Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 2016

Another quick week!  We began the week by working in the office.  After work we went with the Spencer’s to Highland Park.  The Lilac festival was the previous week and was over and now it was just beautiful scenery and lilacs.  The lilacs were slow this year and the festival was too early.  So it was just another good excuse for people to hang out, listen to live bands, eat from the vendors there, and drink beer.  They have huge turn outs of people each day of the festival here. 

I’m not sure that we can avert the drought this year—we have had several days without rain and things are getting really dry looking.  We are hoping that it rains today.  It is starting to cloud up and looks like a big thunder storm.  It has been very humid the past 3 days.  It has been in the 80’s, but it feels hotter with so much humidity.  Rain would be great!
We went to Buffalo on Tuesday evening and had another zone conference.  It is just under a 2 hour drive and we had to be there at 8:30.  We got up early and went.  It was fun and also very good.  We got to visit with Steve and Deanna Aldrich.  They are really enjoying their mission in Arcade.  After the conference we stopped in Batavia and took the Lehman’s out for supper.  They have been so good to us and always looking out for us.  We had a good time visiting with them!
On Wednesday we went to Palmyra for Zone conference.  It was nice that it was close and we didn’t have to get up and leave so early.  Each zone conference has the same schedule and talks are very similar.  Some days it was hard to stay upright.  After our part on the program after lunch we were able to go back to the office and get some things done.  The Spencer’s were there and stayed to clean up and pack up things. 
On Thursday we went to Buffalo again.  This was the last day.  Yahoo!  This is the last conference we will be able to attend.  We are down to 7 weeks. After the conference the housing coordinator and nurse, the Workman’s, invited us to go to Cracker Barrel with them.  We had a good time visiting and eating with them. 
It’s funny, the last time we had zone conferences that the Stake Relief Society feed the missionaries (which we pay for the food and they choose and prepare it)  I think we had 6 days of pulled pork sandwiches for lunch.  This time we had a variety of things.  We had 1 day of pulled pork, a baked potato bar, soup & salad, Subway sandwiches, spaghetti, and taco salad.
Funny thing:  There is a home near us that put out a sign that said ‘Rhubarb’.  Well, of course, that sounded good.  So Dennis pulled into the drive way and walked up to the side entrance of the home and began knocking on the door.  I was in the car and noticed a big white rooster come up closer to the house.  Dennis didn’t get anyone to answer the door and started back towards the car.  He pivoted to the left just at the edge of the house and foiled the plans of that rooster.  He was ready to attack and when Dennis turned he stepped right on him.  The rooster looked a little ruffled and gathered himself up again.  Dennis wasn’t even paying attention to this enraged bird.  He went to the front door and began again, knocking and trying to get someone to come to the door.  He was about to give up when a lady came from the side of the house and told him not to move.  She went over to the rooster, who was ready to leap, and wacked it several times with a big old stick she carried.  She told Dennis that she never goes into the yard without her stick.  The rooster retreated and went into the back yard and began crowing.  (not sure what he had to crow about though) It wasn’t until we were leaving that Dennis saw the sign posted on a tree near the back door.   Beware of Rooster!  We got some rhubarb and made a recipe that looked good on Facebook. 

Yesterday we decided to help a set of sister missionaries.  Their apartment is the top story of an older home and it freezes in the winter and cooks in the summer.  They were sweltering.  We were able to get a window air conditioner and put it in for them.  They were thrilled!  It really is hard to get up in the morning when you are dripping wet from sweat.  That is a bad start for the day.  I hope it works well for them.
We attended church today and everyone is excited about the Memorial Day picnic tomorrow at noon.  We are all supposed to bring a dish to pass and the branch supplies hot dogs and hamburgers.  Sounds fun, right?  Hope it is moderately humid and hot!

Happy birthday on May 30 to Conner Jagielski and May 31 to Alexis Harris!  Congratulations to Summer Jagielski on her graduation and seminary graduation!  We love you all so much!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22, 2016

