Sunday, March 29, 2015

Friday's Farewell Party! March 27, 2015

Many of the ward members got together and threw a "Surprise Farewell Party" for us!  Last week we had several people come up to us and tell us that they were sorry that they wouldn't be able to come to our party on Friday so we started to figure out that something had been planned....

It was a great evening that was so sweet for us.  We will remember it always.  Here are the pictures!
Quintin - the best Elder's Quorum president

Randal, Bart and Frank

The Rizzos

Cheri and Veronica in the kitchen

Marco Gastello and Diana Trefflich

Lynn Reeves

Elsa Gastelo 

My mission mom and dad
Brother and Sister Guyman

Claire Smith

Rita, Gilbert, Mark, Frank and Debbie


Julie, Claire, Guymans and Carol

Debbie, Frank and Roger


Knorrs, Rita and missionaries

Elder Bird

Gail, Donna, Isabel and Diana

Sister Fisher and the TWINS - Diana and Donna

Sister Fisher and the Rizzos

Rita and Frank

Bart, Elder Bird and Elder Egnew

Me and Frank - Frank thinks this looks like he has a great idea!
Not possible!

Roger, Brother Fisher and Bishop Sanders
Seated are Brother Guyman and the Towers


Isabel's darling

Debbie Donavan and Me- with Bart
photo bombing

The Welcome sign to our party - love it!

A bad selfie of Veronica and me

JoAnn and Cheri with Bart falling asleep sitting up.
He got up at 3:30 am to get the burritos cooking
before he went to work.

Carol and Monique

Bart - sleeping again - kinda

Tim Tower

Vicki Tower, Joanne LaForti and Monique Frazier

March 29, 2015 LAST Post from the Mission!

Our week of LASTS!  Seriously?  Is it over?  20 months come and gone?  Amazing.  Everyone asks me how it feels and honestly - I can't really tell you.  It isn't really real yet.  Maybe when we get on our way home........

Our days this week have been plum full of training and teaching the Thompsons.  They are great people and will do just fine.  They have been really concerned and confused at times this week but have been real troopers and believed in the power of the Lord to help them learn.  It has been very obvious to see how Sister Thompson has been blessed to know and understand her job.  There is a ton to learn and no one can learn it in a week but she has started to trust more and doubt less.  She has seen miracles as she has been able to understand and perform.  I am so proud of her and her great attitude.  Training is tiring and tedious and in the mean time we have to keep the office running.  I had left several things to do this week so that Sister Thompson would have the experience of actually doing them but that left us really busy.  We would both go home pooped and would some how come back the next day raring to go.  It has been a good week at the office and I am starting to feel less needed and able to think about moving on.

Our week started Monday with dinner at Roger's friend,  Craig Dixon and his wife Yolanda.  He is a Stake President here in the mission and a former mission president in Mexico City.  They invited us to eat with them when we first go here and several times in-between.  It was fun to be able to fill them in on our challenges and successes.   We enjoyed being able to think back about how worried we were when we first arrived and how great it has been to serve here and have the assignments we have had.  

At our first dinner with them last year, Craig challenged me with the problems physically that I had been having before coming on our mission.  He gave me great insight and training that I believe has made a huge difference in my ability to cope with those things and to finally come on top of them.  I have felt better since being here because of his tutoring and I feel so blessed to be lead to him and the conversations that we have had.  Missions are like that, you know......  Blessings have come in all shapes and sizes!

On Tuesday at the office, the other Senior Couples and Cheri planned a bit of a going away party.  There was a sign on the wall that the missionaries signed and goodies.  I forgot to take pictures but it was really a hard time to "party."  We were just into our second day of training the Thompsons and each time we took time to hug missionaries one LAST time, they had to just sit and wait.  They didn't know enough to do much of anything.  So we found ourselves running back and forth and were a bit frazzled by the time the day was done.  

Tuesday night was our LAST scripture study class.  It was fun to look around and see the growth in the members of the class.  We have loved it and feel like it was a wonderful thing to do and be a part of!  We will miss those people probably the most!

