Meeting Harriet Matilda Barker Smuin

Smuin, Harriet Matilda Barker

For the last 2.5 years, the time I have to do family history research has been limited.  In my spare minutes, I’ve been adding photos and stories to FamilySearch, where others can find them.  I’ve added more than 2100 “Memories” to my gallery there.  More than 450 of those are stories and histories I’ve written or compiled.  I do this late at night, or between meetings. It’s like a reward for me–to go into another world I love with people I’ve loved but never known.

I’ve also been praying that stories and ancestors would come to me, because I don’t have time to go find them.  So many miracles have happened since I started praying for that about 6 months ago–I’ve started a notebook just to keep track of them.

Today another miracle happened.  I met my Great-grandmother Harriet Matilda Barker Smuin for the first time.  I saw her face.  Yesterday someone like me posted her photo.  I have been searching for her for years.  Interestingly, about 3 or 4 weeks ago I started praying specifically to find a photo of her.  I know God answers prayers.  I know our family members who have gone before us know us and love us still.  This photo is a sweet reminder that the bonds of family continue beyond the grave and when we turn our hearts to our fathers and mothers, they turn their hearts to us.


An earlier post from my Family History Blog, “Ann’s Stories”

Here are some pictures of Harriet’s siblings.  She looks like family!Barker siblings,Barker sisters Amy, Sarah Ellen and Lenora

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Christmas Traditions Bless our Families

2018-1-6 Traditions CMS.JPGIn the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve visited with about 170 missionaries who were away from home this Christmas.  I asked them to write down for me 2 of their family’s favorite Christmas traditions.  Actually, with most of them, I had them describe a typical Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the home where they grew up.

I loved every visit!  I learned all kinds of things about them, about their families, and about the kinds of things that matter most.  We talked about advent calendars, cutting trees, decorating trees, special ornaments, music and caroling, treats like cookies and candies and eggnog, looking at neighborhood lights, playing games, watching certain movies, going to grandma’s, special dinner menus, gift exchanges–some white elephant exchanges, some with hidden gifts or codes to figure out.   Many take trips to the Dollar Store, or receive the same gifts year after year from grandparents or loved ones.

Other activities included sleigh rides, PJ races, goose hunting, skating or skiing, hiding gifts, puppet shows, talent shows, gingerbread houses, sleepovers, setting up Nativity collections, and reading special Christmas stories.

I learned about extended family gatherings and food traditions through the generations.  All kinds of meals are served:  ham, turkey, prime rib, enchiladas and tamales, pizza, clam chowder, fondue, tacos, or food from ancestral homelands.  Some sit on the floor on a blanket and have a candlelight “Jerusalem Dinner” with foods eaten in Jesus’ day.

Some told of doing secret Santa gifts, or door bell ditching gifts for those in need.  Many visited old folks’ homes and widows.  One family shovels the snow of all the sidewalks in their neighborhood every Christmas morning before they open their own gifts.  Some give gifts to Jesus.  One family did a Christmas Jar, saving all their spare change through the year, then they delivered the full jar to a needy family.

For most, Christmas Eve includes opening new PJs and reading or acting out the Nativity Story with their families or extended families. It’s a sacred time, remembering the beautiful reason for this season.

Christmas morning breakfasts were also varied:  egg casseroles, baked French toast, sticky buns, crepes, cinnamon rolls, waffles, omelettes, cold cereal and orange rolls are favorite traditions.

As I listened for hours and hours, day after day, I was impressed by how important family traditions are in holding our families together.  Every now and again, I’d ask someone what the best gift they ever received was.  I was always surprised at the difficulty of that question, after talking about their family traditions, which just flowed out of their memories, non-stop.  Many couldn’t even name or remember a favorite gift!

For years I have focused way too much attention on the gifts, trying to be a perfect gift-giver.  I can see now that the favorite memories lie in the family traditions that hold us together.  This year, I had each of our kids make a list of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions.  I loved all the things they mentioned.  It gave me a glimpse of what matters most to them.

I think in coming years, I’ll spend a little more of my time focusing on these things that matter most as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Our Lewis Family Traditions

Stockings first, then presents
Sticky buns for breakfast Christmas morning
Not going down until after 9:00 a.m.
Eating out on Christmas Eve
Sub for Santa shopping
Putting up lights on the house and bushes
Hanging ornaments on the tree
Fruit in our stockings
Doorbell ditching gifts for others
Reading the scriptures on Christmas Eve
The Christmas countdown calendar
Christmas Eve Family History gifts

Shopping for a real tree
Setting up a million Nativities
Mexican food on Christmas Eve
Sticky buns
Special family gifts on Christmas Eve
Staying in bed until 9:00!
Lounge clothes on Christmas
German Weinachtspyramide with candles
The “wrapping room” and a hidden key
Dad and the video camera Christmas morning
Writing a letter to Santa every year
Getting a return note from Santa telling us how good we were and what to do better (practice the piano more!)

Christmas Eve, the house was always only lit by candles and the spinning Weinachtspyramide
Looking through the hole in the banister to see the gifts
Each of us had our own place to open our gifts
We always have a live Christmas tree and decorate it together
Sticky buns Christmas morning
Amazing stockings with fruit in the toe
Mom’s Christmas Eve presents for us are The Best
Cookies: Spritz, Braetzlie, Snowballs
Delivering Soup to our older neighbors
Doorbell ditching Christmas gifts
Mexican food on Christmas Eve
Setting up the Nativities
Delivering Nativity pieces each night to other families (doorbell ditching)
Searching for the wrapping room key
Doing a puzzle on Christmas Day and timing how long it takes

Reading the Nativity Story in the Bible
Reenacting the Nativity as a family with costumes
Mom’s special family history Christmas Eve gifts to the kids
Awesome, overflowing Christmas stockings
Sticky buns
Nativity Collection Display
Picking out a live tree as a family
Video taping the kids as they come down the stairs at 9:00 a.m.

Live tree with special ornaments from all over the world
Setting up dozens of international Nativities from our travels
An overnight trip to Salt Lake, staying in a hotel with the kids, shopping and eating out
Going out for Mexican food on Christmas Eve
Reading and acting out the Nativity Story Christmas Eve
Special Family History gifts for each child Christmas Eve
Letters to Santa, treats for the reindeer
Wrapping every single gift in the stockings
Stolen and hot cocoa on cold nights
Sacred Christmas Music starting the day after Halloween
Lots of children’s Christmas books

Now we’ve added Heidi and Graham to our family!

Stocking gifts
Family vacations rather than gifts every couple of years
Gift exchange themes: “the gift that keeps giving” or “a gift of an experience”
Sub for Santa delivering
Christmas jammies
No presents wrapped!

Visiting the Live Nativity in the Calgary Heritage Park
Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve so mom didn’t have to cook
Special dishes. The mugs had little pictures that would uncover as you drank from them
Sundance Lake Christmas Party and skating
Little Town model game
Secret Santa gifts
Skiing on Christmas Day (when I was the only child left at home)

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A Birthday in Yakima!

2018-1-5 z Doc of Christ (29)

It’s a new year and I’m a new age.  I was born on 5 January 1959.  Today I turn 59.  I think that’s a golden birthday, of sorts!

2017 was a wonderful year.  Most of my life is recorded daily on our Mission Blog (2000+ posts) so for now, I don’t often have time to write much here.  In 6 months we return home to our family and friends in Orem.  It’s hard to believe how time is flying by.  This week we Skyped with the couple who will be replacing us.  How well I remember the feelings and anticipation of 3 years ago as we looked forward to coming to Yakima.  It will be hard to step away from this place and the people we love here, and especially the missionaries.

