Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Fun

        Last Monday night for FHE, we went to the Plaza to view the lights of the Season.  We all enjoyed it and traveled there in the mission van driven by Elder Atwood.  But, one of the funnest things was stopping at the cheesecake factory and getting a piece of cheesecake.  Some of us went to cold stone across the street and had ice cream.  Here we are with the Seamans, Sister Jensen & Sister Arnold, The Fullmers, the Blacks, and in Front, the Atwoods and the Melins.

        Last night, the Stake Presidency gave their annual Christmas dinner for the missionaries in this stake.  Here we are in line to eat.  The women got to go first.

        This is Sister Cato, the Stake President's wife.  She was in charge and is awesome.  She's probably just relaxing a bit for the evening.

        Elder Dunn is the host for family feud game between the Stake Presidency and the Mission Presidency.  It was completely a wash out for the Stake Presidency.  But, they were good sports.  Elder Dunn did an amazingly good job as host.  And the audience was great and involved.

        This is Dr. and Sister Affleck, new missionary couple over the Medical Area of our mission and other missions.  He is doing the same thing as Dr. John Lyman did in California.  In fact, they know each other and are good friends.  He is here taking a picture of us, as we are doing the same to him.

        These are just some of the missionaries in our Stake:  Elders: Goro, Whiting, Dunn, Vaughn, McCurdy, and Taylor.  They did the advertisements between the rounds of Family Feud.  Elder Dunn and Elder Vaughn are serving with us in Riverview Branch.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

        This was our Branch's Thanksgiving dinner.  We fixed 8 turkeys and 3 hams and not a drop of food was left.  But, we had a good time.  This is Cindy Hiatt, Brother Jeffrey, and Sister Elizabeth Bennett.  We had a great time.

        This is our November Zone Conference.  It was the week before Thanksgiving.  Elders around the table are eating a lite brunch.  President Vest is seated with them.  The Elder in the center, in the light suit, is Cheryl Nebeker Sanger's nephew, Elder Sanger.

        These are some of the Sisters at lunch time.  Sister Jacobs is first on the left and lived in Christa & Randy's ward.  Fun Sisters!!!

        This picture is here for no reason whatsoever.  I don't know where it came from, but it's ok.

        This was our Bishopric last month: Brother & Sister LaPlant, Bishop & Sister Munger, Brother & Sister Hiciano (Dominican Republic)  They were release when our Ward was made into a Branch.

        This is our new Branch Presidency.  President & Sister Woodward,  President & Sister Mendoza, and President & Sister Sua,  They are just as great as the last group.  We will be coming home in another week or so and will miss everyone here.  We have loved our little Ward & Branch.  The Gospel is true and people are great all over the world.  This mission has been a wonderful experience for us.  We have met many people whom we have loved and enjoyed.  We especially love the missionaries, seniors and young ones.  We are Thankful this season.  Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.  May we all remember our dear Savior this Season and what He has done for each of us that we can never repay, but we can accept His gift by living His commandments and trying to live as He did.  Love you all, Elder & Sister Atwood

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Past Week

        We had to pick up three new cars for the missionaries.  We had only two men in the office to bring them back.  So, I was able to go and drive one home from the airport to the office.  It was pretty fancy for me.  I had to inspect it before driving.  So, I got to fiddle with all the fancy stuff.  Fun!

        We had transfers this past week.  Wednesday night, when all the missionaries arrive, we go to the Mission Home and conduct a short meeting with the staff.  I take all the missionaries pictures.  Elder Atwood talks about housing.  This week, Elder Atwood went to the airport to pick up two Visa Waiter Missionaries that came in on a different flight than we were told.  So, he spent an hour or so at the airport before coming late to the meeting.  He did, however, arrive in time to go to dinner with the Office Staff; the Carlsons, Sister Arnold, Sister & Elder Black, and the Atwoods.  Luckily, the missionaries were found at the end of our dinner and Elder Atwood drove back to the airport to pick them up.  They had been waiting and were surely relieved.  They are waiting for their Visas to go to Brazil.

