Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Many Faces of the Assistants

The office was buzzing today with lots of missionaries. President Hansen was interviewing in his Justice Avenue office so there was a lot of coming and going. While that was happening the 4 office regulars were hamming it up again. What I need to do is turn my phone over to the Elders more ofter and see what turns up. It could be very enlightening. Elder Morrell is always a willing model. Elder Mecham usually turns the other way when I grab the camera. But today Elder Morrell was having some fun with the panorama shots.

Sister Hansen also stopped by while the President was occupied, and it's always so much fun to have her in the office. She's such a gentle and thoughtful person, and it's been a pleasure to get to know her.

Just another day in the office!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Heart Attack!

When we arrived at the office on Monday morning this was our greeting--A Heart Attack! What a fun surprise! I thought I knew who'd made us so happy, but it wasn't until today that I discovered I was wrong. It was the Plaquettes--Sister Baba Sister Lindstrom. Sister B was returning to Temple Square today and wanted to do something for Elder L and me so they covered both windows with hearts, Halloween and Princess decals. So sad to send Sister B back to Salt Lake. She's been a delight to get to know and have in our branch. But, after her mission, she'll be attending BYU Hawaii. We could visit her and Sister Stennett. What a great idea:)

We're not sure if one of the 2 new TS Sisters will replace Sister Baba in Plaquemine, but we should know by Sunday. Sister Fiso and Sister Amar just arrived this afternoon. Unfortunately, Sister A was on the phone when we took this picture of Sister Hansen, Sister Fiso, Sister Pearson and Sister Lindstrom.

Sister Fiso is Samoan but her home is in Australia and Sister Amar is from the Philippines. Sister Baba actually knew both of them before she came to LABRM and said they're a barrel of fun. Can't wait to get to know them!

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I received this picture of Holden, soon-to-be-Elder, Smith today. After a lengthy recuperation he'll be returning to LABRM next Tuesday with our 10 new incoming missionaries. This picture was taken last week at the Idaho Falls Temple. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lafayette Missionaries

Sister Lucherini, Elder King, Elder White and Sister Lyons are 4 of our missionaries from the Lafayette Zone. Elder L and Elder W are the Zone Leaders and one of the things I love about them is that they get their commissary orders in on time. Little things like that seem insignificant but make a big difference for me. They ROCK! They're also outstanding missionaries. Too bad they weren't in the office long enough to visit, but they had an appointment.

The Sisters, on the other hand, stayed around most of the day, so we just had lots of fun visiting, shopping and having lunch at Costco, and being serenaded by Sister Lyons who wrote a song for Elder L and me while she was sitting in the office. And she was accompanied by herself of the ukulele. If I could figure out how to get the video on here you'd be able to listen to it.

Sadly, Sister Lyons will be released next week and return to Canada. But she's coming back to BR in January with her parents to run a half-marathon with her dad.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet the Mormons"

Marc and I just watched "Meet the Mormons." I hardly know where to begin. If you haven't heard about it or seen it, this is what you might find on a flier or imdb.

"Meet the Mormons examines the very diverse lives of six devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Filmed on location and across the globe, Meet the Mormons takes viewers on t journey into the day-to-day realities of individuals living in the U.S., Costa Rica, Nepal and beyond. From their individual passions to their daily struggles, each story paints a picture as rich and unique as the next while challenging the stereotypes that surround the Mormon faith."

On a more personal level, this was a powerful and inspirational film that was thought-provoking and reminded me of how much I have to be grateful for. You can't help but be touched by the stories of these 6 individuals who teach a variety of lessons--one person can make a difference; we can rise above any challenges that we face and receive strength beyond our own; families are high priority; service is everything; there's always hope--to name just a few.

Ultimately we are all children of a loving Father in Heaven, and He is involved in our lives. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, our Brother and Friend. He lived and died and was resurrected to make all of this possible. The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes the connection between the realities of here and now to what will be if we can endure to the end.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Look who's back!

