Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kevin's Connection in Dallas

This is Sarah, Kevin's oldest sister. Techincally I'm allowed to post on Kevin's blog, but never have. Here are pictures of his connection at the DFW airport. We were happy to be able to meet him.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

As they say, "All good things must come to an end" and so it is with this blog. (I'm taking the liberty of calling it "good.")

Kevin arrived at Champaign's Willard Airport a little after 8:00 p.m. Thursday, July 21, 2011. A less active member from Canada, with whom he visited on the airplane, took the following picture of Kevin and his welcome-home committee.

Seth did most of the work on the sign which included the flags and languages of both countries in which Kevin served.

Kevin had a connection in Dallas which allowed Sarah and her family to visit with him about 15 minutes between clearing customs and boarding his next flight. Grace let him hold her without crying which is a little unusual, based on my experience. He was grateful for the cookies and lunch/dinner money they provided to him.

I wanted to not have his release be different than those of other returned missionaries and their families so it didn't end up happening until about 6:30 the following evening. That meant he dressed and behaved like a missionary for one more day. During that day he indicated that he really didn't have a desire to dress in "street clothes", get on Facebook, etc. In fact, he wasn't all that anxious to be released.

I have enjoyed feeling his spirit, learning more about his experiences, and speaking Spanish with him. He was able to participate in some of Deanna's wedding celebration as we had her open house here last night. Melanie and her family were nice enough to drive up for both occasions.

What happens to these young men on their missions is another testimony of the restored Gospel and God's great wisdom. Further, it is a testimony that prophets are on the earth and are inspired to take the gospel to the world while changing missionaries in many positive ways. Most of all, it is a testimony of the Savior, his love and the power of his atonement.

Kevin's mission has been a real blessing to me and I am most pleased to call him my son.

Seth will be leaving in six years. Until then.....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Well, Kevin's last emailed pictures of his mission will help us remember why he is there.

The first is of a family he contacted a year ago before leaving his current area. They were baptized after he left and he is pleased to report they remain active.

The second is of the family which feeds them lunch each Sunday. Being with and strengthening members is also a significant part of his mission.

Now, I would like to briefly share some things Kevin missed while on his mission.

The first was Laura's wedding in December 2009. Here we have the family in a St. Louis hotel shortly after the ceremony was performed in the temple.

The second was Deanna's wedding in June of 2011. Here we see Deanna and Dale outside the Provo temple shortly after they were married.

This picture actually represents two things he missed. It was taken outside the cabin we rented for our Ned Lunt family reunion shortly after Deanna's wedding. It shows us that Kevin missed a family reunion but it also contains the two nieces and the nephew who were born while he was gone.

Here is a kind of long excerpt from Kevin's last letter from his mission.

"Ending the mission you have a lot of mixed feelings and I am not really sure how I should feel. I am eternally grateful for the things that I have learned and I don't know what my life would have been like if I hadn't gone on the mission. It was truly helped me to appreciate the gospel and the joy it brings. There are few of us that have the blessing by having the restored gospel in our lives and we should take advantage of it by not only knowing the gospel but living it. As we come to truly be converted we will feel the joy it brings and we will feel the desire to share it. It has been a blessing see how the gospel has changed the lives of the people that God has prepared. "

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kevin's pictures this time focus on the San Salvador, El Salvador temple. Certainly, that is a good topic on which to focus.

They had their first interviews with the new mission president and he gave them permission to go to the temple once a week with less-active members and/or investigators. That very afternoon/evening, Kevin took advantage and went to the temple.

The above picture is a sticker, I believe, that was handed out at the open house. It translates, "My goal is the temple." A very worthy goal indeed.

Our next pictures will progress from afternoon to night.

The above picture is, obviously, still in day light and gives you a good sense of some of the landscaping.

This is a close up of some of the designs in the temple wall. While I am sure these engravings have some significance, Kevin didn't share that. I will assume he doesn't know. (Update from Kevin: The design is of the national flower of El Salvador. I think it is the flower of izote or something like that. That design is throughout all of the temple and the three flowers interleanked are supposed to represent eternal families.)

Here, evening is upon us. The color of the sky and the temple lights provide for a beautiful view.

The night pictures are wonderful from a distance (above) and closer up (below).

