Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Words for the Wingmen

Dear Family and  Loved Ones,

WARNING: long letter…
We love you all dearly! Wherever you are, east, west, north or south, we miss you and think of you more than you probably know.

This week was really wonderful and some of that undoubtedly had to do with the apparent permanent arrival of Spring and sunshine. The big news for this week begins on Thursday when AnneMarie and I went to Lowes and bought a new oven! You may recall our other one went out with a big bang. Our landlord lets us take the expense out of our next month’s rent so it wasn’t as much of an expense to us as it was an experience! We had fun perusing the different options, selecting one that was self-cleaning, and dreaming of the day when we do this for our own house. Also, why are in the wall ovens and in the counter stoves like three times as expensive?! Who knows.

Since Friday was the beginning of BYU’s Spring break “Day,” or rather the only day of the break, Thursday night was the beginning of our festivities. We kicked them off with a big game of Ticket to Ride. AnneMarie and I make it interesting by both playing with two teams at the same time which adds a level of complexity needed when you’re only playing with two people. I can’t remember who won, but it was a blast.

Friday, Porter and I have an assignment for our religion class that has as one of its options the choice to tour Welfare square or the Church History museum. We opted for a bit of both and headed off for our tour at Welfare square at nine in the morning. When we arrived to pick Porter up we discovered that his festivities must have begun the night before as well so I had the distinct pleasure of ripping his blanket off and yelling good morning in Portuguese. I’ll bet he rues the day he taught me how to get into his hall, muahaha, though maybe not cause we had a blast that day.

Our tour was small, just us and two other people from Utah. Our tour guides were, incredibly, two sisters from New Zealand and Brazil. We thought of both of you Elder Schenewark and Sister Pace, and had a good time telling them about where you were serving. It was a sweet experience to witness how some of our donations are put to work feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, and I personally enjoyed the several opportunities we had to share our own testimony of ways that the welfare principles or other principles of the gospel have been active in our lives. On a less spiritual note, just getting any behind the scenes tour of a factory etc. is fun. Highlights include the dairy production plant which does milk, cheese, and other related products. We got to sample all the chocolate milk, cheese, bread, honey, etc. that we wanted to try and my favorite was learning about the process used to make the cheese. Let’s just say, it looks a little different before it arrives at your table! Also interesting was learning that, while you can volunteer at most parts of Welfare square without much hassle, a volunteer slot at the bakery requires getting on a wait list of over a year. Couldn’t tell you exactly why except these Utah peeps love their baked goods. Lastly, it was interesting to find out that the church’s canned goods are manufactured to a much higher standard than your typical grocery store food products as they strive to offer the very best they have as an offering to the Savior.

From there we headed over to Temple Square and introduced Porter to some of the sites. Then we went and tried out the brand new Family History Center Discovery experience that opened up last week. It’s a super cool way to interact with your family tree, learn more about yourself and your ancestors and hasten the work. I was most excited about walking into a room full of people that knew more about family history than I did and whom were willing to share that expertise. Picture from our experience are attached. If you’re in town, don’t miss it!

Lastly, since we were short on time, I ran Porter over to the church history museum to catch what I thought was one of its best exhibits: the new First Vision video. The theater is small and set amid a 200+ degree screen that wraps around you. The video incorporates many of the different recorded First Vision accounts and is truly powerful. The Church’s new Foundations of the Restoration class and resources such as this exhibit have definitely helped to expand my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. I think Porter really enjoyed it as well.

To top off our trip we visited our new favorite restaurant in Utah—Sawadee Thai cuisine located on South Temple not far from Temple square. This place not only has the best bang from the buck, the food’s delicious and the décor is insane. If you come for a visit, we’ll take ya for a visit. Full tummies and happy hearts were on display on the way back as my two traveling companions were either enthralled in deep visions or passed out in their seats.

Man, this is getting long and I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff! Friday night, AnneMarie and I took off for St. George with her best friend Caitlin and Caitlin’s fiancée Tucker. We stayed at Caitlin’s grandma’s empty house Friday night through Sunday afternoon and it was a BLAST.

Friday night, after a fun ride down, we grabbed In-n-Out and a Redbox movie for a relaxing evening. Then, Saturday we left early to hike in Zion’s National Park. That was my first time there and it did not disappoint.

We hiked Angel’s landing which is a completely insane trail that climbs straight up to a pillar that overlooks much of the park. It involves navigating steep switchbacks and narrow parts bounded by chains, but leaves you something like 1,500 feet above the canyon and Virgin river. AnneMarie’s hiked this quite a few times so I followed her lead the whole way. I love hiking!

 After our hike we drove through the Zion’s tunnel built in the ‘30s that goes straight through the mountain for a mile. Highly recommend that as part of your Zion’s experience as well. We stopped at a rock shop by the park entrance on our way home and discovered one Sister striving to share the gospel in her own way, with Books of Mormon all around the shop upheld by her hand carved gemstone book ends, and in all different languages too. We had her share her story with us and it warmed our hearts to hear of how she gave these out free to people from all over the world as they came to look at her gems. The real pearl of great price, it turns out, wasn’t any of the rocks!

Saturday night we swam/hot-tubbed, went out to eat at Olive Garden, and watched The Magnificent Seven, the new version. I thought it wasn’t bad, not a classic, but pretty good as far as movies go these days. Sunday we attended church across the street and took a nice Sunday walk in the Red Cliffs conservation area before cleaning up and heading home. I’ll admit, I asked AnneMarie 5 or 10 times if she’d like to live in St. George, though perhaps I wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic in the summer. We had wonderful weather and good friends to enjoy it with, and I’m glad we took advantage of the only Spring break I’ve had.

Okay, that’s enough Newsing for this week. We love you and miss you all.

AnneMarie and Tanner

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