Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cannot believe that it is Wednesday already.  This last week has flown by, and today I didn't even know what day it Was!  Last week, Tuesday night, 25 new missionaries arrived in the mission.  A lot of planning had to go into getting them picked up at the airport (Syracuse, NY), transported to Utica, etc.  The mission president takes them for pizza first, and then they come back to the stake center for some training.  There was too much luggage to bring to the mission home, so each missionary was given a white garbage bag to bring their "essentials" for spending the night and the luggage was left in the chapel overflow until the next morning.  We had two elders stay with us -- both waiting for their Brazilian visas and reassigned to our mission.  We had to be back over to the church at 7:15 in the morning to get ready for breakfast.  Because of the size of the group, the breakfast had to be at the church.  40 people was too much, even for the mission home.

After breakfast (and during breakfast too) the mission president interviewed the new missionaries so he could assign trainers and decide on the transfers.  This is a huge undertaking for the mission president, and I saw how much The Lord is a part of these undertakings.  A man alone could not do the work -- the Spirit is such a huge part of these decisions, and the mission president is inspired.  At 10:30 the trainers met, and then they separated and sat on the two sides of the chapel while the 24 new missionaries sat in the center.  Then the president announced the companions.  It was a neat experience to be part of this process.  Pres. Wirthlin is a wonderful man, and I have a lot of respect for him.  We took pictures and served lunch to about 100, then there was training until about 3:30.  Lots of missionaries in the office looking for their mail -- a lot of energy in the office when the missionaries are there.  I was responsible for getting about 250 letters out to missionaries, parents, bishops and stake presidents.  Had no idea about all of the paperwork with transfers and the new missionaries!!!!  I am getting the system into my brain a bit better, but now we have 24 missionaries coming the 30th of March and we do it again!!!  Dad has to get 10 more apartments leased and the four of us (the other office couple) will be getting the furnishings.

Saturday we did some shopping, laundry at the laundromat and then had the other office couple over for chili.  We realized that our vacuum was not working -- 3 weeks in the apartment and nothing being cleaned up.  Kind of sickening, even though the carpet had been cleaned before we moved in.  We had a nice evening, and it is fun to get to know the Barlow's better.  We were able to get a new vacuum and vacuuming this apartment once filled up the canister!!

Our branch is a small group -- 50 people there on Sunday was a stretch.  We have three or four in wheelchairs and several are heavy smokers.  Many women come in pants and some in jeans.  I do not say this in criticism, just to say that these are humble people, new in the church, and doing their best to make huge changes in their lives.  The primary children sang in sacrament meeting--all eight of them, and five were from one family.  Seminary is held on Tuesday nights, and there is no Mutual or scouting program because the number of youth is so small.  It takes a lot of dedication for the active members to provide the regular church programs for their children.  One family brings their two boys to Utica for scouts, and that is a 40 mile trip one way.

I came home from church, had a spoon of peanut butter and then took a 2 1/2 hour nap.  I could not lie down fast enough!  I was dragging on Sunday.  When we came out of church the wind was blowing and the wind chill was -3'.  It was soooooooo cold!  Being under my minky blanket felt so good, and I did not even want to come out to have dinner.

We have had three missionaries go home since we have been here.  Two had depression problems that could not be taken care of in the mission.  Hopefully they will be able to come back.  The other elder was a great missionary. Had just been made trainer, and he had physical problems (deformities) where his jaw would lock and he was in the ER three times in two days.  Finally the ER doctor said he needed to go home to have extensive surgery. He needs to have major surgery and hopes to be back in 6 - 7 months.  The other missionaries love him and he has a special spirit about him.  I hope the surgery will be done so that he can come back to the mission.  The president said today that he has never had so many homesick missionaries -- 7 of the new missionaries.  They are young and many have not been away from home before -- a challenge for both missionaries and mission president.  I have a great deal of admiration for young missionaries.  It is not easy, and they have to be strong in mind and body.  A mission is a great blessing in their lives, but there are challenges!

