have had several invitations to dinner and wish we could accept all three.  The Sisters are excited to come over to help with cheese cake and chip dip and anything else they can do.  It seems that folks are so busy with their holiday preparations and family gatherings, that they don’t open their doors to the missionaries.  I have to admit that when I was home, I was the same way.  I hope I will be changed when I get home.
It was my “opportunity” to speak in Sacrament Meeting today and of course I chose to talk on Gratitude.  I used the family farm story from President Monson’s talk in November 2010 and the May 14, 2014 talk of President Uchtdorf “Grateful in Any Circumstance”   The farm story is about a family who on each Thanksgiving, the father took them on a tour of their farm, the barn, the cellar and all the animals and listed all that they had worked so hard to grow and save for use during the winter.  Then they would give gratitude in the prayer before the Thanksgiving feast.  The most memorable thanksgiving, was the one where they did not have a successful fact all they had for the feast was a bunch of turnips and a rabbit their dad had shot that morning.  In that year, electricity had come to their town and with great sacrifice, they had electric lights and an electric washing machine.  But the turnips and rabbit left the family with little to be thankful for.  The father went up to the attic and brought down one of the oil burning lamps that they had used before the electricity.  He lit the lamp and then asked one of the children to turn off all the electric lights.  Wow, they couldn’t believe that they had lived all their lives with such a little bit of light.  The turnips and the rabbit did not look so bad now and they were grateful in their circumstance.  President Uchtdorf suggest that instead of being thankful FOR  things, that we focus on being thankful IN  our circumstance, what ever
They may be.  Prs. Uchtdorf also shares a cute story about a man in a restaurant that complains about only getting two slices of bread with his meal.  Get out the Ensigns and read these two talks.  They will help you improve your “Attitude of Gratitude”

We are thankful for  all our blessings and thankful IN  our circumstances.
We wish each of you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day where ever you are and will express your gratitude to those you love so dearly.  We do appreciate each of you and your support of us on this mission.  It really has made the difference.  We LOVE you!!  Grandma and Grandpa

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Birthday

So Sorry this letter is late.  But I had such a great Birthday, that I just didn’t get it done. 
On my birthday morning, the Sister Missionaries came over and fixed breakfast for me.  Delicious Chocolate chip Pancakes....Sister Olson’s family recipe.  Followed by lots of phone calls and people stopping by.  We were supposed to have a Branch Party...A SOUPer Supper....but it was cancelled due to the very very cold temperatures on Friday night.  One couple was so disappointed that they planned a Weenie Roast.  Saturday night was not as cold and Scot built a beautiful fire.  It was treated wood, so he didn’t let us roast on the fire, but we ate our stove cooked hot dogs sitting out by the fire.  We even had s’mores with marshmallows cooked over the electric burner on the stove.  We even tried to sing a few camp songs.  It was a fun time.
Sunday, we had the primary program.  I had practiced every day for two weeks to play the songs.  (Primary songs are hard...the notes jump around so much)  The program went so well.  Their favorite song was a new one called “A Never Ending Chain”.   Margaret, the Primary President, teacher and chorister asked me to come to the primary room about 11:15 for the treats she had brought to celebrate the completion of the program.  I went in and before I knew what was happening, the whole Branch came in the other door and yelled SURPRISE! It was a surprise party for me.  The kids were so excited, they had each made me a card and they gave me a jewel piece that hangs on a chain or bracelet and it has a BLUE jewel....Blue for Wilcox Academy where they all go to school.  Of course there was the song and a birthday cake. 

