Tag Archives: missionary

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

 

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 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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Sister McCleery- Week 1 at the MTC

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This week was a monumental one for Miss Molly…I mean, Sister McCleery.
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On Wednesday she logged onto her first class at the Missionary Training Center. Rather than attend the MTC in person,  she and all the other missionaries who are scheduled to do their training in Provo, Utah during this time, are now part of online classes.
Her name tag arrived in the mail on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning she emerged from her bedroom as Sister McCleery.
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Her schedule is quite rigorous with 6-8 hours a day spent online, learning, training, and attending devotionals. This is in addition to the time she has set aside in her schedule for personal scripture study and the companion scripture study that she does online with her assigned companion.
She is still able to join the family for meals and during her down time and breaks. It has been a joy watching her MTC experience firsthand and getting to hear about her experiences and the insight she’s gained that day as we gather together each evening for family devotionals.
The biggest challenge has probably been creating an environment of stillness and quiet reflection for Molly to learn in, with seven other people (and many noisy animals) running amuck.
The dogs have especially enjoyed hanging out with Molly at her own personal MTC.
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The other day Olive had to be banished from Molly’s room when she insisted on bring her noisiest squeaky toy into Molly’s room and making a whole lot of noise while Molly was trying to answer questions in class.
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But overall we are navigating this unique situation well. Molly’s faithfulness and service continues to bless our family and we are grateful she is home and safe during this uncertain season. Here are some thoughts she shared with us this week:
MISSIONARY THOUGHT: HAVING A SOFT HEART
I don’t know if I can really put into words all the emotions I am feeling. With all the changes in the world right now I have learned to take my mission step by step and day by day. I am doing the MTC online and had my first class yesterday.
I was assigned and introduced to my companion, Sister Graham, who is the sweetest person ever! I am so excited to learn and teach beside her! I am in a district with two other sets of missionaries. Everyone is very kind and my first class was quite enjoyable.
I could really feel the Spirit during our zone conference as well. We talked about the importance of the work and the blessings of the mission. It takes sacrifice, and it is hard, but the growth and gifts that come forth are endless!
I am also very grateful for being able to do my MTC experience online. The experience has allowed me to spend some more time with my family and share my MTC experience with them. I have learned that this experience is humbling and sacred whether you do it online or in person. You can feel the Spirit testify of that.
This week, as I was reading my scriptures, the Holy Ghost taught me using a metaphor which touched my heart. In the scriptures it often talks about a hardened heart. This made me think of everyday objects that could relate.
A hardened heart is like dry clay. When we are not willing to listen to what God has to say to us, our hearts become hardened, and just like clay, it becomes challenging to work with. Eventually it becomes unable to be molded. It just crumbles. But Jesus Christ, the master potter, doesn’t give up easily on us. We can choose to have a soft heart, one that is willing to listen and to obey what it is He is asking us to do. We can have a heart that desires to serve and to trust in God even during the hard times. That willingness is like adding water to dry clay. As we work with it, it becomes moldable. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can use us to fulfill His work and our purpose here on earth. They have the ability to mold us into strong, beautiful and reliable pottery.
Be like soft clay. Have a soft and open heart. Allow Jesus Christ to mold you into something better than you ever thought you could be. You need not fear. He is in control.
“Trust in The Lord with all Thy heart, and lean not unto Thy own understanding. In all Thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct Thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Love, Sister McCleery

Just by the Skin of our Teeth

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It is crazy how much life has changed in the last few weeks. So much is uncertain right now, including Molly’s mission plans. So much is up in the air. For this reason we are grateful we got so much visiting squeezed in over the last few weeks.

Originally, Molly was to be set apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this coming Friday…as in 4 days from now. Tickets were purchased for us to fly her out to Utah this Saturday, with plans to spend a few days together in Utah before dropping her off at the Missionary Training Center on April 1st.

Currently the plan is for her to be set apart as a missionary on March 31st with her period of missionary training to begin April 1st in the comfort of her own bedroom. Her MTC experience will be virtual, with her training taking place for 6 hours a day through a virtual classroom. She is scheduled to head to Utah on April 28th to begin her mission, but with things changing worldwide by the hour, we will see where things stand a month from now.

