Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sue's Message

   Up to this point our blog entries have been written by Ron, with just a little 'editing' here and there from
myself. I've been wanting to take some time and share a couple things that I've learned while serving our
mission here in Gainesville.
    First of all my testimony of the gospel has strengthened and grown so much. I have the absolute sure
knowledge that we were called here to do exactly what we were needed to be doing at this time. I've
gotten better at relying on the guidance of the Holy Ghost in all areas of my life. I've learned to really
appreciate knowing that I/we are making a significant contribution in helping spread the gospel, as well
as helping provide opportunities for brothers and sisters that are searching for information on their ancestors.
The information we are making accessible is vital in order to do the saving ordinances  necessary for their
eternal exaltation. It's a great feeling to be spending hours every day engaged in such an important aspect
of the Lord's gospel.
     We certainly have been blessed to be working here in the Jacksonville Florida Mission, most specifically
in Gainesville. This area is beautiful, the weather marvelous (well-most of the time!!!-a little miserable in
the summer!!!), the people loving and kind and the Church members supportive and generous. We have been blessed to have had Andrew, Annette, Ryan, Josh, Leah, Jamie, Allison, Charlotte, Melissa, Makai, Claire, Finn, Jason, Staysee, Kaden, Kamren, Kailee, Ron's mother Ethel, and also Ron's brother Tom along with his wife Glenda visit us while we've been serving. Another brother of Ron's-Randy, traveled to Florida and  we were happy to be able to spend an evening catching up with him. We've gotten to know outstanding senior missionaries and loved being able to spend fun times with all of them. It's been a continuous cycle, of course, of couples coming and going and serving the Lord in such a variety of assignments here in our mission. I believe there's been as many as 15 or 16 couples serving at any one time here and they've all been wonderful. Then of course  there are the young Elders and Sisters, some 200+
of them and they are outstanding. They are strong, smart and brave. Their enthusiasm seems to never lag,
even when their work is slow and disappointing at times. They know the Book of Mormon unbelievably well, and are bold and full of the Lord's spirit as they search for people to share the gospel with. They never cease
to amaze me and I always feel blessed to just spend time with any of them. We often have had them come
for meals and have enjoyed sharing teaching opportunities with them. We have visited with many of them
in their apartments, and it's always been our honor to associate in any way with everyone one of them.
I truly consider them the cream of the crop-they are the best!  And our Mission President and Sister Craig
also were the best! I cannot say enough about the wonderful people we've been able to associate with.
     So, now as our mission comes to a close very soon, my heart is full of gratitude and love for my Heavenly
Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. We have been so blessed throughout our entire life and this chapter has
been a highlight for sure.!  I will treasure the memories we've made this past 18 months forever.

Time to Move On

Our mission has been a great experience.  We've made many new friends among fellow missionaries, within the ward that we attended, at the University of Florida, and at our apartment complex.  We've been able to enjoy the many beautiful and interesting attractions in this part of the state. We've also been privileged to see fourteen convert baptisms in the wards that we've attended and work with some of the best young adults that our country has to offer.

Although the final numbers aren't in yet, we've been involved in uploading over 5,500 items (books) onto the internet.  Those items have included more than 850,000 images (pictures).  The items that have been uploaded are being viewed constantly by people from all over.  Before being digitized, the items had been setting on shelves in a book storage area gathering dust.

Our apartment now looks like this in each room as we prepare to leave.

We've celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary.

We've turned the project over to Barb, Terry and Lynda.

The staff had a party to say goodbye to us and hello to the Daltons.

We've said goodbye to some very good friends.

We are ready to begin the westward trip and look forward to our next adventure!

