Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

I have a few minutes to type so I think I will get this post done now!

It is hard to believe that February is over!  We have been on our mission almost 7 months now!  It seems like we just got here.  We have learned so much and been able to meet so many good people.  What a joy it has been to be here!

I thought that I would recap what has been going on in our mission so far.  Many have asked me to tell what we our schedule is like.

When we first arrived in the MTC on August 5th we really had no idea what was ahead of us.  The MTC was wonderful!  We were there with the largest group of Senior Missionaries that had ever come in one week!  It was interesting to note that it wasn't only the younger missionaries who are feeling an increased desire to serve.  The Lord is encouraging us old folks too!  That week was over too fast.  We loved the spirit and the things we learned.  Then off to California.

We arrived on a Tuesday, met the missionary in charge of housing and got out keys and settled in our funny little apartment.  We found our way to the mission office the next day (with the miracle of GPS!) to meet the mission president to find out what great things he had planned for us to do on our mission.  That meeting was a bit of a puzzle to us!  President Clayton is a wonderful man and we enjoyed talking to him but he didn't give us much direction.  We were surprised.  He told us the name of our Stake President that we had been assigned to and told us to contact him to see which ward he wanted us to help with.  And then he told us that we would need to find lots of other things to fill our time.  He encouraged us to be creative and find ways to help the work!  He encouraged us that we were adults and didn't need to be "commanded in all things."  We quickly called our Stake President and got the name of the bishop of our ward and was able to get involved quickly in the ward.  But there was so much more time in our days that just wasn't full.  We kept looking, praying, going to the temple - I think we went three times in the first week.  We were really wondering if it was worth it to leave our family to come out and not be busy.  Looking back at those days, we really should have enjoyed the time and used it to explore San Diego and sight see.  But we felt like we should be doing better things with our time.  The other Senior Missionaries kept telling us that things will work out and that in three months (!) time we would be busy and settled in to many things.  We thought if it took three months we would be severely depressed.

We checked many different things.  Just down the street from us is a great Family History Center.  I thought that it would be lots of fun to serve there.  Roger wasn't so sure.  The Director there acted like we were angels from heaven and courted us to take over his spot.  He kept us there hours telling us what they needed there.  It overwhelmed us a bit to say the least.  We talked about being ordinance workers at the temple.  We thought we might be able to volunteer with many different civic things, maybe have Roger help coach a soft ball team at the local high school.

We were lucky to be in the same complex as another Senior Couple who were serving at the Mormon Battalion and who never seemed to have a minute to spare. They told us that they had not had a P day for over a month!  We asked if we could help out there and they said that you actually had to be called there to help out there so it probably would not work.  Then one day they called us and told us to meet them at the Battalion and go to dinner with them after their shift.  We showed up there and were greeted by the Director of the Mormon Battalion and his wife, Ed and Sherrie Seegmiller and the Rockwells.  We went to a wonderful dinner where they asked us about serving there and we were excited.  They needed to talk to the mission president and ask if they could use us there because we are under him and our primary calling is Member and Leadership Support Missionaries.  So we waited and waited for days for a call back.  The longer we waited the more sure we were that we weren't going to be able to serve there.  Finally I talked Roger in to called Elder Seegmiller and ask what had happened.  He said that the mission president had OKed us working there as long as we remember that it is our secondary assignment and that our ward comes first!  Yay!  We knew that we would be able to fill our time with good things.

Within a couple of weeks, thanks to the Mormon Battalion we were up and running and haven't stopped since.  Here is a list of the things that we are involved in.

We have been helping in many ways in our ward.  We have been getting to know the strong members and helping the weaker ones.  As we got acquainted in the ward we have realized that the wards here are so different in many ways!  There are tons of names on the ward list that no one even knows or have ever heard of.  There are tons of others who are inactive and not coming any more.  And there a few stalwart people running the ward.  We have organized a Rescue Mission in the ward and are working on finding out if the people still live in the ward and if they don't work on finding where they are so that they can be found.  Also trying to find out if there is any interest in coming back and inviting them to be involved in some way - having home or visiting teachers, coming to parties or coming back to church.  Mostly we are finding those who are not interested in coming back or have moved.  But every now and then - when we are the most tired of looking and when we are sure that this next person will not want to talk to us too - we find a nice person who will talk to us and let us in their hearts.  We have been working with many ward members who need more encouragement and specific help.  Some struggle with activity, others with mental and physical health problems.  We try to encourage and support.  We have been invited to dinner with our missionaries into homes of the members which is a wonderful opportunity.  We go to Ward Council each week and Missionary Correlation meetings.  Lots of fun stuff to do in our ward and some hard stuff.