We had a guest over for dinner, Brenda Martin from Magnolia.  She is Second Counselor in the Stake Relief Society Presidency and is a good friend.  The day we moved into our little house here, the Elders from Magnolia came to help us move in.  The Elders brought with them some homemade rolls that she had made for us.  They are the Best Rolls.  I sent her a thank you and asked for the recipe and we have been good friends ever since. Magnolia is about 35 miles away from here, so when I knew she was coming to visit our Branch on Sunday I invited her for dinner.  She stayed and visited for awhile.  When you live in these small towns and Branches, it is so good to just sit and have someone new to talk with.  That night, our dear friends, Margaret and Jarrett invited the four of us for dinner.  (4= Senior and Sister Missionaries).   It was a most memorable Birthday.
Thank you to each of your for your calls, your texts, your face book messages and the wonderful cards.  I am so blessed to have each of you wonderful people in my life.  We love you!  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, November 10, 2014

Man Hunt

We were able to go the Birmingham Temple yesterday with our dear friend Kay for her First Temple Blessings. It was beautiful day weather wise and a beautiful day spiritually.  This has been her goal and our goal almost since we arrived and it was a great blessing for her and for us.  Those special feelings just can’t be expressed in words, just know that it was one of the greatest blessing of our mission. 

I said in a previous letter, that the leaves were not as colorful as at home, well, I have to take that back.  In the past few days, we have seen greater color in reds, yellows and oranges amidst the shades of green.  It is a very Beautiful and Colorful Fall here in Alabama.

On Monday, we were making our usual preparation day trip to Thomasville to the cleaners and Wal Mart on Highway 10, when we were stopped on the road by a line of several cars. There was no accident, nor was there a flagger stopping us,; nothing that seemed to cause the stopping.   We were stopped about 20 minutes, when we saw a little flicker of flashing blue lights, then just more waiting.  About 5 minutes later, we saw two men dressed in khaki brown running down the middle of the street.  Then we noticed they were chasing some little critters.  As they got closer, we could see that they were little dogs they were chasing.  As they got closer, we rolled down our windows and could hear the dogs yapping and sniffing.  We wondered what they could be chasing, drug dealers or something.  The Sister missionaries were with us and told us that one of their investigators works at the Work Release Facility and had told them that a prisoner had escaped Saturday night.  Could this be what the dogs were after?  We could now see that the dogs were Beagles and they had little antennas’ attached to their heads. One of the men in brown, picked up one of the dogs and took him to the back of a pick-up, picked up something from the bed and let the dog smell it.  The three dogs sniffed all along the side of the road.  At the first car, the dogs sniffed; then they were waved on.  They sniffed at the second car and it was waved on.  As they got to our car, all three of them were barking and sniffing, when the lead dog made an excited bark and all three took off....they had the scent.  We were waved on.  Would we ever know the rest of the story???
Tuesday, the Sisters visited with their investigator again.  She told them they did catch the prisoner about 11:30 on Monday Morning in Possum Bend.   That is exactly where we had been stopped.  We were witnesses to a “MAN HUNT”. 
It was just like on TV. 

We think this is a pretty small quiet little community and then once in a while, something pretty exciting happens. 

We thank you all for your texts, photos, calls and notes.  (And Colored Pictures!).  We are blessed to feel your love and your support.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Where are the missionaries?

November 2, 2014 and daylight savings time has ended and boy is it dark early here in Alabama.  I never really noticed too much the difference it makes, but as a missionary, it is tough.  Most everyone is home and snuggled in when it gets dark and are not too excited to have the missionaries stop by.  It is especially difficult for our Young Sisters.  Camden, is not a metropolis...there are not hundreds of street lights and business lights to brighten the dark.  When the sun goes down, it is dark.
We are working on ideas that will help the Sisters be obedient and successful after 6 or 7:00.  If you have any ideas....send them to us.
It seems that all of the country is experiencing an early cold snap and Alabama is no different.  The high yesterday was only 46 and the low was in the low 30’s.  In away that doesn’t seem that cold, but the big change in temperature has been hard to take.  On the bright is sunny and the leaves are starting to change and it is beautiful.  We don’t have many red or orange leaves, but the yellow and so many softening shades of green tell us that fall is here.
At Testimony Meeting today, our dear friend Jimmie said he doesn’t think we know the impact we are having on this community outside the members of the church.  We were not able to go to the Wilcox Football Game on Friday night and he said everyone was asking “Where are the Missionaries?  We so love to have them with us”. It really helped us to know that even our little efforts are noticed and loved.  We went to the School Carnival yesterday and were surprised at how many of the teachers came up and talked to us since they met us on our “Show and Tell” experience.   
The best news is that our Dear Friend, Kay Dunnam is going to the Temple on Saturday for her Endowments. She joined the church in 1988 but then became inactive about 5 years later.  During those years of inactivity, she was captivated by Family History work.  She has 3 very large binders, with names, pictures, and histories of her family.  4,000 names.  She has had some of the most wonderful experiences in finding these family members and learning of her heritage. 
We are so blessed that so many of our relatives have done so much work in finding names and stories.  There is always more to be done.  We need to find Pictures and family stories.  My sisters and I have a huge project when we get home; the closet in the playroom is full of boxes of pictures and “stuff” that we need to share. You grandchildren, ask your grandparents about when they were growing up....what they did for fun...for  For example, did you know that your Great Grandmother...Alice  Johnson Hepworth played softball in high school.....”in a dress”?   
For Family Home Evening, make sure that your family has all 4 generations on the Family History Site.    Well, you can see that we are teaching Family History and I wish I were better prepared.  We love each of you and are so very blessed that we know about the Plan of Salvation and that we can live together as a family forever. Love Grandma and Grandpa Hepworth  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall in Alabama

