Sunday, June 30, 2013

I just posted a couple of days ago, but I just wanted to write down some thoughts before forgetting them.  This picture was taken on Friday afternoon --
We are concerned about the heat and drought in the West --the fires and all are awful.  I do know that 115' is too hot for me even with air conditioning.  I know the dry heat makes warm days more bearable, but the heat the past few days in the Southwest is difficult, to say the least.  Our thoughts do wander back to the west coast and the concern for one and all.

We went to bed on Thursday night with hard rain, and we woke up on Friday morning with it raining just as hard.  We talked to the maintenance man here at the apartment complex, and there are other basements here that have flooded now.  Because our basement became a continual problem they finally put in a sump pump -- our basement is dry.  It definitely is not cold with the rain.  It gets quite humid, but our apartment is comfortable if we have the dehumidifier and air conditioners on.  Our air conditioners are definitely not what you would call "designer dreams".  Cool is worth the ugliness.  We are up above the streams, but many roads are and have been closed.  Downtown Utica was flooded and lots of inconvenience with road closures.  We are grateful for safety.This weather is supposed to continue for the rest of the week.

Herkimer was in the news again.  Our branch is located there, and the city was flooded horribly on Thursday night/Friday morning.  Our missionaries had water up to the dashboard and into their brand new car.  The car still worked, so they went to Utica to the mission home where they have a wet/dry vacuum.  They have stayed a couple of days because the hot water heater not working as it was down in the basement and it was flooded.  The National Guard was called in to help. 

Above is a picture of the Mohawk River/Erie Canal.  The water was above the wall and yachts were on the grassy area.  Water went across the road and across the divider.

Here the water has receded about 8 feet. 

 This was one of the village streets, and this certainly was not the worst -- the National Guard was there and it was not possible to get any closer.  The mud and silt make such a mess.

We had branch members who lost everything except their house-- their animals, garden, complete back yard.  The water completely covered their backyard.  A large work party went to their home yesterday to try to re-route the normally shallow little stream that at most is 6' wide.  There are streams all over the county, and the flood alert is not over.  The mission president went to this home, and when it is time that the water has receded enough, the missionaries in this zone will go out there to try to help with the cleanup.  Other people had basements flooded, no electricity, etc. etc. etc. 

I must say that it is beautiful here with all of the green.  We went out to the branch president's home yesterday -- without the GPS we would never find anything.  Their home was 20 miles away in the most beautiful countryside.

The freeway picture is the Revolutionary Trail now a freeway.  Such a lot of history here, and the villages are often more than 200 years old.  We don't always get our Preparation Days, so we are only able to explore once in a while.  Next Saturday we have a baptism -- which is a great thing!!! 

We were sustained and set apart today as Primary workers.  We teach the 7 year old CTR class, a great group of kids.  I hurry from class to Sharing Time where I play the piano -- I don't do that so well, but getting better.  I used to know the Primary songs on the piano, but if you don't use it you lose it. 

Again, we feel very blessed to be able to serve a mission here in New York.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I am happy and pleased that we made the decision to serve.  Our lives are blessed from associating with the missionaries, the humble people in the branch, our mission president and the others with whom we serve.  I will never be the same.  My love for the Savior has increased, and I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and our modern-day prophet.  We love each of you and are so grateful for notes and emails that we receive.  It means a lot.

Grammy and Papa, Elder and Sister Cutler, Friends

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I have  to go back and relearn  how to do this blog every time I do it, so please be patient with me.  We have had a couple of great weeks.  I am finally over my stomach ache.  I no longer drink milk but have been drinking Almond Milk.  Weird, for sure, but I just do not tolerate milk very well these days.  The second thing is that I have conquered the Mail Merge!!  I started working on it again, and knew that there was something we were missing.  I knew that the excel worksheet I kept saving was not quite right.  My partner in the office, Sister Barlow, suggested that we try one more time and add info into the IMOS program.  At any rate, we figured it out and I am now able to do the Mail Merge without looking at the directions.  This is a huge mountain I have climbed, and I am so grateful to be able to do it now.  It does save a lot of time.

