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Monday, December 29, 2014

Two Temples to be Renovated/Update/Christmas Miracle

Hello, friends! I realize it has been two weeks since I last posted. Things have been busy. I could have posted last week but decided against it. Therefore, I have two weeks to update my readers on. I am excited to do so. As a preface to that, however, I wish to share yet another exciting official announcement from the Church.

On December 16, 2014, the First Presidency officially announced the closure dates and extensive renovation of two temples, the Freiberg Germany and Idaho Falls Idaho Temples. The Freiberg Germany Temple will close to patrons effective Monday February 9, and is expected to reopen sometime in May 2016. This will be the Freiberg Temple's second renovation. The first renovation happened in 2002. Coincidentally, President Gordon B. Hinckley was involved with both the original dedication of that temple in 1985 and its rededication 27 years later. It will be very interesting to see who will be sent to rededicate that temple. My guess is that it will be either President Thomas S. Monson, who has ties to Germany, or President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a native German. The Frankfurt Germany Temple will accommodate patrons from the Freiberg Temple district during the closure. The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was originally dedicated in 1945 and was the only temple dedicated by President George Albert Smith. The 8th operating temple of the Church will have its first renovation starting Monday March 16, 2015 and is expected to be completed sometime in October 2016. The Rexburg Temple will serve patrons that typically go to the Idaho Falls Temple while it is being renovated. With these two announced renovations, there will be 5 temples undergoing renovation at the same time. Rexburg and Freiberg join the list of renovations underway in Montreal Quebec (projected to be completed late next year), Mexico City Mexico (also projected to be completed late next year) and Suva Fiji (projected to be completed either late in 2015 or early in 2016, depending on how construction progresses).

The First Presidency on December 12 also released a report on how under construction temples were progressing. Oddly enough, the list included Phoenix Arizona (already dedicated) and omitted any mention of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, which, though ground was broken for it in 2011, has yet to begin full-scale construction. For the latest in temple information, please see ldschurchtemples.com, which, though it is not an official Church website, nonetheless has the latest sourced information about temples and includes projections about completion dates for under construction temples as well as up-to-date news about the announced temples. Some may question the veracity of information on that site, but I have always found it to be accurate. Even if information on that site is not currently validated by the Church, I have on good authority that the webmaster receives official temple news from the Church for his site. So I have no qualms about accepting information on that site as factual, albeit subject to verification by official Church News Releases. I know from what I've been able to learn from that site that at least two temples are anticipating their groundbreaking next year: Lisbon Portugal and Tucson Arizona. All the rest (except Cedar City Utah, Durban South Africa, and Urdaneta Philippines, which have yet to have an official site announced), are nearing the time when groundbreakings may take place. So I anticipate 2015 as being a great year for temple groundbreakings. Additionally, of the temples that are under construction, as many as five more (plus Cordoba Argentina and Payson Utah, which have already had dedication dates announced) may be completed by the end of next year, as well as up to three that are currently being renovated. What a remarkable era of temple building we live in!

That being said, it's time to update you all on what has happened since I last wrote. There have been so many wonderful things. I will talk about the most significant one first. I faced the week of the 15th as Christmas approached with the knowledge that we likely wouldn't have much to work with. I prayed for a Christmas miracle, for some way, any way, to make it special for Amy. Someone I went to High School with offered to take me shopping for a Christmas gift for Amy. As I was waiting to ascertain what I could get her with this friend's most generous offer, we checked our mail one day. In it we found an envelope addressed to the Stokes family, with the return address "Santa Clause, North Pole". Inside was a single sheet of paper. Written was the simple message, "Merry Christmas. Know that you are loved. From Friends." Enclosed in the message were two $100 bills. I cannot begin to explain the feeling of gratitude and love that filled my heart for this gift. What may not have been a big deal to our anonymous benefactor was a HUGE deal to us. Because of it, we were able to spoil each other for Christmas, and we had enough and to spare for our needs until my next check came in on Friday the 26th. As a matter of fact, we are still reaping the benefits of this Christmas gift.

