Sunday, August 31, 2014

This past week was a very important week for the Navajo Nation. It was the week of their primary elections. There were only 17 people vying for the office of president and a chance to be on the ballot for the final elections. One of them was from our Branch. He is a very nice guy, so we were hoping he would make it through the primaries. Even though he made a good showing, he didn't make it as one of the two finalists. A sister in our Branch was running for a council member, but she didn't make the finals either.

All day long on election day there were a lot of people at the Chapter House. There were several shade tents set up with people getting in last minute campaigning for the different candidates. I guess they figured a person would vote for the last name they had seen before going into the voting booth, especially if they were giving out freebies.

We have finished the discussions with the girls we have been teaching. Now we are just doing a lot of reviewing and making sure they understand the concepts of the Gospel. We aren't just sure whether they will be able to proceed and be baptized or not. Hopefully, we will know for sure this week.

We have also started teaching their uncle. After several tries and not being able to find him home or have some other thing come up, we were finally able to give him the 1st discussion. He is a good guy with a wife (who is already a member) and a two-month-old baby. He has been coming to church nearly every week for the last while.

We have learned we need to be ever on guard. We need to be aware of the adversary's activities, secret or otherwise, and never feel secure against his treacherous ways. We need to consider ways in which to outwit or defeat him. This week we learned that we must never let our guard down. We must be constantly alert for Lucifer is cunning and very deceitful. Our encounter this week with one of his servants left both of us shaken, and we determined that the work we are involved in is hurting him. Therefore, we must move forward with greater energy and persistence to strengthen our testimonies and the testimonies of those whom we work with.

The RVs took a lot of our time this week. We made a trip every day, except Saturday, to do something on an RV. We ended up with two trips to Sawmill, two trips to Tohlakai, and a trip to Polacca. The elders in Polacca asked if we could be there by 8:00 a.m. because of other things they had going. So we left early (before 6:00 a.m.) and made it there a little before 8:00 a.m. (our time). When Owen talked to the elders, they said it was only 7:00 a.m. Another time change mix up. They are on the Hopi Reservation, so they follow Arizona and don't do the time changes. Oh well, if we had known we could have got another hour sleep.

This week is shaping up to be another busy week, full of new adventures, and more traveling. It is also the week of the Navajo Nation Fair. We were in Window Rock on Wednesday (the 27th ) and saw lots of yellow and pink tape marking off people's places for the parade, which isn't until the sixth. On Saturday we even saw tents where people are already camping out in order to save their spots. We have heard from the locals that fair week is really a big deal. Unfortunately, we will miss the parade; not because we didn't previously save us a spot ten days in advance, or get there by 2:00 a.m. in order to have a place, but because we are going to be at the Mission Conference in Farmington with one of the apostles.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I have a magnet on the fridge that reads, “Each day is an entirely new adventure. . . Enjoy it.” That is so true for us in this mission. No two days are the same. We think we have our day pretty well planned out, and then things change in just a matter of minutes.

We had an appointment on Tuesday to meet with a sister. So while Owen was waiting for time to go, he went out to knap an arrowhead. His hand slipped, and he cut it on the obsidian rock he was working on. So instead of going visiting, we went to the hospital to have three stitches put in his right hand. Course, we had to wait for the cake, that I had just put in the oven, to finish baking before we could leave.

We were able to meet twice this week with the young girls we are teaching. They are really starting to progress and are learning more all the time. They had hardly any church background before we started the lessons. So we have had to go slow and adapt the lessons to their ages. We have seen a lot of growth in them the last few weeks, however. Today when I went out to pick them up for Church, there were five other family members in that area that came with us.

We had some good appointments this week. One couple that we had met earlier in July even said they wanted to come to Church on Sunday. They didn't make it this week, but said they would next week for sure.

Another sister we visited was all excited to tell us about her friend and his interest in the Church. I guess they had spent quite a bit of time together with her trying to answer some of his questions about the Church. She will follow up with him and see if he would be interested in the missionaries coming by.

Then there are always the ones who aren't home when we go by to visit, or for an appointment.

