Friday, December 2, 2011

Trip to Texas and Arkansas

After dealing with mixed emotions about leaving Martin’s Cove for our two week get-business-done trip, we headed out early Friday morning, November 11 for Texas. The day was spent driving, more driving, and yet, even more driving. While Elder Smith drove, Sister Smith worked on labeling all the summer photos on the computer. Something about this “keep things organized” obsession overpowering her. We made it to Amarillo the first night and stayed at a dump of a hotel because a pro rodeo was in town. Oh well, just needed a place to rest for a few hours and then back on the road for another long day of traveling.

We arrived in Fredericksburg about 3 pm and found our camper all set up and ready for us…well, the outside was set up. The inside was a different story as it was our storage spot for over a year. We spent most of our time in Texas on a doctor marathon run; total of 10 appointments in three days along with lab work. Poor Elder Smith had to have his blood drawn two days in a row. We both received clearance to continue doing what we are doing which was such exciting news; especially for me!!! We were blessed to be able to spend time visiting with my parents, grandmother, and friends from the park and church. It was so great to see everyone and hear about their summer excursions. I was even able to squeeze in playing the dulcimer three times with Donna and Mo, my buddies. It was so much fun. We attended church at Fredericksburg which was fun surprising them by showing up. They were so excited to hear all about our adventures of the mission and believe me, we were excited to share. I was invited to do sharing time with the primary and tell them pioneer accounts and then we sang songs with Patrick the Parrot. After all, I am known as the Parrot Lady in primary.
My parents, Les and Phyllis Murdoch
The craft Angela and I entertained ourselves with one afternoon.
Paisley, the grand dog, with Colin and Ryanne, the flat travelers.

The next Saturday, we headed towards Arkansas--another long day in the truck driving, more driving, and still more driving. Sure glad I have plenty of photos to label and what a great time to reminisce about our eventful summer. Since we are taking our pull camper back to Wyoming with us and knew we could not park it at Karl and Angela’s apartment complex, Karl found us a place across town to drop it for the week. So, they met us there and then led us back to their apartment. They are now living really close to the university at some new apartments. We were warmly greeted by Paisley, our grand dog. I never thought I would ever say that or claim a grand dog but she sure is special. Karl had school on Monday and Tuesday morning but somehow was able to go with us wherever we went. We spent our time visiting base, going by the old neighborhood, and shopping. Angela and I spent a girl’s day out with shopping and getting our hair done. It was a great time. The guys went shopping and to a basketball game. You know, the guy’s day out things. Elder Smith, Karl and Angela kept the family tradition of Black Friday shopping. They spent 2 hours waiting for a store to open, 30 minutes to get what they wanted, and then 3½ hours waiting to pay for it. Personally, I am not so sure the return on time investment was profitable…Karl would not support that decision though as he got a computer to finish up his school years. It was just great to see everyone having such a good time together. Angela and I also had an afternoon for crafting after visiting Hobby Lobby which is always fun for me.

We said our goodbyes early Monday morning as Angela headed back to work, Karl back to school, and us back on the road for two more very long days of driving, more driving and still more driving. A highlight of the trip home was getting to meet Melissa, Micah, and Maddie Harris at Flying J near Joplin, Missouri. Mike is deployed, so missed seeing him. This family is very special to us. They shared some primary songs and their Christmas wish list with us while we ate lunch. I have to research Micah’s request as he wants a racetrack that stays on the wall. Sure hope we get to spend a couple days with them this coming spring when they come visit us at the Cove.
Madie and Micah

We arrived home about 11:00 pm Tuesday night. Was a very long drive on Tuesday but well worth it considering how much work we had facing us when we arrived. We spent Wednesday unloading the pull trailer and organizing a bit in the apartment. We definitely did the right thing because we woke up to four to five inches of snow on Thursday morning. What a beautiful site it was to behold!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

