Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Sister in Irmo

Sister Koeven (left) replaced Sister Rogers as Sister Davis' companion in the Irmo area.

Irmo/Dutch Fork/Chapin Trunk or Treat

Saturday night we went to the Trunk or Treat at the church.  That afternoon, we drove over to Irmo to the Episcopal Church where they were selling pumpkins.  The pumpkins were raised in New Mexico on a Reservation.  2/3 of the proceeds  of the pumpkin sales is going back to the Reservation.  A man we talked to said that this is the 20th year of the pumpkin sale.  Jack picked out a HUGE pumpkin and all the gourds he needed to make his annual Pumpkin Man...then it was off to the church.

There were a zillion kids, it seemed!  All were dressed in their Halloween costumes and carried bags and buckets to hold their treats.  We had brought one bag of mini chocolate bars at Sam's to pass out, because Primary in the Chapin Branch only has about 10 kids.  Well, the Irmo Ward and the Dutch Fork Ward have plenty!  I'll bet there were close to 200 kids there!  We ran out of chocolate and had to dig into one of the jars of Laffy Taffy we had bought for the office.

Jack carefully chose one of the biggest
pumpkins for his annual Pumpin Man.

The Farmers' Market

I don't know when the Farmers' Market begins each year, but I hear it goes on into December!  The Mihlbergers invited us to go over with them Saturday morning so we could check it out.  It was a lot of fun!  With a Farmers' Market, I expected a lot of produce.  There was some...but not a ton.  A lot of it was organic, and very expensive, but we did get some nice green peppers, 3/$1 and a bag of apples for $5.  For the first time in my life, I saw how Brussels sprouts grow...on a stalk!  I had no idea!  I had never THOUGHT about it before!

We also stopped at a little stand that had a lot of Peruvian baked goods.  I first spotted alfajores, which are also from Argentina.  Very tasty little cookies made of two rounds of short-bread with dulce de leche between.  Another bakery had some blueberry scones that were to die for!  Jack bought a couple and we ate them for lunch, when we got home, with a glass of cold milk.  Mmmm

Something else I had never seen nor tasted was boiled peanuts!  Sister Mihlberger told us that she had tasted them and didn't like them at all.  Luckily, the vendor gave us each a sample...and I thought they were yummy!  We ended up buying a cup of them.

The picture with the big fire hydrant (Clifford's fire hydrant) was taken a few blocks away from the market.  The shot that appears to be taken just outside a tunnel, was really taken in a parking lot.  It's a mural on the side of a building.  Pretty cool, huh?

Just about to leave with all our loot from the market.


Who knew Brussels sprouts
grew like this?


El Poblanos with the Chapin Elders

The Elders we have over for dinner every other Sunday are the one who live in our area.  The Elders we go to church with, live over in Chapin.  Chapin is about 20 minutes away, so, to save time (missionaries are only allotted an hour for meals) we decided to take them to a restaurant.   The Relief Society President, Sister Monica Barnes, recommended El Poblanos, and we loved it!

When we got to the Elders' house, they were just pulling up on their bikes.  Now I know why their shoes are always dusty!  Elder Nisson and Elder Speck are great missionaries!  Elder Nisson is from Mesa, AZ and Elder Speck is a convert of two years from the Denver, CO area.  Elder Nisson reminds me a lot of my grandson, Justin, who is serving his mission in Paraguay.  It was fun to get to spend some time with the two, and get to know them a little better.  I forgot to take a picture, but we'll take them out again sometime, and get one then.

102 Amazing Sister Missionaries!

As a senior sister, I was invited to attend the Sisters' Conference on Tuesday.  I LOVED every minute of it!
102 of the most beautiful, confident and Christ-like young women I have ever met!

President and Sister Holm each talked to the Sisters, but the major part of this training was done by the Sisters themselves. Oh, and the APs, Elder Stodel and Elder Hatch did some role playing to point out how to keep Elder/Sister relationships from crossing the line.  I had to laugh when Elder Hatch said, as they started the role-play in front of the pulpit, "Which ever side the tissue is on..that's the Sister."  Elder Hatch also told the Sisters, "Don't cross the line.  Stay really far away from the line."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Biggest Mail Day so Far!

