Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Pleasant Sight

I saw crocuses and some tulips in bloom on Temple Square yesterday afternoon. It did my heart good. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quote Of The Day

While Jim was shaving this morning, I stood next to him talking. I was looking at the dark circles under my eyes and I asked, "Will you still love me when I'm old?" He smiled and answered, "You're already old and I still love you." We both laughed and he said, "Not very romantic, huh?"

He loses a point or two in the romance category on that one but gains about 50 in the "bond my heart to yours" category. :)
2002 in Teton Valley, Wyoming near Jackson Hole. 
We weren't so old then and obviously on vacation.
Jim's full beard is long gone 
making for conversation times while shaving these days. :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Could It Really Be Possible?

OK, it doesn't take much to make me cry it seems when it comes to my family. I received Ian's weekly e-mail this week and thought it was a wonderful e-mail and longer than usual which I appreciated. Then at the end of the e-mail I read,

"I also found out this week that this transfer will not be 5 weeks as everyone (including the president and the secretaries) was thinking. It will be 6 weeks long and we will probably not have another 5 week transfer this year. This is really strange because in all of the missions is Brazil, the 2nd transfer of the year is always 5 weeks because of the visas of the Americans. While it is only a one week difference, it will make a big difference for me because it would put me getting home at the end of the first week of school. I don’t know what will happen yet but it looks likes I might be able to come home just a few weeks earlier without it being a whole transfer early. It is nothing urgent and we still have plenty of time to get it figured out so I will talk to president about it the next time that I get the chance, probably in the next interview." At first I read the part that said he wouldn't get home until after school started meaning he would have NO time home and then I read the last part and just started sobbing...again. Could it really be possible that I could have more than just three days with my son and have Seth and Ian home at the same time for a little bit before they both leave for BYU? I can only leave out hope that this might happen but I will have to wait and see. God is certainly good to mothers, that's all I have to say. Wow.

Here's some of the rest that I can share...

"Dear Family,

We had a great week this week  and a lot happened, I will try to get it all in the time that I have. First of all, we had Zone Conference which was great as always... We also had two baptisms this week! the son a less active woman in our ward. He would have been baptized last Sunday but they went out of town. It all worked out well because we combined it with a baptism of the ward on Thursday. We also had a baptism on Sunday, a young woman, that also went very well. She went to youth conference last week and so she is already well integrated with the young women and she had a lot of support there at her baptism.

On Saturday morning we got a golden referral from one of the women in the ward, it is a young man who dated her niece about one year ago and went to church a few times. She said that he wants to be baptized and serve a mission. On Saturday night we were going to his house to contact the reference and we were on the street of his house when he came up behind us and said, “Hey, it is me that you are looking for, I want to be baptized.” I will never forget the night, the Lord is really blessing us in this area. His baptism is marked for this Saturday... I will have 1 year and 6 months on Thursday, the time really does fly by..."

I'm a happy Mom today. :)

Oh, and I don't ever mention any of this sobbing stuff to Ian. He's clueless about his basket case Mother.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's A Grand....


I babysat Nathan today while Sarah and Gregory went for Sarah's ultrasound. She's having a baby girl in July. A little granddaughter for Jim, Connie, Yogi and me to add to the joy Nathan brings us all.

Little Hannah Elizabeth, 
we're so happy you are coming to our family. :)

My happiness meter just went up sky high....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Dreaded Dentist Visit

I am happy to say that we all like our dentist a lot. We've been going to the same dentist since Seth was a baby. We had a lot of dentists before the one we have now but I'd never dream of changing, he's excellent in every way and he's been very good with my kids over the years. Seth and I were reminiscing on the way home how we all used to go together. That's when we went as six or seven of us at a time. The waiting room was overrun with my loud children but for some reason you would have thought we took them out for ice cream or something because it was always like a "party at the dentist" time...crazy.

I have to say the best compliment I have had in a long time came from the hygienist today as she was taking my x-rays. She said, "Your mouth is so small this is hard to do." She said my mouth is MUCH smaller than most people. How can you not love a comment like that?! I think there might be many people lined up to offer their differing opinions on that one. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It seems that Ian has less and less time each week to pop off e-mails. He sounds busy and happy and like he's working hard. Here's a little bit from this week:

"Dear Family,

Here in Brazil this is a special time of year, it is literally means "festival of the flesh." It is somewhat comparable to Mardi Gras, just a whole lot worse...

