Tag Archives: Salt Lake City

Molly’s Missionary Message #9


(Mom’s notes in red)

Hello everyone!

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

Molly’s Missionary Message #8



This week has been FULL of new changes and adventures! 

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

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

Cooking meals,


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


 Buying ice cream and eating it from the container,


 Going on hikes,


Studying, seeking, praying, teaching,


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


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


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

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

God is good- Always good!

Sending hugs and much love,

Sister McCleery


A Poem written by Sister Molly McCleery:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where we experience opposition and practice the art of discerning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He can and will lift you and clean you up,

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

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

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

Vacation Highlight Video #2


Grace has completed her second highlight video of our amazing journey, stealing snippets of time between schoolwork and touring to work on it.

This video highlights Week 3 of our trip, covering our time at Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Newport Beach, California and Downtown Disney.

 The next video will be of our five days at Disneyland

We hope you enjoy reliving some of the highlights of  Week 3 with us.

What a trip it has been.

It has been a marvelous journey!

Our time in Utah


Our 48 hours in Utah were split between Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo, as we attempted to hit as many sites as possible before our long, 10-hour drive to Yosemite National Park on Thursday.

We began our day on Wednesday with a trip to Temple Square in Salt Lake City:


“Temple Square in Salt Lake City is Utah’s most popular tourist destination. Part of its appeal lies in its accessibility: three city blocks in downtown Salt Lake City contain nearly 20 attractions related to Mormon pioneer history and genealogy, including the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Family History Library. This means that visitors can see all or most of these attractions in a relatively short period of time.”


Salt Lake Temple

“This building is a worldwide icon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the heart of Temple Square. The massive granite edifice was constructed in a neo-gothic style over the course of an astounding 40-year period between 1853 and 1893. The pioneers who settled the valley sacrificed both time and material goods to the building of the temple, which stands as a testament to their faith and devotion. Please be aware that only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are permitted to enter the temple, but all visitors are welcome to peruse the grounds and admire the stunning workmanship of the building and the serene beauty of its immediate surroundings”



South Visitors’ Center

“This building, just south of the temple, contains exhibits on the construction of the Salt Lake Temple and on the importance of family. Here you can also view pictures of the temple interior and a cross-sectional scale model of the Salt Lake Temple.”


North Visitors’ Center

This building is home to an impressive 11-foot statue of Jesus Christ known as The Christus.”


Conference Center

“Located just north of the temple, the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contains a 21,000-seat auditorium and an 850-seat theater. It also houses an array of artworks that tell about scripture stories, Church teachings and organization, and Jesus Christ. Free, guided tours of the Conference Center are available daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m, and tours of the beautiful rooftop gardens are available April through October.”


What a beautiful way to spend our morning in Salt Lake City!


From there we headed north to Ogden, Utah. Ogden is significant because of its family connections. It is where my mother grew up and my grandfather lived when we would travel west for family reunions. It was where my parents met. It was also where I attended school for a time at Weber State University.

It also happens to be home for my Great Aunt Ellen. I haven’t seen Aunt Ellen for a few years. She is 97 years old now and we wanted to make sure we fit in a visit with this special lady.


I decided to just take the girls with me for the visit. They are who Ellen has the most memories of and I thought Tyler and Ozzie might be a bit much for her, so Toby dropped us off at Ellen’s apartment, after we stopped and picked up a pretty plant for her, and then took the boys for a drive while we had a good visit.

When our visit with Aunt Ellen was over we took the kids on a tour around Ogden, showing them my old dorm and where I went to school.


We also drove up to where my mom grew up, to take a photo of her old house.


While I was standing outside her old home taking pictures, the owner came out. When I explained why I was there he graciously invited us in to see the backyard and inside of the house.  He and his family have done a lot of work on the place, but it was neat to still catch glimpses of the home I remember visiting my grandfather in when I was a child.

We also drove past the condo my grandfather moved into when Grace was little. This is where she remembers visiting Great Grandpa when we flew out for his 90th birthday party.


I have a picture of 5-year-old Grace in this same spot.


Our visit was bittersweet. When you go back to a place of your past there are always mixed emotions. It was such a joy seeing Aunt Ellen and visiting places that hold such fond memories, but also a touch of sadness over loved ones who are gone and times that have been lost to the past.

While in Ogden we had one more stop to make before we began our drive down to Provo, Utah.

As a child I remember every time we came to Ogden we would stop and get a Lime Rickey. This drink was a childhood memory of my mother’s years in Ogden and became a childhood memory for us kids that we associated with visits to Grandpa Parmley’s house.
We couldn’t leave without letting the kids experience this yummy drink: a Lime Rickey!

Made from grape syrup, sprite and fresh limes, poured over crushed ice, it is the ultimate summer treat.

And it just so happened that they were having a special:  a large Lime Rickey for .99 cents. We stopped and bought one for each of us to enjoy on our two-hour drive to Provo.


On Thursday morning Toby dropped Grace, Molly, Rusty and I off at the BYU campus for a college tour. While we were touring Toby was able to drive around his old stompin’ ground with the little boys and show them  where he served a mission when he was 19 years old.


When we arrived we were assigned a student tour guide who took us by golf cart around campus.


The kids all received a BYU t-shirt and a folder of information about the school.


