Friday, November 29, 2013

I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends!

Sister Creager and Sister Garlic stopped by this afternoon to work on a project in the office.  As they were leaving, they said (as missionaries always do), "Is there anything we can help you with, Sister Arrington?"  Well, as a matter of fact, there was!  I was up to my neck in mail!  They logged in all the boxes and packages that came in today's mail for me.  I was so appreciative!!!
Sister Creager (Morgan) and Sister Garlic (Centerville)
Aren't they the cutest?  And just as sweet as pie - but stronger than you could ever imagine!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

More Pics in Union, SC

Veterans' Park is only a few blocks away from the Sisters' home.  Beautiful park!!!

This is the Union Branch Chapel.  It's very small!  It's on a lovely piece of land which was donated by a member.  The sisters said that only about 20 people attend, regularly.  There's enough land that they'll be able to build a full sized chapel when membership grows enough to warrant a bigger one.  :o)  Lots of work to do in Union!

A Stop in Union

We decided to stop in Union on the way home from Spartanburg to deliver some things to Sister Emily Rogers and her companion.  We dropped off a case of copies of the Book of Mormon they had ordered, and Sister Rogers' name tag had come in, as well as three packages from her family.  She was excited to get everything!  Such a darling pair of missionaries!

Sisters Shauerhamer and Rogers

With Sister Rogers - November 29th is her hump-day!

Thanksgiving in Spartanburg

Jack and I have been trying to find a service project to do on Thanksgiving Day.  We thought it would be fun to feed dinner to the homeless.  But...we found that all the slots to help had been filled weeks ago.  We thought maybe we'd go to one church and help fill boxes to be taken to shut-ins, but then we thought of another idea.  Sister Fenton had mentioned a week or so ago that the missionaries in the NW part of the state don't get many dinner invitations.  Most members in the area have very little to give.  So, we wondered if any of the missionaries had not been invited for Thanksgiving dinner.  We asked Elder Stadel to send out a text to see if all the missionaries had been taken care of.  Two sets of elders had not.  One pair was in the NW, but one pair was over in Camden.  We were kind of surprised about that.  However, I have a friend who is a wonderful cook, and a very generous person, who lives over there.  So I sent off a text and voila! Thanksgiving dinner for the Camden elders!  Thanks to my good friend (who Dena found first), Tanya Sowell and her husband Will!

With Elders Fastle and Cutler at Cracker Barrel on Thanksgiving Day, 2013
Elder Fastle has only been in the mission for three days!  Both are from Albuquerque, NM.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I LOVE Transfers!!!  We met at 7 AM for a light breakfast, had a training meeting with the new missionaries until 9 AM, then went into the chapel for the transfer meeting.  President Holm spoke for a few minutes, then had all the departing missionaries bear their testimonies.  Sister Kaitlin Anderson sang a beautiful solo of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, accompanied by Sister Mumford.  Then each of the new missionaries introduced themselves and told one of their personal goals for their mission.

Then it was the announcement of the transfers.  President Holm has told us before about all the prayer and fasting that goes into making area and companion assignments.  I love when he announces the new companionships!  The Elders and Sisters who have been in the mission, and know other missionaries, are so excited when their new companions are announced!  We seniors just sit back and enjoy.  For me, it's a little like Christmas!

What are Neighbors For?

Elder Brimhall and Elder McKell stopped by to borrow my iron this morning.  The 6 departing elders stayed the night at Fenton's old apartment and had NOTHING there.  Actually they borrowed an iron AND ironing board and I had to get one final picture of the two of them.  I didn't get to know Elder McKell, but I loved his humble testimony at the President's home on Sunday night.
Elders Brimhall and McKell - two great elders of the SCCM

Another Over-Nighter

We were blessed to have three of the new sisters stay with us on Monday night.  They were tired!  They had been up since 2:30 AM to shuttle up to the SLC Airport to fly out to Columbia!  Sister Lunt is from TX, Sister McKee, from SLC and Sister Jensen from Ferrin, UT.
Up early the next morning and ready to go to the transfer meeting!  

Temple Session with the Dearly Departing

The President and workers at the Columbia Temple were gracious enough to open the temple on Monday morning, so the departing missionaries could attend an endowment session.  The office staff and two other senior couples who live fairly close were invited to be there.  Here's a photo of all the Dearly Departings.  :o)
We are going to miss the Mihlbergers!  