Our week began with our normal weekly meeting and then exploded into craziness!  We had Zone conferences in Canandaigua, Batavia, and Westfall (West Rochester).  Each day began at 8:30 with car checks and then the meetings began.  We each had about 20—25 minutes after lunch and Elder Merrill talked about intersection safety and I talked about the Family and the Temple.  We have a new pamphlet from the church for lesson 5 and this pamphlet is really great.  I thought about how to introduce the pamphlet to them and got the idea of copying all the pictures from the pamphlet and having them explain each one for 1.5 -2 minutes and see how close they came to what the pamphlet said.  It was amazing!  They came up with such great explanations for why the family is important and what the temple can do for us.  It was especially great when one of the elders got up to explain what happens in the sealing room of the temple.  He explained that as a child he was taken to one of the temples and to a sealing room just like the one on the picture and was sealed to his adopted parents and other brothers and sisters.  He said that it was so wonderful to be wanted and loved by a good family.  He is an Indian and the family is white.  He loves them so much!  Each day there were stories about families that were really touching.
Sister Francis gave a talk that I really liked and I took a few notes.  I am going to try to condense her talk into a few suggestions for a good life with an attached scripture references:
  1. Be obedient.  Don’t do dumb things!  Jacob 6:12
  2. Study and learn continuously, lean on the scriptures.  D&C 130: 18-19
  3. Believe in yourself, we are all God’s children.  Proverbs 23:7
  4. Be worthy, be strong, keep your testimony and be worthy of a Temple recommend.  D&C 38:30
  5. Learn to love work, work brings success!  Galatians 6:7
  6. Serve others, forget yourself.  Be positive!
  7. Be grateful, recognize His hand.
  8. Have faith!  Alma 32:21
  9. Pray often, talk with the Lord!  Alma 37:37
  10. Love one another!  John 13:34  Be open to new ideas, have patience.
  11. See miracles—look closely for tender mercies!  Anyone can find dirt, find gold!
  12. Follow the Savior, learn, talk, show!  He Lives!  2 Nephi 25:26

It’s hard to believe that this is our last Zone conference.  President Francis had us bare our testimonies in Batavia (which is our Zone).  We still have 8 weeks left, but we will be done with conferences next Thursday.  We are going to Buffalo twice next week and Palmyra once for 3 more conferences. One of the sister missionaries bore her testimony and it was sad because she said that she is from Thailand and some of her friends are serving there and they have several baptisms each week.  She hasn’t had one and will be leaving June 21.  I think that she has learned a lot!  We are planting seeds here, but there isn’t much fruit yet.  The people are so warm and welcoming, but they are so complacent and happy with what they have.  If they only knew what more they could learn and know.  Saying Goodbye to missionaries we have worked with is hard!
Sister Merrill, Elder Peters, Elder Stokes, Elder Merrill

Elder Housghton, Elder & Sister Merrill (grandson of Jerry Browning)
Took Elder Gibby (from Meridian) and his companion Elder Gubler to dinner after Zone Conference
We celebrated Elder Merrill’s birthday yesterday.  We went to a few yard sales (they were a bust) and then had a nice lunch at Longhorn Steakhouse.  It has nice meals, and is much quieter than Texas Roadhouse.  We had a great day and he received many calls and birthday wishes.  Thank you!  
We had a funny thing happen in church.  The counselor conducting announced that the intermediate hymn would be “Now let us Retire” (not Now Let us Rejoice)  I looked at Dennis and said, “did he say let us retire?”  He giggled and said, ‘yes’.  The high council man visiting our ward got up and made a few wise cracks about all of us retiring; either from work or going to sleep.  Our sweet counselor didn’t flinch one bit.  He is very hard of hearing and doesn’t hear what is being said.  Anyway, it was a funny!
After church we drove out to Albion (on the edge of the earth) and made a home teaching visit.  We stopped at the Mt. Albion cemetery and took some pictures.  It is huge and so beautiful.  I’m sure the pictures won’t do it justice, but it is very lovely!

We are very proud of Sara and Brad!  They won Best of State (Utah) for Vacation Rentals for their Paradise Village in St. George.  It has turned out to be so beautiful and such a nice place for a vacation!  They were honored last Wednesday night at the Salt Palace.  Good job!
This is what 67 looks like!  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 15, 2016

We began our week on Monday by taking the local young sisters (myself and Sister Spencer) out to lunch.  We then took them to visit the Brigham Young baptismal spot and other things in Mendon that couple of hours with them.  However, on the way to our home they mentioned that they both had very itchy scalps and that they were worried that they had lice.  EIICKK!  Just the mention of lice, makes me itch!  We talked about the scenarios accompanying lice and them transferring.  We were able to get the mission nurse to look at their heads and she felt that they only had very dry scalps.  Thank heavens!  Everyone thinks that we have lots of humidity, but it is very dry to me.  Lotion is a must!
We prepared meals for the outgoing missionaries and the incoming ones on Monday and Tuesday evenings.  I had asked Elder Longhurst what he wanted to eat for his last meal at the mission home and he asked for Chicken Waikiki. We will really miss that Elder!  I made it for both nights and only the President’s family had to have it twice.  He said he didn’t mind.  We had 9 missionaries leave and 9 come in the same day.  It is such a blessing to get these new missionaries.  It’s funny to see their pictures on our mission program (IMOS) and then see them in person.  One of the elders looked like a regular sized 18 year old and he is a very big 6’ 4” man.  It really is surprising!  I asked him if he felt he had quit growing or not and he said he sure hoped not.  He wants to get taller.
We had Sister McConkie, 1st counselor in the Young Women’s General Presidency, come to the church where the mission office is on Friday and deliver a talk to all the sisters that could congregate for a 2 hour meeting at 10:00 in the morning.  She and others from the Presidency are visiting the northeast and did stopped over for our meeting and then went onto Boston and other places.  She talked with our area 70, S. Marc Clay, they did a great job.  She talked about the word REMEMBER  and how we need to remember the covenants we’ve made and the blessings we have been given.  We need to remember our legacy, endowment, and the gift of our inheritance.  She quoted President Uckdorft as saying that ‘no life is so shattered that it cannot be restored.’  Remembrance brings gratitude.  She also talked about those that are dammed.  She talked about how a dam that holds back water is like the dammed mentioned in the scriptures; those that are dammed cannot move forward but are kept from progressing.

