Our Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo

A couple weeks after I was sustained as the 2nd counselor in the Liberty Missouri Stake presidency, the executive secretary contacted me about the annual stake presidency retreat. It was held in early September, he said, and the plans for 2013 were for all of us–including our families–to rent a lake house at a wonderfully relaxing place in Oklahoma for a Thursday through Saturday night event. He gave me the dates and confirmed with me that we would be available. But partway through the summer, the plans changed.

By September, we had a new executive secretary and a new stake clerk, and the original dates for the retreat didn’t work out for one or two of the presidency. So we rescheduled the event to the end of October and asked the wife of the new executive secretary to look for possible new locations. She suggested we spend a weekend in Nauvoo, which is about a four-hour drive for most members of our presidency–and about a 3.5-hour drive for us. We loved the idea, but I pointed out that the recommended dates included a Friday night BYU football game. So, I suggested, perhaps we could have that be one of the activities.

As it turned out, Mary Ann was working nearly full time at McDonald’s by the time the retreat approached. So she couldn’t get off work, and it ended up being just three from our family–me and Mom and John. We were to meet at our hotel (some of you may remember the Nauvoo Vacation Condos) on Thursday night for an opening devotional. We made it in time, and for some reason our two-bedroom condo was selected as the gathering place. It actually worked out well, because President Sean Foley (1st counselor), his wife Vivian, and their daughter Sage were in an adjoining condo that had a connecting door. In all, we had President Jeremiah Morgan, his wife Rebecca, and their five children (ages 8-17); the aforementioned Foley family; our executive secretary Jeff Barnes, his wife Jen, and their three children (ages 6-12); and stake clerk Ben Bond, his wife Michelle, and their three children (ages 7-10).

Our Thursday night devotional went well. On Friday, we had breakfast together and then the men and children age 12 and older went to do baptisms in the Nauvoo Temple. We were then joined by the sisters and younger children. The endowed members then performed a number of sealings, while the older children took over tending the young children. It was a great experience to be in the temple together with the new members of our stake presidency. We had attended an endowment session together in September right before our stake conference, but at the conference itself we sustained a new stake clerk–so this was the first time all five of the presidency members were together in the temple with our wives. It was really wonderful. I was sad that our two assistant executive secretaries weren’t able to join us on our retreat, but hopefully they will be able to join us next year.

On Friday afternoon we had the PlayZone all to ourselves. Jeff and Jen Barnes know the owners of the facility, and they were so gracious to open it up for us. The younger kids had a riot playing all sorts of video games and climbing through the giant mouse mazes. The older kids and adults had fun at pool, ping pong, and other attractions. It was a lot of fun. But I ate a very large serving of humble pie when I took on President Morgan at a game of ping pong. Dang. That man has a wicked serve! And we all thought Grandpa Call had an incredible serve!

Later in the afternoon, the adults all met together and shared their fondest memories of the past year in the stake presidency. It was great to hear the recollections–some very funny ones and some spiritual ones. And we enjoyed getting to know the two newest members of our stake presidency better.

That night we had a great dinner that the Morgans brought from Kansas City–Smokehouse barbecue with all the fixin’s–and then we watched the BYU-Boise State football game. President Morgan, Mom, John, and I were the only ones who made it through the entire game. I think the others dropped out because of lack of interest, being tired, or being told to go to bed. But it was great to watch the game and see our stake president in a different light. Still very composed, but definitely very competitive.

The highlight for Saturday was a carriage ride. Elder and Sister Mayne are members of our stake serving in Nauvoo, and Elder Mayne was able to give us the tour. It was pretty cold and really windy, but we enjoyed the ride and learning even more about Nauvoo and the Prophet Joseph. For lunch, we all gathered at Elder and Sister Mayne’s restored 1840s house that has been turned into missionary housing. We squeezed in, but we had a fun time. We all then took off for home. It was a great weekend!


New Jobs!

Hi everyone! As many of you know, I began substitute teaching in 3 school districts here on the Wasatch Front as a hold-me-over kind of job until I begin work as a VISTA at Community Action!! I am thrilled to have been offered the job and am really looking forward to working towards improving Provo and the lives of many of its residents. I remember one time when I was 13, I told Mom I want to be in charge of how money is spent to help poor people-haha. I remember that she just kind of smiled and said, “That’s what Dad does.” I feel so blessed to be given the chance to go to work for Community Action for the next little bit! It’s interesting to me how often times we eventually get the desires of our hearts. I think Emerson and James Allen have some interesting essays on that kind of thing. Even though I haven’t made non-profit work my life goal, I have worked to find ways to improve people’s lives, and now I have this chance.

