Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grandparent visits are the best!

I guess since Grandpa and Grandma Larson are back for another visit, I should blog about their visit this past May. We LOVE when they come, and feel so luck they come so often! Here they are pictured at Adam-on-di-amon. We had a lot of fun touring the LDS Church History that is around the area!
We started in Independence, which is about 50 miles from the Air Force Base. This is where the Saints settled after leaving Kirtland, and before being exterminated from Missouri, and forced to Nauvoo. The Prophet Joseph Smith had dedicated this site for a temple, but they were forced to leave before a temple could be built. It is believed Independence will be "Zion" when Christ comes again to the Earth.

Not far from Independence, on the North side of Kansas City, is Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith was a prisoner on false charges. It is so neat. They have the original jail, surrounded by a Visitor's Center. A very spiritual experience to learn about his trials while in prison, and what the Lord revealed to him about how we can deal with our own trials (D&C 121-123); that they will be but a small moment, and if we endure them well, we will be blessed.

Then we traveled to some of the grave sites of the special witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Those who saw the gold plates, and bear testimony of it in the preface of the Book. There is the "Monument of the Three Witnesses" in the private cemetery, which the church owns. David Whitmer was buried in the public cemetery not far away. There are many other familiar early church members buried in these cemeteries.

We also visited Far West, MO. This is where the saints had settled for a short time after leaving Jackson County. There was this site, dedicated for a temple. They even laid the 4 cornerstones, which are still in place. But, had to leave before the temple could be completed.

Then it was a short distance to Adam-on-di-amon. Although there are no buildings, or guided tours, this is one of the most sacred places I have ever visited. It feels so calm there. This is believed to be part of the Garden of Eden. Also, there is a small marker where Joseph Smith said there once stood a Nephite alter. It is now mostly farming land, however, it is beautiful, peaceful, and amazing.

Along with our church history sites, we also had did a lot of other fun things with Grandma and Grandpa! We went to the Deanna Rose Farmstead. This is a free place where you can see animals, fish, ride donkeys, play on the playgrounds, visit an Indian encampment, watch a cow get milked, ride miniature tractors, walk through the gardens, etc. It is fun! We actually ran into the Mormon missionaries there... they volunteer there 4 hours a week. Grandpa even got to get a smashed penny to add to his collection!

We made sure to hit a Royals game!
Our boys LOVE the new Outfield Experience. They can bat, ride a carousel, mini golf, pitch, race, etc. They love it... and we use it as a bribe to get them to sit well through the first 5 innings!

There are fountains across the outfield. I didn't know that Kansas city has the 2nd most fountains of any city in the world.... I think Venice is #1. Some are small, but all are neat.

Thanks to our good friend, Brad Cochran, we were able to get a private tour of the B-2 Stealth Bomber! These things are INCREDIBLE! Driving out the flight line, we also saw the A-10s, and the T-38s on the runway, as well as the visiting F-15s. Also, got to see some inert nuclear bombs! Pretty fun to be taking pictures while standing on a line that says "photography is prohibited". :)

Next, we visited the National WWI Monument and Museum. Gpa, Gma, Dad and Cooper toured the museum, then we all went up to the top of the monument, which gives you a great view of downtown Kansas City.

This is a neat picture inside the museum, of the reflection of the monument onto the glass floor. Under the floor are the fields of poppies. I never knew why the poppy was "the" flower of WW1. It is because in the bunkers and war fields, amid all the artillery and dead bodies, the poppies would continue to grow as wild flowers all over!

View from the top of the WWI Monument.

Instead of driving the hour back to base, we decided to stay the night in a hotel in the city. They boys had fun swimming. Cooper is our daring swimmer, and Gunner loves to chill in the hot tub. :)

We walked around The Plaza, and outdoor shopping area. It is the OLDEST and FIRST outdoor mall in the United States! The architecture is really cool. Lots of painted tile. It also has lots of fun fountains. The boys thought this one was funny, cause it looked like the little boy was peeing on the frog. Oh, the sense of humor of little boys! We made sure to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. Yum!

And, of course, some of the best memories from Grandpa and Grandma visits... reading stories, playing board games, going on walks, lots of staying up late and missing naps, getting lots of treats, "10-count grips", smears, and wrestling with Grandpa, a short-order cook who makes anything you want to eat, and more! For Andrew and I, it means, NO changing diapers, NO having to give baths, lots of help, and endless good conversation. We love you guys!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baptism for the Browns!

I hope I never forget what a neat experience to be a part of Roxanne's baptism... from the beginning to the end (Wait! There is no end... it is and eternal gift!).

I had finished coaching a soccer game, and Roxanne came up to me and asked, "Can I talk to you for a second?" All I knew at the time, was Roxanne was Taylor's mom. :) She said, "I have some experience with this with my ex-husband's family..."

I thought she was talking about something I'd done wrong... like abused her son or something. :) You just never know as a coach what the parents are thinking!

