Sunday, December 29, 2013

Goodbye 2013!
I have no photos this week.  Well, I did take one of Elder Jones taking a nap with his mouth open, but I was warned there would be retribution if I published it...

Christmas really was quite different this year.  We were not at our own home, so it did not seem lonely or odd, just different.  We spent all of Christmas Eve day in a Christmas devotional for the Philly and Valley Forge zones and then we took a load of late Christmas presents to New Jersey.  We traveled around to Cherry Hill, Woodstown, and ended up in Camden after dark in a Lexus with presents in the back.  Not too smart...but we got them all delivered.  We came back into Philly across the Ben Franklin Bridge and it began to snow lightly on us.  With the lights of downtown so colorful and the snow gently falling it was breath-taking.  I wanted that for my photo, but alas, I could not get a good shot as we were going to fast and could not pull over.  Christmas day we opened a few gifts and headed for dinner with 2 other couples.  It was very enjoyable.

This afternoon we spent 3 hours with the sister missionaries in our ward visiting partial member families.  Of the 6 we went to visit, only 1 family was home.  So we got a reality check on doing missionary work out of the office today.

We are realizing on this mission just how hard Heavenly Father and all of his angels have to work to protect these young missionaries as they proselyte.  This week another pair of our missionaries were held up at gunpoint (we had one about 3 weeks ago too).  All the robbers got was a phone, but the elders were a bit frightened.  Then today Corry got a phone call during church.  2 Sister missionaries had a car accident and their car was totaled.  They were not hurt except for the deployment of the air bags and the bruises from the shoulder harnesses.  We do pray daily for their health and safety!

We enjoyed eating on Christmas with our mission president and his wife and we learned from him that the calling of mission president is probably the hardest calling he has ever had.  He told us of some mission presidents who even have to have help to deal with the stress of the calling.  As we learn of the various situations they have to deal with daily, we can understand the difficulty of their job.  So we pray for them as well.  Actually we do pray for quite a few people--family, friends who are going through a hard time, missionaries, president and his wife, us...

2013 has been an eventful year.  Retirement in its fullness, renting our home and coming on this mission.  We are very happy for all 3 of these and we absolutely love serving in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission.  We so appreciate the support of our family and friends and we do love keeping up with you through Facebook and e-mail.  Have a wonderful 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 from the Pennsylvania Jones'!

It is a very different Christmas this year.  Usually by now I have baked hundreds of cookies, made 10 pounds of candy, shopped, decorated and am so excited that I cannot sleep at night.  This year we are experiencing our first Christmas away from family--that part of Christmas we will miss.  But we are happy and engaged in good things.  Last Sunday night we attended a Philadelphia/Valley Forge Stake Messiah Sing-Along.  It was absolutely wonderful.  The orchestra and choir were very top quality.  All the area was invited to participate so we had musicians from other faiths as well as attendees.  It was fun to actually get to SING some of those wonderful songs.  Monday night we attended a Christmas party for all the Senior Missionaries in our Mission and that was thoroughly enjoyable too.  Just minutes before we came the Mission President and his wife were informed that their son-in-law fell off a wall and landed on his back.  They were very concerned about him and his family and it was hard for them as they were so far away that they couldn't do anything but pray.  The next day our entire mission held a fast for the young man.  He broke 4 vertebrae in his neck as well as his sternum.  They reconstructed some vertebrae from his hip bone and used screws and rods and braces for the rest.  It is a miracle, but thankfully he has no loss of feeling.

We have 275 missionaries x about 4 presents each, so we have been collecting lots of presents in the office.  Thursday we traveled to Nazareth, PA, then Cherry Hill, NJ, then Dover, DE for a Christmas movie, devotional, talent show and to pass out all of these presents.  We had a very fun time doing that.  Such talented missionaries and it was special to be part of bringing Christmas to them.  We have Tuesday left with 4 zones from Philly and Valley Forge.  Last night we had our ward party and today we had the Christmas Program followed by a trip to some investigators to take goodies and leave a message.  The Sisters accompanied us.  Not being busy doing my normal temporal things has given both Corry and I time to reflect on the Savior and to realize that that really IS the meaning of Christmas.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2014!
These are the presents we took to Dover and Wilmington Zones.  We have 11 total zones, so you get a hint of what we have been dealing with.  Each day we drive to the local post office to pick up the boxes (I think 60 was the most we got in one day), then we label them, sort them and then sort them again into zones and then into the van, then into the rec hall and then divvy them out.  The missionaries were super excited, but we have some who ride a bus and will have a really hard time getting home a large box!  For any Missionary Moms I suggest the 12" prepaid USPS boxes and gift cards...
The east coast is quite interesting.  We have had freezing temps for 2 weeks and the 6" total of snow we received did not melt.  It would freeze and we had lots of ice.  But yesterday and today have been 60-64 with rain.  In 24 hours all signs of winter left...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Transfers and Christmas Prep
Monday was transfers and Sister Munson (blue sweater) got transferred out of our ward.  We knew she would be leaving, but we shall miss her.  She wanted a photo of the office staff..

