Monday, March 30, 2015

Busy Two Weeks

As you remember, we have had a very busy two weeks:  4 days at the Birmingham Temple with the Young Elders and Sisters and then another day, Saturday with Theresa and lots of visits to branch members.  It has been a wonderful two weeks!!!
Theresa  was baptized in October of 2013 and she loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is trying to obedient in all things.  She completed her 4 generation group sheet when we started doing Family History with her.  She was glad when she got the four done and said, “I don’t want to do any more of that. “  Then she went to the Temple in January and now she can’t add names fast enough.  We feel like she will be able to continue working for her family after we have come home.  It was a great day yesterday with her.
Last night, we got a surprise call from our Mission President, President Hanks.  He said he was on his way to Camden and would be attending our church meetings with us.  We had hoped he would come down sometime, but we are so far away from Mission Headquarters, that we never thought it would happen. 
Finding a decent place to stay in Camden is not really possible, but he stayed anyway.  It is interesting how the Lord works to help us with our lives.  For example, Tuesday Miss Ruby on neighbor, landlord and dear friend, took us to lunch at the Montgomery Stockyard Grill.  (We had taken her there for a Christmas Thank You and she loved it).  She wanted us to share that experience again.  On the way home, she wanted to stop at a grocery store. ( A Good one) They had some beautiful produce and I picked up a big bundle of Asparagus.  I had purchased extra Biscuits last week and had a lovely roast.  We always have the Missionaries for dinner on Sunday and President McIntosh comes every Fast Sunday.  I had also prepared a dessert for the Women’s Session of General Conference.  I had been helped to be prepared for having such a wonderful guest in our home.  The dinner was wonderful and the company and conversation warm and friendly.  Mostly about the history of the church in Camden. 
Fast and Testimony meeting was very difficult today.  It was our last one.  I remember when we first got here and was a little lonely, I thought, only 18 more to go and now, we have had the last one.  We so love the people we have met here.  The members in our little Branch have become like family to us and it will be hard to leave.  However, you never lose friends, they will always be special in our hearts. 
Next Sunday will be our last letter home, as we start that next week, packing and shipping.  Again, we thank you all for your support in all the ways you have shown it.  Letter, texts, pictures Face book  and even a few calls.  We can’t tell you how much it has meant to us and how much it has kept us going.  We love each of you and are looking forward to seeing you.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wonderful Week!

FIRST OF ALL:  JP got his mission call.  He is called to serve in Brazil.  There have only been two other missionaries from Camden since it started as a Branch in the late 1890’s .  This is HUGE!  JP is the only Senior at Wilcox Academy who is a member of the church.  He is the Student Body President and so loved and respected by the students and teachers and the whole community. 

Wonderful week!  Monday and Tuesday night we had wonderful, meaningful meetings with two of our Branch families.  The kind of evening that is why we came on our mission.  To help someone(s) to draw closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.
District meeting in Selma on Wednesday.  These young Elders are so well prepared and so faithful.  They are obedient and diligent in serving the people of Alabama and serving the Lord.   We truly love these young men and are so grateful we have the opportunity to serve with them. We do miss the Sisters too.
Thursday and Friday we were with half of the mission at the Birmingham Temple.  Again, young people 18 to 22, clean in thought and deed and worthy to obtain this blessing.  It is sort of camera heaven after we dome out. Usually there are about 10 phones and cameras taking picture after picture; the next 10 come out and new photographers, same main picture.  President and Sister Hanks right in the middle and Elder and Sister Hepworth just to the side. Then it is photo of companions,  more companions, and just the joy of being together.   We just love these young people. 
Saturday, we prepared for our Saturday night activity.  President Memory from Montgomery came to Camden to speak.  “On the road to the Passover”  He is one of the most dynamic speakers we have ever heard.  Since it was Saturday night, he set the chapel up with a table like would have been used at the Passover.  The four goblets of wine, the bitter herbs, the lamb, the unleavened bread, the sweet fruit mixture and the vinegar.  He also had the  “ washing” place set up and the table that was always set for Elijah,  who will return.   He spent the next hour and a half explaining the meaning of each piece as relates to the Feast of the Passover and also the meaning of each piece as it relates to us in our lives.  To say we were all captivated,  humbled and blessed for our participation in the evening would be an understatement. 