We want each of you to know that we have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  He is our savior.  His atonement gives us the opportunity to overcome both physical and spiritual death.  His grace allows us to return to his presence as long as we fulfill our responsibilities.  We also have a testimony of Joseph Smith.  We know that he saw and did the things that he said he saw and did.  We know that that our church is led by a prophet today who is directed by Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost.  We also have a testimony of the Book of Mormon as the word of God and a second testimony of Jesus Christ.  Our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ know us as individuals.  They love us and care deeply for us.  We're happy to be members of the restored church and to have had this opportunity to serve.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Friends - Nature - Family

As our mission nears it's end, new missionaries have arrived to serve the Lord and move the work forward.  It was great working with the Martins but we've now been given the opportunity to meet and work with Elder and Sister Dalton, as well as Elder and Sister Booker.  Elder and Sister Booker are CES missionaries replacing the Martins.  Elder and Sister Dalton are working with us in the area of records preservation.

We're always amazed by the beauty of the natural surroundings we are experiencing in Florida.  The following pictures were taken during recent walks in a neighborhood near our apartment complex.

During the last month of our mission, we were surprised to learn that we were getting visitors!  Two of our children were able to bring their families to Florida for a visit during the 4th of July week.  It was a great celebration for us!

Everyone wants to see gators! Although hot summer days makes gator hunting a bit of a challenge, we were successful on both trips.

Look at those giant spiders!

The weather was "really" hot and thus the swimming pool was an major attraction!

We found some time to grab a meal with Jason and Staysee's family during their visit. Kamren wasn't so sure about taking a bite of grandpa's octopus.

Melissa's family was able to spend two days with us and thus we had the opportunity to visit the Butterfly Rain Forest at the University of Florida's Natural History Museum.

Elder Wolff also had an opportunity to hunt toads, lizards and minnows with a young scientist, Makai.

Our mission has been a great experience, but we look forward to going home and spending time with family and friends as well as planning the next great adventure in our lives together.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Short time - finish strong

We love being with other missionaries.  During the past couple of weeks, we've had the opportunity to return to the Orlando Temple with a large group of missionaries from throughout our mission.  For several, the temple trip came less than a week before they finished their mission and left for home.

The temple is always special but there is something extra about being in an endowment session that is packed with full-time missionaries.  We also enjoy being together in the temple.

During the last couple of weeks we had an opportunity to feed the Elders serving in our ward.  They bring a special spirit with them.  On this occasion, one set of Elders knocked on the wrong door and spent some time introducing one of our neighbors to the Gospel.

Our experiences working with the sisters in our ward always proves to be "interesting".  A couple of weeks ago we accompanied them on an assignment to track down a referral.  We found the individual who proved to be not interested.  When we returned to where we had parked our van, it was missing!  As we were trying to figure out what to do, it came around the corner on a tow truck!  We rescued the van - paid the fee- and were shown where the "Do Not Park" signs were located, which weren't in a normal position in
the parking strip beside the street, but behind a cement wall and in a parking lot, which lead us to believe
they were for that lot. oh well, live and learn and never park on a street in Gainesville, Florida. Always use
a pay lot.

Cedar Key

We have a short list of things that we wanted to see/do before we headed for home.  One of those was to spend some time in Cedar Key, a small fishing village on the Gulf Coast.  We had visited there once before but wanted to make a return trip to enjoy the community again.  

Cedar Key is known for three things: fishing, food and sunsets.  Although we didn't do any fishing, we did enjoy the "products of the sea" as we visited a couple of the community's restaurants. 

One of Elder Wolff's all time favorites!

One of several businesses located right on the Gulf of Mexico. Steamers is a restaurant. 

Elder Wolff wanted to rent a kayak to venture out into the Gulf but decided against it when the water was choppy and there were no signs of life preservers.  We settled for renting two bicycles and spent much of the afternoon and evening exploring the community.

Then there was the sunset!  The major reason for coming to the Gulf coast!

Where ever we've traveled, the beauty of God's creation has surrounded us.  We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful world.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

58 Days Left to Make a Difference

Our mission in Florida ends on August 1, 2016.  We've had many great experiences and we look forward to finishing strong.  Although our last blog posting was a short time ago, we have some exciting things to share with you at this time..

