Users Guide:

This blog is a journal of our assignment in Chicago, IL as missionaries for The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We will be missionaries for twelve months starting in January 2014. It is a public blog so that our family and friends can share our experience with ease. The writings here are not intended to be a political, religious or social commentary. They are the memories, thoughts and "light bulb' moments we have as we serve. We welcome you the reader.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Letter # 17 Night Lights

I love light! When it is daytime, I like for it to be bright and sunny with light. When I am indoors and it is daytime, I like for the room to be light and bright. When it is night time, I'm not scared of the dark, but lights can become the focal point. A room can be shimmery with light, the heavens can be a velvet black blanket studded with diamonds. When the fireworks finally start because the sky has become black, it is magic for me. As I look at Christmas lights, they feel like the perfect representation of the light of Christ in our lives. Light illuminates dark places. Light is new knowledge shared. Light travels from person to person on smiles and hugs. Light is revelation, new thought, and Divine power.

When I received my assignment to serve as the mission nurse specialist, I wondered how much "nursing" I still remembered. Would I know what was necessary in all circumstances. Would those I served be safe from me. The words "first do no harm" rolled around my head. From day one, I prayed for the grace necessary for me to be of use. I hoped the light would turn on and I would be able to render true service. My work is done mainly over the phone. After months now, I still find it challenging to make judgment calls on rashes, bites, fevers, sprains, and tongues that are the wrong color without seeing what they look like. It amazes me daily that I seem to be able to listen and then suggest a whole range of ways the person might care for their situation. I feel like there must be an angel sitting on my shoulder using me as a  conduit for the light and love the Savior has for his children. I am grateful for this light.

There is another occurrence like this daily help, yet different. I want to always remember this evidence of Divine power. There are two instances I want to record. The first was when it was winter. The term being cast about was a "polar vortex".  The temperatures were frigid, the snow deep, and the winds fierce. The missionaries never missed a beat. Shoveling snow, carrying groceries, pushing cars, knocking on doors, finding referrals was daily action. My phone rang constantly. The voices and names were different, but the complaints were the same. Everyone had headaches and nausea and fatigue-----it had been going on for two weeks. My little nurse brain stewed and strained to no avail. And then came the night light. I woke in the last hours of night before the morning and as I came to consciousness, I knew what was wrong with everyone. The information came into my brain with the clarity of sunlight. They were dehydrated. I did some research and finally found a document from the University of New Hampshire that described frigid weather dehydration. The remedy came in similar fashion, was applied and everyone felt recovered within two days. The second occasion involved a missionary who approached me at a zone training meeting reporting blurred vision in one eye and excruciating headaches for the past week. I knew that he worked out with weights and asked about changes in his routine, increased weights, etc wondering if he had detached a retina or if there might be an embolism, etc. There seemed to be no correlations to his activity. He was visibly worried and called my phone at least 20 times the next day as we worked on getting him into a doctor. He saw an eye specialist and there was no accounting for his blurred vision. I went to bed puzzling over what to do next. Then the night light returned. The darkness of my lack of knowledge was illuminated once more. As before, I awoke in the early morning hours with a question in my mind. The question was for the missionary----"Are you using a supplement for bodybuilding".  I did my job and asked the question. His first reply was "why do you ask". I explained. He then answered in the affirmative and added that he had only started it a week ago. Almost immediately, the light came on for him. I researched the ingredients in the supplement he was using. They were extreme to say the least. Discontinuing this product allowed his symptoms to clear. The Lord is in the details of our lives and provides light and love as we need it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Letter # 16 Just Over My Heart

