Monday, December 23, 2013

We Are Leaving for Home!

Not exactly - that is - leaving for home. We are taking a circuitous route via Israel and England! But we have only four more days till we do leave. A year and-a-half certainly goes by quickly! And we leave with mixed emotions of the highest degree!
We love our mission, and especially the Young Single Adults (YSAs) we have had the opportunity to serve. And we also love the Nicosia Branch members we have had the opportunity to serve! So we are very torn about leaving all those whom we love.
On the other hand, we have waited all our married lives to get the opportunity to go to Israel and we are really ready to go there! Our dream of a lifetime is soon to come true!
So let the celebrating begin, we are on our way home! Somebody tell Caroline we are on our way! Goodbye Cyprus.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Downward Spiral

Well folks - here we go on the downward spiral! We will be in Israel three days after Christmas! All our plane tickets and hotel reservations are confirmed for the two week tour(s) of Israel and England. We have now officially decided we can get "trunky"! Ha! That's the Mormon missionary term for, "I cannot wait, I am going home!" We have so many plans of things to do after we get home:
1. See all our kids and grandkids!
2. Go to Cholo's to eat.
3. Go to COSTCO! Ha!
4. Go to Disneyland!
Gosh! There are so many things we want to do - I'd be really challenged to write them all down!
At any rate we are winding down with our duties here in Cyprus, and saying our 'goodbyes' to all. This is going to be hard, because as all missionaries do - we have become so attached to the people here!
We can now see that we will never have time to do all we wanted before we depart for Israel. There are so many events scheduled for December.
First - Our final CES/YSA Conference here in Cyprus, December 2-5. We will be hosting the CES/YSA couple from Athens, Greece and our Area CES Director as well. We will be finishing up all the CES business here on the Island and for Athens too. Neither couple are being replaced. Instead the church is sending one YSA couple to do the work both in Athens and Cyprus. Interesting idea. We'll see how it works out.
Second - The Nicosia Branch Christmas Party, December 14th. Lots of food and fun at the Nicosia Chapel.
Third - The Nicosia District Zone Christmas Party, December 20th. Again, food, fun and a trip to the retirement center to sing Christmas Carols and read to the residents. Always a lovely party!
Fourth - The Nicosia Branch Christmas Program and Farewell to President and Sister Vargas. A beautiful program with lots of Scripture reading and Christmas hymns and songs.
Fifth - The Nicosia Cyprus Branch Missionaries all get together for three days of celebrating. There will be delicious food, games, movies and memories to be made! Maybe a trip to the Troodos Mountains if there is any snow.
Then on December 28th at 10:30 PM our flight leaves from Larnaca, Cyprus to go to Tel Aviv, Israel! Where we will stay 10 days, then off to England to visit Sister Michelle Wu in Leeds, England, and the Nicholls family in London, England. After five days we will return home on January 11th to LAX Airport via Heathrow Airport in England.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Biblical Family Tree

