Sunday, August 25, 2013

Random Thoughts through August

As I look over our pictures from the last month, I can see that we have not taken many.  Our days continue to be full, and our schedule goes on from week to week.  We are pretty much on a six-week schedule, so where we are in that period determines what we will be doing.  Before I go further, I want to include a beautiful picture taken in July.

Elder Cutler has a similar picture as this with the same quote hanging in his office.  Its message is incredible.  As we continue serving our mission, we more and more realize what the Prophet Joseph Smith did for each of us.  His part in the Restoration, the translation of the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restoration of the Priesthood and the ultimate sacrifice of his life mean more to us than ever before.  What a blessing he is to each of us!!
Our last transfer was the 23rd of July, and we had 12 new missionaries come, including 4 VISA Waiters.  That week is full of lots of paperwork in the office and getting everything in place for the new apartments.  One day when Dad and Elder Barlow were out delivering furniture, he saw this beautiful site in downtown Utica.  It was a memorial to all those soldiers from Utica who have received Purple Hearts. 
We were excited to see the pictures from the Leadville 100 and for how well Mike Staffieri and Greg Francis did in the race.  Both had personal records -- lots of training goes into this accomplishment and we were so glad that they both did well.  Those big buckles mean a lot!!!

On one of our trips to "The North Country" we delivered some things to apartments, inspect them, and checked to see if the apartments are "worthy" to have their leases renewed.  One of the apartments we visited Dad noticed the smell of gas.  He told the elders to open up the windows to keep the place ventilated.  He called National Grid and they said to tell the missionaries someone would be there within 45 minutes and they were to get out of the apartment.  They were to leave the door unlocked and if they didn't the repairman would knock it down.  There was a small gas leak in the oven, so it was a good thing Dad was aware that day!  All of the apartments have to have carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors, but they do not detect the gas. 
While here we have had the best corn-on-the-cob we have ever had, and there are cornfields everywhere.  The golden area in the background is a cornfield.  The cornfields are huge, and it is so beautiful to see the gold set against the green.  We are going to miss the corn once the season is over.  
Revolutionary Trail
On our way back to Utica we stopped at the greatest ice cream place!  I love ice cream anyway, and this is the very best ever.  It is just a stop on the side of the road, and unless you were familiar with "Mercer's",  you would just drive on by.  One of the former Assistants loved the Play Dough flavor and would always stop when he was in that area.  He is now in the northern most part of the mission, Massena, and in a walking area.  The hope is that they will have a car before the -20' weather comes in the winter.  At any rate, this ice cream is the best.

The Sister's Conference was the 9th and 10th of August.  The Sister Trainer Leaders thought it would be a good idea to have a Sisters' Cookbook.  I was in charge of putting it together.  It was a lot of fun, but the amount of typing I did was hard on the wrists, etc.  The conference was a huge success and we hope there will be another one in a year.  Although in a year we won't be here!:-(
The following weekend we had a Senior Couples Conference, and we thoroughly enjoyed that as well.  We realize that our mission is unique and very different from the others.  The one thing we know, though, is that each of us was called by a Prophet to be where we are.  We love this time here and feel so blessed.  The last day of the conference we went to the Herkimer Diamond Mines.  (Herkimer is where we go to the branch on Sundays -- where the big flood occurred the first part of July.)

President Wirthlin

Sister Wirthlin

Mom hammering away in search of diamonds!!

The apartment in this house is really quite nice.  One of the things that we check at every apartment is whether they have bed bug mattress covers.  Bed bugs are a problem in this climate, so we try to make sure that the missionaries are protected this way.  They have lots of training on what to do. 

Some members who live above the missionaries apartment but red tape on the missionaries' door with a sign that said the place was in foreclosure.  We had a good laugh.

 Last Sunday we left Herkimer on our way to Albany, as we were taking two missionaries to Boston.  One of them, a VISA waiter, needed to have a physical, blood work and chest X-Ray there.  The Australian Embassy required certain doctors, and the closest was Boston.  We really had a nice day.  Since we were in Saratoga Springs already, we did not have to travel far to pick up the sisters.  They were a joy to be with for the day. We saw a Trader Joe's on the way to the doctor (on the same street), so you know that Dad had to make a stop there to get his salami, cheese and nuts.  We then went to a Greek restaurant for lunch and had Gyros (like tacos). 
One of the sisters is from Idaho, and the travel she has experienced is very limited.  She really wanted to see the Boston Temple.  We figured it was only 20 miles out of the way, so we went to see the temple.  It is beautiful, and the grounds were in their prime.  We arrived back at their apartment by 6:00 in plenty of time for them to make their 7:00 appointment.  We drove the rest of the way back to Utica and arrived home a bit after 8:00.  It was a long day (14 hours), but we had a good time.  The missionaries are always so grateful for anything done for them.


We office couples try to have prayer every morning before we start working, and we feel as though the days go better when we do.  Elder Barlow gave us this quote to mull over, and I don't want to forget.  We have found that we have a lot in common with them -- 6 children, her middle name is also Lou, both have had grandchildren pass away within the last year -- lots of different parallels in our lives.  We enjoy them and value their friendship.
Friday was Special Training, where the latest new missionaries and their trainers come for more mission training.  This group was considerably smaller than the others we have had since being on our mission, and it was a more relaxing day.  We office couples have different areas where we train, and of course the Assistants, and President and Sister Wirthlin do their training.  We did not have any missionaries stay with us this time, and the lunch was only for 35.  We usually have Chicken Riggies, which is a local favorite (Google it -- almost impossible to find outside of the Utica-Rome area) and we have it catered from a local restaurant along with their incredible antipasto.  Dessert is usually a brownie with ice cream.  A candle is lit as the president serves each new missionary and the missionary gives his/her favorite scripture on "light".  It is a fun time to see the growth of these new missionaries and how they come out of their shells.
Yesterday we had our first experience going out with a couple of elders in downtown Utica for a missionary lesson.   They wanted us to go and testify of the truthfulness of their message.  It was a wonderful experience and very glad for the opportunity.  They are awesome missionaries, and we felt privileged that they wanted us to come with them.  THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!   I know it.
Today was our Primary Program.  The children all did such a good job.  We had three non-member children who participated, and they learned the songs (two sang solos) and they bore their testimonies.  One of the sections was on "I am Thankful because..."  One of the younger girls said she was grateful for her skin because you can't see my insides and my body parts won't fall out.  She probably had some coaching, but it was really cute.  There are wonderful people in this branch, and they are raising incredible children. 
I will now close, but I do want each one to know that it is a privilege to be in the mission field at this time.   We have seen many changes and have experienced many tender mercies.  We know that the Lord is in charge of this mighty work and that as we prayerfully and carefully live our lives that He will bless us as we need.   Each one of you is loved and remembered by us.
Grammy, Papa, Elder and Sister Cutler, Herb and Sharon, Friends




  1. Mom and Dad we are so blessed from your service as missionaries in Utica! The Lord is certainly blessing you in this great work, and the tender mercies that you are sharing with us testify that he Lord hears and answers prayers. I love you!

  2. you had a lot of catching up to do!!! Phew!!!
    My mouth is watering at you talking about that corn, I wish I could enjoy that right about now! And ice cream, I would drive many miles for good ice cream. So glad you guys are having such a great experience out there. It is blessing the whole family, that I know!