Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 19, 2014

    It is hard to believe that this was our last week in the mission.  It was such a busy week.  But as usual, the busiest weeks are the best weeks.
   Monday we received 7 new missionaries.  What was unusual was that they were all Elders.  This is the first time we have not had any Sisters come in on a transfer.  The picture to the left is of the seven Elders that came in.  They are a great bunch of Elders and an asset to the mission.
   The picture below is of the 29 missionaries at the Boston Temple the day before they fly home.  We are missing 3 Sisters as they were late getting to the Temple so they missed the pictures. 
   But with 29 going home and only7 coming in, lots of changes had to be made.  We closed 10 apartments.  This also required moving lots of furniture, bringing in 6 cars, and of coarse 10 phones. So their was a ton of coordination to get everything done. The sad part is that all this moving furniture and cleaning the apartments happens after transfers and after Sister Skidmore and I left for home.  This was a lot of work for Elder and Sister Holm.  We did as much as we could but the physical work couldn't happen until we actually moved the missionaries out. The Holms are wonderful and will do a great job!
  The biggest changes were due to the fact that 17 Sisters were going home and none came in.  So President Stoker had to make lots of changes to the rest of the mission getting all the Sisters taken care of.
   The picture to the left is of us with Elder Quinn and Elder and Sister Holm.  Elder Quinn is such a big man.  He plays football for BYU.  I wanted to get this picture because it showed his size.  Every time he would see me he would give me a great big hug at which time he would lift me off my feet and crush me.  He is a great Elder and we love him. 
   The Holms are from Idaho Falls and this is their 3rd mission.  They sure work hard and are so wonderful. We love them so!
   The next picture is all of us at the Boston Temple.  What a great group picture.  We love these missionaries so much and are so excited for them to return home to the families that love and miss them.  Words can hardly express the love each of them have for the Lord.  It is shown by their dedication and hard work for Him.  The world is a better place because of them.  The future of the Church will be good hands as they continue with their lives and hold to the iron rod.  They are our friends.
   The next picture is of MLT (missionary leadership training) meeting.  President Stoker changed this meeting to Friday because he wanted to train all the new Zone Leaders,  

District  Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders that occurred because all the leadership going home.  It was our last assignment before we left. There was about 60 missionaries there.  It was a bitter sweet time as we got to say our last good byes.  They all sang "God be with you until we meet again" to us and it was so emotional for us.  Tears were flowing.  It was sweet!
   The next pictures are of me with Elder Harrington and Elder Plyler.  I had so many teaching experiences with each of them.  They were assigned in Manchester for a long time which gave me great opportunities to serve with them.  They were great missionaries and had a lot of success.   I love them both so much!
   We had our 44th anniversary on the way home.  We stopped in Asheville NC and toured the Biltmore mansion.  It was decorated for Christmas and WOW!  It was so beautiful!
   Miriam and I had the most wonderful mission.  We made such good friends and learned to love our missionaries on another level.  But most of all our love for the Savior grew leaps and bounds.  We knew the Lord had restored His Church and that we were a part of it, and this experience added to the testimonies we already had.  Our love for the Work has grown so much!
Now its almost Christmas and celibrating the Lords birth just adds to the spiritual feast we are having. 
   Thank you Lord for this experience!  We love you!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014

  Well we just finished a lot of our lasts here in NH Manchester Mission.  This week was a big week of preparation to leave this coming Friday, December 19th. 
   The pictures to the left are of some of our good friends in Manchester Ward.  We had our Christmas party last Friday night.  It was dinner with some Christmas Caroling and Santa did come.  The top picture is us the Bishop Dickson.  He was converted 12 years ago and he is a wonderful Bishop and person.  The far left is me with Keith Stickney.  He taught the Gospel Doctrine class and Miriam and I got close to him and his wife.  His wife, Linda, teaches early morning seminary.  They are wonderful.  Miriam is with Elaine.  She is just the sweetest lady.  We just love her to death! Everyone was starting to say their good byes and it was so nice.
    The next picture is of President Stoker with his Assistants, Elders Lund and Harper.  They all work so hard running the mission and it was good to see them relax and have some fun. 
   The next picture is of the transfer board in President Stokers office.  Next week is transfers.  We are receiving 7 new missionaries and we are sending home 29 missionaries.  So we have been working on closing 10 areas.  That means 10 apartments, cars and phones.  It has been a ton of work.  We are seeing the backlash of the surge that happened after President Monson announced the lowering of the age for Sisters and Elders to enter the mission field.  I think we will be down approximately 50 missionaries from our high.
   Today, Sunday, 12-14-14, Miriam and I gave our farewell talks in Sacrament Meeting.   Miriam gave a wonderful talk on the light of
Christ and I talked on the miracle of His birth and life.  Jake Baldwin was the youth speaker and he spoke on Revelation.  Everything went well and we were surprised when the Bishop announced that they planned a going away get together for us in the Cultural Hall at the end of the block with cake for all.  It was so nice!!!!
   Then we had the baptism of Joe Rouleau.  All the missionaries in the picture had the opportunity to help teach Joe.  This was the most wonderful way to end our mission. 
   I have been so blessed to be able to teach with so many wonderful missionaries.  There were times when Miriam and I both were able to  teach with the missionaries.  There was a time we had 10 missionaries in our Ward.  This has been the most successful year for our Ward.  We have had over 10 baptisms this year.  Our prayer is that they will grow and continue in the faith.
   The picture below is of the area board showing all the areas we serve.  We are actually in 5 states.  It is really amazing.  We have learned so much!  Missionary work is the best.  We love our missionaries so much.  It is going to be hard to leave this next week.  We have a busy week with transfers and everything. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

