Saturday, December 13, 2014

DECEMBER 7-13, 2014

" 1st we'll make snow angels for 2 hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of TollHouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."
Buddy the Elf

Sounds good to me! 
If only we had snow.  
I'm am so very hopeful that as this is one of the few times I'll ever be in a place where there is a REALLY good chance to have a white Christmas that we will indeed have one.  So far just some light flurries and dustings that melt before you can get out and take a picture in it.

I am quite surprised that it can rain and be 30 degrees and below and the rain doesn't become snow. It has rained here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in temps that should bring snow. I'm confused. And disappointed. Let it snow!  Let it snow! Let it snow!  :)

We had a low key Pday again.  Had a trip scheduled to Providence, Rhode Island but due to  the Moores' car troubles we had to postpone that.  We just did things close by. Lunch at Sweet Peach Diner, buying supplies for our ward/zone parties, ordering Christmas cards online, etc. It's just so nice to have them so close to do everyday-ordinary-hanging out things with.

Monday night we had our monthly dinner and Family Home Evening with our group of temple workers and temple presidency.  It was in the Bowen's( our temple President and Matron) home in Belmont and was decorated so lovely- very warm and inviting. They decorated with the very New England tradition of candles in the windows!  I LOVE this tradition and look!  It is so welcoming.
There is a glowing candle in every window in the house.  I will try and take or find a picture of this for my next post.

This was Mike and Susan's last one of these get togethers so they were asked to sing a duet and bear their testimonies. They did a beautiful job with both. They will really be missed in every aspect of their mission - not just by us!  Their ward has used them to the max in all kinds of capacities.  At their ward Christmas party last night, their bishop presented them with a book signed by ward members to thank them for all their help and good works. 
It was also another couple's last dinner with us.  Kent and Joan Pulsipher went home this week.  They were the first people we met here on our mission and took us to our very first temple dinner/FHE on our 2nd day here.  They are so kind and genuine.  We will miss them. 
This is their 13th (!!!) mission so I do believe they deserve a little rest!

Wednesday was our every 6 weeks Mission temple day and luncheon for the senior missionaries.  It's a marvelous experience to attend the temple together along with our mission president and his wife.  We then all go over to the mission home for a magnificent lunch.  They provide ham and baked potatoes and mouth-watering rolls and the sides and desserts are pot luck.  Man, this group can cook!  It's like Thanks giving on steroids!  Sadly there is never room to try everything. 

We serve with such an amazing group of people and we all serve in so many different capacities from archives and records, to employment, to over seeing the Hartford Temple building, to working with Young Single Adults, to helping wards in a member leader support capacity, to mission nurse,to area medical advisor,to digital missionaries,to office couples, etc. Everyone has great stories to tell. We are all happy and growing in our love for our Savior and our fellow man. 
Our incredible mission president and his equally incredible wife, the Packards,are at the far end of the table .  We love them!  They always take a few moments to share some words of wisdom with us and build us up.  A delightful day in every way.

Thursday was our  regular temple day. It was our last to share with Mike and Susan. It has been on of the highest of highlights to serve side by side with them in this peaceful and beautiful House of the Lord.  We will treasure those moments always.

Friday means District or Zone meeting.  This time it was Zone meeting. Our darling sister missionaries decorated the room so that it was very festive, happy and warm and welcoming. Future Enrichment leaders in the making!

They did a great job, right? That is all hand-made: the lettering, the fireplace, etc.  So clever and so talented!   I love these girls with all my heart! We have been so blessed by the extraordinary young women and men we have served with in our zone. 

The elders all had on santa hats with blinking lights but they would only stand still (!) for one group photo and as we were in it we don't have that copy yet.  Some of the elders have cameras with timers and they took them with that. As soon as they send it to us , we'll include it. ( what would we do without the Dollar Store where we get all these fun hats and antlers, etc.?)

Speaking of the Dollar Store- I got plain white mugs there and hand lettered them with this cute Pinterest inspired message , filled them with chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and tied them up with twine and cute straws and cinnamon sticks.  It was a gift from us to each of them.
('cause it IS cold outside !)  

