San Pedro Sula East Mission
2013 - 2016

Friday, April 12, 2013

Whew! Not Your Usual Mission Prep!


This is not exactly the kind of Mission Prep I had imaged.  Sure . . . we have been studying Spanish with our MTC tutors . . .

Yes, we have been attending workshops at the MTC to guide us in "Preach My Gospel" studies . . .

AND, we are continuing to teach our 17 year old Sunday School class, whom almost all either have mission calls or are submitting papers, or plan to submit papers in the next year or two . . . which has been awesome mission prep . . .

BUT no,

This is not the kind of mission prep I am referring to!

Who would guess the technological preparations for making communication easier and less expensive once you are outside of the United States!

I'm sure all those people who travel the world for business every day of the week . . . have got this all down.  But it's all NEW to us!

And it's straining my brain!

We did get hooked up with a Vonage phone this week . . . which is the subject of a different post.  Let me just say for all of you reading this post about Vonage . . . the monthly fee is $18.  We have unlimited incoming calls.  You just dial a local Utah number to reach us (which is awesome!) We can use it anywhere internet access is available. We have to limit our outgoing calls to 300 minutes a month or pay an excess charge.  But when you are outside of the Mission Home, it's a little cumbersome and inconvenient to lug around a real phone, the Vonage box and cordage (can you say that when there are a lot of cords involved??) and connect and disconnect at different locations.

Of course (we think!) we'll have cell phones . . . but can't call outside Honduras except in case of

All of which leads to what this post is REALLY about . . .

It is pretty cool now that I have it up and running . . . but it was pretty scary there for a while . . .

Turning your Ipad, Iphone or Ipod Touch into an internet phone, giving you access to make calls (VOIP) over the internet usually without charge, or at greatly decreased rates compared to cell phone service, and without using cell phone minutes.

This setup replicates a phone connection using Google Voice and a few other apps available through Itunes for cheap.  (This would be a great idea I'm thinking also to save money on your cell phone bill, you could take your minutes down to about zero - ish).

**First off - you need to sign into your Google account and sign up for a Google Voice number.  Not that hard really, it prompts you through all the steps.  Select the option for a NEW Google voice number  (FREE) versus paying the $25 to port in your current cell phone number or other number you use.  Unless of course you are REALLY attached to the number and want to keep it. (You get the same advantages with Google voice as with other phone carriers - conference calling, screening callers, blocking callers, voice mail and sending text messages) AND one disclaimer (SORRY folks, Google Voice is only available to those currently living in the USA)

**Next you need to download GV Connect from the Itunes store.  There is a nominal fee for the app (less than $3 I think).  There is a free app available but GV Connect is a better option as it has full Ipad, Ipod Touch, and Iphone support.  GV Connect extends the benefits of the Google Voice service to the iOS (Mac-Apple) environment.  Neither Google Voice or GV Connect actually provide the VOIP service so once combined with another FREE app - Talkatone, you have the ability to actually make phone calls from your iOS device.  

**Finally, download Talkatone from the iTunes store.  The actual app that lets you make phone calls for free with your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch.

**Once you have your Google Voice account set up with your new phone number, have downloaded and installed both GV Connect and Talktone.  Open GV Connect and Talktone and link them to your Google Voice account.  It automatically safely protects your password for your Google account so you only have to enter your Google Voice number and password once.

**Then in GV Connect - do the following
1-  Under Settings, set the Start Calls From setting to Google Talk.
2 -Enable the Call using Talkatone setting
3- Click on the telephone handset icon in the upper left corner to place a call.
(Go ahead . . . try it out :)

**To enable your incoming Google Voice calls (since you are going to instruct everyone to call you on that number when you are outside of the United States), do the following:
1-  In GV Connect  - Under Settings, set the Call Forwarding setting to Google Talk.
2 - Make sure you are logged in to your Google Account in Talkatone.
3- Wait for an incoming call.
(Go ahead - tell someone to call you!)

**One more setting to adjust - go to your Google Voice settings.  In the left margin check
the box that says "forward calls to Google Chat".  Uncheck the box for your mobile phone.  Also to receive text msgs - in Google Voice settings - check the box "Text Forwarding"
 ( Note that if you forward calls to both your Google Chat AND your mobile phone number, your mobile phone will ring twice (once in the Talkatone app and once via the native phone). It's better to only check the "forward to Google chat" box and receive calls on your mobile via Talkatone (which is FREE and does not use cell minutes)).  

If you're confused . . . it's ok . . I was totally :D
But there's more info at the sights below:
 - Your iPad's a Telephone with Google Voice
 - How to Make and Receive Phone Calls with your iPad.

**And finally - last but not least you need a headset to keep your conversations private.  This is the one I bought off of Amazon for $10.

Hey!  If I can do it anyone can!!