This is for all the doubters who do not believe one can trace his/her family history back through Davidic lines:
Possible Descendance from Adam and Eve via King David
Each entry is supposed to be the son or daughter of the previous entries. Subentries are used for people with multiple wives.
Alternatively, consider the Tree of Life website for some "non-biblical" genealogy....
Adam (0-930 after creation, 3760-2830 B.C.E.) and (Chava) Eve. Children: Cain, Abel, Seth, Azura. Genesis 2-5.
Seth (130-1042 after creation, 3630-2718 B.C.E.) married his sister Azura. Children: Enoch, Noam. Genesis 5:3.
Enosh (235-1140 after creation, 3525-2620 B.C.E.) married his sister Noam. Children: Cainan, Baraktel, Mualeleth. Genesis 5:7
Kenan (Cainan) (325-1235 after creation, 3435-260 B.C.E.) married his sister Mualeleth. Children: Mahaleel, Rashujal. Genesis 5:9.
Mehalalel (395-1290 after creation, 3365-2470 B.C.E.) married Dina daughter of Barakiel. Children: Jered, Danel. Genesis 5:12.
Jared (460-995 after creation, 3300-2338 B.C.E.) married Baraka daughter of Rachujal daughter of Enoch and Noam Children: Enoch, Azrial. Genesis 5:15. Enoch taken up to heaven and transformed into the angel Metatron (11c. English manuscript)
Enoch/Chanoch (630-1422 after creation, 3138-2773 B.C.E.) married Edna daughter of Danel. While alive Enoch was a shoemaker who was completely devoted to God, and he bound the lower and higher worlds together as he stitched shoes. Bible uses the phrase he was no more instead of he died suggesting that he ascended directly to heaven, accordingly he was transformed into the heavenly scribe, angel Metatron. Enoch is associated with Elijah in Jewish mysticism. Children: Methusela, Barakil. Genesis 5:18.
Methusalah (695-1664 after creation, 3073-2104 B.C.E.) married Edna daughter of Azrial. Children: Lamech, Rakel, Eliakim. Genesis 5:21.
Lamech (882-1559 after creation, 2886-2109 B.C.E.). Genesis 5:25. Noah and Naamah First man to be married twice (with 'Adah and Tsilah). Killed Cain.
Noah (1064-2004 after creation, 2704-1754 B.C.E.) married Naamah (Genesis 4:22) daughter of Tzilah and Lamech son of Methusael son of Mehujael son of Irad son of Chanoch son of Cain. Flood occurred 1664 after creation. Children: Shem (father of Semitic people), Japheth (father of European people), Ham (father of African people).. Genesis 5:28-10:1.
Noah and Naamah Shem (1564-2064 after creation, 2204-1702 B.C.E.) married Sedeqetelebab. daughter of Eliakim son of Methusalah. Shem is identified by Rambam as Malchizedek king of Shalem (=Jerusalem). Children: Arphaxad, Elam, Asser, Loeb, Aram, Gec, Hoel, Gheter, Mechec. Genesis 10:1, 10:21, 14:18-20.
Arphachsad (1666-2069 afer creation, 2102-1664 B.C.E.). Genesis 10:22.
Shelah (1701-2104 after creation, 2067-1634 B.C.E.) married Muak daughter of Kesed. Genesis 10:22. Eber (Neber) (source of Ivri or Hebrew) (1731-2161 after creation, 2037-1573 B.C.E.) married Melka daughter of Madai son of Japheth. Children: Peleg, Yoktan. Genesis 10:24.
Peleg (1765-1974 after creation, 2003-1764 B.C.E.). The dispersion following the story of the Tower of Babel occurred shortly after Peleg's death. Children: Reu, Kaber. Genesis 10:25, 11:16
Reu (Ragau) (1795-2002 after creation, 1973-1734 B.C.E.). Genesis 11:18.
Serug (1827-2027 after creation, 1941-1711 B.C.E.). Genesis 11:20. The governor of Ur , who, following the Gutian occupation, founded the 3rd Dynasty of Ur. Children: Ur-Nammu, Ur-Engur, Ur-Nahor.
Nahor (1857-1976 after creation, 1911-1763 B.C.E.). Genesis 11:22. Children: Sulgi, Dungi, Terah (Turgi)
Terah (Turgi) (1886-2131 after creation, 1882-1677 B.C.E.) married Amthalah = Amethelo Or Unk. Born Ur Kasdim. Died Charan. Manufactured idols. Children: Haran, Nahor, Abraham. Genesis 11:24-11:32. Abraham and Isaac by Rembrandt Abraham, Sarah and the Angel
Abram (Avram) (b. 1948 after creation, 1812 B.C.E., d. 2123 after creation, 1637 B.C.E.) (changed name to Abraham [Avraham]). First Jew. Brith beyn Habetarim 1996 after creation. Left Charan, 2003 after creation. Entered Canaan (Cna'an) 2013 after creation. Circumcised (first Brith-Milah) at age of 99 (2047 after creation).
Some of the details in this section come from Alex FINKELSTEIN falizwim at inter.net.il and his website.
Married (1973 after creation) Sarai daughter of Haran. (changed name to Sarah). Born 1958 after creation, d. 2085 after creation. Child: Isaac.
Took Hagar as concubine 2033 after creation. Child: Ishmael (2034-2173 after creation).
Took Keturah as concubine 2088 after creation. Children: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, Shuah. Genesis 11:26-25:8.
Details from Matthias Storm - Isaac Blessing Jacob Isaac (Yitzchaq) (b. 15 Nisan 2048, d. 2228 after creation, Chevron). First Jew circumcised at normal age of 8 days. Sacrification (Aqeydah) occured 2075 after creation. Isaac married (2088 after creation) Rebecca (Rivcah) (b. 2078 after creation, d. 2207 after creation) daughter of Bethuel. Children twins: Jacob and Esau (Esaw) both born 2108 after creation. Genesis 21-28.
Jacob and Laban Jacob (Ya'acov) (b. 2108 after creation, Canaan, d. 2255 after creation, Egypt, buried in Hebron [Chevron]). Jacob left Canaan and entered Charan 2185 after creation where he worked for his uncle Lavan. On his way there, an Angel changed Jacob's name to Israel. Jacob and his sons returned to Israel. He left with his family to join Joseph in Egypt 2238 after creation.
Jacob first married (2192 after creation) Leah (b. possibly 2164 after creation, d. 2214 after creation) daughter of Lavan
Children: Judah (b. 15 Sivan 2195 = 1565 B.C.E., d. 2314/2324 = 1440 B.C.E.),
Reuben (Reuven) b.2193-d.2317(1567-1443BC),
Simeon (Shim'on) b.2194-d.2313(1566-1447BC),
Levi (b. 2195 after creation = 1565 B.C.E., d. 2332 after creation = 1428 B.C.E.),
Issachar (Yesaskhar) b.2197-d.2319(1563-1441BC),
Zebulin (Zevulun) b.2197-d.2307(1563-1453BC), and Dinah b.2198(1562BC). Moishe MILLER moishe at langsam.com claims to be a descendant of Issachar.
Jacob next married (2192 after creation) Rachel (b. possibly 2164, d. 2209 after creation) daughter of Lavan sister of Leah.
Children: Joseph (Yosef) b.2199-d.2309(1561-1451BC),
Benjamin (Beniyamin) b.2208-d.2317(1552-1443BC).
Yathirah was Benjamin's twin sister and died young.
Jacob had two children by Leah's maidservant Bilhah (also daughter of Lavan?): Nephtali (Nafthali) 2198-d.2331(1562-1429BC),
Dan b.2198-d.2323(1562-1437BC)
Jacob had two children by Rachel's maidservant Zilpah (also daughter of Lavan?):
Gad b.2198-d.2323(1562-1437BC),
Asher b.2198-d.2320(1562-1440BC) Genesis 25:26-29:33.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Trunky? You Bet!