 Waffle time again but in honor of Christmas, we made green ones and  showed them how to make decorated  Christmas trees with them!

We will be gone next week so we had this simple lunch this week and the day after Christmas we hopefully will have our nicer luncheon. 

After lunch, Dale and some of the elders "hooped it up'!

And just to let you know- old Elder Braithwaite's still got it!
They played Horse and Speed and he won both games!
Don't know about you, but I'm impressed !  :)

Saturday was ward party prep (marketing, cooking, shopping)  for me and Dale doing his area medical work.  This morning he drove to Roxbury to pick up one of our elders and took him to Belmont where he was meeting others to carpool to a musical fireside. (2 1/2 hours, round trip). Since then he's had his "nose to the grindstone" (the phone and computer).  It's not a grindstone at all- he truly loves what he does here. 

As many of you don't know exactly what he does I'll describe it .
He is the Area Medical Advisor for a portion of the Northeast Area of the Church.  Geographically this entails 9 missions or geographical areas.  These 9 missions are:

Canada Toronto
Canada Montreal
Canada Halifax
New York Rochester
New York Utica
New York New York North
New York New York South
New Hampshire Manchester
Massachusetts Boston

So this is essentially the 5 Eastern provinces of Canada, all of New England and all of New York state.  This includes some of the most beautiful areas in North  America and such dynamic cities as Toronto, Montreal, Boston and New York City.

Within this area are about 2500 young and more senior missionaries who are serving  for 18 months to 2 years.  These missionaries come from nearly every country in the world and as such are from vastly  different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  Not surprisingly with this many individuals, they will occasionally have medical problems that require some assistance, some minor and some major.  That is where Dale comes in.  If these missionaries have a medical problem arise, they will call the Mission President's wife or the mission nurse.  If they can handle the problem it goes not further. But if its is something that can be handled by a physician over the phone ( i.e. perhaps requiring a prescription) or there is a need to get medical care from a physician, urgent care, or emergency room, the missionary or mission nurse (if there is one) or president's wife will call Elder Braithwaite for assistance.  For that reason, the majority of what he does involves being available over the phone.

Here he is hard at work in his "cubby hole" office in our apartment.

One of his other responsibilities is to identify medical facilities and establish relationships with them in order for the missionaries to get reliable care and to ensure they will accept the missionary's insurance plan.  This is especially important in Canada where there is a government health care system.

Lastly, we will travel on occasion to the different missions and attend as part of their zone conferences which are held 4 times per year.  It is here that we give classes on various health topics to keep the missionaries healthy.  Dale offers a clinic where the missionaries have the opportunity to have one on one time with him and if any have health issues they wish to discuss face to face.  These zone conferences are one of our favorite things we do.

This mission has been a blessing for us as we give this service to others and try to represent the Savior. We are very happy and very busy.  We know that this is His work and are touched by all the wonderful , selfless people with whom we work. 

"Rejoice! ,Rejoice in the Most High,
While Israel spreads abroad 
Like stars that glitter in the sky, 
And ever worship God
And ever, and ever worship God."

 We are rejoicing!

Share the Gift!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 1-6, 2014

And It's beginning to look a little like Christmas in our little missionary apartment!

The time is just flying!  We are kept busy!  We love that! Even on our "slower" weeks there is still always too much to do than there is time for. 
The first part of the week was busy with prep work for the coming week and activities; on line, on the phone, buying supplies at stores, etc. 

On Wednesday evening , our mission had another transfer meeting in which the missionaries going home bear their final testimony on their mission. They invite any members or investigators they have been close to to come. The chapel was filled as was the cultural hall , nearly to overflowing. We had over 40 going home.  It is a bittersweet time. I am having a hard time with transfers, never mind seeing them return home.  We get very close to these wonderful souls we work with here and we miss them when they leave.
Susan and Mike performed a beautiful song, "I Come to Him".  They did a wonderful job and got rave reviews. Very sadly, they are among those going home.  Many inspiring testimonies were borne and once again I must state how extremely impressed I am with the caliber of these young people and the maturity and depth of their testimonies and the intelligent and articulate way in which they express them.

