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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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

                                                                                                               August 6th, 2017
Hello Family and Friends,

 It took me a while, but I finally found the name of this flower.  It is listed in the "27 Jaw Droppingly Beautiful plants that will get your neighbors talking"! It is a Purple Passionflower, and it's cousin, the blue version, is actually listed in the 27, guess the purple one is more common.  I have never seen anything even remotely similar to this delicate, multi layered delight!  I'm still trying to decide if the 5+ new mosquitoes bites were worth the walk and picture of these. The bites take forever to go away! Although, a bite from this 250 pound Alligator Snapping Turtle may take longer to heal!!
Our Trusty Office Elders bring us a yummy treat on their return drive from Memphis...Such great Elders  E Maskovich/Jennings.  (Dressed to clean out an apartment)

One weekend the four couples drove to Memphis to check out some sights.  We first went to a place called Slave Haven.  The home was used as an "underground railroad" for slaves escaping North and belonged to  a white business man and his family who had emigrated from Germany.   It was very interesting, and we even went down into the cellar where the people would wait for their chance to head North. It was a pretty damp, dirt floored area; very small and not tall enough to stand up if you had any height. 

 We spent about 2 hours looking at and listening to the history of the plight of the slaves.  One interesting thing our guide told us was that the Burkle family brought the first magnolia trees into TN.  They planted two in their front yard to be an alert to those fleeing that this was the house to come to.  According to our guide, this tree does not shed their leaves, and so served as an easy identifier.
Sister Green took the picture, so she is not shown.  She and her husband were former service missionaries who worked in the office.  Next we drove down town for lunch.  So many places to choose from, but we headed to BB Kings. It was SO full, and SO noisy, that we chose a different place.  This busy street is the center for street artists, music, eating, and lots of people.  

  Hey Max, check out this guitar! Fun sights and atmosphere.

After lunch we visited the Cotton Exchange, the bustling center for the cotton trade back in the day. (just like a mini wall street)
You can see the way it use to look, minus the couple of tourists!

A hefty sized cotton bale, and bound so tight, you would think it was wood or something.  And, a cotton bouquet for the former festivals.  As they use to say, "Cotton is King"!  Hard to imagine what a hugh industry this use to be.
 Just so you know, we don't spend all of our time playing, that is certainly an exception to the rule. Transfer week came and we wondered if we would survive! We had  15 who left, and 21 who came into the mission.  It's a wonderful week getting to know the new Elders/Sisters.  Elder Jennings and Sister Stringam leave us for new areas.  We love and miss them!

The following week is always a Zone Conference.  This month it was in five different areas, and since Elder Hess is presenting at each, we have been on the road.  Conway on Tues, Searcy on Wed., and Little Rock on Thurs.  This Wed we will be in Memphis TN, and Thurs in West Memphis, AR. The mission decided to fund a project that Elder Hess wanted to do, and so at each conference the missionaries are assembling a medical kit for their apartment.  A companionship picks up 12 different items for the kit, and each one has multiple uses.  It's hard when someone calls you at 9:00 at night and they need an over the counter medicine or thermometer and they don't have what they need. Elder Kearl, our AMA did this in his area, and he said that it was saving lots of doctor visits and money because there is self-help right away so things tend to not escalate into a doctor visit.  The missionaries seemed excited and grateful for the kit.  You know Elder Hess, he trys to keep things light and add a bit of humor to his calling!                                                                                               
As usual, I wanted to share some thoughts from our President Hansen. "You cannot play in Babylon all day and then go out and teach in Enoch at night and have the Spirit with you."  He stressed complete obedience to the mission rules, and promised miracles if they would.  When talking about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, he reminded us that they were not mediocre in their faith, their love, and their stand with Jesus Christ.  If you could sit in one zone conference during a testimony meeting, you would never doubt what a converted missionary can accomplish.  The light and love that they radiate as they bear fervent testimony brings you to tears.  When one after another stands and says that they will never doubt or turn away because they know their Savior, and they know what the Holy Ghost feels like, they know how He speaks to them.  They Know.  Pres. Hansen, "at my disposal I have 182 faithful, full time recommend holding, Sabbath keeping missionaries under my keys of authority. We will go with Angels as we do the Lords work.  We are so lucky to be engaged in His work, God be thanked that He trusts us enough to do His work."  "The more we love something, the more we will seek for it!  What is the value of what we are seeking? 
This is Elder Sorensen, and this is the building where the Brinkley Branch (really a twig) meets.  It is well over an hour for the Sorensen's to drive each way each week, and they drive a 1990 something Astro Van!  He sincerely hopes that it will hold up while they are here.  He is the "Car Czar" and spoke about car accountability. To make a point about keeping the cars in good order, he told about going to the Ogden Temple the night before the demolition began for it's remodel.  He was part of a large group of people who went to clean the temple, and leave it in pristine condition.   Sister Hansen spoke about Obedience and Charity. One Sister shared how she had prayed and prayed for charity for a young mom they were teaching.  Every few days the mom would run away and be gone for a few days.  She would eventually return home and teaching would resume, only to have this repeated and repeated.  As Sister J. prayed to have charity for this investigator, the Lord told her, "you see a mom who keeps running away, but I see a precious soul who keeps coming back!  
It's getting late, and I'm about to crash and burn, so it's off to bed.  Just remember, when you are having a very bad day (like the driver in the picture) or you keep looking to the past,
Chin up and look heavenward, Heavenly Father is just a prayer away!

Love to all,
Elder and Sister Hess