Sunday, December 22, 2013

Our mission is over and we are home again

It is so hard to believe that we have finished our mission!

We have to say that in our particular case, we have never been so constantly busy, so exhausted or so happy for so long in our lives.  At times I have felt sheer joy just being in the office.  My best times have been when the missionaries were there for transfers or incoming times.  I have just loved being in their presence. 

I haven't written because I forgot how to get on my blog.  Does that show you how old I am?  Finally spent an hour and figured it out just now ;~)

Leaving our mission was extremely difficult.  We have an excellent couple to replace us, the Smedleys.  They have already served a year in our mission in Carson City as a 'Rescue' couple - working with less actives and non-members.  There are no seniors available to come and replace us so we imported them from their original call.  Senior missionaries are desperately needed. 
Even while we were training them we couldn't believe we were actually leaving.  And when we walked out of the mission office for the last time it still didn't seem to really be happening.  Even when I packed all the boxes and we went to the airport to get our son who would drive the U-Haul back for us, it still seemed like it would be a vacation or something.  We shed a LOT of tears.

Leaving our Wildcreek Ward was also very difficult.  They were wonderful to us and we loved so many people there.  

I have found it true that in every mission I have served I have met 'kindred spirits' - people I knew before in some way past time.  We become good friends that I will have forever.  That happened in this ward, and with one very special couple from the office, Will & Sophie Blankenship. Our mission President and his wife, the Hermansen's were a wonderful couple to work with and we will also always love and appreciate them. 

Now that we are home I am finally realizing it is really all over.  I guess it finally really hit home when we were in the Stake President's office and he read the words, "You are released."   Like so many callings in the past, the time comes to be released whether we love the calling we are in or not.

And as I've said before, for me going on a mission is in a way like dying.  You leave and go out to serve and then we get to come back and see what happened while we were gone.  It is always wonderful to see that our family did well without us - in fact better than if we'd been here.  They bond and care for each other.

So while we were gone these things happened at home:
1 great-grandson born - this brings our 'Greats' to 3.  Two little girls and now the Ggrandson!
Our last grandchild to be born in March-April - a little girl...
1 son-in-law married - we are all so thrilled with this!!!
6 'new' homes purchased and moved in to by various family members
3 grandchildren left on missions within 6 weeks last spring - to Australia, New Mexico, and Mexico (changed to Utah because of health reasons.)
1 grand-daughter prepared and sent in her papers and we are all waiting for her call.
1 grandson getting married in the temple to a fantastic girl this week!
Children and grandchildren advanced in school and work.
As always grandchildren grew taller - no matter how prepared you are for this, it is still a surprise.

Today we went back to our home ward, the River Ridge 8th ward.   What a wonderful feeling to feel so at home and what a wonderful reception.   And now I can say that despite missing our mission so much, we are happy to be home. 

We have loved seeing some of our family members and are looking forward to seeing the rest as soon as possible.
More about our mission later....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sept. 3, 2013
Transfer day.    Busy day.  Lots of missionaries here this afternoon to pick up new a companion or new missionary/companion.  Or to be transferred.  Or because they are leaving in the morning (three.)
Bikes everywhere.  Three left outside against the Stake Center wall (we are in the same parking lot and the missionaries are all at the Stake Center).   The 3 unlocked have been moved inside one of our storage/work areas and locked in.  Let's see what the missionaries do when they come out and their bike is gone....presumed stolen.    We've done this before.   Some missionaries don't even seem to care.  Their attitude is -  'Well, it's gone. Nothing I can do now.'    A few panic and will never leave a bike unlocked again.    The irony is that just a few yards away is a brand new bike stand we've installed to lock bikes to.  There is not a single bike attached to it.   Did no-one notice it?    Hmmmm.

I love these days.  It is hard for some of the missionaries to be transferred.  Some are so excited to move on to a new opportunity.   We have lots of Sister's these days.

