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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

Saturday, November 25, 2017

                                                                                                Nov 25, 2017
Hello Family and Friends,

Just a bit of Fall color to start off with!  The hills here are covered in trees, and fall was beautiful, but some of the leaves decided to just shrivel up and NOT change colors!  Still we enjoyed a short side trip to Pinnacle Mountain for a late afternoon walk.
A bit windy at times, but still such a beautiful place.  Hundreds or acres are set aside for hiking, walking and biking.  The picture below lets you guess what Elder Hess is constantly doing no matter where we are at.  Heavenly Father's creations are breathtaking at times.  Such beauty so well planned out and created.  Interesting tree in next picture that Elder Hess is leaning on. The ground is softly carpeted for winter, brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and browns decorate the landscape in maple, oak and various varieties of hardwoods.  Hickory nuts, acorns and others make for a life on easy street for the plentiful squirrels!

 The Zone Conference held mid November was centered around the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ.  President Hansen reminded us that this book has it's own Spirit, and that it was preserved at all cost in Joseph Smith's day.  The book speaks for itself, and when True and Sincere prayers are offered as to it's correctness, you will Know and Believe.  Because of the Book of Mormons power, the missionaries have been instructed to NOT move on with lessons for investigators if they are not reading.  They must first read, they must know for themselves that the book is true!  President gave us each a challenge to start reading from a new Book of Mormon wherever we are currently at, and mark it with an the intent of giving it to an investigator.  You definitely look at things more intently, and thoughtfully as you do this.  Maybe each of you would like to take this same challenge.
We said goodbye to our new friend, Eda Aguilara.  She finished her course here with the Head Start program, flew to Washington D.C. for a few days, then home to Honduras.  She insists that we come and see her after our mission!  Funny how you can get so close to someone in such a short time, and with just a few interactions.  

 Small Zone Conferences where held in 5 different locations.  At each conference, it was a chance for the missionaries to get their flu shot if they chose to.  Elder Schoessler was among the first to get a shot, and he wanted to make sure that his right arm was well flexed before I took the picture!  Wish you could each hear his voice....never heard anyone speak so low.  He had a shirt on from an Elder who had gone home, and the shirt was at least one size too small for him. The tech had a hard time getting his sleeve rolled up high enough.  For those Elders who wore long sleeves, and could not get them rolled up high enough, we would have to retreat to a near by class room so he could remove his shirt.  Several Sisters had to change tops with someone else for the same reason.  We only had one screamer, and two or three near fainters.  Oh, and Elder Schoessler keeps in shape and swallows 13 raw eggs every morning for breakfast!!
One of the touching parts of President Hansen's message for the conferences was this....He likes to get up early, around 5:15 to read, pray, ponder and worship.  He says that he likes to do this so as to "set the heart beat for the mission.  That way when the missionaries wake up at 6:30, the Spirit is set in place.                                                                                                 
Somehow here it is all about the Food!  And, our waistlines are showing it big time!!!! We ate at a little diner one Friday night and had their special, Fried catfish!I didn't take a picture of our own food, so some friendly customers next to us obliged. There is one difference though, we split one dinner, and still couldn't eat all of it! You can see what two dinners look like, catfish, fries, hush puppies, beans, coleslaw and friend green tomatoes. (A dieters delight) A local church was providing Gospel music entertainment that night.  Elder Hess made friends with the band leader, and was promptly asked to come up and take a turn singing.  E. Hess assured  him that the older sister playing the piano would not know any of the songs that he knew, and so declined.  
We've seen so many beautiful Star Valley sunsets posted on Face Book, here is one of ours in Arkansas.  The church /mission office is on the right.
 We can't ever complain about the amount of leaves we rake up at home!!! Piles line the streets everywhere, and very large clear bags are stacked in large piles on many streets.  Elder Hess often wondered if there wasn't some type of machinery that just sucked up all of those leaves.  Well, we found out that is just the case for some it is, sucking up and mulching all of those mountains of leaves!
Elder Baird turned 80 years old on Wed, and his wife of 1 year had secretly asked all their families, friends and ward members to send him a card.  She was shooting for 80 cards.  Well, it took a few days after his birthday, but at last count, he had 85 cards!  That's a whole lot of love and postage...
 Thankful baskets, one from a ward member to us, and the second one from an elders family to the office.  Very thought people, we are grateful.

One of our Sacrament meeting speakers talked about our loving Heavenly Father and how He does not condemn  His children when we make a mistake, just as we do not condemn our own children when they make a mistake.  So, don't condemn yourself when you make a mistake, Elder Cornish said, "Don't be so hard on yourself", just be humble and repent."  He said that we need to add Repent to the list of Primary answers that we always give.

 Our missionaries participate in a ward talent show after the pre-Thanksgiving dinner.
 These little guys are strewn along many paths here in AR.  The missionaries call them gumballs, but we call them dangerous.  One fairly new Sister stepped on one while out jogging and ended up going home for knee surgery! 
 Our friends the Rasmussen's head home to Alpine Utah.  Such good missionaries!
 Remember that saying about "objects may appear larger than they seem"?  Well, it IS large! Whatever it is....
 Quite some time ago our granddaughter Juliet sent us this little missionary girl.  Her name tag says,
Sister Juliet Wutkee!  What a treasure.  We hope and pray that everyone of our grandchildren will serve a mission.  It's the best experience for giving them a head start on life. What a blessing serving a mission is.

Most of the Seniors that had Thanksgiving dinner together.  New couple, Tippets, Wies, Sorensens, and Bairds.
Our High Councilmen Bro. Smith spoke of his conversion at 15 years old.  He said that when he realized that a member of the Godhead walks with us everyday, he knew that he had to be baptized. Makes one think, doesn't it?  Elder Hess and I was reading this week in Hebrews 6.  It was like a tender mercy reading  verse 10...."For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (continue reading) Sometimes it helps to be reassured that you are on the right path, doing what our Father wants you to do...I felt His love.
Here's a labour of love for a companion, a steadying hand from Elder Hess, and a cheering section as backup!
As we walk this path of life, let us walk it together, following in our Saviors footsteps, holding the hands that hang down, lifting a heavy burden, cheering the weak, and most of all, sharing the
                                                                    "Good News"
I'm sure by now that each of you know that the campaign to "Light the World" will bring you your Best Christmas Ever!  Visit and see how you can light the world for 25 days starting Dec 1st.  It is our goal to follow our Savior and do our part to "Light the World".  As families, please record how you do this then share it on social media, and help flood the earth with something worthwhile.
 Hope your Thanksgiving Holiday was filled with all good things, good food and family.  We love you all,

Elder and Sister Hess