Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Missionaries

I love President and Sister Johnson. They are empty nesters, grandparents, and both have a great sense of humor.  When they come into a room the world is brighter, more hopeful.  When something wonderful happens in the mission, he says "The Lord sure loves the DC North mission."  Since they have been here the missionary work has accelerated at a brisk pace. They work incredibly hard, I don't know how they keep the pace they do. The office staff is invited to departing missionary dinners at the mission home and we went last week. It was very spiritual and tender for the missionaries going home.
President and Sister Johnson

The mission home is really something. The main floor is very big, but pretty standard, with the foyer, formal sitting room, president's office, a big family style room that you can get four oblong church tables in, kitchen, pantry, washroom, formal dining room, and an informal dining area off the kitchen. Downstairs there are two or three bathrooms, four or five bedrooms with bunk beds and beds in them.  Huge and just wall to wall beds for elders to sleep in. Then upstairs in the master bedroom and bath, a visiting authority bedroom and bath, then a large bedroom with three or four sets of bunk beds. Sister missionaries sleep upstairs. So for arrivals and departures and whatever else, the missionaries stay the night.

The medical missionaries, Elder and Sister Smith are an interesting story. Sister Smith lost her husband when they were younger. She served a mental health mission in Harlem, NY, by herself when her children were grown. Then she married Elder Smith, whom she had grown up with, a cardiologist, who had lost his wife. Elder Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and when he could not work anymore with his hands, they came out to be the medical/mental health missionaries. They are  very busy.

Elder & Sister Troutman
Our trainers, Elder and Sister Troutman, have been absolutely wonderful. I am so glad they came and cleaned everything up before we got here. It has been the biggest blessing for us. When the mission did not think they were getting another office couple, Elder and Sister Troutman answered a call from the mission to the Stakes for volunteers. They said they would do it for a year, and then we were called. The commute for them from Annapolis to here was a hour one way on a very good commute day. They had been working in the temple for the last six years. They also served a mission a few years ago in SLC in the mission headquarters.

Elder and Sister Thompson from Ogden, are the other office couple. They too are grandparents. Sister Thompson knows all of the office duties and does a many things, including travel, and referrals. Brother Thompson does the vehicles. He and Greg are very busy. They have driven us around and been our tour guides.

Elder & Sister Thompson

We see and work with the AP's a lot. Elder Jenks from Royal City, Washington, and Elder Chang from Taiwan. They work as hard as President and Sister Johnson. They are really good people and missionaries.

I will tell about Elder Alofia Tausaga, all the last name, from Samoa.  He left last week and I heard him bear his testimony twice. What follows is what he told us.  When he left Samoa, his mother took him aside and told him not to come home early no matter what. (Sister Johnson said she knew of elders who returned early to Samoa or some of those islands and got beat up for it). So, Elder Alofia Tausaga, came out and not too far into his mission he tore his acl, in his knee, but remembering what his mother said, he proceeded to finish out his mission with a torn acl. I am not sure how it came about but he finally had surgery here to fix it (to get it fixed Samoa, he would have to go to New Zealand) and he stayed with some members while recuperating, and then the last week of his mission he stayed with President and Sister Johnson. He told President Johnson that in Samoa it is a law to be in your home every evening for family time after dinner and if you are not the village elders impose a 50.00 fine. If you don't go to church, any church, on Sunday, another 50.00 fine. But, he said when he got home, there would be a huge community celebration for him. He was very humble, his testimony was wonderful.

Then there was Elder Haggard from North Dakota, who was so obedient to all the rules that some of the elders made fun of him behind his back. When Sister Johnson caught wind of it, she just laid down the law, and asked the offenders why they made fun of someone who was obedient.  After that the elders became very respectful of him gained a real appreciation for him. He went home last week. President Johnson told a story of Elder Haggard when he had taken an investigator, who was struggling, to the Why I Believe fireside at the temple visitor's center. It was pretty crowded I imagine. There was a group with Elder Haggard and his investigator, including Pres. Johnson, when all of a sudden Elder Haggard said, we need to pray, and knelt down. So, President Johnson said, right there in the middle of the visitor's center, he knelt down too and pretty soon the whole group did. President Johnson said it was pretty amazing that Elder Haggard was so in tune with the spirit and earnest in his efforts to help his investigator.

Washington D.C. Temple
The Washington DC North Mission sponsors a Why I Believe fireside every month at the Washington DC Visitors Center.  We went and were able to hear the new visitor center directors, Elder and Sister Ferrin speak. We went with Elder and Sister Thompson and got our first live view of the temple at night and it was amazing. So beautiful, I can't describe it. The visitors center has a very large auditorium. Elder and Sister Ferrin have served several missions in several capacities for the church, including mission presidents in the Philippines. Sister Ferrin told the story of 165,000 paper membership records being lost and she was asked to go and help the church find the members. It was a great story of how the local membership went and found their brothers and sisters, most inactive. The visitor center sister missionaries sang, and there was a video of all the members baptized since the last fireside. The opening prayer was in Kurdish by a new member and the closing prayer in Spanish. A young couple, the wife who was just baptized, bore their testimonies and it was wonderful. I can't wait for the next one.