Sunday, December 30, 2012

Finally! December 30, 2012

Well, what can I say? I'm a flake for sure! We have been busier than a 16-year old with a new car!!!! I'm just going to start posting pictures and talk about them.

You'd think that this sign would some how be associated with our mission, right? But, no. It is posted at the end of the driveway of a church in Bedford NH. But it is such a cool sign, I'm going to pretend that it belongs to us!!

The Bedford Town Hall is just down the street from the Mission Field sign. Bedford was established in 1750 and this building sits on top of the hill with many other buildings of the town.

Thanksgiving Day we worked in the office. Got a lot done since we were there alone most of the day. We came home and had soup! We got to talk with our kids so that made it a really special and different Thanksgiving for us.

On Sunday, December 23 (Joseph Smith's and Diann Hokanson's birthdays) we were invited to a Nepali wedding by Suk. She is from Nepal and being taught by 2 of our Elders. She is about 44 years old and just the nicest lady you would want to meet. Her husband is still in Nepal and should be arriving in the US in about 6 more months. She has had us over for dinner twice--first time was goat meat and second time was mostly vegetable dishes. Anyway, we arrived at her apartment, and it was crammed with relatives--wall to wall. When we got there (Elder B, 2 Sisters, 2 Elders, and myself) it was standing room only. The bride (Suk's daughter) and groom were seated on the sofa and everyone else found room around them.

You can see the red dish on the table? That is sticky rice and food coloring. The relatives say things to the couple, paste the rice on their foreheads, and give them gifts or put cash in the grooms hand. All the while there is loud Nepali music going on all over the apartment. I took a video of many of the guests dancing with Suk including the Sister missionaries who really looked like they knew what they were doing. I got up and participated, but I sure didn't take a picture of myself doing that!

The little 5-year old on the left is Suk's niece, Shearyea, pronounced like sheedia. She loves to come to church with Suk, and she just loves Primary. She is one of the happiest little girls I have seen in a long time. She's happy about everything and so good natured. And she loves dark chocolate! Needless to say we have bonded.

This is Suk and Shearyea at Stake Conference. Shearyea sat very quiet the whole 2 hours, so when there was about 45 minutes to go, I gave her a Dove chocolate and and wipe! She loved it.

After attending the Nepali wedding, we and the four missionaries drove to Bishop and Sister Dickson's home for a prime rib dinner that was delicious. I have to admit though that I think Elder Hatch has a hollow leg. I couldn't believe how many kielbasas he put away. And that was part of the appetizer! Then he ate dinner. And all of that was only 2 hours after the Nepali wedding lunch!!!!

Christmas morning we picked up our 4 missionaries and drove to Deerfield NH for Christmas breakfeast (sic) with the Lahr family in our ward. They do this every year. We were so fortunate to be there. They had sausage, bacon, french toast, cinnamon rolls, yogurt, and juice. They gave each missionary a stocking with goodies in it. So sweet of them. They have 3 children, Elizabeth 17, Eric 14, who looks like Hoss from Bonanza, and Jake who is 8. They live the farthest out in the ward. Brother Lahr has a transmission repair business and said that he is keeping very busy because he pays his tithing. Great family.

Christmas Day after Skyping and FaceTiming with most of our children and grandchildren, we went to President and Sister Wilkey's home for an 8-course French dinner. There were 12 of us--Wilkey's, Stake President Anderson, his wife, and two children, Elder and Sister DeLoach (senior couple doing records preservation in Concord NH) and 2 sister missionaries, and ourselves. It was great and delicious fun. President Anderson's 17-year old daughter, Mary Alice, played a beautiful arrangement of Silent Night on her violin. We chatted and talked about the Savior and his love and left all warm and fuzzy. It was a wonderful day!

December 27 was the first big snowfall and the next day there was even more snow. We are not supposed to get anymore snow for about a week. We are amazed how the plow trucks just stay busy and keep all the streets clear. Almost every house has a snow blower. On the way to church this morning, many people where out clearing their sidewalks and driveways. Normal course of events here in New England in the winter.

It is hard to believe that we have been out on our mission for 11 months already. Time is flying by. Salt Lake is sending us a bunch of new missionaries. Many of the Elders are 18 and some of the Sisters are 19. We are excited to have them come here. We have been very busy making preparations for them. Elder Benjamin is scouting out new apartments in all three states, and I have been doing all the paper work for 32 new arriving missionaries over the next 3 months. Wow, it is fun though. We love staying busy serving the Lord here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3, 2012

After President Monson's announcement about the age option of missionaries at General Conference last month, a lot has been happening here in New England. President Wilkey told us that we will be getting ready for about 80 to 90 new missionaries after the first of the year. Now I know why I have been organizing and streamlining all the paperwork for incoming missionaries. There will not be one dull moment in our office! Elder Benjamin will be finding new apartments and furnishing them. Elder Davis will be dealing with new cars and cell phones. And Sister Davis will be stocking more supplies and filling more orders. She also takes care of new referrals and baptism records. I really like my job cause I get in with the new and out with the old!!!! I'm also happy to tell all of you that my 66-year old brain works just great!

Zone Conferences are Nov 12 and 14. Elder Nash of the Seventy will be visiting. You may remember that he spoke in the October General Conference. There are lots of grooming protocols for the missionaries when a General Authority visits. Everyone will be all polished and shined. We decided on sack lunches for the zone conferences and we have to stick to 30 minutes from start to cleanup. Zone Conference is very nice for all the missionaries including the seniors. The two wards take care of everything so we don't have to prep and serve and cleanup. We get to eat and partake of the spirit and not worry about how everything is coming along in the kitchen.

Six really good missionaries went home last month. We loved them all and will miss them here, but we already know that they are moving on in their lives. We sure wish them the best!

We weathered Hurricane Sandy without any problems. The electricity stayed on here in our apartment and in the office. We put in some extra food in case we lost power, but thank goodness we didn't lose the power. Thursday we visited a sister with the Elders. She is inactive and has to work on Sundays so she can't come to church. She was baptized in 2006 in the other ward here and the church just lost her. We see that a lot here. The RS pres made out the visiting teaching routes a couple of weeks ago. This is how it went: An active sister gets a route with 2 active sisters on it and about 6 to 8 inactive sisters. The VTer visits the 2 active ones every month and then has to play detective to find out what has happened to the inactive sisters. The ward is so spread out-probably about like Woodland Ward. Last Sunday Sacrament Meeting started with about 10 people in the chapel and that included the bishopric, pianist, and chorister! The meetings here always start about 5 to 10 minutes late. The mission is stressing "real growth." Baptizing people who will stay active. It's a challenge here, but we're working on it.

We are so happy for Lexie! She got her mission call to Australia Sydney! She is so excited. She checks into the MTC on Wed., March 13. That will be a switch for her. She works in the MTC cafeteria and has been serving the missionaries for about a year. So now they get to serve her!!!!! There were about 30 of us on FaceTime and Skype and the telephone watching her open her call letter. Here is a picture of her call letter.

We love you all and miss you. We are half way done with our mission and from what we understand and knowing that we will be busier than ever, the next half will fly by and we will be home before you know it. Be happy and safe and stay true!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13, 2012

We have been busy getting ready for transfers next week. There are 12 new missionaries coming in and 6 going home. We work for 4 straight weeks getting all the paper work and processing done. Then the new ones get here and we take a week to process them in. We have another week to recoup and then we start all over again. It is great work and we enjoy it thoroughly. We feel like it is our contribution to moving the Gospel along in New England. The people here are great. Very standoffish until you get to know them and then you have friends for life. On the sad side--two more missionaries have gone home. One because he said he was "done" after three months here and one for a repentance issue. It is very hard on us when a missionary has to go home. We are excited about the new option from President Monson for 18-year old Elders and 19-yr old Sisters. They don't have to go at that early age, but they do have the option to if they want. We are so proud of Alexis for starting the process the day after the announcement!!! Way to go Lexie! Wouldn't it be great if they sent her here? We would love it and she said she would love it too!!

General Conference was wonderful. I may be partial, but my 8th cousin, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, was absolutely dynamite! He makes me want to get up and get going. I love his talks. I came across this the other day and thought that each one of these could add meaning to a person's life. Or they could make a fantastic Sacrament Meeting talk.

Faith is the power.
Love is the motive.
Obedience is the price.
The spirit is the key.
The restoration is the message.
The members are the means.
Christ is the reason.
Baptism is the way.
Joy is the reward.

Last Saturday we drove up the Kancamagus highway to see the leaves in color. I guess the peak was the week before. So we headed south and found lots of color still there. So beautiful when the sun is shining on the trees. Takes your breath away. Heavenly Father sure has created a gorgeous world for us to live in, especially in America.

We are well and happy and consider ourselves lucky to be able to serve a mission now. Thank you to all our family and friends for supporting us in this time of our lives. We are so very grateful. We love you all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012

I has been an interesting couple of weeks. Seven new elders arrived on September 3rd and on the 18th they and their trainers attended the new missionary training. The 4 elders from July 23 and their trainers also attended. The senior couples go over to the Manchester Chapel and set up lunch, eat, and then clean up and go back to the office. I get to have fun at lunch because I bring the mail in. After I eat I walk among the tables and call out the missionary's name and let them all know who got the most letters or the biggest box. They all seem to love it, even the ones who don't get any mail that day.

On the 12th I went to the doc for teeth cleaning to find that one of my fillings next to a crown had fallen out and of course, the only way to fix it is to remove the crown and get a new one. Well, it's a lot more expensive here in New England. At home about $1100 and here $1600. Ouch!!! My haircuts cost more here also. Eleni, I sure do miss your wonderful haircuts at home. And getting a pedicure here is a feat in itself. If you want a full spa pedi it's $60. I can get the same thing and a much better job at home for $25. I miss my shop at home, Nails 4 U. Oh well, on October 23rd we will be at the half-way mark of our mission. I can hold out till we get home.

I ordered a new iPhone 5 and it should be here this week. I'm excited for all the cool stuff it can do that my iPhone 4 can't. Especially Siri. I downloaded the new iOS6 on my iPad3 and now I have Siri on that. It is so fun to tell her what I want her to do! I love bossing her around!

Today is Kaydence's 2nd birthday. Diana and Ian and Payton drove down from Idaho Falls to Pleasant Grove for the weekend. We FaceTimed yesterday and Kaydence was having a great time opening presents. She's really into princess books, so we gave here "Princess of the Potty."

My 66th birthday was so nice. I loved hearing from all my kids and friends. When I got into the office on Monday, the Assistants (Elders Esplin and Baker) had decorated with a princess motif. The poster on the door said, "Happy Birthday Princess." I had a really good laugh over that. Sister Davis made a delicious carrot cake for me with candles (only 8 cause we didn't want to have to call in the fire marshall) and everything. Great day.

Tomorrow is Mom Kent's 85th birthday. And her sister, Barbara's 84th birthday is on Wednesday. Both of them are in poor health now. They are such wonderful people and I love them both.

Yesterday, I finally got around to start knitting Leona's Mitered Jacket. It will be a long project since I don't get much time to knit-mostly on Preparation Day on Saturdays. Here are a couple of shots of the start of the jacket.

Today at church we had a talk from Brother Nimmo who is on the High Council. His talk was about prophets. One thing that really snapped me to attention was what he said about President Hinckley--The story goes like this: Someone met President Hinckley and said, "Oh, President Hinckley, you will be remembered for building so many temples." And Pres. Hinckley said, "No, I will be remembered for the prophet that no one listened to." Wow, that really hit me and made me want to go back and read all that he has counseled us to do. It would be a great exercise for all of us.

We had another missionary leave the mission. Really, I don't know the details, but some of the ones who have gone home have said that they just can't cut it any longer. I remember when Elder Ballard announced that the bar had been raised and that only worthy young men should apply for a mission. After 2 years here, President Wilkey has seen 36 missionaries go home for health and worthiness and laziness reasons. So I guess my counsel to young men is that they should not bother applying for a mission if they have any doubts about being able to cut it and keep the schedule and forget about all the distractions at home. Sometimes I think that some youth are pushed out on a mission by their parents when the youth isn't ready or mature enough to go. He or she needs to gain a strong testimony of the restored gospel and the Savior before they even apply. I really do feel very sorry for those who go through all the interviews, apply, go to the MTC, arrive in the mission, get trained for 12 weeks, and then say, "I don't want to do this anymore. I'm done." I just don't understand it.

We are getting ready for fall here. The temp is dropping down to a high of 60 and some of the leaves are changing already. We have a couple more weeks to go before we really see all that beautiful color. I can hardly wait.

All our love to our children, grandchildren, siblings, Dad and Mom Benjamin, nephews, nieces, and all family and friends.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012 After Transfers and some before

We just finished transfers! We received 7 new Elders on Monday, and three Elders and three Sisters went home on Wednesday. Elder Benjamin and I really enjoy transfer meeting. All of the missionaries who are going home bear their testimonies. President Wilkey has them talk about one thing at the podium--On my mission I learned this one golden truth that will change who I am forever. We always cry when we hear these testimonies. The spirit is so strong. Dad/Grandpa starts the tears coming before the first missionary starts talking! Three sister missionaries that I have gotten close to went home. We took a lot of pictures and promised to keep in touch.

We went to the Boston Temple with the returning missionaries.

I'll just post some pictures that we took there with my iPad!!!!

Angel's Trumpets at the Boston Temple.

Sisters Wilkey, Horton, Benjamin, and Huntsman at the Boston Temple

Sisters Wilkey, Horton, Benjamin, and Huntsman

Elder Benjamin and Elder Ward

What are they doing?

President and Sister Wilkey with Elder Tirrell Ward

President and Sister Wilkey with Elder Stephen Adams

Davises, Benjamins, President Wilkey, and his assistants, Elders Sommerfeldt & Esplin

Elder John Sommerfeldt and Elder Kaleb Esplin (Assistants) eating Diana's Creamy Mushroom Chicken and Rice, and Watermelon.

President's Assistants like candy!!!! Elders Esplin and Baker

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2, 2012 Bar Harbor Maine

We just got home from a 2-day trip to Ellsworth, Maine to pick up 2 missionaries and take one to Damariscotta, Maine and the other back here to Manchester, New Hampshire. Since it is a 5-hour trip each way we left yesterday and drove up Highway 1 along the Maine coast. The weather was gorgeous, and since it was Labor Day weekend, we ended up bumper-to-bumper in a few coast towns like York, Maine and Kennebunkport, Maine. We spent last night at our favorite motel in Bar Harbor (mainly cause there were not any other vacancies)-- the Bar Harbor Motel. We went to dinner at the Union River Lobster Pot and had some really delicious clam chowder and Maine blueberry pie. This morning we attended church at the Ellsworth Maine Branch. The attendance was low because of holiday weekend, but the building is very nice and so were the members. A sister I sat with in Relief Society said that everyone has about 3 callings. One thing that was said in the lesson was "Families first because families last." I like that!

