Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week Thirteen

Monday Sister Nielson's office got painted to hide the former multi-colors where it was painted around the shelves when it was a storage closet. Looks great ... it was painted by a member of our Windy Ridge ward who works for the LDS FM group. Will post a picture next time if we remember. 

We think there has been a down-tick in the number of medical calls coming in to Sis Nielson, at least from the Orlando Mission. We've also seen some miracles of inspiration this week in how she was guided to help worried parents understand in-field versus at-home treatment policies & constraints for cases of continued health problems. 

Pres & Sis Berry & Sis Nielson continue to refine the training of our new missionaries, trainers, district & zone leaders, and assistants to protect missionary health, avoid accidents and common illness problems, do difficult things with less stress, etc., and it appears to be making some difference, for which we're all grateful. The medical information packets placed in each apartment appear to be getting used in many cases now, and some supporting hand-outs were distributed this week at the training meetings.

Elder Nielson continues to do computer & mapping support and help move missionary apartment furnishings to help the generally-increasing but ever-changing numbers of Elders & Sisters in our mission. He also helped Sis Nielson prepare & adjust training materials and take call-back messages during some of her busy phone times in off-hours. The mission office staff does most of her call support during daytime hours.
Elder Gallo & Elder Delgado
(holding his temporary license)

Thursday Elder Nielson took the Portuguese elders to the DMV for Elder Delgado to take his written tests for a Florida drivers license and show all his visa & residence documents. He passed the exams, but has to wait a few more weeks for the next available appointment for his driving test. 

Jan, Andrea, and Mike on the restaurant veranda.

Lake Eola, in Orlando

Thursday evening we had a wonderful dinner with Andrea and Mike, two of Sis Nielson's old friends from her running group in Salt Lake. Andrea was here from Salt Lake on business, and Mike is a Delta flight attendant who spends most of his time here in Orlando. We hope to see Andrea come on a mission as soon as she's ready to retire (ideally here in Orlando!). Mike's horizon is further off. He found a great restaurant (Spice Steakhouse) on the edge of Lake Eola, which is the lake on the Jan's facebook header. We took a few pictures of the nice scenery. 

On Friday we had a training meeting for our new missionaries who arrived a few weeks ago, and their trainer companions (6 Sister pairs and 7 Elder pairs). The picture below shows them at the training meeting with Pres & Sis Berry. 
Missionaries and their trainer companions with Pres & Sis Berry

Sis Good & Sis Eagar

Pres Berry announced the "Good and Eager" award for two Sisters, shown here, who participated in the training meetings. They're companions, and their ward & people they contact find their name combination fun to talk about. Some investigators have asked them if they choose names related to missionary work when they come on missions. They reassure us all that no, those are just their family names.  

Bald Eagle(?) on Moroni's Trumpet at Orlando LDS Temple

Elder Nielson went to the store at noon to pick up some sub sandwiches for the training missionaries' lunch, and saw a bird sitting on the Angel Moroni's trumpet atop the Orlando LDS Temple, which is just across the street from the Orlando South Stake Center where we were meeting. Having just taken the above picture, he had the camera in the car, and took a picture of the temple spire from the car window while at the corner of Windy Ridge Rd and Apopka-Vineland Rd, waiting for the traffic light to change. On zooming in afterward, he thinks it's a bald eagle sitting there. These pictures show the raw picture and a zoomed-in higher-contrast one (it was a gray, rainy day). Given his thing about bird pictures, this one made his day. He also got the sandwiches on time. The spike on Moroni's head is probably a lightening rod (?) since we have so many lightning storms here in Florida. The Bald eagle with Moroni's trumpet calls to mind some scriptures, such as Chapter 29 of Isaiah and Chapter 10 and others in 2nd Nephi.

Today (saturday) we did a 10-k (6.2 mile) walk in our area. We didn't plan it that way, but after trying a new route and finding that the streets didn't go through, we kept going until we made a loop to get back home. It felt good to have a bit cooler weather now, though we were very sweaty by the time we returned home. 

Briana , Michael, and their little sister with dad Donnie Ramsey,
Sis Winslow & Sis Sampson, and two ward members who
baptized Briana & Michael 

This afternoon we went to another baptism down at the Ellsworth Ward by the Deseret Citrus and Cattle Ranch. The baptism was for Briana and Michael Ramsey, the oldest children of Donnie Ramsey, whose baptism we attended about 4 weeks ago. Their little sister isn't 8 yet, so will be baptized when she's old enough.

Pictures from the Ellsworth Ward Baptism
For those of you who want to see and learn more about the Florida Orlando Mission, we recommend Pres & Sis Berry's blog at, where you can see a much more complete view of all the FOM missionaries in pictures they take at their meetings throughout the mission. Our senior missionary friends in the office, the Busaths, also post an excellent blog laced with great words of wisdom as well as excellent photos at  There are probably a number of our FOM missionaries who post blogs themselves or by their parents. We were recently delighted to read Sis Kirkham's blog at, which captures the dedication, enthusiasm, excitement, and fun of discovery of our youthful missionaries! They are truly an inspiration to us all, and their dedication to advancing the Lord's work is an admirable and essential part of the Lord's plan for promulgating His gospel throughout the world. What a wonderful time to live here, and what peace and joy we derive from coming unto Christ and following His gospel!  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week Twelve

Kirk's Birthday Cake
Sis. Nielson was busy with lots of medical action and Elder Nielson got a successful trial map of missionary apartment locations onto a shareable on-line platform this week. We also had celebrations of Kirk's birthday thursday, with cookies, cakes, & candy from the mission office staff, which kept Kirk eating very well, and gave more party pictures than usual. Our Portuguese elders came over Thurs night and sang happy birthday in Portuguese.

