Sunday, September 28, 2014

Help from above

September 28, 2014
I drove myself to church today.  Keith had about 6 hours of meetings with a Stake President and a Bishop, and we still have an Elder recuperating at our home.  So I did not go with him and was going to get myself to church.

We have gone to this church about 3 times.  However, I have never driven there but had always been a passenger.  In my mind I could see most of the turns.  It is about a 15 minute drive through twisty roads.

Just as I was preparing to leave, I spotted my phone on the table.  As I went to pick it up, I remembered I hadn’t prayed, so I did that, and went to the car.  I made the first few turns correctly, but as I approached the final turn to the church, the big landmark (a billboard) was not the same.  I also couldn’t see the church through a parking lot like we usually can.  And so I drove on – but knew almost immediately that I had missed it.  It was a one way road so there was no turning back.  I drove for several blocks and turned right on the first semi-big road I could.  I reached for my phone so I could use google maps but I had forgotten to pick it up after the prayer.  I started to talk to Heavenly Father!  I hoped that I could make a square and find myself so I took the next right turn.  Almost immediately I was on dirt roads that were very narrow and filled with small houses.  I was in a little Puebla.  I carefully maneuvered around holes and people and tried another right.  I knew I should turn around immediately, which I did.  I continued down this small street as it weaved back and forth and finally saw a tower of a Catholic Church that looked familiar.  I drove towards it and was out of my confusing little area in a few more minutes.  Once at the Catholic Church, I could find my way back to our church.

I sat in Sacrament Meeting and thanked my Heavenly Father for getting me through that situation.  I almost wondered if I was supposed to forget my phone – maybe pulling over would not have been a good idea!

Elder R and Grandmother Beth

September 28, 2014
We send Elder R. home 2 days ago (September 26th).  He was supposed to fly home this coming Wednesday, October 1st as he completed his successful 2 year mission.  However, our Heavenly Father had other plans.

On Wednesday the 24th, I received a short email from his step mom.  She informed me that Elder R.’s Grandmother Beth had passed away.  They were hoping they could talk with their son.   We arranged for Elder R. to come to the office on Thursday morning and place a call to Wyoming.  When he came on Wednesday, Keith asked him if he would like to go home a little early.  He said he’d think about it and called home.  After calling he came out a shared an experience he had just 2 days before his Grandmother’s death.  He had a dream that he saw his father crying, and he rushed up and gave him comfort.

Heavenly Father had already prepared Elder R. to go home and assist his family.  We got him on a plane the next morning (Friday) and he flew to Idaho Falls, his Grandma’s town.  The viewing was that night, and the funeral the next.  We are so sad to lose him, but so happy he could go and offer support to his family.

Before he left, I asked him if his mother was an active member of the church.  He replied that his entire family, except for a 23 year old sister, were active members of the church.  He said, “And as of this coming Sunday, my sister will also be active!”  Watch out sister – brother is coming for you!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Long time to go to school

With two missionaries recovering at my house, it has been a very “quiet” time.  Keith is still doing zone conferences, and I am at home.

Hermana Valdez had the emergency appendectomy.  She will be returning to her missionary apartment tomorrow morning.  She has limited English and I have limited Spanish – however we have done pretty well at expressing ourselves.  She was telling me about her high school years.  Her mother was the Seminary teacher and they held the class at their home.  Seminary started at 5AM on school days.  Her mother would wake her up at 4 AM, she would dress in church clothes (mother requirement) and be ready by 5 AM.  The class ended at 6 AM, and “Laura” would quickly change and be off to high school which started at 7 AM.  Her high school finished at 3:30 PM unless you were in the late start which ran from 10 AM to 8 PM (there must be a siesta time in there somewhere!). American high school students should be rejoicing at this moment!  School times have recently been increased in Mexico under the new president.  Kindergarten is now from 7:30-5:00 (PM).  Can you imagine?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The mission infirmary

September 13, 2014

We are becoming an infirmary.
Hermana Valdez called Wednesday night in a lot of pain.  She arrived at the hospital at 10:30 pm.  By 1:00 AM she was in surgery for an emergency appendectomy. She was in a hospital close to the mission office which helped us get to her.  Missionaries have been dropping by to bring food to her companion Sister Cruz.  While they have been in the hospital, their apartment was robbed.  She and Sister Cruz lost everything except their clothes.  Sister Valdez will be released today.

On Thursday we heard that Elder G. needed hernia surgery.  The decision was made by his parents to keep him on his mission for the surgery.  We have some really good hospitals in Mexico; it was just finding a good surgeon.  Late Thursday night, Keith emailed the doctor that had taken care of him when we arrived from the MTC with pneumonia.  Dr. B. emailed back during the night that she would see him.  Dr. B. is a heart surgeon but we found she also does some general surgery.  Heavenly Father watches out for His missionaries – we felt it was a tender mercy.