On December 15, we went and saw an advanced special screening of The Hobbit (the last installation in the series) as a Christmas present from my work, and that was great. The next day was my birthday. I had a very pleasant day at work, after which I spent the evening with Amy and was visited by her brother Troy and received many well wishes on Facebook and by phone from family and friends, which was good. I got a very good start to being 28. On Thursday December 18, we marked four years since we were married. It was a great day to reflect upon all the wonderful experiences we've had together and to look ahead to the many wonderful things that would happen in the future. That weekend was typical, with me getting paid an about-average check and us spending it almost as soon as we got it. I also went to Physical Therapy on Saturday and enjoyed the Church meetings on Sunday.

This last week has been good to me as well. On Monday I sought for and obtained approval to get off early tomorrow so that Amy could pick me up prior to her dentist appointment, so that will be good. I had so many great experiences leading up to Christmas that I can't put into words. Suffice it to say, the job is still treating me well. I got off an hour and a half early on Christmas Eve and had Christmas Day off, so that was good. On Christmas Eve, Amy and I went to a get-together at the home of Uncle Chris and Aunt Jacqui Howden (Uncle Chris is Mom's youngest brother). We had a great meal and were able to share wonderful Christmas stories and sing many Christmas hymns. Our Christmas Day was wonderful. We went and had breakfast with Amy's family in the morning and saw my family in the evening. We were blessed to have a bounteous Christmas, both giving and receiving wonderful things. The Lord has been so good to us. We ordered gifts for each other online, and not all of them have arrived yet, but our new wedding rings arrived yesterday, and it is our hope that the books we ordered for each other will arrive soon as well. On Friday this week, I slept through my alarm due to getting to bed far too late the  night before. With Amy's help, I got ready for work in haste and still made it on time. On Saturday, I went to Physical Therapy, ran errands, came home and enjoyed relaxing. I completed my tasks for the day as swiftly as I could but still got to bed far later than I should have last night.

Today (Sunday) Church was wonderful. I got my new manual for next year's Priesthood lessons. I was able to spend the balance of the day relaxing. Before Christmas rolls around, I try to watch the four Christmas movies that I have: White Christmas and the three Santa Clause movies. Due to a hectic work schedule and other factors, I was unable to complete this goal before Christmas Day. We finally finished the last movie tonight, and, in retrospect, I think I almost prefer having Christmas movies left to watch after Christmas Day. It kind of helps keep the spirit alive longer. Also, for those that aren't aware, when we moved into this apartment, as it was near Christmas, we put up a Christmas tree. After our first Christmas was over, we both couldn't bear to take it down, so it has remained up all this time. This has helped us keep the Christmas spirit all year round.

One or two loose ends to tie up and then I'll be finished with this post. I have mentioned in my previous blog post how I was not feeling well, had been diagnosed with an infection at the urgent care clinic, and had taken medications for that infection. It didn't clear up at all. If anything, it's gotten worse. Much worse. Thankfully, I kept calling my pulminologist until she called in my emergency inhaler. The bad news is that she has not yet called in something to help with the persistent coughing and chest congestion I am experiencing, and she refuses to return my calls or contact me by e-mail. So unless I hear back from her tomorrow (Monday), I'm having Amy take me to the emergency care clinic again and see if they will give me something to help with the cough, because this is now beyond ridiculous, and I'm fed up with feeling sick and not getting any help from the one doctor who should be willing to assist me in such issues. So I'll keep you posted on what happens with that.

Still no word on whether or not I will get SSI in January, but I am expecting to hear about that any day now. I don't see why I wouldn't. In November, I earned far less than their $1500 estimate of my wages for that month, so I should get something Even if I get $300 or $400 from them, that will be a godsend and will help us greatly. I will know one way or another by next week what will happen with that. As a matter of fact, I will have the money or not by next week. I'll be sure and post about that then.

Well, I've rambled on long enough. I've probably put a few of you to sleep. I just want to close by saying I hope that you are all doing well, that you had a very Merry Christmas, and that you will have a Happy new Year. My first post for 2015 will likely be next week. I don't anticipate posting before then unless something monumental happens. Until I write again, all the best!