Dear Family,

Fall has come to Camden.  (Well, all of Alabama)  The days are warm and sunny, not too much humidity and the nights are very cool.  The humidity at night makes a huge difference.  The temperature does read so cold, but skin and bones really feel it.
We heard an interesting fact about our County....Wilcox County.  The whole county has 5 stop lights and Camden has 4 of them.  2 of them are on our 4 block main street (its called Broad Street) Bet there’s not many counties in Utah that can “brag” on that fact.  Grandpa and I joke that if you have 4 cars lined up at a stop light or stop sign, we have a traffic jam.  Most of the time there are only a few cars on even the main roads. Most of the people work at the paper mill, so they work a variety of shifts, so its not like everyone is going to work at 6 or 7. 
I mentioned a short time ago that Edward brought us a couple of bags of peanuts....harvested right from his garden.  So I looked on the internet as to what to do with them and decided to try boiling them in very salty water and then baking them for 1 hour and then just letting them “dry out”.  Well first of all it was a big job just getting them washed, then I did the boiling and the baking and then they have been drying.  I know that walnuts and pecans have to dry out before they are tasty to us.  Otherwise they are soft and chewy.  Ours have finally reached a point where they taste like peanuts you buy at the store.  I told dad I would not complain about paying $1.99 per pound at the store again.  It was a lot of work for 2 big bowls of peanuts.  But another memorable experience here in the South.  I keep asking people for their recipes for dishes that we have really liked and almost always there is an ingredient that I will never find at home.  Today’s new item:  Shoe Peg Corn. Debbie Tait made a dish called “Redneck Caviar”  She said it is a real popular item for tailgate parties.  After church today, we had a “Going Home” party for Sister Ray as she completes her mission on Wednesday.  It was suppose to be just a “snack”, but it filled two tables with 3 delicious dips, chips, 4 different kinds of sandwiches, veggies and desserts.  The children have really loved having the Young Sisters and it is hard for them to say good-bye.  Sister Ray is from Sierra Vista, Arizona.  (Janet and Wayne were stationed there for awhile). 
Saturday we went to our first Black Funeral.  Our dear friends and members of our branch, Roy and Betty Westry, it was his sister who passed away.  We weren’t sure what it would be like and it turned out to be pretty much what we expected.  They are VERY VOCAL from the start to the finish and it gets louder and louder as the service progresses.  The Minister really keep them stirred up and involved.  Roy had said to us right after her passing that he was so glad to have the gospel as he knows where she is and what needs to be done for her. It brought him such comfort to know the Plan of Salvation.   I guess you have all seen our Face book picture of our being “Show and Tell” for the Pre-K class with our dear little friend Miley Vick.  When she introduced us she said, “These are the Hepworths”,  They are Missionaries for my church”, They have come to tell people about Jesus”.  The teachers and the children were so excited to hear all about us, our family and how we came to be in Alabama.  They loved the story about Joseph, the little boy living in our home with “The Green Alligator”.  Alligator’s are big in Alabama. 
This turned out to be a long letter, when I thought I didn’t have much to say.   WE love each of you and are so thankful for the little texts, notes, letters and pictures.  Thank you for just being YOU!  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meet the Mormons

