Here it is the first of February already! Time truly seems to be flying by! I’m going to take a few minutes to share the last few weeks.
Every Thursday afternoon we attend our district meeting with about 8 junior missionaries. We take turns teaching each other from the Preach My Gospel book on how to be more effective missionaries. We also set goals, play a game, and just generally support each other. Right now none of the other missionaries in our district are serving in our ward, but in neighboring wards, some Spanish speaking and some English speaking. We love getting to know these young men and women.
Every six weeks we have a zone conference. Our zone consists of 3 districts but for zone conference this month we combined 3 zones together and even had a General Authority doing a mission tour. Elder Ardern and his wife of the 70’s are from New Zealand and they were simply delightful. They demonstrated good teaching techniques (as do President and Sister Henrie) and there was a lot of participation during the 6 hours we spent together (and a yummy lunch as well).
Last week all of us senior couples were invited to a dinner at the mission home with the Arderns. It was pretty informal and nice to get to know them a bit. Elder Ardern wanted each of us to know how much the leaders of the church appreciate all of us seniors and the contribution we make to the church and to the junior missionaries. Of course we loved their New Zealand accent!
Most all of the members we work with are immigrants, some fairly recent but many who have been here for 20-30 years. We have noticed a pattern in their stories. Often, the mother leaves her kids with her mother and comes alone to the USA to earn money to send back home to help support her kids. She wants them to have a better life. (The dad has exited the family.) Sometimes she is here for just a few years and is able to bring them up. Sometimes she brings them when her own mother dies. Sometimes she gets a new husband here, has more kids, and it can be a decade or two before she is able to bring them here. Now we do know of a few families where there is a dad involved all the way through the process and either just the dad comes to the USA or both parents come, again leaving the kids with grandparents. We know of two families in our ward where the older kids (14 and 18 in one family, 13 and 16 in the other) have been here only a few months, joining a new dad and 3 other kids ranging in age from 3-12 years old.
We also heard an inspiring story from an older couple (husband mid-80’s and wife late 70’s) who are from El Salvador. They married, joined the church, and had their 5 children all in El Salvador. They decided they wanted to be sealed in the temple and the closest one was in Mesa, Arizona. A whole group of members hired a bus to drive them there. They sold their home to finance the expense and spent 5 days in the bus each way. Their youngest son was eight at the time, but since the doctor dropped him on his head at birth, he suffered from cerebral palsy and had to be held the whole time. When they got to the border of the USA, the immigration officer denied entry to the young son due to an “infectious cough.” Members of the church (from the mission, the temple, the stake) came to try and help and a Relief Society President ended up staying with the boy so the rest of the family could continue on to the temple. They ended up making a second trip to the temple to have their youngest son sealed to them after he died a short time later.
This same family told us of having to walk to church (over an hour each way) after they came to the USA because they had no car nor the money for bus fare—and the busses didn’t run on Sundays then anyway. This same couple served a mission a few years ago as a senior couple—I think the only one from this stake so far. And they were sent back to El Salvador. What a faithful couple!
One family feeds all the missionaries in our ward two nights a week—and that has been 6 junior missionaries plus they invite us, though we have only gone two times as we don’t expect to be fed like the younger elders/sisters are.
A couple of weeks ago, we found a great place close to home to take a 6-mile hike!
This last week on P-day, we took a drive to the mountains about 30 minutes east of us. We found snow at the higher elevations!
We like to attend Mutual when we can. Here is New Beginnings
I want to mention one other activity we did: take Jose to the Visitor’s Center at the LA Temple. We first thought he could do baptisms for the dead, but he hasn’t received the Priesthood yet, so that will be next time. He thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Christus Statue.
We love the work we are doing here and love feeling like the Lord is using us to touch others and invite them back to Church. The time does seem to be flying by but we plan to continue to work hard right up to the end!