April 21 - May 22, 2014

April 21-May 22, 2014

We haven't posted for a month so have a lot of catching up to do.

The Elders have been teaching an investigator they found in our ward area.  Her name is Barbara Summers.  She wanted to be baptized but her husband wouldn't allow it.  We always try to talk to, and fellowship, the investigators and Gail would take Barbara to Relief Society Homemaking meeting each month.  In April we were thinking about what we could do to soften her husband.  Paul said food always does the trick!  So Gail, while making pies, decided to make him a big blueberry turnover.  She dropped it off when she picked up Barbara for the RS meeting.  The next Sunday the Elders announced he had given his permission for her  to be baptized!  We're sure the turnover did the trick.  Whatever it takes!!!

She has difficulties reading because of  hearing and eye problems from birth.  Gail is now working to arrange for literacy lessons and will probably help teach her.   Remember Jay Thiessens--the member we lived with for the first two weeks here in Reno?  He did not learn to read until he was 65 years old.  Barbara, however, is blind in one eye but does see enough with the other to read some. She's a fiesty little thing and is anxious to learn more.  And by the way, her husband is now taking the lessons.  She tells me he is very shy, doesn't talk a lot and  she was surprised he agreed to let the Elders teach him.

In spite of Paul having a great amount of dental work done before leaving on this mission, he spent several sessions in the chairs of Scott Weed, an endodontist, and John Childs, a traditional dentist, during the last part of April and most of May. Both men are active Latter-day Saints.  Several weeks ago Paul had a very sore tooth.  Dr. Weed found the need to do a root canal.  He also implanted two fiberglass rods to stabilize the tooth so that it wouldn't break off!  He filled an adjacent tooth that had major decay and discovered extensive cavities in Paul's four lower frontal teeth.  He went to Dr. Childs for that work.  Dr. Childs' first preference was to pull all four and do implants, but our insurance could not bear that burden, so he heroically filled them, then cemented a wire behind the teeth to hopefully keep them in place until we can complete our mission.  Both men are active supporters of missionary work.  Dr. Weed's parents preside over the Benin (sp?) Mission in Africa.  Benin is a very small nation.  Two weeks ago, two of Dr. Childs' sons returned from missions, and a third was preparing to leave.  Both men kindly chose not to charge their normal fees because of Paul's missionary service.  The extensive problems are the result of a condition known as dry mouth.  Bacteria thrive in dry mouth.  The solution?  Buy a pound of Xylotyl, a SUGAR manufactured from field corn, mix a teaspoon in water, and drink the solution throughout the day.  Xylotyl does not cause decay but actually neutralizes the "bad" sugar bacteria on the surface of the teeth.  Paul called around and finally found a health foods store that carried the package.  A one pound bag sells for about $8.

The second week in May  Elder and Sister Teh, from the First Council of the Seventy, toured our mission.  He held zone conferences and firesides for investigators throughout the mission.  While he was in Carson City he invited several of the senior couples to have dinner with he and his wife.  We drove down (about 40 miles) and enjoyed a great evening eating at Chili's.  We visited until about 10 PM.  Elder Teh's parents were born and raised in China.  We learned a great deal about the Philippines and the Teh family.  He spoke of the great devastation that occurred recently on one of the islands.  Elder Teh is very humorous and quite relaxed for a general authority.  Paul sat next to him and they visited throughout the evening.  Paul told him something of which he was unaware--that Richard W. Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, assisted the Philippine government in writing their constitution.  Richard was a graduate of West Point and an attorney by training.  When he was in the Philippines he served as a general over the troops from Utah.
With Elder and Sister Tey

Last Saturday night the Spanish branch connected to our ward held an Hispanic Heritage night with dinner and a program.  We all helped with food and it was a fun evening with the largest turnout of any ward party we've had.  We and the Elders invited all our newly activated members, our inactives and our investigators and so many came.  We were thrilled to see them at the party (even if many won't attend on Sunday).

It's rained several days this week (hooray!) so we have been transporting elders and sisters here and there.  None of them have cars and it's hard to bike in the rain.  We've put a lot of miles on this van. We took one set of sisters and two sets of elders to zone conference yesterday and an additional three sets of elders to their apartment from the meeting.  We had to make two trips.

Many thanks for all the remembrances on Mothers Day.  We hope all you mothers also had a great day.  We love you and are amazed at how fast this one year mission is going by.

May 23-June 29, 2014

We are still working with the many inactive families.  Even if we get them to come out it is very hard to keep them attending.  We now have about ten young people in our class each week--but had twelve last Sunday.

We have been working with a family with four children who should all be attending our class.  The parents are separated and the wife, who lives in our ward, now has the kids on the weekends.  When we drop by to see her during the week we beg her to encourage them to come to church.  On the weekend one boy, a twin,  seemed interested but the mother gave him no encouragement--she is so passive. We offered to pick them up, as she works Sunday mornings, but we as yet have received no phone calls from her requesting that we pick them up.  We do pick up some people and take them home just to get them to church.  We know now how smart it was to bring the van.

We are still working with several inactive families the Bishopric has asked us to contact.  They do not have kids in our class.  They seem to enjoy our visits, are very friendly but it's slow going to get them to come out.

