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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The weeks continue to be full of adventures. Twice in one day we headed out to visit a couple of different sisters. We never made it, though, because we would get a phone call that changed the plans. Some days it seems like we aren't able to do anything that we planned, but we always end up doing something just as important anyway. We just never know what each new day holds.

We had our District Meeting on Monday. The senior couple from Alaska had had their son send down some meat. They thought it was going to be halibut, but it ended up being halibut, salmon, moose, and caribou. So we were treated to an Alaskan cuisine that evening. Sure was delicious.

Sometimes the time around here can be confusing. We live in Arizona that doesn't do Daylight Savings Time, but the Navajo Reservation does. Sanders, about 20 miles west of here, isn't on the Reservation, so their time is 'normal' time. We were to take a sister to Sanders for a class. She said it started at 7:30 in the morning. We just assumed that that was our time, but found out different when we got there. She ended up being plenty early for her class. I guess we will have to deal with this for a few more weeks, and then we can both be on the same time again. A lot of the kids in this area go to Sanders for school. I wonder if that ever gets confusing for them, or just us 'old' folks.

We had quite a bit of rain again this week. One road just got filled in a few days ago, and it is already being washed away. We aren't able to get off the main roads very far if it has been storming. I guess we could, but we might not be able to get back on the main road for a few days.

We only made one RV trip this week. Tsaile elders were having problems with their hot water. When Owen checked it out, he determined that the water heater needed to be replaced. We thought we would be going back up to take care of that; but the housing coordinator was able to do it, so we didn't have to. Tsaile area is considered a ward, yet they have never had a church building. Dine' College is there, so they use rooms at the college for their meetings. They are finally going to be getting a church, in fact it is nearly ready for occupancy. They are hoping to have the dedication on the 19th of this month. That means that the elders' RV and the senior couple's trailer will be moved to the church property. We only have to worry about the RV, however.

Saturday was a special day. We were able to be a part of a baptism for a young man. This is the one I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that told the Counselor that he wanted to be baptized. We thought
he already had been. So we have been teaching and working with him, and the 11th was his special day – not only was he able to be baptized, but it was his birthday. His wife is already a member and they have an adorable four-month-old little guy. We had 25 people in attendance (eight of whom were missionaries). I thought that was pretty good for our small branch. He had asked Owen to do the baptizing. That turned out to be tougher than Owen thought it was going to be. The font definitely needed more water in it. Finally on the fourth try, they had him sit down on the bottom of the font with his legs out in front of him so all he had to do was lay back. That ended up being the lucky charm. A senior missionary told him that he hadn't set any records. His friend took 14 tries before he was finally baptized right. Owen was certainly glad that it didn't take that many times on Saturday.

I guess the tarantulas are migrating now. Owen has seen an occasional one crossing the road as we drive around. The other day we went out to get in the truck, and there was one right to the side of it. These are different than other ones I have seen. They are black, a little smaller, and just as ugly. Just as long as I see them before they see me, I guess we will be okay.

The work is progressing and we will continue to do what we can to help it move forward here in the Lupton area.
Special day - Baptism and Birthday!

The "elephant" rocks south of Lupton

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On the road again. With all the rain we had last week, bad roads to drive on, and being the first of the month (Navajo holiday) we decided it would be a good time to check on some of the RVs. We were able to check on the ones in Tohlakai, Sawmill, and Polacca. The one in Tsaile will be moved in a couple of weeks. Their new church house will be dedicated about that time, so then the trailer will be moved from the trailer park to over by the church.

While we were in Polacca (Hopi Reservation), we decided to check out Second Mesa. That was very amazing. You drive up a steep, windy road to the top of the mountain (past a sign that says 'Taking Pictures Is Not Allowed'). The old, old, small, rock and or adobe homes are all flat-roofed, in a row, with three or four joined together. They are lined up along each edge of the mesa, with a shorter row down the middle. So you drive down the narrow dirt trail, loop around, and come back the other side. Some of the homes are 600 years old. It was like taking a step back in time. Owen said he wouldn't want to live up there if he was a sleep walker. The mesa isn't very wide up on top, and it is a long ways down. Cool view of the entire valley, though. That is probably why they built up there; so they could see someone coming before they could see them. I want to go back another time and have a Hopi guide show us around more and tell us about the history and culture.

During our Family Home Evening, Owen said something about going home. One guy said, “What do you mean going home? You aren't going anywhere.”

Another guy joined in with, “Yeah. They've issued you a census number, so now you can't leave.”

We have also had a couple of people offer us a piece of their land to build a home on. We love these people so much. They have won a special place in our hearts.

Great News! Our daughter-in-law who was injured was able to go home on Thursday. She still has many weeks yet of recovery to do, but she is making good progress and so glad to be home with her family. Family and friends built a ramp so she could get in the house, because she still can't put any weight on her right side and gets around in a wheelchair most of the time. We are so very grateful that they live in the community they do. The people are very compassionate and caring, plus they also have some family close by which helps a lot, too.

We have had a pretty spiritual last three days. Friday was our Zone Conference in Farmington. The Church wants all the missionaries to see the new Church documentary, Meet the Mormons. So we were privileged to have our own private showing of that movie. It is very, very good and well worth going to see. We encourage EVERYONE to go and see it on opening weekend (October 10th). The attendance they get on opening weekend will determine how long and other places it will be shown. Unfortunately it isn't showing in Gallup. So, if you can, be sure and see it.

The Housing Coordinator for the mission lives in Farmington. He has been so good to help Owen out with the RVs. He just happens to own a Ferrari. During lunch at the Zone Conference, he gave Owen a ride in it. Talk about excited! I guess that car is quite well known throughout the world. All the missionaries want to have their picture taken with it, and then they send the picture home to their families.

General Conference was great, as usual. We listened to some of it on the Internet and caught a couple of sessions at a member's home with an investigator. Such good talks, lots of food for thought. I am always glad they are printed in the Ensign, because it is just too much for me to take in at one time. We got a text Saturday from our Navajo friend that became active in February and then moved to Utah in June. She was at the Conference Center. It was exciting to know that she was having the special experience of being able to attend a Conference session.

We are continuing to teach and work with some very special people. It is exciting to see the light of Christ come into their lives, and how it changes them. Each new day brings new adventures.