I've been meaning to do this for a long time, so I'm just going to jump in and figure out the blog thing as I go.
It's been a busy summer for the Buss family. We left for our first BIG vacation on the last day of school, Wednesday, June 3. We spent two days driving back to Niagara Falls, stayed overnight, went on the Maid of the Mist, hiked down to the base of the Falls, and were in awe the whole time. I'm not much of a water person, so the Maid of the Mist was not my favorite part. It was breathtaking in more ways than one for me. I held on to my youngest a little tighter than was probably needed, and was ready to say "been there, done that" much sooner than everyone else. The rest of the family loved it, so that's what was important.
Saturday morning we drove to Palmyra, NY, got settled into our hotel, and then headed to the Church History sites. We went to the Sacred Grove, took the tour of the buildings there, and then spent a good deal of time in the Grove. It was beautiful and peaceful. We each enjoyed some quiet time and then ended our day with family prayer in the Grove. It was wonderful.
Sunday we went to church in the Palmyra ward and met many wonderful people. This was the first of many experiences on this trip of meeting people we had a connection with. In Sacrament meeting a couple introduced themselves and we began visiting. They asked me where I grew up and were surprised when I said Moses Lake, WA. The brother then said that his first mission companion was from Moses Lake. This companion turned out to be one of my dad's good friends!
We spent Sunday afternoon and Monday morning visiting the rest of the sites in Palmyra and then headed to Fayette to see the Peter Whitmer farm.
Then we left for Kirtland with a stop in Mina, NY. We found the little cemetary in Chautauqua where Alan's ancestor's were buried. Most of the headstones were very difficult to read, but we found several Buss family plots. It was very interesting.
We got to Kirtland late Monday night, so we waited to go to the sites until morning. Kirtland was fun and interesting. We learned so much at each place we went. It was amazing. One of the sister missionaries here was from Laie, HI, which is where Jarek is going to college this fall. She explained where her family lives and told Jarek to go visit them any time and tell them he met their daughter in Kirtland, and they would be happy to feed him! Jarek is thinking that might be a good idea once in a while.
We then went over to the Kirtland Temple. Our tour guide was from Russia, and was very nice. Jarek took an online Russian class this year and decided to be brave and try to say a few things to her. She was very impressed and told him that he was doing quite well.
We knew we were getting short on time, but felt that we should take advantage of the opportunity and went to see the Morley Farm and the Johnson Farm. We were so glad we did! The Spirit at those two places was almost overwhelming! At the Johnson Farm, we met a missionary couple from Kemmerer, WY who knew friends of ours who used to live in Laramie. We were able to stand on the steps of the Johnson home where Joseph Smith preached after being tarred and feathered. We also had the priviledge of being in the room where he received so many wonderful revelations. Even our kids noted the what an amazing feeling we had there.
We drove to Terra Haute, IN, and spent the night. Then we went on to Independence, MO, the next day. Thursday we visited Independence, Far West, and Adom-ondi-ahman. All I can say is..... WOW!
Friday, we drove to Nauvoo. We spent four days there, and I think my kids would have been happy to stay a week! We went to all of the sites and performances, and had a wonderful time. We were fortunate to be able to see the BYU Ballroom dance team perform, not once, but twice while we were there. They actually were there for two weeks. We all loved their performance so much, we went back a second time. The kids really loved visiting with the performing missionaries and the dancers. Corinne became good buds with Jared on the dance team, who happened to be from Hawaii. We also were able to attend the temple while we were there. It is such an amazing place! I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it was! After four days in Nauvoo, we were beginning to feel like we knew everyone. We went on wagon rides, played pioneer games, walked to the river, saw how they made horse shoes, bricks, bread, rope, and a host of other things. Nauvoo was by far my kids favorite place on the trip.
Tuesday we left for Omaha and the Winter Quarters temple. We also went to the visitors center there. This was our last stop before heading home, and for the first time on the entire trip, my little ones were getting tired of visitors centers and pioneer stuff. They got a little fidgety, so we didn't spend as long there as we could have.
Wednesday, we headed home. As we headed west, we couldn't help but reflect on what an amazing experience our trip was. You would think that seven people + one suburban + 16 days + 3600 miles would equal a disaster, but it was the most wonderful trip we could have imagined! We had very few disagreements, very little whining, great testimony building, and a whole lot of fun together. Who could ask for anything more.