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!

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