Sunday, August 24, 2014

August is always so busy. . . .

In August I:
LDS Family Services Advisory Board Meeting;  I serve on the board and really enjoy the interaction with the other members of the board.. Much discussion this quarter on the new policy of Family Services to no longer serve as an Adoption Agency.. We are turning that procedure over to the local agencies in each state.  We will be more involved with the counseling of un-wed birth mothers and those couples wishing to adopt. 
  • I am still meeting with the various wards in our stake and presenting the full program of LDS Family Services.. There are so many wonderful services available that most people don't know exist.
  • Our monthly family party to celebrate the birthdays of Morgan, Steve, Alli, Susannah and Me.. I really love our family get togethers.. Lots of love, laughter, stories and special time together.. I love that my kids all live close and the cousins are all such good friends..

                   Grant & I the day of his farewell. . .
  • My grandson Grant reported to his mission in Ft. Collins, Colorado and is loving it.. He is currently serving in Longmont.. he and his companion are living in the lake house of the wards Bishop.  Very plush..
  • The very special wedding of my grandson Dylan and his beautiful bride Madison.  They were married in the Gilbert, Arizona Temple on August 16th.  Then there was a luncheon for families at the PV Stake Center.. That evening the reception was held at the Princess Resort in Scottsdale.. What an amazing day.. I was able to get a picture of my entire family (except Elder Grant Harper, our missionary).. But I don't think I will get everyone in a picture in the near future..
Mr. & Mrs. Dylan Paolacci
leaving the temple.. this is a picture of true happiness

My Family
50 years ago this August, I married my best friend.  I know that Kent was there with us the entire day as we celebrated this special union.  I am so proud of my children and their families and all they have accomplished.. My family is growing by the addition of new grandchildren ( the grown up kind).  This was the second wedding in 5 months of a grandchild and I will have another one in September.. with another one on the horizon soon I am sure.. I love looking at this picture . . . it makes me so happy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Scottsdale North Stake LDS Family Services Agent Representative

This is the presentation I have been presenting in the wards in our stake:
I am serving as the Agency Representative for the Phoenix office of LDS Family Services for our Stake,  I am here today to share with you all of the wonderful services that are available through LDS Family Services. 

It is my prayer that the spirit is with me as I speak with you - and with you, as you listen,  so that we will both be edified and learn.

 In April 2010, President Uchdorf talked to us about the wonder of fairy tales. There are two famous lines in most fairy tales.  "Once upon a time and they lived happily ever after"..  Sandwiched between those two lines is great adversity.  Cinderella, after the death of her father, had to endure much hardship from her wicked step mother and evil step sisters.  Belle in the "Beauty and the Beast", became a captive to an ugly frightful-looking beast in order to save her home, family and father. . . . . .
None of us are immune to challenges in our lives, and if we don't know what's available, or where we can get help, then we may not like the consequences of our choices.  Some of us may need one of the programs offered by LDS-FS before we can reach our own. . . "Happily Ever After"

A couple saved for a long time so they could come to America from Liverpool, England.  The appointed day arrived for the ship to depart and they realized they had enough to pay for the passage to America, but there was little left.  How would they live for the two weeks at sea?  They decided to buy a case of saltine crackers; they could at least eat those on their journey.  Each day they would smell the delicious meals being prepared, but would go to their stateroom and eat their crackers.  The last night before coming into New York harbor, they talked and decided that even though they had very little money left, they would buy one meal.  When they went to the purser to find out  the cost, he informed them that all their meals were included in the price of their tickets. Can you imagine how they felt? 

 By not finding out all the information before they boarded, they made some unwise choices. And the consequence was a miserable two weeks at sea!

 Each of us have to go through our own dark valley of temptations, trials, sorrows or consequences of poor choices.

So let's take a look at what help is available:

* First: LDS Family Services is under the direction of the First Presidency of the church, and they want each of us to know that - HELP IS AVAILABLE!

This treatment is for men, ages 18 and older, who struggle with sexual and pornography addictions.  It is a workshop facilitated by professional counselors trained in these specific addictions.

