Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fall Festivities and Christmas Cheer 2016 Comes to an End!

This past fall was an adventure. I went on an LDS Church history tour for 2 weeks in October with a good friend. Even though our family had lived in PA and had been to all of the sites, it had been many years and I had several items on my bucket list that this trip would realize! So off we went with the Webb Tour group! There were about 30 of us...all very delightful people!
First stop Boston, where we gained an appreciation for the cradle of our nation!
Here we are, Carol and I at the No Name restaurant having some deliciously fresh seafood! Doyle and I had been here many years ago, but that was when it was an old wharf with nothing there but the restaurant. Now the area has been developed, but still a charming place.
 Next day we took a tour of the Freedom Trail, passing Paul Revere's home and touring the North Church where the signal was given as warning of the approach of the British regiments. We also saw the USS Constitution, went to Lexington Green and Concord. Much US history to be remembered in this area.
 Paul Revere home.
 Loved this reflection of the old Trinity Church on the face of a new glass high rise....quite the contrast. Boston is a beautiful city of contrasts.
This is the actual old Trinity Church. Very impressive architecture and incredible detail!
Some of the intricate detail on the Trinity Church.
This monument in the Concord area touched my heart, as it is a tribute to all of the young men who left their plows behind, took up their muskets for the cause of freedom and along with many others, gave their life for the sake of being a free nation. Very humbling.
 It was a bit late to attend a session at the Boston Temple (however I had been through it before), but the grounds were beautiful and it is always nice to visit the house of the Lord!
One of the reasons we decided to take this trip in the fall was the beauty of the fall colors. This was one of my favorite things about living in the east and I was eager to see the glorious colors once again. On our way to Topsfield and Sharon, Vermont we saw many lovely scenes such as this.
 Although there is much history through this area, I will spare you too many details and photos (believe me I took MANY!) The church has a beautiful area in Sharon, VT with a monument to Joseph Smith. They have added a very pretty Ward building at the site, where the kind sisters had prepared a lunch for us.
This bronze likeness of Joseph Smith in the visitor's center in Sharon was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made by the early saints.
A quick drive-by photo of some of the fall foliage that took our breath away! 

 Our next stop was the famous Palmyra, home of the Book of Mormon translation and the sacred place of the restoration of the Gospel. We stopped at the Palmyra Temple. Due to scheduling problems, we were told that we would not be able to do a session here. Long story short...I wrote to the temple president and asked if we could attend. This temple would have been ours had we remained in Pennsylvania and it was high on my bucket list. Needless to say, we were able to attend and learned many amazing things while there!
 There is much to see in this area and the Hill Cumorah was one of the many places where the Spirit touches hearts! Monument to the angel Moroni.
This is the view from the top of the hill overlooking the splendid valley below.
No trip to this area is complete without going out to the Joseph Smith home and retracing his footsteps into the Sacred Grove, where God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision. The grove remains undisturbed with small dirt pathways and a few benches for those who wish to sit and contemplate the greatest event since Christ came to the earth to perform the atonement.

Standing in front of the Grandin building, where the Book of Mormon was first printed is a long-time friend from our PA days, DD Harris and his lovely wife Sue. It was so good to renew our friendship while eating a delicious meal at their home!!
 We were able to stop off at the Priesthood Restoration site outside of Harmony, PA. A small cemetery holds the remains of some of the Smith family. Here is the Susquehanna River where Joseph and Oliver Cowdrey were ordained and baptized. When we lived in PA, we were many miles south, but this same peaceful river was the back border of our property in Athens, PA.
These Black-eyed Susans were just begging for my camera to capture their beauty!

Although I had been to the Niagara Falls several times, I had never ridden the Maid of the Mist. It was a moving experience to feel the power of these falls from the standpoint of these seagulls on the water!! Very impressive!
Our next stop was Kirtland, Ohio where the body of the Saints came for refuge and spent their life blood building a house to the Lord. Although no longer in use as a temple, it is a powerful testimony to the faith of the early Saints.
 While touring the many sights in Kirtland, I especially enjoyed seeing the upper room in the Newel K Whitney store that was used as the School of the Prophets. It was here that more than half of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received along with many heavenly manifestations that prepared those who attended to strengthen and lead the church.

