Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Why would God have a Chosen People?

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels
A little while ago I came across the question, "If God is the Heavenly Father of every person on earth, why would he have a chosen people?" By chosen people, I mean, of course, the House of Israel. How many times do the scriptures refer to the "God of Israel", or to Israel as the Lord's chosen people? If God is supposed to love all his children, why would he be so focused on this one family? Does he love the Israelites more than he loves his other children?

This morning I was reading Jacob 5, the allegory of the olive tree, but I also had this question in the back of my mind. There must have been many other trees in the vineyard besides this one. Why was he so focused on this particular tree? When I finished reading the chapter, I picked up my notebook and started writing the thoughts that had come to my mind relative to this question as I had been reading. Here are those thoughts, with others I've had this morning as I've pondered further:

  1. God has a plan for his children to return to his presence with greater knowledge and experience. God's "work and ...glory [is] to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) He wants all of his children to return to him, and I can't even imagine all the plans and preparations he needed to put into place for his plan to have any chance of succeeding. (Satan's plan where we would all be saved without faith or struggle might have been so much easier... but that would be like a test where the teacher gave us all the answers; we wouldn't learn what we needed to learn.)

    According to God's plan, the Savior of the world would have to be born on earth, and he could only be born one time, in one place, to one group of people. These people would have to have some foundation of truth so proper priesthood authority would exist and so Christ's teachings wouldn't be completely foreign and would be accepted by many people, and yet they would need to be wicked enough to kill an innocent man who had done nothing but good. It would also be necessary for the knowledge of Christ's ministry and teaching to be spread to as many as possible. This society of people would have to be selected carefully and nurtured so the Plan would be fulfilled properly.
  2. We don't have a lot of information about what happened between Noah, the tower of Babel, and Abraham's day. We know that the people were scattered and that their languages were changed. Therefore, the majority of the people on earth wouldn't have had readable records of God's teachings. We know Jared and his brother had one record which they took to the other continent. (Ether 1:3) How many other copies existed? Without written records, most of the people of the world would have forgotten all they might have known about the God who created them within a few generations (see Omni 1:17). Shem, Noah's son, probably would have had Adam's record, and he probably passed it down through his descendants. We know that Abraham was Shem's descendant, and that Abraham's fathers had turned to apostasy, but Abraham chose to be righteous and so he was able to preserve the records with God's teachings. (Abraham 1:31)

    In other words, almost all of God's children were scattered and lost, and only a small remnant, including Abraham, retained a knowledge of the truth of the Plan and the Savior.
  3. God loves all his children throughout the world. He wants them to know the truth of his plan, so he reveals himself to righteous men and women so they can be prophets to their own people. They preach of Christ, and they keep records so they can remember those teachings.

