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Monday, September 26, 2016

Still here...more packing...moving forward...learning more about Self-reliance

I think that packing up a house is NOT for wimps!!! We have worked very hard this week at our packing making some good progress but it is a lot of work and seems to take twice as much energy as we have. Nevertheless we have a large stack of boxes ready to be moved to storage on Wednesday evening. Just a few more things to organize before the young men come and help us again. Our house is looking rather empty. My refrigerator is very lonely now that all the grandchildren pictures and notes have been packed away. We really have only  the basic things that we still need in the kitchen and bedroom, family history records and the old photographs left to pack.

Now there will be a little more time to focus on those family history and photo projects. Without worrying so much about packing  we can actually work on them and hopefully be successful in finishing up the organizing before putting them into storage.

And yes we are still here! Often we will be asked "when are you leaving?". When our mission call came on April 19th it seemed like a long time out to report on November 28th. But September is soon behind us and I am grateful for the time the Lord gave us to prepare. It will take all the time He gave to complete what is necessary to be ready to go.

We are also looking forward to our trip to Utah and Wyoming next week. Steve and his siblings will have a reunion - it has been many years since they were all together! and we will have the privilege of attending the Star Valley Wyoming Temple Open house. The following week Steve will also attend the Welsh Institute class in Salt Lake City with his sister to learn more about Welsh research. Those Welsh ancestors are very elusive.

We are very grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission but I have to say that it is a lot of work to get ready to actually go.  As my friend said "We do not do this kind of stuff at our age". But we do this "kind of stuff at our age" because we  have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have a desire to serve the Lord. We have been greatly blessed throughout our lives through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we are excited to have the opportunity to help others gain blessings as they learn more about what the Lord has in store for them.

The Lord wants us to be happy, to obtain all those blessings which can bring us happiness. One of those blessings is being self-reliant. We can all be and do so much more if we learn to be self-reliant both temporally and spiritually. Truly if everyone was self-reliant we would live as a "Zion people with no poor among us". It is a worthy goal.

We are thrilled to participate in the weekly training for the Sydney and Melbourne Self-Reliance missions. I think it is a miracle that using our computer through Skype  we can sit in our kitchen and and see and speak with 9 other people in 3 or 4 different locations all the way across the world in Australia. On Mondays at our 5 PM  we join their 10 AM Tuesday training meeting. 

Each week we learn more about how the self-reliance program works and how we can be of service. And yes, it is somewhat overwhelming to consider all we need to be prepared to do but I have faith that as we are 'set apart'  before we leave that the Lord will bless us with the ability to do all those things required of us. [being 'set apart' means being given a special Priesthood blessing] I am thrilled to learn how much the Lord tries to bless His people. It is amazing how many things are done behind the scenes to help and lift. We are grateful that we can become some of those people working behind the scenes to lift and bless some of Heavenly Father's children.

In the meantime we are studying and trying to make sure our own lives are in line with the principles we will be teaching.

We wish you a great week!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Opportunities, clothing, projects, journals, Spanish, Doctrine of Education...

Today it feels like fall. With our little bit of rain yesterday it felt like the season is changing. It is interesting to me that as we enter fall, Australia is looking forward to spring. These are mysteries I do not understand.

Our training from Australia by way of Skype last week focused on My Path and Success in School Begins at Home also touching on My Continuing Mission which is the new initiative for returned missionaries. I am grateful for this opportunity of training before we even get to Sydney. There is so much to learn! My heart has been turned to the people we will serve. 

I feel a love for those young missionaries who are still serving their missions but who will be returning home after we are on the scene. I remember when our children returned from their missions. They did not have easy transitions and I am so happy to see an initiative put in place that will help these young people make the transition to the rest of their lives.

And I have been pondering the 'doctrine of education'. This is a new term for me but the concepts are very familiar.

The Doctrine of Education is:

  1. You are a child of God.
  2. He wants you to be like He is.
  3. He will help you.
  4. However, He will not do it for you!
  5. He wants you to get started. Now.

It is with regret that I realize how many opportunities I have missed in my life by not following this doctrine. When I read President Uchtdorf's statement from the May 2011, Ensign: "For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea - it's a commandment" I fully recognize that I have not stepped up as I could have.

