Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, August 31, 2014

3 Great Talks

Sister Hill was our first speaker today, and she thought it was ironic that the topic she'd chosen was "Enduring to the End' and there were only 15 members there when she started. So much for our threepeat in the thirties.

Sister H always draws on personal stories, and today was no different. She remembered how, as a little child, she was so excited to leave the nursery (at the age of 3) and begin Primary, because her mom was the Primary President. She also looked forward to being baptized when she turned 8 and was so anxious, because all of the children in her class were slightly older, and she was the last to turn 8. But a few weeks after her baptism her mom called the family together and told them that she'd asked to be released from her calling. And then the entire family quit going to church! That's when the fighting and door-slamming and anger began. Sister H took her little sister, who was six, gathered a few things together, including 73 cents, and tried to run away. They got as far as the drugstore when it got cold and began to snow so they had to return home.

No longer feeling the love and guidance from our Heavenly Father caused many empty years, and it wasn't until Sister H went away to school that the Spirit returned as she began to go back to church. In 2 Nephi 31:19 Nephi asks "...after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?" Then he answers, "Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were y the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."

In other words, this is just a beginning. As we continue to pray, study and ponder the scriptures and take the Sacrament, we find the peace we're looking for. That's why we're asked to endure. And so we need to learn how to pray sincerely, feast upon the words of Christ, partake of the Sacrament each week, and seek to further our knowledge by attending the temple.

Those were just some of Sister Hill's thoughts, so on to Elder Brimhall who talked about the Book of Mormon and how it is the "keystone of our religion." I'll just state a few of the points he made.
Without the Book of Mormon we have no religion.
It's important to have a testimony and apply the Book of Mormon to our lives daily.
Helaman 5:12 " is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his might winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his might storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
We can build our foundation on Christ when we center our lives on His teachings, love the plainness of the doctrine and know that it can't be disputed.
Alma 23:6 talks about the Lamanites who were converted to the Gospel, and once they were converted, they never fell away.
If we're doing what we're asked to do, we have God's promise that we will receive happiness and peace in this like and Eternal Life in the world to come.

Our final speaker was Elder Browning, and he chose to speak on habits, which actually tied in nicely to the other two talks. Elder B used a portion of Elder Delbert L. Stapley's Conference address in 1974, "Good Habits Develop Good Character." He began with the quote: "We sow our thoughts, and reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our characters; we sow our characters, and we reap our destiny."

So our thoughts lead us to our destiny. "We can consciously form good habits, or we'll unconsciously form bad habits."
The way we live outweighs the word we say.
We have to be dependable. If we aren't, we're hypocrites. If we don't form good habits, we'll be cut off. Goodness isn't the absence of wrong doing, but consciously doing what's right.
D&C 58:28 "For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward."

Bad habits can turn into addictions. Elder B share Elder Ballard's story about addiction and fishermen.
During the autumn in Utah the trout are insatiably hungry as they store up for the winter. Fly fishermen have to be deceptively cunning in trying to catch the trout. Just as artificial lures are use to fool and catch a fish is an example of the way Lucifer often tempts, deceives, and tries to ensnare us. Our hunger, or weaknesses, are used by Lucifer and can cause us to be "yanked from the stream of life" to make us as miserable as he is.

Addictions tear apart families, as they did for Elder Browing's parents. They also take away our agency. They're easier to prevent than to cure. Developing a personal relationship with God through prayer will give us the help and direction we need.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another Lunch Bunch Day

How fun would a Costco run be without a few missionaries along to fill up the carts? It's so much better with our tagalongs, because we know how much they enjoy the excursion, and it gives them a chance to get a few things that you just can't find at Walmart. And, of course, there's always lunch!

After lunch all the missionaries went home to get things in the fridge then back to the office to meet some others and head out for a service project. Somehow I missed about 6 others who came to join them while I was in the back filling commissary orders for next week.

The service project was for an investigator who moved to Baton Rouge from New Roads. Apparently the house in New Roads (which is easily 35-40 miles from here, and those aren't freeway miles) sold, and she had to have her things out by Monday. So, missionaries to the rescue. I just hope that most of what's left in the house is already packed, or it may be a very long day.
Elder Morrell, Elder Steele, Elder Trainor and Elder Mecham

Sister Hockemeir, Sister Lindstrom and Elder L

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Tranquil Tuesday

I'm not sure how it goes from hectic to totally dead so quickly, but it did. Am I complaining? Absolutely not! After putting in 7 hours on Saturday trying to get the rosters completed, among other things, I didn't even feel guilty when I came home early for a nap.