We had 12 new missionaries come in today - one American who has been at the Mexico MTC learning Spanish to speak here!   Tomorrow we get 2 'Temple Square' missionary Sisters.  The missionaries serving on Temple Square are sent out for 2 or 3 transfers into proselyting missions.  These two are going to be here 3 transfers - until Jan.    We have another Sister Missionary finishing her time with us and returning to her Temple Square mission tomorrow.

It is always hard to see the missionaries leave at the end of their missions.  We will miss them so much.  But we are so happy they have done so well and will follow them on Facebook and e-mail as we see all the wonderful things that they do in the future.

So now it is 6:34.  Most of the missionaries have gone their various ways.  What a busy, wonderful time.
The missionaries who have their bikes locked up are getting wise to Sister Blankenship and came and asked her if she had their bikes.  Got to think of something new.

If you have missionaries out here ask them these questions:

1.  Are you locking your bikes EVERY SINGLE time you leave them unattended?
2.  Are your apartments/homes clean?  Not destroyed?  No maids available here.  It is ALL up to the missionaries.
More later.....

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August  18, 2013
Wow,  the last post was in June!  So much has happened and we've been so busy.  Our last transfer was July 23 and we had 30 new missionaries arrive.  Our next transfer is Sept. 3 and we'll have 12 coming in.  That is the smallest group since we opened the mission.  We are now at 264 or so missionaries so we are at the 'compliment' we've been assigned (250).  We will gradually get back to that and be around that number for a while, I believe. 

I have so many things I want to say.  One is the importance of obedience in our lives.  For me at this time - this especially applies to missionaries.  I wonder sometimes what missionaries are expecting to live like when they come on a mission.  Do they think this will be a vacation?  Our missionaries do have fun but those who have the best missions are those who obey exactly the things asked of them. 

Missions are hard.  I wonder if young people realize that just because you are 'adult' does not mean you can do anything you want the rest of your life and have no responsibility for anything at any place or any time.  I know there are people in the world who think this way - but those with goals of eternal life also must realize there is a price to pay.  The price is hard work and obeying with exactness the commandments and requirements of Heavenly Father.  This is not restricting, in fact it is the most and best kind of freedom.  And happiness and joy.   I compare this to driving a car.  There are exact rules we much obey in order to have the freedom and joy and happiness that can come with driving a car.  It is our choice if we want to have that freedom by obeying the rules or live constantly looking over our shoulders and paying various prices for not obeying the rules.

It makes my heart aches to see missionaries who have chosen repeatedly to disobey and then the consequences come.   What a long road they have ahead of them.

Another thing, if you have a missionary thinking of coming on a mission, or are a young person thinking of a mission,  PLEASE clear every possible problem you have with your Bishop before applying to come on a mission.  Many people don't realize that a leader who has the Spirit of our Heavenly Father with him can discern problems even if they aren't told about them.   And missionaries don't realize before they come on missions how they can't do much of anything without the Spirit.   They won't have the Spirit with them if they have unresolved problems that should be discussed with Bishop.  As these Missionaries become closer to the Spirit on their mission, their unresolved problem weighs heavier and heavier on them until they either confess or can't function.  By this time, resolving problems are much more difficult than they would have been had they been taken care before even applying for a mission.  Again, my heart aches and weeps for these missionaries.

I look at our missionaries and feel such a love and concern for them.  I want them to really be happy.  I want them to be successful.  I want so much for them to be obedient because then they will be successful.  I really really want them to understand this principle.  Those who do are happy and just glow even though often they are so tired.   I don't know how to let the rest know how much I love them and hurt for them when they aren't obedient and think theirs is a fun way to live.  I watch a lot of this go by as I work in the office and I can't think of anything but prayer to help them.   I also get to feel great thankfulness and joy at knowing I am seeing some of the great future leaders of the Church in those who are so obviously obedient and glowing and happy and full of joy.   I am so grateful I get to be around them.

This was a serious post I know, but I've not written for a while because I didn't know how to say all of this or even want to bring it up.   I'm glad I have finished saying these things.  Happier entries coming.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Almost June - Where has the time gone?

