Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 2014

Pres and Sis Berry with 14 new missionaries and assistants
The last week of February we received 13 new missionaries. This picture shows them by the pond behind the mission home. New missionaries often like to look around to catch a glimpse of "Gator Joe", who lives in the pond.  He didn't come out of the water this time, but a few days later we happened to have a camera and caught this picture of him sunning himself on the banks of the pond.
Gator Joe

Gator Joe is actually very shy and runs back into the water when approached by humans. 

We learned at the Transfer Luncheon that the Florida Orlando Mission reached a new all-time high in the number of convert baptisms during the month of February 2014. Our members are stepping up and doing a great job of working with the missionaries in Hastening the Work!

Paxton & parents - first meeting
On February 28, 2014 we received notice that our daughter in law, Joi Nielson, was severely pre-eclampsic. She had an emergency C-section at University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ, where they delivered a baby boy that weighed 1-lb 3-oz. Their baby is kept intubated in the NICU at the U of A Med Center while Joi remained intubated in the regular intensive care for the next couple of days. Joi has since returned home and is recovering. We have prayed much for them both, along with many of our missionaries and hundreds of friends and extended family. Since that time we have been grateful for Joi's gradual recovery. Paxton is still struggling with big ups and downs, hopefully getting a little more stable. We love them so much and we hope to post a little more about about Paxton shortly. For best updates, Joi is posting a "Pulling for Paxton" page on facebook and updates it frequently. He's 4-weeks old now, minus about 3-1/2 months from his premature delivery date, and still on the HF respirator.

Elder and Sister Gordon

On March 1, Elder and Sister Gordon were sealed in the Orlando Temple. It's very unusual for missionaries to get married while on their missions, because they're usually either young single missionaries or they are older, married couples. However, Elder Gordon and Sister Gordon just got married 6 months before starting their mission here, and after their 1-year anniversary were sealed in the Orlando Temple. Elder Gordon supervises all the car and bicycle business of the mission and Sister Gordon is the telephone, referral, and travel secretary. They add a great deal to our entire mission, but especially to those of us who work in the mission office.

Gordons with family, Berrys, Sr Missionaries, and Extended Family

Our Portuguese and Spanish missionaries in HC

We had dinner at our apartment with our Brazilian Elder who used to live by us in Windy Ridge and his companion, who's a spanish speaking missionary with him here in Hunters Creek. They're great friends and missionaries.

Rob and Allyson's visit to Orlando

Our youngest son Rob and his wife Allyson visited us here on March 7 and spent a few days seeing Orlando. Allyson had an ultrasound just before they traveled here to learn whether their baby was a boy or girl. They said they'd dress in pink if it was a girl and blue if it was a boy. We met them at the airport and they were in pink, as shown in their pictures here. She's due to be born on about July 28 and we hope it takes that long after Joi's experience with Paxton.

Office staff on St Patrick's day

Thanks to the Busath's, especially Sister Busath, who is Irish, we celebrated St. Patricks day with wearing of the green, including shamrock ties that they gave to us, and went to lunch at Shannon's for corned beef and cabbage. It was a very fun day.

Many of our pictures are not directly mission-related because we don't tend to carry the camera most of the time. That's why the blog looks a little more party-ish than the mission actually is. It's very enjoyable, however, in every way and we're enjoying wonderful friendships here that will last long after the mission is over.

We were called to be family-history consultants in the Bumby Ward where we attend church. We're asked to focus on helping the newly-baptized members of the church get involved in family history work so they can go to the Orlando temple as soon as possible. We've already had some great times with this. We're helping a sister who was baptized last December to get her deceased parents and a deceased brother's identifying information submitted to allow her to be baptized vicariously for her mother and to have others be baptized for her father and brother in the coming weeks before the Elder who baptized her gets transferred. Such baptisms for the dead, performed in the Orlando Temple and other LDS temples, are part of the vicarious ordinance work that was performed in the ancient Church of Jesus Christ (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 15:29) and are performed in LDS temples throughout the world.

