Sunday, December 29, 2013


"God does not begin by asking about our ability, but only about our availability.  And if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability."
Neal A. Maxwell

Apparently Thanksgiving is a faded memory and Christmas time is here.

The Senior Missionary District held a Christmas potluck dinner the Monday before Christmas. Not a one of us wanted to make any plans for Christmas Day just in case our kids and grand kids wanted to Skype :)

Sister Berry getting into the Christmas spirit.

Elder Bevans and Elder Hansen checking out Elder Hansen's white elephant gift.

Sisters Nielson, Danes, Vaden and Bevans.

Following a delicious dinner we had a white elephant gift exchange.We all picked a number 1-16, I lucked out with #15 so I was ready to roll, but unfortunately everyone was on their best behavior.  I had visions of a Julie Bacchus ornament exchange dancing in my head, but sadly everyone seemed more than happy with the gifts they had selected. Even Sister Gordon who received Sponge Bob Square pants shampoo!

The Assistants to the President, or three Musketeer's, one last time.  
Elder Patten, Elder Quarnberg and Elder Curtis.  

Elder Curtis departed for Salt Lake City, UT (home) the day after Christmas. 
It's just not going to be the same without him.

Frosty friends and mission mascots.

One of Santa's helpers getting ready to make some last minute deliveries to missionaries whose Christmas packages were delayed and received in the office on Christmas Eve.

We even had a package to deliver in Sumterville so we got to get acquainted with the new calf in the herd.

Christmas Day!

                      Our Idaho grand kids!


As you can plainly see Santa must have thought we were nice and not naughty this year 
because we received plenty of reasons to be thankful.

 Tradition, tradition!  (Think Fiddler on the Roof) Although we did not feed the masses as we often did on Christmas Day, we did have steak, eggs and hash browns per our tradition!

Elder Delgado, Eric Tweedy, Elder Ago at Eric's baptism Saturday, December 29, 2013.

Following Eric's baptism we decided to check out a new Mexican restaurant on our never ending quest for food comparable to Dos Coyote in California. Eureka, we may have found it!

An unexpected gift I received after Church today from my special friend, Sister Dudley.  
Of all the blessings which I have received since being called to serve as a missionary I think the one that has meant the most to me it is the feeling that the Lord provided me when He, the Lord, let me know that He had answered the prayer of another person through me. Sister Dudley has been a member of the Church for over thirteen years and determined to seek the blessings of the temple for over three. Yet it was while we were serving in the Poinciana Branch, teaching the Temple Preparation Class, that she was finally able to decide that it was time to go to the temple, no more procrastinating. 
I don't know which one of us was more happy :)

In closing, as the new year fast approaches, let us remember that if you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always gotten and you can't build a reputation on the things you say you are going to do.  Albert Schweitzer declared, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."


Wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Spoonful of Christmas Cheer


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...


Snail mail has been excruciatingly slow here in Florida.  As a result it seemed like we waited forever until the "three amigos" could be reunited, and now our Christmas tree is happy :)

Our closet door is decked and we even have presents underneath our tree.


Even though it it Christmas time some of our favorite people (Janie included) celebrate their own very special days in December. This is a picture of Sister Hansen, one of our Senior Missionaries, assigned to the Cocoa area celebrating her birthday with our district.

On Friday, December 20th, the Florida Orlando Mission held a Christmas Devotional
 for all 200+ missionaries at the Oviedo chapel.

Elders Smith and Ferguson spreading the Christmas spirit in matching ties.

Sisters Jamison and Baker enjoying  a brief reunion.

The Christmas Devotional included inspirational talks by President and Sister Berry and beautiful musical numbers from many of our very talented missionaries.  Elder Bevans and Kirkham both on guitar, Sister Moffitt on the piano, a duet with Elder Dearden on the piano and Sister Low on the flute, a trio with Sister Fisi, Sister Monson and Elder Finai just to name a few. 
Sorry picture taking isn't allowed in the chapel so you will have to take my word for it-awesome!

Following the program we had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and enjoy some delicious 
finger foods. 
But before the evening was over each missionary was asked to stop by Santa's mail room to see if 
they got MAIL...

This is just a small sampling of the mail we have received in the past few days. 
Think 200+ missionaries times? 
The room was filled and this was only mail from Wednesday and Thursday. You might also notice a can opener, mop or random cake pan.  These "gifts"are the result of specific needs identified from our recent housing inspections.  Since our mission encompasses such a large geographical area I thought I would take advantage of everyone being together at the same location.

I wish I could share with you some of the Christmas miracles I have seen recently, but many of the experiences are very personal to me and some miracle need to remain confidential for various reasons, but be advised that the Christmas spirit is alive and thriving in the Florida Orlando Mission.

