Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not "Trunkie!"

Today we are in the process of winding down our tasks and planning our return home.   It has been sweet and sad to be with each of the classes for the last time.  They have been very kind in their remarks about how much they have enjoyed the classes and how much they will miss us.  One class threw us a surprise fiesta with Roger's favorite: pupusas and a dish I am growing to like: tres leche.  

We are so proud of the kids who are faithful attenders.  They show so much strength of character, testimony and dedication to the Lord. We went to the Manhattan Temple with one student earlier this month.  He was thrilled with it all.  We are excited for him as he begins his mission in Brazil.  I (Hermana Dixon) have tried to make a contribution to the YSA by encouraging them to begin doing genealogy and preserving the family histories they have, with one goal of taking an ancestor to the temple.  One girl who has been in the church just 15 months, took some family records and using was able to take her ancestoral line back to the 1600's!   She is on fire!  A young sister on Tuesday and proudly showed me the Family History notebook she has assembled with photos of her ancestors and copies of important documents.  Last Sunday I helped a sweet convert from the Dominican Republic start her genealogy.  As she put the names of ancestors in the chart on her computer she said "I'm soooo excited!!  I can just feel the Holy Spirit wash over me!  I can't wait to go home and have my family (not members) give me more information to put in here."  Another sister from Brazil came back from a trip there with a pile of more than 100 aging documents that she rescued from a relative's shed.  The delicate pages contained valuable genealogy and love letters over 100 years old.  I helped her make copies of them so that she could do research without damaging the originals.  She said that (in her opinion) people in her country would not think to preserve those things.  Quite a few YSA  have started but I wish I could stay here to help them continue.  Many are away from families and I think this effort would help them feel bonded across the miles and the years.

Several YSA have promised to come see us in Utah...they all seem to think that Utah is a magical place.  

We have a lot to do and we're down to 6 days, many of which include meetings and goodbye dinners.  Roger says, "we are not trunkie, we just want to go home."  (If trunkie means sitting on one's suitcases doing nothing.)  This has been a tremendous experience, although it has also been difficult.  (Last night for example out trip to Institute took nearly three hours (one way) because of a traffic jam just before the Holland Tunnel going into NYC.  Give us Highland traffic!!!  When we got there 1.25 hours late the Institute room was dark and the Bishop said they had all gone home.  We opened the door and the kids yelled "Surprise!"  They enjoyed that!  They had made a goodbye poster for us with personal notes.   We'll bring it home.  

But back to the important things:  Our testimonies have grown so much.  Our understanding of the amazing plan of salvation has expanded as we have studied the Old and New Testaments and seen the amazing correlation among all the scriptures.  We know more than ever that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contains the fullness of the Gospel and is the only true and living church on earth.  We are grateful for the love and generosity that Heavenly Father shows to all of us and the great atonement by our Savior Jesus Christ.  We have grown as a couple and our love for the people we have met here is a precious and cherished gift. 

We will finish April 3rd and take 10 days to see relatives and Church historical sites on our drive home...with a visit to Cooperstown slipped in...don't ask me why!  We pray for God's blessings on all the missionaries and our friends and family here and there.  

See you soon!  Love, Elder and Sister (Hermana) Dixon

Monday, March 25, 2013


Our Granddaughter, Cassy,

addresses an envelope at school,

folds up "Flat Stanley" and sends him to us!

We decided to "take him on a mission".

If you don't know who Flat Stanley is, ask a 1st grader.  I haven't read the book but this is what I understand:  Stanley was a normal little boy who went to school and had a bulletin board fall on him making him flat.  Now he can be folded up and mailed by the student in an envelope anywhere.  The recipient of the envelope is to take photos of Flat Stanley having adventures in the new environment and mail them back to the sender along with Stanley and treats for the class.  The goal is for the child to learn how to address an envelope and to learn about different places on a map.