Sister Merrill, Sister McConkie, Sister Spencer
Before the meeting began I spoke with President Francis about training someone for our callings and he said that he hadn’t seen the application for the new people that would be coming to the office.  We wondered how they might be trained as their arrival date is July 15.  (which is a Friday) The 16th and 17th is a weekend and we are leaving on the afternoon of the 18th.  That doesn’t allow much time.  After the meeting with Sister McConkie I looked at my email and I had a nice letter from the Jones’s.  They will be coming and have asked that they drive over from Michigan and then fly to Utah to the MTC and then they could be here a few days earlier.  I couldn’t believe it and President Francis and I felt that so many tender mercies had been given to us.  I said, “all I had to do was ask, and I was answered by email.”  That was so wonderful!  I’m not sure who will do what jobs in the office, but now the President can make a decision and we can prepare.  I have been working on a manual for what I do. 
We went to Seneca Lake yesterday for a service project of tree planting.  They planted over 2,000 trees last year and wanted to plant about that many yesterday.  The Spencer’s came with us and we were asked to be the leaders for our group of volunteers from 6 stakes.  We were given an area to plant and about 60 trees.  Well, we decided to just start and it was a good thing, because we didn’t get anyone to come help us.  I don’t know who didn’t get the memo out to everyone, but we were the only 4 from the Rochester Stake to participate.  Oh, well—it was a nice day and we were outside in a beautiful place!  In about 20 years someone may like what we did there yesterday.

We came home and cleaned up and made chicken noodle soup and went to Batavia for the memorial service for Sister Pierce.  It was very well attended and was a nice celebration of her life.  She was 59.  She had suffered so much that her family was at peace with her passing.  We had so much food left over last night that we served it for munch and mingle at noon today. 
It is nice and getting greener every day here.  We had a few snow flurries as we were driving into Batavia this morning, but they didn’t amount to anything.  We are happy and busy.  It is such a blessing to see the hand of the Lord in so many things here.  He really does love each and every one.  He wants to have us back again.  We talked in Sunday School about having faith in Christ.  I thought about it quite a bit and thought how we had to have faith in Him in the pre-existence.  He had to know that he would carry out the plan and that we would be able to return to Heavenly Father because of his gift for us.  We had to KNOW that he would do that for us!  Because of that faith then, I have additional faith now.  He can do all things!  I am so grateful for Him and love Him so much!
We had supper at the Spencer’s tonight and they invited Elder Spencer’s cousin, who is serving in the Temple here.  He brought a new video call ‘Infinite Gift’.  It was very moving!  It really drove home what He does for each of us. 

Happy birthday this Saturday to my wonderful sweetheart, Dennis Merrill!  I love that guy!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 8, 2016