Despite a worldwide pandemic delaying her departure, we are grateful we planned on her leaving at the end of March, because she was able to see many friends and say her good-byes to many loved ones before we went into self-isolated lockdown. Our last few visits were cancelled due to closures that came down the pike over the last week. Our scheduled trip to the temple with Mimi Joy was delayed due to temples being closed. A final visit with Ozzie and G.G. were also delayed due to their facilities locking their doors to visitors. We are hopeful Molly will be able to squeeze those visits in before she leaves…

Whenever that may be.

Here are some of the final visits she was able to enjoy before the world got sick:

On the Sunday before our church canceled meetings and Sunday services, Molly was able to visit the Single’s Ward in Pittsburgh for a final time to say goodbye to friends there:

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On the following Friday Grace hosted a farewell party for Molly with all of Molly’s best buddies from co-op… those childhood friends who are her nearest and dearest soul sisters. They enjoyed an evening of good food, crafts, and time spent reminiscing and loving on each other before a 18 month separation.

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The next day Molly headed to Zach’s family’s house to visit Heather. Zach’s younger sister, Heather, is one of Molly’s best friends and she wanted to make sure they fit in a visit before she left for Utah.

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On Monday we met up with Aunt Beth at Eat n’ Park for breakfast and a catch-up. We all adore Aunt Beth and don’t see nearly enough of her. Molly wanted to make sure we could get together with Beth so she could say good-bye.

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And of course we had our last trip to the Homestead before we went into lockdown. While we were out there we celebrated Gracie’s March birthday and Molly’s April birthday with Mimi and PopPop.  Here are some additional photos of our time in Ohio eight days ago:

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It is crazy how much things have changed in a week!

We are still not sure what will happen over the next month or two with Miss Molly. We will be sure to keep you in the loop. Her uncertainty about upcoming plans is certainly being mirrored by the uncertainty we are all feeling as we navigate unchartered waters,

But we are grateful for the visits she was able to squeeze in before we all hunkered down.

Stay safe, friends!

 

Big Changes

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When I first began this blog, with the purpose of recording Tyler’s first year with our family, I discovered quickly the importance of recording the moments of success as they happened, because the tides could turn without notice. That first year was everchanging and the atmosphere could turn from calm to volatile with little to no notice. I found if I delayed recording the simple joys they would soon get buried under piles of raw emotions, simmering resentment, or feelings of defeat. If I waited too long to blog about little successes those stories would lose their relevance in light of the bigger issues that had taken hold.

In much the same way I have found myself uncertain of what to record about the last month of life here at Patchwork Farm given the worldwide crisis we are facing. It seems frivolous and irrelevant to post pictures of our latest craft projects in light of a worldwide pandemic sweeping across the land. Much like those first months with Tyler at home, I find myself avoiding blogging, as I don’t even know what to write in light of all that is changing day by day…minute by minute.

It has been a crazy 6 days. On Friday the girls and I made preparations to head out to Ohio to visit my parents for our annual girls’ weekend. At that time my parents commented that it was probably our last visit for a while. It all seemed a bit alarmist at the time.

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Who knew that in a matter of days schools would be closed, food shortages would be seen across the country, restaurants and entertainment venues would be shut down, and gatherings of people would be restricted.

The numbers changed daily.

First we were told no more than 250 people could gather, then 50, and now 10. Day by day new emails are coming through, canceling all upcoming events and regular commitments, wiping my calendar clean. No physicals for the kids, orthodontist appointments postponed, tutoring on hold until future notice, no therapy, no church…no need to leave the house.

Ozzie is currently on lockdown at his facility. None of the boys are allowed to leave the facility for home visits or even day passes, and no family is allowed to enter. My weekly therapy appointment and visit with Ozzie is now happening over the phone.

G.G. is also on lockdown. My Grandmother wasn’t able to join us girls for our girls’ weekend activities, as her home was proactive in locking the doors early in light of this global pandemic. All residents are being kept safe through isolation from any outside visitors. Employees are interviewed and checked for symptoms and fever before entering the facility.

Grace is now out of work, as the daycare she is employed at has closed in accordance to the latest restriction on gathering.

It is all a bit surreal.

