Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Rest My Case

I thought of this picture after I saw yesterday's 
picture with Ian in the hard hat.

This was Ian at about three.
He 'wore' these tools for a year I think. 
It's just him, he always loved tools. 

Thankfully, he figured out how 
to eventually button his shirt correctly. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Hard Hat And A Missionary Name Tag

This has got to be the best picture of Ian ever.
He's wearing a hard hat and a missionary name tag. 
It is so him. :)


"Querido Familia!

Finally we had our p-day with president today! It was wonderful, we had training in the morning, then went to lunch and then headed to the dam. We got a 'technical' tour, which means we got to go all around the dam and inside it too, we saw the turbines and a bunch of other stuff, it was really cool. It was a $50 tour but one of the members of the ward works there and he got all of us in for free and he was our tour guide. An added benefit of p-day with president is we got letters today! I got a couple, so that was really great.

I am doing pretty well. I was fairly sick all week, which wasn’t very fun, especially with the 105 degree heat. I am doing pretty well now though, it was just a cold, and I am now just recovering, but that can be pretty miserable when you have to work all day in the heat. To answer all your questions no, my bed is not fixed yet, but it really isn’t too bad. I am just sleeping on the floor on my mattress. The only really annoying part is the bugs. I wake up every morning with big bug bites on my arms and legs, and I think it is from sleeping on the floor, and yesterday I found a cockroach right next to my bed. Oh well, it's just bugs, worse things have happened.... The food is good here,  really good. My body functions differently on Brazilian food then it does on American, but that is to be expected. We really only eat lunch here, but it goes along way. Beans and rice and meat everyday stays with you for a long time. While we are on the subject, I have already left a part of my self here in Brazil, 6 kilos to be exact or about 13 pounds in 3 weeks. My pants are already considerably looser. But all this in consideration I am doing great, I am adjusting to everything, things are getting better, all is good. The hardest thing is the heat, it is yet to be more hot, up to 50 Celsius, and more humidity. I don’t know what I am going to do.... 

I am just about out of time... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth. Before my mission I would have been afraid to say this to someone, but now, I don’t know how I could say anything else. The Bible says that there is one God, one baptism. God is not a God of confusion, He doesn’t teach different things to different people. He has one teaching, one true church, and he has shown me time and time again that this is the true church, if I said anything different I would be lying to God and to myself. I bear witness that the Book of Mormon is true, and it will help us to gain and strengthen our testimony about all aspects of the church, especially Christ. I testify that Christ lives and that he loves all people. I testify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that we have a living prophet today that speaks with God and conveys His will to us. I love you all so very much; I realized more and more every day what a wonderful family I have, what wonderful friends and what wonderful examples I have had in my life, and how truly good God has been to me.

Love,
Elder Freeman"

Hmmmm, I would surely feel better if he got that bed fixed. I remember the bugs myself. We used to have to sleep in our beds with a mosquito net around the bed. And cockroaches........they just became part of life (unfortunately). As for the weight loss, I lost 30 pounds while on my mission. The heat and the bike riding did it to me. Ian doesn't ride a bike but he does walk all day, everywhere...in the heat. God bless him. And he sounds very focused on missionary work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Reflections

It was certainly a long Thanksgiving weekend around here. It was one of the nicest Thanksgivings I remember. We had 15 people for dinner and the range of guests made the day and meal wonderful. I loved having Elder Gu from China with us for dinner again. He is absolutely delightful. He offered a prayer in Mandarin before he and his companion left which did my heart good. He also shared one of his seven kernels of gratitude in Mandarin and had me translate for him. Loved it. Our guest from Jordan (the country) was very fun. He joined in on our tradition even though this was his first Thanksgiving ever anywhere and he delighted in the opportunity to enjoy everyone. Our guest from Argentina also liked the meal and the company. As always, it was touching to hear the things my children are grateful for this year. Emma read Ian's list and it was nice to have him "with us" in a sense because we put his big card board cutout at the end of the table. :) We're getting a lot of use out of that thing.

We LOVED having Nathan for the whole weekend. He was an endless source of joy. We miss him now because he went home.

