Sunday, September 27, 2009

48 years ago . . .

. . . he looked like this:

Louis Edward Butler, Jr.

Lou in early morning seminary class
Margaret Evenson, teacher

Happy Birthday to Lou!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

. . . I know that He will bless me

Provo Temple as seen from the Missionary Training Center

7 September 1989 - In our District meeting tonight a couple spoke about the MTC being a School for the Prophets. We spend the first few minutes of every class discussing a verse or two we liked from our morning Book of Mormon study, which is very helpful in learning more about the Book of Mormon. We have our couple Book of Mormon study each morning after breakfast, and we go to the temple on our Preparation Day. The speakers pointed out that this is helping to get our lives on a very high spiritual plane, which in turn will help us to be closer to the Lord and to be able to be more in tune with the Spirit.

9 September 1989
– I want you to know that all of this study of the scriptures, the devotionals and firesides are making me more aware all of the time how important families are. I’m aware how much our Heavenly Father loves us, and it is because we are His family. He truly wants us all to come back to Him. He gives us commandments because he loves us, and we obey His commandments because we love Him. The commandments he has given us are just the essentials to help us prepare so we can get back to Him. They aren’t given just so he can boss us around and make us do the things He wants us to do, but they are the blueprints for building people who can live in a world or in heaven where people live the Golden Rule and treat everyone else fairly.

How grateful I am that my mother listened to the missionaries and joined the church and made it possible for me to have the Gospel in my life. Now if I can just endure to the end and continue to serve my Heavenly Father I know that He will bless me

photo credit here

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

One of the challenges of the senior mission, was the need to learn another language. Dad detailed their efforts and struggles in his journal.

Elder Nelson (instructor) - Leona
Missionary Training Center -Provo, Utah

30 August 1989 - Noon today started our second week here at the MTC. I wish I could say that we are speaking German fluently now, and that we are going to be ready to leave the German classes in 4 weeks as planned, but I am afraid we are not doing that well. They keep telling us that we are doing better than most couples have done and that we are learning very fast, but we don’t feel that it is that good. However, we are learning a lot of vocabulary, and we are surprised sometimes at how much we do know in just a week. President Healy blessed us to have Heavenly Father’s help with learning the language and that is why we are as successful as we are. We feel like if we could do our part a little better with some more study, we could learn even faster. But we are so pressed for time that we just can’t find the time when we are not so tired that we don’t function very well and have to get some rest.

We have three different teachers, and they are all young returned missionaries from either Germany or Switzerland. They are all just simply great young people and so patient and helpful that it makes us want to learn faster so as to make them look good.

5 September 1989
– Things are getting a little better, but the language is still coming pretty slowly. They are really pushing us to SYL (Speak Your Language) as much as we can, and we have hardly gotten started. Today we – with Sister Smith’s help – labeled the door, bed, mirror, wall, shower, window, and we are trying to not use the English word for them. The verbs and the grammar is what is holding us up, and the articles – but we are beginning to understand them.

7 September 1989
– We had another good day today, “sehr gut”, but very busy. We are moving quite fast now and are learning a lot of vocabulary plus a lot of grammar which I never had learned in school. We are conjugating verbs. It is pretty hard for me to understand and to remember all of the different ways to say things. I never dreamed that at 66 I would be learning another language! But, I am glad that we are, and I am enjoying it, even though it is pretty frustrating at times.

8 September 1989
– Today I gave a prayer at each of our three classes in German, without using a “crib sheet” for the first time! They weren’t very good, but it is a start. We really like all of our teachers. They are such good young people and they are so filled with the spirit. They study the scriptures every day and have some good insights into the gospel.

We’re learning the Dative case in grammar, and we learned how to give to directions. I didn’t do too bad with the book, but I’d hate to have to give someone direction from a street corner! I think they would decide that “you can’t get there from here!”

26 September 1989 – This morning one of our German teachers went to the temple with us to help us get started memorizing the ordinances in German. We went through them for pronunciation and for vocabulary understanding and then started memorizing them. I really expect that we will have all of them memorized before we leave next Friday, however! I won’t be terribly disappointed, if I don’t quite make it, but I plan to anyhow.

27 September 1989 – It is difficult to memorize in a language you don’t understand very well, but since we do know it [temple ordinances] in English, it helps. We will have to do better tomorrow than we did today, or we will be going over there only knowing part of it, but I think we will do better tomorrow. We are getting the hang of the language better now. In our evening class we are able to talk a little more with Sister Smith than before, and I have hope that this will help our memorizing.

But in spite of the challenge of learning the language, Mom and Dad loved the experiences they were having as Dad recorded:

16 September 1989
– We are having a most wonderful time here at the MTC. There are so many neat people here, and it is so much fun to talk to people who are going all over the world. It is just inspiring to see so many people preparing to go on missions and all studying so hard on so many different languages.

29 September 1989
– We are really having a great time here, lots of work and lots of frustration trying to learn German, but we are enjoying the great spirit that is here and the really great people.

Just one week from tonight we will be back in Pleasant View, getting ready to leave and “really start our mission.” It will be good to finally get going. We have planned to go since way back in March when they first asked if we could go. So it seems like a long time to finally get with the real program. Being here has been great. The MTC must have the greatest spirit of any place in the world, except in the temples, of course. But here it is a different spirit because there are so many people who are brought together for several weeks from all over the world and they are together most of 24 hours a day, except for sleeping time. They all seems to bring a great desire to serve the Lord, and they all have made some sacrifices, and it is just neat to be with people like that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Zipped Up

The door leading into the main office at Bessemer School was a beautiful oak door with about eight small glass panes in it so you could see into the office area from the hall. It was the clerk’s office, and it had the usual bench with a bulletin board over it.

“In the old days” almost all children went home for lunch, and the lunch hour for the teachers was just that. As I came back from lunch about ten minutes before the bell was to ring, I approached the office door and saw through the windows of the door that five or six teachers were standing in a row about five feet back from the bench and the bulletin board. Surely they weren’t reading the bulletin board!

Just as I reached for the doorknob, one teacher took a step toward the bench, and I heard a blood-curdling scream! The teacher stepped back, the scream stopped and I looked through the window to see a little boy sitting very straight up on the bench. Another teacher stepped forward, another scream, and I grabbed the doorknob and entered the office reception area. There was a little first grade boy with his coat zipped up to the top, catching the skin of his neck!

I sent the teachers to their rooms (and they were glad to go!). I then sat down on the bench and convinced him that I could help and after a while he allowed me to get closer and to look at the zipper. He finally let me get my hands on his coat and then the zipper fastener and with a quick jerk on it, it was off, with just a drop of blood on his neck.

photo credit here

Friday, September 11, 2009

The first step - Provo

Newly set apart missionaries
August 22, 1989

Missionary grandparents
Jessica (with Grandma) - Lacey - Matthew - Louis III

23 August 1989
– We awoke early on this special day, told everybody goodbye, and started for Provo. We got out on I-15 when I realized we had not given Lou the keys to the trailer. He was going to get the things out of the refrigerator and check on it for us. So we had to go back to the house and start again!

Leona - Lou
Missionary Training Center, Provo

We are living in the Jacob Hamblin building at the MTC – the best building, because we have our own bathroom. It is really a nice room and very comfortable, even though it has twin beds! We got our meal ticket and learned that seniors, that’s us, get to go to the front of the chow line! We just walk up to the front of the line and cut in front of the younger elders and sisters. After telling kids that they could not cut in on the cafeteria line [while working as an elementary principal], it goes against the grain for me to go to the front of the line and step in front of some of those hungry young Elders. Where else in the world would you dare do that? And if we get in the line behind the Elders, they tell us to move on up, that we are supposed to do that. If we object, they say, “Aren’t you going to obey President Pinegar who said for you to go to the front of the line?” So now we try to get there early enough to get at the front of the line before the young missionaries come.

Elder Rex Pinegar is the president of the Mission Training Center, and he is really great. He almost made me feel like I wished I was going on a proselyting mission – almost!

We met our instructor, a young girl named Sister Smith. We will be in a class of two! How is that for a good pupil-student ratio?

Lou and Leona with Sister Smith, instructor

Over 500 missionaries checked in today. There are over 2600 missionaries here now preparing to go on missions. That is a record, the most they have ever had here at one time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'll go where you want me to go . . .

Lou - Leona Butler
Summer 1989

We had been working in the temple [in Ogden] for about 9 months when the temple presidency asked if anyone would like to serve a temple mission overseas. We thought it would be great for us to work in Europe, as Chuck and Carol were living in Germany at the time. So we applied and hoped to go to the Frankfurt Temple, but were assigned to the Swiss Temple in Zollikofen for 18 months. The Swiss Temple really wasn’t much farther from Chuck’s home than the Frankfurt Temple was. While working in the Ogden Temple, I can’t tell you how great I felt when I would see her [Leona] working there [with me]. So I knew that serving in the Swiss Temple was going to be a great experience.

The calls, signed by President Ezra Taft Benson, gave few specifics about the mission service - just where and when.

The acceptance letters made it official.

The follow up letter from Robert L. Simpson provided further information.

The destinationTempel der Kirche Jesu Christi der Heligen der letzten Tage
Zollikofen bei Bern - Suisse

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Called to Serve

Leona and Lou Butler
March 4, 1983

Following their retirement from public school education (which I haven't covered yet), and Dad's release as the President of the Pueblo, Colorado Stake, Mom and Dad performed great Church service together. The first time was to serve as Church Service Volunteers at the Institute of Religion at Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas. They served from August 1984 - May 1987.

In August 1989 they began a mission to the Swiss Temple - later transferred to the temple at Frankfurt, Germany - and returned home in February 1991.

The blog posts over the next several months will focus on their mission experiences (with other unrelated posts mixed in), beginning with their call to serve in Switzerland. Through these years of service, they had many wonderful, fulfilling, and downright funny experiences together, strengthening their marriage of 40+ years. I can't guarantee that I'll provide all the details, or get everything in the right order, but I can promise that you'll sense their joy of serving with a beloved spouse.