Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wow! What a week. No more will I say that our travel time will slow down. The Mission President has asked Owen to check on the RVs once a month. They moved the RV from Bitter Springs down to Polacco on the Hopi Reservation (that makes it about two hours closer). So Monday it was a trip to Polacco to put the skirting around the trailer. Wednesday was back to Polacco to check out a water leak and a trip to Gallup to get the new parts. Thursday was back to Polacco to install the new parts. Then they decided that they wanted an in-line water filtration system installed. So Friday was a trip to Gallup to get that part and then back to Polacco on Saturday to install it. Four trips adds up to be over 800 miles – not counting the trips to Gallup. So hopefully, that trailer is up and running so the missionaries can move in. One of our investigators said he was raised on the border there by the Hopi Reservation and had gone to school in Polacco. So he asked if he could go with and help Owen. He has also remodeled homes. Of course, we won't turn down an offer like that. He ended up going on Wednesday and Thursday. That relieved a lot of Owen's stress.

We had a special discussion with our young investigator during the week. We were very thrilled when he came to Church today. The speakers' talks were just like they were geared to him to help further his understanding. It is so special how everything seems to fit together. I know that they were inspired.

The sisters we have been teaching Temple Prep. lessons to are doing so well. They are still really committed and so special. It has been a true joy to have been able to teach them.

Our long-rider, Doc, departed on Wednesday. We gave him lunch before he left. Owen asked him two questions for him to think about as he is riding down the trail. Did you have any joy in this life; and did you bring joy to anyone else? The next day when Owen went to Polacco he expected to see him along the road, but he was no where to be found. We have thought about him and wondered how he is doing, but he has been on these long rides, off-and-on, since 2003; so I am pretty sure he knows what he is doing.

We are having another “severe dust storm warning”. This is the second one this week. Sometimes the trailer seems to shudder or sounds like gremlins are having a major bowling match on the roof. But, so far, we have been safe and haven't had any real damage done to the area.

We continue to see the Lord's hand in the work that we are doing as he moves us to greater and new heights. Each day as the sun sets, and we reflect on the happenings we have witnessed, we know that He has had a hand in our activities.

Monday, March 24, 2014

We thought our week might be a little slower because of the investigators being out-of-town, but we were pleasantly surprised. The work of the Lord never slows down. There is always a lot to do. 

We went to the Senior Center on St. Patrick's Day. They were all festive in their green and getting ready to have a party. It was fun to see their excitement and to visit with them for a few minutes.

We continue to meet new people each week. A number are already members of the Church, but for one reason or another, they just stopped coming. Most don't even know why they quit.

We have had some real special visits with various members. Some are struggling with their testimonies and just need support and encouragement. We thoroughly enjoy our visits with all of them. We drove out to Sanders to visit with a couple that comes to our Branch. Our knock on the door was answered by a young elder. We were surprised to see them there. The elders had come by to help them unload some wood, so the family had invited them to stay for supper. We all had a nice visit before they left. We talked to them about helping out with our investigator that lives in Sanders part of the time. Of course, they said they would be happy to do so. Sanders is in their area of service rather than ours anyway

We had to make a trip to Gallup one day to pick up parts for the RV they moved from Bitter Springs to Polacco, AZ. While we we were there, we stopped at the Nugget Store. Every time we visit with the owner, I am more and more impressed with him. He is a member, but was out of the Church for awhile because of the hypocrisy of the leaders. It took him awhile before he finally realized that the only person he was hurting was himself; and in the end, the only one we have to account to is the Lord.

He has a really strong testimony of tithing. He said that if he only had $10 to his name, he would give it to the Lord; because he knew that if he did, by the end of the day he would have $20 in his pocket. When he and his wife were starting their family, there were some complications. They found out that it would cost $30,000 for them to be able to get pregnant. He was working as a policeman at the time in the Narcotics Division. They knew there was no way they could ever come up with the money. He was even trying to figure out how he could work with some of the drug dealers and get the money that way. During this time of total despair in their lives, they were contacted by an attorney. When they met with him, they found out he had some inheritance money in the amount of $30,000 from his wife's aunt. The exact amount they needed in order to start their family.