Girl's Day Out: Well actually it was only four hours of girl's day out. My daughters and I have gone shopping on Black Friday together for almost twenty years. It is usually only about three or four hours of shopping and never early,early but we always enjoy the time together. It usually involves lunch and a stop at a chocolate store. :) Thanks ladies.
 Football: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm....BYU ALMOST won on the last play of the game with four seconds left on the clock. Some guy on the other team decided to spoil the fun and block the field goal robbing BYU of the win which was certainly theirs... that was so not nice of him. :)

Messiah Sing-In: Jim loves singing or hearing Handel's Messiah during the holidays. This was our fifth time attending a Messiah Sing-In with the Utah Symphony. I have grown very fond of it as well. Handel was certainly an instrument in God's hand to put to music beautiful scriptures about Christ. I sing along when I can, follow along as best I can when I am lost, and simply close the book and my eyes and listen at other times when I just want to enjoy. My favorite: "Worthy is the Lamb/Amen" chorus. I can't adequately express what it is like for me to hear that scripture sung and to try and imagine the setting...the Lord's Celestial throne and those singing praises to Him. The Amen chorus touches me very deeply every time I hear it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x2fSxOeij4

See: Revelation 5: 9-14 (New Testament)
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/rev/5

Family: It was just extremely delightful to spend so much time with family.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Go, Go, BYU!

I have always liked football. As a matter of fact, in high school I played football (one game a year-the juniors against the seniors). The male football players were our coaches. Let's see... first they had me on defense, right tackle I believe. That didn't work out so well as I don't have a real aggressive personality. When I was a senior I was played offense...right guard and then nose guard, that seemed to work out much better. I especially remember when we got one of two winning touchdowns on a double reverse play I was a crucial part of. That was a great moment. We won that year, it was great.  I have just always liked football.

When I moved to Utah after we got married, my husband attended the University of Utah but I became hooked on BYU football. I became a huge BYU football fan. I especially remember the 1984 National Championship game when we played Michigan. That game was amazing.When  Elisa was a little girl, she and I were very effusive when we loudly cheered, "GO,GO, BYU!!!"

Fast forward to my time as an adult University of Utah student. I never switched my allegiance to my Alma Mater whose colors are RED, I remained "true blue." And I was never ashamed to tell my classmates that I was a BYU fan.

Well, tomorrow is the yearly rivalry football game between BYU and the University of Utah. It is an old rivalry and some people get so serious about their allegiances. Not me, I just bleed blue instead of red. (BYU's colors are blue and white).

This evening there was a fireside by the BYU football team. They always have a fireside in the city they play in if it is an away game. I am happy I went. One problem though... I happened to wear my red shirt, red sweater, and bright red coat because that's just what I was wearing today. I certainly stuck out like a sore thumb amongst all the blue in the audience!!

The fireside was excellent but the best part was when about a dozen or so team members who were in the audience went to the front of the chapel to join the rest of the team and sang Ian's favorite song. Ian always called it the Army of Helaman song but it's proper name is "We'll Bring the World His Truth. " Well that was it. Here I was the lady in bright red, red, red weeping with tears running down my face while seeing my football team sing my son's favorite song. I've been missing Ian anyway lately. Some days they just shouldn't let me out of the house!

http://lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=172&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=172&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

GO,GO, BYU!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Son!!

This was Ian's Brazil MTC companion.

I miss Ian a lot today...
but gratefully it was his p-day and we got an e-mail.

He included his list of seven things for our popcorn kernel tradition:

1) Such an incredible family.
2) The goodness of the Lord in preparing the way for me in so many regards.
3) The goodness of the Lord in preparing other people to receive the gospel.
4) The joy the gospel brings into our lives.
5) The things I am learning here on the mission.
6) The Spirit who teaches me these things.
7) A loving Heavenly Father.

