Sunday, July 6, 2014

Philly on the 4th
 I will begin this blog on July 4, 2014.  The day was to be rainy and many of the celebrations had been cancelled.  The missionaries were given permission to stay out until 10 pm that night and had asked us to take them to see fireworks.  Because we could not find out a place that was close and would be done by 10 we decided to have a party at the mission office instead.  So here are photos of some of our beloved missionaries that we have served with the past 6 weeks--and some (Elder Jenkins in the glasses) for the past 7 + months.  We had pizza, salad, pop, and cookies and a cake for Sister Handy who celebrated her birthday July 5.  We played lots of fun games, including "What were you thinking?" and a new one for us "Left, Right, Center"  We did hear loud cracking noises outside so ran out and did get to see some fireworks.  The night had cleared up and was cool and with a breeze and no humidity so we enjoyed it immensely.  In Philly that night they did have a very large celebration in back of the Rocky Steps.  This is for sure a town that celebrates the 4th, and for good reason.  What fun to be here at this time!
 Middle below is Sister Handy.  She has been her 3 transfers and will be leaving Tuesday.  Elder Millerberg, with hands over his eyes is also leaving.  He has been here since before Christmas.  He is Elder Jones' best service elder ever, so we hate to see him go.  But our mantra for transfers is that it is a chance for more people to meet and more people to love.  Embrace the experience.  It is amazing just how stressed out many missionaries become at transfer time.
Today was a special day for Angel Reyes, pictured in the middle below.  He got baptized.  His mother and brother, Annabelle and Luis are also pictured with us.  They are a very sweet family.  Angel's dad was killed in March.  The gospel message was welcoming to them and they have embraced it with all their hearts.  Today Annabelle prayed in Relief Society and also at the baptism.  In our ward they always have refreshments of some sort, but today it was a full meal of tamales, mole, rice, fruit, fresh juice, sweets, carne asada and a special cake even.  Did I ever enjoy it.  So I am not making dinner tonight...

Now to backtrack--Monday we had a special Senior Missionary FHE and went on a tour of Philly with a professional tour guide.  He took us just to the Independence Square area and showed us what we had seen often, but he knew so many interesting facts that it made the experience seem new.  We have been in Philadelphia area 10 months now and Elder Jones has graduated to an official driver of the downtown area.  He really does well getting around there!  There were about 12 couples on the trip.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner together as well.  This Friday 10 of those couples will accompany us to Palmyra where we will see the pageant as well as Niagra Falls the next day.  We will also stop at Susquehanna and see the commemoration site that is under construction.  It is in our mission and we do sometime baptize in the river there.

This week was particularly busy as we have been preparing for transfers.  We have opened new apartments, closed others, collected luggage in preparation for moves, etc.  President took departing missionaries to the temple this week and was not here for his weekly conference call.  He asked Elder Jones to take his place. Elder Jones spoke of standards that measure real success on one's mission and encouraged positive thinking to the missionaries, as well as emulating Christ's example in all things.  He prepared well in the 2 days he had, then awoke early the day of and completely rewrote his thoughts.  He did a very good job.  I was proud of him.

As we commemorate our independence this year we are mindful of all of the miraculous events that took place right her in Philadelphia to ensure independence to these United States and prepare the way for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.  How happy we are to be members of that church.

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