Roger has been able to get to the beach with many of the people here this last week and have one LAST surf with them.  Friday morning was a mandatory "Board Meeting."  (Board as in surf board!)  The bishop is a life guard and texted Roger to come to this very important meeting Friday morning at 7am!  He does it often with members of the ward and has invited Roger many times but he has always been busy with missionary stuff and couldn't go.  But he decided that he should go this LAST time and had a good time.  He went another time with Tim Tower our dear judge friend here in our ward and others.  He has really enjoyed the surf - I know you are surprised!  I think that it has been a good thing to help others accept him as a real person and to soften to him.  What a great treat the beach as been for Roger.

Friday was a great event.  Many of our dear friends in the ward put together a "surprise farewell party" for us.  Only we knew about it.  But it was great.  We were thinking that about 40 to 50 people showed up for it.  Bart made his famous burritos and everyone else brought wonderful pot luck.  I will do a separate post that shows the pictures from that fun night.  I want to make sure and save pictures of those dear people we love.  It felt like we were getting ready to leave HOME!

Saturday was our LAST baptism here in the ward.  Serey Tap was a street contact.  The missionaries actually met him on the street and started talking to him.  That doesn't happen very often and doesn't usually work that well.  But this time it did.  The ward did their job by fellowshipping him and he was baptized by the main fellowshipper, Brother Frazier. 

Sister Frazier gave the talk at the baptism and then the missionaries showed the new video, "Because He Lives" and gave the Restoration lesson after Serey's baptism.  I was thinking about how sad it was that the missionaries didn't get to baptize Serey but I realized that that is the best way to have things happen.  Serey's best contact in the ward isn't the missionaries who will move on but it is a ward member who he has grown to love.  Perfect!

Roger and David going off
into the beach together one
LAST time!
After the baptism we went for one LAST trip to the beach with Bart and Cheri.  That was their request for our last time together.  We were also able to pick up David from the Institute and have one LAST trip to Black's beach with him before we leave.  Too bad that the waves were just too crazy which didn't make for the best surfing.

Bart, Cheri and I enjoyed just sitting and talking and talking a walk down the beach.  We will miss them and pray for them.  They were inactive when we came and are both looking forward to being sealed in June when we come back!  We have watched them both grow in confidence and testimony.  It has been the most amazing to watch Bart become committed.  He used to be a bit shy and wouldn't look anyone in the eyes.  He now is so involved, volunteers for prayers, is always hugging and helping others etc. It has been so great to see the gospel transform him in to a happier, more confident man.  We hope the ward does their job in keeping them involved but we feel confident that they are stable.  Cheri is now in the Relief Society presidency and Bart is the best Ward Cleaning Coordinator you have ever met!

David, Roger, Cheri and Bart
Saturday night was the Women's Conference Session.  There were around 50 women and girls who showed up and they had a nice little mix and mingle afterwards.  I really was amazed that there were that many because everyone can just stay home and watch it on their computer or TV.

I went with Veronica - one of the ladies I have worked with while here.  One LAST outing with her.  She loved the meeting and the people after and it was a good thing for her to go to.

The Young Women's provided the goodies and the Relief Society had tables with fruit, cheeses and cracker and meat balls.  A nice combo and it was fun to sit around and talk to so many we have grown to love while here.  We have many people from the 12th ward who we served for a while and it was fun connect with them too.  
As we walked out of the
building after the Women's
Conference we were
blessed with this!

Today was our LAST 7am Ward Council, our LAST Sacrament meeting, our LAST Gospel Principles class to teach, our LAST church meeting as missionaries!  OK I finally started to realize that it was our last of all of these things and cried a bit.  It was a great day!  Everyone is so sweet to us and we have enjoyed hugging and saying good-bye.  Yesterday the ward mission leader asked me to teach the Gospel Principle class.  I had basically no time to prepare but was inspired to be able to give a sweet lesson on the Atonement with so many of the class participating and sharing.  I sang in the choir for one LAST time and was the only alto!  They will have to start recruiting I guess.  It was the deaf branch's turn to run the Sacrament meeting and it was so sweet to see our blind and deaf members sign the sacrament prayer.  It was a great LAST!  I will miss the spirit of those sweet deaf people.  That has been a wonderful treat to be able to have them with our ward while here.

