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Monday, May 22, 2017

Linger Longer.....Good Bye Rego First Ward

Today was the last Sunday we will attend the Queens, New York, Rego Park First Ward before going home to Arizona.  The time we spent with the members will long be etched in our hearts. They not only welcomed us into the ward, but into their lives.  After the first week we felt like part of the ward family.

After the block of meetings, the members held a surprise Linger Longer honoring us and our time with them.  It was so thoughtful and it gave us an extra hour to visit and say our good-byes.

They surprised us with a nice lunch and cake.

This cake made us smile......see anything wrong?
It just endears them all the more to us.

A large card signed by some of the ward members.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dim sum, Yum Yum

Nancy, a ward member in the Dyker Heights Chinese Ward, has always been very kind to us.  She has referred us to several apartments and has come along to translate, as many of the landlords speak very broken English.

On a few occasions, she has asked us if we had ever eaten dim sum and our answer was "no" but we had eaten Chinese food.  In walking the streets in Dyker Heights and Flushing (both big Chinese communities) we had ventured into very "Americanized" Chinese food.  This was fine with us as we were not anxious to eat fried chicken feet or other such delicacies.  Nancy was very kind and said she would like to introduce us to authentic Chinese food.

We met Nancy along with another senior couple serving in Dyker Heights, Elder Ho and Sister Lee (they are married), and a Chinese mother and daughter who we did not know.  The daughter had just graduated from Cornell Law School and her mother travelled from China to attend the graduation.

We parked at the church and walked to 8th Avenue (the heart of Dyker's china town) and then walked on 8th Avenue to 65th Street.  On the outside, the restaurant looked like any other establishment, but once you entered it was huge with a line of people waiting to be seated, all Asians. The restaurant could seat 300 people, and every table was filled.  It reminded me of a casino in Las Vegas with all the lights and glitz.

Starting from the left, mother, daughter, Sister Lee, Elder Ho, Richard, me, and Nancy
 We soon found out that dim sum is a Chinese cuisine prepared in small bite size portions and served in steamer baskets.  Servers stroll around pushing carts with food and you just point and say what you would like.
All of it looked very strange to us.

Server with a cart of food.  This was very "tame" looking food.

As you can see the restaurant serves many people starting at 8 am until 10 pm.  We were the only non-Asian people in the room, but then that is not usual.
During the lunch conversation, I asked mother how many children she had and she answered one.  She spoke very little English.  Elder Ho then told us that in China if you ask someone that question they will look at you as if you are very naive or stupid.  He explained that it is government policy for a family to have just one child.  They might also look at you suspiciously thinking that you are government informer and are going to report them if they have more than one child.  I didn't tell her how many children we have!

It was a lovely lunch and will be a wonderful memory of New York.  By the way, we really don't care for dim sum but it was a fun experience.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Can You Guess What This Is??

Richard and I would see these in every neighborhood and wondered what they were used for.  The shape didn't seem to suggest any practical purpose.  We tried to imagine.....

And, then we understood.  Here are a couple of uses that seem to be quite common.

This is a little different, but I have seen dogs tied to the round shape also.

As of yet, we haven't seen any parents tie their children to this apparatus while they dine at one of the restaurants.

Here is another typical New York money maker.  A parking meter.  One of our favorites.

Generally, we have about twenty dollars worth of quarters in a coin purse in our car.  Each quarter will purchase fifteen minutes of parking. The time limit for parking is either one or two hours, depending on the location.  We feel fortunate when we find a parking place in a two hour limit space.  Actually, we feel fortunate when we find any parking place. We have driven around the block for thirty minutes waiting for a place to become available.  After being in New York, we don't mind paying to park, we feel blessed.  Imagine that!  We haven't kept track of the amount of quarters for parking we have spent while being in New York, but it is quite of few twenties.

We do have a couple of sad experiences with parking receipts.  After you put in your quarters, you press the button for a receipt.  That receipt needs to be place in the front windshield so it is visible for a traffic police officer to see when your time is up.  Our first bad experience was when we first arrived,  After purchasing our parking space, we placed the parking receipt on the front dash only to return to our car to find a ticket. We had placed the ticket upside down.  Cost: $30.  We learned our lesson. The second sad experience was on a windy day.  We placed our receipt on the dash only to learn on our return that it had blown off the dash onto the floor.  Cost: $30.