    But with the majority of his children scattered and lost to apostasy, how could God, whose greatest desire was to bring his children back to him, provide a way for all of them to learn about him and his plan? He used the tools he had. The Jaredite "tree" were his representatives for a while somewhere on the American continent, and Abraham's family were his representatives in the Middle East. Perhaps there were other "good trees" in other parts of the Lord's vineyard as well, but Abraham's family was chosen to be the society into which Christ would be born.
  4. The Lord favors the righteous, whoever they may be, whether descendants of Abraham or not. However, over time, people fall into apostasy. Prophets are rejected and killed. Records are destroyed or lost. Teachings of the prophets are forgotten. The Jaredite nation went in and out of apostasy many, many times. The house of Israel did as well, but in both nations, there was a written record of truth that could bring people back to the path. There were people who desired to be righteous who the Lord called to be prophets to call the rest of the people to repentance. There may have been other righteous civilizations in other parts of the world and they were surely favored of the Lord for as long as their righteousness lasted.
  5. Being God's "chosen people" didn't do the Israelites many favors. They were conquered and enslaved many times. They were carried into captivity. They were scattered and lost themselves. However, because God needed them to provide the proper environment for the Savior to be born, he preserved them from being destroyed completely. He sent prophets to remind them of the truths their fathers had known. At times he "pruned" or allowed the more wicked parts to be killed so they wouldn't drag the rest of the people into apostasy. He even granted miracles that would help them to retain an identity as a people, and to remember their God. Through the ages, the memory of who they were as a society continued, and somehow an unbroken chain of priesthood was preserved, so that when Christ was born, he was able to fulfill his part in the Plan.
  6. It wasn't just enough that God provide the proper environment for Christ to be born. It was also important that God spread the word of his plan and of Christ to his other children. This may have been one of the reasons for the scattering of Israel - to spread what they knew of the gospel to other people throughout the world. We know that groups of Israelites were scattered at various times in their history. Some were taken in war and carried off to parts unknown. Others, like Lehi's family, left of their own free will. In the allegory of the olive tree, the branches of the tree were scattered to different parts of the vineyard. The Book of Mormon people were just one of at least three branches that were scattered, but they were all still nourished by the master of the vineyard.
  7. Records of Christ would be most plentiful where Christ actually lived. He made an impression that continued on past his death. It, too, decayed into apostasy over time, but some records survived long enough to become the Bible. Christ also visited people in the Americas, hence another impression was made there, a record was preserved and God caused it to be found in our day as a second witness of Bible truths. By the Savior's teaching "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold..." (John 10:16, 3 Nephi 15:17) we know there are other people that Christ has visited of whom we still have no record. (See 2 Nephi 29:10-13)
  8. The wise men from the East came from another people who had heard of the prophecies of Christ. Were they of the house of Israel? Perhaps, but I doubt it. Maybe they had been taught of the Messiah by some branch that had been broken off. Or maybe they had been revealed the truth of God's plan some other way. I don't know. The wonderful thing is that they were close enough and rich enough that they were able to come witness Christ's birth and carry the news back to their own people. Were they chosen specially by God? Yes! Does it matter whether or not they were of the House of Israel? No!
  9. What about today? In all the talk about the gathering of Israel happening today, is God only concerned about gathering Abraham's direct descendants? No. The children of Israel are the ones that have been selected for the work of spreading the knowledge of God's Plan and the Savior to all of God's children. The Lord's chosen people, however, are all the righteous. The work of gathering is to gather everyone who will hear the gospel and accept it and be baptized. Missionary work and temple work today aren't limited to just certain people of certain lineage. It is for everyone on earth, past and present.
  10. So to sum up.... God wants his children to return to him - as many of them as are willing to accept Christ and the plan. These are the righteous - the good fruit, whoever or wherever they may be. Abraham's family was a tree that gave good fruit. They were righteous and had the necessary knowledge of God's plan. Because of this, they were chosen to do a job - to produce as much good fruit as possible. God gave them the protection and help (pruning, digging, nourishing) that they needed to accomplish that job. The Israelites were then scattered to bring the knowledge of the gospel to God's other children throughout the world where they continued to be nourished. Now in our day, through both missionary and temple work they all are being gathered from all over the world, back to a knowledge of the restored gospel, of God's plan, and the role of the Savior so we will be ready when he comes again.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Teeth, Babysitting, Snow and a Wedding...

(Excerpts from a letter to the missionaries...)

First of all, John's wall plaque arrived so now one side of the ward's missionary map is the "Hiatt side". Steven took pictures of it:

Sorry, this picture is a little blurry... But that is Hannah's plaque on top and John's on the bottom.

On Monday, I took the boys to the orthodontist. Peter had his expander taken out (It was a contraption that widened his upper jaw, and we had to turn it with a key every day for several days.) Peter was very relieved to get that off. However, that also means that in a few weeks he will get to have braces put on the rest of his teeth, instead of just on the front top teeth that he has now.

So this week was parent teacher conferences which meant that elementary schoolers didn't have school Wednesday through Friday, and high schoolers didn't have school on Friday. So on Wednesday I got to babysit little Josh (a boy in our ward.) He was dropped off a little after 7am, and went jogging/ walking with me. Later he played Legos, and then we played Clue several times (he cheats like crazy!) Then he played on his tablet for a while until Big Josh and Peter got home. Then they played together and finally Peter and little Josh went down to the park to play. It was kind of an adventure keeping a seven year old occupied for most of a day.

