Sunday, November 8, 2015

Indiana Sunsets

The sunsets have been beautiful these last few weeks.  Time of year?  Typical of Indiana?  Or could it be that I'm taking more time to notice?

The Lord's Palette of Color taken last week from our back door.

I am feeling a little nostalgic, and the sunsets have taken on a larger, symbolic meaning for me.  This will be my last blog post from Indiana.  Now, don't think I'm getting "trunky" or anything.  I'm committed to working hard right through Dec. 18th, our official release date.  You'll still get a post from Ann in 3 weeks, and I'll close off this chapter of our lives with a final post from Utah on Dec. 20th.  But we are starting to notice a few "this is the last time we'll . . ." events.

Our first visit to an Indiana franchise--a good casual dinning experience

Working with probate records all day, we are very aware of another kind of sunset.  We preserve documents that deal with death--illness, accidents, old age, war, even some murders.  Not many had wills or planned ahead.  The sad ones left children as orphans or widows with less than $500 in the estate (not requiring a probate hearing).  I'm realizing I'm in those "twilight years" as I start to notice a few more aches, pains, and memory slips.  How prepared am I for my sunset?  One thing I am very sure of--there is a literal resurrection for all of us.  That final sunset will be immediately followed by an eternal Day.  My faith in that has been strengthened by our missionary service, feeling God's hand in our efforts to build his Kingdom.

The Collett monument at Highland Lawn Cemetery

This week we imaged a huge packet of documents for Josephus Collett.  Born in 1832, his sunset came in 1893, a sunset of vibrant and diverse hues.  Although he never married, he left quite a legacy.  We saw documents dealing with property and business dealings all over the country (even mining and railroad holdings in Utah).

A sunny afternoon at the park on our way home from church

I was impressed, though, that the bulk of his estate went to major endowments to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he served as the second president, and to the establishment of an orphanage on the Collett family farm.  In 1883 he gave 21 shaded acres to Terre Haute to establish Collett Park.  The LDS chapel is just two blocks south of this beautiful park.

I played in a band concert in Collett Park last month.

Being in the "sunset" of our mission here in Indiana I have reflected on what impact our time here might have made.  Crunching the numbers is enlightening:

  • We've captured over 875,000 images--that's a lot of camera-clicking!  Those that we did during our first 7 months in Montgomery County are already online at FamilySearch, and the Vigo County images will soon follow.
  • Those are documents for over 9,500 separate individuals.  Think of the many descendants of those early Hoosiers who can get better acquainted with their ancestors now--not only their vital statistics, but day-to-day details of what they owned, and with whom they did business.
  • Since February, when we started here in Terre Haute we have been supported by 74 volunteers, some of them coming faithfully every week.  That has totaled nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer time by community folks from the local genealogy society and by members of the two local wards of The LDS Church.

Br. John Lunceford--our most faithful volunteer

Numbers are also an indication of the impact Indiana has had on us:
  • We have worked in 2 different counties, feeling supported and appreciated by the county employees and officials.  
  • We have attended 3 different wards, getting to know and love so many faithful Saints.  They've taught us the gospel, shared in our mission, fed us, and allowed us to serve them.
  • We've lived in 3 different neighborhoods, growing attached to streets, surroundings, stores, and good neighbors.  Indiana is a beautiful state, full of kind, religious people.
  • We've worshiped in 4 different temples--north to Chicago, west to St. Louis, south to Louisville, and now just an hour east to Indianapolis.  In each temple we've felt the sacredness of the House of the Lord, and have grown to love the officiators, many of them remembering us from one month to the next.  
  • Our 2 "additional" callings, leading the Addiction Recovery Program and providing services at the federal penitentiary, have given us the rare opportunity to feel love for all of God's children, the deep love that comes from Christ himself through us to those we serve.

The new Indianapolis Temple at sunset

We're planning a little "thank you" gift to Indiana, a gift of music.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Ann and I will be presenting an evening of music, Saturday, Nov. 28, at "sunset" (7:00 pm) here in Terre Haute at the LDS chapel, 1845 North 6th 1/2 Street.  It will be a family-friendly program of horn and piano music--a little classical (not too heavy), some religious songs, and ending with some Christmas music to start the holiday season.  In true Hoosier style, we'll have a "pitch-in" (potluck to us Utahns) of refreshments afterward.

Silver and gold have we none; but such as we have give we thee

Indiana Sunsets--no matter how you look at them, literally or symbolically, they are colorful, unique, aesthetically rewarding, and spiritually uplifting.  Thank you, Indiana.

Looking forward to enjoying a few more Indiana sunsets,
this one was at Fowler Park just 10 minutes south of us.


  1. Patricia and I have loved your sharing this great mission experience. As it draws to a close we look forward to seeing you both again and want to thank you so very much for your great example and dedication to this great work. You have served so well and faithfully under very difficult circumstances. We have loved getting acquainted with Dean and his wife and will miss them. The Moyes will be coming home at about the same time. You all will add greatly to our ward and stake. Love Hal and Patricia

  2. Ah, you make me miss my native Midwest.
    Thanks for all you have done on your mission. You have done a tremendous job!


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