The mail was late today - didn't arrive until after 4:30!  And oh. my. gosh!  
Did we get mail!  35 boxes, 18 soft packages and about 240 cards and letters!
I've got a Sisters' Conference tomorrow from 10 till 4, so we brought all the 
cards and letters home to black out and alphabetize.  

Jack and I sat at the kitchen table and blacked out the postal marks - front and back -
on all those pieces of mail!  He was a huge help!  Love him!

Jack, bless his heart, sorted every piece of mail for me!  Wasn't that nice of him?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

We had a great weekend!

Shopping and Scouting
We went shopping at Ft. Jackson Saturday morning, then drove over to Chapin to check out the area.  It's a very small town - nothing like Columbia - or even Irmo.  Elder Arrington just wanted to familiarize himself with the area, since we will soon be visiting less-active families over there.  We also plan to take the Chapin Branch Elders to dinner every once in a while.

Dinner with the Sowells!
I was finally able to meet my long-time FaceBook friend, Tanya Sowell in person!  My sister, Dena, found Tanya several years ago through eBay.  Tanya paints Christmas decorations.  She especially like to paint gourds.  Most of her gourds tell her that they want to be Santas or Snowmen.  She does a beautiful job! She is self-taught.  The first Tanya Sowell ornament I got was a gift from Dena.  It's a WSU penguin painted on a light bulb.  I LOVE her light-bulb ornaments!

I LOVE this little guy!

Tanya and Will took us to dinner last night.  Their daughters, Caitlin and Rachel joined us.  We had a great time getting to know each other.  We went to Jasmine - a Chinese Buffet in northeast Columbia.  Very good food, and excellent company!  I love Tanya and her family!  They are Salt of the Earth kind of people!

Tanya and me.  After 3 years of being FaceBook friends - we finally met.  :o)

Two Chapin Branch Elders...GONE!

There were three young Elders assigned to the Branch we attend.  Two of them are now gone.  Elder Gale, after having waited for his visa for 6 weeks, is finally in Brazil.  Elder Phillips has returned home.  His 24 months of service has ended.  Elder Nisson is still with us, but he has a new companion - Elder Speck.  We are taking Elders Nisson and Speck to dinner this Thursday.  They actually live in Chapin - and since it is a good 20 minutes away, we decided to drive over there and take them out to eat.  Otherwise, we'd use 2/3 of our allotted dinner hour in travel.  :o)  I will post a pic of Elder Nisson and Elder Speck later this week.

Elder Gale's in Brazil now.  Elder Phillips has returned home.
 Elder Nisson is still in the Chapin Branch, but with a new companion.

Catch-up Day!

On Friday, we finally got the new addresses for all the missionaries in the system.  Whew!  I was more than ready to get all the mail and packages out of the office!  250 cards and letters, boxes and packages were ready for labeling - and we got them all to the post office, but not before Friday's mail came, bringing us a bunch more!  We ended up taking Friday's mail to the Post Office ourselves also - in the back of our Santa Fe.

Friday, October 18, 2013


We had a delivery come in a few days ago.  I didn't know what to do with it at the time, so I stuck it in the closet with all the copies of the Book of Mormon in foreign languages - where I had found the Pohnpeian books.  Then I forgot about them!  Today, Elder Mihlberger discovered them and asked who left them in there, sitting on the floor of the closet.  I told him it was I who left them.  I said, "I had no idea, even what language they're written in, so I left them there till someone could tell me what to do with them.  He showed me that inside the back cover of the book, it tells which language they're written in.  He said, "Tag a log."  I corrected him..."Tagalog!  That's spoken in the Philippines, where my grandson is serving!"  I knew how to pronounce Tagalog!  I was pretty proud of myself for finally knowing something that Elder Mihlberger doesn't know.  He knows "almost" everything!!!  (Feeling smug.)  Hahaha

I got the label maker, that's just like the one I use all the time at home, and made labels for each book and stacked them on a shelf in the closet.  Done!  Now we just need to order up 8 copies of the B of M in Pohnpeian, to replace the eight I gave to two missionaries last week.  :o)  Apparently, South Carolina is quite a melting pot.

Boys Will be Boys!

Sister Fenton got a phone call last week...