Here is a picture of the moon over Bar Harbor. So pretty.

It was Fast Sunday today so we bought some cheese and crackers and bananas last night and broke our fast with the 2 Elders in the car. It was a beautiful ride home.

Tomorrow we are receiving seven new Elders from the MTC. Tuesday is a large Transfer meeting (about 110) and a trip to the Boston Temple. Then on Wednesday we have 4 missionaries returning home. And then it starts all over again in 6 weeks.

Well this is a short one. We love all our kids, grandkids, and friends. And we are so sad to lose Bishop Driver, but we are already in love with Bishop Heath.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012 First Disappointment

Today was to be Tanya's and Josiah's baptisms. They passed their baptism interviews with the Zone Leaders just fine last Saturday. We picked them up for church last Sunday as usual and everything was good except that Tanya told us that her boyfriend, Eric, had gotten on the internet and told her some anti-mormon stuff that he found there--like we have horns and tails and that we were going to change her name and junk like that. We assured her that what he was reading was garbage, and we had a good Sabbath with her and Josiah. Tuesday she was supposed to meet with the Elders and Elder Benjamin, and she wasn't there. We have been calling all week. Finally when Elder Benjamin couldn't get her to return calls or texts, he got permission for one of the Elders who taught her (but he got transferred) to call her. She returned his second call and said that she hadn't been feeling well and that Eric was in the hospital. We haven't heard from her since. She has not returned any calls from any of us, nor does she answer her door. So two Sister missionaries and I dropped by to pick her up for church this morning and no answer. So we just don't know what to think. We are praying for her and hope that there is some really good explanation besides a very negative one. Eric asked her why she was giving up things she likes to do--like smoking, coffee, and him! She asked him to meet with the Elders and he did once, but he didn't seem very receptive. Eric's son who is 11 sat in on the discussion and said that he wanted to be baptized, too. Well, anyway, we were very disappointed that the baptisms didn't happen today. We hope to hear from Tanya about all this.

On a little happier note: We and 2 Elders took Tanya and Josiah to the Joseph Smiith Birthpace Memorial two weeks ago. Had a wonderful time with them and they loved the spirit of the place.

Josiah loves Primary (he is 8 but looks bigger) and loves to read the Book of Mormon. Last Sunday he was at church with a white shirt and tie. He looked so spiffy.

Paul sent me this picture of Ryker and Kaydence. Paul called it "The General and His Homey!" I laughed forever!!!! Thanks Paul for that one.

Tony and Annette and all 5 of their children were here for a visit. It was so good to see them and to see someone that we are related to! We took them to the JSM as well and had a nice picnic there, looked around, then drove back to Manchester for dinner and ice cream at the world famous Puritan Chicken restaurant. They have the absolute best chocolate almond frozen yogurt!! Everyone loved dinner and the ice cream. Sunday they all came to church with us and then here in our little apartment for a cozy spaghetti dinner and more ice cream. It was wonderful. I guess I got a little homesick after they left, but I'm back on track again.

Zone Conferences this week on Tuesday in South Royalton, Vermont and Thursday in Augusta, Maine. Such fun to be with all the missionaries.

Bye for now. We love you all--children, grandchildren, parents, and friends.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It has been a crazy week with 4 new elders arriving on Monday, transfer Tuesday, 2 returning home, and New Missionary Training on Wednesday. The Boston Temple had been closed for 2 weeks for remodel and cleaning, so we were fortunate to go to the temple on the day it opened back up--Tuesday. It was a wonderful time with an endowment session, dinner at the temple afterward, and hugs and "I love you" from the Elders going home. Elder Brown wants to be a teacher and thanked me for some advice I had given him a couple of months before on his education and future. He asked for my email address so he can keep in touch. He's a wonderful young man and has a beautiful singing voice. He loves children and will be an awesome teacher. I am so glad I got to serve a mission with him for even a few months. I see great things coming from him in his future. Elder Todd also went home. He wants to be a chef. He wanted to make some garlic chicken for us before he left, but it didn't work out. I would have loved to taste that chicken.

Sister Davis and I spend a lot of time getting meals ready to feed the missionaries. On Mondays she and I do a lunch for the office staff including President, his 2 assistants, and the two office couples. It is fun on Monday after the lunch to be talking about what we are going to prepare for next Monday's lunch. Last Monday we had Diana's and Annette's Creamy Chicken over rice that I made. Sister Davis brought in frosted fudge brownies with ice cream and watermellon. Yummy. The Assistants are bottomless pits for sure, but we love to feed them. Our motto: When it's gone, it's gone! Next Monday Sister Davis is making lasagne and I'm making caesar salad with Kortni's mom's cesar salad dressing. I'm also bringing a fruit salad of mellons and fixings for maple syrup milkshakes per request from Elder Baker, the new assistant. Elder Sommerfeldt, who was made an assistant two days before we got here, got transferred to Maine to train one of the new missionaries. I sure will miss him. He is so much fun and likes to try to scare me--usually it doesn't work!!! Here is a picture of him with me and Elder B and Elder Esplin. Elder Sommerfeldt is the second from right. He wants to be a heart surgeon and go into business with two other returned missionaries--one wants to be an orthopedic surgeon, and the other wants to be a brain surgeon. So I came up with an acronym of HOBs which stands for Heart-Ortho-Brain surgeons. Elder Sommerfeldt loved it!!!!

Also, the Manchester sisters get to come in the office about once a week. We love having them visit. Sister Chantry had to answer the phone for me one day for about an hour and has now decided to be a receptionist when she gets home from her mission. Sister Huntsman is always upbeat and happy to be around. I love both of these Sisters. Here is a photo of me with Sister Davis, Sister Huntsman, Me, and Sister Chantry.

I took a picture of the letter and bracelet that Sister Windley sent to me after she had to go home early from her mission here with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It is possible for her to recover from this illness, but it will take some time. The Lord gave her a reprieve from it before she got on the airplane with her mother to fly home and then after she got home she had a relapse of numbness on her body. Our prayers are with her every day.

Tanya and her son, Josiah, have moved their baptisms back two weeks so that Josiah can get all the lessons in before he is baptized. Elder Benjamin and the two Manchester Elders are teaching them both. We are going to take all of them to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, Vermont next Saturday. We are looking forward to that as are Tanya, Josiah, and the Elders. It should prove to be a very nice day.

We are having a great time working with President and Sister Wilkey. We sure do love them. They never rest however. Go, go, go. Some nights President only gets about 4 hours of sleep. So we in the office try to do as much for them as they are willing to give us. One of the things we are doing is designing a Christmas tree ornament with the JSM on it to give to each missionary for Christmas. One of the brothers in the Bedford ward does stippling and he is working on the JSM right now to be imprinted on the brass ornament. It will be very beautiful when it is done. I found a company online that will make them up for us. We will get a velvet drawstring bag for each one. It will make a lovely gift and keepsake.

I've got to say that most of the members in the Manchester ward are being very good missionaries and fellowshippers to the new converts. I'm so happy to see that happening. Elder B and I are going to attend the ward Bible study on Tuesday evening. Investigators attend that also.

Well, gotta go. Elder B is taking me out to dinner. This is our "P" day after all. We haven't been out to dinner for many weeks now. I mean a really nice dinner. We send our love to our children, grandchildren, and friends. Hard to believe that we are 1/3 done with our mission. Wow, time is flying now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22, 2012 Sunday

Another Baptism today! Arlene was baptized today into the Manchester ward. Her husband is not a member, but he came to her baptism. Very nice couple. We are so happy for her. Many of the ward members were there to support her. The spirit was just wonderful. Tanya and her son, Josiah, were there as well. We had them over for dinner and dominoes Friday evening. Josiah is eight years old and loves brownies and dominoes! We got it right for him! Tanya will be baptized in two weeks, and we are hoping that Josiah will want to be baptized also. Tanya is letting him choose for himself. He loves Primary and totes his Book of Mormon everywhere he goes. He has a yellow highlighter and during Sacrament meeting today he was looking for the word "baptize" and marked each one. Very sweet boy who wants to be a police officer some day. The two Elders who have been teaching them told them today that they are both being transferred on Tuesday. Tanya and Josiah cried. I took a picture of the four of them and assured them that they will grow to love the new Elders just as much. We are planning to take Tanya and Josiah to the Massachusetts Boston Temple for a tour of the grounds. I have been doing genealogy research for her and discovered that someone in her family has been doing temple work for her ancestors. She is going to talk to her mom about it. Both sides of her family are staunch Catholics!

Our sweet Sister that went home early from her mission with Guillain Beret Syndrome, wrote me a beautiful letter with her testimony and thanks. She enclosed a Forget-Me-Not bracelet with the letter. I sat at my desk and cried. We just get so close to our missionaries is such a short time.

Tomorrow four new Elders are coming in from the MTC. Then on Tuesday two are done with their mission and flying home. We get to go to the temple with them. That is one of the nicest things we get to do. Tuesday is transfer day and President has said that it will probably be a small transfer. That means about 50 instead of 100. Nice.

Dad and I are so happy that the doctors have finally gotten to the bottom (or should I say top) of Celin's condition. Her sphenoid sinus is infected and swollen and pushing on her brain causing headaches which in turn cause stomachaches. She is on meds and the prognosis is good. Our prayers are working! Much relief for Andrea and Blair, too.

We are looking forward to Tony and family coming for a visit next month. We will make a trip to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, Vermont. It is so very beautiful there. The town of Sharon is still very tiny and quaint. I love it there.

We miss our family and friends very much, but we know that this is where we are supposed to be for now. It is hard to believe that tomorrow we will be 1/3 into our mission with 2/3 left. We love it here and love the people. There are a couple of older sisters in RS that I dearly love, and I'm getting to know a sister who is a masseuse!! She gave me a neck massage all through the baptism last week. Divine!!!!

Take care. Hugs and kisses to all the grandkids--Grammie and Grandpa love you!!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The last two weeks have not been too busy. We had a wonderful baptism today after church for Ken. The Elders have been teaching him for a few months and he had a hard time getting off of tobacco, but he did it! It was a beautiful baptism with many of the ward members and the bishopric all there. The closing hymm was The Old Rugged Cross, a hymn I haven't sung since I was little and sang with my mom and my sister. It is not in our hymnbook, but the words were printed on Ken's program. One of the President's Assistants played the piano and did a fantastic job. He is very talented and wants to be a dentist with a minor in music after he goes home.

We have been working with Tanya, an investigator, and her son. They are scheduled for baptism on July 29th. We are sure looking forward to that day as are they. Tanya was golden right from the moment that the missionaries passed her on the street and turned around and went back to talk with her. The ward members have really welcomed her and treated her right. I am pleased at how well the ward does with missionary work. They are all so dedicated to these new members.

Another two missionaries had to go home last week for health reasons. One of them started having major problems because he has had 9 concussions in his young life playing LaCrosse. We've had several missionaries go home for various reasons. Two of the sad ones had to go home, one for lukemia and one diagnosed with Guillain Beret Syndrome. (I don't know if I spelled that right.) It is pronounced gee-on baray though.

Cèlin has been very ill for a few months now and will undergo a battery of tests this week. Our prayers and thoughts are with our sweet granddaughter. Hopefully the doctors will be able to determine the problem so Cèlin can go forward and feel well.

And Mike's mom, Grandma Nini, fell in their home and broke 3 ribs. She is convalescing at home now after a few days in the hospital. She is in a lot of pain, as one can imagine, and is managing with medication. Grandpa is doing all he can to take care of her with Tootie's help. Grandma is healing, but it is kind of slow.

We are gearing up here for transfers again next week. Four new elders coming in and two going home. Transfers is a really fun time for office missionaries! But if we didn't work hard, we would feel like we weren't doin' nothin'!!!!

More next time. Our love to all our children, grandchildren, family, and friends.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 29, 2012

This has been a sad week in that two missionaries had to go home. One because he didn't want to follow the mission rules, and the other because she contracted some sort of virus that made her so weak that she couldn't walk. Her mom had to fly here to take her home. Thank goodness her mom is a nurse so that made it easier. I was told by Sister Davis that annually about 7% of missionaries in the field go home early for one reason or another. Well, we have had 6 so far this year. That is 6% for us right now. Those are the bummer stats, but the good news is that we have 93% of our missionaries who are wonderfully dedicated missionaries. I love being in contact with them every day. We have become close to them and love them for their desire to serve.

The assistants to the President come into the office regularly. At the last transfer Elder Adams was made a traveling assistant, so we got another assistant to take his place. Whenever there is a new assistant assigned, we have a candy shower for him. This is basically--he walks through the office door, and we throw a bowl of candy on his head. One of the office staff takes pictures of this,and the pictures are included in the Messenger (the quarterly mission newsletter). Great fun and the new assistant loves it. I'm amazed at how missionaries love sweets!!!!

With two of the Elders, Elder Benjamin has been teaching a woman who has an 8-yr old son. Tanya and Josiah. She was in an abusive relationship and got out after losing most of her teeth because of beatings. She almost lost her life when her ex tried to set her on fire. She has totally turned her life around and is one of the sweetest and most open people you could meet. The Elders were out walking one day and passed her on the sidewalk and started talking with her. She agreed to their visits and was "golden" from the beginning. When she attends church, I stick to her like glue. I introduced her to as many of the sisters in the ward as I knew. I'm amazed at how the Relief Society sisters rallied around her. One of them rode her scooter to Tanya's house and sat in on a lesson from the Elders (Elder B also). Tanya was invited to attend the ward Relief Society Bible study on Tuesdays. She is going. Yesterday, the Elders taught her the lesson on the Word of Wisdom. Elder B noticed that she had 2 coffee makers in her apartment and she told them that she still smokes once in a while. Josiah hates it that she smokes. He has begged her many time to totally quit but she hasn't been able to do it. The Elders told her about the Church's Stop Smoking Program and she has agreed to do it. She told them that the next time they come over, the coffee pots will be gone. Elder B and I pick her up every Sunday for church and ward members have volunteered to give her rides to church also. Her baptism is scheduled for July 8. We are so excited for her and Josiah. Josiah loves Primary. Elder B and I gave him the picture Book of Mormon stories and he loves to read it. It is so wonderful to see people grab onto the gospel and change their lives to follow the Savior.

Elder B had a great Father's Day. He got calls from all 6 of our children. That made him very happy!!!!

President Wilkey asked Elder B and me to develop a mission blog. One that only the missionaries could access. He will post a weekly mission update on it with a link to the church site so that they can write their weekly letter to the president. We had a great time developing the blog and we sure learned a lot about domain names and blog set-up. Great fun. It is almost ready to go. First, we have to train the President on how to make a weekly post. He's not the quickest learner when it comes to technology, but his heart is in the right place so he will be okay. I'll laminate a wallet-sized cheat sheet for him and he'll be all set!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day June 17, 2012

We spoke in Sacrament meeting this morning. MIke's topic was The Importance of Good Fathers, and my topic was The Blessings of the Priesthood. There were many who said they enjoyed our talks, and Bishop Dickson thanked us for sticking to the topics he gave us.
We have just been through another week of transfers, and it is getting easier. We are almost on auto pilot now. But we have about 14 more transfers to go through before we return home so we should be very good at it by then! We were able to attend the Boston Temple last Tuesday with the 6 missionaries who were going home. I've got to say that they are an inspiration to us--such dedication and diligence in serving. The weather was gorgeous with some wind on the top of the hill where the temple is situated, so if my hair makes it look like I'm ready for take-off, oh well!!!