For 15 years we lived in South Texas where the Spanish language was very common. And previously we had lived a few years in Nogales, Arizona. You would think that with so much exposure and opportunity we would have learned Spanish. But we didn't even though many of our friends spoke fluent Spanish. I took an evening class in Nogales many years ago so I had a little bit of knowledge. Steve had the opportunity to participate in language training through the US Government so also learned a little. But my stubborn pride kept me from recognizing and acting on the opportunity to become bilingual. Just think how much more serviceable we could be if we could fluently speak Spanish! 

In reviewing all of the material for the various initiatives in the Self Reliance program I am recognizing that I have passed by  many opportunities for growth and education over the years. As I consider why I passed them by I have come to know a little more about myself. My fears, my lack of confidence, my pride and sometimes just being lazy all contributed. Then I wonder how I can translate that understanding about myself to help those we will serve to avoid that same pattern so they can be lifted as is the intent of the Self Reliance initiative.

Perhaps helping people actually internalize the Doctrine of Education is the most important thing that will help. I hope that somehow we really can help make a difference to those we will serve.

The countdown says we have 71 days until we enter the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. The days fly by as we try to finish our 'to do' lists. The last Hepatitis B shot is done. Now we have only one more Hepatitis A shot which is scheduled and our immunizations will be finished. 

This week I managed to go through most of my clothes. What will I bring to wear on the mission? What will I pack to wear when we come back?  What do I still need for the mission? Some bags went to the consignment store and some are ready to be given away. And I was really lucky to actually find a skirt perfect of the mission at the consignment store - for only $7.00 which was a steal. Just a few more items to find.

One of my major family history projects is done. What a great relief. It frees up my mind to work on the next project. Steve is reviewing 7 years of his journals in preparation for writing our stories of the miracles that occurred during those years. What a journey down memory lane! What a blessing it is that for so many years he has been so diligent in keeping a journal. After he is finished the review the real writing will begin as we will each write out our memories and impressions of those experiences. We each write in our own font so our family will know which voice is speaking. The intent is to have the stories written and printed to give to our families for Christmas. 

However, I have become resigned to the fact that it is highly unlikely that all of the projects on the list will be completed. I am sure there will be boxes packed and  labelled "to be organized after we get home". But we can only do our best and then put it all in the Lord's hands.

So we look forward to the next week anticipating the opportunity to check more things off the list. Have great week!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Wow!! This Self Reliance Program is AWESOME!!! and Inspired!

This has been quite a week! 

It started out with a bang as we sat in on our first  of many weekly training sessions on Skype with Elder Johnny Leota,  the Self Reliance Manager, and the 4 Self-Reliance missionary couples from Melbourne and Sydney. We loved "meeting" our future co-horts and hearing some of what  they have been doing.

I absolutely love to learn how these many programs have been developed to help lift and improve the quality of life of the members of the church and anyone else who wants to be involved. There are so many opportunities and more being developed. The newest is the Success in School Begins at Home. This one trains parents to help their children be ready to succeed when they attend school. I understand a new program on how to manage finances is in the works. Most of the booklets comprise 12 weeks of lessons/discussions. And there is a new booklet being prepared to help returned missionaries move forward in their lives after their 1 1/2 to 2 years in the Lord's service. 

Here are some of the current booklets:
My Path to Self-Reliance
My Foundation: Principles, Skills, Habits
My Job Search
Education for Better Work
Starting and Growing My Business
Success in School Begins at Home

Mum's Preschool
English Study Group
Study Buddy Group

Many of these are available to download on Look under families and individuals, then self reliance to find the downloads.

There are so many things happening. We are now on the email list and seem to be getting 4-5 emails per day. We are learning so many things about how the self reliance initiative works. I think the idea is that we are to "hit the deck running" once we arrive in Sydney. Still hoping we are up to doing all of this and still very grateful we will be set apart and have the Lord's help when we do "hit the deck".

We managed to finish off a few of our projects. I am a list person and it makes me VERY happy when I can cross something off the list. Still packing boxes and will have another load going into storage  by the end of September. Then probably only one more load to empty the house the end of October so we can move out and clean the house.

Had some help learning a little about desktop publishing. A sister from our ward, Lydia, came yesterday and helped me unravel some mysteries of the programs I have been using and gave me courage to try out some of the options.

Still working on some family history projects and ready to start our writing and scanning projects.

It was lovely to take time out for a quick trip to Kelowna, BC to visit my sister and her husband, June and Dietz Nicolay. We had not seen them for awhile and wanted to touch base and get hugs before we leave the country for 2 years. It was just a short overnight trip but so worth the 4-5 hour drive! 

