We didn’t get far from home this week by choice. There is so much right here that offers satisfaction, peace, and true joy, that we’re pretty content to simply enjoy it.
Monday a few West Mountain friends from Utah stopped by while on a Church History tour. It was fun to watch Darrel and his old buddies reunite here because it meant they were “still his brethren in the Lord.” (Alma 17:2) We met Melvin Meredith, Gary Degraw, Rudy Ekins and their spouses at the East overlook and enjoyed hearing the tour guides insightful comments about Adam-ondi-Ahman. That evening the AOA Elders and Sisters gathered for a fun FHE to make tie-dyed items for the Jameson Christmas fair.
Many of the Jameson residents are very poor. This fair provides donated items to create a “store” where the children can come and “purchase” gifts for their families. None of the gifts cost more than a dollar. Dollar bills are provided for the students who have no personal money at all. This is an event that brings the Christmas Spirit to those serving far from their families and is a highlight of every Christmas season.
Wednesday was my day to help at the Seventh Community Center. As busy as we were, I noticed a change in atmosphere when “Adam” dropped in. I recognized him without introduction, and I can say, if he was in the Garden of Eden he was not Adam. I felt the need to get a picture so all at AOA would be familiar with him if or when he makes his way over.
Sister Dabb had earlier mentioned that she needed a few more photos of the ladies who operate this center for the 2021 AOA video she is making. She had forgotten her purse and phone, so this offered a perfect opportunity for me to “take some pictures” for her. I openly spoke to her as I took pictures for “her project.” As you can see, I was close enough to get a few of “Adam” to send to our group for future reference with little attention drawn to the effort. We were able to share our backstory with the ladies at the center, which we hope will be helpful to the center and Pastor Nelson moving forward.
I was touched with how kind Cyndie (the one in the picture) was to “Adam”, although he had none of the required paperwork and requested a car and hiker’s backpack in addition to the food he was given. Cyndie was perceptive enough to sense that something was unsettling in his demeanor and presence, yet she treated him with dignity and respect. She kindly explained that they didn’t have a hiker’s backpack and lacked the resources to provide cars, but what they did have she shared generously.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how easy it is to understand the concept of kindness. Children can easily identify what is kind and what is not, yet we struggle with it as a society. I did a quick study of kindness in the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets this week. I think I like what Elder Wirthlin taught best of all.
He said, “Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes. Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.
“Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. (Whether in their presence or not.) The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words—these things are noticed by others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and in our homes.” (I truly want others to know that their name is safe with me.)
“The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father. Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another. We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. May we be models of kindness. We can never afford to be cruel or indifferent or ungenerous because we are all connected, even if it is in a pattern that only God sees.”
Wednesday afternoon I finished my nine-patch quilt. It felt like a true victory! Katie had machine embroidered the names of each sister serving at AOA on strips to include in the border of my quilt. They arrived the day before, so I seized the day and got it done. What a relief it was to drop it off on Thursday to Shelly, a business owner in Jamesport with a quilting machine and lots of experience.
Friday and Saturday offered a Quilter’s Birthday Bash in Hamilton. I didn’t need to go because Jenny greeted us at the Work Center on Friday. Her presence made quite a stir among the sisters that morning although it was just a life-sized, cardboard image. I smiled at where it was by scripture study that evening. One of the Elders hoisted Jenny to a prominent position overlooking the shop.
Last evening, we met with a few other missionaries (One had family visiting from Utah) at “the beach”. We sat around a bonfire and enjoyed talking and laughing until way after dark. The weather felt like Utah and sitting around a fire brings many tender feelings and memories for me. It felt like the good old days!
Friday and Saturday were also Heritage Days in Jamesport with a craft fair at a near-by Mennonite Creamery. Darrel and I drove over to enjoy both during the day on Saturday. I am ever amazed at the creative, ingenious things people come up. Those here seem to have a corner on it! I only made one purchase, so we felt the day was good.
Darrel had a productive work week. Four days were spent helping prepare to pour and then pouring concrete for the new 24 ft. X 40 ft. pavilion. His team got the sidewalk in and half of the slab poured. The forms are ready to pour the final half next Tuesday. All the wood for the project will be milled here from wood grown at AOA. It will be a lovely gathering place for groups who are here on hot or rainy days. The fifth day he took the water truck around to water trees and flowers.
My assigned history scanning project is coming along. I am hoping to have it completed so those serving can take a jump drive with the entire history home with them. Mathematically it is doable.
Today we learned that one of the couples was released yesterday because of health concerns. Bill and Judy Smith broke the news in sacrament meeting today. Our leadership saw it coming, but it was a bombshell for me. It’s amazing how much love you can have for someone you’ve only known for six months. Gratefully, they are the couple from Gallatin and will be invited back for our “So Long” dinner in October.
We had Ryan and Lark Hobley, our directors over for lunch. It was a treat to get to know them a little better before they head home. They have directed things here so well.
We have no doubt next week will be wonderful for us. Hope it’s wonderful for you as well!
Our love: Elder and Sister K.
Fun facts from AOA history.
AOA got internet for the first time in June 2005.
Lightning struck miles apart, twice on the same day at AOA, August 19, 2005.
An Elder serving had a heart attack that required open heart surgery in December 2005. He recovered here and continued to serve.