Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Sunday, December 14, 2014

During the past couple of weeks, we have been able to meet many members and investigators of the Church here in Ogdensburg and Gouverneur.  Our Sundays are very busy as we attend our three hour block meetings here in Ogdensburg and where Elder Knight is the First Counselor to the Branch President.  After those meetings, we travel to Gouverneur, which is about 45 minutes away where we participate in their meetings as well for two hours.  They have what is called a Dependent Branch there.  Both have small groups and it is easy to like them.  They are humble and kind people and we are enjoying them.

During the week, we have a “P-Day” (personal day) on Mondays.  The young missionaries come to our house to do their laundry in the morning on those days.  Linda and I have been able to get to Watertown to do some shopping and have date night.  It is about an hour and ten minutes from here.  During the rest of the week, we are out and about visiting members and helping the Elders teach investigators and giving service where needed.  For example, last Friday a young family in the Branch needed to go to Syracuse and Watertown for personal and doctor appointments so Linda babysat their two little girls during the day.  I took the three little boys to and from school so that the husband and his wife could make the trip more easily.  Syracuse is slightly over two hours away.  We were active in assisting the Branch, which included the Gouverneur group with a Thanksgiving Dinner and then with an early Christmas Dinner as well.  Linda knows how to pitch in with organizing and running such activities and I’m a good dishwasher.  It has been fun and we have already seen some nice things happen for us and the Branch here.  We actually feel blessed to be here and to be serving.

As for the weather, we've had very little snow – just what you see in the earlier pictures.  But it has been very cold for this Arizona couple.  It’s mostly been in the teens and when the wind blows it’s just, well, wretched.  We layer and bundle and stay inside as much as possible.  I told Jim when we bought the car we would be happy to have the heated seats!  The people around here have said it’s going to get much worse!  Oh my goodness.  I won’t be able to walk if I layer any more.


Elder & Sister Busby from Tucson are serving in Brockville, Canada just 20 minutes from us (Jim met him years ago in Tucson). We've known his brother & sister-in-law from Tucson since we moved there in 1988. I ran into them in a local grocery store where they shop weekly.
It's such a small world in the church. 

 Our elders - Elder Ounesavath & Elder Hong 

 Elder Ferris (middle) is from the Tucson North Stake! 
Again, small world.

Members from both our Branch and Twig!

The ice is beginning to develop along the banks of the river as you can see by the dock. 
The river will freeze over soon.

Sister Gelinas & Sister Gochner serve in the Gouveneur area.

Elders serving the Christmas dinner to the members.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week One...

Shel's note: Received updates today from Mom & Dad. Their internet was finally hooked up, so we're doing some catching up!

Our first week of our mission has been wonderful - filled with great experiences and strange weather!

Saturday, Nov. 15
We noticed a wall in the living room of our rental home with pictures of the last five senior couples who have served here in the Ogdensburg area and lived in this home. The couple that served here from 2010-2011, Brent & Pauline Esplin, lived in Westerville, Ohio at the same time we did in the early 80’s. Amazing!

Sunday, Nov. 16
Today we went to our first Branch meeting in Ogdensburg from 10am-1pm. They meet in a small but beautiful LDS building. We were there early enough to meet some of the members as they came in. They were all so welcoming and seemed genuinely happy to have us there. There were only 29 there for the meetings. 
We were sitting on the stand since we were the speakers for the day (the youth speaker didn’t come) and five minutes before the meeting began, Jim & Elder Hong asked me to ‘run’ the organ! I’ve never even sat at one so panic set in. The Elder gave me a quick lesson on finding the song and then how to keep pressing a key to keep it on beat. Thank goodness the chorister heard him and said we could set it automatically to keep the beat, which can be selected from the controls for each song. At the end of each verse I had to tap a button to start the next verse. During the song she leaned over and said we needed more volume and of course I was clueless. She said to push the pedal so I did and we had very loud music for a few seconds. It was just crazy. I’m pretty sure the congregation was thinking how they were glad it was me instead of them. No judging at all! I’ve already been asked to do it again next Sunday, so I guess no one else thought they could do it better but that sure wouldn't have taken much. I’ll be an expert soon. The good news is I didn't stress about my talk since I was so busy with the music.
The next meeting was in Gouverneur about 30 miles away where about the same number of members meet in a large room of a retirement home. There is one member who lives there and he was able to get permission for us to use their large dining room every week. Some of the members who live in the area are older or without transportation so this is done so they can come and participate. This meeting is from 3-5pm. I am guessing we will be giving a lot of Sacrament talks in the next 18 months.