After the temple we all went back to the mission home for ice cream sundaes. That is always a fun time to just talk and visit with the missionaries who are going home. We talk about their plans for education, work, and marriage. One of the elders, Elder Tannin Cash, said that he didn't have any plans at all when he got home. So he proposed to me!!!! He got down on one knee, too. We all had a great laugh over that. He is always kidding around. What a great personality he has and will succeed at anything he wants. He loves to play golf, so he and Dad had a lot to talk about. We don't know if we will ever see Elder Cash again or even talk with him, but it was so fun to get to know him better.

Sister Shaunelle Holyoak went home. She was one of the sisters serving in Manchester and was assigned to attend the same ward we go to. She was such a good teacher and dedicated missionary. We just end up getting close to some of these missionaries. Can't help it.

This picture shows me with the Bedford sisters--Sister Rykowski on the left and Sister Johnson on the right. Sister Johnson got transferred on Tuesday, but Sister Rykowski stayed.

Sister Rykowski makes chocolate chip cookies for me once in a while, so tomorrow she and Sister Huntsman and Sister Chantry are coming in the office for banana cream pie that I am making. One of the President's Assistants, Elder Stephen Adams, is going to be a traveling assistant. Tony did that as part of his mission in San Jose, California. Elder Adams will travel around and stay 3 or 4 days with a set of elders to teach and help. He's pretty excited about it. So we are having a bon voyage lunch for him tomorrow. He wants Sloppy Joes and Banana Cream Pie. He is from Yakutat, Alaska and just a fine person.

I've been so busy in the office that I have not had any time to knit. I'm sorry Leona, I might not get your jacket done until after I get home. We'll see. Sister Davis finds time to quilt; Elder Davis finds time to fish; Mike finds time to golf (very little); but, I have the flossing and brushing and rubber tipping thing that I have to do every morning and night. So, it's a choice between knitting or dentures! You guess what I have chosen!

President Villinga, who will be the Cleveland Ohio Mission President on June 23 called the office to talk with President Wilkey last week. When I told him that President Wilkey was out of the office, Pres. Villinga asked if he could pick my brain about a few office things like letters and procedures. I told him that I had rewritten the procedure manual since I got here in February, and then he asked me when I would be done with our mission here and then asked if I would come to Cleveland for another mission right after!!! I laughed. The cool thing about the Cleveland Mission though is that Kirtland is part of it. We stopped there on our way here and saw what used to be the Kirtland Temple and it is so sad cause it is not a temple and looks kind of sad sitting there in the town. The Community of Christ church owns it and they use it for a meeting hall.

Thank you Sister Ives for writing to me every month. I love getting your cards. And I love you. Being on a mission we do not have home or visiting teachers so it is nice to be visited by card or email. Thank you Sister Harder also for keeping in touch.

We miss our children and grandchildren terribly, but we know that Heavenly Father is watching over them, and we all know that he does a better job of that than we could.

Take care family and friends until next time. We love you all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 3, 2012

I realize I haven't written for a couple of weeks and got an email from Pat Beazer asking why not? I guess I don't really have much of an excuse except that missionaries are very busy people! My goal was to write every Sunday. Let's see, where do I begin? Last Sunday I taught the Teaching for Our Times lesson in Relief Society. It was taken from President Uchtdorf's April Gen. Conf. talk "The Merciful Obtain Mercy" sometimes known as the "stop it" talk. I was so nervous-mostly cause I hardly know anyone in the Manchester Ward yet. But it went okay and the sisters were very nice and complementary in spite of my deficiencies. And then today at church, the bishop asked us to speak on Father's Day. Actually I'm not as nervous about that as I was teaching Relief Society. Mike is right now out with the Manchester Elders Rodriguez and Morgan teaching a lesson to an investigator from Nepal. This whole New England area is quite the melting pot. There are many different nationalities here. One amusing thing about our ward--Sacrament meeting is supposed to start at 9 a.m., but almost never starts before 9:10 and then even at that, about half of the ward comes in after the Sacrament is served. Every week. Interesting.

Last week, May 29-30, was Missionary Leadership Training for all the District Leaders. They come from all over the mission (Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire). They have to stay with other Elders that are close by and also in the mission home. The office couples set up dinner for them on Tuesday and then on Wednesday the Manchester ward did a pizza lunch for them. This week is transfer planning, which means that we are getting ready for all the new missionaries coming in from the MTC and those returning home. I do enjoy the whole process although this time one of the sister missionaries that I have gotten close to is going home. I will certainly miss her. She is Sister Holyoak from Lyndon, Utah. What an awesome missionary she is.

Next week we will be able to go to the Boston Temple (as we do every six weeks) with the returning missionaries. We do an endowment session, have dinner in the cafeteria, and return to the mission home for dessert. The days are long and busy but very nice.

All the missionaries were asked to set up a profile on You can see mine at if you want. I listed as Karen Snipes Benjamin. Mike hasn't done one yet. Don't know why he's dragging his feet about it. Anyone can post a profile there and I encourage everyone to do it. Those investigating the church can see what members have to say and to read their testimonies.

A couple of weeks ago we had Zone Conferences. May 15 was in Sharon, Vermont and May 17 was in Augusta, Maine. I took a couple of pictures of the missionaries.

The missionary on the left is Elder Niebergall. We have taken a real liking to him. He is such a humble person and was just made a Zone Leader in Bangor, Maine. After the Augusta zone conference, Elder Benjamin and I drove home in the "Moose" 4 elders to Lawrence, MA. The 4 of them live in a large apartment there. But the tradition is that when we drive them home, we take them all out to dinner. The Davises were with us also and the Elders wanted to go to Margaritas for mexican food. Elder Evans loves habanero peppers and ordered something that was so hot it made him perspire. But he loved it anyway. We certainly do enjoy being with them. We have driven many elders and sisters all over the mission and have enjoyed each one of them. I am impressed at their devotion to Heavenly Father and our Savior. They have incredible testimonies and they never give up.

I took a picture of President Wilkey in the office one day. He was a good sport about it, huh?

I took this picture with my iPad. I have all of the scriptures and hymns on it. It is much lighter than my quad so it's easier to carry around everywhere.

I am sure missing my children and grandchildren. Thank goodness for Kortni and Diana and Holly making sure we get pictures and art work. They are posted all over our apartment!

