Sunday, May 25, 2014


Over-night Temple Trip Fiasco

It’s Friday night and it’s been two weeks since our last entry on the blog. Last weekend I couldn't write because we had an overnight trip to the London Temple (I don’t know why they call it London. It’s 1 ½ hours away!) We rode the train with about 10 kids on Friday afternoon. Most the YSA on the train were our Chinese members. Oh how I love them! When we arrived it was still light outside. The last time we’d been to the temple it was still in winter. What a transformation. The grounds are absolutely glorious and HUGE!! We were able to join with a few more YSA and sit on the grass and just be silly. It was so fun.

The next morning more kids joined us. We had about 30 there to do baptisms. Our assignment started at 8:00 A.M. It was another precious experience. We had one of our new converts there for the first time. He’s a beautiful tall black Frenchman. I was there handing out towels and sitting with them while they dripped off. When he finished his baptisms he came and sat down. I could tell he was very moved by the experience. All he could say in a subdued reverent voice was “Wow.”

After the baptisms the kids that were endowed did a session with us. I LOVE THE NEW FILMS! It is worth the extra minutes to watch because it’s so much more meaningful! Again it was a wonderful experience to be in the Celestial room with kids we love so much; a preview of heaven!

When we got out of the temple we realized that most the kids had been able to get rides back home with people who had cars. The ward had reserved a bus to transport back the kids but we were left with only 6 who didn't have a ride. The problem was the bus was scheduled for pick-up at 4:00 and we were done by 1:30. We went to lunch in the temple and then waited and waited and waited. Finally at 4:30 Jim called the Bishop who called the bus to find out it had broken down on the way to get us. We were stranded and that was after waiting for 2 ½ hours. WE DIED!!!!

We ended up having to take a taxi to the train station, ride the train to the middle of London, catch a tube that couldn't get to our station because of rail work so we had to catch a different tube that went a different direction and finally at 7:30 we got home. It was a disaster. Kind of took all the fun out of the trip for us. We were exhausted!
So that’s why there was no blog last week. Is that a good enough reason?

Elder Garner’s Great-Grandparents’ Conversion

I've mentioned how much I adore EVERY Senior Missionary couple here in our mission. They are all so precious. I would choose them for my friends. One couple that works as Employment Specialists are the Garners. I don’t know if I've ever met anyone more kind than them. You can just feel their goodness!

On Wednesday last week I was walking by their office and stuck my head in to say hi and then kept walking. I heard someone walking behind me and it was both of them. They came to tell me that they hoped I didn't mind but they had been reading my blog and wanted me to know how much it meant to them. I was blown away, but grateful if it could bless them. They deserve all the blessings the Lord could offer.

Elder Garner had just read our story of Grandma Nellie’s parent’s conversion and asked if I’d like to hear one of his family conversion stories. OF COURSE!! He told of his Great-grandfather who happened upon a Parley Pratt pamphlet and after reading it was converted. The problem was he was married to a VERY contrary woman. He knew if he told her to listen to the missionaries she would do the opposite.  He came up with a plan. He left the pamphlet out where she could see it and then told her to NOT read it; that it was of the devil. Then he left the house for several hours. When he came back not a word was said.

The day came when Great-grandpa went to be baptized. In his arms he carried a bundle of clothes to change into. As he came to the agreed upon place on the river, there stood his wife with her bundle of clothes under her arms! He asked her what she had there. “Clothes.” Then she asked him what he had there. “Clothes.” That’s all that was said as both husband and wife were baptized having never spoken a word about the gospel to one another!

This same Great-grandmother and Great-grandfather came across the plains in a wagon. It was reported that she placed a rocking chair in the middle of the wagon and held her baby on her lap and rocked (not walked) her way across the plains. That rocking chair is now on exhibit in a Fillmore museum.

Elder Garner told me that his grandma had grown up with that story, but had never shared it with her own children until she wrote her family history. That amazing story would have been lost forever if it had not been written down! I’m converted. I GET IT!

O.K. Here’s another story I got after writing the story above. It’s told in Elder Garner’s own words.

About 30 years ago, I began wondering if I had collected enough information about my ancestors to identify all my convert ancestors. I discovered that I indeed had enough information; all my convert ancestors were my 2nd and 3rd great grandparents, so there were 18 or 20 of them. I wrote up a brief account of each of their conversion stories, about seven pages altogether, and decided to give each of my siblings and our adult children copies for Christmas that year. Nobody made much comment about it.

Two year ago, I was given the task of motivating members of our High Priests group to become more involved in Family History work. I had decided to tell them that one of the major steps in Family History is connecting with our ancestors and then telling our posterity their stories so that our descendants will connect with their ancestors. I was working on this lesson on Saturday when we received a letter from our granddaughter Sarah, who was serving a mission in Hong Kong. She told about one of their investigators, Stella, who was 15; she was convinced that the gospel was true but was hesitant to exercise the faith to commit to baptism. Sarah was trying to figure out how to help Stella during study time one morning when the thought came to her to read the stories of her ancestors.

When Sarah had received her call, she had been encouraged to bring some family history with her on her mission. Her mom, our oldest daughter, simply gave her a copy of the write-up of my convert ancestors. So she read through it and discovered that one of them, William Riley Cole (actually her 5th great grandfather) had been baptized at the age of 16 and had then been instrumental in the baptism of his parents. Sarah and her companion decided to share William’s conversion story with Stella.

When they met Stella the next day, Sarah told her about her ancestor and the effect that his joining the church had, not only on his parents, but obviously on his descendants. Stella’s faith was obviously strengthened, and she responded by saying, “William Cole can be my example.” (Sarah reported a couple of weeks later that Stella had been baptized.)

Well, you can bet that I shared the letter with the High Priests group the next day! A more appropriate illustration of what I was trying to teach could not have been imagined. But what impressed me was the fact that, when I wrote up the stories, I had no idea that 30 years later, it would make a difference in a conversion on the other side of the world! Later, I shared this event with my siblings, one by one, only to find out that they had been using these conversion stories for years in all kinds of lessons and settings! They simply had not told me. Again, I had no idea that what I had recorded in simple form would make so much difference in so many ways.   Shared by Elder Lynn Garner

A Sunday in the Life of YSA Senior Missionaries

Let me tell you my last Sunday. We went early so we could have a discussion with Sanje, an amazing handsome young Indian man from Birmingham England. I love what the elders and your dad have investigators do. They give them a chapter from the Book of Mormon and have the investigator teach them from the scriptures. It’s powerful. It gives them the opportunity to speak truth and as the words come out of their mouth the spirit witnesses to them what they are saying is true. I so wish you could have heard Sanje teach Sunday. It was beautiful. Like your father, it’s going to be devastating to his parents if he gets baptized! We are fasting for him next week when his parents come to London when he will tell them he wants to be baptized.

After the discussion I went downstairs and waited for my new Visiting Teaching Companion. She’s a college rugby player that is less-active but when I called her to come she was so darling. We were to meet one of our girls, a Chinese member of about a year that is also semi-less-active. Paige, my companion, ran from the tube to be at the church on time. Our girl never came but we had a wonderful discussion together.

As church was starting I ran upstairs to practice a song with one of our YSA who was performing it in Sacrament Meeting so we were 15 minutes late to the meeting. She sang a song I’ve probably done 30 times in my life, a great old classic “O That I Were an Angel”. It was so strange to hear someone else sing it. She did a wonderful job.

From Sacrament Meeting I ran to the room where we had our Marriage Prep class. It’s the information from John Lund that I love so much and taught with Dad’s BYU kids. It’s unusual that we actually have 3 couples and 2 singles that have fiancés in other wards that are engaged or about to get engaged attend.  It’s such a fun class with world-class information. It went so well that they didn't want to stop so we went 15 minutes over and once again I was late for the next meeting; Relief Society. It was a great class taught by one of our older YSA.

Then, along with Paige, we grabbed our second girl we visit teach and kidnapped her into a side room where we had a wonderful visit. Her name is Rebecca and she’s in her last year of med school. She’s mostly active but I have never really known her. I’m going to love all these girls and best of all they are girls I didn't really know.

After our visiting teaching Jim and I caught a ride to our second counselor’s flat. He’s a single Romanian YSA convert who is a taxi-cab driver. They were having a dinner as part of our re-activation to pull some of the kids in. There was about 15 people there. The food was great and the company even better.

By time we got home it was late. We had been gone ALL day; the life of YSA Senior Missionaries!!!

Elder and Sister Hom from Wansworth Stake

We had our Thursday night Institute dinner which is always a little crazy, but I have to admit, so worth it. Our dinner is from 6:50 to 7:30 when class starts. Last night we were to be at a Stake Meeting at 7:30 so a darling group of our kids ended up doing all the dishes for us. What a sessy! 

When our stake meeting was over we came down to meet with Elder and Sister Hom who was there visiting our institute from a neighboring stake that is NOT in our mission. They serve in London South and they have a YSA program that is rockin’. I got to know her when she called to ask about food for their Institute Recognition Night. We begin to talk and then talked some more! They've been out for 14 months. When they got here the previous Seniors had a program that was already established. It was reassuring as we talked. What they are currently doing is almost exactly the same thing that we've worked the last 3 months on and what we are presenting tomorrow to the Bishops. In their stake YSA it is 90% black. Like us, Sister Hom said they had wanted to serve in Africa. She said this was even better. It was like being in Africa only with flushing toilets and clean food. They gave us some great ideas and we made some great new friends!

Our first letter from Skyler

We received this letter from our newest grandchild this week, along with some adorable pictures of her. She is so familiar to me. She could be one of my babies. We are so in love with her already. Can’t wait to meet this newest member of our eternal family!!

Dear Maga and Baba;

I’m so excited to write you this letter and tell you all about everything that I've been doing!

I’m already over ten weeks old. By the time you get my letter I will be over eleven weeks old. Can you believe that?!! I grow so fast! I loooove my mommy’s milk! I swallow really loud when I’m eating and I love humming while I eat. It helps me to digest all of the yummy nutrients! Sometimes while I’m eating I hear mommy talkin to Heavenly Father. He’s my pal. And she thanks him for my yummy milk! I’m thankful for it too! It calms me and makes me very tired ….milk drunk is what mommy and daddy call it. After I eat they’ll burp me, my head hangs and I’m out like a light!

One thing I love to do is smile! I smile so big that my nose scrunches, my eyes close, my head rolls and it continues to travel through my whole body. There are just so many things to smile about! Don’t you agree? I love everyone. There is no one I won’t smile for. Oh yeah, I have a good friend; Mr. Fan. He hangs out in my bedroom, and in the living room. He sits on the ceiling. He’s so silly! Sometimes he is very still and sometimes he moves so fast. My head and eyes try to keep up with him, but it is so hard. He must have super powers! I look at him all the time. He loves to make me smile!

Since the day I was born my hands like to be in a fist, my thumb must be shy because it is always tucked inside. I’m beginning to open my hands more and more. My mommy and daddy tell me I have beautifully long fingers and pretty nail beds! I have really long skinny feet, with long toes. My big toe could easily be confused with a finger. All the better to hold onto the lips that nibble on my toes! Silly parents! I’m really tall, top of the charts. I have dark hair that’s getting darker every day. I have a natural side part, which works great! 

Everyone tells me I have big beautiful lips, sometimes I’m not quite sure what to do with them so they just fold in (Everyone like that.) I have a pretty cook chunk of skin attached to the top of my neck that I can rest my chin on. Everyone tells me it’s a good, healthy thing so that’s good.

What else….I love taking baths with my mommy. She calls me her little froggy because I like pushing off her tummy to go swimming in the tub. (I can’t wait to practice my skills at the place you call Lake Powell.)

Daddy calls me intense sometimes. I like to call it “sending a clear message”! That way no one is confused about what I need.

I take after daddy, in that I sometimes have toots that you could mistake for his. At first it really hurt my tummy and that’s the only thing I would fuss about! Mommy and daddy would have to help me. My daddy is a real expert at helping the gas and poopies come out I’m so glad about that! But now my tummy is doing a pretty good job without a whole lot of help.

One last, very important thing I need to tell you guys…I love my “Cougs”. I have enclosed some photos of my cheering them on in my cute outfit! I can’t wait to cheer them on with my favorite Maga and Baba!

I can’t wait for the day that I will get to smile for you guys, can’t wait until I get to be snuggled by you and smothered with kisses and loves. I miss you guys!
Thank you for serving a mission and for setting such a good example for me and all of our family! Our Father in Heaven loves you and is so grateful for your…He told me! Like I said, we’re pals.

I love you Maga and Baba!

Love your Baby Girl,
Sky (in the “Sky”… like Stars….get it?!)


Luke’s Baptism

One more thing; LUKE ROBERT MERBACK is now an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!!! He was baptized yesterday May 24, 2014. We are so proud of him. We hope Lukie liked the video talk on the Holy Ghost rom Maga and Baba’s special fishing picture with Luke. We thought about him all day and missed being there SO MUCH!!!

Love to you all.  

1 comment:

  1. This blog made up for the miss last week! So many fun, busy and challenging things. We sure missed you guys at the baptism! It just isn't the same without Babs and Mags. Keep up the good work. We are so grateful for your example. Ask the Garners if they are related to any Garners in Las Vegas. The second coun in the our Bishopric (who we adore) is named Warren Garner. Loves and hugs.