Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I can't let this day come to a close without saying Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends. Each one of you mean so much to me and I am so grateful for all of you. Last night's sunset was a great reminder for all of us in Florida of how blessed we are to be here. It was spectacular!

We have had a wonderful day!  It started with District Meeting with a group of amazing missionaries.  They teach me so much and inspire me to be better and bolder. We then headed to Sarasota to have dinner with the Senior Missionary Couples. We ate at an Amish restaurant and crossed over the bay on the amazing Skyway Bridge. We came back home and I was able to cook for these five inspiring Elders. None of us were really hungry, but they were great company and it was good for me to be able to cook. 

I am so very blessed to have such a great opportunity to be here serving the Lord. It would be a lie if I told you I didn't miss family and grand kids, but I wouldn't trade this season of thanks for anything. The Gospel is true and the greatest blessing of all is our Savior Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Settled into the Towers - Letter 11/03/14

Hello Everyone,

Hope this finds everyone doing well and enjoying the cool temps.  We have had a great couple of weeks.  We have finally settled into our own place and we are quite liking it, in spite of the walls and walls of mirrors.  The view is absolutely amazing from our deck and the sunsets are breath taking.  Today was P-day so we spent some time cleaning up the apartment, I think Dad is in heaven with all the glass and mirrors to clean and shine-up.  The floors are all wood laminate so he likes to dust them frequently, so not a lot of vacuuming, just dusting.  Today we had a fisherman that waded out into the channel up to his waist and was fly fishing.  It was fun to watch, he didn't catch any fish that we could see, but they were sure jumping all around him.  Big fish!! We could see the birds, pelicans,and osprey swooping in to catch the fish too. We went shopping and picked up quite a few things.  Seems like we have spent a ton of money just trying to set up house.  Our address is:
                         7050 Sunset Dr.  #1109
                          South Pasadena, FL  33707

We would love to have letters and notes...hint...hint.  I thought I could cover the many mirrors with kids art work.

We have been sitting in with the Elders, they are teaching a young woman who is 23, so they need to have someone with them.  It has been a wonderful experience. She was a self referral, so the Elders just contacted her and she was ready to be taught.  She has investigated the church quite a bit, watched pro and con off the internet.  The very first time we met with her she said, "I believe it is all true and want to be baptized", so she is pretty golden.  The Elders are amazing and do such a great job teaching her.  She came to the Branch Trunk or Treat last Wednesday and had a ton of questions for me.  It has been so great to answer her questions and get to know her.  She came to church on Sunday and is very honest and forthcoming with her questions.  She saw the picture of Esther in the Relief Society room and had questions about her.  
We had a "break the fast" on Sunday also.  Tons of great food and it was so nice to be able to visit with the members.  Sister Caphart made her famous sweet potato pie and it was soooo good.  I had my first taste of collard greens with ham and cornbread.  Yup,  love this southern cooking.  The people are so warm and friendly to us and each other.  We had some that did not stay and some that came just for the meal.
We have been working with the Branch leaders, trying to get to know them and see what their goals are for the Branch.  Our Branch Mission Leader is in his early 60's and had a stroke about 3 weeks before we arrived.  We have met with him, but he is still recovering, he has been to church the last two weeks and is coming along really well.  We have about 6 Branch missionaries to work with but have not wanted to step on toes so we are just working with the leadership council first.  They are giving us names of people they have not seen for awhile or that could really be visited and invited back to church.  
We attended District Meeting on Wednesday with all of the missionaries in our District.  There are about 8 companionship's. They are all so amazing, well trained, and knowledgeable about the Gospel.  The Sisters from St. Pete called me on Tuesday morning last week and invited me to attend a special Sister's Conference with them.  It was so nice to be included.  I'm not sure I was supposed to attend, but I went anyway.  President and Sister Cusick did a special training just for the Sisters.  It was so good and he centered most of it around the talk by Elder Jorg Kiebingat - "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence".  It was so fitting for these young sisters and this one old sister.

They are keeping us pretty busy, we have two meetings this week in Tampa at the Mission Office.  We have transfers and they want us to attend the New Missionary Training on Wednesday and then the transfer meeting on Thursday.  It will be fun to see how the whole thing works.  Wednesday will mostly be training on the Ipads.  Our mission is one of the few that have them.  They are so valuable, I don't know how they could do what they do without them.  What a blessing it is for the missionary work.  When they talk about Hastening the Work those little things are sure going to help it happen so much faster.   
Our mission has started a new program to help the missionaries help the members share the Gospel and help get the full-time missionaries some referrals.  They call it "Sunday Game Day"  the first week they did it they had over 765 referrals, that is more than they have had the past year from the members.  It is pretty exciting to see it happening and watch the members feel a part of missionary work.  The members do not feed the missionaries here. President Cusick's theory is that when you feed the missionaries you feel like you are doing your part,or share, of missionary work. We all need to be doing more. The only way the missionaries can eat at a member's home is if they have an investigator or someone who has been inactive for a very long time, invited to be there also.  He says it is time we quit taking the Gospel to people like "pizza delivery guys", giving them a piece of the Gospel when we visit them. They may feel satisfied for awhile but have not had to make a commitment.  We can really see what he is talking about.
Well I had better wrap this up and get ready for bed.   It was so good to Facetime with most of you on Saturday.  Hopefully this week we can catch the rest of you.  We have the internet now and it seems to be working pretty well.  Thanks for the letters and updates on your families.  Please keep me posted on how everyone is doing.  We love you all so much and pray for you everyday.

Love Mom and Dad

Sun setting on the Gulf of Mexico - taken from our apartment deck
So many inlets and islands everywhere
The sisters and I at the conference on the beach
The Elders and President Stretch at the Trunk or Treat
The Elders did a "trick" for the other set of Elders, now they want to make pumpkin pie
The brick streets in Old Gulfport city
Dad on the beach in shorts