Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feb. 21, 2016

We started out our week with our Monday morning office staff meeting.  We had a lengthy conversation on the need to be accountable for our actions and the need for making that accounting to someone.  It’s nice to allow others the autonomy to make choices and follow through with assignments, but there also needs to be an accounting of that.  We all brought thoughts to the conversation and it was a very good discussion.  My thought is that even Jesus Christ was asked to ‘return and report’—why should we not be asked to do the same?
A little girls was having a baptism party in the gym during our meeting.  (the kids were out for a week of school here)  They asked us to come to the party.  The theme was Alice in Wonderland and we are dressed for the party.
This takes 'extreme' balance

On Tuesday we woke to lots of new snow.  Really this was the first snow of the winter.  Dennis was like a man with a mission (different than a man on a mission).  He went right out and fired up the snow blower and had such a good time using that machine.  It really did a good job and he cleaned up our walks and the Spencer’s also.

Our car in the office parking lot

This is the day after the storm--this little machine does the sidewalks around town
Sister Spencer and Sister Merrill on our way to work
Elder Spencer had a cornea transplant a few weeks ago and he can’t lift, bend or do anything strenuous for a few more weeks.  He finished the walks and we were ready to go to the office.  There were all kinds of people that had slid off the road and we stuck in the gutters.  The news reported accidents on almost every major street and in the afternoon they shut down some of the big roads that move traffic around Rochester.  The church has someone hired to keep the parking lot cleaned out and they had been there before we arrived, but it had snowed quite a bit more and we got stuck in the parking lot.  Elder Merrill was able to get unstuck and park.  It kept snowing and at noon we talked with President Frances and asked if he thought we should go home.  He said that would be alright (if we had our work done—just like what we tell our kids, right?)  We decided that Elder Spencer would lead because his Pathfinder is a little heavier and he might be able to create a path for us to follow.  He is from Arizona and was doing well until his wife told him to stop at the opening to the street because the city had plowed a large drift into the entrance.  He stopped and then he was stuck.  Elder Merrill was able to help them get out and we followed directly in their tracks.  (it was a little tricky)  It snowed about 18 inches in less than 12 hours.  It was really beautiful and we enjoyed watching it from our warm, little home.  I kept thinking about the winds of Idaho and how much of a mess that would have made here.  However, we were lucky and it didn’t cause too many problems and the next morning was beautiful and all the roads were clear. 
We went over to Palmyra to the Temple on Thursday night and enjoyed our time there.  It has been nice to attend the Temple weekly.  We haven’t attended weekly together during our marriage.  Elder Merrill tried to go to the 5:00 a.m. session every Friday when he was the Bishop, but I didn’t accompany him.  I’m anxious to see the changes to the Idaho Falls Temple and hope it will be ready to open again soon after we return home. 
We were able to go over to Palmyra on Saturday and went to see Sister Nalder, one of our senior missionaries that had back surgery 2 weeks ago.  They weren’t home, but we left a little gift for her inside their door.  We then went out to the Palmyra Inn and looked at the artifacts there from the ancient people that inhabited this land.  (Nephites and Lamanites) They had a very nice display.  We then went over to the Hill Cumorah Visitor’s Center and viewed the art display of Liz Lemon Swindle.  We loved them!  Each picture depicts something from the life of Christ.  I will add a couple of the pictures each week on the blog.  (We were able to take pictures of each painting—yes, we asked for permission) 

Mary and Elizabeth greeting
When did He know?
After we returned home we took a big pot of beef stroganoff and went over to Batavia to their monthly pot luck.  We haven’t been attending the pot luck because they usually have much and mingle the Sunday following.  This month we are having fast Sunday on the 3rd Sunday because next Sunday will be our branch conference and the following Sunday will be Stake Conference. 
What a Sunday we have had.  We left home at 7:45 and attended our branch.  It was a nice Sunday and I was able to bare my testimony.  After church we went over to the Haggerty’s and did home teaching, then we drove out to Albion and did home teaching with the Long’s.  After we home taught them we drove back to Batavia and went out to Warsaw.  We had to pick up a vehicle from the Elders there and bring it back to the office.  We went to the Dieu’s (senior couple) and they wanted us to stay and visit and have dinner with them.  It was great to visit with them, but I kept looking out the window and worrying about driving home in the dark.  (I’m not too anxious to drive in the dark anymore)  Well, we drove home in the dark.  It wasn’t too bad and I just followed Elder Merrill.  We got home at 7:30 p.m.  PHEW!  What a day—I’m ready to kick off my shoes!
I wanted to add a sweet story that the Sister Bradford sent to us for our monthly newsletter:  
Frozen tidings from Cumorah

Sunday night we were serving at the Visitors' Center, it was a quiet night with few guests.  It was cold and dark outside, but warm and bright inside.  A little family came through the doors, Dad, Mom, little boy, new baby.  As we always do, we try to get to know them a little at the beginning.  I met the parents, LDS who had driven from Connecticut that day and then turned my attention to the little boy; 6 years old, Jonathan.  It was obvious that Jonathan had some disabilities, he kind of looked sideways through his glasses and drug his left foot.  I asked him if he would like to see a movie or go learn about the Helaman's warriors or we could go into the room where we have a statue of Jesus.  He looked up at me and said, "I want to go see my friend Jesus."  We went in and listened to the recording of Christ's words, then I turned on the music, "A Child's Prayer," then "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing."  Through the recording and the music, I watched as these two good parents surrounded this little boy in love and I watched as Jonathan looked up at Jesus in awe and love.  He had come to see his friend.  We were in a holy place, the spirit filled the room and all of us were crying.  

I wasn't sure what their story was, but I knew that Jonathan and Jesus were intimate friends.  We walked into the gallery and Jonathan went to the kiosk about Helaman's warriors and listened to every one of the stories.  As he was doing that, his mother told me of his premature 25-week delivery, of the brain trauma he had, of the multiple surgeries, of the 5 months in the NICU, of the priesthood blessings that he had been given many times that pulled him through, of the struggle to walk at 3 years old, and the time he went into have another eye surgery and was given a blessing and as a result of that surgery and blessing how he went from being non-verbal to speaking sentences in 2 weeks.  This dear little child had been through so much, it was obvious that the separation between earth and heaven is very thin for this child.

They stayed for about an hour and in that time, another couple and one of our Senior couples came in.  She came with her flute and he came with his piano skills.  She serenaded us in the Christus room on her flute.  The echo from the rotunda magnified her sound and skills.  It was magical.  Eventually, Jonathan and family came back to the Christus room to hear the music.  We all went into the auditorium where she played primary songs on her flute and he played piano accompaniment, and Jonathan led the singing for all the adults in the room.  I thought what a magical place to be where a disabled child can be loved and cherished and a very accomplished flutist can play purely for the enjoyment of others and the two of them can be joined in an overwashing of the spirit.

 The work here is so sweet.

