Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our 2nd Christmas in the mission field is now history. We had a pretty full week. We started out on Monday morning with a District Meeting and luncheon. It is always fun to get together with the other couples. We have become close with one another because of the many things we share and the times we are able to be together.

We had to leave the District Meeting a little early because we had a dinner appointment in Houck at our Branch President's home. They were having their family Christmas dinner early because his wife had to work during Christmas.

We made several Christmas goodies and took them around to some of the families in our Branch on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was surprised that we were able to catch all of them at home, so we also got to visit with them.

We spent two days looking for our camera. I knew we had it when we were at the District Meeting, but couldn't remember having it since then. We searched and searched and no camera turned up. Most of the pictures on it I had already downloaded to the computer, so I didn't feel too bad about losing pictures. I just didn't want to have to buy another camera right now. Owen called some of the senior couples to see if it had been put in the wrong box. Our District Leader sent an email out to everyone on Christmas morning to tell them to keep an eye open for the Olsen's camera. Shortly after the email went out, we got a phone call from the Branch President. He wanted to know if we were missing anything. Owen told him we couldn't find our camera. He laughed and said that we had given him a camera for Christmas. We had put their gifts in a grocery bag when we went there on Monday and just put the whole bag under their little tree. Neither one of us can remember putting the camera in that bag. Oh well, at least the mystery of the missing camera was solved and we have our camera back.

We ended up having a white Christmas after all. It snowed about four inches on Christmas Day.

We had a dinner appointment on Christmas in Sanders. I wasn't too excited about driving in the snow, but we made it and were glad that we went.

We also went to a birthday party for a little one-year-old this week. She is such a cutie. You don't realize how fast the time has gone by until you realize that she wasn't even born when we first got here last year.

Of the two couples that live the closest to us, there are four of us who have December birthdays. So we got together for a birthday party last night, had dinner, visited, and played games.

It didn't look like we would have very many to church today. When we started the meeting, there were only 16 people there. But within twenty minutes, our numbers had increased to 38. Now if we can just get to the point where we start with 38 and then double that number in 20 minutes. That would be so great.

Tender moments sometimes come at the most unexpected times. Owen was sitting in the combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting, when he heard a baby crying out in the hall. He knew that the baby belonged to the little family he usually picks up for church, so he went out to check with them and see if everything was okay. He no sooner got out there, then the Primary President came hurrying out of the Primary room and went outside. When he checked on her, she was having a severe asthma attack. The inhaler she had wasn't helping, so he came over to the trailer and got an emergency inhaler and took over to her which helped to lessen her attack significantly. Had he not been prompted to go check on the baby, he wouldn't have known she was having trouble and been able to help her.

This week will bring new adventures, new acquaintances, and a brand new year. Wishing you all the best in the coming year – make it a good one.
A white Christmas in Lupton, AZ

Monday, December 22, 2014

I thought things got a little crazy and stressful at home around Christmas time, but for some reason I thought it would be less stressful out here in the mission field. I guess that is what I get for thinking.

We were busy last week. We had our Senior Missionary Christmas party in Chinle on Tuesday. We were each to bring a $5 gift. All the gifts were put on a long table with the men's on one end and women's on the other end. When it came time to play a game, everyone (around 60 of us) put their chairs in a big circle. Then everyone chose a gift. They played that game where every time the word 'right' or 'left' is used in the story, that is the direction you pass the gift you chose. When it came time for the game to end, much to our surprise, Owen and I both had our own gifts. What are the odds that you would end up with your own package. They weren't wrapped alike, placed on opposite ends of a long table, the two people did not choose their gifts at the same time, the people were sitting on chairs the exact number of people and 'left' or 'rights' away from us in order to end up with us. It is a good thing we had chosen for our gifts something we liked.

We had a nice snow storm on Wednesday. The area needs the moisture so bad, but it sure plays havoc on the roads. We went out to make a visit, thinking with 4-wheel drive we would be okay. Not so! That clay mud grabs hold of you, and you literally have no control over the vehicle. We were slipping and sliding all over the road. We still had about a mile to go; so needless to say, that visit got canceled.