   Winter is truly here.  Today the high will be about 20 degrees and it sure is cold. The low last night was 13.  Most of the snow that we got the week before is almost gone however.
   Monday we had all the local missionaries come to the office for Pizza and then they helped us put together the last 90 gift packets.  These are going to be given out to all the missionaries for Christmas. They are sure a wonderful group of missionaries  Starting from the left, Sisters Smedley, Holm, Skidmore, Craig, Frame, Elders Lund, Harper, Vaughn, Harrington, Erekson, Hanning and Pace.  Sitting are Sisters Danner and Tyler.  I took the picture!
    The next picture is of Amy Marquis's baptism.  She was baptized by her nephew, Brendon Herbert, from Baltimore and it was very special.  Elder Plyler and Pemberton were instrumental in her conversion.  I was fortunate to be able to help teach her.  Her parents are members and she took along time and lots of missionaries to finally accept the Gospel.  She is shown with Sisters Smedley and Craig who really helped her in her journey.  Her mother relayed the miracle of her conversion.  She learned in a RS lesson that if you would read the B of M with a person in mind and pray from them, miracles would happen.  It did.  Elders Plyler and Pemberton were in the
parents home for dinner when Amy stopped by and she listened to them.  It is wonderful miracle. 
   I heard Elder Plyler bare strong testimony of the Atonement as it related to his forgiving his alcoholic mother and it was really special.  Missionary work is so wonderful!
   We had dinner last night at the Lacey's home in Derry NH.  They are such special people.  They are so generous as they are always having missionaries over for dinner.  We are with Elder and Sister Holm and Elders Christensen and Perry.  The food was excellent as always.
   This week will be the week of preparation for transfers next week.  We have a lot of work to do getting ready to send 29 missionaries home and only receiving 7.  18 of those going home are sisters.   We are closing 10 areas which is a ton of work.  But it is all good and we will get the job done. 
   We only have this and next week here and it is bitter sweet!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014

     What a wonderful week we just had.  The pictures to the left were taken last Wednesday.  Miriam and I were asked to take Sister Buonforte to the Boston Airport as the flights out of Manchester were being delayed because of the weather.  The snow was just starting to fall and we were a little worried about going.  But we loaded up her luggage and took off.  The closer we got to Boston the snow turned to rain so we had no problem getting there.  Then on the way back, the farther north we got the more snow there was.  It was a wet snow and it stuck to the limbs of the trees and it was beautiful. 
   It is interesting that things that seems to be making things hard, when you take a minute to stop and really look at them, they are beautiful.  We stopped as we were coming into the parking lot to take a selfie.  It was really snowing and we
were having so much fun in it. 
   The next picture is out my office window.  Wow, lots of snow.  When we went home, our lights were flickering off and on.  Little did we know  that thousands of peoples power was going out.  The heavy snow caused lots of branches to break and fall on the power lines.  Actually over 100,000 people lost power.  We got a call from President and Sister Stoker and their power went out and they were concerned about us.  The mission home has a back up generator so we still had Thanksgiving there.  The bottom pictures are of us all there. 
   After dinner we all helped clean up then some put up the Christmas Tree and some of us helped put Christmas treats together for all the missionaries.  Then we all had Thanksgiving pie.  It was wonderful!
   We are now starting to get ready for transfers.  We have been notified that Grace Sewell received her mission call to our mission.  That is so cool!  We feel bad that we won't
be here to welcome her.  But we know she will love it.
   We have 30 missionaries going home and 7 coming in December.  So we are closing 8 areas which mean I have been asked to close 8 apartments.  I have sent out the notifications and preparing to close all those apartments.  Lots of work and lots of extra furniture!
   We have had 2 senior sisters come into the mission and they will work in Maine.  President Stoker has asked them to help with the apartment inspections and that will really help.  We had a new senior couple come to work at the JSM also. 
   Miriam and I have less than three weeks to finish things up and start home.  Lots of emotions are going through us.  We have been asked to speak in our Manchester Ward Sacrament Meeting in two weeks, so its all coming at us so fast. 
   I have been able to teach Christina a couple of times this past week with Elder Pace and Harrington.  She is an awesome lady.  She has 3 kids and life if really hard.  She is reading the B of M and loving it.  I hope she will continue.   I love seeing the excitement and joy people feel as they are introduced to the gospel.  We see her again Monday evening.
   Amy is being baptized this coming Saturday.  She has asked me to say the opening prayer at her baptism.  I was fortunate to help teach her with ELders Plyler and Pemberton. 
   Joe has committed to baptism on the 12th of December.  He is a great guy.  I have been fortunate to help teach him with Elders Harrington and Pace.  It has been so wonderful.   Missionary work is the best.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

   The pictures that are shown are of the new missionaries with their trainers at New Missionary Training.  This is a meeting that is held 2 weeks after they have entered the mission field where they receive training from President and Sister Stoker as well as the AP's.  We always prepare lunch for them and after lunch they play some games before they go back into their classes for more training.  The games they play are pretty awesome as they are usually scripture chases. I am always amazed at how much they know. 
   President and Sister Stoker work hard with the new missionaries as they start their missionary journey.  There is a lot of adjustments to make and some make them easy and some really struggle.  It is the goal always to keep them going because if they continue trying they will
adjust and make it.  This group has some exceptional missionaries but their are a few that struggle.  Their is one sister that has decided to go home.  She leaves this Wednesday and it is sad. 
   I had a wonderful experience teaching with the missionaries Wednesday night.  We taught Joe.  Miriam and I have taken him to church a few times and he is a great young man.  He was struggling with tithing, quitting coffee and some other things.  The teaching with  Elder Harrington and Pace was great.  I asked if he would like a blessing.  He said he wasn't sure what that was.  We explained it to him and he wanted it.  He asked if I would give it and it was so special.  The spirit was so strong.  He said he loved it and had some special experiences while it was given.  He has set a baptismal date of December 14th.  The Sunday before we start for home.  We are so excited for him.
  We had Concord Stake Conference this week end and it was great.  The Saturday night meeting was devoted to missionary work.  All the speakers were converts and gave their conversion stories.  They were wonderful.  President Stoker spoke as did President Anderson.  It is interesting to note that all the converts were former Catholics.  One sister said her boyfriend took her to the visitors center when they were in SLC, showing her everything.  She loved the statue of Christ and the one of Joseph Smith.  After going though the center, she asked where the statue of Jack Mormon was.  She had heard so much about him.  That got a good laugh!  After finding out what a Jack Mormon was she determined never to become one!
  Another sister was a sophomore at Dartmouth University.  She played for the woman's basketball team.  She was from Sun Valley Idaho and had some introduction to the church but never looked into it.  The missionaries found her and invited her to learn more and she thought she would ask "google".  She learned quickly that it was the wrong place to look for answers! She said it was better to ask god not google as to what things are true. While she was traveling with her team, they stayed at a Marriott Hotel and her roommate say a Bible and B of M in the night stand drawer and asked her what she knew about the B of M.  She realized she knew the B of M was true and testified as such.
   She went to Peru last summer on a humanitarian opportunity and she was quite supprised that while there she ran into two sets of Mormon missionaries.  They invited her to church and she loved it as the spirit enveloped her.  She will be wonderful convert.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Novenber 16, 2014

   We had a pretty quiet but very busy week.  The picture shown here is of us with Elders Harper and Lund.  They are the assistants to the president and they are awesome.  Elder Harper is from Arizona and his aunt and uncle are Mike and Patty Pierson. 
   We are working hard to get ready for the next transfer.  We have 9 new missionaries coming in and we have 30 leaving.  This is requiring us to close 10 areas.  This means we have to close 10 apartments, pick up all the furniture and adjust the missionaries all over the mission.
    We anticipate having more missionaries leave in the January transfer than is coming in also.  So it appears that the surge is over and we just don't know how it will all shake out.  But we know we will have a lot fewer missionaries that our high of 226.  We could be down to 160.  This will take a lot of the pressure off President and Sister Stoker. 
   We have 4 sets of senior missionaries coming in the next 60 days and that requires a whole set of work in itself.  But it is all good and work is wonderful.
   Miriam and I are now training Elder and Sister Holm.  They are our replacements.  They are from Idaho Falls and they are learning everything fast. 
   The weather has turned cold and it sure fills like winter.  No snow yet, but it won't be long.  We have received three invitations for Thanksgiving dinner.  We are grateful for that, as we will be having Thanksgiving dinner with the Stokers.  We sure love them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

   This week was so awesome!  The pictures to the left are of the new missionaries that came into our mission last Monday.  We had 15 come in.  10 sisters and 5 elders.  It was wonderful to welcome them into the mission and give them the training they all need just to get started. 
   Tuesday was transfer day.  All the new missionaries were paired up with their trainers and assigned an area.  You could see the nervousness in their eyes as they wondered who they would be serving with and where.  But they were all excited and quickly off to start their missionary journey.  They are a great bunch!
   During the Tuesday morning transfers, the Elders and Sisters going home give their Golden Truths and a chance to bear a short testimony.  They were all wonderful.
    The next pictures is of those missionaries going home at the Boston Temple.  It is always a highlight to be able to go to the Temple with them.  They are such special experiences.  We have served with them and it is hard to see them go. 
   Those going home were Elders Chapman, Crockett, Farnworth, Jessop, Weikes, Warner and Walker and Sisters Brown, Shipley, Taylor, Turley, and Lassen.
  Elder Walker served as an AP just before he left and Miriam and I got so close to him.  We love them all and know they will be great leaders in the church.
   Then last Friday night, the Holms and us went to Pizza Mart for pizza then played Rubicue afterwards.  Sister Holms won with Miriam coming in 2nd and I and Elder Holm pulled up the rear.  We always have fun getting together as senior couples for good food and fun.
   The bottom picture is of Elder Harrington, myself, Rob and Kathleen McCullough and Brother Young (ward mission leader).  What a special Sunday this was.
 Rob and Kathleen have 3 daughters, Heather, Hattie, and Sarah.  They have previously been baptized a few months ago and have been waiting for mom and dad to get ready and follow.  Rob worked hard at quitting smoking and did it.  Kathleen wanted to wait for Rob so they could be baptized together. 
   I was blessed to be able to help teach this wonderful family.  As I have said previously, when we went to their home the first time, I was surprised to see the whole family waiting for us around the dining room table with their scriptures and list of questions.  It was awesome.
   They live very frugally.  Rob works at Dunkin Donuts and Kathleen is a stay at home mom with lots of health issues.  The growth I have seen in this family is remarkable.  I watched Rob approach the Bishop today giving him a donation envelope.  Rob was so happy!  He was so shy and now he talks to everyone.  He told us that he has received a promotion at work which he never expected.  Not surprising to me!
   I love Elder Harrington so much.  He has been a very successful missionary.  His father died a few months ago and he did not go home for the funeral.  He stayed to do the Lords work.  And by doing that, the Lord has blessed him so much. 
    Miriam and I love all the missionaries so much.  They all have a story to tell.  They have sacrificed to be here.  They all love the Lord and they are all learning that service and sacrifice brings the blessings of Heaven.  This is a great work. 
   The Ward has been successful in missionary work this year.  There is another baptism scheduled in 2 weeks and I counted at least 5 investigators in Sacrament Meeting today.
   It has turned cold and we are wondering when we will get our first snow here in Manchester.  It has already snowed in northern Vermont, NH and Maine.  Maine got tons of snow last week.  But the time is going fast and before you know it Miriam and I will be on our way home.  Our release date is December 19th.  Goodness!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014

    The three pictures to left is of the zone conference held at the JSM for the Montpelier and Concord North Zones.  It was wonderful as was the other two.  The missionaries were taught how  to teach using the Book of Mormon.  President Stoker always does such a wonderful job in teaching the missionaries.
   The next picture is Sister Skidmore and Sister Holm's with the sister missionaries at the zone conference.  They are always such a delight to be around.
   After the zone conference we took the Holms through Queechee and Woodstock.  A lot of the leaves have fallen and it wasn't as beautiful as when we took our children there just a few weeks earlier, but it was still very pretty.  We shopped at the old country stores and even did some Christmas shopping.
    We are enjoying serving with the Holms.  They are very hard workers.  President Stoker has told them that they will be doing our jobs when we leave the mission next month.  So they will have a lot to learn as they have just learned to do the Pettingills job.  But they are willing to do what President Stoker asks and we sure love them for that.
   The zone conferences were over after Tuesday and all our energies were focused on the upcoming transfers.  There is always a lot of work to do to prepare for transfers.  President Stoker seems much more relaxed this transfer and we are all happy about that.  We are ready
 for tomorrow when the new missionaries arrive.  It is always very busy but so wonderful to greet the new missionaries. 
   The next picture is all of us with President and Sister Stoker at Carrabas.  We went there for dinner for Halloween.  The dinner was great and then we went to the mission home and played 5 crowns.  And would you believe I actually won this time.  The first time ever.  We had so much fun and Sister Stoker made the best apple cake which we enjoyed with ice cream.  It was such a good Halloween, even though we missed our grandchildren and their costumes.
   We had a wonder Sabbath today.  The next two
pictures are of Miriam going into church showing all the leaves that have blown to the steps. Today it is cold and the wind is blowing.  It feels like winter.  She played the piano at Sacrament Meeting which she will do this month.  She always does such a good job.
   It was Fast and Testimony Meeting the testimonies were wonderful.  We had lots of missionaries bare the sweetest testimonies.  They know that they will be transferred this Tuesday.
  Amy Herberts (scheduled to be baptized at Thanksgiving) mother came up to me and shared how is was a miracle that her daughter has accepted the Gospel after being so stubborn for 20 some years.  She shared the miricale of her coming to their home when they had the missionaries there for dinner.  She just showed up and she hit it of with Elder Plyler and Elder Pemberton.  They love these Elders so much.  I was able to bare my testimony of my love for the Savior and His Church and my love of these wonderful young missionaries.  The spirit was strong and it set the stage for wonderful block of meetings.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26, 2014

   We have had a great week here in the NH Manchester Mission.  The top two photos are of zone conference in Exeter New Hampshire last Tuesday and the next two photos are of zone conference in Augusta Maine held last Wednesday.
   President and Sister Stoker had just returned from the Mission President Conference held at Palmyra NY where Elder Holland was the presiding authority.  President Stoker shared some of the things he said.
   "The Sacred Grove is the most sacred place on earth next to the Garden of Gethsemane".
   "The miracle of this dispensation is the Mission President and his missionaries".
   "53% of the sisters now serving missions would not have come out if they had to wait until they were 21". 
   "Today 30% of all missionaries are sisters. It   
 was 12% before President Monson lowered the age".
   The theme of the zone conference was the Book of Mormon.  He taught how the B of M teaches over and over the significance and power of the Atonement. No other scriptures does this.  He had a contest having all the missionaries find a scripture that referred to the atonement.  It was awesome and there are a lot of them.
   Then he spent time teaching the significance of the Fall.  The way it was in the Garden before and after.  He then compared that to us and the atonement, before and after.  It was wonderful.  The more we learn about the restored Gospel, the more I know it to be true.  There are so many scripture references and as we truly look into them and the depth of their meaning, a whole new light comes on. 
   What great lessons our missionaries are learning.  No where else could they receive such wonderful training and be touched by the spirit so powerfully.
   President Stoker had me teach a little of safety and importance of their CO detectors.  Elder Holms taught about the hazards of driving in the winter.  We all love the work and more the missionaries.
  The bottom 4 pictures are of our little trip Saturday through southern NH and up into Vermont.  The weather was fabulous and we had a great time with the Holms.  The  Vermont Country Store was awesome.  Christmas shopping has started.  I was glad to get a kiss at the kissing bridge.
   We love our mission.  We are trying to take advantage of every minute we have left in it.  New England is so beautiful in the fall.  We have tried to take advantage of every spare moment to find more things to see and do.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 19, 2014

   I had the opportunity to assist Elders Plyler and Pemberton in teaching Amy the plan of salvation (picture to the right).  She is the daughter of members in our Ward.  She has turned down the opportunity to be taught many, many times.  Her mother asked her to listen to the Elders and she said ok.  She is going through lots of problems.  She and her 14 year old daughter do not get along at all and the daughter has elected to live elsewhere.
   This was the third lesson she has received and she has loved it.  She has accepted the baptismal challenge and she is scheduled to be baptized November 22nd.  It is amazing how she has changed and how happier she is now that she has accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel does work miracles in the lives of all those who accept it. 
   The tree below their picture was so radiantly red that I just had to take a picture.  It was just outside the
Elders home.  I was enjoying it while I was waiting for them the night we taught Amy.
   The next picture is Sunday evening at the JSM in Sharon Vermont.  I was asked to drive the Moose and take 4 investigators and 6 missionaries to a fireside that President Stoker was speaking at.  We got there early enough that they toured the site.  It was cold but wonderful.  The beauty of the area is always exceptional.  The leaves have started to fall.  It rained some and the wind was blowing, so it was cold.  The meeting lasted about an hour where President Stoker gave a great history of the early days of Joseph Smith and the many miracles that happened to bring us this wonderful restored Gospel.  We had light refreshments afterward and we got home about 10pm.
   It was a long day but wonderful.  Our sacrament meeting was great.  I was asked to teach Priesthood while we were in Sunday School.  I read the lesson while in SS and gave it in Priesthood.  I think it went ok.  The Lord truly helped me and we all felt the spirit testify of the wonderful man President Joseph F. Smith really was.
   It has now turned colder.  The cold weather has come late this year and that has been ok with us.  We now are getting ready for zone conferences which start tomorrow.  We are expecting a lot of rain this week so it will be interesting.  We will travel lots of miles but it will be great.
   Miriam and I realize that we only have two months left here in New England.  Our release date is December 19th.  We see that date coming so fast.  It will be a bitter sweet time. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014

   This week was different in that Monday we took all of our kids to the airport and said good bye.  It was so sad to see them go and yet so wonderful to have been able to spend time with them in New England.
   We then went to work and started our time serving with the Holm's.  They are the new senior couple that replaced the Pettingill's.  The three pictures to the left are of a dinner we had with them last Thursday night. 
   The Holm's are from Idaho Falls and this is their third mission.  They are wonderful and I know we will enjoy serving with them.
   We miss the Pettingill's and wish them much success and love.  We know we will see more of them as we have already planned a trip with them next summer.   They had the Lacey's and another couple at the dinner also. 

   The 4 pictures to the left are of our little trip Saturday with the Holm's.  We went up through Laconia to the Castle in the Clouds.  We had a lot of fun and the beauty of New England was just breath taking.  The Castle in the Clouds is on a high hill top so you could see a lot of Lake Winnipesaukee and the valley.  The fall leaves are at their peak or just a little past.  We always have fun exploring New England with the companionship of our friends.
   Thursday night I had the opportunity to teach with Elder Harrington and Elder Pace.  We taught prayer to the McCoulagh family.   We taught from Enos in the B of M.  It was wonderful.  Sister McCoulagh is ready to be baptized and Brother McCoulagh is working hard at quiting smoking.  We pray for him constantly and know that soon he will make it.  He came to church today and it was good to see him there. 
   Miriam and I took the Moose (mission van) to pick up the McCoulagh sisters and Jody.  Then coming home we took them and three other investigators home.  It is always an adventure and we love serving them.  Our Fast and Testimony Meeting was very special today.  So many of our new converts stood and bore the sweetest testimonies.  Our chapel was the fullest we have ever seen.  The fruits of the missionary labors are sure evident.  We love them so much! 
   We love all of our missionaries so much.  They sacrifice so much and work so hard that it is an inspiration to all of us.  We can see our mission dropping in the number of missionaries as we see in the future transfers of more going home than coming out.  This will require a lot of adjustments.  President Stoker is working hard to make decisions on what to close etc.  It will all be good for sure!

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 5, 2014

This was the week we have been waiting for a long time.  We have been on our mission 15 months and new that our children were planning on coming to New England to visit us.  The time finally came and all four of our children with their spouses came.  Greg and Heidi brought #19, our little Livy. 
   Lance and Aimee are shown in the first few photos because it took them 2 days to get here due to plane trouble and bad weather.  But they finally got here Thursday night and we had 2 wonderful days with them too.
   The first two pictures are of all of us at the office.  We took them down there to meet all the people we work with.  They wanted to see where we worked and who we worked with.  It was the Pettingill's last week and we also wanted to say goodbye.
  The second picture is us around the dinner table just after they got here.  Miriam fixed a wonderful dinner that we all enjoyed in our little apartment.  Everyone but us stayed at the mission home that's to the hospitality of President Stoker. 
   The pictures to the left are at our visit to Boston.  Casey and Brianne flew into Boston and we picked them up from their hotel and spent the day in Boston.  It was cloudy and cool but luckily there was no rain.  We had so much fun.  We walked the Freedom Trail, rode the trolley to all the sites including Old Ironsides.  There is so much history there.  Our country and its freedom started there. 
  On Friday we went to Vermont and it was the most beautiful day.  The sun was shinning and we really enjoyed the fall season with all its
beauty.  The leaves were changing and color was wonderful.  We went to JSM and spent time touring the beautiful site of the birth of Joseph Smith.
We then went to Quechee and shopped, viewed the gorge and had a blast.  We then went to Woodstock to complete the day. 
   Saturday we went to Maine.  It was cold and it rained all day.  Very typical weather for Maine.  We toured two light houses and topped the day off with a lobster dinner ant the lobster shack.  It was the first time we had lobster like this.  We had to have a lady in the restaurant show us how to eat it.  It was so fun.  We got back in time to watch the Priesthood session.
  Sunday we went for a short hike, where Heidi dropped her I Phone in the water.  It took time to find it but the forest was beautiful and the sun shined.  We then went back to the mission home and watched conference.  After the 2nd session, Miriam had a wonderful dinner ready for us.  We had President Stoker eat with us and it was wonderful
   We took everyone to the airport this morning and Miriam and I were back at work this afternoon.  Our mission has made us even more aware of how blessed we are to have such wonderful children.  We love and miss them so much.  We are so grateful for the Gospel and it eternal blessings.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 2014

   This week was historic for us.  We had the largest transfer of our mission.  We had 26 new missionaries come into our mission on Monday. They are shown in the top picture.  It took every vehicle we had to transport them from the airport to the mission home.  It was a late night when we got them settled in. 
   On Tuesday, transfer day, we had 160 missionaries involved in this transfer.  Our biggest ever.  It was long and yet very exciting.  The second picture is of the 19 wonderful missionaries we had go home.  We had a wonderful temple session with them.  We have gotten to know them and as such they are all so special.  I have to say they are some of the best missionaries ever.  We are going to miss them dearly
   Then all the paperwork needed to be done and
we had both of our printers go down.  It was pretty hectic to say the least.  Be we got the Xerox printer going and was able to get everything done. 
   The picture to the left is of us with the Pettingill's.  This was our last Friday night of pizza and games.  They go home this coming Friday.  We have enjoyed them so much and wish them well on their journey home.
   Saturday we went back to the Boston Temple for the wedding of Ashley Stoker, the daughter of President and Sister Stoker.  It was wonderful.  The Stoker family all came to the Boston Temple so President Stoker could be
with the family.  He can't leave the mission as Mission President.  Sister Stoker will accompany the family back to Arizona and Utah for the two receptions, but President Stoker will remain here.  He had a life size photo cut out of him to be put in the reception line. 
   The far right is the bride and groom coming out of the Temple.  The upper right is of President Stoker, his dad and his son.  Three generations of Stokers.  President Stoker is a convert to the Church and his dad is not a member.  He is very ill and it was a miracle that he was able to come. 
   The bottom right picture is of us with the Pettingill's in the shade observing all the doings.  It was a very warm day.  In the 80's and that is very unusual.  We then went to Pelham NH for the wedding lunch.  It was a long day, but wonderful. 
   We are so excited as we approach this next week.  All our children and their spouses are coming to NH to visit and we are so excited.  It feels like Christmas. 
   We love our missionaries, we love serving with them and love serving them. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 2014

    We had a wonderful week.  We were blessed to have Elder and Sister Wilson of the Seventy come to the mission and teach us.  We had three zone conferences where they were able to meet and teach all of our missionaries.
   The picture to the left is of our zone conference in Exeter NH.  The picture below are some pictures of the lunch time at the JSM where the Montpelier Zone conference was held.
   The message that was given was on the importance of the Book of Mormon not only in the conversion process but also in the retention process. 
   The Wilsons testified of the importance of each

 investigator read the Book of Mormon long enough to feel the spirit and let the spirit testify to them of its truthfulness.  Retention is one of the Church's biggest concerns and a survey has shown that the majority of the new members have read very little of the Book of Mormon. 
   The challenge was given for each missionary to read this wonderful book with them.  Make sure they read the testimonies of the witnesses and then to take the time to explain to them what was happening and answer their questions.  Then to read 1Nephi:1 with them.  Making sure to read slow and explain everything that is going on.  Then to set up appointments to read with them through chapter 15. 
   Then they are to set up with the Ward Mission Leader to make assignments from the Ward members to read with them until the book is finished. 
   The promise was given that as they read and prayed, they would gain a stronger testimony of this wonderful Gospel.  They must learn to sink their roots deep into the Gospel to be able to weather the troubles that await them.  I know this is so true.  So soon after they are baptized, they fall prey to the advisories desire to derail them from the truth. 
   The picture to the left is of a nursery that Miriam and I went to Saturday.  Fall is definitely here and to colors are changing and it is beautiful.  We are so looking forward to having all our kids come to visit us on October 1st through the 6th.  We love and miss them so much.
   The Lords work is wonderful and we are blessed to be a part of this great mission.  This next week with certainly be one of the busiest ever.  We have 26 new missionaries coming tomorrow and we send 19 home on Wednesday.  Those that are going home are some of our very closest friends.  We have grown to love and appreciate them so much.  We have served with so many of them in different capacities.  If there is one thing out here that is certain, it's that things move fast and things are always changing.  We love them all so much!
   The Holms got to our mission last Thursday and they are replacing the Pettingills who go home in two weeks.  We have become such good friends with the Pettingills and can hardly believe their time is almost up. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14, 2014

