Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas in the mission field

December 29, 2014

     We got a text from our Linds earlier in the week. She talked about our first Christmas away from home as being unforgettable. She was right! This has been the best, most unforgettable week of our mission! My two little pictures posted below explain it all.
     Our office has all worked together this whole month to make sure each missionary gets "Christmas".  Sister Black, our called and chosen Mail Lady from Panguitch Utah, keeps a thorough list of packages going in and out of the office. On a dime, she can tell you if Sister Villanueva or Elder Edgington or any other missionary in the field will be having Christmas. We would often get calls from some mother in Idaho or some other foreign country wanting to know where her missionary's package had ended up. All of these packages seen below were one day of the process. Multiply that by 280 missionaries in our mission .Sister Black or one of her other helpers, which could be me on any given day,  would mark and note the package on her list. We would get all old addresses and postage lines blacked out. She would NEVER let any of the rest of us mess with her making proper new address labels to be slapped on the packages. It is a fine science. Then, get out of her way because she had to race to the post office to stand in line. Her husband is the finance secretary for the mission. When she said GO, his pen stopped in midair writing all those checks and his coat was on. Besides being a man who can quote the Gettysburg Address from beginning to end, he does exactly what his wife wants him to do. We enlisted all the district leaders to make sure we knew who would not receive Christmas. It has been an eye opener to me to see families who send their son or daughter out and that is ALL they can do. We experienced the sweet project, at home in Show Low, of the McCaleb girls as they got together two sets of clothing for sister missionaries. There are truly families who give their all to send their missionary out to spread the joy of the gospel.
     As the days drew closer to Christmas, our president's office turned into Santa's workshop. We shopped, sorted, and wrapped gifts for those on our "list". When any of us had a spare moment we got to decide who gets what and then, get it all together just like a loving mother from home would do if she could. On Christmas Eve day, after all zone leaders had been contacted to meet one of us in a parking lot in their area to collect the last minute packages for EVERYONE in the mission,  we closed the office and hit the road, each car taking a section of the mission to deliver to. Unforgettable.
     The other picture shows cards from home from our loved ones. That means ALL our loved ones. There were many days in the month of December when my elder would bring the mail in and we would shed tears just looking at return addresses of Christmas cards mailed to us! We were humbled by so many kindnesses sent our way. Thank you sounds kind of hollow, but.....thank you.
    Our Christmas day started with 26 young sisters and that many Senior missionaries for breakfast and devotional at the visitor center, lunch with two elders who skyped and facetimed their families in our little apartment, and finally, dinner with the two AP's and some more senior missionaries in our apartment building. We have never been busier. We loved it. We have experienced the true joy of Christmas on both ends. Giving and receiving. ALL because of the Gift of Him. Unforgettable.


HOME....

     Christmas came and went this year in a blur.  It was great and I am so glad that we were so busy.  There are a few traditions in the field that I am grateful for.  One of them is eating Christmas Breakfast at the Visitors Center.  That was very nice.  The other is playing Santa Claus for missionaries.  I had one experience that I would like to share.
      Elders Crow and Garrett (other senior missionaries)  and I gathered up presents and we headed for the southern reaches of the mission.  When we arrived in Warrensburg, we met the Zone Leaders and some sister missionaries and delivered the packages.  This was two days before Christmas.  One of the sisters was from Tonga.  There happened to be a small package from HOME for her. The only one she got. That gal was so excited, she was hugging that package and jumping around screaming and yelling things we didn't understand, crying all the time.  I will not soon forget that remarkable feeling I had.  It was knowing that someone remembered this dear sister and probably at significant cost (the postage was probably more valuable than the contents), for Christmas.  I think to the Sister, it was a piece of HOME that was so overwelming.  They come from the islands from poor families who cannot afford to send them.  They literally come with the clothes on their backs so to speak.  They cannot speak the english language very well. The American culture is so different.  They are so homesick.  They have great faith but they get down a little at times.  Can you imagine the feelings they have when they get something from home.  HOME sweet HOME.
      I am so grateful for the gifts that came in the mail to Sister Seaman and me this year.  The arrival of each one brought those tender feelings about HOME.   Gift giving is the best (#He is the Gift), but this year, watching the receiving was right up there.  Can we all remember the lonely, the left-out, the not-so-popular, the far-away all the time.  May God grant us the wisdom to take care of all who come into our paths and let us give them a reminder of HOME even if it is with just kindness.