One of the testimonies that I particularly liked wasn't the most eloquent but very real and relatable.  She said she was very nervous about serving a mission because she would have to do a lot of things she hated; talking to strangers, organizing, planning, etc., but she said she had the best mission, she loved it and couldn't be happier because even though those things were very hard for her, she did them. She did things she didn't love because she loved Christ. It's not always easy or what we would choose but if we do it anyway with a love for our Savior, we will be happy and we will be blessed.

Thursday brought all those returning home missionaries to the temple for one last time before going home as well.  A very special time for each of them and a very special time for us senior missionaries who work with them to be in the temple with them this day. We treasure these days.

Friday was our District Meeting and Zone Lunch.
Our district got switched around a bit this time.  We lost several of our long time elders and sisters  :(   and got new ones I know we will come to love :)
Our district now includes the 2 senior Sister missionaries serving in the archives in Boston and the "Haitianaries"- an affectionate term for the Haitian speaking missionaries here.
It feels like a good mix and a good feeling was there. I 'll try and remember to take a photo next meeting.

I made up a bunch of these for our district missionaries to pass out this week. 
(gotta love Pinterest!)

For our zone lunch we made Chuck's Chili.  It is a recipe my dad invented when he was living alone in Massachusetts were he went for a new job  while my mom and we kids stayed behind in Alabama to sell the house.  I have the recipe framed and it holds a place of honor in my kitchen back home.  It is special not only because it tastes yummy but because when I asked my dad for the recipe he mailed me 4 pages of hand written instructions, describing every step in detail-right down to the shape the onions should be!
And there weren't any measurements for spices. This is the best part!  Instead he drew pictures , similar to these:

You have to love that, right? I sure do!

The missionaries loved his chili . When I told my sister Kathy that she replied, "Who doesn't?"!

We switched up our Pday again this week.  We found a Christmas Home Tour on Saturday and thought that would be wonderful to attend. It was indeed!  I so adore these fabulous old homes here- they are just that - homey.  Every time we are driving around I admire them and wonder what they must look like inside. I got my chance to find out!  Even more homey and wonderful.  It was a very cold and very rainy day ( Again. Seeing a  scary pattern here?)
but we are fast becoming hail and hearty New Englanders and don't let that stop us!
Due to the rain and people stopping me from taking photos inside , there aren't many. But you can get an idea.

 This is where we picked up our  programs and maps.
There were 7 homes to tour, all in Concord.  Lunch and an afternoon snack of hot cider and cookies were included. 

 Each home was decorated for the holidays by a different designer and some of them when all out! 
 Many of the homes were on average and several had their own pond or river flowing by.

This house came complete with this swing and tree fort:

 Pretty fancy, even for Nancy!

We loved this creative display- a cookbook and produce tree!
  Also in love with this Hot Chocolate bar!

This photo doesn't show it well at all, but this was our very favorite room. It was perfect in design and decor and ... that view! 

 Adore those little vignettes.

 My dream table. We figured it could seat at least 16.

Two charming yellow happy homes across the street from each other.

The December landscape .  We were so hoping for snow instead of rain. 

After the tour, Susan and I shopped a bit in the darling town of Concord and then the boys joined us for dinner here at the Colonial Inn.  Dale and I had raved about it so the Moores wanted to try it.  We all had the famous  mouthwatering chicken pot pie , except Dale who opted for a fish dish. It was cozy and festive and warm and dry. Perfect!   During the tour, the boys enjoyed a day to just kick back a home- reading, napping, watching movies on T.V., etc. 

This was displayed in the Inn.  I had to include it for my kids and grands!