Elder:  Sister Fenton?
Sister Fenton:  Yes?
Elder:  Are you sitting down?
Sister F.:  I'm sitting down.  Are you okay?
Elder:  Yes, but there's a hole in the wall.  A hole the shape of my foot.
Sister F.:  Oh yeah?  How did that happen?
Elder:  We were just wrestling around on the floor.  It's our p-day.  We were wrestling and my foot just went through the wall.
Sister F.:  Well, I know the apartment director.  She's very nice.  She won't be mad.  Just go tell her what happened and that you're sorry.  Tell her to have the repair work done and you'll pay.  You'll have to pay for it, you know that, right?
Elder:  I know.  I'm sorry.  It was an accident.  It won't happen again.

Yep - Boys will be boys!  And they ARE boys!  18 and 19-year-old boys!  Gotta love 'em!


When we got to the office Friday morning, Elder Fenton met us at the door.  He said, "Before you settle in, I need you to come with me to pick up new cars for the mission."  Elder Arrington and I, Sister Barlow, and Elder and Sister Fenton all went over to Love's Chevrolet and drove 5 brand new Chevy Cruzes from the dealership over to the Irmo Chapel.  It is amazing to me - the trust that is shown to these extremely young Elders and Sisters!  Within the next few days, Elder Fenton will turn over the keys to these brand new vehicles - mine had only 6 miles on the odometer! - to 19 and 20-year-old missionaries!

As for me - it was a thrill just to drive my silver Cruze from the dealership to the church.  I hope I get to do it again next Tuesday.  We will be picking up four more care.  Not sure if the others are also Chevrolets.

At the Love Chevrolet Dealership.
I got to drive the silver Cruze - the one right in front of Elder Arrington.  :o)

Transfer Day!

Morning meeting with the new missionaries...
So, on October 16th we experienced our first Transfer Day!  What a wonderful experience!  We had to be at the Irmo church by 8:00 so we could give our presentations to the brand new Elders and Sisters.  Elder Arrington talked about finance - told the new missionaries about their credit cards and how to use them.  Money comes from their parents, through the bishops, to the general missionary fund - then each missionary is allotted $150 a month (I think) for living expenses.  This just covers food and other personal needs.  Their rent is paid automatically, and they are given a gas allowance if they are driving.

I talked to them about mail - how they should instruct their friends and families how to address mail they sent to them - using first names - REAL first names - not Stud Muffin Bailey, Skirt Chaser Hawkes, or Sissy Davis.  We have to Elder Baileys, and Hawkes and two Sister Davis's.  We have no idea which is Stud Muffin, Skirt Chaser or Sissy!  I also told them the importance of having boxes and large envelopes sent PRIORITY MAIL.  That's the only way we can forward them to the missionaries - otherwise, they sit in the office till someone goes to their area.  A package just came today marked "PERISHABLE," Open at once. Kind of sad!

Sister Fenton talked to them about their apartments and the importance of keeping them clean and orderly. That woman has taken great pains to make sure everything in those new apartments was clean and comfortable.  Not too comfortable, because they're not spending that much time in them - they need to be out working!

Elder Fenton talked about the cars - NICE cars that the church provides for the missionaries to drive.  He show some safety videos and put THE FEAR OF GOD into those young kids!  Only missionaries who have clean driving records are permitted to drive the vehicles - and only the senior companions.  We don't want them, or anyone else hurt and we want to carefully protect and maintain "the Lord's fleet."

Every 6 weeks, the missions shake things up!  The President and his APs, spend 2-3 weeks, talking together, fasting and praying about the companionships.  President Holm has a big transfer board on one wall of his office.  At the top of the board are all the zones in the mission - we now have 12 of them.  Under each zone are the districts and pictures of all 249 missionaries - each companionship in their district.  Elders names are on blue carstock, Sisters on pink, Zone Leaders and District Leaders are on red. He also has pictures of each missionary.  By the time transfer day comes, he knows just where to put each missionary, and who to put him/her with.  A couple of weeks before transfers, Sister Barlow was in President Holm's office and noticed some of the missionaries' pictures were crooked.  She started to straighten them, and he stopped her.  He said those are the ones he hasn't settled on.  He was still working through the transfer process, and hadn't quite decided where those missionaries were going, or with whom.  President also has a transfer board on a wall in his office at home.  Transfers are pretty much on his mind, day and night.  I'll bet the guy actually loses weight from all the fasting he does to get his confirmations.  But by transfer day - it's all set - and it's an exciting time!