Sunday Night Dinner with the Dearly Departing

We are so blessed to work in the office!  The office staff gets invited to many of the functions at the Mission Home.  Sunday night was a special dinner and testimony meeting in honor of the departing elders and sisters. There is also a slide show of all the departing missionaries, which is put to music.  They are each given a copy to take home.  Thanks to Sister Barlow for sharing the pictures she took that night.

All the departing missionaries - three Sisters, the Mihlbergers and the Elders...

A closer shot of the Mihlbergers and the Elders...

Me? A Relief Society Teacher? Yikes!!!

Sister Duvall asked me a few weeks ago if I would teach a 4th Sunday lesson in Relief Society.  I was to use the October 2013 Conference talk by Elder Bednar, "The Windows of Heaven."  I told her I would if I could pretend the sisters were 4-year-olds, because that's what I'm used to teaching.

All my life, I've experienced material blessings from paying my tithing, and I've heard a zillion stories about how others have been blessed by giving 10% of their income back to the Lord.  But I have to admit that I haven't thought too much about the spiritual blessings that come from paying an honest tithe - until I gave the RS lesson.  There are SO many blessings!  I would never not want to pay my tithing!

Years ago, I went visiting teaching to a young mother who said to me, "I wish I could afford the luxury of being able to paying tithing."  I thought to myself, "How could you afford NOT to pay it?"  I should have taken more time to respond to her question.  Unfortunately, I didn't.

In Elder Bednar's talk, he mentions so many spiritual blessings that come from paying tithing.  I wrote them all on the board.  These spiritual blessings include,  gratitude, enhanced discernment, greater personal determination, capacity to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have, greater capacity to change our own circumstances, assurance, peace, faith and hope, courage, physical and mental stamina, enlarged perspective and increased patience, grace, conviction, confidence, and increased resolve and resilience  After I wrote them on the board, I drew a raindrop around them, and a big cloud overheard.  Then I used the analogy Justin Barber suggested when he said that only TWO times in all of the scriptures, did Heavenly Father use the phrase, "open the windows  of heaven..."  when he talked about the blessings of paying an honest tithe (Malachi 3:10), and when he flooded the earth in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:11).  Just think of that implication!!!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

New neighbor - New Contact!

When we got home tonight, a couple of men were in the wooded area behind our apartment, smoking and walking a beautiful big dog.  I called out to them and told them we had been saving bones in our freezer, and asked if their dog could have them.  We used to give bones to "Little Dog," who lived in the front apartment, but he moved away.  We've continued to save the bones, in hopes we'd meet another dog.

The men came over and talked with us.  The younger one's name was John, and his father was with him - also named John.  Of course, Jack's real name is John too, so they all have that in common.  They had moved here from Palmyra NY.  We told them we had just been there in June on a church history tour.

"Oh!  Then, you're Mormons!"  They said that they weren't Mormon, but they had been to the Palmyra Pageant several times and loved it.  The younger one couldn't figure out why we hadn't seen it.  "You're Mormon, and you were right there, and you didn't see it???"  His father reminded him that it is only a two-week performance and that is in July.  We were there too early to see it.

Very, very nice gentlemen.  The dog's name is Apollo.  The wife of the younger man was upstairs.  We hope to meet her soon.  :o)  And now, it's 1:02 AM and I am going to bed!  Good thing church isn't till 11:00. Zzzzzzzzzzz

Dinner with Elder Brimhall

We took Elder Brimhall and his companion to Texas Roadhouse tonight. Elder Brimhall is leaving the mission on Tuesday.  He was the AP when we first came out, and he has been invaluable in the office.  He is a computer whiz, and helped us with so many things!  It was the Mihlbergers' idea, but we ended up treating them too, because they, also, are returning home next Wednesday.
  Elder Brimhall downed a 12 oz. prime rib and Elder Loos a 12 oz. rib-eye steak in one sitting!
 That and close to a dozen rolls apiece!  Hope they're not sick tomorrow!

Charleston with the Sisters!

What a fun trip we had on Friday!  We took the big van, loaded with furnishings for a new apartment we're opening up on James Island - near Charleston.  Sister Fenton, housing coordinator, drove.  Her husband made her drive it around a bit before we left, so she could get a feel for driving something that big.  :o)  Sister Barlow, Sister Mihlberger and I were passengers.  We had a wonderful, two-hour visit on the way down and back.  We stopped at the Sisters' old apartment and loaded up some of their belongings.  Then we went to lunch.  :o)

This surfboard has been in the apartment since 1993!
I think every missionary who ever lived there has signed it.  :o)

When we got to the Charleston Crab House, we asked a guy to take our pictures in front of the sign.  Sister Mihlberger said, "Make sure you get the sign in the picture - that's more important than getting us in there!" Well, he totally MISSED the sign - so Sister Barlow combined the two pics and here we are - in front of the up-side-down sign.  We asked our server about it, and she told us that a couple of years ago, the show "Flip That House" did a restaurant flip at their place, and somehow, the sign was flipped too - and they decided to leave it that way.  :o) 

This was the view out of the window by our table.  I had fish tacos, which were delightful!
We also had some fried green tomatoes and hush puppies and grilled summer vegetables.  All delicious!

