Monday, June 30, 2008

Durrance Newsletter from Frankfort, Germany

We had the opportunity to meet again with President Glen L. Rudd, formerly the Mission President of the Florida Mission. President Rudd had interviewed us 41 years ago for our temple recommends when we married in 1967. Months later, he called Joe as the Branch President in Cross City, Florida (1967-68). President Rudd has served in the Welfare Program of the Church since its earliest days during the Great Depression. He was asked by the First Presidency to write the history of the Church Welfare Program, which has become the hallmark of the Program. His book is entitled, Pure Religion. A small pamphlet by the same name is distributed throughout the Church to inform members and non-LDS members of this inspired program.

Before leaving for Frankfurt, we had the opportunity to visit with President Rudd once more at a luncheon for the Welfare-missionary couples as we prepared to leave for our assigned destinations. Elder Rudd reminded us in a talk that the Lord’s Work will move forward to every nation of the world, and that the Welfare/Humanitarian efforts of its members will open doors to nations we could enter no other way. Standing with President Rudd is Brother Walker, administrator of the Church’s Vision Initiatives. At present, we have Vision Programs in many third-world nations. We are presently sponsoring one in our Area in Lebanon. Through this program the Church is able to send physicians into under-developed nations for eye exams, surgeries, taking technology where none exist.

Though the Middle-East nations; Lebanon, Jordon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt will formally fall under Salt Lake City’s immediate direction, the humanitarian work for these nations may remain under us here in Frankfurt. That is still yet to be decided. We should know by the end of the year.
This week we ordered another $500,000 in goods to be sent to Myanmar to aid in their relief efforts there. This is in addition to the 150,000 lbs. of goods already sent in conjunction with UPS Charities in Apr/May.

Can you tell that we are sooooooooo excited about this work? The best part of being located where we are is that we get to see so much of what is going on throughout Europe and parts of the Middle-East.

These boxes are ready to send out to countries throughout the world. When we visited Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, there were about 2000 square feet of goods, stacked and ready to be ship to the World, including the United States.

Donated clothes waiting to be sent throughout the world. Employees from all over the world, many refugees from endangered nations, help sort through clothes and other items for shipment.

Flags hang on the walls at Welfare Square, showing the nations that are represented by employees.

Joe plays with puppets from the Health Fair Kits sent to Third-World nations. These kits are used to help children, and their parents, understand the harmful effects of smoking, alchole, and drug use, as well as the benefits of healthy foods and hiegiene.

Joe and I have a wheelchair race at the Missionary Training Center.

More will be added later!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

We Have Arrived!

We wanted to let you all know that we arrived in Frankfurt safe and sound. Our apartment is right next to the Church Area Office building and the church building, so we can walk to our work and church.

Brother Madsen met us at the airport today. His wife is with single sister in Finland this weekend, so he spent most of the morning with us. He walked us to a small market not far from the apartment to buy some groceries, then drove us to the REWE store, which is like an Albertson's. There are a lot of small shops nearby, a few small cafes and flower shops, so we should be able to pick up things really easily. Frankfurt lacks the quaint beauty of Ol' Europe. It's more modern, at least where we are.
There's a huge Cemetary about a block away where thousands of Jews and war victims are buried.

Our apartment is a one bedroom, with a galley kitchen, a dishwasher, and a washer/driver in the bathroom--and best of all a king size bed! The apartment reminds me a little of an IKEA apartment showroom. Dad said I can decorate it. COOL! The IKEA store isn't far away. So that makes it even better. We even have a 25 inch TV in the living room, and we have our two lap-tops and IPODs, so it's almost like we never left home--except we're missing our favorite people.

We're almost through unpacking, so by Monday we should feel like we actually live here. We love you all. Take care and keep us in your prayers. I think we're going to need it.

Love always, Joe and Dee

Monday, June 2, 2008

While at the MTC

We wanted to send you all a quick note and share the joy we feel at this time. This past week at the Missionary Training Center has probably been one of the most spiritual weeks of our lives--full of scriptures and love for the Savior and His children. There are no words to express the peace we have felt here.
Today, we visited the Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. What a beautiful program. It is hard to express the emotions you feel as you see refugees from different countries working to provide goods and food for people around the world. Utah ranks 5th in refugees, and these centers provide employment for them and a chance for an education, while also using their labor to prepare goods for shipment to 3rd world countries. One young man from Sudan told us today that he felt so much joy in knowing that as he works here in the Center he is also providing goods for his friends and family back home.
At present we have water projects planned in Syria and Lebanon. We are just waiting for US approval to begin. These two projects alone will provide water for more than 100,000 people. It takes my breathe away to see what we are doing. Right now we are working on a project with Catholic Charities providing food and clothing to China, after the earthquake. And we have many projects waiting for us in Gerymany to get into action. You can guess that we can't hardly wait to get to our desks in Frankfurt so we can get to work. We leave Friday morning. We love you all and pray for you each day. Please know that we love you dearly.

Joe and Dee

Launching the Durrance Blog

I have decided to launch this blog for my parents to keep everyone informed on what my parents are up to while on their mission. I hope to keep it up and post any emails and pictures they send. So, thanks so much for visiting and wish them the best while they are doing such great service for others.

Jayna Smith