Friday, December 9, 2016

Post Mission

It's already been almost 5 months since we returned home from our mission.  We have been so busy trying to get our new home finished, moving things out of our old home, traveling, and helping at the Caramel Tree.  Life is busy.
I wanted to complete this blog by posting some of the pictures of the last week in the mission and the trip home from New York.
We were given permission to go to Boldt Castle before we were released.  We drove over on a beautiful Saturday morning.  It is really worth seeing!  George Boldt loved his wife and had a castle built on this island that was excavated to resemble a heart.  (Heart Island) and it was almost complete when she got sick and died.  He was giving it to her for a valentine's present.  He stopped all the work and it was never completed.  It was in bad shape when the State of New York acquired it and now shows it for a fee.
This is the entry way to the island

This is the boat house.  It has 6 full size boats in  it and room for more
Elder Merrill looking up toward the main part of the castle
We met in New York on July 18th.  We came into the airport at the same time.  It was so much fun!  We were released this day!


We were able to see the Lion King
This is our trailer!  It is full!  We flew back to Rochester from New York City and drove home from there.
Kirtland Temple
Nauvoo Temple
Statue of Joseph and Hyrum leaving Nauvoo
We made it home!  It is so good to be with our family!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 13, 2016

This is the last entry for our mission blog.  We have had a wonderful time being missionaries, but tomorrow is our last day.  Last week we had a great time showing Jill and Ryan’s family around.  We drove over to Buffalo on July 4th and picked them up in the morning from an all-night flight.  It’s funny how LITTLE sleep you really get on an all-night flight.  They were excited to be in New York, but very tired.  We went to a park and ate a picnic lunch we had packed. They were hungry and the sandwiches hit the spot.  Then we drove to Oakfield and showed them the Lamb Dairy.  They liked that and then we drove to Lake Ontario and  home; viewing the things along the road.  We arrived around 3:00 and they took naps (except Adison, she entertained us).  We had something to eat and then drove over to Canandaigua and watched the fireworks.  We had a good time!  We were able to see and catch fireflies when we returned home.

On Tuesday we had breakfast and went to the Smith Farm, Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, Nima’s pizzeria, the Martin Harris farm, and see the Temple.  They loved seeing the sites and were reverent and good doing the tours. 

On Wednesday we went into the office for about 3.5 hours and caught up on things that needed to be done and then we drove out to Lake Ontario and the kids played in the water there.  We took a lunch and had a great time.  (the sandwiches were from DiBella’s and were great)  The kids loved playing in the water and we laughed hard when they got ready to go.  The water looked a little green, but when Adie started taking off her suit—she was covered in moss.  (on the inside of the suit; go figure)  It was pretty hilarious!  We celebrated Ryan’s birthday by going out to Cheesecake Factory.  It was delicious.

Sharon Grefraith came by with her friend Evelyn and we showed her and the kids the Brigham Young baptismal spot and the Tomlinson Inn (where Phineas Young got the Book of Mormon from Samuel Smith) and then to the Tomlinson Cemetery, where Solomon Kimball (Spencer Kimball’s great grandfather) was buried and Brigham’s first wife.

Thursday we drove to Seneca Lake camp and enjoyed our time there.  We took the golf cart ride and viewed the beauties there.  We went to Fayette and were able to tour the Whitmer home and where the church was organized and the Book of Mormon translation was completed.  There were so many great things that happened there.  We then went to Sauder’s and looked around.  The Mennonite store continues to amaze me.  They have so many spices!
That night we went to the pageant.  Our neighbor, Jim, called and said the wanted to go with us and we were so happy to have him go.  Elder Merrill had told him about it about 3 weeks earlier and he hadn’t heard about it before.  It was great to have him with us.  The pageant begins about 9:15 and we enjoyed the entire performance.  We arrived home just before 12:00.

On Friday we let the kids sleep in and Jill and Elder Merrill and I went to a few garage sales.  We had a great time together.  It’s fun to find treasures and people don’t hang onto much here.  Jill was able to get her girls some really nice clothes and they were pretty happy with it.  We then took them to the Eastview Mall where they rode the carousel 3 times.  They were pretty cute!  We shopped for a while and then went home and I made pork sweet and sour.  We loved playing games together and having fun.  The kids watched some Disney movies and we had popcorn and Pina coladas.  (sounds pretty familiar for Dennis—he does this for the kids in Idaho too)
I don't remember which day it was that we went over to the Erie Canal and fed the birds, but we had a great time and Jill had her life long dream come true--to have birds land on her.  (lol!)  It was pretty funny that Brytlee caught a baby duck and then turned it loose.  Adie caught a pigeon and the mother duck came at her with a vengeance.  I guess she thought that she was the one holding the baby duck.  It was funny!

