Sunday, June 7, 2015

      We have just completed our last week of elderly missionaries in the New Mexico Farmington Mission. It has been harder than I ever imagined it would be. I hate good-byes anyway, and then to have to say it to so many people whom you have come to love just like our own family. Some of them we might never see again. We certainly hope that we will, but who knows what the future holds.
We started out the week with out last District Meeting and a dinner. There are only three couples left now in the Window Rock District. There is a CES couple coming in the middle of June, but the Rogers go home the end of June. So then the District will be down to two couples. Quite a change from the ten couples when we came.
     We tried to visit as many people as we could this week. We had two days of rain, so that prevented us from getting to see some of them. We stopped at the Senior Center to see and visit with them one last time. We have mentioned time and time again how glad we are that we were able to spend time with them, getting to know them, helping them with projects, and developing special friendships.
     We had a good turn-out to our last Family Home Evening. The core group is very interested in keeping it going each week. So they exchanged phone numbers, made some assignments, and we all had a good visit with one another.  Our Wednesdays won't ever be the same.
     In among all our comings and goings, we had to get both vehicles serviced, pack up boxes, meet with President Batt one last time so Owen could give him one of his paintings, pack more boxes, do laundry, clean the trailer, pack & pack some more with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts.
     Saturday when we weren't packing, we went to a reception for a young lady who graduated from high school and is going to be going to college in the fall. Then we went to a birthday party for a little one-year-old whom we have become quite attached to. His birthday isn't until the 13th, but they wanted to have the party early so we could be there.
     We have had several people come by the trailer to say their good-byes and visit with us. I think the word has definitely gotten out that the Olsens are going to be going home.
     Today was our last Sunday as missionaries in the Lupton area. Since it was Fast Sunday, we had a pot luck dinner after the meetings. It was delicious Navajo tacos – so yummy. They had a special cake for us. Some had even brought gifts for us. It was very humbling to be on the receiving end of all that special attention. It was nearly two o'clock by time we got home from Church (the meetings end at 12:00 noon). So it was a very special day for us, and we'll cherish all the memories of our wonderful little Lupton Branch.
     We have loved serving here in the Lupton area. We know that this is the place we were suppose to be. The Lord has guided us every step of the way and led us to people who were prepared to hear the gospel; or to people who needed our help in some way, even if it was nothing more than a visit.

     So tomorrow this chapter of our lives will come to a close, and we will move on to the next chapter and whatever adventures are in store for us.
Our Lupton rug weaver - she does beautiful work.

Everything is so green and pretty - south of Lupton

Our last pot luck dinner with the Branch - a special cake

In order to be stylin' you need to have an apron from
a Blue Bird flour sack.

Corn grinding stones given to us

A special rug made by a special young lady.

Marianya and her mama

Marianya's little brother, Sasuke, with us.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

      Today is the first day of our last full week in the mission field. It does not seem real. These last six months have gone by so fast. It has truly been a great experience.
      We were thrilled to be able to witness another baptism on Saturday. We were able to finish the discussions with her last week, schedule her interview with the Zone Leaders from Gallup, and then plan the baptism program. Owen was privileged to be able to perform the ordinance. He had the Branch President's son in the water to help, though, because of problems with her back and knees. She has commented several times on how happy she is. Today she was confirmed. During the combined meeting, she said that she has been looking for the true church her whole life, and now she has found it. She is 73-years-old. The whole Branch is excited to have her join the “family.” We have been able to see the benefits of having members involved in the missionary work. She came to Family Home Evenings and got to know some of the branch members; then when she came to church, she already had friends she knew and they continued to welcome her and fellowship her. One of the guys in our Home Evening group told us that he would talk to her and encourage her to be baptized every time he saw her. We didn't know he was doing this because their conversations were in Navajo. I am sure he had an influence on her decision to be baptized.
      We had a pot-luck barbecue for Family Home Evening this week. For a while it looked like all we would have to eat would be chips and drinks. They told us not to worry about furnishing anything, because they would take care of it. I decided to fix a dessert and the fixings (lettuce, etc.) for the hamburgers anyway. As luck would have it with a pot luck, only eight hamburger patties showed up and no buns. By time everyone finally showed up, however, we had plenty of food (including hot dogs). We had 30 people come, and I think it was an enjoyable evening for everyone there. I know we enjoyed it.

      We are still making visits and fellow shipping people in our area, giving Temple Prep. lessons to a man, doing service, and helping out wherever we can. We have truly been blessed and seen and felt so many tender mercies. Life is good!
Special baptismal day

An old rock hogan

Rocks that defy gravity

Gravity-defying rocks

Clock gift from our special friends

The Navajos' talents never cease to amaze us.