As a side note, subbing can be hard! You wouldn’t believe some of the teachers’ lack of preparation. I had a second grade class the other day with almost no material to teach or give the students to work on. They kept asking if they could just do “fast finishers.” Expecting a challenge worksheet or book or something, I said yes. They bolted for the shelves and began pulling out toys and card games! It made me remember Mrs. Ruf, my second grade teacher. I’m sure Mom and Dad remember her-she was a saint of a teacher and we always had something academic going on. Even the “fun” activities were educational. I was blessed to have her. I have to say though, for every day that I feel the teacher has left me with out a lot of help I have a teacher that has left wonderful lesson plans and class management systems for me to follow. It’s definitely been a huge blessing for me to have this job. I am able to set my schedule and work when and where I want most days. it’s been great.

I love you all!


Historic Liberty Jail Commemoration

One of the great things about living here in Missouri–and especially in the Liberty Missouri Stake–is that we have so many Church historic sites. Within our stake boundaries, we have the Liberty Jail, the Eight Witnesses Monument, the Three Witnesses Monument, Richmond Jail site (where Joseph Smith rebuked the gaurds), Far West Temple Site, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Hawn’s Mill (yes, note the corrected spelling of Hawn), and dozens of lesser-known sites such as home sites and graves of Whitmer family members, site of the surrender at Far West, Tinney Grove, and others.

Our stake presidency learned earlier this year that the Historic Liberty Jail was dedicated in October 1963–fifty years ago–by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, a descendant of Joseph Smith, Sr., through Hyrum Smith. The missionary couple that runs the Jail thought it would be a great idea to hold a commemoration of some sort, and asked us for help. Our stake president, Jeremiah Morgan, readily agreed and off we went. Members were called to organize the event from the stake’s end, and our public affairs folks went into high gear as well. Before we knew it, Elder M. Russell Ballard–also a descendant of Hyrum Smith–agreed to come and speak at the commemorative event.

Of course, we hoped that we could also have a special fireside that Sunday–13 October 2013–featuring Elder Ballard. It turns out that he would be in Kirtland, Ohio, that weekend, and that he would be coming to Liberty directly from Kirtland. Despite the long day ahead, he agreed to speak at a special fireside just for our stake.

Here's Elder Ballard speaking at the Historic Liberty Jail Commemoration. This photo was taken by Lori Garcia, a member of our stake and the wife of one of our bishops. It was printed in the Church News.
Here’s Elder Ballard speaking at the Historic Liberty Jail Commemoration. This photo was taken by Lori Garcia, a member of our stake and the wife of one of our bishops. It was printed in the Church News. Click on the photo to go to the Church News article.

At the commemoration, I was helping with last-minute details such as finding seats for VIPs, when someone said to me, “Elder Ballard wants to make sure Karl Anderson is on the stand with him.” I said, “THE Karl Anderson?” The response? “I don’t know. Who’s Karl Anderson?” Soon, Karl showed up just before the program began and made his way to the first floor of the jail, where the podium and microphone were set up for the speakers. (For those who don’t know, Karl is a family friend from way back in our Philadelphia days.) He and others gave excellent talks. Elder Ballard’s talk was about prophets, and how throughout time the people have persecuted and even killed the prophets. He of course tied this in to the events at Liberty Jail and then at Carthage, Illinois.

As the group was leaving, I was able to grab Karl Anderson and say hello to him. “Oh my goodness,” he said. “Tell your folks hello.”

I can’t remember exactly how many people attended the fireside, but I believe it was more than 1,200. Every nook and cranny of our stake center was filled. We also broadcast it to a couple other buildings in our stake. It was such an amazing event. Elder Ballard had our mission president speak, then Karl Anderson, then Elder Robert C. Gay. Finally, Elder Ballard spoke. I don’t remember exactly how long he spoke for, but I do remember that I was concerned we would get to hear him for only five minutes or so. He appeared so tired and worn out. But he spoke for 30 minutes or so, and he seemed to get more energy as he went on. It was a truly amazing event.


John and Dad Travel to Utah

The first week of October, John and I took a road trip to Utah!

