Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Reflection

I enjoy reading the scriptures. I read them every morning and have done so for many years. It is a good way to start my day and it helps me to remember the Lord's love for me. I have been reading Isaiah the past few days. I love the way Isaiah conveys God's love for His children. I feel that love and I am frequently drawn back to favorite, treasured passages from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.

"In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old."  Isaiah 63:9

I have experienced this kind of love, rescuing, redemption, and sustaining from the Lord. He really is there, He really does love us. I am so grateful.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Connecticut Beach

No trip to Connecticut is complete for me without a trip to the beach. Not just any beach, but the beach in West Haven is my favorite for a lot of reasons.
I could sit on this bench near the water all day and be happy.
 When I get stressed, I picture myself sitting on this bench...
...looking at the water and watching the people go by
or walking the beach and the stress goes away. 
 I just love this place.
The ocean (or in this case, the Long Island sound) has a very calming affect on me. When I was working on my degree in Chinese and the stress was overwhelming sometimes, I would walk across campus and tell myself that when I was done with the degree I would take a trip to Connecticut to see the autumn foliage and walk on my favorite beach. It was so helpful on the days when I just couldn't memorize one more Chinese character or drag myself out of the car to go to class.
 A view from a lovely hotel we stayed at.
And a pretty sunset I watched while sitting by the water ever so grateful I finished the degree and didn't give up even though I thought I might many, many times.





Friday, October 29, 2010

Vermont

There were so many memorable experiences on this trip that it is hard to pick a favorite. One that stands out though is our day trip to Bennington Vermont. I have a dear friend who lives just outside of Bennington but works there in town. We met her for lunch one afternoon and when she went back to work she pointed us to a marvelous old cemetery. Robert Frost is buried in that cemetery. He is my favorite poet and I have a portion of one of his poems on my blog's sidebar as well as a picture with that portion of the poem which hangs in my bedroom.

It is fitting that the day we visited, the autumn foliage could not have been more breathtaking, the pictures don't really do it justice.
  This is the cemetery he is buried in.
 There is a back entrance through a wooded path to his grave.
 The woods around the cemetery were probably like the woods he described in his poems.
 So pretty.
 
It's just a great, old New England cemetery.

 Bennington and Vermont were just wonderful. 
And it was so great to see my friend Jeanne.




Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn in New England

I finally have access to my own computer and can blog a little bit about my trip. Pictures can't possibly do justice to the beautiful autumn foliage of New England this time of year. For every picture I could post, the setting was a hundred times better. We had perfect weather for 11 of the 12 days we were gone and autumn foliage nearing peak, peak, and just past peak the whole time. I did all the driving because it turns out that Jim's license expired and neither one of us knew it. I drove 1126 miles, that's a lot of back roads and rolling hills. I drove in, around, and through Connecticut's beautiful scenery... Massachusetts' spectacular history... upstate New York's lovely foliage... and Vermont's amazing everything.
There were rock walls everywhere we went like this one that dot the countryside.
  ... And lanes that wind endlessly into the woods...
And trees, and trees, and trees, and more trees...

I love New England in the fall. :)

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Week And Counting

Ian has been having P-days on Tuesday while in the Brazil MTC. He leaves there one week from today and will begin his time serving in Brazil. Here are a few snippets from today's e-mail:


Boa Tarde Familia,   

 I leave one week from today! We are all sooooo excited to get out into the field, there are 8 Brazilians here who are going to Londrina so we will have 11 missionaries flying to Londrina next Tuesday morning...I have learned so much here in my time here in the MTC and CTM, and my testimony has grown in wonderful ways. I testify of Christ, of His love for us and His desires for us to come unto him and be saved. God loves us and wants to help us in any way that we will let Him. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true, Please read it and study it. As you do I promise that you will be happier, you will find more joy and satisfaction in life, and you will come closer to God and Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve the Lord and the people of Brazil, I know God will support and help me in this effort. I love you all...




Sunday, October 24, 2010

Small World

My sister Sue called me earlier and told me that the sister missionaries from her area stopped by her house to visit her this afternoon. She said the one sister missionary was brand new to her mission this week and that she just left the MTC. Sue told her that her nephew just left the MTC too and it turns out that she knew who Ian was. Sue showed her his picture on my blog and she confirmed that she knew him and said that he spoke Portuguese. :)That is really pretty amazing that on this sister missionary's first Sunday out, she wound up at the home of a relative of someone she knew from the MTC. It really is a small world.