Another time we were driving down a road in the dark. The tracks in the middle of the road were packed down and passable. We had to slide over to the edge of the road to let a car coming toward us pass. Again that good old mud grabbed the truck and we were being pulled further off into the gob. Owen was finally able to get control of the truck and pulled back up onto the road. Within a matter of seconds, we passed a huge deep ravine off the side of the road that has been eroded away. We didn't realize how close we were to it when we pulled over to let the car pass. So grateful that we didn't end up in the bottom of the ravine. Another tender mercy of the Lord.

The Chapter House had their community party on Friday night. It was fun to go and mingle with all of the people. They sure know how to feed you well.

Sunday the Branch had their Christmas dinner and passed out goodie bags for everyone and presents for the kids. They were pretty excited to get a present. It was interesting to watch the kids' different reactions. Some immediately opened their present, while others tucked it away to be opened on Christmas Day. We had over 50 people (no visitors) to Sacrament Meeting, and they stayed for both meetings and the dinner. That is the most we have had to our meetings since we came. There were some of our regular attenders that weren't there either. Looked so good to see the chapel nearly full.

Between preparing a talk for Sacrament Meeting, a Primary lesson, and a Seminary lesson I did a lot of studying and reading during the week. My brain has a hard time doing three major things in one day. But I survived.

Owen has been working with a young man. He is a member, but less active. He showed him how to make arrowheads and work with clay. He has now started making small bowls and Navajo nativities. So Owen took him and introduced him to our friend at The Nugget store. He was interested in buying all the nativities he could make. They are unique and very nice. This will give him a way to help supplement his income.

Our adventures in the Lupton community continue to be many and varied. Everyday we thank Heavenly Father for allowing us to serve in this part of His vineyard among some very special people-the Lamanites.

Window Rock District - Olsens, Claytons, Pres. & Sis. Batt, Rogers, Englands & Jet, Jones, Jensens

Gifts for the children of the Branch

Navajo Nativity bought at a trading post

Navajo Nativity made by our friend

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The weeks are flying by. Last week we celebrated our one-year anniversary of entering the MTC in Provo. On the 16th of this week, it will be our first-year anniversary for being residents of Lupton, AZ. We have met some very special people during that time. We have had challenges that we didn't know if we would be able to handle or not. We have had some very special times that have brought much joy into our lives and strengthened our testimonies. We have seen so many tender mercies of the Lord and little miracles that we have no doubt He is watching over us, guiding our footsteps, and helping us as we serve His mission.

We were thrilled this week to be able to set a baptismal date (Jan. 10th) for an investigator. We have a few items we need to finish up teaching him, but we can see him learning and growing in the Gospel each time we meet. He told us there was another senior couple here a few years ago that came by and tried to teach him. He said that he is embarrassed to admit it, but he was very antagonistic towards them. The Lord has softened his heart, and he is just like a sponge trying to absorb everything he can about the Gospel. He has been to church the last three Sundays. We didn't think he was coming today, but he showed up shortly after the meeting started. Our speakers today were a councilor in the Stake Presidency and his wife. They chose to share with us how they received their testimonies and how one can believe something to be true; but until they know it with their heart they are not truly converted. They talked about other things, too; all of which were exactly what the investigator needed to hear, and things we have also been discussing with him. I talked to the sister after the meeting and expressed how much I had enjoyed their talks and how they had been so good for the investigator. She told me that another couple had been assigned to speak in our Branch, but they had called them on Friday and asked if they would fill in for them because they wouldn't be able to make it on Sunday. Does the Lord have a hand in the details of our lives or was it all just by chance? For us, it was definitely another of the Lord's tender mercies.

We had another visit from one of our sons, his wife, and children. They are in-between their move from Oklahoma to California. They were able to stay for a couple of days. It was so good to see them and to spend some time with them. We showed them some of the sights around the area. We went to the Petrified Forest, but it started raining before we got there and even snowed on us on the way home. We didn't get to spend a lot of time checking out the different sites, but it was still a good day and just good to be together.

