Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28, 2015

Another week gone!  It is just going way too fast.  It is a good thing that we live so close and can come back.  There are so many people that want to have us for dinner one more time or do something with us before we go.  I remember as a mom having kids out there that "all by themselves".  It is fun to be on this side of things and to realize that a missionary is not alone at all.  They are surrounded with so many good things.  I see how hard our mission president works to connect with each one of the missionaries.  They each have a companion, a district leader, two zone leaders, assistants, people in their wards, bishops etc.  And EVERYONE loves missionaries.  Then there is the Lord and the opportunity to represent Him and to feel his love.  Nope - not alone.  Even as senior missionaries we have had that same wonderful bunch of support for us too.  What a wonderful experience it has been. We will truly never be the same.  I can't imagine missing this opportunity.

It has been a pretty uneventful week.  Sister Parkin - the new sister in the office got sick and was gone two days.  The other couple in the office was gone lots this week and I found myself alone trying to do it all in the office many days this week.  I actually enjoyed it.  I really have a hard time when there isn't much to do there.  I love being busy and involved.

We had our scripture class.  It was our last one in the Pearl of Great Price.  Boy it has been good to teach those wonderful scriptures and go through them again.  We are now going to start the Book of Mormon.  With all of the new members and newly activated members in our group we feel it will be a good thing to do.  We are hoping that they will keep it up when we are gone.  I doubt that another couple will be given to our ward so they will have to continue it without us.  I feel that they might.  We have made great bonds there and love those people.

Friday was a wonderful day for us.  Another one of those milestones.  We went with the other missionaries that are leaving this month to the temple.  There are three senior couples and four missionaries - a very small group.  Pres. and Sister Schmitt were there too.  We first took pictures on the temple grounds and then went in and dressed.  We were treated to be able to have a message first from Sister Schmitt in the temple and then President Schmitt.  Pres. Northcutt of the temple presidency and his wife then talked to us.  Pres. Northcutt talked about Christ when we was walking on the water.  He reminded us of Peter and his amazing faith to just jump out of the boat and starting walking on the water to Christ.  As long as Peter had his eyes on the Savior he was able to stay on top  of the water.  But as soon as he looked away from him, he started to sink.  He reminded us all to keep our eyes on the Savior.  We should always do those things that help us have Him in our hearts and minds.  Prayer, scripture study, attendance at church, the sacrament, etc.  It was a sweet experience to be there together.

Next transfer there will be 22 missionaries leaving and the transfer in May will have 31 missionaries going home.  These are the missionaries who came out with the new age changes.  What is sad is that we are not getting back any where near the amount of missionaries that we are loosing.  Two years ago the mission was struggling with getting enough apartments for them and opening new areas.  Now we will be faced with pulling missionaries out of areas and apartments.  We are now at about 250 missionaries and we think we will be down to about 200 in by the end of the summer.

So we loose those 4 missionaries on Tuesday along with a missionary who is transferring to another mission.  And we get 6 new ones that day.  Then transfers are Wednesday.  There are lots of changes with the mission leadership so things should be a bit crazy.  Tons of things have to be done between now and the end of the week and we are gearing up for that.  I think we have finally figured out how to do what needs to be done for transfers and how to not mess up too badly.  Now it is time to go I guess.  Isn't that how it is?

Well, keep praying for us.  We want to sprint to the end and come home tired.  We are working hard and loving the blessing of being missionaries.  We love you all and will see you soon!

Sorry, I didn't take many pictures this week.

This is a picture of Brenda Wu.  She came to our ward five weeks ago and was alone.  I went up to greet her and found out she is from Argentina.  She is here with a group of 25 students learning Spanish.  They are here for 6 weeks, going to classes and enjoying the sights and sounds of San Diego.  It was her birthday and she had just turned 18 so she asked if she could come sit with me in Relief Society.  I told her that she could probably go to Young Women while here and then start RS when she got home if that felt more comfortable.  She said that she had found in her life that she gets blessings for following the church the way it is set up!  We have become good friends.  She is a concert pianist and a beautiful daughter of God!  So proud of her!