With the assistance of Photoshop, here is some of what Flat Stanley experienced on a mission in New Jersey:

A view of Philadelphia, PA

Members of our Institutes in Union City, New Brunswick and Eatontown, plus some adult ward members go on a bus trip for an amazing experience at the Washington DC Temple.

The Sacred Grove in Palmyra.  We have just heard an inspiring talk by the local Mission President.

The damage caused by Super Hurricane Sandy is tragic.

NYC skyline from Ellis Island

The Aquarium in Camden, NJ, provided some pretty awesome photos.

Stanley meets one of our awesome training missionaries, Elder Wells.  Stanley is proudly wearing a mission badge too.

The first day in Jersey, Stanley went to Transfer Conference where the missionaries meet their new companions for the next 6 weeks or so.  In this conference we said goodbye to 5 missionaries who have finished their missions and greeted 24 new missionaries.  The conference is full of energy: missionaries are leaving with a mix of sorrow and joy, new missionaries are wondering "What am I doing here?"  or "I can't wait to get started!"  Trainers (experienced missionaries) are thinking "I hope I can help this new one feel the spirit, enjoy the service and make the most of his or her mission. "

Stanley hangs out with Elders Stanley, Smith and departing Archibald.

Even our Mission Mom, Sister Jeppson, knows all about Flat Stanley and joins the fun.

Fourteen-year-old Jonathan just magically appears at the end of our Institute lessons in Union City and offers to help take our things to the car.  I have a box of supplies:  paper plates, napkins, utensils, a pitcher of lemon flavored water, table cloth and treats for the night.

Some of our New Brunswick.  Guillermo on the right is a new convert.  Libi in the center is a convert and a returned missionary who served in Arizona.  Magali on the left comes from a Mormon family.

Stanley wants to learn how to do his Family History.  We have  YSA who come early to church so that they can  discover their ancestors through,, and other Internet programs available at the Family History Centers.

Stanley meets Brother Corbin (in the center) who is the head of the Church's Public Relations Department
 in NYC and to the UN.  

Elder Dixon poses with a photo of Stanley before entering to do service in the Manhattan Temple

Brother Corbin, is an amazing servant of the Lord with great experiences to share.
He is also Stake President in the Cherry Hills, NJ Stake near Philadelphia.

Lincoln Center, across the street from the Temple

The famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC.  Sister Dixon celebrates her birthday with a gift certificate from
the CES program.  She shares the goodies with the group because she's a missionary.

Spraying a missionary's bed for possible bedbugs.  

Missionaries called to teach in Spanish.  (New one on the right).

Missionaries teaching in English.  New one on the left.)

Photoshop brings Stanley to the Statue of Liberty

The Rockefeller tower rises into the clouds.  Guess that's why it's called a  Sky Scraper?

Our missionaries in the Elizabeth area like to drop in for the lessons and maybe for the food.  The students here for the photo are Belyruth and Cinthia in the back and Nefi and Cesar in the front.  The girls plan to go on missions this year.

Through Cassy's Flat Stanley project we were able to pull together some of our favorite memories of the mission.  Thanks Cassy!  Your candy is on it's way!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Our lessons this week

I want to share some sweet thoughts with you.  I hope you will enjoy reading this.

We are teaching Institute classes to Young Single Adults using the New Testament this semester.  Since we are going straight through the NT books, our lesson this last week was from the Gospel of John and was about the Crucifixion of Jesus even though it's not Easter time.  The lesson was a sad story of unfathomable suffering.  The agony that Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, the lashings, torture, humiliation, and his death on the cross fulfilled prophecy and finished his purpose on earth.  

I found it very interesting to see the transition that Christ's followers went through.  Before his death they believed that He was the Son of God and saw him do many miracles but they also believed that he came to free them from the Romans who ruled Israel at that time.  They thought he would become the new King of Israel.  When he died they grieved and were confused.  They dispersed and Peter, the chief apostle, even denied him three times.  