Have you been to see the movie, “Meet The Mormons”?  WE got to see it Friday at our Mission Interviews. Wow, what a great movie.  It was more than I expected it to be.  We had been told in our Zone Meetings last month, that no missionaries were to attend.  The Church did not want this to be a” proselytizing” movie or a “finding” movie.  They did not want Missionary Badges showing up with investigators or with member families, and the press than saying it was a proselyting tool.  The five families that were selected to represent our membership were great choices.  They have had many of the same life experiences and challenges that all of the world experiences.  The film is not showing anywhere near us, but our Mission President wanted us to have a chance to see it, so we got to watch it.  We even had popcorn, candy and carrots( for Healthy eaters).  Be sure to see it.
We had Stake Conference this weekend.  It was sooooo fantastic.
I wish there was a way to tell you about each of the speakers, but that always looses something in the telling. Our Area 70 is Elder Meredith is from Nashville Tennessee.  He is an absolutely fantastic speaker.  I am sure we will see and hear from him a lot in the future.   Think about 1974, this area was part of the Southern States Mission.  Guess what Temple District they were in???? Mesa, Arizona, Provo Utah or the Salt Lake Temple District.  Then in 1974, they announced a Temple almost in their backyards.....the Washington D.C. Temple.   There were two people in the congregation that had received their endowments at the Mesa Temple and they lived in Montgomery Alabama.  They have the same problem here that we experienced in Oregon. They were so thrilled to have the Washington DC Temple and then they got the Atlanta Temple and now they have the Birmingham Temple and it is harder than ever to get to the temple.  We hope you will each increase your attendance at the temple....even you who do baptisms.   He wants to give you more of His blessings. 
WE are trying to get our youth to the temple this Saturday, we only have three and one of them now has the ACT tests.  I hope the other two will stay committed to attend.  We have asked the adults to give us some family names and we do have a few, so we hope we can get their work done.  Keep the Missionaries in your prayers. (including us)  We love you so much and are so glad we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ to give us direction and peace.
  Love you!!! Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rattlesnake Scare

On Wednesday night, we had an indexing class for the Young Men/Young Women.  As I knew they would, they loved it and took right to it.  Our branch goal for the youth was 150 and the three of them have already surpassed that goal.  Then we got home about 9:00, we had a voice message from our neighbor, Miss Ruby.  She said “ I don’t mean to scare you, but a man came to my front door about 7:30 and said...tell the people next door they had a very large rattle snake crawling up their front porch.  I know you don’t have a gun, so PLEASE be careful.  Drive over here and get a shovel so you can kill it if you see it!”   Well she didn’t mean to scare us, but it sure scared me.  Three times before I went to bed, I turned on the porch light to be sure it wasn’t on the porch. 
As we talked with people the next morning, we learned that rattle snakes often have a “path” that they follow. Then Nancy, a neighbor two houses up the street said, “ I killed a rattle snake in front of your drive way this summer.  I backed over it several times with my car.”  The neighbor across the street said “she thought she could smell a snake”    I didn’t know they had a smell, but folks here say “Oh, yes they have a smell!”    Miss Ruby said they don’t like moth balls, so I went to Fred’s to get some.  The Black man who helped me said with big eyes, “Put them everywhere, even some in your house in case they get inside.”  Needless to say that I have been very very careful where I walk and when; and I keep my eyes looking out about 3 feet in front of me, searching, searching. 
Another first in my our life.  We were over at Edward Smith’s, our trapper, gardener friend,  he had “pulled up some green plants and to my surprise, there were peanuts growing among the roots.  Lots of peanuts on each root.  I picked off a few, cracked them open and ate one.  They taste sort of like a peanut, but the nuts are soft and chewy.  Edward brought us over a big sack of peanuts he had taken off the roots.  First I filled the sink with water and rinsed them off good.  Lots of muddy sand in the sink.  Then I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so checked Google and then called Theresa Runnels, a member and close friend.  She said to put them in the crock pot, cover them with water and cook them over night.  It was morning, so I cooked them all day. Since I like Salted peanuts I put salt in the water.   Then I took them out of the water and “roasted” them in the oven.   They taste pretty good, but still need to “dry” more.  It is a lot of work.  I will never look at a bag of peanuts in the store again, without thinking of my experience with peanuts.   You may get a little sample in your Christmas box...if they turn out. 
Wasn’t our General Conference wonderful?  So much good that can help us in our day to day lives.  WE love y’all and are so grateful for your loving support.  Keep the pictures and texts coming.  Love, Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Roll Tide

