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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

We had such a beautiful Sat., I thought we would start with our trip to the Old Mill.  For those who know my favorite Movie, can you guess what these flowers are?  They are Azaleas, and they come in different colors.   Remember in Enchanted April how the ladies visited the castle in Italy during the height of the Azaleas?  They are gorgeous!  The Old Mill was build in a park as a tribute to Arkansas pioneers, and christened in 1933.  It is one of the highly photographed areas, and is the site for about 200 weddings per year.  
The tree on the left is called a Red Bud, and you can see the white azalea's behind the mill.  We will definitely be going there again his week, and watch for the rest of the colorful blooming treats.  

Thousands of visitors come each year to view the park in all of it
splendor and wonder.  We saw many families there taking pictures, a wedding party, and one dripping wet girl who made the mistake of trying to cross the rock bridge across a more narrow part of the pond, This mill was actually in the opening credits of Gone With The Wind!

Kids, what would Grandma Hess be saying if she saw Dad hanging out this window?
Ok you get the idea, it's a beautiful, peaceful place.  We watched the ducks, geese and turtles swim, sunbath, and feed.  

One of our Sacrament speakers was a tiny little lady named Sister Wing.  She taught us an amazing lesson on Fasting.  "Fasting reflects our willingness to be teachable, to submit to His Will.  The Lord speaks to us Spirit to Spirit, not to the body as Satan does." Sister Wing gave us a little history lesson on fasting.  During Mike Huckabee's tenure as governor, the Federal government was cutting funding used for the needy.  The governor called a council of 13 different Faiths to see what could be done through churches to alleviate some of the need.  Sister Wing's husband was the Stake Pres. at the time, and he was sent as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints representative.  After some discussion, he said that he could offer a plan that would not cost a church a dime. The other pastors, bishops etc, listened intently  as he described the Law of the Fast.  He mentioned that in our church, the voluntary contributions had amounted to $300,000 in Arkansas in one year.  The other faiths were eager to put it to the test.  Wish we knew the rest of the story!

Each time we drive to Memphis, we find it has been early morning!  And, as you can see, you can hardly see when you are headed East.  The first sign of what is coming is when you see the sun's reflection on the side of the Semi truck trailers that are always on the road; then you round the bend, that there is it
 Wish we could get a good picture of the very large bridge that crosses the Mighty Mississippi as we leave Arkansas and enter Tennessee.  This is view of the sky line of Memphis.
                                     Looks like someone needs to clean their windshield!
 We were in TN to attend a Zone Conference for that side of the mission.  I took more of the rice packs to distribute, and here Elder Hess is helping Elder Sorensen hand out buckets, sponges and a flashlight to each companionship.  The missionaries are asked to wash their car every week, so these items would aid them in keeping their car clean.
 A trio of sisters found a minister of another church to teach.  They meet with his small congregation, about 20 of them, and teach them several times a week. It's an exciting time to be a missionary in the South.
                                                               A group of lovely Sisters.
 I wanted to share of the highlights from the speakers at the Conference.  1.  Don't waste a day or even a minute of your mission, you will never have this experience again.  (Kind of like our life, there are no do-overs when it comes to our time) 2.  Sister Wakolo "my home is not perfect, but the House of the Lord, the Temple, is. Sometimes in life we take 5 steps forward, and 3 backward, but the important thing is that we keep moving forward.  3. Pres. Wakolo, do we have a personal relaionship with our Heavenly Father, or are we just casual acquaintances?  Before our mission president was a member, he did not allow his wife to read the Book of Mormon.  For eight years he forbid it; then a miracle happened and he read the book for himself, and the rest is history.  He is a master teacher of the scriptures, and says that the more he reads, the more questions he has.  He always ends his instruction with this phrase.  "I will never doubt my faith, I will never question or turn my back on the Book of Mormon.  I will never, no never, no never lose my testimony.

