|Woodlawn Cemetery at Independence Mo.|
We live next to a cemetery. It is really cool and has a lot of old stones. We have walked around in this grave yard and are amazed at all the people who are our neighbors. One of them is William Earl McLellin. He was one of the original twelve Apostles called in this dispensation and is a witness to the Doctrine and Covenants. He was here in Independence (and also Kirtland) and he endured many hardships. He was baptized by Hyrum Smith. He also served several missions. As with a few of the other original apostles he turned on the Church in 1838. While Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, McLellin was leading groups that robbed the Prophet and his family’s home, as well as Hyrum’s. He was also accused of robbing others, and other sins. At one point he asked permission to “flog” Joseph while he was in jail. The jailers said they would let him fight Joseph if he wanted too. They thought that would be pretty good fun. He said he would if he could have a club. Joseph actually agreed. But McLellin backed down. After the Saints left Missouri he wandered around and eventually joined the RLDS movement and died here in Independence. An interesting side note (at least to me) is that it was William E. McLellin’s papers that the forger/bomber Mark Hoffman claimed to have for sale that brought about his demise. The funny thing is that the Church found out that they already owned this collection. These papers were edited by Jan Shipps and John W. Welch in 1994.
We have also visited Liberty Jail and are going there next week for a celebration and symposium. Elder M. Russell Ballard is coming in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Liberty Jail Visitor Center. After the jail was abandoned it fell into disrepair and was mostly torn down. The dungeon part became the basement of a house. Brother Wilford Wood (whose grandson was one of my missionary companions) purchased it and later sold it to the Church and missionary couples lived there for several years, opening the basement for visitors to see. The Church then tore the house off the basement and built the visitors center and restored the jail. It was dedicated 50 years ago.
We are really racking up the miles on my truck. This is a big place and it takes a long time to get from one place to another. This is the new look for my truck. I don't look much like a developer without an open bed and a tool box. I am trying to get use to my "gentleman" or "missionary" look.
We are serving in the Liberty Stake, which is north of the Missouri River and goes all the way up to Iowa. We cross the Missouri River at least 2 times each day, but we use a bridge and we are glad it is not winter and that we have shoes. There are 13 units in this stake, but also in the boundaries are the Kansas City Temple (which is just barely still in Kansas City—we don’t think the Brethren wanted it to be either the Independence or Jackson County Temple), Haun’s Mill, Far West Temple Site, Adam-ondi-ahman, Richmond (the burial sites of the Whitmer family and also Oliver Cowdery—the Church has erected a monument to the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon there), and the site of the Battle of Crooked River.
So much to see; so much to do; so much to think about.
We eat our lunch (actually dinner) in a public park nearly every night. Here I am "pondering" after dinner.
After a full week of missionary work we are feeling a little better about our assignment. One night as I was pondering our mammoth task before us I asked the question “How do you eat an elephant?” And then I answered my own question, “One bite at a time!” All of a sudden I felt a little relief come over me and I realized that I didn’t have to do everything today. I just have to do my best each day and by the end we will have accomplished our work here. I am trying to focus on each day and find the Young Single Adults for that day.
We have accomplished a lot this week. We have met with two Bishops and two Relief Society Presidents. We have visited or left notes for 55 YSA and we have also identified a lot that have moved and some that are married. I am always so happy to hear that someone is married.
We drive by the Kansas City Temple at least twice each day. Some days it is even more. It is right off of the I-435 freeway. It is on top of a hill and it stands out for all to see. At night it is so beautiful with the lights shining on the building and the grounds. Right next to it is a brand new Stake Center for the Liberty Stake. This is the Stake that we are working in. We have been to the Stake Center for three different meetings and it is beautiful inside.
Our days are starting to take a routine that seems to be working out well. Every morning we get up around 6:15 and we go swimming at the aquatic center about 4 miles from here. We then come home and have breakfast and get ready for the day. We then have our study time of the scriptures. After that we sit down together and record what we did the day before and decide what we are going to do for the day. We go over each YSAs information that we visited the day before and decide what needs to be accomplished further, i.e.: moved, married, active, needs another visit, not home and left a note etc. After we have finished all of our preparation we then have lunch (which is more like dinner) and then we pack our dinner (which is more like lunch) and head out the door about 1:00. We drive to our area, which takes about 30 minutes and then we start visiting the young people on our list for the day. We arrive home around 8:00 or 9:00 unless we go to the Family Home Evening for the YSAs or we have a meeting with a Bishop. We then fall into bed! That pretty much wraps up our days.
We are doing great and we feel encouraged by what we have been able to accomplish this week.
We are trying not to run faster that we have strength but we also want to run as fast as we can!
P.S. by Greg. We have met Bishop Lane Vance who is a brother to Sister Shannon Dunn, a dear friend of ours from Africa. Sister Dunn’s husband, Gregg Dunn, was the DTA. Small world!
Here are some pictures of our lovely apartment. It is so cozy we are thinking of doing apartment living for the rest of our lives. It is made even better by the fact that of the six apartments, all are occupied by senior missionaries. Very good (and quiet) neighbors! Also, it is considerably cheaper than was our apartment in Africa. One more thing, WE CAN DRINK THE WATER!
We are on the middle (2nd) floor on the right.
We feel like the couple in the movie, Up!. We both have our chairs to sit in, but we do not have a TV (we can watch movies on our computer, though we have not done that yet).
Very nice kitchen for two people.
I am 61 years old and I am still not sure whether to leave the toilet seat up or down, or the lid up and the seat down, or what. Debi's first response was, "why didn't you put the seat down before you took the picture?" My response. "I wanted to show how clean the toilet was!"
We have a very big bedroom with a queen bed. In Africa we had a king bed in a very small room.
We are missionaries, so we have bikes, in case we run out of miles--right, they are for fun and exercise. Debi has a little desk with her Ipad to do her family stuff.
We have a nice deck for BBQing
OK, we have a post box, so we need to get a few letters. Debi got one already from Aurora.