 I did not realize it, but when you ask a missionary how long he/she has been out, they respond by saying "x transfers".  The ones being transferred are on the right and they are matched with their new companions on the left.  They watch the power point presentation to see who their new companion is and then they run together, hug and Sister Anderson takes their picture.  It is very fun to witness.
 Thank you John Jones family and Jana Stevens family for the precious Christmas tree with decorations made in Family Home Evening by the grand kids.  That makes it even more special to me.  It makes our little apartment look like Christmas.  I have not done many of the things I usually do to get ready for Christmas, but I did make some cookies and caramel and Martha Stewart this week for gifts (and for us, of course).
Early in November each parent was notified to have their child's Christmas presents sent to the Mission office by Dec. 6.  This is the result.  We have 270 missionaries and most of them have 2-4 presents each.  One present cost $45 to send!  So we have LOTS of presents.  Since we had transfers last week we simply arranged them by alphabet and tomorrow we will separate them into zones.  Then Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday we will deliver them to each area and have a Christmas Devotional with them.  I think it will be lots of fun.  Elder Jones got a phone call last night from Sisters who had a slow leak in a tire.  They went in to a local shop to have it checked out and repaired if needed.  When they entered the waiting room they asked the others waiting if they could turn off the TV.  They reluctantly let the Sisters turn it off.  Then the Sisters began singing Christmas Carols.  After a few the others joined in and a lovely spirit of Christmas filled the shop.  When the shop owner was finished with their car he thanked them and did not charge them anything.  We were glad they shared their Christmas Miracle with us!  Tonight we are headed to a Messiah Sing Along at our ward.  They are praying for a miracle as the last 2 rehearsals were called off due to the snow.  Even the Ward Christmas Party was delayed a week.  We certainly miss our family at this Christmas Season, but are happy to be spending it with such devoted servants of Christ.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We have felt our age this week.  Elder Jones continues to work on getting his back back to normal and Sister Jones came down with a cold.  We are feeling better today and look forward to an interesting week.  We learned that the transfers on Tuesday will affect our missionaries that serve with us in the Broomall Ward.  One of the Elders and one of the Sisters that we have become attached to will be transferred.  They were both a bit sad this weekend, but we got to have lunch with the Elders yesterday and dinner with the
 Sisters last night, so we tried to "pump them up" for the new areas they will be assigned on Tuesday.  Of the 270 missionaries in this mission, just over 60 sets of missionaries will be affected and change areas.  For Elder Jones this means assigning the service Elders on Monday to drive downtown and pick up the luggage of all those affected because they cannot take it on public transit, then on Tuesday to travel to Philly again and deliver the new Elder's/Sister's luggage.  It also means that he will be trading out 3 vehicles and assigning 3 cars to areas that have thus far not had a car.  For me it means updating the computer and then the phones so President has all of the information he needs in his phone.  We will be able to attend the dinner and testimony meeting for the outgoing 5 missionaries Monday, see the transfers on Tuesday, (that part is wild!), greet the 6 new missionaries Tuesday evening and have dinner with them (Elder Jones will be interviewing each one regarding driving privileges), then see the 6 new missionaries assigned to their trainers on Wed. and do some training at that time.  (Elder Jones does his presentation on Stress).
We attended Church today.  They dismissed Priesthood a bit early and began clearing the walkways so people could safely get to their cars.  It was just beginning to snow half way through Sacrament Meeting and by the time we finished the meeting block there was 3" of snow!  This photo is our church.
We took an investigator, Patrick, 11 years old to church today.  He is a very nice boy and wanted to attend.  We traveled slowly to his home and this shows about 4" in his front yard.
A colonial home we passed taking Patrick home.  I thought it looked like a Christmas Card!
The roads were clogged with cars that could not get traction, cars stalled on the side of the road, cars that slid into each other, and even a car being pushed by some Army young men and women.  If you look closely the cars are visible far ahead.  The walkers on the side of the road beat us up the hill.
 When we arrived at our apartment, Elder Jones dropped me off close to the sidewalk and then was unable to get up enough speed to make it up the hill to park the car.
Our apartment is located on the top floor, furthest from where the photo is taken.  We had plans to visit less actives with the Sister missionaries this afternoon but decided that we should all just stay at home and stay safe and warm.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013
 Actually, we did feel just a bit guilty to be on a mission and yet enjoy Thanksgiving with our daughter!  But we traveled the 2 1/2 hours early Thursday to be with Jen, Brant and family in Vienna, VA.  Jen prepared a wonderful dinner and we enjoyed plenty of food and games.  Grandpa caught up on TV sports.
 I participated in several "selfies" this weekend, so I decided to take one to prove I was at this dinner too.
Saturday the Bishop's had a large party in the early afternoon to play laser tag.  Each child invited some friends and they played for about 2 hours.  They had a really good time.  Notice Brant in his cammo on the right side of the above photo.  The weather was quite cold, but they seemed to be fine.
The girls outnumbered the boys.  They played 4 games and ended in a tie.  Jen welcomed them in from the cold with hot soup, cocoa, cookies, bread and a warm home.  Some stayed hours...
Now to sum up the weekend:  As we all voiced what we were thankful for, I thought about it all weekend and decided that I truly do have so many things to be grateful for.  Among my top picks, however:
My testimony of Christ and my membership in his church.
My family!  My health!   That I can still learn and think.
Serving a mission at this time with Corry.
Living in these United States.
My children and their support of us while on this mission.
A warm bed and car.
And this weekend, to see Jen's much improved health.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zone Conference Week
This week we enjoyed 4 zone conferences.  The First one was Wednesday in Nazareth, PA.  After it was all complete, we headed back home via Bethlehem and we saw the local police on horseback!
Elder Jones had the responsibility this week to inspect all of the mission vehicles.  That added up to about 100 cars in 4 days, which was quite a feat in itself.  By the last day he had it down to a science.  The photo below is the parking lot of the Dover, DE chapel.  We noticed that since it was further south the leaves were still on some of the trees and this particular location had amazing fall foliage still!
 It was a bit cold outside and this shows Elder Jones wearing his new scarf and his beanie to keep warm.  His favorite line from the missionaries was "uh....a dipstick?"
 At the Dover building we enjoyed an especially lovely Thanksgiving dinner.  I took this photo because the stake Relief Societies of the various areas were to prepare a lunch.  This one was done by 2 couples, one who did catering.  They decorated the gym with linen tablecloths, chargers and china, goblets and cloth napkins and beautiful fall centerpieces.  The meal included every possible Thanksgiving entree and was exceptional.  I almost cried to see the work that these couple went to to provide such a special luncheon.
I learned many things this week as we visited with every one of the missionaries within the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Mission.  The Lord is in charge of this work.  The missionaries are more prepared and dedicated than ever.  Angels are protecting our missionaries.  In Nazareth the night before our arrival an elder was going too fast on his bike down a hill and did not stop at the 4-way stop at the bottom.  He hit a pickup truck, landing on the front windshield and breaking it, then flying through the air, landing on his back in the road.  He ended up sore and with some steri-strips on 3 places around his lips, but that is all.  He was very blessed to be alive.  The stress of the conferences was to teach by the Spirit and to teach short, well-planned lessons using the pamphlets.  We saw this demonstrated many times and then heard the results the next day as this technique was used.  It is effective and will convert!  It was a privilege to be able to attend these conferences and to meet the wonderful missionaries within this mission.  We had a brief session to present on records, commissary and cars, so we got to rub shoulders with the missionaries personally.  We bear testimony that this is the Lord's work and he is in charge.  Thank you for your love and support while we serve this mission!  We love you!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall is Done
See all of these leaves?  They are now in piles all over the curbs, sidewalks, streets, etc.  We have been told that eventually the city comes and vacuums them all up, but right now it is pretty crunchy out and about.  We had our first "snow" this past Monday night.  It was just a light flurry that did not stick, but it WAS technically snow.  

