The middle of the month, a very busy month. People still have their Christmas decorations up, lots of people. I love the lights, tinsel, ornaments, creches, Santas, good food, you name it, I love this time of the year. I do believe there comes a time when you have to wrap it up. Keep the good feelings, the resolutions (hope you haven’t already broken all the good intentions you had), the remembrances of your kids opening their presents and being grateful for the thoughtfulness of others in giving them something, the snow (which we continue to receive and receive), and all the good wishes you receive from others feeling the joy of the Season. It seems like more people than ever are keeping up the decorations for longer periods of time. Maybe it’s because it makes them happy.
|Myrlan Dowell who love to skip school to go fishing.|
I spoke to Aunt Peggy about her remembrances of Christmas when she and mom and her brothers, Max and Myrlan were little. She said they didn’t have trees when she was little, and she remembered that they might have gotten an orange or treat of some kind, but that was about it. No presents like we get today; no big decorations like we are used to having; no caroling in the neighborhood. They lived out in the country and it was too far to walk to other’s homes.
|Max Boyd Dowell (named after a famous||fighter|
|Peggy Anita Dowell with Buddy the Dog and Louvene's doll.|
|Louvene at about 8 years old.|
My dad’s family weren’t rich, and they worked hard for all they had. During the Depression, they worked at apple orchards throughout the area of Virginia and Tennessee. One Christmas Eve when daddy was little he had already gone to bed before his dad came home. When Granddaddy Walton got there, he had a huge stuffed bear for my dad’s Christmas. They left it on the foot of dad’s bed, and the next morning when dad work up, he saw that bear and went berserk. He was so scared that it took a while to get him to calm down. I guess that wasn’t such a great way to surprise a little boy on Christmas morning.
|Sybil, Billy, and Wallace Walton|
Enough about the past. Let’s get on with the now!
Wednesday, was a busy day with visiting Denise and taking her to her monthly group meeting. We had to leave early and take Timmy to the bus stop so he could go to school and then come back and pick up Denise. Those meetings can take forever. By the time we took her home, the morning was gone. That evening we had a MPAFUG meeting. This time it was on internet security. It was very informative, and we learned that we aren’t secure, but we were better off than most. We learn so much from this group, and even when we go home, we would subscribe to their group because they have so much to offer.
Thursdays are now really really busy days. This one saw Craig taking the car back to Sears to get the brakes worked on. They had fixed them a couple of months earlier, and something broke or whatever. Anyway, they took care of them while I prepared for the Pathway lesson that night. We are learning math this time around, and it is just basic math. However, if you are dealing with people who are 31+ years old, you are talking about some who haven’t had a math class in many years. That means you are talking to people who have missed a few renditions of the “lastest” in learning math. The terms have changed because heaven help us, we can’t call “reducing” fractions by that term anymore. Now, it has to be “simplifying” fractions. Try telling a Spanish Sister that we need to find the multiplicative inverse and see the look on her face. She can’t even pronounce it, let alone remember what it is supposed to be. Sure there are videos, which go too fast. I have trouble keeping up with them, and the videos assume that the students know what they are talking about as they toss the terms around and fly through the solving of a problem. That night’s class was on fractions, decimals, and percents, converting from one form to another, positive and negative numbers, and basic word problems. I have to do all three of the 2-page practice sheets, make sure I know what the lesson is about in case I need to help, and write the students to remind them of things that they need to be aware of for the class. We don’t teach the classes, the students do, but we have to be prepared to help if necessary. There are some really smart people in the class, and they are also very helpful. The members help each other, and it is something we love to see. We had one student who decided she would just drop out because she was 16 when she quit school and she quit because of the math (I’m sure there were other problems as well). Anyway, I convinced her to hang in there and that I would help her anyway I could. It is funny how much I’m enjoying doing math again. I don’t miss the classroom, but it is fun to sit with these brothers and sisters and teach them something I enjoy.
On Friday, we went to the Salvation Army again to finish up the organizing, counting, and storing of the toys for next year’s Christmas. We hope to get involved in helping the people shop next year. That took the whole morning, and when we left there we headed to Denise’s place. She has been lax on coming to Church lately, and she is realizing that if she doesn’t come, she is more tempted to turn to her old ways. She wants to be affiliated with the Church, and we believe she wants to be a good mom and a good Sister in the Gospel. She has had so many strikes against her, and she lives in a place where there isn’t much good happening. She has been slacking on her scripture reading and expressed the need to get started again. She has too much free time on her hands, and she needs to be involved more in the Church. We will keep working with her.
