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Monday, October 9, 2017

Oct 9th, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,
It's Oct 9th, and we are half way through our mission!! We really can't imagine being anywhere else, so we are glad to have another nine months here!  We hope to make it the best half of our time in serving the Lord full time.  Several weeks ago we drove into Little Rock to see the High School where the Little Rock 9, the first 9 black students were being integrated into an all white high school.  The following is a headline from one of the many sites that explains this era.

The 1957 Desegregation Crisis at Central High School

Little Rock Central High School is recognized for the role it played in the desegregation of public schools in the United States.  The nine African-American students' persistence in attending the formerly all-white Central High School was the most prominent national example of the implementation of the May 17, 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. 
 There is a large visitors center that explains exactly what happened and why.  A very interesting period of time, and certainly very courageous teenagers who stepped forward to be the first.  They survived a most turbulent time in our history, and endured daily abuse. 
 This little card is part of the museums displays, and gives you an idea of the hate the nine faced.
We visited on a Sat., and so we didn't get to take the school tour of the actual high school, which is still in use today.  That will have to wait for another day.       


 Our next week was a busy week with 2 Zone Conferences, we had Elder Kearl, AMA and Elder Call, AMHA  both visit and speak at the conferences.  We also had a very large group of new missionaries come into the mission in Sept.  Twenty six new eager Elders and Sisters joined us.  This is one shot of the mass confusion we experience at each transfer/departure/arrival week.  Bikes, luggage, laundry bags, books, packages, etc., litter the office and all hallways near the mission office.  It's no wonder that when the doors finally close and the last Elder or Sister is out the door, we find all kinds of items left behind, and wonder who and where they belong.😇

We always enjoy our outings in Little Rock near the River Market.  There is always something going on, and something new to see.  One this particular Sat., the side walks were being colorfully painted with chalk and paints by artists of all ages.  
We noticed tonight that one of the WY newspapers had a headline stating that 150 miles of WY roads were closed due to a snowstorm!  What!! Today here in North Little Rock, it was 91 very hot degrees!  On the same day as the street art, we saw some innovative people sledding down their own hills!
We had our last temple trip during Sept.  The temple is now closed for renovation and won't be opened for the next 18 months.  What a spiritual feast and experience to sit in the temple with a group of all missionaries.  All worthy Elders and Sisters there to feel uplifted, peace, quiet, and comfort from being in the Lord's house.  This is Sister Sorensen and I after our evening session.
We have wonderful Relief Society Sisters in every stake that fix food and serve the missionaries at each zone conference.  This great bunch of sisters even had this poster made for us to use.  You don't have to be in AR long to know that the people here LOVE their teams!  The Razor Back mascot is everywhere...

After a few days thought, We decided that it would be good for me to head to California for a short visit.  A very colicky baby was making for a very sleep deprived new mama! 
Quick trip, great visit, loved seeing this great bunch of Grand-kids!   And, such a wonderful welcome home from Elder Hess, you would think that he missed me!
As I close this post, let me share with you some thoughts from a conference talk by Sister Joy Jones. "A Sin-Resistant Generation".Heavenly Father has given universal guidelines that will help us...The Spirit will inspire us in the most effective ways we can spiritually inoculate our children...Every day of our lives courage is needed - Perhaps we underestimate the abilities of children to grasp the concept of daily discipleship.  ..start early and be steady...begin at very early ages to lovingly infuse them with basic gospel doctrines and principles - from the scriptures, Articles of faith, For the Strength of Youth booklet, Primary songs, hymns, and our own personal testimonies - that will lead children to the Savior." "Creating consistent habits of prayers, scripture study, family home evening, and Sabbath worship leads to wholeness, internal consistency and strong moral values.  I sometimes wonder why it is so hard for us to realize that it is the small, consistent habits that make the difference in our children's lives.  Sister Jones makes a point of teaching children to "keep their commitments", "There is unusual power in making and keeping covenants with our Heavenly Father.  Teaching them to keep simple promises when they are young will empower them to keep holy covenants later in life....hold your little ones close - so close that they see your daily religious behavior and watch you keeping our promises and covenants. Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate."!    

 This is Sister Keiser.  She left her mission about 3 months ago after injuring her knee.  She went home for knee surgery and recovery.  We were so happy to pick her up at the airport during the past transfer, and she is thrilled to be back.  Here is a sister who had promises to keep, and worked hard to come back and keep them.  She had been taught about making and keeping her covenants. 
On the way back to the mission office, she told us that she had hoped that if the President couldn't pick her up at the airport, that we would be the ones to do so!  How sweet of her, and how thrilled we are to have her back.  The number of sisters in our mission is now at 1/3, up from the 1/4 when we arrived.  We love them, we love their hugs, their smiles, their spirits, and devotion to the Lord's Work!

(Max, now that you are mastering the guitar, you may find the banjo your next instrument of choice!


