Thursday, June 18, 2015

TiWis and Name Badges

7 Jun 2015 Newsletter

I apologize for not writing more often.  Unfortunately, I ended up back in the hospital for GI bleeds and I have kind of gotten behind in my office work.  I was a little worried that the Mission President might send me  home, but he was actually worried that I might ask to go home.  We only have a little less than 5 months left and I actually feel great after transfusions.

11 June 2015

Well,  the mission cars all started getting the TIWI's yesterday...the little black boxes that record your driving.  The group from Salt Lake Global fleet  came to install them and then to test them.  We got to hear all about what the TIWI's can do!  It knows exactly what the speed limit is in any given area and will tell you to "check speed".  If you don't it will tell you the same thing every few seconds and an text/email sent to the Vehicle coordinator and the Mission President.  What is checks for is  seatbelt, speed  and aggressive driving.  Aggressive is considered stopping too fast, taking off too fast, flying over bumps,, too sharp turns (i.e. on two wheels)  It sounds like to get an infraction of the rule you have to be a little "rebellious".  Any breaking of the rules the TiWi gives you a verbal warning, if you correct  the behavior, nothing happens, if you it shows up on the next report.  If you get extremely reckless, or, in a really serious accident an email/text goes to the Vehicle Coordinator, the Mission President, the Area Authority, the Missionary Committee, 3 General Authorities, (one being Elder Russell M. Nelson)  or as Brother Ott from Salt Lake said "everybody  but the prophet" gets notified.  Interesting that our mission had two accidents that met those qualifications just this last week.  Obviously certain driving behaviors will get you a "suspension" for 1 or more transfers and those that are really reckless, or frequent  may cause you to lose your driving privileges for the rest of your mission.  We already have a handful of those.  The purpose of the TIWI's is obviously to save lives, and the church money.  Brother Ott told us that some missionaries have a sense of entitlement and they think they can get away with poor driving, causing damage to cars and the church just pays out and gets them a new car.

16 June 2015

Sunday we had Stake Conference in the Des Moines Stake and our visiting general authority from Salt Lake was Elder David Baxter of the Seventy.  He was a lot of fun.  He shared the story of his mother's conversion.  His family is from Scotland.  His mother had had two bad marriages which ended in divorce.  She was poor, tired and had quite a sharp tongue.  When the missionaries would stop by from time to time she could be quite firm and terse with them, chasing them off.  One day during a terrible storm a knock came to the door and there were 2 missionaries there looking like "drowned rats".  Even though she was not interested, she felt a moment of compassion and said to herself, "What if that were my son?"  So she let them in so they could dry off and warm themselves  next to her tiny fireplace.  They mostly just talked, but by the time Elder Baxter got home from school they were having a gospel discussion and that was the beginning of the family's conversion.  (Elder Baxter said little did she know then that one day her son would be one of those missionaries.)

Elder Baxter had a different way of presiding over conferences.  On Sunday, we all noticed there weren't very many speakers on the program.  He had warned us on Saturday night that he would call a few from the audience...."as directed by the come up and bear their testimonies.  That was the bigger part of the meeting.  After the usual opening business, he started naming people he felt prompted to invite to the stand.  Imagine my surprise when he said, "Sister Stringham, one of our full-time Senior Couples serving in the Des Moines Mission."  We were sitting by the Shelleys who are the other office couple.  She gasped and said, "you don't have your name badge".  I had forgotten it that morning because I had worn a jacket that I don't often wear and forgot to put the badge on.  So she quickly gave me hers.  She said that no one could tell that far away.  Well, we didn't realize that the first three rows were mostly our young missionaries and they immediately noticed and all had big grins on their faces.  Also, they have a big screen in the cultural hall showing the speakers.  And it was broadcast to two other buildings in the Des Moines Zone.  I think people from our ward were thoroughly confused.  Well, the missionaries had fun with that!  Glad I wasn't really aware while bearing my testimony!  I have since ordered  more badges so all sweaters, jackets and tops will have their own badge, plus one for my purse and one for the office. 

Elder Baxter shared this sweet story.  His mother was quite bitter with his dad after the divorce, and so was Elder Baxter.  He was just a youth when the divorce happened.  When he was called to be a missionary, he was attending the temple and he asked Heavenly Father to help him forgive his dad.  While he was in the Chapel part of the temple he experienced a very strong feeling.  For a short time he said he actually felt some of the feelings of his father.....his shame, his unfulfilled dreams, his sorrow and pains of his own childhood.  It was a very strong, powerful feeling.  His dad, in his last days, lived in an attic of someone's home and had never remarried.  Elder Baxter had only visited him a couple of times after the divorce.  For the first time in his life he felt love and compassion for his dad.  He told us that the temple is  not just a place to be sealed, but also a place to be healed". 

Our President's wife told us today that they have received word that they have called a couple to be our replacements!  Okay, I suddenly felt very sad!  I so want to see my family and friends again, but I can emotional at the drop of a hat just thinking about leaving!  Also, just remembering that we were given just 5 weeks and this couple will get 5 months to prepare to come.

Well, better go,  We are up early to take an Elder to the Airport.   We love you all and look forward to hugging you all in a few short months!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Just Some Short Stories

12 April 2015  Just Some Short Stories

As usual we have been busy!  It is pretty much the same routine every 6 weeks.  So I thought I would just share a few missionary stories.

The Sister who taught Relief Society is a convert.  Her conversion was unique.  As a youth she lived next door to members and there were several members at her school.  She liked them well enough.  She remembers them as being good people, great at school and sports.  But she also remembered them as getting up early, going to Seminary at 6:00 in the morning, going to long church meetings on Sunday and having all kinds of church activities during the week and many service projects.  She was actually grateful she was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Missionaries tracted them out one day and her parents and siblings listened to the lessons taught  She on the other hand had a very contentious attitude toward everything they taught and fought with the missionaries at each meeting.  At one point, the parents told her she did not need to attend anymore lessons .  Her family was baptized.  Years later, one of her parents asked her to give it one more try.  She did it out of respect for her parents.  She said she decided to not open her mouth once to criticize.  She remembers being sick to her stomach, but the spirit in the room was peaceful.  When she was asked if she would be baptized she said yes, which surprised even her.  After she agreed, she said the contentious feelings left and she felt a peace she had never known before.  Today, she and  her husband are the Ward Mission Leaders and love their callings and take great care of the missionaries.  She said this was a testimony to her that the Lord knows each of us personally and does all He can to bring us back to Him. 

One young Sister Missionary in her departing testimony told of the time she and her companion were going door to door to talk about the Book of Mormon.  One person let them in that evening.  Upon first meeting him she disliked him.  He had been drinking, using rough language and talking disrespectfully to them.  She immediately decided that she never wanted to go back.  But, he was agreeable to having them return and teach him more.  They had several lessons with him and she found that she started to look forward to their visits.  Then one day they dropped by and he told them he never wanted to see them again and to not ever come back.  They were disappointed!  What surprised her the most was how much she had grown to truly love this man.  For several weeks she prayed for him and hoped they might hear from him.  They never did and she was soon transferred.  Her testimony was how much Heavenly Father loves each of his children no matter their current circumstance and He will bless us  to love them as He does when we are obedient and pray for  His help.

