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Sunday, March 4, 2018

                                                                                                                Feb 24th, 2018
 Dear Family and Friends,
It's been quite a while since I've shared what we are doing! This little tile was laying next to a tree on our favorite path for walking.  There were NOT been many days during Jan or Feb that it was warm enough to get some fresh air. We had temps in the single digits a couple of days, and many days in the low 30's.  Now, we see days in the 60's and lots of sunshine.  This past week we had days of solid rain, pouring rain, and saw many flooded roads at the most inconvenient places!  Our GPS would take us to a neighborhood, only to find out the roads were closed due to flooding.  Problem was, our GPS kept trying to take us right back to the same route...

The biggest news of the year was centered around this event below!  We were suppose to have a Visiting Authority come in Jan, Elder Oaks.  After Pres. Monson passed away, things had to be changed and then came the announcement that for whatever reason, we were having TWO visiting authorities....Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf!  That caused no small stir in the mission, but also meant so much preparation and details to iron out.  Even getting this photo took days to set up; photographer, risers, lights and seating/standing charts.  You can see Elder Ralph in the center back, he's a mere 6" 9' and is always our center. This was the first time that the whole mission was together since last Jan when Elder Anderson visited the mission.  One of the miracles that happened that morning was what we called "feeding the 5,000"!  We planned on feeding the AR side of the mission, about 100 missionaries, and someone else was suppose to provide breakfast for the other half, more like 80 missionaries.  That group boarded a bus in Memphis that morning at 5:00 am to make the drive over to North Little Rock, a 2 1/2 hour drive.  Not sure what happened, but no one had those little sack breakfasts prepared for the trip.  We had just about cleaned up after feeding our side, and in walked the TN side, starving.  Many of the missionaries had driven to Memphis from as far away as 2 hours and had stayed the night before with other Elders and Sisters.  Somehow that cereal, milk, cuties, and hard boiled eggs fed them all, with some to spare. 

Also in this picture is Elder Besheshti, our area 70, and Elder Klebingat of the Seventy and their wives.  After the photo, we all lined up to shake hands with them.  We were suppose to state our names and where we were from.  What a blessing to be that close to two of the Lords chosen Apostles.  This Sat morning meeting was for the missionaries only and Elder Besheshti was the first speaker.  He reminded us that we were sitting on sacred ground that day, and that's what it felt like.  One important thing he said was, "a family can't pull together if they aren't going in the same direction"!  Elder Klebigat told us not to leave this room without  a to-do-list!  And, that you can't love the Lord if you do not love His commandments. Elder Uchtdorf stressed that we become our first convert.  And, if you fail to keep the Lords commandments, at least keep the trust in Him alive while you repent."  "Don't underestimate our potential of ability to achieve.  Elder Holland spoke last, and the first thing he said was, "if you are not keeping a journal, you had better start!"  "It is not our positions or callings that matters, it is the cleanliness and purity of our souls." As missionaries, you are to bear witness of the Savior anywhere and everywhere for the rest of our lives." The gospel of Jesus Christ must be the most important thing in our lives.  Heavens investment in us is eternal, and we can't lose the Shepherds!  In true Elder Holland fashion, this is where he spoke loud, firmly, and with tears and great passion.  He cautioned all missionaries that they do not have the right to damage the image of an LDS missionary when they go home, and that the church thinks they are all perfect. With tears and great emotion, he told us that he has no neutral bones in his body and his last breath will be used in declaring, "It's true, I Love Him"! He left on us an apostolic blessing, "as if my hands were on each of your heads".  I could go on and on, and this was only 1 of 4 meetings that they spoke at. 

This is one of our favorite Elders, Jeremy Jennings.  He is home now, but he was my pager turner several times.  Sister Hansen asked me to play for the missionaries to sing at the Little Rock Stake Conf. when the Apostles where here.  Talk about nervous, scared, and determined to make it happen....I prayed and prayed, practiced and practiced, sometimes 2 hours a day.  It was a challenging piece for me, and I was worried.  The Sunday morning after the song was over, Elder Jennings leaned over and asked me if I felt relieved.  All I could say was, I feel grateful!  Then I looked at him and said, you fasted for me, didn't you?  He responded, "of course".  Could not have asked for a more humble and sincere missionary.

