Monthly Archives: July 2020

Molly’s Missionary Message #9

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(Mom’s notes in red)

Hello everyone!

This week has been crazy! Some highs and a few lows, but a whole lot of miracles throughout! Right now Sister Tolley and I are spending a lot of time finding.
(When Molly uses the term “finding” she is referring to the process of seeking out and reaching out to others who might want to learn more about gospel of Jesus Christ)
As missionaries, we are still in quarantine and some days it can be hard, but over all there is so much great joy that can be found by reaching out to others with great love, personally growing closer to God, and being stretched every day to become a bit better than the day before. It is very humbling!
(Much of Molly’s week is spent in her apartment. Covid-19 limits the amount of public interaction the missionaries are allowed to have with others. The exceptions to that rule include weekly grocery shopping, daily exercise, service projects that can be done outside while social distancing, volunteering once a week at the Bishop’s Storehouse (a food pantry), and a once a week social activity with the other missionaries in her district.)
Here are some photos from those activities…
One day last week Molly and her companion, Sister Tolley, had the opportunity to serve their landlord by doing some yard work.
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Another day they were able to serve a woman from church by working in her garden. As a token of her gratitude for their service, she sent them home with lots of fresh veggies for their fridge!
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While walking home from that service project they passed a farm with goats.
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Anyone who knows Molly knows that goats are her all-time favorite animal. The owner was outside, and seeing Molly’s excitement, he invited her to step into the pen and feed them.
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Molly was beside herself. It made her day!!
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Every Wednesday Molly gets together with the other missionaries serving in her district. Together they share a meal and enjoy a fun activity together. Often those activities involve getting outside and enjoying the beauty of Utah! 
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One of the highlights of Molly’s week is always volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse. There she works with other volunteers sorting food, bagging vegetables, and filling grocery orders for those in need. This week she was on potato duty!
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Today was my p-day, I got my first perm, which was a fun adventure!
(P-day stands for preparation day. It is the day set aside for those serving full-time missions to care for their own personal needs. It is, in essence, their “day off.” This is the day Molly and her companion will do their grocery shopping, get a haircut, catch up on laundry, go hiking or do something fun in the area.)
I have always loved how my hair would look when I would I curl it, so I took the plunge and decided to perm it!
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My sweet companion waited and passed the time sending emails as I got my hair done.
Three hours later and ta-da!
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One of the best parts of my week would be Sister Tolley.
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She is such a sweetheart and everyday I learn something new from her.
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It is a great blessing to be able to motivate each other to work hard, have humor and joy in this work, experience adventures in cooking, and feel unified as companions.
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It has been really positive!
Shout out to her for being a awesome companion and friend on my mission!
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I don’t really have a whole lot to report for this week, but I am super excited for the days ahead.
It is always exciting to see what God has in store for us.
Love,
Sister McCleery

A Fiesta!

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On Friday we shuffled off to Mexico for our third international dinner of the summer. This week we decided on a Mexican theme for our family dinner night. This one was a fun one to pull off, as I had plenty of décor on hand to make the transformation fun.

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We did indulge in a few purchases to make the evening more authentic, including a taco piñata,

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And  Mexican candies (purchased from Amazon) to fill it with.

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On Friday, Grace helped me decorate the dinning room and stuff the piñata in preparation for our dinner on Saturday.

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Grace also made a stop at a local gas station that sells Mexican Coke, where she purchased a bottle for each of us.

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On Saturday evening the preparations for dinner were in full swing. Our menu was simple but delicious!

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We has sheet pan nachos and fresh fruit sprinkled with tajin.

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It was so yummy!

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Even the dogs got into the action, sporting their own sombreros…

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After dinner we moved to the living room where Toby had set up the piñata. The kids took turns taking swings at it. They were each blindfolded and spun until sufficiently dizzy,

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While Toby worked to keep the piñata just out of reach.

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A couple good hits by the boys, and a final punch by Tyler, led to a shower of Mexican treats.

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The treats were divvied up and we all enjoyed taste testing these unique candies that all seemed to be accompanied by a bit of a kick!

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Our final treat of the evening was mock- fried ice cream. This tasty dessert was made by rolling scoops of vanilla ice cream in crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal, frozen, and then topped with caramel and chocolate syrup.

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We enjoyed our mock-Mexican desserts while watching Nacho Libre!

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It was a fun night of “international travel,” south of the border.

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Ole’!

Happy “Gotcha Day” Tyler!

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Yesterday marked the seven year anniversary since Tyler officially and legally became a McCleery! I remember with great fondness that special day when we went from being the parents of three to the parents of four.

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He was a wee little thing…only six-years-old at the time.

It was a joyous day, one that marked the conclusion of a year marked with great highs and lows, but also marked the start of our journey to being a family of eight. In the years following Tyler’s adoption day, God led us to adopt twice more. He brought Ozzie into our family in 2014 and Braden (Tyler’s biological brother) in 2019.

These are my remembrances of that special day, as personally penned seven years ago, on the evening of Tyler’s adoption day:

There are certain moments in my mothering journey that are ingrained in my memory forever. Moments when time stands still, when I am completely present and aware of the magnitude of the blessings, moments that will stay with me forever and will be replayed and enjoyed as I reflect on them years from now.. Yesterday was one of those days.

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As I sit here in the darkness of the night I have the joy of reflecting on the day. With the births of each of my children, my favorite part of the day was the night after giving birth. After the sun went down, and everyone went home, and I was left alone in the hospital room with my new child. My heart would overflow with gratitude and relief that it was done and all was well. All the worries about what could go wrong were set aside as the enormity of the miracle was laid before me. Tonight I find myself feeling those same emotions. Labor is over, the worries about everything that could have gone wrong were unfounded, and I am humbled by the miracle God has laid before me. Tyler is mine. It is done. I feel the weight of worry lifted from my shoulders and my heart overfloweth.

Today couldn’t have gone any better. I saw God’s hand in this beautiful day from beginning to end. Our scheduled court time was 1:30 but we were told to arrive at 1:00. Mimi Joy followed us down to Pittsburgh where we met my parents, my grandma, and my sister and her kids for the ceremony. It was so special to have the people most important to us join us on our special day and it was with great love that they traveled from New York, Michigan and Ohio to join us.

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When we arrived, we went through security and then took the elevator up to the 9th floor. Tyler was quieter than usual and I could tell he was nervous. As we walked into the auditorium where we would wait with all the other families adopting that day, we were greeted with a sign that read, “Happy Adoption Day!” ..my tears began. The reality that we made it, that we were in the home stretch, hit me.

When I walked into the waiting room I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer joy that filled the room. The room was full of families and children that were there to finalize their adoptions. The atmosphere was one of celebration.

It was soon time for us to head to the courtroom. The entire family came in. Toby and I sat in front of the judge with Tyler on Toby’s lap, while everyone else sat behind us. The judge introduced himself and welcomed us. He was wonderful. He joked with the kids and put us all at ease. He also told us that he personally knew the joy of adoption day because he had adopted his child. The hearing itself consisted of a series of questions that we had to answer and then a series of questions that the social worker had to answer. Within minutes we heard the judge declare, “From this day forth Tyler will now be known as Tyler Jacob McCleery.” Even now I find the tears falling as I think back on the emotions I felt at that moment. He was ours…finally ours.