We are loving our office experiences.  It is interesting to be a part of the inner-workings of a mission.  There is so much that is done behind the scenes.  A mission president has to be inspired to effectively lead, and I am so grateful for ours.   I know we have been sent here for a reason, and I am grateful for this experience.  I have never worked harder and longer in a day's time, but I am thrilled to be a part of this great work.  I can see the Lord's hand and influence each day in this work and pray I can be worthy of the incredible blessings I have had in my life.

Have not taken any pictures this week -- only of new missionaries, and I did not want to send those.  Love getting your pictures, so keep on sending them....

My life has been blessed because of each of you.  Love you all,

Monday, February 18, 2013

A few pictures from last week

 View from our porch

Our apartment

The Living Room

The kitchen

Snow piled from the snow plows -- piled in parking lots

Our meetinghouse

Scott and son Matthew on his baptism day

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Busy Week

We have had a busy week.  There is a lot to do to get everything ready for the 25 missionaries coming in on Tuesday.  The president and AP's have been delivering and installing furniture and all of the essentials that are involved in setting up the apartments:  furniture, beds, dishes, etc.  Eight apartments were set up, and we have eight more to do in the next few weeks.  I have been involved with the paperwork that is needed for the new missionaries plus the ones who will be going home this week. 
I almost had a meltdown one afternoon, but I was able to pull myself together and keep on smiling.  I put the pressure on myself, but I have wanted to keep ahead of the game so that I am sure everything gets done.  I love the work and find joy in the service, but it is also difficult.  The Lord is in charge and we need to depend on Him for His help.
Along with the new missionaries, there will be a lot of transfers this week.  We will have two missionaries staying with us, and two will be with the other Senior Couple, and then the rest of the missionaries will stay at the president's home.  The president's home has four bedrooms upstairs and then two bedrooms plus a family room downstairs -- it will be crowded and some will sleep on blow-up mattresses.  We will be doing breakfast and lunch on Wednesday.  This last week there was a "Return and Report" day for those missionaries who had come out a month ago.  It is a time to do reminding, training, encouraging for the new missionaries and is done a month after they reach the field.  A big lunch was held that day at the mission home.  Sister Wirthlin does a great job, and we are always invited to come so that we can get to know the missionaries.
When the missionaries are in the office, there is electricity in the air!!!  They are full of energy and there is never a dull moment.  It is part of the fun of working in the office when the missionaries come.  They are good young men and women and I enjoy seeing them.  One of the AP's is going home this week, and he will be greatly missed.
We were expecting a big snowstorm Friday night, so before we came home for the evening we went to the grocery store to pick up a few items in case we were stuck at home for a couple of days.  The snow did come -- 12" worth -- but the road crews get it cleaned up fairly quickly and we were able to do a couple of errands out and about yesterday.  For the most part we spent the day getting our apartment in better shape, and getting things organized a bit better.  We are getting there.  I don't like spots on the carpet, but we will keep it as clean as we can and work on the spots again.  It is very comfortable for us.  Not having our own washer/dryer is different.  We have both downstairs, but the dryer is not working properly.  Dad took the clothes to the laundromat to dry.  We now have to save our quarters!!!
We attended the branch today, and it is really interesting.  They are struggling to get members there -- lots of inactivity and many of the  members do not have cars.  The branch is large -- 70 miles by 40 miles -- so the commitment has to be there for the people to come.  We came home and took naps and ate leftover stew from yesterday. 
We are always looking at the weather forecasts.  Today was beautiful but cold.  I am always thinking I can go outside when there are blue skies, but the cold is surprising.  We probably will have more snow this week, which I love.  I am not out in the biting cold very long -- just long enough to get to the car to a building or visa versa.  The seat warmers are wonderful!!!  I will admit that I am spoiled. 
I am comforted by this quote from Elder Holland:  "I promise you will do things for your grandchildren in the service of the Lord that, worlds without end, you could never do if you stayed home to hover over them.  What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, "In this family we serve missions!"
Sending our love.................
Love to each of you -- we do love getting your emails and hearing about what you and yours are doing.  It means a lot!!!  I hope this finds each of you well and happy.  We pray for each one of you......

