Sunday, March 22, 2015

 Homecoming Report Weekend 
We had a busy weekend.  Cole came down from BYU driving by himself and arrived in time to go to dinner with us at Don Pedro's.  It was a great start to the weekend having my favorite Mexican food in St. George.  David and his family came down and stayed with John, arriving about 2 am.  They like to travel that way as the kids are mostly asleep and the journey is peaceful.  Saturday we got to attend the baptism of Mason Corry Stevens.  He was such a handsome 8 year old in his suit.  He had practiced with his father and was confident to be baptized.  Austin gave a very good talk on baptism and Jana gave a wonderful talk using props about the Holy Ghost that made it very personal to Mason.  
Trenton White and Kalli Bennett.  We enjoyed their visit with us on Saturday.  Kalli had a death in the family and they could not stay any longer but we had a very thorough visit with Corry asking very pointed questions.  We could tell that they are in love and we predict they will be married by the end of the summer.  Elder White has a different side to him aside from the "AP" Elder White and he is very delightful.

Sunday we were thrilled to have 11 PPM missionaries attend our report.  They sang the mission song with us and it was so great.  I love that song!  We had the parents of Amber Ricks travel up from Gilbert AZ for our report and Amy McNeil came with her fiance, BJ Vickers and her parents.  We met the parents of Elder Tyler and Sister Jolley at our report today and it was wonderful to see them.  We had 3 of our Student Ward kids come with their kids or fiance and that was good.  Deonna and Neil Fuller came.  Bob and Twila and Kent Harman came.  Lindsay and Chris came and brought uncle Calvin Perkins.  Carolyn Kimmerle and Francine Shumway came with their spouses.  Loralee Barrow and family came.  It was wonderful and we were quite overwhelmed.  Sister Young surprised us and came from California.  It was just such a wonderful feeling throughout the entire day and we just felt so good about it.
 Sister Amber Ricks and her parents came over Saturday for an extended visit and again today.  We got to serve with this sister in Broomall and think so very highly of her talents.
 Sister Kindra Wilson and Kaydee Taylor attend BYUI.  They called at nearly 10 pm last night and stayed til midnight talking.  It was very fun to visit with them.  
 Elder Jordan Brown and his wife came down to support us.  They had to leave quickly as she had to work Sunday night.
 The PPM group minus Elder Shepherd and Elder Brown.  These are all those that sang the mission song with us.
 Sister Amy McNeil and Elder BJ Vickers are engaged.  Sister McNeil is very special to us as we delight in seeing her progress and happiness.
 Neil and Deonna Fuller came today.  They were our neighbors in Blanding and Neil was Corry's Asst. Coach for basketball.  They served in Palmyra, NY and just got called to serve in St. George at the historic sights.  We are going to be able to see them!  We got to go to dinner with them Thursday night.  We have so very much to catch up on.
 The Sisters from the PPM.  We were so very happy they came!
 Sister Rachel Young cleaned our apartment before we moved in.  We will forever love her for the wonderful job she did.  She is still steadily dating her boyfriend, but no engagement yet.
 Sister Collette Whitaker served with us in Broomall for a couple of transfers.  She is such a cutie and we love her.
 Sister Annabelle Hyatt came with Sister Whitaker.  Elder Jones had lots of dealings with her and cars.
 Our grandkids, our best support!  How we love them.  Abby is pictured above with a splint on her arm as she was playing basketball and took a tumble.  Sister McNeil's father had first aid experience and bandaged her up to support the injury.  We think it might be broken...The whole day was just such a sweet memory for us and we are very grateful for all those who attended and made us feel so special.  What a perfect way to end our mission experience.
Marilyn's Talk:
Homecoming Talk for 3/22/15

