Monday, March 31, 2014

Letter #88

Dearest Family,

This update is coming to you late (seven hours late!) from foz do IGUAÇU! I'm in Reggetone town, after eight hours in the car with President and Sister Genaro. They are resting nicely in the hotel and I get to sit and write to you for a bit. : ) It's nice!

I'm happy today. It was good to drive, sometimes in the rain, sometimes in the sun. It seems like the passing showers carried a bit of my weekend stress away. This weekend was a growing one for the mission. That's what I say when things go differently than planned. We have new parts in our missionary machine, good parts, and now they just need to be oiled up and set to work!

Tomorrow we'll have conference here in foz with the zones of foz and Cascavel, then we'll head back. Thankfully this last week between conferences in Londrina and Maringá we had plenty of time to get to work in our own area as well. There's nothing more satisfying than hitting the streets, running to talk with everyone in your way.

Conference in Londrina was very exciting, very "animated," as they say, even though it was smaller. Not much to add apart from that, though. Maringá went as well though due to arrangements with the restaurant we had to cut our training of almost two hours down to less than one hour. We got it done in time and I got to lunch with my dear CTM companion. He always answers the phone at night so excited it makes me smile and I get excited again. He's doing a good job with his zone in Morangueira, baptizing in his own area and also helping to baptize in other areas that require quit a bit of travel on his part. I'll get to see him again next week in leadership meeting.

I love attending conference more than once because each has a different flavor of revelation. I learn something different in each one and we leave something different behind as well. Lunch is different and the cakes too : )

This week, being general conference, I'm very excited not only to go but to able to bring lots of new investigators and also new converts to hear a prophet's voice. What a special place for us to receive personal direction for our lives in this sometimes weary world. Alright, so I don't have much news and I'm kind of just filling in here, but I did have one story to share.

This weekend, being that we traveled all week, we were kind of short on people to bring to church and the few that had appeared really, really firm on going, ended up disappearing on Saturday or being no shows. Saturday night, when everything fell through, we looked at one another and thought, "Well, we could go and give a "strengthening" visit to some eternal investigators or to some other recent converts." But we decided it would be better to just pull out all the leftover references that we had and see how many we could contact in the last 45 minutes of the night. Generally, the "good" references were already contacted so these were like the orange peel references. The leftover mashed potatoes that nobody really wants (except me). We went after those references with a passion! Just going, going going, in the last half hour with people who had never seen us before. We found six people who accepted to go to church the next day and you know what? They did go! and the family we found right before going home will most likely be baptized this weekend. They're already making plans to bring everyone to seminary!

I already learned the importance of diligence in the mission, of working until you can't and then working more, but the Lord is so loving that at times, like when we feel especially burdened down or when we really can't do it by ourselves (I had given my week to serve others and had little leftover for my own area) He reaches down and puts what Elder Bednar would call a tender mercy in our path. He magnifies our own efforts, because it's His work. That was a sweet experience for me this week.

To respond to some questions, we eat out quite a bit. Today in a chic (fancy) truck stop buffet. Maybe those words can't honestly go together in the U.S. but here they can because there are no McD's or other stops so the rest stops are generally quality. I ate tutu, which is beans mixed with farinha or a flavored flour made from a potato-like vegetable called mandioca. It was good. Maybe mom can make some tutú for you all this week to try. Also dad would like to get his hands on hot sauce made from the peppers malagueta and camburí. The malagueta is hot, though probably not as hot as an habanero. Good stuff!

I love you and hope you all have a good week. Get better! I have to have two parents ready to make contacts in the street with me when I get back : )

Love you,


p.s. Did you get my changed itinerary? I told them to change my airport to WV instead of you having to drive to Columbus and back : )

Sunday, March 30, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

We loved last week's newsy letter. We've been wondering about the bus driver, and how he's coming along? Dad wants to know what the best food was that you ate this week. Also, now that you're traveling so much, and not around members as much to eat at their homes, are you buying out more? or eating with missionaries?

Your cousin's housing options fell through...he said all he wants is to room with you...hopefully we can make it all happen! He also said, "I haven't felt good about any of the options we've looked at. Probably because this needs to happen!"

