Saturday, July 23, 2016

A foot or two!

In the twirl and splash 

 of coming and goings

funerals, kite flying and dancing Zumba on the lawn and in the basement, maybe the easiest way of saying hello, goodbye, and we love you may be to use part of what we got to share with Cobán first ward our last Sunday in Cobán. 
Here goes! 

What is it like to be a missionary as a senior?  (And how do we prepare?)

 Dream...and follow your dreams!

Like the younger brother of Nephi, reflecting back, "Our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." 
(Jacob 7:26) 
In the blink of an eye. Just over eighteen months ago, we entered, exited the MTC 
(I used this as wallpaper on my computer:  "Built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles")
 heading for Cobán.    
  We got to look quick to see the temple on the way, and the mountainsides between Guatemala and Alta Verapaz, the department (like a state) where we would live.

  When doors and arms are open, how could a missionary not feel welcomed?
We even (of sorts) learned this mission, to employ an extra long arm for a "selfie," to impress our college-age daughter

VAL: Soon after arriving in Cobán, the area presidency taught presidents of the many missions in Central America  
of the parable of vineyard:
"And the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few  And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit 

  which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.  (Jacob 5:70, 71, emphasis added) 

The Harvest is great.  

The laborers are few.    
Prophets have invited, and joy awaits--what can we do?
  Will we consider?  How will we prepare? How can we plan?

LAURENE: How do we create a tradition of missions in our families?  My grandparents were missionaries in Washington D.C. 
and Hawaii. 
My parents represented the church in China 
and New Zealand. 

  My brothers served.

Then, as a returned missionary
 and single mother of two children   

I stayed for a time at my parents home.  Night after night I entertained a recurring dream of going on a mission. (Was it pizza from the night before?)  I had no idea why I was having the dreams, no idea that something like that could ever happen, or how. morning very early, I awakened to notice a map of the world on the bedroom wall. 

 Africa, Europe, South America...Hmmm...

Another mission was not exactly impossible...

in 20 years...

the idea sunk deeper.  

Not impossible, possibly grand. 

But a mission might be better with a permanent companion.  

A companion...  

A companion?  

Who in the world?  

The name 

Val Starkey
(a gentleman I had been getting to know,

 who called frequently, driving the four hour stint from Seattle to Tri-Cities, WA  
to visit)
entered into my mind and penetrated my heart with fire like feelings from a testimony meeting.  
Great idea!  
Why not tell him?   
No matter that it was 5:00 in the morning! 
 He would be working at Boeing at six.  

 "Hi!  How are you doing?"
 "Fine..." (Why are you calling at 5:00 am?)  
I leaped right into the dream:  
"So, what are you doing in 20 years?"
No matter that he dropped the phone.   
No matter that it took him a while to accept the offer.  
Twenty years later, after raising children, 

and celebrating children's children
   working to save money, 

(This particular plane trip did not save money, but represents Val's work to test bolts and create new ways to build airplanes and prepare design books)

  accepting callings and growing talents, 
we found ourselves on a mission.  
And then on another!  
If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work! 
VAL:  In Oct. 2004President Nelson suggested four concerns for couples:  

When our youngest was beginning her university studies,
(Find Maria in the middle, very blonde)

every night Val would peruse a list from of
temple missions, self-reliance, health, office, construction, and more (see pp.18-19.)

Laurene was nervous about a language.  
We had health challenges, financal issues, families who needed attention. 
                Heavenly Father helped us through each step. 

      In our Honduras temple mission, 
we met:  missionaries and other helpers from nearby and a little  further away;

a Wyoming couple,
 both turning 80 
who served with us their fifth Spanish speaking mission--
initially petrified to learn the language, but compensating up front by teaching dance to throngs of youth, worming into the hearts of myriads, 
verbs conjugated or unconjugated;

 fellow temple workers and leaders on their 7th mission, 
parents of 12 living children; 
a dentist recuperating from a severed spine 

 with his wife who bravely studied daily, having never before learned another language. 

Reminiscent of our friend Nancy who saved her school teacher salary and learned Spanish to venture to Chili after her sweetheart passed
we celebrated a nurse companionship

who, with husbands deceased, decided to serve together.

With help from every side, 


 we are counting the blessings of serving missions:

We learned from D&C 31:5 that when we choose to serve, our family will "live."
►We have welcomed 4 new grandchildren. 


  ►Children and grandchildren have made strides in education, career paths, and in cementing families.

►Mothers have been loved by our siblings and daily offer service and light to families and neighbors. Both were spared in two nearly serious accidents. 

►Grandchildren prayed for Grandma Lolly and Grandpa Val on a mission. "Grandparents, temple, mission--" three words planted with care into little hearts. 

►We have learned a mission can be a place to find "the best 18 months" of a marriage.

President Nelson quotes:  "If you have problems in your family that are hard to solve with only prayer and fasting, you might consider a mission!"
Why do we serve?  The mission of Christ was to bless others, we also would like for all of our days to be spent in the service of our God. We have found joy as we have served in and pointed others toward the sealing covenants of the temple! 

Heavenly Father lives, has a plan for each of us; the Savior understands and lifts us in our trials. Living prophets are pleading for more laborers, blessings await! As we learn and teach of the restoration, the Lord renews and blesses US and our families day by day, hour by hour. 

Wherever we have been blessed to meet and love new friends, feelings from an ancient leader emerge from a special setting..and pondering our last 18 months, we shall take the liberty of replacing the name of one area for another--to describe a similar sentiment:

   "And now it came to pass that all this was done in [Cobán], yea, by the waters of [Cobán],
in the forest that was near the waters of [Cobán];
 yea, the place of [Cobán], the waters of [Cobán], the forest of [Cobán], how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever."
During a final couple of days in the country, we had the privilege of visiting what might be the actual site of the waters spoken of by Alma. 

 As we reflect on warm smiles, dear friends, bonds that transcend miles,
and look toward
                            new horizons, further paths,                                              
we treasure daily uplift, 

wholesome activities
 and service in a"beautiful place"  
to savor budding of talents
strengthening of families,
 building of leaders, 
groundwork for temples 
 (The green area extending from the steps of "Calvario" is the place patriarch Ovalle
 thinks a lovely spot for a future temple in Cobán!  What do you think?) 

 Try it, you'll like it!
I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown...