January 2, 2022

Darrel and I at Tower HIll

2021 was a wonderful year for us.  It has been a singular year filled with opportunities and blessings we had never imagined—in a place that has become dear to our hearts. Adam-ondi-Ahman will always feel like home to us because it has become a part of us, and we are a part of its history. We truly love serving here!

Darrel and I were assigned to burn the mountain of limbs gathered after the Big Wind. As it was crackling, with sparks towering above it in the twilight, another couple joined us with a final load.   I snapped a picture that made it appear that part of the fire was burning in the back of Ted’s pickup.  I shared it with the sisters and my phone rang immediately.  In jest I suggested one of the sisters had forwarded it to Elder Schwitzer and he was calling to get to the bottom of things.  I looked at the screen and the caller ID indicated “Greg Schwitzer.”   I’ve never received a call from the Schwitzers and I felt my heart flip and flutter a bit as I answered. 

It turned out to be Sister Schwitzer calling to report that they had received the “Jesus” plaque we sent with our Christmas letter.  They had seen one of the plaques in our home and observed that it is a powerful object lesson in many ways.  We ended up with an extra, so we mailed one to them.  She said Elder Schwitzer intended to use it in his Gospel Doctrine class this week. Truly, finding “Jesus” in our “Come Follow Me” study of the Old Testament this year is our quest. I’ve encountered the Savior’s power of Creation in a new way as I’ve studied for my class next week. The symbolism contained therein has deepened my temple experience. I believe if we focus on the types of Christ found in the OT, looking for the importance and safety of covenants, as well as God’s unfolding plan for the temporal and spiritual wellbeing of those in each story, our study will bring us ever closer to Him.

Tuesday the Sister deep cleaned the Diahman Center.  Like home you can only skim for a while before you need to scour.

Wednesday I picked Judy Smith up from the airport.  She was one of our 2020 missionaries, and they live in Gallatin.  It was a pleasant, rewarding way to start the day.  It’s been nice to have them close by.

Thursday was the sisters last day in the work center until the new addition is complete.  All the exterior work is finished.  We cleaned everything out but the computers, and will be indexing at home for a couple of months.  We plan to briefly meet each morning in the home of the one assigned to give the thought, so we don’t lose the close connection that provides. We expect to be back in a few weeks before the 2022 missionaries arrive.  

Darrel helped collect all the picnic tables and store them under the new Pavilion.  He worked on the road improvement projects.  He ran the water truck one day and put a new culvert under the road leading to Jameson. He hauled some large rocks to line the borrow pit on the way to Tower Hill.  We all had the day off on Friday.

Thursday evening we each introduced one of the new couple missionaries coming on April 6, 2022.  We are excited for their arrival.  They will bring an abundance of gospel and professional knowledge and experience. We are thrilled that a few have musical talent.  We’ve missed having a pianist and the beautiful voices of those who left in November.

We have been assigned to assist Edwin and Faun Taylor of North Logan, Utah. We left feeling inadequate to help them transition to missionary life here at AOA.  They have much to offer this sacred place. It will be a treat for us to meet them as well as the others.

We have a few heavy situations in our family currently, and by Thursday evening I longed to be in the temple.  Earlier that day I had helped one of the sisters check on available spots only to find there weren’t any.  As I sat in quiet reflection, the thought came clearly that there were two spots available if I would check quickly.  So I did.  The openings were on the 9:30 a.m. sealing session.  We took them!

On Friday we took 30 names to the temple for sealing work.  We were able to complete all but 3 couple sealings.  We’ll catch those later this month.  Two young couples joined us in our sealing session.  The strength and goodness of their spirits was evident in the experience we shared.  It was the respite and lift I needed.  We spent a little time in the Celestial Room before heading home.  I received some impressions there that have brought me peace and helped me understand better what it means to “enter into the rest of the Lord.”  Our circumstances did not change while in the temple, but my perspective and vision changed and that has made so much difference.

All the missionaries had dinner at the Corner Café in Gallatin from New Year’s Eve.  The Cox family, who farm and range cattle on AOA, treated us to a yummy pork chop meal.  Then we invited them to our firework display at the director’s house.  It was bitter cold because of the wind, but we enjoyed the best display I’ve ever seen on New Year’s Eve.

We awoke to our first measurable snow on New Year’s Day.  I also experienced my first Rose Bowl football game.  Any reason to gather with the other missionaries is reason enough.  We didn’t want to see the whole game, so we showed up an hour late.  We expected it to half-time, but it was only the beginning of the 2nd quarter!  Luckily that was the best one to see.  Who knew Rose Bowl games last four hours?  In the end, I was proud of Utah’s second-string quarterback, who had never thrown a game pass in his career. Yet a critical time in the game he stepped up and throw a touch down pass to tie up the game.  Utah lost due to a field goal in the last few seconds of the game, but they played well against a team many feel has the best offense in the league.

With the New Year here, I love the feeling of a new beginning. In preparing to make a few new resolutions myself I found a few thoughts I think worthy of sharing.

A GOAL IS A DREAM WITH A DEADLINE!

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

“In all the varied contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. It wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit! Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day-in, day-out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. It’s working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  

“When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?” — Brad Wilcox

“Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the ‘high priest of good things to come.’ … Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep.” — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

My we see the Lord’s hand in our lives each day in 2022!  Darrel and Karen Kenison

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