Boy, it has been a very busy week.  Of course, Monday is our P-Day.  We start by going to exercise at the local exercise place.  We have met several people there who have become very good friends, they are not interested in our gospel message, but they enjoy our friendship and they missed us when we came home for the wedding. We then pick up the Sister Missionaries and go to Hardee’s for a drive though breakfast on our way to Thomasville for Dry Cleaners, WalMart and Doughnuts.  We get home about 1:30 and the Sisters spend the afternoon doing their computer work...letter to the President, Family and whatever they do.  We just let them use our computer and Dad’s Laptop.  That is the Day Grandpa does his service here at our place.  He mows the grass on the 6 or 7 acres of our Land-Lady’s property.  He has the use of a John Deere and a zero-turn mower.  I wish you could see him.  You know grandpa, he does everything pretty meticulous, so the lines are straight and the property looks great.  He calls it his “plantation”.  Ms. Ruby is our Landlady and she is such a wonderful friend.  Her husband passed away 14 years ago and she recently started having extreme back pain. Looks like she is gong to have to have surgery and Grandpa taking care of the property is a huge help to her.     
Wednesday we had our Branch Council.  It was the best one we have had since we got here.  We heard reports from some of the Council on things they have heard from the Less Actives.  Phrases like, “We need to come back to Church.”,, “The Missionaries are helping us so much”. Yes, I know about Time out For Women and I am so glad you got to go”  So we are encouraged to keep going.
Thursday we had our Zone Training.  WOW...these young Elders and Sister are fantastic.  The meeting was so powerful and so motivating.  Makes me wonder what I was doing when I was their age.  They truly are a chosen generation.
Friday, we started with our Branch hosting the breakfast for the Wilcox Academy football team and cheerleaders.  Evidently all the other churches host one of these breakfasts.  This is the first time that the Mormon Church as been invited to host.  It was a great opportunity to have 42 young people come into our building, see our pictures a d Jesus Christ, have one of the members give the devotional message and another sister member give the blessing on the food.  There was a great spirit in the building and so many of our members were there to set up, prepare and serve the breakfast.   Then we dashed to Tuscaloosa about 2 hours away to tour the Football Stadium of University of Alabama.  WOW.  The stadium seats 101,000, BYU doesn’t seat nearly that many.  They have a section where the seats are $600.00 per game.  Then we went to DREAMLAND for lunch.  Tony Hanks told us about DREAMLAND and that it was a MUST in Alabama.  It was oh so good!  Its just sort of a hole in the wall place, where they give you a white paper plate and a black plastic fork.  Then they bring Barbeque Ribs and Sausage, baked beans, cole slaw and potato salad.  A real Southern feast!!! Tony had on a Dreamland Apron and he held a bottle of their famous sauce.  He orders a case every year.  Now we now why.  We will definitely be going back their.  Then we went to a State Park named Moundsville.  It is an ancient Indian Camp where the Indians built mounds about 20 – 30 feet high, all built by bringing buckets of dirt and dumping them.  You can’t imagine how long it took to build these mounds, basket by basket. The tribal leaders lived on these mounds and their special tribal sacred places were also on these mounds.  It is estimated that at one time there were 10,000 Indians living in this area.  This outing was for the Senior Couple and we sure enjoyed being with the six other couples.
Then to top off a busy week, we were blessed to have two days of General Conference.  How very blessed we are to have the Gospel in our lives and so many wonderful leaders to give us council and direction especially at this troubled time in the world.   Tonight we are very tired, but truly blessed especially for our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We hope you are feeling that way too.  We love you all and are grateful to have each of you in our lives.  Be Strong, Be Faithful and Stay Close to each other.   Love, Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Git'r done

