Monday, March 31, 2008

Hiking - Chinese style

We had a most interesting hike the other day. It was, for the most part unbelievable. Here are the pictures to prove our point. The entire trail was finished in rock stairs. Everything was so nicely done! They even had an outdoor weight room at the top, with a man who was lifting a barbell, but watch out in between! You wouldn't want to hike it if it were wet! We should call this hike the "stairway to heaven" hike because it was ALL UPHILL until you got to the top of the mountain. Then you hiked ALL DOWNHILL! A sweet Chinese lady who was going the opposite direction offered to take our picture together! The day was perfect for hiking because it was cool and a little windy! It was very beautiful - but oh, those stairs!! I like hiking in Utah much better, even though they don't have fancy stairs and outdoor weight rooms! You can see where we were hiking in relation to the 101 Tower in the one picture with Dad in it, and the one with me in the forefront! In the other picture, I sat down to pet this dog, but he just snubbed me and walked on by, not giving me any notice until he reached the Chinese sign above! Oh, well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Giving 110% pays off!!

It has been so great to get to talk to some of you this week and to find out how to FINALLY talk to the Lagerstroms on the telephone! All this time we have been blocked from getting through but we figured it all out now, so watch out!! We have been humbled to hear of Brock's award at the annual BYU football Awards Banquet and Ceremony, and he had no idea he was getting it! There were not that many awards given, and Brock was the only one who received one who was not a starter on the team! We are especially proud of him because Dad had read earlier, of this award and the great man for whom they made it! He was BYU's equipment manager for many years, and so beloved by all who knew him. He was the spiritual uplift of the guys on the team, and was always there, cheering them on as a team and also in an individual way, with a listening ear and sympathetic heart for anyone who was down, or needed to have his confidence strengthened! During the evening of awards last week, they played clips of each of the players who were being honored and Brock's clip showed his enthusiasm and support for the team and individuals. It really touched Brock's heart and the hearts of everyone. In fact, one man came up to him afterward and said, "The only football player that was honored tonight whose hand that I want to shake, is the hand of the recipient of this coveted "Floyd Johnson Shield of Faith Award!" Congratulations! Brock went home and wept! He realized that giving 110% in everything he did, from weight-lifting, and all that tough, football practices entail, to serving and supporting others with his whole heart, pays off in character and integrity and makes everyone around him become a better person and a better player because of his example!! Another "tender mercy" for him, was the fact that Coach Reynolds came up to him and wanted to know what number he would like put on his jersey. Wanting Lance's number, but not thinking it would be available, he said, " Is number 36 available?" "Yep", responded the coach. So we will know what number to look for from now on!

Today was an especially rewarding Sunday. We are practicing some of the most beautiful songs in our Ward Easter program, and we have some of the most beautiful singing voices I've heard in a choir and as soloists. The program should have everyone feeling the Spirit of love for the Savior by the time it ends. After choir practice, we helped with the Filipino dinner and then I taught some piano students, Virginia, Erlinda and Mary Jane! They are such a joy to teach because they get soo excited to learn new things and just squeal and hug me during the lessons! Erlinda told me, " We want to make our teacher happy - so we practice every day." Can you imagine such appreciative students? Here is a picture of those that were with me today! They have such tough lives, living and working away from their families and children, who are being taken care of by others in the Philippines while they work here to send money to them. But you have never seen a happier, more grateful people for the little that they have!
This Saturday, at the 2:00 session, we should have Virginia, Chris Allen, and Leonora, from our Temple Preparation class, receive their Temple blessings! The sisters want me to be their escort. I hope we can arrange it at the Temple, and that they don't need me in another capacity there at that time! President Walker said it shouldn't be too busy because it is election day here and most people will be voting!

President Eyring's article in this last special issue of the "Ensign", really hit home to me as I pondered it a second time. There is so much I can learn from his suggestion to ponder the times in my life that the Atonement has helped me change and repent and give thanks to Father for those times. We can then help others more and be a more powerful voice, if WE can get the gift of bearing a sure witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world! The time I thought of, was when I felt such resentful feelings toward Pop and the way he treated Mom and my brother Doug. I d to feel that way towards him, but I did, and I had to work so hard to feel good towards him for so many years. But as I kept trying to repent and asking the Lord to help me, I began to feel a great appreciation and love for him, and the Lord made those negative feelings disappear. None of them are left!! What a miracle! It was so hard at first, but as I persisted in asking for help, it became easy!! What a testimony to me of His Atoning power to change our very hearts! WEll, there are so many wonderful experiences I still desire to share with you, but I'd better head to bed. It is late and Dad has fallen asleep! THE CHURCH IS TRUE AND WE LOVE YOU!! Mom and Dad

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It takes WORK!