By the way, when we go to Costco it costs three dollars to park our car. Imagine that.  Today we drove to Manhattan to see a sister in our ward who is in the hospital.  Cost:  twenty-three dollars for a forty-five minute visit. We sure are looking forward to go ol' Arizona, especially Payson.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Scout Fund Raiser and Surprise Birthday

Saturday, May 6th was the annual camp fund raiser for the Scouts and Young Women's.  It started off with a dinner of contributed food.  Richard made his amazing spaghetti.  We are trying to use the food we have on hand since we are going home at the end of the month.  Literally, we are not buying anything.  When we run out, then we will eat out!  So his spaghetti was an original recipe that cannot be duplicated.

After dinner was a "talent" show.  We felt like we were in someone's living room watching their kids perform (a captive audience).  We never knew there was such talent in our ward, from a mother/daughter doing their version of a hula dance to a family pantomiming to a popular song. The funniest act was a skit by the missionaries. 

Throughout the evening, was the additional fund raising effort to bid on auction items including food, a guitar, Jet Blue round trip tickets, and two tickets to a Met's baseball game.  We brought three trays of brownies, decorated with m&m's to appeal to the children.  I'm not sure how much money was raised, but I can proudly say my brownies raised the amazing sum of $15.00!

We noticed our friend, Miguel, had his eyes on the Met's tickets.  His wife, Kenya, had told us she had a surprise birthday party waiting for Miguel in another room of the church.  As we checked the Met's auction sheet, we noticed that Miguel's bid was raised by $5. He had spent all he could afford.  We stayed close to the auction table and as the bidding was drawing to a close, we outbid the highest bidder by $5. We won the tickets.

At the end of the fund raiser, we all slowly drifted into the "party" room. With the lights out, Miguel was brought into the room with a rousing "surprise" to welcome him.  He was totally caught off guard.  One of the few times that a surprise birthday party was actually a surprise.  We enjoyed presenting him with the Met's tickets and he expressed appreciation.

It was a fun Saturday night.

Miguel with the ward missionaries.  Miguel is the ward mission leader and prior to that counselor in the branch presidency.  I guess we didn't get the message about finger pointing.

As you can see the theme of the party was the Met's.  So well done.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Three Hour Night to Remember

This is the "cheaters" car.  Notice the traffic on either side of us.

You are probably wondering what this car has to do with a night to remember.....

The other afternoon we had traveled to Corona, which is a little city about 10 mines away, or I could say thirty minutes away.  We were delighted with the apartment and started the leasing procedure.  We were so happy to start our trip home before the evening rush hour.

Now, one of our pet peeves about New York drivers are the cheaters. Remember when you were in school, and some kids would cut in line at the lunch counter or to swing?  Well, New York drivers who cheat drive up on the right side of your car, where there is no lane, and then crowd in front of you.  If you don't stop, they just keep coming.  So what choice do you have.  You let them cut in.....that's probably the main reason there are so many "honkers" in New York.

Well, back to our story....we were driving along when a "cheater" came rushing on our right side and swerved in front of us.  As he did this, he clipped our right front bumper and torn off his left rear bumper.  So we both pulled into the space between the two merging freeways.  A really safe place to be!

Richard and the young "cheater" got out of their cars, examined the damage.  Richard said our car was undamaged and since it wasn't his fault we would be on our way.  The "cheater" said he was going to wait for the police.  We couldn't leave the scene of the accident, so we decided to wait to tell our side of the story.  

After waiting an hour, Richard decided to call 911 and report the accident.  Then we called again after two hours.  Finally, at three hours as we were making our third call, the police showed up.  Very frustrating.

Just as we expected, the "cheater" lied about what happened.  He went on his merry way, I am sure only to continue to cheating.

As Paul Harvey would say, Now to the rest of the story.....

The police officer asked Richard for his licence, registration and proof of insurance.  Registration and proof of insurance were no problem.  But, when Richard looked in the back seat for his murse (that's what I call his purse) it was not to be found.  No drivers licence.  The police were very kind and attempted to find it on the Arizona site, but did not have any luck.  Richard received a ticket.  The good news is that when his ticket is posted online he can submit a picture of his licence and the ticket would be dismissed.

Who ever said New York living is not exciting.

