Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 2015

We had transfers on Monday.  We got three new missionaries; 2 permanent and 1 a visa waiter.  (Visa waiters are those that have callings to another country that haven't received their Visas yet and they come and be a blessing to our mission)  One of the missionaries is Elder Marlowe.  He is Nyle and JoAnn Randall's grandson.  His mother is Dawn Randall Marlowe.  They live in Ammon and he is a really sharp guy.  He can really sing.  We are really happy to have new missionaries.  We made supper for them at the mission home and had a nice meeting afterward.  We had some catching up to do after our time away from the office.
On Tuesday they go to the Sacred Grove with the President and then back to the mission office to see who their new/first companion will be.  It is a special time and I always get misty eyes when their trainers greet them with open arms and welcome them to the mission.  You can see their relief in being welcomed.
There were lots of other missionaries at the meeting to be transferred to other companions.  After and before the meeting there is lots of chaos.  Everyone needs and wants something; supplies, help, one guy had money missing on his MSF card (and I had to report the fraud) and other fun things.  (MSF--missionary support fund)
We went over to Sam's after work and stocked up on food, which should last a while.  Groceries here are about the same price as home.
On Thursday my email began to have problems and wouldn't work.  I called Salt Lake and they said that Outlook (the program) was having difficulties and just to give it some time.  Later in the day I checked on it and it had completely deleted itself.  This was not a PICNIC (I promise)  Picnic--Problem in chair, not in computer.  It took 2 hours on the phone with a man from Salt Lake to get it back.  I hope it works better this week.  I don't use that email account for anything but church/mission business so it is really needed.
We got up Saturday morning and had to run to the office for something Dennis needed to do.  We stopped at a yard sale on the way and before I could get to the table he warned me that there were some really handy items on it.  We laughed pretty hard--don't think I've ever seen that collection at a garage sale before.

Amanda and Skyler met us at our place and we started off for Fayette with a picnic.  We visited the Peter Whitmer farm (where the church was organized and where some of the Book of Mormon had been translated) and then we went over to the Seneca Lake Camp.  We had a great time with them and I think they enjoyed it all.
We are taking 'Flat Stanley' everywhere with us as a favor to Gaylene Gneiting's 3rd grade student.  The class sent Stanley to people around the world and asked that they take pictures with him and send him and the pictures back to their classroom before the end of Sept.  We tried to do our best.
Elder Merrill, Stanley and Skyler at Seneca Lake (Finger Lake)
Sister Merrill, Skyler, and Amada at Brigham Young baptism spot
Inside the Whitmer home in Fayette
We are going to have a special Family Home Evening tomorrow night in Batavia.  We invited the entire branch and anyone else that wanted to come.  We are having a Milk Can Supper and the other senior couple and the Merrills are sponsoring it.  There are missionaries here that have done it before and I asked them to come and do it for our branch.  They take cabbage, potatoes, corn, carrots, kiebasa, and onions and put them in cheese cloth and the into the milk can and over heat to cook for a while.  (cross your fingers that it turns out great)  We are hoping to have it be a good missionary tool.
We got word this week that Grandma Merrill and Becca Bloxham (and possibly Hannah) are coming to visit Sept. 22-28. We are excited to have them come and see our mission.  We welcome anyone else that wants to come with them.  Our car will hold 6 comfortably and 7 with some squeezing.
We are grateful for your love and prayers.  We feel them!  We are happy and doing well.  We are loving the people here and getting to know them.  Everyone is great and has something they can add to our lives.  Everyone wants to feel needed and loved.  We can all reach out to others.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23, 2015

What a wonderful week we have had!  We worked Monday and part of the day on Tuesday and then flew into Idaho Falls to be there for the endowment and sealing of my family.  It was an amazing time!  Our family met us at the airport with kids and signs and we felt like we should be finishing our mission--but, we have about 11 months left.

We stayed up and visited until late and then we slept in the camper.  I hadn't been sleeping well (too excited, I guess) so it was great to get a good sleep.
On Wednesday we had dentist and doctor visits, hair cuts, and more visiting!  We were able to visit with Grandma Merrill also.  It is so good to be with the ones we love!
On Thursday we had breakfast at the Summer's and visited with the Hegsteds, Summers, and Beesleys.  It was great!  We went to the airport and picked Brad and Sara and the kids and then got ready to got to the Temple in Rexburg.  We almost filled the session with people there to support our family.  It was a great sight!