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As I sit here and reflect on this adoption journey I am amazed at the difference a year makes. Last year at this time we didn’t even know Tyler existed and here we are today with a son. It feels like he has always been ours. We have witnessed first hand  God’s goodness as He laid the foundation for this day over the course of many years. He put upon our hearts the desire to adopt 10 years ago and from that moment on He provided opportunities to grow and prepare for this moment so that when the time was right, and we were ready, our son would be placed in our arms. It was a long “pregnancy” and a long “labor,” but the blessing of watching God’s miracles along the way made it a journey of joy. When I started this blog.. soon after Tyler was placed in our home.. it was so you could walk beside us as we navigated this unknown terrain called adoption. We are grateful for all the prayers you have prayed on our behalf, for the words of encouragement that always came when they were most needed, and the support we received from so many. It is with great joy that were share this day with you. God is Good!

In our family, we celebrate the anniversary of each adopted child’s “birth” into our family much as we would an actual birthday. We call it their “Gotcha Day,” and for the anniversary of their adoption they get to chose a fun, family activity for us to do to commemorate their special day. Tyler had a very specific idea in mind for his “Gotcha Day.” He wanted to go canoeing/kayaking. Since we don’t own canoes or kayaks, I needed to find a facility that rented them. Normally this would have been an easy task, as we are surrounded by rivers and lakes in Western Pennsylvania, but I soon discovered that many of the places that rents boats, were shut down due to Covid-19.

After a little research and a few calls and texts to friends, I discovered that Racoon Creek State Park had a rental facility that was still open and serving the public. On Friday we drove down to Racoon State Park for a day of boating. It was a smaller “Gotcha Day” gathering than usual due to so many family members being out of the house, but that didn’t damper the experience for Tyler. He was excited to get on the water and was thrilled to have Rusty join him!

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Happy “Gotcha Day,” Tyler! We are so glad you are our son!!

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #8

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Hello!! 

This week has been FULL of new changes and adventures! 

Last Tuesday was transfer day. It is crazy that I am going into my second transfer already! This transfer was full of changes. One of the biggest changes was that I got a new, reassigned companion who served in Chile for 9 months! Sister Tolley is the sweetest thing and has been a huge blessing to me! (I will be helping her adjust to this area and she will continue training me, because I have still so much to learn!) In the end we are learning together and I feel that, because of it, we are all the more unified as companions and friends. We also moved into a new apartment and have a new p-day, which has switched from Monday to Wednesday. Although all of these changes have taken a day or two to get used to, they have also brought new experiences and opportunities!

Sister Tolley and I spend a decent amount of time in quarantine because of Covid-19, but we are trying to find the blessings and God’s hand in each day. Our day to day events consist of: 

Cooking meals,

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 Trying to get into the habit of running in the morning,

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 Buying ice cream and eating it from the container,

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 Going on hikes,

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Studying, seeking, praying, teaching,

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 And all in all, just trying to keep ourselves busy!

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We are seeking to work very hard everyday to be a blessing to others and use our time in a way that is pleasing in the sight of God.

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I love the quote by President Russell M. Nelson (our prophet) “The Lord loves effort!” This quote has been a good reminder because being a missionary during this crazy time has resulted in moments of feeling drained and discouraged, but as I weigh these moments against all of the blessings we have received in return, it is well worth it! 

I am so thankful for the challenges and trials that we experience daily because it brings into contrast the light and love of God, making it shine all the brighter! God never gives us more than we can handle. 

God is good- Always good!

Sending hugs and much love,

Sister McCleery

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A Poem written by Sister Molly McCleery:

“The trials I’m given, are they meant to crush me?

My perspective is so very limited to what I understand and see.

But yet I stand firm to the truth that God is my loving Father.

Why do I let fear and doubts seep in to add to personal bother?

Trials may seem heavy to bear, yet they’ll never be more than you can handle,

They are opportunities to grow your faith, adding like the guidance of a candle.

At times our burdens are just heavy enough to get us to our knees,

For this will open doors, because you now have the keys.

God anxiously waits for our acceptance to His hand that reaches out,

Once we do, then everything seems a bit better, resulting in a joyful shout!

If God wants us to have joy, why are there trials in the first place?

Now this can be addressed by breaking it down to the foundation base.