Paul, on occasion, has been asked to help the Elders teach an investigator who is quite skilled in his knowledge of the Bible.  He is often asked by the missionaries to help them with difficult or unusual questions.  On June 19th we had our district over to the apartment for breakfast and a question/answer session with Paul.  They wanted to know more about how the Book of Mormon was translated,  about the temple,  about Emma, about Joseph Smith and the Masons, etc.  We are amazed at how sharp these missionaries are and how skilled they are in working with people.

The missionaries  thoroughly  know and use the "Preach My Gospel" manuel.  (Hint:  It is a great tool for FHE with the grandchildren.)  We do a lot of role-playing in our zone and district meetings and we are so impressed with how well the young people express themselves. (That is another suggestion for FHE--role play).   They are taught to talk to everyone,  to have 10 meaningful conversations with people everyday, to invite everyone to pray, to read the Book of Mormon,  to come to church, and to be baptized,

On Memorial Day we took a picnic lunch and went sight-seeing.  We wanted to go to Donner  State Park, where the Donner party was stranded with twenty-two feet of snow on the ground in the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and where many died.  We went to the visitor center and watched a video--Brandon, they could have used your expertise.  It SORELY needs an update. Then we took a nature hike to one of the cabin sites.  We then drove to Donner Lake--a lake much smaller than Lake Tahoe and very beautiful.  There were many parks, picnic areas, boat docks and a swimming resort.  It was inhabited by many large lake side homes--we guessed summer homes, as it would be very difficult to get to them mid winter.  There was a lot of activity on the water and in the picnic areas but these pictures don't indicate that.

Gail was asked to work in the mission office one day substituting for the secretary who was sick.  She answered phones, took referrals, forwarded mail, and worked on the Area Book, a book each companionship has of their mission details.  It passes on to the next set of missionaries as transfers occur but in our case it will go to the ward when we leave after a year, unless a couple replaces us.

We had all the local missionaries for dinner one night and the next day we both got very sick.  Gail just knew we had given all the missionaries food poisoning.  But, come to find out,  we had a little stomach flu and was better a few days later.  Paul missed a presentation he was to do in a Zone Conference Training Meeting. (In talking to the missionaries later, none of them got sick, thank goodness.)

We took our Sunday School youth to the Temple again for baptisms June 11th.  Only five of our girls attended this time.  We were assigned with another ward who had boys there, so Gail got all 29 male and 40 female ordinances completed.  Because many of the youth and the Priesthood were Hispanic many of the ordinances were done in Spanish.

Tendra O'Mealy, Rylie Solorio, Monica Perez, Perla Perez, Anna Lui

Geri and Ennis Gibbs came to see us last weekend.  They were in California for Ennis' daughter's wedding and stopped by on their way home.  We invited them to spend the night so we could enjoy a good long visit and catch up on everything.  We were planning to take a new convert to an Investigator/New Convert Fireside Sunday night so Gail and Geri went to the fireside with Barbara Summers and Paul and Ennis stayed home to talk.  Elder Tiaou was at the fireside and met Geri.  He and his family are from New Caledonia and knows Eva and Mike Syphus who served a mission there.   He has just been made an Assistant to the President.

Elder and Sister Huff, a couples from New Mexico completed their mission and left to go home.  We all got together for a bar-b-q at their home in Washoe Valley.  That leaves the mission with four couples total, that are not locals.   We are, however, getting two more couples this summer--one is Tongan speaking, requested by the mission president to serve in the Tongan Branch.

Back: Smiths,  Smedleys
Middle: Huffs, Zappes, Hermansens
We help out a lot in the ward.  Paul plays the piano each Sunday for the opening exercises of priesthood meeting.  Gail directs Relief Society music. ( On Fathers Day we did the Primary Music and the young people sang in Sacrament Meeting too). Today we also did the 5th Sunday presentation for Relief Society and Priesthood.  The Bishop suggested we encourage the older couples to go on missions so we talked about our mission and tried to inspire them to go.  We also taught our SS class. Later today Paul will give a presentation to the youth who just got back from pulling handcarts in another ward.  He is talking on the Martyrdom, our time at Nauvoo and walking to Carthage and is telling a good story about two boys that were spies for the Prophet Joseph.  The boys attended meetings where the mobs were planning to kill the prophet

Paul's presentation to the handcart youth is entitled: High Adventure in Nauvoo!

Paul pointed out that just as the Savior knew that He would sacrifice His life on the cross in Jerusalem, Joseph Smith likewise knew that he would die as a martyr at Cartage Jail, but not before his mission was complete.  Joseph of Egypt said: "Behold, that seer (Joseph Smith) will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded"(2 Nephi 3:14)  that is, until June 27th, 1844.

Friday the 27th of June was the 170th anniversary of the assassinations of Joseph and Hyrum.  There is a remarkable story associated with that event.  Early in 1844, some of Joseph's best friends turned on him and created a secret organization with the goal of taking the Prophet's life.

Austin Cowles, one of the leaders, was a neighbor to Emer Harris and his family.  Emer was a brother of Martin Harris, and a very faithful man.   One day, Austin approached Emer's son Dennison, age 19, and asked if he would attend a meeting next Sunday.  He was to tell no one of the meeting.  Austin failed to mention its purpose.

After Cowles left, Robert Scott, one of Dennison's best friends, came by and both sat together on a woodpile.  They had known one another for years.  They decided to trade secrets.  They were surprised that both had received invitations to the same meeting.  Something didn't seem right, so they went to Emer Harris and shared their story with him.

Emer immediately went to the Prophet Joseph and explained all he knew.  Joseph counseled Emer to have nothing to do with the meeting, but he wanted Dennison and Robert to attend.  Before they went, however, they were to received his counsel.

