Wonderful Visit with Old Friends!

24 June 2017

We had a great farewell dinner Monday night for President and Sister Tate. All the full-time senior missionaries and the young elders joined together for a pot-luck dinner and program at a nearby stake center. Earlier, every missionary was given an opportunity to submit individual thoughts, memories and good wishes for the Tates. Then, they were all compiled into a hard-bound book for them. I heard they were up until 1:30 in the morning looking through it!
 They’re wearing leis because the evening was billed as an “Aloha” dinner.

Just prior to the farewell dinner we had a wonderful visit from Rich and Donna Sheen. Rich is one of the missionaries who taught us in Berlin, Germany, back in the early 1970s. And, he’s the one who baptized me. We love him so much!! It was great to visit with him and his sweet wife, Donna! They could only stay a couple of hours, but, we’re making plans to visit them at their home in Texas on our way back to NC next summer.
I only have this one, lo-res, blurry photo of us on our baptism day in Feb 1972. Rich is on the left, then us, and then, David Owen, the other missionary who taught us.

And here we are, 45 years later! (We’re glad Donna took this picture, but, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take one of the two of them.)

Payson Temple / New Missionary

17 June 2017

Since I didn’t get a post written last week, I’ll start by mentioning the wonderful trip we took, with several others in our zone, to the Payson Temple, last Saturday (June 10). I think it’s my new favorite temple!! I posted some photos on Instagram, but will repeat them here, too.
What a fabulous place, and, the spirit was so strong, it was amazing!

We had another great mission conference this week. Brother Richard Turley, managing director of the Church public affairs department was the speaker. While he said several interesting things, something that stuck with me was what he related about the story of Nicodemus. Do you remember that story in the New Testament — of the Jewish ruler, Nicodemus, who wanted to know more, and went to see Jesus by night to talk to him? (Because of his position, he didn’t want anyone to know he was with Jesus, so he went under cover of darkness.) Bro. Turley said that, in Greek, the word that is used for “by night” is very specific, and means that the action taking place begins and ends within the specified time. Because of that we know Nicodemus went to Jesus when it was dark, and also left in the dark. In this case the spiritual seems to match the physical actions of Nicodemus. He was in the presence of the Savior, the Light of the World, and, yet, he refused to receive that light. (Later accounts of his actions give us hope that he may have become a believer at some point – but, not that night.) It was interesting to go back and read the account in John 3 after hearing Bro. Turley’s talk.

We are feeling blessed! Yesterday, we finally got another full-time missionary in our zone! (Woot!!) It’s been almost five months since we were assigned any new missionaries – yet, we kept losing some we had (because of people completing their missions). We’re excited to have Sister Nickle in our zone, and hope this is the beginning of a trend.

In President Tate’s talk at the “Go Forth” meeting, yesterday, he mentioned a verse in the Old Testament, Ezra 7:10, that he said tells us everything we need to know about serving the Lord. It says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek for the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” — 1. Prepare your heart / 2. Seek (to know and understand) the law of the Lord / 3. Do it (obey) and, / 4. Teach others.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to serve in this mission, and especially to serve with a good man like President Warren G. Tate. We will miss him when he leaves the end of this month.

Our First "Great One" - and, Park City

3 June 2017
The big news this week is that our granddaughter, Ryan, had her baby on Sunday, May 28th! Arriving at 7 lbs, 15 oz, this sweet girl appears to have stolen hearts already. The photos we’ve seen are precious and we can hardly wait to meet little Kyan Milani Harris, although she will be more than a year old before we see her face-to-face. (Hard to believe we're great-grandparents!)

Last Friday afternoon, (for Memorial Day weekend) we drove about 30 miles up the mountain from SLC to Park City. It’s beautiful—majestic and serene—but, I don’t see how people live there year-round. I prefer living somewhere that does NOT get 25 feet of snow every winter.

Because it’s such a predominantly tourist area, they have a Visitor’s Ward in Park City that we attended on Sunday. We were astonished at how many people were there. It looked like a stake conference! (And, we were told it’s that full most weeks.) Plus, we even ran into some people we know. President and Sister Hansen, the 1st counselor in our mission presidency and his wife, were there. (They said they just needed to get away, and had spent most of their time sleeping.) We also saw Brent and Celine Godfrey and their family. They used to be in the Cary Ward with us. Since they moved to Utah 12 years ago, they have a family gathering in Park City every Memorial Day weekend. It was fun to see them again. 

In the downtown, historic, part of Park City, the Church has a Family History Center that was put up in preparation for the 2002 Olympics – and even now, they said they get about 20,000 visitors a year. It’s beautifully designed, with some very engaging displays.

