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Sunday, August 13, 2017

                                                                                                               August 6th, 2017
Hello Family and Friends,

 It took me a while, but I finally found the name of this flower.  It is listed in the "27 Jaw Droppingly Beautiful plants that will get your neighbors talking"! It is a Purple Passionflower, and it's cousin, the blue version, is actually listed in the 27, guess the purple one is more common.  I have never seen anything even remotely similar to this delicate, multi layered delight!  I'm still trying to decide if the 5+ new mosquitoes bites were worth the walk and picture of these. The bites take forever to go away! Although, a bite from this 250 pound Alligator Snapping Turtle may take longer to heal!!
Our Trusty Office Elders bring us a yummy treat on their return drive from Memphis...Such great Elders  E Maskovich/Jennings.  (Dressed to clean out an apartment)

One weekend the four couples drove to Memphis to check out some sights.  We first went to a place called Slave Haven.  The home was used as an "underground railroad" for slaves escaping North and belonged to  a white business man and his family who had emigrated from Germany.   It was very interesting, and we even went down into the cellar where the people would wait for their chance to head North. It was a pretty damp, dirt floored area; very small and not tall enough to stand up if you had any height. 

 We spent about 2 hours looking at and listening to the history of the plight of the slaves.  One interesting thing our guide told us was that the Burkle family brought the first magnolia trees into TN.  They planted two in their front yard to be an alert to those fleeing that this was the house to come to.  According to our guide, this tree does not shed their leaves, and so served as an easy identifier.
Sister Green took the picture, so she is not shown.  She and her husband were former service missionaries who worked in the office.  Next we drove down town for lunch.  So many places to choose from, but we headed to BB Kings. It was SO full, and SO noisy, that we chose a different place.  This busy street is the center for street artists, music, eating, and lots of people.  
 

  Hey Max, check out this guitar! Fun sights and atmosphere.

After lunch we visited the Cotton Exchange, the bustling center for the cotton trade back in the day. (just like a mini wall street)
You can see the way it use to look, minus the couple of tourists!

A hefty sized cotton bale, and bound so tight, you would think it was wood or something.  And, a cotton bouquet for the former festivals.  As they use to say, "Cotton is King"!  Hard to imagine what a hugh industry this use to be.
 Just so you know, we don't spend all of our time playing, that is certainly an exception to the rule. Transfer week came and we wondered if we would survive! We had  15 who left, and 21 who came into the mission.  It's a wonderful week getting to know the new Elders/Sisters.  Elder Jennings and Sister Stringam leave us for new areas.  We love and miss them!

The following week is always a Zone Conference.  This month it was in five different areas, and since Elder Hess is presenting at each, we have been on the road.  Conway on Tues, Searcy on Wed., and Little Rock on Thurs.  This Wed we will be in Memphis TN, and Thurs in West Memphis, AR. The mission decided to fund a project that Elder Hess wanted to do, and so at each conference the missionaries are assembling a medical kit for their apartment.  A companionship picks up 12 different items for the kit, and each one has multiple uses.  It's hard when someone calls you at 9:00 at night and they need an over the counter medicine or thermometer and they don't have what they need. Elder Kearl, our AMA did this in his area, and he said that it was saving lots of doctor visits and money because there is self-help right away so things tend to not escalate into a doctor visit.  The missionaries seemed excited and grateful for the kit.  You know Elder Hess, he trys to keep things light and add a bit of humor to his calling!                                                                                               
As usual, I wanted to share some thoughts from our President Hansen. "You cannot play in Babylon all day and then go out and teach in Enoch at night and have the Spirit with you."  He stressed complete obedience to the mission rules, and promised miracles if they would.  When talking about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, he reminded us that they were not mediocre in their faith, their love, and their stand with Jesus Christ.  If you could sit in one zone conference during a testimony meeting, you would never doubt what a converted missionary can accomplish.  The light and love that they radiate as they bear fervent testimony brings you to tears.  When one after another stands and says that they will never doubt or turn away because they know their Savior, and they know what the Holy Ghost feels like, they know how He speaks to them.  They Know.  Pres. Hansen, "at my disposal I have 182 faithful, full time recommend holding, Sabbath keeping missionaries under my keys of authority. We will go with Angels as we do the Lords work.  We are so lucky to be engaged in His work, God be thanked that He trusts us enough to do His work."  "The more we love something, the more we will seek for it!  What is the value of what we are seeking? 
This is Elder Sorensen, and this is the building where the Brinkley Branch (really a twig) meets.  It is well over an hour for the Sorensen's to drive each way each week, and they drive a 1990 something Astro Van!  He sincerely hopes that it will hold up while they are here.  He is the "Car Czar" and spoke about car accountability. To make a point about keeping the cars in good order, he told about going to the Ogden Temple the night before the demolition began for it's remodel.  He was part of a large group of people who went to clean the temple, and leave it in pristine condition.   Sister Hansen spoke about Obedience and Charity. One Sister shared how she had prayed and prayed for charity for a young mom they were teaching.  Every few days the mom would run away and be gone for a few days.  She would eventually return home and teaching would resume, only to have this repeated and repeated.  As Sister J. prayed to have charity for this investigator, the Lord told her, "you see a mom who keeps running away, but I see a precious soul who keeps coming back!  
It's getting late, and I'm about to crash and burn, so it's off to bed.  Just remember, when you are having a very bad day (like the driver in the picture) or you keep looking to the past,
Chin up and look heavenward, Heavenly Father is just a prayer away!