Monday, Nov. 17
Our first opportunities for service came today. We were headed to Heuvelton to visit a family from our Branch. The roads were wet and it was lightly snowing. There was an Amish couple in their buggy heading towards us with a car approaching them from behind. The driver must have been worried about the timing of us approaching and she hit her brakes and spun clockwise. The back left side of her car hit the back left buggy wheel & jolted the buggy but hardly moved it. She then went off the road, nearly hitting an electric pole. We turned around and went to see what we could do. The Amish couple was just fine, as was the horse and they were very nice about the whole incident. They smiled and said everything was fine. They took off and the Elders and Jim proceeded to push the car until she got it back on the road. Jim was splattered, literally, from head to toe in mud. I failed to get a picture of him – it was snowing & he just needed to get wiped up as much as possible. We had to go back home so he could clean up and change clothes.
Just as we were ready to head back to Heuvelton we received a call from a member working at a local grocery store saying there was an older woman who was distraught about needing help moving some items from her porch to their upstairs rental home. Of course a large sofa was involved. So, we met her at the grocery store and followed her to her home. Her husband has serious health issues and was unable to help. When we took the cushions off the sofa I found a measuring tape (I took that as a sign) and suggested the men measure to make sure it would fit since there was a bend in the stairs and then what looked like too small of an opening at the top of the stairs, in my humble opinion. I was assured it would fit. Well, after 20 minutes of balancing and maneuvering this 3 cushion, very heavy old sofa on the stairway they gave up and brought it back down and out on the porch. 

(Update – today is the 24th and Jim’s back is giving him fits and we all know why. He has been counseled by our Mission President to not move any more furniture and to leave it to the young missionaries. We’ll see if he can follow that counsel. I've ordered him an inversion table as an early Christmas present.)

Wednesday, Nov. 19
We were supposed to drive to Watertown, just one hour southwest of here to get our car 'winterized' but the service department called to let us know they were having a blizzard and the roads were closed. Thank goodness they called because it was sunny here & we had just started to drive that way. So, we decided to drive to Ottawa which is only one hour away. It was a beautiful sunny day when we left. We found a shopping mall and did a little browsing. We headed home after about an hour and just as we were approaching the bridge back to the US we found ourselves in the middle of a snowstorm. Thank goodness we live one minute from the bridge!  

Mall in Ottawa

 Snowing on the bridge crossing back to New York

Snow & the St. Lawrence River 

St. Lawrence River 

View of the St. Lawrence from our living room window

Beautiful old church in Malone

Saturday, November 15, 2014

To begin...

As mom and dad are heading out on their mission, I've put together a Blog to capture their time away for those interested in following their journey. I will occasionally throw in tidbits which will be identified as: Shel's notes

For the most part, these posts will be the letters and photos sent. We will start with a few text messages and photos from their journey, which begins...

Monday, November 3
First day at the MTC... clearly not in Arizona any longer. Cold and snowy in the mountains!

 Found Lindsey Paris in the cafeteria.
Shel's note: Lindsey is the daughter of friends here in Tucson, she also just left on her mission.

The view from our room. 

It's been a wonderful day - orientation and meeting many senior couples who are going all over the world. We met four couples going to Australia and several to Africa. Of course many headed various other places: Fiji, Russia, India, Adriatic, Scotland, Ireland and several others to the Family History Center in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, November 4 
Shel's note: It's Dad's birthday - so we had sent a birthday card along with mom and then everyone in the family (there are a lot of us) began texting "Happy Birthday" at the same time to flood his cell phone with wishes.

Gave him the birthday cards before class today & everyone sang to him. So fun! He's enjoying all the texts right now. We are headed to a devotional in a minute. There will be a General Authority speaking - should be inspiring.

Wednesday, November 5
We are heading to dinner and then off to the Provo Temple. We were sealed there as a family & haven't been back. 

Shel's note: I'm looking for the photo that was taken the day we were sealed and will add it.

Friday, November 7
Shel's note: Mom and Dad returned to Tucson to spend one last weekend with us before driving to New York.

Monday, November 10
 Made it to El Paso for dinner at a wonderful restaurant recommended by our friends, the Baca's. Then headed for our stay at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa, courtesy of our dear friends the Libby's. We are spoiled! It's all in who you know. Good friends indeed.

Tuesday, November 11 
Staying outside of Oklahoma City. 
It's cold - been in the 30's all day. Just a taste of what is to come!

Wednesday, November 12
Crossed into Missouri - it's 28 degrees. 

Later...It's up to 34 now... heat wave.  Soon the sweater will be coming off!

Thursday, November 13
- OHIO -

Friday, November 14
 Snowing this morning in Cleveland... 16" up by the lake so we couldn't go to Kirtland. Thank goodness I'd changed our hotel a couple of days ago or we would have been right in that. We didn't hit any of it, but the snow is headed east, so I'm hoping we stay ahead of it.

Oh, dang. 

Final Destination

On our way to Syracuse for dinner with the Wirthlins and Clays. 

With President & Sister Wirthlin
With Marc & Kathy Clay
Shel's note: We've known the Clay family since our time living in Ohio. It turns out that they live within the mission area and were able to join mom and dad for dinner their first evening with the Wirthlins.

Saturday, November 15
Our house on the right (owner stays in the red cottage in the summer). It is truly lovely. 
Exhaustion has set in and we are both speaking in both branch Sacrament meetings tomorrow! 

This was in Ogdensburg - Amish all around.