Sunday, July 13, 2014

Transfers, Susquehanna, Palmyra, Niagara
What a very busy and fun week for us.  We began on Monday with a send-off dinner for the 8 missionaries who were headed home.  We have a dinner at the mission home and a testimony meeting and slide show of each missionary.  That was very spiritual.  Tuesday we had 184 missionaries arrive at the office for transfers.  That was the largest transfer ever.  For Elder Jones and I it means lots of work to see that the luggage is where it needs to be, the phones and cars remain with the apartments, etc.  But we did it!  These two elders pictured below are Elder Millerberg on the left and Elder Brown on the right.  They have been such good service elders.  Elder Millerberg has been with us since before Christmas and has done a phenomenal job in organizing and carrying out anything that Elder Jones required of him.  We will miss him, but are glad that Elder Brown will be staying.  Later that day the mission president and AP's picked up the incoming missionaries (14 of them).  We had a dinner and interviews that night.  The power went out because of a very crazy wind storm and of course, rain.  Welcome, Golden Missionaries, to Pennsylvania!  It is so interesting to see the new ones arrive with eagerness and yet trepidation and to contrast that with the mature testimonies borne the evening before of those missionaries just completing their missions.  It is our pleasure, working in the office, to witness these changes taking place.  This transfer President opened up 2 areas to SISTER SPANISH SPEAKING missionaries.  That was a change.  We are thrilled to have Spanish speaking Sisters and hope to get more.
Elder Jones likes to promote Senior Missionary activities and he has been working on a trip north.  So on Friday 10 Senior Missionary couples headed north to go to some church history sites as well as Niagara.  Pictured below is the Susquehanna River, which is in our mission.  Elder and Sister Kirby are overseeing this restoration project.  They have been here since last summer, but the project had some obstacles to overcome in the way of regulations, etc.  It is now full steam and roads are being constructed, parking lots, walkways, etc.  The same feeling of reverence is present at the banks of this river as in the Sacred Grove.  We knew what had occurred here and felt like we were on hallowed ground.  
These are 5 of the 10 couples who went on this trip.  We love them all.  Elder Jones felt very pleased that so many took advantage of the opportunity to go, although we did have to travel in separate cars, so we could not all be together for every single activity.
Below is the Commemoration monument.  It will be covered this coming week to protect it from the trees that are being removed.  There will be a walkway down to the Susquehanna river that is handicapped accessible.  There is a graveyard also right next to the monument where Emma Hale's parents, and an infant baby of Emma and Joseph's are buried.  The site should be complete within 1 more year.
After Susquehanna we traveled to Palmyra.  Everyone wanted to visit the Sacred Grove, so we headed there first.  There were many more trails within the grove than the last time I was here with my mother (18 years ago).  But the grove was quiet and left room to contemplate what actually happened here.  As we walked through the grove my testimony was strengthened that what Joseph Smith said happened here DID happen here.  How grateful we are for the preservation of this site.
Meandering through the Sacred Grove
The temple in Palmyra is a small one, but is very lovely.  All of the windows are stained glass of the sacred grove.  It is a subtle yet lovely effect.
Angel Moroni Statue
We saw many youth groups--Youth Conference groups, Church History Groups--lots of buses!  And who else--Katie Barber from St. George.  Katie was in our College Ward at Dixie College.  She was here with her father to see the pageant.  She has a brother that lives in Rochester, NY for an internship in oral surgery so took advantage of this time to come and see the Pageant.  Elder Jones is not fond of musicals, but this pageant was marvelously done and even he was impressed.  It was a lovely night with a full moon, low humidity and about 68 degrees, so it was perfect!  Probably one of the most impressive things was that within 10 minutes the workers at the pageant had us out of the parking lot and onto the freeway 4 miles away!  We traveled the 30 or so miles to Rochester, NY and spent the night.
Elder and Sister Eyler are our newest Senior Couple Missionaries.  They are from Provo.  They have a special needs son (OCD) on a mission and decided to come and serve for 6 months while he is on his mission in Canada.  They are full of enthusiasm and serve in Palmerton, PA.  We enjoyed getting to know them.  This was taken from the Maid of the Mist Observation tower with the American Falls behind them.
I am definitely not good at photography, but with such grandeur even my attempt to capture it turned out good!  We were in awe of the magnificence of these falls!
So this is us with the Canadian (Horseshoe) Falls behind us.  This is just before the boat captain got close enough to the spray that we got soaked clear through.  We were so glad that we took the Maid of the Mist tour as it is the only way to see Horseshoe Falls without going across to Canada and we did not bring passports...
What a marvelous 2 days we had at these special places.  We are grateful to our mission president for allowing us this opportunity.  We are grateful to our Heavenly Father for the beautiful world he has created and we are also grateful for the chance to experience this together as couple missionaries.

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