More gifts from special friends

Another gift - bracelet made using the sand-casting method

Monday, May 25, 2015

      The week started out at a fast pace and only picked up steam as it went on. I think our dam has begun to leak. This has been an emotional week for us. I mentioned in the last post about the Seminary Graduation on Sunday. Monday was our District Meeting. We went to St. Michaels early so that Sis. Rogers and I could do some decorating. It was the Jensens last District Meeting and also Sis. Jensen's birthday. What a fun evening we had. We visited, laughed, shed a few tears, and no one was in a big hurry to go home. The Jensens have been making poster-board-size cards for each of the couples as they go home. I knew I couldn't compete with their talent, so I made up 'Post-Missionary Survival Kits' for each of them. They surprised the Rogers and us and had our cards made up. We had been thinking, since they were going home before us, that we wouldn't get a card. All-in-all, it was great to be together. District Meetings and our association with such wonderful couples is definitely something we will miss.
      Marianya's daddy had his baptismal interview with the Zone leaders and passed. So we planned his baptism for Thursday evening, the 21st. We wanted to do it on Saturday, but with all the graduations going on, it was hard to squeeze it in. Owen had the privilege of baptizing him. The program turned out really nice. I figured that 15 people would be the most we would have attend. To my pleasant surprise, we had 24 people show up. I took care of Marianya during part of the program so that her parents could enjoy the program without worrying about her making too much noise or getting restless.
      The Senior Citizen Center invited us to their Mother's Day/Father's Day dinner. Little did we know it was also a farewell party for us. We had a delicious dinner. Several expressed their thanks to us for the things we have done to help them, and that they wished we didn't have to leave. Then they also gave us several gifts including a Pendleton robe for Owen and a Pendleton shawl for me. They were machine embroidered with “Thank you” (in Navajo) and then our names. More waterworks. The time we have spent at the Center has been one of the highlights of our mission. We have fallen in love with them. One lady thanked us for accepting them, for coming to see them, and sitting down and having lunch with them. That surprised me because I have had the very same feelings towards them – grateful for their acceptance of us and that they would want us to join them for their activities and lunches. I also found out that one of them is a sister to a lady we know who lives in Castle Dale. Small world.
      The leak in our dam got even worse at our Home Evening group. We had twelve people come, two of whom are non-members. We tried to keep to the lesson, but somehow the topic kept reverting back to the Olsens leaving. Talk about mixed emotions.
      We went out to an investigator's home on Friday and finished up the discussions with her. We have asked her before about being baptized, but she always said she wanted to wait a while. That day Owen told her that we would be sure to leave her name for the next missionaries so they could contact her. She got emotional and said she wanted to be baptized while we are here. That took us by surprise. So, we will be having another baptism in the very near future. She has been coming to church on a regular basis since we first met with her; and she won't miss the Family Home Evening group, even if she has to come late because of her work. She is an aunt to the man that was baptized a couple of weeks ago. Quite a special lady.
      We offered to do the chores (feed the sheep and dogs) this weekend for a guy in Oak Springs. He had a very old dog who had gone deaf. About a week ago, the dog was sleeping under the truck, and his wife got in the truck to go to work and ran over the dog. It didn't seem to be hurt really bad, so he thought it would be okay. But as the days went on, it only got worse. So he asked Owen if he would put it to sleep for him when we were there doing chores. That was how the morning of our 45th wedding anniversary began. We did end the day, however, with a nice dinner at Golden Corral in Gallup.

      One of our sons and his family came down and loaded up another pickup load of our stuff to take home. So we should be pretty well set as these last few days of our mission in LA rapidly come to a close.
Marianya's family

Special friends at the Senior Center

Owen modeling his robe

Doll made by Anna

Elder Jensen with E/S Roger's card

E/S Jensen with E/S Olsen's card

E/S Jensen with "Post-Missionary Survival Kits"

Elder Olsen's robe

Sister Olsen's shawl

Sunday, May 17, 2015

     We were fortunate to have my sister and brother-in-law come down this week for a visit. Actually, the real reason they came was to take a load of our 'stuff' back to Cleveland. We had been going through and sorting things, so we had several boxes packed for them. We decided to take time on Tuesday and show them Chaco Canyon. It is a very fascinating place – highly recommended if you are ever in the area and it isn't raining. When we got home from there, we loaded up their little truck with the boxes, plus three more bins, and a bunch of odds and ends. You would think that should be the bulk of our stuff. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of go. The fun thing is going to be trying to find a place for it all when we get home.
     They headed for home on Wednesday morning, and we picked up two ladies and headed for Holbrook to take them to the chiropractor. We enjoyed the ride down and back and the visiting with them. It was our Marys again, and they do make it a fun trip. The one told us that it was her birthday. So we fixed up a special treat and a gift for her when she came to Family Home Evening.
The Branch President called just as we were starting Home Evening and invited us to his place to help celebrate his son's 20th birthday.  Definitely a night for treats and special birthdays.
     We got to spend some time with our little Marianya this week. She is walking now.  At Family Home Evening she walked back and forth across the kitchen many, many times. Then another day, it was across the front room, from couch to couch over and over again. It is fun to watch her. We have finished up the missionary discussions with her daddy, so we will see what happens now.
     We have had our share of typical spring weather. It will be really warm and nice one day; then another day, there will be a hard wind blowing and several rainstorms throughout the day. Saturday, we woke up to a snowstorm. Course, when it started to warm up, it turned to rain. The District had planned a trip to the Toadlena/Two Gray Hills Rug Museum and Trading Post. The trader there shared his story of how he came to be at the Trading Post and other very interesting information about the area and the master weavers. One of the master weavers was demonstrating carding and weaving, It is neat to watch and see how they make their patterns in the rugs. That is something I don't think I could ever get the hang of; and yet, they make it look easy. Afterward, they fed us a delicious Navajo taco lunch.
     We bought a rug the first time we visited, and the lady that wove it was working this time when we were there. So she found a rug that was similar to ours, and we had our picture taken with her. It was a cold, rainy day; but we didn't notice it because we were in the Trading Post. It was also a very enjoyable day. That was our last excursion with the Jensens because they are now short-timers.
     Today we attended Seminary Graduation for the Gallup Stake. They had a very nice program, recognized the eight seniors that received their four-year diplomas, and the 44 other students that completed the course of study for the year. I have enjoyed being able to do Seminary this year and learned a lot about the Doctrine & Covenants. It has taken a lot of time to prepare the lessons; but it has been worth it.
     When we weren't on the road, we were busy making visits and helping out the people in our area.

With all our goings and comings, you wonder when do we do missionary work? It is all part of missionary work for a senior couple. Their tasks are many and varied. Even within our District, each couple's missionary experiences will be different from another. We just take each day as it comes, and try to get as much done as possible before we call it day; and then we start all over the next day. Such is life in LA.
We weren't the only visitors at Chaco Canyon.

Smile!  You're on camera.

Mari's favorite thing to do is empty
Elder Olsen's shirt pocket

See how she has grown!

The master weaver - showing us how she cards
the wool to blend the colors together.  Her
rug is on the loom behind her.
Our District at the Rug Museum/Trading Post.
In the middle is Mark & Linda who run the Museum/ Trading Post.
The master weaver is on the right.
She is the daughter of the master weaver and wove
the rug that we previously bought.

This is a feather fan that Mari's mother made
for us.  It would be used during their dances
and ceremonies.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

     Another good week in the lives of the missionaries in Lupton, AZ. We were able to meet with several people throughout the week. We needed to get with our baptismal candidate and finalize his baptismal program. It rained good for two days; but finally, we just said we have to go to his place even if we have to walk in. Oh my, driving on these clay roads when they are muddy can be a real challenge – even with four-wheel drive. The mud pretty well takes you wherever it wants you to go. I just close my eyes, hang on, and say a prayer that we won't get stuck. When we got to his place, his truck was gone. You mean we tackled that mud for nothing? But luck was on our side. His wife had driven the truck to work, so he was home after all. Friday was the special day that we have been anticipating for months. He was baptized, and we're so thrilled to see it finally happen. Owen got to baptize him. He talked in the program and said that he had been waiting half of his life for this special event (he is 51-years-old.) He is the first in his family to be baptized, so who knows what his example and the future will bring. His wife has expressed an interest in learning more especially after his baptism, and we have been working with and teaching one of his aunts. Great things could be in store for this special family.
     This was not a good week for my glasses. On Tuesday, the nose bridge broke. So we headed to Gallup to see if we could get them fixed. No one had frames that would fit the lenses, but they suggested that we get them soldered. So after checking out three more places, we finally found a place that could solder them. Yeah, I have my glasses back again. Then on Thursday night, I was sitting at the computer and one of the lenses and a screw lit in my lap. Talk about frustrating. Back to Gallup we go to get the glasses fixed again. I hope that is it for now, because I can't really do much without my spectacles.
      Some of the senior missionary couples were planning on getting together on Saturday and making a trip to Chaco Canyon. The weather did not cooperate. You have to drive 20 miles on a dirt road to get to it. They had snow in Gallup Friday night, and it was cold, windy, and rainy all day on Saturday. So they put together a plan B, and we went to the Petrified Forest instead. Main reason for choosing there is that it is paved roads all the way, even in the Park. The wild flowers were out in abundance. I don't think I have ever seen that many wild flowers. I think everyone had an enjoyable time, in spite of the cold wind.

