Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sister is my Name, Churchwork is my Game

Sister is my Name, Churchwork is my Game

January 25, 2015

     We live across the hall from four young sister missionaries. They are sharing one apartment with one teensy bathroom. Brings back memories on Paloma, right Girls? Six of you upstairs. Anyway, in one darling set is a quiet, shy, slender new sister from Utah. She arrived here this month. The other night we heard a gutwrenching scream and scuffling in their apartment. My elder told me to check on them. I pounded on the door. It was only Sister Jex huddled in a blanket because this same quiet, shy, slender new Sister Powell scared her. I told new Sister Powell that she reminds me so much of my granddaughter, Mattie. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree. "My name's Maddie, too!" So, see, I have made another friend in Missouri.
     Now, I make new files for all new missionaries. I make three pictures of them for our mission boards. I type several lists for the president and office with all missionaries coming and going. I love to study a missionary's before-mission photo and make up stories about their lives when I see where they are coming to us from.I feel like I know them when they get off the plane. BUT the minute they step off that plane, I forget their first name. Sister or Elder is their name and Churchwork is their game.
     There is other Church "lingo" out here. Ever notice that Mormons tend to speak in secret code? Mutual... Relief Society... year's supply....steak center - aka stake center. Girls, you know my story that your dad lived by the steak house in Flagstaff when I met him in college. Tricia and I drove by The Steak House looking for his house one day. There was only a motel and a tire store by it. Come to find out, those Flagstaff Saints called their stake center building the stakehouse. That was news to me.
    Missouri Independence Mission has codewords for jobs for Senior Missionaries. Here are some of them:

FM -  Physical Facilities Management workers do tons of landscaping, maintaining of buildings, and cut birdnests from trees. See the birdnest below. Delivered to me by the FM Workers. Man, they work hard.
WASS - Women's Auxiliary Support Sisters. Kind of sounds like a singing group. It is not. Senior Single Sisters who beat the bushes looking for less active church sisters. Bread makers. Soup Kitchen Workers. The list of their jobs goes on and on. Man, they work hard.
VC - Visitor Center Couples who serve and support all the young Sisters who serve in our mission's two Visitor Centers. I envy them somewhat because their P-Day is always on the young sisters' P-Day so they get to hang around quite a bit with the younger crowd. P-Day is another codeword meaning Preparation Day. A Get Your Wash Done, Clean Your Apartment Day. Then, take a field trip somewhere if there is time. Man, they work hard.
MLS - Member Leadership Support couples are stationed in a ward or branch to do ANYTHING asked of them. They have to be creative finding ways to get in doors of the less active or nonmembers. Man, they work hard.
AP - Assistants to the President. Typically consists of two bright, go-getter elders who are capable of running a Fortune 500 company or even the United States government. We have two that we have learned to love and laugh with. We went with them today to the All Souls Unitarian Church in downtown Kansas City and listened as they gave a presentation to the youth group on what our church believes. Now, mind you, the Unitarians are more of a Feel Good Club, as far as I could see. Anything goes. The Bible may be used at Christmas when they talk about a Jesus being born. One week's service may begin with prayer. Next week, meditation. All are welcome. Anything goes. Two weeks ago, the congregation held their first Same-Sex Union Ceremony after Kansa City declared it's legality.  Their Youth Leader told us she considers herself an Agnostic, Humanist. The one thing they all have in common is the rule to be nice and do good to all men. I do like that, Today, questions were fired at our young elders. Answers were given using The Family Proclamation, The Restoration of Jesus Christ pamphlet, and scripture. Man, they work hard.
     This is just the tip of the iceburg. I'm still wondering if it's a zone or district conference I am scheduling. Who can get on IMOS, who cannot. The list goes on and on. But, I do know this - For now, Sister is my name and churchwork is my game. Pray for me.

Sister Seaman

To be or Not to be....