We were called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission as MLS or member and leader support.  For our mission that basically meant that you were sent to an area that needed Priesthood support—usually a branch or struggling ward and you worked with the ward and with the Elders and Sisters who were serving in the area by attending their meetings, helping them in teaching situations, taking them to appointments and mission meetings and feeding them and being their grandparent support.  It is a wonderful calling with the ability to become really close to all of the elders and sisters you get to serve with.  When we arrived in the mission the couple who were coming to serve in the office were delayed by 6 weeks.  Young elders had been serving for about 6 months in the office and President was anxious to get them back our into the field.  So we were asked to step in and help in the office for those 6 weeks.  We must have done OK because President eventually changed our call, asking us to serve in the mission office.  I did records and commissary and then the finances.  Elder Jones was the service elders and over the 100 cars in the mission.  He wore a phone at all times and it rang LOTS.  One day Corry mentioned to the mission president that if he ever had some elders having a difficult time that he would be happy to work with them as service elders.  The very next day president took him up on that offer.  It was such a privilege for me to see my husband use his talent as a counselor to serve in this capacity.  He thoroughly enjoyed it and made some life long friendships.  So after about 5 months we both had the confirmation that we were serving where we were supposed to serve, doing what we were supposed to be doing.  We absolutely loved working in the mission office.  At our peak we were up to 270 missionaries.  We were in a position to meet them all at transfers or zone conferences or at the office.  We served with a great mission president and his wife, T. Gary Anderson and Pam from the Logan area.  Their mantra was to do all that they could to insure that the senior missionaries had a good experience and they succeeded.  We served along with some awesome senior couples and we ended up organizing monthly socials to encourage fellowship among us.  We were able to even attend the Palmyra Pageant. 

The Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission takes in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, all of Delaware, the peninsula of Maryland and 1/3 of New Jersey from Atlantic City south.  Susquehanna is in this mission and the church will complete the Aaronic Priesthood commemoration monument sometime this summer.  That place is as beautiful as ever and our Elders do perform baptisms in this river.  The Philadelphia Temple is under construction right in the downtown area of Philadelphia and is scheduled for completion the summer of 2016.  This is the first temple that the church has actually sent a representative to facilitate this construction site.  It has a small visitor center and Elder and Sister Carr work hard to insure good will in the community and full utilization of the temple site as a proselyting tool.  I think most everyone ends up loving where they are called to serve and we are no exception.  We loved this mission and we loved the people the missionaries and the area.  I especially liked Valley Forge.  It just has a feeling of reverence as you travel through the park.

"Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this great country, there would not be enough freedom of religion for the restoration of the Gospel. So without what happened in this mission no other mission would exist. Also it was from this mission that the Battle of Trenton was begun and won. It was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Also in the mission is Valley Forge. Here during the winter of 1877-1878 the United State Army was able to survive and live to continue fighting the British and eventually win our independence. Without our independence the national church, Church of England would not have allowed a new religion to begin. It was in this mission at Harmony, Pennsylvania that 2 thirds of the Book of Mormon was translated. It was in this mission at Harmony that the Aaronic Priesthood was restored and the first baptisms were performed. Near Harmony the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored. It truly is the greatest mission in the world!"

Bishop instructed us to talk in some way about “hastening the work”.  Our mission is an I-pad mission and a Facebook mission.  These tools are specifically used to do just that.  We had the opportunity to go teaching with the elders or sisters and we had the fun of doing one series of lessons via Skype.  Because of the temple being constructed in Philly there is much emphasis to all of the members to be actively engaged in missionary work.  And they have also been instructed to be anxiously engaged in family history work so that when the temple is finished they will have a treasury of names to take there for ordinance work.  I have a testimony that where a temple is being constructed the Lord does prepare the people.  This temple has been under construction for about 2 years now.  Locals are very interested in its construction and the fact that it is taking a long time because the construction must be of such high quality.  Workmen have agreed not to smoke on the temple site and to refrain from any bad language.  Elder and Sister Carr bake homemade cookies for the workmen weekly.  Family history work was very much stressed in our stake.  We had a very awesome chairman who worked hard to teach family history.  Many, many non-members use the library and one man even helps man the library.  One of the reasons family history work is so stressed is that if a recent convert can quickly get to the temple with some of his or her family names they are much more likely to remain active.  Anabel is a recent convert, as is John.  They have both been twice to the temple with family names since their baptism this past winter.  A family history specialist works right after baptism to help them successfully find one of their family names to take to the temple for baptism. 

Near the end of our mission I was not busy enough one day so I decided to Family Search and just see if I had any relatives who had ever lived somewhere in our mission.  To my surprise I found several.  My maternal 6th great grandfather happened to lead the first settlement of Welshmen to land in Pennsylvania.  He landed just about 10 miles from where we lived. He was a Quaker, leaving Wales for religious freedom.  He settled right along the Schuylkill river in Philly.  I was able to find a letter that he wrote to William Penn telling him all about his journey to America and advising him what to bring with him to America.  We got to go to the cemetery where he was buried just 7 miles from our apartment. 

