Sunday, January 26, 2014

     Owen has been concerned about the fire protection in this area.  He has met with Chapter Council and also the Chapter President a few times.  They are aware that it is a problem, but can't seem to get past the talking stage.  So he asked them if he was able to get some equipment, would they want it.  Of course they said yes. 
     Owen called Greg Oliver, our fire chief in Cleveland.  He checked with all the county fire departments.  Greg called back and said that Cleveland had some turn-out gear, respirators, and a length of hose and nozzle that they would donate.  He hadn't heard from the other departments. 
     Ron and Charlotte's family were coming the next week to Cortez for her grandmother's funeral, so they picked up the equipment from Greg and met us in Shiprock last Sunday.   They also brought Owen's own turn-out gear.  So.o.o.o good to see them, even if was for only a few minutes.
     Owen let the Chapter President know he had the equipment, and he came up to see what it was.  He said the next chapter meeting was Friday at nine and wanted us to come and show the council the equipment.
     Friday morning around eight, I happened to look out the window and saw a whole lot of smoke to the south.  I told Owen that that was too much smoke for someone just stoking their stove, it had to be serious.  He grabbed his gear and left to go check things out.  Sure enough it was a house fire.  It was pretty well gone by time he got there, but he did help out where he could and made some good contacts with two other fire departments.  The home belonged to a single mom, her five children, and a grandmother.  The children had left for school, and the mother wasn't home.  The only one in the home was the grandmother.  She had smoke inhalation, but is going to be okay.  Their wood burning stove was too close to the wall, and over time caused the fire to start.  The only thing they got out with was the clothes on their backs.  Pretty sad deal.  Most of the source of heat around here is wood burning stoves.  They have no insurance, and not even a garden hose to start spraying water until help arrives.  All they could do was just watch it burn.  They do have the grandmother's home they can live in so they aren't homeless.  The Chapter helped them buy clothes, and a few other things and the Navajo Nation will also help. 
     Ironic that a major burn-out would occur on the very day Owen was meeting to present them with equipment and offer further help to get a fire department up and running.  It kind of brought to light of how much something really needs to be done.
     We made our trip to Tsaile and Chilchinbeto on Monday.  Tsaile hasn't had any more problems, but we had to go back to Chilchinbeto on Thursday.  Finally, finally I think Owen traced the problem to a loose connection where that line connects to the fuse box.  We are keeping our fingers crossed.  On the way home we stopped in Ganado at the Hubble Trading Post which is a National Monument.  It was built back in the 1870s, but all the buildings and the home have been preserved and it still functions as a trading post today.  It was a pretty neat place to visit.  Course Owen had to check out all their old farm machinery.
     He got a call yesterday that the RV in Bitter Springs (up by Tuba City - 263 miles away) has a water leak.  Oh, joy!  Another road trip this week.
     One day we drove by the post office and weren't going to stop because we don't get a whole lot of mail.  Owen decided to turn around and go back and check.  A lady was leaving the post office as we pulled up.  When she saw Owen, she turned around, came back, and started talking to him.  She (Margaret Yazzi) is a member, but hasn't been to Church in a long time.  We got her phone number and found out where she lives.  Then as he was walking back to the truck, another lady (Alfreda Baldwin)  stopped him and said she was sorry for not making it to Church on Sunday, but wanted to go this week.  When I picked her up today, three of her grandchildren also came.  Not only that, but Sister Margaret came, too.  I was thrilled to see them all there.
     After the meetings, the Branch had a pot luck dinner.  I had made a big bowl of acini di pepe (frog-eye salad).  No one seemed to be taking my salad.  I think it was new to the majority of them.  I heard someone say it was made with frog eggs, at which all the kids pulled faces.  Then someone said it was frog eyes.  Owen told them that we were up most of the night trying to catch enough frogs for the salad.  Finally some got brave enough to try it.  It wasn't long until they were scraping the bottom of the bowl to get every last bit.
     Every week new and exciting things happen.  We get to meet more people and see more of the countryside.  It is a great place, the people are so special, and we are happy for the opportunity we have of serving in this special place.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jan. 19, 2014

     Hitchhiking is very common out here.  We hardly go anywhere but what there is someone hitchhiking.  On Tuesday we drove out to the Bitsue's home to visit with Bro. Bitsue.  He wasn't home so we decided to go to another place and check on them.  As we were driving, we could see two women up ahead walking along the side of the road.  Owen commented, "Oh no.  More hitchhikers."  When we passed them, we recognized Sister Green that we knew from the Senior Center.  So we turned and went back.  She and her niece were hitchhiking to Gallup to pick up a few things and some chips and dip for Bingo day tomorrow at the Center.  Do we tell them to have a nice walk or give the 70-year-old woman and her niece a ride?  We all had a nice ride to Gallup and a great visit along the way.  We asked the niece if we could come and visit her the next day and she said it would be okay.  Alas, when we went back, she wasn't home.  Hopefully, we will be able to visit her another time.
