April 25, 2021: The men are busy every week. The director can’t quit smiling as he sees all that is being accomplished each day. Darrel worked at the old Ransom House all week. It is an older home where one of the missionary couples live. He and Elder Barker headed the efforts. They removed and replaced the kitchen countertops, put in a tile back splash and put in new Pergo flooring in the kitchen and hall. They encountered a bit of opposition when the PVC pipe under the sink broke right above the coupler. It took 30 minutes to find the turn off valve and the result was a lot of wet carpet. In the end, it was a blessing in disguise because new flooring was not in the plan before that.
The Sister made a trip to the Kansas City Temple grounds on Monday. It was a chilly day, but it felt good to simply be at the temple. The temple president and matron (President and Sister Hardy) came out and visited with us. We met the head grounds keeper, who previously worked at the Nauvoo and Washington D.C. temples. He invited us to come back and help plant flowers in about a week.
We were asked by Elder Schwitzer to discover our purpose for being here. I have been working on that since we got the call realizing that Darrel’s skills set is the main reason we are here. I found my purpose this week! It started as a simple request from the director to find when a tornado touched down in AOA. He suggested we search the many three-inch binders that hold the history. Of course, it was much faster to simply google the info and use the history to verify it. (June 7-8 in 1984)
While looking through the history, I felt immediate concern that some of the pictures are beginning to fade. I asked if they had been digitalized. The consensus was they had not been. I asked the secretary if there was a scanner here that could be used for such an effort. She said as she pointed it out, “Yes, it just arrived a few weeks ago and I don’t think its every been used.”
What I saw was electrifying and I had an immediate emotional response. It is exactly like mine at home, only three years newer. I spoke to the director about my concern and my interest. A few days later he asked me to meet with him. He said he had spoken with Elder Walker in SLC, and they agreed something needed to be done. I was officially called to head the effort to digitalize all volumes of history for the Church records. It felt like a dream come true for me and the Spirit confirmed I would be asked to assist before our visit.
FHE this week was inspirational and delightful. Raymond and Laura Weaver attended and shared their story of conversion from the Amish faith. Their story was featured between conference sessions recently and is still available at the link below.
They will forever come to mind when I consider the principles of courage, faith, conversion, and full consecration. Never have I meet two who were more sincere in their quest for truth nor their willingness to act on it without regard to consequence.
They shared details of their conversion journey for three hours and we wanted more. I will share some details that I loved that were not shared in the video.
- A customer and friend from the Mount Vernon Ward in Ohio, named Harry Proudfoot prompted a question from Raymond. He asked if Harry was of native American descent because he had always been curious about their origin. Harry said he was not of that descent but knew the origin of some of the native Americans that was contained in a book he wanted to share. He gave Raymond a copy of the Book of Mormon.
- The doctrine that most resonated with Raymond was the doctrine of the soul of man consisting of body and spirit. More pieces of his unfinished puzzle came together with understanding of that eternal concept.
- Raymond’s father is the Bishop of their Amish Community and was appointed at age 32. This offered Raymond many opportunities to visit with him before the actual shunning began. As his father and brothers tried to persuade him to renounce his recent baptism, he was given inspired questions in the very moment he needed them to stand his ground without contention and still plant seeds truth.
- Raymond and Laura’s efforts of secrecy were not completely out of fear. Raymond was guided by the Spirit knowing from the beginning that it was necessary to buy time to share the good news of the gospel before all contact with the community was severed by the shunning they knew would come in time.
- There was only one night Raymond felt the need for those teaching them to park their vehicles in the barn. It was a moon lit night and they learned later that his father and other family members returned from a trip late that evening and found Raymond’s goats loose. They actually stopped near their home and put the animals back in while a lesson and gospel discussion were in progress inside their home.
- After their baptism, the Weavers held sacrament meetings together in their home late at night, under the direction of the bishop, stake president and area mission president. All recognized the need for them to have time to reach others before word was out. The fourth family Raymond felt prompted to share their conversion with reported the news to the leadership.
Our adventures this week included helping Jameson pick up garbage along the streets to celebrate earth day. With 25 missionaries in a small town, it didn’t take long and was actually enjoyable. We had a full pick up full. Then the group traveled to St. Joseph to have lunch together. Some wanted to visit the Pony Express museum, but we had been there, so we went up the hill to the Patee Hotel Museum for a tour. It is the most amazing museum I’ve ever been in, and I’m not one who loves museums.
A taste of history: The Patee House was a luxurious hotel built in 1858. It cost $180,000 to build and had 140 guest rooms. It was the official headquarters of the pony express for a time. Then it was taken over by the Union Army during four years of martial law occupation in St. Joseph. Many war trials and convictions took place in the grand ballroom. It has also served as a girl’s college, epileptic sanitarium, and clothes factory through the years. Restoration began in 1965.
Yesterday we stuck around where we had good reception so we could be a part of our granddaughter, Amy’s wedding, and reception. We had made the decision before we left that we would not return for the wedding. We considered it just one of the sacrifices we would be asked to make, but it felt bigger when the day dawned. The thought came to join the wedding party at Payson Temple from Tower Hill. In the parking lot I had no phone reception. I told Darrel I was going to walk down, hoping to find a sweet spot. Sitting on the bench closest to the mound identified as the spot of an ancient Nephite Altar, I had enough reception to join via Zoom. It was a tender mercy that was important to me that day. We toured the reception with Janna and the longing to be home was replaced by a spirit of peace. Laura called later to report how lovely their day had been. It capped the day with satisfaction, and I let Heavenly Father know it was enough!
The Amish only meet in church every other week. Members take turns hosting church at their home. They only partake of the sacrament twice a year.
The Amish speak Swiss German in their homes. Children do not learn English until they begin school.
When a need for a new Bishop or deacon arises within an Amish community, private votes are cast by community members regarding who they feel would best fill that position. Any who get two or more votes become part of “the lot” considered for the position. The number in “the lot” is represented by a corresponding number of hymn books. A paper of ordination is placed in one of the books and each is tied shut and placed on a table. The books are shuffled several times by different leaders until none know which book contains the paper. At this point they believe the selection is left to God. The appointment of Bishop is a lifelong calling.
Have a great week! Lots of Love from AOA!