The next Sunday, shortly before the meeting was to begin, Joseph told the boys to listen very carefully, say nothing, and report back to him.

The meeting was held at the home of William Law, once one of Joseph's counselors and now an enemy.  The boys recognized many people in attendance.  Most of the meeting was taken up with people venting their anger against the Prophet.  Many lies were spoken.

The meeting ended with the announcement that another meeting would be held the following Sunday. Joseph listened with great interest as the boys gave their report and identified those present.  Joseph counseled them to attend the second meeting.

During the second meeting, many more people were in attendance.  Once more the air was filled with lies and accusations against not only Joseph but his brother Hyrum as well. Some planning began to take place as to how they were going to kill the brothers.

When Robert and Dennison reported to Joseph, he counseled them to attend the third meeting.  He said that it would be the last meeting they would hold.  During that meeting they would agree regarding their plans.  He warned the young men not to make any agreements of any kind.

Joseph told the boys that they might be killed.  He said it was unlikely, since they were young, but the possibility was there.  If so, he told them to die like men, and they would be crowned in heaven.

As the boys approached the Law home, they were surprised to find armed guards at the door.  They brandished muskets and swords.  After being carefully frisked, they were allowed to enter.

There was a great deal of confusion as to exactly how Joseph and Hyrum were to be killed.  Some of the men came to realize that for three meetings, Dennison and Robert had said nothing  William Law put his arm around Robert Scott, since Robert had spent some years with the family and was practically a foster son.  Austin Cowles did the same to Dennison Harris.  But the boys said that they didn't understand the arguments and plans and they personally had nothing against the Prophet Joseph.

The meeting continued.  Then it was announced that an oath would be administered to each person.  Francis Higbee, a justice of the peace, sat at one end of the room.  Each person was to step forward. hold a Bible in his left hand, and raise his right hand to the square.  Once the oath was given, the individual signed his name next to a copy of the oath in a book.  Higbee countersigned as well.

Three mysterious, veiled woman likewise took the oath, one of them in tears as if she did not want to.

When it came time for the boys to sign, once again they explained that they didn't understand the charges, and that the Prophet had never done them harm.  "But you know all of our plans!  You've got to take that oath, or you'll never leave here alive!"  The boys calmly said that they would not take an oath against the Prophet Joseph.

Since William Law's home was near a street, it was decided to kill the boys in the cellar.  Suddenly someone called out, "Hold on!  Hold on!  Let's talk this matter over!  The boys' parents very likely know where they are, and if they do not return home, strong suspicions will be aroused, and they may begin a search that would be very dangerous to us.  It is already late, and time that the boys were home."

Everyone reluctantly agreed.  A strong guard escorted the boys from the home some distance away. They were repeatedly warned that should they say a word about the meetings, a member of the secret conspiracy would kill them.

As they neared the Mississippi River, one of the boys saw a hand appear and motion to them to come that way.  One of the boys then said, "Let's go down to the river!"  The guards agreed and left them. The hand belonged to the Prophet Joseph, who had concealed himself behind a riverbank.  He had become alarmed when the boys had not appeared to make their report.

They walked along the river to a secluded place where Robert and Dennisen gave their chilling report. The Prophet listened carefully and said, "O brethren, you do not know what the plot will lead to!" After a long silence, Joseph said, "Brethren, i am going to leave you.  I shall not be with you long; it will not be many months until I shall have to go."

In the rest of the presentation Paul shared some remarkable dreams given to the Prophet Joseph that provided strong evidence that his oppressors would eventually lose power and be punished for their sins.  He also received strong reassurance of a place in heaven for himself, his brother Hyrum, and for their brother Samuel.

Thanks for all you did for Gail's birthday and Father's Day.  We just went out to dinner and came home for cake and ice cream on Gail's day and a couple from the ward invited us for bar-b-q ribs on Fathers Day.  We're both a year older and certainly look it, but are trying to walk every day to stay moving. Dad's hip and knee ares doing great!

We love and miss you all.

June 30 - July 31, 2014

The 4th of July is rather quiet around here--we are used to waking up to fire crackers beginning in the morning hours in Utah.  Ah, it's the ban!  Because Nevada is so dry, all private fireworks are forbidden!  What did we do to celebrate?  Well, we took a ride, walked, then gathered with the Hermansens and other missionaries at the mission office to watch the fireworks show from a casino four or five blocks away.  It's a tradition.  Well, the wind blew with enough intensity to postpone the show.  We left at 10:30 p.m.  The wind died down and the show went on about ten minutes after we left!  The ward had a pancake breakfast the next morning to celebrate.
Red Hill Ward Pancake Breakfast

We have another missionary couple living two apartments away--the Bells from near Idaho Falls.  Dennis was a government employee, working with radioactive materials.  They drive a large, fire-engine red Toyota pickup.  They work in another ward doing the same as us -- member/leadership support and rescue missionaries.  Elder Bell told us that he came to serve as long as it was not in a proselyting role.  This will be good for him.  We had them over for supper one night.

