Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Nazi Officer's Wife

While home for the day I was able to finish reading a great book The Nazi Officer's Wife written by Edith Hahn Beer.  This is a true story and as I was reading it I realized that I was gritting my teeth.  The story was about a Jewish girl who was living a pretty idyllic life in Austria as Hitler came to power.  You are able to see the subtle changes and then the blatant mistreatment of the Jewish population.  Edith Hahn shares her story so her daughter will understand what her history was.  Although it is painful to see what she and others went through I believe this is an important book to read especially at a time when religions are under attack in so many ways.  Although I have read much about the Holocaust this was a different aspect because she was able to hide in plain sight and managed to move forward with the help of both Jew and Gentile.  I believe this is a definite must read for history buffs.

Storm Watch

Sister Missionaries are Awesome!
We are having so much fun just experiencing things that had never happened to us before.  Take the weather.  The day before Thanksgiving it started to snow and 12 inches later and two and a half days without electricity we had our first introduction to a snow storm. Now jump forward to January.  We get an alert on Sunday evening saying a huge storm is expected with anything from two to three feet of snow coming with it.  I vividly remembered what 12 inches looked like so I was feeling a little nervous and I also knew I needed to find a few things that we could eat that didn't require any cooking if the electricity goes out.  Ben had told me that grocery stores are pretty hairy at times like this so I chose the most expensive store in Concord and went shopping on Monday.  I only needed a quart of milk, some fresh fruit, and a loaf of bread.  My thought process was that the cheaper stores would be more crowded than the most expensive one.  I was right.  I went in and picked up what we needed and was out in about 20 minutes.  Check that off.  Now we wait!  At about midnight Monday it started snowing here and continued to snow until about 7:00 p.m.  The governors of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all told us to stay off the roads--and we did.  I worked on a Pinterest project, read another great book, watched some TV, spent time on the computer, and invited the sister missionaries to come to dinner when I saw them cleaning off the snow from our car.  The Elders had called the night before to tell us that we weren't to worry about the snow on our car because they would be cleaning it off for us.  As it turned out the Sisters had sent the Elders over to a widow's house to clean her driveway so they wanted to clean our car off.

Now after all of that I will tell you the results of all of this preparation, worry, and appreciated prayers.  Only SIX inches of snow, electricity fully functioning
through the whole process, and back to work today.  Life is good.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Back to Normal

My very wise granddaughter Rachel recommended this book and I am so glad I listened to her advice.  Working in the school for so many years I have had serious concerns about the quickness of labeling children as having ADHD or Autism.  Dr. Gnaulati put into words many of the experiences I had dealt with since I often worked with children who had serious social issues and definitely gave teachers a run for their money.  I am not opposed to medication but I don't believe many of the children taking it should be.  Another thing I really liked in reading this book was his recognition that boys and girls are different.  DUH!  Most of us know that but our society has become so gender neutral that they are hurting both the girls and the boys.  I appreciated the different aspects of a child's actions and understanding what is a serious issue and what requires more nurturing, directing, and encouraging.  He also talked about the tendency for narcissism in many of the children.  I definitely experienced that in a number of ways when I dealt with a difficult child and often a difficult parent.  Please take some time to read this book.  It may help you, your child, or your grandchild understand what can be done so they can have positive life experiences.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Missionary Moments #21, January 25, 2015

