Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zone Conference Week
This week we enjoyed 4 zone conferences.  The First one was Wednesday in Nazareth, PA.  After it was all complete, we headed back home via Bethlehem and we saw the local police on horseback!
Elder Jones had the responsibility this week to inspect all of the mission vehicles.  That added up to about 100 cars in 4 days, which was quite a feat in itself.  By the last day he had it down to a science.  The photo below is the parking lot of the Dover, DE chapel.  We noticed that since it was further south the leaves were still on some of the trees and this particular location had amazing fall foliage still!
 It was a bit cold outside and this shows Elder Jones wearing his new scarf and his beanie to keep warm.  His favorite line from the missionaries was "uh....a dipstick?"
 At the Dover building we enjoyed an especially lovely Thanksgiving dinner.  I took this photo because the stake Relief Societies of the various areas were to prepare a lunch.  This one was done by 2 couples, one who did catering.  They decorated the gym with linen tablecloths, chargers and china, goblets and cloth napkins and beautiful fall centerpieces.  The meal included every possible Thanksgiving entree and was exceptional.  I almost cried to see the work that these couple went to to provide such a special luncheon.
I learned many things this week as we visited with every one of the missionaries within the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Mission.  The Lord is in charge of this work.  The missionaries are more prepared and dedicated than ever.  Angels are protecting our missionaries.  In Nazareth the night before our arrival an elder was going too fast on his bike down a hill and did not stop at the 4-way stop at the bottom.  He hit a pickup truck, landing on the front windshield and breaking it, then flying through the air, landing on his back in the road.  He ended up sore and with some steri-strips on 3 places around his lips, but that is all.  He was very blessed to be alive.  The stress of the conferences was to teach by the Spirit and to teach short, well-planned lessons using the pamphlets.  We saw this demonstrated many times and then heard the results the next day as this technique was used.  It is effective and will convert!  It was a privilege to be able to attend these conferences and to meet the wonderful missionaries within this mission.  We had a brief session to present on records, commissary and cars, so we got to rub shoulders with the missionaries personally.  We bear testimony that this is the Lord's work and he is in charge.  Thank you for your love and support while we serve this mission!  We love you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall is Done
See all of these leaves?  They are now in piles all over the curbs, sidewalks, streets, etc.  We have been told that eventually the city comes and vacuums them all up, but right now it is pretty crunchy out and about.  We had our first "snow" this past Monday night.  It was just a light flurry that did not stick, but it WAS technically snow.  

We anticipated training this past week on I-pads, but instead, brethren from SLC came to analyze our mission prior to the I-pads.  They find that our mission has a very large teaching pool, but not proportionately as many baptisms as should be, so they came and met with the Mission president, AP's and also went on splits and teaching assignments and then spent all day Thursday teaching the Zone and some district leaders regarding effective teaching that would lead to more baptisms.  The missionaries said that it was really good training and should really help them.  Brother Hemmingway is over the proselyting in the missionary dept.  He heard someone ask me where we were from and I said St. George.  He picked up on the conversation and asked what part of St. George.  Then he said "Oh, my brother in law lives in Bloomington, Bill Western."  So it was fun to visit with him over lunch.  As all of this was going on, Corry received a visit from Greg Jensen who is over all of the cars for missionaries.  He came to introduce himself and to explain a bit about the new cars program that was launched last week.  Elder Jones was a bit disappointed that he did not learn very much, as he is wanting to understand the new program.  In reality, the visit brought more questions than answers, but they too will come.  Greg Jensen did tell Elder Jones that the announcement from President Monson to lower the missionary ages for elders and sisters cost the church $70 million.  That would be in cars, insurance, apartments, supplies, more MTC lodging, etc.  Amazing!  Aren't we glad to be even a small part of missionary work by paying our tithing so that the missionary efforts can continue and progress.

This coming week we have zone conferences.  We will be traveling Wed.-Sat.  Wed. we will travel to Nazareth, PA, then downtown Philadelphia, then Dover, DE and finally our own ward building.  We have heard from other couples that have been here longer that we will each need to participate in the training.  I have prepared a couple of items so that I will be ready--Dad is always ready.  He will be especially busy that day as at the zone conferences is the inspection of the vehicles.  We have 100 cars in our mission, so that means that around 25 must be inspected each day.  It will be fun to meet missionaries in these different areas.  When we conduct these zone conferences the Relief Societies in the area prepare a lunch for the missionaries.  