We never seem to lack for things to do. Sometimes we have a hard time trying to decide what to do when and squeezing everything in. But, somehow it all works out.

The excitement is starting to build for the upcoming Christmas. It will be our second Christmas in the mission field. What a wonderful time of year, and how blessed we are to be able to celebrate another Christmas among the Lamanite people.
Olsens at Window Rock Park

At the Petrified Forest

At the Visitors' Center at the Petrified Forest

Monday, December 8, 2014

Things are continuing to go well here in the LA area. Last week we had our son, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren stay with us on Sunday night. They left on Monday morning to drive on to their home in Oklahoma. I told them that we have enjoyed their weekly visits, and it would sure be nice if the visits could continue.

On Friday evening, one of my sisters and her husband came to our place. They stayed until after Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. Saturday morning we got up early and was at the Red Rock Park by Gallup by 7:00 a.m. to watch the hot air balloon festival. It was neat to be able to watch them prepare the balloons, inflate them, hook up the basket, and then lift off into the sky. They said that they had 90 balloonists register for the event, but only about 80 showed up to launch. This was our first experience seeing a hot air balloon festival like this. I thought it was pretty fascinating to see the process of how they launch a balloon and then to see so many balloons in the air at the same time.

We also had rain for a full day and a half. Lots and lots of rain that really play havoc on all the dirt roads. There wasn't a whole lot we could do in the rain or until the roads began to dry out. Our Branch President has even told us we are not to get on the roads when they are bad. So we took advantage of being shut in and worked on getting the Christmas presents ready for our kids and grand kids. It is nice to know that we at least have that much done towards Christmas. Now, hopefully, we won't forget to mail them.

Missionary work is still progressing, even though it was a little slow this week. We were able to spend time with some of the members, give a couple of lessons, have Family Home Evening, and prepare our lessons for Sunday. It is interesting to see how each week develops and how different it can be from the previous one. But, we continue to love it, love the people, and the time we are able to spend with them.
Red Rock Balloon Rally - getting the basket ready

rolling out the balloons

hooking the balloon to the basket

beginning to blow up the balloon

it's getting bigger

We have a lift-off.

A few of the balloons heading toward the red rocks

A large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of balloons

I think this is how I would feel if I went for a ride.

The variety added to the fun.

Many, many more balloons
Aliece and Fred enjoying the spectacular sight.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Another interesting week for the missionaries in Lupton, Arizona. We weren't able to do a lot of visiting because of the holiday, people not home, or busy with other things. Our investigators are out-of-town, so we weren't able to give them lessons. We did have several visits with Branch members and tried to nourish them and give them a gospel message.

We had a special Family Home Evening on Wednesday. We had ten people come, filled our front room full. Owen gave the lesson on the history of Thanksgiving, and then we had a wonderful visit with them.

Our Thanksgiving was really nice. We were invited to a member's place. He is such a good cook. His great uncle, dad, sister, and a nephew were there, plus a couple of other members from the Branch. Not everyone can say that they had Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims and Indians. I was in charge of desserts. So I fixed several pies. I thought I better take two cartons of Cool Whip in order to have enough. When it was time to go, Owen grabbed the cartons out of the fridge. I noticed that only one was being used and then put in the fridge until someone else wanted Cool Whip. When we were getting ready to go, I asked if the other Cool Whip bowl (still sitting on the table where I had put it) was empty. Our host politely informed me that it was not empty, and that it did contained left-overs or something rather than Cool Whip. Ooops! Sure enough it was left-overs (soon to be dog food), and thank goodness two cartons of Cool Whip had not been needed. Now you know I am a red-neck because I re-use the Cool Whip bowls to store things in.

We were on the road to Gallup eight times last week. Between getting the truck serviced, taking a family in so they could get some medicine for their baby, another person to the hospital to be with his young son, hauling wood, decorating the Seminary building for our District Meeting, picking up supplies to put skirting around an RV trailer, grocery shopping, etc., we can almost put the vehicle on automatic pilot. You would think we would be smart and combine the trips, but most of them weren't planned until the morning of, when we would get a text or a phone call.