Sunday was an adventure as the fire alarm went off during the beginning of the third hour and everyone had to leave.  The bishop just sent us all home.  It was too cold to wait outside.  We took a car-ful of people home to Dorchester then made a visit to one of our favorites, Adolfina, before heading home ourselves. We lighted the tree, our little candle, heated up some of dad's leftover chili and snuggled in for the Christmas Devotional. 
As always it was uplifting and inspiring. 

We are very excited about "He is the Gift" and the opportunity to share it. 
Please click on the following link if you want to see the short 2 minute video:

This time of year is the most wonderful!

We have just enjoyed Thanksgiving with its reminders to ponder on our blessings and all for which we are grateful and now we are moving right into the season of joy and rejoicing in the marvelous hope and light the knowledge of the birth, life, atonement, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus the Christ brings. 

We end with these lines from the Christmas Hymn "Far, Far Away on Judea's Plain":

"Lord, with the angels we too would rejoice;
Help us to sing with the heart and voice:
Glory to God in the highest 
and Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

November 23-November 30, 2014


This week was filled with things to be grateful for and events we will not soon forget.
It  culminated, in a glorious way, a month we will always remember and for which we will be forever grateful.

Appropriately for a mission, it began and ended with baptisms.  On Sunday, the 23rd, this fine young man and an older woman (of whom I did not get a photo) were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  They belong to the Spanish branch and although we did not understand many of the words spoken, the spirit was strong and the room was filled with love.

Joshua Burgos (with his sister)
Not pictured Dora Sterling

On Monday, for our Pday, we had the great blessing of touring Plymouth, Massachusetts with a group of our senior missionaries.  It was a great blessing because not only were we touring on Thanksgiving week in the very spot where the first Thanksgiving was held  , but we had an incredible gifted, passionate, and very knowledgeable guide who made the experience a singular one. We came away with a much deeper appreciation for the sacrifices these forefathers made and also for their great courage, faith and strong family values upon which this great country was founded.

Our wonderful guide, Leo!  What made the whole day even more special to me was the fact that he reminded me of my dad.  You can't tell from this photo but it was his blue eyes, his passion, his mannerisms (the way he gestured) and his accent. My dad always kept a slight Bronx/Queens accent and athough Leo had a New England accent but somehow it still was reminiscent of my dad :)

The oldest, longest running mill in the country. 

The Pilgrims lived on one side of the stream and the native Americans on the other.
This is a spring fed water source so it was always available and aways fresh. 

William Bradford.
I never paid too much attention to the details of this great man's life before- knew he was the first Governor of the state but that was about it.  Through Leo's facts and a play we watched later that evening, we learned about his remarkable history from the time he was a boy.  He always had an unwavering faith and trust in God and governed with wisdom, justice, mercy and fairness.  He was kind , grateful, and firmly believed that if our country was going to succeed , it needed to be founded on faith in God, families, morality, law, education and liberty.  We owe much to him and his leadership.

 The Memorial built to protect Plymouth Rock. 

The Mayflower

Chief Massasoit

He was also a great man and a great friend to the Pilgrims. I have always liked him.  There is a copy of this statue at Brigham Young University.  One of my  best friends and roommate, Bev DeCapot, a Massachusetts native, made sure it was one of the first things we saw when we arrived there!

 Did I ever mention how much I LOVE old doors and windows?

                                       Did I ever mention how much I love old stone buildings?

Did I ever mention how I never tire of seeing these steeples everywhere here?

Did I mention that even though it was a rainy, blustery day we loved it? We felt it added atmosphere to the whole outing.
(This says Burial Hill, by the way)

Did I ever mention how much I love that there are old graveyards everywhere here? Everywhere! In random places. Without any fanfare, fence name or sign half the time.  You are driving along and -whoa!-there's another one! Love them!  This isn't one of the random ones, however.  This is marked and noted and famous.