     Do you know why you never leave a door half-way open?  Because someone will inevitably run into it. We must commit. Open or closed? Halfway doors can be dangerous. Do you know why you will generally spit out luke-warm water when you drink it, expecting it to be cold?  Because it doesn't taste or feel good in your mouth. In the scriptures, the Lord says if we are halfway committed like lukewarm water, he will spew us out of his mouth.
     Yesterday my senior companion and I went on a field trip.  We drove first to Richmond, MO, about a 25 minute drive WestNorthWest from Independence.  We had heard that there was a cementary there that had some memorable people buried there.  We found a small Mormon Cemetary with a large monument in the Northwest corner that was erected in 1911 by the church to commemorate the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon (see picture below).  It is erected over the grave of Oliver Cowdry, an early church member, apostle, member of the First Presidency of the Church, excommunicated member and rebaptised member.  He had some rough times.  But even when he was out of the church he never recanted his testimony of seeing the Gold Plates.  He did not go west with the Saints as his health was bad and he died sometime later.  Several yards to the south is the gravesite of David Whitmer.  Who also was an early church member, apostle, member of the First Presidency, excommunicated member and who never rejoined the church. But he too, never recanted his testimony of seeing the Gold Plates. Mary Whitmer even saw the plates.  There are several members of the Whitmer family buried there.  All early church members, all either quit or were excommunicated. As far as I know, they all stayed in Missouri and did not go west. 
     The trouble seemed to start over money, pride, persecution or succession of leadership in the church. Or maybe a little of all of the above.  It must have been a huge burden to carry when nobody believed you.
     It is easy to judge them in 2015.  It is easy to decide that they just couldn't stay the course. They must have been weak.  After doing a little study, I will reserve any judgement and let the Lord handle it.  I am not sure I would have done any better under the threat of death and persecution.  But it sure makes you think about whether "to be or not to be...." that is the question.
     Speaking of staying the course, we drove on to Gallitin and Jamesport (4 miles south of  Adam-ondi-Amen.)  Amish country. The Amish still drive horse and buggy (see pictures below.)  There are big signs on the highway to "share the road" with them.  They have stayed pretty much the way they were when the started the church many years ago.  They have not changed with the times. They have stayed the course, maybe a little too much so. They don't use electricity, or cars or trucks, no phones, no large mirrors, no buttons ( very plain clothes with pins in place of buttons.)  For some reason, they can use propane, which seems a bit odd, but they seem to be very good people even if a little odd.
     Getting back to the trip, we also think we were at least close to the Haun's Mill site.  It is not marked anymore and difficult to find.  We also stopped at an Amish store and a Junk Store, just for fun.  Sister Seaman had a good time as she bought a bird cage and other junk.
     Well, the bottom line is stay the course no matter what. Lukewarm won't work. You must decide " to be."

Elder Seaman

Elbert's Big and Tall in Gallitin- Who knew?
Three Witness' Monument

The Birdnest
Amish Carriage
Jacob Whitmer's Headstone
was the best preserved

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blessings......January 18, 2015


January 18, 2015

     Our baby daughter, Caitlin, turned 29 yesterday. Probably in honor of her older age, she was asked to talk in church today about the blessings of her mom and dad serving a mission. When she told me this bit of information, I couldn't help but think of what blessings have come our way. All week it was on my mind. But, on Wednesday of this week, if my elder would have turned that Toyota wheel a bit more to the west, I might have have told him to step on it and that we were burning daylight.  It took a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law, Ted and Lorraine, to help me stay the course.
     Lorraine has been fighting a valiant battle against cancer for several months now. It has humbled me to the core to watch them both go through the process. All she wants us to do is "pray for her". Anytime I hear her sweet voice, I hang up and cry; say a prayer and then, decide I can do what piddly things are asked of me. 
     We drove out to Far West this afternoon after church. It was so quiet and lonely there. All we could hear were birds and a dog howling down the road. Hard to believe that for a short time there were 5,000 people living there. There was no sign of a thriving community. It was named Far West because it was literally the farthest western settlement in the United States at that time. Those Saints were not the beneficiaries of any of the promised blessings made on that hallowed spot.
     As for me, I climb in the truck each morning and go to work in the mission office. Blessings of serving you may ask? I can't begin to say.  Too many. I feel a love for those early Saints who tried to make a go here under the direction of the Lord. I also feel a deeper love for my family and friends back home. Each day we pray that our family will feel the blessing of us serving. We are doing this for them. My friend, Brother Moss, is in our ward at home. He told me when we left that he was going to "still be there and even be better". He is taking his darling wife, Tracy, to the temple this coming Saturday. Those people are better missionaries than I will ever be out here in Missouri! Our ward would never know who would show up on Sunday on the Moss row. Brother Moss was baptised just a year ago.  Isn't that something? Isn't that just wonderful?
     So, I just feel so blessed to be part of this wonderful gospel plan and be a part of so many people's lives. I learn so much. Ted and Lorraine, I say, you will never know how much I have learned about strength, courage, and true love all rolled together. Moss' , you have shown and taught me how to make mighty changes. These early Saints have taught me to not give up. Ever.
    Blessings of serving? Way too many to count.

My love tonight,
Sister Seaman

Just Wondering.....

