Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Best Kept Secret

I just knew you couldn’t resist…

As we look forward to the arrival of twenty four new missionaries Monday I just couldn't let one more day go by without sharing a little something that I have learned.
The best kept secret is that…missions are………hard!


 I am not talking about hard, as in hard work, because that is definitely an understatement.  I am talking about hard as in not what you expected, frustrating, disappointing and yes sometimes depressing.  We as adults spend way too much time running interference for our children, in a means of showing love and trying to protect them.  I am sad to report that we have done them a HUGE disservice.   As a result we have incredible young missionaries arriving in the mission field totally unprepared for what is to come.  They spend days, even weeks trying to figure out what is wrong with them.  Why isn’t being a missionary a more positive experience, after all it’s supposed to be the best two years of their lives, right? They internalize their doubts and fears because they certainly must be the only one that feels confused, anxious, scared, stressed.  They have rarely experienced failure or rejection, after all we are all about praise and building their self esteem as a parent and as leaders and I will be the first to admit that I am guilty! What we should be spending more time on is teaching coping skills. Like it or not, we will not always be there to rescue them-nor should we.
"What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s stripling warriors, are “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity” and who are “true at all times in whatsoever they [are] entrusted” Alma 53:20
Elder Ballard-
"We don’t need spiritually weak and semi committed individuals. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot send you on a mission to be re-activated, reformed, or to receive a testimony.  We just don’t have time for that.  We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” Doctrine and Covenants 4:5
As you know stress is an unavoidable and normal part of life, but unmanageable stress is one of the main reasons some missionaries struggle with depression, anxiety, and a wide range of physical aches and pains. It breaks my heart when they have to be sent home due to stress related problems never knowing the blessings of missionary service. I wish I could tell you how rare it is, but it is becoming a HUGE problem.
Basically it all come down to one thing, knowing how to respond to stress.

I could go on and on about how to handle stress, but my point is simple:
Parents, leaders, friends, family teach your youth how to identify and manage stress before they submit their papers for a mission! Those of you that are returned missionaries I am not advocating that you tell stories to instill fear and trembling among prospective missionaries, only that you be truthful. No more sugar coating.  If you struggled with stress at any time during your mission admit it and share your solution. Being forewarned can be a valuable tool when it happens to them, and it will!  Missions are......HARD (But worth every second).

As a Senior Missionary, and I think I can speak for all of us, I promise you if you will help prepare your prospective missionaries to face the challenges ahead by teaching them how to manage stress and to learn to trust in the Lord now, I will do my best to take good care of them while they are here in the mission field.

Just my two cents......

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

Sorry for the delay, but it has been another one of those weeks.  A roller coaster ride of ups and downs, twists and turns, but through the adventure we have come to learn a little more about how interconnected patience is to hope and faith-you simply can not rush the outcome, no matter how much you want to, but must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled.

Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without become angry, frustrated, or anxious.  It is the ability to do God's will and accept His timing. His timing, not ours.

Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature.  There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all.  Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required. President Thomas S. Monson

A young Canadian pianist and composer serving as an LDS missionary in the Guatemala Coban Mission was seriously injured when a truck he was riding in overturned on the way to a service activity.

Elder Joshua Allen Burton, 23, of Cardston, Alberta, broke his back and underwent surgery Saturday night after the accident that morning. He reported that sensation was returning to his legs, according to a family statement on Burton's Facebook page.

But he died Monday night.

We recently heard about Josh and his accident from our Senior Missionary friends, the Bevans.  Elder Bevans had been Josh's home teaching companion and the Bevans shared with us wonderful stories about Josh, his amazing musical abilities and the special young man that he was.  We had rejoiced in the miracle of his recovery from surgery Monday night at our District Meeting and now we were joining them in mourning his loss. 

We were given the humbling responsibility of notifying Sister Low, of his death.  Sister Low is also serving in the Florida Orlando Mission and a very close friend of Josh.  How thankful we are for our testimony of the Plan of Happiness.  It was one of the most difficult things that we have ever had to do, but there was a sweet feeling of peace and comfort that came over each of us as we cried and spoke of Josh and his ongoing work as a missionary.

Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends and we have hope that they too will have peace and comfort in the days and weeks to come.

Obviously our post just wouldn't be the same without including some of our fine feathered friends, and lets be honest who can not smile when seeing a mother duck with her ducklings?

 A surprise gift from "my Portuguese Elders" Elders Costa, Delgado and Untch currently serving in the Metro West area. When unwrapped it is a HUGE chocolate egg filled with little chocolate candies.  Delicious!

Remember I mentioned earlier about ups and downs?  Well Elder Untch is a "Visa Waiter" originally called to serve in Brazil. Well if this week wasn't tough enough we just learned that his Visa came through so he will be leaving for Brazil, July 29th.  We are really excited for him, but will miss him terribly.

