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Sunday, April 30, 2017

                                                                                                      April 30, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,
 I had wanted to get closer to take a picture of these flowers, but the sign on the gate said, BEWARE of Dog, and yes, there is a big dog on the other side of the fence, and YES, we did set him off when we approached the yard! We try to strike up conversations with people when we get a chance, and we were hoping that someone would come outside so we could ask them about these flowers, and then offer them a pass a long card.  :)  However, that same day, we choose a different path to walk on, no cement or walkways here, just mowed grass/weeds and bugs, and we ran into this guy!
 His name is Michael, and the yellow/black boa's name is Jackie; she costs $750 and only constricts Michael's neck to a certain point then stops,....or so he says!  We learned by far more than we ever cared to know about his pet! He would quote a scripture one minute, than tell us in the next breath of his 161 IQ.  Quite the fellow, but gladly took a pass along card.
For those of you wondering, yes, we have been getting quite the rain storms!  As of last Thursday, the rainfall has been 81.57 inches so far this year!  And that doesn't even count the hugh storm we had Sat night.  I went outside to record the sound of it plus the thunder, but messed up and recorded me and Gary trying to fix the umbrella after a part fell off, not too interesting.  The thunder and lightening were super impressive and scary.  The alarm went off several times, power went out too, but quickly came back on.  Parts of the mission earlier in the week had outages over night.  Woke up to that thing going off at 6:00 am!  

These are the Elders and Sister serving in the North Little Rock area.  Left to right, Elder Geddes, Bleazard, Jacquez, kuchin, Arbon, Sister Burk, Stringam, and Elder King.  Great group of missionaries, we love them all.

 One set of Elders want to put out this sign and then have the office couples do the tours!  We told them that we probably had plenty to do, but they insisted.  Guess we will see how it goes.
Elder Hess had a wonderful Birthday, and he said that the very BEST part was getting to talk to his family!  He received lots of great cards, and enjoyed the day.  He did get his wish for a Cherry Chocolate cake that we took to the office to share with everyone.  

Lots of fun treats, new tie, movie, shirt, gift cards and $ for a maritime museum!

Some of the young Elders decorated the office, and it was very festive.  President and Sister Wakolo called early that morning to sing him Happy Birthday.  Sister Wakolo came into the office later that day and we were thanking her for calling.  She said, "I thought American's liked to be sang to on their Birthday, but we were not getting a very good response when we called the missionaries."  Then she said they realized that they need to call from HER phone, and not the Presidents!  Missionaries would see his number come up and think, OH, NO, I'm in trouble!  

 Most days when we go into the office, Elder Hess works from a class room for privacy, so some artistic Elder put up some crepe paper, balloons, and left a cheery greeting!

 As part of Elder Hess's Birthday, we decided to go to Memphis to Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.  We and the Sorensen's  left Friday late afternoon and arrived around 6:00.  Had a nice dinner at Piccadilly, a cafeteria type restaurant, and then fell into bed before 9:00 pm.  We had prayed for good weather despite the predicted 65% chance of rain, and we were not disappointed!  The sky was overcast, temps in the high 80's, but not rain until after we pulled into North Little Rock on Sat!! Like the sign on the parking lot of our hotel??
 This is Graceland, a most beautiful and peaceful 14 acres of grass, trees, and flowers.  We were given headsets and an tablets for a narrated tour of the home, surrounding buildings and grounds.  The home was built in 1939 for his Aunt Grace, Elvis bought the home and refurbished it in 1957.  We enjoyed the tour, looking at his airplanes, and many, many cars and other toys.

Look who else enjoyed the tour!  
One of the displays with his Gold Records and awards.  Elvis was quite the charitable person, and donated time, money and talent to many others.  

 We didn't know that Elvis had a twin brother Jesse, but he was still born.  Elvis was his parents only child.  He, along with his parents, and Grandmother Minnie Mae are buried at Graceland, with a marker for brother Jesse included.

The King of Rock and Roll lives on.....or, maybe he will die out as 95% of the visitors we saw were over 60!

