Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Halfway Here & Halfway Home

It's pretty hard to believe that, as of today, we've actually served half of our mission. Wow!
Elder Borget, one of our visa waiters who's been waiting forever or maybe a year, actually left today for Brazil! We'll miss him but know how excited he is to be heading to South America, even though he's loved serving in LA. He's recently been Elder Adkins' companion, so we had the pleasure of having Elder A with us while he stays with the Office Elders until he gets a new companion tomorrow at Transfers. What fun to have him back. He fits here like a glove and gets in and helps--just like in days gone by. 

Here are the before and after shots of Sister Lindstrom's new perm. She and Sister Baba came flying in the office after a morning at the hairdresser. She was sure the perm was fine, but when Barbara (yes, the one I recommended) started to brush her hair out, Sister L knew she was in trouble. She decided the office was the closest place to come to try to reconstruct her new do. Personally, I think she's adorable no matter what! Barbara also took 6" from Sister Baba's locks. That girl has some seriously beautiful, long hair!

After the taming of the hair Sister L and Sister B went with us to lunch then Sam's Club where Elder L picked up tables and chairs for some of our new apartments and I took the sisters on a shopping spree. We just told them to get whatever they like that they normally wouldn't. It took some coaxing, and they certainly weren't greedy, but they managed to get some staples and a few splurges. Now that was fun!

Just a comment on the 22 new missionaries who arrived today. Sadly their flight out of SLC was delayed for over an hour, which meant that they wouldn't make their connecting flight somewhere in Texas. On the first email from the SL travel office, one of the options was to return them all to the MTC and start over tomorrow. OH NO! That is not a good plan. But what else do you do with 20 missionaries all going to the same location. (The other 2 came from Mexico City, arrived on time, and had no problems.) Fortunately they were able to send them on other flights--mostly through Atlanta. They're all here now, but it took meeting 5 different flights to do it. Yay! All are here safe and sound and ready to meet their first in-field compantions tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Elder Adkins Returns

Elder Steele and Elder Adkins with the plant that Elder Steele grew from a seed.
How sad will I be when Sister Lyons goes home? Not only is she so much fun to be with or talk to, but she's my supplier of jokes. Today are more about Boudreaux and Thibodaux.

One day Boudreaux walked into Thibodaux's house & asked him may what's that in ya front yard?? Thibodaux said "may it a helicopter." Boudreaux says "may a helicopter. What it do?" Thibodaux say "come see I show ya." They walk in the yard. Thibodaux gets in and takes off strait up into the clouds. After a while Boudreaux hears a loud noise and Thibodaux and helicopter come crashing down. So Boudreaux walks around and finds Thibodaux laying on da ground all cut-up. Boudreaux asks "may Thibodaux what happen? " Thibodoux say "may Boudreaux I was going up in dat helicopter der and it got cold so I turned off the fan!!

Boudreaux, Thibodaux & St. Pierre been on dis island for 5 long years. One day St. Pierre was walking along da beach when he found dis bottle. He brought it to da camp dey built and opened it. A genie popped out and said,"I grant 3 wishes and since there are 3 of ya'll, you each get 1 wish. Since you found me, St. Pierre, you get the first wish."St. Pierre said,"I am from Cut Off and I wanna go back home." So den he was back home. Thibodaux said,"I am from Galliano and I wanna go back home." So den Thibodaux was back home. Boudreaux,him, he had to think a while. He said,"You know sha, I am kinda lonely, I wish my 2 podnas were back here!"

One day Boudreax and Thibodaux were watching TV. A good commercial about a movie came on and it said, "Coming To A Theatre Near You." Boudreaux looked at Thibodaux and said, "Thib how they know where we live?" 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Plaquemine YW President

If I get through this story I'll be surprised. This is Sister Jackson, our YW President. This picture doesn't quite depict the real Heather. Apparently, the day that Sister Hill left, last Tuesday, Sister J had to take her daughter from Plaquemine, where she lives, to BR, where daughter goes to Seminary and high school. So that's what she did, except seminary finished early, so Sister J arrived at Sister Trent's house too early for an 8 am (it was only 7) appointment. Not seeing any lights on, Heather waited in the car and fell asleep. The next thing she knew she was awakened by police pounding on her window and demanding to know who she was. She tried to explain who she was and what she was doing, so they let her go. But then when she came out of the house they patted her down and slapped handcuffs on her.

