Thursday, August 29, 2013

The State of the Mission Report


In a few short days we will have officially been missionaries for 6 months! So it seemed only fitting that we share our "State of the Mission" report and maybe a few things that we have learned along the way.

The Florida Orlando Mission currently has (give or take a few)

116 Elders (Young men between the ages of 18-26 here in our mission )
74 Sisters (Young women between the ages of  18-24)
5 Senior Missionary Couples (Adults between the ages of 59-76)
2 Senior Single Sisters

13 more missionaries are due in two weeks!

The various countries we represent include:

New Zealand
South Africa

The states we hail from:
South Dakota

The languages:

and many who are fluent in American Sign Language

The most difficult lesson we have learned thus far, missions can be STRESSFUL!

One of very own missionaries, Elder Nakatsuka from Japan, celebrating his birthday in the mission field! International packages cannot be sent by the US Postal Service so they cannot be forwarded.  As a result they sit and sit and sit in the office.  That is until Sister Busath decides that the thought of someone missing out on a birthday gift from home is more than she can bear.  Needless to say after a 45 minute drive we were able to deliver the birthday gifts to a very grateful birthday boy :) and his companion Elder Weston!

Have you ever felt sometimes that you have hit a brick wall?  That the more you try to fix a problem the worse it gets? You make presentations at almost every meeting to prepare them for the stressful situations to come, you distribute handouts, you pray until your knees hurt and then you pray some more.  You love with all of you heart, but sometimes even that isn't enough.  The bottom line is, we can not teach stress management after they get here, there simply isn't enough time! It must be learned before they even submit their papers for it to stick.

Sister Peck, Sister Tato, Sister Merrill and Sister Strein
Awesome missionaries are flooding the earth and yet many are having to turn right around and go home because they simply aren't up to the rigors of the stress of every day life of being a missionary.  The worst part is that even though the missionary has returned home, safe and sound to deal with the issues at hand, he or she leaves behind a companion or companions that have been damaged in the process, a district with an important piece missing, an empty apartment because no one can fill their place.

Missions are not extended Priest and Laurel Activities! 
They are not summer camps for our valiant youth. 
Missions are simply said, Boot Camp for Helaman's Army!


There is no "I" in team so why in the world would you think that by sending your youth to join Helaman's Army you would expect them to be treated any different that anyone else?  We are glad to know that your youth is "Special", "Sensitive" we feel the same way about our kids, but we are sorry to tell you that even though "at home" they got to sleep in, listen to country western music, etc. this is not home!

But all is not lost, we have just the solution.  Of course, it won't cure all our ills, but it might prevent ones in the future and that is all we can really hope for.


Elder Busath teaching the basics about how to install a ceiling fan to our Portuguese Elders.
Education is the key!

As most of us in the church know, the bar regarding missionary service has been raised and as a result we are sending out spiritual giants.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that these spiritual giants are being taken to their knees by the reality of the cold, cruel world in which we live.  They are seriously unprepared to do battle because they are unfamiliar with the territory. Now we are not suggesting that we allow our children to live more "in" the world, we are only suggesting that we help our children navigate the hazards that are sure to come their way.

We are sure that many of you may have heard of the book, "Everything I Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. " We are suggesting that many (not all) of the things you will need to know as you prepare to serve a mission can be learned by...wait for it...

Getting a job!!!  Not just any job, but a job working in the fast food industry.  We can hear the murmuring already. We have actually heard from those near and dear to our hearts that they thought that they were too good to work in fast food.  We are sorry, but our experience here in the mission filed has taught us that it is a good thing to be humble, and no one is too good.

We have given this a lot of thought and we want you to just think about it for a minute.  Where else can you learn some of the following skills:

Time management-The expectation that you will need to be someplace at certain time, no matter what, or you will suffer the consequences is huge. Most employers are not as forgiving as mom, dad, the neighbor,  the soccer coach or your seminary teacher.

Finance-a paycheck is an effective motivator to help teach one how to budget and save.  It is also an effective tool to gain a personal testimony of the principle of tithing and fast offering.

