Saturday, December 14, 2013



2013-12-10 18.48.19-1 We promised pictures of the Festival of Lights.  But our little iPhone just won’t do them justice.  This is probably the best one we got (left).  It shows the fountain which is right in front of the temple, with the lighted trees behind it.  The big tree with white lights is on the temple mall, while the colored lights are farther away in front of the Visitors’ Center.  2013-11-24 20.02.39

Here are a couple I took close up of the ornaments on my favorite tree in the Visitors’ Center. I call it my Angels and Shepherds tree.  Angels are on the top, and shepherds and sheep below.  Pictures don’t do it justice!

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NOW, to preserve some images for our memories, here are a couple Festival of Lights pictures from the web:

Christmas at VC

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What is amazing to me is the thousands of people who come to the temple grounds every day now since the lights were officially turned on December 4.  When we leave the temple after our mid-day shifts (1:00 – 7:00), there are lines of cars waiting to turn in, and busses dropping off whole groups of people, and a lot of volunteers with giant flashlights directing traffic and protecting pedestrians.  And the people inside the Visitors’ Center each night lined up to see the nightly performances.  And we are part of those crowds of people! 

Here are a couple more pictures taken inside the auditorium at the official opening of the Festival of Lights.  Helen Hanson, a 93-year old sister who still works in the temple, and who used to live up the street from me and my family in McLean, VA many, many years ago, got us tickets to that private event!  We felt very privileged.  Diplomats and their families, as well as people from the neighborhoods around the temple were the invited guests.  

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It is very different not being home for Christmas, with our big decorated tree and traditional celebrations with the kids and grandkids, but with all the beauty and wonderful spirit here, we are not feeling blue like I thought we might. I have said over the last few years that I wished for a holiday season without all the stress of baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc. Well, I’ve got it this year!!! What few gifts we are giving we bought before we left Colorado. Our biggest project was getting out about 100 Christmas cards, so our friends would know where we are! And now we are enjoying decorating with the cards we receive in the mail! MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jesus Once Was a Little Child

While talking about the amazing Visitors Center, I want to record memories of an art exhibit that was there until the end of October. There were 21 paintings by a local artist named Rose Dall. She called it “Jesus Once was a Little Child,” taken from the title of a primary song.  Beside each painting was a description she had written explaining the symbolism she put in each one.  Here are some photos we took of four of the paintings:

 Flight 1

On the left is “Flight.”  It depicts the holy family’s flight into Egypt.  The cacoon shape of Mary’s veil symbolizes protection.  The solid visual unit of the family in white symbolizes the white worn in the temple and the eternal nature of families.      

Prophet, Priest, and King

To the right  is one titled “Prophet, Priest, and King.”   The title comes from the hymn, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”  There are three gifts. Gold is a kingly gift to the royal house of David and to the King of Kings. Frankincense is a priestly gift, which priests burned in the temple, symbolizing that the power of the priesthood comes from Christ.  Myrrh is a bitter resin, used for embalming the dead, and in healing.  It is a symbol of the bitter cup of the Atonement and crucifixion, and the sweetness of resurrection.

Young Prince in Egypt “Young Prince in Egypt”  That phrase usually refers to Moses, But Christ, who came out of Egypt, is the true prince of Egypt.  This painting shows him returning from Egypt and foreshadows his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Young Carpenter

“Young Carpenter”  Each tool in this painting has symbolism.  I particularly like the symbolism Rose Dall gave a couple of  them.  “The triangle and wood plane represent straightness and trueness in keeping covenants; the compass divider, in the hands of the Boy Savior, signifies that Christ is indeed the Creator of the world.”

Being in the Temple everyday, I am beginning to see many more symbols of Christ and His mission of redemption.  CHRISTMAS celebrates his birth!  The LIGHT we see in the eyes of children all around us at Christmas reminds us of the LIGHT of CHRIST, and that He once was a little child, too.  And except we become as a little child, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God!  Christ’s mission was foretold long before his birth.  We too came to earth with a mission – to follow Him and bring others to Him as well!  He invites, “Come unto me!”  That pathway always goes through the temple!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why I Believe!