We had such a wonderful weekend with y’all.  It was fast I know and we hope we got to spend enough time with each of you.  We DO love our family and extended family too.   The best part was being at the Temple with you.  It is a parents dream to have all of their children, their spouses and our three grandchildren there  in the Temple.  That is what this life is all about and we thank you for the lives you are living and the choices you are making. 
The evening with the Andrew’s family was very special.  They are a wonderful family and shared with us the things they enjoy.  The pork was delicious!!  I have to admit I was a little taken back by the WHOLE pig thing, but it is Brother Snarr’s favorite thing to cook and it was delicious.  So was the corn.  Andrew and Shayla were so gracious at the Temple and at their reception.  They were so happy to meet all their guests and it was a wonderfully warm atmosphere.  Sue and Cal hosted a wonderful evening including their the old Star Palace days when they were dating. It was a special blessing to have Aunt Ann, Aunt Joan and Uncle Frank come down. It is truly a blessing how well Ann is doing after her serious fall We did miss having Caitlin with us, but we understand her commitment to school and her team.  GO EAGLES!  We will see you in the spring.  On Saturday, I  enjoyed the drive up to Bridal Veil Falls.   I haven’t been up there since I went with my parents. The whole weekend was just wonderful!!! 
We got home Monday about 3:00 and jumped right back into things.  The termites, the Pee Wees and the J.V. teams  had games starting at 5:00; so of course we went to give them and their families our support.  We were sorely missed!  And they were so glad we came back.  Tuesday we went over to Montgomery for our final golf game with Elder and Sister Kelly.  They are from Tampa Florida and have served their mission on Maxwell Air Force Base.   We have become very good friends and it was hard to say good bye.  They complete their mission tomorrow.  Tampa and Salt Lake are not very close, but technology will keep us connected.  The two men would take one cart and golf and the two sisters would take the other cart and talk, talk, talk.  A mission has so many wonderful blessings. 
Ryan in a text message said: “ Great to see you both, you look and sound awesome. It was fun. NOW GO GIT'R DONE.’”  We will get back into our missionary mode, with renewed goals and commitments.  We know our family is being blessed by our service and your sacrifice.  We can’t tell you how much you each mean to us and the love and support we feel from you.  Love you y’all!!!
Grandma and Grandpa   

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spiritual Payday

Thanks for sending us the pictures of Shayla’s shower.  It was so fun to get the photos as the shower was happening, it really let us feel that we were there.  

Elder Zwick of the Seventy was here in our mission last week.  We went up to Birmingham for a Wednesday night Fireside and then stayed over night for the all day meeting with the Mission.  The emphasis was on the Ward/Branch Mission Leader to spearhead missionary work.  I don’t think this is a change such more emphasis on it.  We don’t have many members for all the callings, so Dad and I are the Branch Mission Leaders.  We have our work cut out for us.  We have been working with and meeting with the less actives and they are so glad to see us and to talk with us.  You would never know they are less active until Sunday, when they don’t come to church AGAIN.  But we just keep loving them.

We completed our Book of Mormon Reading Challenge.  Not everyone finished the book, but almost everyone said that they felt the spirit more in their lives.  We gave out awards:  “Reading the Book of Mormon is a “SPIRITUAL PAYDAY’   We attached a PayDay candy bar to the award. 
Next we are going to read the New Testament .

We have also had some success with the Temple.  Our youth have a temple trip on Oct. 27th.  We challenged the Branch to find family names that the youth can take with them.  Today, several of the Sisters said they had names ready and you could feel their excitement.  That is our next big goal, to have a Branch Temple Session before the end of November.   It’s a 2 ½ hour drive up to Birmingham and most of the Sisters work, so it will take all of a Saturday or part of Friday and Saturday, but the experience will be so good for the Branch. 

