Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reflections at one year...

I wanted to share a few personal feelings and insights about this past year.  
We arrived in New York one year ago today.  We were full of excitement and some trepidation.  I remember standing in the mission home kitchen with Sister Morgan (we only spent 2 hours with the Morgans before they left) I looked at her and pleadingly said "Will you please stay"?  She laughed and said something like "you will be just fine.  It's my time to go and your time to serve."  I felt this heaviness that lasted until the next day when we walked into the chapel and saw the faces of our missionaries in person for the very first time.  It was an amazing day...I often tell them it ranks very high as one of the best days of my life!  

There were many things I was not prepared for including the overwhelming love I would feel for each and every one of them individually.  I could never have anticipated the pure joy this calling has brought or the anguish and sleepless nights when you know a missionary is struggling or there is some other worry in the mission.  I have been blessed with countless opportunities to speak, teach, and testify.  This has stretched me beyond anything I have ever done.  It is also extremely rewarding to prepare and then feel the Spirit guiding me each step of the way.  Little thoughts of direction or what to say come at a moments notice.  There are so many blessings that come as we are anxiously engaged.  Yet at the same time worry, discouragement, and wondering if we are making a difference are dark feelings that can be overwhelming at times.  Dave and I constantly counsel together on what to teach, what to focus on, what do the missionaries need the most? How can we help them the best?  It can be extremely overwhelming but then we have these sweet moments that confirm we are being directed and teaching what the Lord wants at this time.  I have no doubt this is the Lord's work.  It is absolutely remarkable to me.  Watching these relatively young missionaries grow, stretch, transform into incredible teachers, humble servants as they endure rejection, hate, and persecution is the miracle of this work.  Through their love and service they help people change their lives and come to know the Savior Jesus Christ in such a personal way.  I still love to walk into a room of never gets old.  They are filled with light and goodness.  They are eager to succeed, they love so genuinely and give so freely of their time in the service of others because they love the Savior.

I asked my kids, "What has been the best part of the first year of our mission?"

"Being with the missionaries"
(I don't think there is a picture of William with the missionaries 
where he does not have a smile from ear to ear)

                                      "Getting to spend a lot of time with the missionaries"                                                             

"I love the new experience, getting to see how people live out here and the diversity between the different areas. I also love interacting with missionaries everyday and watching them grow throughout they're time on the mission. Whenever we have transfers we have the new missionaries sleep at our house the first night and we have a testimony meeting and then the next night we have the missionaries that are leaving sleep over and we also have a testimony meeting with them. it's so cool to see how much the missionaries have changed throughout the two years/eighteen months and you can see that huge difference just in their testimonies."

A personal note to all the families of our missionaries...
Thank you for the love and support you give them.
Thank you for sharing them with us.  We are connected through the eternities now.
Thank you for your prayers on our behalf, we feel them and need them.
We love you!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

New missionary meeting and photos from this past week!

We had a wonderful meeting on Friday with the new missionaries and their trainers.  At this meeting we talk about adjusting to missionary life, loyalty to the Lord, mission culture, and the Doctrine of Christ.  Missionaries are the best to teach.  They are humble, eager to learn and have such a desire to be true disciples of Christ.  I love being with them!  The Spirit is always present and I am so uplifted.

random pictures from the week...

William and I spent p-day in the city with the Chinatown missionaries and Jay, one of their investigators.  Jay has spent his entire life in NY and knows the city inside and out.  He gave us a fabulous tour.  

While we were waiting for the missionaries to arrive at our meeting spot I was asking Jay questions about how he found the missionaries.  He told me of first meeting Elder Radford and Elder Leung and how much they both meant to him.  Unbeknownst to any of us at that time, Elder Leung was in town and had arranged to surprise Jay.  This was their reunion.  Jay couldn't wait for him to cross the street but ran out to greet him.  We shed a few tears.  

Saturday morning cleaning at the Church

Monday, June 13, 2016

A very special Sunday evening...