 I know that this church is true, I know that the commandments are a great blessing that help us to have more joy and avoid much suffering. I know that the scriptures are extremely important in our lives, they bring us closer to God. I know that God’s plan is perfect, truly perfect and that He loves us, all that He does for is us because of that love. I know Jesus Christ is our redeemer.

I love you all very, very much!"

I bet Carnival time is a challenge for missionaries to say the least. Hang in there Elder!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


One of Ian's BYU roommates came home from his mission Thursday evening. He served his mission in Guatemala. He had a welcome home celebration at his house after church today and so I took a few minutes to stop over to his house to say "Welcome Home." Well, I didn't realize how much seeing him and other friends of Ian's was going to affect me. I hugged him and said, "Welcome home, you're alive." That's just what came out of my mouth. He said, "Of course, what did you expect?" Then I sort of cried a bit. Men don't really get it when women cry like that. Ooops. Seeing him made me think of Ian and made me realize again that missionaries really do come home someday. Ian has been gone SO long now that it just seems like a long, long dream that he was ever here. I was ready to leave but another woman I know whose daughter had been very good friends with Ian told me she was downstairs. I went downstairs and saw her and started to cry again. Seeing her reminded me of Ian too. OK, more people to cry in front of. Then I heard a voice saying hello to me. It turned out to be Ian's best friend who just got home from his mission to New Jersey two weeks ago. I had no idea he had gotten home. Forget it, by this point I couldn't stop wiping away the tears. Here I was with tangible reminders of my son who has been missing for so long now all around me and the tears just flowed. Both of these men, because they sure seemed like men now, said the same thing..."My mission was a life-altering experience for me." Both of them had positive, good experiences. I enjoyed visiting with Ian's friends and was glad I went but found myself crying all the way home.

I came home and told Jim what happened. Then I started to cry some more. I said, "I told Travis's Mom that when Ian gets home, he would only be home for three days when we would have to bring him down to BYU again. She said she couldn't imagine that. I asked Jim how I could ever handle that. He said, "Don't worry, we'll just go down there and have Family Home Evening." We always have Family Home Evening as a family on Monday evenings. When he said that and I realized Ian wouldn't even be home for one Monday night after his mission, I just broke down and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

I have six months to get my act together and pull myself together or I will be a mess for sure.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"I'm Moving Out In Six Months"

That comment, said with a look of tremendous glee, was said a few hours after the long awaited news from BYU. Seth got his acceptance letter today from BYU. He'll start there the same day Ian comes home from his mission (I think). I'm happy for Seth. It's tough to get into BYU and that was his only choice. He is so happy.

Somewhere in the last few hours though, all our lives changed a bit. Seth realizes he's soon flying away from the nest and he likes that idea...I am coming to terms however with the understanding that his joyful news means that my nest will really be empty when he goes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Delight

Nathan was at my house all last weekend.
He is simply a delight.
I've turned the shelves on my kitchen island
into the "Grandma shelves"
with all sorts of stuff for a small child to play with.
It keeps him busy while I'm cooking something.
He absolutely loves to "pretend" play the piano.
A mini-Beethoven perhaps.
He sat there for a long time.
And he loves standing by Uncle Seth while he practices.
Thanks for playing Nathan.
Come back soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Sun Is Out

I usually have my winter slump from Halloween until Valentines Day. It seems I was meant to be a bear and hibernate for the winter. The nice thing is we had a very mild winter this year so this has been a very good winter for me. Today was a beautiful day. The sun has been out most of the day and I feel like I am waking up again for the spring which is surely right around the corner. My creativity seems to wake up also this time of year and that's a very good thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What More Could I Possibly Ask For?

Jim and I decided we would have an afternoon Valentine's Day date today instead of some the crazy evening Valentine's Day dates we have had in the past. He left work at 11:00 and we went to a Thai restaurant. There was nobody there when we showed up. Plan 1 worked to avoid the Valentine's crowds.:) A few people showed up by the time we left. The lunch was delicious and we had the place mostly to ourselves.

