Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday morning

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hi from Mom

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A couple pictures

Just us:

Dad has been reassigned to a Spanish speaking zone and this is their new standard proselyting Sunday best attire!  (Just teasing)

Update from Dad

We have our ups and downs here in the Mission. We are trying so hard to get Jake into a detox facility to help him completely break away from his drug and alcohol addictions.  He will never be free from either one but he can control it. He is on a methadone treatment plan of about 6 months.  Methadone supposedly helps a drug addict to slowly wean off drugs and eventually off of methadone but it’s a long haul.  Also most alcohol programs won’t let you in if you are taking methadone!  It’s also hard for us to keep steady with him since we do have other duties.  But I’m not abandoning him at all, he just needs such constant companionship.  I have come to love him.

We met with a lady, Lindsay, last week at the home of a member but it appears to us and to the Sister Missionaries that she just wants to keep investigating faiths and not commit to any.  She is such a peaceful woman but is “tossed to and fro with every doctrine” and cannot see the parallel between her and Joseph Smith of searching for God’s true authorized church.

Jeff Johnston is also a recovering alcoholic.  He is a totally likeable and outgoing guy but just won’t commit himself fully.  I plan to talk to the Bishop and suggest that perhaps a Ward member be called as a single-contact for some of these addiction members and who can give them contact, make phone calls, etc. on a near-daily basis but only have one person like that to care for.

Our Book of Mormon class is a pretty healthy one.  It has grown from about 8 of us to 14 or more! That includes 6 of us who are active.  Two of the group were baptized a month ago.  Others are less-actives or actual investigators.  We are in now in 2Nephi. 

I have been enjoying reading the Book of Mormon more slowly lately!  I like to read just a verse or two and then really take time to think about why these verses were included and try to imagine the feelings of the writer at that time.  It was hard work to make those plates and inscribe on metal – so why did they decide to include that verse? How did those writers find the time?

We had a Zone Activity yesterday where we all found out stories about family members who died a long time ago and then we dressed in clothes that would have been common when they were alive. Pictures included here.  I told the story of my G-ma Rena (Dad’s Mom) of when she and Henry were courting.  She liked it when Henry and his brother Carl would come over to G-ma Rena’s place as a double date with her and her sister, Violet.  They would drive over in a “single-seater” horse-drawn buggy.  That meant that Henry and Carl would sit on the seat and G-ma and Violet would have to sit on their laps!  It’s fun to get a new perspective of a G-ma being a young courting girl!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hi from Dad

We senior missionaries start each day (Mon – Fri) at 9:00 am.  We gather together and one of us gives an opening prayer.  Wouldn’t this world be better if all groups started with something resembling an opening prayer to Deity?
I start by opening my computer to a program called Internet Missionary Operating System (IMOS).  This is a system all administrating missionaries and Church employees use.  I use some of it for my cars duties as does Mom for her secretarial duties.  I mainly check in first just to see if there are any banner-type announcements.
Next I open up my email.  I check my email to see if there’s anything urgent there for me to tend to.

My other software program is called Church Automotive Reporting System (CARS; cool huh?!).  I use this a LOT.  When a car gets due for an oil change, I contact the missionaries and direct them to a specific vendor to get that done.  They then get the invoice and send it to me.  After I get it, I approve it and enter it into the CARS program which then records that information into the data field for that vehicle.  That proves to be an accurate and comprehensive service record for each vehicle.  Before the service is actually done, that vendor will call me and I will discuss what he’s to do and the price.  I then give him the go-ahead.  He does it and the missionaries get their car back.

In my CARS program I have a “desktop” called the “Dashboard”.  I check this often.  This program can tell me if a vehicle is probably due for an oil change for instance.  I check it, confirm it, and notify the missionaries.  It will tell me if I have a vehicle coming up due for the registration renewal. It tells me if one of our missionary’s driver’s license is about to expire. 

We have Zone Conferences every quarter or so.  At those conferences, one thing I do is organize it so that all the missionaries bring their cars and park them with hoods up, trunks open, etc.  While they are in their meetings, I and the other Senior Missionaries go through and inspect each vehicle for such things as fluid levels, interior is clean, papers (registration, fuel credit card, and vehicle mileage logbook is in place, tires OK, if there’s any damages, and if their trunk is organized and clean.  We have inspection sheets for this.  We will leave sticky notes for the missionaries if there’s something they need to do.  Later, I’ll go over each of those inspection sheets and make sure anything needful (check tires) gets done.