I believe this time on earth is an opportunity for growth and learning,

Where we experience opposition and practice the art of discerning.

I have turned more towards Christ in dark times, for I desire a source of light.

In Him I find comfort and strength, for He is my eyes of sight.

 I’m grateful that through Him I don’t need to feel alone, even for a day.

Because I know Jesus Christ can help us feel more than perhaps just “okay.”

Every time we fall down and feel that we are done,

Remember the love that is testified through God’s only begotten son!

He can and will lift you and clean you up,

Christ’s love and healing is like an overflowing cup.

This is one of the most amazing and humbling experiences to endeavor,

For that is He loves you, today, tomorrow and always, even to forever!”

Rusty Propellers

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This summer marks Rusty’s third semester of college, as he pursues a degree in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) piloting. His dream is to become a drone pilot, and it is a dream he has been working hard on achieving for the last 14 months.

He began his pursuit of this goal at the start of his senior year when he decided to duel enroll in our local community college while finishing up his senior year at 21st Century Cyber Charter School. He loves the program, his instructors, and fellow UAV students.

Currently, due to Covid-19, all his courses are online. This has been an effortless transition for Rusty, whose entire 12 years of schooling was accomplished through a cyber venue.

This summer Rusty is taking a photography/videography class as part of his degree requirements. He has really enjoyed it. In addition to learning the art of cinematography, he is also learning the business side of drone piloting…

Including creating a logo for his business and a choosing a name. Here is his design:

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Rusty has three large projects due this summer where he’s be asked to capture drone footage that could be used by a business for advertising purposes. Rusty took advantage of our weeklong camping trip to capture footage of Fox Den Acres Campground. Using that footage, he created a video highlighting the amenities of the campground.

I was so impressed with his finished project, I couldn’t resist sharing!

Rusty still has another year of schooling, and hasn’t yet decided on what career path he wants to pursue in the field of drone piloting. Just from Rusty’s particular program graduates have gone on to pursue careers with the forestry department where drones are used to monitor forest fires, the department of transportation where drones are used to do bridge inspections, and Hollywood where drones are used to capture aerial footage for major motion pictures. The possibilities are endless! It is exciting to consider where this degree might take Rusty.

In the meantime, Rusty is excited to once again be gainfully employed! In March, the ice cream shop where both Rusty and Braden worked shut down due to Covid-19. Last month they received news that it was closed for good and would not be reopening. That led to a search for employment. Last week Rusty began his new job with FedEx, as a package handler.

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His job is to pull packages off a continuously moving conveyor belt and fill FedEx trucks with those boxes. It is hard work (he moves 600-800 boxes a shift.) It is hot work (the temperatures in the warehouse match the temperatures outside.) It is non-stop work (with barely a moment to catch your breath between streams of packages coming down the line.) but according to Rusty, it is fun work. It is a job that plays to his strengths. It is a real life game of Tetris. All those years of Lego building, puzzle solving, and video gaming has paid off. On day one he was already receiving praise from the manager for his packing skills. He also loves the fact that this job pays $6.00/ MORE an hour than he made scooping ice cream. It is a win win!

So, there you go…

The latest news on our gentle giant.

Treasure Week 2020

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The third week of June always presents a unique challenge as we strive to celebrate Toby’s trifecta of holidays in the grand way he deserves. During that week he is celebrated for being a father, a husband, and a son, with Father’s Day, our anniversary and his birthday landing within days of each other on the calendar. We work hard to celebrate each of those special days fully and individually. This year I was looking for something extra special for his Father’s Day gift. It has been a bummer of a year, with a lot of unforeseen changes and a lot of challenging detours. Trips have been canceled, kids have launched, and some of those that are still at home have put us through the ringer. I knew this Father’s Day was going to be extra challenging for Toby without Molly and Grace at home to temper the tone in our home with their sunshine. It has been a hard, hard few months at home. I knew that Toby was not going to receive the show of love, gratitude and appreciation he deserves as a father, so I felt compelled to come up with something extra special. With Rusty’s help we pulled off an amazing Father’s Day surprise for a man that deserves the world!

