As we sit here in Camden on the Sunday before Christmas, our hearts are happy and full for all the wonderful experiences we have had this past week. We did a lot of visiting and met some wonderful new folks. Again we put some mileage on our car. We went out to visit Miss Ernestine Vick Mannes on her 93rd Birthday. She is the Matriarch of many of the members of our branch. (4 generations) Some of them are very active and others are not. She reminded me a lot of Grandma Murri in those last years, so happy to have her family all around her....the most important thing in her life. Some of the Relief Society sisters met there to sing happy birthday to her and then we went Christmas caroling to Sister Barbara Kirchharr another Matriarch and then to our Branch President’s home. Family is the most important thing to many of these people, even the ones who have quit coming to church. The next night we went home teaching with our Branch President, President McIntosh. Most of the people call him Uncle Bubba. He is loved by everyone in the community. We went tout to Vredenburg to meet Donnie and Debra Kirchharr: a wonderful couple who have wonderful pictures of their heritage. Again, another tradition, the people tend to purchase the property of their family and extended family and treasure it like a photograph album I asked Donnie what he does with his property and he said, I just go up there and enjoy the beauty and quite.
Friday was the most special day. It was our weekly District Meeting which we held in Magnolia AL Magnolia is so small it doesn’t have any stores. The pictures I hope Michelle was able to put on this blog are of the First Latter Day Saint Chapel in the area. They are not sure if it was the first in Alabama. It was dedicated June 21, 1914. They will have a 100 year Celebration next June. This new chapel was built right next store.
There is a lovely cemetery to the east of the Old church. After our meeting and the wonderful lunch provided for us by some of the ladies in the Branch, we sent inside the building. The old church benches are still there. Brother Martin said originally the long benches were in the middle and the short ones on each side. They have the oldest piano I think I have ever seen. One of the early missionaries, built the pulpit. Two of our young Elders even got to “pull on the bell” Sister Martin brought out the book that has been kept of all the missionaries who have served in Magnolia. There were a lot of pictures and history in that little book. A real TREASURE. Brother Martin said LeGrande Richards came to that chapel several times to speak at different conferences.
The Church no longer owns the building, but deeded it to the Magnolia Cemetery Historical Group. (That is Brother Martin)
Saturday was another special day. We went up to Birmingham to the Mission Christmas Party. Our mission is so large in numbers that they divide the mission into thirds and we each had a party. I would guess there were more that 100 of us yesterday. Wonderful food!! A MIRACLE TO SHARE...you know that I went faithfully to Curves before I came out and had a lot of great friends there. One of those friends moved to Alabama about a year and a half ago. I admit that I had forgotten that she and her husband came here for his work. So can you imagine my surprise when we walked into the cultural hall for the lunch and this woman came up to me with tears in her eyes...”.Sister Hepworth do you remember me? “ She was so familiar, but I couldn’t remember....then she said...”you know, from Curves?” It all came rushing back and how wonderful for both of us to meet in this huge state of Alabama. Sister Lemon is the Relief Society President of the Bessemer ward and she and her ward sisters had done two of these missionary lunches. She said she had just in the last couple of days received an email from Esther Brown (of Curves) telling her that we were in Alabama on a mission. What are the chances that we would meet so quickly!!! A blessing for us both.
Since about 2:00 am last night, it has been raining SO Hard. Thunder and lightening like I have never seen before. We even had a leak in the roof about 5:00. Grandpa came back to bed, and felt water. It had flooded all over our desk and all the papers. We mopped up with towels, moved the desk, spread out all the papers to dry and went back to bed. It is now 5:00 Sunday evening and it is still raining. Grandpa just came and asked me if I had all the animals packed? I looked at him strangely....he said...”you know...for the ARK!” At church they told us this wasn’t much of a storm....wait until spring! You get it frozen and we get it wet!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EACH OF YOU!