Friday, September 28, 2012

Up, Up, and Away We GO ...!


My bucket list has included a Hot Air Balloon ride so my wonderful children gave us a gift certificate at Christmas time for a Balloon ride in Park City, Utah. What a glorious day with the leaves changing into their fall colors to take a sail over the hills of Park City.

Because of Lynn's impending knee surgery, he was unable to come along for the ride, so I asked my daughter Laurel if she would like to accompany me in my adventurous quest. She jumped at the chance!

Laurel met me at our home shortly after 6:00 a.m. and off we sped to Park City to help set up the balloon and basket for our sail. It was COLD! The sun wasn't up yet and there was dew on the ground and we could see our breath in the cold morning air. Luckily I found an old 'grandpa' sweater in the trunk of the car for Laurel to wear and I had two shirts and a sweatshirt over my skin to keep warm.









 


Then the pilot turned on the fire while we were holding the ropes to the balloon and standing on the edges to keep the balloon open. Now this was getting dangerous and wasn't so much fun, anymore. The fire was singing my hands and the  balloon was so full of air it was lifting my feet off the ground. I was beginning to worry that the poor little man on the other side was going to fall into the balloon. He didn't weigh as much as me and the balloon was lifting his entire body off the ground. I yelled for a young man to come help me and as he took over the ropes for me the balloon began lifting his body up as well. Finally they just let go of the ropes and stepped away from the balloon and the basket slowly rose from its side to a sitting position and the balloon was in the air. It was a glorious site! Our balloon and basket had only made 4 journeys. It was still brand spankin' new.
We climbed into the basket, one at a time, using the footholds on the basket. After all nine of us were in the basket the ropes were released and we started to rise into the air. Laurel was freaked out at first but then soon relaxed as we began the rise to an altitude of over 5,000 feet. Since the balloon was so new and the pilot was unsure of its capacity we just sort of sat up in the air, slowly spinning around. "Where's the action, Jackson?" I thought as I watched the other balloons in the sky dipping and ascending to greater heights than us and skimming along the neighborhoods picking up more passengers! The pilot explained that the ballon was like a new car ... he had to slowly break it in before he could test the limits of the balloon. BOOO ... is all I can say. Yes, it was great fun, but I was expecting a little more 'tickle tummies' for excitement. The most exciting part of the ride was looking for a place to land. We quickly descended and were skimming over the sagebrush and I thought for sure we were going to land on the side of a hill. But to my surprise we skimmed over the top of the hill and then ascended higher over the valley, still looking for a place to land. Now we're talkin' ... we're going faster and there's much more excitement. Soon we came down over a neighborhood ... started dropping ... and I could see a woman in her kitchen waving to us out the window. Are we going to land in her yard? Looks like it! But slowly we descended right next to her back fence and while we were a few feet above ground the co-pilot on the ground pushed the basket into the street and softly we set down. We all clapped and gently climbed out of the basket, one at a time and helped roll up the balloon and load everthing on the trailer.

Back at the ranch we celebrated with a toast of Sprite and a thankful prayer! Everyone should experience a Hot Air Balloon ride. It really is amazing. To experience great heights with silence is something I've never experienced.





Friday, September 14, 2012

A Tribute to My Hero!

 
My hero, my Dad, Gilbert Owen Savage passed away on a beautiful Sunday morning, August 26, 2012 at 7:00 a.m. in Drummond, Montana. Dad was 94 1/2 years and had lived a great life!
 
My younger sister, Margaret, took Dad into her home the day after my mother's funeral and her and her husband took loving care of Dad for the last 2 1/2 years. I can never thank her enough for the love and care she provided him. He loved Montana. Montana was his roots, although he was born in Nevada. He came from a large family. There were 12 siblings, six girls and six boys. One of the boys died as an infant.
 