We are enjoying our mission very much. The Lord has been blessing us.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We made it through our second transfers. Eight new missionaries arrived and ten returned back home after 2 years service. The whole transfer process takes a good two weeks to complete. The week before is planning and organizing. The actual week of transfers goes something like this: Monday, the new missionaries fly in to the Manchester, NH airport, usually about 12:30 pm. I check the flight from SLC several times and update the President. President and Sister Wilkey meet them at the airport and the assistants drive the van (Moose) around to the front of the airport to pick everyone up with all their luggage. For about an hour the new ones go out visiting with some of the local missionaries. Then everyone arrives at the mission home for dinner which the office staff (Benjamins and Davises) shop for and set up and clean up afterward. Right after the President eats, he has an interview with each missionary. I'm in the dining room with their records. They get their picture taken with President and Sister Wilkey and one picture of him/herself and then they come into the dining room to verify with me that all their information and contact information is correct. Then they are off to the family room where they meet with the vehicle coordinator to verify their driving record, etc. Then to Elder Benjamin for their medical and support cards. They spend the night at the mission home or in the assistant's apartment (Elders that is). Sisters almost always spend the night at the mission home. Tuesday, breakfast at the mission home and then driving to the Manchester Ward meeting house to find out who their trainer will be and where they will be living and teaching. In the morning all the new missionaries go into the Primary room for instruction. After that the Transfer meeting starts in the Chapel. All the missionaries who are going to be transferred or assigned as a trainer gather in the Chapel. After being addressed by President and Sister Wilkey, the transfers are announced along with Elders who are assigned to be Zone Leaders or District Leaders or Trainers. This results in lots of hugs and back slapping! Everyone goes out in the foyer for pictures and then into the cultural hall to pick up their bag lunch (which the office staff has shopped for and organized). Then they are on their way to their new area. By 1:30 the missionaries who are going home leave for the Boston Temple with President and Sister Wilkey and the office staff. We attend the 3:00 or 4:00 endowment session and spend a little time in the celestial room. Dinner is in the temple cafeteria at 5:45 pm. After dinner we return to the mission home for last minute details for their flight home the next day. Elder Benjamin and I return home about 9:00 pm. Davises have gone home about 8:00 pm. Wednesday, it's work in the office as usual at 9:00 am. The returning missionaries have breakfast and study and exercise at the mission home. President's assistants take all returning missionaries to the airport until everyone is on their flight. Meanwhile, in the office, I am checking flight status every hour or so to make sure the planes are on time. During that time and during the day, I print out all the pictures that have been taken the last two previous days. All the office staff is working on their respective jobs after transfers. Usually by Friday at 5:00-6:00 pm we are done. And so it goes every six weeks. Two weeks-one getting ready for transfers and one doing all the transfer procedures. It is a busy time, but that is what we do! I figured that while we are here for 18 months, we will go through about 16 transfers. We should have it perfect by then!!!! Here is a picture of the mission office in May 2012. The red azaleas are bloomed out now. The purple ones are early and done. The big purple rhododendron to the left of the red azalea is getting ready to burst forth with blooms. We watch it every day and can hardly wait to see how beautiful it will be. The trees are almost all bloomed out. It is so pretty here! And very much like Washington state.
Elder Benjamin in front of the azalea bush that is in front of his office window.
Sister Benjamin sitting at my desk. (Don't tell President, but I forgot my name tag!)
We spent all day yesterday and most of today traveling to Machias, Maine to deliver twin beds to missionaries. They are so happy to get a good comfortable bed. Two Elders even baked us brownies! It was a very long trip so we spent the night in Augusta, Maine. We loved it there. The air is so fresh and clean. It is so uplifting to be with the missionaries. They are truly some awesome latter-day warriors--so happy to be teaching others about Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. We are getting to know almost all of them and love them all so much already. We surely are looking forward to the time when our grandkids choose to serve missions. Missionaries love teaching, getting mail, teaching, getting mail, and teaching and getting mail.... This coming week is Zone Conferences. Tuesday will be in Sharon, Vermont and Thursday will be in Augusta, Maine. We will be driving 4 sister missionaries to Sharon and bringing home 4 elders from Augusta. Such great fun getting to know them on the drive. We love you all--children, grandchildren, family, and friends. We would love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22, 2012

Two weeks have passed since my last post! Hard to believe how time flies here in New Hampshire. Last week we made a bed run to Vermont. It is amazing how these missionaries hardly ever complain about their circumstances. Don't misunderstand--they are not living in squalor or poverty, but when their beds are sagging and ready to fall down, they don't complain. Elder Benjamin sent out a letter to each missionary so that they could tell him what condition their bed is in. So, we went to Lebanon and Hannover, Vermont and also Randolph, New Hampshire. It was a great trip in the "Moose" pulling the trailer, and the weather was wonderful. The Elders in Randolph even sent US home with a bag of home-baked chocolate chip cookies! This week Elder Benjamin will be making a bed run to Machias, Maine. It is the farthest area out--5 hour and 41 minutes each way. He is going by himself and going to listen to General Conference tapes for 11 hours. I want to go, but I'll have to check out my calendar first. I have a lot of things on it to get ready for transfers next Tuesday, May 1st. This will be our second transfers, and we are using all the notes from our first one to be able to have this second one run smoothly. More about that whole process after we go through it next week. Friday evening of this last week we visited an investigator (Colleen) and her 11-year old son, Dylan, with the sister missionaries and the elders in the same area. She is a single mom, and as most 11-year old boys, Dylan has an attitude! He and his mom banter back and forth (maybe banter is a more polite word!) The sister missionaries were trying to get him to commit to writing in a Gratitude notebook every night before he goes to sleep. He wasn't having anything to do with that, so one of the elders tried to get him to understand what gratitude is all about as it relates to Dylan loaning out his football to the neighbor guy who came over during dinner. I think that Dylan sort of got it okay. Everyone was surprised that, when Elder Benjamin and I were getting ready to leave, Dylan came up to me and hugged me. His mom was dumbfounded! I told him that all of my grandkids call me Grammie and he seemed to like that. I don't know yet if he has a Grammie close by, but he softened up a little anyway. Colleen has a roommate with 2 little kids and while Colleen was taking the lessons, Debra would sit in on them. Well, Debra got baptized last December and Colleen has not yet. She's getting close though. She has a wonderful testimony and I feel confident that she will be baptized soon. Elder and Sister Davis live down the hall from us and we are always taking food back and forth. They went on a trip up the coast of Maine yesterday and came back with some dark chocolate orange sticks (one of my favs) for me. Today they are getting bread pudding from us. While were were on our Vermont bed run, we stopped at President Goodrich's Maple Farm in Cabot, Vermont. He is the second counselor in the Mission Presidency. His family has owned and run the Maple Farm since 1840. They have over 43,000 maple trees and a tiny store where we bought grade A pure Vermont maple syrup from them. I bought the little maple syrup cookbook from them as well. And that is where the recipe for the bread pudding came from. They sell Maple Cream (Spreadable Fudge) too, but they were totally out. Sister Goodrich cooks it up herself and puts it in jars. Since they were out, she is going to make some up and send it to the office. I'm so excited about that. Sister Davis got some a couple of weeks ago and loves it on her toast every morning. The bishop called us in after church today to get to know us better. We thought he would ask us to speak in church, but no luck. He's very new so I'm sure he will get around to asking us one of these days. We are getting to know the members a little bit now. Relief Society is great! I love sitting with the other old sisters. They are fun and so full of wisdom. I may have to adopt a couple of them. My monitor went dead today, so Elder Benjamin hooked up Elder and Sister Hymas' Philips 22-inch television flat-screen and it works okay. We are going to make a trip to Costco at the end of the week for all the supplies and food for transfers, so we will pick up a better one for me then. We are missing all of our children and grandchildren terribly, but we know that this is where Heavenly Father wants us now at this time of our lives. We have been very worried about Cèlin's illness and pray for her every day. I chatted with her today and she says she is getting a little bit better every day. But, she has still missed 6 weeks of school so far and won't be going this week either. She hopes to go half time next week. Let's all pray for her that she will get well and be able to return to her normal (?) quirky self!!!! More next time, Love, Mom/Dad/Grammie/Poppy/Sister/Elder/Karen/Mike/Aunt/Uncle

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8, 2012 Easter Sunday

It has been a crazy two weeks since last I wrote. General Conferece was awesome last weekend. We streamed it here in our apartment and enjoyed it so much. The Davises went to the ward building and only 5 people were there--all missionaries!!! Gen Conf is not carried on tv here so we were fortunate to stream it over the internet. All the talks were so good and I especially liked Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk--he is my 8th cousin after all!