This was taken on P day in the office.  Four of my wonderful "daughters" from the Mormon Battalion came in and we had to take a few pictures.  I love these women and am so proud of them.  I remember each of them as they first came to the mission and now I see them so much more confident, more committed and more beautiful!  They have taught me so many things by sharing their love and their stories.  They each have changed and refined.  Life hasn't been easy for them.  One's brother committed suicide the first day she was here in San Diego.  All have learned through those struggles how to accept challenges and find the Lord's will in their lives.  Missions are great things!  And so are missionaries!

 This is Elder and Sister Riley.  They serve in the "valley".  About 2 hours to the east of San Diego is the Imperial Valley.  It is out in the middle of nowhere and an interesting place to serve.  It was the place we were so afraid that they would send us ---  just way too far from the beach!!  But everyone who serves there loves it.  There are 12 companionships out there and 8 of them are Spanish speaking.  They say that the members are such great missionaries.  They are building the kingdom out there quickly and get many more baptisms because they have members that are doing their part.  They came in for the day and took us to lunch!  What fun!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 21, 2015

Some really great things happened this week.  When I think back on our mission, this week will be one that I will remember well.

Prs. Schmitt's family makes
us a handmade card each
At the office things are still a bit different with out the Soffes there.  I am realizing that part of the problem is that the "buck stops with us". We are the ones who have been there the longest and supposedly know the most.  The Parkins are so new and the Knorrs have a hard time learning things so we really are relied on to handle the hard stuff.  That's Ok.  But different.  We did make one big change at the office.  We have all had candy jars for the missionaries on our desks.  But we have decided that we are eating the candy along with them and we are all gaining weight.  So we are trying to have more healthy snacks to share.  Still trying to figure out what I might have for them.  Any ideas?

The van ride
We had a fun Scripture Class this week.  We went on a field trip!  One of our members had never been to the Mormon Battalion.  That is a real shame when you live right here.  Almost a sin!  Roger got the mission van and we all piled in and drove over there.  There were several that didn't come but we had fun with the ones who did.  It is always nice to be at the Battalion with the sisters there and some of my favorites took us through the tour.

Our little gang in front
of the Battalion
They now have Meet the Mormons there at the center so we saw part of that while we waited for our tour to start and then did the tour.  Our group has a lot of people with hard luck stories and we have had a wonderful experience with them going through the Pearl of Great Price.  There really are great "pearls" in there and we have had good discussions.  We feel honored to have been a part of this group and to help out there.  It has been a good way to involve newly activated members.  Bart and Cheri are our best attenders now and are encouraging others as they need support and love to come too.  Wednesday's just won't ever be the same.
Sister Kennedy is beautiful
and we love her!

Elder Egnew is one of the
missionaries in our ward.
Sister Larsen lives in PG
and will be adopted soon!

Thursday was our ward temple night.  We were excited to go be there with ward members.  We took Cheri with us and when we got there there were just four others from our ward.  Too bad but it is always a great to be in the temple.  

Elder Parkin reading
the news about
his new grand son.
Elder Parkin was a bundle of nerves all day on Friday.  His daughter was in labor and he would come in every now and then through the day and give us updates.  You would have thought he was having the baby.  He came in and told us the news when the baby was finally here and he had such a huge grin on his face.  He said something about being sure that he was sure that he was just as tired as his daughter with all of the worry!  We had to tell him that that was not even close to true.  But he was drained and didn't get much done all day.  So cute.  

We were able to take a long lunch and go up to the La Jolla Institute for their Friday Forum to see the Coombs.  The Coombs were the couple that were at the Institute before we were there.  They have been home since May and came back to visit.  We loved seeing them and all of our kids at the Institute.  

