Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Staff Meetings

Every Monday that President and Sister Bulloch are in town, we have a staff meeting attended by the Bullochs, the Karlinseys and the Elders serving as Assistants to the President.  We have a thought and a prayer then talk about the upcoming week.  This week is transfer week.  Four new missionaries will be arriving Tuesday afternoon and the president and his wife will pick them up at the Syracuse airport and bring them back to Utica.  On Wednesday, all the missionaries who are being transferred will travel to their new areas.  We have a sister missionary from the Temple Square mission in Salt Lake who has been here for three months helping out the proselyting missionaries and will fly back to Salt Lake on Wednesday. Two missionaries who have completed their missions will be flying home on Thursday.  During this meeting while we were discussing all these matters, somehow the subject of transfer transportation came up and President Bulloch shared a story with us from the mission he served in the Montana Billings Mission when he was a young man.

He was flying all alone (they did that in those days) from Missoula, Montana to Casper, Wyoming.  The flight attendant on this flight was a beautiful young woman whom everyone was openly admiring.  He was tempted to take off his missionary badge for just this flight and flirt with her like all the other men were doing, but his conscience got the upper hand and he left his badge in place.  After she had finished her serving duties, she came and sat down by him!  Everyone looked at him, thinking, "Wow, what did he do to get her attention?"  He thought the same thing as well.

"You're a Mormon, aren't you," she said to him.  He said he was and she said she was too.  She told him she had sat down by him because she knew he wouldn't try to flirt with her; that she was very tired of the attention she got from the majority of men.  Then they talked about her husband who was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam, how lonely and worried she was, and how glad she would be when he got home safely.  Elder Bulloch was very grateful he had followed the promptings to be true to his commitment as a missionary.

A few months later, Elder Bulloch was transferred to South Dakota to the same town where this beautiful young woman and her husband lived.  Elder Bulloch then had the opportunity to teach the gospel to the husband and be instrumental in his conversion and baptism.  Every time he thinks about this incident, he thanks the Lord again for strengthening him in his commitments.

I love being on this mission.  It seems like every week we hear or participate in a faith promoting incident and are strengthened, too, in our commitments to the Lord.  We love you and hope you don't get tired of our preaching!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

High Priests Fireside

We were invited to attend a fireside tonight by the Utica Ward High Priests Group.  President and Sister Bulloch picked us up and took us to Dallas and Sandy Jones house for the fireside.  There were about six couples and four widows there.  Brother Jones led the discussion on prayer and it was a great evening.  At one point Sister Brady told about her baptism.  Sister Jones is in her late 80s and a convert to the Church.  She used to tell people that she belonged to the Church of the Spoken Word.  She listened to the Tabernacle Choir every Sunday for 50 years and she loved Richard L. Evans.  She decided after several years that she wanted to join that church.  So she finally walked into the Utica Ward and told the Bishop that she wanted to join the Church.  He asked her if she had received the missionary discussions and she answered, "What's that?"  So in due course, she was taught and baptized.  She said that for weeks before she was baptized, she prayed that Jesus would be at her baptism, that Brigham Young, David O. McKay and Richard L. Evans would be there.  After the baptism was over and she was going home, she said, "Hmmm, they didn't come," and was very disappointed.

Sunday came and she went to Sacrament Meeting and took the sacrament for the first time.  As she drank the water she heard a voice saying, "I am Jesus Christ, I am here."

Then she heard a loud, booming voice saying, "I am Brigham Young, I am here."

Then she heard a soft, quiet voice saying, "I am David O. McKay, I am here."

Then she heard heard a very familiar voice say, "I am Richard Evans and I don't have a spoken word!"

Several years later she met Sister Evans and told her this story.  It was the first time she had shared this with anyone.  When she got to the part about Brother Evans, Sister Evans said, "That sounds just like Richard!"


The Oneida Branch had a temple excursion to the Palmyra temple two weeks ago.  We got permission from President Bulloch and went with them.  It is a two hour trip from our apartment.  When we arrived, the temple president was addressing our youth in the baptism area on the blessings of temple work.  He told a wonderful story about a friend of his whose father had never joined the church.  He was a hard headed, stubborn German man who had avoided any discussion about the Church while he was alive.  After he had been dead for a number of years, she decided to have his temple work done.  Her Bishop and home teacher were in the baptismal font while she was watching on the side.  As these priesthood holders prepared to do the baptism, this woman saw her father standing on the other side of the font.  He was rocking back and forth, standing on his tip toes as though he was preparing to run.  After the baptism was completed, he looked across the font at his daughter and smiled.  She had been very anxious about having his work done because he had been so stubborn when he was alive, so she was elated that she was able to have this confirmation that he would accept the work. Bill and I helped with the baptisms, me handing out towels and him performing priesthood duties and we had a wonderful time.  We then went through an endowment session.