One of our sons and his family were on their way from Utah to Oklahoma and stopped by and stayed with us Sunday night. Even though it was a short visit, we loved being able to visit with them, and especially the hugs. I guess I can use that as my excuse for not getting the blog written yesterday.

In LA the mission is going great, the people are great, the weather is great, and the scenery is great!
Anybody need a ride?

Petrified wood area about eight miles from here

Petrified log partially uncovered

My excuse for not doing the blog yesterday.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First of all I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you are able to enjoy the special day with family and friends. Take time out of the busy week to reflect on the many things the Lord has blessed you with and continues to bless you with on a daily basis.

Six of the senior couples in our District got together last Monday and had a Thanksgiving dinner. It was a very enjoyable time with lots of delicious food, fancy decorations, and a special time with dear friends. To finish the evening we watched the movie, “The Ultimate Gift”. I highly recommend the movie if you haven't seen it already.

Thursday was our second Thanksgiving dinner. The Senior Citizen Center had invited us to come for their Thanksgiving dinner. It was an equally delicious meal with more dear friends. They had a really big turnout that day. I know there were over 60 people in attendance. The officers of the Center wanted to honor those that have helped them (the bus drivers, the cook, custodian, etc.). Little did we know we were to be honored also. We kind of hurried through our dinner because they ran out of chairs and needed places for the late-comers to sit. As we were getting ready to leave, (not because we wanted to, but because we had an appointment) they asked us to stay for a minute. A couple of the ladies got up and talked to the group in Navajo. I could tell, however, they were talking about us. Then one handed us a big present. When we unwrapped it, we were dumbfounded. Inside was a beautiful, king-size, star quilt. The ladies at the Center had all worked together on it and made it for us. What a special gift – one we will cherish forever.

Today was another Thanksgiving dinner. This one was with our Branch. We need to have a Thanksgiving dinner more often. We had over 50 people to Church, that is the most we have had in attendance during our sojourn here. There were eight or more people that showed up after the meeting to join us for the meal. It was amazing to see the amount of food – two long tables crammed full of a wide variety of food, even fry bread. When our Branch has a dinner, we have to clear out all the chairs in the chapel, set up the round tables, and also the serving tables. We don't have the luxury of a cultural hall in our building. So the chapel has to serve duel purposes, but they make it work. It was very heart-warming to see all the people visiting and enjoying each others company. I know that the Branch President was thrilled and told me how awesome he thought it was.

I even had ten children in Primary today. Only three girls and the rest boys. Only two of the boys have been baptized. Hopefully, we will be able to work with the other boys, and they will want to continue coming to Church.

I had made little turkey candy bags as favors for the people at the Center and also for our Branch. They turned out kind of cute.

We have one more Thanksgiving dinner to go before we are through. We have been invited to a member's home on Thanksgiving to spend the day with him and his family. By then I will have almost made a whole Thanksgiving dinner because I did smashed potatoes and gravy on Monday; turkey, dressing, and gravy for another one; and pies for the next one. The best thing is that I have had several days to do it in and not have the stress of trying to get it all done in a day or so. We certainly have an abundance of things to be thankful for.

We are teaching a man the Preach My Gospel lessons. Owen said that in Priesthood meeting today he had pertinent comments to go along with the lesson. He told the others there that he wasn't a member, but was looking forward to being baptized and that he wants his son to be baptized, also. That is exciting. He told Owen that since he has let Jesus into his life, people have commented that they have noticed a change in him and want to know what the difference is. That is a good thing in more ways than one. We will continue to work with him, do our part and see what happens.

We love the work. We love the people. We love this beautiful area where we are serving. We love the Lord and know that He is helping us on a daily basis.
District Thanksgiving dinner (Elder & Sister England)

A part-Navajo little one bundled up in her cradle board

Senior Center - a full house for Thanksgiving dinner

The turkey candy favors

The quilt that the Senior Center made for us.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Last week turned out to be a very special week. We were able to have some new special experiences. It was a different week than ones we usually have. Course, none of our weeks are ever the same. We make our plans knowing that other things will come up, so being flexible is also part of the plans.