We continue to visit with Jack and Wanda McCartney.  We took them to the Reno Temple early one evening.  We sat down and munched on some cookies Gail made.  Paul spoke with Wanda a bit about the Temple, while Jack entertained Gail with just about anything but religion!  A Polynesian fellow--the Temple engineer--was sitting in a pickup when we arrived.  We had a nice visit with him.  He showed us a large metal trap he uses to trap rabbits who come to munch on the flowers.  He said that he is too kind to kill them, so they are released away from the Temple.  While we were with Jack and Wanda we spotted a cottontail and a jack rabbit!
Reno Nevada Temple

Gail is working with a recent convert named Barbara.  Barbara has several ongoing health problems.  She is blind in one eye, has trouble hearing, has a squeaky voice and can read hardly a word.  We discovered that the Red Hill Ward has a sister who is trained to teach reading skills to adults.  We established a relationship between her and Barbara.  Because of her handicaps she is one slow learner.  Barbara told Gail that she has wanted to have her hair cut for some time.  The professional women refuse to do the job because of a skin condition Barbara once had.  Because of a high forehead, lack of hair, and some evidence of prior damage, Barbara has worn a three cornered scarf everywhere she goes.'''                                                                                      
After cutting her hair, Gail cut her bangs to cover Barbara's forehead.  It was a success.  She looks good.  We frequently take Barbara with us to firesides and other occasions.    Her husband, who, hides when the missionaries come around, has agreed to come to dinner to our apartment with Barbara.  We were surprised he agreed.
Sister Craig from the ward makes aprons for each of the missionaries to wear when they came over for dinner and to keep their white shirts clean.   They  have their names and nicknames on each one.  Cute idea!
She also makes ties for all the missionaries and the Bishopric for special occasions.  These are their Easter ties.
On the left is one of our favorite elders, Elder Swaney, (whom we would like to introduce to one of our granddaughters

Two Sundays ago, we taught a lesson on how the emblems of the sacrament were introduced by the Savior during the last Passover.  Gail had baked two loaves of round bread.  Paul explained about how it was blessed, then broke some of it with his hands.  We invited the students to break off pieces, eat them then drink some grape juice.   We explained that we were not really eating sacrament bread.  The Last Supper was a meal together first and the Savior introduced the Sacrament.

This past Sunday brought about some very significant changes to Red Hill Ward.  Bishop Clinton Brooks Robinson, a new bishop serving in Winnfield Ward, was moved into our ward, along with about a third of the saints.  Bishop Donald Cox had served faithfully for six years, so it was time for him to be released.

Three months ago Paul had been discussing some of the Red Hill Ward's problems with President Joseph Johnson when he revealed that he was going to write a letter to the First Presidency, seeking their permission to make the change.  President Johnson told him that he had discussed the proposed change with his high council on a Thursday.  Friday night, Bishop Robinson dreamed that he was serving as bishop in Red Hill Ward.  Saturday morning, he called a friend on the high council and told him of his dream.  The high councilor then felt justified in telling him that his dream was inspired!

Bishop Robinson is a young man, but filled with the Spirit and very energetic.  We feel that he will make changes in the ward that will help it be successful.  With the changes Red Hill Ward is now the largest ward in the stake.

We are beginning to visit with the youth who have moved from the Winnfield Ward.  We are personally inviting them to join us in our class and also to join us for a class swim party here at the apartment complex.  We have a nice pool.  The rule is that each apartment can have two guests.  Well, the Church pays for six apartments.  If more youth agree than twelve, we will call upon some friendly neighbors to cover the added numbers.  We hope they all come and especially the new youth.  

Healthwise, Paul's left hip is beginning to act up.  Nine months ago he had the problem at home and had some x rays taken.  When Josh Hickman, his surgeon, saw them, he said that he had two dates for surgery--which one would he like?  Paul told him that we were preparing to leave on a mission.  He told Paul not to plan on it, as the hip would fail as we served.  Well, working through Dr. Christian, Paul had cortisone injected using the MRI machine to guide the procedure.  The medication has lasted nine months.  Paul has an appointment with Dr. Johnson to see about getting another shot.  Here's hoping!  Well, we guess surgery is necessary after we get home!

We are anxious for Brandon, Emily and the kids to come see us over Labor Day.  Our mission time is moving along quickly.

August 1-September 7, 2014

After our ward added a section of another Sparks ward our Sacrament meeting and our Sunday School have about doubled in size.  Our new bishop, Dennis Robinson, is from this added section and has been their bishop for about one year.  He is a good leader and supports the missionary program.  We have visited all but one of the new families--some active and some inactive.  In class we now average 16, but one day had a high of 21.  When we leave in November they will divide the class-- one for the older youth and one for the younger.  The other day the Stake President asked us if we wanted a change of assignment but we told him we preferred to stay with the Red Hill ward and it's youth.   We taught about Temple Marriage in August.  The month concluded with a lesson on chastity and Paul was very frank with them.  McKenzie was here and in the class.

Our class swim party was fun and we had 14 there--with some of the new kids. (Angie suggested I text to remind them--and it was the perfect thing to do.  Thanks Ang!)  I forget the do these new things.

They swam and ate lunch--including sugar cookie flip flops for dessert.  There was some mingling of the two groups.  It will take time for them to get close but it is so great having more kids involved.  

We just have to tell you about last night.  We went to a fireside for new converts, in-actives and investigators on "Families Can Be Forever".  After the fireside one of our youth, Tiana, came up and talked to Gail.   (Some of our grand-daugthers  got her picture in their birthday card).  Her mother is Catholic and her father  LDS, but he just got out of prison.  We visited her when we first arrived on our mission and she came out to class several times.  She just graduated from the Catholic high school here and was a cheerleader. She told us she has started at the University of Nevada Reno and took an Institute class this summer.  She said when we started contacting her we were influential in her coming back to the church and she appreciated it.  It was music to our ears as we were beginning to wonder if we have had any effect on those that are still pretty much inactive, which is the majority of the youth on our rolls.  We visit, call them and try to get them involved but would appreciate more of a response from them. Maybe we do make a difference with a few. 

