Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My post for this week is a little late, but for a good reason. We have had family visiting us. They came down on Saturday and left today. It has been 2 ½ years since Owen has seen them because they left on a mission to Kirtland, Ohio about 16 months before we came on our mission. Of course, when they got home last August, we were gone. I had taken a trip with my sisters out to visit with them, so it hadn't been that long for me. It was so great to see and visit with them again. We had a lot of catching up to do. We really enjoy having visits with family. We took a ride on Sunday and showed them some of the surrounding area (our elephant rocks, the balance rock, and Window Rock Park, etc.). The weather kind of put a crimp in some of the plans we wanted to do. We wanted to show them Chaco Canyon, but knew we couldn't do it if it rained or snowed. Sure enough, the weather obliged us; it rained and snowed both. However, they did get a glimpse of what our days can be like. On Monday, we got a phone call as we were finishing breakfast. A family wanted Elder Olsen to come and give their mother a special blessing. She is 92-years-old, bedridden, isn't able to eat or drink now, and they aren't sure how much longer she has to live. We took Annette and Dan with us – another Priesthood holder is always good to have around. It turned out to be a very spiritual experience, not only for the family, but for all of us as well.

We then showed them a few of the sights around Gallup, including the Nugget Store, and had lunch before we came home.

Our little Marianya's first birthday was also on Monday. So we had a cake and presents and went out to visit her family. Mari warmed up a bit to Annette and even gave her a quick love. She can sure melt your heart. From there we went out to give a PMG lesson, but the mother wasn't home. So we decided to wait for another day.

We were just getting supper ready, when we found our girls outside. The one girl and their brother needed a ride to Wide Ruins because they had missed the bus in the morning. It is a boarding school, so the bus only comes once a week. So we took off around seven at night and headed to Wide Ruins. Too bad it wasn't light so that Annette and Dan could see what that part of the Reservation is like.

We woke up to about five inches of snow this morning and it continued most of the morning. When it began to let up, they decided to head for home. We will just have to take a road trip after we get home, come back down, visit, and show them some of the other unique places.

The senior missionary couple in Sawmill had family coming down to visit last week. They took a wrong turn and ended up stuck in a snowbank on top of a mountain about 11:00 p.m. Thank goodness for the Lord's tender mercies: (1) they had good cell phone reception (which can be rare on the Reservation) with the couple the whole time; (2) the missionaries knew how to work coordinates, so they knew exactly where they were; (3) even when the missionaries got stuck going up the mountain to help their family, a truck came along; (4) the driver of the truck was a member, had being doing audits for some of the Branches, had a job where he checks the radar tower once every four months on top of the mountain where the family was stuck; and had decided that even though it was late, he would go check the tower since he was in the area; (6) the man had access to a snow cat and was able to get the missionaries unstuck as well as the vehicle on top of the mountain once they were able to jump the battery (fortunately one of the three vehicles had jumper cables); and (7) eventually all vehicles were able to make it down off the mountain safely. I don't believe all of those events were pure coincidences and neither do the families that were stuck. They finally made it to Sawmill at 3:00 a.m., very, very tired.

Last Wednesday we had two things in our planner – a trip to St. Michaels and Family Home Evening. While Owen took the member to St. Michaels to the Employment Center, I made the treat for Family Home Evening, two double batches of banana bread, and cleaned the trailer. He had only been back a short while when some members came by to visit. After they left, we went out to do some visiting. We were able to catch three different people in one stop (not bad). When we were heading home, the phone rang and a lady needed a ride to Gallup. Her grand daughter was in the hospital, her daughter needed some things, and she didn't have any way of getting the things to her. So we picked her up, dropped Owen off at home so he could cover Home Evening, and I took the lady to Gallup. By time I got back, Home Evening was all over with. Owen had been a little stressed, but I am sure he handled everything fine. He had had ten people come – six of whom are non-members. We had a full, busy day and felt good about the things we were able to accomplish. One thing we know for sure is that we definitely have to be flexible. We never know what is going to come up. Sometimes all it takes is one phone call, and our whole day can completely change.

While we were visiting at the Senior Citizen Center, a lady mentioned that their wood-burning stove smoked really bad and they couldn't use it very much. Later we checked out the stove and decided to run new stove pipe straight up and out the roof rather than the way they had it angled going out a window. Her son helped Owen, and they were able to get it done. Now they can have a fire in their stove to warm their little, humble home without worrying about breathing smoke, or worse, carbon monoxide.