He says that if we are able to save one person while we are on our mission, then we will have been successful. He told us to not worry about getting baptisms, but to concentrate on strengthening those that are already members. Rely on the Spirit because we are not the important ones and Heavenly Father is in charge of what we do. We felt we had been taught and enlightened by our visit. Our timing was perfect because no customers came in the store while we were having our discussion. It was just like we were suppose to hear what he had to say.

Our Marianya Miracle continues to grow. When we found out that her family needed clothing, etc. for her, Owen made one phone call home to see if they could help out some way. Ron's family were coming down our way, so they said they would bring whatever clothing had been collected. So on Saturday we drove to Blanding to meet them. Their truck bed was clear full of large sacks of clothes. We were both totally amazed at how much the people back home had donated. In fact, I wonder if they have any clothes left because it seemed like we had so much. It really touched our hearts to see their generosity. There is no way we can ever thank them enough. “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it unto me.”

When we got home and unloaded the truck, we had 31 large bags of clothes and some baby blankets. There were not only clothes for babies, but adult sizes too. We piled all the sacks in the frontroom and took a picture. I text Marianya's mom and told her she needed to come over and see what Marianya had done to our frontroom. She was totally amazed to see all of the bags of clothing

Yesterday, Sunday, was an interesting day. Owen decided to open the gate to the Church yard a lot earlier than he usually does. As he pushed the gate opened, he heard someone say, “Good morning.” He looked around to see where the voice was coming from. There was a guy that had set up camp there by the church yard and was letting his three horses graze the roadside. Owen found out that he is a 'long rider.' He is riding across the country to raise awareness for childrens' hunger. He truly looks like he stepped out of a Louis La'Mour novel. As we visited with him more, we found out that he has a PHD in Philosophy, but has chosen to ride for the last several years. He has now tethered his horses in the Church yard to clean up all the dead grass and so they can rest for a few days. What an interesting person. He is glad to have a home cooked meal and some company.

The blessings continue to pour in and the Lord continues to hear our prayers. We can feel of his guidance in the things we do, the people we meet, and even in the little things (if we listen). Owen had picked up a hasp and a padlock to install on one of the RVs. As he was walking up the aisle to go pay for it, he had the impression to not buy that hasp. He went back to the display area and found another one that was longer which ended up being the one he needed.

I was in a Dollar Store and as I walked by the cookie display, I thought about buying a couple of packages. I resisted the urge and didn't buy any. Sunday morning I found out just before Church started that I would be doing Primary. I scrambled to put the lesson together. When I walked into the Primary room, the children wanted to know if I had brought any treats. I had to send Owen home to see what he could scrounge up. If only I had listened to the prompting and bought some cookies the day before.

Sunday our little Marianya was blessed in Sacrament Meeting. The Branch President gave her the blessing. It was beautiful; in fact, the whole meeting was so spiritual. We had our biggest attendance since we arrived - 49 people. Only six were visitors, and later I counted up at least 11 members who usually come and weren't there. I even had eleven children in Primary – ages two through eleven. The little two-year-old kept wanting to crawl between my legs like a tunnel. I had to keep moving around, stood up against the wall, and finally picked him up and held him so I could continue with the lesson. The other kids were getting quite the kick out of watching the side entertainment. Hmm...and to think that our lesson was on reverence.

Life continues to be great in Lupton.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Greetings from LA again. Life as a senior missionary can sometimes be a challenge. There are so many different responsibilities and assignments in the missions for the seniors. I don't think any two missions are alike. Even the things we do each day are different from the other senior couples in our District.

Both of our investigators were out of town this week. The one is in Utah and not sure when he will be back. We didn't have to give any lesson from Preach My Gospel, but we studied and prepared just in case.

Those that we are teaching Temple Preparation lessons are progressing and have such special spirits. We hope that they continue in their desire to have the great experience of receiving their temple endowments and the blessings promised.

