Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!  There are several places here that are decorated up and they are very spooky and FUN!  TRICK OR TREAT!
We worked, went to the Temple, and had a great week.  Things are going great here.  Our
'Ponderizing' scripture for the week is D & C 58:42  Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.  Isn't that wonderful?  As I was quickly washing dishes at the camp last week so we could leave, I made a HUGE error--I didn't wash a soup pan down in the bottom very well.  The sister drying the dishes took a look at it and giggled and I said, 'it's the job of the dryer to make the dish washer look good' (told to me by Aunt Beulah one day while we were doing dishes at Glen and Ranae's). The bottom of the pan had a big gob of soup left on the bottom.  (I was really embarrassed)  We had a great laugh!  I have thought about that mess in the pan and how our sins look something like that and how they can be blotted out (or washed properly through the Lord) and remembered no more.  It has been a great lesson!
When Grandma Merrill, Marilyn, Hannah, and Becca were here we saw the gardeners at the Temple planting mums.  The flowers they were pulling up were so beautiful and I was so sad, but look at the beautiful mums now!

While we were having our weekly staff meeting a delivery man came into the office and left a large box.  After the meeting I told Dennis it was something from his TIWI (black box for cars) place.  (I didn't look very close because here is what he opened up--

We were so surprised and shocked!  It didn't have a card on it so I sent out a text to all of our kids. Brad sent it to us.  We had mentioned about the milk can dinners and how we were looking for one, and magically it appeared.  We are going to make homemade root beer for the mission Christmas party.  That should be a hit!  Thank you so much!  It's '''so beautiful I don't know about cooking in it.  (but we will when we get home, plan on it!)
Elder Merrill, Elder Longhurst, Elder Clinger (the AP's -Assistants to the President) and Sister Merrill 
Elder Longhurst is related to Cindy and is such a nice guy.  Every time we try to take his picture he gets the cheesiest grin on his face and we tell him, 'you don't have to smile so hard'.  (reminds me when Brad was little and kept telling me that he didn't know how to smile for pictures)  Elder Clinger is from Connie Ball's ward in Idaho Falls and is a great guy (very smart with techie stuff)
Well, we have found a product that is better than 'worm squirm' (to bring worms to the surface).  Our walnut tree out in front has dropped lots of nuts.  They have a big crust on the outside of the shell and so Dennis took off some of the husks and the directions told him to wash the nuts thoroughly.  He did and then dumped it onto the lawn.  The worms came boiling up.  They didn't like it at all.  He dumped some more a few days later in the same spot and there weren't any worms living in that area.  They had either died or moved away from the walnut shell sub-division.  It was crazy!  We are letting the nuts dry now and then we will crack them and see if they are any good.
We had munch and mingle last Sunday after church and it got very awkward.  A lady had foot surgery about 4 or so weeks ago and was sitting on the perimeter of the gym eating her food.  We have a family in the branch that have 5 little kids that don't have any discipline and are very wild. They were running and the oldest boy stepped on the sisters foot.  She came unglued!  Another lady nicely informed him to go back and apologize and she took him over to do it.  He did and she started screaming at him again.  There was a lot of whispering and stares after that and we hope that someone can help each party feel better.  (the branch President was in a meeting at the time)  We will see tomorrow what happens.  The missionaries were upset because that is a good way to make people not want to come again.
Okay, to end with a funny story--last week at the retreat one of the missionaries, who is a sister working in FM (facility maintenance) told about them being asked to build a small room in the top of the Temple while the Temple was closed for 2 weeks.  So they began that task and she was asked one morning to go to Lowe's and get supplies for the day.  She was driving one of the bigger trucks to Macedon and noticed a man lying on the side of the road and didn't know if she should stop, but felt that she should.  She did but didn't want to venture too far away from her truck in case he was trouble. She couldn't hear the man when she asked questions and so she ended up going over to him.  She asked what the problem was and he said his legs wouldn't work.  After a few more questions she asked him what his name was.  He said God.  She couldn't believe it and repeated, "GOD?"  He said it again and then spelled it, G-O-D.  She tried to get him up in various awkward ways and couldn't so she called her husband who told her to call 911.  She did and immediately 2 cop cars were there.  They came over and said, "Tod, you were doing so good--9 months on the wagon.  What happened?"  She said the combination of his being old, drunk and without teeth made it sound like God.  She thought she had met God on the way to Lowe's.
It is supposed to be in the 70's again next week.  That will be wonderful!  (although it hasn't been very cold yet)  Still beautiful!
Life is good, we are happy and healthy, and some what wise!  (we always take suggestions on that one)
Take care of each other and love everyone!  We are so appreciative of all our family and friends!  Thank you for being so wonderful!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oct. 25, 2015

