It's Frosty and Cold

9 Dec 2017

We can’t really say we’ve enjoyed this week of temperatures in the 20’s, but we’ve gotten to attend some great events, nonetheless. Brrr!

The Family History Department (FHD) had their annual Christmas Devotional and lunch for all the employees and missionaries who work here in the FHD. Elder Bradley Foster, a General Authority Seventy, who is the Executive Director of the Family History Department presided at the meeting, and Steve Rockwood, Managing Director of the FHD, conducted. We heard from two of the seventies who serve as associate directors in the FHD, Elder Edward Dube from Zimbabwe and Elder Eduardo Gavarret, from Peru. It was interesting to hear of their backgrounds as well as their testimonies. And, at one point, Elder Gavarret had us all sing a delightful and lively Christmas song from Peru. (We did really well on the La La La La La parts – not so much on the lines of Spanish.) :-)

Last night we went to The Piano Guys concert. (This is what I gave Bob for his birthday) It did not disappoint! They’re such amazing and innovative musicians! Their special guest was Lexi Walker. She sang that beautiful rendition she does of "O Holy Night" sung to the tune of "Ave Maria." It’s fabulous! And, they ended the show with the song they wrote that is a compilation of "Fight Song" and "Amazing Grace" – with a dozen bagpipes on stage backing them up. Loved it!

It’s hard to believe Christmas is just over two weeks away. And, even harder to believe that I will be in NC for Christmas! I’ll be there from Dec. 23 until very early in the morning on Jan. 2. It actually seems weird to be leaving the mission. But, I’m glad the mission presidency were flexible enough to allow this trip. Hopefully, I’ll be useful for Susy and her family. A lot depends on when the baby actually arrives.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

2 December 2017

This week I ran across an online article (no author was given) that included a paragraph I love. So, I’m sharing it here. The article was aimed at Family History Department employees, but, I think this applies to all of us. It said: “As members of the Church, we have a divinely appointed responsibility to search out our ancestors and perform sacred temple ordinances in their behalf. Our vision is to safely gather our families as families on both sides of the veil, healed by the Atonement [of Jesus Christ] and sealed together in the temple." 

The concept of families on both sides of the veil who are healed by the Atonement and sealed together in temples is so sweet to me!

On another note: I mentioned in a previous letter that I’ve been taking the Family History Library training. The other day I was in the library for a review of one of the lessons and the woman I was working with saw my name tag and said, “Crenshaw. Do you have a son who served a mission in the area around Park City?” I answered, “Yes. In about 2000, our son, Mike, served in that area when it was still part of the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission.” Her name is Sister Matthews and she was pretty sure she knew Mike. That was fun.
I know some of you saw my posts on social media about the cool #LighttheWorld vending machine that’s in the lobby of the building where we serve. (Joseph Smith Memorial Building) What a great idea! I know there are other non-profits I could search out online who provide these same things to those in need (goats, chickens, food, clothing, etc.), but, it’s wonderful to make giving to others so easy and convenient!

And, for all the Harry Potter geeks - we saw something unexpected at a Christmas market on Friday afternoon. One of the booths claimed to represent a "real" wizarding school. One of the signs even says you can have your wand tested. (It seemed very incongruous among all the festive Christmas booths.)

We're enjoying all the music and decorations of the season that are all around us. There are daily concerts in both the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and in the Church Office Building. And, you can't beat the lights all around Temple Square!

Thanksgiving 2017

25 November 2017

Oops! Here it is Saturday night and I just realized I didn't send my usual Saturday morning letter. This long Thanksgiving break feels like we've had three Saturdays in a row - so I guess that has thrown me off. 

Our Thanksgiving has been pretty low-key - though we did take a couple of hours on Friday to visit a special Harry Potter Christmas Shopping Experience at a mall in Sandy, Utah. It was fun to see.

Today, I did some more sewing, and then, tonight we enjoyed a Christmas-themed performance by the American West Symphony and Chorus. They had a short sing-along at the end of the concert that was fun!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a record high here of 71 degrees! Then, by the end of the week they're predicting snow. :-/ I supposed before long we'll be wearing all our winter gear every day.

I'm looking forward to all the #LightTheWorld initiatives the Church is encouraging this Christmas season. Its such an inspired program!

Star of David

18 November 2017

It’s been another busy week, here.

Thursday night a group of women from our branch went to the Humanitarian Center and tied quilts. We’ve been doing this twice-a-month since July and have completed 39 quilts. Of course, there’s no way to know where the quilts are sent once they're finished, but, we know they are sent to people in need somewhere in the world.

We had a really interesting Sunday School lesson this week. (Our missionary branch doesn’t follow the same lessons as the rest of the Church. The mission president chooses the topics.) This past Sunday the lesson was based on an April 1985 conference talk by President Howard W. Hunter called, “Christ, Our Passover.”

One of the missionaries serving here grew up in the Jewish faith and the teacher asked him to share some things with us about the meaning and practices of the Jewish faith around Passover. I expect that most latter-day saints are familiar with much of what he told us, but he gave us a handout that was particularly interesting – because Bob and I had never been introduced to the meaning of the Star of David before. Here’s a copy of what was on his handout:
(My note: This breakdown is a little confusing because it doesn’t literally represent Jacob’s 12 sons. Ephraim and Manassah were Joseph's sons [Jacob's grandsons]. However, Joseph received a double portion of inheritance and it was divided between his two sons. The Bible says that Reuben [Jacob and Leah's oldest son] originally received a double share of land because he was the oldest, but he lost this birthright due to immorality. Then, the double portion went to Joseph, who was the oldest son of Jacob and Rachel. So, Joseph is represented by Ephraim and Manassah in this graphic. Levi [Jacob and Rachel's youngest son] is not represented because he was not given a land inheritance due to his unique ecclesiastical role.)

