Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dec. 27, 2015

Last week flew by in a hurry!  We began our week by having our weekly meeting and afterward we had a surprise birthday for President Francis.  His birthday is on Dec. 23.  His sons are here from BYU Provo and they picked up lunch from Olive Garden.  It was very nice and fun! 
We had to purchase things for the mission party last week and Monday evening.  We were busy ‘making a list and checking it twice’.  Elder Spencer is in charge of mail and referrals.  We have received an enormous amount of packages for the young missionaries.  However, there were several that didn’t receive anything and some that had 10 or more packages.  I can see where that would be upsetting for the ones that didn’t get anything.  We have been purchasing gifts for the missionaries that didn’t get a package at all.  There were 11 elders and 9 sisters that didn’t get anything.  We were blessed that we had an anonymous donor that gave us $160 to help with the cost of gifts.  (that didn’t cover it, but really helped)  We also had 2 wards in Utah that sent packages.  One ward sent 6 gifts for guys and one ward sent 5 packages for girls.  That really helped too.  They called and offered to help.  (some people are so in tune to need)  Those packages went to those missionaries here from other countries.
On Wednesday we began getting ready for the party.  The Spencer’s and the Merrill’s cooked 106 lbs. of pork for pulled pork tacos and about the time we wanted to begin setting up tables and chairs a couple of local missionaries stopped by and said they had a feeling that they should stop.  We put them right to work and they were so much help. 
On Thursday the party began at 10:00 and went to 4:00.  The missionaries were so happy to see all the other missionaries.  It was a great time for them.  They put on 2 talent shows.  One that was chapel friendly and one that was cultural hall friendly.  They demonstrated great talents.  I wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed the performances, but I was worried about getting the food on the table and ready at 12:00.  We had chips and cheesy-salsa dip, pork tacos with all the trimmings and then all the senior missionaries brought the desserts.  (anything they wanted)  We had tons of food!  No one went hungry.  Everyone said they liked it. 

Elder Merrill and I like popcorn and had tried some purchased popcorn from the stores here, but nothing was very good.  We bought the really good 50 lb. bag from Sam’s Club and took our popper to the party.  (it was as good as we remembered)  He popped 2 giant tubs full of popcorn and the missionaries loved it!  (I mean those storage type tubs—not little bowls)  When the party was over the youngest Francis boy (just turned 12) poured all the popcorn into a garbage bag and took it home.  He loved it!  Now we have lots of popcorn and Elder Merrill will probably be known as ‘the popcorn King’ because we will have to serve it every where we go.  We were BONE TIRED when we got home and just sat on the couch and starred into space.  We had the Spencer’s come over and we watched Mr. Kruger’s Christmas and played a little Skipbo.  I had thought about making Gritmascoverpo (our Norwegian tradition on Christmas Eve), but decided that it would be something I would just wait for next year. 
We woke up on Christmas and waited until it was late enough to start calling our kids to see how their Christmas was.  I love Facetime.  It was so fun to see the things they were talking about and laugh with them.  It made us homesick, but we just pushed it aside for now and we shall ‘stay strong, be calm and carry on’.
I had invited 7 senior couples for dinner at 2:00 and 5 could come.  The Spencer’s offered to host the party because they actually have room for a party at their home.  We met and ate and then went on a tour of the Tomlinson Inn, walked (without snow) to the baptismal site for Brigham Young, and went to the Tomlinson cemetery.  It was a great day.  The Clark family has been living in the Tomlinson Inn but had moved to Connecticut to be near their son who received a full ride scholarship for music.  They were here for the week and opened up the home for an open house on Christmas day.  I talked Jacob into playing a piano piece for us before we left.  It was amazing.  He had taken familiar carols and put them together in a piece he had developed.  We all loved it!

On Saturday we did a little shopping and moved cars for the mission.  Elder Merrill was given the assignment to get the mission a new luggage/furniture trailer (the old one had come off the hitch when the President was taking missionaries to the airport last week and he didn’t trust it any more) and so Dennis found a newer, nicer one.  The old one is 9 years old and he couldn’t see anything wrong with the hitch, but the church authorized the new one.  He worked really hard to find this one and make the deal on it.  The dealer will give us $500 for the old one, and the Spencer’s want to purchase it.  (we thought it would be good to bring our stuff home, oh-well!)
We received many nice things from our family and friends.  Thank you all so much!  We have had so many blessings!  At church today Brother Lehman came up to Dennis and said, ‘did you drop this on the floor?”  It was a nice German made pocket knife in Christmas d├ęcor.  He wanted Dennis to have it.  What a great friend he is. 