We anticipated training this past week on I-pads, but instead, brethren from SLC came to analyze our mission prior to the I-pads.  They find that our mission has a very large teaching pool, but not proportionately as many baptisms as should be, so they came and met with the Mission president, AP's and also went on splits and teaching assignments and then spent all day Thursday teaching the Zone and some district leaders regarding effective teaching that would lead to more baptisms.  The missionaries said that it was really good training and should really help them.  Brother Hemmingway is over the proselyting in the missionary dept.  He heard someone ask me where we were from and I said St. George.  He picked up on the conversation and asked what part of St. George.  Then he said "Oh, my brother in law lives in Bloomington, Bill Western."  So it was fun to visit with him over lunch.  As all of this was going on, Corry received a visit from Greg Jensen who is over all of the cars for missionaries.  He came to introduce himself and to explain a bit about the new cars program that was launched last week.  Elder Jones was a bit disappointed that he did not learn very much, as he is wanting to understand the new program.  In reality, the visit brought more questions than answers, but they too will come.  Greg Jensen did tell Elder Jones that the announcement from President Monson to lower the missionary ages for elders and sisters cost the church $70 million.  That would be in cars, insurance, apartments, supplies, more MTC lodging, etc.  Amazing!  Aren't we glad to be even a small part of missionary work by paying our tithing so that the missionary efforts can continue and progress.

