Sunday, January 26, 2014

As they say in Texas, "If you've done it, it ain't braggin'."

Hi from frosty Florida. 

 Okay so 45 degrees may not seem cold to you, but when you are used to the tropical lows of the 70s and all of a sudden we have a wind chill factor of 20 it's FREEZING! Enough with the cold fronts already!

 Just one day of mail following Martin Luther King Day, a State holiday! 
I can hardly wait for Valentine's Day mail to arrive :(

Once a boy always a boy!
President and Sister Berry's daughter, Lizanne, her husband and 4 beautiful children came for a visit this week.  It was a beautiful day, so while the grown ups talked and got acquainted Elder Busath, always a boy at heart and a Grandpa to boot, took the opportunity to head outside and play kickball with the boys, Scott and McKay.

On Thursday the Senior Missionary District headed to Cocoa, or more precisely, Jetty Park, to have a tail gate party and to watch the launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral. Fried chicken, potato, macaroni and fruit salad, veggies, rolls, donut holes and cookies.  Do we know how to party or what?

While we were there the Disney cruise ship, Dream, decided to pass by
just to remind us of where were and how the rest of the world lives.

Obviously we weren't the only ones that had the great idea to watch the launch.  When we arrived the park was almost empty, but by the time night fell it was packed.

NASA TDRS-L relay satellite launch aboard Atlas V rocket on Jan. 23, 2014. Credit: Jeff Seibert/ Shot from the Kennedy Space Center

The countdown began at 2 p.m. EST (GMT-5), setting the stage for a sky-lighting liftoff from launch complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:05 p.m., the opening of a 40-minute launch window. A problem with the telemetry occurred at about 9:01 just four minutes before the launch, postponing the final countdown for a brief period of time.  Fortunately they were able to resolve the problem and the launch was on.  As I said before it was COLD, so after our tailgate party and a brisk hike along the pier most of us, including those from Utah who were very familiar with cold weather, decided to huddle in our cars with the heat on until it was time to see the launch.


It was amazing!
After we clearly heard Mission Control give the go ahead on the radio station were carefully monitoring, Go, Go, Go as each department reported! (They really do say that)
The four minute countdown began once again and before we knew it
5-4-3-2-1-the rocket was successfully launched!
Suddenly the sky began to fill with a glowing orange light and there was a brief moment when all you could see was orange. 
Then the rocket, a little fire ball to the naked eye raced across the sky overhead, it's tail barely recognizable.

On Thursday, January 23, 2014 at exactly 9:33 EST a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket was launched on a mission to boost a new NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite into orbit, the second in a $715 million upgrade of the agency's globe-spanning communications network-and we were there!  OK so we were actually about 2 to 4 miles away but we saw the rocket race across the sky with our own eyes.

A view from the van we were driving at o dark hundred Saturday morning as we headed to the Orlando South Stake Center to prepare to feed 260 hungry missionaries following a special conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson.

The Florida Orlando Temple-our view from the parking lot of the
 Orlando South Stake Center
On Saturday, January 20th we were privileged to attend a special  Missionary Conference at the Orlando South Stake center where Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints, would be addressing us.
Elder Nelson, an internationally renowned surgeon, medical researcher, and author of numerous publications and chapters in medical textbooks has lectured and visited professionally throughout the United States and in many other nations prior to his call as a General Authority.
Born September 9, 1924, Elder Nelson is the son of Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson. He and his wife, the former Dantzel White, have ten children. Sister Nelson passed away in February 2005. In April 2006, he married Wendy L. Watson.
Just a few of the things we learned from this incredible conference:
  • As of this week 84,000 missionaries are currently serving full time missions.
  • We should be prepared to invite others to come unto Christ, "Whenever, wherever, whoever"
  • More important than speaking is listening.  When you listen carefully to others , you understand them better. If we listen with love, we won't need to wonder what to say it will be given to us-by the Spirit. And by the Spirit we will be able to see with spiritual eyes , hear with spiritual ears and listen with our hearts.
  • Our Mission Statement should always be-
For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  Moses 1:39

Before the conference, the Senior Missionary District, or as we like to refer to them, "The Rescuers" gathered together very early that morning to begin preparations for a luncheon of pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, cucumber and carrots, chips and chocolate chip cookies.

Elders Clare and Nielson with Sisters Gordon and Hansen in the background putting the finishing touches on our table decorations for the luncheon.

Sisters Vaden and Danes with Elders Clare and Bevans, supervising.
Ready or not!

 Following the luncheon was the Orlando South Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting so we quickly stowed the tables and re-arranged the chairs transforming the gym in minutes.

Sister Sheffield with yours truly!

Just when we thought our work was done Saturday we discovered that the sister missionaries in Viera were stranded. Even after a thorough evaluation by our very own "Mr. Goodwrench, their car simply would not go. So we made arrangements to drive them in the van we had driven to our apartment and then let them take the van home until we could get their car up and running.
It has been a crazy busy, but truly wonderful week!
In closing we just need to give credit where credit is due. 
Faith has always been a fundamental principle of strength for us. 
Without it, we can do nothing. With it, we can accomplish anything including; watching a rockets red glare, feeding 260 missionaries, taking care of stranded motorists and continuing to serve as instruments in the Lord's hands, far from home and family because we have been inspired to do so yet again, this time by an Apostle of the Lord.

