Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sister Biver's Trunkie Papers

Because they're mailed to missionary apartments, I'm never around when any of the missionaries receive their "Trunkie Paper," so today was another first. Sister Biver and Sister Butterfield came into the office at the very moment I was putting an international stamp on the envelope holding Sister Biver's Release Letter and Certificate of Release to her Stake President in France. The letter to her, her parents and Bishop were right on top of the outgoing mail pile, so she opened her letter right then and there. What in the missionaries' letters is really no surprise. It's just their itinerary and a flier reminding them what to bring to the mission home the night before they leave (flash drive, support card, tiwi card, etc.), weight limits for luggage and other exciting things like that. The only surprise is the time they actually leave BTR and arrive at their home airport. But still--It Was A First:)

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Amite Sisters and Pastor Dixon

Just a note today from the office meeting this morning. President Hansen asked if any of us listened to the radio broadcast yesterday. Did any of us remember that there was a radio broadcast? I didn't, but it was just briefly mentioned about 2 weeks ago.

Here's what I know of the story. Our Amite Sisters have been teaching a woman, Pastor Dixon, who also has a radio talk show. She invited the Sisters to be on her program yesterday, Sunday, and share a little about the Church! So they joined her yesterday. During the program, Pastor Dixon invited them to sing a song about Jesus, so Sister F immediately began singing one of the Sacrament Hymns, a capella! Then the Pastor said she'd sing a song. The Sisters were also invited to bear a witness of Christ. Both of them were able to bear their testimonies and invited listeners to go to if they would like more information. One of the Sisters also suggested that if they saw missionaries on the street to invite them in and visit with them. Pastor Dixon also mentioned that maybe she'd have some missionaries back to her program again.

I'm just sorry that I didn't get to hear the whole broadcast.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Break the Fast

Here are just a few candid shots at our "Break the Fast" dinner after church today.
Our Elders-- Elder Stewart and Elder Baker
Brother and Sister Trent--These people are truly the salt of the earth. They are so dedicated to the gospel and to helping others even though they're both in poor health. They never use their health as an excuse for not attending church. In fact, Sister Trent had back surgery less than 3 weeks ago!
The Plaquettes--Sister Call and Sister Morris
Elder L and Brother Stabler--Maybe he doesn't like having his picture taken, but he's super faithful and  a counselor in the Branch Presidency. He's also Sister Newchurch's cousin. (The one who took us on the cane field tour) He lives about an hour from Plaquemine, but it's still in our branch boundaries!
Brother Marchand--the other counselor in the Branch Presidency. He actually lives in Gonzales, which is on the other side of the Mississippi River and quite a ways south of Baton Rouge.
Sister Shantall Hidalgo, Gavin's mom, is another one of our rock solid members.
Sister Lou or Sister Williams is the organist, Primary President and Temple Worker, and she's always happy:)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Marcelle and Me

After shopping for a huge commissary order, Marc and I met Marcelle Stay and a friend of hers for lunch at Texas Roadhouse. I got to know Marcelle when her family moved into Hacienda Heights. We became fast friends and took care of her little Maggie when Marcelle went to doctor appointments. Maggie was pure delight and what an animated and brilliant little girl she is. At 3 1/2 she'd pick up books and read them with great accuracy and expression.

Then we moved away to Cedar City, and they moved last year to Alabama. She and her friend had come to the temple in Baton Rouge, because it's the closest one to their home in Saraland, just north of Mobile. It was so good to see her again and catch up on the past almost 2 years.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sister McClendon and Sister Bailey

President Hansen had a special Zone Meeting for the 2 New Orleans Zones a day or two ago and made some big changes. It is now New Orleans Zone and New Orleans Spanish Zone. This should give our Spanish missionaries more opportunities to use the language training and improve their skills.

With that change came the need for new rosters to be printed. But I'm not complaining, because I found a major error in the one I did last week. Somehow I managed to get the Baton Rouge Spanish Sisters and the Baton Rouge Zone Leaders living at the same address! Big Oops! So now everyone in where they should be and the new rosters are distributed.