We serve at the Mormon Battalion about 24 hours per week.  We are on shift with the Sister Missionaries and I am usually at the desk trying to keep track of where each sister is, where each tour is, how many are waiting for a tour and where they are, greeting guests, enjoying the sisters there etc. Roger is walking through the Battalion and making sure of the safety of the guests and the sisters.  He is in charge of keeping the equipment working - mostly we call Salt Lake and they walk us through how to fix things or they can fix a lot of things from there.  On Tuesdays, it is the sisters P day so we are there with the other Senior Couples.  It is a fun day to be able to talk to them and also be the ones giving the tours.  We just got a new couple this week and they don't know the tour yet.  So there were only 4 of us who could give a tour.  We spent the whole day giving tours non-stop and coming back in to the entry to find another tour there waiting for us.  I gave six tours and two short tours.  It was a fun day and time went by quickly.

We also have been given extra assignments at the Battalion.  We are in charge of social media and internet advertising.  We get to meet with lots of great people - rangers, tour guides, business owners, Old Town people etc and try to be a good example of the church.  We love our association with these people and are making wonderful friends.  I have been asked to be the Recording Secretary of the San Diego Professional Tour Guides Association.  I thought it would be a nice little job to help us get to know people better and it is turning out to be something that they actually want me to DO stuff.  It will be a good experience and I am getting to know the other board members in a way I wouldn't be able to otherwise.  I felt that I should say yes to this position and we will see where it leads us....  We also get to go to the temple and work in the "Visitor's Center" there sometimes.  It is basically a tent out in front of the temple.  They have had a center planned several times but it keeps getting cut for other things.  We are able to visit with those who are walking around the temple, show them pictures of the inside of the temple and explain what we do in temples.  We have been able to get many referrals and give them to missionaries to teach.

We have monthly Family Home Evenings with the other Senior Couples where we can socialize and learn some good things.  There are great people who we will be friends with for a long time I am sure.  We are able to get together at other times just to play.  We are going to the BYU/San Diego game on Saturday with two of the couples.

We have also volunteered and gone through training to be ushers at the three theaters in Balboa Park. We go with several of the tour guides in the SDPTGA and usually go to dinner before.  We have met some great people doing this too.  We socialize with them in other ways too.  Love them.

Roger gets to the beach a couple of times a week and I am able to exercise in our heated pool here at our complex.  Oh it is heavenly!  We love the weather here!

We love the different things we are doing.  We feel so blessed to be busy.  Many of the Senior Couples haven't been able to find as much to do and are still searching to stay busy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23, 2014

Well, this week takes the cake I think.  I am sooooo tired!  We were up each morning by 6:30 and many nights not home until 10:30 or 11:00.  That is just too long for this old lady!  And when I sit here and try to think about what we have been doing all week I am too tired to remember it all.  Let's see............ cleaned the church, helped people with their computers, started some people with family history, became the new Recording Secretary of the San Diego Professional Tour Guides Association and hosted a meeting at the Battalion along with providing refreshments, had our scripture class, picked up people and took them with us to many of the places we went, ushered for "A Winter's Tale" at the Old Globe Theatre with three of our tour guide friends, visited many others that wanted us to come see them and visited others who didn't really want us to be there, gave tours, enjoyed being with the Sisters at the Battalion, got to see Cori Dyer from Orem and go out to dinner with her, had a BBQ farewell dinner for one of our Senior Couples we work with at the Mormon Battalion, had a ward party (February Family Fun Friday Film Finger Food Game night!), went to dinner with good friends, worked on our ward Rescue Program, enjoyed our Elders we work with in our ward, got to exercise a couple of times this week, enjoyed the beautiful weather in the high 70's, trying to learn the temple visitor's center reporting program to help out with it, and tried really hard not to get it all mixed up and forget something.

