Sunday, November 18, 2012

We're going west

"We're Going West" is a song from the musical Promised Valley about the Utah pioneers. It is now our time to go west. We started Monday Morning at Palmyra, New York where the restoration of the gospel started. We were presented with a tour of the Smith farm by Sister Aiello from Italy. A lot has changed since we were there last. There is a new visitor's center, the frame house has been restored to period time, a new barn and cooper shop were built, and extensive pathways have been developed through the Sacred Grove.
Sister Aiello and sister Wheeler in front of the log house

Going to the frame house
Restored kitchen of the frame house
Across the farm to the Sacred Grove
We then went to see the Martin Harris house and Grandin printing shop. Not much has changed. We stopped by Hill Cumorah. 

Sister Wheeler on Hill Cumorah
Stained glass in the Hill Cumorah visitor's center
About noon we started our long, wet drive to Kirtland, Ohio. We know it took a lot longer than four hours for the early members to move to Kirtland, but we didn't have the luxury of that much time. It was getting dark and quite rainy in Kirtland. We noted several changes there - new visitor center, restored sawmill, and restored Whitney house. We had a guided tour by Sister Ence (from Utah) and Sister Johnson (from California). We were very impressed by the spirit of the three sisters who helped give us tours of these special sites.

The wet sawmill
Sister Ence and Sister Johnson with Sister Wheeler - Whitney store
Sister Wheeler shopping in the Whitney store
 Tuesday and Wednesday were long travel days. On Tuesday we went through Ohio, Indiana (where we were delayed on the turnpike for an hour because of two accidents), and Illinois. We were able to find a nice place to stay in Eastern Iowa. This is about the starting place for the pioneers. On Wednesday we crossed Iowa and most of Nebraska, spending the night in Sydney, Nebraska. We definitely made better time than the pioneers - maybe because we didn't have as much to carry.

Western Nebraska is a wild place
Could this be Canadian geese we are seeing (in the background)?
 Thurday was our last day of travel - across Wyoming to arrive in Logan about 5pm. We were able to wash the car (which got dirty from truck spray), get a bite to eat, and purchase emergency groceries. We then moved into our home. It is still a little strange being home.

We were without communications so on Friday we went to establish our utilities. We tried to find the location of the offices, but they just listed phone numbers and we didin't have a phone. We decided to stop at the Logan Visitors Bureau to see if they could tell us where to find the offices. They were very helpful and let us use their phone for calling. We set up our gas and phone utilities from there.  One "tender mercy" was that we were able to get our old phone number back so we won't have to inform everyone of a new number. We walked the block to Logan city offices to set up our power utility.

We then stopped by the county building to make a payment on our property taxes. Two students were there in the lobby conducting a survey for their research. We stopped to take the survey and one student noticed our missionary badges. (Since we couldn't call the stake president when we arrived home we were not yet released.) The second student was from Brazil so we spoke a little in Portuguese. We asked if he were a member and were informed that he was not. We offered to get him a Portuguese Book of Mormon if he would like to read it. We passed by the Distribution Center and purchased a Portuguese Book of Mormon to give to him. His friend agreed to give him an English Book of Mormon. He promised to read it. We ended up with his contact information so we can follow up. Maybe there is a reason we were not released. Who would have guessed that we wopuld be doing Portuguese mission work right here in Logan Utah.

Saturday was spent in unpacking and rearranging the house. It was a lot of work and we were very tired. In the evening Olivia (our Navajo foster daughter) stopped by with her daughter Courtney.  It had been a long time since we have seen them and we had a delightful visit.

Olivia and Courtney
Sunday was our mission report to the ward. As we walked in to the building a councelor in the bishopric pulled Elder Wheeler aside (He is called Elder Wheeler because he had not yet been released) and called him as the teacher's quorum advisor. He was sustained in sacrament meeting. We both gave our mission talks and attended the remaining meetings of the block.

We had a small soup lunch for those who traveled from out of town. Besides Olivia and Courtney we had Ken and Kate visit with their family and Andrea and Jason with their six children. It was good to see our grandchildren again. We had a wonderful afternoon visiting and letting the children run around the house.
Kate, Ken and family

Andrea, Jason and family

By 4:30 pm everyone was gone and we were at the church again to meet with President Wallis. We were finally released as missionaries and will start a new phase of our lives.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A week of lasts

As we walk around town we realize this is the last time we will do many things. On Monday we used our debit card for the last time (to give time for transactions to clear before we close our bank account). As we were leaving Giant Tiger we saw Cindy Buott  (whom we wanted to visit before we left). We visited her parents on Tuesday.

