Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rock Creek Hollow Time!

Short Version:
We spent the week at Rock Creek Hollow. I did get lost driving to it. I ended up in the middle of nowhere and had to ask some people on 4-wheelers for directions. I basically came into it the way the handcarts do. Luckily we were ahead of them but I found it. I was getting a flat tire the last 3 or 4 miles but I did make it all the way in and then the tire went flat. I had this particular tire fixed 2 times before so needless to say I am buying new tires today. 
President Hinckley has said that Rock Creek Hollow is hallowed ground. His definition of hallow ground is a place where the Savior has walked. The spirit is very strong there. We enjoyed our time there with treks coming in, camping overnight and leaving the next day. We also had visitors that come to visit the site. We had many opportunities to teach and testify this week. We stay in a 25’ camper and of course everything is small in a camper. Although it was a great week, I could hardly wait to get back to Martin’s Cove where my feet wouldn’t hang off the end of the bed. It’s around 1,000 feet higher there. You can see the Windriver mountain range in the distance and they still have snow on them. Therefore the mornings were brisk and cool. I was able to see deer and also flocks of sage hens. They remind me a lot of grouse. They would perch on the benches and picnic tables at night. But of course that means someone is going to have to clean them all the next morning. But all in a day’s work. 
Love you all,
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Before going to Rock Creek Hollow we had what we believe will be our last trek. There were more that week and a few to come over the next couple weeks but they are few and we probably won’t have another one. I could be wrong. But as I looked through pictures for this email it brought on a bunch of emotions realizing these were probably the last photos I will take of the busy trekking time.

1—A river crossing with handcarts and people putting on their water shoes.
2—All the times we have started with a group up into the cove. 
3—A talk by a leader to their group about doing hard things or whatever they felt their group needed to hear. Just doing what the spirit guided them to do and say. There are two places they can do this—Dan W. Jones and Lower Amphitheater. 
4—A picture from my favorite Amphitheater. The Lower one. It is further up to the cove and has shade. It can only hold about 75 people so it won’t accommodate the bigger groups but the view is wonderful. And the hike the rest of the way up the cove isn’t as long so it makes it nice after a break.
5—Meeting awesome people.
6—Handcarts lined up in front of the Trek Center ready to go or leave for Sixth Crossing. This was perfect trekking weather!
7—Trail Charts telling who is coming, how many people, how many vehicles, what time, who is trekking with them, what they need and where.
I must admit it has been a crazy, busy 10 weeks of trekking with all the groups coming in. We actually have a total of 12 weeks but these last 2 weeks are going to be very slow comparatively speaking. For example we only have 2 treks this whole week and next week we only have a few and then they are all done. We don’t even have anyone in the campgrounds any more. They will be staying over at Sixth Crossing or Rock Creek Hollow but not here. It is weird how there really isn’t a transition to the end of the trekking season. It was fast, hard and busy and then like we just stopped.
Now to tell you about Rock Creek Hollow and our week there. Not every couple has the opportunity to serve a week there. There are two couples there at all times starting in July through the beginning of September. One couple comes from Sixth Crossing and their week is Monday to Monday. The other couple comes from Martin’s Cove and they come Thursday to Thursday. So you spend time with 2 different couples during your week. They bring up 2 trailers one for the Sixth Crossing couple and one for the Martin’s Cove couple. Ours was the one on the right.
The Sage hens were cool to see but Elder Sigmon neglected to mention the girls were the ones who ended up cleaning the tables and benches and I must say I don’t like them more than I didn’t like pigeon’s presents! 

The week we were to be there we knew there was a Stake called Pleasant Grove Manila coming with 800 people. The nickname for it was “Monster Manilla.” Talking to the person who did all the coordination and contact person he would have liked it to be known as “Mega Manilla.” Too late Monster Manilla is what stuck. We knew there were a lot of buses and a lot of kids. I was very curious as to how this was all going to be. Luckily they were the only group there and so they had the whole campground to themselves at Rock Creek Hollow.
The other thing we knew was we had a connection to this group. We needed to keep our eye out for a brother to Bishop Sheffield from our ward back home. (Karl served with him as one of his counselors) And also the son of our Home Teachers (Bishop Sheffield’s parents also in our home ward). We had never met him before but knew his name was Allen Sheffield. We asked some of the support people if they knew him and several had no idea who he was but we finally found one gentleman who did and said he would point him out to us.
Support staff came in early and they were very organized! It was so cool to watch. They had a person in charge of making sure the buses knew what to do and where to go. They only had 13 of them to deal with (being sarcastic.) After consulting with us and the best way to handle them it was a matter of making it happen. Here is a picture of them all starting to come in.
There were no kids on the bus just their stuff. The kids were already on the trail with their handcarts going over Rocky Ridge and coming into Rock Creek Hollow. The support staff used handcarts to off load the buses and put them in organized piles according to color so the kids, ma’s and pa’s could set up camp when they made it in for the day.
The first part of the week we were there (Thursday through Saturday) we did not lack for food. We were invited to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last part of our stay (Tuesday through Thursday) was a little different story. We were invited to one dinner. But they also invited us to their evening fireside and morning devotional which was very nice of them. It was the only devotional we were invited to. Well I shouldn’t say that because Monster Manila invited us but with 800 people all trying to fit into an amphitheater we did not want to cause someone else to have to stand or be able to fit because we were there.
Back to Monster Manila. . .We were able to see Allen and Carrie Sheffield and it was great to meet them. We even ate breakfast together the next morning! The reason I am in what we call “blues” is because after the kids come in off Rocky Ridge their carts are muddy and dirty. We have them take them into camp and unload their stuff and bring the carts back empty so we can pressure wash them and then the handcart wranglers come and load them and take them back around so when the next trek comes to go over Rocky Ridge they have handcarts ready to go. This group had 67 handcarts and I had washed a lot of them!
What we didn’t know was we had one more connection to this group! When the first truck of support staff came in I saw on their name tag “Dan McRae.” Having worked with Sister Scussel and scheduling and trail charts I have become very familiar with people who call in, come in, etc. The contact person for each trek. So I had recognized the name as a contact person so I asked him if he was the Trek Leader which is usually the case of the contact person. He told me “No, no, that’s my son. My wife and I served a mission here last summer at Martin’s Cove and when he had some of his support people have to back out at the last minute my son asked if we would be willing to come. We had to think about it for about 2 seconds and said yes we would love to come and help you. So here we are.”

I didn’t think any more about it and then after meeting Allen and his wife we were over by handcarts and we hear this “Sigmons—Dan McRae from Bernalillo!” We turn around and there is this guy who hasn’t changed and used to live in our ward. He moved from our ward 6 years ago. Unfortunately his wife, Holly, didn’t make it on the trip because she broke her ankle 8 weeks prior. It would have been great to see her but it was so good to see Dan! (Who was the other people’s son! So that was his parents we had met earlier! Crazy!) For those of you who know Dan, he hasn’t changed a bit has he?
We served with the Taylors from Sixth Crossing who happen to live where one of my aunt and uncle’s live in Rancho Cucamonga. And they actually know them and she went to Seminary, High School and one semester of Ricks College with my cousin. Crazy! We ended up calling my aunt and uncle to tell them and my cousin so she could talk to her.
Okay don’t laugh at my clothes. I knew I wasn’t seeing a lot of people and they are functional. (The skirt doesn’t blow up in the wind, lightweight and cool.) The other funny thing is that there isn’t a lot of shady places to hang out at and one day a person walked up as we were sitting in front of this building and asked us if this was our Visitor’s Center. (Actually it is the bathrooms). It still gives us a good laugh.

Here is a picture of me pressure washing some of the handcarts. There are 2 pressure washers and so someone else is also helping and people are taking them after they are cleaned to be loaded into the trucks. This was my last evening of being there and it was the only day I actually had to wear something because it was cool. Usually I was in my short sleeves and grateful for the mist coming from the pressure washer because it was refreshing.
All I can say is there is such a spirit to this place and it is hallowed ground. We loved it! It was busy and we worked but it was quiet in the fact we didn’t have the radio chatter we have at Martin’s Cove and we were in beautiful country. The people who came were changed and touched for being there and it was just a great experience. We enjoyed telling visitors and others the stories of this site and the people who had come through here.

Let me tell you a little bit about Rock Creek Hollow. It pertains to the Willie Handcart Company. When the snow and weather caught them they were near Sixth Crossing. They took refuge in the willows there. When they woke in the morning there was at least 4” of snow and still falling. This was October 19, 1856. It was a few days later when some rescuers met up with them. They left 6 wagons with them and 8 went on to find the Martin Handcart Company and Hunt and Hodgetts Wagon Companies. On the 23rd of October when they woke up the Willie Company faced their hardest day that would test them like no other. They were still 260 miles from Salt Lake City and they needed to cross Rocky Ridge into Rock Creek Hollow. It is about 14 miles with a climb of 600 feet over a distance of about four miles and across a boulder-strewn blockade at the top. The trail continues down a long grade descent and crossed several streams before reaching the camp site. These people were already worn down by hunger and fatigue. They left early in the morning and for some it took 27 hours to get to Rock Creek Hollow. 

They were going through 12-18” of snow and a blizzard as they traveled up Rocky Ridge. One story is of James Kirkwood who was 11 came with his widowed mother, Margaret, and his three brothers. One of his brothers, Thomas, was crippled and had to ride in the handcart. James’ primary responsibility on the trek was to care for his little 5 year old brother, Joseph while his mother and older brother Robert pulled the cart. When little Joseph become too weary to walk, James had no choice but to carry him. Left behind by the main group, James carried Joseph up the hill on his back. When they reached camp James put Joseph down and then collapsed and died from exposure and overexertion. Joseph survived. James is buried in a mass grave at Rock Creek Hollow with 12 others. The next day 2 of those who helped dig the grave died and were buried nearby. There is a memorial there to these 15 people who are buried there. These people sacrificed so much for what they believed and at the same time so many had charity towards others too.

We loved to walk around and look at the campground, Remember Rock, the Memorial, amphitheaters, etc. This was my favorite amphitheater here because from here you could see the tracks of the handcarts coming in on one side and going out on the other. You have to go over a bridge to reach it and the Rock Creek River is right there.
There were also some beautiful sunsets. 
This was another sight we would see as the treks were leaving. This was usually the last stop for most of them and so they were trying to give away the food that was left or it would have to be thrown away. She was just so cute about it I had to take her picture!
The last couple we were with from Sixth Crossing was the McMillians. We also enjoyed our time with them too. We had two great couples to spend time and work with.
While we were at Rock Creek Hollow we missed our people and wondered how everyone was doing. I mentioned to Elder Sigmon this is going to be how we feel when we go home from our mission but we won’t be able to look out a window or see them. So as we drove into our street off the highway called “Avenue of Rocks” I was getting a little sentimental. I told Elder Sigmon “We are home again! But there is going to be a time when we will be going down this road for a last time.” Of course I started to cry. Elder Sigmon just pats my arm and tells me “It will be okay!” Bless his little heart.

But. . .as we drove up into our drive way I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just started saying “Look! Look what Elder Ward did! I love it!” Then I was just laughing. I needed that laugh! It was great!

Before you see the picture I need to do some explaining. When we came they had these signs with our names on them in everyone’s front yard. Well there is a Sister who thought it would be so fun if we would do things to decorate our yards and then have a “yard of the month” sign show up on the cutest or best one that month. She doesn’t know the Sigmon’s very well because I don’t have a lot of small items in my home because then you would have to dust them. I also knew if I had things in my yard I would have to take time to get it or take care of it. Uh No! I knew I would be too busy or too tired to have to worry about it. But every time I drove up I kind of got the feeling it could look like a grave marker. So then I asked our neighbors the Wards who have a little crazy sense of humor if they thought I maybe could get yard of the month if I was able to find a tombstone and put it behind our name sign and write on it “Here Lies” so it was above the Sigmon. I thought it would be hilarious but I just wasn’t sure if other people would think it was funny. If it was around Halloween time I so would have done it but of course it wasn’t. 
So I guess since then Elder Ward had a plan. I put a thought into his head. He had found some wood and glued some pieces together and then cut it out. Then he hid this piece of wood in the woodshop trash can so we wouldn’t see it. While we were at Rock Creek Hollow he pulled it out and patiently and lovingly worked on it. I guess some other people saw it and didn’t think he had a good sense of humor. But he reassured them it is exactly what I would want. And he was so right!!! It is coming home with me!!!!
Isn’t it awesome!!!  We hope you are all doing well and talk to you soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

We had Exciting Visitors!

Short Version:
A lot of the same thing. The highlight was my son Lance and his family coming to visit us. We have had a couple of smaller treks which were spiritual and awesome. I can’t believe I am missing the 24th of July celebration in Manassa. I always look forward to that. I love the pioneers and all they have done for us. Next week we will have the opportunity to serve at Rock Creek Hollow. This is where the Willie handcart company camped after crossing Rocky Ridge. I am looking forward to that experience.

Love you all and hope you are having a great summer.
Elder Sigmon

Read on for longer version:
I am not sure how long this version is going to be. Like Elder Sigmon said we have had Lance’s family come and visit us. It truly was the highlight. They were here for only a short time but quality was priceless! They arrived at noon and the hugs were awesome! Family just give the best hugs! It was fun to introduce them to our friends while we ate lunch in the barn with everyone. After lunch we headed out to do a trek into the cove. I gave them the option of not taking the handcart since time was limited but they wanted to take one. They were able to cross Pete’s creek. If you are good you can make it across on the rocks and not step in the water but it is tough navigating a handcart through the rocks and water.
The kids did pretty well for the most part. Kate and Jaelyn had a little trouble with the heat but I had some neck coolers and we reminded them to drink. They were troopers and it was so good to spend this time with them and share the scenery and the experiences with them in person. Pictures and stories are just not the same as being here and experience it. It was such a special experience to sit in the Lower Amphitheatre with them and talk about these people and their experiences and what they went through. Then to ponder why the Lord didn’t temper the weather which we know he could have. Lance mentioned there was a reason the pioneers had this experience as their refiners fire. We all will probably have an experience which will be our refiner’s fire where we come to a point where we just can’t do it by ourselves. We need help and the Savior can give us that help. Will we take it? 
There was such a sweet spirit and I love the view from this spot. The meadow, some shade and benches to sit on. It is almost to the summit but gives you a chance to rest before moving onto the summit. We headed onto the summit and misted ourselves off and refilled our water bottles. On the way back down we were able to see a spotted fawn. It ended up being two of them.
We had special permission to eat dinner with them in Rawlins and bid them farewell as they were leaving in the morning onto other adventures on their vacation.

The very next day we went on a trek with the West Bountiful Ward with about 50 people. There was such a sweet spirit with this ward and I enjoyed visiting with some of the adults and the youth. They are great people and doing wonderful things. I wasn’t sure how I would do since I had just gone with my own family the afternoon before. So I had asked Elder Swingholm if he would be willing to go with Elder Sigmon through the cove and I sit with his wife at Handcart parking if I was having a hard time. But when I got to Handcart parking I felt I was doing fine and so I did end up doing the whole thing after all. I am very grateful for people who are so willing to step in and help and are more than happy to do it. I also had Elder Scussel our District Leader asking me if I was going to be okay before we even left because he knew I had been out the day before. So many kind people.

This group had their bulk of their program at the Rescue Statues and had 4 girls sing a beautiful song called “Bring them In.” The words are very moving and they did a great job.
Now I will tell you the rest of the story of the rattlesnake from the last post. After the snake was killed we had put it in the freezer for Elder Taylor when he got back from Rock Creek Hollow. Well he used his tanning kit and it came out quite nice! He plans to use it for a hat band. 
Today is preparation day and after correlations we came out to a flat tire. We are in the wait and see mode whether or not they will be able to repair it or if we will be buying new tires all the way around. They were able to fix our tire! Yay!

We also finally found Bessemer Bend on our way into Casper today. This is where the Martin Handcart Company was found by the rescue party for the first time. The Platte River is behind me. This isn’t where they crossed the Platte. It was further back in Casper but it took them 4 days to go 10 miles from Casper to Bessemer Bend in subzero temperatures and in at least a foot of snow.
That’s it for now. Hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your summer.
Karl & Monica

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It is hot here too!

Short Version:
Once again another busy couple of weeks. I think I was called on this mission to fix lawn mowers lol. The Church historical department has said they would like to reduce our 5 acres of grass mowing and put in more natural landscaping. I would vote for that.

The office keeps telling us this is our busy week and then the next week is even busier. I have learned it is a lot of busy weeks in a row for about for 2-3 more weeks.

Last Saturday we were able to go to the Temple in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is out of our mission but we have permission to go once every 4 months. We went with 3 other couples and it was a very full day but it was great. It was great to be able to attend the temple. We were waiting in the chapel and it was very crowded and full and I look back and the last sister to walk in was Sister Anderson from Manassa, Colorado. It was so neat to visit with her and again run into somebody I know on my mission.
Left to Right: Elder & Sister Honey, Elder & Sister Hough, Elder & Sister Sigmon, and Elder & Sister Waldmann.

We did have to talk in church last Sunday. I think it went fairly well. Sister Sigmon does such a great job but I’m glad it’s over. It continues to be warm weather but bearable. 

I love you all,
Elder Sigmon

Longer Version:
I know I do a lot of talking about treks but let’s face it right now it is the main focus. We got one this time of 13 people which were 2 families. We have not had one this small and we weren’t sure what to expect and didn’t have a lot of background other than one family was from South Africa. We came to find out that the 2 dads had gone to grad school together and the one from the states had introduced the other to the church and baptized him 21 years ago. They both got married and had children close in ages. They planned a church history trip together and had started in Palmyra and were working their way through staying in 2 RV’s. They were a very enjoyable group and the families got along very well. 

One of the highlights of this trek was we finally were able to start some river crossings but without handcarts. President and Sister Pace caught up with us just in time to get in the river with them. Elder Sigmon and I did not get in. It was cute. One of the younger kids started to go with an older sibling but as soon as he hit the water he started crying and decided he didn’t want to go in. Then his mom came and asked if he wanted to go with her. He decided to go. He went but did some crying as he did and about ½ way President told him “you are almost there.” He made it all the way across but it wasn’t his favorite thing to do. I asked him later if he was glad he did it. He looks at me and says “I don’t know.” It was cute. I did tell him at least he can look back on it and know he can do hard things.
 The little boy in the picture in the purple shirt is the one I talked about with his brother. This is as far as he got the first time. In the picture below you see him with his mom and he is at the point President Pace told him he was 1/2 way there and it wasn’t that much farther. He was doing a great job. It helped get him over the hurdle and to keep going. Isn’t that much like life and some of our trials? We just need to keep going.
The next trek we went on was a ward and they were about 58 people. It was a great ward with great people! Elder Turpin, the Trek Coordinator, wanted us to take our handcarts through because he wanted to see how the bearings did. The river is still a little high and goes over the hub but he wanted to see how it really affected the bearings on the carts. So since we were a small group and only had 6 carts he came out to be at the river crossing. I have a knee brace I have been wearing and didn’t want to get it wet so I asked the people in the back cart if they would mind pulling me across. They said no problem. They had already adopted me into their family even though their cart didn’t have a family flag. It was supposed to have been the coolest flag but the Ma had somehow left it at home. They were the Conquerors since the Ma and Pa’s last name was Conk. And it had scripture references pertaining to it and one girl who was quite artistic helped with it. I had to take her word for it but I was all in. When I talked with the Trek Leader about crossing and that if he would lead them across because Elder Sigmon would be walking over the bridge and not through the water and meeting us and I would be in the rear. He decided it would be better if I went in the lead cart with him and some others. My family was disappointed but I told them I would be back since I am in the rear of the trek most of the time. So it was all good. Well I put my walking stick in the cart and climbed in. There was a deeper hole in the river at the start where we went in. So we stopped and rearranged the bucket I was sitting on to move it back a little more so I could put my feet in front of me instead of sitting sideways. (I broke 2 nails in the process)  But with the deepness of the hole one of the guys said “Sister, hold onto my shoulder.” We were all a little concerned I might topple out of the cart. The water came up over the bottom of the cart and so the bottom part of my shoe and feet got wet but we made it without any incident. As I saw where we had to walk to get back on the trail I was going to tell Elder Sigmon to make sure he used his walking stick for snakes and I went to grab mine and it was gone. It apparently rose with the water in the bottom of the cart and was at just the right height to float on out the back of the cart. So Elder Sigmon gave me his and he didn’t have one. Luckily we didn’t run across any snakes as we headed back to the trail. I was sad it just floated away. If I had known I could have held on to the strap. The story of life--Live and learn.

I took this picture after we got across of the rest of the group crossing the river.
These were my handcart pullers!
Now for the small town excitement!  **WARNING: If you are not a snake fan read but don’t look at pictures! But remember Karl lived it!

As Karl mentioned we talked last Sunday. Karl likes to practice his talk by using something for his pulpit and saying it like he is giving it. So he went over to what we call “the pavilion.” It is a building where we gather for our socials and Family Home Evening. There is a stove, sink and counters, serving tables, etc there. Well when he got there another Elder was there using the oven to melt the cheese on his casserole because their RV oven is too small. So Karl didn’t get to practice but he visited with Elder H. Ward for 5 minutes and they both headed out. When they look over to the side of the building Karl sees a snake and says “What’s that?”  So they go to investigate a little closer thinking it is a bull snake and Elder H. Ward is carrying his casserole in his hands. As they get closer they see something sticking up and Karl realizes that it is rattles on a rattlesnake. He isn’t coiled up just his tail is folded about halfway by his body. So there they are and Karl is like “We can’t let it go we need to kill it. Do you know where a snake catcher is?” With a No for an answer the next questions is “Do you have your radio?” Again neither one has a radio. So Karl tells Elder H. Ward to run home with his casserole and get a radio. While Elder Sigmon is waiting and watching the snake it keeps moving towards him. He was debating whether not a snake would climb a bench. While Elder H. Ward got his radio he made a call if someone knew where the snake catcher was because they had a rattlesnake by the pavilion. Of course then all the people come out of the houses and begin to congregate. 

I was home laying on the couch resting after our long hot day. I don’t remember if we had a trek or not but our radios were off and it was quite pleasant and my eyes were closed. When all of a sudden WHOOSH as the door flies open and Karl is saying something like “there’s a rattlesnake by the pavilion and I need Elder Ward!” Then off he runs. So I go running out with bare feet to knock on Elder Ward’s door (We have two Elder Wards so hence H. Ward and just Ward. One couple came when we did and the other couple came later near May so we call the one that came with us 1st Ward and the other one 2nd Ward lol). Back to the story. Elder Ward was in the shower but I see there are a lot of people coming out to help and one had a snake catcher. So I ran back to get shoes and my phone for pictures! Elder Schow was able to catch it and they couldn’t find a shovel so they found a flat hoe and since he was on gravel they put it on a board to finish it off. It was about 4’ long and had about 8 rattles on it. 

Elder Taylor had bought a snake tanning kit and was at Rock Creek Hollow for the week so we all decided to save it for him and put it in the freezer. It is in a black bag so no one will be shocked when they open the freezer and see a black bag. By the way, now Elder Sigmon can no longer say he hasn’t seen a rattlesnake. But he did say it helped him to see how they caught it. I missed that part as I grabbed shoes and a phone. But he also did say the stick is still way too short! I do have to give props to Sister Schow for being brave enough to hold the bag they put it in. 
**DON'T LOOK -- Pictures!  Move on if too timid
For nice nature pictures one day when we were coming home the twins were just lounging on the road looking at us until we got a little too close. I did get a picture before they took off. Another day Karl and I were sitting by our house on the picnic table and a female antelope walks up and looks at us and then walks up and to our right as she passed through and then along behind her come 3 little ones who also look at us and keep following the other antelope. They weren’t 5 feet from us. Crazy! 
Karl did mention we talked on Sunday and it went good. Lately we have been having Young Women come every week to church and so we as a Presidency have been taking turns giving the lesson. It has been anywhere from 2-4 girls between the ages of 12-18. It will be my turn this upcoming Sunday if we have some Young Women. If not then it is my turn the next time they come. We tell the girls a story about one of the Young Ladies that came over either with the Martin or the Willie handcart company. Then we have the girls make a hankie doll they can take home with them. It is always an enjoyable time and we love visiting with these girls. They all have different personalities. Some are shy and some are ready to pipe in with a comment or what they have learned or what they can apply to their lives from the story we tell. But by the end of the time they all usually are more comfortable and share with us.

On Wednesday I was mowing lawns again on the riding lawn mower. President Pace came over and stopped me and wanted to know if I am always smiling when I am on the riding lawn mower. I had to laugh. There is something about the wind in your hair, the smell of fresh cut grass, and being alone with your thoughts and just enjoying being outside! 

That’s about all the excitement around here! Hope you are all well. 
Karl and Monica

Monday, July 3, 2017

So far no Rattlesnake Sightings!

Short Version:
It has been a very busy few weeks. But also very rewarding. It is kind of like a yoyo where I have these spiritual and emotional highs and then I’m tired. Then I have another spiritual high and then I’m tired. But I am happy and enjoying myself. I was able to spend a few days in the shop lately and some parts came in for some equipment that was broken so I was able to get some things fixed and back in use.
Saturday we were serving in the Visitor’s Center and this sweet family came through with 3 couples and 8 kids. They wanted to take a handcart into the Cove. They were waiting by the lawn and picnic area while we retrieved a handcart for them to take. When we got back one of the dads had picked up this big bull snake and of course you know me and snakes we don’t like them. He is showing all the kids and asking if they want to hold it. The mothers are all “no, no don’t let them hold it.” He asked Sister Sigmon “What do you want me to do with this snake?” She says “Whatever you do don’t give it to Elder Sigmon. Maybe go let it go by the river over there.”  He then says “They make a hissing noise and said do you want to hear it hiss?” As he keeps moving closer to my ear as I keep moving away. About that time I look over towards the office and President Pace walks out. So he is standing there looking at us and I just kind of shrug my shoulders and tell the guy to go let it go over by the river. The man goes to turn it loose and President Pace comes walking over to me “Huh, Elder Sigmon that ought to be great. We are having a baptism over there in an hour. We’ll just see if that snake comes back around or moves on. Maybe you should conduct it.” He did say it with a smile. Part of me wanted to say when the guy asked me what he should do with it. I was tempted to say “chop it up into little pieces and throw it into the bushes!”
We had one trek this week. It was a smaller group of about 80 people. They were well prepared and had a great spirit about them. As I was leading the head cart a small little Mia Maid about 14 years old was helping pull the cart. I was asking her questions and making conversation with her. I was asking her how her Mia Maid class in church was going and if she had been to girls camp yet, how she was enjoying the trek, etc. Then she kind of turns the table on me and started asking me questions. She said “Elder, what are you doing to prepare for the Second Coming?” I thought wow that’s a great question! I then told her I was following our prophet’s counsel which was reading the scriptures, having family home evening, family prayer and bore my testimony about living prophets and if we follow their counsel we would be prepared for the Second Coming. She then told me that she had a personal goal. I asked her “What was that?” She said “I want to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ like Joseph Smith and other Pioneers had.” My heart was so full of joy when she said that. I told her that she could have that and that Heavenly Father loved her and Jesus Christ loved her. I just wanted to stop the trek and give her a big hug but I couldn’t. The more I work with the youth the hope and faith it gives me that the church will be alright as we move forward towards the Second Coming. 
On Monday night we had Family Home Evening. We had a camp fire and made S’mores. Each District was to tell some kind of camp fire story. I was able to tell how my Great, Great Grandfather who lived in the Hayward Valley in Georgia was converted when the missionary, John Morgan, came through as a missionary.  There were 25-30 families who had their bibles marked a week before by a man who came through. He said a man would soon come and explain those scriptures to them. It was John Morgan who came and stopped to have dinner with the first family and talked to them about the church and showed them some scriptures. These were the same ones which had been previously marked. It turned out that every family except a few ended up joining the church. John Morgan and others believe perhaps this was one of the 3 Nephites who came and marked the verses. When I finished the story one of the Sisters in the group asked if that was a true story and if it was documented. Guess she might have thought I was making it up. I told her it was true and it is documented. We had a wonderful evening with the others telling their stories.
I love you all. I continue to be homesick. I don’t think that will ever go away.
Elder Sigmon

For the longer version read on.
This week was our first week of care packages. The first one was from my sister and her daughter, Kylie, who spent some of their free time making lanyards for the wood medallions we give away to the school children and kids who come to the Visitor’s Center. There were 620 of them. It was fun to open the package and see all the lanyard and colors. Thanks guys!
The other package was a nice surprise! One of Elder Sigmon’s favorite desserts is homemade carrot cake from his family. Well believe it or not you can mail a carrot cake from Colorado to Wyoming and it can arrive in tack and very much able to be eaten. We also got some other nice goodies snuck in the package. Thank you to his Sister Suzan.
I have to insert a picture of humor. As you know the mechanic twins are Elder Roundy and Elder Sigmon. Well today we had three of them all ready to work and they have worked together and can cause their own mischief. You know the saying “Two boys are half a boy and 3 boys aren’t a boy at all!” Just looking at the three of them all excited about maybe working together. It has been quite a while since we have been so busy and on different assignments. Sister Hough and I laughed and decided we needed to get a picture of these guys together. We decided that the three of them should be called “Triple Trouble!” I want you to notice Elder Hough on the left end there. He isn’t afraid of Elder Sigmon or doesn’t want him to touch him. He is trying to stand on his tippy toes so he can be a little taller. When I went to take the picture he did say something about not taking a picture of the feet. I didn’t understand what he was talking about until later. It was so funny! He is just trying to stay on the sidewalk and not fall over but be taller.
Left to Right: Elder Hough, Elder Sigmon, Elder Roundy
Later in the week we over at a neighbor’s home welcoming them back from Rock Creek Hollow and hearing about their experiences. Elder Hough and Sigmon were sitting on the picnic table and Sister Hough commented on how she thought they looked like twins so I took another picture. I actually really like this picture of them together.
Left to Right: Elder Ward, Elder Sigmon, Elder Hough
They were suspicious of our smiling and picture taking. Elder Sigmon thinks I just take pictures to make fun or tease him. Totally not true! I am innocent!

It is time for me to tell you about the day I was a cohort in being sneaky.  I know I have mentioned Sister Scussel was going to have surgery on Wednesday last week. She finally ended up having it late in the day and coming home about 10 p.m. Everything went well and she was expected to have a quick recovery but on Thursday I was in the office to try and help handle things or if she was coherent do things she needed me to do. Well on the way in I stopped to talk to her husband at base and she how she was doing and if I could go in and check on her. His statement was “please do. I gave her medicine at 6 this morning and she is due again for another at noon.” When I went in to check on her after our correlation meeting. It was about 9. She was still a little tired and was going to sleep another hour before maybe thinking about breakfast. The other side of the coin is as a scheduler for treks she talks with a contact person for each group. Some them you end up developing a relationship with over all the communications. That is what happened with this one group coming in from Laguna Niguel Stake in California. So this group came in the night before and she really really wanted meet up with the lady. They were already out on the trail and so she had asked me how they were doing and where they were.

I had gone back out to the office which is attached to her house and in about 15 minutes she shows up at the door all dressed and telling me to come into the house and help her. I’m like “what are you doing?” As if I didn’t already know she is planning on going out to meet the trek on the trail so she can visit with this girl. I was right. So I made her eat a little breakfast and then I had to make 2 slings for her to get her arms in with ice. The dish towels were just a little too short to tie around her neck. Then just as we are about to get in the truck and drive to base where we can walk down to the statues her husband calls on the radio and wants me to go to the private channel so he can check on her. I think he is like Elder Sigmon, just kind of has a sixth sense of what I am up to. He asks me “How is she doing?” So I tell him “Oh good she has eaten breakfast and is doing pretty good.” Then the next question…”What is her intentions?” All I could say was “well you know your wife pretty good and we will be at base in 5 minutes.” His reply, ”that’s what I thought.” As we are driving out Sister Scussel tells me the doctor had called to check on her and she did say she felt like taking a walk and he told sure no problem, go ahead. I just looked at her and said “you neglected to tell him it was part of a trek!” Then she tells me “you need to be prepared when you see Elder, he’s going to have a grouchy face.” You think? lol 