The Nevada Reno mission was two years old this summer.  All the original Elders who were assigned to this mission left in July and August so we've had big transfer days with 20 or more leaving and the same number replacing those who left.  It was sad to see them go as they were all the leaders of the mission, zones and districts.  We are so impressed with these young people and how articulate they are in expressing themselves and teaching the gospel.  Most were very dedicated and followed "Preach My Gospel" to the tee.  "Exact Obedience"  President Hermansen calls it.    They are definitely the future leaders of the Church and well prepared.   

Every month now the mission senior couples get together on the first Monday of the month for dinner and family home evening.  The couples want Paul to give some of his presentations to them.  Tonight he is doing one on the translation (transmission) of the Book of Mormon and will also tell about some of the newest research that is being done on the book and it's language, which dates to between 1470 and 1670.  

Gail has got 133  temple names now ready for the Elders and Sisters to do the endowments on their mission temple trips in September.  She has gotten so much genealogy work accomplished in her time while Paul prepares classes and firesides--another blessing of being on a mission.  The youth do the baptisms, we do the initiatory and sealings and the missionaries do the endowments.  Gail is working now with a new convert who wants to go to the temple and do baptisms for her family.  In 45 minutes the other night she helped her find her parents, siblings, grandparents on one side, and aunts and uncles. This was all on the site which Kevin has given us access to.  They were stoked to say the least.  If you want access to this site I think it is now available to all church members through their church ID number otherwise I will give you the ID and Password from Kevin.

In doing initiatories last week the ordinance worker just all of a sudden broke down.  Speaking of the family name for whom the work was done, Nancy Wilkinson, she said "She must be close."  That same morning Paul was doing male names and the ordinance worker said to him "He is a very special guy, Stanford Wilkinson.  I feel him nearby."   After coming home we looked up the names to see if there was a connection between them.  They were not married but are nephew and aunt.  The nephew never married as far as I can tell--couldn't find a spouse.  Makes us wonder.  

We have to tell you about the Allens in our ward.  Both he and her work on customizing "street rods" or what we use to call hot rods. It's their hobby.  They came for dinner one night and Karolyn took Gail for a ride in her "Pink Lady". They drove it all around Sparks. Karolyn did all the restoring of the body but had a professional paint job.  Her son put a big engine it it so it's got a lot of power.   They race and show off the car  and it has won many trophies.  They hauled it to Alaska this summer for a show and race.  

Lake Tahoe
We certainly enjoyed the Labor day weekend with Brandon and Emily and their family.  They arrived late Friday night.  Saturday we went to Lake Tahoe for a picnic lunch and swimming.  We drove to South Lake Tahoe because Paul had never seen it.  After coming home the kids, Paul and Brandon got in the apartment hot tub.  The pool was too cold.  We ate pizza at the bowery and would have gotten back in the tub after dinner but Grandmother fell on  slippery wet grass and hit her head on the building above her eye.  She now has a beautiful black eye to prove it.  The grandkids were so concerned and wanted to take her to the hospital but it wasn't even bleeding.

Our Grandkids Mekenzie, Payson, Carson and Addie
 Sunday the family went to church with us and after dinner we went on a Truckee River Walk and drove up to show them the Reno Temple.  Their trip was much too short but we are so glad they came to see us.   We were continually entertained all weekend by the grandkids.  Everyone had a favorite song or trick for Carson to perform for us.  He can sing all the words to "I Am a Child of God ".  He really loves his brother and sisters and they spend a lot of time playing and teaching him cute things.  
Brandon and Emily

McKenzie-age 12
Going home to Utah

We wish the best to the grandkids headed off to another year, or their first year, of college--Christian and Sydney at BYU Idaho and Abby at BYU.  We hope to see you when we get home in two months.

Two other family members have been through a lot this last month.  Paula successfully had her back surgery.  We know the power of prayer and fasting as a family.  She seems to be doing very well although the recovery is slow.  Gail wishes she could have gone to be of assistance but knows Greg and the children took good care of her when she got home from the hospital.  Angie and Sheyna are flying down from Virginia this Wednesday to help and be with her for a week now that Christian and Sydney have left for school.

We were sorry to hear of Brady's accident to his shoulder.  We found out this morning that the clavical is broken in 3 places.  It's interesting to know it will pretty much heal without surgery once the swelling is gone down.  We wish him a speedy recovery.  He has good home care but nurse Zann has her hands full!

September 8-October 5, 2014

The Nevada Reno Mission is focusing on using the Book of Mormon to convert,  and having confidence that the Holy Ghost will testify to those who read, ponder and ask.  "The witness of the Holy Ghost that it is true should be the central focus of our teaching".  (Preach My Gospel).