 Swimming lessons? 

Happy Birthday to Elder Busath!  Elder Howard and Niederhausen can't believe
that he didn't plan to share his cookie!

Yes, he got mail and treats and lots of gift cards to our favorite restaurants! Thanks everyone!


Janie and Dave Pollmann just "helping the cause".
What cause you might ask.  Well another one of our daughters, Marianne, and her family are moving to Meridian, Idaho. Her husband, Nick, got a job as a Respiratory Therapist at one of the hospitals there and so they will be packing up the end of August to start their new adventure. 
The current count is 4-California, 2-Idaho.

Sister Salveson, from South Africa and Elder Green, from Utah, hard at work.  Both are recovering from recent injuries and are currently assigned to serve in the office.  She was hit by a car while she and her two companions were preparing to cross the street with their bikes and he was injured...
wait for playing basketball on his preparation day :( 
They both have a very long recovery ahead of them, but unfortunately Elder Green, after serving since January, had to return home today to begin extensive physical therapy.   
Dinner time at our apartment !
If Elder Busath isn't hunting down bugs, he is feeding the squirrels and breaking bread with the ducks

These two little guys are my motivation each morning to drag myself out of bed and go for a walk around the pond. They really need names, but all I can come up with so far are Huey and Luey, but I think those names are already taken :)
This month we celebrate the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. They sacrificed and suffered in order to be able to worship.

We have been called on to carry on their legacy of faith.

“We are all needed to finish the work that was begun by those pioneering Saints,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2008 general conference.
“The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to … attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.”
How grateful we are for the sacrifices of the Utah pioneers! Many of them gave their lives to provide us with the privilege and freedom to worship a kind and loving Father in Heaven
who know each one of us personally and loves us anyway. 
I may not be born from pioneer stock, but I too can be a pioneer.
Let us all have the faith to go and do like Nephi of old........
Thanks for stopping by to check in on us. We are happy, healthy and love serving the Lord!
Until next time...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Personal Peace

Our #3 daughter Tracy, had the opportunity to teach her 5 year old son Charles, Primary (Sunday School) class a few weeks ago and the class sent us some pictures that they had made.  Our refrigerator wasn't quite big enough to display all of our pictures so we decided to decorate our bedroom wall with our beautiful works of art. The display actually reminds me of a smile so it helps me to meet the day, come what may, with a smile and a happy thought.
Thank you Tracy, Charles, Justin, Nevaeh, Tess, Joshua and Sienna.

The past week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and without going into great detail it's been both the worst of times and the best of times.

I have never been any good at good byes and this week was a double whammy. We had to say farewell to both Elder and Sister Marble, who served in the DeLand area and Sisters Grant and Stewart, who served in the LDS Employment Services office. Although we have only known them a short time we have grown to love each of them and I seriously can't imagine them not being here with us.


 With transfers being only a little more than two weeks away we are racing to get all eight apartments leased and ready for occupancy.  Part of the process is establishing an account for utilities.  Some counties will let you take care of the details over the phone, others online, while others require a personal visit.  Ocoee requires a face to face so it's another road trip for us :) 

Below is an apartment complex in Bunnell, Florida we recently set up for two of our sister missionaries. It is just a few miles from the ocean and it is probably my favorite apartment thus far.  The apartment has brand new laminate floors, carpet in the bedrooms, overhead fans and lights, a garbage disposal, a microwave, a washer and dryer and to top it off the management company left a goodie bag with toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher soap, bar soap, etc. 
All the things you need to feel welcome and help you get started making this place your home! 
You would be amazed at how unusual that is.  Depending on the area, sometimes we are lucky to get an apartment with the even the basics.  A garbage disposal, carpeting, maybe a microwave, usually no fans or overhead lights and definitely no goodie bag :( So this apartment made me happy and I understand that the ward members furnishing it are so excited to welcome sister missionaries that I am sure it will be just perfect!
 Guess who?  Yep, Lambie! 
When she heard that we were going on another road trip without her
 she baaa baaa like a baby until we agreed to take her along.

Elder Busath checking out the "goodie bag."

I realize that you probably can't comprehend how nice it is to have laminate flooring instead of carpeting, but when you have seen the damage done by tired missionaries who didn't take the time to carry their bikes over, not across, the carpet to a designated place with a tarp you would begin to understand.  Of course this particular floor is brand spanking new and I shudder at the thought the first time someone "forgets" that bikes are to be carried not rolled to the patio outside.

 The Atlantic Ocean! As I mentioned Bunnell is just a few miles from the ocean and even I couldn't resist a quick peek. It was beautiful and I wish we had time to truly enjoy it but work called and so we were off.