Many of you have probably already seen the photo of the two missionaries on bikes at the MTC.  The person who posted this noticed that 2 angels were also riding with these elders.  We know that this is true as we have seen divine intervention for some of our missionaries when they have been out there doing the Lord's work.  Roll over accidents and they walk away, one car with 3 Elders hit from behind at 60 miles per hour, and no injuries, Sisters on bikes hit by a car and come away with a bruise. Miracles still happen everyday. 
Another real miracle happened during the 5 individual zone conferences during Jan.  President Hansen asked me to present something on emergency preparedness, an upcoming emergency drill and 72 hour kits.....something I do know something about, but certainly not something I feel comfortable doing; talking in front of people.  But wonders never cease and I put together a power point presentation and lived to tell about it without passing out.  The drill that followed showed us many flaws in the plan.

Some Zone Conference shots and the breakfast photos. A not so clear picture of the Apostles... Above, Sister Johnson photo bombing:)
North Little Rock District, plus a valuable Bro. Miller helping with set up for Apostles visit.

For the last Zone Conference, we stayed with some members, and their Great Danes, Nephi and Bella.

The promise of Spring even in January!
True Disciples of Jesus Christ in skirts.

And, back in Memphis, again. What I should say, is Memphis Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas. 

The Poster  was at a museum we visited, and the other picture  is of two dear sisters who had completely followed directions for the emergency drill!  The member whose home they went to took them to Wal-Mart after the drill and filled their backpacks with everything they needed for their 72 hour kits.  Words of the poster describe their dedication and service to the Lord.  This is His work, and it will not stop until it has "swept every clime and sounded in every ear." Standing there so brave and immovable in doing good, they look like modern day Stripling Warriors!  Sisters Shumway and Gunnerson :)
  Crossing one of Little Rock's many bridges on the Last P-Day for a couple of these outstanding missionaries.

Guess that's about all for today.  I love this photo of shoes, wore out in His service.  What a great testament of our lives if we serve Him willingly everyday for the rest of our lives. 

"Those who serve quietly and inconspicuously are “no less serviceable” than those who receive the world’s acclaim. You, too, are part of God’s army. When we understand why we serve, we won’t be concerned about where we serve."

We find great joy in being here in Arkansas, serving the missionaries and those around us.  We try to do our best, and try to have His Spirit with us. The last couple of pictures are of a family that the Sisters have been teaching, and we have been feeding now and then. We made lots of  French Bread Pizza at the church one Sun after meetings, and again, we ended up feeding 6-8 additional missionaries not planned for....but the food held out.

This is the Turner family.  They have had several lessons and the mother wants to be baptized.  She has a lot working against her, so time will tell.  Her husband threatens her, as well as her Mother in law, saying that she will take the kids away from her if she takes that to "that" church.  Multiple, blended family...We helped them move from an apartment to a home recently, and what an eye opener.  We had been warned about being in Jacksonville after dark, and it was all the truth!  Untinet is the mom, then Arausha, Jordan, Brandon, James, Semaj and little Anthony. They had great fun making pizza, wearing aprons, (thanks Astle's) and helping out.  The Turners brought the farewell cake for Sister Shumway.  James (next to Sister Shumway) is the hugger in the family, and holds on tight. Hug your family and hold on tight!  We all need each other, and we all need our Savior Jesus Christ, this I believe, this I know.  The Lord blesses us, watches over us, and can make our lives rich and full when we reach out to Him through prayer and study, pondering and repenting. 

Love to each of you,
Mom and Dad
Elder and Sister Hess

Sunday, January 28, 2018

                                                                 Jan 28, 2018
Dear Family and Friends,
Even though we still have our Christmas wreath on our front door, the season has passed....We drove through this beautiful display of Christmas lights Thanksgiving weekend. It was over a mile long, and just breath taking!  

These are just a few of the Elders and Sisters from the 2 Zone Conference Christmas parties.