This coming week we have zone conferences.  We will be traveling Wed.-Sat.  Wed. we will travel to Nazareth, PA, then downtown Philadelphia, then Dover, DE and finally our own ward building.  We have heard from other couples that have been here longer that we will each need to participate in the training.  I have prepared a couple of items so that I will be ready--Dad is always ready.  He will be especially busy that day as at the zone conferences is the inspection of the vehicles.  We have 100 cars in our mission, so that means that around 25 must be inspected each day.  It will be fun to meet missionaries in these different areas.  When we conduct these zone conferences the Relief Societies in the area prepare a lunch for the missionaries.  

Yesterday was our P-Day.  Elder Jones arose early (of course) and attended the soccer game of a family the bishop assigned for us to visit.  Massi was very happy that Elder Jones said he would come to his game and then came.  He needs a father figure in his life.  Then Elder Jones stopped by the home of an investigator who just dropped the sister missionaries and challenged him to continue studying and reading.  (I stayed home and cleaned our tiny apartment)  We then went with another senior couple into Philadelphia and did some Christmas shopping (yes, dad helped!), shared a really good turkey burger at the Continental Diner and quickly headed home for another appointment with the sister missionaries.  We taught a less active brother who grew up in Idaho and basically abandoned the church in his early teens but is now needing that anchor in his life.  He began reading the Book of Mormon voraciously this past week and hopes to finish it tonight!  We meet often with him and his non-member wife. They are very sweet to us.  We finished up the day by having supper and games with 2 other senior couples in this area.  We are blessed to be surrounded by such awesome people!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Week in Review
Each month the senior missionaries try to gather for a family home evening.  This month we headed for downtown Philly to view the temple site.  It was quite interesting.  Brother and Sister Carr are over the temple site.  There is a single wide trailer they have set up as a small visitor's center.  When the temple was planned for Philadelphia the church purchased some land in Valley Forge on a hill there.  But that was not where Heavenly Father wanted the temple.  It needed to be right downtown! This site was discovered and it was perfect, except that there was much resistance in selling it to the Church.  Zoning was fine, the city just did not vote in favor of releasing it to the Church.  Vi Sikahema (sp?) is a local sports caster and Stake President and he was asked to come to the meeting where the vote would be taken and address the city fathers.  He did so, and very eloquently explained the importance of the family in the Church and how his family struggled to be able to be sealed as a family because of the distance they had to travel in order to perform this sacred sealing.  When the vote was taken the result was the sale of the property to the church.  Heavenly Father is definitely in charge of his houses!  The above shot is of the construction site.  In the upper right corner is the first of the girders for an outside wall.  The rest of the middle is the 2 story parking facility.  When they dug this huge hole they hit granite and it had to be blasted out.  I was able to get a small piece of that rock.  Then they hit underground water and had to go through a lengthy process of diverting it around the temple itself.  The building is to be finished around May 2016.  We will definitely have to return to see its completion.  The granite for the face of the building was to come from China--a very high quality.  But the quarry since shut down, so a hurried search was begun to find another suitable granite.  The granite has been secured and it comes from Maine.  It is a lovely grey speckled look and we got to hold it.  The finished temple will blend in nicely with the other very old buildings near it and it will be a fitting tribute to a city with such historical significance as well as religious freedom beginnings.

