Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 25-31,2014

Last week I bombarded you with a photo overload- this week will be almost a dearth in comparison.  It was a full week but I  just didn't take a lot of photos.

What a beautiful day today has been!
First of all , it is Dale's 65th birthday so a big 'shout out' to him! :D!

We celebrated it the best possible way any missionary could - with a baptism!
Our Jean (from a previous post) was baptized today into The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

left to right: Sisters Neilson and Batschi, moi, Jean, Elder B, Elders Dahl and Shepard

 His full name is Jean Felissaint so you see, he didn't have far to go- he was already a saint.
He is the kindest ,nicest , soft spoken young man.  Everyone who meets him, loves him.  I find it interesting that everyone of us who have taught him (see the group photo, plus the Wades) describe him the same a child.  Not in a bad way at all, but in the scriptural sense.  "And whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4)
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10:15)
 He is meek and humble and teachable.  He comes to each lesson with many thoughtful, intelligent questions but once explained and answered, his response is always the same- 'Oh, I see. That makes sense. I understand.' His eyes light up and you can sense the peace within him.  He was searching for the truth, for his purpose in this life, searching to know about why he is here and where he came from and where he is going. He has been a joy to teach and to come to love and know.

We sadly had to bid farewell to another senior couple we have come to love- the Wades.  They have been here fulfilling an archival records mission and are in our ward and in our zone so we see them every Sunday and work with them with the missionaries on Fridays.  They have served so faithfully in a demanding assignment and we will miss them and their cheery dispositions.  They are going back to their Dairy Farm near Ogden, Utah.

The Wades

I will be cooking Dale a lamb chop dinner to honor him tonight.
We are home this afternoon getting ready for our 2 week journey to the Buffalo/Rochester New York area beginning with an 8 hour drive tomorrow.

Not being one to shy away from celebrations or extending the festivities , we 'partied' all weekend! After our district meeting on Friday where we served the zone pizza for lunch, we headed to Hartford, Connecticut to watch BYU's first game of the season against the University of Connecticut. We won big time- 35-10!  So , a very good start to the birthday weekend.  It was a perfect, beautiful night.

Friday Night Lights

The next day my gift to Dale was a round of golf at a nearby Arnold Palmer designed course.  The second time he has played in the past 3 months. He enjoyed it very much.
That night , back home, I 'sacrificed ' and 'let' him go out for a Thai dinner- he loved his Mango Curry!

This week was the funeral of Joshua Smith, mentioned in a previous post.  He was a pioneer in the Boston area . The chapel we were sitting in was largely due to him. He was described as the foundation of this place. Following is a quote from a sister in our ward:   "I will always cherish his unshakable testimony about the start of  what is now Boston Ward. Joshua and his sweet wife Lillian were among a handful of converts (of which Celestine is one) who were given the mission to start a unit in Boston. From that little group, meeting every Sunday in a hall  over a bar in Dorchester, came our present day ward and branches..Members,missionaries and babies,too many to count, have been baptized,blessed and called inn Boston because of Joshua.
Since Lillian's death a few years back, Joshua has been unable to attend due to ill health. I wish all of you could have known this wonderful couple. You can.'t think of one without the other. He has been waiting to join her.I am sure she was waiting expectantly on the other side of the.veil. Now they will be together forever hand in hand..This soft spoken couple were our true pioneers in Boston. Those of us who were  blessed enough to know them will always remember."
 I mentioned before he had had a stroke and a heart attack and was in a nursing home not doing well. Our prayers were answered and he didn't have to suffer there very long and was released from this life and reunited with his wife.  Dale was asked to help dress him for the viewing and we both attended the funeral.
It was delightful!  I never really thought I would describe a funeral with that word but, in fact, it really was just that.  Joshua was Jamaican and so the funeral was part LDS/ part Jamaican.  They are a happy, loving people and many gave such lovely tributes to him, with plenty of "uh-huh's", "amens"and similar throaty approvals from the congregation. I loved this!  I want Jamaicans at my funeral! The opening prayer was one of my favorites ever- its' entirety was of thanksgiving, given by one of his long time Jamaican friends.
The most touching and memorable part of the funeral was that every single person who spoke talked about him and his wife- it was never just about Josh. It was 'Josh and Lillian'.  They couldn't speak of him without speaking of her. Everyone spoke of them as one.  I just loved that. They were said to be the perfect couple and that no one could ever say anything bad about either of them- the epitome of kindness, love and sincerity- 'they were the best we could ever have'.  They said the moment his wife left (she died a few years ago), he was never the same- he just retreated. So everyone was so happy they are together again.
We and the sister missionaries and some lovely ward ladies helped with the luncheon afterwards.

