Friday, December 30, 2011

'Twas the week before Christmas...

...and all through the office, it was pandemonium! crazy! swamped!  We started Monday morning with about 60 packages and 90 letters from the Post Office.  This was after a week of averaging 15 packages and 40-60 letters a day.  On top of all that, it was Transfer Week!  The missionaries returning home (pictured below) reported to the mission home around 4:00 Monday afternoon.  One of them was Elder Farrens, standing on the right, who served as an assistant to the President for the past transfer.  We really learned to love him and his great sense of humor and were sad to see him go.  He was the old man of the mission (26 years old), but he doesn't look it, does he?  I thought he was barely 20 when we first met him.  Elder Stone, standing in the center, looks like the oldest, but he just turned 21 a couple of months ago!  He is, however, the tallest in the mission, standing 6'8".  He was a Zone Leader in the Syracuse Zone.  Elder Burbank, just left of Elder Stone, is from Jackson, Wyoming, and also served as a Zone Leader.  Sitting are Elder Jensen, a young man with Autism who really grew and served a good mission; Sister Cox who was Sister Hales companion the past 4 transfers; and Elder Call.  We didn't know Sister Cox or Elder Call very well, just met them once.


Since Sister Cox was leaving, her companion Sister Hale needed a place to be, so we told President Bulloch we would be happy to have her stay with us, since we have an extra bedroom with two twin beds.  She stayed for two nights and helped us in the office Tuesday and Wednesday.  Her help was invaluable!  She helped sort packages, put labels on letters and packages to be forwarded, made lists, helped me sort out who would be transferring and who would not, etc.  We had around 45 packages, another 60 letters on Tuesday and so many packages on Wednesday I lost track.  We looked like a post office with wall-to-wall packages!  We really enjoyed having her.  Tuesday evening we made a batch of cookies from her favorite recipe.  They were really good.

The departing missionaries left Tuesday morning and flew out of Syracuse in the late morning.  The new missionaries arrived about 4:00 that afternoon--all eleven of them!  They stayed at the mission home that night and arrived at the office about 9:30 Wednesday morning.  I took individual pictures of them to go on their board cards, then they reported to the Relief Society room where they met their trainers.  The young man second from the right is Elder Gasetoto (pronounced Nasetoto), a convert of about two years from American Samoa.  He has been studying English for about a year and a half and still struggles a bit.  He has a great trainer who is very patient and glad to be working as a trainer.  He is Elder Israelsen's third missionary to attempt to train--his first newby went home the first week, his second was an Elder waiting to get his visa to Brazil who was here a total of three weeks.  Elder Gasetoto called me yesterday to order a new name tag (he called it a badge).  He described what he needed in rather halting English, but finished strong as we agreed on the type he needed.  About 10 minutes later Elder Israelsen called to make sure I had understood what he needed and I was happy to confirm that I had understood and that he had understood how much it would cost and how he should get it paid for.  I'm really looking forward to getting to know this great young man.

The rest of the transferring missionaries and the missionaries picking up different companions arrived Wednesday morning.  After lunch, they swamped the office looking for their packages and any that they could deliver to other missionaries on their way back to their areas.  When the dust settled, Sister Hale had gone with her new companion and all the packages were gone but four.  These were packages that couldn't be forwarded because they had been sent via Parcel Post, UPS or FedEx.  So on Saturday, we took the four packages and delivered one to the elders in Hamilton, two to the elders in Oneonta, and one to the elders in Delhi.  We left about 10:45 a.m. and were home about 5:00 p.m.  We drove two cars to Oneonta because their car had had a fatal accident that killed the deer and it will take several weeks to fix it.  We really enjoyed the trip, seeing a part of New York that we hadn't seen before, driving over a mountain on a dirt road between Hamilton and Oneonta (slow but fun), seeing all the cool, historic buildings in the quaint towns we drove through.  I kept kicking myself because we forgot to take the camera.  So ended a fun but exhausting week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was really nice this year.  We actually started a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, deciding to invite our neighbors to our house so we could get to know them.  We had taken a loaf of banana bread to Ida (apparently everyone introduces themselves by their first names but no last name) who lives above us a few weeks ago, but just visited at her door for a few minutes.  We had also met Lucille (the mother) and Debbie (the daughter) one Sunday when they were coming down the stairs to go to church at the same time we were leaving.  And Gene, the man next door, we haven't officially met yet, just exchanged fleeting glances once or twice.  So a week and a half before the big day, we went upstairs and knocked on Lucille and Debbie's door.

They already had plans to go to Liverpool (a suburb of Syracuse) to Lucille's brother's, but they invited us in to visit.  We had a great time.  Lucille is probably about in her late 80s and stands about 4'10" tall.  Debbie is probably in her late 40s or early 50s, never married, but has lived with her mother since her father died about 3 years ago.  They have lovely "upstate New York" accents, broad "A" very much like Edith in "All in the Family" if any of you remember that TV show.  Debbie works in a Catholic day care for young children and really enjoys her work.  She worries a lot about the welfare of her mother, calling her 2-3 times a day while she is at work.  Lucille thinks she is a worry-wort.

Lucille told us Ida goes to her sister's for Thanksgiving, so we didn't drop in on her; Gene didn't seem to be home, so he didn't get invited, either.  This left us all alone, but we were invited to the Bulloch's, so we went.

We took the cranberry/apple/marshmallow salad that we had enjoyed in Japan, a batch of stuffing made from oatmeal bread, and a mincemeat pie.  No one but us seemed to know what mincemeat pie is made of.  I had fun educating them about this delicious treat.  The Bullochs provided the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, corn and green jello salad, as well as pumpkin pie for dessert.  Elders Miller and Farrens, the APs, brought their scriptures.  The meal was wonderful, the company great and everyone tried a piece of mincemeat pie, but there was still plenty to take home to enjoy.  After we finished eating, we retired to the family room and told stories.  We all enjoyed Bill's stories about scouting, his family, especially the story about Emory hoisting the cat up the flag pole in a bucket again and again, becoming more and more enthusiastic until he forgot to stop when the bucket got to the top of the pole and the bucket stopped but the cat didn't.  The gestures and sound effects were priceless and had the whole company in stitches.  All in all, we had a really good time.

Sister Bulloch was kind enough to send home turkey, potatoes--we actually some of everything on the menu! So we have been enjoying Thanksgiving ever since.  We watched an episode of the Gracie Allen and George Burns Show and George was talking about turkey--all the ways they had eaten left over turkey.  His last comment was, "But I really enjoyed the turkey today.  I haven't had turkey for... Oh, probably three weeks when we finished the left overs from last year!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MORE Snow!