Friday morning was zone conference in Neza.  Elder G. joined us after that and we made our way back to the mission home area where the hospital is located.  Our Assistants, Hammond and Burt, had teased Elder G. that he would probably have a beautiful surgeon.  The Angeles Hospital is big and modern.  It might as well have been sitting in SLC.  When Dr.  B. walked in, Elder G. looked at his companion and said, “I’m going to kill the assistants.”  Dr. B.  is 36 and quite beautiful.

Surgery is this morning.  Keith has taken Elder G. and his companion to the hospital.  Elder G. will probably be released tomorrow.  Having been the recipient of five hernia surgeries, my heart is pretty tender towards Elder G. this morning!

I am home starting to cook and prepare for some house guests.  There is “no way” we can send these two (and companions) back to their apartments to recover.  I’m about to start a large pot of chicken soup.  We’ll keep them in the mission home until they are in better shape and then return them to their apartments to finish recovery.  It certainly would have been more convenient to have all sisters, or all elders, but that was not the way this one rolled out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Elder Rodriquez

September 10, 2014

We said good bye to Elder Rodriquez this evening.  The three of us had tears as we hugged him one last time and put him on the plane to go home to mom.

Elder Rodriquez has been feeling like he needed to go home.  He had received just a little information from home that his father (actually step father – but the only father he had ever known) had left the family.  He had heard his mom was selling sandwiches on the street to survive.  He felt the need to go home and help.  We had him call his Stake President last week and his Stake President encouraged him to stay and he would check on his family.  Elder Rodriquez’s family lives in a small pueblo four hours away from the Stake President.

Elder Rodriquez had a good week, but the thoughts persisted.  He came into the office on Tuesday for another interview.  Keith left him in his office to call home.  When the Elder came out of the office, he was emotionally distraught.  His father had indeed left home because he had died.  He died 2 months ago.  His mother can hardly get out of bed, and needed him home.

Elder Rodriquez comes from a part member family.  He hopes to be able to bring the rest of his family to our Savior Jesus Christ.  He has gone home to poverty and a difficult situation.  We pray that our Heavenly Father will give him the strength to live his convictions and help raise his family to a better life – and we cried.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


September 7, 2014
I have felt a need to write a little about depression.  We have about 6% of our missionaries receiving some kind of help for depression.  While missions certainly bring great joy, they also bring tough experiences such as being away from home for the first time, being in a foreign country, not being able to speak a new language, new food that doesn’t always agree with you, little communication with home, and living with someone you may not pick as a friend if you had your way.  Missions will exacerbate old behaviors.

There are two types of depression we deal with: 1. Depression caused by a chemical imbalance in your body, 2. Depression caused by sin.  We love a talk given by Stephen Robinson called “Healing in His Wings.”  Quote: “Grief, despair, guilt, and depression can be caused spiritually by sin. But grief, despair, guilt, and depression can also be caused physically by hormones and by body chemistry. If our depression is caused by sin, no amount of counseling or medication will make it go away. We must repent. But if our depression is caused by our chemistry and by our hormones, no amount of prayer or fasting or faith or scripture study will make it go away. We must seek professional help.”  Fortunately for all those missionaries who deal with depression in our mission, we have trained professional help here to guide us.

We have watched those whose depression is caused by sin, gain great relief quickly through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  As they learn how to overcome their sins, their countenances change.  We see smiles and clear eyes again.  We have also watched those whose depression is caused by body chemistry just keep trying and putting their shoulder to the wheel.  Medications don’t work overnight – it takes time and patience.  Companions make a huge difference in these missionaries.  We applaud their courage to wake up and work each day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A neighboring mission

September 2, 2014
A couple of experiences from a neighboring Mission – we have some friends presiding there.  The experiences were too good not to share!

This week something happened to us that strengthened even more my testimony about the work we are doing and the protection the Lord gives/offers us.  I was on exchanges with Sister O. and in her prayer when leaving the house she asked that we might be invisible to those who would do us harm. Upon taking a bus to go to an appointment 2 armed men got on the bus, yelling and asking that we give them all that we had or they would do something to us. It scared me a little because we were precisely in the first seats. But what was our surprise that despite the fact that they passed by each one of the seats, they never came to us. It was as if we did not exist, they didn´t even turn around to look. It was a very literal answer to our prayers.  We will take the necessary measures to ensure that this never happens again.   D&C.82:10   D&C 84:88

This week Sister R. and I have been hard at work, and we have been greatly blessed with many miracles. The most eye-opening, testimony strengthening miracle (and we don´t take it lightly) was when we returned to the house for a moment, and entered in our room only to see that the concrete ceiling exactly over our beds had fallen. It is amazing that it hadn´t fallen when we were sleeping, if it had we would have been seriously injured... or more likely from the weight of it we would have been dead. I am looking for a new house as fast as I can, I want to keep my companion safe, and this house is falling apart. I know God is protecting us, but it makes me stop to think... from how much? We have to do our part, and keep striving for exact obedience, and we will have His promise!   Sister K.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What do you do all day???