River Crossing

November 4 is the date the Martin Handcart Company left Fort Seminoe to go into the cove for protection and crossed the Sweetwater River when it was so very cold. The winter missionaries held a commemorative river crossing on Friday, the 4th. There were a few visitors whom joined us in our event. A couple from Utah, the Hathaways, have done this crossing every year for 13 years and have experienced all types of weather and conditions for the crossing. They were very interesting to visit with. They had invited another couple to join them which were descendants of Rebecca Winters which is a pioneer lady buried near Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Elder Smith and I were touched to hear the story of the moving of Rebecca Winters grave from this couple because when we did our Arkansas Youth Trek, we were the Winters family. Back to the river crossing, all together there were seventeen who crossed the river. The program began with a gathering to recite some pioneer accounts of the crossing and then I read a couple scriptures and gave a small spiritual thought. We then loaded up in the rovers and drove the actual trail from Fort Seminoe down about two and half miles where they would have left the trail. We then walked down the hill with handcarts to the river and crossed. The first step into the river was quite a shock to the system; it was extremely cold. By about half way across, I could no longer feel my legs or feet. Then we got out on the other side and the wind hit the legs and it hurt. I felt like ice picks were poking me over and over. It was one of the worst physical feelings I have had for quite awhile. The other sisters and I looked at each other and did not want to cross back but knew we had to. The weather was clear, very windy with temperature about 45. Knowing I had to get to the other side, I harnessed up in the handcart and started pulling. It was worse the second time across with getting numb and then climbing out of the river. I now have a much better understanding of the significance of the river crossing which occurred 155 years ago and the invaluable service the four valley boys rendered to the frail saints.
Traveling the trail in our rovers. We are in the last rover that is camo painted. Fits us, uh?
Walking down to the river across the prairie. I am in the red coat.
Randy and Elder Vinton pulling through the river.
The women pulling through the river. Notice our faces and it is only a glimpse of how cold it was.
Pulling up the bank of the river on the other side. To me this was the tough part because I couldn't feel my legs.

One morning as we were getting phone messages off the machine, we heard the voice of a young man whom wanted to know more about the church and wondered if we could talk to him. I returned the phone call with the thoughts I would get his information and do a missionary referral. When I reached him, he explained to me that he was using a friend’s phone so his parents wouldn’t get upset that he had called as they were Baptist. He explained that he had been reading a lot on the internet and wanted to talk to someone about what we believe. I mentioned having the young missionaries come speak with him but he was a bit nervous about that right now. I didn’t know where to start as he didn’t have a particular subject to discuss. He just wanted to know more. I was also a bit skeptical as I was sure this would end up as a prank phone call. After a short silent prayer, I started through the Articles of Faith and explained what we believe. He was very interested and had some questions while we were talking. I suggested he go to mormon.org to read some more as some of the information he had wasn’t quite on track. Then I suggested he go to one of our chapels on a Wednesday (he is 18 and still in high school) and I was sure he would find someone to talk to and would answer more questions if he didn’t feel comfortable with the missionaries because of his parents. He explained to me he was African American and was concerned about being entitled to everything because of his readings he wasn’t sure. I shared with him that my cousin was an active member, priesthood holder, goes to the temple and is African American and that I have a granddaughter that is African American which put his concern at ease. Being a recent convert I do not understand the total history behind withholding the priesthood from the African Americans and I was quite uneasy going any deeper. When the conversation ended I felt at peace with everything that was said. I am so grateful the Lord entrusted me with the opportunity to share my testimony with someone searching for the truth.

