Wednesday, December 29, 2010
First is an adorable couple of owl cupcakes made by Emma.
Next we have dinner at the mission home with President and a couple of the Elders.
Trip to Monticello during Esther's visit. Here's Eliza and Emma.
In the spirit of Halloween, Esther and Joseph stayed up late to prank the family. Visions of gruesome proportions were found in the spice cupboard and the kitchen fridge.
It's amazing what a cheap batch of googly eyes, ketchup and red food coloring can do to condiments.
More adorable cupcakes from Emma!
Sister Missionaries enjoying dinner at the mission home.
Sister Perry and the other sister missionaries.
President Perry and some missionaries.
Learning to hula apparently.
And more scrumptious cupcakes by Emma! Way to go girl!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Life is a little weird here too. We have been dealing with problems that are hard to nail down. Some of our missionaries suffer from mental health issues. It is interesting that a mission can bring those things to the surface. In a strange way I think it may be one of the blessings of serving a mission.
Away from home and separated from a lot of the habits that relieve stress – sometimes in healthy ways (i.e. playing the piano or guitar, going to a movie with friends, baking cookies, watching reruns of the Waltons on youtube, going to the gym, playing games with your family or friends, etc.) and sometimes in not so healthy ways (i.e. hours of tv, headphones, computer games, mind-numbing music, surfing the web, etc) missionaries have to dig down deep and find answers and coping mechanisms within themselves. Some missionaries find that stress and anxiety build up and become a problem to manage.
Missions are hard – and wonderful. They are the refiner’s fire and, if we have the right attitude, a party all at once. Most of our missionaries figure out how to climb up on the positive attitude wagon and their whole mission is like two years at a very intensive session of EFY; lots of camaraderie, lots of high-fives, and lots of interaction with the Spirit - with some down-days and opposition thrown in just to make it interesting. But not everyone is the same and some struggle finding their happy place on their mission. I can see that this will be one of our challenges – to help those that struggle and to keep from struggling ourselves.
Love to all of you,
Christena and Julia were here at the beginning of the month. It was such a sweet thing to have them here. The only bad part is that they had to go home – it reminded me of that part in “Mary Poppins” when she gets Uncle Albert to float down from the ceiling by depressing him with the news that it was time to go home. We were just the same – all of the fizz went out of us for a few days. But eventually we rallied and shook off the gloom – because Christmas is coming!!
We have our tree up and the house decorated. I find myself torn between taking care of missionaries and trying to maintain a somewhat normal life for Eliza and Emma. I am going to try and make 1200 German Sour Cream Twists in the next four days. Six for each missionary....they may have to settle for two or three.
Joseph is leaving for the Mission Training Center right after Christmas - he will fly into Salt Lake City on the 27th. One of our old AP's (he was just released a couple of months ago and lives in Draper), is picking him up from the airport - then Courtney is flying in that night. Joseph will have that Monday and Tuesday and then he will go into the MTC on Wed. Several of the missionaries from here, including one of our other assistants, are flying home on the 28th (Tues) and they all want to get together and take him to the MTC on Wed. Several of them will not even be released yet - they will still have on their nametags! Joseph has gotten pretty close to these Elders - he has gone on many exchanges with them because they serve in a singles ward near our house and they have to have a third person alone when they teach young women.
Our work here continues to move forward rapidly. Our testimonies grow as we see miracles, our hearts break when our missionaries have troubles. It's a very up and down world out here. James continues to go at an outrageous pace! He is so good at picking these missionaries up and dusting them off when they get discouraged -- then he sends them back out and amazingly they go right back to work -- they are so committed to the Lord.
We have two mission conferences on the 21st and the 23rd -- they will be our Christmas celebration with all the missionaries. The families in the wards in our mission have all taken part in getting little things together and making stockings for the missionaries - - all 178 or so of them. It was kind of crazy getting it all organized and we still don't know how it will work out -- we will be getting together with the senior missionaries next Monday to put them together-- yikes! We have been getting so many bags of this little gift and that little treat that they have collected -- everyone loves to take care of these Elders and Sisters. We are so grateful for that!
Small World Events: We went to the DC Temple with Joseph last Saturday and met some folks whose daughter is married to Harvey Glick’s son Brandon. Then we met a young man serving in the clothing distribution center who is the son of Leon Wilde who grew up in Second Ward in Seattle. He and I went to school together. We have since been in touch by E-mail – what a nice “coincidence”.
We hope that everyone is having a sweet Christmas this year. We always try to spend time reading about and thinking about our Savior Jesus Christ during this time. His mission and Atonement are the crowning events of all the ages. His gifts of repentance and resurrection reconcile us with our Heavenly Father and give meaning to our existence here. We love Him. We seek to serve Him. We are humbled by His love for all of Heavenly Father’s children. He is the “good news” that our missionaries offer to the world.
