Monday, September 28, 2015

Sept. 27, 2015

We started out the week at the office on Monday and Tuesday.  Elder Merrill got up real early on Tuesday morning and went over to Palmyra to meet at the Smith farm to take a 4+ mile hike to the Hill Cumorah.  It was in commemoration of the date that Joseph went to the hill to see the plates, Sept. 22, 1823.  Dennis said that it was a good walk and there were a bunch of young sister missionaries, the President and some of the senior missionaries in the group.  I opted to stay home a few more minutes and meet him at work.  (now I wish that I had done the walk with him—hindsight)

We met Debby and Spence Horsley for lunch at Nima's in Palmyra on Tuesday.  Their mission president in Kirtland, Ohio had given them a day or two off and it was so much fun to hear about their mission.  They have extended also.  

Grandma Merrill, Becca Bloxham, and Marilyn Atkinson came into the Rochester airport about 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday.  We were happy to greet them and we went over to Cracker Barrel for supper before coming back to our home.  They had all had good, uneventful flights. 
We got up on Wednesday and headed to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  The day was warm and beautiful!  We had a great time on the Maid of the Mist boat ride up close and personal to the falls.  

Grandma had been to New York as a teenager in 1947 and had seen the falls, but hadn’t ridden the boat.  She really liked it, we all did!  We went back through Oakfield and showed them the dairy with the cow merry go round.  

We enjoyed that and then into Batavia and saw Devil’s Rock, and then through LeRoy to see the Jello museum.  It was later in the evening and the museum was closed.  We ate lunch at Five Guys in Buffalo and then had a slice of pizza (take out) in Mendon.  We were tired out!  We played a few games and went to bed.
On Thursday Elder Merrill and I went into the office for about 3.5 hours and while we were gone Hannah Merrill drove here from Penn State with her son, Charlie.  We got home and went over to the Smith Farm, the Sacred Grove, the Palmyra Temple, the Grandin Press, the Martin Harris home and the Hill Cumorah.  While we were in Palmyra we got a calzone and everyone loved it!  We were happy to see the Selvages at the Smith Farm and they discussed how they were related.  Grandma was so happy to see her cousin (Deleta Holland Selvage).  

We were so happy to see Rick and Michele Barber at the Smith Farm also.  They are friends with the Selvages.  

Grandma Merrill at the Martin Harris home
While we were at the Martin Harris home a couple of men from a landscape company came and pulled out all of these beautiful flowers.  (that was sad to me) and they began planting mums.  I asked them if the mums would last all of next year and they said they would take them out in 6 weeks.  Wow!  what we do for a beautiful yard!  I thought a few would be nice to take home and asked Charley to pull me a couple.  He was more than happy to fulfill this task!
We took them to see Wegman’s store and they liked it too.  We went home and Marilyn made us some yummy blue cheese bread with our chicken dinner.
Elder Merrill and I had meetings with President Francis on Friday and so we returned home about 11:00 to pick up the family and hit the road again.  We went back to the office and introduced everyone to President Francis and had a good visit.  

We then went to Tom Wahl’s and had burgers before embarking on our trip for the day.  We went over to the Whitmer farm in Fayette and then to the Seneca Camp.  We had a good time at each place and Charlie really liked the golf carts that we got to explore the camp with.  

We also went to a Mennonite store called Sauders.  They really had a lot of different things in the store.  Hannah had to go home from the last stop and we had a hard time seeing her leave.  We came back to Pittsford and went to Stein Mart where Grandma got a new outfit, complete with earrings.  We got home again and I made tacos for everyone.
On Saturday we had a good breakfast of baked eggs and toast.  We went to the Tomlinson cemetery and then  over to the Erie Canal before noon and rode the Sam Patch canal ride.  It was a nice day and it was very relaxing.  

After we finished we shopped a little at Trader Joe’s and then decided to eat a late lunch at Cheesecake Factory.  It was good, as always!  We went over to a bakery that had been recommended to us and we got cannoli.  It was real good.  It was funny when we stopped in front of the bakery Grandma looked at Dennis and said, “we drove all this way for a bakery?”  It was funny! (yes, we did drive all that way for a bakery)  You see, everywhere you go here is a drive of 30 minutes or so.  We went to the mall and looked around for a while.  Dennis and Grandma went home to rest and when we called them to come get us we asked them to come in a certain door.  I hadn’t done much at the mall and had never walked through the entire thing.  We found a beautiful carousel and had them come in and we all took a ride on it.  (If you want to see how awkward you can be, try getting on a tall horse that is rocking back and forth and you are OLD—that is ME)

We had left overs and popcorn and Pina’ colata for supper.  (doesn’t that sound good?)