We have begun teaching Wanda McCartney and her husband the lessons.  We've talked about this couple before.  He is an inactive member who was really hurt by some things that occurred with his first wife who was LDS.  Wanda is a second marriage and is a non member.  We have been visiting them since February.  Generally if we find someone to teach we turn them over to the Elders and mainly work with youth and their families or other inactive families.  But we have become good friends with the McCartneys and though we have been moving slowly we are making some progress.  We gave Wanda a Book of Mormon and encouraged her to read. She says it is difficult to understand.   We pray for a vision of how we can use the Book of Mormon more effectively to touch her life and  help her know the gospel is true. One Sunday night we took her and Jack to walk around, and talk about, the Reno Temple.  Recently we asked them if we could give Wanda the lessons (Jack needs them too!) They agreed.  October 2nd we taught the first discussion to Wanda.  She received the concepts well.  We didn't attempt to commit her to baptism.and a second lesson is scheduled for next week.

Paul has been focusing his presentations for the mission couples on the Book of Mormon as well.  In September he taught how the B of M was transmitted not translated through the gift and power of God.  He teaches another class Monday night and this one will be on "Joseph of Egypt and the Royal Lineage of Lehi".

We can't believe we only have four more weeks of this mission.  We would extend but Paul has some major health issues we need to address at home.   We have challenged several in the ward to do things before we leave.  We have quietly challenged one couple to get to the temple.  They are active but they have not received their endowments.  One would never know it to look at (or smell) them, but both are overcoming the smoking habit.

When first married, they were genuine hippies!  They are so good to the missionaries and we love them dearly.  Gail calls Dan "Brother Johnny" in church as he has sung for us on occasion all the Johnny Cash songs he use to perform in the bars!!!  When we are over for dinner he can sing for us, but the Elders have to leave first as they can't listen to music unless it's church music.  Missionary couples have no rules like the Elders and Sisters.

Gail is also trying to get Barbara, a new convert to the temple to do baptisms.  Barbara wants to do the baptism for her parents and other family members.  Her sister just died this week so she wants to do her work in a year.

 Gail also spent a day working with our mission President Hermansen's son, Bradley, as he wanted to learn the Family Tree program and do family history work.  He is a young man who came with the president and his wife on this mission but has some disabilities.  Not on the computer, however, as he picked it up very quickly and you would have thought he had been working with it for years.  All of his  lines have been done, it seems, and includes  Heber C Kimball and also England's King Henry III.   Not like our lines (for Mom, just plain country folks, plantation owners, and Confederate soldiers, it seems).

In September the Elders of our District asked us if they could have another question session in our apartment.  They also wanted to see the Power Point Paul did for the missionary couples on the "Transmission of the Book of Mormon".  They do enjoy the breakfast, especially the "cat head" biscuits,  and can put away a lot of the food.   Now that our ward is larger we don't have many opportunities to feed them.  The ward families book them for dinners for the month.

The month of September our Sunday School class topic was "Commandments".  We had a lesson on the Ten Commandments.  We challenged the students to learn them for a prize.  About half did and we're still working with the others.  We also challenged the students to create ads promoting the commandments.  Several of our Latina girls did a skit on Snow White and the Wicked Witch.  The Come, Follow Me curriculum repeatedly encourages the teachers to instruct the youth to teach their peers the principles we talk about in class.  We have hesitated encouraging that because several are new converts and don't know much about the gospel themselves.

September 24th the Mission had a service project to clean a large local park in Reno.  Over 170 Elders and Sisters were there--the largest group on record for the mission.  There were a large variety of projects.  We clipped suckers off of the trees and cleared out underbrush for about two hours.  We became extremely tired and wondered why we couldn't keep up with the young folks.  Then it dawned on us that we had given blood the day before and weren't yet up to par.  It certainly wasn't our age! The response from the park supervisor was very positive. He explained to Dad that they have had many groups come and do some things but none worked like us.

Elder Guthrie and Elder Corry

Only a fraction of the gang

The highlight of this month was when one of our students in the class got baptized.  We have worked with Mike Decker, and the aunt and uncle he is living with, since moving into the ward.  The family became active.  We pick them up for church when the father was out of town on work.  He is a truck driver, a big guy covered all over with tatoos.  Mike came to our class off and on.  The Deckers are all members,  all eight of them, but Mike was not.
A new Elder now working with our ward just challenged him to be baptized with his cousin, Chantelle, when she turned eight, and he accepted.   We were thrilled.  Even better, both were baptized by Steve, Chantelle's father and Mike's uncle.  Steve is a priest.  He was a bit nervous but performed the ordinances properly.  Paul did the confirmations. Mike is older than most of the students but likes our class because we teach the basics and he needs to learn them.

Mike Decker with neice Chantelle getting baptized
We have two families living in the Reno/Sparks area with a connection to our past .  When Paul served his mission to Florida one of his companions was Douglas Doxey.  Doug and Paul both attended BY High together.  We stayed close to Doug and his wife in the early years but unfortunately Doug died in a scuba diving accident when he was 38.  Carol, his wife, was 6 months pregnant at the time.  Doug Jr., the baby, is now grown and a new podiatrist in this area.  He, his family and his step-sister's family had us for dinner one Sunday night.  Paul told young Doug all about his father.  He shared many stories about those missionary days in Miami.  Doug Jr.  said he learned more about his Dad that night than his family had ever shared.
 Doug Jr. and Paul
Doug Jr and his family

Heidi Jorgensen (step-sister) and her family

Heidi's husband was released as Bishop of the Sparks 1st Ward a year ago.  She is now the Relief Society president.  Paul did his "Emma's Years Without Joseph" presentation for her Relief Society sisters last Thursday night in the Prater Way building.