    The picture to the left is of me with Elders Barnes and Harrington.  I have been out teaching with them on a number of occasions.  We have taught a number of families and been stood up by a number of people.  But it is always good to be with them.  Elder Barnes goes home in 10 days and he is an excellent missionary.  He approaches everybody in his path.  One afternoon while with them, he approached homeless, teenagers, kids and regular people walking around Manchester.  I love the way he approaches.  I told him I thought one of the men was drunk and he said "They are all Gods children". 
   Elder Harrington has been going through some hard times.  His father passd away awhile back and he is still trying to process it all.  But I told him he needs to make his worn out shoes a trophy as Elder Nielsen did.  He is such a good Elder.
   The four pictures to the left are of our MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) held last Tuesday.  This is the leadership of our mission.  What great young men and women they are.  Elder and Sister Pettingill got in the picture as it was their last MLC before they leave. 
   One of our duties is to provide lunch for the meeting.  We truly have it down to a science now.  Miriam and I go and buy all the food, then we meet the Pettingills at the church where we prepare and serve it.  Then we clean up and head back to the office and keep on working.
   This last Saturday, we went up to Laconia to Lake Winapisakie to go on a boat ride to view the lake from the water.  The boat we were to go out on had been booked by a private party and they asked if we'd like to go out in a smaller one.  It was cold and rainy and we decided not to.  Instead we went on a train ride around part of the lake.  It was fun and a lot warmer. 
   Miriam and I have been given our release date.  It is December 19th.  We are so happy because if the weather permits we will be home for Christmas.
   Friday evening we went out to dinner with President and Sister Stoker and Mexican food at Shortys.  It was good and we always love being with them.  They have invited our kids when they come out to stay at the mission home.  That is so nice of them.  We are looking forward to seeing our kids after 15 months.  Love them so!
   Our church was wonderful today.  Sacrament Meeting was so good.  The spirit was strong and messages were excellent.  Sister Smedley played the Violin accompanied by Miriam on the Piano and it was beautiful.  Then after the block, we had a linger longer where a lunch was prepared for all to enjoy before going home.  The Bishop does this a few times a year to help all the member to linger and get to know each other better.  It was nice. 
   Now we are going to have a week of Zone Conferences with Elder Wilson of the Seventy.  I will write about it next Sunday.
   We love all the missionaries and we love the work.  It is starting to get cold and we feel winter coming on strong.  Summer was so short.  Oh well, we are in New England!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 2014

   This week was so full.  Last night we had dinner at the Stokers with the Pettingills and Patty and Eric, good friends that live in the Stokers neighborhood.  As usual the food was outstanding.  We played games after and I have discovered I need to figure how to win Five Crowns.  It was fun, but I lost. Oh well!
   Monday night was asked to go out and teach with Elder Barnes and Elder Harrington.  They had an appointment which fell through and 2 backups which also fell through.  As we were walking the streets of Manchester, Sister Smedley and Sister Collins drove up and said
the member they were teaching needed a blessing.  So we went to her apartment where she was so glad to see us.  Her name was Jo Anne and she was struggling with the adversary as she was preparing to go to the temple.  She asked that I give her a blessing.  I think this is the reason we were out Monday night.
   Wednesday night I was ask to help teach with Elder Barnes and Elder Pemberton.  This was a family that was almost agnostic.  But we gave the Restoration lesson and I was able to share my testimony of the blessings of family.  They were interested to know that I had been married to Miriam for 44 years and that we had 5 children.
They thought that there was no god because of the hardships they were going through.  When I shared with them that we lost Monica at birth and yes it was hard but we consider her a blessing as we know we will raise her in the spirit world.  Then when I shared with  them we have 4 other wonderful children and they have blessed us with  19 grand children where one of them, Ethan, we lost after he was only 6 months old.  Bad things do happen to good people!  I bore a strong testimony of my love for the Savior and His Gospel.  The spirit was so strong.  They asked all to come back this coming Thursday. 
   Friday, Miriam and I did apartment checks in the Augusta South and Bangor East Zones in Maine.  Above in the middle are some the pictures with the Elders and Sisters.  We love them so much and they are doing so much better
at keeping their apartments clean and neat.
   Then Friday evening we drove over to Bar Harbor Maine.  They pronounce it "Baw Hawbaw".  For some reason they don't pronounce their r's.  It was absolutely beautiful.  We stayed in a wonderful hotel, had the best clam chowder ever at Geddy's and walked the busy streets doing what Miriam does so well, shop!
   Then Saturday we went through Acadia National Park which is breathtaking.  We had so much fun.  We are trying to see as much of New England as we can before the summer ends.  We are now getting ready for the next transfer where we are getting 24 new missionaries.  Then all of our children are coming on October 1st thru the 6th.  We are looking so forward to that.  We miss them all so much. 
   Today at church we had some of our recent baptized members bare the sweetest and heartfelt testimonies.  The work is wonderful and we love it!