In small branches Sundays can be real interesting sometimes. Our Branch President’s family and 1st Counselor weren’t able to be to Church last Sunday.  The 2nd counselor was the only one.  He has only conducted Sacrament Meeting once since we have been here.  The Branch President’s wife plays the organ for Sacrament Meeting and is the President, Counselors, Secretary, pianist, chorister, and Teacher all rolled into one in the Primary.  His ten-year-old daughter leads the singing each week.  He has two sons – one a Priest and one a Deacon.  So their family is really missed when they aren’t there.  Anyway, I got the prelude music started (thank goodness I figured out which buttons to push on the organ), another sister came and took over the organ, so I had to lead the singing.  Owen and the counselor blessed and passed the Sacrament.  The two speakers never showed up, so Owen gave a talk and I gave the closing prayer.  I had checked with the Branch President’s wife on Saturday night about Primary, but she hadn’t made any arrangements.  So  I put things together for that.  I ended up with five Primary kids (ranging in age from 2 to 10) and two young women (because there wasn’t a teacher for them).  Owen also ended up teaching Priesthood. He had two non-members there, so he tried to meet their needs as well as the other men that were there. Things were a little stressful for awhile, but we survived. We were glad to have the Branch President's family and lst Counselor back today. When it was time to start, there were only 14 people there. But by twenty minutes after the hour, our numbers had increased to 41. So glad to see all of them there.

Remember in an earlier post where I told the story of the dog getting our jerky? Well, on Tuesday we had an appointment to go Visiting Teaching at that same place. (No, the dog didn't get our jerky again.) We decided to wait and eat dinner after we got home. As we were walking across her porch, I heard someone say, “Mom, the elders are here.” Victor, her nephew, answered the door and welcomed us in as if we were old friends. We had met him on an earlier visit and visited with him on the porch. He is a veteran, and he and Owen seemed to hit it off. He is a non-member. Eleanor came in and we all sat and visited. Victor's friend (a girl) was making fry bread in the kitchen, but would occasionally add a comment. When the conversation lulled, I got out the lesson. He called his friend to come into the front room and sit down because the sister was going to give a lesson. I thought that was quite interesting. As we were finishing up, we slid to the edge of the couch so we could stand up. Both of us noticed that Victor and his friend did the same, but they folded their arms. We decided quick that we better have a closing prayer. So Owen gave it. Then they asked if we wanted some fry bread. Before we knew it, we had been invited to stay for dinner (chili and fry bread). Then they sent some fry bread and cookies home with us. It was a super evening, one that we enjoyed very much. We had such a nice visit. It was if we have known them a long time. Victor was so friendly and kidding around with Owen. He had come to Church last week with Eleanor. I think the difference was because he came to Church, heard Owen “preach” in Sacrament Meeting and in the Priesthood class, so he got a chance to get to know him better.

We had been here nearly three months before we were invited into a hogan. Now we have been in three different ones. It also took us that long before we experienced fry bread. Then we had it twice in just four days. Yummy! I guess you could say we are getting reservationized.

We had another good Family Home Evening this week. We had our two little families come. We all sat around the table and had a lesson on the creation. I had made numbers and things for the little boys to color and paste on the numbers as we talked about each day of the creation. But, I had to hurry and run off more copies because the parents wanted to color, too. Marianya was asleep in her car seat when they came, so we just left her there and let her sleep. Maybe next time she comes we can have some play time. We have really enjoyed getting to know the two little families. Cassandra hasn't missed Church since the first time they came back. Mina has only missed twice when she had the baby.

Our road trip last week was to Crystal, NM. We needed to check on some things in the Elders' trailer. Crystal is a beautiful place, nestled among ponderosa pine trees. It is a small community, but there is a boarding school there. Most of the people live outside of town. The LDS church house even has a gym in it; that is unusual for small community churches here. It was a nice ride. On the way home we decided to take the loop through Bowl Canyon past Asaayi Lake. It was a beautiful drive through the trees, huge red rock formations, and even the dirt road wasn't too bad.

We look forward to each new day and finding out what it holds in store for us. Some days are challenging, but that is to be expected. We have our low times and high times; but as we look back and reflect, we can see the Lord's hand in guiding us as we strive to do His work in this part of His vineyard.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Today marks three months since we began our mission. Sometimes it seems like it hasn't been that long; and other times, it seems like we have been here longer than that. The time is going by fast, though, we do know that.

We took the car to Gallup on Monday morning to have the noise it was making checked. We knew we would have to leave it, so we took both vehicles. We had District Meeting that evening in Tohlakai which is to the east of Gallup, so that was another trip. Then Tuesday we went to Sanders to teach an investigator. As we finished up, we noticed that a tire on the truck was low. Since that was the second low tire in just over a week, we decided we better heed the warnings and get new tires. So off to Gallup we go again. On Wednesday the car was done, so on the road again to Gallup to pick it up. Friday was a trip to Steamboat for the RV trailer; and Saturday, back to Gallup because I had an appointment for a hair cut. We certainly hope the trips to Gallup will be less this week. In spite of all the trips to Gallup, we were able to get some missionary work done and had a pretty good week.

