Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Where did that year go?

I woke up this morning with another song in my head. I always wake up with songs in my head, and most of the time I don't know where they could possibly come from--like "Surfin' USA" or "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." My brain is truly a wonder in a strange sort of way! But this morning my head was singing "I May Never Pass This Way Again." I'm sure I haven't heard or thought about this tune for 100 years but am thinking it's a bit of inspiration on this last day of 2014 and has caused me to reflect on our past 366 mission days.

Here are the lyrics, just in case you've never even heard them, which is more than possible:
I'll give my hand to those who cannot see, the sunrise or the falling rain.
I'll sing my song to cheer the weary along, for I may never pass this way again.
I'll share my faith with every troubled heart, so I shall not have lived in vain.
I'll give my hand, I'll sing my song, I'll share my faith, because I know,
That the time is now to fulfill each vow, for I may never pass this way again.

I'd say that, even though this is not "Church music," it certainly is filled with principles of the Gospel--serving, lifting, loving, fulfilling covenants! Alma 34:32 comes to my mind. "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God' yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

It's been such a blessing to be serving here in Louisiana, and we've met some of the most incredible people here--missionaries, members and non-members. My hope is that, in some small way, I've been able to touch a few lives as so many have touched mine. It's likely that our paths will cross with our Mission Presidents, Senior Couples and many of the LABR Missionaries, but there are numerous people here that I will never see again after we complete our mission. So, now is the time for me to do everything to make the next 6 months the best ever!

New Year's Eve Day in the office was anything but quiet! We thought that things would be slow and we'd slip out around noon for a peaceful rest of the day. Wrong! Even though there were hardly any phone calls, there was plenty to do and lots of activity. There were missionaries coming and going so quickly that I didn't even get but one picture. But it was a happy time visiting with at least 7 companionships. That's always my downfall--visiting over working--which doesn't really bother me.

We do have an approaching "crisis," for lack of a better word, that needed to be addressed. Maybe it's only a crisis to Sister Hansen and me, but here's the situation. Sometime in early November I scheduled all the Zone Conference for 2015 and asked the Stake RS Presidents to make arrangements for the lunches at each of the conferences. We normally do 6 conferences in 2 weeks. The wards take turn preparing meals for 35-45 people. Very recently we found out that Elder Teh, from the First Quorum of Seventy, will be here on January 12 and will be doing a mission tour, which actually means combining the 2 New Orleans zones on one day (about 65 missionaries) and the other 4 zones on the next day. That's about 130 to feed and a lot of building rearranging!

With all of that under control, we left at 2, went to lunch then came home and dropped into bed for a 2 hour nap!
Elder Ware and Elder Wise, our Liberty Elders, and, of course, Elder Bennett who loves to be a part of  all photo shoots!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Return of Drew Griffin

Elder Morrell and Elder White didn't have much time yesterday, on their P-Day, to get haircuts, so they changed into P-Day clothes, so they wouldn't get hair all over their suits, and went to my hairdresser to get free cuts. Barbara is good to do that for the missionaries. But the last time I saw the results of her cut on a missionary was when Elder Griffin was in the office, and his hair looked pretty bad. When he asked what I thought, I sort of had to fudge a bit. Well, Elder Morrell wasn't totally pleased with his look, so he went home and tried to even things up. Then he came into the office and had Elder Bennett use the paper scissors to improve things.We had a pretty good laugh over haircuts, both Elder Morrell's and Elder Griffin's.
Elder Bennett trimming Elder Morrell's hair

The Final Result
About 5 minutes after we had the haircut conversation I was back working on the computer when I heard the door open. I looked up and saw no one so I figured the Elders had gone outside and went back to work. Then who should pop up from the other side of the counter but Elder, now Drew, Griffin! What a great surprise that was. He and his family have been traveling in a motor home since some time last week and visiting friends in Florida and also many of Drew's mission areas. Made my day! We had to break down and tell him the whole hairdresser story, and the Elders told him what I'd said about his Barbara haircut. 
The returning Drew Griffin, now a student at BYU-I
The cute Griffin Family

Monday, December 29, 2014


Our last two activities were a drive through Metairie Cemetery and lunch at Rocky & Carlo's in Chalmette, then it was sadly time to say good-bye to Ryan, Arlene and the boys. We had such a wonderful week, and it went all too quickly.

