Thursday, October 30, 2014

OCTOBER 13-19, 2014


I adore fall!

This is the beginning of one of the most incredible weeks of our mission so far.

It began with a new convert and missionary day at the temple on Monday. We had hoped to spend the day inside serving with these wonderful people but because our ward is so far away and few people have cars, we were needed more for transportation. Still, we very much enjoyed getting to know a sweet young woman, Andris, better on the long drive back to her home. 
We were back up in this neck of the woods right around the same time the Moores were finished at the temple, so we met for lunch and a few hours of site seeing in Concord, which is right next door to us here in Waltham. It is one of those charming quintessential New England towns that I am so crazy over. 
check it out:

You had me at American Flags!

Our lunch spot.  Dale had a fish stew- the best thing he says he has eaten here so far.

These next few photos highlight what a New England town is all 
about- the wonderful churches.

Fabulous graveyard.

A lovely autumn half day out filled to the brim with New England goodness.

On Wednesday we made the long 6 1/2 hour drive to Palmyra, N.Y. again. 

The beautiful drive through New York state.
 This time it was to attend the North America North East Mission Presidents Seminar.  In attendance were Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Donald Hallstorm of the 70 and his wife Diane, Elder Anthony Perkins of the 70 and his wife Christine, Elder Larry Karcher of the 70 (spoke at the October conference) and his wife, Pauline and Elder Steven Allen , the managing director of the Missionary Department for the Church, 24 mission presidents and their wives and four Area Medical Advisors and their spouses.  
We felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be asked to join in this amazing gathering and very special weekend. 
We drove most of the day, arrived at our hotel, refreshed ourselves, and then joined everyone for a welcome dinner. 
The food the entire time was top notch, lots of it, a wonderful variety and the service matched.
We met from 8:30 Thursday morning with remarks from Elder Holland followed by a presentation from Elder Hallstrom. After lunch we boarded buses which took us to the Sacred Sites. The first stop was the Smith Family Farm where we took the tour everyone takes and our sharp, bright, effervescent young sister missionaries did a brilliant job telling us all about the history of each place and the special things that happened there. 

The view of the grove from the Smith's Cabin.

Next was one of the more singular and extraordinary experiences of the week.  
Elder Holland took our group only into a special section of the Sacred Grove and spoke to us there.
For those of you not of our faith, I will explain why this was so significant and marvelous.

Elder Holland is an Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  When Christ was on the earth  He called 12 Apostles.   We believe He has called 12 to serve in our day.  We believe this church is His restored Church- that it is the same church that Christ established Himself when He was on the earth, complete with Apostles, Prophets, pastors and teachers.

The Sacred Grove is a forested area behind the home of Joseph Smith when he was young and living with his family.  It was a time of religious fervor in the country and churches were on every corner , literally, each espousing different doctrine. Joseph's own family was divided and went to several different ones.  Joseph really wanted to know which one was correct and after reading James 1:5:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.", he decided to go into that grove of trees and do just that- ask God.
It is there that the Father and Son appeared to him and instructed him in what he should do.

That is why it is so sacred to us.

This revelation alone gave us so much knowledge about the character of God and His Son, for which I am particularly and personally grateful. This knowledge that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and knows me by name affects me every minute of my life. 

So you can imagine how incredibly special of a moment this was for us to sit at an Apostle's feet in this very sacred setting.

Elder Holland

It was extraordinary and we cannot get over how very fortunate we are to be a part of it.

The Palmyra Temple

Our Mission President and his wife, Dan and Alison Packard.

With the Claytons, Weatherford and Lisa. He is the new mission president of the Toronto, Canada mission.
Weath was one of Dale's early medical partners, was the Stake President in Newport Beach and delivered our wonderful Ben and Beau .

Beautiful, peaceful serenity.

The Angel Moroni

The view from the hill.
A truly glorious day in every way.
We cannot express how grateful we feel to have been a part of it.

On Friday we had some wonderful training from the 70's and their wives in the morning.
After lunch, the men and women split into their own groups. Elder Holland addressed we women first before he went on to speak with the men.   Among the treasures he shared with us was this: "God's view of a woman is among the most sacred concepts that we have in the gospel. There is something so distinctively, inherently divine in a woman's nature. I stand in awe and open reverence.  I want to be more like you.  I want to be a lot more like you."
Sister Hallstorm wrote a moving tribute to the Prophet Joseph in the form of a reader's theatre which she and the 2 other 70's wives shared with us.  Included within was one of my favorite quotes about Joseph by Brigham Young: "I feel like shouting hallelujah all the time that I ever knew the prophet Joseph Smith."
We meet back together after a break and all the medical advisors and spouses were asked to share their testimonies.  With Elder Holland sitting within arm's reach. I shared how ever since I was a little girl I always was excited over the fact that our church had living apostles on the earth today- just like Peter, James and John in Christ's day. I couldn't understand why everyone wasn't excited about that fact. I expressed how very humbled and blessed I felt to be literally taught at his feet for these past few days.
 Elder Holland then concluded the day with more excellent instruction.
We sat with Elder Hallstorm twice at dinner and he is fascinating with all the knowledge he has of the growth and affairs of the church all over the world.