On Sunday we got to church a little early and visited with the members.  We sat in the chapel and waited for church to begin.  We have a new girl and her husband in the ward.  He is doing a medical internship in Batavia.  They came into the chapel about time to begin and she saw Becca and came over to her and hugged and cried.  They had been best friends in Logan.  Who would have guessed that they would meet each other in Batavia?  Our testimony meeting was very good and Grandma Merrill bore such a good, strong testimony.  I really enjoyed hearing her testimony!  Tasha Laud (Becca's friend) bore her testimony and talked about the tender mercies of the Lord in bringing her good friend, Becca, to Batavia.  It was a great day.  
After church we drove north through Albion and then further to Lake Ontario.  We were able to see it without too much wind and cold.  (we have seen it in all stages of weather) 

We came home and had naps and then Marilyn and I took the walk to the baptismal site of Brigham Young.  We had lasagna and bread for supper and enjoyed an evening of visiting and games.  We watched the ‘blood moon’ and enjoyed the evening outside. 

We enjoyed having our family visit and with each visit and seeing the sacred sites through new eyes we gain stronger testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel here on the earth and of God’s love for us.  It is so clear that the way to happiness is in keeping the commandments and following Christ.  We are so grateful that Grandma has good health, that has helped us to be able to go on our mission; knowing that she is doing well and is healthy.  We are very blessed!  It was hard to see them leave on Monday morning!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sept. 20, 2015

September 20,2 015
What a week!  We had a lot to do.  We had zone conferences 3 days of the week.  We started our week on Monday one hour earlier at the office than usual.  We had our weekly meeting early because we had a church representative coming to the mission to work with Elder Merrill on the TIWI system.  (a black box for each missionary car)  We finished our meeting just as Brother Paul came to the office.  He spent the rest of the day with Elder Merrill, teaching and training him.  (they also had a long meeting with the President)
On Tuesday we had to get up extra early to be to Buffalo by 7:45.  (which is about a 2 hour drive)  I was wishing I could be one of those little kids that parents just pick up out of bed and gently put into the car and drive without waking them up.  BUT, NO—I’m not.   We arrived in Amherst and got things ready for the meeting and Elder Merrill was off.  He had to inspect cars, help with the TIWI installation and then test drive the cars to make sure they worked properly.  He ran his bottom off all day long.  He came into the meeting and set down by me and I could feel the heat radiating off of him.  He was soaked with sweat.  (he hadn’t worn his suit jacket outside, but was still way too hot)  I had to pass out new cell phones to each companionship and help them get the contacts, etc. ported over from their old phones.  They were so excited to get new phones and thought that I had something wonderful up my sleeve when I passed out their new phone.  It was the same model that they already had (so disappointing!) but we moved from Sprint to AT &T and we are hoping for much better service.  I do believe that they will be an improvement.  When I received calls from them with the Sprint phones I could only hear about 1/3 of what they were saying.
After the meeting in Buffalo we stopped in Albion and did a home teaching visit and then to Batavia to meet with the missionaries and a recent convert.  We were really tired when we finally flopped into bed. 
Wednesday we met in Palmyra and Thursday we met in Rochester.  Those days were a little easier, but still long.  Easier because we didn’t have to travel quite so far to get set up.
We had many great talks at Zone Conference.  Brother Paul took almost 2 hours each day discussing the TIWI system.  He was very interesting.  He said that the church has been concerned for missionary safety for a number of years and have been considering doing something like the TIWI system.  This system stands for Teen driver safety  (I don’t remember all of the words of the acronym).  When the church went to calling missionaries at a younger age they lost about 2600 years of driving experience.  (the number of missionaries time the years they practiced at home)  The church is self-insured and so every accident is costly.  He said that the church pays out about $42 million a year in mission accidents.  (plus the pain, suffering, and death—yes, there are missionaries killed driving church cars on missions)  He said that they felt if they could help drivers more with safety they could save lives and money.  That amount of money is sacred tithing and could be used to build more temples, etc.    The system helps drivers by reminding them that they are going too fast, not wearing their seat belts, or being an aggressive driver.  If they persist in poor driving habits, they will be given demerits and if bad enough they will have their driving privileges revoked.  Having a missionary that cannot drive is really a problem for the mission president because he has such a vast amount of area and won’t be able to place missionaries with companions as easily.  Brother Paul told us of 2 sisters that wanted to be the first ones to zone conference and were clocked at 116 miles an hour on their drive.  The cars we have are not safe at that speed (and NO ONE should be driving that fast).  It was all pretty sobering when he talked about the dumb things that missionaries do with their cars.  (in other missions)  I hope that our missionaries here got the message of how to be obedient drivers.   We shall see.  Elder Merrill now has an additional responsibility to monitor the driving of the missionaries and report and call them.  He is going to be very busy!
Sister Francis is really a good speaker and she told of a time in their family when they had 8 children at home and were living in California.  Their oldest son was on the basketball team for the high school and they had scheduled a tournament in San Diego.  They had decided that they couldn’t attend because it was right after Christmas and they had several conflicts.  As the date drew closer their schedule opened up and they decided that they would go on a family vacation and to the tournament.  Sister Francis began looking for hotels in San Diego, online and by the phone.  She wasn’t having any luck because they were late in looking.  She was just finishing up a search online and as her computer was shutting down a pop up came up for a little hotel in San Diego that she hadn’t heard of.  She called them and they said they were full, but they had 2 rooms that were just being refurbished and should be done.  Did they want them?  She said yes.  The day of the adventure came and they got into their 15 passenger van and started down the freeway.  Outside of San Diego the check engine light came on and then went off again.  President Francis asked her if that was normal and she sad that it had never happened.  A few miles later it came on again, but didn’t shut off.  Now the engine shut off too while they were driving.  So that took out the power steering and they were slowing down.  President got over a couple of lanes and they noticed another 2 or more lanes merging onto the freeway.  He was lucky to get over to the far right and then had enough speed to slowly go down the incline and around a corner and into the back of a service station.  They all were very tense when they came to a stop and relieved.  She then noticed that he had a huge smile on his face and she wanted to punch him.  What could he be smiling about??  He told her to turn and look out the back window.  When she did she saw the name of the hotel they were going to be staying at.  They were able to get a new alternator, get to all the games, and have fun with their family.  What a great story, right?
We have so many blessings in this life!  Heavenly Father watches over us and knows what we need!  Sometimes I want to shout out, “How great is our Church?”  “How great is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ!”  We are blessed.  Keep your eyes open for the small, tender mercies in your life!