I got a shot of the inside of the Crab House as Ssiter Mihlberger was leaving.

After we ate, we met the Sisters at their new apartment.and helped them haul their things upstairs. The new apartment will be nice - when it's finished!  The landlord (a member) still had to put another coat of paint on the woodwork and cupboards, and the toilet had malfunctioned, so he had called a plumber to come and fix that.  When everything's done - it will be very comfortable.
The road down to the new apartment was lined with trees - nice little neighborhood!
Here's a shot of some Spanish moss that hangs in the trees all over the area.

We drove down to the waterfront.  it is lined with mulit-million-dollar homes.  Just magnificent!  Notice the trimmed ivy that grows along the fronts of the steps up to the house.  And that cat!  Sitting like a statue, placed there for photographic interest.  :o)  Wish I hadn't cropped off the top of the palm tree, but oh well.
Here's a picture of the harbor, taken out the van window.
A row of painted houses, also on the waterfront, going north (I think).

A cobblestone rode in the waterfront area of Charleston
Another mansion on the waterfront...

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

Small World!!!

Sister Barlow is from Corvallis, OR.  I had told her weeks ago, that I have a nephew who lives there, who is an anesthesiologist.  She said the name Grose sounded familiar but she couldn't place him.  Well, Thursday, I was showing her a picture of Dale's family, which included the nephew who lived in Corvallis.  Sister B. asked where the rest of the family was from and I told her Eugene.  Then I remembered that Scott had lived in Corvallis.  When I told her his name - she knew just who he was, and where he lived!  Her daughter's friend lived right next door to Scott and Amber when they were up there.  I, of course, had to shoot Scott a text and ask him if he remembered the Barlows from Corvallis.  He said, "Yes - big family - 10 kids - the dad had cancer and died while we lived in the ward."  Yep!  That's our Sister Barlow!
Ileen Barlow - Travel Coordinator  

A Hit and a Miss

Thursday ngith we drove back to Chapin to try to find the Ss at home.  They didn't live as far off the main road as the folks the night before - but the husband and wife were not at home.  We stood on the front porch and visited with their 22 year old son for a few minutes.  We found out that he works and goes to school, studying accounting.  What a coincidence!  Jack is a CPA!  He invited us to come back when his parents were home, and gave us his mom's cell phone number.  He was very accommodating.

As we pulled away from their house, we felt a loud THUD on the roof of the Santa Fe.  It sounded almost like someone had thrown a baseball at us.  When we got home, we checked, and there was no sign of damage to the vehicle.  I have no clue what that thud was!

Another Chapin Visit

Wednesday night we drove over to Chapin again to visit a less active/non-member family...the Js.  They live way out on a peninsula, right next to Lake Murray, which is the largest man-made lake in the country.  It is approximately 50,000 acres in size and has roughly 500 miles of shoreline.  It is beautiful over there - especially in the daylight.  We went at night, and it is a little intimidating - especially when your GPS leads you off the paved roads, down dirt roads, right in the middle of the woods.  "You have reached your destination."  What?  We stopped, and Jack went to the nearest house and knocked on the door.  A man answered and Jack asked him if he knew where the Js lived.  The guys said, "They live next door.  Where you from?"  Jack told him that we were from Utah and just out to visit a member of our church.  The guys said, "I wish you the best of luck."

Hmmm.  I have to admit - I was a little apprehensive.  To get to the house next door, we had to drive through the other guy's fence, and sure enough - there was a BIG log house on the other side.  We both got out and went to the door, in the dark.  A big dog sauntered up to the door inside the house.  When we knocked, he started to bark.  A bearded man followed the dog, and he was followed by a woman wearing a skirt.  They welcomed us in and our fears were dispelled.  Their dog is a she, and her name is Molly.  They also have a cat (didn't get the name) and a cute little blond-haired, three-year-old grandson.  Brother J, who is the non-member, had been tending the little grandson, and Sister J had just gotten home from visiting teaching.  They were not scary at all!  We had a great visit with them - for almost an hour!  We found out that they both work at South Carolina Mental Health.  They have two sons, and have lived in SC for over 10 years.  They invited us to come back again, and we invited them to come to the Festival of the Nativity on December 6th.  We both felt really good about the visit.  As we left their home and went back out along the dirt road, a deer ran out from behind the trees and crossed in front of us.  

