Tag Archives: LDS

Molly’s Missionary Message #5

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I made it!

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 I can’t believe I have been on my mission for a month…It has been truly extraordinary!

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This week has been filled with great joy, learning, and laughter. This week I had my first baptism. It was a young man who was a miracle referral. It was a beautiful event that left me teary eyed.

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There was great love and support for him which was such a blessing.

We also had our first service opportunity (other than volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse.)

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We got to weed the bishop’s yard with his family. It was such a treat because with the pandemic, missionaries are in quarantine and have few opportunities to get out of the house. It is the greatest feeling to serve and bless the lives around you! After we were done weeding, the Bishop ordered pizza for us to pick up and take home.

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This act of kindness overwhelmed me with gratitude. Honestly, the smallest acts of kindness can mean the world to another!

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Sister Briones got a new companion this week, which was bittersweet.

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Luckily, we still get to see her a lot since Sister Seal and I have a car and drive Sister Briones and her companion where they need to go. We honestly get to see each other quite a bit. Her new companion is Sister Ayers. Sister Ayers served in Japan for 8 months before the virus got really bad and she was reassigned to the States.

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(Mosiah 2:17) “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

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It has been so humbling to see this scripture come to life. As I have served those around me, I have been blessed with great love towards them. I am filled with the Holy Ghost, which gives me joy! It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to serve so many people even with, and despite, the virus. Moments of serving others and being served is a continual reminder that God is good, always good. He is aware of us and is always watching out for us! We are His children. He is our father.

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And He loves us more than we can even comprehend!

Sending big hugs your way,

Sister McCleery

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #4

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Hello!

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This week honestly has been quite bittersweet.

There have been some great “ups” like:

Sewing up the hole in my pants all by myself! (proud moment… haha),

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Magic syrup…a seasoning we love to cook with daily. (No one knows what is in it, but it tastes like happiness!)

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Visiting the temple grounds often during the week. (This is probably the greatest blessing!) Back at home the closest temple is a few hours away, so the blessing of having three temples in our mission area is the greatest joy!

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Enjoying the beauty of Utah. The other day there was a stunning sunset. My two companions and I went outside and bonded over a photography shoot.

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We have also enjoyed going on hikes. The mountains are breathtaking! They are one of the things that I adore about Utah, besides the great people and this mission.

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There were also some low moments: My trio companion Sister Briones is getting a new companion in the next few days. It is sad that she will be moving out. I adore her. At least we will get to keep giving her rides when we need to say hello!

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Another hard moment came this week when I received the sad news about my great grandmother’s passing… She was that amazing, firecracker, life-of-the-party person that I adore and will greatly miss!

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This week had its ups and downs, but in the end the good will always outweigh the bad. God is good and I know that He knows us personally and individually!

Alma 18:32 says,”Yea, and He looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart for by His hand were they all created from the beginning.”

I know God loves us. We are His children. He is aware of our ups and downs and is always with us… always! I love you all and so does our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ!

Here is a poem that I wrote and felt prompted to share:

“Miracles are God’s manifestation of His love in viewable form,
If we aren’t still and quiet, they can blend into the daily norm.
God places people in our path of life for a purpose and a reason,
Be humble and learn all you can, for that due personal season.

During this time on my mission, I have seen so many miracles each day,
I am so grateful and humbled… what more is there to truly say?
Everyday a challenge of some sort may push or stretch you,
But remember God loves you personally, and He sees the big picture too!

Today brought forth a miracle that fills me with the Spirit,
Our message is about Jesus Christ and we invite all to come and hear it.
We speak out of love for Jesus Christ and a true, deep passion,
Everyday we seek to walk in the shoes of Christ, which to the world is so out of fashion.

My invitation to you is to put action to your faith in some way or form this week,
For as we search and ask with a sincere desire, God will provide what we honestly seek.
Modern day revelation is true for this time and day,
I have received loving answers from the humble prayers I say.”

Sending big hugs your way!

– Sister McCleery

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #3

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Hello friends and family!

I’ve always loved the declaration: “God is good, always good!” It is a truth I hold dear to my heart and one that I often recite. I find comfort in this reminder and bear testimony of the truthfulness of this statement. This week consisted of some amazing miracles and moments that added to my testimony of God’s goodness.

Here are some of the highlights from my week:

– We got a miracle referral for a little boy who desires to be baptized. He is the sweetest thing and I am humbled by all he teaches me during every lesson we have with him.

– We had another miracle call from a young man who has desired to be baptized for a while!

– Seeing the temple and the mountains off into the distance every day is amazing! I am in awe and feel so humbled to see God’s love illustrated through the beauty of the world around us.

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– Every lesson we teach (which is often at least once a day) is humbling to me.  I love teaching about Jesus Christ, and I love feeling God’s hand in the work!

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– I am grateful for every day…every day that God teaches me something new. Every day that I am stretched in a new way. Every day I get to be a missionary. A mission is hard but the greatest feeling! I rejoice in the great goodness of God!!

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Update on me and the mission:

Today is P-day, which is preparation day, and this is how I have spent it…

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My two companions and I went Target shopping. I spent the entire time trying to convince myself not to buy what I don’t need, and I was actually successful, surprisingly… I love shopping!

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We ate tasty food out as a treat,

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We volunteered at the bishop’s store house,

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Called and talked to family,

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Love from home!

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And did some self-care.

P-day is a good recovery day after a busy week, because it is focused on caring for yourself.

Everyone needs to have a personal lift-me-up day to go strong the rest of the week.

I also did my laundry today. I was so excited to have clean clothes (which my landlord even folded for me.) It is truly the simple joys in life that bring the greatest happiness!

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God is Good, always good!

Love you lots!

-Sister McCleery

 

21st Century’s Covid-19 Graduation Celebration

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Well, it was…hands down…the weirdest graduation ceremony I have ever attended.

So unlike the graduation celebrations of years past. This one was one for the history books. It was unorthodox to be sure, but it accomplished its purpose in launching our two graduates out of high school into their futures.

Needless to say, this year’s celebration did NOT take place in an auditorium with hundreds of other graduating seniors and family members.

No, this year’s ceremony took place in the comfort of our own living room.

Molly wasn’t in attendance.

Ozzie wasn’t in attendance.

Even Braden, one of our graduates, was not in attendance.

Life has been a hard for Braden these last few months. He has struggled with the same feelings of loss and despair that so many around the world have been burdened by during this time of lock down. Hopes and plans have been dashed by powers outside his control and that, coupled with all the expected angst and uncertainty that comes with launching into adulthood, has made things challenging for him. Molly leaving on her mission was that proverbial final straw that made life at home unbearable for him. Unable to manage those overwhelming feelings of loss, he chose to take his leave at the start of the week and go stay with his pap for a while. It breaks my heart to see him flee, but I get it. Being at home is a painful reminder of the changes that have occurred in our family these last nine months. For Braden, I think it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under him once again. In his heart this feels like the loss of one more family after a lifetime of losses, and no matter how much proof we offer to the contrary, or how connected we work to remain, he feels the winds of change coming and he is determined to leave us before we can leave him like so many before us have.

Right now the loss of Molly is too new, and the feelings too raw, to process through, so we are giving him what he says he needs: space. How long that period of recovery will be has yet to be determined. He may be staying at his pap’s house for a week or for the entire summer. He is in a safe space, with an adult looking out for him, while he allows his hurting heart to heal a bit from this latest loss in his life. It will all work out. I know that. But it still is heartbreaking and so very hard to navigate the emotional pot holes of trauma and loss.

So, at our graduation celebration we had only one senior: Rusty.

We received news earlier in the month that 21st Century Cyber Charter School had decided on a virtual graduation ceremony. We were told it would be played on YouTube Live. At the end of May seniors were mailed their caps and gowns and were asked to submit a picture of themselves wearing them. Then days before graduation we were emailed the link for the ceremony.

Rusty invited Grace and Zach to come over and watch with us. We set it up so we could watch the ceremony on the living room TV.

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When our IT guy had things all set up, he headed upstairs to put on his cap and gown.

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To make the experience feel more celebratory, Toby picked up pizza on his way home from work and we had a pizza party while we watched Rusty graduate.

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Rusty declared it a perfect set-up for his high school graduation. Covid-19 really gave Rusty the graduation ceremony of his dreams. For our quiet introvert it was a win-win. He got to watch it unfold from “the audience.” He didn’t have to wear shoes or walk across a stage in front of hundreds of people. AND he got to eat pizza through the entire thing. I know many graduates are really mourning the loss of that pivotal life experience, but Rusty wasn’t one of them!

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Although Molly was thousands of miles away in Utah, she was able to call in right before graduation to wish her brothers love. She enjoyed being able to see Rusty in his cap and gown.

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21st Century Cyber Charter School began their graduation ceremony with speeches from alumni and three of the seniors. Then scholarships were handed out. Finally it was time for the presentation of the graduates.

As the names and photos of the graduating class flashed across the screen, I was able to catch a picture of my two favorites:

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The ceremony ended with words of care and advice from the principal before the seniors were invited to move their tassels from right to left.

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It is official…

Braden and Rusty are high school graduates!

Molly’s Missionary Message #2

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I have been here almost a week and I can’t believe how much I have learned and gained in these past few days.  

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More than anything I am so humbled. Daily, I feel my faith grow and deepen.  This has come from personal scripture study, spiritual teaching experiences, and experiencing a more sincere relationship with God grow as I turn to Him throughout the day. 

If anyone was curious what my days are like as I serve in the Salt Lake City South mission during quarantine, here you go: 

At 6:30 I wake up! 

6:30-9:00 am is spent exercising, eating breakfast and planning out our day.  

9:00-10:00 am is when I have my own personal scripture study. This is my favorite time of day.  There is something so special about taking personal time to talk to and get to know Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Every morning we receive a list of spiritual reading tasks to focus on which provides wonderful opportunities for learning!  

Throughout the day there are blocks of time that are set aside for specific tasks.  12:00 pm is lunch, 5:00-6:00 is dinner time, and 7:30- 9:00 is companion study. Companion study with my two awesome companions provides a fun opportunity to do role play practice, share what we learned, and review rules and goals.  

My day ends with bed at 10:30 pm. 

The open blocks of time between those regularly occurring activities are filled with teaching opportunities, reaching out to others via technology, and meeting with other missionaries. It is a full schedule but I enjoy it!  

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One thing that I have learned this week is the realization that I need to rely upon Jesus Christ every moment of my day. I think I used to be more passive about this heavenly hotline, but on a mission, it is a life line!  

As I study His words, I see His words come to life. I feel His deep love and grace flow into every moment of my day. 

I need Him every day.  

He is my Savior and Redeemer.  

He is my life jacket and friend. 

 He is my brother and healer. 

 He is the master potter that lovingly molds me to become my best self.  

He is the living waters that keep me strong to endure spiritual trials.  

Christ is my joy and my peace.  

I bear testimony that He lives!  

He loves us and is always reaching out to us saying, “Come follow me.”  

I rejoice in the great blessing of having Christ in my life because I wouldn’t be who I am without Him.  

Deepest of love, 

Sister McCleery 

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Molly’s Missionary Message #1

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Hello friends and family!

I have been out in Draper, Utah officially for four days, but I feel like I have been out here for weeks!
Tuesday was a big day, starting with good-byes to my family in the morning. That was hard.
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Flying required two separate layovers to get to Utah. Once I arrived I was given a lot of new information. I met my mission president, President Meredith and his sweet wife. They are so very kind and have welcomed me with so much love.
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In fact, everyone welcomed me with open arms, which was such a blessing because it all started off very intimidating. In the afternoon of my first day I also met my two companions, Sister Seal and Sister Briones, party of three!
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They are so adorable and have such sweet spirits.
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Over all, Tuesday was full of lots of changes. Wednesday and Thursday offered a more of a normal schedule, as us sisters filled the day with teaching opportunities, meeting our district,
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Preparation day shopping,
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And a drive to the mountains. (They were stunning!)
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It has all been a lot to process but oh how great God’s love and mercy is! This goes up there as one of the greatest lessons God has been teaching me. John 14:27 is a powerful scripture to me right now because I have had many moments when fear or doubt have slipped in, leaving me feeling inadequate, but God is real! He has given me so many tender mercies. He doesn’t just help keep me afloat. He helps me to soar!
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 God is so good, always good! He hears our prayers and answers them. Perhaps not in the way we expect but peace in Christ can always be found!
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I am so deeply humbled by God’s grace and the love that I feel every day as I turn to Him to lift me up. I am also very grateful for this sacred opportunity to serve the Lord and be a blessing unto others.
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God knows and loves us individually and personally. He is good, always good and I believe this with a heart that overflows with gratitude.
Deepest love,
Sister McCleery

And She’s Off!

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After a two month delay we finally found ourselves 12 hours from Molly’s departure…

And it was with a muddy mix of emotions that we prepared our hearts for her leave. It was so good and yet so hard, and I found myself navigating one of those happy/sad days we have talked about in the past. How can one’s heart feel so full of gratitude and joy and yet so empty at the thought of impending loss?

It was an emotional minefield we were all navigating.

Part of me wanted to pause time so as to etch out a few more weeks…or years…of time with Molly before she took flight. Yet another part of me was eager to move past the dread and anticipation of the inevitable and just rip the Band-Aid off already. As I watched the minutes pass by on that final day before her departure, I couldn’t decide if I needed the hands of the clock to slow down or speed up.

So, I tried to not even look at the clock, and instead focused on each moment I had with my sweet ray of sunshine.

Our final day with Molly was filled with the mundane and uneventful moments of everyday life. We ran to the store to get groceries for her dinner request, did a final pick-up/clean-up of her bedroom, and watched the final two episodes of the series “Christy,” a favorite series from my childhood which has become our daily mother/daughter indulgence. It was all such normal stuff, but they gained significance and value in my heart knowing that those “normal” activities with Molly would be paused for the next year and a half.

President Hoke arrived at our home at 6:00 pm to conduct Molly’s final interview and officially set her apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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Due to Covid-19 regulations, we had only immediate family attend, and her setting apart took place in our home rather than at the church. It was a beautiful and moving experience as she was blessed and received divine guidance and council for the 16 months ahead.

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We then took advantage of everyone looking spiffy in their church clothes to capture some final pictures with Sister McCleery.

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Molly’s last night at home was spent taking care of last minute tasks like laying out her clothes for an early morning flight and printing out her boarding tickets. Grace and Zach joined us for dinner. We had Molly’s favorite: spaghetti pizza, Caesar salad, and baguettes toasted with garlic oil.

After dinner we all gathered in the living room for family scripture study with Sister McCleery. Before we headed to bed Molly called me into her room to present a special gift she had made me. She acknowledged the loneliness I might feel in her absence so she put together a shadowbox bearing one of her sweaters and missionary name tags. “It is just something to make you feel like I’m still around when you are feeling sad,” she explained.

It was a gift of love beyond measure and will be treasured for the next 16 months and far beyond!

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I don’t think anyone slept much that night. We were all struggling with our own mix of emotions about the upcoming farewell the next morning, while also feeling anxious that we might oversleep.

The house began to stir at 4:00 am. The dozen alarms we set out of fear of not waking up, didn’t let us down. Molly was the last to arise. I went in to check on her progress at 4:30 am only to discover her still fast asleep. I’m glad I went in to check on her! Evidently she decided not to set her alarm since everyone else had multiple alarms set. She figured someone would wake her up.

We were out the door by 5:00 am and on our way to the Pittsburgh airport.

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Braden and Tyler opted not to go with us. When we woke them up they said they would rather say good-bye and go back to sleep. I think the thought of watching Molly walk through security was just too much to manage. It would feel too much like she was walking out of their lives forever.

Although it was just Rusty, Toby and I seeing her off from our home, Grace and Zach woke early and met us at the airport to say goodbye. It meant the world to Molly and was an incredible act of kindness on Zach and Gracie’s part. They surprised Molly with signs to celebrate the start of this new adventure.

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As we entered the airport they were there waiting for us with the signs in hand.

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We checked Molly’s luggage and made our way toward security.

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There, outside the metal detectors, we said our good-byes…

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Stealing a few final hugs and kisses from our sweet girl.

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There were tears, words of love and encouragement, final reminders, and one last squeeze from each of us before she headed on her way.

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It was with a mix of emotions that we drove home.

I had a knot in my stomach all day as I waited for word that she successfully navigated her connecting flights and arrived safely in Utah. At 4:30pm I received the call I had been waiting for. She made it safely to Utah, met with her mission president and his wife,

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And was handed over to the two sister missionaries that will serve as her companions for the time being. Sister Seal hails from California and Sister Briones is from the Philippines.

It was a quick phone call but Molly sounded wonderful, and it gave me such peace of mind to know she made it safely and was settling in just fine.

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We will be getting a virtual visit with Molly twice a week, in addition to emails and letters. I think that will definitely make things easier for the boys. It will help confirm the fact that although Molly is gone for a while, she isn’t gone from their lives forever.

She will also be emailing a weekly updates with pictures and news about her mission, which I will be sharing on the blog once a week, so all our friends around the world who have watched Molly grow up on this blog can continue following her adventures.

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For now, I am happy to report that Miss Molly is safe and well and living her best life, and we couldn’t be happier for her!

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Molly’s Closing Thoughts

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Conversion is a Lifelong Quest: 

On Wednesday I was temporarily released as a missionary because of Covid-19, and the moment I took off my name tag, it stung. My name tag has come to mean so much to me because it testifies of my love for the Savior.  

I struggled at first but have since come to the understanding that it isn’t a name tag that should testify of my love for my Savior. It should be the daily choices I make and the effort I put into coming closer to Him. My relationship with Jesus Christ should not depend on a name tag, but should be evident through my heart. We each can wear Christ’s name upon our hearts. Jesus Christ showed His love through the greatest act of love itself-the atonement. Those prints on his hands and feet show the world his deep, abiding, and eternal love for all of us. When we write upon our hearts His name, and promise to follow Him every day, it shows our deep love for Him. 

This week I have been studying conversion. Is conversion a one-time event? Is it growth through time? Is it a cumulation of every day choices and desires?  

I believe conversion happens every moment we choose Christ.  

Every moment we choose to follow the path that Jesus Christ paved before us.  

Every moment we choose to write His name upon our hearts.  

“Conversion is not a one-time event, but a lifelong quest. It is the miraculous process by which we come unto Christ and become more like Him.”  

I love this quote because it testifies of the process, the time, the effort and the work it takes to achieve true conversion.  

I think one of the most beautiful things that I have gained from my MTC experience is a greater desire to choose this day and this moment- and every moment moving forward-to be converted unto Christ. There is no greater source of joy! 

I am grateful for this uncertain time because it has allowed me to cling tighter to our Savior. I am grateful for my Savior who can swallow up fear, pain and sorrow. He knows us. He knows our struggles. He knows our uncertainties. Through His atonement He can truly succor us. I know Jesus Christ lives and loves us personally. I know that great blessings come forth as we turn to Him. 

Deepest love,  

Sister McCleery 

 

Molly’s Last Day at the MTC

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Yesterday was Molly’s last day of missionary training. After three weeks of daily, online MTC classes, she bid farewell to her teachers and the other missionaries in her district. It wasn’t easy for Molly to remove the nametag that has become so precious to her these last few weeks,

And it wasn’t easy for her to say good-bye to the young men and women she has been studying with and growing with these last 21 days.

Eight hours a day together (even when it is all  through the computer) creates bonds that are hard to shake.

Their time together has been spent studying, learning, praying, practicing and even playing together. On Saturday night one of their MTC teachers hosted a virtual cooking class after the topic of favorite missionary meals came up in discussion. He shared that he often made Greek yogurt pizza as a missionary because it was an inexpensive meal. He offered to teach the rest of them through a Zoom cooking class.

On Saturday night Molly set up her phone in the kitchen and proceeded to make dinner with seven other missionaries, scattered across the country.

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It turns out the Greek yogurt was used to make the crust. Molly soon found out she miscalculated her yogurt to flour ratio,

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But Grace stepped in with a little water and helped salvage the dough.

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Soon the pizzas were baking and the finished product was delicious!

Just one more skill Molly learned during her time at the MTC!

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On Sunday we headed over to Buttermilk Falls for a hike.

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It was a bit disconcerting to venture out of the house after being isolated for so long, but Rusty needed to get some drone footage of Buttermilk Falls for a college assignment he had due. We decided to make the most of the errand and turn it into a family outing.

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We enjoyed a little hiking and exploring,

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While Rusty worked to capture the shots he needed for his assignment.

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Unfortunately, he didn’t take into consideration the breeze that would be coming off the falls, and soon found his drone stuck in a tree when a gust of wind blew it out of control.

Luckily, Toby and Rusty were able to rescue it and there was only minimal damage. One blade was broken and Toby’s forearm got a bit beat up by the spinning blades when he pulled it from the tree, but it could have been much worse!

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While the boys were working on the drone, the girls and I worked on Molly’s missionary photo shoot.

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This was originally scheduled for the end of March, before she left for Utah, but the worldwide pandemic squashed those plans. When Molly’s training got moved online, we forgot to move her photo shoot to another day on the calendar.

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Sunday offered the perfect opportunity to get some pictures of Sister McCleery!!

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As of today, Sister McCleery has been released as a missionary until it is safe for her to travel to Utah to serve her 18 month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This will be a hard transition for Molly. Like so many other missionaries who have been called home in the midst of Covid-19, she waits, uncertain of what is next and when that next phase will come,

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But like all of us who are navigating the uncertainty of this unusual time, Molly has been given the opportunity to exercise those spiritual muscles of faith, optimism, resilience, mindfulness, presence, positivity, and hope.

And all will be well!

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Easter at Patchwork Farm- Part 2

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After a beautiful Sabbath service in the comfort of our own living room, the remainder of Easter Sunday was spent enjoying good food, good company, and good fun at Patchwork Farm.

This year for Easter I decided to go in a different direction with my basket stuffing efforts. This decision was luckily made before the stay-at-home order went into place, or I may have struggled to put together baskets this year. Luckily I had Easter candy on hand to put together treat baskets for each family member and had preordered their Easter gifts-  Lego sets!

We thought it would be fun to have a Lego building day as a family, so each of the kids received a set that we thought would appeal to them. When we came up with this plan we didn’t know Grace and Zach would be living with us, so I did have to do some emergency, last-minute shopping  online so they would have an Easter surprise as well.

The baskets were ready and waiting when everyone woke up.

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After our Sabbath service we headed outside for our Easter egg hunt.

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Toby had taken the hunt outside this year. The beautiful weather, coupled with older kids who need more of a challenge than the living room can offer, led to an outdoor hunt.

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Toby hid the 36 eggs we had dyed the day before.

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It was so much fun being outside.

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Of all our “egg hunters” Ellie May was the clear winner.

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Her hound nose led her to all the eggs hidden low to the ground. When Ellie would start digging beneath the edge of a tree stump, the kids would have to race to try to grab the hidden egg before she swallowed it up.

Despite their efforts we did lose three eggs to our hound dog and one egg to the chickens who discovered a turquoise blue egg hidden in their hen house and ate it up before the kids found it.

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It was a fun hunt, and other than the eggs that were lost to animals, all eggs were found.

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While dinner was cooking, the kids began working on their Lego sets.

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Molly and Rusty each received a Harry Potter themed set.

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Rusty spent the day putting together Hagrid’s hut,

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And Molly worked on constructing the Beauxbaton carriage.

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 Tyler worked on his haunted graveyard,

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And Braden constructed the prison tower from his Walking Dead set.

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He was quite proud of his finished product!

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Zach receivedEaster a Speed Champion race set and Grace received the “Friend’s” set.

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She spent the afternoon working on her set.

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The finished product was so cool!!

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I loved the attention to detail.

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By late afternoon dinner was ready. Dishes were pulled from the oven and fridge.

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We enjoyed a meal of good food and even better company on this holiest of days.

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We have so much to be grateful for.

Happy Easter, friends!