Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy 50th anniversary to Mike's parents this August! A night, year, OK, 50 years NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN!!!!

To celebrate 50 years together we:

*Had a couples dinner at the Lion House with Mom and Dad and their 8 children and spouses. What an amazing dinner occasion. The entertainment was our love and odes to Mom and Dad complete with great rounds of laughter and many happy tears. How amazing to have 8 children with 8 spouses around them, each couple sealed in the Holy Temple of the Lord, at the dinner table that night. What a reason to celebrate!

*We did 50 hours of service as a family, doing baptisms in the temple and tying quilts at Carla's house (thank you Gary and Brooke for arranging).

*And we hosted a reception in their honor for friends and family alike to come and rejoice in such a legacy and union!!!

Laura,Lyle, Shanti and James decorated gorgeously with black and gold, red roses! Black and white pics of our parents newlywed days were centerpieces for the tables along with sayings to keep and remember.

Carla and Karie and fams had been busy putting together the list and mailing out the invites and we were thrilled with those that were willing to come celebrate with us this night! THANKYOU!!

Mike&I (&Shanti!) grabbed food and many hands made light work of setting up for the event.

All in all, the best part was Mom & Dad dancing (teenagers&Lyle got the music going with help from CD Earl and Taunna provided), visiting& LOVING the night away!!

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!!!!

Grandpa and Grandma's, Mom&Dad's 50th!!!

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!!!!

First Stop, Martin's Cove at Devil's Gate

After driving for a few days and many, many miles we pulled up to our destination.

We had left green behind long ago. Little by little, the lush trees, rivers and lakes became bushes and green grass with streams and small ponds, eventually becoming only sandy brown sage brush with no water in sight as we followed I-80 west.

As we turned toward 'camp' there lay a dusty dirt road in front of us that seemed to stretch to nowhere. Civilization had all but disappeared. None in sight anyway.

Our first thought: "we had driven over 1,800 miles to this?" Hee hee hee!!! And perhaps no one to welcome us. Each of our extended family had called to tell us they'd be late. How come the ones who drive the farthest always get there first?

We continued, like our pioneer ancestors, in faith.

Faith was rewarded! Pulling closer to camp we found signs of life! A neat and tidy, cozy, and small camp - empty, but for a little line of 'homes' - campers that had stayed for the summer (one could tell by the square patch of 'garden' in front). These were actually FRESH and BEAUTIFUL little motor homes and we knew immediately that our missionary couples were here.

Sure enough an Elder came out quickly to welcome us, and as Elders always do, made us happy just by being there. He gave us brief instructions and we began to set up camp, donning pioneer clothing to welcome our family in style!

And the Hoffman heritage celebration began. We were celebrating our adopted heritage, the one given to each of us who has been baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A deep, lasting, and very moving heritage of FAITH, COURAGE, DETERMINATION to FOLLOW the SAVIOR and SERVE Him, a willingness to SACRIFICE the things of this world for the greater blessings of another.

We had been reading "The Fire of the Covenant" by Gerald Lund, the story of what we were about to witness, the handcart pioneers. We read of their willingness to leave their native countries, families, and homes to board ships heading to America - for the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored in its fullness through living prophet to the earth again!

They suffered sea sicknesses, dark and cramped quarters and lack of healthy food, lost loved ones already, but traveled on.

Next train travel, crammed again in cars - sleeping sitting or sometimes standing up.

And then they arrived to where they could finally BEGIN to prepare for their journey: building handcarts, gathering food, being toughened daily for a journey so foreign to the lives they knew in Europe.

The first 6 handcart companies, for the most part, did well but a vastly different journey awaited the last two companies coming west that year. The prophet Brigham had told no one to leave later than June - and now they were just beginning their journey in late July, I believe, torn between staying where they had no homes, no way to provide for themselves, no protection from terrible persecution or forging forward to find the Saints that would welcome them with open arms and help them in Salt Lake City.

We could sense the adventure, the vast beauty, the fun of their journey as we pulled our own handcarts for a day, walking, singing, talking, some bored already, some feet hurting already, but thrilled soon by splashing in the cool waters as we crossed Sweetwater River on a hot day - vastly different from the day the Martin Handcart company crossed over 150 years before.

This had been a place of holy suffering and sacrifice for them. Frozen ice had been theirs to cross. The horrible and hard memories of the Platt River crossing at the beginning of a terrible blizzard haunted their minds. Their physical bodies weakened from lack of food and days and days of treacherously hard journeying, they felt they could not go on. Then their rescuers, who had just found them in answer to their begging prayers, picked them up and carried them, one by one, across the river there. The ice numbed their bodies and cut their legs as they stumbled through again and again to carry their 'friends'.

I have not yet seen '17 Miracles', the latest movie about the handcart pioneers, that so many have told me I MUST see, but we read of miracle after miracle, and heard story of miracle after miracle as we walked their path and missionaries there taught us of their history. As one man, who had been part of these handcart companies later defended, "In our extremity, we came to KNOW GOD."

I feel a little closer to Him just by witnessing the works of his disciples there, sacrificing all, their very lives if necessary, to follow His prophet and obtain a 'new land' (see Hebrews 11), become Zion.

What I learned most from those little bands of handcart pioneers(500 plus in the Martin and Willie handcart companies), is that 'with God nothing is impossible'. They faced the most impossible odds, no chance at survival, it appeared they could NEVER succeed in what He had commanded them to do, gather to Zion. But through the Lord, they did indeed succeed and left behind a legacy never to be forgotten, but to be followed for generations.

