Every family has problems and challenges. But successful families try to work together toward solutions instead of resorting to criticism and contention. They pray for each other, discuss, and give encouragement. Ezra Taft Benson

Monday, December 13, 2010

Candid Moments

Recently I sat Bethany and Maryann down for an impromptu photo-shoot. We took a lot of pictures and had fun. Some of the photos turned out very well. Others, well, it is great to see their personalities come through on print.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Family Photo

This photo was taken while we were in Nauvoo in July. Though already outdated (missing Hannah who was yet unborn), it is a good likeness of our family. What fun we had. Sometimes, when life seems to become unnecessarily complicated, we long for a day gone by when a man's word was a contract, and faith was something to be lived by. In the Book of Mormon, four generations passed between the appearance of the Savior and the falling away of the youth due to lack of learning the things their ancestors experienced. About four generations have passed between the Saints experiences in Nauvoo and today. Many are falling away having never experienced the need for great trust in the Lord needed to leave their homes and life as they new it, to follow the prophet across the plains to an unknown desert. The experiences of the pageant are needed to help us remember, and learn.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spencer's Artwork

For the past few years, Spencer has displayed a real streak of creativity. I'm not sure where this came from, but he can spend hours drawing, coloring, and creating artwork in various mediums. We thought we would share a few here. I also added a recent school paper he completed for writing; the fourth Article of Faith from memory. Enjoy!

Dad and Son as Boy Scouts

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grandma Ray Comes to Ohio

This summer Anna's grandma, Ethlyn Ray, flew from Mesa Arizona for the Hill's family reunion they were having in our area. They were kind enough to allow us to collect her from the airport. Of course Sister and Elder walker didn't miss a chance to see their aunt.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More on Nauvoo

The pageant script has so many wonderful quotes that one can not help but build their testimony and increase their faith while being entertained.

At one point after the arrival of a new boat load immigrants, Parley P. Pratt states, "You'll find that here in Nauvoo the arrival of every new neighbor is an occasion to open our hearts. The Prophet Joseph taught that friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of everything we are. We tray to carry one another's burdens, literally. To give what was needed, we gave all we had, and to give more than we had, we gave of ourselves."

Robert Laird, not a member of the church, arrived on that boat with his wife Becky, who joined the church in Scotland. They lost a three year old son on the boat ride over. Grieving the loss of his son, he storms up to the Prophet Joseph and says, "What do you think you are doing?" He describes the hardships of the journey, and says, "There are fourteen more that you'll never meet, because their graves are at the bottom of the sea. And one of them is our own little boy; our little Jaimie. He was barely three. He smiled up one last time at his mother, then gave-up the ghost. "

He then asks the prophet, "You can stand stand there and tell me that your god accepts such terrible sacrifices from children He supposedly loves?"

Joseph responds, "Yes, I can. Because I know that He also knows what it means to loose a son."

At another point in the pageant when Joseph Smith is organizing the Relief Society, he states, "This society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time. If you will live up to your privileges, the angels can not be restrained from being your associates."

Parley Pratt tells Robert Laird as Robert is beginning to accept the gospel, "If it's good, it comes from Christ, and He gave His life so you could have it."

At another point while speaking of the passing of King Follet, Joseph says, "They are only absent for a moment. Life on earth is fragile. It is a blessing to be cherished." Moments later he says, "This is the purpose of the temple. To bring together those who dwell on earth with those who dwell in heaven. That the hearts of our family members may be bound together for eternity. "

Such powerful doctrine. I think everyone should see the pageant at least once.

I have had time to post more photos from the Nauvoo Pageant. These were taken by our good friend Theresa Junkunz.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Announcing Hannah Ray Foister

Hannah was born Friday, August 27, at 6:54 p.m. weighing 8 lbs 11 ounces. That makes Hannah the heaviest of all the children at birth. She has quite a bit of black hair.

We are so grateful she arrived healthy and safe. Shortly before the birth, Anna had received a blessing promising her that angels would be present to assist. I asked her afterward if she had felt their presence, and she said yes.

Here is the whole gang. Our new family!

Mother and daughter.

Maryann is so excited to have a little sister. We have to keep a close eye on how loving she is.

This was the children's first time to meet their new sister. Look at her hair.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nauvoo Pageant

This past month we had the opportunity to participate in the Nauvoo pageant. It was a lot of work, but tremendously rewarding. We really enjoyed every aspect of participating from the heat and humidity, to the chiggers and mosquitoes. Most of all, we enjoyed the wonderful people we met, and the strong spirit felt participating in such an event in such a place. It was a blessing to our life we hope to repeat in future years.

Nauvoo is such a beautiful place!

Participating in the pageant can be very tiring. How did the pioneers do it?

Boy was it hot and humid. Especially if you are eight months along. Anna is such a trooper!

Maryann enjoyed all of the new sites. Here she is with her security badge.

The children in costume waiting to begin.

At the sack race preparing for work.

Bethany with the Laird's. She had the largest part of our family. She was the daughter of Robert and Becky Laird, main characters in the pageant. What a great thing for her.

Here is a close-up of Bethany with the Laird's.

The finale! If you see the dots in the upper left-hand section, that's us!