May 27, 2013
We had a wonderful Memorial Day at the office.  Our mission office is open 5 days a week all year - no holidays for us except Thanksgiving and Christmas and then we have mission activities to be at.

So yesterday we were at the office.  The phones only worked partially.  We couldn't contact most of the places we needed to because they were closed.  But we got a lot done and saw a number of missionaries who came in because it was their prep day and we had fun!

Today the phones were fixed really early - at 8:15 - by  someone from Facilities Management.  Thanks so much, Alan.  We placed orders, found 2 apartments we needed and got those signed up, located another with some help from a wonderful Bishop's wife in Dayton. 

Last week was a great Mission Tour.  And President's parents met him at the end of it and came home with him for a week.  We're glad for all of them.

And now a few 'Memo's for Missionaries and their Parents':

  • If you have or are, a youth with poor handwriting or printing, consider getting a calligraphy book from the library or sign up for a class.  Practice and practice and practice until you can write your name beautifully.  You are going to have to sign a lot of things in your life, so prepare to do that the best you can.  I leaves an impression of who you are just like your grooming does.

  • Parents - shop around and find neckties for your missionary or to give to a missionary you know as gifts.  I mean shop at Good Will, Savers, Deseret Industries.  Anywhere.  Find any tie that does not have a clip on it.  Missionaries LOVE ties of all kinds and trade and trade them.

  • If you are going to fill out mission application papers and haven't done so already consider this.When you are asked about your health concerns,  you don't need to put every cut you've had since birth, or every fall, or every cold.  Just list things that might have some bearing on your mission.  And use the least number of words possible to describe what you need to.   Do the same thing when it asks what your  talents, callings and jobs have been.  The people in SLC and the mission office don't need a lot of wordy explanations.   If something is really serious, then by all means explain it well. 

  • Parents of Missionaries in the Nevada Reno Mission (and other mission's, too) - If you have questions, please call me.  Part of my calling as mission secretary to is answer questions for you and your missionary BEFORE they come out to the mission field.  And I love talking to you and your missionary.  I remember well as a missionary parent, and as an adult missionary, the great desire I had to talk to someone and get questions answered.  I am so happy to answer questions and if I don't know the answer, I'll find out and get back to you or send you on to someone who does have an answer.  If you don't want to call, e-mail me!

  • The same thing goes after the missionary is on their mission.  I can relay calls from you to them and vice/versa.  Of course if there is something serious you will want to call the mission president directly.  And if there is a health concern you'll want to contact the mission mother.   But if your last pair of shoes just lost it's sole and it is now taped on with duct tape and it is a week until you can e-mail, please call me and explain and I'll call your parents.  Or if you need an address call me.  Or if your wallet was stolen, call me.  Or if mom woke up in the night worried that her missionary doesn't have enough blankets, or a warm enough coat,  call me.  You don't have to wait 2 weeks to find out through e-mail if you need to know now.  This is what I do!  And I love doing it!  I don't get to go out the where the missionaries are very much so this kind of contact is so wonderful for me! 

  • Email -  I'd like to explain that our missionary 'P Day' is on a Monday.  That is the day that missionaries are supposed to e-mail, write letters, shop, do cleaning and laundry and do something enjoyable.   Missionaries are told not to use member computers to write e-mail.  Many of them go to public libraries to e-mail.  However, here in Nevada in various places some libraries are closed on Monday.  Then missionaries have permission to e-mail on Tues.  However (again), Tuesdays here are 'District meeting mornings' and these meetings last until noon or sometimes 1 or 2 - depending on how wrapped up the missionaries get.  So I occasionally get calls from parents worried that something is wrong if they haven't gotten an e-mail.   We also need to remember that after District Meeting you need to eat and if more than one companionship goes to eat then it could take a while...  ;-) Or other things can come up.  If you haven't gotten an e-mail by Wed. or for several weeks, PLEASE call me.

