Saturday, November 12, 2016

Week of Nov 7 - 13

Fall in Bakersfield is different than what we were used to in Colorado. There is not much color in the leaves. They just sort of turn brownish, get crispy, and fall off. However, it is so nice to see all the flowering bushes and trees this time of year, which of course we do not have in Colorado. The temperatures are really perfect; 65-80 degrees. We like the early morning light, but it is rough getting used to darkness at 5:00 pm is rough getting used to.

Who would have guessed that Trump will be our new 45th President of the United States! It was quite a stunning, shocking, and incredible political feat he pulled off. At least, our country will probably never have a dull moment these next four years.

On Wednesday we finished our 65 day mission wide challenge to read the Book of Mormon! We were looking for and underlining the doctrine of Christ as we read; faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. The book is full of references and examples of these
doctrines. They are repeated over and over among the peoples in the Book of Mormon. We also saw the cycle of when things were good, people's pride started taking over and they forgot about Christ. We need to be diligent and not let that happen to us. If we keep having and using our faith, repenting, renewing our baptismal covenants thru the sacrament, and listening to the Holy Ghost we will be able to endure (enjoy) to the end. The whole Book of Mormon really is another testament of Jesus Christ!

Thursday on our afternoon off, we enjoyed a great lunch at the Villas club house for veterans. They had it a day early. Then I got my hair cut (first time since we have been gone) and James went to a pre-colonoscopy doctor appointment. After, we did errands. That evening we had a lovely dinner at Matt and Patty Morris's house along with Ingrid and Bruce Ball. We ate outside on their patio and  enjoyed our fancy sandwiches and homemade tomato soup. The huge slices of pumpkin pie for dessert really topped it off.

On Friday, Veteran's Day, my very own veteran was treated royally. He got the oil changed on the car, a car wash, a haircut, hotdog lunch at Wienerschnitzel, dinner at Texas Roadhouse on their patio, and a chocolate custard filled Crispy Crème donut all for free in honor of his service. It is so nice how the businesses honor Veterans on this special day! It sounds like it was a party all day, but we also worked.

James had a sweet potato along with his steak. He thought they gave him a regular baked potato because it was white. Surprisingly, it tasted like a sweet potato. We learned there is such a thing as white, sweet potatoes.

Saturday from 1:30 till almost 5:00 we sat in the chapel of our stake center with all the missionaries in our mission and were instructed by an apostle of the Lord, Elder David A. Bednar. He is an apostle just like Peter, James, John, and others were! He was accompanied by Elder Ian S. Ardern, a general authority seventy from New Zealand. Some of the points Elder Bednar made were: stop taking notes (writing on the large plates), instead just write your inspirations (writing on the small plates); hear what is not being said; pray with expectations to act; just get going; the deeper your conversion the more you focus on the basic doctrines; it is important to observe, listen, and discern before you speak; don't look for big, defining, dramatic moments in your life - it is the consistency of small things which provides the big effect; steadiness thru tribulations is a source of great joy; and being His agents is more important than have agency. Elder Bednar invited the missionaries to answer and ask questions when the Spirit spoke to them. The spirit was very strong all thru the meeting, but especially when one of our struggling missionaries, Elder Watkins, got up and said, "I just want to know what I need not what I want." When Elder Bednar asked him a further question he stood there with the microphone for probably five minutes getting emotional and trying to speak. The room was so quite and everyone was feeling his pain and struggle. I don't remember what he finally was able to answer, but it was so honest. Elder Bednar told him it was profound. Several times before Elder Bednar made a point or answered a question he said, "Buckle up, here we go". Elder Bednar does not have favorite scriptures, but instead he has favorite themes in the scriptures. His favorite theme is the pattern of "one by one". He told us that "one by one" is mentioned six times in the Book of Mormon,  is how Jesus ministered, and is how we do things in the church. At the conclusion of our meeting, Elder Bednar left us with his testimony and an apostolic blessing that we would have "faith in Christ to have an eye single to his glory and you will see more clearly who you are, why you are here, and who you will become".  After the closing prayer and hymn, Elder Bednar came up to the microphone one more time and said he is not musically inclined at all, but for years he had the music to a song in his head. He did not know how to get it out. At a function, he met a well known pianist and told him his dilemma. The pianist worked with him for a while until finally he had the music just right. Then Elder Bednar wrote the words to his song and titled it "One By One". Elder Bednar hooked his iPhone to a speaker and played the song for us. It was beautiful.

Saturday evening we went to a barbeque with the Ball's at a member's house in their ward, Javier and Petra. It was such a nice evening to eat outside again. They hired someone to come cook tacos for them. James is such a good missionary. Before you know it he was over talking Spanish to that guy and his teenage helper. He gave them each a Pass-along Card.

