Enjoying the Fall Colors

Saturday 14 Oct 2017

With the weather turning colder we've added a blanket to the bed and have needed to bundle up a bit more for the morning walk to the office. But, we've resisted pulling out the winter coats. Adding scarves and gloves to our fall jackets has worked so far.

Seems like fall is a little more colorful this year than last. Perhaps the cooler weather is responsible for that.

Someone gave us tickets to a live performance of "An American in Paris" playing at a nearby theater this afternoon. We're looking forward to that.

The gospel is true! And, Heavenly Father loves us all!!

The Lord Has Need of Willing Hands

6 Oct 2017

I was deeply moved by the eulogies spoken at Elder Robert D. Hales funeral yesterday. It is touching to see the great love the Brethren have for each other.

Some tidbits from this week:
Between sessions of General Conference on Sunday, they showed a short, 5-minute video that tells about the preservation of records in Sierra Leone. Once these records are filmed they are sent to the Church Office Building, and some missionaries in our zone process them so that the data can be available for others. (One brother in our zone worked on some Sierra Leone records this week.) 
If you haven’t already seen it, you might find this interesting:

We also had a sister tell us that in some places where our camera capture operators are, government officials are literally taking the paper records away as soon as they’re captured and burning them! The officials are constantly going to those camera operators and saying “Are you finished with this stack? We need to burn them.” So, there’s not even an opportunity to redo something if it isn’t in focus – it’s all they can do to keep ahead of the people trying to get rid of the records! It’s hard to imagine!

On another note, one couple who spoke at our Monday Mission Devotional told us that this is their fourth mission. Then, they said they were the most surprised when they got their very first mission call letter. In that letter, they were told they were going to prison! Their calling was to serve in a men’s prison. Amazing! Kudos to them!!

We’re enjoying some beautiful fall weather and yesterday after work we explored a fun little shopping village in West Jordan called Gardner Village.

Looking Forward to General Conference!

30 Sep 2017

Why is it so much harder to get out of bed on a chilly morning? I just want to snuggle up under those covers and pretend it’s not morning – and, it’s not even winter yet! But, then, I think of our mission motto – “I will greet each day with love in my heart, a smile on my face, and gratitude for all of my blessings” – and, up I get. 😊

Last weekend’s women’s session of general conference was wonderful and we look forward to hearing the inspired words that will be available to us this weekend – for the rest of conference. Bob and I have tickets to be in the conference center on Sunday morning and will stream it live for all the other sessions since we don’t have a TV.

On Wednesday, we were walking toward the Church Office Building and saw the General Relief Society President, Sister Jean Bingham. She has such a radiant smile! She’s lovely.

Bob enjoyed all the cards, facebook greetings, etc. for his birthday last week. I got him tickets for us to see The Piano Guys when they perform here in December.
We did a bunch of family temple sealings Thursday and it was amazing! We know these families have been waiting for their work to be done and we felt such a wonderful spirit there. 

Earlier in the week, a couple who serve with us went to do some family sealings, and the sealer said, “We have some of President Monson’s family cards here, would any of you like to help with those?” Of course, everyone in the room volunteered!

We’re looking forward to hearing the messages of General Conference this weekend!

Fall is in the Air

23 Sep 2017

Today is Bob’s birthday (the big 7-0). He’s treating himself to a massage, and then he’ll get his cards (and a couple gifts) after lunch. Since tonight is the women’s session of General Conference, and I have a ticket to be in the Conference Center for that, we’re going out for lunch to celebrate his birthday.

In Salt Lake City, they begin hanging Christmas lights on the trees, in and around Temple Square, on the first of August - because it takes 3 ½ months to put them all up. But, imagine our surprise when, earlier this week (on Sep 18) we entered the Assembly Hall for our mission’s Book of Mormon conference, and saw this:
The rumor circulating was that The Piano Guys were going to be filming in there the next day, for their upcoming Christmas album. I assumed someone was planning to film something, but who it was, I don’t know.

All that aside, we had a great conference and my appreciation for the Book of Mormon and for the prophet, Joseph Smith, was strengthened. What a miracle it is that we have this book! And, how grateful I am for Joseph Smith, and for all the latter-day prophets since. What a blessing to have a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, to guide us today. It will be wonderful to attend general conference, this weekend and next, and to hear from modern prophets and apostles!

We got a chance, this week, to attend the Ogden Temple. What a magnificent place!! (It’s about 40 minutes north of us.) We hadn’t been to that temple before and it was great to be there with several members of our zone.

