Saturday, November 23, 2013

The greatest thing since sliced bread

By Greg:


When our country was young, there was much debate about who should pay for “internal improvements” such as roads, canals, ports and even railroads.  Some thought these should be paid for by either the States or the Federal Government.  Some big jobs were agreed on early, while others were left to “profiteers” who charged tolls and use fees.

A road that became famous is known as the National Road.  It came through Missouri.  The early Mormons who traveled from Kirtland to Missouri not only followed this road, but some of them stopped at certain places and found work helping to build the road.

One of the towns on this road is called Chillicothe.  This means “big town” as called by the Indians.  We went there this week.  It took us two hours—one way.  We met with several members of the Church who attend the branch there. 

These towns all make big claims.  They like to tell famous people who have lived there.  We read about a couple who were serial killers and had quite a racked going.  They were caught and convicted and sentenced to death.  They were an older couple and both died of natural causes before the sentence could be carried out.  They were from Chillicothe.

They claim to be the "glove capital of the world." I guess it has to be somewhere?

This is a really cool town.  They have really worked hard to overcome the effects of a super-Walmart.  Their downtown is still alive and well.  One thing we really enjoyed was that they have painted murals on the side of buildings in the downtown.

One of the murals celebrates the fact that “sliced bread” was first sold here.  A man in Iowa invented the slicing machine and a baker used in first in Chillicothe.  It is reported that his sales increased 1,000 percent.


Wonder Bread was the first major brand to sell sliced bread.  In fact, they got their name out of the pre-introduction ad campaign.  They said that the new bread would become a “wonder of the world” and so they adopted the name “Wonder”.  We also remember the balloons and that it “built strong bodies 12 ways”.  Well, Wonder Bread and Hostess have had some major business problems, but the new company, Hostess Brands, is headquartered here in Kansas City.  They make Twinkies!


Along the national road is a town named Marceline, Missouri.  It claims to be the hometown of Walt Disney.  Actually, the Disney’s only lived there for 4 years before they moved to Kansas City (which also claims to be his home town).  It was downtown Marceline that inspired Walt when he set out to design Mainstreet USA at Disneyland. 


I think you can see a little of Main Street in these pictures.

We have come a long way as a country.  It is really a wonder to drive down these roads in “middle America” and think of all the people who have lived, and loved, and died in these communities. 


I wanted to say something about “Sister Trainers”.  With the increase of Sister Missionaries there has been a new position created in missions.  Experienced and mature Sisters (young sisters, not seniors) are called to help teach and train other sisters.  They are not to replace Zone or District leaders, but they go on splits with other sisters, study with them, help them adjust to the mission, and assist them in their role as a missionary.  One of our new friends is Sister Ogletree from Provo.  She is a Sister Trainer.  We are so impressed with all of these Sisters!


By Debi:


I have to say that of all of the small towns we have visited my favorite is Chillicothe.  Before we visited this cute little town we heard a lot of Chillicothe jokes.  I think it is kind of like Hooper.  Everyone makes a little fun of Hooper but the people who live there and the people who visit there find out that it is a great place to live. Same can be said about Chillicothe.


As we drove down the main street we saw beautiful murals painted on the side of buildings.  At first, I just thought it was the mural about sliced bread and I thought that was pretty cool.  But then as we kept driving we saw many more.  Pretty soon I couldn't stand it any more and I made Greg stop and let me take pictures of as many as I could before it got too dark.


They have a little city park across from the beautiful county building.  The building to the side had all of the windows painted as if the people were really in the window. 

In one picture the man is even opening the window so he can listen to his wife giving piano lessons in the next window. 

There was an accountant working in one of the windows.  I had to get a picture of that in honor of Greg and his accountant days. 

Across from the little park was a very cool mural of a train coming down the track.  I was a little sad that there was a car in front of it.  The rail line coming through this area really was what kept Chillicothe alive in the late 1800's.


Each mural has some significance to the history of the city and surrounding area.

The photos do not do the murals justice.  They are really amazing.  When you see them in person they have a 3D effect and it feels like you are really looking at a live scene.  We found out that the city commissioned the paintings to keep the downtown alive and a place to visit and to live.