Family Home Evening at the Mihlbergers'

Several weeks ago, at an office meeting with the President, he suggested we all have a FHE together and he and Sister Holm would come.  So, we women got together, in a closed door meeting, and planned a dinner.  Sister Fenton made a yummy Asian pork loin.  I made Ann's rice,cooked in chicken broth, Sister Barlow made a beautiful green salad, and Sister Mihlberger made her wonderful dill rolls and a dessert.

After dinner, we each talked about something that spoke to us from the Bednar the night before.  We had a wonderful time together.

The Holms, the Mihlbergers, the Fentons (not looking) and us.
 Sister Barlow put her camera on a timer, then didn't get herself into the picture.  :o/

Elder Bednar at Fort Jackson

We didn't have the opportunity to hear Elder Bednar's talk to the soldiers at Ft. Jackson, but we heard about it.  The Fentons were there, because they're assign to attend church at the fort - and President and Sister Holm were there.

They told us that a mother of one of the soldiers, when she heard Elder Bednar was going to speak on Sunday, contacted him and asked him to find her son and give him a message from her - that she loved him.  Elder Bednar said that his first thought was to ask, at the beginning of the meeting if that soldier was in attendance, and have him come forward, but, he said, he was constrained by the Spirit, that he shouldn't do that.  So, he launched into his talk, which was mainly geared to the non-members and to the head of the Fort chaplains.  His talk was very simple and direct.  We are Christians, because we are the church of Jesus Christ.  We are His church in the latter-days, the same as those who were members of His church when he was upon the earth.  His church, in the latter-days, is organized exactly like the original church that He established when he lived and preached in the Holy Lands.  We believe in baptism, by immersion, we take the holy sacrament, in remembrance of His body and His blood.  We have apostles and prophets, pastors (bishops), teachers, evangelists (missionaries), etc.Sister Fenton said that he laid everything out there, with no apologies.

After the meeting was over, Elder Bednar wanted to meet with each of the soldiers and shake their hands.  He told President Holm that in the midst of shaking hands, the Spirit alerted him that one of the next four soldiers in line was the one whose mother had contacted him.  He watched for the names on the uniforms.  That soldier was the last of the four, and Elder Bednar called him by name.  The soldier was surprised that he had been singled out.  Elder Bednar told him that he had a message for him from his mother.  "She said to tell you that she loves you," he told him.  It was a special experience for Elder Bednar and for the young soldier.

After he finished shaking hands and was heading for President Holm's car, one of the soldiers came back and said, "Thank you for coming here.  I really needed that."  Elder Bednar put his arms around the soldier and they embraced for several minutes - the soldier sobbed openly.  I'm sure it is something he will not soon forget.

Nuggets from the Evening with Elder Bednar

  • Invite people to act, rather than treat them as objects to be acted upon.
  • Get to know the people, and help them to realize that we are here to help them.
  • Apply the scriptures to yourself and the people you teach.
  • Get out of the way and let the Spirit teach and bear witness to those you teach.
  • The Holy Ghost is the teacher - we are the guides.
  • Teach as Jesus taught - one by one.
  • Ask in faith, with an expectation to act.
  • Get up and go to work!
  • Faith can grow.  
  • As a conduit of the light, we have to be pure - not perfect, but working on it.
  • Start talking, even though you don't always know just what you're going to say.
  • Study the scriptures with people and ask them what they've learned.
  • Jump out of the boat - keep your eyes on the Savior.
  • Don't mess things up with a scripted presentation.
  • Let yourself be exposed and vulnerable.
  • Don't worry about what you're doing or how you look.
  • God will never leave you alone.  He won't leave you hanging, but he will allow you to struggle.
  • Do not dwell on past failures.  "That's enough regret!"  Look forward and do things differently.
  • Observe, listen and discern and you'll know what to say.  
  • Be quiet and let the Holy Ghost do the teaching.
  • Putting off the natural man means to stop doing bad stuff.  Start doing more and more good stuff.
  • Baptism and temple covenants are essential to returning to Christ.
  • Based upon what I have observed, felt and learned tonight - what will I do?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Elder Bednar

The whole evening with Elder Bednar was perfect!  We arrived at the church at 4 PM.  The APs brought all the boxes and packages that we'd had been holding for delivery to the missionaries.  They also brought lots of media orders that had been clogging up the back room.  Everyone went through those and took what belonged to them to their cars.  At 5:00, everyone gathered in the chapel and President Holm talked to us.  He and Sister Holm then left for the airport to pick up Elder Bednar.  Before he left, however, he introduced us to the missionary who had baptized him as a young 17-year-old, in St. George UT, and he bore his testimony to all of us.
President Holm's two counselors were in charge of gathering everyone for pictures.  Everything was planned precisely.  There would be a row in front, sitting; a row behind them, kneeling;  next row, sitting;  next row standing;  next row standing on small chairs; next row sitting on the stage; kneeling on the stage and finally standing on the stage.  Whew!  Once we got into place (with chairs saved for Elder Bednar, the Holms and the traveling sisters), we just stayed there.  Someone started singing hymns.  Most of them sounded good, but one was so bad it hurt my ears!  Two different groups started at once, and neither of them was willing to blend with the other, and they clashed like heck!  Ouch!
Soon, a hush came over the room.  They had arrived.  They took their seats and the photographer snapped three shots, and we were done.  Everyone filed into the chapel, took their seats, and the meeting began.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sister Rogers - a little bit of home!

Sister Rogers and her companion rode down with the Larsens to go to the temple last week.  They stopped at the office to pick up a microwave for their apartment.  I couldn't let them drive away without getting a quick picture to send to her mom.  Sister Rogers is from Farr West, and used to be in Sounds of Time.  She was also one of Becky's vocal students.  :o)

I love having Sister Rogers in our mission!  She's a little bit of home to me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Temple Trip with Chapin Elders

President Holm told the young missionaries that they could go to the Temple once before Christmas. Missionaries don't ordinarily go to the temple, because their primary work is for the living and not the dead. Exceptions to that rule are at the end of their missions, they get to go together as a departing group, along with President and Sister Holm, the office staff, the APs and the "Traveling Sisters," and during their missions if they are going with converts they have taught, who are going to the temple.

However, since the new audio/visual presentation was released July 30th of this year, President wanted to give them all the chance to see it.  We got to take the two Elders who are assigned to our Branch today. About half of those in attendance were missionaries.  It was wonderful to see them there.
Elder Speck and Elder Nisson

Monday, November 11, 2013

We Make Do!

I cooked a lot of rice yesterday!  We had rice cakes this morning, but tonight I made chicken stir fry and needed hot, steamed rice.  At home, I put my refrigerated rice in a double boiler/steamer and steam it on the stove. No steamer here, so I got a glass casserole dish out of the cupboard, filled it half-way with water, put my colander inside and put my rice in that.  The blue lid from my plastic bowl set covered the rice.  After 5 minutes in the microwave - voila!  Hot, steamed rice!  It was delicious!  :o)

My make-shift steamer.  :o)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How many people does it take to run an office?

At a High Priests' Banquet last night at the West Columbia Stake Center, we were seated with Sister Barlow, to other couples and a single sister.  When we introduced ourselves as office missionaries, one of the sisters asked, "It takes three of you to run the office?"  It was a great question - but to us, it seemed incredulous.  We three are actually only part of the office staff!  There are two other couples that weren't at our table.

The Mihlbergers leave for home (St. George, UT) in just over two weeks.  They have been our go-to people, since they have been in the office longer than any of us.  Then the staff will number five.  Here's just some of what we do...

Elder Arrington:  pays bills, puts money on the missionaries' MLS cards (that's the money they have to live on each month), records baptisms, orders and sets up cell phones for missionaries, orders media and office supplies, orders copies of the Book of Mormon (mostly in English, but also in other languages - we've had requests for Spanish, Chinese, French, and Pohnpeian in the two months we've been there).

Sister Arrington (that's me):  answers phone and directs phone calls, handles all incoming and outgoing mail, takes and fills media orders, takes and faxes and receives and sends name-tag orders, puts together Harvester (the mission monthly newsletter) and send out Harvester.

Sister Barlow:  handles all travel for missionaries.  Every six weeks, we have an average of 22 missionaries come new to the mission, and an average of 8 missionaries go home, because their time of service has expired.  Sister Barlow also puts together all of the mailings to send to the new missionaries and all of the papers to send home with the departing missionaries.

Sister Fenton:  handles housing for all the missionaries.  Since the surge began, a year ago, we've had more and more missionaries come into the mission.  Last transfer, Sister Fenton had to procure and set up NINE new apartments/houses throughout the mission.

