Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week Thirty

Gates: security, control, isolation
Orlando, like many cities, has thousands of apartment buildings and complexes protected from public access by gated walls with security guards and electronic access. The two apartments where we have lived here are typical of most missionary apartments here and are among these gated communities. While reducing crime, intrusion, and non-requested visits, the gates isolate people from the neighborly contacts of earlier times. Even in non-gated housing, streets are vacant as people leave via car to work and do business, and return to their isolated homes with minimal neighborly contact. 

To reach this growing population, our mission is expanding internet proselyting to invite those who have casual interests or curiosity about religion, coming unto Christ, and why it's so important. In the anonymity of the internet, many are searching on,, mormon channel, mormonmessages, and mormonnewsroom for further understanding and they are invited to come unto Christ and find for themselves the joy and peace of improving their lives by coming to know and trust their Savior. Our mission is also beginning to use Facebook for on-line chats and teaching of those who are not otherwise available for conventional teaching. This week we are beginning to train our missionaries to use tablet computers as teaching aids (for videos), planners, and communication tools. The Lord is indeed fulfilling His promise, "Behold, I will hasten my work in its time." I'm on a steep learning curve to help our 200+ missionaries learn to use their "mobile devices".

Missile launch pictures from Jetty Park
Last Thursday night some of the senior missionary couples took a few hours to watch the launch of a communication satellite on an Atlas rocket at 9:30 pm at the Kennedy Space Center on the eastern coast of our mission. It was a fun chance to enjoy some time together in lieu of our usual Saturday prep day this week. 

We received another new missionary Friday, making 23 incoming compared to 2 outgoing in January. He is shown here with his new companions. I was happy to learn that he speaks Portuguese! We're blessed to have a great core of Brazilians and US Portuguese speakers to help in work with the Brazilian population here, as well as similarly talented missionaries for our Haitians and the much larger Hispanic populations here in Central Florida, not to mention the scores of wonderful English-speaking missionaries! 

Saturday morning we helped set up the Orlando South Stake Center for a mission conference with Elder Russell M Nelson, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, Elder Munns, our area authority, and Pres and Sis Berry. The senior missionaries helped prepare lunch and served it to about 260 people in under 30 minutes for the tight schedule. 

After the morning meetings and missionary lunch, there were Stake leadership meetings and Stake Conference sessions held at the same building, where I helped with parking and security for the evening meeting. This morning there was a Sunday Regional Conference held via video links in all of our LDS church buildings in Florida, southern Georgia, and several other states to our north. We enjoyed hearing a member of the Quorum of Seventy speak, and a counselor in the General Young Womens presidency, but had to leave before hearing the other general authorities and Elder Nelson speak. 

Jan was called out part way through today's meeting to help a missionary who was having a severe allergic reaction. We ended up going to an emergency center to assure that appropriate care was given and precautions taken to treat the present condition and minimize potential re-exposure or relapse. 

It's a joy to serve here, no matter what the task we're doing. We're surrounded by some of the finest and most dedicated people we've known, both young and older missionaries as well as great local leaders, new and long-term members of the church, and the faithful new pioneers who are just now coming unto Christ via their baptismal covenants. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week Twenty Nine

Sis's Jacklin and Lowry
at the mission office

Sis's Jacklin and Lowry live close to the mission office and dropped in for a short visit last Monday morning on their way to missionary visits. 

3 Mission vans and the truck and trailer waiting in the phone lot at the airport

We spent last Monday morning at the mission office and went to the airport in the afternoon to help pick up some of our 22 new missionaries who arrived from the MTCs in Utah and Mexico City. We watched the airport birds while waiting in the call lot. Took them to the W church for dinner and then to the Mission Home for the night. Tuesday morning picked them up for orientation, admin processing, and then the Transfer Meeting. 
Birds at the Orlando airport

Sis Dunford speaks before departing
At the transfer meeting Tuesday our two departing missionaries spoke and Pres Berry introduced each of the new missionaries and announced their assignments and companions, as well as the transfers of many other missionaries who came to the meeting to make their transfers to new areas with new companions.
Pres Berry speaking

Getting lunch after the transfer meeting
Sis Berry had lunch for more than 200 after the transfer meeting, including all the companions of those getting transferred and local members who brought some of them to the transfer meeting. 

Sis Bevans taking pictures of missionaries

Sis Bevans takes pictures of the new missionaries with their companions for the board in the mission office. She took them in the hallway this time because it was too crowded everywhere else. 

Sis's Day and Allred
Elders Hilton and Despain

Sis's Fisi and Halverson

We took a few pictures too ... Sis Allred formerly in Windy Ridge got a new companion, Elder Despain in our Olympia ward got a new companion, and Sis Fisi got a new companion, Sis Halverson, from tri-cities, WA where we used to live! It's fun to meet the new missionaries, learn about them, and see their enthusiasm to figure out how the work happens and plunge into it.
Missionaries departing after the transfer meeting

Elder Harman and an ibuprofen
Elders Socarras, "Handy",
and Albin at the hospital

I took a couple of "medical" pic's for Sis Nielson. We're hoping and praying that Elder Albin can recover quickly and return to us soon! He's a devoted missionary whom we've become quite attached to. He and his comp created "Elder Handy" from a medical glove, but couldn't apply a name tag without popping him (same problem with giving him a missionary haircut).  

deLeon Springs Park
On Saturday, our senior-missionary Preparation Day, we went to deLeon Springs for breakfast. This is where the Mayacas lived in 1566 when discovered by Pedro Menendez, who founded St Augustine a year earlier. It is the site of Ponce deLeon's legendary fountain of youth, which doesn't appear to work any more, judging from some of the people we saw there and from the way we still looked when we left. 

