Monday, October 27, 2008

Music & The Spoken Word

What a great thought from the most recent broadcast of Music & The Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Delivered On: October 19th 2008
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

Civility and Respect

Can you recall a time when someone treated you with particular kindness? Maybe it was a stranger, smiling as he held a door for you, or someone who sincerely asked how you were doing, or a person who was patient with you during one of life’s rough days.
Genuine respect is not easy to find, and it surprises us when we encounter it. Today it seems civility is waning, as people push and shove, bark and shout, replacing etiquette with attitude. We are so unaccustomed to the respectful language of eras past that old movies and old letters often seem stilted and old-fashioned.
We can’t turn the clock back and live again in a time when respect was expected, but we can try to stem the tide of rudeness and disrespect, simply by being polite and respectful. Even small acts cause a ripple effect that can inspire others, because those who receive courtesy are more likely to extend it.
It may be something as simple as complimenting someone for a job well done. It may be listening to someone who is down-and-out, granting him the same dignity we would give someone of high social rank. It may be extending extra patience to the elderly, to the disabled, and to children. Whatever the act is, it works best if we try to see others as their Creator sees them: as people of value, people with immense potential, regardless of their current station in life.
An ideal place to start is in our homes, where we can strive to hold back the rudeness of the world and through our example teach our families a better way.
There is beauty in civility and respect, and that beauty is worth preserving. It takes such little effort, yet it can have far-reaching effects. Let us fill the world with these shining, never-to-be-forgotten moments.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn in Michigan

We've loved the beautiful colors we see each day as we drive to the Mission Office. All but three of these photos were taken within a few miles of our home and the office. Autumn in Michigan is awesome!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Changing of the Guard - Step 1

Well, it was inevitable. The day we would be released from our mission seemed so far off. It looms ever closer.

Last night we were notified that it is official. A couple has been called to take our place in the Mission Office when we depart in a little over 2 months. We have a definite mix of emotions. We're very excited to be home with our children and grandchildren. It will be great to see friends and family. But leaving our missionaries and Michigan experiences is not something we are ready for.

Nevertheless, ready or not, December 19th will be here before we know it. We were concerned if we would have sufficient time to train the new couple. There is so much to running a mission office. We knew it would take at least a month. We're ever so grateful that they will be here around mid November. It took us much longer than a month to learn. We're sure they will be much faster learners than we were.

And so, the beginning of the end is in sight. Who knew it would be so bittersweet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Missionary Miracles

One of the things we've become aware of the last year are the miracles around us every day, which really feel like very tender mercies of the Lord in our lives.

We are frequently enabled in our Mission Office labors in amazing ways. Having important things brought to our minds that need to be attended to; being able to figure out computer programs or lay out documents or spread sheets in ways that we have no idea how to accomplish, but are able to do; having the right person that knows the right information 'just happen to come into the office' right when needed; having strength and energy to work very long days and nights, very frequently; ...and the list could go on and on.

Recently we've experienced some health related things that are very special miracles. Quite suddenly last month I had alot of pain in my lower back. I recognized the intense pain immediately as I had experienced it once before when I had injured my back and was diagnosed with a bulging disc. I knew it could herniate if I was not very careful. When this happened the last time 4-5 years ago, it took many months of doing almost nothing physically for it to heal. This time, it has improved drastically in only about a month. I've gone to the office every day, and quite miraculously, the longer we are there, the better it feels. There is no explanation for this except for the kindness and blessings of the Lord. How could working and sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day make an injured back better? When I am at home, I've discovered that an old chair that we brought with us to use at a desk is the exactly perfect fit for relieving stress and pressure on my spine. I roll it from room to room and am comfortable whenever sitting in it. Who knew when we got this chair at a garage sale, when we tossed it in the moving trailer, when we had already used it for 1 1/2 years here in MI, that it would be such a blessing to an aching back now. Well, we know who...

And, Ron has recently experienced his own miracle. In fact, our miracles happened on the same day. The day I went to the Mission Office even though I could not get out of bed alone, or dress alone, or hardly walk - Ron received word that the recent testing of his heart showed that it was back in rhythm. He has had arrythmia for at least 5 years, had numerous procedures and medications to try to get things back the way they were supposed to be, without success, and has had declining health ever since. Now, out of the blue, his heart is back in proper rhythm. If that is not a miracle, we don't know what is.

This week Ron got a cold. One of those miserable ones that put you to bed and make you wish you could just sleep for a week. These colds usually put Ron down for a week or two. He's had a few crummy days, but the fourth day into this, he is feeling better, not worse. He has just gone to the office and done the best he could each day, and is amazed at how this is turning out. Another miracle.

We know there are times in life that these things are not so apparent. Times when things are just tough. We've had some of those times. But even in those times, there are special miracles and evidences of our Heavenly Fathers love and care. We hope to be more watchful and aware of them in the future. Today, we are extremely grateful for the special miracles He continues to bless us with.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

General Conference - Michigan style

Today was our fourth General Conference in Michigan. We loved it!

It's a bit different than back home. For one thing, we're two hours later, so the first session begins at noon rather than 10 am. That makes for a leisurely morning, of sorts. We were able to complete many of our typical preparation day labors: study, laundry, cleaning, baking, etc.
Another difference is that we travel to our little branch building to view the sessions.

The heating and air conditioning is all the same in our building - cold. So, we bundle up in blankets to stay comfortable. This heating/air conditioning problem is one of the few great frustrations for Elder Brunner. Having worked in the industry and designed heating and air conditioning systems and overseen installation of such in churches for 40 years, he has to bite his tongue every week when he can not solve the very poor heating and air conditioning the saints here have to put up with. But that is another story for another time. Back to conference...

Because it is some distance to get to the church, those of us who do not have satellite transmission at our home share a meal in between the sessions. Today we made a potato casserole (because we were given potatoes from someones garden) and a breakfast cake. Tomorrow we are bringing a squash casserole (because we acquired squash from someone elses garden) and a chicken pasta salad. So, we finish the first session, enjoy a lovely meal, view the wonderful specials in between sessions (which today were on the life of President Monson the first hour, and the Savior the second hour), then we see the second session.

After this we went to visit one of our less active families, had a great visit, and then back for the Priesthood session. The branch provides pizza before that session begins. Which we were too late for Elder B to enjoy any of, darn.

I headed to the little nearby strip mall and filled up the car with gas, got a couple things at the dollar store (which there are a zillion of in Michigan), a few groceries, and then home. I started working on our food for tomorrow, and then Elder B got home and told me about the wonderful Priesthood session, and now we are preparing for bed as the hour is approaching 11pm. And that is our conference Saturday.

The talks were just what we needed to hear, the spirit was strong, the feelings and insights many and powerful. It is always a delight to participate in General Conference. That is no different in Michigan, just a different setting, but the same amazing spiritual feast. We look forward to another wonderul day tomorrow!