I don't know the significance of this fountain, but I do know that it reminded me of the Love that our Savior has for each of us.  Today for the 5th Sunday, our Bishop talked to us about being a more inclusive and watchful ward.  He wrote this sentence on the board,  "I am not a_______________."
He asked that we each personally fill in the I not a good Visiting Teacher, a good Home Teacher, a morning person, or whatever it is that we are not good at.  He then asked us to change the behavior that was not good.  Do we need to become a morning person in order to read and pray at the beginning of our day?  Do we need to become a more patient and loving person to those around us?  Are we not a Sabbath Day keeper?  Then become one.  A pretty simple challenge for each of us to improve.  The Saviors arms and love is inclusive to and for all.  2 Nephi 1:15, "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my sou from hell; I have beheld His glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." and in Alma 5:33, "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and He saith: Repent, and I will receive you."  

Have a great week everyone, and we send our love and prayers to all of you!

Elder and Sister Hess

Sunday, April 23, 2017

                                                                           April 23, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,                                                                                                                          
Hope this finds each of you well and happy!  We have really had the up and down weather this past week, in the 80's one day, then rain and cold the next day....lots of humidity too!  One thing we have noticed is that food doesn't stay as fresh here, not even in the fridge.  
One Sat. afternoon we and the Sorensens visited a small historical park, "Reed's Bridge." It is one of many such parks, all preserved in tribute to a different memorable battle from the Civil War.  The wording listed in such sights are carefully written to portray the South's proud heritage, and "almost" justification for their way of thinking during that bloody time of war. Like I said, they are carefully written, but they are always proud of their soldiers, their bravery and their cause.  We walked around the beautiful site and enjoyed the wild flowers, slow moving creek, farm land in the distance, old log cabin and outdoor cooking hearth.  The Battle on Bayou Meto took place on Aug., 27, 1863. Sister Sorensen and Elder Hess check out the facilities of that day.



On our late afternoon walks we breathe deeply and continue to love the sights and smells of this little park.  Each time I pass this part on the path, I think of the Sacred Grove, and imagine Joseph Smith kneeling in a similar place; the morning sun shining through the trees and shimmering off the dew covered leaves.  We occasionally stop to speak to a fellow walker or more often than not, a dog walker.  This week it was a police officer on his patrol bike, just making his rounds.  He talked about a former neighbor of his who had a son that was best friends with his son.  The LDS neighbor is 
Caden Haws, a 2016 BYU Football Recruiting Class.  The Officer graciously took one of our pass a long cards, and educated us on some of the surrounding plants.  We are so impressed by the kind people here in Arkansas. 

We had two egg dye days, one with the Sisters serving here, Sister Burk, & Stringam, forgot to take a picture!! They colored lots of eggs and decorated some lemon cupcakes.  They brought us dinner!  Later in the week, Elder Jaquez and Arbon came to decorate.  We also made some Rice Krispie nests.

Elder Hartzell wouldn't be very happy if he saw how bad this picture is, ...he was typing at his desk when I said his name and he just swung around when I snapped the picture.  He takes care of all of the finances and apartments for the mission, plus many other things.

 Elder Sorensen keeps all of the mission cars in tip top shape!  What a headache for him,  The cars have Tiwi's installed that monitor the missionaries driving.  We hear him make calls that go something like this...."Hey Elder Ray, I see that you've been driving in the Red"!  That means that he has been speeding and it is recorded and sent as a report.  There is constantly someone in getting their oil changed, tire fixed, rotated or fresh dents being taken care of.  He is on call as is Elder Hess, and anything car related he takes care of.  He also buys the new cars and sells the ones with too many miles.  The mission purchased a new truck for the office Elders to use in all of their moving missionaries and furnishing apartments.  I think it may have been only 2 weeks old and it had a cracked windshield and dented fender; whoops!  Poor Elder Jaquez!
 Sister Hartzell above, is the one who broke her right wrist.  Here she is on her Birthday with the Office Elders.  She, too, has a big job to do, so many little details in the letters to the incoming missionaries, letters for all leadership positions every six weeks, updates to addresses, phone lists, Bishops, Stake Presidents and parents for each Elder and Sister.  She checks on all drivers licenses to make sure they have not lapsed. Makes a hugh outgoing binder for departures, keeps the Presidents schedule updated, assigns morning devotional for the office, and much more.  Then Sister Sorensen on the left, she has even more to do in my opinion!  She takes care of all the letters and packages that come in.  Each package and letter has to be forwarded on, recorded and then a follow up to see if it arrived.  She takes care of all the media ordering and distributing.  Each day missionaries call in for Book of Mormons, Bibles, pamphlets, pass along cards and anything else related to teaching.  She organized the board that you see below by zone and area with a coordinating color.  We recently when from 5 zones to 10 to expand the work and opportunity for the missionaries.  What it gave Sis. Sorensen was an expanded challenge to make all of the necessary changes as it affects everything.

