Friday, November 30, 2012

Gingerbread Creations!

The Princess got to play in the dough...

While the boys got to play in the candy!

Miller had his house picked clean before pictures were taken!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

First Tooth

For two days Miller has been wiggling his tooth, sometimes with tears, sometimes with annoyance, he wanted it out! "It's so slippery I can't pull on it!"
Chewing apple slices, he swallowed the tooth.
It's out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fish Eye Lens Funnies

 Serious Nose Jobs...

Enlarging their Brains...

Mr. Incredible chins...

"Eye see..."

Here, 'Ear...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Traditions are what makes holidays so wonderful!

And sharing traditions with dear friends makes traditions more meaningful.

Lots of service...

Lots of laughs... 


Lots of hobbies...

 Lots of time spent with those we love...

Lots of thinking...

Lots of baking and eating!

"Our strengthened family cultures will be a protection for our children from “the fiery darts of the adversary” embedded in their peer culture, the entertainment and celebrity cultures, the credit and entitlement cultures, and the Internet and media cultures to which they are constantly exposed. Strong family traditions will help our children live in the world and not become “of the world.” L. Tom Perry

Monday, November 26, 2012

Letter #18

Dearest Family & Friends,

You should know first what a support you are to me :- ) Letters, it would seem, are a missionary´s vitamin and this week I received four particularly wonderful doses.

But, it was a long week, and very, very challenging. For starters, I think the fatigue of the last 2 months or so finally caught me and my body shut down for a day to repair itself. And it hasn't quite started back at full strength yet. But, as it always does, the work goes on!! Aside from the physical trials, there was some spiritual stress when seemingly, impossibly out of nowhere both of our candidates for baptism fell.

One obviously missed or forgot the part about not drinking "Cerveja" or beer, and so it was that the day before his baptism we passed by to his house in the car of a member only to see, on the way, the entire family enjoying a nice afternoon at the bar. Oops. We parked around the corner and walked around to talk with him, but alerted by his younger cousin and apparently feeling guilt (as he well should) he "fugiu", ran away. More unfortunate was the straight faced lie from his family that he had ever been there at all. It was certainly a sad day, but I count it a blessing as I would never want to present someone to the Lord, to enter in at the straight and narrow way, when they would not benefit from it at all. We will give him another shot this week and see if the fruits of repentance are likely to come forth. . .

On a more positive note, we had an investigator was baptized!! She is a fantastic girl and such a light, who cares deeply about the gospel and shows it in her exactness obeying and learning about the gospel. I haven´t received such an in depth and understood analysis over 3 Nephi 11 from anyone, man, women or child.

The path to her baptism on Sunday was not easy either. Her mom was put in the hospital for some kind of sickness and so we went to their house Saturday morning to clean the house and take a little burden off her back. We also gave her (and her pleading roommate) a blessing on Thursday night. Well, to sum it up, we had a very direct conversation late Friday night in the rain, and prayed that they would concede to going to church the next day, which they did, to much warming of our hearts. She was the key to helping this family as now they are beginning to see the blessings of the gospel work in their lives, and we expect both to be baptized before December ends.

I did get both of the packages for my birthday and they were and are wonderful. The missionary shirts from 3x5 note cards are a big hit when we use them to say thanks for lunch :-) And Nutella in large quantities pretty much speaks for itself several times a day, as needed. The cake lingers in the cupboard but will be delicious, I know, because the cake here is different and its one of the differences that I´m not so fond of ;-) Carrot cake should be fantastic on an upcoming rainy p-day. P-Day with the "Presidente" continues to be delayed because, well.... TupĆ£´s kind of a lot out of the way, so it´ll be a while before our efforts are rewarded. 

I do play the piano, every week, usually for one whole Sacrament meeting or for half of one and half of the other as Elder Anderson, our new district leader, plays as well. 

This week I ate several things not rice and beans but they were usually accompanied by rice and beans; ) But every now and then when lunch isn't provided I´ll pick up some sandwiches from the grocery store or make some delicious kettle corn. That is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Barely anyone here knows what baseball is except the contingencies of Japanese that gather together in some parts of different cities. Alas, no such interest here. Occasionally I see ads for American movies and laugh because the title´s been changed to something funny and not very suave ;-)

I confess in having forgotten any sections of the letter I might have added last week to my letters my maybe I´ll add an Alma 26 portion this week. My Glorying, not in my own strength, but in the Lord, section. How I love the scriptures! This morning I read several chapters in Isaiah and Jeremiah and want to share a portion from Isaiah 55:

1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Come, buy and eat. Great is the feast of the Lord and all is "without money and without price." I pray that we may spend our efforts ("our money") on that which has eternal value: the Eternal work of our Eternal God, even our Father in Heaven. I promise, from my own sureness of knowledge, that nothing but these "waters" will satisfy the "thirst" in our lives. He waits, ready to bless us. But, just as a side note, be careful about letting your soul delight in fatness ;-)

With All My Love Your Son,


p.s.- This week I beg off on using my post-script(ural) privilege, haha--pun way intended.

With All Our Love

Hello Tanner!

Thank you for your letter! We love reading every bit. I did not mean to imply that you weren't writing a lot or things not of worth i.e. small plates of Nephi, just, if possible, to write more! I know you don't have long. We'll bless those fingers of yours to type faster.

You mentioned receiving two packages...I hope they were the two I sent for your birthday. _____ Was it a little bit wonderful? _____ Sounds like your birthday celebration was done right. How wonderful to find out you share the same birthday with your first baptism in Brazil.

Can you elaborate on the revenge of having to wear dirty socks all week by your companion? We're missing a few details! Your bar story is VERY interesting, to say the least. Sometimes those in the worst of situations recognize the balm needed to repair the fabric of their life. I hope this is the case with him. Having family that are already members helps tremendously. It's never easy to do it alone. As for your other investigator you mentioned last week, your district leader's mother wanted to share the story from your letter with her son today. She was very excited to tell him about his successful referral.

In regards to your new "petitions" section, I did clean out your email account (interpret deleting letters your uncles mailed you) and I did email Jeremy's mother...thought you might enjoy seeing her response:

Hi Amy Jo -

Yay!! Thanks for the e-mail! We have often thought about Tanner. We would love to hear about how he is doing in Brazil - are you forwarding e-mails or do you have a blog that we could visit? Could we get his mission address? We'd love to send something for Christmas (or New year :). We met Tanner a few times when we visited Jeremy at the Y. He is such a great young man! We were so impressed with him, and Jeremy was so grateful to have Tanner as one of his roommates! 

Your CTM companion found a funny sign at the bus terminal: "It is prohibited to wash your dentures in the fountain." Good times! He also said that one night he thought he was going to miss the bus, and he'd have to walk an extra thirty minutes. "But we said a little prayer on the bus and even though we got to the terminal late, we made every green light and made it just in time to barely catch the next bus!! I’m glad that Heavenly Father looks out for his missionaries!" We love being a part of Brazil wherever we can find it!

We would love to hear about your p-day with your president...what did he have planned for the winners? _____

What a week! When we left you last Monday, because of Thanksgiving, the school week was only two days long. Because Cabell County had the entire week off there was no seminary. It was nice to sleep in a little longer. Hunter did not feel well on Monday, so he did not go either day. Miller enjoyed having him home, as he felt well enough to play chess one day, and was up golfing by Tuesday. Reality will hit tomorrow morning after having been out of both seminary and school for nine days.

Tuesday I met the scouts at the Huntington police department and we were all given a really nice tour. Considering the population of Huntington, their roster is HUGE compared to other departments where I've worked. Looking at the old pictures, it's always been very large, and as the population of Huntington has decreased, the department's has not. Mayor Wolfe was not reelected, so Holbrook's position is tentative. Assuming he can work with the new mayor, he'll be fine. He does a great job keeping the department updated. He's even putting in a store to sell PD items to generate extra income and more universally promote his department in the city. They have a little museum that highlights their history, and a nice memorial to the eight or so officers slain in the line of duty.

There were many activities associated with preparing for the Bach's visit (as cleaning three bathrooms), but it was all worth it. They arrived just after lunch on Wednesday, after not being here for almost two years! I never got around to inviting anyone else for Thanksgiving, so it was a quiet, simple dinner of 11. We missed you and your appetite! We had way too many leftovers ;-) Cooper and I brined the turkey in a big bucket overnight (he named it Stephen), and it was moist! The Bachs brought a box of your grandmother's winter squash she grew in her garden, so I could enjoy that New England favorite. Not to make you moan and groan, like my waistline, but to fill you in the gravy...the turkey dinner also included some yams with brown sugar, green bean casserole, asparagus with bacon, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin and apple pie.

The Bachs brought their usual stash of coins, and the boys have been working on dime, nickel and penny books. There have been lots of games and puzzles. We even had an early celebration of Miller's birthday, and had fun watching his face when we started singing, "Happy Birthday." He looked around the room trying to figure out who we were singing to. At the very end we sang his name, and he raised his fist in triumph. A classic Miller moment. Pure excitement that he was closer to turning six. As he was taking the traditional bite out of the cake, he couldn't. He kept sliding his face around in the frosting. Finally he figured out it was an ice cream cake, which was much harder than cake, and got a good grip.

We'll have to have another celebration, as we had no presents ready, but Porter gave him three light sabers bestowed upon Porter this weekend from his friend, Rushi. They came back to the area to clean out their house, and called Porter to take away old boy treasures. Add in more board games, especially our two train games, more coins, sprinkled with a quick trip to Hillbilly Hot Dogs for their niece who traveled with them, and a not so quick trip to Fat Patty's, and hopefully you can feel the joy of a few days of holiday in Proctorville.

The Duncans also came into town. On Friday Hunter had to pick up his All Ohio Valley Conference golf plaque at the basketball previews, which Fairland hosted.

Porter also went, as he was required to watch varsity. So Dad sat with them at the high school while we visited with the Duncan family. There's always way too much fun and laughter hanging out with them. All Sis. Duncan wants for Christmas is her own weapon, so they and the girls spent Saturday at the shooting range while we enjoyed the two younger children and Jane. She's huge! 136 pounds big. I made gingerbread house pieces for nine, and we spent Saturday putting the houses together, and then decorating them. They're beautiful! Sis. Bach and Cooper always do such an amazing job. I know I don't have the patience to decorate so intricately. Sis. Bach also finds the coolest Nerd ropes in red, green and white. I'll post a few pictures, but you'll have to wait until you can peek next week.

Today at church I had to go an hour early to play the piano for soloists in the up and coming Christmas program. I played the organ in sacrament. I played the piano in Primary. I got called into Priesthood to play the piano for a song practice. I walk into Relief Society and their singing a capella. I stayed after church for an hour for choir practice. Five hours of playing. Truly the gift that keeps on giving. There are times when I contemplate whether or not I want the gift my mother gave me, and I gave to you, but I don't have to contemplate very long. I'm happy to serve. Do you get to play every week? In what meeting? _____

The ward Christmas dinner is also approaching. A couple of weeks ago your Dad was asked to play the inn keeper. Last week Cooper was asked to dress in tan and be the camel. This week Hunter was picked to be Joseph. These things happen frequently when you have a family of boys. The Christmas story is all about boys, men and animals. Except for Mary. Maybe a few girls were in the heavenly host singing to the shepherds. We'll see what happens next week.

Dad has a few questions for you, such as tell him about one thing you ate this week that was not rice and beans. Something you enjoyed, that's fairly substantial, that would be fun to talk about. _____
Dad also wanted to know if you knew Brazil played Panama baseball in the first round of the Panama Classic, and won both games. Are people there excited about baseball? Are they aware that Brazil advanced? Panama was the better team, so their wins are a bit of an upset. _____ Your father also wants to know if in your travels you see advertisements for American movies. _____

I better close. It's almost 11:30 p.m., and I've got to get up for seminary in the morning. The Duncan girls are coming just for fun, before they head out of town, so I'll have 11 in class, plus the Bachs in the house, and two parents. Who's counting your six siblings and parents? I'll be making cinnamon rolls. We truly do love you, and pray for you all day. We don't pray for baptisms, but that you'll be blessed for your desire, your obedience, and your love. From us to you, Mom and Dad.