Friday, May 3, 2013

Welcome Home!

Well, we arrived home Tuesday about 3:00 after visiting with Annette (Ramon's Mom) in St. George.  It was wonderful to pull into our driveway and be home.  Shahara had made a big sign and hung it in front of the garage, also balloons lined the steps up to the front door. I neglected to take a picture of the sign before the wind blew it apart.  Doran's kids left messages and signed the white board by our garage entry with cute notes to us.   Our dogs were so happy we were back, they had been a bit traumatized by our leaving and had given the Burtons quite a bit of grief.  Everything was beautiful.  Cami and Marc had the house sparkling clean, the yard all groomed, and our deck furniture and decorations put out.  Marc even weeded, which was going far beyond their duties!  We love them for taking such good care of our home while we were gone.  

Later that evening we went up to Adam's house for dinner.  There again was a great big welcome, and I did take pictures of it.  Kim had decorated their back yard beautifully and made the whole dinner so festive as only she can!  It was wonderful having all our kids here and the children running everywhere.  Great food, everyone brought delicious dishes and by this time we were very hungry.  Thanks to everyone for making our arrival such a great success.  We are so happy to be home.  Lots of work to get us back to our comfort zone but it's coming.  Nice to sleep in my own bed. Great to have some elbow room to move in this giant house...not really but compared to our 600 sq feet in California this was gigantic! I am grateful for a wonderful companion, my eternal companion forever.  He is always so good to me and treats me as his queen.  This year has been everything I hoped it would be.

We were released from our missionary assignment the next night and it feels weird.  I hope and pray we can continue to try to live our lives as well as we have the past year.  We have been greatly blessed and appreciate this wonderful opportunity we have had to serve a mission.  We hope we have made a change in one life.  We are the ones who have gained the most from our mission.  Our testimonies have grown.  Together we both have said we have a greater love for the Book of Mormon and those wonderful Prophets of old.  We are so grateful for the records they kept and the faith they had in our Savior.  We have loved the missionaries we have served with and hope our friendships continue.  There are terrific wonderful people serving in the California Los Angeles Mission.  We know it is the best mission in the church!  How blessed we were to be sent there!


Front of Adam's house

                                                                          Deck in back
Looking from deck down to kids
 Isaac and food

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Our farewell lunch at Malibu Fish....

On Tuesday we drove up to Malibu along the coast and ate lunch at one of our favorite fish places.  Actually, we have so many now that there isn't hardly a favorite anymore.  But this little place we like, you eat outside, there are three tier-ed levels and we always choose the very top.  The fish is super!

Then that evening the Westchester Ward had a farewell potluck for us.  I thought it was going to be a barbecue but they changed it.  We brought Debbie Turner, our manager of the apartment and dear friend with us. I don't  think I got a picture of her....darn.  We had a great time.  This ward went way out of their way to show their love to us. Many gave us presents and all showed their love.  We will sure miss them all.  I grabbed a few pictures when I had time.  Tuesday is coming too soon!
 Elder Sanft

Our Farewell potluck!
Lisa Fifita, the Bishop's wife
Sione Save speaking and Tailiei Fifita
 Good friends!
Etuate Vaki, ...and Sabrina Na'a  (4th left, in my class)

 Elevina Fifita, Lata Maka left side
 Nika (gal in my class)  Love Her!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thursday Mail Run

This past Thursday we did something a little different.  We have a couple taking over the mail run when we leave and so the new driver needed to be shown the route.  At this same time one of our Elders had surgery for a ruptured appendix.  He was recuperating at the Mission President's  house and they were away for three days at a mission seminar.  So the new couple, Elder and Sister Dorius, were staying at the Presidents house to watch over this Elder.  That meant that while Elder Dorius went with Elder Sanft on the mail run I was to stay with Sister Dorius and the young Elder.  We needed to run him by the hospital for a back brace and then to a pharmacy.  Then we returned back to the house and waited for the senior Elders to return from the mail run. 

I visited with Sister Dorius and learned that their eldest son had died of brain cancer just days before entering the MTC. Their Stake President told their son to go ahead and put in his mission papers.  He was called to the same mission that his father had served years before.  It was a tender memory for Sister Dorius.  This child was he eldest of 7.  I think how hard that must have been for them to lose their son, but what a great reward awaited this fine young man. 

While waiting I taught her how to crochet a baby blanket.  I have made over 30 while here in California.  Everyone has been very appreciative to receive them.  Today is Sunday and we are looking forward to a wonderful day at our church meetings!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wonderful Tuesday

Yesterday, Tuesday, we had a wonderful wonderful day, with the exception Elder Sanft who started getting this horrible cold, and it only got worse as the day progressed, and we had no cold medicine. 

We began by meeting with all the other Elders and Sisters who were returning home today, as well as, the Grovers, who go home about a week after us.  We met in front of the Temple and Sister Baker took a picture of all of us for the CLAM blog.  Then we went into the Temple and met together in the chapel while one of the Temple Presidency spoke to us for about a half hour.  Then we all went in a did a session together.  We were again the witness couple and should actually have declined due to Elder Sanft's cold.  Then at 5:00 we went over to President Baker's house to have dinner.  This is a brand new house and is very nice as you can see by the pictures below.

Sister Baker has friends from their old ward near by who prepared a delicious dinner for all of us.  During dinner we were to tell of some interesting missionary stories.  Then we left the dining room and sat in the large living room in a circle.  President and Sister Baker have a large Quad of scriptures that they passed around.  We were to each relate our favorite scripture, tell why we liked it and then sign our name by it.  It was interesting to see other names by many of the scriptures chosen.  I chose Alma 17:11, this has been my (our) scripture for our mission.  It means a lot to me because this is instruction that the Lord gave to those wonderful sons of Mosiah  just before they went out on their missions for 14 years.

"And the Lord said unto them also:  Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."

Those of you at our farewell last April will maybe remember our assigned topic to speak on was "patience."
One of my biggest faults, so I felt this especially appropriate for me.  I have gotten frustrated some days but for the most part have loved every minute.

After this then we again went around and told what we had learned on our mission and/or bore our testimonies.  Then Sister and President Baker left their testimonies with us also.  It was a very spiritual day.  We felt well fed and very emotional as we left these wonderful people at the end of the day.
We love our mission and feel it was a choice and blessed thing for us to be able to do.

 Quick group picture, they were waiting for us to get in the picture
 Our discussions after dinner
President and Sister Baker with some Elders

Monday visit

We went with Brother and Sister McDonald again today to visit Fane Mahe.  Last week's visit was very promising and we looked forward to visiting her again.  Today she had a young friend from her work sit in with us.  His name was Adrian and he was very nice and polite and acted fairly interested.  About the time we were getting ready to leave Fane's son arrived so we took a picture with him too.  I didn't get his name.  We gave another Book of Mormon in Tongan to Fane and also gave an English one to Adrian.  She was very sweet.  Last week she gave me a blanket.  I have been bringing her banana bread and cookies and she is now insisting on the recipes.  A great way for another visit.  She comes to church all the time and participates in everything but has yet to be baptised.  She says she knows it is the truth.
Fane, son, and Adrian

Monday, April 15, 2013

OUR Departing Missionary Fireside!

Well, it was with much sorrow that it was our turn to be on the program and participate in bearing our testimonies this Sunday.  For weeks ahead I would tear up just thinking about it.  So you can imagine how emotional I was standing at the pulpit.  But it was wonderful to sit on the stand and look out over a chapel and recreation room filled with people who love our missionaries.  It was an overwhelming feeling of love and Heavenly Father's Spirit there this night.  I am sharing below a few of the pictures we took afterward of some of our beloved friends.  Unfortunately many people left before I had my camera ready to click.  What a blessing it has been to Elder Sanft and I, as well as our family, to spend the last year here among these choice people of the Lord.  There were experiences I will never forget.  Oh, one especially unique one that can only be told  face to ask me and I will tell!  Never the less, we leave in two weeks, knowing our lives have been changed for the better.  EVERYONE should take this opportunity to serve a mission.  It is a blessing, a win win situation. We feel so privileged to have had the means, time and health to be able to serve in our small way.  We are grateful!  And we do go home anxious to see those we love the most waiting for us!

 Our Program
 Bishop Fifita (Westchester III ward) and his family
(all three of these kids go on missions at the same time!)

 Latu Manufekai (has her papers in)

 Elder Gonzales and us
(he'll be in Provo in August)
 Lisa Fifita, me and Mary Fie'eiki
 Elder Francesco (from Brazil)
Elder Eholeilei (Tongan from Honolulu)
 Sia Fifita
Jo'Vine Fie'eiki
Lina Vaki and her husband Etuate

Okay, now you all can see I gained 20 lbs.  Elder Sanft said we will diet when we get home!  Surely need too!

Elder Raymond Moala's Welcome Home Dinner

Saturday night we went to celebrate the returning of Elder Moala from the New York Mission.  On Friday they had a big dance for him and Saturday night was the dinner and then Sunday he reports to the ward.  He is very much like the other Moala boys, a true prince!  He is humble and slowly getting used to civilian life!  The dinner was much like we experience when we went to Tonga 5 years ago.  The food was prepared and then put into individual containers and stacked (yes, stacked, there was so much) on the tables.  I counted about 15 small pigs, two full size on the head table and pigs cut in half on each banquet table.  We were surrounded by food.  There was way too much for anyone to eat, as usual. Sisrer Moala and her ward sisters out did themselves in preparing this feast!
 ELder Moala  sitting by Sia Tai
Head table before we ate
 Head table
People starting to eat