 Thank you for being such a wonderful thoughtful family.  We love you!!  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's a Snake!!

Some interesting events this week.  Monday night we were invited to Margaret and Jarrett’s for dinner and family home evening.  There son Stone didn’t get through football practice till 7:30 so dinner was late, 8:30.  After a lovely dinner, Jarrett asked his boys to take out the garbage can to the street for garbage day the next morning.  All of a sudden there was commotion outside....
“It’s a Snake!”  “It’s a Rattle Snake!”  Then there’s a Boom.  The sound of a gun.  By now we are all outside ...I am still safely on the porch, watching from a distance.  With one shot, Jarrett hit the snake, but of course they can still move.  It was about 4 feet long.  Jarrett said if it had bit anyone of the boys, we would have had a hard time getting to the Selma Hospital where they have the nearest snake anti-venom.  That medicine is $12,000.00!  But it is the only thing that can save your life if you get bit. The Sister missionaries were very brave and touched it and held it once it was safe.   I finally got brave enough to go off the porch and I leaned down ‘til I was about 6 inches from it.  That was close enough for me.!  Definitely not your typical family home evening lesson.
Tuesday Night we were invited to the Football game.  There is no soccer in Camden!  The major family name in our Branch is VICK.  That night we had SEVEN Vick members on the field.  The “termite” team, the Pee Wee and J.V.  Each age group also has a cheerleading squad and we had 5 girls on those teams.  Many of them are from the less=active families and they so appreciate that we come to support and cheer for their children.  I noted that we sat in our seats at the game and almost every less-active couple game over to talk with us.  The Kids are especially excited to see us there. Not in the Mission Hand Book, but a most wonderful fellowshipping experience.

Friday we had the Annual Camden Branch Fish Fry.  Boy, talk about FRIED FOOD!  Fried Catfish, Blackened Catfish, Fried Chicken Strips, French Fries and HUSH PUPPIES.  So GOOD!  (also cold slaw, baked beans, watermelon, brownies and cake)  They cooked 30#’s of catfish.  I don’t think it is anything like catfish at home.  It was so good, so light, and so tasty.  We had about 35 people in attendance.  A great evening.  I am getting the recipe for the hush puppies....y’all love them!   They dip them in ketchup but I suspect y’’all  use ranch. 

Many of the Branch members have been so concerned about us coming home for Shayla’s wedding.  They want to make sure we are coming back!  We are so glad that we have been able to serve here and give this small branch our love and our service. 

Be grateful for every calling and opportunity to serve in the church.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to learn and be prepared to serve others where ever we may be.  I am so grateful for callings in Primary, Relief Society, the Choir and even my piano playing for the primary when I was about 13.  He has a plan for us and is trying to prepare us for our current and future service to Him and His children.  We are so proud of each of you and your faithfulness to the Gospel and to our Family.  We send our love and prayers!!!! 
 Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Football and Fish Fry

August has been HOT!  We have only hit 100 degrees once, but the kicker is the humidity.  On a day of 95, the heat index is like 105.  We were at the Opening Football Jamboree.  We were in our seats at 5:00pm and it was so hot and humid we looked and felt like we had been in a sauna.  It still felt that way at 10:00pm when it ended.  The stadium was packed and hardly anyone left early, even those with young children. !  Football is a big thing here....a REALLY BIG THING.,  The two young men in our branch, Stone and J.P. are on the team, and they really look forward to our being there. 

Along with being very hot, we have not had any rain.  To our surprise everything has stayed fairly green, but the grass has not hardly grown  at all.   Grandpa used to mow every Monday and the grass really needed it and now it has been almost two weeks and it sill doesn’t need to be mowed.  I don’t know why it is so humid with the lack of rain, but it must be the humidity from the Gulf (of Mexico).  The landscape of this part of Alabama is very rural with natural greenery on every side.  It is similar to Oregon’s roadways’, but we do not have the large fir trees.  In Utah by now, the greenery along the sides of the road would be yellow and brown and a huge fire threat.  To our knowledge there have not been any forest fires in our area.  The cotton plants are about 3 feet tall now and have an occasional cotton ball on them.  I am super excited to see a cotton field in full bloom. 

