Wednesday, March 23, 2016

  Well, the day has arrived. We had made arrangements with the stake president to meet following the caucus meetings last night. Since we were in different precints, we were a little nervous that he may get out before we did. Well, that came true, apparently he was in his office over an hour before we arrived. He was fine with that, he said their meeting lasted about an hour.
  It was interesting that as we left the afternoon temple dedication meeting on Sunday that a member just around the corner from us approached Ruth and asked her if we could come over Monday night and show them around the Family Search site. Of course we could and we had a wonderful discussion with them. The father was so excited that he installed Family Search Tree on his phone and tablet. The mother and one daughter were especially excited with the lesson. As we introduced decendancy research the mother found three or four names that needed temple work and we didn't even go all the way through her four generation list to see what others might be there. That was a fun evening for the last lesson of our mission.
  Our meeting with the stake president was wonderful! He asked each of us to share a special experience from our mission that stood out in our minds. He was very complimentary with his remarks about how we had been faithful in our calling and how many lives we had impacted with our lessons and examples of service. He then asked if I would join him and give Ruth a blessing and a release. He was so warm and thoughtful as the spirit directed him to thank the Lord for her service and example to many in our stake. He then paused as he put his hands on my head and gave me a similar blessing. He asked the Lord to bless our family and asked Him to bless us as we continue in our service wherever we are called.
It was such a sweet blessing, afterwhich he presented us with our letter and certificates of release. What a wonderful ending to a great experience that will continue to bring sweet memories as we associate with the people of our stake.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

  This has been one busy week but a great way to finish. We had as many lessons this week as we have had in any one week. We taught 17 lessons. We taught a young lady who is working her way back into the Church four lessons this week, at her request. She is studying the scriptures on a regular basis and has taught us some wonderful insights into what she has been studying.
  The other exciting lesson was one with the family we have been working with. The son has been meeting with the bishop and has determined a schedule for completing missionary papers. The father has made a definite commitment that he wants to receive the Melchizedek priesthood so he can have the blessings of the temple with his family. The family has made tremendous progress in the few weeks we have been meeting with them.
  One other exciting visit was to a less active member who is a returned missionary. We feel like his is creeping closer to activity but still has some family issues to resolve to make a meaningful commitment. When we saw him this past week, he asked us to let him know when we give our talks in our ward. He said he would like to attend the meeting when we speak.
  There are many feelings that arise when change is imminent. We feel good about our service and we will sorely miss the great people we have learned to love. We have tried to meet most of the people we have become closest to and one couple even took us out for lunch this week. We will miss our interactions with our  Senior Elders and Sisters as well as the young missionaries of our great mission. We treated our Elders to a meal at Olive Garden on Tuesday evening, we all enjoyed the meal as well as the time together. In our District Meeting this week we were given a Book of Mormon with some notes from other senior couples. Our senior leaders also presented us with embroeried towels from the mission. At the end of our meeting our young district leader asked us to bear our testimonies. Last night one of our senior couples came for a visit with a nice note and a loaf of homemade bread.
 Today we tried to see as many people from the stake as possible by attending all three sessions of the Provo City Center Temple dedication. We saw a goodly number of people and enjoyed each one of the dedication services. Each one was similar but each had different speakers and different experiences, each was wonderful. Elder Dallin H. Oaks conducted every session. The music was well done by small choirs in every session. How unbelievable it is to think when Pres. Monson was sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, there were twelve temples operating in the Church. With the dedication today there are 150 operating temples. A majority of people in the Church live within two hours or less from a temple.
  As I was typing this blog, we received a call from our stake president. He will meet with us on Tuesday night to give us our official release.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

  Been so busy I haven't gotten around to this yet. Today was supposed to be our preparation day but it was a full day of missionary work.
  In the past week our elders have needed some extra help with transportation because of exchanges.     Things seemed to go well and they were able to help other companionships increase their teaching pools.
   Thursday was our final zone conference. At the beginning of the day the AP conducting asked us to stand and acknowledged that this would be our final zone meeting and we would soon be released. We felt a little funny about the recognition because we don't remember that kind of announcement being made for any of the other couples. The zone meeting was talking about members and missionaries working together to build the kingdom. One example that was used in a talk by Elder Martino was with Alma and Amulek. How Amulek was visited by an angel when Alma returned to Ammoniaha. The people had rejected Alma and his message and Alma left but after receiving instruction from the Lord, returned another way to teach. Amulek became his valiant companion in teaching after Alma had taught the Gospel to Amulek and his family.
  The missionaries were asked to bring their items of distraction (games, music etc) and deposit them in a container provided for that purpose. In each zone there must have been a goodly number of items deposited which were donated to Deseret Industries.
  One exciting teaching appointment was when we met with a sister and gave her a lesson on the restoration. When we arrived a fellow was there hooking up cable tv. He listened from a distance and after he completed his business he had the mother sign an order and as he was leaving, he told the daughter we were teaching, "Listen to these people, they know the truth." This sister is making great progress in her gospel study and testimony.
  We have visited several families we have previously taught and visited to tell them our mission is coming to a close. We have had some wonderful visits and wonder how often we will see these people after our service is complete.
  We had a wonderful baptism on Saturday, our elders have had an average of one baptism for every week they have been in our area. They have worked hard and the Lord has blessed them with success.
  Sunday we attended the 16th ward council meeting. The bishop had asked the ward council to extend their meeting an extra ten minutes so we could make a short presentation. We talked briefly about the importance of the role of the ward council in missionary work and then introduced them to the MY FAMILY booklet.
We then attended two sacrament meetings, the second was actually a ward conference. We were so thrilled to attend the ward conference and see the family we have been meeting with for a few weeks all in attendance. It was wonderful to shake their hands and welcome them to the meeting. The bishop and the stake president both talked with great power and testimony. Our final meeting with that family last night was really a good meeting and we feel they will continue to make progress in becoming an eternal family with temple blessings.