Look who's back in the mission office today. It's Elder Watkins and Elder Myers. Since Elder W left the office he's been in Jefferson (on a bike) and now in Denham Springs as a Zone Leader with Elder M. Elder W 's 2 years is rapidly coming to a close, but what a stellar missionary he's been. He's a few years older than most of our missionaries and with that comes maturity. Now there's a trait that's very desirable in any mission! In January, Elder W will head to BYU where he attended before his mission. That's a good thing, since he's from New Jersey. At least Elder L & I might get to see him once in awhile. All the best to you Elder Watkins. We love you!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mission Car Inspections

Lest anyone thinks that our Office Elders don't have enough to do, maybe this will change your mind. At the 6 Zone Conferences last week and this week, Elder Trainor and Elder Adkins inspected ALL the mission cars--somewhere around 64 give or take a few. Missionaries are expected to wash and thoroughly clean their cars before bringing them to ZC. My guess is that the OE's back them into spaces and line them up precisely before doing inspections. 

I want to make it perfectly clear that I didn't take this picture of Elder Trainor & Elder Adkins relaxing in the cultural hall. At least my pics usually have a bit more clarity. Someone sent it to me, and I was glad they did. It's always nice to see these 2 able to relax, even if it was for only 2 minutes!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Four Elders Dracula!

Just when we were about to call it a day, in walk the Assistants and Office Elders--home from the Alexandria Zone Conference. Elder Trainer had a package waiting for him and guess what it contained. Yup! Halloween tricks and treats. So they came out with their Dracula teeth and striped shades. How can you resist a picture of these 4?

Please note: There is unity amongst these companionships! You can tell which ones serve together by the coordinating ties. Great, isn't it? I can't remember if I ever mentioned the story about the Wall's accidental unity program. The first day they were in the mission, back in 2011, Pres. Wall asked Sister Wall to pick a tie for him. She happened to select one that matched what she was wearing, and all the missionaries thought it was pretty neat that they matched. So from then on, for 3 years, Sister Wall chose Pres. Wall's ties every day, and they always matched. Somewhere along the way the idea was born that companionships should wear ties that coordinate to show they were unified. (I don't know what the Sisters did.) So, at least for today, Elder Trainor & Elder Adkins and Elder Morrell & Elder Mecham are unified!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sister Baba, the Ballerina

Last Sunday in our branch I noticed that the tops of Sister Baba's feet were taped with wide adhesive tape. There wasn't much time to visit that day, so when she and Sister Lindstrom came into the office today I asked her if she was okay. This pint sized missionary is never without a smile. She said that she'd done years of ballet, maybe 12 or 13, and it caused her arches to break down. She tapes them with support under the arches and wears inserts, but I'm sure she's in constant pain. You'd never know it. But she'll be returning to Temple Square next week where she'll probably be on her feet even more than she is now. I hope she can get some kind of help soon.

The three of us had a fun visit about everything from "Cajun Night Before Christmas" to Holden Smith's return to the mission in 2 weeks and everything in between.

Sister Lindstrom is good to keep in touch with some of her former missionary companions, like Sister Stennett, who's now probably relaxing on the beach in Kauai (her home) and preparing to head off to Provo and BYU.

Holden Smith, aka Elder Smith, did call and let us know that he's coming back to the mission finally. President Hansen also mentioned it in the meeting yesterday. I didn't know Elder Smith very well before he went home for surgery since he'd only been out for almost one transfer. He seemed pretty quiet and reserved. But now when we speak he seems like a totally different person in a very good way. He's absolutely on fire and so anxious to get back to LA. And we're ready for him. I'm so glad his surgery went well and that he's received a clearance from his doctor to return to missionary work.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elder Mecham's Sad Tale

What can I say? Elder Adkins is back--with his creative TP decor and notes. We've missed you, Elder A!

Elder Mecham & I were visiting again this morning, and he told me a sad tale from his childhood. When he was about 8 years old he went with his family to Highland Park (about 1 1/2 hours from his home in Sugar City) for a weekend outing. It sounds like it's a place where you can rent cabins, or maybe they have one there. Anyway, the vacation time came to an end and they all got into the car to drive home. All of them except Elder M who raced down the driveway but to no avail. He said he came within a few feet of the car but not close enough to bang on the trunk, and no one even saw him. So he sat down on the drive and started to cry.