Love to all,
Elder and Sister Hess

Sunday, July 30, 2017

                                                                                                                  July 30th, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Hey, whats new with all of you??  I thought Missionaries where suppose to get letters from their family?   We visit the Saturday River Market whenever we can, and always find new things to buy and eat. This week I saw boxes and boxes of these long, purplish pods and asked what they were. Purple Hull Beans; so I bought some to shell myself and try them out.  They taste sort of like a black eyed pea.  The seller said to boil them up with a bit of bacon grease, so that's what we did! The machine below is a sheller they had set up for those who wanted to buy them ready to go.

And, while we are speaking of food, we finally found a place to buy some Boiled Peanuts!  They were hot and salty, and so yummy!  We were at a gas station about 75 min. from our apartment and saw the sign and decided to get some.  They were cooking in a large crock pot (unlike the ones we bought years ago from the roadside, boiling in a large witch's type pot) on a small table inside.  Next to the pots was a damp towel and books laying one it, one of them a Book of Mormon.  Sister Sorensen and I looked inside and on the inside cover we could see that the book was from Ivon Faulkner who is the First Counselor to our Mission President!  We thought that was pretty neat.  Pres. Faulkner lives another 75 min. East from where we were.  It had been raining that day, so someone had laid their books out to dry.
These two lovely Sisters were on exchanges, and were staying at one of the Sisters place. She lives in a small house.  On this particular night, they had gotten in around 8:00 and were discussing their day and planning for the next.  They hadn't locked their door, and as they sat there, someone tried to open the door.  One Sister jumped up and locked the door.  They were super scared, but nothing more happened.  They called their Zone Leaders and ended up driving to another area for the night.  Through their prayers, they have not felt good about returning to this house to stay, so they have been moved out of the area and guess they will put some hefty Elders in there. Before this decision was made, Elder Hess and Elder Hartzell had gone to a Good Will store and bought two baseball bats, some pepper spray and a small brace/lock for their door.  Sister Gray, the one with the gray T-shirt said that was all that she needed, a big baseball bat!  Can you read her funny shirt?? "NOT TODAY SATAN, Not Today! Sister Gray was best friends with Gabby Barnes before her mission, and is from MacCammon, ID.  It is so important that missionaries keep the Spirit with them at all times and for all reasons.  Likewise, we need to keep Heavenly Father's Spirit with us, at all times, and for all reasons.  A quote from Preach My Gospel: "The principle of accountability is fundamental in God's eternal plan. We will all stand before the Lord at the last judgment and give an accounting for what we have done with the opportunities He has given us."  Pres. Monson adds, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates."


We drove to this beautiful park a while ago with the Sorensen's.  So many lakes and forests to explore, but we still should stay on the paved paths!!! More about that later.  We decided to rent a paddle boat for an hour, and wondered if that would be enough time to look around.  The Elders started out paddling, but that didn't last long!! We switched places and had a lovely 30 minutes before Sister Sorensen said, "Time to go Back".  Guess none of us are in very good shape!
 Such great beauty all around us!  Part of these pictures are from a place called Garvin Gardens, another place we visited on this same trip.
 It rained on and off that day, and luckily the real down pour came before we got out of the car.  This garden is one you pay to get in and encompasses  many many acres.  Some areas were planted with species from different regions of the world, and one particular  part was all done on a fairy scale!
  



