Saturday, July 30, 2016

Visiting church history sites

After a tiring week at the office, we slept in a bit, had a leisurely breakfast in the highest traditions, haircut, and spent some time cleaning the house.  In the afternoon, we went to some church history sites.

We stopped at the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center, watched the film, and toured the exhibits.  Of course, that was all first class. Then we drove to the hilltop and saw the statue of Moroni close up.

We then drove to the Sacred Grove for a peaceful walk and meditation time.  No, the reflection off my head is not from a pillar of light above the brightness of the sun.  It is just the normal sun.

We were getting short on time, but did join a tour group at the Smith's frame house completed in 1827 and the log house they lived in prior to that.  I believe the log house is a replica, but the frame house is restored.

This is the threshing barn near the frame house.  It was originally on the John Young farm where we are living and was moved to the Smith farm since it was of that era.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Brother Brigham's Baptism Site

This evening, we joined some missionaries to walk back to the site where Brigham Young was baptized.  It is on the south east corner of this property, about 3/8s of a mile from our house.  There was a mill on the site and Brigham's family lived on the second floor.  He was baptized in the mill pond.  There are no remains of the buildings or dam.

After the visit to the site, we had supper at our neighbors and co-workers, Elder and Sister Spencer, and these missionaries.

Elders Rushton, LaBar, Hunt, and Verdine with us at the stream. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Palmyra Temple

After work on Thursday, we went to the Palmyra Temple with Elder and Sister Spencer.  It is the first temple I have been to that is in a natural setting without buildings in the vicinity.  It is in the vicinity of the Sacred Grove, so it is a very special setting.  We plan to attend weekly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Young Farmhouse- Home Sweet Home

One of the perks of our mission is being assigned the John Young farm as our residence for the duration of our mission.  It was built in 1826 by John with help from his son Brigham.  Brigham lived above his mill on the property and was baptized in the mill pond in 1832.  The mill is gone and with it the pond, but there is a marker by the stream where the event occurred.

There are two sections of the farm house across the street from each other.  In the early 1850s, the county road was built and theoriginal house had to be divided and and half moved to the north.  Additions and porches were subsequently built on.

This is the other section of the house across the road.  Another set of office missionaries the Spencers, live there.

The barn and garage on our side of the road. The barn dates from 1900.  The original barn was next to it.  In the late 1990's, after the property was acquired by the church, it was disassembled and moved to the Joseph Smith farm site where it was reassembled as sample of a barn of that era. 

Our house viewed from the road. 

The house from the garage. 

Cozy front room
Front room corner

Sister Jones' domain 
 The downstairs bedroom
 Office nook off the bedroom
 Laundry room off the bedroom
The upstairs bedroom with queen and 3 single beds.  There is a bathroom upstairs, also.

The houses were bought from the Hutchinson family by LDS brothers in 1979 and conveyed to the Church in 1984, The families who had owned the property continued to live there until their deaths, the last in 2002. 

So that is our humble abode where we retreat after a day of laboring in the mission field.  It is a very idyllic setting in an area rich in Mormon history.  We have a 20 minute drive to the mission office. 

July 15th- Back to the Cradle of the Restoration

Friday, July 15th was a walk and not be weary day.  We awoke at 5 am at Christie's and headed to the airport.  All went smoothly with the flights and we arrived in Rochester (NY) to be picked up by the Merrills.  We had supper with them at a local sub place and stopped to visit with the mission president at his home for about a half hour.  He emphasized the sacredness of the area and quoted Elder Oaks that after the sites in Jerusalem, these sites of the restoration are the most sacred places on earth.

Then we got our car and drove to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  It was much more spectacular than I anticipated and as expected was very well organized.  I wish we had seen it years ago.

Here are pictures of the cast mingling with the audience prior to the show.  There were over 600 in the cast and 200 in support.

After the pageant, we drove to a spare apartment in Batavia since the Merrill were not leaving until Monday.  We got in after midnight, so it was a long day.  Saturday, we rested and did some shopping. Toward evening time we drove about 40 miles north to a state park on Lake Ontario and did a short hike along the shore.  It was not as clear and clean as Lake Superior, but nice.

Sunday we attended church in Batavia which is the branch we are assigned to attend.  We got acquainted.  It seemed a lot like Logansport.  We were invited to lunch with the Haggerties.  He is blind and a school acquaintance of our Marquette friend, Bob Dickey.  He is the ward organist.

We drove to the Mission Office Monday morning for Day 1 on the job.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Missionary Training Center - Week II

The second week was specialized training for the role we would be filling in our mission.  The training was pretty technical and covered finance, vehicles (the Church owns a fleet of 20,000 cars), housing, Word, Excel, newsletters, and records for baptisms and referrals.

There were 11 companionships who will be in Mission Offices.  They will be serving in South Africa; the Congo; Ghana; London South; New York City North; Washington D.C. South: Vancouver, Washington; Portland, OR; Bakersfield and San Jose, CA in addition to our assignment to Rochester, NY.  (The Truitts have promised to look after Elder Jones in San Jose.)  Several couples has served previous missions including to the Philippines and Poland.  The Hansons were from Evansville and may have overlapped there with Bump and Teresa.

Here we are, behind our monitors, eager to enter in the service of the Lord. 

 These are our instructors; Brother Hewlett, Brother Barham, Sister Clard, and Brother Carney.  All are valiant returned missionaries and BYU students.  They were informative and inspiring.

A highlight of the week was the Tuesday evening devotional by Emeritus Seventy and past Church Historian Marlin Jensen.  He spoke about staying motivated as a missionary and overcoming discouragement.   During his talk, he invited a young missionary to join him.  She told of her conversion of which the initial steps were taken entirely on the internet researching and talking to missionaries on Mormon. org.   Her first physical contact with members was going to church and telling the missionaries there that she was ready to be baptised.

