March 10, 2019 - We received this letter from the Mission Office:
It is apartment inspection time once again! We would love to have your help with conducting inspections of our missionary apartments in your area.  We have included the inspection forms with this letter. Please set up appointments with the missionaries to insure they will be home when you are coming. Treat the missionaries as your own children--if they are not living in a clean environment, please instruct them on proper cleaning procedures. Expect high standards of cleanliness.

We sent this text giving the missionaries the heads up that we were coming:
Sister Spear and I will be coming to your apartment at (time and date). Please be prepared by cleaning your oven, stove top (especially under the burners), microwave, refrigerator, bathroom, bedroom, study and living room. Vacuum cleaner should be cleaned thoroughly and taken apart for inspection. We're excited to see you all. Please respond with your area name so we know you received this message. Elder Spear

We were asked to go down to the Schenectady, New York area for our Apartment Inspections. There are no Senior Couples serving in this area AND it's where our daughter Jessy and her family live - so the Mission Office knew we would be thrilled to drive the 4 hours (one way) to complete this assignment. (And they were right!!!)

So, we took off early Thursday morning to complete our 8 inspections assigned in the Schenectady area. (We are also going to inspect the 2 apartments in Massena next week.)

Sunrise on the way to Schenectady

First stop: Gloversville Elders' Apartment.

Gloversville: Elders Oliveira & Williams

Second Stop: Johnstown Sisters' Apartment

Johnstown: Sisters Wiese & Nielson

Third Stop: Amsterdam Elders' Apartment

Amsterdam: Elders Anderson & Schultz

Then we were off to Jessy's house. Of course we forgot the cookies that Karen made for the missionaries - so the first three sets of missionaries got a big bag of my favorite treat: Cadbury Mini-Eggs. I hope they appreciate my sacrifice!!!

So, what funner thing can you do than make cookies with your grandkids. Win-Win-Win!!! Happy Grammy, Happy Grandkids and Happy Missionaries who get to eat the cookies!

Karen, Jessy, Jack, Will, Annie and Lucy making cookies for the Missionaries

Friday morning - Fourth stop: Saratoga Springs Sisters' Apartment

Saratoga Springs - Sisters Gunther & Eloff (Sister Eloff was companions in the MTC with our very own Sister Black!)

Fifth Stop: Ballston Spa Elders' Apartment

Ballston Spa Elders Hill & Nye

Sixth Stop: Clifton Park Sisters' Apartment

Clifton Park Sisters Taylor & Chanipo (Sister Chanipo is originally from Liberia, Africa - It has been so much fun to meet these young missionaries from all over the country AND world...their dedication is so inspiring!)

Seventh Stop: Niskayuna Elders' Apartment

Niskayuna Elders Smigel & Harris - They serve in the Schenectady Ward where Jessy and Josh live. (Josh is currently the Bishop.) Their oven needed some TLC & vacuum was not cleaned - they owe us pictures showing the oven and vacuum are clean.

Eighth Stop: Glenville Elders

Glenville Elders Van Item and Hanson

We are happy to report that no one was grounded and no one lost their allowance! The apartments were actually very clean. Rest at ease parents!!! We are told that things were not always this good; we were totally impressed with the apartments. (Definitely cleaner than most of our kids apartments when they were in college.)

Back to Jessy's house for some dinner and entertainment. Lucy is taking violin lessons and she put on a little recital for us.

Dinner was LOS - Left Over Surprise - Annie loved her Spaghetti!
Lucy is 7 years old and plays very well! Good job, we loved your music.

We spent the night and went out for breakfast and then headed to Utica and the Mission Office. Several of the missionaries had extra things that needed to go to the office, so we decided to go home by way of the Mission Office in Utica so that we wouldn't have to drag around a bunch of stuff until the next Zone Conference.

We drove through the Adirondack Park on the way home - it was a gorgeous day - 40 degrees, no wind and sunny. We saw hundreds of snowmobilers having a great time - certainly looked like fun. It made me want to come back for a vacation when we are done with our Mission. There are also lakes all over the place, so it looks like it would also be very fun in the summer. Beautiful, beautiful countryside. Tons of cabins and lodges to stay in!!!

A little information about the Adirondack Park:
The Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by the State of New York amid concerns for the water and timber resources of the region. Today the Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. The boundary of the Park encompasses approximately 6 million acres, nearly half of which belongs to all the people of New York State and is constitutionally protected to remain “forever wild” forest preserve. The remaining half of the Park is private land which includes settlements, farms, timber lands, businesses, homes, and camps.

Adirondack Park - Mt Morris Summit Winter Sunrise

The Adirondack region boasts over 3,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and a wide variety of habitats, including globally unique wetland types and old growth forests. The heart of the Adirondack Park is the Forest Preserve, which was created by an act of the Legislature in 1885 which stated, “The lands now or hereafter constituting the Forest Preserve shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be sold, nor shall they be leased or taken by any person or corporation, public or private.” The state of New York owns approximately 43 percent, or roughly 2.6 million acres of land within the Park’s boundaries. The remaining private lands are devoted principally to forestry, agriculture, and open space recreation. The Adirondack Park is unique in its intricate mixture of public and private lands. About 130,000 people live here year round in its 101 towns and villages. The harmonious blend of private and public lands give the Adirondacks a diversity found nowhere else – a diversity of open space and recreational lands, of wildlife and flora, of mountains and meadows, and people of all walks of life.

On Wednesday before we left, Karen had Young Women's and they decided to have a cook off. The girls divided into 2 teams and made twice baked potatoes and I was the lucky judge!

Judging the Young Women's Twice Baked Potatoes!!! YUM! They made enough for everyone to have a full potato, so we all got to enjoy the yummy results.

Afterwards some of the Young Women turned on some music and showed off their dance moves.

Young Women Showing Off Their Dance Moves

We enjoy the variety of service that we are able to do in the Branch. The members are wonderful and we love serving here.