     I am reading a training manual for missionaries serving in the Historic Liberty Jail.  It is a fairly detailed description of the events that took place here and near here of the Church members and leaders and of how things happened to them.  I have often wondered why many of the prophesies that were made in this place never came to pass and why the saints just seemed to fail so miserably.
     One of the first questions I wondered about was why the local residents came to despise the saints.  And why so quickly.  From what I can gather, there were some serious problems in the leadership.  They did not do the things the prophet ask them to do.  If fact, they were outright disobedient in many things.  Even to the point of of committing criminal acts.  For their actions, they were excommunicated from the church. They then leveled false but very damaging and believable accusations at the saints and church which got the whole church eventually booted from Missouri.  Even an extermination order was signed by the Governor.  It boiled down to disobediance.
     The second question I had was why the temples that had sites dedicated for them were never completed.  After visiting Far West today I know why.  When the Lord directed that temples be built, all hell broke lose.  The enemies of the Church did all they could to keep those temples from completion.  The Lord told the church leadership that when the enemies and persecution of the church were so great that the work could not continue, that the commandments to build the temples were withdrawn.  Consequently, the Temple sites at Independence and Far West are dedicated sites but do not have temples on them.  The persecution in Far West was so bad, that the town of 5000 people left at one time for Illinois.  The buildings were almost imediately razed and the land returned to farm land, just as it is today.
     So, after my wondering, I have concluded that disobedience gets you nowhere and progression stops.  And that is collectively as a church and individually.  The Lord cannot bless us when we are disobedient.  The objective of our earthly experiences is to learn to bend our will to His.  Those experiences are not necessarily fun and we better be paying attention.
Elder Seaman
Steamboat Arabia Museum in downtown Kansas City.  With
our friends, Elder and Sister Garret from Thatcher, AZ and Bob
Hawley who owns the place.  He and sons worked for 20 years to
 bring this Museum to life. He found the ship in a corn field
 40 feet down,The freight on this ship was preserved in the mud
 for 130 years.  You can still eat the bottled food. See the original
paddle-wheel in background, 28' high. It is real interesting.

Selfie of Sister and Elder Seaman at Far West Temple Site.
The guy in front always has a big nose.

RLDS Church across the road from Far West Temple Site built
in 1907.  No other buildings here.  Kind of lonesome.
Sister Seaman's favorite shirt front and center.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Partly Cloudy......Partly Sunny

January 11, 2015

     When a person comes from Arizona and the weatherman here reports that one day it will be partly cloudy and the next day will be partly sunny, that person from Arizona may wonder which one of those days to look forward to - the partly cloudy Tuesday or the partly sunny Wednesday? That sums up the weather here. Partly cloudy and partly sunny with a stiff breeze in from the north. Brrrrrr.....
      Since I am such a sun loving, fairweather type of gal, I have to look for other activities to make me smile, or better yet,  laugh. This week, it is Elder Carlson. He and Sister Carlson are serving in our mission office. This is their fourth mission. They live here in Missouri. Sister Carlson is the sweetest lady I have ever met. She is so quiet and reserved and  takes care of phones for all the missionaries in the mission. Elder Carlson is titled the "Fleet Manager".  He has a desk in my elder's big office. That desk looks like a bomb went off day in and day out. It hasn't changed a lick since we got here. When I place important papers on his desk, I always kind of begin to shake not quite knowing where to place it so he will find the latest news about the mission.
     Elder Carlson can't hear well. It is my goal each day to make him chuckle a bit or at least smile. I go yelling in there each day with a cheery greeting or a smarty pants comment just to get a rise out of him. He looks up and studies me, processes my comments, and takes it from there. It is a good moment for me when he likes my joke. I especially love it when he laughs and joins in with my silly plans to hide my elder's soda. Oh, he thinks that is funny.
     The office was quiet one morning this week. I can hear him in on his phone.  Since he can't hear well, he speaks loudly and has those poor missionaries on speaker phone so he gets every word of their response. He proceeded to contact five sets of missionaries and yell into the phone that they did not get their mileage report in on time and, so, he was taking three days of car privleges away from them. I could hear mumbled replies of, "Ok, Elder Carlson, thanks for calling." Man, I'm glad the Lord isn't counting my miles. The thing about my friend, Elder Carlson, is he says he loves to serve missions. Then, in his next breath, he wonders how he is supposed to get everything done or why in the world those missionaries can't keep air in their tires.
     I have decided that the majority of seniors who serve missions are quite serious souls. They love to study the scriptures, work hard, and ponder the meaning of life. Sometimes, I just want to cut loose a bit and take everyone out for recess break to get some fresh air.  No one falls for it so I quietly sneak into my friend, Elder Carlson's office, around lunch on those partly cloudy/partly sunny days and tell him I am going for a walk and I will be back soon. He thinks about it a minute, smiles, and tells me it is too cold to do that so I better be quick about it. I always let him know when I get back. If I word it just right, the old guy will give me a smile and then turn around to that desk of his to get back to managing the fleet.  