Happy Birthday Brytlee Ann Harris—9 years old!  So proud of her and what a sweet young lady she is!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day! 
Winter has finally arrived!  We have had snow and cold weather.  We have about an inch of snow and it has stayed.  Batavia has about 3 or more inches and other areas around have more.  It was below zero on our way to church today, but it is supposed to be up to 43 again next Saturday.  It is supposed to be 30 tomorrow.  (I don’t know how they predict the weather or how accurate it is)
We began our week with arriving missionaries last Monday.  We received 2 Sisters and 6 Elders.  They were so tired at the dinner at the mission home on Monday night.  We make them a nice meal and then give them about 3 hours+ of meetings following.  Seeing how they had to get up at the MTC at 3:30-4:00 a.m. and fly all day to get here is it any wonder that they have a glassy stare during the meeting?  They are completely immersed in missionary life!  We made a nice ham dinner for them, and they seemed to like it.  We make enough for the ones coming here on Monday night and then the ones leaving on Wednesday will have the same meal at the mission home on Tuesday night.  This was the last time we will do it that way.  Our transfers from now on will be reversed; we will serve the returning missionaries on Monday night and they will fly out on Tuesday morning.  The new missionaries will arrive on Tuesday evening and they will have their meal that night.
We have had transfer meetings when new missionaries arrive and other missionaries are transferred on Tuesday afternoon.  However, the church has asked that we discontinue the practice of holding transfer meetings.  In the past we had them come to the mission office and we had a nice meeting and the new missionaries were assigned companions and the returning missionaries were able to leave their testimonies with those attending.  This practice took about 2+ hours and some missionaries were out of their areas for most of the day with travel and the meeting (and they couldn’t just say goodbye—they had to stay and talk and talk and talk).  So now they are to meet in areas and make the transfer without wasting any time.  The companions for the new missionaries will meet them at the Hill Cumorah and attend a training with them.  It should streamline things quite a bit, but I really liked seeing them come and go.  We tried doing this new system last Tuesday and it was complicated and long.  It’s hard to get missionaries from one end of the mission to the other without some delays and trials.  Next time should be easier, I hope!  Elder Merrill and Elder Spencer are working out the details.
We attended a voluntary church discussion group on Wednesday night at our stake center.  Our ex-stake President was the presenter and he gave some interesting information.  We had to introduce ourselves and some of the people seemed to be there to delve into the ‘mysteries’.  If it gets too weird we probably won’t go to all of them.
We had hair night on Thursday and I got a cut and color.  It always feels better when it is covered up.  I hate the ‘skunk line’. 
Friday night we went to the Temple and then out to dinner at Moe’s.  It was all good.  We went with the Spencer’s and had a good time.
Saturday we went over to Batavia and went with the High Priest’s bowling.  We bowled 2 lines and then had dinner at a restaurant attached to the bowling alley.  It was funny, we didn’t know where the bowling alley was and Siri kept saying that we had arrived and that our destination was to our left.  We couldn’t see a bowling alley and so Dennis turned the corner and the bowling alley was directly behind the store on Main Street.  It was hidden down an alley and I was surprised that Dennis found it.  It was fun to bowl—but when did they make the lanes so slick?  The shoes and lanes were like trying to walk on ice and then the balls that were available either had little kid fingers or were so heavy it was weird.  (I guess I’m used to bowling with the WII and bowling with a 3 oz. control thing and on nice carpet that doesn’t slide is much different.  I can bowl over 200 on the WII, but I was lucky to get 88 for real.  I came really close to beating Elder Merrill the first game.  He stepped it up on his second game and got 138.  He still has great form (even though it was slick)  I was afraid of falling or doing the splits in front of the branch, my form/technic was less than desirable.  We ate with them and came home.  

Our Branch President kept falling on one knee--ouch!

That hour drive gets a little old and it was a little difficult to make myself want to take it again today—but we did.  There must have been some others that felt the same way about the cold, because we didn’t have 1 Primary child there today.  (yes, NOT one)  So, all of us Primary ladies went into the Relief Society and enjoyed the meeting. 
After church we went to the Lehman’s and had a nice ham dinner.  I had made a salad and cookies to take and it was nice to visit with them.  After the clean-up we went home teaching to Sandra and Susan.  Susan is the one with the leg that has given her problems for over 8 years and last week she was hospitalized for 2 large cysts on her tummy.  They were giant and very sore.  They had to be lanced and she has home health coming in daily now to pack them.  I feel so bad for her.  Sandra, her mother, was hospitalized in Jan. and found out she is diabetic.  She has lost another 10 pounds and has such sadness for the way she is now required to eat.  She really hates it!  Their landlord passed away last week and they don’t know if they will be able to stay in their apartment or not.  They have to have an apartment that is HUD approved and that the landlord will approve that also.  They heirs of the building may not agree to do that with them.  There is always something to keep people from feeling secure.
We just got a text from Marilyn (Dennis’s sister) that says that her daughter, Becca, is living in Arizona now and that Layne and Gaylene Gneiting lives nearby and has been very nice and invited her over and is welcoming her.  We were glad to have the Gneiting’s here and they are helping Becca there.  Isn’t that great?

