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.