After a quiet Sunday we returned to the office for the first full day in over a week. Surprisingly, it wasn't completely crazy. Not too many phone messages or emails, and the referrals were tolerable. They've become much easier now that I sort of know the areas.

We did have our usual Monday morning office meeting, and that's what I want to include in this blog. Elder Hansen shared a story that President Riggs, our Stake President, had shared with him and his companion a few weeks ago. They'd had a long, exhausting, day and didn't feel real productive. Their last visit for the day was at the Riggs' home. Pres. R could tell they weren't their usual energetic selves, so he gave them this story. It applies quite effectively to missionary work, but also, to any of the Lord's work. It came from a web site that wasn't related.

Just P.U.S.H!

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down; his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: "you have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't moved." Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this?" "Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough." That's what he planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock."

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Houmas House

This is the sky that greeted us as we headed for the office for a few hours before our excusion to Houmas House. Pretty amazing!

Houmas House, or "The Sugar Palace," may quite possibly be my favorite plantation yet. The gardens were beautiful as winter begins. I can only imagine how profuse the vegitation will be in the spring.In it's early beginnings this plantation sat on 300,000 acres traded from the Houmas Indian Tribe for the equivalent of $150. "Houmas House" tells the story of wealthy sugar barons who built the plantation and developed 30,000 acres to become the largest sugar producing business in the United States at that time.Houmas House is considered the "Crown Jewel of Louisiana's River Road."
Part of the 38 acres of tropical plants, ponds and fountains

Houmas House--a 16 room estate which has been completely restored and contains collections of antiques, artwork, china and artifacts.

Lots of beautiful portraits throughout the mansion

Our guide in the original kitchen. She was the best

Another photo shot of the beautiful grounds

There have been several movies filmed here and even a segment of Top Chef. But my favorite would have to be "Fletch Live." I think I'm going to need to rent that somewhere, because not one bit of what we saw looks familiar.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas


I'm printing this article 1 week after Christmas, because I've just now had time to sit down and read The Deseret News and Church News from December 21, 2014. This article is one of my favorites.

The 3 Levels of Christmas

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special awareness of and appreciation for family and friends, the feelings of love and brotherhood that bless our gatherings at Christmastime.

In all of the joyousness it is well to reflect that Christmas comes at three levels.

Level 1: Santa Claus
Let’s call the first the Santa Claus level. It’s the level of Christmas trees and holly, of whispered secrets and colorful packages, of candlelight and rich food and warm open houses. It’s carolers in the shopping malls, excited children, and weary but loving parents. It’s a lovely time of special warmth and caring and giving. It’s the level at which we eat too much and spend too much and do too much — and enjoy every minute of it. We love the Santa Claus level of Christmas.

Level 2: Silent Night
But there’s a higher, more beautiful level. Let’s call it the "Silent Night" level. It’s the level of all our glorious Christmas carols, of that beloved, familiar story: “Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus ….” It’s the level of the crowded inn and the silent, holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of Man came to earth. It’s the shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings, the new star in the East, wise men traveling far in search of the Holy One. How beautiful and meaningful it is; how infinitely poorer we would be without this sacred second level of Christmas.

The trouble is, these two levels don’t last. They can’t.

Twelve days of Christmas, at the first level, is about all most of us can stand. It’s too intense, too extravagant. The tree dies out and needles fall. The candles burn down. The beautiful wrappings go out with the trash, the carolers are up on the ski slopes, the toys break, and the biggest day in the stores for the entire year is exchange day, Dec. 26. The feast is over and the dieting begins. But the lonely and the hungry are with us still, perhaps lonelier and hungrier than before.

Lovely and joyous as the first level of Christmas is, there will come a day, very soon, when Mother will put away the decorations and vacuum the living room and think, “Thank goodness that this over for another year.”
Even the second level, the level of the Baby Jesus, can’t last. How many times this season can you sing “Silent Night?” The angels and the star, and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of the holy night itself, can’t long satisfy humanity’s basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manger will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.