Monday, March 7, 2016

We had a good week, time just marches on. We had a goodly number of teaching appointments in spite of aome other things like doctor appointments to keep us busy. As we talk about who we should see each day, we realize how many people we have come to know and love during this two year time span. When we realize that in two weeks we will be released, we realize we probably will not get to see everyone we want to visit.
  Thursday was a day of surgery and recovery. Ruth had her other cataract surgery. Things went much better than the first one. Because the doctor was going out of town on Friday, she had a post op on Thursday afternoon, only a few hours after getting home from the hospital. Already her vision was 20/30 and the eye was still dialated. They didn't seem to put as much medicine in the eye this time and her dialation didn't last nearly as long as the first one. One comforting thing was that our home teacher asked if he could come and visit on Wednesday night. He and I gave Ruth a blessing. Even though she had a blessing before the first surgery, things are just better this time.
  We did get in some good lessons and visits. Our Monday evening lesson with the returning family was just great. They really enjoy having us come and asked us to come as long as we can. We had another lesson scheduled with a young lady who is returning as well, but her mother's car broke down and she was gone to pick up her mother from work. Later in the week we saw them coming home, had a good visit and set up another teaching appointment for this week.
On Friday we met with our young man who was recently baptized. He and the family were excited with My Family booklets and our discussion about filling out the information and learning more about their family.
 Saturday we went to several child of record baptisms and then we drove to Eagle Mountain to celebrate Keith's birthday. Ruth had crocheted an afgan for him and wanted to deliver it and celebrate. While there we were able to go to a vocal presentation where Jessie performed a number which she did very well.
Sunday was a busy day. We attended three sacrament meetings, our mission coorelation meeting and then had dinner with our Stake President. We discussed and demonstrated how to fill our My Family booklets on line. We really enjoyed our evening with their family. The President said they were struggling a bit to find a couple to take our place. We gave him the names of two couples he could consider. He was happy for that information.

Monday, February 29, 2016

  Well, we are in the last three weeks of our two year calling. Our ward mission leader said in our correlation meeting yesterday that there are rumors floating around that we may be called as ward missionaries. Time will tell.
  We had a wonderful week. We gave 16 lessons last week. Our elders said this morning that they had six discussions plus their dinner appointments.. We had a lot of good things going on and caught most people home that we had planned to visit.
  One family we have been meeting with provided one of our most spiritual evenings. Each one of the family participated willingly in the discussion and had some good observations on the principles we were teaching. It was a very good evening.
  On Thursday night we held our second Stake missionary training meeting or zone conference. We were asked to present the new information given during the Family Discovery Days conference in connection with the Roots Tech Conference. There are two pamphlets that will soon be available for the missionaries to use in teaching how to find family names to take to the temple. There have been some studies made as they have focused on family history with new converts. Typically the retention rate has gone from around 20% to over 80% when people take family names to the temple during the first few months following baptism. Our stake president made an observation in his talk on how his father has passed away but because of temple sealing the father is still interested and bound to his family. He is anxious to help those here on earth to find names of ancestors and have their ordinances completed.
  Our high councilor did a great job in asking some "questions of the soul" that many people have as the missionaries contact them. He wrote down some scriptures on the board and then had several groups discuss these scriptures. Then he asked one in each group to come to the front and set the stage for answering the question the scriptures answered. He had them role play the part of the investigator or less active member and the ward missionary. It was very well done.
  Saturday Ruth and a couple of ladies from our ward attended a Stake Relief Society conference. The wives of our stake presidency were the main speakers. They also held some very thought provoking workshops to help the women in attendance realize how important they are in the work of the Lord, and how they need to be prepared to present the Church in a favorable manner to those who are seeking answers for their families.
  We attended stake council meeting and then a ward conference in the Third ward. We stayed for all the block and it was nice to get to sit in a Sunday School class as well as a Priesthood and Relief Society class discussion.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

