The Exchange–Your Children and Mine

2017-8-8 Elder Kiser Family (15).JPG

My life is filled with amazing young men and young women who are willing to leave home and family for 18 months to 2 years so they can help others feel joy and come closer to Jesus Christ and learn of His gospel and doctrine.  That’s no small thing in today’s world.  They not only give up being with friends and family, they live out of 2 suitcases, assigned to places they’ve never been, living with companions they’ve never met.  They talk to strangers, every day, in every sort of weather.  They do hundreds of hours of community service (from dancing with Alzheimer’s patients in care centers to pulling weeds in hot prickly places so children’s bike tires aren’t punctured).

They study the life of Jesus Christ and study scriptures every day.  They interact with people of all faiths, backgrounds and personalities.  They are welcomed into homes and they have doors slammed in their faces.  They learn from other points of view and share what they know to be true.  Some do all this in another language.

They also learn how to live away from their moms, managing their time, doing their own laundry and cooking, and getting around town without devices connected to the internet. They learn how to work hard.  They have only one preparation day a week where they can take care of their own needs like shopping or doing laundry or writing letters or emails home.

These young folks learn how to set goals and achieve them.  They learn how to speak to individuals, groups, and even crowds.  They learn to think critically and question things they don’t understand.  They become readers and students, gospel scholars and friends.

They develop social skills and manners.  They learn telephone etiquette and how to write thank you notes.  They learn to exercise and eat well.  They learn how to travel and appreciate differences.  They learn to clean toilets and wash their own cars.  Some learn how to ride bikes all over again.  Every day, every hour, they are learning and changing.

All these things they do without their Moms.  During the last 2 years, I’ve become a Mom to hundreds of these amazing young people.  I watch them come, scared, homesick,  awkward, lonely, timid and hopeful, and I see them go home bright, bold and strong.

This month, 23 of my mission children will return home to their parents and 29 more will leave their families to come here.  Those who go are not the same people they were when they arrived here.  They come and they change.  And they change me.  They stretch my heart out.  My life becomes larger because they are in it; I feel more filled with love and hope and goodness.

Today was a day when a good sized group of them returned home to their families, to their Moms.  It’s the Exchange.  Yours for mine and mine for yours.  For 18 to 24 months, I’ve been a Mom, a Teacher, a Cheerleader, a Confident, a Nurse, a Grammar Nazi, a Chef, and a Distributor of Hugs.  And then the day comes when they return home.

It’s a bittersweet day for me, today in Yakima, as photos come into my phone of airport reunions and embraces I can’t feel from here.  I love these missionaries and what they do and who they become.  I love them with all my heart.

I pray every day that I will change just a little bit as each one of them changes.  They are a gift to this world, and to me.  If you ever see one of these good souls, I hope you’ll sit down with them and listen to what they have to say.  Ask them what they learned while they were away.  Ask them how they changed.  And pay attention to what they say.  They speak truth and they have had some remarkable experiences.

There are not many things that would entice me to leave my own children for 3 years to be here with yours, but this is an Exchange that has become a treasure to me.  Thank you for sharing.

2017-8-8 Elder King Family

“I promise you that as you lift those around you, the Lord God, the Creator of the universe, will lift you up. If you will only believe and incline your heart to our Beloved Father, He will place within you a peace that surpasses understanding. He will give you joy. May each of you always remember this.”     –President Uchtdorf

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A Red Letter Day in a White Coat. Student Doctor Adam Lewis

2017-7-29 KCU White Coat CeremonyThis morning in Kansas City, Adam, our firstborn was welcomed into the medical world at Kansas City University.  During the White Coat Ceremony, each new medical student receives their white coat, a huge honor.  He is finally on his path!2017-7-29 Adam White Coat Ceremony KCU (3)Adam (Waldo) is smack dab in the center of this picture:2017-7-29 Adam White Coat Ceremony KCU (4)Here is is accepting his coat, before the faculty put it on him:2017-7-29 Adam White Coat Ceremony KCU (2)I am so proud.  Adam is a bright light of goodness wherever he goes.2017-7-29 Adam White Coat Ceremony KCU (5)There are a few BYU Grads who were accepted at KCU, including his brother-in-law, Jared Bodine holding Clark’s cute little cousin Reese in the pink:2017-7-29 Adam White Coat Ceremony KCU (6)

This is mostly how  Adam lives in my mind.  My how the years have gone by.  Now he’s a Father and I’m a grandmother and he’ll be a doctor someday.