I hope I can be as our pioneer ancestors, follow Him in faith, NO MATTER WHAT, face impossible odds with the confidence that the Lord is leading me along and will, indeed, prepare the way. Give everything I have for the Kingdom of God.

A celebration of our heritage. And WHAT a celebration it was. Family and fun and fine memories to fill us all! Campfire and food DELICIOUS! (Like REALLY DELICIOUS, better than a 4 star restaurant delicious - WOW! Thanks Clayton and Crew!)Handcarts, river crossings, square dancing, 'Ephraim Hanks' visiting camp, mail from the pony express, and best of all, testimonies unshakable.

Thank you, Dear Pioneers. Thank you, Dear Family!

Love, The Hoffmans


One year ago we took the 5,000 mile drive from PA to UT to NM and back. When we faced another great trek for the Hoffman Family Reunion (Wyoming), Grandpa&Grandma H.'s anniversary(UT), a visit to GrandmaGreat(Alberta, Canada) we wondered. Mike&I presented it to the children in 'kid council'. Drive or Fly? It was the question.

No question for the children. They shocked us by opting immediately for another caravan across the country. Their biggest reason, once we climbed in the car we were TOGETHER ...all the way there! Oh, and the hotel swimming pools are fun ;).

So facing the challenge of packing everything up and then ON to the excursion (Heather our amazed cheerleader witnessed the wonder - we left our home before she and boys did) we loaded up and headed out.

One trick of the trade my sister-in-law had taught us a few years ago as she gave us a HUGE bag full of gifts upon our driving out of Utah toward PA. "Open one every 100 miles or so" she said. Our reward. It was so fun, exciting, a way to rejoice in our progress, it kept things fresh, engaging and interesting. Thank you!!!

Heather and I hit Walmart at 11pm the night before our trip and gathered the goods. A couple bag fulls of 'tiny treasures' and I was equipped. The children age 10 and down delighted in the surprises.

The first few hours I thought, 'when can we have the next surprise?' echoing in the backseat would cancel out the good of the goodie bag, but soon they adjusted to the schedule (and sometimes I could even pull a little more time between new toy time).

Just what we needed, these trinkets kept the kids happy and busy. (Dollar items for most.)

Even the big kids were thrilled when 1/2 way through our journey they earned one surprise each (a new book, new headphones - I thought of them.)

I couldn't believe it when we neared, finally, our PA home once again and I pulled out the last of the entertainment 3 hours away. NICE.

We had made it to Wyoming, Utah, and Canada and back and had 5,000 miles of memories to keep. HURRAY!!

Next year anyone???

P.S. Top entertainment items for travel (we found by experience)

1. Bendables (you can decorate the windows with these! Big kids got in on the action!)
2. Crayola magic paper&markers (no color unless on the paper).
3. Kid scissors, gluesticks, and paper (OK, a little messy but cleans up fast & worth it, entertains for hours)
4. Somehow still nothing beats singing silly songs for keeping kids happy on the road.
5. Walmart had plastic lap boxes one can draw on and keep tools within. ($2)

Little kids say their favorite was: squinkies.
Hottest big kid series of the summer: "The Great and Terrible"

Of course, modern day technology always helps when one gets desperate - pull out the Leapster and the laptop movies when all else fails!

Happy driving!

Our Josh, The STAR!

Isaac persuaded Josh in 8th grade to tryout with him for Beauty and the Beast, the middle school play. These two best friends landed the roles of Beast (Josh) and Gaston (Isaac)- arch enemies onstage! ;) That was beginning of a new career for Josh. He has since starred in more plays than we can name, and is a common castmember at our AMAZING Community Arts Center which hosts Broadway plays and creates Broadway quality plays with the local high school students as cast and crew. This summers: Hairspray! Josh and his friends have organized several benefit concerts as well. Way to SHINE!!!!

p.s. the lesson - peer pressure can be a good thing, eh? ;) Thanks for all the good you've brought to Isaac Josh! Love, The Hoffmans


The arrival of my BEAUTIFUL, PRECIOUS, BELOVED neice, Brielle. Here she is at her first few moments home! Which we caught because we could NOT LEAVE for our 2 week vacation without letting the children see her. We LOVE YOU BRIELLE!!! Our deepest congratulations Kristi,Calt,and Camden! From all the Hoffmans

Heather's Visit!

A remarkable 'tender mercy': my sister's husband, Jeff, started working in a new area of his company. The bad news, they told him, was that he would have to go far away for a couple of months for training. Where? Of all places, the town our parents live in. WOW! So my sister Heather packed up her family of 3 little boys and headed 'home' to Michigan (who ever thought?) with her hubby to live with Mom&Dad for a couple months.

Part of that trip? VISITING US!!!! HURRAAAAYYYYY!!!! What a wonderful blessing for the three PA sisters to have the Perry,UT sister join them for a couple weeks!!!! We tried our BEST to show them 'THE BEST TIME EVER!!!' (which included her baby boy, Davis, watching Tangled daily- he can't live without it! BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!). ;)

Here are some pics of Reptileland which comes highly recommended by my 4 youngest and HORSERIDING!!! Cooper and Landon were NATURAL cowboys! Made the Hoffman's proud!

So grateful for time with you Heather and Crew!! AND CONGRATULATIONS on finding out the Baby to come is a GIRL!!!!!