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Thursday, June 29, 2017

                                                          June 29th, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,  
Thought we better share some of these photos, they are piling up!  It has been a very eventful three weeks and lots of good things are happening! I wish I had a better photo of this tree, it has several names, and the blossoms like like feather fans.  Of course the trees that are completely covered with blossoms are those we see when we are driving by... Mimosa or Persian silk tree.  
One of the small Farmers Markets that we visit helps to fund an old orphanage that I think I have already mentioned.  One Sat the building was open for tours, and we spent at least an hour
wandering through the rooms, halls and chapel, wondering what the walls would say if they could.

The old linoleum floors remind me of what our kitchen looked like when I was growing up.  
 Elder Hess has something to confess.....
 Beautiful chapel with it's stained glass windows!

St Joseph, Father of Orphans, and Foster Father of Jesus

 Have any old pallets laying around?  And, this is for all of us WY gardeners!

 Elder Hess and I drove to Memphis the night before our Zone Conference in TN, we had to be there at 8:30 am.  Elder Hess did a power point presentation on medical needs, and I had to "inspect" all of the Sisters for dress standards.  I was glad not to have the Elders, they had to lift their arms, let Sister Wakolo inspect their collars, cuffs, pits, shoes and pants.  At the hotel we stayed at, they suggested 2 restaurants, and one was Marlowe's Ribs, and they offer free rides in one of their two old pink Cadillacs.  After we had eaten, we noticed the sign above our heads, and funny thing, it was established the same year we were married. :)We were within 5 miles of Mississippi, so we drove far enough to be in that state.
Thoughts from Zone Conf.  "A Bad attitude is like a flat tire, your'e not going anywhere until you change it."!  Pres. Benson said, when obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." "Charity brings the Spirit and helps us connect with others."
Pres. Wakolo had so many good things to say, but one was pretty impressive.  He shared with us that 10 days after his sister had passed away in Fiji, his family finally let him know.  Rather than be upset over this trial, he made up his mind right then that from now on his "trials would become his learning experiences, and his weaknesses his strengthens. "
 S.Povey,Wheeler,Gummow,Minster, and Gray The long and short of the mission!
Sister Wakolo always does a game with the missionaries, and one this time was asking what Pres. one-liners were.  Here are a few...I rejoice with you in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I will never doubt or question my testimony, I am grateful for my eternal companion, she is the 1st counselor to the Holy Ghost, Life is good, This is the plan of Happiness, not the plan of Sadness, and A step away from the world is a step closer to Jesus Christ."  One of Pres. stories - When he was an Area Authority, he did a lot of traveling and when he would return home, it was always with a suitcase full of dirty laundry.  At one point, it hit him that he wanted to return home Clean!  So, after that, he always made sure that his laundry was done before returning, he wanted to return home Clean. At times he would have to start laundry after midnight on a Sunday night, but he did it, just to return home, Clean.  Seniors and visitors at Zone Conference.

Last Zone Conference for Pres and Sister Wakolo and Jasmin.  Jasmin is almost 14, and bore her testimony.  She serves as companion at the mission home and airport when there is only one sister going home.  The Wakolos are headed home to Fiji for three weeks, not to rest, but to do Firesides, Sacrament meetings, visit many of the widows and elderly, and hopefully reconnect with family.  Their 20 year son Glen lives there and they haven't seen him for 30 months.  They will make their new home in Sandy, UT, not the sandy beaches of Fiji as they had thought. Pres., now Elder, will begin his 21 year assignment as a 70.
 Drew and Savannah Stephens, newlyweds neighbors, both in the military, Drew living here in AR, and Savannah in Mississippi until they can get an assignment together.  We have given them each a Book of Mormon.  They are a great couple.
One of the many farmers markets that we like to visit.  Fresh peaches, plums, beans, and even corn this last week.  Oh, and beautiful heirloom tomatoes, varieties of potatoes, and lots of squash!
 We say good bye to some, and see you later to others.  Sister Burk on the right transfers, Elder Ray center flies home to Ammon, ID Elder Jacquez transfers, and tall Elder Kuchin below, home to UT.  Elder Taleni, one of our AP's goes home to Samoa.

