Monday, June 29, 2009

Pretty Mama, Pretty Baby

I think my granddaughter, Natalia, is the most beautiful, little baby. Of course, I think her Mommy is really pretty too. I can't wait to hold and to give lots of kisses to this sweetest of babies.

Friday, June 26, 2009


My birthday celebration continued today. When I arrived at the church for game night for the JA's, they had me wait in the hallway for a few minutes. Then they had me close my eyes and they led me into a dark room where the rest of the gang jumped up and yelled surprise. Then they all sang "Happy Anniversaire" to me. They had gone to a lot of trouble and thought of everything. The room was decorated. There was a banner and there were balloons everywhere. There was a beautiful card signed by everyone and there was cake and drinks, but most of all there were the lovely young adults. They even presented me with this pretty bouquet of flowers. I was so excited and they were so excited and we had a great time together. I am so lucky that these awesome young people like me. I sure love them and love working with them.
I even got a bowl of cherries, homegrown, for a gift.

Before we left for the church, Manon, our neighbor's daughter, came by and brought me this gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It was huge and I had to take 3 pictures from different sides to show the beautiful flowers. I think they are sooo thoughtful to think of me and to give me this wonderful gift.
Last night I had the party with the missionaries and today with the young adults. I got to talk to most of my children, got emails from others, got lots of messages and cards. I feel so spoiled. My dearest friend's son, Kyle, called and showed me on skype that he got and is sending me a personally signed copy of the book Number the Stars. I love this little book and am overwhelmed that a young man would think of me enough to get me this book at a book signing lecture. I really am blessed and I am so grateful for that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Birthday in Belgium/France

Many years ago on an early morning of June 25th, in far off, huge, yellow Shanghai, China this wonderful couple had a baby girl after 7 years of marriage. I am the lucky baby to be born to this most wonderful, awesome couple. I, like Nephi of old, was born to goodly parents. I remember them with so much love in my heart. They were the best! They were so kind and generous, loving, full of fun and wisdom. They loved and taught their children well. In all of my years with them, I never heard them argue, fight, or even say one unkind word to each other or about anyone. Oh, how I love them and miss them.
My Dad was born in Samara, Russia to a noble family. In 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution, he had to escape from Russia with his family. They took the trans siberian train where they were packed in like animals and they also traveled by camel as well as by foot. They had to leave their estate and all of their belongings except those that they could carry and the jewels and money that they sewed into the hems of their coats. They settled in China. My Mom was born in Harbin, China because her Dad worked for the diplomatic services of Russia and he was assigned to China.
And so, I was born and the whole family was ecstatic. They finally had a baby. The very next day, I was given to a different Mom. You see, there were only 2 white babies born at that time in St. Mary's Hospital in the french concession of Shanghai. All of the other babies were Chinese. The nurse accidentally gave the 2 white babies to the wrong Moms. The other Dad came in, took a look at me and said that this was not his baby. Luckily, the other baby was a boy and so the nurse came into the room and "checked our passports". The proof was there and each baby went to his or her own Mom.
Our life in China was a good life. My Dad had an import/ export store and deli and my Mom stayed home to take care of the family. A few year later my parents had a son and life was really great. We had a cook, a maid, a houseboy, and each of the children had their own Ama(nursemaid).
This fun, pleasant, extravagent lifestyle was not to last. The Chinese Communist forces had their start in northwestern China and eventually conquered the rest of the nation. Knowing that Mao Tse Tong's forces would occupy Shanghai, we again had to flee to keep our freedom. My Dad had originally booked first class passage on a nice liner, but then got a letter from my uncle in Seattle who told him that American Lines would be striking and that he should get passage on the General Gordon, for that would be the last ship out of China. Luckily, because he had money, we were able to get passage on that ship. My Dad and Grandpa and all of the men were on the level with the rooms and the children and women were put into the cargo hold. I remember seeing a sea of bunk beds with 2 people per bunk. I was with my Mom and my brother was with my Grandma. The conditions were terrible and many, many people were seasick. My parents have told me that I was very near death on that trip. We were each given a bowl of rice a day to sustain us, but what saved me is that my Dad and Grandpa would take turns smuggling fruit to us. They would stand near a pole that led to the cargo area(like a fireman's pole) and when noone was looking the would drop down an orange. My Mom or Grandma, who were also seasick, would catch it and feed it to me and my brother. When the ship came into San Francisco Bay and the passengers could see land, many of them were so excited and thankful that they fell to the floor thanking God for their safety and protection. Many were kissing the floor, so grateful were they for having their freedom. My parents carried me off the ship, but as you can see I survived and thrived.
I have really led a blessed life. My parents were the best and so were my grandparents who lived with us for quite a while. We first lived across the bay from San Francisco in Richmond Annex and then when I was in 7th grade, we moved to "The City". I finished High School there at George Washington High School and then I attended San Francisco State University. I loved going to school and I had lots of friends and lots of fun growing up. The school year was busy with studies and also after school twice a week and on Saturday's I attended russian school. In the summers we relaxed and spent much of the summer at Russian River. My Dad and the other Dad's would come up to the river on the week-ends while the Moms and kids spent their weeks there. I was often lucky enough to have my friend come with me. We always had a great time together.
My first job was as a cashier for a nice shoe store in Stonestown, S.F. It was for the Christmas season. Then I worked for the City of Paris, a very fancy department store in downtown S.F. I worked there throughout my college years. Then I worked for 6 months as an underwriter's assistant for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. In June of 1965 I got married and in Sept. I started my first "real job" teaching 4th grade at Mills Elementary in Benecia Ca. After that I taught for 4 years in Burlingame, 3rd and 4th grades. Then DH graduated and we moved to So. Ca. I became a stay at home Mom and I loved it. My favorite thing in the world is to be a Mom. I absolutely loved it. We have 8 children, 7 of them living. We had 5 biological children and then adopted 3. It has been a real joy and a blessing to have these children. We now have 12 grandchildren and 1 more on the way. We are also going to be great grandparents to sweet little Tatum. The year before we adopted our children, I sustitute taught for for Lancaster School Dist. and some time later when all of the children were in school, I was a reading specialist for Palmdale Sch. Dist for 12 yrs. After that I taught 4th again and the Kindergarten in Rosamond, C. Teaching Kndg. was my most favorite job. I loved it. I loved the kids and we just had the best time together. It was also the easiest job I ever had. We moved to Ft. Worth, Texas almost 4 years ago and lived there for 3 years. I taught and was an aide in a class for handicapped children there at Lake Worth High School. I always loved teaching and being with the kids. For me it was never a drugery to go to work. It was a pleasure.
I have been blessed with an awesome family. I have a wonderful husband and terrific children and grandchildren. I feel so lucky that all of my children like me. I have a great daughter-in-law and terrific sons-in-law. I have had trials in my life, deaths, miscarriages, illnesses, and surgeries(my own and my children), and daily problems that we all have, but all in all I have had a blessed, happy, joyeous life. I have the most wonderful friends who have been so supportive and caring and whom I love very much. I have a strong belief in God and in Jesus Christ and I thank them for all of my blessings. They are the number one important thing in my life.
Now DH and I are serving a mission for the Lord. We are having a great time doing this. We have already had so many special experiences. We love working with the youth and with the missionaries. Tonight as we arrived for our meeting early because they tricked us into coming early, the young missionaries had a surprise birthday for me. They all sang to me and we had cake, cookies, juice, potatoe chips, and of course french bread. We are in France you know. We must have french bread. Tomorrow the young adults have a surprise party planned for me. One of the girls gave it away, but I am instructed to be very surprised and I sure will be.:) I feel very happy and touched that they are all going to so much trouble to wish me the best.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zone Conf 6/17/09, Baptism

This was our last zone conference with our awesome President Woodland. He is finished and will be leaving on July 1st. He has been the best mission president. Not only is he a savvy business man(one of the 5 owners of Dreyers Ice Cream and 1 of the CEO's of Hooked on Phonics), he is also a very humble, very knowledgeable of the scriptures, awesome spiritual leader. We have grown to really love this man and will miss him greatly.

Some of the missionaries during an acitivity.

This young man is Harold Pompier. Harold is from Africa and is a recently returned missionary in France. 5 years ago He started going to church and was attending for a long time and having fun with his friends, but not really studying the gospel or reading the scriptures. One day the Bishop grabbed him and asked him when was he going to be baptized. Harold replied that he had no need of baptism. However that got him to thinking and he began to realize that "something was missing". He started reading the Book of Mormon and it was then that he "felt close to God and had a desire to come to Him." He read, Mosiah 1:3 "And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God." Harold was baptized in 3 weeks and has been faithfully serving the Lord ever since. He is a great young man. I think he has the scriptures practically memorized. He is lively, fun, an inspiring.

President and Sister Woodland with us.

Elder Leavitt, our zone leader.

Elder Bertrand, our district leader.

Elder Bailey , our zone leader.

Elder Spicer

Elders Cabrera and Riley

Sister Carson

Elders Perez and Nielsen

Sisters Fritch, Arhets, and Shannon

Elder Scott

Elder Baker

Elder Baker from England. He has served a worthy mission and is going home today.

Elders Nielsen and Bailey, our first zone leaders.

Sister Carson and me.

In the morning the pres. taught us. Trust The Lord. Some of the examples were Nephi and Laban, the plates, the bow, Alma and Amulek. Amulek taught his friends, gave up everything. Then there were Enos, Amon, Lehi, Bro. of Jared, Strippling Warriors. Alma 57:26,27 "And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe- that whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually."
Be Tusted By The Lord by obeying, having the courage to follow the spirit, know and align desires, ask, do good, doubt not, repent, sacrifice, walk in the dark, never grudgingly, fast and pray, be humble. Alma3:35 " Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts which sanctifiation cometh because of their yieding their hearts unto God."
In the afternoon pres talked about the covenants made in the temple. The Lord has a lot to teach his children. He picked these 4 things to teach them about godhood.
1a. Sacrifice: The only way we will really learn is to show humility. How else will we understand God? If we are not willing to sacrifice, we will never advance. This life is "Not About Me". It's all about what the Lord wants done. It will always have to do with others. ex temple work, missionary work. 1b.Obedience: Unlocks power we didn't understand. Helps us understand eternal life. Obedience= power. 2.Living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our mission is to learn how to be centered in the gospel (Jesus Christ). We must point toward the Savior always. We must become like He is. Moroni7:48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we sall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." Please center your lives on Christ. Don't let anything turn(lead) you away. 3. Chastity: Noone will be God unless they live the ordinance and are sealed by the holy spirit of promise that they have lived that ordinance. Purity and virtue are the key to godhood. Virtue gives us power to defend against Satan. 4.Consecration: We are His. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. It is only in that we have happiness and joy. When we fight that, we are unhappy. He will not ask us to do anything that will not lead to joy and happiness.
President Woodland said many other wonderful, inspiring things. It was a very spiritually uplifting conference. I know that those of us who attended this conference will never forget his words or the power and spirit that was felt there. He concluded by saying that, "The work will go forth. Nothing will stop it. We have been called for eternity."

This is Jean Luk with his wife Gizela and little son Jeremy. Jean Luc is Belgian and his wife is from Ecuador. We have been teaching them for a while and last Sunday Jean Luk was baptized. Gizela is already a member.

Sorry I chopped off the heads, but I still wanted to include these pictures. The young women are Emilie(2nd from L) and Rita(2nd from right).

The elder in white is Elder Hoskyns and next to him is Elder Bertrand. They are our current district leaders.

Emilie is French and Rita is from the Congo.

Emilie is the sister of Ester(2nd from r). Ester is the wife of Ben(bottom) who is the man I wrote about (From Muslim to Mormon). The 3 children are theirs.