Lewis, Adam with hose

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A Visit from Roger & Jeanne Minert

2017-7-21 Whistlin Pete's with McBeans (52)

This morning we stopped at Johnson’s Fruit Stand for delicious cherries, apricots, plumcots and peaches.  I love the feel of this family fruit farm.  We also picked up a warm cherry pie and some oatmeal pear cookies, our favorites!  We had company coming!2017-7-17 Monday Office (7).JPG2017-7-21 Whistlin Pete's with McBeans (47)2017-7-21 Whistlin Pete's with McBeans (50)

This evening our guests arrived–Roger and Jeanne Minert from Orem and her sister, Lori and husband Oscar from Kennewick.  We had a wonderful evening visiting, and catching up on things at home and in the world out there.2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit (1)

In September of 2003 I registered for a German paleography class at BYU.  Roger was my professor.  That was the beginning of a huge shift in my world.  Roger taught me how to read old German handwriting, opening to me the world of my ancestors.

I went on to take every class Roger taught at BYU, and I became a full time student for the next 10 years, studying primarily Family History and Church History, but also German, and all sorts of Religion classes.  My world grew in ways I never could have imagined!  I owe much of the Family History world I live in to Roger Minert.

In 2009 John and I traveled to Berlin, Zwickau, Poland, Nurmberg, Auschwitz, Birkenau and throughout Germany with Roger and Jeanne.  He went with me to meet with the archivists and town historians in my ancestral home town in Grossgartach.  I am not the same because of what he has taught me and helped me to do.  We had a great reunion.

2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit (4)Roger brought me a copy of his latest publication:2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit.JPG2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit (8)2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit (16)2017-7-21 zMinerts Visit (19)

It was a pretty perfect evening.  I stayed up late looking at German records, just because I know how.  I’m so grateful for that!

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Moving Day for Adam, Heidi and Clark

2017-7-22 Moving Adam's Family (3)

It shouldn’t feel so sad because we are so far away, but it does.  Adam and Heidi and little Clark drive away tomorrow in this big truck filled with everything they own.  They are leaving the Farm House where they’ve spent the first 3 1/2 years of their married life.

Clark has been helping with the cleaning.2017-7-22 Moving Adam's Family (6)2017-7-22 Moving Adam's Family (4)Everyone in town will be missing this little guy.  But his dad’s going to be a doctor one day and they are on their little way. . . .2017-7-22 Moving Adam's Family (5)I am trying not to cry here in Yakima.

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The Bamako Mali Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized 9 July 2017!

2017-7-8 Mali Branch Organized

The first LDS Branch in Mali was organized today in Bamako! A second group was organized near Ouelessebougou in the village of Farako. My friends in Mali rejoice today. I rejoice with them!

On May 23, Elder Bednar visited Ouelessebougou to meet with the new Saints there.  We have been cheering them on from here.   Here is his welcome:2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (2)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar in Mali (1)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar in Mali (2)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (1)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (3)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (4)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (5)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (6)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (7)2017-5-23 Elder Bednar In Ouelessebougou (8)Following that visit, approvals were given to organize the Church in Mali.

From: Terence M Vinson
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 4:43 PM
To: Paul Cazier
Subject: Branch in Bamako

Dear Paul

Your prayers have been answered. We have received approval to include Bamako and the areas within a radius to the north, east and south of Bamako including the Chicken Farm and Ouelessobougou, within the Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan Mission, and to create a Branch of the Church within the Bamako area.

The current mission president, President Sahy, concludes his three years as president on 30 June, so we cannot expect him to organize for this addition to his mission with the short time remaining. So, it will be July at the earliest before we can get missionaries there, but it is hoped that we will have four missionary elders there permanently from some time in July. The members and investigators in Bamako would have a Branch President and a Mission President and all the necessary keys of the priesthood available for their spiritual progress and to provide access to all needed ordinances.

This is wonderful news and can now be shared with the members and friends of the Church in Mali.

Our intention is for Elder Nash to come to Bamako the weekend after next to create the Bamako Branch in the Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan Mission as I am assigned to create a stake elsewhere in the Area that weekend, and we both have assignments this weekend. However, I would like to travel to Bamako in July with the new mission president to introduce him to our dear friends there.

Elder Nash and I are cheering right now here in Accra.

Elder Vinson
I am also cheering, here in Yakima, for my dear friends in Mali.  I can’t wait to return to them someday.Ann in Mali

Church in Ten West African Countries


The Bamako Mali Branch (a small congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was created on July 9, 2017. Formation of the Bamako branch marks the tenth country in West Africa to have organized Latter-day Saints congregations.

Eleven new stakes or districts (smaller than a stake) have been created in the Africa West Area during 2017. Ten more stakes are expected to be created before the end of the year.
“This is incredible,” remarked Elder Vinson, who has visited Mali three times this year. “In a period of less than four months, these faithful people have gone from never having had a Church leader visit their country, to becoming an organized unit and having leaders with priesthood keys to administer the affairs of the Church.”
“The Lord’s hand has clearly been manifest in His work in Mali. The people are thoroughly interested. They are prepared to . . . discuss and learn more, as the gospel ‘becomes delicious’ to them,” said Elder Vinson. “We have strong leaders and impressive future leaders as pioneers of the Church in Mali.”