We had 24 new missionaries come in on the eleventh of June, and we had two sister missionaries stay with us that night.  The breakfast went well (served 40 people), and then the missionaries had training.  We helped set up for the lunch, but there was one hang up -- the 30 pizzas that were ordered were late in coming.  Everyone was wondering what was going on and why the delay.  I would not say that the missionaries were cross, but it was getting a little late for their lunch.  One of the elders sat down to the piano and started playing "Called to Serve".  The missionaries came back into the room and got into a huge half circle and started singing with gusto.  It was incredible.  He played "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet" and a couple of other favorites and the spirit in the room was so strong.  President Wirthlin went around shaking hands and came back to the front of the room in tears.  I have the responsibility of taking the pictures of the new missionaries, their companions, and then with President and Sister Wirthlin.  That went smoothly and by the time we were finished the pizzas had arrived. 

Having all of the missionaries hanging around the office that day was also an incredible experience.  We really can feel the priesthood power when they are there, and we are so blessed to be able to participate in these transfer days.

That night there was a dinner at the Wirthlin's honoring the missionaries going home the next morning.  That experience is always special as well.  These missionaries were a huge addition to the mission and will be missed.  I must say, though, the new ones coming in are pretty awesome.  One of the Visa Waiters can speak Portugese fluently as well as German.  The way the missionaries are paired together is always a huge miracle. 

We went on a road trip on Saturday.  It is so beautiful here this time of the year.  We have had some HUGE lightning and thunder storms, and the rain comes down so hard -- sometimes it hails as well.  This Saturday was beautiful and clear.  We went up into the beginnings of the Adirondacks. 
The colors were beautiful -- this yellow area off to the side of the road was so pretty.  Does not show up as beautiful as it was.  Below is a lake that winds around to the left.  There were cabins there, and it looked like a fun place to visit again. 
This is a covered railway bridge next to the lake.  Some of these places are so old -- we plan to take a train up to the Adirondacks -- if not soon then in the fall.  Beautiful!!!
We went to a city called Boonville.  Our office partners are doing some genealogy for a member whose family is from Boonville.  We decided to go to the cemetery to see if we could see any of his family names. 

We did find some of his family names, whether they were his or not does not matter -- we just found some quite by accident on the side of the road.  This cemetery goes back to the 1700's.  The town of Boonville is in the distance.  These small towns are so interesting, and they date back to before the Revolutionary War.  One thing that we have a hard time with, though, is that there are no mountains to give us an idea as to which direction we are going.  The sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west, but part of the day we can't see it.  Reminds me of the First Presidency Message by President Uchtdorf in the June Ensign, "Walking in Circles".

As we were heading back we saw this Nirvana Spring Water sign.  This bottled water is supposed to be the BEST spring water.  I just plain and simply thought it was so funny to see this sign and then the spring with Canadian Geese all around in and about the water.  My love for Canadian Geese is not very great because of all the poop they drop all over the place.

 If you look closely you can see the geese in the distance.  Just one of my quirky pictures..... .

Last Thursday, June20, Dad and I needed to go to Hamilton, NY to see an apartment where sisters were living.  They were trying to have a sense of humor and not complain about their situation, but when we saw the conditions there I told Dad that we had to get them out.  I took pictures, but I won't bore you with those.  The place has been rented for 10 years or more, and there was so much stuff collected in the apartment that you could hardly move.  Plus it was dirty.  I really felt sick to my stomach when we left.  The landlord owns 200+ apartments in Hamilton and the surrounding area.  He was willing to let the church roll over the lease and security deposit.  We found another apartment, and yesterday (Wednesday, June 26th)  they moved in .  They are so excited, and I am very pleased for them.  Many of the apartments have been rented for several years, so we will be going out and inspecting the places to see if they are okay.  The Assistants are going to be moving as soon as they can find an apartment -- their place is nice enough but needs painting, etc and cleaning out the accumulated junk.  One nice thing is that you can put stuff out on the sidewalks where it is collected.  That will be a huge help!!!

