Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Week In

We are settled into our apartment, our truck, and our branch.  It is time to get to work, but first I’ll tell a little about our living arrangements and events of the past week.  Gaye and I are still sort of dazed.  Are we really doing this?  What have we got ourselves into?  Now what?

2013 Toyota Tacoma 4WD
We departed Salt Lake on Monday morning (November 19, 2012, for the record).  We were almost late, but almost doesn’t count.  The flight to Atlanta was about 3 hours, we had about 50 minutes to get from the A terminal to the E terminal and down a very long hall to our gate to board for San Juan.  Then we sat on the tarmac for another hour+ as mechanics replaced a leaking oil seal in one of the engines on our 757, which made our arrival in San Juan one hour later than planned.  We were met at the airport by Elder and Sister Tower from the mission office in two cars.  There was also one YTFM (young full-time missionary) on our flight.  We did not see him on the plane or in the Salt Lake airport, but he popped out and asked us if we were headed the same place he was.  Name tags have already proven helpful.

Elder Tower drove our vehicle, Sister Tower drove the Peterson’s, who are assigned to the same mission and have become our friends from the first encounter at the MTC, and we wove our way through the streets of San Juan to the Mission Home, only getting lost twice.  There we met Sister Alvarado and President Alvarado, our new mission parents.  They are both native to Puerto Rico and fluently bilingual.  He has been an area 70, stake president, and CES coordinator in his 39 years.  He was also a consultant for Franklin/Covey, so I am sure we will be focused on organization and plans, etc.  That is good.  We had a nice bowl of soup and fell into our bunk beds.  The mission home is a beautiful large home in a gated community (with locked gates and an armed guard) where the Alvarado family lives and President has an office. There are three beautiful children in the family, two girls and a boy.  Kerrianne, the oldest, is learning the ‘cello and when I mentioned that I play the violin she asked me if I could help her tune her instrument. Happily I assisted her.

Tuesday morning we were up and fed a nice breakfast of something traditional, then off to the mission office.  There we met most of the staff and had a few hours of training from Elder Tower.  Hs is an interesting guy, a former attorney for 18 years and a judge for 20.  He is a counsellor in the mission presidency and travels with his wife every weekend to a different island to visit the branches, check with and interview the missionaries, and be the eyes and ears for President for that part of the mission.  He talks like a judge, sort of rambling and exploring every corner of a discussion.  Bless his heart, he took about 3 hours to discuss what I think I would have done in 30 minutes. We had a nice light lunch, learned how to submit vouchers for expenses we would be reimbursed for, and were taken to the airport for our flight to our assigned island.
From inside our apartment
Tortola.  We are going to the British Virgin Island’s main island of Tortola.  It is about 3 miles wide and 15 miles long, a 30 minute flight from San Juan, very close to the USVI island of St Thomas.  The Peterson’s are going to St Thomas.  The flight was to leave at 1640 in the afternoon (that is 4:40 pm to most Americans, but I like to use the military 24 hour clock designations, so get used to it).  We were there plenty early to get checked in, but I was a little concerned because we were a couple of pounds overweight but winked through at Salt Lake.  The airline rep said the scale was not working, hefted our bags by hand, and said we were fine.  Whew!  There is about $100 charge for a bag that is 51-70 pounds, which one of ours surely was.  Then we went directly to gate 17 to board and fly.  

Schedules are sort of relative here, according to the “old-timers” so I was not concerned that there was nobody at the gate but us.  Time passed, we made a few last-chance phone calls because we would be outside the reach of our AT&T phone zone, 1620 passed, then 1630, and then there was an announcement on the PA: “Will Peterson party of two check into Gate 16 and make your identity known.  We are in the final stages of boarding.  Peterson party of two.”  I thought that was interesting that the Peterson’s were late.  Then I felt that I should go over there and make sure they meant Peterson and not Patterson.  (I am learning to recognize those little feelings better.  I am very grateful for those promptings from The Holy Ghost.)  The gate attendant looked at me, asked for identification, and responded to my query, “Oh, I meant Patterson.  I announced the gate change some time ago.”  I thought, “Not since 1600 you didn’t.” but I said nothing.  We were the last ones on the plane, for the third time.