My other favorite little town is Jamesport.  We visited Jamesport this week.  There are a few Young Adults who live in this cute little town.  Jamesport is famous for their Amish population and wares.
We passed a farm that had its corn stalks in the field all tied in bundles.  You don't see that everyday.


We also followed a little buggy pulled by a horse.  They all have enclosed carriages pulled by their horses.  We were lucky and saw two carriages passing each other on the road.

The Amish are famous for their good food and their quilts and their furniture building.  I would love to bring some of their furniture home.  It is very beautiful and quaint.  Years ago we came to this little town when we brought our family out to Missouri and Illinois for a Church History tour.  We have had a lot of dejuvu on this mission as we have visited places that we did years ago with our family.


Even though our calling seems to be taking us all over the countryside we have enjoyed seeing the different little towns and learning so much about the area and its history.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Called to Serve

By Greg:

This past week has been an incredible experience for us.  After spending a couple of weeks finding, renting and furnishing missionary apartments, we were able to see the end result as we welcomed 22 new Elders and Sisters into the mission.  I am sorry that I did not take pictures of this, it really was incredible!

This is a picture of me preaching a sermon in "the grove" in Nauvoo.  Debi will talk about our trip to Nauvoo with Joni.

We were asked to join in the receiving effort.  President Keyes, our mission president, called the senior office staff together and gave us some counsel.  We could tell that something was weighing on his mind as he taught us RULE # 1: Take care of the missionaries—make certain they are safe.  RULE # 2: Take care of the Mission (and by extension the Church).  RULE # 3: Never let rule number 2 get ahead of rule number 1.  We later realized that he was really concerned about what was going on in the Philippines, and perhaps how he would react to some emergency if it happened here.


He gave us an example of his rules.  He said a while back he was impressed that a set of sisters needed to change apartments.  There was some push back from the staff because it meant that we might have to pay some money to get out of the lease.  We all were taught that impressions and inspiration from a mission president trumps all other concerns.  This was great counsel.  He said this is not a business. Some of us have to start thinking with our hearts more, and our heads less.


As I said, we received 22 new missionaries.  Sister Haws and I took our truck to the airport.  We all had different missionaries to pick up.  They all did not come on the same flight.  In fact, some were coming from the Mexico City MTC.  Some are what we call “visa waiters” in that they are called to either Brazil or India, but their visas have not come through, so they will serve here until they do.  The Brazilians usually take a few months; the ones called to India sometimes take a year.  In the meantime they are Missouri Independence Missionaries.  We do not distinguish them in anyway.


We got our missionary.  It was fun to be on this side.  There were no farewell tears of goodbye, only happiness, excitement and a lot of apprehension.


We all gathered at the Temple and then the new missionaries went to the Liberty Jail.  We met back up later at the President’s house.  The Senior Missionaries who are part of the office staff join in the orientation meeting and give instruction regarding finance, cars, housing, phones, medical etc.  The new missionaries all introduced themselves and told where they were from and why they had come on this mission.  This was so touching. Then we left them and they had their pictures taken with President and Sister Keyes, had dinner and interviews.


In the morning we all gathered at the Stake Center.  All the missionaries that were being transferred were also there.  It was wild.  Everyone was greeting former companions, the sisters were hugging each other, and it was a site of pure joy!


We took two sisters to their area.  One of them was new.  She is from South Korea.  She and her companion are opening a new area in one of our new apartments.  We took them to Walmart, then to lunch and then helped them get settled.  They will share a car with the Elders.  We do not have enough cars so many areas share; some have two cars for three sets.  Then we bid them goodbye and good luck.  I felt like we were leaving a daughter at college for the first time.  I had a lump in my throat, but they seemed confident.


It is such a blessing to be part of this great work.  We will do more of this when we go into the office full time; sometime in February or March.


By Debi:


Last Saturday Greg and I were on the war path.  We set out to visit the homes of 25 Young Single Adults in one long day.  We have been off doing other assignments for a while and we have really gotten behind.  As we were hunting for addresses I thought about visiting three sisters in a month.  I decided I would never complain about visiting teaching again.  Three or four sisters in a month sound a lot better than 25 in a day. I am happy to report that we did it.  We went to all 25 homes.  It was our best day ever.


Two weeks ago our daughter Joni came to visit us.  Her very kind husband kept the kids at home and let Joni come for four days.  Greg and I were so excited.  It is not very often that we have alone time with one of our daughters since they have all married and have children.


We picked up Joni at the Kansas City airport late Friday night and brought her to our humble apartment.  After a good night rest we headed out to see the historical sites.  We took her to Richmond to see the 3 Witness monument and the graves of David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. 

The picture is at the cemetery where David Whitmer is buried.  We also wanted to show the bright red tree in the background.  It was so beautiful. This picture does not do the tree justice.

We then drove up to the Far West Temple site.  We made a quick stop at the cute Far West bookstore that is owned and operated by a member of our Church. Joni got some cute souvenirs for her family there. 

We stopped for a short time at the site of the Haun's mill massacre.

We then started our journey to Nauvoo.  Now some of you might be wondering if that is in our mission.  No, it is not.  President Keyes gave us permission to take Joni to Nauvoo because she spent a semester in Nauvoo while she attended BYU and she really wanted to go back and see the temple finished. 


Saturday afternoon we were able to go to the Nauvoo Temple and attend a session there.  It was the first time for all of us.  The Temple is so beautiful and somehow they have made it feel like the original temple.  We loved it there and the murals painted on the walls were so gorgeous.   After the session we took pictures of the Mississippi River and the town from the Temple hill. 

This picture is from the temple steps looking out over the river.  The statues of Joseph and Hyrum on their horses is just in front of the temple.

This is a replica of a ferry boat that took wagons and animals across the river.
We are told we should not spend so much time looking back, but look forward.  We wondered as the Saints stood at this very spot, how much time did they spend looking back at the City of Nauvoo, the beautiful temple, and their hopes and dreams.  Did they have any idea what they were looking forward to?  Do we? 

That night the town of Nauvoo had a pumpkin walk down Main Street.  The senior missionaries made yummy kettle corn and handed it out to everyone for free.  We had a great time.  We also ate dinner at the Nauvoo Hotel restaurant and had their grand buffet.



Sunday morning we went to church and met Sister Susan Easton Black Durrant and her new husband Elder George Durrant.  They know J.B. and several of our girls took her class at BYU.  She invited us to dinner and we were very happy but nervous to accept.
We attended the Senior Missionary sacrament meeting.  The chapel was completely full as was 2/3 of the cultural hall.  They were all senior missionaries!  With the Visitor Center couples, and the Temple Missionaries, and the FM Missionaries, this was quite a sight. 

We spent the day walking all through the Nauvoo Pioneer town.  We took a lot of time walking the trail of Hope to the Mississippi river reading all of the journal entries. We went to the shops and heard all of the history and stories from the Senior Missionaries.  The weather was beautiful and the leaves were all turning.  Some looked like they were on fire.  It was a perfect day. 


We had a great dinner with the Durrant’s and we enjoyed their company so much.  Sister Durrant is a great cook and I know that she is a great teacher.  What an amazing person.  Elder Durrant is a sealer in the Nauvoo temple and they are on a mission there as temple missionaries.  Just a side note, Elder Durrant knows my brother-in-law, Warren Johnson.  They worked together for the Church for many years.  He loves Warren and he told us that Warren named all of his children after him.  Actually, Warren and my sister Mickie, did name their last son, George Whitfield Johnson.

We also visited the Carthage Jail.  This is a very solemn place that always brings strong emptions.

The brethren were in the room in the picture below when the mob burst in.  Hyrum died here from a gunshot to his face.  Joseph was shot and fell out the window behind us and landed near the well in the above picture.  There he died.


Monday we headed back to Missouri.  We went to Adam-ondi-ahman on the way back to Independence and spent a lot of time there.  It is beautiful there and we really felt the spirit.


Tuesday morning we took Joni to the Liberty Jail and Visitor Center and spent an hour or so learning about the jail and the suffering and heartache that the Prophet Joseph Smith and others who were locked up there for 5 months.  That was a special experience to share with Joni. 