Each week leaves me with feelings of gratitude.  I am so thankful to have the gospel in my life and know that it is true and have the opportunity to serve.  I am so thankful for a great husband who is loving and kind, helpful and happy.  I am so lucky!  I love my family and friends.  I am grateful for everything I have been blessed with; capacities, freedoms, abilities, and knowledge.  Sometimes we don’t feel that we measure up, but we still need to be grateful for those things we DO have. 
The greatest blessing of all is to have the support of our family and know that we couldn't do this without their great love and help. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Feb. 7, 2016

Well, this has been a rough week.  (we are doing great, but there have been some difficult things that have happened)
1.      My phone died and I had to get a replacement (easy enough done, right?)
2.      Elder Merrill caught a cold and cough and is miserable (that can be better with time)
3.      Elder Spencer had a cornea transplant (and it went very well and he is recovering—but she can’t keep him from coming into the office and working part of a day)
4.      A couple called to do be camp directors here suddenly didn’t show up on our records and we found out that he had died suddenly.  (Not so easy, and very sad!)
5.      Some of our missionaries were being disobedient and Elder Merrill recommended that they no longer have car privileges.  (not so easy and very disappointing!)
6.      President Frances’s brother-in-law died while having a stress test for a mission.  (very hard and sad!)
Our lives can change so quickly and we need to be prepared to do what we are required to do.  I feel so blessed to have been given so much and such great families.  I can’t imagine heaven without everyone there—family, friends, and ward members.  Everyone has been such a blessing and help to us.
We just finished reading the New Testament again.  There are so many good things for us to learn there.  I had a little trouble with Revelations.  I think that John had a very long and scary dream.  Some of the creatures he saw reminded me of some of the crazy characters from Lord of the Rings.  (I think that story was also written with some of the Bible in mind) 
We had the opportunity to go out to supper on Friday night with the Selvages.  Sister Selvage is a 2nd or 3rd cousin of Elder Merrill and it was fun to hear of their experiences working at the sacred sites.  They said that every day there are spiritual experiences to have there.  Elder Selvage told of people that come there expecting to see everything is a short time span and end up have a life changing experience; sometimes without them saying a word.  Heavenly Father knows what we need and what will change our hearts.  The Holy Ghost testifies of the truth of all things and that is when people change.
We invited the Spencer’s and 2 sets of Elders to our home for an ‘un-super bowl party’.  The Elders both said that they could come, but then both called to say that they had other engagements and couldn’t make it.  We called the Selvages and asked them to come.  They were working at the Whitmer Farm (they give tours even on Sunday) and could come at 6:00.  We couldn’t believe it when we looked outside and the 1st set of Elders were coming to the party.  They said that they could only stay ½ hour so we hurried and baked a few items and fed them and they left after about an hour.  Then the 2nd set of Elders came and they were still here when the Spencer’s and Selvage’s arrived.  All in all it was a successful party!  We had plenty of food.  We made chips and cheese dip, hot wings, bacon wrapped chestnuts, bruschetta, shrimp cocktail and caramel corn.  The Spencer’s brought chicken enchiladas and homemade refried beans.  We had LOTS of food!  Oh, who won the game?
Go Broncos!  The first seating!
Go Jaguars or is it Panthers! The second seating!
We drove over to Mendon Pond on Saturday with the Spencer’s.  It is really beautiful even in the winter (if this is winter) and there were a couple of girls that had a bag of carrots and they had 3 little deer that were trying to get close enough to them to get a taste of carrots.  They wouldn’t even run when they put their hands above their heads and threw the carrots out.  It was pretty fun to watch.

A little buck is rare, for some reason they don't come out of hiding very often
On Golden Pond in Mendon, New York
Cool Barns, eh?
We listen to the scriptures in the car when we are driving to church and this morning I heard this scripture that really stuck out to me:
1 Nephi 1: 20 . . . But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

We are loved by our Father in Heaven and blessed in everything!  
We got a picture of Elder Peters and Elder Rushton after church.  Elder Ruston will be transferred to another area on Tuesday.  
Shirt at a Mexican Restaurant--LOL!