Monday, March 31, 2014

See & Respond

Dear Family

Last night we went over to the Branch to set up the new big screen TV to watch the Women’s conference.  As we got it set up, there were scenes of the Conference Center, the flower gardens and the Temple and it brought back such fond memories of the times we have all been on Temple Square.  What a wonderful conference it was!  I looked for you in the audience and in the choir, but also knew how very large the area of the valley is.  We only had 5 women (and Dad) at our building, but found out this morning that several of them watched it in their homes.   When you think how many were in the conference center and that was a small number compared with all those around the world who were able to participate via the internet.  Truly a World Wide Church.
I wanted to share with you a thought from our testimony meeting today.  Edward talked about planting a bigger garden this year.  His wife died last year and so it is only him at his home, but instead of growing less, he decided to grow more.  He said we don’t have to go to Haiti to help the less fortunate....they are right here among us.  So he is going to plant a larger garden so that he will be able to give more in the fall.   Our Stake President was visiting today and his message was just that. It is small and simple things that we can do to lift and help others.  He said, we only have to keep our eyes open to see the little things that we might do to brighten and lighten someone’s burden.   
As Missionaries , we pray many times a day that the Lord will bless us and inspire us as to who we might see and what He would have us say to help His children here.  As I was standing in the kitchen, I notices three bags ( zip lock bags with 6 chocolate chip cookies) sitting on the dryer.  ( I don’t have much counter space).  As I noticed them, a thought came to me....RoShara loves your chocolate chip cookies!  Take some to her and ask her to attend the Conference with you.    I went into Dad who was ready and told him that I was going over to RoShara’s.  RoShara is a 13 year old black girl who was baptized almost 5 years ago.  Since she turned 12, she has not been to church.  You know how hard it is to go when you are the only one your age and then to be the only black youth member.  So I went over.  She was just finishing rearranging her bedroom.  I went down the hall and asked her if I could see her room.  She is so shy, but she gave me a small and a nod.  We chatted a minute or too and then I asked her if she would come with me to the Women’s Conference that night.  I told her it would our “date”.  She said, can I call you?  I said I brought a “BRIB”.  She laughed and said, Can I call you?  I said, I would take that as a yes, unless she called me and said no.  She took the cookies and I left.  You all know that I don’t carry my phone everywhere I go, but I did for the rest of the day.  I checked it about every 15 minutes.  At ten to call, so I went over to pick her up.  Just then her mom got home and she said she would come with her mom.  SHE DID!
I even think she enjoyed the meeting.  I was so grateful for the prompting I had to ask her and that I followed that prompting.  I know it will take more opportunities to help her, but I know that I was blessed to ask and she was blessed for saying yes and for coming. 
In all you do, try to see, really see the people around you and respond to those promptings you receive to do a small and simple things to help lift His children.
We love each of you and are so happy to received your texts and notes and pictures as to what is happening to each of you.   We pray for you every morning and every night.  Stay close to the Gospel and to each other!.  Love grandma and grandpa

PS  Happy Birthday to Derek and Caitlin this week. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

BAMA kids

We had an interesting experience last week.  You know that we have been to Hobbs Elementary a couple of times to do some service.  The Librarian called us Friday and asked if we could come to an accreditation meeting on Tuesday and be “shareholders” in the school.  We said we would and we were there at 8:00 am on Tuesday morning.  Before our meeting began, the school had its morning announcements on.  A student about 10 was giving the announcements’, then he said, “Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance”.  We could hear students repeating the Pledge.   Dad and I were surprised by that. Can our students say the Pledge?  I thought they could not.  We asked if this was a private school and it is public.  The man we asked said, they probably shouldn’t say it here either but no one is going to complain.
   Our meeting began; a team of three educators explained they were there at the invitation of the school to perform an accreditation evaluation and had some questions for the shareholders.  Of course they called on us first and we really didn’t know how we fit into the evaluation.  We gave them our names and why were here in Alabama, how long we would be here and how we were involved with the school.  As the other shareholders gave their names and how they were involved, they were people from Alabama Power who supports BAMA Kids, a program for youth after school, a Four H Representative that provides outside curriculum projects and brings extra programs to the school, such as the Raptors program from Auburn University.  That program is like the Bird Show at the Oregon Zoo that we all loved to see.   Each of the people in the room explained how they fit into this program.  It was interesting to me, that not only have we served at the school, but I have been serving at a resource center which is part of BAMA Kids.  I go to the Black Belt Treasures sewing group on Thursday’s and they too provide extra curricular activities for the school.  It turned out that we knew 5 of the other folks there.  It gave us a sense of accomplishment that we have become acquainted with different service groups here in the City.  Interestingly enough, the lead educator has friends in Idaho and she spends a few weeks every summer in Driggs, Idaho.  What a small world we live in.  
The rest of week was very busy; we had Missionary Day at the Birmingham temple on Thursday.  We left at 10:00 and got home at 9:30 that night.  What a wonderful experience to be in the temple with all those young Sisters and Elders.  Friday was our District Meeting.  Dad and I are in a District with 6 other elders....right now we have 7 elders.  One companion got sick and had to go home, so we are waiting for another missionary to be sent out here.  Again, we are blessed to be with these young elders.  It is amazing to see how they grow in their confidence and ability to serve the Lord.  Transfers are next Tuesday and it is surprising to me that we kind of dread it, as we have really come to love each of these young men.   
Saturday Night we had a Branch Pot Luck Dinner and classes on Family History and Genealogy.  Some how I got put in charge.  I was so nervous, mostly concerned that we might not have enough food.  WELL  let me tell you.....we could have fed another 50 people or more.  The whole evening turned out GREAT!  When we had our activity last night, Dad was helping different people get logged in and Dad’s wallpaper came up.  Each of you are on that wallpaper.  Oh how our Branch loves each of you.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tornado Warning!!