This evening I got a Skype call from a room full of those missionaries in Utah who sang Happy Birthday to me.  We talked about the reunions we’ll have when we get home, and my heart started to race with joy at the thought of it.

I am so grateful for every single loved one surrounding me–here, at home, from my past, and from our missionaries and their families now.  We live in a wonderful time when tools like Facebook alert friends of birthdays.  100s of messages poured in all day today from all over the world.  I’ve heard from childhood friends, Reedley High friends, Book Club friends, neighbors, ward members, my friends in Africa and Germany, and family members.  What a gift it is to be connected!  Today has felt like a little bit of heaven on earth.  My love and thanks to each of you!

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President Thomas S. Monson (1927-2018)

2018-01-01_164249Our dear Prophet, President Monson went Home last night.  His life was filled with kindness to others.  We will miss him.

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The Lewis Family, December 2017, Yakima

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Photos by Claire

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A Lewis Family Christmas in Yakima 2017

Here is a look at our Lewis Family Christmas in Yakima this year!  I was down with the flu the week before the kids came, willing myself to be well when they arrived.  Aaron finished his last final at BYU, then flew to Yakima on the 22nd.  Adam, Heidi and little Clark arrived late on the 23rd, flying into Pasco.  Claire and Graham also flew into Pasco, arriving on the 27th.  We celebrated our Christmas on the 28th and 29th as a family.

Here I am waiting for Aaron’s arrival, trying to feel well:2017-12-22 (1)

Aaron went right to work sorting food for the missionary Christmas Breakfasts:2017-12-22 (3)2017-12-22 (5)Aaron was so helpful as we worked on Transfer Planning and had a couple missionaries returning home.

Adam’s family joined us late on the 23rd.  They brought our Best Christmas Gift Ever:  little Clark!  He’s 15 months old now, and he is ADORABLE!!2017-12-24 (1)2017-12-24 (2)

I worked on Christmas Stockings upstairs in the wrapping room:2017-12-25 (11)2017-12-25 (4)2017-12-25 (3)2017-12-27 Christmas (3)2017-12-31 Christmas (85)

And we all entertained and were entertained by Clark:2017-12-25 (7)2017-12-25 (8)2017-12-25 (9)2017-12-26 (1)2017-12-27 Christmas (1)

On Christmas Eve, we attended Church together in Yakima, then had a nice ham dinner.  We set up the Mega Bed downstairs and watched The Nativity movie.  Our Christmas Day was peaceful and fun, as we waited for Claire and Graham to arrive on the 27th.  We fixed a nice dinner and watched the Disney movie Moana that evening.  Gifts waited.

On the 26th the boys had a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit marathon.  We also had games and a puzzle going on throughout the day.  On this afternoon, we went to see the movie Coco and we Loved it!

Wednesday the 27th, Claire and Graham flew in to Pasco.  The other kids went to pick them up while John and I worked on Transfer Planning.  2017-12-27 Christmas (19)Claire and Heidi:2017-12-27 Christmas (9)

That evening, we had our Christmas Eve family time, reading from the scriptures, singing and we opened our family gifts.2017-12-27 Christmas (32)2017-12-27 Christmas (33)2017-12-27 Christmas (27)2017-12-27 Christmas (28)

We left all the paper and wrapping out so Clark would discover it in the morning when he woke.  (He’d gone to bed before we did our Christmas Eve celebrating.)  It was so fun to watch him the next morning running through the wrappings!  He squealed with delight!2017-12-28 Christmas (3)2017-12-28 Christmas (9)2017-12-28 Christmas (13)

We opened our stockings this morning and enjoyed another day of family fun.2017-12-28 Christmas (17)2017-12-28 Christmas (22)2017-12-28 Christmas (28)2017-12-28 Christmas (41)2017-12-28 Christmas (33)2017-12-28 Christmas (45)Dinner out on this evening at Zesta Cucina.2017-12-28 Christmas (49)

