Sunday, October 26, 2014

Carol and Annabelle
We had a good week, as usual.  The Lord is really blessing us as we are on this mission.  We love serving in this capacity and we love these missionaries.  And aside from all of that, we are having other wonderful experiences that just make for a most enjoyable time.  The top two photos are of us with Carol Nielson Prater.  Carol, Rich, Kelli, Casey and Nick were our closest neighbors when we lived at the Youth Ranch.  They built a home close by and we interacted lots for several years.  Then we moved to Heyburn and Carol and Rich got a divorce, Carol remarried and moved to Twin Falls.  Anyway, Rich Nielson passed away from cancer just a couple of months ago.  Carol came to Philadelphia to see her daughter, Kelli.  They went to Kleinfeld's in NYC and Kelli "said YES to the dress".  The wedding is next September.  Carol was headed back to Twin Falls and needed a ride to the airport, so we picked her up (about an hour from here), took her to lunch, had a very long visit, compared family photos and talked, talked, talked.  Carol had a brain annurism 10 years ago and had to shave her head for the surgery.  When it was over, they told her not to use chemicals on her head, so she has this lovely grey hair that is quite soft.  It was really nice to see her.  She is happy in her life and her children are all doing well.
 We have had many missionary opportunities this week.  Corry taught via Skype last Sunday with the Elders and we taught a lesson with the sisters to a brand new investigator on Thursday.  His name is Ed Taylor and he came to church today and stayed for everything.  Then last night we got to Skype John Wojcek and teach his one of the "after baptism lessons".  Today John was confirmed a member of the church.  Both of his parents, although non-members, came to his baptism and his confirmation and are very supportive.  They seem to be very nice people.  Yesterday we took the Wilsons (Evan and Darlene) downtown to see the temple.  They had never been to see it in the 2 months that they have been here.  We went first to the visitor center and met with two of our favorite Sisters--Sister Bennett on the left and Sister Foote on the right.  Sister Foote served with us here in Broomall for about 4 months and we love her.  Sister Bennett is just stellar.  They were happy to see us and after a time said "how about we go to lunch?"  Elder Jones caught right on and said "so you want us to take you to lunch" and they admitted that yes, that was their plan.  So we walked a few blocks to a local restaurant called the "Kite and Key" in honor of Ben Franklin.  It was a noisy sports bar but the food was really good and the men enjoyed watching some ESPN while we ate.  We left the sisters after we ate and had just barely got to our car when they called and reported that they had a flat tire.  So they limped over to where we were and Elders Wilson and Jones TAUGHT THEM how to change a tire--the Sisters actually did the work.  It was actually a great teaching moment and they now know that they can do it!
 This is the latest picture we have of the temple.  It was taken on 10/25/14.  You can see the scaffolding on the left bottom.  They are placing the granite right now and have started at the bottom and are about 10 feet up the building on the left side.  It is very beautiful granite from Nova Scotia.  A grey with white and black flecks and some clear flecks which will shine in the sun.  It is a not polished on the outside, but rather natural.
 They are placing the windows, also.  Many of them were the wrong size and had to be re-ordered.  This oval one will be on the 3rd floor and has gorgeous leaded glass with a slight pattern.  It is tastefully beautiful.  It will blend with the colonial feel of the area.  How excited the people are in this area to have a temple this close.  We plan to return to Philadelphia when it is completed.  Brother Ball is in our ward.  He is over the building of the temple for the construction firm.  He also built the Brigham City temple and the renovated Ogden temple.  We are so lucky to have them in our ward.  He spoke today about the interesting experiences he has had as the construction manager.  He told us that Satan does not ever want a temple to be completed and the process of building the temple is not without its slowdown, problems, etc as a result.  But he knows that Heavenly Father is in charge and that the work of completing the temple cannot be stopped.
 So now to the Annabelle part.  I have featured Annabelle before.  She cooks wonderful Mexican food and we have eaten at her home twice and helped with her lessons to learn the gospel.  Her son, Angel, was baptized several months ago and she was baptized today.  The spirit was strong today.  She had many non-member friends attend, and the ward all stayed after to support her.  Then we had a wonderful Mexican meal.  Annabelle Sanchez we welcome you as our newest member of the Broomall Ward.