Well, you get the idea, and I even took more pictures!  It was funny to see the fairy chapel and then the Devils Snuff Box.  Always there is that Good verses evil conflict.  Someone just lately reminded us of the quote that Pres. McKay saw on his mission: "Where er'e thou art, Act Well thy part."  And, 3 Nephi 27:27, "....Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."
 We pass this church every time we drive to the Mission Office, and the billboard  always has something catchy written on it.  One of the youth in our ward spoke last week about attending Youth Conf. She said that she hadn't wanted to attended, but she was encouraged to go and she was so glad that she had.  These are her words, " when a group of LDS youth enter a room together, the Spirit echoes through the room.  They are all trying to get to the same place, they have the same goals, the same fights (struggles) and youth conference for me has been a refresher for my soul."
Our Office Elders!  They drove from Memphis early one morning and brought the office a treat!  These are such good missionaries, and are always helping us out. They run all of the errands, transport others for medical apts. deliver furniture, buy supplies, go to the dump, fix vacuums, buy new washer and dryers, just to name a few things!  When it comes time to close an apartment, they box things up, clean it up, and bring us any media that has been stashed there, and I mean sometimes the stash borders on hoarding! This is a portion of what they brought back from just one apartment!!!

Now, the rest of the story from the walk we went on when we were at the lake. Mon morning Elder Hess woke up with a few bites on his legs, no big deal. Tues, more bites, and Wed., even more bites!  We counted them and found over 30. I circled them with a black marker and his skin looked like it was dotted with sliced black olives.... We thought we had better count them to see if he had more new ones the next day.  I had like three bites, and we were so afraid that they were bed bugs, ugh!!! We called our Bed Bug Elder and asked his advice, sending him pictures of those skinny legs, Elders Hess', not mine. He thought that they might be bed bugs, although there was no itching with them.  We started the horrendous bed bug protocol outlined by Elder Thompson.  First you wash everything and then dry it twice on high heat; bag and seal it all up. Whatever you can't wash or dry on high, you bag and seal and stuff it in your car to heat up there.  You wipe down your bed frame, baseboards, dressers, and check every crack, crevice and seam in every piece of furniture, mattress and box springs.  Luckily we have special sealed bags on our box springs and mattresses to protect them.  Wipe everything down with pine sol.  Clean and de-clutter as you go.  Out went quite a few things, and counters were cleared and all food stored away.  We had even gotten up one night with flashlights to check the bed for any of those creatures, actually got up twice that night. Sat. morning after everything was loaded in the car, we turned off the AC and I sprayed the special stuff around the apartment.  We drove to the river market for a few hours while things dried.  Then we got to come home and put it ALL away!  So much fun.  In the middle of the week I had asked the O.Elders to drop off the special spay at the apartment; on a day when E. H. stayed home.  We were so embarrassed to admit that we may have B.Bs!  I finally told Sister Sorensen what our fears were, and she stuck out her leg and said, "You mean like these bites?  Elder Sorensen came out of his office, pulled down his sock and asked, "you mean like these bites?"  What a relief to know that we were not alone.  Now we were suspecting that we all had the same thing, and not B.Bs!  But, we had already begun the protocol, so we continued on to the bitter end.  Well, not quite to the bitter end, if it had actually been B.Bs, there would have been a period of time we would not let anyone come to our apartment, be very social, and we would have completely emptied our apartment. (not partial like we did, although we couldn't have fit much more in our car)
Can you believe the size of these hydrangea blossoms! This is one of our favorite Sisters, Sis Povey from Randolph, UT.  
Well, it's late and we have a busy, busy week with transfers.  Sis. Sorensen and I have made our usual 7-10 dozen treats for the missionaries who will be spending most of the day at the church where the mission office is.  They will be waiting for their new companions and also for existing companions to return from the temple trip in the morning.  On Tues we have 22 new ones arriving, and that means dinners and training to help with.  They come with such light in their countenances, and wonderful Spirits about them.  Today in Sacrament meeting one speaker reminded us that "The Spirit is the only way we can come to know Christ." John 16:13 ..."He will guide you into all truth..."

We leave our love and blessings with you.
Elder and Sister Hess

Saturday, July 15, 2017

                                                                                                          July 14th, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,
How are all of you?  Sure would like to hear from you now and then....It's been a crazy couple of weeks with Pres. Wakolo leaving and President Hansen arriving.
          This Crepe myrtle tree comes in multiple colors, and they are everywhere, so beautiful!
President and Sister Hansen arrive at the Mission Office.  They are such good people, very prepared to take reins of the ALRM mission, and so down to earth and personable!  We love them already! We all had Larry's Pizza together that day, and Pres. didn't leave until he had placed a Book of Mormon and invited some young family to have the missionaries stop by their home.
And, Look at that!  Sister Hansen and I are the same height!

