Friday, May 19, 2017

Small Town Living!

I’m afraid you only have the longer version this time.

I need to start out by thanking all of you who responded to my survey on shoes. Unfortunately Karl is a little sad. He said the only reason I was making a point is because all of those who responded were all female and there was not one male response. If a male had responded it might have changed the survey. I thought it was funny! But I guess he did have a point. I did have to point out that most of the males were probably only reading the short version. Hahaha! I’m sorry I crack myself up!

As promised I will fill you in on why it took so long to get a post out. As you know we live in Ranch 66-Missionary Village.  You also know where we live is very remote and rural. This is not an understatement. This is very, very, true. When the antelope graze along your home on a daily basis because it has been placed there among their plains grazing area then what is an antelope to do but graze on around this home in their way. Our TV with an antenna you maybe get 3 channels if you are lucky but usually maybe one and that is on a good day. The internet even with hotspot is very inconsistent and even non-existent on days.

But as far as weather there is always a great variety. You have already been introduced to some of it but I want you to know that a week ago Saturday it was 90 degrees in Casper. The rest of this week has been very nice and even T-shirt weather for a period of time during the day. When we would get home it was warm inside and Elder Sigmon started working on trying to start the air conditioner. Luckily there was a part broken which we had to wait until the next preparation day to get before being able to complete that job. You see where this is headed, right? More on this later.

Well the point I am trying to make there are 18 couples who are living here on Ranch 66 right now. I would consider it small town living. When something is happening around here the people start to gather. Twice this week we had unofficial gatherings but very exciting small town living gatherings. The funny thing is for one all the men are grouped together looking up with their hands on their hips. For the other they all gathered looking down with their hands on their hips looking very thoughtful and they have important duties to perform soon.  I have had Karl take a picture of me trying to show you what they looked like.
On Sunday the 7th of May we lost power. It was about 4 p.m. when it happened. Elder Waldmann knew right away what the problem was. He worked as head of facilities over a school district. The easiest way to describe it is to compare it to your electrical control panel at home. When something gets overloaded or for some reason is shorting out it trips a breaker and you don’t have power. Elder Waldmann could see by walking over to our power pole there were two things hanging down and not connected like they should be. This is like a breaker tripping. I lightened up the picture so you could make out things in the picture because it was getting very stormy and rainy.
The other thing I would like you to note is the pole I am pointing to with the arrows is the very last pole on the run. Like we are so rural no one else is connected. It ends with us. You can’t see it in the background of this picture but there is another electrical pole behind it with the same problem. So this picture was taken as we all are impatiently waiting for the electrical company to come out and fix our problem. Remember the closest cities to us are 1 hour away and that is if they leave right away. 

As we were all there waiting we got to noticing that there were about 2-3 couples still sitting in their houses. Now what is up with that? Someone suggested we should go carol to them so they could come out and join us in our fun. We were successful in quilting them into joining us to go and sing to the others. As we were headed over to another area for one last couple the wind started up and the rain started coming down and we all took off in different directions getting out of the weather and heading back to home. I guess we are only fair weather friends.
Of course all of our problems as far as electricity is being reported to the President at the Homestead and so he is aware of our situation. I am also finding myself and others saying “It is an adventure!” How little I knew when I named our blog how often it really, really is out here!

President and Sister Pace came out bearing gifts. She called it our rescue supplies which consisted of a bucket of candy. They were the bigger bags of skittles, Heresy Bar, etc. As she was handing them out I was thinking wow she must have a big bag of these candies because these look like the ones she has in a basket for the missionaries to choose from for their anniversary or birthdays. Later on Sister Pace says “if it is someone’s birthday is next week and there isn’t any candy. Don’t tell them I gave it all away to you guys.”  We all laughed and we decided it was a good cause. 

In our defense for those of us who are in permanent trailers having no power means…we have no heat, lights, etc. The RV’s have heat, etc if they have backup batteries or a generator. The other down side is we are all on a well out here RV and permanent alike. With no electricity we have no water either. 

The electrical company guy did come out and of course he had an audience watch him work. I hope he didn’t feel a lot of pressure but like I said what else is there to do in our small town community. What he was going to do was (going back to our analogy) would be the equivalent of replacing a fuse. If there wasn’t a short then all would be well and the breaker will work when everything is reset. But if there is a short somewhere then the breaker will trip again. He was able to get the end of the line pole things replaced and put back together which I’ll show you a picture of. Then he headed over to the other pole to do the same things to those. Now this was going to be the test because when he connects the last one it could “trip” again. If it did then he was going to have to call in another truck (the big one) and they would have to bring in a new transformer because it would mean it was bad. We had lightening with our storm and somewhere it could have hit a pole and since it will travel to the end of the line guess what that is where we are and we end up with the bad transformer and no power. We are all sitting there with our fingers crossed. 
I was designated as the picture taker so they could be used in the monthly newsletter. I was all ready with my finger on the push button to get the picture if the transformer exploded. Well it did explode but instead of pushing the button I jumped because it scared me and a big cloud of grey smoke came out of it. I asked him if he could do a do-over but well you know how that goes. :( We were back to square one and waiting for another truck. I didn’t want to go to bed until we had electricity and it finally came back on at 10 p.m. Thank heavens for gas stoves and Karl had a lighter in his tool box and we had a solar lantern and 2 candles. So we were warm and had some light to read by while waiting.
May 8th, Monday we had safety training which included how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Elder Roundy was in charge of getting a fire going. This guy loves to start fires. He is crazy! He starts the fire in Bertha all the time. Bertha is where we put all our trash and it gets burned up. The only things that do not go into Bertha are pop cans and tin cans. The pop cans are crushed and recycled and tin cans go straight into the trash bin. The ashes after being cooled for several days prior to the trash pickup also will go into the trash bin but we don’t want to cause a fire so Bertha is locked for several days until the ashes have had sufficient time to cool. Our trash is put into the front bin of the trash bin so it can easily be thrown into Bertha when she is back in business. Elder Ward was the lucky winner to use the fire extinguisher as we all watched how it is to be done.

9th of May, Tuesday, I worked in the office again with Sister Scussel. I love working in the office with her. We have a good time even though there is a lot to do. It is fun to have two people do a job and get so much more accomplished! 
She is the one who schedules all the treks and how they are all going to work around each other if there is more than one at a time which is usually the case during the warmer months. 

