Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fearsome Foursome!

Sundays when all of our young missionaries speak are the best! Today we heard from Sister King, Elder Porter, Sister Call and Elder Stewart. They are a missionary force to be reckoned with. None of them had been given specific topics, but they were Spirit-directed in what they had to say and coordinated perfectly with each other. I'll never be able to do justice, on paper, to their inspired words, so I'll just share a few of their thoughts. The only sad thing about this "fearsome foursome" is that Elder Stewart will be released next week. Hopefully there will be another excellent elder to take his place.

Sister King began with the words to "Have I Done Any Good?" and concentrated on Service. Here are some of the words to the hymn:
     Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?
     Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.
     Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share?
     Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?
     Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
     Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.
This hymn is inviting us to do the Lord's work. Here of two of the examples she shared about others who have "done good."

One day while Sister K was serving in another area, she and her companion were finding in a pretty rough area. They met a young man who was interested in learning more about the Church and gave him a Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, they found out that he wasn't in our mission, so we sent a referral on to the correct area. The Sisters were going to their car, but he wouldn't let them walk alone because some of his friends, "who were drunk, dangerous and cussing," were near their car, and he didn't want them subjected to that.

Sister K had a 7 year old cousin who was dying from a brain tumor, but even during her illness, she set such an example by giving any gifts she received to others in need. Because of her example her family is more charitable.

Elder Porter spoke on spiritual medics and healing. As members of the Church we understand what it means to be children of God. We are in constant conflict with adversity. Fortunately the wounds are rarely fatal. In our mission we missionaries are here to be medics. Active members need to be helpful to less actives and investigators. We are all still brothers and sisters. In hard times we must remember the second greatest commandment--Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself! The right way is never the easy way. Each of us has an individual "first aid kit"--the scriptures, prayer and repentance. No one can or should live the Gospel on their own. God will always be with us. Sacrifices are never in vain. I am not here because it's a duty but because I was called.

Sister Call ~ When we are called as a missionary Heavenly Father gives us a special kind of love for the people we serve. He knows the effort you're making to serve Him. He is aware of you. We, as missionaries, pray about everything we do. When we come to your home it's the Lord telling us to come. My prayers for today inspired me to talk about what it means to be a disciple of Christ. A disciple listens to what the Holy Ghost will tell you today then, when you leave, act on it! 3 Nephi 5:13 says "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." We (the missionaries) are striving to declare His word and be of service. In Mosiah 18 we are admonished to bear one another's burdens, comfort those in need of comfort and mourn with those who mourn. These are all attributes of Christ.

In a General Conference talk, Elder Holland spoke about the cost of discipleship and quoted Hebrews saying, "...what shall I more say [of them]? [They] who...stopped the mouths of lions..." Sometimes what disciples go through is not very pleasant. In another talk Elder Holland gave to missionaries he asked why people aren't lined up waiting to be baptized. Because salvation isn't cheap. Disciples have to go through a little of what the Savior did. Is it worth it--worth it to do our visiting teaching and home teaching, talk to a co-worker about the gospel? We can't call ourselves disciples if we aren't willing to sacrifice things for Him. I have a great love for the people of Plaquemine Branch that cannot be disputed.

Elder Stewart ~  I'm from California where we tend to live a fast paced life and don't take time to show love to others. Living in the South has shown me that people know how to show their love for others. When someone has the Gospel in their life you can see it in their eyes, in their faces. I compare it to a crank-up flashlight. You need to continually crank the flashlight handle to dispel darkness and to dispel spiritual darkness through the Gospel. The Gospel and the Plan of Salvation couldn't have been carried out without love. The parable of the sower reminds us that nourishing requires love. Through His love, the Savior endured everything for us.

Elder Stewart was so sincere and insightful that I was caught up in what he said and didn't finish taking notes. I do know this--everyone was in tears and we're going to miss him when he goes home next week.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring Cleaning!

The time has come to take leave of our apartment. Kind of a sad good-bye, but we won't miss the speed bumps! This has been such a comfortable place to live and has accommodated all of our family as they came to visit.