Soon after starting the process of putting our papers in for our mission, I began to look forward to getting my name tag. As the process progressed and the time to actually set aside our everyday life and devote ourselves to fulltime service drew nearer, I became more and more anxious to be able to put on, as some call it, the badge. I don't know if I felt like it would be more real when I had the tag or if my comfort level with the known circumstance is better than the way I feel about the unknown. Having my tag would make things more defined, perhaps. I just knew that for some reason, I was really excited to get hold of that name tag. We met with President Cannon and he set us apart as fulltime missionaries. It had actually happened and yet I didn't have the evidence on my lapel. It would not be until we walked into the Missionary Training Center and received a registration packet that the coveted tag would appear. There it was in the envelope! I lost no time in attaching it to my sweater. It wasn't like when I advanced from Brownies to Girl Scouts and my new leader pinned on my new Girl Scout pin with great ceremony. It wasn't like when I crossed the stage at graduation and was handed my diploma. It was more like when I was first handed the new baby I had just delivered. To wear the Savior's name just over my heart is momentous to me. It reminds me that I have been set apart from the world to give all of my time in the Lord's service. I find that I am extra careful to do nothing that would embarrass or degrade him. I work hard to represent him and all the love and joy encompassed in his gospel in a pleasing manner. It makes me better. I feel some remorse in needing the tag to give me that mind set. I had that obligation long before I had the tag. Never the less, I love my tag and the way I feel when I put it on. When Ian was about 16, he had a tag that had belonged to Bret when he served as a missionary. Ian would take out the tag and come into the kitchen and view his reflection in the microwave. He would put the tag on his pocket and tell about how anxious he was to be a missionary--how he couldn't wait to wear the tag. He was also the one to tell me that as much as it meant to put on the tag, the real impact would come when I had to take it off. I feel it already. I don't want to take it off.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Letter # 15 Feeding the Five Thousand

June 19, 2014
My Grandma was a cook. She was not a cook by profession, but for love. Cooking and feeding others was the way she wrapped her family and friends in comfort and contentment. Cooking was the way she honored accomplishments and created celebrations. Cooking was the creative culmination of the planting and hoeing, and harvesting acres of garden glories. I'm sure that she could be counted as feeding the five thousand in the course of her lifetime. My Granddaddy could cook. He did the cooking once my Grandma was no longer able. His cooking was simple nourishment, made to fill the demands for nutritious meals, to keep hunger away. Sixty plus years have passed since the green oval platter showing off bacon and eggs sat in front of me at my grandparents breakfast table.
These days, I cook often. Our young missionaries work a stressful schedule. They work in all kinds of weather and with all kinds of people. They ride bikes and buses, cars and trains. They walk miles and miles. When they come home, it is to spare apartments meant for sleep and study. On scheduled occasions they come together for trainings, conferences and transfers. Oh how they love to be together! There are reunions with former companions and trainers, and friends. There are stories and miracles to be shared as well as hard times and struggles. When these meetings cross lunchtime, a meal is served. With gratitude for their efforts and love for the enviable individuals that they are, we feed them. I organize and plan the meals. On the appointed day, Elder Abbott and I along with the other two senior missionary couples in the office, feed the five thousand. They only number in the hundreds, but they eat like the five thousand.  We cook and chop and purchase and set out and refill and clean up. It is a combination of my grandma's and granddaddy's cooking and feeding. They eat and laugh and talk and enjoy the food and the company. There is comfort and contentment, nourishment and hunger abated. They celebrate their comraderie as missionaries. They rest for a moment.  These days, I am a cook---not by profession, but for love.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Letter # 14 The Wide Wide World of Chicago

June 2014

It is the end of a long day with lots of walking in Florence. Funds have been low so meals have been small and less frequent than one might choose. We decide to stop in a local eatery and splurge on a real dinner. When mine comes, I dig into a large bowl of creamy, silky, hearty mushroom risotto. My mouth waters even now when I think of it. I was filled, I was comforted with this rustic Italian bowl of goodness.

I love to travel. I love to see "the spot" where history happened. I love to walk the streets with people in their town. I love the art, the color, the form in brick and stone.
There are particular flavors and moods in different locales. Each enticing in it's own way. Everyday in Chicago, I feel as though I am traveling. There are many landscapes. As I walk the streets and shop in the produce markets, the languages and many of the products are unknown to me. The language of signs and marquees of stores are defined by neighborhoods. They advertise their wares, but also the ethnicity of their inhabitants. There are German neighborhoods, Russian and Jewish neighborhoods. We live in a Polish and Korean neighborhood. The eating, shopping, and cultural practices are dictated by the heritage of the inhabitants. The Czechoslovakians and the Romanians are settled in just South of us. To the East are those from Sierra Leone, Ghana and South Africa. Downtown one finds those of Hispanic heritage.
Obviously, people from all over the world are gathered here. Our missionaries are gathered here. Perhaps the people have come to hear the message of Jesus Christ that the missionaries have come here to share. Each month the records of those who have become members of the church come into the mission office. Always the list of birthplaces reads something like this: Vietnam, Spain, Alabama, Philippines, Indiana, Nigeria, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Idaho, Bolivia, Mexico, Jamaica, etc.