One of Toby’s favorite hobbies is metal detecting. It is a hobby he took up as a kid with his father. Eight years ago he joined the Beaver County Metal Detecting Club and since then has enjoyed his monthly meetings and frequent hunts with friends that share a common passion. For Toby, this hobby combines his love for treasure hunting with coin collecting.

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As I was searching for local hunts that could serve as his Father’s Day gift from the kids and I, I stumbled across Treasure Week. This week-long hunt was being held an hour away at Fox Den Campground in New Stanton. As soon as I stumbled across the registration form online, I knew it would be a perfect gift for Toby. Each day offered 3- 4 seeded hunts with a different theme each day. In between hunts there were opportunities to socialize, activities for the kids, and family fun each evening.

We decided to secretly register Toby and then turn that week of camping into our summer vacation. I booked a campsite at the campground where the hunt was being held and on Father’s Day we surprised him with his gift.

Last Friday we packed up the car and headed to the hunt. Braden declined to join the family on our camping trip and left to spend another week at his Pap’s house, so it was just Tyler and Rusty with us for the week.

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We arrived and began setting up camp. We finished getting the tent set up and the car unloaded, just before the first thunderstorm of the weekend hit.

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The downpour outside altered our dinner plans. Our foil packet dinners were postponed for the following night as we enjoyed a meal of Sheetz-to-Go while playing board games in the relative comfort of the tent.

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The following day was the start of Treasure Week. Toby received a schedule for the week, with the themes of each day’s hunts laid out. The only day that had to be switched up was “Canada Day” on day one, as our coin hunters from the north continue to remain trapped behind a border that is closed.

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The hunts were offered each day at 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00, with some specialty hunts thrown in between.

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There were about 50 participants at Treasure Week, with ages ranging from teens to 80+. Most, however were retirees. Toby was a youngin’ in this crowd. Because of the median age of participants, most remained diligent in the use of masks and social distancing, making this a fun (and safe) week of vacationing.

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Luckily, metal detecting is a pastime that lends itself well to social distancing…

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As perfectly expressed by this t-shirt we bought Toby:

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After each hunt Toby would lay out his treasure finds and count up his “booty.” Silver dimes are one of the most common finds in seeded hunts, and one of the coins Toby enjoys collecting most, as each pre-1965 dime has a current worth of $1.50.

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Tuesday’s  theme was the Civil War. These hunts were run by the relic hunters from Virginia and Texas who focus their efforts on historic relics rather than coins. For the Civil War relic hunt, the ground was seeded with historic relics instead of silver. This resulted in an especially cool hunting experience for those like Toby who typically hunt coins. Toby walked away from that hunt with 19 Civil War bullets, one uniform button and a J hook.

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Treasure week also offered free hunts for amateurs, kids and teens. These hunts were geared toward beginners. Tyler didn’t want to participate, but Rusty chose to sign up for the amateur hunt.

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Each amateur hunter was allowed a “coach” on the field to help them. Toby was Rusty’s treasure hunting coach.

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He had great success. He found a handful of coins and some tokens, which won him a collection bag, a shovel, and a coin pricing book.

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In between hunts we kept busy with the fun the campground offered.

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Tyler spent most of his time at the lake that sat across the road from our tent. He spent hours and hours fishing for bluegills and bass.

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In the hot afternoons we would head over to the pool to cool off. The week offered high temperatures in the 90’s, making the campground pool a lifesaver!

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And, as is always the case when camping, a large portion of my day was spent preparing, serving and cleaning up meals cooked outside.

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In the evenings after dinner we would head over to the large pavilion that served as home base for Treasure Week. There we would enjoy the family activities scheduled for each evening. Some of the activities offered included bingo, a Civil War relic presentation, a Chinese auction and A  Night at the Races, with the proceeds of these events going to fund future hunts.