 This picture doesn't do justice to the myriad of flags that one church can display!  People here have a love for the flag and display it proudly.  Today on an outing, I saw a very large sign that read, "Welcome to God's Country. Proud to be an America, Proud to be a Christian!  Wish that I could have caught the rest of it before we sped by. Signs with scriptures, thoughts and mention of God on them are frequent here in the South.  You see the 10 Commandments posted on public grounds, something unheard of in other states. July 4th our ward hosted a Flag raising ceremony, pancake breakfast, and then a flag retirement/burning of the well used and loved flags. I had never witnessed one before, and it was a respectful, reverent event as we tossed in the stars and stripes we were each holding.
 After closing the office late afternoon, the Seniors hosted a dinner for Pres/Sister Hansen and the missionaries from our area.  Here the Elders show off their $ Store socks and glasses.  Elder Maskovich, Jennings and Hall.

 At 9:00 pm we hurried off to find some fireworks, and did have a good view from the Walmart parking lot of the Sherwood display.  It was a good 4th of July, but we did miss being at the rodeo and getting those swellings in our chest as Old Glory flies around the arena from horse back.
One Sat. Elder Hess and I visited the AR Historical Museum.  This small city block in the middle of Little Rock is home to some original homes and businesses from the mid-1800's.  This was a store/print shop. Like the Corn husk broom?? What a hard way to keep your floors clean!

Pieces of 8 set out at the old "Grog Shop"
As usual, the grounds were filled with flower gardens and a beautiful vegetable garden by one of the homes.  We saw what must be the largest magnolia tree every!!


 Later that day we walked across one of the many bridges (an old railway bridge) that cross the Arkansas river, and snapped a shot of some details of the river.

 
Free Trolley rides during the summer.....and it takes you through the River Market district of Little Rock, over one of the bridges into North Little Rock, and includes a narration from the conductor pointing out the highlights and history of the city.  Gus's famous fried chicken was recommended, so the following Sat. we made it our afternoon destination.

Gary finally got his fried chicken!  Later we found out that we could have order "Chicken and Waffles", a southern treat, or so we have heard!  Special here included 4 pieces of spicy chicken, Cole slaw, beans and a slice of bread.  I slipped off to the Farmers market while we waited for the food, and had to be careful not to buy more than I could carry back to Gus's!  One of the vendors just knew that he was giving me a great bargain on peaches, $10 for 10 Alberta peaches.!!  We sure did enjoy the fresh peach pie we made later in the week though...  

President and Sister Hansen were eager to meet all of the missionaries so they had a Meet the President in five different areas.  Last week he held a special Leadership training for the Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Sister Zone Leaders.  We provided a nice lunch for them, and at the top of Pres. list was Root Beer Floats!  His whole career had been with Darigold in Washington State, so dairy is at the top of his must have on the menu.  The missionaries loved them! In some of the Pres. instructions, he reminded us that in life, and as disciples of Jesus Christ, "We may need to let go of some things to have the time for what is most important, our relationship and knowledge of our Savior, and 2nd our family relations should top the list."  He talked about the need to purify our self as a sure way to have the spirit with us. We do this by making prayer a priority, and realize the need to prepare to pray.  He likes to sing a hymn in his mind before his prayers, and to also ask what to pray for.  "Prepare to approach the throne of God in prayer".  "Immerse ourselves in the scriptures, all the answers that we need can be found there." Third was service. "Be 100% in! Don't bench ourselves through laziness and ease.  and last, be obedient, completely  - because we want to be, not because we have to be." President left us with a wonderful group blessing, promising us many things if we would be "completely in". 
 If you can't tell, I LOVE taking pictures of all the varieties of flowers here in AR.  I sometimes think that seeds from the Garden of Eden must have blown outside of the garden and planted themselves here for us to enjoy.
 Don't know what everyone else is paying for gas, but we are happy with the price here!

Sounds like Breakfast at our house when the kids were all small, Elder Hess always wanted his Corn-meal mush OR his Cream of Wheat, which would have been frowned upon during the war.  
And, when considering  - "Leave nothing on your plate, how would be feel about eating this?

Whoops, picture is upside down, but how about some "Chicken Paws" for Sunday dinner???  Many times we have driven passed this church, and have wondered about it...
And, since we know that This Church is true, it can't be that That Church is true. "Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you unto all the world unto every creature." D&C 84:62  It is our duty as Disciples of Jesus Christ that we open our mouth and share the "Good News". "Open your mouths and they shall be filled," D&C 33:8 "For there are many yet on the earth...who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it...." D&C 123:12 "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face,, I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." D&C 84:88
Go ahead, stick your neck out there and invite someone to attend church with you.  Invite them over for dinner, and have a meaningful conversation.  Who knows, maybe that person has been waiting their whole life to be invited, to be included, to be shown where to find truth and light.  Share with others the peace and serenity that comes from having those basic questions answered. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going.
We love you all,
Elder and Sister Hess