Our Church Communication Training in Salt Lake

We spent 2 days this week in Salt Lake being trained for our upcoming mission in the Area Office in Central Europe.  This board shows the couples like us all around the world who are doing this job.  We’ve now learned more about exactly what that job entails and we are really excited.  Lyle and Cricket Parry led this training and they brought in several specialists to help prepare us for our assignment.

Here’s our agenda and a listing of the things we learned:

To put things simply, these are the purposes of our communication job:

We learned about writing press releases and news articles.  We learned about meeting with government and civic officials and building relationships.  We learned how to use the software that will help us keep track of our work.  We learned about using social media and photography and release forms.  We learned how the communication departments are organized and who does what where.  We learned about legal issues and how to take care that we are representatives of Jesus Christ at all times.  We learned a lot of other things too that will be important in our work.

Here is an interesting visual of how internet use has grown and spread in the world.  Much of our work will be using social media to share our message of goodness and hope.

We served with the Parrys in West Africa.  They were the communication couple in Accra while we were in Abidjan and Bamako.  We love being with them.

Work on the Salt Lake Temple continues.  The Joseph Smith Building where we met is also being renovated.  The center of Salt Lake is one big construction zone right now.

We are really happy and really excited to get going.  This mission will be very different from missions I’ve served:  Proselyting in South Africa,  Humanitarian work in Nigeria, Mission Leaders in Yakima, Member Leader Support in West Africa.  We are both excited to learn to do new things in Europe.  We leave in a week!

Posted in Missions | Leave a comment

Devastating Fire in Hawaii

This beautiful little piece of paradise is no more.  My newsfeed this morning was filled with flames.  The town of Lahaina has burned to the ground.

Here are 2 color photos of what it looked like yesterday and what it looks like today:

13 August Update:  They are calling this the deadliest fire in US history in the last century.  The death count is up to 90, but those are only where they were able to find human remains.  Most were burned beyond recovery.  It’s heartbreaking and tragic.

No one woke up that morning thinking “this is my last day on earth.”  No one surviving could have imagined that everything they owned would be completely destroyed in a few hours, melted to ash, left as stubble.

We think we are in control of our lives.  We think we can control our future.  But things can change in an instant.  Poof.

There was an accident.  You have cancer.  Your job has been eliminated.  Your child turns from you.  Your spouse walks away.  Your computer crashes.  Your winning streak ends.

You just never know what tomorrow will bring or where you may wake up.  We must LIVE EVERY DAY and be grateful for the good around us.  And Know that there is a God in heaven who loves us No Matter What happens here on earth.


Posted in Insights and Thoughts | Leave a comment

Midway Quilters, saying farewell for awhile

Who would have thought a few months ago when we started this little quilt group, that we’d all become such dear friends so quickly!  Today we met at the home of Kristen Sumsion in Park City.  She is a delight!  We had a delicious lunch, then shared our recent projects.

Kristen showing Caryl a old quilt her grandmother made.

Melissa is binding this posy quilt.

I brought my English Paper Pieced Stars quilt to show.  Several of them are working on hexagon quilts with the same method.  This is another quilt that’s been in the works for many years.

Caryl finished 2 beautiful patriotic quilts since we last saw her.  They are fantastic!

And I brought my finished Stars in the Garden to share.

And then it was time for another batch of goodbyes.  It’s a little easier when I think “I’ll only be gone one summer.”  Before you know it, I’ll be back.

I stopped in Midway on the way home to say goodbye to my dear friend and companion, Marry Ellen Edmunds.  We laughed and cried together as we have so many times in the past.  Each time gets a little harder.  She is so dear to me.

