Here comes the junk man

That's a sound I love to hear , for one thing , it cleans out our storage room of all the plastic and cans and paper that Ciejay has saved to sell to the junk man.For Ciejay it brings a smile to her face , she saves the recyclable things to sell to the junk man and she calls it her "hair money" . The little bit of Baht that she gets adds to the (my) pocket change cup that she keeps on my computer table and when it's full it's time to go to the hair lady in the village, to get a cut and wash and style and sometimes even a dye job , ( when the gray comes peeking thru).
Recycling is sooo easy here in Thailand , because the junk man comes around with his truck and weight scales about once a month to buy from the folks, things that he can buy for a few baht per kilo and hopefully sell in the big city to the larger recyclers for a little profit . Some do this as a way of making a living and a few others in Wang Pho, do it for a week-in or part- time job to add to their monthly income or to help make the payments on the new truck or to pay for the building of a new home, that's the case, for one young couple that comes by.
Ciejay keeps her plastic in one bag and cans in another, all neat for the junk man , and me I am just happy to see it saved for a good cause ,and for the good of Mother Earth, the more we recycle and reuse , the less non biodegradable stuff that goes into the land fields and is dumped alone our highways and by-ways to stay forever polluting our land and landscape and adding another eyesore to our beautiful earth, and the area that we call home.
Do you recycle???  I remember in America it was a pain in the neck to do, because you had to have different color containers , and everything sorted out for the garbage men or they wouldn't pick it up and when they did , if it was something that they didn't want  they would just throw it back on your lawn and drive away , and you never saw a reduction on you (very high) garbage bill each month. Things here in are so different and the "JUNK MAN" makes it sooo easy to recycle , I have found it to be so , and I hope if you live in the LOS or in a place where they take recycling seriously that you do all you can to pitch -in and help , If we don't do it WHO WILL??.  Malcolm

Vegetarian Festival - The Crazy Final Night

Until last year, I had only heard that the final night procession in Phuket Town, marking the end of the vegetarian festival, was "a bit mad". And I had seen live coverage on local TV with firecrackers being thrown everywhere as statues of the 9 emperor gods were paraded through the streets and Ma Song (the possesses spirit mediums) danced with firecrackers exploding around their bare feet. Over the last 10 years I have been to plenty of festival events, seen plenty of blood and pierced faces and walked through the morning processions also featuring lots of firecrackers. Somehow that last night always seemed a bit too crazy for me. I heard of people getting injured by fireworks, hardly surprising as they are being thrown all over the place! Well, last year I had a little taster, went into town with my wife and kids although they stayed well away from the crazy bits and I left by about 10:45pm - it goes on until after midnight. But I did learn you have to be dressed properly - long sleeves, long trousers, shoes (not sandals), earplugs, face mask, and it's not for the faint-hearted!

So this year I tried again, got dressed up in white, added a white towel for head and neck protection and headed into town about 9:30pm. The main action area is around the clock tower circle next to the Metropole hotel, and I hear that the "Cue Bar" on the circle is a good place to watch from .. maybe next year, although I do prefer to be in the street and feel the action! I found fellow blogger Tim down by the circle and we waited with many others for the procession to begin.

Crowds gathering

Along the streets were many tables filled with offerings of fruit and incense and candles. The Ma Song stop at the tables and take offerings and distribute them to people in the crowd as they pass by.

Ready for the Parade

Anyone driving through the streets on a scooter or car was having firecrackers thrown at them - even with no procession the noise was fairly intense and face-masks essential to avoid breathing too much smoke - actually, already planning for next year, I'm going for a more industrial face-mask next time, not just a simple one from the pharmacy. When things really kick off, actually a scuba set would not be a bad idea!

The exact route of the procession I am not sure about. There are people coming from various directions from different shrines and they do wander all around the old town, but the circle is the well known center of activities. Things started before 10pm as groups of guys carried statues of the gods and got pelted with fireworks from all sides. Only the brave! I was using only my phone for photos. Still lacking a nice camera and not sure if I'd bring one anyway as cameras get coated in dust. I saw "pro" photographers and they had cameras all wrapped up in plastic. Another "maybe" for next year!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I tried dashing out into the street to take quick snaps. I am not sure the iPhone was quite up to this challenge, the noise of the firecrackers played havoc with the display, creating bands of light across the pictures. And I was getting a bit too close to being hit by fireworks. One did get me in the back of the neck and the smoke would very quickly get to be choking, so it was a matter of dashing in for a photo and then retreating! Very hard to get a photo with all the exploding lights and general darkness, it's a bit of pot luck really even with a good camera. I decided that some video might work better.