 Following Kirtland, we made our way to beautiful Nauvoo where we were able to attend this exquisite replica of the early Nauvoo Temple and enjoy the many restored homes belonging to the early saints. At one time this tiny area was the second largest city in Illinois.
 While in Nauvoo I was able to meet up with some dear friends we met while serving in the Asia North Area. President and Sister MacArthur were then serving as the Japan MTC President. Now they are nearing the end of their 3 year mission as President of the Nauvoo Temple. It was heart-warming to see friends from days gone by!
 As Carol and I walked down Parley St. headed for the mighty Mississippi River, we looked back on the temple, as the early saints might have done as they left their beautiful city, Nauvoo and the glorious temple they had built. All to be left behind because of persecution. 
This evening photo of the bronze statues of Joseph and Hyrum on their way to Carthage jail was especially poignant- knowing they would never return to their families in Nauvoo.
Our visit to the Carthage jail, where Joseph and Hyrum gave their lives for their testimonies. Much to the disappointment of the church's detractors, this did not end the Lord's church and Priesthood on the earth. Would they not be surprised to know that we are now 15.5 million strong and still growing!
 Adam-Ondi-Ahman or Spring Hill was a quick stop where we heard many stories of the future wonders that will happen in this holy place. This photo was taken from the top of Spring Hill looking into the valley. The hill has been dedicated for a temple, which has yet to be built.
 The temple lot in Independence, Missouri was of particular interest, as it is marked, but too remains unbuilt for the present.
 The four month confinement of Joseph and Hyrum and others in the Liberty jail was the final episode of the saints trying to establish Zion in this area. Although Doctrine and Covenants 121-123 were received during this time, it was a dark and lonely time for these men who were housed in this dungeon prison of Clay County, Missouri.
 The St Louis Missouri temple rises in majesty as we make a quick tour of the grounds before heading to the St Louis airport to return home, much enriched and uplifted by our experiences!

It would probably be prudent to stop now, but in the interest of "catching up", I will continue to wear out your eyes on a bit more of our fall and winter happenings!

 Time for Halloween and Haven and her family always get excited to dress up. Haven is so creative and always coming up with amazing costumes and ideas! She and T were cave-people, Nea was the Queen of Hearts, Little T a shark, Liora a Triceratops (she would correct you if you tried using the generic- dinosaur) and Matthias who will opt to be a bat or Batman until he is 30!
 For my friend Carol's birthday, I got tickets for a community theater group doing "The Little Mermaid". They did a great job, and I especially liked the enthusiasm of Sebastian the crab!
After announcing to the kids that I would be in Utah for Christmas, there were a few takers for Thanksgiving. Ariel and Nathan came sans kiddos, Nathan's dad Jerry who lives in town, Haven and her family, Autumn and Joel, Noble and Ammon came sans family, so we ended up with 14. They made sure that turkey did not die in vain!!
 Leftovers are the best!!!
 The weekend of December 10th, I had a little Christmas party for Ariel's bunch and Haven's gang as I would be leaving the next week. We made gingerbread houses and enjoyed a ham dinner. I sure do love my family!!! (pictured Levi, Lael and Ty- Ariel's inherited sweethearts!)
 I was not going to decorate for Christmas, but had to for the Dec 10 party and I was glad I did. Somehow the decorations and music always bring the Christmas spirit! Had our first snowfall December 6...and here it is Jan 19 and it is still on the ground along with another 8 inches and assorted ice layers! Rough winter here...been below zero several times. I need a condo in AZ!!
 Off to Utah where I spent Christmas with Micah and family and Noble and family. Little Caleb does some creative breathing when he decides to be Darth Vader!
 Caleb, Eden and Cosi enacting the nativity on Monday night Family Home Evening!
 Julian and Noble joined us on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Looked to me like everyone was having a great time!
 This little scamp was a gift from Micah and Becky for the kids. His name is Morris and he has quite the spunky personality!
Rebecca put together this adorable book for my Christmas present. It has pictures of me with the kids and grandkids through the years. She is so very thoughtful! I love it!!!

Came home for the New Year to more should have their fill of winter activities this year!! Haven has a sloped back yard, so several ramps and slides keep the kids busy!
 So from the frozen Northwest, I wish everyone a prosperous, healthy and happy 2017!