Tuesday is always a fun day because it's "new missionary" day, but we didn't even get any today. There were only 2 referrals and 2 phone calls all morning so I made up the cards and summaries for November incomings. But when that was finished I was out!

We did have a few brief visitors.

Elder Fowler and Elder Anderson were going to their district meeting.
Elder Hillam and Elder Smiley were on their way to the Mission Home.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

No Longer Elder Brynden Crane

What a fun surprise it was to just get this as a text. This is the first time anyone has sent me a homecoming text! I'm thinking it must've come from Elder Crane's mom, because I spoke to her a few times during the airline reservation process. Elder C was such an outstanding missionary and will be missed. He's the elder who was a member for about 1 1/2 years before he came on his mission. (Post on Augut 20) He was one of 10 NON members of the church in his Idaho high school. I think he's the only member of the Church in his family.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Adorable Sisters

I almost forgot to introduce 2 adorable, hard-working, sweet sister who really are sisters. This is Maddy and Sophie, the Hansen's identical twins and youngest in the family. The first time we met was at the office when they came to pick up their mom after our meeting. They were on their way to shop for the weeks' activities.

We saw them again on Wednesday. They were up bright and early feeding breakfast to the incoming 23 missionaries. I know they'd done snacks and dinner the night before, and after they did breakfast dishes they were heading toward the bedrooms to change linens. Then they came to transfers and worked like troopers. When we came by the Mission Home to pick up some of the go-homes for the Temple they were already working hard preparing ham, twice baked potatoes, salad and watermelon for the 18 go-homes. And they'd already made birthday cake for the evening as an elder and sister were celebrating their birthdays that day.

Both of the girls are Juniors at BYU. Maddy is studying art history and also got a job in her department as a TA. Sophie is in the graphic design field. They'll be back for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which makes their parents very happy.

Here's a very brief lesson on Southern Speak:
Geet? (Did you eat?)
No. Jew. (No, did you?)
No. Yawn to? ( Do you want to?)

Friday, August 22, 2014

One Exhausting Week!

This is what all of us in the office would like to be doing right now! And there will be little, if any, P-day tomorrow--partly because there's a mountain of work to do and partly because the Office Elders and Assistants kept me laughing and visiting.

Elder Mecham shared his photo album filled with fun family pictures--parents, grandparents, brothers, SILs, nieces, nephews, Angus and one adorable girlfriend. He also showed me a few of his videos from a family reunion and a high school talent show. How could I not just take it all in? Then he locked me out of my office, but not for too long.

Elder Trainor found some almost brand new, perfect fit dress shoes that he thought he should be able to keep as did Elder Morrell, even though the Nikes were 4 sizes too big. I told them they'd have to return them to the elder who accidentally left them at the Stake Center after Transfers.

I'm in the process of trying to locate a new elder's bike which was purchased in June and sent somewhere, but the store where he bought it doesn't know where it was sent. Perhaps I'll take their name off the recommended places to purchase bikes.

I haven't even begun to make the new rosters because there was an error on the transfer board, and until that's corrected there's nothing I can do. The change was submitted today, so maybe it'll be ready to go by tomorrow. I did manage to get 25 "your missionary is a trainer" letters out, and almost finished 25 other letters to new parents with the letter from Pres. Hansen, map, letter from missionary and picture.

We were able to rescue 2 sweet sisters who had a flat tire on one of their bikes. At times like this it's great to have a truck. I haven't sorted mail since Wednesday, sent referrals for 2 days or checked in the distribution order that was delivered on Tuesday.

These are my "Official Photos" of the new Office Elder and Assistant--Elder Trainor and Elder Morrell. They're a perfect fit for this office!

As a follow-up to the post on Sunday, Aug. 10, I came across this article in the August 10 Church News.

LDS Church: Missionaries reassigned from Liberia, Sierra Leone in ‘good health’

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday that their missionaries in Sierra Leone and Liberia have been reassigned and have departed from those areas in the wake of an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
The information released Wednesday on stated: "all missionaries are safe and in good health."

LDS Church officials stated the missionaries would be traveling to their new assignments in the coming days and would be able to call and update their families.

The statement concluded with: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong presence in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where thousands of our members continue to live, worship and serve. The Church, through its humanitarian programs and partners, is in the process of assessing needs and considering how to best support relief efforts to its members and the people of these countries.”

A prior statement issued on August 1 indicated that all missionaries in the nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia were being transferred out and reassigned in order to ensure their health and safety.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Baton Rouge Missionaries

There were several missionaries in and out of the office today, so at lunchtime Elder Lauper picked up take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant. Sister Hockemier and Sister Lindstrom are now serving as BR North Sisters, replacing Sister Schmutz, who went home today, and Sister King, who was transferred to Marksville. I don't know much about Sister Hockemier yet, but I will:) And of course you remember Sister Lindstrom who jumped of the bridge, with her parents encouragement, and broke her ankle.

Elder Trainer, left, is the new office elder replacing Elder Watkins, who's now serving in Gonzales. Another sad farewell. At least he's still in the Baton Rouge Zone.

Elder Garceau, right, and his companion, Elder Smith, were in for Elder S to take a driving upgrade. For more information on whatever that is you'll have to read Elder Lauper's blog. Oh, wait, he doesn't have a blog. Sorry.

Sister Wall called today, and we had a very nice visit. Sounds like they're getting a bit of relaxing time. They can actually go to movies and don't have to sleep with their phones on the nightstands. And they just went to Education Week at BYU with the Olsen's. Good for them! Then Sister Wall asked if I thought it was a good idea or not a good idea to go to the airport and welcome home the 9 missionaries who were flying into SLC today. I told her I thought it was a wonderful idea. She didn't want to be in the way or intrude. Not a chance! Those missionaries served about 80% of their missions with the Walls, and it seems like nice closure for them.

I was so happy to get another call after the Walls returned from the airport saying that it was a perfect reunion. Even some of the other returned missionaries were there to greet the new arrivals. There are some beautiful eternal friendships that began here in LABRM. Sister Hall said her favorite sign of the day was "We've been waiting all our lives to meet you" to welcome a Sister with 3 new nieces and nephews born during her 18 months in the mission.

The Exodus Has Arrived

This is the day I plan and prepare and wait for every 6 weeks. It's what recharges my battery and renews my energy. LOVE IT! The Spirit, the hugs, the excitement, the chaos, and the food. No Subway sandwiches today. Elder Fontenot made enough pastalaya for the masses.) Today was no different, except that it may have been the largest transfer since we arrived in LA. There must have been close to 150 missionaries here, which included the 23 incoming and 20 of 21 go-homes.

One elder actually had to go home about 3 months ago for surgery but was hoping that he could return, since this was when he would have been released if he hadn't broken his ankle. With the extensive surgery I didn't think he'd make it back, but he did, complete with parents and walking boot. Way to go Elder T!

Today was Elder Griffin's last time to conduct a mission meeting as an Assistant since he'll fly home tomorrow morning to be honorably released by his Stake President. This will be a difficult good-bye. But, happily, he'll be replaced by Elder New Assistant, Elder Morrell, who was serving in Plaquemine when we first moved to Baton Rouge.

During the meeting Sister Hansen spoke and quoted this poem used by Elder Holland>

If you can smile when things go wrong and say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe and trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face when all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud, there's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at: There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time must be completely nuts.

Quoted by Jeffrey R. Holland who learned it from President Boyd K. Packer

Thoughts from the soon-to-be-released-missionaries:

Sister Leiter: Work hard every day. If you do God will make our work acceptable to Him.
Sister Paulson: Have no regrets. The Atonement makes it possible to give our regrets to the Savior. If you want to be better sing "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." If you feel alone sing "I Feel My Savior's Love."
Sister Maxfield: Made a tortoise and hare analogy. Don't be arrogant like the hare, but steady and diligent like the tortoise. Love and serve your companions.
Sister Haskell: No Test . . . No Testimony! By the end of your mission you'll not only have a testimony but you'll be converted.
Sister Schmutz: I've learned many things on my mission, but the #1 lesson is the Gospel is the answer to everything!
Elder S. Crane: I wish my name tag had a video camera to record all the good things I've seen. I found my favorite hymn--#169 especially v.2. "As now our minds review the past, we know we must repent; The way to thee is righteousness--the way thy life was spent. Forgiveness is a gift from thee we seek with pure intent. With hands now pledged to do thy work, we take the sacrament." Missionaries have pledged to do Christ's work.
Elder B Crane: I have been a member for 3 1/2 years and thought about my friends and missionaries who converted me every day of my mission. Learn to use the Atonement so you'll have no regrets.
Elder Powell: When we put our confidence in the Savior we can become what God wants us to be.
Elder Virgin: The only acceptance you should ever worry about is being accepted of the Lord. Base the success of your mission on what you've become. Alma 5:46 is my testimony.
Elder Murray: When you find out the Church is true hold onto it tighter than anything. Don't compare yourself to other missionaries. Be yourself and let your talents shine.
Elder Mejia: Be grateful for the challenges you have. They'll help you grow. Love and love every moment. Think of the "Why" not the "Why Me?"
Elder Bischoff: Seek the Lord's will and do it. Be an answer to someone's prayer. Who you are is more important that what you do.
Sister Evans: Say what you think and be bold. There'll be days when you're down but "just do it!'
Elder Mapa: Those you teach you'll come to love as the Savior loves. This is His work. We have to do it His way.
Elder Carter: The Lord places us with companions we need and in areas we need to be.
Sister Pike: Love the people and love your companions.
Elder Stucki: Stop it if you're having bad thoughts about yourself. Go to work, quit worrying about yourself and worry about others.
Elder Araujo: Teach everyone that they are a child of God. The Savior loves them. We represent Him and His Church. "Be a Christlike missionary. Don't just do what missionaries do." (PMG)
Elder Griffin: You will spend 175,000 hours as a missionary. 500 will be spent proselyting. Then someone distracted me and I missed the point! Boo:(