I have been thinking about the importance of remembering today. I was considering how important it is to remember where our blessings come from and to never forget  He who saves, He who heals, and He who redeems. He is Christ and to remember Him is to show love and gratitude for Him for all He has done for us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Wedding

Some pictures of the reception center. 
This was from the main door into the front entry way.
There was a lovely main floor.
A pretty downstairs level for the buffet and dance floor.
....An outside patio for more dancing or congregating...
...Which led to the downstairs level. 
Emma tossed her bouquet from the top deck onto the outside patio.
She had a chocolate cake with Nutella filling.
It was quite a lovely place.
Another view looking out onto the deck.
Good for them.
It was a lovely day all the way around.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doing Well In Brazil

I still have more to say about the wedding but today I got an e-mail from Ian so that's what I'll blog today.


Dearest Family,      

Things are just rolling along here at the Brazil CTM. Things move much faster here then at Provo, my Portuguese has been improving immensely. In Provo by the time I had left we had only completed the first lesson in Portuguese and taught it once. Here they had already completed all four. I am almost caught up by now, I have done lessons one through three, and taught all of them a fair number of times as well. So one cool uplifting moment this week is that one of my teachers pulled me aside one day and told my that my Portuguese pronunciation is coming along very well...He said that I only have a soft American accent... he said if I keep working hard I should be able to lose my American accent completely by the one year mark. That would be SO COOL! It looks like all the work I did before coming out continues to pay off, with my accent and just my language in general...but Brazilians are still impossible to understand. As I said things are very good but also very hard, as I knew they would be. I have had many discouraging and hard days here along with all the good. It is been very difficult trying to catch up to all the other missionaries here.      

Well once again I am out of time so I end with my testimony that this church is true. That God loves us so much, He wants to do everything He can, everything we will let Him do in this life to help us. I testify that the church brings joy...one of our purposes in this life is to have joy and though Christ we can! I testify that the Book of Mormon is true, it will bless your life and if you read it and pray to know if it is true the Lord will manifest the truthfulness of it to your heart. I love you all so much.  

Last week's e-mail said,

 "Things are great here in Brazil, the MTC is very nice...Our beds are made out of mahogany. No joke. The food is not as good as in Provo, but surely better for you, I feel much better all the time with this food in me instead of Provo Food. The actual city of São Paulo has 22 million people and sky rises as far as you can see. They let us go out into to city here on P-Days! It is the coolest thing ever! So in about 30 min I will be out on the streets of São Paulo! 

"...I am so grateful I get to serve a mission and have this experience, and get to know these people. There are Brazilians here with us and they are the happiest people I have ever met, I love them! Love you all."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sister Missionaries

Today at church there were two sister missionaries who sang in a trio with another woman. They sang a beautiful song. It reminded me of when I was a missionary. I was touched by their goodness and the sweetness of their song.

When I was in the third grade I believe, I wanted to be a nun. I attended Catholic school and the nuns were very good to me. I still think of them with great fondness and gratitude for the kindness they showed me and for all they taught me.

Somewhere in high school I decided I wanted to go in the Peace Corps. I always had a desire to serve in that capacity in some way or another and I think it began when I was young and thought I wanted to be a nun.

In nursing school, I found out that there was a ship called the project ship Hope. It traveled to underprivileged countries and medical personnel worked in teams helping others. I was pretty convinced that that was what I wanted to do. That thought made me very excited.

A few months after I joined the LDS church and became a Mormon, I had an interesting experience. I attended church one Sunday and the speaker was a woman who just returned from her LDS mission. I had absolutely no idea that women could be missionaries. I was so excited to hear about her mission that when the meeting was over, I ran up to her and said, "Can I go on a mission?" She told me I could and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a missionary for my church. Finally, all those other things I wanted to do since I was young made sense to me. I decided I would serve a mission.

When I dated my husband, he had already returned from his mission. It was pretty obvious to us from the very beginning that we would likely be married. I told Jim how much I wanted to be a missionary. He understood on a deep level that it was important to me. We dated seriously and spoke of being married after my mission. He used to just say, "Hurry up and go and come back."

When I had my first interview to begin my missionary application process, Jim sat outside the door and waited for me. When I had the interview with my stake president, my mother was so concerned that she told me I had to tell the stake president about Jim. He said, "I only have one question for you, what will you do if you come back from your mission and he's not there?" I said, "I have no doubt that he will be there when I return." He said, "You can go."