Oct. 25, 2015
Sunday (Oct. 18th) on our way to church in Batavia (1 hr. drive) we drove into snow.  Here is the first snow of the winter:
(I Look like a jolly fat snowman!)
Good use of old tires, right!
Another week in paradise!  We began the week by having our weekly meeting and we are always inspired by the leadership of President Francis.  He is a great leader and makes us want to be better missionaries.  We had a lunch for Sister Paskett and Elder Workman’s birthdays.  We had tacos and I made lemon meringue pies for dessert. 
The colors here are beautiful.  The trees are red, yellow, orange and every shade in between.  It is hard to describe the beauty of this place.  The grass is still green and the winter wheat is growing very well and then you have a background of so many fall colors of the trees.  This picture really doesn’t even do it justice.
This is the Hill Cumorah, still doesn't do it justice!
We drove by a Chevrolet dealer in Macedon that had a few Corvette's on their lot.  Dennis counted 39.

On Thursday afternoon we went over to Seneca Lake camp and had our semi-annual Senior Couple retreat.  It is good to be together with the other couples and we were taught by many of them, including our President.  We ate, laughed, rode the golf carts, and had great conference type meetings.  
Elder Dieu looking at the millstone (don't want that thing around my neck)

Sister Dieu and Sister Kennedy--beautiful fall colors!
I couldn't talk them into doing the Mama Mia jump into the water
We heard from the missionaries preparing to return home and also from those who are working so hard out in the field to make a difference in the lives of those they contact.  We love all of these good people!  Everyone has fun stories from their lives that add to everyone’s testimonies.  It’s also interesting how many of them are serving with their 2nd companion.  (another marriage)  It makes me so glad that we have been able to serve a mission together.  Our mission has been a blessing to our marriage.  I haven’t been able to spend this much time with my husband and it is good to be together.  He has such a willingness to help and do things for others.  He loves to serve!  I love my companion!
We stayed overnight at the camp and had another full day on Friday.  While we were in one of our breakout sessions Steve Aldrich called and talked to Elder Merrill.  They are ready to come to New York.  Now we just need to see if our President can make that happen and how quickly they can come.  We are hoping they will be during our stay also.  They may not like New York in the winter too much, but it doesn’t last forever, right?  We are lucky to be able to be here for 2 winters.  We are used to the winters in Idaho and it isn’t too much different here.
Now a subject that was brought up quite a bit at the conference.  Mental illness—there seems to be LOTS of it here.  Why??  Is there a lot of it at home and I am just so na├»ve that I don’t recognize or realize it?  I asked another Sister why she thought there was so much.  We discussed the poverty level here and the welfare attitude.  We also wondered about more drug abuse than we are used to.  Everyone!  Please keep your minds healthy!  Don’t give away your sanity for the use of drugs, alcohol or other substances!  I want to be able to think clearly to make good decisions and choices.  I want to follow the Savior and be like Him.  If we are willing to dull our senses, we are risking the consequences of the choices that follow.  Please stay safe, there is safety in living the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Happy birthday to Greg, Annette, Brent, and Chuck (and anyone I missed)  I am so proud of you!  

Isn't this the best idea EVER!  Leave it to Wegman's to figure this out.  I always want to scream when I had to take little kids by all things tempting!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17, 2015

October 18, 2015
What a great week! It began last Saturday night when we went over to Westfall for the evening session of our Stake Conference.  It was a great session and a young mother told of her path to conversion.  She had such a strong testimony and it was great!  We had an area authority and one of the 70, Elder Randall Bennett and his wife spoke.  They were here to reorganize our stake and so the present Presidency spoke also.  Elder Bennett’s wife did a great job and told of her older brother that was diagnosed with a disease that was worse than MS.  He stayed in a home for the early part of his life so he could have constant care.  He came home in his teens and was sent there to die.  His Patriarchal Blessing told him that he would have a family and so he made it a practice to always work so hard that he would be able to do anything that he wanted and able to do physically.  He served an at-home mission and converted a young lady that he later married and had 2 children.  (which was a medical miracle)  He died around 38, but was always happy and wanting to beat the odds.  She said that he has been such an example to her in her life and when things get hard—she thinks of him and works harder.
Brad, Sara, and the kids came into Rochester about 11:05 on Saturday night and it was great to see them!  We talked, snacked, and caught up when we got home.  It’s hard for everyone that visits because of the time change.  On Sunday we had a nice breakfast and went over to the Sacred Grove.  

While we were there we ran into Elder Bennett and his wife and asked them about the new Stake President.  It wasn’t anyone we knew, but it was fun to see them there.  I am really sad that I didn’t think to get a picture with them while we there—I will remember next time. We went to the Temple grounds and then to the Hill Cumorah.  It was a little windy (blew my hair completely back), but a nice afternoon.  

We came home and made tacos and had fun playing games.  We watched a couple of church videos also.
We went into the office for our meeting on Monday and then our family met us at the office and we drove to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  We had a great time on the Maid of the Mist and the kids loved it.  

The ride home got a little long and we stopped off at the Lamb Dairy and watched the cow merry-go-round.  The kids really liked that.  We went into Batavia and showed them where we had lived and then got some Buffalo Wings to take home.  We were DONE riding by the time we made it back. 
Tuesday we went to the office and they came in about 11:00 and we went over to Palmyra and went to the Grandin Printing Shop where the Book of Mormon was first printed.  I always love that tour and it amazes me how much work it was to make it happen.  We enjoyed the tour and the went to Nima’s for a calzone.  Jex was excited to have one because Conner had really talked them up to him.  Some times when things are talked up too highly they are a disappointment to the person trying them.  I still think that they liked them. 
We went into the office for a while and then left before noon.  It got cooler and rainier each day while they were here, but it seemed to work out just right to see what we wanted to.  We stopped in Waterloo and went to Sauders, the Mennonite Store, and Brad pulled a fast one on me.  Story:  Dennis had been saying that he wanted to try a grape (concord) pie because one of the Elders had said that they were popular in New York.  Well, we looked at them a couple of times, but I hate to pay $10 or more for a pie--and thought about all the years that my mother had made grape juice and how the inside of the grape didn’t appeal to me very much.  So, we hadn’t bought one.  Well, Brad came up to me in the store and said, “a man I was talking to said that if I ever got to a place that had grape pie, I should get one and try it.”  So, I said, “you are in luck, they sell them here at this store,” and we started over to the counter where they had them.  Then it dawned on me WHO the MAN was and I laughed and I bought Dennis the pie he wanted.  We went over to the Whitmer Farm in Fayette on Wednesday and took the tour there.  Afterward we went to the Seneca Camp and had a great time exploring and riding the golf carts. 
Exploring at the camp
Brad wanted to go to Kirtland and see what it looked now after being home from his mission 18 years ago.  We got permission from the President and we drove to Kirtland and saw the Temple that is owned by the Church of Christ (they used to be called the RLDS).  It was nice to see and they have a visitors center there that charges for the tours so that they can keep it up.  It was in good repair and I could almost see it as it was when so many miraculous events took place there.  The tour was interesting and the history was very near to what we teach, but after Nauvoo their history changed. 

We went over to the Visitor Center for our church and the N.K. Whitney store.  I love this tour as it talks about the ‘school of the prophets’ held upstairs in the store and that Jesus and God had both been there.  It such a great feeling to know that such sacred events didn’t stop with the Old Testament prophets and that the heavens have been opened again.

We stayed overnight at Embassy Suites on the outskirts of Cleveland and then on Friday we went over to Nelson Ledges where Brad had climbed as a missionary on P-day and had fallen into a crevice when the dirt gave away after a jump.  He was hospitalized for 2-3 days with that injury.  He didn’t recognize the place too clearly, but he thinks that he found the place that he fell.  It was a place I wouldn’t want to fall and I know he has been blessed many times in his life with safety.  It was so beautiful and green there.  There must be more rain there because everything had nice coats of moss on it. 

We went to the Johnson Farm afterward and I really enjoyed the tour there.  The Johnson's had a nice home and had worked hard to get their home and farm.  One of their grown children had joined the church and they weren’t very happy about that.  They asked their minister to look into the church and tell them what he found out.  He didn’t find out much, but brought a Book of Mormon to their home and the 2 couples studied it for a weekend.  They couldn’t quit reading and when they stopped they went to Kirtland (about 20 miles) looking for Joseph Smith and were baptized the next day after meeting him.  They were so kind that they offered their home to the Smiths and the church headquarters was in their home for about a year.  The Prophet was tarred and feathered while living there and they lost one of the Murdoch twins there also.  The home was really spacious and nice and way ahead of it’s time for the ‘wild west’. 

The trip home seemed really long and we didn’t get back until after 9:00.  Poor little Tate was ready to be out of the car and run. 
Saturday we had a good breakfast and got ready to take them to the airport for a 2:30 flight.  On the way we stopped off at the Erie Canal and the kids wanted to feed the ducks.  They had a great time feeding the ducks and pigeons (don’t faint Grandma Merrill).  The birds tickled the kids so much and we had wet wipes for afterward.  It was fun to hear them laugh and giggle so much.  I don’t know if I can make it 9 more months without my kids!

Eat your heart out Jill!  Brad has birds eating out of his hands!
It was hard to see them leave!  We had a great time with them! Jex and Mya said that it seemed like every day was Sunday in New York.  I asked them if that was bad and they said that they really liked it. 

We went into the office Monday-Thursday for a few hours each day to keep up, and while there I kept having a thought about complainers (I know, weird—but) and how we all have choices to make and we can either be happy or complain and make ourselves and others miserable.  I have run into some of the nicest people here and then I have dealt with a few that only want to complain.  I want to work harder at being the happy person and not the complainer.  (people don’t really like dealing with complainers) I thought about something my mother has told all of us kids at one time or another, “you’d complain if you were hung with a new rope.”  Not complaining--Something to me to work on!
Ride Hard and Always Have Fun!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oct. 10, 2015

Oct. 10, 2015
We had a great week!  We had transfers on Monday and got 3 new missionaries, 1 Sister and 2 Elders.  They were so tired when they arrived at the mission home and we fed them spaghetti, garlic bread, salad, and sherbet and a cookie.  It’s hard to give them too much information when they are so tired.  (they get up at the MTC about 3:30 to get to the airport and then fly all day)  We did give them a couple hours of instruction and hope that they heard some of it.
On Tuesday we had transfers and I always love that meeting.  The new missionaries are given their trainer companion and they look so relieved to be with them.  The missionaries that are changing companions are there to make the exchange and then the ones going home get to bear their testimonies.  That is the best part!  Some of them try to be funny and some try to give instructions to the new missionaries; but the best part is hearing of their growth and love of the gospel.  Our Elder Cashmore went home this week.  It was hard to see him go.  He was so good to us when we came to the mission.
After we finished with our work we took off and met Chuck and Janet.  They had been to Florida and then to Albany with Ed and Marie and they met us between Rochester and Albany.  It was a nice day and the drive was pretty.  We got back to Pittsford and ate a burger at Tom Wahls.  We talked and played games and had a great evening.
On Wednesday we went into work early and stayed until about 11:00.  We went over to Henrietta and showed them Aldi (our discount grocery store; which we found out from them that their German exchange student from several years ago is in Florida and managing Aldi there and that Aldi is a German store that they have brought here—that made it even more fun!)  We ate lunch at Red Lobster and then we went to the Sacred Grove and spent some time there.  

A tall, funny mushroom we found growing in the Sacred Grove
We also took a short tour of the museum of Coverlets in Palmyra.  That was interesting, and we couldn’t believe that people would be able to do such intricate work with the looms they had.  We took them to Moe’s for supper and then we went to the movie called, ‘The Intern’.  I recommend it!  It was really good.  The theater we went to had reclining seats that were super comfortable. 
We went into work and came back about 11:00 on Thursday.  We went over to the Seneca Camp and had a great time there.  We ate at Friendly’s on the way.  It was good and they WERE friendly.  We went to the Mennonite grocery store and looked around there.  They have nice produce and their apples are good and cheap.  We got back in time to walk to Brigham Young’s baptismal site and then we went to Mendon for a piece of pizza.  It was pretty good, but large!

On Friday we took Janet and Chuck to the airport for their 5:30 a.m. flight.  The weather had been really good while they were here, but it was pouring on the way to the airport.  The day stayed cool and rainy.  We were sure happy to have them here and hear about things at home and in our ward.  We were able to get an hour nap before we had to get ready for work and then we spent the day at the office.  After work we went with Sister Paskett to get things at Sam’s Club for the mission and then we showed her the Aldi store too.  We had to go to President Francis’s home and change the ‘transfer board’ (where all the missionaries are each transfer). 