On our way home we were able to stop and visit our daughter and her family in Vienna, VA.  I have a grand-daughter that is fascinated with family history.  She has taken to it like a detective and delights in finding a name she can take to the temple.  We saw this in our mission and I testify that it is yet another way the Lord is hastening his work—this generation of youth understand how to do research on the computer and they are good at it.  In the ward we attended they called teenagers to be family history specialists—because they knew what they were doing.  Now back to my grand-daughter.  While we were staying with her she was up late one night and happened to connect a line on my family that had previously been undiscovered.  She was able to get many names.  So we went to the temple with 26 names from my family, Corry’s family and our son-in-law’s family and that was a very spiritual experience. 
In all of these ways the Lord is hastening his work in this part of the United States.  It was a wonderful experience to serve there.  We Feel very grateful to have been able to go on this mission.  For us the VERY best part were the wonderful Elders and Sisters that we got to meet and know and work with.  They treat senior missionaries tenderly and we felt loved.  And we loved them.  Some of them are even here today and I would now ask that all of the PPM missionaries come up here and we will sing our mission song.  As they come up I wish to thank our children for their support in every way during this last 18 months.  We hope that the blessings you received will outweigh your sacrifice.  I testify to you that the gospel we preach and the church that we represent are true and that my testimony was strengthened as we served and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

 Corry's Talk:

I look out over the congregation and I see my family, who supported us on our mission with their prayers and thoughts. 

I see many of our long time friends who have played such a supporting role in our lives.

I see the ward members who are still active and have changed somewhat and who remain as important people in our lives.

I see the missionaries that played such a wonder role in our lives.  I couldn’t hope for more than this on this Sabbath day.

Having said all of that, I do hope that our main purpose for coming today is to partake of the Sacrament, to renew our covenants, and to rededicate our lives in remembering what our Savior has done for us.  If not for that, then all of these relationships we have fostered throughout our lives would end without hope.

Vehicle Coordinator:
1.      Wrecked their car, reported it, and told me they gave the other driver a pass a long card, while they were filling out the accident reports.  They obtained a appointment to meet and teach him a lesson.
2.      Lost in a snow bank, got towed out, I didn’t know where they were, and their phone was going in and out.  Once safe to stay and make sure the others got out.
3.      Put diesel fuel in their car.  Liken it to sin and repentance.
4.      RR tracks  GPS led them poorly, liken it to following the wrong directions

Service Coordinator
1.      Testosterone
2.      The Johnson family, crying, working, fixing, and making it work.
3.      The family that had the fire
4.      The Liberians came with nothing.
5.      Elder Cowley’s medicine delivery

My most heart warming responsibility was visiting with missionaries and to listen of their loves and desires to serve our Father in Heaven and to preach of His Son.  To listen to their joys, their heartaches, their confusions, their frustrations with not having prayers answered, trouble with companions, and most importantly to hear about the tender mercies that they witnessed as people were touched by the spirit and accepted the gospel in their lives.

Let me pause for a moment and give you some of my suggestions for preparing young people to serve a mission.

When they are about 3 or 4 years of age, teach them how to work, and continue that expectation throughout their life.  Don’t buy everything for them, teach them to work, earn and purchase things themselves.  Teach them how to clean their rooms, their clothes, make their beds and to cook.  Don’t do it for them.  Help them to assume responsibilities of driving a car, paying for the gas, checking the oil, and how to fix a flat tire.  Lastly teach them to develop a spiritual relationship with the Godhead.  Teach them the gospel, read to them about the gospel, and show the proper example of how the gospel has blessed your life.  You cannot wait for this to happen when they are 15-16 years of age.

Elder Packers thoughts

“I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior”  Elder Boyd K. Packer

When I first heard this I was upset, why on earth couldn’t he have said this earlier in my life.  He clearly didn’t understand I had spent 8 years getting a Master’s degree, studying human behavior.  He didn’t understand that I have read 85 books on behavior, I have listened to audio recordings, attended seminars, trying to understand why people do, what people do.  I have read about Personality types, I have studied about Red, Blue, Yellow personality types.  I have tried to understand parachutes, and how that might give people peace of mind.  I have read about Yoga, meditation, I have tried diet plans, self help books. Now don’t get me wrong, I have learned many things through my studies, however I could have learned much more by applying the concept and principles of the Plan Of Happiness.  I started to understand the role the Christ plays in our lives, I understand what affect Satan has when we listen to his deceptions. 

Faith:  Do we really believe that Christ can do what He promises to do.  Can He take my pain and suffering away, Can He replace it with peace.  We have to come to the point that we have developed sufficient faith that He can and place our burdens upon him. 

Mosiah 4: 1-3  And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.

