Sunday, May 18, 2014

Home Again, Home Again ...

The PRSJ Missionaries going home May 8, 2014.  All the young elders are from Latin America.  I love them all.
Sister Sigler interpreting Spanish testimonies for Gaye.

With Pres and Sister Zwick, our new mission president.

We arrived home a week ago, on May 8.  The first thing we did was visit with our stake president who interviewed us and released us from our service as full-time missionaries with an enthusiastic expression for our service and for our example to other senior couples in our stake who might be interested in serving missions.

We slept well in our own beds Thursday night.  AHHHH!!!!!  It really was nice.  

Early Friday morning we caught the short flight to Salt Lake, where we were greeted by a bunch of our kids.  
Now this is a treadmill!

Ezra, at our first meeting.  He wouldn't go to Gaye, but he came right to me.  Yes!!!

It was a real missionary home-coming with banners and hugs and tears and all, but it was especially for us to see many of our grandkids that we have not seen for 18 months.  Sometimes I think we never really left, but then I see the changes in size of the kids and I come back to reality.

Friday mid-day we visited the Sacred Gifts art exhibit being held at BYU Museum of Art.  It was to end on May 10, so I really wanted to get to see it before it closed.  In fact, the exhibit has been extended for two more weeks to accommodate more people, but I did not want to wait a minute longer than necessary.  It was everything I had expected, and more.  The centerpiece of the exhibit for me, and I suspect for most everyone who went, was the Schwartz painting entitled Agony in the Garden.  
Agony in the Garden, by Franz Schwartz

Same subject by Carl Bloch, actually painted before Schwartz.

It is a depiction of a subdued Christ sunk to his knees, his hands clasped in supplication to his Father to let him get past what was waiting for him, but only if it was in harmony with his Father's wishes.  An angel has been sent to support and strengthen Jesus. Maybe the angel is his Heavenly Mother?  It was not something that he could bypass, however, so he meekly and majestically submitted to the Father's will and finished the preparation for the salvation of God's other children.  As I stood looking at that magnificent and sensitive painting I felt tears of gratitude well up in my eyes and roll unashamedly down my cheeks.  He did that for me!  The least I can do is to give my life for him, too.

Friday afternoon all our kids, including Juli from Alaska, gathered at the Kendrick home in Sandy for a fun and happy reunion.  We visited together, we sang, we laughed, we ate, and Esc renewed our ties of love and family.  

We drove home Saturday morning when I immediately got my lawn mower going and trimmed the grass.  One more day and I would have needed a baler to get it removed from the lawn.  The yard was cleaned up by our neighbors and ward members last week, so things actually are looking really good.  I purchased some seed potatoes, which should have been in the ground by Good Friday, and tried to get ready to start the garden.  In fact, I rented a tiller and plowed up the garden in preparation.  That physical activity almost did me in, but I will recover, I think.  

This week I planted potatoes and onions, with some help from some of the youngest of the grandkids.  

Four-year old Jackson covering some onions.

When I asked for help I had several volunteers, like I was offering ice cream cones, but that didn’t last long. Their attention span is something short of about 3 minutes, which I think is probably longer than most adults. 

Four-year old Mia helping cover the potatoes, and enjoying the mud.

Anyway, the spuds are in the ground, all 6 rows of them.  The onions should do well in the boxes I made two years ago for the square-foot garden plan.  This week I will get some more things in the ground, including some tomatoes.  I love tomatoes and like the spuds, I plant several different varieties.  They come on at different times, then have different colors and tastes, and it is just fun.

This weekend has been filled with wonderful  activities.  We made our first visit to the temple since last April, excited to be able to participate in the sweet experience of temple worship again.  The new presentation added a new level of interest as we felt the power of the instruction we received there.  I love the temple, and we are planning on going at least weekly, as we did before we left on our mission 18 months ago.

Some of my daughters wanted to take the canoes out for a ride, so we did.  As we were paddling along by the cliffs on the north side of Dierkes Lake the girls started singing Pie Jesu from Rutter’s Requiem.  I joined in with them and it was great fun.  We didn’t sing very loud, but we were in tune with each other and it was actually quite nice.  In fact, while we were loading the canoes on the truck to go home a young man came over to ask us if that was really us out there singing.  He said it sounded great.  Welcome home!

So that about does it for the Caribbean Adventure.  Gaye reported first in church today and she was gracious to leave me plenty of time even though I told her to take all the time she wanted to take.  We were warmly welcomed back into the ward.  I think this is somewhat like it will be when we are reunited with our beloved family and friends as we pass through the veil when we leave this frail existence.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple

Strangler fig tree.  It slowly grows up around the host and eventually kills it.  Like sin.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Faith and Truth

Once in a while I come across something that really connects with my spirit, that reminds me that I still have a lot more questions than answers.  This sweet lady lost two sons in the tornadoes of last Sunday, but, like Job of old, she refuses to curse God and die.  Instead, this has been a reason for her to praise God more, and to pass the word.  Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the blessings of the restored Gospel.  There are "many ... among all sects, parties, and denominations who are... kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it." D&C 123:12.  That does not mean that we have all the answers or all the truth.  It means that we have access to the priesthood covenants because of the restoration through Joseph Smith, and through the restoration that is still going on.  So I invite you to go to this site and read the story.  Then watch the short video at the end. Then read the talk by Elder Maxwell, or better, read it and listen to it simultaneously. And I invite us all to raise our voice in praise to our loving God, who loves us enough to give us the tests that we need to pass in order to become what he wants us to be.

Friday, May 2, 2014


So I guess when a blog receives a lengthy negative critical personally insulting comment it is a sign that the thing might have some merit?  I just read a comment and then deleted it because it promotes a spirit of contention.  When I first started this activity I said that it is my blog, I will write what I feel like writing, and if readers don't like it they can choose to not read it.  I reserve the right to delete any comments I feel are negative and promote a spirit of contention.  Period.

I will say that if I have said something that is offensive, I am sorry.  But that does not include being sorry for saying something that somebody might feel offended by.  As Brigham Young is reputed to have said:  He who is offended when offense was not intended is a fool.  He who is offended when offense was intended is also a fool.

I had a sweet experience yesterday.  Our former mission president is now working to build the self-reliance program in the Caribbean.  He lives here in PR and he has an office in the same building, just down the hall, but he spends most of his time during the week in the Dominican Republic.  So it was a thrill when I actually found out that he was in his local office. As usual he wrapped me up in a big hug, which I also felt for him. His daughter is attending school at BYUI, so when I reminded him that we are from Idaho he quickly suggested that we should get together when they come to visit Rexburg in October.  We will.

One of his many strong suits as president has been the love he obviously has for the saints out in the small islands.  The islands are so different from Puerto Rico it is hard to imagine them in the same mission, but the islands are not really big or numerous enough to have their own mission, they are part of this one. There is a West Indies Mission that takes in many islands as well as Surinam and Guyana, but I think it would be a huge task for a mission president to have to travel to all those islands for interviews and to put out fires.

That is just one of the many administrative challenges as the Church grows throughout the world.  We are all blessed to know pioneers, sometimes as stories of our ancestors and sometimes as personal relationships with the living modern kind. Blessed, honored pioneers!

So I will continue to write what I feel like writing, and all y'all out there in cyberspace can do what you want with it.  Five more days and we head back to the cold north country.  I think we are going to freeze.  Stay tuned.

These are some of my favorite things Puerto Rican.

This is a mail box.