We then took her to the airport and said our goodbyes.  It was so fun to have Joni here but it made me very homesick.  I can see why the young missionaries shouldn’t see their families while they are on their missions.


Missouri and Illinois are so full of the Church Historical sites.  It is amazing to be here and to see and learn about the early Saints.  We are thankful for their sacrifices so we can be here enjoying our mission in the year of 2013.

 At our home in Hooper we have a David Jackson painting hanging above our fireplace.  It is of the first Nauvoo temple.  The setting is much like this picture of the second Nauvoo temple.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stand in Holy Places

Zions Camp, Missionary Apartments and Gigi

There is lots of road construction here, but they have a sense of humor

By Debi:

I am back! I have been in West Virginia for ten days.  Our daughter delivered her sweet baby girl on October 31st.  We now have a Halloween baby.  I have to say she is the cutest little goblin I have ever seen.  I know that some might say I am prejudice but I am sure I am right this time.

I had a great time holding down the fort while my daughter went to the hospital.  Aurora, 3 years old, and Dash, 19 months old, kept me very busy.  We played hide and seek, house, and hours of swinging in the back yard.

Millie and Robert brought home a beautiful baby girl named Georgia (nickname Gigi).  Even though she was three weeks early she weighed 7 lb. 14 oz. and 21 inches long.  Two days later she was readmitted to the hospital with a very serious case of jaundice.  I stayed with Millie and Georgia while Robert stayed home with the children.  It was a very special night for me.  I held little Gigi’s hand for most of the night. As long as I held her hand she was quiet and calm, but if I let go, she would start to become restless and agitated.  I am so grateful for the strength I received to be able to give the support needed throughout the night. The Lord knows and loves us and does support us in our times of need.

Mother and baby are now home and doing great. I love this little family and I will forever be grateful for this wonderful experience with my family.

There is no rest for the weary.  The morning after I flew back to our mission Greg and I went to the Liberty Stake girl’s camp for a day of service. The new girl’s camp is called “Zion’s Camp”.

It is on property that the early Saints owned and lived on.  It is also near the site where Joseph and Hyrum were tricked into coming out to meet with General Lucas.  They were arrested and sentenced to hang in the morning.  Through the determined support of General Doniphan they were not shot on the spot but were arrested and taken to Independence and then eventually to the Liberty Jail.  Greg and I are so amazed how almost every area we visit is filled with Church history.  What a solemn feeling we felt as we stood on the very site of Joseph Smith’s arrest and we pondered the feelings and heartbreak that he must have felt. This new girl’s camp is in a beautiful place full of history. It will be a great blessing to the Young Women and the members in this area for many years to come.

Distance does make the heart grow fonder.  Since I have been back Greg has spoiled me with his love and attention.   While I was away I missed celebrating our 40th anniversary. So Greg took me to a very nice restaurant last night and we had a wonderful time being together.

I am so thankful for Greg and his love and devotion.  Not only has he been my companion on our mission but he has been my companion for 40 years during the good and the hard times of our journey here on earth.  I am looking forward to many more years and then onto the eternities.


By Greg:

Sometimes I am so stupid.  Friday night I was to pick Debi up at the airport when she arrived at 11:00 pm.  Well, I had a meeting from 7 to 9:30 sort of close to the airport.  The KCI is way north and I did not know what to do so I went to a big building near there and waited in the parking lot next to a big pond.  While there I listened to “The Savage Report” on the radio.  I think I actually fell asleep.  When I woke I realized the cabin lights were also on.  I thought, “Oh Crap! (Sorry, that’s what I thought). I have probably run my battery down.” Sure enough, it would not start.  No one was around for a jump, and it was 10:45.  How could I get to Debi?  Then I remembered that this is why I have AAA.  I called, thank goodness my GPS map still worked so I could tell them where I was and soon Mel’s Towing came and jumped me at 11:15 and Debi called at 11:20 and I was there at her gate just like nothing had happened.  I considered not telling her, but, hey, crisis plus time equals humor.

I spent the entire time Debi was gone with Elder Lillywhite.  We have been trying to locate and rent 8 apartments, each in a different city, and stock them with furniture.  I have gone with him to thrift stores, estate sales, more thrift stores, yard sales, more thrift stores and second hand furniture stores.  We do not buy used mattresses, so we are now best friends with the local “cheap mattresses for sale-still in box” guys.  We are also on a first name basis with the used appliance guys. We put washers and dryers in apartments that have hook-ups. This is what our "Bat Cave" looks like on the inside.

President Keyes has instructed us to find clean, safe apartments that do not overlook swimming pools or other distractions.  He wants them to have plenty of natural light (he has found dark basements lead to depression in some missionaries).  Each set needs two beds.  They must sleep in the same room, but in separate beds.  They each need a desk and a good study chair, as well as a dining table of some kind, with chairs.  We also try to give each set a couch, a dresser, a book case and perhaps some soft chairs.  We have found a lot of lazy-boys.  We hope that means the chairs, not the Elders.  We also stock them with all the kitchen and bathroom stuff.  Each set also gets an ironing board, an iron, toilet brush and a vacuum.  We hope they know how to use each.  I come home very tired each night.  I don’t know how Elder Lillywhite (I call him either Chief or Captain o’ my Captain) does it.  He is truly a great soul! Debi has been wondering what I have been doing.  I keep talking about our "Cave" so she has gone looking for me.  Actually we don't know what this is, but it looked pretty cool.  It is probably a storm shelter of some kind.

We were at the Stake Center working in the “Bat Cave” and we realized that there was a big event going on.  It was in the middle of the day.  I inquired and found out one of our members died and it was his funeral.  He is a Polynesian and was part of a family that had 14 children.  He was in his early 40s and suffered a heart attack.  The entire group of people attending seemed like Polynesians.  There is a sizable group of Pacific Islanders living here.  Anyway, they hired a horse drawn hearse to take him from the Church to the cemetery.  I took this picture as they were setting up.

After 10 days of lifting and moving furniture, we went to the girls camp (they are calling it Zions Camp) and spent a few hours lifting and hauling logs.  Debi built this pile of logs almost as tall as she is.  It gave us a special appreciation for the early pioneers who cleared this land with axes and hand saws.  The men were using chain saws and free missionary labor.  Their plan is to make this a mini-Heber camp.  It is a great place and a great plan.

The real Zions camp was a group of 229 Latter-day Saint men who answered the call to travel the 1,000 miles from Kirtland to Missouri.  The Saints had been instructed by the then Govenor, David Dunklin of Missouri that if they gathered together a sufficient group of men he would join them with the Missouri militia and help restore the Saints to their lands in Jackson County.  Joseph Smith received a revelation (Section 103) to call men to this service.

They were engaged during May and June of 1834.  This was Joseph’s third visit to Missouri.  The average age of the men was 29, the youngest was 16, but one man was 79. 

When word reached the Old Settlers that a Mormon army was on its way all “heck” broke loose.  The Missouri Mob/Militia gathered to meet the Mormon Camp/Militia at Fishing River.  This would have been a terrible battle except a fierce storm arose and the Missourians dispersed.
This is near the Fishing River site.

The Governor withdrew his offer and eventually the Camp disbanded.  While they were waiting for further instructions a cholera epidemic broke out killing 13 of the camp.

Most historians point to the fact that 8 of the original 12 apostles were in the camp.  All of the original council of Seventies was in the camp.  Also, this was a great training experience. 

The Lord later told Joseph that the land around Far West was Holy.  This new camp is very close to the Far West Temple site.  The Liberty Stake motto for their Young Women is “Stand in Holy Places”.  This is a fitting challenge for all of us!

Also, they had Tee Shirts that said their girls were "On Fire".
Perhaps many of the things we do in live, even the really hard things, are "training" for something to come.  The brethren learned a lot about moving people and things in Zions Camp.  Also, they learned to follow their leader.  This was not easy for Americans in the early 1800s.  These people were, by nature, very independent.  But if they were to become "one" as the Lord called them to be, they needed to submit their will to that of the Lord.  Much of what we do is to help us to do this as well.  Even girls camps are focused on this training.  I hope we are all on fire and that we all stand in holy places.