Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Aaron at 26

Aaron has always been a hard worker and he also knows how to work smart. When he was young he finally realized that when there was work to be done he may as well get in and do it. Often, by the time the other kids began working he was done and gone.
When he was in second grade his teacher requested a conference with Aaron, Mark and I. Mrs. Burns noticed a pattern in Aaron's work. He would get 100% repeatedly and then not turn in an assignment. He seemed to be doing just enough work that his grade averaged out to a solid "B".
He's grown up a lot since then.
He married a wonderful woman and has a beautiful daughter.
He loves those girls more than anything...
He works hard for them
as he finishes his masters and is working away on his PhD.
You've come a long way in that past 26 years.
We sure love you.
Happy {late} Birthday!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Week of Miracles

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for your love and prayers! They really have helped me this week! We have had an excellent week and I'm very excited to tell you all about it!

Last week a member brought a friend to church. His name is Rogers and his parents are members that have fallen away from the church. He is 17 years old and really has been prepared to receive the gospel! I was on division the first two times that he was taught. On the third lesson his friend asked what lesson we marked the baptismal date. We said that was normally the next lesson but asked, why, and if they where already thinking about the date? Rogers asked if we baptized on Sunday we said that normally on Saturday. Then I thought convenient to add that he needed to go to church at least two times. He did the math and said alright, my baptism can be next Saturday! Wahooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!Yesterday he went to church and we also taught him the Plan of Salvation. He loved it and is way excited for his baptism! Pray for him!
I'm not sure how much I already told you about Volnei, Andréia, Jonatan and Mariana? They are a family that is very especial! Volnei and Andréia have been inactive for 7 years! They were very firm in the church for some time until some member offended them. They have a few others excuses too. But yesterday Andréia and Jontan went to church! Jonatan has been two times now but for Andréia it was a huge leap! Jonatan could be baptized this week but we will see if he is really prepared. Volnei will need the most work of all. He drinks and it also looks like he hasn't forgiven those that offended them. Please pray for him.

Alright, coolest experience of all! We were working the day that I got back from the division and Elder Leite thought of someone that he had taught with another missionary. He remembered that they hadn't returned to teach him. We called the missionary and discovered his address and he gave us permission to teach the man. When we got there he already started giving us excuses and telling us that he already "knew the word." Hmmm. So I asked for some water. He got some water and I opened up to him. I explained that some times we insist because we want to help everyone that we can. Before I could even ask for a reference he started to talk about the neighbor. That she had lost her son some time ago and really could be blessed by a message!
On splits in Santa Maria
We went straight to her house. She was outside drinking chimarrão under the tree. We arrived, I presented myself and my companion and offered a message about; where we came from, why we are here, and where we go after this life. She said ignorantly, "I'm sorry my son but, no one has come back to tell us, and no one really knows." I have never felt SO happy to say that we know without a doubt and that we could explain it to her! She said, "alright, I'm catholic but you can share your message." We entered and started talking and she already started telling us about the problems in the catholic church. She said that she even had corrected the padre and had taken he bible there to straighten him out! I laughed and agreed with her. Well, we taught her an unplanned message about Christ's Ministry and life after death and she totally opened up to us. many of the things she told us are too sacred to write in an email but all in all she wants to change churches! Haha! The only reason that she didn't go to church yesterday is because she had to stay at home and take care of her grandchildren. But she has already told the neighbors that she will become part of the church! Her name is Mail and her husband's name is Alayir. Pray for them! Especially because I will go to Santiago in division this week and my comp. will be taking care of everyone.

My comp. is very good! He is from the Espirito Santo, from the same stake as Elder Borlot. He is just 10 months in the mission! Pray for him too!

I am doing awesome! Thanks for all of your love and concern for me and everyone around me! I love and pray for you all!

Love, Elder Zimbelman

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crazy Week

Dear Family,

This has been the craziest week ever!

First of all we had the Leaders council. But it looks like we ate some potatoe salad that didn't agree with our stomachs and where vomiting all night long on Monday. Which means that we couldn't go to the second part on Tuesday. We are all doing fine now. President says that I'm looking skinny so I'm trying to put on some weight but, the food is good here and I've been pretty fat my whole mission so that shouldn't be a problem.

Second, on Friday we had Zone Conference! It was very spiritual and I got so excited that I couldn't keep my mouth shut! I'm pretty sure that everyone got annoyed with me but, whatever :) Then after Zone Conference we had two baptismal interviews that were really cool.