The story goes on and on.  We enjoyed the hop to Beef Island where the  airport is located, next to Tortola.  Head for the customs gate, (No photos allowed!  Put that camera away!), get in a line, pass through customs, how long will you be staying here, what is your purpose for coming to BVI, what will you be doing here, where will you be staying--any traveller to another land knows the routine.  No problem with most of the questions, but I had no idea where we would be staying, except in an apartment somewhere on the island.  The official at the window was not about to let us through until we told her where we would be staying.  She called her supervisor over for a conference.  She told us and the official we lived at some place called Rocky Point.  OK, fine.  We passed through, met our new branch president and Elder Bob and Sister Terri Bonilla, who will be headed back to Southern California in two days.  It was a warm welcome and we are anxious to get to know these people and other members of the branch.  We have since learned that nobody on the island has real street addresses.  We will live at Whelks Point, Denise Stoutt’s apartment building, #3.  Everybody knows Denise Stoutt, our landlord.

The apartment is beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I was sort of expecting something between the campout experience of Peru and the resort of IRTRA in Guatemala where we stayed on some of our dental humanitarian visits, but more on the primitive side of the scale.  It is a two-bedroom with a commanding view of the ocean and several islands a couple of miles away.  Right below us is Paraqueet Bay, a designated safe harbor for boats to come into when there is a hurricane.  We have air conditioning in every room, cable TV (which I think is a waste adn a distraction but Gaye needs her Fox News fix every night), a modern kitchen and bathroom, and internet access thanks to a neighbor’s wireless zone.  He doesn’t mind us using it, but it is rather slow.  I think we need to upgrade that if we can.

Looking South
Since our arrival we have been taken on a tour of the island by the Bonilla’s and participated in Mutual at the church.  We have met and worked with the YFTM's who are assigned here.  They are good boys and act like they do not get enough to eat but are very well-mannered and gracious.  They also drive a 4WD Toyota Tacoma, but ours is brand new and theirs is a few years old.  In fact ours has only 160 miles on it!  Really brand new.  More about driving on the island later.  There are some strong members here, like Frank and Tau Kalama and their two teenage kids. Frank has been the branch president for almost 10 years and there is nobody to take his place.  They came from Laiea Hawaii 13 years ago and stayed.  Tau has a very good job working in an off-shore banking operation.  Frank is a RM and very strong in his testimony and commitment to the Church here.  We also met a few of the youth and some of the other adult leaders.  Three families went to the temple in Dominican Republic last month and the branch has two missionaries out with one more about ready to go.  We will need to help him get clothing and things he will need for his mission.  The general state of the people is not abject poverty but not much extra, either.  

So here we are.  The Bonilla’s have departed and we are on our own.  The truck is an American model but traffic drives on the left side of the road, so the driver is over the left edge of the very narrow highway. There is a road along the edge of the beach that goes around the island but most of the terrain is almost straight up and down.  Streets are barely wide enough for one-way traffic but it goes both ways.  The climbs up and down the streets are like driving the jeeps at Moab, but with dense foliage and very sharp turns and lots of traffic.

Stay tuned.  There is lots more to come.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Simple Blessings or Tender Mercies

Young Elders to assist the Old Elders
My Brother Lloyd cares for the beautiful grounds

The World Map

639 Missionaries Arrived Wednesday

Missions of the World
George and Sharon Peterson going to San Juan with us

We have had some simple blessings take place this week that have confirmed to me that God is real, he is alive, and he cares about me.  I have also learned, however, that this mission is not about me.  I’ll explain that first.  We have been trained by some really sharp young trainers.  These young men and women are returned missionaries who have been hired to train us to be effective missionaries.  I am sure they have guidance in setting up their lesson plans and in getting us to respond to their instructions and challenges.  However, they all demonstrate a love of life and a love of God that is infectious.  They are confident but not overbearing.  They are serious but also fun to  be around.  They have demonstrated wisdom beyond their years as they have encouraged us older citizens to scrape away the cobwebs and rise to levels we have not been at for a long time.  The MTC experience has been beyond amazing.  I am really left without the ability to describe it.
Our District

We left home early Monday morning.  I could not find my wallet, but we had to go to the airport to catch the flight to Salt Lake.  We had our passports so getting on the flight was not a problem.  However, not knowing the location of my wallet was really bugging me.  We arrived at the MTC where some young missionaries helped us get our bags up to our room.  I was thinking about how I was going to get my documents replaced because the wallet was missing.  Gaye and I knelt and expressed thanks for the safe journey and simply asked that we could find the wallet.  We had a small block of time so we began to unpack the bags.  It was not in the big bag.  I opened up the carry-on I brought with me and there it was in plain sight.  Now most people would have a simple explanation for that, and I am not saying it was left in Twin Falls and miraculously showed up here, but I am sure I looked inside that bag at least twice before we left home.  No matter, it was found.  And I felt an answer to my prayer.  It was lost and then it was found.

We are taking laptops with us to wherever we are going.  I have an Apple MacBook and Gaye has a nice PC.  Well, she tried to get into her PC and could not open it up.  We took it to the tech support people here at the MTC.  They are like Geek Squad assigned to this one facility.  They said it could not be opened without some sophisticated software manipulations.  I felt like the computer Gaye said was hers was really heavy, but I had no reason to think it was a wrong unit.  We finally called Tom and asked him for the password.  This computer is the one he got at dental school but decided to replace with an Apple unit.  His password did not help.  So we called Lindsay and asked her to come get it and take it to the tech people at Tom’s school so they could open it.  She drove down here and we made the transfer outside the gate of the MTC.  There is actually a gate that is manned 24/7 and missionaries are expected to sign out and in so we can all be accounted for.  Anyway, Lindsay took the heavy Dell unit back to Tom.  Gaye and I were at our room so we knelt and prayed that we would find that computer.

Not long after that Tom called and said that the computer Lindsay had brought to him was not the one he had received when he started school.  What!  How could it be!  Surely the TSA people at Twin Falls airport didn’t switch it.  Could it have been inadvertently confused and switched when it went through the scanners?  Tom had a location device on it and was able to track it down.  There had been a switch when it was scanned.  Gaye was pulled to the side and hand scanned because her new bionic hip was setting off the metal detectors.  I watched the trays of our belongings as they came down the ramp and took the computers and shoes and belt and watch, quickly crammed them into our bags and marched out to board the plane.  Neither we nor the guy who had our computer by mistake had any idea of the mixup.  So we haver now made arrangements to get his back to him and Ashlee will be bringing ours down from Twin Falls when she and Trevor return to their home on Sunday.  Coincidence?  maybe, but I choose to believe that our prayer was answered.  The computer was lost and now it is found.

I have learned that this mission is not about me.  It is about God’s love for his children.  It is about selfless and faithful service as we go out to our area of assignment.  I have no idea where we will be assigned specifically, and I have no specific idea who we will be working with, but we have been called of God through the actions of one of the Apostles and President Monson to our specific mission.  When we reach San Juan we will be assigned, under inspiration to our mission president, to a specific branch on an island in the mission.  That is a sobering realization.  We did not choose where we would serve.  We go willingly to where we have been called.  Great adventures await us, and we are ready to go.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Farewell Talk

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil,
For Thou are with me
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We have met to take the sacrament.  I do not want to detract from that high point.  However, Elder Oaks said at important occasions we should teach important doctrine.  That is what I desire to do.

