Cousin Camp and Activities

Cousin Camp has been an annual event for our family since the summer of 2005 – at least that was the earliest cousin camp t-shirt that I could find!  From 2005-2008, they were planned around our annual summer trip to Utah.  Since we moved here, they have been centered around our home in Cove.  This year, Pat and Katarina and their family were at another family reunion, so they only came for the Saturday and Sunday activities.  Most of the husbands keep working and do not take off work for the activities during the week.

Michael, Katie’s husband, planned some Olympic style games which kept the kids happy and active for several hours on Thursday late afternoon and evening, July 26.

Michael directing Olympic Games 2012

Our son Dan and his wife, Cheryl, designed this year’s cousin camp t-shirts.  They were Hungarian flag green and had “stamps” on them – one for Cousin Camp, one for Ron and Kathie’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, one for our Hungarian Mission, and one was the Hungarian Flag.

Spectators to the Olympic Events! See the t-shirts, too.

The child on Ryan’s lap was one of the six children who live next door.  Our grandchildren love these kids – so when they are visiting, the neighbor kids come over!  (Their father is a vet and some interesting animals live at their home!)  Matthew and Abi also in the picture.  And when you have 18 kids around, what is six more???

More spectators. from left: daughter Rachael, son Daniel, Cheryl, Camden, Daughter Jenivere, Yzabel

Friday, July 27th was spent at Bear Lake – a BEAUTIFUL lake in the next valley over (east of Cache Valley).  It is partly in Utah and partly in Idaho.  I used to think it was pretty barren looking but have come to love it…

Fun building sand castles!

Grant, Mary Emmaline, Noah and Samuel.  Noah and Samuel are 11 days apart…

Cameron and Aleya – 3 months difference in age

Cheryl, Dan’s wife, with daughter, Yzabel

Our daughter, Katie relaxing with daughter, Mary Emmaline…

Katie and her daughter, Mary Emmaline

Our daughter, Jenivere, was keeping an eye on the kids…  the water was lower than last summer.

Jeni – the pavillion in the background was home base

On the way home, a visit to the Preston, Idaho Deseret Industries resulted in great finds for Cameron, Aleya and Ryan – cowboy boots!  WAHOO!  And the prices were reasonable, too!

Ryan’s camera – whose feet?  Think it is Cami and Aleya….

Saturday – the twelve and older group went horseback riding up in Logan Canyon on a trail for 1.5 hours.  Adults, Michael, Erik, Amoz, Katarina accompanied Aleya and Cameron, who turned 12 this year, and Matthew, Bennett, Ryan, Abi, and Jacob.  The younger kids went over to the neighbors for some more moderate horseback riding on their property.

Amoz in the front in this picture

Beautiful scenery up in the Beaver Creek Lodge area of Logan Canyon.

With some foresight, I had cooked a very large batch of fried chicken the day before.  Also, dear friends had given us some Dutch Oven potatoes that was left over from the ward Pioneer Day dinner, July 24th at the Cove Church.  Add a green salad and YUM!

Cousin Camp over for another year… who will host it next year?  Some talk of going back down to Carlsbad, California beach – as in a previous year…

Horses in the garden…

When we arrived home from California, Ron discovered that the horses had found a way into our garden.  We thought we knew about keeping animals out of the garden!

Our experience living on the edge of a substantial forest in Maryland, was that a HIGH and STUDY fence was needed to keep the deer out.  Since our property adjoins High Creek watershed property here in Cove, we would not even start a garden without putting up a fence.  Ron got some 11 foot tall lodgepole pine poles, dug deep holes and put up graduated wire fencing around the bottom edge (to keep out small critters) and then topped it with a plastic-type wire for the top edge.  We did discover that the horses a cousin keeps on our property like to rub themselves against the poles, so Ron braced them with poles on an angle.  That lasted until we were gone for a full week!

Jacob, Michael and Ron putting up t-poles

Ron was tired and discouraged after an intensive 3 days at the MTC and the drive to and from California.  His inclination was to just forget the garden and let it be.  However, I was afraid eventually, he would try to do all the work himself.  It was providential that Michael and Katie came up early on Wednesday – instead of coming on Thursday during the day, like others planned.  So I asked Michael if he would help Ron and you can see the results.  They installed t-poles in between the lodgepine poles and put up a higher layer of metal fencing.

We were not sure if we should even plant a garden, but it seems there were so many delays with our mission call so Ron went ahead and planted some lettuces, onions, kale, carrots, early cabbages.  We thought that if we were around a couple of months, we could enjoy some produce.  And we did!  However, the horses really liked what was left of the cabbages and kale.