After the resurrection and Christ's appearance to them they finally got it!  See the end of John and the other 3 Gospels, and Acts 1-5.   the story becomes so powerful and joyful by comparison to the events of the crucifixion.  After three days Jesus showed himself alive to his followers starting with Mary and other women.  He then showed himself  to the apostles and eventually to 500+ people.  He spent 40 days with them, organizing His Church and teaching them the fullness of the Gospel and Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation for all of us.  When the apostles and disciples finally understood the purpose of Christ's life and death and the plan that enables all people to live again after death-- their sorrow and confusion turned to joy.  They at last could testify about the reality of the resurrection because they saw the risen Christ with their own eyes -- they taught and testified to others with boldness and clarity.  It is beautiful to read.   

After Elder Dixon (Roger) helped the lesson come alive for the students with an excellent PowerPoint description and a thoughtful discussion of the events, we were blessed to hear a number of the students express their love for Jesus and their gratitude for His atonement.  (I love it when someone translates for me so that I can understand the nuances.)   

There are so many questions that arise during a person's life:  How did Christ's death satisfy the laws of justice and mercy?    IS there really life after death?   Does God know and love me?   Does what I do here really matter?   I remembering learning when I was 12 or so that no unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of God.  That seemed logical:  If Heaven allowed sinful people to live there, it wouldn't be Heaven.  That motivated me and I've remembered it all these years!  

We invite you to go to <> and search for the answers to all the tough questions you've ever asked.  The website has answers, beautiful videos, and testimonies.  I think you will feel the spirit of the Lord when you begin to explore it's features.   I believe you will enjoy it and be glad you checked it out.

Love, Elder and Sister Dixon
(The pictures we used are from the website mentioned above, <>

From Acts 1-5 --  I especially like the following scriptures:

Acts 1:3 -- Jesus showed himself after his crucifixion to the apostles for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.  Can you imagine sitting in that group?  They must have clung on every word.  

Acts 2:4-6 -- On the day of Pentecost the disciples received the Holy Spirit and were able to teach people from every nation in their own language.  People in the city were amazed and marveled.  

Acts 2:24 --Peter taught with power about the miracles Jesus did, and after he was slain by wicked hands, it was Jesus "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (held down by death)."  (God raised Jesus--He did not raise himself.)

Acts 2:36-38 -- Peter was so fearful of the authorities before Christ's death that he actually denied knowing Jesus three times!  After the resurrection he became bold and powerful:  "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.  Now when they (the people) heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter ...what shall we do?"   "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."  (That is the great gift that is given by God through someone who has the authority when one goes through the steps of repentance and baptism.)  Three thousand souls were baptized that day and five thousand the next day or two.  

Acts 3 & 4 -- The lame man was healed and the news of it was spread like Twitter feed.  The Rulers in Jerusalem were worried about the miracle and grieved that the apostles were preaching about the resurrection from the dead through Jesus.  They commanded the apostles to not talk about it to the people.    Peter said to them, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."  Also, the followers of God had all things in common and no one lacked.  (As Christians, we could try to be more like the followers of God in this day.  The scriptures are FULL of admonitions to us to care for the poor, the widows, the fatherless, etc.)

Acts 5 -- People are being healed, miracles of all kinds were happening and there were thousands of converts.  The rulers were indignant at all the success of the apostles and worried that this movement would grow.  The Church of Jesus Christ was becoming a threat to the religious and civil leaders.   They put them in prison but at night an angel of the Lord opened the doors, releasing the apostles and told them to go to the temple and teach.   The apostles were again brought before the rulers who were debating what to do with them.  Finally a wise man said "Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; be careful therefore, lest ye be found even to fight against God."   Ironically--"And to him they agreed:...they beat the apostles and commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."  (That's agreement??  What did the apostles do?)  The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.  "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Letter

Dixon Christmas Letter 2012
New Jersey Morristown Mission, 12/2012 
(hint: we're in the 2nd row, on the left.)

