Sunday, March 22, 2015

We were able to spend some time this week doing service projects. One lady said that she would like Owen to check her home for her. When Owen checked it out, the home was just set on rocks for the foundation. The rain water is eroding away one corner and causing it to sink. He put some cement in that area to try and stop the eroding. We shall see if it works. Another day we went and put hand rails on a lady's porch. She has been having equilibrium problems and was very nervous about going down her front steps. She was so happy to get the hand rails. She walked up and down the steps several times with a big grin on her face. She said she was going to do that all day long because it felt so good to have the hand rails there. Another day Owen went down to the Chapter House, and helped out at the community garden and planted some fruit trees in the area. All of these projects were good and needed to be done. The bad thing is, Owen's back is complaining about the physical labor that he is not use to doing.

We had the opportunity last Monday to go rock hunting with the Senior Couple at Sawmill. There is an area up on their mesa where there is a lot of petrified wood. It was fun to walk around and try to find the prettiest rocks. They were all sizes – little to huge. It was a nice outing, and we enjoyed the time we spent with them. They will be finishing up their mission in two weeks and heading back to Alaska.

We have a member that has volunteered to help us clean the church. That will be good to have the extra help. After all, someone is going to have to do it when we are gone.

One of the members shared an experience she and her daughter had had. They needed to go to Gallup to get groceries. They got in their van, put on their seat belts, and she started the van. She said that a feeling just came over her that they should take the car. Which they did. They hadn't gone very far on I-40 when a semi-truck passed them. About the time the truck pulled back into her lane, she saw a large metal bar thing fall off the truck and bounced onto the road. She ended up driving over the bar, which flattened three of her tires. Now her steering wheel locked up and she was trying to steer off the freeway. She saw another semi-truck coming up behind her; it also ran over the bar and flattened some of its tires. He almost ran into the back of her car before he could get his rig stopped. She knows that if they had been in the van, they would have rolled when she hit the bar. Thank goodness she listened to the Spirit prompting her to take the car.

We went to a play last night in Gallup. Students from five middle and high schools in Gallup got together and did the play, “Seussical”. They did a pretty good job with it. It has been awhile since we have been to a play, so it was nice to do something different.

We should be starting the missionary lessons with a new investigator this week, plus continuing to teach our other ones. We have a young man that is just about finished with the Temple Prep. lessons and is looking forward to being able to go to the temple. We continue to teach, nourish, and help out the people in our area. The weeks are flying by and there is always much that needs to be done. That is good; no, that is bad because there are more and more things we need to do and less and less time to do them all.
Lupton Teapot formation
Our new little Sasuke

gathering petrified wood

view of the area where the petrified wood is found

a big chunk of petrified wood

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The adventures continue to keep coming, and we continue to be stretched in our efforts to do all that is expected of us.

I can remember thinking a couple of months ago that we hadn't been involved in any funerals in the time we have been here. That is a good thing, of course. Well, that was soon to change. Within the last month, we have now had three funerals – two of which were this week. Now I have to be careful what I think because it just might come to pass.

At the first funeral, the family asked Owen to do the dedication of the grave, which went well.

Our phone rang at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning (We are starting to go into panic mode if the phone rings early like that.) It was the Branch President. His wife's aunt had passed away the week before. The family had asked him to do the funeral service. They represent several different religions. They had had an uncle's funeral the week before that had been disappointing to them. Pres. Tom told them he would do the service, but it had to be the LDS way. He was calling to ask Owen to give a talk on the Plan of Salvation at the funeral and for me to lead the singing. We would need to be in Gallup by 9:30. We quickly shifted into high gear, made it there in time, and Owen did a good job on his talk. I had already typed, and ran off a written copy of the service for the audience to have.

Later in the afternoon when we were just leaving the house to go to St. Michaels, the phone rang. It was Pres. Tom again, and he asked us to come to the Chapter House. When we got there, he introduced us to man from Albuquerque. His wife had passed away on Sunday. Since she was from Lupton, they wanted to have the funeral and burial here in Lupton. Pres. Tom had to work on Saturday, so he basically turned all the arrangements over to us, after he asked Owen to give the main talk again.