Lonely fragment of kale…

This was all that was left of a large row of kale…

But all this is a learning experience – with livestock!  (LOTS of livestock in Cove)  We spent tonight (July 30th) finishing off another row of metal fencing (above the other metal fencing).  We now have about 4.5 feet of metal fencing stapled to the wooden poles and wired to the metal poles.  Hopefully, the young couple staying in our home will want to garden – so they will keep an eye on it while we are gone…

Memorial for Fred

My sister’s husband died in February.  He was cremated and she has been waiting to have a memorial for him until one of his relatives was well enough to travel.  Luckily for us, we were able to be free of commitments and attend.

We left Cedar Hills, Utah on Thursday morning and drove all day and arrived in Placerville, California about 7 PM California time.  I had forgotten how large the Sierra Nevada Mountains were.  Very wide mountain range.  It was fun to drive through the Donner Lake area – these are our old stomping grounds as youth.  Ron and I spent many hours in this and the Lake Tahoe areas during our courting years – camping with his family and fishing and hiking.  As we left I-80 and drove through Auburn, Cool, Coloma, and Lotus towards Diamond Springs, the landscape changed to what I would describe as the typical foothills of California scenery – golden-brown grass-covered hills with sage-colored oak trees here and there.  Coloma was the site of the first gold discovered in 1848!  And these towns all feature buildings that imitate the style of the 1850s buildings.  El Dorado County has so many little towns from that era and is quite a destination tourist area these days.

Typical California foothills

My sister, Christina, had planned a very nice memorial for Fred on July 20, 2012.  It was held at her local Catholic Church, St. Patrick’s Church, in Placerville. Her pastor did an excellent job.  The church had a nice luncheon after the service for us.  There were about 30 who attended, many friends and relatives from the bay area where Chris and Fred lived for most of their married lives.  Their daughter, Anna and two of her children came from Antioch. John, their son, lives in Diamond Springs. Michael, our brother, came from San Luis Obispo.  Fred had one sibling attend – Jerry and his wife.  Fred’s twin sister died the day after he did in Utah.  Another sister lives in Utah and was unable to attend.  Also, our brother, Patrick, who lives in Florida, was unable to attend.

Kathie, Michael, Christina

It was a good time to become reacquainted with Ramona, Michael’s daughter, and her new-to-us husband, Martin.  Martin and I discovered that we share a love of family history and we did some Ancestry.com-talk! Martin and Ron had some commonality with art.  Martin is a fabulous pencil portrait sketch artist.  Also, it was good to catch up with the doings of our my brother, Michael.  He and Christina were adopted and raised by another family than Patrick and I, so we spent some time trying to fill in the gaps of knowledge about what happened and when.  Our father, Edward Patrick Kemmerling, died in 1972 before Christina found me in 1980, so they never had the opportunity to meet him.  Chris and I are so much alike – both raised as the oldest child – so it was like we were never apart. Michael is more reserved, like our brother Patrick.

Ramona and Martin

I am typing this on our way back home, Saturday, July 21.  Our daughter, Rachael, and her children left Laguna Niguel, California this same morning and are traveling to our house and will arrive tonight.  Since they are dropping their boat off at Lake Mead for a family vacation next week, I assume we will arrive home before they do.

Christina, with her two children, John and Anna

Next week’s activities:  Thursday – Saturday – Cousin Camp, annual get-together with fun activities for the children and parents.  Saturday evening our children have planned a 50th Wedding Anniversary Party in our local Cove Ward Cultural Hall.  We have planned a Family Picture.  Sunday will be our missionary farewell address to our family and friends and our Cove Ward family.

MTC – CES, S&I, CfYA

CES = Church Education System

S & I = Seminary and Institutes = Seminary offers religion classes taken by high school students; Institute offers religion classes taken by college age students – or any adults.  These programs are offered all over the world, usually taught by volunteers.

CfYA – Center for Young Adults

We spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in classes that concern these three entities in our Church.  We were given a flash drive with church manuals, lesson plans and other resources on it, two DVDs and two days of instructions.  We were also introduced to the Church Seminary and Institute website with other resources we are to use if we will be teaching classes.  (We are not sure if we will be actually teaching, but we are better prepared to do so because of this training.)  Some in our group included people being sent to Military bases to find and support young military men and women of our faith; others will be helping those who have received financial aid for education and training through the Church Perpetual Education Fund (PEF).

Class for CES, S&I, PEF, Military, CfYA, etc

The Church has set up several funds to allow us to donate to needy members and non-members – (with no administrative costs) PEF, Temple Fund (so members in distance places can travel to a temple at least once in their lives), Humanitarian Fund (that they use to pay for the supplies that are sent all over the world after tragedies – like ship loads of materials sent to Japan after the 2011 earthquake), Missionary Fund, so young men can go on missions, when they or their family cannot afford to pay for it themselves.  In addition to paying a full tithe, many of us pay a certain amount each month to these funds PLUS we pay our Fast Offerings (money that goes towards helping those in need in our own local areas).