We are still working with the Branch, to strengthen the members in their callings and reaching out to the Less Actives.  It is sad to see those who have once been so active, now so complacent and comfortable in staying away.  They seem so warm and accepting as we visit with them, but they don’t come on Sunday.  But we keep on friend shipping.  We truly love strings attached.  We are having the Annual Fish Fry next Saturday. No one seems to know how many years they have had the Fish Fry, they just call it the Annual.  It will be a typical Southern menu: Fried Fish, French fries, Cole Slaw and Hush Puppies (also some chicken for the non fish folks).   

On Friday this past week, we had the Senior Couples Activity.  Our Mission tries to have an activity every 6 to 8 weeks.  Dad and I planned this activity to go to the Montgomery Stock Yard Grill for lunch ( A real active Stockyard on Mondays) and then on a tour of the Hyundai Automotive Plant. ( a great tour)  We had 6 couples in attendance including our beloved Mission President and his wife.  We were so glad they could join us and have a little time to relax.  They have been out for a year and a half and they work every minute of every day helping, training, motivating and loving their missionaries.  You can’t really appreciate what a Mission President and His wife do for a mission and especially each missionary.  They love and care for them as if they were their own children.  They have to be truly dedicated to their service.  They do not get “days off”. 

We have been invited to a barbque on Monday and the Sister will be here in our home doing their Preparation day messaging to the Mission President and to their families. 

As this is a holiday weekend, we feel more tenderness about is not really homesickness, just tenderness.  We love each of you so much and are so grateful for our family.   Whatever you do tomorrow, think of us for a minute.  We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.  Love, Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Gator Hunt

Here in Alabama the past two weekends they have held an Alligator Hunting Contest.    The alligator is a protected specie, so it is illegal to hunt or kill alligators, except for these two weekends in August.  The hunt starts at 7:00 PM and runs to 7:00 AM.  So it’s a night hunt.
There are only a certain number of tags and Mandy Stokes drew a tag.  

 On the third day of the hunt this year,  a new record gator was hooked.   The 15 foot, 1,011 pound gator was caught here in Camden, on the Alabama River, just about 2 miles north of us.  Of course it has been the talk of the town.   The five people in the boat said the gator didn’t go down without a fight.  Once the family got some large hooks into it, Mandy aimed her 20 gauge shotgun at the sweet spot behind the alligator’s eyes.  His head ducked under the water and the shot only made him mad.  The gator surged forward and towed the 17 ft boat across the creek at a startling speed.  The towing continued until the boat crashed into a tree stump in the creek.  Eventually Mandy got off another shot.  “This time, water just exploded on all of us.”  This time, she killed the alligator.    There have been all kinds of
“gator stories” about this gator.  Tonight we heard from a reputable source that inside the gator, was a small deer, part of a small cow and several beavers.”  Pretty gory stuff, but thought the hunters in the family might appreciate the talk. 

The previous Alabama record alligator was 14ft 2 inch , 838 pound gator also captured here in Camden on the Alabama River in 2011. 
We have been to see this one.  It is on a special travel rack and it has traveled all over the state to Schools and fairs. 

I wanted to go up to Roland State Park just up the road about 3 miles to see the weighing in and try to see a real alligator, but they said I would have to go up and 7:00 in the evening and just wait until someone brought in a gator and I could have to wait until 2 or 3 in the morning and I didn’t want to see one THAT BAD. 

Mission wise, we had another wonderful trip to the temple with Edward, one of our Branch Members.  He was very hesitant the first time we went and now he is so happy to be able to serve there.  We had 7  members at our Family History class on Thursday.  This time we worked on Indexing and they really have taken to it.  We set a goal of 800 names for the adults in the Branch, but we will more than make that goal.  The youth goal is 150 names and we had our new Beehive at our class and she really liked it so I think we will reach that goal as well. 

We think about you every day and know that you would love to see where it is we live and to meet the people we have grown to love.   We will bring pictures.  They have seen your pictures on our wall and on our fridge, so they are beginning to “know “ you.    We love you and are so grateful for the love and support