Sunday, March 27, 2016

Week 3 Report

Our flight to Hawaii was a smooth, non-stop, 6 1/2 hour flight to Honolulu. We were greeted by Elder and Sister Reeder, another senior couple in the mission office. They presented each of us with a traditional kukui nut lei. The kukui nut is prized by the Hawaiians because the kernel is rich in oil. Each kernel, when cracked open, will burn for three minutes. It reminds us of the light of the Savior which fills our souls, not for three minutes, but for eternity.

The Reeders took us to our "pad" - a nice one bedroom, one bathroom apartment on the 15th floor of a 36 floor high rise building. It is definitely a city view, but beautiful. We can see Diamond Head to the East, but no views of the ocean. Our building is right next door to the Tabernacle where we meet for church, and next to it is the office building we will be working in. Next to that is a Food Land grocery store - all very convenient.

Living/dining room 
 Living/dining room
View from our balcony looking east. Diamond Head is in the distance.
View from our front balcony looking west. The Tabernacle is the building with the tall steeple.

We were given the keys to our car, a 2013 Toyota Corella with only about 15,000 miles on it. With GPS in hand we headed to the nearest Walmart to get a few necessities and groceries to get us through the weekend. We also were able to set up our internet and cable TV. We had a quick dinner of scrambled eggs and fell into bed completely exhausted. 

Sunday we thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted in the Manoa Ward. Everyone is so friendly. In the evening we drove to President and Sister Warner's home and had a lovely dinner and visit with them. Monday evening we were treated to dinner with Brother and Sister Mataele from our new ward. Every 4th Monday they take the missionaries out to dinner and they invited us to join them. They took us to an Italian restaurant and we all enjoyed a delicious meal and wonderful visiting. 

Monday reality hit when we started working/training in the office. Our MTC training was great, but oh my - there is so much to learn and do. I can see why 3 couples are needed in the office. There are about 180 elders and sisters and tons of senior missionaries. The seniors' assignments vary between member and leader support in various wards, military support, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the temples in Laie and Kona, BYU Hawaii, and the office. They all fall under the jurisdiction of the mission. Devon is assigned to manage the pads (apartments) for everyone, bicycles, and cell phones - a huge job. Judy is mission secretary which includes all the correspondence to missionaries, their parents, bishops, stake presidents; the news letter and Hui Hou (a photo summary sheet with the departing missionaries),  keeping track of the arriving and departing missionaries, and coordinating/requesting travel home for all the missionaries - senior and junior. Thankfully, the sister missionary before me was super organized. All three office couples work long, full days that just fly by because we are so busy. Everyone is helpful and encouraging and we all get along really well. Every morning we have a mini devotional. It's a great start to our day!

I didn't realize it when I named our blog that the Hawaii Honolulu Mission is also called the Aloha Mission. The mission motto is an acronym of sorts for the word "Aloha".
  • A - The Atonement of Jesus Christ is our message
  • L - The Love of God and others is our motivation
  • O - Obedience to the commandments and mission rules is our strength
  • HA - By sharing the gospel with others, we can give them the "Ha" - the breath of life, even eternal life

We love it here! We are so blessed! At this sweet Easter time this verse from Orson F. Whitney best expresses the feelings of my heart.

Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow'r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week 2 Report

We have had four intense, but wonderful days of mission office training. We're grateful for what we've learned, but it makes us realize how much we don't know. One thing is for sure...we're going to be very busy in Hawaii. Our mission is one of the largest in the church, so I guess that explains why there are 3 office couples.

The principal Devon worked with at Timberline Middle School, Terry Hill, and his wife, Annette, arrived at the MTC on Monday. They will be going to Lima, Peru to work in records preservation. It has been a special treat to meet them for meals and share mutual enthusiasm and experiences with each other.
Devon and Terry Hill
Elder and Sister Tufts - Elder and Sister Hill

Our good friends, Dick and Myrna Graff, are service missionaries every Tuesday afternoon at the MTC. We're so grateful for a break in our schedule that let us spend a few minutes with them.

This cute missionary is Sister Royer from France. We happened to sit at the same table for dinner one evening. Devon told her he served his mission in France and she was so thrilled she insisted on getting a photo with us. This was her first day at the MTC and she will be serving at the St. George Temple Visitor's Center.