As Senior Couples we are always talking about how amazing it is that they think us old people can do what they ask us to do.  We live in this world of computers and the mission definitely takes advantage of that in all we do - but they want us old people who didn't grow up in a world of computers to know how to jump on board!  But it does seem that the Lord qualifies whom he calls!  At least we are getting by.  They also think that we can work harder that we thought we could - and it seems to work.

We are looking forward to a calmer week and really ready for it.  But it always seems that when we think that a day is clear, something seems to come up to keep us busy!  I sound like I am complaining but I'm not.  I am really quite pleased that we made it through this week and didn't totally get confused.  Sometimes the different hats we wear makes it hard to keep up on everything.  Just when I think that I have the desk at the MB handled well, I remember that I need to work with the web sites more and call someone or pick up the mail for the Tour Guide Association, or do the Temple Visitor's Centers report, or maybe we need to visit someone in the ward or call to help the young man we have investigation the church.  We love being busy though and wouldn't have it any other way.

We are trying to decide if we should stay another six months and most likely will.  We feel like we have just started to understand what we are doing and how to be effective and really can't imagine leaving in five and a half months.  Besides that..................  why would we want to leave this wonderful San Diego weather to go home to a Utah winter? :)
Thought for this week:
The Church needs you. The Lord needs you. The world needs you. There are many out there who need exactly what you have to offer. They are not easy to find, but they will not be found unless there are those who are prepared and willing to seek them out. - Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

Another great and busy week!  We spent several hours last Saturday going on a wonderful hike with some of our tour guide friends.  We went up to Torrey Pines and hiked in the pine trees there that only grow in two places in the world.  We decided that that is a very fun way to do missionary work!  We were able to talk and walk and had a great time.  It was a beautiful day and we totally enjoyed the company and the weather.  One of the ladies is from Russia and was a mail order bride 15 year ago.  She had been married before and had two daughters.  They were living in Russia and the marriage ended badly.  She decided that they need to get out of Russia so she accepted the offer to come to American and marry another Russian living here.  They are going through a bad divorce and she is devastated again.  We are hoping to help her.

I am now the official Recording Secretary of the Professional Tour Guides Association of San Diego. Cool huh?  I am not really sure all that I will be doing.  But it will give us more opportunities to be helpful and learn more about how to help the tourism industry know about the Mormon Battalion.  We will have monthly meetings and be able to go on tours with the other tour guides.  I was able to get our next meeting to be held at the Mormon Battalion next week.  That is good because we will be able to get many of the guides in our doors and through our tour and they will bring their tours here.  The greatest thing we feel we are doing with this group though has nothing to do with tourism.  We have made many friends there.

We were able give tours on Tuesday.  The day always goes fast when we can do the tours.  It is so much fun to be able to get to know the guests and feel their hearts.  We had to stay until 7 so that the sisters could go to a meeting where they learned how to engage the members of the ward in missionary work.  They came back so excited to get members involved.  Members are used to praying for the missionaries that they will be led to those who have been prepared for the Gospel.  I know that you have done that - I have.  But now we are being asked to ask that WE can be inspired as to who we should lead to the missionaries so that they can teach our friends with our help.  The hastening of the work doesn't have as much to do with the expanded missionary force as it does with the involvement of each of us members.  They need the extra missionaries because we will be bringing them people to teach.  Right now there are a lot of missionaries and not enough teaching going on.  Who do you know?  If no one comes to mind pray to have the Lord give you missionary opportunities.  This is His work and He will help you.

The directors of the Mormon Battalion invited all of us Senior Couples over to their place for dinner one night this week.  It was so good!  It was fun to just sit and talk and not be rushed.  When we are at the Battalion there is always something else going on and we don't get to just relax much with each other.  Of course we had to do it in two shifts because someone always as to be on shift at the Battalion from 9 - 9.  We keep thinking that we could all be together after 9 but we are always too tired to start playing that late.  Sister Barnes cooked the best steak I have ever had.  She said that they hand pick the steaks from the store and look for marbling.  They then cover them with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, sprinkle on Kosher salt, garlic salt and coarsely chopped pepper.  They leave that on for several hours.  Then they broiled in under the broiler in the oven.  They were amazing.

We are sitting here waiting for our children to come home!  Three of the sisters who have gone home from their missions since we have been here are coming to visit for the weekend and they will be staying here tonight.  It will so fun to see them.  They will be here for the night, get up early and exercise with the sister tomorrow morning and come by tomorrow night for the farewell we are having for three more sisters who are going home Tuesday.  We love them like our own and are excited to hear how things are going for them since leaving.  Sleepover!