We have a Senior Couple who were Record Preservationist Missionaries.  They went to Courthouses in Iowa and asked to photograph and digitalize their records.  Most places are happy to let them do it because they leave them a digital copy of everything we do.  It can be quite expensive and we do it for free.  One condition is that they let us combine it with all our records world-wide that we use for genealogy/family history.  Their first area, the people were not very friendly to them.  No one really talked to the much.  They had to remove their Missionary Name Tags as they entered the building.  They were only allowed to go into the building on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays .  Well this couple made friends easily and soon the community  was inviting them to all their social events.  This couple were asked lots of questions about our church.  Soon, the administrators of the courthouse allowed them to have keys to the building so they could go in anytime they wanted.  When they left the area the community threw a big potluck to say good-bye and it was the best attended of their potlucks in a long time.  Their testimony is that they were there to preserve records and also to soften the peoples' hearts towards the Mormons.  So many people  in the Midwest have a negative attitude based on the traditions of their parents, their parents' parents and etc.  The Mormons are sometimes preached against in some churches.  Once they meet us they see that we are (for the most part) nice citizens and neighbors and Christians. 

I still have some memory issues, but I have done things so many times that I am starting to remember things better.   I have this little post from Facebook, where Amy Stringham tagged me that makes me chuckle.  

Well, it is time to get ready for a big day tomorrow!  We are honored to be a part of the work to bring souls unto Christ.  We love you all!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Loving This Spring Weather

Loving this Spring Weather

15 March 2015
The weather is wonderful  - in the 70's - and predicting 80 degrees tomorrow. (Monday).  Sunshine can sure lift the spirits.  I took a little drive, hunting down maps of Iowa at rest stops, down I-80 and I just wanted to sing it was so bright and sunshiny.  There is no green grass yet, but lots of blue skies.   I'm feeling better since my last letter, but it will take awhile to get back to I've been told. 
Missionary work is moving along.  Some weeks we get lots of baptism and then others...not so much.   The office work is always busy.  Elder Stringham is busy closing apartments (our numbers are down) and moving furniture to storage.  I am trying to reach some parents who moved from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands so I can send them the Elder's itinerary, and also, their Bishop and Stake President.  The Elder is hoping they email him this info on Preparation Day on Monday.  Sometimes they don't have internet where they are living.  We want someone to be at the airport to pick up this returning missionary as he steps off the plane.  If I don't hear from one of them, I just can't assume that they received my mail or emails. 

29 March 2015
Sorry....we got busy  in the office.  There are changes being made in two of the Stakes so we are trying to decide which areas belong to which missionaries and which ones will be closed.  (Well not me...but the President and the Assistants)  This will be a big time computer changes for the reports, the Zone Conferences, the Mission Leadership Conferences and housing! 

My health is doing well.  I am feeling blessed to have good doctors!

I love learning about the sweet people whose baptisms I submit!  I just submitted one of a 45 year-old lady who worked with a member of our faith in the hospital.  He is an anesthesiologist, her job I am not sure of.   During some small talk she asked him what plans he had one night.  He said he was going Home Teaching  She asked what that was and he explained it all to her.  Another time she asked  him again what his plans were.  He said he was preparing for a trip to Omaha Nebraska Temple.  She again asked about the temple.  She asked if anyone could go in.  He explained that before it is dedicated visitors were welcomed to an Open House.  She wanted to know where there was an Open House for a LDS Temple.  The Phoenix, Arizona temple was holding an open house so she caught a flight to Phoenix, toured to temple and then went to the grounds/visitors center of the Mesa Temple and to the Gilbert Temple.  She had such a sweet feeling and a spiritual experience in Arizona, that she  got back she found the member and asked how she could become a member.  We had some very excited  missionaries there and she was just baptized last weekend. 

Yesterday we attended a baptism of a young 18 year-old man who was baptized by his best friend.  He had been coming to church for quite awhile.  He never really wanted to join until recently when he was thinking seriously about his life.  The friend was so teary-eyed through the whole program and ordinance and made us all emotional.

Mondays are Preparation Day for the young missionaries  That is when they email their parents.  Most parents must be sitting by their computers waiting for the email to come through.  If these missionaries are having a bad day or feeling grumpy about one thing or another  they tell their parents.  So Monday afternoons, evenings and Tuesdays we get a lot of calls from worried parents.  Sometimes  of their concerns are really legitimate.  Other times it sounds concerning, but by the time the President or his wife talk to the missionary it has been resolved or they didn't mean to make it sound so worrisome to their  parents. 

We are getting a lot of Easter packages and cards.  Some parents have clever ideas!  I posted this on facebook/instagram, but want to put it in the newsletter because I will keep these forever!

An Easter Egg shaped package sent to one of the Elders  It was quite heavy.  Last year we had a small plastic-type egg sent through the mail.    (Excuse the messy desk area.  It was a very busy day and I had several projects going on at once.)

We are enjoying our mission.  Some days are hard, every day is busy, but there are just a lot of sweet moments and wonderful memories!  We love you all so very much!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Trying to Make Sense of it All!

1 March 2015 

Hardly know where to begin.  This last week was the biggest and most chaotic transfer ever -- a perfect storm of problems.  31 missionaries going home and 16 coming in.  A lot of preparation goes into transfers.  Unfortunately not everything can be done in advance.  For us Monday through Friday of transfer week is so busy that we often work 10+ hour days.  Our Mission Office is responsible for all travel arrangements getting the new missionaries to Iowa City to meet their new companions and for the departing back to the Mission Home in Des Moines --- luggage and totes. Here they are fed a great meal, have a testimony meeting, interviews with the President, and special video made up from all the pictures sent in from the missionaries, and dessert.  They are given a special departing packet with their travel itinerary, list of their assignment history, a letter from the President, map of Iowa, odds and ends from their personal file, CD of their letters to the Mission President and a list of all the missionaries in the mission for the past two years and copy of the special DVD video.  Everybody is so busy.  Everything has to work perfectly for it all to go smoothly.  Usually there are only little hiccups that come up, but not this time.  So much went awry. 

First, the  Sister who prepares and oversees the meals in the Mission Home got very sick, and her mother (who helps in our office once a week) was in the hospital.  So the Mission President's wife, Sister Jensen was scurrying around trying to find someone else to help out for 2 days of meals.  That is a lot of work to feed missionaries during the transfers. 

Second, the Sister who helps make the DVD video had big troubles with her computer and was late getting it to us to review and copy. 

