"The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone's prayer or someone's need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him." This quote summarized the legacy of President Thomas S. Monson. Over the past two weeks, we have remembered his life and pondered his teachings and his example.
|An excellent video about the life and legacy of President Thomas S. Monson|
Christmas Gifts from our Hearts
This year we tried to make our Christmas Gift giving a little more meaningful. As part of our Christmas gift giving we gave the following three gifts:
1- To each of our grandchildren we gave them a coupon for a date with their Oma and Opa.
We have quickly learned that we will be a little out of our comfort zone in some of the activities as we share this time with each grandchild. We have already spent an afternoon at the nickel arcade and the next activity scheduled is laser tag. We look forward to many more opportunities to create memories.
|Video games with Natalia and Tiancom at the Nickel Arcade|
|Lunch together afterwards|
We started this self-reliance course last week and have had 10 of our children, sons or daughter in laws or grandchildren participate with more planning to join in. Others are reviewing the materials in their home. For those who missed the first lesson, we have worked with them one on one, including three additional sessions this past week. The unexpected blessings have been some meaningful individual conversations about spiritual self-reliance. We believe that this can be a blessing in all of their lives and we will do our part to make sure that they all have the opportunity to improve their financial self-reliance.
|First session of Self-Reliance Course, including family from Pennsylvania by video|
3- Finally for some for whom we had copies of patriarchal blessings, we shared the following reminder of the gifts that have come from their Heavenly Father.
Ushering in 2018
As we finished our Christmas celebrations we quickly moved to the New Year. We did our normal puzzle and opened the door for family members to celebrate with us. The Sunday evening was full of visitors but ended with less participation as the year wound down.
|Starting New Year's Eve with a puzzle, before visitors|
|Visitors to our home, putting puzzles together and enjoying the food|
|Debbie and Jacob as 2017 wound down|
|With Kari and Serenity as the Times Square ball began to drop|
|Finished second puzzle done on New Years Day|
Other Holiday opportunities
|Celebrating with Camila in her Care Center facility on Christmas Eve. We love her beautiful smile!|
|Extended family Christmas party on December 23 with brothers and their families. Thank goodness for the Condominium Clubhouse|
|Our Christmas Decorations in our Family room downstairs|
|Christmas Decorations outside|
|Tending grandkids who played in boxes that new bar stools for our kitchen came in|
|Another opportunity to be with Arianna, Grandma reading her a book|
|Mounting the American Flag on our Condo, present to Great Grandma Rueckert|
|Camila with her four children on the ice|
|Camila with her two daughters, Kaisha and Cherish|
|Grandpa with a few more grandchildren|
|Celebrating Debbie's birthday|
We have tried to spend our extra time getting organized and getting moving on our family history work. Part of this was buying a new file cabinet to organize our files.
After several trips to the temple, we were able to hold a family temple sealing session with my mother and four of her sons and their wives. We were able to perform 14 couple sealings and about 20 child to parent sealings that I had brought and several that other brothers had brought. These are always emotional and meaningful experiences. We sealed families together that we had identified and did work for over the past several months and years. These included Moeller and other children that had died as infants. In our last ordinance we sealed 7 Rueckert children to the same parents. This involved all 9 Rueckert's in the sealing room. What a wonderful experience! The sealer enjoyed having the same last name for all of the proxies. We still have 30 more children to be sealed to parents in a future visit.
|Our file cabinet before assembly|
|Ordinances completed from our family names.|
|Results from 30 minutes of workout, including 8 minutes of cool down|
On the night of January 2, we learned of the passing of President Thomas S. Monson. This ended a significant chapter in the history of the Church. We watched the television the next morning to listen to so many people sharing their memories of President Monson. It brought back floods of memories that I (Tom) had with President Monson. I have been acquainted with him for years, since working in his orchard as a young teenager. Most recently, it was my privilege to meet with President Monson in the meetings of our Perpetual Education Fund board of directors and when we began implementing the Self-Reliance initiative. I finally stopped procrastinating and recorded my personal memories with President Monson. He always remembered the Rueckert family that lived near to him when he was young and as a young bishop. These good relatives of mine always lived good lives that left the Rueckert name strong with President Monson.
Finally last Friday, we were able to watch the funeral of President Monson with our daughter Pollyanna and her two daughters. This was a continuation of our experience of going to the funeral together when President Hinckley passed away.
That night we watched the video of President Monson, "On the Lord's Errand". We had seen it before, but it became even more meaningful. As we pondered his life, it was so clear that the Lord had prepared him from the time that he was called as bishop. He learned from the Lord, especially to never procrastinate a prompting. Almost always his promptings were to minister to individuals. We pray that we can follow his amazing example in our lives.
|Pollyanna with Aria and Paisley watching Sister Ann Monson Dibb speak at the funeral|
|Debbie with our youngest grandchild, Paisley Janet Thompson|
Yesterday we participated in a few significant events. One was the 30th birthday party of our son-in-law Rick Thompson.
Last night we went to a wedding reception that got me thinking. It was for Vanessa, the ex wife of a nephew who had passed away. This is from my oldest brother, who has also passed away, as has his wife. As a family, we have worried and tried to help my brother's posterity where possible. The major efforts have been made by my brother Jim. So far his posterity has had minimal involvement with the gospel, although some are making progress. Vanessa had a son from this previous marriage, Nicolai, and we haven't had a lot of involvement in his life. However, we have seen him and Vanessa occasionally. Yesterday Vanessa was sealed in the temple to a new husband and they now have a nurturing gospel centered home for Nicolai. I thought of how the Lord does step into the details of our lives and provides opportunities for progress. We were so pleased to see all the efforts that Vanessa had made and the wonderful setting that my brother's oldest grandson now is blessed with. God is good!
|Nicolai, at the wedding|
|Nicolai dancing with his mother Vanessa. See the ice sculpture of the Salt Lake Temple in the background.|