This coming week we are again so busy.  Two days at the Temple with the other half of the Mission and then again on Saturday with our dear Theresa.  We are trying very hard to get two trips to the Temple in before we leave.

Then, we have to start preparing things here for our return home.  Since we are not being replaced, we have to close up our little house and there are so many people that we want to see and say good bye to.  Those final two weeks will be so very busy and very hard to say good bye. 
We won’t think about that today.  Just know that we are happy and blessed to be here serving.  We are so grateful to each of you for your love and support.  The Theme for our mission is “STEADFAST IN CHRIST”.        Please remember that phrase and try to live by it each day.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Raindrops falling all around

March 15, 2015

Today is a beautiful day in Camden, Alabama: Warm Temperature, sunshine, blue sky, green trees and daffodils poking up out of the grass.  Makes you so glad to be alive.  We had our Montgomery Stake Conference today and it was so very good:  Uplifting, hopeful, goal setting and glimpses of Eternal Life.
JP our only Priest was asked to speak.  He is a senior and will be 18 on May 17th.  He is waiting for his Mission call to come.
For those of you who do not know JP, he is the only Member of the Church in his grade.  He is also the Student Body President. 
Since it is a private Christian school, he starts everyday leading the school in their devotional.  All the kids really look up to him.
When the school had the program where all the seniors announced their plans for after graduation, there was a hush that fell over the crowd when it was announced that he would serve a 2 year mission for “The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints”.  He says he has had so many opportunities to explain what a mission is and why he wants to serve.  He is a great example to the school and the community.  His call should get here this week. (we all hope)

The country as a whole has had very diverse weather and Alabama is not different.  No snow or ice here in Camden, but rain!!  I can’t explain to you about the rain.  Not Oregon Rain. Not Utah Rain.  But Noah’s Ark Rain.  Most of the homes here in Camden have tin roofs.  You don’t know the sound of rain until it pours like that and lands on a tin roof.  Almost like thunder.  We didn’t get thunder and lightening with this band of storms, but I think the Gulf Of Mexico sent us more than our share. 

It is pretty certain, that we are not getting a Senior Couple to replace us.  We are sadden by this news. as we know first hand how much Senior’s can add in support and leadership to a small branch.  The Branch is taking the news pretty well.  We hope that we have left an example of Service and Love for the Lord that will help them carry on in supporting the Branch and each other.
Thank heaven for cell phones, we may be “on call”  for a while.
The next two weeks will be very busy with Temple Attendance for all the Elders and Sisters in our mission. Then before we know it, it will be Conference and then we pack up. 

Again, we thank you for your love and support as we have served here.  We love the people in our Branch and in our little town.
We have made many wonderful friendships and made wonderful memories.  Keep us in your prayers, will be in ours.  
Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, March 9, 2015

Edmund Pettus Bridge

This weekend was the 50th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King March from Selma to Montgomery.  The issue at this time was the Right to Vote.  The Blacks had the right to vote, but here in the South, they were kept from registering to vote by Militant Police and other leaders by making unusual requirements such as being able to answer questions like “How many bubbles in a bar of Soap”  or making them stand in line outside the Registration place, only letting whites go in and then telling them the office was closed and they would have to come back another day.  The black people were prohibited from having any public meetings, so they met within their churches.  Browns Chapel in Selma was where the March originated.  The first March ended at the east end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge when the State Trooper where waiting for them to drive them back across the bridge.  That day is called, “Bloody Sunday”.  President Lyndon Johnson stepped in a prepared the way for the march to take place.  Only 300 people were allowed to cross the bridge and march to Montgomery, about 45 miles.  It took several days and they were fed by the people as they passed by their houses.  When they arrived in Montgomery, the march quickly became ten thousand marchers. Changes were made