Level 3: Jesus Christ
No, for Christmas to last all year long, for it to grow in beauty and meaning and purpose, for it to have the power to change lives, we must celebrate it at the third level, that of the adult Christ. It is at this level — not as an infant — that our Savior brings his gifts of lasting joy, lasting peace, lasting hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable, who so loved us all that even in his agony on the cross, he prayed for forgiveness for his enemies.

This is Christ, creator of worlds without number, who wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other — and then who willingly gave his life for all of us, including those for whom he wept. This is the Christ, the adult Christ, who gave us the perfect example, and asked us to follow him.

Accepting that invitation is the way — the only way — that all mankind can celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.

"The Three Levels of Christmas" was published as a Church News "Viewpoint" in the Dec. 15, 1985, issue of the Deseret News. It was written by then-editor and general manager William B. Smart. It was reprinted in the Deseret News on December 21, 2014.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Festival of Bonfires

There are pages and pages written on the tradition of burning structures on the levee of the Mississippi River, but I didn't feel like studying them all, and certainly, no one will want to read much. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, in a nutshell, here's the folklore. What you hear mainly today is that the the bonfires are to light the way for Papa Noel. The light from the fires assures that Santa will be able to find his way to the homes of good girls and boys of Saint James Parish. One other possibility is that the fires were lit to help people cross the river after dark on their way to and from church and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It's also probably another great reason to get together with family and friends for a party!
Lunch at Santa Fe Cattle Company before heading down to the levees on the Mississippi
Before burning Papa Noel's boat, gators pull it down the bayou

Most of the sturctures are this tepee-style pyre. They go for many miles down the River.

A big part of the fun on Christmas Eve is the "tailgating" atmosphere--lots of friends, fun, fire and food!

At 7 pm the structures are lit, and even when it's 45 degrees, there's plenty of heat..

Monday, December 22, 2014


After an hour in the office, we took off for Avery Island and the Tabasco Factory and Basin Landing in hopes of beating the odds seeing gators. The Tabasco Factory is always fun, but we ended up doing the tour with a busload of tourists from France, and our Tabasco guide was more interested in the Frenchman who was interpreting than what she was supposed to tell us. Good thing we've done this at least 4 times so we could fill in the missing pieces. Today's Tabasco was being bottled for South Africa--one of over 100 countries that sells Tabasco. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but this is the only bottling factory in the world.
1-Bronson and Arlene (Is the 12 year old son supposed to be 6" taller than his mom?) 2-Ryan inspecting the product 3-Bronson enjoying the labeling process 4-A few of the Tabasco products. My personal favorite is Raspberry Tabasco with Sweet and Spicy running a close second.
When we made our reservations for the swamp tour a few weeks ago, we knew that the possibility of seeing the alligators at this time of the year was slim. But the weather's been cool to warm without freezing so we were keeping our fingers crossed. Usually they're hibernating in their dens by now, but today we hit the Jackpot! Some of the young 'uns had been pushed out of the den by mama gator, so about 12 - 1 1/2 year olds were hanging out together in an area of vegetation with their 4 year old big brother watching them. 

Next stop was by one of the dens where there must've bee 20-25 babies born in the spring. This isn't a great picture, but there are at least 6 little gators one the band. Some of them are black with little yellow stripes.Tucker, our favorite guide, was kind enough to hang out at both locations to allow us time to watch the happenings. Bronson was so happy--not only with the alligators, but also with the spiders, ladybugs, frogs, and anything else he could get his hands on. (That doesn't include the gators.) Gavin sat up by Captain Tucker and assumed the role as co-captain. We all had a good laugh while we were watching the gators and Gavin hit the horn. Capt. T said Gav jumped about 2 feet out of his seat. 

The basin looks more like a spooky swamp this time of year. There's a lot of gray trees and Spanish moss that makes the whole area look very eerie.
Bronson in his glory--Mother Nature's best friend. He loves all God's creatures, large or small.

