Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Florida Orlando Mission needs you!

          According to the Senior Missionary Department in Salt Lake City there are over 400 requests for Full Time Senior Missionaries that are not being filled.  Currently in the Florida Orlando Mission (The Promised Land ) Senior Missionary Couples fill critical roles and responsibilities in the office and wonderful leadership, rescuing and support functions in the wards and branches.

         We have 52 Wards and Branches in the Florida Orlando Mission.  There is a great need to rescue brothers and sisters who have become less active and to support and embrace recent converts and support the dedicated leadership in these fine wards/branches.  We currently have only 5 Senior Missionary Couples who are assigned to wards and branches as MLS (Member Leadership Support).  The wonderful saints here in Central Florida need the benefit and blessings of your strength.   First, it is an incredible blessing to the saints here who are less active and just waiting to be invited back and prepare for the temple.  The heart and souls of those of us who have served here will never be the same as we have felt the spirit and witnessed the mighty change in members and recent converts and in ourselves. 
          We are in specific need for a Senior Couple to arrive mid-January 2015 and work in the Mission Office as the Mission Secretary and Mission Finance Clerk.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said it best, “Missions everywhere need more couples.  Their maturity and experience make them some of the best missionaries we have.  Their special skills, honed over a lifetime of faithful service and living, enable them to train local leaders effectively, strengthen and reactivate members, and bring nonmembers to Christ by teaching and baptizing them.  The importance of their work is almost beyond expression in words.”
Many humble Latter-Day Saints fear that they are not qualified for missionary labours. But to such prospective missionaries, the Lord has given this assurance: "Faith, hope, charity, and love with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work
 - Elder Russell M. Nelson
We currently have over two hundred twenty young missionaries serving in the culturally diverse Florida Orlando Mission, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty five, and who speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian languages, and several who can use American Sign Language.  They come from places as far away as Denmark, Guatemala, Brazil, the states of Washington, California, Utah, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, and as close as Pennsylvania and Florida.  We also have several senior missionary couples serving in the mission, ranging in age from fifty eight to seventy. One couple is from Arizona, another couple from California and many are from Utah.
Your health issues should not prevent you from serving, unless they are acute or severe.  We currently have senior missionaries serving who have some arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, migraines, back problems and others who have had hip replacements, knee replacements, and back surgeries.  If you are able to successfully manage your health problems at home you can manage them here.  Plus you have the added blessing of having thousands of people praying for your welfare as a missionary each and every day and those prayers are being heard.
 Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord’s work, and whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies and when we are on the Lord’s errand, … we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that the Lord will shape the back to bear the burden placed upon it” (President Monson, in Conference Report, Apr. 2005, 61; or Ensign, May 2005, 56).
 So, what will you be expected to do? The good news is that no, you will not be expected to be a scriptorian nor will you be expected to go tracting. You will simply be expected to bring your life skills and Church experience with you to help bless those who you will be called to serve.

 Mission Secretary-normal hours:   8:00 am-5:00 pm
 Duties include but are not limited to; answers phones, processes mail, assists missionaries with various concerns, records Baptismal and Confirmation Records, performs data entry, updating records, prepares correspondence and agendas, manages a calendar, schedules buildings. Orients new missionaries, assists the Finance Secretary in locating apartments and procuring furnishings to set up new apartments. Organizes the departure dinners every six weeks and delegates the food assignments to other senior missionaries working in the office. Currently organizes the Senior Missionary Saturday Activities, but that duty may be re-assigned in the future.
In addition, the Mission Secretary, and her companion assigned as the Finance Secretary, will have numerous opportunities to attend the temple after the office is closed and will probably be assigned to Home Teach a few families, find less-actives, teach the Temple Preparation or the Gospel Essentials Class, attend the Priesthood Executive Council when invited and assist the young missionaries currently in the ward they are assigned in teaching investigators and new converts. 
Finance Secretary-normal hours:  8:00-5:00 pm

Duties include, but are not limited to; manages all cell phone distribution and maintains logs of usage; manages the payment of all Mission related expenses as they relate to rent, utilities, credit card expenditures, purchases office equipment as authorized, maintains a log of transactions, helps the Mission President prepare the yearly budget, and works with the administration office during regular financial reviews.  Locates, sets up and sometimes closes down apartments.  Manages young missionaries’ debit card transactions, orders proselyting materials through the Church Distribution Center and prepares the materials for distribution. Orients new missionaries and orders and transports food for various scheduled training meetings as needed. 