There are approximately 7.5 million people within the boundaries of our mission. Heavenly father loves each one of them. He watches over and cares for each of them one by one. The missionaries share the message of that love with individuals one by one. As the world comes together here in this wide, wide world of Chicago, they can be filled and comforted as they come to know that they are children of a Heavenly Father who loves them.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Letter # 13 To Our Grandchildren

May 2014

In the Illinois Chicago Mission there are 212 young missionaries living in apartments scattered across the city and country. They are far from home and family. They have come here from all over the world.They spend their days knocking on doors, contacting those who have asked for a visit, giving service, teaching those who want to hear their message. We love them for the effort they put forth and the love they share with those they meet. As we watch them labor with pure intent, we think of you,

You are growing up in a religious culture with a strong heritage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored to the earth in 1830. The short form name of Mormons has been used from the beginning and we referr to ourselves today as Mormons along with the rest of the world who know of the existance of the church. Joseph Smith explained that he could never deny the things that he had seen and heard because he knew it and he knew that God knew that as well. Some of you who are old enough and your parents and your grandparents know what we know relative to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We each know what we know because of feelings that are ours alone. Witnesses of the spirit to each heart and mind anchor these feelings.These feelings can not be impircally proven, but in no way can they be denied. As we apply the things that we know in our everyday lives, we find a lot of happiness, and success, and growth. These are all good things to us. Because of this and because the scriptures ask us to, we choose to share our treasure. Your parents, and your grandparents and presently 90,000 young men and women have given years of their life to share with anyone who will hear, the things that are dear. All of you and your parents and grandparents have felt the sting of detractors who attack with words and actions your motives and your beliefs. I want you to know that you do not have to be ashamed of what you believe or the motives involved in sharing what you know. For those who go out among the people to share, the motive is love alone. There is no reward other than seeing people's lives change for the better. The effort is to offer themselves up to God's service and share his love. The effort is to do what Jesus did. There are people who are not interested in hearing what is to be shared. That is okay. Sometimes they don't refuse politely and that is okay too. Agency is the operative word. As you employ your agency relative to your beliefs, so may others do the same.
Treasure your beliefs, your culture and your heritage. Maintain the standard of love and acceptance that Jesus taught. Live the statutes outlined in the scriptures and taught by modern prophets. If you feel the desire to share your beliefs and feelings, know that there will be those who will want to hear. 
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..........2 Timothy 1:8.

With Much Love,
Grandma and Grandpa

Friday, May 23, 2014

Letter # 12 Hit By A Car

April, 2014

My phone has become like an added appendage to my body. It is with me 24/7.  With technology as it is, I am available 24 hours a day seven days a week. Accident and illness are not on a clock. This is okay with me because as I've talked about before, I am lucky enough to be able to consecrate my time to service----100% of my time.  The phone rings and I answer "Hello, Sister Abbott". The missionary calling always says "Hello, how are you Sister Abbott?" Automatically I frequently say "Great, how are you.?" They always reply with "Fine" and then proceed to explain how they are not fine. The ailments are common and uncommon, complicated and simple in all the extremes. We plow forward doing our best to arrive at a solution that brings comfort and at least the hope of healing. 
This night, I answer the phone and the message is the kind you pray daily not to hear. "Sister Abbott, Elder D..... has been hit by a car."  My heart sinks at the same time it picks up pace, my stomach turns over and auto pilot kicks in. The broken heart and mind numbing emotion will come later. In this case, the injuries are not life threatening and the search for which hospital to go to begins. Chicago is huge with the good, the bad and the ugly in hospitals. The missionaries are spread out from the Wisconsin border down thru the northern third of Indiana. It takes us a full 45 minutes to identify the hospital of choice. In this case the missionary was lucky. He was wounded but he would recover. He did sustain multiple injuries that would send him home. He was within three weeks of the end of his two years so he would go home and not return.
When the trauma was over, I determined that spending precious time searching for a hospital would never be repeated. We would identify and locate hospitals by ward and stake for the entire mission. In the church we hear repeatedly the mantra of preparedness. It is a focus worth incorporating into every aspect of our lives. It makes our way smooth. It rescues us from unfortunate circumstance. It maximizes our time. It keeps us whole. It requires an investment of time and effort. This missionary was prepared-----he was wearing a helmet. In return for his preparation, in case of an accident, his function and possibly his life was spared. What could have been a fractured skull or permanent brain damage was only a concussion. We are grateful for tender mercies.