Sunday evening we had the privilege of having the Gumende family in our home.  Antonio is the ambassador from Mozambique assigned to the UN.  He and his wife Lisa have become dear friends of ours.  We were introduced to them by our Bishop and his wife, Todd and Lori Mortensen, who have fellowshipped with them and shared the gospel with their family.  Lisa's brother, Simba, was attacked, beaten, and left for dead in his native country, Zimbabwe.  This occurred 2 years ago.  Since then Simba has had to relearn almost everything. When he was atacked Lisa reached out to Lori for comfort.  Lori in turn reached out to the mission president in Zimbabwe and within a short period of time the missionaries were at the hospital.  They were able to give Simba a blessing, which really touched his family.  They have great faith.  Simba and his mother came to the US to spend time with Lisa and her family in January and will soon return to Zimbabwe.  During his time here he has met with the missionaries and developed a very close relationship with them.  His knowledge and testimony of the gospel is growing.  We had the privilege last night of hearing him tell his story and share his faith in God.  He testified that God knows him and it was through his power that he was healed.  He shared scriptures from the Book of Mormon and the love he has for the Elders who have taught him.  Antonio, Lisa, and their mother also shared their faith and testimony.  It was powerful when they told how their family has grown closer through their adversity and that they know God loves them.  During times of trial we can either turn to God or away from him.  They chose to turn to him.  I know for myself that turning to God in times of need is the only way to heal and to find peace.  It was a sacred night and I was so touched to be there.  We were also joined by Jeff and Rebecca Lanier and their son Jeffrey.  The Laniers were baptized last summer and are preparing to be sealed in the Manhattan Temple this August.

Elder McNairy and Elder Hansen with the Gumende family
Standing: Antonio 
Seated Lisa, Simba and their mother Lily

Lori Mortensen with Lisa and family

Bishop Mortensen, Antonio, Simba and Dave

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Elder & Sister Randall K. Bennett

We can never be the same!  

This week was amazing!  We had the privilege of being taught by Elder Randall K. Bennett
of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his darling wife, Shelley.  Each day was different
and Spirit directed.  We held 4 conferences, with 2-3 zones each.  It was wonderful
 having smaller groups and very interactive meetings.

I loved this quote I read this week by Elder Neil L. Anderson
"Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. 
Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we 
choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it."

Westchester and Stamford Zones

Manhattan Central, Manhattan South and Chinatown Zone
There was an accident heading into the city so I was a few minutes 
late for this meeting and missed the picture.

Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Yorktown Zones

Kingsbridge, Olmsted and Manhattan North Zones

The Bennetts won my kids over.  We enjoyed dinner with them two of the nights 
they were here.  They were so kind and personable with each one of them.  
Savannah commented after the first night "do I get to see them again?"

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

This is a well prepared group of new missionaries!  
We were so happy to welcome them to NY on Monday.  

I ran out the door so fast and forgot to change my shoes!  As missionaries our dress standard is close toed shoes.  Great first impression to our sisters...ugh!  I usually wear these hawaiian sandals around my house.  It did take me back to my days as a missionary in Hawaii.  We were allowed to wear these exact sandals as missionaries.  I wore them 90% of my mission.  
The elders thought it was so funny and when I was going through the pictures 
I found several photos of my feet.

Elder Kalyonov has been serving full time in the Russia Moscow mission since January while he waited for his visa. We are so happy he finally arrived in NY.

Elder Troutman arrived 50 minutes later than the rest of the group.  He came from Mexico where he had been in the Missionary Training Center, CCM

These sisters color coordinated so well and said none of it was planned.

 We are so grateful to have Elder and Sister Adams join us as Family History Missionaries.  They are experts!  I also learned Elder Adams and my dad served in The Netherlands mission together back in the 1960's.

Elder and Sister Gardner invited us over for dinner on Sunday.  It was such a treat!  Oh how we will miss them when the leave on Thursday.  They have endeared themselves to all of us and are very loved in the NYNYN mission.

"I have a Hero, I call him Dad"!


Farewell Missionaries!  
Well Done thou good and faithful servants.

One last run before they depart...(5:30 am)