Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas is all around.

Christmas is getting closer.  Everyone is busy rushing around to decorate their homes, and buying the perfect gift for their loved ones.  I hope everyone of you who read this blog have taken 2 minutes to watch the wonderful video "He is the Gift" posted on:
It is a very special experience and will bring the true meaning of Christmas into your holiday.
The missionaries in the Tennessee Nashville Mission have been handing out pass-along cards to all they meet to encourage everyone to view the video.
This picture on the left is from a Nativity Festival that the Clarksville Kentucky Stake put on last weekend (Dec 5th, 6th and 7th). This first picture is by a local photographer in the ward,  Isn't it lovely? They had one room dedicated to art work....all extraordinary. We happened to be in Clarksville delivering a couple of study tables and an I-Pad to the missionaries there.  We stopped by the church and found this festival.  I was blown away.  I will attach a couple more pictures
so you could get the feel of it.
This is the 5th year for this festival.  We had the opportunity to speak to the area public affairs director, Rosemarie Kline, who has headed up this effort since it began.  She told us of her struggle to get other churches to join in with the LDS Church in this activity.  Finally after 4 years, this year they have some choral groups coming to share their music. As you will see in the other pictures, they had the large cultural hall filled with about 150 nativities and a live nativity on the stage.  The animals  were large painted cutouts....(which I adored).  They used to have the live nativity outside until one year when they almost froze to death.
The picture above is one of the rooms they furnished for that period.

Isn't this picture beautiful.  Sorry for the light spot....I tried with several shots, but I was unable to get rid of it.  You can see from the texture that it is on canvas,
Here is the best idea (well one of the best) that I saw.  They drew this picture on a large chalkboard and invited children to draw their own star in the sky.
The festival was a hit.  The evening before we were there they had about 650 people come.  They had the front page article in the community section of the newspaper.  One of the high school choral groups came and sang the entire "Messiah" while people looked through the wonderfulness of this festival.  On Sunday evening they showed the Church's Christmas Devotional while people came.
On our way to Clarksville we got to catch lunch with one of my favorite missionaries and his companion....Elder Hansen and Elder Peery.  Elder Hansen in on a bike now.  Well, 50% of the time....they share a car with some other Elders.  It is cold (Well, I think it is cold).  He is missing Pikeville.

Last Thursday and Friday we had Zone Conferences.  One in Hopkinsville (about 1 1/2 hours north into Kentucky).  We had a visiting Authority from Salt Lake City so we were on our good behavior. (when are we not?)  He was super and inspired us all.  Thursday evening we met with him again back in the office in
Brentwood.  He spoke with each of the office staff and thanked us profusely for our service.  During his talk during the daytime session he told us and the missionaries that there is a reason we are in Tennessee-Nashville Mission.  We were sent here by prophecy.  If we don't know why, we have a right to know why and we should pray until we have that answer and then we should write it down.  I do know why I am here and why I am in the office.  Someday I will tell you.  I have received that knowledge.
Elder Dunn just received that knowledge this week and he feels very comfortable with it.  But he does still miss his pickup truck.
These sisters are Sister Tagilala (Olimaipa Suzanne Viladai Tagilala) and Sister Tangataolakepa (Munaloto-Ki-Waikato Anglique Lupeeva Tuifua Tangataolakepa).  Say that 3 times fast.  Sister Tagilala has the softest hair. She is quite a bit shorter than me so I love to go over and lay my head on her hair.  She is one of my favorites.
Anyway, On Friday we had our second zone meeting in Mulfreesboro Tennessee (1 hour south of the office).  We (the office staff who attends both meetings) heard the same talks again......but they were so different in many ways.  The missionaries participate a lot in the discussions during the meeting.  Elder Renlund (a member of the 70s) is inspiring and funny.  He was a cardiologist and his wife an attorney.  They are both great.  That evening we had a dinner at the mission home for all the senior missionaries in the mission with Elder Renlund.
 Some of the seniors had hours of travel in order to get home after the dinner; but it was so fun and I
really have found a new sisterhood with a couple of these ladies.
On the lighter side, we ran into 3 of the most unusual Salvation Army bell ringers at the local
Wal-Mart Store.Who knew that you could be a bell ringer and also a Ghost Buster, a Storm Trooper or whatever the other guy is.  I guess the South is not much different than Hollywood where I grew up.  There were also wierd people walking the streets there too.
Today we had Stake Conference (the meeting of 7-8 Wards or congregations).  The Nashville Stake does not have a Stake Building; neither do several other Stakes around here.  They hold their Stake Conference in the MUSIC CITY CENTER in downtown Nashville.  It is large and beautiful, but we had one of the smaller theaters.  Dean Davies was a visiting authority for that.  He is in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.  He used to be in charge of finding and securing the land for temples.
 He told Elder Dunn and I that he was involved in selecting Ina Road for the temple site. He said just late this last week they got the interior plans for that temple okayed by the city.  He wouldn't tell me what the outside will look like.  We have had such a busy week.....and one that was exciting and very sacred to us.  We learned a lot and our testimonies of Jesus Christ has grown even stronger.  Didn't think that could happen.  We are so lucky to be here.  I wish each one of you could experience the joys that we feel each day while we work with these wonderful missionaries.  They are amazing.
This next week will be another great week because........Monday is December 15th........the day to make sure the rent is paid!!!  I am ready.
One more thing.  We bought a new GPS for the car!  It is a long story, but if you know me very well you have already guessed that it is because I got lost.....again.  This time major lost in the dark with Elder Dunn waiting at a car dealership,  Ask Emilee...she will tell you.