The words to the song the choir just sang are inspired by Psalm 23.

1.  The Lord is my ashepherd; I shall not bwant.

I believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.  I believe they are separate beings physically, but in every other way they are one.  It is much simpler to explain how they are one than how they are not one.  They are one in everything except physical bodies. 

This is the most important doctrine.  Truth is independent in the sphere in which God has placed it, but truth rarely stands alone. Truth is part of a hierarchical system. Not all truth is of the same importance. Satan knows that the most important doctrines are the ones at the foundation of the Gospel. Whether Jesus was 6 feet tall or 5’10” and was right handed or left handed is trivial, but having a correct understanding of the true nature of God is essential to our worshiping him correctly.  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the Gospel, and is in fact the first principle of truth and reality.  Truth is knowledge of things as they really are. Paul taught that we are children of God, and children have the potential to become like their parents, because they are of the same family. There are more things common with us and God our Father than there are things different.  True, there are differences just as there are differences between me and my youngest grandchild, but children become grownups (sometimes the parents wonder about that one, but it is the nature of how things work).
Jesus is my shepherd, and I am one of his sheep.  My Shepherd will supply my needs.  Jehovah is his name.  From the very beginning Jesus has been the one to step forward with the plan of redemption.  When Lucifer tried to sabotage the Father’s plan, Jesus, also known as Jehovah, stepped forward to fulfill the will of our Father and voluntarily be the One to put his life up as ransom for our lives.  He is my shepherd, and I am his lamb. 

I have learned that I am on this earth to be tested and to learn and grow.  Life is a school, and this is not recess.  Therefore, the challenges we now face, have faced, and will yet face are real, and they are worthy tests of the reward that awaits our successful passing of the test.  In the process of enduring to the end, however, I have been given the promise that my shepherd is there for me.  He secures the ninety-nine who are at the moment secure and not wandering, although we know that sheep love to wander and that each will wander a little, sooner or later, and will need to be rescued.  With the 99 safely in the fold, watched and protected and led by the undershepherds, Jesus comes looking for me.  And I want to be found.  I must listen for his voice as he calls me.  I must move towards that voice with resolution, motivated by love.  

My Shepherd will supply my needs, and because of Him I shall not want.  The word “want” has many meanings, but the one that applies in a Gospel sense is “need”.
see also Lack; Need.
  1. in want of all things, Deut. 28:48
  2. place where there is no want of any thing, Judg. 18:10
  3. Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, Ps. 23:1
  4. they that seek the Lord shall not want, Ps. 34:10
  5. fools die for want of wisdom, Prov. 10:21
  6. she of her want did cast in all that she had, Mark 12:44
  7. famine … he began to be in want, Luke 15:14
  8. when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, John 2:3
  9. your abundance may be a supply for their want, 2 Cor. 8:14
  10. Not that I speak in respect of want, Philip. 4:11
  11. set in order the things that are wanting, Titus 1:5
  12. suffer much for the want of food, 1 Ne. 16:19 (3 Ne. 4:3).
  13. administering to their relief … according to their wants, Mosiah 4:26 (Mosiah 18:29).
  14. every man … receive according to his wants, D&C 42:33
  15. every man equal according to … his wants, D&C 51:3 (D&C 82:17).
  16. searching after the poor to administer to their wants, D&C 84:112
I am one of the undershepherds.  Actually, we all are.  We are called to assist the Shepherd in finding, leading, and saving the sheep who have wandered.  Dear to the Heart of The Shepherd expresses this beautifully. I am capable of assisting in the shepherdly duties, but because of the nature of my humanity my capability fluctuates.  As President Don Smith said, we are expected to give our all and do our best, but sometimes that best is not very good. We need to cut each other some slack.  But the goal is to get better at it, to learn from our experiences to distinguish good from evil, and to move along the path as we hold to the rod.  