Now we have Vonage for receiving US calls at home, a cell phone for receiving/making calls from the Missionaries in Honduras, and an iPad phone for calling and receiving calls from the US wherever we have WiFi or Internet access.  Hurray!!

If that doesn't make for complicated communications . . . I don't know what does!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I'm not feelin' too good . . .

Those are words that I imagine I will come to hear on an all too frequent basis . . .

As a mom of four children, I know that almost always, at least one of them isn't feelin' too good at any particular time.  So multiply that by 200 missionaries . . . and I'm sure it can challenge the nursing skills of any . . .

Mission President's Wife!

So I thought it would be funny to include this update along those lines from my good friend Lori in Guatalajara Mexico.  You can follow her adventures online in her always inspiring blog posts!

So my life has come down to this . . .  ?
Included in the week of interviews were, of course, telephone calls from all the sick/injured missionaries.  (Wes gets a lot of calls too, but all of his are confidential. However, if I had one piece of advice for new missionaries it would be—repent BEFORE going on your mission! It makes life so much easier for everyone.)
But here is a sampling of calls I have recently received . . .

“My companion just fainted. ”
“I have been constipated now for TEN days!!”
“I have a rash on a very sensitive part of my body.”
“A little boy in the ward gave me a ring and I put it on my finger. It is now stuck and turning my finger purple.
“I was walking down the street and ran into a metal pole and split my head open.”
And my least favorite was a call from the zone leaders on the coast around ten at night, a week ago Saturday  . . .
“So did the sisters tell you what is going on with them?’
“Well, you know how you sent Sister P to the hospital because she kept vomiting? Well, she just called and said they told her she needs emergency surgery. She and her companion are totally freaking out. Should we go over
At 2 in the morning I received a follow up call from the zone leaders saying they decided to wait until morning for surgery. Around 10 the next morning the senior couple (who I called and asked to please go to the hospital) called and said the sister was doing better so they weren’t going to do surgery after all. (Hooray for that!!)

Oh . . .

Can I say, I'm so excited I can hardly wait :D

I am an RN, and I do feel very blessed to have expertise in the medical field, and a good background in assessment skills etc.   And I can delivery a baby in the dark without to many worries . . . . (You never know WHEN that might come in handy in a third world country!!)

But I'm getting a little worried about the Missionary Medical side of things.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Mission President's Wife . . .

I'm grateful for those "Mission President's Wives" who give us a glimpse into all the thought and effort that goes into the calling of serving alongside your husband in the mission field.  I was recently reading this great example (Just Part of a Day's Work) from Sister Sandy Trayner, who's husband presides currently over the Texas McAllen Mission. 

You can read more in their blog - but here are Sister Trayner's thought that are just 
"part of her day's work"!

 Many times, I  have been asked the question, "So what is it that you do?"  I try not to be offended by the question. Honestly, I never have a spare minute, I am never "caught up" with anything, and I have cheerfully "put on the table of sacrifice" (for a time) many things that I would have been doing if we had not received the call to serve. Although is it difficult to describe a day in my life, I feel that occasionally some people have a perception that the wife of a mission president just doesn't have much to do except follow her husband around and take pictures.

Not true 

   I have decided to try to describe what may be the impossible- some of what it is that I do. It is important to remember, however, that what I do is not necessarily what the wife of another mission president does. As a couple, each president and his wife- together- find their own way to get the work done.  I am grateful that I hold a calling that was issued specifically to me. My husband was called and set apart and I support him. I was also called and I was also set apart as a missionary to serve as the wife of the mission president. I know that I am entitled to my own inspiration and guidance for my calling. Every day, I do my best to fulfill my calling and the responsibilities that come with it. We learned very quickly that our callings do not come with specific job descriptions, but there are needs that must be addressed regularly. 

   One thing that I do is spend a lot of hours talking on the phone and receiving and sending a lot of text messages and a lot of e-mails, mostly about health issues with the missionaries. Unless another arrangement has been made, the mission president's wife receives the responsibility to watch over the physical and emotional health of all of the missionaries in the mission. Although I think that I was usually successful doing this with my own five children, it can be daunting to think that I am dealing with 170+ at one time. The Lord has blessed me. I have felt His guidance many times as I have  tried to help a missionary. Funny thing, I have learned to say the word "diarrhea" a lot without flinching, even from the podium in Zone Conferences. I have taught so many
missionaries what the BRAT diet is that I could now teach it in my sleep. I have dealt with dehydration, coughs, allergies, rashes, broken bones, constipation, tumors, heartburn, so many rolled ankles that I couldn't begin to count them, migraines, broken front teeth, many, many ingrown toenails, fevers, road rashes, concussions, aching backs, dog bites, depression, congestion, surgeries, anxiety, the flu, known and unknown viruses, cuts requiring stitches, fatigue, dizziness, sprains, stomach aches, hypochondria  etc., etc., etc. I am the one who helps each missionary find a doctor to visit when needed. I enter health information in a computer. I prepare health lessons and teach about good health practices at Zone Conferences and at other missionary meetings. 

