Monday, July 25, 2016

Last Sunday night we were in Topeka doing a Mission Presidents Devotional. Once a month Mitch and I plus the two assistants go to a different city and put on this meeting. The missionaries bring investigators and then newly baptized converts are asked to share their testimony and conversion story. This was our first devotional and what an amazing experience it turned out to be. It started with Mitch sharing his family's conversion story and talking about the Joseph Smith story and showing a few clips from the Joseph Smith movie.  6 new members had been asked to get up and bear their testimonies and what a treat it was to hear their stories! These people came from all walks of life. One was a college student from Africa, a high school student, a young woman who had been homeless for a while, a woman who had dated a member and found out about the church, a young man who had been in jail and didn't have much of a relationship with his family, and then the last one was a young man who made meth, used meth, sold meth and fathered a child at 13 years of age. Each had their own story to tell and yet each of them came to the same conclusion and that was to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They all spoke of the faith and peace that came with joining the church. The Spirit was strong in that meeting and I know there were some investigators who became even more interested in finding out what the church is all about. It was a real spiritual high for those of us who were in attendance! It is so amazing to see how the gospel changes lives!
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was spent with Mitch interviewing all the elders and sisters from the Wichita and Derby zones. This was pretty much an all day event that went from 10 in the morning till about 5 in the late afternoon. I know Mitch really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with each of these missionaries on a personal level and I must say, I am impressed with the energy he had to do that day after day. I know he was exhausted every night and on top of doing that he had to read letters from all of the missionaries in the mission. They write him every week and there's about 170+ missionaries right now. I took the opportunity to visit with as many missionaries as I could too. As they waited to go in to visit him I got to talk to them for a little bit. They are such a wonderful group of young men and young women giving their lives to the Lord for 18 months to 2 years! I love them all!
We had all of the senior missionaries that serve in the office, 3 couples and one sister, come to our home for dinner on Tuesday night. We had so much fun visiting and getting to know one another better. They are such wonderful people and I'm so thankful for my friendship with them. They have helped to make my mission experience so enjoyable and I love being at the office with them. Also Tuesday night Kasey and Kenzie were flying in to spend a few days with us. They were supposed to get here at 10:15pm but their plane had mechanical trouble and  was delayed a couple of hours. They were going to have to stay the night in Denver and were told there were no more hotels available because there had been some bad weather and the planes had all been grounded. Lucky for them and for us their connecting flight was also delayed and they were able to make their flight here. We picked them up at 1:30 in the morning and even though it was late we were so happy to get them here with us.
Even though Mitch was busy we would go to the church where he was interviewing and stay for a while and visit with the elders and sisters. Then we went to some sites in Wichita like the Nifty Nut House, Hurts Donuts, Keeper of the Plains etc. On Friday we took our PDay and went to Hutchinson, Kansas to the Salt Mine. It starts with a ride in an elevator going 650 feet down through the ground. In the mine there's a museum and a little train that you can ride and other tours that you can take. It's pretty fascinating and a little scary being that far down in the ground and when the lights are turned off it is pitch black. We got to pick some salt rocks to bring home which I had the girls take back to the grandkids.

Sadly on Saturday we dropped the girls at the airport at 1 p.m. and they flew home. We had such a fun time with them and it was such a pleasure to have them here! After dropping them off, Mitch and I drove to Guymon Oklahoma to meet a new senior couple that was arriving that day. It's about a four-and-a-half-hour drive. The Walkers are from Weiser Idaho and they are fantastic people who will be such a support to the Sisters and Elders in Guymon and such a support to the ward. We were very impressed with them. We took Elder Wallace and Elder Winegar and sister Filigrana and Sister Wadsworth along with the Walkers to dinner at Hunny's BBQ. The food was really good and the company was even better! We feel like that area is in good hands with these wonderful valiant people. We drove back to Liberal Kansas which is about 50 minutes away to stay the night and then on Sunday we attended the ward there in Liberal.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 Weeks in Kansas

3 weeks ago today our mission began in the Kansas Wichita mission. So much has happened  these last 3 weeks ! I am amazed at how busy and wonderful life is when you're involved in missionary work.
On Tuesday July 12th we received our first batch of new missionaries, fresh from the MTC. One of the things that was so great about that is, we met all of these missionaries when we were  in the MTC. There were 10 elders and 7 sisters. The assistance each drove a van, one with the trailer hooked to the back, and we went to the airport to pick them up. We walked upstairs to wait for them and see them as they came walking down the hall. (Of course the assistance tried to do a little missionary work while we were there!!) It was a great reunion and hopefully comforting to the missionaries to already know us. I wish I could hug all of them but I got to hug the sisters and Mitch got the hug all the elders! After taking a few  pictures at the airport we loaded up the vans and all of their luggage and headed to The Keeper of the Plains.