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Our nights would end with time spent around the fire as everyone enjoyed one last s’more or hobo pie before heading to bed.

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It was a good week away. It was healing to get away from the house and challenges of everyday life, and just escaping into nature for a bit. Toby had a wonderful week doing what he loves: digging in the dirt for dimes, and we enjoyed watching him have fun.

After a week of hunts Toby had quite the impressive haul of coins and prizes:

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This week away was a small token of the love and appreciation I feel for this giant among men. His countenance is humble and he asks for so little, but he is one who gives and gives some more. On a daily basis he sacrifices his own wants and own dreams to make life better for everyone he loves. He has taken on challenges others shy away from, for the sake of bettering the lives of those hurt by the cruelty and lack of care by men who don’t deserve the title of “father.” He forgives and forgives again the hurtful choices made by the hurt people in his life, knowing that the only way to break the cycle of abuse is to offer an example of unconditional love in the face of behaviors intended to test the love that is offered.

If anyone deserves to be celebrated as a father, it is Toby. In his quiet, unassuming, selfless way he is showing our sons what a real man looks like, and how a real father behaves.

It isn’t a lesson fully appreciated by all his kiddos at this point in their lives, but he continues to plug away, doing right, even when his efforts seem to be in vain.

As I watch Toby hunt a field for treasure, his method is strikingly similar to how he parents. It is calm, thoughtful, thorough, and patient.

While others hurry across the field, he calmly remains steady in his pace.

While others hunt those easily accessible coins just below the surface, he willingly invests time and effort seeking the treasure hidden deeper in the ground.

When the crowds start exiting the field, believing there is nothing left to find, Toby circle around once more looking for treasures missed by others.

He seeks to find the worth in what the world dismisses as trash, and patiently digs for the good stuff…the stuff that is buried deep.

He is a treasure finder, both in hobby and in life.

He has been blessed with the ability to find the intrinsic worth of a soul, even when it is buried deep beneath hurt, anger, trauma, and testing.

He doesn’t walk off the field when the hunt seems fruitless.

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He stays.

He hunts.

He hopes.

He digs….

Never, ever giving up.

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Molly’s Missionary Message #7

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This week was a bit of a rougher week.

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I found myself dealing with a lot of internal worries, but even with those struggles I saw good things come from the hard moments.

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I’ve noticed that I am being stretched by God right now, which never feels good in the moment, but is always appreciated later. I rejoice in trials because they honestly can be blessings in disguise. Sweet Sister Seal has been a huge support this week in lifting me up and helping me to stress less over the little things.
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Update: Transfers are a comin’! This week will bring a new district, a new companion and a new apartment. That’s a lot of “new” in a week!
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I am a bit overwhelmed by all the changes that this week will bring but am looking forward to the blessings that will accompany those changes.
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The biggest blessing in my life is God’s continuation of tender mercies.
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During district council this week I was assigned to share a miracle that happened from the week, and the first thing that came to mind is all the pink writing in my journal.
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I keep a daily journal. This is a habit I began almost 10 years ago. Since leaving on my mission I began the practice of recording the blessings of the day, and moments where I saw God’s hand in my life, in a different colored ink. I chose to start doing this so that the blessings of the day would stand out in contrast to the rest of my day.  Doing this lets me visually see how good God is and how present He is in my life.
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It has been so humbling to see how aware God is of me. Through those moments of good, He speaks to me, saying, “I love you. Keep going. You are doing great.”
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These moments come just when I need them most. It could be advice from my beautiful mother, a testimony-strengthening experience, or even a good talk given by another.
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I know God is with each of us individually and personally. He is aware of the lows and highs of our daily life. I know that God gives us tender mercies that may seem subtle, but each tender mercy shows how much love He has for us!
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I love you all so very much and am sending hugs your way!
God is good, always good!
Love,  Sister McCleery

Happy 4th of July!