We woke up Friday morning to lots of snow!  I checked the Weather Channel and there was a severe storm warning--Lake effect snow!  Apparently the snow that forms when the wind blows across the Great Lakes is more dangerous than the average Wyoming snow--it has a greater moisture content.

This picture was taken through the window--you can see the screen.  I was afraid we wouldn't get any more pictures of this snow, so this is Bill after he finished cleaning off the car windows so we could drive to work safely.  You can see that there is no snow on the sidewalks or roads.  It's not because everyone is so diligent about cleaning them, it's because the ground isn't cold enough to keep the snow from melting.  When we got to the office, there was ice and a little snow on top of the ice on the driveway and sidewalk.  Maybe it is colder there because it is more exposed to the wind...


The snow is really wet and makes great snowballs.  I threw this one at Bill, but missed; I didn't get another chance because he wasn't going to throw one at me and made it to the car before I could make another one.  Oh well, there will be more snow.  The postman told Bill that the lovely, mild weather we have been enjoying all fall has a consequence--it makes for more lake effect snow later in the season!  This snow was all melted by mid-afternoon.

Elders Kunzler & Miller

This is Elder Kunzler and Elder Miller.  They were the Assistants to the President when we arrived back in August.  They are really great young missionaries.  Elder Kunzler was scheduled to go home the 29th of September, but there were an uneven number of elders created at the transfer (three elders left and four arrived) and If Elder Kunzler had gone home, the mission would have had to close an area, so President Bulloch asked him if he would stay till the end of October.  Elder Kunzler was more than happy to stay.

He has been fun to work with.  I said to him once, "Elder Kunzler, you look just like the Von Trapp boys in The Sound of Music."

He groaned and said, "I have heard that all my life!"  But it's true.

We invited them over for supper just before he left, but we waited too long to extend the invitation--they were gone most of the week before he left, and had appointments every night they were in town.  So they came over Sunday evening to say good-bye and we got this picture.  We miss him, but love his replacement.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snow!

We got our first snow on Friday, 11-11-11!  It was magic!  It started just after we got to work, little tiny flakes. As the morning progressed, so did the snow--great big, fluffy flakes.  Then it stopped at lunch time, then started again when we got back to work.  Essentially, it snowed all day long, but by the time we left work at 5:00, it had stopped and was all gone--none on the grass, none on the streets or sidewalks.  It was windy and cold and we thought winter was here for good.  But by Sunday morning, it was quite balmy and by Monday we thought spring had come.  Everyone here says, "Fat chance!" but we are enjoying each day.

Last week was transfer week.  Even though I don't help with the meal preparation, I am still exhausted by the end of the week.  We welcomed 5 new missionaries into the mission--4 elders (Andrews, King, Portela, and Simmonds) and one sister (Blackburn).  We got to meet them Wednesday morning when they came to the church for training and to meet their Trainers.  Bill and I give short presentations during the training--I talk about mail (make sure all your mail gets sent to the Mission address) and making sure they notify us if their folks move or they get a new bishop, etc.  Bill talks about taking care of cars, driving carefully, sending in all their gas receipts and what they can be reimbursed for.  Then we all pour into the cultural hall where there are boxes and boxes of hot pizza, bowls of green salad and water.  Some of the missionaries who are transferring are there, as well as the missionaries who have finished their missions and are going home on Thursday.  The new missionaries are introduced by their new trainers, then the leaving (sometimes referred to as the "dying missionaries") have the opportunity of bearing their testimonies.  We said good-bye to 4 elders.  Elder Daniels-Brown is a very tall, very thin young man with a big smile and very friendly personality.  We got to know him because he has been a Zone Leader since before we got here and we see the Zone Leaders at least once per transfer. Elder Owens is a curly, red-headed young man with a smile that never stops.  We got to know him very well because he was assigned to the Oneida Branch.  We didn't know Elder Van Roosendaal well at all, only having met him once before during the previous transfer.  Elder West was also a Zone Leader, but he isn't nearly as outgoing as Elder Daniels-Brown, so we didn't get to know him very well, either.  After lunch, Bill and I go back to the office and get to work, getting mail that had accumulated for two days ready to be forwarded to the new addresses, writing letters to the parents of the new missionaries which includes a group picture of them.  I had written the letters to the new leaders (Zone leaders, District leaders and Trainers) on Monday, but now they needed to be mailed, along with copies of the letters sent to their parents, bishops, and stake presidents.  All in all, it was a huge batch of mail that Bill took down to the post office that afternoon.  The rest of the week was spent finishing up paper work that always piles up during transfer week.  And the weekend was spent resting, cleaning, and grocery shopping.

Our Branch President asked to meet with us after Church on Sunday.  He asked if I would accept the assignment of being Primary President and I said I would.  Then he asked Bill if he would accept the assignment of teaching the youth Sunday School class.  Like the Primary, there is only one class.  There is only one 13 year-old girl (Victoria Shorer) who attends regularly, and two boys (the Blakes) who attend about half the time.  Bill said he would be happy to teach.  I guess he won't be able to teach the Gospel Doctrine class anymore like he had that day, but the regular teacher (Sister Huddleston) should be back by next Sunday and if she's not, I guess President Colbert will teach the class.

Also after Church, I practiced with Sister Ransom who will be singing "How Great Thou Art" next week in church.  She is a funny little Puerto Rican lady who has some serious health problems and is married to a local man.  She speaks with a funny accent and has been teaching the Primary class since Sister Roll left.  She informed me that she would be singing "O, Come Ye Faithful" for the Christmas Program and the Primary children would be singing "Jesus of Humble Birth," and the Lullaby and she guessed I would be playing for them.  Apparently anyone who wants to be in the program volunteers and sings/reads/recites whatever they want to.  This will be fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oneida Branch

We have been assigned to attend the Oneida Branch while we are on our mission.  The third week we were there, the Relief Society President prepared the room, then announced, "If any of you play the piano, we would like to have you play."  So I stumbled through "The Spirit of God" and "I am a Child of God."  After Relief Society, the Branch Music Director, Sister Sweeten, approached me and said, "Now that I know you play, I would like to ask a favor.  I have to be out of town next week, would you like to direct the music or play the organ in Sacrament meeting?"  Well, I knew there was no one else who could play the organ in the Branch, and I had never tried to lead the singing to the accompaniment of a CD, I decided to play the organ.  The following week she asked if I would play for Sacrament for the duration of our mission.