If we hold to the rod we are sliding our hands along while maintaining contact as we move forward.  We thus maintain contact with the rod as we progress toward the Tree of Life and its glorious fruit.  It is interesting to me that those who cling to the rod are the ones described as short-lived in their visit to the Tree of Life.  They see the world and are embarrassed and ashamed by their unworldly position by the Tree, so they leave.  I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he aleadeth me beside the still waters.

As my shepherd, Jesus leads me to where there is food and water.  In fact, Jesus is the Bread of Life, and he is the fountain of Living Water.  He is the Light, the Resurrection, and the Life. He leads me and makes it available.  He does not force me to go where he wants me to go.  I have been blessed with the power and responsibility to choose.  

The Mormon definition of Agency is the opportunity to choose what I want to do.  But the meaning of Agency in the 1830 dictionary, which tells us something of what Joseph Smith meant when he used the term, has more to do with acting and being a representative.  It relates to being an agent.  An agent is given the right to act in behalf of the one who gives the agency, so as long as the agent behaves and obeys the terms of the contractual arrangement, his actions are recognized and accepted by the granter of the agency.  However, when the agent decides to ignore or violate the terms of his contract, he loses his agency and is no longer filling the role of agent.  Repentance gives us, the intern agents, the opportunity and ability to regain our agency, but it remains that agents are bound to act in the terms of the agreement.  Agents do not have the right to act outside the terms of their agreement of agency.  When they do thus act, they have lost their agency, and it is because they gave it up, not because someone took it away. 

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of arighteousness for his bname’s sake.

The process of repenting is strengthening.  It is the greatest of the gifts of God, for it gives us the opportunity and the method to continually adjust our course to the path that leads beside the stream leads to the Tree of Life.  Indeed, Eternal Life is the greatest of all the gifts of God.  
We can gain Eternal Life by obedience and repentance, made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We are judged according to our acts, and we know it is by grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved after all we can do.

4 Yea, though I awalk through the bvalley of the cshadow of ddeath, I will fear no eevil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they fcomfort me.

There is ample opportunity for us to experience the depravity of a world that frequently chooses to follow Satan, or at least chooses to dawdle in Babylon, the counterfeit of Zion.  President Packer has said that we are living in the great and spacious building.  It is no longer separated from us physically.  We must learn to recognize the difference between Zion and Babylon, for knowing the difference is paramount to leaving Babylon and coming to Zion.  

This world is a dark, disturbing, enticing, momentarily gratifying, confused, dangerous place and more importantly, lifestyle.  The reward that lies at the end of the path leading to the world is misery and unhappiness, for Satan desires to make all men miserable like unto himself.  

We, on the other hand, are free to choose life and joy according to the product of obedience made possible through the redemption of Jesus Christ.  Although the world is a scary place, we do not need to be afraid of evil.  In fact the final score is already known and the winning team is already known.  As Elder Holland put it, the only thing left undetermined is which team jersey I will wear.  I choose to be on the Jesus team, for that is the one that will win in the end.  So as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and destruction and misery, we can do so with joy and rejoicing, for Jesus is our guide and his love will ward off the attacks of evil if we will only allow it. 

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou aanointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The sacrament is an opportunity to refreshen our covenants with the Lord.  More than that, it is a renewal of those covenants.  We get to make them again every time we partake of the emblems of the Atonement.  We renew every covenant we have made, including baptism, the accepting of the commandment to receive the Holy Ghost, the oath and covenant of the Priesthood, and every covenant we make by sacred signal in the Temple, including when we kneel at the alter.  

Truly, Jesus has prepared a table for us.  The sacrament table is a place of feasting.  Feasting is not the same as gorging or banqueting.  A feast in the Old Testament was a time of renewal of covenant and refreshing of awareness of the requirements of the journey we are on.  It is a celebration of God’s love for us, his children, his sheep.  The Feast of the Passover became the Feast of the Lord’s Supper.  The transition was seamless, for the unleavened bread and cup of the vine of the Passover was the bread that Jesus broke and the cup of wine he blessed to be the emblems of his divine Atonement.  Thus, the cup of our blessedness is overflowing.  All we must do is sit down and partake.  It is available to all without money and without price.