May the moss not grow under our feet as we go about the Lord's work.  May we be anxiously engaged in sharing the good news with everyone we come in contact with.  May we all be "Believers", true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Love to all,
Elder and Sister Hess

Saturday, September 16, 2017

                                                                                                           Sept 16, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,
It's been a while since we have had time to make a post...and the days roll around so quickly!  As a refresher....three different times Elder Hess and I were promised that our family would be blessed while we are serving!  Once when we were set apart, once in the MTC, and the third time by our first Mission President, Pres. Wakolo.  It didn't take long to know about a very special blessing, but it did take a while for that blessings to materialize.😁  And so, may we introduce you to the newest little blessing in our family.....
Harper Noelle McNair!

Isn't she just a little doll?  Little is actually right, 5 lbs 4 oz, born on August 28th, 2017!  Mother and baby are doing great, Jess is just a bit sleep deprived!  Harper has her days and nights mixed up at the moment.  

 Jess has some good help at home, and the whole family loves holding and cuddling this bundle of joy.  It's going to be so hard not seeing her until she is 10 months old.....
Meanwhile, back to our mission...We had another senior couple come and stay with us for a night.  We are in the same Stake, but live over an hour away from each other.  This is Elder and Sister Wies, and they are living in Morrilton, and are Member Leader Support.  They do a fantastic job with the members and the missionaries, and since the Elders live in the duplex next to them, they get feed regularly!  Elder Wies is legally blind, and gets around amazing well!
We showed the Wies's around Little Rock on Sat...walked across the Presidential Park Bridge, an old train bridge, had lunch at "Forty Two", at the Clinton museum, took the trolley around Little Rock, stopping off at the Arkansas Historic Statehouse, then home to get ready for Stake Conference.
 One of the many bridges from North Little Rock to Little Rock, and picture below is Pinnacle Mountain.  We haven't driven out there yet, but it is suppose to be very beautiful, be over 2,000 acres of Stake Park, and rise the the staggering height of 1,011 feet!
I'd say that we look the part of a Hillbilly, what do you think?  Simply put, the Ten Commandments make us a better person, a better community, a better nation, and a whole lot better world! One of our speakers at Stake Conference was a recently returned missionary.  He told of how his father had died what he was a young boy.  Growing up, his mother had taught him to never give up and so while on his mission his mother passes away.  This young missionary went home for her funeral, and then went back out to complete his mission.  He asked the question, "Why do we fall?... so we can learn to pick ourselves up. Jesus picks us up through the gift of His Atonement."  He went on to talk about how attending the Temple encourages Personal revelation as does daily scripture study. He teaches a primary class and spoke about how even in the simplest of Primary lessons, you find true doctrine and that when you stop and look at life, you see that pure doctrine in everyday life, and everyday conversations.  In speaking about covenants, he reminded us to not only prepare to receive them, but prepare to keep them.
 Elders Sagle from Canada, (can you tell?), and Russell, grandson of Royce and Paula Hoopes.  These are two of the Elders now assigned to a BIKE ONLY area!  They show up at the office now and then with pretty red faces and a bit weary!
Another speaker from Stake Conference talked about her missionary son, and she asked him how he keeps going when things get tough?  He responded in a letter, that she had taught him to "push through the pain and keep going because quitting never accomplished anything!  Good advice. He reminded her of a time when she had told him to....:Grow up, throw up, and get back to work!!  The family had taken on a chicken farm to raise money while the father was in school.  The speaker, the mother, said that the work HAD to be done, so that is how she responded to her son when he said that he was going to throw up!  (think that they may have been cleaning out coops?) He also told his mother "I stand tall with my name tag on!  I remember Who I am, and WHOSE I am!"
 More typical things one would see in Arkansas, vines on the trees, and something my brother Deb and I use to fight over growing up!  Yes, those are chicken gizzards and hearts!  Yummy!!
Another speaker started his talk with a question....."Want Joy and Happiness? then Serve Others!"  His second question, "Is there something that Heavenly Father is not proud of me for?"  One of the Stake Presidency made this statement...."Your agency is not given so you can get what you want, but what Heavenly Father wants for you." I had never thought of that before.  

We look for a new saying on this church sign each month.  So, Jonah 2:2 says, ..."I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice."  I know that Heavenly Father does hear us.  
 Elder May, one of our APs headed home.  What a fantastic young man, ready to take on the world!
And, fried Ice Cream we had after lunch at our new favorite Mexican restaurant!   
And so family and friends, I'm happy to say, that "Every day I'm Servin in...
And as they say in the South, Have a Blessed Day!

love to all,
Elder and Sister Hess

Friday, August 25, 2017

                                                                                                               August 25, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,
The Berries below are called American Beauty Berries.They grow in the South, and are ripe and ready to eat when dark purple. They say that the taste is mild, but slightly medicinal flavored!  So, you may have seen this part of the blog come out earlier....I meant to click on preview, and hit publish instead! So, now I will continue with what I started....
 We have attended 5 Zone Conferences lately, lots of traveling and great days spent with the Elders and Sisters!  We sure love them.  Sister Kerby, Sister with the thumbs up, is another of our favorite. Each time you ask her how she is doing it's always the same, "Just Living the Dream"!  Below is a different zone picture.