On Thursday we got our first snow fall. Luckily the only place I had to go after taking the boys to seminary and school was parent teacher conferences that evening so that was nice. The next day the boys got a "snow day" (because there wasn't school any way because of conferences..)

Also on Friday, we had the missionaries over for dinner. One of them was fresh from the MTC - and he went into the MTC on the same day John did.

Yesterday Steven and I went to Ethan H.'s wedding. It was a three hour drive away, out in the boonies beyond Salida. It was very pretty though, and it was a nice wedding, held at an outdoor chapel with the reception following in a barn type building. I think it is the first non-LDS wedding I've gone to, and apparently the guy who married them was one of Ethan's buddies who got his minister license on the internet from some random church I had never heard of. It was a really nice ceremony though. I was touched by the sweet vows that the couple wrote and read to each other.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

High School Threat

So this happened today at my boys' school.

At 11:30 this morning I received the following email:
Dear Northglenn High School Families,

In our ongoing effort to keep you informed of issues at our school, we want to let you know about a current safety situation at the school.

The school is currently in a hold and lockout due to a safety situation in the building. During a hold all students remain in their current class and do not travel to other parts of the building. During a lockout all exterior doors are secured and no one is allowed in or out of the building. 
Administration received a tip that someone in the school might have a weapon. Northglenn Police immediately made contact with the student in their class and confirmed that the student did in fact have a weapon. The student was immediately taken into custody. 
At this time all students and staff are safe. Additional police officers responded to the school to assist with this matter. The situation is ongoing and police are continuing to make contact with additional students to gather additional information regarding the situation.

While the investigation is ongoing, we ask that you do not come to the school. We will share more information with you as soon as available.

Thank you,

Sharee Blunt
At 1pm, another email arrived:
Dear Northglenn High School Families,

This is an update to our previous message about the safety situation at Northglenn High School.
As of 12:45 p.m. Northglenn Police released the school from the hold and lockOUT. The school day will continue on a modified schedule and have a normal dismissal. Through the police investigation, it has been determined that there is no threat of violence directed towards the school at this time. 
Lunch was made available for all students and staff who would like to grab some in the cafeteria before proceeding to the next class.

We did have a situation earlier today where we got reports that a student had a weapon, police immediately made contact with that student. When police made contact with that student it was confirmed that they were in possession of a handgun. The student was taken into custody without incident and the weapon was confiscated. 
Northglenn Police made contact with multiple students to gather additional information. Officers also searched student lockers and belongings of those who they previously made contact with. Through that investigation it has been determined that there is no specific threat towards the school at this time. 
Our school counselors and members of the district mental health team are available to meet with students, staff and families individually or in groups today or in the coming days. 
I appreciate the partnership we have with our students, staff and parents to keep our school safe. I will continue to keep you informed of important issues at our school.


Sharee Blunt
 So yeah. Fun stuff. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Flower Garden Photos

I loved our flower garden this year!  It's a strip of soil along the fence that faces the road. Last spring, Steven dug up the tired stuff that had been planted there, replaced the edging around the flowerbed and improved the soil. Then we bought an assortment of colorful flowers to fill the space. Through the summer, I've watched the various plants bloom in their season and every day I've loved the flurry of bright colors that greet us when we come home! 
This was the garden a month or so ago.

A couple days ago, I went out and took some closeup photos of some of the flowers so I can enjoy them as background screens on my desktop computer in the years to come. 

I also took a few pictures of some of my fall decorations... I think they're kind of pretty too:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Happy/Sad Tears for John

Yesterday Steven worked from home. He doesn't do that very often, but he did yesterday. He worked until about 11:30 and then he, John and I climbed into the car and drove to the airport.