-Keeper of the Plains is a statue of an Indian where the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers meet. (oh here it’s not Arkansas it’s pronounced Ar-Kansas)
There is a tradition in this mission where they go straight to The Keeper of the Plains and have their picture taken and then at the end of their mission before they go to the airport they go back to The Keeper of the Plains to have their picture taken again. That's a tradition we will keep! We came right back to the mission office where they had their first taste of Kansas barbecue. Once their stomachs were full they were paired up with a missionary and sent out to do missionary work for a couple of hours. I came home and worked on preparing dinner for 21 of us. They showed up around 5:30 p.m. exhausted and yet happy and ready for a good meal. It was a pleasure to sit and talk with his sisters and find out how their new experiences proselyting had gone. They had been challenged to invite people to be baptized and I think pretty much they were all able to fulfill that challenge. Once dinner was done the assistants took all 17 of the new missionaries down in the basement to do some training and while they were training, each missionary came upstairs to be interviewed by Mitch. There was always one missionary waiting on the couch and so I got to visit with each one and find out all about them. I really enjoyed getting to know each one of them, such great young men and young women excited about serving the Lord. The assistants took all of the elders to stay with them and the other office elders while all the sisters stayed here in our home. I loved going downstairs to check on them and seeing them all sitting there reading scriptures, writing in their journals and studying. It was such a peaceful, sweet feeling down in that basement. All of  missionaries had been up since about 2:30 in the morning, if they even slept at all, so they were exhausted and the lights were out by 10 p.m. In the morning, following Mission rules, they were up at 6:30,ready, studying and getting ready for the day. We had them over to the mission office by 8:30 in the morning where they are able to have breakfast. The missionaries that were going to be their trainers showed up and then there was all kinds of training going on. The new missionaries in one room and the training missionaries in another. Afterwards they were paired up, ate a huge lunch and off they went to their assigned areas.
A couple of hours later we were off to Topeka (an hour and 45 minute drive) for a visit with some missionaries and a coordinating council with a stake presidency. Then turned around and drove right back home.
Saturday we drove over to Dodge City ( another 2 and a half hours) for the baptism of Simon Dang. It was a beautiful experience. Got back in the car and drove over to Derby (just outside of Wichita) for the baptism of Robyn Williams and her daughter Dianna. Both baptisms were filled with SPIRIT and so wonderful! I will never forget the look on their faces and the joy they radiated. It was priceless. The Gospel changes lives. It’s a joy to be apart of this wonder and true work.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Our first 10 days in the Kansas Wichita Mission!

We headed out  Tuesday Morning June 28th for Wichita, Kansas.  Once past Grand Junction Colorado and into the canyon it was an absolutely gorgeous drive. We drove through Glenwood Springs, Eagle, Vail then on to Denver for the night. The plan was to stay in Denver but we couldn't find a hotel anywhere! There was some kind of baseball tournament going on and nothing was available so we drove on for another hour or so. We ended up in a small town called Limon Colorado where we found a hotel. It was decent and we stayed there for the night. We had a nice thunderstorm come through and it rained really hard. The next morning we found out that Denver had a flooding rainstorm so we got the tail end of it there in Limon. We tried to figure on the map where our mission boundaries started and we figure it was Flagger Colorado. Mitch said his heart started pounding so he knew we must be close! We drove to Salina Kansas which is a really nice city and found a nice hotel to stay in. I wanted to get a pedicure so I drug Mitch with me over to a place called Divine Nails. A man named Kenny and his wife Christy from Vietnam own Divine Nails. We both got a pedicures and Kenny was so friendly and talkative with us.  We told him it was our first day in Kansas and he asked us why we had moved there. We told him that we were there as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon church. He said I know the Mormon church I watch Sister Wives. We had a good laugh over that and explained to him that those people on the TV show Sister Wives have broken off from the Mormon church. When I've gotten pedicures in Utah nobody talks to each other. When we got this pedicure in Salina everybody in the shop visited with us. Everyone was so friendly and so talkative it was a really nice Introduction to the people of Kansas. We have found in our 10 days here that people are so friendly and open and very kind.
Thursday morning we left Salina and drove to Wichita. The drive was beautiful! Everything here is green and there's corn fields and I think Alfalfa but it's just beautiful and we loved everything about the drive! People comment about it being so flat and a lot of it is but it's so pretty and there's so many water towers!  We arrived at our new home and found it to be very nice and comfortable! We got into our church clothes and headed over to the mission office where we got to meet president and sister Bell, the outgoing Mission president and his wife. They are wonderful people and we so enjoyed our visit with them. We had lunch with all of the mission office staff and they are also wonderful friendly people! We had a “meet the president” with the missionaries from the zones around Wichita. We went in and shook everyone's hands and found out a little about them and then spent about an hour-and-a-half letting them know who we are and talking about the mission. After the meeting we took the assistants who are Elder Labrum and Elder Gilliam and the sister trainer leaders, Sister Fountain and Scaister Wade to dinner. We are so impressed with these four young men and young women. After dinner Mitch went with the missionaries and I went with the sisters to do some missionary work. The sisters had a man they were going to visit who had just had surgery but he didn't answer the door. They looked around and down the street saw a woman raking her yard. They said let's go talk to her so off we went in the blazing hot Kansas sun to go visit someone they had never met. I'll be honest, I was a little nervous. This woman her name is Janae, she has 4 children and was very friendly and receptive to talking about Jesus Christ! She is a religious person and said that she would come to a chapel tour. We then visited with her nephew and his girlfriend who were sitting on the doorstep.  They too were friendly and happy to talk with us. I was so tired from all that we had  going on that day and all I wanted to do was go home after dinner but I am so thankful that I went with the sisters and experienced meeting these people! There is Spirit in missionary work that is amazing and I was energized! Mitch had a great experience with the elders as they visited with a woman they've been teaching for a short while. This was our introduction to the  Kansas Wichita mission. it was the best day ever!
We have done four other meet the president meetings across the state with different zones, held an MLC which is a Mission Leadership Council, been asked to share our testimony in two Sacrament meetings and we’ve attended various other meetings and activities. We had dinner at one of the stake presidents (President and Sister Daley) home last sunday and they showed us around the area Friday. It is a busy life but we love the work and the people!

ission1We have already traveled all over this state and we will be traveling every week. Mitch has already filled up his car 5 or 6 times in the 10 days we have been here! Everywhere we go we find strong members and people interested in hearing the gospel. Yesterday we attended three baptisms in 3 different cities which took us all day to drive around to. There were several more baptisms that took place yesterday we just couldn't get to them all since they were spread over the state. Today at church Janae came to sacrament meeting for the first time and I was so thrilled to see her with the sisters! This is mission life and I love it!