Bishop Joshua Smith

As the funeral events took over our usual PDay, we switched it to Wednesday this week.  Fortunately, Susan and Mike were able to change theirs as well.  We didn't add another DDD or Best Thing I Ever Ate to our list this time but we did check off another "1000 Places to See Before You Die" !  We visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire claimed to be the prettiest small city in New England.  We got a late start due to a Live Web-chat with our Mission President and his wife to all the senior couples in the morning so we didn't see as much as we'd hoped.
We toured an historical district called Strawbery Banke which encompasses over 40 period buildings and several recreated gardens. As it was the hottest day we've had since we've been here, we cut the sight- seeing short and high-tailed it to the beach. We found a lovely area with trees for shade,grass, rocks as well as a sandy beach- complete with 2 lighthouses!

We try to have ice cream wherever we go! This was rated highly. (as Susan's face confirms)

The old lighthouse

Isn't this a fun sculpture?

The new lighthouse.

Always working!

The highlight for me however, was meeting up with one of my very best and dearest friends from our Massachusetts days, Ruth Ramsey Engel and her husband Pete.  They live about an hour from Portsmouth and were kind enough to meet us there for a fabulous seafood dinner.  Her picture was supposed to be the Biggie for this post but I got so excited about seeing her that I totally forgot to take any photos.  But here is one when she was a bridesmaid at our wedding reception. :) Isn't she lovely?


We plan to get together many more times before we leave here so I promise a picture will be forthcoming! It was so very good to visit with them again and Mike and Susan were very good sports :).

As mentioned earlier, we not only stop for Triple D's, Best Places I Ever Ate, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, but we also brake for Ice Cream- especially the roadside Mom and Pop places.
This one was on the way home from Hartford. It was only open a few hours a day and behind a darling farm house.

Well , that's a wrap! Told you it would be a lot shorter.
It was another memorable week and we go our way, once again, rejoicing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 18-24, 2014

I'm warning you straight away that this is going to be a long post. Lots of events and photos to share!
Photo Overload!
Let's get started!

Preparation Day (P-Day, our "day off") found us in Harvard Square and Fenway Park this week.
We drove to the Moore's in Cambridge and took the "T" to Harvard Square.  As it was around noon our first stop was lunch, and , you guessed it-another Triple D!  Mr. Bartley's Burgers.  A crazy, fun, loud, crowded place with a crazy menu with very different burgers with fun names.  Dale had the Fiscal Cliff and I had the Diane Paulus "Bravo".  I tried to choose the most different combination (of things that I like) on the menu.  We both loved our choices.  The Frappes were a little weak- too thin for my taste.  And I've had better sweet potato fries. But it was a fun and memorable experience!

 A long line but it went fast and was worth it!

Best in the USA , no less !
Please meet Mrs. Bartley.  She has owned it and been working there for over 40 years.  She even hefts chairs over her head and moves tables around. And she greets you and seats you personally.
Crowded, fun and funky- just the way we like it! Our waitress was a true Bostonian- very nice but a little rough around the edges :)

Sorry it's sideways-couldn't figure out how to straighten it on here.

After lunch, we toured Harvard University with the help of our tour guide, Susan and her trusty printed little guide book she purchased for a few dollars at the information center. As luck would have it , it was orientation week for the incoming freshman.  Made us all want to relive our college days and those beautiful, historic grounds and buildings made me want to go to Harvard! One glaring thing missing from the campus buildings- Boston Ivy!  It's what gave these Ivy League schools their name.  I expected to see it all over.
It was especially nostalgic for me to be in Harvard Square again.  I remember going there in the 60"s with Beverly DeCapot .  We thought we were so cool hanging out there with all the hippies.  It had a much different feel and vibe to it this time.

A reminder upon which our nation was founded- righteousness and truth. 
The main entrance into Harvard Yard

I love this! Placed on the main entrance wall.
Freshman orientation.  Reminded us of "Legally Blonde" when Elle arrives at Harvard.

 A gorgeous building housing a theatre, a memorial to Civil War Veterans, and the Freshman Dining Hall

The Freshman Dining Hall reminded us of Harry Potter!  Wouldn't you just love to eat in there?

We drive past this very interesting bit of European looking architecture on the Sundays we pick up our Portuguese members in Dorchester. Finally able to walk around it - still no clue what it is but I love it!

We returned to the Moore's apartment for a few hours in between our activities.  Susan and I made use of the time by going on Family Search and looking for some lost relatives. We found some!  We had a husband and 3 children and we found his wife and 3 more children. We made the family complete.  They can be together again, no longer lost and waiting.  It was such a happy feeling- we both could feel their excitement and joy.  We feel a sweetness for James and Betsi and little Maggie, Nellie, Jennie , Annie, Willie and Robert.( I'm hoping they called him Robbie- don't want him to be the only one without an 'ie' at the end of his name!)  Family Search is so much easier now and user friendly. I encourage you all to go on it and play around. I can almost guarantee you will find someone, a link, a family!  It was fun and exhilarating.

To finish up our wonderful day we headed to Fenway Park to see the Angels play the Red Sox.  We loved it!  Everything about it.  They claim it is "America's Most Beloved BallPark".  It is one of the oldest and that alone makes it something special.  It felt homey- a word I never thought I'd use to describe a ball park.  And a very real 'home town' feel to it- very Americana.We had hot dogs and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch- great fun!  Dale wanted to see one of the Angel's stars, Trout, play and he led his team to victory.
Here is a little known fact about me: the only time in my life when I was a true, loyal, passionate baseball fan was in 1967.  We lived in Massachusetts at the time and it was during the "Impossible Dream" Season- a 4 way pennant race. The year of Jim Lonborg (Gentleman Jim), Carl Yastrzemski (Yaz) and Rico Petrocelli. It was the first time the Red Sox had been in the World Series since 1946!  They lost in the 7th game but it was a most exciting time!

The next day was busy with calls for Dale and blogging, emailing, etc. for me.  I made another "Sunshine Jar" filled with scriptures that give hope and encouragement.  We have several who can use a bit of that kind of sunshine right now.

And now I wish I knew how to add sound and special effects such as twinkling lights and fireworks, fairy dust and angelic choirs for on Wednesday we fulfilled one of my very top , on- the- list- the -longest bucket list items! Dale and I attended Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard!!
I have wanted to see this for over 25 years.  I'm not even sure how I came to know about it but ever since I heard of it, I've wanted so very much to see it, experience it. I never thought I would however, because it is only one night a year, always the 3rd week in August- a very crowded and usually hot and humid, not the most pleasant time to visit here. I never thought we would fly out here just to see it. But we are here! And it is only a ferry ride away! So we took advantage of it and we went! May I just say it exceeded all my fantasies about it.  It was spectacular and stunning in its beauty and its nostalgic mood.
 There is a section of Oak Bluffs with about 300 or so little cottages- gingerbread cottages as they are affectionately called here- due to all the ornate trimming literally dripping from each one.  They are painted bright colors or sweet pastels. Each has a large porch with lots of rockers and chairs. Many have little gabled balconies above the porches. They are a delight in and of themselves, but on this special night each porch and gable and balcony and nook and cranny are decorated with hanging paper lanterns of every sort and description. At a given time, every lantern is lit at once.  Magical! Breathtaking! A fairytale, story book wonderland.!

First is the series of "before " photos.  Daytime.

One of the many things I loved about this night and event is that all the home owners sit out on their porches enjoying dinner or appetizers and desserts with family and friends.

Notice the "dripping" gingerbread trim I mentioned :)

I can't remember when I was so excited to see something.  I felt I was a little kid going to Disneyland for the first time. Though I feel it is truly beyond words,  one way to describe the experience is like combining Halloween and Christmas- you walk around from house to house gazing at the gorgeous lights, yet it is a pleasant summer evening.  People are buzzing around, happy and friendly.


A dream come true! Thank you to my wonderful husband and companion for allowing me this fantasy come to life.  

Love the generations together having fun!

AND... prior to the lantern lighting, a community Singalong is held in the Tabernacle -an open air very large gazebo- type building where revival meetings were held in years past. This singalong is accompanied by the local band which was fantastic. For about 20 minutes the band plays rousing tunes and then a very agreeable old chap joins in to lead the audience in singing. And sing we did!  So many old favorites I haven't sung in years, the songs my mom and dad used to play on the piano and we'd sing at home.  Songs like Home on the Range, John Brown's Baby. Fun songs sung in rounds and with motions and leaving out words, etc.  Camp songs. Corn ball as you can get. This is capped off with a medley of every patriotic song there is. How does it get any better than that?
The night, the entire experience was so full of many of the things that I love, cherish and hold dear wrapped up into one exquisite package: that Main Street U.S.A. feeling, the patriotism,  the families-pack up the babies and grab the old ladies-everyone, old young and in between having old fashioned fun together, and then frosted with the pixie dust magic of the illumination. Perfect!  Perfect! Perfect!

Here are just a few photos of  our day on Martha's Vineyard.

Bright warm perfect summer day to go on a ferry to Martha's Vineyard!

My restaurant-had to eat here of course!

And yet another lobster roll- this one warm with drawn butter.

Simply dreamy place, yes?

Even had time for a little nap and found the perfect spot shade and a view - truly perfect day!

This made me so happy!  Kids on the pier catching crabs- just like back home on Balboa!  Different bait -different crabs.  They use raw chicken legs but still tied on string and pulled up and caught with a net.  Spider crabs.

One of the Black Dog Tall Sailing ships pulling into the harbor. Quite a sight!

Proof that these are 'working days off'- for Dale at least.  He stops and receives phone calls every where we go, all along the way.

Dinner.  The Strawberry Bacon Pizza has replaced the sweet potato one as my new fav!
Dale had a Fried Green Tomato BLT- also delish!

We partook of this craziness after the Illumination. Stood in line for 20 minutes.  Great donuts!

Like a line at Disneyland.


We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast close to the harbor so we could catch the first ferry back in the morning so we could make our Temple assignment.  Afterwards, we grabbed some Boston Market dinners to go and brought them back to our apartment where we ate and enjoyed the Moores' company for a few hours.

One of the highlights of each and every week for us is any contact- texts, emails, instagrams, Facebook posts, and especially face-times with our friends and children and grandchildren.  We love you and miss you so!

On Sunday, Mike spoke in Sacrament meeting and Susan and he taught the Gospel Principles class so we attended their ward. Mike gave a most excellent talk on balance in our lives and they are great teachers- good job team teaching ! Their ward is very interesting.  In introductions in Relief Society of the new comers, all were here going to Harvard or MIT or the likes.  And not under grad work-oh no! Masters and PHD's,  law school or medical school.  Very intellectual.  Avery young ward.  Pretty much a married student ward.
Afterwards, the Moores treated us to an early birthday dinner for Dale as they have a ward function next week that will prevent them from celebrating with us on his actual birthday.  It was so yummy- pork chops, strawberry salad, cooked squash and onions, garlic cheese potatoes and razzleberry pie for dessert. Thank you Moores! We loved it!

Dale's first selfie!

Some of the Missionary Moments of the week include:
Sharing a couple of passalong cards in Martha's Vineyard. A man approached me and asked about my badge/name tag.  As I explained it and why we were here , he and his wife patted me on the back and said  'good for you- giving back'.  I asked if they would like a card that had some websites on it where they could learn more about the church and they said yes.
At the Singalong, Dale went early to save seats (first row!) and became best buds with the very nice people sitting next to him. They even invited us to visit  and stay with them in Maine.  He, in turn, gave them a couple of cards for which they were grateful.

Our Pass-along Card.

In District Meeting, we were asked to help with a role play.  It is one of my least favorite things to do, but i did it and was touched and amazed at how real it felt when touched by the spirit.
We took the elders to visit Loretta, a woman who has had a life of hard knocks but keeps on.  She has a Boston sense of humor and can make us all laugh.  She is passionate about art and her specialty is portraits in pastels. She gives us a drawing every time we visit.  Soon we will have a gallery.

For our companion study time we have been reading through selected parts of Preach My Gospel. We love this book. One section featured in this week's study was "Go About Doing Good" with this quote from President Gordon B Hinckley :  "Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause.  Lend your efforts to helping people...Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down.  Live the gospel of Jesus Christ."

I love that quote.  I love and miss President Hinckley.  I love President Monson and am so grateful to know there is a true and living prophet on earth today to help us and guide us on our earthly journey.
I do love this gospel of Jesus Christ and am most grateful it was restored through Joseph Smith.
I am happy to be here doing what good we can, and trying to help our brothers and sisters in this area.
We truly go our way rejoicing.