Sunday, February 8, 2015


     2015 brought us change, unwelcomed change for me.  With the completion of our project in Montgomery County, we were transferred to Terre Haute in Vigo County, Indiana.  It has been a difficult adjustment for me.  It was not good timing.  We initially arrived in Crawfordsville, Indiana in July when the trees were full of leaves.  The grass was green, spotted with the most unique and beautiful flowers I had ever seen.  Neighbors were out visiting on their front verandas.  It was a close-knit community of ward members.  We were soon encircled in the arms of good friends.

The Elders and Sisters helping us move from
Crawfordsville to Terre Haute

     Seven months later we find ourselves in Terre Haute.  It is winter.  The trees are bare.  The grass is brown, spotted with no flowers of any kind.  Neighbors are tightly tucked into their homes to avoid the cold.  It is a bigger community of strangers.  Even our new apartment is not "home."  It is a holding place until something smaller and less expensive comes along.

The Wabash River just a block west of
the Courthouse

     Our FamilySearch work seems to be completely different in Terre Haute.  I loved working with the older probate documents in Montgomery County from the 1800's.  Here in Vigo County we are capturing applications for marriages from this current decade.  I question: "How will my work help someone find their great, great grandmother?"  I have resented the stark contrast.

Setting up shop at the Vigo County Courthouse

     The scriptures and prophets tell us that the Spirit usually communicates to us through the still, small voice, sometimes even a whisper.  I guess I haven't been listening.  It took a "clunk" over my head recently to hear a message of hope.  The clunk was one simple word: POTENTIAL.  I see Terre Haute as it is today, February 2015.  I was told to be patient.  In a few months, Terre Haute will be just as beautiful as Main Street in Crawfordsville.  In time, Terra Hautians will be beloved also.  Everything has potential.

The potential of a child - We are all
growing and becoming.

     Just a few weeks ago, we spent the day at the Louisville Temple.  As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed a man sitting in a beat up, old truck next to us.  I could see into the cab.  It was full of garbage, food, peelings, paper, and personal belongings.  It was a big mess.  From the window I judged the man to be of very humble circumstances.  He had a long, gray beard and wore very ragged clothes.  I was apprehensive about getting out of the car because I assumed he would ask for money or give us some verbal abuse.  Why else would someone like that be sitting in an LDS temple parking lot?
     As usual, Michael led the way.  As we got our bags out of the car, Michael approached the man and asked if he would be willing to take our picture.  What?  I couldn't believe what Michael was saying.  The man mumbled something and my anxiety grew even more.  His mumbling must have been a reply of consent because he got out of his truck and attempted to maneuver the camera.  It was apparent he was not a seasoned photographer.  We thanked him and hurried into the temple.  I was glad to leave the encounter behind me.

Louisville Temple - Michael, Ann, and Mr. Truck Man's finger.

     There were more surprises.  When Michael and I had a moment to chat in the temple, he informed me that he saw our new acquaintance doing ordinance work.  Several hours later, as we exited the temple, just a few steps ahead of us was Mr. Truck Man.  He had also spent the day in that holy house.  Michael chatted with him as we opened the doors to our respective vehicles.  He admitted he comes to the temple often and enjoys doing work for others.  As we were ready to depart, he asked if we had any food.  By this time my heart had been softened.  I quickly looked in our lunch bag and found one banana and a left over piece of bread.  He was grateful as I handed it through his window.  At the beginning of the day, all I saw was a person to be feared, who had chosen or who had been handed a tough life.  Heavenly Father saw him as one of His precious sons who loves to serve in the temple.

     I shouldn't judge Terre Haute because it is February.  
It has the potential of being beautiful in May.

     I shouldn't judge the marriage application I captured yesterday because the
union took place in 2001.  It has the potential of helping 
Mary Smith's descendants 100 years from now.

     I shouldn't judge a stranger because of any outward appearance.  Everything God has created has the potential to "fulfill the measure of it's creation" (See Ensign January 2014),
 even Mr. Truck Man and Ann Singleton Packham.

Looking UP - a view of the dome of the Courthouse
four stories above

     As the saying goes: Please be patient.  God isn't finished with me yet.

"But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, 
and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually...
and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, BECOMING humble, 
meek, submissive, patient, full of love, and all long-suffering."
Alma 13:28


  1. This made my day. So often we judge too quickly and see so little of what is really there. Heavenly Father's perspective is so different from ours. Ann, thanks so much for sharing this insight with us.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts, Sister Ann. Our vision is limited. We want things NOW. (There are 2 ways to straighten a crooked smile, I've learned: a slow process of metal braces and orthodontics, or....I can use this hammer.) I had a 12-yr-old Boy Scout tell me once, "I'm finished changing; this is just that way I am...." Well, I for one still need some more time.

  3. Thank you for your true discipleship Ann and Mike. I'm sure Terra Haute will also be fruitful in time.

  4. Ann--thanks for your update and your reminder to appreciate the specialness of a gray winter landscape and to be open to all of the people we meet. I'm sure that new friendships in Terre Haute will blossom along with spring.


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