Letter # 11 Sunday School

March 15 , 2014

When I was growing up, we would walk up to the corner bus stop and catch the bus to go downtown. There we would transfer to the Cramer Ave bus and ride it to the stop closest to Preston Ave. From here we could walk down the street to a repurposed army barracks and go to church. After the army barracks I think we had church in the VFW Hall and after that an older home turned dancing school. Finally, with utmost time efficiency, we used the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sunday after they had met on Saturday. Following much fund raising and sweat equity, we went to church in "our" new church which was a one room rectangle with some folding accordion doors to make classrooms for Sunday School. A year or so before I graduated from high school, a chapel was added to the rectangle. We finally had a real church.
For the past 47 years, We have attended church is lovely structures, tastefully decorated and attractively landscaped. They contain chapels, kitchens, classrooms, gym/cultural halls and a library. When we arrived in Chicago, we were assigned to attend the Lake Shore 1st ward. The address went into our GPS and off we went. We drove and drove until we reached the tall buildings of downtown Chicago. The neighborhood is charming with a variety of row houses and apartment buildings sitting just on the fringe of the downtown. We pulled up to the address and discovered that we would be attending church each Sunday in a school. Not only was it a school, but a school of the same era as my elementary school. I was right at home based on my history and location in time. The smell of the waxed wood floors, the writings on the blackboard, the student crafts hanging from the ceilings---all lovely.
Sticks and stones make a building. Heart and spirit make a church. I really don't feel any different at church in our school than I did in my recent chapels or my long ago barracks. Chris, our son in law shared an impression while visiting in Germany. "The biggest landmark there is a giant cathedral that is 800 years old. I felt like the cathedral was a sacred space.  When I see how much work and effort was made by so many people over hundreds of years, I can't help appreciating their faith and sacrifice". I love the faith and sacrifice evidenced by the many churches, old and new dotted around Chicago. I love the feelings of love and the warmth of the spirit that come to me in church. I'm grateful for the sticks and stones and the heart and spirit combined by faith to make our churches. I love my Sunday school.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Letter # 10 Where Am I and Who Is Using My Name?

March 1, 2014

When hurricane Andrew hit south Florida, it wiped the landscape clean of all trees, bushes, street signs and traffic signals. When we drove down the street to our house, or what was left of it, we couldn't find it. It was then that I learned how dependent we are on the familiar landmarks and orienting factors of our environment in grounding us---allowing us to recognize where we are.
When I am out and about, I see men in slim trousers and suit coats. The color is not limited to their ties. They have on things like rose colored trousers, blue coats and patterned orange ties. They scoop up their little boys with shoulder length hair and head down the street, walking home. I'm a little lost in both time and space. Am I in Paris, France? When did the era of dark business suits and coordinated ties leave us? Doesn't one buckle a child into the car seat and jump in the car to go home? Where am I? Familiarity is relative, I guess. This same man would be lost in Texas.
I love the city! I love the row houses, the intriguing apartments, the high rise buildings of glass and steel and old brick and stone. The people walking on the streets bring a fascinating energy to the city. I feel excitement when I come downtown! I'm in Chicago!