Posted in Quilting | Leave a comment

Sunflowers in the Garden, My Blessing, His Curse

I returned from the cabin to see that John had pulled all of the large sunflowers from our backyard.  They were in Aaron’s trash can on the curb.  Some people (John) think they are weeds.  I think they are glorious, and they add a wonderful element to our yards and garden spaces.  John humors me every year by leaving some of the sunflowers for as long as he can bear it.  (He does thin them out.)  Don’t tell him, but I often plant new varieties in all shapes and sizes.  By the end of the summer, the birds and the bees are feasting on the flowers and the seeds are dropping into the soil to wait for next year.  They spread and multiply and do their cheery thing all over our property.

Because we are leaving soon, John decided that today he’d tackle the sunflowers in my pumpkin and berry patch in the back corner of the playground.  I let a row of sunflowers grow there by the sidewalk to stand as sentinels, keeping the neighborhood children from getting into my pumpkins and from picking all of my berries.  The sunflowers did a good job.  There was no way for the kids to enter the patch.

This is my very first year of berries!

Taking the sunflowers out is no small job.  And then you have to figure out what to do with them.  It’s easy to dump our weeds and grass clippings in the orchard across the street, but not these.

So John filled another garbage can.  Then he asked me to help him roll it to the curb. . .

. . .  which was fine . . . until I stopped hanging on to take these photos.  Too top heavy.

We ended up getting the chainsaw out and John cut them off and we filled another can.   I am sad to see them go, but understand this is part of the process.  They’ve filled the measure of their creation here.  The birds and bees and I have been happy.  I wonder who will take care of my sunflowers next summer.  And I wonder who will harvest my pumpkins and gourds and blackberries.  I hope they enjoy them.

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Did we just step away and drop down?

I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to just walk away from our home and our stuff, with food left in the fridge and freezer, clothes in the closet, my office piles everywhere, and our lives not put away.  I am wondering if we just left things when we came to earth.  Did we just step away and drop down, leaving the place we lived, the things we were doing, the projects we were working on?  When we die, will we go back to those places, those things, those projects?  It’s an interesting thought to me that I’ve never considered before.  It makes me a little bit excited to think of returning to a place I created before I came here, perhaps with unfinished projects waiting for my return.  Will I just slip back in to where I left off?  What will my place look like?  Did I choose it or was it assigned?  Will it feel completely soul-worn and comfortable?  I would like that.

Posted in Ann Lewis, Insights and Thoughts | 1 Comment

Lemonade for Sale in St Louis!

While I was at the cabin, Heidi and Adam sent a pic of the kids selling lemonade and cookies.  They had a small table with 2 posters in neon yellow and pink.  The posters said LEMONADE 50c and COOKIES 50c.
Here’s the dialogue that followed in our family chat:
Adam: These kids are making more than a resident physician per hour.  (1:06 p.m.)
Adam:  (2:19 p.m.)  OK, we have finished selling.  I want everyone to guess how much the kids made. .50 per cup lemonade, .50 per cookie.  1.5 hours of business
John: Did they sell out? $20.  I wish I had both right now!!
Aaron: $21
Claire: $71
Heidi 3 dozen cookies.  3-4 gallons of lemonade.
Graham: I bet they would have sold more if they had their team Jesus shirts on [from their Lutheran pre-school]
Aaron: Oh I thought the only cookies were the ones in the picture
Heidi: That is about 3 dozen in the pic
Adam: Should we wait for Abbey and Grann to guess?
Heidi: The other deceiving thing about this pic is that is makes you think all three kids were engaged the whole hour+.  Very much not the case.
Abbey: $45
Aaron: I’m upping my vote to $50 with the new info
John: GrAnn is at the cabin with no internet
Adam: drum roll emoji  $77.75
Claire: So most people paid $1-2?  Or did a couple people pay $5+
Heidi: The highest bill they got was a $10.  I think the man got $1 worth of stuff.  Several other decent tips with $5 bills.
Adam: I was BLOWN AWAY by how much they made.
Claire: So did they split it equally?
Heidi: Nah.  Clark got $50.  The girls split the rest.
Adam: No, Clark by far did the most work.  He was very good and worked hard.  He got $50.  Jos got $20.  Marg doesn’t even care but got the rest.
John: Awesome!  Are they paying the house for ingredients?  Perfect opportunity to teach the principle of tithing!!
Abbey: And net profit.
Heidi: Ingredients were donated by mom and dad.  Tithes will be paid but taxes will not.  Don’t call the IRS.
John: Excellent arrangement.
Adam: We used 1/3 container of Walmart brand lemonade mix which cost $7.
Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Annual Book Club Retreat 2023, Sundance