Then, I was somewhat stressed having given the lesson in Relief Society that Sunday before.  I felt like I was in a dream and couldn't focus.  Monday, I was not feeling well but couldn't put a finger on why.....just blamed it on stress.  That is the day of our biggest Staff Meeting to prepare and go over final details.....always lasts half the day.  I stayed late to get as much done as I could.  Tuesday, I knew something wasn't quite right.  My heart rate was racing and pounding and I felt so dizzy and light headed.  Even though we were so busy, I felt prompted to call the doctor and get an appointment that day.  Good thing!  She did an EKG and did some blood work and then came back and told me she was sending me to the Emergency Room.  I guess my Hgb had dropped from 13.3 to 6.6 from the week before.  I was losing blood somewhere and they suspected one of my gastric varices.  They treat that very seriously so the ER was waiting for me when I arrived.  The next 6 hours are a blurr. My Hgb was still dropping.   I guess I didn't have all the usual symptoms of someone with GI bleed.  No...I never felt nausea or vomited up blood.  Was asked  100's of questions.  One question I remember vividly was if my heart stopped would I want them to give me compressions!!  "Well, yeah!"   An endoscopy was done to see if the medication to stop the bleeding worked.  It did.  So many different doctors and nurses coming and going.  I never once felt a dooming feeling like I wasn't going to make it.  But, after awhile your logical thinking starts to take over.  I am a nurse and I know what all this could mean.   

Well, so much for all the office work to be done.  I was in the hospital until Thursday night.  So much for the CDs and the special DVDs to give to all the missionaries.  One copy was made so they could show it after their testimony meeting.  We usually go over to the Mission Home, do our training and help with the meals.  Elder Stringham spent the first day pretty much at the hospital with me.  He left late, went back to the office to prepare MSF cards for the missionaries (their debit cards) and also their medical cards.  The Shelleys are busy with getting missionaries to and from transfers and they had their hands full this transfer.  Still she managed to do my training.  Elder Stringham got the departing packets to the Mission Home.  The necessary stuff got done....the fluff did not.  So we will be mailing out the CDs and the DVDs. 

At the airport....Des Moines airport is not very big....they struggled getting all these missionaries checked in and luggage weighed and paid for.  The airline employees seemed overwhelmed and a little uptight.  24 missionaries were on the  same flight to Salt Lake City.  That must have been a fun flight!  They barely had enough time to get checked in before their departure....despite being there 3 hours early.  Sister Jensen was almost in tears because she did not get to even hug them good-bye.  She loves and mothers them all for 2 years and waits until the very end where she is allowed to give one big hug to the Elders.   

To make things worse during all this we got more snow on transfer day.  The transfer meeting in Iowa City was late getting started because of snow and ice.  So here we have a little snow storm with Elders and Sisters driving cars, big vans with missionaries and trucks with loaded trailers.  That was a little nerve wracking.   Me....I am sitting in a hospital bed watching the snow come down, thinking about all that is going on in the mission, trying to distract myself with TV cooking shows (while being on a clear liquid diet) and feeling so useless!!!! 

And I have to mention that during all this chaos President and Sister Jensen found time to come visit me in the hospital and see that food from the Mission Home meals was saved for us.  We had enough for 3 meals.   I am in awe that they do so much and care so much for their missionaries.

Friday I went back to work thinking I would just work a half a day.  Not to be.  Too many things to do and problems to solve.  Still quite anemic, but it will improve over time. 

Been thinking about the blessings of all this!  I will have to get back to you on this one.  I'm sure there is something to be learned and in time I will understand.  I hate to fall through on my responsibilities!  I hate it more when it disrupts other people's schedules and causes them more worry and they have to do my work!  I am feeling humble...after all I survived a medical emergency.  Once I get caught up on everything life will get back to normal...."missionary life normal" that is.

Here is a bittersweet story!

3 months ago we received a new missionary with mega medical problems and food allergies.  He  had been sent for a "trial" mission in another state for 3 months first to see if he could handle it.  He so wanted to be a missionary!!  He did well so he was sent here to Iowa.  He was enthusiastic, hardworking and fun to have around.  The President felt impressed to send him to a certain area with a certain trainer.  In this new area was a Sister who had similar food allergies and in her gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, etc. kitchen she made him bread (a recipe from this Elder's mom) and a special dish each week that he could eat for several meals.  This Sister and her husband had fond feelings for this Elder because he reminded them so much of their son who had been killed 9 months ago in Afghanistan.   Sadly, the Elder's health deteriorated, both physically and mentally.  He was struggling.  This past transfer he was released and sent home.  He lives with his mother only because his father is deceased.  All of us in the office, the APs, President and Sister Jensen and many elders who knew this Elder were heartbroken.  We all knew how hard he tried and how much he wanted to be a missionary.  The Brother and Sister in his area felt sad but made sure this Elder knew he had not failed.  Today at church we learned that the couple will be having their son sealed to them in May in Utah.  They have asked the Elder to stand in for their son when he is sealed to them.  They love him so much and took such great care of him while he was here.  They felt that this missionary was sent to them because this helped them in their grief.  This is a testimony to me that the Lord had a hand in where this Elder was sent -- both to this mission and to the area.  This young Elder will always have a friend here!!  And since this couple also have family in Utah, I bet they see him each time they visit Utah.  I truly believe that the Lord cares more about the intent and desire of the heart and not just how much we accomplish.

Well, we still know that what we are doing is important!

Love you all!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Change Is In The Air

14 February 2015  Change Is In the Air

Sometimes things get pretty routine and a little mundane, but now we have a big change coming to our mission.

Black Boxes - Our mission will be having "black boxes" installed in all the missionary's cars in June.  This will be interesting.  It tells you everything:  It reports your speed, if it goes over a certain limit it tells you to slow down, if you don't it sends an email to the Mission President; the same, if you are driving outside your working area, if an accident occurs, if you are braking too hard or too often, if you accelerate too fast too often, if you turn too quickly.  I'm pretty sure a report is sent to the Vehicle Coordinator and the Mission President.  The Church is trying to cut down on accidents, speeding tickets and unsafe driving.   So parents the church is busy protecting your sons and daughters, helping them obey rules and laws so they don't get hurt.   They need lots of experiences driving safely.  It seems that since the lowering of the age for missionaries, these young men and women aren't able to get as much driving experience before they come out. 

Now that the Missionary Committee in Salt Lake has decided that all missions will provide bedding for the missionaries when they arrive in the field, Elder Stringham and I have been busy.  Mostly we order online, but we have nearly wiped out all of certain kinds of comforters and blankets in the stores.  So we have had to stop at several stores to see if they have them.  They had a few, but were low on what we want.  We have had lots of big boxes shipped to our Mission Office.  Then we or the APs take them over to the Mission Home where we will be assembling pillows, mattress covers, bed-in-a-bag and a blanket into a certain group so the new missionaries can just grab what they like and put their name on it.  We have 25 missionaries to prepare bedding for so this next week that is one of our projects.  Interesting thing is that when Elder Stringham called the Missionary Department to talk about the budget he was told that there is no budget....what?  Last conversation he had with them he was told to estimate and present a budget.  I guess there are changes in the works (again) and we only worry about bedding until June.  We're not sure what the changes will be so we are up in the air until they tell us.