Yesterday was our P-Day.  Elder Jones arose early (of course) and attended the soccer game of a family the bishop assigned for us to visit.  Massi was very happy that Elder Jones said he would come to his game and then came.  He needs a father figure in his life.  Then Elder Jones stopped by the home of an investigator who just dropped the sister missionaries and challenged him to continue studying and reading.  (I stayed home and cleaned our tiny apartment)  We then went with another senior couple into Philadelphia and did some Christmas shopping (yes, dad helped!), shared a really good turkey burger at the Continental Diner and quickly headed home for another appointment with the sister missionaries.  We taught a less active brother who grew up in Idaho and basically abandoned the church in his early teens but is now needing that anchor in his life.  He began reading the Book of Mormon voraciously this past week and hopes to finish it tonight!  We meet often with him and his non-member wife. They are very sweet to us.  We finished up the day by having supper and games with 2 other senior couples in this area.  We are blessed to be surrounded by such awesome people!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Week in Review
Each month the senior missionaries try to gather for a family home evening.  This month we headed for downtown Philly to view the temple site.  It was quite interesting.  Brother and Sister Carr are over the temple site.  There is a single wide trailer they have set up as a small visitor's center.  When the temple was planned for Philadelphia the church purchased some land in Valley Forge on a hill there.  But that was not where Heavenly Father wanted the temple.  It needed to be right downtown! This site was discovered and it was perfect, except that there was much resistance in selling it to the Church.  Zoning was fine, the city just did not vote in favor of releasing it to the Church.  Vi Sikahema (sp?) is a local sports caster and Stake President and he was asked to come to the meeting where the vote would be taken and address the city fathers.  He did so, and very eloquently explained the importance of the family in the Church and how his family struggled to be able to be sealed as a family because of the distance they had to travel in order to perform this sacred sealing.  When the vote was taken the result was the sale of the property to the church.  Heavenly Father is definitely in charge of his houses!  The above shot is of the construction site.  In the upper right corner is the first of the girders for an outside wall.  The rest of the middle is the 2 story parking facility.  When they dug this huge hole they hit granite and it had to be blasted out.  I was able to get a small piece of that rock.  Then they hit underground water and had to go through a lengthy process of diverting it around the temple itself.  The building is to be finished around May 2016.  We will definitely have to return to see its completion.  The granite for the face of the building was to come from China--a very high quality.  But the quarry since shut down, so a hurried search was begun to find another suitable granite.  The granite has been secured and it comes from Maine.  It is a lovely grey speckled look and we got to hold it.  The finished temple will blend in nicely with the other very old buildings near it and it will be a fitting tribute to a city with such historical significance as well as religious freedom beginnings.

 Elder Jones had the assignment this week to do the training on the weekly conference call to all of the missionaries.  It was to be about dealing with the stress of being on a mission.  After much preparation and revision, Corry felt good about his presentation and had it for 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes--whatever time was given to him.  As it happened, the call had a glitch and it took about 10 minutes to get it going properly, so the 15 minute presentation was just perfect.  I was very pleased for Corry--he did a really good job.  He instructed them, among other things NOT to "agree to disagree" with their companions.  That is just no way to live and work together.  He said that he could not imagine Heavenly Father and his companion, Jesus Christ ever using that phrase.  I thought that was quite profound.  Friday we spent most of the day taking an Elder from Camden New Jersey to get a root canal in Norristown, about 20 miles NW of Philadelphia.  It was good to get to know more of the elders in our mission on a personal level.  We also got to drive to Newark, DE this past week to take supplies to the sisters.  We are getting to see more of the mission.  This week we will be trained on the use of I-phones and I-pads.  Our mission will be receiving them in December.  We have training for 3 days, and then we hold a district leader training.  I imagine Elder Jones will again be doing some training on stress.  I will be helping to prepare a potato bar for 40.

