Cutting the Ties

Some of Susan's Ties

As Elder ‘T’ stood to give his farewell talk just before entering the MTC, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he brought with him his own personal cheer squad. Sitting in the congregation were four of his friends, all sporting the same colour tie as him. These were just five of the 13 ties that Elder ‘T’s’ mum had made he and his friends while he was studying at BYU-I.

But this was not just a quirky display of solidarity for a newly called missionary.  For Susan Bever, it was the only way she could think to support her missionary son as he dedicated the next two years of his life to the Lord.

After losing her job, and with no means of a steady income, Susan determined to find a creative way to help support him. When discussing her situation with her sister one day, and knowing that her son was about to submit his mission papers, it was suggested that she give tie-making a go.

Having been a seamstress for much of her life, Susan felt confident that this could be the opportunity she was looking for. She declared, “I couldn’t make a financial commitment, because I didn’t have the income to make it… the purchase of a piece of fabric was about all I could do.”

Elder ‘T’, sporting a new tie, and ready to serve…

The term cutting the ties took on new meaning for Susan as she bid her son farewell. Since August 2010, when her son entered the Provo MTC, she has cut, sewn, and sent him at least 3 ties per month; and estimates that by the end of his mission he will have received close to 200 ties.

Not all of them end up around his neck tho’. Elder ‘T’ generously shares some with fellow missionaries, and many of his investigators. When this happens, Susan simply gets back to cutting and sewing some more.

But this is not the extent of her commitment. Susan is determined to share her tie-making talents both at home, and across the globe. She makes ties for many of the missionaries serving around the world from her own ward, as well as sharing them with missionaries serving near to where she lives. It is her way of showing support for not only her missionary son, but for dozens of other ‘s as they spread the gospel.

Recently, through the LDS Missionary Mom’s Email group, Susan offered to trace, cut out, and mail several tie patterns for any of the missionary mum’s who might like to sew a tie for their serving missionary. Each pattern was traced by hand, tailored to measure the individual missionary, and mailed at her own expense (in my case, sent half way around the world to New Zealand).

Since making those first few ties for her son and his friends, she, and her sister Lois, have started up an online tie making business.  “All Tyed Up” gives you an idea of  the extent of her tie-making skills. Susan also suggests that if the tie you are looking for is not there, then it is only a phone-call or email away.

Elder ‘T’ shares one of his favourite tie’s – 8 inches wide!

If you are interested in purchasing a tie from All Tyed Up, then pop on over to Susan’s website and scroll through the huge range she has displayed there. Orders cannot be made through the website, but if you email Susan with your order or questions, she can make arrangements from there.

Some interesting facts about ties:

  1. Not all men are the same size and therefore can’t wear the same size tie – you have to make adjustments for both taller and shorter men. Susan has made a tie small enough for a child – a tiny 42” long, as well as a tie for a 7’7’’ tall man – a huge 78”.
  2. Ties can come in different widths, according to your preference.  Susan makes ties to order, anything from 1 ½ “ wide through to 4 ½” wide.
  3. Ties can be made with many types of fabrics including cotton, cotton-polyester blends, silk, satin, satin brocades, ultra suede, and denim – just about any material can be used.
  4. The only type of tie she would encourage missionaries not to wear are character ties – Spiderman, Pokemon, Little Mermaid etc. But as for which colours not to wear, according to her missionary son, “If she makes it, I will wear it”.
Thank you Susan for allowing me to share your inspiring story. We wish you and your son all the best as he prepares to return home in August.

There is an assortment of ways that we can be missionaries or, at least, support the missionary effort. We are all blessed with different talents and abilities, and it is up to us to find those talents and use them in the unique way that only we can.  Susan found her unique way.

I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience with something that you are passionate about? Please share with us here what your passion is, and how you see it as an opportunity to support the missionary effort.

Pancakes at the Maurer’s

Banana and Walnut Pancakes

While I wouldn’t suggest that this recipe comprises a balanced meal, it is certainly a quick and easy meal option for anyone who finds themselves in need of some solid food at the end of a hard day. It is a must have for any missionaries recipe book.

