Monday, November 17, 2008

A New Post

It is officially known the world over that I must be a terrible mother for falling so far behind in my blogging. I wanted to update however because Craig has been moved to the city of Thessaloniki and has been made zone leader which is quite an honor and a testament to his work and strength as a missionary. He has a new address which I have posted . He also occasionally has some trouble with his mission e-mail so I have posted his hotmail address instead.

I really have a very difficult time putting into words the true peace and just overwhelming blessings that have come to David, Dan, Renee, and me as a result of Craig's mission. Maybe that is why I haven't blogged much, I just could not do his work justice with words. Craig is a truly an amazing young man, a blessing to us, but an even greater blessing to the people of Greece with which he has had an opportunity to share the gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His commitment to his faith and his commitment to Our Heavenly Father are immeasurable. He has experienced many wonderful things in the past months, he has had the opportunity to perform a baptism and be a part of other baptisms, he has been blessed by his many hours of service work, and most importantly he has had the opportunity to share his faith and the gospel of our Lord with those he meets, if for ten minutes on the train, or weeks of visits to someones home. I am so incredibly proud to be his mother, what a blessing God gave me when he gave me the responsibility of raising this child. I miss him so much, but would not have it any other way.

I would like to share parts of a letter from President Galanos:

Dear Parents,
I am pleased to report to you about the transfer that took place in the mission and which was effected several weeks ago.
Elder Meister has joined Elder Rice as a zone leader in the Lefkos Pyrgos Area, in Thessaloniki, Greece. Elder Rice is a great young man from California who has matured marvellously ever since arriving on his mission. He has a great sense of leadership and can be absolutely relied upon to do the right thing. His grasp of the Greek language is excellent and his teaching skills are maturing well. Elder Meister is from Indiana and a great example for any missionary to follow. He has a steady, calming but humorous nature which will stand him well in the months to come, and is progressing extremely well with his grasp of the language – it’s actually significantly above average. You need to know I value these young men greatly and their contribution to the work is outstanding. The report I have from the Assistants is they are two of the hardest working Elders we have and not prone to succumbing to disappointment even when times are tough. They are a credit to their parents and strive to represent the Saviour Jesus Christ to the best of their ability. Both are relatively recent converts to the church but I have little doubt they were prepared long before coming to this earth. These are the leaders of tomorrow in the church, in their communities, and in their chosen fields of endeavour. You have every reason to be proud of them.
Overall the mission is progressing well with all missionaries growing daily in testimony and personal development. You need to know that it is certainly not Brazil or Mexico. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is still the same as is the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Our primary objective here is to establish the church which means allowing the Lord to either lead the elect to the missionaries or the missionaries to the elect, and then strengthening them to build a strong foundation for the church.
The missionaries and members labour daily in circumstances quite different to most places in the world. The culture is markedly different to anything the missionaries are familiar with......But herein we see the beauty of the gospel which reaches out and touches the hearts of men and women searching for truth regardless of circumstances.
The young men and women who comprise this marvellous army of the Lord are outstanding. I have no qualms in saying we receive the best of the best; they love learning this challenging language to the point of just enjoying speaking it. They strive hard to build their testimonies and to learn and practice the lessons from Preach My Gospel. We all strive to be PMG missionaries in a PMG Mission. They will return to you a mature men having overcome much in their lives. Like the Brother of Jared they will have exercised much faith and many will have seen miracles happen. They understand there are no “ranks” in the mission and all serve as they are called – some to help a challenged missionary; some as leaders; some as great soldiers; but all because they have a testimony.
Is all perfect? Do they feel great every day? Of course not! But I testify to you that day by day, as they stumble, they struggle to rise and continue; if they need to repent, they do and move forward. My wife and I have a great love for your sons and daughters and are doing our very best 24/7 to help them allow the Saviour to mould their character. I tell them two things continually: (1) the character they have the day they step off their mission is the character they will have the balance of their lives. They may grow in wisdom, knowledge, and even testimony, but their foundational character will probably be set, and if they do the best they can, it will have similarities to that of the Saviour – therefore, what character do they want to have; it rests partly with them; and (2) How do you eat an elephant? You cut him up into very small pieces and then eat one small piece at a time, chewing consistently and carefully swallowing each piece before trying another.
Thank you for your sons.
Kind regards,
John Galanos, PresidentGreece Athens Mission

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and questions about Craig, they mean so much to us.

Love to all,
Craig's Family

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Death of President Hinckley

We were very saddened this morning when we learned of the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley on Sunday. We share our sorrow with all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the passing of this truly amazing man. If any of you ever had the opportunity to read any of his works or hear him speak, you know what an inspirational man he was and I feel blessed to have been touched by his words and message many times. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the church members, and church leaders. The world has truly lost a great leader and a wonderful man.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I have many exciting updates about Craig and his wonderful (and some not so wonderful) experiences in the mission field.