We are so thankful for you son.....Love, Your Family. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some Snippets From The Gratitude Wall

It's always interesting to see how the gratitude wall fills up. Over the period of a week's time, people just walk by the wall and decide they want to contribute. The post it notes are left on the counter with a pen nearby. I noticed that while I was out the other day that Emma was here visiting and she contributed her few items. I love to read what people are thinking about. Here are a few snippets:

  • Wade, my best bud. (Obviously Emma)
  • Wade, who I like a lot, although less than Emma does (Gregory's handwriting placed right next to the previous one) :)
  • Heaters (that would be Elisa who lives in Wyoming where it is very, very cold)
  • Math and Science (obviously Seth-placed at the very top of the wall because he is so tall)
  • My New England trip (guess)  :)
  • Cloth diapers (that would be the new mother :)
  • A new Grandbaby!  (guess again)
  • An awesome wedding reception (Emma of course)
  • A good guy who happens to be my husband (me again)
  • A paycheck (I'm guessing Elisa)
  • 50% off Christmas decorations (I guess Elisa again)
  • My education (looks like Emma's writing)
  • A Family (looks like Seth's writing)
  • The gospel (Seth again)
  • My healthy baby (Sarah :))
  • Food (Somebody must have been hungry)
  • Good friends (I think Emma)
  • A diligent, compassionate wife (Gregory about Sarah)
  • A very happy marriage (Sarah about Gregory)
  • The best parents (Thanks Emma)
  • Good kids (me)
  • "Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies"...(my very kind husband)
Looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. We will have 15 people... someone from mainland China, someone from Jordan, someone from Argentina, Gregory who is from Canada, and us. Sounds like fun and quite international. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another Thanksgiving Tradition

Many years ago when Elisa was in grade school, she asked if we could do something for Thanksgiving her teacher taught her in school . At the time I didn't think much about it but it has become a long standing and wonderful tradition for us at Thanksgiving. It started with the sweetness of a child.

We put seven popcorn kernels on each person's dinner plate. After the blessing on the food, sometimes before we eat and sometimes after we have begun eating, we begin taking turns telling what we are grateful for. Each person takes one popcorn kernel, says what they are grateful for and then puts that kernel to the side of their plate. We go around the table seven times until all the kernels are gone. One year when we had 35 people we only did three kernels to save time but all the other years we have done seven. Three doesn't seem to be enough.

What is most interesting about this tradition is how "deep" everyone gets. It is surprising how many times someone has shed more than one tear and sometimes many as they have recalled what they were grateful for that year.  Sometimes when the kids were little, they said some silly things. As they have gotten older however, the gratitude seems more profound. Sometimes when you realize it is your last kernel, you become very serious to make sure you have really said what was most important to you. Everyone seems to realize that seven kernels is simply not enough by the time they get to their last one.

I like this tradition because it has taught my children several things:
  1. Our blessings come from God.
  2. We need to make sure we express gratitude for those blessings.
  3. Thanksgiving and giving thanks are important to our family.
  4. A grateful heart is a happy heart.
  5. It reminds us of the importance of celebrating this holiday and not forgetting it.
  6. It's good to think and ponder.
  7. Expressing and sharing gratitude verbally binds families together.
I e-mailed Ian and asked him to e-mail us his list of his seven things. If he gets the e-mail before our dinner, someone will do his list for him. We miss him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Thanksgiving Musings

I like the thought I came across today about not concentrating on what we lack but concentrating instead on what we have. By concentrating on what we have, gratitude will be the natural result. I think I will ponder on that this week as we get ready for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving, Turkeys, And Bicycles

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. When I served as a missionary in Taiwan, it became very apparent to me that it was indeed just celebrated in America. I remember my one and only Thanksgiving in Taiwan. We woke up early that morning and two of the sisters from our apartment went to the open air market to get a turkey. I had never seen a turkey there before but they had arranged to have someone get them one for that morning. Open air markets were pretty cool because if you wanted a chicken, they wanted to let you have it as "fresh" as possible. You asked for a chicken, they took it, broke it's neck, put it in a spinner sort of thing so the feathers would come off, and before you know it, it was neatly chopped up in a bag for you to take home. Those were really "fresh" chickens.

It turns out that our Thanksgiving turkey had the same fate that particular day. :)

We lived in a city of about a million people at that time. There were many missionaries, both male and female in the surrounding areas. The missions had just recently been combined and the old mission presidents home was unoccupied and available. The sisters (about eight of us I think) manned the kitchens and cooked a nice Thanksgiving dinner. There were a lot of elders that day. I can't really remember how many we had but I still remember how happy they all were.