There have been a few interesting stories in the news...not sure if they'd make the news in Brazil and if so whether or not you'd hear. First, a Kuala Lumpur-Beijing airliner with 239 people on board disappeared on 8 March. Malaysia says it must be assumed plane crashed in southern Indian Ocean with no survivors. Ten plans have been scouring the southern Indian Ocean until Monday for debris but have now left. Every once in a while there will be a report of debris, but they haven't located the plane. Someone on the plane shut off the transponder that could locate it, and it disappeared off radar.

Also, there was a massive mudslide in Washington State. The news reported this week that Washington state officials say crews have recovered two bodies and believe they have located another eight in the debris of a massive landslide, bringing the likely death toll to 24 amid diminishing hope of finding survivors as the search enters its fifth day (this was last week). The mudslide, which struck the town of Oso a week ago Saturday morning, also resulted in as many as 176 missing person reports, but officials said they could not tell how many were duplicates. Authorities are keeping the official toll at 16 until other bodies are recovered.

I also saw that your fellow Hippo-ite was recognized in a "hometown hero reception in Hutto. The New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley was honored last Saturday evening. Kerley was a football, baseball and track star in high school, then carried that talent onto the football field while playing for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs and then landed a spot on the New York Jets after being drafted in 2011. Why is this important? The first year the Hutto "Athlete of the Year" award was instituted, and Kerley was in high school, YOU were the one chosen for the award! Remember this while you're making your post-mission plans, and think about whether or not baseball fits into the plans. Having a BYU swim team member might just be the thing you need ;-)

We're still without a second car. But we've done just fine managing all the schedules. We actually had no snow days this week ;-) but had two snow storms that quickly dissipated. Your father spent three days at the track coaching jumpers and vaulters. As an example of his coaching awesomeness, the middle school girls' coach asked him to help her daughter in the high jump. After watching her for a few jumps, he told her what to change, and she immediately improved three inches. The mom was astonished. Are you? ;-) Hunter DID NOT get to golf this week, but did take Miller and Sawyer down to the driving range.

Your grandmother gave Sawyer your father's old stamp collecting book for his birthday. We had a good laugh over that. We were trying to figure out how she got a hold of something from your father's childhood and finally figured out that we had given it to Zach, and he must have left it behind. But Sawyer LOVES it and has spent a lot of time going through the stamps and putting them in the book. But, in the collection of stamps we found a treasure. It is a "Card of Thanks" newspaper clipping that said, "To our friends and neighbors, also to all the groups and organizations who have been so kind and helpful during our hour of sorrow, we wish to express our gratitude and thanks for their many acts of kindness and sympathy." Richard I. Glass, Priscilla M. Glass, Patricia A. Lamperti. What a find! It's like a blast from the past. Can't say I've ever read "cards of thanks" in today's newspapers.

The Sunday night dinner crew! With a visitor in Utah on spring break ;-)

Friday night we dropped Sawyer off early for his baseball practice so we could go to two baptisms at the church. There was such a sweet spirit there, just a lot of joy that was felt because of their decision. And then life changed for me just a bit ;-) The boys play basketball on Friday nights, bringing five boys this week, and having a total of 25 - that's a LOT of players! But while waiting for your father to leave, I was shooting with Cooper, and landed wrong on the rebound. I heard the bone break - very loud! and knew my foot was broken. It was, and is. It's the outside bone of my left foot, the fifth metatarsal. It's a bad diagonal break and I will find out more tomorrow, as to whether or not it needs to be pinned :-(

The rest of the night was a blur, mostly pain. I went up the stairs, and didn't come downstairs until this morning. I tried really hard to stay in bed all day yesterday, as I knew that was the best thing I could do. The difference between the morning and night was big, so I'm glad I did. I worked on mending, did some reading, and folded clothes when they were brought to me. Porter and Dad went to the district science fair, and the first track meet, and Miller and Sawyer had baseball practice, so Hunter and Cooper were left home to help me. Eventually, Dad came home after shopping for me and got your brothers all to help with the two weeks' worth of food to unload. It had poured all day, and nobody wanted to help so he called for the first ever assembly line. He stood in the rain and chucked everything to Porter, and so on down the line, to the runners Miller and Sawyer who would get it to the kitchen. It was fun listening to them and their comments. "Here comes the milk! - shake!" "Here comes the pizza! - Delivery!" Good times with the family!

I ended the night watching the General Women Broadcast on the computer. It was a great meeting, and the music was fabulous!