In the evening we had a family home evening at the church. Way back in January we volunteered to give a family home evening on world music. During our last branch counsel meeting they reminded us that it was our turn. We didn't have any musical instruments to show, but we were able to have a world tour by notebook (Mac version of PowerPoint). We had refreshments then the branch gave us a nice candy bowl made by a local (still a long ways away) artist. When we were visiting Mary one evening Sister Wheeler commented on the bowl she had. They gave us a bowl from the same artist.

Musical instruments around the world
Receiving the gift
The bowl and lid
 On Tuesday we had dinner with Mary for the last time. She always fixes wonderful, gluten-free meals. We will miss being able to visit her.

Wednesday we made our last trip to Kingston for our zone training meeting. We will miss meeting with the elders, sisters, and other senior missionaries. Two new elders in Napanee - Elder Sooaemalelagi and Elder Huston. They came in after the normal transfer. Elder Huston gave a talk for our zone training that was impressive.
Elders Sooaemalelagi and Huston - Napanee 
A card was included in the bowl we received as a gift which gave the location of the studio in Roslin. Since it was on the scenic way back from Kingston we decided to stop by the studio. We met Pam who makes the pottery with her husband. We were able to see the process they use.

Pam in her studio
Pottery in the kiln
Finished pottery
Thursday was our last visit to Belleville for Sister Wheeler to meet with her rug hooking group. Elder Wheeler was chatting with the husband of Karen's (the group leader). She had told him how impressive Sister Wheeler was in hooking rugs, way beyond a beginner. The studio is on a farm which requires crossing railroad tracks to get between the main road and the house. Sometime the trains are quite long.
Waiting for the train to enter the farm
They were harvesting corn. It is a bit late in the season, but the weather was perfect.
Corn harvest
Corn hauling
 We took a couple of scenic roads back from Belleville. We will really miss the countryside here. There is a church and graveyard we pass every time we go to Belleville. It is only one of the local landmarks on the trip.
Tabernacle United Church on Highway 8
Since we didn't have time for our morning walk we decided to take one in the afternoon. It was below freezing this morning, but was cool, but beautiful weather in the afternoon. We walked around the canal for the last time.
Saying goodbye to the giant toonie
Saying farewell to the Campbellford welcome sign
Saying so long to the Trent River

 We packed up our bird feeder and gave it to Mary on the way to the last supper with the Havelock Holts. We will miss the countryside, but we will miss the people most of all.

On Friday we packed up our cellphone, computer modem, and our TV receiver to send back, ending our contracts. We will be without communication for a couple of weeks until we can get things reestablished in Logan.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Don't worry about other people's ducks

We have a strange feeling as our mission is winding down. We had two sets of keys for the apartment. Sister Wheeler decided to give her set to Elder Caldwell in the mission office so he will be able to get into the apartment to move the furniture after we leave . While we were in Brampton for the temple on Tuesday (transfer day) the APs (assistants to the president) said they would give the keys to Elder Caldwell. Sister Wheeler worried whether they would lose the keys or actually get them to Elder Caldwell. She said "I just like having all my ducks in a row". I replied, "That's OK, but you don't need to worry about other people's ducks". It is sometimes difficult to let others follow through with what they agreed to do without worrying about it.

We learned on Monday that Hurricane Sandy was headed our way. We kept in tune with the weather to see if we would be able to go to the temple on Tuesday.

Men checking overflow of the dam
As mentioned, we went to Brampton on Tuesday. The weather was good all the way to Toronto then we felt the side effects of Hurricane Sandy. We stopped by the mission office before going to the temple. After the temple session the senior couples met at a fish-and-chips restaurant. Elder Wheeler was able to have some grilled trout. From there we went to the mission home for a testimony meeting with the outgoing elders and sisters ( 2 elders - Elder Green and Elder Lau, 2 sisters - Sister Worthlin and Sister Woo, and 2 couples - the Martindales and us). We then had a long ride back to Campbellford in the dark with rain off and on.

 Halloween is here. We even found some cute ghosts on a balcony of our apartment building.
Ghosts ready for Halloween
We ended the month Wednesday with a district meeting in Kingston. There is only one district in the zone again so we meet in Kingston. It was a long drive after going to Brampton on Tuesday. We have new missionaries due to the transfer. Elder Lyon came to be a zone leader with Elder Nash. Elder Itthipornvanich is working with Elder Decker in Belleville (who is now our district leader). Elder Platt joined Elder Gummow in Trenton and Sister Woo will be working with Sister Sutton in Brockville.
Elder Nash (not feeling well) and Elder Lyon
Elder Itthipornvanich and Elder Decker
Elder Gommow and Elder Platt
Sister Sutton and Sister Woo
 We really enjoyed our district meeting led by Elder Decker. We have been very impressed with him since we first met him while he was working in Brockville. We had a delightful roleplay with Sister Sutton and Sister Woo. We took the slow road (Hwy 2) back home to avoid the 401 (freeway or expressway as they call it here).

Last year in toronto we had no one come to our apartment for trick-or-treating. They do things differently here in Campbellford - they pool their candy and meet the children at the front door of the apartment building. We joined them for awhile.
Joan and Caroline with Halloween candy
Our trick-or-treaters
Socializing in the hall with Dolly, Joy, and ?
 On Thursday we were back in Belleville for the rug hooking session. On the way back we visited Heather Parker in Stirling and learned about her trip to Europe. We also passed by Kings Mill which is close by.
King's Mill
We decided to take the Heart of Hastings (Hastings County) art tour on Friday. We went to several villages where they had Christmas displays in homes and stores. Now that Thanksgiving and Halloween are over it's time for the Christmas spirit.

One of the Christmas houses
Which is the Old-world Santa? (The one in red?)
This bear is ready for sledding
Sorry Ginny, it would look nice in the cabin, but cost too much

 As we were going along one of the country roads we saw a different kind of cattle - sure enough, they were water buffalo.
Water buffalo in the field
We have passed by a Western-looking store many times on Hwy 7, but it was always closed. Finally we found it open. It wasn't much inside, but stands out along side a Canadian highway.
Somebody found a new companion!
We finally solved the mystery. We often see signs along the side of the road for Smitty's appliances, but the signs don't say where it is located.
Sign for Smitty's

After being in Trent Hills for almost a year we finally found Smitty's - and it wasn't easy, even if you are looking for it. As we were traveling through Foxboro we saw a sign "Smitty's 4 km". We followed the sign and missed it. We almost missed it again on the way back. When we finally found it, it turned out to be a residence with some garages out back. They are right - no showroom.

Finally - Smitty's
Saturday was spent cleaning out closets and preliminary packing of items we won't be using for the next two weeks. In the late afternoon we finally needed a break so we went for a long walk in Ferris park. We heard the pounding of water and decided to see what the river looked like. With so much rain the river was full and there was actually water flowing over Ranney Falls. It was a nice, but tiring walk in the park.
Ranney Falls with water
A friend of Ferris Park
We decided to attend the Christie Ward in Toronto this Sunday so we can bid farewell to our friends we got to know there. It was a long drive (2 1/2 hours each way), but it was worth seeing them again. We now know why the first part of our mission seemed to go by so slowly. We wondered if sacrament meeting would ever end. It was mainly because of our concentration trying to understand the many dialects of Spanish. We were able to bare our testimonies (in Portuguese, of course). We recognized we had developed lasting friendships with the members there (both Spanish as well as Portuguese).

Daniel, the financial wizard
Kelly and Maria
Portuguese priesthood class
Juaqim, Paulo Amerigo, Elder Crane, Elder  Fagundes, Andre

 On our way to Toronto we got a call from Brother Murphy (Executive secretary from our Logan ward) letting us know we will be speaking in sacrament meeting on November 18th (9:00 AM). We plan to arrive in Logan on Friday (Nov 16th), speak on Sunday (Nov 18th), then leave Monday (Nov 19th) for Washington state to have Thanksgiving with Diane's parents. We will be back by the following Saturday. No time for moss to grow under our feet, but it's probably to cold for moss anyway.