Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stake Conference

     This weekend was Stake Conference.  It was really wonderful.  Saturday afternoon there was a Priesthood Leadership meeting and at the same time a Relief Society meeting.  Elder Yoon Hwan Choi (pronounced Chay) and his wife were the visiting authorities.  She spoke in the Relief Society meeting for almost two hours.  Unfortunately, there is no microphone in the Relief Society room and she was very soft spoken.  If I had realized that she would speak so softly, I would have sat on the front row as close to her as I could get; but instead I sat with Sister Sanders on the 3rd row at one end, just about as far away as I could be and even with my hearing aid turned up as loud as it would go, I still missed half of what she said.  But what I did hear was well worth hearing.  She spoke about the Primary, that the purpose of Primary is to help children on to the path that leads to Heavenly Father.  She said that the purpose of Young Women was to help them to prepare for the temple. And she said that the purpose of Relief Society was to enjoy the fruits of the first two!  She also talked about the differences in men and women, mainly, men are simple and women are emotional!
     About 30 minutes after the afternoon meetings, the adult session began--a lot of sitting, but again, worth it.  Elder Choi is an amazing man and speaker--very opposite of his wife--not at all soft spoken.  He began his talk by saying, "There were no general authorities from Korea.  I AM THE MAN!  And I am the most handsome man in the world.  How do I know that?  Because my wife tells me I am.  Come on up here, dear, and tell them."  Reluctantly, she comes to the microphone and says, "Yes, he is the most handsome man in the world."  He then goes on to talk about how important wives are to men and how important husbands are to women.  Then he tells us how he and his wife have a lot of fun together and how much she likes him.  Then he asks her to come back up and bear her testimony.  
     Again, reluctantly, she comes to the microphone and says, "I don't like him very much when he asks me to talk."  Then she continued on the theme of how important wives and husbands are to each other.  She said her neighbor had told her about a friend who was thinking about divorcing her husband.  Her husband was not nice to her and his family was mean to her and she had been patient with this situation for 20 years and she thought that was long enough.  Sister Choi was very distressed about this situation and wondered what to do.  She told her husband about the impending divorce and he said, "she shouldn't divorce him, she should be patient with him."  "But she has been patient for 20 years!  She thinks this is long enough."  "She should be patient more."  Then Sister Choi said to us, "Then I realized that I had been patient with HIM for 30 years!"  This brought the house down!
     Then she said she decided to go to the temple and see if she could get an answer.  All through the session she kept saying prayers that she would know how to help her friend.  No answer came.  Then at the very end of the session, it came.  "Your husband is one of the least."  Huh?  It came again, not to her heart, but words in her ear, "Your husband is one of the least."  Then she read Matthew 25:34-40 and I understood that she meant that any service she performed for her husband was done for the Savior.
     Elder Choi continued his talk by drawing a triangle, writing Jesus Christ at the apex, a figure of a man at one of the bottom angles and a figure of a woman at the other bottim angle.  Then he drew an arrow from the man to Christ and another arrow from the woman to Christ, saying, "As both the man and the woman draw close to Jesus, they become closer to each other." Then he drew lines parallel to the bottom line up the sides of the triangle showing how the lines got closer as the couple drew closer to Him.  It was a very effective visual for me.