For an explanation on the significance of this recipe see below.

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Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup milk
4 teaspoons butter or 2 tablespoons cream
2 cups S.R. flour (or 2 cups plain flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder)
Salt
6 tablespoons sugar

Method:

Place egg, sugar and half of the milk in a bowl and whisk well with beater.

Sift flour and salt and gradually add to mixture – adding the milk at the same time, until batter is the consistency of thick cream. Add melted butter or cream.

Beat until smooth then pour from a spoon onto a preheated griddle iron or frypan.

When surface is bubbly turn with a spatula and cook on the other side.

Mixture will make about 10-15 medium/large thick pancakes.

Serve with your favourite topping.

Topping Suggestions:

  1. Banana, walnuts, maple syrup, and whipped cream
  2. Sliced strawberries, maple syrup and whipped cream
  3. Mixed berries, ice cream, and icing sugar sprinkled over the top.
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As with any good recipe, there is always a good story behind it, so here it is.

Before our family moved here to Auckland in 2010, my husband and I had the best callings any couple could ever have. There’s two reasons why it was the best calling for me. Firstly, we were blessed to work together as a couple (not many callings in the church where you get to do that). Secondly, we worked with some of the most amazing Young Single Adults in the Sydney area.

As the Multi-Stake YSA Leaders, my husband and I were privileged to work beside many of these young people to establish a program that was both fun and spiritually based. We saw within them the leaders of tomorrow and, in many cases were left to sit back and watch their leadership skills in action.

Also, having three YSA age daughters at the time, there was actually a third advantage to this calling. We would never admit it to them, but it accorded us an opportunity to meet most of the eligible single LDS men in the area and determine some of our ‘favourites’. But, let me tell you now, there is no advantage, of any kind, in attempting to arrange a marriage in this day and age. It just doesn’t work…you can take my word on that! 😉

Ok, so I have diverted from the purpose of this post. To continue this little narrative…

During this time of service we would, on occasion, open our home to any number of YSA on a Sunday night for what we termed ‘Pancakes at the Maurer’s’. Ask any YSA from any one of the 10 Sydney Stakes (at times that included interstate and international YSA) and you will probably get an affirmative nod that they have attended at least one, if not several, of these events.

In our opinion, the pancakes were just an excuse to get these fine young men and women together for a social event. But I have to say that we probably served up more pancakes over a two year period than most restaurants would in that time.

So today we pass this recipe on to you; that very same recipe that we used to feed up to 100 young men and women in any one night (of course the quantities are different, but the recipe is the same).

I hope you get as much enjoyment from this recipe as we have over the years.

Printable Recipes:


Download PDF File with colour image – Pancakes with photo


Download PDF File without colour image – Pancakes without photo


**If you have any recipes you would be willing to share here please let me know by emailing me at macytraine1@hotmail.com 

You’ve Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray!

Happy Birthday

(Image from Wikipedia.com)

Have you noticed that as your children get older, it gets harder and harder to pick the right gift for them on their birthday? I don’t know about you, but I find myself falling into the same old habit of handing over an envelope of money on their big day and saying, “Go buy what you want”.

What a cop-out!

Well, when my daughter had a birthday while on her mission, the problem was even worse. She doesn’t have time to go out and shop for what she wants. She probably doesn’t even want to think about that kind of thing.

It is all so important for missionaries to maintain their focus on the work, so the difficulty of what to give them becomes that much more difficult.

After much thought and consideration, particularly when considering cost of postage, I decided on sending her a party in a box. This party consisted of a tiara (with instructions to her companion that my daughter had to wear it for the whole time they were in their apartment that day), balloons, a banner, and party poppers. I also included a flash drive, a CD of church music, some earrings, lip balm, as well as a packet of Australian chocolate for her companion as a thankyou gift for throwing the party in her honour.

Result? A hit!

But everyone is different and recently, through the LDS missionary mums email group I belong to, several mums discussed this topic. There were some fantastic suggestions.

