Saturday, August 18, 2012

Conny Curtis July 27, 2012

Good Evening,
As promised, this is a continuation of the letter I sent just a few days ago. We have had so many wonderful experiences, but first I want to go back to the transfers. I mentioned the new missionaries coming in and said briefly that we were losing many of those who have been here since we arrived. We have become close to them and it was an emotional goodbye.  We had ten leave; among them Elder Burdette, our first trainer, Elder Bowles, who taught me how to use the phone in referrals, Elder Fisher, who lives in our old Sunny Mesa Ward back home, Elder Ruff who ordered more media from me than any other missionary. He reminds us of our son Jarad….a hard worker and so caring.  Also, Elder Klabacka, who has been an assistant to the Pres. much of the time we’ve been in the office so we have worked closely with him and Elder Hawks, who is another hard working missionary and has become a dear friend. He and Elder Curtis have a fishing date set up for when we get home.  I could share something special about each one and am holding back tears as I mention them.  A few of them admitted to being on the verge of tears that day as well. When we dropped them off at the hotel they wanted to just keep hanging around. They weren’t ready for their mission experience to close.  We love and miss them.
Usually the demands of Transfers become even more urgent once the actual day is over as I then would update IMOS on the computer with all the new information and would have people calling immediately for a roster with all the changes. This was always time consuming and a challenge.  For several months, however, Salt Lake has been asking all the Mission Presidents to take over this responsibility.  Pres. H tried it once soon after I started in the office and it ended up being such a mess that it took us weeks to get it back in order.  I’m not saying it was Pres’ doing; IMOS has made a lot of improvements since then.  In fact, the last transfer went quite smoothly for me.  Now, I don’t do any of it….none.  I have to admit I felt a little left out and I also have to admit, I was a little pleased to see that even the Pres. and assistants took several tries before they got all the kinks out of the roster.  Another issue this brings is that while they are working on transfer scenarios the weeks before the actual transfers many of the programs that the rest of us in the office use are blocked from us. It’s all a process and is for the good.  Everyone, including Salt Lake, will learn and continue to improve.  This means nothing to most of you, but Sis Sessions, who I took over for, may find it interesting. My job definition has definitely changed, but there seem to be new things coming up to still keep me on my toes and Elder Curtis can always use more of my help.  There are changes being made on IMOS for car care as well.  Changes can be and are good!
The Birmingham Stake was holding a 9:00 to 3:00 Family History Fair the Saturday after transfers and I was asked to get a group of missionaries together to help with the day’s activities. We had Elder C and me as well as two Elders and two Sisters who serve in that building. We helped put together and serve the lunch and then were asked to just mingle and make our presence known.  Out of the 175 or so in attendance, about a third were non-members and four of the class presenters were also not members. We were very impressed with how well everything was arranged and how lovely the building and displays were set up. They had two or three classes going on each hour throughout the day. From the few that we were able to listen in on they were very professionally done.  A lot of good information.  Sis Anne Norris from our Branch had made the whole thing happen and on all accounts, it was a successful day. We were glad we could help and be a part of it. Our young missionaries represented the mission well.
People stayed the full day which is always a good sign that things are going well.