 Lambie was a little disappointed that we didn't have time to stay and build some sand castles, but we still had two beds to pick up and a delivery to make.

Only in Florida :) This pond is actually surrounded by apartments.  I am not sure if kids in Florida learn at an early age that stoves are HOT, candy is not good for you, and alligators live in ponds, so beware!

It has been a crazy week and even though we had challenges we have been blessed.  We learned that peace is not just a lack of conflict or contention. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, and will keep His commandments, even during our trials and disappointments.

"Even with the trials of life, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace.  Not temporary tranquility, but an abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment.

Agency is essential to the plan of happiness.  It allows for the love, sacrifice, personal growth, and experience necessary for our eternal progression.  This agency also allows for all the pain and suffering we experience in mortality, even when caused by things we do not understand."
Elder Quentin L. Cook

Wishing you your own personal peace as you endure the challenges of life.  Tomorrow is another day, so make it a great one!

See you later alligator.........

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Oh beautiful for spacious skies...

America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crowed thy good with brotherhood,
from sea to shining sea.

Welcome back! 
I hope you don't mind but I decided to use some artistic license and display some of our pictures out of order just to set the can almost hear the bombs bursting in air, right?

Anyway as you can see we got mail! 
The Bacchus family sent us some beautiful pictures for our refrigerator and lots and lots of fun things.  Candy, patriotic cupcake mix, bacon popcorn, red, white and blue leis, and necklaces, squirt guns.  I think they probably had as much fun packing the box as we did opening it :)  Thanks!!!

Okay so I have to admit when I saw this sign on the side of the road I was a little tempted to pull this sign out of the ground so I could take it home with me. It absolutely captures the spirit of FLORIDA.


Last Saturday, our Senior Missionary District decided to play like tourists and we scheduled a trip to the Deseret Citrus Ranch in St. Cloud, Florida.  It was about an hour away from our apartment, but a very nice drive in the country.

The Deseret Ranch covers 290,000 acres of land and is owed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It stretches across three counties, Orange, Osceola and Brevard in central Florida.  Most of the land was purchased in the 1950's so it has been around for quite some time.

The ranch functions primarily as a commercial cow-calf operation and is one of the premier cattle producers in the nation.  There are about 44,000 cows and 1,300 bulls at the ranch and they actually have created their own breed called the Deseret Red.

The ranch also manages 1,700 acres of citrus, containing almost a quarter million trees.  Most of the citrus consists of juice oranges, as well as some navel oranges, tangerines and tangelos. So the next time you pick up some orange juice check the label it is probably from here.

The ranch is also home to some of Florida's most beautiful and sometimes rare, plants and animals and has actually built a 500 acre man made reservoir that acts as a natural wetland and a Wood stork rockery which is currently an endangered species.

Our tour guides
Fun Fact:
 Did you know that if you measure an alligator from snout to eye it will be the exact number of feet he measures from snout to tail.


  Almost all of the 90 full time employees live on the Ranch and as a result this water slide was created to keep the kids and adults happy in the heat.

Always interested in finding out how things work...
 During the course of the 90 minute tour, by air conditioned van I might add, we were able to appreciate the vast area that the Ranch encompasses.
 Although we expected to see deer, cows and maybe a bobcat if we were lucky.
Instead we found gators lurking in the water.
The cattle don't seem too concerned about them and the gators appear the keep their distance.
Can't you almost hear the theme song to the movie "Jaws"?
Look closely, just another gator...
Another Fun Fact:
Did you know that the word "deseret" means honeybee and stands for industrious and hard work?  In fact the Ranch use a "beehive" for its cattle brand.
 These are pictures of a very old cypress grove on the Ranch

Brown sand cranes-when they mate they mate for life.

Just a bunch of wannabee cowboys and cowgirls :)
From the back, Elder and Sister Sherwood, and Sister and Elder Gebs.  Then on to the  front row starting at the left Elder Busath and yours truly, Sister and Elder Bevans, and
Sister and Elder Marble.

 Sister Sherwood and Elder and Sister Marble

 It appears that one of the ranch hands had a little spare time!

After 25 years Elder Busath was unable to attend Girl's Camp this year.  So to make him feel a little better we drove down the road from the Ranch and took a self guided tour of the Girl's Camp facilities here.  We actually ran in to the current care taker, Elder Appel, from Ventura California, clearing some brush on his quad. Because the camp was closed for the week prior to the 4th of July his wife had flown home to spend time being a Grandma and Elder Appel was holding down the fort until her return. He was just full of information (and probably just a little lonely) and we could have spent all day exchanging stories with him.  He told us that he and his wife were called to be care takers at the camp a few years ago and during the course of taking care of business Sister Appel was involved in an accident which flipped over the quad that she was driving, fracturing her pelvis, so their mission was cut short so that she could recover.  A few months ago they received a phone call asking them if they would be interested in returning to manage the camp for 6 months.  They were thrilled and readily agreed, so here they are!
The Girl's Camp is 35 miles from civilization measures 85 acres total, but only 30 acres are currently maintained.