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On the Friday following our culinary trip to Germany, we found ourselves planning our second “international” dinner. The date (July 3rd) lent itself to an American themed meal. We celebrated the anniversary of our nation’s independence with a bonfire and BBQ.

To get into the spirit of the dinner, I spent the morning watching my all time favorite musical, 1776.

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This was followed by a viewing of Hamilton on Disney+ with Gracie as we prepared dinner.

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Zach was working late that night, so we just had Grace over for our 4th of July celebration.

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It was an easy themed dinner, as I just had to cook those well-loved and familiar foods from an all-American cook-out. Dinner consisted of hamburgers on the grill, potato chips and dip, macaroni salad, ambrosia salad, fruit pizza and cold soda. After last week’s menu, Tyler was in heaven with this more familiar fare.

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It was a beautiful evening to gather outside!

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Earlier in the week Toby made a fireworks run to load us up for our own personal firework show at Patchwork Farm. Like any man shopping for explosives, he went a little crazy, coming home with two boxes full of dangerous fun.

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The kids were thrilled!

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They couldn’t wait for the sun to go down so the real fun could begin!

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Our own, home-grown, fireworks show did not disappoint. Toby had purchased a wide variety of fountains, roman candles, high-in-the-sky boomers, and bottle rockets to keep our show going for hours.

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Rusty was our primary pyrotechnic guy, as he had the highest OSHA rating and was the most likely of the boys to run away from the burning fuse after lighting it.

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Gracie served as the DJ for our fireworks show, making sure we had a steady playlist of Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith, and Home Free, serving as the soundtrack of our evening.

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It was a wonderful night celebrating the land that I love with the people I love even more!

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Molly’s Missionary Message #6

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“God is in the details of the details of the details.”

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Molly and her missionary companion, Sister Seal.

This week has been FULL of tender mercies and miracles from God…

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The sister missionaries enjoy spending free time on temple grounds.

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But before I jump into that, I am going to start with sharing some random moments of missionary life:

° On July 4th we met as a district to play sports and games at a park.

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When we were playing ultimate frisbee I got a splinter in my foot. As I was about to get it out with a knife I sort of cut myself because it was a knife that I am not used to. One of the elders kindly helped me out with Band-Aids for the blood, and another helped get the splinter out of my foot. Don’t follow my example, kids!

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This is what happens when you play ultimate frisbee barefoot. When I asked Molly why she playing without shoes, she explained that her shoes were slowing her down and she couldn’t let the boys win. Lesson learned!

° There are 45 new missionaries coming in the next week or so, which is crazy! These additions will bring many changes with missionary companionships, and there will be 4 new zones. (The mission locations are breaking into smaller areas because there are so many missionaries. Each companionship will have a smaller area to cover.)

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The joy of Jesus Christ just radiates from these four sisters!

° Today we went shopping at Costco. It just wasn’t the same without the joy of free samples, but it’s understandable with life right now. We were walking around shopping when I noticed a lady struggling to bag a package of cooked chicken. My parents raised me to help when needed (Thank you parents!), so I walked over to help her out, not thinking much of it. As we were leaving Costco, that same sweet lady ran up to us and expressed her desire to pay for our groceries. She gave us some cash and I had to resist the urge to hug her right then and there. She was so kind, and in my eyes this was a tender mercy of kindness that meant the world to me!

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God is a merciful and loving Father both in the big things but also the small things. For example, on Tuesday, the nine-year-old boy we have been teaching was baptized. So was his younger sister. Both were baptized by their father.

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Baptism day for their young investigators.

I was humbled to watch the connection and love within this  family. I really felt the Spirit! (Their baptism occurred on the day I was celebrating my one month anniversary of being out in the field. What a perfect way to spend it!)

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Another tender mercy came yesterday. I was having an off day and struggling a bit. God knew this. He blessed me with small sources of strength and comfort so I could continue to press on. This added strength came through a devotional on Sunday night called “Bears and Prayers.”

