Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26, 2016

The week went by so quickly and now I have to think hard to remember what we did last week.  On Monday we took a drive over to Webster after work and ate at a Mexican restaurant that we had tried before and liked.  We ordered the ‘Hungry man platter’ (which they said had one of everything on it; but I thought of things that were missing; tamales, fajitas, etc.).  Elder Merrill and I shared it, and it was alright.  The Mexican food we have in Idaho is SOO much better; real Tex-Mex. 
We were busy last week taking and receiving cars and I was able to help again.  Elder Merrill has 7 cars for sale at this time and now the church has decided to have a trial period for a company that offers to take care of the sale of the vehicles.  People have to bid on them online and then they take care of the paperwork for the sale.  I don’t know if this will be better or not.  I know that Elder Merrill didn’t have trouble selling the cars and people are anxious to get them because they are in good condition and the price is right. 
We had our ‘MLS retreat’ last Friday and Saturday at the Seneca camp.  We had good meetings, food, and friends.  Who could ask for more?  One of the Sisters told of teaching on the reservation (yes, we have an Indian reservation here) and trying to get the attention of the husband.  She showed them the picture of the tree of life and how there were people eating and enjoying themselves around the tree, those in the filthy water, those holding onto the rod, those letting go of the rod, and those in the great and spacious building that were mocking and scorning.  She explained all of these people and asked that they take a good look at the picture.  Then she asked, ‘Where are you?’  The husband was riveted to the picture and very interested after that.  He asked them to please come back 4 times. 
We were asked to say something at the end as it was our last retreat of our mission.  I confessed that I had been a poor member missionary at home and didn’t seek opportunities of time to share the gospel to people around us.  I also mentioned that one of the top things I had learned on my mission is the importance of home teaching and visiting teaching.  I didn’t have that testimony or felt that importance at home.  I always did my teaching, but I didn’t feel the need for visits or making visits.  Here in New York they are so vital.  They can change people’s lives and bring them back to church.  It does make a difference for someone to care and that is our charge.  If we had members that were committed to those 2 programs of the church, Batavia would be a ward. 
We went to the Grandin Print Shop last night and they had a special open house/tour.  They dressed up in period clothing and gave abbreviated narrative of what had happened there at the shop.  I love that place and it was fun to see the missionaries dressed up.

The lady we pick up every Sunday for church will be moving this week and will live out of town on the other side of Batavia.  She has a friend that lives out that way and she is counting on her picking her up for church.  I hope it works out for her.  She is a long way out of town to be able to shop for groceries or anything else.  She doesn’t have a car and will be at the mercy of other people.  I know her friend will be happy to take her to church, but she still works and has just remarried and her new husband is planning to travel as soon as she retires.  I think she is planning on retiring this summer.  I worry about how she will get to church because there aren’t many willing to give rides. 
Our friends, the Dieu’s, are leaving this week and they will really be missed.  They have been living in Warsaw and have made many friends and helped bring several back to church and helped them get to the Temple.  They are leaving early because of a family problem and they felt sad to leave, but had no choice.

One thing has really bothered me here (and everywhere); the taking of the Lord's name in vain.  So many people don't realize that they even do it.  We are told not to do this in the 10 commandments and in the Temple we commit not to do this.  But--even in our church buildings I have heard it and it has made me cringe.  I know I need to bring this to their attention, but I really don't want to offend them.  It is a life-style word that has become WAY too common on television and it makes me sad!

We have been reading an awesome book.  It is called 'The Power of Everyday Missionaries'.  It is so good and has helped me realize how much more we should be doing.  Our stake president has a mission plan of having the members do the finding for the missionaries.  I believe that he has a great idea.  If the members find others for the missionaries to teach and are involved with the process the convert will have someone to help them fit in and continue on the path.  Our new stake president is really a neat guy, Pres. Howell, and he grew up in Logan.  He is pretty young and is a professor.

Happy Birthday this week to Hayden Merrill and Cindy Merrill!  We love you both so much!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17, 2016

Another week gone!  We have 13 weeks left, but who’s counting? The weather is getting warmer and the trees and bushes are starting to have a hint of green.  It’s SPRING!
We made the ice cream and it was GREAT!
We had a good week in the office and were able to deliver all of the new cars to the missionaries and take care of what we needed to do at the office.  On Thursday we drove over to Buffalo and exchanged cars with 2 sets of missionaries.  We each drove a car back to Pittsford.  I am getting more comfortable driving here (as long as I have Elder Merrill in sight).
We went to Dansville and Bath with cars yesterday (Saturday) and went a little further and went to the Corning Glass Museum.  It was a nice day and we enjoyed it!  
Glass replica of the Liberty Bell
Small depiction of the glass factory at work
Glass evening gown, reminds me of Cinderella
We talked to a lady in Dansville that said she was anxious to go camping.  She said that she goes about 12 miles from her home and camps.  It’s weird to think about going camping here—because all of trees and area make you feel that you are already out in nature and camping.
We had high council Sunday today and we also had munch and mingle afterward.  We had a baptism following munch and mingle and so the day was longer than usual, by 2 hours.  The high council member that spoke had to release himself before his talk.  It was unique!  His talk was odd and the first time that I have heard ‘Brokeback Mountain’ quoted in a talk.  He did have good points in his talk, but there were a few things that made me cringe a little.
We went to a missionary fireside tonight at the Palmyra Stake Center.  John Ward, a recent convert, spoke of his conversion and the things he has gone through in his life.  He is lucky to be alive and is trying to do what he needs to do to have an eternal family.  His wife passed away when his youngest child was 5.  She had cancer and had to endure many things.
I have been reading a book that records the missionary efforts of George Cannon to Hawaii.  There were so many people there that listened to the missionaries and were baptized.  It seems that we have some success here, but not that many people compared to the percentage of people that live here.
We were asked this morning to pick up an investigator for church.  The young missionaries can’t take people in their cars.  We take Sister Guy with us each week to church and the Elders said to pick up ‘a sister’.  Well, we had Sister Guy and the investigator came out with 2 little girls and 2 car seats.  She was a good sport and we set up one seat and put the other in back and she held the older child.  On the way home we took her without Sister Guy and set up both car seats.  This is a case of needing more information.
We are excited to have Ray and Myrlann Clement come see us the end of this month.  We are looking forward to their visit and showing them the sites here.  Each time we see the sites with someone it helps our own testimonies.
Blessing:  having a strong enough testimony that I am not easily offended and can come to church without a grudge or disdain for someone else.  That is a huge blessing!  People are NOT perfect, but some think that members of the church should be and are disappointed when they find out that they are not.  Everyone needs to grow and progress!
Another season at the Sacred Grove
Greg and Jackie, Happy anniversary April 17th!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 10, 2016

Last week was totally exhausting!  We had our office meeting on Monday and then Elder Merrill and I took a new car to the Elders in Buffalo.  The weather was a little stormy but the roads were clear and I followed Elder Merrill without any problem.  We met the Aldrich’s after the car trade off and had a burger.  It was good to visit with them for a short time.
We had ‘specialized training’ on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Whitmer farm in Fayette. (the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April) The days were special to us because Grandma Ranae Merrill's birthday is April 6th.  She was born on the 100th birthday of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints.   It is about an hour drive from our home and we had to leave early each morning and prepare for the day.  Elder Merrill had a car and bicycle safety training and Sister Spencer and I had cooking classes.  We had 4 classes each day.  We made brownies, ├ęclair dessert, and pasta salad each day to go with our lunch.  One of the missionaries came by the class and said, “Wow, Sister Merrill and Sister Spencer, you are so organized!”  We laughed hard! (we didn’t feel organized)
The meals turned out great and so did the salad and desserts.  We had plenty of food.  We made meatball sandwiches on Tuesday and Wednesday and pulled pork sandwiches on Thursday.  On Friday we went into work and worked hard all day to catch up on what we had missed during the week.  We went to the Temple on Friday night and got a sandwich after.
Tire changing for the class
Elder Leon, Elder Longhurst, Sister Graham, Sister Tucker
Saturday morning the Aldrich’s came for breakfast and then we went to the Brigham Young baptismal site, the Tomlinson Inn, the Tomlinson Cemetery, the Bishop’s storehouse, the Martin Harris home, the Chill n Grill (for ice cream of course—we shared one kiddie cone between the 4 of us and it was just right) and then we went to Seneca camp, the Whitmer farm, and Sauder’s.  We always find unique things to buy at Sauder’s (the Mennonite store).  We had a great time with the Aldrich’s.
Elder Aldrich, Elder Merrill, Sister Aldrich on the lawn by the barn at the John Young home
Sister Aldrich, Elder Aldrich, Sister Merrill 