We recently drove to the Memphis Temple, and many flowers were blooming along the freeway as you can see.  Don't know what they are, but they are beautiful! Below you can see a Remington Firearms Plant. It caught our eye the first time we saw it.  We will have to check it out to see if they give tours.

On the warm nights we like to open our patio door for some fresh air.  The patio is actually a cement slab, about 5x8 feet, and has a wrought iron fence around it.  There is no screen for the door, so as you can, a night time visitor came to call!  In the morning Elder Hess could hear a rustling sound in the corner by his desk right next to the spider trap.  Guess this little guy thought he had found some easy pickings in the trap.  

We had big plans yesterday, but the weather changed all of that for us.  Maybe later on we can drive to Mountain View for a music festival.  Yesterday was cold and rainy, so we wondered what to do. Some near by Sisters called to say that one of them was in a lot of pain from a jogging accident the week before so we drove the 15 min to their apartment to check on them.  Such sweet Sisters, just trying to do their best, and one with an injured knee.  We had gotten her some crutches earlier in the week, unfortunately, she is one of those accident prone people! She is waiting for an MRI on Monday, and we are praying that she won't be another missionary that has to go home for medical treatment.  The other sister, Sister Povey, is from Clifton ID, near Preston.  After we got her some pain medication, and Elder fixed their light on the fan in their front room, (something he is very good at) we drove back to North Little Rock to check out a Farmers Market on old main street.  It was the first day for this season, not many vendors, but it was so fun to find.....cilantro pesto, an ancient form of white corn meal, some raw honey and good grass fed beef.  We made a haul!

This is the clinic that we drive to every week for Elder Hess's infusions.  It takes about 20 min if the traffic is good.  The Hospital campus has it's own exit because it SO VERY LARGE.  It is Baptist Memorial Hospital, and Elder Hess says that it is the "Mothership" of all the many Baptist hospitals in AR.

I like this quote from the April Ensign: "Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace:thereby good shall come unto thee" (Job 22:21) "Building a strong relationship with Heavenly Father is key to experiencing peace and happiness here on earth. When I don't talk to my Heavenly Father and listen to His voice through promptings, scripture, and modern-day revelation, I am cutting myself off from the happiness and blessings I could receive from Him."  
We love you and we pray for you,

Brother & Sister Hess

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,  Another beautiful week has passed in North Little Rock, AR!  What a beautiful state, and everything is in full bloom and just about completely leafed out.  We found a wonderful trail for our walks, and we try to use it 2-3 times a week.  It is .8 mile one way, paved path, creek meandering along side, flowers blooming and fragrant.  We always look for someone to give a pass along card to, people are so very kind and gracious!  Most everyone here has a deep love for the Savior, and belong to one church or another.  We just hope to share the complete truth with them.  

Elder Hess enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  When I have to be in the office, he usually comes along, but sets up his own little office in a classroom.  He has to have some privacy for most of what he does, and I appreciate him coming with me.  
 This Strawberry farm is called Hollow Bottom Farm.  The berries are picked fresh, sometimes while you wait!  The line to buy them was quite long when we pulled up last Sat., and when it was our turn, we did  have a short wait.  Soon, a van pulled up with the side door open and out jumped a couple of young women with buckets of the freshest berries ever!  Big, beautiful, and juicy, what a treat.
The week before was General Conference, and we LOVED listening, learning, and being inspired.  It was so wonderful to see and hear from President Monson!  He bore such a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon with these words.  "This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives.  The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated."  I had to give the spiritual thought one day last week at prayer meeting, and I used Pres Monson words and some of Elder Stevenson's talk - Look to the Book, Look to the Lord.  He says, "stand and bear a witness of the Book of Mormon, you will feel the spirit of confirmation.  The Holy Ghost will speak to your heart."  I know that this is true, it happened on Wed.  The Elders had asked Elder Hess and I to go and teach with them.  Elder Hess was not able to go, but I followed the Elders to a older home in a pretty rundown part of town.  We met Jamie Shelton, a bubbly young women, maybe 19 years old.  She is a caretaker of an older women and had met with the missionaries a couple of times previous.  We thankfully sat at the kitchen table, and not the older cloth furniture. (one of the bed bug precautions) The older women Jamie takes care of is a recent convert that attends our ward.  Jamie is a jewel!  She has such a firm testimony and faith in Jesus Christ.  She had not had time to read from the Book of Mormon, so we started at the introduction, reading a paragraph and then discussing it.  As you all know, a sentence in the first paragraph says that it:  ...contains.. the fulness of the everlasting gospel.  It talks about ..."the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ,....the plan of salvation.  At one point during the discussion, Jamie stopped us to say that she had such a calm and peaceful feeling at that very moment.   We explained to her what she was feeling, the power of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to her that what she was hearing and being taught was truth.  We all felt what she was feeling, and like the Conf. talk I referred to, you can have that same witness when you stand and bear testimony of the Book, or when you read, ponder and pray.  Elder Stevenson asked that each of us give up some of our social media time and devote that time to the Book of Mormon.  "You will pore through the passages of this precious book and encounter your beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ on nearly every page." Within the books pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God.  As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you.  As you look to the book, you look to the Lord."  Jamie wants to know the truth, she said that if the Book of Mormon has the complete gospel, that's what she wants to have.  She has her challenges, her mother hates Mormons, and has some misconceptions about what and who we are.  If Jamie can get her mother to agree, she will call me for a ride on Sunday.  