Dear blog, I am finding out that the Lord's blessings come to us as we put forth a huge amount of work and sacrifice! I have wanted to learn some of the Temple ordinances in Chinese so I could be of more help to these sweet people who come to the Temple. It is a most formidable task, and there have been times of total discouragement in learning them, (and I'm sure there will be times in the future), where I will doubt that I can accomplish it. Nevertheless, I am learning that the Lord helps those who help themselves, and do all in their power to accomplish the thing that they would like to accomplish. Only after we put forth this tremendous effort, does He step in and make it possible for us! Anyway, to make a long story short -- with His help, and ONLY with His help, I am amazed at what I can do! I not only have "caught up" to speed, the ordinances I didn't do for three years in English, but have been able to memorize one ordinance in Chinese and part of another! Really, I never thought I could do it!!

On another vein, we have a sweet, young, unmarried sister named Lena, very beautiful, smart, has served a mission in California, and is working for the Church as a translator - a "cream of the crop" girl, who we have become very close to. She was feeling discouraged Monday, and so after we finished working together in the Temple, Dad and I took her to dinner. She seems to wonder where all the young men are who have integrity and stick to their standards? After a lovely dinner of beef noodle soup and pot stickers, and assuring her there WERE such young men, we parted and she attended her Young Single Adult activity! Some day, some lucky, young man will find himself a most beautiful, spiritual, eternal companion in the being of her!! This picture surely does not do her justice, but it is the only one we have so far!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blessings, blessings, blessings!!

Our temple president, President Walker, surprised us just recently in our prayer meeting, which is held before we begin our day at the temple, by singing, "He That Hath Clean Hands", to us in his big, bass voice. The song really brought back some tender memories of Dad's big, bass voice, and I really couldn't hold back the tears! Hopefully, no one noticed! I can remember singing this same song as a duet, with a boy from my Stake, at a Stake YM/YW Standards Night! Music has always touched my heart in a way that nothing else can. It is impossible to describe those special, sacred feelings it brings! By the way ---- I get to teach piano after our church meetings on Sundays! Last Sunday I gave my first music lesson to our Relief Society chorister, Lila, an energetic young woman from the Philippines! She wanted to pass over the part where she was supposed to learn about counting music, but I told her we couldn't do that. We had to go through each page of the music book! When she found out that it wasn't as hard as it looked, she began to get really excited and clapped her hands and shouted for joy when she found that she could do it! She is going to be a fun person to teach!!

The other day I helped two sister missionaries do some special temple work. It was a great experience, because they had sacrificed their P-day to come do this work for others who had passed on before, and the Spirit was very strong! One sister was a beautiful Tongan girl and the other was a beautiful Chinese girl! Both were very sweet and we just seemed to bond almost instantly! This happens to me a lot in the Temple!!

Monday we were blessed to pick a park close by our apartment, to exercise in, and just as we were finishing, we met Linda, a sweet, Chinese lady who works for the Forest Service! She told us of several hiking places we could go that were in the mountains near by! She said she was hoping we would be able to meet her again in this park! We will do this as much as we can, which is only on Mondays, but maybe we can get to know her better and introduce her to the blessings of the gospel. I know Father will help us in this if she is ready.

We have been looking for a small, digital camera that we can put in Elias's pocket or my purse and carry with us everywhere we go! We have been missing some really good pictures! We looked and looked Monday until we were so tired. On the way home, we decided to look in just one more shop, (just before that, I had asked Father to help us find one), and you guessed it -- we DID!! It is exactly what Elias wanted!! Watch out, now! We're going to be posting a few pictures!!

I have been having a love affair with the book of Isaiah! I decided to read it again in my personal scripture time! Wow! I feel that Isaiah really knew the Savior! He had the ability to put into words, how the Savior felt about His Atoning Sacrifice, and also how He feels about His children, both anciently and now! How Christ loves us! How He wants us to keep the commandments, so that we can inherit eternal blessings and life with Him and Father! Isaiah felt His love and was able to express it so beautifully and symbolically! There are times when I just weep for joy when I read His words about the Savior, His love for us, and what He has done for us!!

There is a little doggie, who is becoming my friend. He lives in a noodle shop across from the Temple! He is brown and funny looking and has arthritis and can barely walk! But is starting to come over to the Temple and wait for me to come out at the end of the day! He is usually asleep when I see him, so I have to wake him up and give him a minute to recognize me before I pet him. He is starting to nuzzle his face on my legs! He has won my heart. It is nice to have a pet that someone else takes care of!! We'll take a picture of him and then maybe you can help me find a name for him!!

I'm so grateful for a wonderful family, who is close because they sacrifice for each other! Even taking time out of their busy lives to be with Carrie and Rob for Abby's blessing! I was so impressed with Kristy's straight "A's"; Jozet's desire to know the Lord's will in her life; Jen's helping Mandy with finances; Mandy's effort to always include my much, loved sister in whatever is going on in Idaho; Carrie's inviting everyone to Abby's blessing and feeding them all; Doug's help in Shannon's classroom with the children; and Celeste's newfound talent with the airbrush! This last cake was elegant!! Then there is the extra special men in their lives -- and one special gal! How we love all of you!! Well, I'd better sign off for now and let Dad write. As always -- "The church is true and we love you!" Mom

Blessings, blessings, blessings!!

Our temple president, President Walker, surprised us