Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making Eternal Friends

What fun to attend a ward with a whole congregation! I know 80-90 doesn't seem like much, but to us it's huge! And it was such a good meeting. Sister Arntz just happened to be one of the speakers. We always love hearing from our missionaries. They have powerful and sincere testimonies. Sister Arntz is from Richmond, Kentucky and says it southern and very much like Louisiana, except there are hills and no Cajuns!

Unfortunately, the time came all too soon to return to Baton Rouge and leave our missionaries. Elder and Sister Hastings serve in Oakdale with Elder Rush and Elder Barker, who happens to be a friend of Elder Smith's from Idaho. He asked the Hastings to get a picture with Elder Smith so here it is:)

Sadly, the last pic of Elder Mecham and Elder Smith is blurry, but by the time I realized it, it was too late.
One more pic of the 8 of us. The Bible's had to get back to Leesville for church, so they didn't make the photo shoot.
Not too long after arriving home, after 3 1/2 hours in the car, our 2 Baton Rouge Spanish sisters asked if they could stop by one their way home. What a treat! They'd had kind of a long day with all of their appointments cancelling. I think they must've needed a door to open and a few hugs. Always glad to have sisters to hug! We haven't had much time with Sister Palmer since she's only been in Baton Rouge for 4 weeks. She's from Mesa AZ and 4th of 5 children. She's been out just a few weeks longer than we have, so we'll all (except Sister Bailey) be returning home in June. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Weekend in Natchitoches

Several weeks ago we made plans with the Hastings to go to Natchitoches for the Festival of Lights. Then we found out that the Bibles would be joining us, and the frosting on the cake was knowing that we'd be able to see our Natch missionaries--Elder Mecham, Elder Smith, Sister Ogden and Sister Arntz. Jackpot!

First we met for lunch at Lasyone's to experience their meat pies--one of the things Natch is known for. Lasyone's is an authentic Creole Cuisine experience. Their recipes have been handed down through a family with deep southern roots. James Lasyone was a butcher for 25 years, then he started working on his meat pie recipe in the 1950's. After grinding the meat, several women made the pies in their homes for many years. Then, in 1967, he opened his meat pie kitchen.

James got his first national break when the editor of "House Beautiful" magazine came om for some meat pies in the early 1970's. Since then they've been recognized by a number of celebrities and "raved" about by magazines including Southern Living, Cooking with Paula Deen, The New Yorker, Glamour Magazine and a variety of others.

So what's a meat pie? The Natchitoches meat pie is a regional dish from northern Louisiana and is one of the official state foods. Ingredients include ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers, parsley, pepper, garlic and a pie shell, and it's very similar to an empanada.
Sister Arntz and Sister Ogden
Elder Smith and Elder Mecham
We had a very casual afternoon, just walking around this town that celebrated their 300th birthday earlier this year. Well, they're actually celebrating all year!  Established in 1714, Natchitoches is located on the banks of the 36 mile long Cane River, which isn't really a river but a lake, and is the first permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory and oldest city in Louisiana. It's a quaint town with French charm and the place where the movie, "Steel Magnolias," was filmed. It has a Landmark Historic District and is recognized as the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Louisiana.
At Christmastime every year, Natchitoches hosts the festival of lights with over 300,000 lights and 100+ pieces which are lit every night from the end of November 22 through about January 6. Other festivities include a parade of lights (which I doubt would rival Disneyland, but great for LA), carriage rides through the historic district, parades, fireworks and a lot more!

Several of the Christmas pieces along the banks of the Cane River
By the time the fireworks had finished, we (the 6 seniors) were ready for a small evening snack. After driving up and down, back and forth from one end of South Street to the other, we tried Chili's, only to find a line out the door and along the building. Our next stop was at Subway. (Yay! Marc and I had just had breakfast there this morning.) And who should we find at Subway? Our missionaries! They'd been at the fireworks handing out candy canes tied with bows and invitations to watch the First Presidency's Christmas Message next Sunday. Subway had also been their second attempt at finding a quick bite to eat.
Elder Mecham and Sister Ogden

Are these not 4 of the most delightful, fun missionaries you've ever seen?
Sister Arntz and Elder Smith

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sister Hansen invited any of the Baton Rouge Zone missionaries who didn't have dinner appointments to share Thanksgiving at the Mission Home and anyone who wanted to stop by and say "hi" could come at any time. We had 17 total, but I'm sure many more will drop in for dessert or games. This was probably one of the most relaxed days that missionaries have during the year. It was nice that they could just "hang out."

