What's New?

We witness tender mercies and mini-miracles every day as we find joy in pressing forward. We are immensely grateful for our time of service as missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Life and opportunities continue. See our missionary and life story in pictures by clicking here: http://rayc.shutterfly.com/

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Speeds Along

It's mid-January. It's been two weeks since transfers, and we are still busy trying to catch up on the tasks that follow. As we transition into a new transfer cycle for 2013, the next two transfers will last only five weeks rather than six weeks. We think we'll stay busy indefinitely with all this wonderful growth. We have a very large group of missionaries arriving in February (projected at 16 rather than a usual 8-10). About 50/50 sisters and elders.  In March, the fourteen arrivals will be mostly sisters, and they will be the first group to arrive after a shortened training timeframe in the MTC (13 days rather than 3 weeks and 2.5 weeks for those learning a new language rather than 6 weeks). Only seven missionaries are going home through March. All this means our Housing Coordinator will be very busy signing leases for new apartments and furnishing them. We're grateful that Bill and Ann Tewalt from the Snellville Ward have been called as local service missionaries. They will spend 10-15 hours a week assisting in mission office and housing work. The "younger" missionaries responding to the prophet's call for 18-year old elders and 19-year sisters will start arriving with our March and April groups. We are all very curious to see what changes and adaptations the age change will bring.

Elder Connors and Sister Connors oversaw the cleaning and preparation of office space for the Atkins, the new full-time nurse and specialist missionaries. Two poorly used rooms (mostly storage of outdated supplies) in the office are now a tidy office and book room. Sister Atkin has been busy with medical calls from the day they arrived on January 4. Elder Atkins is helping incoming missionaries make arrangements for bicycles which is becoming a full-time job as we add more missionaries and ask sisters to also ride bicycles. We've also helped him learn what is needed to manage and order the missionary supplies (books, pamphlets, and the like). The Atkins will take one leg of the airport runs during Transfer Week, too. When you throw in Sister Connors taking responsibility to implement the new phone system and hardware and networking a new copy/fax machine along with helping all the new folks access and learn the software, systems and tools, things have been very busy. Once we get fully organized in our space and everyone can work independently, we'll be able to offer first class service and have time to breathe and enjoy our assignments in a very rich and enjoyable way.  Next week we have the quarterly Senior Couples Family Home Evening at the Mission Home. There will be sixteen of us!  It's always a delightful, pleasant evening.

January in Georgia is a daily surprise. It rains like crazy; warms up again; gets gloomy. We've experienced heavy frost on the cars in the morning and wind chills in the teens. We've had several shirtsleeve days while hearing reports from home in Utah of 20-inch snowfall and near zero or below temperatures. We think we picked a good winter to be away from the Wasatch Front. It's winter there for sure!  Two Saturdays ago we took the Halls and Atkins in the mission van for a loop tour of the northern parts of the mission. We saw the mist hiding the waters of Lake Lanier, enjoyed a great lunch in Dahlonega, and looped through the foothills to Ellijay and back.

Last Saturday we traveled with the Atkins to a baptism in the John's Creek Spanish Branch. It was Elder Tarver's first baptism (we've taken him under our wing), and we promised we would attend. The entire service was in Spanish, but we totally enjoyed it.  We plan to attend more Saturday and Sunday baptisms on a regular basis.  From time to time we'll attend our Sunday meetings at another Branch or Ward. It's hard to believe we only have 8 months left, and we want to continue to bond with our missionaries at every opportunity and feel more a part of the "whole" mission and its work.

While it feels there is not too much else that is unique to report, our days are busy and happy. We had more sad, but Christ-like love filled, confidential experiences as more missionaries left for home this past month. We also had an awesome group of very prepared and motivated missionaries arrive.

After a few emergency tests to be sure Elder Connors wasn't having acute gall bladder problems, his health is stable. The tests were part of a frustrating, doctor had no news but sent us to the emergency room for extra tests experience. It felt like a classic TV drama. The hospital was over-crowded; his needs were not urgent, but he was old, with white-coat elevated blood pressure. A simple physician follow-up appointment after an ultrasound lasted from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.! Tests have ruled out all the bad things. He also saw a hand doctor who can't find anything definitive about his deteriorating dexterity. Other symptoms have settled down. We miss our Utah health network! At least we left the passing of a kidney stone this month to our son, Michael, back at home. Ouch! Old age or otherwise, we've resolved to postpone further non-fruitful testing until we get home. Through it all, however, we are happy and very grateful for the many blessings that have kept us safe and healthy and able as senior missionaries. We see the Lord's blessings and care every day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Memorable Winter Day

There is always so much writing to catch up on! We just completed another Transfer Week, bidding goodbye to eleven missionaries and welcoming seven. We also welcomed another couple in the mission office. The Atkins are from Frenchtown, Montana. We love them already. Sister Atkin is our mission nurse and Elder Atkin will assist her and help us as a specialist by learning and helping us improve many of our services. We continue to organize and gear up for a 50% increase in missionaries.

Today's entry, however, is intended to share a story of personal blessing. Missionaries are frequently counseled that their family will be blessed as they serve their mission. We express gratitude for the fulfillment of this promise every day. Yesterday in Georgia we enjoyed a balmy 70 degree day (unseasonably warm). Back in Utah, however, our family members along the Wasatch Front were digging out in frigid temperatures from 20+ inches of snow. They also participated in a blessing that was not one we anticipated when we left for our mission.  A long-time family wish was fulfilled. Here is the account we've pieced together from emails and a phone call from our son.

