Sunday, January 29, 2017


Mom's Commentary:

 Joseph got  a new companion. 

Joseph's email:

Elder Brown is From Queen Creek Arizona, a Small town in the Phoenix valley. He has been on his mission for 3 months, his first area was in Mombasa, and so far seems to be liking it a lot!

He is the 2nd oldest of 5 kids and has been a member all of his life.He says that both sides of his family have pretty much been members since the Pioneers. He Enjoys weight lifting, especially with his brother, and played football in high School. 

He Cleaned Bounce houses during the summers to pay for his mission and is striving to be the best he can. (He also has learned Swahili better then I have.

I like him a lot and hope together we will be able to Move the Work forward here in Kyambeke.

Well Dec 19th is Clearly the Superior Day to have Birthdays :P

Evalee, interesting name, is she named after anyone? (side question what is Shauna's new last name? I forgot)
Also its cool that Isiah got on to the Fire department, that will be good for him I think.

I will Try ("NO! Try Not, Do or Do not. There Is no Try." -Yoda) to remember the Importance of my calling and do my best to bring the power of the priesthood into the homes that we visit.

Elder Brown is a Great guy and we were able to do a lot of good things this week. Most notable was we have finally been able to set up times for us to have all of our meetings with the Branch leaders. In Ilima they haven't had PEC or Ward Council in a LONG time, but we meet with some of the leaders and they were very humble and willing to listen to our Suggestions on the subject so they are going to start having them this next month, the first one is Scheduled for the 5th of Feb

We also have been working with the Primary president to find the homes of several children that come to Church but haven't been baptized yet, there are 5 of them and we think we know where they all live now although we have only met with one of them. We are shooting to have them all Baptized on the 19th of feb. so wish us luck!

I Love you Guys :)

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Mom's comments:

Joseph has hit his 6 months; that's a quarter of his mission. WOW. I knew that December would be hard for Joseph.  It's his birthday and we celebrate Christmas all month long with so many traditions.  So I guess if he is homesick then it means that we did something right here that he misses and hopefully he will learn from that and carry that as a foundation into his future life.  There were so many pictures I wanted to send him and so many things that I wanted to share with him because I was missing him soooo much and Russ kept reminding me that I shouldn't because it would make him more homesick. I'm glad that December is over and there are transfers this week and I'm hoping he gets a change.  Its time to move on.  Here are the pics that I ended up sending him.

Nutcrackers in the Leavenworth WA Nutcracker Museum

Nutcrackers of Brigham Young and Mormon Missionary

Nutcracker Joseph Smith

Called to Serve Mormon Missionary nutcrackers

Kenyan Nativity Joseph had given to me for Christmas

Joseph's comments:

WOW  that's  Awesome. 
Glad you like it!

(On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 6:37 AM, LAURA BUTTERS <> wrote:
RE:  Kenyan Nativity
 I love it!! Thanks so much!)

(On Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 2:17 AM, LAURA BUTTERS <> wrote:
Its either below zero with a dangerous wind chill or its snowing..again....and again.
December was a good month but it was hard.  It's always hard since it was Rachel's favorite time and with you gone it was a double whammy for me.  I had to create new traditions and stay busy and on my game.  I think I did pretty well... Now its on to the new year.  I wonder what it will hold in store for us.  I think there is something right around the corner.  My health is better and I'm a little  more optimistic then I have been.  Well,your dad just popped a bag and I thought I'd been shot so now my life span I'm sure has been shortened again. 
 No new news, I guess no news is good news. ) 

"Your mission is your MTC for the rest of your life.  Don't waste it."

Haha! I like that Quote. I always call the Mission "Marriage Preparation Class 101"

Anyway, we had kinda a ruff week... SOOO many appointments fell through. I felt like I walked a thousand miles and didn't go anywhere. Otherwise I think I'm doing ok, although I have been feeling really Lonely your letters are helping alot though. I have also been rereading all of the General Conference talks form October which has been helping alot. the Talk from President Utchdorf about the Plan of Happiness has really stood out to me. I also really like the talks about the Book of Mormon (all 3 of them!)

I like the Nutcracker pics haha

Well its transfers next week so we will see what happens.

I love you Guys! I miss you!