        These are the departing missionaries who went home Friday.  Elder Norton (almost out of the picture) Griffin, Brady, Lee, Sanchez, (front row) Elder Black, Lowry, Everitt, & Moss (our AP) (back row)  sister Challis is in front, the only Sister going home.  Two of them had expired drivers licenses and one had his plane flight cancelled till Saturday morning.  All in the life of a missionary.

        We had our bi-monthly devotional at the Liberty Jail VC on Sunday.  This is the McCurder family.  They were recently baptized.  Five of them spoke (the ones over eight who were all baptized)  They bore great testimonies of the Book of Mormon, truth, and how it has changed their lives.  The father had lost his father early in life and was very interested to know he now has a father in Heaven.  The mother felt sorry for the young missionaries and invited them in.  They had lots of questions and were looking for a religion they could raise their family in.  It was wonderful to have the entire family come into the church.

        This is Brandy Jarvis.  She came in contact with the church from a friend at school.  But, she was 16 and had to wait till she was 18 for her parents.  She kept going and waited the time.  She knows the church is true and believes the Book of Mormon which she has read many times.

        This is Jeremy Guthrie.  He was at our ward on Sunday, because of his time schedule.  He is the pitcher for the KC Royals, a baseball team that at presently is doing AWESOME!  The important part is that Jeremy is not only a great baseball player, but a good, valiant member of the church here in Kansas City.  He filled a mission at the expense of a baseball career, then finished school, and finally is still wanted by the draft board and playing well.  His church and his religion comes first.  They are now in the playoffs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Transfer Week

        This is the last group that arrived on Transfer Week.  We had only two Sisters.  But a great group.  This coming week we are expecting another group of missionaries.  The work goes forward.

        This is the group of Senior Missionaries in our mission.  President & Sister Vest are seated in front with the mission presidency.  We meet for a dinner and devotional every other month.  It is fun to see the Senior Missionaries and visit with them at this time.  We have one more this month and it will be the last one we will be able to go to.  The ones leaving bear their testimonies that night as a farewell to all.

        Yes, I'm helping with the Ward choir.  This is my group.  They are great and we have fun.  Love to sing, always have, always will.

        These are the two Elders presently serving in Riverview Ward.  Elders Christensen & Young.  Both are from Idaho.  Transfers this week will probably take them away, but it's been fun to get to know these fine young men.

        This is Elder Crowton and Elder Dayton.  They also work in the area and we get to see them often in the office.  Elder Crowton is from St. George and Elder Dayton reminds me of Porter.

        Elder McCurdy came in the office today to see if he had mail.  His mother sent this hat to him for his birthday.  Star Wars somebody?  He's another great Elder.  We really love the young men who serve here.  They are like more sons!  Fun!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

VC Devotional last weekend

        We had our monthly Devotional at the VC last Sunday evening.  There were several testimonies born from recent converts.  This is Rick.  He has had a very rough and hard life.  He has spent years in and out of prison.  But, he had a dream that motivated him to change his life and turn it over to God.  He tried to do just that and felt much better about himself and where he was going.  Then, time passed and he moved here.  He met the missionaries who told him about the Book of Mormon and the doctrines of our church.  He came to church and began to listen and study.  He recently joined and feels better than he has his whole life.  God has directed him back to where he is now.  He told the group, "you think it's hard to follow the straight & narrow?  It's a lot harder to go the way I've gone."  Good advice for all of us.

        These are two of the missionaries who taught Michael.  Michael began many years ago to date a Mormon girl.  He went to church and loved the people and the feelings he felt there.  But, time passed, he went another way, drifted from God, and was lost and alone.  He believed he needed help, but was told by other friends that, "God is not going to help you, you have to do it yourself!"  Then, he met the missionaries.  Elder Griffin told him that "God will help you if you sincerely ask!"  That began a quest that brought him back to the church.  He continued attending even after the missionaries left the area.  Then other missionaries contacted him and asked him to pray about a baptismal date.  He had a dream where he saw himself in white clothing.  That was his sign to prepare for baptism.  He now has been baptized and has done additional baptismal work in the Temple for family members he knows have accepted his work.