       We were finally able to find Bro. Bitsue at home.  He is a silversmith and a potterer.  He makes all shapes and sizes of pots out of coils of clay.  He showed us some he had made.  He and Owen spent a lot of time talking rocks.  He rode with us in the truck to show us the remains of Anasazi dwellings.  They were a ways away on the other side of a huge wash.  He said that in the spring when the weather is good, we will hike up to them for a better look.
     We are still trying to find out where different people live, knocking on doors, and visiting when we can.  We have met a special man, Jay Burton.  He is around 37 years old and was baptized about 20 years ago.  He has been ordained a Priest.  He wants to meet with us weekly.  We have asked the Branch President about teaching him the Temple Prep. lessons.  We think that is something that would really help him.  
     Friday was our first Zone Conference.  It was held in Chinle (about an hour and a half away).  The couple serving in Zuni met us here and we took our truck.  It was fun to visit with them.  They welcomed the five new couples since the last Zone Conference to the mission.  There are also five couples and a single sister that are finishing their missions, so they each bore their testimony.  One couple has been here since 2011.  They will finish this mission on Feb. 14th and start their next mission on February 15th.  I guess when they finish their mission, the President calls them on a six month service mission, during which time they submit mission papers and are called right back to the same area.  So basically, they never leave.  The couple in Tsaile are planning on doing that.  She told me that they want to serve at least 10 years (probably right where they are). 
     We heard wonderful messages from the Zone Leaders wife, the Zone Leader, Sister Batt, and President Batt.  We recited the Missionary Commission:  "I am called of God.  My authority is above that of kings of the earth.  By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him - to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me.  My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; My words are his words; My doctrine is His doctrine.  My commission is to do what He wants done; To say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in work and in deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous Latter-day work.  How great is my calling!  (By Bruce R. McConkie)
     These RV trailers are getting to be rather stressful.  We went to Tsaile again on Saturday and are going again in the morning.  In fact, we are going to also check out the one in Chilchinbeto, too.  That will be a long day.
     We are enjoying our mission more each day, especially since we have met a lot of people, are learning the area, and where the dirt roads go.  The weather is cooperating - we are in the high 40s or low 50s every day.  Course that isn't good for the water situation later on in the year.
     We love you all and are so thankful for our many blessings and especially this opportunity to serve.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

     We have now been official missionaries for a month.  We have learned a lot, but still have a lot to learn.  We spent the majority of the week trying to find people.  We made contact with several special individuals.  Some of them have been baptized, but some reason or other, have become inactive.  We will continue to follow up with them and see how things go.
     The Elderlys (Senior Couples) in our District get together twice a month for Family Home Evening, a pot luck dinner, and play games.  So we went to Tohlakai on Monday afternoon.  Owen is not a game player, but he did join in and actually ended up winning at the card game of Golf. 
     A highlight of the week was getting to know Navajo Elvis and even getting his autograph on a couple of his flyers.  We were out knocking on doors and one of them was a chapter member we met at the chapter council meeting.  He invited us in and we had a very nice visit with him.  He is a member, but less active.  We found out that he is an Elvis impersonator and has traveled all over the country doing his act.  They call him Navajo Elvis.  I hope we get to see him perform while we are here.  He is an architect and has built a real nice addition onto their house.
     We are finding that if we find a member's house and they have met us, they will invite us in to visit.  If we go to a home where it is the first time the person has seen us, he/she will come out shutting the door behind him/her and visit with us outside.  We asked about that, and found out that it is very common.  They won't invite you into their home until they get to know and trust you.
     Owen has been concerned about the RV in Chilchinbeto and not being able to figure out its problem.  So we decided to drive up there on Friday and check out a few more things.  Success!  He was very happy when he was able to figure it out and everything in the trailer started working again.
     On our way home Bro. Tom called and asked us to talk in Church on Sunday.  Ugh!  Not my favorite thing to do, but I couldn't tell him no.  That means that in the last six weeks we will have talked in Church three times.  That is a record for us.  I think I will get started on my next talk now because I am sure the opportunity will be coming up again soon.
     Owen made the comment today that he thinks he has been preparing for this mission with the Native Americans all his life.  He has always been interested in their culture.  Now we have the opportunity to live here among the Navajos, get to know them, and become friends with these beautiful people.  It is a special experience in our lives.  This is truly where we were meant to serve.
