Sunday, August 16, 2009

New York or Bust!

Sorry to be so slow to update this blog but computer problems are the main culprit. I started downloading (uploading?) pictures in reverse order so they will be chronological but this program won't let me download any more at this time so when I can get the earlier ones put in, you'll see the first part of our trip.

One afternoon after we finished our shift at the Whitmer Farm in Fayette, NY, another couple asked if we wanted to go on a dinner cruise that evening on the Erie Canal. Of course we, as well as Louis and Louise did! We drove to Fairport to embark, an hour or so west of Palmyra. About 15 or 20 other couples from our site as well as Palmyra were also on the cruise.

The entire trip was a lot of fun, very romantic and scenic with beautiful homes with their own boat docks all along the way.

Modern equipment has enabled the canal to be widened and deepened to allow bigger boats onto the canal. There are a total of 32 locks going the length. We went through one then turned around and came back, arriving after dark.

Another day before our afternoon shift started, we drove an hour or so into Amish country and stopped at a little country store where they had all manner of beautiful homemade crafts for sale. I especially enjoyed looking at these amazing quilts.

We saw this cute buggy--the common mode of transportation of the Amish--parked in front of a well-kept farm with a boy in bib overalls out riding his bike. We hoped to see them working in their fields but they were scarce.

One afternoon we drove up to Fair Haven State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario on the northern border of NY with Louis and Louise. We all had a good laugh about these birds who congregated in flocks everywhere waiting for a handout of food and thought they reminded us of the Obama Democrats!

We took a little picnic and enjoyed the beauty of the park by the lake.

This is a typical picture of the beautiful farms, barns, corn fields, etc. that we saw every day wherever we traveled.

On our P-day, we decided to spend the day in Palmyra, to take the scenic tour as well as have a spiritual tour. As we arrived, first at the Grandin Print Shop, it was pouring rain. We got a little drenched waiting to go inside for the tour to start.

One morning the four of us got up early and attended a session here at the beautiful Palmyra Temple.

The first home of Joseph Smith's family in Palmyra.

The entrance to the Sacred Grove. There were several other paths leading in and out and as we were leaving, a rather hard-looking woman who seemed rather out of place (tattoos, etc., etc., probably in her 30's) met up with us, merging from a different path.

She seemed rather teary eyed and affected by her experience in the grove. She seemed to want to talk so we asked her where she was from and she said Louisiana. We told her of our daughter and husband who had spent two years there going to school and who had learned to love the people and everything about the state because of the warm hospitality of the people there.

We asked her if she was a member of the Church and she said yes, that her mother had joined when she was 3 years old. She said that as a teenager, she became rebellious and started doing things she shouldn't and eventually lost her membership in the Church. After some time she began missing feeling the Spirit and wanted to get back in the church. She became very ill, was hospitalized and felt that she would die. She prayed and prayed that she would live long enough so that she could be re-baptized. After contacting her Bishop to ask if she could be, he began the process for her. She did recover and was able to again receive her membership through re-baptism and to once again feel the spirit.

She told us she never wanted to be without that feeling again but that life was very hard because she had married a non-member and while he allowed her to attend meetings, yet he wasn't interested in the Church. She and her husband and two other friends had left their hometown on motorcycles and were on their way to visit friends elsewhere, but she told them she didn't care where else they went, she was going to stop in and spend some time in the Sacred Grove! They agreed but didn't go in themselves. We talked a while and encouraged her to always make good choices and set a good example for them and said that she would be blessed in her life for doing so. She gave us both big hugs and said how much she had appreciated being able to talk with us. A while later we watched as she donned her bandana, helmet and black leather jacket and rode off on her motorcycle with her husband and friends, waving at us as she left. It was a special experience for us.

Frank in Palmyra before the Hill Cumorah Pageant with two of the awesome Sister Missionaries we had the privilege of working with at the Whitmer farm. They didn't get to stay for the pageant because they hadn't found an investigator to bring and it would be after hours before it ended. Mission
rule. . .

We loved going two or three hours early to watch the pageant because all the participants got their costumes and make-up on early and mixed and mingled with the crowds of people until dark. Their costumes were so amazing and they were very friendly and loved the chance to share a spiritual thought with us. We talked with many young people, even very young ones who weren't afraid to speak up and share their testimony. We marveled at how prepared they were becoming to be future full-time missionaries.

The first night we went to the pageant it started pouring rain about 20 minutes before the end and ended up getting cancelled for the night, due to the danger of lightening to the crew and cast up on the hill. Only the 3rd time in pageant history for that to happen! We were glad we were able to attend again a few days later.

The beautiful Fayette Ward chapel and visitors center at the Whitmer farm. It was designed, both inside and outside, to look like other churches of the period. Note especially the gold domed steeple. Inside was very beautiful with lots of dark wood and red carpets. One tribute to our modern era was the cultural hall with basketball standards! We spent nearly two weeks here during the pageant, serving as volunteer hosts to help the hundreds of people who came through each day to have an enjoyable time. We met so many wonderful people from all over the country and world. There were lots of tour buses full of youth groups as well as others, coming from the Bronx, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, and elsewhere. What a choice experience for them, many getting ready to serve missions.

Below is a replica of the Peter Whitmer home, where the Church was organized April 6, 1830.

Frank at Station # 2, at the rear of the building where the tours started. From there, he greeted them and then directed them inside where I would show them to the drinking fountain, bathroom, etc. before they started their tour. We rotated between 4 stations during our 5-6 hour shift, with a different assignment at each.

We were amazed when we arrived for orientation to find that a missionary from Frank's mission to New England many years ago was also serving with us, Marvin Tolman from Provo. He and his wife had been called literally the weekend before time to come to fill in for a couple who had gotten half way to NY and the wife had had to have emergency abd. surgery in Omaha. Bro. Tolman had 2 brothers and wives also serving and had wanted to come. One of his brothers was there FT as a Senior missionary. What a fun time we all had getting acquainted!

This is the William Cunche family from Paris France, that we met and visited with in Palmyra at the pageant the last Saturday night we were there. They asked where we were going to church and we said the Fayette Ward as we needed to work our last shift there Sunday after Church. They came there and we had a chance to visit with them and learn more about this special family. They said if we ever go to Paris, they want to be our guide!

As we returned toward Arizona we went a more southerly route and spent one night in Indianapolis and then stopped at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. It is constructed of steel and is triangular in shape with a tramway inside that we traveled 630 feet up all the way to the top where there were windows that we could look out all over the city. A real architectural marvel. Definitely worth seeing!

After leaving St. Louis, we went to Branson MO. where we spent 3 nights and got to see lots of wonderful shows, all family friendly, with a patriotic and religious ending. Very uplifting entertainment in a beautiful location.

The weather was wonderful the entire trip, never too hot and only a couple of rains.