We love you all!  We think of you so often and laugh at some of the good times we have had with each of you.  Do we look tired?  Well, most days we are!  But we are so happy!  We wish that same happiness to all of you!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How did December get here so fast?

Here it is the 6th day of December and I am still in August.  Well....except it isn't hot, but my brain says that we have not been in Tennessee for 5 months; but my body says we have been here longer.  How could one body get so tired so fast?  But don't read into that the idea that we don't love what we are doing.....well, most days.  I will tell you about my last 2 weeks and then you will understand.
Have you ever had a job that was challenging to learn, but finally you think you are on top of it.....only to find out you really are not.  That is a humbling experience.
My responsibility involves setting up new apartments for missionaries (both senior and young ones), including utilities etc; paying the rent for those apartments (all 140 of them)  and the utilities; being sure the missionaries are funded each month (they get a whole $125/mo...sisters $135...try living on that!); paying all other misc. bills for the office.  Also I get to talk to the Elders/Sisters who have lost their debit cards (that hold their $125) or have ruined them by some really remarkable means; or explaining to those who are sure their account balance is wrong that really you can nickle and dime yourself into debt.  This month many of the missionaries have decided to play 'chinese fire drill' where they all run out of their apartments and decide they need a new one.  The other day in the period of 1 hour I had 3 missionary companionships call to say they have found a new apartment and would I hurry and make the arrangements.  Are you kidding me? No!  To be fair, the President has asked many of them to find new apartments for diverse reasons.
I am really not complaining......well, a little maybe.  But the last 2 weeks have been challenging.  Isn't that why we go on be challenged?
Anyway, back to finding out that you really don't know your job.  When rents are to be paid there is a process I have have to go through to submit the order to pay.  I had a question about the procedure so I called Salt Lake and asked obviously a person who thought they knew their job, but didn't.  Because of that information I didn't submit the order to pay when it was due.  Only 1 week later did I realize that the rents where not paid.  Now that was about November 25th....which would have been in time if the checks were written in Tennessee....however, they come from Salt Lake.
Now....there is a gospel doctrine that says if you repent of your sins the Savior's atonement will cover you.  Obviously that does not work quickly or does not cover dumb moves in paying the rent.  I have atoned for that sin for the last week.  140 telephone calls from landlords who did not receive their rent payment on the 1st.  The thing is, the rent is usually paid about 10 days early, so they are really expecting that check the week before the 1st.  When it doesn't come they are sure it is lost in the mail. I have developed a whole dialogue in explaining how sorry I is my fault not the churchs' can take my picture and throw darts at it is you please....but please forgive me.  Then I include MERRY CHRISTMAS ....just to remind them it is the season to forgive.  Other than that......things are great in Nashville.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at the Mission Home with the President and Sister Anderson, all the office staff (6 of us) 2 young missionaries who serve in the Young Singles Branch (who find it difficult to feed them....or most went home for Thanksgiving), and one other fellow.  All the senior missionaries brought side dishes to compliment the wonderful turkey Sister Andersen prepared.  This picture is everyone (but me) at the long table.
Elders Majzer, Peterson (who took his bridge for his front teeth out...just for fun because he came late and didn't eat with us) , Danielson (who came late), Pres & Sis Andersen, Elder Moore.  Love them all!
Sister Godfrey (the nicest woman in the world), the daughter of the Huntzingers, who are standing next to her, Joe Booker, The Dunns and Sister Crawford who they always seem to position in front of Darryl so she will look even shorter.

This is my plate of food.....doesn't it look good?  Notice the wonderful yams and apples in the upper left-hand side.....yummy!  Then there was a selection of many different pies.  We actually tasted a genuine minchmeat pie.   I prefer pumpkin.  
Which reminds me....I made some of my famous (notorious) lime jello with avocados and grapefruit salad a couple of weeks ago and took it into the office.  The seniors all really liked it.  The 2 young elders tasted it one put it......I won't be eating that again.  I guess it is a generational thing!
Today is Saturday so it is our day to play.  The Assistants are letting us use their truck again so we are driving to Clarksville TN to deliver ipads, then to Hendersonville (where the Oakridge Boys have their office.....just a note for interest) to deliver some packages, and to White House TN to deliver a rent check to a woman who couldn't wait.  I may have to include some flowers for her.  
Next week we have 2 zone conferences to go in Hopkinsville KY and another in Murfreesboro TN. We will have a General Authority from S.L. visiting (Elder Renlund) and he will also interview us.  Then about 2 weeks later we have another transfers day when we will be saying goodbye to some missionaries and saying welcome to some new ones.....including Joanne Hendrick's nephew (I think it is a nephew).  We are excited about that.  
And believe me.....on Demember 15th....I WILL BE PAYING THE RENT!

Love you all and wish you great success in your holiday plans.  Hurry up and get that Christmas tree up.....and don't forget the Nativity.  Be sure to go to and watch the wonderful videos on 
"He is the Gift".  There are a bunch of videos there.

Love you all!