The reason the police came, in the first place, is because Sister T didn't recognize the car or see Heather, so she called to say there was a prowler in the neighborhood. This is where things get confusing. I think she didn't have her ID because her license had been taken when she posted bail for a traffic ticket. That's another story that I haven't heard yet. Anyway, in front of the Trent's and 4 sister missionaries who were there for breakfast, off to jail she went!

I received an update and things I'd forgotten to include from Heather. After the police let her go the first time she went into the hours and fixed a plate for breakfast. They'd started a report and asked Heather to come and give a statement. After coming outside she was asked to put her hands behind her back, then cuffed and read her rights. Why? She was arrested for animals at large because her dog, Ash, had gotten out earlier in the summer and into a fight with a dog that was in her yard that Ash thought was attacking her daughter. The owner of the other dog called the police and had Ash picked up under the pretense that Ash had mauled him. Animal control set a court date based on the other dog owner's report. He wanted Ash deemed dangerous and put down. After investigating, they discovered that Ash never touched the neighbor, so they released him and dropped the case.

Heather thought that the summons was dropped, so she missed her court date. Her husband had been in the hospital for 5 weeks, and she just came home to grab clothes, take care of the dog and bring the mail. Sadly, Heather didn't take time to go through the mail, because in there was the letter about her having missed the court date. So now she's out on bond and waiting for her arraignment:(

I wonder if she needs a good non-licensed defense attorney who's well-versed in California Law!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Westbank Spanish Distict

Here's the Westbank Spanish District just after finishing their District Meeting. We were picking up the Sisters to bring them to BR on an errand but managed to get a shot of some very fine missionaries.

We brought Sister Jewett and Sister Astle back with us and finally managed to get back to BR after a stop at Metairie Cemetery to see the Weeping Angel" and a late lunch at Texas Roadhouse. What a fun day we had:)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aloha Sister Stennett

Thursday is planning day in our mission. Did I know that before today? I guess not. But if I'd been paying attention I would have figured out why so many missionaries stop by on Thursdays and need planners. They only last for 6 weeks or 1 transfer.) That's one of the reasons Sister Stennett and Sister Wood came in, and I'm so glad they did.

I haven't had a chance to get to know Sister Wood (right), who came into the mission at our last Transfer Meeting. She's from West Jordan and is a few years older than the other sisters. She's lived on her own, worked full time and attended UVU for 4 semesters, She's the 5th of 6 children but the only girl and the first one in her family to serve a mission.

Sister Stennett isn't new to this blog. We've loved getting to know her, but now it's time for her to return to Hawaii and family. It'll be very sad to have her leave. But, hopefully, we'll get to see her in the future--either in Hawaii or in Provo--as she'll be attending BYU in January. She'll be a blessing, wherever she goes, with her sweet, angelic personality and her violin.

Just as the Sisters were leaving, 2 of the Spanish Elders came in for planners and Restoration pamphlets. I should back up here and mention that the Assistants came in and out very quickly this morning, but long enough that I could see they'd spent some serious time in the sun. I knew they'd been at a service project yesterday but had no idea they'd been there for 6 1/2 hours. Elder Mecham thought it would only be 2 or 3. There were 12 missionaries there helping to set up booths for a huge Catholic fair of some kind. So when Elder McMurray and Elder Crook came in looking painfully red I knew where they'd been yesterday. Elder C didn't even have his shirt top button buttoned and the tie was a bit loose. They're planning on passing out La Restauracion del Evangelio de Jesucristo pamphlets at the fair. Way to go Elders!

Then the Baton Rouge Zone Leaders called. "Can we stop by the office to pick up some planners?" No problem. So the last pair of the day was Elder Benson, left, and Elder Wittig. I don't know much about them yet, except that Elder Benson's mother's family came to the United States from Turkey. He's Turkish, Armenian and a few other European roots. His grandma was the first to come here and she loves to make Mexican food. They're from Arizona!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Super Surprise!

Until today these 4 cute sisters lived in the same apartment and were the North Sisters and BR Spanish Sisters. Now Sister Black, left, and Sister Bailey, 3rd from left, the Spanish Sisters, will be by themselves. Since Sister Hill is going home today, Sister Lindstrom, right, will replace her and serve with Sister Baba in Plaquemine. It'll be so fun to have her there but don't know how long it will last. Sister Hockemier will join the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Wily and Sister Hoskins, in Gonzales, which is still in the Baton Rouge Zone.

But transfers are next week and everything will most likely be completely changed.

This afternoon I had the best surprise when Blaine, aka Elder Mapa walked into the office with Elder Navitikula and Elder Abbott. It was so good to see him, even though he's only been gone for 5 weeks. He's just down here visiting some of his investigators and friends for about a week. He says it's been a bit of a transition becoming a non-elder. As soon as he got off the plane in San Francisco he was so homesick for LA. He's kind of dating a friend who arrived home from her mission in Japan on the same day as he did. Good luck, Blaine!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Good-bye to Sister Hill

Love our Spanish Elders! They pop in every once in awhile. Apparently they came by 3 or 4 times last week to pull their little prank, but I wasn't there. So today Elder Crook, right, tried to hand me a receipt and ask if Elder Lauper could reimburse them for their pool pass. Hmm. Swimming pool? Pool table in a pool hall? I couldn't think of any pool that they could "legally" use so I told them NO with a smile. They were so disappointed because I rarely turn them down for much. Nice try guys. The receipt they were using was and old one for gas or something.

Kind of a sad day today. We found out that sweet Sister Hill, from our Plaquemine branch, will be honorably released tomorrow for medical reasons. She's been struggling for at least 2 months trying to find foods that she can eat without causing stomach pain. She's had a whole battery of tests but, as is so often the case, they can tell her what it isn't but not what it is. So, at about 4, I quickly put together a go-home packet for her to take for herself, her parents, Bishop & Stake President. Then we dropped it off at the Hansen's for the President can sign when they return home from New Orleans this evening.

President Hansen sent an email out to the mission sharing some missionary experiences from a few of our Elders and Sisters. These kinds of things are happening all around our mission and every other mission throughout the world. I know LABRM is doing their part to take the gospel to "every nation, kindred, tongue and people."

-----the spirit was touching this lady’s heart. She sat there and just cried. It was like a burden that had been there for years was being lifted from her. She stopped us in the middle of the lesson and said "will you please explain to me what is this feeling I have right now. I have never felt peace like this in my life. WHAT IS THIS FEELING? I want it to stay forever." So we testified to her again that is the spirit and we bore our testimonies that she is feeling God's love for her. It was amazing and it was hard for me to keep the tears in. I almost started crying myself because the spirit was so strong in this women's tiny little house. She also recognized the spirit and how strong it was and told us so. We invited her granddaughter who lives with her to participate in the primary program at the end of this month and the granddaughter was so excited. We got her part from the primary president at church yesterday and are going to give it to them tonight. 

Excerpt from a letter about an investigator on an oil rig:
He was only reading because his computer had broken and stopped working. Other wise he would be watching movies on his computer instead of reading. And he said that everything just got cleared up for him! He sent his wife a message saying to her, "If I could, I would get baptized RIGHT NOW!!!! "

-----The N family (Asian family) are doing really well! It has been the hardest teaching them for sure because of the language barrier. In one of the lessons with their family last week we taught them the plan of salvation and everything just clicked for them. WDS commented and said he never understands when he goes to English class, but when we teach him he said it all makes sense. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Trio in Plaquemine

We have a new elder in Plaquemine for a short time, because his companion recently received a medical release. Elder Baker, in the middle, has only been in our mission since May, and he's already been in 4 different areas. That's more than some missionaries see their whole mission. I was hoping he'd be one of the speakers today, wanting to hear his conversion story. Sister Hansen was telling us that he's only been a member for 2 years but has a powerful story to tell. Looks like that experience will have to wait.

One of the speakers in Sacrament Meeting today started off talking about bees but then moved from buzzing bees to President Hinckley's "B's." It was such a good reminder of the B's he introduced 13 years ago. Really! Thirteen years? How's that even possible.