The next morning we headed to Denise’s again. She now gets to see her older boys for 4 hours on Saturday, but she can’t control them when they come. She demands that she have more time with them, but then she is so upset when they come because they don’t listen to her, and she spends so much of her time screaming at them and threatening them because they don’t listen. She loves the boys, but she never had parents who spent a lot of time with her growing up, and she has no idea how to work with them. It is our hope that as she gets to know other members of the Branch better, esp. the younger sisters, that she will learn how to be the mother she wants and needs to be for her kids.
We had hoped to go to the Farmer’s market with the Armstrong’s on that Saturday, but they couldn’t go so we asked the Senior Missionaries who worked in the Mission Office to go with us. When we got there, it was so crowded, there were no places to park. One of the brothers has a hard time walking long distances, and the only place they could park their humongous truck was to move out into the neighborhood that would have taken him far away from the door – not to mention that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to leave the truck unwatched. So they left, and we, who had the small car, ended up staying; however, they had moved the market out of the Domes and into another building altogether. We had a blast tasting everything we could. We bought some really good cheese and apple cider. We sampled everything else.
Sunday found us visiting City Branch for Sacrament and leaving right after so we could go to another Ward to hear a young missionary sing at their Sacrament. Sister Wu was assigned to the Salt Lake Temple Square Mission. When they go there, at some time they will be sent somewhere else for three months so they can see what “real” missionaries do. We were blessed to have her here. She joined the Church in China after an Aunt had come to America and joined the Church. When she returned to China, she gave her family some materials to read; however, she was the only one to read them. She was so intrigued that she was given a Book of Mormon to read and became converted because of the truths found in that book. In China, the people are not taught about there being a God. They don’t discuss it, and to her there had never been any understanding before that there could be a supreme being who was her Father in Heaven. It was very touching to hear her testimony. She got the permission of her parents and was baptized in China. They cannot teach the Gospel there, but if she asked, it was ok. In order for her to go on a mission, her family had to put up $150,000 as a bond that will be returned to them when she goes back to the country. She is hoping that she can go to BYU when she finishes her mission. It costs too much for her to go home and come back, so her mother told her to stay here until she was finished. She had started college in China but she had to quit and cannot go back now (I guess if they get the chance to go and don’t take it, they lose the opportunity to go later). One way she helped pay for her mission was that she was a singer and made money with it. As she sang in Church that day, I was very touched. She has a lovely voice, and I hope all goes well, and she can go to BYU.
That evening we went back to the Calabros in Waukesha for dinner. We enjoy being with them, and it was a pleasure talking to them about their experiences in the area. They probably won’t be here for very long because he can move wherever for his work. He was one of the first employees with Sams when the store was organized almost 27 years ago. He has worked his way up, and now works with the Pharmacies, traveling quite a bit each week. We were asked to help their son with his Eagle project on the next weekend. They will be building bat houses. Last winter many bats died because of the cold, and they were building eight houses for the bats to stay warm in when it got cold. There are lots and lots of mesquitoes in this part of the world because of the number of lakes and water resources around the state. Those bats are important in keeping the mesquito populations down.
Monday found us at the gym. Have I said how much I love going to the gym. I don’t look forward to it, but once I’m there, I really enjoy what I do. We usually stay about an hour. It is hard to go many days because after we study the scriptures in the morning which takes time, people want a piece of our day. Craig is completing the Book of Mormon, and I started it anew this year. Then together we are reading the New Testament. It is good to study together and bounce thoughts and ideas back and forth. Reading the scriptures helps us start the day right.
District meeting came around again on Tuesday. These young men and women are great examples to us.
The lessons really aren’t for us because we don’t proselyte, but we can find much to strengthen our testimonies. While God is preparing us, Satan is also preparing his soldiers. We must be ready when we are called to work for the Lord. Elder Boyd K. Packer said that “true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker this not the end, it is the means of the work.
It was a good week. We hope this finds all well with each of you. The weather continues to be mild, with intermittent snow. We have been spared the bad weather that most of the northeast has gotten. We are enjoying it, although there are days when the wind blows that we are reminded that it hasn’t gotten above 30 degrees since winter started. This is a wonderful place to have a mission.
Our scripture for the month of January is:
3. Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it until you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
We love you.
Elder and Sister Lenhard