Elder Smith and I have had some great experiences in the visitors’ center lately. We served in the visitors’ center both Saturday and Sunday this past week. On Saturday, a couple came from Utah. They were the first family to go out on the trail after the dignitaries when the cove opened in 1997. They had cart #1. Then, she had been part of a support group for a trek group this past summer. Right from the beginning of meeting this couple, I could tell he was struggling with something and needed the time at the cove to work it out. They weren’t too interested in going through the center but graciously obliged me sharing thoughts and stories as we went through. He asked if he could take a handcart out and cross the river. Elder Smith hooked up a handcart on the rover and took them out to the river. Only he crossed the river and as he did so he would stop and ponder (which I am sure included some prayers). He crossed twice and the second time he crossed he placed rocks in the cart to symbolize his family and on the other side touched the rocks carefully as talking to them and then brought them back and put them back on the ground. It was heartbreaking to see him struggle but comforting to know he knew the right way to work out his struggle. On Sunday, we had a man and woman stop by on their way to Rawlins from Casper. He is the business manager for the Carbon County School District (recently moved to Rawlins) and she was asked to come and talk to their food service department as a consultant. Neither one of them members but she knew she was a descendent of a member of the Martin Company. They didn’t understand the story of the Martin Company before coming and didn’t realize their struggle. She was especially touched when she saw the name of her ancestor on the board in the center. She was so grateful they stopped by on their way to Rawlins and vowed to come back with her daughter. We have also had several sets of father/son visitors. I love it when the son is a teenager and spending time with his dad. It is so rewarding to visit with these young men and share with them the foundation of our church and challenge them with thought provoking questions while going through the center. I just love our visitors.
Our talents are truly being stretched. As I mentioned in the last blog, I am tagged with helping with the music for prayer meeting and some Sundays. It is coming along and is actually somewhat very enjoyable. Because we are a small group and all learning together, the acceptance of the missed notes or off beat leading is so comforting. I can also testify that practice really pays off and in itself practice is a good stress reliever. Just this past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to stretch a bit more. Prior to the departure of the other missionaries and couple sisters made arrangements to machine embroidery our handcart emblem on white ties for our husbands. Cool idea but our machine broke during the beginning of the process and had to be repaired. It was not returned until after everyone had left. So Sister Fenn and I went to the store and received some lessons on the machine. We were both very nervous about completing the project and even talked to another business about doing it for us. But we attempted one and it went pretty well so we did a couple more. Well, when I left on Thursday, there were 40 ties done. Elder Smith has also learned quite a bit. The first was winterizing all the water lines and such all over the homestead. Just this week, he, along with the other Elders, had the puzzle of how to fix the flagpole which is about 35 feet high. The wind blew so hard that it broke the rope with the flags on it and carried them over towards the corral area. The pole had to be extracted and laid down, the pulleys repaired, rope restrung, and then placed back in place. The pictures will tell the story and each one of the Elders were in heaven playing with the toys to do the job. A tender mercy for the whole process was the wind did not blow (which is a monumental moment on the plains of Wyoming), not even a whisper of a breeze, during the process making it a safer event.
This is my nervous look for working on the ties.
Using the "right" equipment to remove the flag pole.
Moving the pole to a place where it could be laid down. This was a slow and gentle process.
One man's toy was not enough to do the job, so had to pull out something a little bigger.
That is my Elder in the bucket along with the director.
Now the tractors backed up slowly to lay the flag pole down.
Whew, made it to the ground safely. The Elders done good!!
All repaired with new pulleys, rope and flags. Time to raise the flag and even with respests of removing their hats.
I got the best man for the job to help with ties!! Not really, he was just watching the machine.

We are headed to Texas and Arkansas for the next couple of weeks. When our mission was extended, we were told we could take some time to go home for doctor appointments and take care of other business. Since we had prescheduled our appointments for this timeframe we are the last couple to leave the homestead for our leave. It is a bitter sweet time for us to leave the place we have grown to really love to head south. We are looking forward to seeing some of our family and friends and spending quality time with them.
How do you like our winter visitors?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ALL ALONE

We have begun our winter season at the Mormon Handcart Historic Sites. It sure is different from the activity of the summer. Now, don’t get me wrong, we are not sitting around trying to find something to do as we still have assignments and chores. We are busy doing maintenance around the area and prepare for next summer. There is still scheduling and fine-tuning the treks that will be coming next summer, putting training manuals, script books, and the other necessities for the new set of missionaries arriving next spring together, and then the big thing that has kept Elder Smith busy is winterizing everything. First was the equipment and RVs and now are the water lines for the campgrounds, Ranch 66, and the homestead. I should find out how many feet of water lines they have to drain and blow out.

There are seven couples who will be staying for the winter. We are called polar bears but that had a real negative effect on us new missionaries from last year’s polar bears so we just call ourselves the winter missionaries. Since all of us prepared to only be away from home for six months and now have to stay for 18, we are allowed to return to our home for two weeks to take care of medical appointments, finances and anything else we may have to. We will be heading back to Texas around the middle of November and have to be back the weekend of Thanksgiving. Until we return there are two couples absent from the homestead each week so that leaves five to do all the work. That wouldn’t be too bad but our number of visitors isn’t decreasing very much; today we had 89 visitors and only three couples were working. All six of us were guiding visitors through the homestead and taking them up to the cove. We stay on assignment until all the visitors have departed; sometimes until 5:30 or 6 pm.