I'm off to buy my Thanksgiving turkey today. I will have to settle for one that's frozen, already plucked, and ready to go. Even the fresh ones available next week aren't really as "fresh" as they claim. :)

So what does this have to do with a bicycle? Ah, the famous turkey and bicycle story......................

I arrived in Taiwan in early February. One of the first things I did when I arrived was buy a bicycle. By that time, I was 22 and my bike riding days were a thing of the past. I had to learn to master the skill of 'gracefully' mounting a bike in a skirt while also relearning basic bike riding skills. That did not come easily to me. It took a few weeks. Graceful anything is not exactly my strong suit.

The first week I was there, my companion and I were riding back to our apartment one afternoon for lunch. Navigating small lanes in Taiwan took a little getting used to. I always hoped to get from point A to point B without having to stop because that would mean I would have to 'gracefully' mount that bicycle again. I experienced the same kind of fear I had when I learned to drive the first car I ever bought which had a manual transmission. Although I had my driver's license for several years, I had never driven a stick before. My Dad took me to the nearest and steepest hill in Connecticut where there was a traffic light which of course turned red as I was on the hill. My Dad just laughed and said to go for it. Oh the trauma.

Back to the bike. My companion and I were riding down a small lane. She was ahead of me. The locals were always intrigued to see American women riding bikes in their neighborhoods. The small children especially liked it. I don't have any idea who excited one of the neighbor's turkeys but someone did as my companion drove past first. Maybe it was one of the children. Sure enough, FEAR gripped me. I wasn't on a hill at a red light learning to drive my stick....no that was a piece of cake compared to the TURKEY that ran right in front of me. Hello-where are the brakes?! Did someone forget to teach me where the brakes were when they taught me Chinese? So I ran over the turkey. Right over the top of the turkey. Sorry turkey.

The turkey was not dead however. The turkey made very loud turkey noises (think gobble, gobble, gobble :)) as it squawked painfully and loudly as it flapped its wings violently under my front and back wheels with me still on the bike...STUCK, just like at the red light! This time my companion was laughing at me from down the street leaving me to fend for myself as the turkey's owners and a few others came running out in the street to save the prized turkey from the crazy sister missionary who was out to kill their turkey.

I still feel the trauma of that moment.

They shooed the turkey out from between my wheels and I was still left to somehow 'gracefully' mount that darned bike, this time with several people looking at me in utter disbelief.

And that story came just on the heels of the famous "almost got run over by a train story" a few days before. Maybe I'll tell that one tomorrow.

When I head to the grocery store later I will think about how nice and quiet the turkeys are in the freezer cases. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reflections

I have been quite emotionally affected recently by the trial being held for the man who perpetrated horrific evil against Elizabeth Smart. Her abuse or any abuse against a child is wrong. Her abuse was horrendous and abhorrent in a thousand different ways. My heart has always gone out to her. Particularly awful is that a man who professed to know God would profess to know God while harming a daughter of God and claim during that abuse that what he was doing was OK because of his supposed relationship with God. He lied. He's still telling lies, even from his jail cell. Telling lies is all he knows.

I believe that Elizabeth will be OK because of what the Savior did for her in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He will make it right as only He can. He overcame all evil in Gethsemane, all evil in all its horrid forms. I heard a song sung by the children on Sunday that I never heard before. It was about that very thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uSGSvKy6Io

To any child hurt by the sting of abuse, I know that Christ can and does save. I know that. On the deepest level, I know that.  Always, always keep your eyes on Him and never look away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Homesick And A Broken Bed

"Family!

That's right, I broke my bed, I sat down on it this morning and the bottom cracked, it was already half broken, but now it is unusable. Really it is not that bad, it should be easy to fix if I can get the materials, but for now I am sleeping on the floor. Despite the set back I am doing well! And I am very glad to hear that you all are doing well too... All things are well here, I am adjusting to the work, it is very hot but I am starting to get used to it. I think. All of my stuff is holding up well, from things I have heard from other missionaries it looks like I probably won´t need to buy new shoes! We did well I think. And all of you seem to be very worried about my feet. Have no fear, yes I have some blisters but worse things have happened, and I am taking good care of them. 


