Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 19, 2014

    It is hard to believe that this was our last week in the mission.  It was such a busy week.  But as usual, the busiest weeks are the best weeks.
   Monday we received 7 new missionaries.  What was unusual was that they were all Elders.  This is the first time we have not had any Sisters come in on a transfer.  The picture to the left is of the seven Elders that came in.  They are a great bunch of Elders and an asset to the mission.
   The picture below is of the 29 missionaries at the Boston Temple the day before they fly home.  We are missing 3 Sisters as they were late getting to the Temple so they missed the pictures. 
   But with 29 going home and only7 coming in, lots of changes had to be made.  We closed 10 apartments.  This also required moving lots of furniture, bringing in 6 cars, and of coarse 10 phones. So their was a ton of coordination to get everything done. The sad part is that all this moving furniture and cleaning the apartments happens after transfers and after Sister Skidmore and I left for home.  This was a lot of work for Elder and Sister Holm.  We did as much as we could but the physical work couldn't happen until we actually moved the missionaries out. The Holms are wonderful and will do a great job!
  The biggest changes were due to the fact that 17 Sisters were going home and none came in.  So President Stoker had to make lots of changes to the rest of the mission getting all the Sisters taken care of.
   The picture to the left is of us with Elder Quinn and Elder and Sister Holm.  Elder Quinn is such a big man.  He plays football for BYU.  I wanted to get this picture because it showed his size.  Every time he would see me he would give me a great big hug at which time he would lift me off my feet and crush me.  He is a great Elder and we love him. 
   The Holms are from Idaho Falls and this is their 3rd mission.  They sure work hard and are so wonderful. We love them so!
   The next picture is all of us at the Boston Temple.  What a great group picture.  We love these missionaries so much and are so excited for them to return home to the families that love and miss them.  Words can hardly express the love each of them have for the Lord.  It is shown by their dedication and hard work for Him.  The world is a better place because of them.  The future of the Church will be good hands as they continue with their lives and hold to the iron rod.  They are our friends.
   The next picture is of MLT (missionary leadership training) meeting.  President Stoker changed this meeting to Friday because he wanted to train all the new Zone Leaders,  

District  Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders that occurred because all the leadership going home.  It was our last assignment before we left. There was about 60 missionaries there.  It was a bitter sweet time as we got to say our last good byes.  They all sang "God be with you until we meet again" to us and it was so emotional for us.  Tears were flowing.  It was sweet!
   The next pictures are of me with Elder Harrington and Elder Plyler.  I had so many teaching experiences with each of them.  They were assigned in Manchester for a long time which gave me great opportunities to serve with them.  They were great missionaries and had a lot of success.   I love them both so much!
   We had our 44th anniversary on the way home.  We stopped in Asheville NC and toured the Biltmore mansion.  It was decorated for Christmas and WOW!  It was so beautiful!
   Miriam and I had the most wonderful mission.  We made such good friends and learned to love our missionaries on another level.  But most of all our love for the Savior grew leaps and bounds.  We knew the Lord had restored His Church and that we were a part of it, and this experience added to the testimonies we already had.  Our love for the Work has grown so much!
Now its almost Christmas and celibrating the Lords birth just adds to the spiritual feast we are having. 
   Thank you Lord for this experience!  We love you!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014