Spring is officially here!  The weather is nice and trees are getting their leaves.  When I was getting ready for church this morning I asked Elder Merrill what the temperature was outside.  He looked at his phone (of course that is the best way to know what the temperature is) and told me that it was 70 degrees.  Then he said it would be 48 by 5:00 p.m.  That seemed odd and I questioned his findings.  Then he said, “I’m not sure where it will be 70, but it isn’t 70 here at this time.”  I had already began putting on spring clothes, and so it became a spring day.  It is nice outside!
We visited 'Highfalls' last week.  Here is a picture
We had our sacrament meeting/mother’s day program today.  The 2nd counselor in the branch presidency is very hard of hearing and had forgotten that it was Mother’s day.  He had asked his wife to talk with him and their subject was forgiveness.  When he got up to speak had began by explaining that the battery for his hearing aid on the ear that he could hear out of had died and that he hadn’t heard anything his wife had said and that he hoped that he didn’t repeat anything she had talked about.  He is a very nice man.
Our Branch President asked me last week if I would help his wife at the Temple on Friday night.  I had thanked him for the opportunity to help them.  She loved going to the Temple and he was going to get a room at the Palmyra Inn (close to the Temple) so it didn’t wear her out.  We went to the Temple, but they didn’t show up.  After we got home I looked on Facebook and found out that she had passed away on Thursday night.  We took some things over to their home after church to make sandwiches, etc. 
We will be sending home 10 missionaries on Tuesday and receiving 9.  I asked Elder Longhurst what he would like for his ‘last supper’ at the mission home.  He asked for Chicken Waikiki (Sweet and sour) and so we are making it for Monday and Tuesday night.  Dennis is getting the chicken ready to fry.  He thinks that he needs a slicer next. 
We went to a few yard sales yesterday and I thought they were a bust.  Then we went to one that had a bunch of fabric and the man was telling me that his mother had passed away and that she loved to sew.  I saw a container that had a few sewing notions in it and saw a rotary cutter.  I asked him how much he needed for the entire container.  He said $3.00 and I told him I would give him $5.00.  I picked it up and he began putting other stuff into the container to bring it up to $3.00.  There were 3 rotary cutters (all different sizes) a pair of Ginger scissors, and other great items.  I didn’t feel good about $5 and gave him $10.  What a bargain!  Sister Spencer had a ball and got quite a few things too!  
Happy Birthday to Janet Stucki,and Jill Harris this week!  Happy Mother's day to our dear mothers and the wonderful mothers to our grandchildren.  We love you all so much!

Britton's birthday and baptismal day--congratulations!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 4, 2016

We had a great week.  We went out with our home teaching family, the Long’s, on Tuesday night and ate in Greece at their favorite restaurant.  We had a good time. 
We drove over to Buffalo after work on Wednesday and picked up Ray and Myrlann Clement.  We had a great week with them.  We went to the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, Brigham Young’s baptism site, the Tomlinson Inn and cemetery, the Grandin Press, the Temple,  the Whitmer farm, Seneca Lake Camp, Sauders, the Windmill at Penn Yan,  the beach at Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls, Lamb Dairy, Batavia church, and many other little side trips during the day.   The trees are just beginning to put on leaves, so we kept trying to explain how beautiful it is here with all the foliage and verdant green.  We enjoyed every minute of their visit and were really sad to see them leave yesterday. (May 3rd; they stayed in Buffalo to catch the plane on Wednesday morning) 
Sister Merrill, Myrlann & Ray Clement at the Sacred Grove
The Sacred Grove with the Temple Spire showing through the tops of the trees
The Sacred Grove
The Merrill's and Clement's in front of the Mission Office
Ray & Mrylann Clement, President & Sister Francis, Sister & Elder Merrill
Myrlann and Ray at the Hill Cumorah
Eating at Nima's in Palmyra
We had some interesting calls from missionaries while they were here and we had a few laughs.  One set of sisters called and said that their car tire was hissing, then said, “never mind, it quit.”  Elder Merrill called them the next morning, expecting to hear that they had a flat tire, but they said it was fine.  By evening they had a flat tire and so Elder Merrill asked the nearby elders to go by and change it for them.  (however, I think the girls probably could have changed it themselves—but the young elders did have trouble getting it pried off the wheel—RUST)
We are getting ready for MLC*, transfers, and Zone conferences in the next 2 weeks.  It should be really busy!  Elder Merrill and I both have training segments at the Zone conferences.  There will be 6 days of conference and so we will be ready for the end (May 26)  We will be driving all over the mission for the conferences. 
It appears that our replacements will arrive on July 15th.  I am a little concerned about training them because the 15th is a Friday and we will be leaving on the evening of the 18th.  I guess I will try to have a very descriptive manual made for whoever takes my places.  We are going to fly to New York City and meet Chris, Cindy, Tessa, and Summer.  We will stay there until the morning of the 22nd and fly back to Rochester and begin the long drive home.  We will put our belongings in a trailer so we will have room in the car for 6.  It sounds like an adventure.  This trip will be Summer’s graduation gift and I think we will have a very good time.  Chris wants to take Tessa to Lion King in NYC and see the other sites.  (a few of them)  We are hoping to be able to stop in Kirtland and Nauvoo for a few hours and see a few things on the way home.
On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls 
We saw this tom turkey with about 6 hens on the way to Lake Ontario
The Clement's and Merrill's at the Whitmer Farm in Fayette, New York
Blessing:  Having friends and family members that we love so much and feel of their love.  What would we do without the support of others that care so much!  We are blessed! 
Happy birthday Britton!  We love you!

*MLC-mission leadership council