Love you all,

Sister Seaman

New Arrivals....

     They report to the Mission President tomorrow morning at 11:00.  They are senior couples coming in from the MTC this past week.  One set from Utah and one from Georgia.  They don't know it yet, but they are being assigned to the outer reaches.  One couple will be in Harrisonville, MO to do MLS (member leadership support,)  The other one is being assigned to a YSA (young single adult) branch out in Shawnee, KS.  My assignment is to get them decent housing for nothing right in the center of their assigned area, nice, comfortable furniture for nothing, and do it within a weeks time frame.  President Vest did not tell me where they were going until last week.  Consequently, I have spent lots of time in Harrisonville and Shawnee since last Friday.
     Harrisonville is a small town about 40 minutes south of the Mission Office.  Shawnee is about 40 minutes Southwest of the the Mission Office.  It is about 40 minutes between the two towns. For the past three days I have driven that circle once every day.  Delivering furniture or signing leases or dropping stuff off to other missionaries along the way.  I take furniture from vacant apartments and the storage facility (irreverently called the Bat Cave)  that we have for furniture under the Stake Center here in Independence.  And if need be, we buy used furniture first and new furniture second.  The apartments become a blend of old, new and a mish-mash of colors.  The mission handbook for the housing coordinator actually says to buy used furniture.  It is a trick to buy good used stuff that doesn't smell like smoke or body parts or isn't falling apart but it does save the church thousands of dollars.
   All of the above is an introduction to the story I am about to tell you.  I have used my P-days (preparation day or day-off is Saturday) as work days since we arrived because of the demand.  Yesterday was another one of those days.  I took Sister Seaman with me.  She likes to go with me and I love her company.  It can be lonely traveling the bush country of Missouri.  Anyway, I loaded the trailor with 3 washing machines and 3 dryers and a chest of drawers.  I buy the washers and dryers at a new/used appliance store.  They re-build them there and it is a BIG place full of all kinds of used stuff that smells like smoke and cats.  We headed for DeSoto, Kansas (10 miles further than Shawnee), where a new area was opened for missionaries last week.  We dropped off a chest of drawers and a washer/dryer combo.  The missionaries weren't there, so I had to do the hauling and the install.  The dolly is my best friend.  Next stop, Harrisonville, where we dropped off a washer/dryer combo in the new apartment where the missionaries from Georgia will live starting tomorrow.  I did manage to get missionaries to help me move the washer/dryer upstairs.  We bought them lunch because they hadn't eaten.  They often skip meals because they  spend their money on something else.  Had to switch out the dresser there because Sister Seaman said it was unacceptable.  It was.  Had to buy a new one there.  Next stop was in Blue Springs MO.  Washer to a set of Elders.  I hauled the new one in the house and the old one out.  I did the hook-up while the elders watched.  I was getting frustrated by this time.  It was 4:00pm and I had missed the dead line for delivering a dryer to some Sisters in the same area.  I called them and they said that they were at an appointment and couldn't come back to let me in.  I hung up and started for home.  I didn't get far when I decided that I would call back and see if I could get a key  from them, wherever they were, so I could finish.  No answer.  Headed for home.  Phone rings, it's them.  Did they miss a call?  Yes they missed a call, and  it was too late I was already headed for home.  Maybe next time.  Maybe next time?  At that point, I would not have driven anywhere for them.  I was so frustrated.
    My dear sweet companion is telling me not to be angry, after all I was late.  And that was my Saturday.  I had to do some serious thinking about it.  As the evening went by,  my dear sweet companion thought I was mad at her.  I wasn't.  Just frustrated that I had failed which depresses me.
     Today is a new day and I have resolved a few things.  One of them is this.  The missionaries are here to preach the gospel, not spend all day waiting for an old man to deliver a washer or dryer as important as that can be.  The missionaries are very young and inexperienced.  They are expected to act like mature adults and preach the gospel.  They are really just kids.  I did not help them much.  I am asking for forgiveness and I will do better next time.  This is the Lord's work and it is a miracle every single day.  What a great life.


Elder Seaman
Lights at the Visitors Center will
 come down soon. Too dang cold to worry about now.
We've got mail!

