Friday, July 29, 2016

Just an update on what we're doing

29July 2016
Dear Family,
We are truly having a greater time than we even expected as we recognize our five-month mark today of our mission.  How fast these past five months have flown by!  I suppose it will feel the same a year from now when we only have one more month to go! We feel totally welcomed into our new ward (Ca Ventura Stake, Ventura 1st Ward) here now and are even getting to know most of the people by name!  The ward is very focused on both non-member missionary work as well as shepherding less-actives back into the fold.  “Shepherding” is the new buzz-word from our Stake Presidency throughout the stake. We, along with two Mission-assigned proselyting missionaries, attend the weekly Ward Council Meeting.  We have an active list of about 8 investigators and several more less-active members that we all minister to. 

We actively interact with our two full-time missionaries, our Ward Mission Leader (Brother Joe Dee Kay), and our three Ward Missionaries as we teach and otherwise fellowship our investigating and less-active brothers and sisters.  Sister Jones and Sister Hopkins were the first two missionaries we interacted with.  Then Sister Coulon took Sister Hopkins’ place.  We have the 6-week transfers coming up Tuesday next week so I expect we’ll lose both Sisters and have two Elders.  We’ve had three investigators baptized since we’ve been here and one of our new investigators – Devin Hansen - accepted a baptism commitment for August 20th in our lesson last week! He also just reconfirmed that commitment last night in a lesson! He also agreed to give up coffee and tea for the coming week!  He’s had alcohol and drug problems in the past but has given them up and is attending AA meetings.  This is such a problem in this area and we’re so glad that Devin is already taking these steps. We just returned from a Stake Pioneer Day musical to which we brought five of these brothers and sisters. 

Sister Iverson and I interact with such a variety of people here.  In the course of our normal mission duties, 90% of the people we interact with are those with strong and vibrant testimonies, i.e., the young full-time missionaries as well as fellow senior missionaries.  But in the course of our “off-duty” activities like shopping, the “free spirits” here come in a wide variety of hair colors and lengths, piercings, tattoos, etc.  Tattoo shops and liquor stores are more common here than grocery stores!  Drug and alcohol addiction is way too common here; as a measure of this, an alcoholic trying to recover can literally find an AA meeting to go to here in our town nearly 24 hours per day.  Sister Iverson and I have become way more informed in matters and facilities pertaining to drug and alcohol addictions and recovery than we would like to be. It’s really common here to have skate-boarders on the streets; I think it’s partly due to people losing their licenses due to those alcohol/drug problems! 

A cultural difference here as well is the overall casualness of the living here.  Many of our friends are truly beach-goers and lots, including our Stake President, are devoted surfers!  We had dinner with our HPG Leader last evening.  He greeted us at the door dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian-type shirt and joked about not letting anyone in the house if they were wearing a tie (like I was)! 

Sadly, one of our less-active members, Jake,  that we have become very close to has now been transferred from the hospital to a local hospice since his doctor has told him that he has a 70% chance of dying in the next 90 days!  His condition is entirely due to drinking.  His liver is mostly dead. The hospice is a place for people with terminal illnesses to go to live out their days in relative comfort with sufficient pain medication management.  BUT this dear friend also has a 30% chance to live as well!!  Our task is now two-fold; give him gospel knowledge and help him develop testimony so that he can decide to either be at peace with death or to fight to live longer.  But is that not all of our goals here; to live now so that if death comes unexpectedly tomorrow we are ready?

We do dearly love our young missionaries who we support in Sister Iverson’s mission secretarial duties and me with my vehicle support duties.  My worst fear is to take a call from a missionary who has had a serious accident.  I have 74 vehicles in my mission fleet and it is a fun challenge to work with the Elders, Sisters, and Hermanas (Spanish-speaking Sisters) to keep those vehicles maintained and repaired. More than that, each vehicle has a GPS system called “tiwi” (literally “teenager independent witness”) installed which helps the driver to drive more safely with verbal warnings of speeding, aggressive driving, and fastening seatbelts.   Driving missions like ours get a “Red-Yellow-Green” report every six weeks which tells us if any of our young driving missionaries have had enough tiwi warnings to get themselves into a yellow (warning) or red (no longer allowed to drive) status.  It’s rare for a mission of our size to get 100% green (happened only once in the year and a half prior to our start here) but our missionaries have ”gone green” two reporting periods in a row!  I am so proud of them for this!