When we learned we’d be leaving on August 21st, I was really happy that I wouldn’t miss our annual book club retreat at our Sundance cabin.  When we bought this cabin about 25 years ago, one of my thoughts after walking through it for the first time was, “yes, this will be perfect for book club retreats!”  And for all these many years, it has been.  We go every year, the first week in August, Wednesday to Saturday.  We take projects, books, games, food and we do a lot of visiting.  We look forward to this week all year.

Over the years, the topics of our conversations have changed, from work and raising kids, to the challenges of aging and the heartache of some of those kids sidestepping away from us.  We’ve been through so many life lessons together, including death, divorce, serious illness and financial woes.  We’ve also rejoiced together in each success, in our faith, and in the goodness of friendship.

The cabin is a 20 min drive from our home, but when we’re there, it feels like we’ve stepped away into a distant beautiful heavenly world.  Add to that good food and good friends, and it makes for a perfect getaway.

Many in the group are serious game players.  I usually listen in and work on my quilting or family history projects.

We have a different food committee each year (the 3 members of the book selection committee that rotate), we all chip in to pay for the food, and everyone brings their favorite snacks.

This year Stephanie brought these cheery cups and sunflowers for each of us.

On Friday we went down the canyon to Timpanogos Park for our book discussion.  This time it was my turn to lead that discussion and the book was one of my very favorites, “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  I’ve read this book several  times, and I’m not done with it.  I don’t think I ever will be.  In fact, I am working on my own Encyclopedia of my not-so-ordinary life now, patterned after this book.

This book was a life changer for me.  I first read it about 10 years ago and wrote about it here:

Books and Words. “When it happens, you just know.”

I was excited to introduce this gem to my friends.  A few years ago I was heartbroken to learn that the author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, died in 2017 of cancer at age 51.  I felt like I’d lost a dear friend.  I went into mourning and read her book again.  I’ve shared this book with my writing group gals and many others.  AKR has taught me how I want to approach writing my own memoir.  For me, her words are always just right.

This is the last entry in this book:

Perhaps you think I didn’t matter because I lived–years ago, and back then life wasn’t as lifelike as it is to you now; that I didn’t truly, fully, with all my senses, experience life as you are presently experiencing it, or think about–as you do, with such intensity and frequency.
But I was here.
And I did things.
I shopped for groceries. I stubbed my toe. I danced at a party in college and my dress spun around. I hugged my mother and father and hoped they would never die. I pulled change from my pocket. I wrote my name with my finger on a cold, fogged-up window. I used a dictionary. I had babies. I smelled someone barbecuing down the street. I cried to exhaustion. I got the hiccups. I grew breasts. I counted the tiles in my shower. I hoped something would happen. I had my blood pressure taken. I wrapped my leg around my husband’s leg in bed. I was rude when I shouldn’t have been. I watched the cellist’s bow go up and down, and adored the music he made. I picked at a scab. I wished I was older. I wished I was younger. I loved my children. I loved mayonnaise. I sucked my thumb. I chewed on a blade of grass.
I was here, you see. I was.

As I discussed this book with my friends, we talked about the importance of words, and capturing our stories so they are not lost.  I shared a few things I taught in my Family History classes about writing and how very important it is to leave ourselves behind.  I am  trying to encourage everyone to start writing or to write more so the essence of our lives is not lost, so we will not have lived in vain.  Oh, how I wish everyone realized how important our own words are!