    
  
    

Packages at the Mission Home


We'll sing for a key.  They locked
 themselves out of their apartment.
 

Christmas kindness from Loved Ones

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Macy and Cash, this one's for you

December 21, 2014
 
     Macy and Cash, Happy Birthday to you! Macy, you are thirteen today. Your parents' first adventure with a teen-ager in their house. I always tell you this.....I will tell you again.....do they know how lucky they are to have you?  I was there when you were born. I knew you were such a gift to your mother who a few years years before had given a beautiful daughter to another family who could not do that for themselves. I drove away from that hospital after seeing your birth and sobbed in gratitude.  The Lord always makes things right when we try to do things right like your mom did. Your mom met your dad and because of that wonderful union, here you are! You were our most precious blessing to help heal us all. Our best Christmas gift that year.
     We went to another beautiful Christmas program at the Independence Visitors Center on Friday night. A group of bell ringers. And boy, could they ring those bells! All music reminds me of you because you love it so much. You could sing the whole song that Ariel sang on Little Mermaid almost before you could speak in whole sentences. After the program, I asked the sister missionaries that were around to please let me take their picture for my granddaughters. One is from Mexico, one from Virginia. One came here from Washington while others came by way of Utah. I always look at these young sisters in this mission, and there are a lot of them because of the two visitors centers close by, and wonder which one of my granddaughters may serve a mission someday. These sisters are all so happy and willing to do what is asked of them. One of them has curls like you do. She says she never liked it while she was growing up. Now that she is serving here on a mission, it is extra curly with the humidity. For us Arizona people, that is wet air. All the time. Winter and summer. It is something to see, Macy....Anyway, she has decided she loves her curls now. I have told her about you and your beautiful curls. You are so lucky! I can picture any of my beautiful granddaughters serving a mission.  Can you picture that? Our Kortney, McKenzie, Mattie (your joined-at the hip cousin), Brookie, Chloe, Livi, Sailor, Ellie, Mikael, or Avy. Maybe one of them will decide to serve.
     Cash, you are nine tomorrow. I cannot believe your mom and dad have been married long enough to have a son that old! I was there when you were born also. Where did that shock of red hair come from? You are so unique! The one and only Seaman grandchild with red hair! I credit your birth for your mom's desire to have the gospel back in her life. And your dad wanting to do the same thing. He is such a good man.  They took you to the temple to be sealed when you were a baby. A great day! Do you see the picture of your papa and Elder Dyer below. I met that young elder the first week we were here. When he walked up to me, I immediately teared up. I loved him from that minute and told him why. He can play the piano. He is a district leader. He is knowledgeable in the gospel. He is bright. He reminds me of you. I always tell him about you. Everytime I see him, I see you in another nine years or so serving the Lord. Just like all your other Seaman boy cousins....Ethan, Kyson, Noah, Ezra, Teag, Zane, Max, Jett, and Elijah. So, Happy Birhtday to our two Arizona Christmas babies. What a great time of year to be born. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Love you all,

Sister Seaman

Keeping a clean house...

