Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mother Hubbard in Reverse!

When I got to the office this morning, I opened the cupboard and it was BARE!  Yahoo!  Went to the media room and the holding shelves were also bare.  Wahoo!  Our (un-forward-able) mail and media has been piling up for weeks and finally, we got rid of it!  MLC was today - Missionary Leadership Conference - and Elders and Sisters from every zone in the mission were there, so they all took mail and media back to their zones!

When we pulled into the parking lot at the office this morning, the APs were just leaving in the mission pick-up.  Elder Muir had to show us the picture they took of the truckload of media and mail they took over to the Irmo Chapel last night.  The bed of the truck was loaded, as was the back seat and floor!  I will post the picture when they send it to me.

That's a lot of mail and media!  Elder Muir said they carried out around 25 boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon.  Those are HEAVY!  I should know.  :o)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Another AP Miracle

The two Assistants to the President were at home last night, planning for the up-coming week.  Around 9:30, Elder Willie got a phone call.  While he was on the phone, Elder Muir heard knocking on the door of their apartment.  He actually thought it was at the apartment next door because  "Nobody ever knocks on our door!"  He didn't respond, but a few minutes later, he heard more knocking, so he looked out the peep hole.  He called to his companion, "Elder Willie!  There is someone at our door!"  When they opened it up, a woman, whom they had seen earlier in the parking lot, walking her dog, was just heading down the stairs. They called to her and she came back.  She said, "I saw you earlier in the parking lot and I knew you were representatives of the Lord and I needed to talk to you."  She said she had taken her dog inside and then gone hunting for the Elders' apartment.  She found it because they had a picture of Jesus on their door.  :o)

She told them that she had had a meeting with missionaries about five years ago when they knocked on her door during a Bible Study.  She had invited them in that night and the group had a lot of questions for them, but nothing ever came of it.  She said that when she saw them in the parking lot last night, she knew she needed to talk with them again. She asked them to pray with her and in her prayer, among other things, she said that they were not to waste the Lord's time.  If people weren't sincere about wanting to learn about the Gospel, the missionaries should "shake the dust off their feet" and leave them.  The two Elders were stunned that she would say something like that.

I asked how she could have come up with something like that.  It's in the Bible, (Matt. 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5) but not a lot of people talk about it.  Apparently she is very well versed in the Bible. Elder Willie said, "I don't know if she realizes what a serious thing that is - to shake the dust off your feet."

Anyway, they ended up teaching the Restoration Lesson right there on the doorstep and she invited them to come and teach her at her apartment on Sunday.

They feel like it was another very real miracle.  The Lord is preparing His children for His Gospel.  I know this is true!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Two Dog Night

The APs went to Myrtle Beach last week for exchanges.  The Elders were invited to spend the night at the Albrechts' home, but they had to dog-sit while they were there over night because the Albrechts were away. That meant having to sleep with the Albrechts' two Shih tzus.  Sister Albrecht told them that Chloe, the female would have no problem, but Wilson, the male, might start groaning during the night.  Wilson has separation anxieties.  :o)  She said if he started groaning, it meant that he just needed some cuddling.  Haha!  Elder Willie must have drawn the short straw, because he got to sleep with Wilson, and he did NOT get a good night's sleep!

The Elders have a picture of themselves with the dogs.  I'll see if they'll send it to me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Gladys Knight Conversion

We went home teaching to the WAS Sisters tonight and Sister Barton told us about one of the ladies they work with.  Sister Dimasi had attended a Gladys Knight concert and wanted to know about Gladys's church. She realized that there was a church building fairly close to her, so she kept dropping by to find out when church services were so she could attend.  The building was always empty.  Finally a couple of Elders knocked on her door, and she was able to learn about the church and then accepted baptism.  She is now working toward going to the temple.  Gladys would be happy to hear that.  :o)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dancing With the Stars conversion...

We have a cute new mission nurse.  She will take over when Sister Boyack leaves in December, but for now, Sister Romano and Sister Boyack will split the 280+ missionaries in the SCCM.

