September 4, 2022

As we approach the finish line, we are experiencing more “lasts” than “firsts”.   Some bring relief and others regret.  Time is racing and the emotions we are feeling are very mixed.  Our approaching release date is both great and dreadful.

We started out our week with a mission visit to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Brother Jeffery Wingo was our host and guide.  We felt blessed to have him because he is retired military as well as a faithful Latter-day Saint.  His fountain of  knowledge and experience, plus his perspective were just what we had hoped for.  It would be difficult to overestimate the historical impact of this military base in U.S. History, but our focus was on the impact of this location for  those who marched with the Mormon Battalion and their families.   Five of our missionaries had relatives who were part of that singular group.  Darrel was among them.  His relative was Melissa Burton Corey, who was his great-grandfather’s baby sister.  She went with the Mormon Battalion as a wash woman so she could be with her new husband.  She was the only woman to complete the whole journey.  She had her first baby when the Battalion reached California, and he lived only a few days.  The trip back to Utah was treacherous, and because of her tenacity, there is a peak in the Sierra Nevada’s named after her. Her husband died of tuberculosis shortly after the birth of their 2nd baby, a little girl.  She became a plural wife William Henry Kimball, (son of Heber C. Kimball) and lived in Heber Valley running a pony express station, and was known for her delicious cooking. 

Those enlisted at Council Bluff marched to Fort Leavenworth to be outfitted and formally inducted into the military.  We stood on the location where a military ferry brought them across the Missouri River and felt humbled by the wagon wheel ruts still visible on the steep incline leading up to the military base. Col. James Allen led their march from Council Bluffs,  and is buried in the national cemetery there.  Perhaps the greatest impact of this march was financial.  When the troop arrived, no uniforms were available, so each soldier was given a $42 stipend for clothing.  The majority of that money was gathered and sent back to the exiled saints still in Winter Quarters. Parley P. Pratt successfully hand carried $6000 back to the destitute wives and children of the men along a trail known for robbers.   That money assisted in the saints’ journey westward and may have literally contributed to their temporal salvation. Seeing the Lord’s hand in the lives of the early saints is always a tender reminder that He is equally involved in our lives, although perhaps not in the way we anticipate.  We also enjoyed the monument to the Buffalo soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth. This nickname was given to the Black and African Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars.

I want to share a recent AOA miracle.  We’ve had an infestation of Japanese bean beetles this year for the first time anyone can remember. They can be devastating to crops and gardens.  The farmers decided they needed to have their fields sprayed.  Here that is done with a helicopter. The pilot’s schedule was especially full this year.  Ben’s son made the contact and was told the only day the pilot could fit them in was a Sunday.  Zac approached our director and asked if that would be okay.  Elder Dunford expressed that the farmers are responsible for how they feel it best to care for the ground they lease and so the decision was theirs.  Within a short time, Ben Cox came to Robert to apologize that the conversation had even taken place.  He emphatically said they would not spray on Sunday regardless of the consequence.   Although they eventually did get the fields sprayed, it was not in the recommended time frame for the best outcome.  Yet, Ben recently reported that both the soybean and corn crops are the most abundant he has ever seen.

Darrel and I visited with John Chadwick, a resident of Jameson, this week.  He was born Jan. 24, 1945, in the Barlow Home owned by his grandfather, Clete Barlow, at the base of Tower Hill at Adam-ondi-Ahman. T. Clayton Barlow, his uncle, is the man responsible for most of the photos I’ve seen of this area.   John is related to the Elmore Family who sold considerable ground here to the Church. His history here covers his entire life!  He lives across the street north from the old mansion of Dr. Graham, who John recalled was the community doctor.  He said the yellow house on the north corner of the block where the post office is located served as the community hospital. He reported that Dr. Graham is remembered for his willingness to perform abortions during an era they were hard to obtain. The history of this area never fails to intrigue me.  We hope to have John and his wife over for dinner and a drive through Adam-ondi-Ahman soon.

It’s been a tough week on the Elders serving here.  Elder Taylor had to have a rotator cuff repaired, Elder Snow was in the hospital overnight getting relief from a bulging disc in his back and Elder Neilson cut his finger vertically with a hedge trimmer. It split the bone at the end of his finger but missed any tendons or ligaments.   Had the cut been horizontal he would have lost his finger.  All three were at sacrament meeting today and seeing them has never been more wonderful.  Their presence was evidence that combined prayers are heard, and the Lord watches over His missionaries.  Elder Snow has to use a walker for a few days, and it was hard to see him looking so feeble. We love all the missionaries like family and have tender feelings for them.

We had another first this week.  We attended the NW Missouri State Fair in Bethany and experienced our first tractor pull competition.  I have to admit it was pretty awesome.  The noise, the smoke, the power and roar of the crowd were irresistible.  Seeing those tractors move a sled that weighs tons and is designed to provide more resistant with every yard traveled was impressive. Although I could never justify the investment of time and resources required to participate, I could see some similarities to life.  The owners take a regular tractor, study methods to increase its power and are willing to pay the price to achieve it.  Some of those seemingly regular tractors have engines that produce 3000 horsepower.  The drivers develop an eye for choosing the part of the track will offer the least resistance, and practice with precision—executing every detail to provide optimum performance during the competition.

Likewise,  those who take the package given them at birth, learn all they can about improving by accessing the source of greatest power, which is the Savior’s atoning grace do better against life’s opposition and challenges. Each has to be willing to daily pay the price needed to obtain it, then focus on and intentionally employ every detail learned. That is the formula for making the most spiritual progress in life. Seeing this process in another’s life is richly satisfying, but feeling it in our own lives is the essence of conversion and holiness.

Although in tractor pulls the speed they travel makes a big difference, in God’s plan for His children, their focus and direction are most important.  Steadiness and consistency are vital in the test of life.  We often hear the catch phrase “You are enough.”  After watching the tractor pull, if we expect to win or gain all that the Father has, we will never be enough unless we find access to the power of God.  May that our lot this week and always!

3 thoughts on “September 4, 2022

  1. What wonderful experiences you are having and have accomplished great things while there. Your lives will be forever blessed by your mission to AOA.
    Love ya!


  2. Wow! What a powerful report! Sometimes I’m just in awe of my ancestors and my parents! I’m related to incredibly faithful people. I love how everything can be related to gospel truths and principles. God and His goodness and truth are everywhere and as we take notice, we realize He in in literally everything! I love the miracles, they just further testify to me that God is very mindful of each of us, and is lovingly involved in our lives.


  3. The AOA miracles are always my favorite! Having more lasts than firsts is hard. It’s like reading your favorite story and you know the end is near. I know acutely how you are feeling. Do your best to ignore the future until it is square in your face and enjoy every last minute there! I love you both!!🥰


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