Monday, March 28, 2016

My last blog entry:    My mission would never have happened, let alone have been such an awesome blessed adventure without the support of my wonderful eternal companion.         

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach; and I shall but love thee better after death.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


-Three months of pure sunshine yielding the most luscious green foliage and the most splendid variety of colorful flowers we've ever seen….followed by ten months of steady drizzling rain!

-Attending transfer meetings every six weeks where training companions welcome approximately twenty greenies and where approximately twenty seasoned missionaries bear their farewell testimonies….plus an acappella rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

-Spending Christmas alone with no family (and not even a tree).

-The unbelievable quiet of Sacrament meetings with no children.

-Referring to twenty and thirty year olds as “kids”….make that “our kids.”

-The joy of actually studying, as opposed to just reading, the scriptures with your spouse.

-Tearing up on Valentines Day as you read post after post on facebook as “your” sweet and special YSAs say how lonely it is not to receive a Valentines (card, flower, candy, or even a wish) from someone special for the ??? year in a row.

-Wondering where the YSAs get all their energy, expending all of your own energy, wishing you had more of your own energy, and wondering what happened to all your energy that you used to have.

-Sitting proudly with 150 YSAs as they are spiritually mesmerized at a live fireside where an apostle of The Lord and his wonderful wife candidly answer questions the kids have submitted to them.

-The friendly monthly chat you have with your old-time Catholic barber (still attends mass in Latin) and both of you seeing how much you have in common including the belief in the divinity of The Savior.

-Feeling somewhat foolish as you realize how much you miss your refrigerator ice maker and your king-size bed.

-The joy of receiving communications (letters, packages, emails, phone calls) from your friends and family back home and the disappointment of not receiving more.

-The enormous pride you feel wearing you mission name tag everywhere you go….and the immense foolishness you feel when your wife won't let you wear it on your pajamas.

-The enormous pride you feel seeing your wife proudly wearing her mission name tag everywhere she goes.

-Averaging being out with the YSAs five nights a week until 10:00-ish when back home you'd be in bed asleep by then.

-Explaining the legend of Lilith to a couple of ward missionaries, who had an investigator wanting to know The Church's “stand” concerning her.

-Attending/participating in weekly PEC/Ward Council, the three hour block (we always went to the Gospel Essentials class, of course), FHE, teaching three Institute classes a week, and attending two others to assist; and attending/participating in monthly baptisms, YSA Institute Council, Area Leadership Institute Council, firesides, local and broadcasted CES devotionals, transfer meetings, Senior FHE, YSA socials, game night, temple night, “Linger-Longer/Break the Fast,” etc.

-Giving a blessing of comfort the third night in the mission field and averaging one blessing of some type every three weeks throughout your entire mission….running out of consecrated oil.

-Embarrassingly discovering that only tourists use umbrellas no matter how hard in rains….and watching it rain “sideways” at times.

-Dealing long-distance with the phone company, the Post Office, your insurance agent, your health care provider/pharmacy, banks, credit card companies, internet providers, retirement entities, and numerous government agencies.

-Missing your eight kids, 28 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren and all their assorted special events ranging from birthdays and holidays to baptisms and ordinations….along with all their accomplishments from graduations to “artistic” school performances. (We don't distinguish between “step,” “adopted,” “half,” etc.)

-Setting an example for your eight kids, 28 grandkids, and five great-grandkids.

-Entering the YSA “lip-syncing” contest dressed as Sonny and Cher “singing” “I Got You Babe.”

-Helping your wife as she bakes the equivalent of six, 9x13 cakes and makes the equivalent of 50 chicken cordon bleu sliders (mini-sandwiches) each and every week. (And yes, I did help—had to take a taste of every thing she made and had to carry them from the car to the Institute building. After all, quality control and transportation are important!)

-Observing the maturity and success of “twenty-some” year olds serving in the Elders Quorum Presidency and the Relief Society Presidency and providing shadow leadership for those others who need support, encouragement, and direction.

-Enjoying Sister Center's excitement at the Broncos Super Bowl win and appreciating her hiding her disappointment that she couldn't participate in Denver's celebratory parade.

-Teasing my son about the different rules between us as senior missionaries and his rules as a young Elder years ago—we can phone/email/skype as often as we please, watch TV, sleep-in until 8, and even date (each other, of course)--he's super envious.

-Proudly watching Sister Center preparing separate foods for those with special dietary needs such as gluten-free, diabetes, lactose intolerant, etc.

-The thrill of twelve engagements during our mission and the bittersweet feeling knowing we'll be losing 24 close friends as they move on to their respective family wards.

-Learning and often participating in the wildest FHE activities imaginable including: “Dodge-ball Battleship,” “Lie in a Box,” “Gaga Ball,” “Find the Bacon,” “Three-beach Volleyball,” “Oompa Loompa Ball,” and “The Live Version of Hungry Hippo.”!!!

-Being recognized on the street, in a store, etc. as Mormon missionaries by members and non-members alike always followed by a brief though pleasant conversation. And being surprised that a good many of these people tell us that they're inactive and then tell us how proud they are of us for serving a mission. (Even had a non-member pay for our lunch one day—what a nice surprise.)

-Preparing and grilling 140 teriyaki shish kabobs for a Hawaiian luau as well as planning/hosting a Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest, and three other socials/parties.

-Having The Spirit unequivocally testifying to us that we're in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, for the right reason.

-Volunteering during our “spare time” to clean, sort, and re-arrange every cupboard, closet, storage area, and office in the entire Institute building.

-Having a huge pantry in our apartment filled from top to bottom with Institute baking supplies—right now in addition to the normal baking ingredients, we have 22 boxes of Reese’s Chocolate Cookie Bar mix, 37 cake mixes, 2 dozen cans of fruit dessert filling, and tons of marshmallows, rice krispies, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and on and on.

-Enjoying the spiritual and temporal comradery of the other 18 senior couples serving in our mission.

-Having only one “tiff” between us in the entire 13 months although it occasionally reoccurred—that being my trying to get Sister Center to take better care of her bad knee by staying off it more, icing it at night, wearing her brace, and getting her cortisone shots on time.

-Teaching the newly developed core curriculum Institute classes and helping the students fulfill their requirements and assignments so they could obtain college credit transferable to any BYU school.

-Learning so much about the Gospel that: 1) you realize how little you knew, 2) you are extremely motivated to learn more, and 3) your testimony grows even more than you ever thought possible.

-Getting to know and “connecting” with each and every YSA so you understand their hopes, problems, dreams, and challenges; and then providing them with encouragement, common sense advice, Gospel-oriented counseling, and yes—warm hugs and a shoulder to cry on.

-Testifying to the world that: "We are disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and have been called of Him to declare His word among all people, that they might come unto Him and have everlasting life."

-Knowing, “We have fought the good fight; we have finished our course; we have kept the faith.” (I Timothy 4:7)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

   Our "Sonny & Cher" routine for the ward's talent show  (Honest, that's us!)!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016