Dear Family.

WOW   We have news tonight.  About 6:00 am this morning our Storm Alert System in our kitchen went off.  This is a very LOUD beeping noise that seems to go forever....then a deep voice says:  “This is a National Weather Alert....Tornado WARNING for Clark and Wilcox County. This alert is from 6:05 am CDT to 6:45 am CDT. “ We live in Wilcox County.  Within a few minutes another loud beeping....”This is a National Weather Alert....Tornado WARNING for CAMDEN.  Do not wait to see if it is coming.  To wait, it may be too late.”  We were dressed by this time.  Dad turned on the TV to see what the warnings were on the TV.  Usually they have the warnings and instructions streaming across the bottom of the screen....but there was nothing.  Just then, the TOWN WARNING SIRENS started.  One is on our you know it was loud.  At that time I said to Dad, “We are leaving right now.”  We got into the car and drove to the Church.  The Branch members had told us that it is the safest building in town,   It was built strong and sturdy.  We waited and waited...but nothing.  At about 7:00 we came back home and felt relieved that we had not had any trouble.  Then the Heavy Rain came.
It was rain like Noah must have had.  They tell us tonight, that there were over 3,000 lightening strikes in the storm area.  It appears that the storm front has moved to the East and we will just have some light rain tonight.    Several Branch members called to check on us and they were glad that we had heeded their instructions to go to the church.  Most of the members’ live quite a ways out of town and several have their own Tornado Shelters.  So there you have it...our first experience with a Tornado Warning. They tell us we are in the Spring Tornado Season.  I hope it is not too active a season. 
We had our Zone Meeting on Wednesday in Montgomery.  Again, these young Elders and Sisters are amazing.  This is what Derek is doing right now: Teaching and training the newer missionaries, so that they might have the most successful teaching and sharing experiences.  I am glad that I have been practicing the piano, as I was asked to play for Zone Meeting.  I did alright and it did feel great to be of service to our missionaries and to help bring the Spirit into our meeting.
Thursday we were invited to the Mission Home for a going away party.  Several of our Senior Missionary Couples are going home in the next couple of months.  It is surprising how close you become to the people who are serving just like we are.  The May’s from Idaho, have been over housing and she is the Mission Nurse, the Tyler’s from Wyoming have been over Cars and Safety and Literature. And the other couples have been in Branches and wards serving like we are.  President Hanks said each of the couples was excited to be going home, but also sad to be leaving their area of service.  The Spanish Speaking Branch in Birmingham provided the lunch.  We had Chile Rejenos, Rice and some kind of spiced meat sandwiches, with a Mexican kind of cake and Flan for dessert. 
We had our Stake Conference today and it is a good thing Elder Hepworth was here.  It was the first time that they have telecasted the conference from Montgomery to each of the outlying branches.  The members are not too electronically experienced, so Dad met with the High Counselor for instruction on the new equipment we just received and it worked pretty well.  It froze up a couple of times, but dad was able to connect and re-join the conference.  It was a great Conference.  We are all so lucky to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and have all the blessing, guidance and peace that it brings to us.  It is a blessing to us, that no matter where we go, we can be nourished by the good word of GOD.   We love each of you and pray that you will feel our Heavenly Father’s love for you and His guidance in your daily life.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meant to be in Camden

Dear Family

It has been another slow quite week here in Camden.  We have been out trying to meet with some less-actives.  We had one great experience last Tuesday night.  We went to visit a couple where the husband is not active.  He at one time was very active... but things changed for him and he slowly drifted away.  We were having a wonderful visit, just talking about life experiences, when he changed the topic to church activity.  He told Dad that he felt from the first time they met, that Dad had been sent here just for him and if we stay long enough, he knows that he will get stronger in his faith.  Dad told him that we would be here long enough.  That he too felt there was a reason that we had been sent to Camden.  He promised Dad that unless he was sick, he would not miss another Sacrament Meeting.   
On Monday, we went to the Hobbs Elementary School for Dr. Seuss Day.  
We each picked a Seuss book and went to a First Grade class and then to a Kindergarten class to read to the students.  They were so excited and so cute.  They all have such happy faces with big sparkling eyes.  When we finished reading, we went back to the Librarian and she thanked us for coming and said that she would be calling us again to come help at the school.  As we left, some of the students were coming from their class rooms with Dr. Seuss Hats on their heads.  They were having such a wonderful day.  Here’s a picture.

