Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our 2nd Christmas in the mission field is now history. We had a pretty full week. We started out on Monday morning with a District Meeting and luncheon. It is always fun to get together with the other couples. We have become close with one another because of the many things we share and the times we are able to be together.

We had to leave the District Meeting a little early because we had a dinner appointment in Houck at our Branch President's home. They were having their family Christmas dinner early because his wife had to work during Christmas.

We made several Christmas goodies and took them around to some of the families in our Branch on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was surprised that we were able to catch all of them at home, so we also got to visit with them.

We spent two days looking for our camera. I knew we had it when we were at the District Meeting, but couldn't remember having it since then. We searched and searched and no camera turned up. Most of the pictures on it I had already downloaded to the computer, so I didn't feel too bad about losing pictures. I just didn't want to have to buy another camera right now. Owen called some of the senior couples to see if it had been put in the wrong box. Our District Leader sent an email out to everyone on Christmas morning to tell them to keep an eye open for the Olsen's camera. Shortly after the email went out, we got a phone call from the Branch President. He wanted to know if we were missing anything. Owen told him we couldn't find our camera. He laughed and said that we had given him a camera for Christmas. We had put their gifts in a grocery bag when we went there on Monday and just put the whole bag under their little tree. Neither one of us can remember putting the camera in that bag. Oh well, at least the mystery of the missing camera was solved and we have our camera back.

We ended up having a white Christmas after all. It snowed about four inches on Christmas Day.

We had a dinner appointment on Christmas in Sanders. I wasn't too excited about driving in the snow, but we made it and were glad that we went.

We also went to a birthday party for a little one-year-old this week. She is such a cutie. You don't realize how fast the time has gone by until you realize that she wasn't even born when we first got here last year.

Of the two couples that live the closest to us, there are four of us who have December birthdays. So we got together for a birthday party last night, had dinner, visited, and played games.

It didn't look like we would have very many to church today. When we started the meeting, there were only 16 people there. But within twenty minutes, our numbers had increased to 38. Now if we can just get to the point where we start with 38 and then double that number in 20 minutes. That would be so great.

Tender moments sometimes come at the most unexpected times. Owen was sitting in the combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting, when he heard a baby crying out in the hall. He knew that the baby belonged to the little family he usually picks up for church, so he went out to check with them and see if everything was okay. He no sooner got out there, then the Primary President came hurrying out of the Primary room and went outside. When he checked on her, she was having a severe asthma attack. The inhaler she had wasn't helping, so he came over to the trailer and got an emergency inhaler and took over to her which helped to lessen her attack significantly. Had he not been prompted to go check on the baby, he wouldn't have known she was having trouble and been able to help her.

This week will bring new adventures, new acquaintances, and a brand new year. Wishing you all the best in the coming year – make it a good one.
A white Christmas in Lupton, AZ

Monday, December 22, 2014

I thought things got a little crazy and stressful at home around Christmas time, but for some reason I thought it would be less stressful out here in the mission field. I guess that is what I get for thinking.

We were busy last week. We had our Senior Missionary Christmas party in Chinle on Tuesday. We were each to bring a $5 gift. All the gifts were put on a long table with the men's on one end and women's on the other end. When it came time to play a game, everyone (around 60 of us) put their chairs in a big circle. Then everyone chose a gift. They played that game where every time the word 'right' or 'left' is used in the story, that is the direction you pass the gift you chose. When it came time for the game to end, much to our surprise, Owen and I both had our own gifts. What are the odds that you would end up with your own package. They weren't wrapped alike, placed on opposite ends of a long table, the two people did not choose their gifts at the same time, the people were sitting on chairs the exact number of people and 'left' or 'rights' away from us in order to end up with us. It is a good thing we had chosen for our gifts something we liked.

We had a nice snow storm on Wednesday. The area needs the moisture so bad, but it sure plays havoc on the roads. We went out to make a visit, thinking with 4-wheel drive we would be okay. Not so! That clay mud grabs hold of you, and you literally have no control over the vehicle. We were slipping and sliding all over the road. We still had about a mile to go; so needless to say, that visit got canceled.