Some of the things we learned in our classes are the following:

We should have the Spirit when we teach – D&C
We should teach the message that the inspired author of that scripture was trying to convey.  We should not teach our opinions.
We learned some methods in how to convey the message of the scriptures.

Inspired methods that bring the Holy Spirit into the classroom and the Holy Spirit is what convinces us of the truth of the principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ.  We used Luke 5:1-11 as our text for the class.  One simple principle in the scripture story of Christ calling Simon Peter to leave his fishing life and “fish for men,” is Obedience to Christ’s teachings Brings personal Blessings.  It was easy for us to relate to this scripture, as we senior missionaries have left our lives behind us, left our families, our homes, our comforts and we have committed to serve our Lord for 18-23 months.  We have already been blessed by 8 days of feeling the Spirit, which confirms our commitments and we know that there will be other blessings for our families to come.

We also had a Church Security person come and explain some of the dos and don’ts of being in a foreign country.  With our badges and suits and church clothes, we really do not blend in too well!

Elder and Sister Bell from Church Headquarters shared some of their experiences while serving on a CfYA Mission in Athens, Greece.  We asked many questions and learned that each area has specific needs and issues, so there is no one answer that will fit every area of the world.  We also learned that we need to follow the local Priesthood authority.  (We are there to SERVE the members not to take over their callings or to tell them what to do.)

Elder and Sister Bell also explained the process of how we are individually picked for our mission calllings. There are 17 various departments in the Church who all want various senior missionaries to serve for them all over the world.  The medical department looks over all the senior missionaries and recommends who goes foreign and who stays in the USA – according to their medical needs.  Then a committee tries to sort us into 5 or so of those departments with a ranking system.  Then a Seventy looks at their recommendations and revises us into a ranked system among those categories.  Then a committee of Seventies does the same.  Then our ranking is sent to the Apostles and they might revise our ranking even more.  Finally the Prophet makes the final decision to as where we go.  After this explanation, we really knew that we were sent where the Lord needed us!  There is someone we will touch.

A daughter of Elder and Sister Bell lives in our ward and is married to one of Ron’s second cousins.  (Ron is related to about a fourth of the ward – his grandmother, Eliza Lowe Allen, was a daughter of James Carson Allen, who had one of the original farms in the area where we live.)

Allen Barn, Cove, Utah

MTC – PMG

PMG – Preach My Gospel – the missionary manual which provided the main subjects of this past week.

I wish I could describe adequately the past week at the MTC.  We experienced that the Holy Spirit testifies of truth – even when you are role-playing a situation with your spouse!  We did various activities during the week when the Holy Spirit was very strong, so there were a lot of teary eyes in most all our meetings.

Last night we had a testimony meeting with the senior missionaries who were in various language studies (held in the evenings this week – after a full day of other activities).  Testimonies were borne in Spanish, German, Samonan, Indonesian, French, Russian and, of course, Magyarul, or Hungarian (hope I did not forget any).  So there was another teary eyed event.  Ron did his testimony perfectly by heart and if you truly understood how hard learning ANYTHING new (let alone one of the hardest languages in the world) is for him, you would understand how proud I was of him and how I was reduced to a blubbering mass.  The Lord is truly blessing us with special help – the Gift of Tongues, promised to us by our Stake President  when he “set us apart” (special Priesthood blessing) before we left for the MTC.  The Mission President also promised us this gift when he spoke to us when we first arrived at the MTC.  My testimony was adequate – I was a nervous wreck!

This week there were 102 senior couples – called to various missions of the Church:  Samoa, Alpine German, France, Indonesia, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, the newly formed Salt Lake West mission, Montreal, Monterey Mexico, Russia, several military base missions (Japan, London, and other places), Tuba City, Arizona (Navaho Indian Reservation), Florida, Hawaii, all over the USA – too many places to remember.  This was the second highest number of senior missionaries ever at the MTC.  Last week was the most, at 114 couples.  The Prophet of our Church has been asking the seniors in our Church to come and serve and they are stepping up and doing it!  Seniors are used to help support small congregations, help reactivate members who have slipped out of activiity, teach in the seminary and institute programs, work in the mission homes as office managers and work in just about any job you can imagine that might be done in a Church setting.  We have stepped out of our comfort zone – no sitting on the couch for us!  (Actually it is just another testimony of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)

This week our meetings were 8-4:30 each day, M-F.  We met in large groups each morning and then were assigned into small districts for small group learning.  Our meetings were run by 22 or so year old returned missionaries.  Our district had 4 couples and we had RMs teaching us also.  Their poise and organizational skills in presenting these lessons were fantastic.  It is not hard to fall in love with these darling outstanding young men and women.