Mission Leadership Support (MLS) Couples-schedule their own hours according to needs
Their duties include but are not limited to; Finding less active members in the wards they are assigned. Teaching; simple FHE lessons;  lessons for men preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood; lessons for new Melchizedek Priesthood holders about the ordinances; lessons on how to Home Teach and Visit Teach effectively; lessons on how to fellowship and how to prepare to go to the temple. When invited the MLS Couple will assist the younger missionaries in teaching investigators and oftentimes provide transportation to those in need.   Attends District Meetings once a week, Zone Training Meetings once a month and Priesthood Executive Council when invited, and will have numerous opportunities to attend the temple.
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), the 15th President of the Church, counseled: “Rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 696).
The inspired guidelines provided in the Missionary Handbook are designed to protect us spiritually and physically and to help us more effectively accomplish the Lord’s work.  Senior Missionaries may have some anxiety because of the false ideas about what is expected of them.  They should not be required to meet the same standard in work hours or other missionary activities that are expected of younger missionaries.  They may need rest periods during the day.  They should be encouraged to set their goals and schedules based on their personal capacity and the requirements of their assignments (Mission President’s Handbook). You should still set standards and goals and follow the same dress and grooming standards outlined for the younger missionaries because the young missionaries will look to you as an example.
“We tend to become like those whom we admire…We adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, even the conduct of those whom we admire-they are usually our friends.  Associate with those who, like you, are planning not for temporary convenience, shallow goals, or narrow ambition, but rather for those things that matter most-even eternal objectives.”  (Thomas S. Monson, “Decisions Determine Destiny”, LDS Student Association Young Women’s Meeting, Logan, Utah, May 16, 1968)
The entire Florida Orlando Mission is in a semitropical climate with frequent rain showers and the humidity is high, especially during the months of June, July and August, when temperatures reach into the 90’s and humidity is 85-90%, but it is not unbearable. It does get cool here, even cold sometimes, but it usually only lasts a few days, and then it warms up again. During the cool weather, (December and January) daytime temperatures will usually be in the 60s and nights will be lower. A light coat will be welcome when the need arises. Layered clothing lets you instantly adjust to heat or air conditioning. Consider cotton or cotton blends in dresses and blouses. Elders wear short sleeved shirts and prefer a cotton blend that does not wrinkle and requires little or no ironing. Suits are usually only worn when attending church meetings on Sundays, Temple Sessions and other important meetings. The businesses in Florida usually have their air conditioners running non-stop and at a frigid temperature so wearing a light sweater 24-7 is not unusual. Rain is intermittent except during the summer months when it is daily. Please be advised that it doesn’t just rain in Florida, it pours, but by the time you are able to retrieve your umbrella the shower has usually passed leaving large puddles behind that quickly evaporate in the heat. Sisters, closed toed shoes are requested wear, but you can certainly wear open toed shoes and sandals on the weekends and after hours.

Publix, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target Superstores, or Wal-Mart Stores are the most prevalent grocery stores in the area. In the local malls here in Florida they have an abundance of stores to fill your shopping needs.  The Apple Store, Microsoft, Best Buy, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Bath and Body Works, Banana Republic, Old Navy, the Gap, Penney’s, Sear’s and Macy’s just to name a few.
Although all of our Senior Missionary apartments are outfitted with the basic necessities you will still need to bring the following items to make the apartment your home:
Queen sized bed linens/pillows
  • Queen sized bedspread and light blanket
  • Towels/wash cloths, bath mats
  • Kitchen cookware (crock pot/rice cooker, Kitchen Aid, or hand mixer)
  • Flat iron/small ironing board, hangars
  • Small tool chest/sewing kit
  • GPS
  • Sun Pass-prepaid toll program-to save costs while driving in the area
  • Family pictures and other art work to customize your apartment and make it your own           
Yes, you are actually allowed to visit tourist attractions and walk along the beaches. If and when you have family or friends come to visit you just make arrangements with those with whom you serve and take a day or two off and enjoy their company! The best thing is the Florida Orlando Temple is just minutes away from many of the areas the Senior Missionaries are assigned.  Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm the temple holds sessions every hour.  In the evening beginning at 5:30 pm a session is scheduled every 45 minutes with the last session at 7:30 pm.  On Saturday’s beginning at 7:30 am the sessions are scheduled every 45 minutes with the last session of the day at 3:00 pm.