After we left the temple, we drove over to the Visitors Center near the Sacred Grove.  We went on a tour of the Smith family's log house, the frame house that Hyrum built for his parents, the coopers shop where Joseph had hidden the plates on a few occasions, and the barn.  There was a hollow Beech log in the barn that the family had used for a beehive which was quite impressive.  All in all, it was a very interesting tour.  It ended at the entrance to the Sacred Grove.  We walked through the grove again, resting occasionally and enjoying the quiet and the spirit that existed there.

While we were there, we met EmRee Moncur Pugmire's husband.  He was traveling on business and decided to take a few hours and see the grove since he was so close.  We had a nice visit about folks and relatives that we had in common.

We took pictures, but apparently something is wrong with our camera, because they didn't save to the disc.  Darn!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sad Week

Last week was a very sad week for our mission.  On Tuesday, August 30, Sisters Valerie Bentley and Natalie Love were in a car accident and Sister Bentley was killed.  Sister Love was driving on a highway with a 55 mph speed limit.  She turned left to pull into a driveway and didn't see the white SUV coming toward them.  The driver of the SUV didn't even have time to step on her brakes, she was so close, and crashed into the missionaries car still going full speed.  Sister Love suffered some broken ribs, a punctured lung and some cracked vertebrae which did not threaten injury to her spine.  We don't know what injuries the other driver received, just that they were not life threatening.  Sister Love has been released from her mission while she recuperates at home from her injuries.  It is anticipated that she will be gone a month to 6 weeks.

In the office we were informed of the accident not long after it happened, but we didn't know Sister Bentley had passed away until the next morning.  All the missionaries were informed by the President's assistants, but weren't given any details.  On Thursday, Amy sent me a link to a Deseret News article about the accident with most of the details, as well as some heart breaking interviews with Sister Bentley's family and friends.  It read in part, "Vanessa Bentley is the fifth of Steve and Debbie Bentley's seven children and the third to serve an LDS mission (her two brothers both served missions in Ecuador).
"She sort of stuck out in our family," said her faither, Steve. "She was blonde; the rest of us have dark hair."
Her father said she had "an infectious laugh and a beautiful smile, and a real way with people."
That ability was noted by a non-LDS woman in Ithaca, N.Y., who met Vanessa when she and her missionary companion served in the soup kitchen there. She wrote to Vanessa's parents to tell them how impressed she was with the kindness and compassion so clearly manifest through her service. "She said even the priest who was over the soup kitchen was impressed with Vanessa," her mother, Debbie, said.
A former high school basketball player ("she was tall and lanky," her father said), Vanessa worked for the BYU audio-visual department while she attended college. "One time I was watching a basketball game on BYU-TV and I saw one of the players run over Vanessa and her camera," Steve said. "I immediately texted her to see if she was OK. Within a few minutes they were talking to her live on the TV. She said, 'I just got a text from my Dad asking if I'm OK. So yes, Dad, I'm fine!' "
Rowberry says she remembers watching Vanessa wrestle with the decision of whether or not to go on a mission. "She had been talking about it for a long time, but when the time came to make the decision she considered it very carefully for a long time," she said. "But when she got the call, she couldn't wait to get out there. She loved the Lord, and she was excited to serve him."
And she was doing it well, Steve Bentley said. "Her mission president told us that she was a great missionary — humble, obedient and hard-working," he said. "She did everything she was asked to do, willingly. We just have to assume that Heavenly Father was in charge of this last transfer."

Neither Bill nor I had met this fine girl, but her passing affected all of us like she was family.  She was part of our mission family.  We were very busy taking care of details, phone calls, etc. Sister Love's parents came to take her home.  She was unable to fly because of the punctured lung, so they took the train home.  While they were here, Bill drove the three of them up to Ogdensburg where the sisters were serving and helped them pack up all the personal effects in the apartment.  I was going to go with them, but during the night we both got the impression that I shouldn't go.  We prayed about it the next morning, our impression was confirmed, so with the promise that we will drive up there in a few weeks (after the leaves start turning autumn colors), they went without me.  It was a good thing I didn't go because every inch of the inside of the van that wasn't occupied with people was packed tight with their belongings.