Because we are talking the wild kingdom out here they have a big problem with wild pigs.  Not Porky or even Wilbur, like in Charlotte's Web, but WILD pigs (think boars, but smaller) that wreck havoc throughout the camp. There is actually a bounty on killing the pigs, $20 for a large pig and $5 for a small pig and the hunting season is year round.

There is both a Shooting Range, with .22 caliber rifles and an Archery Range to keep the girls busy.

I guess we weren't the only ones visiting camp that day!

The girls sleep in  little cottages that are air conditioned of course.  They are outfitted with 5 bunk beds on each side, sleeping a total of 20. 

Peek a boo, I see you.....


I am just speculating, but I believe this open area is where the girls would hold work shops or do crafts early in the morning, before the heat of the day or the rains come.

 The main eating area is enclosed with screening to keep the girl's in and the critters out with
HUGE fans at all four corners.

The best kept secret in Florida! Barbecues!
I was wondering where they kept them.

This is on the way to the showers and bathrooms.

 There is also a CORE fitness course, 

 a huge  water slide,

and even an amphitheater for firesides and presentations.

No this is not Bambi, in fact he is not even real.  Last summer he was part of a Boy Scout Encampment where they actually used him for target practice with their bows and arrows.

Of course these are the real thing, just checking to see what all the fuss is about :0

As we were leaving Girl's Camp on our way home we noticed a small sign off to the right of the road that we just couldn't resist...

Ye Ha, a real arena and everything.  Okay so we didn't see any horses, bulls or even cowboys, just a couple of worker's laying cement, but we could have.

 Allow me to introduce the newest member of our Senior Missionary District.  This is Sister and Elder Nielson from Salt Lake City, Utah, who arrived on July 2nd. 
Just a little history on the Nielson's: 
They were originally called to serve in Brazil, where Elder Nielson served as a young man, but it had been over 10 months and their Visa's had still not been approved. Getting more than a little frustrated and anxious to serve they contacted our new Mission President, Michael Berry, and offered to come to the Florida Orlando Mission.  President Berry was once a councilor in their Stake Presidency in Salt Lake before he moved to Draper, Utah 15 months ago  so they knew one another.  They even had the opportunity to serve on a pioneer trek together.  He immediately said, "Yes", and here they are. 
Sister Nielson will be serving as medical support in the mission because she is a nurse and Elder Nielson will be working with the Portuguese people in the area they have been assigned. 
We are thrilled to have them here and look forward to getting to know them better.

 For the 4th of July our Senior Missionary District got together at "The Great Outdoors and RV Nature and Golf Resort, in Titusville, where the Sherwood's live.  The Sherwood's reserved the pavilion and we had a feast of Navajo Tacos, pound cake with fruit, banana cookies and of course s'mores, thanks to our California kids :)
Sister Marble, Elder Nielson, Elder Marble and Sister Moline with her back to us.
Sister Lowry, Sister Salveson and Sister Nielson in the back.  Sister and Elder Gebs to the left.
  Same crowd with one important addition...

I didn't want you to think that this whole "Wild Kingdom" thing was rare.  This is a black snake bird, just outside the pavilion. I think the reason he is referred to as a "snake" bird is  because of his long lean neck.  These birds have no oil on their feathers and can swim under water for long distances.  In fact we have a snake bird in the pond behind our apartment who thinks he is a shark. Every morning while I am out walking he is swimming around with one wing skimming the surface of the water.  It looks very much like a shark fin.

Just chatting and waiting for everyone to arrive.  From the window is Elder marble, Sister Marble, Sister and Elder Moline and Elder Bevan's.

 Sister Salveson, Sister Nielson, Sister Sherwood (our host) and Elder Nielson.

The Sister Missionaries, Sister Lowry and Sister Salveson were asked to join us, for dinner and to share a lesson.  Sister Salveson, in the red top is from South Africa, and was recently injured while crossing the street and walking her bike.  The driver didn't see her and although the car wasn't going very fast, vehicle versus pedestrian is never good.  She is currently on crutches and light duty so we wanted to help make her day a cause to celebrate.
 Home sweet home...they are actually painting our apartment complex after talking about it
for the past 4 months!
 Guess what, we might actually have some more ducklings :)

The Lord gave a divine promise to the ancient inhabitants of this favored country (the United States) : "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ."  (Ether 2:12)
Are we serving the God of the land, the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we entitled to His divine blessings?
Do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind?  Do we love our neighbor as ourselves?
If not, why not?
Until next time...........