Would you be surprised to know that candy, treats and other food items were way down on the list of things most missionaries wanted for their birthday?

Other thoughts on the matter raised issues about luggage space, an items usefulness, cost of mailing larger items, quarantine regulations in certain countries, and helping to maintain their missionaries focus on the work.

So here is a list of some of those suggestions:

General Items:

  1. Fill a box with balloons (not inflated) and place thoughtful notes, pictures, quotes, and letters from family and friends inside.
  2. A huge birthday card with messages from the family and a current photo.
  3. A T-shirt with a family inspired transfer on the front that includes the mission they are serving in and the dates they served.
  4. 2nd hand gospel books. Send a list of them to your missionary and ask them to pick one or two. Amazon.com also offers second hand books that they will deliver directly.
  5. An empty quote book that they can add to as they progress in their mission. You can also send them quotes to include.
  6. Teaching aids and games that they can use to assist in their teaching. Check out lesson manuals on www.lds.org, and other LDS Primary websites (www.sugardoodle.com) for ideas.
  7. Latest conference edition of the Ensign.
  8. Small 5×7 images from Deseret Book Store that can be displayed on their walls, and are small enough to transport around.
  9. Toothbrush, their favourite floss and toothpaste.
  10.  Some fun, small, cheap souvenirs from their home country that they can share with investigators, children etc.
  11. Appropriate music CDs (if allowed in the mission).
  12. USB memory stick if they have a camera
  13. Stationary

For Elders:

  1. Ties – sometimes elders feel that they have little chance to express themselves through their clothes, so a variety of ties helps to add colour to their day.
  2. Tie pins – if your missionary is serving in a foreign country then it is fun for them to have pins that represent the country they come from.
  3. Fresh white shirt.
  4. Socks, spare p-day shirt

For Sisters:

  1. Scarves
  2. Earrings
  3. Lip gloss or lip balm
  4. Pantyhose, socks, and T-shirts for P-day.

Food:

  1. Their favourite snack item – pop tarts, candy, and beef jerky etc
  2. Birthday box – cake mix, frosting, candles, party hats, balloons etc. **Beware that some countries have quarantine restrictions on certain foods, such as flour, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Always check with the countries quarantine laws first.
  3. Homemade cookies without butter (can go rancid if it contains butter and has to go a long distance).

The list is endless.

What have you sent your missionary in the past?

I am sure that there are many more ideas out there, and I am sure there are many missionary mums who would love to have some more suggestions.

Mormons in the Spotlight

As most of you would agree, it’s not every day you can link into a global online newspaper and find a major story about a day in the life of an LDS missionary. Let’s face it; it’s hard enough for our boys and girls to get people to open doors to share their gospel message, let alone to have these same people bring this kind of story to their breakfast table.

But this week that’s exactly what I did. This week the New York Times, in their Education section, ran a 5-page spread titled At Age 19, From Utah to Uganda’, that follows two LDS missionaries serving in Uganda.

Now, some of you may feel the hackles rise a bit at the mention of our missionaries and Uganda in the same sentence; bringing back memories of the recent satirical Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon”, depicting the follies of two Mormon missionaries in the wilds of that country. But before you discredit this article as riding on the back of this non-LDS production, I suggest it would be well worth reading.

I found the article to be very well balanced in its depiction of our missionaries. Indeed, it follows in some depth their preparation to serve, their training in the MTC, their incredible commitment to the work and maintains faith in their spiritual maturity.

At the same time it shows the human side of our boys in regards to their life before their missions, their struggles with separation from family and friends during, and the temptations that surround them whilst serving.

This article is most certainly timely when considering the current bid by Mitt Romney for the US Republican Presidential nomination. Romney’s rise to prominence has brought the church out of obscurity. As Josh Kron states, “Mormonism is basking in the mainstream spotlight” at the moment.

Up until now Mitt Romney has been low key about his Mormon roots, but with reports emerging that he is on the brink of being nominated,  and with some prominent evangelicals now supporting him, that will probably change.

So, whether it’s riding on the back of a popular musical, or even adding depth to current political events, this New York Times article has certainly given its many readers the opportunity to reflect on Mormon religious practices over their morning coffee. It may even help to open a few more doors to our hard working sons and daughters.

In this light it may be time for us to start talking about these same things with those of our friends and acquaintances who are not of our faith. Like Romney, maybe it’s time to step into that spotlight.

A New Week

Hope you all had a great weekend.

I have been away for a few days with my Young Women at camp. I had the most amazing time, and hope to share with you some of the very special things we experienced there. I suffered from lack of sleep, but I feel very blessed to be working amongst some of the most incredible girls.

I will say no more, and keep you wondering what we got up to for a little bit longer.

I am excited about this new week. I’ll be bringing to the blog my first guest writer. She is someone very special to me. For those who have served a mission you will understand me when I say she was my mission mum. For those who have not served a mission, then this article will help you to understand, a little bit more, the bond that is created between a trainer and their new companion.

So, in the next couple of days I will be sharing her story…make sure you hang around for it.

Also, as part of my university studies, I have been asked to write an article on a current newsworthy topic that relates to the theme of my blog. This could be a real challenge for me as the world isn’t that interested in Mormon missionary’s. But I think I have an interesting angle and am eager to get started. I’m hoping you can help me out a bit.

When I post I want you to give me some feedback so I can make sure it makes sense and it is interesting enough before it gets graded. I will let you know when it is about to go up.

In memory of my life…a vision of the future

Not long ago I went on an overnight sailing trip with several of the Young Women in my ward. We moored overnight in a small cove within one of the many beautiful islands surrounding Auckland Harbour.

In the morning we decided to explore the tiny island that had been our shelter for the night. As we climbed to the highest point we noticed a single row of white headstones. Their etched inscriptions facing toward their destinination, but not quite making it. Each of them told a story of tragic circumstance, of lives cut short, and reminded us of our brief mortal presence here on earth.

As we gathered around to enjoy the view I asked each of the girls to tell me about the vision they had for their future. Tho’ there were many of them who had not yet formulated a full vision of where they wanted to be in the next 10 years, it was a reminder to me of how important it is for each of us to understand the plan that the Lord has for us.

Elder O. Vincent Haleck, in the 2012 Sunday afternoon session of General Conference suggested that, “If we are to prosper rather than perish, we must gain a vision of ourselves as the Savior sees us”.

I remember contemplating this very thing over 30 years ago when a tiny seed of an idea was formulating in my mind. I was 20 yrs. old, had just arrived back in Australia after spending almost a year in the UK with my parents, and wondered where my life was to take me from  that point. I had the world at my feet as a 20 yr. old, but I just couldn’t get a grip on what I needed to do.

I had never contemplated the idea that I could, or would, serve a mission. Indeed, as a child the idea never entered my mind, and certainly as a teenager it was the last thing I would have addressed. But at 20, it began as a tiny seed of enquiry.

This was the first time I considered the scripture that Elder Haleck read out recently in conference, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 21:18). It was also the first time in my life I considered my future with the realisation that I could actually really mess things up if I didn’t have some kind of vision of what the Lord wanted me to do with it.

My journey of enquiry took me to many places that year. In my mind and heart I considered  many options, and in the end I turned to my patriarchal blessing for some answers. I began to create a vision in my mind as to what my purpose was, and what the Lord would have me do.

Tho’ I couldn’t predict my future, there were certain truths that I couldn’t deny.

  1. This life is so short, and we don’t have time to indulge ourselves in selfish pursuits.
  2. The choices we make now will have a lasting effect, not only on us, but upon the lives of others.
  3. The Lord knows us even better than we know ourselves.
  4. To act on vision we must apply faith.

This journey of self discovery took me to places that allowed me to glimpse the possibilities. It was that year that I truly understood the wisdom of Solomon, “Where there is no vision the people perish”. I discovered that I could obtain a vision of my future, and that vision would allow me to prosper.