After the Temple we hosted a nice pot luck dinner at our house.  There was a good turn out and the food was super good!  I think that everyone had a good time.  It was a miracle that the evening was nice and the smoke from the Idaho fires wasn't too bad.  (the next night the wind blew like crazy)
On Friday Chris had a picnic catering job that he needed help with and Dennis and I went to help him.  It turned out really good and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.  Greg and Jackie picked us up and we went home with them and visited more with everyone.  Brad and Sara took some of the kids to the 'Monster Truck Show' in Rigby and Tate came back talking about seeing the monster trucks.  It is so fun to hear the little kids talk and be so excited about things.
Some of the little ones had forgotten us and we had to start over with them (Max and Hallie)  It's a good thing a mission doesn't last too long or they would all forget about us.  Tate loves equipment and loves to ride the bulldozer.

On Saturday we got ready to fly back to New York and visited more with our family.  (I can't get enough of them!)  Our family is our greatest blessing and we love them all so much and are so proud of them!  The kids slept on the trampoline and said that they all rolled into the middle.  (it looked like a bunch of snakes in a coil)

Our flight was at 1:30 and so the day was cut short.  We flew into St. Paul, Minnesota and had a 2 hour layover there.  We boarded the next plane to go to Buffalo and they were slow getting away from the gate with luggage, etc.  We were about 10 in line to take off when a lightening storm and rain began.  We sat on the run way for over an hour and then they started making announcements abut this and that and then the pilots were out of time and they would take us back to the terminal and we would have to wait in our seats until fresh pilots arrived.  Then we had to deplane because the pilots were in the Fargo, ND and we would have to wait until they arrived.  Then they couldn't get them out of Fargo, and in the end we were stuck in the airport ALL night!  They said they had mats for people to sleep on and we tried to get a mat, but it was crazy with people digging into the stack of mats to get what they wanted, and Elder Merrill was very courteous and didn't end up with one.  So we found a place that had some connecting chairs without arm rests and sleep (a little).

We arrived in Buffalo Sunday at 1:00.  By the time we went by Batavia church was over so we came home and flopped into bed.  It felt so good and the coma began.  The Sisters across the street brought over some supper and we have begun to feel human again.  Delta send 10,000 miles to our account for the trouble (but I think it should have been more than that).
We met a man named Randy Tate in the airport that is a member of the church from Boise, Idaho.  He had meetings to attend in Canada and was traveling there from Buffalo.  He does elevator and escalator work.  He felt that Delta hadn't been truthful from the beginning of our stay and called it 'faction' (half fact, half fiction)  Who knows??  It was miserable for an entire plane load of people with places to be and lives to live.
Randy had a very interesting story.  He had not been a member of the church as a youth and had decided that the bad boys were the ones getting the cute girls.  So, he determined to be a bad boy.  He joined the Marines at 18 and went to Viet Nam.  He got into a crowd there that were selling drug in the United States and they began making lots of money.  He returned to Oregon and they continued living the high life and making lots of money with their drug business.  He met a young man that was in their group and he lived in Boise.  They began doing business in Boise and while there would have dinner at the friend's parents home.  They were LDS and the father began to drop little bits of information into his mind.  He said that he loved being in their home and feeling their love.  The father told them that there were lots of things they could repent of but that there were limits.  (he didn't really know of the problems his son was having)  They also got hooked up with the mafia about this time.
One night they had an encounter with someone that stole a lot of cocaine from them; and a severe beating took place.  He said that he pulled his gun and was about to shoot this man and the friend's fathers voice came to him that there were some things that would be very difficult to repent of or impossible.  He dropped his gun and told them he was through.  He began his road to repentance and study of the gospel.  He lived at the friend's parents home and they helped him.  He went to college in Boise and joined the church, married in the Temple and then had a special experience of baptizing his mother.  His parents had divorced when he was a teen.  His mother had come to live with him and his family after a few failed marriages and while there they had Thanksgiving and the father also came to dinner.  The parents ended up getting married again, the father joined the church and they were sealed in the Temple.  There are some interesting twists in our lives when we allow the Lord to guide us.
We are back in New York now and ready to go back to work.  We are so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the many tender mercies we see daily.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Aug. 16, 2015