We had fun touring the Olympic Park, as well. Here’s a pic of us in one of the bobsleds.
It was nice to have that little break—and now we’re back to our usual routine.

We were in the Salt Lake Temple yesterday, waiting in the hall outside the sealing rooms to do some family file sealings, when Elder David A. Bednar walked by, right in front of us. Evidently, he was there to perform a live sealing of a young couple.

Our mission is having a special fast this Sunday for more missionaries to come to serve in our mission. Our numbers keep dropping, though there is still plenty of work to do. . .

Memorial Day Memories

28 May 2017

Today, I’ll share a memory. When I was a young girl, we didn’t call the upcoming holiday, Memorial Day. Instead it was called Decoration Day, because people would decorate the graves of loved ones who had died, especially veterans. There was always a parade through town and the high school band would march, etc. Then, we would usually drive the hour-and-a-half from Union, to Laddonia, Missouri to visit the cemeteries and lay the wreaths. (My brother still took my Mom to do that every year until just a couple of years before she died - then, she insisted he do it without her.)

Growing up, in most of the dime stores and general stores, there would be rows and rows of styrofoam wreaths and crosses covered with plastic flowers and a large ribbon, so people could buy them to put on the graves. (Do they even make those anymore? They sure weren’t environmentally friendly, and most of them were kind of ugly.)

Funny thing is, shortly after my husband and I were married, while he was finishing his bachelor’s degree, I worked in a factory in Boliver, Missouri, called Teter’s Floral Products. It produced those plastic wreaths for grave sites. Sometimes my job was to staple the cardboard boxes together. For that, I stood in front of a machine, folded in two edges of the box, and used a foot petal to put staples in the folded ends. Then, I'd flip the box and do the other side. Except, the staples came out two in quick succession (Ka-chunk, ka-chunk) so, the trick was to get the first staple in, then move the box across fast enough so the second staple secured the other end - and didn’t end up in the middle of one of the sides. My hands were really cut up and raw from doing that job. These were assembly line jobs, and, at other times, I would attach the wreaths to the inside of the box. For that I would stand at a big machine that ran a huge staple up from underneath. I positioned the box with the wreath inside over the staple head, and I had some sort of wooden tool that I pressed the top of the wreath with, so when the staple came up it would secure the wreath to the box. We put two large staples in each – one at the top and one at the bottom. But, I didn’t have to work quite as fast as with the box stapler. Each staple came up individually, giving me more time to reposition the box for the second staple. Amazingly, while I worked there, we were so busy, they were always asking us to work overtime!
I was only there a few months, and never developed the speed of most of the other workers. I was happy when Bob graduated and I could leave that job.

Since we often remember veterans on Memorial Day, I’ll explain here why neither my father nor either of my grandfathers were veterans. (However, my husband’s father was. He served in Greenland in the Army Air Corps during WWII.) 

My grandfather Wade died in 1916, (before the “Great War”) when my father was only 3 yrs. old. However, had he lived, since he was in his 40’s and had a ranch, he probably wouldn’t have been called to serve. He would have been needed on the ranch. 

My Grandfather Haycraft had a large farm and the food he produced was needed, so he was never drafted. (I do have a copy of his draft registration, though.)

WWII came along about the time my father was of an age to serve, but, when he had his physical, they thought they saw something on his lungs, so he was exempted. (There never proved to be any physical problem, though. It was probably a fault with the equipment. But, that’s why he didn’t serve.) He did spend some time in the CCCs, but, so far, I haven’t had any luck finding the records that would tell me exactly where he served with them.

We do have several veterans in the family, though. My brother, E.F., was in the U.S. Air Force in Germany in 1961 when the wall went up. (We all rejoiced when it came down in 1989)

My brother, Jim, was in the U.S. Army and earned a purple heart in Vietnam, but he never wants to talk about it.

My husband served in the U. S. Army, and, our oldest son, Bob, was in the U.S. Navy.

I am grateful for the freedoms we have in America (freedoms that made it possible for the gospel to be restored in these last days) and for the men and women who have fought to preserve those freedoms. Today, many of our religious freedoms are at risk, and each of us must do all we can to preserve them.

Finally Made it Back to the Logan Temple

20 May 2017

We loved getting to talk or text with some of our family on Mother’s Day! Sometimes, it already feels like we’ve been gone a really long time – although it’s only been 9 months.