We had our first red letter day this week when we photographed our 5,000th probate file.  We were excited because that was something tangible that we had worked towards.  We are struggling a little because of not having the materials we need (file folders) because the archive is in the process of moving thousands of boxes around while new shelving is brought in to replace the ones that were coming apart.  When that is done they will move all of the boxes back onto the shelves.  On top of that two of the archive employees are gone and one got another job so our poor leader is doing much of the moving and directing himself.  We have just over two boxes with documents that need to be photographed and then we won't be able to go any farther until they can get the file folders we are needing.  We are almost done with all of the new boxes they brought in for us as well.  We estimated to the Church that we will finish up the county we are working in about late April-early May.  Once that is done we have completed the Rockingham County probate files.  Our next project will be to do Hillsborough County which has the two largest cities in the state.  We will work on that until we come home next year and I'm not sure we will even finish that up.  We enjoyed a trip to McIndoe Falls, Vermont on Monday.  That is where the Duncan side of the family lived and worked and where they heard about and joined the Church.  It was a beautiful area, even covered in snow!  We decided to come back to Concord a different way and were excited to see people skiing down a huge mountain.  I heard that the snow in Utah is better for skiing (from a New Hampshire native!) but they were definitely enjoying their experience.  The snow we got wasn't as much as they had predicted and we only had about four inches on our car.  It stopped about 11 a.m. yesterday and then we have had occasional snow flurries.  My biggest worry was that our electricity would go out again and so far that hasn't happened!  I was glad we don't have church until 1 p.m. so all the roads are de-iced before we get on them.  We had a great time this week with our two sets of missionaries.  We took the Sisters to dinner on Tuesday and the Elders to dinner on Friday.  I can't express enough how impressive these young people are.  Just hanging out with them for an hour makes us want to be better missionaries! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Names

We are still working on files from the 1880s.  Here are some more interesting names I have found as I get the files ready.  Isalea, Ruthella, Alvira, Savilla, Lulu, Trudaine, Ploomy, Augenette, Lutie, Mianda, Bina, Nabby, Erdine, Theodate, Parna, Salona, Shubael, Dorcas, and Fuirrene.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Family History

The Main Road Through Town
McIndoe Falls Library
On Monday Scott and I drove up to Vermont.  He received a great packet of information from his brother Phil about the Duncan side of his family line.  Scott's great-great-great grandfather was John Duncan who married his bride Betsy Putnam in Langdon, New Hampshire in 1805.  They settled in the McIndoe Falls area which is a township of Barnet, Vermont.  We knew that we wouldn't be able to see a lot because everything is covered in snow but we wanted to just check out the area.  It was beautiful!  I took a few pictures but we will be going back to look around more and see if the local library can find information about where their actual homestead may have been.  We ate lunch in Barnet, a good sized town for Vermont or New Hampshire.  Can't wait to do some more exploring in the coming year.  John Duncans' father actually spent much of his life in Londonderry, NH just south of where we are, so we definitely need to keep visiting these wonderful places.  Thanks Phil for helping us get a little view of our wonderful ancestors!
A View of the Valley

Johnny's Brother

This will probably only make sense to our family but today I found out that Johnny Robeck has a brother--Frank!  I have mentioned before that I often see names that make me think of people I know or have known.  Today I found a probate file for Frank Robeck and began to sing Sweet Grandma's song.  One day there was a little boy came walking in the store.  He bought a pound of sausages and placed them on the floor.  Then he began to whistle--he whistled up a tune.  And all those little sausages they danced around the room!  Oh Mister, Mister Johnny Robeck how could you be so mean--You ground up all cats and dogs in your old sausage machine.  Not exactly the right words but when my kids were little my mom would sing this song to them all the time and we would laugh and laugh.  They all turned out okay so don't worry about the should hear the second verse!!!  My mom had the "funnest" songs she used to sing to our kids and one time when Bill was about 18 months old she started singing this song about a camel.  It was wonderful and went on for quite a while.  The minute it finished he looked at her and said "Sing it again, Grandma!"  Unfortunately, she had made the whole thing up so it was a one time treat.  One time when I visited her in the Alzheimer facility in Mesa they had someone playing the piano and they were all singing old tunes.  She hadn't seen me and so I stood back and watched for a while.  Tears came to my eyes because although she didn't know who I was most of the time, she sang every single song without missing a beat.  My mom loved music.

We Made It!