(above) Some video taken with iPhone on the last night of the vegetarian festival.

Maybe next year with a new camera that can also shoot video ... The procession passed by the circle, Tim and I cut through to the next street where the procession was now passing having done a little loop round the old town. In a narrower street I found the firecracker smoke really can be a bit nasty. You really do need to be prepared. I saw one guy watching with no facemask, trying to cover his face with his hand. I had a spare mask in my pocket and gave it to him.

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) So, the guys on the left are holding strings of firecrackers on bamboo poles above the group of guys carrying a god statue, while their helpers on the right try to use towels to fan away the smoke a bit! It is just a little bit nuts! Well, I'd pretty much had enough by 11pm, although really had wanted to follow the procession down to the sea at Sapan Hin to see what goes on there. But .. too much smoke. I found a quite side street and a stall selling cold orange juice. Much needed! And then, walking back to the car which was parked on quiet Thalang Road, I found another section of the procession heading through the old town. Still crazy, but not quite as crazy as down by the circle. And with old buildings to make a nice photo!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Passing by the former Standard Chartered bank, built in 1907 as Phuket Town grew rich from tin mining. I wonder what the vegetarian festival was like then?

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Last night procession in old Phuket Town.

Headed home by about 11:30pm. Could still smell smoke 2 days later. Clothes still smelled of smoke after being washed! Yes, it's a little crazy, but not too bad with some preparation. Need a better mask, might need a hat, and I think next year I'll risk a nice camera! Well, the vegetarian festival is done for another year. What's next?

Related pages on Jamie's Phuket

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - More Information
Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

My favourite Phuket festival is over for another year! The vegetarian festival is just a little bit crazy. A lot of people look at photos and can't quite understand what or why. The photos that get shown most often show the pierced faces and maybe a bit of blood for good measure. Sorry for that in advance! The festival lasts 11 days. This year it started on 12th October and the final ceremonies were on 22nd October. There were morning street parades in Phuket Town every day from 14th - 21st October, and plenty of local street parades and evening events such as fire walking and bladed ladder climbing. There's a lot going on. A lot to see. And the food too! The general idea is that people will eat only vegan food during the festival, or at least the last 3 days, to cleanse the body. Those who take part with pierced faces in the processions are known as Ma Song, and they are said to be possessed by the spirits of the emperor gods. Not all have pierced faces. Some take on the spirits of birth and death gods. You see men walking bent over like they are 100 years old and women skipping down the road like children. They too are Ma Song. All with their groups of helpers. And then come groups of young men carrying statues of the gods, and the local people throw firecrackers into the street to greet them. The smoke and noise (and blood) can be too much for a timid soul! The processions are to bring good luck to the community.

I've been going to watch parts of the festival since about 2005. The first few years I was in Phuket, to be honest I had no idea about the festival! I guess it was not promoted that much. It's certainly better known now, but even now, you really don't see too many tourists watching the processions or visiting the shrines. I know most people come here for beaches, sun, nice food, fair enough. If this became just a tourist spectacle, it would mean a lot less. Well, this year I have to say, until the last few days I was not really in the mood for the festival. I was on holiday until October 17th, so was not in Phuket for half the festival, and when I got back here, I was tired and felt no great desire to wake up early. Finally by the 20th I was "in the zone" after a couple of days eating vegan food (I normally do that for the whole duration of the festival). Very early on October 20th, I rode my scooter to Kathu shrine, not far from our house. I was there by just after 5:30am. The good stuff happens early.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

(above) It's early morning, the Ma Song are getting ready. Some odd stuff happens. Some of them really do look possessed. I do struggle with reality here. This can't be a show. Who is the show for?

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) The same guy a few minutes later at the shrine with his helpers.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) And a few moments after the previous photo. Is this real life? This all happened before dawn, timestamp on the 3 photos is from 5:42 - 5:49am. And the shrine is already very crowded by this time. There are people coming and going, lighting incense and candles and saying prayers and there are Ma Song suddenly rushing into the shrine in an agitated state, their helpers aid them to put on ceremonial clothes. Some of them head outside to get pierced.

(above) A video inside Kathu shrine, a little before 6am on October 20th 2015. You can see several Ma Song approach the altar in the shrine. I try my best to blend into a wall and keep out of the way.

