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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/

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.

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