Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lasagna — September 22, 2014



The lesson

The lesson

I invited two families for Family Home Evening on Monday. I told them we would fix lasagna. They want to learn how to make it.

I was a bit surprised at Elder Hall’s announcement. I don’t even make home-made lasagna at home. And finding the necessary ingredients in the Philippines is a bit problematic.

We had some ground beef, canned diced tomatoes, and some cream cheese from the Costco knock-off in Cebu. It was a start. I e mailed my talented daughter-in-law for suggestions for cheese substitutions and recipes. Then we went to the store. No lasagna noodles. We bought fettuccine noodles instead. There were no fresh herbs, so we bought a dried pizza herb mix. No cottage cheese. We bought shelf-stable milk and Eden cheese in a box on the shelf, pork sausage to stretch out the ground beef, and tomato paste in a plastic bag. We didn’t bother to read the ingredients in the cheese. The second store had lasagna noodles.

After the Monday morning meetings, Elder Hall left to help with a Community Service Project, and I started wiping my dripping face with a towel and experimenting with the lasagna.  It was a long, hot, exhausting afternoon. By six o’clock, I had two pans of lasagna ready to be cooked separately in our small oven, plates, cups, eating utensils, store bought bread, and bananas on the table, and cold water in the refrigerator.

The guests loved Elder Hall’s lesson and they loved the lasagna. I loved the chance to sit down.


The next day as we were eating, Elder Hall passed a dish to me

Would you like some lasagna?

No, thanks. I’ll try some later.

It reminded me too much of cherries.


It was a warm July day in 1971 in Mackay, Idaho. The climate in Mackay is too cold for most fruit trees, but someone had brought in a truckload of fruit, and we bought several bushels.

Today I was canning sweet cherries.

I washed the fruit, put it in clean bottles, added a light syrup, put on the sterilized lids, screwed on the lids, and put the jars in the big kettle of water. I brought the water to a boil, then carefully watched the time. When the fruit was done, I lifted the jars out of the water bath, and set them on a towel on the kitchen cupboard.

I enjoyed looking at the jars a moment longer and savoring the feeling of success. Then I looked at the jars more closely. There were small white spots floating on the top of the juice in the jars. Then I knew. The cherries had worms in them.

Money was scarce, and not only had we spent money on the fruit, but on the sugar, lids, and jars. What a disappointing waste!

I stopped to fix an early lunch for our two small boys. After they were down for a nap, I looked again at the jars. I vowed that I was not going to waste that fruit.

I washed more jars and put them into a warm oven. I put more lids into a pan with water and brought them to a boil. Then I scrubbed out the big kettle, opened the jars, poured the contents into the kettle, and brought the contents to a boil. As the fruit came to a boil, the small white spots floated to the top. I carefully dipped every white spot out of the kettle.

 Then I ladeled the hot fruit and juice into the hot jars, wiped the lip of the jar clean, put on a lid, and screwed the ring on tightly. I washed more fruit and repeated the open-kettle “spot”-dipping canning process throughout the long afternoon, stopping frequently to care for my small boys, until all the fruit was processed, and rows of beautiful purple jars on the counter sparkled as they caught the light.

After my husband came home for dinner, and the boys were in bed, my husband went to do the outside chores while I washed all the utensils and the kettle, wiped the counter and stove clean, and moped up all the sticky spills on the floor.

I crawled into bed exhausted—only to wake up two hours later in labor. I waited a while. Maybe it was a false alarm and I could go back to sleep. But the contractions became harder and more regular. After an hour, I woke up my husband.  We needed to take the boys to Aunt Velma’s house before we drove the ninety miles to the hospital in Blackfoot. Our delightful third son was born about eight o’clock in the morning.

It was a long time before I could force myself to serve the canned cherries. But when I did, they were delicious.




The Ground Breaking — September 6, 2014

the building site

The building site

artist's view of the proposed chapel
Artist’s view of the proposed chapel

the ground breaking

The ground breaking

even the moon came for the ceremony

Even the moon came out for the ceremony

September 6, 2014

The Ground Breaking

We could feel the excitement in the small chapel in Lamac. The Branch President had just announced that construction of a new church building for Lamac would begin Sept 1. A Ground Breaking Ceremony was planned for September 6.

As the date for the ceremony drew closer, Elder Hall made several trips to Lamac to finalize plans for the meeting, and to invite local government officials, members and investigators to attend.

But Elder Hall, there is a typhoon coming. What if the rain is so heavy that we can’t have the ceremony?

Elder Hall looked at the people very seriously.

You pray, and encourage everyone else to pray, that the weather will not stop the meeting.

The morning of the day before the ceremony, the District President texted Elder Hall.

Elder, what do you think of the weather? It is raining very hard here.

We will have the ceremony.

On the afternoon before the ceremony, there was no rain. On the morning of the ceremony, there was no rain, although it had rained hard every day for the four previous days.  At 11 PM, after the ceremony, it began raining in Lamac again, and the electricity was out for the next 12 hours. The rain continued for three more days.

The mission president, the local officials, and a large crowd of people from the area attended the meeting. The construction workers turned off their TV to hear the speakers, and to feel the spirit that was there.

The Lord knows and blesses the people in the remote valley of Lamac.

It was a memorable night.


“And the Books Were Opened..” — Sept 4, 2014


We stood enjoying the ocean view and chatting with another missionary couple as they waited to board the ferry to the island of Negros

When is your mission release date?

At the end of February? How about you?

We go home in January. Another couple goes home in March., and the last one has only six more months.

Is there anyone else coming?

Not that we know. There just aren’t enough senior couples.

We have 228 missionaries now. If there are no senior missionaries, who will be there for them?

It will be hard. I talked to Sister Harris in the office. They only have four weeks left. She said that for the year that they were home before coming back on a mission, they talked to everyone they knew to try to persuade them to apply for a mission.

Did anyone apply?

Not one couple.

Are they worried about health?


Don’t they know that if they are still breathing, the Lord can use them?

I know we have been in better health here than we were at home.

So have we. It must be something about the promise of how those who “magnify their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” (see D&C 84:33)

We worried a lot about leaving our grandchildren.

That was a concern for us, too.

We still worry, especially about our grandchildren who are growing up without the gospel. But we have to trust that the Lord is more powerful than we are, and that if we serve a mission, we have His promise:

“I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you in my church.”

“Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come.”    (D&C 31:2-3)

We paused to wipe away a few tears.

A mission isn’t easy.

No, it isn’t. I was reading in the Bible dictionary about the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. It said:

“The story is especially instructive in showing the discipline of misfortune, and also that the Lord rewards His obedient children according to their faithfulness.”

Humm…the discipline of misfortune? That is an interesting thought.  We have received great blessings while here on a mission. But I have to wonder what we might have missed if we had not chosen to come on a mission.

We have, too. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone.

Wow! Well, when “the books” are opened, I hope our mission report might show up in our favor.(see Revelations 20)

Oh, there is our boarding call.

We all hugged each other and waved goodbye.

But we didn’t talk about love.


Yes, all the love that has been showered on us since we came on a mission; all the hugs and letters.

Dear Elder and Sister,

Pinamungajan was my first area. I am from Tonga. I just hope you won’t ever forget me! You both were my parents when I was far from mine. I was still fresh and often very clueless of what I should be doing, but knowing that you were there helped me a lot.

Sister, I will never forget your getting down on your knees and scrubbing the dust off the floor of our new kitchen! I have to admit, that was a huge testimony of what service and what a leader really should be like! for me.

Elder, you have a bubbly aura around you that just makes me so happy when I am around you! Even though you were tired—but you continue to drive us back and forth during our activity at Sister Vineyard’s house.

If I could count all that I am grateful for—its gonna take the whole day! Please know that you are appreciated!!!

Most importantly, I love your patience, and spiritual knowledge. Every time you both expound on a scripture—it just blows me away! I wrote down some of the things you sometimes say and use them as quotes. They are just so wonderful.

I know that part of the ways the Lord reaches out for His missionaries, especially a clueless sister like me, is through senior couples, and I am glad that I got to work with you both,

I love you both and I mean it!

Sister Poteki (student of the scriptures)