We attended our first New Missionary Training last Tuesday. Mike and I brought in all the food and were able to attend some of the training. President Wilkey was having a problem setting up his laptop to a big screen so I said that I would go get Elder Benjamin who was out in the parking lot. I dashed off forgetting the step down out the back door of the chapel and down I went--falling, falling, falling and not able to catch myself. Finally I hit the concrete and my head snapped back and smacked the back of my head with a big thud on the concrete sidewalk. Ouch! That hurt. Mike and a couple of missionaries came running. I was trying to cry and then I thought that maybe my skirt was up over my head or something and sucked up the tears and pulled my skirt down over my knees. Well, obviously I didn't die! And I don't have a concussion, but the lump is still very sore. My left hip was out a little for a few days, but all is well now.

Last Thursday Mike had to deliver two twin beds to two elders in Damariscotta, Maine. Also we moved one sister missionary from Manchester to Topsham (pronounced tops-ham). Picked up one in Topsham and took her back to Manchester. Great fun getting to know these missionaries. They are so dedicated to their missions.

Mike is taking care of all the apartments in the mission. Two elders talked with him at church today to tell him that they found something-a bird or bat or rat-dead in a cupboard. They said the smell is terrible and they want to move. Mike told them to contact the manager immediately to get that taken care of. Most of the homes here are very old and are 3 stories high and the upper two floors rented out as apartments. So who knows what a renter could find in one of them.

I have been busy revising the whole procedure for arriving and going-home missionaries. There are a lot of unnecessary steps being done and I want to make it a whole lot easier. We are both enjoying the work. It is a good feeling to help out all of our 140 missionaries. They are becoming very dear to us.

We are in touch with Marv and Sue Leavitt on their mission in Cotonou, Benin, Africa. This is their 3rd time to Africa. We are also in touch with Rex and Pat Beazer in West Virginia Charleston mission. This is their 4th mission. We love them all and know that they will be great missionaries.

Here is a picture of my first haircut in New Hampshire. Jenn did a good job on it for a first haircut and I think she will be good, but I sure do miss my Eleni in Portland, Oregon. Next time I'll tell Jenn to take off more. I asked her to take off only 1 inch--I was thinking that if I was conservative and I didn't like the job, I would still have hair left to get cut somewhere else. Since she did a good job (the shampoo was divine) I'll have her take off more in 6 weeks.

We had a wonderful Easter dinner after church down the hall at the Davis' apartment. Elder Davis makes a really good 4-cheese Mac'n Cheese. We had that with ham, green beans, fruit jello, and chocolate eclaires for dessert. It was great!

Our Manchester Ward got a new Bishop the week before Conference. He's a good guy! But we sure do miss Bishop Driver.

Well, hello to all our friends. And big hugs and kisses to our children and grandchildren who we miss very much.

More next week!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012

We made it through our first transfers!!! It started last Monday with the arrival of our new missionaries--6 elders and 1 sister. Had a great dinner with them at the mission home with President and Sister Wilkey. Got home about 8:45 p.m. Then Tuesday we all met at the Manchester ward building for transfers. Since 5 missionaries were going home the next day, changes had to be made with companionships. So all day Tuesday all the missionaries who were affected by the new ones coming in and the returning ones going home met at the ward building. There was a nice spiritual meeting with Pres and Sis Wilkey in the morning, then lunch, then all the office couples and the Pres and Sis Wilkey and the missionaries who were going home the next day all went to the Boston Temple for an endowment session (which was very nice) and then ate dinner in the temple cafeteria. After the temple we all went to the mission home. We had a few duties that we had to do and got home about 9 p.m. Wednesday was at the office as usual doing all the paperwork for the new missionaries. It was so nice to meet them. They are fine young people from all over the U.S. One of the Elders is a red headed Matt Damon. I'm not kidding!!!

Arrivals, Transfers, and Departures occur every 6 weeks. Just when you get done with one, it is time to get ready for the next. Such fun really. Dad has gotten to go out with the President's assistants (2 elders) and teach lessons to a family from the Sudan. There are many different nationalities here. The office has a copy of the Book of Mormon in about 20 languages.

We Skyped with our friends the Larsens who are in Georgia on a mission. It was so good to chat with them face to face since we haven't seen them for over a year. We were happy to hear that their mission is going really well. Except maybe for the mosquitoes that chew them up when they go outside.

Something really gross happened yesterday at one of our favorite restaurants. If you have a queasy stomach don't read any farther! We ordered our dinner and this place brings out some homemade chips and sauce for dipping. So we started eating the chips, and I sort of saw something under the chips and was going to check it out when our dinner came. So we started eating that and put the chips aside. Once during dinner I glanced at the chips and thought there was a funny looking chip under a few other chips but didn't check it out. After I finished dinner I went back to the chips. I ate two of them and then decided to see what that was under there. Well, it was a band aid. Not just a clean band aid, but a deep fried bloody band aid. Needless to say we were totally grossed out. I didn't barf, but I thought about it. We called the manager over and she couldn't believe her eyes either. Bottom line--we got the meal for free with dessert. That was worse than the red hair wrapped around the steak I had at another restaurant a month ago. Dad and I can't remember having these kinds of problems back home. Dad said that we were just lucky at home. That it probably happens there too but just to other people! I wanted to hold out for a year's worth of free dinners, but we didn't. I'm sort of afraid to go out to eat around here!

We are missing all of our kids, grandkids, family, and friends, but we feel blessed to be able to serve a mission here and are so thankful for all the support. Take care and know that we love you and would love to hear from you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012

Today is our 36th wedding anniversary. And here we are on a mission spending everyday from morning till next morning together. We get up early and get our morning things done and start at the office by 9. Work all day in a great environment. Go home between 5:30 and 7:30. Eat dinner, study, go to bed and get up and start all over again. Ah, the life of a senior missionary couple.

Our apartment building is quiet and safe so we are happy about that. The laundry is downstairs which is convenient. We have a small deck off the small living room. It's 80 degrees today and the birds are chirping and the lady bugs are a buzzin and many people have gone to the parks or golf courses. But of course, Dad, is still not golfing. He said he may try on a Saturday once in a while over the summer. I've been to one yarn shop and it was a really great one in Derry. Also found a nice chocolate store, but not the same as See's dark chocolate almonds that I love and miss!

I've been down with a miserable head cold the last few days and didn't even make it to church today. But Dad got me some generic Claritin and it really helps. I can breathe! I have to get well cause tomorrow is our first go at Arrivals and Transfers and Departing missionaries and I have to be on the ball for my duties. I've finally gotten a handle on all the responsibilities I have to do. Dad worked at the office yesterday for about 6 hours getting himself ready for the part he plays in transfer week. Neither one of us has made any big mistakes so I think we will be invited to stay!!!!

