Sunday, June 7, 2015

      We have just completed our last week of elderly missionaries in the New Mexico Farmington Mission. It has been harder than I ever imagined it would be. I hate good-byes anyway, and then to have to say it to so many people whom you have come to love just like our own family. Some of them we might never see again. We certainly hope that we will, but who knows what the future holds.
We started out the week with out last District Meeting and a dinner. There are only three couples left now in the Window Rock District. There is a CES couple coming in the middle of June, but the Rogers go home the end of June. So then the District will be down to two couples. Quite a change from the ten couples when we came.
     We tried to visit as many people as we could this week. We had two days of rain, so that prevented us from getting to see some of them. We stopped at the Senior Center to see and visit with them one last time. We have mentioned time and time again how glad we are that we were able to spend time with them, getting to know them, helping them with projects, and developing special friendships.
     We had a good turn-out to our last Family Home Evening. The core group is very interested in keeping it going each week. So they exchanged phone numbers, made some assignments, and we all had a good visit with one another.  Our Wednesdays won't ever be the same.
     In among all our comings and goings, we had to get both vehicles serviced, pack up boxes, meet with President Batt one last time so Owen could give him one of his paintings, pack more boxes, do laundry, clean the trailer, pack & pack some more with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts.
     Saturday when we weren't packing, we went to a reception for a young lady who graduated from high school and is going to be going to college in the fall. Then we went to a birthday party for a little one-year-old whom we have become quite attached to. His birthday isn't until the 13th, but they wanted to have the party early so we could be there.
     We have had several people come by the trailer to say their good-byes and visit with us. I think the word has definitely gotten out that the Olsens are going to be going home.
     Today was our last Sunday as missionaries in the Lupton area. Since it was Fast Sunday, we had a pot luck dinner after the meetings. It was delicious Navajo tacos – so yummy. They had a special cake for us. Some had even brought gifts for us. It was very humbling to be on the receiving end of all that special attention. It was nearly two o'clock by time we got home from Church (the meetings end at 12:00 noon). So it was a very special day for us, and we'll cherish all the memories of our wonderful little Lupton Branch.
     We have loved serving here in the Lupton area. We know that this is the place we were suppose to be. The Lord has guided us every step of the way and led us to people who were prepared to hear the gospel; or to people who needed our help in some way, even if it was nothing more than a visit.

     So tomorrow this chapter of our lives will come to a close, and we will move on to the next chapter and whatever adventures are in store for us.
Our Lupton rug weaver - she does beautiful work.

Everything is so green and pretty - south of Lupton

Our last pot luck dinner with the Branch - a special cake

In order to be stylin' you need to have an apron from
a Blue Bird flour sack.

Corn grinding stones given to us

A special rug made by a special young lady.

Marianya and her mama

Marianya's little brother, Sasuke, with us.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

      Today is the first day of our last full week in the mission field. It does not seem real. These last six months have gone by so fast. It has truly been a great experience.
      We were thrilled to be able to witness another baptism on Saturday. We were able to finish the discussions with her last week, schedule her interview with the Zone Leaders from Gallup, and then plan the baptism program. Owen was privileged to be able to perform the ordinance. He had the Branch President's son in the water to help, though, because of problems with her back and knees. She has commented several times on how happy she is. Today she was confirmed. During the combined meeting, she said that she has been looking for the true church her whole life, and now she has found it. She is 73-years-old. The whole Branch is excited to have her join the “family.” We have been able to see the benefits of having members involved in the missionary work. She came to Family Home Evenings and got to know some of the branch members; then when she came to church, she already had friends she knew and they continued to welcome her and fellowship her. One of the guys in our Home Evening group told us that he would talk to her and encourage her to be baptized every time he saw her. We didn't know he was doing this because their conversations were in Navajo. I am sure he had an influence on her decision to be baptized.
      We had a pot-luck barbecue for Family Home Evening this week. For a while it looked like all we would have to eat would be chips and drinks. They told us not to worry about furnishing anything, because they would take care of it. I decided to fix a dessert and the fixings (lettuce, etc.) for the hamburgers anyway. As luck would have it with a pot luck, only eight hamburger patties showed up and no buns. By time everyone finally showed up, however, we had plenty of food (including hot dogs). We had 30 people come, and I think it was an enjoyable evening for everyone there. I know we enjoyed it.

      We are still making visits and fellow shipping people in our area, giving Temple Prep. lessons to a man, doing service, and helping out wherever we can. We have truly been blessed and seen and felt so many tender mercies. Life is good!
Special baptismal day

An old rock hogan

Rocks that defy gravity

Gravity-defying rocks

Clock gift from our special friends

The Navajos' talents never cease to amaze us.