  Well we just finished a lot of our lasts here in NH Manchester Mission.  This week was a big week of preparation to leave this coming Friday, December 19th. 
   The pictures to the left are of some of our good friends in Manchester Ward.  We had our Christmas party last Friday night.  It was dinner with some Christmas Caroling and Santa did come.  The top picture is us the Bishop Dickson.  He was converted 12 years ago and he is a wonderful Bishop and person.  The far left is me with Keith Stickney.  He taught the Gospel Doctrine class and Miriam and I got close to him and his wife.  His wife, Linda, teaches early morning seminary.  They are wonderful.  Miriam is with Elaine.  She is just the sweetest lady.  We just love her to death! Everyone was starting to say their good byes and it was so nice.
    The next picture is of President Stoker with his Assistants, Elders Lund and Harper.  They all work so hard running the mission and it was good to see them relax and have some fun. 
   The next picture is of the transfer board in President Stokers office.  Next week is transfers.  We are receiving 7 new missionaries and we are sending home 29 missionaries.  So we have been working on closing 10 areas.  That means 10 apartments, cars and phones.  It has been a ton of work.  We are seeing the backlash of the surge that happened after President Monson announced the lowering of the age for Sisters and Elders to enter the mission field.  I think we will be down approximately 50 missionaries from our high.
   Today, Sunday, 12-14-14, Miriam and I gave our farewell talks in Sacrament Meeting.   Miriam gave a wonderful talk on the light of
Christ and I talked on the miracle of His birth and life.  Jake Baldwin was the youth speaker and he spoke on Revelation.  Everything went well and we were surprised when the Bishop announced that they planned a going away get together for us in the Cultural Hall at the end of the block with cake for all.  It was so nice!!!!
   Then we had the baptism of Joe Rouleau.  All the missionaries in the picture had the opportunity to help teach Joe.  This was the most wonderful way to end our mission. 
   I have been so blessed to be able to teach with so many wonderful missionaries.  There were times when Miriam and I both were able to  teach with the missionaries.  There was a time we had 10 missionaries in our Ward.  This has been the most successful year for our Ward.  We have had over 10 baptisms this year.  Our prayer is that they will grow and continue in the faith.
   The picture below is of the area board showing all the areas we serve.  We are actually in 5 states.  It is really amazing.  We have learned so much!  Missionary work is the best.  We love our missionaries so much.  It is going to be hard to leave this next week.  We have a busy week with transfers and everything. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

   Winter is truly here.  Today the high will be about 20 degrees and it sure is cold. The low last night was 13.  Most of the snow that we got the week before is almost gone however.
   Monday we had all the local missionaries come to the office for Pizza and then they helped us put together the last 90 gift packets.  These are going to be given out to all the missionaries for Christmas. They are sure a wonderful group of missionaries  Starting from the left, Sisters Smedley, Holm, Skidmore, Craig, Frame, Elders Lund, Harper, Vaughn, Harrington, Erekson, Hanning and Pace.  Sitting are Sisters Danner and Tyler.  I took the picture!
    The next picture is of Amy Marquis's baptism.  She was baptized by her nephew, Brendon Herbert, from Baltimore and it was very special.  Elder Plyler and Pemberton were instrumental in her conversion.  I was fortunate to be able to help teach her.  Her parents are members and she took along time and lots of missionaries to finally accept the Gospel.  She is shown with Sisters Smedley and Craig who really helped her in her journey.  Her mother relayed the miracle of her conversion.  She learned in a RS lesson that if you would read the B of M with a person in mind and pray from them, miracles would happen.  It did.  Elders Plyler and Pemberton were in the
parents home for dinner when Amy stopped by and she listened to them.  It is wonderful miracle. 
   I heard Elder Plyler bare strong testimony of the Atonement as it related to his forgiving his alcoholic mother and it was really special.  Missionary work is so wonderful!
   We had dinner last night at the Lacey's home in Derry NH.  They are such special people.  They are so generous as they are always having missionaries over for dinner.  We are with Elder and Sister Holm and Elders Christensen and Perry.  The food was excellent as always.
   This week will be the week of preparation for transfers next week.  We have a lot of work to do getting ready to send 29 missionaries home and only receiving 7.  18 of those going home are sisters.   We are closing 10 areas which is a ton of work.  But it is all good and we will get the job done. 
   We only have this and next week here and it is bitter sweet!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014

