Saturday, December 22, 2012

Michelle in our hotel room reading one of the Church Conference addresses that our family prepared for us to read daily as we traveled across the country from our home in Georgia to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah.  Each message was accompanied by comments on that topic from an individual family member, making the reading of the messages especially meaningful.

The Mission Home and Office where Michelle lived during her High School years in Dallas, Texas.  At the time, her father served as Mission President of the Texas Mission, covering all of Texas.  This Mission Home is now a community service center.

Richardson High School where Michelle attended school while living in Dallas.

A photo of the Dallas Texas Temple, located in a beautiful residential neighborhood near the Mission Home where Michelle lived.

A windmill on a cattle ranch in Texas.  We saw many of these as we traveled across Texas. 

A church at the end of a street in downtown Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Sante Fe is known for its art galleries.  This is a dramatic bronze sculpture of a Native American capturing an eagle, carved by an artist named Vic Payne.

Pueblo style homes blended into the desert hill environment around Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The hotel where we stayed during our visit to Sante Fe, designed in the Pueblo Indian style of the area.

Mel served a mission on the Navajo Reservation 40 years ago, 1971-1973.  Here is a chapel in Thoreau, New Mexico, replacing a small white chapel that existed there 40 years ago.  The small trailer that Mel lived in as a missionary behind the chapel has been replaced by a larger trailer, still occupied by LDS missionaries.

The actual window rock formation in Window Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation.

A bronze statue commemorating the Navajo code talkers who served in World War II.  While serving on his mission, Mel met a handful of these code talkers, who were very proud of their service, but generally unwilling to speak about their experience at war.

The Navajo Tribe is a separate form of government within the United States of America.  The Navajo nation is led by a President and Council that meets in this Navajo Council Chambers.

This is a very typical cluster of dwellings on the reservation.  Families live in a multi-generational family complex which usually includes a hogan, a small stucco home, trailers, and other dwellings.  Each family is part of a clan, determined by the matriarchal side of the family, with many clans existing across the reservation.

Another example of a cluster of family dwellings on the Navajo Reservation.

I served for eight months of my mission during 1971-1973 in very remote locations east of Crownpoint, New Mexico.  At the time, it required traveling 50-75 miles on dirt roads to small trading posts called Whitehorse, Tintian, and Torreon.  The dirt roads are now paved, and the trading posts are gone.  This is a photo of the area where Whitehorse Trading Post existed 40 years ago.  I lived next to the trading post in a hogan similar to the one below.
These stone hogans have disappeared from the Navajo Reservation.  There are a few stucco hogans that are still used.  I noticed while visiting the reservation that Navajo women are now rarely seen weaving Navajo rugs outside their hogans, and the Navajo language is rarely heard.

The stone formation rising from the desert floor called "Shiprock", for which Shiprock, New Mexico is named.  On my mission, I served in the Shiprock area for four months.

Ancient Indian cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez, Colorado.  Michelle and I visited Mesa Verde on our honeymoon after our marriage on May 1, 1975.

A couple of deer outside Tamarron Resort north of Durango, Colorado, where we went on our honeymoon 37 years ago.  We returned to Tamarron on our trip to Utah, and it seemed like nothing had changed at that lodge for the last 37 years!

The mountains near Tamarron Resort, north of Durango, Colorado.

Once we arrived in Utah, we had an enjoyable time meeting with friends and family.  We met Mark and LeAnn Goettle at Thanksgiving Point in Utah.  They were visiting their son who attends Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, from their new home in Pasadena, California.

Mel and Michelle at Abbi and Chad's home prior to attending the first morning of training at the Provo MTC.

Now we are official missionaries!  Our missionary name tags, identifying us as representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which we will wear throughout our 18-month mission.

The group of senior missionary couples who trained with us during our stay at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah from December 17-21, 2012.  It was fun to find out where each couple was headed - Nauvoo, Illinois; Capetown South Africa; Cove Fort, Utah; Barcelona, Spain; Richmond, Virginia; Fresno, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Park City, Utah; Russia; and India.  We formed friendships with many of these couples.

Mel and Michelle, with Brother Lystrup, one of the young missionaries who taught us at the MTC.

Brother Pearson, another young missionary who taught us at the MTC.