It’s been so great to have Christian’s and Jon’s come to visit us since we’ve been here.  We’ve even discovered some new beaches and “tourist-y” places to go since they were here!  With our spare bedroom and the hideaway bed/couch in the living room, staying here is very do-able.  The water here has now warmed up enough that we can go swimming without being in wetsuits.  However, we have availability of several extra wetsuits if anyone wants to use one.  Mom and I are planning to go to the beach again this Saturday during the day – maybe take Jake with us - and then going to an out-door play with the Floyd’s at a neighboring town called Ojai (Oh-hi).

We have taught lessons in Priesthood and Relief Society and our missionary Book of Mormon class, but we have also recently received new callings.  The Church is right in the midst of a change in the old “Stake Employment Centers” program to a new program more accurately called the Stake Self Reliance Center or something like that.  We’ve been called as the new Stake Self Reliance Center Coordinators.  This change is so new that when Sister Iverson logged in and was immediately given admin rights as the Stake Self Reliance Center Coordinator, our local priesthood authority said she was the first in the nation to do so!  I followed shortly after that!  We have a room in the Stake Center for this work and it is literally dusty from non-use and we will be getting it set up for such work.  We will also be coordinating with the Family History Center for use of their computers for job search work when the Family History Center is “off-duty”.  We are now taking the approach with Bishops like as if we are acting in the normal style of Stake LDS Employment Specialists; we will be inviting them to 1) call a brother or sister as a Ward Employment Specialist, 2) include that Specialist to an occasional Ward Council Meeting to report on job needs and encourage members to look for employment opportunities, and, 3) the most important action a person looking for a job can do now is to log into and register. We can help with that.  We are part of this pilot project with the Self Reliance program and it’s exciting.  We are truly living in really really great times!

Our primary duties keep us in the Mission Office perhaps 75% of the time, but we also get out into the other parts of the mission.  Our CA Ventura mission stretches about 180 miles north-south from just barely north of Los Angeles to Paso Robles and ~50 miles east-west.  We have seen major mountain-side fires, one of which (Santa Clarita) has had 37,000+ acres burned as of this morning and is going on right now and is extremely serious.   

We’ve attended the Los Angeles Temple twice on Stake temple trips but it is closed now for upgrading.  I’ll be curious to see if the temple does some xeriscaping; they have turned off the irrigation water for the turf due to the continuing drought that California is experiencing.  Our Ward actively works to getting new converts or returning less-active members to the temple as soon as they can to do baptisms for the dead so they can start getting more priesthood ordinance experience as well as gain stronger testimonies of the wide-reaching plan of salvation for all of God’s children.  I’m thinking strongly of xeriscaping our house front yard when we return.  

If you have influence over any teenagers in your wards – or maybe even in your own family!!! - we would encourage all youth in high school to start now getting experience in all the skills we have been teaching for years.  Some are vehicle skills and some are just life skills.  In our driving mission it is so great to have youth arrive here with: driving skills, obeying the highway laws, how to not only back up a vehicle safely but learning how to be outside helping the driver back up safely, basic vehicle maintenance skills such as checking the oil, checking tire air pressure, knowing where to check fluids (coolant, oil, brake, window washer, etc.), and how to keep a vehicle clean inside and outside. Basic life skills include: being obedient, learning the concept of “return and report”, using a planner, keeping living quarters clean, budgeting (here the Sisters get $140/month and the Elders get $135/month), and more.  They need to know how to keep living quarters clean, i.e., run the dishwasher at least weekly even if not washing dishes, same for clothes washer and dryer, clean sinks, toilets, etc., make beds, wash dishes, pick up clothes, be on time, make conversation, talk with strangers, etc. 

In driving missions like ours, it makes the Mission President’s job of pairing up missionaries so much easier when missionaries come to the mission with driving experience, no violations, and they’ve submitted their required documents. 

BTW, on or about September 5th, Mitchell and Haley Bruce will be moving into our house and the Flandro’s will be moving out.  Anna, thank you so much for just managing this sort of thing for us.  We know Flandro’s have been great tenants and Maggie will miss them!  Bruce’s will be here for USU classes so will probably attend a student married ward but we don’t know that for sure.  Bishop Carter is trying to find a house for Flandro’s to live in within the Ward boundaries; that would be fun.

 Our missionaries teach a concept called “CPR”; stands for three basic things we should all do – (attend) Church, Pray, Read (the scriptures).   As mission prep considerations for your church youth or your own kids, they will learn on their mission about putting together “messages” but it’s handy to have some lessons always ready to go for both investigators as well as for active members when you’ve been invited for dinner.