At 9 a.m. on January 12, 2013, a dozen or more Petersen and Christensen family members gathered at the Mt. Olympus trailhead parking lot on Wasatch Blvd in Salt Lake City to dedicate a plaque at the base of Pete's Rock. The plaque honors Linda's father, Christian O'Dell Petersen. The three-day storm made travel dangerous statewide. Brother Thyce was unable to get up from St. George, but Brother Ron had left Arizona earlier and arrived safely Thursday evening. He led the family as spokesperson while representatives from the Wasatch Mountain Club (WMC) and Salt Lake County led the dedication ceremony. It was snowing and about 15 degrees from what we hear. Dad's grandchildren braved the storm to attend and each shared a short memory. The family included Ron, our son, Michael, Wendy and family, our son, David, and Petersen cousins, Michelle Erickson and two of her children, Steve Petersen, Christine Petersen, and Laura Andersen. Cousin Vickie Smoot was also there. We are now anxiously awaiting a copy of the video Ron and television station KSL took so we can see, hear, and enjoy the happy occasion!

Our blog entry today is a thank you we emailed to Julie Kilgore, the Wasatch Mountain Club member who coordinated the event.  This entry is more a bit of personal history and an expression of appreciation for the work done by others. The thank you message follows this photo of the plaque. Generations have been blessed in a way we did not anticipate when we left nine months ago.

Linda Petersen Connors here. Thank you for all you have done to bring together the honorary plaque at Pete’s Rock!  It looks marvelous in the photos I saw today. Dad loved a cold, winter day. I can see his smile and watering nose now. (I mentioned to my brother how Dad loved Dr. Zhivago. He thrilled many, many times about the sense of cold in the movie and the crystallized winter scenes.)

My husband, Ray, and I are currently serving an LDS mission in the Atlanta Georgia area. We are sorry that we were not able to attend yesterday’s dedication, but our hearts were there with our family and community. Our sincere and deep appreciation to you, to the many within the WMC who have tossed around this idea for years, and to Salt Lake County for making this happen. Coordinating such an effort brings many challenges, and we see patience has resulted in a lasting solution improved by new technology, government cooperation, and improved perspective. Undoubtedly your professional engineering background helped you facilitate this wonderful result. Thank you. 

With our personal records back in Utah and missionary duties that require our full attention for most of every day, I had to rely on my capable brothers to represent our family and give you information about dad. I so appreciate and love them. I just learned by email on Thursday evening that family members would make remarks at the dedication. I’m sure Ron spoke well. Since I couldn't speak publicly, and for my personal record, I’ll make a comment here. If there is anything of value, please feel free to pass it along to Club Members and your contacts at Salt Lake County.

I am the baby sister who had far fewer opportunities than my brothers to be “on the trail” with my father and the Wasatch Mountain Club. As I grew into capability, my father’s abilities slowed. My brother Ron spent many hours with the Club, but has lived outside Utah since college. He passed along Pete stories and shared the family passion by facilitating mountain adventures for his children. Thyce, too, lived out-of-state for many years. His daughters were able to enjoy their early years around grandma and grandpa, learn of their active past, and take their turn at a make-hiking-fun experience craftily conceived by Pete as he took them hiking below ski lift chairs one spring to search for breakfast money. Our two sons were privileged to spend their full childhood with my parents, inspecting the photo walls in the shoe shop and hearing Dad’s stories firsthand at home, and as he patiently led us on many a family hike. Each of our sons has been inspired by their grandfather to explore mountain and trail and life, in their own way, with passion and adventure. Too bad we weren't able to get Dad to also share our family's love for the red rock and deserts of Utah, too!  He was an alpine man through and through!

In looking back, I don’t have as many specific Pete’s Rock and childhood trail memories as my brothers, but my parents’ obvious passion for the sport of rock-climbing, the WMC, and Pete’s Rock left a lasting impression on me. I enjoyed visits to Pete’s Rock mostly because of my parent’s enthusiasm.  My strong impressions are that it was not only about love of rock-climbing, and teaching, and a resourceful use of location, but about friendship and social ties. Pete’s Rock was a connecting link between valley and mountain, between working life and avocation, between friend and stranger.  My more frequent experiences with Dad were on the hiking trail where he shared his love of mountain and his associations with the Wasatch Mountain Club. The connections he described on these outings were more of those between man and God.

Pete and Pinky (as the Club members knew my mom) passed away just three months apart from each other in 2001 and early 2002.  I recall my cousin, Vickie, contacting me after their death when she learned the county was considering removing the climbing route numbers painted on the rock. I immediately wrote Salt Lake County with my concerns. The concerns were not because the numbers were on “Pete’s” Rock, but because the rock and its numbers and story of how they were used and taught are history; they stand as tribute to a generation of recreational pioneers. I wasn’t sure anyone would care at that point in time, and after a very stressful year, I had energy to do no more than share my opinion. 

Time has passed, and someone else has cared. Thank you. Thanks to the Wasatch Mountain Club for continued community outreach. Thanks to Salt Lake County. Thanks for sharing the story of Pete’s Rock with future generations of outdoorsmen and passers-by.