I'm not going to even attempt to recreate his talk, because you can read it on in the January 2001 Ensign's First Presidency Message. He actually presented it on November 12, 2000 to youth and young adults in the Conference Center as a satellite broadcast. What an outstanding message. So here are his B's.

Be Grateful
Be Smart
Be Clean
Be True
Be Humble
Be Prayerful

Then, in 2004 in a CES manual, he added a 7th B--Be Happy! And our speaker added an 8th which was Be Repentant. There's today's mini-sermon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Louisiana State Flag

This is the current Louisiana state flag as described by the Secretary of State's office.
After 2 seriously slow weeks and trying to do as much as possible to get ahead, I gave up manufacturing things to write about. No one was in the office last week as the Assistants and Office Elders were all attending all of the Specialized Training Meetings in the mission. This week started off slow and never picked up, so today I've decided to do a little history lesson about the Louisiana state flag.

On July 1, 1912, after 100 years as a state, Louisiana's legislature adopted an official state flag. The pelican became the central image on the flag because it was the central image on the state seal. In Louisiana's second year as a state, in 1813, the legislature passed an act stating that Louisiana was to have an official state seal and that the governor was authorized to determine what that seal would be.

Gov. Wm C. C. Claiborne was familiar with the mythology of the mother pelican tearing flesh from her breast to feed her young. The image, representing self sacrifice, was common in Catholic and Masonic art. Louisiana's citizens were mostly Catholic and Claiborne was a Mason. That, plus the fact that the pelican was common to LA coasts possibly contributed to his choice of the iconic symbol of sacrifice as the central image in the state seal.  (Sadly, pelican mothers will not tear at their own flesh to feed their young, but the legend may have stemmed from a misunderstanding of normal feeding behavior in which the parent holds its bill down against its breast to enable the nestlings to reach in to feed from the parent's pouch.)

While LA was still a territory and Claiborne was the territorial governor, the official seal was Claiborne's personal seal which featured an eagle. Sometime before the legislature called for an official state seal, Claiborne had begun using a seal featuring the pelican.

The first seal had 10 chicks in the nest. The seal also included scales of justice, 18 stars and the phrase "Justice, Union & Confidence." Over the years, the arrangement of pelicans, stars, scales and motto changed. Soon after the adoption of the seal, flags started to appear with the state seal on them. Both the flags and the seals varied over the years.

In 1902, Gov. Wm. Henry Wright Heard formalized the state seal with this description: "A pelican, with its head turned to the left, in a nest with three young; the pelican, following the tradition, in act of tearing its breast to feed its young; around the edge of the seal to be inscribed, "State of Louisiana.' Over the head of the pelican to be inscribed 'Union, Justice," & under the nest of the pelican to be inscribed 'Confidence.'"

At this time, a flag with a blue field and the seal as described came into common use, but there was no legislative authority for this flag. That was remedied in 1912 with these words: "That the official flag of Louisiana shall be that flag now in general use, consisting of a solid blue field with the Coat of Arms of the State, the pelican feeding its young, in white in the center, with a ribbon beneath, also in white, containing in blue the motto of the State, 'Union, Justice and Confidence,' the whole showing as below."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Assistants

What could be more fun on a Saturday afternoon than an unplanned visit with 2 Elders? Not much! We haven't seen Elder Morrell or Elder Mecham since we met last Monday, because they've had specialized training with all the zones this week, which means lots of travel and long days for them.
Our new area doctor was in town and met with each of the zones/combination zone meetings. The Assistants and the Office Elders all had training to present, so they weren't in the office all week--at least not while we were there. It was a pretty quiet week!

So Elders M & M asked if they could come and visit. Well, twist my arm! We weren't sure when they were coming, but when they arrived I'd just taken a fresh tray of Shara's Chocolate Chip Cookies out of the oven. Great timing. After a brief visit we fixed lunch for them. Good thing I had some fresh bread. Anyway it was good to just sit and talk for awhile. Love these guys!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sister Wily and Sister Hoskins

Sister Hoskins is on her way back to Gonzales with Sister Wily after a companion exchange, but they stopped in the office to get some commissary. For some reason their order didn't get to me last week, so I'm glad we had what they needed.