I was so grateful we had the later church schedule this morning. It was a struggle to get myself ready. I'm adept on crutches, just not liking to stand on one foot for so long. I did play the organ, I just didn't come off the stand. I was called as the Primary pianist last week, so I played there as well.

Today in church your father taught the third hour combined meeting on Family History. He put together a "prezi" and even pulled out his laser pointer, such a professional! Everyone loved him. He made you feel like you needed to do everything he talked about. He spoke on all the new things the church unveiled at the last roots tech conference. President Lim has three genealogy fairs scheduled this year, and told the director to sign him up as a presenter.

Porter has been taking driver education classes, and finished this week. Look out! Each of you are so different, and your approaches to driving have been as diverse. His might be on the more extreme end of diverse ;-) Or maybe my sense of equilibrium is getting worse. Today after church he went from zero to fifty, in reverse. I did scream in surprise! Then he tried a u turn in the parking lot going about thirty instead of five miles per hour. I think I screamed again. Hopefully he'll be one of the first to go on his driving lessons!

Your grandmother told me of someone I knew in high school whose son had recently passed away after being diagnosed with Lou Gherig's disease. It pained me to think of their loss, and the suffering that they all had endured this past year. She thought a card from me would be appreciated. I'm telling you this just to share a thought I had while writing the card. I was reading "Why Did This Happen to Me?" by Ray Pritchard. He says: “Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on. Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles.” I loved the quote on the sign. President Monson said, “Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments." Maybe these thoughts will help those with whom you're teaching that are going through their own difficulties.

We love you! We pray for you daily...all of us!


Mom and Dad

Friday, March 28, 2014

Student of the Week!

 I love kindergartners!
Their perspective of life is spot on ;-)

 Miller's class members each got to write about him...thank goodness the teacher helped decipher their words!

 We counted all eighteen pages of their notes, full of adjectives, and came up with a list:

Miller had 7 "smart", 11 "nice," 8 "funny," and 5 "best friend" and "plays with me."

But my favorites were the..."handsome,"

...and the "want to marry!"

Those girls have impeccable taste!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Princess Powers

"Mom, I'll wave my wand. It will help you work."

"Miller, you promise you'll be kind and nice, like a ninja."

"Sawyer, be nice, like a king."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Letter #87

Dear Family,

I'm coming off my first Brasilian cold which means that I'm officially adapted to the country as it probably didn't drop below 60 degrees here. : ) President and Sister Genaro also caught it. We spent Monday preparing for the week and Tuesday receiving the new missionaries who arrived for the first time in the afternoon instead of the morning. We spent all morning training the trainers with president and the afternoon with the newbies. They were a good group and a lot more excited for not having woken up at 3 in the morning to fly here. Lunch was excellent as usual, but especially the Nutella strawberry ice cream. As the arriving Elder Lawrence said, "Woa." We will call all the newly arrived missionaries this week to see how they are doing.

We spent Wednesday and Thursday preparing for our conference in Marilia Friday. We slept in Londrina with the secretaries. As we arrived before them we decided to try and infiltrate the apartment complex alone. We got in! Name tags open the doors and people are already accustomed with the elders entering.

Friday we braved cold and rain to get to Marilia. Our focus was definitely on helping the many young missionaries and leaders re-learn what we consider the basics of the work but which many do not know, i.e. how to find, teach, baptize, confirm and retain. We changed the way conferences worked with divisions into groups of leaders/sisters/missionaries in the morning and afterwards training with lots of focus on practices (fun, innovative practices : ) Two more conferences this week and one next week, on the road again!

Saturday we just worked, and it was nice. Contacts keep the missionary happy. One was lots of fun with the bus driver who had watched "The Other Side of Heaven" the night before after finding it on you tube. He lives two blocks from a chapel!

Sunday we brought a couple of families to church and had some confirmations, one of a young woman who is going strong, confronting strong opposition from her family. Now she has a testimony and no one will take that from her. The other young women puts her mission papers in this week!

Sunday we also gave an hour training to all the leaders of the stake on hastening the work. It was well received and (if i say so myself, well delivered) and our relationship with the members is on the rise. Perhaps this is highlighted best by the reference we received from my friend the shoemaker Sunday night, one of his neighbors. The work continues to move upward and onward in Brasil.

