Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week Eight

This week we had combined conferences with the DeLand, Leesburg, and Orlando Zones on Tuesday and with the Orlando South, Hunters Creek, and Cocoa Zones on Wednesday. They included gospel and proselyting training by Pres. Berry and the assistants, nutrition, exercise & rest guidance by Sis. Berry & Sis. Nielson, apartment guidance by Elder & Sis. Busath, and auto/bike training by Elder Gebs (picture below).

Lunch-time briefing on car & bike policies for the North Zones
Answering an apartment question

On Monday pre-dawn, Jan took and made calls to get a missionary into the ER for kidney stone treatment, and later in the day worked to get another missionary into another ER for a P-day concussion. She used her time at the conferences checking many others with concerns over flu, allergies, foot problems, bites, and infections. We continue to be inspired by the dedication of our missionaries, who try to keep working through their problems so they don't miss out on teaching opportunities. They are well-focused on their purpose here, to invite people to Come Unto Christ. Nevertheless, Jan has to remind them to get sufficient rest and treatment to avoid relapses and complications that could consume more time if ignored.  
The FOM banner  

The Berrys used some games & competitions among the zones to bring a lot of fun into the meetings. At the end of the conference they brought out a Mission Banner and allowed each missionary to make a commitment to do his personal best by adding his thumb-print and name. 

Elder Nielson with the pinata

After both conferences there was time to renew 
acquaintances with friends & companions from previous assignments. The piñata shown here was made by an Hispanic sister for Pres. Berry, but many people there thought it looked more like Elder Nielson, who posed for a "likeness" picture.

We had many good visits with the young missionaries and caught a few pictures with some of them as shown here.

Yesterday we attended the baptism of a man who has been taught recently by the sisters who live close to the mission office. He's shown at the right with his wife and two middle children. The sisters who taught him are shown with Jan at the upper right, and his oldest daughter is with Jan in the lower right picture. Their baby was asleep when these were taken. The wife and daughter were baptized previously. There was a joyful spirit among all who attended the baptism, but particularly with the man who was baptized. We were blessed to be there to witness this baptism. They also served the best empanadas we've ever tasted!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week Seven

Saying bye to Sis S

Tuesday we said goodbye to Sis S, who is returning home early to her family for rehab on her foot & knee as a result of a car-bicycle accident (she was on the bike). She has been doing on-line proselyting from the mission office for a few weeks to minimize her time on crutches, and has been loved by the office staff. 

New missionaries and their trainers at the follow-up training meetings
On Thursday Pres & Sis B conducted follow-up training meetings with our newest set of missionaries and their companions. As always, the meetings were uplifting and enjoyable and the lunch was great. Sis Nielson presented video clips and discussion on adjustments to missionary life, getting enough rest, and avoiding stress.
Spire of our church building with the
 Orlando Tempe spire behind

The Orlando Temple is across the street from the Stake Center building where we had the meetings, and provides a beautiful setting. It is such a bright white, and stands above most of the surrounding landscape, adding an inspiring touch to the whole area. We caught this photo while taking the trash outside after the meetings.

On Friday we had a meeting with Elder Kopischke, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the mission leadership council. Again, an uplifting spirit, good training, and opportunity for questions and answers with him.  

Sage insight at a restaurant
Saturday our 'Seniors' district visited a Farmers Market and the Charles Morse Art Museum in Winter Park, close to Orlando. We saw this advice when walking by a dessert/bakery restaurant on the way to the market, suggesting an alternative that Sis Nielson could discuss in her next presentation dealing with stress.

Fresh Peaches
The Farmers Market

The museum is primarily devoted to Tiffany collections ... lamps, artwork, furnishings, and a re-assembly of the 1893 Tiffany Chapel that was shown at the Chicago world's fair and later damaged by fire. Picture taking is not allowed in the museum, so we have only our memories of this interesting place.  

Sis Nielson continues to help with missionary medical concerns for our mission and the Jacksonville mission, with many dozens of calls & texts every day that help missionaries navigate the medical system, get treatment and advice, and make us thankful to be serving here in Orlando. She also dispenses much motherly advice, sympathy, and sometimes the "work it off" guidance to help us lose ourselves in this great cause of inviting people to Come Unto Christ, develop Faith, Repent, be Baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. There's rarely a meeting without her leaving several times to take the calls, consult with the mission presidents or their wives or the regional Dr in Atlanta. 

Saturday afternoon we enjoyed helping Elder & Sis B move beds & furniture to and from different missionary apartments and trying to avoid the afternoon rainstorms. They're fun and uplifting people to be with. The mission district/zone map is still progressing from the prototype shown here.     


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week Six

Ducks fleeing the rainy parking lot.

We kept the camera in the car this week and caught a few pictures of the Florida scenery during the course of our work. These ducks were crossing the parking lot in the rain when we went to a bookstore to find a Portuguese Bible. 

Wildlife in front of the Mission Home
The wild turkeys were wandering the street in front of the mission home when we went back there to look for Jan's lost keys to the car and the mission office. They went missing about 10 days ago during transfers. We're told that a neighbor feeds these turkeys to keep them coming back. 

Our new Brazil flag at the MO

Our Portuguese missionaries brought us a tray of 'Brigadeiros' (creamy chocolate balls rolled in chocolate sprinkles) and a new Brazilian flag. Everyone in the office enjoyed the chocolates, and we hung the flag on the wall by the copier at the mission office for a few days. We now have it hung in our apartment.
Our Portuguese Elders & illustrations

The missionaries came by the next night for dinner and to teach us a lesson on the Plan of Salvation (in Portuguese). They're great teachers, and are working hard to find the Brazilians, who seem to diffuse into the English-speaking wards rather than staying together in groups. The picture here shows them after the lesson with the figures they used to illustrate the Lord's plan of happiness.  