Love notes from Show Low

Look at all this mail!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year Begins

January 4, 2015

     The Christmas tree is down. Our Pandora channels have changed. The new year has begun. I know that all our dear ones in Show Low have enjoyed a fullblown winter. What a wonderful thing!  Our Ethan turned 14 on Christmas Eve. I always think of the whole world celebrating his birth on that night. He was born on an early Sunday morning. Oh, his eyes were so alert! If he could have talked, we would have learned some really interesting things about where he just came from.  What a tale of travel it would have been! This year I am a little sorry that the youth in the stake didn't get to see him at his first stake dance due to the snow on New Year's Eve.
     I have gained such an appreciation for missionaries in the field this week. They don't stop. The work goes forward. The ones that have been in to the office have talked about skyping with their families. Many said it was "weird". That is because they are so engrossed in the Lord's work that they lose touch with the mundane things of the world back home. Yesterday, I got to ride again with my elder to the far reaches of the mission looking for apartments for missionaries. The air was oh, so cold and the sky was oh, so dreary all day. (Please notice below my state atlas and the blanket that our McKenzie made for us.I so love having both of them in that gray mission van.) I can't help but wonder about a new senior couple coming in from Georgia to open up a new town that has a few less active members.  They're inactive partly because they all have to drive to a chapel many miles away from their homes. The mission couples who are called to be  member support in struggling, way-out-of-the-way wards and branches can lead lonely lives as they beat the bushes. I so admire them.
     I always look for any historical site to pull into on our travels. Seems like we are drawn to cemetaries. There are some beautiful ones in this state. We saw Jim Bridger's monument yesterday. Talk about a lonely life. He made lots of quiet trips from here to the big wide open west. I want to meet him someday. Was the beauty and majesty of this beautiful world enough to keep him plowing ahead? I want to know what makes people like that tick. I would be depressed without my elder by my side to jabber with. What makes old people pack up their house in warm, beautiful Georgia (he reported to my elder on the phone that it is warm) and come out to a lonely little town in Missouri to find and activate members? I hope we can answer that one. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all that matters in all of our travels wherever they may take us.
     In less than five years, our Ethan will be traveling again to a new, lonely place to share what he knows about the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen.  And they will.  He will skype his family at Christmas. His mom will cry.  Then, he will hang up and he will say, "that was weird," and go back to work.

My love,

Sister Seaman

Rambling Thoughts...

     The Missouri Independence Mission baptised approximately 485 people in the 2014 year.  The goal was 500.  So close and yet so far away.  But the work is growing here and seems to be on the upswing.  I am sure the new goal will be far larger than last year. I have heard about the creation of new wards in some of the stakes the mission covers.  The odd thing about the mission right now is that the number of missionaries is shrinking.  We are sending home more than  we are getting in the next few transfers.  We are getting more sisters than elders in the transfer this week. 
     Did you know that a temple has been built and is operating in Jackson County Missouri?  Can you imagine that? Jackson County kicked us out 160 + years ago. They tarred and feathered us. They burned our newspaper offices and smashed our printing presses.  They burned our houses to the ground. They murdered our people. They imprisoned our church leaders. But today a new Kansas City Temple is operating in Jackson County Missouri.  I don't think it will be the last temple to be built in this county.  When the 63 acre temple lot was dedicated at Independence, Joseph Smith's plans were to build 24 temples on the temple lot.  There were going to serve as Libraries, School, Church Administrative Offices, chapels, etc.  It was to be the center place of Zion.  The headquarters of the Church on this continent.  It has not happened yet.  I walk and work on these sacred grounds everyday and wonder when it will happen. and how it will happen.  Many things will have to change.
     Sister Seaman mentioned that we see a lot of cemetaries.  The Washinton Cemetary is a beautiful, old, big one.  It is just a few blocks from here.  She and I drove through it and wondered at all the old gravesites and crypts. We came across a rather large, ornate one that holds the remains of four of the Nelson family.  Mr. Nelson lived in the last half of the 18th century and died in the first half of the 19th century.  Mr. Nelson, his wife and daughter and her husband are interred there.  He must have been very wealthy (His personal wealth was estimated to be over $ 6 million when he died in 1915.)  The sign in front said he started and eventually built the Kansas City Star newpaper company.  He was supposed to have had a lot to do with all the parks, streams, walkways that adorn Kansas City.  They are beautiful.  I can tell you that he didn't take anything with him even though his final resting place is beautiful and must have been very expensive even in 1915.  He would have been far better off finding God instead.  Maybe he still will.  He must have loved his wife and daughter.  Maybe he will love them enough to accept the gospel and have all saving ordinances done so they can be together forever and not just laying side-by-side in an old, beautiful, cold, empty crypt.


Elder Seaman

Our Mission Travel Tools
The Nelson Family Resting Place

Jim Bridger's Monument