Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

What a great week we had this week, it went by so fast and was filled with the same ole' and lots of the unexpected. Monday evening we had a Seniors dinner at the Mission Presidents home with lots of great food, great company and of course the group photo shoot! Not all of these people work in the Mission Office. 2 couples and 1 Sister in the Office, 1 couple and 2 Sisters in Employment, 1 couple at the Bishop's storehouse, 1 CES couple in Huntsville and 1 couple there doing a proselyting/reactivation mission. That's a lot of Seniors!!!!

Tuesday Scott and I attended a seminar put on by the pharmacetuical company that makes Copaxone, the medication I take to slow the progression of MS. It was a very interesting experience for me as many people who came were using walkers, canes and wheelchairs. Many looked just fine (like me!!! he,he) But it was sobering and made me realize that I did need to be on this medication so that perhaps it will not progress that far. I am lucky to be diagnosed at this time, 15 years ago they had nothing but meds to treat symptoms.

Tuesday when I got back to the office I had a very fun surprise waiting for me. A GREAT BIG BOX filled with treats from my Relief Society sisters in Farmington. Just what the doctor ordered to help me realize how much I'm loved and being watched over. Thanks Becky and Linda and all that helped with that. I think I was the envy of the office!

Wednesday evening we were invited over to a member's home to have true authentic Southern down-home, cooked all day long GUMBO. Lucky for me it wasn't seafood, but chicken and sausage. It was delicious, and yes I am gaining lots of #####'s, but I'm just not worrying too much about it. Now that it's not super hot I'm hoping to get up early and walk more.

Thursday morning Scott and I went and saw Dr. Gaffney, a Neurologist to finally get my second opinion on the MS. After his exam and a look at my MRI's he told me I definitely 100% have MS. In fact he said after seeing the lesions on my brain he's very surprised I don't have more major symptoms. I know that that is a direct result from all of the blessings I've had and the prayers said on my behalf. I thank my Heavenly Father so much for His tender mercies in my life.

Right when we got back from the doctor's we loaded up the food and our dear Sister Young and drove about 30 minutes to serve lunch at the Sisters Specialized Training meeting.

I wish this picture had turned out better, you really can't see how special these Sisters are to me. They have so much energy and desire to preach the Gospel, I am so grateful to be a part of this special work and be around so many fine people!

Friday mornings we always have our staff meetings with the President and his wife. Usually they are at 8:30am. This Friday he moved it to 11:00 because he had a late meeting in College Station the night before which is a 2 hour drive from the mission. I had mentioned to him on Thursday what the doctor had said. On Friday he had asked his wife to pray and when she finished he immediately hopped up and said "I would like to add to her prayer" and he asked Heavenly Father to bless me in light of the confirmation that I do indeed have MS and prayed that the effects of the disease would be minimal and that I would have increased strength to serve for the period of my mission and beyond. He then acknowledged the Lord's hand in my life. He is such a good man, filled with much faith and love. I'm grateful he's my mission president. In the middle of the meeting he got a call from his brother to wish him a Happy Birthday, it took it in the front on the secretary's phone and while he had his back to the door the Houston Zone (about 10 Elders and the AP's) came into his office with a cake and we surprised him when he walked back in. That was fun!

On Friday Elder Stringfellow ended up going and helping 2 of the Spanish Hermanas (sisters) go and move some things out of their apartment. the previous day when they got home from the sister's training they could tell someone had been in their apartment. They got a funny feeling and were about to open the closet door in their bedroom (they always left it open) and felt like they should leave the apartment NOW so they went and got their apartment manager, when they got back the closet door was open and the0re were a few things taken. Scott and I took them back later Friday evening and helped them get some more things out of their apartment, the President had decided to move them. It was a pretty scary place! It's a good thing the Lord is in charge of all of this, I now know why we pray for the missionaries, they need these prayers and so do all of the investigators!
On Saturday Scott and I went to downtown Houston to the free museum day. We went to the Natural History museum, the weather museum, the medicine museum and the Holcaust Musuem. At the Holocaust Museum an 85 year old survivor of the holcaust spoke, it was such a touching talk. Not only had none of his family survived but there was not one single person he knew from his village that survived. At the end of his talk he said this: "Hate is death and sadness, Love is life and happiness." I went up to him afterwards and thanked him and he gave me a big kiss on the cheek and told me he loved me. It touched me to the core that this man who knew so much of hate could forgive and love. Then to hear President Monson that night at the Women's Broadcast talk of not judging and loving each other more, I came away from the week filling how important love is, to God and for all of us.
What a brave grandpa to put his head in the mouth of a dinosaur

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Loving Life in Texas


I wish I had a picture for this but I don't since I wasn't there! THANK YOU Pete and all who were involved for giving Sarah a going away party before she leaves for the Ukraine! Thanks Mom, Lisa and Hailee for surprising her, thanks Ann for the beautiful cake with the babushka's on it, and thanks David and Angela and Karen and Kyle for all of your love and support. I am so grateful to my family for filling in for Scott and I. Sarah we love you and are so proud of you. We are excited to hear all about your experiences in the Peace Corps.