Our Senior Missionary District Meetings are held every Monday evening from 6:00-8:00 pm with the exception of transfer week, at a central location for all of us.  The host of the evening is responsible to give a brief (10-15 minute) lesson from the recent General Conference issue of the Ensign and provide light refreshments for the evening. We gather as a district to attend the 5:30 pm temple session at the Florida Orlando Temple the first Thursday of each month and schedule inexpensive outside activities on the third Saturday of every month such as: 
JANUARY 17TH-Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees and a two hour air boat tour
FEBRUARY 21ST- Kennedy Space Center. Visit the space shuttle Atlantis, meet an astronaut.
MARCH 21ST-Rodeo at the Church Ranch
SEPTEMBER 19TH-Wild Florida
OCTOBER 17TH-Winter Park Boat Ride
DECEMBER 19TH-Fort Christmas, “Cracker Christmas” Pioneer demonstrations, large craft fair with over 150 crafters with handmade items.
 Just some helpful hints:
Get your Hepatitis A&B immunization series now! It is a six month process, so to save time and money, do not delay get started today!
If you are under 65 and are not currently covered under Medicare, find out now if your current medical insurance will cover your medical needs out of state.  If it will not, Missionary Medical will provide insurance through Aetna that will cost you $183.00 per person per month. Keep that in mind when budgeting for your mission.
The cost of serving in Florida is approximately $2400.00 per month.  Although we do have one senior missionary couple who pulled their 35 foot 5th wheel trailer from Alpine, UT and are living in a fabulous trailer resort area in Leesburg for less, the normal cost of rent in the Orlando area is well over $1000 plus utilities. 
-1200.00       Rent and Utilities
-  125.00       Cable and Internet Services
-  500.00       Gas and Sun Pass fee
-  400.00       Food
 - 175.00       Incidentals
It adds up, but the blessings that come from your service are priceless.
 Elder David B. Haight gives more examples of blessings by saying, ‘‘Though you have had many years of married life together, you will discover new blessings.  You will never work so closely and so intensely with one another in such a rewarding effort.  Your love will deepen and you will discover wonderful new dimensions of your companion’s inner soul and the depth of his/her understanding.  You will have a greater feeling of unity, and a heavenly relationship will be strengthened—no finer example can be given, no finer testimony can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years.  Great joy and fulfillment will come to you as you humbly give service in your newly expanded world of neighbors.’’  (Ensign, May 1987:61)

Current Senior Missionary testimonies of the importance of the work :
  Elder and Sister Western, from Alpine, UT
            We knew we wanted to serve a mission but hesitated because we did not feel we had enough knowledge concerning the scriptures. However we decided that if we described the skills we do have that the Lord would use us where he needed us. We are now serving in a smaller country type environment to which we brought a 5th wheel trailer to live in. This really is helping our budget. We are excited to write a couple of our missionary experiences which we will always remember as being led by the spirit. We are now 7 months into a MLS mission serving in Florida Orlando Mission

We are assigned to a great ward and are making many lifetime friends.  Our bishop asked us to try to find and work with the inactive people in our ward. We also have a set of younger Elders and Sisters to help with this huge process. There was a name on the list that no one had been working with so we pursued them along with many others. As we called this couple they seemed nice but were always too busy to see us. You go through this a lot, people usually have an excuse and may never let you in, but you keep trying because we love talking to people and making friends. Surprising enough sometimes people say okay and that is what happened when we called this couple back the fifth time. The day we rang their doorbell they were waiting for us with snacks and nice easy chairs in their “Florida” room, which is a screened in porch. We were amazed at how nice they were and were able to sit and mainly listen to their story of being very active to non-active due to taking care of her sick mother and just simply quit coming and not knowing how to come back. Something that is hard for many people. Our 15 minute visit lasted for 2 hours and ended with a commitment to come to church. They did and have continued coming. They now both have callings and were warmly welcomed by some friends of their past. What a joy to see them serve in every way with great enthusiasm.

