The days since our last update were filled with hot humid days, a tornado warning on August 10th (during an amazing thunder storm) and ended with Hurricane Earl. Regarding the later, our mission boundaries include the "outer banks" of North Carolina, so we had to evacuate 4 sets of missionaries in early September. Thankfully it turned out to be only precautionary, however, it was a wake up call to become more familiar with evacuation plans.
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.