The First Presidency is working on guidelines for youth Pornography Workshops.  When this program is available the information will be released to the Stakes.

These workshops are set up for women who have suffered from co-dependency, abuse, trauma or have issues with spouses or children who are struggling with addictions.

 Isaiah 54:4  "Surely he has borne our grief's and carried our sorrows".

 Elder Bednar, in April Conference 2005 said, " The tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us".

These workshops that I have talked about are - 8 weeks, 2 hours each.. thru LDS Family Services

President Harold B. Lee said, "Members may need counseling more than clothing and members who go to Family Services should feel NO MORE hesitancy in asking for help of this kind, than they should in requesting any help through the priesthood. 


         * Before they leave on their missions

         * During their missions

         * After an early release - 3 months free counseling

 * After a full term mission.. if the missionary is struggling, they may receive counseling     from Family Services with a recommendation from their Bishop.


ANY LDS woman, facing an unplanned pregnancy is eligible to receive free counseling, to educate and empower the birth parents to make their own choices ( not connected to adoption)  The birth parents "free agency" is most important.. Family Services and the Priesthood leaders want them to have the best skills for their choice." Family Services are no longer "adoption driven",

The birth mother, father and parents of both young people are encouraged to be involved...... Everyone needs to know all the choices and options that are available

LDS Family Services announced on June 17, 2014 that it will no longer operate as a full adoption agency, instead shifting all of its adoption related resources to counseling for birth parents and prospective adoptive parents:
The adoption program of LDS Family Services is changing.  Their goal is to provide more opportunities for LDS families to adopt.  Their goal also is to provide a broader array of services, more services to single parents & unwed-parents, that are in the church primarily". 
For decades, Family Services has been operating one of the worlds largest, private, non-profit adoption agencies.

Family Services will now partner with local community resources, including adoption agencies, that will do licensed regulatory work like home studies.
Changes in adoption trends prompted the change. The largest pressure in domestic adoption has been the reduction in children available for adoption.

Recent statistics also show that 41% of births in the US are to single birth mothers and  just 1 percent of these births result in adoption. That's down from 9 percent in 1973.
LDS Family Services hopes to provide more counseling and information to birth parents who choose to raise their child about the options and help them connect with outside resources.

The counseling provided by LDS  Family Services will be free.
Family Services supports, educates and is an advocate for a positive view of all families undergoing this process.

Adoptions today have openness:
Openness for both sides; birth parents, grandparents and the adoptive families. They are not the closed door, "never know or be involved again policy" of years past. 

One birth parent said, " counseling helped us deal with the many emotions we felt - with no pressure -  and the help we needed to know how to proceed."

This is a very hard decision, no matter which way they decide to go and a heavy burden to carry alone. 

 Family Services  & our Stake Presidencies goal -  is to keep these birth parents active in the gospel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 These are two courses that have been developed to help couples enrich their marriage relationship & Parents to enhance their parenting skills.

The purpose of the strengthening marriage course is to foster a harmonious and loving relationship between husband and wife. 

The Strengthening Families course is designed to help us understand the principles of effective parenting. 

This  program was developed by a professor at the University of Washington in conjunction with  gospel principles under the guidance of the First Presidency.

Our Stake Presidency is calling a set of leaders for each church building in the stake These couples will be the instructors for these classes. Once they are called and trained by Family Services, the information on class schedules will be made available to every ward.  The First Presidency encourages everyone to participate in these classes.. 


An addiction is any compulsive behavior or something you are so dependent upon that you can no longer see how to withdraw from it;
This can include,
  • tobacco
  • alcohol
  • coffee
  • tea
  • credit cards
  • gambling
  • co-dependency
  • drugs (street or prescription)
  • shopping
  • eating disorders
  • pornography
  • video and internet games
These support groups are for men, women and family or supportive friends.

 All addictions diminish the ability to feel the spirit. . . .
In each of these support groups a confidentiality contract or agreement is made.  That means that whoever attends, agrees not to tell who is in the group or what is said.

 Boyd K. Packer said, "no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense is exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness".

