Sunday, March 19, 2017

Happy Birthday, Wesley!

Saturday was this  young man's birthday.  Wesley is our oldest grandson, and a kind, helpful, funny, hip, and smart guy.  He received the Aaronic Priesthood today and we couldn't be prouder of him.
Happy Birthday, Wes!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Letter to Huler Grandkids, March 14, 2017

Hello, Grandkids,

Thank you so much for writing!  Grandpa and Grandma love to hear from you. Today we did not go into the office. It was going to snow as much as eight inches last night, but it only snowed two inches where we live. Traffic was gnarly this morning, so President Johnson closed the mission office and grounded the missionaries from driving until after lunch. It might be icy tomorrow, we'll see. Tomorrow is our staff meeting and I hope we go into the office because we get to spend the morning with President and  Sister Johnson and they are fabulous to be with. So, let's answer your questions.

Jarin, the tree of all the books written about Abraham Lincoln is built of shelves and the books are shoved in them randomly, so you can't see the shelves very much. Grandpa says it is four stories high, which is forty feet.  Ask your dad if that is higher than your house. The waffle house was crowded, dirty, and is what is called a landmark, so everyone goes there at least once.  I had a sausage and egg sandwich. Grandpa had sausage and eggs. It was okay, but Grandpa makes me a great bacon and egg breakfast regularly, so it's hard to find a breakfast as good as his.  His hip is almost all better. In fact, he gave his cane to  Elder Thompson, who we serve with in the mission office.  He has the same problem as Grandpa did, and his leg is not doing so good. So, Grandpa's cane is traveling. I wonder where it will go next. That would make a good story, "Grandpa's Traveling Cane".  The African American Museum is huge!  It has three stories underground and five stories above the ground. It covers five acres. Ask your dad how big that is. What is the name of the new song you learned about prophets?  I would like to look it up. My favorite song is "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus", and Grandpa's favorite is "A Child's Prayer".  Good luck with soccer!

Russ, we miss playing with you. My tablet is getting old.  Maybe when we see you next I will have a super duper new one.  Grandpa needs some exercise, so you should come and see us so he can chase you!  We didn't train any of the missionaries, we just watched to see how it was done, so we can do it next time. When someone is baptized there is a form that needs to be filled out and given to me. Then I go in the computer and enter the information into a church program. Then the convert is then listed on the records of the church, which is wonderful because that means she/he can start to get ready to go to the temple.  I really like doing that job.  Have fun with soccer!

Lucy,  the temple is beautiful. We are going to go inside this week. We are two hours ahead of you time wise.  So when you get up in the morning we have already been up for two hours. We did see the White House when we went to the museum. In the picture I took of the museum you can see the tall, white, Washington Memorial by it. Then  if you look the opposite direction, the White House is clear down at the other end. I didn't take a picture because it was too far away. Don't feel bad for the elder that got made fun of. He had a very successful mission. He bore his testimony of Jesus a lot, taught and baptized a lot of people, and his testimony grew even more than he ever thought it would.  Have fun playing soccer this season.

We love you all, and miss you. We have a big bulletin board with the all the Miller, Banks, and Huler families pictures on it. We see it everyday.

Love, Grandma Banks

Covered Bridges

We took a Saturday drive in Frederick County and looked up three covered bridges on the National Historical Registry.  They have in the past been shored up by more modern materials so vehicles could drive across them. They have all been vandalized, messed up by farm rigs, or eaten by termites, so all have been rebuilt with  as much of the original material as possible. One was even the victim of an insurance fraud scheme, where two brilliant fellows parked a truck in it and lit the truck on fire. They were caught. In order to qualify to be on the National Register of Historical Places, a certain amount of the original materials must be there. Repairs are often done with hand tools to maintain it's historical authenticity.

Utica Mills Covered Bridge

This bridge was part of the Devilbliss Covered Bridge built in 1843, that was destroyed in the Johnstown Flood in 1889. This piece of the bridge was moved to it's present spot over Fishing Creek.