Christmas Greetings from New Jersey!  We are still serving here as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We are assigned to the New Jersey Morristown Mission.  Our current task is to teach the New Testament to young single adults (YSA) who are members of our Church.  (Last year we taught the Old Testament.)  We love our work and love and admire so very much the young people with whom we work and the efforts that they are making to live truly Christian lives. Roger also serves as a counselor in the East Brunswick YSA Branch presidency.
        We teach four classes each week and all of them are taught in Spanish.  For three of these classes we travel about an hour each way.  The fourth class is merely 20 minutes away from our apartment.  We always take refreshments to encourage the young people to linger after class and socialize.  We also play some games after the class; Uno seems to be the most popular.  Twice monthly we meet for our own study sessions with David Bean, a very gifted gospel teacher and with other missionaries who are teaching classes as well.  We dearly love the other senior missionaries with whom we serve.
We teach students who have come to the United States from many countries and who are working hard to improve their possibilities for a happy future.  We love and admire them for their dedication. Many of them are preparing to serve missions for the LDS Church.  A number of our students have already left for the mission field and others have their calls in hand and will leave for the four corners of the earth in the near future.  Several others will be going as soon as they save enough money to take care of their expenses while serving.  

June 30, 2012, we took a bus with our Union City Institute students and  friends to visit the DC Temple.  Unfortunately a  Derecho (damaging tornado-like storm) had hit the night before and the electricity was out for the whole metro area.  Fortunately the Temple workers, who were just getting ready to go home, stayed and ran the Temple by a generator so that our group could enjoy doing service in there for a couple of hours.  

Hurricane Sandy
        Recently, a good deal of our time has been spent in helping to coordinate the efforts of a thousand or so volunteers giving service to help clean up homes after Hurricane Sandy hit.  The church members who  have worked so hard wear the bright Mormon Helping Hands shirts to help distinguish them as a group.  In a number of areas of damage the police were only allowing organized volunteers in and restricting access to people who were just curious.
     We have been working in the Communications Center that was established in Eatontown, New Jersey, near the Jersey shore where Hurricane Sandy did so much damage.  This is one of several centers that were set-up in the New Jersey and New York to coordinate assistance to the storm victims.  We were able to receive requests from victims who needed help and send work teams to them using a brilliantly designed software package based on Google earth.  The s/w allowed us to send Mormon Helping Hands teams to respond to the requests and also allowed teams from other churches and volunteer organizations to claim requests for their teams to work on.  Our missionaries and other Church members along with people of many faiths and other types of organizations invested tens of thousands of hours “mucking” out homes that were damaged by flood waters and falling trees and providing other much needed assistance.   So many people were left with nothing after the storm.  People who had comfortable middle-class lives were suddenly homeless.  The appreciation they expressed for the assistance received was both humbling and heartwarming. 
       It reflects well on our country that so many, many volunteers came to the aid of the storm victims.  These efforts continue and will be needed for months to come (maybe years?) before some semblance of order can be restored to the lives and communities of many of the storm victims.  We've observed that throughout NJ, even hours away from the beach, there are thousands of trees have been uprooted, splintered and crashed to the ground (or nearby building).  Many of these trees are more than four feet in diameter and could easily be more than 100 years old. If you need wood chips or mulch, this is the place to come.

We gathered with other missionaries from the NJMM to help with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath.

A little about our Family
For those of you who know our children, we include the brief summary below.  Our 3 sons live near to us in Utah and Jen and Debi live on the west coast in Oregon and California.

