Time in the U.S. is always a whirlwind of activities. The first week, we continued with several meetings with our Europe responsibilities. That meant meeting with our managers on Monday at 2:30 am, with our missionary couples on Tuesday at 3:00 am and with our Area Self-Reliance Committee on Wednesday night at midnight. We are able to have each of these meetings in our living room by video conference and it really works quite well. The difficult part is our sleeping habits. However, in our first week back our sleep habits were confused anyways. During the day we spent a few days in the office at the Church Office building, updating and getting updated with key individuals there. In between we have been able to work quite a bit from home.
During the week we were also able to make some visits to Gina and Addisyn in their new apartment in Orem and to visit Dan and Amy and their kids in West Point.
The week ended on a wonderful note as we were able to participate in the baptism of our granddaughter McKenzie, with many of our family members participating. She is a wonderful girl who made a very thought out choice to be baptized and make covenants with her Heavenly Father. We are so pleased to be her grandparents.
|Six of our most recent granddaughters who were all at the baptism for McKenzie|
That same day we were able to go to the temple and have a family sealing session. This included Danny & Gina, Jason & Beckie, Leo & Giovanna, Debbie & I and Kari. Pollyanna provided baby sitting services. Together we were able to complete 10 couple sealings and had 37 children sealed to their families. Besides being a wonderful time with our family, it finished up significant temple work that had been completed over the past year or two in temples around the world by several members of our family. What a joy this was, especially to me as I have worked with these names for a long time.
The photo shows just a few examples of this work. The first is the sealing card for my 5th great grandparents on my mother's side. These were the first direct ancestor names that I had ever found two years ago. This happened in a miracle all of it's own. I googled on the name of my 4th great grandfather, Isack Jausi and found a 15 year old email in French that had the names of Isack, his parents and his siblings along with marriage names and dates for each of them. Working on that we were able to do the temple work for each of them and tie them into Isack's father, Jean Pierre Jaussi, who was already in Family Search. However, his work had been reserved for some time without any progress. Finally, I was able to send an email to the person that reserved the work and ask them to release is so that we could seal the family together, which they did in August. We have since been able to finish his work, including doing his endowment work in the Madrid, Spain temple in September and seal the entire family together on this special day. I was very emotional as I felt the strong presence of the spirit during these ordinances.
The second card shows a little of the work of completing these names. The baptism was performed by myself, with our son Ammon being proxy in June of this year in the Jordan River Temple. I was able to be the proxy for the initiatory work in Frankfurt, Germany in July and able to be proxy for the endowment work in the London temple last month. Finally he was sealed to his parents as part of this special session, our children being the proxy. I have learned to absolutely love this wonderful work for our ancestors, both the gathering of the family history and genealogy and the very meaningful work of actually being proxy for these individuals in the holy temples around the world.
The next day, we were able to participate as our oldest grandson, Braden, was able to be ordained to the office of a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.
This last week was a week of missionary training. We spent Monday through Wednesday participating in the Self-Reliance training of senior missionary couples. This training included couples going to Zambia, Ghana, Uruguay, India and Russia on Self-Reliance missions. Once again we were blessed to not only feel the spirit of our responsibilities but to feel the spirit of these great missionary couples. Debbie summarized it well at the end of the training: "We may have known much of the material that was shared, but our greatest strength came from the other missionaries, to see their sacrifice and examples."
On Thursday we began our immersion into the German Language at the MTC. This is actually in a Church building in Provo, dedicated to the pre-mission language training of senior missionaries. We had separate language tutors and study buddies for Debbie and myself. Spending the bigger part of two days concentrating on the German language has helped us feel a little more comfortable with some of the aspects of the language. This week we spend four more days, trying to get a few basic skills for us to build on during our mission. This is a wonderful opportunity for us. We ended our time in Provo on Friday by doing an endowment session at the Payson, Utah temple, our first time since it was dedicated in early June.
Finally, let me give a health update on Debbie. This has been a chance to see many minor miracles. The first was that we were able to get to a urologist within 36 hours of our return to the U.S. We are grateful to our missionary medical advisor in Frankfurt for making that happen. Then Dr. Middleton, the urologist, took the catheter our of Debbie and gave her some medication. This has allowed her to self-catherize as we try to retrain her bladder to function. Then on the next Monday, we were able to get into an extensive testing process that normally would take weeks to get scheduled. After that testing and a week's experience with the medicine and self-catherization, we were able to meet again with Dr. Middleton. Debbie has begun to urinate on her own, but not yet to the desired level. He has arranged for us to have medication and catheters for our long term needs but is unable to identify the reason for her bladder dysfunction. He suggested a visit to a neurologist. This normally takes three to six months to get scheduled. After talking to our primary care physician, we were able to get into a neurologist on Friday morning, another scheduling miracle, the third such miracle in the past three weeks. The neurologist gave us some very positive feedback about Debbie's neurological condition, feeling that there are no signs of MS or Lou Gehrig's disease, two possibilities that could have caused the bladder malfunction. To be sure we will have full MRIs taken this Tuesday and then a return visit with the neurologist on Thursday. When we arrived home, we asked our son, Sam, to assist in giving Debbie a blessing. In Sam's blessing, it was stated that Debbie would gain knowledge and understanding and would feel peace in whatever happens. No promises of an immediate cure. However, we have gained so much understanding and with that understanding we have received peace. We don't have a miraculous healing, but we have found that if needed, we can deal with this situation on a long term basis, with minimal impact to our daily activities. With the current treatment and results, Debbie is feeling healthier than she has for years.
Debbie's greatest fear has been that this condition would impact our ability to serve a mission. With all that we have learned, that fear has been replaced with faith and peace.