Sister McClendon and Sister Bailey were in Baton Rouge for an appointment this afternoon, so we were lucky to have them stop by before their drive back to Houma. Sister Bailey was transferred out of Baton Rouge in February, so we haven't been able to see much of her. And Sister McClendon has never served in BR so it was really nice to visit with her and get to know her a little better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Blocker's Last Day

There was a bit of work to be done in the office before leaving for New Orleans today. Among other things that needed to be accomplished were the letters, et al, for the next group of home bound missionaries--all 18 of them. All 72 envelopes are now ready and waiting for President Hansen to sign the Release Certificates on Monday.
On days like today it's nice to have a large, empty desk to spread out all the paperwork.
Danielle and Paige enjoying muffalettas near the French Market
We couldn't resist trying a new beignet place in New Orleans.  Cafe Beignet was featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate--New Orleans" and recommended by Alton Brown. I'm not sure it's the best one I ever ate, but at least there wasn't a line halfway down the street waiting to be seated!
One last pic of our cute granddaughters, Paige and Karina, before dropping them off at the airport.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Houmas House

Nathan and Tanner had to leave today so Nathan could get back to work, but we made time to visit one more plantation before they did. We love Houmas House, and it's on the way to New Orleans, so that's where we went. It's beautifully maintained and has great guides. Today we had a man who was very knowledgeable and interesting. Houmas House was built in 1828 and was known as the Crown Jewel of River Road. It once included 300,000 acres and produced  20 million pounds of sugar a year.
Houmas House used to have the typical oak lined alley that lead out to the Mississippi River, but when the levee was built, 24 of the trees were removed, leaving just a few. Very Sad:(  One of the oaks still standing is 500 years old!
This clock once belonged to Marie Antoinette
Tanner was about to help Karina take a dip in the pond.
Tanner, the eternal tease

Sunday, March 22, 2015

4 1/2 Missionaries

I'm beginning to feel like I'll never catch up with this blog, but I haven't completely given up hope.

With transfers a few days ago we knew there'd be changes, because Sister Lucherini went home, and Elder Ryan leaves in 2 weeks. So our new missionaries in Plaquemine are Sister Call and Elder Stewart. Sister Call actually came into the mission at the same time as Sister Morris and has been serving in Many since she arrived. Elder Stewart was "born" here and might just "die" here. Odd words, but that's what missionaries say about their first and last areas. He served here for his first 4 months and will be released in June.
Sister Morris, Sister Call, Elder Stewart, Gavin Hidalgo (he's 14 today) and Elder Baker
Danielle and Tanner on the 27th floor lookout tower
Paige and her mom
Karina and Danielle
The Blocker Family minus 1
It was a peaceful Sunday. After church we took our usual tour to show the Blocker's who haven't already been here Nottoway Plantation, the Smallest Church in the World, LSU campus, Mike the Tiger and the Baton Rouge Temple

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Baton Rouge to St. Francisville

The problem with not posting the day that you actually go somewhere is that all the details just slip right out of the memory, and what's left are captions on pictures. Today's adventures took us to Coffee Call in Baton Rouge for beignets, Tony's to see (and smell) the fishy market experience, Port Hudson, St. Francisville and Rosedown Plantation.

Just watching family eat beignets is always an experience.
After--Karina cannot eat beignets or roasted marshmallows without experiencing it from head to toe! She had powdered sugar up to her elbows and down her pants. And Paige was a close second in the "messy" department.
We always take pictures in front of this sign. The first question is usually, "Do they really sell that here?" "Yes! Yes they do!" 
Tanner, Karina and Nathan
A beautiful and typical view from the balcony.  All the plantations seem to have oak lined paths, and I never tire of seeing them. 
The children's room at Rosedown
On the writing desk in the children's room was, as Danielle put it, the original iPad!
Family pic on the Rosedown Plantation steps
The azaleas are just beginning to bloom, and they're gorgeous, but they're going to be even better in about 2 weeks. We were on our way back to the car and were sort of all going in different directions when Danielle's phone rang. It was Paige wondering where we were or where she was. Danielle asked her what she could see that was close to her. "A pink tree!" We had a good laugh since all the azaleas in bloom were pink :)
Gotta love grandchildren and their selfies:)
Don't let Karina's petite frame fool you. This girl has muscles that you  wouldn't believe and also holds her middle school record for pull-ups! (Boys included)

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Great Swamp Tour!

With the rosters put to bed and all the letters out, we left this morning for Henderson Landing and Avery Island. Of course we had to take the Blocker's on a swamp tour. We've now seen this area in every season, and we love it every time. Spring has arrived, and the blossoms and leaves are just on the verge of being profuse. No wonder everyone loves Spring so much after long, cold, white winters. That's not particularly the case in LA, but it surely was lacking in color on the Winter swamp tour. The water was as high as it's ever been, and the gators were just coming out. They weren't hungry, so they didn't come over to the boat, but the big boys were definitely out and about!