This week we sent in a short video we were asked to make by our home stake. So, those of our friends and family who are in the Raleigh South Stake may catch a glimpse of us as part of a combined video they’re preparing for stake conference in early June. (I assume it will be shown at the Saturday night session, June 3.)

On Tuesday, we attended our monthly mission conference and Elder J. Devn Cornish, of the Seventy, was our guest speaker. Elder Cornish mentioned several things, but, in part of his talk he said that although obedience is the first law of heaven, it’s not the last. There is another, better way. He referred to John 8: 28-29. These verses describe how Christ was always obedient to the Father, and that he also always did “those things that please Him.” (He also made this point in a talk a few months ago) There is such a difference between doing things because we think we HAVE to — that we’re compelled — and doing them out of love. If we love our Father in Heaven enough that our desire (our behavior) is to please Him, we are living the law of consecration.

Elder Cornish gave an interesting example. Suppose we have a teenage daughter and she comes downstairs ready to go to a dance, but is dressed in a way that does not represent the best standards. If we approach her with something like, “Do you think that’s the right thing for you to be wearing?” – we will likely end up in what he called a “Law of Moses” discussion. (How many inches? How high is too high, or low is too low? etc.) But, if, instead, we gently say something like, “Have you and your Heavenly Father had a conversation about whether this outfit is pleasing to Him?”, we would be encouraging her to act according to her relationship with her Heavenly Father. 

Of course, a foundation for that kind of discussion would need to have been laid – but, if we act from a position of love, and can teach our children to act based on their love for their Heavenly Father (and His love for them) and their desire to please Him – rather than just following rules — how much better than ending up in arguments about “how many inches.”

We also got to attend a special Family History Department Spring Devotional this week. Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy (from New Zealand) was the main speaker. He started out by saying how glad he was to see that there was an interpreter there signing for the deaf. He said he has a grandchild who was born deaf. Then he paused, looked at the interpreter and asked, “Are you getting my accent?” (LOL) Of course, he then gave an interesting and inspiring talk about baptism for the dead. (Referencing 1 Peter 4:6 and John 5:25, among other scriptures.)

Yesterday, we finally made our way back to the Logan Temple, where we were sealed on April 18, 1973. It’s the first time since then that we’ve been back, and it was lovely! We went with Lillemor and Loren Hubbard and really enjoyed the trip.

Interesting Week

13 May 2017

This week started out kind of rough. As senior missionaries, a typical day involves about 8 hours of service. (That probably doesn't sound like much to some people, but, at our age, it feels like plenty.) However, Tuesday turned into a 13-hour day! (long story)

It has been improving each day since, though, and I’ve received some great Mother’s Day cards and gifts – plus some priceless pictures, hand-made by a few of our grandchildren! :-)

A funny thing happened Monday night. We had a joint Family Home Evening with missionaries from other parts of the mission, and, near the end of the evening, one of the sisters asked me, “What country are you from? You have such an unusual accent.” LOL!! (What!!?) 

I got to do some family-file sealings on Wednesday, and loved the sweet feeling that always comes with that. There’s nothing else like it.

Thursday, we had lunch with our friends, LouAnn and Randy Brady. It was great fun to visit with them and catch up on things back in NC. The time went by too quickly!

We’re excited for our daughter-in-law, Amanda, who is graduating with honors from NCSU today! (Wish we could be there to celebrate with the family.) She has a full scholarship to continue her studies at UNC this fall. Geology is her field. She loves rocks!

And, congratulations also go to our granddaughter, Sophia, for being inducted into the National Elementary School Honors Society! Woohoo!!

Yesterday afternoon we got to take a tour of the Church’s Humanitarian Center. I’ve been wanting to see this for years and am glad we finally did! The Church helps so many people, in so many ways, all over the world. It’s amazing! 

For Mother’s Day, President Tate has asked us senior missionaries to volunteer our mobile devices so the young Elders will each have a chance to do a facetime, skype, or hangouts call with their families. (They’ve just done regular phone calls before this — no video.) We have two young Elders calling from our place early in the a.m. and another set who will be here later in the p.m.  Between us we have two mobile phones, two laptops, and an iPad, so they can contact their families with whichever service works best for them. The four Elders who will be here tomorrow all serve in our zone, so we know them pretty well. We definitely have a special place in our hearts for each one of the young men serving here.

So far, on this mission, I find there are two things I wish for: that someone else would make dinner every night, and, that I could eat anything I want and still be healthy and not gain weight! LOL!! (Ahhh, fantasies!) Oh, well. . .  :-) 

We’re blessed to be serving in this mission with all the wonderful people who are here and are grateful, as always, for the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and for His precious atonement.