 
 

 Dad was a REAL cowboy ... no dime store cowboy as he used to call the men in Billings dressed in western wear and trying to look like a cowboy. REAL cowboys only bathed once a week, whether they needed it or not. It was common for him to come in off the range from a long day's ride, change out of his grubby, stiff as a board, dirty 'overalls', as we called them, change into clean pants and shirt, and wash his face, neck, arms, and hands in the kitchen sink, slick down his hair, and sit down at the dinner table for a bite to eat.

My growing up years were on a large ranch in Eastern, Montana. The ranch consisted of over 200,000 acres. That's a lot of ground. He and his brothers worked the cattle and horse ranch and were known as some of the best cattle and horse ranchers in the State of Montana. We owned over 300 registered quarter horses. Some were show horses and some were race horses, but mostly they were working horses. I learned to ride at an early age but after having a 'horse accident' when I was five, I never felt comfortable riding. I did it, however, to please my Dad and pretended that I loved horses. All the while I was terrified of them!

 
 
Dad was good at everything his hands touched. He could fix anything once he made up his mind. Dad only had a high school education but he was at the top of his graduating class. He was very good in Mathematics and could figure sums in his head quickly. Dad loved all sports, especially basketball and boxing. We got our first television set when I was nine. It was a black and white T. V. Color televisions hadn't been invented yet. We were 150 miles from the nearest big city so television reception was almost nil. I remember Dad rigging some wire from the T.V. to the outside of the house and many times he would make one of us little ones hold onto the wire with our hand and pose just 'so' until we could make out the faces on the picture show we were trying to watch. And heavens forbid if there were any sporting events on ... that was ALL he wanted to watch while the rest of us suffered in silence! When Dad got older and spent a few weeks out of the year with me I could entertain him easily by finding Golf, Bowling, Tennis, and especially Basketball on a sports channel. In between watching and snoozing he would be content all day.
 


Dad was a humble man with such kind, gentleman manners. Once when being interviewed by an Apostle for a church calling he was asked if he had any other sweethearts in his life besides his wife. He answered, "Yes. I have 5 daughters who are also my sweethearts!" Dad served in many church callings, which included several bishoprics, young men's leader, Stake callings, Boy Scout leader, teacher, and served for many years as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake temple. He served six missions which included a proselyting mission with Mom to the Sao Paulo Brazil North Mission for 18 months. It was harder to let my Mom and Dad go on a mission than it was sending my two sons. How we yearned for their return. It was one of the happiest days of my life when we met them upon their return from Brazil. It amazes me to think that they were around my age when they served their mission together. Lynn and I won't be able to serve for a few more years until Lynn's old enough to retire! Dad said that his favorite calling in the church was working with the young men. He was happy to report that every one of his young men that he worked with, served full-time missions for the Church.

In 1999 Dad sold us a plot of land next door to him and Mom. This land has been in the White family since General Grant. We built a home next door to them and shared acreage which included the White Irrigation Ditch, which meant helping take water turns in the middle of the night when Dad could no longer drive. He was still irrigating, cleaning ditch, fixing his roof, and all of the outside chores until his 90's. One of the saddest days of his life was when I went to take him to the DMV to get his license renewed and it was denied because of his eye site. I took him to the eye doctor but the doc wouldn't sign the release paper for him to drive. From that day on, Dad's enthusiasm for life began to decline. I remember one morning I could see that someone had taken a water turn in the middle of the night. I asked Dad about it and he said he had taken the turn. I asked him how he got up to 2300 East to turn the head gate and he replied that he rode his riding lawnmower to take his irrigation turn! We had to step up to the plate and help out more because we didn't want him riding his lawnmower on the city streets, especially at night when he couldn't see well.

Dad was thankful for everything and was the first to always express his thanks to anyone who had given service. He always thanked the teachers in church and always complimented someone on their testimony or church talk. And Dad always complimented me on what I was wearing or how he loved my hair or how pretty I looked. I always felt special when I was around my Dad because he made me feel special. Even up until the morning of his passing he was thanking us each time we gave him a sip of water.