Usually when we take someone to the airport, we drop them off at the curb, unload their luggage, give them a quick hug, and drive off. Yesterday we parked in the parking lot and walked into the airport with John. We helped him find the American Airlines check-in counter and get his luggage tags and check his luggage. We walked him as far as the lines for the security check, made sure he had his boarding pass and had some idea of where his gate was, and then I gave him a last hug, Steven shook his hand (John doesn't particularly like hugs, but he'll suffer through his mom's.) and then we watched him walk away and disappear into the crowd. And then we turned around, walked back to the car and returned home. Where we only have two children remaining. Steven returned to his work and I finished packing up the stuff John left behind and clearing out his room.

I admit that I've cried. It's kind of a happy cry, that I can turn to a laugh if I think about it. I'm sad that he's gone. I'm happy that he's going. I'll miss him, but he is going to meet so many people and make new friends. He'll be gone for two long years, but the time will go by fast, and I'll hear from him every week. The next two years will be so hard as he struggles to learn a new language and suffers disappointments and frustrations with both companions and investigators. But he is going to grow and learn and do so much good for others and for himself.

I don't remember feeling quite this way when Hannah left on her mission. But I think that may be because she had already been away at college before that. This is the first time John has been away from home for longer than a week long scout camp. I looked up what I wrote about dropping Hannah off at college the first time. That comes closer to how I feel now, only I'm a little worse now because he's gone for two years, and not just for a semester or two.

And I worry about him. I realize I'm parentoid. (parent + paranoid) I was so relieved this morning when I received his email to say he had arrived at the MTC in São Paulo safely. Over the last several months I've watched him confidently take a city bus into downtown Denver on his own. He's gotten apostilles and yellow fever shots and taken care of everything by himself. I've watched him do so many things with total self confidence. Now he'll be navigating a foreign country where he'll struggle to be able to communicate with anyone for months. But he isn't worried. He'll do fine. Why am I worrying?

And so I laugh at myself as I dry my stinging eyes and wipe my runny nose. This is his adventure. And he will be wonderful.

For anyone who would like to write to him, his email address is john.hiatt@missionary.org. His letters home will be posted at https://johnhiattmisson.blogspot.com/.

More Letters to Hannah


Dear Hannah,

Welcome to this week's installment of "What's happening at home?"

This week, we finally managed to submit all the paperwork for John's visa. We are desperately hoping that everything was submitted properly and that he will get his visa in time to attend the Brazilian CTM.

On Wednesday, I helped a lady in the ward get rid of her stuff. She has abundant health problems that have disabled her. She can't work any more and decided to move back to where her family is in Hawaii. This means that she can only take with her what will fit in a few suitcases. So we gathered up furniture, clothes, electronics, lamps, etc. and loaded up a couple truck fulls to take to Goodwill, and took several more loads to a dumpster. She doesn't actually leave until this week, so we'll go back Monday afternoon to finish and clean the apartment.

On Thursday, John and I drove down to the Deseret Book so John could get his temple things, and then on Saturday, bright and early, we took John to the temple for his endowment!!! Dan Clarine was his guide and officiated the session we attended. John will serve in the temple on Tuesday mornings until he leaves for the next couple months.

On Friday, Josh had a D&D party, where he spent all day as Dungeon Master for some epic adventure. They didn't finish their adventures however, so he returned on Saturday for the epic conclusion in which zombies were slain by the dozens (I assume... I wasn't there.) John attended the Friday adventures, not as a player, but as a spectator as he gathered material for yet another play which he is writing.

I have begun another tissue box cover project. This one is patriotic themed, and has an American Flag on it. I've completed the top, but I'm still figuring out how to do the sides.

Anyway, that's our week. I love you!!!!!!!



Dear Hannah,

How are things going?

On Monday I got to help a lady in the ward move. I mentioned her last week - she is moving to Hawaii so couldn't take much with her. I think in the end she only took clothes and what papers and stuff could fit in her carry on luggage. So we made a few trips to the Goodwill. A lot of her furniture will go to a family that recently moved into the ward with absolutely nothing. They have been living in a hotel for the last few weeks, but they are getting their own apartment on the 15th. [The Elder's Quorum president] is storing the stuff until then. It's kind of nice the way that all worked out. Anyway, we emptied out her place and cleaned, and then she spent Tuesday night with a ward member since her place was empty, and she flew to Hawaii Wednesday morning.