I had an appointment to get my hair cut Monday morning in Gallup. We checked on the truck, and it wasn't ready yet. They said it would probably be done by the afternoon. So later in the day when we went to St. Michael's to visit a sister for her 86th birthday, we decided to just drive the loop and go to Gallup from Window Rock. Yeah, the truck was done.

Tuesday was Veterans Day. Veterans are highly respected on the Reservation. The schools have the day off and all the little communities plan a celebration. Lupton started their day with a parade. It was a cold, windy day to be having a parade, but that didn't deter them. Owen had been invited to join them because they all know he is also a veteran. So we bought a few decorations (flags) for the truck. The parade was suppose to start at 10:00 a.m.; but since Owen likes to be early we were there ready to line up a little after 9:00 a.m. There was only one other truck there and they were in the process of decorating it. I didn't think their parade was going to amount to much. By the time 10 o'clock rolled around, there were a few more vehicles; but, no one seemed in a big hurry to get the parade started. It finally got underway after 11 o'clock. There were two fire trucks, 14 motorcyclists, about 20 decorated vehicles, a float or two, and people lined up along the sides of the road to watch. After the parade, everyone went to the Chapter House where they honored veterans, had several veterans talk, and served a roast beef dinner. There was not even standing room at the Chapter House. Then our two Navajo granddaughters came home with us. They weren't interested in making cookies, but we did play several games.

They finally moved the elders' RV in Tsaile from the trailer park to the yard of the new church. So then we took a day and went to Tsaile to help get the skirting back on and everything set up. Since that project had been planned before we knew we wouldn't be over RVs anymore, we told them that we would help with it. That is probably our last RV duty, unless some other major thing comes up.

A senior couple in our district asked us to go with them to the Snowflake Temple. She is blind and needed someone to help her through the session. We were happy to be able to be able to go along with them. It was a special day, and we really enjoyed the time we spent together and the opportunity of going to the temple. Afterward we went to a quaint restaurant in town. As we walked into the restaurant, we heard someone say, “Oh no, it's the Mormons.” When you hear that, do you keep walking or turn around and leave? We didn't leave, especially when we saw where the comment came from – a pair of young elders sitting there eating their lunch. Crazy guys!

Saturday we had the opportunity of going to the Albuquerque Temple. The Branch President had asked if we would help with transportation for the youth to go do baptisms. We had two twelve-year-old girls going for their very first time and a nineteen-year-old young man with us, and the YW President took her two daughters. One of the young girls is a recent convert. It was so neat to be able to see her in the temple participating in baptisms. We are so proud of her and how much she has grown in the Gospel since we first met her. What a choice experience for her and all of the youth to have. We had a lot of fun visiting and playing a “What If” game during the ride over and back.

We did manage to squeeze in some missionary work, made several visits, and hauled some wood for a family in amongst our goings and comings of the week.

Just a little follow-up on the story I shared last week of a senior elder who had been able to visit with a sister and her family he knew 51 years ago when he was a young elder in this area. The family had asked where his companion, at the time they served in the area, is now. The Elder didn't know. But when he went home, he did some research and was able to find him. He contacted him, and they decided to get together. So he flew in from Montana. Today they both went and visited with the sister and her family. The companion is planning on staying for a few days, so they are going to be able to visit more with the family. So within the last two weeks, not only did he find the special family that he knew when he was here as a young elder, but has also been able to reconnect with his old missionary companion. What an exciting and special experience for all of them.

The Lord continues to bless us, and the adventures in the Lupton area just keep coming.
One of the Veterans Day parade entries

At the Snowflake, AZ Temple

With the youth at the Albuquerque Temple

Sunday, November 9, 2014

This week was spent visiting several families, teaching from Preach My Gospel and follow-up lessons for recent converts, studying and preparing for upcoming lessons, taking a member to Crown Point for an appointment, as well as making several trips to Gallup. The emission light on our truck came on, so we took it in to have it checked on Monday morning. We picked it up on Wednesday, only to take it back on Thursday. Hopefully, we will be able to get it back tomorrow and it will be fixed this time. There are a number of roads that we don't want to take the car on, so without the truck we are kind of limited as to where we can go.