The Lord has said:  “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”  Ex. 15: 26
                        “I have seen thy tears:  behold I will heal thee.”  2 Kings 20: 5
Scriptures testify of his healings
                        “He healeth the broken in heart” Psalms 147: 3
                        “Healing all manner of sickness”  Matt. 4: 23
                        “Healed the sick, cleansed the Leper:  Matt. 10

Repentance:  Can we humble ourselves sufficiently to admit that we have errored, and need help to restore our standing with our Heavenly Father.  We need to stop justifying our behavior and with a broken heart and contrite spirit place our misdeeds upon someone that can do something about it.

Alma 29:  29-30 
 29 And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.
 30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.

Forgiveness:  Do we honestly believe that Christ has the ability to forgive us, and in turn can we forgive others that in our minds have done us wrong.  Knowing that if we don’t forgive others, then how do we believe we can receive forgiveness?

Matt. 6:  12, 14-15

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Then we must commit to be obedient, diligent, and that we will endure until the end.

Elder Packer on another occasion has said.
            “It is contrary to the order of heaven for any soul to be locked into compulsive, immoral behavior with no way out?
            It is consistent with the workings of the adversary to deceive you into believing that you are.
            I gratefully acknowledge that transgressions, even those which affect little children yield to sincere repentance.  I testify with all my soul that the doctrine of repentance is true and has a miraculous liberating effect upon behavior.
            To you innocent ones who have not transgressed, but were abused as little children and still carry an undeserved burden of guilt, I say:
            Learn true doctrine---repentance and forgiveness, lay that burden of guilt down.

            Faith, Repentance, Forgiveness, Obedience, Diligence, Endurance = the peace and joy promised.

