August 17, 2017
Dear Loved Ones,
One thing that keeps this mission interesting is its unpredictability. We are just never sure what a new day is going to bring. I chose the word “interesting” rather than “fun” or “exciting” because that unpredictability is usually the result of something bad that has happened to or with one of our missionaries—like a severe allergic reaction, an eye injury, a broken hip, a kidney stone, or, in today’s case, a suicide attempt. I know, sadness! But, fortunately for all, the attempt was not successful. But, this is Sonja writing this week’s blog (Sorry! Kent’s writing is much more fun and interesting) because Kent, as I write, is on an airplane somewhere between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City accompanying our sweet elder home to his family where he can and, hopefully, will get the care he desperately needs.
|This is our poison ivy case for the week|
We love this elder! For a short time we actually went to district meetings only because our YSA elders needed rides to district meeting. District meetings don’t have much application to senior missionaries. It actually was not even our district. We were adopted. The district leader actually invited us to come and talk to the district about companionship prayer and then he just kept inviting us back and we fell in love with the missionaries in that district so we kept coming until transfers happened and things changed and our YSA elders got a car for a short time. But I digress, this elder was in that district and he was a good missionary and he was sweet and we love him. We’re glad for that connection with him. Our hearts ache for the emotional pain he struggles with!
The morning began with a text from Sister Welch letting us know there was a problem, followed closely by a call from Pres. Welch who was driving to the elder’s apartment. He knew enough to know that an attempt had been made and diverted. He wanted Kent’s thoughts on whether there was any possible way that there was anything we could do other than send this young man home. Nope. In fact, Kent said he needed to be constantly watched AND accompanied home. Kent was the obvious one to do that. When we spoke with Missionary Mental Health the possibility of having a family member come here and accompany the elder home was brought up but it seemed better to deliver him tonight than wait for the family member to arrive tonight and take him home tomorrow.
In making the arrangements, we were on the phone with the IFR (In Field Rep—the liaison between the mission president and the GAs) and a guy from the church’s travel department. When the travel guy asked if Kent needed to be put up in a hotel overnight in SLC, he replied that he’d be staying with our son and his family in Orem. Lindsey, the IFR, said, “Oh good, I love it when these things work out well for families.” Seeing how onboard he was with Kent visiting children and grandchildren, I asked if perhaps this missionary should be accompanied by the TWO OF US. :) Haha! He said not this time, maybe next time. :-)
|We get lots of questions like this: "What bug bit me?" It's usually hard to tell.|
So, not only do I not get to see Taylor and Katie and family, but, I have to give Kent’s spiel at zone conference tomorrow on:
1. Eclipse glasses—how and when to wear them.
2. Flu shots—yes, you are required to get them unless you can convince us that there is a real medical reason you shouldn’t. Don’t be a waney!
3. SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder that we are believers in. Things get pretty gloomy here in the winter/spring. We get more rain than Seattle and, consequently, we have a lot of depressed missionaries during those months. This summer we have seen such a difference in the general happiness of our missionaries that we are now believers in SAD. Therefore, we/I will be showing them some HAPPY LIGHTS that their parents can order for them. These lights put out a certain amount of something (aren’t I going to be great?!) that if they use them to do their morning studies, we have hope it will help.
4. Then I need to talk to them about time and how they need to wisely use every minute of their designated sacred teaching time in the work. It’s our job to do our best to keep them healthy so they and their companions can stay in the work. Kent illustrates this concept with the story of how in his last month of his mission, even though he was in the mission home and had lots of other responsibilities, he promised Heavenly Father that he would use every minute he could to search for people who were prepared to receive the gospel. If he and his companion finished their AP work and had 15 minutes left before they were supposed to be in for the night, they went out finding. They had 3 people baptized in that last month who were found in 15-minute chunks of time that they used instead of squandering.
|Sister Davis and Elder Wiser trying out the patriotic eclipse glasses on our veranda|
Fortunately, we had zone conference in Muncie yesterday and I was able to hear Kent deliver his spiel. I won’t be able to do it nearly as well as he does it. Honestly, they love him! They just get big smiles on their faces when he gets up. He cracks them up! But, he knows when to be serious with them also and he is always well received.
Our oldest granddaughter, Anna, turned 11 years old today. Happy birthday, Anna! We sure do love you! Eleven years ago we became grandparents. Now we have 13 grandchildren! We feel pretty great about those numbers! I wonder if we’ll have another 13 in the next 11 years? This grandparent gig is sure great! This morning we were skyping with Anna and family and asked them how they’d feel about a visit from Grandpa Kent tonight. They were all very enthusiastically onboard! Lucky Kent!