 Looks like someone should have moved the chairs out of the way!  Elder Hess and I are on the right.
 This is Sister Gummow.  She lived in Smoot for 6 months when she was a baby.  Her family moved to Afton and lived there for about  seven years.  Some of you may remember Nancy when she worked at Hastings part of that time.

 These pictures don't do justice to the St. Patrick's dinner that was sponsored by the High Priests in our ward.  It was their second annual party.  It began with the Lord of the River dance, and was hilarious.  Each table was beautifully decorated, and each place setting had a personal Irish Blessing. The dinner was  traditional corn beef and cabbage, potatoes, roast carrots, salad and green desserts.
 Didn't get a good shoot of the contest for best Wear-of-the-green by the men, but you get the idea!

The prize for dress, plus for games and quizzes was the chance to grab a handful of gold from the pot at the end of the rainbow on stage. Many Irish tunes were sung, and a "good time was had by all".

      We finally saw a sign for North Little Rock on our outing on Sat., now we know where we are!

One last thought from our Conferences.  Day two Conference was on the AR side, and on both days two professionals from LDS Family Services  addressed the missionaries.  One of their main points was to teach us to never use the phrase....."You make me..........." No one can make you feel anything.  Instead, say, "I Feel..........." whatever the emotion you are experiencing.  I think it can be a very useful tool to use in our families and relationships with others.  Initially the counselors were there to address companionship's and how to get a long better.  But they gave good advice in many areas of a mission. They advised us to pray out loud, it makes our prayers more real and feel more connected to God.  Look for the good in ourselves, and compliment yourself each night.

Our Love and Prayers are with All of You,

Elder and Sister Hess

*Moses 6:60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

Sunday, March 12, 2017


 Dear Family and Friends,
  More Beautiful Blooms this week, and things are more green after the recent rains!  Just waiting and on the lookout for those pesky creepy bugs we keep hearing about! Yikes! Several large visitors though, and I'm saying....Large!      

Our Stake President, Pres. Wing recently spoke about attending a semi-pro fishing competition, In this highly Christian community, the anglers all had different badges on their fishing vests with a scripture reference!   You can pick out the background of many of the converts in our ward in their prayers and testimonies.  Their praise for the Savior is evident and expressed openly.  Listening to their Southern drawl is a treat.

Here is a photo of Elder Hess with the four Elders serving in our area, just love this bunch!  A member in the ward invited them to go, and the Elders invited Elder Hess to come with them.  They headed out early Mon. morning, had a good time, caught minimal fish...

 We have mentioned the LARGE number of church building here, literally on every block.  When we drive into Little Rock we see these two buildings, and the picture in no way does justice to the size of them, they are enormous!  Every time we pass them, I think to myself, "we're passing by the great and spacious building!"
At our Stake Relief Society Women's Conference last week, I had been asked to help with the humanitarian projects, so I didn't get to attend any of the classes.  The projects where a great undertaking, and earlier I had mentioned the Days For Girls Kits.  Do a search with that title and see what it involves and how it is blessing young girls who do not have the personal items that they need.  These kits give them back a week of their life every month.  The second project, (along with the first are on going) was making mats for the homeless to sleep on.  I know some of you have seen and worked on these mats, but they are a great service to those in need.  The sewing picture is less than half of the bee hive of activity.

These cute Sisters were going to come for Dinner on Wed., but then they shared their latest......they had found 2 bed bugs in their, we had them pick up their dinner at our apartment and take it home to eat!  Elder Hess didn't want to take any chances; we don't have the 3 weeks necessary to clean, launder and rid our apartment of those beasts!

Sad thing is, it was a different set of Sisters who brought the bugs with them to their apartment.....
Oh, and they are in the Mission Office, you can see a peek of it.  Several times now members will ask us where we live, we tell them, and their comment is....oh, that's a terrible part of town to live in!  Very reassuring!

            Persistence, determination, adaptability, much like we have to be to be true Saints of God.