Setting goals-if you cook hamburgers long enough you may actually aspire to working on the cash register.  In order to accomplish that goal you must be the best candidate for the job and that means being the best at what you currently do.  The best thing is that the lessons you learn from the ground level on up will be a great benefit if you have the opportunity to serve as a Senior Companion, a Trainer, a District, Leader, or a Zone Leader, or Sister Trainer Leader.

Becoming assertive-you thought the application process was painful!  Talking to strangers all day, even if it is just to determine if they want fries with that, is a great way to learn to "lose yourself in the work." we can't tell you how many missionaries come out and they aren't even able to make eye contact. Here in our mission we are asked to make at least 12 contacts with strangers each and every day!

Learning to deal with difficult people-Have you ever had a supervisor, co-worker or room mate you didn't like?  Well consider having a change of companions every six weeks or so. We can guarantee that there may be at least one that you won't see eye to eye with. 

Being obedient-wiping down counters, emptying garbage cans, cleaning bathrooms is never a fun job, but it's a great lesson is realizing that not everything in life is fun.  Sometimes we just have to do things we don't want to do because it is the right thing to do. We guess it's that opposition thing.  Doors actually do get shut in your face, and people may reject your message. It's hot, it rains a here a lot, bad days do happen and without the ability to make yourself happy you can become depressed, discouraged, basically an emotional and physical wreck.

We can do hard things, with the Lord's help, but that doesn't mean that we are free from doing our part. Why else would we be given opportunities to learn and to grow if we are just supposed to stay in our safe places, hanging out with friends and family until our 18th or 19th birthday comes around.

He never said this life would be fair, but it would be worth it!  We can testify to that.  There is really no other place we would rather be than here in Florida serving a mission. Is it hard being far from home, family, and friends, absolutely.  Are we blessed in more ways than we can even count, yes!

We have discovered, which really shouldn't be a shock to anyone, that the best missionaries in the field are the ones that, not only attended seminary and valiant in their church responsibilities, but they worked before they came out, and put money aside for the privilege to serve.  There seems to be a greater ability to tough it out and get over the slight, the hurt, the rejection, the disappointment if you have had a little experience in dealing with those issues before. Basically they learned to do hard things and to make the best of difficult situations.

We don't think we will ever get used to saying good bye to a missionary on their way home before their time.  It breaks our hearts and the pieces left to pick up are substantial.

The other thing that we don't spend near enough time discussing with our youth is the fact that Satan is real!  He is clever and can easily mislead them if they are not careful. I can't tell you what a shock that concept is for some of these young missionaries.  For some reason they think that being on the Lord's errand protects them from Satan's ploys.  They firmly believe that Satan is so obvious and easy to recognize, that they couldn't possible fall for his tricks, which couldn't be further from the truth.  By the time they discover that he is the cause of their discouragement and depression it has quickly gotten out of control and has begun to affect those around them. Why in the world would Satan exclude tempting missionaries, when they have such a huge impact on inviting others to come unto Christ?

We apologize if this post is a little depressing, but if it sheds a little light on a very difficult situation then it will be worth the effort. 

If nothing else, it should be food for thought.  If the idea seems reasonable please pass it on.  One less missionary being sent home before their time will be the reward!

Just our two cents!


In closing let us share a great big hug that we recently received from our kids in Idaho. 
One size fits all!
We love you and appreciate your support more than you will ever know!

 Until next time..........









Sunday, August 25, 2013

Think to Thank

Welcome back!  Did you miss us?

Well it has been another crazy two weeks and I would like to think that things are beginning to slow down, but after another 12 hour day yesterday filled with mission related business (replacing beds, installing fans, leasing more apartments) I think this may be what we should expect in the days, weeks and months to come as the Lord hastens His work.

Poor Elder Busath suffered a number of injuries as he tried to leap tall buildings in a single bound, repairing apartments, lifting bunk beds, installing fans and as a result we could have easily focused on the negative, what we lack rather than on our blessings.  Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things he has not, but rejoices for those he has."