Elder Hess doesn't always make it into the zone pictures because he is tied up with something else, or in this case, he was getting ready for his presentation.  The mission approved him ordering a bunch of things for a medical kit for each companionship.  So, at each conference, we had 12 boxes on 2 long tables that the missionaries would walk down and put together their kit.  They loved the kits, and now when Elder Hess wants to know what a sick missionaries temperature is, there is no excuse; they now have a thermometer!  Elder Kearl, our AMA over 9 missions implemented these kits in the mission in Florida that he is in, and he said that they saved a bunch of money because the Elders and Sister could start treating their symptoms earlier. Sorry, I just went back to my last post and see that I already told you all of this, but guess this time I have the pictures to go with it.  You won't notice if you are only looking at the pictures anyway...

In between zone conferences we drove to Memphis for our Wards Temple Day.  This is Jamie, who was baptized in May, and we took her with us to do Baptisms.  She was so excited all the way to the temple, and had looked forward to this for weeks.  She didn't quite have her own names ready, but she did some work for Brother, Wells, also a new convert.  He had his Mother, Sister, Grandmother, and two cousins that Jamie was baptized for.  It was a glorious day! 
A family was sealed that day, and below is a picture of Sister Bowie, and her ASL interrupter. We have several American Sign Language Sisters in the mission, but this is a ward member who signs during church for Sister Bowie and her husband.  We have given the Bowies a ride to church or an activity and we keep paper and pencil handy, and we can text them any questions that we have.

After we left the temple, we took Jamie to the Bass Pro Shop, she had never been there.  We looked around at all of the wonderful displays inside, had lunch, and then took the elevator to the top.  The guide told us that when we reached the top, we would be higher than the Statue of Liberty!  It was rather windy that high, beautiful view of the city and Mississippi River, a bit scary walking out on the Plexiglas looking floor.....just don't look down!  Driving home, Jamie kept saying, "This is the Best Day of My Life"!
Tennessee on the bottom, Arkansas on the other side of the river.

Some thoughts from some of our Sacrament meetings.  "I will strive to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and bring others in so they can receive their ordinances.  The road to discipleship is never smooth or easy."  "Don't discount our trials, we need them, they could be the greatest blessing at the time our Heavenly Father give us them."  Like Nephi said, we need to "Write the things of my soul for the profit of my children."  We heard Elder 'longi bear his testimony after someone spoke about the Lamanites who gave up their weapons of war.  In his very humble testimony, he said, "I was one of those Lamanites who has had to give up his weapons of war, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ has blessed me through forgiveness."  I'm not sure what nationality he is, but before his change of heart, you wouldn't have wanted to meet him in a dark ally!   Another Elder bore his sincere testimony saying..."you know that I like to joke around and have a good time, but I can tell you that I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God!  I've looked in other places for happiness, but you won't find it there."
Lunch time, and the Sisters are Always first to be served!  The Elders patiently wait.  Left to right, Sister Povey from Preston,ID a real horse women, Sister Jones, Sister McNall a Georgia Peach, and Sister Viatai.

And, speaking of food, this was on a menu at the little cafe we stopped at one day, sorry that it is sideways, but you can see that Fried Bologna is on the menu!!
Below, you can see the bugs out here are NOT small!  The moth was outside one of the church doors, and I kid you was at least 6 inches long!  The other bugs were outside of our apartment door, and I swept them into a dustpan, didn't want to keep stepping over them every time we left.    
 We still like to go to the River Market in Little Rock on Sat., and also walk around the river while we are there.  Last week Elder Hess bought a local watermelon, and it was a HUGH one!  He thought he could carry it all the way to the car, but between it's size and the heat, it got quite slippery!  He sat it down to wait while I went and got the car.  We are still eating it, and it has been served at a dinner for 8 seniors, another dinner with Elders, (sending a large chuck home with them) today for dinner, and it's still going strong!  One of the best we have ever had.  On one of our last walks, we ran into this bronze statue of Harriet Tubman.  This inscription is on one side of the base.  Such good advice for each of us.  We each do get weary at times, and need an added push, and that's what the gospel gives us, a gentle, but needed push in the right direction.  I just want to tell each of you how much we LOVE  our mission.  Yes, it gets hard at times, lonesome too, but we can't think of anything more worthwhile to be doing.

We liked this list that we saw at a nature center, and it's a great list.  And, as important as it is to expose our children to all good things in nature, it is so much more important to expose them to the blessings that their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can offer them.  Where else can they find purpose and meaning in their lives?  Where else can they feel grounded and secure when worldly cares and winds beat against them?  Where else can they find strength to fend off the fiery darts of the adversary?   And where else can they find peace and true joy as they navigate their lives to adulthood and beyond.  I am so grateful to have the truth in my life, to know that God is real, His love and sacrifice for us is real, and that His love for us is constant and sure.  Little Katelyn Miller, a 12 year old Beehive, spoke in Sacrament meeting today.  She has made a list of "Things I WILL do", and a list of, "Things I will Never do."  Her advice was, "Live Your List".  Next speaker said,,"We Pray to Heavenly Father with our questions, and He answers us through the scriptures."
   I think that these Elders made that same list earlier in their lives, and now here they are, all missionaries for the our Savior.

 Love to each of you,
Elder and Sister Hess