6 Surely agoodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

When we realize the safety and security that is available to us when we make and keep the covenants, our hearts rejoice.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

The two verbs “shall” and “will” are not accidentally put in here.  Shall is a declaration of actions whose fulfillment are not in any doubt.  It portends the future in certain terms.  There is no uncertainty or waffeling connected to “shall”.  Look it up.  "My words shall all be fulfilled" said the Lord.
“Will” is an expression of desire.  What wilt thou have me do? was the question Paul asked.  The sacrament prayer speaks of those willing to take upon them the name of Jesus. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life--a declaration of certainty, intent, or expectation.  I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever--a declaration of desire, resolve, and decision.  I want to be there.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth, said John.  I want to be there.  Yea Lord, wash my feet and my whole body, said Peter.  What I want to hear most of all is the Lord himself saying to me: Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Come in.  Sit down.  Enter into my rest. Let me put my arms around you and allow you to feel the fulness of my love for you.  You have proven faithful over many things, I will make you a recipient of all things that my Father has.

I have looked forward to serving this mission for most of my life.  As a young man it was my goal to serve a mission.  My patriarchal blessing says I shall bear my testimony in distant places.  My first mission was to South Africa.  Two weeks after I arrived there in April 1966 I participated in a testimony meeting in Port Elizabeth in Cape Province.  There is no place on teh planet more distant from my home in Rexburg Idaho.  Since Gaye and I formed our family it has been my desire to go with her out into the world somewhere to preach and teach and work as missionaries do.  We decided we will “go where you want us to go dear Lord” and we are excited to be on our way.  I am confident that the Lord’s work will go on with or without me, and I want to be on the field with the team, not on the sidelines.  I am a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, but in this army and in this battle, I want to be a foot soldier in the front line if that is where the Lord needs me.  It may not be at the battle’s front, but after all, someone needs to be the leader of the first charge, going on as a Christian soldier, sounding the war cry “Watch and Pray”, wearing the whole armor of God including the shield of faith and the sword of virtue.  For it is true that the only way to secure our life, to save it, is to give it or surrender it to God.

The words to the song we just sang:     My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

My shepherd will supply my need; Jehovah is his name.
In pastures fresh he makes me feed beside the Living Stream
He brings my wand’ring spirit back when I forsake his ways,
And leads me for his mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay;
One word of thy supporting breath drives all my fears away.
Thy hand in sight of all my foes doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows, Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
O may thy house be mine abode and all thy work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest while others go and come,
No more a stranger, nor a guest; but like a child at home.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

After the election...some thoughts

The 2012 election is finally over.  Most of my candidates lost, but I am sort of not surprised.  Just seriously disappointed.  The outcome signals several things to me.