Out here the weather can even effect whether you get to make a visit or not. We have one couple that we have been trying to visit for a couple of weeks; but with all the rain, the distance they live off the main road on a dirt road, and clay soil has been a hindrance. We have been warned to not go off the main roads when it is storming. There have been even some of the main dirt roads that have been washed out when we get hard rains.

We ended up traveling two days and were able to get to three different RVs this week. They are trying to prevent any possibility of CO poisoning occurring this winter, so they are switching the RVs over from propane to electric heaters. We took the new heaters to the three closest RVs and will soon be visiting the others, also.

They finally lifted the ban on our water on Thursday morning. It is good to be able to use the water from the tap once again.

I added a new talent to my resume today. I was the organist for Sacrament Meeting. Not bad for someone who can't even play; but I do know how to push buttons. So my assignments for today were organist and Primary (presidency, music person, and teacher). Then I have to switch gears real fast so I can teach the lesson for Home Study Seminary. I have to spend a lot of time during the week in order to put all the lessons together, including Preach My Gospel, and FHE. We aren't teaching Temple Prep. lessons right now, but will be doing so again in the near future. Such is the life of a missionary. We are discovering all sorts of hidden talents.

Owen felt all week that he might be called upon to speak in Sacrament Meeting, so he had a talk all prepared. Sure enough, the speakers didn't show up; but the Branch President had been having the same feeling, so he was also prepared. About ten minutes before the meeting was over, a young family came in and sat down. Come to find out they were to be our speakers. They got confused because Arizona doesn't observe daylight savings time and Gallup does. The problem arises, though, because the Navajo Nation does do daylight savings time even though they are in Arizona. Figure that one out.

Certainly keeps things interesting in and around our special little corner of the world.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This week turned out to be a busy week. They canceled our District Meeting for Monday. The young missionaries in the mission went to the Snowflake Temple that day. The Senior couples could go only if they were taking missionaries. Since we don't have any missionaries to take, we didn't go; but some of the couples in our District were going. It would be a push for them to get back in time for the meeting. We had the entree for the dinner, so I wasn't disappointed when they canceled it. However, they just pushed the meeting back a couple of weeks, so I didn't really get out of it.

We had a senior couple in our District get transferred this week. They have been here 18 months, but will finish their last five months in the Durango, Colorado area. It worked out good for them because they have a condo in Pagosa Springs, so they will just stay there and service the wards in Durango, Pagosa Springs, the branch in Silverton, and teach an Institute class in Durango. They have been living in their fifth wheel (which they will now sell), so this will be a welcome change for them. We are going to miss them at our District Meetings. They have become our special friends. That makes five couples who have left since we started our mission. There are now eight couples in our District, and two of them don't come to the meetings.

We went down to visit at the Senior Center one day. They had a quilt all ready to be quilted, but rolled up laying on one of the tables. In talking to them, they didn't have any frame or stands to set it up on. That surprised me because they are always piecing quilts. That gave Owen a good idea. Before they closed the Center for the day, he had made and delivered to them a set of sticks and stands. They were thrilled.

We had another great Family Home Evening this week. We ended up with eight people. We had a good lesson, cherry turn-overs for treats, and then ten of us sat around the table playing Thousand Aces. We really enjoyed the evening. It gives us a chance to get to know some of the people in our Branch better, because it isn't always the same ones who come.

We had some appointments this week that went really well. Then some appointments didn't pan out at all because no one was there when we went to their homes. That's okay, because we will continue to check on them and visit with them when we can.

Wednesday Lupton received word that their water system has e-coli and coliform bacteria in it; and that the water needs to be boiled for five minutes before using it for drinking, doing dishes, or cooking. We don't drink the water anyway, so that part was okay. I just have to remember to keep some boiled water on hand.