It is starting to hit me, I really am in Brazil and will be for the next 20 months, and I am starting to miss home, and you all more and more, things like carpet, air conditioning, beds that don´t break when you sit down on them, you know, the little things that I took for granted...I don't know if things will get any easier, but at least I know what I am doing is of the utmost importance. My Portuguese is improving in leaps and bounds. I actually understand some people sometimes, but there are still many times where I have no idea what is going on, I have faith that it will come eventually... We found a really great family this week. We were tracting this one area...towards the end of the day we came to this one house and started teaching. The woman said that she felt like we were sent from God, she found out that her sister had cancer that week, and had been having some other difficulties. She said that she had seen missionaries before but never knew their purpose. We started teaching...When we finished teaching she said that she felt such peace while we were there. We have gone back one time so far and met her husband too...it is obvious that he is a really good guy. 

I am out of time so I bear my testimony that the church is true, that God loves us so much, and that He has such a wonderful plan for us. 

I love you all so very much,
-Elder Freeman"

I knew a letter would come like this one day. I distinctly remember the day it hit me that I was far from home and had a long, long, long time to go on my mission before I got back home. I was sitting on a very narrow porch in our apartment in Taiwan. It was raining a lot. When I say a lot, I mean TORRENTS a lot. You have to experience Taiwan rain to really get a sense of what heavy rain is. The rain was pelting the plastic canopy on the roof. I sat in the rain and thought to myself that a year plus seemed like an eternity at that moment. Gratefully, those moments actually pass but they are real and pretty overwhelming for missionaries sometimes. My heart goes out to Ian. I have no doubt he will be fine but it's tender when you know your children (who aren't children anymore) are homesick.

As for the broken bed, if anyone can fix it...it would be Ian and it will be fixed very well. :) And he likes to fix things so it will be a good project for him that will probably help him with his homesickness. He mentioned that his mission president is coming to his area on Thanksgiving for P-Day instead of Monday next week and taking his zone to the Itaipú Dam which according to Wikipedia says: "In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers elected the Itaipu Dam as one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. In 1995, the American magazine Popular Mechanics published the results." The words engineers and mechanics are the first two words Ian ever spoke I think so that will give him something to look forward to and hopefully take his mind off of being away for Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, I will pray for him. I miss him too. Yesterday in church the Primary (children's choir) had five boys ages 8-11 stand at the microphone and sing Ian's favorite song which he used to call the 'Army of Helaman' song (not its right name). Seeing those boys sing that song reminded me of Ian when he was that age and how he loved to sing that song to the top of his lungs. It took me out. Talk about a mascara mess.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great Sunday

Today I heard the children's choir (aka Primary) sing during church. They were so sweet and wonderful. They presented a program about the Savior Jesus Christ. I cried through most of it I think because it reminded me of when I learned the stories of Christ as a child. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about that this morning. I was remembering how wonderful it was to hear stories about Jesus by the nuns everyday in daily catechism lessons in Catholic school. These nuns had a way of teaching and I can still see myself sitting in class loving the stories about Jesus. They taught mostly from the New Testament and six years of hearing those stories as a child gave me the foundation for my life which I have now. I will always be grateful to those dear women who showed love for me and taught me to love Christ.

This is my favorite song/hymn. It always brings me to tears. The children sang it today. I love this song.


Beautiful Savior


"Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer the moonlight
And all the stars in heaven above.
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,

And brings to all the world his love.


Fair are the meadows,

Fairer the woodlands
And all the flowers of blooming spring
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer.
He makes the sorrowing spirit sing.


Beautiful Savior!

Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Thee will I honor,
Praise and give glory,
Give praise and glory evermore!
Evermore!"


http://lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=62&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=62&searchsubseqend=ZZZ


I still love the stories of Christ. Only now I read them myself when I read my scriptures in the morning. It makes my whole day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So What Am I Grateful For?

I love Thanksgiving. We celebrate it very traditionally at my house every year. We have had it every year at my house since I was married except for twice.We have had very large Thanksgivings and some small but we always celebrate it.

What am I grateful for?