Elder Fenton:  handles everything to do with CARS.  He picks up new cars, sells old cars, trains missionaires in care and operation of fleet, pays for car repairs and maintenance.

Elder and Sister Mihlberger have pretty much taught us all they knew.  We have their phone numbers handy in case we have to call them with questions after they leave.

We, the Mission Office Staff, try to keep everything running in an orderly fashion so that President Holm can concentrate 100% of his time with the young missionaries, who are serving in every part of the state.  He is a wonderful man and mission president.  I think I can safely say that he has the profound love and respect of every one of the almost 250 Elders and Sisters in the South Carolina, Columbia Mission.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Mystery We HAD to Solve!

While going through the mail this week, I came upon this letter, obviously written by a young child.  We have no Elder Noll in our mission.  I thought maybe the name was misspelled.  Elders Brimhall and Loos were in the office, so I asked them if they knew who it could be.  Nope.  We HAD to figure it out!  Just check out this letter!
Not sure what is under all the white-out!  :o)
 But look at the back of the letter!  We just HAD to find it's intended recipient!!!
Isn't that just heart rending!?!

It suddenly occurred to me that Elder Noll might be in the Georgia Macon Mission - a mission that was broken off  the South Carolina, Columbia Mission less than a year ago.  I checked out their roster, and sure enough!  There was Elder Noll.  We stuck a Georgia Macon label on it, and off it went.  Hopefully it will get to the lucky Elder before Christmas!

A Visit from Jimmy John!

While the office was full of missionaries, waiting for personal interviews, a representative from Jimmy John's stopped by with sample sandwiches for everyone.  They were small - but very tasty!  When Presiden Holm came out of his office, we gave him his sandwich and he told us that he was a friend of the company's founder, Jimmy John Liautaud.

"Jimmy John," Elder Hatch and Elder Stadel

Help with the Mail!

President Holm took the opportunity to interview all his missionaries as he traveled around the state with the No More Strangers Firesides.  Thursday he was at the office with the Elders and Sisters who are in our area. Whenever missionaries are in the office, they are always anxious to be of help.  I was behind in labeling, so a couple of Elders volunteered their services.  :o)

Elder Hutchinson and Elder Speck helped me label cards and letters.
 Elder Speck is one of the Chapin Branch Elders.

Elder Arrington - Cotton Picker

Monday, the Fentons had to drive up north of here and set up an apartment.  When they got back, Sister Fenton was raving about the beautiful cotton fields they saw.  When we told her that we had never seen a cotton field, she decided that we needed a little field trip.  We closed the office at 4:30 and two car-loads of us drove  over to Congaree - a different, but closer area that had cotton fields.

The fields we saw had recently frozen, and had turned brown, but when we drove up to one, it was being harvested - so we parked and walked out to watch.  Two huge combines were combing the field in strips - picking cotton and hauling it back to a huge baler.  Once the cotton bolls were dumped into the baler, a couple of tampers went over the top of it - pressing it down and compacting it.  Then the combine dumped more on top and the process was repeated till the combine was empty.  Then it would take a few more swipes through the field.

Jack got curious, and walked right out to talk to one of the drivers, who had gotten down out of his machine. When the drive climbed back in, he invited Jack to go out into the fields with him - and of course, he accepted the invitation!

Elder Arrington aboard the cotton combine!  Lovin' every minute of it!

Photo of a beautiful little cotton boll that Sister Fenton brought back to the office

No More Strangers Fireside (Ephesians 2:19)

Several times a year the mission holds firesides at 6 different Stake Centers in the State.  We got to attend the one at the West Columbia Stake Center last Saturday night.  The fireside only lasted an hour.  The chapel was packed with missionaries, investigators, members, and recent converts.

Four recent converts spoke.  I didn't take notes, but these are some of the things that I can remember.  Laura was in a wheelchair.  She was baptized in September after attending a Book of Mormon class that the Irmo Ward  member held in her apartment every Friday night.  Laura had a friend who was going to the class, and Laura felt, one week, that she needed to go with her friend.  She is so happy with how the gospel has changed and enhanced her life.

A young, Latino man spoke next.  He was grateful to the missionaries and others who fellow-shipped him and taught him about the church.

A middle aged woman also spoke.  She said her daughter had been a member for 30 years, but it was her granddaughter who actually invited her to go to church.  She's been going ever since and was recently baptized.

I can't recall the other convert who spoke, but I'll add it when I do.