 Hawaiian Haystacks for lunch, and it was a "Hit"!  
 Below, White Elephant gift exchange!  Quite the variety of gifts were opened!

One of the biggest highlights of the Christmas season was having Mitchell, Sierra and Ephraim here to celebrate with us. What a wonderful time we had with them, and so fun to have an almost two year old to make the holiday magical.

 We loved the little 4 foot tree that we bought at Home Depot, even came with it's own stand.  We knew that it would be just right for Ephraim to re-decorate and explore.  He loved the colored lights and could name all of the colors.  We had a big Christmas Eve dinner, and had planned on having 2 missionaries join us.  At church that day we found out that it would be six missionaries, so Sierra and I scrambled to change the menu to allow for the increase, and we had a wonderful couple of hours together.  Elder Brownell, Stiles-Culver, Jennings, hidden E. Shelley and Sister Shumway, and S. Vaitai.

Our annual Christmas Eve photo.
This little Christmas Elf was so much fun, and he loved opening the presents...

 Looks like Santa dumped his sleigh in North Little Rock.  One of the sweet Elders found this collection of songs at a thrift store, and wrapped it up for me; so sweet of him.  Thanks Elder Asay!  Elder Hess received a new suit; much needed, and he looks really sharp in it! We LOVED the photo book that Jennifer made, a collection of pictures of all of our family, along with some of their favorite quotes and scriptures.  A perfect Christmas gift!  We will soon have our DNA testing results back.  The generous kids went in on a test kit for us, and we are anxious to receive the results.  Elder Hess keeps saying, we may find that he is the "missing link"😁.  The Christmas phone calls were the best part, we miss and love each of you.  Thanks to all of you thoughtful family and friends out there who showered us with gifts and cards. We so loved hearing from each one of you.  We hope to be better missionary supporters when we are at home...

We spent one very chilly day exploring Little Rock, and the Museum of Discovery.  Mitchell and Ephraim built a Lego house.

 We all tried out the bed of nails, it was quite the prickly experience....

We certainly experienced some very chilly weather the end of Dec and first of Jan; down in the single digits!  Several of the church buildings had their ceiling sprinkling systems freeze, break, and cause some damage.  
 Through it all, this little plant survived, bloomed, and brightened our mornings as we hurried out the door.  Even this can be an example of how we live our lives.  Determined to do what is right, do our best, and blossom wherever we are, and in whatever situation we find ourselves. 
Some of our most favorite Sisters left in the early Jan transfer, Sisters Van Orman, Esplin, Povey, Dayley and Burk.  

See, it actually can snow in Arkansas....well, this is actually the first visible frost we had this year, but it did snow, and the schools were out for three days, a whole week in Memphis. (all for 1 1/2 inches) The office did take a 1/2 show day, didn't want to be out on the roads with all of the crazies...and yes, there was lots of ice under that bit of snow. The Fountaine Bleau fountain wasn't flowing  and took several days to thaw. Transfers had to be pushed back one day due to the road conditions in Memphis, the I-40 is not a fun road to travel at it's best.

Another highlight in Dec was a visit from Elder Donaldson from the Seventy.  Pres. Hansen has begun to worry why so many 70's are visiting the mission.  But, we are 1 of 12 pilot programs in the mission field, so they check up on what's happening with the new technology, smart phones, face book, and  new referral system coming out.  I may have mentioned it.  So, now when someone googles something about religion, the church will have links off to the side that point them in the right direction!  These links give visitors information about the Book of Mormon, if they want to be contacted, or if they would like a free Bible or Book of Mormon.  The mission is expecting this to be a great boost and aid in referrals.  This is Elder Donaldson.  He attended one of the recent Zone Conferences, and Elder Hess and I, along with the rest of the office seniors, were pulled into the meeting to act as investigators.  It was a bit unnerving when he knelt down beside me and the missionaries who were teaching me, to see how they were addressing my concerns, and if they had figured out exactly what my concern was as an investigator.  Those choice Sisters who were teaching me were inspired to ask me what my relationship with Jesus Christ I was explaining to them, you could feel the Spirit enter that tiny group so strongly.  The lesson I learned is that when we bear testimony of the Savior, the Spirit is there, is strong, and touches all those who are in tune.  Pres. (Elder now) Wakolo always reminded us to "connect people back to Christ".  that is exactly what the Sisters were doing.  You know me, I cry at the drop of a hat, and so we shared some tears, and then it was time to move on to the next set of missionaries, a couple of choice Elders.  In those next 2-3 minutes, we were all wiping away the tears as we shared some personal experiences, me again as the investigator. I will forever remember and love those Elders and Sisters.  Thank you Sister Petty and Colwell, Elders Lee and Clayton... for teaching me the importance of bearing testimony of Jesus Christ.  Elder Hess and I look a bit short standing by Elder Donaldson.                 