I love broccoli, cheese, beef filet, bacon, cantaloupe, avocados, fried corn, chicken, pasta, chocolate, tomatoes, green beans, apple sauce, sauerkraut, pork, eggs, spinach,
tex-mex, cabbage soup, and a plethora of other foods. Do you see pizza on the list? That is because I do not like pizza. Chicago is famous for pizza. There are many "must try" spots around town for pizza. One of those is a place called Lou Malnotti's. They make Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. This is a pizza at least 3 inches thick. If you think you are running in to pick up a quick pizza after work---forget it. It takes a half hour to cook. There are many choices but the one they call "The Lou" is a vegetarian pizza with fresh tomatoes, spinach and lots of cheese. When the new missionaries arrive in the mission, we all have dinner at the mission home and this pizza is what is served. A huge wedge is on the plate. How do you eat a huge wedge of pizza that you don't like? One bite at a time. First bite down. I eat the second and then the fifth and then the last bite. I scoop another large wedge onto my plate and begin again!  Who am I? I really don't know who this is, but she loves this Chicago Deep Dish Pizza!

I'm loving a lot of things about this mission!

Letter # 9 Making A Nest

February 8, 2014
As we close the door of our house on the cold and snow, I can't help wonder where the birds spend their days and nights in this dark winter time. Everyone needs a place to snuggle in and feel safe from the world. The first time we pulled up to the house that had been rented for us, we found Sister Crook shoveling the driveway and Elder Crook inside cranking up the heat and turning on the lights. These missionaries hail from Star Valley, Wyoming. As it turns out we have driven past their house over and over as we visited Chandra and her family in Rexburg. They have a dairy farm right on the main highway. In addition they have family connections in Flower Mound. We will work out of the mission office with them. Sister Crook is the mission secretary and Elder Crook handles the finances and apartments. As the Crooks gave us a tour of our new nest, we could see that there were a few twigs that would need adjustment and the addition of a few soft grasses before it would feel like ours.  To our surprise the kitchen already had some new soft grasses. Ian and Cristina had gotten a key to the house, consulted with Elise about our tastes, shopped at the store and left groceries, paper goods, cleaning supplies and treats in the kitchen for us. Once again, we felt the love of those supporting us. With every step the way has been smoothed for us. We feel safe from the world.

At the mission office, we find another set of senior missionaries, the Taggarts. Elder Taggart takes care of the I Pads, phones and cars. Sister Taggart is the referral secretary. Interestingly, there are approximately 400 people who refer themselves every month for visits from the missionaries. Sister Taggart determines which missionaries cover each address and sends them the information. The missionaries then follow up. The Taggarts also sold their home before they came out from Washington state. They will return to Utah to live near their children.

Dad's assignment will be to take over the apartments from Elder Crook. In addition, he will always be my companion as we need to tend to medical situations in the mission. Once again it becomes clear that there will be more to our service than a job description list. The six of us in the office are the functional support for the entire workings of the mission. nothing could really work without the investment of our time, talents and love. Love being the operative word. There could be no service here without the great love we feel for our young missionaries. The young missionaries depend upon us to gather and arrange the twigs and twines and feathers for their nest.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Letter # 8 Hello Chicago

February 1, 2014

We have a grandson serving as a missionary. The words I had spoken to him when he received his assignment came sliding back into my mind. God loves his children the same no matter where they live. And so with that remembrance we settled into the idea that we could love, serve and be His hands  in Chicago as well as anywhere else. It's a good thing because we arrived in the Windy City today. We opened our car doors to sub zero temperatures and white and grey and black piles of snow. The range of color indicative of how long those piles had been there. Chicago was in the midst of one of it's worst winters in history and now our Texas blood was here to join in. If I continue with details, it will degenerate into whining so suffice it to say we are freezing up here.
What is the mission nurse specialist? Well, a mission is a geographically designated area. In this case, the area contains approximately seven million people and 212 young missionaries. In round numbers, half are young men and half are young women. The mission nurse specialist administers and co-ordinates the health care of these 212 missionaries. As we were waiting for our report date, I was thrilled to realize that the inspirations and ideas that were coming to my mind had more to do with sharing love and comfort with these young missionaries than medical information. Love isn't love til you give it away.

