Sunday, July 27, 2008


Tonight we had a Branch Pioneer Day Celebration at the park. We had crazy pioneer games and activities (panning for gold, stick pull, tug-0-war, log sawing, nail pounding, pioneer relay race, wagon rides, great food, and lots more). It was fun and busy and reminded us of home and the big deal that pioneer day is at home in Utah. A special remembering day of the pioneers who sacrificed so much to come to a new land, where they would be free to worship as they pleased. It's always fun to share this day with our children and grandchildren, and often extended Brunner family too.

We came home and Ron headed off to bed, but I had other plans. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day Commeration Concert was being broadcast live on BYU TV, and I knew our computer would bring that great event into our home! So, for the last 2+ hours I've been enjoying the concert, complete with guest artists, the Osmond family. It's been such a spiritual high, and also so much fun, crying one minute and laughing the next. I've loved it so much, I'm watching it for the second time as I write this post. The Osmonds are amazing. How could so much talent and goodness come all in one family? And, I have a serious love affair going on with the choir. They are fabulous, and I miss seeing or hearing The Spoken Word each Sunday, and getting into at least one or two concerts a year. But tonight, I'm in reminiscent heaven! Such a little thing, but such joy it has brought. Life is good!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Michigan Summer

We are amazed at the huge Michigan yards. Everyone has a riding lawnmower. We are more grateful than ever for Donovan and Katherine, who are watching over and taking care of our yard and home so we can focus on other things during this season of our lives. It will be hard going back to all that yard work in 2009!

Corn, corn everywhere!

We're driving along a country road and much to our surprise, realize there are airplanes out in that field! Upon further inspection, we discover this is a rural St Johns, MI airport (of sorts). Those ingenious farmers are always looking for another means of revenue!

We love the unexpected wildlife surprises in Michigan. One morning as we were leaving for the Mission Office, these geese sauntered across the parking lot and onto the grass beside one of the apartment buildings. We grabbed the camera and watched and clicked away as they made their way to their destination of choice - the pond outside our back patio. There are geese, ducks, frogs, muskrats, heron, squirrels, birds, and lightning bugs that frequent this pretty setting. We love it!
(click on the photo to see the little ones they were leading to the pond)

Wildflowers grow everywhere.
This is a pretty meadow view near our apartment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Neat Stuff in the Land of the Amish

A week or so before President and Sister Edwards left, we took a journey back in time as we visited Shipshewana, Indiana. This is a small Amish community, on the very outskirts of our mission. We saw reminders frequently of the lifestyle that our fathers fathers lived. The horse and buggy era where life was simpler, but more challenging as well. We enjoyed a wonderful meal at The Blue Gate Restaurant, where our "Amish" dinner was served. We enjoyed the Amish farms and travel conveyances, the slower lifestyle and a great change of pace from the busy Mission Office. A fun afternoon with our missionary friends!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bullfrogs and Fireflies

There are many differences between our Utah home and of those being our fun summer visitors of bullfrogs, green frogs and fireflies. The pond directly outside our apartment is prolific with both. We go to sleep each night with the sound of frogs filling the night air, and have been enjoying the last few weeks the appearance of hundreds of fireflies in the night sky. They skim over the surface of the pond, and along the banks, as well as the surrounding fields and yards in the communities. It's part of the fun of our Michigan adventure!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Goodbye President and Sister Edwards

Our wonderful Mission President and his wife completed their mission this week and departed for their home in Heber City, Utah. Their examples of Christlike service, faith, patience, kindness, and a hundred other traits will be sorely missed. They've become special friends and we look forward to future days when we will see them again.

Each Zone Conference had a special farewell from that group of missionaries. Here they are with one of their goodbye cakes.

These are missionaries from several areas, meeting in Lansing for Zone Conference. They had special gifts, songs and shared lots of goodbye love.

And our last senior missionary dinner together at the Mission Home. Elder and Sister Porcaro are Church Education System missionaries serving at Michigan State University, President and Sister Edwards, and Sister Fredline serves in the Mission Office with us. It's hard to say goodbye, but how grateful we are for opportunities to know and love some of the very best people on the earth.

A Child's Prayer

Night time, quiet time,
Loved ones gather at day's end.
I hold them close, I help them know
That God will always be their friend.
Then just before I say goodnight
My little ones kneel by my chair.
I close my eyes, I dim the lights,
And listen to this simple prayer:

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer every child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.

Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
"Suffer the children to come to me."
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to Thee.

Pray, He is there. Speak, He is list'ning.
You are His child, His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer, He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the Kingdom of heav'n.

Heavenly Father, are you really there?
He hears and answers every child's prayer.
Please hear my prayer.

Our family has asked that question a few times in the last month...Heavenly Father, are you really there?

It has been a month of sorrow, heartache and challenge. Heidi's sweet friend and love, then her little companion pup were taken from her. And to us it all seemed unfair and wrong. Too much of pain and too many tears following so closely after previous bitter challenges. And as parents a long ways away, unable to do anything tangible to help, our thoughts and pleas often went heavenward. And therein has come our peace. For though we anguish with our daughter and her siblings, and the family of Shaun, we know from whence cometh our strength. "He hears and answers every child's prayer." And what seems wrong and unfair is not for us to determine. What we know is that He loves us, and we have confidence that all things will work together for Heidi's good. We have faith that there will yet be peace and great joy in store for our daughter, and our family. We were reminded of that in the words of this simple children's song, and in this promise, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers." (Doctrine & Covenants 112:20).

We're grateful for the blessings we, and our family, continue to receive and acknowledge the Lord's tender mercies at work in our lives. And we have felt first hand the promise given in Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."