With young people like these, the Church is in good hands.
Just one room in the Stake Center filled with belongings for the newly transferred missionaries
Elder Watkins, his new comp, Singing Sister Dixon and Sister Lyons--joke supplier
Sister Worthington and Sister Baird are Sister Training Leaders in Opelousas
Two of our newest sister--Sister Groesbeck from Alpine UT and Sister Ochs from Yucaipa CA--already have a place in my heart!

Sister Dixon and her new companion
Some of our New Orleans Elders picking up commissary at the office after Transfers

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Let the Fun Begin

How many vehicles does it take to pick up 23 new missionaries? More than it took last transfer to pick up 18! One 12 seat van, one Highlander, one Subaru, two trucks and a trailer. Elder L drove to the airport in his truck and was thoughtful enough to swing by the office with 4 of our new sisters so I could meet them before whisking them off to the mission home for food, naps and interview.  Oh my gosh. They just keep getting cuter and sweeter. I finally met #19! If you don't know who #19 is, go back to the July transfer.

Ok! I'm so ready for this transfer! One of the most important things I'll do tomorrow is to email all the parents to let them know their missionaries arrived safely and give them their addresses. (I know that was too many pronouns and not enough antecedants, but you can figure it out.) So, I entered all the parents' emails in the system. One click and I'm ready to cut and paste the message that their missionary has arrived. One more click and I'll cut and paste the address. I already looked the addresses up and put them into a word document, and if Pres Hansen doesn't change the transfer board between tonight and tomorrow morning it's set to go. With 23 interviews I doubt there'll be any changes between now and then.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Power of Inspiration

In our office meeting this morning we were told who would replace Elder Griffin as the new Assistant. Someone mentioned how happy Sister Lauper would be, so President Hansen asked if we'd like to know how he was chosen. Yes. Of course!

Pres. Hansen said he was praying before MLC that he would know if one of the Zone Leaders was the right Elder for the position. As the meeting proceeded and the missionaries were reading, Pres. Hansen looked from one Elder to the next, waiting to feel something. One by one he looked and waited but felt nothing. Then he listened to Elder New Assistant and he knew right away who he should call. He said the feeling he had was "off the chart!" But he continued on around the room and experienced the same lack of feeling as before. So Elder New Assistant will be announced on Wednesday at the Transfer Meeting.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Full House - Almost!

It was very exciting to look around the chapel just after Sacrament Meeting began and realize that almost every seat was filled--and only two were visitors! For the past few months there have been an average of maybe 20. Today there were 33!

After Sacrament Meeting I was talking to the Sisters about yesterday's activity and how much fun it was in spite of the low attendance. Sister Hill said they'd literally gone to the whole community with fliers and invited so many people. But she feels that their efforts were rewarded today with an excellent turnout in Sacrament Meeting rather than yesterday at the activity. I completely agree with her! They were blessed for their efforts in a completely different way than they'd ever anticipated.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Positive Article in The Advocate

The Branch had a Back to School Bash today, organized by the missionaries. Unfortunately it wasn't very well attended, but those who were there had a great time. It was so fun to see the 4 of the enjoying themselves in their shorts and t-shirts and having a fun day. The water balloons seemed to be a big hit, as was the face painting. If I'd moved over about a foot Elder Browning's dinosaur would've taken off Brother Marchand's head!