First and foremost was our wonderful Christmas day phone call. Well actually we received a nice surprise on Christmas eve morning at 4AM our time, the phone rang and out of a deep sleep all I could read on the caller ID was "out of area". How pleasantly surprised I was to hear Craig on the other end of the phone. It was out "test" phone call to assure that we had his number for the next day and to be sure that we could call him. We did a call back to him to be sure things worked from our end, and even though the call only lasted a few minutes, it was so wonderful to hear his voice. Our plan was to call him around 9AM our time on Christmas morning and about 5 minutes till 9 the phone rang. Renee answered and she was so excited that it was Craig. He had an international calling card and was calling from the church instead of on his cell phone. I am sure the connection was quite a bit better, and there was not quite the delay that there had been on the cell phone. We had grandparents and other extended family that dropped in during the phone and said "hi" to him. Needless to say, it was the best Christmas present we received. Just hearing his voice, it was just the best!!

As you know, he is now serving in Athens, in the Halandri area of the city. Since arriving they have had good days and not such good days in their proselytising. The week before last they felt that they had several interested people that they had made follow up appointments with, but when they returned for their appointments later in the week, they were either told to leave or the people were not there to keep the appointment. I felt so badly for him. I could hear the disappointment in his words when he wrote of those situations and the "really long days" when that happens. However, prayer and perseverance resulted in meeting and teaching a young doctor and his family, as well as meeting another family who are also interested in learning more. Here is what he wrote: "It just goes to show how the Lord makes you learn the bitter to see how good the sweet tastes. Just after a whole week of rejection it feels so good to sit down with someone who wants to listen and because of that you can see this little light in them come on when you tell them how they have a relationship with God to have more happiness for them in their family. So this week turned out to be absolutely great." That last sentence made my heart feel so much better!

Some other exciting, but not so great things have also happened in recent weeks. First, he was bitten by a dog. Now the funny part of this is that he told his dad and his brother in his e-mails to them, but told them not to tell me. David let me in on the news of course, because I generally end up reading his e-mail anyway. Blessing in this is that the dog was a pet, so no risk of disease, and Craig had received an updated tetanus shot before leaving on his mission, and dog bites rarely get infected, so I felt pretty confident that everything would be fine. He apologized in last week's letter for not telling me but he said that he wanted to be sure everything was fine before he let me know or worried me. Second, they also had an earthquake in Greece. It happened two weeks ago. It measured a 6.5, however there was minimal damage and no injuries to anyone. He said he had been reading his scriptures and he got up to go get something for breakfast and he couldn't figure out briefly why the floor felt funny as he walked. I keep wondering, we are only 5 months in, what stories he will have to tell after 2 years in the mission field.

Finally, I wanted to update all of you on the Lenten Scripture Book that I am putting together for Craig. For those of you who may not know, I am putting together a book of "favorite scriptures" to send to Craig to read during the Lenten season. One "favorite" for each day from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. I appealed to the many people who are so supportive and special in Craig's life to send me their favorites to be included in the book. I have had a wonderful time typing them and printing the pages for the book. I was going to have the book bound, but I found a smaller sized canvas covered scrap book that I am placing the pages in once they are finished. It has turned out better than I could have imagined. I believe he is going to love and treasure this collection of scriptures. Thank you so much to all who participated in this project and made it so special.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We are so proud of our Elder Meister and the awesome work he does in the mission field. He is truly an inspiration to all of us to be the best we can be each and every day!

Love from here,
Craig's Mom

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Letter from President Galanos

We were very excited today to receive an e-mail from the Greece Athens Mission President, President Galanos. He was so kind, and said that Craig is proving to be an excellent missionary. He feels that he is learning the language quickly and he has developed a "great confidence in speaking with people", which I am sure surprises none of those that know Craig well. He also said the following: "Fortunately, your son is a dedicated young man who desires to allow the lord to mould his character well. Have little concern on that score. He is rapidly becoming one of our finest missionaries". We were humbled by his kind words and it is again, a reassurance that Craig is where he should be at this time in his life, and giving it 110%.

President Galanos also included the two pictures I have posted here. It is always great to see pictures of Craig and how truly happy he looks in all of them. I am anxiously awaiting our phone call on Christmas so I can hear the excitement in his voice too. It will be the best Christmas present ever!