I wish I could explain the great joy and happiness I have serving this mission.  I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so much.  I feel their presence really often as I work.  Sometimes I can't believe all I am capable of doing here.  I couldn't have done all this at home just working on things so I am constantly amazed.  I see big and little miracles so often.  Being around the missionaries just brings such feelings of peace and joy - really BIG joy.  They are wonderful and they bring a wonderful spirit.  Seeing their faces as they talk about people they are teaching is just such a beautiful experience.

In addition to all of this - my husband and I have 3 missionary grandchildren serving right now.  They all left in a 5 week period so they are progressing together.  We look forward so very much to each of their letters each week.  We understand why parents call and are worried because their missionary didn't e-mail on Monday.  We get to worrying, too.  :-)

'Till later.....

Saturday, May 4, 2013

'Snail Mail' is SOOOOO important. Email. Packages. Bikes.

Our missionaries can e-mail family and friends every 'preparation day'.  They cannot use a member's computer.  They have to go to a public library, a church library, a Family History library, etc. to e-mail.  When a  holiday falls on their 'p-day' and the library is closed, they can write the next day instead. 

Of course missionaries really want to hear by e-mail from family and friends.  I is important they do.

But 'snail mail' or 'regular mail' is most important.  Anytime a missionary comes to the office, they will always ask if there is any mail for them and I always hear them say things like, 'I never get mail anymore' or 'I've been out too long so everyone has forgotten me' or 'Look, all the mail is for new missionaries.  After they've been out a while, they won't get any, either.'  

Don't forget to write to your missionary - or any missionary you know.  A single letter during the mission of someone in your ward, or a missionary you know can really help, if that is all you get written.  Don't forget your missionaries.  They can get discouraged and down and letters can help so much.

I recently saw a really great idea for a package for a missionary.  It was called a 'Sunny' package and it was a little box full of yellow things.  A lot of things were from the dollar store - but everything was yellow.  What a great idea - think of all the variety of boxes you could send just using single color.

Remember once in a while to include something for the companion, especially if you know that the companion never gets mail or packages.  Ask your missionary if his/her companion gets things.  Ask when his/her birthday is.  Remember at Christmas to send something for the companion. 

Most missionaries love and really appreciate a couple of dollars tucked in a letter.  For some, $5.00 could be a couple of lunches at a fast food place.  You don't have to send a lot, but once in a while, especially if you think the missionary may not have a lot of extra money, a little would be a blessing.  This is especially true towards the end of the month when their money may be gone.

Our mission now requires all missionaries to have a bike.  This has been a huge amount of work for the office and a surprise for many missionaries and families.  Some simply cannot afford a bike.  And a bike is not all - there are helmets, lights, bumpers for at least the Sisters, and other things needed, too.

We've had several real miracles associated with getting these bikes.  One mother of a missionary in a different mission read about this and called and donated 2 complete bikes for missionaries who really need one.  What a huge blessing for our mission.  Thanks so much to her.   Members of a ward here donated 2 bikes.  The Ward mission leader bought and added the helmets & other needed things. Thanks to those who have helped by giving bikes in other ways and getting helmets and lights for needy missionaries. 

I LOVE serving this mission.  I cannot tell you how happy I am.  I find so much joy every day.  The missionaries are so young (I am 72) and bring such a wonderful spirit.  I can't help but love them before they get here, after I type and send letters, prepare their incoming book, fill out files on them.  I can't always remember their names when I see them and that frustrates me totally.  But I know that they are here because Heavenly Father wants each of them here (and I know he wants me here.)  I know Heavenly Father is real.  He is alive.  He knows each one of us and our individual feelings and thoughts.  He is our real Father.  He wants us to succeed.  He especially wants his missionaries to succeed.  We know there is opposition that does not want them to succeed. So missionaries have this new opposition in a new place doing new work.  It is understandable the missionary could be discouraged and worried and thinking they can't do want they need to do.  Please remember to write and send something once in a while to any missionary who is in the field.  It may seem a little thing for you - but may be a huge thing for the missionary.