As soon as we walked in the door after finishing with the Family History Fair, Pres. Holzapfel called and asked if I would be in charge of the food for another event coming up the next Wed.  The former Governor of Alabama had called and asked if the Mission would host an open house for a group of youth from one of the mega Baptist Churches in Birmingham.  His brother is Pastor of the church and with the political climate these days; he wanted his congregation to know something about these ‘Mormons’.  This isn’t the first time that President has met with other churches, but it was the first time a BAPTIST church had requested to come to one of our buildings.  I didn’t have a lot of time or resources to plan with.  They expected around 30 youth between 14 and 18 years of age plus their leaders.  I was warned that nothing I did would measure up to the grand events of their church (we’re told it looks like a small college campus) so just don’t have cookies and punch, but also not to worry….?????  Ummmmm   We already had plans to be away from the office much of Monday and Tuesday so I had to rely on Costco – good old Costco chocolate mousse cake. It was a success and so was the evening.
There was a good turnout.  We met in the RS room where our Branch Pres. explained how he was called and how all of our leaders and teachers are regular members of the church who have been called to that position for a season and serve without pay while carrying on their lives with normal responsibilities (work, school, parenting etc) Next, two Seminary students explained how they meet each morning at 6:00 for scripture study.  They then showed clips of outstanding youth that are known nationally and are members of the church.  President also talked and explained some of the similarities of our church and theirs as well as some of the differences.  He is so good at this with his great knowledge of religion and the scriptures. The group was then taken on a quick tour of the building (as I said, theirs is mega so this wasn’t expected to be too impressive) They ended in the chapel where the young missionaries sang a beautiful Christian hymn and then a question and answer time was opened.  We had expected the whole evening to last only an hour, but there was a good interest and many questions were asked.  Again, Pres. Holzapfel is the perfect one for this type of exchange. We were all impressed.  Refreshments followed along with mingling with youth from the two wards meeting there for YW/YM and Institute.  All good….
                                          Thankfully because of helping the Sat before I knew where to borrow a table cloth and some decorations.  Taking pictures of the group didn’t seem appropriate. Chocolate is always a way to win people over. Paul and the missionaries were great help
We have a Branch baptism on Saturday morning.  I’ll write about that next time. We’ve had some other good things going on this week, but this is enough for now.  Paul says if he were writing he would just share spiritual thoughts and events, but for me, these things are spiritual and have brought joy to our missionary service.  God bless each of you.   We send our love,  Elder and Sister Curtis   Mom/Dad

There were several displays of well known people who came from Alabama…..didn’t know there were so many in all fields, sports, history, music, government, and so forth.  Interesting


Karen Mosley August 2012


We have just finished our two grueling weeks of training for the China Teachers Program at BYU.  We learned so much, but still feel intimidated about the idea of going to China as English Professors to teach graduate and PhD students at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu.  We know the Lord will magnify our efforts and we are ready to get started!  We leave in 10 days!

We had a busy summer.  My mother passed away in May, then my husband's mother passed in June.  We are happy that their suffering is over, and feel blessed that we were able to serve them in their final years.  It's hard to say goodbye, but we feel them with us still.  We then had two new grandbabies born!  I wish I could bring you all treats to help celebrate!  Liam Kirk Mosley was 8lbs. 9 oz., and Cecily Weed was 5 lbs. 12 oz.  Cecily was so small that the doctors worried about her and warned us she may have issues, but she is 100% healthy and whole and we feel extremely blessed and grateful for all the prayers in her behalf.  We were able to gather all of our children and grandchildren in Washington for a reunion in July.  It was a great chance to say goodbye and get filled up with memories before we leave.

China is an amazing place.  We have learned so much and look forward to our chance to meet some of the Lord's 'lost sheep'.  We have been cautioned to warn our friends not to speak of our service as being missionaries.  We are NOT preaching the gospel, and we are NOT set-apart missionaries.  There are no missionaries in mainland China, and if the government hears through rumors that the Church is sending missionaries there, we could encounter problems.  So please don't tell anyone that the Mosleys are "on a mission" to China.  We are going over to make friends and set examples and help educate those who we hope will seek truth and find it when that door is open to them.

We certainly miss our special time serving as ordinance workers.  May you all be blessed in your service and know our hearts are with you.