Talk About a Good Deal

We all love free stuff....even if we don't want or need it.  Come on, we have all been to Costco and as we are entering the store say, "I wonder what the free snacks are today?  I'm ready for some lunch."

I probably mentioned on a blog a few months ago, that our favorite neighborhood pizza placed closed.  It was a sad day in the Johnson's apartment.  Then a month ago we noticed some activity in the empty space and wondered who was going to be our new neighbor.  Then we saw a sign, The Shawarma and Grill.  And what exactly was that?

We were coming home about 7:30 one night and noticed the doors were open and people going inside.  It was a beautiful night so we decided to go for a walk and take a look.  As we walked, in we were greeted by a friendly young waitress and also a husband and wife behind the counter. They offered us a menu and said to order anything we would like...tonight the food was free as they were getting ready to open tomorrow and wanted to make sure everything would run smoothly.  We were happy to be their guinea pigs....and we were (pigs) happy to help out.  The meal was wonderful with lamb, rice, hummus, pita, and pickles. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Date Night in our Hood

We are so fortunate to live close to some historic night spots (or in our case Saturday afternoon spots), all within walking distance.

We enjoy starting our date with a great brick oven pie and a fresh salad at Dee's.  New Yorkers come quite a way to enjoy a meal here.  It doesn't look too impressive on the outside, but the inside is very attractive and there is nothing like the food.  We are going to miss their pizza more than you can imagine.  We'll probably get a pie to go as we begin our drive home.

After a wonderful meal and just a short block away is the movie theater. Again, it doesn't look great from the outside.  But, the theater has reclining seats and is very spacious.  They show all the newly released movies.

What could be better than ice cream after a good movie?  Just another few steps and you are at Eddie's Sweet Shop.  Eddie's opened in 1909 and has never closed it's doors.  It has been owned by only four different families.  It is not opened during the weekdays, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there is a long line.

I just love living in a neighborhood where I can walk to any service I need.  How convenient it is when you need just one item at the store and in two minutes you can be across the street at the market.  Need to mail a letter. . . just a short few blocks from home, and right next door to the salon where I get my hair done.  Banking?  Again a half a block away. By the way, when I say "block" in New York it is totally different than an Arizona "block."  A New York block is a fraction of an Arizona block.

It is going to be a big adjustment for me when we get home....I'm going to have to drive to the store!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Woman to Admire

Sister Hinckley is one of the woman whom I most admire and respect. She exemplified what it is to be a disciple of Christ.   She showed true love and compassion in every aspect of her life.

She was blessed to be the wife of  the late Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley.  He expressed on numerous occasions his devotion and love for her.

I love the story when they had been dating for some time.  He wanted to propose marriage, but he only had $100.00 to his name.  Marjorie came from a well to do family.  But, he summoned all his courage and proposed.  I loved her response, "You mean I will be your wife plus I get $100.00!  Of course I'll marry you."

Last Megazone Conference Boo Hoo

We have mixed emotions as we attended the last megazone Conference before we go home.  They are quite a bit of work for President and Sister Reynolds and the senior missionaries who volunteer to help.  Most missions have megazone conferences every quarter, but the Mission Department is trying a new approach in the New York South Mission, conferences every six weeks.  The conferences start at 9:00 am and are over by 3:00 pm and have approximately 60 missionaries per conference. Our mission is divided into four megazones, so they take up the better part of a week.

We volunteered to provide the meal for the conference which involved purchasing and transporting the food, preparing the meal, and clean up. It's fun working and laughing with the other senior couples.  Each senior brings so many experiences to share.  Today we served BBQ chicken sandwiches, coleslaw, pickles, chips, grapes, and cookies.  We also have a fifteen to twenty minute time slot where we present on what else but, cleaning.  We attend all megazone conferences.

Here are some pictures of lunch with the missionaries.

You can see they are all dressed like dedicated missionaries enjoying their lunch. They are so appreciative, but it is nearly impossible to fill them up.

Did someone say there was more food????

After singing "Called to Serve" to the senior missionaries as a thank you, they are more than happy to help clean their tables.

Emoji Burger

Saturday.....Oh, Saturday.... P Day???

This last Saturday, we left the apartment around 7:30 am to meet the nephew of the new senior couple who will be coming at the end of the month (April).  Elder Ho and Sister Lee (Holy-pretty funny) shipped three large boxes to their nephew, David Ho, who lives in Jersey City and asked if we could meet him at their new apartment prior to their arrival. Elder Ho and Sister Lee are from Taiwan and will be serving in Dyker Heights which is primarily an Asian community.  Everything went smoothly and the boxes were delivered.

Richard began putting together the wooden shelving unit, only to discover the box contained two right sides to the unit.  So he had to take apart what he had already put together.  I was busy putting the finishing touches on the kitchen and bathroom.  We will need one more trip to try again with the shelving unit.  We are picking up Elder Ho and Sister Lee at JFK airport next Saturday afternoon, take them to their new home, and then do some grocery shopping.

Last week all the furniture we had ordered from Ikea was delivered.  The apartment is looking so cute.

This photo doesn't look as cute as the apartment does when you are in it.
 Maybe it's the spirit that the picture does not capture.  

We had made an appointment to see an apartment in Astoria at 11:00, so we left the apartment and crossed our fingers that the traffic would cooperate.  Not to be.  We called the realtor and asked how long he could wait for us, it would be close.  When we arrived, we double parked, and I stayed in the car while Richard went to see the apartment.  The apartment was nice but a little pricey so not sure what we will do about it.

Then on to our lunch appointment in Jackson Heights with a companionship of sister missionaries, Sister Steninger and Sister McDowell.  They are sister trainers which means they are assigned to work with all the sisters in their area to assist them in setting goals, how to teach, etc.  And they are both from Arizona.

Richard, Sister Steninger, Sister McDowell, and me (the old looking sister)
You can see from the sign we are eating at Emoji Burger...the best hamburgers in New York.  It was a delightful hour visiting with the sisters about their families and their goals for their future.   Have you ever watched the TV series on Netflix called Heartland?  Well, Sister McDowell looks just like the star of the show.  That was the first thing I said to her when I met her a year ago.  She said she hears that all the time.

Next, the four of us went to the office, the sisters to start a face time chat with an investigator, and we went down,down to the dungeon to pick up supplies for the Megazone Conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

We are trying to keep our spirits up since we would like to replace three apartments before we leave the mission at the end of May. We know our Father in Heaven will assist us and guide us to the appropriate apartments.

It is so important not to become discouraged.  We mortals have a tendency to want to control everything.  We want things to happen on our time schedule.  We sometimes want to force things to happen.

But, we must have faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We are never alone when we are doing the Lord's work.  We do our best and pray for guidance.  We have a testimony that our Heavenly Father knows us and is aware of all we do.  All we have to do is ask and have faith that He is there listening and will bless us. This has never failed us.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Home Teaching

Sister Singh with her daughters Rochelle and Lilly.

This is a beautiful family we home teach.

When Sister Singh graduated from high school she left her home in Jamaica to start a new life in New York.  She came alone to a new country.  Soon she found a job and began her life in America.  Because of her faith, she felt a need to attend a church.  She met the Mormon missionaries, accepted their message, and was baptized. She has been a faithful member for eighteen years.  her husband, who is not a member of the church, supports her in her beliefs.

Sister Singh's present calling is teaching in Relief Society.  I always enjoy her lessons.  All of the Relief Society and Sunday School lessons are so interesting because the teacher and participants bring a different aspect with their varied experiences and cultures.

Rochelle just turned twelve and is enjoying Young Womens. Baby Lilly is just darling and of course loved by all.

We feel blessed to have them in our lives and will miss them when we return home.

Monday, April 10, 2017

America's Beginning

As we near the end of our mission in New York, there were still a few places we wanted to visit before going home.

On one trip to New York several years ago we did all the touristy things, one being the Statue of Liberty.  But, on that visit we ran out of time and did not continue the tour to Ellis Island.  We felt like we had seen the most iconic of the two.  We were wrong.

The history surrounding Ellis Island touches most of our lives as 40% to 50% of Americans can trace their immigration heritage to Ellis Island. Amazing!

We purchased our tickets before going.....
You can see it is "official"

We left our apartment early Saturday morning to catch the bus and then the subway.  We planned on spending the day on this adventure.  Once we arrived at the port, we handed our official ticket and boarded the ferry. It was about a half an hour ride to the Statue of Liberty where the majority of the riders disembarked.
Just imagine how immigrants felt when they saw this symbol of freedom welcoming them to American . . . "Lady Liberty"?