If you ever have a chance to talk to Church members who are say 50 years old or older, please pass this on.  For our “seasoned” members contemplating Senior Missions, I’d recommend for all those 50 years old and older to start preparing now.  Mainly this includes financial and health preparations.  There is such a wide variety of missions now for Seniors that most members could serve one kind of mission or another and everything from 3 months to 23 months.  Having senior missionaries has a huge positive effect and we desperately need more and more of our seniors to accept such callings and they will never feel more needed and invigorated.  It is a refreshing and vibrant experience to do what we do and we so much wish for similar blessings to extend to others.  Within our mission we have couples doing: mission president, vehicles, secretary, housing, finance, referrals, nurse, baptism records, mission leader support, and CES.    

We have heard it taught by General Authorities that seniors on missions receive not only personal blessings but blessings extended to their families as well.  We have most certainly seen that come true for us with you and your kids.  We have seen significant and tangible blessings of many of you going from reasonable employment to better employment to outstanding employment; especially outstanding in these days low employment.  We have seen Seth’s family increase their loving involvement with their new ward exponentially.  We have just seen Henry deal not only with his chemo but with the brand-new successful surgery.  You all have reported added love and unity within your own families since we started our mission and some of you have attributed it to discussions from your kids about Gma and Gpa being on their mission.  We know that such blessings come about not only because of us being on our missions – you make these things happen in your lives by your actions as well. 

We’ve been reminded of this by Elder Packer’s message to Mission Presidents of: “It’s going to be alright. Your affairs are going to be all right.  Your children will be all right and your grandchildren and your home and your holdings.  All have been placed on the altar and they are watched over by more faithful servants that we could have in mortality.”  We’ve certainly had this reinforced to us recently with my experience at our Stake setting apart.

As strong as we’ve felt our testimonies have been in the past, our feelings of love and respect for Christ to atone for our sins and extend his love to us and to our brothers and sisters has increased by leaps and bounds.  The work of the gospel needs to go forth with more intensity than ever.

We love Jesus Christ and are so grateful for His love and sacrifice for us.  What a courageous man Joseph Smith was for which we are so grateful as well as for the succession of prophets since Brother Joseph.  We’re so glad the Book of Mormon was brought forth in our day and that we have prophetic leadership now.  Satan is working as vigorously as he’s ever worked and we need to continue to work energetically against him.
All our love,
Elder and Sister Iverson
G-ma and G-pa Iverson!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hi from mom

Hi all, 

We have a missionary discussion tonight. We're going with the sister missionaries and teaching a young man. So that's kind of exciting. 

Anna asked if we have the Monday off , but no we are working on pioneer day. The church headquarters and computer system will be down. So I'm not certain if I'll have much work to do on Monday. But there's always mail to sort and letters to print out. But dad will probably be busy with his car things. The missionaries are still driving on that day. We were kind of teasing each other in the office that may we get our work done in the morning and then take the afternoon off and go to the beach. Ha ha but we probably won't do that. But Elder Floyd in the office has some kidney stones and so he has had some of them pulverized a few weeks ago. And now he's going to have the other side done Monday. So we have been teasing him, that he's going to really go down to the beach after his procedure. But I don't think he'll have the energy to want to do that either.

1 August we have our 23 new missionaries coming in. So we've been getting their packets ready for them. We give them a large laundry bag and a quilt and sheets and a blanket and pillows. All the things needed for bedding while they're here and they get to keep it or take it home after the mission. But putting together those 23 bags of bedding for each missionary is quite a fun little project. And then we have orientation for those new missionaries so I get all those packets already for them and all the things that they need to fill out. 
But even before that we have rented another 12 passenger van just to pick them all up from the airport. We have a six passenger pick up truck and a 15 passenger van that pulls a trailer that we put all their luggage in, and then we rented the new van so that we can have space for all of them.

They will all go to their new companions that first day because there's not enough room in the Mission home for all of them. Then they'll meet at the Mission home the next day and have breakfast. And then I go and pick them up from the Mission home and bring them over to the Mission Office probably only about 5 to 6 miles away. But I help do the shuttle and then we'll have lunch ready for them and then have orientation meeting for them. So it's exciting to have them come! Busy time when we get the missionaries. Then the next day is transfer day so that is super busy. Dad and Elder Floyd are the ones that take the big vans around to pick up missionaries from different areas and drop them off at other locations and so they're gone almost all day On transfer day picking up and dropping off missionaries. Sister Floyd and I are in the office having the missionaries turn in apartment keys that they're leaving and getting the new apartment keys to the new missionaries will be going into their apartments and they exchange phones. It is just a busy time in the office for us. 

Then the third day, or 3 August we have departures and we have about 16 missionaries leaving. Sad to see them go, but I know their families are pretty excited to see them return home! The Floyds and us take them to the airport. But enjoying the experience and loving the missionaries, and loving our mission.

We're learning more about our new  stake self reliance calling. We got a phone call from the church headquarters man that explains some of our duties a bit more. It will definitely keep us busy. But excited to get started and help people get the education that they need, or training or helping them find jobs.
We will start having classes in the evenings to help people learn how to write resumes. Or to help them find out where to go for training, or teach them different classes that they may need in their life. One of the big things will be computer skills teaching them how to be on the computer and fill out applications, or even just to be more skilled on the computer. Never thought I would be teaching the computer class others but good experience good opportunities.

Our talks on the pioneers went really well we had about 150 people there. Dad talked about Iverson background of how everybody is a pioneer in our own way and How the Iverson's helped us to be pioneers. and I talked about our Norwegian and German ancestors and they're coming to the United States. And then how each of us can be pioneers in our own way. Starting and continuing on our own family traditions. But it was a great time and had a good time with people. A lot of them came up afterwards and shared their stories about their pioneer ancestors.

Well better get going for the day. We're going to take our P day on Saturday and deliver some mattresses to A new apartment. So may do some exploring along the way. 

Love you all! Hope you have a great day and a super weekend love you also very much!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Christian & Suzi's visit

Pictures from Christian & Suzi's visit:  

This is an angel shark that someone caught from the pier on the day we were out there:


From Mom

Slow Friday in the office so decided to write you a letter. Smile

Dear Family,
We had a good 4th of July. We were kind of busy but had a good time.
We had a ward pancake breakfast and flag ceremony. We sang a few songs and had a good breakfast. We had pancakes, eggs and sausage and watermelon. Two wards so lots of people. They had plain and chocolate chip pancakes.

We were then invited to the mission president’s home for lunch and had BBQ spare ribs, corn on the cob, watermelon, pasta salad and I made homemade rolls. We were there and played a few games and talked with the other senior missionaries – about 14 of us now.
Then after lunch we went to a friend’s house for another BBQ.  I brought potato salad and lemonade to that one. Just a few of us there but fun talking and getting to know others. A new couple was there and they just moved here from South Carolina so fun to talk to them. The man is a residential appraiser. And her mom lives here so they moved here to be closer to her and help her as her health is not very good. So not sure how long they will be here, but fun to get to know them. Then we went back to the apt for a bit and cleaned up and washed clothes. Then about 8pm we headed to the college close by to watch fireworks with some friends. We brought popcorn, and others brought watermelon and homemade root beer, and cookies. So we had all sorts of treats. The fireworks were really nice and about 20 minutes. So a fun filled 4th of July. Also remembering all our family and others who served our country.

Dad and I are giving talks at a tri stake single adult fireside on July 17th. It was supposed to be on the 24th but they had a conflict of the building. So that is good. So we will be talking about our pioneer ancestors and how we are all pioneers. But I have some good stories so hope it all goes well.

We have met with Jeff Johnston and he is such a fun guy. He is the typical surfer guy who has now gotten older and realized he missed a lot from not going to church. So he is having the missionary discussions, but he is a member already. He has the Melchizedek priesthood.  But has not been to church for many years so just needs to learn more. He is ready and anxious to learn as much as he can. He has a calling in the ward and is greeter and then also to help every week cleaning the church building and calling people to remind them to come clean. He is a really great guy – probably about 36. Jake is back in the hospital with his drinking problems and one nurse said he did not have much longer to live but then today he was moved out of the icu so not sure what is happening. We called his mom in Florida so she is going to fly up here and see him. So hope that will help him and maybe get motivated to keep working on no more drinking. He has come to church a few times but is sick many of the times, so leaves early or does not want us to pick him up. 

Then we have Fred who is so excited to be baptized. His last name is Ward and he said this the place I need to be since it is called a ward. Smile But the sisters just saw him on the street one day and asked if he wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon and he said sure. Right away he loved everything they were teaching him. He is being baptized July 23. He has called all his family to come to the baptism and many are coming and some even flying in here from other states. He put it on facebook too. So fun having him in Sunday school class.

They started having missionary dinners for us now. So we have people invite us over one time a week to get to know us and them more. So last night we went to the Bishop’s home for dinner and was fun to learn more about them. He is Bishop  Chris Hooke. But an interesting story about him and his family. Their family name is really Hooker but they have 3 daughters and did not want them to have to worry about their last name as they got to be teens. So they talked to his parents and other siblings and asked if they wanted to change their last name. The parents understood so agreed, and a brother said yes. They were trying to figure out a name they all could have and maybe keep the first initial of H. But one brother liked the name of Thomas but Bishop Hooke already had a son named Thomas so did not want him to have the name Thomas Thomas. So decided to just drop the last letter R and they could be Hooke. But the one brother still liked Thomas so now Bishop Hooke has a brother with the last name of Thomas. And his parents kept the name Hooker and his sister got married so changed her name when she got married. So we told them they better do their genealogy and keep it updated so others do not have to sort through all that. Smile!  It will be fun to go to the member’s homes and learn about them more.

Not sure if you all knew but Christian and Suzi and family came out this past weekend. They got here Friday evening so got here in time for dinner and talked. Then Saturday we went to the beach and got bogie boards and borrowed some wet suits. Some wore the wet suits but after a while the water felt good and so took off the wet suits. The kids did a great job with the bogie boards and loved “surfing” on them. We did not have surf boards but fun riding the waves in. I even was in the water and on the bogie board and bouncing in the waves. Really fun. Mostly had sun screen on the right places, but with us in and out of the water some was washed off. But mostly Christian got a pink back. He was wearing a wet suit most of the time then took it off and forgot to put sun screen on. But he loved the water. Suzi and Christian were riding the waves most of the time. Then cleaned up back at the apt and went out to dinner at a BBQ place we wanted to try. Then back to the beach for some sunset pictures and walk along the shore. We don’t have many sea shells, so picked up broken pieces of what shells we could find.

Then Sunday went to church and the young men and young women do not have very large classes so were excited to have visitors to add to the classes. In the afternoon we went out to the pier and walked out there to see many people fishing and out for a Sunday afternoon stroll. We actually saw a seal along the beach. It was first swimming by some of the people out in the water. They probably did not even know it was there, but then went to the other side and went up on the shore to sun himself. Fun to see. Then back to the beaches to see the sunsets.

Monday we took the day off from work and so we went to a different beach and played in the sand and played on the bogie boards. Fun day just playing in the water and sand. Then back to the condo and played in our pool a bit. Cleaned up and went to our office to introduce them to the Floyds, who we work with and tell them all about our family so wanted to see who we are talking about. Then we went to the fruit stand to get some fresh fruit and meet Juan, my fruit man! He is a great guy and love his help in picking the right fruit. Then home for dinner family home evening and then out for yogurt and the beach for more sunsets. Smile! We had a great time and think we showed them some fun things and played in the water. Hopefully it was relaxing for them as we had fun with them all here.
We went to work in the office Tuesday and they left Tuesday morning. Fun weekend.

Tuesday we had the Missionary leadership conference (MLC) and so we had pulled pork sandwiches. I had cooked the pork before the kids got here so had that all cooked and ready to reheat. Then had baked beans and my scalloped baked corn, watermelon, chips and blueberry cobbler. The missionaries loved it and had some leftover so was fun to take some home for dinner later. No blueberry cobbler left over but that was good they liked it all.

We started doing missionary apartment inspections. So went out today with the Floyds to show us what to look for and how to grade them. So we start doing that next week. I will take some cookies or donuts to the missionaries as we go inspect their apartments. You know… just a “treat” to see us!!

Had a fun phone call from a missionary who is coming to the mission in a few weeks. He asked if he could, bring his lacrosse stick to the mission. I told him no weapons were allowed and he just laughed, but told him no he could not bring it.  Also too much equipment to bring with it.

I have a list on the computer of all the missionaries who are coming to the mission and when and so my list was long – about 42, but the next day it went down to 17 as 25 of them had just entered the MTC! So all 25 of them will get here August 1st so busy time. I get packets all ready for them – emergency information, orientation booklets, papers to update with family addresses and emails, etc. and then they write a short letter to their parents and I sent a picture of them when they arrive here in the letter. Then also we give the new missionaries bedding to use for their whole mission – mattress pads, sheets, pillow, blanket and quilt and a large bag to put it all in. So we put those in the hall but has been full when we have 12 coming so will be really full when we have 25 young missionaries arrive to pick up the bedding bags. But fun exciting times when those new ones come.

We also feed them lunch that day so I think I am going to keep it simple and sub sandwiches – like the 6 foot one so I do not have to cook as much! So with the 25 new ones we also get lunch for their new companions and so 25 more there, plus us office people, so about 60 of us. So probably a few 6 foot subs. Smile.

Love you all and hope your week is going well.

Sorry Henry is back in the hospital and hope the blood transfusion helps and he can be home for a bit more. Sending prayers for you all.
Marcus did great on his end of 2nd year test and moves on to 3rd year medical school!! Yeah! Congratulations Marcus!
Bryan accepted a new job as chief engineer with the government. He skipped lead engineer and moved up to chief engineer. Working as boss now of his co workers. He starts the new position mid -August. Congratulations Bryan. 
Kristin continues to do well in her new job and does the appraising of homes, plus taking classes for residential appraising.
Josh is working a new job and works from home now so the kids love it while they are home in the summer. I think Josh likes it too. Carrie is out with Jessica for a week – playing and watching the kids and enjoying the summer in West Virginia for a week. Then she will go to be with Liz’s sister Kate for 3 or 4 weeks, being a nanny for her for a while. Allison did super on her horse completion and got 1st place in her group and 4th place individual!! Her bedroom wall is Full of wonderful ribbons and awards she has earned.
Jon and Summer have 3 little ones in their home and all under 2 years old. And an older girl. Josie will be 2 this Sunday but lots of little ones to love and take care of. You are doing a great service for those little ones.
Jessica, Anna, Summer, Jeni, Suzi, Liz  you all are doing super watching all the little ones and keeping them busy and happy over the summer.

Love you all so much!!!

From Dad

 I just don't know for sure what to think about Jake's condition. Tuesday night when I was at the hospital, he told me that his doctor had told him that he should probably start getting his things together, like in "get your affairs in order" since he was so seriously sick.  I also talked to his floor nurse who basically told me the same thing.  He even suggested that it would be a good idea for his mother to call him and maybe come out if she could. Pretty serious stuff.  So I contacted her and suggested she unblock her phone from receiving calls from Jake and she said she would fly out as soon as she could - she's coming here tomorrow.  Yesterday I found out that Jake was being transferred to a different part of the hospital - a part that is for less intensive care patients, i.e., a positive thing!  I went there last night to visit him.  He's looking better, not quite so jaundiced.  He told me then that his doctor has told him they hope to detox him enough to transfer him (no specific date or time-frame) from this hospital to a regular detox facility!  I understand that his condition coudl easily go form fair to critical when his liver is affected - if the liver really fails, toxins  can move form his liver to his kidneys and to other organs and turn fatally critical very quickly.  Oh well, we'll see.

It'll be fun tomorrow when we go to the Stake Youth Conference.  It's a missionary theme and several youth will play the role of full-time missionaries and several of us members will play different "investigator" roles with them.  We don't know which role (e.g., less-actives returning, inactive members with a grudge about the Church, investigators sort of off the street, etc.) but we'll do it.

Sunday night we and the Floyd's will be the speakers at a Single Adult fireside with the upcoming Pioneer Day as sort of theme.  I think Mom is going to relate some of her own personal history, her own pioneer ancestors, with a few stories.  i don't know what the Floyd';s will do.  I'm putting together a PowerPoint with some slides of my ancestors but with the overall message of "Who is a pioneer?" with the objective to help all those present not just look at ancestors in their pioneer roles but to understand that each of us, here and now, are pioneers in our own situations.  That our descendants will look upon us as pioneers in different ways. 

But for my talk, I plan to show a few photos of our family and how they are all pioneers -not just your mom and me - in their own ways.  I intend to take some photos of the single adults during the dinner before the fireside starts and then quickly inserting those photos into my PowerPoint and point out that they are also pioneers in similar ways in their own circumstances.  I see young people now as pioneers in such areas as the new ideas in the world we're coping with such as getting more solidly in the digital age, in solving new questions concerning social, sexual, and other situations of working with questions concerning transgender relationships, stem cell applications, how to deal in our new word of terrorist violence and how to find peace and safety under current world conditions, how to truly be preparing themselves and those around them for the impending Second Coming of Christ and His kingdom, and more.  I've only got 10-12 minutes so I hope I'm not cramming too much in!!!

We'll be in a "webinar" Wednesday next week to learn more about this new calling in the Stake "Self Reliance Center" (what used to be called the LDS Employment Center).  I do feel a little like a pioneer in this calling!!!  😬  However, the Stake Presidency is in the same boat as well!  As a result of this Stake calling, there's a funny spin-off.  Apparently it's a very odd thing for a full-time Senior Missionary to have a Stake calling and thus, we have "duel citizenship", i.e., have one foot in in both our home ward and one foot in our "mission ward".  We need to have membership in our home ward since it's through that ward that we pay our tithing and our monthly mission rent.  We also need membership in our mission ward so we can access the (mission) Stake membership lists for our callings.  This appears to be a difficult thing to do but we've solved it more or less I think.  I would have thought that this would have come up before with Senior Missionaries but I guess not.  Actually when we first came here, President Felix said that we would not be given ward (or stake) callings. I don't think he has an understanding of the level of work or commitment this calling has but it doesn't matter - God does!