In the March Ensign, page 5 there is an article by Pres. Eyring, "Armed With Righteousness".  He asks some very good questions - "How do we arm ourselves with Righteousness and power?" His answer?  Keep the Sabbath Day holy, make and keep sacred covenants, attend the temple, plead with the Lord to apply the Atoning blood of Christ, pray, read, serve, testify and exercise faith in Jesus Christ.  This is the part that stood out the most to me "always remember that we have help from both sides of the veil.  Our allies include God the Eternal Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and unseen armies of heaven.  'for they that be with us are more than they that be with them'".  How wonderful to know that, "We need not fear, God loves His Saint, He will never abandon us."
          May our faith be firm, strong, worn with use, and ready to serve us again and again.

           As a family, read 3 Nephi 5:13, discuss how each of us can fulfill this declaration.

Our Love and Prayers are will all of You!
Elder and Sister Hess

Saturday, March 4, 2017

                                                                                                        March 4th, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

When we go for walks, we walk past this row of trees; one day they were budding out, and the next day.......
Not sure what kind of trees they are, we will have to ask.

We had been so busy, I had gotten behind in sharing a few things.  I may have mentioned that we had a super Stake Conf., a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share a few things that were mentioned.  Elder Thompson said that, "we're not Latter-Day-Ain'ts, but Latter-Day-Saints!"  He told stories to illustrate his point. 1. He had worked tirelessly to help the Cub Scouts decorate a semi-truck sized trailer for an upcoming parade.  They had gone to great lengths to safely construct different scenes, depicting what they had been doing, seemingly impossible things; a climbing wall, archery practice, etc.,  They had worked for days and days to make the float perfect.  That morning it began to cloud up, and the leader was ready to pack it up, and not take a chance on the VERY expensive sound system they had borrowed getting wet.  He started dismantling things, and then looked around him, "where were the scouts?"  He walked to the back of the trailer, and there, gathered in a circle were all of his cubs, kneeling, and each in turn praying for the rain to go away.  The faith of a little child!  The clouds parted over the parade route, and not anywhere else.  

Second story, a single mother came to Elder Thompson, now an Area Authority,  and asked him, "How can I keep my children strong and on the right path?"  Elder Thompson Promised her that if she would read out loud to her children everyday from the Book Of Mormon it would happen, and it did.  The point, is, Latter Day Saints put their trust in Heavenly Father and then act.  

Another speaker talked about how she decided that they had been on an over load of media, and would unplug it all for the summer.  (they did keep 1 phone active)  At first it was hard, and with 8 children, there were various levels of complaint.  However, they all learned something, that they liked each other, it opened up a whole new world of games, work, letter writing, talking, family history, creative meals (no online recipes) reading, piano, family councils.  They connected with each other and as a family.  She said it was Magic that summer.  "Connecting go God and to family fulfills our deepest needs."  Anyone brave enough to try it out?  It may well be what we need!

 I know, I know, I said that I would NEVER visit this place, but we did......and it did have some redeeming points of interest.  (you can see that from the sign on the Clinton Presidential Library. Building is only 152,000 square feet, and cost a mere $165 million dollars!
                               Mock Oval office - how it looked when Clinton was President.  
 Yes, that's Elder Hess and I on Abbey Lane, and below, I had a drum lesson from the famous Ringo Starr!

        Lots of original posters and pictures of the Beatles, along with ticket stubs, and some memorabilia.  

We had a bit of time before we needed to head home, so we stopped by the original State Capitol Building, build in 1835, about the time that Arkansas became a state.  Because the State is so much older than the state of WY, they had displays featuring the Daughters of the Revolutionary War, Daughters of the War of 1812, and Daughters of the Civil War.  So much rich history here.  

One of the fascinating displays in this museum was a room full of guitars made by Ed Stilley.  I have included an excerpt from a book of his life, so read on if you are interested. 