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Mom's commentary:

My emails followed by Joseph's

On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 6:52 AM, LAURA BUTTERS <> wrote:
Sister Lymans email got hacked and messed up so she just snail mailed your Christmas letter us a couple of days ago.  Yes, we do miss you ALOT!. I think that is why your dad puts so much into your letters through out each week.  And me, I delved into the stake choir music and then our Christmas stuff here.  Now I have no idea what I will do.  When the tears draw near I just remember what  wonderful opportunity this is for you and how proud I am of you.  I tell everyone about you and your mission.  I don't care if they are members or not or even if I know them.   I see a lot of nurses and technicians you know.  They all know about you.  You have become famous in Spokane. A living legend.  You said that Kenyans just don't know how to celebrate Christmas...but I disagree. All that is important for them is spending it with family.  After all, isn't that what should be most important for all of us while we celebrate our Savior's birth.  :)

Joseph's response:

I never Said Kenyans dont know how to Celebrate Christmas, its just I am not in their family so when they are spending time with the family it sucked for me....

Happy New Year!

I have had a pretty good week! (although we didn't do much) we went to Nairobi for a Christmas Activity last Monday (I forgot to write about it last week, or rather ran out of time haha) which was fun because we got to meet a lot of new missionaries, although the distribution center was closed so I still haven't bought anything for Christmas. Oh well.

hmmm... I'm trying to think of more to say...

Anyway happy new year!

Say Hi to Cam and Acea for me, 

I found some Popcorn!
I made Popcorn for the first time since I have been here! it was delicious :)

It's Christmas!!!


Mom's Commentary:

Joseph got to call us for Christmas.  Kenya is 11 hours ahead so it was evening for him and morning for us.  after church he had dinner at his branch presidents home..  They had slaughtered a goat and made chapati.  Joseph said it was good. Kenyans all go home, to their roots home for Christmas.  They spend it as a  family and slaughtering a goat and having chapati is very traditional in Kenya.  Joseph's are is so poor that they have to save in order to buy the oil for the chapati. He said that he missed us and the snow.  He also shared that he didn't want to come home now but if something happened forcing him to, that he has already gotten so much out of his mission that it would change him for the rest of his life.  
I have to agree.  We definitely have been aware of so much growth in him.  
Joseph sent presents to us via Bonnie Lyman who was in his mission in Kenya and came home the first part of December.  We waited to open them.  Russ got a baseball cap with a Kenyan flag and Kenya written on it.  I got a nativity made out of corn husks.  (I collect nativities so it was great!)
I hogged my time and Russ didn't much.  It went so very fast but was so very good.  


Mom's commentary:

Joseph's birthday was the  19th.  We sent him a package for his birthday back in September.  It got lost a couple of times from the mission home.  I  heard at Christmas time that he finally got it the week before his birthday. 

Mom's Email:
On Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 9:17 PM, LAURA BUTTERS <> wrote:
So you're a 20 year old man...;p  When did that happen.  Happy Birthday!!Hopefully you will get your birthday present one of these days.
The next emails will have Paul Cardell Piano solos "40 Hymns for 40 Days".  2 were not in the Hymnal so I'm only sending 38 and they download in seconds but upload to email in hours so they will come in small groups over the next 2 or three weeks. HAHA.  I really like his arrangements on the piano.  Hope you will to.
Your Grandma is giving you $10 for your birthday and $20 for Christmas and expects to hear back how you spend them.
BTW..A baptism on my birthday is the best present a missionary mom could ask for.  Good Job!

Happy Birthday and may all your righteous wishes come true.
Love you exceeding abundantly,

Joseph's reply:
 Well, Thank you guys for sending me some money. I will try hard to find something to spend it on haha, I may have to wait until January when we go into town before I can get much though.

Also I Love the Music. Thank you so much!

So on my Birthday we had another set of the Elders (my Zone leader and his trainee) come down and spend the day with us. They happen to both have the Birthday of Dec 19th. It is incredible that out of the 8 elders in our Zone, 3 of them of the same birthday haha! Anyway we made some good food, Chopoti, beef stew and Col-slaw.  Then we made some French fries later. It was Delicious. We spent a good part of the day playing Pool (pretty much the only activity we can find around here haha) it cost us a whooping 60 cents to play for about 2 hours. We then went back to the Apartment and waited for the power to come back...

Anyway it was fun but I miss you guys! (and Snow, its way too hot here...)

Love - elder butters

Mom's more commentary:

I sent him another email about upcoming Christmas and his reply.

On Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 9:27 PM, LAURA BUTTERS <> wrote:
Heri ya Krismasi!
So you get to call home for Christmas.  You are 11 hours ahead of us.  Your dad works Christmas Day and I will still be over in Manson with Dustin, Kaylee and the Girls.  If you can give us, especially your dad a  heads up on when you are able to make that call it would help.  He isn't usually busy on Christmas but you never know.  He does get up pretty early so that might be your best bet.  Me, well I will sleep with my phone or keep it in my pocket and you can call me whenever and guarantee I will answer. I wonder if they will have reception over there....they didn't on the San Juan Islands...: p.   If you can just give us a guestamation we will figure it out. 