At Senior Specialized Training last Tuesday, we had introductions.  There are so many new senior here now, and everyone is new to President and Sister Turner.

Sister Rosemarie Romano introduced herself and told us her conversion story.

She was at a neighbor's house and Dancing with the Stars happened to be on TV.  It was the season when Marie Osmond was on the show.  Her neighbor was going on and on about how immodestly Marie was dressed.  Sister Romano didn't see anything wrong with the way she was dressed, but her neighbor thought she was way out of line.  She told her that Marie belonged to the same church she did, and had been through the temple and she wasn't dressed appropriately.  Sister Romano asked her, "What church do you belong to?"  She answered, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The next day at work, she Googled the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and found out there was a building just a few blocks from where she worked in Manhattan.  She called the number for the church, and actually found someone there.  They asked her if she would like to come and check it out - so she did.  They gave her a schedule and invited her to services the next Sunday.  She lived in Brooklyn, and it never occurred to her that there was a church close to where she lived.  She made her way to Manhattan Sunday morning (as I recall, there was a storm or some kind of difficulty in getting there, but she made it).  It was Fast and Testimony Meeting (the 1st Sunday of the month). She loved the meeting, and found herself going up to the pulpit and telling everyone that she really liked what she saw and felt while she was in attendance.  :o)  She expressed an interest in becoming a member, and was then taught by the missionaries and subsequently baptized.

When Sister Romano finished her story, Sister Turner said, "So what you're telling us is Marie Osmond's dressing immodestly is responsible for your joining the church?"  :o)

Why we do what we do...

As I was reading Preach My Gospel tonight, I came to this quote by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  Very powerful statement!

"We do not preach and teach in order to 'bring people into the Church' or to increase the membership of the Church.  We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives...We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom to the sons and daughters of God.  No one else can do this."

A Mighty Work is Going on at the Fort!!!

Elder Brenchley called this morning to see if we had any small copies of Preach My Gospel.  One of the newly baptized soldiers wants one.  The soldier says so many of his battle-buddies want him to teach them that he wants to study up.

No proselytizing is allowed at Fort Jackson.  Missionaries are not allowed there except on Sunday during church services.  And then they can only teach those who come seeking instruction.  But a lot of teaching is done by the soldiers themselves.  Their buddies see the change in these member soldiers and the happiness and peace that the gospel has brought into their lives and they want that for themselves.  It is absolutely awesome out there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bearing One Another's Burdens II

Had I longer to prepare and longer to speak last Sunday, there would have been more.  I left out some crucial things that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has in place to help its members and other people around the world

One of them is the ARP - Addiction Recovery Program.  I was reaminded of that when we got a hand written letter this week from a couple in our home ward who were called on a mission to work in Addiction Recovery.  I first found out about the program when we came to South Carolina.  Another couple who was temporarily in the office had been called here to do Addiction Recovery.  The Mihlbergers told us a little of the program.  The program helps people with addictions of every kind.  Gambling, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, over-eating, sugar addiction, over-spending, etc. etc.

Another program the church has is its education system.  For many, many years there have been the seminaries and institutes.  In most of the world, seminary is taught in the early mornings, before school, to students in grades 9-12.  The institute program is for college and university students.

Two couples Iknow personally, Jim and Sandra Shupe, and Richard and Gloria Rasmussen have both set up and worked in schools run by the church in Zimbabwe, West Africa and the South Pacific Island of Kiribati, respectively.  I couldn't find information on how many of these schools there are across the globe.  I'm sure I could find it if I had the time to search.

There may be other programs out there too...I just can't think of any more right now.  Ü

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SCCM Standing Quotes

It is a tradition in our mission, that whenever there is a gathering of missionaries – Zone Conferences, Leadership Training, Sister Specialized Training, or Transfers, for example –  everyone stands and recites what they call The Standing Quotes.  The standing quotes include the following:

“Invite other to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”  My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ.  My purpose is to baptize and confirm!

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

Joseph Smith Junior:  “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!”

D&C Section 4 Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.  Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve Him with all your heart, might mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.  Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work; For behold, the field is white, already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.  Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.  Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  Amen.

