Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Saturday, May 31, 2014

We Work Hard! We Play Hard!

If you don't think this is the sweetest picture of the sweetest little man and 2 sweet girls I'll be very surprised. Our first stop this morning was the WWII Museum in New Orleans. While we were waiting for it to open we were able to come inside and speak to Tom Blakey, a member of the 82nd Airborne in WWII. He and many others are some of my heroes! Marc asked him who his Division Commander was, but he couldn't remember. So Marc started naming commanders until Mr. Blakey recognized Matthew Ridgeway (who later took over for MacArthur in Korea). Should anyone be surprised that Marc could start naming these men. I think not!

After taking the brief "train ride" that I wrote about the last time we came to the museum, the girls dressed up in some military apparel for a photo shoot.

I thought this quote was worthy of inclusion. Excellent advice!

On to the French Market. A rather blurry picture of the girls riding the tram.

Calli and Paige enjoying beignets
The original Muffuletta. Now this is worth returning to NOLA for. I'd eat one of these any day of the week. I'd like to say it was made on a toasted sesame seed bun, but it was more like a toasted sesame seed loaf of bread
Salvatore Lupe, a Sicilian immigrant, opened the store in 1906 and operated it until 1946
when he retired and passed the reins to his son-in-law, Salvatore Tusa. The Muffuletta is said to have been invented early on to feed the Sicilian and Italian truck drivers who were driving produce, etc. to The French Market. The store is till in the family and has changed
little over the years, with the exception of increased tourist traffic. The sandwich is filled with
Genoa Salami, Mortadella, Ham, Mozzarella, Provolone and and chunky Olive Salad made with crushed Sicilian olives, Gardiniera, oregano and the "quintessential bread," the round muffuletta loaf, about 10-11" across topped with sesame seeds.
The perfect sign which I didn't purchase.

Metairie Cemetery--Round 2. After googling the "weeping angel" and finding that we did NOT see her, we returned to said cemetery and found her about 15' away from where we'd been. But she's tucked inside a bolted mausoleum and faces the back of the cemetery. I've tried to find information about this statue, but the only thing so far is this small bit from wikipedia. The picture with stained glass is in Metairie. The other is in Rome. The Metairie one looks like a close reproduction. I like the front so have included the Wiki picture.

"Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as the grave stone of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome.The term is now used to describe multiple grave stones throughout the world erected int the style of the Story stone."

"Way down yonder in New Orleans"

We managed to get some necessities taken care of at the office before heading out for New Orleans in another driving rain storm. We chose to take Hwy 12 and cross the Lake Pontchartrain causeway so the Jordans could say they'd been on the longest causeway in the world. Well, they can say it, but can't comment too much on what they saw except for a lot of water--over us, around us and under us!

We checked in at the Residence Inn then headed for the Metairie Cemetery--Finally! I've been wanting to see the Weeping Angel statue and now was our chance. The rain had eased enough that we could walk around without too much mud. We'd stopped at the office to find out where to find the statue then drove to the designated area. This is what we found, and I was quite sure it wasn't what had been described to me, but it was exactly where we'd been directed. Hm. So much for the amazing angel. It's still an incredible place to see with all the above-the-ground mausoleums. It's like a small city with all the streets named or numbered.

Then Paige checked herself into one with open gates and closed them as she walked in. I'm certainly glad they didn't lock. How would I explain that one to Danielle?

Next stop was dinner at Rocky and Carlo's. Marc and Elder F have been talking about it since they went to Chalmette several weeks ago. The sisters they were going to see had told them about it. It was actually on a "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" episode. I'm willing to try most anything Guy Fieri recommends on that show. We've eaten at a few and they're all worth going back to.

Here's Jaie with his enormous T-bone steak. It filled one platter, and his green beans and potatoes filled another. Marc had veal cutlets. The rest of us enjoyed mac and cheese and salad in unnecessarily abundant amounts.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


We've been anticipating the arrival of the Jordan Family--Kimberlee, Jaie and Calli--but had no idea that they were bringing Paige with them. What a SHOCK and very fun surprise! Somehow they sneaked her into the office without my noticing. Elder L was unloading groceries at the apartment then walking over, so he wasn't there. When he came in his look was priceless. Wish I'd captured that one.