Just as an example about the 2nd week in June we have about 13 to 16 treks going on during that week. I don’t remember the exact number. We try to keep no more than 200 people with one set of Trek Hosts (us missionaries). So if we have a group of 400 people they will be two groups of 200. Elder Sigmon and I have a trek on the 2nd of June and they are 250 people. She is splitting them into 2 groups of 125 each. We are doing these groups with the Wards. They will leave first and we will leave with our group a ½ hour later. They need to be done and off the trail by 5:30 p.m. It is all a coordination thing along with everything they want to do on their trek. She has all this knowledge of how long things take, where they can cut time, what they could maybe cut out to shorten if they are in a hurry, campgrounds, travel times, food information, medical information, etc. 

So I have been coming up with some questions and we have decided to try and put together a procedure manual on how to do her job with all of this information in this manual. So this way the person who is in charge of scheduling next year has something to work with all written down and not just in Sister Scussel’s head. Believe it or not the piece of paper under my hand is every single trek coming through for 2017 all on an Excel spreadsheet listed by weeks.

When we came home it was nice no jacket weather. The Schows were preparing to have their RV return after having some repairs. Elder Schow was actually sitting in a comfy camp chair while his wife was doing something as we walked into our house. I turn to Elder Sigmon and say “Look at Elder Schow enjoying the nice weather.” NOT even 5 minutes later I look out the window and see the wind is going like 100 mph (I’m sure it wasn’t that bad but it was strong) then I say “Poor Elder Schow so much for that--now he’s going to be blown away.” Then I see something and I’m trying to figure out what is making the rocks blow across our lawn. Then I realize it is hail the size of a grape. I yell to Karl “it is hailing!” He gets all excited and says “My truck! I wish I had a blanket!” as he runs outside. So being the good wife I am I grabbed the comforter off the guest bed throwing everything on it to the floor and run out the door. So there we are holding the blanket over the truck and I yell to him “I can’t get it up high enough to cover the windshield.” His response is “Don’t worry about the windshield—that’s the cheapest thing to replace!” I am under the blanket getting pelted by this hail!  It hurt! It is hitting me in the head so I held the blanket up a little higher to diminish the blows but it is pelting me on the side of my hip and that was no fun. I also figured out to keep my hand under the blanket too because it hurts when it hits your hand. Karl tells me “Run into the house!” I’m like “No I am not! I am staying under this blanket!” I could imagine the hail hitting me in the face and I was not about to tell you what that felt like. You can call me chicken, I don’t care! Karl comes over to my side as the hail subsides some and he says “I wish I had another blanket for the top of the truck.” So…..I run in and get the Sherpa which we manage to get caught in the doors before another wave comes on again. But this time we made it inside to safer conditions. When it was all said and done Karl was afraid to take off the blankets and look at the truck. But I am pleased to report that we were successful in saving the truck as far as we can tell. Of course Bill Carr hasn’t given it the once over yet but I think we are ok. He will be checking it out in another week or so and we are so excited!!! I have made a list of things for him to bring us. Yes that is hail on the blanket!
We were sopping wet. I tried to take a picture of the two of us but you couldn’t see how wet we were. The one by myself shows it better so you get that picture.
May 10th, Wednesday Elder Sigmon and I worked in the Visitor’s Center. It was a beautiful sunshiny day! We enjoy the Visitor’s Center and we were with the Waldmann’s. Sister Roundy comes over and tells me “Sister do you see my glasses. I have been wearing them all day and Sister Harris just told me ‘Sister Roundy do you know you are missing a lens?’ I thought something was a little different but I didn’t know what it was so I have gone like this until now.” I had noticed a lens sitting on the table in the Visitor’s Center. So I told her about it and she had said that’s what Sister Harris had told her. So that’s why she was there. I asked if I could take a picture for my post. She is a good sport and let me. We had a good laugh as she told Sister Waldmann the story again. I know she isn’t looking at me because she just saw Sister Waldman and wants to tell her. But she is smiling and I like her smile. The other picture she looks all serious.
I want you to notice the sunshine and beautiful weather. Yes yesterday it hailed!

May 11th, Thursday was another small community gathering. We had a hydrant by one of our wash houses (where the RV people can do their laundry). This is where you can wash your truck or car if you want. We have noticed that the ground has a constant little pond there and something must be broken and needs to be fixed. So it was decided a small work crew (2 guys) would come and dig it up to assess the situation and then try to make the necessary repairs. 

Well to make a longer story short we hear some chatter on the radio basically saying the dirt is wetter than they had thought and they had a collapse and Elder Hall was going to change his clothes and his wife can take him into Casper. Of course the facilities manager (Elder Crist) asked him if he had a cell phone and what the number was and then he talked to him not on the radio. All of us are of course are concerned Elder Hall must be hurt. Then we hear some more radio chatter trying to get Elder Thunell to go to the emergency channel. But that channel doesn’t work with the distance between Ranch 66 and the Homestead. So they are back on the channel we can all hear and Elder Thunell is going to take Elder Hall into Casper. 

We figured out things aren’t good. Including President because you hear him call Elder Crist and ask if someone is hurt? So he was left out of the loop of communication. Oops. Then you hear President calling Elder Scussel to his office (the Safety guy). We found out later that Elder Hall was in the hole they had dug with a backhoe and it collapsed on him. They had dug it wide enough and even had a board plank to walk in and out of it but they had no idea it was as saturated as it was and it collapsed. Luckily nothing was broken. He is sore and some muscles were bruised so he was on a cane for a few days and is limping along now without one. Slowly he is getting better but he needs to take it easy. You know how well men listen to that. 

In the process some pipes were broken and Ranch 66 was without water. We heard requests for all hoses, piping parts, people, etc to work on fixing and restoring water to our homes. The funny thing when we drove home is we see all these hoses strung to every house going across the street from another well so we have some water while they repair the pipes to well #1.  But of course everyone has to go over and look at it but this time they are looking down. “Hello Elder Roundy.”
I am happy to report they were able to get it repaired by the end of the day. It took quite a few men and a backhoe to get it all done but the hoses were all collected and returned to their proper owners. I think.

May 12th, Friday I did School Group (field trip) and we had a real live blacksmith on site. He comes every year for a week. He takes vacation and comes and mans the blacksmith shop. Isn’t that so cool. There was actually fire burning in the forge! I think Karl’s brother, Morris, should come and do that! It really brought it to life instead of one of the Elders talking about what they do. The kids could see him in action!

After school tours I was put on the painting the picnic tables and benches duty out at Ranch 66. Thank you to Joy Zuniga and her wonderful scrubs. They are so comfortable and had great pockets to hold things like phones, etc. I could get used to wearing those. Elder Thunell had to go back to the Homestead to get more paint because we ran out. We were standing out in the SUN getting hot so I suggested we go somewhere cooler and maybe even eat some ice cream in the shade. Everyone thought it was a great idea (Sister Taylor, Gillespie, Thunell and of course myself). So we walked to my house and had some English Toffee ice cream bars, ice water, listening to Enya while we waited and visited. I think it was a great break!

Here is the evidence I worked and wasn’t loafing. The nice thing was we were able to break a little sooner because we had dinner and a speaker at a Fireside at Sixth Crossing we needed to go to this evening. The speakers were President Lorimar and his wife. This is exciting because it is like going out to dinner. I didn’t have to cook and Brother Lorimar is the person who had a lot of the dealings in purchasing the land for Sixth Crossing, Rock Creek Hollow and Martin’s Cove.

It was very interesting. He has had many interactions with President Gordon B. Hinckley, James E. Faust, President Monson and many other people in trying to get things taken care of and done. 

The other crazy thing is the Sweetwater is rising and Sixth Crossing is feeling the effects of it. We were told to take trucks and not to take cars because you have cross the river where it has come over the road going into Sixth Crossing.
President wasn’t kidding!

May 13th, Saturday was our preparation day and Karl’s sister Marla was here from Nebraska to see her new granddaughter, Parker Radeen Simpson. We also got to see her along with Marc, Tony, BJ and his wife. It was really nice to visit with them. We had a great lunch and good company. I’m sorry to say I did not get a picture of the baby. I was busy holding her. I did take a picture of the cat who seriously made itself very comfortable on Karl’s stomach. At first she jumped up so he could pet her and then proceeded to walk on his stomach, rub her head on his stomach and then laid down. What is even funnier is Karl has gotten much better over the years but he is more of a dog fan than cats. But they literally all throw themselves at him. This one beats them all and I couldn’t help myself. I had to get a picture.

May 14th, Sunday was Mother’s Day. We got roses in church and some handcart earrings. It was a nice day!

May 15th, Monday we had RRA RRA duty (restroom assistant). The Sweetwater continues to rise and before we even left you can see how it is trying to come into the parking and refueling equipment area. 
And behind the mechanics shop where we keep all the riding and push mowers.
While cleaning one of the bathrooms I spotted a pelican. Yes you read that right! I am a California girl and am familiar with pelicans. I just had no idea there were any in Wyoming but apparently there are. I was quite surprised.
I also want you to notice the sunshine! We had to go out on the trails and clean those bathrooms. The Sweetwater has managed to start crossing the trails in 4 different spots. One of the worst ones was 8-10” high. It was crazy! 
The picture doesn’t do it justice the river just flows right over like that’s where it is supposed to go and has always gone. The “S” curves to river are disappearing and it seems like one big river as it crosses over the banks and makes itself into one big river. Here is a view from the other side. The river is too high for Trekkers to re-enact a river crossing but just to stay on trail they will do a river crossing lol.
May 16th, Tuesday we got to do mowing again. I seem to really enjoy that! There is a lot of grass here but I think I have it down now. The Sweetwater continues to rise. This is the baptismal font we have here. The water is up to the seating section. Those darn pesky birds and their droppings. You can see it all over the benches. It is something we constantly are having to clean up after.
A lot of the men were busy trying to build up with dirt and the backhoe to keep the Sweetwater where it belongs. Hauling in at least 12 dump trucks of dirt. I am not sure of the actual total but it was an exhausting day for them.

May 17th, Wednesday I worked in the office again and several people have been busy filling sand bags.

May 18, Thursday we woke up to 5-6” of snow. Yes you read that right. It has been snowing since about 2:30 a.m. Don’t ask how I know that. Very first thing we go to at 8:30 is Correlation meeting every day where we have a song, prayer, thought, reading from our book to help learn the history and stories, information we need to know from President and others and then or work assignments for the day. Well the song today which was chosen was “Today while the Sun Shines.” Yes we all laughed. And then when it was time for the work assignments Elder Hall said “I usually say take it with a grain of salt but today it might be with a flake o snow.” Everyone is a comedian. Karl and I were both assigned to School Groups. It has been snowing all day. It finally quit about 7 p.m. We ended up not having school groups because they cancelled. They neglected to let us know until we called to see where they were. 
We have a group from Canada coming in to trek this weekend. They are aware of the rising Sweetwater and the snow which was forecasted. I do have to give the weather men credit over here. They are the most accurate weather men I have ever seen anywhere I have lived. Although it is hard to believe with how much it swings from one end to the other but what they predict is what happens. Granted I am getting it from my phone not the TV but it is the same way I get it at home. Just at home they are not very good at their predictions in my opinion. 

The Canadians are planning on camping outside but as the day raged on it was determined to have a backup plan for them. At least a place where they could get warm. If they got wet out on the trail and then their tents are wet and their sleeping bags get wet and they get cold and can’t warm up it probably wouldn’t be good. So for now I think they are separating boys and girls. Some are in the Barn and others are in the Gathering Room. As far as I know they are still planning on trekking tomorrow. Can I say I am glad I am not the trek host on this one? They will be wading through water and 40 degree weather. They are going to have to have water shoes and then change back into warm socks and shoes. I believe the snow is supposed to clear up. But I am not totally sure. It is crazy! I know I have used that word a lot but I don’t know how else to describe it.

We were told to wear warm work clothes for tomorrow. All hands on deck for sandbagging and dyke building. Sounds so fun!

You are all caught up! Can you believe it! Wow! There was a lot to report. We hope you are all doing well. We love and miss you. Thank you for your little snippets of comments, texts, etc to let us know you are thinking of us. It means a lot to us.
Karl & Monica

PS Elder Sigmon has decided to wait on hooking up the air conditioner. Thank heavens! I tried to tell him lol

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Fun Continues!

May 7, 2017
It has been another busy week here. Worked on mowing lawns, replacing a tire on the big grader (someone cut the tire with the blade this winter when they angled it too much) looks like we need a better grader operator. Checked all the Rovers oil and changed some etc. We had another district meeting where Elder Scussel cooked and he redeemed himself. He cooked a brisket and it was so delicious we also had baked potatoes, asparagus, and salad. It was a wonderful meal and training.
On Friday we had trek leader training for people coming this summer on treks. As missionaries we demonstrated square dancing and sang a song. Yes you read that right Elder Sigmon can sing and dance…..sort of.  We had another great day in the Visitor’s Center. It is so faith promoting to share the pioneer’s story with people and feel the spirit it brings. And even more glorious when they feel the spirit and cry with you.  I know our Heavenly Father loves us and I feel his love every day.
Love you all,
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Well it has been a very busy week and then with things that happened over the weekend we were unable to get our post on the computer so it is late. That is what happens when you live in such a rural place as we do.
Monday I got introduced to the riding lawn mower. As Elder Sigmon said there were 5 of us in charge of mowing the lawns. The Waldmanns, us and Elder Hough. Let me tell you there is a lot of lawn here! There were other places where only the push mowers could be used. So Elder Hough and Elder Waldmann did those areas along with trimming the edges and blowing the grass off any sidewalks left behind. Poor guys. It was one of those better days weather wise and eventually I wasn’t even wearing a coat. I was in my element. As we were driving to the last 2 lawns needing to be mowed and finishing (about 3:30) the novelty was wearing off and I was thinking about how much fun this would be on a HOT summer day. NOT!

Elder Sigmon started Sister Waldmann and me out by driving down the middle of a big section making a dividing line. Then he showed us how to run the riding lawn mower. After I drove off Sister Waldmann left saying she was going to go and use the push mower. I think it intimidated her. Not me I’m riding! But after a bit she was back and I saw Karl helping her get started and going. I think her husband told her to come back and use the riding lawn mower.

There was one area where we had to mow the lawn right along the Sweet Water river. Just prior Sister Waldmann’s husband told her to make sure she didn’t land in the Sweet Water. Elder Sigmon was pretty nervous about her landing in the river and was figuring out what he would take off if he had to jump in and save her. He told me he was going to take off his coat and shoes before diving in. The river was moving pretty swiftly so he was sure they would go down stream some before they would get out. Then he just decided to have her get off and let him do along that edge on her half.  I told him it was probably good he did it if both him and Elder Waldmann were nervous about her landing in the river.
Later on when we were close to finishing Elder Crist, the Facility Manager, came by and found Karl saying Sister Waldmann wanted to talk to him and if he knew what that was about which Karl didn’t know. We came to find out she wanted to confess that she was getting too close to a building and decided to try and back up but when she put it in reverse she only tapped on the gas a little but it went really fast and hit a fence post and knocked it off with the lawn mower. She then went on to say she hit the nail back in as best as she could but someone might need to use a hammer to fix it the rest of the way and here are the two pieces she wanted to give him that broke off the lawn mower.
This is what the lawn mower looked like after its little accident.  Elder Sigmon bent some of the front frame back into place before I got the picture taken.

A few days later in correlation Elder Crist was assigning the Waldmanns to take a rover and go do something. He did ask that Elder Waldmann drive. Something about a rover trying to tip. Then Sister Waldmann pipes up and says the women had no problem with her driving it was the men they wanted her to straighten out the wheels but she wanted to know how you do that on a right hand turn.  We all laughed and then Elder Crist presented her the two piece of the lawn mower she gave him saying she was welcome to make earrings out of them. I love Sister Waldmann! Sister Waldmann was a good sport to let me take a picture of her with her pieces of lawn mower.

There were times while mowing that Elder Sigmon and I were working on a section of lawn and there were a bunch of picnic tables in this section. I would go around them while he was going around the bigger section. It almost felt like we were dancing on these riding lawn mowers and not communicating just turning and swerving around each other. We had full confidence the other knew where to go and we could just maneuver around each other. Kind of like we were dancing. It was really kind of cool. Later when I was telling Karl he said he had the same thought. So I guess we don’t only like to dance in the garage, front room, etc but while mowing the lawn too.

Tuesday I shadowed Sister Waldmann on a school group tour to learn how to do the field trips to Martin’s Cove. We have 8 stations we go to and spend 10 minutes at each one. It is not very much time at these sections. They are #1 - The Sun Room which tells about the Sun family and their ranch. #2 – Prairie Park which is where you can take a handcart around. This is good because it gets their energy out after being on the bus. #3 – Fort Seminoe/The Dig Museum which was a trading post used for refuge by some of the Martin Handcart Company. #4 – Monuments which is right on trail where the 4 trails came through; Oregon, California, Mormon and Pony Express. #5 – Blacksmith Shop where you hear the Prairie Diamond story and get a prairie diamond ring. #6 – Sewing Center where you learn about the usefulness of the clothes and what they wore and sewed and get a wood Medallion to take home as a souvenir. #7 – The Museum where the people of Sweet Water and Sun Family have left the things they have collected from this area over the years for us to take care of and preserve. #8 – Wash House and Bunk House where the cowboys might have lived and how they lived and how the pioneers, etc might have washed their clothes and how precious water was. It was fun. We wear Pioneer Dress for these school tours.  Here I am in my outfit. It was a chilly morning so I wore my thermal top underneath and a scarf to stay warm. I do have a bonnet but it is tied around my neck and not on my head.
I have also been busy making what is called “possible bags.” It started with me wanting Sister Gillespie to help me make one. It turned out I got the dimensions from her and I ended up making a bunch and even her one. She had made one and I thought it would be easier to carry while trekking than a backpack for my water, radio and other items I would need to keep with me. This way I wouldn’t have to go find the handcart with my things to get a drink, etc. Especially as a Trek Host because I would be at the back of the pack (the sweeper) making sure we didn’t leave anyone behind and the group doesn’t get too far spread out. It has been awhile since I have sewed and so it helped to see hers to get the dimensions I wanted but I wanted some pockets in front and a bigger part in back to hold things like a rain poncho, snacks, bandaids, etc. Then there were some other Sisters looking at what I was doing and they asked if they could have one too. Before I knew it I was making 4 of them. It has mushroomed since then and I am up to 16. One of the husbands asked for one and has bragged to every other man or person he saw and said he couldn’t believe they wouldn’t want one it was the best thing ever. I ran out of material and so I had to find another fabric for the women. Luckily there has been enough of the tan for the men who have wanted them. I am not sure I am totally done but I think I am. The one in the center is mine with a white ribbon tied on it so it doesn’t get confused with any one elses. The sewing room has a bunch of fabric in it to make some humanitarian burp rags, and baby quilts, etc. We are able to use any of the fabric there for things on our mission. This is where I found our possibles bag fabric to use. 

The tan ones were for the men and the other two I made for the women. I started out with the dark blue but when I ran out of that fabric I made the rest out the striped fabric.

 On Friday as Karl said we had Leadership Training for those who would be going on treks with their groups later on. This was a day we were scheduled to do Visitor’s Center from 1-7 p.m. But we had to come in to do our square dance demonstation and sing a song for them called “Hallowed Ground.” It is a beautiful song but words will make you cry. I can’t think about what I am singing or I won’t get through the song. Normally on these days when we have afternoon Visitor’s Center we can stay home and just come in for our shift. But it worked out well since on May 1st the Utah area was able to register for treks and 40 new registrations came in for 2018. I went by the office and picked up all of 2018 file folders to take home. It was nice to sit on the couch with my feet up listening to music and make sure all these files were in the computer and organized. It took the whole morning to do but it was a big chunk of work done.
The funny thing that happened while we were home I hear on the radio “There’s a bus pulling in. Did we have a field trip scheduled for today?” Then you hear “Elder Ward can you go over to the Fort?” Elder Ward answers with “yes, do I have 5 minutes or do I need to run over now?” The response “Can you run over now?’ All I can do is laugh and say “every day is an adventure!” I guess this school group called and talked to Sister Turpin about 2-3 months ago and asked if they could come out and have a field trip here. She told them they could and what they would do but to let her know if that is what they decided to do. Well they never got back to her. They just showed up. So everyone was scrambling to get the 8 different stations covered. Let’s just say the women were not in pioneer dress they were in trail dress. It always seem to work out. It reminds me of working at the temple. No one realizes the scrambling that sometimes goes on behind the scene to make everything come together and be a great experience. Because everyone looks so calm and collected.

Okay now for the survey!  I had my shoes in various places from changing from one thing to another and Elder Sigmon says to me. “You have more shoes than any woman I know.” In my defense, mind you, I have to have shoes for church,  trail dress, working, painting, winter boots, cold day slippers, etc. This is basically every shoe I own. Now tell me, do I really have more shoes than other woman? I did leave a 2 pairs of shoes with more of a heel on them at home but this is it! Be sure to comment to my survey!  This is the most shoes I have ever owned but surely others have more than this.

Sorry for the delay in getting this email out I will tell you about the power outage we had the end of this week preventing us to post. 
We love you! 
Karl and Monica

Friday, April 28, 2017

It is Still Winter in Wyoming!!!

The short version:
Well another great week here at Martin’s Cove.  Monday we did RRA/RRA training (Rest Room Assist.).  There are 7 restrooms here at the homestead and 3 restroom complexes on the trails. We load up a dedicated rover and clean them all. We also have a truck with a water tank and pressure washer on it that we drive out to the bridges and statues and wash the bird droppings off them. Not the most glamorous job but someone has to do it. We are all blessed no matter where we serve.

On Tuesday Sister Sigmon and I were the Trek Hosts for a group of missionaries from 6th crossing.  The Trek Host is the couple that leads the group, with the Elder out front and the Sister sweeping up the back. We have radios to keep in contact with each other and base camp. The weather was overcast with a temp of around 42 degrees. After an hour on the trail it began to snow with a cold wind blowing right at us. The snow would stick to your clothes then freeze. We were halfway done at noon and stopped to eat. We were freezing and the temp dropped 10 degrees. President Pace was with us and the decision was made to abandon our handcarts and call for a rescue. Rovers were sent in to take us back to the trek center. They had hot chocolate waiting for us and we finished there. Even though we were cold and freezing it was one of the most spiritual and awesome experiences I have had. To experience even a little taste of what the pioneers went through was so faith promoting. My testimony of this gospel and love for the hand cart pioneers grows every day. I have been blessed with so much.
Wednesday was spent working on work crew, getting lawn mowers ready etc. (it will warm up sometime). There was a couple who had served here the last two seasons visiting that day.  They were the Johnsons.  I was working in the mechanic shop when Elder Crist came in with Brother Johnson. He introduced us and said this is Elder Sigmon. The brother then said oh yes Marcus Sigmon’s boy, I was so excited that this man knew my father. He was from Sanford Colorado, just 7 miles from my home town. I think of my dad often and miss him so much. I know he is working on the other side of the veil and because of God’s love for us we will be together again. It was a neat tender mercy of the Lord that I met Brother Johnson that day.

Thursday we worked in the Visitors center. It got a little busy, Sister Sigmon and I both had visitors at the same time. We continue to study and love all that come thru. There are so many wonderful people who come thru, members and non-members alike. We are all God’s children and it is great to be able to teach and visit with them.

Friday we were snowed in with 4 inches of snow and the roads closed between here Casper and Rawlins.  Hopefully it will clear up for the weekend.
I love you all!!!!
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:

Well let me just start out by saying this has to be the CRAZIEST WEEK we have had yet and I am not going to guarantee it will be the last BUT who knows! Oh my gosh!!! If someone had said this is what you will be doing and this is how it is going to be I would have said “Uh are you sure you have the right person because I don’t think so. I will just pass. Not this girl. Doesn’t sound like fun to me at all!” I also have to say Elder Sigmon has stolen part of my thunder since you know the outcome of it all but I’ll give you more details and of course….pictures!

RRA RRA Duty: Here we are with our designated RRA RRA Duty Rover with supplies (toilet paper, cleaning stuff, gloves, mice bait, buckets, etc.) It actually wasn’t very cold. I can tell by how I am dressed. I only have on a sweater top, my work blues shirt and one coat. The sun is out and that helps immensely. We had another couple train us, The Halls, since we have never done RRA RRA Duty yet. (Yes we did get some training on this lol). I also have to say these are the cleanest bathrooms you will ever find. They are cleaned 3-4 times a week and we don’t even have trekkers out there using them that much. I have a picture of one of the trail bathrooms for you to see how clean they really are. We even have a step stool which we clean off for those shorter people.

Now a little aside. I have been told always to keep the doors closed everywhere including bathroom doors because for one thing the wind can come along and rip it off. We actually found a bathroom door ripped off the hinges on the ground when we were with our District Leaders on a rover ride to show us the trail because whoever did RRA RRA duty didn’t make sure it was shut tight. Hence we hauled it home on the rover with us so it could be repaired.

The other thing is to open the door slowly, look inside for any creatures (snakes, etc) before entering. If we do see a let’s say a “creature” we are to not scream and draw a lot of attention, but calmly call base to have someone help take care of the situation. Of course right now it is a little too cold for some of those “creatures.” Hopefully Karl won’t have to wrangle any of them as he isn’t very fond of them.

Isn’t that beautiful?
I didn’t have to learn how to pressure wash the monuments. I mean how hard can it be you just pull the trigger and point right? I left Karl to get the training and went into the office to help Sister Scussel. We have about 200 Trek Leaders coming in Friday and Saturday to be trained. What that means is if a ward or stake brings youth and adults to experience a trek they have to have a designated Trek Leader who is trained in what can and can’t be done. The best way to prepare everyone so they can have an enjoyable experience. What they will need and how to accomplish that, etc. As a result of that there is a lot of paperwork with stories which can be told along the trail, what type of dress they should have, medical information, how to operate the speakers at different locations, trail maps, square dance music along with words so someone can call the square dance, how to get to the locations, etc. Each trek leader gets a packet of all this wonderful information which I helped print, copy and compile. Then they each got a copy of their trek schedule while they are here or itinerary.

Sister Scussel is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She is the scheduler and coordinates all the groups coming in and where they will stay and how to move everyone along the trails without running into each other. One group has 800 people coming with them. She will break them down into groups of 200. That is a lot of people! There is a lot she has in her head. She is one of those couples that stayed during the winter and is here again this summer. We refer to those people as 2nd years. But some of them didn’t stay the winter and just came back again this summer. All the 2nd year people are awesome! They are so dedicated and just so kind and good at what they do. I am not sure who are going to be the ones to fill their shoes for next year. You have the person over Facility Management who basically figures out what everyone needs to work on and how to do it from landscaping, to repairing the road and everything in between.  Then Sister Scussel the trek scheduler and her husband is over safety; the Maxfields who work in the office, coordinates any songs we need to sing, melodramas or stories we need to do on the trail, along with square dancing, and IT for the computers; the Hunters who are in charge of outfitting-getting the carts, and flag for each company going out on a trek and lining them out; The Roundy’s Mechanic and she is over the Visitor’s Center; the Turpins who are the missonary schedular; and the Schows (pronounced s-cows) who are the campground supervisors. 

This is a picture of Sister Scussel. We are in the barn which was the actual barn of the Sun Family. We use it for eating our lunch and potlucks on Sunday. It now has a cement floor and tables and chairs instead of livestock.

Now for Tuesday and the Trek we were in charge of leading. We knew for a week that the weather was not going to be very people friendly. It had been saying rain for several days and then changed to snow. I actually was kind of happy it changed to snow from rain. I think it is easier to stay dryer in the snow than the rain. I had also been to Sportsman’s Warehouse looking at some of their clothing to see if there was something that might be helpful in keeping me warm in not wonderful weather. I was so excited to find this wonderful top with long sleeves which came up to the bottom of my fingers and thumbholes to keep them secure and in place. It also had a cowl neck which would come up the back of my head covering my ears, nose and mouth if needed. It was on clearance. I have included a picture of my clothing I ended up layering up in. I had a thermal top, the top I bought, a shell down jacket with no sleeves, my other down jacket with sleeves, and then my clearance Carhart jacket (which was waterproof). I also had fleece lined tights, long denim skirt, tennis shoes, beanie and gloves. I figured I could always take things off if I got warm but I couldn’t add things if I didn’t have them. I packed a lightweight rain poncho and some garbage bags in case I wanted to sit down and a bench was wet.

Here we are with our Trek Leaders the Gillespies. Usually the Trek Leader will be someone from the group of Trekkers who has been trained and coming with the group. But since we were with Sixth Crossing missionaries the Gillepies played the role of Trek Leaders. Here we are all bundled up ready to start the adventure! Oh and because you can’t see in this picture because my lovely ears are all bundled up I have a radio in my Carhart pocket and an earpiece on so I can hear Red Flag 1 (Karl) or base talk to me. I can also talk to them if I need to let them know something too.
Doesn’t Sister Gillespie have the best smile ever? She is a little cheerleader in my mind. There isn’t anything she isn’t ready and excited to do. I think you could take her to the dump and she would be so excited to go. I’m not kidding for reals! (Note the cute flower on her hat. She got it at Hobby Lobby and was so excited. She lost it later on the trail. We are hoping it will show up but I think with this wind here it is probably miles away.)

When we started out it wasn’t raining, snowing or anything except a little windy and was 40 degrees and went up to 42 degrees. About a couple miles down the trail where we stopped to hear the pie story it had started to do some raining. This is Sister Waldmann and Sister Taylor.
It is Louisa Mellor’s story when her mother finally gave up and couldn’t go any farther. She persuaded her family to let her stop and rest beside the trail. The company wouldn’t wait for her. So her husband, James, said goodbye, promising to return after getting the children settled in camp. Her daughter Louisa stayed and she had faith the Lord would help her know what to do. So Louisa went off a few yards away from where her mother was, knelt and prayed with faith that God would help them, that He would protect them from the wolves, and that He would let them reach camp. After her prayer she started back to where her mother was sitting. She found a pie in the road. She picked up and brought it to her mother to eat. After resting awhile they stated on their journey, thanking God for His blessings. A few miles before they reached camp they met her father coming out to meet them. They arrived in camp at 10:00 p.m. Many times…her mother felt like giving up and quitting; but then she would remember how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and she offered a prayer of gratitude instead.

They did a women’s pull and as you can see it is starting to snow and get very windy. We later found out later it was at this point the weather dropped to 33 degrees. Then if you add the wind chill it was less than that.
By the time we got to the rescue statues it was really coming down.
Shortly after this picture we ate lunch and you know how it went from there.
Here are our abandoned handcarts. Each company will have a colored flag on the lead handcart so you know which your company is. We were red flag today.

We had the whole experience. I am so glad I was able to experience that like we did. Like Karl said it was truly humbling but at the same time such a wonderful experience. It really did give you a true feeling of what it must have been like for those people out there in similar but much worse conditions than we were. I had three coats on, gloves (which were soaked through), shoes, etc. I also could see why they told them they had to keep moving. Sitting down to eat lunch was bad for us. Can you imagine--they slept out in -11 degree weather sometimes with no shelter over them because the ground was too frozen to get a peg in or they were too worn out and exhausted to set up the tent. How did they survive? How did they not all freeze to death? These are some of the things I keep thinking and feeling. There is a story of the mother who was by herself with her three children and she set one child on her lap and one on each side of her and wrapped them up in a blanket. That is how they spent the night. I know the Lord was there to help these people. There is no way they should have survived. I hope in some small way you can have a sense of what I experienced and am trying to convey. Being here, feeling this weather, seeing the openness and nothing for miles for protection has given me such a different understanding of the stories I have heard.
This is a picture in the Trek Center depicting what I was describing above.

Below is a picture of our Rover Drivers and hot chocolate people.
L-R: Elder Waldmann, Taylor, Sister Taylor and Elder Ward.
Today Friday we woke up to terrible weather. It had started yesterday. There was 4” of snow on the ground, snowing still and blowing. The roads were closed from Lander and Riverton and a weather advisory out. We were told to stay in Missionary Village until further notice. Supposedly the roads were maybe opening about 9 a.m. This is the day of Trek Leader training. Well some people were at the homestead and 1 was here in Missionary Village. Others were stuck in Lander or Riverton and couldn’t make it in at this point. It turned out we were told to stay home the whole day due to the weather and they ended up training only 20 of the 200 they were expecting. Training ended today and will not be happening tomorrow so people could get home to their families. I have never seen such crazy weather.  At Sixth Crossing they got 1 ½’ of snow and 4’ snow drifts.

Because we were stuck in Missionary Village some suggested we get together at 3 p.m. and bring a snack and some games or movies. We all met at the Pavillion here at Missionary Village. We ended up watching The Cokeville Miracle and playing some games. We got home about 6 p.m.

About 7:30 p.m. Sister Pace, the President’s wife, wanted us to know a family had lost their black border collie when it took off to chase some antelope or deer. They had been looking for it for 2 hours and her name is Shelby and she is friendly. She wanted us to keep an eye out for it and the family left a number if we found her. I couldn’t stand thinking about this little dog being lost out in this snow so I asked Karl to take me for a drive so we could look for her. I guess I am really missing Jedi because as we were driving around I just started crying thinking about this poor little BLACK dog who may be lost and might freeze to death and how the family will miss her. I could also see why we stayed home. Unfortunately we didn’t find Shelby but I am thankful for a sweet husband who will drive his crazy wife to look for a lost dog in blowing snow and low visibility. He is a good man. At least I felt like I did something.
Until next time we hope you are all well!
Karl and Monica

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Mechanic Twins Shouldn't Work Together!

Short Version:
This week has been good. We did some training with our District Leaders Elder and Sister Scussel. They barbequed some hamburgers for us and Elder Scussel cooked the food. This was the rarest hamburger I have ever eaten in my life. It was just brown on the outside and completely red in the middle. He said yeah they looked red but he used a meat thermometer and they were good to go. Needles to say I had stomach trouble for the next 2 days.  I love them a lot, just not his cooking.

We worked in the visitor’s center on Tuesday and Monica was able to share a BOM with a nonmember couple. They were very nice and we had a great visit with them.  I also gave the training thought in our morning correlation meeting.  The rest of the week I was on work crew. I fixed a shallow well pump, put in a new pressure tanks at another well, did some sheetrock repair, some minor carpenter fixes and set up the pressure washer so we can wash all the mission vehicles.  I also fixed a water heater in one of the other trailers.  It is located in the bedroom in a closet. When I was buttoning it all up the other Elder I was with (Elder Roundy) said he had the impression we should short sheet their bed. I said I had the same impression so we short sheeted Elder and Sister Hough’s bed. The next morning I asked elder Hough how his water heater was and he said it worked good. I then asked him how he slept and he said good. I later found out Elder Hough is very particular about his sheets and he blamed his wife for not having the sheets right.  He went to bed before she did. So she had no idea what happened. It was kind of let down.

The rest of the story: A couple days later on our preparation day we were to lunch with the Houghs and we got a little more of the story.  I guess Elder Hough doesn’t like it when the mattress pad comes up at the bottom. So Sister Hough had bought these clips to hold it down and couldn’t find them so she had safety pinned it down. So when Elder Hough went to bed and was complaining she couldn’t figure out what he was doing to mess up the bed.  So she goes in to help him. She said I didn’t know what short sheet is. I was thinking someone took a sheet but we still had two of them. I had a foot and half of the bottom sheet tucked under the mattress. I couldn’t figure out how Elder Hough managed to get that sheet all folded up short like that.” So he is blaming her and she is blaming him. It was funny!

At night we continue to study and learn all we can. I am so thankful for my loving wife and all she does for me. I hope all is well with everyone.  I love you all!!!
Elder Sigmon

Read on for longer version:
I am going to try and give you a little lay of the land and where we live and where we go to work every day. We live at “The 66 Ranch, Missionary Village.”  It is located about 10 miles west of the Homestead. The Homestead is where the Visitor’s Center and Martin’s Cove is. The Homestead belonged to the Sun family and they originally owned over a million acres. The ranch was established in 1872 and when Tom Sun figured out the stories of the people who traveled this trail and the lives lost he decided to never have a plow touch the soil because of the sacredness of it. He tried to preserve the specialness of this place. So the Sun family raised cattle. At the Homestead 4 trails all converge here--the Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail and the Pony Express Tail.

The church was able to buy 12,500 acres from the Sun Family in 1996. The church still runs about 3,000 head of cattle on the Homestead. They have a cowboy and an assistant who take care of the cattle end of things. The church has a god relationship with the Sun Family. Tom Sun was actually quite the frontiersman, trapper and often hired out as a hunting guide. He was good friends with Buffalo Bill Cody. How cool is that! Tom Sun actually taught Buffalo Bill the ropes.

Below is the entrance to the Homestead—Martin’s Cove

The path to the Visitor’s Center. (This was taken when we came to check it out last September)

There are some cool land marks I love to see when I come in each day. This is Devil’s Gate.