Eric and Liz live in Lehi, Utah with their children: Grant, 16; Claire 13; and Taylor 9.  Eric works as a software consultant for Microsoft and Liz teaches in the BYU Marriot School of Management.
Jen and Andrew Schafer live in Sherwood, Oregon with their children: Sierra, 15, Brennon, 13; and Milo, 6. Jen works as a free-lance editor and Andrew as an architectural LEED specialist for PGE.
Jeff and Kate live in Highland, Utah with their children: Carter, 9; Cassidy, 6; Ella 4; and McKay, 2. Jeff works as an agent for Sentry Insurance and Kate as a notary public.
Dan and Holly live in Lehi, Utah with their children: Sienna, 4; and Lucas, 1. Dan is a real estate broker for Prudential and Holly is a social worker for people needing hospice care.
Debi and Jared Lee live in Santa Paula, California with their children: Bethany 3; and Isaac, 3. Debi and Jared are totally immersed in setting up an orthodontics practice in Santa Paula.
We want to add our testimony to others you receive at this time:  Heavenly Father does live and He knows and loves each of us.  Jesus Christ is our Savior who teaches us principles for living and provides the means to eventually obtain eternal life.  We love being members of the Church of Jesus Christ and find that it gives purpose to all phases of our lives, especially this one.  One of the joys we have discovered as members is the invitation to do family history.  It’s a work of love and intellectual challenge and is an activity we look forward to renewing when we return from our mission in April 2013.

We wish the Lord’s tender mercies on you and your family at this time and for the New Year!
Love, Elder and Sister Dixon
(Roger & Deanne)

Go Tell it on the Mountain!

Our Christmas All-Mission Conference on December 21 was a joy!  

The conference began at 9am with a photo of everyone in our NJ Morristown Mission.
We had a couple hours of sweet testimonies and words of wisdom in the chapel.  Then we went into the cultural hall (that had been previously decorated for a wedding reception) where we were entertained by our Mission President and Sister Jeppson and then Alex Boyes, their son-in-law.  Alex is a member of the Tabernacle Choir and does individual recordings and performances. 

Elder and Sister Dixon at the table watching the musical program.

I have a couple of videos of Alex's performance.   Alex did several serious and gentle Christmas songs and then slipped in a rousing "Go Tell it on the Mountain."  I've done a miserable filming job...but it will give you an idea of the fun we were having.   

Alex Boyes invited the "brothers" to come up and do the moves with him as he sang.  (He pointed out that we are all brothers and sisters, but these are "Brothers! You know what I mean?')  There was another Bro who was sick and not present.  The Elder on the left felt at a disadvantage because he is a new missionary from Mozambique and doesn't know the American moves.  Nevertheless, he did a great job.  He told me afterward that he was pretty nervous.  

So here is my sorry filming.  I wish I had gotten the entire song.  

Alex did several tender performances too, such as "Mary, did you know?" and "I know that my Redeemer Lives."  

See <> (for a video about Alex).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What are Treasures? (Sandy, Part II)

You walk past block after block with the belongings of homes just piled as trash along the curbs and you ask yourself: WHAT ARE TREASURES?

The Sandy Cleanup experience has highlighted some TREASURES to me.
I'm listing a few in caps below:

The AMERICAN FLAG:  All around Union Beach you see American flags posted to show unity and the community.  One lady told us that the hurricane was a tragedy but also a blessing because it was bringing the town together is such a beautiful way.  People were so kind helpful and friendly.  She wishes it would always be this way.  KINDNESS, LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, LOOKING AT THE POSITIVE.
These young missionaries are happy to be part of the Mormon Helping Hands.  

PERSISTENT UNSELFISH SERVICE.   This is our "Command Center" at Eatontown in the middle of NJ.  We have about 6 people working here in the Family History Center.  We have brought in extra computers and phones to coordinate requests for service and teams offering to give service.  Stakes from all around the area arrive on Friday, Saturday or Sundays to work full days.  Many of the members sleep in the chapels and work two days.  People from other states and other groups have also been working hard.  One survivor said how much she appreciates the help.  She said, "Just seeing the volunteers out there gives me hope."

Roger is in the vest.  Sister Bjorn stands behind and the head of the volunteer effort, David, is in the blue shirt.  One of the missionaries is here picking up an assignment for his team.

FAMILY HISTORY TREASURES.  Since we are using a Family History Center, we notice the walls have interesting messages.  Being an enthusiastic genealogist since I was 14, I can identify with the sentiments.  You may lose all your earthly possessions but still have your family forever.  What a treasure!