 In Matthew 11:28 the Savior said, "come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Can we imagine anyone who is more heavy laden than one who is under the influence of some compulsive behavior?
There are many support groups in the valley and they meet as early as 6:30 a.m. or as late as 8:00 p.m.  There is no cost for support groups and all are welcome.  They are led my members of the church who have been trained by LDS Family Services.  You can find out locations and times on the internet at

 Isaiah 1:18 tells us "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,

Brother Stephen Robinson explains this scripture in his book "Believing Christ".  He says, "It doesn't matter what you did. Whatever it was, no matter how horrible or vile is not the issue.  The issue is that Christ can erase it. That's what the atonement is all about.. . . Jesus Christ died for our sins, but also for our mistakes..

Brothers and Sisters, we need to believe that "Christ can do what he says he can do.  And of course we need to do our part. 

First - We need to choose to BEGIN; (sometimes the hardest step).
1st Choose to acknowledge our errors and decide to repent, NOW..

President Monson has pleaded, "We love you, we need you, we miss you. Please come back".

Brother Robinson said, "We all fail, we may fail by differing degrees, but we all fail.  That's why we all need help.  Why we all need our Savior and why needing help and needing a Savior are no disgrace". 
2nd Choose the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it's teachings
3rd Choose to study the scriptures and follow the words of the prophet
4th Choose to forgive, ourselves and others. . . welcome back those returning with open arms and love. 

If you fell and broke your hip or arm you wouldn't try to repair it yourself, and sometimes, to help us come back, it takes professionals.  Let us take advantage of all that's offered at LDS Family Services..

None of us, are immune to challenges in our lives, and if we don't know what's available, or where we can get help, then we may not like the consequences of our choices. 

 Let's not let Satan convince any of us, that we are beyond that help.

 I'll close with a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, "As member shepherds of our Father in Heaven's flock, we should not judge why some have strayed, but rather should try to unceasingly to bring them back again unto the fold, knowing Jesus can heal them, when none other can.  we must offer opening arms and a loving invitation to those in our families who may have strayed from the path of truth". 

 Because of Jesus Christ
Peace can replace guilt
Healthy relations can be restored
Addictions can be overcome

 Love truly is the key. . . . may we all choose to love is my humble prayer. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Callings I have. . . . .

     Starting the year of 2014 with much joy and anticipation of the many wonderful things I am involved in.  My word of the year is "SERVICE". . . I am still working at the Phoenix Children's Museum and work at the Mesa Temple every Friday morning in the baptistery.  I love both of these, and really look forward to being there each week.. Those I serve with are so much fun and really great people. 
     Two weeks ago at church, President Steve Avey of the Scottsdale North Stake asked me before the meeting started if he could talk to me afterward.. I teasingly said "no".. He said "please".. I knew it was for a new calling and I asked him if he realized that I had "3" calling at the present time.. teaching the Sunbeams in Primary, which I loved and serving on the Relief Society enrichment  board and then working at the Temple.. He assured me he knew of these callings and that we would take care of that. I was very nervous during sacrament meeting and tried to think why Pres. Avey would want to talk to me.. it is usually for a new calling.. After the meeting we met in a small room and he asked me to serve as the Stake Un-wed mother counselor for the Scottsdale North Stake.  I asked what this calling entailed and he told me he honestly didn't know, but would call Family Services and set up training for me.. I agreed that I would love to be of service to these young birth mothers and was set apart for this new calling.  He said he would talk to the Bishop and let him know that I needed to be released from my other 2 callings in the ward.  I ran into our stake president, President Cannon after church and told him that I had accepted this new calling.. He was happy and said that when the need to fill this position came up, he immediately knew that he wanted to have me.. What an honor. 

     I talked to several people and shared with them my new assignment and they all asked what I would be doing... I am not sure, but will be trained and let them know. 