As part of the organization of the Bamako Mali Branch, Kouassi Vance Abissa was named branch president, with Prince Gankama Bouala as his first counselor and Pierre Bayo as second counselor. Sunday meetings will be held in a rented hall in Bamako.

Leaders also organized the Farako Group for members and others living outside of Bamako, near a large farming village. Dramane Bagayoko was named group leader of the Farako Group.

Arnold Odonkor, Africa West Area Manager of Member/Leader Units, accompanied Elder Vinson during his visit to Mali. He had been asked to identify members of the Church currently living in Mali.

“We knew we had 18 members of record living in Mali. During our meeting on Sunday we had 38 adults, 4 youth, and more than 50 children in attendance. Some are patiently waiting for missionaries to come so they can be baptized.”

Commenting on the meeting he continued, “I realized the Church is about families. Anytime and anywhere the Church is organized, it begins with a family. Someone accepts the truth of the Gospel and they want to share it with their family and their friends. In this way, we bless one another and bring joy to their lives.”

Other countries in the Africa West Area with organized congregations of the Church include: Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Cote d’ Ivoire, Liberia, Sierre Leone, Senegal and Guinea.

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The Dedication of the Historical Marker at the Churchville Cemetery 8 July 2017

My 3rd Great-grandfather, Theodore Turley moved his family from England to Upper Canada around 1825.  He settled in York, then later moved his family to Churchville, where he acquired some land along the Credit River.

This weekend a family history conference was held in nearby Brampton, celebrating Canada’s Sesquicentennial and the beginnings of Mormonism there.  I wish I could’ve been there.  Here are some photos of this area that I took when I visited there.

2013-6-17 Churchville (55)

2017-7-9 Churchville Historical Marker


You can watch the dedication of the historical marker here:

2013-6-17 Churchville (4)2013-6-17 Churchville (30)2013-6-17 Churchville (53)2013-6-17 Churchville (58)Many early Saints were baptized in the Credit River.2013-6-17 Churchville (61)2013-6-17 Churchville (86)This is an old home, still standing in Churchville.2013-6-17 Churchville (96)I visited Churchville a few years ago with Rick Turley, where we gathered information about our 3rd Great-grandfather, Theodore Turley.2013-6-19 Toronto Research Trip (9)

Here is this weekend’s program:

IMG_3264IMG_3259IMG_3262 IMG_3263IMG_3260

A little history about Churchville from the event website:

The village of Churchville is a designated historic conservation district in the southwest corner of Brampton, Ontario and can be reached by travelling west on Steeles Avenue from Highway 410 and turning south on the Churchville Road.

 The village was settled in 1815 by Amaziah Church and celebrated its 200th birthday in 2015.  It became part of the City of Brampton in 1974.

 From 1836 to 1839, Churchville had a thriving branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missionary work done here by Isaac Russell, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor and others brought many converts into the Church.  A 1913 article by Rob Roy in the “Weekly Sun” on April 9, 1913 said “immense crowds attended the services.”  It is estimated that there were 100 members in the Churchville branch, and baptisms were performed in the Credit River.

 Joseph Fielding, who had joined the Church in Toronto in 1836, wrote  “…at a conference held in Churchville, U.C. (Upper Canada) Brother John Taylor prophesied with much of the Spirit and great Power upon several of us present.  He said the Spirit of God should be upon Bro. Fielding and he should lift up his voice in his native land, etc.  I have not heard a prophecy delivered more manifestly by the spirit of God than this was.  From this I began to believe that the Lord had called me to go to England.”  Diary of Joseph Fielding, p. 4   Brother Fielding was with the first group of missionaries who went to England in June, 1937.

 The Prophet Joseph Smith visited Churchville in 1837 and urged members to join with the body of the Saints in the United States.  Many left their homes and families and formed wagon trains to follow their new-found faith.

 In 2017, a historic marker was dedicated in the Churchville Cemetery by Richard E. Turley Jr., a descendant of Theodore Turley, one of the early Churchville converts to the Church.

