Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our visit to Utah

Stained glass window in the Church History Museum
We started off our trip with a stop at the Far West temple site and Adam-Ondi-Ahman, both sacred sites for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. On arriving in Utah, we had attended a Felsted reunion (descendants from Darlene’s paternal line) in Springville, several family visits with the Farmer side of the family (my brother and sister, nieces and nephews, etc.), visits with returned missionaries who served in Mongolia and others connected to Mongolia, and visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

This week we are on to northern Utah to visit our daughter Trista and her family, and Darlene’s brother and sister-in-law, Ron and Kathie Felsted, who served a mission in Hungary concurrently with our mission. We will also go to St. George, Utah to visit Darlene’s uncle Jay Taylor, age 95, and have a get together with family members of missionaries serving in Mongolia. That portion of our visit to Utah will be in the next blog.
Adam-Ondi-Ahman - beautiful, pristine, and peaceful
Adam-Ondi-Ahman. We found a neat Amish store near Adam-Ondi-Ahman and bought a number of items Darlene had been looking for since being in our home.

Here is an explanation of the significance of the site.
We also visited the Far West temple site dedicated just prior to the Latter-Day Saints being driven out of Missouri in 1837.

Temple site at Far West Missouri

Felsted reunion. While we were in Mongolia, one of Darlene’s cousins showed an interest in Felsted Family History and the two of them help organize a family reunion for this August.
Darlene and Julie Wilson, the organizers, comparing family history records
It was held in a church bowery and included a potluck meal.
From left to right - Raymond K., Effie Lou, Peter, Darlene and Darlene's brother, Ron
Five of the seven Felsted cousins were able to make the reunion and children and grandchildren from all seven family were able to attend.
Ron and Kathie Felsted with their son Patrick and daughter-in-law, Katarina
This was the first reunion of what promises to be many more such reunions. The meeting was fun and also significant in terms of moving family history along as well strengthen family bonds.
My brother Larry at the grill
Farmer family events. Rick and Cathy Jones, (Cathy is my niece) received a mission call to serve as farm managers managing and maintaining church farms in England. We attended their farewell talks at church and then enjoyed a gathering of friends and Farmer family relatives who came to wish them well.
Family gathering Larry and Katie are at opposite ends of the table
My brother Larry and his wife Katie hosted a couple of family meals in which several family members were invited.
Beautiful sunset as viewed from Larry and Katie's backyard
More of their beautiful garden and landscaping
We exchanged thoughts and feelings about Ukranian freedom with Larry and Katie's son-in-law. He had some amazing stories to tell as he is in constant communication with his family and friends in his homeland.  

Larry's son-in-law, Vasil Osipenko, a Ukranian patriot
On each occasion we gave our presentation of our mission to Mongolia. Mongolia is a fascinating country and captures most people’s imagination and curiosity.
Alan and LaNice Groesbeck - just back from Mongolia
Meeting compatriots who served with us. We were extremely fortunate to be able to attend the homecoming meeting for the Groesbecks – some of our good friends we made in Mongolia. Other returned missionary couples were able to be there as well.
From the left - Sis. Briggs, Clark, the Richardsons, the Groesbecks, the Farmers, and Bradley Warner - our Mongolian teacher via Skype
We heard the Groesbeck’s mission report and then attended a get together in their back yard. Our mutual experiences together produced a strong bond – a love for each other and a love for Mongolia and its people.
From L to R - Sisters Richardson, Briggs, Groesbeck, and Farmer
The next day we had lunch with former mission president Jay Clark and his wife Pat.

We had a three hour conversation exchanging memories and thoughts about our time together in Mongolia. It was a lovely visit.

Pres. Clark is now a Stake President of a BYU Stake
The next day on temple square in Salt Lake we met Sister Dulguunzaya who is currently serving a mission there.
Sister Dulguunzaya
It was fun to reminisce with her about Mongolia. We had her (mini-mission) in our home for a meal with her companion, Sister Largin.

We also had a great visit with Steve Nickle, head of records acquisition for Asia and Africa. We shared our insights with him about the progress we made in developing a joint project with the National Archives in Mongolia.