Today my post is all about the things that we are personally grateful for.  If it would help get you in the mood try singing that song from the Sound of Music, "These Are a Few of my Favorite Things":

Memories that remind me of home.........
An actual fireplace in a not so local Wendy's restaurant in Florida

Our one and only Elder Finke, from Germany, talking German to someone in Germany
on our behalf. 
We received an anxious telephone call from a family member in Florida requesting that we contact the LDS Mission in Germany and have them send someone out to offer a blessing to their family member hospitalized in Germany.

Sister Tayla Salvesen, from South Africa.  She was hit by a car while on her bike and was recently sent to Utah to recover. 
We are so grateful that we got to know her and are hopeful that she will be able to return soon.

The Hunter's Creek Sisters, Bowman, Salvesen and Pierce.



Our apartment complex is finally being painted!  I was afraid to get my hopes up, but after reviewing some of the buildings already completed, brown on brown, beige on brown, and green on beige, I really hoped our building would be painted green, and it was!
On Friday, August 16th we received a special invitation to attend a Mission Leadership Training Meeting with Elder Erik Kopischke, 1st Councilor in the Southeast Area and of the first Quorum of the Seventy, presiding. In layman's terms he is a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and thus a very important person. 
Just one of the many things that I gained from attending this meeting, "You can only know, what you are ready to know.  You can only receive, when you are ready to receive."  We each are entitled to spiritual experiences, but we must first ask the question before we can receive the answer. He suggested that we must first ponder the things that we have questions on.  Pick one question that we have and actually write it down on a piece of paper.  Then open your mind expecting to receive an answer, focus on the question and listen carefully to the Spirit, especially at Church meetings and He will answer your question. It works!
Elder Kopischke and his companion for the day, Elder Munns, are pictured in the center of the back row behind Sister Higley in the beige sweater and blue skirt.

Saturday our Senior Missionary District scheduled an activity to visit
the Farmers Market in Winter Park.

He kind of looks like what you would expect a Florida farmer to look like, right?
Floppy hat, tropical shirt...

From left to right, Elder and Sister Nielson, Sister Vaden, Sister Dane and Sister Bevans.

After sampling some of the delicious fruits and vegetable available here at the farmers market we have all vowed to eat more healthy, at least until our next Big Mac attack.

After the Farmers Market we ventured over to the Charles Homer Morse Museum of American Art, known internationally for its collection of the works of American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.  The museum included Tiffany leaded glass lamps, stained glass windows, jewelry, the Byzantine-Romanesque chapel interior Tiffany created for the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and Tiffany's own personal collection of American art, pottery and graphics from his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall which was destroyed by fire. It was absolutely beautiful and I wish I could share pictures of the various exhibits, but there are rules enforced there regarding that very thing. I have to admit that Elder Busath got a little restless, but fortunately they even had a few exhibits with displays of the various tools used in the stained glass and jewelry process to keep his interest.
 You guessed it, we got mail all the way from Meridian, Idaho!

Oooh, ahhh!

In honor of back to school our special backpack was filled with everything we would need to continue our education.
Cute note books, to record our ever growing list of things to do, a pink and a blue thermos, to keep us hydrated with our Crystal Light in the Florida humidity, pictures of our grand kids, Dax, Cale and Jett to cheer us up on down days, checkers, (I think old people are supposed to like to play them) handi wipes, to use in between cleaning assignments, a little white board, our favorite candy, trail mix, sticky notes, etc.  all of which will come in handy and are greatly appreciated.
We are beginning to make the other Senior Missionaries jealous of being loved so much :) 
Thanks Esslinger family!!!
 On Tuesday, August 20th and Wednesday, August 21st the Florida Orlando Mission held Zone Conference.  On Tuesday, the DeLand, Leesburg and Orlando Zones were invited to attend at the church building in Oviedo.  On Wednesday, the Cocoa, Hunter's Creek and Orlando South Zones gathered at the Orlando South Stake Center for instruction.
Zone Conferences usually begin bright and early at 8:00 am where their vehicles are inspected to check tire pressure, fluid levels, signs of misuse.  Then a group picture of each zone is taken and instruction commences until 3:00 that afternoon.

The Orlando South Zone
 The Cocoa Zone

 The Hunter's Creek Zone
This is the Zone we are currently assigned and I am the cute one on the far left in the red sweater.