Thursday night we had a former Branch member, whom is now living in Salt Lake, call and ask if we could get some water to her family. They don't have electricity, so they can't boil the water. We decided to write an email to the stake president and see if there was anything the church could do to help. That really started the ball rolling. The next morning we made two trips to town and were able to pick up 150 cases of water. We told the Chapter President that the Church was donating the water to help Lupton. That spurred the Chapter into action also. They sent some of their workers into town to also get cases of water while others were going over the community list and determining which families were closest to the source of contamination, the elderly, or those who didn't have cars and wouldn't be able to get water for themselves. They wanted to make sure that the people with the greatest need were the ones that were serviced first. Now they have three big, black tanks on a trailer by the Chapter House so that people can come and get the water they need. We will sure be glad when they get the problem solved.

We had a special weekend. Two of my sisters came down and spent a couple of days. We were going to meet them Saturday morning in Farmington, but they surprised us and showed up Friday evening. That was great! We went to the Aztec and Salmon Ruins and then came home by way of Crystal so they could see how pretty it is up there.

On Sunday, I had to lead the singing in Sacrament Meeting and teach Primary, while Owen taught Priesthood. Then I taught the Seminary class. After lunch we had to go teach a missionary lesson. That evening we had one of our Branch members come and share his story with us about what it was like growing up on the reservation, etc. It was very good. Our hearts were all touched by his testimony and the things he has had to endure in his life. What a special man!

Before my sisters headed back home, they wanted to visit The Nugget store where Owen finds all his treasures. Sure enough, they found some treasures, also.

It was fun to have them visit, to show them some of our beautiful area, have them meet the special people in our Branch, and to be able to spend some time with them. It is always hard to tell our company 'good-bye'. We enjoy their visits so much.

Life continues to be good in LA, even in spite of the water situation. We are looking forward to another adventure-filled week.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Life as missionaries can certainly be exciting and full of surprises at times. We were headed out the door one morning to go visit with a sister when the phone rang. It was someone we haven't met before. She wanted to meet us at the church and talk with us. She is struggling right now (recently lost her job, her husband is in jail, and her eight-year-old son is giving her problems). She just needed someone to talk to and to give her some advice. So I guess now we have entered the counseling realm. She was very nice, and we enjoyed visiting with her and her son. Among other things, we suggested they come to church. We were certainly thrilled on Sunday when they did show up and stayed for both meetings. She knew a couple of the sisters at church, and they were glad to see her and visited with her. We will be meeting with them again this week, continuing to encourage her, and will probably do some teaching with the son so he can be baptized.

On Sundays I have been picking up the two girls that we are teaching. Their uncle, his wife and baby usually come to church with us, also. Yesterday the uncle said he wanted to be baptized. What??! We assumed he was already baptized. Lesson learned – missionaries should never assume someone has been baptized. So we will also start teaching him this week.

When Owen took the family home after church, one of the girls' cousins (16 years old) asked if he could be baptized again. Owen visited with him for a few minutes and explained how that works. He also told him about the Seminary class we are teaching. He said he wanted to come to that. So Owen brought him back to the church for Seminary. He seemed pretty overwhelmed at first, but then started to relax and participate some. We are praying that he will have the desire to continue with Seminary.

When we gave the girls their lesson this week, we sat out in the yard. They sat on the buckets this time, and they had found two chairs for us. We set a baptismal date for September 13th, but then found out that is the same day as Stake Conference, so we will have to look at another date. With school starting now, it will be harder to find a time when we can meet with them, especially if the younger one goes to boarding school. But, I know with the Lord's help, things will work out for them.

One of the ladies we met at the Senior Center had invited us to come and go hiking out on her property. We decided to take her up on it. She lives back in against the unique red rocks. It was just a short hike up to an area at the base of the rocks where her grandpa use to pen his sheep. Up on a ledge was the remains of an ancient dwelling, but the weather has taken its toll, and there isn't much left of it – just enough to tell what it was. All over the sides of the rocks were pictographs and petroglyphs. That was so cool to see all of them. One can only image how long that place was inhabited by ancient ones. She shared with us different stories from her past as we walked along and explored. Anyone ever tried 'Cactus Candy'? She says it is really good, but she has lost her mother's recipe.