Jim went back to BYU after three months of dating and I called him there when I received my mission call to Taiwan. He was very excited for me.

A few days before I went in the MTC, I visited Jim at BYU and stayed with his sisters. When he picked me up from the airport he told me he had a surprise for me. The next day we picked up specialized license plates he had made for his car. They said "JIM -LIZ" on them. We had our picture taken with those plates on his car before I left.

On the way to the airport from the MTC, Jim followed along side the shuttle bus I was riding in with his car with the the JIM-LIZ plates on. The driver turned to me and said, "Boy, this guy is really committed, isn't he?" :)

About a year into my mission, I talked with two missionaries who told me they saw Jim at BYU with his car and the license plates. They said they saw him frequently at a gas station. They said they always felt sorry for him because they thought he must have been so poor that he had to live in the dorms and his wife had to live somewhere else because they saw the license plates and saw Jim but never saw a Liz in the car with him.

We figured out right before I went in the MTC that we were engaged, it was a logical conclusion. We set a wedding date by letter a year after I left. Our parents planned the wedding. I served on my mission with all my heart. Jim was never a distraction on my mission. As a matter of fact, he was a great strength and support.  He wrote faithfully every week (except for when he sprained his wrists and couldn't write). We became the best of friends and still are.

We were married six weeks after I returned from my mission. I am thankful everyday that Jim let me serve a mission. He is a good, good man.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Reception

We had pictures taken before the reception. 
Again, these are just poor quality photos
from my camera but here's the general idea.
This is one of the pictures of Ian as a cardboard cut out.
He was EVERYWHERE as that cut out.
I'll save that for another post.
Baby Nathan is sure getting cute.
The best we could do with a missing missionary. :)
It was a lovely reception center with a wonderful 
outdoor patio and seating area.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Morning of The Big Day

Emma was finally ready to go to the Temple for her big day.
Elisa made the pretty dress she is wearing.
 The family gathered outside on the Temple grounds
after the sealing ceremony to congratulate the bride and groom.
The Temple ceremony was the highlight of the entire day.
Emma and  Wade both looked so happy.
This was just outside the Temple.
I'm sure the pictures from the actual photographer 
will be better than mine, but these are not bad.
The weather was absolutely perfect 
and the grounds were wonderful.
There were a lot of pictures taken with family.
I love this one.
We missed Ian.
The best part for me though was all the 
one-on-one time I had with Emma 
in the Temple helping her get ready.
I asked the photographer to take this picture.
I have been preparing Emma her entire life for this day.
I wanted to try and capture the essence of the 
mother-daughter relationship as I understand it.
I have always believed that I have had a responsibility 
to God to take care of His daughter the best I could.
It has been a privilege to raise her.
Good-bye Emma.
I love you too.

I've Finally Recovered

It took me ALL day to recover yesterday. I will be posting a lot of pictures the next few days and describing the wedding celebrations with the pictures. There are several out of town family members who follow this blog who would like the descriptions and pictures. I would love it if those who attended would also comment on anything as I post pictures to get other people's points of view. That would be fun.

I guess I'll start with this picture and come back and do more later today. Emma's colors were navy and cream and so there will be a lot of navy and cream colored pictures. I didn't really settle on this combination until the night before the wedding, but it worked.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Busy Day

Far too busy to blog today but this was in my inbox. Ian is all the way to the left on top. This was taken after the safe arrival of the missionaries to the Brazil MTC and was sent by the MTC president and his wife.

Wedding tomorrow!!

I think we're ready. Sort of. Mostly.
At least I finally figured out my mother-of-the-bride dress. :)

It should be a great day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marriage, Weddings, And Celebrations

Today I have been reflecting on my own marriage.

It's funny how the details of planning the wedding celebration sometimes overshadows the importance of the wedding ceremony itself. I don't think it is meant to be that way. The celebration or reception is just a nice way to let the bride and groom know that they are supported and loved and that friends and family are happy for them. We have done what we could to plan something nice for Emma and Wade to let them know how happy we are for them. We want them to feel that they are supported in their decision to unite as a family. The most important part however will be their marriage in the Temple. Today is a good day to reflect on that.

I was married on a Thursday in the Washington, DC Temple. It is a magnificent Temple. The first time I saw it, it was about 4:30 in the morning and as we came around the beltway near D.C., it loomed up as if it was too amazing for words. When it is lit up at night, it is truly spectacular.