My cubicle is next to the Vehicle Coordinator's cubicle so I often hear his phone conversations with the missionaries.  One day, I heard Elder Shelley say, "Are you okay?  Tell me what happened?  "You hit a mountain?'  Were you going up or down the mountain?  What?  You turned a corner and hit a mountain?  Because it was dark?  This whole time I was wondering where in Iowa is there a mountain?  It was a Sister Missionary and I was sure she must have meant a small hill.  After Elder Shelley advised her of the need to fill out a report, take pictures and send to him, and contact a place to get it fixed, he hung up the phone and came over me and was shaking his head.  "I have no idea what she was talking about", he said.  "She said she turned a corner and suddenly there was this mountain in front of her and she couldn't stop fast enough."  To this day, we really don't know what really happened.  These Sister Missionaries work way out in the middle of nowhere and no one has been out there to see what she was talking about.  So maybe there is a mountain, who knows!!   There was minimal damage to the fender so no one worried about it, but it is a story we smile about often in the office. 

It seems that since the cold, snowy weather has arrived....finally, and may be here to stay for awhile. Elder Stringham has been busy replacing phones.  The phones get broken when the missionary slips and falls, loses it or drops the phone in the snow, or in the mud puddles.  Missionary work slows down too.  We have days where they cannot walk around in the neighborhoods because it is frigid and capable of frostbite.  Sometimes they can't go out until afternoon when the roads have been shoveled and special anti-slippery chemical sprayed on them.  The winds are ferocious here.  If I get chilled to the bone, the only thing that helps is to turn on my electric blanket when I get home and crawl under until I have been warmed all the way through.  I walked from a store to my car and the car heater could not begin to warm me up. 

Today in our Gospel Principles class the lesson was on Chastity.  The lesson talks about the necessity of parents themselves teaching their children about sex instead of having others/schools do it.  A convert of a few years, who attends the class, told us that she was a biology teacher in high school for several years.  One year she was assigned to  teach sex education class in the health class.  She reviewed the curriculum and told them she would teach them some parts of it, the functionality of the body and how physiologically babies are born.  Other parts of it she didn't want to even touch telling the educators that those parts should be taught at home.  She was told that parents don't want to teach their children and now expect the schools to teach about sex and their moral interpretation of what is right and what is not.  She told us this was the start of her conversion to the church.  Usually she had maybe one member of the church in her class.  This year she had 5 youth members.  These children had been taught at home.  She was impressed with the parents of these youth members.  They simply told the school no to the section  on sex education.  She found herself watching these youth and noticed what fine, good and strong people they were.  This Sister liked that and it influenced her decision later to listen to the gospel and be baptized. 

This weekend we attended a lot of baptisms.  All together there were 7 persons baptized just in our building alone.  A sweet father baptized and confirmed his step-daughter for whom he had fought the court system for custody.  Also, at this baptism was a young 9 year-old who was befriended by another 9 year-old member at school.  Come to find out that this young convert's mother was already a member, but had become less active over the years.  The missionaries taught both the mom and the daughter.  Now the daughter is a member and the mother is attending regularly.  They were fellowshipped royally by this ward.  The baptism of these two young girls had so many people attend that they moved the opening part into the chapel where everyone could be accommodated. There was standing room only in the room off the baptismal font.   So many children and youth came to support them.  Another baptism held in the evening was for 5 people.  A mother and her son were baptized.  She was the friend of a recent convert whose 3 children were also being baptized that day.  One of the little boys was so excited that as he headed to the baptismal font, he quickly turned around, ran back to his mom and gave her a big hug, before going into the font for his turn. The baptism ceremony itself it short and powerful.  I still get chills when a man, holding the Priesthood of God, raises his hand to the square, and starts the prayer ....  especially a young missionary!. 

We are grateful to be missionaries!  We love you all!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little Miracles

25 January 2015 Little Miracles

It has been 3 weeks of little miracles!  First of all, a new sister missionary from Utah, who is quite well known for a tragic accident she was in, nearly died, no hope for an independent life if she did survived was assigned to our mission.  Well miracle after miracle helped her to be quite the independent young lady as she was before.  She is just the sweet angel as described on her blog post and in all the newspaper articles about her.  A family who shares their house with missionaries, said when she read an article about her being sent to the Iowa Des Moines Mission, felt a strong impression that this sister would be living in her home.  That is right where the President Jensen felt impressed to send her.  This family really takes good care of their missionaries -- the mother and father are returned missionaries themselves.  Also, Iowa has so many LDS medical students and most of the wards in Des Moines and in Iowa City have med students as members.  So this Sister Missionary's parents can feel very comfortable with their daughter's first experience in the mission.  We already love this gentle, humble and courageous young lady. 

Second, it is always quite the ordeal getting all the departing missionaries home.  You worry about them, because you put them on the plane and they have no phone, just a little money for lunch and off they go.  You know they have family and friends waiting for them at some airport and you pray that all goes well, especially in the winter and during tornado season, and they all get home at their arrival time.  This last transfer one of our Elders was asked by the airlines to wait for a later flight because of the weight limit concerns on the plane.  I guess it was an extra full flight.  So now he has gone through security, has no phone, and he waits.  The missionary can call from the airlines desk to President Jensen and have his family members notified of the change.  A member of the church, he himself a former returned missionary, saw him and willingly offered to give up his seat to this sweet missionary.  He said he remembers the excitement of his family when he had returned.  The member calls the Mission Office to tell us so we can notify his parents  I call the parents, who had not heard a thing yet so they were thrilled.  The family asks for this members name and phone number, which I luckily thought to get.  In the end we find out that the missionary had been asked twice to give up his seat.  The second time, another member of the church, came to his rescue and also gave up his seat.  This missionary was from Wyoming and the closest airport for him was the Idaho Falls, Idaho airport.  So his family had to make quite a trek to the airport through some wintery weather and all ended well.

I feel very blessed medically to have been sent to Iowa.  I need regular checkups for my liver problems.  In December the doctors noticed rather big varices in my stomach.  If they are big enough they needed to do something about it before it ruptures and I bleed to death.  I was sent to the University of Iowa Digestive Diseases department where they did another endoscopy and decided to inject a foam-like substance which they call "super glue" and it hardens and clots the varices.  I went back a month later for a checkup where I was told I was doing great and didn't need more "super-glue".  I guess this procedure is not yet FDA approved and not practiced in many hospitals.   I felt great!  I got a day off work and because of the sedation I slept all day!  Got all caught up on my rest! 
Sometimes there are little disappointments.    Elder Stringham helped teach a sweet young man shortly after he got out of the hospital.  We helped give him a ride to see a baptism.  He loved it  He came out to church and was taught regularly by the missionaries.  They set a baptism date and when the day came he could not be found anywhere.  Even his family said they didn't know where he was.  A couple of weeks passed and they found him.  He had been "out of town".  He was taught again.  He was supposed to be baptized along with another person this past Saturday and he again was a no-show.  His  family said "he was out shopping" .    Hmmmmm....I'm thinking the baptism might never happen.  Sad for the missionaries!  They work so hard and are so sincere about their teaching.
We cannot believe the great weather we are having.  Mostly it is in the 40's and 50's during the day and 20's and 30's at night.  Today started out with a little snow, turned to rain and wind.  That means there are not as many accidents among the missionaries as last year.  My weather app said that this day last year it was 8 degrees with a RealFeel of -6.  Interesting though that we still have mounds of snow,  that had been plowed and pushed in to heaps, that have not melted from the last snow we had a month ago. 

A lot of the office work is just repetitive, but we feel blessed to be here.  We learned that we were not the original office couple assigned.  One of the other couples here said they were actually assigned as an office couple.  They expressed a lot of concern and I guess our applications must have arrived at the Missionary Department about the right time.  That may be why we were given only about 5 weeks from receiving our call to arrive at the MTC.  The other Senior Couple were reassigned to a ward that really needs them and they are doing great work!!

Rarely do we have a day off!   Missionary work  is 7 days a week!  Saturdays are our preparation day, but almost always we spend at least 4 hours at the office, and attend baptisms where lately I have been the pianist.  Another little miracle is that I find I can play better at the baptisms than I do when I am practicing.   Elder Stringham stayed quite late last night while I did some grocery shopping.  Here he is enjoying a rare afternoon nap on Sunday afternoon before he heads up to the office in a little while. 

We love you all!   Please be loving to the sweet missionaries!  I wish I had been more attentive to them before.  We had them over for dinner, but not as much as we should have.  I wish I'd been more friendly and a better member missionary!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Holidays, Parts of B of M Missing, Snow and Flu

5 January 2015  Holidays, Parts of B of M Missing, Snow and Flu

What a wonderful Christmas we had.  We felt so loved with all the cards and packages sent to us!  Christmas Eve is our family's traditional get-together and we got to participate via facetime.  I have so much love for all of them.  Then we got to facetime Jason's family in Pennsylvania and my heart was so full of love for being so blessed to have such wonderful children and grandchildren!!  On Christmas day I skyped with my mom and that is always a treat! 

 Christmas Day we went to the Mission Home with the President and his wife.  What a treat.  A lot of missionaries stopped by just to wish us Merry Christmas.  One of our APs, Elder Ellsworth,  plays the viola and so he played while we all sang Christmas Carols.  (Now I wish I had kept up with my viola playing)  The President had the missionaries share a special Missionary Moment....that was touching!  The President had a couple of his children and their families visiting so we met them and talked with their grandchildren.

We actually worked in the office the day before Christmas right up until it was time to facetime our kids, but took Christmas Day off.  I could hardly wait to get back to the office just because there is always so much to do!  

We had plans with the other Senior Couples for a rip-roaring New Years Eve, but the Shelleys who were hosting the party came down with the flu.  And Elder Shelley is still fighting it.  So we went out to dinner with the Crapos who live right next door to us in the apartment. 

It is heart-warming to see how the new converts are being blessed in their lives.  Remember the 95 year-old convert who had studied to be a minister?  He had to move to an Assisted-Living place which would put him outside our ward boundaries and he would be going to another ward.  They made arrangements for him to stay in our ward.  A couple, empty-nesters, have taken him under their wings and see that he gets to all the church meetings and activities.  They are also helping him with his genealogy.  He had never married nor had children.  It is very important to him that he find all his family who have passed on and have their temple work done.  He is even being a missionary where he now lives.  When the couple have come to pick him up for church, the staff comment on how he always asks them and others to which church they belong and do they know anything about the Mormons. 

Our sweet father, who was baptized 9 months ago with his daughter was able to gain full custody of his step-daughter and now has both her and his biological daughter living with him.  He hopes to be able to complete the adoption process soon.  The step-daughter is in the 8th grade and has always wanted to be with him and her sister.  She was in foster care for quite some time.  He says he is amazed how both his girls love coming to church.  They love their classes and the other children.  It was a lot of hard work for him going through the court system.  It was expensive and the foster parents fought him tooth and nail.  Interestingly, the biological father agreed to his having custody and the mother unfortunately went off the deep end and totally lost custody of her.  But, he felt he was guided by inspiration every little step of the way. He continues to be a ward missionary and actually asks the missionaries if he can go help teach and visit.  He marvels that a little over a year ago he contemplated suicide.

Missionary works continues to move forward!  We had a successful month in December.  I was busy submitting baptismal records to the headquarters in Salt Lake.  I am surprised when I learn some things.  It is not uncommon for people to not know much about their father.  Often the children take as their last name the maiden name of their mother, since so many have parents who never married.  They often can't give a date of birth for the father.  One young girl wasn't even sure where she herself was born.  She was pretty sure it was Arizona, and was trying to contact her sister whom she hadn't talked to in years to see if she knew.  In the end we just put Arizona, United States of America and that worked.  We had a couple of baptism from people who were born in Micronesia.  Okay, I learned there are thousands of Islands that make up Micronesia so getting a birthplace for the record was a little tricky.  I learned that there are 6 political sovereign subcultures, one of which is the Federated States of Micronesia which is made up for 607 islands.  I was given the name of an Island in the Federated States of Micronesia where he lived and thinks he was born, but no city.  But, that was enough.  I think I would love to study geography after my mission.  It is fascinating to learn about so much of the world....and their cultures.

One funny Elder called the office, not too long ago and said he was teaching an investigator from the Book of Mormon and asked him to read from Mosiah.  To his surprise, the person couldn't find it....and neither could the Elders. The office had been shipped several boxes of Books of Mormon which had a big chunk of Mosiah missing.  OOPS! 

 I am home from the office sick today.  There has been a lot of flu - intestinal and respiratory - going around and it is hard not to catch it.  I decided that with a fever and cough, I shouldn't go in and give it to everyone else.  There is a lot of traffic in the office - missionaries love to come into the office on P-day. 

Well it has been very cold.  It is starting to snow as I write this.  Very pretty!  It has been cold and going to get colder.  It is forecast to get only up to -1 degree and the low at -16 degrees for Wednesday (not counting the windchill factor).  Brrrrrr!  Currently, it is 6 degrees, but with windchill the RealFeel is -4 degrees.  But, we've been through this before and I'm sure we will survive.

What you can't see in this picture is the wind swirling the snow around and around.  Pretty!

I wonder if we are the only Seahawk's fans in Iowa?

On a sad note, a very hard part of being on a mission is when friends and family depart this earth and go to the next life.  Even though it was expected and may be a blessing for her, I will never get to see her again in this life.  I remember well the last time I saw her in the Assisted Living home where she was staying.  She was sleeping and I shared with Rebecca how much I loved her stories of Scotland, her great sense of humor and her inviting our family to her home for swimming, picnics and 4th of July fireworks.  She and I would go to lunch together and laugh at how "forgetful" we both were.  For a long time she would ask me or Rebecca if I had retired from nursing or was still working.....long after I had retired. Her forgetfulness developed into Alzheimers and and she soon forgot who all her loved ones were.  I will miss you Jean Kidd, but am glad for the knowledge I have that we will all be together again someday!  I hope you enjoy your reunion with Neal and your family that you left many years ago when you came to American from Scotland.  Love you!

Well, we love you all!  It is hard to believe that we only have 10 months left on our mission.  It is going by way too fast!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Preparations!