In keeping with my theme of unpredictability, I might mention that the weather here is unpredictably predictable. That is to say that you run a greater chance of suddenly going from sunny blue skies to lightning, thunder and downpour if you left your raincoat and/or umbrella at home. I often ask Siri if it’s going to rain today. I get two answers: “Yes, it’s going to rain today,” and, “It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain,” said in the most unsure voice that Siri can muster. So, today we left our apartment to head to the Welches to pick up the elder and drive to the airport. Either our minds were somewhere else or the weather totally looked fine as we left. We never considered the need for a raincoat or umbrella. The Welches live ten minutes away. In that ten minutes, it began to rain and, by the time we arrived, it was DUMPING!! We thought that if we waited a few minutes it would pass. Nope. Finally we decided we had to make a run for it from the driveway to their front door. They couldn’t get that door open fast enough for us. Kent backed our car up to the edge of their garage and the back of their car. With the use of umbrellas, he and President managed to load our elder’s suitcases into our car. Then President escorted each of us to our respective doors of the car. Last of all, President and Sister Welch came to our elder’s door and gave him a hug. Right then, BAM!!!! Lightning and thunder struck simultaneously, Sister Welch literally SCREAMED, and I think we all wondered if we had been struck! It was nuts! With that auspicious goodbye, we drove off to the airport!
|Noah with his new sister, Hannah|
Have we told you about a companionship of sister missionaries that had lice? I think so. Well, these poor girls have been through it! They have washed everything in their apartment and applied special prescription lice shampoo and combed out the nits not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES!!! When they showed up for the third time, Kent called a specialist in SLC to get some advice. He told Kent that there are lice-removal specialists who actually come out to lice infested homes and help people get rid of them. Sure enough, we located a service that would do that. They guarantee their work. A lady came out and met with our girls and showed them how to put olive oil in their hair and use a very special nit comb to comb out the nits. They were to repeat this process, I believe, three times in the first week and then every three or four days for three more weeks. Here’s hoping!
Last Friday we had a fun experience. We attended our first MLC—Mission Leadership Council. That was a meeting with the Welches, the assistants, the zone leaders and the sister training leaders. We were asked to come and talk to them about the eclipse and disperse all of the eclipse glasses. Beforehand we divided the glasses, instructions and monthly newsletters up by zone and district so they’d be all ready to go. It was a fun group to meet with—such excellent missionaries!
We got a call on Thursday from the first counselor in the Cincinnati Stake Presidency asking us if we would come on Saturday and talk to their stake bishop’s council about the YSA branch. Absolutely! That was a great meeting! We talked to them about the great miracle that is going on in the YSA branch and we exchanged thoughts about how we can work together and rescue some of our YSAs who have fallen through the cracks.
Sunday was our 6-month mark! Woohoo! Halfway! Time flies!
|An Indiana sunset|
I have probably mentioned this before but we have the best branch mission leader in the church! His name is Daniel Rellaford. Colby and Carter and families have met him—we had him over for dinner when they were in town so he could pick Colby’s brain about going to MBA school. He actually reminds me of Colby. Anyway, Daniel spoke in our sacrament meeting on Sunday on “Courage to Live the Gospel.” It was such a great talk! He began by talking about Alma the Elder and what a courageous move it was for him to stand up to wicked King Noah. Alma must have had a pretty comfortable life being one of King Noah’s priests. Alma was pricked by Abinadi’s words and knew they were true. Noah was angry with Abinadi and Alma plead with the King to let Abinadi depart in peace. Then King Noah was angry with Alma and cast him out and sent his servants after him to slay him. Of course, you know the story…Alma repented and began to build up the church. Here’s a quote from Daniel’s talk that illustrates the possible far reaching effects of Alma’s example on his posterity:
“Alma did what was right and let the consequence follow. Alma taught and baptized 450 saints at the Waters of Mormon and later established seven churches in the land of Zarahemla. His son, Alma the Younger, became the first chief judge of the Nephites and high priest, preaching and bringing repentance to the Nephites all across the land. Alma’s son Helaman led the 2,060 stripling warriors who said, “Our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth” (Alma 56:46). Not one of these fell in battle. Helaman’s son, Helaman, was a righteous leader in a time when corruption and secret combinations tainted the government. That Helaman’s sons, Nephi and Lehi, were the same to converse with angels in a pillar of fire in the Lamanite prison causing “the more part” of the Lamanites to become “a righteous people” (Helaman 6:1). And finally, Nephi’s son, Nephi, was present at the moment of Jesus’ condescension in the Americas and he “bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet” (3 Nephi 11:19).
Talk about impact. Talk about consequences of making the right choice. The Lord said this to Alma the Elder near the end of his life, “Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep” (Mos 26:20).
Every day, choose to have outward and inner courage. I want to ask you to do a challenge with me: Do something every day to have courage. Push the envelope of who you are. Those are the decisions that will shape your life and the lives of those that follow.”
In Wednesday’s zone conference, I love what one of our favorite missionaries, Elder Swainston, said in his departing testimony. He said, “A person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an opinion.” That is a missionary who has had a lot of “anti” thrown at him over the course of his mission.
Later, August 18, 2017
Well, I’ve got my husband back home now. It’s great to have him back. He is a little tired, though. He enjoyed his quick visit to Taylor’s family in Orem. I enjoyed zone conference today and managed to deliver the “spiel.”
We love serving this mission. We love the gospel of Jesus Christ. We love the Book of Mormon. And, we love all of you!
Your Ohio Missionaries