Well, the others have arrived so I need to get on with my "day job"! 

Love you so much,


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fourth of July

 Fourth of July at President & Sister Felix's home

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Just catchin' up!

Wow, we have had a totally busy week!  Just for a change, and you've said you'd like to know with some detail, I thought I'd write about how a day has gone for me yesterday.  This week, we've had "Zone Conferences"which we do every six weeks. We are totally busy in the "non-spiritual" sort-of preparations for these things.  Anyway, here goes from yesterday for me.  It's not at all that Mom isn't equally busy, but this was my day yesterday.

(Thursday we got back from that day's Zone Conference at Santa Barbra (north of us, about like a trip to Brigham City).  Got back to the office and I spent a couple hours getting my papers ready for Friday's Zone Conference.  Friday's Zone Conference was in Camarillo, south of us, like going to Brigham City distance.  We've had a visitor from Salt Lake City, Bro. Russ Foutin; he's like my Church "boss" in the fleet management part of my mission.  He gave a 50-minute talk on vehicle safety three of the four days of Zone Conferences.  He had to leave on Friday so he asked me to give his talk at that Friday ZC.  So Thursday when we got back, I was busy putting together my notes from attending his talks so that I could give that talk. 

During all these Zone Conferences, we also have two technicians, Adam and Daniel, who are testing and upgrading very car's tiwi devices.  

I usually get up about 5:30/6:00.  I got up this morning a lot to go over my talk today.  We left the apartment about 7:40 to meet the Floyd's at the Mission Office and leave from there in a mission van for Conference. Arrived at the ZC church about 8:40; met with Bro. Foutin, Adam,and Daniel.  The ZC starts at 10:00 but the missionaries start arriving at 9:00 so that we have more time to test the tiwi's.

I'm in place to greet the incoming missionaries in their cars.  I greet them, check them off on my list of cars, give them an instruction sheet (which I made up previously) of how to leave their car parked.  I direct them to Sister Iverson who will tell them exactly where to park.  I do this until approximately 9:50 (all have arrived).  Previous to this in the morning, I was on the phone to one set of missionaries who are having car heating problems and who have to have their car at this ZC.  But I get them there OK.

I'm seated on the stand at 9:55.  I will be "on" at 10:10.  The meeting starts and soon I'm giving my 50-minute talk with Powerpoints and videos. Mom and the Floyd's have stopped doing their inspections of the cars outside to come inside to listen to me.  When I'm done, we all go back outside.

While the tiwi team is specifically doing their tiwi upgrading, Elder and Sister Floyd are a team and Mom and I are a team outside.  We do about a 30-point inspection of each car (check fluid levels, tire tread depth, tire air pressures, all lights, horn, interior orderliness and cleanliness, glove-box papers (instructions of what to do if in an accident, insurance forms, registrations, Daily Vehicle Report (gas expenses and logging of miles), and exterior for scratches, dings, etc.

While we do these car inspections, we're taking notes of ones that might earn our "Best Car in Conference" award.  We've made this up since we got here - it's a certificate with a little model car attached plus a KitKat candy bar.  One for each of the missionary companions who have that best car.  We confer, I look over the Floyd's and Mom's top picks and decide on a final winner.

Mom stops inspecting about 11:45 so she can go inside to work with Relief Society sisters with the lunch which they have put together for the missionaries.  Mom organizes this.  Floyd's and me go inside for lunch.  We take plates of lunch out to Adam and Daniel.  During the lunch period, President Felix has the missionaries all "serenade" the Relief Society sisters with "Called to Serve" as a thank you.  He then announces all missionaries who have had birthdays that month and we sing Happy Birthday to them.  Time is turned over to me to present Best Car in Conference awards - this is so fun!  The District group photos are taken.  I also take advantage of this time to take impromptu photos of the missionaries and talk to them casually.

Typically we do not attend the afternoon meetings but today Floyd's and us decide we'd like to take the time to listen to what's said.  It was Ok but our time was probably better spent outside finishing up our inspections.  I left the afternoon meetings early to see how our tiwi guys are doing.  They told me they'd be finishing up about 2;30 but at 2:05, I just felt like leaving the meeting early to see how they're doing. As I was walking out of the building to see them, Adam was walking in to find me - they had gotten done a little early,.  Nice coincidence!!??