We are looking forward to getting to know even more of them and hopefully be able to bring the light of Gospel into or back into the lives of those who fallen by the wayside.
     Looking forward to another great week.  Love you all!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

     This turned out to be another interesting week.  We went to Gallup on Monday to do some shopping and to get price quotes from Home Depot for small studio-type apartments to replace the Elders' RV trailers.  Owen will turn in his plans for those and we will wait and see what happens.
     Tuesday we went to the Center, but there was hardly anyone there and they were closing early because of the holiday.  So we decided to go and do some visiting.  We knocked on several homes, but no one answered.  At one home a guy met us in the driveway, he was cordial, but told us with all due respect they liked their privacy.  We took that as a 'go away and leave us alone.'  Later we found out that from around the first to the fifth and then again around the fifteenth, very few people are home because they get their checks and then head to Gallup or other places to do their shopping.
     Owen got a call on Tuesday that the trailer in Tsaile (Say.lee) was still having problems.  We got up early on New Years Day and headed out.  We went to the senior couples' trailer (the
Rogers) because the Elders were there.  I told them I didn't remember a New Year's Day when I was up early enough to see the sun rise.  They laughed and said that they didn't remember when they had ever gone to bed on New Years Eve so early (10:30 p.m.). 
     When Owen checked out the trailer, it was definitely having problems (carbon monoxide).  He decided to pull the furnace out and have it checked/and or fixed in Gallup the next day.  Since it was still early, we decided to go on up to Bluewater to the District Senior Couples' party.  We were glad we were able to go.  All nine of the couples were there.  They had a nice dinner, visited, watched a video "People of Destiny", and played games.  It was a nice afternoon.  After we watched the video, Sister England (our blind sister) commented that she had never seen that movie before.  Everyone just kind of sat there wondering how to respond.  Finally someone started to laugh and we all did then.  Sister England then commented that she has seen the movie now.  She is a very special person and easy to overlook the fact that she is blind because she can do anything.
     We took the furnace to Gallup and the guy was able to fix it.  He said that 109 parts per million of carbon monoxide was normal.  This furnace was putting out 2200 parts per million.  He said that those young men must be doing something right and that the good Lord was looking out for them because they should have been dead.  So we were on the road again for Tsaile.  Owen put the furnace in, but couldn't get it to start up.  He finally quit, and the Elders said they had an electrician friend they would have check it.
     Owen fretted and worried about it and wondered what to do.  He even called Doyle Jensen, his electrician friend.  Saturday he decided to head back up there.  The Senior Couple, the Rogers, have been without a car for the past two months waiting to get the engine replaced in it.  In Tsaile there is Dine' College (around 800 students), a gas station, and a health clinic.  That is all!  They have to go to Chinle or Gallup to shop.  So we took the van up there to let them use until they get their car back.
This time Owen was able to figure out the problem and get the furnace running.  Hurray!
     Our little Branch had 42 people to Church today, even two of the people we have met at the Senior Center.  Some even drew us maps as to how to find their homes, which will be really helpful.  No one has an address, just PO boxes.  So you have to know your directions, count the roads, rocks, ditches, or pine trees in order to find them.  Directions are a problem because I am one-quarter turn off on them.  When we are going north, I think it is west. (No surprise, right sisters?!)  Hopefully, I can get oriented soon.
     I was talking to Natalie today.  She told of a lady in their ward that bore her testimony and talked about her nephew who is serving a mission in Farmington, New Mexico.  She said that they lived in a little RV that had been having furnace problems.  The furnace would turn off in the middle of the night.  They were waking up with headaches and how he felt that they should leave the vent open.  They had had someone come and check the furnace and it was putting out enough carbon monoxide to kill them  Afterwards Clinton got up and bore his testimony about the very same story only from his father's standpoint who is also serving a mission in Farmington.  What a small world we live in.  How grateful we are that the Lord was watching over and protecting those young men. 
     We were getting ready to leave the Senior Center on Friday when a man came in.  Owen had been asking around about the fire protection capabilities in the area.  The director introduced us to the man, and he invited us to the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) meeting at 1:00 p.m.  When we got there, we found out that it was the meeting of the Chapter Council, and the man we met was the president of the Chapter.  WOW! Are we special or what?  Owen presented some ideas to help them, and they seemed interested.  Their nearest response team is in Sanders, about 30 miles away.
     Things are starting to pick up and doors open.  We are going to try and do a lot of visiting this week, providing we don't get another service call.
     We send our love to all of you.  We feel very fortunate to have the special family and friends that we do.
Love you,
Elder and Sister Olsen