One of them is a woman that the Sisters in our district are teaching. She is a cool lady, her name is Olinda. She had visited one of our baptisms. At the baptism I was conversing with everyone and I asked if she had been baptized yet. She responded, no. I asked her what she was waiting for, she said she didn't know. She had been taught by many missionaries but just needed to be challenged. I invited her to have an interview with me joking. She laughed and I didn't think anything else of it.

The next day the sisters called me up and said that she wanted to be baptized! But, what's even cooler is that she wanted me to baptize her! So, on Saturday I baptized her! It was pretty amazing how simple it is sometimes to just invite people to change. But if you don't invite them, they will never change.
So this week was really really hard to work! Next week I will be doing a division and working for three days in another area. Pray for me!

Other than that, everything is going great! Thank you for your prayers and emails and everything.


Your Elder Zimbelman

Monday, January 18, 2010

Earthquakes, Haiti and Helping

..and a tender mercy.
This past week my mind and heart have been making all kinds of connections
I know firsthand about earthquakes.
I experienced a 6.6 earthquake in 1971.
I was 7, we weren't at the epicenter, but even miles away it was scary.

My first thought and concern was for the orphans and the orphanage that my family helped build in Haiti. We have received word that everyone housed here is safe and well and the building only sustained minor damage. They have their own well, a generator donated by the church and vegetable gardens and animals they keep to sustain them.
But there are millions who are not so fortunate.

Our Stake does humanitarian service every other Wednesday at our stake center. I decided that after aerobics I would stop by and see if there was anything our Young Women could do to help.

As I was walking in the door of the building my phone rang. It was Bishop Neff. He was asking if I could speak on Sunday - about service. I normally would but was leaving early the next day to go with Mark to a conference in San Diego and would not be back until after church on Sunday. He expressed his concern for the people in Haiti and wished there was something that we could do as a ward. I told him I shared his concern and that I was trying to find out the same thing - I would call him when I got some info.

The sister at the church hadn't heard of specific needs but did give me a contact for the LDS Humanitarian center in Provo... I didn't know one existed in Provo.

A few phone calls later I was able to provide him with information on cost and a good source to get soap, tooth brushes etc. to put in hygiene kits to send to Haiti.

He called me later that evening and said that they were going to try to collect $5000.00 in donations by the next evening and put together over 1000 kits on Saturday morning. I was overwhelmed (and a little bit sad that we would not be there to help). My original intent was to find a small project that 6 girls and two adults could do, blankets, stuff like that.
It turns out they raised more money than they hoped and so many people turned out that they put over 1000 kits together in 30 minutes!
Here is a video they posted on you tube
or here are some pictures.

Another tender mercy:
More donations came in later allowing the wards to buy more supplies.
The YM and YW will put the kits together this Wednesday.
I get to help after all.

My contribution to this effort (in money and time)was almost nothing.
I'm sure they would have done it easily without my help
but I was glad to be able to do something.
If you want to do something to help go here.
.... and pray.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas Part 2

On Tuesday Mark and Christian began to take out the old swing set and get things ready to install the new one. Jenn and I joined another group as we took two vehicles to Tijuana to deliver supplies to three different orphanages. When Christian posts pictures of the swing set I will put a link here.
But until then I'll show you what Jenn and I did.

The first orphanage was in a decent neighborhood, just past these blue gates. It was a small orphanage with about 18 kids who are all special needs kids. Some had obvious disabilities, others had AIDS.
Our second stop was further out of town. I never realized how hilly Tijuana is and I've never seen such steep paved streets. When we were downtown I was glad I wasn't driving but as we drove around trying to find the next orphanage...
can I just say that we drove on streets the make the steepest streets around here seem flat.
And narrow... don't even think about a u-turn, more like a 7 point turn all he time feeling like you are going to roll over.
This neighborhood was not quite as nice as the first. The orphanage itself was levels of cement and buildings on the side of a hill.
The two boys sitting down greeted us and offered to share their trucks with us. When I pulled out the camera they just wanted to see pictures of themselves. How I wished for "a bit of earth" for them. There was a small planter about 6" x 2' but that's it. Even with stairs all over and steep walkways a 26 year old young lady in a wheel chair lives here.
They dry their clothes by hanging them on the fence. Looking out towards Tijuana I could see a number of houses that had billboards for roofs. No wonder all the working billboards I saw were made from fabric stretched on to frames.

The last orphanage was on the other side of Tijuana. It was my job to use the map and get us there. I wasn't too worried and considered myself a pretty good navigator...
based of course on the streets being marked and stuff like that.

Originally the plan was to stop in Tijuana for lunch.
I watched and watched for the street we were supposed to turn left on.
On the map it looked like a major street...
then all of a sudden we were crossing the canal
We missed not only the street we were looking for but were well on our way to the other side of town. Oh well, good thing we brought trail mix and some granola bars.