     What a wonderful week we just had.  The pictures to the left were taken last Wednesday.  Miriam and I were asked to take Sister Buonforte to the Boston Airport as the flights out of Manchester were being delayed because of the weather.  The snow was just starting to fall and we were a little worried about going.  But we loaded up her luggage and took off.  The closer we got to Boston the snow turned to rain so we had no problem getting there.  Then on the way back, the farther north we got the more snow there was.  It was a wet snow and it stuck to the limbs of the trees and it was beautiful. 
   It is interesting that things that seems to be making things hard, when you take a minute to stop and really look at them, they are beautiful.  We stopped as we were coming into the parking lot to take a selfie.  It was really snowing and we
were having so much fun in it. 
   The next picture is out my office window.  Wow, lots of snow.  When we went home, our lights were flickering off and on.  Little did we know  that thousands of peoples power was going out.  The heavy snow caused lots of branches to break and fall on the power lines.  Actually over 100,000 people lost power.  We got a call from President and Sister Stoker and their power went out and they were concerned about us.  The mission home has a back up generator so we still had Thanksgiving there.  The bottom pictures are of us all there. 
   After dinner we all helped clean up then some put up the Christmas Tree and some of us helped put Christmas treats together for all the missionaries.  Then we all had Thanksgiving pie.  It was wonderful!
   We are now starting to get ready for transfers.  We have been notified that Grace Sewell received her mission call to our mission.  That is so cool!  We feel bad that we won't
be here to welcome her.  But we know she will love it.
   We have 30 missionaries going home and 7 coming in December.  So we are closing 8 areas which mean I have been asked to close 8 apartments.  I have sent out the notifications and preparing to close all those apartments.  Lots of work and lots of extra furniture!
   We have had 2 senior sisters come into the mission and they will work in Maine.  President Stoker has asked them to help with the apartment inspections and that will really help.  We had a new senior couple come to work at the JSM also. 
   Miriam and I have less than three weeks to finish things up and start home.  Lots of emotions are going through us.  We have been asked to speak in our Manchester Ward Sacrament Meeting in two weeks, so its all coming at us so fast. 
   I have been able to teach Christina a couple of times this past week with Elder Pace and Harrington.  She is an awesome lady.  She has 3 kids and life if really hard.  She is reading the B of M and loving it.  I hope she will continue.   I love seeing the excitement and joy people feel as they are introduced to the gospel.  We see her again Monday evening.
   Amy is being baptized this coming Saturday.  She has asked me to say the opening prayer at her baptism.  I was fortunate to help teach her with ELders Plyler and Pemberton. 
   Joe has committed to baptism on the 12th of December.  He is a great guy.  I have been fortunate to help teach him with Elders Harrington and Pace.  It has been so wonderful.   Missionary work is the best.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

   The pictures that are shown are of the new missionaries with their trainers at New Missionary Training.  This is a meeting that is held 2 weeks after they have entered the mission field where they receive training from President and Sister Stoker as well as the AP's.  We always prepare lunch for them and after lunch they play some games before they go back into their classes for more training.  The games they play are pretty awesome as they are usually scripture chases. I am always amazed at how much they know. 
   President and Sister Stoker work hard with the new missionaries as they start their missionary journey.  There is a lot of adjustments to make and some make them easy and some really struggle.  It is the goal always to keep them going because if they continue trying they will
adjust and make it.  This group has some exceptional missionaries but their are a few that struggle.  Their is one sister that has decided to go home.  She leaves this Wednesday and it is sad. 
   I had a wonderful experience teaching with the missionaries Wednesday night.  We taught Joe.  Miriam and I have taken him to church a few times and he is a great young man.  He was struggling with tithing, quitting coffee and some other things.  The teaching with  Elder Harrington and Pace was great.  I asked if he would like a blessing.  He said he wasn't sure what that was.  We explained it to him and he wanted it.  He asked if I would give it and it was so special.  The spirit was so strong.  He said he loved it and had some special experiences while it was given.  He has set a baptismal date of December 14th.  The Sunday before we start for home.  We are so excited for him.
  We had Concord Stake Conference this week end and it was great.  The Saturday night meeting was devoted to missionary work.  All the speakers were converts and gave their conversion stories.  They were wonderful.  President Stoker spoke as did President Anderson.  It is interesting to note that all the converts were former Catholics.  One sister said her boyfriend took her to the visitors center when they were in SLC, showing her everything.  She loved the statue of Christ and the one of Joseph Smith.  After going though the center, she asked where the statue of Jack Mormon was.  She had heard so much about him.  That got a good laugh!  After finding out what a Jack Mormon was she determined never to become one!
  Another sister was a sophomore at Dartmouth University.  She played for the woman's basketball team.  She was from Sun Valley Idaho and had some introduction to the church but never looked into it.  The missionaries found her and invited her to learn more and she thought she would ask "google".  She learned quickly that it was the wrong place to look for answers! She said it was better to ask god not google as to what things are true. While she was traveling with her team, they stayed at a Marriott Hotel and her roommate say a Bible and B of M in the night stand drawer and asked her what she knew about the B of M.  She realized she knew the B of M was true and testified as such.
   She went to Peru last summer on a humanitarian opportunity and she was quite supprised that while there she ran into two sets of Mormon missionaries.  They invited her to church and she loved it as the spirit enveloped her.  She will be wonderful convert.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Novenber 16, 2014