A young man played a violin solo that was amazing!  I think he is a music major at the university.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fast and Testimony Meeting - Chapin Branch

I think we have been assigned, by President Holm, to a unit that is much like the North Ogden 7th Ward we left in Utah.  I say unit - because it isn't a ward - it's a branch - the Chapin Branch.  A branch is a much smaller unit or congregation.  It is a ward in embryo.  The Chapin Branch is special.  People love and care about one another.  In Fast and Testimony Meeting Sunday, it was evident that there is a great deal of caring and serving that goes on in the Branch - and we are thankful to be a part of it.

The first sister who spoke, was the compassionate service leader in the branch.  She stood at the pulpit for a few minutes, then she said, "Brothers and Sisters...I'm just HAPPY to be here!"  She had just come back to church after having had a knee replacement.  (I feel her pain!)  She said that because of her position as compassionate service leader, she got to make her own dinner assignments, and she picked the best cooks in the branch.  That comment made everyone laugh.  :o)  She's a sweetheart, and I can't wait to get to know her better.

Another woman, who had to be assisted to the pulpit because she had just had foot surgery and was wearing a walking boot, bore her testimony about missionary work.  She said she works at Dillard's, and one day a woman came in, who was obviously struggling.  She soon realized that the woman was there to buy a dress to wear to her husband's funeral.  She broke down and told her story.  Her husband's death was unexpected and very devastating to her!  The sister from the branch told her, "I just feel like I need to give you a hug." And she did.  She also gave her a pass-along card.  She said it was the only one she had left in her purse, and it just happened to read, "Families Are Forever."  On the back of the card was an offer for a free DVD. A few weeks later, the lady came back to Dillard's and found the Branch sister (I wish I knew everyone's name!).  She called to her and said that she watched the DVD and she loved it...AND she had ordered 3 more copies to give to her children.  We don't know the rest of the story yet, because the Branch sister has been off work since her surgery.  Hopefully, there will be more.  :o)

Several others also bore their testimonies, but I didn't take notes on all of them.  President Bruno was last to speak.  He said it makes him feel so good that there is such a feeling of unity in the Branch - that the members all lift and serve one another.  He has a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and loves the people of the branch.

I love being in the Chapin Branch.  It reminds me of home.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dear Office...

Missionaries often stick little notes in with mail they send to the office when they are requesting media or paying for name tags.  Here's a cute one I got Friday...

Sunday Dinner

We had Elders Brimhall and Loos over for dinner tonight - along with Sister Barlow.  Jack thought it would be fun for her, for a change, to come eat with the Elders instead of the Sisters she lives with.  It was nice having her here.

During dinner conversation, Elder Loos was telling us that he and his brother want to go into business together when they're out of school - his brother as a dentist and he as an orthodontist.  Their placard will read "LOOS TEETH."  :o)

After dinner, the Elders shared a message with us... How we can help our non-member friends and family fight off the fiery darts of the adversary.  :o)

Lesson, complete with visual aids, including fiery darts.  :o)
Love these two great missionaries!

Old Mother Hubbard

That's how I was beginning to feel!  The shelves in the media room were getting pretty bare!  We needed more of several kinds of pamphlets and pass-along cards - the ones that are mainstays of the missionaries! Jack is the one who'll be doing the ordering.  He, because he's ordering supplies, is designated as Mission Secretary, as well as Financial Secretary.  I made a list of the things we needed and he put in the order.  I was feeling very on-top-of-things after he sent it in (all supplies are ordered on-line).  The first of last week, FED-EX brought in a load of supplies, so I went into the back room to open boxes and replenish our shelves.  The first three boxes were missionary daily planners.  Then there was only one box left.  I thought maybe all the media supplies hadn't come in this FED-EX shipment.  Alas, they had.  Unfortunately, they were all in that one box!  Where we thought we had ordered 3 boxes of an item - Salt Lake Temple pass-along cards, for example - we were sent THREE pass-along cards!  We got THREE Joseph Smith's Testimony pamphlets, THREE Restoration pamphlets, TWO Finding Faith in Christ pass-along was like a stab in the heart!  I was wigging out! Clearly, it was a case of Jack's not being trained properly...and that happened, pretty much because there was nobody there to train him!  The person who had previously ordered supplies had returned home even before we got to the mission. I felt bad for Jack, because he had no idea!   But he knows now!  That afternoon, he called Salt Lake and put a rush on a new order.  It arrived in 4 days.  So now, we're good to go. As I was putting things on the shelves, I really felt like Mother Hubbard - after a grocery shopping spree.  :o)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A New Addition!