National Monument to the Forefathers

It's so hard resisting telling you all we learned but I know you are not reading this blog for a history lesson.
That said, I just have to tell you little about this statue.  We would have missed if it not on this tour with Leo. Most people don't know it exists! It's off the beaten track. 
"It's meaning spreads out from top to bottom,from the heaven sent Faith, which was  believed to have fueled the Pilgrim's journey, to the social principles and civil institutions that were seen to have been established under her guidance. The central figure Faith is surrounded by four ancillary figures which are meant to represent the principles upon which the Pilgrim Fathers proposed to found their commonwealth; Morality, Education, Law, and Liberty. There are smaller figures on the sides of each of these to amplify the message of the primary ones." (from the brochure)

 Due to some bad photography, Morality is missing.

Notice there are several Moores on the list!  They are going to look into it.

After our 3 hour tour with Leo, we all enjoyed a nice dinner together in a warm and cozy restaurant in the heart of town. Then we attended a play depicting the history of the Pilgrims from their discontent in England , to their frustrations in Holland , to their fateful journey here and that first hard cold winter .
We are more grateful than ever for them- for their faith and perseverance.  We are grateful for God's hand in forming this great country. We are grateful for the Indians who helped them survive and befriended them. We are grateful for the core principles upon which our government was founded and pray we may always as a country and a people hold fast to them. 
We are grateful for this remarkable experience to remember the First Thanksgiving in this way, in this place.


New York City !  

Adam and Heather and kiddos were going to Heather's father's in New Jersey for Thanksgiving. Since NYC is part of our mission area and since we are this close to them ( a whole lot closer than California!), we suggested we meet them in NYC for a day.  They happily agreed.  We drove down on Tuesday, stayed in a hotel for 2 nights, and they took the hour long train ride in on Wednesday.  It poured rain the entire day but we all agreed we were so glad we did it and spent the day together. 

 I keep being blessed with these rooms with amazing views! The Empire State Building, no less! Right outside our window! The amazing thing is I search for the bargains and end up with this!

 View from the 30th floor down.

And just another reminder that we do work on our mission :)
As soon as we got to the room Dale spent an hour or two answering medical emails and phone calls.
After he finished , we went out exploring our immediate area. This is what we found:

 Rehearsals were going on for the parade the next day right here in a staging area in front of Macy's.

 And just around the corner were Macy's Christmas windows! 
See below.

 Don't know what happened to these photos- they were glittering and sparkling on my computer but now they look dull. This was inside Macy's and it was gorgeous! 

Speaking of computers, mine is dying a slow, ugly death at the moment and I am very frustrated. I loved it.  It is a 24 inch I Mac.  I adore the huge screen and looking straight ahead instead of down when working on projects.  But it is not very convenient for travel.  I need a new one but am having a very hard time deciding whether to get another like I have, or a lap top.  I am using Dale's lap top now to see if I like it ( and mostly because mine would not cooperate at all today)

 The Chrysler Building

 Times Square!

 Just waiting for 11:59 P.M., December 31!

 Of course, we had to check this place out!

So classic.

This cute family:
the reason we came!!!

This pic is out of order but it's the only one with almost all of us. Rain and dark museums do not offer the best photo-ops for families, we discovered. 
We stopped here for some very delicious hot chocolate and even more delicious cookies to warm our souls after getting drenched.

Where we lunched. A friend had recommended it to Adam.  Great recommendation.  I really should have taken more photos in here- this place is amazing! And it is  huge! 6 restaurants inside next to delis and markets selling everything Italian. Fabulous!

The Museum of Natural History

 Where every family in New York headed on this rainy day.

 Under the blue whale. 

 Perfecting their very best scary dinosaur roars!

This visit to the museum with Adam and his 3 year old son, Liam, was quite the sentimental journey for Dale and I. We brought Adam here when he was 2 and he amazed everyone within ear shot with his knowledge of the dinosaurs- he knew all of them by name and was happy to tell anyone around. Now here we were, full circle with his son- brilliant as well! It was a "Circle of Life" moment.  The girls are no slouches either- they were quite impressive with their wealth of knowledge and information. We tried to stump them but to no avail :)

 After the museum, we walked to our hot chocolate shop and passed by the balloons being inflated for the parade the next day.  That's Heather in the brown hat in the center (without an umbrella)

 Mimi and some of her  cuties in front of Macy's windows.