Just some thoughts from his visit:  Know your audience, your investigators, teach to them; what do they know, what are their concerns?  Seek, observe, Listen, discern, and then teach. Teach the doctrine.  Really look at people, do they have overwhelming stress in their lives, temptations, etc.? Their spirits want peace, answers, they must feel something, especially the good that we can share with them, we must provide that and show them where they can find it.  Help others get out of the D's: depression, discouragement and doubt  Be passionate about what you teach.  These choice servants of the Lord always bring great teaching to the mission, they are very discerning in their individual teaching, and we all learn.

New Years Eve brought the six missionaries back for dinner, darn...I didn't take any photos!
That day in church our Bishop had some good thoughts for us...."Those who wear the gospel mantel more comfortably are those who are striving to improve their lives, they are more confident, more secure in themselves and in their faith.  Those not making any spiritual progress are less comfortable. The spiritual principle in this is that we must work; work on ourselves, our callings, skills, gifts, and our spiritual and physical well being. The next speaker was a sister undergoing cancer treatments.  She made the observation that...where but in the South do people come up to you, see that you are in need of something, and then offer to pray with and for you, no matter where you are - the grocery store, the pharmacy, or in a hospital waiting room. Remember that this is the gospel of miracles, so expect them, pray for them, be worthy of them. 

Are you still with me here....if so, you may want to just google Called to serve in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission.  The emails notices that you get are not the same as what I spend hours putting together, at least it looks more organized in the actual blog format... either way,

We love you and pray for you daily. Please stay in touch and let us know how things are going in your lives.

Elder and Sister Hess

Friday, January 5, 2018

                                                                                                             Jan 5th, 2018
Dearest Family and Friends,

Wow, a lot of time has passed and a lot has happened in the last 5 weeks.  It was an extremely busy time, but such a Blessed time, too.  I was in charge of the 200 gift bags for the missionaries Christmas, and we started early to get everything put together.  I decided to wrap the mini Doctrine and Covenants that Pres. Hansen wanted the missionaries to have, it took a few nights, but that's one sure way to get into the Christmas Spirit, wrap presents and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie!
 Then I bought, counted, sorted, and filled 200 bags with assorted Christmas candy....all the while trying to make each bag come out equal. I enlisted our great Office Elders and we spent an afternoon putting everything in the bags. Mission T-Shirt, *thanks Deb and Marie for your help...candy, D&C, picture of the Savior, a Christmas poem written by one of the Elders, a Christmas card from the First Presidency, and a Flash Drive with one of the 6 performances the Missionaries did during Oct and Nov. "A Missionary Musical Tribute to the Savior".  They were amazing performances, and the Spirit that attended those choirs of 70-80 voices was overpowering at times.  There were many tears shed, testimonies strengthened and borne of the Savior, that the Spirit could NOT not be there.  The Closing song was always, Amazing Grace, a favorite of the South.
We finished up the bags and stored them away alphabetically. After the last transfer, we had to rearrange them all into Zones.
 Another great moment in the mission was when Elder and Sister Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy came to visit.  We had wonderful Zone Conferences, and they taught us all so much.  Some of his teachings include the following: The Savior said that He would MAKE us fishers of men, not Call us to be one.  We are only successful as we let the Lord lead us, guide us. We are His CHILDREN, not His perfected adults.  He talked about the Lord's different weapons of war - fire, wind, earth quakes, etc, and how the Lord likes to stack the odds so that the people know that the battle is His; example would be David and Goliath. The Lord gives us weakness to humble us, and obedience brings blessings. I see that last one everyday in the mission. You can sense what kind of missionary you are talking to if they are obedient and humble. He reminded us of the Stripling Warriors, and even though none of them perished, many were wounded. They had to be brought out of the battle field, and  Nourished back to health, just like we have to nourish those who have lost their faith. In preparation for Elder Robbins visit, the mission was asked to read and ponder of one of his talks, "Be 100% Responsible", given at BYU Education Week, Aug 22, 2017. You will find this a great treasure trove for learning.  Hess Kids, please find it and read it. At the conference, he told the missionaries that they are enrolled in 505 classes here, classes like Diligence, Patience, Good works, all of Christ's attributes. "I firmly believe that a missionary rarely carves out his stature more than when he is on a mission; it shapes your life forever. It is the Best university for Mother/Fathers, Husbands/Wives in teaching us the virtues of Christ." I had about 20 pages of notes from E Robbin's teachings.

