Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love Ya'll

February 23, 2014

Monday was the funeral of Miss Ernestine Vick Maness.  She was 93 years old and had lived in Camden her whole life.  She was the Matriarch to most of the members of the church in our Branch. We only got to visit with her a few times since we arrived, but each visit was a treasured blessing for us. 

The Primary President asked if we would be home on Tuesday at 3:45. 
At 3:45 there was a knock at our door.  Addie, our eleven year old primary girl, asked us to come out side, that the Primary had a surprise for us. 
There they were, each with a little gift for us.  Orange Soda Pop= Orange you glad we have the Gospel!,..  mint candies=the Hepworth’s are “mint” to be with us!.....bag of pretzels= We will stick by you!...pack of Extra gum= You are EXTRA special...a package of cookies=You are sweet cookies!.....Milky Way Bars= In all the MILKY WAY, I’m glad you are here!....pop corn= we LOVE your POP!....and two packages of Honey Buns= You are a Honey!  We have only nine children in our Primary, which is FAR different from home....and  they are the sweetest children and
We have grown to love them.

Dad and I spoke in church today.  As usual I took TOO long....more than my allotted 15 minutes.  For my topic I choose to speak on “Enduring to the End!”  I won’t give you the whole thing, but just to share...I have thought that the word Enduring felt too much like enduring a trial or enduring the pain.  Bust last week in Sunday school our teacher used the word Endurance.  I liked that word.  I thought of the Olympic Athletes’ who train physically, technically and spiritually to prepare for the Olympics. They work and work, they build and they build, they practice and practice....they do not leave anything out.  They build Endurance.  We too have to use faith, prayer, the scriptures, and attend our church meetings to build our endurance to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and endure to the end. I used two stories from the January 2014 14. check them out.    Dad read his favorite poem, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”.  He related it to our need to help the less active in our Branch feel the Touch of the Master’s Hand. He did a great job of motivating active members to work together to help their family members and friends to feel our love and need for them to join with us again.  WE love each of you and are so glad that you support us in serving this Mission.  We are very grateful that we have been sent to this little Branch.  We hope we can be the help, love and support that they need.  Keep us in your prayers You will each be in ours.  Love Grandma and Grandpa.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day Cookies

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentines Day.  I wanted to make sugar cookies and an old friend at PayLess Drug Stores made the best.  I contacted Jan Casteel to see if she had that recipe and she did.  We couldn’t find a heart shaped cookie cutter, so Dad picked out a red plastic heart that was filled with smarties.  He thought we could use that.  I made a batch and then I made another batch but I was so tired, that I just didn’t think I could use the plastic heart.  When Dad came into the kitchen he was so disappointed that I hadn’t made heart shapes, so I made another batch and dad rolled them out and cut out the shapes and put them on the cookie sheets.  
You would have loved to see that!  Altogether, we made 81 cookies. So Friday, we spent the day taking plates of cookies to all the Branch Members.  They were all so excited!    We had District meeting earlier in the day on valentines and then delivering the cookies, and being so well received, and taught a Temple Prep class and then when back to a less active who had invited us in with the was a full missionary day!  It felt so good.  AND we were so tired! 

Saturday we had a change of pace from our Mission.  Doug and Emily McArthur were taking their family to Orlando on vacation. They would go right thru Mobile Alabama and wondered if we would be able to see them.  Mobile is about 2 hours south and it is out of our mission area.  We got permission to make the trip, so we drove to Mobile.  I really wanted to see the Gulf of Mexico, so we went to a beach called Gulf Shores.  We were to meet the McArthur’s about 4:00 up near Mobile. They arrived sooner than they expected and decided to drive down to the Gulf Shores and let the children play.  It was a sunny day, though a little cool for the beach, but the children ran and played in the sand and found shells and the grownups visited. 
 It turned out to be a great time for all of us.  One of those magic moments that you can’t quite believe we could put it together with just a few email messages.
I have to admit, I was a little homesick on our way back from Mobile.  We think of you every day and are so glad to hear about the things you are doing. It really helps us to know that everything is OKAY.  Dad and I are pretty good companions and are a good compliment to each other.  Dad is so good with the teaching moments.  We send our love to each of you! 
Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Piano Lessons

I have said to many of you that I wish I had been better prepared to serve on this mission. We wish we had done some hands-on actual entering of names on Family History.  Most of these people have done very little with family history.  Some of them are even “afraid” to get to know their ancestors.  But even with that fear, they want to start getting something about their family on the Family Search program.  We went over to Greenville about 45 miles east of here, to meet with Elder and Sister Spect.  She is very good at Family History, so we got a crash course.  We have helped one of the new converts to start her family tree and she is so excited.  We are planning a pot luck evening (Bring your family’s favorite dish) to get folks interested in their family history.   We will follow up with classes.  We do have a Family History Representative, so we will be working with her.  The Stake just purchased some large screen TV’s and computers for each unit, so that will make the teaching much easier and more interesting to participate in.  This will probably be in late April.  Apparently they have an ANNUAL FISH FRY that is super successful.  The last time they had it, they had about 70 people.  We have that planned for March 30th. 
Surprise!!!  I taught my first piano lesson on Wednesday.  Oh, how I wish had stayed with the piano longer.   Stone Vick is 13.  He had taken lessons for a few months when his life got too busy to keep up with the lessons.  When we went out to their home for dinner, Stone played a song from the Easy Hymn book for us.  Margaret called a few weeks later and asked if I would teach him, so that he could play enough for church and be a little better prepared for his mission.  Lesson one went pretty well, if I do say so for myself.  Sister Spect, one of the Senior Missionaries had made the comment, that as we do things for the branch, we should find someone who can “duplicate” us when we go home.  The Branch has really loved singing to the piano rather than a recording, even with my mistakes.  So Stone will be very valuable to the branch with this talent.  (He is already VERY VALUABLE to the branch and to his school)
We had our Zone Conference on Tuesday in Montgomery.  Wow, these young missionaries are so great.  They teach so powerfully and have such great teaching skills.
President Hanks, our Mission President is a spiritual giant.  A memorable lesson:
“What can you become...”LIVELY  D&C 92:2. “ANXIOUSLY” D&C 58:27, “HEARTILY” Col.3:23 and “CHEERFUL” 2 Cor. 9:6-9.  “What describes you?”
Things to think about.            
Of a very sad note, our dear friend Rex Wilcox passed away on February 4th.  Apparently he had fallen once and had a pretty serious head injury, but then he fell again and was not able to recover from the effects.  Rex has been a dear friend since the 5th grade.  He was sort of like a brother type friend, always there, always helpful, always with a laugh.  We will miss him terribly.  Oh, what would we do without the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation!   

We love each of you very much and it means so much to us to know we have your love and support.
Keep in touch with what ever way is easiest.  It doesn’t have to be long...just great to hear from you.
We keep you in our hearts and in our prayers......Love Grandma and Grandpa 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Snow and Ice

I am sure that you heard about the Ice and Snow here in the South.  It was really something.  The weather forecasters talked about it for a couple of days and indicated that it would mostly effect Mobile and the very southern points in Alabama.  WE took the message seriously and had all that we needed on hand.  Monday was quite a nice day, pleasant temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Tuesday morning about 9:30 the light rain started to have an icy sound as it hit the house and branches.  By noon everything was covered with a shiny coat of ice.   There was still a little traffic on the roads, but soon turned to silence.  The schools had already been closed for Tuesday and Wednesday, so the children were all home safe here in Camden.  We watch the news for the minute by minute pictures of what the South was looking like.  By 3:00 we had snow fall on top of the ice.  It wasn’t much, but the two together were pretty treacherous  The Governor and the Mayors were all on the TV explaining what was happening and what they need the public to do. THEY CLOSED  ALL THE ROADS... Except for emergency travel.  The Ice and Storm reached Birmingham.  About 2 ½ hours NORTH of us.  They were not expecting the storm.  The children had gone to school, parents had gone to work....about noon, the storm hit there....parents left work to go get their children and ended up stranded on the roadways and freeways.  Semi trucks were jackknifed, freeways that went down under other freeways were jammed with trucks that had gone down under from one side and could not come up the other side....rescue trucks could not pull them up the other side.  People were stranded for hours and hours.  One Chick Filet near the freeway cooked up 250 chicken sandwiches and employees walked down the packed freeway handing out sandwiches to stranded travelers.  Another man bought 200 Sausage McMuffins and did the same thing, up and down the stalled cars giving out the sandwiches.  The National Guard was called out to help get the children from their schools to their homes.  The Governor said...”you trust your children to their teachers during the day, you can trust you children to be with their teachers at night”.  I think they got them all home except 80 children who managed to have an adventure at school that night.  Wednesday everything stayed closed down until mid afternoon when things slowly and I mean slowly started to thaw.
They have NO Road Equipment to handle this kind of weather because they have it so seldom.  We saw on TV two men in the back of a dump truck, loaded with sand, shoveling it out the spreader...just back breaking work..    Since we have been in Alabama, they have had the coldest and wettest weather in 40 years.  We truly have had our own adventures here!  For contrast, we went to Birmingham to the Temple on Saturday and didn’t even need a sweater.  WE love our little branch.  WE feel we are giving support to the active members and making some friendly connections with some of the less actives.
This is the place we were meant to come to and hope we can do all that the Lord would have us do.  Thank you for your LOVE and SUPPORT.  Lovingly miss you and joyful to be here.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Our Mission President, President Hanks just sent out his weekly letter.    I want to share this message....

”Do you know the most famous scripture in the Christian world? You should. It is John 3:16… you’ve probably seen signs in the background at all kinds of events around the world that proclaim John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

I testify to you that this is true. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us and has created a plan for us to learn and grow and then return to him. His plan included the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ – who gave himself that we might return to God.

Perchance, do you know the next verse? I hope you will memorize them both. Here it is:

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

I testify that this too is true and real. God is not a “lightning-bolt” God, looking to catch us making mistakes and hoping that we’ll fail. He is actually our Heavenly Father and He has no interest in condemning us or watching us fall. He is hoping and praying and rooting for us all to make it home.

John 3:16 AND John 3:17. Memorize them… and make them yours!”