Even Molly has felt the impact of the pandemic in her plans to serve as a full time missionary. The Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, where she was scheduled to do her training in the weeks leading up to her heading out into the field, has been shut down. Molly will now be set apart as a missionary on March 31st only to do her training at home and online. Our home will become her MTC. Here at Patchwork Farm she will be serving with a companion across the globe that she will study with remotely through the computer. She will attend classes and devotionals online six hours a day, all while observing the rules and standards of missionary life (no tv, movies, secular music, etc.) She is navigating the mixed emotions that have come with the news, bracing for the possibility that her service to the Lord may be delayed even further in light of the daily policy changes being issued by government and the church, and trying to figure out how to manage it all in a home environment with five other people who are also living a sequestered life.

I think we are all still trying to figure it out, as I’m sure you are too. We are living in unusual times, historic times, times that will alter our trajectory as a nation…

And in the midst of it all we are trying to individually figure out our new “normal”, in the midst of an every changing world.

As uncertain and ever-changing our lives are at the moment, I find myself shying away from blogging. I find myself struggling to find the balance between acknowledging the crisis that is overtaking the globe, while sharing the daily details of life. I am trying to figure out how I do that without it seeming frivolous and out of touch with so many people’s current reality…especially in light of the many readers who are spread across the globe. I don’t want the daily fluff of my life to seem dismissive to those facing true and heartbreaking hardship at this time, so I find myself shying away from writing anything at all.

But perhaps what is needed more than anything in the world right now is connection and feelings of normalcy. Maybe the stories of every day frivolity are what we are all craving in the light of so much darkness. At the very least I feel convicted to record this season of life, as it is part of our story. This blog has served as a recording of our family’s history through the high moments and some very low moments,  will continue to share the moments of life here at Patchwork Farm…the good, the bad and what could be very boring moments of self isolation.  I hope that you recognize it for what it is: my efforts to maintain connection with friends across the world, to hold onto some semblance of normalcy, and as a means of sharing light in a season of darkness…

Certainly not a dismissiveness of the tragedy that surrounds us.

So, to my friends near and far:

Be safe.

Stay home.

Wash your hands.

Rise up.

Be a blessing.

Find the good.

Pray.

Share with others.

Hold onto hope.

Much love to you all, from Patchwork Farm!

 

Molly’s Mission News

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Last fall Molly called us and confirmed news that we anticipated would be coming shortly…

Our sweet girl had prayerfully decided to answer God’s call and devote 18 months of her life to His service as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Her papers were submitted the week before Christmas and her call came February 5th.

On Tuesday morning she received the text that her mission call was ready to be accessed via the missionary portal, and there she would find the letter from the First Presidency of the church informing her of where she would be sent to serve and when she would leave.

Due to situations beyond our control, she opted to wait until Wednesday evening to open her mission call. This allowed everyone to be available and allowed us the time to prepare everyone for the emotions they might feel upon facing Molly’s departure for 18 months.

The 24 hour delay also allowed us to amp up the hype and allow others to join in on the anticipation of wondering where in the world Miss Molly would go. By making it a competition we were able to lessen the struggle for our sons that were already mourning the “loss” of another sister (this one to a mission rather than marriage) and make it a game of guessing where the Lord would be sending Molly.

We posted two maps on the wall…

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A world map and a United States map,

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And let everyone lock in their guesses.

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“Where in the World would Molly be going?!”

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The promise of a prize for the correct guess spurred on friendly competition, helping to make the evening celebratory rather than sad for the boys.

Others locked in their votes as well, as friends and family across the country posted their guesses on social media. We added each guess to our map, and the guesses kept rolling in until the big reveal at 7:00.

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We arrived home from equine therapy minutes before we were to go live on Facebook. Grace and Zach were already there, ready to support Molly and celebrate her exciting news.

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At 7:00 she opened the missionary portal and began reading…

We waited with bated breath as Molly revealed where she would be serving as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Drumroll, please…

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Salt Lake City, Utah in the Salt Lake City South mission!!

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And she reports to the Missionary Training Center on April 1st.

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Which means I have exactly 47 days with my sweet Molly before she spreads her wings once again and soars. She will be an amazing missionary! Her capacity for love and selfless service will serve those in the Salt Lake City South mission well.