Maybe this is a little short today but so many of the things in the mission are spiritual and perhaps impossible to put into words. This is the very work of God and His hand is continually manifest in what we do when we do it with all our heart, might, mind and strength. Continue the good work back at home! I love you, pray for you and am so grateful that YOU are my family: )



Sunday, March 23, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner

News from your friends? In regards to your picture and link to your letter I posted last week on your Facebook page, your favorite quiz bowl advisor posted, "You are doing great work. I am so proud of you.

You also received some pictures of you and your former companion, Beaudoin. They said, "Hi Elder, Aki and Rita. Some PR photos." I told them you were still on your mission, and that you would be in touch.

News from the church includes the removal of missionaries from Venezuela. "Due to the unrest the Church is transferring 152 missionaries who are not Venezuelan citizens to other missions in South America. Venezuelan missionaries are in frequent communication with their mission presidents, and every effort is being made to keep them safe.” Will your mission be receiving any such missionaries?

News at home? Cooper made the county band a few weeks ago, and had his concert this week. He did not mind being the 14th chair out of 15 clarinets ;-) Because of last Monday's snow day (I've lost track!), he spent the next day practicing and had the concert that night. He came home and moaned about how sore his mouth was. "I don't like practicing my instrument for eleven hours!" I was unable to attend his concert as it was my cub scout night. We had Professor Able back to work on our naturalist requirements. Nothing like a poisonous snake and spider discussion to get the boys all wound up! They love that stuff!

Dad had spring break this week, and worked at work, and helped me with spring cleaning at home. We tackled the washroom and kitchen drawers. Porter was tackling driver's education class after school. He did NOT want to learn how to drive, but now that he's in class, he is excited to learn. Dad took him to Ironton to take the permit test, so he's officially able to drive. It will not be easy for Hunter to relinquish the wheel. Even when I pick him up from school, I move to the back of the van. He does enjoy being in control.

We are in the middle of March Madness, the family tournament you tend to dominate when you're in the country! The pool was much smaller than in years past, but the competition has been stiff. Miller held the lead, which tells you about the many unexpected upsets that have filled this years brackets. The biggest? Mercer over Duke (14 vs 3), Dayton over Syracuse (11 vs 3), Harvard over Cincinnati (12 vs 5)...I'm sure this will be one tradition which you'll look forward in participating again. Porter is currently in the lead, and hopes to remain thus. I love listening to all the boys gathered around the t.v. oohing and aahing over basketball game impossibilities.

Baseball season is upon us, and Miller and Sawyer were drafted to teams this week. The yearly tradition of choosing baseball practice uniforms began this week. I give them four choices, as that's enough to get through their practices. Sawyer chose a Dodger uniform for Dad, last year's all star uniform, and Muck Dogs, your old Texas uniform. Miller chose Angels, Hutto all star, Muck Dogs, and last year's uniform. Sawyer and Miller have been playing catch everyday the weather cooperates, and biting at the bit, so to speak, to start practicing. Baseball is both their favorite sport. Cooper and Porter will play when the high school is finished. Porter chose to do track this year, to concentrate on pole vaulting and hurdles and your father is helping to coach. I think I mentioned that last week. But he's faithfully gone to help the jumpers and vaulters, and Porter has enjoyed him helping.

We're still down to one car, so Hunter's golfing trips have been few. This week he finally got to go on Friday, only because Dad and Porter agreed to walk home from track practice, and Larry was able to help get Sawyer to and from baseball practice. I thought that was very generous of them all. Dad said Porter talked the entire trip. That's a good thing for them both.

Saturday was the annual blue and gold banquet. Miller's officially a Tiger and Sawyer a Webelos. Lots of belt loops and activity pins earned by all, chicken, chips and cake eaten by all, and skits and songs enjoyed by all.

This Saturday was also the tri state Mormon prom. Hunter even cleaned the car!

Hunter had one boy and two girls go - both of which did a beautiful job wearing modest outfits. Do I have pictures? No! Both your brothers promised to take some, and neither did, but I'll find some somewhere! I'm on it! Hunter's date thoroughly enjoyed herself, and danced with everybody. As well as Hunter. His tux with tails was a hit, courtesy Jon Bach ;-)

The other boy and his date were more content to watch. They left early, changed their clothes, and went bowling. Porter was funny. He was the third wheel in the car, and the fifth wheel while bowling. Maybe he'll listen and get a date next time! But they all had fun.