Today it became official. We are going to fly home from London on 11 January, 2014! We already have our airline confirmations! We received them via email today from the Mission Travel Office in Utah. Very excited and sad at the same time!
We leave Cyprus for Israel on 28 December, 2013 where we will stay for eleven days (two of those days are travel time). After we are finished there we will fly to London for a five day stay, with a stop in Leeds to visit our missionary, Sister Zhang Wu. (AKA Sister Cute!)
All our travel plans to London have been finalized and we are just waiting for our hotel confirmation via our travel group to Israel. We are excited to be included on the Daniel Rona Travel Tour to Israel. Daniel Rona was born in Israel and he and his son Steven are the only LDS tour guides certified to lead tours there.
We searched diligently to find an LDS group we could travel with and were so fortunate to sign up for this tour, because it was in the exact time frame we needed. The next tour isn't until February, which is long after we were scheduled to leave Cyprus. Plus - the tour that Rona Travel provides is exactly what we want to see, since it is highly doubtful we will ever return to the Middle East. We are very pleased with all this and the way it has turned out. (Daniel Rona - right)
Most of you know we were scheduled to leave the mission on 6 January, 2014, but we were given permission by our mission president to leave two weeks early in order to meet our tour group in Israel and because we were called to serve our mission a month earlier than we had planned. We are also not being replaced by a CES missionary couple, so that makes a huge difference as well.
We are happy the new YSA couple will be able to take over our new flat that we have been enjoying for several months now. It is truly a find for the price and they will be very comfortable living in it. We also just got our new mission car about a month ago - a brand new Opal Corsa. It isn't even broken in yet, it runs well and after having a seven passenger van for so long we are grateful for the ability to park almost anywhere - which is SO difficult on the Island of Cyprus!
I will probably only make a few more posts here and then I will preserve and close this blog, since we will no longer be serving as missionaries, thus closing a most important chapter in our lives. Thanks in advance to all of you who have followed our blog and been supportive of our endeavors to serve the Lord.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Mission is Winding Down Now

