Friday, April 26, 2013

Gringo Alert and RUN, HIDE, FIGHT!

Hola to all . . .

We have had a good time being the "investigators" for the missionaries here at the MTC to practice their teaching in Spanish.  I am so amazed at how well they do just being here a few days when they teach for the first time.  Of course very limited language skills but they try so hard and are so much better than I am that I marvel at their young brains!  They taught us every Monday for 4 weeks.  I have included a picture of Sisters Howell and Stirland - our first set - they left for Puerto Rico Tuesday.  They were thrilled with the box of brownies I had just given them . . . "yeah chocolate" they said!

MTC girls that went to Puerto Rico

The school next door to us has a guard shack where two maintenance men live - we assume they guard and maintain the school.  It is in plain view of our window so I often watch them cooking over a small fire and other tasks.  The other day one of them was squatted on the dirt washing several pans he had around him.  He was scrubbing them for a long time with dirt he kept picking up and then splashed water from a pan on them to rinse them off.  There were only about 6 pans/lids all together but he stayed in that position for more than 20 minutes working on those pans and then dumped what little water there was and smoothed out the dirt and left it to dry and he was finished!  Think of the water and dish soap I have wasted . . .

There was a two and a half hour meeting last week that we thought two leaders were in trouble with the way they spent welfare funds.  It was a pleasant surprise when they had explanations as to what was really happening and things didn't look so bad.  That hasn't occurred often and we were happy for the clarifications!   The work goes on and is pretty much the same.  We have many "sets" of papers scattered in our apartment that Chuck is working on.  Wednesday night we didn't get home until 11:30.  We really don't like to be even be out after dark in some parts of the city but it is sometimes unavoidable in order to meet with these men.
I received notice of a 50th high school class reunion being planned for 2014 . . . there must be some mistake - how can that possibly be intended for me???  That time machine has gone into overdrive it seems.

It is a sign of the times we live in when at the end of Tuesday's Devotional we saw a video made by USA Homeland Security on what to do if a gunman or "otherwise" shows up at your workplace.   It was interesting . . . first RUN, second HIDE and third FIGHT were the options.  We received a pamphlet put out by the church.  I guess it is a needed precaution.

We are having trouble with our credit card here from the office - one expense in particular we couldn't find a receipt or remember what it was.  Turns out we remember the guy at the gas station once told us we would have to come back for the receipt - not too crazy for the DR as receipts are not a routine thing.  Now we know he took our number and went out to dinner the next day - was suspicious also as we don't usually go out on Sunday.  Gringo alert! 
The church is participating in a huge book fair here in the city.  Each sponsor builds their own little house in this park area to put on their display.  The theme for the church this year is "Family Values" - we visited this morning and were very impressed with what they have done.  We didn't get to look around too much but they are certainly having large crowds. 

 The "Family Values" display

All is well with us . . . KEEP THE FAITH and enjoy your loved ones!  Love to all Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa XOXOXOXOXO

Local vendor that we pass every day.

Creative cardboard hat for shade at the book fair!

Brownies Are Safer

 Hola family and friends . . .

Letter writing seems to come so often - perhaps for you also - but, it is another two weeks!

The office was closed the Thursday and Friday before Easter so ten of us checked out a van and went to visit the church's family camp here about an hour and a half away near Bonao.  Chuck was the designated driver and none of us had ever been there - only got lost about 3 times. It was a great day to get to see this beautiful camp they are continually working on.  There is a missionary couple assigned there from Puerto Rico - they work hard! They have 67 "cabanas" for groups to stay in about 20' x 20' cement slabs - some with half walls and roll up canvas the rest of the way to the palm frawn ceiling/roofs. 

There are common toilet/shower areas and 4 open kitchens for cooking - with tables for serving/eating.  They are just finishing up a huge covered cement gathering area with a big stage - full basketball court - large fully equipped kitchen with walk in frig and freezer - this gives them a wonderful gathering place out of the rain even though it has no walls.  There is scouting here in the DR and they are planning the first ever gathering of over 600 scouts there at the camp this summer.  Glad we don't have that assignment - although Chuck would probably love it!  They are also planning "Especially for Youth" and of course many sessions of stake Girls Camp.
Bonao Camp cabanas

Bonao Camp huge shelter

The Monday afternoon after Easter we were asked to speak at the office devotional here the next day - Tuesday morning.  This is a weekly thing broadcast to the church offices throughout the Caribbean and very scheduled - we can only assume (did not ask) that someone fell through and they were desperate!   We decided to just give some thoughts on the importance of monitoring the finances of the church and to do it in a uniform way throughout the world.  Everyone in full time church employment deals with that in one way or another in their various assignments.  We think it was well received and we were actually glad we didn't have to stress for weeks about that assignment.

We certainly enjoyed sitting in our little "den" and watching General Conference on the computer - love that time to just enjoy hearing the counsel about living the gospel.  We wanted to go to the MTC again and watch but there are so many missionaries there now and the main room just wasn't big enough for us all to join them.  President Bair from the temple invited all the men for Priesthood Session at their apartment.