Letter # 7 Bye, Bye Texas

January 26, 2014
About 3:30 am we arose, pulled our suitcases downstairs and took off for the airport via a van provided by the Missioary Training  Center. We are flying home to Texas to pick up our van and drive to our mission in Chicago. We ended up in Texas by surprise 14 years ago. Now we are leaving the place we had lived for longer than any other in our married life.  A plan was in place. Having sold our home in Texas and purchased a home on a lake in Michigan, we would spend our summers up North and our winters with our family in Texas. Now, as we pack up our van with our final load of belongings, our plan flys apart like the little pig's straw house.  As we are packing for our mission, our Texas family is packing for a move to Denver, CO.
We started this whole endeavor by moving forward one step at a time, Listening to the spirit and making our next move. This is what we will do a year from now as we conclude our mission. Listen for what our next step should be. In the meantime, we will be coming home to two storage units full of stuff and a hotel room. We will travel to Chicago on the well wishes of our Texas friends and our family.  Although we will miss all that is familiar, we are so filled with anticipation, excitement, and sense of mission that we drive away without tears.

Letter # 6 Medicine for a Week

January 20, 2014

MTC check.  Now for a week of medical training. We moved to the Marriot Suites in Provo and began a morning to  night training and orientation for our assignments as medical specialists in our missions. Some were nurses like me and some were doctors who would serve as area medical advisors covering several missions.  The details are not important here but the professionals who came in day after day to present unimaginable amounts of information on medicine, policy, insurance, record keeping etc. were amazing. They made hours of sitting and listening interesting and even fun. Of course it helped that we were all intimidated about our assignments and were grasping at any and all help to boost our confidence.  My favorite aspect of training was the emphasis on ministering as opposed to administering. Protocals and policies were based on legalities of course, but also on scripture and the spiritual well being of individuals as well as their physical well being.  We would be ministering to individuals not just running a medical clinic.  "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual.......D&C 29:34.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Letter # 5 Letting It All Soak In

January 18, 2014
When our week at the MTC was accomplished----and I say accomplished because we felt like we had really done something by just surviving---we had to sit back and let the whole experience sink in. What had we gleaned from our time there? Kernals of remembrance pop up continually as we go thru our days, but for this moment, I want to remember this list of three things:

1)  Share the truth and it will be evident to those who are looking for it through the Spirit.
      When I was a young mother with children, but no idea how to parent them, I read vociferously on the subject. There were ideas and theories and studies and the experiences of other parents and on and on.  Questions of which way to turn and who to listen to arose with all the different voices.  As situations developed in our home, I would find that particular ideas from this myriad of reading would come to mind and I could apply them for good in a certain situation. These ideas I deemed eternal truths. Truth is non-negotiable, never changing, consistently positive, and always beneficial. When someone is seeking truth they will recognize it when they hear it. Our opportunity is to share. The opportunity to recognize and act belongs to the hearer.  This is significant to me because it makes my role as a missionary clear. I am not responsible for anything other than sharing the love of Jesus Christ with anyone in need. The Spirit will illuminate truth to the hearts and minds of those who seek.

2)  Supporting and serving those around us is doing what the Savior would do if he was here.
      As mature individuals in age and experience, life has afforded many positions of leadership and supervision and "being in charge" as it were. In the world, these kinds of roles are equated with desirable station, success, higher pay, recognition, etc. In fact we come to expect that this is our normal.  In the Lord's society, there is no hierarchy. Acting in the Savior's stead allows us to respond to need as it exists. Supporting and serving those around us is critical to the happiness and success of all. When we received our assignment for our mission, we had no idea exactly how to proceed. Within a few days, we began to receive emails, phone calls, airline tickets, etc. providing us with the support we needed to move forward. All of this was extended to us by others who were also serving as missionaries. Others who were dedicating their time to serving others. We would began to experience the joy and enjoyment of serving others without the encumberment of  "the world".