Change is hard, especially for my sons who associate change with trauma and loss. We are working hard to emotionally prepare everyone for the adjustment of Molly’s absence, while also preparing Molly for the experience of a lifetime. These are the moments we prepare our children for. We invest everything in the hopes they will grow into good and Godly people who love others and faithfully follow God’s leading in their lives, even when that leading takes them down unknown paths. I pray my children will all grow into people that humbly and courageously say, “Send me, Lord. I will go and do what You command,” wherever that may be.

Miss Molly, you fill our hearts with joy. I know you will be an amazing missionary and that your life story and the struggles you have had to navigate will be a source of strength for many. The light you exude will draw others to Christ. Thank you for your example and your faithfulness.

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We love you!

Counting Our Blessings

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Count your Blessings 2-01

This Thanksgiving was untraditional in a lot of ways. As a family we are navigating some uniquely stressful and triggering challenges that we are unable to share with others for the time being. This Thanksgiving was reflective of that. We were not in a position that traveling to visit family was an option. The fact that Molly was unable to come home for the holiday, Grace was now a married woman, and Ozzie was only being given a 24 hour home pass meant that Thanksgiving would be different this year.

Rather than mourn the loss of what couldn’t be, or focus on the struggles of this season, we chose to embrace the weekend in an untraditional way, with new traditions this year.

Our holiday weekend began when we picked up Ozzie on Wednesday night. Because he would only be home for one night, we decided to make the most of his time at home and fit in as much fun as possible. We began with a trip to the movies.

Ozzie’s “gotcha day” falls on November 22nd. This is the anniversary of his adoption day, and like the other two boys, we celebrate “gotcha days” by allowing the adoptee to pick an activity that allows us to celebrate this special day in our family’s story. Ozzie was not at home this year on his “gotcha day” so we delayed his celebration a week and celebrated Wednesday night with a trip to the movies.

We went to see Ford vs Ferrari. 

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This movie has been on Ozzie’s wish list ever since seeing the ads for it. Anyone who knows Oz knows that he is obsessed with all things car and NASCAR related, so this movie was right up his alley! Needless to say, he was thrilled when he found out the plans for the evening. I knew Ozzie would love the movie but was surprised how much the rest of us enjoyed it. It was an amazing movie!

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Ozzie declared it the best movie he had ever seen.

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The following morning we woke up and began Thanksgiving preparations. Zach picked up Braden and Tyler for some Turkey Bowl football fun with the guys from church. Toby headed out for a morning of metal detecting at our local park, and Ozzie and Rusty stayed behind with me to help bake while we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year we weren’t eating Thanksgiving dinner with family or at home. Instead we were joining forces with Gracie’s in-laws and others for a Thanksgiving celebration at church. This ended up being a great blessing. The complete diversion from our traditional celebration made the situation bearable and even blessed. The food was wonderful (There was so much of it!) and the company even better! We were so busy feasting, fellowshipping and playing board games that I never captured a photo of the festivities…

A sure sign everyone was enjoying themselves.

At the end of the meal Toby and I made the five-hour, round trip trek to return Ozzie to his RTF and ourselves back home to bed.

Molly was also experiencing a different sort of Thanksgiving. Since a plane trip home for a long weekend wasn’t realistic, she was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a roommate’s family. Katrina is one of Molly’s eight roommates and her “bestie” out in Idaho. She invited Molly to join her family in Utah for Thanksgiving and Molly gratefully accepted. We were glad that Molly had someplace to spend the holiday and we were so thankful to Katrina’s family for being Molly’s holiday parents in our absence.

Molly had a wonderful Thanksgiving and sent us photos of her adventures in Utah, including:

A Thanksgiving 5K run,

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Baking pies with Katrina,

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A snowy trip to the temple,

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A BYU basketball game,

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And lots of fun, family/friend time!

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It was tough having Molly away for Thanksgiving but good preparation for the next adventure that is in store for Miss Molly. She has prayerfully decided to take a sabbatical from school and serve a mission for the Lord that will take her far from home for 18 months. She sent us this screen shot of her completed application and now we wait and see where the Lord will send our sweet girl.

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Oh, there is so much happening in and to our family and I find myself reeling a bit from the whiplash of so many changes occurring at once. I have to remind myself to keep on breathing and trusting God’s hand and plan in our life story.

We may not know how this chapter will end but we know how our story will end…

He had already penned the final paragraph,

and with God as the divine author, it promises to be a perfect ending.