Monday, December 8, 2014

First Stop: San Diego

We continue to enjoy serving here in the San Diego Mission while waiting for our visas.  The missionaries (about 250 of them, 25 senior couples) and all the people we have met are very kind to us and make us feel welcome.  We have found something in common with many of the other senior missionary couples here including a sister missionary that I worked with many years ago at ZCMI, a brother missionary that was friends with our Utah ward member Bob Mouritsen, a couple missionary whose daughter is in the Bruertons’ (friends in Utah) neighborhood, our mission president and a couple from Texas that knows Jeff’s sister Karen and her family .  The couples serving in the mission office have been helpful in giving us some training in preparation for India. The first Monday of each month the senior missionaries get together for Family Home Evening.   In December we gathered at the Institute building for dinner and a Christmas program. 

Our main responsibility is to help current members.   One of the members we are working with joined the church a few years ago.  He moved to San Diego and, for various reasons, stopped coming to church. He has shared with us that he wants to return to church activity, as he recognizes that the happiest time of his life was when he was fully involved with the church.  We enjoy helping him come back.   We also have made some visits and attempted visits to members in our ward that are either new move-ins or haven’t been seen for awhile.   We have helped some with employment needs.  There are other members we hope to visit in the next few weeks.

Another priority is to invite other people to come unto Christ and learn about the church.  We love the new 3 minute Christmas video—“He is the Gift”.  We have shared it with people we have met and they have felt the spirit of the message.  We plan to continue to share it over the next few weeks.   We invite you all to please discover, embrace and share it!  It is all about the best gift of Christmas. Click on the link below:

An inspiring moment was when we met a clerk in the grocery store who after seeing our name tags commented that he had a friend who found family, which he did not think he had, with the help of our church and FamilySearch.  He actually flew to where they were and had Thanksgiving dinner with them.  We also met a clerk in a sporting goods store who also agreed to have the missionaries.  Another interesting teaching experience for us was visiting an inmate in the San Diego County Jail.  It was Sue’s first and Jeff’s second time inside a jail.  The inmate’s fiancĂ© had just joined the church and she wanted him to start learning about the church.  Unfortunately, they would not allow us to give him a Book of Mormon, but we were able to teach him some of the basic principles.  We will have a Book of Mormon mailed to him, and then follow-up with some more discussion.  He gets out of prison in January and says he would like to be baptized.

As with young missionaries, schedules are not always full and appointments are cancelled.  So we find other opportunities to serve.  We have sorted holiday food at the San Diego food bank, and inspected missionary apartments.  We have visited the family history center and are becoming more comfortable with the new websites for this work.  We have found some new family names to take to the temple.  We know we won’t be able to go to the temple once we get to India, so we are getting in some extra visits to the temple while we are here.

A highlight for us was being able to join with lifetime friends the Colins for Thanksgiving dinner. They were dear friends and neighbors of my family when I was a child and have been our friends for more than 50 years!  We enjoyed visiting with their family and the dinner was a delicious feast!  We have also enjoyed going out to lunch with our cousins who live in the area.

The weather here in San Diego is beautiful and we love walking along the beaches or on Harbor Island.  We do a marathon every week!  (It takes us the entire week to complete the 26 plus miles.)  We try and do at least a 3 to 4 mile walk early every morning to keep in shape and also to offset our “It’s-It” treats (California specialty ice cream sandwich  made with oatmeal cookies, ice cream and dipped in chocolate).

For P-Day activities, we have been able to visit some of local attractions including The Mormon Battalion Historical site, La Jolla coves with an abundance of seals, Cabrillo Monument, Point Loma, and Mount Soledad.  The San Diego temple grounds are beautifully decorated for Christmas and offer Christmas concerts every weekend.  The Mormon Battalion site will also be having the 12 days of Christmas with musical presentations every night.

We are so happy being missionaries and our testimonies have been strengthened witnessing the gospel going forth to all peoples.  We have increased in knowledge and love as we study the Preach my Gospel manual and the scriptures.  It is wonderful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and to be involved in bearing testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.  We are truly blessed!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 1 and 2

It was great to have our entire family with us for our farewell sacrament meeting and setting apart on October 26.  We are also grateful for the other family and friends that joined us.

On November 3 we drove to the MTC and checked in.  It wasn’t the same process as we went through with our kids.  We stayed at the Wyview Family Housing, which was about a mile from the MTC, so it was a short commute every day.  There were about 45 couples and 9 single sisters that started with us.  There were more MLS (Member and Leader Support) missionaries than the other types.  But there was quite a variety of calls, including humanitarian, record retention, stay at home M/LS, family history center, employment center, office support, PEF (perpetual education fund/self reliance), medical, and welfare.  They were going to all areas of the world.  One couple was going to Iraq.

We found Scott’s picture still hanging on the wall, with a family he was able to baptize in Brazil a few years ago.

We met Zach Ashton from our ward in the MTC on our first day.  It was his last week before leaving to Moscow, Russia.  He was in my sunbeam class 14 years ago, and was our home teacher just before he left.

Our first week at the MTC was focused on learning how to teach from “Preach My Gospel.”  They divided us into districts of 8 for our classes.  We were impressed with the power of the message and the teaching program.  We did role plays within our district and with volunteer “investigators” who came to give us some good practice.  It was a little stressful, certainly not as easy as just listening to lectures.

The food was great in the MTC.  Mom wondered why she had bothered to send food to our sons.  They feed hundreds everyday.  Where’s Waldo Elder Bedke in the picture?

On P-Day we got to go to a BYU basketball game.  We were standing in line to buy tickets and a man came up to us and gave us tickets.  Curtis has decided to start dressing as a missionary when he needs tickets.  We were able to see friends from our ward—the Hobby’s, Smart’s, and Larsen’s.  After the game we saw my cousin, Curt Collard.  We had seen him in Arizona last winter just after he had gone through chemo and white blood cell transfusion, so it was wonderful to see him in a greatly improved situation.

We were also able to go to the Hindu exhibit at the BYU museum, and learn more about the India culture.  They have many Gods.  One of the principal gods has been reincarnated 10 times.  He lived some of his earlier lives as animals.  He was Krishna in his seventh life (or avatar) and Budda in his tenth.  They believe he will come back again at the end of the world.

Our visas didn’t come as hoped, so we stayed in the MTC for a second week.  We decided to attend the office training classes, as our mission president said he may ask us to serve in the office for part of our mission.  We were joined by 3 other couples.  The Birch’s are from Idaho Falls and going to Calgary.  They were the youngest senior missionaries there.  They are in their early 50’s and taking a year sabbatical from his Optometrist practice to serve.  The Keele’s are going to Ghana.  The Shelton’s are going to Bakersfield.

Our visas didn’t come the second week, so we got a temporary assignment to go to San Diego until they come.  I know, it sounds like a really rough assignment.  The shortest time we hope for is two weeks, but it could be as long as eight weeks.  We drove to Barstow on Friday the 14th and came the rest of the way on Saturday.  We have a one bedroom apartment about a mile from Balboa Park.  We spent the rest of Saturday moving in, cleaning, and buying what was missing.  We are assigned to the San Diego 4th ward (pictured at right) and attended there yesterday.  It was a very friendly ward with about 150 attending.  The bishop is Don Martin, who graduated from Burley HS a year after Dave.  The stake has a special fireside Sunday night featuring Alex Boye.  He told of his conversion and his faith in Christ.  He has a very different teaching style, but it was very good to hear his message.