On Thursday, we took the underground route to go from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to the Church Office Building and happened to see six members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles as they were walking between the Salt Lake Temple and the Church Administration Building. (Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook, Elder Andersen, Elder Stevenson, and, Elder Renlund) We’re not likely to top a siting like that one!

We’re enjoying cooler weather and the feel of fall in the air.

A Surprise Package

16 Sep 2017
I received a surprise box of genealogical goodies this week! Someone found me on ancestry.com and sent me some of the belongings of George Akridge, my 2nd cousin, 1x removed. He was born in 1906, but didn’t marry until he was in his late 50s and had no children. (His wife’s family kept all these things and instead of just getting rid of them, the family wanted a relative to have them.) The couple pictured on the bottom, right, were George’s great-grandparents on his grandmother’s side (they were born in the mid 1800s.) The baby gown is more than 100 years old and was worn by George Akridge as an infant. The workmanship in it is beautiful!
Of course, as often happens, there are lots of unidentified photos. (sigh) Some are tintypes. If only we had names for those faces!

In our Monday morning, mission-wide devotional, Elder and Sister Crowl, who are zone leaders in World-Wide Data Security, talked some about what their zone does. They are responsible for the accuracy and the security of information on familysearch.org. It was really interesting – and, of course, they get some weird requests from time to time (some are pretty funny!) as well as taking care of all the legitimate queries that come their way.

President Fenn told us about his mother’s decline as a victim of Alzheimer’s in her later years. The family tried as best they could to care for her themselves. (His parents had always been faithful, active members of the church; had been temple workers; and, had served missions – and, it was difficult to lose his mother to this disease long before she actually died.) He said that eventually she no longer recognized his father and was sometimes alarmed and frightened to see him in her home. Once, about a year before she died, his father called him and said he’d locked himself in the bathroom because his mother had come after him with a knife. (Because Pres. Fenn didn’t live nearby, he had to call the St. George police for help – and tell them “Please don’t shoot my mother.”) In spite of events like this, he spoke of sitting by her bedside in the hospital, holding her hand in her final days – and, after she passed, catching a glimpse of the family and friends waiting on the other side of the veil to greet her.

The work we are doing in this mission is a tremendous blessing for both the living and the dead, and we’re grateful to be a part of it!

Interestingly, I had an opportunity Monday evening to attend a special lecture at the University of Utah called Music and the Mind – about the research being done regarding the impact music has on the mind, and how the use of music can improve evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of various cognitive disorders (like Alzheimer’s). They have learned a lot in recent years.

Thursday night we got to see a live, two-woman (and a band) musical-theater performance, about the life of Patsy Cline, at a community college nearby. It was an excellent performance and we enjoyed hearing the many tunes that she made famous. The woman who played Patsy Cline was made to play that part!

Our mission is having a special event next week to commemorate the anniversary of the angel, Moroni, appearing to Joseph Smith, and, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. We’re looking forward to that!

A Full Week

9 Sep 2017

Bob is still recovering from his foot surgery, so we didn't do much over Labor Day weekend. I worked on some quilt tops (sent one off for machine quilting and have three more, that I've been working on off and on for a while, that are almost ready to send off. Woo hoo!!)

The good news is, Bob's foot is doing much better now than last week!

We’re, of course, concerned over the devastation taking place all around the U.S. right now. Severe flooding in Texas; Raging fires in Montana, and many other western states, including parts of Utah; and, now, one of the largest hurricanes ever recorded, Hurricane Irma, has swiped across several Caribbean islands, and is heading toward the east coast of the U.S. We’re praying for everyone in its path.

We had a nice, but brief, visit with Tammy Davidson on Wednesday. It's great to see North Carolina friends! Tammy brought her daughter, Kiersten, out to start the fall semester at BYU-I in Rexburg, ID and they toured some of the area before settling her into the dorm. It was fun to see them!

On Friday, we also had a brief visit with Joel and Jacob Estes. (Joel is our daughter, Susy's, brother-in-law.) Jacob is heading up to BYU-I, as well, and they stopped to see some things along the way. It’s hard to believe Jacob is old enough for college! You turn around, and they grow up!

We got new assistant zone leaders this week and we are VERY happy with this change. The new couple, Elder and Sister Boyter, will be terrific! We appreciate the efforts of the previous assistants, but, they are going home in October, so it's good that they can have a break from the extra responsibilities before they go.

We enjoyed a session in the Salt Lake temple yesterday and could feel the wonderful spirit of the family file work we did. It was a lovely time.

