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Monday, July 25, 2016

Choose JOY

We just had our mission "Sister's Conference"....and it was wonderful and fed my spirit.  The theme of the conference was "Choose Joy."

Here is a story that I think illustrates how we can choose to be positive instead of negative in our thinking.

There was a certain cowboy who had a beautiful stallion.  One day he accidentally left the gate to the coral open and his prized stallion escaped.  His neighbors came and said, "Oh, this is terrible. This is a bad, bad thing that happened to you.  The cowboy replied, "Well, I don't know if it is good or bad."

The next morning his stallion came back....followed by five additional stallions. His neighbors saw this and came running.  With smiles on their faces, they said, "Well this is wonderful,   What a very good thing."  The cowboy looked at the six stallions and said, "Well, I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

The next morning the cowboy's son decided he would ride one of the new stallions.  He chose a nice looking one, put the saddle on, and mounted the horse. The stallion began bucking and threw the cowboy's son to the ground.  His leg was broken..  The neighbors felt so sorry for the cowboy and his son and said, "This is a very bad thing that has happened to you."  The cowboy scratched his head and said, "Well, I don't know if it is a good or bad thing that has happened."

The next day the military came to the cowboy's home and said they were there to pick up his son, as he was being drafted into the military.  The cowboy told them that his son had broken his leg the day before.  The military men said his son was not eligible to be drafted into the military.  The cowboy's neighbor's were so happy to hear of his good fortune and said, "This is very good."  The cowboy replied, "Well, I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

Change your paradigm.  Decide to find joy in all things.  Trials are not pleasant, but instead of becoming discouraged, find the positive.  In every circumstance, there is both good and bad.  Find the good and use that knowlege to change who you are to what you want to become.

Life is not perfect.  We are given trials throughout our lives.  A part of being successful in life depends on how we meet these difficult time.  Will our trials overwhelm us, or will we turn to our Heavenly Father???  Let's not forget why we are be tried and tested.

Through the Savior's atonement we can be foregiven of our sins and transgressions after we follow the steps to repentence. The Savior suffered not only for our sins, but for all the pain and sorrow we will endure in our lives.  He understands.  The power of the atonement is in place to comfort us. When we turn to the Savior in righteousness, we are promised that He will comfort us.  He will not leave us!  He loves us.

Remember Ammon in the Book of Mormon.  He was a powerful missionary who encountered one trial after another.  Think of Joseph of the Old Testament?  His brothers tried to kill him, he served as a slave to the king.  Each time Joseph was releaved from his torment, another trial of his faith came.   Read about his life and how he overcame each trial by turning to the Lord.

I tknow for a certainty that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ knows each of us by name. We are important to them.  Heavenly Father desires that we return to Him. All things are made possible through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We Moved Up in Our Little World

As much as we loved apartment 204, the noise was too much.  We knew the comings and goings of the tenants as we lived above the garage door.  We knew what was going on in the "hood" as we could hear the street conversations. Friday an Saturday nights were lively.  One Saturday night at 2am I had to knock on our window to plead with two gentlemen to take their "convo" down the street.

Now, we live at apartment 403.  It's smaller, has less closet and cabinet space.....but it's relative quite by New York standards.  We purchased a shelving unit for the kitchen as we only have one cabinet which will hold our plates, bowls, and glasses.

On the upside, we have a balcony.  Maybe one day I'll buy some plants and flowers.  Wouldn't that be lovely.

Mama Cherry said, "Wash your hands!"

This last Sunday we were invited to dinner by Sister ?-Wilson.   Sister ?-Wilson aka, Mama Cherry, a nickname her father gave her as a child. So that's what I'll be calling her.  She is from Jamaica and has 21 sisters and 6 brothers; her father was married 3 times. Mama Cherry is faithful in her attendance of church each week and always sits near the front of the chapel.  We generally sit by her on the same pew. Actually, everyone in attendance could have their own row, as the attendance has been low these summer months.  If you happen to be talking to Mama Cherry at 1:00 she will "shush" you as the meeting is suppose to start at 1:00. The meeting usually doesn't begin until 5 or 10 minutes after the hour.

Mama Cherry is a convert to the church.  She lives about 5 miles from us in east New York, which is not a nice area to live in. We asked her how she learned of the church.   Here's her story.......
Her house is on a busy street with a bus stop in front.  Each day she would look out her window and see two "white boys" all dressed in white shirts and ties just standing around.  After a couple of day she went out and told them they were nice boys and they shouldn't be buying drugs.  Evidently, that was a hot spot for drug sellers.  They told her they were missionaries and were there to catch the bus.  Then they asked her if she would like to know more.  That started the first of many discussions until she was baptized.  Since that time, she cooks Sunday dinner for any missionary that is hungry.  And, what missionary is not hungry for a good home cooked meal???

