“Wow” is a great word to describe our experiences this past week. Monday we were privileged to have Mike Denning with us for supper and FHE. Mike is a skilled well expert with a successful business in Idaho. He and his wife had hoped to serve at AOA after he retired from the family business, but she passed away suddenly last December. Her untimely death caused him to evaluate where he was, what was important, along with a desire to find a retreat from “the world.” As he opened his heart to the Spirit, he felt a desire to come to AOA and address the multiple well issues that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” have not been able to resolve. Of particular concern was well #10 which has been a best well in the past. This path required that he be licensed in the State of Missouri, which was time consuming and expensive. He and his brother took the final test the morning after they arrived with personal pump rigs and all the equipment needed to do whatever was required.
With their lifetime of experience, they passed the test with flying colors and within 24 hours, well # 10 was up and running at peak performance. His contributions here add up every day. His call here did not come from the First Presidency, although it was approved by them. His call came from God in an answer to his hopes and prayers. At great personal sacrifice he came and both his needs and those of Adam-ondi-Ahman are being filled simultaneously. We loved him immediately.
Tuesday and Thursday enjoyed being back together for scripture study. It was a reminder of how much we had missed that time together. The depth of gospel discussion is so stimulating, and we love what we learn and feel in that gathering.
Wednesday, some of the missionaries went to a KC Royals/NY Yankees baseball game. We could have gone, but an August afternoon at the stadium with a heat index of 109 didn’t appeal to me. I knew our son-in-law, Scott, would have braved the conditions and would likely be appalled at our missed opportunity. For his benefit I will mention that the “Dang Yankees won.”
We went to Weston, MO, with two other couples rather than the game. Main street reminded me Park City, Utah. They even boast a ski resort with three lifts and a lodge! We found it to be glorified tubing hill compared to Park City’s slopes. We enjoyed a barbecue lunch at the TIN KITCHEN, before visiting several shops. The silk art museum was fascinating to me because they used punch cards to create reproductions in silk strands of fine art based on the same principles used in computers today. The Polish Pottery and Taste of Ireland shops were wonderful, and we enjoyed our first of gelato that day.
Of course, we explored the farm and vineyard attractions around the city. We even bought some sheep milk cheese! The place that most touched me most was the old historic Laurel Hills Cemetery. There is a ravine that is the final resting place of the remains of 400 African Americans, who provided much of the labor that made the area blossom. Most were slaves and a few were free men. This cemetery was the only one in the area that would accept their remains. Most of their funeral services were held at night. They were buried in unmarked shallow graves with a few personal items. There was definitely spirit there that witnessed of the nobility and worth of those whose names were included in the recent memorial marker.
A Bit of History: Weston, Missouri was a significant mid-nineteenth century Missouri River port community, second only to St. Louis in size. In 1850 over 265 steamboats a year docked at the Port of Weston. The land upon which Weston was established in 1837 and is the oldest existing town built in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
During the early days at Fort Leavenworth, the United States government relied on Weston to accommodate the needs of the Fort. Officers, enlisted men, and their families ferried across the river for their personal trading and entertainment.
The farthest “West Town” in the United States, Weston’s heyday was between its founding in 1837 and 1860. The population soared to 5,000, surpassing both Kansas City and St. Joseph. Weston was bustling town for people heading west. It was the last place wagon trains could stock up before they crossed the Missouri River and entered wilderness. The steamboats unloaded supplies for Fort Leavenworth and supplies for Westward travelers, and then loaded back up with Weston products of tobacco, hemp ropes, hides, and later lumber, whiskey, and fruit as they headed home. A chain of destructive events brought change and devastation to the Weston area.
In 1855, fire nearly destroyed the downtown business district. A deadly cholera epidemic took the lives of hundreds of residents. The flood of 1858 crippled the steamboat trade for months and destroyed the port to Weston. The Civil War tore Weston apart, dividing its residents and ending its slaved-based economy. By 1870 the population was only 900 people. In 1881 the river slipped into an old channel 2 miles west, leaving Weston behind.
Today family traditions left behind by Weston’s early pioneers have remained a common thread among the residents of this romantic hamlet in Northwest Missouri. The population today is less than 2000.
Thursday the sisters attended the local quilting guild’s annual quilt fair. My appreciation of quilting as an art form has been born since arriving at AOA. Many of the beautiful quilts tell a story and have rich symbolism included by the designer. Some of our Seven Day Adventist friends were there and it was heartwarming to be greeted with such warmth and love.
Friday we all gathered at the new Duplex to celebrate its completion with a barbecue. Elder and Sister Steffensen moved into the south apartment on Tuesday! They have led project efforts from the beginning. There was truly a feeling of rejoicing over the beauty and shared contributions of this lovely new home for two missionary couples.
Sunday (today) we spoke in sacrament meeting for the second time. I spoke about FAITH and Darrel about REPENTANCE with no correlation. Both were well received. Darrel’s material came largely from a talk by President Benson. A review of that talk would be time well spent.
My talk was the result a long study of the principle of faith. Just a couple of points to ponder.
“Knowledge is to wisdom, what belief is to the faith. One is abstract, the other the living application. It is not possession, but the proper use of knowledge that constitutes wisdom. It is not belief, but the proper use of belief that constitutes faith.”
Thus, faith is always a product of application and choice!
Jesus taught, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove.” (Matthew 17:20).
Elder Edgley shared this insight, “I have never witnessed the removal of an actual mountain. But because of faith, I have seen a mountain of doubt and despair removed and replaced with hope and optimism. Because of faith, I have personally witnessed a mountain of sin replaced with repentance and forgiveness. And because of faith, I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope, and gratitude. Yes, I have seen mountains removed.”
For those who deal with trials that persist despite prayers and righteous effort, the following is insightful. “Christ, whose perfect faith had healed lepers, given sight to the blind, and raised the dead, and who had pleaded that his bitter cup be removed if possible—had finally been spared neither the agony of Gethsemane nor the pain of the Crucifixion. Christ’s perfect faith had not altered Gethsemane, but rather helped him to endure it. This truth helps us see our faith in a different light—not as an imperfect faith that is insufficient to remove our trials, but as a vibrant faith that can help us endure them. Not faith to move mountains but faith to climb them!”
- Sheep milk cheese is like cream cheese in texture and has a slight after-taste similar to goat cheese. Overall is not baaaa…d!
- Elder Kenison does the lunch dishes every Sunday so I can focus on our weekly blog post.
- One of our daughters asked if I could go for 20 months without burning something. The answer is not if I get a chance to do otherwise. I got to burn the AOA burn pile this week!
We love you all and think of you often. You are a part of every daily prayer!
Elder and Sister Kenison