Hi Sister Lewis:
The conference went extremely well. We had about 300 in attendance from across Ontario. The reason for the conference was 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada. This was the only multi-stake event which took place in southern Ontario to celebrate Canada’s birth.
One interesting thing I learned was where the section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants was given. The revelation was given, not in Perrysburg, New York but actually outside of Perrysburg. One brother who gave a talk on Joseph Smith’s visit to Ontario (Upper Canada) in 1833. This brother visited the property (the Nickerson property) where the revelation was given.
Theodore Turley was one of the first missionaries in Boston Mills, Peel County, Ontario. This is where 3 members of the Standing family were baptized. They were John Standing Senior, James Standing and John Standing Junior.. John Standing Senior did not gather with the Saints in the United States because his wife was a devout Baptist. However, in the 1861 census for Ontario, he is listed as a Mormon. He died in 1866 and was buried in the Boston Mills Cemetery.
John Standing Junior made it to Nauvoo. He died in 1843 of measles. He is buried in the Old Nauvoo Cemetery.
James Standing was one of the first missionaries to Simcoe County which is in the boundaries of my stake, the Barrie Stake. James crossed the plains to Utah. His son, Joseph Standing, was serving a mission in Varnell, Georgia in 1879 when he was killed by a mob of religious fanatics. There is a monument to him in Varnell, Georgia. He is buried in the SLC Cemetery where there is a monument and grave marker for him. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral.
Theodore Turley may have baptized the 3 members of the Standing family. They would have known one another.
Yours truly,
Ken Sisler

P.S. Please see the new website to see photos and descriptions of Church historical sites in Ontario. There is a really good video on this website called “Joseph Smith in Upper Canada”. This video was produced in 2005. Several stakes in the Toronto area got together to make this video. The video was to remember the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith and the 175th anniversary of the founding of the church in 1830. I was actually surprised how good it was, considering it was a local production. There are other items on this website too.
Brother Turley dedicated an historical marker yesterday in the Churchville Cemetery. Churchville was a village which is now located in the City of Brampton. There was a branch of the Church in the 1830’s in Churchville. It is believed Joseph Smith visited this branch in 1837 when he visited the Toronto area. There were about 100 members in the Churchville Branch.
Brother Turley was to speak to stake presidents and public affairs leaders from across Ontario this morning in Brampton. He will be speaking at a multistake fireside tonight in Toronto.
Yours truly,
Ken Sisler


Hi Sister Lewis:
I hope you are enjoying your mission in Washington State.
We had a wonderful time at the church history conference yesterday. Brother Richard Turley gave a wonderful talk as the keynote speaker. He discussed the history of the Church from 1830 to the 1840’s in the Toronto area.
I helped organize this conference. I made the Barrie Stake display.
Here are a few items which most people would not know about the conference. Elder Hansen, a young missionary serving in Ontario, portrayed Parley P.Pratt. Elder Hansen is a direct descendant of Lydia Bailey who was baptized in October 1833 in Mount Pleasant, Ontario.
Elder Monson, a young missionary serving in Ontario portrayed Alexander Hill Senior who was the ggg grandfather of Mitt Romney. Elder Monson’s gg uncle is President Thomas S. Monson. I thought it was approprate for Elder Monson to be in the conference because President Monson played an important role in the history of the Church in Ontario.
Elder Ballard is a young missionary serving in Ontario. He is a grandson of Elder M. Russell Ballard. Young Elder Ballard is also a direct descendant of Mary Fielding so he played Joseph Fielding, Mary’s brother. Mary and Joseph Fielding were baptized in May 1836 in what is now Toronto.
Finally, Elder Allred is a young missionary serving in Ontario. He played James Standing who was one of the first missionaries to Simcoe County, Ontario. When I was doing some research on James Standing to write a script for Elder Allred, I found out James Standing and his family crossed the plains in 1849 in the Alan Taylor Company. The Standing family was in the Redick Allred Group of Fifty. In this group there were several members of the Allred family. Allred is a common name, even in the church. I asked Elder Allred if these were his ancestors. He said yes and Redick Allred was his ggg uncle. This story is incredible to me.
I don’t believe it is an accident these missionaries are serving in Ontario at the time of our church history conference.
Yours truly,
Ken Sisler
ewmarket, Ontario, Canada

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Cleansed through His blood

Scarlet crimson

Here is a journal entry I made on 2 April 2008:

Last night as I re-read Alma 5 in the Book of Mormon, I was impressed with the words in vs. 21-27 where it describes how “no man can be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.”

He goes on to describe standing before the bar of God with your garments “stained with blood and all manner of filthiness” and those “whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white.” Verse 27 asks if we were called to die at this time, could you say “that your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?”

Yesterday I made the Bad mistake of throwing Claire’s dark pink sweatshirt into the same batch of clothes with Adam’s favorite white t-shirt, her white volleyball socks, and a few other important items that turned pink. I spent the evening trying to make things right with Spray Wash and bleach and soaking and scrubbing. I couldn’t get all the pink out, even with bleach. I went to bed with my hands stinking of Clorox and was reading those verses while I smelled the pungent odor of bleach on my skin.

I noticed how carefully he used the words “blood” (which makes you see red) and “white” and “stained” and “cleansed” and then how the miracle of Christ’s atonement is described as making our garments white through his blood (red). There is no way you can make something white by using red (or dark pink, for that matter). For blood to cleanse and make white, it is truly a Miracle. It just struck me again, what a miracle it all is that we can become clean.

Sins Scarlet, white as snow

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