Then on to Ellis Island.
This is a picture of Richard standing beside the ferry after we had disembarked.
It's surprising how close New Jersey is to Ellis Island.  In fact, there was a disagreement between New York and New Jersey as to who should own Ellis Island.
We purchased the "hard hat" tour of the island which included a tour of the original hospital and surrounding area.  It was so interesting to wander through the halls and rooms of the hospital.  The hospital had not been renovated due to lack of funding which is too bad.  It was fairly dark inside, so was unable to take pictures.  We had to use our imagination and try to visualize what it was like.  It was interesting to see the surgery theater and how primitive it was, the small rooms to accommodate the vast amount of people, and the lack of appropriate showers and bathrooms.

After the "hard hat' tour, we decided to have some lunch.  Below is a picture of the main museum and off to the side is a cafe.  Lunch was good, we shared a hamburger.

After lunch we went inside the museum

and then who do we see.......

yes, two sister missionaries.  Missionaries are able to work in the genealogy section of the museum on Saturdays.

The museum was beautifully done.  We wandered around for a few hours enjoying each display.  We were fortunate that there was not a big crowd. It was quite cold and windy which I am sure discouraged many people from choosing this day for a tour.

After we left the museum, we decided to explore the surrounding area and came upon some street performers.  They were so entertaining to watch....both the tricks they did and their funny personalities.  They asked for volunteers to help with the next stunt and no one came forward, so they started selecting people from the crowd.  They looked at me and said, "Come on sugar mama.  We need you."  (I think I was "sugar mama" due to may age.)  It was fun and Richard gave them a big tip.

It was starting to get dark so we decided these old "sugar daddy and sugar mama" needed to get home and rest.  Fun day!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Trip Back in Time

Long Island, which includes the Burroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, is approximately 120 miles long.  At the Eastern tip of the island is the town of Montauk.  Approximately 20 miles to the West are the towns of Hampton Bays and Riverhead, where there are small LDS branches.  Misssionaries are assigned to both branches, and we have opened several missionary apartments in the area during our mission.

A popular tourist site in Montauk is the Montouk Lighthouse, built on the eastern most tip of the Island, just outside of the Town of Montouk.  We finally found a free day to visit the Lighthouse, an all day trip from our apartment in Queens.  It was a great adventure.

Montauk Point Lighthouse was the first built in New York state, and stands on a historic and spectacular site.  It was here, high above the ocean, that the Montaukett Tribe first built fires to guide their canoes safely home.

During the American Revolution the British occupied Long Island.  On this bluff they called "Turtle Hill", they kept watch with fires burning as beacons for their ships blockading Long Island Sound.

After the Revolution and to safeguard ships and promote international trade, the building of the Lighthouse was authorized in 1792 by the Second Congress under President George Washington. The deed signed by President Washington to purchase the land is still on display in the Lighthouse Musuem.

During World War II members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army were both stationed at the Lighthouse.  In 1942 a Fire Control Station was built on the Lighthouse grounds so that the U.S. Army Artillery Division at the Lighthouse could coordinate with cannon crews stationed west of the Lighthouse at Camp Hero.  During the war German U-boats were often seen just off shore, and several German spies secretly entered the US near Montauk.

For over two hundred years mariners on whaling ships, steamers, fishing boats and sailing vessels of all kinds have passed this Lighthouse and were guided and reassured by its presence.

Before starting our journey home, we stopped at wonderful local seafood restaurant--Inlet Seafood Restaurant-- and enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh caught fish (an added bonus).

It was a wonderful day trip and will forever be a part of our favorite memories of New York.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Here we are outside the Lighthouse.  

We could hardly believe there were surfers on such a cold day!

We were tired and happy to be home that evening.  It felt so good to have our PJ's on and relaxing on the sofa, when....the phone rang at 8:00 pm.  We held our breath and answered the call.  A couple of missionaries locked themselves out of their apartment.  So, we got dressed, went to the office to pick up the key, and drive to Flushing.  Flushing is about 20 minutes from the office but the traffic was terrible so it took 30 minutes.  The missionaries met us at the door thinking they would get the key and then bring it back down to us as we waited in the car. But surprise, we decided to do an apartment inspection.  They both had a look of trepidation in their eyes.  That look was understanding and we spent the next hour helping them clean their apartment.  Traffic was worse going home and arrived at our apartment after 10:00 pm.