More gifts from special friends

Another gift - bracelet made using the sand-casting method

Monday, May 25, 2015

      The week started out at a fast pace and only picked up steam as it went on. I think our dam has begun to leak. This has been an emotional week for us. I mentioned in the last post about the Seminary Graduation on Sunday. Monday was our District Meeting. We went to St. Michaels early so that Sis. Rogers and I could do some decorating. It was the Jensens last District Meeting and also Sis. Jensen's birthday. What a fun evening we had. We visited, laughed, shed a few tears, and no one was in a big hurry to go home. The Jensens have been making poster-board-size cards for each of the couples as they go home. I knew I couldn't compete with their talent, so I made up 'Post-Missionary Survival Kits' for each of them. They surprised the Rogers and us and had our cards made up. We had been thinking, since they were going home before us, that we wouldn't get a card. All-in-all, it was great to be together. District Meetings and our association with such wonderful couples is definitely something we will miss.
      Marianya's daddy had his baptismal interview with the Zone leaders and passed. So we planned his baptism for Thursday evening, the 21st. We wanted to do it on Saturday, but with all the graduations going on, it was hard to squeeze it in. Owen had the privilege of baptizing him. The program turned out really nice. I figured that 15 people would be the most we would have attend. To my pleasant surprise, we had 24 people show up. I took care of Marianya during part of the program so that her parents could enjoy the program without worrying about her making too much noise or getting restless.
      The Senior Citizen Center invited us to their Mother's Day/Father's Day dinner. Little did we know it was also a farewell party for us. We had a delicious dinner. Several expressed their thanks to us for the things we have done to help them, and that they wished we didn't have to leave. Then they also gave us several gifts including a Pendleton robe for Owen and a Pendleton shawl for me. They were machine embroidered with “Thank you” (in Navajo) and then our names. More waterworks. The time we have spent at the Center has been one of the highlights of our mission. We have fallen in love with them. One lady thanked us for accepting them, for coming to see them, and sitting down and having lunch with them. That surprised me because I have had the very same feelings towards them – grateful for their acceptance of us and that they would want us to join them for their activities and lunches. I also found out that one of them is a sister to a lady we know who lives in Castle Dale. Small world.
      The leak in our dam got even worse at our Home Evening group. We had twelve people come, two of whom are non-members. We tried to keep to the lesson, but somehow the topic kept reverting back to the Olsens leaving. Talk about mixed emotions.
      We went out to an investigator's home on Friday and finished up the discussions with her. We have asked her before about being baptized, but she always said she wanted to wait a while. That day Owen told her that we would be sure to leave her name for the next missionaries so they could contact her. She got emotional and said she wanted to be baptized while we are here. That took us by surprise. So, we will be having another baptism in the very near future. She has been coming to church on a regular basis since we first met with her; and she won't miss the Family Home Evening group, even if she has to come late because of her work. She is an aunt to the man that was baptized a couple of weeks ago. Quite a special lady.
      We offered to do the chores (feed the sheep and dogs) this weekend for a guy in Oak Springs. He had a very old dog who had gone deaf. About a week ago, the dog was sleeping under the truck, and his wife got in the truck to go to work and ran over the dog. It didn't seem to be hurt really bad, so he thought it would be okay. But as the days went on, it only got worse. So he asked Owen if he would put it to sleep for him when we were there doing chores. That was how the morning of our 45th wedding anniversary began. We did end the day, however, with a nice dinner at Golden Corral in Gallup.

      One of our sons and his family came down and loaded up another pickup load of our stuff to take home. So we should be pretty well set as these last few days of our mission in LA rapidly come to a close.
Marianya's family

Special friends at the Senior Center

Owen modeling his robe

Doll made by Anna

Elder Jensen with E/S Roger's card

E/S Jensen with E/S Olsen's card

E/S Jensen with "Post-Missionary Survival Kits"

Elder Olsen's robe

Sister Olsen's shawl

Sunday, May 17, 2015

     We were fortunate to have my sister and brother-in-law come down this week for a visit. Actually, the real reason they came was to take a load of our 'stuff' back to Cleveland. We had been going through and sorting things, so we had several boxes packed for them. We decided to take time on Tuesday and show them Chaco Canyon. It is a very fascinating place – highly recommended if you are ever in the area and it isn't raining. When we got home from there, we loaded up their little truck with the boxes, plus three more bins, and a bunch of odds and ends. You would think that should be the bulk of our stuff. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of go. The fun thing is going to be trying to find a place for it all when we get home.
     They headed for home on Wednesday morning, and we picked up two ladies and headed for Holbrook to take them to the chiropractor. We enjoyed the ride down and back and the visiting with them. It was our Marys again, and they do make it a fun trip. The one told us that it was her birthday. So we fixed up a special treat and a gift for her when she came to Family Home Evening.
The Branch President called just as we were starting Home Evening and invited us to his place to help celebrate his son's 20th birthday.  Definitely a night for treats and special birthdays.
     We got to spend some time with our little Marianya this week. She is walking now.  At Family Home Evening she walked back and forth across the kitchen many, many times. Then another day, it was across the front room, from couch to couch over and over again. It is fun to watch her. We have finished up the missionary discussions with her daddy, so we will see what happens now.
     We have had our share of typical spring weather. It will be really warm and nice one day; then another day, there will be a hard wind blowing and several rainstorms throughout the day. Saturday, we woke up to a snowstorm. Course, when it started to warm up, it turned to rain. The District had planned a trip to the Toadlena/Two Gray Hills Rug Museum and Trading Post. The trader there shared his story of how he came to be at the Trading Post and other very interesting information about the area and the master weavers. One of the master weavers was demonstrating carding and weaving, It is neat to watch and see how they make their patterns in the rugs. That is something I don't think I could ever get the hang of; and yet, they make it look easy. Afterward, they fed us a delicious Navajo taco lunch.
     We bought a rug the first time we visited, and the lady that wove it was working this time when we were there. So she found a rug that was similar to ours, and we had our picture taken with her. It was a cold, rainy day; but we didn't notice it because we were in the Trading Post. It was also a very enjoyable day. That was our last excursion with the Jensens because they are now short-timers.
     Today we attended Seminary Graduation for the Gallup Stake. They had a very nice program, recognized the eight seniors that received their four-year diplomas, and the 44 other students that completed the course of study for the year. I have enjoyed being able to do Seminary this year and learned a lot about the Doctrine & Covenants. It has taken a lot of time to prepare the lessons; but it has been worth it.
     When we weren't on the road, we were busy making visits and helping out the people in our area.

With all our goings and comings, you wonder when do we do missionary work? It is all part of missionary work for a senior couple. Their tasks are many and varied. Even within our District, each couple's missionary experiences will be different from another. We just take each day as it comes, and try to get as much done as possible before we call it day; and then we start all over the next day. Such is life in LA.