Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cemetery Restoration in Memory of Jason

Yesterday, November 22nd, was ten years since Jason died. We had wanted to do something special to remember him and we decided on a family service project.

Bill's 3rd and 4th great-grandparents are buried in a cemetery at the New Bethany Church in Buford. Their graves were moved there in 1956 by the Corps of Engineers when they were building Lake Lanier. Littleberry Hutchins, his wife Sarah Burford, and her parents Thomas Burford and Mary Wade were all buried on the family farm, which is now at the bottom of the lake somewhere. A total of 51 graves were moved from the farm cemetery to New Bethany, but only the four are marked. Over the years, the plot has fallen into considerable disrepair. We decided that fixing it up would be a way to remember Jason and to honor the ancestors at the same time.

We had done some preliminary planning and made a couple of trips up there in preparation. Then yesterday, we had Bill's brother-in law Leroy, his nephew Greg, wife Judy and their three children, Caroline, Kate, and Lizzie, all come up to help get started on the work. We also had a distant cousin Clarence Burford, and his wife and daughter, drive all the way down from Dalton. I have become acquainted with him through the internet as we have shared genealogy information. He is also descended from Thomas Burford, through one of his sons. We really enjoyed meeting him. He volunteered to pick up the wrought iron fence, have it sandblasted, repainted, repaired and put back up. Needless to say, we were thrilled with the offer. He has been concerned about the condition of the plot since he found out about it a couple of years ago, but his health has not allowed him to do anything. He is doing better and has a friend in the business who can help him with this. Our biggest concern had been what to do about the fence so this is a real answer to the problem.

The family chipped in and we cleared weeds, piled up trash, cleaned the stones, removed the fence for Clarence to pick up, tilled the soil so it could be leveled. We took one trailer load of trash to the dump. By 2:00, we had done what we could do on day 1.

Once the fence is back in, we can finish what we started. We will finish the soil leveling, put down a weed barrier, then cover with gravel. We will probably built a little brick wall on the downhill side to keep the rock in place. We still need to do more cleaning on the stones. There are still two broken stones and we talked about ways to repair them. We mentioned putting in a couple of bushes where there is some space in two of the corners.

It turned out to be a wonderful day. The weather was cool, but sunny, actually good working weather. We got a lot done in a short time and enjoyed being. We remembered some Jason stories and enjoyed sharing them. The girls were also amazed to learn that Thomas was their 6th great-grandfather and that he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. There is even a plaque on his stone about it.

All in all, it has been a good way to remember Jason. We look forward to our next work day when we will try to finish up the major part of the work.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Ashby spends the night

Lisa and David have a five-day outing coming up right after Thanksgiving with his company. Grandpa and Grandma get to be baby-sitters. They decided that we needed to do a trial run to make sure Ashby was going to be OK spending the night. Needless to say, we were more than happy to accommodate the trial.

Lisa brought Ashby and all her bags over late on Friday afternoon. We spent some time playing and Lisa put her down in the Pak-n-Play crib we have. Then she went off to have an evening with David. By the way, it turns out he had told her they could do anything she wanted to do, even go into town and stay at a hotel to get away. And her choice? To go to the Gladiators game! The Gladiators are a minor league hockey team here in Gwinnett County and she absolutely loves going to the games. I get such a kick out of her - she really likes the fights. Who would have thought my girly-girl would have such a thing for violence!