We had another great week!  It rained 3 or 4 days this week and ended the drought.  (SERIOUSLY, things were getting brown)  It is fun to walk in the rain with an umbrella.  It is still warm outside, but with drops coming down.  We have had some thunder showers also. 
I miss having zucchini and cucumbers in the garden.  We have actually been buying zucchini.  I made some bread and it tasted so---good.  We took it into the office and a loaf was gone by the end of the day.  We always have missionaries in and out of the office and they are happy to have anything we offer them.
We had a young sister this week that had to have a serious surgery removing a malignant tumor along with her uterus.  She also had to have some lymph nodes removed and they are going to decide if she needs to have chemo or radiation now.  I feel so bad for her!  She was upset about not being able to have children, but saving her life at this time is more important.  She is from South American and her parents are not close to a large city and they wouldn’t have been able to get help for her and she would have died without treatment.  The Lord helped her by sending her where she is getting A+ treatment.  We have prayed for her as a mission for the past 2 weeks. 
Well, I did it this week!  My quest for a clean kitchen at the church DIDN”T pay off!  I am so glad that we have such strict rules in our kitchen at the Grant church.  We must leave it in better shape than what we found it—it must sparkle!  Well, here—they don’t seem to care as much and the 2 ovens at the church where the mission office is located had a thick coat of gunk everywhere.  They are self-cleaning ovens so I told Sister Kennedy that if someone from her ward didn’t want to clean them, I would.  She talked with the Relief Society President and she was all for them being cleaned.  So, Sister Kennedy and I took out the racks, turned them onto self-clean, locked them, and set the time for 3 ½ hours.  We went over to get gas for our car and Sister Kennedy called and said to hurry back—all the smoke alarms in the building were going off.  Dennis was just finishing with the gas when the city fire house rang their bell.  I screamed, “is that for our church?”  He called 911 and yes it was for the church.  He told them not to come that we were just cleaning the ovens.  We rushed back and the building was full of smoke.  We turned off the ovens, opened all the doors and windows, put out fans, and the FM (facilities management)  man just happened to be there to help.  He told us that he would have FM come and clean the ovens for us and not to try it again.  President Francis got a kick out of it, but I was mortified! 
We are so excited to come next week for our special day in the Temple as a family.  The endowment session starts at 3:00 and the sealing at 5:30.  We will have a pot luck dinner after in our yard.  Hope the weather is good.  I am really happy that I will be able to see my little ones again!  Dennis was talking on the phone with Joslyn last night and I could hear how excited they were to see each other again.  We feel that way about all of our family. 
After work we met the ladies for dinner at a place in Canandaigua that was supposed to be the best Mexican ever.  Well, it wasn’t! (they used that thick processed cheese (crap) instead of good cheese on their food)  We have only found 2 places here that serve good Mexican food.  One is called Moe’s and they are like CafĂ© Rio and the other one is in Webster and is similar to what we get in Idaho.  It’s funny how bad they can make Mexican food here.  But—Pizza is the best here!  They know Pizza!
One of President Francis’s sons did his Eagle project today and we went to help for a while.  He painted the fence of one of the cemeteries.  It turned out to be a good project and he had lots of his friends there to help with the project.  The weather was perfect! 
Today we had church and after church we had munch and mingle.  We made Chicken Waikiki (basically sweet and sour chicken) and it was a hit.  Every piece of it and the rice was eaten.  However, we made a lot of fresh salsa and very few were brave enough to try it.  Funny thing—this is pizza land!  I gave the rest to President Francis.  They are from California and are always looking for good Mexican food too.  He was happy to have it.  We went home teaching after church and didn’t get home very early. One of the sweet sisters in the branch brought me some crook neck squash, green beans, and cucumbers.  Her husband is such a nice, older guy that has a green thumb and doesn't want to know about the church.  Dennis and Howard have had good conversations about tractor work and that type of thing, I've let him know that my dad is also a master gardener and that it hasn't rubbed off on me yet.
Sister Stephenson died this afternoon at 5:00.  She had suffered a lot with cancer and had been very courageous.  She is 9 years older than her husband and he is going to be very lost.  He was crazy about her. 