   We had a pretty quiet but very busy week.  The picture shown here is of us with Elders Harper and Lund.  They are the assistants to the president and they are awesome.  Elder Harper is from Arizona and his aunt and uncle are Mike and Patty Pierson. 
   We are working hard to get ready for the next transfer.  We have 9 new missionaries coming in and we have 30 leaving.  This is requiring us to close 10 areas.  This means we have to close 10 apartments, pick up all the furniture and adjust the missionaries all over the mission.
    We anticipate having more missionaries leave in the January transfer than is coming in also.  So it appears that the surge is over and we just don't know how it will all shake out.  But we know we will have a lot fewer missionaries that our high of 226.  We could be down to 160.  This will take a lot of the pressure off President and Sister Stoker. 
   We have 4 sets of senior missionaries coming in the next 60 days and that requires a whole set of work in itself.  But it is all good and work is wonderful.
   Miriam and I are now training Elder and Sister Holm.  They are our replacements.  They are from Idaho Falls and they are learning everything fast. 
   The weather has turned cold and it sure fills like winter.  No snow yet, but it won't be long.  We have received three invitations for Thanksgiving dinner.  We are grateful for that, as we will be having Thanksgiving dinner with the Stokers.  We sure love them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

   This week was so awesome!  The pictures to the left are of the new missionaries that came into our mission last Monday.  We had 15 come in.  10 sisters and 5 elders.  It was wonderful to welcome them into the mission and give them the training they all need just to get started. 
   Tuesday was transfer day.  All the new missionaries were paired up with their trainers and assigned an area.  You could see the nervousness in their eyes as they wondered who they would be serving with and where.  But they were all excited and quickly off to start their missionary journey.  They are a great bunch!
   During the Tuesday morning transfers, the Elders and Sisters going home give their Golden Truths and a chance to bear a short testimony.  They were all wonderful.
    The next pictures is of those missionaries going home at the Boston Temple.  It is always a highlight to be able to go to the Temple with them.  They are such special experiences.  We have served with them and it is hard to see them go. 
   Those going home were Elders Chapman, Crockett, Farnworth, Jessop, Weikes, Warner and Walker and Sisters Brown, Shipley, Taylor, Turley, and Lassen.
  Elder Walker served as an AP just before he left and Miriam and I got so close to him.  We love them all and know they will be great leaders in the church.
   Then last Friday night, the Holms and us went to Pizza Mart for pizza then played Rubicue afterwards.  Sister Holms won with Miriam coming in 2nd and I and Elder Holm pulled up the rear.  We always have fun getting together as senior couples for good food and fun.
   The bottom picture is of Elder Harrington, myself, Rob and Kathleen McCullough and Brother Young (ward mission leader).  What a special Sunday this was.
 Rob and Kathleen have 3 daughters, Heather, Hattie, and Sarah.  They have previously been baptized a few months ago and have been waiting for mom and dad to get ready and follow.  Rob worked hard at quitting smoking and did it.  Kathleen wanted to wait for Rob so they could be baptized together. 
   I was blessed to be able to help teach this wonderful family.  As I have said previously, when we went to their home the first time, I was surprised to see the whole family waiting for us around the dining room table with their scriptures and list of questions.  It was awesome.
   They live very frugally.  Rob works at Dunkin Donuts and Kathleen is a stay at home mom with lots of health issues.  The growth I have seen in this family is remarkable.  I watched Rob approach the Bishop today giving him a donation envelope.  Rob was so happy!  He was so shy and now he talks to everyone.  He told us that he has received a promotion at work which he never expected.  Not surprising to me!
   I love Elder Harrington so much.  He has been a very successful missionary.  His father died a few months ago and he did not go home for the funeral.  He stayed to do the Lords work.  And by doing that, the Lord has blessed him so much. 
    Miriam and I love all the missionaries so much.  They all have a story to tell.  They have sacrificed to be here.  They all love the Lord and they are all learning that service and sacrifice brings the blessings of Heaven.  This is a great work. 
   The Ward has been successful in missionary work this year.  There is another baptism scheduled in 2 weeks and I counted at least 5 investigators in Sacrament Meeting today.
   It has turned cold and we are wondering when we will get our first snow here in Manchester.  It has already snowed in northern Vermont, NH and Maine.  Maine got tons of snow last week.  But the time is going fast and before you know it Miriam and I will be on our way home.  Our release date is December 19th.  Goodness!