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:


  1. First let me say I love that first picture of you. It is great. You take wonderful pictures. How wonderful that you got to spend time with Elder Holland and the others. How awesome to get a blessing from him. No wonder you both were emotional. I love you r spirit.

  2. Best post yet, for sure! I still can't believe you and Dad got to spend so much time with Elder Holland and other wonderful leaders. Such an amazing blessing! I didn't know about him talking to your group in the Sacred Grove...I can't even imagine! I can't think of too many things more spiritual than being there with an apostle. Loved all your commentary and of course the photos.

    p.s. your missionary "style" is the cutest. love that blue plaid button up with the black sweater over it. classiest missionary out there!