So today was the day that all of our boxes were transferred to the mission home garage, compliments of the Office Elders. They popped up and down the 19 stairs, taking 2 or 3 at a time, like it was nothing. That left an almost empty apartment to be cleaned till it "shined like the top of the Chrysler Building!"

I know how to clean but don't usually do it all in one day and am pretty out of practice. When I asked Elder L to clean the top of the refrigerator and he asked me if he should use a wet or dry cloth, I knew we'd both be happier if he was "running errands:)" Besides the usual activities I managed to do baseboards and window sills, switch plates and wall plates, cupboard shelves, doors and drawers, door frames, panels and knobs, and who knows what else. Then we (more like Marc--his best contribution) shampooed our way out the door.

Now #1004 is ready for the Lawes to move in on Monday.

Friday, May 29, 2015

If You Give an Elder an IPhone . . .

Looks like the Office Elders have been playing with my phone again!
Elder Bennett
Elder Whittier

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Adieu to New Orleans

What do you do on the last night you might ever have in NOLA?
We'd heard that the Camellia Grill was a great place to eat, so that was the first thing we did after getting into town. We must have arrived at a good time, because there was so waiting. It's a diner similar to the Apple Pan in Los Angeles with a few more seats. It's fast paced and fun and how can you not love a place where your first conversation is, "Hey, welcome to the Camellia Grill. How y'all doin;?" "Great! How are you?" "Better now that you're here." And I didn't know then, but I know now that they always bring you water, take your order for a drink and give you a fist bump. Bottom line--really good food and a very reasonable price. I'd go there again.
One more drive down St. Charles Avenue to enjoy the incredibly huge, beautiful, old,  oak trees still wearing many Mardi Gras beads from this year, and most likely,  a few years gone by. Except for a few modern conveniences, you'd think you'd just stepped  into a frame from "The Princess and the Frog." Some of those old trolleys haven't changed much in the past century. 
A walk across the trolley tracks at the Dumaine Station gave us this view of the Mississippi River. The gentle evening breeze, billowy clouds and water lapping on the shore made for a very picturesque setting. Somewhere along these banks, in 1849, my great great grandfather disembarked  with his wife and son after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They'd com from England to join with the Mormon Pioneers After arriving in New Orleans, he and his family sailed up the Mississippi River to Pottawatomie, Iowa then on to Salt Lake City and beyond. But that's another story.
We enjoyed one more walk around Jackson Square. 
As much as we've relished beignets piled high with powdered sugar, I've just about had my fill of  them. Is that Un-American of me? We've brought all of our family here to Cafe du Monde, and they unanimously loved it.
A row of horses and buggies were waiting to take tourists on sightseeing tours, but they weren't very busy. We were quite surprised that the French District was so quiet. Just a side comment. Even the road apples were tolerable compared to the foul odor of last week's gator carcass!
We drove through a few of the streets of New Orleans, and I can actually pronounce them all! Carondolet, Poydras, Decatur, Toulouse, Dauphine, and my favorite, Tchoupitoulas:) Well, I thought I knew them all, then we passed Euterpe, Derbigny, Melpomene and Terpisichore. Another lesson in humility.

Last Chance Lunch

It's the "end of the month and missionary funds are kind of low" time! So Elder Lauper went to Sam's Club this morning and picked up croissants, meats, cheeses, chips and drinks and hosted an office lunch. The only ones who attended were the Office Elders and Assistants but the BR North Sisters stopped by at a perfect time and were able to join in.
Elder Whittier, Elder Bennett, Elder White and Elder Murhula, but it looks like there could possibly be some changes in this foursome at the next transfer:(
Sister Chandler and Sister Plumb--Baton Rouge North Sisters

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Welcome to the Laupertory

I love our Office Elders! They beat us to the office today, and this is the sign that they'd made for our door:) Nothing like a sense of humor to keep us entertained.
The New Office Sign
Sister Blaylock and Sister Plumb
What a surprise it was to have Sister Blaylock walk into the office to day with Sister Plumb. Sister B is one of the Sister Trainers serving in the Denham Springs Zone and Sister P is here in Baton Rouge, so normally they wouldn't be on an exchange together. They said the President had suggested it, so Sister Chandler is over in DS with Sister Abercrombie. Love these Sisters!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Gonzales Elders