This week we celebrated our first big accomplishment.  We opened, prepped and photographed our 5,000th probate file.  Excited to share!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

War Brides

I just finished reading War Brides written by Helen Bryan. Totally enjoyed the experience.  It was just a pleasure read although I learned much about the war in England from the story that was told.  There was a quote in the book that made me think of my mom and other women of her generation.  The author wrote, "The women who stayed at home are the ones we rarely hear about, those women who kept the home fires burning even while they added the burden of war work to a busy life.  They were wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers, who worried about loved one fighting far away in the armed forces..."  I remember the stories my mom told us about going back and forth across the United States on a train to spend time with my dad before he shipped out to Europe.  She moved back home with her parents bringing a baby boy with her.  She worked at the phone company in Phoenix and other jobs during that time and my Grandma helped with my brother Bill.  The story was about five women who came together during that critical time in history and shared glimpses of what brought them together.  Very enjoyable read if you feel like enjoying a little nostalgia from your parents past.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Day on Cape Cod

Dolphin Restaurant in Barnstable, Massachusetts 
JFK Memorial
Our plan had originally been to go to Cape Cod and then farther south to Rhode Island.  I don't think we realized how many things we would be able to see so we decided we would take another day to visit Rhode Island.  Cape Cod begins as you cross over the Sagamore Bridge and ends in Provincetown at the tip of the peninsula. Because of work being done on the bridge it took us about 45 minutes to get across which meant lunchtime.  We ate at a quaint restaurant called the Dolphin Restaurant.  Everyone there seemed to be local people and in fact much of the area had signs on closed businesses that said "see you in the Spring."  Although they specialized in seafood I had a BLT and Scott had a Poppyseed tuna salad sandwich.  Both were excellent. Once we were fed we headed to Hyannis.  We drove around and saw some amazing houses and bunches of miniature golf courses which looked like they would have been a lot of fun.  While driving we saw a sign for a JFK memorial so we checked it out.  It looked out onto a bay and was quite beautiful.  There was also a memorial for veterans of the Korean War. Our next plan was to find a lighthouse.  Although we followed directions we weren't having any luck so we headed to the next destination which was a bird sanctuary.  Much easier to find.  By that time I was definitely needing a brief nap so I stayed in the car and rested and Scott went inside and enjoyed some bird watching.  You can see his post below this one.  Once we finished there we headed back towards the Sagamore Bridge but fortunately Scott knew the light house name we were searching for and we noticed a sign along the way.  We made a left and drove down to the beach and the beautiful Nauset Lighthouse.

The View From the Memorials
Korean War Memorial
Cape Cod was really great and we appreciated cooperative weather and clear views.  We will definitely go back so Scott can spend more time at the bird sanctuary and maybe enjoy some miniature golfing!

Bird Watching

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the places we wanted to see on our trip to Cape Cod was a wildlife sanctuary on the far north end of the long, thin cape. I thought the birds they would be highlighting would be water birds, like albatross, pelicans, various types of gulls, kestrels, etc. but the birds that I saw were familiar birds, like cardinals, blue jays, and lots of chickadees. There was another small, brown bird, called a field sparrow. There were lots of trees, like maples, spruces and poplars, several types of pines, cattails, scrub oak, huckleberries and other berries.
I paid my three dollars, and went into the inside area with a glass wall and there was  bird seed and the birds were having a good time eating. In this area watching the birds was a family of people, including a young man with a Boy Scout uniform. I asked him what rank he was and he said he was a Tenderfoot. I encouraged him to keep going in Scouts and to achieve higher ranks. We didn't have a lot of time to follow the trails, and it was getting late in the afternoon, so I went back to the car. While I was bird watching Elaine was napping!  We plan to go back in warmer weather and spend more time at this sanctuary.

