Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Weekend at Arrow Point

John and I escaped from reality Wednesday (17th) and drove up to our timeshare at Arrow Point on Lake Coeur d'Alene for a long, fun weekend. It was an amazing trip. Wednesday, after settling in, Jehkiah and Casey brought Jace and little Nyla for a short visit. They came again on Thursday and had dinner with us and we spent the evening visiting and playing with the kids.
 Jace wrestling with his dad
 Hiding from Grandma 
 Nyla...just being cute
Our condo was awesome. Nice big master bedroom, bath and kitchen. Plenty of room to entertain. The view out the back was breathtaking, especially in the morning when the mist hovered over the lake.

 Friday, Shasta and the kids came and I took them swimming in the pool! We had so much fun. Lots of good bonding with Grandma, which I love!!! Afterwards, we had snacks and lunch back at our place and just hung out! Karen & Travis arrived just about dinnertime.
Karen won tickets to the water park in Hayden so that's where they spent their Saturday! Dad and I drove into Post Falls and met up with Josten and family. Josten's family and Shawnte's crew followed us up to the condo where we hung out for awhile. After Shawnte' left, I took the kids swimming in the pool...again! What fun to have that form of entertainment. I love to swim. We had a great time. Karen was there when we finished so we all got to hang out and visit. I fixed us all dinner; hamburgers, rice-a-roni and corn. Good times.
 Sienna...having some alone time
 Breck...being goofy
 Karen & Sarah...talking "kids"
We drove into Post Falls Sunday morning to attend Sacrament, and to be part of little Alton's blessing. What a wonderful day ~ surrounded by family. Afterward, we went to Sherry's for lunch and visiting. There's never enough time to be with our family!
 Jovi, Owen, Dad and Travis
 Travis & Nyla...she stole his heart
 The guys...talking "teenagers"
 Shasta & Talia
Jehkiah & Nyla

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Playing Catch Up

As usual, I've got to play catch up now that I've allowed too much time to go by. In reality, not much is happening on the home-front other than work, church, and living for Jayden's emails! ha.... Jayden is currently serving as a Trainer in Hrazdan and loving the work. I hope I can get him home when the time comes...ha! 

Elder's Smith and Cornett

*****NEW BABIES*****


We've had three new babies born into the family this year. Jehkiah and Casey kicked the year off with little Nyla in February, Shasta brought little Talia into the world in August, and little Alton was born to Josten and Sarah in October. All are beautiful and healthy.

We've been home bound this year as John had a total right knee replacement in August, and is scheduled for the left knee in December. It's been a lot of recuperation and endurance at our house. We did sneak off one Saturday in September with Karen and Travis and took the grandkids fishing!

Grandpa ~ Colby ~ Tracen
Travis & Tracen bringing in the big one!
Mackenzie....catching the small one! ha...
I swear....it was this big!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Four Months and a Zone Leader

Love getting Jayden's weekly emails!!

June 1, 2014

We had such an amazing opportunity to meet with Elder David A. Bednar, an Apostle of the Lord, like Peter or Paul.  There is so much I could say, but I'll share a few thoughts coming away from that meeting.

First, faith requires action.  We often pray for things and wonder why we aren't getting answers. But does the Lord really work that way?  Does He just give us things?  No! Faith without works is dead, as we learn in James 2.  If you pray for something, that's great.  To pray in faith means to do everything in your power to make it happen, trusting that the Lord will give you strength and will make it possible.

Second, Elder Bednar helped us realize that we don't need an Apostle to answer our questions. Anything we learn is taught to us by the Spirit.  We are meant to act, not to be acted upon.  Have you ever been in a classroom where a teacher gives an hour long boring lecture, and you walk out having learned nothing?  That's being acted upon.  But then let's say you go and you find something you want to learn about and so you get online, learn all about it, think about it throughout the day, talk about it with others, etc, and you find that you know all there is to know about whatever it is!  THAT is acting. Apply that to spiritual things, and I think that's the secret to learning from the Spirit ~ that, and obedience to the commandments of God.  

Finally, I want to testify that David A. Bednar really is an Apostle, called by God.  He is a prophet, seer, and revelator.  I had the opportunity to shake his hand.  The man was filled with humility, and Godly power.  He was filled with the Spirit of God.  I was humbled to be in his presence and feel his genuine love.  

June 8, 2014
I had a really neat experience this week with one of our investigators.  He called and told me that the Book of Mormon, praying, and coming to church had changed his life. How great it was to hear his testimony.  I can honestly say that was one of my happiest moments on my mission, and maybe even my life.  It showed that this really is God's work.  Our lessons with him this week have been so much better, as we have tried to focus on listening and asking inspired questions, like Elder Bednar did with us, thus allowing the Spirit to teach him.  
This week was fun!  We got to dance with some Armenians!  Armenians love dancing. It was awesome.  

Also, we were doing service, and my companion was pulling up some grass with a pickax.  He swung at the ground, hit a low-hanging clothesline, and the pickax bounced back and the sharp, pointy end hit him right above the eye.  He had a huge, nasty gash through his eyebrow.  It was crazy!  We went to a hospital, because it needed stitches, and they literally just put tape on it.  So we came back home and I sealed it up with super glue.  He was really blessed not to have hit his eye.  Kind of scary but made for a good story.  It's healing well.  

June 15, 2014
I got to have a cool experience too, yesterday.  We went up into the mountains into a small forest to help a family pick pine cones and mushrooms to make food from.  What a beautiful landscape. The scenery was amazing. And being in nature was so spiritually uplifting. In the morning, the mission president called me and told me "Tomorrow we're giving you a change of scenery."  I'm getting transferred to a new area to be a zone leader. Transfers here are 12 weeks, and it's only been six weeks, so that came as a surprise. I'm sad to leave my companion and district already, but my new companion is the same guy that was my district leader last transfer!  

June 23, 2014
This was my first week in my new area, a small town called Ashtarak.  I love it here. It's a gorgeous place, with trees canopying the streets, a massive gorge that runs through the town, and mountains in the distance (the two iconic mountains of Armenia, Ararat and Aragats are both visible from here).  The church is very small here, but the members are amazing.  It's a lot warmer here, and we are out walking in it a lot.  But, it's great.  We're trying to work with members and use other, more effective ways to find people to teach, as opposed to just walking and talking to people on the streets. It's hard work, but it's definitely worth it.  I love being here, I love Armenians, and I love being a missionary.  

June 29, 2014
Just want to share a cool experience.  We decided to go say hi to someone the missionaries used to teach here, just to see how she was, if there was anything we could do, etc.  We said hi, she said she'd call, and we left.  But as we got a little ways down the road, she called out at us to come back in.  Her sister and her friend were there, and her friend made her call us back and invite us in because she needed to hear God's word.  That's kind of our specialty... So we had a good discussion and we're going to start teaching them!  Goes to show that God places people in your path when you do the right things and are doing the best you can to use your time wisely and help others. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Have I Done Any Good?

There have been bittersweet emotions these past 6 months as Jayden serves faithfully in the Armenia Yerevan Mission. The feeling of loneliness is overwhelming at times but even that is becoming a shadow of its original intensity. Jayden is loving the work and growing so fond of the people he serves. How can I deny him this experience by holding him back? I finally feel as if I've let go and allowed him to soar. He's an amazing missionary and has already made District Leader. Jayden was born to lead, and born for this time. Of that I am absolutely certain. He has mastered the Armenian language.
So proud of him~

John and I are learning to live life without Jayden being the center of it. We're talking more, dreaming more and laughing more. Key ingredients to a long standing relationship, I think. We've taken a couple of trips. We took a day trip with Kevin & Cindy up to Colville to look at property. We went by way of Lake Roosevelt which involved riding the ferry. That was a great day! Just good conversation, munchies and scenery. 

 Coming around the bend!
 Kevin, Cindy and I on the ferry

 John and Kevin
Snow still on the pass!

On Memorial Day we took a day trip to Packwood with Karen and crew. Spent the day walking around the flea market, then lunch then on a hike. We were so blessed as it was drizzling all day but did not rain until we'd returned from our hike at the Blue Hole. Prayers were answered. Fun day with our kids.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Missionary updates

Jayden's having the time of his life in the beautiful country of Armenia. Here are just a few of the highlights from his letters.

February 10th:
I'm finally here in Armenia!!  I got assigned to serve in Gyumri, Armenia, which is up north.  It's FREEZING COLD. I hate cold weather, snow, and ice, all of which is plentiful here.  But the great thing is, none of that bothers me.  I know that I am exactly where God needs me to be.  And I love these people here.  My second night here I found myself crammed into a taxi with my companion and four other Armenians.  The drivers are psycho, everyone was shouting in Armenian, and I was laughing my head off because I had absolutely no idea what was going on.  

I'm not allowed to use people's names over the Internet, for their own protection.  So, if you ever wonder why I'm being vague, that's why.  

My trainer is so awesome.  His name is Elder M-----. He is such a great example of charity, dedication, and humility.  I know that my assignment here, with him, was inspired.  We are both committed to working hard, having fun, being obedient, and loving the people.  

I have had the opportunity to teach already, and it is definitely a struggle.  I can't really understand most of what other people are saying, and that's a little discouraging.  But I pray for the Spirit to help me understand, and to be there as I speak.  I have felt Heavenly Father's help as I try to help these people and focus on them.  It's not about the language, it's about the people.  

We have one lady that is going to be baptized next month!  That is so exciting, because baptism opens the door to so many other blessings... essentially the Kingdom of God.  We went to her house yesterday and took her to church with us.  

There is a lot of poverty here.  Most people live in run-down concrete buildings.  But all the people at church seem happy.  It goes to show that the Gospel can bring happiness where money or worldly possessions can't.  

I know that I am doing exactly what God want me to be doing right now, and I am so happy to be able to bear my testimony to the people of Armenia, and to all of you that I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and by following, and doing as he would have us do, and by becoming what he would have us become, we can find joy in this life and eternal joy in the next.  

February 16th:
My companion is exactly a year older than me, and his last name is the same as Mom's cousin Sandra's last name.  He actually does kind of like metal haha.  The DL is in the same town, with Elder Pttr from the MTC!  We also have two sisters in Gyumri.  That's it up here though, no one is in the villages or smaller towns.  If they're baptized, we're putting them into covenants they can't keep because they can't get to church.  

Dad and Mom, since I got here, God has blessed us incredibly with new investigators.  We are REJOICING!  But we had to do that before things started taking off.  What a blessing and a miracle.  We went from 2 investigators to 11 in three days.  We are meeting the standards of excellence, and I think we may be one of the only ones.  We are the only ones in our district.  But I don't say that as a means of boasting.  Rather, like Ammon, I'm boasting in the Lord.  He really does guide us, if we are willing and worthy, to the elect who are prepared.  We are blown away by this.  It is such a tender mercy.  

So a couple of "fun" things about Gyumri I forgot to mention last week... The sidewalks aren't paved, so they're covered in snow, but mainly ice, which is super uneven and kills your feet.  Also, the dialect here is different, they call it Gyumri Barbar.  So all the stuff I learned in the MTC has gone out the window... haha not really, it's not too bad, but there are some things that they say that are just completely different than the grammar we learned.  

Also, I've managed to gain 10 pounds since leaving the MTC.  That was a week and a half ago... 

This week has been incredible!  In the past few days we have found several new people to teach, and the work is just taking off.  We started off with 2 people we were teaching when I first got here, and now we have over 10.  I believe this is because my companion and I have great companionship unity.  We both strive to be dilligent, obedient, and consecrated.  We are also both committed to being happy.  The happier we are, we've noticed, the better response we get from people on the street.  We are trying to let our light shine.  We really haven't done anything special to find these people... actually it just felt like they fell right into our lap as we were trying to do our best and talk to everyone.  What a miracle and blessing it has been.  I'm always trying to be grateful to the Lord and show Him that I recognize that these blessings are coming from Him, because I know that humility is one of the most important things in this work.  

February 24th:
So, everyone has mistakes with the language... In Armenian, the only difference between "I know" and "I don't know" is the "ch" sound.  So, I was trying to bear testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, but I said, "There are a lot of things I don't know, but one thing that I definitely don't know is that the Book of Mormon is true."  Fortunately, my companion caught my mistake and corrected it.  

I have such a testimony that as we work hard to do the best we can, God helps us through our challenges.  It's been very hard to understand when people speak to me.  But as I press forward with faith and optimism, I've noticed that everyday I can understand a little more.  I have absolute confidence in the Lord to know that everything doesn't come to us at once, but as we show our faith in Him, He gives us what we need to get through the day.  

March 2nd:
This week has been a lot more difficult as far as the work goes.  We've had people move away or lose interest, and most of the appointments we set this week fell through.  It's been difficult to find new people to teach.  But there was a silver lining--we had a baptism this week!  That was exciting.  The Spirit was strong, and one of our other investigators with a baptismal date was there.  I talked with her about that, and she is excited to be baptized and begin a new life.  I think that makes all the struggling worth it, when you can see the gospel changing lives.  She has told us that before she met us, she used to get angry a lot, but now she turns to the Lord and reads the Book of Mormon.  We want to help her value prayer more too, so she has that strength to rely on in times of need.

I know that through our struggles, we become stronger.  We often don't understand our trials or weakness in the middle of our struggling, but if we remain faithful, and rely on the Lord for our strength, we will be able to look back and see where we have come.  

March 16th:
So we had another lady be baptized this week!  She is so amazing!  Her faith is incredible.  

We had a member of our Area Presidency come and visit us this week.  He asked us to exercise faith in the Lord that if we spoke to everyone we could, with real hope and intent to be able to teach them instead of just getting contact information (which almost never works out), the Lord would bless us with more people to teach.  He asked us to change our thoughts and attitudes to ones of hope.  As we did this, having faith in his promise, we were immediately blessed with a phone call from a member, saying she had a neighbor that wanted to meet with us!  

The Lord really does bless us for our faith.  But we don't see the blessings until AFTER acting in faith.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Alabama Trip

John and I took a quick trip to Alabama / Georgia to visit with Josten and Jehkiah and it was magical. Of course, John fell in love with it all (must be the trees that completely surrounded us.) We weren't in a position to plan a trip like this. It was an unexpected surprise, paid for by members of Jehkiah's ward who insisted that we come so that John could ordain Jehkiah a High Priest. 

Jehkiah and Josten picked us up at the airport in Atlanta on Saturday (the 1st). We arrived there at about 8:45 p.m. Actually, our flight got in about 30 minutes early so we had to wait for the boys a while. What a huge airport ~ I was so grateful there was a wheelchair available and someone to push John to baggage claim. It's about an hour and a half drive to where they live from Atlanta, but we took our time to drive around the city a bit and later, on the way home, stopped off for a bite to eat at this waffle house.  It was fun. The waitress was pure southern hospitality! "What can I get for you darlin'?" I loved it...

We stopped at Jehkiah's place first to drop him off and take a peek at Jace who was fast asleep. Jehkiah and Casey have a cute apartment tucked off in the woods. Then on to Josten's where we stayed the whole time. He, too, lives off in a little area on the outskirts of town in a wooded neighborhood. The house was spacious and has a bonus room above the garage that doubles as a playroom ~ homeschool ~ Grandparents guest room :), and that's where we slept.  It was so warm that each night we had to open the window next to our bed and let some cool air in. We fell asleep to the sounds of crickets chirping and frogs croaking outside. On Monday, it got up to 70 degrees and we were in short sleeves. 

Sunday morning we went to church. The ward was so amazingly friendly and warm. It seemed like everyone knew us already by name and made us feel so welcome. It was fast Sunday and Jehkiah conducted ~ his first time. He's a natural! That ward members adore Jehkiah and Josten, and their families, especially the stake leadership.  Both of them bore their testimonies and had us in tears. It was a beautiful day. 

Jehkiah's boss, President Eiland was there and he bolted from the stand in the chapel to meet us and then sat with John through Sunday School and Priesthood.  Apparently, they are just alike and think the same way. This is the man Jehkiah has spent every day with swapping stories and so it was like they had always known each other.  Everyone kept asking when we were moving out there. After the block we went in to the Bishop's office and Dad got to ordain Jehkiah a High Priest. That was a spiritual experience for us all. Then we all went home to Josten's and had a huge feast.

Monday Jehkiah, Josten and John hung out together and drove around looking at houses and stuff, then Josten took all of us to Ft. Benning and gave us the grand tour. He took us all through Columbus (which is on the Georgia side of the Chattahoochee River) and Phenix City (which is on the Alabama side of the river.  It's like Tri-Cities.  Those two cities (and Ft. Benning) are all right together, divided only by the river.  Ft. Benning itself is several thousand people. 

Later in the after noon we went to the base PX (military retail stores). It is actually a mall! John got one of those electric scooters and drove all over the place with Breck and Sienna riding on it with him. That night we all had dinner together, again and visited until late.   

On Tuesday morning Josten had to go to work early so John, Jehkiah and I (and Jace) drove around town to see the sights. Then we went over to Columbus sate University where Casey is head volleyball coach and women's athletic director. 

Both Columbus and Phenix City have historic as well as modern architecture, and we walked down to their river front park (like Spokane's) and enjoyed the features there. That's when Jayden called, so we spoke to him for some time.  He sounded so mature and spiritual. He admitted having had some refining while at the MTC that helped strengthen his commitment and enthusiasm. (Overcoming struggles of self-doubt).  It was emotionally hard, obviously, to say goodbye. He told me he loves me in Armenian which made me cry. Then he bore his testimony in Armenian to John. Then John asked him if he would recite the First Vision in Armenian beginning with "I saw a pillar of light..."  That's when they both lost it.  He was in Salt Lake at the time he called (at the airport waiting for his flight to New Jersey). There was concern his flight would be cancelled because of an Arctic storm that had already delayed flights. But, he was determined he would make it and call us later from there.

When Josten got off work we all met over at Ft. Benning to the Army's National Infantry museum. It was stunning and awe inspiring. A sober and reverent place where the government has spared no expense to honor the infantry soldiers of every war since the Revolution. 

After that they treated us to dinner (for Dad's birthday) at a Hibachi Japanese Buffet and it was fantastic food!!! What fun!  We all sat around this long table in a banquet room and feasted! Then Breck and Sienna brought Grandpa out a bag with a gift inside: a shirt and hat he had eye balled at the infantry museum!

We got done late and visited for a while but had to finally get to bed so that we could leave early back to Atlanta before rush hour traffic. We said our good-byes, which is always so hard, and then Jehkiah drove Dad and I back to Atlanta airport. It was so sad to have to part. We spent some time together at the airport before going through the security check. Then, said our goodbyes and flew home.

Good times, good memories!
 Papa looking for alligators with Breck & Sienna
 Sarah & Josten Jr.