Friday, October 26, 2012

One-Year Report

Great camera work, somebody!

 Just over a year ago this month we entered the Mission Training Center and began our amazing journey.    I know a lot more now!  I know our experience couldn't really be anticipated but that's OK.  We didn't need to know everything we would be facing before we started.  Now we are facing the coming of "Hurricane Sandy" in a couple of days.  I decided I would slip in this blog before it becomes an event too!

         So what have I learned that has amazed me?

         I've learned from watching the wonderful missionaries we serve with the sweet attitude of giving your all:  It's along the lines of a favorite song we sing at church:  "I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord.  I'll do what you want me to do....I'll say what you want me to say....I'll be what you want me to be."  These words become reality in the mission field.  I see everyone from the Mission President and his wife and the other senior missionaries to the newest "greenie" in the ranks of the young missionaries all saying in effect, my time is yours, Heavenly Father.  Let me know what you want me to do."  They are actually giving everything they have to "bring to pass much righteousness" in "this, the last days and the fullness of times."
This is where they serve.

This is what they teach.

This is where they live and sleep.

        Some of our missionaries overcome great challenges to be here, starting with our dear Mission President who has had some serious health problems.  I would like to list all the people I admire for their devotion to the Lord through great trials but I'll keep this general.  We have three seniors who have experienced life-threatening illnesses in this last year, others have been hit with family tragedies, and several who have humbly taken unglamorous jobs to be able to help the work along, such as inspecting 70+ missionary cars regularly or helping set up new apartments for missionaries.  Even some of our young missionaries struggle with serious health, family and financial concerns.  One had to go home from his mission in Brazil for three months to have a shunt in his head repaired.  He is serving here now and is again having headaches and shunt problems.  We admire them all so much.  I think each would say that all they want to do is help bring the gospel to the people who have not received the Good News.

Here are two elders singing a song for other missionaries in a small district meeting that we were privileged to attend.   Attending these district and zone meetings has been one of the highlights of my mission experience.  The missionaries experience weekly miracles and are miracles, when you think how young they are and how their lives have changed as they have learned to love and serve others.  (Click on the arrow below).

And this is how they see their work.

        In August we had two sisters arrive and move into our neighborhood to help with the English-speaking Institute program.   On their first day in the mission field we toured Ellis Island and the grounds at the Statue of Liberty.  I learned that although I have felt patriotic all my life, my appreciation of what America means to the down-trodden and hungry masses coming here for a better life can deepen even more. 

        Unfortunately, Sister Kelly became quite ill and had to go home to Georgia.  We miss her and pray for her successful recovery.  Until Sister Bjorn gets a new companion, we enjoy sharing some meals, rides, lesson discussions, meetings and encouragement with her.  It's convenient that she lives just 3 blocks away.  Deanne is assisting her with Temple Ready classes to two young people leaving soon from New Jersey to go to Romania and Germany.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty in August was an especially exciting event.  From left to right:  Elder and Sister Phillips (from Idaho Falls), Sister Bjorn (from Montana), Sister Kelly (from Georgia), Sister Smith , Sister Goodwin,  (both from Jordan UT), Sister & Elder Dixon (from Highland, UT). 
       Sister Goodwin (as I mentioned before, is on her 4th mission and...shhhh...81 years young) and Sister Smith (2nd or 3rd mission) help with the church's Pathway Program, which gives young people in many far away places a chance to get a four-year college degree online through BYUI at a greatly reduced price.

      The Phillips give volunteer service in the genealogical research center at Ellis Island once a week.
      To finish my list of what I've learned, I'll just have to say 'check back'.  I have more wonderful lessons of course, but it's after10 pm and Roger and I are going to meet the Relief Society President of our branch at 7am tomorrow to help clean the building for Sunday services.   Now the twice-a year-cleaning help I used to perform back in Utah seems pretty unremarkable. 

Coming to America (photo at Ellis Island).  What do you think they were about?
Symbol of Liberty around the world!   An overwhelming sight to the downtrodden arriving from distant lands.  I'm grateful to France for this amazing gift and work of art.  


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