There is a scary part of just a few of us hanging around all winter. There aren’t many who play the piano or know anything about music so any of us who even can plunk at the keyboard are honing our skills. I have to play the piano for prayer meeting at least once a week and lead the music twice a week. I was so nervous the first day I played for prayer meeting. I practiced the same hymn for several hours out of the big hymn book. Then as one of the other ladies was practicing she found a simplified hymn book and it sure is making it a bit easier until I get more comfortable. I am so out of my comfort zone with this piano playing in front of people and the leading is even more nerve wracking. I think I will be bald by the time I am released from this mission. If you feel enticed, please pray for me that I don’t get too worked up over this.

Okay that isn’t the only new adventure for me. With the few numbers, we will be speaking in the branch, teaching Sunday School, or teaching Relief Society and Priesthood quite often. Last week, our guest Sunday speakers didn’t show up; so Elder Smith was chosen to speak on the spur of the moment for sacrament. That is alright as he is a counselor in the Branch Presidency but I am sure my turn will come. One more thing to make me nervous, so I am going to prepare a talk and have it ready for the next time someone doesn’t show up. Well, if I get a couple minutes to do so.

With staying for the winter, we do not stay in our RV. There are one bedroom apartments on the homestead for the winter missionaries. We started moving into our apartment on Oct 1 and are close to being totally settled. I just need to set up our office area and hang pictures. It is quite a cozy little place that sits on top of a hill overlooking the homestead and out across the prairie. I am going to get really spoiled having so much room to spread out in compared to the Bighorn.

On the Saturday we started moving, Elder Smith and I were occupied out at the campground packing up the fifth wheel getting it ready to pull into the homestead and Elder Smith was winterizing the fifth wheel. We were close to being done when one of the missionaries let us know there was a baptism and the directors were in Casper on an errand. So, Elder Smith as the counselor needed to preside over the baptism. We quickly cleaned up, changed clothes and headed for the homestead for the baptism. It was an eight year old boy whose family recently moved from Colorado to Casper and really wanted to be baptized in the Sweetwater River. It was a cold, cold day. In fact, it had been spitting snow and then rained most of the afternoon. So, we had the opening ceremonies for the baptism with about 15 people in attendance in what we call our Gathering Room and proceeded over to the edge of the river. It was so cold and wet, I had the boy’s little sister wrapped in my coat with me and Elder Smith had another child he was monitoring. We get to the river and I can see it is going to be cold. The dad picked up the young man and walked down into the river. The grimace on the dad’s face told all of us it was not real pleasant but the boy wasn’t quite clued in yet. The dad talked to the young man for a second or two and then set him down into the water which came up to about his waist. Within three seconds, that young man climbed straight up his dad’s body clear to his shoulder and he was letting the world know just how cold and unpleasant that water felt. He was screaming and yelling that he wasn’t going to do it and don’t make him. The dad tried to reason with him, the mother tried to reason with him, Elder Smith tried to reason with him and there was no way it was going to happen. The Bishop was in attendance and suggested to the family that he call his counselor in Casper and they can start filling the font and it would be ready by the time they got back to town. Sounds good to me but the grandmother said no because the boy wanted to be baptized at Martin’s Cove and she asked if anyone had a tub of some sort. I casually mentioned that we had a bathtub in our apartment we were moving into. Well, one thing led to another and we ended up filling our bathtub to the top and the father baptized his son in our bathtub. After the baptism, they confirmed him in our living room. It was quite a neat experience and event for us to partake in at our own home.

Another assignment that rolls around quite often is doing Family Home Evening. The Smiths had it last Monday so we decided we needed to carve pumpkins. So we purchased enough pumpkins for one per couple and had a blast as you can see by the pictures. We forgot to get candles though and no one has gone to town yet to pick up candles so the jack-o-lanterns look pretty sad in the dark. Every time we do some crazy activity all of us state that our children would never belief what we were up to and of course, that was the case with the carving jack-o-lanterns. It was quite a serious task for some of the guys as they had to use power tools.

Our antelope friends are real friendly. This is right outside the door of our camper before leaving Missionary Village.
We are pulling out of Missionary Village to go move into our apartment. I am getting spoiled with all this room in our one bedroom apartment which may make moving back into the Bighorn a bit difficult.
Looking out our bedroom window in the apartment the night we moved in. I guess it makes it all worth it.
Our Family Home Evening of carving pumpkins. This is also our Branch here at the cove -- small in numbers but mighty in spirit!!
Getting serious about doing a good job. The ranchhand's daughter, Kathryn, and I carved a pumpkin together. We had a great time while Elder Smith snapped pictures.
Well, how did we do??