Elder M said he felt hopeless, because the cabin doors were locked and there was no phone inside (or maybe there was a phone that didn't work) even if he could get in. After an hour and a half an old truck with 2 scruffy looking men inside saw him and stopped to ask what was wrong. He explained to them what had happened, and they offered to take him home. To an 8 year old little boy that sounded like a pretty good proposal.

Fortunately, that's exactly what they did. They dropped him off at the end of the driveway and drove off. They didn't even take him to the front door! So Elder M walked around to the back of the house where all of his siblings were jumping on the trampoline! They hadn't even missed him! Pobrecito! Now that's really sad. Apparently this was a case of parents thought he was with grandparents and grandparents thought he was with parents. At least he can laugh about it now.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Words of Wisdom from President Wall

I was just reading some of President Wall's last letters to the missionaries and thought this excerpt was meaningful and a significant entry for my blog.  It would have been written around the end of June, 2014.

Remember, Oh Remember

Remember….I am a child of God. He is my loving Heavenly Father and everything He does is to help me find peace and happiness in this life and to have eternal life with Him. I was exceedingly faithful and valiant in the pre-mortal existence and foreordained as one of the great and noble spirits that was prepared from before this world was created to come forth at this time.

Remember…Jesus suffered and died for me. He has already paid the price to have my sins forgiven and through His tender mercies I can be strengthened, healed and delivered from bondage.

Remember…I have the gift of the Holy Ghost and I will strive to always recognize and act upon the Spirit which will tell me all things I must do. I will be ODD, I will observe, discern and do as the Spirit directs.

Remember…I have learned what it means to Love, Serve and Teach. Service has taught me how to love and be loved.

Remember…I will partake of the scriptures every day to be nourished by the good word of God. I will continue feasting upon the Book of Mormon and share it with others

Remember…I believe in miracles and that I have angels watching over me and my loved ones.

Remember…I will start and end every day with prayer and ask to find and help those in need of hope.

Remember…Joseph saw God and Jesus. Heavenly Father restored His Church with all the principles and ordinances that will bring me back to him. He uses mortal men and women who are not perfect but try their best to work in His Church.

Remember…I will be a life-long missionary.

Remember…As a missionary, my name and the name of Jesus Christ are over my heart. When I am released, I will continue to have His name in my heart. I will attend sacrament meeting regularly to remember Him, to take upon myself His name, to receive His spirit and to obtain the blessings of the atonement. There is Power in Preach My Gospel.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Goofy Guys

This must have been some kind of silly elder day, because they were all pretty goofy. Not sure where Elder Trainor and Elder Morell were coming or going on this bike, but it probably doesn't matter. They certainly couldn't get far going in this direction!

And then there were the Spanish elders being "blasphemous." At least that's what they told me. I'm not exactly sure what this was all about, but they had ties over their shoulders and name tags covered as they came through the door. They stop by 2 or 3 or 4 times a week to see if they have any mail. Today they picked up 3 letters and a package so it was a happy day for them. That's a balloon in Elder Howald's mouth, not gum!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Final Farewell--Until June

Look what Elder Lauper just found on the Mission Website. This picture was taken at the last MLC on October 8. I think I won't list all of the names, but these are the mission leaders in each of our 6 zones along with President & Sister Hansen, the Assistants and Office Elders.

Elder Steele and Elder Lauper at the Baton Rouge airport

Elder Trainor and Elder Adkins before sending Elder Steele off to meet his homeward bound flight. I received a text this evening from Sister Mom Steele letting us know that Elder S arrived home safely. As much as we'll miss him, we're so glad he'll now be able to get the medical help he needs to recover. Adieu, Elder Steele. See you next June:)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Farewell Dinner with Elder Steele

Okay. I know this isn't exactly a mission related pic, but I couldn't resist including it. Our grandson, Marc, entered a photography contest for a climbing magazine and came in first place. We were impressed with the quality of the photo and pleased with the results. Here's a quote from the magazine article.

"Of note, I’d like to call out first-place photographer Marc Blocker. This 18 years old  didn’t have the money for a fancy flash to light up his nighttime photo, so he dirt-bagged it, taking the long exposure of his brother by improvising with headlamps, flashlights and the flash off a second camera to balance with the natural light of the moon. His hard and creative efforts produced the winning photo, as judged by readers such as you. "

But I can tie this into something missionary, because Marc, a BYU Idaho freshman, is in the process of waiting for his mission call.:) His papers may be in--or not. He may be anxiously awaiting the opening of the envelope from Salt Lake--or not. But it will happen one of these days.