15 December 2014

Wow!  Time flies!  Last week week we had 43 missionaries coming or going!  We were also preparing for the last Zone Conferences of the year and making up Christmas gift bags for each missionary (261).   Since there is not much of a budget for Christmas we get them only simple things.  But these are the most grateful sweet young people around.  They get excited for the little things.  

261 Gift bags to fill and put bows on!

Getting new toothbrush and floss - Elder Stringham and Sister Shelley

In their gift bags they get candy canes, chocolate, toothbrushes and floss (donated by an LDS dentist), a personal letter from the President and his wife, rice krispy treat, and a Nauvoo Temple pin to wear on tie or dress.   We were up late several nights in a row just getting them all filled, checking to make sure there is one for each missionary (no small task), organizing them into Zones (We had 3 Christmas Zone Conferences) and tying them with donated curly ribbon. 

Elder Stringham and I only attend the Zone Conference in Des Moines.....mostly to help with the cars.  Elder and Sister Shelley need help getting all the cars checked.  What do they check?  Everything on the car needs to be in working order and maintained  So we check:  oil, if clean under the hood, wipers,  current license tabs, registration, doors, all the lights and blinkers, all the tires for tread and for all over cleanliness.  It was a very cold day so we bundled up.  We do this while all the missionaries are having meetings in the nice warm church building.  But afterwards we are served a wonderful lunch and can watch their skits.  (Elder Stringham and I had so much to do at the office that we missed the skits)
We had a great group of new Elders and Sisters come in at our last transfer.  Each group has their own personality.  This group seemed extra prepared and ready to go to work.  After they arrive at the Mission Home they are interviewed by the President, trained by Sister Jensen, and the office couples, they have dinner and then a testimony meeting.  The testimony meeting is where you get a real feel for each missionary. 

Elder Weiss, the AP who has been an AP since we arrived, departed with this last group.  He gave the best talk in Sacrament Meeting and we all cried.  The office and mission really miss him.  But, now we have two more APs who are just blossoming and leading the missionaries wonderfully.
One of the blessings of being an Office Couple is that you get to see all the infrastructures that support the missionaries....not only just in each mission, but all the support you get from Headquarters in Salt Lake.    We are always calling Church Headquarters.  We have a special number for just about anything you could need in a mission.

Just like all missions, there are some Elders and Sisters who won't be getting packages from home.  Some are those from Kiribati....I am not sure their mail system is very sophisticated.  I sent a new missionary a welcome packet and he never received it.  So we quickly made him one when he arrived.   An Elder from Kirabati will be going home in April and I worry about sending his itinerary to any family member there.  I guess his Branch President and District President will get a copy and IMOS does have an address for both.  I may need to make a call over there just to make sure someone knows he is coming home. 

A group of members in the area made up 17 boxes, the Office Couples and President and Sister Jensen are making up some.  It really gets me in the Spirit of Christmas!  Just so you know the missionaries love going to members homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!!!  We had some Elders that didn't get an invitation for Thanksgiving so they got to hang around with all the Senior Couples , President Jensen and his wife.  I think they liked a lot of attention and a lot food  to take home with them .

The missionaries here are so good to us.  They sing Christmas songs to us over our phones.  We get Christmas cards, lots of "We love you"  sticky notes!  They come in and carry out packages to the car or even to the Post Office for us, they unload supplies, they leave riddles on our cupboards.  A lot of them just want to talk!    If you want to feel  loved.....go on a mission!  The missionaries love their Senior Couples!!!!! 

Well the weather is turning a lot colder!  We've had snow, but not a lot.  It is mostly the wind!
We wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

P.S.  Look what came in the mail today!!  Sooooooo cute!  Everyone in the office loved them.  This makes me a little homesick, but also very happy!!

"Elder" and "Sister" Stockings

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


23 November 2014   Blessings

It has been a great two weeks.  We've been busy.  It is hard to believe that I have already booked flights for those departing in February and have letters, asking for information updates, ready to send to those parents whose missionary departs in April.  I live in two worlds......the present and the future.  We are losing so many of our great leaders in December, January, February and April.  I have grown quite fond of them all.  Elder Stringham has been busy with the finances.  It seems like a lot of the bills come due around the same time.  He gets interruptions when someone needs help on their computer, missionaries have problems with their apartments or when the Elders want him to help go teach.  So often he stays late to catch up.  

When we arrived last December, we were just getting ready for a transfer.  We gained a new AP at that time....Elder Weiss.    He has been an AP as long as we have been on our mission.  He goes home in 12 days.  I  can't even imagine the Mission without him.  We  have all come to rely on him for answers, help and  for leadership and just plain loved by all the missionaries.  He is as steady as they come. 

Baptism Day for Ajeng.  The Elder with dark tie is Elder Weiss.  AP since we got here.
Two Sister Missionaries came to the office on their P-day and set up our little Christmas Tree and Creche.   They are excited for Christmas and look forward to their packages from family and friends.  We have  several who will not receive anything from home.  Their families are from other countries and usually just send a little extra money if they can even afford that.  The Senior Couples will be watching to see who needs them and will make up boxes.   And there is a group of Sisters in Ames who ask for names and suggestions  for whom to  make up Christmas Boxes .  One of our missionaries has no family support -- financially or emotionally.  Some parents are unemployed and have younger children at home.  It is amazing to me that two of our missionaries who have not received anything from their families ... not even a letter... the whole year they have been out are the most humble, hard working and dedicated young men we have.  They do not have driver licenses , they are companions right now and they walk or bike everywhere.  And they are having pretty good success.  The President says they are always upbeat and smiling.  I hope you all will be mindful of missionaries serving near you.  Ward family and friends can really make Christmas a little more special for them.   I remember being on my mission in France many years ago and not receiving my Christmas package until February.  And even then it looked like it had been opened and rummaged through.  But, I remember getting little items, goodies and carolers from the members and our landlord and that made a big difference. 
We just had a sweet man from Lebanon, who was raised Muslim, baptized.  Surprisingly, some of the Muslims we have taught and baptized seem to be drawn to Jesus Christ as the Savior.  It surprised me to learn that the name Jesus is mentioned 5 times more in the Quran than is the Prophet of Islam.   They always address Jesus with respect in their Book of God.  I wonder how hate for Christians and Jews got started.

Sweet story:  a 95 year old man ready to be baptized this next week has been attending the Gospel  Principles class.  He comes in with his walker and is not afraid to make comments. He has strong opinions.   Last week he told us a little more about himself.  He comes from a strong Methodist family.  We love Methodists.  They are good people.  When he was a young man trying to get a college education, his parents and grandparents at a great sacrifice,  gave him money to study in a religious school to be a Methodist Minister.  He loved it, but for some reason which he didn't explain, he failed and was not able to graduate.  He felt they were so disappointed in him and he never knew how to make it up to them.  His parents/grandparents were very good people.  They loved Jesus Christ.  He has been taught by the Elders for several months and even though he felt the spirit tell him this was the Lord's true church on earth, he couldn't bring himself to be baptized for a long time.  He felt it would be a slap in the face to his family whom he had already disappointed.  His parents and grandparents have all passed on of course, but he believes he will see them in the afterlife and worried how they would feel.    Finally,  he has accepted the invitation to be baptized and now feels that his family would probably accept the gospel in the next life because they were such good and honest people.    I am not sure how many more years this sweet man has here on earth, but it won't be long before he will meet them again and can teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ.....if they haven't already been taught.  Hearing him talk, I felt such gratitude for the Savior and his plan to give everyone a chance to hear the gospel and  give them the chance to have their baptism and other temple ordinances performed by proxies in the temples. 