It's always such a pleasure to have 2 awesome Elders come into the office--especially when you don't get to see them very often. Elder Makin and Elder Gordon are the Gonzales Elders. They're still in the Baton Rouge Stake and Zone but live about 25 miles from BR. When you have to budget your car miles (in addition to your measly monthly allotment and time) you just don't make 50 mile road trips without a very good reason. I know they had one, but I don't exactly remember what it was:(

We have another Senior Couple coming in next month, and that's always a happy occasion. Our Seniors make such a difference and really strengthen the little branches where they're serving. So I tried to put the "Senior Incoming Packet" together but couldn't even find the welcome letter. That's just great. If I couldn't find it, how on earth is Sister Lawes going to. She wouldn't even know what she was looking for. I searched the N-Drive and every document to no avail. I also went through the wonderful office manual that I so diligently updated and every drawer and file that I have access to in the office. Nope! Not there. Not a computer copy or hard copy to be found. Grrrrr! Finally, after multiple word combinations, it appeared in the N-Drive but not where I thought it should be--"Incoming Missionaries." It was with the "Senior Missionary Roster," and there weren't any of the 6 pages that should have been in the manual. Glad to get that figured out and reorganized. I just hope someone can find it the next time it's needed.

Elder Whittier, our new Office Elder and computer guru, kindly showed me how to merge and unmerge cells in Excel. Oh Happy Day! I know that's nor exactly advanced spreadsheet technology but it made me happy. I was able to correct 2 templates for the incomings and go-homes that had bothered me because so many of the words were cut off or missing. I wonder if I'll remember how to do it tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

On our way home from Church yesterday we stopped at the Capitol to see the flags we knew would be on the lawn. Quite a beautiful sight to see the 10,000 flags that represent each member of the military from Louisiana who died in service to our country.

Later in the evening we watched the National Memorial Day Concert from Washington DC. It's always so excellent and a good reminder to each of us that "Freedom Isn't Free." The closing remarks we given by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. The following are his words to America:

Nothing is more profoundly American than Memorial Day. Throughout our history, American sons and daughters have willingly laid down their lives to strengthen our nation and preserve its freedoms. Indeed, the greatest of this republic is founded in their selfless service. They rest quietly now beneath chalk white headstones, here at home or in battlefield graves where they fell, or in the depths of the oceans where they made the ultimate sacrifice.
This Memorial Day let us take the time to come together as a nation and not only pay tribute to those who have fallen, but to pay tribute to the idea that inspired them--to the idea that there is something greater than ones self--to the idea that is America. One mother of a fallen Marine told me she embraces this day. "Grief shared is grief more easily borne," she said. "There is comfort in the bonds that unite us with the past.
We can also find comfort in the bonds that make us Americans. Today, as we honor the sacrifice of these souls who fought and died for us, let us affirm their legacy by pressing on to secure the blessings of liberty for which they paid so dearly. Let us stand strong by the men and women that defend that idea, that America is bigger than any one of us, and let us stand strong by their families. We ask all Service Members and their families, here and at home, to please stand and accept our deepest gratitude for their service. On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a grateful nation we say Thank You.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kliebert's Alligator Farm

We checked off one more thing on our "Louisiana To Do" list today when we went to the Kliebert's Alligator Farm in Hammond. We joined a tour in progress, because we didn't want to wait for another hour for the next one. The first pond we passed was full of turtles--about 500 of them--but all you could see were little black heads popping out of the water. It wasn't a great picture so it didn't make the blog.

As we were passing the pond we smelled probably the #1 worst stench we've experienced since arriving in LA. It's was a dead alligator's rotting carcass in the next pond, and it makes me gag just thinking about it. I certainly wasn't going to stand in that nauseatingly repulsive spot long enough to take a picture!