As we were on the highway the other day a motorcycle came up to the side and passed us.  I had to take this picture.  I’m not sure that you can see if very good, but he has a Barbie on the back seat with her hair blowing in the wind.  It was so cute!
Hang on Barbie--You're too young to die!
We are not sure what this is growing on this tree--anyone?  Walnuts?  (Dennis says no)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9, 2015

We had a great week!  The Dieu’s (a senior couple) came into the office and we met them.  They have been in the mission field about a month, but we hadn’t met them before.  Her name is Sherry Dieu (but she says she isn’t the REAL Sherry Dew)  She says that everyone tells her she isn’t the real Sherry Dew (and that is because she isn’t)  The REAL Sherry Dew is the CEO of Deseret Book and is a very well-known author.  The Dieu’s have been married almost 2 years.  His first wife died and she (Sister Dieu) was divorced.  She knew his wife well, but hadn’t talked with him only in passing.  After he was a widower for a while he called her up and she gave her condolences and encouraged him that he would be alright.  He was more interested in her and she was very happy NOT having a man after her first husband (he must have been a stinker)  Well, he finally convinced her that he would like to court her and she told him that he would need to bring his’ A game’ as she was happy single.  He sent her an edible fruit arrangement that said, “Game On”.  The rest is history.  They are from Arizona/California.  They a very nice!  We had dinner with them at Red Lobster Monday night.

Dennis had a call on Thursday from the most remote place we have missionaries and they had been in a head on collision.  They were fine and the other man drove himself home.  The pick up was wrecked pretty badly and we don’t know what the insurance will say about it.  The airbags had deployed and the truck had been towed away.  We drove another car to them on Friday evening.  The senior couple from their area met us about ¾ of the way and we gave the car to them to take to the Elders.  It was a beautiful drive, bur we were both glad to be home later that night.

We were able to pick up Zach Gneiting and his mother, Gaylene from the hospital on Friday morning  and they stayed at our place while we went back to work.  We went over to the Sacred Grove after work and enjoyed seeing the Grove, the Hill Cumorah, and Grandin Press.  Zach was very tired and didn’t have much strength (he lost 13 lbs. during his almost 3 week stay in the hospital) and so Dennis was able to push him in a wheelchair through the Grove.  We had a good visit with them.  
At the Smith Log Cabin with the Millers, Gaylene, Zach, and the Merrills
Gaylene had flown to Rochester with an open ended ticket on Delta so she needed to get a flight home on Delta.  Prudy wanted to help with Zach’s flight and offered skymiles on United.  So, they were able to get flights that left within about 15 minutes and arrived in Phoenix about 10 minutes apart.  They didn’t say too much about it.  When we were taking them to the airport on Friday afternoon she received a text saying that her flight was going to be delayed about 1 hour.  She said that would probably make it easier because she needed to help Zach get through security because he didn’t have any identification (they had his birth certificate faxed to our office) and he was pretty weak.  THEN—a few minutes later her phone rang and we heard her say, “I would love that—yes, I want to do that.”  Well—Delta called her and asked if she had seen that her flight was delayed and would she like to get on another flight going to Phoenix—UNITED??  She would be with Zach and be able to help him all the way.  We couldn’t believe it, Delta never does that for people.  They don’t (usually) change airlines for people.  The ticket counter didn’t know the circumstances for her flight either.  We had just talked in the car about how ‘everything denotes that there is a God’ and we all felt such love from Heavenly Father for them.  It was a miracle!

Saturday we went to a few garage sales and Dennis was so happy to come up with this prize. 

It is definitely an antic, but it sure did work great.  It is really sharp and it took a lot of tall weeds down in short order. 

We went over to the Temple in the afternoon and did a session.  The Palmyra Temple is so quiet and peaceful.  There were only 8 sisters and 8 brothers in the session.  It is so calm there without so many patrons.  I hope that my parents will come here and do a session before we are through with our mission.  
Look who Janet Stucki found in Philmont at the Scouting Conference.  Small world isn't it?  I guess they had a great visit.
Janet Stucki with Judy Liffereth in Philmont (my cousin)
There are large fields of soy beans here and as we drive by Elder Merrill asks me if I can see any beans growing on them.  We stopped by one of the fields and he picked a few of the immature beans to see what they looked like.  