Anyway, the organizational and phone rosters were completed (my main goal for today), Stake Presidents' Baptismal Reports sent out and lots of other stuff accomplished, and now we'll be off to play with our family, which means that I should have several pictures and no time to write.

We're so happy to have family here, especially since we were used to seeing the Jordans every day. It'll be non-stop talk for the next 6 days.

My intention was to get a shot of Kimberlee running out to meet Elder F and give him a hug. I wasn't fast enough so this is what I have.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another Successful Transfer Day

I may get around to writing about today's activities and I may not. It was a typically extremely eventful day, but also loooong! It's 9 and we just got home. The day started with 8 am orientation at the mission home, back to the office for and hour, pick up the Subway sandwiched, get to the stake center, set up, make punch, cloths, napkins and cups on tables--the usual. The unusual was that we did it in pouring down rain. It's the heaviest rain we've had since arriving in January. We probably broke all the driving in rain rules, but we weren't alone. Sister Wall said she did too-several times. The streets were practically flooding, but it wasn't cold! Oh no. We're just glad everyone arrived safely.

The day ended with our trip to the temple. The Walls are here with our go-homes (left to right): Elder Campbell, Elder Andrews, Elder Larsen, Elder Sun, Elder Smith, Elder Cluff & Elder Asuao. Each transfer gets more difficult as we say good-bye to the missionaries we're getting to know better. This is an outstanding group of young men. "Oh the Places You'll Go!"

OK, I've gotta get some of this down or it just won't happen.
From the go-homes at Transfer Meeting--Their words of wisdom:
Elder Smith--the Atonement is real. I've learned a lot about forgiveness. Your worst enemies can become your best friends.
Elder Sun--Grateful for experiences of the past 2 years. Be happy and find joy in what you do.
Elder Larsen--Have a strong testimony that the person you're sitting next to (companion) needs you and you need them. Companions are here for each other. Also have a testimony of service. Working through 10 days after Hurricane Isaac was the hardest 10 days of my life but the opportunity to serve and help is the best feeling.
Elder Cluff--As you do what Priesthood leaders ask you to do you'll be blessed for your obedience. Find out how to do missionary work in your own way, then do it. Love the people.
Elder Campbell--We have the power to change. We can learn to drop off baggage (like pride) and pick up the good stuff. We can change through the power of the Atonement. Carry the love you have for the people here wherever you go.
Elder Andrews--Transfers are inspired. There's a reason you're together with you companions. If it's not eternal, it doesn't matter. Be an instrument in the hands of God to bring souls to repentance (Alma 29:9) Don't look forward to being where I am (at the pulpit, saying goodbye), but be ready to be where I am.
Elder Asuao--Cherish every moment. Learn to balance your mission--have fun but be a good missionary. President Wall is called of God, by a prophet. He's a good man. Listen to him. Be obedient. It rings blessings into your life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Checking the Checklist

Received emails for 5 incoming missionaries (1 August, 1 September, 3 November)
   Print letters from President--check
   Put together incoming packet (be grateful I made 20 last week)--check
   Shut down every program and restart computer so will work--check
   Get packets the basket before mailman comes-barely--check
Finish filling commissary orders--check
Divide Ensigns & Liahonas and pack up for zone leaders--check
Sort mail for transfers (figure out who's going where & hope they & their mail end up in the same    
Do referrals I haven't had time to do since Friday (Yikes!)--check
Enter 3 Baptisms & Confirmations (call elders' whose writing I can't read. Also ask why one sister
   was divorced before she was married)--check
   Enter baptismal information on ward lists and Stake Presidency reports--check
Order name tags--check
Coordinate IROPs with distribution orders--check
Finish prepping incoming (the ones who arrived today) packets--check
   Missionary emails (missionary and parents) ready to be checked/corrected--check
   Support cards--check
   PIN # & instructions on a different paper--check
   Missionary medical card--check
   Labeled 2 Ziplocs for very little emergency bags--check
   2 medical release forms ready to sign--check
Make files for 5 new missionaries (see line 2)--check
Check and refer the new referrals (no time tomorrow)--check
Visit with Elder Perazzo and Elder Sun for 2 minutes--check
Elder Perazzo is from Fallon NV, but he doesn't know Kristin, Heidi's BYU roomie.
Elder Sun will be released Thursday and returns to his home in Tahiti.
Set the night key--check
Lock the files--check
Turn out the lights--check
Lock the door--check
Walk home--check