You'll notice that every pond is a lovely shade of green. (It reminded me of when we picked Ryan up from his mission in Mexico. One of his favorite families took us on a picnic, and when we arrived I thought, "what a beautiful lawn." Oops! It was the pond--complete with it's own cocodrilo. No bueno!) It's called duckweed and covered every bit of water on the whole property. So, here's the point I'm getting to. Big Easy, the alligator below, came from the back of the pond all the way to the front, without so much as a ripple, to get a chicken snack. There wasn't a sound or movement, and he was so slow that you couldn't even tell he was moving.
Big Easy--the stealthy 57 year old alligator
Our tour guide--I don't know if the hand is a result of working at an alligator farm, but it would certainly make a good story:)
"Say Ahh!"
Notice the back of his throat is completely closed off by the palatal valve which closes to keep water out of his throat, stomach and lungs when .he's submerged. This is part of the rather unique "air tight" system of a gator. Also they can stay underwater for lengthy periods of time. One of the longest the guide knew of was 24 hours.
Big Easy is one of the 250 eggs that hatched here in 1957. All 250 gators are still living there, but we certainly didn't see them.
Just another relaxing day in paradise
So, a gator will  catch it's food but then has to turn it's head sideways to swallow. I'm pretty sure there was no chewing going on in the process.
I must say, this was a great shot of gator X swallowing his chicken. 
The gator on the right is Crush, who is very territorial. He has his own "space" and doesn't allow other males in his private neighborhood. However, he does allow up to 5 or 6  females to enter.
Part of Crush's domain
This is what becomes of male intruders who enter Crush's territory--seriously! This WAS a 13' gator.
The capture
Eyes, Ears, Mouth and Nose--all parts of the same airtight system.
Alligators have 2 sets of eyelids. The outer ones are like human eyelids and close top to bottom. The inner lids are clear and close from back to front. While gators are kicking back or swimming the inner eyelids protect their eyes and still allow them to see underwater. 
Flaps close off the ears and nostrils from water
Yep! That's where you need to aim your .22 if you want gator steaks and a new  wallet, belt and handbag. If you use a larger caliber it will probably ricochet of his or her very armor-like skull.
Gumbo the Crocodile--notice the pointy snout, unlike the rounded one of an alligator
"The better to eat you with, my dear!" Serious teeth.
The Yellow Alligator which I know nothing about nor could find anything except folklore. I was still taking pictures of the crocodile and missed whatever was said about this guy:(
The last "to-do" on my Louisiana Bucket List. Supposedly he weighs about 50 lbs. I never picked up 50 lbs. that easily, so my guess is more like 30.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rearranging Some Elders

There were some changes in the mission, literally, from the northwest corner to almost the southeast corner.Nice they could come into Baton Rouge to make part of the switch.
Elder Barney, Elder Schaffer, Elder White and Elder Murhula
These geese go to be as early as I do!
We've driven down Sherwood Forest many times, but I never remember to ask Marc to turn into the business driveway in time, and you certainly can't just stop on that nightmare street just because you want a picture of the Canada Geese. (Yes, Michael, I remembered they're Canada, not Canadian, Geese!)  Today, probably because of the massive, slowly moving traffic, there was enough warning to make the turn without someone running into our back side. Just a week or two ago the 2 little goslings were about half the size they were today. And there were a lot more. Maybe there are gators in the pond. I think there are gators in every body of water in Louisiana that's larger than a bathtub.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spanish Exchange

The Office Elders helped the Spanish Elders move a lady today. She cooked gumbo for them so Elder Drollinger and Elder Page brought some for the OE's lunch. Elder D and Elder P are on exchanges, and they both go home next month. Our Spanish elders are really taking a hit.

I had a really fun phone call today from Carol Olsen. She and her husband, Brent, were the previous office couple and our trainers. They're on vacation in Kauai with the Wall's and were able to see Katherine Stennett and her family last night. She said they were thinking about us and that our mission is coming to an end soon so just called to say "Hi!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Office Visitors

Elder Lauper and I were reminiscing yesterday about our first day in the MTC. It wasn't just a random thought but came about because the new office couple entered the MTC yesterday. We laughed at how exhausted we were while we were there. On the first full day of classes (Tuesday) we were fed spiritually and physically, but by the time we finished dinner, which was probably 5:30 or 6, we thought we were going to die from exhaustion. I'm sure we were asleep by 8:30. Wow, have things changed! We did receive an email from the MTC yesterday asking us which programs we use here so the Lawes will be specifically trained in those areas. That is such a relief since we'll only have about 2 weeks with them.

