Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Comes to Dixie

The seasons change and the temperatures fall and I am still amazed that the original settlers lived with extremes in heat, snow, floods, droughts and were happy to do so because they were asked by a prophet of God.  Many came because Brigham Young asked them to grow cotton.  It worked and we still grow it today to give guests an idea of what it was like.  The growing season has ended but here are some photos from October.

These pics are at Jacob Hamblin's home.  We picked this and a lot more.  Local ladies come and get some to card and spin the way the pioneers did.

It does snow here but last year we had about 2 inches total after three snowfalls.  What it does mercilessly is leaf-fall!  This is about two inches in two hours and only the first fall of about a dozen so far.  You are looking at our front door the morning after the night of the first freeze.  Below is a shot of Brigham Young's Winter home during a blustery afternoon.  The colors were so vivid and the scene so lovely, I had to share.  

We missionaries spent three very early mornings as a group working on decorations at all the sites.  A committee was in charge but we all got a taste of Christmas decorating.   Elder Clinger is admiring the lights outside the Tabernacle that are put there by the city.

Sister Clinger loves the sound of the organ in the Tabernacle and even her playing sounds acceptable with the wonderful acoustics President Young had built in.  He asked the Saints to build the Tabernacle large enough to hold 2000 but Miles Romney, the Supervising architect said it would be too large to keep the acoustics in tact.  So it was built 56x106 feet to hold 1200.  We just got that many in the building for a concert by the Southern Utah Heritage Choir and it sounded great!

Family came for Thanksgiving and we turned it in to a Thanksmas celebration because we won't be together on Christmas.  Here is Jubal carving the turkey, goodies left for Santa, all gathered on Mom and Dad's bed before the entrance in to the living room where Santa had obviously been!  It was a joyful few days.  Senior missonaries are not under the same policies as the younger Elders and Sisters.  We can see family as  often as we like!

(Bottom left)Sisters Lau, McNaughton, Sanders, Borba, Hooson, Pilling, Schneider, Parton
(Top left) Crane, Meneses, Mervar.
Here are a few Visitors' Center images including some of the Sisters that come and go on transfer day which happens every six weeks.  It is a very emotional day with a lot of activity and anticipation.  They learn to love their comps, their areas and their investigators and the VC assignment.
Then they go outbound or home and we all shed tears.
Sister Quintanilla
Sister Clark

The Kaona's come back to visit from Hawaii.

The end of a busy 9 to 9 day at the VC

Sunday, November 22, 2015

So Much to Say

I will try to highlight the last few weeks in pictures.  They are worth thousands of words!  On November 6 we had a surprise visit from a celebrity.  He spoke at Zone Meeting and his testimony was as powerful as his music.

Yup.  Recently Returned Missionary David Archeleta.  He was in town to do a concert at the Tuacahn outdoor theater.  One of the many perks that have come with this amazing mission! He spoke of miracles that come when we invite others to come to Christ.  He sang "I Believe in Christ" and "Come, Come Ye Saints", a cappella.  It was thrilling.  

Elder and Sister Gifford from Ogden left for home, and Elder and Sister Danguy from Lyon, France and Sister and Elder Hancock from Seattle Washington joined our ranks.  It is always bitter sweet when we say goodbye to our fellows.  They impact our mission experience so much.  
Our new mission friends are always amazing though.  The Danguys have brought the most beautiful spirit with them and are learning English with incredible speed, and the Hancocks are the founders of a charitable organization called MamasHands.  Google it.  You will be impressed by the caliber of people the Lord calls on missions.

Remember the busses we get from France? Hence--the Danguys are here.  The bus season is over now though.  But I had to include a final picture that stresses just how much the bus tourists flock to our Visitors' Center.

You may not be able to see them all but there were five at one time that day!

A tidbit from the Brigham Young Winter home: here's our famous Mulberry tree.  It is over 150 years old and in the National Registry of Historic Trees.  See the inscription?  Tree surgeons saved it's life in 1972, on Valentines Day as a matter of fact, by cementing in a turn buckle that goes clear through the tree on either side and by surrounding the branches with cable because it was splitting.  Now it will probably live another 150 years.  Brigham could have sat with grandchildren under it.  It's a landmark and one of the favorite spots on the property.

It's also a symbol of the atonement to me.   As we allow the Savior to heal, repair and shore up our weakness, we become stronger that we were.   His love makes us whole.  

One of the series of paintings depicting the Saviors pre, post, and mortal life, in the basement of the Tabernacle.  Another wonderful exhibit to see when you come.  I hope you are all coming soon.  We would LOVE a visit! And finally, some farewell shots of some of our amazing Sisters at the VC.  They play with my camera when I am not looking!

 They are not only adorable and smart and beautiful and darling but spiritual powerhouses!  How blessed we are to be working with them.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Week That Was

This was a week worth highlighting.  On Monday, the temple opened again!!! It's all shiny and clean thanks to Spiderman.  And buzzing with temple goers and weddings. We all feel a sense of exquisite joy again.  Wednesday night was the culmination of months of preparing for Jon Schmidt of The Piano Guys to come perform at the Tabernacle.  This was going to be the biggest event we've had at the Tabernacle and we weren't quite sure what to expect.  Well, the crowds came; we fit them in; he was spectacular and it was all we hoped for.  (The Tabernacle holds 814.  We put some downstairs where they could hear but not see and we squeezed in 1056.  Don't tell any one. It may be against fire code!)  Some left of their own accord because they couldn't sit.  I doubt if there were very many more in the building when Lorenzo Snow delivered his famous "Windows of Heaven" address (about tithing) there 116 years ago when the people were much smaller!  Then the next morning he spoke and performed for just the missionaries at the Visitors' Center!  Us!  As talented as he is, the most impressive thing about him is his dedication to the gospel.  The Lord first, career second.  That is the feeling of all The Piano Guys. It is even written into their contracts: they can not be asked to do anything against their religious beliefs.   Love it!!!

The next day President Uchtdorf walked into the VC!  We were not fortunate enough to be there but it created quite a stir for the next few days.  I heard about and imagined the whole thing.  It was a short "passing by" visit but the Sisters got pictures and handshakes.

That same  day I got a visit from my dear friend Jeanne Douglas!  Only the second time we've seen each other in three years because of their mission to the Philipines and ours here!  It was like the sons of Mosiah and Alma seeing each other again after their labors in the field!! What joy!

Last but not least was a visit to the VC on Saturday from a Brother who the Navajos call Rainbow Dancer. He came in to pick up 4 copies of the Book of Mormon to share--one each in English, Navajo, German and French.  They call him Rainbow Dancer  because he brings them hope--the hope of crossing over into heaven through Jesus Christ.  And he uses the Book of Mormon to do it.  He carries them wherever he goes.  As a young missionary he felt inspired to share the Book of Mormon with everyone and gave out 800 copies.  That's more than 2 a day.  He has never stopped since and shares them wherever he is: cases to the Indians where he delivers sheep and hay, by the hundreds to visitors he meets at tourist stops.  This time an Indian woman told him she had a dream that she was given a stack of plates with writing on them. They were heavy she said but she didn't drop them.  "I can give you the writings", he said and came in to pick up a Navajo copy for her.  He has a gift for sharing the Book of Mormon.  What is(are) your gift(s) for sharing the gospel?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What To Do When the Temple Closes

When the temple closes for a month there is still a lot of activity but the kind of activity changes. The parking lot is empty but people still come with their temple bags only to find that it's closed for a month.  I can feel their disappointment.  There is no greater joy than to serve in the Lord's holy house. (Check temple schedules before you venture too far on a temple trip!)

It is still alive with activty within but it is in the form of wallpapering, painting, cleaning, and remodeling.  We volunteered on two days and covered chairs with paper and tape so arms and legs could be repainted. We met a beautiful young mother of 5 who taped with us and has spent almost every day for the last three months in the temple as much as possible since her husband was killed in a truck crash.  He was driving his own truck on a freeway, delivering a pre-fab house when a tire popped.  He was thrown over the median in to on coming traffic and instead of hitting head on and surely killing those in a passenger car he swerved the truck across the lanes and over a cliff.  The incredible impact buried the truck in the sand.  Sister Beutler seemed to be an angel on earth.  I'm sure her husband was the same way.  In fact she said his whole life was one continual display of acts of service one after another.  Have you ever read  the book "The Message" by Lance Robinson?  It is a sermon about service.  I highly recommend it.

Well I couldn't send pictures of our maintenance experiences in the temple (watching the progress in the baptistry, climbing the spiral staircase, changing 4 foot fluorescent light bulbs in the foyer, taping chairs, putting on white scrubs, watching the cleaning, wallpapering etc.)  But I can of the maintenance outside the temple!  Here's Brother McBride (aka Spiderman) mountain climber, repeller, cleaning business owner and temple recommend holder taking a week to wash the outside of the temple.  That's one way it stays so white.  Another is a new paint job every 5 years.  But the secret is in the calcite plaster that glistens in the sun through the white paint!

When the temple is closed we can look for another temple to go to as long as we travel back home at night and stay in our apartment.  (If we have to stay over night we need permission from the mission president.)  So we took a preparation day and met our Utah kids at the Payson temple on Oct. 10th. What joy! Family--at the temple!  My two favorite things!!  

Then my next favorite thing--eating out!  Mexican in Payson at Los 4 Amigos (I think that was the name).  Thanks for coming kids! It made a missionary mom's heart very happy!!!