Tag Archives: mormon

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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Winter Quarters, Nebraska

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After four hours of travel from Hannibal, Missouri toward De Smet, South Dakota we found ourselves in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This was an significant stop on the Mormon pioneers westward trek.

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We arrived early, before the visitor center opened and let Tyler burn off some energy, before we asked him to be still and reverent for the next hour, with a game of football in the parking lot.

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When the senior missionaries assigned to this historical site arrived they walked us through the history of this site:

“In the Kanesville Tabernacle, built by 200 pioneers in just two and a half weeks, Brigham Young was sustained as the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The present log tabernacle is a replica of the original meeting hall. The tabernacle now serves as a visitors’ center, where you can learn more about the epic history of the Latter-day Saints’ migration westward.”

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The sod fireplace was very cool. The original sod fireplace would have stretched across the entire wall of the building. It was neat touching the sod and getting a feel for what living in a sod home would have been like. I can’t imagine how they would have kept things clean.

 

The kids were even invited to play the 150 year old organ. Linda Neeley, you would have been proud!

Then we drove 15 minutes away, across the Missouri River, to Winter Quarters in Omaha, .Nebraska.

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“Winter Quarters encompassed the area of North Omaha near State and 33rd Streets. Historic sites include the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Bridge, Florence Mill, Florence Park, Mormon Pioneer Cemetery, Cutler’s Park, and the first Mormon pioneer camp after leaving Winter Quarters. A major interpretive center was built by the L.D.S. Church at Winter Quarters Historical Site in 1997.

Witness glimpses of the great “Mormon Migration” as you walk beside a covered wagon, pull a handcart, climb in the bunks on a steam ship, and imagine a railroad journey. Exhibits also explore the expulsion from Nauvoo, the crossing of Iowa, and temporary settlements in the Middle Missouri Valley, including Winter Quarters, where the center is located.”

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Parked across from Winter Quarters Temple

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Winter Quarters Complex – Omaha, Nebraska

“Built on Indian land with permission from the U.S. Army, Winter Quarters served as the main settlement of the Mormons on the Missouri River until they moved the fitting-out site to Kanesville in Iowa.”

“The winter of 1846-47 was devastating, and with inadequate shelter and food they died by the hundreds of malaria, scurvy, dysentery, and a host of other unidentified ailments. Louisa Barnes Pratt recalled in her memoirs, “I hired a man to build me a sod cave. He took turf from the earth, laid it up, covered it with willow brush and sods. Built a chimney of the same. . . . I paid a five dollar gold piece for building my sod house, 10 x 12. . . . A long cold rain storm brought more severely again the chills and fever. These with scurvy made me helpless indeed! . . . Many of my friends sickened and died in that place, when I was not able to leave my room, could not go to their bedside to administer comfort to them in the last trying hours, not even to bid them farewell. Neither could I go to see their remains carried to their final resting place where it was thought I would shortly have to be conveyed.”

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As we walked around the visitor center we really got a feel for the stories and sacrifices made by those who found themselves wintering over in Western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Their losses were great but their faith was even greater.

December 1846- Diary of Lucy Meserve Smith

“We moved down to Winter Quarters when my babe was two weeks old. There we lived in a cloth tent until December, then we moved into a log cabin, ten feet square with sod roof, chimney and only the soft ground for a floor and poor worn cattle beef and corn cracked on a hand mill, for our food. Here I got scurvy, not having any vegetables to eat. I got so low I had to wean my baby and he had to be fed on that coarse cracked corn bread when he was only five months old. We had no milk for a while till we could send to the herd and then he did very well till I got better. My husband took me in his arms and held me till my bed was made nearly every day for nine weeks. I could not move an inch. Then on the 9th of February I was 30 years old. I had nothing to eat but a little corn meal gruel. I told the folks I would remember my birthday dinner when I was 30 years old. My dear baby used to cry till It seemed as tho I would jump off my bed when it came night. I would get so nervous, but I could not even speak to him. I was so helpless I could not move myself in bed or speak out loud. . . . When I got better I had not a morsel in the house I could eat, as my mouth was so sore. I could not eat corn bread and I have cried hours for a morsel to put in my mouth. Then my companion would take a plate and go around among the neighbors and find some one cooking maybe a calf’s pluck. He would beg a bit to keep me from starving. I would taste it and then I would say oh do feed my baby. My appetite would leave me when I would think of my dear child. My stomach was hardening from the want of food.

The next July my darling boy took sick and on the 22nd, the same day that his father and Orson Pratt came into the valley of the great Salt lake my only child died. I felt so overcome in my feelings. I was afraid I would loose my mind, as I had not fully recovered from my sickness the previous winter” (“Original Historical Narrative of Lucy Meserve Smith: 14 Aug. 1884–1889)”

I can’t imagine packing up my family and heading to an unknown land with minimal provision, propelled forward only by a hope of a better life and a faith in God.

In the visitor’s center there was a display showing the provisions allowed for each wagon headed west. These are the provisions for a family of 5. Handcart pioneers were more limited in the weight they could pack because of the fact they would be pulling their carts across the country without the help of oxen.

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The boys got to try out their Tetris skills as they attempted to get all their supplies to fit in the toy wagon.

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On one display we were able to see the means used to track the pioneer’s mileage west. By tying a rag to the wagon wheel, and by measuring the size of the wheel, one person was assigned the task of counting each rotation of the rag, recording the daily number, and calculating  the mileage for the day. Can you imagine having that job?!

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We left with a better appreciation for our pioneer heritage and gratitude that we are trekking west in an air conditioned bus with running water rather than a handcart!

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