Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two Months of Service in Missouri

Elder and Sister Pyne in front of the Historic Liberty Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith was unjustly incarcerated from December 1, 1838 to April 6, 1839 during the time the Latter-day Saints were being persecuted in Missouri.  We serve in the Historic Liberty Jail two days a week and in the Independence Visitor's Center four days a week.

 The Brenchley's and the Pyne's visiting the Harry Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.

 Out of our apartment window to the north we overlook the Woodlawn Cemetary in Independence, MO.  It is a large cemetary with tombstones dating back to the early 1800s.  We take walks through the cemetary on nice days, so we spend some of our time each week among the dead.

 The is the apartment building where we live.  Our apartment is the third-floor apartment on the upper left (north).  The apartment is a comfortable two-bedroom apartment.  The other five apartments in this building are also occupied by senior couples serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We have developed friendships with each of the couples and enjoy socializing with them on occasion.  Most of the other couples are in their late 60s or early 70s, so we feel like the youngsters of the group. Our Ford Explorer is parked to the right of the building.

Looking northeast from the balcony of our third-floor apartment.

Independence, MO and Liberty, MO have a number of grand old homes dating to the mid to late 1800s.  Some are renovated nicely and many have fallen into disrepair.

This is the home where Bess Truman, wife of President Harry Truman, lived during her childhood.  It is a few blocks from our apartment.

 A home on the Bingham-Waggoner Estate close to the Independence Visitor's Center where we serve.

 The Vail Mansion in the northern part of Independence, MO.

 An interesting historic home close to the Historic Liberty Jail in Liberty, MO, where we serve two days a week.

 The Independence Stake Center where we attend church each Sunday.  We attend church and then work at the Independence Visitor's Center from 4:30-9:00 pm each Sunday evening.

The building where the reconstructed Historic Liberty Jail is located.  The reconstructed jail is located in the rotunda at the right of this photo.

 The entrance to the Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith and five others where imprisoned for over four months during the severe winter of 1838-1839.  The prisoners suffered miserable conditions, horrible food, and dark surroundings, but under these conditions Joseph Smith received some amazingly profound and sublime revelations.  For that reason, Historic Liberty Jail is often referred to as a "Temple Prison".

 A reconstructed cut-out of the jail, displaying how the jail was constructed, with two feet of rough-hewn limestone, a foot of loose rock, and another foot of timber as the exterior walls.  The prisoners occupied the dungeon-like cellar of the jail, sleeping on cold stone floors with only loose straw as a bed.

 This photo is taken as looking through the bars of small window openings that provided minimal light and ventilation for the prisoners.  Through the jail, you can see the painting of Christ on the far side of the photo.  This interesting photo perspective seems symbolic of how the Prophet Joseph Smith was drawn closer to Christ through the refining fire of his jail experience.

 During a break from guests visiting the Historic Liberty Jail on Valentine's Day.  Sister Spivey (on the left from Georgia) and Sister Sibbet (on the right from Hawaii) are foring a heart.

Mel and Michelle attempting to similarly form a heart on Valentine's Day, with a bust of the Savior in the background.
 The foyer of the main floor of the Independence Visitor's Center where we serve four days a week.  The Christus is in the background.

 A spire of the Community of Christ Temple, located directly north of the Independence Visitor's Center.  This photo is taken through the front window of the Visitor's Center, through which we are usually looking as we await the next guests to the Visitor's Center.  The Community of Christ church is an early break-off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Recently there are as many young women deciding to go on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as young men.  They live in companionships and teach the gospel two-by-two.  We have twenty sister missionaries serving in the visitor centers in Independepence, MO and Liberty, MO.  This is Sister Ewell from Utah and Sister Call from California.  The following photos are a sampling of other sister missionaries who serve in the Missouri Independence Mission.

 Sister HoChing from Samoa and Sister Hyer from Utah.

 Sister Singh from Fiji and Sister Grange from Vancouver, Washington.

