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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.