Even still it was a great day!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tender Mercies

For the past few months, we have been told that a new senior couple from Taiwan will be serving in the New York South Mission and assigned specifically to the Chinese speaking ward in Dyker Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn (Dyker Heights has one of the largest populations of Chinese in NYC, and its shops and fish markets make you think you are in the heart of China--the fresh fish, many still gasping for air, line the sidewalks as you walk by).  We, of course were tasked to find a suitable apartment for them, and we have spent the last month fruitlessly searching, both through our own efforts and the assistance of a local  realtor.

This last week we attended the mid-transfer missionary mega zone conference for the approximately 60 missionaries assigned to the Brooklyn Stake.  Besides making a presentation relating to missionary apartments, we assisted in preparing and serving lunch to the missionaries.  As we were working in the kitchen, Elder Johnson received a telephone call from a member who is familiar with the area. She said that a friend, who is a real estate agent, mentioned he had an apartment we might want to see.  Elder Johnson immediately called to arrange to see the apartment right after the conference. Imagine our surprise and delight when we discovered the apartment was directly across the street from the chapel where we were attending conference!

The apartment was perfect and we are in the process of completing the leasing agreement.

This brings to mind the talk by Elder Bednar in the April 2005 General Conference titled, "Tender Mercies of the Lord."

Elder Bednar teaches, "the Lord's tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings....which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."
"We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord's tender mercies.  The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us..."

We have experienced the Lord's tender mercies as we serve as housing coordinators in New York.  We marvel at how we are inspired to call a certain real estate agent, drive down a particular street, search a site on the Internet, or make a particular phone call.

We have a testimony that the Lord's hand is in all we do.   We know we could not complete our work without His help....and we are truly blessed.


Last week we were doing apartment inspections in Brooklyn.  The first apartment we went to was a newly renovated apartment that we have been renting for about 6 months.  We were not too concerned about how the apartment was being cared for because we knew the missionaries fairly well and they knew we were coming.

They greeted us at the outside door looking like well groomed missionaries.  We walked up the flight of stairs to their apartment, and were in for a bit of a surprise!  Every wall had something taped or tacked on it, along with a string of Christmas lights -- a mission "no no"; clothes were draped over every horizontal space; and about five pairs of shoes lay under the study desks (not to mention the slippers).  The desks were cluttered leaving not much room for studying.  They were in the process of making lunch so we understood the kitchen was being used.  I don't even want to mention the condition of the floors.  Needless to say, we had a sit down discussion with them and they agreed to make the necessary changes.

After we left, the office elders arrived to pick up an extra bed that had been used for a trio (a third temporary missionary).  The office elders and the two missionaries decided they would all carry the mattresses downstairs.  Always so helpful.....but in the process they forgot to take the apartment keys, and the door slammed shut behind them--locked.  The office elders had the spare office key with them, but it did not work.  Unable to pick the lock, we were called to arrange for a locksmith and cover the payment.  An hour's drive later we were back to the apartment to meet with the locksmith and use our credit card for the $429 charge.  What had started out as a 30 minute apartment inspection turned into an expensive 4 hour learning experience for all concerned.

Next we went to an apartment that was one of the smallest and oldest apartments in the mission.  We were not hopeful.  Again the missionaries, being well groomed, met us at the door.  Up two more flights of stairs holding our breath as to what we might find.

Their apartment was spotless and in perfect condition.  We asked them how they liked the apartment and they replied, "It's fine.  We try to keep in neat and clean otherwise it would be very depressing."  They made our day.

This makes me wonder . . . . Are we cluttering up our lives with unnecessary junk?  Are we hanging on to past goals that were not met due to unseen circumstances or our own weaknesses?  Do we blame others or fret over old mistakes that weigh us down?  Are we worrying about things that are out of our control?

All of this "junk" can prevent us from becoming who we should be.  Concentrate on the now and move forward.

Remember, you are in control of your happiness, since you are in control of your attitude.

