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Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Parable of the Elder and the Swiffer

There once was a Mormon missionary serving in the New York South Mission. His name was Elder Atoa and his companion was Elder Cubas.  He left his family, his friends, his country, and the life he was familiar with and traveled to America.

He was proud to serve the Lord and was a dedicated and consecrated missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Each morning he and his companion would arise at 6:30 to have breakfast, exercise, read their scriptures, and plan their day.  By 11:00 they would be out of the apartment teaching the gospel and providing service for anyone in need.  They would arrive back at their apartment in the evening by 9:30 and be in bed by 10:00.  They followed this routine for six days a week.  On Sunday, they would attend their Church where they would speak from the pulpit, provide a lesson, or anything else that needed to be done.  After Church they would visit members.  This was how they would spend each week for two years.  And, they would pay for it either with money they had earned before leaving on their mission or their parents would provide the money. From the money, each Elder would receive a monthly allowance that they were expected to budget to provide for their food, personal items, and clothing.

Every three months a Senior Missionary Couple would visit them to see how they were doing.  Were they keeping their apartment clean?  Did they need anything?  Did they like their apartment and were they comfortable?

On one such occasion, the Senior Couple was very impressed with the cleanliness of Elder Atoa's and Elder Cubas's apartment.  They asked the Elders, "Is there anything we can do for you?"  They answered, "Yes, we sure could use a mop to scrub our floors."  Since the mission supplies were quite a distance from their apartment and parking was extremely difficult in New York, the Senior Couple asked if they would be willing to purchase a mop and then submit the receipt to the finance department for reimbursement.

A couple of weeks later the Senior Couple received a telephone call from the finance department asking if they had authorized the purchase of a "swiffer and mopping refills for the price of $35.00.  Being surprised by the cost, the couple said "no", but they had authorized the purchase of a mop.

The Senior Couple called the Elders to inquire about the purchase.  Yes, they had purchased the items.  The Couple said they would authorize a reimbursement check for  the items, but the mission could not afford to continue to provide the cost of the Swiffer refills.  Perhaps they might want to consider a simple mop.

Instead of being defensive and saying, "Well, we did what we thought was right." they responded, "Well, I guess we didn't consider the expense of the refills.  We made an unwise purchase."

Lesson Learned:  When you make a mistake, don't be defensive or make excuses for yourself.  Learn from the mistake.  Be humble......

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Few This and That's

Do you remember the little rides outside the grocery store...maybe a horse, or even Mickey Mouse???
They are all over the place in Queens.  It brings back wonderful memories of my children begging for a quarter to ride.  Children still are begging!

The other day we were in Dyker Hights "shopping" for an apartment in the middle of China Town.  The sidewalks were so crowded with busy people....doesn't anyone work?  and they all spoke Chinese.  The neighborhood blocks were divided into different areas.  One block might specialize in fruits and vegetables, another household goods. And then you come to the fish market section.  Oh, the smells and baskets of fish, some still moving.  I saw varities of fish I had never seen before.

Don't you just love Richard's handbag?

This is the most beautiful fruit, called Sweet Dragon Fruit from Vietnam.

Dinner with our Asian Sisters

The other evening we were invited to dinner by some of our sweet Sister's.  I mentioned them in an earlier post.  I want to post a picture of the dinner along with them.  They were so excited to prepare dinner for us.  They just kept giggling and said how much fun it was to have us.  They prepared sushi, a stew with a tomato base, and two cakes.  I've learned that most of the missionaries love desserts.  If you are sending a package to a missionary sent a cake mix!

Sister Laxton, from Korea, Sister Batsuuri, from Mongolia, and Sister Castaneda, from California.  Sister Castaneda's companion went home earlier in the week for health reasons, so she is saying with the other two sisters until her new companion arrives.

Memories of the Carnegie Deli

We decided that we needed a "p" day so we left our apartment around 8:30am to catch the "r" train and then the "1" train to Manhattan.  Our first stop was the Manhattan Temple.  We arrived in time for the 11:00 session.  As we were waiting to begin, imagine our surprised to run into some good friends from Tempe.  Brian and Deborah Hendrickson were attorney friends who also bought a house in Chaparral Pines.  They told us they were serving a mission in New Jersey!

We decided to meet after the session and have some lunch.  Richard (and I) had fond memories of Carnegie's Deli from our previous visits to New York.  So, that is where we decided to go for lunch.  It was a short walk and we enjoyed visiting along our way.  When we turned the corner to Carnegie's we weren't the only ones thinking the same thing for lunch.

(Sure wish I could get these pictures turned the right way....sorry.)

Not sure if you can see the long line, but needless to say we had plenty of time to visit and plan what we were going to order.  Richard remembered that we use to order the Woody Allen to share....a sandwitch with both corned beef and pastromi for only $30.00.  The sandwitch is HUGE.  For an appitizer, they bring a bowl of all different kinds of dill pickles to snack on.  Here's a picture waiting for our food.

