As I have studied, I have been reminded that “out of small things proceed that which is great.” In late March we were able to visit a maple sugar farm and learn about the process of making maple syrup from maple sap. We were able to take a tour with Elder and Sister Dixon (the other senior couple serving in the Lowell First Ward) and thoroughly enjoyed learning about syrup. We learned that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. Truly a great thing proceeding out of a small thing for those that love maple syrup. We saw the taps that are used to pierce the trunk and drain the syrup into pails. We have some pictures of that day and our tour of the sugar shack at Charmingfare Farm in Candia, New Hampshire and have included some of them below.
In March I was able to be reunited with one of my missionary companions for my time in the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission. Elder Michael Blackburn of Boise, ID was traveling here on business and was able to attend our Spanish Group in the Lowell Ward and visit a bit with us. Mike and I were in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) together and then went to the same mission. We then became companions just before the one-year mark of our missions. We had great success together. We were paired together at a pivotal point in my mission where I was about ready to call it quits. His easy going and positive demeanor literally rescued me at the point. All missionaries experience a time of trial on their mission and Mike Blackburn was what I needed. Below is a then and now picture of us. We haven’t changed a bit! (Sarcasm intended here.)
One of our most eagerly anticipated experiences is to attend the temple with friends who have been recently baptized. We were able to help one such friend, Jordan Lucas, prepare his grandfather’s name for baptism and confirmation in the temple and then drive him and Sisters Cattani and Evans to the temple in Belmont, MA. Their Jordan was baptized and confirmed for his grandfather and a few of my family names. He was then able to baptize Sister Cattani and Sister Evans for some of my family names. It was a very special experience to be able to assist with this. Jordan is a good guy and we are glad we’ve been able to help in this regard.
In early April our son Mark, his wife Bonnie, and our grandsons Hayden, Jace, and Oliver drove from Kentucky to spend the coldest spring break in the history of mankind with us! It was wonderful to see family again and enjoy how much our grandsons had grown! We were able to spend a freezing day at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, and then drive up the beautiful New Hampshire coast to Portsmouth, NH and tour the USS Albacore submarine museum. Our grandsons were amazed at how small things are on a submarine, especially the berthing compartments with the bunks (racks in navy terminology). We also saw some lighthouses in Portsmouth. We were able to then go and tour the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in South Royalton, Vermont and receive a tour from the senior couple that serve there. That was a special experience for the family. We then were able to go to the Rauner Special Collections library at Dartmouth College and view a rare first edition copy of the Book of Mormon. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is akin to seeing a Guttenberg Bible. These editions are rare and not easily seen by the public. But at the Rauner Special Collections Library, all I needed to do was exchange my drivers license and the book was brought out for us to view and gently handle. One person was allowed to change to pages. This book means a lot to me and it was interesting to see the layout of the printing as it first appeared. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy. Our visit with family rounded out with an approved trip to Boston and a tour of the USS Constitution. It was another cold day so the rest of that day was spent in the Boston Children’s Museum, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed and I highly recommend it future visitors.
Another Zone Conference has come and gone. These conferences are the anchor that holds each six-week transfer period together in a young missionary’s life. Senior missionaries are not subject to transfers, so we stay where we are, and the young missionaries come and go. Each time one of them leaves our beloved Lowell District, we lament the loss and then welcome a new one in to take their place. These young missionaries become our focus and an extension of our family. This past transfer saw our Hermana Fife finishing her mission and returning home. We’ve been able to associate with her for the entirety of our mission as she was here in Lowell when we arrived, and never left the state of Massachusetts during her mission. Sister Cattani, who is nearly our neighbor in San Tan Valley, AZ, also returned home, as well as our district leader, Elder Apolonio, who returned to his native Brazil. We are very proud of our Lowell District and call it the “promised land” of the mission. We feel it our duty to spoil the missionaries as much as possible.
After nearly a year’s delay we drove to Stockbridge in western Massachusetts and visited the Norman Rockwell Museum. Norman Rockwell was able to capture American life in ways that few artists have been able to accomplish. We enjoyed viewing his many magazine covers. I had forgotten that he painted many covers for Boys Life magazine that every boy scout will remember. His attention to detail was amazing. We enjoyed a guided tour of the museum and the beautiful grounds surrounding it. We met up with Elder and Sister Banks who serve in Pittsfield, MA for lunch. They are finishing their mission at the end of this month, and we will miss our association with them. They made us feel welcome when we arrived in the mission over a year ago now and we will miss them!
And lastly, it is Cambodian New Year and once again the Lowell First Ward celebrated the even with a ward party with good fellowship, good music, and good food for everyone! We truly love the people of this ward and value their friendship and welcoming spirit.