Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween with the Jackson Branch

The Halloween party at the Jackson Branch is a really big event!  They have a chili cook-off, a bake-off, costume contest, trunk or treat with trunk decorating contest and costume contest.  Our favorite youngster in the Branch (Zion Cruise) won the kid's costume contest with his Wizard costume.  Shandi Wilbur who is actually Zion's aunt won the adult contest with her Statue of Liberty costume. You can see her son Kye waving behind her. Shandi's older son came as Abe Lincoln although he had taken the beard off before I got the picture.  The men competed in the chili cook-of and the women competed in the bake-off.  There sure was a lot of really good food.
Wanda Rowe, although she came dressed as a Ghost Buster, really was Wonder Woman.  She had hip replacement surgery on Monday and came to the party on Friday.  She was determined not to miss the party and she didn't,  although she definitely over-did it and was pretty miserable the next day.
Another two of our favorite people are Maydelma Cruise (Zion's mom) and her sister Magnolia.  They are from the Phillipines and moved here when Maydelma married Jason.  Their widowed mother came and joined them later here and she is a delight also.
Saturday night during Trick or Treating we got to see one of the women who helped us with prep-work at the courthouse.  She brought her daughter, Willow, trick or treating so we got to have a fun visit with her again before we have to leave.  Another girl that helped us came by earlier in the day to look at a bed we are giving to her.  She is getting married the day we leave and we knew she had been sleeping on an air mattress on the floor of her apartment so we offered her the bed and she came to look at it.  It was great to see her again and we got to meet her fiance'.  We told him how lucky he was to get her and he agreed with us.  She is starting school to become a nurse and has really done well at turning her life around.
We had one re-work come back and we finished it last week.  We have our fingers crossed that it will pass this time since we don't have time left for another re-work.  Hopefully the audit on it will come back by mid-week this week as passed and we can pack up the equipment and get it sent back to Salt Lake; that will be a big job but Elder Miller and Elder Lundgren said they would help.
 As much as we are excited to see our family again it is hard to leave the wonderful people here.
We went to the Columbus Temple last Thursday and got to see the Grammers again since they work at the temple.  After doing an endowment session we did a sealing session that Brother Grammer officiated in.  David had never done a sealing session before so it was a great experience. The Temple is about two hours away so going is pretty much an all day event.
We are so glad we got to serve this mission.  It has been such a wonderful experience.  It has been the perfect mission for us.  Heavenly Father really knows what he is doing when he assigns missions.  We came on the perfect mission to the perfect place.  I know Heavenly Father needs senior missionaries so  desperately.  There are not enough couples with papers in to fill all of the positions that need to be filled. If we hadn't been able to finish our work there would have been no one to draw from to replace us. That must be why we were blessed to be able to complete our work so fast.
Two weeks from yesterday we will be back in Utah with all of our loved ones there.  It seems like we just barely left.  Wow, does time fly when you are busy doing the Lord's work.
Thank you, everyone for supporting us in this great adventure! We never could have done what we have done without your prayers!  We are so grateful!  Start planning now to serve your own senior missions!  You will be so incredibly joyful if you do!
Pray for good weather for us for the drive home.  We love you and we will see you soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Finished the Vinton County Records

      This last week we completed all of the digitizing for Vinton County.  We also had a small project doing a cemetery record from Oklahoma dated 1832 and another small project from Marietta and completed those also.  We thought we would never complete even the first Vinton County field order and it has turned out we completed that and three more field orders with 3 1/2 weeks to spare.  (talk about hastening of the work!) We have truly been blessed!
     The picture at the top is of Wanda and Elizabeth Rowe and the Elders assigned to Jackson.  Wanda feeds the missionaries every Wednesday evening and is also the Relief Society President.  She is so delightful and we love her so much!  Elder Brown and Elder Mortenson are also terrific.  Elder Brown lost all of his hair after coming on is mission but we like the "Dallin H. Oaks" look on him.  We are losing him tomorrow, however because he fell last Sunday and broke his elbow (for the second time).  He is being sent home for surgery (two months early). We sure will miss him! He has been such a hardworking and humble servant of the Lord.
     It is so beautiful here now with the fall colors on all the trees. Everywhere we go the views are breathtaking. I don't know how to see such beauty and not know it was all created by such a loving Heavenly Father.  What a master artist He must be!
      When we returned the books to Marietta last week Judge Lane's secretary had us go over to the wall by the stairway to see a plaque they had made commemorating the work we and the Grammers did there.  What a nice surprise! We preserved their records for all time and they have preserved recognition of our efforts!  Pretty cool!

      We visited a store in Cincinnati on Columbus Day since the courthouse was closed that David has been wanting to see.  It is a gigantic world food market called Jungle Jim's. Before you go in  the door there is this huge jungle display with a lot of jungle animals (not real) and waterfalls, etc.  Then inside there are more international items than you ever knew existed.  There must have been twenty different kinds of soy sauce. They had produce items David never even knew existed and he was once a produce manager.  If you wanted to buy a seafood item you had to "catch" it first out of one of the fish tanks.  It really was amazing.  The cheese selection goes on forever! (pictured below).
     We can't believe we are so close to the end of our mission.  It has gone by so fast! We have enjoyed it so much and learned so much!  Some of the things we have learned are:
1.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really want and need senior couples to serve missions.
2.  Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ really does answer prayers.
3.  Our ancestors and loved ones who have passed to the other side are VERY close by and are aware of us and are intensely anxious to have their ordinances completed if they weren't done on earth.  In fact they are obsessed with this being accomplished.  If it is that important to them what does that mean for those who are still living and procrastinating receiving these ordinances or not honoring the covenants they have made?  It is seriously worth pondering!
4.  The atonement is real and includes everyone!  There are no exceptions!
5.  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each and everyone of us and when we really understand and feel that love we would do anything to maintain that feeling forever. As Nephi said, it is the most desirable above all things, and as the angel said to Nephi , "It is the most joyous to the soul!"
     We love each of you so much and are so excited to see you again.  We can't thank you enough for the support you have given us, especially your prayers!  They have truly made a difference and contributed greatly to our success. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Probate Records Completed

 September has been an especially great month for us.  On the Saturday before Labor Day all of the senior missionaries were invited to the mission president's home for a barbeque and to watch the BYU football game.  The mission president and his wife are seated at the front of this picture. We certainly enjoyed the socializing and especially the great game! We have really missed BYU football.
Then the next weekend we went back to Marietta to prepare for the work we have to go back and do there.  We were concerned about moving the camera again because it is such a pain and all of the equipment doesn't really fit in our car. We weren't expecting to be able to bring the books here to McArthur because courts are very protective of their records and seldom ever allow them to leave their courthouses.  As we were visiting with Judge Lane Brother Grammer asked him about taking the books to McArthur to digitize.  We were amazed when he agreed saying he had complete trust in us. What a great blessing that will be to not have to move the camera!
Judge Lane invited us to his home that sits right on the Ohio River Saturday night for a barbeque and to watch the fireworks since that weekend was the Sternwheeler Festival. The fireworks were wonderful last year and because this is a fifth year they were promised to be even better.  It was a wonderful evening and the fireworks were amazing! The photo is taken from his deck.
This last Tuesday we finished the Probate Records we were originally sent here to do.  The Common Pleas field order came in and we have now started the Common Pleas work.  We anticipate finishing it in about 4 weeks.
David's eye is doing better and he is back in full swing helping me digitize. That's another great blessing!
Our mission has gone so fast we can't believe it is almost over. We sure are excited about seeing everyone again although we will miss beautiful Ohio and our wonderful friends here.  We have enjoyed our mission so much we are already talking about the next one.
Thank you all for your prayers.  They got us through having enough help to finish the prep work as we asked.  We have felt many prayers have been answered for us as we have needed them.  The blessings we were promised when we were set apart have all been fulfilled. We are so grateful!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Visit from John & Barbara

We were so excited to get a visit from John and Barbara Clements the first of August. They were on their way to the New England states and visited some of Barbara's relatives in Chillicothe so we were lucky enough to be included in their travel plans. Barbara actually has ancestors she was looking for in Vinton County.  We told her that some of our work had already gone online and sitting on our living room couch she found them.  Since they left I have come across more records of those same ancestors I am sending to her.  We have come across some Clements in the records just recently but don't know if they are related to either of us.  Barbara taught me some things that are a wonderful help to me so the visit was all around wonderfully productive.  I would love to spend a week following them around learning from them, they are such a wealth of knowledge in family history work..
We are hoping to tag along with them when they come to Utah next February for Roots Tech.
This week end we had a special Stake Conference with Quinten L. Cook.  The Saturday morning session was just for the missionaries. It was so fun to see the sea of dark suits.  The picture was taken an hour before the meeting started and already the number of missionaries was impressive.  Many, many more were outside and in the cultural hall catching up with prior companions.  The bear hugs between companions was so fun to watch.  There was certainly a lot of love going around before the conference started.  These missionaries work so very hard out here and it must be discouraging at times but they are having the time of their lives and loving it.