We got three boxes in the mail today!  Happy days!  Thanks so much for remembering us!  We love you and challenge you to get involved in this wonderful hastening of the work!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 7, 2014

I am not sleeping right now so I thought that I might as well catch up on my blog!

There really aren't a lot of monumental things to report this week.  It has been a good one with the Commemoration over last week and starting to gear up for the Golf Tournament in a little over a month.  I don't know if I have explained the Golf Tournament.  Several years ago the funding for the fourth grade kids here in San Diego schools was cut dramatically and one of the things that was left unfunded was the fourth grade field trips to Old Town for their history units.  That meant that we wouldn't be able to have those kids learning about San Diego's history in our tours or in the other museums in Old Town.  So we got together with the Chamber of Commerce of Old Town and created a golf tournament.  It has been very successful and the fourth grade program to Old Town has been reinstated.  It is a big deal.  Billy Casper comes down and plays in it and people from all over either sponsor people to play or pay $500 to play in it themselves.  The Public Affairs Committee for the church gets in and helps with volunteers and planning for this gala event.  My involvement is to help promote it.  We were also just handed a sheet where we are to try to get people to buy a $5.00 golf ball.  They are going to drop 1000 golf balls from a helicopter on to the golf course and if your ball goes into the hole you will win $1000!  Is this really missionary work?  I am not really excited to try to get money from people to do that.

We are more involved in the running of the Battalion too.  We now work on the Sister Pday and are giving tours again.  That is really fun because that is when we get to really share the spirit of the tour and have those special moments with the guests.  We have been given more hours and are spending time in meetings trying to get the new Director and his wife up to speed.  They are really digging in and are catching on quickly.  They are great people and we are thrilled to know them and love them.  Each day brings new adventures there.  People come from all over and visit.  We have had lots of Utah visitors this week - getting out of the snow.  Today I got to talk to some wonderful people from China, London, France, Germany, Russia, and Africa.  We love the challenge and joy of that place.

We are enjoying the work in the ward.  We are still trying to find the inactive people in the ward and invited them to come back.  We are getting through the list with the help of the Ward Council and the Ward Missionaries.  It is cool to hear the stories of how the ward people are using their creativity to approach people.  One lady has prepared a brown lunch bag with a poem on it and then a Book of Mormon with a red pencil inside along with DVD's of the Restoration and The Testaments, a list of the Bishop and other leaders phone numbers, invitations to the Mormon Battalion, the church address and of course cookies!  It has been amazing to hear how the people respond to a little gift.  We have several names of members who live right here in our complex and have gone by so many times we have lost count and never found them home.  Most people aren't interested in coming back but there are some that we are reaching and where there is some potential.  Those are the ones that the missionaries will focus on.  Roger's scripture class continues to get better and better.  He has been giving scriptures for each member to read and prepare so that when they come to class they are already thinking about the subject and are involved.  We have had some wonderful discussions and great learning going on from the scriptures.

We had a beautiful sealing session in the temple the other night.  What a beautiful temple the San Diego Temple is!  The sealer was the former mission president of the San Diego Temple.  He was an amazing man and he taught us as we performed the different sealing ordinances.  He taught us to listen better to the words and the promises in the ceremonies and helped us focus on those things that are important.  It was a rainy day and I was thinking that we had put in a full day and maybe it would be OK if we missed the session and went home and rested up for the next day.  I am so glad I didn't listen to my lazy self and pushed myself to be there.  Isn't that how things usually happen that are wonderful?

We are going hiking with our friends we have made from the tour guide association tomorrow.  I am looking forward to that.  And we have many other things scheduled one on one with others in the ward to help them and with those who aren't members.  Everything from teaching someone how to use their iPad to Family History and going to lunch!

Here is the quote I used for the Sister's in our prayer meetings this week.  It is President Hinkley talking to missionaries.

"You are making a sacrifice, but it is not a sacrifice because you will get more than you give up, you will gain more than you give, and it will prove to be an investment with tremendous returns. It will prove to be a blessing instead of a sacrifice. No one who ever served in this work as a missionary, who gave his or her best efforts, need worry about making a sacrifice, because there will come blessings into the life of that individual for as long as he or she lives." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Sending love...................