Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week of March 20-26

I swore off sugar for now. A few months ago Sister Harmon "invited" me to stop eating sugar. She "testified" it would be a beneficial move. I told her I was not ready to accept her invitation. A few years ago I did stop eating sugar for at least six months or longer and it was a good thing. Anyway, I finally decided it was time for me to do it again. So far so good. I have not had any 🍬, 🍰🍨, 🍪, 🍫,  etc. all week. I feel like I have been blessed because those things have surprisingly not been much of a temptation to me.
That is the Tiwi mounted on the window.

Wednesday we went to Lancaster for Zone Conferences. We drove Sister Layton's old car down there and traded it out with another car that we drove back that some of the elders had which is going to be sold. Of course, the cars had Tiwi's in them so James had to really watch his p's & q's while he was driving. After lunch we gave all the elders and sisters new insurance cards to put in their cars. At the conclusion of Zone Conference, one elder had to view the defensive driving video. That evening we had dinner at Marie Calendar's with President & Sister Layton, Elder & Sister Richey, and three church service missionary couples who serve as housing inspectors. When we were getting ready to leave and just standing around visiting, this woman sitting at a nearby table asked me if we were going to church. I started talking to them and told them we were senior missionaries for our church. Her husband asked if the boys in black pants and white shirts belonged to us. I proudly said yes. They had a few questions and I told them what we did. They have been married 59 years and have 4 children, 7 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren who all live in Lancaster. They all go to church together each Sunday at a bible church. We told them they are very blessed to have all their family near them and they agreed. Hopefully, we spread some good will about Mormons. Then we went to a late movie at Blvd. Cinema in downtown Lancaster. The "blvd." is very nice with lots of trees and vertical parking in the center of the street. The movie theatre had $5 movies for seniors on Wednesday. The theatre had huge, leather recliners which were so comfortable. After the movie, a man on the street saw James open the car door for me and remarked to him, "What a gentleman!"

President Layton told the missionaries that Elder Rasband and others have said there are three places  where we are on "holy ground"; temples, churches, and our homes. He talked to them about keeping their apartments clean and organized so they can be a holy place and a place where they can feel the spirit. He reminded them that Elder Oaks taught that "if we want to talk to God, we pray. If we want to listen to God, we read the scriptures." He also quoted Sister Beck, who was quoting someone else, "Don't wallow in imperfections; starve the problems, feed the opportunities."  President Layton's main theme for the conference was how the "power of the word" can bless people and how they can access it. He talked about getting to know the Savior as opposed to just knowing who he is. He told them that the great book, "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage was written in the Salt Lake Temple. He also told the missionaries that the first time he read the book when he was a young man, he struggled with the vocabulary in it. Now, he understands it better. Sister Layton talked about the Christ like attribute, diligence. She stressed we have a responsibility for our time (don't waste it and use it effectively) and a responsibility for our attitude (be positive, patient, and joyful). President Layton said he did the math and figured out the missionaries have 48 hours per week to proselyte and give service. He said he wants them to be accountable for those hours in their weekly letter to him so they will be more aware of how they use their time.

We spent the night in Lancaster because Thursday we also attended the other Zone Conference so James could switch out the car and give out the new insurance cards. We left early at lunch time so we could eat at BJ's Restaurant and Brewery in Palmdale. Palmdale is just next door to Lancaster. We asked if Rob Roberts (they are the people we met at Disneyland last weekend that invited us to sit at their table) was working and were able to get seated in his area. A couple minutes after we sat down, Rob and his daughter came over looking kind of surprised, but pleased that we came. His daughter was on Spring Break and they didn't have a babysitter, so he brought her to work. She spotted us when we came in and told her dad. We had a nice lunch and a very attentive waiter. Before we left, we gave Rob a pass along card with our phone number and an invitation to have the missionaries come and teach his family how they can be an eternal family. We'll see what happens. Sophie has her Disneyland "diamond anniversary" ears on. 

The water heater at the mission office building broke and caused water damage in our office and the office next door. All of these boxes of Book of Mormons were in the closet where most of the damage was. Thankfully, the boxes were only a little water logged, but the books inside of them were okay. They had a restoration company come drill holes in the walls and extract water and dry it out with fans.

On Saturday, James picked up Chris. He met his dad and sister and said they were very nice. Chris was just baptized a few weeks ago. James asked him how his dad was doing with his decision to join the church, and he said things were much better now. James took him to the mall to shop for Sunday clothes. They went to JC Penney's and got some good bargains. James got him two pairs of slacks, a suit jacket, a belt, and two white shirts. Then they had lunch. We have a box of ties at the office that someone donated some we took him three ties on Sunday. One of the missionaries showed him how to tie a tie. Chris looked very handsome blessing the sacrament and we think he felt good.

We went to pick up Mary Vega so she could attend a baptism with us. Her baptism date is April.  Elders Rowley and Hulet met us there to help get her wheelchair in the car. They told us she had fallen and hurt her hip and were also going to give her a blessing. She invited James to give her the blessing, and he gave her a beautiful blessing of healing. She said she had just gotten back from the hospital and was not feeling up to going. She also has dialysis Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and that takes a toll on her.

Kyli with some of the young women from her ward who came to her baptism.
The baptism we went to was for Kyli Dudley, a fourteen year old girl. As part of the program after the talks and her baptism, Kyli shared her testimony and conversion story. She said she grew up in a nonreligious home, but knew about prayer and had faith. She was having a difficult time last summer and was praying for help and was trying to focus on the positive things in her life. Gavin, a friend from school, texted her and invited her to his church. She liked the way he acted joyous, so she went. She said she was thankful for her struggles because without them she wouldn't have found Christ. She said, "I felt comfort, gained faith, and became happy."  We were surprised that she was only 14 because she was very articulate and mature. Her mother and grandmother attended.

About a month ago we received the results of our DNA test that we did through My Heritage. The test kits came in pretty boxes. We swabbed the insides of our checks and sent them off. We had to wait about three months for the results.   Drum roll!!!

James' ethnicities are:  48.2% Europe (40.7% Iberian from South Europe and 7.5% Scandinavian from North and West Europe), 38.5% Central American, and 13.3% Middle Eastern.
Alecia's ethnicities are: 96.2% Europe (7.1% Iberian from South Europe and 3.7% East European) and 3.8% Middle Eastern.
We were both surprised about the Middle Eastern. Pretty interesting!