We got up early and drove to New York City on Friday. We took the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty. Even though I have now seen her 3 times, she's still amazing to see!
This is Mom, Tyler, me & Joel on the platform at the base of her feet. It was pretty windy, as you can see from my hair (we thought I should do a commercial or something … )
We saw Ground Zero, which is an amazing place. Yep, it's a big hole in the ground but it has a feeling there of reverence. We went through the memorial museum that's next to where the buildings stood, and of course, we cried the whole way though. There's also a firestation next to the museum, and Dad (being his usual self) was chumming it up with guys working there. Consequently, they invited him into the station and he took this picture - a memorial at the back of the station house. Something not many people to get to see! (except Dad, who will talk to anyone!)
This is a picture of St. Paul's Church. It was established in 1766. Many of the survivors of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were brought to this very church, since it's next to where the towers stood.
On Saturday we went into Philadelphia and saw as much history as we could pack into an afternoon.
Us at the Liberty Bell; a cemetery connected to Christ's Church. It was the same one that Nicolas Cage ran through in "National Treasure." They call this row of graves "the alley" and each individual grave is dug down 40 feet; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Revolutionary War and a tribute to him and George Washington; and us kneeling in front of Ben Franklin's grave.
We stopped for dinner on some corner store and there we all ate our Philly steak sandwiches. They were tasty!
After dinner we drove around and looked at some the apartments Kendall has lived in. We didn’t see all of the addresses, because some were either too far away or they were in “the hood.” We did drive through some parts of downtown Philly where I would not want to go alone. I think we all came away with a better appreciation for all that we have been blessed with!
On Sunday we went to the church building where Kendall was serving. I think he was a little freaked out when he saw us for the first time - after all, it's been 2 years! He commented on how tall Joel was … which is fair, since Joel was 13 when he left and is now 15. I had the same reaction when we went home last June for a wedding – it had only been a year since I saw Joel and yet he had grown this incredible amount and no longer looked like a little brother. Kendall had much the same reaction. We stayed for all 3 hours of church – and left Kendall alone so he could continue being a missionary.
After church we drove out to New Jersey where my cousin Allison lives with her husband and their 3 adorable girls. It was nice to see them!
Monday we saw more of Philly - on the steps on Independence Hall with George Washington's monument in the foreground; Independence Hall from the courtyard; and the room where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed.
We also went down to the river and just as we arrived, my dad says “is that smoke?” Would you know it? There was a fire in a nearby building. Dad whips out his cell phone and calls 911 – which was funny seeing as how we were tourists and couldn’t give an exact address for where we were. But between Dad and the dispatcher, they figured it out. The firemen got there in record time (probably since there was a fire-station around the corner). It was all really ironic. For those of you who don’t know, my Dad was a fireman for YEARS … hence the irony of him, as a tourist, being the one to call in the fire. Of course then he ran down there and got some good pictures. They got the fire out and no one was hurt – though the roof didn’t look very good.
After all this adventure, we went down to the river – our original destination. We were looking at this cool old sailing ship (with a big “no trespassing” sign on it) when the ship’s engineer comes out on deck. Of course, Dad starts talking to him and he invites us onto the ship for a private tour. Man it was sooo hot outside (and not really cooler inside) but it was sooo neat to see the workings of the ship. We went into all the nooks and crannies and had a great time!
We hurried back to our hotel, changed our clothes, stood in front of the air conditioner for a while (that was me) and then went up to the mission home. Each mission has a mission president who is called to preside over the mission – and he lives at the mission home. It was in a really pretty area outside of the city. While there, we got to sit around and visit with Kendall and some of the other missionaries who were also returning home. We heard some hilarious stories, including one about the teenage kids in Philly who ride their bicycles around with music blaring from their bikes. Yep, they somehow rig up speakers, sub-woofers and whatever else to their bicycles so they can ride around with their tunes. Hilarious! And so inner-city! We had a nice dinner at the mission home and then the most amazing testimony meeting. All the missionaries were invited to stand up and bear their testimonies about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and living church here on the earth. They all bore a powerful witness of the truth of the gospel, the importance of missionary work, and the love our Savior has for us, his children. It was a beautiful and spiritually moving meeting – with a feeling I am not going to forget. Cory & I had to leave and make the 5 hour drive back to New York, and Kendall went back to the hotel with my parents and brothers. They all safely arrived in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Cory & I safely arrived back in Seneca Falls at 1:30 AM on Tuesday morning – and found our apartment to be 90 degrees inside!! Stupid heat wave!
Words really can’t describe what it was like to be re-united with all members of my family after 2 years – and to be there at that moment with Cory at my side. He sacrificed a lot by giving up time he should have been studying and time he should have been in class so he could share the experience with me and our family – and I love him all the more for his sacrifice. I just want to say that I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church. I can feel its truth inside my heart. I am blessed every day to have this knowledge. I am also blessed to have the standards and integrity the church teaches. I love my family very much and I am grateful that families are eternal – that when we pass on, these bonds don’t die. I can have my family with me forever – and have Cory as my husband forever. I am so lucky to know what I know. I am grateful for Kendall and his awesome example of service and obedience – and I am so proud of him!! I can’t wait to go home this weekend and enjoy more time with my family!