Sunday, January 25, 2015

As usual, we had a busy week with meetings, appointments, trips to Gallup, and visiting with the people. We had our bi-monthly District Meeting on Monday in Gallup. The next time we meet will be in Blue Water at the Rowley's since the weather prevented us from visiting them on New Year's Day.

Owen is becoming the local handyman. This week he worked on making sure a trailer was level so the windows would open and close. A family was finally able to get electricity and water to their hogan, but the hot water pipes leak. Owen figures the pipes had frozen sometime in the past. So now he is trying to run new lines and hook everything up so they can enjoy the luxury of hot water. An older couple asked him if he could install the new kitchen sink that their niece had given them. Plumbing isn't necessarily his favorite thing to do. We have a few stories of our plumbing experiences at home, but in the end everything worked out. So I guess that is what we are hoping for here.

We had an evening appointment with a family in Manuelito. Their road can be a challenge on a good day; so with the recent storms, we weren't too sure whether we could make it or not. We decided to give it a try. We were able to drive part of the way in and then parked our truck by one of their cars at the bottom of the hill. We took off hiking, up over the rise, and down their road. Wasn't long before we were spotted by their dogs – and we hadn't brought the jerky with us. We made it to the house without any mishaps and had a nice visit with the family. On the way back to the truck, Owen decided that we probably could have driven all the way in to the home. Oh well, maybe next time.

The night before we had gone and visited in Oak City. Her road was very slippery and we almost got stuck. So we didn't want to chance it. We have found that 4-wheel drive really doesn't help much when the mud is so deep and slippery.

Our friend who lives in Thoreau tells us that the road to his house is the worst he has seen it in twelve years. He says it isn't mud – it's soup! He had gravel on it, but it has all disappeared.

Our District Leader has been having some health problems. He is in Zuni and has gone to the emergency room several times. They told him he was dehydrated and treat him for that. A couple of times he has also had severe pain. Finally he called his doctor in Idaho, and he ordered a CAT scan for him. He found out that he has a bad gall bladder and has passed a stone or two. They have six months left on their mission, so he said he would just wait and have it taken care of when they got home. I guess someone else had other plans; because on Thursday morning his pain was so bad, they went to the hospital in Farmington. He was taken right in to surgery. They had to keep him a couple of extra days, though, because of blood pressure problems. Just because you are a missionary doesn't mean you are exempt from health issues and trials.

We never know from one day to the next what adventure will come along; who will call and need help; or who we will meet as we are out and about. It certainly keeps life interesting. We are grateful to be able to be here and to serve, nourish, help, and bring the Light of Christ into the lives of some of these people. We know that the Lord continues to bless us as we do so.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Another week of adventures in the Lupton area has come to an end. We had a hard time believing it was January because we had rain showers for four days. On Wednesday it rained all day. It didn't even freeze at night. The rain has stopped now and our temperatures are in the low 20s at night and high 40s – low 50s during the day. Not exactly the type of January weather we are use to.

Owen was sick with a head cold during the first part of the week. So because of that and the rain, most of our contacting was made by phone or text. We did do service for some members a couple of days.

Our 'Nativity maker' came by one day to drop off another Nativity for a senior couple. He ended up staying and having an art lesson. Owen showed him some of the techniques he uses when he paints scenery and shared tips about coloring, etc. So now, not only is he making Nativities but has also decided to try his hand at painting. It has been so fun to see the creativity in him begin to blossom.

We had another awesome Family Home Evening this week. We had 12 people come (14 with us). We still had two chairs available, I just don't know where we would have put them because we meet in our trailer. We had ages all the way from six months to 65 years old. The little one is starting to learn to crawl, hasn't quite got the coordination down yet, but sure is determined. After the lesson, those that wanted to play a game (the young ones and me) convened at our kitchen table. The others visited and enjoyed each others company. It is so neat to be able to enjoy these times with these wonderful people, whom we have come to love like our own family.