Not a bad question to ask every once in a while.  Why DO I believe the things I believe?  How committed am I to the things I believe?  Every 3rd Sunday of the month, there is a fireside program in the Visitors Center auditorium called “Why I Believe.”  Several hundred visitors come each time to hear a prominent member in the metro area talk about why and how they came to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Before the speaker, three recently baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stand up and share their enthusiasm for their new-found beliefs.  Then they ask for any really new members in the audience to stand up and, when a microphone is handed to them, tell their names and when they were baptized.  There is such a feeling of love and support from the audience for all these new members.  Last Sunday night (Nov 17) was no exception. (This is a picture of part of the foyer in the Visitors Center.)

The guest speaker that night was Jenny Oaks Baker—WOW!  It was exceptional!  She is a renowned concert violinist and mother of four and lives in northern Virginia.  She talked about how through the process of developing her musical talents as a child, she learned many important Gospel truths.  During her talk she played several pieces, starting with “Amazing Grace,”  one of my favorites! She told about how she had been nominated for a Grammy award, and had walked the red carpet, but that nothing compared to the glorious feeling of worthily walking the halls of the temple dressed in white. Then she played “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!”  She talked about the tough decision she had to make when she was prompted by the Spirit that it was time for her to leave her position with the National Symphony, and be a stay-at-home mom.  Then her four children, ages 5 to 13, played an arrangement of “I Am a Child of God” on the piano, violin, cello, and guitar.  It was wonderful!  We can’t wait to hear Jenny Oaks Baker again when she performs in December.  I wonder if she will bring her 4 children to perform again.

Why do I believe????  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.”  (John 8:12)  When I am in kind of a dark mood,  all I have to do is put on a CD with hymns about the Savior, like George Dyer’s “How Great Thou Art,” and the darkness goes away—He is MY light!  I believe BECAUSE of the light!

Monday, November 18, 2013

It’s a lone and dreary world . . .


hoppy bugHave you ever seen anything like this????  I have personally killed several of them here in our apartment!!!  And yes, the picture is actual size!  Thinking it was just a big spider the first time I saw one, I got a big wad of toilet paper and went down to grab it.  Ha Ha!  It jumped up and away.  So I tried again, and he jumped again!  Good grief, crazy spider!  So I got a shoe and whacked it!  SUCCESS!  Next time I saw one I went straight for the shoe, and GOT IT first try!  Ed still hadn’t seen one, but told me I needed to leave them alone, since spiders eat other bugs.  Well, he should know that in my world, spiders, or any other bug, are welcome to be outside, but NOT IN MY HOUSE.  So I will keep a shoe handy! It wasn’t long before he finally saw one, and went after it as it hopped under our bed.  He looked and saw it stuck to the underside of the bed! 

Well one night when we were at the neighbors, someone mentioned something about hoppy bugs, and asked if we had seen them.  I was pretty sure I had!  So Ed googled “hoppy bug” and found out that they are not spiders, but camel crickets from the Rhaphidophoridae family.  They like dark places and their legs are sticky so they can hop up and stick on walls, furniture, (and under beds)!  He read that sometimes they have been known to nibble on fabrics, so Ed agreed that they weren’t welcome here.  Well, we saw a couple more, and Ed was successful in the attack using a fly swatter. 

We forgot about them until the other day, when Ed saw one in the hallway to our bedroom.  Out with the fly swatter, but the hoppy bug GOT AWAY!  And we couldn’t find him.  That night we had been in bed about 20 minutes, not quite asleep, when I felt the sheet tickling my arm.  I straightened the sheet, then felt it again.  Fixed the blankets again.  Then remembering the lost hoppy bug, I told Ed I wondered if he was in our bed.  No, couldn’t be.  Trying to go to sleep, but imagining sharing the bed with a hoppy bug, I thought I felt something again, and moved my hand across—and touched something!  I shreaked and threw back the covers and jumped out of bed and turned on the light!  (Yes, Ed woke up)  I searched the bed and the floor, but no sign of a hoppy bug.  Finally getting the courage to get back in bed, I tried once again to go to sleep.  No problem for Ed, but sleep wouldn’t come for me, so I got out of bed, turned a little light on to check for hoppy bugs on the floor, shook out my slippers just in case before putting them on, and went into the kitchen.  I decided if I found a little something to eat, maybe it would break the spell and I could finally go to sleep.  At this point there were only 5 hours of night left!  About 30 minutes later I headed back to the bedroom, and immediately saw this blurry (no contacts in my eyes!) image on the floor in front of our closet.  Without a second thought I pulled off a slipper and whacked the image.  YES!  It had been a hoppy bug, and I GOT him!  Into the toilet he went!  And back into bed for me! 