Today is Saturday and we are busy cleaning and getting ready to have Brad, Sara, and the kids for the week.  They come in tonight at 11:15.  We are so happy to have them come.  The weather is nice again and Dennis cleaned up a bunch of walnuts off the front lawn.  They keep falling on the house and it makes a loud thud.  

We have Stake conference tonight and that will be good.  After conference we will just go to the airport and wait for our precious family.  

Blessings:  Knowing that we can be together forever as a family through the wonderful plan of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I can't think of anything that would/could be better than being with the people we love!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oct. 4, 2015

October 4, 2015
Wow, I can’t believe its October already!  Happy Birthday Sara! Happy Birthday Cache!  Happy Birthday Nancy!  Happy Birthday Tessa!  Happy Birthday Willie & Sadie!  Happy Birthday Diane! I hope I haven’t missed any that are this week or last.
We have been happy and healthy.  We are getting 3 new missionaries this week.  It is always fun to get new missionaries, but we have to say good bye to 3 also.  One of the Elders that helped us adjust when we arrived in Batavia and  will be leaving on Wednesday.  He is such a great guy and good missionary.  We will miss Elder Blake Cashmore.  It’s  great to get  to know the missionaries and love them.  He has eyes that are similar to Tate’s.
We felt bad that Grandma and Becca had trouble getting home and having to sit in the plane at JFK.  That problem sounded so familiar after the trip we had from Idaho Falls to Buffalo.  They didn’t have to sit all night in the airport, but were delayed long enough that they didn’t make their connection in Idaho Falls.  It was nice that Delta got them a room at the Marriott.  Airlines are not like they used to be and flying isn’t near as fun!
We had beautiful weather when Grandma, Marilyn, Becca Hanna, and Charlie were here.  The morning we went to the airport it began to rain and then it rained and was cold all week.  (small miracle that the weather was so nice for our company) and the leaves started turning beautiful colors.  Today (Sunday) it is nice again outside and a little warmer.  I’m not ready for winter yet, so I hope it stays nice for a little longer.
Dennis is thrilled—3 car wrecks this week!  (no, he isn’t thrilled)  He’s wondering what will happen when the weather turns snowy and slick.  It’s like having 135 teenage drivers—TERROR!  We feel especially grateful that there haven’t been any injuries to go with the wrecks.  We are blessed!
We were able to go to the Temple on Friday night after work.  It was good to be there.  We had a pretty big session, 9 sisters and 11 brothers.  That sounds small, but it’s one of the big ones here.
We can pick up conference online, but we drove over to Batavia for the Saturday conference.  We had a nice meal between the sessions.  The sister that planned the meal was hoping for lots of people to come, but only 16 came.  (so the rest missed out)  We had turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.  It was really good.  That is more than what we had in April for conference.  Everyone counts here!
Conference was wonderful!  We loved it!  (I especially loved the Priesthood session—you can all watch it online at  All the talks were so good and inspired.  I really liked the one about the little kids digging a hole and making a mud pool and the grandma wouldn’t let him inside.  Isn’t that just like Heaven—we need to be clean through Jesus Christ to enter into Heaven.  I have found that taking notes on the talks really helps me to understand better and retain much more.
We are excited about this coming week.  Chuck and Janet Summers are coming to stay a couple of days.  They have been to Florida with Blake and his family and they stopped in Syracuse to see Ed (Chuck’s snowmobiling friend) and then they are going to come over here and fly home on Friday on Friday. Brad and Sara and kids are coming Saturday night late for a week stay.  We are so happy to have them come to see us.  This should be a great week!  We have figured out how to do our work and enjoy our company too.  It really has been a blessing to have a Mission President that encourages our families to come and see the sites while we are here (only the senior couples—young missionaries are not included in this—so there are perks in being OLD).  That has really helped me to not get homesick.  (plus going home 2 times) 

We are so lucky to be living in this time when the gospel has been restored and the truths are abundant.  I don’t know why I have been so lucky to have such a great husband, family, and friends but everyone has made my life so joyful!  I am so grateful for you!  The church is true and Heavenly Father does love us all.  Jesus is our Savior and loves and pleads for us to come to Him.  How wonderful is this knowledge?