Este son Hermana Bullock y Hermana Christenson, 2 of our Spanish missionaries who do such a wonderful job preaching the gospel of Christ. Elder Stringfellow wanted to take a picture because it's not often that we find 2 people (not in preschool) shorter than me! Oh by the way, it's P-day, that's why they're dressed so casual. Do you love my pretty pink necklace?

The other night a storm was brewing and the sun was setting and I had to take this picture before the moment passed. This was taken from my deck, we see the sun set from our big picture window right by our dining table most nights.

When we get those big rain storms it produces big mushrooms. This picture doesn't look to impressive but it really was when I was taking it. I guess I needed to lay down beside the mushrooms just so you could tell how big they really were. I've been wanting to take a picture of the cows we pass each morning on the way to the Mission office, they are always surrounded by these large white birds that eat the bugs that come out when the cows eat the grass (I guess). But the road is so narrow with ditches on both sides that we never have. The other morning there was dew falling on that field and it was so beautiful. You'll have to ask Elder Stringfellow about the "dew point" that morning because I don't know enough about it to blog about it!!! (or so I'm told)

I know this is kind of a gross picture but I just thought I would show one of my reactions to the shot I have to take every night. These last for 2 or 3 days and are very itchy and sometimes painful and always irritating. Occasionally there's not much reaction at all. I do a different spot every night and rotate each week; both arms, both thighs, my hips and stomach. These shots to not cure MS, nor do they help any symptons that you're having right now. It is to help the MS flare-ups to not happen as much and to prevent long term damage. I'm having a hard time wanting to continue them but I am going to a seminar this week put on by the manufacture of the drug and also seeing a neurologist this week to get a second opinion and make sure we're on the right track. I would like to feel sorry for myself (and occasionally I do get a little down), but there are too many people who have it a lot worse than I do so I try to count my blessings, which I do have so much to be thankful for.



I wanted to post this video because it explains to all why I am on a mission. This is truly what I believe, that God is our Father, that there is a plan, it's God's plan for us to be able to return to Him and to have peace in this life. He loves us, every single one of us, warts and all! There is ALWAYS a way back to Him. Our true identity is that we are all His children. That's what I believe, it is what I know.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Transfer Week

Elder Hiatt has been an AP for 10 months and is being transfered this morning, I think he is so excited to be going back out into the field but we will miss him, he has helped us so much.

Elder Martin was also transfered this week, we were sad to see him go, but I know he was so excited to go be a missionary again! Not that he wasn't when he was working in the office. When the office closed he was doing missionary work all evening. This week being transfer week we had 3 twelve hour days in a row. It nearly wiped me out but I feel the Lord blessing me every day with my health. I think all 3 of those days I just came home and crashed, but the Lord gives me the energy to do what I need to do. Elder Stringfellow watches out for me so well reminding me that I can only run as fast as I have strength to run so I try to pace myself.

This is Hermanas Maylett and Rodriguez, we had the privilege of going out teaching one night with them. It was fun to hear them teach the gospel in Spanish and hear Elder Stringfellow testify in Spanish, I made a feeble attempt to talk about the scriptures in spanish as well.

These 2 Hermanas are both from St. George. They were just made companions this week after the tranfers but we found out that Hermana Porter (closest to me) had Jayne as a teacher when she was in Jr. High. Hermana Maxwell is standing by her.