  1. I am getting old.  We could play the “I remember” game about past elections, civility, truth being spoken by the major candidates, people actually being in control of their lives, friendship and respect between people who disagreed over fundamental issues, etc.  Instead of that, though, I just feel old.  Mitt and I are the same age.  He won’t run again.  In fact, nobody from my generation will run again.  The next round will be between people Marc Rubio and Paul Ryan’s age.  Chris Matthews will fade into the recycle pit.  O’Reiley will finally be quiet.  Juan Williams will be branded as he really is, a full-blown liberal.  Even our Fake President Obama will fade away.  Life has a way of moving on.
  2. The nature of our nation is changing.  It is perhaps just as well that I get old and ride into the sunset.  I confess I am concerned for my children and especially for my grandchildren.  I hope they will have opportunities to go to college and have good jobs.  I still believe God is in charge and that we will come out stronger on the other side. It will be painful, though.
  3. The role of our country is also changing.  I have long believed that the purpose and mission of the USA has been to serve as a place from which the Gospel of Peace, the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, can and will go to all the world.  The history of our founding and growth has taught me that.  God’s hand has been in our history from the very beginning.  There has been conflict and turmoil, as there will always be until Satan is bound and cast out into his own kingdom, but the result has been a strong People of God who have come to know The One in whom we put our trust. As the Church and Kingdom of God grow and spread over the earth, just as Daniel said it would do, the focus on the USA will probably also diminish, though not go away.  Great leaders are being brought forward from many nations.  It was never only about America.  We lead the way, but there are many who also follow.
  4. The optimist in me clings to the bright side of what the future might hold.  A lot of that hope comes from the Book of Mormon.  Those people went through some pretty dismal scenes, too, but in the end their happiness was contingent on their individual commitment to be obedient and keep the commandments.  As Alma said, wickedness (disobedience) never was happiness, but we as individuals (and therefore as a nation) have the opportunity to repent and change.  Salvation is an individual matter.

I will leave it at that.  Gaye and I are almost ready to go.  Good thing, too, because we enter the MTC on Monday.  Our house is full of family.  All the kids are here and it is happy confusion.  We will have our non-farewell tomorrow and pack our bags to fly to SLC Monday morning.  What will this adventure bring to us?  I promise I will get my camera out next time.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

T minus 7 days

Today was a typical Sunday, except that there are not any more of those since we received our call to the Virgin Islands.  (We are really going to San Juan Puerto Rico, but there are six small islands of cruise ship fame in our mission and we are anticipating to be sent quickly to one of them to work with whatever Church unit is found there.)  We are not getting much sympathy.

You are called to Where!
We forgot to turn our clocks back.  Church doesn’t start until 1130 so there is really never any panic getting ready.  We have choir practice at 1030.  I decided to see how many of the hymns I can play on the piano (the answer is complicated--some I can play, some I will be able to work into shape, some I can simplify, and some will never be played by these hands), so I attacked the hymn book for about an hour.  Suddenly Gaye called out that she was ready to go and that we needed to hurry because choir practice is at 1030 and it was already 1027. It takes more than 5 minutes to drive to the chapel.  I hate being late.

We pulled into the first parking spot I saw instead of the usual parking in the farthest spot from the door so nobody will ding my car (and I need the exercise).  We walked quickly into the building and went straight for the chapel doors, which were closed.  In fact there was a meeting going on inside.  That is strange because the ward that meets before us should have been finished long before 1030.  Gaye had her hand on the door before we realized that we were an hour early.  That’s better than an hour late, but I have never done that before.  So we drove home, read and talked for a while, and returned for the regular choir rehearsal at the adjusted hour.  Don’t you just love Daylight Savings Time!  We lose one hour every day after it moves ahead in March but we only gain back one hour when it moves back in November.

We are getting ready.  By that I mean that we make a list and try to get it checked off, only to discover more things that were not on the list.  So a new list is made and on it goes.  The yard is put to sleep, but there are still things to do out there.  The house needs to be gone through and sorted.  Millions of things need to be put away so they will be findable and useable when we return.  Some of the grandkids love to get into closed doors and cabinets.  It will be interesting to see how this works out.  I keep telling myself it will be fine.

Next Sunday will be hectic.  Our kids are all coming home.  Even Juli and Shon and the 5 Robinson kids are coming for a brief but much anticipated visit from Anchorage Alaska.  That is sure closer than Brisbane Australia.  We have a family photo shoot lined up for Saturday afternoon.  Then Sunday will be finely choreographed as we practice a song for church with our kids joining our ward choir, are set apart by our stake president, and get to our sacrament meeting, all before the meeting starts at 1130.  Oh yea, Gaye and I are speaking at the meeting.  I have a talk to prepare.

Stay tuned.  The story is just beginning.