Among other things, I shared these thoughts and writing instruction with my friends:

“As long as there are words, nobody need ever die”

Arthur Henry King on Journal Writing

At the end, I encouraged each to share one thing they wanted to work on recording for their posterity.  We wrote these goals down, and you can be sure I will haunt them until it’s done!

One of our favorite meals was Buddha Bowls.  Instructions are here:

Buddha Bowls

It’s always hard to leave this place, but it was especially hard this year, because I won’t be around for awhile.  These are dear friends.  I will miss them.

Here’s my bound and finished Stars in the Garden quilt:


From the Cabin Journal:

Posted in Ann Lewis, Books | Leave a comment

We are all He has to work with.

I’ve been thinking about last week when I went to buy the binding for my Stars in the Garden quilt. I started that quilt about 25 years ago and pulled most of the fabric for it then, only finishing it this year. I bought the backing fabric after finishing the top, maybe a month or two ago. It was hard to find something that felt like the same vintage as the fabrics in the quilt.  I looked at 2 fabric shops–American Quilting and Fabric Mill. I had to find something that worked.

I returned to Fabric Mill last week to find the binding fabric. After looking at every fabric in the shop, I finally noticed one that might do the job. It was the only possibility in the shop that worked. I went with it. I felt like I was at the mercy of the fabric shop selections. It was quite good, but was it perfect? Maybe not perfect. It was a fabric with a bias print, so I had to cut the binding not on the bias. Not perfect, but good.

I‘ve been thinking that Heavenly Father probably works in the same way–he has to work with what we give him (what’s in the room or shop). There may not be any other available options at that time. Like we are the people in the room right now to work with on this mission. We may not be perfect, we probably aren’t perfect, but we are all that He has right now. We’ll have to do. So we’ll go and He’ll make the best of us. I wonder if He’s wishing He’d had more options in the room. Probably.

Posted in Ann Lewis, Insights and Thoughts | 2 Comments

Our Last Day with the St Louis Kids

I came downstairs early this morning to find Clark and John reading from the Book of Acts about Paul.  I don’t think they noticed me taking these pictures.  I love seeing Clark’s arm wrapped around John’s as they read together.  These two are so dear to me.

Our last corn on the cob together.  It’s been so good.

I squared up with Clark for his reading.  I promised him 10 cents for each book he read to me this summer.  It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always his favorite thing to do, but he stuck with it and we had some great reading time together.

Here’s the list of the books he read to me all by himself.  His reward:  a $2 bill and a golden dollar coin.  He was thrilled.

This evening the flew back to St Louis.  Saying goodbye for the next year and a half tore my heart into pieces.  Our home is so quiet now.  Oh, how I will miss these children.

This is how my heart feels:

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Sweet Summer Memories from Clark, Josie, Margot and Vivy

This morning I sat with the 3 older kids and we made a list of all of their favorite memories from this summer here. We’ve read the Paper Doll book that ends with the dolls being cut up by a boy, then flying into the little girl’s memory. I remember collecting memories from them last summer after we read that book. It was fun to do it again this summer. Here are the things, in no particular order, that the kids remembered:

Swimming in the pool and with friends and cousins and grandpa
Clark playing pickle ball and tennis with mom, especially fun at night
Watching Shrek 1 & 2
Catching a Sphinx moth, butterflies, a dragon fly, and finding a 10-striped June Bug dead
Seeing a rattlesnake at Lake Powell and 4 huge dead fish
Going to the cabin on our last night here
Eating lots of ice cream and popsicles
Josie looking at the flowers in the garden
Riding our bikes in the July 24th parade at the church
Playing with the neighbors
Doing lots of puzzles
Margot watching Sleeping Beauty, her favorite
Learning to sing Bill Grogan’s Goat and singing it a lot, Great Grandpa Art’s favorite song
Learning to sing There Were 4 Crows (not 3)
Picking lots of zucchini and cucumbers
Having Claire take pictures of us
Reading so many books
Clark keeping a list of the books read to GrAnn at 10 cents/book, earning $3.00
Josie: practicing reading
Playing with GrAnn’s watch
Eating lots of corn on the cob
Josie got a haircut on the back steps (cut 4-5″)
Josie had beads braided into her hair at Lake Powell and fingernails painted
The bees in Aaron’s house and the bee keepers coming to remove them
The big tin pan of honey comb that we drained the honey out of–it tasted minty
Eating a really good meal at Del Mar in American Fork with lots of shrimp
At Newport: playing in the sand and waves, sand crabs, eating donuts, going to the          swimming pools and hot tubs, going to the Pirates & Princesses Activities, eating hamburgers at Ruby’s the last night we were there
Playing and having sleep overs with Robins cousins
Visiting splashpads and playgrounds
Play days with friends from St Louis and Kansas City, playing Red Rover in the park
Vivy had a runny nose all the time with several teeth coming in
We went to see Newsies at the Hale Center Theater in Sandy
GrAnn told lots of stories and we gave her topics for more stories
Lots and lots of arm tickling and back scratching
Clark got a buzz haircut right before coming to Utah
The kids announced Mom is having a new baby: Margot said “Mom,” Josie said, “is,” and Clark said, “Pregnant!” We got the news after the Lake Powell trip. She’s 12 weeks, due in early February. The Robins family figured things out at Lake Powell when they heard Heidi throwing up in the morning (into the lake).
Borrowed bikes from Grammy Tammy’s, rode around the tennis court at night
Vivy learned to walk with confidence, then she learned to climb the stairs, then she learned to come down the stairs.
Vivy babbles a lot, mimicking the sounds we make.
Vivy loves going over to the family photo with her dad in it, saying, “Dadadada”
GrAnn & Grandpa opened their mission call while at Newport: Frankfurt
Riding in the airplane from STL to Newport, then SLC to STL
New pillowcases at the beach (see the video on the blog for a good laugh)
Clark discovered playing with Legos. Spent time with neighbor, Emil Azar playing with Legos in his basement.
We measured and marked heights inside the pantry door
Pool party with the cousins and eating mac & cheese from a big pot out by the pool
Visiting the moving Tabernacle Exhibit and getting Mexican food after
Claire and Graham visited from CT and helped with the honey
We had lots of pool parties with cousins and 2nd cousins
Performing the song, “Gethsemane,” while standing on the fireplace hearth (see video)
Margot ate an entire chapstick in one week. She loves putting it on and licking it off
Eating gummy frogs
Reading scriptures with Grandpa
Going to cousin Cameron’s wedding and cousin Jace’s farewell
Doing sparklers and little fireworks in the tennis court on the 24th of July with cousins
Grandpa spent a whole week planting Vinca in the mow strip
Clark and Carter (cousin) made “mint water” (in blender) to sip
Clark loved sleeping in his dad’s room, knowing his dad used to sleep there
Margot slept with Heidi and sometimes Josie
Ate black berries from Farmer Ron’s
Grandpa watched a lot of tennis. Kids always wanted to know who to cheer for.
Josie made a doll quilt with GrAnn
Making blueberry muffins and eating them all
Margot has sharp elbows and a loud personality, she can turn on a dime
Vivy took long naps, sometimes 4 hours, always pleasant to put down and to get up
Clark fell in love with the little bear quilt
Lots of sippy cups with straws, ICE drinks (“spicy”)
Lots of flautas and quesadillas
Lots of waffles and french toast and scrambled eggs
Lots of cartons of milk in the fridge: whole for Vivy, 2% for the kids, 1% for Heidi, skim for GrAnn & Grandpa
Walked to the Shave Ice Shack on 400 South and State.  Got a HUGE snow cone.
Clark coming down from his bed multiple times at night with interesting questions
Lots of sad hugs at departure

Here’s a link to the Paper Doll book if you missed seeing it:

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment