Monday, August 29, 2016

Iverson's Update


Dear Bishop Carter,

Wow, it’s been six months ago today that we checked in at the MTC!  The time has just flown by and it’s been exciting.  We do love the physical environment here as the temperature here is consistently in the 60’s-80’s.  Contrary to our expectations, the skies here are not sunny all the time; it is typically overcast in the morning and then clears to sunny skies mid-day.  Oh well, our lives are busy enough with mission activity that we very seldom get out to recreational activities such as the beaches, etc.

California continues to be in a drought; we had rain the very first day of our arrival on March 12th but not a single day of rain since then!  Forest fires are again plaguing us. 

We have had some poignant news with one of our less-active members who we got very close to, a man named Jake Miller.  Jake got heavily into drugs and alcohol in his late teens and well into his 30’s when we met him.  However, he was beginning to show real interest in renewed activity when his body just gave up from all the alcoholic abuse it had received.  He died here but we, as well as the Bishop and the EQ President, did have some success in teaching him of what to expect when he died.  Sister Iverson especially was able to assure him that he wasn’t going to the traditional “hell” that he believed was his fate.  He died with some peace that Jesus Christ loved him dearly.

We had another investigator, Devin, who we and the proselyting missionaries met with numerous times and taught him lessons all the way through his commitment to baptism.  However, his mother, a practicing Buddhist, stepped in days before his baptism date and told us to stop visiting and teaching him.  He does have somewhat of a disability and she does control his life in many respects.  We’re trying to have her reconsider to the point of letting him just continue to socialize with us without us teaching him one-on-one.  Pray for her to have a softening of her heart.  I know that he wants it. His life has improved and we hope that his mother realizes it and lets him continue with us.  She’s a very loving and protective mother; a good woman I’m sure.

We’ve had great success with three other investigators who have been baptized and who are totally active and are on a steep curve in having their testimonies grow.  Anthony and Loreen Godinez (married) and Fred Ward (single man) have callings, pray in Sacrament, are Ward missionaries or Gospel Principles class teachers, and on and on.  Very fun times!

Our role in the Ward is changing in some ways.  Sister Iverson and I have been called as the new Stake Self-Reliance Center Specialists Coordinators.  The Self-Reliance program is gradually being instituted in place of the LDS Employment program.  The employment program has been non-existent in the Stake for several years so this is a new experience for the Stake as well as Sister Iverson and myself.  Very exciting and challenging.  With this new responsibility, we will be visiting other wards quite a bit so our time with our Ward will be changing.

We continue to be totally active with our Mission Office duties.  We work with another great Senior Missionary couple, the Floyd’s, who also work in the office with us daily.  We have the best of worlds in one way; most of our waking hours are in association with either the other Senior Missionaries, the Mission President and wife, and the proselyting missionaries.  All of them are people with vibrant energy, priesthood experience, and testimonies.  I spoke to a lady at a local fruit stand recently.  She is a seasonal worker and will shortly be looking for more work.  I gave her a pass-along card (sort of my church business card) attached to an instruction sheet.  I only know her as “Linda from the fruit-stand” so far!  I hope to hear from her sometime to help her with employment.

While we certainly knew that Californians surf a lot, it’s been a surprise of how very common it is with all ages here.  I believe surfing here is much like snow-skiing or snow-boarding is to Utahans.  We see surfboards on car tops all the time here.  It’s also a bit different here of seeing so very many tattoo shops and we see many many people here with extensive tattoos on them.  With the warm temperatures here, clothing is a bit sparse and so tattoos are very evident.  However, our friend Jake was also one that had major tattooing, some rather indecent clothing, and looked like a pretty rough character.  We grew to love him as a brother. He also was a child of God as are all others here.

We do love our missionaries here so much.  In our contacts with them, they are such an obedient group.  They report to me with their vehicle situations and letting me know when they’ve complied with some task I’ve given them.  They’ve called me when they’ve gotten a traffic violation and feel very broken-hearted when this has happened.  We’ve had accidents but, thankfully, none with injuries.  I have 74 vehicles to manage.  Sister Iverson continues with her Mission Secretary duties and is super with it.  Our missionaries love coming to the Office mainly to see Sister Iverson I think!  She is always a step or two ahead of the requests from President Felix or his wife.  I think that Sister Iverson and Sister Felix almost are competing to see who can be the first to think of something the furthest ahead of in the calendar to plan for. So far, Sister Iverson is winning!  I believe she now has letters to missionaries, their parents, Stake Presidents, and Bishops ready for the Mission President to sign as far out as November!

It’s been curious to watch the development of Sister Iverson and me working together in a sort of professional setting.  I have gradually been learning how to delegate some of my duties to her to help me stay abreast of my duties.  We work well together.

As I know you’re aware, the Flandro’s will be moving out of our house in a week or so and the Bruce’s moving in.  We’ve heard that the Flandro’s may be able to move into another house within the Ward boundaries.  That would be so great.  They are such good people.

Our families are doing well.  Little Henry is coping with his cancer. The recent surgery went well with about 95% of the tumor removed and he’s now coping with the rigors of radiation treatment.  It’s tough but he’s developed into a very tough little boy.  We’ve seen the Lord’s hand in tangible blessings to our family members with better and best job developments, successful house moves, and spiritual growth, evidenced even in our youngest grandchildren. 

When I consider that we have four Senior Missionary Office Specialists (the Floyd’s and us) who put in about 160+ hours per week and that some missions have to use proselyting missionaries to try to do what we do, it’s so evident of how valuable Senior Missionaries can be to a Mission.  We free up the time for our missionaries to do what they do best – find and teach – while we do what we do best (admin tasks).  Whatever the specific assignments that Senior Missionaries receive, we so highly recommend any Senior in our ward there to make that commitment.  Whether their circumstances are such that they serve an at-home mission or can serve away from home, Seniors are vital to the work of the Kingdom.  We do indeed feel so very needed and useful here.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a six-month period of time fly by as quickly as these past six months have done.  We do admin duties, we visit the sick in hospitals, we’ve visited a prisoner in jail here, we’ve helped an alcoholic find peace, and we’ve helped a man with a mental illness feel more at home in social situations as well as with his relationship with God.  We will be helping people find means to be more self-reliant.  Perhaps most of all, we’ve increased in our testimonies and our love for people. 

Our ward here does something different than what I’ve seen before.  There are almost zero announcements at the beginning of Sacrament service.  But after the closing prayer, the Bishopric member conducting takes about five minutes and makes basic announcements.  I believe the intent is to keep a smooth transition of reverence before and into Sacrament and to save the temporal announcement time for after the Sacrament service is done.

Enough for now.  Please let the Ward know of how much we miss them but of how much we’re enjoying being here and serving. 

Elder and Sister Iverson

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hi from Ventura California

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sad and fun stuff

Hi everyone, 

Jake died last night about 1 am.  While it's sad to lose a close friend to death, he was suffering so much, both just recently but throughout the last several years due to his alcohol addiction. His liver just got so badly scarred that it could no longer function and he was in misery.

However, Mom and I, along with others,were able to visit with him and teach him somewhat of Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation.  While he was conscious and we were actually out shopping, Mom had some quiet moments with him where she taught him that there are many places in Heavenly Father's kingdom, nearly all of which are happy places to be, better than this life in many ways.  Jake had thought that there was only a Heaven and a Hell and he was certain that he was headed to Hell.  Mom opened his eyes and spirit that he did indeed have hope for a better life and that Jesus would welcome him.  Bishop Hooke was also able to visit him and teach him when he was conscious and teach him more details about the Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, what to expect in the next life when he dies (main lesson was for Jake to say "Yes" to every option that was to be taught and given to him!).  Mom and I talked to him, as well as offered a long conversation-like prayer with him, much of it when he was just semi-conscious, also about salvation, repentance, forgiveness, atonement, and what to expect when he dies.  

I also gave him a PH blessing last week before his sister, Lindsay arrived, that he would keep living through her visit and that he needed to muster all his strength and strength of spirits around him to connect, even if briefly, with her.  I then released him from life after her visit.  Lindsay was able to talk several times to Jake on the phone before she got here. He continued to live for her entire visit. He very briefly (just for seconds) connected with her during her visit. Lindsay saw Jake late Sunday and left town Monday morning about 6 am; Jake then died 19 hours later.

But we have fun as well!!  Elder Floyd, in his role as Mission Housing Coordinator, very often has to provide new box springs and mattresses to apartments.  Mom and I saw a pickup loaded with a lot of used mattresses and, thinking of Elder Floyd, took a photo and made it into a PowerPoint fun slide for Elder Floyd (attached).  He loved it.

Our investigator, Devin, is still progressing.  He's not understanding the Book of Mormon as closely as he wants so we're postponing his baptism but not too long.  He comes to every single church function we have.  He's wearing a white shirt and tie.  He's given up coffee and tea now for three weeks.  He's opened up to the missionaries more now on his disability - paranoid schizophrenia.  He's been alcohol-free now for about 3 months.  All's good!

We've now been given physical keys for the Stake Center building and the LDS Employment Center room!  We've given brief instruction to Bishoprics on our employment plans.  We're getting calls from members now.  We're giving training on Sep 1st; so now we gotta figure out what to train!!  We're talking to Elder Wilde, Area 70, on this work. He's got a "70" meeting this Saturday and will find out more of what we need to know then!  Exciting times!

We visited a member in jail on Sunday.  Good visiting; very different for us.  Jail is a very very sad and dreary place.  Very dark spiritually.  But this man is doing his best and will likely be out of jail by the end of August.  Then back to his job as a Physician's Assistant.  He's got 10 surgeries lined up that he needs to assist with!

Enough for now.  Oh, we were in a Stake Conference meeting just for new members or returned less-actives.  There was a deaf interpreter there.  However, it turned out that she was also the only piano player. So when she got up to play, Mom just jumped into her place and interpreted for the deaf member in signing!  She's a remarkable woman!!

The other photo is Mom and Sister (Lavonne) Floyd when we double-dated to the Ventura County Fair and were at the horse show.  We also went to a concert where Patty Labelle was the singer - not exactly my kind of music but it was fun being out with Mom and friends.  i tried two of the funnel cakes and, surprisingly, neither one was very good.  Bummer!

Gotta go.

Love, Dad

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ventura County Fair pictures

Devin & Dad at the beach party on Saturday

Stilt walkers at the Fair

Dad, the Rabbit Whisperer 

Horse show at the Fair - we thought of Allison!

Some big furry creature liked Dad!

The Floyds and us before the concert

Sunset at the concert before it started

Dad and I

Patti LaBelle - entertainment at the Ventura County Fair

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Happy Fast Sunday

Friday, August 5, 2016