We look forward to a very busy week.  Tuesday we have Golden retraining.  That is where the "Goldens" or newest missionaries (they arrived the end of September) come back to the mission office for additional training and help to give them a jump-start to being a good missionary.  They return with their trainers and we feed them lunch.  This time we feed 50.  The next day I am having an auditor from SLC come to work with me most of the day.  Friday we have Leadership Training where all of the zone leaders and sister trainers come for training.  We feed 40 of them lunch that day.  Meanwhile, Elder Jones recently got 7 new cars and put them all into service by last Friday.  So now his job is to get them ready to sell.  I may not have ever mentioned this, but he carries a mission cell phone 24/7.  Saturday he had another really odd incident.  Some Elders had taken an elderly member to help them teach.  He sat in the front seat and when he got out and the other elder returned to the front seat they noticed that the man had had an accident while sitting there...Did I mention he was an OLD man...So Elder Jones explained that they would need to take it to someone who detailed cars to get it cleaned...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Valley Forge Leaves
 Yesterday was our P-day.  After taking care of the essentials like groceries and cleaning the house, we picked up the Wilson's and headed out.  We inspect an apartment near Valley Forge National Park and Sisters Guzman and Ballard could not get their furnace to turn on.  So I had the tank filled with oil and we set about to help them.  After about 30 minutes of working with the furnace we gave up.  Mind you, Elder Jones had spent hours looking up on the internet about how to turn on an oil furnace.  And when we got there both men checked out the instruction book.  But alas, we left the sisters with the instruction to use the portable electric heater until we could get everything working for them.  Today when we talked with them we even promised to get them more blankets.  Note to all parents of missionaries going to the east--send them with more than just their 1 light blanket off their bed in southern California...With that behind us we headed to the park.  Evan and Darlene had not ever been there.  They are a bit less adventurous on the Philadelphia freeway system, but actually teach an institute class quite close by.  The park was full of visitors as the weather was lovely.  The wind was blowing and the leaves were flying.  It made for a colorful, crunchy day.  The vibrant dark colors are not quite there yet, but it was nonetheless beautiful.  I absolutely love Valley Forge.  It feels kind of sacred there.  Below is a sampling of the leaves that I picked up.  I am pressing them.  Most of them are oak.  After that we headed for Zwalen's Ice Cream and had a small dessert and then came back home and had dinner after.  I think it may be my very first time ever having dessert first!It was a very nice day.
 Now backtracking, on Monday of this week we had a Senior FHE at the President's home.  We invited all of the housing inspectors as well and grilled burgers, chicken, and hot dogs.  Below, left to right are President Anderson, Elder Symes, Elders Jones and Wilson (backside).  As I looked out to take this photo, the small family of deer were in the back yard.  We enjoyed visiting with each other and then we traveled to the ward building and watched "Meet the Mormons"  It was our second time to enjoy that movie.  We highly recommend it.

We wound up the week with church today and a convert baptism after!  John Wocjek was baptized a member.  We have been helping teach him the lessons with the Sister Missionaries in our ward, so it was a pleasure to witness this day.  He is about 35 years old and had a Mormon girlfriend who inspired him to investigate the church.  Sadly, he and the girlfriend broke up about a month ago but his commitment to join remained strong.  Both of his parents came to witness his baptism today, along with about 60 ward members.  I have noticed that when there is a convert baptism in the mission field, the ward supports it very well.  People even brought finger foods to share after.  So another week is gone.  We had a ward member ask us today when our mission ended.  We feel that the time is simply moving way too fast and we want it to slow down.

Elder Jones has had a busy week this week.  We had a set of sisters in Cape May that discovered bedbugs. He researched the subject thoroughly on the interned and planned the attack.  As it happened, the place is very old and not well insulated nor closed off in the cupboards, etc., so the place is a natural for an infestation of this sort.  For a week Elder Jones had the service elders remove all of their furniture, then had it fumigated, then the carpets cleaned, and on Friday he had to accompany the service elders down to deliver new furniture.  (Because neither of them are van certified...)  Anyway, upon arriving he inspected the furniture that was obtained from our storage sheds and it was not in good condition.  So he went to Big Lots and bought a fouton and some dressers and tables.  Then they had to assemble all of this.  When he got home at about 7:30 Friday night he just ate and collapsed into bed.  With all of this, though, we LOVE this mission!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A+ New England Weekend!