At our District Meeting last Monday one of the Senior Couples shared a neat experience he had had. He served as a young missionary here some 51 years ago. He said that while he was in the Tohlakai area, there was a dear sister which was like a mom to all the missionaries. When talking with the current senior couple in Tohlakai, he found out that the postmistress had the same last name as the sister from years earlier. So they went to the post office there. He said that the minute he saw her, he recognized her as the woman's ten-year-old daughter he had known, only 50 years older. She told Elder Jensen that her mother was still alive (105 years old). Later he was able to go to the hogan and visit with her and some of her family. The son that was 12 when Elder Jensen first served remembered him and even his companion. He was so excited to think he had been able to meet the family again, especially the mother, after so many years.

The Navajo Nation had their elections on Tuesday. The Presidential race has turned out to be quite a fiasco. It started out as one of the candidates being challenged as to not being fluent in the Navajo language. Then, of course, other things for both of the candidates and running mates surfaced. Finally they said that the non-fluent guy could not run and the third place finisher in the Primaries would take his place. This was like on the Friday before the election. Course, by then it is too late to change the ballots and all. So they went ahead with the election for all the other offices, but postponed the election of the President until a later date. So even though their names were still on the ballot, the votes for them were not counted. Course, this doesn't affect us, but it will these special people. We are glad we are not the ones that need to figure all this out.

We had a District activity on Saturday. We were able to go to a friend's ranch for a visit. He has some fabulous artifacts, artwork, bronze statues, old-time wagons and farm machinery. It was neat to visit with him and see his collection. After the visit to the ranch, five of the six couples went out to dinner. That was the perfect way to end a nice afternoon.

Today we had a dinner invitation with a dear friend and some of her family. They said they wanted to thank us for all we have done for their family and the community. They even had a couple of gifts for us. We were not expecting anything like that. That was so very nice of them.

We look forward to another week full of new adventures and a continuation of old adventures. Life is great in LA.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

There has been a major change in our mission assignment. Owen is no longer in charge of the mission RVs, only as a consultant. The mission housing coordinator, Elder James, had a six-month calling. He lives in Farmington and has a son who is still in school. He has been a great help to Owen for supplies, resources, and even taking care of the RVs in Monument Valley and White Mesa. So Owen hated to see him leave. Elder James loved the time he spent serving and still wanted to serve. The President had a couple that he assigned to take over as the housing coordinators. So Owen and Elder James put their heads together and came up with a proposal to present to the President. They proposed that Elder James be the one in charge of the RVs with Owen being available when he needed him. That would free us up to concentrate more on Member/Leader Support and then Elder James would still be able to serve, but it wouldn't be quite so time consuming, and he would be able to have more time to be with his family. The President approved their plan. That should cut down on our mileage somewhat. The good thing about the RV assignment was that we got to see parts of the Mission that we would never have been able to, plus meet some of the Elders and visit with some of the Senior Couples.

We went out towards the South Mesa to visit some people and do a few errands. On the way back from a member's home, we noticed a lady standing by the side of the road. We pulled over and stopped by her. She said, “How did you know I wanted you to stop?” Come to find out she is the person we have been trying to find for about the last thee months. We first got her name and phone number from the Senior Couple in Sawmill. But, when I would call, it wasn't a working number. So I was able to get a different number, but still couldn't get a hold of her, and then it also went to a

non-working number. Anyway we were pleasantly surprised to find out who she was and to finally meet her. We had a nice visit with her. She is now staying with her daughter in that area. We had met her daughter several months ago, but never realized the connection. She has an eight-year-old grandson that she wants us to teach. We ended up taking her to Gallup the next day to pick up a load of wood for their home. While we were unloading the wood, Owen noticed that the wood around their metal chimney pipe was charred and was a definite fire hazard. He was really concerned that a fire would burn their home down in the near future. So now we have also been able to fix the chimney for them and quite possibly save their home from burning. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