Porter had been asked to give a two minute talk on "What makes a young woman beautiful?" for this dance. We all thought this was a ridiculous idea, as who wants to go to a dance and listen to a talk? So to compromise, we told him to make it funny, and keep it short. He did a great job, and wrote, "While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a smile can light up a whole room. Kindness is also important. Esther was called beautiful for her kindness. Service is important as well. Service in the family, school and community. Ruth served Naomi for months with no thought to herself. But the most important thing is that young women are true to themselves. They follow high standards and morals and stay true to what they believe. Service and kindness help add to beauty but true beauty is when they see they are beautiful." Then, when Porter would ask a girl to dance, they would make sure he was aware of their smile!

Speaking of talks, Miller gave his first talk that he could read. We wrote out a very simple talk on reverence, and he was able to stand and read it all. What an achievement! "When we go to church we need to be quiet. Being quiet is important so we can think of Jesus. If we do not remember Jesus then we will not be able to learn. It is hard to be quiet but I feel better if I am."

Dad has thoroughly enjoyed his weekly luncheons with the elders. One such elder was called as the assistant to the president, and called your father to let him know he'd be leaving, and of how much he had enjoyed their weekly luncheons. It was very sweet. Did you call people in your area before you left? Another elder wrote us a note and mailed it to us, expressing how much he enjoyed our family, how grateful he was for our efforts to feed him, and how thankful he was for the support we provided him with our missionary efforts. These missionaries do it right. Your brothers have had some great examples here, including yours, that will shape their efforts in becoming such exemplary missionaries.

Today was one of those days in church where you run every minute. Play prelude, play the opening song, play the sacrament song, sit with children, play the intermediate hymn song, play the closing song, play postlude, clean up pew, play opening exercises in Primary, help Miller with talk, play for singing time, go to Sunday School, hand out papers for lesson, take Breyer to the bathroom, teach Relief Society was crazy! Never mind getting everyone ready for church, and reminding the boys to bring the sacrament bread...

President Uchtdorf's talk in general conference spoke of this. He said, "We have Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach - offering our time freely! We watch ten hours of general conference, go to church every Sunday for three hours, do family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintain Church buildings, and adhere to the Lord’s law of health, pay a monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.” Why would anyone want to join such a church? Those who join this Church love the Savior Jesus Christ and they wish to follow Him. They rejoice in the knowledge that God speaks to mankind again. When they receive sacred priesthood ordinances and make covenants with God, they can feel His power in their lives. When they enter the holy temple, they sense they are in His presence. When they read the holy scriptures and live the teachings of His prophets, they grow closer to the Savior they love so much. Believing in God is commendable, but most people want to do more than listen to inspirational sermons. They want to put their faith into practice. They want to roll up their sleeves and become engaged in this great cause. And that is what happens when they join with us—they have many opportunities to transform their talents, compassion, and time into good works. Because we have no paid local clergy in our worldwide congregations, our members perform the work of ministry themselves." I feel so much better ;-)

We love you dearly. We know you work hard. We also know you are well aware of the blessings you receive because of your service and sacrifice. We certainly know of the blessings you bring to our lives. Have a most excellent week!


Mom and Dad

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Friends Forever

Dear Tanner, 

Found these pictures on Facebook - love Sis. Genaro for taking pictures and posting them! I'm sure welcoming the newest batch of missionaries into your mission is one of the highlights of the six week cycle!

I noticed your arm around the elder in the airport picture...

And saw you together in this picture...

(Are you always this happy around food? ;-)

I just wanted to let you know I had been in touch with his mother. She had some questions online, and I was prepared to ask them in this week's letter. But seeing as he seems to be front and center in your life arrival day, let me share a sweet tender mercy. His mother is best friends with someone I grew up with in the Worcester Ward. I found out by sending her a Facebook friend request, and saw we had one friend in common! And this mutual friend is the mother of the missionary who died in a bicycle-car accident in California, his first month there. They talk together everyday. I'm so glad my friend who has such difficult trials has such a good friend. Make her son one of yours. His best friend is gone.