Love, Sara and James Perry
PS – Just a little note to tell you how crazy the snow makes everyone here – it’s supposed to snow tomorrow – so they cancelled school!!?? Already -- and it’s not even midnight! And it’s not even snowing!?? The girls are doing a dance in the kitchen.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
We are now comfortably on the mission train traveling at 130 mph on our way to warp speed. We have seen many miracles in the mission. I'm impressed how quickly missionaries mature; this is a significant miracle. You can almost measure it on a daily basis. I'm impressed with the mental, physical and spiritual growth that comes from giving meaningful service to others. For our missionaries, this includes inviting all to "come unto Christ" and be perfected in Him and providing service to others, including those individuals that find themselves on the periphery of society.
Missionary work provides opportunities to learn one of life's great lessons, earlier in the lifespan, which is, we learn to love those whom we serve. This process of serving others helps to diminish our selfish desires and yearnings and transforms us into more caring beings, concerned with and sympathetic to, the well being of our fellow travelers. If we have a mission motto it comes from Jude vs 22 (New Testament) "and of some have compassion making a difference."
We have had another transfer this past week. One of my assistants, Elder Fraga, went home. I will sorely miss him! Eleven missionaries went home and 12 came in. Our mission compliment still hovers around the 200 level. The missionaries are mostly between the ages of 19-25 but we have six senior couples and two women. This group is assigned to military bases, assisting me in the office or education. We also have a nurse who helps me as a missionary medical officer.
My two counselors are men of understanding and good judgement. One, Frank Ramsey, is an ER doctor and a former stake president. You can imagine what a blessing this is on the front lines. He also speaks Spanish which is another benefit. My other counselor, Frank Bria, has served with 7 other mission presidents. He has not struggled too much to adjust to my style, which I'm sure, is different than the others he has served. He seems to take it all in stride and has remarkable enthusiasm for the work.
Our youngest daughters, Eliza and Emma have been very helpful with the work. Emma has been baking for every mission conference and visitor and has learned the skill of cake decorating. Eliza is busy with early morning seminary, dances and school (not necessarily in that order). The schools in Virginia are very good academically (good news). However, the girls are adjusting to very large student bodies and Emma is intrigued with having a police presence (challenge) in her middle school. She found out the reason after a fight broke out in her classroom on the first day of school. Some adjustment is still required and may take more time than we thought...:)
As for the rest of our children, I'm grateful for cell phones, e-mail, and Skype. We are able to stay in touch despite the distance. We love them and are grateful they are becoming self assured and self reliant young women and men. FYI, Joseph received a call to serve a mission in Oslo Norway and will report to the missionary training center on December 28, 2010.
We have had many out of town visitors to our home since we have arrived, including, Grant and Phyllis Orr, Phil McMullin, Katrina and Ethan Blevins, Millard and Linda Hincy and Elder Jay Jensen, who toured Courtney's mission in Indiana and Richard's mission in Brazil.
We feel very blessed in this endeavor and pray daily for guidance with the responsibility given to us. We love and miss you all and are grateful for your love, prayers and words of encouragement.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Virginia Richmond Mission
We had our first transfers this week. It’s the saddest and happiest thing ever. You would not think that after one month we could love these young people so much. We sent home seven missionaries on Tuesday, who have completed their missions in a beautiful, honorable way.
They came to the mission home and we visited while they each had their final interview with president -- we ate lunch together, then had a sweet testimony meeting in the family room. It is such a happy and sad time for them – they are excited to go home and see their families, but so many of them cannot hold back the tears of sadness to be leaving their missions behind. Several of the Elders were so tender the whole morning, with tears in their eyes and hearts so full, that you could feel it. When they bore their testimonies they spoke so reverently of the Savior and so gratefully for the time they have spent learning to be His disciples. It is a time that has been transformational for them.
The next day our new missionaries came in – seven elders and four sisters. It was so much fun! We went to the airport to greet them with a pickup truck and the 12 passenger van with a trailer hooked up (the president’s assistants are both very experienced with the routine which has helped us so much!). They come out of the gate with brave smiles on their faces and their nametags on, rolling their luggage behind them. What follows is organized chaos – hugs, getting baggage, packing truck and trailer and what goes where with who, etc.
Then back to the mission home for dinner, pictures, interviews, medical evaluations and visiting. By the end of the evening we have fallen in love with each one! Later, everyone crawls into bed exhausted and nervous. Next morning is transfer meeting at the chapel. The new ones are nervous, their new trainers are nervous and all the others who come are anxious to meet and greet their new companions. What a sweet thing to watch as each new missionary is introduced to their trainer. Some of those trainers practically knocked their newbies over with a big hug. It really touched my heart to watch it.