Evidently, President Wall is on face book and posted some "Punology" last week. Here are a few of the, but certainly not all.

~I tried to catch some Fog. I mist.
~When Chemists die, they barium.
~A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
~I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop anytime.
~How did Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
~I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
~This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
~I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.
~I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
~Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.
~I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
~What to you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A Thesaurus.
~What does a clock do when it's hungry? I goes back four seconds.
~I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
~Broken pencils are pointless.

It must be really slow in here today!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sisters and Sisters

Sister Bailey and Sister Black popped into the office today and spent a few minutes visiting before heading off to a lunch appointment. I think I've mentioned before that Sister Bailey is a talented musician, interested in going into medicine, already has a CNA, and is a sweetheart. Sister Black is equally adorable, the 2nd of 10 children and wants to be a high school biology teacher. She's from Provo, attended BYU before her mission and is also an accomplished pianist.

A few hours later Sister Lindstrom and Sister Hoskins stopped by on their way home for lunch. Sister Hoskins is serving in Gonzales with Sister Wily, but she's on exchanges, so it was fun to have her in the office. Sister H has a beautiful voice. She and Sister Hockemier sang an arrangement of "I am a Child of God" that I hadn't heard before at the last transfer meeting. She used to serve in the Vidalia/Natchez district with Sister Stennett, the violinist. For awhile they performed weekly with the Natchez Elders at the old Grand Hotel in Natchez. They'd sing/play and entertain in the very Grand Lobby of the Grand Hotel. President Wall said they were an outstanding foursome. Sister H completed 2 years at BYU before her mission, and I think she's a vocal performance major.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Answered Prayer

Today was one of those really great days when a dilemna was resolved and prayers were answered. Now I'm trying to decide if I should go from the beginning to the end or the end to the beginning. I guess the former. This will all come together eventually.

Three weeks ago 23 new missionaries and 22 bikes arrived in the mission. Elder R's bike, which had been ordered several weeks before his arrival, never came. After numerous phone calls and emails between Elder R, Elder's mom, Elder's dad, bike shop and me, the bike was "resent" and arrived at the office, in need of being assembled, yesterday. I won't go into the details of the missing bike except to say that the bike shop finally found the invoice and said it was shipped, but they didn't know where it was shipped to. Really? An expensive bike and no tracking number? Hmm. Mom thinks it just wasn't sent. So, a replacement was sent and is now here in the office.

Elder L's cousin contacted him about 2 weeks ago and said that he and his brother were planning on flying out to visit for a few hours on Saturday, Sept. 13. They both worked for, and retired from, United Airlines and can fly free but always have to go stand-by.

Sister Astle, our sweet St. George sister now serving in the West Bank (New Orleans), has a birthday on Friday. Elder L & I talked about going to NOLA to take her and her companion, Sister Jewett, out for dinner. Just a quick trip on Friday and back Saturday morning--in time to visit with the cousins.

Email from cousins yesterday saying that they're coming in Friday and leaving Sunday if there's a flight, so could we get together for dinner Friday night or breakfast on Saturday, just in case they can't get a Sunday flight and have to leave early Saturday afternoon. Sure.

Scratch Friday dinner and anytime Saturday. How about Monday to NOLA. Not a good idea, because Elder R's bike really needs to get to him and we're the obvious ones to take it since we're going there already. And, he just happens to be in the same district with Sisters A and J. In fact, the elders live just a few blocks away. Easy drop off. So why can't he wait another week for his bike? Because they're in a biking area with no access to a car, and the bike he was borrowing just broke.

This morning Elder L & I were still trying to figure out how and when to go to NOLA. We can't go tomorrow, because he and Elder F are going to DeRidder to look at apartments. DeRidder is about 3+ hours away from Baton Rouge and the opposite direction from New O. They'll be lucky to get back to BR by 4 or 5. Leaving at that time to drive to NO would be insane. Maybe we could run down there tonight.