Sister Nielson taking a call in her 'office'

Sister Nielson has been busy in her role as mission nurse, responding to medical needs and concerns among our ~210 missionaries plus those from a similar number of missionaries in the Jacksonville mission, which was added to her assignment last week. The space in the mission office is a bit cramped, since her calling didn't exist years ago when the office was laid out. She often works from the Assistant's desk by the copier, but frequently goes outside the front doors of the mission office for better cell phone reception and for privacy to discuss confidential matters. Yes, it's actually quite private outside because in 90-100 degree weather and a similar high range of humidity (heat index in the 100's), nobody lingers outdoors here. This happens so much that she started setting a chair outside, and on this occasion, the mission accountant brought a little table, complete with cover and a bottle of cold water for this photo-op. 

Sis Nielson's calls stack up, oftentimes 3-deep, with missionaries on her land-line, her Florida cell, and her Utah cell phones, mostly between 7 am and 11 pm. She spends much of her daytime arranging appointments with doctors and specialists, taking missionaries to medical appointments and physical therapy, and helping missionaries figure out whether they have an emergency or just need some over-the-counter medication or to get busy and work it out. Fortunately, the Lord has blessed her to perceive the underlying needs and circumstances and to find doctors and resources to meet the continually-arising needs. She does all the medical charting on the LDS medical web site, and her companion helps upload the digital x-rays & MRI files to the church servers and sometimes accompanies her in transporting missionaries to/from appointments. 

Sis. Nielson showing her 'found' keys

Pres & Sis B are very involved with her in contacts with missionaries, parents, and others and they have to make the hard decisions about treatment at home vs in-the-field. 

Sis Nielson worried a lot about losing her keys during the transfers, and retraced her steps almost everywhere looking for them. Then on Friday this week, she found them in the bottom of the first aid kit that we keep in the trunk of the car. Sis B called it the miracle of the keys, after even moving out her fridge to look for them.

Friday evening Temple Tour

Friday we went to a 'Temple tour' where the tour guide explained the purposes of LDS Temples, our beliefs about families, our pre-earth life, where we go after this life, and the importance of vicarious ordinances for those who died without having a chance to hear and accept the gospel and the atonement of Christ. The tour group walked around all 4 sides of the temple while covering the important doctrines of the gospel. There were about 50 people there, half of which were investigators of the church.   
The Orlando Florida Temple on Friday Evening

The temple was beautiful after the tour, with its lights making it stand out as a beacon of the light of the gospel to the world. We're glad to be serving here in beautiful Florida to help the missionaries and support the Lord's work in every way we can. Sis Nielson fielded about 6 calls during the tour, getting a Jacksonville missionary into an emergency room, but kept coming back in her dedication to participating in the tour. 

Flowers outside our bedroom window in Orlando
English class announcement we made for the Portuguese
Elders on some Brazilian group Facebook sites.

We live in a beautiful area of Orlando: Metrowest

Our Portuguese Elders identified some Facebook sites used by Brazilians in Orlando, and asked for help to post a notice about their English classes for Brazilians. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week Five

Our 19 new missionaries with the Mission Pres & his wife.
This week we saw our first transfers, which including 22 new missionaries who arrived on Monday in two groups. The first 19 (shown in picture) left the MTC around 5 am and had a cancelled flight to Orlando, so got rerouted via California to Philadelphia, where they got onto a connection arriving in Orlando Monday night. 
Sisters striking a creative pose.

We served them dinner at the church, after which the Sisters went to stay at the Mission Home and the Elders stayed at some other places. Three more, visa waiters, arrived later that night with different routing. One of our Portuguese visa-waiters finally got his Brazil visa and left today.  Our little Sister comes from the same town in Idaho where Jan was raised. The next morning they went to the church for interviews, assignments to their new "Trainer" companions and travel to their assigned areas.
Loads of baggage for the incoming & outgoing.

On Tuesday there were 16 Elders finishing their missions with final interviews, going to the Orlando Temple, and then coming to the mission home in the evening for dinner and farewells. We continued to have daily afternoon deluges of rain, which dampened the shoes, but not the spirits.

Shoes drying at the Mission Home

Jan & Sis B visiting with the departing Elders

Farewell Cake

Enjoyed much visiting, singing, testimonies, and last good-byes for dear friends. 
Last dinner at the Mission Home

Wednesday was filled with medical and office work, which also gave some rewarding visits. Jan & Sis. S gave a Book of Mormon to the physical therapist they've been working with. Thursday we received a new Sister to work in the employment resource center & helped move some furniture, recorded month-end vehicle records and received 6 more cars to replace those being sold-off or otherwise replaced. We also had a call from my former work colleague that he and his wife received their Brazil visas this week and will soon leave to work in the Porto Alegre Temple. 
Friday we continued to pick up sick and injured missionaries to take for medical tests and treatments. Received more bikes for new missionaries and shipped out some old ones to returning missionaries. Saturday we had a nice visit with the cable guy who came to fix the internet/cable receiver in our apartment. After seeing the family picture on our wall, he talked about his family and we talked about the church proclamation on the family and the values it teaches. We sent his address for followup by our missionaries.

Saturday night we talked to a man in the grocery line who noticed our missionary tags and said he was LDS. We gave him meeting times here, and he said he'd be there tomorrow. This morning we went to his ward to possibly meet him, but instead of finding him there, we were introduced to an incredible Brazilian member of that ward, with whom we enjoyed dinner this afternoon, and learned of many more Brazilian members and friends whom we had not previously identified. Also gained a better insight of Portuguese language interactions with Hispanic- and English- speaking members and investigators.