 Lunch is usually held between 12:00 until 12:30 and is provided by an assigned ward Relief Society.  Since each Zone Conference usually has about 120 people attending it is a huge deal.  The missionaries usually sing the Primary song "Nephi's Courage", to those that have provided the lunch with a special verse at the end to thank them for their service.


After lunch Elder Busath and I were given the assignment to provide instruction on some important details that our missionaries seemed to be forgetting.  Little things like texting me instead of calling me, completing official forms accurately, changing the filters on their air conditioner monthly, submitting their utility bills to the office to be paid, notifying the office of "accidents" and injuries, etc.  Since our presentation was immediately after lunch and it was expected to be a long day we decided to have some fun.

You be the Investigator!

Allow me to introduce our selves, Shirley Holmes, great grand daughter of the famous Sherlock Holmes, and my faithful sidekick Doctor Watson. We represented the agency known as C.L.U.E-Chaos Lingers Until Educated!  Long story short we hid 20 clues under their chairs and worked together to try and solve, "The Mystery at the Mission Office".

 The game was "Elementary".  As each clue was discovered the "investigator" was responsible to stand and read the clue aloud.  If he or she was successful in solving the clue they were given a Hershey's kiss as a reward.  The kiss representing- Key Information Secures Solutions!

We had the best time being silly, waiving a duster around to punctuate a particular idea, my phone always waiting for an important text, a garbage bag in my pocket to throw away bad ideas...the best thing is that I think that many of the missionaries finally got our message. 
My phone was seriously on fire the next few days with texts reporting referrals, requesting name tags, apartment needs and one companionship actually sent in 4 months worth of utility bills that they had been hanging on to because they simply didn't know what to do with them :(
At the completion of the Conference the Mission President introduced our new Mission banner and requested that we all "leave our mark".


I tried to roll my fingerprint like Elder Busath, and leave my "mark", but as expected my fingerprint has no definite features or ridges so it always comes out like a big blob :(
In fact I have often been told that I would make a great bad guy because they would never be able to raise my prints at a crime scene, good to know right?


The utilities company recently called the Mission Office to report an extremely large usage of water at the Mission Home.  Since it wasn't transfer week, with an expected water usage increase as a result of more showers being taken and more dishes being washed, it was another mystery to be solved.
The actual amount of water being used and the resulting bill itself $$$ was pointing to a HUGE water leak somewhere so we decided to do some investigating on our own.  Unfortunately we didn't find anything out of the ordinary around the perimeter of the house unless you call 7 wild turkeys overseeing the project usual.
In California when investigating a water leak you would not be surprised to find a big mound in your lawn due to a broken pipe.  In Florida the soil is so sandy that the water would never collect long enough to cause a mound to give you an obvious clue that maybe a pipe might be broken. Inquiring minds still want to know, where is the leak? More details to come.
In closing I had hoped to add just two more of my favorite things of which I am truly grateful.  One a recent picture of our kids and the other a picture with all of our grand kids, but I am ashamed to admit that I am technology challenged.  They were sent to me by text this weekend after a fun family get together in Sacramento. So now I need to learn how to send a text from my phone to my e-mail. Maybe there is something in that backpack we just received that will help me :)

This is a wonderful time to be living on the earth.  Our opportunities are limitless.  While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, families who sacrifice for each other (like driving all the way to Idaho to help a sister and her family move) and friends who know us and love us anyway..

We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain negative and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.  If ingratitude is a sin, then shouldn't gratitude be a virtue?

We love each of you and appreciate you checking in on us from time to time.
We are having a wonderful missionary experience and appreciate the opportunity to serve at this time in this place!

Until next time..........see you later alligator!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Have you ever had one of those days where the same song just keeps playing over and over on your mind?  Well some may call it a "Senior Moment", I prefer to call it inspiration. 
So to get the best out of this posting please hum along with me.....
that is if you are old enough to remember it :)

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away? 
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name, 
and they're always glad you came.
(Cindy Johnson all the way from California on vacation  to Disney World)
The Orlando Florida Temple-my favorite place to get away...