Loys Station Covered Bridge

This bridge was built in 1848 and is ninety feet long. It is believed that on July 7, 1873, after the battle Gettysburg, General George Meade crossed this bridge while pursuing the Confederate Army.

Roddy Road Covered Bridge

This little bridge is only forty feet long and the smallest covered bridge in Maryland. It is also the only one with a single kingpost truss, used for smaller bridges. Date of construction not known, but believed to be around 1850.  It is common belief that Confederate  General Jeb Stuart and his cavalry crossed on July 5, 1863 during the Gettysburg Campaign of the Civil War. It is undergoing extensive repairs. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ford's Theater - Part 2

There are several floors of exhibits at the Ford Theatre and next to the Peterson House. This is a tree of books written about Abraham Lincoln. In the picture below, you can see the stairs.  There are four floors of exhibits.  It was pretty impressive.

                                      This is the Waffle Shop, famous for it's breakfasts.
It is a dive, full of people, dirty, and I can say I was there.  

Ford's Theater - Part 1

Ford's Theater

  On Saturday, March 4th, senior
  missionaries went to the Ford's
  Theater and Peterson House
  where President Lincoln was shot
  and died.  It was a great trip.

This is the box where the president, his wife, and another couple were seated, watching a play. There are three levels, the stage is small. Can you see the framed picture between the flags? The Office of the President didn't have a presidential seal yet, so a picture of President Washington was put up whenever the Lincolns came to the theater. In the bottom picture you can see a little of a yellow door, where Booth slipped into a little hallway and then into another door into the box. He shot President Lincoln in the back of his head and jumped onto the stage. He was considered a very athletic actor, but broke his ankle jumping down.  He managed to slip out a door across the stage, to a waiting horse and got away.  There is so much more to the story; events, plenty of bad guys helping Booth, and a lot of bad luck all around.  It took the assassination of two more presidents before someone decided that maybe the president should have his own secret service.

The theater is still used to show a few plays a year. You can see some of the set up on the stage. They use the whole third floor for
lighting. In President Lincoln's time, they would allow 2,000 people into the theater. Now it seats 250 people.

Room where President Lincoln died

They took the president across the street to the Peterson House, a boarding house. It is a fourteen room house, they only have three rooms open to view. We stood in the actual room where President Lincoln died. It was sobering. He was a great man and president.

Monday, March 6, 2017


Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Our first full day here, Feb. 15th, President and Sister Johnson took the office staff, fourteen in all at that time, to the new Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in Sept. 2016.  It is near the Washington Monument.  It is a massive building and looks very impressive. There are hundreds of collections, which cover the entire history of  African Americans.
Smithsonian African American Museum, Washington D.C.
A very few of the items we saw were:

Manacles worn by slaves.
Harriet Tubman's hymnal.
Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves.
Dress worn by Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white man.
Louis Armstrong's trumpet.
And, my favorite,
Nine of the ten Olympic medals won by Jesse Owens. The first medal he won he buried with his father, whom he credited with his success. I took a picture and then somehow lost it.

There were hundreds of items and pictures and videos covering slavery, culture, music, sports, politics, war, and so much more. It was enlightening and educational, and we would love to go back. Much of it was very sad, moving, and inspirational. Greg really liked the exhibit on the history of black soldiers in the United States. It showed a picture of every black soldier in WW II that earned the highest and most prestigious military decoration, the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty." There were 87-88 pictures.

We did not have tickets, but Sister Johnson said she had prayed that morning that we would be able to get in and because, as President Johnson says, "The Lord sure loves the Washington DC  North Mission", we did!

Frederick, Maryland

We took a half hour drive to Frederick, MD on a Saturday.  Because of it's location, slaves escaped through Frederick to join the Union Army during the Civil War and a ton more history, too much to write here.  It has a really hip shopping area and an area of extremely old buildings that is a hip shopping area too.  Lots of old buildings and churches. It was a fun day.