Update on the effort to become more physically fit: 
Steve's stitches are out and his hand is healing up pretty well. He has begun physical therapy for his hip which seems to help. In fact he has been pain free today :). Maybe he will soon be ready to go walking again. 
My exercise sessions are ongoing but they are HARD!! I have decided I am kind of lazy that way :( But I am more flexible - at least when I am not too sore. 

Hopefully we can get our major writing project competed this week. That would make me very happy.

Wishing you all a great week.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

fitness, projects, opposition, continuing to learn, time is quickly passing

The clock is ticking and the days pass so swiftly. We now have only 85 days left until we report to the MTC in Provo, Utah. Some days I worry that we will not have everything finished in time to leave. But we are moving forward. I actually packed  4 more boxes this week in between working on projects.

We were able to check off a few of the little projects on our list and today we will try to outline and calendar some of the remaining items.

It was so nice to take out a little time and visit with our friends Lola and Allen Jensen. Lola has been my friend since high school - well over 50 year ago.

Working  through our preparations we came to the realization that we are not in the best physical shape. It occurred to us that we should be more fit and have more stamina to be most serviceable.  Not much point in going all the way to Australia if we do not have enough energy to do what is needed. So a course correction was in order.

I felt like I needed someone to help me know what to do, like a personal trainer, and signed up for a 12 week class with Anytime Fitness. It is nice to have someone who is kind and patient help me navigate the procedures for the various exercises. I really do not know what I am doing!!! I attended 2 classes last week which was a good experience.  I plan to attend 3 classes a  week until  mid October and then 4 classes per week. I immediately felt improved range of motion in my hips. Wahoo! Hopefully by  the end of my last class in November I will feel more fit and have enough stamina to serve the Lord as needed.

Steve decided that his best bet was to walk. He has had some difficulty with his hip and will soon begin some physical therapy. Sadly as he was walking the other day his feet would not cooperate with the rest of him and he fell. After getting up and walking a few more yards he fell again. That is when he called  me to pick him up. He looked a bit bloody and sad  but he is OK. A blow to his pride, a lesson learned about "not running faster than he could walk", a few stitches in his left hand and random bruises were not the desired result of his effort to be more fit. But with more "wisdom and order" he will move forward and find the best way to improve his stamina so he can feel more fit.

I guess it is to be expected that there will be some opposition along the way of our mission preparation. We certainly have our ups and downs in this process.

Tomorrow will be the first of our Skype training sessions. We received an outline of the various topics. Tomorrow we will discuss a lot of basics to help us prepare: what to bring, living conditions, local culture and customs, etc. We will also be a part of the weekly training  by the self-reliance missionaries in Sydney and Melbourne. A new program called "Success in School begins at Home" is being rolled out. This initiative will help parents learn to be better parents. I look forward to jumping in! This whole self-reliance program is very exciting! The more I learn the more excited I get about being a part of it all.

There is a Sydney Self Reliance group on Facebook. We have also  read a newsletter from the self reliance group. It is so great to learn some of the things that are going on. The success stories of those participating in the self reliance program are inspirational.

I guess one of my responsibilities after we arrive will likely be to prepare the newsletter that is issued every other month. This means I need to put into practice the idea of continuous learning and learn some desk top publishing skills in the next 85 days. Don't know how to do that yet. I found some classes online. Hopefully I can be an effective student. 

On the Facebook page for the Sydney Self Reliance group I found the following quote by Elder David A. Bednar.

"You and I are here upon the earth to prepare for eternity, to learn how to learn, to learn things that are temporally important and eternally essential, and to assist others in learning wisdom and truth (see D&C 97:1).
Understanding who we are, where we came from, and why we are upon the earth places upon each of us a great responsibility both to learn how to learn and to learn to love learning.
Learning to love learning equips us for an ever-changing and unpredictable future. Knowing how to learn prepares us to discern and act upon opportunities that others may not readily recognize. I am confident you will pass the test of learning what to do when you do not know what to do or how to proceed. I pray your love of learning will grow ever deeper, ever richer, and ever more complete."

I love that  there are so many wonderful things that have been said by our church leaders that help us understand what we should be doing. Our future is certainly "every-changing and 

So, onward and upward. We have much to do this coming week. Wishing you all a great week!