The light went out of Dad's eyes when Mom was first diagnosed with cancer. Although she hung onto mortality for four more years Dad was sad to see the quality of life she had to endure. I felt like I had lost both of my parents the day after we buried my Mom because my Dad left with my sister for Montana and never came back to live in his home. His home sat for 2.5 years with everything in it, just the way Mom had left it. A few months ago my sister started cleaning out the house and little by little their meager belongings soon disappeared to the D.I. and to family members. The saddest part was they had very little. I often wondered why we bothered locking their home. They didn't have anything worth stealing! But they were frugal and went without the finer things in life and were good savers for a 'rainy day'.

Dad instilled in me a love for music and espcially a love for singing. He had a beautiful voice and sang solos at many funerals, church meetings and even in the chapel at the Idaho Falls Temple. We often sang duets together. One of the funniest times together, while singing, happened in a Sacrament meeting. We were asked to sing a patriotic number for July the 4th. Mom was accompanying us on the piano. The chorus part said something like, "And when we start, we'll fight, fight, fight." While we were rehearsing the song I mixed my words up and sang with gusto, "And when we fart ..." We roared with laughter until we couldn't sing anymore. We were afraid that I was going to sing the word 'fart' in church so decided that when we were doing the live performance he would nudge me with his elbow to remind me not to sing "fart". I didn't sing "fart" during the performance but sure had a big grin on my face when he nudged me during that part.

We've enjoyed living next door to my parents and they have been our very best friends. Now that they're on the 'other side', I have no 'best friends' and it's been a little lonely. Well, it's been a LOT lonely.


Dad was very active up until a couple of months ago. This picture was taken just a few months ago, on the ranch in Montana where he was branding a calf. Shortly thereafter his back started hurting and he was having aches and pains and then decided that he didn't want to eat anymore. Life started declining. He started losing weight, sleeping more, and having more difficulty getting up and down. My poor little sis was having a hard time trying to take care of him 24/7, getting the haying done, taking care of grand-children, and doing her church calling in the Stake Relief Society.


This photo was taken the last time he came to our home in May of this year.

 
 Just a couple of days before his death I was sitting at work and had the impression that I needed to drive to Drummond to help out my sister. I called my oldest daughter Angie to ask if she could get off of work on Friday to drive up to Drummond. She said sure and we left Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. The drive there was bizarre. We felt we were on an errand, sent by angels. The time flew by and so did the trip. It only seemed like we were in the car for an hour. It's a 7 hour drive and we were there by 1:30 p.m. As we walked into the home my sister met me at the door and said that Hospice had just left and they didn't think Dad would make it through the weekend. We went into his bedroom and he opened his eyes and recognized us but seemed confused as to where he was. We assured him that he was still in Drummond and that we had come to visit. He seemed happy to see us. He rested while we cuddled up next to him on the bed, my sister and my oldest daughter, laughing, talking, and telling stories. We took care of Dad's needs because he was too weak to even sit up in bed. He really hadn't eaten for close to a month ... just a few sips of water and a few bites of food here and there. He had lost a LOT of weight in the two months prior and I was really shocked at how old he looked. He was finally looking his age, although his skin was still beautiful and no wrinkles!
 
 
Angie, my oldest daughter kissing grandpa hello!
 
That evening my sister and I got up in the middle of the night to take care of Dad. He went back to sleep peacefully. Saturday he was sick to his stomach and complained that he needed to throw up. There was nothing to throw up. He continued to have dry heaves throughout the day. I administered some of his pain medication which Hospice told me to give. He continued to sleep throughout the day but was responsive. Hospice visited early that evening and checked his vitals and said that everything looked great and that he could possibly hang on for quite a while in his condition. I asked him if he was ready to go to the other side and he said that he was. The day before when asked the same question he responded, "Not particularly!" But by Saturday he was ready to go. I told him that he needed to say it loud and clear for the angels to hear on the other side so they could come and escort him home. He said in a very loud and clear voice, "I'm ready to go. Just let me go." He then told all of us that he loved us very much. Of course we were all in tears but told him that we wanted him to go. As I tucked him in bed that night I told him that I loved him and he told me, "I love you more!" He always said that to Margaret, my little sister. They had such a beautiful relationship. It was so sweet watching her care for him.
 
