June 14-June 20, 2021

Here’s hoping all the dedicated, hard-working, faithful fathers everywhere feel loved and appreciated today.  A quote that I recently found that Darrel burned into three wooden plagues stated, “Father is the noblest title a man can be given.  It is more than a biological role.  It signifies a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend and ultimately a perfect being.” Elder Robert L. Backman

We had President and Sister Freestone speak in our sacrament meeting today.  They served as Mission President and Mom in Greece!   They will be part of the new temple presidency here beginning in August.  What a treat to share their experiences, messages, and spirit.  Today was my last day to teach the “Come Follow Me” Sunday School lesson for this rotation.  I won’t miss the pressure, but I’ll certainly miss the preparation. Perhaps the single most profound conclusion from my study this week was repentance is the way we access the Savior’s Atonement to heal the pain and consequences of our own wrong choices and sins.  Forgiveness is the way we access the Savior’s Atonement to heal the pain and consequences caused us by another’s wrong choices and sins.  

Following our meeting block the sisters prepared a meal to honor the Elders.  We sang the song, “Grow Old Along With Me,” and then presented them with matching denim aprons from fabric given to us by one of the sweet ladies from the Seventh Day Adventist Community Center.  We felt it was a success.

It’s been unusually hot and dry here, so no mowing was done this week.  It’s a bit alarming to see dry spots in the grass and fields of corn with curled leaves.  The farmers here have no way to irrigate but by rainfall. They are never more than two weeks away from a drought.  Perhaps that’s why there are so many believing Christians here.  There faith reaches deep into their profession. Gratefully, we’ve had an unexpected storm during the night that dropped over an inch of rain. 

President Freestone owns a farm in this area and remembered a similar time in the past. While in the temple one day he pleaded for rain and asked what it was he needed to learn.  He was instructed that he was praying for the wrong thing.  A scripture came to his mind. Alma 34: “Cry unto Him over the crops of your fields, that they may increase.”  He prayed differently from that day on realizing that God does not need rain to provide increase in your fields if He sees fit.  They found a miracle occurred that summer in his fields when it did not in those around him. He said that even his Baptist partner recognized that God had provided increase in their fields although inadequate rain fell.   We recommend that we change our prayers as well.  The Lord can provide increase in the fields for the faithful!

Darrel on the roller.

Darrel has been helping thin trees at the pecan grove. Cutting them down is more enjoyable than running them through the chipper and grinding the stumps, particularly when it is 90 plus degrees and 60 plus perecent humidity. He still claims he hasn’t had a bad day since he arrived. The men watered rather than mowed this week. Darrel also ran the roller behind the grader on Thursday to pack them down and minimize the wash board found in some sections. Locals claim that the best gravel roads in the county are at AOA.  We like that reputation!

I helped at the Seventh Day Adventist Community Center this week.  I am humbled to be with these people who have run this facility for decades as volunteers.  They are efficient and thorough and have a genuine love for all.  It is a blessing to be a part of their effort on occasion.  We have passed our three month missionary training period and received certificates and a lapel pin or pendant as tokens of that achievement.  I guess that means we’re REAL missionaries now!

We had Friday off as a day to celebrate the first ever Juneteenth Day.  Since it is a Federal Holiday now, we were able to use it as a catch-up day.  Darrel put up a swing at the 4-plex and helped me scan the 1997 AOA history book.  We are approaching the ¼ completion mark on that project.

We are with Jerry at the Museum following a wonderful visit. He has a good Christian heart.

Our adventures on Saturday took us to the Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City.  This time we took three other couples along. What a treat that was to be there and run into one of the men, who was part of the location, excavation, and restoration this 1850’s steamboat. Jerry Mackey shared memories and stories from that treasure hunt.  He’s now 88 years old, but his mind and heart are still 55.

A bit of history: The Arabia was a side wheeler steamboat, carrying over 200 tons of cargo intended for general stores and homes in 16 midwestern frontier towns, that sank in the Missouri River after hitting a tree snag and sinking just 6 miles west of Kansas City on Sept. 5, 1856.  

In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons, Greg, and David, set out to find the Arabia along with two good friends, Jerry Mackey, a restaurant owner, and David Luttrell who owned a construction business. They used the tales of an old timer who had studied where steamboats had sunk along the river.  He was a quaint old treasure seeker himself who claimed an estimated 200 steamboats had sunken between Kansas City and St. Louis.  The men used old maps and a proton magnetometer to figure out the probable location in the middle of a cornfield. Then they drilled holes as if playing the game “Battleship”, marking strikes and misses with different colored flags until they had the outline of the boat lying half a mile from the Missouri River today, under 45 feet of silt and topsoil in a corn field. The Arabia’s payload was protected from light and oxygen and, thus, was remarkably well preserved. Lost for 132 years, its recovery in 1988 was like finding the King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River. The discovery was truly a modern-day treasure-hunting story at its best. In the winter of 1988, these five men and their families banded together to begin the adventure of a lifetime. The excavation took 4 ½ months and cost roughly $1,000,000. What they unearthed was the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world! When they evaluated what they had discovered they determined not to sell it piece by piece but share it in its entirety with all. The stories held in that cargo would fill volumes.

Fun Facts:

  1. A tiny “Frozen Charlotte Porcelain doll” was found wrapped in a black wool sack inside a carpenter box when the Steamboat Arabia was recovered. They were popular in the 19th and early 20th century and were used to caution children about vanity and minding their parents. The legend states the Charlotte this doll represents refused to wear her mother’s woolen blanket to a New Year’s Eve ball because she claimed it would wrinkle her gown. By the time she and her escort reached the ball, she had frozen to death.
  • One brooch recovered was a locket with beautiful wedding band still inside.  A pitcher found was a one-of-a-kind, hand made masterpiece from England that had won prestigious honors just months before the Arabia went down.
  • Elder Walker, the AOA General Authority director, has attended more temple dedications than any one in Church history.

May this next week find us a little better tomorrow than we were today.  Elder Bednar said that in the end that would be enough!  Thank you for your prayers!

                                                               Elder and Sister Kenison

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