Sister Gines from Utah and Sister Wilson from Bellevue, Washington.

Sister Sant from Virginia and Sister Bailey from Colorado.

Sister Hawkins from Spokane, Washington, with the Pyne's.

Elder and Sister Godfrey from St. George, Utah, Sister Ogletree from Texas, and the Pyne's. The Godfrey's live in the apartment across from us.  Sister Ogletree is a twin.  Her twin sister is serving a mission in South America.  Brandon Ogletree, a linebacker on the BYU football team, is her brother.

The Pyne's with Sister Call from San Diego, California.  Sister Call is a second grade teacher.

 The Pyne's with Sister Wilson from Sponkane, Washington, outside the office where we oversee the Independence Visitor's Center.  Sister Wilson is an accomplished violinist with a beautiful voice.

 The Pyne's with Sister Ewell from Utah.  Sister Ewell is a family history expert.

 The Pyne's with Sister Stobbe from Provo, Utah.  Sister Stobbe and all the sister missionaries come to the senior couples for advise and counsel as they deal with various teaching situations and other challenges at the Visitor Center and in their assigned areas.

The Harry S. Truman home in Independence, Missouri.  He lived here before his Presidency and returned here after serving as President of the United States in the mid 1940's.

 The Missouri landscape along the drive to Liberty, MO, which we take two days a week to serve at the Historic Liberty Jail.

Another scene from the Missouri Landscape as we drive to Liberty, MO.

An old winery building that has fallen into disrepair in recent years, also along the drive to Liberty, MO.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January 2013 Mission Experiences

Elder and Sister Adams, the Directors of the Independence Visitor's Center and Historic Liberty Jail, warmly welcomed us when we arrived in Independence, helped us unload our belongings, invited us to dinner at their home the first evening, oriented us to our responsibilities, and helped us transition to mission life in Missouri.  We arrived on Dec 27, 2012 and they completed their mission on January 20, 2013 and returned home to South Ogden, Utah.

A farewell reception held for Elder and Sister Adams.  This is Michelle with a few of the sister missionaries and Sister Stevenson, one of the senior sisters who serves at Historic Liberty Jail with her husband.  They are reviewing a scrapbook that was prepared for Elder and Sister Adams upon their departure from the mission.

The sister missionaries singing a customized song at the farewell reception for Elder and Sister Adams, to the tune of the theme music from "The Adams Family" TV series.

Our new Directors for the Visitor Centers, Elder and Sister Brenchley, with Sister Saunders, who served at the Independence Visitor's Center for two months awaiting a visa to New Zealand.  She received her visa and is flying to New Zealand the next day.

Elder and Sister Pyne with Sister Saunders prior to her departure to New Zealand.  Sister Saunders is a soft-spoken, spiritual, and sweet sister, with an amazing singing voice and piano skills.

Standing in front of the plot that Joseph Smith dedicated as a temple site.  The property is part of the original 60+ acres purchased by Edward Partridge, and is now owned by the Church of Christ Temple Lot church.  The white building in the background is a church owned by the Church of Christ and is located on the dedicated temple lot.  This lot is situated northwest of the Independence Visitor's Center (a photo of which is included later in this post).

William A. Sheldon and the Pynes standing by two of the original corner stones of the temple lot in Independence, referred to in D&C 57: 1-3. William A. Sheldon is the oldest living apostle of the Church of Christ Temple Lot, one of the early break-offs from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The temple of the Community of Christ Church (formerly Reorganized LDS Church).  This temple is located directly north of the Independence Visitor's Center.  It, too, is located on part of the original 60+ acres purchased by Edward Partridge.  We look at the spires of this temple many times a day when we are on shift at the Independence Visitor's Center.  Michelle strongly dislikes the architectural design of this building!

The Stone Church, owned by the Community of Christ Church, located northwest of the temple in the previous photo, also located on part of the original 60 acres.

All the Independence Visitor's Center sister missionaries gather at 9:00 pm each evening in front of the Christus in the visitor center to sing songs, have a prayer, and arrange car logistics and schedules for the next day.  As you can see, we have seven sets of sisters serving in the visitor center at the time of this photo.  That will grow to eight sets at the upcoming arrival of new missionaries on January 30, 2013.  This is a special experience each evening, listening to the angelic voices of the sister missionaries and joining them in kneeling prayer at the close of the day.

Sister Missionaries are at the core of the visitor centers, and at the core of our missionary lives.  A large part of our service is supporting, guiding, uplifting, teaching, and assisting the sister missionaries in their service.  Here are sister missionaries from both Independence Visitor's Center and Historic Liberty Jail.  Starting from the front, left to right:  Sister Sant (Virginia), Sister Atkins (Logan, Utah), Sister Harding (Lehi, Utah), Sister Hansen (California), Sister Grange (Vancouver, Washington), Sister Spivey (Valdosta, Georgia!), Sister Stobbe (Provo, Utah), Sister Moon (Centerville, Utah!), Sister Altier (California), Sister Thorne (Payson, Utah), Sister Hawkins (Spokane, Washington), Sister Wilson (California), Sister Call (California), Sister Lewis (Highland, Utah), Sister Wilson (Oregon!), Sister Singh (Fiji), and Sister Ogletree (Dallas, Texas).

On Preparation Day, taking Sister Sant, Sister Stobbe, Sister Call, and Sister Moon to lunch at Chili's off Highway 291and 35th South in Independence.

The three sets of missionaries who are based at Historic Liberty Jail.  From left to right, Sister Spivey, Sister Altier, Sister Ogletree, Sister Hansen, Sister Lewis, and Sister Wilson.

The arrival of new missionaries on January 30, 2013.  All the missionaries affected by the transfer resulting from the arrival of the 33 new missionaries to the Missouri Independence Mission met in the parking lot of the Independence Stake Center at 7:30 am on January 30th to be transported to their assigned areas.  There were over a 100 missionaries gathered in the parking lot, meeting new companions, saying good-bye to previous companions, taking photos, hugging each other, loading luggage in various vehicles, and leaving for their new areas.  The bus in the background is taking missionaries to distant locations.  The energy among the missionaries was sky high!  This is a photo of all the sister missionaries involved.  There are four new sister missionaries assigned to the visitor centers.  We are there on our Preparation Day to take Sister Thorne and Sister Altier to the Kaw River area in Kansas City, Kansas.  It is a notoriously poor and dangerous area in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.  It took us two trips and all morning in our Ford Explorer to transfer their luggage, since they had accumulated so much stuff on their missions.

Standing with Sister Moon, who is opening up a new area with a new companion straight from the MTC.  The new area is a suburb of Wichita, Kansas.  We worked closely with Sister Moon because she and Sister Stobbe served in the Independence 1st Ward area, our assigned ward.

Elder and Sister Pyne with Sister Thorne, prior to her transfer to Kaw River (in Kansas City, Kansas).

Michelle receiving a birthday gift on January 25, 2013, from Sister Thorne, Sister Call, and Sister Hawkins.  The two chairs they are sitting in are the chairs we sit in as we await guests to greet as they arrive at the front doors of the Independence Visitor's Center.

Elder and Sister Pugsley and Elder and Sister Pyne prior to a concert at the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri.  The performers were Sweet Honey in the Rock, a group of black Acapella singers, who sang gospel, folk, blues, and raggae style numbers.  Elder and Sister Pugsley are from Cache Valley Utah.  They are the senior senior couple in the visitor centers (in terms of length of service).  We have enjoyed their friendship, association, and support as we have transitioned into mission life.

 The impressive architecture of the Kaufmann Center for the Perfoming Arts.

Elder and Sister Pyne standing in front of the Independence Visitor's Center.  The architecture is somewhat similar to the Church's Jerusalem Center in Israel.  Do you think there is a coincidence that the Jerusalem Center and the Visitor's Center at the future New Jerusalem have similar architecture?