Have a blessed Christmas and love to all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Craig was Transferred

We heard from Craig this morning and found he has been transferred to Athens. He spent most of Monday on an 8 hour train ride to Athens, "crazy day" in his words. His new address is the mission address posted on this page and he will get mail once a week delivered from the mission home. He is excited that his new companion is Danish and speaks German. He has only been out two months longer than Craig so both are still struggling somewhat with the Greek language, but I know that the Lord will intervene and guide them and those they teach. He sounds very excited to be there and excited to get started in his new area. I of course am fretting because he did not receive his birthday or Christmas packages from home yet, and likely won't until after the first of the year. He naturally is not worried at all about them and will be excited to get them whenever they arrive.

We are very excited to get to speak with him on Christmas day. He will be calling around 9Am our time. Anyone who would like to share the morning with us and talk to Craig is welcome to come to the house around 8:45. I will have some breakfast foods and we can enjoy the morning talking with Craig. We would LOVE to have you and I know Craig would love to talk to you all as well, so please plan to come if even for a little bit!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Poem

It was a little difficult today as we did not receive an e-mail from Craig, the first time we have not received one since he arrived in Greece. I know in my heart that he is fine, but it just feels "weird" not to hear from him. I did receive this poem from one of the moms in my e-mail group. Comforts my heart for sure!

This Year for Christmas

I skipped the sales after Thanksgiving.
The thrill just wasn't there.
No pictures taken with Santa Clause,
my decorating has no flair.
His presents are shoes, shirts, and ties, two suits and fun.
I've bought him all white clothes because...
This year I'm giving Christ my son.

I've spent more time in the temple,
Felt strength come from His words.
I've reread November's Ensign,
and my testimony stirred.
Our family prays more frequently
My tears are quick to run.
Abraham seems closer because,
This year I'm giving Christ my son.

I wonder how those Lamanite mothers,
gave their sons to war?
Or how the pioneers chose Zion ,
their sacrifice was so much more.
My loss will be his presence,
I'll miss his smile a ton
For two years we will pray for him,
I'm giving Christ my son.

I stare at his face when he's not looking.
I memorize his eyes, their shine.
He's always hungered for the part of him, that makes his soul divine.
The stories and lessons he always heard, His choice and mine are one.
I'll put my faith in God's hand,
This year, I'm giving Him my son.

Past gifts have lost their glitter,
I think I finally understand
Christ's birth should be celebrated
by giving Him a hand.
It's because I know Christ lives and reigns that all his packing's done.
My gift has taken years to make,
This year... I'm giving Christ my son

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finally Another Post

City of Kavala Greece where Craig is currently serving.

Craig and his companion Elder Merrell

I know....what kind of mother am I?!?!? I really have no plausible explanation for not creating a post on this blog for nearly 8 weeks other than I have no explanation!! I have had good intentions, but every time I sat down to create a post (and I have a tried a time or two) I just could not do it. Sometimes too difficult, sometimes too much to say, other times I just did not know what I wanted to share with others and what I wanted to keep to myself! That said, as mothers I am sure you understand exactly what that means, you've all been there before, wanting to share with others, but you just can't make the words come out. What I can share at this time is my thanks to each of you for remaining loyal to this site, checking despite knowing there would be nothing here, and for your endless support through kind words, gestures, and most importantly prayers for Craig as he begins this marvelous journey! You are all THE BEST!!

Gosh, now where do I begin?!?! Craig is serving in a city in Greece called Kavala. Kavala is a city in Northern Greece with a population of about 63,000. It sits on the Bay of Kavala across from the island of Thasos. In biblical history the Apostle Paul landed in Kavala on his first voyage to Europe. The pictures I have seen are just beautiful. As it sits along the sea, the terrain is abounding with hills which means lots of walking, lots of difficult walking. He doesn't mind though, great exercise he says! Kavala is a relatively new area for the missionaries to serve (it opened to missionaries about 5 months ago) so they have certainly faced their share of adversity. I am in awe of how well these young men handle the criticisms and of angry attempts to drive them away. They just explain to those who ask for an explanation or walk away from those who shout angry or hateful words and continue with the work at hand. They truly act in such a Christ-like manner. I am not sure many of us could deal with some of the situations these young missionaries face in such a calm, and kind manner. Craig has already been arrested once (this by the way is not uncommon), however he and his companion were released once it was determined they had not broken any laws. They have met MANY wonderful people, some who are interested in learning more about the church and the gospel, some who are just interested in being kind to these young men, but these positive experiences far outweigh the bad and as Craig says "makes it all worth it".

Craig is thriving in the mission field and so are we here at home. The blessing Craig receives from his service are abundant. The blessings we have received as the family of a missionary are amazing. Our faith as a family grows each and every day. Craig's faith shines each and every day. The Spirit comforts us when we feel sad or miss him terribly as we know the Spirit comforts Craig when he feels homesick or discouraged. We feel so blessed and so proud. Craig is an awesome young man and we are so honored to share him with the world as he spreads the good news of our Savior Jesus Christ.