Sunday, May 27, 2012

We had such a good time at Mammoth Caves a couple of weeks ago, the rest of our district missionaries wanted to go.  So we all went there on P-day this week.  It was a rerun for us but enjoyable to spend time with the Oakleys and our young district elders.
The elders had a great time and it was quite a diversion for them from what they normally do on p-day.
Part of the fun on this trip was riding the ferry in the Park that takes cars across the Green River.  In this picture we are the lead car of three on the ferry and we are about midstream of the River.  Sister Peterson was very apprehensive about riding on the ferry but it turned out to be pretty tame.

An interesting road sign we found on our way home from Zone Meeting in Hopkinsville, the stake center for the area.  We do have some serious activities and I would like to share some.  Last Sunday I went home teaching with one of the High Priests in the branch.  He is a wonderful man that has quite a conversion story.  He loves Blue Grass music and plays the harmonica and banjo, both by ear.  He plays each week in a Blue Grass band that plays in a local Church.  He took his harmonica with him and played for a home bound widow we visited.  He played Amazing Grace, Church in the Wildwood and several other old time favorites.  I don't believe I have heard a prettier rendition of Amazing Grace.  The sister loved it because she too is a lover of Blue Grass music.  After the music we administered the Sacrament for her, taught her a lesson and gave her a Priesthood blessing.  Now that is what I call real Home Teaching!

Our next visit was too an illiterate older brother who had been converted some 20 years earlier in Mississippi.  He lives in the basement of a fellow that lets him work with him, but mostly he makes his living by stripping small copper wire by hand and selling the copper.  There were buckets of copper wire everywhere and only one chair but we still gave a lesson and had prayer.  Bob treated him very well and you could see the love he had for Brother Bob.

We visited one other active family but were gone for almost four hours.  There was some travel time involved because we went from one end of the ward to the other.  But mostly the time was consumed by Brother Bob.  For you see he openly says he has a disease, "diarrhea of the mouth."  He just loves to talk and even after we got back to our trailer, Bob visited for about an hour.

Later in the week I was teaching a lesson on the Plan of Salvation to our favorite hillbilly family that we have grown to love.   They consider themselves hillbillys and always say "y'all com back now, y'hear" to emphasize it when we leave.  Anyway I used the scripture about "In my house are many mansions . . .," and tried to focus on the idea of preparing to live in the Celestial Kingdom.  I asked the sister if she wanted a heavenly mansion.  She replied that she didn't know about a mansion but she would sure like a nice motor home with a roll out front room.  Of course Sister Peterson and I both lost our composure and it was a little difficult to get a serious conclusion to the lesson.
The wild ivy grows everywhere, on fences, telephone poles, old barns and even on top of this road sign.  There are places where it grows so thick on the trees along the roadside that you can't hardly see through it.      We have found it quite interesting.
Elder and Sister Peterson (Enjoying ourselves in Rural Kentucky)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tuesday was transfer day in the mission.  All of the missionaries being transferred and their companions come into Nashville to a stake center near the Temple.  All of the departing missionaries and the incoming missionaries meet with them.  Our mission is small enough that all transfers and new assignments are made in this meeting then everyone can go home with their new companions.  All of the senior couples are invited to come, especially if they have to bring missionaries that don't have transportation.  It is a wonderful meeting where the outgoing missionaries get to say farewell and bare their testimonies.  Incoming missionaries get introduced and assigned and the Mission President gets to give some good direction.  Then we have lunch and later the Mission President and his wife say their goodbyes by taking the departing missionaries to a Temple session.
One of the departing missionaries this week was one of the Assistants to the President, Elder Stringham from Lehi, Utah.  Named to replace him was Elder Hill from Malad, Idaho.  Elder Hill is on the left in this picture.  The other Elder in the picture is the AP that wan't changed.  We love Elder Hill because we have got to know him as he has been serving in this area.  He is a wonderful Elder and we both felt he would be called to this new assignment.
We traveled to the Temple with Oakleys and had a very enjoyable day.  The Nashville Temple is quite small, smaller than our Twin Falls Temple and all basically on one floor.  It is only open on some evenings and on Friday and Saturday.  Our Tuesday session at four was by special arrangement just for the missionaries.  Eight couples and 11 missionaries attended the session and we nearly filled the room.  It was wonderful to be in the Temple again on such a spiritual occasion.
This old log church, called the "Old Hebron Church", was where the first missionaries preached the Gospel in this part of Kentucky.  It is located across the river in an adjoining county in an area called Hunstville that was first settled by a Civil War soldier.  It figures very prominently in the history of the Church in this area.  Missionaries came up the Green River by boat and taught the Hunt family and others and started quite a congregation.  Reportedly Charles A. Callis visited the area and preached at this church.  The Hunt family was persecuted and eventually left but many in the area claim ancestors that stem from those converted in that first congregation.  The church is fairly well preserved for its age because there is a cemetery in the church yard that is still being used.  It was located down a quite a gravel lane in the woods and we had to try three times to find it.
We were traveling a quiet country road when we saw this sign.  for a moment we thought we were back in Utah.
We got a kick out of this sign - a year round garage sale?  Garage sales are big here and we will see several nearly every day.  They will be anywhere, even way out in the country byways.  There are three major consignment shops in town where people sell their antiques (junk).  I guess it is part of the culture but people keep their treasures in their homes to the point of clutter.  Then they sell them to each other at yard sales, (trading clutter).  I guess we shouldn't comment but we do find it amusing.