P.S. The Elder's mother wrote back and said, "I figured your son had to be an assistant to the president if he was picking up my son. He is very handsome. I will definitely send the message to Maggie. She is an amazing person. I was with her through her husband's death and was there at her house when she got the call her son had passed away. I can tell you losing him was more than I thought she could handle. There are days we sit and both cry still. You'll have to let your son know the connection between the boys. My son actually brought a Book of Mormon with him that has his friend's picture in it. He was like a son and brother to our family. He spent so much time in our home. My son still sometimes struggles with the death of his friend but is doing amazingly well. I am so excited that our sons will get to know each other. I have relaxed a lot since I talked to you and can see how wonderful the mission president and his wife are."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PBS Inspired "Tree of Cubes" from Peg & Cat

I understand that STEM is all the rage, and that math and science are being emphasized more than ever...but I have enjoyed the things they're picking up on the new PBS show, Peg and Cat

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Singing A Song is Fun to Do!

A time-to-get-out-of-bed-now ukulele song to Porter ;-)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Letter #86

Dearest Family,

Transfers. . . The busiest time of the year. This time it's even more crazy with twenty leaving and only ten arriving. I'm here in the office. And I have lots of good news to tell : )

Monday we had a family night with our two investigators and their two relatives who we are teaching. They made 100 kabobs for us, on the BBQ fashioned out of a broken wheelbarrow and we dragged the couches outside for our lesson faith. They need the faith to overcome their doubts about marriage.

We made a trip to Presidente Prudente with President and Sister Genaro this week, similar to our trip to Marília last week. President grabbed us from the highway in the morning and we sped off to train the zone there. Simply a pleasure to drive and talk and discuss the mission or listen to President tell stories and give wisdom. I learned some new Brasilia slang. One of my favorites is "rei da cocada preta" or "king of the black coconut.")It comes from the days when street commerce, unpoliced by quality inspection, ruled the cities. In Rio sellers of sweet coconut covered in chocolate used gangs of youth to sell their products thus making them the "ringleaders" to use an equivalent or the reis da cocada preta.

In Prudente we got to see the new chapel being built there and do contacts in the street, and train the zone and district leaders. Riding home we took some new roads through the sugar cane, in the dark following the GPS, which frequently lost signal. We crisscrossed the Paraná Panema river a couple of times and must have passed ten cities that don't have missionaries yet. Lots of work to be done here still. Also a highlight were our practices in our training where we had the privilege of using Sister Genaro as our actress to help the elders work on how an interview should be conducted. She did an excellent job, nailing a mission Oscar for the supporting role.

Exciting news this week: Our two converts went to the temple in Curitiba and had a blast. He finished reading the Doctrine and Covenants, commenting that he loved section 138 speaking on the redemption of the dead. He was profoundly touched by the work he was able to perform, as he was baptized for 25 people. Feeling prompted he also returned with twenty new hymnals for the church saying that he had bought them because many were torn and old. They took lots of pictures which I will try to get for next week.

Saturday we had a special (authorized) visit from Elder S. Pereira's old stake president. he took us out to lunch at a very nice churrasco. They only served two cuts of meat: filet mignon and rib-eye, rhodízio. They are a very nice couple who own a chain of English schools.

 Sunday we had success in bringing five more investigators to church but even better of a surprise was that our investigator called us on Tuesday and announced she was going to be baptized! True to her word she arrived on her own Sunday and passed the interview with flying colors. She was baptized soon after the meetings.

During the meetings. . . I gave my first talk here in Riviera. The first speaker was a soon to depart elder who in generosity cut his talk to five minutes and left me with thirty-five! I think it was my longest talk yet! It went well, the Spirit helped me a lot and I was able to pass the message I so wanted in a manner that I hope all left edified. We finished Sunday teaching the family of our newly baptized investigator AND her neighbors who she invited to hear our message. Both received us well and will go to church. We also we taught the friends of two reactivated members who again prepared a banquet for us of avocado juice, passion fruit juice (all from the orchard behind the house), and various sweets. Their friends will also go to church and had in fact called us to hear our message, interested in the way that their friends had changed with their return to church. One began her mission papers, and the other already wants to serve. A recently reactivated young man began his as well. Here we serve a mission to send others out to do the same.

Well, I think that's about it! This week we start conferences and I have to give a multi-stake training on uniting members and missionaries in the work. Working on both of those.