About once a week I've been giving [a sister in the ward] rides to physical therapy. That is a service that I kind of enjoy. I pick her up, drive her to the physical therapy place on the corner of Federal and 112th, get to read for about an hour, then take her home again. Sometimes she has an errand she'll want to do afterwards, and that usually isn't a big deal.

On Tuesday, one of the sisters I minister to had knee replacement surgery. She was in the hospital for a couple days, but I brought over dinner for her and her daughter on Thursday. She wasn't home from the hospital yet, but she was due back later that evening. I'm grateful for opportunities to serve.

Yesterday we spent a chunk of the day cleaning house. I asked each of the boys to good clean their assigned rooms (You can probably guess which one threw a fit about it...). I also pulled up the green indoor/outdoor carpet on the front porch. The tear on the edge of the step keeps getting bigger and I was afraid someone was going to trip over it. Anyway, with some puling and yanking we managed to get it up, but it left an ugly mess of hardened yellow glue underneath it. I went to Lowe's later and got a big metal scraper to help us scrape it off. Then we worked on scraping it for an hour or so and got maybe a third of the porch scraped off. Finally I threw down a new doormat and called it quits. We'll work on it more on other days and maybe eventually we'll get it all off.

We had the missionaries here over for dinner last night. They shared a message from Moses about how Enoch was slow of speech, and yet the Lord was able to use him to spread the gospel. I thought that was appropriate for our future missionary (-ies).

Tonight, one of my friends from elementary school is coming to visit. I haven't seen her since 4th grade! Anyway, she and her family will have dinner with us. It sounds like she has 7 kids so we'll have a house full. I've got roasts in both the crock pot and the instant pot. I hope we have enough! We'll also make rolls and salad and a green vegetable to go with it. She isn't a member of the Church, but I know that she has always been very involved in the church that she does attend. I'm looking forward to being able to catch up with her.

Good luck with the missionary work!

I love you!!!


Dear Hannah,

Hello, how are things going? We missed talking with you last week, but I'm sure you were off doing fun and exciting things. :)

Last week Monday, your dad had his medical procedure (a colonoscopy, doesn't that sound exciting?). Also the boys went to the dentist. The dentist strongly recommended that the boys (Josh and Peter anyway) get a water-pic to help them keep their teeth clean while they have braces on. I got one, but I don't know how much they've actually used it. To quote Peter, "It's weird!"

Tuesday was Josh's birthday. We got him some cool steampunk goggles and a smart phone with protective case and stuff. (His last phone only lasted a few weeks before he stuck it in a pocket with rocks and the screen broke.) I made his birthday cake - a two layer, round chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Nothing spectacular, but it did turn out well.

I don't remember if I told you last week, but on Saturday we pulled up the ugly green indoor/outdoor carpet on the front porch. It left behind a whole bunch of hardened glue that had to be scraped off. That has been my project this week - scraping glue. I got a big ugly blister on my finger which popped and then I think it tried to blister on top of that later even though I was wearing gloves. Anyway, on Friday I finally finished scraping and it looks great.

We're busy getting ready for our McClellan family reunion this week. Dad did most of the grocery shopping for it so today the living room is full of boxes of food and paper dishes and stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone - except you know, my brothers who can't come... Lindy is still kind of iffy... But I think the rest of my sisters are coming.

I guess that's it. I love you. I'm so glad that you are serving and you are always in our prayers.



Dear Hannah,

So this week we had our incredible 2019 McClellan Family Reunion of fun. It really was a lot of fun. Your dad did most of the planning... He reserved the yurts at the YMCA of the Rockies. He sent out surveys asking for opinions and the like. He bought the food.

So Monday afternoon, around 1pm, the Dawes arrived at our house and we caravanned to the YMCA. I got to drive the van with John and Peter, while Josh went with Dad in Scottie. Both vehicles were full of food and supplies. We arrived safely and checked in, and the rest family began to trickle in. The Brysons, the Betts, the McClellans (my parents) with Jessica Kerby, the Browns, the Cardons, and then Lindy and Tyler Kerby finally arrived at like 11:30pm. None of my brothers were able to come, and Heidi wasn't able to come with her family. *sad face* Still, we ended up with about 42 people there so it was quite a crowd.

The first evening was just spent greeting each other and talking. We had dinner, and then at our campfire that evening we did a talent show. That night, it was really cold. Each yurt had a queen size bed and two sets of bunk beds - so six people could sleep comfortably. Each bed came with sheets, pillow and a blanket - but that one blanket was not sufficient to keep us warm. The next day, your dad went to the laundry and was able to requisition a bunch more blankets, so we were more comfortable for the next couple days.

Tuesday we went rollerskating, played volleyball, and went tubing. Some people did archery and went swimming. It was a lot of fun. That evening, my parents shared their testimonies and answered some questions asked of them (e.g. what are some of the things that their children got in trouble for? I think my parents have forgotten (and forgiven) most or all of our childish offenses.)

On Wednesday we went for a hike and played miniature golf (just our family, not the entire clan). To sum up, we had a lot of fun. We did some activities as a big group (tubing, meals, and the evening campfires) did some activities as smaller groups (hiking, swimming, miniature golf) and we still had some time to relax and rest. We had plenty of food (I wish we could send you hot dog buns... we have plenty).

The boys drove back home Wednesday night so they could get to school at 7am the next morning. The Betts and the Cardons also left that day. Everyone else stayed one more night and left Thursday morning. Your Dad and I were the last ones in the yurt village Thursday making sure everything was cleaned up properly. And then we came home and spent the rest of that day and the next unpacking and resting. It is amazing how three days of "vacation" can be so exhausting!!!

I took plenty of pictures, and then invited my siblings who also took pictures to add theirs to the album. You can see them here: (https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipOfJ083_txKhTVRpDfav4geTs8UM-x-jSKNnanu-zlhRtDdnfX8IYUR7TJYNPP6Vg?key=YUxCRUEteG9aS25ybExqMHduV3FhcFF5cHhtYXNR)

Anyway, Josh and Peter are back in school and are enjoying it more or less. It still seems strange to think that Peter is in high school! I'm looking around for some things to do to keep myself busy for the next little while. Of course, I still have my calling, but it isn't a full time job, thank goodness! We do have a couple baptisms in the works. One 16 or 17 year old girl is getting baptized this Saturday, and another sister (RS aged) and her daughter will be baptized in the next week or so.

Also yesterday I took the boys to a real barbershop to get their hairs cut. Peter thought it was creepy. (pictures attached.)

I love you! I am so glad that you have chosen to serve the Lord.



Dear Hannah,

It's Sunday evening again. I'm trying to remember what happened this week. The younger boys are in school. John is keeping himself. We still need to do some shopping to get him the clothes and shoes and stuff he will need for his mission. I haven't done as much walking this week. My fitbit stopped working😣. I contacted customer service about it and they are sending me a new one... It should arrive on Tuesday.

I spent a good chunk of this past week helping [a sister in the ward] pack up all her stuff. On Friday she moved to Greeley to live with her daughter. I think that this will be a good change for her, but I will miss her. It's kind of funny, but as I have gotten to know her better, giving her rides to physical therapy and doctors appointments and the like, I have really come to like her and I will miss her.

Yesterday we did ministering interviews at the church. We had a fancy brunch set up in the Relief Society room with cream puffs (complete with pudding and chocolate sauce they could add), fruit salad, and tiny sandwiches. (Lisa Johnson helped plan and organize the brunch and wow!😲 The sandwiches had like four slices of bread with layers of tuna, cheese sauce, pimento and I don't know what else between them. The crusts were cut off and then they were sliced vertically into fourths. I got to garnish them by laying a quarter of a slice of cucumber on the top of each along with a tiny sprig of parsley. They were carefully arranged on serving platters, and I just looked at them and thought this was probably the fanciest thing I have ever been associated with.) Also they had a table where sisters could put together jars with a sugar scrub. The scrub smelled really good - kind of like lemon bars. So the point of the morning was that sisters could come do ministering interviews, but before or after meeting with a presidency member, they could eat and socialize and stuff. I think the sisters who came really appreciated it.