Judging....a Parable

A little girl was sitting on a chair holding two apples in her hands.  Her mother came to her and asked softly, "Honey, can you share one apple with me?"
The little girl looked at her mom for a second and suddenly took a bite from one of the apples.  Then she quickly took a bite from the second apple.  Seeing this made the mother feel sad, but she didn't want to reveal her disappointment.  After a few moments of silence, the little girl handed one of the apples to her mother and said, "Mom, take this one.  This is the sweetest one."  Suddenly, the mother realized the mistake of quickly judging her little girl before understanding her true intention.

Likewise in life, we should always avoid judging others by our own level of perception and understanding.  There is usually more to the story than we first see, and we should always remain open minded.

It is a wise person who assumes that everyone acts with the best intentions. None of us know what is in another's heart.  It is kinder to show love towards one another,and the world will be a better place.

Christ was the perfect example of love.  How often is the word "charity" mentioned in the scriptures?   This is a Christ like attribute we should all strive to attain.  Start practicing today....look at everyone as a child of God and is loved by Him.  They are your brothers and sisters.  Help them along is this journey called mortal life.  Be kind, charitable and tolerant.  Judging others is not our responsibility.  We read in the scriptures, as we judge others, so we will be judged.

Now is the time to start a new day with love in your heart.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Dinner with the President

On the Saturday following Valentine's Day, the senior missionaries were invited to dine at the President and Sister Reynold's home.  We always enjoy gathering together with the other seniors and sharing what is going on in our areas of assignments and experiences.  The dinner was delightful and delicious.  After dinner, President Reynold asked us all to share one thing that none of the others attending knew about them.  It was a fun way to get to know another aspect of each other.  It's such a wonderful group of people who we have grown to love and will always have fond memories of. Each one is a dedicated missionary and a joy to work with.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Seated around the table beginning on the left, President and Sister Reynolds, Elder and Sister Conger, Elder and Sister Williams, Elder and Sister Shapiro, Sister Lilly (Elder Lilly took the picture), Elder and Sister Adams, Richard and myself, Elder and Sister Hopkins, Sister Peterson (whose husband passed away a couple of years ago), and finally Anthia (who is employed by the mission to help the President and Sister Reynolds)

Here's another shot:

Now you will have to read in reverse!

We are one of the "old timers."  The Lilly's leave in March, we leave in June, and Sister Peterson in September.  All the others have close to a year or more to serve.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Seeing Is Believing

We are all familiar with the old adage,
"Seeing is Believing."  

Are you one of those persons who has to see something to believe it is true?

If your friend told you, "Hey, I just baked the most amazing cake.  Would you believe or would you need to see it (maybe taste too)?  or "I just saw the most beautiful rainbow outside."  Would you need to look outside to see if there was a rainbow?

Do you need proof, to see for yourself, before you can believe something is true? It is probably safe to assume most of us need to see to believe.  But, is that true in all aspects of our lives, or can we trust?

Are there things that you haven't seen for yourself, but know they are true?  How about the Great Wall of China.  Have you seen it?  I know China exists and I have heard about the Wall, but I have not seen it.  Or, dinosaurs.  I feel confident in saying none of us lived during the time that dinosaurs roamed the earth.  I have seen pictures and replicas, so I have hope and faith these things are true. So I can surmise they are true without seeing for myself.  

These are two different examples of believing without seeing.  So are there other areas where we don't need to see to believe?  Think about that for a moment. 

Now, lets change "seeing is believing" to
"Believing is Seeing."

If we believe in something, will we be able to reach farther and see, or understand more?

Do you believe the scriptures in the New Testament are true without having lived in that time?  

In Hebrews 11:1 we read,
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

So, we can say we have hope and then upon further research we have faith things we have not seen or experienced for ourselves are true.

Read in Alma 32:21,
"And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things, therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

The more hope and faith we have will lead us to studying the scriptures and pondering what we have read.  We began to understand more....we began to see. To see with spiritual eyes.  We will not only have hope and faith, but we will know.

The first step to knowing is to have faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  When Joseph Smith was but a boy of only 14, he wanted to know what was true.  He read in,
James 1:5-6
5  "If any of you lack wisdom, let his ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Joseph had the faith to pray to his Father in Heaven.  He had not seen God, but he knew He existed.  He knew the promise in the New Testament was true.

Like Joseph Smith, we too can receive answers, if we have faith.  And like Joseph our knowledge will be increased as we remain faithful and study the scriptures.