Anyway, we had the best evening with Ashby. She wakes up smiling. After feeding her, she loves to play, look at books, chatter, and laugh. She did have a fussy time when it was time for another nap. She would doze off and then wake herself up crying. Fortunately it didn't last too long. Actually, I finally just went ahead and fed her a little early. She was so tired, she fell asleep in my arms after taking half the bottle. She slept that way for a while, then woke up and was ready to play some more. Grandpa had his turn playing with her. Here they are playing with her purple elephant, one of her favorite toys. When you pull his (that is, the elephant's!) nose, one of three songs plays.
When she started getting really sleepy again, we let her finish the bottle, then put her down. This time it didn't take long for her to fall asleep. That was about 10:30. We didn't hear from her again until 9:00 the next morning. Not a bad night's sleep for a 4 month old! That is her normal routine - sleeping for nine or more hours at night.
After feeding her, she and I were playing on the floor when Mommy arrived to take her back home. We had other things planned for the day and her parents wanted her back. Even so, the "trial" was a complete success. Now we can hardly wait for our chance to keep her for five days!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Talking in Sacrament Meetings

Well, I got caught today - I had to speak in two wards! When I was serving in the Stake Relief Society, I was often asked by a member of the high council to accompany him as the second speaker. However, for the last year and a half I have not been asked. Well, one of them figured out that I still had a stake calling and that meant I was eligible to be asked.

So, today I had to speak at two wards. My stake has gone to the policy of having the high councilmen speak at each unit that meets in a building. It is a good plan because of the distances that have to be traveled. This way one trip will take care of two meetings. However, it also means that you have to give a talk twice.

The thing is, I write out a talk completely. That way I have a record of what I talked about. Then when I give the talk, I speak it rather than read it, so there is still the element of the spirit directing. The first talk went fine, but when it was time for the second, I was kind of curious about what I was going to say. Fortunately, that one went fine, too, but they were not exactly the same talk.

I was assigned to use a First Presidency Message from October 2000 by President James E. Faust entitled "Our Search for Happiness." It was a great article and a pretty easy topic. I was also able to include some discussion of my public affairs calling, as service was one of the things President Faust talked about.

The Stake President also happened to be attending both of those wards today, so hopefully he won't suggest to anyone else that I am available. With luck, I can slip into obscurity again for another year and a half!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

City Council Meetings - Finally finished!

Bill and I attended the city council meeting in Loganville on Thursday. We don't even live there, but as part of my public affairs calling, I had asked the cities in our stake to issue proclamations naming November Month of the Family. The governor had previously signed a similar proclamation, as he has done for the last few years. We wanted it to have a bigger impact in our local area.

It wasn't difficult to get the cities to agree to issue the proclamations. A phone call and then some follow-up emails pretty much took care of it. I had to send each city a proposed copy of the proclamation, which was the same as the state proclamation except the city name instead of the state in the text. They were all willing to support the family so it wasn't much of a controversial issue.

Where possible, we asked a bishop from that city, or a counselor, to receive the proclamation. We also encouraged as many members as possible to attend the meeting to show support for the family. These things are usually done at the beginning of the council meeting. The mayor introduces the proclamation and invites a representative of the requesting organization to receive it.

We had a total of 8 cities and I participated in three of the presentations. Lawrenceville was unable to add it to the agenda for a city council meeting because the agenda was already too full. That mayor invited me to come to his office and receive it there. He suggested a picture in front of his bookcases of family pictures - that seemed the perfect place for a famiy proclamation to be given.

I also attended the Dacula meeting, as that is my ward. Loganville was the last one and because of some communication problems with the city, we didn't know until late in the afternoon that they were presenting the proclamation. By then, the bishop was unable to attend. So, Bill and I went to receive it. I was asked to explain briefly about why we had requested it and about the importance of families.

All in all, it has been a successful event. The wards that participated have come away excited about the connection with their community leaders. I got a note from the counselor in the stake presidency yesterday about how enthused the bishops were at their meeting the other night. He looked forward to doing it again next year and making it better.

I am glad to have a positive result from this. There were moments when I felt like I was pushing an elephant who didn't want to go. No one refused, but they didn't always seem to be interested. The result for public affairs has been positive all the way around. As a result of visiting with some of the mayors, we have already found some service projects.

Even so, it feels great to have the worry about having someone show up at each of these meetings finally over. I will think about it tomorrow! or next September, maybe.