A few days before the Riedelbach's left, Sister Roll, who is the Primary President, came into the office to say good-bye to them.  Then she asked me if I would teach the Primary class--there is only one class and all the children attend it regardless of their age--that Sister Riedelbach had been teaching.  I was a little taken aback (I had never received a calling from an auxiliary president before) and told her I would be happy to substitute until someone was called.

A couple of weeks later, President Colbert (the Branch President) interviewed both Bill and I.  He asked Bill to serve as the Assistant Branch Clerk, explaining that the current Branch Clerk actually lives in Herkimer, but had accepted the Oneida Branch Clerk calling since it was short on Priesthood.  Then he asked if Sister Sweeten and Sister Roll had talked to me about playing and teaching and asked if I would accept those callings.  So we've been busy ever since.

I try to spend 40-60 minutes, 5 days a week, practicing the organ in the Utica Stake Center where our office is located. Then we arrive at the Oneida Chapel an hour before church so Bill can prepare the weekly program, so I get another 40 minutes in before church starts.  The he has to count tithing and other things for an hour or two after church, so I get more practice time and sometime a bit of a nap, too. I am getting better, but there are still some unintended sour notes that creep in in spite of the practice.  Maybe by the time we leave...

In addition to his clerk duties, Bill has taught the Gospel Doctrine class, and the combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting last week.

A month ago we got word that the Rolls were moving, that Chris (the husband) had been offered a job in California and he was leaving in two weeks.  The rest of the family would stay here, get their house ready to sell, then move after December 9, which is the kids last day of school.  The Rolls have a 25 year old son who is profoundly autistic and they are unable to leave him alone for longer than an hour, so they attend church in shifts.  Chris comes to Sacrament, bringing Casey (14) and John (12) with him.  Then he goes back home and Sherry comes and presents Sharing Time and Music Time in Primary.  With Chris gone, she is unable to attend  church, so she asked me to do Sharing Time and Music, and Sister Ransom to teach the class.  So now I am acting Primary President until President Colbert calls someone to take that calling.  Whether that will be me, only time will tell.

Last Sunday was especially exhausting.  There were seven children in attendance!  Now, I have taught Primary classes much bigger than that and have not had a hard time.  But this one was tough.  The children ranged in ages 5-11 and ability from very bright to autistic with ADHD, and family background from very active families to families struggling to become active.  Three of the children come almost every Sunday.  The Branch President's son Cameron who is five, the Young Women's President's daughter Lexie who is 7, and Trinity who turned 8 last week and was baptized Saturday are the most active.  Then Christopher (9) and Kaylee (6) Blake come about half the time.  They come from a large family that struggles both financially and spiritually.  They are very needy, always asking for anything they see.  And Keagan (11) and Reiley (9) Ammer were there for the first time since we arrived.  I don't know much about them, except that Keagan is autistic and Keilley is quite bright and feels responsible for Keagan.  Hmmm.  After Primary was over, I retreated to the car and took a nap before I practiced.

It was a tough day for Bill, too.  They weren't able to count tithing last week because Church headquarters was having technical problems.  So they had twice as much to do this week.  And they are still on a dial-up connection, so that makes it slow.  And the computer they are using is as old as the hills, and that slows them down even more.  The frustrating part is that the high speed connection is installed and a new computer is sitting on the desk, but the Stake Technology Specialist hasn't had time to install the firewall, so they continue to plug along at ultra-slow speed.

But in spite of the frustrations, we are enjoying being part of this tiny branch.  We are slowing getting to know the members and are beginning to feel part of them.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vehicles, vehicles!

Bill is the Vehicle Coordinator for the mission and even though this does not involve oil changes or fixing brakes, it keeps him very busy.  We have received 5 new Chevy Malibu's in the last month, two Toyota Corolla's are waiting to be picked up as soon as the paper work is done, and 4 Fords are in the works.  This creates many phone calls, faxes, computer work and more phone calls for him.  These cars have to be delivered to missionaries and the cars they have been driving are brought to the mission office to be cleaned, inspected, repairs made to any incidental damage, advertised and sold.

In addition to this, three cars have been involved in accidents since we got here.  The first one happened the weekend we arrived back in August and it was caused by the missionary going around a corner at too high a speed, skidding and taking out the right rear fender/bumper on a guard rail.  The next two happened General Conference weekend.  A deer tried to cross the road and didn't survive the impact with the car.  And a pickup driving toward the missionaries car lost a wheel which sped down the highway and hit the missionaries' car then went under the car.  Damages came to over $6000 for that one, but because it was a fairly new car, it was not totaled. Fortunately, there were no injuries with the exception of the deer.  Needless to say, that creates a lot more phone calls, paperwork, reports, faxes, etc.

However, not all is unpleasant.  A week ago Wednesday, we found out the damage to the "tire accident" car was going to take more time to repair than first estimated.  One of the new cars needed to be delivered to Elders West and Papa in Ithica, which is about 100 miles from Utica.  The elders with the damaged car were in Cortland, which is half way in between.  So Bill drove the new Malibu and I drove our car and we went to Ithica, found their apartment without much trouble (thank goodness for the GPS which seems to work a lot better here than out West), dropped off the new car and picked up the old one.  The elders were a tiny bit disappointed--the old car was a 2008 Malibu, same color as the new one, and didn't look a bit different!  Somehow, it just didn't feel like a new car.  We visited for a few minutes then headed to Cortland.  Again, we found their house without much trouble, but we couldn't find Elders Spotz and Dalton!  We rang what we thought was the bell to their apartment, but no one answered.  So we called them (thank goodness for cell phones--every missionary companionship has one) and they said they would be there shortly, they were just around the corner.  We waited another 10 minutes because just around the corner was a few blocks and they were on foot.  They were grateful for the wheels, they had already been on foot for two weeks.  They took us up to their apartment--they live in a big, three-story colonial that had been divided into three apartments.  They live in half of the second floor and we were impressed with how clean it was.  I wished we had brought cookies...  Again, we visited for a few minutes then drove home.  Cortland is a pretty town with some really impressive old buildings.  We took a short detour and drove past the Catholic cathedral the elders told us about.  It was close to 200 years old and beautiful.  I wished it had been a better day so we could take pictures, but it rained all day.  In spite of the rain, it was a beautiful drive, the leaves were still colorful and we enjoyed the outing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Conference Weekend

Before I get started on this weeks report, I should clear up last week--Bill and I have been married nine years, not eight.  I'm not sure where my brain was...

