It seems to take me a long time to update this blog. Part of it is my constant procrastination, and part of it is due to a nagging injury to my right elbow that makes typing a chore and painful at times. I have been diagnosed with a forearm strain (tennis elbow) and so I limit my time at the keyboard. If only I had really injured it playing tennis! Instead, it was just from hauling luggage last year on our trip back from England. Since the last blog entry, we have had a Zone Conference and we are heading into transfers again next week. Here is a picture of our last zone conference gathering.
I have reflected a great deal on the symbolism of water in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the water in the baptismal font that symbolically washes away our sins when we are baptized. It is the water that symbolically represents the grave when we rise up out of the font to be born again. We drink the water in the sacrament to represent the living water from the atonement of Jesus Christ and his blood spilt for us. Christ walked on the water to represent the power of faith to his disciples. Peter attempted to walk on water to emulate the Savior and was successful briefly before he began to sink below the waves before Christ strode to him and took him by the hand to raise him up out of the waves. I wrote a poem about water and what it means to me.
by Michael S Zollinger
One drop of water by itself can hardly be felt at all
But in a storm the drops unite and wash and cleanse where they fall
Living waters fresh and pure restore the harrowed soul
Christ our Lord walked on water to save each drowning man
If we have faith we too can walk on waves when we don’t think we can
Fear not for water nourishes life; we drink to fill our souls
And from the shore His Lighthouse shines to guide us ‘round the shoals
Like Peter of old we walk the waves and grasp his saving hand
He leads us on to clear pools of life and tread the safe dry land
Blessedly each sabbath we pause and water drink in memory of His gift
Those precious drops of blood were spilt for man to ever upward lift
I love being on the water, in particular on the ocean. We recently spent a day in Portland, Maine and were able to take a short boat ride to see a few lighthouses in Casco Bay. It was a gorgeous day to be out there. Here are a few pictures.
We continue with our normal activities that we have talked about before. We finished another round of temple preparation classes with three class members this time. We will be happy to go with them to the temple when the time comes. We love the members of the Lowell First Ward! It is a wonderful diverse set of people who care about each other. The ward has a tradition of having a “Linger Longer” during the summer months after the block of meetings on Sundays. Here are some pictures from the most recent gathering.
A few weeks ago, we met a wonderful family from Guatemala who are members of the church. We were able to visit them in their home and get to know them a little better. Part of the challenge for the Lowell First Ward is that they have approximately 1400 members on their records. It is a deluge to keep up with and keep accurate. This particular family was not on the records, so we are helping to get the records transferred here. In all my years of church service I have never served as a clerk of any kind.
We continue to enjoy the English classes three nights a week. The attendance goes up and down, but in my reckoning since we have been here, there have never been fewer than about ten students in attendance. I think it is safe to say that these are the most successful English classes in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. My wife teaches an advanced student, and he never misses a class. I am proud of his work ethic. I am usually taking care of administrative functions during the class, but occasionally I participate in conversations. One night, a student asked our advice on how to tell her clients that she needed to raise her rates for her cleaning services due to inflation. It was fun to give some coaching on how to approach the problem. The next time she came to class she reported that it went well, and the client agreed to pay more. She had not raised her rates in almost ten years!
Recently we had a missionary celebrate a birthday. Here we are in our apartment with most of our district celebrating Sister Nickel's birthday:
Our preparation days usually find us out exploring New England. I had read that Littleton, New Hampshire had one of the longest covered wooden pedestrian bridges in the USA. So, we decided to check it out. The drive as about two hours into the heart of the White Mountains. My readers may remember my failed attempt to drive up Mount Washington. Fortunately, my PTSD did not stop us from driving into the Mount Washington region again! Littleton is built along the banks of the Ammonoosuc River which the 350-foot-long wooden bridge straddles. What we didn’t know until we got there was the Littleton, NH is the birthplace of the writer Eleanor H. Porter, the author of Pollyanna. The town has a statue of Pollyanna in front of the public library on Main Street in her honor. There are testaments to the spirit of Pollyanna along main street with phrases like, “be glad!” and others. On Main Street we found pianos at regular intervals on the sidewalk for tourists to play as they desired. We enjoyed this small town and the homage to the innocence of Pollyanna and a bygone era, where life was simpler and seemingly more beautiful. Here are some pictures of that journey.
We’ve also found more time to visit more lakes which we found to be a peaceful way to spend our time. Here are pictures of Lake Pawtuckaway.
The Young Single Adult (YSA) ward sister missionaries had a baptismal service not long ago. A young man was baptized and warmly welcomed into the ward by the young people. These YSA ward members are comprised by mainly college age single members. In speaking with some of them they travel long distances to be together. I sometimes marvel at their dedication in traveling long distances just to be together for an hour or two.
And finally I end with a picture of some sister missionaries who were formerly in the Lowell District that we ran into in our travels to Worchester. It was great to see them again. Also, we have transfers next week, so here is one last picture of the Lowell District before changes are made next Thursday.
We love New England! Even more so since the weather is starting to cool and the leaves will start to turn soon!