Frederick, MD

Frederick, MD

Frederick, MD

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


I love President and Sister Johnson. They are empty nesters, grandparents, and both have a great sense of humor.  When they come into a room the world is brighter, more hopeful.  When something wonderful happens in the mission, he says "The Lord sure loves the DC North mission."  Since they have been here the missionary work has accelerated at a brisk pace. They work incredibly hard, I don't know how they keep the pace they do. The office staff is invited to departing missionary dinners at the mission home and we went last week. It was very spiritual and tender for the missionaries going home.
President and Sister Johnson

The mission home is really something. The main floor is very big, but pretty standard, with the foyer, formal sitting room, president's office, a big family style room that you can get four oblong church tables in, kitchen, pantry, washroom, formal dining room, and an informal dining area off the kitchen. Downstairs there are two or three bathrooms, four or five bedrooms with bunk beds and beds in them.  Huge and just wall to wall beds for elders to sleep in. Then upstairs in the master bedroom and bath, a visiting authority bedroom and bath, then a large bedroom with three or four sets of bunk beds. Sister missionaries sleep upstairs. So for arrivals and departures and whatever else, the missionaries stay the night.

The medical missionaries, Elder and Sister Smith are an interesting story. Sister Smith lost her husband when they were younger. She served a mental health mission in Harlem, NY, by herself when her children were grown. Then she married Elder Smith, whom she had grown up with, a cardiologist, who had lost his wife. Elder Smith was her bishop when his wife died.  Elder Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and when he could not work anymore with his hands, they came out to be the medical/mental health missionaries. They are  very busy.

Elder & Sister Troutman
Our trainers, Elder and Sister Troutman, have been absolutely wonderful. I am so glad they came and cleaned everything up before we got here. It has been the biggest blessing for us. When the mission did not think they were getting another office couple, Elder and Sister Troutman answered a call from the mission to the Stakes for volunteers. They said they would do it for a year, and then we were called. The commute for them from Annapolis to here was a hour one way on a very good commute day. They had been working in the temple for the last six years. They also served a mission a few years ago in SLC in the mission headquarters.

Elder and Sister Thompson from Ogden, are the other office couple. They too are grandparents. Sister Thompson knows all of the office duties and does a many things, including travel, and referrals. Brother Thompson does the vehicles. He and Greg are very busy. They have driven us around and been our tour guides.

Elder & Sister Thompson

We see and work with the AP's a lot. Elder Jenks from Royal City, Washington, and Elder Chang from Taiwan. They work as hard as President and Sister Johnson. They are really good people and missionaries.

I will tell about Elder Alofia Tausaga, all the last name, from Samoa.  He left last week and I heard him bear his testimony twice. What follows is what he told us.  When he left Samoa, his mother took him aside and told him not to come home early no matter what. (Sister Johnson said she knew of elders who returned early to Samoa or some of those islands and got beat up for it). So, Elder Alofia Tausaga, came out and not too far into his mission he tore his acl, in his knee, but remembering what his mother said, he proceeded to finish out his mission with a torn acl. I am not sure how it came about but he finally had surgery here to fix it (to get it fixed Samoa, he would have to go to New Zealand) and he stayed with some members while recuperating, and then the last week of his mission he stayed with President and Sister Johnson. He told President Johnson that in Samoa it is a law to be in your home every evening for family time after dinner and if you are not the village elders impose a 50.00 fine. If you don't go to church, any church, on Sunday, another 50.00 fine. But, he said when he got home, there would be a huge community celebration for him. He was very humble, his testimony was wonderful.

Then there was Elder Haggard from North Dakota, who was so obedient to all the rules that some of the elders made fun of him behind his back. When Sister Johnson caught wind of it, she just laid down the law, and asked the offenders why they made fun of someone who was obedient.  After that the elders became very respectful of him gained a real appreciation for him. He went home last week. President Johnson told a story of Elder Haggard when he had taken an investigator, who was struggling, to the Why I Believe fireside at the temple visitor's center. It was pretty crowded I imagine. There was a group with Elder Haggard and his investigator, including Pres. Johnson, when all of a sudden Elder Haggard said, we need to pray, and knelt down. So, President Johnson said, right there in the middle of the visitor's center, he knelt down too and pretty soon the whole group did. President Johnson said it was pretty amazing that Elder Haggard was so in tune with the spirit and earnest in his efforts to help his investigator.