At the end they repeat the mission motto… I LOVE tough things!  I’m the first to do tough things!  I do tough things first!  I’m a finisher!  I LOVE being a missionary!!!

My talk - "Bearing One Another's Burdens"

Jack and I were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting again in the Chapin Branch.  The subject for the month is Bearing One Another's Burdens.  We both prayed about our assignment, and I feel like I was prompted to talk about the many opportunities for service within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know there are millions of good people all over the world who provide loving service to God's children - members of our church are certainly not alone in this.  But I love the way our church is organized to provide service.  It really is known the world over for its humanitarian service.  Anyway - I thought I'd post my talk so I can remember where I put it, and just in case anyone wants to read it.  If any of y'all read it and see stories about yourself, I want you to know that I wrote according to my memory of how things were.  Hope it's pretty close to how it actually happened.  :o)

If any of you have teenaged friends of FaceBook, you’ve probably seen them post from time to time, “I’m bored!”  or “There’s nothing to do!”  Every time our oldest daughter Sharon saw her nieces and nephews, or her own children posting  this, she would add this reply, “Go do some service!”  It got to be a regular routine in our family and we all joked about it.  Last week, Sharon got a short email from her nephew Justin (our grandson) who is serving as a missionary in Paraguay.  It said, “Shron, I think I finally figured out why you always told us to go do some service.”  That made us smile!  Service is what it’s all about! 
As we serve, we can become more like our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  As we serve, we learn to love and appreciate our brothers and sisters as He does.  We can do many acts of service on our own.  One of my friends back home wrote me a few days ago…