Sleep did come before too long, but not until I had laid there pondering what had just happened.  Couldn’t help but think about the “lone and dreary world” which Adam and Eve entered when they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.  I was pretty sure that along with the briars and thistles to torment man, there were also things like hoppy bugs!  The lone and dreary world is the world we live in today and it is all part of a loving Heavenly Father’s plan to help us grow, that we might know good from evil, and experience joy in this life.  That by using our agency and choosing to align our will with God’s will, we will be able to abide His presence when we have finished our work on this earth.  Sleep tight!  And don’t dream of hoppy bugs!




Sunday, November 10, 2013

Let there be light!


Tis the season for celebrating Jesus Christ, the Light of the World!  The lighting inside the temple is designed to remind us of the Light of Christ, especially in the Celestial Room.  We love to be in there to feel and ponder His light and love.  And now we are getting very excited to see the temple grounds all lit up for the holidays.  They call it the “Festival of Lights,” and it begins when the lights are turned on December 1!  The Visitors Center will also be elaborately adorned with lots of huge trees decorated in various cultural themes and an amazing crèche display. 

On Monday November 4, all of the temple missionaries got to play a small part in all of this by stringing lights on bushes and shrubs.  We did bushes and shrubs, because they didn’t want us up on ladders.  We strung thousands of lights.  On the taller bushes, the lights are 6 inches apart and on the shorter ones they are 4 inches apart.  The day started out cold but it warmed up by the time we were done.  We put up just a few of the 600,000 lights that people will see.  Most of them are put up by the grounds crew.  Stay tuned for pictures when the lights are turned on! 

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This is the 36th year for the Festival of Lights.  It goes from December 1 to January 1, 2014.  Every night there is a performance in the Visitor Center Auditorium by a well-known local group or individual.  Some of those performing this year are the Capital Carillon Bell Choir, the Mormon Choir of Washington DC, McDonough High School Madrigals, the Washington DC Temple Orchestra, Olney High School Concert Band, Jenny Oaks Baker, Rockville Swing Band, and Chinese Children Dancers.

Thursday, October 31, 2013



Here are some first impressions and observations of the first month of our mission experience:

BEAUTIFUL TEMPLE GROUNDS!  We drove straight to the temple before we even found our apartment—wanted to see it first, before anything else.  Summer flowers were still blooming everywhere.  Tall, tall green trees surround the temple and parking lot so that the outside world is invisible.  (Temple insight:  We leave the world behind when we come to the temple!)  Then early one morning, about three days later, we decided to WALK to the temple to see how long it took.  (Only about 15 minutes at a brisk walk up and down the hilly streets, but with no sidewalks, we decided it wouldn’t be good to do it every day.)  And as we walked through the temple grounds, they were digging up all the summer flowers! And planting spring bulbs!!  Then the next day when we arrived for our interview with the President, they were planting mums and kale and other fall-blooming plants.  (Ed occasionally nibbles on the decorative kale plants (both green and purple) as we pass by!)  This week the green trees surrounding the temple are all turning different shades of yellow, orange and red!  Stunning view from the bridge of the temple—the huge foyer area that goes from the front doors of the temple to the actual temple itself.  This area has floor-to-ceiling (20 feet tall) windows down both sides.  I love when I am assigned to be a greeter there!!! 

INSIGHT:  I want my life to be as well-cared-for as the temple grounds always are.  I should be gardening in every season to see what things need to be dug out and what new things can be planted.  This scripture was quoted in our preparation meeting last week:  Doctrine and Covenants 97:8-9  “All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice, . . . they are accepted of me.  For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.”    (see also verse 7)      2013-10-25 14.11.39                                                     

        fall colors                  

GREAT NEIGHBORS! Just like our great neighbors in Aurora!  There are 3 apartments on the lower level of our building where we are and our doors all form a semi-circle—so we call it our cul-de-sac!  And we even have cul-de-sac get-togethers almost every weekend!  Mostly playing a simple card game called 2 Up 4 Down.  It’s Richard and Phyllis Jones, Bud and Jan Hylton, and us!  It makes it easier to be away from our great Colorado friends and neighbors!2013-10-26 21.46.36-2

Our apartment is the one on the bottom

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HIGH-PRICED GROCERIES! What more can we say—we knew it would be this way . . .  There’s no ARASH grocery store!  But we did find the H-Mart, which is a Korean grocery store, and they have better produce prices—but no dollar bags!