Happy Birthday to Almedis, Chris, and Joslyn!  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September 13, 2015

Sept. 13, 2015
We had a beautiful Labor Day!  It was a very nice, hot day.  The Mission President had planned to have the Rochester West Zone and the Palmyra North Zone come to the mission home and have a P-Day party.  It began at 11:00 and ended at 3:00.  We played games ate hot-dogs and hamburgers, and visited.  It was a great day.  After eating I found a nice shady place to sit and several others sat there also.  I was visiting and looked over at Elder Merrill just as he started tipping over in his plastic chair (the kind that the legs buckle under you) and he grabbed my chair.  Well, that was all it took and I went heels over head down with him.  Elder Workman from across the yard said that he would give me an 8.5 for the full gainer (or whatever you call the maneuver I performed).  He would also give me 10 for grace.  I’m sure it was quite amazing!  No one was hurt in the performance of the spectacle.  We had a relaxing day!
Elder & Sister Merrill, Elder Detlor, Elder Scott, Elder Rushton, & Elder Peterson-Rochester West Zone
It’s funny, but taking off on Monday didn’t seem to make the week at work go any faster.  We were surprised on Tuesday by the lack of mail that came into the office.  (our carrier thought that someone hadn’t opened some of the carts or whatever there is that holds mail at the USPS) 
We went walking after work by the Erie Canal and found out that they are running the Sam Patch canal ride in the fall at 12:00 and 2:00 on week days.  We are planning what we will do when we are visited by Grandma Merrill, Marilyn, and Rebeca.  We are excited to see them!  We may also get to see Hannah, Jake and Charlie.  
Elder Merrill and Flat Stanley at the Erie Canal
We hadn’t had rain her for 3 weeks or more and so on Thursday we were happy when it began to rain.  It rained hard and then was over.  It’s funny how fast the rain disappears here.  They have great storm drains.  On Friday it looked dry again, it clouded up and rained all day Saturday and has been overcast all day today (Sunday).  I think we will be alright—drought avoided!
We had a sister today at church from Utah that used to live in Batavia.  She seemed to know everyone and told them about others that had moved west.  She said that one of the members isn’t attending now because she is saying, ‘if I had known that Joseph Smith had plural wives, etc. ‘  Well, she told her that ‘oh, don’t use that excuse—you knew he lived polygamy when you lived in Batavia—you need to come up with something else’.  There is a lot of anti-Mormon publication out there and they are really hammering at Joseph Smith.  Well, I have gained a stronger testimony of his mission being here and reading the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants more.  NO ONE could have written those books without the help of the Lord.  They testify of Jesus Christ and his mission.  The Book of Mormon is true!  Another thing—why would anyone want to go through the tests and trials that Joseph went through if he didn’t have a testimony of the Lord?  I certainly wouldn’t want to be tarred and feathered, beaten, put into prison, and murdered for nothing.  Was he perfect?  NO, but he was God’s chosen prophet to usher back the true religion of Jesus Christ, and I am thankful for him.
We bought some scallops from Trader Joe’s yesterday and cooked them on the stove.  We have had such a fish house since.  We have used Fabreeze  (and it doesn’t work as well as the commercial says) and opened every window and door.  PHEW!  I will not be cooking those again! 