We had two conferences this weekend.  Elder Paul B. Pieper of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to hold a Mission Conference with the New York Utica Mission.  Because our mission is so large geographically, he held meetings in Albany on Thursday, Potsdam on Friday, and Syracuse Saturday.  We attended the Syracuse conference.  We had a great time.  We met some missionaries we hadn't yet met and got to visit with some we did know.  Elder Pieper spoke for three hours (with a few rest breaks, thank goodness).  He taught the missionaries about the importance of teaching doctrine in order to help investigators and new converts face and overcome problems.  He quoted David B. Haight, "Nothing touches the soul but what it leaves its impress on our soul.  Everything you do either invites the spirit or chases it away.  Distraction does not have to be evil to be effective."  He taught us to fill our minds with goodness.  No good thought is ever lost.  We should focus on what is clean and right and good.  Instead of trying to drive out darkness we should fill our minds with light.  He said that planning is creating faith to go forward and revelation comes when we are moving.  He was really great.  After having lunch, we headed back to Utica.

At 6:00 I headed to the Stake Center for choir practice and found that the Priesthood Leadership meeting was still in session.  It had started at 4:00 p.m.!  Choir practice finally started about 6:20 and I realized that most of the people in the foyer were just waiting to get into the chapel for the 7:00 session of Stake Conference!  I called Bill and explained that the chapel was already 3/4 full and if he wanted a seat, he should come soon.  Practice was dismissed at 6:50 and when we got to the chapel, it was nearly full and the cultural hall was mostly full, too.  Bill had managed to get a seat in the chapel and save one for me.  We enjoyed hearing from President and Sister Bulloch and Elder Matthew Eyring who is an area Seventy living in Boston. After a rest song, Elder David R. Bednar spoke for an hour.  Wow! what a great man.  He taught us the gospel, focusing on the Atonement, the Savior, and the blessings of the Gospel in our lives.  He challenged us to get new copies of the Book of Mormon and read it through, marking every passage that is a variation of the phrase, "In the strength of the Lord."  He said it would change our lives.

Sunday morning we drove to Rome where we met in the Rome Free Academy auditorium for the morning session.  The Stake Presidency was reorganized and we heard from the outgoing and incoming leaders.  President Malcheck had served for 9 1/2 years.  He told us that when he was made Stake President, he told his boss what was going to be expected of him, that he might have to miss work for funerals, meetings, etc.  His boss was very understanding and accommodating.  (I should remind you at this point that there has been a flurry of news coverage this week about the Reverend Jeffress's comment that Mormonism is a cult).  When President Malcheck got to work Tuesday morning, his boss passed him a note that read, "Are you going to attend your cult meeting tomorrow?"  And he wrote back, "No that's Thursday."  We loved that.

After the rest song we heard from Elder Eyring and Elder Bednar.  The stake leaders were quite short winded and Elder Bednar had a full hour to teach us again.  He told us some stories that he told us he didn't want to have recorded in blogs that would show up everywhere.  But one story I can retell.  He reminded us what "Hot Wheels" were and told us that his sons loved to ride them around the cul-de-sac where they lived, going as fast as they could, then turning sharply, which would cause the rear wheels to skid.  One day two of them were out riding and the younger of the two was going too fast and skidded into a parked car.  Brother (this was before he was an apostle) and Sister Bednar were watching from the living room window, and when they could see that the boy was not seriously hurt, and that the older boy was going to help his brother, they watched to see what would happen.  The boys came into the house and made their way to the kitchen.  Then there was much screaming and howling as the older boy poured dish detergent on the scrape that covered most of the younger boy's arm.  Then louder screaming as the scrape was scrubbed until it was deemed clean, then rinsed off.  Then a brand new tube of Neosporin and a full box of bandaids were located and 3/4 of the neosporin was wiped over the scrape, up and down the arm.  Then the bandaids were applied, one after another till most of the bandaids were used.  Tears were dried and the little one grabbed what was left of the Neosporin and bandaids and headed outside to find his friends.  He showed them his "Owie" then proceeded to apply the salve and bandaids to his friends arms.  And the moral of the story?  The boy, after having been cleansed, after having received the healing balm, wanted to share this great stuff with his friends!  And that what all good people do when they have received the healing balm of the Savior--they want to share the good news with their friends!  And that's what missionary work is all about!

More Fall Color

I thought I would share some more fall color and discovered that it's not easy to catch the brilliance.
This is the bush outside our front door that I shared a couple of weeks ago--it is much prettier now than then, but it doesn't look much different in the picture.  Oh well, it is still pretty.



These trees are across the driveway from our apartment--we can see them from our dining room window and I enjoy watching them at lunch time.  Their color is much deeper, too.

We pass this tree on our way to and from work every day.  It's colors are brilliant orange.

This tree is in the church yard next to our office.  Beautiful yellow and orange leaves on the same tree!

I don't know what kind of tree this is, but I've never seen leaves quite like this.  They turn this lovely color of red just a few leaves at a time, while all the rest remain a deep green.  I think I came close to catching the real color in this picture.

This tree is a beautiful bright yellow and stands across the driveway by our office.  We had a rain storm Friday afternoon with really heavy wind and the tree is almost bare now.  When we went out to get in our car after work, it was plastered with little yellow leaves.  After two days of driving, there are still some leaves clinging to parts of the car.
So, if any of you have any suggestions on how to get a better picture of the true brilliance of these trees, I would sure like to hear them.  As you can see in some of the pictures, there are still plenty of trees that haven't changed color and I would really like to catch it in color.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eight Years!




Tuesday we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary with a loaf of banana bread I had baked on Saturday.  Neither of us had time to shop for presents, so we decided to take a trip instead.  We made reservations at Prospect Point Cabins on Blue Mountain Lake in Adirondack Park.  We left work early Friday afternoon and drove up, about a 75 mile trip. This was the view from our cabin door Saturday morning.

This is a view of the interior--as you can see, quite rustic.  It had a living room with a day bed plus chairs, a dining table and full kitchen, plus two bedrooms and a large bathroom with bunches of towels in case we wanted to take a dip in the lake.  Since we had to check out by 9:00 a.m., we didn't.

We drove up to Indian Lake for supper Friday evening since there were no restaurants in Blue Mountain Lake.  Bill had a generous chicken club sandwich and I had tempura shrimp served with orange ginger sauce and corn pudding.  The pudding was kind of like a savory custard with whole kernels of corn and green chilies.  It was great, once I got accustomed to the texture.

This is a view of the cabin we stayed in.  We had half of the downstairs portion of the cabin.  We wondered what the upstairs accommodations were like.

Breakfast was served in the main cabin and was scrumptious--scrambled eggs and mini soufles, muffins and waffles, sausage, bacon and meatballs; fruit and steel-cut oats with all the fixings.  We sat with a family from Rochester that had been coming to Prospect Point for four years.  Very nice people.

We were a little disappointed with the autumn leaves.  We were expecting bright reds, golds, oranges and yellows like the pictures you see of Vermont.  However, there were lots of trees that had already lost their leaves and maybe one in ten that had turned a modest shade of yellow or red.

One of the kitchen staff told us that the peak of color had happened last week, but that this wasn't a really good year.  A lot of the leaves got knocked off by all the storms over the past couple of weeks, so there just weren't many leaves left.  You can see some of them on the ground in the picture above.

There are so many lakes in Adirondack Park, that they started naming them by number--Eighth Lake, Seventh Lake, etc.  I think this is Fifth Lake.  You can get a better idea of the lack of color in these pictures.  But it was still beautiful.



Old Forge is a tourist town located in the southern end of the park.  It has many curio shops, antique stores, what-not shops and hardware stores--I counted three!  One is called the Old Forge Hardware Store and More.  And it really is.  It is huge, with lots of rooms and additions.  They sell hardware as well as gifts, gourmet food, log furniture,clothes, books, toys, kitchen wares including cookie jars, curios and what-nots.  This picture is of the yarn room which had all kinds of yarn from acrylic to merino wool, alpaca and whatever else you can imagine.  It was fun browsing, but I couldn't imagine a project that I would want to spend $8-$9 (and up to $25!) a skein on.
 The Touch of Ritz was a whirligig place with all their wares displayed outside.  There were animals, insects and fish and a small school bus, bicycles, motorcycles, windmills, etc., all with whirling parts set in motion by the wind.  It was fascinating, but I was reminded why I had always liked this sort of thing but had never purchased one--$75 seems like a lot to pay for a polyester toy that will probably only last one season.

When we got home Saturday afternoon, we drove out to the chapel in Oneida for a baptism and discovered that the last five miles of that trip was full of trees with the most beautiful autumn leaves!  Much prettier than what we had seen in Adirondack Park.  The color had developed since last Sunday and will probably be gone by next week.  We are surely enjoying them while they last.

It's been a wonderful eight years and we are looking forward to many more together.

Farmers Market



This is the Whitesboro Town Hall.  It was erected in 1807, as noted on the picture below of the plaque above the door.  Isn't it a great building?

Apparently, it was not built to be a town hall, as it was donated by the Honorable Philo White in 1860!

Across the street from Town Hall is the village green.  Whitesboro is a village, not a town or city.  Every Monday afternoon since early August, local farmers and artisans gather, set up booths, and have a Farmers Market.  You can't see this woman's big kettle very well, but she makes kettle corn and sells it for $4.00 for a small bag or $5 for a large one.  The one you see on the table is large, but the small isn't much smaller.  We buy a small one and it lasts us two days.  Yum!

This farmer has about 6 varieties of apples.  We bought about 5 pounds of Galas for $5.00.  They are smaller than most Galas that you buy in the grocery store, but they are very tasty.

This woman sets up every week, but I'm not sure she sells much--I haven't seen very many customers with money in their hands.  She has crocheted goods and baby clothes (you can see a display of burp rags).

This booth sells maple stuff--cotton candy is hanging on the left, bottles of syrup and bags of maple candy on the table.  We bought cotton candy a couple of weeks ago and the maple favor was delightful.

Now this is what we really came for: vegetables of every variety and we bought a head of savoy cabbage.  First one I've ever tasted.  It has a milder taste than regular cabbage, although the farmer told us it had a "bolder" taste.  We have made cole slaw as well as steamed cabbage and found it very good.  We also got bell peppers (50 cents each), beets (haven't had fresh beets for a long time), cucumbers, and Italian plums.  We have bought corn on the cob the last three weeks and it was to die for; not too mature and really sweet.  We've had fresh corn almost every night since we bought the first cobs.

We didn't buy any of these, but we were amazed to see that this is the way Brussel sprouts grow!  Who knew?
As you can see, we have eaten really healthy for several weeks.  The vegies are so fresh and good, we make entire meals out of them and have a hard time not over-eating.  There are several more venders, including two that sell goat cheese that is really good.  Unfortunately, Halloween will be the last time they will have it this year.  We will miss it and look forward to them resuming next summer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A little housekeeping


When we arrived in New York we moved into an apartment on Clinton Road.  It is in a very large complex that consists of more than 24 buildings and meanders over several acres.  They are called the Sadaquada (the accent is on the first syllable, secondary accent on the third syllable) Apartments.You can see two buildings in the next picture.  There are very large trees throughout the complex, as well as beautiful lawns and flowers.  We are in building 6, apartment A.  We think it is the nicest apartment we have had on our missions. We think the buildings are more than 40 years old, but they have been very well maintained. We are very happy here.



This is actually the building east of ours, but it looks very similar to ours.  I took this picture because the flowers and bushes in their front yard are beautiful, but they don't show very well in this picture.
When we moved into the apartment, the only furniture we had was two chairs and some bookcases in the living room; a table and two chairs in the dining room; a chest of drawers, two end tables and two twin beds in the bedroom!  The only overhead lights in the apartment are in the dining room and bathroom, so the two small table lamps in our bedroom were hardly adequate.  

But after two and a half weeks, the Riedelbachs finished their mission and were ready to head out on a vacation, visiting their kids in Sarajevo.  The Mission was closing out their apartment and opening this one for us (ours is only a mile from the office, the previous one was 10 miles away), so all of their furniture came over to our apartment.  Below you see the results!


We also bought several lamps.  This one has a paper shade that has a very Oriental feel.





As you can see, our kitchen is quite small.  However, we have lived with smaller!  You will notice that there is a dishwasher, which is a first.  Can you tell I'm happy about that?  And a full size stove!  Much better than a hot plate and a toaster oven.






After we had been here a month, we bought this kitchen island that we found at Wal-Mart.  It provided a place to put the microwave and storage for silverware and a lot of stuff that was sitting on top of the table.  Yeah!


We also got a king size bed which we put in the master bedroom (yes, it is a two bedroom apartment) for which we bought a beautiful pale gold bedspread with matching valances.  I tried to upload pictures of this lovely room, but blogspot wouldn't cooperate.  So, unless I find some excuse to put the pictures in a different story, you'll just have to be content with my description.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Staff Meetings

Every Monday that President and Sister Bulloch are in town, we have a staff meeting attended by the Bullochs, the Karlinseys and the Elders serving as Assistants to the President.  We have a thought and a prayer then talk about the upcoming week.  This week is transfer week.  Four new missionaries will be arriving Tuesday afternoon and the president and his wife will pick them up at the Syracuse airport and bring them back to Utica.  On Wednesday, all the missionaries who are being transferred will travel to their new areas.  We have a sister missionary from the Temple Square mission in Salt Lake who has been here for three months helping out the proselyting missionaries and will fly back to Salt Lake on Wednesday. Two missionaries who have completed their missions will be flying home on Thursday.  During this meeting while we were discussing all these matters, somehow the subject of transfer transportation came up and President Bulloch shared a story with us from the mission he served in the Montana Billings Mission when he was a young man.

He was flying all alone (they did that in those days) from Missoula, Montana to Casper, Wyoming.  The flight attendant on this flight was a beautiful young woman whom everyone was openly admiring.  He was tempted to take off his missionary badge for just this flight and flirt with her like all the other men were doing, but his conscience got the upper hand and he left his badge in place.  After she had finished her serving duties, she came and sat down by him!  Everyone looked at him, thinking, "Wow, what did he do to get her attention?"  He thought the same thing as well.

"You're a Mormon, aren't you," she said to him.  He said he was and she said she was too.  She told him she had sat down by him because she knew he wouldn't try to flirt with her; that she was very tired of the attention she got from the majority of men.  Then they talked about her husband who was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam, how lonely and worried she was, and how glad she would be when he got home safely.  Elder Bulloch was very grateful he had followed the promptings to be true to his commitment as a missionary.

A few months later, Elder Bulloch was transferred to South Dakota to the same town where this beautiful young woman and her husband lived.  Elder Bulloch then had the opportunity to teach the gospel to the husband and be instrumental in his conversion and baptism.  Every time he thinks about this incident, he thanks the Lord again for strengthening him in his commitments.

I love being on this mission.  It seems like every week we hear or participate in a faith promoting incident and are strengthened, too, in our commitments to the Lord.  We love you and hope you don't get tired of our preaching!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

High Priests Fireside

We were invited to attend a fireside tonight by the Utica Ward High Priests Group.  President and Sister Bulloch picked us up and took us to Dallas and Sandy Jones house for the fireside.  There were about six couples and four widows there.  Brother Jones led the discussion on prayer and it was a great evening.  At one point Sister Brady told about her baptism.  Sister Jones is in her late 80s and a convert to the Church.  She used to tell people that she belonged to the Church of the Spoken Word.  She listened to the Tabernacle Choir every Sunday for 50 years and she loved Richard L. Evans.  She decided after several years that she wanted to join that church.  So she finally walked into the Utica Ward and told the Bishop that she wanted to join the Church.  He asked her if she had received the missionary discussions and she answered, "What's that?"  So in due course, she was taught and baptized.  She said that for weeks before she was baptized, she prayed that Jesus would be at her baptism, that Brigham Young, David O. McKay and Richard L. Evans would be there.  After the baptism was over and she was going home, she said, "Hmmm, they didn't come," and was very disappointed.

Sunday came and she went to Sacrament Meeting and took the sacrament for the first time.  As she drank the water she heard a voice saying, "I am Jesus Christ, I am here."

Then she heard a loud, booming voice saying, "I am Brigham Young, I am here."

Then she heard a soft, quiet voice saying, "I am David O. McKay, I am here."

Then she heard heard a very familiar voice say, "I am Richard Evans and I don't have a spoken word!"

Several years later she met Sister Evans and told her this story.  It was the first time she had shared this with anyone.  When she got to the part about Brother Evans, Sister Evans said, "That sounds just like Richard!"

Palmyra

The Oneida Branch had a temple excursion to the Palmyra temple two weeks ago.  We got permission from President Bulloch and went with them.  It is a two hour trip from our apartment.  When we arrived, the temple president was addressing our youth in the baptism area on the blessings of temple work.  He told a wonderful story about a friend of his whose father had never joined the church.  He was a hard headed, stubborn German man who had avoided any discussion about the Church while he was alive.  After he had been dead for a number of years, she decided to have his temple work done.  Her Bishop and home teacher were in the baptismal font while she was watching on the side.  As these priesthood holders prepared to do the baptism, this woman saw her father standing on the other side of the font.  He was rocking back and forth, standing on his tip toes as though he was preparing to run.  After the baptism was completed, he looked across the font at his daughter and smiled.  She had been very anxious about having his work done because he had been so stubborn when he was alive, so she was elated that she was able to have this confirmation that he would accept the work. Bill and I helped with the baptisms, me handing out towels and him performing priesthood duties and we had a wonderful time.  We then went through an endowment session.

After we left the temple, we drove over to the Visitors Center near the Sacred Grove.  We went on a tour of the Smith family's log house, the frame house that Hyrum built for his parents, the coopers shop where Joseph had hidden the plates on a few occasions, and the barn.  There was a hollow Beech log in the barn that the family had used for a beehive which was quite impressive.  All in all, it was a very interesting tour.  It ended at the entrance to the Sacred Grove.  We walked through the grove again, resting occasionally and enjoying the quiet and the spirit that existed there.

While we were there, we met EmRee Moncur Pugmire's husband.  He was traveling on business and decided to take a few hours and see the grove since he was so close.  We had a nice visit about folks and relatives that we had in common.

We took pictures, but apparently something is wrong with our camera, because they didn't save to the disc.  Darn!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sad Week

Last week was a very sad week for our mission.  On Tuesday, August 30, Sisters Valerie Bentley and Natalie Love were in a car accident and Sister Bentley was killed.  Sister Love was driving on a highway with a 55 mph speed limit.  She turned left to pull into a driveway and didn't see the white SUV coming toward them.  The driver of the SUV didn't even have time to step on her brakes, she was so close, and crashed into the missionaries car still going full speed.  Sister Love suffered some broken ribs, a punctured lung and some cracked vertebrae which did not threaten injury to her spine.  We don't know what injuries the other driver received, just that they were not life threatening.  Sister Love has been released from her mission while she recuperates at home from her injuries.  It is anticipated that she will be gone a month to 6 weeks.