Our missionary calling is to digitize published materials from the University of Florida's collection so that the results can be uploaded on the websites of Family Search, Internet Archive, and the University of Florida.  We continue to make substantial progress with this endeavor. 

Sister Wolff on Scribe 1 - "her machine"

Elder Wolff on Scribe 2 - "his machine"

When we're working on the scribe, this is our view from the "driver's seat".

We also "republish" the work that has been digitized by the scribes.  We share this station with Lynda Preston.  On a typical day, all three of us will spend some time republishing.

May was our most productive month!

The total number of items uploaded in May was 1,161 bringing our grand total to 4,246.
The total number of images captured in May was 88,766 bringing our grand total to 781,485.

We also enjoy being involved in traditional missionary work.

During the last few weeks, we had an opportunity to feed the two sister missionaries that serve in our ward.  Afterwards, we spent the evening with them trying to locate less active members.  It is always a treat to spend time with our "junior" missionaries.

Today, we witnessed the 10th convert baptism in our ward since we moved here 13 months ago.  We also witnessed two convert baptisms in the previous ward we lived in.  In each case, we've been involved in the support system for the new members both before and after baptism.  It is great to watch people progress in the Gospel. The Gospel does change lives!

Florida is a great place for those who love nature.

You never know what you might encounter when you're outside of your apartment.

There are many ponds surrounding our apartment complex.  One in particular, has a large population of fish and turtles.  We like to throw bread into the pond and watch the feeding frenzy.  The ripples are fish. If you look close you will also see at least one turtle.

One day last week, a Blue Heron kept coming closer and closer to us while we were feeding the fish and turtles.  As we threw bread in his direction, the fish flocked to the bread and he grabbed a fish.  This went on until he ate seven fish.  We even got to see them go down his throat!

During one of his extended walks, Elder Wolff ran across this plant.  One of our son's identified it as the flower from a Button Bush.  It was both unique and beautiful.

The most common animal "type" we see is the Anole. They are small lizards.  Anoles are all over the place during the warm months. We try to dodge them when we are walking on the sidewalks, but we're not always successful.

One afternoon last week, we were in the swimming pool. Elder Wolff picked up a small bug that had just flown into the water and flipped it onto the pool deck.  Two Anoles raced onto the deck.  The winner ate the bug!  The two just stayed there waiting for him to provide them with another meal!  He found a dead beetle in the water and flipped it to them.  Again, there was a race.  This time the winner chewed on the beetle for awhile and then spit it out - too hard!  Our grandchildren would absolutely love chasing an Anole.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Work - Church - Travel = Our Mission

It has been an eventful couple of weeks since our last post.  We would like to take this opportunity to share a few of the highlights with you.


Many days we feel like we're doing more for Internet Archive and the University of Florida then we are doing for Family Search but then there are exceptions.  During the last few weeks we've digitized records dealing with each person who has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor as well as bibliographic sketches of over 300 army generals.  We're also working on a series of memorials given in the United States Congress for colleagues who have died.  The work continues to move rapidly.  By month's end, we anticipate setting a new record for our site regarding the number of items uploaded onto Internet Archive's website in one month.


Sunday, May 14 was a historic day for the Gainesville 5th ward. Bishop Thomas was released after serving as the Bishop of this ward for nearly eight years.  He has been the Bishop since the ward was created.  Our Ward Mission Leader was called to be the new president of the Young Single Adults branch. The sacrament service included a missionary farewell as one of our young men has been called to serve in Texas.  A sister was confirmed a new member of the church following her baptism the day before and we had five investigators in attendance, as well as an inactive member who returned after a two year absence. This was the tenth convert baptism that has occurred in the two wards we've attended since arriving in Florida. It is amazing to watch the Gospel at work in the lives of both members, investigators and missionaries.  