We have gone several times again to get financial records from offices.  There was also a long meeting here with those over us discussing the numerous cases that seem to be surfacing.  Decisions are being made about future training of leaders.  We think the Area Presidency will have a heavier hand emphasizing the importance of proper financial procedures.

Deviled egg and hand wound saga:   I had a refreshment assignment for FHE (last name N-Z) so thought I would make a bunch of deviled eggs as many complain of too much sugar - then again will they really take a deviled egg vs a brownie?  I stabbed my hand with a deep puncture wound that wouldn't stop bleeding - Chuck had to finish the eggs . . . another story.  By evening it is still bleeding - Scouter Wood Badge Trained Chuck kicks in w/first aid!  He says my hand needs to be stabilized as I keep opening the cut by using my hand.  He wrapped my hand w/two socks criss-crossed over a bandage for pressure.  The next morning it is dry but for added measure puts on a splint out of a clothespin and Scotch tape so I can't bend my little finger - below which is said wound.  I am healing nicely - thank you very much!   You know real news is scarce if I resort to telling such stories! 
My clothespin/Scotch tape splint 

All is well - we are serving and "Getting our Money's Worth!"  Different cultures are nice but home is best!  LOVE TO YOU ALL - we hear the deer are eating the tulips in Utah - spring has to be arriving soon! XOXOXOXOXOXO Mom and Dad, Chuck and Vickie, Grandma and Grandpa

A small table/fruit stand on our corner we stop at a couple of times a week - he was anxious to get back to his domino game in the background.  We bought 6 bananas, 2 mangoes and a pineapple.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Deseret New Article

Transitioning for senior missionaries:

 Do we have to go home?

  • By Darrel Hammon
For the Deseret News
Published: Monday, April 15 2013 5:10 a.m. MDT

Charles and Vickie Rucker help with wheelchairs in Argentina.

Just like young elders and sisters, senior missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also have to come home after serving. We know that, upon arriving home, young Mormon missionaries return to college, obtain a job, begin courting and eventually get married. But how do senior missionaries feel about their missions and post-missions?

Many senior missionaries decide to serve missions for the LDS Church long before the mission calls actually arrive. Many of them have planned and prepared to go, mainly because the brethren have been asking for more senior missionaries. Lynn Snow and his wife, Janet, who served as area auditors in the Caribbean Area office, said it was a matter of testimony. “(We had) a testimony of the gospel and felt that our leaders had encouraged a mission for senior couples … (so) we had set a rough time line years … before we went … and made some plans to go.”

David and Carol Harris recently returned from serving in the France Paris Mission. Both had served missions when they were younger in France and enjoyed it thoroughly. So, when they married, they planned on “one or two missions,” mainly because “where much is given much is required — how could we not serve?” Plus, one of their main reasons for going was to be an example to their children and grandchildren.

Charles and Vickie Rucker, who served their first mission in the South America South Area office, planned on serving missions because they are “under covenant” and the Lord helped them prepare financially. Plus, they said “our children and grandchildren were all very supportive although sad at all the things we would miss, (but) they felt part of our great adventure.”

Although Mormon missions can be grand adventures, they eventually come to an end. Like young missionaries, many seniors anticipate the ending of a mission. All are excited to go home to family and friends, but all of them had “mixed feelings” about going home. The Snows expressed the sentiments of many: “During the mission, I always looked forward to the end, but when the end actually came, it just did not seem real.” The term surreal came up often when talking to senior missionaries.

As a result of their missions, senior missionaries’ lives change in different ways. Most come from very busy and successful lives. Rodney and Marcia Ford have served four missions — in New Jersey; the Spain Malaga Mission, where they spent the entire time in the Canary Islands; a mission serving in the Madrid Spain Temple; and the Dominican Republic West Mission.

Marcia Ford said, “We have more zeal for missionary work; we feel more connected to our grandchildren serving missions; we have more appreciation for mission presidents after serving in an office.”

Edward and Linda Sappington served in the West Indies Mission and spent their time in Guyana. When they returned, they didn’t expect the intense feelings they felt. In fact, they “mourned the disassociation of those in Guyana.”

Linda Sappington said, “We always knew we would see our six children and 13 grandchildren again … but I now also have 35-plus Guyanese children and many wonderful members and friends we will likely never see again in this life except on Skype or Facebook! No one told me it would be harder to come home than it was to leave!”

When the Ruckers returned home from their first mission, they thought, “What if we hadn't gone?" Then they reflected on the “wealth of experiences the Lord had in store for us when we exercised that faith to leave all that was familiar of home and serve him.”

In many cases, particularly with missionaries who served outside the United States, they discovered a need to simplify their lives.

After returning from their fourth mission, the Fords said, “We realize we have too much ‘stuff.’ The desire to clean out, simplify is pretty strong. We appreciate the little things so much more.”