     Sunday morning we picked up Sister Smith and Sister Castaneda and took them to Rome for the Sunday morning session.  This session was not held in the Stake Center because one of the counselors to the Stake President moved to Arizona last week and the new counselor was was sustained today.  They were afraid the stake center wouldn't be large enough to hold the congregation, so it was held in a school auditorium in Rome.  The new counselor is Brother Poland, who was released as Bishop of the Utica Ward about 3 months ago.
     Sister Choi spoke again (this time by assignment) and told the story of their 16 year old son who decided that he wasn't going to read the Liahona at family prayer in the evening any more.  This had been a family practice for a long time.  "I have a lot of really nice friends and none of them have to read the Liahona, so I don't want to any more.  Don't push me!"  So she didn't say anything, but began praying, "What shall I do to help my son?"  The answer she got was, "Wait."
     This went on for a month, so she decided to go to the temple.  This time the answer was, "Wait more."  "I don't like this answer!  I've been waiting for a long time.  I'd like another answer."  "Wait more."
     When she got home from the temple, her son was playing a computer game.  She got mad and said, "YOU..." and stopped.  She remembered her answer and decided not to say what she was going to say which was, you can't play computer games until you start reading the Liahona again.  Her son turned to her and said, "Did you want to say something to me?"  "No, enjoy your game."
     At family prayers, he still didn't read the Liahona with the family, but said to her, "Did you want to say something to me earlier?"  "No."
     The next morning, they got up as usual, got ready for the day, and she took her son to early morning seminary.  "What did you want to say to me yesterday?  Did you get an answer?"
     "You are always getting answers.  What was it?"
     "Wait more."  He looked at her and went to seminary.
     That evening he joined the family for reading the Liahona.  After family prayer, he said, "I decided you had waited long enough." and went to bed.
     Elder Choi told about his family's conversion.  He came from a large family--one brother, 7 sisters, parents and grandparents.  His father decided that the family should investigate Christianity, and it didn't matter which church they joined because they were all Christian.  He and Elder Choi joined the Presbyterian Church, his mother became a Methodist, and his sister joined other churches he didn't specify.  His younger brother who was 14 at the time, was the only one to join the Mormon church.  At Sunday dinner, they didn't have a peaceful discussion about Christianity, they argued!  Loudly!  Because the Christian churches weren't all the same.  But his father became concerned about his 14 year old son.  They had heard stories about the Mormons, their horns, many wives, etc. but they had never met one.  So the son invited the missionaries to come visit the family--one missionary was American, the other was Japanese.  At first the father wouldn't join in the discussions, but went into the other room.  After about an hour, he came out and quietly listened.  Eventually he joined the church, as did the rest of the family.  The father began sharing the Gospel with his extended family as well as friends, and many of them joined the church.  Some time later, during a District Conference, the visiting authority asked the father to stand.  Then he asked any member of the congregation that had been converted through the efforts of the father (who was a branch president at the time) to stand; 150 people stood up!
     Elder Choi continued to preach about the importance of sharing the gospel with our family and friends.  The auditorium where we were meeting holds about 1500 people, but there were only about 700 people in the congregation.  He said, "Next time you have a Stake Conference, bring your friends.  If you don't there is no reason to come to this large auditorium--the stake center is plenty big."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Elder Matangi and others...