Merry Christmas exceeding abundantly!

Joseph's reply: 

So I should be calling between 7:00 and 8:00 pm my time if all goes well

WEEK 21 (addendum)

Mom's Commentary:

Joseph also sent an email to his Dad on week 21. 
  We had to put our dog, Trigger, down.  He was diabetic and blind.  We had to give him insulin shots twice and a day and  really watch him that he ate enough or he would have a seizure.  He still got along very well and has been happy until  last month. He slowed way down and  he lost his "happy".  He just slept all the time and wasn't interested anymore in the things we were doing. That wasn't like him. We found out that he was diabetic 3 &1/2 years ago.  He has been on borrowed time since then.  I was so glad he made it until Joseph left on his mission.  
 Here is his dad's email and Joseph's reply.

The Bickley’s are having a hard time taking care of their needs. Their family has been trying to get them to move in with them or into a care facility or something. The Bickley’s have finally consented to move into the same place that grandma Butters is in. I am writing this on Wednesday evening Nov 30th. Pres. Bicklely called me this evening all stressed out and asked if I could come check him out. I took your mother with me. His blood pressure was 187 which is very high. We visited for almost 2 hours after which I took his blood pressure again. It had dropped to 150 - a significant improvement. I believe that he is lonely and has many hours each day were he dwells on all the problems that his wife and he are having. While we were there he asked for a blessing - for both he and Margie. Now I don’t know what you think - but for me giving a blessing to a patriarch is a both a challenge and a great blessing. As I blessed him I had the distinct impression to remind him that in the pre-existence we had been taught about mortal life and that we rejoiced at the idea that we would gain many experiences - including trials (like old age). We knew that these experiences would would benefit us in the eternities. Afterward Pres. Bickley thanked me. I know that he has called me over to his place several times in the past to either help him bless Sis. Bickley or to give him a blessing. These have been very sweet experiences for me. I count my time with him as a true blessing. I truly dread the day I lose him to the next world. But that thought brings the atonement, once more, clearly into focus; that ‘happy hope’ of a glorious reunion in a world I can’t yet imagine.
The move happened yesterday (Saturday - it’s now Sunday the 4th in the morning when I’m writing this - [Also, today is moms birthday]). I had coordinated with the Bickley’s daughters to help keep the Bickley’s out of the way while they worked on the move. We (your mom and I) took the Bickley’s to the ward Christmas breakfast at 10:00 in the morning on Saturday. The Bickley family was at their house moving things. There were quite a few people there, all family members and all working hard. Some were very young - maybe 8 years old or so. Some teens, some newly married and of course the older children of the bickley’s and their spouses. About 12:30 we were done with breakfast and the program at church so we took the Bickley’s home to their new place - their apartment at the retirement center where grandma Butters lives. The Bickley family had most of the apartment set up and we helped hang some mirrors and photos. It was very nice. We spent a couple more hours there helping out. Through it all Margie Bickley was visibly upset that she was being moved. BUT - she maintained her wits about her for the most part. Dementia patients often are very flustered by change and its like their brains short circuit and they lose all touch with reality. I think a large portion of why Sis. Bickley did pretty good was because she had spent the whole morning with your mom. Laura seems to have a very calming effect on Sis. Bickley, it’s really quite heart warming. The family expressed a lot of gratitude for “all that you do for our parents”. But mom and I expressed that idea that we consider Pres. and Sis. Bickley to be our wards “national treasure”. We love them and feel blessed for helping them.  
We had to put Trigger down. His health has gone down significantly this past month. He wouldn't even go outside with us when we were out there. He just stayed inside sleeping except when he had to go potty.
As I pondered losing him I couldn’t help but think of Revelation chap 4. This chapter contains a description of some kinds of animals that Heavenly Father has. Verses 6-9 “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,”. The description “full of eyes” makes us picture in our mind a beast with a thousand eyes all over his body. The truth is that this description describes a beast that is highly intelligent. Full of eyes equals full of knowledge. Full of eyes “before and behind” symbolizes knowledge of past and future events. “each of them [had] six wings” is a description of power to do things or to be mobile - perhaps even very fast. These animals were very wise and very powerful. What did they use their wisdom and power for? “they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty”. They loved their master just like Trigger loved all of us. As I look back through the years and remember each of the animals that I have had I can’t help but feel that someday I will have a happy reunion with them. I know that many people in other religions teach that “dogs don’t have souls”. But in my experience I believe that God created all things spiritually first - then He created each thing with the mortal matter that we know of in this life. If the spirit and the body form the soul of man (D&C 88:15) then surly the spiritually created animal and its mortal body form its soul. I can easily imagine a day when Trigger is resurrected, grows much more intelligent slowly becoming like Heavenly Father’s animal that sits near His throne - full of knowledge and power. Trigger had a good soul, a good nature. Like us, I’m sure he has an eternal future.
On a more personal note; I greatly miss him not greeting me at the door when I come home from work in the early morning. He was always there waiting, happy to see me, and we often spent a few minuets together while others slept - with me usually scratching his ears and back. I miss him.
As the years have gone by I have lost many valuable things… my grand parents, some friends, my pets, my dad and my daughter. As death claimed each of them the atonement became more real; more valuable, more needed. While I miss each of them very much I find it hard to explain how important, how valuable, the atonement has become because of their lose and because of the knowledge that we can be united again. Those who believe that when life is over - there is nothing… well, I find that thought process to be nutty. If we do not have an eternal nature then we don’t mater at all, then life has no value and no meaning. But I believe we are eternal. That we will all die. That we will all be resurrected because our Savior broke the bands of death. That He is in control. That He can heal anything. I believe further, that He paid the price for my sins so that I will not only be resurrected but will have the opportunity to return to Gods realms and dwell there eternally. I believe that He has simply asked me to try a little harder each day to be obedient. He came to earth as a helpless baby and grew to manhood showing the perfect example of obedience to Gods commands. Then He willingly submitted Himself to the most terrible trails which led to His death. We cannot imagine what He endured. But we know that He did it because He was obedient to God the Father who wanted a pathway whereby we (you and me) might be redeemed. This all comes from love. It is a love that only those who take the time to learn of it, taste it, try it, test it will ever come to understand. It is the love of God the Father and it is the love of Christ our Savior.
That love then can fill us. I have the sense that it is filling your life as I read the emails you send home. It is sweet. That love helps us trough our own trials. It gives us patience for others who wrong us. It gives us a desire to make things better for those around us. It can become a measuring tool for us eternally. When we encounter something or someone that presents a trial to us we can take note of how we are feeling. If we are feeling love then we are probably doing OK in the choices we are making. But if we are driven by anger, hate, or some other thing that makes us feel negative then we probably should re-prioritize our actions. God is love. When we are feeling that love we are moving closer to Him. When we don’t feel it we are moving away from Him. I am so very grateful to feel that love fill your life.
When you were very young, probably 5 or so years old, I was teaching you some basic basketball skills out in front of our home on Galahad street. You were trying so hard to do everything as perfect as you could. Now, you have to admit that, coordination and basic sports skills were not natural to you. So here we were, practicing. You were trying so hard to do each move that I made exactly as I did it. Your little tongue was sticking out as you concentrated on each move. The thought then hit me “what if I tried so hard to do everything my Father (God) was trying to teach me that I became consumed in concentrating on getting it right”. The example of diligent obedience set by my son made him the teacher and me the student. Now we can take this lesson away from that example - each day watch for the qualities others have that you can learn from. Each day develop a little more Christ-like love.
I love you;