The first councilor would be here to conduct the meeting, etc., but the bulk of everything else was up to us. We met with the husband and his sister-in-law and got the necessary information, and I again typed up a program for the services. Owen worked on his talk and then worked on his talk some more. He was nervous about giving it to an audience from different religions. The husband was a member of the Church and his wife and two of their children had joined the Church in November 2013, so they were LDS, but the majority of the family members were not.

It was a first for the little chapel in Lupton. They had never held a funeral in this building before. The other funerals have all been held in Gallup at the Stake Center because of the number of people who would be attending. I guess there is a first time for everything. We fretted and worried about it, cleaned the church from top to bottom (with the help of a member), and set up extra chairs. Our chapel normally has 55 chairs, so we added more chairs in the chapel, and also opened up the divider door to the kitchen and Young Women's room and put extra chairs in there. Then we worried about parking because our parking lot is quite small.

When they brought the casket, it wouldn't fit through the classroom door where they were going to hold the viewing. So they ended up taking the door off in order for it to fit.

After all was said and done, and in spite of all our worries, everything worked out really well. They had a nice program, there was room for everyone to sit and even park. The family has thanked us a number of times for our help and for how nice everything turned out. They buried her here in Lupton on their family plot. It is a beautiful setting – in a small valley with red rock cliffs on both sides.

The Chapter had taken their backhoe out on Friday and dug the grave, but no one was around on Saturday to fill it back in. So the family grabbed their shovels and did it themselves.

In between funeral arrangements, we were able to visit with several families and even got to hold Marianya's new little brother, Sasuke.

We were excited to see one of the non-members that has been coming to Home Evening come to Church today. There is lots of work for us to do – people to visit and places to go.

Looking forward to another new week and whatever adventures the Lord has in store for us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

We had another busy week. Last Sunday afternoon, my brother and his wife from Washington State came for a visit. It was good to have the chance to visit with them and catch up on each others' news. On Sunday evening, since the weather was rainy and cold, we were trying to decide what to do on Monday. We decided to wait and see what the weather was like in the morning. Well, we got an early morning phone call (again) and ended up revamping our plans. A member needed help getting her mother to the doctor in Gallup. So we decided to divide and conquer. I would take the family members and show them around a bit, and Owen would take the member and her mother to Gallup.

We rode over to Ganado to the Hubbell Trading Post. It was established back in the 1870's and is still a working trading post, but is also a National Historic Site. It is a neat place to visit. Then we went over to the Window Rock Park so they could have their picture taken with the Code Talker Monument and the Window Rock arch. From there we went to the Nugget Store in Gallup. Imagine our surprise when we pulled up and there was a gray van with a Utah license plate in the parking lot. Owen looked a little surprised when we came walking in (busted). Needless to say, the Nugget is his favorite place in Gallup.  After we all got back home, we decided to take a ride out towards the south mesa and show them around that area. But it was starting to rain again, so we didn't venture too far. They had to leave on Tuesday morning, but we sure enjoyed our visit with them.

We had another fantastic Family Home Evening this week. One sister brought a big bowl of spaghetti and a green salad, and a brother brought some garlic bread. So we were able to have dinner, a lesson, and then a treat. We had five non-members in attendance – an investigator we are working with, his wife, a son, a grandson, and an aunt. They are all special people and seemed interested in what we had to say. We will do more contact work with them and see what happens. The members have expressed an interest in keeping the Family Home Evening group going even after we leave for home. I sure hope they are able to do so. It is a chance for them to get together, share a gospel message, and visit. Those that have been attending have developed a special friendship with each other.

Friday morning we got another one of our early morning calls (text message). Our little Marianya's mother was in the hospital in labor on her birthday, and they wanted us to come and get Marianya. Pretty special birthday present, wouldn't you say. We hurried and got ready and headed out; but by time we got there, the baby had been delivered. So now Marianya has a new little brother. We brought Marianya home with us. They thought they would be coming home on Saturday, but since the baby was two weeks early and wasn't gaining weight, they wanted to keep them until Monday. We ended up having Marianya stay with us until Sunday afternoon when her Daddy came and picked her up. So we had the opportunity to be grandparents for nearly three days. She is such a sweet little girl. We didn't have many problems, and for being just over a year old, she seemed to adjust to these two old people quite well. She wouldn't leave our badges alone, so we finally just took them off. She was always emptying Owen's shirt pocket, too. I think the people at church today were a little surprised to see Elder and Sister Olsen with a little girl. Owen had to do the Sacrament and I had to lead the singing, so the Branch President's wife held her for the first part of the meeting. She is such an easy going little girl and didn't seem to mind being held by a stranger. We would get several texts a day from her mother checking on her and telling us to give her hugs and kisses – like we needed to be told. Needless to say, our house seems extra quiet now that she is gone.

