"...because thou hast not murmured...I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them...and it came to pass that when my father heard these words he was exceedingly glad..."
I Nephi 3:6-8

2 months to go!

2 months to go!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reflections on Being Home

It has been a whole month since we returned home from New Zealand.  It has been a whirlwind of activity.  We arrived on our anniversary, Monday the 25th of November which is also when we left.  I wrote about the little family we baptized and we were able to stop on the way to the airport to see them one last time.  Our good friends Michael and Pat who are our New Zealand family took us to the airport and they were so patient about it.  We had lots of luggage and a couple of stops which they helped with wholeheartedly.  We also got a call from our last convert to contact us.  He sobbed and sobbed and said he hadn't called before because he couldn't bear to say good bye to the only people who had treated him so kindly.  That is a little exaggeration but we really do care for him and his son.
We feel really blessed to have been able to see all of our converts before we left.  It was very hard to say good bye to Michael and Pat at the airport and pretty tearful when we read the letter Pres. Paea left on our doorstep.  Ken loves him so much as do I.

On arriving home, we were met at the airport by our four children, Heather, Jason, Jenny and Micah.  They are the ones who saw us off because we couldn't stand to say good bye to the whole family there.  We were a wee bit disappointed to see only four of the family there but that changed as soon as we saw "The Plan"!  We got to the house and the lawn was covered with yellow balloons all staked down with golf tees.  There were posters everywhere and the Christmas lights were up.  We were quided through the house to the back yard where all the rest of the family was standing in a fully lighted Pergola which had been constructed for our anniversary.  Those smiling faces lit and set aglow by tiny Christmas lights will always be in my memory.

Next we were taken into the house which had been cleaned and made spic and span and fully stocked with any kind of food we could think of.  We were shown the new bathroom floor the kids had installed as well as the complete master bath redo that they had done as well.  Everything was beautiful and they all worked so hard to make it that way.  They had prepared a complete Mexican dinner for us too.  How did they know how much we had missed Mexican food. LOL!  We also received Harts drinks and Daylight donuts at the airport.  We ate dinner and hugged and cried and laughed and loved.

I couldn't believe how much the kids had grown.  Almost every one of them was much bigger than I remembered.  We didn't get a full sense of the growth from Skype.  Some are approaching me in height and a couple have their sights set on beating grandpa.  My little baby Lexie was walking and talking and looking very old.  She is a funny little thing who while a baby still sometimes makes you forget how old she is by the grownup things she says and does.  Our kids were becoming young men and young ladies quickly.  The only thing I regret a bit is missing this part of their growing up but they do it no matter where we are don't they.

Our ward seems much different with so many of our beloved brothers and sisters passed on or changed.  We lost Anna Carter, Von Bennett, Walden Johnson, David Phelon and Phil Marquis in the few months before our return.  We also lost Jack Batchler, Pres. Clyde Hill and Bishop Hyatt .  We will miss them.  We were happy to see so many also doing well in spite of many problems.  Our ward had changed much.  There were lots of move ins and outs.  We have many new folks to get to know and hope we can do it quickly.  Our old friends are still friends and now we have so many new ones to count.  We are grateful for the support that the ward has shown us mostly through their prayers and letting us know about important events.

Returning home has seemed to be very difficult for me.  Ken says that is a sign that my mission was successful.  I miss our friends and family in New Zealand.  Often I don't know what to do with myself but then the kids come round and help me figure it out.  My daughter says I need to give myself time but I have never been very good at that.  Two days after we got back, I stood in the middle of Walmart crying and asked Ken if we could go back.  He just looked at me like he didn't know what to do with me and smiled.  He then took my hand led me through the checkout and took me home to listen to my rant.

I did love this mission and I am torn.  I love to be back with my friends and family here but I miss those loved ones there.  I felt useful and helpful there and I loved sharing the gospel.  I guess I will just have to find my place here and reinvent myself once again.  I have done it before so it is not like I don't know how but I haven't felt this lost in a very long time.  Fortunately, I have Heavenly Father to help me figure it out along with all the sweet loved ones here!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Will Remember: People

This is my last post from my mission assignment here in Timaru, NZ.  Though I still have "heaps" in my head to write down, that will have to come at some later date.  For now, I just want to record my feelings for what is most important of this whole experience, the people.

Last night was our "going away" party and today we spoke in our little branch for the last time.  I have been crying at the drop of a hat most of the week.  It has only accelerated the last couple of days. Yesterday we went around and said "good bye" to lots of the places and we have said good bye now to almost all of the people.  It has been very difficult for me and I think for Ken as well.

We said good bye to the little Dutch/Russian couple we have visited every couple of weeks for a year now.  We left with so much more to learn from them.  We said good bye to the couple we have been teaching regularly since July.  Their lives are so interesting and they are determined to come to SLC to be baptized.  We'll be there.  We said good bye to what I feel was my first real friend here in Timaru along with her husband and son.  I hit it off with her immediately and grew to love all of them.  None of the fore mentioned are members but we love them just the same.

At the party we were sung to by our lovely Maori Branch President.  Ken has come to look on him as a brother.  He has a wonderful heart created from a long road of heart break!  We will miss him and his sweet wife and daughter so very much.  We were sung to by some beautiful woman, a lovely mum, daughter and granddaughter and two other wonderful sisters who stay strong and stalwart even though there is no male support in their homes.  They have lovely voices and beautiful hearts.  I had a wonderfully talented young man to play my favorite piece from Forest Gump on the piano.  I hope his gift serves him well.  It was extremely touching.

The little Maori "sister" who connected with us early on when we found pictures of her ancestor with our ancestor, serving the church here at the turn of the century was there.  The Elders stood and sang some songs for us.  The lovely man who has been coming to FHE since the first cried as he stood to say the closing prayer.  Our friend who held parties and invited non-members as part of her missionary effort led us in "I Am A Child of God".  We had 8 non-members present at the party.

At other times we saw our little mom and 4 kids.  She is now in the RS presidency.  Her nana was there too.  We will miss them much!  We will also miss the mom and three kids that were the first baptized.  She texted to say good bye as she lives in another town.  The boy who's dad baptized him after dad was baptized by Ken rang us up and said good bye.  The quote, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care comes to mind."  We cared!

I know I have missed many and I could go on and on but there are so many who have a part of our hearts with them.  We will never forget any of them.  How could we, they have become our family.  Good bye Timaru town and our friends here and in other parts of New Zealand.  We have loved you much and it was all worth it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To Our Children and Grandchildren (and anyone else who cares to read this)

Dad and I have talked about this much while we have been away from you in the far land of New Zealand, Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud.  What have we talked about?  We have talked about the effect this experience has had on each of you.  We hope you remember it for a long, long time. 

The hardest thing to do in coming here was not going through the tests or the application or the money we had to find to be able to do it or the waiting to come here.  It was not leaving our house or selling the car.  It was not going to a new land that we knew very little about.  It was not going to a place that we knew virtually no one.  It was not new customs or old traditions or learning to understand the Queen's English. 

The hardest thing was leaving all of you when we love and care about each of you so very much.  It was missing the birthdays and the baptisms and the Black Belt tests and all of the dance and music recitals.  It was missing all the little milestones for which we have normally been present.  It was the hugging and the kissing and the talking and the crying.  It was the learning and the growing and the totally deep understanding even in differences that exists in a family that truly, truly cares for each other.

We see very little of that depth of caring here and we cherish it more than ever before but the point is, THE POINT IS, we were willing to give up something we wanted badly now for something we knew would be a pattern for the future.  We know that while this has been very hard for all of us, it teaches you that it is important to do hard things for the betterment of others.  Because we have done this, we have learned things we could have learned no other way.  We appreciate each other like we never have before and we appreciate you in a way not possible had we not been separated from you.

We have seen you love and support one another without us.  I don't know what that means to you but it means a great deal to dad and I.  We have seen you be there for us and for each other.  We have seen growth in you that you perhaps do not see in yourselves.  We have seen the fruits of your labors as well as ours.

We expect to see videos and pictures of many events that we missed.  We hope you remember why we were not there.  We have often thought, "What can we say if we miss this thing."  We counteracted that with, "What would we tell the Lord if we didn't do this thing we undertook to do."

We now understand even better the depth and breadth of our love for one another lies in our commitment to do hard things for the greater good.  We hope we pass on a legacy of loyalty, love, faith, commitment to do the right things for the right reasons, to give up what we want now for for something that will make a better future for all of us.

I would never change this in spite of it's difficulty.  It has made us and you better children of our Heavenly Father and better brothers and sisters in Christ.  NOTHING ELSE is of so great an import!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

So This is What It Feels Like!

Ever since I was old enough to understand, I have wondered what the feeling was that missionaries always talked about when they came home.  I have wondered why it was so hard for them to leave and why even though they really wanted to come home, it was a bitter-sweet experience.  Well, now I understand.