There was also a baptism in our ward on Saturday - right smack dab in the middle of our ministering interviews, but at the other building. [This girl is the grand daughter of one of the widows in the ward and sister of another girl] who was baptized a couple weeks ago. There will also be another baptism on Tuesday (same time as our other date for ministering interviews this quarter so once again I won't be able to go... but I will send a counselor who didn't have many people signed up that evening.) This baptism will be the wife and step daughter of a less-active member who is returning to the church. It is really exciting to see all the baptisms and reactivating happening in our ward.

I don't know if I'll have much opportunity to talk with you tomorrow. Josh and Peter have an orthodontist appointment in the morning at 11am, and I'm going to need to get them out of school for it. So just in case I don't get to talk with you, I love you so much!!! Keep up the good work!

Lots of love,


Dear Hannah,

How are things going? Did you enjoy the devotional with President Nelson? I know your Dad has been excited about that and is looking forward to hearing more about it.

Tomorrow is Labor Day and we are looking forward to a weekday off from school and work and the like. We were hoping that the boys would finish cleaning their rooms sufficiently yesterday that we could go hike or do something fun tomorrow, but they didn't quite finish so we'll see. My parents are coming on Wednesday to stay with us for a week, so it is important to me that the bedrooms get cleaned this weekend. I spent yesterday working on the rest of the house, including scrubbing the boys shower. *shudder* (That bathroom needs to be cleaned more often than it has been lately.)

This week I've had quite a bit of Relief Society stuff. We did another round of ministering interviews Tuesday evening. I missed the baptisms of a new member and her daughter that evening, but one of my counselors went to the baptism and I was able to visit with the newbie member the next morning. I also visited two sisters who recently moved into the ward within a few days of each other, and did some ministering visits of my own.

Josh and Peter went to the orthodontist on Monday. Josh got a thicker wire put in and Peter had a couple canines that have been hiding in the back connected to the wire so they can start moving forward into the spaces that have recently been created for them. As a result of all this, both boys spent the first couple days of the week in some discomfort. I tried to convince Peter to take some ibuprofen or something to ease the pain, but apparently taking a pill is worse than the pain from having his teeth rearranged.

I've taken John to do some more clothes shopping. I think we have all the clothing items he needs for his mission except for a few things we ordered online that should arrive in the next couple days. All that's left are odds and ends - like a first aid kit and moleskin. He only has a couple weeks left! We haven't received his travel plans yet, so I don't know if his visa has come.

I guess that is all the news from here. I love you!!!


Dear Hannah,

Hello! How are things going? I hope you have enjoyed your week.

Grandma and Grandpa came on Wednesday evening. I've loved having them here, playing games and just talking. Yesterday the boys and Grandma and Grandpa and I went to the park and had fun tossing a frisbee around, and then just sitting around in the shade enjoying the breeze. (I brought the camera, so here are a few pictures I took at the park.)

Last night they took all of us out to dinner at Applebees. That was a lot of fun, and then Grandma and I walked home to work off some of the delicious food we had eaten. I've liked having someone to walk with. 

Today John spoke in sacrament meeting. His topic was "Jesus Christ" (can you imagine a more generic topic?). He did a really good job, I thought. He took the scripture, "Learn of me and listen to my word, walk in the meekness of my spirit and you shall have peace in me." He broke it down and gave lots of scriptural examples. I think he is going to be a great teacher as a missionary... my biggest worries for him are more for communication with his companions. I think he has everything he needs for his mission now, except for his travel plans. We still don't know if he will be going to Provo or Sao Paulo on the 18th.