Today Elder Merrill talked in Sacrament meeting.  His topic was being a disciple of Christ.  He did a good job even though he didn’t have much time to prepare. We were invited over to lunch at the Lehman’s and they made chicken and vegetables over rice.  It was really good and we always have good gospel discussions at their home.  Brother Lehman is a deep thinker and reads a lot.  We discussed how much the Lord helped Joseph (sold into Egypt) and how it seems that the Lord blessed him so much because he was so obedient and faithful.  We began bringing up others that had prospered because of obedience.
Sister Grefrath was sad at church today because he 58 year old nephew had committed suicide last week.  He was a quiet man and had tried hard to find happiness.  I told her that no one knows the state of someone’s mind when they decide that is the only way they can have peace. 
We went to Highland Hospital after dinner to see Susan (a sister we home teach).  She has been to the hospital many times in the 15 months we have been here.  She now has staff infection on her bones of her leg and they are seriously talking about amputation above the knee.  I think that she is about 37 or so and I really hate to see that happen, but she is resigned to the fact that she won’t recover without have it removed.  She blames her problems on the fact that she wasn’t able to get help in a timely manner because she was on Medicaid/Medicare and they wouldn’t admit her after her accident and treat her for over 6 months.  I think that she has a valid complaint.  We had the Assistants to the President meet us and Elder Merrill gave her a blessing with their help.  
We saw this group (above) out jousting with nerf swords and having mid evil  games.  The Assistants said they were doing a LARP or larping (who knows??)  We stopped and watched, it was funny!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016

This week has been a week of COOKING!  We took a meal to the mission home on Monday night for 4 missionaries leaving the mission.  We had chicken and rice, fruit salad, rolls, vegetable and chocolate cake.  We repeated the same meal on Tuesday evening for 4 new missionaries coming to the mission.  We always go when they come and give an introductory portion of the meeting following the meal.  They always look so tired!  They get up around 3:30 a.m. at the MTC to catch the plane in Salt Lake City.  They are tired! 
Transfers!  Almost 2/3 of this 'stuff' belongs to one missionary.  He doesn't know how to cut back!
On Wednesday the President took the new missionaries to the Sacred Grove and other places and brought them to the office for lunch.  We made chicken rolls ups, salad, and ice cream sandwiches.  They liked that.  We went to the Temple after work.
We got the day off (from cooking) on Thursday and we prepared ourselves for next week.  We are having ‘Specialized Training’ 3 days next week at the Whitmer farm in Fayette.  There will be 2 zones each day and we are having a cooking event there.  I hope it goes well.  We have tried to think of everything we need to buy to have ready for the training. 
On Friday we had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) at the office from 10-4:30.  We made pork roast, cheese potatos, salad, and strawberry shortcake.  It was really good.  I bought applesauce and put it out by the meat.  One of the elders knew what to do with applesauce and pork roast.  President Francis saw him and mentioned to me that he would follow that elder’s example with the applesauce.  I asked him if he had ever had pork roast with applesauce and he said no.  I told him to try it.  He did, and he liked it.
We went to Sam’s Club after work to get some of the supplies for the training.  We got everything we think we will need for the first day.  Hope this works!  (we also have to feed everyone lunch—bonus!)
Yesterday we went into town and found a garage sale—yeah!  It had some nice things and we bought a couple of them.  It’s so much fun to get bargains.  However the best bargain we found was at the Goodwill.  I have wanted to make a recipe JoAnn Randall has for ice cream, and needed to find an ice cream freezer.  We have looked several times for one.  I went in and Elder Merrill stayed out in the car talking to one of the Elders on the phone.  When he came in he looked at me and said—no—I was able to tell him YES!  We got a freezer for $5.00
He is so happy with his new treasure!
Here is the ice-cream recipe.  Sister Randall made it for us when we went camping out to Kilgore.  We ate outside and it was really getting chilly.  She passed out bowls of ice cream and it made us colder—but we couldn’t quit eating it.  It is that good!
Lemon Custard Ice Cream (no custard involved)
1 qt. cream
3 c. sugar
1 ½ t. lemon extract
1 c. fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
Milk to fill container to the 4 qt. mark.  Mix and freeze!  Delicious!

Conference was wonderful!  I hope everyone enjoyed it.  I have notes that I will post next week.  Elder Holland really knows how to wrap up things, doesn’t he?  I love his talks! 
I have been thinking a lot about repentance.  The mission slogan is now ‘Teach repentance and baptize converts’.   I have been thinking about repentance in the wrong way.  People don’t want others to tell them they are doing the wrong things and point out their faults.  That doesn’t work.  When we teach repentance we invite people to make course corrections that will turn them toward Christ.  They may have turned from Him, but in teaching them the truth about Christ and His doctrine, they turn back around and make corrections to come unto Him.  There you have repentance!  That really is a beautiful thing!
He rescues all of us!
We woke up to 2 inches of new snow today.  What a sense of humor—April Fools! 

Happy Birthday Mya, Jex, and Grandma Merrill!  We love you all so much!