 Another highlight of the Christmas season was being the choir for the Forgotten Carols!  We had many many practices, and the full cast did an amazing job.  The ward here does something for the whole community every year, and that was their gift this year. 
 Of course you all knew about the "Light The World" campaign that the Church offered this year.  What an inspired program it is and was, and countless hours and acts of service were rendered because of it.  The special giving vending machines brought in close to half a million dollars in aid.

More thoughts from Elder Robbins: "A problem is a goldmine'!  No problem? No challenge to fix or learn from. Example would be Ammon as he took King Lamoni's sheep to be watered.  Look what that problem resulted in... "Good Samaritan opportunities are not convenient.  Pray to see the problems of those you want to teach and lift.  He told many stories; Missionaries walking by saw a man on the side of the road, his motorcycle wouldn't start. he had tried and tried but to no avail.  After the Elders had delivered their message, the man tried again and it immediately started up. The prophets have told us that their are no coincidences in this work.
Even this picture doesn't do justice to the amount of packages that came into the office for Christmas!  This load came all in one day. The Mail truck delivered this load early one morning, and filled the whole truck! Once again, every package was recorded, tagged with name and zone and placed into separate corners for later distribution. Check out the President office where Elder Hess hangs out...

 We made sure that every missionary received a package, and many wonderful missionary moms helped to fill in the gaps. 
This is one of the reasons that we don't like the drive to Memphis and back, I-40!  Elder Hess has to speak at Zone Conference now and then, and this shot was taken on our last trip back to N.L.R. There can be lengthily delays due to accidents or heavy traffic, and when this happens to the Office Elders in the transfer van, you will find the missionaries out walking up and down the line of cars handing out Books of Mormon, and meeting new people.  You can also find different types of "road kill" along this stretch, even deer!

Hey Deb, this picture is for you....remember when we use to fight over the chicken gizzards and hearts that Mother would fry up for us?  Now we could each get our fill without the fight!

I had to look this one up, couldn't figure out what is was,,,,,Smoked Pork Tail! Looks like it's a bargain. One night close to Christmas, I was checking out at Wal-Mart, and an older "Arkansanian" couple behind me had FIVE large gallon containers of frozen Chitlins that they were buying! Glad I was having turkey and ham for Christmas dinner....
Now this is a Christmas tradition that I can handle!  Sure glad I brought the recipe with me...
Because I am behind in posting, this will have to be in two parts.  

We are so blessed to be on this mission, so blessed to work with 188 other wonderful, faithful, consecrated missionaries all trying to do the Lord's work. We are doing our best to "Speak up", bear Testimony of our Savior, love the people here in AR, and bring souls to Christ.  Because everyone of you reading this is a member missionary, please do the same.  "Perfect love casteth out fear", and we are all commissioned to be missionaries, "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks." Jeremiah 16:21

We send you all our love and best wishes for the New Year.  "Things we don't change will remain the same", Elder Robbins...

Elder and Sister Hess