 We met the Sister's new investigator, Pam Hutcherson a week ago Sunday.  We saw her and her grandson come into Sacrament meeting looking for a place to sit.  We caught her eye and they sat with us.  Boy, talk about a connection!  She had had one discussion with the Sisters, and felt the Spirit so strongly, that she was NOT going to let anything stop her from attending church that day!  Obstacles were thrown in her path that morning, but she persevered.  The Sisters leaned up and asked us to help her with any questions, or concerns we could see that she may have.  Her grandson didn't look like he felt very well, so I helped him lay down on the bench and covered him with my sweater.  After the Sacrament, Elder Hess got a blanket from the car.  (yes, our church can be very chilly, even in the summer) The first speaker talked about families, perfect talk for the what Pam needed to hear, and then the Sisters sang the most beautiful hymn, page 327, to the tune of Come Thou Fount.  They hummed a verse, sang the words, and then hummed again, all acapella!  It was extremely touching, and long before the end of it, Pam was sobbing!  Those tears didn't stop for the next hour.  We hugged, emptied my purse of Kleenex, and waited for meeting to end so we could talk.  Pam has attended "hundreds" of churches, and had given up on finding what she was looking for.  She told Heavenly Father that she was through, and that she needed Him to send her the right church.  And, you know the rest of the story, the Sisters knocked on her door!  There's so much more to the story, but that's for another time.

During June we had a great deal of rain, more than usual the locals tell us.  Of course this photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful rainbow.  One evening the Sorensen's took us to one of their favorite places to walk in Burns Park.  It is at an old stone quarry site, and remnants of the past industry remain.  As night drew near, we had our first chance to see the magical fireflies!  People here call then lightening bugs.  Part of our walk took us past the flooded Arkansas river, and I happened to catch the sun sitting on the far side.  I hope you enjoy this photo, it is one of my favorite! Mount Pinnacle can be seen in the distance.
This was Happy Father's Day to Elder Hess!  We had a great day, and LOVED all of the special phone calls from family.  We keep you all in our prayers, and thank Heavenly Father for each of you.  One last thing about Pres. Wakolo.  When he interviews departing missionaries, he always asks them, "who will Mom see when you return home?"  Who will she see in 2 months, in 6 months, etc.?  Will she see a converted disciple of Jesus Christ?"
That is our prayer for each of us when we return home, we will all be converted disciples of Jesus Christ. 3 Nephi 5:13

love to all,
Elder and Sister Hess

Thursday, June 8, 2017

                                                                                                   June 8th, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,
It's been a very quick two weeks, can't keep up with how fast the days fly by!  Arkansas has the right soil and climate to grow these beauties; wish the colors came through as brilliant as they actually are.  We see a variety of lavender, blue, and pink shades, Get a look at the size of those mature trees!
We were feeling the need to visit some cemeteries Memorial weekend, so we choose the Little Rock National Cemetery to start with. This memorial place lies on 31.7 acres, and 25,172 souls rest in peace here. (as of 2005)  Soldiers from as far back as the Civil war and forward lie here. 
 "The area around Little Rock National Cemetery was once a Union encampment. The cemetery itself was a plot within the Little Rock City Cemetery, purchased by the federal government in 1866 and was used to inter Union soldiers who died anywhere in Arkansas. It was officially declared a National Cemetery on April 9, 1868 at which time 3 acres were added.
In 1884, an 11-acre  Confederate cemetery was established immediately adjacent to the National Cemetery. In 1938, the two cemeteries were combined, though the Union and Confederate burials continued to be in separate sections."

 As we walked along the sturdy white stone markers, we felt a love for the brave men who fought and died for freedom.  And, we spent a good amount of time placing many, many flags firmly back into the ground.  We would finish a row, only to look down another row, and see that the wind had uprooted a bunch more.  I felt it odd that we, along with only 5 other people visited here in that 90 minute time. Interesting to see how much this tree had grown, encasing this headstone.  There are rows and rows of Unknown Soldiers buried here.

We visited several other cemeteries the same day, and then headed to old downtown North Little Rock.  We happened upon a festival, "African Daze Festival".  We wandered up and down the street, enjoying the music, food, and colorful clothing.  I guess we don't have to point out that we stood out like a sore thumb, and were in the 1% minority.