Outside the shrine, it's just as crowded. And there are faces getting pierced everywhere. In some past years I have tended to take a lot of rather gory piercing photos. Other times, more "spiritual" photos. Well, to be honest, there's no plan, I just hang around and snap photos of what I see. There did not seem to be too many pro photographers around on this day, sometimes I see plenty of big lenses! I find that at Kathu it can be a little quieter, as I guess the pros get their photos earlier in the festival, plus the biggest street processions from Bang Neow and Jui Tui shrines in Phuket Town are on the preceding 2 mornings. However, I did bump into blogger Tim (see his photos of the same morning at Kathu Shrine) and pro Adriano (see his website @ Phuket Paparazzi). We all wandered around squeezing through the crowds to get a few decent photos. Can be hard sometimes with so many people, you just can't get into the right position for the right photo, or you have to try and stick your lens between people's legs! Well, here's a couple of pierced Ma Song ...

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

Heavy Face Piercing

And a non-pierced female Ma Song. Actually at Kathu there is some female piercing. Some shrines have only males. The ladies who do get pierced tend to not go overboard like the men!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

By 6:30am, the procession was ready to leave the shrine and walk to Phuket Town - and back! About 20km of walking. On a hot day, with spikes in your cheeks, or carrying statues? It's got to be hard work. The procession starts through the old village of Kathu and the locals greet the Ma Song and the gods with a barrage of firecrackers. Strings of firecrackers are hung on long bamboo poles and dangled over the road as the parade passes. Or people just throw firecrackers in the street at the feet of the Ma Song. For 15 minutes it's absolutely nuts. Taking photos is a bit of a gamble. If you want to get close to your subject, you're going to get hit by shrapnel and the smoke is choking at times and also means you can barely see the procession! Having felt rather apathetic towards the festival this year, this was what was needed. Get out there and smell the smoke!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) Carrying the emperor gods through the streets in Kathu village. It's all a bit crazy for a few minutes!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Ma Song, pierced and non-pierced walking through Kathu village.

By 7am the procession has just about cleared Kathu. It's quite a hike to town. Now, if I had more time, one of these days, I'd like to walk all the way with the procession. Just to get an idea of what they go through. And also, one of these days, I'd like to see what happens when they return to the shrine and the pierced faces get un-pierced and presumably the Ma Song get released of the spirits? There is a lot to see and understand at the festival. Next blog post coming soon (part 2) will cover the final night in Phuket Town. Now that really IS crazy!

Back at D.J.'s International Buffet, Garden City, NY

It has been almost two years since we have been to D.J.'s International Buffet. This is an Asian buffet that is a considered to be a step above most of the others in this area. It has been around for a long time - closed suddenly, reopened a year or more later, with a new owner though keeping most of what it had been prior including most of the menu. Since then it has changed in menu and interior decor a few times. There have been newspaper ads in the past several months - maybe longer - saying new menu and changes. There are usually coupons and we clip them just in case we decide to go. We don't generally go. The price for dinner here is $19.95 on weekdays and $27.95 from Friday through Sunday. This is just too much for just any meal. We have in the past gone to this buffet for "special occasions" when spending the additional amount for dinner for the two of us to celebrate seems more justified. We just had a special occasion and considered two "special" buffets to go to -  Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet or D.J.'s International Buffet. Since the dinner price at Minado is $31 on a weeknight we decided to go to International Buffet - and we had a $3 off each dinner coupon. Prices for dinner do not include the beverage.

Visit to a coconut farm #2

I have already posted pictures of the trip to the coconut farm , but I forgot to post a few pictures I was able to shoot at the coconut factory . This place was amazing , I never knew they did soooo much with the coconut , the tree , the leaves , the husk , the fiber , the meat , the juice , they even make charcoal and mulch for gardens out of the husk , and ship to other countries , and when the trees get old they saw them into lumber to build homes , and as you can see in the pictures , the ladies working there bring  little kids and babies to work with them.

This is a must do if you ever get a chance to visit.