Elders Gallo and Delgado singing
Happy Birthday in Portuguese

The Assistants handing Kirk's
Cake from Busaths

Kirk with his Brazil
Birthday Tie

Ocoee Sign
Thursday turned out to be a long day when we learned of a sister who had a bike accident in the evening. We started driving to their apartment, forgetting our GPS, but with directions in mind. We got a text along the way that the paramedics were taking her to the Ocoee hospital, and we weren't familiar with where Ocoee or the hospital were. However, the next turnpike exit we saw said Ocoee and had the blue "H" sign, so we followed it. Then at the first intersection we were reassured to see the Ocoee township sign, but didn't know which way to turn. Then we saw an ambulance pass west in front of us on W Colonial Dr, so we turned west and found the hospital within a mile. Pres & Sis Berry and a couple of the missionaries in the Sister's district also came, gave her a blessing, and then we waited for MRI scans and a lot of other tests and for their results before she was released to go home. She had a mild concussion, but was protected from more serious injury by wearing her helmet. The Berry's took her & her companion to the mission home for the night.

On Friday Elder Nielson went with the Portuguese missionaries to help give a lesson to a Brazilian who was taught in English at first by the sisters who had the bike accident, and then were handed off to the Portuguese Elders. We taught the lesson in a member's home, who was very helpful in every respect. The man is hoping to be baptized next saturday. 

Wild Florida Wildlife Park

Our Senior District went to the Wild Florida Wildlife Park and Airboat Ride Place in Kenansville, FL on Saturday. The park is owned by an LDS member who gave us a "missionary" rate. We had a great time and took 160 pictures, which won't all fit here, but here are some highlights.

Jan doing an oral exam on a Gator
Gray Heron in the Swamp

Lilly Pads with Blossoms
Senior District on the Air Boat (VERY shallow water)

Sis Nielson texting medical
help from the boat & at dock

Cattle on a Swamp Island

"Alligator Alley"


We even managed to have a medical incident on the air boat ride. A tourist from England passed out for 10-15 min and had a seisure. Fortunately, there was plenty of good medical help there. Sis Nielson, Elder Busath (a policeman/ paramedic), and another couple from England (unknown to the first), who was a nurse and he was a fireman/paramedic (lower-left picture). It cut the tour a little short, but we had a much faster ride back.

After a long day, we caught
Oscar the Gator. "... live gators
are cold, like snakes, but
they are cuter" (... Jan)
Our Airboat Group

The best part of our Saturday was when we went up to Leesburg (at the other end of the mission) for a baptism in the Sumterville Branch. There was a great spirit there among the all the members and missionaries who attended, and it was our privilege to be there. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week Eleven

Our New Sister Missionaries and Sis. Nielson & Sis. Berry

This week we went over to the Mission Home several times to help receive & feed new missionaries and send some old ones back home. Monday we received 13 new one 6 Sisters (shown here e-mailing their parents that they arrived ok) and 7 Elders

Elder Delgado, us, and Elder Costa

Monday night our Portuguese missionaries came by so Elder Costa could say goodbye. He's getting transferred to be new Zone Leader in Leesburg. We'll miss him a lot, but are glad Elder Delgado is staying. His new companion is Elder Gallo, whom we already know & love from meeting him at past Zone conferences. He's from Minas Gerais (Brasil). 

Tuesday morning we had orientation meetings with the new missionaries at the Wetherbee church where Sis. Nielson got their medical forms & insurance cards, and talked about medical things. Then they were introduced to their new companions and left for their assigned areas to get started. All of the missionaries getting transferred also met at the same church to transfer their luggage and ride with their new companions and/or helpful members to their newly assigned areas. I took some over to the mission office a few miles away to pick up bikes, packages, etc., and the whole transfer process was done shortly after noon. The next picture shows the church parking lot after most of the change-outs were finished.  
Remnants of the Tuesday Morning Transfers

The lot had about a hundred people plus bikes, cars, & baggage there just a half hour earlier. 

Pres & Sis Berry with the departing Elders
On Tuesday afternoon we went to the Mission Home and got dinner ready for the nine departing missionaries. The picture by the Orlando Temple shows our nine departing Elders with Pres & Sis Berry just after a session there.

They came from the Temple to the Mission Home for dinner, visiting, a testimony meeting, and final interviews with Pres. Berry, and got ready for their trip to the airport for early flights home on Wednesday morning. 