Monday, May 26, 2014

He's off to Zimbabwe

Do you know what happens in the LABRM office when the rest of the world is having a holiday? Absolutely nothing! It was really quite nice for the phones to be almost dead silent--just a few calls from missionaries--but other than that there was a lot of time to prepare for transfers. The last 2 zones sent in their commissary order, our June Ensigns and Liahonas came in on Friday, and there are packages and mail to send to the zones.

We didn't have an office meeting, but President Wall came in to work with Elder L on things for Pres. Hansen. Also, Elder Stewart, left, brought Elder Smith into the office so the President could take him to the airport. Elder S has been waiting for his visa to arrive from Zimbabwe, and it finally came. Well, actually, it didn't, because it doesn't work that way. He picks it up in the Harare airport upon arrival in Zimbabwe after a 5 leg trip and almost 2 days of travel. Fortunately he'll meet up with 5 other elders who've been waiting in various missions for their visas. That should make the trip a bit more exciting.

Elder L and  I went to lunch with the Walls and Elder Smith before Pres. Wall took him to the airport. I have to say that Pres. Wall was very chipper and very funny. I should have written down some of the things he said. We did mention that we wouldn't be here to go to lunch next week and he said, "That's okay. I couldn't come anyway because I'm having surgery." Well, that's news to me, so I say, "Really?" His response: "Yes, I'm having my back removed. That way I'll always be up front!" Oh my gosh! And it just went on after that, but I was so busy laughing and now can't remember the rest, but, trust me, it was very funny!

Please notice President Wall's funny facial expression. He's just being his humorous self.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

God Bless America...

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, but it will be business as usual in the LABRM office, not just because it's transfer week, but also preparations for our new President are in "full speed ahead" mode. So this will just be a brief tribute to the men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms that we do. It's a good thing that Elder Lauper thoroughly devours the newspaper every day or we wouldn't have know about an event that occurred yesterday.  

The Baton Rouge community gathered at the capitol building to honor members of the Armed Services who have given their lives. 10,000 flags, placed on the Capitol's front lawn by the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana, waved in the breeze, representing the 10,000 men and women from Louisiana who died while serving in the US military.

Isn't it nice to know that people still care about what the true meaning of Memorial Day is--Our Nation's Fallen Heroes! Louisiana has a rich tradition of military service. The LSU mascot came from the "Fighting Tigers Brigade." It was the "fiercest battalion of the Confederate Army and the most feared group around in the Battle of Bull Run." Also, per capita, Louisiana has provided more servicemen and women than any other state. "Louisiana understands and believes in service--particularly when it comes to military service."

During yesterday's program a mother, whose Marine Sergeant son was killed in Afghanistan last year, read the classic World War I poem, "In Flanders Field," written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The names were read of all 10,000 who've died, and the program was concluded with "Amazing Grace" by the Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums and a single trumpet playing Taps.