Much love,

Karen & Kirk Mosley

Conny curtis August 4, 2012

                                                                                      Aug 4, 2012
To begin this week’s news, I want to report that for the month of July the Mission had the largest number of baptisms ever recorded since the mission was created in 1979. I’ve already sent you pictures from some that we attended.  Last Saturday we were involved with the baptism of a new member in our own branch.  She has been attending ever since we were assigned to the branch and we have helped teach during the Sunday Gospel Principals class.  She has gained a strong knowledge of the teachings and truthfulness of the gospel and it has been a pleasure to see her progress. We were able to pick her up the morning of her baptism and be there for her that day.  There was a nice Branch turnout.  After her baptism Regina bore a sweet and heartfelt testimony.  Now we need to follow through by mentoring her reading in the Book of Mormon and encouraging others to continue fellowshipping her.  Was a nice day.
This is the kind of news that we most enjoy sharing and remembering from our mission.  In the first two years that President Holzapfel has been here, the baptism numbers have been higher for the mission than years past. As he began his third year as Pres. in July it looks like that growth will continue. There is an urgency throughout the church to reach out to those who have been and are being prepared to receive God’s word. The missionaries were told by Elder Gonzales that no matter how many times they have gone to an area, there are still those being prepared to accept God’s message. The work is there.
This has been a busy time of travel for us and the mission as the individual Zone Training meetings were held for Aug.  It seems that we had just attended them for July.  This time they weren’t all held on the same day so we were able to go to three of the five. We learned while in Huntsville that the two stakes that make up that Zone have been asked to separate and each stake will become a Zone as is requested by Salt Lake. As of next week the mission will have six Zones to cover. I have to admit, with all the changes that are being requested by Mission Headquarters, things do finally seem to be running more smoothly and the work gets done faster and more efficiently.  I guess all the beta testing and having our computers bringing frustrations to our lives, is now paying off. I know the person that will replace me will have it much easier and even Paul’s responsibilities are a little less hectic, although, there are STILL issues with tiwis and then just human error (accidents, lost reports, etc) that will probably always be there to some degree.
Anyway, we attended the Birmingham Zone on Wed, then Huntsville on Thursday and Elder Curtis went to Tupelo on Friday.  I had a dentist appointment for a rootcanel so was unable to go that day.  As always, it was great to be with the young Elders and Sisters.  We have some fantastic Leaders and they are the ones that did the training based on what they had been instructed by the President. 
Besides traveling to the different areas for the training meetings we took one day to deliver a new car to our Sisters serving in Tuscaloosa (over an hour from the office) and then took their car South  East to Tuskegee (past Montgomery) so that we could retire the car from there. All of this was necessary because there had been a wreck and one of our 50 cars was in the repair shop.  I won’t even go into the headaches that caused Elder C. The mission is only allowed 50 cars so this left six missionaries with just one car in an area where a car was badly needed.  It took some juggling, but for now everyone is getting by the best they can with a little help from Elder C.  On the day we made this exchange we ended up being on the road for nearly eight hours…..whew! There had been a bad accident on the freeway and we took all back roads.  We saw some beautiful country and went places we’ve never been, but after a long day, the slow driving was not what you would call pleasant.  Oh well, looking back we remember the good…like meeting Elders Withers and LaCour in Tuskegee. They were just WALKING up to their place when we arrived. It was well over a hundred that day and they were out there working hard. We call Elder Withers the “hundred door a day man”.  He never stops and Elder LaCour is right there at his side. They were both dripping with sweat and we thought we would melt just standing there talking to them. We didn’t spend much time as they had to head out (walking) to another appointment.  Good, good Elders.
I’ll close by writing about more mission “Hellos and Goodbyes”.  We had a luncheon at the mission home as a welcome party for Elder and Sister Specht, who arrived in July and are serving in MS, and a farewell party for Elder and Sister Halley who have completed their 18 month mission.  We will miss the Halleys.  Besides their great missionary efforts, Sister Halley was in charge of planning our Couples’ outings and she did a super job giving us opportunities we probably would have missed if not for her. We were pleased to meet Elder and Sister Specht.  They are lively and outgoing and will be a nice addition to the mission. 
 One last Goodbye….. Our fun, friendly, much loved and highly successful missionary Elder Pili was given an early release (30 days) so he can return for football training at BYU.  He played before his mission and has been promised a spot on his return.  We considered him a friend, but then, everyone did.  He has a permanent ‘smile’ on his face.  I don’t think he could look mean or mad if he wanted to. Everywhere he has served the wards and people have loved having him.  He is a great teacher behind that impish smile. 
We will miss him along with so many others.  Already we are preparing for the next group to come in and the next ones to leave.  That’s mission life and we love it! 
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55:12
This seemed like a good scripture to end with.  It is so beautiful here in Alabama and as we take in the beauty of the countryside and even more so, the people, we feel to clap our hands with joy for the blessing of serving here and the work we see being done.

Blessings and Love to each of you,    Elder and Sister Curtis     Mom/Dad

Conny Curtis July 21, 2012

                                                                                              July 22, 2012
We finished another transfer last week, but before I get into that I want to write about the baptism or baptisms, six of them, that we attended in Ensley Branch a week ago Saturday.  Ensley is a suburb of Birmingham and might be compared in some ways to Harlem of New York. The Branch there is all black from the surrounding neighborhoods, however, there are several families from other wards around AL that have been assigned to serve there.  With so many baptisms, there was a large turnout.  We have gone to the town of Ensley many times as there is a shop where we have the hitches for our bike racks put on the new cars and we use them for other needs as well.  Nice people. Several times in Columbiana ward we had a former African Am. Branch Pres and his wife from there visit and developed a friendship.  For these and many other reasons we have planned to visit the ward. This occasion seemed to be the right timing; not only for the baptisms, but our dear Elder Burdette has been serving there and this was his last baptism before finishing his mission.  All in all, it was a great experience.  Two of the girls taking part were the twin daughters of a member that Elder Burdette and his companion tracked into.  The mother had become inactive so not only were her daughters brought into the church, but she was re-activated. It was sweet to watch her tender tears of joy. Among the others being baptized were the husband and daughter of a member, very sweet, and the older daughter of another branch member.  There was also a young man from the branch who is just now old enough to turn in his mission papers.  He was baptizing the ‘seventh’ of his friends that night.  Here he has had SEVEN baptisms before he even reached the mission field. There was a joyful and sweet spirit there and we were blessed to witness it. We visited with the Branch Pres afterwards and he said this is a rough part of town. There have been shootings and robberies all around the church and several families in the branch have faced heartache, but still remain faithful. We met many delightful people. The missionaries love serving in this area. 
As is always the case on transfer week our days were long and full.  On Monday we took five of our visa Elders to the airport to head for their various destinations.  One of them was Elder McRae from Thatcher and in visiting I’m sure we have some family connections somewhere along the line.  My Mother’s sister Hazel married a McRae.  He was a good missionary.  They all were and will continue to be.
Tuesday we were to pick up sixteen new missionaries at 2:00 p.m.  First we heard their flight in Salt Lake had been cancelled.  All morning we waited for an update.  Finally plans were in place to meet them at 3:00, but then we heard the plane was arriving early.  Pres and Sister Holzapfel actually greet them as they come off the plane and we stay with the van in a waiting area until they call to tell us they are ready to be picked up.  Two thirty came and went, three thirty came and went, (we were getting updates all along) At four thirty we finally got the call that they were at the curb. There were only 14 as two visa waiters missed the connecting flight and were stranded in Atlanta.  Still, it took the van and two other cars to get them all loaded and on our way. Twelve of them are fulltime assigned to Alabama and four are visa missionaries. As you can see from the picture, there is only one Sister. A side note here, Sister Palmer was called and trained as English speaking, but the mission needed another Spanish speaking Sister. Pres H had ordered all the materials, including a Sp nametag, and when he did his interview with her he asked to see her MTC nametag then handed her back the Spanish one he had for her.  She was more than a little surprised, but is a sharp girl and accepted the challenge and we know she will do well. We have already enjoyed spending time with them all. They have some big shoes to fill as so many of our choice missionaries are completing their missions over the summer months.  This time we had an Elder from the Ivory Coast in Africa and one of the visa Elders is from Joe and Wyndi’s ward back home. Joe was his home teacher.   That was a fun connection.  New missionaries to love.
There were many changes taking place in the way transfers were handled this time around.  One that we thought worked really well was taking all the new missionaries straight to the Mission Home.  Usually we go to the office where the President takes each one in his office for an interview and Elder Curtis meets with them about their driving records, etc. This meant a lot of sitting around time for the missionaries in a crowded office after an already long day.  Following this we went to the Mission Home for a formal sit down dinner and then rushed off to their hotels.  The plan this time was to have a serve yourself buffet dinner while Pres did his individual interviews and Elder C gathered the information he needed. When the missionaries finished eating they gathered in the living room and were able to visit in a relaxed way.  We had four, or at least there were four that night, that play the piano…all very well.  They kept us entertained by taking turns playing from classical to ragtime and all in-between.  Yes, there were some nice hymns mixed in as well.  Elder Dalo from Africa plays beautifully. He said a friend of his began teaching him and he found he had a natural gift and love for music.  Spending the evening this way took a lot of stress off everyone and the missionaries were able to have an earlier bedtime than usual.
We were to pick up the missionaries at the hotel early the next morning for the transfer meeting.  A call from the President woke us up saying that we needed to be even earlier. About half of the luggage had not come in with the plane and around 1:30 that morning it had been delivered to the mission home and needed to be picked up. That was good news…whew and whew! Poor Pres seems to never get to sleep.
Another change with transfers was the presentation of information for just the new missionaries.  Usually they gather AFTER the general meeting which has never worked well. All they were interested in was what was this new companion going to be like, and where were they headed. Now they had them arrive an hour before the others for the training and the meeting was laid out so each person stayed on schedule and everyone was able to present their part.  For the first time in months Elder C was able to go over the driving and car care information from Salt Lake. It seemed to go well.  All of transfers went well.  We did have a man sent from Salt Lake to audit all the tiwis, but he had been working on it since Monday and had already met with Elder C several times so for once we weren’t tied up in the parking lot and were actually able to sit through all of transfers, including listening to Pres Holzapfel remarks.
We had taken all of the bikes for the new missionaries to the Stake Building the day before.  We have done that the last few transfers and it makes it much easier so handing out bikes even went smoothly for us.  All in all, it was the best organized and most relaxing transfer day we have experienced.  That’s not to say there weren’t issues, but all ended well even though we did worry watching some of the Elders drive away with their cars stuffed to overflowing with luggage (is that even safe?)
  Well, it is now bedtime on Tuesday and I have only covered half of what went on since our last letter. There is much more that I want to record for my own records, but it has been a long day (we drove for over eight hours taking care of different issues) Tomorrow we have another special event that we are helping with so it will be busy and exciting as well.  This letter is going to have to be sent in segments, which is probably okay with you. There is plenty enough for now anyway. I’m too tired to even proof read it. …headed for bed – yawn! Hope you each have a goodnight and a great day tomorrow.  We love you-
             Blessings always,   Elder and Sister Curtis   Mom/Dad

Conny Curtis July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012
Good Afternoon,
Elder Curtis is spending the day at the Mission Home bike work area getting ready for the 17 missionaries that will arrive on Tue.  He has been so thankful for the help of Elder Smith in this as well as many of our other responsibilities.  The Smiths have been our right hand helpers, but they just learned this week that they will be transferred from Bessemer to the Huntsville area (two hours away) Not only are they both a great help to us, but as you can see from past letters, they have also become good friends. I don’t know how we will manage without them around. It will definitely mean more work for Elder C. and we’ll miss their company.  We have two new couples coming in soon; however, both are being assigned to areas far from the office.  It all seems to work out one way or another, though.  We picked up a brand new car yesterday and that should be the last one for a while so if we can keep accidents down, maybe there won’t be as much movement with that.  Speaking of accidents, two of our Elders in Hamilton (NE almost to MS /TN state lines) were hit by another car that turned from a side street right into them.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but anytime there is an accident it takes time away from getting the regular work done.  Besides my office work, a lot of my time is spent helping and working with Elder Curtis.
We have been doing much more traveling the last month.  We have visited several District Meetings, most an hour to two hour drive from the office. We have been doing various trainings and also inspecting their cars with them right there so they can see for themselves how to care for their vehicle.  It’s surprising to us how many young men and women just haven’t had experience with how to care for a car. We have to remind ourselves they are still young and not all have HAD a car or been responsible for one. We received a call from an Elder the other day saying that his tire was flat and he needed to buy a new one.  “Well”, asked Elder Curtis, “Did you take it in and try having it fixed?”  The repair was $10. Even though these are temporal lessons, hopefully they will be blessed throughout their lives for having learned them.  We loved being able to meet with the missionaries in smaller groups and spend that one on one time with them. We get to know and love them even more.  We also made several trips to apts of Elders to help them through issues and again, it is nice to not only get closer to them, but see the areas where they work. Alabama really is a beautiful place. The more we see, the more we appreciate this.
The 4th of July was another workday for us in the mission; only it was spent filling a new assignment that has come down from Salt Lake. Each Zone has been asked to hold ‘monthly’ zone training in their area with all in attendance.  The Zone Leaders plan and oversee these meetings.  Obviously, the Pres. can’t be in all the meetings (they are hundreds of miles apart) and isn’t required to attend any of them.  The Zone Leaders go through a day of training with the Pres. Holzapfel and then take that information and train their area missionaries.  My guess is that with his love for teaching, it is probably hard for President not to step in.  They will still have the quarterly Multi Zone Conferences where he will preside.
Anyway, the announcement for the 4th of July conferences was last minute, but Elder C saw it as an opportunity to cover a lot of the monthly car inspection.  He asked the Smiths to do the inspections in Bessemer Zone and the Caudles to cover Huntsville.  We drove to Montgomery and got all of theirs done. That was one of the 106 days and we experienced our first real discomfort with the Alabama heat.  Like many other areas of the country, we have had unusually warm days, but for the most part, we haven’t had complaints.  It cools off in the evenings and we have had some nice rain and overcast days.  This was a good way to spend Independence Day doing our work and being around the fine missionaries.  Elder Withers, our first District Leader, is now Zone Leader in Montgomery.  He is a wonderful teacher and the missionaries were rewarded for being there. On our way back we stopped in Clanton which holds the claim to the best peaches in the country. Everyone talks about Clanton peaches. 
We also finished up the last of the temple days with two Zones this week.  We were able to attend all five temple trips.  How wonderful it was seeing all our Elders and Sister dressed in white and feeling of their spirits.  There was a Zone in the morning session that day then another at the 1:00 session so it was a full and spiritual day.  That evening we had planned to go out to dinner with Elder and Sister Callister.  His brother is a member of the Presidency of the Quorum of Seventy and our Callisters are just as great.  They travel the mission working one on one with companions giving direction and training to improve their teaching. They had been teaching all day and needed to get a few things at Costco so we decided to just eat there (our kind of people).  We were having such a nice visit…..they are not only spiritual, interesting, but fun, that we didn’t notice until we got up to leave that the store had closed. The doors were locked and shoppers gone. We told them we were so sorry, but they just laughed and said if we’d been much longer they would have given us a mop to help the cleaning crew.  We all had a good laugh too.
We have been trying to get more involved in our ward missionary work, but with our unpredictable schedules, it hasn’t been easy. We have met with the ward mission leader and one week we gave a ride to a member who doesn’t have a car. He lives in the projects and hasn’t had an easy life, but has been active in the church for 16 years.  Our only problem with helping him is that it ends up being over a ninety mile trip for us to drive him on Sundays. Even in the city there are long distances in the ward boundaries.
 We were asked to speak in church last week. The subject was “Freedom from sin”.  Just a few quotes from my talk, “Obedience leads to true freedom. The more we obey revealed truth, the more we become liberated.”  And, “When obedience becomes our goal, it is no longer an irritation; instead of a stumbling block, it becomes a building block”.   These are both from Pres. James E Faust.  Part of being obedient is giving of our time and service. Quote from Elder Ballard:  “We should be committed to a lifetime of service in the kingdom of God”, and quoting Pres. Marion G Romney; “Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made. There is no retirement from service in the church.”
I don’t have a copy of Elder Curtis’ talk to give you quotes, but he did a wonderful job as usual. This will probably be our last sacrament meeting talks of this mission.
For not even planning to write a letter, I’ve ended up giving you a lot to read, or skim, or delete, or just not open at all. This is a little taste of our life here in Alabama. If we hadn’t extended we would be coming home in three weeks.  We’re not ready for that so we’re glad we have more time, but even with that our release date is approaching at a much faster pace than seems possible.  It is good to stay busy and feel needed.  Other than loving on our grandkids and children, we aren’t sure what we’ll do at home.

   Blessings and love from Alabama,  Elder and Sister Curtis     Mom/Dad