OK, so here’s the rest of the rundown. In four weeks we have sent two missionaries home for medical help (they are both coming back), had one broken wrist and torn shoulder (bike accident), one sprained ankle and broken bike helmet (also a bike accident – thank heavens he was following the rules and wearing his helmet!!), one broken hand (basketball), one towed vehicle, one crashed car (a drunk driver hit the sister’s parked car – luckily they were inside teaching investigators), three or four bouts of the flu, several strained backs and lots of blisters, bug bites and infected ouchies. One of our new elders has had several miraculous heart surgeries – allowing him to serve. We also have several missionaries who battle with anxiety and depression at times and are fighting a good fight. We have missionaries in our mission who have had a liver transplant, a kidney transplant, a brain tumor removed and two with a brain tumor that is benign but inoperable and dormant (it’s not growing) at the moment. I know it’s hard to believe but this is not an exhaustive list of medical issues, just some of the highlights.
We have also in the last four weeks had to break the news to a missionary that one of his close friends had been killed, to another that her brother’s leukemia is back (she is taking a blood test this week to see if she is a match for a marrow transplant) and to several others -private, troubling news from home. And still they all press on.
We are so humbled by the company we are keeping.
The air is saturated in our meetings with a spirit of love, humility, reliance on the Lord and with sacrifice – especially the sacrifice. I hardly know how to act. Really it’s that marked.
In four weeks we have held two Mission Conferences, three all-day Leadership Training Meetings (during which we had six sisters staying at the house – GRAND FUN!!), had our Transfer Meeting, and president has interviewed roughly 226 missionaries individually (he also receives and reads a letter or E-mail from each of our 211 missionaries weekly).
President’s phone rings everyday, all day. We have changed lots of beds (there are 16 twin beds in this house!!!), washed and folded endless towels, made and served lots of missionary meals (but I don’t always have to do the dishes because there is a man in our ward who comes over and does the dishes for transfer dinners) and held lots of hands (our favorite part).
If we were not the king and queen of chaos, this would be overwhelming --- but since we are -- we’re having the time of our lives!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Virginia is very beautiful and is known for her trees. This is what makes Virginia so deceptive. All the highways are lined with trees giving the appearance of a small town atmosphere, knowing however, that 8 million people live behind the trees. The names of the highways are familiar historical figures who have graced the green state including, Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Pocahontas, Jefferson Davis etc.
Virginia beach is a vacation destination to many on the Eastern seaboard and home to the Atlantic fleet. You can put your feet into the ocean and see an aircraft carrier or ten, some helicopters practicing maneuvers, a few jets fly over and observe the 2 million tourists in various stages of red and tan.
No matter where you are in Virginia, you can't go two feet without finding yourself on some sacred ground where a battle was fought in the revolutionary or civil war. There are plaques and markers everywhere to enlighten your mind to the number of men and women that gave their lives for the cause of liberty; its very sobering.
The economy is doing well generally speaking. The department of defense and special ops are very prevalent, everywhere. All branches of the military are here. Phillip Morris and Anheuser Bush are big names here as well. Additionally, high tech has a presence here and many commute to Washington DC from Northern Virginia every day.
We have been to DC, Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Mechanicsville, Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Virginia beach, Newport News, and Elizabeth city, NC among the many cities and towns that grace the state. You can go from the buzz of the city to the country in the blink of an eye. It is a very charming state with plenty of good food and a very diverse group of people from the North and South. Hospitality is a staple here and strangers waive at you while passing by on foot or in a car.
Note of interest: I have made some visits to the local hospital and discovered they have a McDonald's restaurant in the lobby... Is that one one the great ironies?
The missionaries are remarkable and come from many places including Mexico and Tonga. We have an office staff of very capable women and men with very diverse talents, that help us figure out how to keep missionaries housed, healthy, safe (we have a huge compliment of automobiles) and keep cell phones up to date for communication, etc. There are more administrative responsibilities than I assumed but Sara and I are learning quickly.
I'm in awe of how many missionaries we have that have deferred a scholarship or have put their lives back home, on hold, so they can serve for two years. The fruit of their labors is that they become less selfish individuals and their capacity to love their fellow man increases dramatically as they serve in various communities. Many learn a new language and experience and view society from a very different prism from the life they left behind. Ultimately, they mature much more rapidly (in my estimation) both emotionally and spiritually.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve and be back on the front lines of compassion, hopefully, making a difference in the lives of many. We are busy and happy. We love you and miss you all!