I think I need some photography tips from the grandson. Bad Lighting. Bad Color. But really cute Elders. This was our farewell dinner for Elder Steele. Just in case you need a reminder, this is from the left, Elder Trainor, Elder Steele, Elder Adkins (with his glasses that I haven't seen before), Elder Morrell and Elder Mecham. Office Elders and Assistants--some of the finest young men you'll ever meet.

Six Super Missionaries

I think Elder Mecham threatened me within an inch of my life if I didn't include this pic. So for you, Elder Mecham, here it is, but it might not be here for long.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Off to Brazil--Finally!

I thought I was going to have to go home and start the day over after getting off to a bad start. We received notice of one new missionary so I was making up the usual "new missionary" packet. It took 4 times to get the President's letter printed correctly! First attempt it printed on the color copier, but the letterhead was in the laser printer. Second try printed upside down and doubled sided. Third attempt I stamped the President's name upside down. Finally achieved success on #4. I readily admit to some of those mistakes but not all. Last night the router was changed, and I'm sure some of the settings got mixed up. At least that's how I rationalize it.

Because of 2 of our elders leaving, we've had a few changes made in the mission. Elder Jenson, on the right, is finally off to Brazil after waiting forever for his visa. He went into the MTC in December, came to LA in January, received notification that his visa had come in, and was scheduled to leave 2 weeks ago but was in an accident. It wasn't serious, but it was decided to keep him here for 2 extra week to be sure he was physically OK. He actually came out with 2 other elders going to the same mission in Brazil. The other 2 were only here for one transfer, got their papers, then left in March. There must be a reason that Elder J had to stick around.

Elder J was born in California, but the family moved to CO when he was 2, and that's where he's been ever since. He's one of 10 children and the 4th son to serve a mission. The birth order is boy, girl, boy, girl, etc all the way down the line, which makes him about #7.

Elder Larkin is Elder J's current companion, or at least he was until today. Now he has Elder Adkin's former companion, because Elder Adkins is coming back into the office! Oh happy day! This is actually one of those good news-bad news kind of situations. Sadly, and I mean really sadly, Elder Steele will be going home in 2 days. He has had some health problems for several months that the doctors can't seem to resolve. (I'm beginning to wonder about the doctors in LA.) So he's going home to get better. And that's all I can say without tears.

So, the good news is obviously that Elder Adkins is coming home. He's a seasoned Veteran in the office which will make the transition very smooth. Actually, Elder Lauper sort of campaigned to get him back. Learning all that needs to be done is no small task. Elder Trainor is doing a great job but hasn't had quite enough time to learn everything and train a new office elder.

Elder Adkin's former companion, Elder Hacking, is Elder Larkin's new companion. There's a picture of him on the Oct. 1 post. He's the 3rd of 5 children and has and older and younger brother and sister. His parents and 3 siblings will be picking him up in 3 weeks in their RV. Nice that he doesn't have to worry about overweight baggage and sending his bike home. His oldest sister won't be accompanying the family to pick him up, because she just got an internship with "The Friend," the Church's publication for children. Now that doesn't even sound like a job. It just sounds like a ton of fun. Isn't that what Mark Twain said. Something like, "if you find a job you love you'll never have to work a day in your life." (That's probably a bit paraphrased.) I hope Elder H's sister loves her new job.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lots of Lauper Fun!

We came into the office for a few hours this morning while the KBL's slept a little longer and packed. Just before we left, Elder Mecham's brother, Michael, stopped by for a short visit before heading off for Air Force Officer Training somewhere else in the South. Actually they staged this for me because Michael came in yesterday and went to church with Elder M. Thanks for indulging me.

When we got home Ara was sitting in a chair watching a you-tube singing nursery rhymes. She was actually conducting this one. Please note the little arm ready for the downbeat. She also sings many of the words. We love having another brilliant grandchild. We had to go back to New Orleans for the Lauper's to catch their flight, so we made a few stops at places we missed last week.