MORE TRAFFIC AND HONKING HORNS!   We haven’t ventured out on the highways very much yet. We walk to the Safeway about a half mile away and carry our groceries home in our environment-friendly cloth bags.  Makes us feel so urbanite!  We can walk to the post office, too.  It’s closer than Safeway.  And to a Chipotle restaurant and a good Chinese restaurant right across from Safeway.  Can’t ask for more than that, right?  Our neighborhood is an older one, and most of the homes don’t have garages, so there are lots of cars parked on both sides, making it impossible for 2 cars to go opposite directions at the same time.  But the homes are so nice, and again lots and lots of big, tall trees!!!  I do love the East!

LESS IS MORE!  We are actually enjoying a simpler life style.  Granted, it’s not the sacrifice we would have made if we’d gone to a 3rd-world country!   But it’s been good without a TV, or a dishwasher, or 3 extra bathrooms to keep clean, or a yard to rake and mow!  We eat every meal together, do dishes together, pray together morning and night, and take walks together!  Now if we can just discipline ourselves to use our time in productive ways when we are not at the temple.  We come home pretty tired, and are tempted just to crash, or socialize with all our fun new friends.  But we want to spend more time studying the scriptures, keeping some sort of journal, and doing family history and more indexing on the FamilySearch site.  AND more time keeping in touch with our kids through emails and FaceTime, etc. There are lots of things we are learning by being in the temple five days a week, but none more important than the reminder that families are forever! The whole purpose of temples (134 of them operating all over the world!) is to bind families together and prepare families to live with God again!  We are so blessed to be a small part of this great, world-wide work!

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                         Hay ride

                   Ward picnic at the Pratt Barn. Bishop Mieremet behind us!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


On March 7, 2013 we submitted our mission papers to church headquarters, and on Monday, April 8 we received our mission call to serve in the WASHINGTON, D.C. TEMPLE! Six months later we are finally here! Keeping the temple in sight during that long wait was challenging, but we did our best to attend the Denver temple as often as we could, while finishing projects around the house and yard, and wrapping up Ed's employment at Home Depot. It was a bitter sweet feeling for him on his last day of work August 17.

I guess our mission began officially the next day, August 18, when President Richard L. Millett set us apart as missionaries. The blessings and promises we received were wonderful! Then ten days later we drove off in our recently purchased 2010 Toyota Camry. The Colorado good-byes to kids and grandkids were also bitter-sweet . . .

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We first headed WEST and spent 3 weeks in Utah – a great place to keep temples in sight and strengthen our FAMILY TIES. We attended the Jordan River temple, the Draper temple, and the Oquirrh Mountain temple! (How awesome it was to meet Jan McKinnon's sister there!) On Saturday, September 14, we checked in at the Radisson Hotel – with the Salt Lake temple in sight two blocks away!

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Lowe Ties

Great family ties here!!  Love my Mom and siblings!

Temple Quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon! (with Jillian, Corinne, and Grant)

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At the Jordan River Temple with Mom and Mirien                   Saying good-bye to the Churches in SLC!

KEEPING TEMPLES IN SIGHT was also our goal as we then headed East, stopping overnight in Aurora to reload our car (and see kids one more time!!) Before spending a couple days in West Des Moines with Marliese and her family, we went to a session in the Winter Quarters temple, and enjoyed learning about the history of the Church in that area at the Visitors Centers in WQ, at the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs, and from an amazing farmer named Bob Brown at Mount Piscah. Thank you, Tom and Marliese, for taking us there and introducing us to Bob! We were reminded that the pioneers' miraculous trek of faith was book-ended by the building of the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples. In spite of their trials, the saints' first priority (because it was God's first priority!) in each major settlement was to construct a house of God, where He could come, give His law, and endow them with power.