If a missionary gets into an accident, unless there’s injuries and 9-1-1 needs to be called, they call me first.  I walk them through what they need to do (gather information, take photos, and make out an Incident report online).  I then take care of getting cost estimates for damage repair and then get it fixed.

We have that on-board GPS system called Tiwi (Teenager Independent WItness) which is in every mission vehicle.  It tracks the car and will give verbal warning to the driver while driving, of such things like “Check speed;”, or “Aggressive driving”.  I get reports of all these happenings and I talk to each driver about what happened and counsel them accordingly.  I can then determine if the driver needs remedial safety/defensive driving instruction or whatever. I’ve heard strange and funny stories about reports from missionaries but I haven’t had any noteworthy ones yet.

I keep track of new missionaries as far as their driving capabilities, papers in order, etc.  I then recommend to the President if a missionary ought to be able to drive – he approves – and I issue a Tiwi card that he needs to log in when he drives.

At the end of each month, the senior driver of each vehicle sends me his “Weekly Vehicle Report” with each of the fuel receipts he’s accumulated during the month. They each have a fuel credit card for gas. I then enter each of those (typically about 300+ receipts) in the system so that it gets paid.

I give a driving safety, backing up instruction, etc. training to each new missionary when they first arrive and then a follow-up briefing after they’ve been here for a few weeks.

I often take calls from missionaries at all hours on all seven days per week.  They are to be in their apartments by 9:30 pm and not leave until 9:30 am so not many calls in that timeframe.  But their P-Day is Mondays, when I’m working, and my P-Day is Saturday when they’re out working.  So I need to have my phone on me all the time to take their calls.  I especially need to have it in case they have an accident.

We have 3-4 administrative vehicles (a pickup, a minivan, a larger van, and the President’s car).  We also have a trailer that we use when we transport missionaries (every six weeks lots of missionaries are transferred from one area to a new area; we get new missionaries in about every six weeks and have ones departing then as well and their luggage.  I take personal responsibility for each of those vehicles as well as maintenance, fueling, tires, etc.
Every six weeks we have what we call the “transfer train”.  This is when the Mission President has decided that he wants to exchange missionaries around the mission. I get involved in the transport of those missionaries around the mission.

I help Elder Floyd from time to time when he has to move furniture around the mission but he does most of that with his wife.

It’s a little strange but OK for those times when I need some secretarial help like typing up labels or something and I give such work to your Mom since she is the Mission Secretary.  She doesn’t report to me but I do ask for her help from time to time like I would any regular secretary.  Kind of strange to ask my wife to do that.  But I think it’s OK.

I have 78 vehicles in the mission that I’m responsible for.  Each vehicle has a folder that I keep up to date.  From time to time we sell vehicles and that’s also my job.  The Church will tell me which vehicles to pull off-duty and the price, then I prep them for sale, advertise them, and do most of the paperwork for sale. 

We have Mission Leader Council meetings every month.  I don’t have much to do with those but your Mom and the other Senior Sisters are assigned to prepare meals for them (it’s the President and wife, the Zone Leaders, and the District Leaders (young missionaries); about 30 people or so.  I help to set up tables, set the tables, serve, and clean up. We have a Mission President Staff meeting every few weeks.  That’s the Mission President and wife, the Senior Missionaries, and sometimes the Assistants to the President. 

Now for “off the job” stuff we do. 
Mom and I get up about 6:15 am.  We go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00.

Mom and I attend Ward Council every Sunday at 7:00-8:15 am.  Most of the discussion is actually about people as it should be.  We get involved with less-active members but certainly not all of them!  We have about 150-200 less-actives in the ward!  We are mainly working with Jake, with the Godenez’, Jeff Johnston, and Carol Ramos.  Every Tuesday night we attend and participate in a Ward Book of Mormon class.  This is a group mainly for less active members and investigators.  It’s also attended by the Ward Mission Leader (he leads it), the Ward Executive Secretary, the two Sister MIssionaries assigned to the Ward (Sister Jones and Sister Hopkins), and the less-actives. 
I’m in contact with Jake every day.  Probably average ½ hour per day.  We’re trying now to get him into a detox facility.  I’ve spent several hours with him at his place, in the hospital, taking to church (Halleleujah!) helping to clean his room, and more.  Mom helps a great deal in this as well but I take the Lead.

We stopped over to see Carol Ramos (non-member) today but caught her at a bad time so didn’t get in.  She’s a Jehovah Witness, has cancer, and won’t seek medical help due to her faith.  We will continue to try to meet with her until/unless she tells us to stay away!