We went to the Senior Center on Wednesday. Amelia, the cook, asked Owen, “Where have you been? We have been waiting for you to come so we could do some crafts.” So I guess we have our monthly assignment – craft ideas for the Center. We were ready and shared with them a few project ideas. A few people started cutting out shamrocks, and soon nearly everyone was involved in making the decorations. There were 25 or so people there that day. I was going from table to table helping out those that had questions or needed help gluing because they said their hands were too shaky.

I talked to one elderly man, George, before everyone else got there. He was having a pity party and was really discouraged. He has financial problems, some health issues, etc. He said that sometimes he felt like just giving up. I talked to him for a few minutes and offered words of encouragement. When the crafts started, he got some patterns and before long he had his shamrocks decorated. He put them on a piece of green paper, and wanted me to hang it on the wall. By now he is starting to smile. A little while later, they announced that he was going to sing a song. I was expecting some song in Navajo. I was very surprised when he sang his own rendition of “Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog.” It was so fun to watch him. Afterward he asked Owen what he thought of his song? Owen complimented him. George said he wished he had his guitar because he even had the moves to go with the song. I would have loved to see that! When we left over three hours later, he was all smiles.

I was moving back and forth between tables helping people and didn't realize that it was lunch time until I heard Amelia say, “Sister Olsen, why don't you take a break and come and have some lunch.” Sounded like a good idea to me.

We both really enjoyed the time we spent there. There were people there that we hadn't met before, and they were all very friendly and talking to us. I just wish I knew all of their names. Some of the ladies were even trying to teach Owen different words in Navajo. One would say a word, he would repeat it back, and they all would all laugh at his attempts.

We had Family Home Evening later that evening. Cassandra and her boys, Duane and Ray, came. Owen was outside when they came. The little boys got out of the car, came running up to him, gave him 'high fives', just like he was their grandpa. We had prepared a lesson on “I Am a Child of God.” Owen helped Duane give the opening prayer (his very first prayer). After the lesson we played, “Don't Eat Pete.” Duane really liked that game. He played with the game board for the rest of the evening. We were just finishing the treats when Mina text Cassandra and asked if they could come, even if they were late. Of course you can come! When Mina walked in, she said, “We brought the baby by so you could see her, but you can't keep her!” We gave them treats and then Owen gave them a short lesson similar to the one we had earlier with the boys. We took pictures of everyone and had an enjoyable evening. Mina was bundling the baby up getting ready to leave. She said she was going to check the car seat when she left just to make sure the baby was still in it. I think she can tell that we think their little one is pretty special. We were so excited for them when we found out later in the week that Ray was able to find another job. He will be getting 36 hours a week instead of just 16 hours. He realizes that the Lord is looking out for him and his little family.

While we were in Steamboat, we got talking to the Elders. Owen expressed to them some of our frustrations about not knowing if we are doing the teaching right, etc. One Elder is waiting for a Visa, so he has to do an hour a day of language study. The Elder said he would help us during the time the other Elder is studying language and go over some teaching ideas and help with Preach My Gospel. How did these young guys get so smart? You would think it should be us teaching them, instead of the other way around. He has only been out eight months. He gave us some really good suggestions as to the sections of the book to read that will help us, how to get the investigators reading in the Book of Mormon, help them understand principles in the scriptures, and to help them have spiritual experiences. We both felt that it was time well spent and are trying to incorporate some of his suggestions. He said maybe he could arrange to have something break in the RV, then we would have to come back up, and could work together again. Most of the Senior Couples don't have to teach Preach My Gospel, because they have Elders in their areas who teach the investigators. We are learning a lot, do a lot of studying, and pray that the Spirit will be there to help us do and say the right things so that the people we teach will have their hearts touched and have a desire to embrace the Gospel in its fulness.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We have been able to have some blessings and see some changes in people's lives since we began our mission here in Lupton. The Lord has truly blessed us and is blessing the people here, also.