With the tiwi guys leaving and all others inside, the cars are open with keys in them so I stay outside for security.  I took advantage of that time to make four calls to alcohol/drug detox facilities to see if we can find a place for Jake to go to.  Some success but not complete.  I have more calls to make next week.  I also made about 6 calls to missionaries from the previous ZC's who have called with car issues.  Pretty much solve them.

Mom and the Floyd's come out about 5:00 ready to go home.  Mom had previously accepted a dinner/lesson invitation for us to go see a dear Ward lady named Sabina (she's Peruvian and just returned from a month-long visit to family there.  We watered her plants while she was gone.  We got to her place just five minutes late but it was OK.  Our two Sister Missionaries (Sister Jones and Sister Coulon; photo attached) are there for dinner also and they teach a short lesson for Sabina after supper.  It's a pleasant visit.

After supper we go with the Sisters to visit a recovered addict/alcoholic, Jeff.  He'a  great guy and is super excited about the gospel.  The Sisters take the lead for sure on a lesson they've prepared and we tell Jeff the story of Ammon and King Lamoni.  We're teaching him about listening to the spirit and acting on it.  While we're talking, I'm thinking about talking to Jeff about maybe dedicating his house.  Mom asked him if he had the Priesthood - we just weren't sure what Priesthood he held.  He is an Elder but has not exercised the Priesthood ever in his life. It's time to close.  He asks me to say the closing prayer.  I say the prayer but include a request for Heavenly Father to protect Jeff's home that it can be a safe haven for Jeff and anyone who comes there.  When we're done, Jeff is moved because he had meant to ask me specifically to ask for just that blessing!  Cool, huh? I'm about to ask him about blessing/dedicating his house when Sister Jones asks the same question!  We are all in total sync here!!  He definitely wants to and I tell him that I will get with him later to teach him more about performing such a Priesthood ordinance!  I'll talk to Bishop Hooke first of course.

We then went home - it's now about 8:00.  I then spend about an hour and a half checking for messages from missionaries - there are six - and returning calls and arranging car fix situations.

I've also got a call from a Sister Bigler.  She is a young-ish widow who is a Single Adult rep in the Stake and she is charged with organizing a four-Stake Pioneer Day sort of fireside. The Floyd's had previously been contacted to see if they would be speakers at this fireside and talk about any aspect of pioneering in the gospel sense.  They accepted and volunteered us to be on the program as well!  So Sister Bigler is calling as a follow-up.  She asked us some bio- type of questions, asked me to send her a photo of Mom and me for their flyer (which I did). and just talked to us about a few more details of what they'd like from us. 
She said, before she knew much about us that we would be free to put any kind of 'twist" on the topic if we wished - so she was particularly glad to hear that Mom and I are the first ones in our families to be members so we have just that 'twist" to our subject that she was hoping for.  We will present for about 10-12 minutes each that night - July 17th.  I better get started on that now! They're having the fireside in the chapel.  She said they were having a really talented young lady as part of the program who will sing and play a guitar.  Usually Church rules on music in the chapel is that guitars are not an allowed instrument.  I've never known what the basic logic is on which instruments are allowed in Sacrament or other chapel services and which are not. Interesting.

Maybe Mom has told you but she and I have been called by the Stake Presidency to head up the Stake Employment Center!  The Stake Employment Center really does not currently exist at all!  There is, however, a room, kind of like an office/classroom in the Stake Center, which is set aside for the Center but the brother who was called to this hasn't done anything with it in the past several years so we're essentially starting up a brand new venture!  We need to see what exactly our objectives are and the scope of who we need to reach out to (??just our Stake or further out - probably  more rather than less!!)!

Our Ward Mission Leader will be out of town tomorrow and Tuesday next week so has asked us to teach Gospel Essentials and our Tuesday night Book of Mormon class.  We already contribute a lot to those classes but for these two days we're in charge!  It's fun.

As part of our inspections of cars during these ZC's, we leave several notes in cars for the missionaries to follow up on (add oil, get new tires,etc.) so now I'm starting to get calls from those missionaries asking for help in getting those tasks done.  I taught some missionaries how to add coolant yesterday too.  Our Chevy Cruze's are notorious for losing coolant.  The Church will not be ordering these cars for us anymore - just the Ford Fusions and Toyota Corollas.

I'll likely go into the Office today to get some car bills paid, start my monthly recording of fuel purchases turned into me by missionaries from the 1st-5th of each month.

Wow, this turned out to be way long!  Oh, we're also preparing for Christian's visit out here next week.  They're coming on July 7th and leaving the 12th.  We'll take some time off then. That'll be fun.

Well, gotta run.  Love you all.