3)  But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7.  Sharing talents and strengths we possess fills the needs of those around us. Our perspective shifted to view our time of service as an opportunity to work the Lord's plan of community. He has provided everyone with gifts and talents. His purpose in this was to assure that as we as humans work together, every need can be satisfied----something like the cogs in a gear. We don't have to be all things to all people in all circumstances. It's not about us. It is about the sharing of many for the good of the individual. As individuals are served the community becomes whole.  Consequently, we don't have to worry as we embark on this mission of service. What ever we can do will be enough because there will always be others who are  strong where we are lacking. There will always be the Savior's grace to fill the gaps.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Letter # 4 The MTC

January 13, 2014
Our report day was finally in sight............!

We hopped on a plane with no idea what to expect and headed for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. We love this area and felt very familiar with our surroundings due to the many years our many children spent there attending BYU. Arriving in Provo would be the last familiar thing we would experience for a long time. Why would you have to go to a training center to be a missionary? We didn't know, but we would soon see a new world open before us. This new world is totally removed from the one we all know. Here there is no media, no need for shopping, or cooking, or most of the other daily tasks one spends time on. The Spirit dominates your consciousness, bringing a peace and a feeling of lifted cares. Our time was occupied with classes and devotionals and meeting new friends who were headed off to other mission assignments. The days were long and the schedule full-----a mission is not for wimps! Although the bounteous meals set before us, with no effort on our part, were a lovely experience, our bed became our best friend. We fell into it early and stayed there until the last possible minute before starting the next new day. There were approximately 200 senior missionaries----people of retirement age---in the MTC the week we spent there. In contrast, there were several thousand young missionaries there the same week. Those young missionaries stole my heart right then and there but that is another post to come.

Letter # 3 The Call

December 2013
It had taken all summer to order our affairs. Our home sold in July and we furnished two storage units with all of our earthly belongings. We moved in with our daughter and her family until it came time to leave on our mission. When we finally sent in our papers, it was the end of October. The standard waiting time to receive an assignment is 4 to 6 weeks. It is now December----we have been waiting for 6 weeks. We are not waiting for a phone call. We are waiting for a letter from the The President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will tell us where we will serve and what our assignment will be. In addition we will learn when we are to report to the missionary training center. It will be heaven directed and made according to needs present. The mail box becomes the focus of everyone in the house. Time is spent watching for the mailman's approach on numerous days. Toward the end of week 7 the coveted envelope arrives. We hook up with our far flung family on the phone and on Face Time and when everyone was gathered, we open our Call. We couldn't have been more surprised! Family members had registered guesses ranging all over the country. One grandson hit the nail on the head when he predicted Chicago. We were called to serve in the Illinois Chicago Mission. My assignment was as the mission nurse specialist and Max would receive his assignment on arrival. We were to report to the Missionary Training Center on January 13, 2014. Lots of answers and lots of new questions.

Letter # 2 All Systems Go

May 2013.
 How does one become a missionary? We started by scanning the list of opportunities. The posting that caught our eye and interest was working with a program called the Perpetual Education Fund and Self Reliance Centers. The PEF allows individuals from developing countries to receive educational funds and then repay those funds when they finish their education and are employed---then the next person uses the funds, etc. The Self Reliance Centers are paired with this and provide classes and training in life skills, health and educational basics. We will need to serve somewhere in the world other than the United States since these programs are not offered here. We can do this!  Filling out scores of forms and questionnaires are our next task. All body systems are ok'd to serve. In this age of technology, you push the button and your info heads off into cyberspace. But wait, don't push the button yet! We become aware that although we have a plan, there are family circumstances that cannot be ignored. There are concerns that become apparent and this changes things. Our forms get a do over and we say that we will need to serve in the United States. We say that we are willing to serve anywhere and in any capacity. Now we push the button and the wait begins. what are we waiting for? We are waiting for our "Call".

Letter #1 New Colors

It is April 2013.
 Life is good. We are wrapped in a cocoon of family, friends, service opportunities, and comfortable physical circumstance. But, there is a gentle stirring in our hearts and minds. After years of blessed living we are wishing to give back a portion of the love that has distilled upon our spirits and warmed our beings. The way becomes clear for us----we will leave our cocoon and spread our wings. Our days will hold new color and space. We will serve as missionaries. But how do we start? After much prayer and pondering, we feel like the first step is to sell our home. A FOR SALE sign sprouts in the yard.