Many years ago, Paul blessed our family with accepting the invitation to welcome the missionaries into our home.
Elder Smith and Elder Clough were our “first missionaries”. We loved having them in our home and they helped us to prepare for what was coming next in our lives! Feeding the missionaries often!
We have LOVED getting to know these amazing young men and women. Hermana Tripp (Southern Utah) is a truly special person that I needed to meet and helped me to start my time in Costa Rica off on the right path!
Sister Pizza (Columbia – on the right) helped Joy Boy find JOY in the variety of people serving missions. Like people who have last names of your favorite food!!!
Sister Haggard (South Dakota) helped our family learn to HAVE FUN living the gospel. Our favorite saying of her’s is, “Uh-huhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!”
Our favorite sister companionship was Hermana Haggard and Hermana Holmes (Arizona) ! This dynamic duo was there for us when we decided to Homeschool. They only saw the positive in this decision and that helped us ALL accept it with open, hopeful arms. We can’t thank them enough!
Hermana Miriel (Mexico – on the right) and Hermana Loza (Columbia – in the middle) helped our kids to just be kids and play. Each Sunday that we fed these sisters, Hermana Loza would go into Curly Cook’s room and just play with her. Hermana Loza had no idea how closely Curly Cook was watching her. Her example helped Curly Cook make her most important decision to be baptized. While Hermana Loza was playing with the kids, Hermana Miriel was helping me learn how to deal with and overcome culture discrimination. At first I didn’t think this sweet sister even liked me, and maybe she didn’t, but in just a couple weeks, we were the dearest of friends. Love crosses all boundaries!
Next came the A.P.’s (Assistants to the Mission President) to our area. Elder Kirk (SLC, Utah) and Zibin (Toronto, Canada) were a BLAST and just what El Gringo needed to get his feet wet in missionary work!
Next came AP’s Elder Pache (Argentina) and Elder Post (Heber, Utah). Oh how Joy Boy connected with Elder Pache. Still to this day Joy Boy comments on how he has his matching “Pache pen”, or every time we make baking powder biscuits we all jokingly call them “Pache biscuits”, for Elder Pache sure did love helping us make them. When he left, Elder Pache thanked me for how we treated him. He said he felt I was like a mother to him, and I felt it. I realized that my children will also have “moms” while on their missions. This moment inspired me to always strive to be a bigger help and support to missionaries, just as I would hope my kiddos would receive.
The next set of AP’s were Elder Escobar (Guatemala) and Elder Medrano (El Salvador). These two were great missionaries who were a joy to have in our home, but it didn’t start out that way. Elder Escobar (on the right) was quite shy and stand-offish when he first started to eat at our home. So I prayed about what to do and was prompted to have Paul ask him what his favorite meal was that we could make for him.
We thought he would ask for hamburgers, lasagna, or pizza, but instead he asked for a traditional dish from his country called Hilacha. I still remember the feeling I had to “just look it up and see if you can make it” and so I did and we felt we could. So we did and to his surprise, we had a huge crockpot FULL of Hilacha at our next meal, and it made him cry. He filled his plate several times and ate in happy splendor. At that moment, he knew we truly cared for him, so he warmed up to us quickly. So much so that when it was time for him to go back home, he was sad to leave our family. So sweet!
This cute companionship came next (the two sisters on the left), Hermana Varela (Honduras) and Hermana Bass (Utah). Hermana Bass was a ROCK STAR (literally too – you should hear this girl sing, while playing the piano or guitar! I think that she is the one who actually inspired El Gringo to start playing the piano with more intensity!). But seriously, she was a rock star because I had NEVER before seen a missionary so scared to be in a “Gringo’s” home, or maybe even on a mission, then her new companion, Hermana Varela.
The poor girl had a rough start to her mission: her skirts were not long enough, so she had to get all new ones in a country that laughs in the face of modesty; I think she had a rough first day getting into Costa Rica; and the reality of culture shock is real my friends!! So sweet Hermana Bass called and asked if she and her companion could come to my house to serve me.
I felt prompted to ask this new sister to teach me how to make her country’s traditional tortillas (no thanks! Too much work for me!) and she did! While I watched her knead the tortilla dough for almost 30 minutes, I could see her have the opportunity to push out her frustrations, pain and sorrow into the dough, and then rest and enjoy eating her tortillas with a huge weight lifted from her shoulders. Right before Hermana Bass was transferred, she gave Joy Boy a stuffed owl. I had no idea how much it meant to him, until she came back with her family and stopped to say hello. Sweet girls! It is always a blessing to meet these selfless young adults!
After Hermana Bass was transferred, this cute companionship was made, Hermana Varela (Honduras) and Hermana Hansen (Utah). Sadly, they were only together for a few short weeks, due to Hermana Hansen needing to go back to Utah for some help with her health (she was then reassigned to serve in Texas!). I’ll be honest, had I not had that positive tortilla moment with Hermana Varela, I think she might have thought I wasn’t a help to the missionaries (I encouraged her companion to seek help, even if it meant she might need to leave Costa Rica). That was a tough moment for us all, but in the end, I think Hermana Varela knew what was best for Hermana Hansen and accepted it.
Thank heaven Joy Boy has loved living in the mission field, so much so he has kept track of all the missionaries we have fed over the last 4 years. Without his leather journal, I would have forgotten that two companionships came through our home.
Elder Ferufino (Honduras) and Elder Carion (Honduras), as well as Elder Parma (Uruguay) and Elder Munoz (Panama). Both of these Elder companionships came through while Paul was Bishop, and it was during the time that we had to pull back on feeding the missionaries to once a month (just Fast Sunday). But I did find a great picture of the first set of Elders me toned, making sugar cookies for the first time.
Oh how these missionaries love to learn about new things! The spirit of learning truly is contagious when you get to be around missionaries.
Next came three companionships with this Elder on the left, Elder Latu (New Zealand). He is a spiritual GIANT!!! Our family fell in love with him IMMEDIATELY!!! Because of my interaction with Polynesians in Utah, I instinctively knew how to best take care of him . . . Offer him LOTS of food!! (lasagna 😉) This guy was the best! He ALWAYS wears a smile on his face and he gives 💯% every day! He was transferred to our area while Paul was Bishop. Boy was that a blessing for us all!!
His first companionship was with Elder Munoz (Panama – sorry, no picture), then Elder Gibson (pictured above – Colorado). We even got to spend Christmas with Elder Latu and Elder Gibson. Hearing them talk with their families was a much needed experience fir me, because it helped me prepare for my turn to be on the receiving end of one of those calls! We sure did love this companionship. Elder Gibson was transferred to Guanacaste right after Christmas. It was hard to see these two split up, but we sure had fun while it lasted.
When Paul was called to be in the Stake Presidency, and finally released 9 weeks later as Bishop, Elder Urbina (Honduras) joined Elder Latu. Elder Urbina was still in the Belén ward when we left. He stayed there for several changes. Due to mine and Paul’s Stake callings, feeding the Elders became harder and harder to do. So we really don’t know who his companions were. 😔
Once we moved to Santa Barbara, we had to get on a waiting list to feed the Elders. So we never really got to know this companionship, but we did get to know Elder Rivera (Elder on the left – Mexico) better once his “gringo” companion Elder Rogers (pictures below – Utah) arrived.
And that takes us to present day! Today actually. Elder Munoz (farthest on the left – and yes, the same Munoz from earlier, we have him once again, just in a new area), Elder Rogers (who served first with Elder Rivera), Elder Hidalgo (an A.P. from El Salvador/Costa Rica), and Elder Hernandez (the greenie – from El Salvador).
We finally have the privilege of feeding the missionaries once again, on each Fast Sunday. And I love it! Taking a few months off of regularly feeding the missionaries gave us all the chance to remind ourselves of the sacrifice that is needed to help further this work along. But it also has been a great blessing, especially with not having El Gringo around.
Because BY FAR he is our FAVORITE missionary!!!! Elder Whitchurch arrived in his first area – Maipu, Corrientes, Resistencia, Argentina (think of: Holladay, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) last Wednesday, January 2, 2019. His trainer is Elder Smith (we don’t know from where, other than the USA). His Mission President is President Alejandro Salvador Patanía (Argentina). We look forward to receiving his emails each Monday! And we only have 19 more weeks until Mother’s Day! 🤗😍☺️🥰
Thanks Joy Boy!! This was a fun walk down memory lane. Without you, I wouldn’t have had a post worth posting. I love your Family History instincts. Thanks for your help!!!