A few nights ago while I was sitting at my desk--about 6:15--Gloria, the cleaning lady, came into the office and said, "Ola." Well, you know how weak my Spanish is, but I managed to say hello and how are you. She asked me what the name of our church is. So I told her in Spanish the best I could. She asked me if we used the Bible and I said that we did. She told me she is Catholic (which is very common here) and asked me if we had a bible. I told her we had the Book of Mormon and I asked her if she would like to have one in Spanish. She said, "Oh yes, I would." So I went to the storage room and got one for her. She put it in the pocket of her cleaning cart and walked down toward the President's office. Sister Wilkey opened the Pres's door for a minute and I jumped up and ran down there and told Sister Wilkey that Gloria had requested a Book of Mormon. Sister Wilkey told here that we had a couple of Spanish speaking young men who could teach her about the Book of Mormon. She said that she would love that. So I got all of her info and turned it over to our Spanish speaking Elders and they called her the next day and she is having her first lesson this evening. Who'd a thunk? I am so happy that we can do some proselytizing in the office. We will get word back from the Elders after the lesson. We are praying.

We have heard from our friends the Martins who were in the MTC with us and are serving in Czech. Working with the young single adults there. They are enjoying the work tremendously even preaching on the corners of the city. They are the kind of people who will be very successful in missionary work. We wish them our best there.

We do enjoy working with the Elders and Sisters here in the mission. They are all wonderful young people and so dedicated to the work of bringing the gospel to the people here.

I have not had my hair cut since Eleni cut it last in January. It is getting long and I have to do something. I hate taking chances on new people, but I have only one name given to me so far. I'll just have to press on and ask for a very slight trim!!!

We are praying for an Elder who had to go home after only 6 months in the field. He had leukemia when he was 14 and had 3 years of chemo. Well, the leukemia came back with a vengeance and he had to go home and start chemo over again. Also, President's Wilkey's first counselor has about 5 different infections in his right shoulder that was previously injured and has to have surgery on that. We do pray for their recovery.

Well, we are going to get some things done this evening and prepare for another week in the office. We sure love you all and hope to hear from you. Oh, we were able to Skype with Grandpa and Grandma Benjamin yesterday and also Kortni, Ryker, and Kaydence who are visiting Diana, Ian, and Payton for the weekend. That was so great. We loved it.

More next week,
Love, Mom/Grammie/Karen

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 10, 2012

Hello Family and Friends, We are sorry that it has taken us so long to be up and running with our blog, but we have moved twice and finally got Comcast hooked up and all the technology wired. We laft home on January 12 with the help of Andrea, Blair, Cèlin, Holly, Cliff, Kate, Lilly, and Eli for Idaho Falls to spend a few days with Diana, Ian, and Payton. We had a great time there and enjoyed visiting. But we will not miss the cat, Bridget, trying to claw her way into the bedroom in the middle of the night!!! (No offense, Bridgett, but you are a little neurotic for my tastes!) Then we left for Tony's and Annette's for a few days in Farmington, Utah. We had a great time there as well with them and Jared, Breanna, and Grant. Then on to Paul's and Kortni's and Kurt's for a few days to visit with them and Ryker and Kaydence. Had a great time there also and then checked in to the MTC for two weeks. We enjoyed seeing Alexis working in the MTC cafeteria a couple of times a week. What a great place to be and to feel the spirit. We loved the other senior couples, teachers, classes, devotionals, and food. Elder Nelson and Elder Holland were speakers at the 50th anniversary of the MTC. That was a very special treat. The first week we were at the MTC there were 40 senior couples. The next week 30 more couples came. It was the most they have ever had there. Everyone there including the young Elders and Sisters treated the senior couples so nicely. Dad and I commented that if all the members of all the wards could spend one week in the MTC learning how to teach the Gospel, the Gospel would spread like wildfire. We left the MTC for New Hampshire on Friday Feb 3rd, but because there was a blizzard raging in Denver and areas around it, we chose to drive down through Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was an extra 10 hours of driving, but we didn't want to get stuck in a snow storm. Personally, I'm glad we went down that way--now I know that I never want to live in the dry, ugly, desert south. Yuk, it was ugly. I have got to say one thing about a higher elevation, though, my arthritis didn't bother me as much. We arrived in Bedford, NH on Tuesday, Feb 7th and moved into the a small motel with a kitchen, But I think the place was built in the 1950s. It was dark inside and the can opener mounted to the kitchen wall looked like it had been there and never washed since 1950! The bed was the hardest I've ever slept on besides a concrete floor. So we moved to the Marriott Residence Inn in Merrimack, NH for 2 weeks until our apartment was ready. The Franklins (the office couple we replaced) were still living in the apartment. Residence Inn had a hot breakfast every morning and free dinner Monday thru Thursday nights. That was a real bonus. We finally got to move into the apartment on Saturday, Feb 25. We have been having to shop every few days for stuff we need--like, a toaster, cookie sheet, cutting board, pot holders, and on and on, but we are finally stocked up with the necessities and able to cook and bake what we need. Dad set up a 6-foot table in the living room and hooked up our desktop computers and printers. When you walk in the front door and see that all set up it looks like we have got some sort of business going! But, you know how we are about technology! We have even ordered a new iPad 3 for each other!!!!

The office work goes really well. We are responsible for the operation of the whole office. Dad takes care of all the finances for the mission and all 140 missionaries. He also has to make sure that apartments are rented/leased for all the missionaries. He does all the shopping at Staples, Sam's Club, Costco, and anywhere else he has to go to keep all the supplies and apartments furnished. My job is as confidential secretary to President Wilkey which means that I take care of all the paper work for all the missionaries and the mission office. The other couple in the mission office is Elder and Sister Hymas from Green River, Wyoming. They are going home the end of this month and will be replaced by the Davises. The Hymases had us over for dinner two weeks ago and we are having them over tonight for dinner and Mexican Train dominoes. They are great people and we do enjoy working with them. Elder Hymas takes care of the fleet of cars for the missionaries (that includes selling any cars that get to the 50,000 mile mark. I can't believe how may vehicles the mission sells. Sister Hymas takes care of all the ordering for missionary supplies, ie., Books of Mormon in all languages, teaching supplies, manuals, teaching kits, etc. The list is very long. We will miss them, but have talked with them about stopping in to see them on our way home in Jul-Aug 2013.

There are about 20 apartments in our building. We are on the second floor. We have been here since Feb 25 and have only seen one person who lives on our floor! I guess we will just have to go knocking with cookies in hand. We have only had one person in our apartment--and that was the Comcast installer. It is very strange to be in such a small home, but it is cozy and clean.

Dad was able to go teach a family from the Sudan the other evening with two of our Elders. It went very well, but Dad was really impressed with how the Elders taught the 10-year old boy about the Prophet and Apostles. The boy was just not interested when Dad and the Elders got there, but as soon as the Elders pulled out the picture kit and started showing how the Apostles are part of the foundation of the church, he tuned right in. Dad loved it.

Every six weeks missionaries get transfered because of new ones arriving and those going home. We have been warned that for Monday and Tuesday of Transfer week we will have very long days and not much sleep at night. Our first transfers start on March 19. We will be very busy, but we get to go to the Boston Temple with the departing missionaries. We are looking forward to that.

We do miss all of you and love you. Everyday I get the mail in the office and go thru it hoping to get something other than a bill or statement. With the exception of a card from Eli and one from Sister Barbara Ives, we have received no good mail. I know--call the whambulance!!! We would love to hear from our fabulous children and grandchildren though.

Tomorrow we will be attending the Manchester Ward. We have visited the Bedford Ward and Derry Ward twice each. After two Sundays in the Manchester Ward we have to tell President Wilkey which ward we want to attend regularly. We have enjoyed the other wards so far. But, I've got to say that Woodland 1st ward is very dear to our hearts as the best ward on the planet!

I will post pictures along the way after I figure out how to do it.

All our love, Dad/Mom/Grandpa/Grammie/Mike/Karen, etc.