Elder Costa answering a question at the temple tour
On March 19 we went to an Orlando Temple Tour conducted by Pres Wood of the Orlando Mission presidency. These tours are only around the outdoor grounds, but talk about the temple and what goes on inside. We went with our two Portuguese elders and a Brazilian lady whom they are teaching. We stayed after the tour with them to attend a missionary lesson that they taught her that evening. She's a wonderful person who seems to grasp all the principles and knows how to pray and recognize heavenly promptings.
Jan's english-speaking friend and missionaries

Jan also met another recently-baptized lady at the temple tour who was there with two other Elders who had taught her. Jan enjoyed her and had a lot of great conversation (in english) just before the Portuguese lesson.

Near the end of March we attended the annual rodeo at the church ranch in the southern part of our mission with the other senior couples and a few of the missionaries who work in that area, along with some of their investigators. 
Annual Rodeo at the Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch

The picture at the bottom is when the up-to-8-yr-olds went onto the field to catch the 3 little pigs.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

February 2014

Visit with the Johnsons
I need to explain that the blog has not had much attention since all of our missionaries got i-pads.  Kirk's IT job at the mission just got to be MUCH BIGGER and the blog was on of the things that ended up not being cut out.  I can't stand to see that happen because it has been so great to save all of our great experiences this way and to share them.  So scary as it is I am going to try to do the blog. The quality will suffer but at least it will be here.
Ben and Jeana came with their friends Jackie and Don to go on a cruise. They were here for about a day on either end of the cruise.  The first day we went to see the Johnson's. Their son is on a mission in their ward in West Haven, Ut. It was such a fun visit as they had brought a video of their son telling them lots of great things about his mission and the church.

Moving to our new apartment

We are getting more new Sr Couples and more missionaries so the time had come to move the rest of our things out of the Lake Debra apartment and move from the apartment we had been in in Colonial Manor to our own apartment.  It would have been overwhelming except that the whole Sr. district turned out to make it all go so smooth.  They are all WONDERFUL!!!

Zone Conferences

It was Zone Conference time again on Feb. 18 & 19. This time Pres. Berry asked the office staff to do rotations to train the missionaries on apartments, cars and referrals.  They divided by Zones and the teachers rotated to each zone to do the training.  Elder Nielson and I were back up support. Sis Berry and Sis Claire are always food support but this time all they had to do was to help out the Relief Society that was feeding us for the day. Elder Nielson and I also did an additional medical helps book for each apartment and a presentation about that when they were all together.

Sis Peck by mission banner with
'best' thumbprints
Sisters Jackson & Gruber
with inked thumbs

As missionaries finish initial training they leave their mark on our banner by putting a thumb print on it and signing their names to commit to doing their personal best. Two of our new ones who just placed their thumbprints are shown here.

Setting up Liahona display
Liahona rack
In early February we set up a rack to distribute free Portuguese copies of the Liahona. Elder Gallo arranged with an LDS member to donate them, and we got a rack placed in a shopping area by Int'l Drive that is frequented by Brazilians. Within 2 weeks all the January and February ones were taken, and the March ones are now placed.

Community Fair display
On Feb 22 there was a Pioneer commemoration time at Cypress Park in Orlando. The missionaries got a booth to focus on Utah Pioneers. They needed banners to show things about the church and they choose ones about the world wide membership and about temples. Then they got Elder Nielson to get the banners made. The missionaries had a poster on the trek west and a handcart there also.  It was really impressive and they were able to contact a lot of people.

Mission car after hitting wild boar

Here's what can happen when driving in the dark in the remote parts of the Leesburg district ... you may be charged by a wild boar. The car was repairable, but the boar was not.

Departing missionaries at the
mission home
Departing missionaries with
Sis Gordon, Nielson, and Busath

Elder Polito with us

Bro & Sis Viveiros, our Brazilian friends whom we first met in
Salt Lake at the Church History Library, where he interviewed
Kirk about his Brazilian mission experiences