Edamome! (soy beans)
Funny:  Sister Long sent us a funny that says, "If a man says he will fix it. HE WILL!  There is no need to remind him every 6 months!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015

We made it!  We were given an assignment from President Francis to read the Book of Mormon from June 19-July 31, and we did it.  We didn’t think we could do it, and got behind while we had company; but we were able to catch up and finish on time.  It was a great assignment and we learned new things again this time. 
We have had a great week again.  Last Monday night we had an office party dinner at the home of the sisters across the street.  Sister Kennedy was able to get permission from the people living in the old Tomlinson Inn for us to visit and tour their home.  We had a great meal and they gave me a belated birthday cake; with the writing on the top—“Happy Birthday $ister Moneybags!”  LOL!  (Laugh out loud)  The Inn had been vacant for several years and in some disrepair, but I could imagine it as a place for people to stay in the 1830’s.  We also walked back to the baptism place for Brigham Young.  It was a nice evening!
President Francis preaching the word from the balcony of the Tomlinson Inn

We drove over to Batavia on Tuesday evening to have Family Home Evening with Skyler and Amanda.  We had a great discussion on the duties of the Priesthood and the calling of new Apostles.  They were very interested and asked questions and then we played games.  It was fun to be there again!
On Wednesday we went back to the hospital to see Zach Gneiting.  (yes, he is on day 15 now in the hospital).  We try to call daily to see how he is doing and on Tuesday he had to have a tube inserted to drain out more infection.  He wasn’t too happy to have that tube, but he visited and we stayed for over  an hour.  They were hoping go home before the weekend.  On Thursday they told them that he would be able to be discharged on Friday morning and so they started looking for airline tickets back to Mesa.  He began throwing up again on Thursday afternoon and that killed all hope of leaving the hospital.  His cultures showed staff and gangrene still existing and they put him on 2 more high power drugs.  We went back Friday and saw him and they were discouraged.  He is still in the hospital today (Sunday) and we need to call and see how he is today.  Our bodies are so wonderful how they help and protect us, but it is so hard to kill some of these infections!
We had P Day yesterday (and it wasn’t interrupted by any other assignments, etc.)  We went to a few yard sales and then we had a little nap, I did some laundry and vacuumed.  We went to the store and took back some sandals that I had purchased on Wednesday night.  (My feet are swelling in the heat and humidity here) and then we took the Erie Canal lock cruise called the ‘Sam Patch packet cruise’.  It was really smooth and relaxing.  (I had about 15 naps)—but it was amazing to go through the lock and wonder about the technology in the 1800’s that could produce such a thing to move commerce across the country with this great canal.  This is a real wonder!  However, I got thinking about how wonderful it was to see the Panama Canal and have pondered on that trip a while.

Water coming in through a leak to fill the lock. This leak is called "Angle Falls"
It is the largest lock leak in the canal system and the most photographed.

Water leaving the lock (25 feet lower)
Church was today and our Fast and Testimony meeting was very good.  There were only about 40 people there, but it was still a good meeting.  After church we had a missionary meeting and we discussed the plans for a senior couple sponsored home evening.  (sponsored by the Sanders and the Merrills)  We are hoping that it will be well attended and full of fun.  We have service missionaries in Buffalo that do a milk can supper that have agreed to cook for us.  They use carrots, cabbage, corn, potatoes, and kiebasa—they wrap it up in cheesecloth and put the food into the cans and then cook them over slow heat until done.  We are planning on doing this Aug. 31.  We were invited to the Lehman’s home for dinner and we had a great time with them.  I think I have talked about him previously, and is a wealth of knowledge.  He says little things that make me think.  He loves the church and sees things so clearly. 
I played the music for Primary today and enjoyed that.  Sister Haggerty is usually the pianist, but she took the place for the director and I played for her.  She has such a fun personality and can tell the kids what she is thinking in a direct fashion.  They like her!  We only had 7 kids (4 were visiting) and so the volume wasn’t too good, but they did sing along with her and she didn’t criticize them for not singing very loud.  Here we do it all for 4 or 14—seems funny after some of the huge crowds we get in Primary back home.  I do miss seeing more children at church. 

Last Sunday the kids and grandkids met at our home and had dinner and visiting.  They sent us pictures, and even though it made me homesick—I just couldn’t help being so grateful to see this wonderful bunch of great people that I love and cherish so much!

Grandkids! So beautiful!