I want to include "In Flanders Field" in this post because of it's poignant message and because of President Monson's love for it. I've heard him quote it more than once. In his April 1994 General Conference address, speaking about peace and World War II he said: "Overlooked, or at least set aside, was the hauntingly touching appeal of one who had fallen in an earlier war. He seemed to be writing in behalf of millions of comrades--friend and foe alike.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Marc and I just finished watching the 25th Annual National Memorial Day Concert from the lawn of the US Capitol. I won't need to remove mascara before going to bed. What an emotional evening. I was taking a ton of notes to include with this  missive but have decided that anyone can probably access whatever I could have said, so I'll just make a few notes and end with a quote from General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

#1. I loved the tributes to fallen and living heroes, and, yes, they are heroes. But there are thousands of other untold stories just like theirs. I honor them also, because they gave their lives to continue to make it possible for me to live and do and love and think and serve and choose. Thank you Michael, Steve, Uncle Don, Uncle Karl, other family and friends. You are all heroes!

#2. As Marc reminded me, quoting from something he read, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

#3. Gary Senise said to "pray for a time when there will be no war." We know that time is coming. We just don't know when. 

#4. This wasn't sung tonight but seems appropriate. 
        O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!
        America! America! May God thy gold refine Till all success be nobleness, And ev'ry gain divine!

#5. Some of General Dempsey's comments: He received a letter from a mother who lost her daughter in Afghanistan.
She said: "The grief never goes away, but there is room for sorrow and joy, sadness and hope to exist in the same space at the same time. Grief is not a lack of faith or a sign of weakness. It's the price of love. That love is yours to hold forever."

General Dempsey's remarks: "Memorial Day is foremost about remembrance of America's sons and daughters from every corner of the country and every branch of service who gave their lives that we may live free. It's also about love and about hope, but it gives us, the living, a chance to cherish the freedom that we now hold dear and embrace the future we may now choose to dream. It gives us the opportunity, all citizens everywhere, to reconnect to our national purpose--to secure the blessings of liberty."

#6. Concluding song--"God Bless America." And He will as long as there are those who love and serve Him. 

2 Nephi 4:4 "For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall deep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land, and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.''

It's up to us!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hurricane Season is Coming

Just in case you have any concerns, I'd like to share a few notes about hurricane season and/or other disasters within the LABRM. Every mission throughout the world is required to prepare an emergency action plan. Here in Louisiana the most likely events are hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, severe weather, apartment fires and prolonged power outages that could impact our missionaries. Each companionship is asked to do certain tasks at specific times which include arrival at a new residence, each fast Sunday and during October General Conference weekend, so that they will be prepared for an emergency. Personally, experiencing a hurricane is NOT on my bucket list. We've been through enough earthquakes to last us a lifetime. But "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" will help us weather the storms--pun intended!

I've just been reading our action plan, which Elder Steele has been updating, and will share a few things that it covers:

Missionary Residence Safety Items: carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, 72-hour emergency kit and water supply 

General Procedures which refer to common sense practices such as being alert to weather conditions, always having a half tank of gas in your car, keeping cell phone charged, having phone, keys, personal ID, etc. readily available if you need to evacuate quickly, having emergency numbers, etc. 

Know the weather terms:
Advisory:  Less serious condition than warnings; causes significant inconvenience and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
Watch: Conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flash flood. This is the time to be “weather aware.”
Warning: Severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flash flood has been sighted or indicated by radar. People in the path of the storm should take immediate lifesaving actions.

Know what to do before, during and/or after a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flooding, ice storm, lightening storms, fire and prolonged power outage.

Also addressed are evacuations, shelters, transportation and communications.

Rest assured that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have a watchful eye on the Lord's missionaries. They "have promised physical protection if missionaries observe and deep the guidelines and standards for missionary work, including emergency preparedness actions."