While the games happened in the family room, Sister Hansen, Maddie, Sophie and I were getting our Thanksgiving Feast ready in the kitchen. The three Hansen ladies had made 5 beautiful pies last night and President Hansen made cornbread dressing and horseradish green beans. I think he also was responsible for the turkey this morning. My contribution was pretzel salad, pea salad, mashed potatoes and pumpkin rolls.
Elder Soper, Elder Bracken & Elder Sato playing a game I've never heard of with Pres. Hansen and a few other elders.

Turkey with all the sides.

Elder Sato and Elder Hansen

Elder Smiley, Elder Soper and Elder Sato
Ready to eat!

Maddie (left) and Sophie with 2 of their beautiful and delicious pies
Sister Hansen and Maddie
It's been wonderful for Sister Hansen to have family here. Three years is a long time to be away.

Sister Ririe is an accomplished pianist. She sat down after dinner and began playing Christmas carols. The Christmas Season has begun!
The Game Room

Serious Game Players
Serious kitchen help! These 3 insisted on doing dishes, so we let them.
Elder Hansen (not related to the President), Elder Bracken and Elder Soper

All in all, it was a very pleasant Thanksgiving Day. If you can't be with your family then there's no one better to be with than Missionaries!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Elder Hale

Elder Hale, from Hawaii, just had surgery on his shoulder (fortunately, not the rotator cuff), so he's been recovering at the mission home. So this is what recovery looks like--casual clothes and unshaven--but always a smile! Now he's on his way back to New Orleans

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Cane Experience

Today Elder L introduced the Assistants and Office Elders to sugar cane. I'm thinking this was a first for some of them. Unfortunately, Elder Morrell had already given up on his piece, spit it into the trash and popped a piece of candy into his mouth before the camera was ready.
Are you sure this is edible?

Maybe it's not so bad, but don't swallow it!

A little hard to bite
Still working on it

Not so sure about this

I don't think Elder White has a black eye. Maybe it's just the lighting.

Elder "Homer," aka Adkins in his P-Day clothes and ready for the Zone volleyball tournament 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Called to Serve

I woke up to this instagram--a picture from last night with grandson, Marc, reading his mission call. One of the best comments to the IG was from my niece who responded "March FORTH! (4th) Perfect!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good, Better, Best

Today was one of those days that started off great and just got better. We left home around 6:45 am for the Baton Rouge 1st ward Building. This is the "Bishop's Storehouse" for our area. Every other Saturday a bobtail loaded truck comes from the storehouse in Slidell MS with the welfare orders for our area.

We unload the truck and take the goods into the cultural hall where tables are set up, labeled and waiting for boxes and crates to be unloaded. It runs like a well-oiled machine with volunteers stacking, stocking, pushing (shopping carts), pulling (items off the tables), checking, boxing and bagging. Pretty impressive organization. Today there were actually 2 trucks because of Thanksgiving.

After a few hours working at the storehouse we drove out to Maringouin to get a "tour" of sugar cane harvesting. Pat Newchurch, a member of our branch, has acres and acres of cane on her property and offered to show us around when it was time for harvesting. The problem is that the harvest season is from early September until, sometimes, early January. And when they start in her fields they could actually get finished before we have time to drive there from Baton Rouge. Fortunately, they were getting close to her area, so we actually made plans yesterday, and it worked out perfectly. The day was beautiful, warm enough to not need a sweatshirt, and no rain. Muddy Louisiana dirt roads are the last thing we wanted to deal with. 

Six foot rows
The first 2 pictures of  fields that are already harvested and starting to grow. Right now LA is in the process of changing from 1 row every 6' to 2 rows every 8.' Which means for 24' they'll be able to get 6 rows of cane instead of 4. Cane doesn't need to be replanted every year--just every 3, but they're working on every 4. On the off season they grow soybeans. As far as planting cane goes, they actually lay a few stalks lengthwise down the rows. Cane stalks grow like bamboo with little knobby kind of joints. That's where the sprouting happens. Wikipedia might be a better place to search if you want something more technical than "knobby" and "joints!"

The rest of the pictures are just the trucks harvesting, loading, and dumping the chopped cane, which is taken to the processing plants. There are about 3 of them in the area, and during harvesting season, they run 24/7. They process the cane and separate the syrup from the sugar. Then that's sent to the refineries to turn in into a variety of sugar products. And I have no idea where those refineries are.
Eight foot rows

Harvester chops the cane, dumps the stalks into the wagon, and blows the shuck back into the field

The shuck, or chaff, being blown back into the field. It'll be burned later.
The wagons are perfectly synchronized with the harvester

As soon as one wagon is full another one is right there to be filled
Wagons unloading cane to be taken to the processing plants

Each large truck (on the right) carries about 95,000 lbs of cane. No wonder the LA roads are a wreck!
A better view of the fields

As much as we enjoyed the storehouse experience and sugar cane tour, the best is yet to come. Our grandson, Marc, put his mission papers in a few weeks ago, and today's the day we learned about his call. But first, a brief explanation. Marc has been at BYU-I this semester, but he was having his call sent to his home in California. About 2 weeks ago his home Bishop told his mom that Marc's assignment had been made and that his LETTER should arrive by the end of the week. Sure enough, it arrived last Saturday, and Marc was still in Rexburg. We had to wait a whole week for him to get home for Thanksgiving. So today we've been on pins and needles waiting for him to get home. He drove down with his uncle on Friday, and they stayed at their cabin in Apple Valley, then went rock climbing with Karina and Tanner all day. The entire family has been dying from the anticipation.

It's now 10:15 pm and we just facetimed with the family, and here's the 2 things everyone wants to know--where and when. The answer is the Italy Rome Mission, entering the MTC in Provo for 8 weeks on March 4, 2015! Wow! With all the conjecturing I don't think anyone guessed that one. OK, so we had 405 or so places we could have chose. I think he'll be there for the dedication of the Rome Temple, which should be toward the end of 2015 according to

So, to Marc, our eldest grandchild, congratulations and thank you for making a lifetime of good decisions that have allowed you to be prepared for this calling from the Lord and from a Prophet of God! You've been such an outstanding example to your brother, sisters, cousins and friends and will continue to be so as you serve in Italy. In your heart and actions you are already "The Fourth Missionary." I love you, Elder Blocker. Vai con dio! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Prairieville Sisters

It was a pretty quiet day in the office which allowed me to work on my RS lesson for Sunday. This is actually the first time I've had to get serious about it. Life is so much simpler here. Back in California I would have started a month ago but a few days of serious pondering then we'll discuss the entire Conference talk. I love how the Branch stays right with the manual or whatever the course of study is with very little deviation.

Early this afternoon these sweet sisters came in from Prairieville to get a tiwi installed in their car. Ten minutes and they were on their way so there wasn't much visiting time. I don't even know where they're from. :(

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Elder Abbott's Chiropractor

Elder Abbott and Elder Jean Louis dropped by the office today while in between Elder A's chiropractor appointments. Here's the story. He called the chiropractor's office this morning to see if he could make an appointment. They weren't too busy so told him to come in at 11 am. When they arrived there wasn't a receptionist at the window, so they were waiting for someone to notice that they were there. A few minutes later the doctor came out, took one look at them, and told them he was busy and to leave. Elder A asked when he could come back, and the doctor told him, "Never!"

Then, a bit later, the receptionist called Elder A and asked why he hadn't come to his appointment. Apparently there are 2 offices and she was in the other one. So Elder A told her what had happened. Then she rescheduled him for this afternoon.

That's when they came into the mission office and told me the tale. Elder A was pretty miffed and shared his experience. I asked him why he was returning. I certainly wouldn't have. He said he was taking the higher ground. Oh great! Another teaching moment on tolerance for Sister Lauper. I told Elder A I wanted to know "the rest of the story," so he texted me later this afternoon. These are his words: "So the story ended well! We went there and he apologized for getting rid of us, because earlier that week some JW's had come. Anyway, he ended up being a really nice guy and probably one of the coolest doctors I've ever had. He said he also knew the old mission president from the 80's and asked if the mission home was still on Tiger Bend. So it worked out well:)"

I did ask if the visit was worth it and Elder A thinks he's a better chiropractor than the one he had at home and is feeling really good right now. Happy day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making a Sad Day a Glad Day

The best way to get over a heavy heart (because Kimberlee went home today) is to have lunch with a house full of stellar mission leadership. Sister Hansen had invited us to come for lunch at MLC, because she said they wanted to celebrate Elder Lauper's birthday, which is Sunday. She didn't mention that her birthday was today!

Sister Dunn, Sister Hansen's new assistant, prepared a delicious Thanksgiving Feast for the 24 Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. And what a meal it was!

Sister Betts, Sister Baird and Sister Worthington (L to R)

Sister Hoskins, Sister Wily and Sister Encizo

Sister Steele and Sister Monk

Sister Jewett, Sister Black and Sister Miskho

Sister Astle and Sister Jewett

Elder Drollinger, Elder Benson and Elder Mellor
Elder Andrews and Elder Morrell

Sister Dunn and the scrumptious feast

Selfie of Sister Baird and Sister Betts

Me and Sister Baird--I can't wait for this girl to get back to SUU next fall!

Elder Watkins, Elder Myers, Elder Ruesch, Elder King and Elder Gosch

Birthday Girl--Sister Hansen and Sister Jewett

As always, Elder Lauper is thoughtfully taking it all in. He prefers crowds of 4 or less:)

The Birthday Cake

Back at the office--The Spanish STL's are photo bombed by Elder Bennett