Saturday, October 8, 2011

TIme To Catch Up

Whew, I have a few minutes to breathe and my top priority is to get the blog updated. After all, it has been six weeks since the last post. We are putting in some long days once again with only a couple weeks to catch our breath from all the trekkers. Additionally, with Elder Smith’s new assignment as assistant director, he has been active orienting himself with the duties. It is exciting to see him excel at being a loved leader. I am constantly getting positive comments about how the missionaries love working with and for him. Makes me proud!!

As assistant director our P-days cannot be set in stone. Luckily, before knowing our future, we were able to go to the Guernsey Ruts, Register Cliff and Fort Laramie with our good friends the Petersons. These three historic sites are part of the Oregon and Mormon Trail. Fort Laramie is where many of the young pioneers would drop off the handcart companies and join the army to try and earn money for their family. Register Cliff is where several names are carved in rock…pioneer graffiti. The most interesting to us was the wagon ruts. I remember visiting there as a young girl but only saw one set of the ruts where this time we walked all over the hill and there are several areas of ruts which was just so exciting to explore. I wanted to take our friends to a great little Mexican restaurant in Lingle for lunch but they were closed for vacation. I guess they didn’t get the memo that I was coming through. It was a great get-away day.

Oregon Trail Ruts



Register Cliff Name--there are hundreds carved on the cliff.

The last day for missionaries to be on post was Labor Day. We were blessed to have Martin’s Cove as our last post during the Labor Day weekend. It was a beautiful weekend as you can see by the pictures. We are planning on taking a ride up there soon as we hear the colors are just beautiful. Along with the changes in the countryside, we are noticing the changes in the wildlife. The deer are beautiful with their velvet antlers, the antelope have nice healthy hides and coloring, and sage hens and such are appearing. Our evening entertainment is to watch the buck antelope keep tabs on their lady friends and to protect their territory. We were fortunate enough to see a couple of them tangle their antlers while showing off for the ladies. Of course, I didn’t have the camera close by.

Last day at Martin's Cove.
Trying to catch up on some computer work.

With the imminent departure of most of the missionaries, we have had some cool evening activities. One of them was the annual variety show where the missionaries displayed their various talents. There were several missionaries who read poetry, skits by various groups, and then singing or playing the drums. The true talent was displayed with the woodwork and paintings done by several. It was an interesting night. Then one evening after shift a bunch of us missionaries climbed thru Devil’s Gate. And when I say climbed, I mean climbed over rocks; big ones. Then there was an area where we had to walk and crawl the plank on a handcrafted slough. Not the typical activity you would see folks over 60 doing; and definitely not what I thought I would be capable of doing just nine months ago. On Tuesday, September 13, we had Girl’s Day Out. All the sisters went to town shopping for the day. We met at Christopher Banks at 9:00 a.m. and had quite a time with modeling different outfits, swapping each others items they picked off the racks, and selecting outfits for each other. After a couple hours there, everyone bunched off to go to other stores in the mall and later met up for lunch at Olive Garden. After lunch, there were carloads going thrifting, fabric stores, Hobby Lobby, each somewhere of their own interest. It was so fun to just break loose and then share each other’s treasures once we returned back to Missionary Village. Of course, there were several comments from store clerks about how did we get set free without the Elders. Benefits of a senior mission I suspect. Our last big activity before the majority return to their homes is a huge dinner on Monday. We will be celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving with a typical American Thanksgiving meal. Fun, fun, fun!!

Elders singing some western tunes.
Sister dressed up to sing their Rover song. No we don't dress like this every day.
Colleen trying to revive the Bug Man after he "gave up the ghost"
Girl's Day Out at Christopher Banks
Lunch at Olive Garden. There were 48 of us.
Devil's Gate
Closer to the opening of Devil's Gate
Up we go.
Up we go some more.
Now down we go and the camera had to go after this as I was trying to climb in a skirt. I forgot to take jeans to change into after work.