We took the sister missionaries with us to dinner, Sister Barton and Sister Solamo. The first thing Mama Cherry said to us as we entered her home was, "wash your hands" which we all promptly did.  We all went into her kitchen, well, I should say, one at a time as the kitchen is very narrow, and helped her finish preparing the meal.  She was a gracious hostess.

She told us she had two sons.  One is deceased and other lives upstairs with his wife and son.  She said her daughter-in-law is evil.  Mama Cherry had a stroke in December and is sure her daughter-in-law tried to push her down.  Richard said maybe she just accidentally brushed against her.  Her reply was, "I'm not dumb. She pushed me!"  We changed the subject.

After dinner we wanted to help clean up, but she insisted that she wanted to serve us.  Her Sunday routine is attend church, make dinner for the missionaries, clean up, and then watch Colombo on TV.  She thinks he is very cleaver.

It is interesting to become acquainted with members of our branch who come from different counties and cultures.  We learn from each of them.  Mama Cherry reminded us of the value of loving, selfless service.  Not only is it a big expense in her budget, but is a lot of work to prepare a nice dinner each Sunday for the missionaries.    It was a nice evening and we are grateful for the faithful and kind members of our branch.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mega Zone Conference

The New York South Mission is divided into 9 proselyting zones. For example, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens have five zones, Flushing, Jamaica and Central Long Island have two zones, and the eastern part of Long Island has two zones.  The Missionary department discourages “all mission” conferences because of the time and expense of bringing all the missionaries together, but every three months we have what are called “Mega Zone” conferences in which the missionaries in two or three zones meet in a centrally located chapel to receive training and instruction for a day.  Typically, each conference will consist of 50 to 60 young missionaries, several senior missionary couples, and President and Sister Reynolds.

On Thursday and Friday of this past week, two of four Mega Zone Conferences were held. The other two are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. We attend each conference because we have been asked to assist with the preparation and serving of a morning snack and noon meal for everyone, and we also make a presentation on housing issues and concerns.  The conferences are always so rewarding and fulfilling because of the spirit and enthusiasm of the young missionaries.  It is so amazing to be in a room with 60 plus young men and women, most of whom are barely out of high school, dressed in dark suits, white shirts, ties, and modest dresses, bursting with love and enthusiasm to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are truly latter-day armies of Helaman who do not doubt God and strive to be the best they can be. We feel their spirits so strong and are strengthened by them. 

Our role as housing coordinators means that we spend a lot of time teaching the missionaries life skills about cleaning and maintaining their apartments.   For example, our presentation at the Mega Conferences included instruction on the anatomy of a vacuum cleaner, and how to take it apart and clean the filters, the importance of cleaning up and washing the dishes after every meal, keeping the apartment neat and tidy on a daily basis, how to deal with roaches and bed bugs, and how to clean the filters of window air conditioners.  Doesn’t sound very spiritual, but time after time, we hear missionaries tell us how much better they feel about themselves when they come home to a neat and clean apartment, and how it improves their spirituality.

We have never talked about our mission president and his wife, President and Sister Reynolds.  They are such wonderful people and we feel such love and respect for them.  They left a very successful real estate development business and high-end car dealership business in Salt Lake City to serve as president of the mission.  They show so much love and concern for the missionaries, and use every opportunity to teach and encourage them to be urgent and consecrated missionaries.  We love serving with them. 

Here are some pictures:
Getting ready to prepare lunch.  Elder and Sister Martino, Sister Williams, Sister Peterson, and us.

At the begining of our presentation, Elder Johnson tells a funny joke, that always gets a big laugh (Thanks, Lynn. The one about the 16 year old boy driving and the hair cut)  I laugh ever time.

I always tell a "parable"  with a "lesson learned" to illustrate the value of having a clean apartment.

Elder Johnson is explaining about the importance of having a clean vacuum  (our mission is very spiritual).

There is always clean up and the missionaries are always ready to help.
Love them.

There is always time after lunch to just visit.  These are two of the AP's  Elder Young and Elder Voorhees,

President Reynolds always has time to councel a young missionary.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What!?# One Hundred and Twenty Smoke/Co Detectors

About a month ago we received a notice from the Church Mission Department informing us every missionary apartment throughout the world needed to have a new smoke/co detector installed.  That meant we needed to install approximately 120 new detectors (I guess that is a small portion of worldwide.).

Now, any place other than New York, it would be a huge project, but in New York it was daunting.

The downside:  traffic and parking....yea, we found a parking place and feed the meter.

The upside:  spending time with the missionaries:

After installation of detectors, the missionaries needed to be instructed on how to do a monthly test and report the results on their ipad.  With the help of the office elders, the task is completed.  Here is a picture of Elder Johnson and some of the missionaries working on installing the device.