Oh, we made the lasagna this week (the one with the Beesley recipe) and it turned out really good.  We took it to work and shared with the ladies.  We put half in the freezer so we have a quick meal when we need one.  
We went for a drive Saturday and found this interesting sign.  I didn't know if it was an entire field or one bulb.  They must have quite a few because they had a table with a cash box.  We got 2 large bulbs of garlic. (or is it cloves or heads--I don't know)
The fair has been going this week and it sounds like they have had lots of business and work.  We have missed being with them at the fair.  It is always a good time to be with our family.  
Breading the Shrimp!  Fun! (love the tongue)
Blessing:  We found out today that Summer was helped last night to avoid an accident.  She was leaving the house and looked at the oncoming traffic and thought that it was alright, but felt that she needed to wait.  A car came roaring by and she ended up following it and it wrecked about 1/4 mile from our house at the canal.  The driver was able to jump the canal and then roll the car past the bridge and wasn't injured.  He was drunk and if she hadn't waited--we don't want to even think about that.  We are so happy that she will be celebrating her 18th birthday on Wednesday.  
Happy Birthday Summer, Elizabeth, Grandpa Butch, & Roger!  We love you all!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 6, 2015

September 6, 2015
The milk can dinner was a big hit.  Everyone loved it and we had a good turnout.  It was relaxing and people enjoyed sitting around visiting with each other.  I couldn’t believe how much food the Millers had in the one can.  One can held enough food for 50 people.  First he put whole, clean potatoes in the bottom of the can, then he had carrots wrapped in cheesecloth, kielbasa wrapped in cloth, and then onions and cabbage, then whole ears of corn and a couple of quarts of water and sat it on the single burner camp chef and steamed it for over an hour.  It was delicious.  (Barbara and Kelly—you may want to have an evening every once in a while with this at Rusty Lantern; people loved it)  The potatoes were so moist and everything tasted fresh.  We have tried looking online for a can like their (that won’t rust) and they are quite high; $120-200.  

