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