Our District Leader asked that all 10 of the missionaries in our District meet in Selma at the parade route and give out pass -along cards and Books of Mormon.   We heard that they expected 10,000 people to come into Selma.  The number was much greater.  President Obama and President Bush and their families came to town. They were in the parade, but the safety precautions they have to take now days, we could only see the big black SUV’s that looked so formidable.  You could not see in the windows and they did not drive in a parade.   We left after the parade and had our District meeting and then we thought we would try to see the Presidents.  NO WAY!  There were cars parked everywhere you could think to park a car.  People walking and walking.  We later learned that President Obama spoke at the base of the bridge on the west side of the Alabama River.  About 2:30 the dignitaries started their march across the bridge.  President Obama, his wife and two daughters, President Bush and his wife and many other government officials made the march. 
Today, Sunday, the official reenactment of the Bridge Crossing took place.  The people were lined up from onside of the street to the other...shoulder to shoulder; standing in line more than a block long.  It was estimated that there were 50,000 people making the crossing.    Because we were just young adults (22 years old) when this all took place, it was a special opportunity to be here at this anniversary. 

We just wanted to share this experience with y’all.  We are so grateful to live in the part of the world we live in and to have grown up with such freedom and to have been taught that we are all God’s children and to treat them as such.  We love each of you and pray for you happiness and obedience.  Love Grandma and Grandpa

Monday, March 2, 2015

Transfers, transfers!!

In the Mission, each 6 week period is called a “Transfer”  The Saturday night before the Transfer Date, the missionaries wait for the phone call that will tell them if they are stay where they are or whether they will be transferred.  Saturday night was Transfer Call Night and we waited and waited....usually calls come before 9:00.  At 10:00 the Sisters got the call....they are BOTH being transferred.  All our hearts were broken by the news.  President McIntosh and the members were sad too about the missionaries where they are most needed and effective and the Sisters are needed elsewhere.  We have a shortage of Sister Missionaries in our mission. We will be getting Elders and for that we are very grateful.   We news but they also know that the Mission President has to place know that they will love and serve the Branch and the people of Camden, just as the Sisters have done. 

The weather here has been so cold and rainy.  Coats and Thermals and Gloves.  Then, yesterday, it we 34 when we left the house to go watch the 10-12 year olds play baseball and softball.  About 11:00 the sun came out, the wind stopped and it was so pleasant.  We watched two games and came home about 1:30; AND we are so SUN BURNED.   Today, we are back to grey and colder temps.  I guess it still is winter....we are just anxious for warm and sunny.

President Hanks’ secretary called us last week and asked if we would stay a few days longer, so we could be part of the Transfer Meeting on April 15th.  It means that we won’t be home on the weekend of the April 18th, but more like Wednesday April 22nd.  We thought about it for a bit and decided that we will stay and be part of the “Transfer”.  We will leave Camden on Tuesday the 14th and be in Birmingham Tuesday night and Wednesday night and then leave early on Thursday.  At this point, we are planning on driving north to Carthage Jail and then on to Nauvoo.  We will visit all the sights and attend the Temple and then we will head HOME to Utah.    We have a very busy March with several trips to the temple, two different dates with the Elders and Sisters and at least one with our Branch.  We also have a Family History class this Wednesday taught by the Stake Family History Couple and know that they will be a big help to us and to the Branch.  Our Branch goal was to have every member have their 4 family history on the computer.  Also, to help them prepare names to take to the temple.  We have a lot to accomplish in the next 6 weeks.

We are trying very hard to not get “trunky”.  But it slips in every once in a while, like: “ This is the last toilet paper we will have to buy”  or “ Get the smallest peanut butter jar”.   Again, we are so very grateful that we chose to come on a mission.  We have been so blessed and have grown so much in our love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our testimonies have been so strengthened. 
Thanks to each of you for love and support.  We could not have done it with out you cheering us on in the background.  We love you and look forward (with mixed feelings) to next month.  Love, Grandma and Grandpa