Today, I taught Primary and we had 8 children ranging from 11 to 4.  4 were visitors.
It turned out that I taught the full 2 hours, so it forced me to draw on all my experiences in primary, songs, stories, testimony and an activity.    This little Gospel light of mine was one of their favorites.  Pop Corn Popping another.   Dad conducted and taught Priesthood.  In a branch, you get called on to do almost anything at short notice.  We love to give the Active members a break and give them our support.
We love to hear from you, even if it is only a picture.....or that you won a math competition...or a question about the Beatles...or that you met someone at the Temple who used to live in Tualatin....or a surprise package of goodies.... it helps us to know that everything is well with you and it tells us of your loving support for us.
We love each of you dearly and pray for you everyday.  Love, Grandma and Grandpa

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Delivering Bibles

Dear Family,

Last Sunday we received two referrals from the Church’s Call Center in Utah.  You have seen the ads on the TV and if you want to request missionaries or copies or whatever, it is called a referral.  These referrals are passed on to the missionaries close to the requesting party.
Each request was from a woman here in Camden requesting a Holy Bible.  One referral indicated that she was going through some trouble times  The other was from an lady who was requesting a Holy Bible for her school  We had three Bibles but they were all the soft side copies.  I wanted to take a hard bound copy to the school, so I had to order one.  They want the missionaries to respond as quickly as possible to the referrals, so we took copies of the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon and with the help of our GPS we headed out.  The first address was in a part of Camden that we were not sure was the best, but you know was day light and we would be out in the open and we would not go in.  We found the little house, climbed up a big flight of decaying concrete steps and knocked on the door.  The sweetest little black woman answered.  We could see into her humble little home so very clean and decorated with simple treasures.  She invited us in.  Of course we went in, and had a wonderful visit.  Her husband had died and her children were all grown and moved away and she just felt she needed the Lord.  She wanted a Large Print Bible, but accepted the one we brought.  We told her we would get the large print one and come back to visit her.  We told her about the Book of Mormon and that it was the word of the Lord, another testament of Jesus Christ.  She declined that copy, but did invite us to come back and visit. 
The next address turned out to be the Hobbs Elementary School.  This is the school that is almost 100% black children.  A young man in the 5th grade directed us to the Principle’s office, but it was locked.  The young man came right back and got us and took us outside to the Vice Principal who was directing the students in boarding their buses.  We told him who we were looking for and he directed us to the Library.  We met the Librarian and she was a most vivacious and delightful woman.  We told here who we were and that we had brought the requested Holy Bible.  She was so excited.  She said, many of the children want to have a Bible, but they have no money.  As we gave her the one copy of the soft sided Bible, we told her that we had ordered a Hard Bound copy and that we would bring that and several more soft side copies for her.  I then laid the Book of Mormon next to the Bible.  I explained to her, that the Holy Bible contains the Old Testament that tells of Christ coming in the future, The New Testament which contains the teaching of Jesus Christ while he was here and that The Book of Mormon tells of Jesus Christ coming to the American Continents and teach His gospel to them.  It is another Testament of Jesus Christ.  She very gladly took both books.  Then somehow we got on service we might be able to give and she said....”Can you come Monday March 3rd.?  We are having a Dr. Seuss Day and they could use some help in reading Dr. Seuss books to different classes.”  So dad and I are going to the school tomorrow and help out in anyway we can.  We are very excited

As you know, Senior Couple Missionaries do not have quite all the rules to follow that the young missionaries have while serving their mission.  This Thursday we spent half the day with our Branch Member Edward Smith.  He is the trapper I have mentioned.  We went out about 8:00 on four wheelers to check his traps.  I was so nervous, but it turned out to be a wonderful memorable day.  It was a cool sunny day and the woods were quite and serene. 
 He told us that this 1800 acres had been a plantation in the 1970’s. It was planted with Cotton, fields and fields of cotton, then when polyester fabric became popular, they planted Soy Beans and when the price dropped for Soy Beans, the plantation turned to growing pine trees.  Weyerhaeuser rents all this property to grow pine trees for paper.  We finished up at about 1:00 in the afternoon.  4 Coyotes and two raccoons.  Camden is not a mountainous place, but we were on top of the highest hill and could see the whole Wilcox county from the top.  It was a beautiful sight and a wonderful day!  You will love to see the pictures.Attached is a sample.  There really are woods.  We are making new memories to add to our most cherished!  We love you and keep you in our prayers daily.  

Love Grandpa and Grandma