I love the root system for the Cypress trees, and some day I fully intend to learn about it, but not tonight!
Added on Tuesday: The feature that bald cypresses are really known for is their “knees.” This a special kind of root. The technical term for the knees is “pneumatophore,” which means “air bearing.” Pneumatophores grow from horizontal roots just below the surface and protrude upward from the ground or water. Since bald cypresses often grow in swampy conditions, it’s thought that the pneumatophores function to transport air to drowned roots underground. They also might help to anchor the tree.
Gavin, the Co-Captain

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thoughts from Sacrament Meeting

I always get myself into trouble if I don't write almost immediately on this blog. But Ryan, Arlene and the boys arrived so recently, and we were having so much fun that I put it off until today (Tuesday). Now things are a bit foggy, so I'll just have to wing it. This past Sunday was the Sunday before Christmas, so "programs" are very different in small branches. There's no ward choir, no primary, and no special music, but we did get to sing 5 Christmas Carols and have 3 good speakers who focused on the Savior and His birth, so I'm just posting some of the things that were said with a few personal comments.                                                                                       Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. What a timely scripture and painting for Christmastime. Only we can open our doors and hearts from the inside to allow the Savior to come in. The original painting, not the one I've posted, is by the artist, Holman Hunt, entitled "The Light of the World." Brother Marchand talked about some of the symbolism that was in the first painting, such as, the weeds that cumber from daily neglect, a bat in darkness symbolizing ignorance, the royal robes of Christ as a sign of His reign over body and soul, and a night scene illuminated by a lantern carried by Christ symbolizing Him lighting the way. Lots to think about.

Brother Trent talked about the gifts of Christmas, and said that the first gift was love, then quoted John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He shared the story of "Christmas Jars" by Jason F. Wright and that the Lord blesses those who give without expectation of getting anything in return. 
Brother T also shared some of the symbols of Christmas and what gifts, decorations, lights, parades and Santa can remind us of at this time of the year.
Bronson and Gavin at the smallest church in the world
I've got to quit posting pictures of Mike, but Ryan really does get the prize for the best pic ever of this beautiful Tiger!
Love this grandson who now looks down on me. We're at the capitol and the tree in the lobby is absolutely stunning!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

NOLA with the RML's

What do you do when your family arrives at midnight in New Orleans, and by the time you exit the airport, it's 12:45 am? Get to the hotel and go to bed? Absolutely not! You head to the French Quarter for a driving tour and Cafe du Monde for beignets! It's a good thing that we did because there were so few people  in the cafe that beings served was the fastest we've had. By morning the lines were all the way down the street, and it would've taken forever. Also, the streets were as quiet as they get in the French Quarter, so driving was also a breeze.
Our cute grandson, Bronson, and his beautiful mom and our daughter-in-law, Arlene
Arlene took this picturesque shot just after the rain had stopped.

We now have pictures of  6 of 10 grandchildren with Tom Blakey, the WWII vet with the 82nd Airborne who parachuted into a cemetary on D-Day. He told the boys the story of the "crickets" and how our soldiers learned to distinguish between German and American soldiers at night time.

Bronson and Gavin posing with a group of young men at the museum for a reenactment

Bronson taking cover.
We checked off Sucre, a New Orleans pastry shop on Arlene's bucket list. They saw it on "Unique Sweets."
A few delicious offerings

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Breakfast Feast!

Last Monday I received a call from Elder Bennett's mom who was trying to talk without her son knowing she was on the phone. Since he was standing directly in front of me that didn't go real well. She wanted to know what day it would be convenient to send breakfast or lunch for those in the office. We decided on this morning. 

But here's the pre-story. Sister Lund, his mom, lives in Utah but works for a company whose headquarters are in Baton Rouge. So she travels down here regularly! I think her office is only a few miles away. Imagine being so close & yet so far. But she & Elder B never break the rules. Here's Elder B, Elder Hansen, our new office elder, and Elder L preparing to dig in. I may have to order from this place again. Today's offering were 3 varieties of wraps, pastries & bagels, fresh fruit & oj. Thanks, Sister Lund. That was a wonderful & delicious gesture!
Elder Morrell is having surgery on his pinkie finger today, and thus the P-Day clothes on a Friday.  Last week he had an unfortunate basketball accident which resulted in a broken finger:( I'll be posting the before & after X-rays one of these days. Before with the break & after with pins. 
And now another coincidence. Danielle, our eldest who has the son preparing to leave on his mission, was introduced to a Facebook page for missionary moms. Today there was a post from a mom whose daughter just returned from the LABRM yesterday. It was Sister Wily's mom! And Danielle has also had an exchange with Sister Steele's mom & someone who knows Sister King. I may have to break down a get on Facebook again. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sister Thornley's Surprise

I don't know if the moon is full right now or not, but there's a lot of crazy stuff going on right now. The calls and emails are really weird!

