Monday, July 29, 2013

Letter #53

Dear Family,

I'm afraid that in terms of great happenings not much happened this week. However, there were lots of little things, the tender mercies I suppose, and that made the whole week marvelous.

For example, I had a division with the leaders of the zone, Elder Faustino and it was fantastic. Stayed the night with the assistants E. Zioli and E. Peterson. Had a blast. Bought a pizza. Good, good times. I think the best part was just sheer work. There was no lack of understanding of what was going to be done the next day. We both just went out and worked our tails off and it was great! Pure missionary work. As great as training is and district leader, I've caught a small glimpse of the best calling in the mission--zone leader. Elder Bennet had already extolled its virtues to me, but I hadn't seen just how glorious it is. Anyway, the best part was that even though we worked and worked we got home with our souls more rested than before. E. Faustino is the man!

Thursday we also worked our tails off, but we didn't have much luck finding anyone at home. We visited everyone and even left with members but to no avail. The highlight came walking home that night I found 75 reais in the street in the middle of nowhere. . . Umm hello!??!? That's been a blessing as we struggle to get people to the chapel very, very far away, usually paying their bus ticket.

Sunday we had a baptism, a boy we have been teaching, along with the rest of the family who are almost all members. We've managed to reactivate the whole family and one son is preparing to leave on a mission. Since he is eight years old it didn't count for the mission but the baptismal meeting had a sweet, sweet spirit that was very nice end to the week, and the sacrament meeting that had a little apostasy in some of the talks, and classes.

We also had a wonderful lesson teaching the wife of a less active member who's interested in the church. We taught the restoration completely and she accepted the invite to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it and also to go to church. And you know what? She went. We marked with her to teach again Saturday and I feel sure that she will move along step by step.

Well that's the lightspeed version. I'm hungry for baptisms! Hope you're all doing well and enjoying Boston. As I approach one year, I had only slightly nostalgic thoughts this week that in one year I'd be there, with you! Can't wait but there's one more to go and so much to be learned, found and applied.

Thank you for being wonderful,



Sunday, July 28, 2013

With All Our Love

Dear Tanner,

What a week! I can relate with you a letter or two ago where you were living out of a suitcase in style. I needed your "book" sooner rather than later as I've been living out of a suitcase for eight days. Just give me your best tip. Then I'll know whether or not I should look forward to your publication ;-) And, come August 1st, I do expect a half-tie kind of picture. Maybe even a tie that is cut in half! Be creative! You only get to celebrate one half-way done moment!

I got this nice note from Sis. Allen. "My son mentioned Elder Schenewark in today's email. So they must be living in the same apartment. My son really struggles with English and your son pointed out to him that he is now making up words that don't exist in English :) It is pretty funny!"

I don't know whether or not you've heard about Elder Bennett's recent convert of May, "Little Bear," nine years old, who was tragically killed. "Elder Bennett and Elder Denna were asked to sing at the funeral and dedicate the grave. What an honor. They sang, God Be With Us Till We Meet Again. They were walking on the sidewalk and a big diesel truck was going uphill when the motor just died, causing the truck to go downhill and the driver lost control, killing two boys instantly and the third was able to get away." So sad! How grateful that family will be, even if later, when they realize what a blessing the gospel is in their lives.

Brazil was chilly this week...maybe even a few snowflakes where Elder Cummings is serving. I sent you a knit hat in your Ensign package...hopefully you'll get it soon! And before it warms up. His area was actually ten degrees colder than where you are, so I'm hoping you're surviving. Are you wearing your suit with a sweater? I'm worried that you don't have a coat!

What a crazy week! I wrote you from the middle of Amish country, visiting because Porter's baseball team was in a tournament. They won their game last Sunday, without Porter. The two teams were very evenly matched, and it was a great game, going back and forth every inning. Monday's team wasn't as impressive, but they fought hard. Porter's team won that game as well. Tuesday the skies opened, and they were only able to get one game in, beginning very late, as the field took a while to get ready. Wednesday evening, which was when the tournament was to finish, was their last game. They lost to a Cincinnati team, and were declared third in the state of Ohio. Not too shabby! We were so thankful to finally be able to go home! (I'll be posting pictures of that trip next week - sorry! I forgot to pack the phone cord. My camera is broken, again, and getting fixed, and I've been using the phone for a camera.)

We toured a few cheese factories, visited a chocolate store, a furniture store, rode in an Amish buggy, had lunch at a BBQ restaurant (just for your father), shopped at an Amish bulk grocery store, and moved to a new hotel the last night. Throw in lots of swimming, evening baseball games, and late night dinners to feed the baseball players (and a few brothers ;-), and there wasn't a lot of quiet time. The families and players did work on a puzzle together in the lounge area. We'll have lots of pictures to share this upcoming week. I even got a haircut, something I hadn't been able to do before we left. Breyer kept us all busy. She was the team mascot, and spent a lot of time with other children who were also traveling. She ended up getting some sort of virus, and had a fever the last day and a half, but is doing fine now. She could not be kept contained in the room. She learned how to open the door and turn the dead bolt lock, and would run down the hallway. We all took turns chasing her and bringing her back! It was much easier to just let her sit in the lobby and watch people.

We arrived home about noon on Wednesday, unloaded the car, did lots of wash, washed all the dishes that had accumulated since we were gone, cleaned the house, and repacked, including golf clubs and baseball gloves, too small clothes of Breyer's going to Ruthie and empty jars for your grandmother. We left Ranger in Larry's care, and were on the road by 7:30 p.m. We drove to 1 a.m. Too late! But it gave us a head start on our 13 hour journey.

We arrived at your grandparent's home just in time for a lasagna and garlic bread dinner. Nothing like a home cooked meal after eating on the road for a week! Grampy had a rough week involving mismanaged medicine, but is on the rebound. We spent Saturday morning working the wood piles, filling in holes in the grass with dirt, weeding, etc. Love working in the yard with my children! And what's their reward? The pool. Everybody loves to go swimming! As we were working on the wood, some of your brothers were less than enthusiastic. One in particular was handicapped every time a creepy crawly crawled out onto the wood we were stacking. So he didn't want to help. Me? I'm much more afraid of the enemies I can't see while stacking wood...the kind that gives me massive cases of poison ivy/poison sumac. Isn't this so true with life. Alcohol is kind of like a creepy crawly we should stay away from, but the consequences from drinking are much harder to see. Your Dad worked with Uncle Aaron all day building his new shed. I'm sure he'll write about it in this weekend's letter

Saturday was the day Grampy took Hunter to Golfsmith to get measured and fitted for a new driver. They had him hit off of a lot of clubs, and concluded that they would love to sell him a new driver, but felt that he needed to work on his swing instead. So he kept his money in the bank. They'll be golfing a couple of times this week, and Grampy will help him incorporate the tips he received.

Saturday was also the day Becky's boy, Joseph, was sealed in the Boston temple. I love going to that temple! Such fond memories of visiting the temple house. I also got to drive there with Aunt Rachael. We always have such wonderful chit chats. Of course Aunt Jenny and Aunt Becky and husbands were there. It's hard to do quiet hugs in the temple but it's like coming home. The ceremony is simple, but Grampy, the sealer, did a beautiful job explaining again why temple ordinances are so important. (The Bachs were there, as well as the Ayers, who wanted to know if they could read your letters ;-) Afterwards we gathered at the homestead for a BBQ and another swim. Tough life! but somebody's got to do it!

Today in church your cousin Sara spoke, as did Aunt Rachael, on their pioneer trek experience. They were both wonderful talks. Their trek had a lot of rain, heavy downpour kind of rain, and everybody was sleeping in that field with thigh-high grass, in puddles. The stake took everybody's sleeping bags in the morning, bagged them by families, and took them to a laundromat to dry them out so they could have dry bedding the next night. By the time they got to the second location (remember that beautiful lake?), the sun came out. There were lots of tears on our bench today. Family is wonderful. Our new phrase is 'tissue issues."

Today after church Grampy had a patriarchal blessing. We tried so hard to be quiet while he was in the back bedroom, for close to an hour. But nine children aren't easy to keep quiet. In addition, Breyer kept ringing the very loud door bell. Gracie the dog kept barking at the next door neighbor's dog. And I contributed to the decibel level with falling pots and pans, and automatic ice making. We had another big dinner here tonight, with Uncle Aaron's family, the Bachs, and the Whitcombs. Just to include you, I'll share with you that one of the things we talked about was baby Ben. Mom and Dad said that because his gravesite is on the edge of a road, and beautifully decorated with an amazing headstone, it is well known in the community. Especially by those visiting other sites, or using the cemetery as a place to walk. Everybody visits Ben, and a lot leave little treasures. Whenever they work on his plot, planting new flowers, people always stop to talk. We'll be going there this week, and will share with you a picture.

 Your cousin Roger and his sister Sarah are headed to Panama this week. He went with this service group when he was in high school and now his sister is going. The teacher that was to accompany them is nine months pregnant, and asked him to be the chaperone. I asked him how BYU was, especially living with Derek. He said, "One day I was locked out of my apartment, and when finally able to enter, found him inside with six girls." He calls the constant girl gang, "Derek's harem." Life's good for Roger. He looks great!

Well, that's the week in a few words. We'll be working on wood at Grampy's house for a few days, visiting the Ortons in New Hampshire, and lots of other fun stuff with family and friends. We miss you like crazy but wouldn't have it any other way.

And, when I think of you in Brazil, working amongst crazy drivers, lots of alcohol, a few thousand miles away and a hundred other reasons to keep me awake at night, I remember this quote and am comforted.

Love, Mom and Dad

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jamboree - Day Two!

(Disability Awareness)

(New Mining merit badge)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jamboree - Day One!

Parking and riding the bus in...

Watching all the new arrivals from the bus...

Making a rosary at the Catholic Church tent...