       We were contacted by the younger Elders wanting us to pick up a woman that they had invited to a baptism. They gave us Sister Smith as her name and told us just to look in the ward list for her address. We saw what we thought was the correct address and hurried to her home. We went to the door and the lady who opened it was surprised when we ask if she was ready to go to the baptism. She said she did not know anything about a baptism but told us that her name is Smith and that she had been inactive for a while. She invited us in and we laughed about the mistake and in the few minutes we visited she told us she would like us to come back again. That is the way the Lord works, if you do your best and have the desire to be obedient he will guide you. We thought we were in the wrong place but the Lord knew exactly where he wanted us to be. We set up our appointment but the day of our visit we could not get in touch with her. Arriving at her home we found that she was gone so we waited for a while, and then decided to go around the corner and park in the shade. We finally decided to say a prayer and drove back. She had just returned home and was looking at some flowers in her yard. She invited us in and we listened to a story she shared with us of a hard sad life that had left her feeling uncomfortable around people. She has a strong testimony of the gospel but because of anxiety attacks could not bring herself to come to church. Elder Western and her neighbor gave her a blessing and we all had a discussion about prayer. She was very blessed and was able to start attending church.
She told us the desire of her heart was to be sealed to her parents in the temple. A few weeks later however, her Dad became seriously sick and found out he had cancer and passed away at home with in the week. We were able to help with his passing and also his funeral. His daughter was the only active member of her family but was determined to do everything as according to the church. Now her mother and her are attending church together.
           We had the opportunity of going to the temple with her and doing an endowment session together and then sealed her grandparents, what a wonderful experience this was for all of us. 
 We are so thankful for our calling and even thou it is a stretch of our abilities we do know the Lord is guiding us along with improving our understanding of the scriptures and the gospel. We would invite every senior couple to have the blessings from serving a mission and we know that the Lord will bless you and your family.
    Elder and Sister Johnson, from Orem, UT:

 “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”  D&C 81:5
The application of this scripture was taught to us through the Spirit tonight. This is a lesson we thought we already knew through 40 years of Church service. Strategically, we had protected ourselves from such unsavory encounters, a tactic many of us fine-tune to keep ourselves fully armed in a comfort zone, thus denying ourselves the rich blessing of feeling pure love.  
Family Home Evening tonight was with the [Adams] family. We entered, having been forewarned by the Bishop to keep the coffee table between us and the children for protection. In their previous Ward the Primary teachers had been verbally assaulted and physically injured by these two kids and that is why the Stake President asked Mom not to bring the children back to Church until their emotional/mental problems were under control. Of course, no one in the Ward Council felt inclined to send their own wife in to teach the gospel to the family so we volunteered. It was out of duty, not desire, to be clear.
If you have ever read the book “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” you will remember well the fear and trembling the Herdman family imposed on the local church. Well, that is pretty close to what we encountered when we entered the home. Amidst the flying objects and screaming expletives we were able to locate the 12 year old offender standing on the back of the couch against the far wall. A girl about 9 years old with long, red, matted hair, who had obviously cut her own bangs off at the root about three weeks ago, was running helter-skelter through the house screaming like she was being chased by a bear. Two cats scattered for refuge, one down the hall and the other under the couch. Mom, calm as a summer breeze, had prepared for the evening’s lesson complete with a TV tray set up for each person which held a set of scriptures, a hymn book, a copy of Preach My Gospel, pen and paper. We sat in our assigned lawn chair somewhat satisfied the TV tray would be sufficient defense.
Elder Johnson was asked to conduct so the family could learn how it should be done. With a "Welcome to Family Home Evening" which resulted in an outburst of cussing from the 12 year old boy and the girl screaming and running up and down the hall, both finally sat down on their assigned bucket, separated from each other in an attempt to cut back on the disruptions. This was followed by all verses of an opening hymn and an opening prayer said with four letter words, some of which we had never heard combined before. Then the lesson began. As I sat there in all the chaos I wondered…”of all the people in this Ward who need to be contacted and taught the gospel, what was I doing subjecting myself to this circus of abuse? What would Jesus do?” Of course, He would stay to the end, we just couldn’t determine “The End” because it didn’t end. So following a more appropriate version of prayer which we interpreted as meaning the lesson was over, we ventured to the front door.
Mom approached us in tears, throwing her arms around us, expressing gratitude to us for joining the family for the evening. She misses attending Church and partaking of the Sacrament. She longs for some adult conversation. She loves her children deeply but it is a discouraging challenge sometimes and she has no family outside the Ward family to lean on.
Once safely back in the car, we just sat a moment. What had just happened in there? A spirit of peace entirely overcame us, then, as we looked at each other, we realized we had been taught a most valuable lesson in a profound way. We asked ourselves, “Could we have done anything in the past two hours that would have pleased the Lord more than what we had just done?” We had truly been on sacred ground, the home of a struggling mother who needs succoring, one whose hands do hang down and her knees are feeble but could so easily be lifted and strengthened by someone who is willing to “stand in the office which [He has] been appointed,” the office to which every member of the Church has been called and covenanted to uphold. It would only take a friendly phone call, a happy text, a visiting teacher to peek in once in a while and a home teacher who will stand as an example to a wild young boy who desperately needs a Priesthood man figure somewhere in his life.
Oh, the privileges we have denied ourselves but guarding our comfortable boundaries thus binding the Lord’s hands and preventing the miracles He would otherwise pour out upon us!
(We have also reaffirmed a testimony that, “The study of doctrine and the teaching of doctrine will change behavior more than the study of behavior will change behavior.” As we have visited this Family Home Evening every week for the past four months we have seen the ability of the children to understand and control their behavior increase. They are not back to Church yet, but they are being blessed by a diligent mother and a loving Father in Heaven in ways men cannot understand, except through faith.) 
All of God's service fills the server's soul with joy and love as they lift and help our neighbors and God's children.  For the MLS Couples that comes from finding lost sheep (members) and helping them back.  We have been blessed with several such successes, but one that most vividly shows the full circle return has been the Joseph Cervantes family.
 We had a teaching appointment fall through the last minute, but with a little time to still try one new door, we checked our map for anyone we had not seen or who may need to be revisited nearest there.  In our gaze was one flag near our location, and it seems to be one we had never seen.
 We knocked on the door, and as it opened, a miracle some days, there stood a short Latin fellow.  His facial expression showed friendship mixed with question.  "Who sent you here?" was his first statement.   "No one", was our reply.
 He invited us in and continued by saying the Elders (missionaries) had dropped by the earlier week, now us, "Did mom send you?"  More plugged in this time, we said, "No, God did."  All this time my mind was feeling like I had just found one of my old best friends.  Later he acknowledged the same familiar feelings.
 In brief, he told us of his earlier life in the church as a youth, loved young men activities.  He went inactive in mid- teens, joined the military, spending most the rest of his life there.  He met Maria, an even shorter Philippine lady, they got married.  She joined the church and they returned to activity briefly in a military ward.  But feeling the loss of her friends, lack of fellowshipping in the transient ward, and a calling with no help, she went back to her Catholic background and he returned to inactivity.  Soon thereafter they had their miracle child, Aaron.
 Now, ten years later we were in their home.  Maria, busy doing her work at the computer, ignored us except for comments she would throw in about being Catholic and unwilling to change, each time Joe showed excitement.  But behind the scenes, Maria was finding some attachment to Sister Johnson.  The visit was warm on Joe's part.  Asking if we could come back some time, he made the slip of saying they were moving next week.  We grabbed that immediately and he gave us his forwarding address, which is never heard of.  Inactive members delight in moving to Florida and getting lost.
 They would not let us help them move, but we brought pizza and a drink, so they had something to eat.  Later Joe did say he needed help with the washing machine, so we got the Elders to come and visit again in helping the move.
 We kept seeing them with all sorts of excuses and Maria kept warming up to Sister Johnson.  Joe caught the spirit; Maria built a wall to keep emotions out.  We did, however, get permission to have the missionaries (Elders) teach Aaron, now near 10 years old.  Aaron, a very sober child, became a powerful source of help motivating Maria.   Being their only child, having lost one in a miscarriage and told they would not have any children, Aaron was all Joe and Maria lived for.   HIs excitement for the Gospel had him and Joe attending church soon thereafter.  Maria would not hear of it.
 Our meeting with Joe, and knowing his love for Aaron, we suggested that he delay Aaron's baptism until he had attended church enough and stopped his smoking, a habit he picked up in the armed services and active duty in the war, so he could be ordained a priest and baptize his son.  It took a blessing from the Elders to stop smoking, another miracle along the way.
The teaching from the Elders and preparations for the baptism at least got Maria willing to come to church.  She watched for every excuse that she was unloved, ignored, and knew, as 10 years before; Joe would stop going to keep peace in the household, if she proved her point. She was intimidated by the fast pace of the Elders, but loved our slower, "Just loving them" approach.  Our age was a part of that, but made us more a parent image.  But something about it was comforting and welcoming to her.
 We began re-teaching her the gospel of Jesus Christ with the missionary lessons geared more toward her concerns.  Being a very stubborn person and one to hold endlessly to offenses and grudges, it took months of loving instruction to get her to where she broke down and cried for help to bury the past offences.  She asked for more and more "signs" of the spirit to know it was true and her Catholic ways were not.  Inspired we read D&C 6: 22-24.  She immediately broke into tears, knowing God had answered her prayers many times and we instructed her when doubts come, recall those undeniable experiences to confirm its truth, not always asking for more.
 Long story short, we had them on a temple tour, are still teaching Maria, but now she is hungry to learn and comply with the truth.  Joe is being advanced to an Elder in November stake conference.  We are beginning temple Prep classes and moving toward that goal.
 Very emotionally we all reflect on that appointment falling through so we could find them that night.  A week later they would have been moved, church records would have been wrong, and finding a new person in their apartment, as we are always doing, we would have turned their name into the membership clerk as "moved".  We know God is in charge in hastening the work.
 Elder and Sister Busath, from Sacramento, CA:
           We have always talked about serving a mission.  Ever since the day we were  married in the Oakland California Temple just a few days after Sister Busath had become a member of the Church for one year.  When the last of our children graduated from college we knew there was no better time to go.  So we submitted our papers, retired from our jobs and left the choice of where we should serve up to the Lord.  When we received our mission call, we felt very much like Nephi of old when he said, “I will go anddo the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
          “Missionary work is never boring!  In addition to our office duties, and serving as the District Leader and Activity Director in our very active Senior Missionary District, we are also assigned to a small branch and there are new challenges and new adventures every day.  We have been able to use our talents and life experiences, and have even discovered talents that we didn’t know we had.  We are young in comparison to many other Senior Missionaries and it has proven to be a great blessing in terms of the ability to perform the “heavy lifting” as sometimes required in setting up new apartments, shipping bikes, and performing necessary repairs in some of the older homes our missionaries reside in.
          We can personally testify to the truthfulness of the statement: “Missionary (noun): Someone who leaves their family for a short period of time so that others may be with their families for eternity”, and have had the opportunity of teaching the Temple Preparation Class both in the ward and in the branch that we have been assigned and have had the honor and privilege of preparing and accompanying many as they entered the house of the Lord for the very first time.  Tommy, 68, a convert of five years, Elizabeth, 35, a single mom of two young boys, who was raised in the Church and has been a member since the age of eight, Veniece, 45, single and the mother of two daughters and grandmother of three, who has been a member for thirteen years. We currently are waiting anxiously for specific dates to be set in the next few weeks when we will once again be privileged to accompany Maria, 46, a convert of three years, single and the mother of an 8 year old daughter.  Maria speaks Spanish and very little English, yet we were able to meet with her at the local library each week and teach her with the help of our Spanish speaking Sister Missionaries. We are especially looking forward to the honor of escorting Miguel, 30, and Yachira, 25, also converts of three years, as they receive their own endowment and are sealed to their three small children for time and for all eternity.  Many of our class members have admitted that they had attended the Temple Preparation class numerous times in the past, but confessed that after attending our class they had simply run out of excuses and knew that it was time.  We know that it wasn’t us, but recognized the promise found in Doctrine and Covenants 100:5-6 when it says, “Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.”  As we prayerfully prepared to teach these incredible people the Spirit inspired our thoughts, our words and we knew what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.
           To be honest, we were worried about being away from our children and grandchildren like many of you.  However, because of amazing technological advances like Skype and Face-time, we probably hear from and see more of our family than we ever did when we were home.  Although we miss holding the two babies that have been born since we left, we get to see pictures, sometimes daily, and that helps.  We also feel in some ways that we have actually enlarged our family by going on a mission. We have “adopted” our awesome friends in our Senior Missionary District, the wonderful people we have shared the temple experience with and think of ourselves as ‘grandparents’ to the young missionaries.  Every day we have the opportunity to mingle with the young missionaries.  Sometimes to simply feed them or to provide life skills instructions like housekeeping tips or how to repair a garbage disposal.  At other times to celebrate their successes as they share their stories about the investigators that they are teaching and to encourage and uplift them when discouraged because things didn’t go exactly as planned.
          Watching the missionaries mature and grow into effective leaders, teachers, prospective husbands and wives, fathers and mothers is priceless and worth every sacrifice!  We have learned over the past eighteen months of our mission that we can do hard things with the Lord’s help and the blessings we have received and that our family has received because of our service have been more numerous than we can count.
The Florida Orlando Mission truly needs you!
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!   


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