 Elder Jones had the assignment this week to do the training on the weekly conference call to all of the missionaries.  It was to be about dealing with the stress of being on a mission.  After much preparation and revision, Corry felt good about his presentation and had it for 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes--whatever time was given to him.  As it happened, the call had a glitch and it took about 10 minutes to get it going properly, so the 15 minute presentation was just perfect.  I was very pleased for Corry--he did a really good job.  He instructed them, among other things NOT to "agree to disagree" with their companions.  That is just no way to live and work together.  He said that he could not imagine Heavenly Father and his companion, Jesus Christ ever using that phrase.  I thought that was quite profound.  Friday we spent most of the day taking an Elder from Camden New Jersey to get a root canal in Norristown, about 20 miles NW of Philadelphia.  It was good to get to know more of the elders in our mission on a personal level.  We also got to drive to Newark, DE this past week to take supplies to the sisters.  We are getting to see more of the mission.  This week we will be trained on the use of I-phones and I-pads.  Our mission will be receiving them in December.  We have training for 3 days, and then we hold a district leader training.  I imagine Elder Jones will again be doing some training on stress.  I will be helping to prepare a potato bar for 40.

So to prepare for this, we treated ourselves to a fun P-day with the Holloways and Smuins, local senior missionaries.  Here is how we spent Saturday:

This is the famous Bell Tower with the statue of William Penn atop.  They will take you to the top and it shows a fabulous view of the city.  But alas, it is not open on Saturday, so we walked all around, looked at the various statues and the architecture but will have to return for another look from the top.
 This is a statue of Benjamin Franklin, the printer.  There are very many statues of Ben Franklin in this city.
 This statue is a tribute to the family and it was to celebrate the 200 anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  The plaque explains how important the family is to the principle of constitutional government.
 Right by the statue of the family is a very large cement area filled with various large game pieces:  dominoes, parts of Monopoly, Bingo, Clue, etc.  The elders are standing on B-11.
 The sisters standing by a Monopoly playing piece.
 Yes, I stood in line for 30 minutes, but I got to see the Liberty Bell close up!  It was worth it!  When we arrived Saturday morning we parked our car in a local LDS Church building parking lot and took the train the rest of the way in to the center of Philly.  We had to get on the subway about 4 different times, but it sure helped not to do quite so much walking.  Don't get me wrong, we got plenty of walking.  We headed next to the Reading Market.  It is a large block market.  It is enclosed and sells any and every kind of food imaginable.  I saw every deli item, meat, fruit, veggie, bread, candy, dessert and all of this in many different ethnicities.  We chose to eat at the Amish area and enjoyed a really good lunch there in very tight quarters.
 Elder Jones at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the site of the famous "Rocky" running up the steps for his boxing training.  While we were there we saw many groups racing up the stairs.  The men waited in the car, but all three of the sisters climbed the stairs!
 Grandma and Grandpa Jones at the statue of "Rocky".

View from the top of the "Rocky" steps.  Philadelphia really does have a lovely skyline.  When we finished the city tour we headed to Valley Forge and drove through the park.  The fall foliage was mostly gone, but the drive was beautiful nonetheless.  Then we went to our new favorite place, Zwalen's, a premier ice cream shop.  The owners are LDS and give missionaries 1/2 price.  We had a great day!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Finally, Fully Fall!