What a week!  We began with Zone conferences on Tuesday.  We only attended ours, which was held at our building.  It is always fun to see all of the missionaries come together.  Lots of hugging and memories shared.  We were able to see the film, "Meet the Mormons".  The Missionary department had instructed that the missionaries see this film before its release on Friday so they would be prepared for questions, etc.  They will not be able to see it in a theater, so this was the purpose of the early Zone Conferences.  The film was well done and I recommend it to all who read this.  We finished out the week trying to keep up so we could be gone for the weekend--and we made it.  We began our Friday arriving at 30th Street Station--a very huge train station 2 hours early.  So we watched people...We boarded the train and in just 90 minutes we were in New York City Penn Station where Bob and Twila Harman, Cari Eames, and Jack and Shelley Harman boarded the train.  Bob and Twila did not know we would be on the train.  It was fun to see all of them and get to spend the next 7 hours visiting while we traveled up New York, then Connecticut, then Massachusetts, then a sliver of New Hampshire and into Vermont.  We got off at White River Junction and were met by Kent and Tami Harman who are serving a mission at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial.  We had all gathered to see what they were doing and visit.  We were joined by Brad and Diane Neibaur.  Did we EVER have a wonderful time together!  Kent and Tami were wonderful tour guides for the Birthplace and for their state.
 This is a country store which has a cafe inside.  We had a wonderful breakfast with real Vermont Maple syrup.  We enjoyed apple, pumpkin, and all sorts of different pancakes.
We were joined for breakfast by the directors (pictured in front) of the Visitor Center at the Birthplace.  Bob and Twila got to stay in their home in the Joseph Smith room.
 Kent and Tami (aka Elder and Sister Harman) are over the Facilities Maintenance part of the Birthplace.  They basically caretake the entire 40 acres.  They shovel the snow, plant, water and weed the flowers, put up and take down Christmas lights, maintain the cleanliness of the monument and memorial and lots of other things.  They work very hard physically and we were amazed at their work.  The summer flowers have been removed and they finished planting all of these mums just a couple of weeks ago.
These are the steps that they had to keep free of snow all last winter.  And the Mums, of course.  The monument itself stands 38.5 feet tall and is one solid piece.  Elder and Sister Harman had lots of interesting bits of church history to relate which made the tour even more spiritual.  After touring the actual visitor center and monument, we boarded some "gators" and went on dirt roads up a hill to see some other interesting sites.
This is the foundation of the Solomon Mack family--the parents of Joseph's mother.  It was a ways from the monument, but was along what used to be the main highway that followed the creek.  Further up the hill was another site which was found by some Boy Scouts and turned out to be what they think was the Daniel Smith home--Joseph's uncle.
 This picture is taken up on the hill overlooking the birthplace.  They call it the "Witness Tree" because it is a very old and large maple tree that dates back to the 1700's, so would have "witnessed" Joseph's birth.  There are only a couple of these trees left because they are so old and are falling over.  The other one is even larger and is called the "Patriarch" tree.  Elder and Sister Harman built a fence in front of this pictured tree and a plaque will be coming to tell about the tree.
 This was taken atop the hill above the birthplace.  It is about 1400 feet in elevation.  Wonderful fall colors everywhere we looked.  So much to ooh and aah about.
This was taken atop the hill overlooking the monument--which is in the distance.  After we had seen everything at the Monument and area surrounding it, we headed for Stowe, VT.  We went to a cute store that makes apple everything.  We got to eat hot apple cider donuts, drink cold pressed apple cider and buy apple anything!  Then we went to a nearby town and had dinner at the "Prohibition Pig" where we ate------PORK!  Really good, too.  Then back to Stowe for Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and then home.  We had the best day EVER!
 Today we got up and enjoyed visiting with Jack and Shelley Harman for a time and then they took us to board the train to come back home.  These are just a couple of photos taken out the window of the train.  I liked seeing all of the rivers, bridges (we did see 2 covered bridges as we traveled), and fall colors on rolling hills, as well as the wonderful barns and white steepled churches.

We were glad that we took the train.  It enabled us to relax as we traveled and Corry got to enjoy the scenery instead of concentrating on the driving.