This week was the Gallup Intra-Tribal Ceremonial at Red Rock Park outside of Gallup. That is a very nice facility. We wanted to go to the parade, but ended up having to go to Sawmill to fix a sewer problem for the elders. We did make it for the evening performance, however. That was pretty cool to see. There were several different tribes represented and performed their traditional dances in full costume. We got to see Zuni maidens dance while balancing a pottery pot on their heads, the basket dance, buffalo dance, deer dance, the Apache dancers, fire dancers, Aztec dancers, and several others. All very good. We went to the Pow Wow for a while and got to see and hear the drum circle – 13 men sitting around a big drum all playing in unison – others were dancing around the arena. Course we didn't understand the significance of their songs or dances, but we enjoyed them nonetheless.

We are constantly amazed as each week passes at the happenings in this valley of the sun. How grateful we are to be able to be here and having these experiences as we serve the Lord and these beautiful people.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Well, another month has past, and we are keeping busy and still enjoying the missionary work here in the Lupton area.

We saw the power of prayer at work on behalf of one of our members and Heavenly Father's tender mercies bestowed upon him. We also are even more cognizant of the power of Satan. If your guard is let down for even a brief moment, Satan will unleash legions of his minions to attack and pull you down even further.

I remember the talk by Pres. Monson, “Be Strong and of a Good Courage”, given in the last General Conference. He said, “We can help ourselves in our desire to do what is right if we put ourselves in places and participate in activities where our thoughts are influenced for good and where the Spirit of the Lord will be comfortable. I recall reading some time ago the counsel a father gave to his son when he went away to school: 'If you ever find yourself where you shouldn't ought to be, get out!' I offer to each of you the same advice. . .”

What can start out as a seemingly simple act of doing a good turn can rapidly deteriorate, and you can end up finding yourself in a place where you shouldn't ought to be and where the Holy Ghost can't help you. It can lead to disappointment, heart break, broken promises, and feelings of regret.

It seems as if Satan is working overtime on the special people in our area. We work with them, encourage them, and try to nourish them all we can; but in the end, we all have our agency and have to deal with the consequences of our choices.

The young girls that we were teaching went to Albuquerque for a couple of weeks. They are back now since school starts this week for them. We will be resuming the missionary lessons and continue to work with them.

Last week was a transfer week, so the new elders for Monument Valley arrived. They were both new to RV living (one has only five weeks left of his mission, and the other one had been out two days); so Owen wanted to orient them and check in with them. We headed out early Wednesday morning and before we even got to Chinle, the elders called and said their trailer was dead – no water, power, or gas. Not a fun welcome for you in a new area. It turned out to be nothing serious, just turning on the gas and water, and flipping a breaker for the power. Wish all the fixes were that easy.

On the way home we decided to stop and check with Chilchinbeto. Luck was on our side and the elders were home and reported no problems. From there we went over to Tsaile and had the same report. We drove 380 miles and made it home with 1 ½ hours to spare before Home Evening.

On the first we decided that rather than going out in the community, only to find no one home, we would go check the RV in Sawmill. The elders reported they weren't having any problems. Owen visited with them a few more minutes; and then as he was getting ready to leave, one of the elders mentioned they had a switch that felt hot when they touched it. Owen checked it out, and it was bad – a definite fire hazard. We made arrangements to meet the Housing Coordinator in Sheep Springs to pick up a new part. We decided to take the scenic route and go through Crystal and over the pass to Sheep Springs. Scenic is an understatement. It was a gorgeous ride up over the top of the mountain. We didn't even mind the extra miles to pick up the trailer part. We were just so thankful that once again the Lord let us know he is looking out for his missionaries.

We had a baby blessed in Church today. He is certainly a cute little guy. I think his hair is over two inches long already, and he is only six weeks old.

Our numbers have been sparse lately in Sacrament Meeting attendance. We had 19 people there when it was time to start the meeting. But eventually, we ended up with 35 people. I counted five children that I would have in Primary. But, when Primary time rolled around, their families had to leave. I actually got to attend Relief Society for a change.

Our mission is a definite adventure. We never know from one day to the next what new adventure or new challenge we will encounter, the new people we will meet, and the new places we will see. The Lord continues to stretch us, support us, and strengthen us as we serve among the beautiful Lamanite people.