Tonight we will go to a member's home for desserts.  Tomorrow we will train the Thompsons, then Roger will get off to surf with others in the ward who wanted one LAST time with him.  Monday night we have been invited to a BBQ by some great friends.  Tuesday is the LAST staff meeting at the office with the mission president at 9 am.  Also it is P day for the missionaries and we will hang around a bit and say good bye to them.  Tuesday afternoon will be spent cleaning and packing our apartment.  And Wednesday we are off!  Thursday morning we will meet with the Stake President and we released.

We can't hardly believe what a great experience our mission has been!  Never in our wildest imaginations would we have been able to dream what this would be like.  We have loved doing it together and being able to concentrate on serving the Lord.  I can't imagine missing this opportunity to serve in this way.  The gospel is true.  I know that because I have seen so many miracles that have come as we try to move this work forward.  I am grateful for my testimony and the blessing of being able to KNOW deep in my heart and have conviction.  My testimony has grown and my love for my Savior has deepened.  The gospel is the best way to live life.  There are so many problems that will be solved if the gospel precepts are lived.  There is peace that is ours as we travel through hard times.  Support and strength are around every corner.  There is no need to feel alone when we have a testimony burning in our hearts.  I know this with every fiber of my being.  I love the Lord and the sweet peace that fills my heart as I say that.

Three more days...............

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 21, 2015

Fast and furious!  We are nearing the finish line of our mission and feel like we have really got to turn on the steam to get everything in before we go.  So many people have waited until the last minute to say that they want us over "one more time" that it has been hard to fit it all in.  But we are doing it and having a great time.  

Monday was our dinner with the President Schmitt and his family.  Usually the senior couples come over before they leave and have dinner at their home for us.  But Roger knew that the Schmitt's oldest son David LOVES to surf and has been wanting to try Black's Beach.  That is the beach that you have to have a special key to get into the drive down to it so he doesn't get to go.  He invited them to come do a picnic dinner on the beach with us instead and they quickly took us up on it.  We had a great time with their darling family.

We are amazed at the amount of time that is necessary to run a mission.  And the Schmitt's do it so well.  In the meantime they are trying to raise a very active, wonderful bunch of kids.  And they do that well too.  

It was fun to be a part of the other half of their life for a few hours and to see the love and concern - and normalcy that they have in their family.  

Sister Schmitt's mom was in town for the weekend so we were able to be there with her too.  

David isn't in any of our pictures because he was out in the surf the whole time.  He said that he wasn't leaving until the sun was down.  He has decided that the beach has to be a part of his life from now on.  He is totally loving the fact that they are here in San Diego.  Some of the other kids are struggling a bit.  It is an amazing sacrifice that this darling family has made to come serve.  

Our little scripture class hasn't liked being swallowed up in Family History so they have decided to still meet but do it on Tuesday so that they won't disturb the Family History class.  We are thrilled that they will still meet because it has been a good thing for all of them.  New members, struggling members, investigators all need extra love and study.  We are hoping that they keep it going after we are gone!  We read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and had some sweet discussion.  I was impressed again as we read Joseph Smith's testimony of what happened, that it is all true, every word of it!  I love the Spirit.

We were invited to Carol's home for dinner on Wednesday.  Her son has fixed up several gourmet meals this last year which we have absolutely loved!  He decided that they needed to feed us one more time before we left, which we agreed with whole heartedly!

He served us a French meal.  First we had heated brie with garlic and rosemary with toasted buttered bread to dip into it. Oh I was in heaven!

Then we had ratatouille.  It smelled so good as we entered the house and didn't disappoint us as we ate it.