     We only had one hour of meetings today so the members could spend the rest of the day with their families. We had the Branch President (his wife had to work) and his son, and one of our girls have lunch with us. Sure enjoy visiting with them. We are going to miss the dear friends that we have made here. But since we aren't really that far away, I am sure we will be coming back for an occasional visit.
glorious baptismal day

Before baptism with wife

That is wind-driven hail piled up along our trailer.

The hail riddled the leaves off the top of the trees.
That green is not grass, but leaf pieces.

petrified wood among the wild flowers

More wildflowers

Sunday, May 3, 2015

     The week started out kind of slow, but sure picked up momentum with each passing day. Our car needed some TLC. So in one day, we made four trips to Gallup – one first thing in the morning to take the car to the mechanic, followed by the truck so we would have a way home; another trip at mid-day to get a hair cut; then back again later to pick the car up. That would be three trips with the truck and one with the car. But, at least the car is back in good shape again. We had already made a trip to Gallup on Monday to do shopping (not knowing how many times we would be going later on in the week).
     Our good friend celebrated his birthday this week, so we treated his father and him to lunch – in Gallup, of course.
     Owen took another senior elder with him and went to Holbrook for another adjustment on his back. It is doing much better now. The elder wanted to have the doctor check his shoulder for him. While they were eating lunch, an older gentleman came into the establishment. He stopped and looked at them and their badges. He made the comment, “It seems like the missionaries have been getting younger and younger; but now that I see you two, I don't know what to think.”
     They hadn't taken their wives with them because I had already made arrangements to go to the Senior Center to demonstrate how to make slippers. So I took the other sister with me while our guys went to Holbrook. I hope that some of the ladies at the Center will make slippers either for themselves, their family, or to sell at the flea market and get a little extra income.
     We tried all week to visit with one of our investigators, but things just kept getting in the way. Not only were we trying to visit with him, but we had to keep changing the time for his baptismal interview. Finally, today everything lined up and he met with the Zone Leaders, had his interview, and passed! This has been a long time coming, so we are really thrilled to know that he is this close to baptism. Satan and his minions have intervened time and time again to stop him from getting baptized. The Branch President feels that there are special things in store for him because of all the trials he has had to overcome in order to get this far.
     Our Senior Citizen Center sponsored a party on Friday to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Older American Act. They invited several other chapters to join in the fun. There were some chapters that traveled about two hours in big vans to get to Lupton. I bet there were around 200 people there. We went down early and helped them get things set up. They had speakers, various activities, and served a delicious lunch. It was so neat to watch the interaction between the elderly. You could tell they were excited to be there and to see some of the people they hadn't seen for years. They had all dressed up for the party-complete with their gorgeous turquoise or coral jewelry. As part of the entertainment, they had small groups of Navajos that would sing a song accompanied by a small drum. It wasn't long before the beat of the music got to them, and several couples starting dancing in a circle. Some of the elderly could hardly move, but they did their best to move to the music. It was a special day to recognize some of the elderly and honor them. The Center gave out Certificates of Appreciation, and we were honored to receive one to thank us for the times we have volunteered there.

     Saturday we left at 5:30 in the morning with four youth (3 girls and a boy) to go to the Albuquerque Temple so they could do baptisms for the dead. I thought they might sleep part of the way since we had an early start. Foolish me! They didn't sleep, and neither would they let me. It seemed like every time I closed my eyes, someone would tickle me on the neck, or I would hear a very quiet whisper calling my name. They laughed, visited, laughed, played games, and laughed some more. It is neat to see these special young people enter the temple and perform this ordinance. It was sad, too, knowing this would be our last time to experience this with them. All we can do is encourage them to continue to take advantage of every opportunity they have to go to the temple and to feel of the Lord's spirit there. Hopefully, this will help them want to live worthy of the temple throughout their lives. They are such special youth and we pray for the best for them.
Banner recognizing Older American Act