 One of first taxi cab rides!

On the train (photo courtesy of Heather )

After the hot chocolate, we all hailed cabs back to Penn Station where they caught the 5:35 back to Jersey.  We could walk to our hotel from there and since we did a lot of sight-seeing the night before, and since it was still raining, we went back to our hotel and spent the evening there- cozy, warm and dry :)

Keira said it for all of us-'  I've never been so cold. And though it's cold and wet and miserable, I'm still glad we did it!'
We agree!  We loved spending the day with part of our family, especially so far from home. 
                        Thanks Adam, Heather, Keira, Avery, Callie and Liam!  We love you!

More views from our room.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

 It was just a few blocks away from our hotel!

 The photo above and below show the crowds and all the places they find to view the parade.

 Sorry kids!  I freaked out myself when this came peeking around the corner!


The last two were taken as we were walking away.  Love the skyscraper in the background.

 They start deflating the balloons immediately as soon as they finish the route.

I apologize to all of you who have this parade on your bucket list and think us  extremely ungrateful, but we left early.  Dale is not a fan of parades (to say the least) and we wanted to beat the traffic so we took off before it was over. 

The bonus to that strategy is it got us back to Boston in time to share Thanksgiving with Susan and Mike! They had  eaten their dinner earlier with 2 sets of missionaries but saved us plenty of leftovers.  So grateful to have a homemade yummy meal and enjoy this Thanksgiving with even 'moore' family. What a great and fun blessing it has been to share this mission with them.  We have treasured every moment together and living so close to each other after living so far apart for all of our married lives. We are grateful for them.
We love you family, immediate and extended, and have always considered you one of our greatest blessings.

Mike and Dale mugging it up in their twin missionary gear.

 The winter wonderland on the drive home.

The winter wonderland we found in our backyard when we got home!

We went back to the Moores on Saturday night for another delicious dinner-.  We were invited for 3 reasons: she made Yucatano Delicisioso, it was Sister Roy's farewell dinner, and...they like us!


More baptisms!

 La Familia Monterroso

And more baptisms!

 From our Portuguese Branch:
Julio Resendes, Ely DePina, and P.J.Andrade (not pictured Camila Cardusa)

This was a landmark month in the Massachusetts Boston Mission.
Our mission president felt impressed that there were many more people out there waiting to learn about and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ than were hearing it.  After thoughtful consideration and  prayer  he challenged the missionaries to find them and promised we would through complete consecration, more dedication, more fasting and prayer, and greater effort in seeking.  We wanted to make this a November to Remember. 
This mission , under President Packard, has never been about numbers.  But to put things in perspective, the mission average was 20-30 baptisms a month.  The most ever was 59.  He felt we could do better so he set the goal for 70 in the month of November. What a wonderful thing this was to witness ! Every missionary was committed and dedicated and worked so hard to make this happen. 
They packed every day to the brim meeting, teaching, serving, working with people- sharing the restored gospel with them.
On Sunday night , November 30th, our president sent out the word that we had baptized 100 people!
And please make note, it's not about statitics- it's about people. 100 real people, 100 souls were brought into the waters of baptism and have taken this important step on their journey back to our Father in Heaven.
There are so many seeking the truth.  So many seeking knowledge. I like this thought I just heard at a meeting last night: "Missionary work is evidence that God loves His children."
Miracles were happening every day. It seems people were just dropped from the sky in front of the missionaries.

What a joy and great blessing it was to be a part of this. 
We are grateful to have been witness to seeing the joy and light in so many eyes and lives and to welcome them with open arms into the church. 
We are grateful to be here serving this mission at this time, in this place under this leadership. 
We are grateful for our testimonies. 
We know Christ lives. We love Him. We are grateful to serve Him in this small way.
We are grateful of our knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His plan for us. That we have a Savior. That we can repent through His Atonement.  That They love us . That we can return and live with them and our families forever. 
With the joy and peace this knowledge brings, we do indeed go our way rejoicing!