This week we had a Zone Conference held in Monument Valley. Our District decided to go the day before, tour Monument Valley, and stay overnight. The Senior Couple that live by the church at Monument Valley agreed to be our tour guide. We took a couple of hours and toured a small section of the park – what spectacular scenery! It is amazing to see the different formations and colors and to realize they have been thousands (maybe millions) of years in the making. It is truly a mecca for artists and photographers. The weather even cooperated, which made the visit even nicer. After our tour, we all had dinner at “The View” restaurant. It was a special day.

At our Zone Conference, Pres. Batt mentioned that we have 65 senior missionaries serving in our mission. That includes all of the different assignments – office, CES, gardeners, MLS, employment, etc. He told us that with the Church's creation of eleven new missions, they are going to try and have 200 missionaries in each mission. Our mission has seen a decline in the number serving and has had to combine or close some areas. They are expecting it to increase again, however, in the summer time once school is out. He said that the Church is having a hard time finding enough Senior Missionary Couples to meet the demand. Many more couples are needed.

He told us that we will receive blessings for ourselves and our families as we serve the Lord. He shared an example of one of the young elders who called him one day in tears to tell him that his mother was going to be baptized. As the time approached for the missionary to return home, Pres. Batt asked if he was excited to be able to go to church with his mother. The missionary's reply was that he didn't know because he had never seen his mother without a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. I know that the Senior Couples in our District have also been the recipients of many special blessings and tender mercies of the Lord, from a 12-year-old grandson receiving a kidney transplant, to miraculous healing from an accident that could have been tragic, and numerous other examples. We each have seen the blessings through our service.

For three of the couples in our District, this was their last Zone Conference. They will have returned home before our next Conference in April. For the other four couples, the April Conference will be our last one. Unless we see some new couples coming in (not predicted) before July 1st, the Window Rock District will cease to be. Sad to see that happen. We have enjoyed some special times together and have become close friends. Maybe we will all just have to extend.
Mitten Buttes

The Three Sisters

Elephant Butte

John Ford made so many movies in Monument Valley that they named this Point after him.

Yei-be-chi and the Totem Pole

View from Artists' Point

View from the North Window

Owen with Mitten Butte in the background at sunset

1924 Goulding Trading Post - now a museum

John Wayne's cabin in the movie, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"

Fog moved in on Friday changing the scenery, but still spectacular

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The adventures in LA never cease to amaze us. We just begin to think that we have seen it all, and then something else comes along, and we are left shaking our heads in amazement.

Luke 9:1-2 “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”

This scripture pretty well sums up our experiences this week. Early one morning we got a call that a family needed our help. When we got there, we found a 26-year-old man who was possessed by an evil spirit. In due time, the Priesthood power prevailed, and he was able to go to sleep. When he awoke, he had no memory of the experience.

On several occasions during the week, Owen was called upon to give blessings to people who were sick or wanted a blessing. They ranged in ages from 10 to 92.

We were also able to teach a discussion to an investigator as well as pick up a load of wood for them so they could have warmth in their hogan.

It appears the cold air has given way now to somewhat warmer air and has caused the snow to melt. In fact, we even had rain last night with more in the forecast.

The flu season is here now, but so far we have been able to stay ahead of it except for colds. There were only a few people to church today, probably because of the weather, sickness, or the mud.

One sister told us how she had let her sheep out to pasture as she does every day. They got across the road and into some bad mud – clear up to their knees. She was able to get them all out and headed home except for two older ewes. She put them in the cornfield and took the others on home. One of the ewes came home on her own later, but the other one didn't have the strength. So she left her there another day. When she went back the next morning to check on her, she had been killed by either red foxes, coyotes, wild dogs, or a mountain lion. All of those critters are in that area. She decided to keep the sheep in the corral and feed them hay for several days rather them let them out until the ground dried up a little. It is hard for them to lose one of their sheep. Not only does it affect their livelihood, but they know them like they are one of their children. We asked her one time if she counts her sheep each evening to make sure they have all come home. She told us that she doesn't need to count them. She just looks at their faces and can tell if any are missing.

Our two young ladies continue to come nearly every week and spend time with us, playing games, visiting, and eating. We always try to feed them at least one meal while they are here. With all the people that live in their area and only one has a job, I am pretty sure there isn't a lot of food to go around.