        This is Duane (Wayne) and his wife.  Wayne was raised in a rough childhood.  Several of his family members were on drugs.  He tried to raise his little sister and take care of her by selling drugs himself.  Then, his older brother told him not to follow the road he had traveled; to stop selling and get back to a church.  Right after their conversation, his brother was killed.  Wayne had hard times again, but always remembered his brother and how much he loved him.  Later, he married a Mormon girl.  He came home one day to find the missionaries in his home. "Why are they here?" he asked.  But, he sat down and listened to their message.  They made a lot of sense!  He began to ask lots of questions.  They told him to make sure he read and prayed about their message.  He prayed.  His sign was: "If I feel good, I'll just keep going."  So, he kept going until he was baptized.  He stated that he still needs to read more, but he always prays and he feels good1

        This is Wayne's new baby who was also at the devotional just sitting quietly, listening to her dad.  She was so cute!

        This is Karen.  She is now 17.  She was raised Catholic and was very active in her church.   She always wanted her family to go to church with her, but they weren't as ready.  When she moved here, she began going to another church.  She sang in the choir and again wanted her family to join her.  Then, she began dating a Mormon guy.  He invited her to attend our meetings.  Everyone accepted her and treated her well.  Sister Heylen and Lettig taught her.  She came to know it was true.  But, her parents wouldn't let her join.  She continued to pray until 5 months later, when they saw how happier she was, they allowed her to be baptized.  It had taken her 9 months to realize her desire for baptism.  Thru her testimony, her dedication, and her fervent prayers, they even attended her baptism.  Now, they are beginning to ask questions too.  She hopes to spread the gospel through her own testimony to them.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last Week Events

         Our three sons, Marshall, Weston, and Shane, came to visit us over Labor Day weekend.  We took them to most of the historic sites in the area.  Here we are at our first stop, Far West, where the temple site was dedicated years ago, but never able to erect the building because of mobs and persecution.  It is kept up now by the church and the grounds are beautiful.  Someday a temple will be on this very site.

        This is the same site, only the South East Cornerstone, where our 5th great grandfather (Levi Hancock) stood with his brother and sang the Song of Freedom which he wrote for the dedication and the 4th of July event here in Far West.  It was right after this event, that the Prophet Joseph Smith was arrested and taken to Independence Jail, Richmond Jail, and ended up in Liberty Jail.  We also visited the 80 acres just outside of Far West where Levi and his father owned land back in 1838.

        Here is the inside of Historic Liberty Jail where Joseph & Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Brother McCrea, spent the winter of 1838 in the dungeon below.  It was cold, dark, miserable, yet several sections of the Doctrine & Covenants were written here.  Joseph grew stronger through these trials and continued to become the polished stone he was chosen to become.  We owe him so much for his faithfulness and strength.  No matter the trail, the work will progress, and we can be refined in the process if we continue in faith.

        Of course, we had to eat!  Here we are eating at one of the 13th most desirable places to eat in the world, Oklahoma Joe's Bar B Q.  We only waited in line for an hour and a half.  But, it was Saturday night and it was worth it.

        After the boys left, we had a big week of Arriving Missionaries and Departing Missionaries.  The top picture is the Arrivals.  They came in on Wednesday, September 3, and spent the night at the President's home.  Here they are: 11 Elders and 2 Sisters.  Most are from Utah, except one Elder from Washington, and the Sisters from California and Virginia.  They were taken the next morning to the Stake Center where they met their new companions and began their work.

        Then, on Friday, we took the departing missionaries to the temple and then the airport.  This is the KC Temple with: Elders Javeloza, Goodale, Rudd, Ingram, Larson, and White.  In front are: Sister Medel, two members, Sister Wood, Sister & President Vest.  This group of missionaries were all going different places. (only a couple to Utah)  We also had our last two Visa Waiting Missionaries receive their Visas and go on to their assigned country, both to Brazil, but different missions.  They also flew out this week on Tuesday.  The missionary force is awesome all over the world!