“I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done:”  John 13:15

Come follow Me, do as I do, walk where I walk, serve as I have served

The Mission Song:
"We'll Bring This Mission His Truth"
1. We have been called to Pennsylvania,
To New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, too.
Thrusting our sickles and preaching the
We won't go home until everyone’s heard.
CHORUS: We are as the army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we are now the Lord's missionaries
To bring this mission His truth.
2. We have been called to Phil-a-del-phia,
Where we will thrust with our might, mind,
and strength.
Planning and finding and teaching all day;
The Holy Ghost will tell us what to say.
3. We have been called to Phil-a-del-phia;
Baptizing, binding we do both so well.
Knocking on doors’ til it’s quarter to nine;
Stretching and jumping, it's line upon line.
We’ll bring this mission His truth.
The Long (3,069 miles) Trip Home
We departed Broomall, Pa on Saturday, February 28, 2015.  Since about the middle of January I had been experiencing what I thought was problems related to having my neck severely kinked.  I had numbness in the hands and pains in the backs of my upper arms.  The end result was that sometimes I was very arthritic-like.  In the mornings I would have trouble moving my fingers and found getting dress and grooming very hard.  Corry had to help me dress.  By mid morning I would loosen up and frankly thought not too much about it.  There were a few times, however, when I was unable to sleep because of the pain and found it almost too hard to get out of bed or a chair.  Corry was concerned and had Jennifer make an appointment with her doctor to take a look at me.  I was blessed the last two days that I had not too much pain and my hands worked and I was able to pack and clean and go.  But when we got headed to Vienna, VA, I began to feel the pain and by that night I was pretty stoved up.  We had a good trip to Jen's and were so happy to see the remodel on her kitchen.  It is beautiful.  They were hosting a party that night for a friend's birthday and had lots of guests and we enjoyed our evening, seeing the kids, and being with them.  Sunday I basically just stayed at Jen's and rested.  Monday the doctor saw me.  He was a very nice man and did a broad series of bloodwork and gave me water pills and prednisone.  I quickly took a prednisone and even by that night felt somewhat better and by the time we left Jen's I felt like myself.  The swelling in my joints had subsided and I could even remove my ring...I enjoyed recuperating at Jens.  Some highlights of the time we spent there included watching Scotty play a basketball game, watching Dana play a YW basketball game and score 4 points and win, Corry taking Hannah out for a talk, playing games with the family, having Hannah tutor me on Family Search and having her discover a branch of my father's family tree and connect it and find names that needed temple work, going to lunch with Jen, watching Jen play tennis, Grandpa getting to watch college basketball and throw passes to Mikey and Scotty, and being snowed in 3 days that week so that we got to spend quality time with the kids.The best highlight, however was going to the Washington DC temple with 26 names that Jen and Hannah had found for baptisms.  It was a sweet spiritual experience that we thoroughly enjoyed.  We had been scheduled to go on Thursday but got snowed in so we rescheduled for Saturday and Brant was home and able to attend as well.  Both the couples that assisted us in the Baptistry had Blanding connections, one being a Jens Nielson descendant.  He had also lived in Minnesota and so my father's family names were familiar to him.  It was a very lovely way to end our stay in Vienna.
 Jen coming up the driveway towards the front porch with the snowblower.  About 8" of snow.
 Hannah shoveling out her truck.
 Grandpa wanted to use the snowblower too!
We awoke early Sunday, March 8 and headed west.  Our destination that day:  Knoxville, TN.  We traveled just about 500 miles each day and that was plenty.  It got us to our destination about 3-5 pm, depending on if we went through a time change and we could rest then go to dinner and settle down for the night.  We stayed each night at a Holiday Inn Express and I would book it the night before.  That made check-in quite simple and we had good experiences each time.  We made it an adventure by choosing a different kind of food each evening to enjoy.  Traveling through Virginia was mostly green with not too much visibility, then Tennessee was a bit more open and we enjoyed the green pastures and horses--especially Corry.  In Knoxville we found a really good Mexican Restaurant and enjoyed an early 47th Anniversary dinner with the best guacamole ever.
 Nashville, Tennessee.  Most of my pictures are taken from inside the car on the highway that we traveled on, as we really did not take any side trips to see sights, etc.  We just wanted to get to our destination.
 Memphis, Tennessee
 Crossing the Mississippi at Memphis
On our anniversary day we traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas.  We have never been to Tennessee nor Arkansas, so this was interesting to us.  In Arkansas we saw evidence of poverty.  Lots of trailers, old trailers, and abandoned trailers.  We wanted to get some BBQ for dinner and asked the front desk and ended up in a dive they recommended.  Their BBQ was a vinegar based sauce and it was quite good on the ribs, but the chicken tasted rather weird and not in a good way.  
 The next day:  Little Rock Arkansas to Abilene, Texas.  There was road construction and look at all of the Semis on the road.  This day it was much fewer trees and more cattle.
Dallas, TX
Ft. Worth, TX in the distance.
We found an interesting restaurant called the Beehive Restaurant in an old building downtown Abilene and it had the best food ever!  I had tilapia and Corry had shrimp and then we Corry was really hungry for a peach cobbler so we went to Cracker Barrell and enjoyed a yummy dessert.  The next day we traveled from Abilene, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  By then we were ready for Chinese food and we found a little mom and pop place with not much decor but really good Chinese food.  We quite liked Las Cruces.  The next day we traveled from Las Cruces to Yuma, AZ.  That was a long day with very little of anything that was green.  We did see some yucca and some flowering ocotillo and some jojoba plants growing and then some lettuce as we neared Yuma.  We arrived in Yuma on Thursday night and went straightaway to Riley's school where she had her Science Fair.  She had been chosen to represent her class and when she got there she was quite happy that she had been chosen to go to the next level.  
Riley with her medal on.
Tom and Heidi had recently purchased a home in Yuma and they are not quite totally moved in.  They had just begun to sleep there and most things were still in boxes and no pictures were hung.  It got me prepared for when we arrived home.  Our highlights:  Seeing the kids and playing games with them, helping them fix up their own rooms, helping Heidi clear away a few boxes so she could get to needed clothes, going to church with them, and going to dinner (pictured above).  One item of interest:  we left Vienna VA with temps of 30 degrees and arrived in Yuma to 90 degree weather and all of our summer clothes packed away.  We
Julene Kerbs was the secretary at the Idaho Youth Ranch when we first came to Idaho.  She worked downtown and then in the Thrift Store.  She has spent winters in Yuma for quite some time and Corry wanted to look her up.  Tom was able to locate her for us and we enjoyed lunch.  We are pictured above at her Park Model in Yuma.
We were very pleased to enjoy for dinner one night the famous Brady Jones Chili Balls!  Now we know what this is all about.  They are actually very good and Brady fancies himself quite the chef.
Monday morning March 16, 2015 we loaded up the car and headed for St. George.  The drive along Lake Havasu was very pretty at this time of year.  We arrived home at about 5:45 pm and this is what we saw:
Home at last and our family welcoming us!  They were very thoughtful and provided us with dinner that night and groceries for breakfast the next day.  We reported to the Stake President and got released and were able to have the kids unload the car for us and then we collapsed into our very own bed!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Our Report
For anyone who has followed this blog, we will report our mission on March 22, 2015 at 1 pm in the Bloomington 6th Ward on Manzanita Road in St. George, UT.  We welcome your attendance.  We plan to arrive home on March 16.  We have lots of work to do to unpack the house and get resettled, but we will eventually get it all done.  We have spent an enjoyable 6 days with our daughter in Vienna Virginia.  it has been cold and snowy and the kids have enjoyed 3 days home from school.  That means we got to play lots of games and really enjoy some quality time with them.  We will leave Sunday morning and travel across the southern part of the US, arriving in Yuma, AZ on Thursday night to spend time with Tom, Heidi, Riley and Brady Jones and then on home to St. George.  We will be home in time to enjoy the baptism of our grandson, Mason Stevens on Saturday, March 21, and will also celebrate the birthday of Emma Stevens the same weekend.  What a couple of weeks we will have!  We thank John and Jana and all their families for getting our room passable so we can at least get to the bed and for clearing out some of the boxes.  We have so appreciated your love and support.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Our VERY Last Week In The PPM
Monday morning we were privileged to have Elder David F. Evans  of the 1st Quorum of the 70 and head of the missionary department and Elder Allen of the 3rd Quorum of the 70 here for a mission-wide conference.  It was wonderful.  It lasted just about 4 hours.  Both of them had lapel mics and wandered among the missionaries, so if was quite informal and personal.  They greeted each missionary before the meeting.  I got to ask Elder Evans if he descended through my relative, Bishop David Evans of Lehi and he does not--but he said he gets asked that all of the time.  Since we were among the test missions for I-pads and Facebook we got this special opportunity to hear from these brethren.  The whole conference was about being in the world and not of the world and using technology responsibly.  It was very good.  The brethren feel that if we can teach these young adults to use technology responsibly and how to avoid the trap of pornography and other inappropriate related technologies that we will have an outstanding missionary force and a wonderful group of upcoming church leaders.  It was wonderful to bid good-bye to so many missionaries that we love. We got our picture taken dozens of times.  The day was very emotional.  The very best part was our WHOLE mission singing the mission song.  It was so powerful and brought me to tears with gratitude for being here and realizing the strength of this mission.  
 Evan and Darlene Wilson are from Veyo and if you remember, Corry and Evan played football together at Dixie.  We play games at their house each Friday night and will dearly miss them.  We will, however, take up the game playing with them when they return home in December.  They are CES missionaries who teach institute and Pathways.
 This picture is us with Elder and Sister Ballard from the Logan area.  We have served with them in the office for the last 9 months and they live in the same apartment building as we do.
This is Wendy and Greg Rose from Blackfoot, ID.  They are our replacements.  We have been training them for 7 days and both Corry and I feel that they are ready to go solo!  They will be just awesome.