Jeff Johnston is a recovering member alcoholic and is very outgoing and friendly guy. 

Mom has been better than me on near-daily exercise.  But I plan to start regular daily exercise tomorrow.

Mom and I start every day (after breakfast) with prayer together – and we end each day the same way as well.  Each of us have our own private prayers on our individual schedules as well.  We also so far do our personal scripture study/reading on our own but I want to start scheduling together-time with the scriptures also.
We participated in a YW Girls-Camp fund raining event, mainly paying admission to a spaghetti dinner, and then buying some dessert at an auction afterwards.  We’ve been to an Elders Quorum party because we thought we’d be taking Jake to it but he pooped out on us.  I’ve taught two HPG Sunday lessons. Mom has taught one RSs lesson. And we’ve both given Sacrament talks.  The Bishop and I have counseled several times specifically about Jake. We’ve been to two Stake temple trips to Los Angeles and have driven both times.  The last one was to take the Godenez’s to do baptisms for the dead. That was great.

We have attended Zone Conferences once to give driving instructions and another time to receive training from Elder Hamula (Seventy) when he was visiting.  We have attended a few dinners at the President’s home when he just had us Seniors over to get to know each other and once to informally meet with Elder Hamula.
I’ve advised President and Sister Felix on what they might consider for 72-hour packs for the missionaries.  Not resolved yet. 

We have a Mission orientation booklet for all missionaries here.  It was started about 2 years ago and your Mom and I read it and had some suggestions to improve/update it.  The other Seniors got involved as well and so now we have a newly updated booklet at the presses as I write! I do love to edit!  Sister Felix is a great woman but doesn’t really like to be corrected so she wasn’t really keen on making this update but she did and it’s a better book.  I could tell she was a little uneasy with my edits – there were actually quite a few!  You know me – I couldn’t resist!

I sort of think it’s a sin that we’ve committed that we haven’t been to the beach swimming since we got here nor have I been in the swimming pool here yet!  Should I confess this to President Felix!!??

You asked about Ted as one of those we were teaching.  Actually we met with him but the Sisters were teaching him.  They decided that he was just socializing, maybe with them since they’re girls, but they dropped him.

Attached are a couple pictures from our P-Day fun at the local Strawberry Festival. We dressed casual and went with the Floyds. We had fun.  Do you like Mom and Lavonne (Sister Floyd) in their new hats?  They’re both really cute aren’t they?  We get along well with them.

Saturdays are our P-Days.  We've gone to the LA temple twice.  We've gone to a quaint village called Ojai (pronounced oh' - hi).  About a half-hour away. We've been further afield to Solvang, a town with rich Scandinavian history.  We helped with that big community dental assistance day.

Jon, Summer, Josie, and Wyatt visited with us this week as well.  What fun it was.  We didn’t go out, like to the beach or anything, like we kind of thought we might do, but we had so much fun visiting with them and playing with them here at our apartment.  Wyatt is just naturally a fun and easy-tempered boy.  He’s quick to smile and laugh.  At one time, I was laying on the floor with him and he had hold of my hair.  Whenever I kind of shook my head and growled a bit, he just had a terrific belly-laugh.  Sort of sounded like Josh did when he was that age.  Jon and Summer are such great parents.  We found out that even if the biological mother wants to, and is qualified to, take Wyatt back, it will be at least a 6-month period before that could happen.  So it looks like they will have Wyatt for quite a while at least. 

It’s so nice to have a 2-bedroom apartment and we can house any of our family who may be able to come out.  We also have a hide-a-bed in the living room for more sleeping room. 

I think of the obstacles we’ve seen in our lives and how they’ve been overcome all of which made it possible to be on, and continue on, our mission here.  The same really applies to all of our family in their own worlds. I thought I would list them as I see them and how Heavenly Father helped remove them or solve them.  I've thought of blessings we've seen since we started our mission. Some directly related to Mom and me, some for our family, and some for others around us.  See below:

1.       Obstacle: Kurt Jewkes backing out of the lease at a critical time. 
a.       Solution.  We networked among lots of friends.  We got Jared Flandro who is proving to be a much better tenant that Kurt, for both the house and Maggie.
2.       We had three vehicles to sell and one to buy.
a.       Solution:  We sold one to Rolando which was a good deal for him and we did him a favor with it. We sold one to a friend in the Ward which was a great deal for her.  We sold the third to a neighbor-ward member at a good deal.  We found the Sienna at just the right moments and price. [Note: this was all done in just 8 days – remarkable!]
3.       Mom’s jaw infection that started before our mission.
a.       I gave her a Priesthood blessing telling her it would not interfere with her mission schedule.  Stake President also blessed her.  It was worrying even at the MTC but it did not interfere with her mission schedule and it has gone away without any bad effects.
4.       My concern for Maggie’s care.
a.       Flandro’s appear to be excellent caregivers for her and she is apparently feeling great.
5.       Henry getting cancer after we started our mission.  We felt we could have been in a perfect situation to have helped them if we weren’t on our mission.
a.       Solutions.
Seth’s Cheyenne Ward members stepped up gloriously to help them.  This has strengthened their good feelings in the Ward which they did not have before.  Good family connections and bonds have been made with Jeni’s family and friends as well as by them helping.
b.      Our faith and Seth’s faith in the divinity of our mission call was strengthened.  We never did waver in our faith but it was still heart-wrenching to go through it.
c.       Seth’s own family of them and the kids have had their own family ties strengthened by realizing how much they care for each other.
d.      Lots of people came through with faith in prayers for Henry and attendance at temples and putting Henry’s name on temple rolls as well as in Catholic prayers and Lutheran prayers including by their congregations.  Also included in prayers by non-members (thinking of Rolando and Cheri’s congregation).
6.       Jeremy needing to get a day job to be so as to be with Kristin.
                                            Solution.  He got a new job with better pay and day hours so he can spend time with Kristin.                                 Came about through his own efforts as well as Krisitn in need of solution to her own job                                         situation.
a.       Solution.  Through faith, consulting with Mom and me and others, she prayed and got answer to get new job.  It was offered to her and is much much better.  The job offer came within a day of her boss dying which would have had a major effect on her job.
7.       Bryan not satisfied with his current job
a.       Ended up being contested for by three entities!  Not sure what current status is but his possibilities are all good, better, or best!
8.    One failure: I prayed on one specific day to be given an opportunity for missionary work directly.
a.       A solution:  I prepared with the correct missionary pamphlet, had it with me, had a missionary business card with me, had an opportunity with a man during a P-Day of ours, and just failed to really connect with him.  But God gave me the opportunity.
9.   Jake Miller needed help desperately from friends to help him get through his addiction recovery times.
a.       Solution: he has his mother who is supporting him.  He has the EQ President helping him a lot. He has a recovered alcoholic Church member helping him (who’s a little rough on him sometimes).  He has Mom and me as new friends.  I know he is one of whoever God had it in mind for me to meet on this mission.  He’s a work in progress.

10.   Our new converts, Anthony and Loreen; Loreen has had a sore shoulder for some time.  Anthony asked me to give her a Priesthood blessing.  I did so.  She says her shoulder feels much better now.

Well, this turned into an epistle sort of but ………
Love you.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Los Angeles Temple day

New assistants in the office:  Elder Boyce and Elder Kuepper

Saturday we took a trip to the Los Angeles Temple: 

Anthony & Lorrene Godinez.  They were baptized last month.  They came to the LA Temple with us to do service for others (baptisms).

Pretty flowers on the temple grounds.

Statues on temple grounds:

At the temple Visitors Center:

After going to the temple, we went to a mall for lunch and we saw a Tesla dealership.  We went to look at the fun cars.  

Dad pulling out his wallet to see if he had enough money to buy one!

This is construction of them adding on to the mall.

These are beautiful trees along the roads in town.  These are Jacaranda Trees and they look like huge lilac trees.  There are so many of them along the roads.  

Letter directed to the grandkids:

Saturday Grandpa and I went down to Los Angeles to go to the temple. It is only about an hour from here but we have to go on a busy highway and there are so many people it usually takes an hour and a half or two hours to get there. There are 6 lanes of cars going one direction and 6 lanes going the other direction and it is always full. But we have mostly just been on it on Saturdays so I hear it is busy on weekdays also.  The grass is turning brown/yellow since they have a water shortage and so are not watering the grass on the temple grounds. But it still is pretty out there. They have a big pool of water out front and there are flowers all around the pool. The pool is only about 6-10 inches deeps but looks so pretty and peaceful.
We took 3 other people with us. Two of the people are married and their names are Anthony and Lorrene and they were baptized last month so could not go in  the temple yet but could do baptisms. So grandpa baptized and we were in the water being baptized for other people. They really loved it and was so special for them.
After that we went to the visitor’s center and saw lots of church videos there. Some were about families and some about temples and some videos about Joseph smith and Jesus. It was good to watch those videos.
Outside they have statues of children and mom and dads with their children. They are kind of small about 18 inches tall not like the large ones in Nauvoo. But so pretty. 

On the way home we stopped at a mall to have some lunch and inside the mall was a car dealer and they sold really fast cars called Tesla. They go really fast and do not use gas but are electric. So you plug them in at night to charge them.
Grandpa got his wallet out to see if he could buy one but they are too expensive for us now. Smile
WE took a different road back home and it was called the PCH. Pacific Coast highway. The road down to Los Angeles was 6 lanes of cars but this road on the way back only had one lane each direction but it was along the coast and so we could see the beaches and people in the water and swimming and surfing. Really pretty along there. One of the men who came with us grew up here in California and he told us one part of the highway has lots of big homes and some were of actors and famous people. We did not see any famous people but he said Will Smith and Cher and Brad Pitt and Alex Ballwin and a few others all live along that highway. But fun to see all the sights.

Grandpa went out today to help a man who is getting out of the hospital and then taking him to his apt. WE did his laundry last week while he was in the hospital so that will be good to have all clean clothes. We are visiting a lady tonight we wants to know more about the church so we are going over to her house and teaching her about Jesus and Joseph Smith. Then later tonight we have our Book of Mormon class. We have about 10-12 people come to that. Some teenagers came last time so that was good.

We are making a book for each new missionary coming to California, and so the mission President and his wife decided to make a new book for each of the missionaries already here so I ordered 250 booklets. There are 40 pages and 3 pages in color and a spiral binding on them. They are about $7 each so I hope we will get a discount and can get them cheaper. But hard for me to spend that much money. So I hope they all turn out super nice.

Grandpa and I are doing really well and staying busy during the day and most nights. WE try to do some exploring in different towns around here on our day off on Saturday so we can see more things. Last Saturday we went to Los angles and the temple but did not go down town much. But we did go to Rodeo drive where they are expensive stores. We just drove by down the street and did not get out to see many things, but it was fun.

Then the Saturday before we went to Solvang and saw old fashion towns like are in Norway and Sweden.  We went in lots of stores and saw some of the same things we saw in Norway. One of the stores had a big statue of a Danish Viking and he had his arms crossed in front of him and looked like he had a serious, stern look on his face. So Grandpa folded his arms and I took a picture of him looking like the Viking. We went to another store and they had jewelry for different parts of the world. Some of them were amber stones and so pretty. They had a chess set made of amber stones. Amber is yellowish gold in color. And then another thing was a small tree and instead of leaves they had amber stones. Then they also had some other jewelry made of some mineral that are only in the Dominican Republic, so really rare jewelry.
We went to lunch at a restaurant called the Red Viking. They had Danish meatballs, meat loaf, and potato salad, cole slaw, pickled herring, pickled beets, rolls and other good foods. Reminded me of foods we had when we were growing  up. They also had a dessert called Aebleskiver and they are like a donut but all in a ball and then they spread raspberry sauce and powdered sugar on them. Can’t eat a lot of those but they are really good. Taste like donuts.

That day we took a new box spring to some missionaries and also a couch and lamp and a desk for them. Sometimes those things break and we replace them.
We had 7 new missionaries come in last week and when the new missionaries come the Mission President likes to take them to a high point in the area and there is a huge cross up there but they can also see for miles in almost all 4 directions. So I got to drive 4 Elders up there this last week and was fun to go up there so high up and see out over the ocean and city and houses. On a nice clear day we can see over the ocean and there are three islands close by that are fun to see. The islands are still miles out but from high on top of the hill you can see them. So the missionaries go to this high place and the Mission President asked that they put all their effort into their missionary work. There is a small ledge around this cross area so the Mission President has the new missionaries stand on the ledge and jump about 6 inches down to the concrete. So not much of a jump but symbolic saying I am all in and committed to this mission. They love it.

We have a zone activity days coming up this next week. Each missionary is to find out where their ancestors came from and then dress in that type of clothing and then tell a story about one of their ancestors. The Mission president had not invited us senior missionaries to come until last week so now wants us to go and bring a story and come in some sort of costume from that country that our ancestors came from. Wow not sure what to wear so will have to work on that for a while.

We were asking if we have Memorial Day off from work but I guess we work that day also. And the 4th of July so no holidays for us!! Not sure what kind of work we will do since most offices will be closed. Oh well I am sure we will find things to do.

Love you so much!!!
Love you and sending hugs and kisses!!
Gramma Diane