Some pictures in the gardens at the front of the Temple.  Travel time from our home to the Temple was about a hour and a half.  Thankfully it is that close and we will have several chances to visit there while we are here.  We took quite a few pictures while there.  I guess we have missed attending the Temple more than we realized.
Elder and Sister Peterson (On the Road Again)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For P-day this last week we went to Mammoth Cave National Park.  It is about 50 miles from where we live.  It is a huge cave complex reported to be about 400 miles long.  Supposedly the largest cave area in the world. It was very interesting and we actually took one of the smaller tours of a remote part of the cave.
This is proof that I went in the cave even though I worried a little about my tendency for claustraphobia.  There were some small passage areas where we had to bend over and we could touch each side.  The tour went well and we enjoyed our experience.
This is one of the smaller areas in the cave and I was relieved to get through it.
This is the large main entrance to the cave.  We didn't go down into this part because it was so many steps down.  This large cave area actually goes down into an underground river that eventually exits and forms the Green River that flows through the area where we live.  Kentucky has many smaller cave areas because of all the limestone in the area but none are as large and distinctive as this Mammoth Cave complex.
I am always impressed by the thicket/forest that naturally grows in this part of the world.
The roads in the Park are beautifully manicured but still in places the trees hang over the roads.  This whole area of the Park was farmed until 1925.  After the Park was created the area quickly grew into what it looks like in this picture.  The forest is very think and extends for miles.
Mother decided it would be fun to post a road sign of the week.  We travel many small roads in the countryside.  Most are oiled and well marked with a sign.  Some lead only to one house and the sign will carry the owners name like Darrell Smith Road.  It will still have a sign and the signs are well-maintained and "thank heavens" or we would have a hard time finding people.
This is what part of Possum Hollow road looked like.  We have traveled down quite a few like this and enjoy it unless the oil ends and the road gets smaller.  We have been warned about going down secluded country roads especially if we come to "No Trespassing" signs.  There are some pot farmers in the area and some "meth" labs secluded in the woods.  Fortunately we haven't run into any yet but we have turned around a few times and quickly backtracked.  We were trying to find one member when we came upon numerous no trespassing signs and on the side of the trailer was scrawled, "Smile your on camera".  Needless to say we didn't knock but went on down the road.
Mother and I in our rocking chairs on our front porch.  We had just hosted district meeting and Elder Oakley took our picture.  We have had some wonderful spiritual adventures too but I suppose not quite as interesting as the pictures.  We have found some interesting members that have wanted to remain lost.  One of them asked for his name to be removed from the Church.  Things will be tough for most of a day then we will have a great visit with someone and it will be all worth it again.  I suppose that is the way most missions go and ours is no different but it has been a real adventure!
Elder and Sister Peterson - "Kentucky Hillbillies?"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mother has been fascinated with the magnolia trees here.  They have huge, shiney leaves and they are just starting to bloom.  We visited a part-member couple this afternoon and the husband picked the bloom she is holding.  It is just starting to open up into a full blossom.  We took it home and put it in water in our cabin.  It will look like the blossom on the tree when it is fully open.  It smells good now so it might help the ambiance in our little home away from home.
We call this the church in the wildwood.  It is still in use with a newly surfaced parking lot.  The monument out front states it was built and dedicated in 1848.  It was closed on this day and we couldn't go inside, but it is probably nice and modern on the inside but they have kept the original log construction on the outside.  There are little churches all throughout the countryside but most are more modern.  Like this one most of them are Baptist missionary churches, with a few Methodist and Church of Christ chapels mixed in.
Saturday evening we were invited to a Cinco de Mayo party at Glenda Beck's home in Bowling Green.  Her mother lives here in Morgantown and suffers from alsheimers.  We have gone to visit her several times and have become good friends with Glenda.  We broke a pinata at the party and these two boys showed up to watch when they heard something about candy.  There was another senior couple at the party along with a set of sister missionaries and a set of elders.  The elders and the sisters took their turn at trying to break the pinata and then we let these two boys finish the job.  Then they took a good share of the candy home with them.  We had a good time and enjoyed some social interaction for a change.

We went to a zone meeting in Clarksville, Tennessee Friday.  There is some beautiful farmland in that area where it is flatter and has better soil.  Although this picture doesn't show it well, this field of winter wheat is starting to turn yellow and ripen.  The corn in the adjacent field is about 18 inches high.  This pictures was taken on May 4th.  It just amazed me how much earlier these crops are than back home.  However we are only at about 800 - 1000 foot elevation and it is very warm and humid.  It was in the 90's several days this week and we are already feeling the heat along with the humidity.  Today we are getting heavy thunderstorms along with heavy rain, fortunately no tornadoes.

We visited 41 families last month, some several times.  So we have been busy and have had some interesting experiences.  We saw our first deer in the head lights, which fortunately did not run across in front of us.  We did run over and kill a big black snake that was about twice as long and bigger around than a blow snake.  They are common here and the locals think they keep away the eastern rattlesnakes and cottonmouths just like we think blow snakes keep away the rattlesnakes.  The wife of our turkey-hunting investigator had killed two in her front yard.  She held them up for Vicki to view on our last visit, which might explain why she hasn't been excited to return there?
Elder and Sister Peterson - missionaries in training!