Well, the weather has been mild the last few days!  Not  bad!  We hear about all the snow up north and are feeling blessed that we can still get out and do our missionary work.   It is mostly windy right now.

I just want to tell my grandchildren how much I love their letters!  I read them over and over.  Some of them seem to be growing up too fast.   Sweet Jennibelle sent me a stuffed pillow she had made and stapled together because she's too little to sew .   I will treasure it forever.   My daughter-in law, Jenn knows how much I love the bubble lights and sent me a bubble night light.  We love it!  We love getting pictures, videos shared on Facebook and Instagram and all your updates.  How blessed we are to have all this technology! 

We will celebrate Thanksgiving this year with at least 13 others.  I am not quite sure how I ended up being in charge of it.   It started out with just the 10 Senior Missionaries here (which included the President and his wife) and now we have added 5 other missionaries who have not been invited by their ward.  I know it will be enjoyable!  Feeling blessed! 

Happy Thanksgiving!  We love you all!  And we love our mission!  And we love our Heavenly Father and our Savior!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Baptisms and Cute Little Trucks

Baptisms and Cute Little Trucks   26 October and 2 November 2014 Mission Letter

It has been  kind of busy just catching up on all the work we got behind on when Shelleys were on medical leave.  There is a timeline that gets repeated every 6 weeks....all around transfers.  When one part gets behind it has a domino effect and we push to catch up.  Unfortunately for me, when we work a little faster or a lot longer I find I make mistakes.  Our President and his wife returned from a Mission Presidents Seminar with Elder Tom Perry and several other general authorities.  We will get a full report at our next Staff Meeting, but the little we have heard is the numbers will be going down.....for us we could go down to 200 missionaries in a year and they possibly will be realigning mission boundaries.  When we first arrived last December there were  close to 300 missionaries.  We have been slowly going down and are now at 267.  We have about 13 missionaries who have been released early, and are eligible to return.....a lot of medical.  The wave which the Brethren intentionally created by making several age groups eligible at once will even out.  Senior Missionary numbers are lower too.  We have lost 6 couples and only received two couples since we arrived.

Yesterday we helped the Shelleys move mission cars.  The Church replaces the cars when they reach 50,000 - 70,000 miles (depending on the car)and we  got 11 new cars.  We go help them move them from the dealer to our Stake Center  or office parking lot until they can get them out to the missionaries.  The dealer was in Ames, about 45 minutes away.   It makes me a little nervous driving  brand new Nissan Frontier trucks off the lot and into the Des Moines area traffic.  On the other hand I think I like that cute little truck.   

 Elder Stringham has been busy moving furniture from apartments to storage which requires driving a big trailer in the busy traffic and narrow roads. 

Elder Stringham is asked from time to time to help the Elders with teaching appointments.  One sweet man from Sudan was one of his favorites.  He is 40 years old, and has been a refugee here in the United States for 7 years.  Someone, awhile back, had given him a Book of Mormon which he kept in his car, or house, or brief case, but never threw away.   He had told them he was too busy and that he had to work a lot.  Then Elder Weiss and Elder Cleverley found him and talked to him about the Book of Mormon.  He remembered the one he had, found it and showed it to them.  He felt this was maybe a sign that he should listen and he did and was baptized last weekend.  He is very bright.  His is studying to become a U.S. citizen.  He is also very enthusiastic about the Pathways program of the church.  He has quite the personality.  When they mentioned his name in Sacrament Meeting he immediately stands up, looks around at the audience and waves.  He chose Elder Stringham to baptize him and that was special.  His first name is Ajeng and his last name is Ajeng.   He is one of those refugees that never knew his birth date so the Sudanese government assigns him the birthdate of January 1st and whatever year they think is the closest to when he was really they can issue him a passport.  He did not know his parents birth dates either.  The tribes in Africa  just didn't record such things.

I am not responsible for referrals, but I hear all about them.  Apparently there is a group that keep calling the church to send the missionaries over.  Sounds good, except these people are Satanists and once the missionaries are in the house they reveal who they really are.  Not good!  That won't happen again as long as the Shelleys are here.  

2 November 2014

Sweet story.  A member of our Bishopric told about one of the busiest Sundays he had had in a long time.  He had a lot of important meetings to attend.  One of those was supposed to be a meeting with a lady who had terminal cancer.  She had asked him to play the bagpipes, which she loved, at her funeral.  Her friends said, "Why wait till the funeral?"  So he made an appointment to play for her.  He ending up having Stake Choir Practice at the same time.  He chose to visit the lady with terminal cancer.  As he was playing for her he could tell how much she enjoyed it and he felt such a deep love for her and gratitude for this opportunity to serve her and the Spirit was strong in her home.  Later, as he thought of all the meetings he attended,  he said he felt that playing for her was the most important work he had done all day.    

It has been cold the last few days ... down at night to 24 degrees.  Daytime temps are still ok....40-60's.  All the corn fields have been harvested and cornstalks are being cut down ! 

Here in Iowa they celebrate Beggars Night on the 30th of October and Halloween on the 31st.  Didn't need to buy candy.  On Beggars Night, it was mostly over by the time we got home from the office and no one came to our door on Halloween.  In our apartment building you get a Halloween sign for your door if you want trick-or-treaters.  Not too many kids out in the freezing weather, but lots in the stores.

Love you all!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Office Life Is Easing Up

5 October 2014 Mission Letter 

It has been a great learning experience the past few weeks.  We are so grateful to have the Shelleys back.   I have learned lots.  First, that I can do more that I thought I could.  With the other Office Couple gone I was forced to do more and didn't have the time to write down everything I did as reference.  But, I did quite well and don't think I messed up much.  Second, that young people can do the work in half the time.  They had the young Sister Missionary  come by and do some of the office work that I couldn't get to.  So I gave them lots of stuff to copy and put in Welcome Packets, New Missionary Binders and Trainee/Trainer manuals.  I had them do enough to keep me going through the next two transfers.  They were so fast I had them do enough for 4 more transfers.  Anything that I had them do they just whizzed through.  So I am now set with a lot of things until next April.  Third, I appreciate Elder and Sister Shelley more than ever.  She is so sharp and good with all the telephone calls and he is always on top of the vehicles.  Also, they have a certain way with the young people and they are loved.  We did the crucial things, but I am afraid they came back to a pile of things to get caught up on.  I feel  we did quite well, considering the fact that we had the Mission Vision (newsletter) and a Baptism Video that were extra stuff for us to handle.  Also, the printer gave us trouble and the computer nearly crashed with all the pictures coming in through Outlook.  We couldn't send anything out for quite awhile one day.  But,  I really can't complain because I think I was extra blessed when I needed it the most.  Also, I've learned that I have quite a knack for investigating things.  I've learned how to process undocumented missionaries (and you know how confusing the government can make things)so they remain here legally, how to resolve  problems about missionaries before they even get here, and solve questions for Stake Presidents about issues that no one has a clue.  Maybe I should have been a private investigator instead of a nurse.  The APs love Elder Stringham and his computer knowledge.  They are always asking him to help them set things up on the computer.  He has simplified my "B" report which is a big deal specific to this mission.  Well enough bragging.  Better be care about pride.  Like our Mission President said, "we have a whole Book of Mormon about such a thing."