One of the best things about Branch socials is having time to sit and talk to people. Today I had a wonderful visit with Sister Harris, and one of the things we talked about was Sister Covington's train encounter. This is an experience that Sister C doesn't talk about to anyone, including her 6 children. So what Sister H told me was bits and pieces that she's gathered from what little Sister C says and from others.

This is what I've pieced together so far. There was a local Baton Rouge establishment, a bar, where everyone always wanted a particular seat. One evening Sister C, probably in her 50's at the time, and a male friend were racing to see who could get there first when, while running across the railroad tracks, Sister C tripped and fell. There were a lot of men standing around, but none were willing to take the chance to help her. The friend turned back to assist and plead with the Lord that if he was spared, he'd take care of her. The friend was injured, but Sister C lost her legs as the train came through. They were both hospitalized, then this is where things become unclear.

It was several years after this that Sister C joined the church. She now lives on her own in an apartment in Plaquemine. The friend did care for her in his home for quite a long time, but then the details just don't come together. She has been to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, is endowed and is a stalwart and faithful member of the church. Quite a courageous lady!

A few weeks ago, not too many days after the Hansen's arrived in the Mission, they were interviewed by a reporter from The Advocate, the big LA newspaper. We've been waiting for it, and today it was on the front page of the religion section. I must admit, we were all pleased with the results. Sister H said that the reporter was very positive and interested, so we were hoping the article would be favorable, and we weren't disappointed.

BR Mormon missionaries get new leaders for next three years
Couple with a mission

Aug. 16, 2014
You’ve seen them riding their bikes or even talked to them after they knocked on your door, a pair of clean-cut young men wearing white shirts and ties or modestly-dressed young women who introduce themselves as “elder” or “sister.”

They are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and more than 180 of them are canvassing the sprawling Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission that stretches from Natchitoches to Venice to DeRidder and Covington.

Overseeing the idealistic young people is Mission President Reed H. Hansen and his wife, Mary Anne Hansen, of Boise, Idaho. They arrived in late June and will be here for three years. The parents of six grown children and grandparents of 15, the Hansens own a successful phone book publishing company that their sons are running while they are away.

“It’s beautiful! I think it’s gorgeous here,” said Mary Anne Hansen during a recent interview. An artist, she is accustomed to Idaho’s dry Western landscape. Louisiana’s lush forests and swamps are fresh, new scenery that she wants to paint, she said, quickly adding, if she ever has some leisure time.

But more than the different landscape, the Hansens said the friendly, Southern culture is a refreshing experience.

“We’ve been so impressed by how kind and generous people are and how they take their religion seriously and are very devoted Christians,” she said. “We don’t see that much in the West.”

“We’re just so grateful to the people who are kind to them (missionaries), even if they don’t invite them in, if they just show kindness to them,” Reed Hanson added. “Because we think of them as our children.”
The mission’s office at 12025 Justice Ave. is across town from Baton Rouge’s church and a separate temple on Highland Road. While the mission is related to the three local wards (similar to church parishes), it does not oversee them, explained Reed Hansen. The Mission office is small but well organized with maps under glass at several office desks and assignment charts posted on the walls.

The Mission is divided into “zones” or areas of Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Lafayette, New Orleans North and N.O. South, and Alexandria. Each area is subdivided into districts that are coordinated with local elders and sisters.

For example, the Baton Rouge area is divided into North (most of Baton Rouge proper), Plaquemine, Gonzales and Spanish Districts. The Mission’s website describes an ambitious goal of 90 convert baptisms per quarter, and baptisms in each district each month.

“We’ll have a young missionary who will be a zone leader and then under him will be district leaders who get leadership training, and there are trainers who train the new missionaries who come in,” Reed Hansen explained. “We try to keep them all on task.”

Exactly how the teams of young men and women and five married couples canvass their own district is up to them, he said. They share apartments in their districts as well as cars and bicycles.

The Mission’s website lists “comings and goings” of several young people each week completing their mission and going home or arriving here after two weeks of intensive training in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A misconception, the Hansens explained, is that young men are required to go on a mission. They are not, but most do. They also, men and women, pay their own way or their family or home ward (church) supports them. Also most of them drive in cars these days with about 40 percent riding bikes.

The missionary men, beginning at age 18, are out for two years and the young women, 19 and up, are away from home for 18 months, the Hansens said. They cannot make phone calls except for Christmas and Mother’s Day, but they can email friends and family daily.