After Elder Christensen left, Elder Matangi joined Elder Williams to serve as an AP.  He is of Tongan heritage and was raised in Logan, Utah.  We had a lot of fun with him for one transfer, then he finished his mission and returned home the middle of July.

Sister Pitts and Sister Childers were assigned to the Utica Ward early this year and stayed for three transfers.  They actually live in New Hartford which is a suburb right next to Whitesboro.  Sister Pitts was Sister Childers trainer.  We got to see quite a lot of them when they would come in to use the computers on Mondays to read (and write) their mail.  They treated us with chocolate chip cookies and brownies, so we treated them to lunch just before Sister Pitts was transferred.

Then Elder Becerrill joined Elder Williams.  Elder Becerrill is a good missionary and has beautiful manners--always opens doors for the sisters, waits till they have gone through the food line before he serves himself--you get the idea.  He is also lots of fun and Elder Williams continues to loosen up under his influence.

The other day Elder Williams got a letter and after he opened it, he came over to my desk and said in a stricken tone of voice, "Sister Karlinsey, if I ever get another envelope this size with girl's handwriting on it, I don't want to see it!"

"Why," I asked.  "What is it?"

He pulled out the contents of the envelope and gave it to me as he said, "A wedding announcement!"

"Elder, Williams, I didn't think you had a girl waiting for you."

"I don't, but I was hoping this one would still be available when I got home!"  Turns out he had dated her a few times, but they didn't have a serious relationship, and although he did like her, he was just jerking my chain.

Elder Huebsch (pronounced hip-shhh, hand striking hip then finger raised to lips; people don't forget how to pronounce his name when he goes through this routine) and Elder Hall have been serving in the Oneida area for three transfers now.  Elder Huebsch is fresh from the MTC and Elder Hall is his trainer.  Our branch mission leader made up a calendar which he posted on the bulletin board in Church for people to volunteer to feed the missionaries.  The only dates taken were one night a week and those were with the Sanders (the branch mission leader).  We were standing in the vicinity of the calendar and Elder Hall said to me, "Sister Karlinsey, wouldn't you like to sign this calendar?"

"Elder Hall," I explained to him, "even though we attend the Oneida Branch, we don't live inside the boundaries, and you know that you aren't supposed to leave your area boundary unless it is to attend mission meetings.  The only time I could feed you would be for lunch on Wednesday after your District Meeting, and I know that you often go to lunch as a District after your meeting is over."  Their District Meetings are held in the Utica Church building which adjoins our office.

"That's true," he said, "but not all the time."

"Okay," I said, "why don't you and Elder Huebsch come to lunch next Wednesday, and if the District decides to do lunch together, just let me know and we can move it to a different Wednesday."

The next day, Elder Hall and Elder Huebsch were in the office for their interviews with the President and Elder Hall said, "Sister Karlinsey, Elder Huebsch and I are doing a blitz with the Zone Leaders on Wednesday right after District meeting.  What shall we do about lunch?"

The following Wednesday was transfer day and we both knew that there was a possibility that either he or his companion would be transferred, so I said, "The Zone Leaders eat lunch, don't they?"

"I guess so", he replied.

"Okay, if you'll take care of inviting them, I'll make sure I have enough food to feed four elders."

"Deal!"  He was happy again.  So the picture above is of Elder Huebsch and Elder Hall, then the Zone Leaders, Elder Tingey and Elder Tibbitts.  We had a great time.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Goodbye Elder Christensen

After we said goodbye to Elder McCleve, Elder Williams became the new AP with Elder Christensen.  We are enjoying his quiet sense of humor.  Elder Christensen finished his mission a few days after this picture was taken the end of May.

Thomas and Elizabeth and boys come to visit

Thomas, Elizabeth and their boys spent most of the summer in St. Biarritz, France.  Elizabeth and the boys rested and played tourist while Thomas worked.  They stopped in New York on their way back home and stayed with us for a few days--we had a really great time!

One of the things we did was go to Lock 20 on the Erie Canal.  This is us with the control house in the background.  This is where the electrical controls reside.

We got to see the locks work while we were there--a first for us at Lock 20.  If you look close, you can see two vehicles in the water.

They are sheriff's deputies going down the canal in what look like over sized jet skis.  They were wearing their sheriff's uniforms with shorts--no swim suits.

There was a dock on the upper end of the lock before you get to either gate.  Ben and Sam had a lot of fun playing there, watching water fowl and bugs.

Next we went to Oriskany to the museum where the anchor of the aircraft carrier, USS Oriskany, is stored.  It was given to the town when the ship was taken to Florida and sunk to help stabilize the coral reef there.

 Big chain, isn't it, Ben?
Sam and Noah in front of this huge anchor.

This is one of the jets that flew from the aircraft carrier.  It is on the museum grounds not far from the anchor.

Next we went to the site of the Battle of Oriskany during the Revolutionary War.  This sign gives a nice summary of the battle.  We happened to be there on the 235th anniversary of the battle and the National Park Service was hosting a memorial of the battle.

 This monument looks a lot like the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., but it isn't as big
 There were a lot of people there in period dress for the commemoration.

They even shot period muskets during the ceremony!