        I almost forgot, another thing we took our sons to; the missionary's apartment.  They helped their father, Elder Atwood, move an apartment of missionaries.  It was three stories high, so Elder Atwood needed some strong young men to help.  He had two missionaries and his sons.  They were done in half the time.  Service is an important part of the gospel and it is important to help our missionaries doing even the daily chores to keep them taken care of.  This is Elder Atwood's calling and responsibility here in our mission.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Devotional at Liberty Jail

        This is outside the Historic Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith spent the hard cold winter months and yet received the revelations in the D&C.  Inside they take tours and tell his heroic story.  But, on the third Sunday, President Vest & his wife (above) listen to new members of the church bear their testimonies of the gospel and their baptisms.  They then, conclude with their witness of God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ, the prophet Joseph Smith, the truth of the Book of Mormon, and their love for all.

        This week, we heard from Carlos.  He is between two of the missionaries who taught him, Elder Javeloza and Elder Tillett.  Carlos was only here for the summer and goes home in a week.  When he met the missionaries, he prayed, "Please God, tell me, I want to know truth."  He felt the answer that he had to continue and study.  He read, studies, went to church, and later received his answer.  When he was baptized, he felt clean.  And every day he feels cleaner and cleaner.  He is now going back to his country excited and eager to tell his family and friends about what he has learned.  He also said, "It is no accident I came here for summer."  "I'm a Latter Day Saint Kid!"

        This is Katie Chapman with her two children and her mother.  Katie met a girl online who became her friend.  One day her friend told her she was LDS.  Katie said, "What is that?"  Latter Day Saint.  "What is that?"  Finally, she found out she was a Mormon.  Her friend came to Missouri and took Katie through the sites and VCs.  Then, she sent the Missionaries to Katie's home.  Katie's son was wearing his BYU sweatshirt (which her friend had also sent him.)  So, Katie began to learn.  She read the Book of Mormon which gave her, "...insights to things I did not know."  This is Elder Tillet, Sister Ray, Sister Allan, and Sister Wood.  Several missionaries helped to teach Katie.

        This is Martino Brown.  He was dissatisfied with his religion.  He studied several, looking for the spirit of the Lord and a comforting feeling.  He studied Islam, then Hinduism.  But, when he entered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints he had a feeling he could not explain.  He was crying all the time.  He was emotional, but in a quiet sincere way;  Nothing he had ever experienced.  He knows the church and the gospel are true.

        This is a new senior couple, the McCuistons, who have come from Virginia to work with us in the Family History Record Preservation area.  We just met them last night.  Their story was:  He was a member of the church, but not active, unless visiting his extended family who were active.  She was a Southern Baptist.  They were married while he was in the service and later moved to Virginia.  She of course attended her church there, but didn't find it quite to her liking.  So, she said to him, "What about your church?"  He said he would check to see if they could find someone.  But, sooner than they knew, two young men knocked on their door.  These young men were about to go home, but decided just one more door.  They had been tracting in a somewhat hostile neighborhood.  So, when she opened the door and said, "Where have you been, I've been waiting for you!"  they fell backward in astonishment.  As they taught her, her Pastor brought other members and came to their home to save them from the missionaries.  They were also invited in.  At each comment, the conversation became more heated until, one of the missionaries closed his book and said, "I'm so sorry, we have lost the spirit, could we come again and teach you.?"  It was then that the husband said to the Pastor,"You are welcome to stay, but we want to hear what these missionaries have to stay."  Unfortunately, he had to escort them out.   But, his wife felt the spirit she was looking for and joined the church.  Now, they are serving a mission to help others come to know what they know as the truth.  They are so much fun and have great personalities.

        These are a couple of pictures at our Zone Conference just this week.  Sister Currie, Sister Moody, Sister Hansen, Sister McLing, Sister College, Sister Sumsion President Vest is in the background.  The Relief Societies of different stakes furnish & serve the lunches.

        Elder Cam Christensen, Elder Parry, Elder Harrod, Elder Kaafi, Elder Jones, Elder Ingram, & Elder Dayton, who reminds me of Porter.  These are only some of the missionaries.  The Zone Conferences are divided into thirds because we have so many missionaries.  In December, they all get together for the Christmas Zone Conference.

        This is a picture of most of the missionaries singing to the ladies who served lunch.  They do this every time and the servers love it.  Of course, they sing, "Called to Serve."