Photos -finally!

The dates on the first 3 photos are completely off.  I forgot to set them.  :-)
This is our 'Transfer Board'.  It is one of the most 'important' and 'sought after' things for missionaries to look at.  This is where photos of every missionary are hung.  The blue signs at the top indicate zones.  The smaller aqua signs indicate districts.  The pink squares hold photos of the Sisters in our mission.  The yellow squares hold photos of missionaries called to speak Spanish.  They are hard to see, but there are a few cards who are 1/2 pink and 1/2 yellow - indicating Sisters called to speak Spanish.
The 'Transfer Board' is housed in the President office and missionaries rarely, if ever, see it. 
They LOVE to have a chance to stand and look at it.

Transfer day, April 30, 2012.  The new missionaries are inside the Prater Church, the peach/pink building you can see in the background.  Seen here are their companions-to-be or missionaries who are being transferred from one place to another.  I wish I could have been on the roof of the mission office, which is behind me.  Then I could have taken a really good picture of every one outside.  I love this time and having so many missionaries around.  What a great spirit is there.  It was a beautiful day, too.
We had 14 new Sisters incoming for these transfers.  There were 13 Elders incoming.
6 of these (3 Sisters and 3 Elders) are 'Visa Waiters' - one going to Peru and 5 to Brazil.  While they are waiting for their visas to go through they will serve in our mission and then leave for the mission they were called to.  We also have 2 'Temple Square' Sisters serving in our mission.  Temple Square missionaries go to more 'traditional' missions for a couple of transfers to serve.

This is our mission office.  It used to be a Seminary building.  It is in the back of the parking lot you see in the above photos.  It was mostly gutted and redone inside before we got here last year in June.
The Nevada Reno mission opening last July 1, 2012.  It is beautiful inside.  I love the flowers on the
bushes in front.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Large & Small miracles

A month or so ago our mission began asking all missionaries to have a bike.  Even if they also have a car they need to take their bikes with them, park, bike or walk around and the go back to their car.
This will save gas and make missionaries more visible which helps let people know we are around.

That is in addition to a number of bike only areas we have because we don't have, and won't have enough cars for all the missionaries.

Missionaries in our mission didn't expect this and neither did families.  So this has been very difficult for a number of missionaries and their folks.  We've seen a lot of miracles to do with bikes and are still having special things happen.  Bikes have been given to missionaries by people in wards or other missionaries, money for some part of needs given,  and they've been loaned by one missionary to another.  Last week a woman called and said she wanted to donate 2 bikes anonymously.  One ward donated 2 bikes and then the ward mission leader paid for helmets, locks and lights. 

We see things happen regularly that make us know how Heavenly Father blesses missionaries.

Another special blessing - this didn't happen in our mission but in the Boston Mission.  This is a quote from a good friend.  Lynlee is her grand-daughter and she is quoting her daughter.

"Lynlee is returning home from her Boston mission this Friday.  We are so excited to see her.  I don't think she is sharing that same feeling."   (Missionaries often don't want to leave the mission and those they're working with. - not part of the quote.)

 "She has been in Boston during all this past week's upheaval.

"On their P Day on Monday, the Elders and Sisters were going to go to the Boston Marathon.  They all met and then kept doing one thing and then another, and finally the thought did not enter their heads to go to the Marathon.  I just can't believe that is all coincidence.  I wonder how the Spirit works to take a thought out of all these missionaries heads and put something else into it.

"Lynlee said she knew there was trouble when all the helicopters started passing them, and then 31 police cars with sirens wailing passed them.  The mission president called them and commanded them to get to their cars and leave the city immediately.  Lynlee said they were running to their cars.

"She has been there on this mission through the storm, Sandy, and another devastation and now this.

"I think you all know how thankful we are that these missionaries go with great blessings."

We are thankful, too.   We love the missionaries and know that God lives and loves them and is aware of all that is happening in the world.  He wants the missionaries to be successful.