Scott and I managed to find time to go visit the Houston Space Center with the other Senior Missionaries this past Saturday. It was very interesting and our first chance to drive past downtown Houston. We are probably about 30 minutes (if there was no traffic) North of downtown. I think Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. It's really spread out, but so beautiful. I now know why. This past week we had a ton of rain, Hurricane Hermine skirted to the west of us and on Tuesday when all of the missionaries were being transfered and bring their luggage in and out all day it rained almost 2 inches that day! BUT IT WAS STILL HOT. It really doesn't cool off that much when it rains, but it did give us hope that it will cool off eventually. The locals tell us probably in November!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some of the Missionaries we've met

This is Elder Struthers and Elder Lindsay. Last Friday morning Elder Lindsay was driving the car when he barely hit the car in front of them at a stop light and had to come in and fill out an accident form, he felt really bad about it because it was his fault, he says his foot slipped off the pedal. That afternoon late in the day he and Elder Struthers came into the office with this cell phone in their hands and with sad faces they tell me they've had another accident, this time with the cell phone. They proceed to tell me how Elder Struthers was backing up the car and Elder Lindsay was backing him out (one of themissionaries always has to be out of the car making sure no one is behind them) and he dropped his cell phone and Elder Strughters ran over it! I say to him; "Elder Lindsay you get in a wreck and ruin your cell phone all on the same day!" and then remind him that he has to pay to replace the phone, right then they both start laughing and say how they played a prank on me. I guess when the phones no longer work they get to destroy it and they did so by running over it with their car! They were pretty proud of themselves!

Sister Maxwell, Sister Young and Sister Naufahu-Talakai, it took me awhile to learn how to say her name. I love it when the Sisters come in and tell me stories of who they're teaching or bugs or living in a ghetto. They have some very interesting stories to tell.

Here's Elder Stringfellow, this is probably how he looks when he gets another call about a car wreck, a car that's been towed away, batteries that won't start the car, traffic tickets, brakes that squeek, oil that needs to be changed, body work waiting for insurance, a $14,000 check that no one knows what to do with and a cell phone that rings constantly! And we all know how much Elder Stringfellow loves talking on the phone! Just another day as the vehicle coordinator in the Houston Texas mission office.

This is Elder Martin, our trainer. Oh we miss him so. He was transfered last Tuesday and now we are on our own. Here's my to do list for Monday:
*Finish the newsletter and send it by email to all of the parents of current missionaries, to all of the former missionaries and assorted other people, put the newsletter on a flash drive and take to Staples to have printed to give to Zone leaders next week to pass out to all of the missionaries
*make new files for missionaries coming in December and send out letters to them congratulating them on their call and sending them forms to fill out telling about themselves
* Referrals - everyday first thing I do is check the cell phone for messages from missionaries with referrals and check the computer for referrals from the MTC and then I check them again before I go home, I figure out what area they go to and then from the computer I send all of the referrals to the appropriate missionaries' cell phone. That's why each companionship has a cell phone,
*help Scott finish making the new pocket roster that we make each time there's a transfer so we know where each missionary lives and what his phone number is,
*finish reviewing all 70 or so cell phone records,
help Sister Walker and Sister Young cook food for lunches for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday's Leadership Training,
*and a few other things I can't recall right now. I stay busy every day, but I love the work and the interaction with the missionaries. Every Friday we meet with the mission President and his wife as an office staff and review what's coming up and what needs to be done. Our mission President is a very humble, spiritual man that loves these missionaries and works hands on with them teaching and training right along side them with the people. He's rarely in the mission office unless he has interviews or for staff meeting. I definitely think it's one of the hardest callings in the church but probably one of the most rewarding also.
In this picture Elder Martin is sitting at my desk, as you can see Scott and I work in the same office, that's been fun. I have made so many funny mistakes and it makes Elder Martin laugh. I was going to write a few down like calling one of the missionary moms to find out what airport she wanted her son to fly home to and asking the 12 year old brother if he was Elder so and so's mom. Or sending out the newsletter last month and forgetting to attach it, not once but twice! I had to send it twice because I had forgot one of the steps so it was unreadable for most of the people who got it. I tell you, if it's not one thing it's something else!

These are my 2 Sister Youngs! We took a Sunday drive to Houston Lake, which was only about 20 minutes from us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zone Conference Week

At each zone conference Scott and I are there an hour and a half before it begins so Scott can start the car inspections and minor maintenance. Each missionary comes with their car washed and cleaned inside in hopes to win the Golden Hubcap. Elder Strinfellow added a few other criteria which included their paper work turned in (gas receipts) and to have their forms properly filled out before the inspection. (A true accountant!) The area in that zone that wins the award gets to sign their names on the "golden hubcap" and also gets a $20 gift card to Subway! In the meantime I'm putting each set of missionaries' supplies across the stage for them to take back to their areas. When we're finished we just get to sit down and listen. This is College Station and Spring Zones, they are the farthest from the mission office, about 2 hours away. We got up really early to be there before 8:30 AM!

At each zone conference during the lunch hour we celebrate birthdays. On this day it was President Hansen's birthday as well as Sister Kikuchi's sometime during the next few months. They used to have Zone Conferences every 6 weeks but it has been changed just recently to have them quarterly so our next one won't be until the week before Thanksgiving.

The drive to College Station on Thursday was so beautiful. I wish I had taken a picture of the rolling hills and all of the trees but I'll have to do that in November when we go again. About half way there we pass a long a lake with many fingers that houses and businesses are built around. Many of the houses have boat docks in their back yards. On our way home that evening we stopped to have some dinner and to take a few pictures.

Here's a picture of President and Sister Hansen with Elder and Sister Kikuchi. All three days of the Zone Conference were a spiritual feast for me personally as well as for all of the missionaries. Elder Kikuchi taught the new Simplified Curriculum that the Church is teaching now in the MTC to all of the misisonaries. He is a master teacher and a humble servant of God who teaches with so much power, the Spirit was so strong each day. Even though he taught the same thing to each set of missionaries each day, it was different every day as well. On the first day he was teaching how to teach the Joseph Smith experience in the Sacred Grove and Scott and I got to be "the investigators" and he taught by the "show them" don't just "tell them" method and he got down eye level and looked me straight in the eye and sincerely shared the 1st vision, slowly and powerfully! WOW! It was an experience that I won't ever forget. What a blessing to be out here serving a mission.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Making New Friends

The night we arrived here in Houston Elder and Sister Walker
invited us over for dinner. Elder Walker is over housing and he
not only helped us get our apartment but he also saved us $50
a month on our rent, had the young Elders move furniture into
our apartment and generally makes sure everything is going well
with us. Sister Young does all the finance in the office but her
other job is making all of us feel loved. She does a great job at that!

Here's our 3 Senior Sisters; Sister Young (on the left)
is from South Jordan and works in the Employment
office. She is just full of love and hugs! She is always
checking on me to see how I'm feeling. She was actually
at the MTC the week before we were there so we saw
her there just before she left for Houston. Sister Billingsly
in the middle also works at the Employment Office and is
from Mesa, Arizona. She says it's A LOT hotter here than
Arizona so now we know from an expert since she's now
felt the "dry" heat AND the "wet" heat. That's a good
description, you really do feel wet if you've been out in
it for too long. I don't know how the young missionaries
do it, especially those on bikes! They are all very hard
workers. Our other Sister Young (on the right) is the most
delightful person to be around. We work in the office with her
and she says the funniest things. The one that has really stuck
with me was when she was feeling out of place she said "I
feel just like a wart on a pickle!" She is the Secretary to the
President. I love all of these ladies!

Our first week here, Elder Stringfellow and I went
to the Houston Temple. It's only about 20 minutes
from our place, depending on the traffic of course!!!

Here's the Office Staff for the first month we were
here: back row - Elder Walker, Elder Thomson (AP)
Elder Stringfellow, Elder Martin (our wonderful, patient
trainer) and Elder Hiatt (AP). front row - Sister Walker,
Sister Stringfellow, and Sister Young.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Home Away From Home

First of all, since it's Mom's birthday,
HAPPY 75th BIRTHDAY. We are so grateful
for all you do for us and for the support you are
giving to us and our children while we serve.

Our apartment really surprised us, it's very nice.
The other office couple, Elder and Sister Walker
from Delaware, Sister Young from Sandy who also
works in the office, Sister Young from South Jordan
who works in the Employment office, and Sister
Billingsly from Arizona all live here. The couple we
replaced lived here also. W chose to get a one
bedroom apartment, it's nice to live more simply
and not worry about all that stuff! It takes about
45 minutes on Saturday mornings to clean our whole

This apartment complex has the most beautiful
pond in the middle of it. Going around it 3 times
is about a mile. The first week we were here we
got up at 6:30 like missionaries are supposed to
and walked around the pond. IT WAS SO HOT
AT 6:30 in the morning! It felt like 4:00 in
the afternoon. I guess this has been the hottest
summer with very high humidity on record.

This is Scott on the walking path, today Sept 4th
was the first day since we've been here that it was
nice enough to take the walking path. We have
lots of hope now that there is an end to the heat
and humidity, though we've been told that it will
be hot until after Halloween!

Our apartment building, we live in the middle
apartment on the right. A far cry from what we
were expecting in Paraguay.

Here we are at the mission office. We love working
here and being around all of the missionaries, young
and old alike.

The mission office. The truck to the left in the
back is the one Scott drives around for all sorts
of reasons. More on what we do later!