   May I add that when it comes to the health of the missionaries, I'm especially grateful for the help of four people who answer my calls. First to our AMA (Area Medical Adviser), Dr. Bourne (retired) and his wife. Elder and Sister Bourne are full-time missionaries based in Houston and serve many of the "southwest" missions.  They are always available to me. Second, to Bishop Mendez, P.A., who is one of only a handful of medical personnel who belong to our church and live within our mission boundaries. He serves the missionaries without a complaint and helps me keep the missionaries on their feet. Third, to my son Nate, who is an emergency room physician in Dallas. He is willing to offer support and advice. He has even occasionally been known to speak with a missionary over the phone. Fourth, to Brother Russell, from LDS Social Services. Brother Russell is based in Houston and makes many phone calls and treks south when needed. Thanks also goes to the great nurses that answer the phones in the missionary department's Missionary Medical. They are always a source of encouragement for me.  

It's just part of my day's work!
I am grateful to serve-
 For it is true that those whom ye serve, ye love.

   Another thing that I do is help my husband train missionaries. This is my "most favorite"! I attend meetings (with the Assistants to the President and my husband) where we plan what we will teach.  I study (a lot!) and I pray (a lot!) to prepare myself to teach to the needs of the missionaries.  I teach in Leadership Training meetings, in training meetings for new trainers of missionaries and new District Leaders, and I help train new missionaries.  I participate in Zone Conferences and Zone Leader Councils. I teach whenever and whatever the Spirit directs me to teach. In nearly three years, I have completely worn out my copy of "Preach My Gospel."  I love teaching missionaries! I love seeing the individual growth of each missionary as he/she applies what has been taught.

It's just part of my day's work!
I am grateful to serve-
 For it is true that those whom ye serve, ye love

   Another thing that I do is speak. I give talks in English and I give talks in Spanish.  I speak in Stake Conferences, Sacrament meetings, and firesides.  I study (a lot!) and I pray (a lot!) to prepare myself for the speaking assignments. In this mission, we probably don't spend as much time speaking to congregations as other mission presidents because we have a smaller number of members than most other missions. Still, we speak, and we speak together. My husband is good about letting other priesthood leaders know that I am his companion, and because of that, I speak.  I have always enjoyed speaking and now I do it more than I ever dreamed I would.

It's just part of my day's work!
I am grateful to serve-
 For it is true that those whom ye serve, ye love

   Another thing that I do is cook a lot. Although most people probably would say that I'm a good cook, this is not my most favorite activity. It is difficult for me to spend 2-3 hours preparing a large meal and then watch it disappear in 30 minutes. Maybe I feel this way because I am an Interior Designer. When I work on a project, I intend for it to be appreciated for years. That's not what happens with a good meal. I am, however, very grateful that I can cook. I give thanks to my mother for her example and teaching. My mom's a great cook, as was her mother.  Also, associated with a  lot of  cooking is a lot of grocery shopping. I think that shopping can be fun when it's more than filling full two carts of food at Sam's Club. Give me two hours and unlimited resources at a good mall and I'm very happy. Sam's Club grocery shopping is hard work- I load the carts with lots and lots of groceries, unload lots and lots of groceries at the register, reloadlots and lots of groceries into the car, and then unload lots and lots of groceries again at the mission home- often filling two refrigerators to the max.

It's just part of my day's work!
I am grateful to serve-
 For it is true that those whom ye serve, ye love

    Another thing that I do is travel. We travel a lot, but it's not vacation travel. We travel in a noisy blue minivan- perhaps we should have a secret hope that driving the minivan will help us feel young again! From most points in our mission, it is a three hour one way trip. We travel from McAllen to Corpus Christi (and back again), from McAllen to Laredo (and back again), from McAllen to Harlingen, and then to Brownsville. Sometimes we travel to Roma, to La Joya, Rio Grande, Alice, and Beeville.  Traveling is an essential part of what we do. I wish that I could say that I get a lot done while traveling. Unfortunately, I must admit that the thing that happens most is that I nap. 

It's just part of my day's work!
I am grateful to serve-
 For it is true that those whom ye serve, ye love

   I love what I do! The day is soon approaching that I will not have the same opportunity to give service in this capacity anymore. I will miss it a lot! I am reminded of King Benjamin's words, 
"...if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants."  (Mosiah 2:21)

   I love my Heavenly Father and I love the missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission a lot! I will do all that I can to serve them. So what is it that I do? Simply put- Not enough.
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