A great highlight of our
mission!  Bart going to do
baptisms for the first time.
Friday was the highlight of the week!  And one of the main highlights of our mission.  We keep being told that all missionary work leads to the temple and the covenants made there.  Friday we were able to go with Bart to be in the temple doing baptisms for the first time.  Friday morning, Cheri and I were able to miraculously find his grandfather's information so that we could have Bart do his baptism.  She didn't tell Bart until we got into the temple what we had found and he was so touched.  I also had some Goeringer names that he could do.  Cheri had Bart's grandmothers name and some of our Goeringer names and Roger was able to do the baptizing.  I went in and was able to watch it all and enjoy the great spirit that comes from participating in this great work.  As Bart walked into the baptismal room, I could tell that he wasn't alone!  There was such a strong spirit there with him - such a happy spirit.  So cool.  He felt it too and it was a wonderful night.  We met Bart first as we went to visit them as inactive members and invite them to come back.  He answered the door without a shirt on and seemed really gruff.  He turned us over to Cheri and went in to the other room to watch TV.  Wasn't interested at all.  But Cheri was and through her, he has come back too!  
Friday Forum
David our Chinese friend
showed a video of his
friend and him visiting China
Roger was able to spend some good time in the ocean this morning and into the afternoon with David - our institute friend.  I stayed back and was able to do laundry and clean our little home.  We really don't do what we should to keep it clean and it was nice to have the time to organize things in the cupboards etc.  I always feel so much better when I do that.  

You have to get a picture when you go!
Ready to start a new week.  The weeks are flying by and we realize that it will be all over soon.  That is so sad and good at the same time.  We are ready to be home with family and friends.  We miss you all.  But then we have made so many new friends and San Diego will always have a piece of our hearts!  I guess we will just have to come back some time and visit.  We already have some jobs to come baby sit some of our ward members homes when they go out of town.  

President Schmitt sends out an email before P day to each of the missionaries.  There was a quote in this week's message that I want to share.

"I started studying kids and adults in all kinds of super challenging settings, and in every study my question was, who is successful here and why? ... In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn't social intelligence. It wasn't good looks, physical health, and it wasn't I.Q. It was grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."

He added that we are blessed because we don't have to stick it out on our own.  The Lord will send his spirit to help us.  The Holy Ghost can give us that boost we need to get through the hard stuff.  We just have to do those things to have him with us.  Read, pray, go to church and keep the commandments.

So we head off to another week - trying to live it like a marathon, not a sprint.   

Love you all!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015!

Whiz!  The week is over so quickly.  Lots of great things going on!

Roger - ushering
We had a great week full of lots of wonderful things and it feels really good tonight to relax a bit!  We were able to usher with all of the good people we have met here in the usher program.  The play was "Murder for Two" and is a musical comedy and was very intertaining.  It actually only had two actors.  One was the detective trying to solve the murder and the other actor played all of the 11 suspects.  Very interesting and fun.  We think we might get to usher one more play before we return home.  This has a wonderful opportunity to see some great plays and to meet some good people we would not have met any other way.  We think that we won't tell them we are leaving and try to be able to come back and usher a bit while on vacation!

Wednesday was our Scripture Study Class. We had a great group again and it was nice to be in the home of Bart and Cheri - our newly activated couple.  Bart took charge just like a Priesthood holder should.  They both seemed to be pleased we were meeting in their home and there was a great feeling of love and a good spirit there.  So different from when we first knocked on their door over a year ago.  Bart told us that because of the love and concern shown by us and others in the ward he has come back.  That's what love and concern can do for people.  Really sometimes that is all that people need.  To know that they are loved and appreciated.  What a joy!  We have planned a "field trip" for next week.  We will get the mission van and take everyone to the Mormon Battalion.  We realized that many of our group have never been there!  That is a shame that we are going to correct next week.  

The temperature
most of the week!
The new cards
are here!
I had a couple of less active sisters ready to go with me to the Relief Society meeting on Thursday but only one of them actually came.  That's how things go a lot of the time.  But it was a great meeting and I was so glad I went.  There were many reasons why I should have cancelled and not gone but I kept feeling that it was more important to go.  Both the less active sister and I had a great experience. We had a lady come who is a therapist for LDS Social Services.  She taught us about being emotionally healthy.  What was interesting was I have had a problem that has caused me a lot of tears and pain.  I kept getting the answer that I should just lay it at the feet of the Savior and focus on serving hard on our mission.  So I was trying to do that.  But I really didn't now how laying my problem at his feet actually works.  How do I do this?  I have been studying that and got lots of answers at the RS meeting.  Her main focus was on just that - letting Christ carry our burden - do what I can but actually hand the burden to him and move on to do those things that I can do something about.  I won't go in to the details but it was wonderful and I am trying harder to get good at this.  I wish that I knew these things a lot earlier in my life!  

Count them - SEVEN!

