March 8, 2020 - How Has it Changed Your Life?
As I have shared in an earlier post, President Nelson has invited us to immerse ourselves in the glorious light of the Restoration as we approach the 200 year anniversary of of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph Smith in a vision. President Nelson suggested that we might read afresh Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision. Or ponder important questions about how the restoration of the gospel has affected our lives.
Our mission president felt impressed that as a mission, we should visit the sacred grove as part of our preparation for April General Conference. So, we had our Zone Conferences in Palmyra which included a special visit to the sacred grove. He invited us to consider how the First Vision has changed our lives. We had a sweet experience as we paused to remember how blessed we are to live in the last days as our prophet tries to help us prepare for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Both sides of a postcard that we received prior to going into the Sacred Grove.
The young missionaries walked the 2 or 3 blocks from the Palmyra Stake Center to the Sacred Grove. (The Palmyra Temple is across the street.)
The Sacred Grove - still too early for any leaves - but still a beautiful place.
A small stream that runs on the edge of the Sacred Grove..
Karen, Mark & President Vest in the Sacred Grove. Pres Vest lagged behind to make sure that I behaved myself!
Where else would you want to hang out with your sweetheart?
The missionaries cars all lined up in the parking lot. (Everyone one of them has a "Celestial" parking spot - that means they don't have to back up to get out - because then one of the missionaries has to be out of the car directing his or her companion while they back up.)

As we arrived at the Palmyra Stake Center for our Zone Conference, Elder McDonald was waiting for us playing the bagpipes - totally awesome.

Elders McOmber & Nielson arriving at Zone Conference. They are currently car sharing with the English Elders in Buffalo and it was not their week to have the car, so they rode with us.
Elder Schultz & Taylor from the Amherst District where help out - along with Elder McDonald.
When we arrive at Zone Conference, they always have goodies for everyone - any supplies that each companionship might need - like copies of the Book of Mormon, pamphlets, pass a long cards, etc.
Fruit and cheese snacks waiting for everyone at they come into Zone Conference. (And hand sanitizer.)
Hermana Steiner, Sisters Joos & Melton from the Amherst District.
Sisters Pettitt and Olesen from the Buffalo District - it's always so much fun to see Sister Olesen - we get to see her every week at District Meeting.
Mark & Sister Vest - BFF's
Sack lunch for everyone to take and eat as they drive home;
Karen & I helped put together about 80 lunches (The office Senior Missionaries did all the hard work getting everything there and we helped assemble.) You can see the table with car keys in the back, each of the cars is inspected at Zone Conference each 6 weeks to make sure everything looks good - and to make sure they are clean!
Karen and Sisters Pettitt & Oleson at Zone Conference.
Elders Williams & McOmber - they were companions in Plattsburg - up in the North Country (Part of the Massena Branch's District.)
Getting ready of the Hurrah Shout!
President Vest giving us some wise counsel.
Sister Vest giving us a good bye high five.
President Vest giving us a goodbye high five.
Cool churches all over Buffalo.
Another cool church.
We had Sunday dinner with Elders Nielson & McOmber and Didas & Regina who are part of the Swahili Group. They were baptized in November 2019. They are expecting their first baby.
I'm still hung up on this One-Way thing - if there is only one-way to do things, which way do I go? That is the problem with the world - anything and everything is okay. We know better: Stay on the straight and narrow path and hang on to the iron rod.

We had another great lesson with Chazia.
When we asked her if she had been praying, she said: Oh, Yeah!!!
As we discussed the need for an opposition in all things and that we need to exercise our agency to choose, Chazia said: I choose Him BIG TIME!
She later said, I smile, not because my life is perfect, but because I appreciate what I have.
She prayed: It is so beautiful how I am growing closer and closer. Thank you for bringing them to my house.
She continues to come to church. What a joy to watch her progress.

We have been working with Amos, our Swahili Group Leader and trying to show him a visual way to plan for lessons and teachers for Sunday School, Elders Quorum and Relief Society
Last Sunday, we organized rides for 42 people - 18 people the Elders are teaching and 24 Swahili members that needed rides. The Bishop asked us to rent a van to help get it done. We divided it up into 9 different car loads with Sonnefelds (Church Service Missionaries who work with the Swahilis) using both of their cars, Karen and I each taking two trips with our car and the rented minivan. Anybody have connections in higher places in the church? We need the church to provide a small bus or 12 passenger van!!!
More street art - they paint the side of their buildings - sometimes with fun murals and sometimes with advertisements.
Notice the Buffalo on the Allen Street Sign - they love their Buffalos in Buffalo!
We all need a safe place - if you are looking, we would invite you to come visit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sundays - you will feel a sweet peaceful spirit and it will be a safe place from the world. (This sign is on the wall as you go into the Tops Friendly Market grocery stores in Buffalo. This store is in a rougher neighborhood - so they must be telling local kids that they can come here and be safe.)
I have two brother in laws and 3 nephews who are attorneys and some good friends - so I pay attention to such things. There are billboards, signs, print ads, TV ads, etc encouraging people to call if they have personal injury claims. I can tell you attorneys are definitely needed: with the narrow streets with parked cars all over the place, the propensity of local drivers to run red lights and the strange practice that cars sitting at a stop light turn left in front of you, even though they don't have a green arrow or right of way.
Just dial 8.
Another Personal Injury billboard.

Another busy week in our NEW Paradise. Non-pictured activities:
Member visits: Took Regina to run errands, took dinner to Arnie H, invited Renee & Michael W to our home for dinner, Katherine C - gave her a blessing, gave Amos ride to Math Tutoring and his family & Apolina to Clean Building
Teaching with the Elders: Amanda W & her family,
Missionary Coordination Meeting
BYU PathwayConnect Gatherings
Fed the Swahili Elders
Fed the Spanish Elders
Fed the English Elders
Seminary rides
Ward Council