 Just a sample of the lovely scenery.  But the BEST part was being with very good friends! Thank you Harmans and Neibaurs for making it a very special weekend.  As I traveled home I reflected on the very good influence of these wonderful people in our lives and realized that I always talk about the good friends that my children chose growing up who shaped them and helped them develop a testimony, but WE have those kind of friends too.  You lift us, inspire us, and help us know that our testimony is so very important!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Outgoing, Incoming and Conference

It has been a very busy week.  This photo is of the outgoing missionaries Monday night just before their dinner.  This is a really good group who went home and we will miss them very much.  We have served with them for a year and have come to know and love them.  After their dinner there was a video of their photos during their mission followed by their testimonies.   Lots of leadership in these elders and sisters...They departed at 5 am Tuesday morning.  Elder Jones had to rent a U-Haul and he took all of their luggage to the airport.  
 This is Sister Sera Malotutoatasi Osovale Fiso.  Because her plane did not leave until Tuesday at 4 pm she spent most of Tuesday with me.  She is absolutely one of my very favorite Sisters.  She is 24, has a degree, is from Samoa and has a cow!  She really did not want to leave the mission.  She was explaining to us that when she got her call she opened it and had absolutely no idea where Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was.  She explained that most of the missionaries she knows from Samoa go to the Phillipines to serve, so because the words "USA" were not anywhere on the call, they thought Philadelphia was part of the Phillipines.  When her mother found out she was going to America, she was so very relieved.  I will miss her!  She has a very sunny disposition and just laughs at almost any trial.  Such a good missionary.
This is Elder Jones with Elder Brant Reynolds from Arco, Idaho.  He is a rodeo guy.  He is a farmboy from Idaho and is a hard working missionary--one of Elder Jones' favorites.  We will miss him too. 
 Tuesday morning we had transfers.  162 total missionaries were either getting a new companion, or going to a new location to serve.  Pictured below is Elder Jensen and Elder Nieman.  Elder Jensen got to serve as a service missionary last transfer for just 2 weeks and really liked it.  He was disappointed he did not get to stay.  So he came up to me and asked that I put a good word in for him so he could be one of Elder Jones' Service Elders.  I explained that I had absolutely nothing to do with it--that was the President's call.  So he was very excited at transfers to get to be a service elder.  These two missionaries serve in our ward, so we have them to dinner regularly and Elder Jones gets to assist them in teaching on occassion.
 This is the 2nd set of service elders.  Elder Tolbert, left is new.  He goes home in 6 weeks.  Elder Bergman has served here 6 weeks so far.  Service elders generally give one day a week to do service for the mission.  This past week they had to take beds to apartments receiving a threesome.  This week they will be taking beds to 2 apartments who have bed bugs.  (Yes, that is a plague out here--the missionaries usually get them from teaching in very humble circumstances).  Anyway, they will take down new beds after a period of "bombing" the apartment with bug spray and then they will dispose of the old beds.  Whenever we set up a new apartment or vacate an old one these elders take care of it.  They also picked up and took back all of the luggage to the elders who live in walking areas who were affected by transfers, etc.  They work with Elder Jones as he determines the priorities of needed service and he sure appreciates their service.
 Tuesday afternoon we had to travel to the airport to pick up all of these new missionaries.  Elder Jones and I were in the U-Haul and took all of the luggage.  Please notice the Elder on the left holding the sign.  He is 19 1/2 but looks all of 14!  We enjoy dinner with them, and then Elder Jones has to interview each of them to see their ability to be a driver.  In this group one had too many tickets (21) so he will not ever drive and a couple asked not to drive.  I think it makes them nervous to drive in a city.  One sister was going to have to drive as her trainer is from the Phillipines and cannot drive.  Elder Jones interviewed each one and found a sister who had driven farm trucks and even a semi--so she ended up with the sister from the Phillipines.  Perfect Match!
 To wind up the weekend we took a trip yesterday to Dover Delaware to deliver a car that had been repaired to a set of Sisters and for Elder Jones to meet with a Sister who needed some help.  He was happy to go.  Then we drove the old car back to Broomall.  We then listened to Conference.  Today in between sessions we took the Ballards and the Wilsons to see our local covered bridge.  This is the Bartram Bridge and it is only about 4 miles from our apartment.  The leaves are starting to turn color here and we look forward to enjoy all the wonderous color of a Pennsylvania Fall.
We are looking forward this week to zone conferences.  They have been moved up 2 weeks because of a directive from SLC.  We will be seeing the movie "Meet the Mormons".  This in preparation of this movie coming out so that the missionaries will be able to answer questions, etc.  It will be great for us to see this movie!