  1. A kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring husband who is the dearest man in all the world to me.
  2. Children (mostly all adults now) who are a source of joy to me who love each other and who love me.
  3. A new grandbaby.
  4. People who are kind to me.
  5. My scriptures, they mean so much to me.
  6. Trees and flowers.
  7. Freedom.
  8. The Temple.
  9. Hope.
  10. God's love for me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Gratitude Wall

Thanksgiving is approaching. I took out a few Thanksgiving decorations this morning and was reminded of our yearly tradition of having a gratitude wall. I have a curved wall in my kitchen which is sort of a focal point. Every year I buy a few packages of Post It notes and leave them with a pen on a counter near the wall. The intent is that each person writes down something he or she is grateful for and then sticks it on the wall. There is no limit to the number of things you can write, just one per note though. It is fun to see what people write and touching to see how quickly the wall fills up. Thanksgiving guests love the idea and every year the wall seems to get filled. It's amazing how many things we all write down once we get started. We love Thanksgiving around here. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tuwid8_O8dk

Monday, November 8, 2010

P-Days Are Mondays!!

It is WONDERFUL to hear from Ian!!!! And he seems to be doing very well.

"Beloved Family!

It feels like forever and a day since I have been in contact with you all! The P-Days worked out unfortunately such that I didn´t have a P-day for two weeks... Me and 10 other missionaries left the CTM at 4 AM last Tuesday morning to fly to Londrina! All went well with the flight to Londrina, we showed up at about 8 AM in Londrina and the mission president was there with some missionaries to pick us up and they had a great big sign as we were coming off the plane it was awesome! I will attach a picture if I can (I can do that now because I am in the field). We went to the mission home which was a lovely apartment in a high rise in Londrina, had training, ate lunch, had interviews with the mission president. It was wonderful.

Following that the big moment came! We found out our areas and our trainers! But I am not quite ready to tell you yet.... so after that the missionariess gradually departed to the bus station to head to their fields of labor. Our bus left the latest out of everyone so at about 6:00 PM... we waited a few more hours. At 11:00 PM we got on our bus to go to........(here it comes)...... the southernmost area of the mission.... Foz do Iguazu (Iguazu falls)! Apparently this is the place to be, all the missionaries love it here and hope they get to come serve here! But it is also the hottest, and coldest part of the mission. It is so. so. so. hot here. And it is still warming up. Apparently it gets up to 48 degrees Celsius, or 120 degrees(ish) Fahrenheit here! And don´t forget the humidity.

My trainer...is absolutely wonderful, he has 16 months in the mission, he is Brazilian but has learned English on the mission and speaks fairly well. I am learning so so much from him, he is a great teacher and a great missionary. I will try and tell you more about him next week. We also live with two other elders, apparently our area is huge! We have a lunch this week that will take 2 hours to walk to. So things are wonderful, extremely hard but wonderful. I am so tired at the end of each day. It is SO hot here and I am still getting used to it and the work and all the walking, I have big blisters on my feet. But it is all awesome. By the way. Mangos are dirt cheep here,  like 25 cents (American) a pound. I eat them every day. We have a mango tree in our back yard. Sorry mom, don't be jealous.

I love you all, so much, and I appreciate the support so much. It has been so touching to see the support of the members here, they love us so much and they barley know us. I testify that the Church is true, that the gospel blesses lives, that Heavenly Father loves us so very much. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.

Much love,
Elder Freeman"

And the adventure begins...looks like all is well. Here are a few links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foz_do_Igua%C3%A7u

From the internet:
"Foz do Iguacu overview
One of Brazil's top tourist attractions, Foz de Iguacu's famed Falls' flow capacity is three times as much as Niagara Falls. Situated in Iguazu National Park, home to an amazing numbers of birds, the falls marks the border between Brazil and Argentina. Take a helicopter flight over the falls or a trike flight over the lake and see Igaipu Dam, on the Parana River, the dividing line between Brazil and Paraguay, as well as getting views of a Buddhist temple and the international bridge."
Sounds great!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Favorite Hymn

Someone spoke today about the power and beauty of hymns. I thought of this one as they spoke. It means a lot to me for a lot of reasons.

http://lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=1&searchseqstart=85&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=85&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

"How Firm a Foundation, Ye Saints of the Lord"
by "Keen," 1787, alt.

1. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

2. In every condition, -- in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth,
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, --
The Lord, the Almighty, they strength e'er shall be.

