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