We were able to see the new Church-produced motion picture entitled  "Meet the Mormons" that will be in the theaters next week.  Six LDS couples from around the world were interviewed regarding their membership.  It is well-done, but teaches no doctrine. The movie's purpose is to show the cultural diversity of our members throughout the world.   But they didn't show the run-of-the-mill type that make up the majority of the saints and the ones we are all acquainted with.  The mission showed it to us because the Elders and Sisters can't attend movies.  We hope it does well and leads to many more teaching opportunities for the missionaries.  We hope the general public will want to go to it.

We hope you all took the advantage of watching Conference and the Women and Priesthoods Sessions.  We were able to watch five sessions in our apartment.  What a blessing to have a living Prophet and God's Priesthood to direct us and remind us of the blessings we receive through this restored gospel. Inspiration remains stronger than ever among the bretheren and sisters who preside over the Church.   How grateful we are to be able to represent our Savior in this work to bring others into the fold.  We have enjoyed this year so much and, on one hand, will be sad to return home and leave these good people.

6 October - 4 November 2014

Dan (Johnny) Craig, Debra Craig, Elder Corry, Elder Guthrie
Elder Johnson, Elder Cruz (Spanish)
There was plenty to do during our final month of our mission.  We wanted to revisit all the people we have been visiting over the year and give some of them more encouragement to become active.  We wanted to revisit many of the new converts and also the families with problems that we have been working with. We made several visits following the closing session of conference and each week this month.

Johnny, Debra, Gail and Paul

Us with Elders Corry, Guthrie, Johnson and Cruz

Monday, October 6th,  we met for the final time with the senior couples at the home of the Zappeys. Paul gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled, "Abraham and Joseph of Egypt: The Royal World of Lehi."

For Zone Training the following day, Gail baked six different cream pies.  They were all completely devoured!

Two days later, Paul taught the Plan of Salvation to the McCartneys.  Wanda was pleasant and had lots of comments.  Sometimes it was hard to stay on topic.    That night, Gail took Barbara Summers to the Stake Center, where she taught Barbara about using a computer to do family history work.  They put Barbara's family information into Family Tree.

The following day, Paul had a dental emergency that took him to the office of Dr. Clark.  He was absent, but one of his able assistants took X-rays that revealed the need for up to three root canals in his front lower teeth.  Because of the great expense of root canals, Paul called our son-in-law, Dr. Clark Izu in California, asking if he had the time and was willing to to the operation. He readily agreed.

That night, we visited the Cole family in the new portion of Red Hill Ward.  They were friendly but not interested in attending Church.  This is the response we get so often.

The Iron Rod with Ana, Daisy and Monica
All week long, Paul spent many hours preparing a PowerPoint presentation for our Sunday School class.  That Sunday only four students were present.  Bishop Robinson chose that hour to hold his youth council meeting.  Paul had prepared a power point of Joseph of Egypt.  It was a great disappointment.
But the next three weeks our class was well attended and we had some of the best lessons we have ever had.  We talked about Enos one week and then Joseph Smith.  All three of these men were examples of Christ-like attributes--our theme for the month.  The final lesson we taught was on "The Iron Rod" and we encouraged the youth to stay strong and remember what they have been learning.
Dryden, Michael and Daisy
 We used the rod that Don Hood made Paul for teaching.  We also invited him into our class.  We told the class to keep us updated on their lives after we leave.  We want to hear about their missions and temple marriages and just all the good things that happen to them.  We were presented a hugh card with pictures and sweet messages of thanks from each of them.  We will certainly miss them all.  This has been a wonderful opportunity to again teach the young people of the church.

Seth, Madelyn, Tendra and Perla

Brittany and Tanner

Monday, Gail endured eating a meal at the trailer house of Doris Redmond, a native German sister.  She had to eat directly over an odiferous kitty litter box.  Doris has such a kind heart and loves to support the missionaries! But sometimes it's hard to be in the homes of some of the saints and eat the food.
Picture of Reno Temple taken by an elder outside the window of our car

During October the Reno area Elders and Sisters again attended the Temple for an endowment session.   We met them as they arrived and handed out Gail's temple names.  So much of our work was done during the three days they attended.   On Wednesday we attended with them, along with all the mission couples.  It was another couples' retreat with lunch at the mission home following.  Paul made a presentation and showed "A New Day for the Book of Mormon" , an excellent documentary by Russell Holt.  Gail talked about "Family History and the Hastening of the Work".  The day concluded with dinner at Chilis.

Ashley and Robbie came to see us for four days this month.  She is cute pregnant.  Robbie had strep throat when they arrived.   He was not up to doing much the first day, so Ashley and Gail went shopping.  On Saturday we headed up to Lake Tahoe. It was a beautiful day and the Lake just sparkled.   We ate lunch at South Lake Tahoe which reminds me of Park City.  We went to Sand Harbor and walked along the beach.  We also collected large pine cones.  Back at the apartment we loaded their car up for their return trip with some of our stuff so we will have room to take the two twin beds home for Emily and Brandon.  It was great having them with us.

Robbie, Ashley and Paul

On Tuesday, October 21,  we attended our district meeting and with the approval of President Hermansen we left immediately after for southern California for Paul's dental work.  Clark felt we couldn't wait and come down when our mission was over.  We drove Interstate 395 nearly the entire distance--traveling between Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park.  We would have gone into the parks had it been a different time of year and had we had more time.  We arrived at the Izus Tuesday night--about a ten hour drive.  We rested up and visited Wednesday. That night we went to a nearby school where we saw six school bands perform on an outdoor field.  Griffin played the trombone for one of the bands.  We were amazed at the size of each band and the high quality of their performances.  Afterward we noted that most of the young people were not Latino but Asian.