Monday, February 4, 2013

Missionaries are coming!

Today at our staff meeting lots was discussed about the incoming missionaries and the plans for the transfers.  President Worthlin is a living testimony of working through the Spirit.  Our meetings begin and end with a song and prayer.  He also admonished us all to be reading the Book of Mormon.

So busy today, and we did not get home until 7:30.  There is so much excitement with the new missionaries coming next week and lots to do.  Getting the apartments together is a HUGE job.  Buying furniture, kitchen items, bedding, etc. etc. etc.  have to get everything needed for an apartment.  Ours was furnished somewhat haphazardly, but it works fine for us.  It actually is great!!!!  We are so glad to have our clothes out of suitcases.  It was disappointing to lose a few things due to water damage, but what was lost can be replaced.....

Want to end on a teaching moment.  If we have quoted this before, please forgive us...concerns one of the best statements heard about repentance and the Atonement:

"Repentance is changing the doesn't change the past. Acceptance of the Lord's Atonement changes what was done in the past."

We love you all and pray for the Lord's blessing on everyone.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First Full Week of the Mission Office

We finished our first full week in the mission office. Three days of training by the couple we are replacing and we were on our own. Elder Cutler's duties are all the financial records, paying bills for rents, utilities & mission charge cards. He also makes sure the missionaries receive their monthly food & living expenses...usually about $160/each. Also he reviews, signs and records all new apartment leases and starts new utilities. Big job right now because of all the new apartments that are needed for the new missionaries. We receive 21 new missionaries on the 12th with 1/3 of them sisters. Pres. Worthlin is receiving inspiration on who and where all these new missionaries will serve.

Sister Cutler's duties will be answering the mission phone, recording and reorganizing transfers, monthly newsletter, weekly president's letter, recording baptisms, arranging arrival and departure packets, and the list goes on.  Busy!!!

Saturday, we were finally able to move all our belongings from our car and the mission home into our own apartment (our apartment is the bottom right).  Living out of a suitcase for the past month was getting tiring. We had stored some of our stuff in the basement of the apartment, but Friday night, the basement was filled up with 3" of water and some items got really soaked...lost some books and possibly some temple clothes which were in a soft bag.  We had to buy some items for the apartment on Sat., so by night time we were pretty exhausted...but we now are finally settled. Our apartment is on the ground floor, small kitchen area, comfortable couch and leather easy chair in the living room, one small bathroom and two bedrooms (king bed and twin beds). From time to time, we will be having missionaries stay overnight. All the major stores are within 2 miles (except Costco).

{Dad going to the post office.  Note the dirty car!}

Today, Sunday, we drove 37 miles to the branch where we are assigned. It used to be a thriving ward, but when most of the old factories closed, many of the strong members had to leave. Today there were about 70 members in attendance. We felt the strong spirit of the branch immediately and were warmly and excitedly accepted. We are going to love attending. Don't know what the Branch President will want us to do yet, but will do what is asked. We are replacing a couple who are on a temple mission at the Palmyra Temple. That's about a 2 hour drive each way. They would usually leave on Sat. night and stay at a member's home that night so they could be there for Sunday meetings. He was a counselor in the branch presidency and she was Primary president. What faithful senior missionaries.

After church, we were invited to have lunch at the home of a member of the Stake Presidency who lives in the branch. They asked us to follow them home and arrived through country back roads which took about 25 minutes. We would have never found it on our own. Wonderful family who has a daughter who was in the MTC when we were there. It took us about 50 minutes to drive back to our apartment...left at 9 am and returned about 5 pm. Long day but very enjoyable experience.  We have taken a couple of pictures of the countryside, but because of the white clouds and white snow it is hard to see anything.

{View from the apartment building we live in}

We are going to just love this mission and upstate NY and the wonderful faithful members. The missionaries are pumped up and the excitement is high. We love our Mission President and his wife. Missionary life is great, tiring and worthwhile.