September 1, 2014
So funny – we found out yesterday that today is Labor Day in the US.  We always were camping on this weekend in Fort Bragg, CA.  As many of the family that could join us, would.  Had our son not reminded us of that yesterday, the weekend would have passed without notice.  Guess we are busy!

So many have asked me what I do each day.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to answer.  I will try not to rattle on!

Keith does a lot of ministering; my duties are about half administrative and half ministering.  When I received my call from President Eyring, I was called to a three year mission to serve as a companion to my husband.  We are basically together 24-7.  There have only been a few days that we have been apart.

We try to arise at 6:30 like the missionaries.  The word “try” is in there for the nights that we return home after 10:30, or the nights we are unable to sleep because of a “crisis” in the mission.  (We dread the phone calls after 9:30 pm.  Almost always they require immediate or next day action.)  We arise and both try and fit in a little exercise – we have a couple of aerobic DVD’s and a tread mill.  We eat and get ready.  We dress in church clothes every day.  We have found safety in the name tag and so that defines how we dress.  Unlike the missionaries, we fit most of our studying in at night time.

We have discovered that administering is for all, ministering is for the one.  There are always 5-10 missionaries on our radar.  They may be there because of health concerns, obedience concerns, or because the spirit guides us to them.  We have found that we do best when we immediately react to these concerns.  It might be through interviews or through staying the night in our home.  Sometimes it involves making trips to the city for glasses, blankets, or shirts.  Missionaries move off and on our radars!

Our mission office is 11 miles away.  Our mission is another few miles away from the office.  Travel time to the office can be anywhere from 20-60 minutes due to traffic.  Traveling out to the field adds time to that.  We are often in the car 2-3 hours a day depending on traffic.  We have made travel routes and put them in a binder to many of our destinations and you would laugh at them – infrastructure is not too great around here!  They contain words like “drive around the big ugly head in the middle of the roundabout” and “drive through the crazy intersection that has five lanes squishing down to two.”

When we are at the office, we are either in meetings with the Assistants, the financial secretary, or the Elders who have been asked to come in.  If they are confidential interviews, I am not in there.  I do birthday cards, transfer planning, financial projections, medical updates, letters to incoming missionaries, and organization of every meeting (agendas, handouts, food, etc). These are my strengths, and Keith’s strengths are in compassion and helping those in need.

If we are not in the office, we may be home or in the mission field.  We like to show up at places – like baptisms and Sunday services.  We have only attended the ward we live in twice.  Every other Sunday we have gone into the field.  It’s always fun to see the looks on the faces of the Elders as we walk into a building.  We end up speaking at every meeting we walk into. 

At home we have an office.  We both sit in there with computers.  It also has a large white board with pictures of all the missionaries.  We have notes all over the pictures – these notes may be anything from a “T” meaning we think they would be a good trainer, to notes like “depressed.”  We currently have five with a big “C” on them.  That’s short for “cartel.”  It’s our catch phrase for a group of elders that we have been slowly identifying.  They hide each other’s disobedience.  Those with “C’s” will not be in leadership positions at the next change.

We seldom eat our big meal at home.  The big meal is at 2 PM and we are not here.  Therefore it’s usually at a little restaurant, Subways (better than in the states), or a bakery (they serve sandwiches).  Little local restaurants run about $4/person so they are really cheap.  Morning is cereal and fruit, night time is about the same.

We live in what we term a “concrete mansion.”  We call the living room the “chapel.”  We are told it looks just like the waiting room of the Mexico City Temple (currently closed).  The church owns the home and therefore provides a housekeeper for 10 hours a week.  The place is usually impeccable and so we just try and clean up after ourselves.  We do our own laundry (no tears please!) but spend little time with other cleaning.

We have a Vonage phone here.  It has a California phone number and works over the computer lines.  We keep in touch with our family this way.  We probably talk to each of the five families about once a week.  We do keep emails and messages going.  We also use the phone for calls to SLC, the area presidency, and families of our missionaries when needed.

I hope that answers some of the questions out there.  To call this an adventure is almost an understatement!  We do feel richly blessed by our Heavenly Father that our bodies are doing well with new food, new stresses, and many to care for.  This is an impossible task for two people.  However, two people who are guided by divine providence can keep their heads above water – most of the time!

Red tennis shoe story

Keith receives hundreds of letters a week as the Elders report on their progress.  This experience came from one of our brand new, 10 day in their mission Elders:   
 "After our evening planning session, we knelt in prayer as a companionship.  I offered the prayer, and as I was praying, the Spirit prompted me to ask Heavenly Father to help me find a family of 6 tomorrow.  In my prayer, I also asked Heavenly Father to help me find a little boy wearing red tennis shoes, who would be the key to finding this family."    Well, we worked all day the next day, and I searched, and hoped in my heart, that I could find a little boy wearing red tennis shoes.  Finally I found him, talked to his Mom, and she invited us to teach her family…..a family of 6!"

What faith!