They have no choice where to serve and willingly go anywhere across the world. Right now there are missionaries from Japan, Taiwan, Fiji, Mexico, France, Haiti and the Congo serving in this district, all speaking their own languages and also learning English for an hour a day, Reed Hansen said.

“We send Spanish speakers to Spanish speaking areas,” Mary Anne Hansen said, “and we have a Mandarin Chinese; we’ll probably send him to New Orleans.”

Another misconception, the Hansens said, is that the missionaries are only interested in converting people to their religion.

“I’d say at least half their time is doing service,” Reed Hansen said. “A lot of times they’ll find people who need help in their yards and in their houses and in their businesses. Community service is a huge part of what we do.”

Helping people discover their family history by way of an extensive, computer-based library, is also a motive for service, Mary Anne Hansen added. “Our church, obviously, is very big on knowing their family roots, and a lot of Southerners enjoy that, too,” she said.

The missionaries are out and about most days except for Sundays and Mondays. One recent Monday found a group of them hanging out in the mission office visiting, restocking apartment supplies and playing games.
Erick Araujo, 22, of Houston, has been here for 23 months and is going home before the end of August. A Spanish speaker with a big smile, he served the West Bank of New Orleans.

“I really loved it there. Hispanics are pretty friendly,” Araujo said. “Even if they don’t want to listen to your message, they’ll still listen to you, and they’re not gonna just slam the door in your face.”

After he gets home he plans to find a job and attend college. “I want to become an architect,” Araujo said.
Ryan Glauser, 19, of Redlands, California, has been here for eight months and wants to attend college to become a television sports announcer when he returns home.

“I love it here,” Glauser said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, but it’s the best thing I’ve done in my life.”

Glauser said he finds it hard when “someone disagrees with what you are saying — something you’ve found to be true — and they completely disagree with you and they say ‘you’re wrong.’ And it kinda hurts because you know what’s right and you want them to know what’s right.”

William Watkins, 25, from New Jersey, has been in Baton Rouge 18 months and will go home at Christmas to resume a job in a toy store.

“We call it ‘mission life,’” Watkins said. “When you come out you are born, when you go home you die.”
For more information on the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission, visit

Unfortunately I haven't been able to copy any of the other pictures that were in the paper. Hopefully the Elders will know how to do that.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Adios and Happy Birthday

Sister Hansen invited the Assistants, Office Elders, Elder F and us to lunch as a farewell to Elder Griffin and Happy Birthday to Elder Watkins. She asked Elder G what his favorite thing to eat was, and he said chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes. I've seen the steaks at Costco or Sam's, but she couldn't find them so made them herself. I know she won't ask missionaries their faves again or she may have many new culinary experiences in the next 3 years. But she did a good job, and it's more than I'm ready to attempt. My great contribution was a big bowl of fruit, compliments of Costco. I did remove the strawberries and added a very light dressing of lime juice, honey (about 1 T of each) and fresh chopped mint. YUM. I think I'll put that combination on everything! Good thing mint grows in a pot at the mission home.

Here are a few names that I'm positive you will only hear in LA: Oranjello, Le-uh and Le$ah. Now for the pronunciation: Oh-ron-jallo, Le-dash-uh, and Le-cash-ah! And, yes, those are exactly how they're spelled! Holy cow!

I almost forgot the best story of the day that President Hansen shared with us at lunch. The Hastings, our senior couple in Oakdale, are on fire in their area. They teach. They befriend. They reactivate. And they're great examples. After only 1 month in the field they had a young African American man very close to being ready for baptism. He'd had most of the lessons but was leaving town for a month. When he returned last week the Elders taught him the law of chastity. "Oh no! That's the hardest one of all!" was his response. But he took it very seriously and told his girlfriend that he was going to live the law. After thinking about it for a bit she asked if she could also take the lessons! Awesome!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Time to Talk

With Elder L and Elder F out of the office looking for more apartments, I took advantage of a reasonably quiet day to update rosters, start prepping 22 letters that go out to September incomings, and get rid of really old cards (as far back as 2004). If the church only requires us to keep financial records for X number of years then that's good enough for me. But that wasn't the best part of the day. There was actually some time to have a phone visit with Heidi and get a sort of thorough update on our Arizona family, which included new experiences in Middle School, playing safety in tackle football, ups and downs and new challenges, job offers and job hunting, growing up, nicknames, etc. etc.