Now for the craziest picture I've taken in LA. I know this looks like some kind of a freaky monster about to invade the mission office. Maybe it's a walking stick. I don't know. I need to hear from our grandson, the budding entomologist. It's actually about 7" long and I'm to the left of the 3 elders who are looking at this thing. It's on the front office window, but you can't tell from the picture. It's just a quick shot with my IPhone but should probably get some kind of photography award.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Learning a Lesson

A few weeks ago we invited 4 missionaries to dinner for tonight. One of them called this morning and said they'd like to reschedule because they had several dinner appointments this week. Hmm. Isn't that why y'all have planners given to you freely--so you can write your appointments down to prevent conflicts? We don't really have any time next week because of transfers or the following week because the Jordan's will be here!!!! Unfortunately it's not just a matter of putting something on when you get home and serving it up an hour later. This is actually a 3 day procedure. Silly, I know, but I try to make it nice. So, we do the shopping on day one, precook on day two, then company on day three. There's just not time to do it any other day. Now I have 10 lbs of spareribs warming in the crock pot, Arlene's beans ready to go in the oven, a whole watermelon, tons of berries, etc.

Finding someone to eat all the food is never a problem. The office elders readily agreed, although they're helping someone put some shelves together at 5, which means we'll be serving dinner about the time we usually go to bed!

What's the lesson learned? There are a few, but I'll only mention one and leave the rest to your imagination. Don't worry about having food that takes so much time to prepare. KEEP IT SIMPLE! Trust me--I will in the future:)

Sister Lindstrom and Sister Wolf stopped in the office today take care of some business and pick up a few things. Such cuties! And Elder Gillen and Elder Adkins also came by to get a copy of a copy so Elder G could get something notarized. That's kind of a long story, but here's the Reader's Digest version.

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk talking to Elder G and Elder A, 3 digits into texting Elder A's mom for an address, when the phone rang. The call was from someone in Colorado, where Elder G is from, wanting Elder G to get a paper signed and notarized for a business transaction that began a year ago. Now what are the odds that Elder G would be standing right in front of me when that call came in? He shouldn't even have been with Elder A, but they were on exchanges. I tried to be very cool about the call and discretely cover my notes but was pretty sure Elder G was putting 2 and 2 together. Anyway, avoiding the topic of the phone call, I went back to texting Sister Adkins. Three more digits into the text and the phone rang again. This time it was Elder G's mom trying to warn me of the pending phone call. I said, "Oh, from Frankie?" Sister G said, "Oops! Too late." We had a good laugh and hung up. Elder G had no idea I was speaking to his mom, nor did his mom know he was 2 feet away at the time.  Today they came back to bring said document in to be faxed and mailed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LABRM is Growing!

We knew this was going to happen soon but didn't know when. Looks like today! Look at all of our new missionaries! We were notified of 2 yesterday, then 10 more arrived this morning. I was actually working on the whole process until 3 and used up every extra packets I'd made a few weeks ago, but I took advantage of a very quiet workplace and spread everything out in the President's office to make 20 more. President and Sister Wall and the Assistants are on a 3 day away-from-home interview excursion. The office elders had gone to district meeting and lunch, Elders L and F were searching for housing in Oakdale--2 hours from Baton Rouge, and the phone was quiet. Sometimes "alone but not lonely" says it all.

Back to the incomings. We only have 7 coming next week, then our numbers really jump. In the following 2 transfers we, so far, have 43 plus 2 senior couples, but we're only losing about 30. That means more missionaries, more apartments, more cars, more supplies, More Everything! There are so many files in the drawer that I had to fashion a temporary file to manage the overflow.

Looks like President and Sister Hansen will be running full speed ahead out of the starting gate without even having a chance to unpack!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Investigating the Investigators

An investigator's family invited our 3 Assistants to attend their baby's baptism last Saturday at a local Catholic church. This is Elder Asuao, Elder Mecham and Elder Griffin with Father Jerry Rice.

The next picture is Elder Griffin lighting candles at the same church. It seems that no one in the congregation was tall enough to light them except Elder G.

This morning's meeting included 6 handsome elders all lined up in a row. It was a great sight to behold. I'm not sure what I did to Elder Mecham's arm, but I was taking a quick panorama and somehow managed to give him something extra! I must be more careful with my new iPhone knowledge.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Plaquemine Branch Conference

Today was our Branch Conference and we were bursting at the seams. Of course they were mostly visitors from the Stake Presidency, High Council and auxiliaries, but that's okay. It's nice to get to know some of the other members of the stake.