Visit to a Coconut Farm

My best friend B-Bie , manager of the Big Sheep Resort here in Wang Pho , was raised in Prachuap Khiri Khan, he still has a Mom and brother and lots of family that live there now . We were talking one day and he was telling me about growing up in Prachuap and that his family owned a coconut farm and that his childhood was spent on a coconut farm , well this was all very interesting to me as I had no idea about raising coconuts for commercial use.And all the many uses of the coconut and the tree and all the bi-products made from it. I guess I was asking to many questions , and B-Bie said ," next week we go to Prachuap and see my Mom and the coconut farm and my friend coconut factory and then you see for yourself and don't have to ask , and you can stay at my friends little resort on the beach and we will drive around the country and you can take lots of pictures."Well I could hardly wait till time to go , it is a seven hour drive from Wang Pho and a very beautiful drive to say the least . Was a easy drive, as far as directions go , from Wang Pho 321 to right before Bangkok turn right on Hwy. # 4 and away you go .We left home about six o'clock a.m.and,we got there just in time for lunch . We checked in at the resort and headed straight for a little beach side restaurant , that was one of B-Bie's favorite , and as it turned out will be #one on my list on our next visit also.From there we went to the country side for a beautiful drive and then , a long trip down a dirt road to the family coconut farm , you will not believe it, but it was harvest time on the farm and they were cutting the coconuts from the tall and I mean tall trees and bringing them to the house to be sorted and counted and ready for the factory truck to pick up the next day. I thought that you got coconuts once a year like any other crop , but nooooo they can harvest them every month , and lots of them too,as you will see in the pictures . After the harvest and show and tell and join in the work time ,it was time to eat and our little resort had a great cook ,and we ate our dinner right on the beach again. Now the great thing about this beach is there was no one else and no other resorts around for miles we, were just like on a Island all to our selves . What a great and relaxing evening we had . At night the squid boats were out in force, right in front of the resort a couple of hundred yards,. out , but we could see their lights and watch them pulling in their nets. it was breath taking to say the least , next morning breakfast at another restaurant right on the beach again with very few folks around, and a great view as you will see in the pictures. and then off to the coconut factory, but not before a great foot massage , to watch the process from start to finish .I could almost write a mini BOOK about the experience there , but will just show pictures and let you see it in action.I would like to say that it was a high light of times in my travels around Thailand.That afternoon ,after it cooled down we were off to a Thai Temple that was located way up on a mountain top , were you could really as they say "see for miles ". so much to tell , but again will let the pictures speak for themselves . Then before going back to the resort B-Bie suggested we go to his favorite spot , known by few , and have a cup of coffee before dinner .I tried to buy a small little house that was empty , just so I could live there part of the year and have it for friends, the rest of the time . But they have big plans for the area if the economy picks up again , and said no , I hope somehow it never happens for this beautiful place as it would be a shame to spoil it at all , even tho they have started a little already . Then off to the resort for dinner and , this evening a swim in the ocean for me and feet wet for Ciejay, a good nites sleep and then breakfast and a nice drive back home . Needless to say this place called Prachuap is a beautiful place to visit and on our list for a longer stay this summer . Thanks to my friend B-Bie for this wonder time and
for being a great tour guide. Malcolm

Back to Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant, Lititz, PA

Even though our last article on Lititz Family Restaurant appeared this past April, it has been about a year since we actually were there and we returned recently for dinner. We have been trying to go to some of the smaller, local PA Dutch buffets on recent visits. We were looking forward to getting back to this one.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 review

Yup, this review is spoiler-free!

TMNT #50 creative team: Tom Waltz (writer/story), Kevin Eastman (story), Bobby Curnow (story/editor), Mateus Santolouco (art), Cory Smith (flashback art), Ronda Pattison (colors), Shawn Lee (letters)

Artwork by Mateus Santolouco and Ronda Pattison
Back in 2011, IDW Publishing rebooted the TMNT franchise. Everything about the iconic mutants felt familiar, but there were new faces and plenty of organic and exciting story changes along the way. Who would have thought the Ninja Turtles are now a reincarnated family? It sounds tough to swallow, but they absolutely pulled it off.

Our 12th Year Retired in Thailand and Loving It

Today is our 12th anniversary, in Thailand , we got here the 6th and started remodeling the house on the 7th , and moved in on the King's birthday December the 5th , it's been 12 great years and we love our little home, and small piece of paradise here in Thailand , if you want a vacation of a lifetime come on over we have room for you , and we'll pick you up at the airport , or better yet take the train ride (3 1/2 hours) to Wang Pho train station , 3 blocks from our house, and we'll be standing there when you get off the train.
 This was how we saw our house for the first time
 This is the second remodel , we decided we wanted a cottage, and a new color paint job  which we did ourselves inside and out  

September 28, 2015

Greetings from Thailand family and friends.  

Happy Birthday to Grandpa Johnson and Scout and Dodge.  It is hard to believe that September is over already.  It is hard to keep track of time here, especially when the seasons don’t change.  I love Fall at home and all the seasons but here it seems it is just a very long summer.  We actually did see a little wind storm the other day that blew leaves around but they weren’t red, yellow or orange leaves.  I think they were the leaves a bus knocked off a tree as it came through the neighborhood.

It is fun for us to hear about school and sports and work and everything you are involved in.  We especially love skyping the grandkids and seeing how much they have grown and how happy they are.  We love you all and are so grateful Families are Forever.  I am sad here when I see faithful members who are so committed and converted to the gospel but aren’t married and don’t have families.  This is Heavenly Father’s plan for us.  In Thailand, the culture pressures are to finish schooling, get a job, provide a home, pay a large dowry and by then they are in their late 30’s.  If they do marry it is usually too late to have children.  The Thai women aren’t supposed to approach anyone and have to wait for the men to show interest but they are too stressed about fulfilling Thai Culture first.  Any way enough of my rant.  We are having the Asoke Young Single Adults to our home for a Family Home Evening in 2 weeks.  You can guess what the lesson will be on.

We have been busy again.  We finished our MLC meeting.  We had a lot of new Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders so we wanted to do some Leadership activities at the start.  We did the “Float Your Boat” first.  Using one small flat sheet of foil you make a boat using your own idea in order to float in water and hold as many pennies as you can.  The only instructions they were given were to as a team take 7 minutes to accomplish this task.  We didn’t designate a leader in hopes that they would have a challenge or two with agreeing on one design and talking over each other to make their voice heard.  It was funny to watch the different teams.  Then the second activity was “The Egg Drop”.  A leader was designated and only the leader was told the instructions on what their team needed to use and do to accomplish their task.  Then the leaders went back to their teams and led the activity.  Some leaders delegated really well and used their time of 15 minutes effectively.  Other leaders allowed everyone to have a voice in choosing every decision and were scrambling at the end to protect their egg.  All in all only one egg cracked.  Then we had a great MLC conference talking about the characteristics of great leaders and how to lead in their zones and encourage and help the missionaries accomplish the goals they set and how to implement their plan daily, not waiting till just before transfers to scramble and get balanced in their goals.  Kelly has really emphasized Balance in Finding, Teaching for conversion, Baptizing, Retaining and Rescuing Less Actives.  Our goal here is to have 8 stakes at the end of three years.  We have 3 now and there is so much work to be done to grow and establish the church here in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.  Kelly and I actually did a companionship inventory in front of all the missionary leaders.  I think they enjoyed it and I know we benefited from it.  When Kelly asked if there was anything that he could improve on or help with I pulled out a paper scroll I had made and proceeded to drop it and it rolled out across the floor.  They got a good laugh out of that but just so you know I didn’t have anything written on that list. Ha. 
We just finished our first round of Zone Conferences.  That was quite the schedule.   We flew to all but 2 of them.  We met in 5 zones combining 2 zones in 2 of the conferences.  First was Udorn then Chiang Mai, then Ubon and Roi-Et, then Bangkok West and we finished with Bangkok East & Bangkok North.  We met with the zones the evening prior to conference.  Our senior couple over Family History did a presentation to all the missionaries to help them prepare recent converts and members to prepare family names for the temple in Thailand.  While in in Chiang Mai, Kelly had a fabulous experience meeting with a member he knew when he served in Chiang Mai 33 years ago.
(Kelly – When I served my mission 33 years ago, I had the opportunity to serve in Chiang Mai. At that time, the Chiang Mai branch was just a very small branch. I have a picture of this little branch 33 years ago and there are 14 members and 6 missionaries in the picture. We are all standing in front of the house that we met in. The Chiang Mai Branch President was a man named Brayoon. He was very young, having just finished his mission in Thailand just a year earlier. He was full of life and full of love for the gospel. Even with his limited experience he tried so hard to serve faithfully. But over the years, he had periods of activity and periods of inactivity. He went to Germany for a while then came back and was inactive for about 5 years. He came back to Church and was put into the District Presidency. Then, he went inactive again. He has been inactive for many years now. The sister missionaries in Chiang Mai went and visited him. It came up somehow in the conversation that I was the mission president. Brayoon remembered me. Given I was going to be in Chiang Mai I decided to call Brayoon. He answered and I introduced myself. He seemed so happy to hear from me. I invited him to meet me at the Church at 6:30pm that night. At 6:30pm I found him waiting outside the Church. I walked to him and gave him a big hug. We sat and talked for more than an hour. It was so fun. We talked about old times, but mainly talked about his life and the issues that had caused him to go inactive. It was so good to see him, but so sad to learn about his life and his challenges. I encouraged him to come back to Church and to enjoy the blessings of activity in the Church and Gospel. We took some pictures together which I surely cherish.)

Then we had an ice cream social and then we played “Minute To Win It”.  It was so much fun participating with the missionaries.  Kelly and I actually won several events for our teams.  The missionaries enjoy being together and getting to know us as well.  The next day we met in Zone conference from 8 to 3.  When conference was over Kelly would interview the missionaries he hadn’t gotten to yet and I would sit out in the foyer with those waiting for interviews or waiting for their companions.  I wish I had a picture.  I sat down on the floor and the missionaries sat around me in a half circle and said Sister Johnson will you tell us some stories.  They wanted to know all about how Kelly and I met and about our family and questions of the soul.  It was wonderful.   Our theme for this conference was Faith and Diligence.  Kelly and I both believe that training is more than teaching it’s instilling a vision in the trainee of what they can become.    Kelly introduced Fractal Geometry.
(Kelly – This is a concept that shows that shapes are really made up of many similar smaller shapes. For example, a triangle can be broken down into many smaller triangles. The large triangle is made up of even thousands of smaller triangles. Then, because the triangle is made up of triangles, it then takes on the shape of a triangle. I used this concept to teach that we become what we are each day. If we are obedient daily, our overall life will take on the characteristic of an obedient person. If we want to baptize during the month, we have to do the things on a daily basis that lead to a baptism, then if we do the daily things, we will be able to baptize.)
We discussed the difference between being converted to the gospel and converted to the church.  The gospel leads us to Christ and the purpose of the church is to help us live the gospel. We cannot teach what we are not.  How do we teach the gospel if we don’t live the gospel?  How can we teach the Book of Mormon is true if we don’t read it and study it and pray about it?  You cannot convert people beyond your own conversion.

“We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”
Richard G. Scott

Kelly talked about Faith being a commitment to act.

When Joseph Smith went into the grove of trees to pray to Heavenly Father he didn’t pray just to know which church was true he prayed to know which was true so that he might JOIN.  Diligence in prayer is committing to act not just ask.  We showed a segment from our Mission President’s Seminar at the MTC of 2 missionaries teaching Elder and Sister Cook the Restoration and 1st vision in 4 minutes.  It was so moving and the Spirit so strong that Elder and Sister Cook were both crying.  Elder Cook who is an Apostle and has taught the Restoration many times was visibly moved because the missionaries taught by the Spirit.  We had the missionaries do this same role play.  It was surprising how many couldn’t get to the first vision because of too much of an introduction into the reason for the restoration.  They learned the value of knowing for themselves the truth of the message and being prepared to share it, led by the Spirit in order to speak to the hearts of those listening. 
We had missionaries share their favorite scripture stories of faith and diligence.  Kelly had them prepare these before conference not knowing who he might call on.  They were amazing and all chose different people from the scriptures.

Other points of discussion included the following:
·      We discussed motivators for diligence and that missionaries would become more diligent as they felt the magnitude of the trust God has placed in them.
·      We represent Christ and when people see missionaries they should see Him.
·      The application of Faith and Diligence results in the power to achieve.
·      Trust God in His willingness to provide Help no matter how challenging.
·      Strict Obedience.
·      Be sensitive to the Spirit.
·      Be courageous to implement the promptings received.
·      Patience when God lets us struggle in the process.
·      Our motivation should be our Love for God.

·      Romans 8: 38-39. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It was a wonderful Conference and I learned and felt so much.  I learned that in Becoming I need to remember it is not just what Christ saved me from but what he saved me for that should motivate me to be faithfully diligent in becoming who God intends for me to be.  I am so thankful for the gospel, I know it’s true.  Living the gospel leads us to Christ and following Christ will lead us home.  I am grateful for the Savior’s atonement.  I know that God’s grace is what makes it possible to not just return home to Heavenly Father but to be at home and be comfortable there.  Repentance is a gift to be used over and over again as we prepare in this life to change and be perfected in Him.  Stay Faithful! We love you all so much!  We pray for you every day and miss you all but wouldn’t trade this great blessing for anything.  Always make sure your children know you have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they see you live it.  Love you all!!

Mom and Dad

Terri and Kelly