Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zone Conference Week
Zone Conference comes every 3 months.  We go to 4 areas and in those 4 days we meet with 11 zones.  The farthest we have to go is Nazareth, PA, which is about 2 hours.  Much of the training that day comes from the President, his wife, the AP's and then others such as stake presidency members, that they ask to participate.  Usually it involves practicing a principle in role play.  Then there are break out sessions where the missionaries receive specific training in certain areas.  Our breakout session this time had 5 presenters in 20 minutes--so you can imagine that we had to simply emphasize one area and speak quickly.  And we did. We plan these conferences plenty of time ahead, as the mission secretary has to ask relief societies to prepare lunch for us.  The sisters below are from a newly formed Stroudsburg Spanish Branch.  They fixed us a most wonderful hispanic meal.  They are mostly Dominican.  They were awesome.  We lined them up and sang "Called to Serve" to thank them.  They served us in Nazareth.
 This is us singing to the sisters above.  Notice Elder Jones with his green bowl of keys.  During the breakout session he instructed the missionaries how to properly fill out their monthly mileage form and collected all of their car keys.  Then after lunch he and the Service Elders that accompanied us as well as any senior Missionary Elders inspected the cars.  Nazareth had 3 zones and the most cars.  In the four days of conference about 100 cars were inspected.  Elder Jones has this whole car inspection down to a science by now.
 I had a very brief presentation on how the MSF (missionary credit card) transactions work.  A missionary receives $130 for elders and $140 for sisters each month on the last day of each month.  This is really not much money and it has to last all month.  The amount is specific to each mission and there are some missionaries who have to have more because of medications that they must take.
This is us singing on the very last day (yesterday) in the Cherry Hill, NJ chapel.   The Relief Society there served us another nice lunch--this time meatball sandwiches. At their conference we got to hear from their stake president, Vai Sikahema.  He was a very good football player from BYU many years ago.  Now he is a news person here in Philadelphia.  He told us that for missionary experiences he wears his BYU attire always when traveling so people will ask him questions and he will have a chance to bring up the church.  He is very missionary minded and has the sister missionaries in his area teach often in his home.  The week sped by and we were quite tired each night.  This week we are having a senior missionary Family Home Evening tomorrow.  It is a class on family history where we will have hands-on computer experience--and then a picnic at the president's home after.  We also have 3 senior couples arriving so Elder Jones will have lots or moving to coordinate with his service elders.

As we went through the week we had a special prayer for one of our sister missionaries.  She has been out 6 weeks.  3 weeks prior to coming on her mission her returned missionary brother passed away.  Her father has cancer and while receiving his last chemo treatment this week he went into a coma and his kidneys failed. He was expected to pass yesterday.   She has had 2 very difficult challenges and we are praying for her strength and comfort.

Today at church we had a sweet experience.  Some of you have received a card from me with a lovely photo on the front taken by 'Josephine Chavez".  She has given me many of her cards and I enjoy sending them when I have occasion.  Josephine is 80 and has had many, many, health challenges recently.  Most recently she has developed a bad staph infection in her eye after a surgery and it has left her mostly blind in that eye.  It has been very painful and she has been praying very much for relief.  Anyway, today she asked to speak with us today after Sacrament Meeting.  She told us of how she just really did not know how to handle her current situation.  She has been praying and praying and yet she has received no relief and she is discouraged and tired, etc.  Then she brought out a copy of her Patriarchal blessing.  She had received it in 1969 but had not been able to read it for some time as the print was so small and she is basically blind.  She asked Elder Jones to read it to her to see if there was anything in the blessing to give her direction.  The blessing was very lovely and quite long and quite specific to her and seemed to comfort her considerably.  Basically it told her that she was not alone and to keep on with patience and cheerfulness.  Good counsel for all of us!  I had her choose a font size and I will type her blessing so that she can read it for comfort.

We are most blessed to be on this mission.  Tomorrow we also start planning for transfers next week.  That is always a fun yet busy week.

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