We can't wait to see what the rest of this week has in store for us. The Lord continues to bless and help us as we serve.
view of our chapel and trailer from the mountain to the east

Annette and Dan @ Window Rock/Code Talker Park

Marianya's first birthday

Marianya's family and us

snowy sunset taken from our front porch looking south

snowy sunset looking south from our front porch

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that we have had all the new adventures that we as missionaries will have. From here on in, it will just be repeats with a few changes. But, again this week we had another brand new adventure. We went out to teach a lesson to the family we have been fellowshipping whose wife isn't a member. She wasn't home when we got there, but came shortly after. While she was driving down their lane, a bird hit the windshield and got hung up on the antennae. When she stopped, it fell to the ground. We discovered that it was a little owl about eight inches big. We put it in a box and put it in our truck. It was too late that night to do anything with it; so we said that if it was still alive in the morning, we would take it to a rehab. place. We found out the best place is the little zoo in Window Rock. The man told us that it is a Western Screech Owl. He couldn't find anything broken, just traumatized from the bump, and weak from a hard winter. We haven't heard if the little owl made it or not. We will have to check on it the next time we are up that way. Oh, by the way, the lesson with the family went really well; and we have another appointment to meet with them.

We have two other investigators that we are working with and continuing to teach, nourish, and are hoping one day to be able to see them baptized. They are both special men, and we have seen a lot of growth in them. The one has a nine-year-old son that he wants to have baptized, also. So we will see how things progress. We continue each week to meet with as many people as we can, (at least try to if they are home), give lessons, and do service. The weeks are really flying by.

We had a Senior Missionary Couple serving in Tohlakai, and the sister is blind. I think I have mentioned her before in our posts. She is the first blind person to serve a mission with a service dog. The Church, in the past, hasn't allowed service dogs to come on missions. It took over a year for them to finally get approval to come on a mission (as well as our Stake President and Mission President putting in a good word). We have enjoyed our friendship with them. She is truly an inspiration. She is always so positive, a fabulous cook, makes decorations, and can do just about everything. Her lack of sight certainly does not hold her back. Anyway, they finished their mission this week. We spent one whole day working with them, helping them pack, and getting them on their way home. They live in the West Jordan area there by Salt Lake. We hope we will be able to see and visit with them when we get home.

Slowly, one-by-one, the number of Window Rock District Senior Missionary Couples is becoming smaller. By the end of June the last five remaining couples will all have finished their missions and returned home. When we got here, there were eight Senior Missionary Couples serving in the Gallup Stake. When we leave, there will not be any Senior Couples left in the Gallup Stake. There is a great need for Senior Couples, not just here in the New Mexico Farmington Mission, but throughout the Church.

Our weather has been so nice for the last while. We are down in the twenties at night, but it warms up into the sixties during the day. I keep thinking the trees are soon going to start budding out. Today we had a centipede crawling on the sidewalk in front of the Church. I think it was about three or more inches long. They said that it was just a small one, but they are poisonous. I am not looking forward to seeing any bigger ones. Hopefully, they can't get in our home.

We look forward to whatever new adventures are in store for us this week. It is a privilege to be able to serve the Lord and the people here on the Navajo Reservation. There is no better place to be or to serve.
Our little Western Screech Owl

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Time to write the mission blog again. Sometimes the weeks go by so fast, it all seems like a blur. We had a member of our Branch pass away early Monday morning. She is the mother of our Primary President. She was 80-years-old, but had cancer. Her husband passed away only 14 months ago, so this was hard on the family. They held the funeral on Friday. A number of her children had gone on the Indian Placement Program, so they have been baptized; just not very many of them are active. They held the funeral at the Stake Center because our chapel is so small. It was a very nice funeral – just like a regular LDS one. Then we traveled back to Lupton because she was to be buried on their family property. A reception was held at the Chapter House after the burial. I helped out in the kitchen. When I got there, there were lots of chips, lots of soda, a potato salad, and two buckets of KFC chicken. I thought there is no way we are going to be able to feed all the family with just this much. It wasn't long, though, the door opened and people began pouring in with armloads of food – everything from more chicken and potato salad, ribs, meat loaf, sub sandwiches, several salads, pies, cookies, and even more sodas. I was totally amazed. They didn't just bring a medium-sized dish either; it was the big broiler-size aluminum pans heaped clear full. When there is a need, everyone is willing to do what they can to help. Special, special people!

We had our District Meeting this week in Blue Water (1 ½ hrs. east of Gallup). A former service missionary couple invited us out to their home. We were suppose to go on New Year's, but didn't make it because of the weather. So we finally made it on Groundhog Day. It was so nice to get together and visit with everyone. Our former District Leader called and talked to all of us while we were there. He is continuing to improve. We were all glad to hear from them.

Then we had to go back out that way on another day to Crown Point to help out a member. So between trips to Blue Water, Crown Point, Window Rock, and six trips to Gallup – we were on the road again.

We had some special teaching experiences this week also. We have been fellowshipping a family for quite some time. He is a member, but his wife isn't. We were able to meet with him and his ten-year-old son. We have another appointment this week; and, hopefully, his wife will also meet with us then. We are keeping our fingers crossed. We are doing Temple Prep. lessons with another guy. He started them quite a while ago, but never finished for one reason or another. Now he is determined he is going to finish and go to the temple before we go home. Again, keeping our fingers crossed.