     We left yesterday about 9:30am and got home at 4:30pm.  We drove 30 miles to pick up an Elder and his companion, who had driven 50 miles from their assigned area, and then we all  drove another 25 miles to an apartment where the Elder used to live. He and his old companion had lived in the apartment until his companion got sent home and he had to leave the apartment to live with another companionship.  He left the place in a terrible mess three weeks ago.  Food rotting in the table dishes unwashed, floors need attention, bathroom hadn't been cleaned in at least the time any Elders had been living there. Bad news. The landlady had called me and wondered what happened to the Elders because she hadn't seen them in about month. She had opened the door to the apartment and got mad and called me. She said it was not like our Elders to do such things, they had always been so nice to her.  So much for setting the example.  She was worried about cockroaches and other things.  I said I would take care of it.
  
  I cleaned the kitchen and dining area.  Sister Seaman wouldn't even come in while I was doing that.  She finally came in and helped with the vacuuming.  The Elders had disappeared up stairs.  They were going throught the missionary materials they had found upstairs.  I was getting insulted.  President Vest, the Mission President, had sent me to take the Elder to clean the apartment. Not me.  Not Sister Seaman.  I finally told the Elder to clean the bathroom.  He was insulted. I waited.  It took him a long time just to clean the tub.
    
     When we let them off at their car in Odessa, MO., I had my speech already.  I think it fell on deaf ears.  It then dawned on me who I was dealing with.  An 18 year-old missionary who apparently had not been taught to clean up after himself.  I am now on a mission to educate young missionaries and their mothers about the vitures of keeping it clean.  And so my girls, I have 21 potential missionaries in this family and they ought to know how to keep it clean. You can not expect to feel inspired when you live like a pig.  You will smell, look and sound like a pig to a person investigating our religion. 

     Now that that is off my mind, Sister Seaman and I were the Christmas program today in our assigned ward.  Remember, the one with all the Samoans.  There were no choirs of heavenly hosts, no special program, just a special (beautiful) piano solo and us.  We didn't realize we were really all there was until we saw the program.  It turned out alright.  The Counselor conducting the meeting said something in broken English and tears, about Sister Seaman speeking with fire.  They are so kind to us.  They treat us with very real respect.  I don't really know why.  We certainly don't deserve it, but they are very loving and good people.  Especially the Bishop. I cry listening to him give the announcements.  You have to see it to believe it.

Anyway, keep it clean and and have a very Merry Christmas.  We miss you all so much, especially this Christmas week.  We love you.

Elder Seaman


VC Sister Missionaries
Red-headed Elder Dryer


Back of Red-headed Elder Dyer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

 

At What Price?

    
    Brother Atwood, who my Elder replaced, is long gone. On our way to Walmart early Saturday morning to buy yet another houseful of items to stock a new apartment for missionaries, I spotted this sign. Now, not only did Elder Atwood like to eat at lots of places, he got great pleasure in noting and commenting on the price of gas whenever I got to ride around with them in the gray mission van. I couldn't help think that he would have been so happy to see Casey's sign. Man, that price was cheap. But we all know we can't count on the price of gas to make us happy on a daily basis.
     We had a couple come in from Thatcher, AZ this week. They are here for just six months. As we had our get-to-know you dinner for them on Monday night, we heard their story. A little over two years ago they were serving  a mission in Oregon. They were involved in a horrible accident when a logging truck lost control in a canyon and dumped the logs on them. They were both severely injured with Brother Garrett ending up in a coma for over a month. His prognosis was grim at best and had two strokes to boot. He had to learn to sit, eat, stand, talk, walk, etc. all over again. He now has disabilities that he will deal with the rest of his life. She drives for them. She takes care of business for them. She cares for him. Why are they here? Because they wanted to "finish" a mission. I am in awe of them. My thought was, haven't you already paid a price?
     We had an All-Mission conference this week. Over 280 missionaries trying to squeeze on risers for a group shot after a morning of training and lunch. Three hours of afternoon Christmas singing from each zone. Throughout the day, I kept my eye on as many of the 17 "newbies" as I could find. These are the ones that came here from the MTC the day before Thanksgiving.  Honestly, one or two still carry that "deer-in-headlight" look. I understand. Others were hard to recognize as they have blended in so well and seem so happy. Actually, the whole chapel was just "happy" that afternoon as they sang for each other. I couldn't help but think of the price they all have paid to come to Independence, MO. to preach the gospel.
     Our Independence Visitors Center is hosting Christmas programs on the weekends in December. Last night, we heard from the Bountiful Quartet. It was Christmas hymns played on violins and a cello for the Mormons by  four members of The Remnant of The Church of Jesus Christ. There was a time in the program when the audience sang carols as the foursome played them so beautifully on their instruments. One song was a Christmas hymn they sing in their church to the old tune of "If You Could Hie To Kolob".  Man, that got me whispering like a kid to my elder! That is one of my favorite hymns! And it has Christmas words, also! All he wanted was to be left alone to just sing the darn thing. But it made me think so much of our doctinally correct version.