Early Sunday morning I woke around 5:00 a.m. and laid in bed wondering if I should go downstairs to check on him. I decided I didn't want to bother William and Marg so took a shower and put on my makeup and got my bags packed to home. Marg came upstairs to visit with me while I was getting ready. She begged me to stay another day but we had to get back for Angie's work. She had been visiting with Dad at 5:30 and had given him a sip of water and he was resting. He'd had a rough night, coughing a lot. Marg grabbed my two bags to take downstairs and I turned to pick up my purse and hear my mother's voice in my head say, "Gil, you've got to go now! Linda's leaving!!" I was wondering about what I had just experienced when I heard my sister call for me to come quick. My sister had just heard Dad say, "I don't know how. Tell me what to do!" As I got into Dad's bedroom I could see that he was going. I supported his back with one hand and had my other hand on his chest while feeling for a heart beat. I told Marg that he was gone. Then he physically relaxed, his head went back and he closed his eyes. I was talking very excitedly in a loud voice, "Dad, I'm so happy for you! You've finally made it. See I told you, all you had to do was step into the next room."
 
This is a very spiritual experience that I'm sharing with you. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the spirit world is very near and our departed ones are very close and are very much aware of waht we are doing. They are our cheering section and want us to choose and live our lives righteously so we can live with our Heavenly Father and eldest brother Jesus Christ in the eternities ahead. I KNOW my mother wanted me to be there when she helped escort my father beyond the veil. I know she was there. I felt her presence. I can't be sad because every time I think about Dad and try to be sad a smile spreads across my face because I see Dad and his sweetheart together and I see the smile on his face that he once had prior to Mom's diagnosis.
 

 



 
We had a beautiful service for him in Salt Lake. My sister and her husband were able to escort his body back to Salt Lake in the back of their pickup truck. How fitting for our 'cowboy' totake his last  ride in the back of their truck. We still laugh about the image. Marg said that a few times they hit some rough bumps and were sure 'grandpa' was lying on his side in his casket or possibly on his stomach!
 
It was a beautiful day. Everyone that took part in the service did an exceptional job. And my ward Relief Sociey provided the most scrumptious lunch after the services for 152 family members! And NO, we didn't have funeral potatoes or green jello salad. We had  a good ole fashioned barbecue with plenty of beef!
 

This is my Dad's older sister, Mona. She just turned 98 this month and she's still running on her own 'steam'. Incredible!

 
After the luncheon some of our family went back to the grave site to pay our final respects. It was ironic that as we were visiting his site, a flock of geese flew overheard, just prior to a torrential downpore of rain. The flock of geese visited me the first time I visited my mother's grave after her funeral. She always said she'd leave a feather to let us know she had been to visit, after her death. I think they sent a flock of geese (feathers) to let us know they are finally together.
 
So am I sad ... NO ... I rejoice in the knowledge that I know my Redeemer lives and loves me. I'm thankful for the inspiration I received to visit my Dad prior to his death. I'm thankful that the Lord heard our prayers and was able to take Dad home while I was still there. And I'm especially thankful for a wonderful family who loves and supports me. Yes, I know that my Redeemer lives! And I know that I will see Him again and be able to live with my Mom and Dad once again if I live righteously and keep my covenants.



 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Help I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!


No, I'm not sitting on the 'john' ... I'm sitting on the edge of the tub getting sympathy from Lynn! I was so excited to start my morning walks with Dieter before going to work. I was in the zone and it was my second day of being faithful with our exercise plan. Being the good citizen that ... I am, I had a bag of dog poop clenched in one fist and his leash in my other fist. My toe hit an uneven piece of sidewalk and I stumbled with my nose within an inch of the sidewalk for at least a block before I finally went down, hard! My face was so close to the ground I even skinned my chin. But I think I still had the bag of poop still clenched in my fist! Oh I hurt! As I lay on my stomach worrying that I may have broken my phone, I slowly looked to my right and then to my left to make sure the runner who had just passed me, didn't see me fall. The coast was clear so I slowly got to my feet to assess my pains. My left finger was bent and my right thumb seemed frozen in place. I thought I probably had broken my little finger and just bruized my thumb. A few seconds later Lynn drove by and drove me the rest of the way home. My knee started hurting when I went up the stairs but not enough to cause concern.