          All of the photos above were taken on the way home from church today, Nov. 3, 2013.  We have enjoyed the brilliant colors this week.  Elder Jones took a trip with 2 young Elders to a small town near Cape May, MD and enjoyed a colorful scene of tree-lined highway all the way there and back.  He even commented on how gorgeous it was.  I have seen colors of fall that I did not even know existed in foliage.  We are happy to be enjoying such beauty.
          We have had a very busy week.  On Monday evening we had a dinner to honor the outgoing missionaries.  We had 10 elders and 1 sister.  They all flew home early the next morning.  Then on Tuesday we had the transfers of all those involved, so there were about 150 missionaries at the office to get this all accomplished.  2 new areas were opened for proselyting so that was good.  The missionaries who were paired up left, except for the 21 who would be getting "goldens" the next day.  They stayed with various missionaries close by.  Then training began for those who would receive "goldens" and that had to be cut short so we could leave and pick up the incoming missionaries at the airport.  We all went, returning with precious new missionaries to the mission home where various paperwork, interviews and orienting occurred.  Elder Jones had to interview each one to see if they would be able to drive a car.  I mostly helped in the kitchen.  Then Elder and Sister Jones took off to pick up one last missionary at the airport who had flown in from the Mexico City MTC.  We got a good visit with him.  The thing that all of these missionaries shared was hunger, sleepiness, and happiness to actually finally be on their mission.  They especially enjoyed a regular home-cooked meal at the mission home.  They all spent the night there, then came to the mission office the next morning to be assigned to a companion and an area.  It is an exciting time.  Elder Jones once again presented his Power-Point on Managing Stress as a missionary.  We absolutely know that the Lord is over this work!  He has to be in order for it all to somehow work.  We love seeing the growth of the ones returning home compared to the ones just coming into the field, but the "goldens" are so enthusiastic that it is also good to see.  In the 21 new ones we received were also 4 "Visa Blessings" who are awaiting their Visas to go to Brazil.  This transfer and the in and outgoing missionaries means that all of the phones and cars get moved to new missionaries (they stay with the apartment normally).  That plus the fact that Elder Jones had 9 new cars to be assigned made an interesting situation for each of us.  We have appreciated the Lord's help in handling these situations.  We each had some mind boggling computer issues to conquer.  We are growing in our appreciation of just what it takes to manage a mission.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall is Here
 We enjoyed some good missionary experiences this week.  This is us at the ward Halloween party.  We took an investigator with us.  I will tell you more about that...They had some really good chili there and it was accompanied by rice.  Yes, RICE.  (Our ward has about 12 families that are Korean).  Actually tasty!
 Today is Sunday and we took a drive to try to catch a couple of families the Bishop assigned us to visit.  We did not find anyone home, but traveled 30 miles and saw some colorful follage.

 So for our "P" day, Dad went with the Sister Missionaries to teach "Sassoun".  He randomly called the mission office on Thursday wanting to be taught.  He had left his job and traveled back home to PA to start over.  He had apparently been to Temple Square and had contact with Mormons at some time, because he mentioned how good he felt they were and that was what first sparked his interest.  He walked to the Mission office and Dad, along with the 2 Sister Missionaries there taught him for about 1 hour.  We then took him home.  Dad and the missionaries taught him again on Saturday.  Then we took him to the Halloween party and again today for church.
While dad was teaching, I went shopping and found myself a winter coat at Macy's.  It is gray and I really like it.  I wanted to get it because we are going for a field trip with the other senior missionaries in 2 weeks and will be walking outside while seeing the temple construction site.

We are working more with the Sister missionaries in our ward.  Also, we will be getting a set of Elders on Wednesday for the ward.  That will be great.  We attended a Ward Missionary Coordination meeting on Thursday and received an assignment to contact a couple of people.  I was to meet one today, but she left before anyone could introduce us.  However, we did have 6 investigators and 2 less actives who are all being currently taught at church today.  The meeting was about the Book of Mormon and the talks were exceptional.  I really liked them and the investigators did too.  One of the investigators is Diane.  I met with her for the 2nd time this week with the missionaries.  They brought her to the office and we had lunch together.  She is very sweet.  She committed to live like a Mormon for a month and see how she felt.  She even brought her inactive spouse with her today.  He is from Idaho.  Thursday we attended District Meeting and Dad had to leave early because of a phonecall, but I got to role play a missionary with Elder Taylor.  He is really nice and we have been companions twice during roleplay.  Friday we had a leadership training for zone and district leaders.  Dad presented some car safety information and I helped make a lunch for them.  It was a busy day.  Tomorrow begins transfers.  We take 2 to the airport (Dad and I get to take an Elder who finally got his VISA!) to go.  That night we have a dinner honoring all those leaving to go home.  Early Tuesday they go to the airport.  Dad had to rent a U-haul for their luggage.  Then transfers take place and the companionships leave for their new assignments.  Then we all go to the airport in the afternoon to greet the new ("Golden") missionaries.  Dad has to interview each one (we get 21) regarding driving privileges.  I help in the kitchen to feed them.  Then Wed. they get assigned to their companions.  Then they leave and things calm down.  We are so lucky to get to know all of these terrific young men and women.  We are striving especially to work hard to make the Mission President's job easier so that he can focus on the things most essential for him.