Clark performed two root canals at the Pasadena Endodonix on Thursday.  He is so fast and good at his work and refuses to be paid.   We made a quick stop on our return trip at Lone Pine, California, to visit the Film History Museum,  arriving in  Sparks Friday night.  It was a quick trip with Gail doing most of the driving but a very pleasant one, seeing much of California we had never seen before.
Jen with us in her living room

The following Sunday we attended part of the "Why I Believe Fireside" and then had dinner at Doug Doxey's home in Reno.  Gail took the dessert.  Doug showed Paul the mouthpiece his father was using when he passed away in the Pacific Ocean scuba diving.

October 20th we began teaching a referral, Jenevieve Keske.  Her daughter, a recent convert, referred her.  Her daughter was a witness to the recent Sparks Middle School shooting  where a former student of hers killed another teacher and then himself.  The daughter, as a result, had a mental breakdown, went to Dr Joseph Johnson (our Stake President), and he told her what she really needed in her life was the gospel.  She joined with her family.
Gail, Jenevieve and Paul

Jenevieve requested a couple teach her.  At our first contact we almost had the door shut in our face by her husband, but she intervened and welcomed us in.  She was such a golden contact.  She wanted the lessons and felt good with everything we said.  Her first husband had died and she was still very close to him although she was now married to a Muslim who wasn't fond of us or the church.  We committed her to baptism and she responded, "Yes, I'd like that."   Because we were leaving the mission soon we had the ward mission leader and his wife, Randal and Margarie Angle,  attend her third lesson with us and they will continue the teaching.  She will be baptised soon we are sure.

We continued to visit the ward members.  One convert family, of about a year, the Posadas, had quit coming to church.  Sister Posada had two children in our class, Leslie and Francisco who we grew to love so much.  Their mother and dad have now divorced, and the mother has been offended somehow and by someone and quit attending with their kids.  We were able to visit with the children and expressed how much we missed them.  They were so happy to see us and indicated to the elders how much they wanted to come back.  We gave them encouragement.  It was interesting they never once complained about the Mom not letting them attend.  They indicated they didn't know why it had happened.  The elders explained it was probably a cultural thing--to not complain about the mother.

For Transfer day Paul made a presentation for the new and departing missionaries.  He also held a question and answer period while President Hermansen went to the airport one last time to pick us the missionary group coming from the MTC in Mexico City.  Among that group was Elder Richie Todd, a good friend of Abby's and from Virginia.  As they all  came in late they sat on the first row and we sat in front of him on the stand.  We smiled at Elder Todd and talked to him later.  He will make a good missionary.  Following the meeting we prepared a meal for the departing missionaries with Gail making four batches of rolls.
Transfer day meeting
with Elder Gutherie, one of our favorites

We taught Wanda McCarney a third lesson.  We will miss these good friends.  Jack presented us with a beautiful Christmas wreath he had made.  It has a hugh pinecone in the center from a sugar pine tree. Working for the forest service he collected many of these pinecones and enjoys making wreaths for his friends and neighbors.   He also gave Paul a small pinecone from the Sequoia tree.  How ironic.

Paul and Brian Crane
Brian and his wife
Before leaving our mission Paul wanted to visit Brian Crane, the creator of the comic strip "Pickles". Paul had previously met him when he talked in the singles ward.  He is in the Bishopric and lives in Jay Thessian's ward.  We arranged a visit and had a wonderful hour with he and his wife.  He answered a lot of questions and Paul gave him one of his books "Prophetic Destiny".  Brian then gave us a signed copy of his work with a personal cartoon in the front with a message of thanks to us as missionaries from Earl and Opal Pickles.

We visited the Reno Temple one last time on the 30th, before leaving Reno and said goodby to all our friends there--many whose names we can't recall except the sealer Brother Knight who lives near us on  Ferrell Ross Road.  Everyone on that street are Mormons.

We celebrated Halloween with our friends taking us to dinner.  The Ross Smedleys and Dennis Bells took us to a Chinese Restaurant we had enjoyed before.  We all lived in the Wedekind apartments.  President and Sister Hermansen also took us to the Sizzler for dinner before we left.
Dennis and Marsha Bell
Karol and Craig Smedley

Sunday, November 2, was Fast Sunday.  We both bore our testimonies about how much we loved the ward and the members.  We congratulated them on their dedication and hard work to help the Red Hill ward move ahead.  We wanted them to know how much we loved working with them and loved getting close to their youth.  Their friendship meant a lot to us and we hoped it would continue.   The Bishopric wanted to have a ward dinner before we left to say good by didn't realize we were leaving so soon so at 8 PM Monday night they held an ice cream social to conclude family home evening.  There were so many people there and all our class.  The girls were crying and didn't want us to leave.  One of the boys promised us we would be first to know when he gets his mission call.  So many of our friends promised to come see us in Utah.  It was a great farewell.
The Village at Wildcreek Office & Club House 

Our patio

Downstairs, corner apartment
Two windows to our bedroom

Our front door

Tuesday morning, November 4th,  we finished packing the car and about 2 PM left for home.   We strapped much of our "stuff" on the top of our van and drove straight through to Utah even though we were so tired and considered stopping.  It was good to be home!!!