On Saturday we were able to go to the Priesthood Restoration site in Pennsylvania.  We asked our new President about leaving the mission and he gave us permission.  The site was dedicated last fall and it is very nice.  The Hale home and the home where Joseph and Emma lived were rebuilt to that time period and it was really worthwhile going there. 

The kids were a little tired from the long ride down and back, but they were good.  Elder Merrill and Ryan stopped off in Geneseo and viewed the planes that were going to be in an air show on Sunday.  (which we just happened to watch from a distance on Sunday)

Sunday morning came bright and early and we went to Batavia for church.  We were surprised by the branch after church and they had a nice, big cake for us and everyone said goodbye to us.  (we were planning to go next week, but now that may be awkward) 

After church we had a picnic and took the kids through Letchworth Park.  It was a nice day and beautiful!  The kids were happy to get home after a long day.  We relaxed and visited and played games. 

On Monday we went to office until about 2:00.  We had our one and only office meeting with President Evans.  He is going to be a great mission president.  The Harris family slept in some and then went to the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah while we were at the office.  We ate at Tom Wahl’s after they came to get us and enjoyed the burgers, etc. there.  Elder Merrill bought a ‘trash plate’ but they weren’t too sure they wanted to try it.  We went to Stein Mart after and the men went another direction.  We met up at the house and then took the kids to see Mendon Park.  It still amazes me that town parks can be so big and beautiful.  We saw lots of deer in the park and the kids tried to feed them left over fries.  They looked like they were interested, but then ran away.
On Tuesday morning we had breakfast, cleaned up and drove back to Buffalo.  We went to Niagara Fall and had a great time.  We had supper at Cracker Barrel and then it was time for them to check onto their flight home.  The time went so quickly and we tried to get enough hugs, but it is impossible to get enough.  It’s good that we will be home soon.

Our plan (dare I say it out loud) is to go over to Thousand Island’s on Saturday and see Boldt Castle.  We don’t know how long that will take, so we may stay over there.  We think we may make it back to Batavia to church, but ‘see previous sentence’.  On Monday we will cram everything we brought, purchased here, or are taking home for other people into the trailer and park our car and trailer and vacate the John Young Home.  (cleaning it thoroughly)  We have tickets to fly to New York City and meet Chris, Cindy, Tessa, and Summer and see The Lion King.  We will return on Friday morning and then begin our trek home.  We will stop at Kirtland, Nauvoo, Winter Quarters, and then boogie on home. 
We are anxious to see everyone again and get back to normal.  However, we should be changed in some ways, I hope!  The gospel of Jesus Christ is what makes me happy! 

Happy Birthday to Jackie Merrill, Brad Merrill, Tate Merrill, Ryan Harris!  We love you all! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 2, 2016

What a week!  We had 2 receptions for President and Sister Francis on Monday.  We had cookies and punch and one was held at the Kreag Rd. building from 10-12 and then we drove over to Buffalo to the Amherst building and had one there from 2-4.  They turned out really nice and they were able to talk to every missionary and have their picture taken with them all.  They said that they really enjoyed it, even though we had to really push him to do it.  We felt that they really deserved a nice send off, but he is a very humble man and didn’t want anything.  It was very nice and they will really be missed!

On Tuesday we tried to catch up on what we missed from Monday.  It seems that everyone needs something when you are really busy.  Maybe it’s like having a lot of little kids at home again; they always wanted/needed things when I was the busiest. 
Wednesday morning we met the Jones’s (he will take my place and she will take Elder Spencer’s place, and Elder Spencer will take Elder Merrill’s place).  They drove over from Michigan and we trained on Wednesday and Thursday.  We went through most everything (but he will be surprised that there are things that come up even after 18 months that you don’t have an answer for—thank goodness for Salt Lake).  They are great; they caught on really quickly.  President Francis asked us to stay late and wait until the he brought President Evans into the office to meet us on Thursday.  He picked them at the airport at 5:00 and brought them over about 5:45.  President Evans and his wife are going to be great!  He became the new mission president when the wheels of the plane hit the tarmac.