Arrived is the time spoken of by King Benjamin when all will have knowledge of their Savior. We are His messengers and I feel a profound joy in sharing His message of repentance and peace.

I love you all!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

What a week! Did you have one of those? We have been scurrying, hiding, jumping, screaming, giggling, and doing the rodent 'riggle. It's that time of the year, and the weird weather has made them somewhat of a plague. So yesterday, in beautiful early spring weather, we had to empty the washroom / food room of all its contents and repair, relocate, refurbish, and refresh. Took most of the day. On the plus side, we have a really clean room just in time for spring cleaning! Having Ranger not around to help us has only worsened the problem.

And more exciting news from home? The black VW Jetta has died an untimely death. Probably back in December when the engine was overheating, and the mechanics took a long time to repair it, the engine block was cracked. The only way we'll know is if we agree to have a new oil pump put in, and we're still waiting for an estimate. Most likely, the loud engine knocks, rattles and shakes are from having no oil pressure, and therefore no oil. With only 140K miles, this feels like an early passing! Most times we have purchased our Toyotas with that many miles! Transportation issues have been minimal, especially if I don't need the car during the day, as your father has begun coaching the high school track team, and comes home from work in time to pick up the kids, and return to the school. He was given the long jump, pole vault, and high jump. The middle school coaches come sneaking over for assistance, and he's happy to help them as well. He's already got caps for the poles ordered, something that hasn't been done in a LONG time! He is happy to help since Porter's on the team.

Hunter's after-school-sport is golf. He was able to purchase a three month spring membership for $200 and goes a couple of times a week. It definitely is his therapy. He wrote an essay for a golf scholarship, that I'll share when he's finished. I learned a lot about him reading it, and why he loves golfing so much.

Cooper isn't interested in middle school golf or track, and has no baseball until summer, so I give him extra chores to help when his brothers are gone, and he plays basketball a couple of times a week, and runs the loop as well. Dad's trying to get him interested in kicking, to have him come out while he coaches track.

Some exciting new news from BYU for you: "President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dropped in this week at BYU's devotional que to announce the university will be getting a new president. Effective May 1, Kevin J Worthen, the former dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and current BYU advancement vice president, will take the helm Cecil O. Samuelson the President's successor. Worthen will be the 13th president of BYU. With tears in their eyes, President Samuelson and his wife, Sharon, received a standing ovation for their 11 years of service to BYU." Changes are afoot! How fun for you! (We'll celebrate by sharing this old selfie I found on my camera card ;-)

And exciting news coming from your Connecticut clan: "Six-foot-four center Hannah Hutchins finished with 21 points for the No. 4-seeded Ledyard girls Monday night (your grandparents got to go as well). Ledyard (22-3) will take on top-seeded and unbeaten Hartford Capital in the semifinals at a site and time to be announced Monday. Hutchins, headed to play for Division I Utah State next year, finished with three three-point plays, what Klinikowski said, "Seemed more like "20. It's insane." The box-outs, and the-ones. We can run high-lows together. Hutch I love having on the team. We could not win a lot of games without her."

And here in Dragon land there is exciting news as well! It must have been one of THOSE weeks! The Fairland girls basketball team made it to the final four in the state basketball tournament. School was cancelled on Friday so everyone could travel to Columbus for the game. They lost 67-60, but made Fairland history in the process. We invited Sawyer's friend that was baptized to spend the day with us, and celebrated some more Sawyer birthday by going to the LEGO movie...they're excited to show it to you when you return. I don't have any pictures, but I did catch Sawyer indexing today, working on 1960 birth records from the Philippines!

 Tonight Wiley is passing through, a mid-Atlantic snowstorm, which has already dumped five to seven inches of snow since church. Until now, the roads have remained clear. Just when they were starting too cool off, after yesterday's beautiful spring weather, the school called and put us on a two-hour delay. We're predicting no school. The weather won't warm up enough to clear the roads! The #15th day of school off due to inclement weather. (Even when we go back to school this week, I won't have to teach seminary, as the kids in Cabell are on spring break.) (Porter's picture of our womping willow tree in the backyard ;-)

We received your email confirmation for your flight in July. Of interest was this little ** note that said, "Vaccine against yellow fever is mandatory 10 days before the trip, with the validated International Certificate of Vaccination." Is this something you've known about as you help with missionaries departing, or is this requirement fairly new? Make sure you get that vaccine! We want you home!