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It was all about prayer and communication with God. It was a powerful devotional and it helped me to feel God’s love for me personally and individually.

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I know God loves each of us and He truly is in the details of both the ups and the downs of our lives.

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A visit to the Asian market for some fun international treats.

“He is in the details of the details of the details.”

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Molly ended her day, on the 4th of July, by watching fireworks from the balcony of her apartment. A beautiful view of the valley!

I love you all!

Never forget, God is good. Always good!

Dinner in Deutschland

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As part of our “Friday Fun-day,” we have continued on with our quarantine tradition of themed dinners.

Every Friday Grace comes over to take advantage of our speedier internet to teach her online ASL classes. She began teacher American Sign Language classes to children online when we were on lockdown, and the daycare was closed, as a way to bring in some income. She receives $30.00/student for a six-week class and is currently teaching four classes a week, back to back on Fridays. She has loved it, and we have loved having her hang out at the house every Friday!

We have correlated our themed dinners with her Friday visits so that she can join us for our culinary adventures. Zach joins us when his work schedule allows it.

We decided for our themed dinners over the summer months we would focus on international cuisine and do some traveling through our palate.

We kicked off our Friday Fun-day dinners with a trip to Germany. Having lived in Kitzingen, Germany as a little girl, this was a themed dinner I was excited to execute!

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Kitzingen, Germany: My home across the sea from first through third grade.

In preparation for our German dinner, I made a run to Five Below to pick up Kinder Eggs (the lame USA-approved safe ones, not the cool, “risky” ones I enjoyed as a child) and a variety of Haribo gummies.

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These would serve as our dessert for this dinner.

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When Grace was done teaching her online classes she helped me decorate the dinning room. It is amazing what can be done with pretzels and hot glue.

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We crafted the dining room into a German eatery!

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Then it was time to begin dinner. Our menu for the evening consisted of soft pretzels and mustard, homemade German potato salad, grilled brats, and bottles of “beer”…root beer, that is!

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The highlight of the meal was the Konigsberger Klopse. It was delicious! I’ve included the recipe below if you’d like to try it yourself.

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We dined to sounds of German Pub music, eliciting the comment from Rusty, “It almost feels like we are at Epcot.”

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It was definitely a Friday Fun-day!

 

Konigsberger Klopse (German Meatballs in Creamy Caper Sauce)

Meatballs

2 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 14 cups fine plain breadcrumbs

12 cup milk

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 lemon (zest of)

1 lemon, juice of

3 tablespoons capers, chopped 

14 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

12 teaspoon ground black pepper

Flour for rolling

 

Broth

1 (32 ounce) box chicken stock or (32 ounce) box vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

14 cup cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons capers (I used A LOT more!)

 

Sauce

1 lemon, zest of

1 lemon, juice of

1 cup good quality sour cream (full fat to prevent curdling)

14 cup snipped fresh parsley, for garnish

  1. In a large saucepan heat broth ingredients (stock, bay leaf, cider vinegar, and  capers) to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients, mix well.

  3. Form meat mixture into golf-ball sized balls (note: mixture will be a bit sticky and delicate to work with, but this is normal, and the result will be a moist and tender meatball!). Roll them in flour, and carefully place into hot broth; simmer each batch for 15 minutes, but do not boil. (Tip: do not crowd meatballs. Only simmer about 10-12 meatballs at a time). Note that the broth will thicken as you add the flour covered meatballs, which will make a nice sauce.

  4. Carefully remove meatballs from the hot broth with a slotted spoon, and keep them warm in a covered bowl stored in the oven while making the sauce. Discard bay leaf.

To Make Cream Sauce:

  1. To hot broth stir in the sauce ingredients and heat through, but do not boil.

  2. Add the cooked meatballs to the heated sauce, stir gently and warm through.