Our PMG District – our morning teachers, Elder Barney (on right) and Elder Lystrup

Of course, we had our evening language meetings wtih Kyle, our major Hungarian tutor.  His parents must be so proud of him.  He plays the piano, has a wonderful singing voice, has a darling personality, smart enough to be studying Civil Engineering – what’s not to love?  We sang hymns using the new Hungarian Hymnusz konyve (book), that his wife gave to him for his recent birthday!  He was beaming pretty broadly when Ron gave his biszonysag (testimony) tonight.  His wife recently got a job teaching fifth grade at the American Heritage school.  It is a private school, run by LDS members in a nearby town.

So we said goodbye to new friends as we parted tonight.  Most are leaving for their missions tomorrow or Monday.  Some we will see at the MTC Monday as we go through  an extra three days of specialized training for our various callings.

Our PMG District – afternoon teacher, Elder Wozniak

MTC – another day or so….

Our second day at the MTC was June 26 and the three couples, the Carpenters, the Cummings and the Felsteds were are all meeting in a small room with a chalkboard, two tables for us to sit around, a large computer screen in the corner and underneath, a computer set up on another table.  The Carpenters left for Hungary July 3 – so they were further along in their language preparation than us.  The Cummings had bought the Pimsleur language program and were studying that before they got into the MTC, so they seemed further ahead of us also.  And Elder Cummings had a couple of other languages under his belt.  We were feeling pretty inadequate studying along side them!

Our schedule was as follows:

8 AM to 10 AM – two hours of instruction by a returned missionary (RM) from Hungary, who is now a student at BYU and works at the MTC to earn some money.

10 AM to 11 AM – Personal study.  We went off to the computer lab and worked on a missionary computer program with letter sounds, words, phrases and other things – all in Magyar.  The missionary next to you could be doing the same thing in Spanish or another language.

11- 12 – Individual study with a “study buddy” – this is a volunteer RM, who loves the language and volunteered to come in for an hour to help us. We are supposed to direct them as to what we need and want to learn.  Once we only had one study buddy for one of the hours, we were all together in a Skype lesson with him – and we learned a lot from that session.

Noon – 1 PM – Lunch.  There were not many other senior missionaries this week, so we sort of stood out in the sea of white shirts and ties and youth in the huge cafeteria!  Salad bar, wraps, combo line, three other food lines.  BIG PRODUCTION feeding all those people.  Cost $4.20.

1 – 2 – Personal study time

2 – 3 – Study buddy time

3 – 5 – Time with Kyle Smith.  (He was our Skype tutor.) Very special young man.  He was a Branch President in one of his areas.  Civil Engineering student.  The Spirit is very strong with him and he always starts with prayer and has a spiritual thought before the lesson starts.  He also outlines his goals for the lesson.

5 – 6 – Dinner

6 – 8 – Personal study

Today was a very special day because we were forewarned by Kyle to have our (very brief) testimonies memorized so we could give them to the 12 young elders who are going to Hungary in a few weeks.  We went downstairs to where they were studying and they were divided up so each couple were with 4 missionaries.  Then we bore our testimonies in Magyarul to them and they bore their testimonies to us.  VERY SPECIAL!  And then….. Kyle asked us to go outside and find some missionaries sitting on a bench – or walking along and ask them if they would listen to our testimonies.  Of course, they would not understand them, but hopefully they could feel the SPIRIT of the testimony.  Then they would bear their testimonies to us!  We did this to three sets of missionaries.  One girl was from Thailand and was learning English to be at the Temple Square in SLC.  So she bore her testimony to us in English!  Her partner was going to Italy.  I think this was the most spiritual day that we had so far.

To our friends:  I want you to think about 19-21 year old males and 21 year old females having this experience at the MTC.  If they are going foreign, they are there under a schedule similar to this for 3 months (12 weeks).  If going to English speaking missions,  they are only there a few weeks.  Then they serve for TWO YEARS, setting aside all worldly things (mostly).  When they come home they resume their studies, if going to college, or return to work.  They usually get married within a year or so.  Since we do not have a paid ministry, this not only trains them to be our future leaders, but they learn to rely on Christ, Our Savior and the Holy Spirit, as they search for those who are seeking the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What a wonderful system!  What choice youth that are being raised up for these end times.

As I was going through my emails tonight, this was in my mailbox (Church publishes these Daily Gems and I subscribe to these postings).  It expresses my thoughts above.

“We have implanted in our souls a desire to be free. The Lord understood this when He granted us our mortal probation. With that freedom, however, comes accountability. We are instructed not to idle away our time nor bury our talents and not use them. We are expected to make our lives better through our own initiatives and efforts.”  —L. Tom Perry, “Youth of the Noble Birthright