I met a man (I'll call him Jim) as he was sweeping sand away from the curb so that the water could drain and dry up.  Jim claimed he was having an OCD moment to help bide his time while trying to figure out what to do next.  Jim has an interesting story:  he lives half a block from the beach in the townhouse on the right. When the warning to evacuate ahead of the storm came his wife said she didn't want to leave.  She had heard that another elderly neighbor had evacuated her home, which was then looted a day before the storm.  Jim's wife was concerned that the same thing could happen to their possessions so she decided to stay to protect them.  Jim, pictured here, wanted to evacuate but he couldn't leave "THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE" behind so he agreed to ride out the storm together.

Somehow they got the idea that their home might be more at risk from flying tree branches, broken glass and  heavy rains, so they decided to take all their valuables down to the garage, which was at ground level.  They worked all day and into the evening as the storm raged and grew to hurricane strength.  He said it was quite terrifying.  Just as Jim was bringing down his last load of treasures, he was in the garage and the door suddenly burst apart.  Water rushed into the garage and it was all he could do with his own rush of adrenalin to hang on and pull himself up the stairs.  The first sensation he felt when the water came was a huge sucking a rip tide, I suppose.  He and his wife made it up to a safer level for the rest of the storm but all his treasures in the garage were lost.  And yet, he can smile because he still has "the love of his life."
There are new garage doors on all the five townhouses here.

ANOTHER DAY.   This car had its own adventure!  Jim explained that the owner parked it safely in the garage.  After the storm it was found inside the next door garage!  It had been sucked out of one and smashed into the next.  When the treasure we've coveted is destroyed, just having another day is a blessing. 
Look closely and you can see this car suffered quite a beating!

The New Brunswick Ward sent a big group of workers, including some of our Institute students.

ONE MAN'S TREASURE IS ANOTHER MAN'S TRASH.  Our East Brunswick Young Single Adults (YSA) Branch members worked most of the day clearing debris from the yard of a family.  The "debris" was a big deck from one of the houses across the street by the shore.  Many other parts of the houses across the street also landed here.

Our EBYSA branch members helped clear this yard.
Being handy with a chain saw was a necessary skill.  The pieces were cut small enough to be carried to the curb.

Sometimes real treasures are found.  This bag contains some coins and paper money.  I couldn't tell if it was foreign money or not since it was all covered with nasty mud.

The EBYSA second counselor carries the bag of money across the street to see if anyone there lost it!  Notice the ocean in the background.  Seems so far away and peaceful.  

The deck is being reduced to manageable pieces.

Someone's graduation longer special.

This is the heap of trash on the curb for the city to come and haul away.

Just what was this?  A play house?

EBYSA Branch workers plus Sister Dixon in red on the right.

The Red Cross delivered free hot meals to all the volunteers and residents who needed them.  Deanne is ready for  food!

A few keepsakes were found and set aside for the neighbors.  One woman was pleased to retrieve a wedding ring and a watch that had been stored in her bathroom vanity shelf and became lodged in a hole in the ground.

I wanted to save one of these but resisted.  They are as contaminated as everything else.

A broken cookie plate and roller skate.

Every street near the beach looks like this.  How does it feel?

HELP AND COMPASSION.  Hundreds or probably thousands of homes have been stripped like this.  The floor can be difficult.  The missionaries told us about one home that had 8 layers of flooring including strange linoleum and stuff glued down that was very hard to remove.  Below the floors was nasty wet mud that probably contained toxic chemicals and sewer contents.  This type of work was typical of what the missionaries have been doing for five-six weeks now.   Everyone wore masks to help protect them from the mold that was developing.




Last year it was a freak snowstorm that stole Halloween.  This year, Hurricane Sandy.  Notice the waterline going across the sign and the number 12.


This home made the news.  It defies description to imagine the force that hit it.

I cannot imagine the trauma people must have felt when they learned that all their treasures were either lost at sea or had been contaminated in the flood and must be tossed in a pile of trash.  Never the less, many victims express gratitude for their lives, their families, friends and the volunteers.
A sign like this is a community treasure.