We had another very special experience today. Several months ago we had a man start attending our Branch. He lives in St. Michael's (which is even a different stake) but he had decided to come here because it feels more like home to him. He is a very special man with a strong testimony. We got permission from his Bishop to start the Temple Preparation classes for him. Today he was sustained and ordained an Elder. We went to the Chinle Stake Conference to be with him. The majority of the Stake Conference was broadcast from Salt Lake for Arizona. We got to hear from Elder Christofferson and Pres. Uchtdorf. Now we will finish up the Temple lessons and set a date for him to go to the Temple. He says he hurt his back when he did, so he had to stay home, was able to meet us, have the Temple lessons, and become an Elder. He is hoping to get his doctor's release in December so he can go back to work (probably back to Texas). One of those special blessings that can come as a result of faithfully enduring trials.

Things continue to go good for us here in Lupton. We are finding more and more opportunities to serve and enjoying the association we have with these wonderful people.

Getting into the Halloween Spirit at the Senior Center

Owen replacing the chimney - notice the black on the wood around the pipe

Hopefully he has prevented the home from burning down

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It seems like I just did the blog yesterday, and here I am doing another one. The days seem to fly by. We got a phone call from our Zone Leader (who also happens to be in our District) on Monday evening. He wanted to know if we would help take some of their members to the Phoenix Temple Open House in the morning. One of their drivers had an emergency come up and wasn't going to be able to go. So we had the opportunity of going to the temple open house. It ended up being a 14 hour day for us, but it was a very special day also. The temple is a smaller one, but very beautiful. They have used the aloe blossom as a theme throughout, even hand carved the blossoms in the white carpet in the celestial room.

Another day we went and worked on a member's deck or porch. We are replacing the 2x4s in the flooring. It has turned out to be a bigger job than we thought. This time her nephew and his partner were there visiting, so they helped us and we made really good progress. She has to wait until she gets paid next month to buy the other ten boards that are needed to finish the job.

Owen got to go hiking with a less-active member this week. They hiked on his property up to some alcoves that had a lot of Indian writings there. I think Owen would be in heaven if he had a little house out in that area, then he could go hiking in those hills as often as he wanted. There is a lot to see that most people don't even know exists. Owen even gave him some tips on tracking deer, and how you can tell the difference if the track belongs to a buck or doe.

We also had the opportunity to meet with a new investigator this week. He is the friend of the sumo-wrestler I mentioned in a previous letter. We went to his home and spent quite a while getting to know him, answering his questions, sharing the Joseph Smith story, and had a good discussion about prayer. He doesn't have any bad habits and feels like he is at a turning point in his life. We do have a return appointment, so we are praying that things will work out.

Gallup Stake had their Family History Fair on Saturday. I had signed us both up to go. An opportunity to do a service project came up, so we decided to divide and conquer. The director at the Senior Center had mentioned to Owen that the well, that a lot of people depend on for their drinking water, had become flooded in one of the recent storms. So now they were getting red water out of it.

Owen brought it up in Branch Council, and they decided it would be a good opportunity to do some service. So Owen, our Branch Presidency, and two younger guys all met Saturday morning and went out on the South Mesa to clean the well. The Branch President brought a gas-powered pump that took a lot of the curse out of the task. In about two hours they had it all cleaned out and running clear water again. It is amazing to me that here we are out in the middle of the desert and there is a spring that puts out enough water to supply the needs of a lot of people.

After I got back from Gallup, I went and picked up the two girls. I thought it would be fun to make sugar cookies with them. Somehow my brain must not have been working, because we chose a recipe that made LOTS of cookies (between eight and nine dozen). Sugar cookies are time consuming anyway, and then when you are dealing with that many. I think we spent nearly three hours on that cookie project. We did stop long enough for a quick bite of dinner, but then went right back to decorating the cookies. The girls were able to take a lot home with them; in fact we had enough so that the younger one could take some to her boarding school for their Halloween party. When we were about finished, one of them mentioned that we hadn't even played any games. I guess they weren't as tired as I was – Oh, to be young again.