The next day we went to Fort Stanwix, which is in the middle of Rome, located about 10 miles northwest of Whitesboro.  The church you see is behind the fort and not part of it.

 The fort was build during the French and Indian War in the 1750s, and abandoned shortly after the Revolutionary War, then it was restored a few years ago.  This is like the cannons used at the fort.

 Above is one of the buildings where the soldiers quarters.  Next is one of the fireplaces.

The visitor's center had some great costumes they let people put on--we got some great pictures of Noah and Tom, didn't we?

 These are the outside walls of the fort with a guard house in the background.  You can see the berm that provided some protection to the fort.  You can't see the sharpened logs (between 10 and 20 feet long) that were stuck out of the walls--they looked pretty wicked!
 This gate looks like it is a tunnel, but "hall between buildings" may be more appropriate.  The curved pieces you see on the sides of the hall are part of the machinery that raises and lowers the drawbridge.
 To the side of the drawbridge you can see the ditches that were dug to create the berm and provide added security for the fort.
This is one of the cannon balls that fit in the cannons pictured above.  Pretty small, weren't they?

Noah's birthday was a few days before they arrived, so we celebrated with a party--his third party so far.  This is the first cake-mix I have made since we got here and it turned out very different than the ones I make out west--the texture was courser and the frosting got very thick.  But we had fun and it got eaten regardless of the short comings.

We also went to the Children's Museum in Utica and had a great time.  It is located in an old building across from the train station.  It looks like an old hotel to me with a beautiful staircase leading up to the 2nd and 3rd floors.  Lucky for me, there is also an elevator that took us all the way up to the 5th floor.  After a quick look at the ground level, we took the elevator to the rest of the floors.

The train display was really interesting and Ben and Noah were fascinated.  The train in the foreground went round and round throughout the display.

Sam, Grandma Marilyn and Grandpa Bill also enjoyed the trains.

There is a live corn snake in this glass cage.  It is native to New York, non-poisonous and is related to the boa constrictor.  It is called a corn snake because his underside looks like rows of corn on a cob, and is about the same color.  His top side is more muted, darker color, probably for camouflage.  It eats live (or when in captivity, frozen) mice by swallowing them whole.  He gets fed once a week.  They had a video of him eating--amazing how wide his mouth would open.  All of the boys had the opportunity of holding the snake with oversight by the museum worker.  Ben said it was pretty cool.

This room also had a huge hairy tarantula spider, as well as a working beehive!  The hive had two glass sides so we could actually watch the bees work and they had their own little bridge from the beehive to the window where they were able to exit and re-enter.  We were impressed.

This was one of our favorite activities in the museum.  It was a musical/light game and whichever boy stomped on the most lit squares while the music played got the most points!  We enjoyed watching them as much as they enjoyed playing.

The time came when the Thomas Karlinsey family had to return to Utah and get back to real life again.  This was the morning before they left for Palmyra to see the temple and the rest of the Church History sites there.  Then it was on to Buffalo where they got on the plane.  We really enjoyed their visit and look forward to seeing them when our mission is over in February.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Changing of the Guard

     Friday, June 29, 10:00 a.m., the Bullochs arrived at the office with the Wirthlins in tow.  We have been looking forward to this event for several weeks with very mixed feelings.  We have really enjoyed working with the Bullochs and are sad to see them go, but had heard many good things about the Wirthlins and anxious to see if they were all true.  They are.  At 10:30 we shed a few tears and gave the Bullochs goodbye hugs then headed into the Stake High Council room where all the Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President were waiting.  For more than an hour and a half, we listened to the Wirthlins share a little of their history, the rest of us shared a little of our history and the meeting was opened to questions.