Also, Sharon Grafrath (from Batavia) said she called and ordered candy from the Caramel Tree for her daughter in Colorado and talked to Chris for some time and she thought that he was number #1. 

It is a blessing to belong to a family and love each and every one.  That is what heaven is!  We are so blessed.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dec. 20, 2015

This week has been a whirlwind!  We went to the Westfall building last Sunday night and our Stake put on a musical event that went along with Charles Dickens ‘Christmas Carole’.  The music was very difficult and the singers were great.  It was very good.  I don’t remember hearing Dickens in that much of a religious way before.  I guess someday I will need to read it and see what it really does say. 
Monday we had a good day.  Each day now we get tons of packages in for the missionaries.  We hold them until someone is going that way or they are coming to the office.  We are not holding everything until Christmas Eve (this week—can’t believe it!)   After work we went (us and the Spencer’s) over to the Smith Farm and they had a nice program there.  They had a short DVD, caroling and games.  We didn’t have the hot chocolate and cookies.  We left that for the ones coming.  It was a nice evening with a slow drizzle.  (umbrellas are great here)  Afterward we went over to the Hill Cumorah and saw their display of nativities.  It was nice, but we have seen so many more at the Visitors Center and Stake Center near the Temple in Idaho Falls.  Then we took Spencer’s to Nima’s to be initiated.  They liked their pizza pie!
This couple represented Father and Mother Smith in the log home
I found someone at the Hairzoo to cut my hair and took me in after work.  It was nice to get it shaped up a little bit.  She cut it quite short in the back, which was probably what I told her.  It does feel good to have it under control again.  (I really miss Becky and Jill)
We celebrated our 44th anniversary with the Spencer’s on Wednesday at the Cheesecake Factory.  Guess what we shared??  Of course, Bang, Bang, Chicken and Shrimp.  We are such creatures of habit.  We always order what we know and like when we go out.  It was a special time and we enjoyed it.  

We went a day early because we had a Temple appointment with the Haggerty’s on Thursday evening.  Bill fell and didn’t feel like going to the Temple so Leslie came and we did a session with her.  It was very nice.  I did one of her family names and she asked me afterward if I had any trouble with the name.  I said, ‘no’ and she said that especially gave me that name because it was Bill’s aunt and that the aunt didn’t like her.  She had done her baptism a year earlier and she felt that the aunt wasn’t happy about it and kept making Leslie feel weird.  She waited a year to do the endowment to see if she felt differently about things.  LOL   I asked why the aunt didn’t like her and she said that she had divorced Bill a few years ago because they just couldn’t get along.  They were divorced 2 years and then their daughter-in-law invited them out to supper and they both came at the same time.  They worked out their differences and remarried.  Crazy, huh?
We went shopping on Friday after work to get things for the Christmas Eve party for the mission.  We are feeding 200+ people pulled pork tacos .  I think I will be happy to have that party over.  I don’t think it will be that hard, but it will be LOTS of work! 
We had a baptism for a young woman on Saturday in Batavia.  She has been taking the lessons for a while and decided to be baptized.  She is very pretty and her family came from Arabia.  She has 2 really cute little boys and her husband is nice, but decided not to join.  They were a great support, however.  The baptism was very nice.  After the talks the Branch President welcomed her into the branch and said that he normally gives new members a quad.  However, this time was different; because she was young and had good eyes and because she had some lessons with Brother Stephenson and the Elders –Brother Stephenson was going to give her his wife's small quad.  (his wife passed away in Sept.)   It was so touching—this little gal sobbed when he handed her those scriptures.  They meant so much to her.  I was so glad that we had been in attendance.  
Elder Detlor, Elder Longhurst, Yasmeen and Justin with the kids, Elder Gibby and Elder Scott

President Francis with Bill Haggerty after the baptism
After the meeting we went out to Albion and did home teaching there.  We also got more ingredients for the party and then went home. 
Well, I am going to report on our Christmas ‘giving’ present.  We ended up unwrapping everything (for us) so that we would know who to give things to.  Today was our last day before Christmas at the branch.  We had so many nice things to give away.  (that was such a great idea our kids had)  We had to think about each gift and if it would be gladly accepted and used by our intended recipient.  We gave out many gifts today and I think everyone loved it.  We had 2 CDs, 4 Christmas DVDs, 5 Nativity DVD, 6 ties/gloves, 7games, and so on.  It was fun!
We are reading the New Testament now each verse seems to have such a familiar ring.  I have loved reading about the life of our Savior, especially at this time of year.  We are so blessed to have this information and be able to learn more about Jesus and our Heavenly Father.  Isn’t it interesting that Jesus says that if we know Him, then we also know Heavenly Father.  (Not that they are the same person, but that they are unified in their looks and actions) 
We have received some cards from our Grant ward members and we love reading them and hearing about their lives.  We love and miss them!  I still can’t believe Julie Browning is 75!