Saturday was a half day and our last at the seminar.
Elder Holland was given the majority of the time to address us once again.  He was 'on fire' and passionate about his message, focusing on revelation and the book of Mormon. We need to believe God speaks to us and can answer our questions and help with our family problems.
He closed with the true highlight for Dale and I; he left us all with an Apostolic Blessing. It was magnificant and touched us so deeply that after the meeting (which ended right after the blessing ) , we just sat in our car and wept.  We were so overcome we couldn't even drive home for quite a few minutes.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland (and us!)
At the close of the seminar we were all able to have our photo taken with him.
. I couldn't keep back the tears as I looked into his eyes and felt his love and the love of our Savior through him.
The nest photos are on the drive home.  Upstate New York is so beautiful- farms every few miles.
Someday I would love to  do a trip just to photograph all these lovely barns and farmhouses.

These were taken from a moving car in the rain so they obviously are not very good but I wanted to give you the impression anyway of the beauty of the rolling hills and farmlands.

This was certainly a week we will never forget and for which we are forever grateful.
More than ever, we go our way rejoicing!

If any of you have questions about our apostles or what happened in the Sacred Grove, please feel free to check out any of the following sites:

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Autumn has nearly come and gone here already.  It was not the spectacular palette of bright colors we were hoping for- a lot of yellows but not many reds or oranges.  And many of the trees are still green and simply turning brown with the leaves just quickly falling off. But fear not! I have taken PLENTY of photos of nearly every tree of color that I could find and and happy to share them with you-especially those of you in HB where you don't get much of an autumn at all.

We, along with the Moores, took an extended Pday trip this week and explored the lake region of New Hampshire. We spent Monday and Tuesday exploring this lovely area.

For lunch we stopped at a fun diner where, at our cute waiter's enthusiastic recommendation, we tried all things  "bacon jam" ...bacon jam burger, bacon jam sandwich, and bacon jam omelet. All were delicious! Next stop was the Mt. Washington Cruise across Lake Winnipesaukee ( of "What About Bob" fame).  This is an historic converted steamship.  We cruised across the lake (it it huge!) to Wolfsboro , which is the site of America's first summer resort, and back again.

I love this little island with its cute little deck. It has its own dock on the other side and tiny swimming area.  And of course, there is a cute house behind the trees. 

My attempt at vintage. :)

The mighty Mt. Washington

After our cruise we just explored the neighboring vicinity.

Squam Lake aka Golden Pond

A pretty vacation spot-cottages on the lake.

Maybe I'd better move?

Not much going on here this time of year, but come summertime this place is popular and packed!
On Tuesday we visited the Castle in the Clouds! (cue the Les Miserables soundtrack).  It really isn't a castle but a large Craftsman style estate on 5500 acres high in the Ossipee Mountains and overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. It is a true Americana Rags to Riches story.  Tom Plant, the son of poor immigrants, worked his way up through the industry and with hard work, ingenuity, and drive he  bought his own factory and with his shoe innovations made a huge fortune. His was the largest factory in the U.S. and the largest shoe factory in the world. The house was not only beautiful but had many cutting edge, modern conveniences most homes at the time did not. Its bathrooms would function just fine  today- in fact, I would love the master bathroom.  It looks like it came out of Pottery Barn. The house even has a hidden room.  But the true glory of the place is the views  Spectacular vistas! From every single window!
It started pouring (and I mean pouring!) rain as soon as we entered the house so we didn't get the best photos of the views but it stopped raining as soon as we were ready to leave so we aren't complaining one bit!

A viewing station on the way up.

As you can see, we truly were in the clouds!

Every window had these stained glass inserts depicting local scenes.

I love this.  It was framed in Mr. Plant's bedroom.
I told you I liked taking pictures through windows :)
The "Castle".

The lovely bathroom I mentioned.
It had a deep clawfoot tub and a shower with a railhead and side jets!
And a private toilet area behind closed doors. 

We were so grateful the rain stopped because it gave us the opportunity to explore the dazzling grounds.

I found some red!!!

Adorable statues!

Feeding the stocked pond trout- big ones!

Can't get enough of that red!

Love the reflection.

Also on the grounds were some gorgeous waterfalls. Supposedly one of the few, if not only, private properties that had its own big waterfall.  Absolutely LOVED this place!

Do you see the face?

Gorgeous! I was as happy as a clam!  Loved, loved the beauty surrounding us there.

We ate lunch in what used to be the carriage house. Warm soups and hot chocolate to take off the chill and cut the dampness.  Our waitress, Michelle, was delightful and as we got to talking with her it naturally came out that we were serving missions for our church. She said she was actually looking for a church for herself, her husband and her little son. She said she was searching for one that required sacrifice (check!), did a lot of charitable works (double check!), and focused on family and family values (check, check and check!).  We encouraged her to check out the other churches that interested her but to be sure and include ours in the list. She was very interested and gave us her contact information so the missionaries in her area could reach her.  They did and she has an appointment with them in November.  It will be exciting to see what comes of it. :)

On our way back to Massachusetts, we stopped in Concord, N.H. to have dinner with my friend, Ruth.  Her husband couldn't make it this time so she invited her sister Jean to come along. We were so happy she did. They are both the loveliest people.  We have said before how we were coming on this mission to 'give back' a little after a lifetime of blessings.  Well, these two have been giving back all along the way for their whole lives.  They are an inspiration!  They chose one of their favorite restaurants to meet in- a Mexican one. Well, it redeemed Mexcian food in New England for us.  We had given up on ever finding any good Mexican here but everything everyone had was delicious. Thanks , Ruth!

Sisters with Sisters!
Jean and Ruth, Nancy and Susan

My blog program (or maybe me) was on the blink for the last few weeks so I am 3 blogs behind.
 The photos stir memories and I can write a little about them and those experiences. But sadly, the spiritual events aren't saved in such a fashion and are harder to recall to my aging memory. :D !
I did have a notebook where I jotted notes for just this purpose - to jiggle my memory and help me share those thoughts. Sadly, again, I left that behind at one of our meetings and have not seen it again.

Saturday was my 45th (egads! it hurts to say that out loud!) high school reunion. And since I went to high school in good ol' Franklin, Mass. I was practically right next door so ,of course, I went! Franklin is about an hour from here.  For those reading who may not be familiar with my history, my family moved here from Alabama when I was 16, a freshman in HS, and they moved to Colorado when I was a freshman in college at B.Y.U. So my entire life here in Massachusetts was all four years of high school.
Dale and I drove in early and took the local young missionaries out to lunch to catch up on the church's growth there. Wow! When we lived there we were the only family in the entire town that belonged to the church.   (About a year before we moved another family moved in) We drove to another town about 20 minutes away, Foxboro, to go to church in a little branch there where my dad was the branch president. Now there is a chapel (the stake center!) in Franklin and 2 wards and 2 branches- a family ward, a singles ward, a family branch and a Spanish branch! I could hardly believe it!  That was so exciting for me.

We also searched out the 'places of interest' to me- the high school, our homes, my best friend's home, etc.

The church.

The remains of my high school. This fall was the first year students entered the new building.

The brand-spankin' new high school! It's huge!!

Our house on Pond Street.
I remember it as being bigger.  Our house in Alabama was one story so maybe that's why this one seemed so big to me. It was really quite small. We rented this house until we found one we wanted to buy.  I was extremely unhappy that my parents uprooted me from all my friends and my happy life in Alabama so I 'punished' them by sulking in my room everyday for nearly a year. (teenagers!)

This is the house right across the street from us. It was the Ramsey's house. As of THE Ruth and Jean Ramsey in the photo above. I always loved their house. A classic farm house beauty. Many good memories there.

This is our house just around the corner and about a block and a half way on Janie Avenue. We bought this house. My dog died in that driveway. First thing I thought of when we saw it. Memories are a fascinating thing.  I also distinctly remember walking from this house to Ruth's and back in the fall and composing melancholy poems in my head.  (Oh, and I just had to get that glorious tree in a photo. )

The Class of 1969

We've aged pretty well, I think.
( I'm in the back row, 6th from right)


We spent the night in Franklin and left the next morning to go to Weston for our Stake Conference.  Our Mission President and his wife, the Packards were among the speakers. It was an uplifting and inspiring meeting. Among the highlights:
Keep our relationship with our Father holy. Share our gratitude with Him more than asking for things.
Seek to serve rather than be served.
Love the Lord more than the world.
Come unto Christ
A former atheist shared his conversion story.  He was converted through a ward activity which he attended just to support his wife.  He said to live the gospel is to believe in its power. And that it is like Green Eggs and Ham. Try them. Try them. And you will see.

In front of the Stake Center- we loved this tree!

Love the contrast between the orange and blue, blue sky!

That's a wrap for this week! You can see why its very easy for us to go our way rejoicing!