Some of the seniors

Senior dancers

Navajo male singers

Some of our special seniors - her gorgeous squash blossom necklace is
rug patterns done in bead work and silver 

Female Navajo singers

More dancers

Elder of the Year

Youth @ ABQ Temple

Sunday, April 26, 2015

     Another week full of new adventures here in our Lupton area. I guess the big news for the Navajo Nation is that they finally have elected a president – some five months after the fact. It has been quite the roller coaster with the election being on, then off again, numerous injunctions filed people's jobs at stake, and a lot of apathy because the process drug out so long. They just extended the term of the current presidency until the matter could be sorted out. Things should settle down a lot now, and everyone is anxious to see how the new president will handle things.
     One of our dear members passed away last Sunday with her funeral on Thursday. She was 92-years-old. We attended her 91st birthday party last year shortly after we got here. She had 13 children (10 boys and 3 girls). Three of the boys and one girl have already passed away. Most of her family still live in this area. They weren't able to hold the donation meeting at the Chapter House because of the election. Then they couldn't hold the funeral in the Stake Center because they had contracted to have the carpets cleaned on Wednesday and Thursday. The Chapter House was having a meeting on Thursday so it wasn't available again for the reception after the funeral. As if the family didn't have enough stress, they had to deal with all those stumbling blocks. Finally they decided to hold the funeral at the mortuary, and the donation and reception meetings at one of the brother's homes. They borrowed the tables and chairs from our church which helped out a lot. In spite of all the hitches, things seemed to work out, and they had a very nice LDS funeral for her.
     We took some food out to the family on Tuesday. One of the granddaughters-in-law followed us out to the truck as we were leaving. She asked if Elder Olsen could give her a blessing. She told us that her sister had had a baby earlier in the day, and it had passed away. She was having a hard time dealing with it all. Owen called the senior couple in St. Michaels and made arrangements for them to go to the hospital and give the sister a blessing. Then he gave her a blessing. I guess when the missionaries got to the hospital there were five other family members there, and they were able to give them all blessings also. The family also asked the missionaries to give a prayer and a blessing at the graveside service for the baby. It is pretty cool to see the faith that the people (even non-members and others less active) have in the power of the Priesthood.
     We had to make two trips to Wide Ruins this week to take kids to school. Then several trips to Gallup and a trip to St. Michaels for our District Meeting. It seems strange to have only four couples at the District Meeting. We can all fit around one round table in the District Leader's front room. We enjoy the association we have with them; however, three of us are short-timers. Doesn't seem possible, but it is true. The days are speeding by, and we still have lots we want to get done.
     We were able to finish the fourth missionary discussion with three of the investigators this week. So we will keep nourishing them and encouraging them towards baptism. Hopefully, we will be able to see that happen before our time is over.
     Owen gave an art lesson to an eleven-year-old this week. He helped him paint a mountain scene. He was pretty excited. Owen has had to break out his paints and brushes because several people have asked for one of his paintings. I guess we could say he is becoming famous.
     We went out to a member's home yesterday to observe part of a purification ceremony for her twelve-year-old daughter. It goes for four days. The schools will excuse the girls because they realize the importance of the ceremony. She has to run several times a day and do various skills (such as killing and preparing a sheep, cook, make fry bread, and other skills that a Navajo woman is expected to do). She is dressed in a velvet dress and has turquoise jewelry on that anyone who wants a blessing will loan to her for this time. On the first day, a big pit (4 feet around and about 8 inches deep) is dug. They start a fire in it and keep it going day and night for the four days. The girl has to grind corn (on a stone), and then an older woman will help her make a cake batter (gallons of it). On the last day, the ashes are removed from the pit. Then they line it with wet corn husks and foil. The cake batter is poured into the pit. Then they cover the batter with more corn husks and foil, and build another fire on top of it. The cake will cook in the pit over night. On the last night, the medicine man comes to the hogan. The girl stays up all night while the medicine sings songs and gives her blessings. There is a lot more to the ceremony and a lot more symbolism involved. We only saw a small fraction of it. Pretty interesting. Relatives and friends will come from far and wide to show their support for the young lady.

     So the missionary work continues to go forth bringing with it new adventures along the way.
Toadlena Trading Post/Rug Museum

A Master Weaver

Round rugs are a new design 

An intricate woven rug

Our Two Gray Hills rug

The old stove in the trading post 
Our Lupton rug being woven

A new paint job for Lupton's storage building

The honored young lady