I almost forgot!  We bought a stationary bike off Craig's List this week!  We've both used it every day!  I love to turn the scriptures on and listen to them read to me as I pedal.  And I thought listening to scriptures whilst putting on my make-up was fun!  :o)

So Sad!

Friday was Zone Training Meetings in Irmo.  And at the end of the meetings, the office was deluged with young Elders and Sisters wanting to pick up media orders and checking to see if there was any mail for them in the office.  Elder Esplin and Elder Lamb asked me to check and see what address their mail was being sent to.  I pulled out the book and told them, and Elder Esplin said, "We haven't lived at that address for over two transfers (over twelve weeks!).  That just made my heart ache.  Good thing for email, or these two Elders wouldn't have heard anything  from their families in all that long time!  Heaven only knows where their packages have gone!  I feel so responsible!  But I am not the one putting the addresses in the book and on the labels!  I've got to see that these corrections are made - and that things like this don't happen again!  I guess I'm going to have to learn to update IMOS (International Missionary Operations System)!  My brain is going to be so full of stuff!  I hope it doesn't explode!

Ta Da! The Harvester!

With Sister Barlow's help - I got the October issue of The Harvester done!  Yes, we're behind! In fact, we still have to go back and do the September issue!  But we decided to start with October and November, because we were actually here and know what went on in September and October.  (That sounds really complicated!)

I think it looks good.  We tweaked it even more since I took these pictures - added names of the incoming missionaries and raised the level of the scripture in the heading.  It's pretty near perfect.  :o)


Most of the jobs I do at the office do not require a computer.  I can do referrals on my iPad - so that's cool.  And I can usually sneak in 15 or 20 minutes on somebody's computer to get my mailing labels done, but I've taken on another project where a computer is absolutely necessary and I don't have one.  I'm doing the mission newsletter!  :o)  Just my piece of cake!  But 15 or 20 minutes here or there isn't going to help me a bit on the newsletter!  Sometimes, I feel like a beggar - waiting till someone is away from their desk - or out of the office - so I can sit down and do my work.   I was dwelling on that one day last week - feeling sorry for myself, and really making the adversary happy!  When I realized that - I felt even worse!  Satan loves us to get discouraged and frustrated.  I know he does!

The next day was better.  Sister Fenton was out of the office all afternoon, so I got to use her computer - and Sister Barlow was there to help me learn Microsoft Publisher.  She's been a huge help!  Everything works out - especially if you're doing the Lord's work.  I know that too!

Pretty Much a Bust!

We took chocolate bars to the Trunk or Treat last Saturday, but for Halloween, we just got a bag of Dum Dums, because we thought, living in an apartment complex, we might be inundated with Trick-or-Treaters! Nope!  We had TWO.  We took the Dum Dums to the office - where they'll probably sit till we leave to go home!  :o(

There's No Convincing Rose!.

We had quite a bit of mail every day this week.  Our friendly postal worker, Rose, was convinced that it's because our church celebrates Halloween.  I made the mistake of commenting on the excessive amount of mail, and her first comment was,
"It's because y'all celebrate Halloween!" 
"The church doesn't celebrate Halloween, Rose - some of the people do." 
"Yeah, all these people sendin' Halloween packages to their missionaries, and they're all church people!"

I decided not to argue, but Rose went on...
"I know!  I know!  I'm not supposed to judge!  And I'm not judgin', but I'm judgin' in my mind!  I know it's not my place to judge, but I just can't help it.  Y'all know what Halloween is, don't ya?  It's celebrating the devil!  I don't celebrate Halloween!  No, M'am!  I don't!"

Yeah - we heard it from Rose every day till after Halloween had passed.  Whew!  Glad that's over!

"Tell them to take water...he's ready to be baptized!"

Tuesday afternoon Tye Campbell, from the Preventative Maintenance Group, came into the office to repair a broken drawer.  When he walked in - he had a story to tell - and a missionary referral!  He said that as he was leaving to come to our office a gentleman approached him and asked him if he knew anything about the Mormons.  He told him that indeed he did - he was employed by the church.  The guy said, "Tell me everything you know about Mormons!"  Then the gentleman proceeded to tell the PM guy all about the things he had been reading in the Old Testament and why he had to find out about the church.  Tye got his name, address and phone number and said he'd send missionaries to visit him.  I told Tye (that's the PM guy's name) that I'd be more than happy to send in a referral and get the missionaries out to teach him.  Tye said, "Tell them to take water with them!  He's ready to be baptized!"  :o)