Well he did say “How stubborn can you be?” but because I was with her off we went. She wasn’t sure if she was going to go into the Cove. I informed her she was not going that far. Then as we are walking she tells me you can’t let Sister Bowden know what we did. (She is another missionary but also a nurse.) Well the next thing I know we are walking past another trek and there is Sister Bowden’s husband looking at us going “Oh No! Oh No!” She was so busted. As we are getting closer to the statues Sister Scussel says I think we will be okay because I think President Pace is in the Cove and so he shouldn’t see me. Then the next thing as we approach I see President Pace and he is just looking at us. I’m like “Sister Scussel I think that worked because I think that is President Pace.” Then he walks over to someone and then I see Sister Pace’s head come up and look at us. So I tell her “I think you are going to get me fired and my office privileges revoked!” Actually President and Sister Pace took it very well since I was with her. I told them she wasn’t going into the cove. She did get to visit with the Sister she was looking for and so all was well. I did tell President Pace I was trying to figure out the best way to get her back to the Homestead. Either walk on to handcart parking and have base bring in a rover or backtrack to base and drive her back home. Her husband didn’t take a car out so he could drive his own car back if we didn’t go get it. President told me he liked plan A…bring in the rover to go back. So as we started walking to handcart parking her husband at base asked if everything was okay and I told him yes we were heading to handcart parking and then needed a rover. So he calls Trek Coordinator and asks for an “Extraction” which means a medical extraction. Sister Scussel wasn’t happy and it was his way of getting even with her lol. When we got back she went to bed and rested. I know how much this group meant to her and if it was any other group it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. I didn’t get fired or end up losing any privileges but she totally got busted and wasn’t very sneaky as she thought! In the picture left to right Sister Pace, Sister Harris who was the Trek Host, and Sister Scussel. President said this moment needed to be documented since here is Sister Scussel just hours from having surgery and Sister Pace wearing a hat who said she would never wear a hat. I even matched the slings with fabric from the sewing center to match her blouse to be less conspicuous.
Left to Right: Sister Pace, Sister Harris, Sister Scussel
That’s about it! We spent today the 3rd of July with Karl’s sister and her husband who came into Casper to see the other new grandchild who was born recently. Her name is Abriel and is very cute. We enjoyed good food and good company.

Hope you all have a fun and safe holiday. 
Love Karl and Monica

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Spirit of Trekking!

Short Version: Too tired to dictate or type this week.
Elder Sigmon

For the Longer version read on.
I haven’t always had space to put in a lot of the nature pictures because there are just so many and you wouldn’t believe how many of them are not cows. I think they raise more antelope around here than cows. This first picture I need to give a little background on to appreciate the humor of the picture.

I know I have mentioned Sister Gillespie and what a cheerleader and excited person she is. Well she asked if we were going to do things to our yard to make it look nice. The Gillespies live in neighborhood back home where they would go around and give yard of the month and it could be in your yard when you came home. She thought it would be fun to do something like that here. Well the Wards are an adventurous couple and had bought those spinning things at Dollar Tree which he figured out how to reinforce so they don’t fall apart and blow all the way to Nebraska. Hence they decorated their yard some and ended up with the yard of the month sign. Then magically there were flowers put with a rubber duck on the front of their yard. With no confession of who put it on their lawn. Well one day Karl and I were sitting in our truck and I look over onto the Ward’s lawn and see their new lawn décor. I couldn’t resist texting them to ask when they got the new lawn décor. By the time they came out to check it out Bucky had left.
He totally was relaxing, enjoying the scenery.

I also wanted to mention a great thought which was shared on one of our previous treks. It was a smaller group and they had a little talk before going up into the Cove about hard things. It is all a matter of perspective. Sometimes our problems seem so big and we just want them to go away and be gone. But the Lord may have another thought and He knows it is something that really isn’t as big as it seems and may be necessary for us to go through in order to become better. He has the bigger picture. They had handed all the kids a rock to carry with them. The speaker had the kids get out their rocks and wrap a towel around them and hit them with a hammer. Just like we are hit by our problems or trials. But when it broke open there was something more beautiful inside. We too can become better and more beautiful to the Lord as we go through our problems and trials. I loved the analogy and being such a visual person it really made an impact on me. They were geodes they had given them and it looked like an ordinary ugly rock. They gave them a baggie to put their broken rock pieces into to remind them they can do hard things and be better for it. So can we all!
Tuesday, June 20th we were at the Visitor’s Center. I always enjoy that and visiting with the various people who come through. But one thing funny I saw was someone laying on a rock with their feet up. I couldn’t figure out exactly what they were doing. So I went and investigated and took some pictures.
I actually only saw the legs with feet from where I was sitting. I took the picture when I got a little closer. It was just Sister Hill weeding. Our landscape is very green and full of flowers and fun plants. We don’t want any obnoxious weeds.

Toward the end of our shift at the Visitor’s Center Elder Turpin came up very concerned and said “We have a problem. The pump at handcart parking where everyone can fill their water containers and water bottles before going up into the Cove is broken.” So Elder Sigmon and Elder Roundy went with Elder Turpin to go check it out while Sister Turpin stayed to cover for the missing people. It turned out the bushing wore out and so it won’t pump. The decision was made to check some of the other well pumps at the campground and see if they had the same type of bushing and steal one off of it and put it on the one at handcart parking so we could function with all the treks tomorrow. So on the way home we stopped at the 2 pumps and one did have the same bushing but it was about ½ way worn out but would do for now. The other one was totally different. So Karl took it off and hammered his hand in the process (but he’s okay). We left it for Elder Roundy to put it on in the morning since we had a trek before everyone is out on the trail again. Phew! Another crisis solved. It is ongoing but keeps things different and definitely never boring.

