Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter #75

Dear Family, 

I am calm this Monday morning, though I haven't decided if it is the calm before the storm or after. This past week we had 45 baptisms and 52 confirmations in the mission, a number extremely high for the second week of a transfer during the holidays, with half of the zone leaders new to the job. Needless to say we were ecstatic and today fully intend to take advantage of our first p-day in twenty days. I'm thinking Kraft macaroni and cheese and hot chocolate as it's kind of rainy and perfect for that but we'll see. : )

We didn't travel this week after Monday but spent Tuesday mostly in the office preparing training and updating numbers which is probably what we'll do tomorrow as well. 

Then that night we had a wonderful dinner and family night with the President. Lots of food, great drinks, lots of laughs and a few Scooby Doo impressions, by whom I shall not insinuate. : ) We spent the night in the secretaries' house and then Christmas morning struggled to find a bus to bring us home! The city was absolutely deserted in the morning, like from I am Legend. 

It was wonderful to talk with you. I loved every bit. And it was all that I needed for Christmas : ) 

We baptized a young man this week, the same I had commented on Christmas. He is fantastic and has really changed his life to enter in to the gospel. He stopped us in the middle of our first lesson on Christmas and said, "I heard a lot about a mission in the Church, how can I serve a mission because I really want to?" Wooo hooo! I obliged to explain : )

We also brought a family of Haitians to church and they loved it. And everyone in church loved them which is sometimes harder. . . but they're progressing well, with a sincerity of purpose I have rarely seen in the mission. As they speak mainly French it has been quite the new experience but very edifying. They came so well dressed to church that I was speechless : )

This week we will enter into a new year and begin several "restructurings" of the mission and prepare lots of things for the upcoming leaders counsel moved to next week. Maybe we'll travel a little too to help other zones! 
(Last letter's football activity and baptism)

I have, it appears, little to share today, but I will share that I have no reason to be sad, or frustrated or worried. It is the peace the gospel brings, as the song says. Yesterday we were caught in a rainstorm on our way to a lesson and ENJOYED it. We then invited our teachees to come out into the rain and join us awhile and they did : ) No worries, lots of work, all optimism. Yesterday we also had the most productive meeting with the stake president here in Londrina and his counselors, and it was equally refreshing. Here was someone willing to do what we ought to, and how fortifying it was to finally not be alone in this cause.

Halfway through our meeting we received word of the passing of Elder Thomas. He was my beloved zone leader in Bauru, a fiery, testifying example of boldly declaring to all that the Church of Christ had been restored. He knew it was true, and worked so tirelessly so that all could know as well. In his mind, it was inconceivable that either member or especially missionary could for one minute forget this most important duty. He practiced what he preached. I loved him as a leader, and have often referred back to him as a personal example of diligence and focus. Surely the Lord, in this accelerated phase of the work, needed him to captain the heavenly hosts in the same manner. Send my love and condolences to his family. He will be deeply and sincerely missed.

I know this work is true and perfect. That we may each carry it forth this week in our own sphere. I love you and pray for you. Surely I feel your prayers for me.



Happy New Year!

p.s. Hunter, what are your plans for housing at BYU?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

We hope you had another great week, working with the missionaries doing the work you love. I was glad your package arrived just in time! Know it was full of love, hopefully lots of sweet surprises, and maybe a few much needed items. I hope you don't feel like your phone call was disappointing - to your or us...Fear not! Having so many people of so many ages and interests can make the whole experience frustrating, if you let it, but seeing your face, knowing how much you truly love your work, and how your testimony has grown and your capabilities strengthened, as well as your love for the people of Brazil, is all I need to know. This we glean from your weekly letters. Hearing your voice and seeing your face is just a bonus. I could just sit there and not say a word, and be happy. I did want you to talk to your grandparents, whom you love dearly, and their love of you is evident as well. I'm grateful we tried, even if we had a few hiccups. We might try Google hangout next time...I've heard good things from other missionary moms about its quality.

We loved being able to look through all of Sis. Genaro's pictures she posted, and have found a few pictures of you worthy to share!

We're still not sure who your companion is, would this be him?

This is a cute card of your President and wife!

These pictures are from the dinner in your President's apartment.
Yummy food!