Friday, July 16, 2010
So, really the best thing is the fireflies. I sit on the porch whenever I can to watch them as it gets dark. They start out near the ground then rise a little higher and higher as it gets dark until they are like little stars twinkling in the skies. There are only a few where we are at. Just little random sparks in the dark.
All right, so maybe the really best thing is the missionaries. It turns out that we have over 200 -- just so you know - that's lots. Most missions have between 100 and 150. We went to zone conferences two days after we landed and it was a really overwhelming experience. When you get 100 missionaries together in one place and begin to shake their hands and look into their eyes and hear their names and little wisps of their stories, you begin to be a little overcome by their collective sacrifice. Each individual and his/her family has willingly sacrificed a significant amount of money for their support and every missionary has sacrificed time - time with family, friends, school, sports, jobs -- some have given up scholarships, some athletes give up their hardcore conditioning, some give up being at weddings of siblings, births of nieces and nephews and on and on. It brings new insight to my understanding of keeping covenants.
I had a similar experience in the MTC. I arrived there feeling the weight of our own sacrifice. We had just left baby Julia (only three weeks old) and our other grandkids, and of course our own children in various situations. I was worried about the ones we were taking and worried about the ones we were leaving and weighed down with worry about the house and financial details.
Shortly after arriving at the Mission Training Center we began meeting our counterparts. As I met each sister my self-pity began to fade into a faintly embarrassed puddle as they said words like, "...Africa" "....Argentina" "....Russia" "....Mongolia" ----REALLY! Mongolia! Really.
I was talking to one sister trying to get a little sympathy about leaving our little baby Julia and what I got was empathy!! Yes, she understood -- her last little grandchild was born only a few days ago -- they were so happy he was born before they left -- but they wouldn't be able to be here for the little one that was due in a few weeks. We shed a few tears together for our grandbabies.
I began to feel some profound realization rumbling and growing in my mind - but I was still so weighed down with worries and sorrows I couldn't really look at it.
Then a few days later, we sisters were in a special session with Elder and Sister Holland. When Sister Holland spoke to us she spoke with so much emotion. She is a very sweet and gentle person that exudes profound love when she speaks. She told us that she knew how heavy our hearts were. That we were worried about our kids and about our aging parents and about our grandchildren - that we were frightened of the languages and cultures we were facing, that we felt inadequate -- and that she knew how we were feeling because she has been where we are now.
At this point we were all weeping. We had all had on our party faces for most of the week. You know how it is -- you just move forward pretending like you can do what you've been asked to do -- and because you've had some experiences in the past with forging ahead (i.e. hard callings that you thought you couldn't do) - you try to have faith that the Lord will help it all happen the right way? Well, we had all been forging ahead for several days -- with our "brave" faces on -- pretending like we could do what we've been asked to do. Now, Sister Holland pulled back the cover and hauled it all out in the open. There we were - 114 of us - not quietly sniffing and dabbing our eyes - but weeping openly, as if our heart were breaking -- because they were.
Then she read out of the New Testament - in Mark 10:29 & 30 - "And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."
This loving woman in one quiet, masterful teaching moment - gave us the courage we needed to move ahead. She reminded us that the Lord knew our situation - that He loves us - and that He was going to take care of our families while we were gone - and that blessings would come because of our service. That was a moment of clarity for me - and that profound realization that had been rumbling in my sub-conscious burst forth into my conscious mind. I looked around at all of those women and was completely overwhelmed at the presence of personal sacrifice. We were all covenant women and were-- right then at that very moment -- keeping our covenants. Then as one thought leads to another I began to realize that I have been living in the presence of that same sacrifice for my whole life without really appreciating it.
When we sit in sacrament meeting we are in the presence of covenant sacrifice. From the Bishop to the deacons, from the Sunday School teachers to the Nursery Leader, from those who cleaned the building that week to the Young Women who weeded a garden for a service project -- when we meet together we meet in the holy presence of sacrifices made - and because we make these sacrifices for each other and consequently for the Lord -- that's what makes them holy.
I look at gatherings of saints in a whole new way now. And when I see those missionaries gathered in the chapel -- it makes me weep just to feel the spirit of covenant service that rests upon them. They are amazing to behold -- in groups and as individuals. And all the more amazing because of their youth. I love them.
We will write more as we can. We love you all and miss you. Pray for us -- we need it!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Sister Perry served as a gospel doctrine teacher, former ward Young Women and Relief Society president, counselor in a stake Primary presidency, ward Primary chorister, stake music chair and Cub Scout leader. Born in Seattle, Wash., to Leroy Victor and Dorothy Jeanne Thompson Martenson. President and Sister Perry have seven children.