Tuesday we received 2 "interesting" pieces of mail. There was a letter for "Elder T-ravy" with no return address or even a postmark, and the stamp looked Japanese. Then there was the box from Walmart for Elder A. Let's see. We have 5 elders with last name beginning with A and 4 with first names. Well, that really narrows it down. We decided that the Assistants would take them to transfers and ask if anyone could legitimately claim them. Surprisingly, they did. Elder T-ravy said he'd ask his friends to use his name in the future. Then, this morning, there's an email from the mom of one of our new elders. She wanted to know if her son received his razor. "Walmart sent it to Elder A." Her son's initials are TR. Elder Bennett and I laughed so hard over this one. I'm still completely baffled.

Dad left a message wanting son's new address, because he was being transferred. I called him after transfers yesterday and gave Dad son's new address. Dad left another message 2 hours later. We'd already left for the temple session with the go-homes. He wanted to know if the address I'd given him was correct.

Email from mom whose daughter was just transferred. (President Hansen had given missionaries permission to email parents after they were transferred so parents could mail Christmas packages to their abodes, thus avoiding having to field calls from every parent as to where their child was now living or having to figure out how to deliver everything that comes to the office.) Mom says, "My daughter says she's now living in a trailer. I think she probably means a mobile home. I'm wondering if it's safe." Yes, it's quite safe. Our sisters love it there. They had the opportunity to move but were very happy there. And, no, it isn't a mobile home. She really does live in a trailer, behind the car wash. I passed that one off to Elder Fontenot as soon as he walked in the door. He can calm anyone's fears and concerns about Louisiana!

Now for a fun story. Sister Thornley has been keeping a secret from her family about her actual release date. Originally it was after Christmas, so when it changed, the 2 Sisters Thornley made a plan to surprise the rest of the family. That meant keeping the Bishop & Stake Pres in the loop so they wouldn't spill the beans, using a plain envelope & my Cedar City return address & sending some of the correspondence to a friend's house for 4 months so no one would find out at home. (I had so many notes on the go home sheet to keep myself from blowing it.)

Everything went perfectly, then mom T let dad T in on the plan this morning so he could go to the airport & surprise Sister T, the younger. It must have been a very tearful, joyous reunion. 

So here's Sister Wily & Sister Thornley and Sister T with her parents.

Sister Wily and Sister Thornley

Sister Thornley, Abby, with her parents

And one more pic of some of our favorite elders--Elder Benson, a Baton Rouge ZL, Elder Crook with his new companion, Elder Drollinger& Elder Wittig, the other ZL. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Transfer Challenges

Transfer Day never fails me! My battery is recharged for 7 more weeks. Seven because Salt Lake changed a few of our dates so this week's transfer wouldn't come on Dec. 24. It was another inspiring day, but there were a few bumps in the road. The biggest one was that it was a small transfer--maybe 60--but about 100 showed up for the strangest reasons that I won't go into. Anyway, Elder Fontenot was making chili, so we knew that there'd be plenty for the main course. Sister Hansen had ordered bread bowls, but Whole Foods made them larger than she'd requested. That turned out to be good. We just cut them in half. The biggest problem was the plates, cups, spoons and cuties, so Marc ran to the store. Then Sister Hansen ran to the store again for more dessert. Everything worked out just fine, but I think there'll be some new guidelines for who should and shouldn't be attending Transfer Meeting!

Then there was the mail. I totally botched this one. Because it's Christmastime and lots of packages have been coming into the office, we thought it would be a great idea to get as many as we could out to missionaries coming to transfers. I knew it would be pretty chaotic but planned on getting passing it out after the meeting. I'd sorted it into zones and districts and put it on the stage. Simple, right? I'd hand out mail while other worked in the kitchen. They wouldn't miss one body. Wrong! The Bible's didn't come because his mother passed away and they're in AZ for her funeral. Sister Fontenot didn't come because her 99 1/2 year old mother had a stroke and was in the hospital. The Keller's didn't come because they were released last week. So while I was in the kitchen before the meetinghad even started the missionaries were in the cultural hall rummaging through bags of mail and some of them (I hope not too many) even figuring out where they'd be transferred to. That's a huge NO NO! No one is supposed to know that information until the President announces it. Yikes!