Saint Louis

Earlier this summer Wesley, Emma and I took a trip to Saint Louis for the day. We enjoyed being together, and seeing the sites. We went to the temple, and took the tram to the top of the arch. Peering out the little windows made Wesley very nervous.

View from the top of the arch.

Beneath the arch looking up.

The museum and the tram are both located underground beneath the arch.

The base of the arch is massive

Wesley and Emma in front of the temple.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Struggles and Charity

I was reminded recently of a story Elder Quieten L. Cook told in General Conference regarding difficult times. He said,

Last winter my daughter had a white-knuckle experience driving in a severe snowstorm. She reminded me of a similar situation I had with my two sons many years ago. My youngest son, Joe, was three years old, and my son Larry was six. We were traveling by car from San Francisco to Utah in June. The weather had been very good.

As we started our ascent to the Donner Pass summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, suddenly and without warning an enormous snowstorm hit us. None of the drivers was prepared. A semitruck in front of us had jackknifed and was spread across two lanes. Other trucks and cars had slid off the freeway. One lane was open, and many vehicles, including ours, were desperately trying to gain traction to avoid the other vehicles. All traffic then came to a halt.

We were not prepared for this blizzard in June. We had no warm clothing, and our fuel was relatively low. I huddled with the two boys in an effort to keep us warm. After many hours, safety vehicles, snowplows, and tow trucks began to clear up the massive logjam of vehicles.

Eventually, a tow truck hauled us to a service station on the other side of the pass. I called my wife, knowing she would be worried because she had expected a call the prior evening. She asked if she could speak to the two boys. When it was the three-year-old’s turn, with a quivering voice, he said, “Hope ya know, we had a hard time!”

I could tell, as our three-year-old talked to his mother and told her of the hard time, he gained comfort and then reassurance. Our prayers are that way when we go to our Father in Heaven. We know He cares for us in our time of need.

As we were talking about hard times with the children, trying to help them recognize suffering around us, and have a desire to do something about it, Wesley remembered the video portraying Elder Holland's experience as he attempted to move across the country. I posted it below for your convenience. Yes hard times do pass, but if we have the ability to eliminate any about of suffering someone feels, we are obligated to do so. I think the entire gospel can be summed-up in one word, charity. Charity is how we feel and act towards each other, and this determines who we become. I think the video of President Hinckley's talk, Lessons I Learned As a Boy, portrays this point very well.

Hot Air Balloon at Camp Timberhill

The cub scouts were able to help inflate and pack away a hot air balloon at camp this month. It was exciting to handle such a neat thing.

Inside the envelope.

Wesley stretching it out.


Spencer with his seaweed catch!

Wesley's first catch ever!

Board of fishing.

Happy Emma.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Eve with the Youth

Wesley spent New Year's Eve with about 25 youth from the ward and the YM and YW leaders. They had a great time full of clean wholesome fun. The church has produced some fabulous media in connection to New Years titled A Brand New Year. They watched just as much of the 2009 video as we did the 2010. It is marvelous to see to the faith of the youth.

Sister Dalton, Young Women General President said, "I think they need to be reminded of who they are. They need to know their identity. They are not ordinary, they are not common. They are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. The world wants Latter-day Saint teens to be average. Our message is to live on a higher level. The Lord is with these youth. The Lord knows who they are. He trusts them. We trust them. We have great confidence in them.” Church News Week Ending December 5, 2009

The clip below is from the 2009 DVD. It is amazing to see the Conference Center filled with youth, watching a performance consisting entirely of youth. Our youth have enjoyed singing the 2009 songs throughout the year. The 2010 DVD does not have the same feel or sing-able songs as the 2009 production, but it is powerful in its own right, hence the reason for showing both years.

Letter to his Wife (1861)


Love of country is not unique to Americans, but in a democracy, sending citizens to war requires far more than a dictator's fiat. In 1861, men on both sides of the conflict were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed to be right. Southerners fought for states' rights and a society built upon human slavery, which many considered the natural order of the universe. When the war started, few volunteers in the northern army marched off to end slavery, but many were ready to fight and die to preserve the Union.

One such soldier was Major Sullivan Ballou of the Second Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteers. Then thirty-two years old, Ballou had overcome his family's poverty to start a promising career as a lawyer. He and his wife Sarah wanted to build a better life for their two boys, Edgar and Willie. An ardent Republican and a devoted supporter of Abraham Lincoln, Ballou had volunteered in the spring of 1861, and on June 19 he and his men had left Providence for Washington, D.C.

He wrote the following letter to his wife from a camp just outside the nation's capital, and it is at once a passionate love letter as well as a profound meditation on the meaning of the Union. It caught national importance 129 years after he wrote it, when it was read on the widely watched television series, "The Civil War," produced by Ken Burns. The beauty of the language as well as the passion of the sentiments touched the popular imagination, and brought home to Americans once again what defense of democracy entailed.

Ballou wrote the letter July 14, while awaiting orders that would take him to Manassas, where he and twenty-seven of his men would die one week later at the Battle of Bull Run.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days --perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure --and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows -- when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children -- is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death -- and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles I have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me -- perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar -- that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night -- amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours -- always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Advice from Elder F. Enzio Busche

I came accross this little clip of a talk Elder Busche gave as part of a BYU Devotional May 14, 1996. It is well worth your time watching. Enjoy!