There was also some quality time with Elder Mecham and Elder Griffin. I'm not sure I can even begin to describe those conversations. Elder M has a chocolate lab named Angus, because he's a beefy dog. Elder M built him a 2 story doghouse before leaving on his mission. Then there was where Elder G could propose to his future fiance. No, I'm pretty sure he doesn't have anyone waiting for him. Where and when to go to school. How to pick yourself up and move forward when you have 2 investigators/converts and your grandpa pass away, all within 2 weeks, while you're serving your mission. One of my all time favorite talks by Elder Scott on dealing with adversity, "Trust in the Lord" and another that I'm quoting more and more frequently by Brother Ridd on "The Choice Generation." Learning how to hang your slacks up so you don't have zigzag wrinkles across your thighs the next day. Budgeting money, dating, laundry, keeping apartments clean, work ethics, things you learn on a mission that you wouldn't any other way. These conversations were pretty much across the board. Wonderful young men! The good-byes just get harder.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dinner with the Spanish Sisters

It's so much fun to get together with our missionaries for longer than 5 or 10 minutes and get to know more about just how missionary work is going. 

Here sits Sister Jewett and Sister Bailey, two future doctors! They're both amazing. Sister J will finish her undergraduate work at Weber State then wants to attend University of Oregon for med school. Sister B was going to UVU but didn't really like it so she'll go elsewhere. She did have a full ride to UCLA before her mission but isn't so sure they're holding her place. She'd love to go there then on to U of U for med school. Talk about high achievers. But they're both very accomplished in other areas. Sister J loves to rock climb and rappel and is a certified instructor through the Boy Scouts. She's also quite musical and plays several instrument as does Sister B. 

We introduced them to Voodoo's then made a quick run through Bass Pro to see the exciting things the Denham Springs BPS has to offer:)

Here's Sister Lyons' joke of the week:

One Sunday a pastor told his congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.
After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he'd like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate.
And there sat our Rosie all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns.
Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three most handsome men in the building and said, "I'll take him and him and him!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Another Change in Plaquemine

So, why is the first picture in black & white? Because Elder Mecham was playing with my phone last night!

We may have had a few more changes last week than I'd mentioned, because I wasn't sure what I should say. The word is kind of getting around so I'll basically share what Elder Brimhall mentioned this morning when he was introduced in Sacrament Meeting. He's new to LABRM but has been serving for 10 months in Africa. He and our 2 other new elders came back to the states because of a disease in their missions. He's from Snowflake AZ and I feel a very special something about him.

Sister Baba is one of our 2 new Temple Square Sisters, and, as has always been the case, she's delightful and friendly from the moment you meet her. She was born in Japan, raised in Chicago, and has lived in Montana, Utah, New York and a few other states. She received her mission call in New York, went to Temple Square and is now in LA. I know we'll love having her here and hope that she'll get to spend her 3 months here in Plaquemine.

It was High Council Sunday and we had 2 outstanding talks, but I just want to mention one example that Brother Richardson shared. As a younger man he served in the military and was on a nuclear submarine. Maybe things are different today, but back then (when there was only one mission in California) the sub needed to surface every 6 hours to get a reading for where they actually were. They didn't come out of the water but had an antenna that did, and they could navigate from the reading their exact location. Most of the time it didn't really matter if they were slightly off, but sometimes it did. In our lives we sometime get off course, but by making regular evaluations of our lives we can make necessary adjustments and corrections to get back on the straight and narrow path.

Dinner with the Assistants

Honestly, these 2 do have their serious moments, but they're few and far between when we see them. They came for dinner Saturday night and gave a great spiritual thought--an object lesson with colored ping pong balls and salt--on priorities. Elder Griffin will be released on Aug. 21 and it will be very sad to see him go.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Singing Sisters

Today took me back, sort of, to my Girl Scout days. Sister Lyons (my supplier of jokes) and Sister Dixon came into the office to bring a car from one district to be given to another district and a few other things. They came into our little office, sat on the floor, sang and told Pokemon and Pikachu jokes. It reminded me of the song we sang in GS that said "The more we get together, together, together. The more we get together the happier we'll be. For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends. The more we get together the happier we'll be." One of the songs Sister D sang and played was an original about some of our missionaries--very funny!

Why don't you let Pokemon in the bathroom with you? He'll Pikachu!
How do you get Pikachu onto a train? You Pokemon!

