To reach, teach, to touch the precious souls whom our Father has prepared for His message is a monumental task. Success is rarely simple. Generally it is preceded by tears, trial, trust and testimony ("Tears, Trials, Trust, Testimony," Ensign May 1987)
It has been a very busy week for us as we prepare for "Transfers" and for the arrival of new missionaries from the Missionary training Center in Provo, Utah. We knew that we would be expecting 15 (2 elders and 13 sisters) but were recently informed that we would be receiving 9 additional missionaries currently waiting for their Visa's to be approved. What that means is that we had to race out, purchase more beds and have them delivered and set up in less than a week. I am happy to report that we did it! Now we anxiously await their arrival.
Last Sunday afternoon we decided to check out the famous Peabody Hotel ducks in Orlando. Just to give you a brief history. The Peabody Hotel is a HUGE hotel near Disney World that specializes in conferences. Back in 1933 someone came up with the idea to train Mallard ducks to walk (waddle)down a red carpet as a gimmick. The ideas was that these ducks would be well cared for and would march down a red carpet every morning (11:00 am) and up the red carpet every evening (5:00 pm). The event was such a hit that the tradition has continued to this day. We were told by the Duck Master, Donald, (yes that is his real name) that the ducks (3 girls and a boy) are kept in service for only five years and then they are released in the wild. These specially trained ducks are raised nearby and they have a huge facility in the hotel upstairs where they sleep. It was fun to see and a great opportunity for us to meet others and tell them a little about why we are here.
All is quiet until exactly 5:00 pm and then lights, camera, action.........
The carpet is carefully rolled out, steps are secured next to the fountain, music begins to play, the ducks awake from their sleep, get a quick drink from the fountain for the long walk ahead.
Five minutes later, after all the fanfare is over, the ducks are gone, the carpet is rolled up and everyone goes about doing what they were doing before all the excitement began.
Some of you may remember the October 2012 conference talk that inspired this saying. Well I just couldn't resist letting our neighbors know who we are. We haven't had any complaints and have hopes that it might actually strike up a conversation or two.
We got mail!!! This time from GG.
Special bug repellent bandanna's, a fan, flashlights, heart candy, pens that won't get lost...thanks GG!
For those of you who think I may be exaggerating just a little about the frequent cloud bursts. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well the day started off warm and sunny like most days here then suddenly the skies opened (without warning I might add) and the rain came tumbling down...it was over in less than an hour and then the sun peeked out as though nothing had happened. It wouldn't be so bad, but you can and do get soaked to the bone just walking to your car. Of course you don't want to look like a "tourist" and actually use an umbrella or even worse wear a raincoat so you walk nonchalant without a care in the world. The problem comes when you are traveling from your car to a store or from a store to a store. Then you wander in casually literally dripping from head to toe and the store is air conditioned like a freezer to keep it cool when you aren't experiencing torrential rain storms. Brrrr!
Below are pictures of the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Melbourne Florida, one of our stops to set up an apartment. It looks very much like the Pacific Ocean to me, but what do I know? Another strange fact about Florida, they have big black "love bugs" everywhere. I am not sure if they are just a seasonal nuisance, but you have to be really careful because they fly right in your face and cover your windshield and the front grill of your car-yucky!
This weekend we had the opportunity to set up three new apartments for our incoming missionaries, due to arrive on Monday. Of course the three locations were almost in the shape of a triangle showing the farthest points of the mission. It was truly a labor of love and a valuable lesson on faith for Elder Busath and myself as we worried, fretted and wondered if the members would actually come through and be able to furnish the three apartments.
In Florida when a new mission area and resulting apartment are opened the members in the area are asked for donations. The works; a couch, desks, twin beds, dishes, silverware, bake ware you name it they are asked to donate it. But it was late Saturday afternoon, the missionaries were due to arrive on Monday afternoon, time was running out and we were still in need of many critical items. Elder Busath and I were ready to run down to the local Wal-Mart on a moments notice and spend our own money on the essentials just so we could sleep better knowing that the missionaries were well taken care of. But our Mission President assured us not to worry, that the members had never let the mission down yet. So we said a prayer, emptied the trailer carrying the meager belongings that the Mission Office had collected and set off for home just in time to make it to a double baptism. It's Sunday afternoon as I write this and the telephone has not rung once telling us that the apartments still have a need for this or that, so I have to believe that the members did it again and I am sorry that we ever doubted them.
Missionaries go forward in faith. They know their duty. These are just two of our faithful missionaries, Elder Sanford and Elder Ames. They currently serve in our Young Adult Branch and were the first companionship that we really got close to. Elder Ames departs to his home in the state of Washington on Wednesday after serving honorably for the past two years. Elder Sanford will find out who his new companion will be when he checks his e-mail from the Mission President on Monday.
This little guy lives at our apartment complex. He greets us every morning when we go out for our walk around the pond. The last time we went to 5 Guys we decided to take some peanuts home to share. Unfortunately every time we had a chance to visit our furry friends it was either raining by the bucketful or it was dark and the squirrels were already in bed. But not today! It is sunny and warm and we made a mad dash for the pond after church so we could share our treat.
As you can see it was well received.
As many of you know service is contagious........
Elder Busath cut his finger while loading up the trailer on Saturday. The elders were immediately on top of it by pulling out the last of their band aids and administering first aid. Well Elder Busath couldn't let a good turn go unnoticed so he baked some chocolate cookies this afternoon and we delivered the cookies and a new box of band aids to the elders with our thanks.
Also we feel that our Mission President was truly inspired when he established our Senior Missionary District. We had the privilege to meet together on Thursday night at the Orlando Temple. The storm was relentless and had it not been for the dedication of our district the session would have been canceled. Then if that wasn't enough we made a phone call to two of the senior couples in our district at the last minute asking for assistance as we unloaded furniture and set up the new apartments. Not one of them complained or gave an excuse, they responded immediately. It wasn't known to us until after the last item was unloaded from the trailer that one of the senior elders, 75 years of age, and the one who had helped carry in the couch, had recently recovered from a serious heart attack. He never said a word!
One more thing I just have to share, sorry. As I have mentioned before in the Florida Orlando Mission area we are all trying very hard to become "one" unified people. Although there is still a language barrier people are really reaching out to each other. We still have interpreters to translate the talks, lessons and testimonies, but today all the sisters in Relief Society sang the Church hymn "Love One Another" in Spanish. We tripped over the words, as you would image, but no one thought to point out that many of us couldn't read Spanish, we were obedient and the Spirit was so strong there was not a dry eye in the room! I felt humbled to have been there to share in the moment and will forever cherish the experience.
In closing just some food for thought for you and me......
There are millions of people yet to hear the message of the Restoration, and we must not say no in their behalf. We cannot judge who the Lord may prepare to hear His message. Some we may least expect are the ones who are best prepared to accept the gospel. What is needed by you and me? A vision of our opportunity. And then a desire to really be a neighbor. ("Who Is My Neighbor?" August 7, 1976)
We love you and wish you could be here to experience for yourself the blessings that come from missionary service. In Moroni, Chapter 7 in the Book of Mormon is tells us that if we have enough faith we can cause miracles to happen. We are seeing some of those miracles!
Until next time.................