The message that helped me most was when Elder Cook described a spectrum with complacency at one end of the spectrum and perfectionism at the other.  He said the sweet spot in the middle is what we should aim for and called it righteous discontent.  It's in that spot that we recognize the atonement and can be kind and forgiving of ourselves and others but still strive to be better.
David has his last (hopefully) lazier treatment on his eye this coming week.  He is seeing better but still not as good as he needs to see.  We will ask about the need for a new prescription for his glasses, maybe that will do the trick.
We figure we have  5 1/2 weeks of work left on the probate records.  We have heard from Family Search and the records I submitted were almost all approved for digitizing.  As soon as the contract is signed we should be getting that field order. Our supervisor called us and told us of a Sister in Columbus that might come to learn the camera an take over for us when we leave at least until another couple puts in their papers that can come to replace us.  We haven't heard from her, though so we hope that is going to work out.  It would be difficult for her, I would imagine, to make the 1 1/2 hour drive from Columbus to do this work, especially being a single sister.  Part of the road between here and there could be treacherous in winter.  The picture of the road above is along that road.  We love driving the roads between here and Columbus and here and Chillicothe because they are so beautiful as you can see.
In trying to find an inactive member here we found the covered bridge above.  Vinton County is famous for it's covered bridges.  It is also famous for the quilt barns.  Of course they especially delight me.
Our mission has gone so fast we just can't believe we have just less than 3 months left. Where did the time go?  We have certainly loved our work here and the people here are so choice!  Of course the landscape is just incredible!  We were so blessed to have been sent here!
Thank you so much for your support! Your prayers for more help with the document prep work have brought wonderful results.  We have been blessed with great help most every day and sometimes we have had the help of two or three, not counting the missionaries that come every week. What a great turn-a-round that has been!  One of our helpers has agreed to meet with the missionaries.  We can't wait to see how that goes.
We love and miss everyone so much but it won't be long and we will be together again!  Keep up the prayers and we will do the same.  We know we can trust our Heavenly Father to hear and answer our prayers.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Celebrating Pioneer Day in Ohio

It seems that Pioneer Day get's celebrated in the Wards and Branches outside of Utah in a bigger way than in Utah.  Our celebration in Jackson was great fun!  Duane Plymale dressed up as Porter Rockwell and told great stories.  He did this when the youth went on trek here, too.  He made a great Porter and told many great stories that were enlightening as to Church history,  I learned a lot.  Out Branch combined with the Chillicothe Ward for the celebration so the turn out was huge and the youth got to associate with many friends and all had a really fun time.  There were games outside but the kids seemed to enjoy most just pushing and pulling each other around in the handcart.
We were lucky that we had a dry day for the event.  We have had about three weeks straight of severe thunder storms and even flooding in places.  The Jackson missionaries got flooded into their apartment complex last Thursday and couldn't drive their pick-up out.  It was Zone Meeting that day so the Missionary couple there had to rescue them to drive them to Zone meeting.  We have been lucky here in McArthur that we haven't been flooded although the yard two doors down from us was about four inches under water.  We have had about 24 inches of rain since May.  The ground is so saturated everywhere it just won't hold anymore.
A week ago Friday I got a call from John DeJong from Family search asking me to inventory the Common Pleas records prior to 1900 and email the list to him.  I worked on that most of this last week and it turned out to be four pages (type written) long. Every book or record had to have the date range of the book or record and the number of pages.  The books and records were in three different places in the courthouse.  In the basement location I was standing in water to do the inventory.  Because of the heavy rains water was seeping in through the foundation and on the back isle where most of the books I needed were there was standing water, but it didn't stop me. I finished the inventory and got it sent on Thursday.  I have no way of knowing what will be approved but I expect there will be enough to fill another full year to 18 month mission for some one.  We will see what comes back but I expect it will be much more than we could do even if we did extend so for now my expectation is that we won't extend. We still aren't getting even close to the help we need for the prep work so please pray for us that that will improve.  If we could keep the camera going we could finish this project in another seven weeks and get started on the Common Pleas project.
When we came home from the courthouse Friday we found our shower door in tiny pieces on the floor.  There was nothing there that could have fallen or hit it and there was no sign of anyone being in the house while we were gone.  It was the craziest thing we had ever seen.  It seemed to have shattered for no reason.  Has anyone ever heard of this kind of thing happening before?  I swept up and scooped up all the glass I could and then David went in with the vacuum.  As he was vacuuming I was just about to warn him about the toilet paper roll hanging down almost to the floor but it was too late.  In an instant, all that was left was the cardboard core.  I had to leave the bathroom and go out to the living room so he couldn't know I  was laughing so hard I was crying.  It wasn't his moment to see the humor in it!  We love and miss you all so much!  We can't believe the time has gone so fast and we are so close to coming home. David is getting trunky already!  Keep up the prayers!  They make such a difference!  Thank you for supporting us while we do this, we know it is a family effort!  Your part is just as important as ours!  Thank you so so much!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July, Tecumseh and Tornado

We've had a fun and busy time since our last post. the picture on the right is of the Tecumseh Pageant that we got to serve at as Ushers. The pageant has been done by the community of Chillicothe for many years and the Saints there have gotten involved in giving service for it. David and I helped to clean the seats and then sell programs. Then we got to watch the drama which was a really wonderful depiction of the story of Tecumseh. As yo can see it is set in a gorgeous setting.  The actors ride horses and shoot cannons so it is very exciting. 

On the fourth of July the Branch had a breakfast that the Priesthood cooked and served.  They did a great job with pancakes and eggs and sausage and biscuits and gravy.  The Branch President made all the biscuits and everything was delicious.  There was a great turn out with lots of non-members.

After over a year in Ohio we still can't get over how beautiful it is here.  We marvel at the beauty every time we we go anywhere.  Here are pictures of what we see alongside the road everywhere we go. We have to thank Heavenly Father constantly for creating such a beautiful earth for us.
Do you remember the cattle ranch we showed you a few blogs ago with the pond in the back yard?  Last week that ranch was hit with a tornado.  Luckily it didn't hit the house or the barns but just took out trees and fences, etc.  Duane said some of the trees were twisted like pretzels. Sandy's flowers she has worked so hard on in the yard were pretty badly damaged but she was able to salvage most of them.  The Sister missionaries have been out helping her.  The fences they haven't even been able to get to yet because of the high
water and debris.
David is slowly seeing better and is able to work at the camera again for short periods, so that has been a great blessing.  Help with prep work has slowed way down again, however, and we have had to have down time on the camera again to do prep work.
We still expect to finish the probate work by the end of September and still haven't heard anything on the Common Pleas field order.  That's not surprising, field orders can be slow in coming.
We have heard that the Church has put out a plea for more Family History Missionaries.  We think that is good news!  That means more places are opening up for our work to be done.  We sure love what we are doing!  This has been such a great opportunity for us!  We would heartily encourage anyone to do what we are doing!
We love and miss our family so much!  We sure appreciate your love and support and prayers.  We know your prayers make a difference for us so please keep them up!  We are praying for you, too!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer in Ohio

It's been a good week for us here in McArthur.  David got most of the lazier work done on his left eye on Wednesday. The bad news was that there is still enough blood in the eye that the Doctor couldn't cauterize all of the blood vessels that he needed to and David will have to go back in two months when the rest of the blood should be gone to do the rest of them. David is slowly getting more vision back but it  will be a while before he can help on the camera again.  He is able to do the unfolding of the documents and the ironing so he is still very much contributing to the effort here.  We have been getting more help with the prep work now for which we are very grateful.  We are now thinking we actually might finish the probate project before the end of our mission.  The process has begun, however, to approve the common pleas books for digitizing.  We will see how that goes.
These pictures are taken from vouchers from the late 1800's. I have loved the pictures on them.  They are few and far between but I have started collecting pictures of them just because I like them so much.  There is really quite a variety of them and I find them so enjoyable. Notice the stamp that is on the upper one.  We see these stamps every once in a while.  There are a couple of different kinds of stamps. This one is a treasury stamp.  There are also exchange stamps.  I have yet to learn what they were used for.  I need to find time to look it up.  We have been coming across the Sherwood and Arnett names in the work we have been doing in Vinton County. For you Sherwoods and Arnetts, let us know if any of your ancestry goes back into this area. So far we haven't come across any Kidman's or Clement's in Ohio.  We have seen Wallace's, though.
We must be doing pretty good in our productivity because last week when I was talking to our supervisor he thanked us for how well we were doing and told us that because of our numbers, and a few other like us, that even though several cameras were down and several missionaries were having problems with health issues, Family Search was still meeting their goals. Even though I'm working straight through on my own I'm getting on average 1700-2000 images a day.  With single capture that is pretty good.  We were told we could expect to get 5000 a week, so I'm exceeding that by quite a bit.
 This picture of the little note is actually on the back of a receipt from a case probating a will and is only about 1 1/2"x 2 1/2" in size. I discovered when I turned it over to have the sweetest love note written on the back. If you can't read it, it says, "My heart to you is given, O do give yours to me.  We will lock them up together." We will really never know who it was to or from or why it was written on the back of a receipt but it's preserved forever now!  It made my day just to read it!
 David and I love to take the little side trips from our errands to see the lakes now and then. Lake Alma is our favorite and the waterlilies are blooming a little bit now. You can see how beautiful and peaceful it is.
We are in the thunderstorm season now and twice now we have been caught driving in rain that is so heavy it is like driving in a white at blizzard back home.  You can't see the road even a few feet in front of you, the rain is that heavy.  It can rain 3" in one hour.  Luckily the storms never last very long but pass over quite quickly usually, Thank you, again for all your prayers!  They definitely make a difference! I could never stand at the camera all day without your prayers, I know that for sure! We love and miss you so much but we are so grateful we get to be here doing the work we are doing.  We know it is the Lord's work and it is so important.  Many people are even coming into the church thru family history lately. Missionaries use it as a tool.  We feel so lucky to be involved!