Sister Cutler, a member of the Primary Presidency, spoke on listening to the Spirit. She told a story that I'll try to share. It's about a teenage girl she knows who works at a chicken fast food restaurant. One day she was working the late shift and it had been very busy. She rode the bus to and from work, and the last bus had already passed the bus stop. She was concerned because the only way she had to get home was to walk. Her boss could see she was a bit down, so he gave her a bag of chicken and told her to have it for her lunch the next day. She thanked him and headed home.

As she came to an alley she'd have to pass through she offered a silent prayer asking for protection as she walked in a dangerous area. About half way down the alley she could see a shadow, then a man grabbed her, told her what he was going to do to her, and began dragging her down the alley. Then a thought came to her saying, "Eat your lunch." Thinking that was a strange thought and ignoring it, the man continued to pull her till they reach the end of the alley that turned onto an isolated road. The thought again came to her, "Eat your lunch!" This time it was more emphatic. She struggled to open the sack of chicken.

A short distance down the dirt road was a pack of dogs, scavenging for food. As soon as the young woman opened the bag, they smelled the chicken and ran toward the attacker and the girl. The man immediately let go and began to run while the girl tossed the chicken to the dogs and continued her walk safely home.

Sometimes promptings may not be what we expect, as in this case. The important message here is simply to follow them and we'll receive the blessings that will come.

The 3 Assistants, Elder Asuao, Elder Griffin, and Elder Mecham, came to dinner today and all I have to show for it are a lot of empty plates and their spiritual thought, but forgot the pictures again. Dinner was really good, but their thought was better! It came from the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:13-15. Ether is talking about faith and sights the example of Alma and Amulek and the prison walls falling, Nephi and Lehi baptizing the Lamanites, and Ammon's success among the Lamanites. If you replace the word "faith" with "personal righteousness" you'll recognize that it is our personal righteousness that brings about miracles.

Here's the scripture:

13 Behold, it was the faith (personal righteousness) of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.

14 Behold, it was the faith (personal righteousness) of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

15 Behold, it was the faith (personal righteousness) of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.

So Simple! So profound!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Another Fontenot Feast

The 4 Spanish missionaries came into the office so one of them could take the driving test, thus allowing him to drive. While he was pouring over questions I visited with the other 3. Elder Billings asked me if I've heard any of Elder Peltzer's pre-mission job related stories. I hadn't, so he shared this little tale.

Elder P has a relative who is a mortician. One day they were at a church activity when the mortician received a phone call to pick up a recently deceased older woman. Elder P was asked if he'd like to go along, and he accepted. It seems pretty odd to me that none of the woman's family was there--just the housekeeper. The family knew she's was close to leaving mortality and told the housekeeper to just let the mortuary in to pick up the body. Um, okay.

Upon arrival at the house, the 2 men went upstairs, put the woman's body on the gurney or whatever is used for transporting, and are moving the body down the staircase when she "moaned.!" Elder P said it was really freaky and certainly not something he'd anticipated. The housekeeper was startled and wondered if she was really dead. Response from mortician: "That's okay. If she isn't I have a hammer in the hearse."

Oh, dear! I hope the housekeeper had a sense of humor.

Here we are at the Fontenot's again! Lucky us--and with 10 missionaries. Sister Haskell and Sister Veneble could only stay for an hour, so they were taking dessert to go. We met Sister H at our first, and only, district meeting in Alexandria. She's since been transferred to the Denham Springs area. Sister Veneble is on a mini-mission. I'm not really sure what it's called, but her home is about 5 miles away. She testing the mission waters and decided it's a good thing so will be putting in her papers very soon from what I understand.

Elder Crane and Elder Myers are the Zone Leaders in Denham Springs. Elder M was just transferred in on Wednesday with the mid-transfer. He took Elder Mecham's place and Elder Mecham is now an Assistant. I don't really know either of these elders, but they seem like they have very gentle spirits. I'm sure they're every bit as wonderful as all the others. It'll just take me a little time to know them better. I'd better hurry. I think Elder C goes home in August.