Then, at about 10:30 am, the office door opens and who should walk in? Sister Jewett and Sister Astle. NO WAY! What on earth are they doing here? Sister J had to drive all the way into Baton Rouge to pick up a prescription. Hooray! It was so good to see both of them and find out that they had to wait to pick up the Rx, and yes, they had time to go to lunch. So off we went to Longhorn Steakhouse with Elder Trainor, Elder Steele, Elder Fontenot, Sister Astle and Sister Jewett. So how's that for a very happy solution to all of our concerns.

They're now on their way back to the West Bank with Elder R's bike happily attached to the bike rack on the back of their car. Happy, happy day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cajun Jokes

OK, so people here (mainly in Lafayette) love to tell Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes. It's these two REALLY Cajun guys that are very funny! 

--- Boudreaux was going to Catahoula to visit Thibodeaux.  He was on I-10 driving his pickup truck below the speed limit. A Louisiana State trooper pulled him over. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?"  Boudreaux replied, "Bout whut?"

---The Sheriff pulled up next to Boudreaux unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch.
The Sheriff asked, "Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch?  Don't you see that sign right over your head."  "Yep," he replied. "That's why I'm dumpin' it here, 'cause it says: 'Fine For Dumping Garbage.' "

--- Boudreaux was overheard saying "When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana ."  When asked why, he replied, "I'd rather be in Louisiana 'cause every thang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world."

---- Thibodeaux’s wife heard that milk baths would make her beautiful. So she left a note for her milkman to leave 25 gallons of milk.  When the milkman read the note, he felt there must be a mistake.  He thought she probably meant 2.5 gallons. So he knocked on the door to clarify the point. Clarisse came to the door and the milkman said, "I found your note asking me to leave 25 gallons of milk.  Did you mean 2.5 gallons?"
Clarisse said, "No, I want 25 gallons. I'm going to fill my bathtub up with milk and take a milk bath so I can look young and beautiful again."  The milkman asked, "Do you want it pasteurized?" Clarisse said, "No, just up to my chest.  I can splash it on my eyes."

Sister Lyons, my joke supplier, sent these to me today. Elder Fontenot says there are tons of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux jokes. Maybe they're more popular in the south than blonde jokes and attorney jokes!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Vicksburg MS

Vicksburg is a town full of history--and not just of the Civil War. It also includes a delightful downtown area with old churches, unique architecture, antebellum mansions, the Coca-Cola Museum (where Coke was first bottled in 1894) and Mississippi Blues Trail markers. Not far from the downtown area is the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. We'll have to to back to see some of the things we missed this trip.

The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley RR station is now a transportation museum. It was built in 1907 and is a designated site on the Mississippi Blues Trail. These sites relate to the birth, growth and influence of the Blues throughout the state of Mississippi. This particular marker commemorates the original lyrics of blues artist Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues" which traced the route of the Yazoo and MS Valley RR.

On to Vicksburg National Military Park.  The statue is Pres. Abraham Lincoln, General Grant and Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War. The statement by Pres. Lincoln says "Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until the key is in our pocket." President Lincoln wanted to gain control of the Mississippi and divide the South. This campaign became the turning point of the Civil War. There are no statues that I saw of Pres. Jefferson Davis' statement: "Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South's two halves together...Vicksburg is the key." Two statements. Two Presidents. One outcome.

After a 20 minute film on the Civil War in Vicksburg we purchased a CD and took a 16 mile driving tour of the battleground. These pictures don't even scratch the surface of everything we were able to see.

Shirley House, or "the white house" as it was called by Union troops, is the only surviving wartime structure in the park. It's been restored to its 1863 appearance.

Two pictures are of the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Of the nearly 17,00 Union soldiers buried here, about 13,000 are unknown. It's also the final resting place for veterans of the Spanish-American War, World Ward I and II, and the Korean Conflict. It has been closed to burials since 1961. Many Confederates who died during the siege are buried in Vicksburg's Cedar Hill Cemetery in another location in the park.

When I stand in places such as this I can't help but think of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, delivered 4 1/2 months later at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA, but could just as easily have given it here. I will always be grateful to my 8th grade English teacher for requiring that we memorize this speech. But just in case my memory fails me, I include it as a tribute to all of those who have fallen in defense of freedom--who gave "the last full measure of devotion."

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, for above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

All of the states who participated in the Civil War have built monuments to honor soldiers who gave their lives on the Vicksburg battleground. I've only shown a few of the monuments. It's interesting to note that it took the confederate states much longer to contribute, because the recovery process for them was so much more time consuming than for the Union states.

The Kentucky monument is located on Kentucky Avenue, which runs between the Union and Confederate line on the south loop of the park. It features bronze statues of United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis who were both natives of KY. The memorial symbolizes the division within KY during the Civil War as well as the reunification of the state and country afterward.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Natchez by Day

Natchez adorns the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. It has more atebellum homes than any othe city in the United States--ove 150. In the 1800's this was the richest place in America, and cotton was king. You could grow it, pick it and ship it from the port in Natchez. Many of the "houses" in town were just that--"town houses." The large plantaton fields were outside of town, but to show off their wealth, the cotton barons built town houses.

Here are a few of the places we saw on Friday's carriage ride. The first home is the Glen Auburn House. This is a post-Civil War mansion built around 1875 and is considered "Mississippi's greatest Second Empire structure," named for architecture from the Second French Empire. The little step is in front of many of the antebellum homes and mansions. It was there for the ladies to step down from their carriages without showing their ankles. That was so inappropriate for the time. Many of the homes even have 2 staircases, like Nottoway, so gentlemen could enter from a separate side of the home to avoid seeing any female ankles.

This window was supposedly designed by Louis Tiffany, but after searching on the internet for a good hour, I was unable to find any information on it or that he did any windows in Natchez. So, maybe it was made by him and maybe not. And I've just wasted an hour. Personally, I don't this it even looks like his lamps, etc. but then I haven't studied his stained-glass work so perhaps I'm wrong. Perish the thought!

After Hurricane Katrina the MS Department of Transportation began bulldozing the dead tree damaged by the storm, much to the chagrin of residents. So the Biloxi Mayor intervened and contracted to have some the the live oak trunks turned into sculptures. A wood sculptor from Florida volunteed to create some for free as a service to the community. I don't know if this sculpture is one of his. Probably not, but I love the idea, as did whoever carved this little bird. Apparently many of these can be seen in New Orleans, so I'm going to have to look next time we go to NOLA.

Stanton Hall was built in 1857 by an Irish immigrant and cotton merchant, Frederick Stanton. It was the home of his dreams, built in Greek Revival style, in the heart of Natchez. It takes up an entire city block and cost over $83,00 before being furnished. Holy Cow! It was completed a few months before he died in 1859 and was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War.

Today it's a National Historic Landmark and furnished much as was originally intended. It also has the Carriage House Restaurant, nationally known for it's Southern cuisine and especially the fried chicken and baby biscuits. I was so looking forward to enjoying a meal after returning from Vicksburg. What a disappointment to get home and find that it's only open for lunch. Guess we'll have to go back to Natchez!

The other 2 homes are just some we saw while driving around the town. I love them even though they could use serious facelifts. But they're still unique and quaint.

We found something completey unexpected at the Historic Natchez City Cemetary. A study in wrought iron! Because the city is set about 300 feet above the Mississippi River there's not much chance of flooding, so the graves are underground. Many families, instead of having a huge vault to entomb everyone, must have purchased several plots in one area then encircle it with an iron fence and gate. Beautiful! Here a just a few of them.

Most of the ironwork is a good representation of what was being produced in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I think we'll visit the Vicksburg experience tomorrow.

Zion's Valiant Youth

After we receive notification of a new Elder or Sister coming into our mission, we send out a packet of information and requests. Two of the questions that new missionaries are asked to respond to are: 1) Why do I want to serve a mission?" and 1) What do I expect to accomplish while I am in the mission field?" We may be getting mostly teenagers coming out, but they're wise and spiritual beyond their years.

Today I opened one letter from a future LABR missionary, and I'm going to share some of the things that were written just to show the caliber of youth today, as so many of the letters express similar sentiments.

"Why do I want to serve a mission? ...The biggest passion I have is this gospel!! I know with all of my being that it is true and right. Most importantly, right for EVERYONE! I want to serve. I want to be a missionary so I can teach the people of Louisiana about their Savior and Father in Heaven...The things I expect to accomplish are a mystery. I don't know what will happen. I don't know exactly what I will go through. All I know is the Lord will shape me and mold me and guide me to my full potential. I know this will happen as I continue to trust in Him. I know this mission will change and benefit my life forever."