Happy birthday Kelly Hart (last week); Happy Anniversary Chuck and Janet (last week; and good luck and quick recovery to Barbara Hart (for her knee replacement last week)
The wind caught my umbrella and popped it inside out

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dec. 13, 2015

We had a great week!  We had Elder Schwitzer, from the Quorum of the 70, come to our mission to visit Monday-Wednesday.  He came to Buffalo on Monday and was there for their Mission Leadership Counsel and then a Zone conference.  On Tuesday he came to Rochester and had a Zone conference with the Palmyra Zones and Rochester Zones.  It was really good.  He talked about several things with the missionaries:
First, he discussed how Satan changes things that are wrong to appear right.  How making words appear good and not bad.  So many things that have been wrong in past years are now acceptable and approved.  That was so true—especially looking at society and how things are degrading so much.
Second, he talked about bring the 1 back to the fold.  He showed the picture of Jesus with the lamb about his neck.  He told how Christ had directed the Apostles to go leave the 99 and go after the 1 that was lost.  We are all asked to do this—help recover those that are lost.  He mentioned that how a lamb of that size would probably kick someone’s head pretty badly when they tried to get them onto their shoulders and carry them away.  He suggested that this lamb would have been injured, afraid, ashamed, depressed, or hurt.  This lamb couldn’t make it back to the fold on his own.  He had to be carried and helped.  Our brothers and sisters are the same—they need us to carry them and help them back.  It was very interesting! 
Third, he talked about the Book of Mormon and how much education Joseph Smith had when he translated it.  Joseph Smith didn’t have much more than an elementary education, yet he brought up the following incidents that are in the Book of Mormon:
1.      Military strategic plans
2.      Operations of government
3.      Jewish custom and rights
4.      The prophecies of ancient prophets
5.      Scriptural writing styles and then different prophet writing styles
I’m sure I didn’t get everything from this portion, but it was very eye opening.  He quoted so many scripture and explained things in a way I hadn’t thought of before. 
After the meeting, the missionaries left and we fed them a luncheon with 12 people.  I made Chicken Waikiki and we had salad and dessert.  Sister Schwitzer was so friendly and we all loved her.  She told of experiences of being in Russia as the Mission President (wife) and how she had been afraid and that the Lord had strengthened her.  We can do hard things with the help of the Lord!

We went to the Temple with the Haggerty’s on Friday night and the on Saturday we went over to Seneca Lake Camp with the Spencer’s.  We had a good time there.  The weather was around 60.  They loved it!  We went across the stream down by the amphitheater and when I went to cross to the next rock I stepped onto a rock with lots of moss.  It was so slick and I fell down onto my knee and I was afraid that I had messed it up, but I was alright.  I got a little wet, but that didn’t slow us down.  (my pants were a little green)  We went on to Sauder’s (the Mennonite store) and looked around.  They have things I haven’t seen before in regular store. 

We then went over to the Whitmer Farm in Fayette.  We had a great tour there and heard so many things about the restoration of the church.  It is a wonderful place to go and learn about the translation of the Book of Mormon.  
We went over to Batavia after we got home and went to the Haggerty home to help them get ready for the Branch Christmas party.  It was a huge Turkey dinner and there was SO much food!  Sister Lehman and some of the Primary ladies had chaired the night and had gone all out!  It was very nice and there were so many people that I didn’t know or recognize.  We had several investigators and some that were family members of the branch members.  I think it was very successful.  There was a part of the program that was especially fun, Elder Merrill was one of Santa’s helpers and passed out presents to the kids.  He did a good job and one little girl was so sweet and gave him a gift. 

We have so many blessings!  We live in a wonderful country that had freedom of religion and allows us to make choices for ourselves.  We have the gospel in our lives and that enriches everything we are or do.  We have the most wonderful family; extended and immediate.  We have all the necessities of life and to spare.  We have the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and they WANT us back again.  How great are our lives??
We pick up a sister for church each week and we thought it was weird how the landlord had cut the bushes.  They are cut down low and some of the bush is left going through the fence. LOL  Also there are lots of stray cats in the backyard and someone has bought igloos for them to live in.  