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2013-09-21 12.28.39 Winter Quarters Temple and Visitors Center

The next temple in sight was Chicago! (We forgot to take a picture there) We got there on a Tuesday afternoon, in time to attend the 6:00 session. The parking lot was almost empty when we arrived, and I was afraid maybe it was closed for cleaning – but thankfully it was not! There was one other young couple there (who had just moved from Colorado!) and one older sister in that session. We got to be the witness couple! We were surprised how unfamiliar that temple seemed to us, even though it had been our temple for our last 7 years in Indiana, and the temple where Mirien and Brian were married! It was sad to see how few members were there that day participating in the wonderful saving ordinances offered there! How easy it is to take our temples for granted. We are going to strive not to become complacent about the privilege of being guests in the Lord's house five or six days a week on our mission!

From Chicago, it was the Kirtland temple in our sight. We loved our day and a half there! What wonderful missionaries we met serving there, both young and older! One young sister missionary there is from a neighboring branch in the Vaughn's stake in Pennsylvania, and knows them! The Visitor Center director there, Elder Sorensen, is a good friend of Wade Fillmore's, having served with him in San Francisco, and also with him on their mission in the southeast US. Elder and Sister Sorensen gave us a VIP tour of the Kirtland restored sights. We were reminded that Kirtland was the first gathering place of the Saints where a command to build a temple was given. Even though they had to leave Kirtland after only a few years, they had been obedient and built a beautiful temple, where prophecy was fulfilled – the Lord came to His temple and they received God's law for governing the church there.

Elder Sorenson pointed out that the School of the Prophets, which met above the Whitney Store in Kirtland, was in actuality a templethe Lord's house, because he came there. Elder Sorensen shared accounts of many who saw the Savior and the Father there, and said ordinances were performed (washing of feet, cleansing with oil) there. He also said it could be called the first MTC – the elders were instructed there before being sent out to preach. Over and over in our training and in our travels we were reminded that power comes from ordinances.

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Sister Frankinberry who knows the Vaughns.              The Sorensens at the Visitors Center.

While we were this close to Lake Erie, we wanted to see it. After searching for about an hour, we found a state park with beach access. We got a picture of a lighthouse that was built in the 1900's. We met a man who was carrying binoculars and talked to him about birds. He said the warblers were out that day. He said he has been watching birds since he was a kid and has gone all around the world to pursue that interest. He said his world-wide species list has around 4,000 birds on it. His American list is over 500.

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   This is Lake Erie.  Can you see the little tiny lighthouse in the background?  Didn’t think so!

Well, who knew that Kirtland is only six hours from Washington, D.C.??? We were almost there – OUR temple was in sight! The five and a half month wait was over! We arrived in Kensington, MD (where the DC temple actually is) on Friday, September 27, at 5:00 pm, and before finding our apartment and unloading the car, we drove through the Temple parking lot and marveled that indeed this was OUR MISSION! We had arrived, and the temple would be in sight for the next 18 months!  Our first Sunday night there we arranged to meet Ken and Shari Knight at the Visitors Center for a concert.  Some great Indiana friends who are serving a mission in the DC North Mission.

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Tuesday, October 1 we were set apart by President Brian C Swinton, president of the Washington, D.C. temple. He and his wife visited with us for about a half an hour, then we were given a tour of the temple to get our bearings, and given our badges and our schedules. We will work two mid-day shifts (Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1-7 pm) and three morning shifts (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8 am-1:30 pm). It is going to be GREAT! Our fellow missionaries and temple ordinance workers are amazing – so friendly and helpful and talented! Now if we can just put the right faces with the names . . .

Today is Thursday, October 3 – our second day on duty. We are loving every minute! In our preparation meeting today and yesterday a quote from President Uchtdorf was read about how each of us is known by name to God, from his great talk in the General RS meeting a few years ago. Then the correlation was made that this is true not only for us right now, but for every person who has ever lived on the earth, as evidenced by the fact that the name of each person whose work is done in the temple each day is said multiple times, and each ordinance is performed individually, with several hours of ordinances for each and every one! I wish I could say it as beautifully as it was said today.

SO, AS WE START THIS BLOG, our goal is to record highlights of our time here, and share some of the things we will learn and experience on our mission – our temple in-sights!  We commit to serve faithfully!