After they left and we went over to Tom Wahl’s as a group, Workman’s, Merrill’s, Spencer’s, and Jones.  The Jones came and stayed over with us and on Friday morning we took them to the airport so they could go to the MTC and learn how to do things correctly.
We had MLC (mission leadership council) Friday and we served Hawaiian haystack/Chinese sundaes or whatever you would like to call them.  I didn’t get enough rice cooked at noon so we had to cross our fingers and hope that we could get enough before they finished eating.  It turned out alright, but it was nerve-racking.  We had made plans with Elder and Sister Nalder (from Malad) to meet them at the 6:00 session at the Temple, so we were anxious to leave the office.  However, MLC went late (HOW does anyone sit in a meeting from 10-4:30?) and President Evans wanted to visit about the time we were to leave.  He is really nice.  He said that one of the trainers at the MTC for mission presidents said this, “your calling is like going on a cruise and you come here and get fed well and learn lots of things and have spiritual experiences, and then we drop you off in the middle of the ocean and wave goodbye to you”.  Sounds about right!  We had to excuse ourselves and we made it to the Temple with a couple minutes to spare.  We went out to Athenia’s afterward and enjoyed visiting with them and the Spencer’s. 
The Spencer’s are so excited, 2 of their boys and families are coming tonight.  They haven’t seen any of their kids since Oct. and they are ready!  I feel the same way, we are so excited to see the Harris family on Monday. 
We have had several weeks (I think 4) without rain and we did get a little bit on Friday.  It was really needed, but it won’t fix things.  It will probably be wet during the pageant, but I don’t think it will rain during the pageant. 
My toe is healing very well and feels fine.  I’m pretty sure that I will lose the nail as the one side is not in it’s proper place.  Sister Spencer’s son (a podiatrist) will look at it tonight and give his opinion.  I tried to talk Elder Merrill into pulling it out, but he refused!  Last Saturday we went to a few garage sales with the Spencer’s, and we kidnapped them and took them to Batavia to help us move Sandra and Susan.  There were 2 from the Elder’s quorum, 2 young missionaries, and us 4 old people.  The ladies had a 2nd story apartment they had more stuff in it than I could imagine.  I began to think ahead to the days of moving things at home and they began to be very daunting.  OH, that I should have sorted out the old and got rid of the junk, dearest me!  Well, back to the moving story—it was so hot and everyone was sweating profusely.  They didn’t have any bottled water or glasses for drinking water.  I said I would go get water and be back and Sister Spencer said—“I’m coming too”  (she wasn’t going to be left)  We went and got water and when we were walking back to the car I looked down at the pavement and there was a nice bandage (in the shape of a toe) laying there on the ground.  I had lost the bandage and hadn’t realized it.  It looked so funny, we laughed pretty hard!
We were exhausted when we were through with that service project.  She had told Elder Merrill that her nephews were coming to load the boxes and get the truck at U-haul.  All we needed to do is help move the furniture.  The nephews didn’t show up and everything needed to be done.  PHEW!  The young elders said they had to go at 5:00 for a dinner appointment.  I thought about it a few minutes and went to them and said, “would you please call your appointment and delay it for a hour?  We’re old people and we will die if we don’t have your help.”  They were able to help us get finished, and we lived!

Every day we get more anxious to be home with our family and friends again.  It looks like we will be reporting our mission (or whatever you call it now) on July 31.  I don’t know about a picnic or anything afterwards as we don’t have a home, (yet) but we will probably do something.  I’m thinking about what to say and wonder if I should have been assigned a topic.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016

Last Friday we were planning on attending the Temple when Elder Merrill received a call from a couple that were interested in buying one of the cars he has for sale.  They came and tried out a Toyota and a Subaru and they decided that they wanted the Toyota.  He now has 4 cars left to sell. 
We went to a few garage sales on Saturday with the Spencer’s.  We have had over 2 weeks without rain and the forecast doesn’t show signs of rain either.  We are sad that everything is getting so dry and yellow.  Elder Merrill mentioned that he would need to buy a sprinkler for the hose at our home and the next sale had one just perfect for us.  We have had to run the water to keep things a little green.  We are praying that more rain comes soon. We have noticed that some places do have sprinkler systems (the mall) and that they have resorted to using them.  There are some farms around with circles and they are being used this year also.  We hope it rains so the pageant will be green and lush!
On Sunday we left church after Sacrament meeting and went to Buffalo to the VA hospital to visit with one of our home teaching brothers.  He had been given medication for knee replacement and then he already had lots of other meds.  They found out that he was taking 18 different medications and that they didn’t all work together.  They began to adjust his medications and he began to feel better.  We had a nice visit with him and we can now say that we have been inside of a VA hospital.  (huge from the outside, but very plain inside)
On Monday Elder Merrill helped President Francis by going to Dansville to pick up two of the Elder’s that were returning home.  That evening we prepared a meal for them.  We served baked chicken, potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, green salad, rolls, and lemon pound cake with ice cream.  They liked it so well we made it on Tuesday night for the new missionaries arriving.  When they come to the mission they go to the mission home and eat and stay overnight.
Tuesday morning all the missionaries being transferred meet at the office and drop their bags off in the spot marked for their new destination and then when their car arrives, they load up and go.  Wow, that sounded super simple.  WELL, it is more like this—“your ride is here now, let’s get your bags loaded and you can leave”  “Really, now it’s time for your to load your bags and LEAVE”.  They love to get together and it’s really hard to make them quit visiting and go back to work.  The President showed up and he cleared the parking lot in short order.  That makes me wish that I had that kind of power to make things happen. 