It was Mom’s idea for us to take the trip and to load up the Escape with some of Rachel’s things that we’ve been holding onto for her. So we ended up taking her cedar chest, an end table, and some boxes of books an memorabilia, and heading out the Friday before general conference. We also thought this would be a good opportunity for John to get some drivng hours in, but he ended up driving for only about an hour due to bad weather.

We started out doing just great, with beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s. The farther west we went, the cooler the temperature. We had incredibly high winds through Kansas and most of Colorado–so much so that our gas mileage dropped to only about 18 miles per gallon. Yikes! But we pressed on, and made it to Aunt Jenni’s and Uncle Noel’s in time for the BYU-Utah State kickoff.

Uncle Noel and Aunt Jenni were very cordial in letting us stay at their house and watch the game with them. It was fun to have some other Cougar fans to cheer with as we watched our boys beat the Aggies. It was great. But we were so tired from our long drive that we had to go to bed and get some sleep just as soon as the Cougars won the game.

The next morning we left bright and early in order to get to Utah at a decent hour. We checked the road conditions because we knew a winter storm was moving east through the mountains, and we learned that parts of I-80 were closed. . .so we decided to take I-70 instead. Although the weather was cool, th sky was blue and it appeared we’d have another clement day for driving. But as we got higher and higher into the mountains, we discovered that snow was falling along I-70 as well. Not good. By the time we got through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the snow was pretty bad. It was actually really bad. The road was icey and snow packed, and traffic was really slow. We don’t have the best tires on the Escape, and our wipers were really bad–probably hadn’t ever been replaced in the car’s history. It was difficult to see through the windshield, and on top of that, I didn’t know how much washer fluid we had–so I felt like I had to be very judicious with it. I said, “John, would you please say a prayer for us?” He replied, “I already have. Two prayers.” But he went ahead and said a vocal prayer anyway, and we are grateful we made it safely through the next several miles without incideot.

We got off the freeway somewhere near Eagle or Avon, as I recall, and filled up with gas. We also bought new windshield wipers and filled up the washer fluid. The fluid tank took almost a full gallon, so we were about empty. As we got back on the freeway, we were both so amazed at how much safer we felt when we could actually see better through the windshield. I’m sure there’s a moral to that experience.

I was able to have dinner with Chelsey Burningham Bogenrief and her husband, Mike.
I was able to have dinner with Chelsey Burningham Bogenrief and her husband, Mike.

We arrived in Springville a good hour or so before the priesthood session of general conference began. We went straight to Rachel and Anthony’s house, where not only they, but also Bob were waiting to greet us. Soon Rebecca arrived as well, and we enjoyed a great pizza dinner. Rachel and Rebecca then went shopping while the men stayed and watched the priesthood session on TV. How wonderful that was!

The next morning, John and I picked up Rebecca and Bob and headed up to Salt Lake to attend the morning session of general conference. We met Rachel and Anthony up there. I had tickets to this session along with two parking passes, thanks to the Liberty Missouri Stake’s allocation. We parked underground in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building parking lot, and as we walked over to the building we ran into our stake president, President Morgan. What a coincidence! He visited with us for a few minutes as we walked together through the Joseph Smith Building.

We all made it into the Conference Center in plenty of time, and we were thrilled with the seats we were able to get! We were on about the 7th row and off to the left a bit. It was amazing. We loved the session and were thrilled to

Rachel, Anthony, Bob, Rebecca, and John prior to the Sunday Morning session of General Conference
Rachel, Anthony, Bob, Rebecca, and John prior to the Sunday Morning session of General Conference

be so close to the prophets.


We had great seats, sitting on about the 6th or 7th row in Section 7.
We had great seats, sitting on about the 6th or 7th row in Section 7.

Afterwards, Rebecca, Bob, John, and I went up to Logan to see Grandpa Brown. We took some dinner to him and enjoyed visiting with him that afternoon. He was in good spirits and sounded very sharp, despite not being able to move much. We were glad we went to visit him.

We then made it back to Pleasant Grove to visit with Uncle Bruce and Aunt Patti, and were joined there by Rachel and Anthony. We had a great time visiting and seeing Tom, Megan and their new baby Samantha.

I spent Monday and Tuesday working with clients in Salt Lake while John hung out with his siblings. He had a great time and maybe I’ll be able to convince him to post his own thoughts on his time in Utah.