In 1979, Stilley was leading a simple life as a farmer and singer of religious hymns in Hogscald Hollow, Arkansas. Life was filled with hard work and making do for Ed, his wife Eliza and their five children, who lived in many ways as if the second half of the 20th century had never happened.
[In 1979] while plowing his field, he became convinced he was having a heart attack... [A]s he lay there in the freshly plowed dirt, Ed received a vision from God, telling him that he would be restored to health if he would agree to do one thing: make musical instruments and give them to children.
… Beginning with a few simple hand tools, Ed worked tirelessly for 25 years to create more than 200 instruments, each a crazy quilt of heavy, rough-sawn wood scraps joined with found objects. A rusty door hinge, a steak bone, a stack of dimes, springs, saw blades, pot lids, metal pipes, glass bottles, aerosol cans—Ed used anything he could to build a working guitar, fiddle or dulcimer. On each instrument Ed inscribed “True Faith, True Light, Have Faith in God.”
Author and musician Kelly Mulhollan paints a picture of a man driven by faith to make guitars for every child in his area, even though he has no training in instrument design and construction. His instruments are built from lumber-yard scraps and other unthinkable wood choices. The shapes are equally unusual because Stilley would boil the thin oak sides overnight and then bend them into whatever shape they dictated in the morning.
stilley 1.jpg

You can see on each of his creations, the words, True Faith, True Light, Have Faith in God.  On several occasions, people would ask him not to include those words on their instrument, but Ed refused, said it was part of his agreement with God.  Other people would ask him to autograph them, again he said, No.  These creations were made by God. He may have not been a Latter-Day-Saint, but he sure was not an Ain't!
The Cub Scouts in our ward held their annual Fund Raiser, a taco dinner and auction.  We joined in the fun, and while Elder Hess' back was turned, I bid on a cake!  Why is it that the auctioneer doesn't notice who bid what, and then points to someone and says.....Sold! Yep, I bought this cake, and when Elder Hess turned around, he said, "That's not the cake I wanted!"  Oh, well, we paid, we left. Pretty fancy cake, and tasted great, too!  Those round things are cream puffs with spun sugar.  

These fine Elders joined us Sunday night for popcorn and cake!  Elder Bleazard, Jacquez, Croft and Hill. 

This past Thursday, Elder Hess FINALLY got an infusion, the first since we left Star Valley after the MTC!  Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to drive into Little Rock to an infusion clinic to have it administrated.  There are several hospitals less than 2 miles from us, but nothing worked out with those.  Elder Jacques and Croft had dropped off some chairs the night before and we asked them about getting into Little Rock by 9:00 in the morning.  They were not very encouraging, and said that we had better allow more than an hour to get there due to the horrible morning traffic.  They had been stuck on the freeways for an hour at a time in the past, and had us pretty worried!  So, we left the apt. at 7:40 that next morning, and what did Heavenly Father do?  He guided us another way, avoiding freeways almost the entire time!  We arrived at the clinic at 8:10!! Everything went well, and because the phone was not ringing off the hook with missionary needs, we decided to visit a museum that was close by.  

This is the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, also known as the Little Rock Arsenal, built in 1840 after the state worried about an Indian uprising during the Trail Of Tears.  Museum so named because General MacArthur was born here.
 This is actually a Catholic church and school, one of the few we have seen in Arkansas.  Most of the churches are some denomination  of Baptist or other Protestant sect. We will say though, there is a church on EVERY corner, and one in between, too!

In case you were wondering, we have not had any recent tornadoes here in North Little Rock. The zone meetings were cancelled last week due to the danger in the TN side of the mission.  Tornadoes did touch down there, and heavy hail occurred north of us.   Our skies looked pretty dark and ominous that night.

So, this is what our family has been up to this week!  Jess and Jen flying in from CA, Mitchell flying in from Denver, and they are all together in ID to help Anna and family move to ......yes, CA....They arrived tonight. A new adventure begins for them.  

Our Love and Prayers are with all of you.

Proverbs 3:5