Friday was our absolutely last day and there was another leadership training meeting, so we had to again say goodbye to missionaries.  One of the elders just asked me if he could hug me and from then on I just hugged them all.  I love these kids!  We love these kids!  We will miss the PPM, but feel so very grateful for the wonderful 18 months we got to spend here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


This week has been bitter cold.  The coldest was 5 degrees one morning, but mostly it was between 10 and 15 each morning this past week.  Then yesterday snow was predicted--and it cam right on time.  It was actually almost magical to watch those huge fluffy flakes come down at a rate of 5" of snow in just 4 hours.  We worked yesterday training our replacements and the photo below was us coming back from picking up some things from Walmart.  There were cars off the road or stalled in the road.  Yesterday one Elder lost his gas card in the snow and today another lost his phone...
 About our replacements.  Their names are Greg and Wendy Rose from Blackfoot, ID.  He just got released as the stake president after 9 years in the stake presidency and another 9 years as stake president.  They are really nice and we think they will do well.  The whole process of training seems just weird, though.  Corry thinks he will be done training and ready to head home by Thursday and I think I will not be done training until Saturday.  My trainee takes extensive notes (plus the 6 page instruction sheet I prepared) and his trainee has taken NONE.  I hope this all works out!
 The photo above is also us traveling home yesterday.  There were 3 heavy duty snow plows lined up side by side and slightly overlapping plowing the main road.  They do not even begin to plow until the snow is done falling.  Last night we must have got some rain because this morning it got up to 41 degrees and we basically had nothing but slush.  Church got delayed 3 hours and they just had Sacrament meeting.  So we got to say good bye once again.
When we arrived home to our little apartment this is what it looked like.  They plowed and cleared walks in the night so it is all good now.  