In the office we were informed of the accident not long after it happened, but we didn't know Sister Bentley had passed away until the next morning.  All the missionaries were informed by the President's assistants, but weren't given any details.  On Thursday, Amy sent me a link to a Deseret News article about the accident with most of the details, as well as some heart breaking interviews with Sister Bentley's family and friends.  It read in part, "Vanessa Bentley is the fifth of Steve and Debbie Bentley's seven children and the third to serve an LDS mission (her two brothers both served missions in Ecuador).
"She sort of stuck out in our family," said her faither, Steve. "She was blonde; the rest of us have dark hair."
Her father said she had "an infectious laugh and a beautiful smile, and a real way with people."
That ability was noted by a non-LDS woman in Ithaca, N.Y., who met Vanessa when she and her missionary companion served in the soup kitchen there. She wrote to Vanessa's parents to tell them how impressed she was with the kindness and compassion so clearly manifest through her service. "She said even the priest who was over the soup kitchen was impressed with Vanessa," her mother, Debbie, said.
A former high school basketball player ("she was tall and lanky," her father said), Vanessa worked for the BYU audio-visual department while she attended college. "One time I was watching a basketball game on BYU-TV and I saw one of the players run over Vanessa and her camera," Steve said. "I immediately texted her to see if she was OK. Within a few minutes they were talking to her live on the TV. She said, 'I just got a text from my Dad asking if I'm OK. So yes, Dad, I'm fine!' "
Rowberry says she remembers watching Vanessa wrestle with the decision of whether or not to go on a mission. "She had been talking about it for a long time, but when the time came to make the decision she considered it very carefully for a long time," she said. "But when she got the call, she couldn't wait to get out there. She loved the Lord, and she was excited to serve him."
And she was doing it well, Steve Bentley said. "Her mission president told us that she was a great missionary — humble, obedient and hard-working," he said. "She did everything she was asked to do, willingly. We just have to assume that Heavenly Father was in charge of this last transfer."

Neither Bill nor I had met this fine girl, but her passing affected all of us like she was family.  She was part of our mission family.  We were very busy taking care of details, phone calls, etc. Sister Love's parents came to take her home.  She was unable to fly because of the punctured lung, so they took the train home.  While they were here, Bill drove the three of them up to Ogdensburg where the sisters were serving and helped them pack up all the personal effects in the apartment.  I was going to go with them, but during the night we both got the impression that I shouldn't go.  We prayed about it the next morning, our impression was confirmed, so with the promise that we will drive up there in a few weeks (after the leaves start turning autumn colors), they went without me.  It was a good thing I didn't go because every inch of the inside of the van that wasn't occupied with people was packed tight with their belongings.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First "Real" Week

Our first week in the office went very well.  For me it has been a week of learning how to do the things I did in Japan the New York Utica way.  Even though the software has been drastically upgraded, the basics aren't that different.  Now it's just a matter of remembering where everything is and getting the computer letters, etc. up to a better way.  Sister Riedelbach is a wonderful person, but she freely admits the computer is not one of her strong points.

Bill, on the other hand, is almost starting from scratch.  The finance part of his job is totally different than what he did in Japan (he knew this was going to be so) and he never took care of the cars or apartments, either.  Not that he doesn't know cars, but this job has nothing to do with mechanics.  He will be selling cars, buying cars, dealing with all the details of getting damage and wear fixed (what? missionaries damage cars? No!), inspecting cars, and compiling reports from information the missionaries submit to him on their mileage and fuel usage.  No small job, he is discovering.  Thank goodness we don't have to change apartments very often, because he is going to be a very busy man.

Saturday we got some wonderful spiritual nourishment.  We went to the Zone Leaders Conference and got to listen to Elder David Cook of the Area Seventy preach for two hours without a break and it was wonderful!  He based his talk on D & C 4:2 "...O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength..."  He talked about the heart, defining it as worthiness.  He said there are two levels of worthiness: the minimum and the higher level.  The minimum is the rules outlined in the missionary handbook.  Then to illustrate the higher, he told about his experience in the Language Training Center (pre-dated the MTC).  He was learning Spanish to use in the New York mission and they spend 12 hours a day memorizing discussions.  By the time he was half way through, he wasn't making much progress, so he started getting up at 6:00 instead of 6:30 a.m. to study.  After a few weeks, he still wasn't making progress, so he started getting up at 5:30.  At the end of his training, all the missionaries were tested to see how well they had done with their memorizing.  A few got 100%, some got 90%, and so on.  He brought up the rear with 4%.  Memorizing wasn't his strong point.  It took him another 9 months to get the discussions memorized, but when he finally did it, he got the trophy (a toothpick missionary stuck in the top of an oatmeal box) for the best in the mission.  And how does that equate to a higher level of worthiness?  He put his heart into doing what was hard for him and learned what needed to be learned.  He also said he was a pretty poor student in high school--he went skiing 60 times his senior year.  "Do the math, elders!  There aren't 60 weekends in a year, much less a winter."  But after his mission, he became a straight A student.

The next principle was "might" which he defined as work.  He talked about the importance of hard work in missionary work and began quoting President Ezra Taft Benson.  President Bulloch interrupted him and said, "They know this, Elder Cook.  Would you like them to recite it?"  And all the missionaries got to their feet and began quoting, "I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work!  If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy.  there will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry.  Work, work, work," and here the missionaries put their heads down and pumped their fists and said "Work, work, work!" as loud as they could without shouting.  It was fun and impressive and moving.

Mind was defined as skills.  We use all the skills we have been blessed with and have developed to further the work.  Instead of taking the path of least resistance (giving service to members) we take the harder path and spend more time finding people to teach.

Strength was equated with urgency.  "Don't waste your time", he said.  "Faith requires sacrifice."  As you can see, we really enjoyed Elder Cook.  We had lunch with the missionaries and had a good time getting to know some of them.  I'm sure we will share more about them in future blogs.

As some of you may be aware, Hurricane Irene showed her face in New York today.  She didn't do any damage in Utica that we know of, but it started to rain in the middle of the night and continued throughout the day.  I think it stopped about 8:00 p.m., but I'm not sure; it gets quite dark by then.  The Weather Channel called it a light rain, but it seemed pretty heavy to us.  We had to use our windshield wipers on high as we drove to church today.  We also got some pretty heavy winds, but it quieted by the middle of the afternoon.  We were going to take a picture of us in front of our apartment today to include with the blog, but it really wasn't a good idea today.

We talked in church today.  Bill told some really great stories about missionary work and I gave the same talk I gave in Lovell before we left, since it was on missionary work.  We were told we would probably be speaking quite often since our branch is so small.  I guess we'll be using the skills we developed in Hong Kong when we had to speak on average twice a month.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Aaaaah! New York!

We arrived in Utica at about 5:00 p.m. eastern time, tired and happy to get out of the car.  Provo to New York is a long way.