On Tuesday after the rush of all the missionaries wanting supplies and asking questions and eating treats here at the office, the UPS man showed up with 19 boxes of supplies for me.  I decided to help him out by propping the outside door open.  I didn’t realize that the sidewalk had a slope on it and I put the wedge down in front of the door and gave it a pull to get it tight enough to stay propped open.  Well, the door went right over the wedge and caught my right big toe with a thud.  The toenail went back and they I looked down at my toe bleeding quite a bit.  Elder Merrill has been so sweet in taking care of my injury and it hasn’t hurt too badly, but it is a bother.  I can’t get anything on my feet, but sandals because of the swelling and bandage.  I’m pretty sure that I will lose the nail too.  Oh well, stuff happens!  It is amazing how our bodies heal themselves.  We listened to a talk by Elder Nielsen a few days ago and here is what he had to say:

"Our Heavenly Father loves His children.  He has blessed each with physical and spiritual gifts. Let me speak of each type. When you sing “I Am a Child of God,” think of His gift to you of your own physical body. The many amazing attributes of your body attest to your own “divine nature.”  Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God. Each eye has an auto focusing lens. Nerves and muscles control two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The eyes are connected to the brain, which records the sights seen.  Your heart is an incredible pump. It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand such stress almost indefinitely.  Think of the body’s defense system. To protect it from harm, it perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. The skin provides protection. It warns against injury that excessive heat or cold might cause.  The body renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients. The body heals its cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God.  Be we reminded that a perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged.  Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely “seen God moving in his majesty and power.” Because the body is governed by divine law, any healing comes by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.  Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?” The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!  If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. Scripture teaches that “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.” To return to God through the gateway we call death is a joy for those who love Him and are prepared to meet Him.  Eventually the time will come when each “spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame,” never to be separated again. For these physical gifts, thanks be to God!
On Wednesday the new missionaries and taken to the Sacred Grove and a few other stops and then they come to the mission office and meet their new companions.  They have a meeting called 12 week and we then gave them sack lunches and sent them to their areas. 
We were so happy when Elder Cashmore (now Blake) came into the office on Wednesday with his parents.  He is showing them around his mission and I could see the happiness they had in their son.  They were so happy to be with him and so proud of him. He did more than his part in placing Book of Mormons for the mission goal. He placed several cases himself. The mission total now is near 11,000 within a year. We love this great missionary.  He is getting married in August in Salt Lake and we plan to attend the wedding.  He is marrying one of sister missionaries (no, they didn’t realize they liked each other as missionaries) 

Congratulations to Kylee and Burke on the birth of their new little boy!  It’s wonderful to see babies that are so loved!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June 12, 2016