We went to visit four different families one afternoon, but we were able to find only one of them home. I guess that is normal for missionary work.

On Saturday we met two other senior missionary couples at our local truck stop. They wanted to get together for a breakfast since this is the last week for one of the couples. We had a nice visit with them, but I now know not to go to Speedy's on a Saturday morning. Our second counselor works there, and we ended up getting asked to speak in Church the next day.

Owen is getting a reputation for being the community handyman. Last week he installed a new kitchen sink for an elderly couple. This week he installed a new water heater for another elderly person. They are so appreciative for his help. He is also working on installing new water pipes in a hogan for a little family.

A while ago, one of our good friends asked him if he would take her grandson and give him a grandfather's talk. She said that Owen is the closest to a grandfather he has. He was turning 11 on his birthday. So the two of them went off hiking in the hills, built a small fire, cooked their tin-foil dinners, visited, and explored. They both enjoyed the time they spent together. Poor Owen was exhausted, though, when he got home – nothing though but what a good nap would cure.

So we bring to a close another week of adventures in the mission field in Lupton, AZ, and we look forward to whatever the new week has in store for us.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

We experienced a roller coaster of emotions this week. We were thrilled that we were finally able to drive in to one of our investigator's place and visit with him. He is such a neat man. He is still progressing and still wants to be baptized.

On Monday we taught the first Temple Prep. lesson to another man and had a good visit with him. He invited us to come back later for dinner. So I hurried and made up a batch of bread, and we had delicious beef stew and fresh bread. Yum.m.m.m.

We had another surprise dinner invitation the next day, too. We had been discussing what to fix for dinner that evening as we headed out the door to go make a visit. Much to our surprise, the people invited us to stay for a chicken dinner. There are many ways the missionaries receive blessings as they do the work of the Lord.

We each had dentist appointments this week. Glad those are over with. But, then I also went to the doctor to get some antibiotics for an infection. More trips to Gallup. I think we could about put our vehicle on automatic pilot, we have been over that road so much.

When visiting with one of our dear sisters, we found out she has had quite the month. Her disabled sister fell on the ice and broke her arm. Her other sister who came everyday to help out with their mother and sister had to have her shoulder operated on and isn't able to do much for the next six weeks. Then a wolf got into her sheep pen and killed twelve of her pregnant ewes. Her sheep are just like family to her, so that was a real tragedy. She had a two-day-old bummer lamb in a box in her home. Brought back memories of when Dad use to bring new-born lambs to the house to warm them up and to take care of them.

More sad news we received this week was that our District Leader and his wife would be returning to Idaho Falls, unable to finish their mission. He is the one I mentioned in the last letter that had gall bladder surgery. We heard that he developed septic shock and they had a hard time stabilizing him. Pres. Batt (mission president) said that he needed more extensive care than he could get in Zuni, Gallup, or Farmington. So they left from Farmington, without returning to Zuni for their motor home or any belongings. Their family will see that the motor home gets back to Idaho Falls for them. It was hard for them to leave so suddenly and not be able to see closure to any of the things they were working on, nor to tell anyone 'good-bye' (the elderly missionaries or all their friends in Zuni). We will miss them very much. They are a great couple, and we pray that he will get the care he needs and things will work out for them.

We woke up on Friday to snow and rain – which continued most of the day, just as the roads were starting to dry out and become passable. The moisture is so badly needed for this area, if we could just skip over the muddy days (or roads).

We had a wonderful experience this weekend of taking three young ladies to the Albuquerque Temple to do baptisms. We debated about going because of the bad weather the day before, but decided to give it a try. The roads were fine all the way. When we got to the Temple, they told us that Gallup Stake had called and canceled their baptism appointment because of the weather the day before. Lupton Branch never got that word. So they hurriedly rounded up workers to help us so that the girls could still have the experience. The Matron of the Temple even helped pass out the jumpsuits to the girls. Since Owen was the only Priesthood holder with our group, he was able to do all of the baptizing and also confirmations. I told the girls afterward that because of them there are 30 people in heaven today that are celebrating because they were finally able to receive their baptism ordinance.

I was walking back to the trailer from the church one evening in the dark. I was still on the pavers, but I could hear someone or something walking on the rocks. I stopped and wondered whether to run back to the church where Owen was (but it was locked), or make a dash for the house. Before I could make up my mind, I felt something lick my hand. What a relief to see our old 'res' dog that comes by occasionally to visit.

The work of the Lord continues to move forward and progress, and we are thankful to be a part of it here in the Lupton area.
This is one of the roads we drive on - two days after the storm. 

The road is being washed away - again.

Another good road.  It takes forever for the clay to dry out. 
You are lucky if your road is sandy.  So glad we don't have
to drive through that every day.

Our special young ladies at the ABQ Temple

Our 'Res' (Reservation) dog paying us a visit.