     The Wirthlins are both from Salt Lake City.  He is Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin's son.  They lived on the same street and she had to pass his house on the way to the corner grocery store where she bought Popsicles for five cents.  What she remembers is being afraid to pass the Wirthlin's house because of the big boy (he is a few years older than she) who chased her and threatened to take her Popsicle!  They got married after he served his mission in London, England.  He was a butcher in the family grocery business until he finished his degree in Agricultural Business Management and worked for Sysco and others.  She got a teaching degree and became a school counselor after getting her masters.  His work took them all over the world.  He went to work for the Church directing Facilities Management groups.  His last assignment was for 3 years in Germany.  They are both very outgoing, personable and pleasant people.  We are going to enjoy the last seven months of our mission as much as we enjoyed the first eleven.

     They invited us over for Sunday dinner--they didn't even have all of their boxes unpacked, but they were ready to entertain us and the APs.  Together she and I searched the kitchen for various utensils because it is a very large kitchen with lots of cupboards and she didn't have it all memorized yet.  We had roast beef and President Wirthlin share his secret formula for tender roast beef (marinated bottom round roast cooked slowly while you are gone to church); baked potatoes, Jello salad, corn and rolls with ice cream for dessert.  We had a wonderful time visiting and helping clean the kitchen until company arrived.  As we said goodbye, President presented us and the APs with a Lindt (or is it Linz?) orange chocolate bar direct from Germany.  I had forgotten how good real German chocolate is.

     Monday morning we had a short staff meeting then the Wirthlin's began their whirlwind tour of the mission.  They attended 13 district meetings, visited with every missionary, met some of the Stake officials in the mission, drove umpteen miles, and came home Saturday night still in good spirits.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Connecticut Wedding Reception

Our great-nephew, Benjamin Strobel, married Lecith Taylor in the Monterrey, Mexico LDS Temple the last day of May.  Ben's parents hosted a reception in New Haven, Connecticut, on the Yale campus.  With permission of President Bulloch, we drove to Connecticut Saturday, June 16, to attend the party.  What a fun time we had!
There were a lot of Mexican elements.

Luminarias lit the stairs to Kroon Hall which was on the 3rd floor of the building.
A Mariachi band joined the party!

They were really good! Everyone enjoyed clapping to the music and dancing.
The bride and groom here, enjoying the music.  Her brother is to the left of Lecith, and her parents are the tall man further left and the lady in the lavender dress.

Even the Karlinseys enjoyed dancing to the lively music!
Ben's sister, Sarah and her husband also enjoyed dancing.
Surprise! We didn't know that Eileen, the groom's aunt, and her son Marcos from Oakland,California, would be there. We had a lovely visit. 

 Sunday morning we went to church with the Strobels and the Taylors, then trooped over to the Strobel's for lunch. Scott took Bill on a tour of his wood shop and the house, showing all the wonderful projects he has made for the house. He has some beautiful wood that he has collected from the Yale campus, cured, then made bowls which he sells on the internet. We had fun visiting with Rebekah, the youngest daughter in the house, who is home from her freshman year at BYU, as well as Sarah, Ben, Lecith and her parents, Lynette and Scott (I can't believe that I didn't get a picture of them!) Turns out the bride's father is a great-great-grandson of Parley Pratt who was sent to Mexico to help establish the Mormon Colonies more than a hundred years ago. He had some fun stories to tell. We finally left in the middle of the afternoon to return to Utica. We were so happy to be part of this wonderful event.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Susquehanna River with the Bullochs

We have worked with President and Sister Bulloch since we got here last August.  He is a former Seminary/Institute Teacher and Director; she stayed at home and was a great mom to three children.  They began serving in July of 2009 and will be leaving in a few weeks.  They are extremely busy taking care of 100 missionaries, training, counseling, and leaning on the Lord in all they do.  We have managed to have them to our home for supper twice while we have been here.

They had been invited to go to the dedication of a monument that had been erected at the Joseph Knight Sr. home in Colesville, NY, and invited us to go with them.  We were very excited to go.

We visited the site where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored on the banks of the Susquehanna River.

A monument commemorating the restoration has been erected near the road that runs by the river.  It was produced by Avard Fairbanks.  