What a great week!  We had our office meeting on Monday and after President Francis said that he wanted to take us all out for lunch because we had missed doing anything for Elder Merrill’s birthday.  We had lunch with the staff at a Mexican food place close to the office and enjoyed visiting with everyone. 
On Tuesday we worked diligently to get ahead so we could spend more time with my parents.  It poured rain all day and then cleared up.  After work we did a few things and then drove over to Buffalo to pick mom and dad up at the airport.  It was such a blessing that dad felt good enough to travel.  We had a good visit and hated to go to bed because it was so good to see them.
We went over to Palmyra on Wednesday after we stopped into the office to do a few things.  We went to the Grandin Printing Press and had about half of the tour.  There was a large bus load of people that came in during our tour and we decided that we would come back when it wasn’t so congested.  A lady from the tour talked to us and she was from Rigby, her maiden name was Peggy Walker.  We went out to Hill Cumorah and showed them the art exhibit by Liz Lemon Swindle.  It is so beautiful!  I think I like it more each time I see it.  She has so much talent! 
It was windy and we decided that we would wait to take them to the top.   Last week was so warm and we had so much humidity.  This week it has cooled down and there isn’t much humidity.  I think that this is a blessing because it is easier to put on a jacket than try to keep cool.  We went back to the Grandin and finished our tour.  It is such a great place and always humbles me to realize that there were so many little things that happened to bring about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel.
We had something to eat at the Yellow Mill and then we drove around and looked at a few other things (the Erie Canal, the mushroom house, Trader Joe’s, and Wegman’s).  We played lots of games and had a good time hearing about those at home.  We really hoped that we didn’t wear them out with all the things we did.
On Thursday we went to the Smith Farm, the Martin Harris home, and the top of the Hill Cumorah.  We also attended the Temple in the evening.  We found really good fresh corn at Walmart for 20 cents an ear and had a nice supper at home.

On Friday, after some time in the office, we drove up to Lake Ontario and looked around.  We also went to High Falls and drove through Highland Park.  Everything is so beautiful and green.  We ate a good sandwich at DiBella’s.

On Saturday we went over to Fayette and toured the Whitmer Farm. They have a new movie there and I really enjoyed it.  I can always see President Kimball standing behind the table in the Whitmer home and talking during conference.  It is great to remember when they dedicated it in 1980.  We also went to the camp at Seneca Lake and enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful things there.  We also went into Sauder’s and looked around their unique store. 

We got up early on Sunday (as usual) and drove over to Batavia for church.  The members were so excited to meet my parents.  I had lent Chuck Lehman my book, Belonging to Heaven, about Hawaii (because they had lived there several years).  He read it in 1 week and said that it took away his manhood; because he cried like a baby.  I liked the book, but it wasn’t that sad to me.  I think that he was really attached to the good people he knew in Hawaii and he related the book to them.  He loved it!

After church we drove over to Attica and looked at the State Penitentiary (they call it a correctional facility).  It is huge and looks like a place you don’t want to go.  We noticed 2 other ‘facilities’ in other towns nearby.  We thought that maybe they weren’t quite as bad of places to go.  I can’t think of the term right now.  Step downs, less mean, I can’t think of what it is to go to a place that isn’t so bad.???

We drove to Letchworth Park after we ate our picnic (we had made one at home before church and put it into the cooler).  We enjoyed seeing everything there and it was a nice day.  We found out after we visited that a family had fallen into the river the evening prior and they had all gone over the falls and that 2 of the children were still missing.  They had been hiking in a restricted area and one of the kids had slipped and started a shale slide and they had all gone with him.  There were 5 rescued and a 5 year old boy and a 7 year old boy were drowned.  We felt so bad about hearing of this tragedy.  They have all been found now.

We went into the office on Monday and had our office meeting.  There were many things to do and we didn’t get home until about 1:00 to see how mom and dad were fairing.  They looked pretty fresh, having caught up a little bit on sleep. (we hoped)  They were ready and we loaded up and went to Pittsford and ate a burger at Tom Wahl’s.  The burgers there are always delicious!  We especially like the buns they use. 
After lunch we drove to Greece and then down Ridge Road.  We went to the lighthouse on Lake Ontario and then to the cemetery in Albion and Dennis decided to climb to the top of a tower there.  He said the view was very pretty, but that the climb was a little difficult.  It had a circular stair case and got more and more narrow the closer you got to the top. 

I'm waving to Dennis from the car
We went over to Oakfield and showed them Lamb Dairy and we enjoyed watching the cows ride the merry go round for awhile.  It is one of those things that is kind of mesmerizing. 

We then drove to Buffalo and checked into the hotel and relaxed for a little bit.   We stayed at the hotel with them and for some reason none of us slept that great.  We didn’t make noise (snore) or roll around all night, but for some reason we didn’t sleep that well.  The alarm went off at 5:00 and we got ready and went to the airport to get them onto the 7:00 flight.  It was so much fun and we hated to see them go.
Mom wanted crab legs after seeing the ones Doug got for his birthday!
Happy Birthday this week to Doug Johnson, Heidi Merrill and Andy Atkinson!  Make it the best day ever!

Blessing:  Having parents that love and care for us and want the best for us.  Being raised with good values and work ethics; knowing right and wrong and how to make good choices.  Thanks Everett & Janice Mueller and Glen and Ranae Merrill!