We were able to go with Captain Tucker again, and he's always informative and entertaining. He mentioned that alligators can't digest food when their body temperatures are below 65, so they just don't eat yet. And here's another Capt. Tucker tip. There are 2 kinds of mosquitoes in LA--the small ones that go through screen doors and the big ones that just open the doors to get in!
Paige, in front, and Karina ready to navigate the swamps
Early Spring in the Atchafalaya Basin
Capt. Tucker's duck blind.  It has a full kitchen and sleeps 6 hunters comfortably. Define "comfortably!"
The water hyacinth is beginning to grow back after winter
This is Mac. It's hard to tell how big this guy is from the picture, but he's the largest gator they've seen in the swamp. He's about 50  years old and 12-12 1/2' long.
This is not Mac, but he looked bigger and scarier to me.
At the Tabasco Tour on Avery Island
Paige, Tanner, Karina and Danielle--Nathan was almost always inconveniently somewhere else at picture time.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Blocker's in LA

Danielle's (our oldest) family arrived in New Orleans last night and spent most of today seeing the sights of NOLA. The day after transfers isn't the best time for me to leave the office, so Marc had to manage without me. I don't know how he navigated without my help! Okay, that's a joke. I have been told that I can't find my way out of a paper bag with a map. Sadly, this is very true. We've been here 15 months and to NOLA at least 10 times, and if you dropped me off in the middle of New Orleans you'd never see me again. I'd probably end up in Mississippi or Florida. That's pathetic!

There was plenty to do in the office before the Blocker's arrived in Baton Rouge. The rosters are the biggest project, and it's always nice to get those completed. Fortunately, there weren't any major adjustments to be made, and as soon as President Hansen submitted the new transfer board and it cleared through SLC the rest was easy.

The one little challenge that I had today was an issue with not receiving confirmation on flights I requested a week ago. After I request flights for returning missionaries I always get an email within a few hours with a summary of the requested information. If I've made a mistake on the date, airports, name, etc. they can be changed before the flights are booked. For some reason that never came, nor did the tentative itineraries that come in 1-2 days later. So I emailed the travel office and discovered that, for the first time ever, my request went to "electronic limbo!" But they assured me that the tech team was on it and would get it corrected. Within 10 minutes I'd received the itineraries and profuse apologies. Talk about efficient! Super helpful people in that office makes my job so much easier.
The advantage of not going to meet family is seeing some missionaries. Sister Jewett and Sister Roberts were in the office picking up some commissary and checking out who was transferred since they didn't get to go the the meeting yesterday.
First stop after arriving in Baton Rouge was to take the Blocker's to Bass Pro Shop. They all agreed that they'd never water ski in Louisiana waters after seeing the alligator gar. 
Three Blocker Beauties--Karina, Danielle and Paige
Adjusting to Central Time was a bit of a challenge!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Transfer #11

Only three incoming missionaries arrived yesterday from the Provo MTC, and, of course, we love them already. What we lack in quantity we're making up in quality. They're absolutely wonderful, and will be a positive addition to the mission.
Sister Hansen, Sister Kerr, Sister Woodward, Elder Armstrong and President Hansen
These 2 Southern Californians will now be serving together in New Orleans--Elder Glauser and Elder Joubert
Sister Astle and Sister Boehme
Looks like the Senior table! The Hastings, Bibles, Nelsons and Elder Fontenot
Sister Butterfield, Sister Biver and Sister Hockemier
Sister Smith, Elder Trainor, Elder Andrews and Elder Martell
Elder Hillam, Sister Widdison and  Sister Masteller
Elder Smith and Elder Brown, standing, and Elder Brimhall and Elder Fowler--the white shirts are Alexandria Zone Leaders and the suite are Denham Springs ZL's
Elder Peterson and Elder Perazzo
Elder White, Elder Stewart, Elder Madsen and Elder Wittig. Elders W & W will be leaving us tomorrow:(
Sister McEntire, Sister Hunter and Elder Trainor
Elders Anderson, Dye, Perazzo and Simmons
Elder Murhula and Elder Jean Louis
Sister Ririe and Sister Wood
The newest elder, Elder Armstrong, and his trainer, Elder Morrell--They'll be the Dynamic Duo!
Sister Hansen with Elder Simmons, Elder Armstrong, Elder Morrell and Elder Airplane Toone
A Rose among, hmm, more roses--Elders Barker, Condie, Smith, Nield, Browning, Southward, Gosch and Sister Pearson
Elder Raines, Elder Mills and Elder Wise
Sister Greer, Elder Jacildo and Elder Fowler
Elder Backman
Sister Earl and Sister Worthington
Sister Masteller, Sister Widdison and Sister Dixon
Temple Square Sister Merrill and Sister McMullin
Elder Peltzer with origami made by Elder Barnes
Elder Gordon, Elder Andrews, Elder Cooley and President Hansen
Elder Richardson, Elder Lehr, Elder Brimhall and Sister Bible
Elder Cooley and Elder McCutcheon
The LaPlace Elders--Elder Whitmarsh, Elder Brosnahan, Elder Whittier, and Elder Dobie
Elder Abbott is leaving Baton Rouge :( after 9 months and will be serving with Elder Ralph in Ponchatoula
Elder Wittig flanked by the LSU Sisters--Sister Barclay, from Cedar City:) and Sister Carpenter, from Texas. I thought I'd take a picture of Sister Carpenter and Sister Arntz (from KY), but apparently it's in the black hole. Anyway,  they met at BYU, received their calls at the same time (but I don't think they were together)  left on their missions the same day and were in the MTC together. The best part is that they'll both return to BYU after their missions and I'll get to see them!
Elders Nield, Condie, Browning and Gosch
Sister Hansen always speaks first at Transfer Meeting. Today she reiterated what Elder Mecham said in his farewell comments when he left last month. It's worth repeating. At the beginning of his mission he looked in the white handbook for loopholes. By the end of his mission he was looking in the handbook for ways to receive blessings.

Then Sister Hansen continued by saying that God knows something you don't. He knows things beyond our comprehension to understand. Before the Hansen's come on their mission they lived way out in the Boise countryside. They'd taught their dogs to not go off the grass on their property because of coyotes and other critters, and the dogs were good to stay where they were supposed to, including the littlest one. One day her son came over and brought his dog who didn't know the rules. He took off, leaving the "safety" of the yard, and the Hansen's dogs all followed--a serious case of peer pressure. All of the dogs finally returned, except the little one who never came back. They'd taught her what she needed to do, even though she didn't understand, but they'd just wanted her to have a happy earthly life. 

She quoted D&C 130:20-21 and thoughts from Pres. Uchtdorf. "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated--And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." That's what God wants for us--to be obedient and happy and return to Him. Some people think that God has lots of blessing locked up in heaven, withholding them. He is constantly raining blessings upon us, but we block them with fear, doubt and sin--like opening an umbrella. By following His commandments we close our umbrellas and receive blessing He wants us to achieve. and can return with honor. That's what we (the Hansen's) want for the missionaries. 

Final "Words of Wisdom" from Soon-to-be-Released Missionaries.
Elder Ryan ~ Be yourself, wear a smile, help others and enjoy yourself. I wouldn't change anything. Embrace the hard stuff then get over it! There's no better feeling than knowing that someone you've baptized now holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Elder White ~ The mission is awesome and so are you. The mission is awesome, so don't get blue. When life gets rough and tough to bear, buy a pack of abitas (root beer) for all to share. Take a sip, pass it around, and if you're sick, waterfall it down. High five and look around. The Mormon Missionaries run this town. If you don't like my poem, I don't care. I'll be on the beach somewhere! (Elder W wrote this.) Cherish the friendships you make. You won't get them anywhere else. I have a strong testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Learn to apply it in your life. Don't let it go to waste. He took upon himself our pains, etc (quoted Alma 7:11-13). This is the message we have to share. It's incredible! Use it!
Elder Wittig ~ Understand the difference you can make in others' lives. My dad was a great example in my life. He raised his family in the Church, loved us, held the Priesthood and blessed us with it, taught us to go on mission. My dad's a convert. Think about the lives you can change. My older brother said I wouldn't like my mission if I can't get along with my companions, so I made a promise to him that I wouldn't gossip about or talk badly about my companions. I can hay that I've loved all my companions. 
Sister Betts ~ One bit of advice I'll give it to love the people you serve and serve with. You know you did a good job on your mission when it's worse leaving here than it was leaving home. This is the hardest thing you'll do, but you can do it because of the Atonement. Let what the Savior did change your life. His love changes people and it changes us.
Sister Lucherini ~ My acronym--GAPS. G for gratitude. If you're grateful, you can get through anything. A for Attitude--not the arrogant kind, but have a good attitude. P for Prayer. Have it regularly. S for Service. It's how we got in doors and brought less actives back.
Sister Pearson ~ Set a vision of who you want to be at the end of your mission. I wrote 4 things for myself:. 1) Understand the Atonement. 2) Understand Miracles and why God blesses us with them. 3) Listen and act on the spirit. 4) I missed this one:( Two other things I've learned: 1) Learn how the power of love affects people. When you love others you represent the Savior. Ask yourself, "How well am I loving these people?" 2) Being a missionary is the best thing I've done. The Atonement can help you overcome hard times. Be humble and diligent and God can take you from ordinary to extraordinary. I have a picture of the Savior. On it is written, "What have you done with my name?" 
From Preach My Gospel: "More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children." From Pres. Uchtdorf: Happiness is a destination. It's also a path.