This weekend, there’s a Greek Festival a few blocks down the road from us, so we may head over there later today and see if we can get some Souvlaki, or other goodies. :-)

The days are flying by. . .

Learning More. . .

2 September 2017 

How did it get to be September already? We hope you all have some fun plans for this Labor Day weekend.

Most of the people who speak in our Monday morning mission devotionals are asked to tell about themselves and share their testimonies. This past Monday, President and Sister Fenn were the speakers, and we got to hear them tell some personal stories about themselves and their families. It was fun to see that side of them, since we usually get a more formal view. Pres. Fenn told some pretty hilarious stories on himself. We laughed a lot.

After he told about having to ask Elder and Sister McConkie if he could marry their daughter —he said he’s had a lot of interviews since then, and all of them were a piece of cake compared to that! It turns out that, several years earlier, Sister Fenn’s older sister had been seriously dating a young man and when he asked for her hand in marriage, Elder McConkie said, “No.” (So, she didn’t marry him.) Pres. Fenn said it was a good thing he didn’t know that beforehand or he may never have had the courage to ask!

Sister Fenn shared a list of 10 mottos or sayings that were frequently said in their home and elaborated by giving examples. Here is her list:
1.     Remember who you are and act accordingly
2.     Salvation is a family affair
3.     Your mother is perfect
4.     Great men climb mountains
5.     The pursuit of easy things makes men weak
6.     Life was never meant to be easy
7.     Live above it
8.     Don’t be truer than true or bluer than blue*
9.     Stay with the mainstream of the church
10.  Stay true to the restoration and to the prophet, Joseph Smith
      *Even if you’re a true, blue latter-day saint, you don’t have to go to extremes. For this one, Sister Fenn told about a time in high school when she hadn’t done her homework and it was Sunday night. Since they had the policy of no homework on Sunday, she told her parents that she would set her alarm for something like 4 a.m. so she could do it before school. Her father said, “Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t have to be truer than true or bluer than blue. Go do your homework.” And, of course she was counseled to use her time more wisely in the future so this wouldn’t come up again.

We have especially been thinking this week of our grandchildren who are beginning a new school year. We hope they all have a wonderful year! School can sometimes be stressful, but, learning is fun!!

It's Been a Happy/Sad Week

26 Aug 2017

It’s been a happy/sad kind of week.

At our mission devotional on Monday, we all laughed as one of the brothers, Elder Thompson, told of some episodes from his youth. He ended up in a career as a research scientist, but, when he was young, the curious side of his nature got him into trouble a few times. Like, when he accidentally caught a trash can on fire and it ended up burning down the garage. (It wasn’t their garage.) And, another time when he wondered what would happen if he dropped a match into the gas tank of an old car. The car exploded. (Also, not their car.) None of his antics were intended as malicious — in his mind, he was just experimenting. . .

Elder and Sister Thompson teach the capstone course that all the missionaries here take before they go home – so Bob teases them and calls them the Grim Reapers, because our missionaries depart once they go to them. The Thompsons have retorted by calling Bob, El-der-Acula! (because he always wants “fresh blood.”) And, they make a cross sign with their fingers whenever they see him. LOL. (Sister Thompson is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and it’s fun to joke with them.)

Of course, like the rest of the U.S., we caught a glimpse of the solar eclipse on Monday. Someone who works near us shared a pair of the special glasses with us so we could see it.

We got some very sad news on Tuesday. One of our full-time sister missionaries, whom we love, has to go home early because of her health. There is a Senior Medical Committee that reviews serious health concerns of missionaries, and determines if it’s prudent for them to remain in the mission or not. (There have been others who’ve had to go home early, for various reasons.) This sister made it a whole year, but, with some new testing her doctors did, they have basically said she’s a walking time bomb. We are heart-broken that she has to go home. (If you met her you’d never know there’s anything wrong. And, most days she feels great.)

On a happier note – We got to attend a special devotional on Thursday with Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. All the missionaries in our mission were invited, and we pretty much filled the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. It was excellent. What a blessing it is that we have Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth today, and, that we have the privilege of hearing their sure witness of the Savior.

We’ve been so spoiled with all the opportunities we’ve had here – special speakers, concerts, etc. — and we know our next mission won’t be anything like this.

Bob and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary with a special dinner out. It’s hard to believe we’re old enough to have been married that long! We both definitely have an “alternate image” of ourselves in our heads – ones that are much younger and better looking! ;-)