I was doing laundry this week and had one batch left to dry, when the dryer decided to die. We called Housing and he said he had another dryer in Shiprock and would pick it up tomorrow and bring it out to us. No problem – right - except for one small detail he discovered when he got here. Our dryer was electric and the dryer he brought was gas. So I guess if all else fails, we can do what the Natives do and head for the laundromat.

I had a hole develop in the back of a tooth. At first I thought I would just wait until we got home to have it fixed; but, I finally broke down and called a dentist. I thought it would just be a simple filling and I would be done. Before I was through, I had x-rays, a filling, a root canal, and the tooth prepped for a crown (2 ½ hours in the chair). Now comes the good news – the dentist said he would accept what my insurance pays and would not charge me any extra because I am a missionary. Every now and then we hear about or experience a missionary perk. I have been surprised as to the number of businesses or people who will go the extra mile to help out missionaries. It is very much appreciated by the missionaries. Hopefully, we will be able to return the favor or follow their example when we are no longer serving as missionaries.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A new year is here. What new adventures will it hold? Where will we go? Whom will we meet? If only we had a crystal ball, then we would know the answers to all those questions. But, then again, I guess it would take all the fun out of it.

We went to dinner on New Year's Eve with a couple of other senior missionary couples. That was enjoyable. We didn't even stay up to greet the new year. I wonder if that has something to do with our age. We woke up on New Year's Day to over four inches of new snow.

It was pretty cool to have snow for Christmas Day and also New Year's Day. We had around four inches each day. The District was going to get together on New Year's Day in Blue Water. But, with the storm, and all, they decided to cancel and wait for a better day. But, the three couples thought we would get together at one of their homes in Tohlakai and spend an afternoon together. We ended up having to go to Gallup to help out a couple of members. Then our two girls wanted to come over. So the rest of the day was spent visiting and playing games with them. Never did make it to Tohlakai. I guess they had so much fun that they wanted to come again the next day. But, one of them had to go help great grandma do laundry, so we only had the one. Owen gave her a lesson on painting with acrylics and got her started on a painting on a canvas. It will be interesting to see how she finishes her picture.

We were able to start the missionary lessons with a new investigator this week. That is always exciting. Our other investigator is still progressing. We kind of ran into a snag during the holidays, though, because of the weather and other obligations (like gathering wood, appointments, family gatherings, etc.) So we are hoping to get back on track with him.

Between the holiday, having stomach flu for two days, the first of the month (Navajo payday), the muddy roads, the snow, and people not home, all made for quite an interesting week. A number of our appointments were canceled, or the people weren't home when we went by. So we will hope we have better luck this week.

We have been told by the locals that you don't want to go to Walmart in the middle of the day, around the first of the month, or on a Saturday. According to them the Walmart in Gallup is known as 'Navajo Heaven' and is the busiest Walmart in the world. When we do go, we always try to go first
thing in the morning. On the 2nd we ended up going around 6:00 at night. Oh my goodness! They truly know what they are talking about. There was a steady stream of cars pulling into the parking lot, hard to find a parking place, no baskets, and elbow-to-elbow people in the store. I hope we don't have to do that again for a while.

Another time when we were at Walmart (in the morning), Owen decided to try feeding the pigeons. When he first started, there were only three that seemed interested. But after he got back in the car, all of a sudden it seemed like about 50 pigeons showed up for the free handout. I had to laugh. Most people go to the lake to feed the ducks, etc. We go to the Walmart parking lot to feed the pigeons. I have decided that my life has been pretty easy in comparison to some of the people here. I always had a mother and a father in my home that loved me and cared for me. I have always had a roof that didn't leak over my head, enough money to pay for my needs and some wants, plenty of food to eat, a warm coat, all the clothes I needed, and running water so I never had to carry water from a well. I have always had a furnace to keep me warm in the winter, never had to worry about chopping wood or feeding the wood-burning stove, had electricity that never got turned off because I couldn't pay for it, or had to run an extension cord from someone's home to mine in order to have electricity. I have never had to hitchhike because we had a vehicle and gas to take me where I wanted to go, and good roads to drive on without fear of getting stuck in the mud. In spite of all their hardships, I have never heard any of them complain. They are truly amazing people.