  This has been a different week but we have been fairly busy under the circumstances. We were able to teach some lessons in addition to spending time at the doctor's office.Following our missionary correlation meeting we went to the Humanitarian Center for service, Late that evening we met with a young couple who have been meeting with missionaries off and on. They are a neat young couple. With a few changes in their lives they could be a valuable family in their ward. We also had a wonderful opportunity in the same ward to teach a family. The family has been somewhat active but their oldest son has decided to serve a mission. The family asked us to come and teach them a missionary discussion. We taught them the Restoration lesson and had a good discussion. When we finished we asked if they would like us to come back for another discussion, The father was the one who spoke up and asked us if we would come again next week.
  Tues. evening we had another new member discussion with CJ. What a great experience! He is so anxious to learn and he kept his commitment to pray when we finished the lesson. We celebrated by going to Cold Stone for ice cream afterwards.
   Wednesday we made a couple of visits and Ruth went visiting teaching. Thursday was surgery day. Ruth had cataract surgery on her left eye. Everything went very well but she was instructed to stay calm and rested most of the day following surgery. She was a little concerned about a spot in her eye. When she went for a post op appointment the doctor said that was a bubble but by the time of the appointment it was pretty much gone. He said the surgery went perfectly and she was seeing 20/20 without glasses. They gave her some reading glasses and by today when we talked in one of the wards, she was able to give her talk and read without glasses.
  Friday night was a memorable night. Our elders had five baptisms. It was a wonderful and spiritual evening. There was a father, mother and daughter from one family, and two boys from a related family who were baptized. What a thrill to see all five baptismal candidates and four elders in a picture before the baptismal services.
  Saturday we went to the Cache South Stake Discovery Day where Ruth taught two classes on family history, specifically on decendency research. The conference was a little light on attendance but there was a very heavy snow storm going on in the morning hours that may have had an effect. Those who attended the class seemed pleased. In fact one brother brought a laptop and found names on his line just by following the instructions Ruth gave in her class.
   Today we went to three wards. The final sacrament meeting was in the fifth ward where we had been asked to talk. We both talked about missionary work and fellowshipping new converts.
The three members that were baptized Friday evening were confirmed members during the meeting. What a thrill to be asked to participate in that special ordinance.

Monday, February 15, 2016

  The time is getting shorter for these blogs. We will be released in about five more weeks. It has been a great opportunity to get to know the people of the stake and we havve had some wonderful experiences that we will miss when our mission is completed.
  This was a mixed week. We had some good appointments, some sickness, and some preparation for Ruth's surgery which will be later this week. We enjoyed two family history presentations that one of our former ward missioaries set up for us. There is a lot of emphasis on the importance of family history now so we will enjoy making those presentations.
  We had a meal with a special family on Sunday. However, there must have been a lot of sodium in the meal and George got sick, especially on Tuesday morning. He spent most of the day in bed, did some exercises suggested by the doctor, and drank lots of water. Ruth went with a friend from the ward to present the new member discussion to CJ Tuesday night.
  Wednesday was transfer day and our district stayed the same except for a new Spanish speaking sister, Our Elder Shoemaker was made district leader and some of the companionships were changed from one district to another. Friday evening we had dinner with another neat family. They had invited a non member and her daughter. We had a wonderful time with them and a good discussion about gospel principles.
  Saturday was a special day. Our neighbor JJ was baptized and confirmed. This family has made good progress recently as two of the boys have been baptized and the father is showing signs of being more interested and involved in the church. The evening was the Stake Valentine Day dinner and dance. This is always one of the best events of the year. There is good food, entertainment and then a dance for those who wish to stay. It is an adult activity and is well attended. We invited a neighbor who we home teach to come and he accepted the invitation, and seemed to enjoy the evening. We surely know a lot more people now because of our exposure throughout the stake.
  Sundays are always great experiences. Yesterday was special as well. We started the day in a ward council meeting. Their high counciler was in attendance and did some training. During the meeting we were talking about what missionary opportunities were available in the ward. The high councilor interjected an experience we had in his ward. Some months ago we were looking for a sister and didn't know where she lived. We stopped at a home we thought was the one and the sister invited us in and kindly helped us determine the right home. This is a less active couple that the high councilor and his son had been home teaching for some time. They would go to the home and talk to the couple through the screen door. Never invited into the home. After our visit, the door opened and now the couple is upset if the home teachers don't make a regular visit. He thanked us for our visits and told the council how much he appreciated our efforts.
  That bishopric was released and a new bishopric was sustained in the sacrament meeting later in the day. We don't know the new bishop very well but we will get to work with them as we continue.
  One of the Spanish speaking sisters was sick so they asked Ruth to go with the well sister to a meeting. While she was there George went to another sacrament meeting in the new 16th ward. The high councilor there was a former bishop we had worked with closely. He came to George and expressed how he appreciated our visits to people he had a hard time visiting and how grateful he felt to have someone willing to help watch over his members. We tried to make some other visits but found no one home. We were able to find one family home. The husband is going to have a liver transplant surgery this week. It is unusual because his son is going to donate part of his liver to his dad. The research is suggesting that the new liver will help the remaining liver be more healthy. This is a trail blazing surgery and the first done in Utah. We had a great and uplifting visit with this man and his wife.The ironic thing in this case is that this brother had a car accident many years ago and ended up at the U of U hospital. The blood he received there was contaminated and he has had hepatitus C ever since. There has been no cure for this condition. Now they are telling him they have some medication that they will give him with blood transfusions for the surgery that will probably put the hepatitus C into remission.