We decided we might as well deliver the rest of the stuff and come back and eat. If streets were hard to find in the center of town, finding them on the outskirts proved even more challenging. We circled the area for a good hour before we finally found it.
We pulled up to this gate and I rang the doorbell. An adult and two other big kids came out to open the gate. We parked inside and they locked the gate behind us.
This was a sign of things to come. Older kids came out to help unload boxes of food, diapers, baby formula, blankets, school kits and hygiene kits.
After all was unloaded they took us on a tour of the orphanage. Everywhere we went steel gates were unlocked and locked behind us. It was strange. They had a few dogs and the whole place smelled like dog poo.

This is the boys dorms. Notice the bunk beds three high on the left. All the kids were locked in the kitchen/dining room while we were there. For many years the orphanage used these:
Notice the locks on them. Can you imagine trying to keep all those kids out of them with no locks? Feel free to try this at home. Someone recently donated a large walk in refrigerator to the orphanage so they don't use these any more. I was relieved for them. Could you imagine cooking for massive quantities of people and needing to lock and unlock fridge after fridge to get out the ingredients you need?
This is the nun that is in charge of the orphanage.
She showed us a statue that is her pride and joy.
It's Jesus as a child with his adoptive father Joseph.
It sits in the main entrance.

This was the poorest of the orphanages that we visited and in the poorest of neighborhoods. It also serves as a battered woman's shelter. It was dirty with trash on the playground. A few children came over to us as we passed through the dining room but we didn't get to play with them. I felt disconnected. Maybe it was all the bars, gates and locks. How sad to grow up on a place like this.

As we went through down town Tijuana to get lunch (at 3:00 pm) I noticed a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the center of a large round-about. He stands tall holding broken chains in his hands.
I'm sure it symbolizes freeing the slaves but I also thought about all the children growing up here with so little. One thing I was impressed with is that each of the orphanages we visited emphasized schooling. It provided hope that these kids may be able to take control of their lives someday, to break the chains of poverty that could bind them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Our "Deluxe Villa" in La Mision, Baja California, Mexico
We were through the green door in the right with another family.
Bunk "beds", no heat, bathroom in the little brown house on the far left.
It was lovely!

by Karen Zimbelman
Part 1

About 8 years ago Mark and the three oldest kids left on Christmas morning to travel to Haiti with A Child's Hope Foundation to help build this orphanage:
Robbie built this swing set while there for his eagle project.
I think it's safe to say it was a life changing experience.
Amy, and then Mark and Robbie got to go a second time to Haiti and
Amy has volunteered at an orphanage in Romania two different times,
the first time she met Jordan
who was doing an internship in a nearby city,
the second time they went as facilitators after they were married.

When it came time for Christian to do his eagle project nothing else seemed to really capture his heart until it was suggested that we go with ACHF and build a swing set at an orphanage.
Since they are not making trips to Haiti we joined them on a trip to Mexico.

We stayed at a campground hosted by the Door of Faith Orphanage
The above picture is looking past our kitchen facility on the right towards the orphanage. On the left are pens where they keep goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and rabbits.

We arrived Sunday afternoon and Jenn and I (along with others) spent Monday sorting and organizing all the donations. Mark and Christian went shopping for the poles for the swing set.

In the afternoon Jenn and I went to play with the Children at DOFO
We started small, swinging Raul and Angelina (in the pink shirt)
Angelina giggled and told us "mucho, mucho!" over and over.

As the group and size of the children grew we decided
ring-around-the-rosie was a better way to go

this is me breaking the "disco" (cd) I was holding for Angelina in the pocket of my sweat jacket
Those boys loved Jenn and soon the game evolved into a game of keep away -starring Jenn's hat. She was a good sport.
Raul and I were fine on our own.
- when Raul told me his name I repeated it back to him
but he corrected me until I rrrrrrrolled my rrrrrrr sufficiently.
When we asked him how old he was he held out all the fingers in one hand plus his thumb on the other. We asked "seis?" He looked unsure and quickly counted the extended appendages, "uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis". He looked up with a big smile and nodded, "SEIS!"
He melted my heart!

That evening we had fabulous carne asada tacos at a nearby taco stand.
Mmmmmmmm they were good.

More tomorrow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I missed it...

New Years that is...
the very moment it changed from 2009 t0 2010.
I was up until 2:15 AM so I didn't sleep through it
(shocker I know for those of you who know me well)
I enjoyed colorful fireworks, good food
and was with quite a few others who are in the same boat
but we missed the moment it became officially 2010

can you figure it out?