We enjoy spending our free time seeing the sights within our mission.  During the past few weeks, we visited the Appleton Museum of Art located in Ocala and affiliated with the College of Central Florida.  We were very surprised at the extensive collection of art and artifacts found in the museum.

We were unable to take pictures of the beautiful paintings, but we did get a few pictures of items in their Asian collection.

We were surprised to find this statue of a horse during our stop in Ocala.  Ogden, Utah isn't the only place with decorated horse statues along its' streets.

We enjoy taking walks and riding our bikes in the neighborhoods surrounding our apartment.  You never know what you'll see!  Yesterday, these four Sandhill cranes were taking a stroll through a neighboring apartment complex.

During the past year, we've had membership in the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens located in Gainesville.  A couple of weeks ago, we made our last trip there during our stay in Florida.

Their collection of bamboo is amazing as is the different form trees take in the gardens.

We've been surprised to see how many types of cactus grow in Florida.

During the upcoming week, our good friends Elder and Sister Martin will be returning to their Utah home.  It has been great serving with them and enjoying many activities and some great restaurants together.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April was a Great Month

Our Work

April saw the continuation of our efforts to bring additional resources to those who are hunting for information on their relatives.  We were able to upload 850 items onto Internet Archive's website.  The items included a total of approximately 62,000 images.  We continue to make good progress and look forward to reaching higher goals during the last three months of our mission.

Go Gators!

Serving in Gainesville has provided us with several opportunities to attend college sporting events.  The quality of athlete and level of success associated with the University of Florida and the SEC has been exciting to experience.  We had a chance to attend both a baseball game and a football scrimmage on the same day with our good friends, Elder and Sister Martin.

Baseball - University of Florida vs. Mississippi State University

46,000 fans at the University of Florida's spring football game

Good friends serving together in the Florida Jacksonville mission.

Gators are great - We still follow BYU, U of U, USU, and the USNA!

Other Missionary Activities

We also enjoy doing the activities that are usually associated with missionary work.  One responsibility is to check on the apartments of our younger colleagues.  Missionary safety is a significant priority as is the maintenance of a healthy living environment.  In April, we had a chance to visit missionaries in Williston, Chiefland, and Old Town.  Since it was their "P Day", we all met in Chiefland for lunch after our inspections.

It is always great to have the missionaries in our apartment.  They bring a great spirit, eat a lot of food, and engage us in a Gospel discussion during each visit.  This month, we had a little bigger gathering then usual.

These are some of the finest young men you'll every meet.

Every Tuesday, we attend a Book of Mormon class taught by our missionaries.  The group includes investigators, new members, and missionaries.  We enjoy studying the Book of Mormon together.

Missionaries come and go as transfers occur.  Two of the four missionaries here were leaving for other parts of the mission the following day. 

Our chapel, home to the Gainesville 1st and 5th wards.  It can be a hive of activity.  Last weekend it hosted a baptism on Saturday evening, church services on Sunday, and a "break the fast" potluck dinner after church Sunday afternoon.

Sometime for Fun

We managed to sneak away to one of our favorite spots, St. Augustine, to celebrate Sister Wolff's birthday.  One of things on our "to do" list was to take a tour of Flagler College.  The facility was originally built in 1888 to serve as a winter retreat for the "very" rich.  We had been told that it was beautiful, but words can't really describe what we saw.

The grounds are amazing.

The Tiffany stained glass windows are beautiful.
Many of the ceilings are painted - this is the student cafeteria!

We don't go to St. Augustine without spending a little time on the beach.  For those who worry about coming on a mission because of the separation from children and grandchildren, modern communication goes a long way in resolving that issue.

Sister Wolff getting birthday wishes from children and grandchildren on her I Phone.

Help Wanted!

Our mission ends on August 1.  They are still searching for our replacements.  Interested, contact the Family History - Records Preservation folks at the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City.  You are needed!