On Monday night, while I was still in Salt Lake, I was able to have dinner with a good friend of ours from Beloit Ward, Chelsey Burningham Bogenreif, and her husband Mike. Chelsey lived in our ward with her brother, Andy Burningham, and his family while I was bishop. Some of you kids may remember her–she lived with the Burninghams for nearly a year, as I recall. Chelsey and I became very close friends, and earlier this year I was able to attend her wedding to Mike Bogenreif in Utah. It was great to see them and visit with them for an hour or so, catching up on how our lives have changed over the past few years. I was very grateful for this opportunity!

Tuesday night Rachel and Anthony hosted all of us again for a most delicious dinner. It was chicken cordon bleau! I loved it and just couldn’t get enough (well, I could, and I did).

Wednesday John joined me at a couple client meetings, reading his new book about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity while I was in with the clients. We then met up with a guy from Idaho to buy some Idaho potatoes and then we took off for Longmont. We arrived at about 9:15 that night and pretty much crashed without socializing at all. . .sorry, Uncle Noel!

Rachel, Anthony, Bob, Dad, John, and Rebecca prior to Music and the Spoken Word
Rachel, Anthony, Bob, Dad, John, and Rebecca prior to Music and the Spoken Word

The next morning we drove all the way back to our home, arriving at about 9 p.m. safe and sound.

It was a great trip!


Anthony & Rachel Update…Part 2!!

Hey all!

I decided to chime in and participate! haha

Like Rachel was saying, we’ve been blessed to be able to move to a new city and into a wonderful new apartment recently and we love it!  Along with the apartment, we’ve acquired a nice big new ward family to live and serve in.  What I think is cool about this ward is that they live all around us.  I’ll be driving home from work or school and somebody will wave at me to say hi.  The neighborhood we’re in is well kept, chill and quiet.  It’s great!  (Think kind of the Truman Show but with reality and real people.)  Also, we got to meet the bishop and got a semi-forecast from him about potentially having us serve together in our callings and giving talks here in church soon.  Should be fun!

Also, as Rachel was saying, I just finished a fun project and class where I was to learn and integrate a language known as PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) into the mix.  (Side note:  This blog site runs on PHP (which is exciting).)  To delve not too deeply into what was required to accomplish this project but give a small glimpse nonetheless, this project required me to utilize what knowledge I have of four different technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP and SQL) to make a web app/site that could pass data to a PHP script for processing from a web form built in HTML, pull data from a database on a web server and then display the results back onto the given web template (web page) I would provide.  I built it all from scratch including the database linking it all together to…(drum roll)…provide kids of all ages the ability to browse the animals they’d get to see at various zoo exhibits at the Cool Zoo, and the times those exhibits would be open for them to visit.  It was way fun and I got to learn an important new skill/language in the process.  Only ten more months to go and I will be done with school!  So anxious and excited to be done, move into a good job, etc.!

Rachel and I are excited for Fall and the holidays coming up and all these things bring with it.  Yesterday night, we had a fun ward Harvest Party at our church with a chili cook-off, pumpkin growing contests and all sorts of good food and fun times.  This weekend we are both looking forward to having many of the Call clan over for General Conference and the Priesthood Session this evening, etc.  Should be fun!

Look forward to chiming in here every once in a while also.  Love reading about everyone’s activities, triumphs, etc.  Until next time…





It’s Already October?

I can’t believe it’s already October! September was so busy for us, but in good ways. The biggest news for us is that we are finally unpacked and getting settled into our new apartment. We absolutely love the apartment, extra space and natural light! Our new ward is fantastic and we are really enjoying meeting new people and being in a family ward. We also love being in Springville.

Of course, at the beginning of the month we had our two-year anniversary! It’s hard for us to believe we’ve been married for two years. We went out to dinner to celebrate and had a great time. We’re so grateful for the blessing of knowing that we can be sealed as families forever.

Anthony is plugging away at Macey’s and staying busy with school. He just wrapped up a major project where he built, coded and designed a multi-page website entirely from scratch. It’s incredible and is a great addition to his portfolio! He’s really good at what he does and he loves it.

Work is going really well for me. I’ve been so busy lately, which is a good thing! I’m working with a few different clients on a variety of projects, which keeps things interesting. I also got set apart and started working as an ordinance worker at the Provo Temple. I love it. I work every Tuesday morning and although I have to be there really early it’s a great way to start the day. It’s amazing to be able to spend half the day at the temple serving, doing temple work and feeling the spirit. I also love working with and getting to know the other temple workers.

Well, that about covers the last few weeks for us! We love reading the blog and getting updates about everyone!