We spent a good portion of Saturday taking care of the 5 youngest of 7 children of members of the branch.  They were desperate for help, so it was our fun to help out.  They live in a 200 year old brick house in the country -- bricks falling off of the siding, and lots and lots of work to renovate the place.  They are a cute family and we had a nice time.  We had a late lunch/early dinner at a restaurant called The Chowder House.  I had the best scallops ever -- even beat out Ivars!!!  I am hoping that we can go again because the meal was so good.

The meeting on Sunday night for missionaries and local church leaders was a wonderful meeting.  Elder Holland conducted the meeting, and he said, "To all the full-time missionaries sharing in this broadcast around the world, we say never again in your entire life are you going to be part of a zone conference this large!"  We looked for Kara in the choir, but we did not see her.  What an incredible experience for her to be there.  The missionary work is going to move forward at a greater and greater pace -- just hope we can keep up.  The Lord will not let this work fail, and we are so thankful to be here at this time to be part of the tsunami.  The members of the church will have an increase in responsibility for missionary work.  Lots of changes......

Will close for now.  We are doing fine -- still so very tired after spending the day in the office, but we are happy and healthy.  We love you each one, and you are in our thoughts and prayers.  Have a good weekend!!!  Be safe and know of our love.

Mom and Dad, Grammy and Papa, Elder and Sister Cutler


Sunday, June 9, 2013

We are back!!!  As I have said before, the weeks fly by and we find that we are behind in our blogging.  Groundhog Day does not describe our lives, but we do a lot of the same things during the weeks of the month.  We had some time to do errands at lunch on the 16th of May and decided we would eat at a Asian restaurant at the mall.  We will not make that mistake again.  We both got horrible food poisoning that lasted from that night until Monday the 20th -- sick sick sick!!!  We continue to get stomach aches.  The awful thing about the whole experience is that at an office staff meeting  the AP's asked us where we had eaten -- and they said we had not eaten chicken.  What?  Then what did we eat?  They were not going to tell us, but others wanted to know as well.  It came out and we almost got sick again -- we had eaten possum....... Gag again!!!  I said "you mean we ate road kill?"  Yup.  No way -- Elder Tollefson said the restaurant is being investigated for serving sub par food -- not what they are advertising to be serving.  Well, Scott asked me whatever were we thinking to eat Asian food in a small Asian restaurant in rural New York?  I guess I will wait until we get home to eat at "The Taste of Asia" -- awesome food there.  We were so sick, and we missed an "exploring" trip with our friends and Stake Conference.  We were most disappointed. 

We were sad to hear of the passing of Sister Frances J. Monson. 
She was truly a remarkable woman.  As I have read the Church News, over and over the remarks about her life indicated how dedicated she was to serving the Lord.  President Eyring said, "Her talents were many, her love abundant, her character above reproach and her faith unshakable."  She is a good example for each of us to follow.  There is much more I could say, but there will probably be a book written about her that we can read.  We were able to watch her funeral on the computer in the office. One thing that we noticed was how old President Monson looked, and his coloring was not good at all.  I am sure that he has had a big load with her illness, his health issues, and the huge responsibilities that are his being the Prophet.  He has also been an incredible example of a life in service to the Lord.

The week of the 24th of May Dad was busy trying to get 8 apartments.  They now use the missionaries, primarily the zone leaders, to find the apartments that the President wants in the various areas.  It is amazing how it all comes together, and Dad has said many times that he has felt the tender mercies of the Lord in finding these apartments.  They are all nice apartments and furnished nicely as well.  The missionaries are all awesome!  They always seem to come through.  They are out in the various areas, find an apartment, call Dad, take pictures of the apartment inside and out, email the pictures to Dad, Dad calls the manager, and then the leases are put together.  Amazing how well it has worked.  There has only been one that Dad said he would not let a pig of his live in -- and so the missionaries are now very careful.  Google Earth helps as well.

On Saturday the 25th of May, we had a pancake breakfast at the Barlow's.  His pancakes are so very good!  We then went out exploring.  This time of year is so beautiful here.  All different colors of green.  There aren't any mountains, so it is hard for me to get my bearings, but with the GPS we are able to do fine. We headed out of Utica towards Rome, NY.  We saw an obelisk on the right hand side of the road and took a side trip to where the Battle of Oriskany was fought in August of 1777.  It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War.