     I had my first meeting with Arizona Family Services today. It went really well and I believe I will love this new assignment as working with young birth mothers, helping them to receive the counsel and help that need to make correct decisions in each case.  Hannah my supervisor is very up-beat and enthusiastic and I know I will enjoy working with her.  I was given several manuals and CD's to read and watch to help familiarize myself with the workings of Family Services and all they have to offer.   
      I was also asked to be the new Phoenix Area Volunteer Coordinator. The Phoenix area goes from Prescott to Yuma. I will be in charge of setting up and organizing the monthly meetings and act as a liaison between the volunteers and interns and the agency. I will also be involved in the quarterly Advisory Council meetings and relaying the information learned to my Stake and the Phoenix area volunteers and interns. I will work with the 11 wards in our stake to make sure that they are receiving all the help they need with Family Services. So many services are offered to those in our church and those not LDS also. I am looking forward to learning all the in's and out's of this new calling and being of help in the areas needed

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Six months home and loving it. . . . .

Six months home and it has flown by. . . . .
I have been keeping so busy with many wonderful things in my daily life..
  • I started working at the Phoenix Children's Museum, and love it. I work in the exhibit department and love the folks I get to work with and love the projects I have been given to complete. My major assignment is to prepare the hundreds of children's books that the museum owns to go out into the various areas of the museum.  The museum buys over $10,000.00 in books each year for the enjoyment of the children that come visit the museum.. I bind the back of the books, reinforce the corners and round the corners of the inside of the book. Then I put library tape in-between every page of the book to make it strong.. they need to withstand the abuse of hundreds of little ones using the books, not only for reading, but also for surf boards and frizbee's but all sorts of activities that children can think of.  I also helped create paper flowers that were used for centerpieces at a luncheon put on at the Phoenix Country Club for investors of the museum..
  • I am teaching the Sunbeams at church each Sunday, they are 3 and 4 years old and so sweet.. They are a very busy group.. Until last week we had 12 in our class, which was overwhelming and they divided the class and now I have 8, which is much easier..I really love this age.. they are so loving and so much fun.. I have one little girl, Lily who always wants to sit on my yap..I usually have at least 2 kids on my lap during the opening exercises each Sunday.
  • I attend  3 C's group each Weds. It is Cards, Chocolate and Conversation.  There are 10 of us that meet and share ideas on cards and other fun crafts. They are a great group of gals and I really do enjoy sharing my Wednesday mornings with them. 
  • My grandchildren have been keeping me busy attending baseball games, football games, concerts, plays and musicals that they are involved in.  The productions of Peter Pan, Music Man and Beauty & the Beast.. which my grandchildren performed in..
  • Going to lunch with friends, movies and shopping are always on my to do list..
  • Family parties and activities are so special to me.. I am so blessed to live close to my family and be a part of their lives.  
  •  I got to go to St. George, Utah with Steve, Ali and Kelly to watch the St. George Marathon. This was the 15th year that Steve ran in this race. He along with Kelly and 5 other friends from Phoenix were running.. We left on Thursday and drove up.. We got to stay in my friend Kathy Brown's home. She was my first companion on my mission.  She was on a trip to Jerusalem.. It was so nice to have a home to spend time in rather than a hotel.  We had a fun filled weekend with many traditions that the guys have established over the years.. They all ran a great race and all of us gals were a great cheering section.  So fun to spend time with family.
  • I start working in the Mesa Arizona Temple on Dec. 6th.. I have been assigned to work in the baptistery.. I am so very excited, because I have such wonderful memories of working in the baptistery in the DC temple as well as the Mesa temple in the past.. It is one of my favorite assignments.  I meet so many wonderful people and get to feel the special spirit there.. so many tender mercies as those who come are touched as they perform the proxy baptisms, for those who have passed on and didn't have the opportunity to be baptized themselves.
  • I love the holiday season, it really is my favorite time of year... the love we feel for each other and the true spirit of the season in each of our lives is so very special to me.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's all about Family and Friends

     The month of June was a busy one indeed.. Lots of time with my wonderful family and some very special friends. 
     The month started with a fun luncheon with my friend Billie. I have known her for many years and have known her husband since both of our kids were young.. they were married a few years ago and I was their wedding planner.. so Billie and I go way back. She is so much fun to spend time with we talk and laugh and share memories.
     My favorite fellow Casey, is so much fun around the house, he can beat me into the bathroom sink for a drink. Sleeps at the foot of my bed and doesn't move until he sees me move and then he is right next to my head with a "meow", wanting me to get up and feed him.. He follows me around the house and loves to sleep on the top of one of my big chairs.. so I added a blanket to it for him to keep the fur on the blanket and not the chair..