Wednesday, June 21st we had a trek with Orem Canyon View. It was a big group of 466 people. They split it into two groups and the Turpins had the first half and we had the other half. They were such a great organized, group. They had everything covered by their youth. All the stories, music, etc. There was a special feeling with this group and I loved working with them. This picture is in the Dan W. Jones Amphitheatre before going into the Cove. They sang a song called “Hallowed Ground.” I love the song and they did a beautiful job with it.

I complimented the Trek Leader on how organized both groups were and how wonderful the spirit was with their group and their youth doing everything. Their trek leader told me “you told us what to do and we did it.”  Yes they did and they did it well! We have had a couple groups who have been similar and others who have not. You really see the difference! 
We were training Elder Swingholm so he could go out as a Trek Host. He did a good job and will be fine.
Thursday we had RRA RRA duty (Restroom Assistant.)We had to be up early because we needed to get the bathrooms cleaned on the trail before people are out on the trail. The nice thing is you get done earlier.  BUT then Elder Sigmon worked on brother Roundy’s rover and I went in and worked in the office so we ended up having a longer day instead of a short day. 

Friday was handcart parking duty. This was a new duty for us since we haven't done it yet. The day actually was quite pleasant weather wise! Actually perfect! It wasn’t too hot, there was a nice cool breeze and it was the perfect day for trekking! What is handcart parking? Let me tell you. This is the spot where all the trekkers come and line up their carts according to flag color which they are assigned at the beginning of their trek. The lead cart has the flag and we all talk to each other identifying ourselves by the flag color, i.e. Blue Flag 1 to Blue Flag 2 (us the missionaries, Trek Hosts) or Blue Flag 1 to Base, etc. They come to handcart parking twice during their trek. The first time is after going to the river crossing, statues and before going into the Cove. The second time is after coming out of the Cove. They eat lunch there one of the times they are there. Both times it is used as a restroom stop too.

While you are working at Handcart parking you make sure those people who just want to walk into the cove who are just a basic visitor/tourist are prepared to do so. You ask them if they have water, bug spray and if needed sunscreen. You also answer questions they may have. For the trekkers you direct them in to line up behind their flag color. You have already put out the color flags coming in for the day. You listen to the radio and figure out which treks are coming and in what order. It can change from the schedule depending on if they were late or if one group is tending to be faster, etc.

There was this one boy with the group who went off by himself (at the pump which Karl fixed). He was playing the Harmonica and it was nice. He was self-taught.  Those other things by him are rickshaws. They are for those who end up with medical needs and can’t walk. Other people will pull them on the trail.
The other picture is of a group which is there and are having a bathroom and lunch break. The boy above is with this group and there are more groups to come but so far they are the first ones here.

There was a lull and Karl had gotten a new hat about 2 weeks ago and I was looking at it and decided to put it on. I kind of liked the hat. It was a smidgen too big but not bad.

The Honeys came in with a trek and Sister Honey doesn’t do too well with walking into the Cove so Elder Sigmon offered to go with Elder Honey and Sister Honey to stay with me. She thought about it but he convinced her he was fine and he went with Elder Honey but there went my hat and my man! He did return though lol. I’m glad he offered because she would have been suffering later if he hadn’t. It was a long day for her as it was.

Monday, June 26th should have been our preparation day but Sister Scussel is going to have surgery on Wednesday for carpal tunnel and pinched nerve in her elbows on both arms. She wanted me to be in the office to help her get Week 7 schedule ready so she doesn’t get behind. We are starting Week 5 this week. But you need to get emails out to the Trek leaders to find out vehicles they are bringing, final numbers, what activities they are planning on doing, if they need missionary assistance, if they need rickshaws for their group, etc. Sister Scussel had talked to scheduler to have me in the office to help to get it done. I was scheduled for Tuesday but Sister Scussel is going to be on a trek and they also had me scheduled to do 5 pie stories. I am not sure how that was even going to work? There are so many facets to making this all work. So we talked about it and Sister Scussel asked if we would be willing to change our preparation day to Tuesday and me working with her in the office on Monday. So that is what we did. 

Karl was able to catch up on the pile of equipment building up in the shop which he couldn’t work on last week because we were scheduled everywhere but work crew. He fixed a riding lawn mower, a push mower, a pressure washer, and a 4-wheeler. By the end of the day the 4-wheeler is back in for repair. Not Elder Sigmon’s fault. Here he is in his home away from home.
The month of June seems to be the month of the birth of antelopes. We have discovered they are like sheep and have quite a few twins. It was funny because one of the missionaries said “Oh this one mom had 8 babies.” We both looked at each other and smiled. Antelopes are a herd type of animal and as such they tend to stay together. What we have seen is one antelope is usually with the babies and the others all kind graze not too far away. So we have determined they must take turns of who is in charge of the babies. Now that would have been great when my kids were little. Although I can’t complain because when my brother lived nearby and the kids were little they were often together at one house or the other. So I did have some breaks and Kathy is a fun mom!

Here are one set of the twins that live by us. So we always say “Oh there’s the twins, hello twins!”
That’s about all of what is going on here in Wyoming. Hope all is well with you and love hearing from everyone! It is a highlight. Love you and miss you!
Elder and Sister Sigmon