What could be better than playing peek-a-boo with your Mom in the Metairie Cemetery?
Tic toc with Dad!
Ara found a little gator table at Avery's, where we had lunch. Thanks to Bronson and his super expertise on Yelp, we were able to eat at 3 establishments that we'd have never found without him. And they were all delicious. I need to figure out how to navigate that site.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quality Time with Ara

On our way to Nottoway Plantation we stopped to take a picture of the Madonna Chapel in Bayou Goula--the world's smallest church. It is said that when the eldest son of Anthony Gullo, a poor, local Italian Sugar farmer, became seriously ill, the father pledged a chapel to the Madonna if the boy recovered. He did recover, and Anthony kept his promise. The chapel was built on the Gullo property with lumber donated by local residents. It received additional fame when it was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Annual Mass is actually held on August 15. That could be a very chummy church service. August! Louisiana! I hope it's short!
Ara & Mommy on the garden swing after a tour of Nottoway.

While Marc, Bronson & Rosa took a swamp tour, Ara and I spent some quality time at the boathouse. Now I know why Bronson sends us so many pictures of the back of Ara. She's perpetual motion on steroids. This is one busy little angel, and I loved every minute. She loved this little Halloween tree.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking New Orleans by Storm

Friday morning we were up and going, on our way to the WWII Museum. But first, breakfast. I'll never forget Ara's reaction as we opened the fridge. She saw the grapes and yogurt--2 of her favorites--and said, "Oh Gosh! Oh Gosh!" Then she grabbed the yogurts, popped them apart and attempted to pull the lid off. We're off to a great start!

I felt so sorry for Bronson & Rosa having to be up and out the door by 8:15 am since they came from California. They're on Pacific time which is 2 hours earlier, but no complaints.

We arrived at the Museum soon after it opened, got tickets for "Beyond All Boundaries," then went directly to the train "ride." Pictures today will be unlike any I've ever posted from the museum before--a little museum and a lot of Ara:)

Ara's looking a little like she might like to go back to bed.

While Dad, Mom & Pa-Pa went to the movie, Ara & I were inside, outside, upstairs & downstairs. This is a pic in the Victory Garden.

Flying high with Daddy outside the Boeing Center
Not interested in guard duty
A lady can never have enough beads--Mardi Gras beads. Ara put these on and kept them on all day Friday and all day Saturday. We were lucky that she only found her green frog beads to wear to church!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Littlest Arrival

It's inspection time for many of the mission vehicles, because it seems like there have been several missionaries coming into Baton Rouge to get the work completed. All of our cars are registered in East BR Parish, which means they all have to be inspected here. Which is really kind of ridiculous, because they're all licensed by the state.

Elder Caina and Elder Passey came in from the Westbank, which is past New Orleans, today with their car, so I had a few minutes to visit while they were in the office--specifically with Elder Caina. He came on his mission from San Diego but was actually born in Peru. His family moved to the US when he was 7. Then his parents divorced and mom remarried a non-Spanish speaker, so Elder C had to learn English to communicate (and probably also to survive in school). After that, his family didn't use Spanish. But he didn't need a refresher course in the MTC, since he was only there for 2 weeks. He doesn't have even a hint of a Spanish accent, but I'll bet his Spanish sounds very native.

Elder Ross and Elder Stratford, left, came from New Orleans, and Elder Gillen and Elder Toone from DeRidder, a good 3 hours away.

Sister Morris and Sister Boehme are from Chalmette (where Rocky & Carlo's is)
They also had to bring their car about 80 miles--one way!
My apologies to our wonderful missionaries, but the best part of today was meeting this little munchkin at the New Orleans airport. Ara, Bronson & Rosa will be here till Monday.  We're looking forward to a ton of fun with them. We saw them in December, before we left for the MTC, when Ara was 7 months old. We've been able to watch her grow through modern technology, but she's so much more fun in person! Of course, she took to Pa-Pa. They've had a unique relationship since she was very small.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Returned Missionaries

Elder Mecham received these pic from his mom, I think. The cute trio is the former Elder Helie, Elder Mecham's mom, and former Elder Griffin. They may go by Todd and Drew now and are students at BYU-I, which is very close to Elder Mecham's Idaho home. So they went to visit the Mecham's.

We miss these two but know they're having a great time at school after having completing successful missions.