While we toured the campus we kept our eyes open for many of our Pittsburgh North friends who are attending school there, but didn’t spot anyone we knew. It wasn’t surprising since there are 30,000 students on campus.


This was our second college tour on this road trip, but the 5th college tour for Grace. It was a beautiful campus but didn’t have the same feel that we loved about BYU Idaho. It was good to tour it, and get a feel for the campus and the school, and they had so much to offer…


but it doesn’t feel right for Grace.

We will see what she decides. Application dates are looming and she will need to start praying about where the Lord wants her to go, but it seemed to me that BYU isn’t at the top of her list.

We will see.

After a good visit to northern Utah it was back on the road again. We will be returning to Utah in a couple weeks to tour the National Parks of southern Utah,

But for now…

California, here we come!

Next Stop: Yosemite National Park





Swimming with Sea Monkeys in the Great Salt Lake



Never did I think I would utter the words,

“I spent the afternoon swimming with sea monkeys.”

As a child I had sporadic success as a sea monkey owner. That didn’t discourage me from trying, though. The packaging of the smiling, waving sea monkeys on the store shelf were too much to resist, so even with the experience of previous failed attempts of raising sea monkeys on my bedroom dresser, I would try again, certain that this time would bring better results.


Sometimes they would hatch and it was always a thrill to sit and watch these alien looking creatures swim around in their plastic tank, but all to often the experience ended in weeks of longing looks into an empty tank before I would eventually give up hope and toss the kit in the garbage.

Even after 20 years of advancements in technology and quality control, things have not improved at all in the area of sea monkey husbandry. My own children have relived the same marketing pull and deep disappointment of unhatched sea monkey eggs and empty plastic tanks. After countless allowance dollars spent and multiple attempts at raising sea monkeys, my kids have never actually seen a hatched sea monkey.

Sea monkeys are actually brine shrimp. The marketing of brine shrimp as sea monkeys is a special kind of genius. Here is how they work:

“A colony is started by adding the contents of a packet labelled “Water Purifier” to a tank of water. This packet contains salt, water conditioner, and some brine shrimp eggs. After 24 hours, this is augmented with the contents of a packet labelled “Instant Life Eggs”, containing more eggs, yeast, borax, soda, salt, some food and sometimes a dye. The Sea-Monkeys that hatched from the original eggs seem to appear instantly. “Growth Food” containing yeast and spirulina is then added every few days.”

Sea monkeys, or brine shrimp, thrive in a highly hypersaline environment like that of the Great Salt Lake. Four times saltier than the ocean, the Great Salt Lake is considered an extreme environment that supports few forms of life. The exceptions to that rule include the ever abundant brine flies and brine shrimp:

b) Brine Flies

Due to our terrestrial nature we notice the huge, coal black clouds of flies on the lake shore. We are often annoyed by their presence and fail to realize just how important they are to the aquatic ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake. These flies and their larvae & pupae support an enormous number of shorebirds.

a) Brine Shrimp

In the late 19th century, various investigators identified the brine shrimp as Artemia salina or Artemia gracilis, however, more recently they have been named Artemia franciscana (the same as the one in San Francisco Bay). Brine shrimp (also called “Sea Monkeys” by aquarium enthusiasts and aquaculturists) are Crustaceans that have about 15 larval molting stages ( their larvae are called nauplii) before they become full adults of about 10 mm. .

Yesterday the kids were able to see what those sea monkey eggs should have hatched into that they spent their hard-earned allowance money on in childhood. Not only were they able to see sea monkeys, they were also able to swim with them!

They weren’t as thrilled with that, but they didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to swim (and float) in the Great Salt Lake, so they joined millions of sea monkeys and took to the water to swim in “shrimp soup.”


The Great Salt Lake is a natural wonder of the world. The high concentration of salt, due to water flowing into it but not out of it makes it one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world.


We pulled into the Great Salt Lake state park where we paid 3.00 for the bus to enter. This meant we only paid .50/ each to float in the Great Salt Lake. What deal!


After speaking with the rangers, and learning a little bit more about the lake, the kids and I headed back to the bus to put on swim suits.


The rangers warned us about the flies and the shrimp but told us that if we could brave those two elements we would be able to experience the unique sensation of extreme  buoyancy found only in hypersaline water due to the increased density.


The kids worked their way into the water and eventually took the plunge.


I waded out with them but Toby chose to stay on the shore. As a result he became the official towel/hat/shoe holder. 🙂


It was fun seeing the looks of astonishment and delight on the kids’faces as the water supported their body weight on the surface of the water.


Even my kids with minimal body fat, that usually are unable to float, stayed atop the water. Rusty exclaimed, “Boy, I wish I could take my Boy Scout swimming test here!”


They all had fun trying out different floating positions and yoga poses as they were supported by the water.


They were even able to sit cross-legged and remain upright as the waves bounced them along.



After an hour of floating we had everyone get out to dry off. The dry desert heat evaporated the water from our skin almost instantly, leaving behind a coating of salt that made our skin glisten. Rusty said we all looked like vampires with our glittering coating of salt.

Before we climbed back on the bus to change, we stopped at the outdoor hose to wash the salt from our swim suits and skin.


It was one of those unique, once in a lifetime experiences, that I never need to do again.

I can now say,

“I swam with Sea Monkeys in the Great Salt Lake!”