Cake for education back home
Departing Elders in the Mission Home Loft

We reflected a lot on the prospective futures of the missionaries who are returning home, which appear so very diverse. Some seem difficult at best due to poverty, little family support, and little chance for education while others seem so bright for those continuing their college coursework, with family support, in their chosen fields. What a blessing it is to have supportive families, citizenship, and educational opportunities in addition to knowledge of the gospel of Christ !  Yet we still hope and pray for the miracles of friends and opportunities to be raised up for every one of these dedicated young missionaries as they press on with their lives. 

Sis Nielson continues to field a lot of medical calls for our Orlando and Jacksonville missionaries, which keeps her busy getting doctors lined up, finding the nearest emergency rooms and clinics, and looking at pictures of rashes, & injuries, sending to the regional Dr, follow-up on recovery/healing, symptom & history reviews, and charting everything in the church medical system. Elder Nielson helps move apartment furniture and do a little maintenance, besides office computer support and continuing work on mission maps. We don't know when we've had so much fun with so little sleep.
Two of the Marching Ducks at the Peabody Hotel

On our prep day Saturday, we had a couple of hours after cleaning & shopping so we explored International Drive, which we pass every day on the way to the mission office. We heard about the Marching Duck ceremony at the Peabody Hotel, and went there just after they finished their noon performance. Anyway, here's what a couple of them look like when they're eating.

The Horses Fountain in the Westpoint Blvd Median

Closeup of the Horses Fountain, leading a block of
timed fountains behind it.

We drive along S Hiawassee Rd every day to leave and enter Lake Debra Dr where we live, and generally pass our familiar landmark, the Horses Fountains one block west at the entry to Westpointe Blvd. We finally took these pictures ... they really landscape things in style here!  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week Ten

Birds by a pond

Here are a couple of things we enjoyed this week as we walked in the vicinity of our apartment in Orlando. There are several colorful building complexes in MetroWest, but this one by Veranda Park is notable. Also, Kirk just can't get enough pictures of birds. We had heavy rains every day this week, but most mornings and some of the evenings were clear.
The Veranda Park area in Orlando's MetroWest
Senior Missionaries in the Florida Orlando LDS Mission

The Gebs are returning home this coming week (left) after 23 months in the Orlando Mission, and the Gordons just joined us this week, so we took this picture of the 'Seniors'.

We attended the Mission Leadership Council meetings this week, where Sis Nielson did a presentation on medical care and distributed Health & Medical manuals to be placed in each missionary apartment. She continues to field medical calls every day, but the manuals may help answer questions to pre-screen some of the calls. Prep-day injuries still occur nearly every week ...

Trainers for the new missionaries

Thursday evening the senior missionaries had a chance go to the Orlando Temple. Friday was a training orientation for the trainers for the new missionaries who will arrive next week. Sis Nielson gave her 'Stress' presentation to help in the adjustments. 

T-shirts for the American Heart Assoc Walk

Saturday morning was the American Heart Association 5k 'Heart Walk' at the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando. We joined with the stake south of us  because they registered an LDS group to participate and got T-shirts for us. 

Berrys, Nielsons, and Busaths in the balloon Heart

Pre-Walk pictures with our senior missionary friends. We had a great time! 

LDS YSA and some of the missionaries at the Am Heart Assoc Walk.
Missionaries at the Am Heart Assoc Walk

We arrived while it was still dark, and had trouble finding the "green pole" where we were supposed to meet. We finally figured out that the pole was the thing made of green balloons in the back of the large picture above.

Near the starting line by UCF's Memory Mall

There were about 18,000 people at the walk, which raised about $1.5 M for the heart association.

Sister Nielson at the finish

Sis Nielson with new friends
Sister Nielson hasn't changed much from her running days. She couldn't bear to just walk despite the best advice from Elder Nielson, so she jogged most of the way & she came in at ~37 min, if we kept time, including the wait to get to the starting point. As usual, she made a lot of friends along the way. The three with her in this picture found her after the 'walk' and said they tried to keep up with her, since she should have an easy pace because she used a walking stick. But every time they got close, she ran again and they lost her. Elder Nielson just advised her to not trip anyone with the stick. As in the finish picture, she just carried the stick most of the way.  

Elders Nielson, Delgado, and Costa

Saturday evening we went to a celebration of Brazilian Independence Day (September 7) with Brazilians from the Orlando area, both LDS & non-LDS. Our Portuguese elders organized it, and had Elder Nielson prepare and present a power-point presentation on the history of the LDS church in Brazil, in Portuguese. He's been working on it for a couple of weeks, but it went well according to our english-speaking friends who were there. Elder Destro helped him by telling a couple of the stories about early missionaries and some early converts.  They also had a presentation by our Portuguese-speaking high councilman and afterward served a nice Feijoada dinner, furnished by a member who owns a Brazilian restaurant on International Drive. 

Our Brazilian friend Fábio
with Elder Nielson

Some of the LDS members brought green & yellow memorabilia, soccer balls & uniforms, hammocks, pictures of Brazilian beaches, etc. They also had a DJ to play lots of traditional Brazilian music, one of the sisters sang a song, and we began by singing the Brazilian National Anthem. Lots of fun and good visiting!