     My job at the Phoenix Children's Museum is taking care of the children's books.  I get the new books ready to be placed in the various areas of the museum  and repair the ones that have been damaged and are shop worn.. I really love my job and the people I work with are so much fun.  It is really a joy to be there two days a week..
     The group of ladies I meet with each week that are dedicated to creating cards and conversation had a wonderful summer luncheon at Kathleen's beautiful home.  We each brought a dish to add to the meal. I made Gazpacho and it was so good. Everyone had a fun day and we created some very fun projects.  We also as a group like to take field trips every couple months and in June we  had a field trip to IKEA.  I found a wonderful red rug for my living room on sale for $12.99..what a steal.. Looks great in my room.

 My good friends Bonnie and Gary Ramon came for a visit from Maryland. I became friends with them while I was on my mission. They really adopted us and made us part of their family. We were included for holidays and special days along with just hanging out together.. Bonnie's brother lives in Phoenix and was getting married, so I got to have her spend some time with me while they were here. So much fun.. taking her to all my favorite places and showing off my town to her..
Bonnie, Gary &me

  • Also attended the dance recital of my granddaughter Alli.. It was held downtown at the Orpheum Theater.. A beautiful production.. So proud of Alli.
  • I get to take my g-granddaughter Malorie to her swim lessons.

  • We celebrated 3 of my grandson's birthdays in June.. Dylan was 22, Coleton was 16 and Logan was 14.. That is always a big deal in our family. 
  • Went to see several movies last month and loved every one..From Man of Steel to Despicable Me 2 and several in-between..
  • Went to the production of "The Drowsy Chaperone", with my granddaughter Taylor.
  • Summer means baseball and my grandson Logan is participating in the juniors All Star tournament.. So we are at the ball field several nights to see him play..
  • I started taking the digital scrapbooking classes again produced by Memory Mixer and taught by my daughter Kristan. 
  • Got to go to a Arizona Diamondbacks game with Steve and Kelly.. Steve had special seats in a suite, so that was really fun.. and they won!  
  • I get to teach my adorable 3 year olds in church each Sunday and do love them so much.. I have 10 in my class and they are so cute and we have a great time each week.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summertime is here

Since my return from my mission I have been getting re-acclimated to living in my surroundings again. I love being home and spending quality time with family and friends, but must admit that I really do miss all those friends back in Maryland and DC..

Some of the things that have been keeping me busy are:

·       A visit from my sister Judy.. shopping, movies and eating out..three of our favorite things to do.. Always love to have her here.

·       Adopted a new cat. Casey is a Tabby that is 3 years old. He is such a gentle and loving pet.. He is a lot of company and is so good.

·       Attended the production of Sound of Music, that my grandaughter's Taylor and Madi were performing in. They were amazing and I got to see it 3 times..

·       Choir concerts for my grandson Zach.. He is really starting to come out of his own in music. He plays cello, guitar and sings..

·       Choir concerts for Taylor and Madi.. wonderful music and choreography.. Volunteered to help at the door for 2 nights .

·       Started working at the Phoenix Children's Museum as a volunteer in the exhibits department. My current job is binding the books that will go out in the various exhibits.. I really do love working there.  Such a great group of people. I work there 2 days a week.. so much fun..

·       Each week on Weds. I meet with the card group I belong to. There are 8 of us and we visit, share ideas, go out to lunch and create cards. One of the charities that we contribute cards to is Hospice. Last year we donated over 1,200 cards.

·       I hosted a luncheon for the empty nesters in my ward. It was very fun.. Love having friends over.

·       Going out to lunch with friends & my daughters and grandaughter

·       Drove up to Flagstaff with Kristan to deliver a car to Karleigh.. She is living up there and getting ready to start school and needed a car.