We love you and hope you had an incredible week as well. 
Until next time.
See you later...alligator

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Part of Your World

What would I give to live where you are?
What would I pay to stay here beside you?
What would I do to see you smiling at me?
Where would we walk?
Where would we run?
Just you and me and I could be 
part of your world.
I don't know when,
I don't know how, but I know some thing's starting right now.
Watch and you'll see, someday I'll be, part of your world.

Hello from Orlando Florida, or as we like to refer to it as the wild kingdom!
Obviously there is a huge Disney World influence here as well so hang on to your seats
 it has been  very busy week.

Just hanging around watching the airplanes go by.

Monday, January 13, 2014 sitting at the Orlando, Florida airport parking lot anxiously waiting for the call from the Mission President to let us know that all 22 brand new missionaries are ready to be picked up. 
The Gordon's are driving the small white van, the Assistants to the President are in the truck and trailer and we are driving the big white van and have the privilege to transport all 9 of the new sister missionaries.

Welcome to the Florida Orlando Mission!

It's a small world after all :)  

Our very own Sister Gordon actually taught, one of our new sister missionaries, Sister Lynch, in high school!

First stop the Hunter's Creek Stake Center where we have the opportunity to feed them a dinner of lasagna green salad, cookies and ice cream after their long flight and to get to know each of them a little bit better.

Hail, hail, the gangs all here!

 Bright and early Tuesday morning was "transfers"s for many of our missionaries. While our 22 new missionaries were being oriented and receiving further instructions the missionaries notified of their impending transfer met at the church and waited patiently in the chapel for the special program to begin which would advise them of their new companion and the area in which they would be serving.

Following the "special" devotional and the last opportunity to hear the testimonies of our two departing missionaries, Sister Dunford and Elder Howard, it was time for lunch! Subway sandwiches anyone? 
This was only the second time that we had held transfers in this format and had invited everyone to stay for lunch. "Everyone" included not only the new and transferring missionaries, but also the members of the church who had graciously taken time out from their busy day to transport our missionaries. 
We served over 200 people today!

Elder Busath working the crowd!

Elder Busath and Elder Delgado all smiles :)

Before we knew it , it was time for the missionaries to hit the road and get started on their new adventure. We on the other hand, headed for the office to put out any new fires that had started while we were away.

Okay so a photographer I am not, but if at first you don't succeed...


On Thursday morning I received a somewhat hesitant text from the Elders in one of the new apartments we recently opened, advising us that they were still without dishes, silverware, pots and pans, etc. The members of their new ward has agreed to provide them initially, but someone had dropped the ball.  
No problem!
After a quick stop at our storage garage we picked up everything they needed and even took time to hang their whiteboard. As always the smiles on their faces were worth every minute of our time.

You know what they say, "All work and no play, makes Johnny a dull boy."

On Saturday the Senior Missionaries took another trip to the Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant in the DeLeon Springs State Park for an early pancake breakfast before traveling to visit the manatees.

Yes, that is a jacket Elder Busath is wearing. It was 45 degrees and in Florida that's freezing, brrr!

 It is said that Ponce DeLeon discovered the famed fountain of youth here.  Although the story might not be 100% accurate, evidence does show that native Americans inhabited this area more than 5,000 years ago.
However, Elder Busath and Sister Anne Danes didn't want to take any chances just in case the legend were true, but unfortunately the fountain was dry :(

Blueberries, apples, bananas, and even chocolate chips were available to dress up our 
buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes.

 Breakfast is served!

Following a delicious pancake breakfast we decided to venture down the road another 16 miles to visit the winter home of the manatees. Since they are only out and about for viewing during January and February 
we just couldn't take a chance on missing this great opportunity.

Blue Spring, located in Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, is the winter home to more than 200 manatees.  Tucked within 2,643 acres are 15 natural habitats, a lagoon, a north-flowing river and a first-magnitude spring that discharges 104 million gallons of water daily into the St. Johns River.

Gold Rush prospector turned orange grower, Louis Thursby purchased Blue Spring in 1856. He built his three-story house atop a large Indian midden in 1872 which has since been restored and stands there today. Before the railroads rolled through in the 1880's, Thursby's Blue Springs Landing was a hotbed of steamboat activity, shipping tourists and goods to Jacksonville, Florida and beyond.

A Kodak moment!

 The manatee is a gentle, slow moving marine mammal. It weighs about 1,200 pounds and measures 10 to 12 feet long.  It eats 60 to 100 pounds of aquatic plants a day, helping to keep the waterways clear.  A manatee can live to 60 years old, but collisions with watercraft and loss of habitat threatens its survival.

Fun fact:  in 1971, "The Forgotten Mermaids" episode of the Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau was filmed here.  The documentary brought attention to the manatee and the importance of Blue Spring as a winter refuge, greatly influencing the state's decision to purchase the land. And we are so glad they did!

And since we are talking about mermaids I thought it only appropriate to close with a famous line from the movie, "The Little Mermaid"

To quote Sebastian-
"The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else's lake.
You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake.
Just look at the world around you, right here n the ocean floor.
Such wonderful things surround you, what more is you lookin' for?"

What more is we lookin' for is right? Each one of us has much to be thankful for!
Elder Busath and I have been blessed with much more than we ever deserved. A happy, healthy family, grand babies being born, children finding love again, grandchildren making us proud, and an opportunity to serve as full time missionaries, instruments in the Lord's hands, to invite others to come unto Christ.  To share what we have been given and so much more.

So as we start this brand new year let us take time to count our blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

Thanks for letting us be a little part of your world, see you later...