April and the kids came down and attended church with us to hear John speak. (Dean was on his way to Washington DC on a business trip.) They left Owen (their dog) at our house during church. Then we all had dinner together this evening (lasagna). It was kind of chaotic with everyone here (I'm sure you can imagine.) Mostly the dog stayed outside, carefully tied to a rope so he couldn't get at anything he shouldn't get to, but then it started to rain so they brought him inside and put him in a kennel, where he barked occasionally. Ishmael watched him from a wary distance, but Lala hid under my bed the whole time they were here.

I was hoping that Grandma and Grandpa would be around tomorrow to talk with you, but it sounds like they will be heading out early tomorrow morning. They are travelling to Missouri next to visit with the Browns and the Cardons.

I guess that's all the news from here. I love you! We always pray for you, but let us know if there are specific things that you would like us to pray for!


 Dear Hannah,

Happy,Happy Birthday!!! How does it feel to be 20? I hope your day is going well and that you have found some fun way to celebrate it!

So the big news here is that John got his visa, so he is heading to the Brazil CTM this week. His flight leaves here Tuesday around noon, but stops in Dallas, Texas for a couple hours before heading off to Brazil. I hope you get a chance to see him.

As far as other news... on Tuesday we had a RS activity. [A sister in the ward] answered questions about womens health. We talked about things like pregnancy and childbirth, how often certain health tests should be done, and ended up talking about mental health things like anxiety and depression. It was actually very interesting.

Peter talked to the Westminster City people again and has a definite plan for what his eagle project will be. Dad took him to Lowe's yesterday to start figuring out what all materials he will need and how much they would cost.

I'm not sure what else to tell you... I had a cold with a headache for a few days this week so basically sat around reading and not doing much else for the last half of the week.

I love you so much! I'm grateful that you have chosen to serve the Lord and I know that you are doing a great work! I'm so proud of you!!!


Sunday, July 21, 2019

John, John, Baptism, John

(Another excerpt from a letter to Hannah)

This week has been a busy one for us. John got his Eagle stuff submitted to the scout office on his birthday (after running around earlier in the week trying to get signatures and laboring over writing a statement of his life purpose), so that's all good. Now he just needs a board of review and he will be done!

Also, we have been working hard trying to get John's visa application stuff ready. Emails were sent to seminary and institute people, notaries were visited, and birth certificates were procured - I managed to order and receive a new one, but by then the one they used to get John's passport was returned so now we have two, so if the one we submit with his visa isn't returned, we still have one. Also fingerprints were taken, twice. On Monday, John went to the city place to get them taken, but they informed him that they don't do that anymore, and they sent him to a website where he found out they do that once a week at the College Hill Library. So he made an appointment and went to the library on Wednesday to have them taken. They took them digitally, and then sent them... somewhere. John told them he needed the fingerprints to get his visa and so they sent them wherever travel visa fingerprints are sent, and I'm not sure where that is, or what they'll do with them when they get them. So on Friday, John took the bus(!) downtown to get his fingerprints taken again, and this time they actually rubbed his fingers in ink and then stuck them to the card that we could mail to the one place for the FBI clearance, as our instructions told us to do. While he was downtown, he also got the apostilles that he needed. We have everything we need now except the FBI clearance, but as soon as that comes back we can mail the whole thing to the travel office. And pray that his visa arrives in time.

Yesterday there was a baptism. Sharon R.'s granddaughter was baptized. (Do you remember Sharon? She was my cute, short elderly ministering companion.) Also, three children were baptized by their father. The dad is a returning less active member, and he was ordained a priest last Sunday so that he would be able to baptize his family. The wife also wants to be baptized, but she was having a really bad day yesterday and wasn't feeling up to coming. I'm sure she will be baptized too in the next few weeks though.

John is supposed to be ordained an elder today. And he will probably receive his temple recommend and be endowed this weekend. It seems so strange to think that two of my children are now official adults. We celebrated his birthday yesterday and he got things for his mission - umbrella, camera, watch, socks, etc.

I'm attaching a couple photos. The first one is of the hail storm last week, taken from our front porch. The second one is John blowing out the candles on his cake. He baked it and decorated it himself. It was supposed to be a castle, but he had a lot of difficulty getting the turrets to stand up, and they fell over. It tasted good though!