Brother Chuck Lehman, Sister Merrill, Elder Miller

Brother Lehman 

I warned the Elders to be careful--injuries on a mission are not good!
The weather was perfect; not too hot or cool.  We had several non-members that came and they had a good time also.  The other senior missionaries in the branch did a short home evening for the branch.  Several said that we should do something like this every month.  I think people need to socialize more—it bonds people together. 
We had a good week at work and Elder Merrill only has 1 pickup left to sale.  He started with 11 and is down to 1.  He has decided that he doesn’t want to be a used car salesman when he gets home though. 
We went to the Dr. here in Rochester (Dr. Pulley)  and visited with him about blood pressure, etc.  He is a member of the church that the mission uses for medical needs.  He surprised me by being quite young.  He said that he is from Utah and his wife is from Texas.  He did his residency here and then they went back to Utah.  A couple of years later they felt that they should move and they both decided that they wanted to come back to New York.  He is very friendly and after having my blood pressure taken and seeing that it was in the normal range, I wondered what had been wrong in Idaho when it had gone higher.  I guess our bodies are just trying to keep us guessing.  I am trying (a little bit) to eat less salt or the ‘no salt’ substitute.  We are trying to get more exercise and eat less.  PHEW!
I had a call from a man this week that will be coming to our mission in the next month or two.  He had a question on insurance.  (which I know nothing about)   He told me that he has Medicare and Blue Cross insurance and that Blue Cross had told him that it wasn’t portable from state to state.  He wondered what other missionaries were doing and we had a good talk.  One of the sisters in the office had a supplemental that she loved and said it was portable and so I told him about her insurance.  We got talking about it and –sure enough after Dennis made a call he found out that our supplemental (Blue Cross) isn’t portable either.  They told him that once they found out you’re were not in Idaho they would give you 6 months coverage time to get another insurance.  Isn’t that crazy?  So, he got another supplemental that will work here In New York.  That call was timely.  We want to be covered.
We had MLS (Mission Leadership Council) on Friday and we served them dinner.  I made the meat and did Swiss Chicken.  I had 2 cake pans full of chicken and then one of the big aluminum (throw away) pans full.  Well, the ovens at the church had been cleaned by the FM group and I didn’t think anything of it.  We could smell it cooking and I didn’t go back to check the ovens.  Dang!  The ovens were set for 325 for 1.5 hours.  Well, we served the 2 cake pans full to the missionaries, but when we went to serve the other pan, it was raw.  I hurried and asked them to come back to the table and put their chicken back into the pan and we baked it in the good oven and served them their meat 2 hours later.  It was embarrassing, but I was so glad that no one had tried to eat it.  We are having the ovens checked out.  I think something got disconnected when they cleaned it.  Funny thing, it would heat up a little bit and had cooked the top part of the chicken but hadn’t finished the job.
Verl and Jan Dial called us and wanted to meet for a visit.  We were excited to hear from them.  Their daughter, Annalee, lives on the army base in Syracuse.  They drove over to Palmyra Friday and we meet them in the afternoon and visited with them.  Their granddaughter will be baptized on Sunday.  Both sets of grandparents flew to New York for that ordinance.  I told Nicole that she was lucky little girl to have such great grandparents to fly across the United States for her baptism.  It was good to see them! 

The Dials and Merrills

Jan and Verl Dial with Sister and Elder Merrill at the Smith farm
We went to Seneca Camp on Saturday to meet the Kenworthys.  We drove through a little town that had a grocery store that said—‘One day a year Meat Bonanza Today’.  Of course, we had to stop—who wants to miss a meat bonanza/palooza?  The prices on their meat were pretty good and we bought a few packages to stick in the freezer.  Dennis is becoming a New Yorker quicker than I am –he likes their hot dogs.  They have red hots and white hots and he likes them both.  (that has nothing to do with spice)  We had to go back home to put the meat into the freezer before we could go to Seneca Camp.  We met the Kenworthys and the Fowlers and went to Rose Hill Mansion.  It is a historic spot where a family named Swann lived and raised their family.  I’m not sure why that makes it special or important, but it was interesting.  It was a very warm day and we went into the mansion and viewed the basement.  It was quite large, musty, and cool.  The main floor felt pretty good and then the 2nd floor with most of the family bedrooms was pretty warm.  As we ascended the next floor I leaned over and told the group below, “good news, it’s warmer up here!”  The poor lady giving the tour was pouring sweat and her hair was getting wet.  THEN, we went up another floor—and it became unbelievably hot.  We ended up in a ‘crow’s nest’ type thing where we could look out over Lake Seneca.  It was really pretty, but the heat was still cooking us even with the windows open.  It was such a blessing to get out of the mansion!  The temperature outside felt so nice.  We went to the Ponderosa for supper.  We had a nice steak and a great visit.  (we didn’t see Ben, Joe, Hoss, or Adam Cartwright)

The formal dining room
Elder Don Kenworthy, Sister Dawna Kenworthy (from near St. George) and Elder Merrill
We had church today and our testimony meeting was very good.  The Sanders (the other senior couple in our branch) had some of their family members visiting.  It was a great boost for the branch.
The Sanders family.  They are from near Heber City, Utah  (2 of their kids didn't make it for the surprise)
We were told about doing online donations and that is wonderful.  We will be able to get our mission payment to Grant easier. 

I had a funny thing happen; I sent Carol Beesley a text asking for their address and for a lasagna recipe.  I had texted her before, but this time someone texted me back that I had the wrong number.  I said, no-I need to send Carol Beesley some money,  I got back that this wasn’t Carol Beesley.  I said sorry.  So then I texted Cliff Beesley’s number and signed it Sister Merrill.  Well, I got this message, You Mormons.  Tell you what I’ll give you my address and I’ll throw you a random lasagna recipe if you can send me some of your guyses magic underwear :-}  I wrote, “is this Bishop Beesley?”  they wrote, “I’ll be your Bishop Beasley baby.  Lol  I knew then I didn’t have the right party.  They had changed cell phones and I now have the right numbers.  Cliff and Carol got a good laugh out of it.