On the first day of winter Florida appeared to me...

The day actually got warmer as the afternoon wore on :)  I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas...

Yes, we wash our cars, rain or shine, and sometimes they occur within minutes of one another.

I really wanted to include pictures of the last minute Christmas shoppers, donned in their gay apparel,sunglasses, flip flops and shorts, but I still haven't figured out a way to take pictures discreetly, so you will have to use your imagination.

In closing, I just wanted to share with you some words of wisdom given to me by Sister Gordon, another one of our incredible Senior Missionaries...

The Spoon

     "Were you born with a silver spoon in your mouth?"  Traditionally that means you have come to earth with privileges, blessings and opportunities that most people don't receive.  Or, it can mean that everything you try automatically turns into success.  Whatever your impression of that quote, it all depends on perspective.  Is it you or someone else that always seems to land on top of things and have everything turn out perfectly?  Perhaps everyone has equal access to that silver spoon.
     Interesting object, a spoon.  It has been the topic of many famous quotes such as, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down;" or, "Do not put that spoon into the pot which does not boil for you;" or, "When eating with the devil, you must use a long spoon;" or, "A spoonful of honey will catch more flies that  gallon of vinegar."  No matter what connections we may have with spoons in story, legend, or song, the actual object itself is really quite intriguing.
     The simplicity of a silver spoon  is its beauty.  It is shiny.  It is useful for nourishment like soup of hot cocoa or your favorite cereal.  It is the best part of what's left in the bowl when making cakes or cookies.  It can measure all the ingredients needed for a particular recipe, and let's not forget how well it stirs all of that together.  Perhaps it is the design of the spoon that makes it so invaluable.  But really looking at a spoon can reveal truths that may have gone undiscovered before.
     One side is concave or curved inward; the opposite side in convex or rounded outward.  If you look into a shiny silver spoon on the concave side, notice that your reflection appears shrunken inward and the image is upside down.  But turn the spoon over and look once again at the convex side.   Your face now is right side up, and your expression is so inviting that it makes you smile.  The difference is that the concave side turns your image inward, whereas the convex side turns your image outward.  Concave makes you look serious, even sad, and convex makes you look happy.  The same is true of our lives.  When we allow our thoughts and actions to turn inward towards ourselves, we are not as happy as when we focus our efforts on others and how we can help them.
     During this holiday time of the year when we love and service are clearly what the Lord wants us to give to others, it might be well to remember the silver spoon.  Turn yourself outward and think about others and you will be much happier that if you turned inward and only think about yourself.  It turns out that we are all born with silver spoons...maybe in our hearts?  Keep a special one in your life just to remind you of that"...when you are in the service of your fellowmen, you are only in the service of your God."

Wishing you a ............


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Happy Holidays?

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It is a season when there are more smiles, more cheerful greetings, more acts of thoughtful kindness, more sweet remembrances of cherished friends and loved ones that are found through the rest of the entire year. In the troubles times in which we live, this is truly a miracle. Then why is it we make ourselves crazy letting the commercial aspects of these glorious season dominate our lives?

Have you overdone it again this year? Have you taken on too much for the time and energy you have? Perhaps you don't have enough money to spend for those things you feel you must purchase.  Are you stressed out, wrung out and worn out during a time when instead we should feel the simple joys? So stop already! No problem, you'll get right on that, when...pigs can fly, right?



We actually found this display of flying pigs at an apartment complex we were trying to secure a missionary apartment at.


Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.

Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!

Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,

Slap on a happy grin!

And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
Put on a happy face!
Sisters Winslow and Forsey putting on their happy faces!

Just one day of mail...
You better watch out, you better not pout... Santa's coming to town.
And if he happens to arrive a little late here in Orlando, no problem.
Friends and families of our missionaries have been doing there best
to share in the Christmas spirit of giving.

Elder and Sister Bevans helping unload the Mission trailer of treasures this week in preparation of 6 new apartments to furnish before mid January!

Elder Jones, with his eyes all aglow, at the Poinciana Branch Christmas gift exchange.

Elder Busath telling another tall tale to Elder Delgado, ho, ho, ho.

The Poinciana Branch Christmas Party and chili cook off.
Our Branch President Justo Quispe, in the Santa hat and our Young Men's President, Jody Howse, standing next to him in his "ugly" Christmas sweater that actually lights up.

As you have probably discovered finding the real joy of the Christmas season comes not in the hurrying and scurrying to get more done or in the purchasing of obligatory gifts. Real joy comes as we show love and compassion inspired by the Savior of the World...As we contemplate how to spend our money to buy gifts this holiday season, let us plan also for how we will spend our time in order to bring the true spirit of Christmas and JOY into the lives of others.
Wishing you a happier holiday season.
See you later, alligator...