The weekend after Halloween we went to a Farmer's Market in a little town called Ilion. We didn't think much of the merchandise there, but the barns were beautiful and dated back into the 1700's. I did buy a handmade basket made by some Amish people, and of course the snickerdoodles could not be ignored.
The president has a saying, when he is displeased with a missionary, that he will have to take him/her behind the woodshed to take care of the problem. It is a standing joke in the mission that one does not want to go with the president "behind the woodshed! The AP's made this "woodshed" for President Wirthlin. We get a kick out of President Wirthlin's sense of humor about the woodshed and wonder if he had experiences there when a child!!!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving being at Scott's house in Conneticut where Lizzy and her family were also visiting. It was fun being with members of the family again. We couldn't leave for Scott's until Thanksgiving morning because of missionary transfers and new missionaries arriving, so we made it just in time for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
Can't leave Thanksgiving weekend without posting some family pictures..... We love getting pictures from everyone, so feel free to send us pictures and we will post them. (Instagram pictures are not as good as one sent by email or text message.)
Our work in the mission office feels like groundhog day many times. However, the last week has been very busy picking up hundreds of boxes, re-addressing both letters and boxes and then taking the mail back to the post office. One day we had two cars full of mail.
Finding, inspecting and leasing apartment continues to be a big job. We have had missionaries calling about empty fuel tanks for heat when the temperature was near zero. It took 4 days to have fuel delivered. One apartment having so much condensation from the heater that the walls and ceiling were dripping like an underground cave. So we are moving to another apartment. We were having another difficult time finding an apartment for a new senior couple assigned to a small branch in the southeast corner of the mission. Every apartment we wanted fell through. Finally, we were told about an apartment just as were were leaving Scott's house, so we stopped at the place on our way back to our apartment. We were pleased with the apartment and signed the lease as quick as we could. The next morning in our staff meeting with the mission president, the president asked in his prayer for help in finding a place. So when he finished praying, we told him his prayer was answered because we signed the lease the day before. He was overwhelmed with the news.
On December 14th our branch Christmas party was a live nativity. The temperature that day was -5' wind chill, and I have never been so cold. We have been asked why it wasn't moved indoors -- well, it would not do to have a donkey and goats indoors.
We do have fun times in the office, and we decided to take a picture of the office couples in Santa's hats and calling ourselves the NYUtica Mission Office Elves. We had fun setting it up, and we sent it to all of the missionaries along with a short Christmas message.
We can't believe that in two weeks we will have served for one year. So we expect the next six months will go fast. This picture of our backyard reminds us that it is possible to have cold, cold weather at home as well as in New York!
Mission work continues to be hastening along. Julie sent us an article about the adopted brother of a missionary who was just released from our mission. We didn't know anything about this adopted brother but the story was very touching (http://ldsmag.com/article/1/13678). It shows that the Lord is totally in charge and is aware of all. We hope you can read the article.
Want to include some recent pictures taken of Sister Trammell with our college friends. (These are different pictures than the ones we posted before!) She enjoys seeing the Collins', and they are enjoying seeing her and giving her missionary hugs!!
We want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. We love each and every one, and we pray for you all. Remember the words of Elder Nelson spoken at the Christmas devotional: "...As we follow Jesus Christ, He will lead us to live with Him and our Heavenly Father, with our families. Through our many challenges of mortality, if we remain faithful to covenants made, if we endure to the end, we will qualify for that greatest of all the gifts of God, Eternal Life. In His holy presence, our families can be together forever."
We testify that no truer words were spoken. We love you all, miss you all and know we will be together again in this life and in the life to come.
Mom & Dad, Grammy & Papa, Herb & Sharon, Elder & Sister Cutler, Friend