Transfer Meeting...
At 10:00, we all met in the chapel.  President and Sister Holm - all the senior missionaries - the 25 new missionaries (15 Sisters and 10 Elders) - and all the other missionaries who had received transfer notices.

To begin, all the missionaries there (the chapel was pretty much filled to capacity) sang hymns as a prelude to the meeting.  Boy can they sing!  I LOVE it when church hymns are sung with exuberance!  As I recall, President Holm  welcomed everyone, then the opening song was an a capella solo by Sister VanRy whose 18-months was up and she was leaving the mission.  She sang "I Stand All Amazed at the Love Jesus Offers Me."  She did an absolutely beautiful job!  It was very emotional for her, as some of you might imagine.  She loved her mission, the other missionaries, the people of South Carolina, and President and Sister Holm. Leaving a mission is a bitter-sweet thing.  You want to go home, but you don't want to leave. After her opening song, one of the Sister missionaries gave the opening prayer.  Then each of the new missionaries stood at the microphone and bore a very short testimony - telling of a personal goal for their mission.  The new senior missionaries were also asked to do this.  I told them that one of my main goals was to get their mail out to them - and that got a few cheers.  :o)

Following all the new missionaries, the 9 departing missionaries bore their testimonies.  I've never seen such strength in a group of young men and one young woman.  I wrote down some of the things they said that made their missions successful:
1 - Love the people
2 - Be obedient
3 - Forget yourself
4 - Work hard
5 - Have fun (An Elder actually said, "If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong."
6 - Give God everything - hold nothing back

Sister VanRy said that when she came to the mission 18 months ago, she was one of 6 new missionaries, and the only Sister.  This transfer there were 25 new missionaries, and 15 were Sisters.  She said she felt like she had witnessed a miracle.

After all the testimonies, it was time for the actual transfer.  The President read all the assignments - companions and the areas they'd be serving.  The excitement in the room was very apparent.  When the sisters names were called, there were lots of squeals and hugs - and when the elders were paired up - there were lots of shouts, hugs, and back slaps.  Transfers took a long time.  I imagine there were 75 pairings announced!

Packin' Up and Movin' Out!
After all the assignments were made, the missionaries packed up their gear, which included suitcases (usually three each) and backpacks, and in some cases bikes.  Members from all parts of the state had driven to Irmo to transport pairs of missionaries out to their new areas.  They were all volunteers.  It was pretty cool to see - luggage and bikes packed into the backs of vans and pick-up trucks - missionaries in the front - and off they went to their new adventures!

Temple and Dinner at the Holms'...
At 5 PM, we went to the temple with President and Sister Holm, the Office Staff, the APs and the Traveling Sisters and the 9 departing missionaries.  It was thrilling to me to be there with all those wonderful young people!

After the session, Sister Holm wanted to get pictures of all the departing missionaries in front of the temple, then we went to the Mission Home for dinner.  After dinner, President Holm gathered everyone in the study.  He talked about the departing missionaries and asked the rest of us to give them some advice to take home with them.  Then we watched a video presentation of pictures of the nine while they were in the mission.  How much they had changed in 18 and 24 months!  Beautiful, strong young people!  The hope of America and the hope of the church!

We got home at 10:30 - dog tired from the activities of the past two days.  But it was an experience we will never forget!  Loved every minute of it!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Sacred Grove Experience

It has been a tradition in the SCCM since President Holm has been here, to give all the new missionaries their own Sacred Grove experience.  Elder Arrington and I, and Sister Barlow, because we are also greenies, of a sort, got to go along this time.