3. "Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. "When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. "When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

6. "E'en down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

7. "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never, forsake!"

Hymn #427
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Isaiah 43:1-7
Author: "Keen",1787, alt
Composer: Bernhard Schumacher, 1931
Tune: "Firm Foundation"

Friday, November 5, 2010

He Made It!

 Londrina, November 5, 2010

Dear Family of Elder Freeman,

We are writing to inform you that on November 2, Elder Freeman arrived very well in the Brazil Londrina Mission field. We were very happy to meet him and to know that from now on he is part of this great and wonderful army of the Savior. After a long wait and much preparation, he along with many other missionaries arrived at the mission home safely and very excited. They had lunch, and after a great testimony meeting he learned who would be his companion. The Brazil Londrina Mission is a blessed land where many people are hearing and accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a joyous way. It is an honor for us to be able to receive your son in this area... We want you to know that we will strive to fulfill all his needs, and will take care of him as if he were our own son. Thank you for trusting us with your son for this short yet fundamental period of time in his life!
We are at your disposition to help in any way during this time.

With gratefulness and love,
President and Sister Tavares

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Boston Temple

Because our trip was unexpectedly lengthened,
 we had the opportunity to go to the Boston LDS Temple.
 This temple is only ten years old. It is in Belmont Massachusetts which is about ten minutes from Lexington. What was interesting to me is that it is actually very near the original "Battle Road" that the Minutemen fought on with the British Regulars as they beat them back to Boston from Concord and Lexington. It is about half way between Concord and Boston.
 It is set in a lovely neighborhood surrounded by beautiful trees.
Most temples built recently have pictures or murals in them depicting local scenery unique to that particular temple's area. I was delighted to see several pictures in the hallways of lovely wooded areas which reminded me of home. I also noticed a very subtle tree theme in various places.

 I noticed that some of the doors had what appeared to be tree trunks arching upward carved out of simple wood. I loved that the carpet's pattern was all leaves. It was very fitting. All temples are a little different, this one was so unique to New England.

I have a glass etching of a tree in the front door of my house. It is supposed to represent the tree of life. It is very simple and you really can't tell what it is unless I mention it. It is very pretty. I enjoy trees because they remind me of the trees of the northeast which are so plentiful and beautiful. I have several pictures of trees and a lot of leaf type things throughout my house. They are there on purpose. There is a scripture I like in Revelation 22:2 of the New Testament of the Bible. It talks about the "tree of life" being in the midst of God's kingdom and about His throne and the throne of His Son Christ. Referring to the tree of life, the scripture says, "...and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." When I think of trees and leaves, I think of that scripture. There will come a time I believe when God will heal all nations as that scripture says. I also believe there will come a time that if we qualify ourselves, we can live with Him in His kingdom. That's what Mormons believe and hope for. That's what Temples help us to remember and help prepare us for. That's why most Mormons seek to be a Temple attending people. Mormons believe the temple literally is The House of the Lord and that they are holy places.
This is a picture of a tombstone in the old Concord cemetery we visited. I do not know this woman but I was deeply touched by her inscription. The "f"s in the wording were actually meant to be the letter "s." She would have been 28 years old at the time of the battle of Concord and Lexington. She would have seen it no doubt. Her inscription says she "hoped for celestial glory." I echo her sentiment, that's why I believe the work in the Holy Temples is so important. Because of God's love for us and the sealing blessings available in the temples of God, I believe I can be with my brother again someday. I'm so thankful for that understanding and blessing.

Reflecting on my recent trip to "The Cradle of Liberty," I think it is interesting that freedom is what the patriots fought for. Religious freedom was particularly important to them. To have the Boston Temple so near to where the original fighting of the Revolutionary War began is more than a coincidence I think. I thought about that while I was there and the significance of a free land and the opportunities that freedom afforded so many. Religious freedom is so important. The Boston Temple is now one of my favorites. I'm so glad we had an unexpected opportunity to go there. The whole trip was really much more than I anticipated or hoped for.
 Walden Pond, Concord Massachusetts




"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."  Ralph Waldo Emerson





(Emerson's family owned most of the woodland around Walden Pond)




























Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Concord, Patriots, And The Blessings Of Freedom

Today I stood in a long line to vote. There were actually a couple of lines. It took at least half an hour for the privilege to cast my vote. As I stood there, I thought about standing on the Old North Bridge in Concord Massachusetts last week. When we arrived in Concord, one of the first things we did was to go to the Old North Bridge. I have always loved the study of American History. I never tire of learning about those who were responsible for those freedoms I enjoy today. By the time I got to the bridge, I could only cry.
The bridge has actually been rebuilt six times I think.
This is a statue of a minuteman near the bridge. The British marched on Concord the morning of April 19, 1775 to dispose of stockpiled ammunition they had heard about in the center of Concord. The Inn we stayed at posted an information sheet in their booklet which said that some of the munitions were actually stored in the building we stayed in, in the center part of the building which is where we stayed.
 The part of the building we stayed in was built in 1716.
 It was as old and as New England as you get. 
It was great.
 There is a lovely, long path leading up to the bridge.
 The British marched to the far side of this bridge in the picture along that path and the minutemen were on the other side with orders not to fire unless fired upon first. When they were fired on by the British, they were ordered to fight back and that is referred to as the "shot heard round the world." What is known as the Revolutionary War which would last another eight years began there. This place is deeply significant.
Jim is standing where the Minutemen would have
 marched from towards the bridge.
 The battle moved on from Concord to Lexington a few miles away. 
This is the Hartwell Tavern where part of the battle was fought
 right  in their front yard. There were causalities here.
Concord and Lexington are really beautiful. 
They are so rich in history. 
The battle continued on this road.
There is a monument in Concord honoring those courageous men
 who fought for my right to vote today.
 This is an amazing cemetery in the heart of Concord
 with people who lived and died during that era.

They were faithful, deeply religious men and women
who understood what freedom meant.
 Louisa May Alcott lived in Concord. 
She wrote Little Women in this house. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and
Henry David Thoreau also lived in Concord.
 This is the Old Manse, a house right next to the Old North Bridge.
 Hawthorne lived here for a time. 
It is said that there were people in this home looking out on the battle that occurred that day.
 One of the lanterns Paul Revere used on his ride to warn the townspeople along the route from Boston to Concord that the British Regulars were coming is housed in the Concord Museum. This statue of Paul Revere is along the Freedom Trail in Boston. My good friend from high school met us in Boston and walked most of the trail with us.
 This is the Old North Church in Boston where Revere's lanterns (two of them) hung for less than a minute to warn people that the British regulars were advancing "by sea", actually by route of the Charles River, instead of one lantern which would have signified movement "by land."

Today, I hung out the American Flag which I love to do.
 And I voted because it is my duty and my privilege thanks to so many who gave me that right.
I remember....and I am so grateful....

Monday, November 1, 2010

My View Of New England

Many people have told me since I returned that they have always wanted to take a foliage trip to New England. I have decided to post more pictures than I originally planned to over the next few days to give those who are curious a little taste of New England in the fall. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the fabulous drives we took through the winding, gentle rolling hills where we were immersed in almost constant spectacular beauty. That constant immersion is what makes those trips worth it.
  Beautiful dense sugar maples lined both sides of 
many roads we traveled.
 This is the river walk near my sister's home.
 Rocks walls are everywhere.
 Scenes like this surround most everything.
In New England, they cut down trees to 
build houses instead of build houses 
and then plant trees.
  A typical setting for older colonial era homes.
This was a bed and breakfast in Connecticut.

Lots of white picket fences.
Litchfield County Connecticut.
 A few covered bridges.
This one in Southford Falls, Connecticut.
 I was so content.
This bridge was in Kent Falls State Park, Connecticut.
 A view from a covered bridge
near where my sister lives.
Cornwall Connecticut.

 Route 67, a beautiful winding road which led to the amazing Southbury Connecticut LDS meeting house. It was a 25 minute drive from my sister's house through some wooded neighborhoods and along a wonderful scenic drive which curved a lot. All of a sudden you can see the steeple of the church and then come upon this fairly recently built church sided in white clapboard to match many of the other New England style churches. It is hard to describe how pretty it is.
Southbury Ward.

Typical white clapboard churches of New England.
This was in Concord, Massachusetts.

More about Concord tomorrow.
I loved Concord.