I got in the shower and washed off the blood from the scrapes, got ready for work, and drove to work. I decided to make an appt. for my finger and after two hours of work I was in excrusiating pain in my leg. I could barely walk! To make a long story shorter ... I limped into my doctor's office only to find they had moved their office over a year ago. By this time I was whimpering because of the pain. When I finally found my doctor's office and got to the front desk, the little receptionist said, "Can you please walk around to the other side?" I cried out, "No!" She asked me if I wanted a wheel chair, which I replied yes.

So, we've debated about finding a new doctor for years and just keep going to the same one because it's convenient. He has our records, his office is close ... but really ... I think he needs to retire. Kids, you know what I'm talking about. It's like he never knows what to do, or how to diagnose. After taking a bunch of xrays he told me that he couldn't see any fractures but he wanted me to go to an orthopedic surgeon. He put my left hand in a cast and left me sitting in a room for ever! In the mean time my sweet daughter Ginger left work to come and drive me home. She had made an appt. with a sport medicine doctor who had been recommended. We took the xrays with us to show him. I felt very confident with this new doc.the moment we met him. He looked at the film and said I had a boxer fracture on my left hand and a broken thumb on my right! And he was very surprised that my 'old' doc had not seen the fractures. The xray tech showed me the fracture in my hand and said it was a very obvious break! The doc said if I had of kept the old cast on I would have lost mobility in my little finger and without a splint on my thumb it would have grown bent.

So, after having a zillion shots of pain numbing in my hand he had to reset the bone twice. But thankfully for the medication I felt no pain! He placed me in a state of the art cast which is water-proof and has to stay on for a month. The splint on the finger has to stay on for 6 weeks.

I'm not in pain ... just frustrated because there are so many things I can't do! It's hard typing. I can't hold scissors or knives or pick up a lot of things. I get a little depressed some days when  I can't stay busy! I told Lynn that if I ever get to the point of not being able to be busy, then I just want to die. I don't know how my Mom handled her illness and sitting in  a chair for over four years. It drives me crazy! And it's so frustrating trying to sleep with a clunky, hot, sweaty cast on my hand! And I haven't been out walking for almost two weeks. I'm too afraid!

Have a fab day!




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

O.K. ... I know I'm a little crazy the older I get. But I just can't let another summer go by without hanging out with my dear friends during convention time. And we have an opportunity of helping raise funds to build a school in the little village of Abomosu that I visited last year.

So ... I've been thinking about what fun and crazy adventure we could do on our free night during convention. So many of you have never had a chance to REALLY see the beautiful mountains and canyons of Utah. About all you get to see is the airport, your hotel room, convention center and a few restaurants. I've arranged to have busses pick you up by the Convention Center on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. We will whisk you away to the beautiful Wasatch Mountains in Park City, Utah where we will briefly stop at the Olympic Park and perhaps get a sneak peak at some professional skiiers training for the Olympics.

We will then take you to the City Park in Park City where you will enjoy breath taking views of the ski resorts and mountains. World Joy will furnish a delicious western barbecue dinner with all the trimmings. After dinner you will enjoy an organized swap, family reunion, raffles, and time to visit the quaint shops on Main Street. We'll have you back to downtown Salt Lake by 8:30 p.m.

Last year's fundraiser efforts were incredible and the well is functioning wonderful and providing clean water to Abrenya. I've reduced the price for our event, almost in half from last year's event, so more can participate. The cost to attend the event is only $55. All proceeds will go towards the school project.

We are limited on space. Don't wait to register. Please visit Event Brite at (I don't think the link will work, so try typing the address into your browser). http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2455331964 to register or call me at World Joy, 801-797-9935 for credit card payment. You are welcome to send a check. There is no extra fee required when paying with a check. :)

Can't wait to see you!