Next we decided to go to Cummings chocolates to get 'one" nice Valentine chocolate for each of us as a treat. He's lost 22 pounds and I have lost 24 pounds in the last two years so we didn't want a whole bunch. We laughed as we saw the police 'working the parking lot' and a scary '2 deep' line to the end of the door with people completely crowding the store. We just drove on by smiling and decided to pick up chocolate covered strawberries at the market later. Besides, we were already 'on' our date.

We decided on a movie and had plenty of time before the movie started with no crowds to enjoy meandering about and enjoy our quiet date. There was no one in the theater when we got there so we enjoyed the time alone until people started showing up. We saw Hugo in 3D. We both enjoyed it very much. Plan 2 worked... enjoy a not too crowded movie.

After the movie I drove Jim back to work. On the way back he held my hand and very sweetly said, "It was a little bit of Heaven spending the day with you today." I felt the same exact way.

I seriously think I married the nicest man in the world.

I wonder if  the people waiting in the long line at the chocolate store experienced the same joy of the simple, quiet, lovely date we had today.

Love that man.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Family Picture Time

Sarah and Nathan have been here since Thursday.
Gregory is in Washington D.C.
Poor Nathan is sick. Nevertheless,
even when sick, he is delightful.
This is a recent family picture.:)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ten Years Later

Last night SLC had a celebration to mark the ten year mark of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 winter Olympics. They re-lit the cauldron and there will be other celebrations in the coming days to commemorate the events of February 2002. Jim and I had the great privilege of attending the Opening Ceremonies. It was truly one of the highlights of my life.
After purchasing tickets, we were thrilled to be going. We were told we would find out where our seats were at a later date. We felt very blessed to have received tickets that put us on the front row. We didn't know where our seats were until we arrived. Our seats were right where the two people in red were standing on the steps.
I was struck by so many things that evening. This was our view when they carried in the American flag. This took place only a few months after 9/11 and it was a very touching moment.
This was the tattered flag from ground zero in New York City. That's Mitt Romney, President Bush, and the president of the Olympics on the bottom left.
This group of well known people walked right
in front of us carrying the Olympic flag.
One of the men was Lech Wałęsa.
 I was also deeply moved when they hoisted it 
on the flagpole right in front of where we were sitting.
 Those were great seats.
This was the gift pack everyone received who went to the Opening Ceremonies. I know right where my flashlight is, I use it frequently. We wore white coverings and were part of the program because they had us shine our lights during a certain part when all the lights were off.
What can I say,
the lighting of the cauldron was a very special moment.
Then came the fireworks.
It was a once in a lifetime experience.
I will never forget it.
These rings shone on a nearby mountainside the entire 17 days.
It was very sad when they finally went black again.
This is my Opening Ceremony ticket 
with my pins attached to the lanyard.
Pin trading was a fun experience.
The Olympic rings pin was a special one given to me by a friend who is now deceased. It was given to her by Juan Antonio Samaranch. She was a dialysis patient and he received dialysis while he was here at the same time she did. He told his assistant to give my friend five of these pins and she gave me one. It is the official pin of the Olympics and hard to come by. I am happy to have it. It reminds me of my friend Hattie and the Olympics.
This is a stock photo of the cauldron.
It is a great symbol of hope for peace.
On the top of my ticket, I wrote Isaiah 2:2. It reminds me of the Parade of Nations. Watching the athletes stream in the stadium right in front of my eyes was pretty overwhelming. They came from all over the world. I was reminded of the scripture from Isaiah 2:2 which says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it.” The "mountain of the Lord's house" means the holy Temple.

I had previously learned that "“Utah” in the Ute language means “the top of the mountains.” An interesting commentary article says "When the Mormon pioneers first came to the Salt Lake Valley they called it and the surrounding regions “Deseret... meaning “honeybee.” The name was chosen to symbolize the industriousness of the people. However, when the citizens of Deseret first sought to join the United States as a territory, Congress sought to impose its will by denying their choice of name. The name Utah—the name given to the region by the Ute Indians—was mandated instead, applying the practice of retaining the original Indian name followed for many states in the United States. Thus, Utah became the name of the territory in 1869 and finally the name of the State in 1896. It was not known at that time that “Utah” in the Ute language means “the top of the mountains.” Under the circumstances, it cannot be said that assignment of the name of Utah to the state was contrived by those wishing to demonstrate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy."

I found a picture on this same website by Don Busath that I have never seen before. It's striking. It's a picture of the Salt Lake Temple set in the surrounding mountains. People from all over the world come to the Salt Lake Temple because it is so well known. On the night of the Opening Ceremonies 10 years ago, I was humbled and privileged to witness representatives from most of the nations of the world "flowing into" the stadium like a steady stream,  passing before my eyes because I was blessed to have a front row seat. I also frequently see people from many different nations on Temple Square and in the Temple, "the mountain of the Lord's house." That scripture will always be special to me.
Wonderful memories.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

An Old Friend

I went to the genealogy library this afternoon and met an old friend. I was standing near the elevator having a snack and I saw a man who looked at me and with wide eyes and a big smile said, "Hello..." I looked at him for a second and said, "Bitner?" He looked at me and looked like he was searching for my name but couldn't find it so I told him. He looked relieved I told him. We had a nice conversation about having served our missions together in Taiwan. He said, "Can you believe it has been 30 years?" We both acknowledged how much time had passed and how long it had been since we served. I asked him how his Chinese was and he said it was "non-existent." I told him that mine had also been non-existent and I went back to school and received a degree in Mandarin two years ago. I could relate to the troubles of trying to keep up with our mission language. I told him I have a goal to read my Chinese Book of Mormon for 15 minutes a day, five times a week. I find if I do that, I can hang onto my Chinese. A couple of times a week I also try to listen to General Conference on an old DVD while exercising. I get the English subtitles going underneath while listening to the Mandarin on my headphones with a slight hint of English dubbed underneath. That also works well.

I appreciated seeing this friend. No matter how much time has passed, fond memories are just a second away. We both had a time in our lives where we put aside everything else to serve the Lord. No matter where our lives have taken us all these years later, looking back on that service especially with a friend who served at the same time is a sweet blessing.

Here is part of an entry from my journal from February 4, 1982, 30 years ago:

"Well, I'm here, it's hard to believe but I am here in Taiwan. I have so many feelings I'm not sure what they are. Our plane was an hour late but our luggage made it OK. We went through customs in about a minute without any problem. President Baker was waiting for us with his two assistants and welcomed us. Then we came to Kaohsiung where there are about ten other sisters because there is a sisters conference. The apartment has the bare necessities. The humidity just hit us in the face and there's a funny smell in the air like "soot." I just kind of looked around but wasn't sure what to think, I was too tired to think. ...We were woken up by what sounded like 15 roosters that crowed for what seemed to be a half an hour." The next day I wrote, "I still can't put my finger on the smell in the air. It is a cross between grease, soot, and popcorn. I have a feeling I'm going to get used to it and that's scary." Well, I did get very used to it very quickly after that.

I wrote so much more than that, in great detail. One last thing I wrote the second day I was there is noteworthy: "I know I'm going to come to love this, I told myself I would love this, it will just take some time."

I grew to love it very, very much, not because of the smell in the air or the food that took me forever to get used to but because of the people. I grew to love the Chinese people and I grew to love the other missionaries I served with. That's what makes a mission. That's why today, 30 years later, I delighted to see an old friend. He was concerned about his gray hair. I told him I was a grandmother. We both laughed. A little later as I was walking along I saw him sitting at his computer with a big smile on his face. How could we both help but smile...
This is what the humidity did to my hair. Ugh. This was a transfer day across the city. We just strapped everything onto my bike and my companion's bike and off we went.
At a baptism with one of my companions.
In front of the chapel in Taichung.
With another companion at the 
groundbreaking ceremony for the Taiwan Temple.
And last but not least,
my favorite friend and companion of all...

Monday, February 6, 2012

"The Opportunity To Serve A Mission Is Wonderful"

"Dear Family,

Cracker Capitol of Brazil, sounds exciting right? But it really is a great city, I don’t really know why, but almost every city here is known for something. My last area was the baseball cap capitol, and here they make a lot of food. I arrived here in Marília safe and sound on Tuesday night, and I am now serving in the Iguatemy ward with Elder L...I think I told you this before but I already lived with Elder Maringá and we were trained by the same missionary. I am very exited to work here with Elder L..., we are already good friends and he is a great missionary and this is one of the best areas in the mission. This is going to be a great transfer. Things are going great here; we had a baptism this week... the girlfriend of the member of our ward. She read the whole Book of Mormon in 2 weeks!...It was a great baptism and there were a bunch of members there to support.