Here it is the end of October 2013 and our mission is winding down. We have done everything and more than we were sent here to do. The blessings have been unbelievable, and our cup runneth o'er! It will be strange not to have the blessings of being full-time missionaries any longer. I hope our health and stamina will continue so we will be able to enjoy our time at home with family and friends. We hope to be able to attend more social functions that we had to miss while we were gone. Re-connecting with our children and grandchildren will be delightful. And we will be traveling quite a bit as well. We have several places we need to visit such as Utah and Arizona, middle California and some other exotic places, such as Oklahoma! Ha!
We have made our plans for traveling in Israel and England and just about have everything set for that. Of course visiting Michelle in Leeds England is a priority, and we may visit a couple of other places as well, we do not know just yet.
In June after Ewa-Solange graduates from high school we will be taking her on a long church history tour as her graduation present. Our present will be to have her all to ourselves to spoil and fawn over. We will never have the chance to have her alone with us for a period of time again, so we really can't wait for this to happen. She may not appreciate it as much now as she will when we have passed on, but we know she will like being with us at least.
I began this draft around the end of October, since then there have been some major changes in our life. We received an urgent text from Greg one evening (early morning for him) in which he told us Miguel had been admitted to the hospital for chest pains and wasn't doing very well. We waited several hours to hear back from him because it took his doctors quite awhile to complete the necessary tests and to admit him to CCU. It was still several days before we actually knew what happened, and even now, four weeks later he finally has enough information to understand what occurred.
We know now he actually did have a heart attack, but a major contributing factor to his chest pains was a genetic syndrome called, "Myocardial Bridging". He was put on several major heart medications and after nearly a week was sent home to begin recuperation and to wait for therapy to help overcome the damage to his heart. Now, four weeks later he has obtained a new heart specialist who says he was on all the wrong medications and is not being treated correctly. He has told Miguel he will have now live the rest of his life on a Vegan diet and change his sedentary lifestyle. He has already begun walking the dog (Gus) again. He has returned to work, but his employer is making certain he doesn't have any work overload because of the stress involved.
We are so sorry to see such a mega change in Miguel's life, I mean, whoever dreamed our son would have a heart attack at age 42! And we are so glad his new doctor feels he can help him completely recover and just learn to deal with the "Bridging".
We are also sorry because Miguel and Greg cannot come to Cyprus to join us on our trek homeward. We had such plans to share this Island with them. But Miguel cannot fly just yet because of the stress that it would cause his heart, so he has asked us to go on without them and enjoy our trip to the max and share it with them via pictures and descriptions. So we are going on to Israel.
We will be in Israel for eleven days and then we will travel to England to meet with Michelle (Sister Wu)and visit London for a few days. Then we will go on home to the USA to meet our family and friends once again - which will make us so happy!
We will also be able to spend some time with Miguel and to give him lots of hugs and kisses!!
We leave for Israel on 28 December, 2013 and expect to arrive back in Los Angeles around 9 January, 2014. Viva Israel!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CES Conference in Romania September 2013

This conference was very special as there will never be another one. So we are grateful to have had this last experience with our counterparts from many other countries. The church is heading in a different direction for CES and YSA and many of us will be the last of our breed. As for Greece and Cyprus we will not be replaced with CES couples, this has been a source of disappointment for us because of all the great work the Lord has allowed us to do. Both with our YSAs in southern Cyprus and with the others in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We have been coordinators of the CES effort here on an Island that is divided into two separate nations, and as you know the church is not recognized, nor sanctioned by the TRNC. We have had to go there without wearing our missionary badges and have had to perform our duties quietly and have been made to sorrow for the YSAs there without any connection to the church except though us. It has been one of THE most remarkable experiences of our lives together.
I will not attempt to identify those in the picture because they will have no meaning to anyone but us - but you can see us clearly. Our time spent together was remarkably spiritual, and the bonds we've made as missionaries in the great CES program of the church has been phenomenal. We shall never forget one another, we are linked together forever now.
None of us will be replaced, and that in itself is sad to me. But when the Lord's leaders take us in a different direction it is always better, we just have to wait and see what will come.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Long, Hot Summer!

We are finally saying goodbye to our last long, hot summer in Cyprus. The early mornings and evenings are cooler, but it is still very hot during the day time. We are grateful for the bit of rest from the heat. Today was spent sitting at home waiting for the the car rental agency mechanic to come and check out our car - this time it is very serious, the brakes have gone. We have had to have two new alternators put in the car, four new tires and countless other mendings. Apparently Avis Car Rentals finally felt we have a lemon and gave us another car to use permanently, a KIA. However, we will be receiving a brand new car (not from Avis - rather, Church owned) sometime this month. It will be CES issue, so it is a micro-mini car - an Opal Corsa. But it will be useful for the next few months we are still here.
In fact - we leave our mission here on January 9, 2014 - less than four months from now. Unbelievable!! My how it has flown! We are happy to have been here, and we will be happy to be reunited with our family and friends, and to sleep in our own bedroom, and use our own things again. But I'm certain we will leave here with very mixed emotions. We love the Island and all the people, but being out of the USA this long has been taxing on our wallet and our emotions. We long for familiarity and the modern life-style we live there. Here, in Cyprus, life is very slow and very behind the times. I always compare it to about the 1980's in America. Except the bathrooms are late 1920's! Ha!
The water on the Island is very salty and hard to deal with, it pits all the chrome fixtures in our flat and doesn't taste all that great. The water is safe to drink out of the tap here, but we still use bottled water for drinking purposes, as it is much more palatable.
People here are having such a hard time economically that they rarely smile, and their heads are always down in thought. With the banks crashing this past year almost every small business has folded, and many have left the Island to find work elsewhere, as there is none here. Many city folk have left the larger cities and gone back to their home villages just to survive. There they can fish, grow gardens and live without electricity. The cost of living in Cyprus is very high, and what you get in return is very small.
We will leave Cyprus soon, but Cyprus will never leave us! We are inseparably intertwined with this lovely country, the people, the customs, the language and the food. We shall never forget our time here and the great opportunity we have had to serve the Lord's children in this area of His Kingdom on Earth.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So Much Going On

There is so very much going on in our lives that I find it difficult to journal it all.  I don't feel inspired to share everything about our mission, and we both post a lot of pictures on Facebook because it is easier than doing it on our blog.

We have now entered the long hot Cypriot summer season, so we will complain vehemently about it.  Summer in Cyprus is nearly unbearable.  We stay indoors and avoid the heat as much as possible.  At the end of each day I feel like I have taken a bath in Kool-Aid.  (You remember spilling it n the floor as a kid and it stayed sticky for a week even though you washed the floor thoroughly?)

Our work takes us to the north most days, and we travel so much in doing this.  We have students/members who are very isolated from the church because they cannot cross the border and enter the south to attend with us.  For them our visits are crucial, since they have no other contact with the church.

We are friends with them on Facebook and we have Skype sessions with them as well.  But it's not the same as participating in church meetings and activities.  We all long for the day when an agreement is arranged to allow the missionaries to freely proselyte in the north.  We are fairly certain this will not happen in our time here, and now we only have six months left of our mission, so we aren't certain if we are making an impact - just to leave abruptly.  This is the hard part.  We love all our members of the church, and we are particularly drawn to those in the north because of their inability to fellowship with all the saints here on the Island.

There is the dilemma - the fact of the short time we have here.  We'd need to stay a lifetime to really finish the work, but we are only called for a very short period of time.

Below are pictures of camels that we visited as a Zone activity a couple of weeks ago.  Interesting.

The camels were shedding their warm winter fur, and their coats looked like when sheep are sheared.

These are dromedary camels, so they only have one hump.  I was not adventurous enough to ride them, although other senior couples did.

I trust all is well at home.  We are excited that our grandson Josh left today for the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center), where he will live for the next nine weeks as he is trained to speak Mandarin Chinese. He will be serving in Calgary, Canada among the Chinese people, we are very pleased he has accepted this call, and we know he will excel in the work.

Our daughter Ramona made this wonderful missionary shirt and tie cake for Josh's farewell.  He is pictured here with seven of his siblings who are very pleased for his example to them.  He certainly has a large cheering section at home.

We know God will bless him in his work in teaching and preaching the Gospel in Calgary among our Chinese brothers and sisters.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter in Cyprus

I have not had time to blog about our mission lately, and I apologize, but I am going to make some time right now to share with you all how Easter is celebrated on this lovely Island. Byzantium reigns here, especially during Easter season. The world celebrates Easter on a different day/month than do the Orthodox. It is THE highest Holy Day in the Orthodox faith, far more prominent than Christmas. It is begun with a 40 day fast from meat. Even fast food places such as McDonald's serve veggie burgers and fish during the 40 days of Lent. Here is the timeline for the celebration, which lasts the whole month of May this year.

Easter Celebration in Cyprus

Easter is the most sacred of all holidays in Cyprus. According to the Greek Orthodox tradition, this year we are celebrating it in May. During this Holy Week, Cypriots will come together to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with religious rituals, sumptuous feasts, singing and dancing.

The Easter celebrations begin on the Saturday of Lazarus (the day before Palm Sunday) when children go from door to door, singing the ‘Lazaros’ and collecting eggs and money.

On the morning of Palm Sunday, churchgoers are given crosses made of palm fronds, which they take home and keep on their icon-stands for the rest of the year.

From the Monday onwards, fasting and reflection in the day lead up to the Passion of Christ in the evening.

Tuesday is devoted to scripture reading and on the Wednesday, the faithful are anointed with holy oil or a spring of oregano – a herb which is believed to have healing powers.

On Easter Thursday there is the grand ceremony of the dying of the eggs. This custom dates back to Byzantine times when a ring-bread was baked with a red egg in the middle. The red eggs symbolise the resurrection of Christ: the egg stands for the birth of new life and the colour red represents the blood of Jesus. The eggs are then put on display until Easter Sunday.

Good Friday is a day of mourning for the death of Christ. This is the time to serve special soup, made from lettuce or lentils, and sesame paste and vinegar (in memory of the vinegar Christ was given to drink on the cross). Sweet foods are avoided and it is considered a sin to work with a hammer or nails or to sew on this day.

On the evening of Good Friday the procession of the Epitafios takes place. The Epitafios represents Christ’s funeral and a decorated bier is carried around the streets, followed by a band or choir, cantors and clergy, women carrying myrrh, scouts and guides and the local people. It is a wonderful sight to behold as all along the route flowers and perfumes are thrown onto the Epitafios.

On Holy Saturday the food for Easter Sunday is taken to the church and blessed by the priest. At midnight, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. This is considered one of the most important rituals of the year. Bells are rung and candles are lit from the Holy Light inside and outside of the churches.

In the evening, the traditional supper is served which includes traditional Easter bread and a special lemony lamb soup called Magiritsa, followed by Flaounes – special cakes made of local cheese, semolina, sultanas, mint and yeast wrapped in pastry.

The big focus of the holiday is Easter Sunday, when families make their way to church for the service. The Lenten fast is finally broken after the Easter Sunday service. Families gather together to crack the red-dyed eggs before eating them and to wish each other with the words ‘Jesus has risen’ to which the traditional reply is ‘Yes he has’. It’s said that the person with the last remaining uncracked egg will enjoy good luck throughout the year.

On Saturday 4th May, firewood will be gathered in the chapel courtyard ready for the evening, when the effigy of Judas will be burned on the lambradja (bonfire) to symbolize his punishment for the betrayal of Christ.

The evening will climax dramatically when the church lights are put out and then relit to the ringing of the bells, to symbolize Christ’s resurrection.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Life Is Full of Change!

We are now in our seventh month as missionaries on the Island of Cyprus in the Middle East in the Mediterranean Sea! Our lives are very busy, as you know. However, last Sunday before we began the Nicosia Branch Conference President Freestone called Elder Vargas to be the new Nicosia Branch President. The previous president unfortunately lost his job here and has to return to the states by the end of this month. We are sorry for their loss and all the upheaval of moving internationally, certain the Lord will direct their lives for good and plant them where they are needed now. Due to this new calling our lives become just a bit more complicated. We already have enough work to do, and our workload was due to increase as we are implementing another Institute class in Limmasol on the 23rd of this month. We will have to teach it once-a-month until the Limmasol branch president can call and sustain another teacher for the branch. Our YSA group has grown tremendously in the past few weeks because the Limmasol YSAs have been attending our Friday night activities. Two weeks ago we had 26 in attendance with nine of them being investigators. We know the Lord will strengthen us to carry this burden and mainly it is a matter of time-management. We will have to carefully arrange our schedule in order to accomplish everything necessary. This call will last only until Elder Vargas can train another priesthood bearer to assume the responsibility - we are hopeful it will happen quickly.
Our dear friend and YSA, Michelle Wu is currently in the process of preparing to receive a mission call. We have given her all the Temple preparation classes and will begin teaching her the Missionary preparation lessons next week. We are excited to be part of this phase of her life and love her very much. The Lord has blessed her tremendously since she has come here, especially in finding the church and being baptized. Her progress has been nothing short of spectacular!
We continue ever faithful to the Lord and His commandments, and feel the many blessings we have received are because of our firm commitment in the faith.
If you have not already pledged your time, talents and all you are blessed with to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ then I implore you to do so. You will never be disappointed.
With much love - until the next time.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some Information

My dear readers, I have chosen to inform you of two things. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been for 50 years now. I am not a sometime follower of my faith, I have served in our church for 42 years in every capacity possible, and have served along side my husband as he has served as well. Our children were reared in the faith, and it is sad to us that only one of them has chosen to follow it as well. This does not mean we have abandoned our children or demanded them to return to our faith, quite the opposite. One of the major tenets of our faith is everyone has agency. Agency to choose their own path and make their own way in life, because we teach "God will force no man to heaven." I do not nor have I ever required any of my friends or family members to be members of the church. And because we are currently on the Island of Cyprus in the Middle East serving as missionaries does not mean I preach the Gospel in every post on this blog. However, the time has come that I must.
If you do not want to read my testimony, then don't. I will not take it personally. But if you are really interested in me, my husband and our family then you must know I shall always bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.
Elder Vargas and I serve as Church Education Service (CES) Missionaries and directors of the Young Single Adult (YSA) program on the Island. We co-ordinate the Seminary and Institute programs in the four major cities here. We teach Seminary and Institute classes here, and Elder Vargas is second counselor in the Nicosia Branch Presidency. I play the piano when needed and teach in Relief Society (the church women's organization) when called upon as well. We also teach and preach investigators right along side the young Elders as well. We love our work. It is challenging, tiring and absolutely fulfilling. We love working with the young Elders here, they are a total inspiration to us! They sacrifice everything to go out into the world for two years to preach the Gospel, as do we.
We know our service is necessary. The youth of our church are some of the most valiant individuals on the earth presently. They can now serve missions at the age of 18 (young men) and 19 (young women). Here on the other side of the world the missionaries have been serving at the age of 18 for years. Only in the states were missionaries sent out at age 19 (young men). And now that this has changed we will see a new spurt in the growth and strength of the church. We are excited at the prospect of it all!
I want you to know that Joseph Smith was/is a prophet of God. He translated the Book of Mormon while under the influence and power of the Holy Ghost. He restored the ancient Church of Jesus Christ which includes, prophets, apostles, evangelists and all other appendages necessary for the salvation of mankind. He lived for Jesus Christ and he died in Jesus Christ. He was a martyr and gave his life's blood to bring the world the truth. His successors have also brought the truth to God's children, and the present leader of our church, Thomas S. Monson is likewise a prophet, seer and revelator. I am proud to be a member of this church and especially to be counted among the numbers of missionaries who are teaching and preaching the salvation of the Lord. We are preparing the world to usher in the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is God's handiwork and will bring us closer to God than anything available on this earth. I have read it many times and have prayed to know that it is true - and it is. I want it said that I make no apology for being a member of God's church. I do not spend time denegrating other faiths, nor do I want to. If you already believe in Christ then all the better! Come and listen to what we have to say and we will bring you more of His truth.
I DO NOT worship Joseph Smith nor Moroni, they were prophets. I worship the one true and living God and His Son, Jesus Christ - Savior of the World! I believe in the power of the Holy Ghost, the third member of the God Head, he is my close and ever-present friend, my comforter; and he testifies always of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
If you want to know more about our Savior then contact The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ask for the missionaries to come and teach you. You will not be disappointed.
Now, may the Lord always bless and keep you in all that you do and say, and may He bless and keep your precious families well and safe. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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