Another time we were driving down a road in the dark. The tracks in the middle of the road were packed down and passable. We had to slide over to the edge of the road to let a car coming toward us pass. Again that good old mud grabbed the truck and we were being pulled further off into the gob. Owen was finally able to get control of the truck and pulled back up onto the road. Within a matter of seconds, we passed a huge deep ravine off the side of the road that has been eroded away. We didn't realize how close we were to it when we pulled over to let the car pass. So grateful that we didn't end up in the bottom of the ravine. Another tender mercy of the Lord.

The Chapter House had their community party on Friday night. It was fun to go and mingle with all of the people. They sure know how to feed you well.

Sunday the Branch had their Christmas dinner and passed out goodie bags for everyone and presents for the kids. They were pretty excited to get a present. It was interesting to watch the kids' different reactions. Some immediately opened their present, while others tucked it away to be opened on Christmas Day. We had over 50 people (no visitors) to Sacrament Meeting, and they stayed for both meetings and the dinner. That is the most we have had to our meetings since we came. There were some of our regular attenders that weren't there either. Looked so good to see the chapel nearly full.

Between preparing a talk for Sacrament Meeting, a Primary lesson, and a Seminary lesson I did a lot of studying and reading during the week. My brain has a hard time doing three major things in one day. But I survived.

Owen has been working with a young man. He is a member, but less active. He showed him how to make arrowheads and work with clay. He has now started making small bowls and Navajo nativities. So Owen took him and introduced him to our friend at The Nugget store. He was interested in buying all the nativities he could make. They are unique and very nice. This will give him a way to help supplement his income.

Our adventures in the Lupton community continue to be many and varied. Everyday we thank Heavenly Father for allowing us to serve in this part of His vineyard among some very special people-the Lamanites.

Window Rock District - Olsens, Claytons, Pres. & Sis. Batt, Rogers, Englands & Jet, Jones, Jensens

Gifts for the children of the Branch

Navajo Nativity bought at a trading post

Navajo Nativity made by our friend

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The weeks are flying by. Last week we celebrated our one-year anniversary of entering the MTC in Provo. On the 16th of this week, it will be our first-year anniversary for being residents of Lupton, AZ. We have met some very special people during that time. We have had challenges that we didn't know if we would be able to handle or not. We have had some very special times that have brought much joy into our lives and strengthened our testimonies. We have seen so many tender mercies of the Lord and little miracles that we have no doubt He is watching over us, guiding our footsteps, and helping us as we serve His mission.

We were thrilled this week to be able to set a baptismal date (Jan. 10th) for an investigator. We have a few items we need to finish up teaching him, but we can see him learning and growing in the Gospel each time we meet. He told us there was another senior couple here a few years ago that came by and tried to teach him. He said that he is embarrassed to admit it, but he was very antagonistic towards them. The Lord has softened his heart, and he is just like a sponge trying to absorb everything he can about the Gospel. He has been to church the last three Sundays. We didn't think he was coming today, but he showed up shortly after the meeting started. Our speakers today were a councilor in the Stake Presidency and his wife. They chose to share with us how they received their testimonies and how one can believe something to be true; but until they know it with their heart they are not truly converted. They talked about other things, too; all of which were exactly what the investigator needed to hear, and things we have also been discussing with him. I talked to the sister after the meeting and expressed how much I had enjoyed their talks and how they had been so good for the investigator. She told me that another couple had been assigned to speak in our Branch, but they had called them on Friday and asked if they would fill in for them because they wouldn't be able to make it on Sunday. Does the Lord have a hand in the details of our lives or was it all just by chance? For us, it was definitely another of the Lord's tender mercies.

We had another visit from one of our sons, his wife, and children. They are in-between their move from Oklahoma to California. They were able to stay for a couple of days. It was so good to see them and to spend some time with them. We showed them some of the sights around the area. We went to the Petrified Forest, but it started raining before we got there and even snowed on us on the way home. We didn't get to spend a lot of time checking out the different sites, but it was still a good day and just good to be together.

We never seem to lack for things to do. Sometimes we have a hard time trying to decide what to do when and squeezing everything in. But, somehow it all works out.

The excitement is starting to build for the upcoming Christmas. It will be our second Christmas in the mission field. What a wonderful time of year, and how blessed we are to be able to celebrate another Christmas among the Lamanite people.
Olsens at Window Rock Park

At the Petrified Forest

At the Visitors' Center at the Petrified Forest

Monday, December 8, 2014

Things are continuing to go well here in the LA area. Last week we had our son, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren stay with us on Sunday night. They left on Monday morning to drive on to their home in Oklahoma. I told them that we have enjoyed their weekly visits, and it would sure be nice if the visits could continue.

On Friday evening, one of my sisters and her husband came to our place. They stayed until after Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. Saturday morning we got up early and was at the Red Rock Park by Gallup by 7:00 a.m. to watch the hot air balloon festival. It was neat to be able to watch them prepare the balloons, inflate them, hook up the basket, and then lift off into the sky. They said that they had 90 balloonists register for the event, but only about 80 showed up to launch. This was our first experience seeing a hot air balloon festival like this. I thought it was pretty fascinating to see the process of how they launch a balloon and then to see so many balloons in the air at the same time.

We also had rain for a full day and a half. Lots and lots of rain that really play havoc on all the dirt roads. There wasn't a whole lot we could do in the rain or until the roads began to dry out. Our Branch President has even told us we are not to get on the roads when they are bad. So we took advantage of being shut in and worked on getting the Christmas presents ready for our kids and grand kids. It is nice to know that we at least have that much done towards Christmas. Now, hopefully, we won't forget to mail them.

Missionary work is still progressing, even though it was a little slow this week. We were able to spend time with some of the members, give a couple of lessons, have Family Home Evening, and prepare our lessons for Sunday. It is interesting to see how each week develops and how different it can be from the previous one. But, we continue to love it, love the people, and the time we are able to spend with them.
Red Rock Balloon Rally - getting the basket ready

rolling out the balloons

hooking the balloon to the basket

beginning to blow up the balloon

it's getting bigger

We have a lift-off.

A few of the balloons heading toward the red rocks

A large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of balloons

I think this is how I would feel if I went for a ride.

The variety added to the fun.

Many, many more balloons
Aliece and Fred enjoying the spectacular sight.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Another interesting week for the missionaries in Lupton, Arizona. We weren't able to do a lot of visiting because of the holiday, people not home, or busy with other things. Our investigators are out-of-town, so we weren't able to give them lessons. We did have several visits with Branch members and tried to nourish them and give them a gospel message.

We had a special Family Home Evening on Wednesday. We had ten people come, filled our front room full. Owen gave the lesson on the history of Thanksgiving, and then we had a wonderful visit with them.

Our Thanksgiving was really nice. We were invited to a member's place. He is such a good cook. His great uncle, dad, sister, and a nephew were there, plus a couple of other members from the Branch. Not everyone can say that they had Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims and Indians. I was in charge of desserts. So I fixed several pies. I thought I better take two cartons of Cool Whip in order to have enough. When it was time to go, Owen grabbed the cartons out of the fridge. I noticed that only one was being used and then put in the fridge until someone else wanted Cool Whip. When we were getting ready to go, I asked if the other Cool Whip bowl (still sitting on the table where I had put it) was empty. Our host politely informed me that it was not empty, and that it did contained left-overs or something rather than Cool Whip. Ooops! Sure enough it was left-overs (soon to be dog food), and thank goodness two cartons of Cool Whip had not been needed. Now you know I am a red-neck because I re-use the Cool Whip bowls to store things in.

We were on the road to Gallup eight times last week. Between getting the truck serviced, taking a family in so they could get some medicine for their baby, another person to the hospital to be with his young son, hauling wood, decorating the Seminary building for our District Meeting, picking up supplies to put skirting around an RV trailer, grocery shopping, etc., we can almost put the vehicle on automatic pilot. You would think we would be smart and combine the trips, but most of them weren't planned until the morning of, when we would get a text or a phone call.

One of our sons and his family were on their way from Utah to Oklahoma and stopped by and stayed with us Sunday night. Even though it was a short visit, we loved being able to visit with them, and especially the hugs. I guess I can use that as my excuse for not getting the blog written yesterday.

In LA the mission is going great, the people are great, the weather is great, and the scenery is great!
Anybody need a ride?

Petrified wood area about eight miles from here

Petrified log partially uncovered

My excuse for not doing the blog yesterday.