We are excited about tomorrow.  It is the very first conference of its kind in any mission.  We have been the beta test mission for I-pads with Facebook.  So tomorrow Elder Allen of the Mission Dept. and Elder David F. Evans of the 70's and head of the Missionary Dept. will be with us for a 5 hour training having to do with digital devices and proselyting.  Every missionary in our mission will be at the mission office building for this.  We will be busy before as Elder Jones is dispensing 3 cars to areas that have not previously had a car and I will be activating 6 phones for companionships whose phone has gone bad recently.  So no training for tomorrow...

As we commence the very last week of our mission we do so with very mixed feelings.  We have so loved this experience!  We are sad to bring it to a close, but look very much forward to enjoying our place as real grandparents to our 20 wonderful grandchildren.  Our testimonies have grown, we have made friends with senior couples that we will treasure the rest of our lives, and we have become very attached to some awesome missionaries who we hope to see in the future.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

This winter has been very mild compared to last winter, but yesterday changed all of that.  It was predicted we would get a bit of snow--and we did.  And it was also predicted that the wind would be vicious and that the temps would drop--and they did.  Today at 9:30 am when we left for church it was 9 degrees.  When we headed home almost 4 hours later it had gone up to 18 degrees--and all of this was accompanied by swirling crazy winds that froze everything they touched.  This trend is supposed to continue through the week and by next Saturday we may get up to 36 degrees.  This is weather that you avoid at all cost and just stay inside.

The week was not too eventful, but we did get one milestone.  We have a quirky older lady that we met a year ago--Josephine Chavez.  She is in her 80's and has suffered some really serious health problems this past year, making it difficult to come to church, take care of herself and everything in between.  Her husband is still alive, Dr. Hector Chavez, retired surgeon.  He also has health issues.  His neck is fused such that he must always have his chin nearly touching his chest, making it incredible hard to see anything taller than him.  I have known Josephine for a year but just met Hector Friday.  Josephine is a great photographer and many of you have received cards from me that have her photos attached.  She has given us a couple of treasured photos, my favorite being the Valley Forge Covered Bridge.  Anyway, she has wanted to see the temple that is in process here in Philly for some time.  We have agreed to take her, but she kept being unable to go the planned day, due to health problems.  But Friday she could go--and Hector too!  Sister Susan McElroy (visiting teacher to Josephine and recently released RS pres.) brought them to the office Friday morning and we headed for downtown to see the temple.  It was very cold, so we drove around the temple a couple of times and then went in to the visitors center where they could see the plans for the entire block.  They enjoyed it very much.  They had lived just a couple of blocks away from the temple site as newlyweds some 50 years ago and were most happy to tell us what building used to be at each location we drove by.  We rounded off the morning by lunch at Panera, Josephine's treat.  We felt so glad to take these two to see the temple.  

Friday night we had a Valentine party for the Senior Missionaries and Elder Jones and I got to bear our testimony again, as the next departing missionaries.  We had lots of fun with these wonderful people we have met while serving here.  We love them!  Today in Sacrament meeting we were again asked to bear our testimonies.  That makes 5 times in the last few weeks.  So we will finish the week tonight by enjoying dinner with all of our Korean friends from the Broomall Ward.  We look forward to this meal as we do so enjoy their food.  We just returned from the meal.  The photo at the end of this post is us with our Korean friends.  We enjoyed their company and the food was really fabulous.  They surprised us with a cake and some gifts--a special set of chopsticks in a case for each of us and a decoration of miniature wooden Korean shoes.  It was difficult to say goodbye to them, but they promise to visit us in St. George.  

