Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Living and the Dead

Do you see anything strange about the photo on the right? Can you find the cruise ship behind the oldest cemetary in Portland, Maine. Ships' captains, early residents of the 1700's, Revolutionary and Civil War veterans, even a couple of folks of ill repute are buried here. A Scout of Falmouth, Maine, did an eagle project of restoring records here.
When we stopped at the Gnesta Inn in Newport Vermont, the lovely proprietor shared with us her enthusiasm for genealogy, having traced some of her family back nine generations. The Inn reflects her Swedish ancestry. As missionaries, we proclaim the good news, the gospel that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that all must come unto Him. We also excitedly share our conviction that those who have died will also have preached to them, the gospel. (Doctrine and Covenants 138: 30-33; 1 Peter 4:6)

At a rest stop in Vermont, President and Elder Grow pause and consider the sacrifices of those who serve and have served in the military. We are over and over grateful for the sacrifices of members here. Their sacrifices reflect their love for the greatest sacrifice, our Redeemer.

How do you like the street sign in Newport?
It is across from the overlook of Lake Memphremagog. (So with all the names of rivers and lakes in New England - Meduxnekeag River, Pennamaquan River, Umbagog Lake-- do you think we live in area that speaks another language?) Fall is beginning to kiss the trees you see in the foreground. Actually the majority of the lake is in Canada. We sadly say good-bye to our last Canadian missionary this coming Tuesday.

Variety and Very Humbling Days

Missionaries come in as many varieties as these mushrooms we saw on a hike in western Vermont. (We can go on a walk in the woods within minutes of most areas.) With so much variety comes an equally great variety of personalities and problems. After having read our blog, someone commented that it appeared that all was well with nary a bad day nor a discouraging moment. Fortunately hindsight and journal reports both generally capitalize on the sunny days and smooth sailing. The sail boat in Casco Bay floats calmly on a gorgeous autumn day but just as certainly there will come mighty winds and torrents of rain. More characteristic of New England is rain and clouds. We attest to the rain and clouds that come. Hardly a day goes by that we are not reminded of our dependence on God or of our human frailties; we can attest certainly of the truth of Ether 12:27: “If men [mission president and wife] come unto me [Jesus Christ] I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

September - Learn, Lift, Lightened

September was full, 140 ish interviews for President, teaching and meeting in each zone. To the left, the Laconia district meeting and the to the right a Concord zone leader teaches the KNOW- FEEL and DO of teaching. (Preach My Gospel, 20)

September was also a richly inspiring, uplifting visit of Elder Scott C. Grow and his wife Rhonda. (Remember his address in April conference?) Sister Grow shared with Sister Thomas and I a Portland harbor cruise. The Grows really did serve as “lights” to us. Note three of the light houses in Casco Bay area of Portland.

New Training - New Missionaries - New Enthusiasm

New changes and challenges. Renewed enthusisam for the work. Homesickness. Fresh insights. New missionaries. Now, the end of September and again the president is struggling with the transfer board. It stretches his soul and the knees on his suit. Soon we welcome 12 new missionaries. We are seeing great results of the new 12 week training for new missionaries. New missionaries. New enthusiasm. New homesickness. New growth for the trainers. During the orientation for new missionaries and their trainers (Trainers are the life blood of the mission.) the companionship gets all tangled up trying to solve the riddle of the strings attached to their wrists. As they apply together the principles of companion unity, study and prayer, life gets must less complicated.

Joy and Sweet Sorrow - Departing Missionaries

Time has disappeared since the end of August when several outstanding missionaries returned to their family homes. Highlights of mission departures: 1. For President, the departure interviews. One he had permission to share. The young man who had given a full measure when invited to share how his mission has affected him, he said in essence, “I didn’t know who I am when I came out. (He looked up at a picture of the Savior with tears of gratitude.) For me, it is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “
2. Another is the privilege of serving in Boston Temple the final day in the mission.
3. We love the testimonies borne by those valiant missionaries at the transfer meeting.
4. Another is our gratitude for those who have declared with full purpose of heart the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, “the founder of peace…who has redeemed his people.” (see Mosiah 15” 14-19, Isaiah 52:7) Usually then their feet—okay their shoes are not beautiful upon the mountains.

More on Vermont and flooding

Even with the massive flooding native Vermonters' wry humor was expressed in a local newspaper. Other Vermont humor well describes driving in the state of forested rolling hills which are breath-takingly beautiful in October.
Despite the long winters, there are numerous fruit and vegetable stands during late summer and fall with huge tomatoes, blueberries, cucumbers, corn….

Note the Vermonters' descriptions:
1. Your idea of a traffic jam is 10 cars waiting to pass a logging truck .
2. You measure distance in hours.
3. You know all 4 seasons; almost winter, winter, still winter and construction.

For many pictures of the flooding in Vermont, see this site:

Joseph Smith Memorial - Look Heavenward

Pardon the picture that looks like the photographer had her head cocked - there is nothing 'crooked' in the granite shaft that points heavenward at the Joseph Smith Memorial. We were privileged to have Elder Scott C. Grow and his wife Rhonda come to the mission on a scheduled tour Spetember 16-22. Pictured with Elder Grow and his wife Rhonda is Elder Schuck who with his wife serve as the directors of the Memorial.

After a day of constant drizzling rain, the sun parted the clouds. Really we do have sunshine in New England along with much rain! How else would we have so many trees and such incredibly beautiful foliage in the fall?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Things Denote There Is a God

Heavenly Majesty – Hubble Telescope Photos at Joseph Smith Memorial

“All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it,
yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” Alma 30:44

Not only the indoor displays, but the grounds at the Memorial testify of the Creator. Flowers, trees, yes, even the rain create peace. But most remarkable is the ‘spirit of place,’ that which defies words but permeates the soul.

Thanks Irene

Hurricane Irene hit Vermont with a fury purported to cause the worst flooding since 1927. Traveling in South Royalton only days after we photographed the Vermonters’ raw humor in the sign on what was only a week before a thriving eatery. Missionaries in areas surrounding the flood damaged farms and towns helped in clean up. The Valley News of mid valley Vermont announced the condition of flood ravaged areas and clean-up efforts, “Basically we’ve got to clean all the fields off before we bring tractors through, [Liz Edsell ] told the group of men, most of them Mormon missionaries…”
Missionaries helping hands