Our Zone has 11 companionships making it one of the biggest in the mission (there is one other zone that has 11 companionships). We also have two areas in other cities and two companionships of sisters.... We are also living in a four[some], the house is good and clean but the water always runs out. It’s not that big of a deal.

We had a great week, we are already seeing that the Lord is blessing us a lot, we found a lot of good new investigators almost every day... It has been quite hot, this area is quite a bit hotter then in Apucarana but summer should start to wind down here pretty soon so the intense heat wont be for long.

I am out of time again but I bear my testimony that the Church is true, I know that God loves us very much. I know that the opportunity to serve a mission is wonderful, the things that I am learning here I couldn’t ever learn any other way. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be able to dedicate a small part of my life to help other people. I know that Christ lives and that He love us, this is His church."

Last week I mentioned to Ian in my e-mail that he was hitting his "six months to go" mark in February. He e-mailed back and said, "I have seven months Mom, don't cut my time short." I well remember what it was like to see my mission time slipping away in front of me. At this point in the mission, gone are the early days of homesickness and loneliness. The language is no longer a problem and the sheer joy of missionary work seems like a constant companion. I'm happy for Ian. I am happy he is happy. Just look at this picture he sent. That's the joy of service written all over his face. Love him. Miss him.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Well Done

I have been very impressed with the Bible Videos the Church has been producing. This is the project that I was involved with last fall. I was an extra in one of the videos yet to be released. They have been releasing them slowly but I think they are all very good so far. I saw one today about the one where Jesus teaches the Samaritan woman at the well. It's the one the women who were auditioning had to do so I know the dialogue well because I had to memorize it. The woman who was cast as the Samaritan woman did this very, very well I think. I am still humbled every time I see the person who portrays Jesus. Meeting him in full makeup and costume on the day I participated in my background role was an unforgettable experience for me. He was very kind to me and obviously he was just an actor but I was deeply, deeply touched by our conversation. I will never forget that. I have been told that they will continue to shoot more New Testament bible videos this spring and I am looking forward to being a part of them if they need me. For now, I'll post the latest video. I had a lovely Sunday today. The weather has been great and as always, I love going to church on Sundays. Nothing would be completely right for me if I didn't. Happy Sunday.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Different Kind Of Friday Night Date

I was looking forward to a Friday night date tonight. Jim and I went to Rumbi Island Grill for dinner, I love that place. Then we drove down to IKEA. Jim had never been there. I have been there once. It's  a bit overwhelming for me because it's SO huge. Once is probably enough for Jim.

We were on our way home and I thought we had a great date because it wasn't a date to the Home Depot. :)

We were almost home when we got a call from Seth. "Mom, uh, I ran into a house and cut my head open." After five kids and many cut heads I thought I was done with this stuff. "Is it bleeding Seth?" "Yeah, a lot... here Shanon's Dad wants to talk to you." Seth was at Shanon's house for her 18th birthday party. Shanon's Dad told me Seth lost quite a bit of blood and it looked like he needed stitches. He gave us directions to his house. When the Dad gets on the phone you know it's serious.

We found the house and I found Seth on a couch surrounded by several very excited friends. Shanon's parents told us they cleaned up quite a bit of blood. Sure enough, it was obvious that Seth needed stitches. On the way out of their home Seth reenacted the head smacking into the wall by the front door. Eeeesh.

Oh the drama...
It was too deep for the glue they sometimes use.
After about 45 minutes or so
Seth had a clean wound,
seven stitches,
antibiotic ointment, 
a band-aid,
a life long wound to scar
front and center on his forehead
...and a headache.
One of
our more memorable 
Friday night dates I'd say.

I thought I was done with kids and stitches,
I guess not. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six More Weeks Of Winter

I have no idea who started the "Groundhog Day" tradition. I suspect it was somebody in Pennsylvania who was sick of winter. It's a fun tradition I suppose. Today we learned that there will be six more weeks of winter. Easy enough, just look at the calendar, why bother with a groundhog? :) We've had such a nice pleasant winter this year that I say, "fine, no problem." I never thought I'd say that about a Utah winter! But in anticipation of what happens in the spring, I'm posting a few pictures I took a few years ago of the tulips on Temple Square to whet our appetite for warm weather and spring flowers.
Spring's right around the corner 
no matter what the groundhog says!