In our monthly Mission Newsletter, there were listed 18 young missionaries that had gone home, and only one new elder came out. But, he is a Visa waiter and is leaving this week. Sure glad we don't have the responsibility and stress that the Mission President does. He has had to make a lot of transfers and close down some areas. Hopefully, things will pick up again after school gets out.

Who knows what adventures await us this week. Time is really starting to fly by. We are down to only three months left. Where has the time gone?
Hall's visit to Window Rock Park

Owen walking from a home after working on the chimney-
didn't want to drive through the mud.

Our little house guest - Marianya

Marianya and (Elder) Grandpa Olsen

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I guess our main topic of concern this week was the weather. We started out with that big snowstorm on Tuesday, then a couple days of just clouds, and the storms starting up again on Friday. There are places where the soil is clay so there is a lot of standing water around. There are also a lot of places where we can't get in to visit and they can't get out either. I just hope they all have a good stockpile of wood, because no one is going to be able to get up in the hills to do any wood gathering with the mud as deep as it is.

We were certain our numbers would be sparse today at Church because people would have a hard time getting out with all the mud. At starting time, with only seven people there, it looked like our prediction would be true. But within ten minutes our numbers soared to 30 people with five more coming in after the Sacrament. Just goes to show – never assume or try to out guess the Lord's work.

One day this week we went to the Senior Citizens Center. We always enjoy going there and visiting with all of them. They are so kind to us. Owen took his paints and gave a demonstration on how he paints a picture. They were all very interested in it. He ran out of time and wasn't able to get it finished. So he said he would bring it back to the Center when he finished it, and they could raffle it off. I guess after we left, they voted and decided rather than raffle the painting off they would hang it up in the Center. That way all of them would be able to enjoy it. Made Owen feel sort of special. I was talking to one of patrons, and he told me he use to do a lot of sketching with pencil and/or pen and ink. He said that he hadn't done it now for over 30 years. He talked like he would like to give it a try again after seeing Owen paint. Only problem is, now he has poor eyesight and sees cross-eyed. That probably wouldn't be too good for an artist. I wish I could have seen some of his drawings from earlier because I bet they would have been really good. That is just another area where the Native Americans have a lot of natural talent.

We had our family that visited last week bring down a bow and some arrows that we had left over from when we were Cub Scout leaders. We took them out to our eleven-year-old whom Owen is trying to get started in Scouting. He wasn't home, but Owen left them with his dad to give to him. Before we left, however, he also gave the dad a demonstration on how to shoot a bow and arrow. He had never shot one before, but it wasn't long before he was able to hit the target every time. Another interesting experience – a white man showing a Native American how to shoot a bow and arrow. The surprises just keep coming.

This weekend we had the opportunity to go to a Living Legends performance put on by Brigham Young University. We met early and went to dinner with the Senior Couples from our District and then went to the performance. We took one of our girls with us. She had never seen any program like that before and was very, very interested in it. It was an excellent program. We could sure tell which dances the audience liked best – the ones that represented the Native Americans.  Before the program started, they invited anyone in the audience that had been a part of this group in the past or the Lamanite Generation, as they were previously called, to stand and be recognized. There were a number of people that stood up. The group featured the song, “Go My Son” as their finale number and one of the authors of the song was in the audience. That was a couple of bonuses for us to be able to see the performance on the Reservation and the connection they have with the group.

We continue to get out and work with the people as much as we can in spite of the trials with the weather. We had a baptism scheduled for last Friday, but it had to be postponed. It is still going to happen, just might have to wait a week or two.

In closing, “Live Long and Prosper,” in remembrance of Spock from Star Trek who passed away this week. A good message for all us to remember.