There were two sets of guest instructors.  The Bolligers were returned Senior Missionaries who shared ideas on how to support the young missionaries and how to find missionary opportunities while working in the office.   Brothers Sechler and Foutin work in Global Fleet Management helping manage the church's 20,000 vehicles.  They had lots of insights on being good stewards of the church's significant investment in vehicles.

Wednesdays see new missionaries arriving.  This week, there were 800.  The spirituality and attitude of the young people is awesome.  In our homes, we feel the spirit when the missionaries visit us.  Imagine being with 2,800 of them.

These two weeks have been a mountaintop experience,  the best time in our lives.

Alma 26:37 "Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."

Family and Friends

When we applied for our mission, we did not anticipate that we would have the weekends and some evenings off for personal time.  So we had the bonus of being able to visit with family and friends.

Christie was our host for the weekends and our driver.  Thanks for taking time from her busy schedule to support our mission. 

Lauren's Kashden took right to his great grandparents.  He is a very happy, healthy, intelligent little guy. 

Had some good time with the boys.  Preston will be getting his driver's license later this month and was our chauffeur several times.  Landon puts in a lot of hours at Little Ceasars and is scheduled to go to training at Fort Sill in August.   Paxton likes to play most any game and talks.

We had a chance encounter with Chris Clark in the MTC Dining Hall where she came by to visit her brother and sister in law who were members of our class.  We got to visit with her, Jim, Ammon, Kaitlin and her husband and baby.  It was good to revisit the Logansport days and catch up on the Clarks and their 11 children.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture. 

Friday evening, we were able to meet with grand daughter Rachel and Harry's grand kids, Hal and Courtney for a Mexican dinner.  All are doing BYU and doing well. 

Wednesday, we were able to have dinner with Yvonne and David Peterson and his mom Doreen.  We enjoyed their beautiful house and spectacular view while catching up on family news and our early days in Marquette. 

At the MTC, you are constantly meeting folks who are close to people you know well.  This is President and Sister Shumard from Fort Wayne who are good friend of Harry and Linda.  He will be the Mission President in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Here are the Burkes.  We saw the Michigan tee shirt and struck up a conversation.  They are from Howell, MI and close friends of the Nyfelers' whose son Jacob will be marrying Rachel in August.  Another couple, the Stevensons, were in our class and are the grandparents of Emily Blotter's fiance. 

One memorable conversation in the dining hall was with an older senior couple. I asked where they were from and the old Elder said, "Kolob,"  At first, I thought that was an obscure town in Utah, but it turns our he was just teasing us.  His wife told us that they applied to serve a mission because it was the only way to get out of being den leaders in their ward.

The Missionary Training Center is an unparalleled experience.  The spiritual energy of the young missionaries is astounding.  There is still hope in the world. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Missionary Training Center- Week 1

Sister Jones called the MTC being in heaven surrounded by angels.  I only felt it is the best place on earth.  The Holy Spirit is ever present and the Lord walks among us.  It is the finest gathering of people you will ever be associated with.  All are united in a desire to serve the Lord.

There are 130 in our group this week.  We were divided into 5 sub-groups for pictures. Sister Jones is in the red top and I am behind her.  Couples in the group will be going all over the world to places like Japan, New Zealand, the Congo, South Africa, England, several South American countries as well as throughout the United States. 

We are divided into districts for small group instruction.  Brother Swallow on the left was one of our trainers.  Elder and Sister Thurman were from Blackfoot, ID and going to the Fort Worth, TX Mission to be leader/member support for a branch composed of members from the Marshall Islands.  The Jordans are from Chandler, AZ and will be serving a mission in Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City in family history or administration.  The Tonas are from Hawaii and will be in Tokyo in the Asia North Area office. 

Sister Clark was our other trainer.

Here is the district in Room 225 of Building 4M where we had our small group classes.

Wednesday evening, the District went to the Provo City Center Temple.  It was a beautiful experience in a beautiful temple.  The session was packed with people.  It was unusual to us to see so many young people in the temple including officiators.   It was a late night as the shuttle got us back to the MTC at 10:30.  

On the grounds is this statue of Samuel Smith, the prophet's brother, who was the first missionary who started in what is now the New York Rochester Mission. 

Our instruction this week centered on the missionary guidebook, Preach My Gospel.  We did a lot of role playing in missionary settings.  For some, people from the community are brought in to take on the role of an investigator.  

We saw a video by Elder Bednar entitled "The Character of Christ," which was of a talk he gave at the MTC a couple of years ago and is only shown at the MTC.  We hope to see it again this coming week.  

On Tuesday evening, there was a devotional by an Emeritus Member of the Seventy, Elder Marlin Jensen.  In the early 1990's, he served as Mission President in the NY Rochester Mission.  His talk was on degrees of faith.  

The facility and food were first class and everything was very efficiently organized.   Being around the young missionaries was invigorating.  They treat the senior missionaries with respect, always opening doors and greeting us.

The week was the best week of our lives.  We are eager to get our training completed and return to New York.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Finally, At the Provo Missionary Training Center

After a pleasant weekend with Christie and her kids, she drove us to the MTC.  Travel and check in went smoothly.  Meeting the other Senior Missionaries was a delight.  We heard welcoming remarks from the MTC Presidency and an orientation, then a class on "What is my purpose as a Missionary."  After supper, there was an awesome video of a talk by Elder Bednar on "The Character of Christ."

            Official Missionaries complete with name tags.

A Missionary Tradition- Pointing to your Mission District on the World Map.