The four of us decided that we would have more "p" days together....maybe next time see a Broadway show.  We arrived home about 7:00 that night tired, but with wonderful memories of a great "p" day.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sometimes I feel I must be riding in a covered wagon....

If you think the roads are terrible where you live, you should ride a few miles on my treads.  The roads in Queens are filled with potholes and the asphalt is crumbling!  They are the so bumpy I have a headache before the end of the day. The other day, about the 7th hour in the car, I told Elder Johnson I felt that we were traveling in a covered wagon.  I'm sure it couldn't be that much different than what the pioneers endured.  Endured being the key word.

This morning before church we needed to go to Jamaica (that's where the bed bug problems usually are) to fix the toilet in the sister's apartment.  Their superintendent said it was their problem.  I guess it is a problem for them and not him!  While Elder Johnson was working, I visited with the sisters.  They are serving a Korean speaking mission.  One is from Korea while the other is from Mongolia.  The are both accomplished young women having already received their undergraduate degrees.  After serving their mission, they would like to return to the United States and attend BYU to receive their master's degree.  We talked about their countries and then the topic of food came up.  So, they invited us to dinner Thursday night.  We will have a cooking lesson as they teach us how to cook their native food.  I sure hope we like the food because they are excited to share this part of their lives with us.  Here is a picture....the shorter sister, Sister Batsuuri, is from Mongolia and Sister Laxton is from Korea.  Aren't they just too cute??

On another note, the other day before an apartment inspection, an Elder called with this question:
"Hey, we have a question....We have some carpet in our apartment and it's been getting dirty and we were wondering if the mission has a carpet cleaning thing so we could get the apartment looking really good.  Like one of those shampooing vacuum things."  Another little "prince."

Our spiritual thought for the week:
This last week we found two apartments for missionaries that were just perfect. We went home feeling so "proud".  No sooner had we arrived home, than we received two telephone calls saying the landlord did not want to rent to a corporation (the church).  We were then reminded of a lesson this week in our Institute class on humility.

We need to humble ourselves before the Lord. We do not accomplish anything without His help.  Prayer is the to your Heavenly Father and ask for His inspiration in all you do.  No matter what you need, He knows are his son or daughter and He loves you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

We Have Added Over 200 New Grandchildren

Besides our 24 grandchildren, we now have 200 "new" grandchildren here in the New York South Mission.  We are so proud of each one of them...they are smart, disciplined, fun, loving, caring, giving.  I could go on and on.  Those who have served a senior mission can truly understand.

Every three to four months one of our responsibilities is to "inspect" each of the over 100 apartments to check for any problems and to make sure the missionaries are good housekeepers.  It's so much fun to visit them with our little bag of cookies or muffins for them.  Here are some pictures:

 These two missionaries live close to us and attend the same branch.  The one next to me, Elder Resinelli, is from Northern Italy and the one on the end, Elder Muti, is from Hawaii.  When we went to visit them, about 9:30 am, I noticed some dried spaghetti noodles on the stove and a sink full of dirty dishes.  I commented it's hard to believe you had spaghetti for breakfast and they said, "No, I think that was from last night."  On further inspection the rest of the apartment was pretty much the same.  I hate to be the "bad" guy, so I said, "Your mother's must love you very much because I can see you have been treated like a "prince" and didn't have to do housework at home."  I hope I got the point across.  They are just big kids and we just love them.

These two missionaries, Elder Pavon (the shorter) and Elder Caballero (taller) are from Mexico.  The most humble and sweet young men you will ever meet. We had an appointments to inspect 10 apartments one day and it just so happened they were on "splits" with two other missionaries.  "Splits" mean that they exchange partners with another set of missionaries in their zone.  We saw Elder Caballero at an apartment other than his own, as we inspected that apartment.  We were going to Elder Pavon and Elder Caballero's apartment next, but needed directions.  Elder Caballero and his split partner said they were going that way and would show us.  When we got to the apartment everything was perfect, so neat and clean.  We went into the bedroom to check and found this "pink doll thing" sitting on Elder Caballero's pillow which Elder Pavon had lovingly placed.  Oh, how we all laughed.  After we left, I said to Richard that I wished I had taken a picture. They sent the above picture, and even dressed the part.  Aren't they great! On the tender side, when we left Elder Pavon had written us a sweet note telling us how he loved us and we were such a good example of a couple who love and respect each other.

These two sisters are also in our branch.  The one on the left, Sister Benson, is from Mesa, Az and on the right is Sister Loetscher, from Utah.   We love them both so much.  I have never seen them without a smile on their face and kind words.  They are amazing young sisters.  They are coming for dinner tonight and then Sister Benson is going to cut my hair.  Gosh, I have learned I can dye my own hair and have a sweet sister cut it.  Richard offered, but I think I'll let Sister Benson since she has graduated from cosmotology school.  I also don't need to have my nails done, because (1) I don't have time, (2) they would just break while I'm unpacking boxes in the "dungeon" (more on that later), and (3) who cares!