As spectacular as the outside is, the marriage ceremony which took place on the inside was the most important thing for me. Because we lived six hours from a Temple and traveling distances made everything a bit more complicated, we had a rare opportunity to enjoy the wedding celebrations the following two days after the marriage, one in Connecticut and one in New Jersey. For us, the marriage and the celebrations were separate. It's nice to remember them that way and reflect on them that way as well.

The Washington DC Temple
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/40001315@N00/4278165044/sizes/l/in/photostream/)
I look forward to enjoying all aspects of Emma's wedding the next few days, but I am especially looking forward to going to the Temple with her.

"And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them" 4 Nephi 1:11 (The Book of Mormon)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Up Next...A Wedding

Today I went in Emma's room. It is mostly empty now. Only the bare essentials are left. Her wedding jewelry is neatly arranged on her shelf in her closet as well as her jewelry piece for her hair and her fancy shoes.

It was so empty.

Where has the time gone? It was not that long ago that our house was so full. Just too many goodbyes lately.


This was obviously the day my family discovered the webcam 
on the computer a few years back and decided to experiment. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

God's Gracious Gift

There are days when the goodness of God surrounds us in a very tangible ways. Today was one of those days.

Before Ian was born, we thought he might be a boy but weren't sure until he was actually born. As I searched the name book in the hospital for a boy name, I came across the name Ian. It said that it was a Welsch derivation of the name John and that the meaning was "God's Gracious Gift." I chose the name Ian for that reason. I felt that having that sweet baby boy was a gracious gift from God.

Today I got to talk to Ian three times. We bought him a phone card with a lot of minutes on it before he left for the MTC for him to call home from the airport. There are no time limits for the phone calls from the airport. He called once and I talked to him for less than 10 minutes and he had to hang up because his companion's phone card wasn't working and they had to get another one. Then I talked to him for about one hour and twenty minutes. We were able to process the MTC experience, the good and the not so good stuff. When I used to pick Ian up from elementary school when he was a boy, he used to "process" his school day all the way home from school, the good and the bad. He did the very same thing today.

When Ian reached Dallas today for his layover on the way to Brazil, he called again after the missionaries all went to McDonald's. They were glad for McDonald's after all the MTC food they said. It turned out that 25 missionaries got their visas and they all wound up on the same flight so there were a lot of them at McDonald's I guess. When he called this time, he spoke to my husband for quite a while and then to Seth. Towards the end, we all got on the speaker phone and talked until it was obvious that it was time to go.

He asked if we had any more questions for him and we told him we didn't. Then we asked if we could all have a prayer together. Seth and I knelt by the phone as Jim prayed. Family prayer together is still sweet even if you have it over the phone. Jim had a hard time through the prayer as he has a tender heart and he was crying. I still was doing OK until Ian asked if he could share his testimony of the gospel with us in Portuguese after the prayer. That's when my tears flowed too. I can't really describe the tenderness of that experience. He stopped after each sentence and told us what he said in English and then proceeded. We all felt the goodness of the Lord and His tender mercies in unmistakable ways.

I had no idea when I chose the name Ian 19 years ago just what a "gracious gift" from God he really was. But I know now and have known for a long time.

Good Bye son...again... and God be with you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Off to Brazil Tomorrow

The phone rang this morning and I was right in the middle of something and thought I couldn't answer it. I said "hello" and heard "Hi Mom." I said, "Seth?" and the voice said, "No, Ian." Well what a delight that was!

Anyway it was a very SHORT two minute phone call to let me know that his visa came and he's headed to Brazil tomorrow. The MTC had him call me to let me know when the flights were so I knew when I could expect a call. Missionaries get to call home twice a year, Christmas and Mother's Day. The other time they can call and check in is from the airport on the way to their mission city.

I know what I'll be doing tomorrow. :)

And did I mention we have a wedding coming up?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pretty Sunset Season

My children have dubbed October -March "pretty sunset season." Sometimes the sunsets from our deck are pretty spectacular. It takes clouds to make a great sunset and today we had rain. Sometimes I can see that it's going to be a great sunset and run for the camera because no two sunsets are alike.
 
Before you know it, the sun is gone.
And within a few minutes, twilight.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mitt or Ian?

We have a wedding right around the corner. I think we are all down to the smaller last minute details (of which there are many) except for my mother-of-the-bride dress. Of course that's still left because I have only had since February to get one. It's a long story. I am definitely not a last minute person, I never have been, but this will be a last minute, large, looming issue. Suffice it to say, I will wear something. Enough said. Let's all cross our fingers.