Blue Spring Park in Orange City

We then went to Blue Spring Park to see the Manatee Refuge, where West Indian Manatees migrate from the St John's waterway to the year-round 72-degree warm springs to bear their young. The waterways are closed from mid-November to mid-March to protect the manatees, which were quite numerous and easy to see while we were there.

Yesterday we went to our new assignment in the Bumby Ward, where they were having their annual ward conference. It was nice to meet a lot of new people! We also saw some of our friends from the Windy Ridge ward, which met there earlier in the same building.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week Twenty Eight

This week has been a busy one, getting ready for 22 new missionaries who arrive today from the MTCs in Provo and Mexico City. We didn't get time to do anything with it this weekend, but I'll try to put the pictures we have from this week on here anyway. We usually post things on saturday night or sunday, but both were busy with medical visits and calls. I got some time sunday to download the pictures while waiting in the emergency room while Jan helped get a missionary admitted for an appendicitis workup. As of now, some tests are positive and some negative, so we'll see how this turns out. His parents have been notified and have talked to Pres Berry as well. This missionary and his companion are both anxious to get back to work, and are patient with the situation. The companion was planning to sleep in the chair in the room where his companion was staying.
E. Jeppson and Costa removing oversized beds in
Eustis and Elders Collings and Myer sitting on
replacement bed in Kissimmee

I finished some more maps for several new and old missionary areas, and we helped get apartments outfitted with new beds, delivered  supplies (books, pamphlets, forms, Liahonas, etc.) to some outlying zones in preparation for their district meetings. Also delivered some mail/packages to missionaries while we were making these trips. 

Elder Forrest showing where the
hole in the wall was before repairs

We also visited the apartment in Clermont with an old hole in the wall to verify that it had been adequately fixed. It looks perfect, including texturing to match the old plaster texture finish. 

Sis Nielson and I packed our things and moved most of them to another apartment in preparation for a transfer to a new ward. The plan was for a new senior couple to arrive saturday to occupy our present apartment. We learned friday afternoon that the new couple, waiting for visas to go to Uganda, had just received them, so they are not coming after all. We terminated our phone, internet, etc., for this move, so didn't have them to work the blog. 

Opening a box of ties from home

The only other pictures this week are of planting of new Winter flowers after our cold snap (down to about 35 one night) and some other sights along the way while delivering things to missionaries. We're back up to 78 degrees again today.

Planting flowers by our apartment


Big bird

Spanish Moss on trees

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week Twenty Seven

Elder and Sis Busath and us
at lunch last Saturday

Last Saturday we had lunch with Elder and Sis Busath at a Mexican restaurant in Hunters Creek. They're nice to associate with us older seniors. They work in the mission office doing apartment planning, contracting, furnishing, and financial.

Nativity next door to our lesson

Tuesday we went with Sis Lowry and Jacklin to teach a young man and his sister a first lesson. They're from Brazil, been here a few years, and speak excellent English. They have good knowledge about God, the Bible, and prayer. A great experience for us, including a chance to speak some Portuguese and some talk about Brazil. We took this picture of a Christmas nativity at the house next door while waiting for the missionaries to meet us.
Missionaries getting ready for the Wednesday MLC meeting

On Wednesday we went to the Mission Leadership Council meeting, where internet proselyting using Facebook was introduced and discussed by the Zone Leaders, Sister Trainer leaders, and the President and his assistants. Many of them and I have a lot to learn, both in terms of devices and Facebook. Fortunately, some of our missionaries are quite adept at it all, so there's some hope for them to help the rest of us to come along. There's a lot of excitement about possibly using IPads for this work, as well as to use it for showing church video clips in lessons and using on-line maps.

The Christmas wreaths are still on the horse statues on Hiawassee Rd, and look good with the palm trees. Even the manhole covers are decorated here. Our temperatures dipped from 80 degrees last Monday to the high 50's thursday morning when we walked (wearing long-sleeve t-shirts), but should get back to 80 again next Saturday. 

Birds at Hunters Creek apartment

Backyard of Hunters Creek apartment

Thursday and Friday we worked in the mission office on IT things (me) and medical (Jan). Some days Sis Nielson goes to medical appointments while I work at the office. Saturday we moved eight boxes of things to the apartment in Hunters Creek where we'll move next transfer day. The lake and birds below are seen here from the balcony at that apartment.

Sis Eager, Leandro, and Sis Barnes

Saturday night we went to a baptism in the Windermere Ward, where Leandro was baptized. He was baptized by Bro Sillito, and was taught by Sis's Eager and Barnes. Leandro was born in Brazil but has been here most of his life. He is fun to talk to!