Then Sister Cleere and Sister Baird came in and joined in the fun before taking the singing sisters home. They're actually our Opelousas and Lafayette Sisters and live in the same apartment in Lafayette--about an hour from Baton Rouge.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cool Elders & Cute Sisters

Elder Watkins, Elder Soper, Elder King, Elder Morrell & Elder Mapa. Can you guess which 4 are on their way to MLC?
Sister Allen and Sister Brady on their way home (to Thibodaux) from MLC.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Today's Serious Miracle!

If anyone doubts that prayers are heard and answered I will totally disagree! Much to my surprise, the 20 cases of books arrived this morning. Part of my surprise was because I never received an email that the books had been sent, which was a bit discouraging. So, happily, we are no longer out of copies of the Book of Mormon, and I will never let them get that low again!

It was actually a very quiet day today, so, after parcelling cases of books to companionships who almost didn't get them, I took advantage of the time to work on cards and summaries for the September transfer. I had another surprise this morning when we received notice of another sister coming in September. That puts us at 22 with only 10 going home.

So how fun was my afternoon when these 4 hermanos came into the office. Elder Glauser was on exchanges and brought his passport into the office for safekeeping. We usually collect all the passports at orientation, so I was surprised to see it, but glad. It's much safer for us to keep it under lock and key and lock and key and lock and key. Then they don't have to worry about it, especially whenever they're transferred.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sister Jewett and Sister Bailey

I just love these sisters! They stopped by the office today on their way to Hobby Lobby. It's P-Day, and it must be kind of nice to do something a little different from the norm.  You've already been introduced to Sister Jewett and Sister Bailey, but here they are again. Notice the little bottles of hand sanitizer that they're holding thanks to Danielle. They were in the Bath & Body box and she suggested I share them. Great idea, since it's not likely that I can use 15! They were so excited.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen, Sister Weidmann

I think I like words like Auf Wiedersehen, Au Revoir and Aloha much better than Good-bye. It's much less final to say farewell, till we meet again or see you later. Good-bye is just too final.  Sister W will fly back to Temple Square Wednesday morning, and she will be so very missed in our little Branch.

She's had a wonderful connection with the members and non-members alike. In fact, the women who work in the local public library threw a going away party for her. That must have been the quietest party on record! Sister W and Sister Hill have been doing weekly service in the library and have become close to the librarians. Last week these sweet sisters taught the Restoration, and this week they'll show the film, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration." I'd say their service is beginning to have some very positive results.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Senior Social

President and Sister Hansen had the fun idea of getting the Senior Missionary Couples for lunch today, so 10 of us met at Prejean's in Lafayette. The Bibles are our newest couple who are Military Relations missionaries at Fort Polk in Leesville. They went to Oakdale and drove to Lafayette with the Hastings.
It was so good to meet the Bibles as we hadn't had that opportunity. They're at least 3 hours from Baton Rouge and haven't made that drive yet. The Kellers came up from Morgan City, and we drove with the Hansens. What a great idea that was. And I loved the food which, today, was pepper jack shrimp. Yeah, I know your mouth is watering. Here's the description: Three large shrimp stuffed with pepper jack cheese and Tasso (a spicy sort of ham that's a specialty in south Louisiana cuisine), wrapped with apple wood-smoked bacon, fried and served over crawfish cardinal sauce with rice dressing and corn macque choux. That's just a fancy name for sweet corn with the southern holy trinity and tomatoes in a tart shell. The corn was great. The tart shell is still in a little foil liner.

Here's a little about Prejean's. It's located in the heart of French Louisiana--Lafayette. The idea for what would become the world's first Cajun-themed restaurant began when the owner, Bob Guilbreau, visited several Mexican restaurants in California where "more than just Mexican food was served." Bob liked that they captured the joy of their culture with a combination of food, traditional live music, dancing and laughter. Traditional music is played by live Cajun bands and today we were introduced to Zydeco music. It's usually played with accordion, electric guitar, bass drums, and a corrugated metal rubboard.

As we were leaving these 2 adorable Opelusas Sisters popped in to drop something off to Sister Keller. Always fun to see our missionary family. (Sister Cleere and Sister Baird)

After lunch 8 of us went to Avery Island for the Tabasco tour and samples. The Bibles and Hansens hadn't been there yet, so it was a new experience for them. Something I hadn't noticed before were the beautiful trees covered with ferns! I've seen tree trunks and branches covered with a variety of growth but never ferns.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Good News! Bad News!

The good news is that we went through 1200 copies of the Book of Mormon last month and ordered 800 more.

The bad news is that the 800 copies didn't come, and we are now officially out of copies of the Book of Mormon--unless someone needs Spanish.