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Please Forgive Me ...

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since January! So sorry ... so many things and blogging just hasn't  been a top priority, but I promise I haven't forgotten you. In fact it's been so long since I've posted anything, the blog page has changed. Hope I'm doing this post correctly!


Well ... we got our well drilled and functioning in our little village in Ghana, West Africa, thanks to the many Stampin' Up! demonstrators who donated money for the well. You are the best! This has been the highlight of my experience working with World Joy these past two years. Abrenya now has a way to obtain clean and safe drinking water which will cut down on diseases and death. We REALLY have made a difference in their lives.

O.K. ... I've been thinking about another fund-raiser. I'd like to re-furbish a (3) classroom kindergarten in the little jungle village of Abomosu. We will need aproximately $17,350 which will also outfit the students with furniture and uniforms. We have a few high schools who are helping us raise the funds as well. Abomosu is thelovely little village that we stayed in. I fell in love with one of the students, Retta, who was quick to help with the stamping of the alphabet on the walls of the school classroom as well as cleaning all of the stamp sets. She was a wonder and I fell in love with her!


So .... I've secured a venue for Friday, July 20th in Salt Lake City. I'm not going to give the details just yet, because I'm still working them out. But I promise it will not be as much money as last year, more around $55 per attendee. It will include a scrumdillyicious dinner. And then something so out of the box that you've never been able to do before while attending Salt Lake ... maybe ... just thinking and planning. Nothing set in stone just yet. What do you think? Want to help build a school, meet some old stamping buddies and have a fun time? Let me know .... Got to get back to my planning.

Hugs!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yummm....Funeral Potatoes!



Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, "What in the HECK are funeral potatoes?" If you do a google search you'll find all sorts of recipes for funeral potatoes, but if you do a search for cheesy potatoes, you probably won't find anything!

Funeral potatoes are a traditional dish typically served at a Latter-day Saint luncheon after a funeral. They are also known as a dish served during the Christmas holidays. Personally, you could serve me funeral potatoes any day of the week and I'd be a happy camper.

Today marked the 17th funeral in three years since I've been the Ward Relief Society President. And I'm afraid that we're going to have more before too long. We have several older brothers and sisters in the ward who are their late 80's and 90's and their health is failing fast. I feel so sorry for their burdens and struggles that their little bodies have to endure.

I'm telling you about my cheesy potatoes for Dawn Rapsas' benefit and anyone else who would like to be enlightened in the ways of the LDS culture. I think it's a beautiful service that we offer to our fellow members. When a member passes away the Relief Society President is notified (me) and then I make a phone call to my Compassionate Service Leader who in turn notifies our funeral chair. If the funeral will take place after a Sunday they will pass around a sign up list during services on Sunday for brothers and sisters to cook funeral potatoes, make salads, bring fruit plates and dessert. The ward budget provides the meat for the funeral and mostly the sisters in the ward provide the additional dishes of food. If the funeral will before Sunday, then a food sign-up e-mail list is sent around. We have the most AMAZING ward! Our members are so caring and giving of their time, talents, and energies. These are just four of the most amazing members of our ward. Rachel, on the left, is our Compassionate Service Leader, Shelli next to her is our funeral chair, and Rachel's parents Lee and Carol do MORE for the ward members that almost anyone I know. They are always the first to volunteer, the first to arrive to help, and the last to leave the church. Carol and Gus are just like Carol and Lee! They will help and assist anyone in need.

I picked up 20 pounds of beef and Carol and Gus cooked it, plus added a roast of their own, sliced it and simmered it in Au Jus. It was to 'die for'. Funny pun, don't you think? Considering this was for a funeral. I'm on a roll! Oh .... speaking of rolls .... we have another couple, Peggy and Marloe who bake and donate all of the rolls for every funeral, and they're delicious and Peg is legally blind!