Angel Moroni in the Church History Museum
Other things we saw and did in Salt Lake. I took a few pictures on Temple Square.
Pioneer Home built in Salt Lake in 1847 by an early pioneer family
Seagull Monument
Darlene enjoyed her time at the Family History library.  

Finally we will leave you with a picture of the new temple being built in Provo, Utah.
The temple is being built using the old structure of the Provo Tabernacle. The picture below shows what it will look like when it is finished. It was taken from an artist's rendition of the completed temple.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Musings and more musings

Plenty of memories to muse about
It has been a while. I have been thinking about this blog and how to proceed now that our lives are not focused on Mongolia.
I will be starting a new blog, Musings in Missouri beginning mid-September. I will leave Musings in Mongolia posted on the Internet permanently.

Musings in Mongolia. This will enable those viewers whose interest is primarily all things Mongolian and help new viewers who are interested in the church in Mongolia to have access to the cultural/historical information available from our blog. Despite being home four months, the blog continues to attract 2,000 page views monthly from around the world.

From time-to-time we get news and information from Mongolia that we can update on the blog. For example, during our upcoming visit to Utah we will have opportunities to meet former missionaries and friends that served in Mongolia or who have children who are serving there. Also we also receive emails from Mongolia with news and information of interest about events in Mongolia and also church news in Mongolia.

I will be putting together a book about our mission to Mongolia and will announce its availability on Musings in Mongolia. Part of the book will be about the customs, culture and landscape of Mongolia that hopefully will have coffee table quality.

Part of this book and/or perhaps a second book will document the history of our mission to Mongolia and elaborate more on the spiritual aspects of our journey there.

Home Sweet Home
Our plans. It looks like we will be staying put for a couple of years before making ourselves available for another mission. We want a positive experience with our children and grandchildren and to build bonds before embarking on a new mission.

We find opportunities to be helpful and serve our children and their families. We continue to grow our relationships in the process.

What have we created? It can be a bit overwhelming at times.
We will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

Going down life's path together

This is once in a lifetime chance to have this very meaningful time with friends and family.

Skyping with Tyler and April in Okinawa - four daughters and 2 granddaughters in the photo
Also our son Tyler and his family will be moving to Australia next May and naturally we want to go there and visit their family. That is a powerful incentive to travel to Australia and see another part of this world that is off the beaten path – for North-Americans that is.

We want to serve again. I will be making a concerted effort to learn Russian so I can be useful in relating to Russian speakers a gospel context. Darlene is already there.

Musings in Missouri. This blog will be about aspects of our lives that are not related to Mongolia. This will be a communication link for our family and friends.
I was also an advice columnist for the general public for 28 years.  My audience was primarily Midwestern and rural.

I am not going to restart that weekly obligation of writing for the public (heavens no! – I enjoy my freedom from stress too much) but I will occasionally use the blog to make observations on relationships, culture, politics, trends, and concerns as I see changes in our world today. 

We are unsettled by the rapid social changes that threaten the viability of marriage, family life and the coarseness of our culture and media making raising of children with values and character more difficult.
I will provide a link to my past writings archived at and make available books I written to the public. I will be  making major changes to my website during our visit to Utah.
I will continue to focus on my goals and define what I will do with Musings in Missouri during the next month.
In writing a blog, I discovered the power of photography in telling a story. I love photography but I am an amateur who was fortunate to have Mongolia for subject matter. Now the challenge is greater. Where do the stories and photography come from in our somewhat ordinary lives? 

How about being a storm chaser?
 I don’t want to be boring so who knows where this will go.  

Landscaping in front of barrier on our hillside

Current living.  Moving and settling in took more than a month but it is satisfying to have our routine and comfortable surroundings back. We aren't comfortable with a vagabond lifestyle. We are rooted here in Missouri once and for all.

We also like travel and adventure (in moderation). We like service. (I have been called as a marriage and family relations teacher in our local congregation 
My new calling
- Darlene as a substitute organist and as a Family History Consultant). 
We like learning. We both like landscaping and gardening.

Our landscaping in the middle of our Cul-de-Sac 

We like to be productive with our time – Darlene continually and myself most of the time. How we use our time will be the next big challenge we face.
Is this what we want to do with our time?
That is probably enough musings for one day.