It's always fun to have exchanges and see what new faces, or ones we don't see very often, come into the office.
Elder Mills, one of the Zone Leaders in New Orleans, was on exchanges with Elder White, the Senior AP. The other AP, Elder Murhula, stayed in New Orleans with Elder Mill's companion, Elder Jean Louis,.
Sister Ochs, one of the Baton Rouge Sister Trainers, will be in Plaquemine with Sister King. Sister O's grandma is the California Redlands Mission Secretary, but she's living at home and doing a service mission. 
We're always happy to have our Baton Rouge Spanish Sisters, Sister Jewett and Sister Roberts, stop by.  They'll both be released in July. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"Stop It!"

We had an excellent Sacrament Meeting this morning, but I especially enjoyed hearing from our Branch President, Pres. Hebert. He talked about need to not gossip and used some quotes that I just want to mention.

"The scriptures warn us against gossiping. The Psalmist said it simply: Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. (Psalms 34:13)"

Elder Spencer W. Kimball wrote: "Lies and gossip which harm reputations are scattered about by the four winds like the seeds of a ripe dandelion help aloft by a child. Neither the seeds nor the gossip can ever be gathered in. The degree and extent of the harm done by the gossip is inestimable. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 54)"

"President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, the snide remark, the racial slur, hateful epithets, malicious gossip, and mean and vicious rumor-mongering should have no place among us."

By avoiding gossip, stopping it when it starts, and turning the other cheek when someone gossips about us, we set an example for others. These actions also help us as a society to be of "one heart and one mind" (Moses 7:18) and as individuals to be worthy to return to live with our Heavenly Father.

And, of course, who can forget President Uchtdorf's 2 word sermon (which he expounded on)?

These are great words to remember.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Cookies!

Today I made a "new" cookie recipe. This is entirely too long, but I call them the "use up everything you can't take home" cookies. There weren't enough chocolate chips, so they also have heath chips, and chocolate covered raisins. The next round will be oatmeal raisin with raisins, golden raisins and dried cranberries.

No, we aren't eating them all! The office elders got a bunch when they came to figure out why the scanner wasn't working. The rest of the dough will be frozen in rolls to bake for whoever needs them in the next few weeks.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Las Hermanas

Las Hermanas Bailey and McClendon were in Baton Rouge today and stopped at our apartment for a quick visit before driving back to Houma. They're a long way from home but say that the drive is very scenic and beautiful. Too bad they have to go back in the dark.

Hma. M goes home to AZ next transfer, and Hma. B leaves 2 transfers later. I remember when they first arrived, and it doesn't seem like that long ago. Time flies! We're losing so many of our Spanish speaking missionaries. The hermana numbers should be okay, but we aren't getting very many Spanish elders coming in. No Bueno!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Always the Best Part of the Day

I was so excited this morning when Sister Chandler came in with her new companion, Sister Plumb. I even remembered to get a picture, but when it came time to post it I couldn't find it anywhere, and I'm really miffed at myself. I know I took one but don't know what happened. Maybe they'll come in again--soon.

The phones have been pleasantly quiet this week which has allowed me time to update the zone maps, even though I just redid them. Since President Hansen made 5 zones from 6 at the last transfer, it seemed like a nice thing to do for the incoming secretary. It's so much easier to do referrals by just looking at a map of the zone that has all the missionaries' housing locations marked.
Sister Ochs, recently transferred into Baton Rouge, and Sister Butterfield are the BR Sister Trainers. Wonderful Sisters!
Elder Forbush just returned to the mission yesterday. He's awesome, and it'll be great to have him back. He's a threesome with the Assistants until he's delivered to his new area, which is very far from Baton Rouge, on Friday. Also, it's Elder Murhula's birthday today, so the three of them are going out to dinner tonight with the Office Elders.