I'm so grateful to be living in this wonderful neighborhood. They truly are my brothers and sisters and indeed angels. I had to be over to the church by 8:30 a.m. There were tables to set for 60 people, windows and floors to be washed, drinking fountains shined, floors mopped .... yes the ward members do all of the church cleaning. It's all volunteer. Isn't that amazing? No one gets paid for their service, only in spiritual blessings! Not even our clergy are paid.

Then the food started arriving. Dawn, I remember you asking me if the ladies really came walking down the street carrying their funeral potatoes and salads and desserts for the luncheon. And, yes ... you are absolutely correct! Food just magically starts to appear and yes ... all of the pans and bowls have a piece of masking tape with their name on it so we can hand-deliver the pans and bowls back to the owners after being washed and dried! Some of the younger sisters have learned how to etch their names onto their glass dishes. That's a lot nicer looking than a burned old yellow piece of masking tape. You ladies know what I'm talking about, and I can hear you laughing!

There's a lot to do for a funeral. We arrange with the family to bring special mementos which we put on the tables for centerpieces. Today's theme was Africa. Marjorie and Rex served a mission in Botswana, Africa and there was a hint of Africa everywhere. It was beautiful. Marjorie will be missed. She was my mother's first cousin and I loved her dearly. I visited in her home monthly for over a year and just a week before she died we had a wonderful visit just days before Christmas. We talked about death. Marj had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just a few weeks prior. She was given about 6 months to live. She looked beautiful the day of our visit. She had been wrapping Christmas presents for her grand kids. She was a little breathless and mentioned that she had some fluid on her lungs. But she had done her own laundry that day.
She never complained about her illness and had a positive attitude about life. She mentioned that it would be wonderful if the Lord would let her go to sleep and her heart would just stop. Well, that's exactly what happened. I was surprised to get the Bishop's call telling me that she had passed away in her sleep.

Shortly after her diagnosis I found the cutest, cheetah, fuzzy, warm pajamas that I bought for her. I enclosed a card telling her that as she wore the cheetahs to remember what a fighter my mother was with her illness and that she too could fight the cancer that was taking over her body. Marjorie was such a lady, so proper and prim, and cheetah print probably really wasn't her style. But you know Linda ... I LOVE anything on the sassy side and I just HAD to get them for her. I wondered if she would ever wear them. This morning her daughter-in-law came up to me and with tears in her eyes said that Marjorie was wearing her cheetah pajamas the morning she passed away.

I'm so thankful for the promptings of the spirit. I felt prompted to visit Marjorie. Although Christmas rush was upon me, I felt that it was most important. I'm so thankful that I followed those promptings and was able to visit with her and give her a kiss on the cheek, one last time. Little did I know that she was very close to the other side.

Well, it's been a long day, but wonderful. I love working with these wonderful sisters and brothers! I love them for their dedication, hard work, and service and love for the Lord. The funeral was beautiful, the speakers were inspirational and the music was a gift from heaven!

After the family left, we boxed up the remainder of the food and ran it around to our shut-ins and elderly brothers and sisters in the ward. And I forgot, there were dishes to wash and dry, return to the owners, tables and chairs to be put away, floors to be swept and mopped, and doors and lights to be checked. Other than that ... a funeral is a breeze!

So here's the simple recipe I use for "Funeral Potatoes". If you have a better recipe, please post. We'd love to try it!

  • (1) Pkg. Frozen Hash Browns or Cubed O'Brian Potatoes
  • (1) Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • (1) Carton Sour Cream
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Potato Chips, Corn Flakes, or Ritz Crackers
  • Melted Butter

Mix soup with sour cream. Add shredded cheese. (As much as you'd like!) Stir until blended. Pour over frozen potatoes and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese. Crush potato chips, corn flakes, or Ritz Crackers and place on top. Drizzle with melted butter. (About a half of a cube.) Place in 350 degree oven til hot and bubbly.

Enjoy! Hugs to you all!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Geez Louise!






I can't believe it's been so long since I've blogged! Life just seems to get in the way.