As I mentioned earlier, we only had a couple weeks to catch our breath, because the focus in September was training the trek leaders whom with bring their groups of youth, families, or wards to do a trek next summer. We had three weekends dedicated to the Trek Leader Training Seminars with over 350 attending. Each weekend has different attendees. The first day is spent with an overview of a trek and then we actually divide them into two groups and then take them on a short six mile trek. Randy and I were trek leaders for one of the groups for the first week. This is quite an eye opener for most of the leaders on how much physical stamina it takes to do the trek. Quite a few of them have to drop out and catch a rover ride back to the training. Randy and I were rover drivers the second week of training and kept quite busy. The second day of training has several vignettes about the pioneers and how the stories can be shared with the youth and then the nuts and bolts of planning a trek. I was in one of the reader’s theaters and then did a reading to music which really made me nervous. After the training, I had to hurry to the office as the leaders would come over to work on their individual scheduled trek, purchase reference materials, or just have questions. The office became quite an active for about four hours. The exciting part of participating in the trek leader training is getting to know these leaders and then we will see them next summer with their groups. We each had some very special moments visiting with the leaders and sharing stories. One particular lady had called me at the beginning of the week she was coming and was really obstinate about having to come to the training and kinda threatened me at to it better be worth it. I just promised her a hug when she got her and asked her to have an open mind and then let me know if it was worth it before she left. I did find her and give her the hug and then kept an eye on her throughout the training. At the end of the two days, I asked her if it was worth it. She got tears in her eyes and was very emphatic on how worth it and how spiritually uplifting the whole weekend was. She has also taken the time to write to our schedulers to share with the director as to how much she truly appreciated the training and us missionaries. This is why I love serving the Lord.

The Elders waiting for their wives to finish up in the office.

One of Elder Smith’s new responsibilities is to give daily work crew assignments to 15 to 20 men and sometimes women a day for the various projects necessary for the upkeep of the site. With this also comes making sure enough materials are available to complete the projects. Both tasks that are right up his alley!! But with the limit of only one purchase card, we make several trips to Casper. We made three trips last week and so far it has been two this week. I am going to take advantage of these trips and take the computer along to type up the blog.
Our friendly neighborhood watch guy!
These guys watch the cove for us when the trekkers leave.
Thanksgiving dinner any one?
This is our neighbors lawn. They are just much to comfortable around here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saying Goodbyes

Our time here is coming to a close as we had to say goodbye to our 12-week missionaries this week. There was a pulled pork barbeque on Thursday night with the Martin’s Cove Band entertaining before dinner and then cowboy music after dinner. It was a wonderful evening full of fun and good friendship and giving us time to bid our new friends farewell.

Last Saturday evening the missionaries were treated to a grilled steak dinner put on by the Casper members of the church. It was so yummy having steak, potatoes, salad and cobbler. Since we had spent the summer in Casper last year, we knew some of the Casper people so it was exciting to get to visit with them and catch up on news. For me, the moving part of the evening was the smell of the barbeque. We haven’t had one barbeque all summer due to the activity of all and the late hours of posts. So, just to smell the coals burning was quite relaxing.

After the dinner, there was a fireside with Sister Dorene Lloyd and Sister Joanne Baird (Sister Marjorie Hinckley’s sisters). They are the sweetest things and show such deep love for each other. They, their other two sisters and brother (until their death) have met every Wednesday afternoon since the late 1970s and done various activities. Now, that is truly commitment. Their grandmother is Mary Goble, whom traveled with the Hunt Wagon Company and grandfather, Richard Pay, who also traveled with the Hunt Wagon Company. They had a little reader’s theater telling about their grandma and grandpa’s experiences while traveling across the plains. Mary Goble’s toes froze that they had to be amputated when she reached Salt Lake. She rode in the wagon holding her dead mother’s head down Emigration Canyon. Her mom had died just two days before reaching Salt Lake. During the journey, the Gobles lost a baby after 6 weeks which died in Nebraska. Thru a series of small miracles, Sister Lloyd and Sister Baird were able to obtain the grave marker for this baby. They brought it with them to show all of us.

The marker is made from a wagon board; in fact, it still has some nails in it. It was carved out and then was burned with an instrument to make it dark lettering and keep it readable. The marker was in the hands of a couple which live in Idaho in the middle of nowhere. They had found it in a creek bed on their property. Their yard was decorated with old antiques and this was part of the d├ęcor for several years. One day, the husband decided he would look up the name on the internet and see if he could find out anything about the child. To his surprise, he found out it was related to President Hinckley’s wife. They tried to write a letter to President Hinckley asking if he wanted it but the people who got the letter thought it was a hoax since none of the pioneers died in Idaho from the trail. So, President Hinckley never saw the letter. They sent other letters trying to reach the family but to no avail. It wasn’t until the Hinckley siblings were scheduled for a fireside in Idaho and one of the members of the ward or stake who knew about this grave marker (friends of the owners) put the two interested parties together that the marker was able to be placed in the family of the Hinckley’s. How the marker got in Idaho is still a mystery but it is known that thru the years several Bedouins would travel through and maybe that is how it got picked up and then discarded at a later time.
Pay Sisters with Great Aunt's grave marker from 1856