I don't know if I have any readers who are within driving distance of Charleston. If you are, I wanted you to know that Kevin will arrive home late July 21. He will be speaking at our worship service on Sunday, July 24 which begins at 9:30 a.m. The address is 7426 Country Club Road, Mattoon (about a quarter mile south of Wal-Mart). You are all welcome.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our first three photos of this week relate mostly to the Chamul family.

The couple needed to get married so that he could get baptized. I'm not sure exactly how much Kevin did to facilitate the wedding and the related celebration but he seems to have played some role.

Having been married, Brother Chamul could get baptized. He is pictured here with another couple that was married the previous Sunday and baptized on the same day. Again, Kevin's message seems to indicate he played a role in the planning and carrying off of the wedding. Maybe a career as a wedding planner is in his future. ;-)

Evidently, the other man is named Paco. He is almost as tall as Kevin and is a former professional wrestler. Kevin had a moment of panic when it came time to lift Paco out of the water but it worked out. Kevin's companion didn't fare so well in baptizing Paco's wife, who is tall and pregnant. I guess it took him three tries.

The following picture was taken at a Family Home Evening Kevin and his companion held with the Chamul family.

Here's a surprise - they made papusas. Kevin will miss those.

We have known for some time that Kevin would return home before the El Salvador temple would be dedicated.

We are glad that he at least could attend the open house with the ward in which he is serving. Here is a quote from his letter. "There were lots of original paintings and one of my favorites was at the entrance with Jesus Christ with two little girls holding on to his robe, one was Nephite and one was Lamanite." He was grateful to be back in the temple after almost two years of not having that opportunity.

I left this picture for last as I wanted all my readers to know that Kevin can do things with machetes other than decorate them and give them to the mission president.

Evidently, they provided service to a member by helping cut their grass.

Here is the last section from Kevin's recent letter. "Sunday was my last fast Sunday in the mission and I went to bear my testimony. It is crazy how fast time flies. Afterwards the young men's president asked me to talk with the young men about the mission and get them excited to go. Like they say these really are the best two years. I am grateful that I have this opportunity to be able to help other come unto Christ. I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and I am eternally grateful for the atonement. I know that this is Christ's Church and that we are lead by a modern day prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God."
We have been gone for a week and a half so this is a catch-up post.

We will start with the highlight of the previous week - the baptism of Wito (Edwin Orantes). He asked Kevin to baptize him since he is coming home soon.

Here is a quote from Kevin's letter about Wito. "He is truly an elect. Before he even got baptized he went with us to visit a friend of his and he challenged him to baptism and told him to read the pamphlet because he was going to ask him questions about what he read."

They had their last zone conference with President and Sister Lopez. After exchanging hugs, they took pictures. Not surprisingly, many tears were shed as they said goodbye.

Kevin and three other missionaries formed a quartet and sang for the conference. He said it went well. Other news from the conference was that President Lopez was given a decorated machete. (Evidently, Kevin and a former missionary were behind buying it, decorating it and getting other missionaries to sign it.) In their mission, they said he was lowering the machete when he chastised someone. I guess it was all done and received in good humor and the president acknowledged Kevin as its source.

Finally, we have a picture of Kevin and his companion at the Tazumal ruins. They had a zone activity there over a week ago.

He has been there twice so there isn't much new to report.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I will begin this post by introducing you to Kevin's new companion, Elder Flores.

I don't think Kevin has mentioned where Elder Flores is from but it would be safe to bet that he is from Central America. If he was not, he would be the first.

So, it turns out that two or three couples need to get married in order to receive baptism. Kevin felt he would like to contribute by providing a wedding cake for the nuptials planned for Saturday.

Unfortunately, one of those to be married could not produce a birth certificate and, therefore, was denied a marriage license. (I understand Kevin tried to help get the birth certificate but the person who needed to certify it was out of the office.)

So, now you have the classic dilemma - a cake but no party.

Kevin went to El Salvador seeking conversions. It seems he made several friends on Father's Day by converting the wedding cake into a Father's Day cake.

Did you notice how he bends down in each of the standing photos?

Kevin did report that they have many people to teach - a real blessing.

Here is his testimony.
"I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our savior. I know that this is His church and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that true happiness comes from truly living the gospel."