The to the left the mountain with the “v” is Split Rock. The rock you see on the right if you go on around behind it that is where you will find Martin’s Cove. It is 20 miles from Martin’s Cove to Split Rock. But you can see why Devil’s Gate and Split Rock are definite land marks to know where you are going.

Now on to the daily things we did this week.

Tuesday Elder Sigmon and I worked in the Visitor’s Center from 8-2. We worked with another couple Elder and Sister Turpin. 
Sister Turpin and I talked to one couple traveling to Seattle. They were so pleasant and I really enjoyed their visit. They were not members but they love history. 
We were supposed to have square dancing training at 1 and they wanted everyone to learn and practice because we are going to have to do a demonstration next week. Sister Turpin was here last summer and so she said Karl and I should go ahead and go and they would hold down the fort in the Visitor’s Center.
Before 1 p.m.Karl and I had another couple we took through together. They said they have passed by many times before on their way to California and have always said they would stop one of these times. Today was that day! They were very nice. Part way through the visit Sister Turpin wanted to know if she should take over so we could go to our square dancing practice. Both Elder Sigmon and I looked at each other and decided that we didn’t want to leave this couple and were going to stay. It is amazing how quickly you can build up a rapport with some people. After Sister Turpin left Karl joked with the husband and told him “Thanks you got me out of square dancing practice.” They both had a good laugh. We continued showing them around and toward the end we asked if they wanted to watch a movie. They were so cute they said “yes we want the whole experience.” There is a list of names of those who were in the Martin and Willie Handcart Company and the Hunt and Hodgetts Wagon Freight Companies in white and those who died in gold. On top of them is a few wood handcarts. The husband saw those and wanted to know where the gift shop was to go to after the movie. He wanted a handcart. We explained to him there wasn’t a gift shop. We weren’t in the business of making money. He was so sad. He says “I really wanted one of those to remember this place.” We have a card with a couple pictures and a quote of one of the survivors on it so I handed him that which he appreciated. Then he went in with another couple to watch the movie. While they were in there Karl and I talked to each other. There is a gentleman who makes different sizes handcarts and we as missionaries could order them from him. I knew there were some small ones in the office. Plus we had a few ourselves and so we decided that we would either pay for one of the ones in the office if they were extras or give one of ours back if there weren’t extras. So I ran to the office while they were in the movie and grabbed a little one. When they came out of the movie I handed them the handcart and a Book of Mormon and said “We have a few gifts for you.” When he saw them he actually got a little teary eyed and was very touched we had gotten them for him.” It was a nice experience.

On another note I have been put in charge of the wood medallion they give to the kids who come through the Visitor’s Center on a field trip or with a family. The funny thing is I don’t know a lot about them except you crochet a chain the length of your arm and they attach a wood medallion to it. But I have learned it has to be sanded, stamped and attached to the crocheted lanyard. We have figured out we will need about 5,000 of them for this year. My goal is to have our 5,000 done shortly so we are not having it hang over our heads for a long period of time. We’ll see how long it really takes.

Now Karl has been having his own little adventures while on work crew. He and Elder Roundy (nick named the Mechanic Twins) worked on a Pressure Tank for the well in the Wash House (laundry room for the RV people). There are two in there and they needed to take out an old one because the bladder inside had broken. Then move the 2nd one in there over to 1st place position and put the new one in the 2nd place position. The logic being the oldest one is the next one to go out and will be easier to get to when it does. They got it all done and had glued all the new fittings so they had to let the glue dry. This was when they short sheeted the Hough’s bed. After that escapade they returned to the wash house and Elder Roundy told Karl to turn the well on and let the pressure build. So he did and they are waiting. The next thing they know one of the fittings comes loose (glue wasn’t dry). I would blame it on the cold! Lol It is 1 ¼” pipe. They literally took a bath with all the water shooting out. I guess Karl was turning off the pump and luckily Elder Roundy was turning off the 220 electricity. When they opened the wash house door the water poured out. When I saw Elder Sigmon at lunch he was wet from his chest down to his ankles. I asked him why he didn’t change since they were working at the Ranch and he could have. He told me he didn’t want to make Elder Roundy feel bad because he couldn’t change because his house was at the homestead. After lunch at the Homestead Elder Sigmon found another use for a heat gun in the mechanics shop—it can dry clothes.

On our last preparation day we stopped at Papa Murphy’s again to get a pizza to take home for dinner. But as I was looking into their refrigerator I could see a pizza with what looked like marshmallows but I kept looking at the menu board and I couldn’t figure out what it was. The girl behind the counter must have noticed my confusion and she said those are our dessert pizzas. They aren’t on the menu. So she tells me there are S’mores, Cinnamon Wheel and something like Chocolate chip cookie crumble. They are $5. Then she asks me if I would like to try a sample that way I would know for the next time what they tasted like. Well who am I to turn down a sample. So I said “sure which one the S’mores or Cinnamon Wheel?” That’s when she says “either one.” So I decided on the Cinnamon Wheel. The next thing I know she gets a whole dessert pizza out of the fridge. I was expecting a small sample from one already cooked not a whole pizza so I’m still looking around for the small sample which I still don’t see. So I asked “this whole pizza?” The lady was like “yes.” Then Karl walks over having no idea what just happened and asks me if he needs to take me out of the store (meaning I keep buying things). lol  It was crazy but I was so excited. I had hit the jackpot but then I’m thinking I don’t need this whole thing who can we invite to help eat it. That worked out great because the next day we find out we are having a district meeting for some training and they are going to prepare the hamburgers and if us and the Wards could bring dessert and a salad. So I told the Wards I would do the dessert. It was a hit!

The other cool thing that happened is at 6th Crossing they lease out the land there to a Rancher by the name of Tom Abernathy to run his cattle on that land over there. I guess every year at his expense he butchers a cow and has it processed. Then he gives it to the missionaries at 6th Crossing and Martin’s Cove. All of us couples ended up with about 12 pounds of hamburger and either a roast or a round steak. This is our bag of goodies! He isn’t a member of the church but I thought it was so kind of him to do that every year. It was a very nice surprise! We had hamburgers for dinner tonight and it definitely was home grown meat! YUM!

This is the turn off to our home and here is a picture of our little humble abode. They made everyone a sign to put in front of their permanent trailer or RV. It was nice because then you could figure out where everyone lived if you needed to go talk to them.

Hope everyone is doing well and we love ya!
Karl & Monica