Sister Genaro did a really nice job giving you missionaries lots of Christmas goodies.

How fun for you to be able to go to both zone conferences!

I'm sure you've heard about the passing of Elder Thomas. Did you know him very well? Sister Genaro posted the newspaper article that talked about the car accident yesterday afternoon in Idaho involving his Jetta and the semi tractor and trailer. Are you doing something together as a mission? Would you like me to send along any of your thoughts to his family? _______

Guilherme sent me a friend request. He said you knew the person who did his interview, but that you were "a boy very blessed by God...It is a pleasure to meet his family. Know he is well taken care of here in Brazil." He said to tell you he's the boy who read "The Book of Mormon" in 4 days, in "Ourinhos."

Vitor asked me to send him an English copy of the Book of Mormon, as he will be teaching English and Spanish classes in January at the church. I got on the church's website, and ordered him one, free of charge!

Of interesting news this week, China's top legislative committee formally approved a loosening of the country's hugely controversial one-child policy on Saturday and abolished "re-education through labour" camps. Surely there must be some quiet celebrating in that country!

Colorado and Washington state are launching the world's first legal recreational marijuana markets in 2014. Though pot has been sold for three decades at coffee shops in the Netherlands, the two states are the first to regulate and allow a full industry.

News from your cousins? Elder Hutchins said, "God loves us and wants us to be happy, it is his work and his glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, when we pray he is going to respond because he is our Father. As a favorite scripture says, "I am persuaded, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Sister Hutchins said, "Last Monday, I convinced a guy on the street to go to FHE with us and then I took his cigarettes and threw them in the trash. And then I took the trash and hid it. And made him sit through the whole Christmas Devotional. And he's called like every other day this week..." She's so funny! But she does more than make me laugh. She also said, "Do we focus enough on temples in our lives? In our callings? I will testify to you that as a missionary, it's really not about the baptisms. It's about the temples. We don't want people to stand in the doorway of the celestial kingdom, but to bask in the fullness of its glory, to obtain eternal life, and to bring their families along with them. The temple brings so many blessings if we are faithful to our covenants."

On Christmas Eve Larry and Sandy came over for dinner. That was a first! It should be our new 24th tradition. It was fun to share our yuletide log sandwiches with others! Your Dad did not make a crazy sandwich this year...I think he just had roastbeef, cranberry, and jalapenos. Yum! We added cheesecake to our tradition list for the 24th, and had Breyer blow out a candle to celebrate the birth of the Savior.

They are such great neighbors! Since Larry bought a boat this year, he thought it would be fun to add a few fishermen as well. He bought poles, even a two foot pink one, and had everyone casting in the house!

Your father was feeling a little nostalgic this year, and wanted to share a few homey pictures for you since you weren't here. It was nice to have fresh snow on the ground this year, and a fire in the fireplace. We enjoyed your train, just a bit, this year. Breyer was very kind, and only hid the mini Santa three times!

Although we spoke with you on Christmas day, we didn't give you much detail about that day. While stoking the fire, and adding a few cardboard pieces to the fire, the front of the fireplace unhooked and fell, causing the cardboard to fall back out of the fireplace, while blazing extremely. The stockings quickly caught on fire - we lost Cooper and Porter's - but nothing more. Your brothers acted quickly. Cooper and Sawyer got water, and Miller decided he and Breyer needed to wait outside. When everything cooled off, Dad re-hooked the fireplace back on tightly, and Hunter will probably always use less cardboard. It could have been so much worse, and we're grateful we lost just a little fleece.

The melted stocking, with a little smoke in the background.

More news? Breyer decided to help Dad this week by cleaning his ipad, and during a brief moment of alone-ness, found the ipad upstairs, carried it downstairs, and sprayed liquid bleach and spread soft soap all over both sides. Needless to say it is not working, and is throwing a few error codes. Dad handled the incident well...and hopes he can get help to restore his files.

Miller throws a wicked Frisbee, has just learned to blow little bubble gum bubbles, and loves to make rubber band bracelets. He only wanted darts for his Nerf guns, and a helicopter remote control to keep up with the brothers.