We left Provo by way of Vernal and were pleasantly surprised by the pretty town that is Vernal.  They have gorgeous flower baskets and planters all along their main street, as well as beautiful parks and clean streets.  We attended the Vernal temple which is their old tabernacle that was remodeled into a temple several years ago.  The ordinance workers were very helpful when they found out that this was our first visit to their temple.  One of them told us that the inside of the tabernacle was complete gutted then re-structured into a temple and that when it was finished, it had cost twice as much as if they had torn the old building down and started from scratch.  Church officials then said, “Well, that’s the last time we’ll do that!”

We drove on to Laramie on Saturday and spend Sunday with Val and Andy and their girls.  The next morning we headed east.  We drove all the way through Nebraska to Lincoln, admiring corn fields and lots of green hills on our way through.  Neither Nebraska nor Iowa is really as flat as they claim, they just don’t have any mountains.  Wednesday we skirted south of Chicago on I-80 (thank goodness we didn’t have to go into the city) and across Ohio.  We missed Kirtland because we didn’t realize it was so close to the Interstate—none of the maps showed it.  We got as far as Erie that night, but never saw the canal!

Thursday we went to Niagra Falls.  Wow!  What a sight! And a wet one at that.  We took a tour on the American side and were not sorry.  We rode the “Maid of the Mist IV” almost to what felt like it was the base of the falls.  We got very wet in spite of the ponchos they gave us to wear.  Then we climbed to the “Cave of the Winds” which is an area very close to the Bridal Veil Falls and again, got very wet.  We drove down to an area where the river reverses itself into a giant whirlpool, then back into Niagra where we watched a 3-D movie with water effects (they sprayed water on us at appropriate times).  We probably walked and climbed between three to four miles and by the time we got to the movie, we were both dead tired and neither of us could remember anything about the movie after it was over!  But we really enjoyed the day

Our first view of the falls

We are at the top of the tower that holds the elevator that takes you down to the "Maid of the Mist."


We're on the boat getting close to the American Falls.

Closer...

This is the staircase to the "Cave of the Winds" as viewed from the boat.  You can see from the spray how close it is to the falls.

Way close!

Don't think we can get any closer than this.

We drove on to Rochester and met our cousin, Dick Johnson, for supper and got to visit with him that evening.  We had a lovely visit and the next morning got to meet his son, Rick, and granddaughter.

Palmyra was next on our itinerary.  We took so long saying goodbye to Dick that we missed the 11:00 a.m. session at the temple, so we participated in a sealing session and admired all the beautiful leaded glass windows throughout the building.  We drove to the Sacred Grove and had a nice walk and sat on a lovely bench to enjoy the beautiful day and feel the Spirit there.  Then we drove back into Palmyra and had lunch at the Akropolis Diner!

The Reidelbachs and President Bulloch and his wife were waiting for us at the mission office when we arrived.  They were all very happy to see us and after a few minutes, took us to our Apartment on Sadaquada Circle.  It is quite nice—two bedrooms, one bath, nice size living room/dining room and kitchen.  The laundry is in the basement and we have no garage or really, any place to park.  The roads around the complex are quite narrow and are considered fire lanes.  So we have decided to park in front and put our names on the waiting list for a garage.

Saturday we rested, unpacked, rested, shopped for food, rested, shopped for stuff we forgot on the first shopping trip, rested, did laundry, and rested.  Sunday Sister Reidelbach picked us up and took us to church in Oneida, a small town 20 miles from our house.  It is a small branch and I think there were about 25 people there today.  There was one deacon to pass the sacrament, assisted by one of the young missionary elders; and one child in Primary.  There is no one that plays the organ or piano, so they used the CDs of the hymns provided by the church.  Apparently the organ has some hymns programmed in, but there was no one there today who knew how to run it.
All in all, it has been an interesting, exhausting week and we are happy to be here.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Aaaaand, we're off!

Well, we finished up at the MTC last night.  Even though it was only 4 days of class, it was a very long week!  We were in class from 8:00 to 4:30 or 5:00 every day, and for those of us who haven't had to sit that long for a while, it was tough!  We both learned quite a lot.  The mission software the church has developed is lots better than it was 5 years ago when we were getting ready to go to Japan.  I'm looking forward to using it.
So this morning we loaded up and are headed to New York!  We decided to buy a new car before we left and you see us here with our brand new Camry, and yes, it really is that red!  We love it.

We traveled to Vernal and did a session in their beautiful temple.  It was a great experience.  The people were so helpful when they found out this was the first time we had been there.  This is the only temple in the church that is a renovated tabernacle.  It is really gorgeous.  We traveled up through Flaming Gorge after leaving Vernal and were really impressed with the geology.  Really amazing with lots of red cliffs and a beautiful lake.  We will travel to Laramie tomorrow (I know, short trip) and will spend Sunday with my brother Val, his wife Andy and girls, Miranda and Keisha.  Then Monday morning we will head for New York in earnest.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Missionary Training Center

We reported to the Provo MTC last Monday, August 1, where we were assigned to live downtown at the Marriott hotel.  Nice digs!  We eat our meals at the MTC with all the other missionaries.  We have spent this week going to meetings and classes, studying from the missionary handbook, Preach My Gospel.  We have really been spiritually fed.

One of the couples that reported with us on Monday has really been changed.  He seemed rather blase about everything and telling us about all the places they had been.  They sat by us in church this morning and while we were waiting for the meeting to start, he turned to me and said, "I can't believe how much time we have wasted just traveling around having fun.  If our mission in South Africa is as great at this past week, we are going to sell everything we have acquired in this life and spend the rest of our lives doing this!"  We all feel blessed.

This week we will spend 4 days learning office procedure, including computer basics (I know, but not everyone is as computer literate as we are), Microsoft Word and Excel, finance, newsletters, etc.  I'm sure the software has been updated since we were here 5 years ago, so I'm sure we will learn a lot.  We are looking forward to all of it.

We will leave Friday to drive to Utica and will take a week to make the trip.  That should be a fun post, huh?

Monday, July 25, 2011

We got our call!

We started the paperwork for this mission back in February, 2011.  We thought this would give us a little more time to prepare than we had for our previous missions (less than a month).  Well, what with medical issues, communication problems, and misunderstandings, our application didn't go to Salt Lake until about the 10th of May.  After problems with the mail, we received our call on the 11th of July, asking us to report to the Mission Training Center on August 1!  So we still have less than a month.  At least we still have our winter coats and boots from our Sendai mission.  So, we're leaving the 28th of July for Utah, planning to spend a few days visiting family.  We are starting to get excited!