In making the Baptism DVD, I saw pictures of all those individuals whose baptismal record I submitted to Church HQ.  That was a special treat for me!  One that particularly touched me was of a young Russian couple.  Sweet story.  Many months ago they were approached by a couple of Sister Missionaries.  She was quite interested, but her husband was not so they stopped having the missionary lessons.  One of the Sister Missionaries who taught them was transferred and  after 6 months in another area, was transferred back to Clinton, IA.  She was not happy.  That meant that she would probably spend her whole mission in only 2 cities.  She complained...more than once.   The Mission President told her that he considered several times of putting elsewhere, but that the feeling was strong that she needed to go back to Clinton, IA.   She did, grudgingly.  The first thing she did was to look up this Russian couple.  They were so excited to see her and did not know how to get in touch with the missionaries.  The husband was ready to learn more.  They were re taught all the lessons and were baptized.  Their new ward loved them.  This next transfer this Sister Missionary and the Russian Couple will leave Clinton, Iowa.  The Sister Missionary goes home and the couple are returning to Russia.  The Lord knows where you should be at any given time and if you heed that prompting,  your life will go as He planned which will bring you the most joy and peace.

On Friday, the missionaries were privileged to see the "Meet the Mormons" movie that will soon be out in theaters.  It is delightful.  It will make you laugh, but bring some tissue with you, too! 
I am very grateful for medical reasons that I am in this Mission.  There are a lot of Med schools around and I think I found a great doctor who will treat my liver and gluten problems.  About 10 days ago I had routine endoscopy and US and all is well.....except for one tiny little issue with varices.  But, this doctor knows of a new procedure to treat them and it is supposed to be very noninvasive. 

We love our Mission President and his wife.  They are great with the youth!  They know how to show them love.  Even those of us in the office get little "love notes" left on our computer or little gifts with Thank You notes.  President Jensen is the best speaker and we laugh and cry in each of his talks.

Us with President and Sister John Jensen

Well, we need to get ready for General Conference!  So much to learn from our Prophet and the Apostles and the other great men who serve the people of this Church! 

We love you all so much!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Late Nights at the Office

Late Nights At the Office
14 September 2014

Hardly know where to begin.  Just when we thought we had a good handle on our jobs things kind of turned upside down.  First, our Mission Tour with a General Authority got postponed .... less than  a couple of weeks before it was scheduled.  That means cancellations and rescheduling of buildings, planning a last minute Zone Conference.  We are losing a lot of Senior Couple with no replacements. 

Second, we have had quite a few medical releases of our missionaries.  One of them was required to be escorted home and so Elder Stringham needed to take a little day trip.  Left at 6:00 am and returned at 10:00 pm......had only enough time between flights to grab a package of trail mix to eat.  Bedbugs in some of the apartments.  The Church spends a lot of money in this mission for exterminators.  Parents calling with concerns. 

Our other Sr. Office Couple had an emergency medical problem.  The Elder has had heart problems since he got here (actually had a heart attack and open heart surgery while on their first mission) and they up and drove home to Utah to his own doctor.  Don't know how long they will be gone.  So we are trying to handle the office on our own.  Elder Stringham walks between his computer and the vehicle computer trying to keep up on the most crucial things!  We have spent several late nights just trying to catch up and get it all done.   They have another Sr. Couple coming into the office for a couple of hours a day to do mail.  That is a big help!   Can I just tell you how much missionaries love mail!!!!!!!  From anyone and everyone....a long letter to a postcard or little card!!!

Occasionally, I take a break from the computer, check my personal messages on my phone and take a peek at Facebook.  I love that when our little Jackson has a procedure done I can get a text before it starts and right after with all the updates and pictures. I love seeing what all the families were doing on their family vacations!  And all the "first day of school" pictures!  I love technology!!  (Well.... except when I need to use it in the office and it gives me grief!)   We are happy to be busy!  I think it keeps us young!

The mission is still doing well in their missionary work.  Lots of converts.  That means I have a lot of baptisms reports to submit to Church HQ. 

We have a sweet older man move into our ward who joined the church when he was about 13 while he was living with a foster family.  He loved this family.  He stopped going to church when he left the family to move out on his own.  He moved to the Phillipines  and got married.  He is retired and has moved back to the United States and waiting for his wife to get all the requirements done to be able to immigrate here.  He decided he wanted to come back to church.  He got a little emotional talking about his foster family and how much love he felt in their home.  There is so much he is still learning!  He wants to progress in his Priesthood responsibilities and go to the temple.   His wife is a member of another faith, but he still felt drawn to come back to "his" church.  Hopefully his wife will be here in the United States soon.

21 September 2014
Well, we received the update on our other Sr. Couple.  It was not what they hoped for.  Because of the damage done the doctors cannot do angioplasty or splint.  They will be trying new medications.  They reevaluate after two weeks.  How I miss them!  I don't think I realized how much time she spent on the phone with missionaries, their parents, referrals, people from the community.  I guess I will be figuring out how to order supplies now, too.  And they are so fun with the missionaries!!  

All of the work for the cars have been put on hold!  Yesterday another Senior Couple dropped by and he said he knows a lot about cars and is comfortable with computers.....I will definitely let the Mission President know about that!  

I also got a little behind on my work.  Two Sister Missionaries called yesterday morning and offered to come help if we needed.  I asked them how soon could they get to the office.  In two hours they accomplished  so much for me and were so fun to have around.  The Lord is seeing that we have the help that we need.....reminds me whose work this is.  We will be using some Elders to help us unpack and stock the new supplies and clean up an apartment that we are closing. 

One of the hardest things about being away on a mission is that people I know and love are suddenly called to the other side.  I feel sad that I will not see long time friend and grandpa to some of our grandkids, Neal Kidd; sweet Keenan Galloway who was such an example of Christ-like spirit  and who was always smiling; and brother-in-law, Rob Campbell whose family had entertained the Stringhams for a day or two on our yearly trips to Idaho.  We have such fond memories of him.  Now, I have just learned that my Uncle George Conley has passed away!  I'm sort of reeling with the thought that so many I care for are now in the next life!  This is when I feel that Iowa is soooo far away!

Well, the weather in Iowa has been absolutely perfect.   Sunshine and blue skies, temperatures mild, and just enough rain from time to time to keep everything green.  It is beautiful here. 

Sorry to be so late on this letter.  It was just kind of pieced together a little at a time.

We love everyone!!