Someone got a little (alot) carried away with Christmas gifts to us.  Thank you so much!  What a wonderful idea; the 12 days of Christmas and 1 for us and the others for friends here.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dec. 4, 2015

Dec. 5, 2015
On Monday, Nov. 30, we had our office meeting and following it we held a birthday luncheon for Sister Workman and Sister Spencer.  I had lots of left overs from Thanksgiving and they actually tasted pretty good.  Sister Francis made barbeque chicken and I made ‘Mormon’ potatoes; with the left over rolls, pies, and jello--it was a feast. 
We went to the Temple on Thursday night with the Haggerty’s.  We did sealings and it was very peaceful and calm there.  There really is a tangible spirit while doing sealings.  Those people can either accept or reject this wonderful blessing.  Sister Haggerty had some of her relatives work done, and it is a special thing to do this for someone you are related to.
Dec. 1 was the first accident of the month for Elder Merrill.  Please learn how to back up without hitting other parked cars!  How does an Elder back into a parked car with his companion behind him guiding the way??  Makes me wonder—was this how it actually happened? 
We are all excited to have the Steve and DeAnna Aldrich come to the mission in January.  I know that they will be able to help in many ways.  The senior couples really do so much good in the mission field.  They are called as MLS missionaries (Member Leadership Support) and so they aren’t’ asked to proselyte (but they can).  They help with the ward/branch and help fellowship, support the young missionaries, do what the Bishop asks and find ways to bring back those that are less-active.  The MLS missionaries here do such a great job.  They have found many creative ways to help others.
Sister Spencer told me about her father joining the church.  The kids of the family were first to join during their late teens and early twenties.  Their mother was later baptized and their father held back.  He was baptized at 84.  He was asked to speak after his baptism and he told of how he had watched his family and the things they did and how it hurt him each time his wife went to the Temple without him.  He said how sorry he was that he stayed on the outside looking in.  A good friend to Sister Spencer was at the baptism and hadn’t been baptized either.  She heard that short sentence and asked the missionaries to baptize her also.  She didn’t want to be on the outside looking in either.  Sister Spencer says that her father loved to tell people that he hadn’t been a member for 1 hour before he had his first convert.
Last Sunday a brother from our branch asked if I would talk to him privately.  I said sure.  He began by telling me that he really wants to go on a mission, but that his wife doesn’t.  He then proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t love his wife and that their marriage was just a marriage of convenience.  He said that he had a son and was single and she had a daughter and was single, living with her parents.  They married to help their children.  They have been married 35+ years and have other children (and they are married in the Temple).  I listened and then told him that I didn’t think that she would want to go with him on a mission if she didn’t feel that he loved her.  I suggested that he work on looking for things about her that he liked and then find ways to show love and support for her.  I don’t see how anyone could come on a mission as a couple and have a good experience without love for their companions.  I told him that he needs to build a better relationship at home and then she may want to spend 24/7 with him.  We all need to look for the good in our companions.  It is so easy to see ‘the mote’ (criticize our spouses)  when we really have a ‘beam’ in our own eyes.  I am so blessed to have a companion that treats me with love and respect.  It has been a great experience to share so much time together.  (However, our desks are not side by side, lol)  I have been so impressed with how quickly Elder Merrill has caught onto the computer programs and how efficient he is in doing his job. 
Addie cut her own hair this week.  I had to laugh a little (sorry Jill).  Jill cut her bangs to the skin 2 times.  She was probably Addie’s age or older.  She hid behind an overstuffed chair and chopped them off.  The first time I was shocked and she didn’t seem to be bothered by the look.  The 2nd time I took her to the mirror and asked, “is this really what you want to look like?”  She took a good look and started to cry.  She didn’t do it again.  (well now she cuts lots of hair; must be getting it out of her system)

The AP’s (assistants to the President) are coming over tonight for dinner.  We are going to have shepherd’s pie.  Hope they like it.
We went to Bergen today and had lunch with some of the senior missionaries.  We had a good time and a good lunch at a diner out of the way.  Great P-Day!
Elder Merrill, Elder & Sister Woodhouse, Elder & Sister Workman, Elder and Sister Spencer
Elder & Sister Woodhouse, Sister Merrill, Elder & Sister Workman, Elder & Sister Spencer
It looks like our new shop is coming along pretty well.  It is fun to get the pictures of the progress.

Happy Birthday Karsten Jagielski!  He is 16.  We are so proud of you!