We were eager to attend one of the Zone Conferences this week.  It would be the first time we would see President Wakolo since General Conference when he was made a 70, a new General Authority.  When Pres. Uchtdorf said his name, Elder Hess and I wondered if we had heard it right.  Sure enough, we saw him walk to the front when they were asked to be seated on the stand.  He came back to AR a changed man in a way.  He has always been a good and devoted Mission President, and a master teacher of the scriptures, but he came back with more humility and a softness that I noticed.  When he was meeting with the General Authorities, he asked them this question:  "What can I do or not do to help you sleep better at night?"  Think of it, he was not thinking of himself with this new calling, and what a burden it must have felt like at first, but he was thinking of the 12, and how he could be an aid to them.  I was really impressed with that question.  We could all ask it of ourselves when thinking of our leaders, our family, etc.  What can I do to help you sleep better at night.  So kids, make your parents worry a little less about you by being your best, trying your hardest, and being on the Lord's side.
We hope that each of you have a very wonderful Easter, and that you will feel of the Saviors love for you.  Thank Him for His precious gifts, His Atonement and His resurrection.  He has shown us the path by His example.  If you haven't already done so, please watch  "Prince of Peace" at  You will feel peace, you will feel loved.

Our Love and Prayers are with each of you.
Elder and Sister Hess

Luke 24:6 He is not here, but is risen....
Luke 24: 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

                                                                                                                   April 2nd, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,  A week ago Fri., I didn't have much to do, and I guess Elder Hess could tell, cause he finally said, "Why don't you go to the office for a while and let me get something done!"  As there was nothing for me to do at the office that day, I went shopping, my favorite kind,

One day on the way to the office, I was listening to the news and because of storm threats, the schools were closed.  When I left the apartment, the clouds were Black and ominous, very threatening!  The threat lasted most of the day, but nothing came of it.  Once in a while in the middle of the night, our alert radio will go off with a warning for heavy rain, or wind, large hail, and or tornado.  It went off again today towards the end of Conference.  It does really come down when we get rain!

I wish you could experience all of the beautiful, fragrant Wisteria that grows here.  This is growing wild behind a Dentist office.  I was very excited to see it up close and inhale the sweet smell.  We managed to break off a small branch and take it home with us.  Later that night I went to the Relief Society Birthday dinner and Broadcast.  Sisters had been asked to decorate a table with their choosing, and so I choose the table below, the center piece ringed in Wisteria!

Just a cute shot of a father taking care of his son when his hands are full!  That's one way to get it done!  So much of this Weekends Conference dealt with a parents responsibility to their children, Elder Christofferson said, "to warn is to care, and we need to begin with our own family."  Look at our children as our Father in Heaven does, see in them their potential, see them with eyes of love.  Our homes should be a haven for our children; always act with love.  Elder Rasband, "First promptings are a nudge from heaven," act on them.  Be the Spiritual emergency responders for those around us, those whom we love.  We are on the Lord's errand."