But, even more importantly, that vision allowed me to prepare for the day when I could fulfill things I thought I could never do. Through missionary service I was able to sew the seed of faith and vision in the lives of many individuals and families. Through my life as a mother, I am far better prepared to sew the seeds of faith and vision in the lives of my children.

Unlike those tiny headstones that were perched on the top of that island – in sight of the city of their destination, but cut short by tragedy – I prepared myself for the journey of life. In choosing to serve a mission I know that I was fulfilling a purpose that the Lord had set out for me. From that point on it didn’t matter how long or short my life would be on this earth, my path was set and it would lead me in the direction that the Lord wanted me to take.

I know that I will arrive at my destination no matter what this mortal existence involves, as long as I maintain that vision and exercise faith.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip…

The suitcase of Faith

Our missionary outside the MTC with her suitcase of Faith

It was almost 12 months ago that our family crammed into the family car and drove out to the airport to bid farewell to our daughter, the newest missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Preparing for that day involved, not only concerted spiritual readiness, but also foresight into what clothing needs she would have. Gone are the days when missionaries were expected to embark with, “…no purse, nor scrip, nor shoes…”(Luke 10:4)

For us, that preparation took on quite a unique nature.

While our missionary daughter was already well prepared with much of her personal clothing needs, coming from the fairly temperate climate of the pacific, she was not ready for the possible sub-zero weather conditions of mid-western USA.

As all mothers do, I panicked. My daughter was going to die from hypothermia on some quiet Utah street. Four months out from her departure, and from our humble abode in Sydney, Australia, I could not imagine how we were ever going to kit her out with enough warm clothes to avoid this outcome.

Typically, my daughter seemed to think that she could survive on what she had…

This was probably the first time I had to contemplate the principle of ‘faith’ as the mother of a missionary. But, desperate times require desperate measures…well that’s how I saw it anyway.

Coincidentally, my husband and I were heading out on a trip to General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah just three weeks before she departed. So a plan was hatched…

With shopping list in hand, my spare time while over there was spent ticking off each item. With the help of my husband, and lots of size guessing, I managed to fill one middle size suitcase with winter-ready clothes. Part one of my plan was complete.

Part two required that faith I was fast acquiring…I left the suitcase there. That’s right, I didn’t take it home with me.

My daughter had a total of one day, upon arrival in Utah, to try the clothes on and make any exchanges or adjustments needed. How’s that for an exercise in faith? I say, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

I am pleased to report that I not only managed to please her with my design choices, she actually survived the freeze of her first winter in America.

I am sure many of you were faced with similar decisions when helping your missionary prepare for their adventure. I would love to hear your story here.

What you can expect…

It seems that every month or so I will get an email from my daughter that reflects some kind of discouragement she is experiencing. Whether it is with those she has been teaching, a lack of teaching opportunities, or just discouragement about her personal progression, there is always an opportunity for us to give her some added encouragement.

This is one of the reasons I started this blog. I am sure there are plenty of mums out there who have had similar feelings, or similar questions.

So the other day I sat down and started jotting down some ideas. Just some ideas of things I can talk about on Missionary Mum’s Meeting Place (MMM). Before I knew it I was up to about 50.

So here are a few from what I have come up with so far…just to wet your appetite.

  1. You call that an email? Ways to get your missionary to write better…
  2. Mum, I think I landed on another planet! Handling culture shock
  3. When your mission is cut short. Perspectives from a mother.
  4. Why is it that father always knows best? The importance of a father’s counsel.
  5. When marriage takes precedence. This one’s for the girls…
  6. Carry neither purse nor scrip. The lengths we go to, to dress our missionary.
  7. The Romney Affect. A quick call out for how Mitt Romney has affected missionary work.
  8. 10 things I love about missionaries. From my precious YW

But, what is motivating me the most is that I get to have lots of guest writers. I certainly don’t have all the answers or all the experience, so I am going to mix it up a bit and invite lots of friends and fellow bloggers to contribute their perspectives.

I am really excited to start. So I will sign off now and get writing…