   The works of God continue,
          And worlds and lives abound;
     Improvement and progression
                                                               Have one eternal round....  
 
    The price we pay to serve in the Missouri Independence Mission office is small when I look at the big picture. I miss my little darlings from home  at least six or seven times a day. I love young Arizona elders like long lost friends. (I have not met any young AZ sisters yet)  But, everyday, I am more thankful for this opportunity to spend time with my elder serving. I can't measure the cost by wordly standards because I just know I feel kinda like a rich girl on those days when I get to walk right smack dab where Joseph and Emma walked right here in Independence, MO.
 
Sister Seaman
 
 

Not much to say....

     Sister Seaman said it all this week and I feel a little down tonight.  My stress level is up and I'll tell you why.   I wake up way too early and worry about furniture and Elders and Sisters and leases and estate sales.  The furniture I bought at the estate sale this week all smells like cig smoke.  Yuck. I haven't taught one temple prep class yet.  We tried to clean the church yesterday but nobody showed up and we couldn't get in.  I thought maybe the Samoans were running on Polynesian Time, but no,  turns out that the elders quorum plays basketball at 5:00 on Sat. morning, but the gym was decorated for a Ward Party and they couldn't play so they cleaned the building and were all through by 7:00.  We missed it all.  They ask to speak in church next Sunday.  Dang. 
 
  But tomorrow it all starts over again.  It is a little something like the movie "Ground Hog Day."  New Senior couple arrives tonight.  Their apartment is not ready because I thought they were coming in next week.  I will be scrambling for a couple of days.  Oh well.
 
Now, let me tell you what is important and why all this stuff doesn't matter.  I know that we are here in Missouri to serve.  And serve we will.  If I don't do anything else I will know when we leave that we did all we could to make things better and we helped further the work.  I carry pass-along cards with me now because when people see us in our suits and name tags they are very  curious and it will present opportunities. (I haven't passed any out yet so...) I am trying to be bolder about what we have in our lives that is so important and sacred.  It makes all the difference to know.  And I know. If I could just get people to listen.  It will happen someday and I will report it from Missouri.
 
As a side note, I think I told you about all the "separatist" churchs here.  I have included photos of several of them.  It is so interesting and they are all within a mile radius.
 
Cheap Gas on 23rd Street
This is what a person comes home to when the Apt Bld
they live in is full of old RS Presidents.
Totally plastic. Red balls and candy cane reindeer really
add to the season.
 
 


    



Church of Jesus Christ Temple Lot



Church of Jesus Christ Restoration Branch

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Remnant Branch





RLDS now Community of Christ Stone Chapel.
It is beautiful.

Sunday, December 7, 2014



A New Month Begins

     We have been here a month. My mind still continues to wander back to Home. My two girls handled their ward Christmas party this past week. Our Ezra was baptized yesterday. Kort and Kenz were in the Feast of Carols. Our Ethan won the Regional Wrestling Tournament in his weight-class yesterday. His dad told me last night to stay out here as long as we possibly can, considering how well everyone is getting blessed back at home. He was inferring we stay here for several more years. Possibly until the Cougars win another state football championship. All I can say about this is......can they do it in the next 17 months because we will be in the truck then.
     This little blog is the best thing I can do for myself once a week as I dig deep to find my most recent highlight. Now, some of you may know that our Lindsay is praying for me that an assistant housing coordinator opens up real soon and the Lord calls me to do that. I love my Elder's calling! He is on the road hauling items here and there. He is at estate sales buying dressers for apartments. I tag along as much as I possibly can before and after office hours. I got a beauty of a brown wool coat for 10 bucks at an estate sale this past week. I am in my element in his truck or the mission van.
     As for my calling, you all may breathe a sigh of relief that I can now transfer calls to all phones in the mission office; cut/copy and paste to any document on the computer; answer in full sentences when I am asked where or what President Vest may be doing on such and such a date. I can even schedule flights for arriving and departing missionaries! I tell you all this not to toot my own horn about how clever I am. It is the Lord working miracles. To 99.9% of you, all of the above things I can now almost manage to do daily are nothing. You all can do them. I couldn't. Office work was as foreign to me as a new language.
     So, as you can see, just like my family at home, I have been so very blessed. The Lord is aware of me and my needs and weaknesses. If this is my mission, I can do it. One more thought this week.....I have the absolute best companion. He carries me. Don't even think about going on a mission with your spouse if you don't like him/her. Cornnuts in your ear in the car bug you? Stay home. Don't come if toothpaste tubes are an issue in your marriage. Wise use of electricity can be another deal breaker. In other words, this is no place to work out marriage problems. Besides the Lord, we are all we have. He is my companion, my shopping partner, my fellow tourist, my date, my dearest friend.
So, really, when my thoughts turn to home, I need to remind myself that I am Home. Where my Elder is. Carry on, my dear girls. We will be there soon. We have all been given this opportunity to grow and learn. But someone, please......tell those Cougars about the 17 month deadline.

My love to all 6 readers of our blog,

Sister Seaman


The Virtues of being Independent


Well, he and his wife leave for home this week.  I have tried to get him to trade with me but he won't even joke about it.  Elder Atwood and I have been glued at the hip for the last 4 weeks.  He has been training me to be the Housing Coordinator for the Mission.  Maybe a little about him.  He has lost 85 lbs since being here.  He must have been really big because he is still a good sized man.  He has one of those personalities that is always happy and loud about it.  He whistles or sings a lot of the time.  He jokes with everybody, but loves to joke with missionaries and they love him for it.  He also brings them "stuff" and they really love him for that (ie, new beds, vacuum cleaners, bikes, etc.)  He has taught me the art of going to estate sales and 2nd hand stores to buy "stuff."  I am not real good at it yet but I do have the idea.  Note: Buying items this way is following the handbook.  It must save thousands of dollars, but you get apartments furnished with a great variety of "stuff" that doesn't match.  Well, I digress. Elder Atwood will be missed by me and the missionaries. It has been fun times buying, traveling, delivering, and talking (mostly listening).  Good luck Elder Atwood.  I will be "independent" as of Thursday. The Van will be silent and the thought of that kinda bothers me.  Maybe I can learn a new language. There are no virtues to being "independent" today.

I had no idea that that the support system of a mission was so important.  Without the 3 or 4 couples that work in the office, the place would come to a stand still. It is great to feel needed.  We don't get much attention and no one really knows what we do, but I know the Lord appreciates all of us.

I really wish Sister Seaman could be my assistant.  I know that she has been called to run the Mission from behind the scenes, but I really enjoy having her around.  I think she would eventually take over though and start telling me where to stop (she loves to stop and look at everything.)  That would be OK I guess.  I never let her stop as we traveled through the years, I was always hell-bent on getting there as quickly and as efficiently as possible. NO stopping.  It has been a mistake.  I wish I could take it back. I want to do it just for her because it makes her happy. Making her happy is everything to me.  So I will travel the state of Missouri and sometimes she will get to come along and we will stop and it will be great and she will be happy and I will be happy.



Elder Atwood