The kids were working on mathematical equations after dinner.  Who does that??2017-12-28 Christmas (51)2017-12-28 Christmas (53)2017-12-28 Christmas (57)Then home to the Mega Bed to watch the movie Concussion with Will Smith.2017-12-28 Christmas (62)

The 29th we stayed at home.  More books, games, puzzles and movies.2017-12-29 Christmas (2)Dinner this evening was at Miner’s–Yakima’s famous burger place.2017-12-29 Christmas (8)2017-12-29 Christmas (11)2017-12-29 Christmas (12)2017-12-29 Christmas (13)2017-12-29 Christmas (17)2017-12-29 Christmas (19)

We stopped at Krispy Kreme Donuts afterwards!2017-12-29 Christmas (24)2017-12-29 Christmas (27)2017-12-29 Christmas (28)2017-12-29 Christmas (31)2017-12-29 Christmas (38)

Then home to some ice skating down our driveway.  The boys had a blast.  The whole driveway was covered in a thick sheet of ice!2017-12-29 Christmas (41)Claire is finishing the Book of Mormon before the end of the year.2017-12-29 Christmas (44)Saturday I took the kids shopping!2017-12-30 Christmas (1)

Our favorite stop:  Carter’s for the after Christmas sales.  Clark and future grandkids are set for the next few years!!  It was SO FUN.2017-12-30 Shopping

2017-12-30 Shopping

Dinner this evening at Cowiche Kitchen.  We had a room to ourselves and it was perfect!2017-12-30 Christmas (3)2017-12-30 Christmas (8)2017-12-30 z Cowiche Kitchen

Then back home again.2017-12-30 Christmas (11)Graham learned how we make Christmas Sticky Buns:2017-12-30 Christmas (15)2017-12-30 Christmas (17)2017-12-30 Christmas (18)2017-12-30 Christmas (23)Aaron is our puzzle Meister, up late every night working on this Nativity puzzle:2017-12-30 Christmas (28)Sunday morning: Adam loves making buttermilk or Kodiak pancakes for breakfast.2017-12-31 Christmas (1)2017-12-31 Christmas (4)Aaron finally got his hair cut!2017-12-31 Christmas (6)

And then Claire took family photos!2017-12-31 Christmas (27)2017-12-31 Christmas2017-12-31 Christmas (62)2017-12-31 Christmas (72)2017-12-31 Christmas (83)New Year’s Eve Day:2018-1-1 Kids Departure (2)2018-1-1 Kids Departure (3)Aaron stayed up late last night finishing the puzzle:2018-1-1 Kids Departure (7)

New Year’s Day–heading to the airport with the kids.  Their bags are packed and bulging with Christmas and diapers stuffed in every crack!  They are all off to Utah for the next few days.2018-1-1 Kids Departure (8)2018-1-1 Kids Departure (9)Farewells are Hard.  This has been our last Christmas in Yakima.  2018-1-1 Kids Departure (11)2018-1-1 Kids Departure (12)2018-1-1 Kids Departure (13)

We headed home to welcome the next group of departing missionaries.  They fly home tomorrow and our next new group arrives tomorrow.  The good work continues.

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Thanksgiving in Yakima 2017

2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (6)We started our leisure morning with this beautiful full rainbow gracing our Yakima skies.  There was lots of visiting and catching up to do with the kids.  It’s SO NICE to have them here.  We all helped with the meal, which was simple and delicious.2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (9)Pres Lewis made his famous candied yams and the stuffing.  Claire and Graham made the potatoes and gravy.  Aaron oversaw the turkey in the crockpot:  2 drumsticks and 2 thighs.  I made fresh cranberry relish and steamed some beans.  Rolls and fresh pressed apple juice topped things off.  We ate at about 4:30.2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (10)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (1)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (11)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (13)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (14)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (15)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (16)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (17)A little relaxing after the meal.  2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (7)2017-11-23 Thanksgiving (14)

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