BELIEVING IS SEEING things of the spirit.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Oh, the Things You Can Do With a Hanger!

In the New York South Mission there are 9 zones.  Every 6 weeks we have mega zone conferences with two or three zones.

I have mentioned in an earlier blog that we are given 20 minutes at each conference to teach important principles concerning missionary apartments and how to maintain and clean them.  We try to make our presentation fun and informative.  As we reviewed the telephone calls from missionaries the previous 6 weeks, 4 problems seemed to dominate the conversations.  Bugs...vacuums...clogged drains, and toilets that don't flush.

My dear companion, Elder Johnson, was so sweet in asking me to cover the topics of drains and toilets.  Neither are great topics to cover, especially during the lunch hour.  How to make it fun???

Years ago, when I had a sink that would not drain, Richard took a wire clothes hanger and devised a simple tool with a hook on the end.  Just insert the tool in the drain and because of the hook on the end, you can pull out all sorts of "gunk" from the drain.  The sister missionaries all have beautiful long hair so their sinks are always clogging. Richard made one for each sister missionary (I added the ribbon).  They were delighted.  We told the elders when in the not too distant future they will have wives and daughter who will come to them with clogged sinks, and they too can become heroes.  The mission president thought we should go on the TV show Shark Tank, in which inventors and investors are brought together to compete on which invention will be promoted and financed. Who knows........


Yesterday, at church we sang, "I Stand All Amazed" for the sacrament hymn.  It is one of my favorite hymns.

I pondered how amazing the blessings that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with because He love us....we are His children.  I think of the beauties of the earth, the air we breathe, all the comforts we enjoy, beautiful music, our families and friends, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Think of the Old Testament.  The scriptures written by prophets of old, their lives and the world they lived in, and most importantly, a record of God's revelations to them and His children both living and yet to be born. One of my favorites in the Old Testament is Psalms.
Psalm 8:3-9
3  When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6  Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7  All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8  The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas,
9  O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

And how beautiful is the New Testament.  Therein we learn about the birth, life and atoning sacrifice of the promised Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  In these scriptures we learn by word and example of Christ's many attributes, and are challenged to become like Him by being more loving, more charitable, more patient and forgiving, more obedient, and rendering more service to others.  He set the example of how we should live, and He taught these same principles through parables.  Through His works He taught love and compassion.
I Corinthians 13:1-13
1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a thinking cymbal.
2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Please turn to your own scriptures for the remaining verses.  They are beautiful...

How do we show love to our Father in Heaven?  Simply by following His commandments.  Through following His commandments we will find joy beyond measure.  And it can and should be so easy.  But, we are human. Because we are not perfect, we make wrong choices.  We transgress the law.  Does this mean we are doomed?   Is it too late?  Never!  Our savior became our advocate to the Father and through His grace satisfied justice by suffering for our sins if we will but repent and have faith.  His atonement not only save us from our sins, but assures us that He understands our sorrows and pains and we are comforted thereby.  What a blessing!

My favorite scriptures are found in the Book of Mormon.  The writings of the Book of Mormon were specifically written for us!  They teach us about Lehi and his sons as they travel from Jerusalem to the promised land...America.  We learn of their blessings, trials, and wars.  These scriptures teach us when we follow the commandments and remain faithful we will be blessed.  We learn when we have trials and sorrows, our Heavenly Father will be with us and comfort us.

I love how the plan of salvation is explained in 2 Nephi 2 and the atonement and judgement in 2 Nephi 9.  I marvel at the faith of the brother of Jared, the wisdom of King Benjamin, the strength of Alma, the testimony of his son and the sons of Mosiah, the leadership and bravery of Helaman and his 2,000 stripling warriors, Mormon and his son Moroni watching the destruction and end of their people.  I could go on and on.

How blessed we are to live in this dispensation when the Book of Mormon came forth through the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He was the latter day prophet who was visited by  the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He was chosen to transcribe the Book of Mormon so that we could have these valuable scriptures today.  He was commissioned to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people living in these the latter days.

We are so blessed and loved by our Father in Heaven.  We are His children and He wants us to return to Him.  He has made it so easy and asks so little of us. Follow His commandments and the example of His son, Jesus Christ. In return we are promised the richest of blessings....eternal life with our Father.