This is typical of all the missionaries that have been coming in or will be here soon. How fortunate we are to be so blessed here in Louisiana!

It's been a while since we've taken an overnight road trip, so we decided to head north to Natchez and Mississippi. Things don't change much when you cross the state line. It's still green and beautiful, but the roads become smoother to ride on. There's an obvious budget difference for transportation between the 2 states! We spent 2 nights in Natchez, but travelled to and back from Vicksburg on Saturday.

After a bite to eat on Friday evening we went on a horse-drawn carriage ride. What a delight. Gus, our tour guide, was fun and knowledgeable and has been doing this since high school--a 20 year veteran. You could tell he'd studied and done a lot of reading so he could share details about the town, homes and people. He's with his horse, Hal, the smiling horse. After our ride, which, by the way, was on a most perfect evening, I was able to feed Hal a cookie. Gus has trained him to actually smile before you feed him, which is what I did. I had Marc take pictures, which he did. He took 3 of them and none showed Hal smiling. Marc is now fired for any future photography engagements!

The First Presbyterian Church of Natchez was organized in 1817, but this but this building wasn't built until about 1929. Unfortunately you can't see the clock on the cupola on top, but it has Roman Numerals on the face. This particular clock has a IIII instead of IV. No one seems to really know why, but it's a beautiful church and is said to be one of the "finest examples of Federal Style architecture in the state of Mississippi."

The rest of the pictures I took didn't turn out because it was too dark, so we went back on Saturday morning and took some so we'd have something to show from our carriage ride.

One fun stop was at the city hall to learn about, Tripod, the City Kitty. Tripod was a 3 legged orphan cat that kind of moseyed her way into the building and hearts of everyone at city hall. Someone fed her once and she became a part of the team. She wandered the halls and slept on desks at night. She remained there for 4 years, and when she died they took up a collection to bury her and make a little headstone. They collected so much money ($80) that they named her the "city kitty" because her fund had more than the city of Natchez. The city, at the time, was bankrupt!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Two Things That Make My Day

One thing that makes a good day great is having quality time with missionaries. Today was one of those days. Talk about great Elders! Here are two more of our wonderful missionaries who were able to come to dinner tonight. Elder Jones, left, is from Gilbert AZ. He's the oldest of 4 children and has been serving for 21 months. Actually, both he and Elder Glauser, right, went into the MTC in December and spent Christmas and New Years there. The difference is that Elder J went to the Provo MTC in Dec. 2012 and Elder G went to the Mexico City MTC in 2013. So Elder J goes home in 3 months, and Elder G doesn't.

Elder J is pretty quiet, and I missed most of Marc's conversation with him while I was fixing dessert. He does love cars and motorcycles and anything with an engine. He'll go to community college in AZ starting in January, then on to college.

Elder G is the youngest of 6 sons. He's from Redlands CA so we had a few things in common. Four of his brothers are married and have children. In fact, one brother recently moved to Mandeville, with his wife and 4 children, which is in our mission. Pres Wall said Elder G would be able to see his brother while still on his mission, but he doesn't know what Pres Hansen will say yet. Elder G's father was the Stake President in Redlands from the time Elder G was a baby until he was about 8. When he was 10 his mother passed away which Elder G says really strengthened his family and has helped shape in him a very solid testimony of the Atonement and life after death.

Elder G doesn't spend much time thinking about life after mission but does want to go to college and become a sports broadcaster. And, he's a USC and New Orleans Saints fan. He became a Saints fan when Reggie Bush started playing for them.

These are 2 dedicated, hard-working and non-complaining elders. What a pleasure to be able to spend a little time with them.

The other thing that makes my day is receiving a beautiful thank you note from one of the missionaries. Today we received this from Sister Lindstrom. The sentiment was so tender and heartfelt, and after reading it, I felt so appreciated. All of the elders and sisters are always thanking us and asking if there's anything they can do for us. Thank you notes are frosting on the cake.

So tonight I go to bed with a very happy heart:)