Our replacements, Elder and Sister Rose from Blackfoot, ID will arrive probably on Saturday, 2-21-15.  That gives us a week to train them and then we will pack and begin our journey home.  We have so enjoyed all that we have participated in these last 18 months and feel very grateful to have been able to enjoy this wonderful experience.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The LAST Transfer!
 The week began as a usual transfer week.  Monday night we had dinner with all of these wonderful missionaries pictured below.  Above is a picture of us with President and Sister Anderson.  We love them!  This was a hard outgoing dinner as we have had such personal dealings with so many of these departing missionaries.  Corry has counseled some, teased some and loved them all.  I have replaced phones, cards, taken them a phone, etc.  We just love them.  Below far right elder is Elder Beatty.  He got to stay an extra week because his parents are on a cruise with all of their siblings and it was just a couples cruise.  Elder Jones has really used him to help him around the office all week.  We had him and the AP's to dinner last night.
Below is Elder Seth Bloomfield (with a crooked smile).  He is one of my VERY favorites.  We speak Spanish together.  He was coming down a hill very fast on his bike about a year ago up in the Scranton area and collided with a truck.  It threw him over the truck but he just ended up with stitches under his nose and mouth.  He is a great missionary.  A very hard working missionary.
 Below are Elders (l to r) Hellyer, Wilcock and Hopkins.  Elder Hellyer and Hopkins were both service elders with Elder Jones.  Elder Wilcock recently crashed his car TWICE in a month.  He is not on Elder Jones' good list...
This is Sister Bennett.  She has been serving downtown near the temple.  She most recently served as a Sister Trainer.  She is a very good missionary and very sweet.
This is Sister Menlove.  We love her.  She is just a very caring sweet sister missionary.  I will miss her dedication. 
 This is Sister Clark.  She had probably the first accident Elder Jones dealt with and has been unable to drive since.  She most recently served here in Broomall so we have been able to get to know her and we love her lots!
These are the incoming missionaries.  They were a very smart looking bunch.  We had 9 come to us from the Mexico MTC and they were so very excited to eat semi-American food for dinner.  Notice the very large Elder right in the middle back.  He is Elder Pule and he is Samoan but most recently from New Zealand.  He joined the church about 2 years ago (he is 22) and his family disowned him.  Today he went tracting with his companion and a man told them to never come to his house and then pulled out a shotgun and cocked it at them.  Needless to say, they were quite scared.  President had them file a police report.  (and mark the area book to never go there again) 
So on Thursday after all of the transfers were done I went to the doctor about my neck, back and shoulder pain.  I decided about 2 weeks ago that my neck was out and have had 3 chiropractic visits but the pain continued, making it almost impossible to dress, fasten seatbelts, walk, etc.  Anyway, he gave me a medrol dose pack (steroids) and after 1 day the pain was gone and I was able to sleep and move without pain.  I am so very grateful to feel back to normal!  And Elder Jones is glad not to have to do tights anymore...

Other highlights of the week were a dinner at Bishop Kim's with President and Sister Anderson too.  It was wonderful Korean food and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now to another item.  I may have mentioned this at some time, but in November we had a workshop on genealogy for the senior Missionaries and we learned a bit about Family Search.  So for the next month when I was bored at the office I would look at my family tree. In particular, I was looking to see if I had any relatives that ever lived around Philadelphia.  For all of my Hamren relatives look at grandpa Ernest Evans.  His gg-grandpa was David E. Evans and David's wife was Lettie Thomas.  Lettie Thomas' grandparents on her mother's side were Doctor Edward Jones and Mary Wynne.  

Doctor Edward Jones set out from Bala, Wales in the summer of 1682 and traveled to Liverpool, England.  He sailed to America on the ship "Lyon", landing in a Swedish town called Upland (now called Chester, which is about 12 miles east of us).  Mary Wynne, his wife, was an approved Quaker minister and a daughter of Dr. Thomas Wynne of Caerwys, Wales.  Dr. Thomas Wynne descended from Sir William Gerard, Chancellor or Ireland.  Anyway, Dr. Edward Jones and his wife Mary had many children.  Their son John attended General Washington while in Philadelphia.  Mary and Edward came to America with the first group of Welsh immigrants.  They fled Wales for religious persecution.  They were friends and contemporaries of William Penn.  They settled in Merion (8 miles from us).  So Saturday we went to the cemetery where they were buried, The Merion Friends Cemetery.  It is very old and the grave markers that are still present are from the 1800's.  Corry visited with some people meeting there and found the area that they would have been buried as some of the first buried in this particular cemetery.  As we strolled through the cemetery we saw many Jones, Wynne, and Thomas graves--undoubtedly relatives.  In the Philadelphia area there are many towns with the name "wynne" in them:  Wynnewood, Wynnefield, Penn Wynne.  Edward Jones was born in 1645 and lived until 1737.  Mary Wynne was born in 1659 and died in 1738.  Their daughter Elizabeth Jones was also buried in Merion, PA, as well as their grand-daughter, Lettie Thomas.  If you look on the fan chart for grandpa Ernest Evans you can also see Caleb Evan 5 generations back and he was also buried in Merion, PA.  Who knew we had roots so close to here.  I also found many on thie very line who lived in Delaware and Maryland within 50 miles of us.  I am grateful that these ancestors had the bravery and fortitude to come to this new land of America so that we could enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy today.  
 So their cemetery is a national historic landmark.
 This is the general area they are buried.  You can see that only a few stones remain and they are mostly smooth and unreadable.
Entrance to the Merion Cemetery.