He showed us a beautiful, velvet pouch that was embroidered in gold with the Star of David. The pouch contained his prayer shawl, his yarmulke, and this folded piece of paper describing the meaning of the Star of David. It made me think about what we carry with us that are constant reminders of our faith. Mostly, I think, they are not so much physical things (though, there are some) but they are the things we carry in our hearts — treasured, daily reminders of who we are and of our relationship to God.

I am truly grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for Christ’s atonement, and for the blessing of being able to repent and draw closer to the Savior through the help of the Holy Ghost.

It's the Basics that Count the Most

11 November 2017

Happy Veteran’s Day! I’m so grateful for those who have and do serve to protect our country. Neither my father, nor either of my grandfathers served in the military, but I have two brothers, a husband and a son who have served in the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. One of my brothers was in Germany when the wall was erected in 1961 and the other earned a purple heart in Vietnam. My prayers go out to all our servicemen and women.

This week, President Fenn shared a story with us about a time when he and his wife had a near-miss run in with an alligator in South Carolina. (Did you know that the average length of an adult alligator in the U.S. is 14 feet?) It reminded me of a talk Elder Boyd K Packer gave more than 20 years ago about spiritual crocodiles. There are so many spiritual dangers we cannot see – we must be constantly on our guard. Our only safeguards are scripture study, prayer, obedience, and a heart turned to Christ. It is sticking to the basics that matters most.

Also. in another talk Elder Packer gave several years ago, I remember him saying that we will not survive spiritually unless we know how to receive personal revelation.

I have begun taking some classes at the Family History Library that I hope will make me a better researcher. There are a series of 17 lessons that are provided for all the missionaries who serve in the Family History Library – to help them know more about how to use the FHL collections so they can help patrons with their searches. They have opened those classes up to any missionary here, not just those serving in the library, so I’ve begun working on them. After the initial, introductory class, all the lessons are on-line. Then, once you’ve completed a lesson, you schedule an appointment with someone on the library staff to review what you’ve learned. I’m learning lots of good things!

Whatever struggles you may have, whatever doubts may trouble you, hold fast to the Savior, and he will bring you through. 100% of the time. We seldom know how things will turn out, but they will all work out for our good if we put our trust in Him. I know this to be true.

Saw An Interesting Film

4 November 2017

This week we lost four of the dear missionaries in our zone, but we also gained four, so the size of our zone remains at 37 for now. A CSM couple that we got yesterday are Elder and Sister Hinckley, but, we forgot to ask them if they are related to Pres. Hinckley.

We saw the animated film, “Loving Vincent” yesterday, and really enjoyed it. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a film about Vincent Van Gogh. But, unlike the processes used for creating most animation, every frame of this film is an oil painting - and most frames were painted in Van Gogh’s style. (There are some flashback sequences that are more representational and done in grayscale.) More than 100 artists worked on this project. I read somewhere that they would paint a canvas, film it, then paint the next frame over that canvas. The colors and textures are beautiful.

Today we’re going to the Brigham City, Utah temple, about an hour’s drive north of us. A few others in our zone are going with us. After today, we will have been in every temple but one that is within our mission boundaries. The Jordan River Temple is still closed for renovations, but will reopen late next spring, so we’ll get to attend that one before we go home.

I took this picture on my way to the office yesterday morning. They were testing the Christmas lights around the conference center.

Since we set our clocks back to standard time this weekend, it will soon be lighter when we go in each morning.

Taking in Some Local Culture

28 Oct 2017
One of the senior missionaries in our zone was telling us about an unusual name she found in her family tree the other day –The ancestor lived in England in the early 1700s, and her name is Thankful Poop. No kidding!
We’ve had a full and busy week in the mission, and spent some time relaxing this weekend at the annual Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Heber City, Utah. We enjoyed a wonderful concert featuring a long-time Western band, Riders in the Sky. (Reminded us of the kind of music we used to hear performed by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers when we were kids. If you own the movie, Toy Story 2, they performed “Woody’s Roundup” on that soundtrack.) Then, we had tickets for the first session of Just Cowboy Poetry. It was also great. However, since neither us of were raised on a farm or a ranch, we have no experience with some of the more intimate tasks involved in animal husbandry, and some of the jokes went right over our heads. Of course, there were lots of vendors, western art, western wear, etc. too. We’re loving taking in the local culture! :-)
                  Riders in the Sky                           
                                           part of the Mountain Men exhibits
This morning we’re meeting our friends, Loren and Lillimor Hubbard, and going to Antelope Island, on the Great Salt Lake, for the annual Bison Roundup! This is one of the nation’s oldest and largest public bison herds. Evidently, hundreds of horsemen from around the area sign up to ride in this, and they drive nearly 700 bison from other parts of the island to holding corrals in an area near White Rock Bay.
Once all the bison are in the corrals they let them rest there for five days so they are more relaxed and “de-stressed.” Then, they vaccinate them and do health screenings.
In order to keep the herd within a size that the habitat on the island can support (given other animals that are also there, and the amount of vegetation/food supply) some of the herd are released back onto the island and others are sold at auction. Since about 100-150 bison are born into the herd each year, they try to keep the number they release to about 550.
Tonight, is a complete change of pace, as we attend the fall concert of the Orchestra at Temple Square in the Tabernacle. We're going with President and Sister Hansen, who were just released from our mission presidency this week. They go home in mid-November and this will give them time to help the new counselor and his wife get a little training before they leave. We've really loved working with the Hansens and will miss them - but, we think President and Sister Thornock will be great, too.