·       Visited scrapbook stores with Kristan, she is a sales rep and calls on the stores in the valley and I tag along and work while she is having her meetings with the owners. 

·       Baseball games are a very important part of our spring and summer here in Arizona and I have loved attending games since my boys played ball when they were young.  Now I attend the games of my grandson Logan.. Great player, and he loves baseball.

·       Dinner at my kids homes, love spending time with my kids and grandkids and being invited over to their homes for an evening of fun.

·       Family parties.. love these so much..when we all get together each month to celebrate the birthday's for that month.. All "22" of us have so much fun together.

·       Movies, lots of movies.. going with family or friends or even by myself.. Just love to go to the movies.

·       Teaching the "3" year olds at church.. I have 11 of the cutest kids in my class and we have a wonderful time each Sunday.

·       Attended the high school graduation of my grandaughter Taylor. It was held at the Peoria Sports Complex. There were over 750 graduates in her class and it was a wonderful evening.

 These are just a few of the things I have been keeping busy with since I came home.. It seems that every day on my calendar is filled and that is the way I love it.  The weeks have flown by and summer is upon us here in the southwest..HOT...HOT. Today it is going to be 109 degrees.. I am meeting my friend Billie for lunch.. love spending time with her.. We have been friends since the early 90's..

On Wednesday our card group is having a luncheon and I am taking Gazpacho as my dish.  We are each sharing an old idea that we have updated.. I have struggled coming up with an idea and finally just yesterday I completed my project , nothing special..still waiting for my mojo in crafting to come back.. I feel non-creative these days and really want to get back to creating  projects.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My homecoming talk. . . March 24

President Spencer W. Kimball said " God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other".

I am so very thankful for the calling I was given to serve as a Women's Auxiliary Specialist in the Washington DC North Mission. Whenever I talked to people about my mission , everyone was so excited about this new calling and wishing their wards all had sisters who were serving a mission like ours in their ward. I have loved my mission and the hundreds of wonderful sisters that I have gotten to know and serve and help. It was such an honor to be a part of this pilot program and be one of the 10 sisters who were called to launch this new program for the missionary dept of the church.

I started out my mission in the southern third of Maryland, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac river.  Since this was a brand new calling and had no guidelines yet we met with the leaders of the Stake and the Bishopric and RS President of the 2 wards we would be serving in and shared with them what we thought we wanted to accomplish during our mission and they also shared ideas with we  reviewed the ward directories for both wards, they each highlighted those sisters that they felt could use a little TLC or special attention for one reason or another. 

Our main purpose was to help re-activate, help with retention and help Rescue those who have gone astray.

President Thomas S. Monson
 “I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try and try again, and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel.”

 Shirley was a sister that we would see at church off and on and when we asked the RS president about her, we found out,  she is a very special sister who is suffering from severe pulmonary hypertension and was often very sick and not able to come to church. We called her or dropped by her home every week , most often she was not feeling well enough for visitors, but we kept coming and calling every week for several months. Then in March when we called she said she would love for us to visit. We had a wonderful visit and learned that she was taking the temple prep classes. . . and but she told us that she wasn't sure she was worthy to go to the temple.. ( we had talked to the Bishop  about her before our visit and he said she was so ready). We encouraged her during our visit and told her that when she went through the temple we wanted to be there.  We were transferred to another ward soon after that, but we got a text about a month later inviting us to join her at the temple.. What a blessing and a joy it was to see her in the temple and to be able to be a part of such a special day in her life.  She will always have a special place in my heart.  She was soon called to be the RS secretary and she is so happy. 

Sue is a sister who cannot walk and lives in an assisted living apartment. When we first called her to see if we could come visit her she was so excited. My companion was ill that day, so I went to visit Sue alone. When I arrived at her apartment.. she greeted me at the door in her motorized wheelchair..and promptly told me she had prepared lunch for us.  She had pizza all ready.. We talked for over an hour about her past and her family. She had joined the church many years before and was the only member in her family. She has one daughter and said that her daughter doesn't call her or send her pictures of her two grandchildren, but she knew they were very busy. Even so she hadn't heard from them in over a year.. I felt so sad and vowed to make her a regular visit. Each time we called she was excited to have us over.. She loved having the missionaries visit. What a joy she was and so much fun to visit with. She was a true southern lady and had so many wonderful stories. When we came around Easter, she was so happy, she had gotten pictures of her grandchildren and couldn't wait to share them with us.. What a choice daughter of God.. all alone with only those in the ward to really call her family..

We were asked by the RS president to go see Ada. She was a sister who was the primary care giver for her 50 year old son who suffered with many neurological disorders.  We arrived at her home and she sat very quite and answered our questions with one word answers never looking at us.. As we stood to leave I asked if I could give her a hug and she said "I wouldn't have traded this visit for a million $$$$".. We visited her many times and she was warm and welcoming and shared so many things with us.. What a joy.. to see such a change, in a wonderful sister.

An additional blessing was getting to work in the Washington DC temple every Wednesday as an ordinance worker. I served in the baptistery and also as the initiatory director..  I met so many wonderful people.. One family that I met in the baptistery was the Rivera family. President Rivera is a branch president of one of the Spanish branches in DC. He was there with his wife and three children and his father in law. As I talked to them I learned that his oldest son had just gotten his mission call to the Mesa Arizona Mission. I said "that's where I am from". They were originally from Peru and I shared with him that my grandson had just returned from his mission in Peru.  They were at the temple to do several family names and had waited until their youngest son turned 12 so he could be a part of this special day. I was so touched as brother Rivera baptized each of his children and would explain to them quietly who they were being baptized for.. a great grampa or an aunt.. The spirit was so strong that we all cried. It was such an honor to be a part of such a special moment for their family.  I had many special events like this when I was serving in the temple.

After 7 1/2 months of us serving in only the White Plains 1st & 2nd wards, President Matsumori our mission president and our Stake President decided that they wanted us to branch out and serve in all the wards in the Suitland Stake. So that the sisters could get  a feel for our mission and encourage other senior sisters to see the wonderful opportunities senior sisters have to serve missions.   We would serve for 2 months in each of the other 5 ward buildings. (some buildings had one ward and some had 2 wards). 

 We fell in love with the sisters we served in each ward and served them in so many various ways.

 Some of the things we did:

·    visit those sisters who couldn't get out

·    take sisters to doctors or dentist appointments or run errands with them

·    sit with a sister who was in the hospital.

·    help pack a family that was getting ready to move

·    help clean a house for a moving family

·    encourage sisters to take those steps necessary to get to the temple

·    be a support to single moms and to those whose husbands were deployed

·    grocery shop for those who couldn't get out

·    be a listening ear to a sister who was struggling with personal issues

·    we helped a sister decorate her house for Christmas

·    we took sisters to special events at the church or visitors center

·    we took sisters with us to the temple

·    we sat and read the scriptures with sisters

·    we followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost to visit a sister who we hadn't planned on visiting that day, and always she asked how we knew that she needed a visit or that she was hoping that we would come by.

We recommended any special needs to the bishop or RS president when we found them as we visited the sisters.

Someone asked me what my mission was and I told them " We are like full time visiting teachers on steroids". 

Twelve months into my mission, President Matsumori decided to switch up the  two companionships, so I was transferred from Southern Maryland up to the DC area.

In the Silver Spring Stake we were assigned to serve in 3 wards. There were some sisters that we called on each week and  several sisters we called on every month and many that we are trying to find that were on the rolls of the wards. We also called on sisters whose names we received from the RS president or bishop or ward missionaries each week. We spent most of our days visiting sisters all day, some weeks we called on 85 to 100 sisters.. Hoping to find some home and those we did find at home were always such choice visits.

We had standing appointments for visits with several sisters each week.
Two of those we met each week are:

Barbara who lives in an assisted living facility and is in a wheelchair and cannot walk or get out to church. We met with her each Thursday and read the Book of Mormon with her. We covered 2 chapters each week.  Barbara would read it during the week and then we read it together and would discuss it when we got there. She always had wonderful thoughts about the scriptures she has read. She looked forward to our visits as much as we did. She is such a devoted sister. I loved her conversion story. She was setting on a bench waiting for the bus and 2 elders were talking to the lady next to her about the church and that lady was not interested, so Barbara leaned over and told the elders that she was interested and asked if they would share what they knew with her.. She is so dedicated to the gospel and such a joy to visit.  I loved to see the smile on her face as we would arrive.. She told me, she knew my walk and could hear me when I walked down the hall.  

One of my very favorite sisters on my mission was Tigadunka Bangura or Tigi, a 36 year old young woman from Sierra Leone, Africa. Her family moved to the US when she was 14. She graduated from BYU with a nursing degree. Tigi suffers from  diabetes , she has a heart problem and had a stroke 3 years ago, so she has limited use of her left hand & foot. Her kidneys are failing so she has dialysis 3 days a week. Her living conditions are extremely poor, so when we visited we would take her fruit and sometimes cooked rice and hard boiled eggs and protein bars, so that we knew she had a little something good to eat. She has such a strong faith in her Father in Heaven and knows that he will heal her and help her get a kidney transplant. We started taking Tigi to breakfast each Monday to make sure she had a good start to the week. I loved to visit her, she has touched my heart and helped me to have greater compassion for those who are suffering. She is truly an inspiration to me of her strong faith and has helped my testimony grow.

One of the joys of my mission has been the interaction with the 28 young sister missionaries, we got to work with at the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center. They are such strong young women in the gospel. Each one was an example to me.  We got to work at the visitors center for the Festival of Lights every day 3:00 to 10:00 from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. I loved the wonderful spirit I felt when I was there.

During the Festival I was put in charge of getting the meals out and served for the sisters and the senior couples who work at the VC. Then if there was enough left, I was able to feed the elders who helped with the parking. Each day the complete meals were provided by a ward. On one particular day a ward brought all the fixings for sloppy Joes.  I was getting it all heated and ready to serve and I counted the rolls, there were only 38 and we always served at least 40 each day, not including the elders.. I was a little concerned and so I said a quick prayer that it would all work out.  As the sisters and the seniors finished I looked at the basket with the rolls and noticed that there were 4 left, I knew that every sister had taken a roll, because I had put meat on each one. So I told Elder Hardy who was in charge of the elders and the parking that I would only have half a roll for each elder, but that we would make it work, with the other things I had to go with it. To my surprise, by the time the last 2 elders came in to eat I still had 4 rolls left.. So it truly was a blessing like the loves and fishes.

When I moved up to the DC area, I was assigned to work in the Family History Center every Weds. morning instead of working in the temple.  I have grown to love family history and since we got to attend the temple once a week I have been able to do the work for many of my ancestors that I found while serving at the FHC.  Which was a blessing and a wonderful opportunity to serve those of my ancestors who have passed on and also to support the temple.  We often took different sisters from the wards to the temple with us, which was an added joy.

M. Russell Ballard:
"The Savior's words are simple, yet their meaning is profound and deeply significant. We are to love God and to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves. Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us -- our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens.   As the Epistle of James notes; service is the very definition of pure religion.

There are so many stories of the wonderful sisters that I have had the honor to serve and be a part of their lives and I could go on for hours to share the blessings of serving a mission. Each day my heart was touched by a visit, or by an event or a tender mercy that helped my testimony to grow. As we would leave a home after a visit,  I always turned to my companion and smiled and said " isn't she wonderful".  Each sisters story was different and they all lived in different conditions and under different circumstances but the one thing that was the same no matter what home or apartment we stepped into & that was the love we felt from these wonderful sisters. They were warm and welcoming and eager to share their stories with us and let us share the gospel with them.

 President Monson has taught that in many instances Heavenly Father answers another person's prayer through us... through you and me...through our kind words and deeds, through our simple acts of service and love. 

One simple practice is in your morning prayers each day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of his precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart filled with love.
At the end of each day, may we all be able to say yes to the question. "Have I done any good in the world today?" "Have I helped anyone in need?"

As we come unto our Savior Jesus Christ, and serve each other we will be blessed, of this I testify in the name of our beloved savior Jesus Christ ..Amen