Just couldn't help but go back to the Old Mill for more pictures and renewal.  Each time we go we meet someone new.  We strike up a conversation and ask if they would like us to take their picture for them as they are  trying a "selfie".  We got into quite a discussion with a couple last week.  We were explaining a little bit about the Church, and they about their's.  Come to find out, the man is a Minister for a congregation of the "Fellowship of Christ".  They had lost a daughter in a college fire 5 years previously, and were still grieving  .  Elder Hess and I explained to them the confidence we felt in knowing that we would see Ryan again, and that we and others had had sacred experiences letting us know of the great work that Ryan is doing from the other side.  The other lady expressed her great sorrow in not having that, wishing for something from her daughter.  She seemed more open to our message, and that is about the point in time when her husband mentioned that he was a minister.  Their idea of heaven was kind of vague, impersonal, and would bring a grieving parent no joy or comfort.  How very thankful we are to have the truth, the light and knowledge that God lives, and so will each of us. We are not meant to be alone in the next life, existing without a body, without personality and gender and purpose.  I felt sorry for these parents.

Elder Hess goes NO Where without his phone!  And, calls come at all times and places.  As you can see, he is on the phone, and maybe he is also contemplating about which of the ponds that our Office Secretary fell into!  She and her husband visited the mill after their church last Sunday.  She tripped on the uneven stones and fell head first into one of the ponds!  She cut her forehead, lost her glasses and broke her right wrist.... So, since then, I haven't wandered off to the grocery store in search of something to do :(   Sister Hartzell runs the office like a Sargent, and knows her stuff!  Problem is, I don't know her stuff!!  Monday she didn't come into the office so I was the unsuspecting senior missionary who filled in....We did what HAD to be done conversing over the phone, and the rest of the week she sat by my side telling me each and every click to make, file to open, word to type, and.....well, you get the picture.  Oh, and 3 pencil/pen combinations, (the right combinations) have to be on her desk and on her computer table at all times. She certainly makes the office run smoothly and efficiently, and now it's up to me to see that it continues under her guidance.  (yikes!)

 I love this picture, and I love this little bit of Heaven.  It is solace to my soul.  My pictures do not do it justice.

Elder Hess is finishing the last of the dishes from the the farewell dinner of the departing missionaries.  We don't usually help with these dinners, but since the Hartzells were out of commission, we helped prepare and clean up.  The dinners are held at the Mission Home, and it is a nice sit down dinner for the Elders, Sisters and Mission Presidency.  (the kitchen help eats in the kitchen after everyone is finished)

These are two Elders that we have grown very fond of; they were transferred two days later.  We had a nice chicken dinner and shared some very touching past experiences with each other; bearing testimony of God's merciful love for His children.   To the left is Elder Hill from Ashton, ID, and Elder Croft below, from Aetna, ID, near Pocatello, Bet he is still rejoicing over the temple announcement today!
And of course, Elder Jacques, our favorite Office Elder from CO.
Many mornings I have driven past this perfect little yard full of glorious color and variety.  I have wanted to take a picture many times, but either I was driving, the light wasn't right, or I would drive past it too quickly.  A couple of days ago Elder Hess and I purposely watched for it so we could stop.  When I stopped, two older ladies were out in the yard chatting.  I picked up my camera and my courage and headed their way.  I need to remember that people in the South are very cordial and accommodating! The neighbor lady excused herself as they been talking at length, and I had the owners full attention.  She showed me each treasured plant she had cultivated, cared for and loved.  This dear sister is approaching 90 years of age, and was saying that she just couldn't keep it up like she use to.  She had tall flowers waiting to bloom that she called Apostle plants, blooming Dog wood trees, and how the center of the blossom looks like a cross, and her host of hostas and azaleas.  This picture does not do it justice. the upside of this story is, maybe we can get some careful gardening Sisters to give her a hand!  She knew where our church building was, and said she use to have a neighbor that was Mormon.

Elder Hess looks like he was digging deep in the mail box;) but the smile is genuine, thanks Ephraim and Mikey for your letters!!

Some thoughts from Sister McConkie, "Prayer is essential to developing faith.  When the Lord comes again, will He find a people who know how to pray in faith and who are prepared to receive salvation?"   I hope that we can each say, Yes!  "A prayer of faith opens the way to receive glorious heaven-sent blessings. Prayer is a gift from God.  We need never feel lost or alone."

Our Love and Prayers are with all of you.

* One of the Elders told us today that Moses 1:39 is the most quoted scripture in General Conference. Check it out if you don't know what it is.