One day this week a Fed-X man brought in a package and asked if the  fruit snacks in the jar on the counter were for the taking. I got brave and said, "Sure, if you share a fruit of your labor with me first." I pointed to the scripture on the jar. He read it and thought for a minute and then shared with me. He said his six year old son has mild cerebral palsy and he was finally able to get him on a soccer team which he thinks will really help him. That was so sweet. I went on to tell him about    
how important families are and gave him a family pass-along card. He thanked me.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week of October 31-November 6

On Halloween day we helped to welcome 9 new arriving missionaries, 6 elders and 3 sisters. Actually, one of the sisters was delayed coming from the Mexico MTC and did not arrive until late that night.  Four of them will be Spanish speaking. We were the only ones to "dress up" for the day. James and I take care of lunch for the arriving missionaries and the departing missionaries the next day. We picked up pizza and I made salad and orange jello with spiders and bugs. The jello was a hit! We even provided little "trick or treat" bags for them when they finished all their orientation stations.
On Halloween evening we had dinner at the President Layton's house with the new missionaries. Here they are around the table. We sat at another table with the Assistants and some of the other adults.
We had 10 missionaries go home. Sister Gonzalez (green sweater) was picked up at the mission office by her family. She lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin who live in California a couple hours away. Her mother (orange blouse) came from Mexico to welcome her home.
Friday President Layton asked James to pick up Reed Markham from the airport about noon. He is the father of Elder Markham, one of our missionaries. Elder John Markham is from Florida and has been out on his mission about fourteen months. A week ago Saturday he had a bad mental breakdown and was hospitalized. His mother came to be with him right away, but later in the week she had a breakdown. So the dad came to fly home with them. By the time James got Reed to the hotel to see his wife she was really in bad shape, and they had to call the ambulance. Luckily, some of her sisters (she is from a family of 9 girls and 3 boys) from Los Angeles were there with her. She was admitted to the hospital. James and Reed went to the hospital where John was and had a conference with the doctors before he was released. They said he is probably bi-polar and something triggered this first incident. They came to pick me up and we went to eat dinner at In-N-Out, which was John's request. They didn't want John to know that his mother was in the hospital because they thought it might upset him. Well, Elder Markham was released from his mission on Saturday, the mom was released from the hospital today, and tomorrow they are flying home. This whole experience has been a real trial for the family. Hopefully, everyone will be able to get better.        
We should all be grateful for the gospel and the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, which make it possible to have an eternal perspective and manage these kind of unexpected situations that come up in everyone's lives. 

I saw President Layton in the office Friday afternoon and he told me how much he loved and appreciated Elder Porras especially today to help out with this situation. Elder Porras loves helping people and solving problems, so this was right down his alley and he loved being able to serve. James told me that several times during the day he prayed for help that he would know what to do and the Lord helped him every step of the way!   (President Layton often greets James by calling him "my friend".)

Saturday we attended two baptisms; one at 1:00 and the other at 2:30. We have attended a lot of baptisms since we have been here. They all follow the same basic program and perform the same ordinances, but each baptism is unique. The 1:00 baptism was for Cody Jans, a twenty year old single mother of a little boy about 1 1/2 or 2 years old. Her nonmember father and sister were there supporting her. She is dating a guy in a wheelchair and it was his family who had her in their home for the missionaries to teach her. His brother gave the talk on baptism and his dad baptized her and gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. He told a personal experience that happened about six years ago. His sons said they were going to go to the beach. He had a feeling they shouldn't go and told them, but he figured they were adults and he couldn't do much about it. He didn't give details about what happened, but something terrible did happen that put the one son in a wheelchair. For a long time he felt like it was his fault that he didn't stop them. However, he said the Holy Ghost has been there to comfort him.
The 2:00 baptism was for Christina Torrez, another single twenty year old  mother of two children.   Christina is living with another single mother who was just baptized about a year ago. That woman and her daughter gave the talks. They read their talks, but the spirit was strong. The daughter gave the talk on the Holy Ghost and wrote it in the form of a letter which she gave to Christina at the end. That was really nice and a good idea. She said a few months ago she was really depressed, having problems, and feeling like there was no reason to live. She felt the Holy Ghost giving her comfort and that saved her.

This weekend was our stake conference. Elder Ruben Acosta, an area seventy, and his wife were here. He came from Mexico when he was twelve and joined the church when he was eighteen. That was about thirty years ago. He had a real down to earth way of talking and teaching. He talked a lot about the "rising generation" in Mosiah 26:1-4 and what went wrong and the "rising generation" of our day. He says we must teach our children early about faith and repentance and make sure they know we have a testimony of Christ.
Our Bakersfield grandchildren, Jayline and Grace, played their violin and cello for the prelude and then they played "How Great Thou Art" for a special musical number along with our bishop's daughter who played the piano and the girls' teacher who also played her cello. It was just beautiful and amazing!
We shook Elder Acosta's hand after the meeting and got to visit with him and introduce Jayline and Grace to him and his wife.

Sunday morning at 8:30 there was a special meeting for the Latinos with Elder Acosta. It was held in the Relief Society room. Elder Acosta talked to them about basic things and really emphasized the importance of sending their children on missions and to college. James was asked to say the closing prayer in that meeting. Then we sat on the front row for the regular stake conference meeting at l0:00. The ushers had saved the front middle section for the Latinos. Elder Acosta talked about President Monson and his lifetime of setting the example of "rescuing the one". He said we can be instruments in the hand of God through finding and serving. Elder Acosta encouraged us to spend our time serving and building the kingdom of God. He said by doing that we are building our mansion in heaven and our righteousness will bless our generations to follow.  D&C 98:30

In downtown Bakersfield the distinctive Woolworth's signage still adorns this 1939 Art Moderne building. It is now an antique mall, but still has the Woolworth's luncheonette inside.