Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cold Days; Warm Friends

On one Christmas card from tropical California was an envious note saying, "You'll probably have a white Christmas." To which Ranelle quickly replied, "We will, but we'll trade you."

Christmas is now past, and in its wake many warm memories. Like Ranelle suggested in her last blog: "overall, the Lansing, Michigan people are some of the most kind and courteous we have ever known." The most overt kindnesses are of course, individual and personal, but even the kind acceptance of so many who were until recently but strangers is most humbling. Example: just today Ranelle and I spoke in the St. Johns [Michigan] branch. They are thirty miles to the north but as we watched the crowd arrive we were thrilled to see perhaps fifteen very good friends. We waved back and forth as they spotted us, and felt affirmation of the Savior's admonition to "love one another."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009 - Taking Joy in our Homes and the Season

As we were enjoying these pictures, John commented on how our Father in Heaven has blessed us so richly--beyond our wildest dreams. All our needs are met. We recognize the privilege of living in comfort--to have such a lovely place of retreat from the varities of the world, to be warm when it is cold outside and cool when it is hot, to retreat from the brazen ugliness of the world and the harshness of some of today's societies. It is the time of year to take stock of such things.

How quickly the fall semester has passed. We've shared the "ups-and-downs of romance, engagements and weddings, new students moving in, and other moving out and on to something else. We've seen growth in these wonderful young people, especially the beginning college-students who arrived in the fall. We've taken special joy as we've shared experiences with those who have come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have been baptized into His true Church.

We've finished another semester. In a few days the students will complete their finals and leave us all alone for the holidays. Still, our social calendar seems to fill up. Local members of the Church are concerned that we are not alone at such a "family time of the year." And there are projects we've anticipated we might be able to accomplish during this time with fewer scheduled obligations. And though we are without our children and grandchildren, our brothers and sisters and their families, we have each other--this great blessing we value! WHERE WE ARE TOGETHER, THERE IS HOME!

Our Michigan Home

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

At times home-bound simpletons perceive the limits of the world extend but to the limits of their myopia. And then they go missionarying. Suddenly, with newly-prescribed "cheaters" they learn that not only do far-flung stakes of the church exist, but they even thrive. Cases-in-point: Muncie, Indiana Stake; Lansing, Michigan Stake. Furthermore, these simpletons learn first-hand that not only are those mission fielders "Mormons" in name, but they actually live the doctrines of the gospel, and they teach and garner up the same principles of truth as do the Saints at home. Furthermore, those simpletons discover that far-flung stakes contain brothers and sisters of uncommon warmth, and intelligence, and stature--matching or exceeding (is it possible?) those they knew at home!

Last night, for instance: driving out the stakehouse parking lot, my missionary companion blurts out: "My, WHAT wonderful people!!! She was ecstatic. And for good reason: slightly less than one year ago not one of those people knew--nor cared--that John and Ranelle O'Dell even exist. (Note: from past experience we knew they existed, but knew absolutely not one of them.) And now, after a rich and warm stake social, we discover we not only know a hefty percentage of them, but we love them, too. And our friendships, some of them, promise to extend far into the future.

And all of that because of one simple phrase: "Yes, we will go."