The new missionaries arrived Monday afternoon.  Tuesday morning, we all met at the Irmo Chapel at 6:30, then drove out to Hopkins, where the Columbia, South Carolina Temple is located.  We took the back roads, and parked along the road east of the temple.  Between the road where we got out of our cars and the temple - it was solid forest.  We walked up a steep embankment and into the trees.  Two years ago, Presient Holm and his APs had gone in and cleared an area of vines and branches in the midst of the grove of trees.  When we gathered in that area, President Holm talked about 14-year-old Joseph Smith who went into a similar grove of trees in Palmyra New York to pray and ask God which of all the churches he should join.
This would be a great place to insert this picture, which was on the wall of our room at the MTC.
I think it's my favorite painting ever of 14-year-old Joseph Smith.
He reminds me of my grandson, Jackson, who is the same age as Joseph,
when he offered that prayer, after reading James 1:5 in his family bible.
It was in that grove that Joseph had a vision of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  We sang the hymn, Joseph Smith's First Prayer together and one of the new missionaries was asked to lead us in prayer. When we finished, President Holm gave us 10-15 minutes to find a spot where we could be by ourselves to ponder and worship and pray.  My companion walked me over to a fallen tree, where I could sit to do my meditating - then he found his own private place in the grove.  I prayed - thanking God for the restoration of His gospel, for my family, and for the opportunity to come on this mission.  When I opened my eyes, I saw all those young missionaries, scattered here and there in the woods.  They appeared to be praying, or pondering, or reading their scriptures.  It was a  profoundly reverent scene.

President Holm had instructed all of us, when we were ready to leave, to walk toward the APs and the Traveling Sisters who were lined up on the other side of the forest.  They greeted each one of us, and as we came out into the clearing, President Holm was there to meet us - as was the beautiful temple - which shone in the morning sunlight.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Paying it Forward

We went to a new grocery store that my friend, Tanya recommended.  It's called Aldi, and it is a no-frills grocery store.  You pay a quarter for a cart, but when you return it, you get your quarter back.  They need to try something like that back home, and maybe they wouldn't lose so many carts!  You also have to take your own bags or pay 10 cents for a paper bag.  

When we got out of our car, someone who was leaving offered us their cart.  We started to give them our quarter, but they wouldn't take it.  They said to give it to someone else when we were finished with it.  We forgot to take bags, so we grabbed a box from produce to put our groceries in.  Aldi doesn't have everything you need, but they have some great prices.  The way the store is set up reminds me a lot of Trader Joe's.

When we finished, we gave our cart to a young couple.  They tried to pay us also, but we refused to take her quarter.  The woman said, "Are you those people who pay for the food of the next person in line at McDonalds?"  I said, "No, I wish!"  I've always thought that would be a fun thing to do.  She said, "We saw some people do that a while back and they had name tags just like  yours."   I'm wondering if it could have been the Deckers-or maybe President Holm.  At least, some of us are leaving a good impression.  :o)


I am really enjoying referrals.  I logged in last night and found four more people who had requested missionaries.  Three were Internet referrals from and one was from the Washington DC Temple Visitors' Center.   I'd be interested to know how many referrals come in each day church-wide.  You can sure tell that the work is hastening!  I love the statement that Neil L. Anderson gave in his conference talk last April, "As surely as The Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, he is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive his missionaries."

Pass-along to Rose

Jack gave a pass-along card to Rose, the mail lady, on Thursday.  It had our URLs on the back.  He said, "Y'all were asking about what we do the other day, so here's a website you can go to to read all about us."   She had a sub on Friday, so I don't know if she read our profiles or not.

Big Doin's Going on This Week!

Things have been busy at the office this past week!  We are getting ready for transfers, which will take place on Wednesday.  Five of our visa-waiters are leaving the mission on Tuesday, to go to Argentina and Brazil.  And 25 new missionaries are coming to South Carolina tomorrow.  They leave the Provo MTC at 2:30 in the morning-probably flying Jet Blue.  We will be getting four of them at our apartment so they can take a little nap before their interviews with the President begin.  They'll be back here around 9:30 to sleep, have meetings  all day Tuesday, then come back here to sleep Tuesday night.   Wednesday they have orientation (where the office staff  tells them what's what about finances, mail, cars, housing, etc.) then they meet their trainers and they're OFF to serve!

A Selfless Missionary Mother

One of our Elders lost his grandpa this weekend.  His mom called the office last week, wondering if it would be possible for her son to call and talk to his grandpa one last time before he passed away.  This is the part that really touched me:  She said that she would give up one of her phone calls for him to call his grandpa.  The young missionaries are only allowed to call home on Christmas and Mothers' Day.  I thought that was such a sweet and selfless thing for her to do.  She also said that she would respect whatever decision President Holm made.  She didn't want to disrupt her son's focus.  I have no idea what decision was made, but I know her son is a great missionary and his grandpa would be proud of him.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

As of October 9, 2013, I OWN Referrals!

When President Holm wants someone to take charge of something, he asks them to "own" it.  As of yesterday, I OWN referrals.  I spent about 30 minutes with Elder Mihlberger today, and he taught me how to assign referrals.  As referrals come inform Salt Lake City, they are sent right to our mission.  I now have access to our user name and password and can get to the list of referrals even on my iPad.  In the list, there is the person's name and address and phone number.  It also tells what kind of referral it is, and there is a space for comments.  It looks like about 60% of the referrals are from the Internet.  Lots are missionary visits, some are member referrals and Visitors' Center referrals.  I've yet to see a Gladys Knight referral.  :o)   From the person's address, we can find what ward or branch he/she would be assigned to and what missionaries are assigned to that ward or branch.  When we're finished figuring out wards and missionaries, we click on finish and a text message is sent to the missionaries so they can call the person to set up an appointment.  I've heard that from the time a person requests a visit, via the internet, until the time .a pair of missionaries shows up at their door, cans be as little as 30 minutes!

On the Road Again!

Jack got to go up to the northwest part of the state yesterday to set up two new apartments.   He is the designated truck driver, and he loves it!  For one gets him out of the office - a nice change once in a while.  Sister Barlow and I were in the office alone all day long!  Not even President Holm or the APs dropped by.  But we got a lot done, and I had access to THREE computers.  I don't have one at the front desk, and always have to wait until someone isn't using theirs so I can make labels.  The movers will be gone for part of the morning tomorrow.  It will NOT be like Wednesday, when Jack was gone from 8 AM till 10 PM!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another Small Miracle

One of the visa waiters in our mission has been here for several months.  He has grown to love South Carolina as he has labored here, waiting for his visa to go to Brazil.  He's been here for several transfers.  In the transfer just before Mothers' Day, he was sent up to Greenville.  When he called home to talk to his family on Mothers' Day, he mentioned to his little adopted brother that he was now up in Greenville.  The little 10-year-old brother said, "Where did you say you are?"  "Greenville, South Carolina."  His little brother told him, "That's where my big sister is!"  The elder was able to find the big sister, meet her and teach her the gospel.  :o)

Senior Training Meeting

Yesterday afternoon we close the office at 1:30 so we could go to Senior Training Meeting.  Most of the meeting was getting to know one another.  Aside from the 3 couples and 1 sister in the office, the rest of the couples are pretty much out on their own - all over the mission.  One couple, the Calders, are in Mrytle Beach and had just over a 3-hour-drive to get to the meetings.  They are from Canada - British Columbia.

One couple, the Schallers are from Stillwater OK.  They are in an Edmund Stake - don't know if it's the same one as Danny and Dalena.

The Wichmanns have only been married for two years.  His first wife died, and her husband, after they had been married for 30 years,  left the church, her, and their five children.  She's from Uruguay, and has the coolest accent.  The Wichmanns met online.  :o)  Sister Wichmann has been very instrumental getting Spanish Branches going in their area in SC and getting less active members coming to church again.

The Boyaks are from St. George, and have known President and Sister Holm for a long time.  Sister Boyak told the cutest story.  I'm not sure where she was, but she was helping some little black children get ready for something at the church.  One little guy was 12 years old, and a deacon.  His clothes weren't straight and his hair wasn't combed, and she was telling him how important it was for him to look the part of a deacon.  She was fussing with him for several minutes when his friend asked, "Is SHE your grandma?"  She said the little kids were very black and she is very white.  It made her laugh to hear the question.  She said, "Apparently, the kids are color-blind - which is a good thing!"

I mentioned on FaceBook about the Polands, working with a chaplain at a hospital in Sumter.  He is a Baptist Minister, but he told them he can say anything he wants and do anything he wants as a hospital chaplain.  I guess he is a big fan of the Book of Mormon.  Although he's not ready to be baptized, he loves the book, and accepts it for what it is...another testament of Jesus Christ - a companion to the Holy Bible. He says he loves reading it because it makes him feel good inside - and that's what he wants for the patients there.  I love it when people are willing to just outside the box and look for and accept good things no matter where they come from.  The whole scenario reminded me of when Danny and his companion introduced the Book of Mormon to a congregation of Episcopalians in Moscow Russia.  They also loved the book and used it in their weekly services.  :o)

Sister Barlow is the mother of 9 children and has been widowed for many years.  She was honored as American Mother of the year in 2007.  She's from Corvallis, OR where she was director of their annual Nativity Display for 5 years.  She is such a wonderful and capable woman!