Sawyer just wanted a saw for Christmas, and was pleasantly surprised when Grampy threw in a few extra tools for his toolbox. Although cold, he spent a portion of the day in the garage testing out his new equipment.

Cooper needed a new coat, which isn't the most exciting present to open, but he handled it with grace. He loved his new watch, and BIG bag of books!

Porter's present did not arrive in time. FedEx overbooked and overextended their services, and actually were newspaper headlines as many others across the continent were as disappointed Christmas morning. I'd love to tell you what he received, but then you would know what is waiting for you upon your return!

Hunter's new Panama golf hat made him happy, even better made him look good!

Your grandparents had a Christmas eve gathering, and the Ortons stopped by to see Ben...I just loved their picture!

As we mentioned in last week's letter and in Skype, we were privileged to be able to spend vacation week in Texas visiting Aunt Janel and her family. Evan came home from West Point, and joined us there as well. We left the day after Christmas and are currently here in much warmer Tyler, enjoying her hospitality, her warmer weather, and the love of family. The fifteen hour drive that quickly becomes almost seventeen is LONG! My body is getting too old! It's hard to unbend after sitting for four hours in one position! I really kinked a muscle/sciatica nerve in my back/left hip, just bending over to pick up trash in the car when we stopped, and have been three days recuperating. Uncle Brad has helped me with medicine, heating pads, and future stretches. I was also VERY car sick! Probably shouldn't ride in the back of the van any more, nor travel with an empty stomach. Hours and hours of being nauseated, with the responsibility of younger children in the car, is NOT fun! But.

We arrived safely and have been busy! It's fun watching the interaction of the kids. Cooper appears to be leaving behind the younger crowd, and trying to break into the upper echelons of Evan, Hunter, Porter and Luke. They've been mostly kind and accommodating. Every once in a while he'll walk away and help the girls with their projects, or join his younger brothers on the trampoline. Breyer calls all her cousins her friends, and will ask Luke to help her make rubber band bracelets, or Elizabeth to take her to the tramp, or Moriah to take care of the cats, or Anna to visit the dogs. Her requests are varied and frequent, but your cousins have all handled their new responsibilities with grace and love. Thus, your brothers have been enjoying their vacation free from Breyer!

There have been lots of games, one new one called Mercenary, that occupy the upstairs game room. The kids went fishing at the same lake you visited two years ago, but nothing was caught. It was still fun trying!

Today we attended their church. Luke had Hunter convinced that the pastor would be using a new rocket launcher to shoot out tee shirts during the service. Hunter was psyched with anticipation. Luke also told Porter it was free food day, and the church would be serving pig-in-a-blankets and doughnuts after the service. He got the boys good. They were sad to leave ;-) Then we ran over to our church, except the time slots have changed, and the young single adult ward was meeting. Too funny to walk into a mostly empty chapel, and be the only ones married and with six children! Lots of eyes looking our way! There would have been many more except I'm sure a lot of students were home for the holidays.

After church Uncle Brad took us on our annual trek to the bamboo forest. I love that hike! More pictures are forthcoming, but just know next time you're in Tyler, be prepared for major growth! The bamboo is everywhere! Several times there was no path to follow. I love traditions!

Probably one of the reasons I was car sick was because I was reading the conference edition of the Ensign. But it was worth it! I loved reading again Elder Soares' words regarding meekness. As you are in a leadership position in your mission, this is an important quality to work on so there can be no misunderstanding between you and those whom you have stewardship over. He said, "We are blessed to be born with the seed of meekness in our hearts. We need to understand that it is not possible to grow and develop that seed in the twinkling of an eye but rather through the process of time. Christ asks us to “take up [our] cross daily,” meaning that it must be a constant focus and desire. I believe, brothers and sisters, that only those who are humble are able to acknowledge and understand the Lord’s answers to their prayers. The humble are teachable, recognizing how dependent they are on God and desiring to be subject to His will. The humble are meek and have the ability to influence others to be the same. God’s promise to the humble is that He will lead them by the hand. I truly believe that we will avoid detours and sadness in our lives as long as we walk hand in hand with the Lord."

Well, this might be the end. We so love hearing about your week, and eagerly await each and every Monday morning. That our emails help you as much is our prayer. We love you dearly!

Mom and Dad