Saturday, May 31, 2014

More Baptisms

Both sets of Elders had baptisms this week. It's so exciting for them.

Quitting smoking is hard, and it's a big deal for everyone involved. We pray for the converts, and we visit them. The Elders do the same. It's a team effort. All three of these people had a hard time giving up the cigarettes. So we are all cheering when they can stay clean.

The Elder, the couple being baptized and her parents

This young couple is already making a great addition to the ward. Everyone loves them. The entire Relief Society room was filled tonight with members welcoming them into the ward. One of the Elders that worked with the family for so long, went home to Scottsdale AZ the first week of May. The couple and the Elder were very sad about that. But they skyped him into the meeting,
and he gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. Technology is great!
This is the grandmother of the family baptized several weeks ago. 

We are all so pleased that she chose to become a member.   

The other lady in this picture is Willie Smith. She's the public relations person for the stake here in Memphis and is going to write an article for the Church News about the family with three generations joining the Church. 

We do love this family. They belong to us, and we belong to them. What a blessing they are in our lives.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Week of Parties

This has been a week of parties. We had an outing with the family we baptized at the Overton Park in Memphis. It is near the University of Memphis, and a wonderful place with a beautiful bowery, a wooded area with trails and lots of birds, playground equipment, par course, and open meadow-like areas for playing ultimate Frisbee and other games for the young. Here are a few pictures of some of the family.

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We have really come to love this family. They are receptive to the principles of the gospel. It's like they have been waiting for them all their lives. When they are all together, they are a noisy, somewhat chaotic group of fun-loving, hugging people. The kids have already been to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. The oldest girls has set an interview with the Bishop for her patriarchal blessing. (She's planning on being a doctor.)

We also had a party in Little Rock for the Senior couples at the mission home. President and Sister Petersen are wonderful, loving, well organized people. We had lots of fun meeting and getting to know the other couples in the mission. Bob and I came away very thankful for the assignment we have and the opportunities for service the Memphis area affords us.

Since it's Memorial Weekend, we had our district of missionaries over for dinner. They are faithful young Elders—all very different, and all very dedicated to the Lord. (Sometimes they are as giggly as the girls.)

Before our mission, I was pretty much out of the cooking mode. I am back into it in full swing. I can make a batch of 100 cookies and they are gone in the blink of an eye.

 Such fun. Life will indeed be very quiet when we get back home.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Week of Reunions

This has been a week of connecting with friends and loved ones from the past. Here is the son of a dear family in our ward in Las Vegas. We love his grandparents, (Fuller and Marie Royal). His mother (Kim) was a youth in our ward when Elder Monson was the Bishop.

Elder Jenkins is working in the Spanish branch that meets in our Memphis 2nd Ward building so we'll get to see him often. A blessing for us for sure!
Sunday, May 19th, we travelled to Dansville to see one of Elder Monson's first converts from his mission in Hutchinson, Kansas. Elder Monson baptized Ruth Ann Stewart on July 2nd 1960. She and her husband (Dennis and Ruth Ann Lemon) served in Dansville as a senior couple last year. They came back for a high school graduation so we surprised them with a visit.

There is a special bond between missionary and convert that is always there, no matter how much time passes between meetings. (Ruth Ann and Elder Monson are pictured in the very first blog entry, standing on the steps of the Hutchinson Branch Chapel in 1960.)

The third event of the week wasn't really a reunion. We took the youth and several ward members to do baptisms for the dead. Here we are with a couple of ward members. 

The woman between us (Sister Walker) is working so hard to get herself back into school to support her family. I admire her positive attitude and her diligent effort. She's going to be successful in life. Don't you like her new outfit? We got it for the temple. I's fun to be the fairy god mother. (We didn't get a picture of the entire group.)

Here is a love note from the little six-year-old boy whose family was baptized two weeks ago. He and I really enjoy each other. He brings me notes whenever he sees me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Our Life In Memphis

Some of you have asked what our life is like in Memphis. Here are a few pictures to give you a taste of our life.

We live in a little city about 15 miles outside of Memphis called Olive Branch. Our apartment complex is near freeway connections and railroad tracks. We hear trains all times of the day and night. Our little GPS phone lady gets all mixed up right here. 
Highway intersections and railroad tracks

She thinks she can ask us to merge onto one of these highways when we are two streets under it. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to her and she gets it right most of the time, except right here.

They timed the train just right, but not the car!

We have wonderful young Elders that live in our building. They bless our lives and keep us young. They have such a great zest for life. Here is a crazy P Day activity.

Memphis is called "The Belt Buckle of The Bible Belt." There are hundreds of churches in the area. They offer many different services—from entertainment of all kinds, to prayers of convenience at any time.

There is wealth and poverty here. Lush growth and stark deficiency. This is a nice house, but the better ones are gated off with large plantation-like lawns.

This is an abandoned project. I've since found much worse, but haven't had time to take pictures of them. You can see all the windows have been knocked out, but someone has trimmed the bushes. Go figure!

Here I am with two of my favorite people. I do love these kids. This little boy is so cute. Today at church he conned me out of a package of tic tacs, and four pieces of gum. He also got some candy from the Bishop. It's the twinkle in his eye that gets me every time.

We love the area and the people. We are having a great time. Lots of love to all of you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Elders Bless Our Lives

The Elders we work with are great young men. It is wonderful to be associated with the elect youth in Israel. They provide inspiration and organizational tips for us as we meet together. It is such a gift for us to be associated with them and their baptisms. We do love it. I tell the Elders every day that they bless our lives.

Saturday, May 3rd, will be a day for another of our family with ten children to remember. The stay-at-home mom of the group was baptized. She is the one who has gotten that large group of children to church each week. (The other moms and the grandmother have been working on Sunday.) She is a good organizer and can 'marshal the troops' when necessary.

This lovely lady's conversion and baptism was a sweet blessing to her and all the rest of us.  Here she is with her Elders.

Her baptism was a tender experience because she wanted to be there and enjoy this special time with her mom and sister. It's wonderful to have all the children there, and they are good kids. We love them dearly. But she wanted to be able to feel the spirit without all the hubbub of the large group. It was nice to have the individual time with her and savor this momentous event with her.

She was confirmed in Sacrament meeting, May 4th, 2014. But the confirmation took place at the end of testimony meeting, not at the beginning.
(They have a hard time getting out the door and off to church by 9 am. I think I'm going to sneak into their house next Saturday night and change all their clocks so they have an extra hour to get ready. - just kidding. But I secretly would like to. Elder Davis and Elder Holden are 'sweating bullets' when it's time for sacrament meeting to start when if the family is late.)
I'm sure they'll get in the routine of coming to church by 9 am instead of 9:15. It's a hard adjustment to get out of bed and out the door on time.

Senior couples are supposed to mentor the Elders, and I guess we do in our small way—we give rides and make cookies. But the Elders give us great blessings by letting us be part of their mission experience. The spirit of these baptisms is wonderful. The Stake President said last week in sacrament meeting that the new converts give vitality to our church. They bring us new life. I certainly believe that. And we can thank the Elders for allowing us to be part of each new convert's life.
Thanks Elders, you do bless our lives.