Joseph's email 12/7/2016

Well I am going to miss trigger, I loved him Alot. Fortunately our neighbors here have a dog that always greets us with a wagging tail every day when we come home, His Name is T-i, its actually a Kikamba word but I don't know how to spell it but its pronounced Tee-Eye. Anyway I will miss him.

Thanks for the wonderful Emails. Send the Bickleys my Love and Thanks. They really have had a good influence on my life.

I will continue to do my best to develop a little more Charity every day.

I love you Dad! Thanks so much for everything you have done and continue to do for me.


 I was pretty busy and Joseph's emails were always a day or two late.  If the power isn't out then the internet has been down.  It really tries a missionary mom's patience.  So these are the rest of December's emails.

Joseph's email:

Thanks for all your letters!
This week was kinda boring because both Elder Otika and I have been sick, so we spent a lot of time napping and iin general trying to feel better haha.
Otherwise, we met a new Elder that just got here from Arizona. His name is Elder Wood.  He is a cool guy so I look forward to working with him at our weekly meetings. 

Sorry for another short note, connection issues just deleted the rest of what I was writing and I am about out of time...:'(

Well we were able to baptize the father of the family we are working with.  His name is James Matunga.  That's the whole family.

James Matunga Baptism 12/11/2016

James Matunga family

Elder Butters, James Matunga, Elder Otika  and Matunga Family

James Matunga  baptism with branch members