Missionary Moments #20, January 18, 2015

We spent yesterday on Cape Cod and enjoyed many beautiful sights.  A new storm is suppose to come in this afternoon so we were glad to have a little time away from Concord before the snow hits again.  I will post pictures and information about the trip on our blog this afternoon. Work is progressing nicely and we are working mostly on documents from the mid 1880s. I was taking pictures of a folder which had a newspaper article in it about an upcoming disposal of property.  On the other side was an article that caught my attention--"Suicide of a Snake." Definitely had to read it.  First let me say that I hope none of our grandkids would do something so stupid!  Apparently some men were plowing a field and came upon a good sized rattlesnake.  They were going to kill it when one of them decided that they should test a theory he had heard about.  Starting to sound a little like Myth Busters?  The theory was that if a rattlesnake can't get out of a bad situation (ie. escape from a problem) it will bite itself and die. So using their long whips they kept moving the snake so it couldn't get away.  According to the newspaper article the snake finally reached around and bit its body and died.  From reading that story I remembered the story I had heard in conference a number of years ago about the warrior who encountered a snake who wanted to be carried up a mountain.  At first the warrior refused because he said he knew that the snake would bite him.  The snake promised that wouldn't happen so the warrior relented and tucked him inside his shirt and proceeded to climb to the top.  When he got to the top the snake bit him.  Surprised the warrior said, "but I helped you and you said you wouldn't hurt me."  The snake replied, "you knew I was a snake when you picked me up"  and then slithered away.  Another story about a snake was when Joseph Smith was marching with the men from Zion's Camp.  They encountered a snake and one of them was going to kill it.  He stopped them and with a long branch moved the snake far away from the camp and told everyone to respect their right to live--just not with them.  So here is my analogy--stay away from snakes (SIN)!!  If we learn nothing else in life but this simple thought we will be well served.  Keep away from sin and don't let sin come near to you!  Satan would love to entrap us and once he has us he has no more interest in us and will move onto the next victim in his desire to destroy righteousness.  So remember if you see a snake don't tease it, hurt it, or pick it up!  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Elizabeth Street

I just finished reading this book and it was really interesting.  I totally believe that truth always beats fiction and reading this book reminded me again about how little I know.  Did you know that there was an earthquake in Italy in 1908 and a subsequent tsunami that followed which killed 123,000 people?  I sure didn't.  This book was a story of a family from a little fishing village in Italy.  The husband comes to America and is killed a short time later.  His young wife follows after his death and works to discover what happened.  The story is wonderful and painful!  When I finished reading it I saw in her acknowledgements at the end of the book this wonderful statement.  "My research started in the genealogy library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Countless hours were spent searching through microfilm records to create our family tree.  Now, because of the efforts of a hundred thousand volunteers, many of these records are online at"  If you read this book you will learn about the Black Hand, kidnapping of a child, strength of a mother, and the ability to move forward no matter what is put in your path.  Let me know what you think if you have time to read Elizabeth Street.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy Birthday Owen!

It is hard to believe that you are seventeen years old now.  One more year of high school and you will be pursuing your desire to become a minister in the Lutheran church.  You are such a great young man Owen. The kind of person who always has a smile on his face, an enthusiastic outlook on life, a kind word to say about others, and an incredible ability to make great music.  Whatever you set your mind to I know that you will make it happen.  You are probably one of the most involved teenagers around.  Band, orchestra, jazz band, school plays, tennis team, church activities, 4-H. You do it all and even more impressive is the fact that you do it so well.  We love you Owen and we are proud of the kind of man you will become. The world will be a better place because of you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

Jeremy was born eight years ago.  He has been an enthusiastic participate in life.  His mom wrote in their Christmas newsletter that "Jeremy always has a smile (but half the time it's because he is up to something)"! He is always smiling and observing.  Although we live so far away from their family we love it when we get to visit them.  Jeremy is in second grade and is as smart as his older brother and sister.  He is a great friend to his younger brother and they spend many hours together playing and creating.  He loves Legos, apparently a good joke, and likes math a lot.  So for Jeremy here is a joke to enjoy on your birthday.  Q: What does a snowman eat for breakfast?  A:  Frosted Flakes.  Grandpa and I love you Jeremy.  Keep working hard at school, stay out of trouble!, and keep that cute smile on your face.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Romeo & Juliet--The Real Story

On Friday evening the Tinkers in our ward called and asked if Scott could move their car so the snow scrapper would be able to scrape the parking spaces.  Brother Tinker has a serious heart condition and Sister Tinker had the flu.  He was more than happy to help so he left the apartment and walked over to their apartment where he cleaned off the car and moved it out of the way of the snow plow.   He had been gone for quite a while and I was starting to get a little worried about him.  At about the same time the neighbor above us was slamming things around and I could hear a little bit of yelling.  Not unusual for an apartment complex I thought.  This went on for about 10 minutes and the last time I was sure that someone had fallen over the balcony onto our balcony so I cautiously went up to the sliding glass door and peaked through the blinds.  I didn't see anything so I slowly opened the door to discover that Grandpa was standing ankle deep in the snow and had been throwing snowballs at our door for about ten minutes.  He had forgotten to take his keys and was locked out of the building.  Being the Juliet my response was "what are you doing down there?"  Bad question to ask a freezing man!  He wanted to know what took me so long to look outside and I explained that I was in the apartment by myself and was scared to death by the noises I was hearing.  I then went and retrieved his keys, threw them down to him, and then made him some hot chocolate!  Now if Romeo and Juliet would have had a similar experience they probably would have lived--because they wouldn't have spoken to each other ever again!

Missionary Moments #19, January 11, 2015

This has been an interesting week of weather for us.  Nothing we haven't been able to handle but certainly different than what we are used to.  We had a couple of days of snowfall, temperatures below zero, and rivers and lakes frozen over.  Scott and I decided to drive around locally yesterday because of the roads and we went up to the lake that we found our first month here in Concord.  We also drove to a little town called Franklin where the Bishop lives and a number of other people in our ward.  Beautiful areas and definitely typical New Hampshire small towns.  We saw a group of tents out on the frozen lake which appeared to be people ice fishing.  I don't get it, but catching fish has never had any appeal to me.  In the afternoon we saw the movie Unbroken.  This week we had to give an estimate of our project completion to our supervisor for record preservation.  I estimated we would finish up Rockingham County in the middle of May.  At that time we will begin to work on the Hillsborough County probate files.  The head of the archives said that Nashua and Manchester are in that county and they are the two largest cities in the state.  It looks like we may be doing that until our mission ends next year.  We are about 200 probate files away from completing 5,000 of the packets.  We are going to make that a celebration for sure!  I will be going back to the doctor next week just to finish up from the gall bladder surgery.  We got our hospital bill and the anesthesiologist bill this week. Very thankful for insurance!  Hope everyone is doing well!  Keep an eye on the little ones.  The flu going around out here is really hard on children and we have heard of a number of deaths.  Stay healthy and be warm.

Passing on the Pews

I have to admit that each Sunday when we would go to Church we'd always sit on the left side of the chapel on the first row in front of the door.  If we came a little late and someone was sitting there we were a little disappointed.  I have smiled at many of the wills in which someone is bequeathed the pews at the church the deceased attended.  We don't have paid ministry and we don't have paid seats--we just have to get to church early if we want to sit in our favorite spot!

Paying for church pews started in the 1300's in England.  This practice came to America according to Wikipedia because the churches were not supported by the government like they had been in other countries and selling pews became a source of income for the local churches.  It also provided a social status for the owners of the pews.  In an inventory list I saw this week the appraisers listed six pews appraised at $30.00. According to what I read the idea of selling pews became less popular in England in the 1860's and 1870's and an organization was formed called the Free and Open Church Association which discouraged selling pews.  I assume buying pews in the churches in the United States also went away.  Members of those churches just had to come early too!


Catholic Church
On our trip today we came upon two interesting churches.  The first was in Penacook just down from where we live.  We had never seen it before because of the trees but now that the leaves are gone we noticed this beauty up on a hill and I had to get a picture of it.

Another interesting discovering was a Quaker church (Religious Society of Friends) building.  Definitely not an old one but I don't think I have ever seen a Quaker church building and it made me take an extra look.  According to Wikipedia there are about 87,000 Quakers in the United States.  I have copied here some information about the Quakers from their website.  "Quaker worship is based on silent waiting, where we expect to come into the presence of God. In this living silence, we listen for the still, small voice that comes from God through the Inward Light. Worshiping together in silence is a way for a community to be brought together in love and faithfulness.  During silent worship, anyone—adult or child—may feel inspired to give vocal ministry (speak out of the silence). After the person speaks the message, the silence resumes. Such messages may be offered several times during a meeting for worship, or the whole period of worship may be silent. Someone will signal the close of worship by shaking hands with another person, then everyone shakes hands with those seated nearby."
 There are two different types of Quaker churches.  One has no pastor and the congregation just joins together in worship and the other has a pastor who directs the meetings.  They also don't have a special dress like the Amish do.  According to their website they are welcome to dress any way they would like.
Quaker Church

Winter Beauty

One of the things I love about being in New Hampshire is the wonderful seasons we get to experience.  Right now we are into winter in all its glory.  It isn't like we aren't cold but honestly we have to be out in the weather very little and with coats, sweaters, earmuffs, and gloves the cold temperatures are bearable.  So far anyway!  Another interesting thing is that although the temperature was -16 this week we have not had to turn on the heater in our apartment and we are sleeping under our comforter with no extra blankets.  When we woke up Friday morning our car had about three inches on snow on it.  We had planned to take a trip somewhere but decided we would stay close to home.  We did some exploring around the local area.  That involved driving up to Lake Winnipesaukee to see it in the winter.  There was an area where people were ice fishing and I was able to get a picture of the lake now that it is mostly frozen over.  Here are some pictures of our trip today.
Before we headed out we knocked off some ice.  Sometimes
we have to chip off the ice to open the door.

The same lake in October 2014

Saturday morning in January 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Concord in the Winter

Here are two pictures I took after the snow fall on Friday.  The first is behind the Archives where we work.  I think it looks like a great sledding hill.  The other picture is the Merrimack River which runs through Concord.  It is frozen over and really beautiful.

Capturing Some History

Earlier I told you about what we did to get files ready to have their photo debut.  Now I want to show what a photo shoot looks like in the New Hampshire State Archives.  Once the documents are "fluffed" and ready to go they are put in a box where they wait until we are ready to start taking pictures.  In our previous set of probate work we managed to have about four boxes always waiting to be captured but right now we have just one box waiting for the final step.

This is the area we work in when we are taking
pictures.  It consists of the camera, computer,
the monitor, the surface where the documents
go, and a framed piece of glass that we put over
the documents before we take the picture.
When we are ready to start we take out a stack of folders
that we will be taking pictures of.  Depending on how many
documents are in each folder we usually need anywhere
from 15 up to 30 folders.
Before the picture taking begins we have a process we do each morning.  That involves turning on the camera lights, the camera, and the computer.  We wait about 15 minutes before we actually start so the lights have time to be warmed up and are putting off enough light to take the pictures.  

First the camera is focused.  We have a special target
we use to check the focus.
The lens on the camera has little arrows (we put
them there) to keep our focus in the same area.

Next we check to make sure that the light is
bright enough to get a good picture.
You can see the monitor which shows us
if there is a problem.  Once it is right a prompt will
tell us that we can go to the next step.

The next step is the gray scale.  I don't know what
that is for but again once your go through the
various steps if it is right you are prompted to
go to the next step.
The last step is the LSI.
Again I think it has something
to do with the lines of writing so we have a
number range to use.  Once it is good we
are ready to start taking pictures.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

We do the start up process in the morning but when we close one set of documents and start another set we do check the focus on the camera and the LSI.  Now the fun begins!
This stack of folders is where we get
our documents from.              
We begin by taking a picture of the folder which has the probate file number and the name of the person on it.  We also take a picture of the original probate envelope.
Since doing this I have been able to use
 one hand to turn a document so
I don't have to stop, turn the document
 to the next page and then lift the glass again.
We use a piece of glass on all of the documents so they
are flat which makes a better picture.  

On the left is what we call the key.  When we touch one of the keys it takes a different type of picture, deletes a picture, inserts a picture, retakes a picture, or takes a picture of just the top of the folder.  I would say this is the greatest aid we have to get our pictures done in a timely manner.  Again, the wonderful people who made all of this possible are our heroes.
Once the pictures are taken they go back into the folder
and then are put back into a box which will eventually go back
into the archives.

The final step we take is to download all the pictures we have
taken onto a portable drive that we send to Salt Lake City
each week.  They then go through our pictures and approve
them or ask us to rework them if needed.  

Gotta Brag

If you don't already know it I want to tell you that my husband is awesome!  We have been working on the probate records since September.  I have mentioned in the past that we were excited because we hadn't had to retake any pictures and shortly after the first rework came.  Not a problem--we fix it.  Now to the bragging part, every rework was on folders I took pictures of.  Since we have been here Scott hasn't had to redo any of his pictures.  Honestly, that is amazing and I am so proud of him.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Ellis!

Fourteen years ago Ellis came into our lives and it has been wonderful. There are so many good qualities that Ellis has but the one that I believe is the most impressive is his ability to express gratitude for everything he has or has been given.  If you have read a book you will probably find that Ellis has already read it.  Not only that, he has probably read it more than once.  I often tease him about hating to go to the movies with him because it drives him crazy that the movie is different than the book and he has to let me know throughout the show.  But if I am going to a movie or anywhere else, he is the one I would always call, because he is such great company.  When he sees something that interests him he will study everything about it.  Ellis is an artist.  When I had Cub Scouts he came over to the house and drew a big dragon on the driveway to show the scouts what could be done with chalk drawing.  Ellis is into Dr. Who and a Dungeon and Dragons fan.  He plays the piano.  He is in the cadet corp at his high school and this year was chosen to be on the drill team.  In other words--Ellis is just a great young man.  And he is our grandson!  Happy Birthday Ellis.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Walking on Water

I had done some heavier reading lately and decided I would finish reading the last in a series of books by Richard Paul Evans entitled The Walk.  The final book was about the main character finishing the walk that he started in Seattle, Washington and finished in Key West, Florida.  I read three of the five books and there were wonderful gems throughout each one.  For me the gospel perspective was always present and I never had to feel uncomfortable reading this book because he kept it enjoyable without trying to shock your senses. Two of the things he wrote really spoke to me because of the journey analogy.  He wrote, "The further along we get on our life journey the more we wonder about those who traveled before us and paved the road."  That is actually on my mind a lot probably because we continually have glimpses into people and their past.  It has made me think about my parents, grandparents, and the many greats who came before them.  They are my heroes for so many reasons.  Another profound thought that caught my attention was, "Whether we realize it it or not, we are all on a walk...none of us know what experiences we'll face or who we'll meet along our road.  The best we can do is set our hearts on a mark in the distance and try to make it.  For some the road will seem long, while, for others, it will end all too soon.  There will be days of clear skies and pleasant walking, and there will be long, bitter stretches trudged through storms.  But either way we must walk."  Since my blog is about my "joyful journey" this wonderful book spoke to me in so many ways.  If you have a chance, give this series of books some consideration.  There are great lessons on faith, forgiveness, and hope.  You will also learn many wonderful things about traveling across our great country.