We were surprised when we found out that Monday, Memorial Day, the office would be closed so the senior couples headed to Hot Springs National Park.  I was expecting something like Yellowstone, but it is actually a historic area preserve to protect the natural hot springs. " Hot Springs National Park is a 5,550 acre park located in Arkansas. It is most famous for its hot springs, a feature that Native Americans have treasured medicinally for many centuries. In 1832 the hot springs were protected by Congress as Hot Springs Reservation. Native Americans referred to the hot springs at Hot Springs National Park as 'Valley of the Vapors'. They have been using the springs for at least 8000 years. (according to Wikipedia)The springs are included in many Native American legends. 
In the 1870s the waters of Hot Springs were being prescribed by doctors for various ailments. Patients were advised to spend a specific amount of time in the tub baths and steam baths depending on the illness.
Hot Springs National Park is one of the few national parks that make up a part of a city rather than being located miles from developed infrastructure.
Major League Baseball used the city of Hot Springs as the location for spring training at one time, allowing players to soothe their sore muscles in Hot Springs National Park when they felt it necessary.
The thermal waters at Hot Springs National Park can be enjoyed by its visitors. The water in the thermal pools is 143 degrees Fahrenheit. There have been a variety of bathing customs at Hot Springs National Park including standing over them to inhale the vapors, lounging in the water, taking steam baths, using vapor cabinets, and even drinking the water.
Silly picture, and I had to make it big enough to read the sign......"I got in Hot Water at Hot Springs National Park!" The six of us had lunch at Granny's, and Elder Hess and I had the Gumbo, pretty good stuff.
After the relaxing day, we met some Elders at their church to drop off media; the ever pressing problem of how to get it to the missionaries in a timely manner.  We and the Sorensen's took the 4 Elders out for Ice Cream and then headed home.  We had the 6 Elders in our area over for dinner, and we feed them Breakfast.  Never knew that some of the Elders could eat so many pancakes!  This is Elder King, he was on exchanges, and then Elder Kuchin. (yes, he is a tall one, 6 ft 4!)
 Elder King, Kuchin, Bleazard, Hall, Ray, Matthew McKinney, member and Elder Jaquez.
Friday was our Senior Social at the Mission Home, and we had lots of good food to eat, and a change to get to know some of the other couples who live on the Memphis side.  We also have apartment couples who inspect the various apartments, and help out in other ways.  They are all service missionaries, so live here normally.  
Just for my benefit, I want to add their names, left to right, 1. Slades, 2. Womack, 3. Pres. & Sis Jones,  4. Lunsfords, 5. Tusieseina's, 6. Thompsons, 7. Presdient & Sis Wakolo, 8. Hartzels, 9. Hess, 10. Sorensen's, 11. Wiess, 12. Shanks, 13. Griffiths, 14. Nicholes, 15. Rasmussens. Side lawn at the Mission Home. We will be looking forward to doing this again in Dec.

From the April Ensign, page 39, "Satan effectively uses his tool (discouragement) on the most faithful Saints when all else fails.  When I begin to feel discouraged, it helps me just to recognize who is trying to get me down. This makes me mad enough to cheer up - just to spite the devil." Pres. Benson gave some suggestions to overcome this, "serving others, working hard, avoid idleness, practice good health habits, seek a Priesthood blessing, listen to inspiring music, count your blessings, and set goals. And above all, as the scriptures teach, we are to pray always so we can conquer Satan." (D&C 10:5) Good advice from a Prophet of God. In this article, Elder Lawrence went on to say, "I have good news for you. The armies of God are larger than the armies of Lucifer. Make sure you are fighting on the Lord's side. Make sure you are carrying the sword of the Spirit."

We had a week of rain, (just what we needed, not) and then this beautiful rainbow a few days ago.  One farmer that we talked to at a farmers market said that he can't get his Sunflowers planted! President Wakolo put this in our monthly newsletter: "Learning and studying the doctrines are critical for all of us.  From Preach My Gospel, he quotes, "that we are to study, believe, love, live, and teach.  Thoroughly learn the doctrines. We show our faith by studying, believing, and obeying God's revealed work.  We diligently search the scriptures to understand the truth. We feast upon them...we search the scriptures to learn...we should study these sacred books daily.  It really does make our day, our week, and our life go a whole lot better.

We send our love and prayers to each of you.  Be a missionary wherever you are, no matter your age, calling, or circumstance.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is True.

Elder and Sister Hess