The Fentons were both widowed.  She was single for 5 years, and he for 13 years.  I'm not sure how long they've been married - but they are a great couple!  They have two of the hardest jobs in the office, in my opinion - he's vehicle coordinator and she's over housing.  But they are doing an amazing job!  Love the Fentons!

Jack has known Elder Brenchly for years.  They were in the National Guard together in Utah for a long time - in the early years.  The Brenchlys are serving at Ft. Jackson.

The Milbergers and theWichmanns are going home soon - the end of November and the first part of December.  President Holm asked them to bear their testimonies at the close of the evening.  I am really going to miss the Mihlbergers.  I've only known them for 3 weeks, but I love them!  Sister Mihlberger bore such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon.  She's been studying it every morning for an hour and she says she looks forward to waking up every morning, so she can get into it again.  Elder Mihlberger said when he first came to the mission, President Holm talked to the senior missionaries and told them they needed to become one.  He said, "I didn't want to be one with the rest of the senior missionaries.  I didn't want to be old."  He laughed, and admitted that he looks older than anyone there (which he doesn't), but he feels young inside and he IS one with all of us.  Tears glistened on his cheek as he bore his testimony of the gospel and told us how he was going to miss us and the mission.

Monday, October 7, 2013

We Got Mail!!!

Today was the biggest mail day yet!  There were probably 25 boxes and large envelopes and about 100 cards and letters!  Elder Mihlberger (the label fairy) made the labels for the boxes, so we could get them off the couch and stacked up to go out in tomorrow's mail.  I'll make the labels for the cards and letters.  That's a lot of mail!!!

September 30 - October 6, 2013

This past week flew by!  Highlights of the week were the Leadership Training Meetings, The Elders' sleep-over, General Conference, and church services at Fort Jackson.  Oh - and a trip to The Shed.  :o)

I'll start with The Shed, because it's a small, but not insignificant thing.  Transfers are a time when missionaries leave to go home, when new missionaries come, and when many of the missionaries are transferred from one part of mission to another.  We have a transfer coming up on October 16th.  We are sending 9 missionaries home and getting 28 new ones.  Sister Fenton, who is in charge of housing, has been responsible for arranging for 9 new apartments all over the mission.  This is not an easy task!  She has to travel a lot to check out apartments and find ones that are suitable, but at a reasonable cost.  Many landlords will not rent to us because President Holm refuses to give out the missionaries' Social Security Numbers so they can do background checks.  We have great references from landlords all over the state, but some still insist on background checks - and that's their prerogative.  Once the apartments are procured, they have to be cleaned and set up with furniture and household goods.  The Shed holds the household goods.  I went to The Shed this week with Sister Mihlberger.  As she started to lift up the door to The Shed, she said, "There's a little lizard who sometimes runs out from under the door, so don't be alarmed."  :o)  He wasn't there that day, so I didn't get to meet him.  Inside The Shed are utility shelves filled with dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils, carbon monoxide detectors, dish racks, toilet bowl brushes, shower curtains, etc. - all manner of things that one would need to see up housekeeping.  The Shed is fairly orderly, and we were able to gather what we needed quickly and get back to the office.  It was interesting to me - just one more facet of what it takes to run a mission.  If you ever wonder what happens to your tithing's one place,it's used.

During the two days of Leadership Training Meetings, which were held at the church building we go to on Sundays, it was pretty quiet around the office.  The President wasn't in for two days, nor were the traveling sisters or the APs.  But when the training ended on Thursday - the office was flooded with Elders and Sisters!  They came in to get media orders, to see if there were any packages or letters for them in the day's mail and just to say hello.  I'll bet there were 20 missionaries in the front office at one point that afternoon!

The Training Meetings were held on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday night, around 9:30, 4 Elders showed up at our door.  They had come to spend the night with us.  We had 3 roll-away beds for them. The fourth one slept on the couch.  I had made tortillas that night, so we made a bunch of quesadillas for the Elders - as a bedtime snack.  I think we made 20 of them, and they wiped out all but two.  It was fun having them over - we got to visit with them for a few minutes as they ate.  We retired to our bedroom just after 10:00, and by 10:30 - there was silence in the apartment.

Elder Arrington made pancakes for breakfast, and used up a whole box of Hungry Jack pancake mix.  I got a cute picture of the four Elders before they left - just before 9:00 AM.
           I don't have names for these Elders - I'll have to check at the office and try to figure out who they are.            
 I know their areas are up in the northern part of the state, and that it took them 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get to Columbia.
General Conference was wonderful - again!  It seems that I felt this time, more than every before, that the Lord is speaking to us through his servants, the prophets.  (Amos 3:7)  The things we heard in conference are things that He wants us to know RIGHT NOW!  I loved conference!  We went over to the Irmo Chapel, where we attend on Sunday, and watched both Saturday sessions.  Saturday night, while the men went to Priesthood Meeting, the Senior Sisters went to Carabbas for dinner.  It was delicious!  I'm sure we'll be going back - it's almost right across the street from our apartment complex.  I had Pollo Rosa Maria.  I thought I'd be all fancy and pronounce the double "l" as a "y."  Oops!  That's in Spanish - but not in Italian. So much for fancy!  :o/

Sunday morning, we drove to Fort Jackson for church services.  We met in Anderson Chapel.  The time for our church is 9:30 till 11:00 - then a Protestant group moves in.  There was a large group of soldiers there - we estimated about 150 - way more people there than we have at the Chapin Branch for services. About 2/3 of them were young men.  The APs said that about half the people there each week are baptized members. They other half are either investigators or soldiers who just come with their buddies to have something to do.

Servies began right at 9:30 - but before the meeting started, the Branch President went to the lectern an announced all the college football scores from Saturday night.  :o)  Sacrament Meeting was pretty much like any Sacrament Meeting, but before the blessing and passing of the sacrament, the Branch President read a little spiel about what the sacrament means in our church - the bread and water are eaten and drunk in remembrance of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ - who was crucified and atoned for our sins.  Then the President invited everyone who would like to partake of the sacrament, member or non-member, to do so.

After the sacrament, since it was the first Sunday of the month, the meeting was opened up for testimonies.
All but two soldiers who bore their testimonies were young men.  Of the two women, one was a new member - just baptized last Sunday at the base.  I loved hearing the testimonies of those young soldiers! Many of them spoke of how their religion and especially prayer are now such an important part of their lives! There are some strong young men and women at the Fort!

After Sacrament Meeting, there were two baptisms.  Two young soldiers - one male and one female - were baptized in a portable font on the front lawn of the chapel.  A darling little blond woman named Katie - and a beautiful young black man who had a name I can't remember or couldn't spell if I did remember.  Elder Fenton conducted the baptism - short and simple.  I loved the outdoor setting.  We all gathered around the font (there were only about 15 of us who had come out for the baptism).  The birds were singing and the sun shone brightly.  It was a beautiful thing!.

Sister Fenton took pictures of the two baptismal candidates and the Elder who baptized them.  If I can get her to send me a copy - I'll post it.  They were just two beautiful young people!

Back in the church, the soldiers divided into groups.  Relief Society met in a room down the hall and then the rest of the soldiers met in different areas of the chapel (the sanctuary).  We sat right-front where there was a group of investigators being  taught by one of the traveling Sisters.  Other missionaries were scattered throughout the room teaching and answering questions.  In the back-left of the chapel, a larger group gathered for Priesthood Meeting.  At the front of the chapel - soldiers who wanted Priesthood blessings were getting them on either side of the podium.  The service following Sacrament Meeting was pretty much organized chaos - but it was thoughtful - and it was reverent.  It was very different than any meeting I've ever attended.

Tonight - after the last session of conference - we had four Elders and the Fentons over for dinner.  I got a recipe from my friend, Tanya, for a yummy pork chop casserole.  It was delicious!  I think everyone enjoyed it immensely!  We had biscuits, peas, salad and for dessert - Grandma Arrington's yogurt pie.

Left to right - our dinner guests.
Elder and Sister Fenton, Elder Billeter, Elder Stadel, Elder Brimhall, and Elder Loos.