Elder Watkins and Elder Steele are becoming regular faces on my blog. And that's okay with me. They're hard working young men and quite brilliant. I'm NOT looking forward to the day that either one of them gets transferred.

I know that the group picture isn't the best. It was getting dark, but I really wanted a shot of all the elders. They were all just hanging out on the beautiful green grass on an incredibly perfect night, looking like they were enjoying life in general. Please note the Griffin twins--one on each end. Yes it is Elder Griffin and Elder Griffin--the same one. From left to right are Elder G, Elder Steele, Elder Cluff, Elder Watkins, Elder Crane, Elder Myers, Elder Asuao, Elder Mecham and Elder G! How can y ou not love missionaries? They're the best!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coming and Going

Elder Cluff, Elder Steele and Elder Watkins have been 3 very busy elders. They're always fixing, refiguring, renewing, moving, transporting, delivering, etc. someone or something to a new apartment, a doctor's appointment, the airport, a new area, etc. Elder Cluff saved me yesterday when an elder requested a literacy packet that we can't just buy. It's probably 40 pages, color copied on cardstock then laminated. Very time consuming to say the least. He did it while Elder L and I took Elder F to lunch for his birthday. Then he asked if there was anything else he could do today. I generously offered to let him make another packet, full well knowing that it's going to be needed sometime in the future.

Sister Wily and Lucherini came in to get a bike receiver and rack installed on their car. They also needed a vacuum, which we just happened to have. It's the one some elders gave to us and said that it was broken. Elder L cleaned it and it's good to go. Great! Now it's not taking up space in the back room.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


It's two weeks before our regular transfers, but things were pretty shaken up around the mission today. We had our 3 Temple Square Sisters return to Temple Square this morning and picked up two new TS sisters this afternoon. They were in the office today waiting for Sister Miskho to arrive, or maybe Sister Miskho was in the office waiting for them to arrive. Whichever it was, it was like Grand Central Station. Love it! Sister Astle and Sister Bailey brought Sister Miskho in and we shed our tears. The more I get to know the missionaries, the harder it is to see them go to different areas.

Our new sisters are Sister Weidmann, from Switzerland, and Sister Trusciglio, from Italy. What darling sisters they are! They're friendly and very comfortable around people, just like Elder Olsen said. Temple Square sisters are so easily integrated into any surroundings. They've both been serving for 9 months.  Sister T spoke no English when she arrived at the MTC, but she speaks it beautifully now. Sister W's older sister served on Temple Square 10 years ago. Everyone told her that's where she'd be called, but she was sure she wouldn't. So when she opened her letter she just laughed! I wish we'd get a chance to spend more time with them, but neither will be serving in the Baton Rouge area.

Elder Cluff, shown with Elder Watkins, is with the office elders until transfers in 2 weeks. He tore his ACL and is being released early to have surgery. He'd normally go home in 4 months but told me that if you need surgery within 6 months of your release date, you're released ne'er to return--to the mission. He's actually going home to Nevada for a week, will be released by his Stake President, then return to this area for the surgery. He said he doesn't have any place to live so will be staying with a family he was close to in the Denham Springs Zone, where he served for 15 months.

Here are a few other changes. Elder Mecham became an Assistant and will be learning his responsibilities with Elder Asuao and Elder Griffin. Then Elder A goes back to American Samoa at the next transfer. That's going to be a very sad day. Because Elder Mecham moved to the office, he was replaced as a Zone Leader which triggered another move, and so on and so on. I won't elaborate on all the changes, but there were plenty! And the office was buzzing with missionaries most of the day. Also, the Internet was down for several hours, our printers weren't printing, was on strike and the N-Drive didn't work. But by the end of the day the office equipment was running like a well-oiled machine. Thank goodness!