I forgot to mention in last week's letter that Hunter has invited his friends from school to the Tri-Stake Mormon Prom night next week. I think two of his friends are going and they all three have dates. I also think Porter will be tagging along dateless. The only reason he's going is because they asked him to say a few words on what makes a young women beautiful. (He'd appreciate any suggestions you have, but is afraid your remarks will arrive to late ;-) Their dates, the girls, had to sign the modesty form, agreeing to the dress standards. One of the girl's sent Porter a funny note on Facebook, and said that she can't find anything to wear, and if she does, she'll look like this:

Very funny! I do feel for them. It's hard to find modern dresses any where! I wonder what these girls think agreeing to find a dress that's probably foreign from anything they've worn before! Good for them, I think! The gym has been closed all week and this upcoming week for decorating. It will be beautiful. But your brothers are disappointed they can't play basketball. Hunter was asked to speak in our Stake Conference next month, and plans on inviting the boys to listen, in addition to his old golf coach, and maybe our neighbors..

The week in a wrap-up? The usual. Cub scouts got to have Miss Geology come and talk rocks, hand out rocks, and help her heft rocks back to her car. She's great. Miller and Sawyer haven't gotten registered for baseball yet. I keep missing the sign-ups. And because of the girls and their final four showing the try outs were moved to today - Sunday! So we didn't go to those. And yet they were both drafted quickly, with the coaches calling to confirm our intentions for registering. They love your brothers! Practices begin this week. Hopefully the snow is gone! We fed the sister missionaries Thursday and yesterday, and Dad lunched with the elders on Friday. Hunter's going out with them tomorrow night. That's about all the news from the Ohio river valley that's worth printing! We love your letters, and pictures! We're excited to see if all your efforts paid off this week. (And a weekly wrap-up would not be complete without seeing your sister! In all her overstuffed glory, while eating, or while wearing her birthday dress - again ;-)

In seminary we've been studying Captain Moroni all week. What a champ. My girls told me they use this verses as a guide to their future husbands, which is fabulous: "And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed. Yea, he was a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ. If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." They've set the bar high! But I love Moroni for how he continuously helped his people be prepared, "Preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God." You are a wonderful example to us of how to be faithful. Keep up the great work. We love you! We're awaiting your news!


Mom and Dad

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quiz Bowl News

Ironton Tribune
Fairland pulls Quiz Bowl win

There were no shocking upsets, no monumental comebacks or any last second heroics. The Fairland High School quiz bowl team wouldn’t allow any of that. Fairland came into the annual Ironmaster Quiz Bowl Tournament as the favorite after winning the regular season championship. The Dragons would use that momentum to help carry them to the tournament title.

“It feels great to win,” senior Hunter Schenewark said. “Now we have to get ready for regionals where it gets a lot more competitive.”

The Dragons secured the championship with a 57-48 victory over St. Joseph Central High School. For the Flyers, the road to a runner up finish was an uphill, rocky one. In the second round they were sent to the losers’ bracket after being dealt a 47-27 loss at the hands of Fairland.

The Dragons will advance to the Ohio Academic Competition regional tournament with the win.

The regional competition will be Saturday, April 12 at a site still to be determined.

Fairland academic team wins tournament

Fairland High School's quiz bowl team won the 2014 Ironmaster Tournament quiz bowl among seven public school systems and Ironton St. Joseph High School last week at Ohio University-Southern.

Tim Hayes, the Fairland quiz bowl coach, also was recognized and presented with a plaque for being this season's outstanding coach. He has coached the team for eight years.

"The games test all aspects of education and knowledge," Hunter Schenewark said. He is planning to attend Brigham Young University. He was among eight students named as outstanding players for their team, with most point contributions a factor in determining their status as the most valuable player.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Serving through the Boy Scouts

One friend's eagle scout project was gathering items needed to make 72 hour kits for residents at a home for abused women. 

From, they define their "disaster kit" as "a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency." 

They recommend assembling your kit "well in advance of an emergency. 

You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. 

You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them."

I think it's important, especially in today's world, to consider becoming more prepared for those unexpected events that are even more likely to happen!

And helping others to be more prepared is even better!

(GREAT activity for Sawyer's first night at scouts!)