Some missionaries don't have this feeling.  Some of them can hardly wait for the time to go home to come.  We have seen a few of them here.  They are "trunky" from the day they come 'til the day they leave.  They make it hard for themselves and for everyone else.  We try to help them get over it but they just don't get it.  They don't seem to understand that if you love the people and throw yourself into the work, it goes by too fast and then you are in this stage that Ken refers to as the "long slow death".

We are excited to be coming home to our fabulous, amazing family but, like the little graphic on the Branch President's wall here, our hearts are torn.  We desparately want to go home to our family but our hearts are torn and bleeding.  We have come to love the people here so much.  We have seen the mysterious workings of the Lord in so many ways.  We have been a part of conversion and healing.  We have loved and laughed and cried with many.  We want to go home but a part of us wants to stay.

I hate to leave our investigators that didn't quite get to the font.  We love them and have great hopes for them in the future.  One husband and wife want to come to Salt Lake to be baptized.  It is a long and complicated story that has led him especially to believe that when he comes to SLC, he will have come home.  We are hoping that he may come to realize that he needs the help of the Holy Ghost before he can collect enough money to come.  I worry about that though I have no doubt that he is sincere in his very real desire.  I worry about our converts.  Will they stay strong enough?  Will they get the support they need?   I guess that now, I have to be like Heavenly Father and trust that the hands we leave all of them in will be strong yet tender enough to do what is right for them.

I have intermittent crying jags as does Ken.  Something will remind us of someone and the water works go on.  We had Stake Conference today and we said good bye to all those people in Christchurch that we have some to love.  Pres. Kezerian spoke and told us good bye.  I cried.  Michael was conferred the Melchizedek PH.  I cried.   Many people said their good byes to us.  I cried.  This next and last week will be harder than I ever imagined because this experience has been better than I ever imagined.

I won't quit crying for a few days and yes, John you will be able to trace me on your airlines tracker by the vapor trail I leave behind but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It has been so hard but so worth it!  This is what it feels like.  If you don't like to experience feelings, don't do this and certainly don't put your heart in it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Big Chunk of My Heart!

Well, it has already started!  Yesterday I said good bye, up close and personal to Mt. Cook.  A couple of weeks ago I said good bye to Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru.  Today, I started the long, painful process of good bye to a whole lot of people that I have come to know and to love.

I have been crying a good part of the day already.  I love this place so much and it is just dawning on me just how much.  I didn't really understand how attached you can get to some brothers and sisters that you had never known before in such a short time but then, I had never been on a mission before.  I had never committed my heart to spreading the gospel to everyone I meet, I had never been part of baptizing people into the true gospel of Christ in such a hands on way.  I will be leaving a big chunk of my heart here in a little place named Timaru.

Ken has always said that he could tell how successful a missionary has been by how they act when they get ready to leave and go home.  If they have a difficult time leaving, then they have truly served.   If you judge it in that way, our mission has been very successful at least for us.  My heart and mind have changed in so many ways that I can't count them.  My philosophy has changed, my understanding has changed, my desires have changed and I will never be the same again.  At least I certainly hope that I won't quickly slip back into my old ways.  That is the last thing I want.

Yes!  It has been the best of times and it has been very difficult at times.  I wouldn't dare to say that it has been the worst of times.  It has been nothing near the worst.  I guess it is a relative thing.  I do know that I am so blessed.  God has given me an opportunity that many do not receive.  I hope that I have been a profitable servant.  I know at least a few whose lives will be ever changed in part because Sister and Elder Jarvis came to a little town in New Zealand which they knew nothing about and opened their hearts and minds.  I now know what it truly is to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto mine own understanding.

I would never have chosen this place nor would I have put me in this particular place knowing what I know about me but the Lord and his servants knew more and I am the biggest beneficiary of this service.  I want to thank my sweetheart and my family for encouraging me to do this thing that seemed so very big at the outset but which became more and more comfortable as I watched the Lord's plan take shape.  I can honestly say that I have not had one minute of anxiety about coming here.  I do have anxiety about leaving, especially the people that we have baptized.  I do know that like Heavenly Father sent us on our own, it is time for these people to prove themselves herewith and I have to trust that they will do the right thing.

Yes, I can leave Mt. Cook and Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru, Waimate and Timaru, Dunedin and Christchurch and the gorgeous, gorgeous sea, the clouds, the flowers and the birds.  They will each keep a part of my heart but the biggest chunk will be with the beautiful friends I have made here in New Zealand.  I hope I don't waste a single minute that I have left.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm Still Becoming

Been home from the temple trip for 5 days already.  I spent a couple of them being sick and not getting what I wanted to write down so I had better do it now.