Saturday was our preparation day (PDay) and we took advantage of having some time off. There wasn’t a real need for any groceries and such and I had everything pretty much caught up around the house so we went exploring. About 40 miles from here is Green Mountain and on the top of the mountain is a herd of wild horses. We went and found them. We were able to drive up fairly close but then got out and walked which got us a bit closer. We witnessed two stallions fighting and then mares protecting their foals of all different ages. It was an absolutely beautiful sight. I think pictures of them in the snow would be gorgeous. We then went to Riverton, Wyoming and decided that is not the town for us. We much prefer Lander.
The Two Stallions
What we got of the fight between the two
One of the small herds grazing

This past Wednesday was this week’s PDay and we once again went exploring. We traveled over to Lander to tour the Eagle Bronze foundry and Sinks State Park. The foundry was so very interesting. They were in the process of making a monument of two fighting horses which will be cast in stainless steel and are going to somewhere in Dubai as a sheik bought it. Oh, for the small cost of at least 2 to 3 million dollars. It was told to us that due to the shininess of this monument, it will be able to be seen from outer space. The process that goes on to make one of these monuments has sure changed the way I look at them now. I hope to go through the foundry again. The Sinks is where a river runs straight into a cracks in the mountain and goes underground for about a quarter of a mile and then comes right out of the rocks. I know you think I mean into a cave and then out a tunnel but no I don’t…I mean into the rock side of the mountain and then out from the rock pile down lower. They say the water that goes in takes two hours to come out. It was very interesting to read about and even more to actually see. We are enjoying exploring on our PDays and the next one is scheduled to take some missionary friends to Guernsey Ruts, Fort Laramie and Register Cliff. It will be a long day but a good one.
The statue of the horses being made.
The entrance of the water into the mountain. Sorry, but I didn't get a good picture of the water coming out.
This is when I was down closer to where the water disappears into the mountain.
Do you recognize these two?

Martin’s Cove experienced a first last Friday. Three bikers came to visit on their way to Sturgis. It was a gentleman, his friend, and his son-in-law. They were just enjoying a guy’s trip and stopping to see the sights along the way. They decided to walk up to the cove before leaving. As they were walking the gentleman started to not feel well. He rested for a time at one of our posts but then felt he could go on. He only made it about 50 yards and collapsed on the trail. The missionary called for help and then called for the truck to come out on the trail as it was evident he was in serious condition. Another visitor to the area was a registered nurse and started CPR which continued for over an hour and half until the ambulance could get out here. The gentleman didn’t make it. Once the EMT arrived they knew he was gone and probably was gone as soon as he collapsed. It was a very emotional day for all of us as several of us had our own special memory of this visitor. I sure hope we don’t have any more days like last Friday.

With the winding down of the season, preparation is made for the winter. During the winter, there are six couples who are housed here whom take care of the property and prepare for the next summer. These six couples are called “Polar Bears.” Rumblings were going around the missionaries as to who was going to get asked to stay. It has been fun to kid and threaten our friends that they were going to freeze, need warmer coats, enjoy being snowbound, etc. Well, to our surprise, on Monday we were called into the director’s office and given the call from the Presiding Bishopric to stay and be the assistant directors for a year. What an honor but what a change of plans. I guess all our training for flexibility from the Air Force days has prepared us for retirement years also. I know this will upset some but to be in the service of the Lord is the most fulfilling and gratifying opportunity. Elder Bruce Carlson stated, “Faithful obedience, regardless of the apparent size of the task, will bring the Lord’s guidance, assistance, and peace.” There are thousands of things we could be doing with our lives right now and have the time to do it but we feel we are where the Lord wants us at this time. A statement from Neal A Maxwell has carried me through many a time, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.” We are excited about our new calling.
This is how we solve the problems of the day. By the time we had them all solved there were eight more people around the bed of this truck.
Elder Smith dipping the handcarts into something that treats the wood and prepares them for next year. This was a cool contraption made by one of the Elders that saves a lot of brush strokes!!