Chicken bourguignon was the main course.  It was so tender and yummy with potatoes in the sauce.

We appreciate Carol and her love and support of us.  The members here are great that way and we have felt honored to be the recipients of their service.  It is quite humbling and cool!

Then for Roger's favorite part of the meal - we had a flat apple pie.  Of course that is not what it is called in French lingo but I can't remember the name of it.  But it was so good, flakey, and not too sweet.  Yummmmmm!

We took the day off Thursday.  We weren't really sure that we should do that because we still have so much to do at the office to be ready for the new people but we did it anyway.  Vera and Charles invited us to go hiking at their favorite state park and we haven't done much with them lately.  They are our tour guide friends that we have enjoyed so much.

We first took them up to the Institute and had breakfast there.  It is final's week and each morning the secretary there at the Institute makes an amazing breakfast and serves it from 7-11:30 for the students.  We thought it would be a good thing to show them the Institute and have them meet some of the students.  They really were impressed with what the church does for the kids there.

We then had to drive past the temple to get out to the place we were hiking.  As we passed by the temple Charles asked us about Moroni and who he was.  Roger was able to explain all about the Restoration and Moroni's role in it.  We had a great conversation.  And enjoyed the rest of the day with them.  They are good people and have treated us to sweetly.

They have given us free tickets to the zoo for you guys when you have come to see us.  They made the arrangements so that we could usher for the theaters around here.  We have been invited to their home for dinners on special occasions etc.  We love them and hope to know them for a long time.

We also had a visit from Cheryl and Don Elm.  We had an extra apartment in our complex that no one was staying in so they came down to use it.  They have their daughter Jacy living here in San Diego so they were able to visit with her family without having to sleep there.  We were able to spend time with them Friday which we always enjoy!  They are our heroes.  We learn so much from them each time we are with them.   I can't believe I didn't get one picture.

Saturday was the Relief Society Birthday Party and I included pictures of the sisters there at the party.

I love these women.  It is amazing how close you can come to people in only a year and 10 months!

Bart is in one of them.  He was there being the Priesthood presence and got to enjoy the yummy brunch that was served.  

They all have helped us and affected us in one way or another while here.  This ward feels like home and it will be hard to go back in a way.  But we have decided that we have to do the same thing back home that we did here.  Just jump in and be friendly!

Saturday night was a big event for our buddy David.  David is from China and joined the church a year and a half ago.  We taught him while at the Institute and he has been a great friend since.  He and Roger go surfing and play ping pong often as we have tried to help him here.  He received his call and Saturday night he opened it.  He invited us to his official "Call Opening".  His parents were there via Skype from China and many were listening on a conference call.  Others were tweeted!  Oh my isn't modern technology amazing!

He will be leaving in July and serving in the Washington DC South mission.  One of Jon Huntsman's son is his mission president.  We are so excited for his adventure.  He will be speaking Mandarin Chinese there.

Today was our second to the last Sunday and we were asked to speak.  There were three young women speakers with us on the program so they said that we would only have about 7 minutes.  But of course the young women didn't take much time at all.  We were OK and were able to add in some good byes to our talks.  One of the young women is not a member because her father won't let her join the church.  We were hoping that we would be able to get him there to hear her speak and be able to see what a good thing the church is for her but he didn't come.  She was amazing and did a great job. We were able to be a part of her coming to church and it felt so good to hear her do so well!

We are heading to our final week here.  Our new couple is here and settling into their apartment and Roger just talked to them about getting at the office bright and early Monday morning to start training.  It will be good to see how adept they are at catching on to computer stuff so we are aware of how painful it might be to train them!  We are hoping for the best.  It is a little bit strange to think that all of the things that kept us crazy busy for the last 22 months will just stop and someone else will jump on and keep it going.  Thank goodness this is the Lord's work because I just couldn't imagine the mission working without His help.

We have been so blessed and only now are allowing ourselves to think seriously about what things we will be doing after we leave here.  We love you all!  Until next week...............

I included more pictures of our desert adventure: