Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Arriving back in Salt Lake City to an amazing family homecoming - Our Final Talks

Arriving back home was a "Bitter - Sweet" day.

Bitter because our mission was over.

Sweet because we came back to the most amazing family ever. We arrived late afternoon on Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2015.

They made signs and the grandchildren wore their Guam t-shirts that we sent them.
The pics say it all...

Temporarily lost and then found this sign

Then we went to a park for a picnic.

On September 20, 2015 we had the opportunity of giving our homecoming talks at the Heber 8th ward. Sister Mecham and so many friends and family came to the meeting. She had this picture taken after we spoke.

We gave similar talks at the Barrigada ward, just before leaving for Japan.

Sister Martin's Talk:

Mike and I loved serving as missionaries in the Micronesia Guam Mission. We served as the office secretaries in the mission office. Our responsibilities kept us busy and we never had time to get bored. We will miss the dear friends we made and the wonderful experiences we had there. As members of the church, we have experiences and opportunities that allow us to serve in many ways, which enrich our lives, enlarge our hearts and bring true joy to our souls. This was truly one of those special experiences for us. We will always treasure in our hearts the time we served in Micronesia.
We have enjoyed many blessings while serving a mission. In fact, they began when we first felt the little nudge from the Spirit which led us to see Bishop Luke. We are so grateful that we followed through with that prompting. Once we took the first step, everything fell into place in a timely manner.

I marvel at the wonder and the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ spreading throughout the world. Through small and simple things his work moves forward. It’s amazing when you think about it, that young 18 and 19 year old missionaries are changing the world. The Lord’s gospel is the hope of the world. When Jesus walked the earth, He said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

As we were able to see the growth of the church throughout Micronesia, many times I thought of the prophecy and vision of Daniel. President Hinckley said about this prophecy, “The Church has become one large family scattered across the earth….A marvelous and wonderful thing is coming to pass. The Lord is fulfilling His promise that His gospel shall be as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which would roll forth and fill the whole earth. (seeDaniel 2:31–45; D&C 65:2). A great miracle is taking place right before our eyes.” 

Serving in the mission office gave us the opportunity to be around the young missionaries. It was shaking hands with the Elders and hugging the sisters. They are fine leaders and dedicated to the Lord’s work. Many of them have made great sacrifices to serve. They are young, yet powerful in their testimonies of Jesus Christ. I loved to hear about their teaching experiences and I feel the spirit when I am around them.

One of my responsibilities in the mission office was to help process new missionary applications. Many were new converts that were only members a year, desiring to serve a mission. After they received their mission call, we would see them before they departed for the MTC. Many of them only had the clothes on their backs when they arrived in Guam-A testimony to me of the truthfulness of this gospel that it changes the lives and hearts men.

We enjoyed our association with other senior couples. Senior missionaries can have fun and do whatever activities they normally do with their spouse or family. We got together often. We learned about the history on Guam, shared our testimonies and strengthened one another as we enjoyed this wonderful experience together.

Attending many convert baptisms was a beautiful blessing. When one makes covenants with the Lord, you can feel His spirit. I felt the joy of witnessing a brother or sister come unto Christ. We were fortunate that we were able to attend many baptisms in Guam. I remember one month recording 80 baptisms for the mission.

I admit, at first, I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that was necessary to manage the mission office.  I became frustrated with myself when I made mistakes or couldn’t remember something. However, my husband, and dear companion, was a support to me. He encouraged me and was always positive.  He helped me see some of the miracles working in the office.

I realized that if I put forth my best effort and sincerely prayed for the Lord’s help, He would help me with what I lacked. Sometimes missionaries would call me and I knew they were inspired to call because there was something I needed from them. Or thoughts would come to my mind of things I needed to do.

One time a Elder Selander called because he was planning to go home earlier to go to school and needed me to make the departure arrangements. As the time got closer to his return home, he called me again and asked me if I had made the arrangements. I told him that I did not remember that conversation. He said, “That’s good because I want to extend my mission.” He did extend his mission and he was the senior Elder to open a new island for missionary work. Within just a few months there were about 40 people attending church weekly on that island.  I found that things seem to always work out for the good even when I thought I made a mistake.

It was a privilege to serve under two inspired mission presidents. The responsibility and schedules they keep are incredible. I think it’s the most demanding calling in the church. They truly receive wisdom, strength and power from the Lord to fulfill their responsibilities. Transfers were challenging because circumstances and inspiration many times came at the last minute. One of my responsibilities was to make all the mission airline flights. Almost every transfer there were flight changes made for missionary transfers.

One day a sister missionary came out of the mission president’s office. She was crying because she was going back to an area where she had served for many months without success and she was placed with a companion she did not get along with. Elder Martin told her that maybe now would be different and the people she taught before would be ready. This was her last transfer before going home. It turned out to be the best part of her mission. She was instrumental in several baptisms and she contacted lice and her companion would pick the lice out of her hair which bonded their relationship. Heavenly Father inspires mission presidents to know where and when his missionaries need to serve.

I also was able to witness the mantel of the calling of the mission president change from President Mecham to President Zarbock. As I watched the new mission president greet some of his missionaries, I saw a spiritual mantel of priesthood power around him. The spirit bore witness to me that he was the new mission president and that this is truly the Lord’s work and he knows his servants and his missionaries.

Whenever I or anyone asked President Zarbock, our mission president, how he is doing? He always says, “I’m living the dream.” I imagine that many might think that living on a tropical island, would be living a dream. However, sometimes jokingly, Sister Zarbock, the mission president’s wife, replies, but why do I have to live your dream?  Mike and I believe that we were living the dream. One of the reasons is because of the miracles we witnessed and watched how the Lord blesses his missionaries. I’d like to share some of the miracles.

One summer Elder Barrus was called to be the new Assistant. He was serving on Pohnpei and needed to come to Guam as soon as possible to serve with Elder Peterson. Elder Ashcraft (former assistant) was sent to Saipan for his last transfer. During the summer months the flights to Guam are booked with summer tourist. They fly from Honolulu to Guam stopping in the Marshall Islands and then in Micronesia and then Guam. The flight I booked for Elder Barrus was 10 days out. Friday afternoon,  Elder Peterson asked me if there was anything we could do to get Elder Barrus to Guam and could he fly standby. I said, “He can try standby, but it will take a miracle to get him here.” Monday morning when I walked in the office, there was Elder Barrus. I said, “Elder you are a miracle.”

One last miracle blessing I want to share is during the month of July.  There was a fast approaching potential typhoon that was on track to hit Guam with 105 mph winds. Flights had been arranged for over 20 young missionaries to fly into Guam for Mission Leadership Council and all 8 couple missionaries had flights to attend our Senior Couple Conference.  This caused a concern for all those involved. Many prayers were offered and we frequently watched the weather storm track. As we watched we realized the speed of the tropical storm began to slow way down and then it randomly altered its course. Prayers were answered and all missionaries made their flights safely. It was a wonderful miracle to behold.

It’s a joyful blessing keeping in touch with our family through video calling. As senior couples, we can call or talk to our family whenever we want. We have 8 children. We decided to video call each family once a month. How fun it was to interact with them and see them. We looked forward to our calls. Our family was really supportive of us serving a mission. Mike kept a Blog too, so they could see what we were doing.

Mike and I felt so blessed to serve a mission.  We missed our family dearly, but the experience was so incredible.

This is the Lord’s work and He is in charge. His work is going forth. His gospel is spreading over the earth.

 I have a testimony of the real need for senior couples. They bring their different talents and skills and strengthen the mission in so many ways.

I have a testimony of the Restoration and establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and God the father appeared to Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith received all the keys and authority of the priesthood needed by John the Baptist, Peter, James and John.

The Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and showed him the gold plates which were translated into the BoM. If one will read the BOM and pray they will know that it testifies of Jesus Christ.
I have a desire for our grand children to serve missions and we hope to serve another mission too.
In the name of Jesus Christ Amen. 

Brother Martin's Talk:

Sister Martin and I were given the topic “Joy of Living the Gospel”. The Joy we’ve received serving in the Micronesia Guam Mission is beyond description. But I’ll try to give you a sample of the last year and a half.

Let me begin by saying that it’s never convenient to serve a mission. There are so many reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t go. But there are more reasons to go. If we set righteous goals, the Lord will help us move mountains, even if it is a mountain of debt. The few years before coming on a mission, Sister Martin and I worked hard to earn money and eliminate debt. When we needed a new car, we would buy a good used car, trying to avoid loan payments. Most loans take away your extra savings and put you in chains. Our moto was, simplify. We attacked it hard by selling stuff, selling our camper, eating out less, canceling our satellite/cable TV, canceling our land line phone, selling my truck (that was tough) and many other things in order to get out of debt and save for a mission.

About my truck, when we decided to go on a mission and had our mission call, I knew I needed to sell my truck. I listed it one evening for what I thought it was worth, definitely above book value. The next morning we received a call from a woman who had seen my truck parked at our home for a few months, wishing it was for sale so she could buy it. She paid the full price immediately. Do you think that’s a coincidence? No way. We were praying for God’s financial help to go on a mission. He blessed us.  

Too much joy to describe. Sister Martin and I were very happy serving together in the mission office for the past year and a half. I thought to myself, why am I so happy? It’s a 60 hour a week desk job, doing paper work, filing, paying bills, taking calls from missionaries, accounts receivable clerks and stressed landlords, ordering and shipping tires and car parts, buying cell phones, taking cars down to repair shops with cockroaches running around you, and getting paid $0.00 to do it. To some people it may sound like I’m crazy. But the pay, or “Blessings and Joy”, I’ve received, you can’t put a price to it.

What do the scriptures say about blessings…

Remember the story of Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon when they were arguing with lawyers such as Zeezrom. Amulek was helping Alma do missionary work and talked of Blessings he had received since knowing Alma.

Alma 10:11

11 For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed, and the blessing of the Lord hath rested upon us according to the words which he spake.

Each of us can receive extra blessings by accepting callings and trying to do our best. We all just do the best we can and God knows we are not perfect.

Have I made mistakes on my mission? Yes, and I hope God forgives me through the merciful atonement of Jesus Christ, for all my sins, weaknesses and mistakes.

I’ll mention one mistake I made. In July, I got confused and didn’t pay a Saipan Island utilities bill, thinking it was an apartment we had closed. The Saipan missionaries called me up and said that their water and power had been turned off. I realized my error and felt really bad. The two Elders had to move into the Zone Leader’s apartment. Little did I know what would happen next. One week later on August 2nd, Typhoon Soudelor hit, damaging the main power lines and the power plant. All the power and water in the whole island of Saipan was shut off. Weeks later Saipan finally got one of their diesel generators to start. It is estimated that by this November, most of the power and water service will be restored. Until then it’s like camping out.

You have to look for and notice the blessings in your life. Sometimes we notice little tender mercies. For example, several weeks ago in the evening, the Assistants – Elder Striplin and Elder Gibb called me and said that their key card to lock the Mission office door didn’t work anymore. We told them we would be there in 20-30 minutes. Just as we were leaving our apartment, Elder Hamilton was just going in his apartment (Coincidence? Not likely). Sister Martin mentioned to him where we were going and he told us his card didn’t work either until the FM office fixed it. He asked us to take his card just in case ours didn’t work. Sure enough, when we arrived our key card didn’t work. Having his key card saved us an extra trip. Another blessing.

Blessings from getting sick on a mission.

Last November, Sister Martin caught the bad sickness most everyone and I caught. We stayed inside our apartment after work each night and over the weekend. What do you do when you're stuck inside your apartment?

Well, you could do Family History work. That's what I did and was able to find some missing ancestors. I was talking to our Family History couple, and Sister Hurst suggested I try looking on findagrave.com. I had never found much there before and was amazed to find a variety of clues to help continue my research. I found a head stone and a death certificate which gave me clues to eventually add 19 more family ancestors to my family history. What a blessing to have these great Senior Family History couples. Many more are needed out there.
When Sister Martin and I received our call to serve on Guam, my first thoughts came from my business dealings on a project which included our Utah manufactured garage doors on some homes built on the naval base for officers and their families. The project was suddenly stopped when they discovered an undetonated 1000 lb. WW2 bomb. It was a year or two before the project got started back up and the garage doors were installed on the homes in Guam.
Shortly after we arrived in Guam, a young woman walked in the Mission Office door. She said she had just been transferred to the Navy base in Guam. I greeted her and she exclaimed that she had just got on the church web site and put in a request for missionaries to contact her so she could learn more about the Gospel. But said she couldn’t wait, looked up the mission address and drove straight over.

The spirit of the Lord filled the room and the joy I felt was so strong it makes me think of a popular song that attempts to describe Happiness and a room without a roof. More than that, songs that Sister Shelton taught us in Primary like, “I will follow God’s plan” popped in my head.

I told her that Elder Ramiterre, who was just about to return home, and had been serving on the Island of Yap, was weighing his suitcase in the other room and would be happy to teach her immediately. She agreed and so Elder Ramiterre grabbed two other Elders and they went over to the Church and taught her about our loving Heavenly Father. They taught her about ancient Prophets. They taught her about Jesus Christ’s death atonement, resurrection and His 12 Apostles. They taught about the Great apostasy and then how the Prophet Joseph Smith helped to restore the True Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Priesthood, and by the gift and power of God, translated the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. They taught her how we have living Apostles and a Prophet on the earth today that receive revelation from God to help and guide each of us to true, lasting happiness.

She was touched by the Spirit of truth and accepted Elder Rameterre’s challenge to be baptized. She was baptized two months later. The Joy Sister Martin and I have been blessed with is to attend over 50 baptisms, almost weekly for the last 18 months.

Some of our young missionaries served on islands with no running water, no power, no stores to buy food, catching scabies (sometimes called the seven year itch), dealing with rats, bed bugs and other creatures, learning to use a machete for service projects after typhoons, enduring thefts, and more. All of this was a small price to pay to help people and themselves, become converted to the true Gospel of Christ.

I’ll end with a statement I made on our mission blog last November. “It's an amazing blessing to be around these great missionaries who have chosen to give their time and resources for 1 1/2 to 2 years for unselfish, unpaid service to the people of Micronesia and to the Lord Jesus Christ who we love and serve. All the glory and all the credit, goes to God for all the good works that may be accomplished here”.

What a blessing it was to attend general conference rebroadcast with one of the newly baptized members of the church. After listening to the living prophets, and being filled with Joy and the spirit of the Holy Ghost, he exclaimed to me, “I had no idea”. 

The Spirit had born witness to my heart and his that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet of God, and the Apostles and leaders who spoke gave true inspired information that we needed to hear.


In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2015

2nd Stop Los Angeles California

After leaving Japan, we headed for California. Since we had a nephew getting married in the Los Angeles Temple near our mission release date, we added this stop.

Missing the temple for a year and a half was challenging. Visiting two temples within one week, what a great blessing and opportunity. We decided to stay at Azul Inn across the street from the temple.

After splurging on dinner at Lawry's Prime rib we decided to go see the LA Temple grounds.

At Lawry's

It was beautiful. We ran into a senior couple at the visitor's center that shared some of their miracles and conversion stories. They mentioned that people from all over the world visit the LA temple visitor's center. The stories were inspiring.

The next day, just before the wedding, we started meeting some family at the visitor's center. 

Happy reunions. After the wedding was picture time.

The Happy Couple

Then the reception for more pics.

Sunday after church...

Saying goodbye to the Hossfields before their drive home. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our Trip Home - First Stop...Japan

Sister Martin and I decided to take a visit to Japan on our way home from Guam. I, Elder Martin, served in he Kobe Mission over 30 years ago and was grateful for this opportunity to go back, even though my Japanese is rusty.

We were able to visit the Tokyo Temple, the Okamachi Ward (where I served as a young missionary), many sights in Kyoto and much more. There were a few people that noticed us as Missionaries and were excited to talk to us. One lady and her daughter from Hong Kong even asked to take a picture together.

Here's a few pictures and a travel log...

A cool view from the plane after taking off near Guam

After arriving in Kyoto, we hired an Ebisuya Rickshaw driver, Suguru-San, to take us to a few sights like the Arashiyama Bamboo forest. He was very animated and fun.

Then we hiked up the mountain to Monkey Park. Quite a hike. 

We saw some church members from Utah along the way. 

Feeding peanuts to the Monkeys

Nice view of the city from Monkey Park
Took the train and a taxi to Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion). The fall leaves were just beginning to change. It was a hot day.

Night on the town. Dinner (Japanese Cuisine) and a show by a Maiko (Geisha or Geiko in training).

We enjoyed a tour with 86 year old, Joe Okada who calls himself, "The Last Samurai". We went to many interesting Kyoto shops. He taught everyone to write their name in Japanese Katakana. 

Japanese Calligraphy

Joe from Florida - Balancing elephant game

Visited a bakery shop for some sweet breads

Joe gave us bread to feed the turtles, Koi (carp), Pigeons and Ravens

A couple was about to be married getting wedding photos taken,

Visited beautiful gardens of the Imperial Palace

The leaves were starting to change
And then Joe gave us his Samurai demonstration. He chopped apples thrown in the air with his sword. Joe said his goal was to be around for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Japan. After that he doesn't care how long he lives.

We then went to an Origami class. We want to teach our grandchildren how to make these frogs, etc.

Took the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Hime-ji Castle

Before arriving we purchased a discounted 7-day "Japan Rail Pass" (sold to tourists only). It gave unlimited access to many of the JR Trains in Japan for the week.

So many beautiful Photo-opps in Japan.

Stopped for a little Tako-Yaki (Octopus fried in batter)
Went to church at Okamachi Ward in Osaka where I served my mission in the early 80's. I didn't recognize anyone since it was so long ago. It was the fifth Sunday, and the members invited us to join them for a pot-luck lunch after church.

While I was showing pictures of my former mission to the brother sitting next to me, he recognized one of the pictures as the brother sitting directly across the table from me. 

He introduced himself as Brother Kobashi. I remembered him. He used to hang out with the missionaries when he was a recently baptized member. He said he served a mission in Sendai Japan shortly after I went home. He didn't recognize me at first but I remembered I had a few old mission pics of him 33 year earlier in my tablet. I showed him pictures that I had of him and of what I used to look like so long ago. We had a good time talking about the past.  

So, we decided to take another picture of him holding a Book of Mormon like the one from the 80's. 


Brother Kobashi, Elder Martin, Sister Martin

We met some Kobe Mission missionaries - Elder Hill, from Oregon and Elder ??, from Utah

Visited the old missionary apartment on church property that is now a classroom.

1983 - Elder Martin and Elder Bishop

2015 - Elder Martin 
We took a tour with author Judith Clancy, writer of several books on Kyoto food and sights. We started in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. She had us sample quite a few different foods. Very interesting.

Elder Martin and Judith Clancy in front of a natural herb shop

Trying some fresh Bluberry Mochi(pounded rice) - Quite good 

Elder and Sister Martin in the Nishiki Market

On a roof top of a Supermarket - They grown things sold in their store here.

Trying out some Black Sesame Ice Cream with soy bean powder - Also good

We had lunch in a room with a small entrance.

We had the opportunity to go up in the mountains to a beautiful garden called Sanzen-in in O-hara. Amazing gardens. Unlike other sights, everyone talked softer there so all could enjoy the beautiful peaceful gardens. Light rain made the garden glisten. It was truly an amazing garden.

Sister Martin in the Hydrangea Garden  

Walking back to the bus stop.
Off to Tokyo on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train)

Yes...6:23 AM

Thank goodness the signs change from Japanese to English

Two hours and forty minutes later we arrived in Tokyo.

First stop Tokyo LDS Temple. It's been 18 months since we've had the opportunity to go to the Temple.

We also dropped by to see a few people we had worked with in the Asia North Area Church Offices.

We had a little extra time so we contacted Sachiko Aizaki of Kongo Door. They are the Martin Garage Door Dealer in Japan that I used to work with a lot. We met with her and Kongo Door President, Takeshi Sadohara. We had a fun conversation, talking about garage door experiences and the upcoming Japan Summer Olympics in 2020.

They said they were looking forward to their container arriving soon with doors and a sample of the new products.

Their office is on the top floor of this building

View from their office

With Takeshi Sadohara and Sachiko Aizaki of Kongo Door
We then visited the Ginza area on our way to Tokyo station to catch the 185 mph train back to Kyoto.

Back in Kyoto - We took the train to Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari

Saw some interesting birds to take pictures of.

Then we took the train over to Kiyomizu-dera (meaning pure water)

 It was quite a long walk from the train station. Of course, plenty of shops along the way.

What an amazing opportunity to visit a beautiful country with wonderful people.

Next stop...LA