We were able to give another Temple Preparation lesson to the Yazzis. We enjoy our visits with them. When we went for our visit with Thomas, Anderson was also there. So we gave the 1st discussion so he could have it. Both young men took off their ski hats for the prayer and left them off while we had the lesson. Thomas asked Owen to give the opening prayer. When I opened my eyes at the end of the prayer, there was a two-day-old little black goat nibbling on the end of my skirt. The family had gotten the little goat from their neighbors. Its back leg hooves are deformed (no hooves, the legs come down, flatten out at the bottom and point forward). The lesson went well, and we challenged both of them to pray about the message. We hope that as Anderson progresses, it will help Thomas's testimony to grow also.

We have a man, probably in his 50s, that we started the missionary discussions with this week. He has had some of the discussions before, but just never committed to baptism. He has become a good friend and he and Owen enjoy spending time together discussing rocks, or whatever.

We got word that Mina had a little girl on Sunday. She weighed 5 lbs. 8 oz. Not bad for being early, and the best news was that she was doing fine. We found out that they didn't have much for the baby in the way of clothe or blankets, so I thought I would pick up some stuff when we went to Gallup on the 3rd. As it turned out, we were driving to the truck stop, Speedy's, and saw an older couple hitch-hiking. Owen stopped and found out they were headed to Gallup. So we decided to take them to Gallup and then we could get the baby some things. We took the the baby things out and left them with Mina's sister. We called the Branch President and he said he had a crib they could have. On Wednesday, Cassandra text me and said that Mina and the baby were on their way home. So it was a good thing we had already bought the baby clothes. We canceled Family Home Evening and went to Gallup to pick up the crib. The President also gave us a changing table and car seat for them. When we went out to deliver the crib, Mina was home. She held the flashlight while I helped Owen put it together. Then we carried it into their hogan. It is a very humble place to live, but they are comfortable. The daddy, Ray, was holding the baby. So we got to see how beautiful she is. Ray told us he was Catholic and asked if they needed to have her baptized.  We gave him a quick lesson on baptism and why we wait until a person is eight.  We did tell them they could bring her to the Church  now and have her blessed and what that entails. They expressed an interest in that. Owen asked him if he would like to know more about our Church, and then when Marianya is eight years old, he could be the one to baptize her and have their family united together, and he said he would. He has only a part-time job (16 hours a week). He has been very worried about how they were going to afford the baby and all the things involved in taking care of a little one when they are just barely surviving as it is. He said he was praying to the Lord and asking Him for help. He was crying because he just didn't know how they were going to do it. Then he said, “You folks came and have helped us so much.” God truly answers prayers and knows and loves each one of His children no matter who they are, rich or poor, or where they live. I am so thankful we were able to be the instruments in His hands in doing service for this young family. We are really looking forward to being able to spend more time with them. I asked Mina if it would be okay if we came over occasionally to get some cuddle time with the baby. She smiled and told us we could. I think we are going to claim her as one of our grand daughters.

I had been making a few decorations for St. Patrick's Day, but I couldn't get any glue out of the bottle, and my glue stick was dried up. I decided I would have to wait until morning and see what Owen could do with the glue bottle. So as we were sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Owen if he could get the glue to come out of the bottle. He took the lid off and saw a black plug thing in it. He tried to pull it out, but couldn't. So he squeezed the bottle very hard. Suddenly the plug popped out, glue flew clear to the ceiling. We had glue on the ceiling, running down the freshly painted wall, all over Owen's hand, and even a puddle in his lap. I thought it was hilarious. I laughed and laughed. I wished I had had a movie camera going to catch all that and his expression. He wasn't laughing. He couldn't even move because of the glue in his lap. I started cleaning it up when I could quit laughing, and he carefully went to wash, and change his clothes. Just glad he didn't have his suit pants on.

We made two trips to Steamboat this week (one was planned and the other was the spur of the moment). We also made a trip to Tohlakai. Just when we start thinking all the RVs are fixed and working good, we get a phone call to let us know otherwise. We did have fewer miles on the truck this month, however; course the month is also shorter. We drove 2,914 miles – that is 275 miles less than last month. I am not sure how many miles we put on the car in addition to the truck's miles.

We actually got a lot of rain on Saturday, which is really good for the area. There have only been two small snowstorms since we got here. Not sure how much off-roading we will be able to do for the next few days until things start to dry up some, but we will do what we can. There are still places to go and more people to meet, so the adventure here in Lupton continues.