This tree (what is left of it) is very old--it may have been there when Joseph and Oliver were baptized in the river.  This was a very beautiful, sacred place.  We felt very privileged to be there with the Bullochs.
 We also stopped at the cemetery where Joseph and Emma's first child was buried.  The original headstone is the dark stone enclosed in the newer, marble headstone.
 The cemetery is located just south of the site where Emma and Joseph first lived after they were married.  The translation of the Book of Mormon was done in this house.  The home is gone and the foundation has been buried--too many people wanted a stone from the foundation for a souvenir.

 This is the foundation of the home where Emma's parents lived, just a short distance from Joseph and Emma.  You can see that it is surrounded by a very high chain-link fence.  We poked our camera through the fence to get this picture.

 Emma's parents, Elizabeth and Isaac Hale, were buried in the same cemetery where the Smith baby is buried.  These are their headstones and have been preserved like the baby's was, but the original stones are on the other side of the monuments here.
  It reads, "In memory of Arvin, infant son of Joseph and Emma Smith," with the date.  He died the same day he was born.  This was a very difficult time for both Joseph and Emma.  Martin Harris had taken the 116 pages of translation of the Book of Mormon to Palmyra to show his wife.  He was supposed to have returned right away, but it had been months and he still hadn't showed up.  Joseph wanted to go to Palmyra and find out what was wrong, but he didn't want to leave Emma so soon after her confinement.  But she encouraged him to, assuring him that she would be all right.  Palmyra is pretty far from Harmony, over 200 miles, which took many days to travel in those days.  It took driving there for us to appreciate how far it was.

This is the Joseph Knight, Sr., home in Colesville.  The couple is one of three couples that formed a company they call "Colesville Branch LLC," which purchases property in that area that is important in church history.  They erected this monument of Joseph and Hyrum as young men in the front yard of the home.

Joseph Knight operated a farm,a grist-mill, and a carding machine where Joseph Smith worked as a laborer.  During the translation of the plates, he furnished food and the paper upon which the original copy of the Book of Mormon was written.

A quote from the book, "Our Heritage" which we use when we study Church history: "Joseph Knight Sr. is also an example of those who willingly made sacrifices in the sale of their properties in order to join the Prophet in Ohio. His simple notice in the Broome Republican says much about his commitment to the gospel: “The farm lately occupied by Joseph Knight, situate in the town of Colesville, near the Colesville Bridge—bounded on one side by the Susquehanna River, and containing about one hundred and forty two acres. On said Farm are two Dwelling Houses, a good Barn, and a fine Orchard. The terms of sale will be liberal.”

The inside of the Knight home is a work in progress.  Below is a "Nanny Bench" from the period.  It is actually a rocker and the mother lays the baby behind the bars you can see on the front of the bench while she sits on one end or the other and snaps beans, pods peas, knits, etc. while the baby sleeps.  Pretty good idea, huh?

Above are some beams in the ceiling, we think they may have been original.

And this is the basement.  The pipes and wires are add-ons, as well as the electricity.  The stones on the left are part of the original basement/foundation.  The cement blocks are very new, replacing the wall that gave way and had to be replaced.

 Next we went to the Josiah Stoal home which is a few miles from the Joseph Knight home.  You may recall that Mr. Stoal was Joseph Smith's employer, and one of his enterprises was looking for a silver mine he was convinced was in the area.  He was a prosperous man and a good friend to Joseph.
 This is the front of the house with a plaque mounted on a stone.
 There is a statue of Joseph Smith holding an ax on the property to the left of the front door.
 Joseph proposed to Emma in this very room.

This was our last stop.  As you can see, the house of Squire Tarbell where Joseph and Emma were married is long gone and a high school athletic field has been built on the ground.  This sign was erected by the New York State Education Department and they didn't do their research very well, as you can see by the spelling of Emma's name.  But we are glad they acknowledge the importance of the site.