You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.
Our Temple Preparation Sunday School class, Sister Elizabeth Carter, Brother Tommy Smith, Brother Randy Weiser, Sister Betty Lou Albury, on a field trip to attend a temple tour.

Chips and salsa, ole!


You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.
The Pleasant Hill Ward linger longer! 
Last month it was cold cereal, this month it was chips and dips!


A little shout out from the wild animal kingdom here in Florida.
This little guy didn't have any problem posing for the picture.
 I think he was a little disappointed that he didn't get a treat for his effort.

Boys, will be boys? 
Just so you know that we don't spend all of our time visiting with old friends, photographing unusual wildlife and eating chips and dips. 
This "little hole" was the result of  some innocent rough housing by two Elders, who have asked to remain nameless.  After making the long drive to their location and examining the hole we then had to make the necessary measurements so that we could get some estimates to have the work done.  Fortunately the cost of the repair turned out to be less extensive than the landlord lead us to believe. 
Fortunately the wall was sheet rock with plaster textures to add accent to the older home, not just plaster as we had been advised.


 Elders Dixon and Spry in the Clermont Ward, where the hole was discovered-enough said.

Sister Wells, and Blair currently serving in the Lecanto area by the Gulf of Mexico.
 (No we haven't been to the gulf yet, but it is definitely on our list of things to do)
We had to move a queen and king bed out of their very small, very crowded bedroom and replace them with two twin beds. 
While e were there they also asked us to affix a white board on their wall.  The funny thing was that once Elder Busath had his tool box open Sister Blair grabbed the measuring tape, made some mathematical calculations and instructed him exactly where she wanted it hung.  After a few questions we found out that she was an interior design major before coming out on her mission.

A random pink elephant on the side of the road. 

Sisters Samson and Allen, currently serving in the DeLand area just being silly.
The Assistants to the Mission President had to take the third seat out of the large van to transport large boxes filled with Book of Mormons and pamphlets to a special training meeting this week. 
What better place to store it than the Mission Office lobby, right?  You would be surprised how may missionaries sat on the bench seat while waiting for one thing or another and actually buckled up :)


Saturday was our "P" Day. P stands for preparation and it's the day when we don't have to go into the office and we are suppose to take care of personal business. 
Well Elder Busath had mentioned (more than once) that he hadn't had a personal "P" Day for quite some time, sniff, sniff.
So, being a good companion,  I put my list of Mission Needs on hold and let him direct the days activities. 
Well, he made one major mistake.
He suggested that we go to Lowe's to "look" at paint in case we decide to repaint our front door in the future.  The ugly door has been driving him crazy so I knew I wouldn't have to do much persuading.  Of course once I got into the paint department I couldn't resist striking while the pan was hot. I just had to pick up some inexpensive paint to touch up our dining room wall.  The apartment management had been promising to take care of it for the past 5+ months and it still was not done.  Then there were those flowers that needed replacing on our patio, and a fan and light fixture that the Portuguese Elders just had to have.



Needless to say he was a good sport about all of it and we actually got all the work done in record time.  We even had time to walk around the high school track a few times, do some laundry, clean the apartment, go grocery shopping and have lunch at McDonald's. 
I am afraid to admit that we have become McDonald cheeseburger junkies, but without an In and Out, or Smashbuger nearby what are you going to do? 
We can't afford to go to Five Guys too often, we are starving missionaries after all, so a McDonald's deluxe double cheeseburger and single cheeseburger fit our budget perfectly.
In closing I would just like to share a thought by Dallin H. Oaks that may explain why we are here doing what we are doing;
Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. Our Utah pioneers excelled at putting 'the general welfare and community goals over individual gain and personal ambition'.  That same quality is evident in the conversion stories of modern pioneers.  Upon receiving a testimony of the truth of the restored gospel, they have unhesitatingly sacrificed all that was required to assure that its blessings will be available to their children and to generations unborn. 
Or like the plaque on our wall states:
Mis-sion-ary, {noun}, a person who leaves their family for a while,
so others can be with their families for eternity!
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away? 
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name, 
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.