Missionary Moments #18, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year! With a new year comes a change in our meeting times and now we go to church at 1 p.m. instead of 9 a.m.  Great for getting my missionary moments out a little earlier.  I am excited to have the holidays move on so we can get back to working a five day week.  Although we enjoyed the two days off it is almost harder to get back on schedule when there is a break during the week.  We had snow last night. Not as much as we did at Thanksgiving but everything is very pretty outside our window.  This morning the missionaries were down at our car chipping off the ice that had formed on the windows.  Scott had already gone down and cleaned off all of the snow.  They are such amazing young men and when it comes to service they have nailed it.  Earlier in the week the Sister missionaries came to our apartment so that one of them could get a blessing.  She has been having some serious ear problems and Scott and the Elders gave her a blessing before she went to the ear specialist.  On New Years day we went down to Hookset and watched the Hunger Games movie and then came back to Concord and had a wonderful Mexican food dinner at a local restaurant, El Rodeo.  It was surprisingly good and we were very excited to enjoy a little taste of the southwest.  My brother Bill and his wife Bev are completing their mission in Slovenia in March.  They are coming home and then going to visit all of their family.  I am so impressed with all they have done while they have been there.  Not only do they take really good care of the young missionaries but they have worked really hard to strengthen the branch that they are serving in.  Because we were expecting snow yesterday we stayed close to home and after a quick trip to Barnes and Noble in Manchester and a short browse around Hobby Lobby we came home and settled in for the rest of the day.  Scott spent the day reading his new books and I worked on my scrapbook pages.  I almost have a stack of pages to send home to Angela and she can then put them in the grandkids books.

This week at lunch I talked to a co-worker named Steve at the archives.  He is one of the nicest people you could meet.  He retired, I believe from teaching, and now works part time at the archives.  We got to talking about family history and how important it is.  He told me his grandmother started keeping a journal when she was a young mother and kept it until a few months before her death at 89.  He had such love and respect for her and what she accomplished in her life.  A life that to many would have probably seemed mundane.  She also kept track of all the fresh donuts she had made in her lifetime and shared glimpses of her interaction with her family.  Her journals are now some of Steve's most cherished treasures.  Never underestimate the power of your life!

Ben and Becky

Happy Anniversary!  It seems like just yesterday that we sat in your Church in New Mexico and watched you get married.  Eighteen years have now gone by.  How proud we are of both of you for the commitment you made to one another and what a great example you have been to your children of love, sacrifice, and commitment. Hope your day is great.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dirty Snow

It is snowing outside as I sit at the computer.  I am hoping that the electricity won't go off this time!  Most of the snow has melted but when you have a lot of snow it has to be moved so people can drive, park, and maneuver around town.  As a result of that I have experienced "dirty snow."  Today I decided I would take a picture so you could see what it looks like.  Tomorrow it will be covered with a few inches of beautiful white snow and in a few weeks we will have more dirty snow just taunting the sun to do something about it.  We are watching the ponds and edges of the river starting to freeze around the edges and suspect by mid January we may be able to visit a local area where kids ice skate in the winter because the pond has frozen over.  Can't wait to see that!

Christmas 2014

When we came in from work yesterday there was a decorated box sitting outside of our apartment door.  It had come from Angela and Andy and the kids.  What a perfect way to start the new year and say good-bye to 2014.  Christmas was different than anything we have experienced before and yet it was great fun because we visited the beautiful city of Boston, talked with all of our children and most of the grandkids.  We had a little foil tree on our kitchen table and had our Christmas dinner the Sunday after Christmas.  I guess it all comes down to the fact that traditions are made for different reasons and some will stay forever and others will be a one or two time thing.  We are serving in a beautiful area and feel happy that we are able to keep up with the work and at times give a little more than we thought we could.  Do I miss our family?  Absolutely.  Would we do this again?  I think we would.  Do I have any regrets?  None at all.  I know the Lord qualifies whom he calls and we are learning so many things that would have never happened had we chosen to stay home and be comfortable.  Thank you Angela for the Christmas goodies--they were wonderful (especially the letters)--but thank you more for picking up the slack while we aren't at home to take care of our house, our mail, our yard.  Thank you for making this mission easier because we know you and Andy are keeping things going at home.
Angela, Andy, Perry?

Ellis's Side

Ava's side
Caleb's side