I have a dear friend in Montana I have known for 30+ years who has truly helped me bear many burdens. Through the years she has fed us, watched my children, done our laundry, helped clean my house, and even weeded my garden but her greatest ability is her willingness to listen. One of my greatest burdens has been a wayward son who has made many, many poor decisions including multiple suicide attempts. This woman has been there to help console me, offer a shoulder to cry on, give useful advice when needed, cried with me, laughed with me and helped me to remember that the Savior is in charge and he has not forgotten me or my Son. She has had her share of issues in her own family and we have helped one another get through these trials. Sometimes through tears, sometimes through laughter but always with love. Never judging, never pointing fingers, never placing blame. Just a continual listening ear and a kind heart. We can't fix each other’s problems but we can certainly be the pillar for others to lean on when they can no longer stand alone.
Another friend, Craig Wales, who actually used to live in Chapin, told me of an experience he had just two weeks ago.  His wife was three months pregnant and he was leaving for a week at scout camp, because he is scoutmaster in his ward.  His wife, Janae has had 13 miscarriages over the course of their marriage.  Craig and Janae have two young daughters, but Janae has been hoping for one more child.  Everything was progressing well, but Craig promised to call Janae every day from Camp Bartlett so see how she was doing.  He got to camp on Monday.  Tuesday he called Janae.  Everything was fine.  He went back to camp and just a few hours later, he got a prompting that he needed to call his wife again.  He didn’t act on it right away because he had just talked to her.  The prompting kept coming, however, so he went to where he could get cell phone coverage again.  When he did, he saw a text from Janae.  She said she thought she might be miss-carrying again.  She had an appointment with her doctor 30 minutes from when she sent the text.  Craig called her up and they cried together on the phone.  She had been to the doctor already and an ultra-sound had revealed that the baby was okay, but the doc put her on bed rest.  She didn’t know how she was going to take care of their two girls with Craig gone.  He asked if she wanted him to come home, but she said she thought he should stay at camp with the boys, since that was his calling.  He told her he would contact the bishop, which he did.  The bishop gave her a priesthood blessing and blessed her with peace and the ability to accept help from others.  Then the ward came to Janae’s rescue while Craig was as scout camp.  They bought milk and a few things that she needed from the store.  The home teachers brought in dinner.  Her visiting teachers stopped to check in on her and made sure she was okay.  Craig said it was an amazing experience of service.  He said, “Even though I was off serving and helping out far away with many of their sons, and unable to comfort my wife, the ward was there.  It was truly a blessing to see the church function the way it was supposed to -everyone serving each other.  It’s just neat that we have the church and that it is organized in a way that we are never alone.  We have these organizations that are there to help support those who are in need and are struggling.  We are all in this together.  Sometimes we are serving and other times we are the ones being served.”
I had a similar experience with my younger sister, Dena.  She had not been active in the church for many years.  She was married to a man who was emotionally abusive to her and their two young boys, so she finally made the decision to divorce him.  She moved to another city in OK, bought a home and was doing well, and then disaster struck.  Her roof had been stripped down to the plywood so new shingles could be put down when a heavy rainstorm hit the area, soaking her house to the point that her ceiling was literally falling down around her.  She called in tears – and my sister doesn’t cry!  I told her that she needed to contact her bishop for help.  She refused.  She said, “I can’t call the bishop!  What do I say?  Hello, you don’t know me.  I don’t go to church.  But I need help.”  She didn’t feel comfortable calling him, but my other sister, Elaine, and I did.  We had been on the giving end of church service for many years, and we just knew that the ward there in OK would come through for our sister.  Elaine called the bishop and within minutes, men from the ward arrived with tools and materials to prevent any more damage and began to repair the damage that had already been done.  This disaster turned out to be a blessing in my sister’s life.  It was a turning point for her.  She went back to church, attends regularly and has since served in Primary and Relief Society.  This church works!
Our church organization also provides ways which allow us to provide service to others.  We can help bear one another’s burdens when we are faithful in our visiting teaching and home teaching.  The main purpose of these two callings is to teach and to minister to the needs of those we are assigned to visit.  If we truly learn to love and serve those whom we home teach and visit teach, they will feel comfortable confiding in us and asking for help when they need it.  If we know them well enough, we can discern their needs before they ask for help.
Within the church, we also have the law of the fast.  We are asked to refrain from eating two consecutive meals the first Sunday of each month and then contribute generously to the fast offering.  That money is then used by our bishops or branch presidents to provide help for those in need.  In that simple way, we can bear one another’s burdens.
Church humanitarian services is another arm of the church while gives us the opportunity to service others and lighten their burdens.  There are five areas of concentration in Humanitarian Services.  (1) Wheelchairs, (2) Emergency Response, (3) Immunization, (4) Neo-natal Resuscitation, and (5) Clean Water.  I’m sure that most of us have had the opportunity to help with Emergency Response.  Many of you have probably had the opportunity to help victims of Hurricane Katrina or Hugo, which impacted many people in the area here.  At home, in North Ogden, calls went out one spring afternoon for every able-bodied person to assemble at the City Shops to fill sand bags.  An entire subdivision on the east part o the city was being deluged by flood water from the spring runoff.  Within minutes, hundreds of men, women and teenagers were standing shoulder to shoulder filling bags with sand and loading them onto truck beds.  The response was so impressive that a story landed on the front page of Time Magazine.  Stories of Mormon Helping Hands are all over the papers and the internet when disasters occur anywhere in the world.  What a blessing this is for the opportunity it give us to serve our brothers and sisters!  I’ve not had the chance to serve right on site of any disasters, but I have been able to join with sisters in my home ward Relief Society to assemble hygiene kids and newborn baby kits and backpack kits for school children.  I’m sure that many members of the Chapin Branch have done this as well.
We can lighten one another’s burden by contributing to the missionary fund, the Perpetual Education Fund and the Humanitarian Fund.
Next month, we will have two new missionaries come to our mission – both of them will have two other siblings in the mission field.  I don’t know that the families supporting three missionaries at one time will receive assistance from the general missionary fund, but that is a possibility.  Our contributions to this fund can help relieve the financial burden of a family that has 3 or even 4 missionaries out at the same time.  Our contributions to this fund will allow young men and women to serve missions who would not otherwise be able to serve
The Perpetual Education Fund of the church was announced in April General  Conference of 2001 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.   The Perpetual Education Fund…
  • Is an inspired program to help ambitious, worthy young members of the Church receive training and education that lead to employment.
  • Is modeled after the Perpetual Emigration Fund developed for the Church's early pioneers. As loans are repaid, the funds are re-circulated to provide opportunities for others.
  • Provides student loans to young people in selected developing nations.
  • Helps young people better provide for their families and grow in leadership and responsibility in the Church. It will strengthen individuals, families, and communities.