It looks like we will permanently be serving in the Mission Office.  The couple who were to work in the office arrived Friday and the President sent them up to the Hometown area and explained that his original intention was for them to work in the office, but they delayed their mission due to the marriage of a daughter so we were asked to step in and now we are trained and doing a good job, so they would receive a change of assignment.  They seem to be very nice people who are just fine doing whatever they are asked to do by the President.  We receive another Senior couple this coming Friday.  They are from Logan area and will be working at the county courthouse filming records in Cape May, NJ.

Just a short testimony from me:  I testify of the power of the book "Preach My Gospel".  It is a wonderfully complete guide to missionary work and by using it I can see that it is truly inspired of God.  We love our Mission!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Valley Forge
Aunt Chris is in New Jersey again (this time it is for the last time) and after our shift of collecting food at the local Trader Joes for the local shelters we headed for Valley Forge.  I did not realize that Valley Forge was so very close to us.  I should have, because we are in the Valley Forge Stake and the Valley Forge Mission Zone.  It was only about 13 miles from here.  We first went to the Visitor's Center and Chris insisted we pose for you.
Valley Forge is named so because it is on the Valley Creek and the forge af the Schuylkill River.  Washington chose this location because of its proximity to Philadelphia, the river, the many hills which would allow him to fend off any attempted attacks and the fertile farmland which he hoped would yield food for his soldiers.  That turned out to be a problem.  After much hunger a man named Greene was named quartermaster and he finally was able to procure the necessary food for the starving men.  Washington planned to winter his troops there and prepare for the coming spring and the battles that would ensue.
When the men arrived they constructed log cabins for their housing.  The officers had 2 men to a cabin and the enlisted men had 12.  The bunks looked to me like you would have to find your position and not roll at all because there just was no room.  The men revered Washington.  He was a very good general--concerned about his troops, tactical, kind.  Even though the circumstances were difficult the men were happy.
This arch was erected to honor all those encamped at Valley Forge and their sacrifice for freedom.  It reminds me of the Arch de Triumph in Paris.  I really liked it.  You will notice that there is a hint of the fall folage in the background.
When the camp originated there were 2000 of these little cabins built.  Another reason Washington chose this site was the abundance of timber for cabins.  At one time there were over 12,000 troops located at Valley Forge.  They did ok through December and January, but the next two months were harsh.
Yes!  We found another Covered bridge.  This one is quite unusual as it has open sides, is white and actually has been restored recently.
This was Washington's headquarters.  It was the home of the original owner of the land.  He was wealthy and actually lived elsewhere but used this home for the overseer of his large farm.  George Washington rented this place and Martha even came up from Mt. Vernon to spend time with him.  It was interesting to see the rooms inside and to think that the strategy of the war was formed there.
Volunteers reenact various parts of the story of Valley Forge.  This man told us all about the guard cabins.  Only 2 guards to a cabin.  Washington had 49 guards originally and when General Von Stueben, A Prussian who came to Washington's aid asked for another 100 guards Washington had very strict requirements for those guards.  He wanted clean handsome young men and nobody foreign born.  General Von Steuben worked these guards vigorously to form them into an actual fighting regimen and the rest of Washington's army was modeled after these guards.  The army spent 6 months total at Valley Forge.  The war itself lasted 8 years.  How thankful we are for these committed patriots.
This is a stained glass window in the George Washington Chapel.  It is an actual church, having services each Sunday.  Valley Forge is a National Park that extends about 2000 acres.  It is covered with walking trails and pets are welcome.  We saw lots of dogs.  Also, there were many bicycle riders enjoying the trails.  It is a beautiful park.

About our week:  We got a bit more missionary work.  We are picking up an investigator this morning for church.  I picked her up this week after she had been involved in a car accident.  Also, we went to visit a less active member.  We are going to be visiting him each week with the Sister missionaries.  So we are getting to do some REAL missionary work.  This week we will be having a planning meeting to prepare for the missionaries leaving and arriving next week.  We will also be getting some visa waiters headed to Brazil.