This was one of the few battles in the war where almost all of the participants were North American:  Loyalists and Indians (against the Revolutionaries) fought against Patriots in the absence of British soldiers. There is a lot I could write, and it was a very interesting side trip in preparation for our time at Fort Stanwix.                                                              

Fort Stanwix played an important role in the Revolutionary War period.......
The 27th I went with Dad to deliver some phones and then he had to do the final work for a lease.  It was a beautiful day and we drove along the Catskill Mountains and over to Cooperstown.  The countryside was absolutely gorgeous.  The day was a bit hazy, but I had to take a few pictures to show we were there.   I love pictures of silos,
so I try to take  a picture whenever I can.  This  one was set against the Catskills, but they are not mountains as we know them.                                

On June 1st, a week ago, we drove to Clinton, New York and saw some beautiful old churches -- 1700's.  There are all different kinds of churches, each unique in their own way.  It is hard to get far enough away to get the church without the electrical wires, but here is a sample of one in Clinton.

Our day would not be complete without going to a bakery.  They said that these "half moon" cookies are famous from this area -- delicious too!

It was a fun day  -- went to farmer's markets, antique markets, the Oneida Silver Store in Oneida,
and just lots of looking around. 

We are so thrilled to have Kara out on her mission now.  The MTC is a wonderful place, and I know she is feeling the spirit in great abundance.  She will be a fantastic missionary, I know. And our love and blessings to Kirk as he starts his time as a Bishop.  He will be fantastic, and his family will be a great support to him.  Julie, you will be blessed as well!!  

Sunday, June 2 we had a fabulous musical evening put on by the Utica Central District.  Elder Borgia (from Morgan Hill) played the acoustical guitar and sang, and Elder Rymer (from Mapleton, Utah)played the piano and sang also.  Both are very talented, good voices, play their instruments well, and then the other missionaries in the district each had speaking parts to pull the evening together in a celebration of Christ.  It was wonderful!!!  We were very impressed with the music and the spoken word was good as well.  Such a nice Sunday evening, and another  great testimony of the role of Christ, his atonement, and the restoration of the gospel.

Monday, June 3.  Today is my Dad's (Mom) 98th birthday!!!  Does not seem possible that so many years have passed by without him.  He was 54 when he died.  He was a good man and has been missed by us all. 

This week Dad has been delivering furniture to the eight apartments.  The missionaries at the different locations do the lifting and carrying, so Elders Barlow and Cutler just get the furniture there and supervise the delivery.  The system works well.  I had a very slow week as far as the weeks I have experienced so far.  I was doing things that had not been done in a long time and feeling pretty good that I had worked ahead of schedule.  On Thursday afternoon as I was working at the computer I had a real shock -- I was supposed to have the Monthly Newsletter ready for Friday delivery to the Zone Leaders.....  I had half of it done, but I had to really get going on Friday to have it finished in time.  I was so glad that I was able to finish in time -- the typing and computer angels were by my side for sure------

We had another tender mercy yesterday in regards to another apartment.  As we were leaving the office on Friday, President Wirthlin told Dad that he needed to get one more apartment.  Changes in the missionaries coming on Tuesday made this extra apartment necessary. I guess President Wirthlin had told the zone leaders in Albany of the need.  We received a phone call yesterday morning that they had found an apartment.  The lease has been emailed, the pictures emailed, and yesterday we spent our Preparation Day buying the things other than furniture that are needed for the apartments -- lamps, irons, ironing boards, pots and pans, etc. etc. etc.  We were able to finish and get the trailer loaded by 3:30 yesterday afternoon so that the furniture and all can be delivered tomorrow.  I will never doubt that the Lord is in charge of this important work.  .He knows the needs.  We are so lucky to see these things take place first hand.

We love each of you and pray for your wellbeing.  We are very blessed that you are part of our lives.

Love, Elder & Sister Cutler, Grammy & Papa, Mom & Dad.