So this week some of our adventures were bus drivers, explorer, typist, carpenters, taxi drivers, bakers and decorators, water-treatment plant manager, teachers, and Missionaries – just to name a few.
Phoenix, AZ Temple Open House

Indian Writing

Indian writings

Indian writings

Indian writings & Spanish crosses

Indian writings & Spanish crosses

More Indian writings (nearly weathered away)

Well project

Anyone want a cookie?!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Greetings from LA. We have had another busy week. It seems like we just finish up one Sunday, turn around, and it is already Sunday again.

This week our District decided to visit Chaco Canyon (Chaco Culture National Historical Park). That is an amazing place. If you are making up a 'bucket list', consider adding it to your list. It is out in the middle of nowhere, and can only be accessed by dirt roads (which can sometimes be impassable). This canyon served as a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture. The brochure says that it is remarkable for its monumental buildings, distinctive architecture, astronomy, artistic achievements, and served as a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the Four Corners Area – unlike anything before or since. They have dated it back to 850 -1150 AD. Once you are in the Park, the road is paved. You drive around a one-way loop and can visit about six different sites (great houses). Some of them were three to four stories high. There are several more sites that you can hike to, if you are up to it. We thought it would only take a couple of hours to visit the sites, so we didn't plan a lunch or anything. There was much more to see there than we ever thought possible, and we didn't get to see it all. It is quite the complex of ancient ruins. For preservation reasons, not all of the sites have been excavated. It turned out to be quite a long day, but one we thoroughly enjoyed.

While we were having a late lunch/early dinner in Crown Point after visiting Chaco Canyon, the senior couple from Zuni shared an experience they had had the previous Saturday. They had gone out and were helping some of the members gather wood. They were just about through, and one of the guys decided they needed to take down one more tree to top off the load in a couple of pick-ups. The elder decided to video the tree falling, so he moved over to a 'safe' area by a place where trees had previously been removed. Suddenly he heard someone yell his name and told him to run because the tree was coming his way. He couldn't run, so he just jumped behind the pile of stuff he had been sitting on. He breathed a of relief when the tree didn't come down at that time. The next day in Fast and Testimony Meeting, the man who had been taking the tree down shared his story of the experience. He said that he had done everything right and taken precautions to make sure the tree would fall a certain direction. Suddenly he heard the tree start to crack and realized that it was going to fall on the elder. He said he put his hand on the tree and prayed, “Lord, don't let this tree fall and kill one of your missionaries.” As soon as he finished the short prayer, the cracking stopped, and the tree never came down. He was then able to make the necessary corrections to get the tree to fall where he wanted it. Missionaries are truly protected and blessed.

We have had a new member and his non-member friend coming to our Branch. We were all a little surprised when the member introduced himself as a world champion sumo-wrestler, has ran in three marathons, and is currently training to swim the English Channel. His family still lives in Idaho; so between visiting them and doing his sumo-wrestling he isn't sure how often he will be church. His non-member friend has already read the Book of Mormon. So we will see what happens there.

Another good thing for our Branch is that we now have a Primary president. Hooray! The Branch President did ask me to keep going to Primary and help to train her. She should do a good job, and it will be good to work with her.

An interesting fact about the New Mexico Farmington Mission. This mission takes in part of four states (Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado) and seven nations (Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Laguna, Acoma, Southern Ute, and Ute Mountain).

We continue to work with, teach, and nourish these special people. We have made some very dear friends who will always be in our hearts. The two young girls whom we taught and were able to see baptized have told us that they want to come home with us when we leave. They usually come over on Saturdays, and we make cookies, play games, etc.

We love the work. It has really made us stretch at times, but we know that the Lord is with us and strengthening us as we serve Him.
An interesting fossil our friend has.  Anyone recognize what
it might be?

The tarantulas are migrating.  Anyone want
one for a pet?

From this view you can see the huge pile of rock that fell from the
mountain and covered up some of the ruins

That is another ruin in the distance to the left.



Some places of the ruins are still occupied.