Our apartment in Nutley!

Our apartment in Nutley!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elder L. Tom Perry Visits Our Mission

Today (4/21/14) was a very special day because Elder L. Tom Perry visited our mission.  All of the missionaries and stake presidents and the one district president in our mission gathered to the Morristown stake center starting about noon.  Elder Perry arrived about 1 PM.  The spirit was incredibly strong as he met with us for almost the next three hours.  Words can only partially describe the experience, but we will give it a try.  First let us tell you how this happened.

Our mission president, President Jeppson, met Elder Perry years ago when Elder Jeppson was a young missionary serving in New England.  Over the years their friendship developed.  Then President & Sister Jeppson decided they would like to go on a senior mission so they prepared and submitted their application like anyone else.  Before their official call came they received a phone call from Elder Perry who asked them to come to his office whereupon he asked them to be a mission president.  Yes, that is proper English because they serve together.

President Jeppson's story is that he agreed to be a mission president on the condition that Elder Perry would come and personally visit the mission sometime during the three years of President & Sister Jeppson's service.  They will be going home this July.  When President & Sister Jeppson were recently invited to attend a mission president's seminar  which would be conducted by Elder Perry they recognized an opportunity.  Accordingly, President Jeppson called Elder Perry and reminded him about their agreement.  Did I mention that President Jeppson is a lawyer?

Elder Perry kept his promise.  Following the seminar, which was somewhere in the Washington DC area, he traveled by train to meet with us earlier today.  He is 91 years old and he is a big fellow.  As we recall, he played football when he was a young man.  When he walked in, everyone stood up.  He went up on the stand but did not sit down.  Instead he spent a few moments visiting with the Area Seventy that came with him and with President & Sister Jeppson.

Then it was announced that Elder Perry wanted to greet each of us, so he came down and stood in front of the stand and we all lined up, with the senior missionaries first.  He shook hands with each one of us and thanked us for serving a mission.  We think he was joking when he said we couldn't go home until we found our replacements.  When I shook his hand I said we are the replacements.

After we sat down we watched him at he greeted every missionary.  He was warm and cordial to each one.  It was not mechanical.  We were impressed and the spirit flooded our souls.  I said to Sister Shaw that this experience alone was worth the sacrifice of going on a mission.  In fact, we think this one act of kindness had as much impact on the missionaries than anything he said later in the meeting.  Remember, he is 91!  It could not have been easy for him to stand that long and be cheerful at the same time.

While it is always important to pay close attention when an apostle speaks, the thing that made this experience different was seeing the human side.  During his talk Elder Perry said that as a member of The Twelve he had been assigned to be in charge of public affairs for the Church.  His response was, "Are you sure you have the right person?  I love numbers and finance.  I am not an outgoing guy.  I am not Elder Ballard, you know!"

He then went on to say how much he has learned and even enjoyed as he fulfilled this assignment.  It gave us reason for hope to hear that even an apostle has the same feelings about his assignments as we do about ours.  Along this same line, someone asked him about prayer.  He said, "At my age I can't stop praying.  When I am sitting in general conference waiting for my turn to speak I never hear what the speaker ahead of me is saying because I am praying so hard for Heavenly Father to pull me though this."

There is much more we could say about this incredible experience but we have gone on long enough for now.  There is much more in our journals.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Church Will Fill The Whole Earth

There were several investigators who watched General Conference with us on a semi-big screen in the Relief Society room.  The Spanish language version was in the chapel.  As always, we enjoyed the feelings of the Spirit as we listened to the prophets and apostles and other leaders speak.  I was particularly moved by President Monson's talk at the end of the first session on Sunday which was on the two great commandments which are to love God and everyone around us.

President Bria (our branch president) asked Sister Shaw and I to speak in our next sacrament meeting using one of the conference talks as our subject.  Without hesitation I chose President Monson's talk mentioned above and Sister Shaw picked the talk given by Jean Stevens who is the first counselor in the General Primary Presidency.  Her subject was fear not for God is with us.  Sister Shaw enjoyed that talk because so many people feel alone and need to know that we are not alone because God is with each of us.

Missionary work continues to move forward in our branch.  Last Sunday (April 13) we had a baptismal service for John Doe from Pakistan.  I am not identifying him by his real name because he was a Muslim and therefore his life may be at risk.  In order to be cleared for baptism he had to be interviewed by President Jeppson, who is our mission president.  He and Sister Jeppson attended the service which I was asked to conduct at the very last minute.  Oh well, I have done it before.  Surprise, surprise, Sister Shaw played the piano.  It was a great experience to be there for the baptism of this humble man who is literally risking his life for his new-found faith.

The baptism of John Doe underscores the international character of our branch.  As mentioned previously we have members in our branch from all over the world including China, Korea, The Philippines, Hungary, Africa, South America, Mexico, Utah, and now Pakistan.  I am sure there are others, but these are the ones I can remember.

The Church is truly filling the whole earth as Joseph Smith prophesied it would as recorded by Wilford Woodfuff.  ". . . I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother's lap.  You don't comprehend it.  . . . This Church will fill North and South America--It will fill the world."

It is an amazing experience to be a part of the fulfillment of this prophesy.

During the break between sessions of General Conference we visited the Great Falls on the Passaic River in the city of Paterson, New Jersey.

 One week later we visited the Paterson Museum.  Paterson is a very old industrial town founded by Alexander Hamilton.  I believe he is on the ten dollar bill.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We Love Our Missionaries!

We have been assigned to Zone 1, a.k.a. the Paterson Zone.  The zone leaders are Elder Cuevas from East Los Angeles and Elder Leon from Honduras.  They are fine young men that will make great sons-in-law for some lucky parents someday.  For now, they are great missionaries.  One thing I noticed about Elder Cuevas right away is that he is huge!  Okay, I know what you are thinking which is, "Come on Elder Shaw, to you and Mark Fuller everyone is huge."  No!  On any absolute scale, Elder Cuevas is huge.  Take a look at the photo below.  What do you think?

Anyway, the first time we met him he gave me a big hug.  At first I was a little concerned that I might suffocate but then I felt the genuine love he had for us and I felt the same for him.  Why is that?  How is it possible that two complete strangers can so immediately feel affection for each other?  The answer is, of course, that we both know that we are sons of God and that we are together on His errand.  No matter what our backgrounds, we know that we share the same values.  We know that we are brothers!

The other day as I was reviewing our duties in the zone it suddenly dawned on me that what we really are is substitute grandparents for our 20 missionaries.  I loved that thought!  We know how to do grandpa and grandma.  We went to the store and stocked up on baking supplies.  Last week it was applesauce cookies for the zone and this week it will be Rice Krispies Treats.  And, we took brownies when we inspected two missionary apartments.  We think the message was clear:  Keep your apartment clean and tidy and there will be more.

Last Tuesday we went to our first "Transfer Conference" which was held at the Morristown building.  All missionaries who are being transferred gather in the chapel from all over the mission.  New missionaries who have just arrived the day before are introduced and missionaries who will be leaving for home the next day are each asked to bear their testimonies.  There were three returning home, plus a senior couple.  After remarks by Sister Jeppson (mission president's wife) and President Jeppson it gets a little noisy as transfers are announced.  Following a closing song and prayer everyone moved to the cultural hall where we sang the mission song and then there was a lot of hugging and tears as goodbyes were said and new companionships formed.  Of course there were cookies supplied by us "grandparents."  By that I mean each senior couple supplied three dozen cookies!  That is a lot of cookies.  They were gone in a flash!

Next, everything moved out to the parking lot where total chaos reigned as luggage was moved from one car to another.  The Lord said it would be a strange act (D&C 95:4 and D&C 101:95)

Elders Shaw, Cuevas, Leon, and Sister Shaw.

Above and below:  Singing the mission song.

Elder Fullmer, Sister Shaw, and Sister Fullmer.
Below:  Chaos in the parking lot.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nesting In Nutley

We thought we would give you a tour of our apartment.  We have discovered that we live in an addition to the original house.  The addition is about five years old.  As I said before the deli that is downstairs is not in business.  The woman who owned it passed from this life doing what she loved, running her deli.  Apparently that happened six or seven years ago and it hasn't been open since.  The plan is to get it back into working order, but the owner of the building just does a little here and there to fix it up.  There are four apartments in the building.  One is on the main floor, two on the second (we are one of them) and one on the third floor.  All the parking is in the back which is also where the door that gets us in is located.  When we got here we weren't sure which door was ours.  We stumbled around trying to figure it out.  Then we discovered that one of the doors opens up and lets us up to the second floor.  We have to go up ten steps to get into the building and then another nine to the second floor.  It is a good thing our knees work well!

Our neighborhood is really quaint.  We took a long walk today and loved checking out all the homes.  The styles are so much different than those found in California.  We were curious about what architectural styles they were so we did some research and discovered they are Cape Cod, Colonial, Dutch Colonial and Cottage.  Our neighborhood is all homes.  We didn't see one apartment house on our walk.  The road we live on can be a bit busy.  It isn't a very wide road, but lots of cars use it as a thoroughfare. 

Check out the pictures of our "nest."  The first one is our living room, followed by our desk which is in the living room.  Next is our bedroom.  We have no bedspread on the bed because we don't want to spend the money to get one.  Our decorative pillowcases are the ones John and Merry Weddle made for us that look like missionary tags.  Next is our cozy kitchen.  The last two pictures are taken from our front window and show the homes directly across the street.

We are happy to have this apartment.  It is really nice and we are blessed to have it.  Some of the other Senior missionaries apparently don't have such nice surroundings.

                                     We are working on hanging pictures on the walls.