We had the opportunity to go to the Hamilton Temple on the 8th.  We didn't arrive there until late in the evening because of many frustrating reasons and I was really wound.  Ken and I had received a call previously asking us if we had seen the temple film yet.  The person calling said they had been to three temples on one day and were planning two more temples for that day.  I guess they had forgotten that we live 800 miles from the temple and so it is a big deal to get to the temple just once a year.

Our stake plans a trip every October.  There is housing at the temple but they are closing everything in a plan to take down and rebuild.  Plans for lodging and travel were really tenuous this year and so lots of people couldn't go.  Last year we had 415 going but this year there were lots fewer.  It made a big impression on me how lucky we are at home to have so many temples so close.  It takes many months of planning and the better part of a thousand dollars to take the two of us to the temple for a few days here.

It was a great experience which is likely to be our last here.  We saw the new film which we really loved because of the thinking it allows you to do.  We were witnesses at our last session and Ken got to baptize our branch kids including one of our converts for about 220 people.  That was awesome.  We got many new insights and thoughts from all of this.  We are so blessed.  We went to a wedding today and it was nice out in the open air but it is not the same as a sealing in the temple.  I feel so fortunate to have the blessings of being sealed to our family in the temple of the Lord.

We got to take a couple of days and look around the north island while we were there but it didn't seem of much import when compared with the blessings of going to a sacred place in order to bless so many others.  My perspective has changed so much on this mission.  I have so much more appreciation of all the blessings of the gospel.  I hope that when I return home, I don't lose that perspective too quickly.  It has made an important difference in who I am becoming.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not A Typical Day In "Paradise"

Well, with the perspective for today, I look on yesterday and realize how quickly the world can bounce up and down in our little corner. No, we haven't had an earthquake in the literal sense but emotionally, it has been somewhat like a very slow quake.

We woke very early yesterday to correct some problems with Ken's work at home and to make a call to my brother who is again in the hospital.  Kent seemed to be in good spirits in spite of the fact that he had made it through another crisis and for this I was very grateful.  Kent's and Jeanne's year has not been an easy one and I am so grateful they are doing as well as they are after Jeanne's surgery and Kent's hospitalization in a few days time.

We got ready and went out on our appointments as we would on a typical day.  We had set up three and the first two went well.  For the third one, we had made a plan which we felt inspired to make and it couldn't have gone better than the plan.  You could feel the spirit heavily and it was one of those moments that you savor and enjoy for a while.  Our lesson plan was perfect and our investigators asked questions that led directly into what we wanted them to understand.  I got a little chastisement from him on using my artistic talents better and then we left, feeling pretty spiritually high.

On to our dear friends home for dinner with them and the elders.  It was a lovely dinner staged for my birthday with much love.  I couldn't help but wonder how our lives would be changing when we return home soon and think about those we would be leaving here.  We had cake and ice cream.  I received a dear "wee" card which Pat had made and I will cherish and we had a tiny fireworks show.  We finished up with lessons and discussion led by the elders.

We stayed a while after the elders left and discussed many things with our still fledgling members and then left for home after "family" prayers.  Ken went straight to the computer when we got home and there was an e-mail with pictures of our 12 year old granddaughter's latest accomplishment.  Seems like Brinna had shot her very first 3 point buck on the muzzleloader hunt.  We were so excited and happy for her.  She is her daddy's little buddy and his good hunting partner not to mention she may be training to be the next Annie Oakley.  Lots of venison in store for the Jarvis family!

Ken then went on Facebook.  I heard him say, "There is a beautiful picture of David and his girls!"  Things were okay until he read why the picture was on there.  Heather had posted it because her daddy had died.  Now, David has been a little miracle in our lives for about 45 years.  We were heart-broken along with possibly hundreds of others.  At the same time, we were excited at the prospect that David is free from his wheel chair and running full speed on the other side.  Our hearts ache for his family but they rejoice for him.

David is the 4th neighbor who has left us for a better world in the last month or so.  We had hoped to see all of them on returning home but I guess we will have to wait until we return HOME!  It is a weird feeling.  We will miss them all very much but perhaps we will miss David's indomitable spirit the most.  What an example he has been to us all of a life well lived in spite of daunting physical incapacity!  He is the prime example of making more than the most of what you have been given.  We'll miss you Anna Grace, Von, Walden and David but we will not be too far behind.

Give us a little time though, we still have some children to love and some grandchildren to help become all that they can be, much like Kathy has done for David.  Make the most of what you have and perhaps people will be saying beautiful things about you like David is having said about him.