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.

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