So to prepare for this, we treated ourselves to a fun P-day with the Holloways and Smuins, local senior missionaries.  Here is how we spent Saturday:

This is the famous Bell Tower with the statue of William Penn atop.  They will take you to the top and it shows a fabulous view of the city.  But alas, it is not open on Saturday, so we walked all around, looked at the various statues and the architecture but will have to return for another look from the top.
 This is a statue of Benjamin Franklin, the printer.  There are very many statues of Ben Franklin in this city.
 This statue is a tribute to the family and it was to celebrate the 200 anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  The plaque explains how important the family is to the principle of constitutional government.
 Right by the statue of the family is a very large cement area filled with various large game pieces:  dominoes, parts of Monopoly, Bingo, Clue, etc.  The elders are standing on B-11.
 The sisters standing by a Monopoly playing piece.
 Yes, I stood in line for 30 minutes, but I got to see the Liberty Bell close up!  It was worth it!  When we arrived Saturday morning we parked our car in a local LDS Church building parking lot and took the train the rest of the way in to the center of Philly.  We had to get on the subway about 4 different times, but it sure helped not to do quite so much walking.  Don't get me wrong, we got plenty of walking.  We headed next to the Reading Market.  It is a large block market.  It is enclosed and sells any and every kind of food imaginable.  I saw every deli item, meat, fruit, veggie, bread, candy, dessert and all of this in many different ethnicities.  We chose to eat at the Amish area and enjoyed a really good lunch there in very tight quarters.
 Elder Jones at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the site of the famous "Rocky" running up the steps for his boxing training.  While we were there we saw many groups racing up the stairs.  The men waited in the car, but all three of the sisters climbed the stairs!
 Grandma and Grandpa Jones at the statue of "Rocky".

View from the top of the "Rocky" steps.  Philadelphia really does have a lovely skyline.  When we finished the city tour we headed to Valley Forge and drove through the park.  The fall foliage was mostly gone, but the drive was beautiful nonetheless.  Then we went to our new favorite place, Zwalen's, a premier ice cream shop.  The owners are LDS and give missionaries 1/2 price.  We had a great day!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Finally, Fully Fall!

          All of the photos above were taken on the way home from church today, Nov. 3, 2013.  We have enjoyed the brilliant colors this week.  Elder Jones took a trip with 2 young Elders to a small town near Cape May, MD and enjoyed a colorful scene of tree-lined highway all the way there and back.  He even commented on how gorgeous it was.  I have seen colors of fall that I did not even know existed in foliage.  We are happy to be enjoying such beauty.
          We have had a very busy week.  On Monday evening we had a dinner to honor the outgoing missionaries.  We had 10 elders and 1 sister.  They all flew home early the next morning.  Then on Tuesday we had the transfers of all those involved, so there were about 150 missionaries at the office to get this all accomplished.  2 new areas were opened for proselyting so that was good.  The missionaries who were paired up left, except for the 21 who would be getting "goldens" the next day.  They stayed with various missionaries close by.  Then training began for those who would receive "goldens" and that had to be cut short so we could leave and pick up the incoming missionaries at the airport.  We all went, returning with precious new missionaries to the mission home where various paperwork, interviews and orienting occurred.  Elder Jones had to interview each one to see if they would be able to drive a car.  I mostly helped in the kitchen.  Then Elder and Sister Jones took off to pick up one last missionary at the airport who had flown in from the Mexico City MTC.  We got a good visit with him.  The thing that all of these missionaries shared was hunger, sleepiness, and happiness to actually finally be on their mission.  They especially enjoyed a regular home-cooked meal at the mission home.  They all spent the night there, then came to the mission office the next morning to be assigned to a companion and an area.  It is an exciting time.  Elder Jones once again presented his Power-Point on Managing Stress as a missionary.  We absolutely know that the Lord is over this work!  He has to be in order for it all to somehow work.  We love seeing the growth of the ones returning home compared to the ones just coming into the field, but the "goldens" are so enthusiastic that it is also good to see.  In the 21 new ones we received were also 4 "Visa Blessings" who are awaiting their Visas to go to Brazil.  This transfer and the in and outgoing missionaries means that all of the phones and cars get moved to new missionaries (they stay with the apartment normally).  That plus the fact that Elder Jones had 9 new cars to be assigned made an interesting situation for each of us.  We have appreciated the Lord's help in handling these situations.  We each had some mind boggling computer issues to conquer.  We are growing in our appreciation of just what it takes to manage a mission.