I turned the 'ripe' old age of 62 in July and decided to take early retirement from Social Security. I now only work 19 hours a week at my wonderful nonprofit job at World Joy. I've been so busy that I don't know how I ever had time to work full-time. I'm really enjoying this early retirement status.

As promised, I need to catch you up on the status of the well in Abrenya, which so many of you donated to. We raised over $8,000. We have been waiting for a dryer part of the season before drilling. There was a terrible flood shortly after we left Abomosu, which destroyed most of the farmer's crops. It's been too wet to drill until now.

Abrenya was probably my most favorite village that we visited. The people are so grateful and willing to do their part in improving their conditions. We had to walk on foot, about two miles, into the village. It wasn't a hard hike and the weather was cooperating with us ... not too hot. There were sights, sounds, and smells that I had never experienced before and I was so grateful that I was finally here in Ghana, Africa!

As we approached the village we could see the World Joy school up on the crest of a small hill, nestled among the jungle. I watched a teacher running along the classrooms, clapping his hands to announce our arrival. Then the most marvelous thing happened. At least 200 children came running out of the school towards us. They placed their arms around us and loved and hugged us. As they were running they were shouting the word, "Obruni". I thought they were yelling "Granny", which my grand kids call me. We were all overwhelmed with the welcoming party and we all had tears of joy in our eyes as we hugged the children back. I later found out that Obruni means white woman and not granny!

We were shown the lovely school which World Joy built for this small village a few years back, as well as the living quarters for the teachers. The school is overcrowded and they need more classrooms. They could also use playground equipment and supplies for the students. The tribal leaders and village met with us under the Mango trees and had a little traditional dance and singing for us. They proceeded to thank us for all World Joy has done for them and then petitioned some additional help which they are in need of. We told them of our plans to build a well in their village. They were so grateful for the news.

Upon our arrival back to the states we found out that the government was going to be drilling a well shortly for their village. But, they are in need of an additional well, so the funds that we raised from our dinner in July will build the extra well that they need. We are in looking for a contractor and the drilling should take place any day now. I'll keep you posted with pictures as they become available.

I'm excited to announce that two large companies have asked if they could do a service project in our villages and then take 50 volunteers over to complete the projects. Veridian Energy from Norwalk, CT will be going over in February. World Joy will be conducting the excursion. They will be installing solar panels which will generate electricity for our new Health Post and Library in Asanafo, and school in Abrenya. These solar panels will store electricity in lanterns and the children will be able to check out a lantern in the evenings so they can work on homework and read.

I'm not at liberty to announce the other company's name just yet. But many of you are familiar with this company and may even be distributors for them. They will be announcing their venture at their annual convention in the New Year. So, I may be seeing some of you on their excursion to Ghana. They are going to build a school and then at least 50 of the distributors and executives will go over for a week to complete the project. I can't wait to announce the name of the company after their convention. Oh ... and I'll be at their convention in our World Joy booth so you may see me there!

After immersing ourselves in the African culture in Abrenya, the skies were threatening rain so it was time to hurry back to Abomosu. The rains came and the floods came up ... as we slipped and slogged our way back to camp. And I mean it didn't just rain ... it poured. I met a lovely young woman with a baby strapped to her back, a pan of plantains on her head, packages in her arms and she handed me a large palm frond to hold over my head like an umbrella. She insisted that I take it. She gave me the one that she was holding over her and her baby. I tried to refuse, but she insisted. That was the most kind and loving gesture!

So ... lots of great things are happening for our brothers and sisters in Ghana, Africa.

Life has been kind to the Hansen family. I'm so grateful for this past year. We've had three lovely grand babies join our family. We're enjoying good health. Perhaps I've partied a little too hard ... I've got about 10 pounds to lose. I've signed up for the Salt Lake Half Marathon in the Spring so will be starting training as soon as I get rid of this nasty cold. I lost my voice on Christmas day and it still hasn't returned. BOOOO!

Got lots to do today to get ready for my laundry room makeover, which my daughter Ginger and her family gave me for a Christmas present. Can't wait for Friday!