She continued... "and I've been meaning to ask you for a long time... are you Mormon?"

Phew! Much easier to answer than the abuse fear! :)

"Yes!", I said. "Are you?"

"No... but, I want to be!", she answered. (the conversation continued about Taylor having gone to church for about a month while she and her husband's deployments overlapped... ya, can you imagine?! Basically, Taylor talked about how much he liked church. Roxanne was ready to make big changes in her life, and she noticed our garment lines and BYU apparel. :))

What?! Was it really that easy... missionary work, I mean. But, I've come to find out through Roxanne's conversion, that IT IS really THAT easy for those who are prepared to hear it.

We just happened to be having the missionaries over for dinner that week, and invited them to come.

"Really?!", she asked. "You would do that?!"

She acted surprised at the invitation... I was thinking, "Are you kidding me? I dream about missionary opportunities like this!"

The rest is history. :) Elder Barnes, and Elder Gallegos taught Roxanne in our home over the next several weeks, and on May 9, she was baptized! I should mention what a neat feeling there was in our home as the missionaries and Roxanne visited frequently!

I am so happy for Roxanne. She has never looked back. We have become very close friends, as well. We even had the opportunity a few weeks after she was baptized, to accompany her to the temple in St. Louis, where she was baptized for the dead, including some of her own deceased family whom she remembered. It is amazing what the Gospel can bring into people's lives. Throughout the whole process I realized all the blessings we have through our Savior, Jesus Christ. And, the blessings of eternal families... and even the "harder commandments" don't seen hard when you realize the blessings that come through living righteously. For instance, Roxanne expressed concern that as a working mother, Sundays had been her only day to get housework and errands done, so keeping the Sabbath Day holy sounded hard... but, later said, "Just like tithing, I know that if I give the Lord something, he'll give me back even more!" It is SO true! Sacrifices bring such great blessings.

Baptism is such an amazing blessing... a chance to be washed CLEAN! A chance to make promises to our Heavenly Father that you will live your life for Him... but, also a chance to get unlimited blessings for your sacrifices.

Roxanne, I love you. Thank you for making me realize how special the Gospel is... and, how blessed we are to have "the plan". To know what we are battling through life's challenges for a reason. To remember how important it is for us to always be working at being better. To realize how important it is to be examples to those around us, so that they too can come unto Christ.

So... it continues... and because of Roxanne's example, her mom is getting baptized tomorrow! Seriously SO cool!

Monday, September 14, 2009

He did it... AGAIN! {13.1 miles}

We are so proud of Daddy... who did it again! Andrew ran 13.1 miles in the Warrensburg Half Marathon (the town about 10 minutes from base). And, not only did he run it... he ROCKED it! He had a time of 1:47! (He'll argue it was 1:48, but he didn't look up until AFTER he crossed the finish line. :)) That's just barely over 8 min. miles! He beat his time from his half marathon in April by about 10 minutes! He was so fast, he didn't even get to here the last few songs on the surprise playlist I made for him! AND... drumroll...... he took 2ND in his age division! (He claims there were only 2 in his division... which IS NOT true...)

We loved being Daddy's support crew! Cheering him on at mile 6, and at the 10/11 1/2 cross street, and of course the FINISH LINE! The boys couldn't wait for him to get to the crowd... they ran down to meet him, just coming over the hill (Yes, the last mile was a big hill! Actually, the last 7 miles were all big hills! Supposedly it's a pretty hard course!).
There were lots of people we knew who ran... this is one of them, Rich Reed. Rich was the YM president, Andrew is 1st counselor, at church. He is also the head coach of Cooper's U-7 soccer team, and I am the assistant coach. The boys LOVED that DQ was a sponsor! The "ice cream man" was a hit at the finish line.

I wasn't able to run this race for various health reasons (no, I'm not pregnant :))... but, lots of my running buddies did it! I was so proud of all of them! (Jayne, Michelle M., Pat, Christine, Julie, Sarah) I would try and run about 6 miles of their long runs with them... We have a running group called W.O.W (Women of Warrensburg Running Club). I LOVE having good running buddies at the gym, and on my weekend runs! I was especially proud of Jayne (in black), who recently moved into our ward. She was my facebook friend prior to coming, and had said she didn't think she could do it, but she trained hard, and did it!!! Pat (in the hat) is one of my idols too... she has run several ultra-runs (I'm talking 100 mile races!). She runs to meet us, runs with us, then runs some more. What an inspiration! She says she can do it cause she didn't start when she was young. :) She said, "We're just like chicken, we get tougher as we age!" All of these ladies are just such great people, and I feel lucky to know them. There are several others, who didn't run this race (some worked the aid stations and registration though), who I have grown to be great friends with too. Michelle S., Jaime, Megan, Amber, Deana, Rebecca... sorry if I forget anyone! I'm so lucky!
p.s. I can't believe it's been so long since a post again... I need to start doing better! I promise to start doing better!