Kevin is from Antigua and Barbados and is the first member of the Church in his country to receive a loan from the Perpetual Education Fund. His story, as he now pursues further education and a better job, is interwoven with faith, courage, sacrifice, hard work, and prophetic promise.
Just prior to Kevin’s mission, he received his patriarchal blessing, wherein he was given an unlikely promise. If he would serve a faithful mission, he was told, a miracle would occur to allow him further education upon his return—an opportunity that would help lead his family out of poverty. While this seemed virtually impossible, he prayed with faith throughout the two years of his mission. Then, on March 31, 2001, just prior to Kevin’s return home, President Gordon B. Hinckley made the historic announcement of the Perpetual Education Fund. Kevin was overwhelmed with joy and hope. The promised miracle could now be fulfilled.

Upon his return, Kevin sought out his priesthood and institute of religion leaders. With help from his mother and branch president, he developed a realistic career plan, selected a school, and organized his meager finances. His loan application was approved and he worked hard to save money before entering school—a two-year program to become a construction manager. Now, after just one year, his hopes are high. While his meals come irregularly, he says he remains filled with hope. He is teaching an institute class in addition to his school efforts, and he works as much as possible to eke out a basic living.
“Please,” says Kevin’s mom, “tell the First Presidency thank you for the miracle of hope! Now all our sons may have this miracle in their lives, so we can provide better for our families and serve more effectively in the Church. This will change everything! We are so grateful and so anxious to repay the loan. Kevin’s blessing is finally being fulfilled!"
Another way we can bear one another’s burdens is by working in one of the church-owned farms, ranches and orchards. 

• Fifty farms and orchards located across the United States and Canada produced some 83 million pounds of wheat and dry beans; 6 million pounds of fruit (apples, peaches and pears); 250,000 pounds of fresh vegetables; and 20 million pounds of row crops such as sugar beets.
• An LDS-owned turkey farm in Moroni, Utah, yielded 5 million pounds of turkey.
• The Church-owned vineyard in Madera, Calif., produced several tons of raisins.
• The Church’s peanut farm in Texas supplied the essential ingredient for the Church to produce its own protein-rich peanut butter.
• The Church’s five working cattle ranches—staffed largely by “cowboy” missionaries—yielded hamburger and other fresh beef products that stocked the meat section of bishops’ storehouses.

A few years ago, a Harvard University professor contacted Wade Sperry, an agricultural specialist in the Church’s welfare department.
The professor explained that he was working on a case study about the welfare department’s vast and varied agricultural projects. He asked if he could spend a few days visiting Church-owned farms, orchards, and beef ranches.
Brother Sperry accompanied the professor and a team of graduate students on their agricultural tour. At each locale, the Harvard contingent witnessed crews of happy volunteers picking fruit, harvesting crops, and wrangling cattle.
They returned to Boston both humbled and inspired by the charitable spirit of cooperation and compassion they found in each volunteer who donated time and muscle to produce food that would feed families in need.
A short time later, the professor sent Brother Sperry a copy of his case study on the Church welfare agricultural projects.
“He wrote that there is nothing like this anywhere on earth—it’s unique,” said Brother Sperry.

Our home stake is involved in the North Ogden Peach Orchard, which produces 500,000 pounds of peaches a year.  We have the opportunity to prune, thin and pick peaches in that orchard every year.  We have also lived in stakes where we were able to harvest grapes, tomatoes and green beans.  Elder Arrington grew up in the Ogden Stake.  Their welfare assignment was to haul hay and mend fences at a cattle ranch in Huntsville, UT.  When I was young, our stake was assigned to work at a hog farm in Farr West.   I never worked at the hog farm, but my dad and brothers did, and when they came home from working there, my mom made them stand out on the back porch and strip off their clothes for the washing machine before they were allowed to come into the house.  The hog farm was a smelly place!

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to serve God’s children.  I love this church!  It is the Lord’s church!  I love my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I love the scriptures, wherein we are told, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. ... “   I love serving the Lord in His church.  It has brought great happiness into my life.  I love working in the mission office and serving the missionaries in this great mission.  It is my privilege and my joy. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mandela's Conversion

The APs were excited to tell us this morning about an investigator they have who is from The Ivory Coast.  I remembered them asking for a copy of the Book of Mormon in French for him several months ago.  He speaks pretty good English, but it is easier for him to understand scriptures if they are in French.

They were excited, because of what happened when they met with him last night to give him a lesson on the Word of Wisdom.  Mandela didn't know their plans, but as soon as they arrived, he said, "Before we get started, I have a few questions for you.  If I'm going to be a member of this church, I want to find out if there are any changes I need to make in my life.  Is there a certain way I should dress?  Are there things I shouldn't be watching on TV?  Are there health restrictions I should know about?"  :o)

The Elders told him about the Word of Wisdom and he went immediately to his cupboard and emptied it of all his teas and coffee.  He put everything in a bag and handed it to the APs.  The Elders were all smiles when they told us that the stuff was still in the back of their truck outside.

I asked if he had set a date for baptism, and the Elders said he had - August 2nd.  I was thinking that August was a long way off, but then it hit me - we're in mid-July already!!!

There was more to the story.  As I mentioned, French is Mandela's first language.  It just so happened, that when Mandela came to church at the Irmo Ward, there was a returned missionary there.  He was in the area for just four Sundays.  He was in the area working for Living Scriptures.  And...he had gone to France on his mission and spoke fluently!  He helped the Elders teach Mandela, and Mandela LOVED him!  He has since been transferred with Living Scriptures up to Spartanburg, but will come back to Irmo to help teach Mandela and to baptize him on August 2nd.  Is all this coincidence?  I think not!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dinner with the WAS Sisters

Sister Barton and Sister Munson are Women's Auxilliary Specialists in our mission.  They work in the West Columbia 1st Ward and the Congaree Ward, visiting and teaching less-active women in the church.  They are storm troopers!  The work long days and travel some scary roads, seeking out sisters who need help - physically, emotionally and spiritually.  They teach Preach My Gospel lessons, family history lessons, temple prep lessons.  They seek out the less active sisters in these two wards, but many times they get to teach and encourage the women's husbands and other family members.

They told us tonight about one husband who, when they first called to set an appointment with his less-active wife, said, "We don't want you here.  She doesn't need your help!"  The WAS sisters waited about three weeks, and then stopped by unannounced.  The husband was not happy!  They just stayed a few minutes, but set up another appointment to come back.  They have been visiting this less-active sister for quite a while now, and her husband always tells them thanks for coming, and "She needs your visits."  Sometimes he asks if he can join them as they visit and teach.  These women are angels - seeking out their sisters in the Gospel and bringing them back "into the fold."  They are working miracles, these two.  I just love 'em!

So blessed to spend the evening with these two Super Star WAS Sisters!

 Sister Barton (San Antonio, TX)  and Sister Munson (Kaysville, UT)

These three Sisters (Sister Barlow in the center) are all widows who have chosen to serve the Lord on missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There were called to South Carolina where they serve at their own expense (as all missionaries do).  Sister Barton and Sister Munson serve the women in two wards in the Columbia Area and Sister Barlow works in the Mission Office with us.  These women are amazing, and such great examples to me!  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blessings of being an office missionary...

We get to interact with the young missionaries on a daily basis. I get to talk with them every day when they call for media orders or new name tags, or when they have problems with their mail.  Jack gets to deal with their money card and phone problems.  :o)  The young missionaries are always SO GRATEFUL for our help!  They ALWAYS ask if there is anything THEY can do for us!  They continually inspire us with their hard work, obedience and dedication!  They are simply amazing young people!

We get to feed missionaries every Sunday at our apartment.  Twice a month, we drive over to Chapin and take the Elders, then the Sisters to dinner.  It is so fun to get to know these young ones a little better and feel the strength of their spirits.  We never feed them a meal but what they share a Gospel message with us and leave us with a blessing upon our home. The Lord's church will be in good hands for many years to come - of that I have no doubt!

Here's a picture of the four Sisters who came to dinner today.  Sister Borgholthaus has been in West Columbia for 3 transfers.  Sister Daniels is here for the first time. Sister Derrick has been here for 2 and Sister Clark is brand new to the mission (but you'd never know it!)  These four live just through the woods from us - with Sister Barlow.  Imagine living with four young Sister Missionaries!  Sister Barlow is so perfect for that and she LOVES her Sisters!
Such beautiful, beautiful Sisters!  Beautiful inside and out!  I love them!!!

Elder Gonzalez, Elder Seager, Elder Arnoldsen and Elder Townsend

It was our night to feed the Chapin Elders (right).  The Newberry Elders (left) had picked them up for the Presiden't Tour in West Columbia, so we had them all come to our apartment for dinner after the meeting. What fun it was to have them there!   LOVE these Elders!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Columbia Stake Center - Former Baptist Church

Elder Muir told me a couple of weeks ago that the Stake Center in Columbia (on Jackson Blvd.) is a former Baptist church.  He said, "It's the biggest church I've ever seen!"  I've been wanting to see it since he told me, so we drove over when we were in that area yesterday.  It IS very big!  I couldn't get it all in this picture without going across the street - then the trees were in the way.  It has a low level on each end, two peaked sections with pillars and the "sanctuary" or chapel is in the middle. Around back, there is a portico that cars can drive under so that "men can drop their wives off at the door when it rains and they won't get wet,"  according to Elder Muir.  I'd love to see the inside, but it was locked when we were there yesterday.  Maybe we'll stop in some Sunday when we go out to the Fort.

Beautiful building, I think!

Pretty sure that the marquee is a remnant from the Baptist church,  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vision of the South

This quote is in the back of the Orientation Handbooks I put together for the new missionaries.  We can see Elder Featherstone's vision coming to pass.  :o)

"This is the vision I have for the South.  I believe one day the South will baptize more people into the church than all other English speaking missions in the world together.  There are hosts of marvelous Baptists, member of the Church of Christ, Methodists and Catholics, who are honorable people and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love Him.  As they see their church veering off to the right or the left of those basic teachings, they will begin to search for truth.  And as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptize hundreds, and thousands, tens-of-thousands, in your day will see a mission members of the church in the South.  There will be Temples plural in the Southern States. What a great call you have to serve with these marvelous people."

I remembered reading this quote when I pulled up a self-referral from a man in Boiling Springs this morning.  In his comments, he said, "I have been raised Baptist my entire life."  He was requesting a copy of the Book of Mormon.  :o)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Email from an MTC "Investigator"

At the MTC in Provo, the missionaries are given the opportunity to teach "investigators."  When we were there, they told us that some are not members of our church and some are.  We never knew which were which.  They all seemed pretty authentic to us.

In our mission email this morning, we got a letter from a man who was an investigator when three of our new Sisters were training at the MTC.  He said he was so impressed with all three of them - with their knowledge and humility and sincerity.

He said, "Sister C. could move mountains.  Sister G. made me think.  And Sister G. was soft spoken, just like my wife."  He called the three of them "angels from heaven."

He wrote because he wanted their president to know the caliber of missionaries he was getting, and he asked us to pass his email along to the three Sisters also.

Churches for Sale.

I drove over to Ballantine a few days ago to get a haircut. It's about 15 minutes from the office.  On the way over, I passed two churches with "FOR SALE" signs in the front yard.  That is so foreign to me!  There might be some churches for sale in Utah, but I've never seen any.  Pretty sure there are none of our churches for sale!  I think there are a few that were built many, many years ago that were outdated or too small to accommodate the congregations and were sold to other denominations.  There is one on about 29th and Wall, maybe?  There are two that I know of that were sold and turned into reception centers because they no longer filled the needs of those congregations.  But to see a normal, up-to-date church for sale?  I don't
think so!