Sister Hansen always speaks after the opening hymn and prayer, and she always has something important and memorable to say. Today she quoted Neil A. Maxwell who said that we are to understand that the reality of life is that this is a gospel of growth, and life is a school of experience, God as a loving Father and will stretch our souls at times. The soul is like a violin string; it makes music only when it is stretched. (Eric Hoffer).

Elder Maxwell also cited on of my favorite C.S. Lewis excerpts about the remodeling of the human soul and a living house. "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottate, but He is building a palace."

Then Sister Hansen told the missionaries to think about their missions as a huge remodeling.

The meeting closed with the missionaries' "things I've learned."
Sister Allen ~ This is the Lord's work. If we want to be happy we need to do it His way. Be obedient.I was the happiest when working hard.
Elder Burch ~ Working the hardest was when I had the most fun. With the Atonement, everything is possible. The work's hard enough, so avoid drama!
Elder Jones ~ I've loved my mission, all of the experiences, my growth and conversion. This IS a marvelous work. The Lord could do it by Himself, but he gives us the opportunity to help Him.
Elder King ~ Trials stink, but the blessings will follow. I have a testimony of the Atonement.
Elder Soper ~ I'm grateful for this experience. It's changed my life forever. Never pass up an opportunity to make a memory. Use the Book of Mormon every day. Prayer works! Heavenly Father hears you.
Elder Myers ~ Let your mission change you. I didn't understand that until I applied the Atonement in my life. It can help you overcome anything.  Heavenly Father knows and cares about you. Each of us has a story to tell. When you're obedient you can help those who need your help.
Sister Wily ~ Lose yourself in your mission. You'll only serve once as a young missionary. Learn who you are. The Lord already knows who you are.
Sister Ogden ~ Briefly told the story of Charles Blondin, who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After crossing, he asked it the crowds watching believed he could push a person in a wheelbarrow across the Falls. They all shouted "Yes, yes, yes!" Then he asked for a volunteer. No one did. Sometimes we need the faith to "get in the wheelbarrow" and meet our challenges head on.
Sister Thornley ~ Sadly, I was called out to help with the kitchen crises but was told that Sister T's comments focused on patience.

Here's just a few pics of our mighty missionaries.
Elder Ruesch, Elder Erickson and Elder Benson having a drink of water

Elder King, one of our go-homes, flanked by Elder Stewart and Elder Sargeant
Elder King and Elder Morrell were in Plaquemine when we first started attending there last January. Now he's on his way home and Elder Morrell is an Assistant.
Elder Jones, another go-home, and Elder Haynie
We're really sad to see him returning to AZ. It took a bit of time to get to know him, but what a great missionary he's been.
Elder Jones' mom should get an award for the best letter writer of the mission. While Elder Jones served his last several months in Baton Rouge his mail came to the office. (They were having mail delivery problems because the mailman wouldn't deliver due to hornets' nests.) She never missed a week, and usually there were 2 or 3, not just 1. I was even the fortunate recipient of one, and it made my day!

Adorable and fun--Sister Thornley and Sister Wily--both returning home to Utah tomorrow
UGH! The tears just keep coming

Elder Hale, feeling so much better after his shoulder surgery and Elder Andrews

A very sad Elder Bracken, who'd just spilled chili on his tie, and Elder Gillen, the football player

2 more beauties--Sister Roberts and Sister Allen
Siter Allen also goes home tomorrow. Her family is picking her up in their motor home.
Former companions--Elder Navitikula, now in Luling, and Elder Abbott, still in Baton Rouge

One of our brand new sisters, Sister McMullin, replacing Sister Ogden in Natchitoches, with her trainer, Sister Arntz

After transfers, back at the office
Elder Elison, Elder Ralph, Elder Whittier and Elder Schaffer