One final note as a follow-up to yesterday's story about the Elder who entered to MTC today. Elder L was taking trash to the dumpster and found a bike in it. He retrieved it, took it to the local bike shop, and they're reconditioning it. Also, there are leftover bike helmets in the garage, so it looks like our elder will have what he needs. I love happy endings.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Missionary with Challenges

How can I be busy all day and have nothing to write about? From the minute we walked in the door at 7:20 till after 5 it never slowed down. I started off with 6 phone messages and was sure they were from Entergy--the power company--because of yesterday's storm. They always call about power outages, and there are always several after heavy rain. Nope! Most of the calls required major attention.

One call came from an incoming missionary who enters the MTC this Wednesday and hadn't sent in any of the required papers that I sent out--twice--to 2 different addresses. And there were 2 different mailings. The first was the initial packet that includes a letter from the President, information requesting the parents' phone numbers and emails, a personal driving record declaration, parent info about where to purchase a bike, et al, a mission map, a page on the LABRM website, missionary handbook (the white bible) and a thick training packet--16 pages, both sides. The second letter also includes a letter from the President and a checklist of everything we have or haven't received.

This missionary has been living in one state then moved to another. I'm not going to go into detail about all the problems that have been encountered, but I will say that the parents are divorced, mom's remarried, tried to have child institutionalized, dad has PTSD, etc. etc. etc. Missionary has been serving as a temple worker in state where the mission call was received. So, what's wrong with this picture? Sadly, everything! I had a total of 5 or 6 calls today to missionary, mom or dad. Fortunately dad stepped up to the plate, saw that needed papers were completed, scanned and emailed them to the office (because it's less expensive than using the mail). Now my heart is breaking because said missionary doesn't have a bike and is required to bring one, or rather have one sent here. I don't know where it's coming from, but dad is sure that the Lord will answer their prayers, and everything will work out. Yes, it will. But "how" is the question.

Mom actually sent a somewhat scathing email to us, and among others points made, wondered why we don't do what they used to do when she served a mission, which is, buy a bike from a home bound missionary. President Wall said that's never even been a policy. That was the nice part of the letter. And now I've said enough. I hope this story will have a very happy ending, or happy beginning, depending how you look at it.

We had our usual office meeting which was much shorter than usual, then lunch with the Wall's, which was much longer than usual. I love these people so much and will be very sad to see them go home. I've learned a great deal from them and wish I could use "bump" to transfer their knowledge and experience into my head. President Wall is wise, patient, intuitive and relies heavily on the Spirit to manage this Mission. Sister Wall has the same qualities and they both have so much love for the missionaries and probably everyone else on the planet.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Memorable Mother's Day!

It was so much fun to wake up and open this beautiful gift from my sweet family. I'd never heard of Origami Owl before, so when the little box was delivered to the office last week I just put it aside as I'd been instructed to do by Commandant Kimberlee.  She told me not to open it until the letters had arrived. Yes ma'am. Just after it came Elder Watkins came in to see if there was any mail, and he just about jumped through the window. Here's our conversation.
"You got a package from Origami Owl?"
"Um, yes, I did."
"Well open it! You have to open it right now!"
"Sorry, Elder W. I've been instructed to wait until the accompanying letters come."
"So, just look on their web site and see what they have."
"I can't do that."
"Yes you can. It's like looking at Harry & David. There's a lot of stuff and you won't know what your getting."
I waited and was so excited about the contents. Each of our families had chosen a charm for me and written a letter about why they chose it. Yes, there are 2 extras. We haven't added any children recently.

After church we went to the Riggs for dinner. They wouldn't let us bring anything this time. Such kind and generous people. Sister Riggs set another beautiful table, and the meal was outstanding! Today's menu included fresh salmon, cheesy potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs, watermelon, salad that included broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cranberries, pumpkins seeds, poppy seed dressing and a few other yummies, dilly bread baked in little flower pots, delicious chiffon cake as the base for strawberry shortcake. (I need that recipe!) YUM!!