This cute missionary is Hermana Schmachtenberger. She is going to Virginia Spanish speaking mission. Her mother, Jennifer, grew up in our ward in Newhall many years ago and was friends with our daughter, Lori. When I was working at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia I was Jennifer's labor nurse when Ashlyn was born. This is the first time I've seen her since that day.

Our stay at the MTC came to an end on Thursday, March 17. We ended with a beautiful testimony meeting with our group of senior office specialists. Then we packed our bags, checked out, and drove to Emily's house. On Friday we ran final errands including a check on the progress of our new house. It's on schedule and looking good. Marianne and I enjoyed pedicures (after all I am going to Hawaii!). 

Saturday about noon, March 19, was departure time. Emily and Marianne saw us off at the airport. We leave with very excited and grateful hearts for this second opportunity to serve a mission for our Savior. We love Him! Our lives reflect the joy and blessings one can have through His gospel. We're looking forward to working with the Mission President and young missionaries in the office, but also hope we have opportunities to bear testimony and help others find the joy we have been blessed with.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Week 1 Report

It would be an understatement to say that we enjoyed our first week at the MTC. It was so wonderful and inspiring. And to think we would have skipped it if we had been given the choice. What a mistake that would have been. We were part of one of the largest groups of senior missionaries they've ever had - 63 couples and 3 single sisters. There were so many that there was not room for all of us in the MTC couple's housing. We are staying at Wyview Village - apartments for married BYU students. They are not too far from the MTC and are clean and comfortable.

There is a large group of couples going to Nauvoo, and another large group that will be "stay at home missionaries" and work with the less active and non-members in their various stakes - many from Utah. A few other couples are assigned as office specialists (like us), and a few will work with the YSA. We are the only ones assigned to Hawaii. We've had lots of interesting comments and even a few offers to trade assignments, which we promptly declined!

We were blessed with wonderful trainers - Brother Gubler and Sister Nance. Both are recent returned missionaries and filled with a love of missionary work. They have truly inspired us. Another trainer was a returned missionary who served in the England Birmingham Mission while we were there. He was never in our area, but remembered us.
Some photos from our week.
Hawaii, here we come!
Our District
L to R: Elder and Sister Thompson (Ephrim, Utah), Elder and Sister Brown (St. George, Utah), us, Brother Gubler. Elder and Sister Lowder (Clinton, Utah) had to leave early, and missed the photo session.
Browns and Tufts with Sister Nance.

Now that's a lot of good looking' senior missionaries!

I've felt such a sweet spirit during our training this week. We are where the Lord wants us to be - sharing His love with all His children. A closing thought from M. J. Berrie, author of Peter Pan:
"Be a little kinder than necessary."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

It is hard to believe we are on the eve of the beginning of our mission. Tomorrow we check into the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) and can hardly wait! We are ready. Our suitcases are packed (sort of) and everything is in order and in good hands to leave behind for the next 12 months. I say we are "sort of" packed because our warmer clothes are in suitcases to take to the MTC, and our Hawaii clothes are in a box. We'll switch them out in 2 weeks when we actually leave for Hawaii.

We've had an amazing weekend with most of our beloved family - no tears, just lots of love and well wishes going around. Last night 6 of our 7 children and spouses met at Macaroni Grill for dinner. How wonderful to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Today, being Fast Sunday, was Molly's blessing day - just one more reason to get together. The blessing by her father, Eric, was beautiful and then we all gathered at Lori and Eric's house for lunch.

At 3:30 we had an appointment with President Blair Kent to set us apart as official missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Devon and I were given beautiful blessings by President Kent, and he gave all of us good counsel about missions and supporting one another. It was a beautiful meeting. I think even the children could feel how special the moment was.

And of course we had to take photos! Devon's sister, Gwen, and our friend, Carol, left before we thought to get their photo. Not able to be there were Daryn and Stephen's families.

David and Suzie's family
Brad and Jenna's family
Lori and Eric's family
Marianne and Tony's family

I am left at the end of this wonderful weekend to ponder the many blessings in my life. First is our wonderful family. Their unconditional love and support is such a treasure in our lives. It's wonderful to have family - even better that we really like each other! Being able to go on this mission is as much a miracle as a blessing. We are so grateful I am well enough to take on this adventure. I plan to do everything I can to stay healthy. We are grateful for our testimonies of the reality of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We are excited to be part of an effort to spread the message of their unconditional love for each of us.

So hooray for new beginnings and new adventures!