I have been to other weddings where a missionary in either the bride or groom's family was serving a mission and therefore was not at the wedding for family pictures. Usually someone has a large cardboard cutout just standing in a corner somewhere at the reception so the missionary is not forgotten. Emma and Wade decided to have one made up of Ian. About eight times today I was spooked as I came around the corner in my house and there was a 6'4" cardboard cutout of Mitt Romney's body in a dress suit with Ian's head on it. As much as I liked having a replica of Ian hanging around, I finally had to turn him to the wall to avoid getting freaked out every time I came around the corner. Ian has much broader and fuller shoulders than Mitt Romney just in case anyone wants to know. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Finally Ready

Ian has been waiting for his visa to Brazil for a long time now. It showed up online as "approved" about 7 or 8 weeks ago. He tracked it before he left and I have been tracking it for him ever since. The "ready for collection" button finally lit up this morning. I suppose that means he will leave for the Brazil MTC shortly (as in sometime in the next week). The good news about that is that missionaries get to call home from the airport before they fly out. That means I get to talk to him. :) Now let's just hope he doesn't wind up at the airport the same time Emma gets married!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thought For Today

Today I heard a talk about trusting God. It was very good and left a lot for me to consider. Here are some of my thoughts:

Many people say, "Of course I love God." Many people also say, "Of course I trust God." Today we were asked if we trusted God enough to do what He asks. I think the thing to ponder then is just how much we trust God, a lot or a little? If He said "this is the best thing for you," would we say "OK I love and trust enough to do..." or would we say, "I love God but I don't think I actually trust Him that much because what He asks me to do seems just too hard. I guess the answer is different for everyone but it is worth pondering.

King David wrote a lot about trusting God. He acknowledged frequently that he trusted Him. He said, "But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God." Psalms 31:14 So if we say we love God and trust Him, the question then is really "just how much?"

Just some Sunday pondering.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Temple In Connecticut

It's General Conference weekend. I love General Conference. Twice a year in April and October the leaders of the Church hold a large conference which is broadcast all over the world and translated into many, many languages. The conference has three sessions on Saturday and two on Sunday. Four of the sessions are televised and for our family, it is a time when everyone comes home and we spend the weekend together. My children invite friends and every conference it seems we have a different guest. It is quite wonderful to have everyone home.

This morning at the opening session, President Monson announced that there will be five new temples in the coming years. One of the Temples announced is for the Hartford, Connecticut area.

Connecticut is one of my very favorite places. I lived there for a little over a year but my parents lived there for about twenty years. I worked as an RN in a wonderful hospital in Connecticut after my graduation from nursing school. Connecticut is where I bought my first car. Connecticut is where I met my husband. He lived in New Jersey at the time and had been home from his mission about a month when I met him. He drove his sister the three hours from his house to Connecticut to visit her boyfriend who lived in my branch (a smaller version of a ward). One Sunday, I turned around to see what time it was right before Church started and I looked at the clock but saw Jim who was sitting directly behind me. I turned to the front again and said to myself, "Where do I know him from? I don't know him but I know I know him from somewhere." I turned around to look at him again and thought, I don't know him after all. I'll save the rest of the story for another time.....

Connecticut is where we dated the rest of that summer. Connecticut is where I told him I wanted to go on a mission as he choked on his lasagna as I was telling him. (Not really choking, more of a "you can't really be serious" kind of choking). Connecticut has the beach I love and the trees I am so fond of. Connecticut has beautiful rolling hills and wonderful, old white clapboard churches, winding roads, and amazing old cemeteries. Connecticut is quintessential New England. Connecticut is one of the prettiest places I have ever been to.

Hartford is where I took my nursing boards. They were a two day, grueling exam which was extremely stressful. I passed.

Connecticut is where my sister Sue lives. The new temple will be not too far from where she lives.

Hartford is convenient to most everything in the east. To have a Temple of the Lord in Hartford will be a great blessing to many, many, many people. It means the people in that area won't have to travel to NYC, or Boston, or Palmyra to attend the Temple (all 2-3+ hours away). It means they won't have to travel to Washington, DC to get married in a Temple like I did, because it was the closest Temple at the time. From Connecticut, that was a six hour drive. It means the blessings of the Temple will be close and that is a blessing which will be sweet to so many people.

I will fly into Hartford not long after Emma's wedding. Somehow, I think my trip will be a little more special this time. :)

 My sister Sue
2002