Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Time

My, my! When I look back at the last post I realize how long it's been and am amazed at how much time has passed.  The holidays came and went and here we are in the middle of a bone-chilling Pennsylvania winter.  Single digit temps are the norm and the windchill factor dropped us all the way down to a -22 a few days ago.  The snow hasn't been deep yet---just three or four inches at a time, but it seems like every morning we wake up to a new snow fall.  

  The view from our front porch every morning. 

Even the statues are looking frigid!   BRrrrrrr...

 The weather has definitely had an effect on the number of people who come and visit us at the site, so we have to be creative and find things to do to fill our time productively.  The Church had an initiative called "Light the World".  They asked people across the world to look for ways during the 25 days in December leading up to Christmas day to find ways to cheer, serve and bless others as the Savior would do if He were here....thus bringing light to the world.  
The missionaries put our heads together and came up with a few ideas that we could do.
Here is our list:

One of the most enjoyable things on the list was to go caroling.  We took cookies to our neighbors and to the mayor of Susquehanna.  On another evening, we joined with the Methodist Church and loaded up a bus and went caroling at a care center and also visited some shut-ins.  This gentleman served in WW II and was so grateful and delighted that we came.


Some homemade cranberry bread for our new friends.


All of the missionaries worked hard and made 20 knit beanies and 15 lovely fleece blankets that we took to Philadelphia and donated to a charity that helps clothe and house new refugees to the area.  They were thrilled with our small offering and it warmed our hearts to be able to help.


 
Dean and I also put together some wreaths to place on the graves of Emma Smith's parents and Joseph and Emma's first child who are buried near the Visitor Center.

Christmas Eve found the Senior missionaries at our home after we attended a mass at the Catholic Church.  We enjoyed a dinner together and then read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and sang some carols....reminding us of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on that night over 2000 years ago.


On Christmas morning we had a big breakfast with the young sister missionaries, Sister Spackman and Sister Carter and we all opened our gifts together.  It made if feel almost like home to have their bright smiles and enthusiasm around our home.



We're so grateful for all those who remembered us and sent their love, gifts and good wishes to us during the holidays.  We know we are truly blessed!






Saturday, November 4, 2017


WOW!  
What a fun fall we have had!  The highlight was LOTS of visitors.  
Larry and Kathy Grasteit spent a few days with us and we loved every minute of it.  We played games, toured the site and made a trip down to beautiful Bushkill Falls. 




 Janis Miller and Johanna Brown also found their way out to New York and Pennsylvania.  It was so great to see them and catch up on all the news from back in Colorado.  It was quick and short, but we had a chance to attend Church, give a tour, and have a laugh or two. Thanks for coming, ladies!

We also had a visit from Dean's sister and brother-in-law, Ellie and Mel from Utah.  We went out to dinner and celebrated Mel's 85th birthday. WOW! The next day they got the VIP tour of the Priesthood Restoration Site.
Our son, Mitch and his wife, Danielle  were also here for a few days.  They brought grandchildren!!!  It was such a blessing to be able to meet our new granddaughter, Raine, and give her some special attention from her grandparents.  She is adorable as you can see. 😁


During their visit we got permission to leave mission boundaries for a day, so we went to Cooperstown, NY the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We loved a walk through history and the opportunity to learn more about the stars of the this great 
American past time.




We also finally did a coal
mine tour down in Scranton, PA 



 (Dean is super handsome in a hard hat.)

It was a fascinating tour as we descended hundreds of feet underground and learned of the difficult life of a coal miner.   The donkeys that worked in the mines eventually went blind, because they never saw the light of day.  Their entire life was spent hauling coal in the darkness.

We've enjoyed a lovely fall, and even got into the Halloween spirit around here.









Can you guess what our costumes are??? (Missionaries have to be creative---and minimal)  Dean is a bulletin board and Cheryl is a "ceiling fan". 
(Get it???)  😉

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Some Work, Some Play

     Life here in the mission is filled with lots of long hours, walking, and tours.  But, occasionally we get away for a little break on our "P" day (Preparation Day).

The last few weeks we've enjoyed some work and some play time.
We got a way for a day and drove down to the Philadelphia area and visited Valley Forge.  It was fun to learn more about the history of the Revolutionary War and gain a greater appreciation for the sacrifices of our forefathers.  They endured many hardships so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do today. I'm grateful for their courage and foresight.

                          Trolley Tour

 We gave the Joseph and Emma Smith home a new coat of paint recently.  I'm sure they appreciated it!  The lovely red was beginning to fade a bit.   This is the home where most of the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph and 15 revelations included in the Doctrine and Covenants were received.  It deserves to look stellar.



Last week I gave a tour to a family of five who were planning to be baptized on Saturday.  It was such a delight to meet them and get acquainted with their family.  When they decided they wanted to join the Church, they knew they would have to make some changes in their lives, so they got married on Friday and the baptisms took place on Saturday. 😀  They were baptized in the Susquehanna River near where Joseph and Oliver were baptized.




But between all that work----we did have the chance to do some hiking around Lackawanna State Park just north of Scranton.  It was a beautiful day and we came across some deer, some fishermen, and some boaters.

Such a handsome guy!








Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Spring finally came and summer has flown by.  The beauty of the green hills and the wildflowers growing everywhere never ceases to give us a visual treat.  All of the rain pays big dividends by giving Mother Nature everything she needs to create a colorful palette to paint pictures that can't help but delight.

 

 AS FORECAST,

our summer has been very, very busy with thousands of visitors and thousands of tours, but it's heartwarming to have so many come and enjoy the Spirit that pervades this area.  The land recalls the sacred events that occurred here and you can't help but feel peace as you walk the paths.

To get ready for the crowds we spiffed up the statues a bit by cleaning them and putting a coat of wax on them.  A water fight was bound to occur the day we pulled out the hoses to scrub off the winter dust.  But, it was fun for all!


4th of July didn't pass by unnoticed here.  Although, it was a normal day at the Visitor Center, we got up early in the morning and went to the local high school for some races and some fun with water balloons.  Later in the day we had a little barbecue and managed to have some fun games between tours.

 

 We were so blessed to have some of our family come see us in July.  My parents and my sister Leslie and her husband, Bruce flew out and we enjoyed so much showing them around and spending time together.   Christine, Doug and their daughters, Sydney, Jordan and London also came for a few days and we were able to drive up to Palmyra with them and see some of the sites there too.






This is the cabin on the Smith farm where the prophet Joseph Smith was living at the time of the First Vision.












               

                 Inside the Smith family cabin.












The upstairs bedroom where the Angel Moroni told Joseph of the Gold Plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah.










Another highlight was the visit by Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency.   The wonderful people we meet here are the greatest blessing of all for the service we that we give.  Each are cherished, unique and have a story to tell.  We love spending an hour or two with these beautiful children of our Father in Heaven and sharing our testimonies with them.













Saturday, May 6, 2017

Things are picking up around here...
January and February were slow months here at the Priesthood Restoration Site as few people travel to the northeast in winter.  But, March and April definitely saw an increase as families on spring break across the country came to see us.  Our numbers were 500% higher than last year at the same time, so the word seems to be getting around about what a great place Harmony, Pennsylvania is. 

We had some wonderful tours the last few weeks.  One morning I looked up at the entryway and coming in the door was Julie C Beck, former General Relief Society President.  She brought along her husband and 3 of her Aaronic Priesthood age grandsons.  We spent a delightful morning giving them a tour and showing them around.  One of the exhibits gives our guests the opportunity to heft a box that simulates the weight of the gold plates that the prophet Joseph brought here to begin the work of translation.  It weighs about 50 lbs---always a surprise to everyone just how heavy they were.
 
 

 Sister Beck hefting the golden plates.


 Another tour we gave was to Church employees from around the world.  We had guests from New Zealand, Ghana, Canada, U.S. and Russia.

 Last week we spent our P-day down in Philadelphia where we attended the new Philadelphia Temple.  It is set right in the heart of the bustling city and offers a peaceful respite from the crowds and the noisy traffic outside.  Three new sister missionaries went with us on the trek south.  Philly is about 3 hours from where we are, so it was a long, but fun day.  We were allowed to walk through the sealing rooms as well as the baptismal area and of course the endowment rooms.  It is just lovely and the architecture fits well with the colonial theme of the city.

Traffic was especially crazy in Philadelphia because the NFL draft was going on the same day.  I had to hold Dean down to keep him from jumping out of the car and racing into the venue.  😆

We had an evening with Bob Parrot a few weeks ago.  Bob is the forester that cares for the Sacred Grove up in Palmyra and also assists us with keeping up our woods here in Susquehanna where John the Baptist appeared and restored the Aaronic Priesthood in 1829.  It was fascinating to a hear a history of the grove and although Bob Parrot is not a member of the Church, he has a strong testimony of what a sacred place it is.  He can feel the Spirit so strongly there and he shared how the trees talk to him and how he knows that something extraordinary occurred there.
Bob Parrot---forester at the Sacred Grove with our Sister Missionaries.
 
This past week had a few challenges.  Monday evening while we were out to dinner, a massive rainstorm hit with walls of rain that blew sideways destroying trees and pulling down power lines.  We ate our dinner by cell phone light.  Our area was especially hard hit.  Power was out for 24 hours at our home.  It was out for 48 hours at the Priesthood Restoration Site.  It went out again at our home yesterday for another 16 hours.  So we were without heat, lights, refrigeration, internet and hot water.  It felt like we were camping.  All great fun for about 2 hours, but the novelty wears off quickly and we were thrilled when power was restored.  We just cross our fingers that it will stay on.  It sure reminds us to be grateful for the comforts of life that we take for granted.
 
We are healthy and happy and love being able to serve the Lord here in Pennsylvania.  Our testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel grows with each passing day.
  


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Record-breaking snowfall
Wowsers! We've had a wild winter.  Two weeks ago we had 36 inches of snow in 24 hours.  The roads and the town were shut down completely, so we didn't open the Visitor's Center for a couple of days.  I have to admit it was kind of fun to be snowed in and just curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.  All of the senior missionaries live on the same street so we had them come over one of those evenings and we played Mormon Family Feud.  It was a fun diversion and break from the routine.
Dean didn't think it was so fun digging out the car though.  He had to work for awhile, then rest for awhile, but it was impossible to keep ahead of the snow.

Last week we went into Scranton to do some apartment inspections for the young missionaries.  As we pulled up to the first apartment, we couldn't find a parking place on the street---there were lawn chairs placed all along the curb everywhere.  When we finally found a spot and asked the elders what that was all about, they said that people in the neighborhood had spent hours digging their cars out of the snow and they didn't want to come home and find that someone else had pulled into the spot that they worked so hard to clear, so they would just stick a chair out there in the street to hold their spot.  Ingenious!  Unless you're new to the neighborhood. 😊 

Doing apartment inspections in Honesdale.

We had a choice experience on one of our tours a few days ago.  I'll quote from my journal:
"Brother and Sister Pocock from Virginia brought a man in who was from Kenya.  His name was Jackson Ehaji and he had served seven years as a bishop there.  He was so thrilled to be here---to see where Joseph translated the Book of Mormon and received the priesthood." (We often invite guests to read a scripture from the Book of Mormon in the room where it was first translated by the prophet Joseph Smith.  Brother Ehaji knelt next to the translation table and read from book of Alma.  It was so touching to see his humility.) 
As the tour was wrapping up, "He said that he wished that his wife and five children could be here.  So he had tried to think of a way to share the experience with them.  He decided to buy a small bottle of olive oil and he asked for permission to consecrate it in the Joseph Smith home, so that he could take it back to Kenya to bless his family with it.  How sweet it was to watch Dean and these two brethren use their priesthood in this sacred place where the power to act in God's name was first returned to the earth!"



How blessed we are to be here!
 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March has arrived!   We've seen lots of snow the last month, but have enjoyed a few pleasant and warm days too, so there is hope for spring to come eventually.

Last week was fun and eventful.  We had a lovely visit from Lorene Beckstead all the way from Los Alamos, New Mexico!  She brought along her son, Michael, his wife Annie and their 3 children, as well as Chris and Mavis Stevenson.  Michael lives in Philadelphia and his oldest daughter is turning 8 and was baptized last weekend.  So, all the family that gathered for that event came up on Friday for a tour of the Visitor Center and the site.  It was so delightful to see friends and to be able to give them a tour.  What a treat for us!  


This past weekend we also held a training seminar at the site for all of the young sister missionaries that will be serving with us this summer.  Starting in April, all of them will be assigned to the site full-time.  So the three days they were here went by in a blur of classes, practice tours, meals and singing.  We love them all and look forward to having their energy here with us at the Priesthood Restoration visitor center.


Aren't they beautiful???

But, a little bit crazy!!!

                                                                       Valentine's Day did not go by unobserved. 
 There were flowers, chocolates, cards a dinner 
out at Texas Roadhouse in Binghamton, New York.  


Here is Elder Banner aka Dean on a tour outside of the Isaac Hale home.
 We love and miss our family and friends, but feel so blessed to be here on our mission.  We have the opportunity to walk on sacred ground each day.  Come and see for yourself.



This has been dubbed "Emma's Spring".  It's a natural spring near Joseph and Emma's home that feeds into the Susquehanna River.

Pennsylvanians have a fun sense of humor.  We pass this sign on our
 drive from our home to the visitor center every day.  😆

Something to think about....