The highlight of our week was next!  Thursday night we came home and went to bed, leaving our keys to our place out in our car for Stacia and girls to come in.  They arrived around 1:30 am and were so quiet we weren't sure they had actually arrived when we woke up.  We woke up to a room full of 7 darling girls laying all over our floors and couches!  We tip toed over them and tried to not wake them as we took off for work the next morning at 7:30 am.  I don't think that we were as sneaky as they were coming in.

We quickly got what was urgent at the office and then took off around 11am to come home and play with the kids.  Stacia, Chanel, Jeneca, Alyssa, Taylor, Halee and their friend Saylor (not sure how to spell it) came with us to LaJolla Shores Beach for the afternoon.  What a beautiful day!  Perfect weather and so much fun to be with these beautiful young ladies!  We miss you all and love you so much.  It is so fun to see you growing and becoming strong in the gospel.

We played games Friday night and it felt like a bit of home!  What fun - even if Chanel won almost everything we played.  We tiptoed out over all the sleeping bodies again Saturday morning to go and help with cleaning the church.

We got back in enough time to make Crepes - TRADITION! - for them all.  We were really proud of the huge amounts of crepes that they could put down.  Amazing.  They cleaned up and headed off for their dance competition and left us wishing for more hugs and time with them.  Thanks for coming guys!  It was sooooooo fun for us!

We then rushed over to La Jolla where Chris and Wayne King were staying.  They are our dear friends from Burbank and we talked for awhile and caught up on things.  We then took off to Caroline's - a wonderful little brunch place on the beach for lunch.  It was fun to catch up with them.  It really helped me appreciate our health.  Wayne has had back problems for years and then several years ago got in a car accident which again injured his back more!  He can barely stand to go from bed to wheel chair.  Chris is a great support and strength for him and basically has to do everything for him - and does! To think that Roger is actually a year older than Wayne was hard to believe.  It was so good to catch up!

That evening we were able to go to Rancho Bernardo - a beautiful upscale neighborhood here in San Diego.  Iva Lou used to live in our ward and served us dinner many times while here.  She then moved to Rancho Bernardo and wanted to have us to dinner one last time before we leave.  Iva Lou is the lady Roger is standing by in the picture and Siela is the lady who has given many baby gifts that we have shared with those of you who have had babies.  It was great to be with them and the missionaries of course.  Iva Lou is a great example of how to grow old gracefully and I love her dearly.  Oh we will miss so many wonderful people when we go home!

We are gearing up for going home.  We have started not buying the BIG Costco sized things so that we can make sure and eat things up.  We are trying to get those people we have worked so hard with to have others pick up and befriend them.  People are so busy and it is hard to get others to see the advantages to spending that time on someone they don't really know or love yet.  So many things to do and such little time.  We should be plenty busy trying to get all done that needs to be done before we leave.  We will be tired!

I was talking to "Salt Lake" earlier this week.  (Salt Lake is the term we use for talking to Church Headquarters.)  I was asking them about a senior couple we had received notification of coming to our mission but had not been sent all the information that we needed.  While talking to them I asked if it would be possible for the couple coming to the office to take our place could miss the MTC office training and come a little earlier so we will have time to train them.  They were supposed to show up on the 27th and we were set to leave on the 30th.  That just won't give us enough time to train them.  Which would man we would have to stay several weeks into April.  The man I was talking to said that he would have to check and he would let me know.  An hour later he called back and said that he had talked to the Stake President and he contacted the new couple and all is set!  That means that we will for sure be able to leave here the end of March or at least the first few days of April.  We are getting excited to be home and start this next chapter in our lives.

If there is one thing that we have learned on our mission is that it is important to do what is asked and do it well and when it is time to move on to the next thing - we should move on with a great attitude and see what else the Lord has for us to learn.  So we will move on and be excited for it.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 8, 2015

I still am not feeling 100% but doing much better this week.  I guess I must have the flu.  It just seems to last and last.  Just when I think I am doing better, I'm not.  This is the first year in a long time that I didn't get a flu shot.  Won't be doing that again.  There is only one of us in the office who hasn't joined in the fun of being sick and we often cough in unison as we work.  

Monday was our Senior Couple Family Home Evening.  We are officially the couple who has been here the longest.  Even the mission president and Mormon Battalion Director came after us.  It definitely is a strange feeling.  I looked around the full room at the great bunch of people there and realized that we have seen a whole other room worth of couples leave during our stint here.  Wonderful people who we have grown to love and respect!  We said good bye to two couples and hello to three new ones.  They told us that fewer couples are signing up to go on missions and that our numbers will most likely be decreasing.  Oh I wish all could now how great it is to be on a mission.  I can't imagine missing this in our life.  

Tuesday was a sad day for me.  It was the Soffe's last day and it hit me hard.  We have loved serving with them.  They were such a joy to spend all day long with - and that is something you can't say about everyone.  They have left a huge hole and it just isn't as fun without them.  There were always smiles and good nature with them.  We will miss them a lot.  The new couple, Elder and Sister Parkin who are replacing them are wonderful and will do a great job. And they are pleasant to be with - it is just not the same without the Soffes.  It is helping to make it easier to leave when our time comes.  
We had some appetizers set out for us and the missionaries who came by to pick up things for their zones and tried to have a little party.  There were lots and lots of hugs and pictures and even some tears off and on.  

Elder Soffe has never worn regular ties in his life.  He has always worn bow ties.  They wouldn't allow him to wear a bow time on a mission so he dutifully wore the required "uniform".  On his last day, he brought all of his ties to the office and gave them away to the missionaries as they came.  He walked out that evening with no tie on.  Glad to not have to wear one again!   Back to his bow ties!

I had Roger take a picture of me and Sister Soffe.  It actually is horrible because we were both starting to cry.  I love this lady and have worked side by side with her for over 6 months and haven't had one problem with her.  She is a darling, hard working lady who has been a great example of so many things.  I feel so blessed to have had her be a part of my life.  She lives in Salt Lake so we hope that we will see each other often.

This picture is of the Soffes and our mail man, Anthony.  We have worked on him to have missionaries teach him.  We has said that he will but that right now he is just too busy.  He has a wonderful cheerful attitude and had a great friendship with the Soffes.

We took lots of pictures Tuesday and most of them were a bit crazy like this one.  Elder Soffe always has some joke going on with the Elders.  They sometimes aren't sure whether it is a joke or not but they all love him and will miss him too.

 Wednesday was our Scripture class.  I keep thinking that I will take a picture of our class when they are all there.  But that never seems to happen, so I took this one with those who were there this time.  We have loved our class and the people there.  It is always good to make friends with people who you normally wouldn't choose.  We have grown to love these good people and to appreciate their hearts.  We have learned a lot together through this last year and half.  Two of them are planning on coming up to Women's Conference at the end of April and will stay with us.  We are glad that San Diego is close enough that we will see our friends often after we are done.   Two of our class members are new converts, two have just returned to activity, one has been a member for several years and just went to the temple with us a few months ago.  The lady whose home we meet in wanted to have the class in her home because she has worked in Primary for so many years and hasn't been able to go to Sunday School for so long.  It is a great group of friends.

We spent Saturday at the beach.  We took Bart and Cheri with us along with a couple of the La Jolla Institute kids and went to the private beach just down from the Institute.  It was a beautiful day - just about perfect and we really enjoyed being there and just relaxing.  A great way to end a busy week!

I love the gospel and the help it gives me.  It is true and I know that because it blesses my life.  I feel so blessed to know that I can pray to my Heavenly Father and that He actually listens and blesses me.  I woke in the middle of the night one night this week and was struggling to get back to sleep.  I have been heart broken about some challenges and had a bad dream about it all.  It was too real to shake off.   I started reading in the New Era a story of a young lady who was an excellent violinist and then hurt her left hand.  It was a real struggle for a year or so and she remembered one night where she was having a particularly hard time.  She said she had prayed that God would help her get through her trial and be OK.  Almost immediately she felt peace and was comforted.  That reminded me that I could do the same thing and I dropped to my knees.  I was amazed at how quickly the spirit soothed my soul and helped me feel peace.  I feel back asleep and got the rest I needed.  And I have had that stay with me for the last few days!

Now that is pretty simple and normal in our every day lives.  How blessed we are to have that!  So many people we meet here don't have any idea of that blessing and how it works.  I am grateful that I have been blessed to have my Heavenly Father an active part of my life!  The gospel is true.