Chicago, is my kind of Town part 2

This was the last day in the city.  In fact, the last day for this vacation.  So we tried to get in as much as possible before we said goodbye to Chicago.

We first went over to the WGN radio station.  While we were over there, we ran into another famous Chicago Cub legend.  We saw Jack Brickhouse statue.  This man was a stud back in the day.  He broadcast for the Cubs, White Sox, the Bears, and the Chicago Bulls.  I don’t understand why his statue isn’t next to Wrigley field, but I guess being next to WGN radio is just as good.

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We then had to take a look around the Chicago Tribune and there are some really interesting things around this building.  They take the top things from around the world and they put on the building.  Here is some example of what you can see if you are to go to this place.

ImageDome of St. Peter’s Cathedral Rome, Italy

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Pearl Harbor Hawaiian Island

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California Petrified Redwood Forest

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and my favorite ones for those Mormons out there a rock from the Salt Lake Temple.

There are a tone of rocks, bricks, trees from all places in the world.  I would advise if you go to Chicago that this is a must to see.  You will be suprissed to see what is all around this building.

We took a river boat tour of the city of Chicago.  I have to say that taking the Chicago River Architecture Tour and Lake Tour was totally worth it.  In fact the entire family enjoyed it even before we left the dock.

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We saw some really cool things on the tour.  Here are a couple of things.

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Boeing new headquarters

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NBC tower

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Navy Pier

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Soldiers Field

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After the tour, we went over to the Willis (or as it is still know as the Sears tower).  We were going to go on the sky deck, but it was a two hour wait to get on the deck.  We didn’t want to waste that much time so we decided to just walk by it.

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The last thing that we wanted to see what Soldier Field.  Even though we saw it from a distance it wasn’t good enough for us.  However, we ran into some interesting things on the way.

We first saw these bad boys.

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They are a bunch of legs walking around, but they do have a name.  They are called Agora.  They are about nine feet tall and there are a ton of them.  I read somewhere that its suppose to be for the Polish population here in Chicago.  I mean it would make sense for this because outside of Warsaw, Poland, Chicago has the second highest Polish population.  So yea, just the random art here in Chicago.

We ran into Christopher Columbus.  I am not sure why he is here in Chicago, but I guess the people here wanted to honor him for finding this land.  Now that I think about it maybe each state have a statue of him.  I mean if it wasn’t for him then who knows if anything in the Americas would have been discovered.

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Finally we made it over to Soldiers Field.  This stadium is so big.  It took us forever to get to the spot that I wanted to get to, but we finally got there.  My dad always wanted to see this stadium and he got his wish.

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I wish that we had more time to see the United Center, but I guess that is something that I will have to do later in life.  Maybe that will be a vacation with my family one day.  Who knows, only time will tell.  Well I am really going to miss this city again.  It was already hard once to leave this beautiful city when I was a missionary, I can only imagine what tomorrow will be like.  Well no matter where I go, Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart.  Well time to go back to California to continue the adventures of my life.

Chicago is my kind of town

Aw yes, the thing that I have been waiting for the entire trip.  To get into Downtown Chicago!  I am not saying that I didn’t enjoy the other areas its just when you are in the Chicago land you have to see Chicago right?  However, I just realized that going to Downtown Chicago is like being at Disneyland.  You spend almost all day on your feet, the food prices are ridiculous high and the things you want to do either have too long of lines or are currently closed.

We first went to the old mission apartment.

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I wasn’t able to get inside, but it was great just to see it.  Just to see how Old Town Chicago was doing these days.  The architecture is still the same there’s just a lot of remodeling on the inside of the buildings now.  It brought back a lot of great memories from when I started my mission.

We then went over to see Wrigley Field.  However as we were heading over there, it started to rain.  However, that didn’t stop us from heading over there.  We got there and saw the famous stadium.

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We also some of the famous statues around the stadium.

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First off Ernie Banks “Mr. Cub”.

Then “Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams

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Ron Santo

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Finally we saw Harry Caray

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I really wish I had more time to learn more about these people, but sadly I didn’t have time.  I guess I will have to do my own research on these people when I have time.

We then went over to see some of the famous sites in Chicago sites in Millennium Park.  It was truly amazing because my sister and I learned how to walk on water!

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Actaually we didn’t but it would have been cool if we did.  No, its just the reflection of the pool of the water that makes it look like we are walking on water.  When we were walking up to it, I saw some kids running around it and I honestly thought that they were running on water.  They call this place Crown Fountain.  There are some really cool faces that are on these fountains.

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Some times if you are really luck and you take a photo of them they smile at you.

If you are extremely lucky or if you are not careful they will spit water at you.

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We then went over and saw the Cloud or as the Chicagoans call it “The Bean“.  I have to say that every timeI see this place I swear it just keeps getting cooler.Image

This is like a girls heaven because its the ultimate mirror for them.

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We then saw the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  Its a sweet concert hall that is outside.  While we were there, there was a performance going on at that time.  I couldn’t get a look at the people, but they looked like local people from the area.  They were playing music from the 1940’s and it was really amazing.  I kind of wish that they would use the Pavilion for other concerts besides classical but I guess that’s life.  Maybe one day they will allow other to perform there.

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The last stop we made was over at Buckingham Fountain.  It was really awesome to see the giant fountain in Chicago.  It seems to be always bursting with life, when its not winter of course.  I thought about throwing a coin in the fountain and making a wish, but sadly I didn’t have one.  So maybe another person will have to do it for me.

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Sean, Janessa and I having some fun at the fountain.

The crazy thins to think about is even though we saw this much in Chicago there is still like a thousand things we can still see.  I think no matter what you try to see in the city you will never be able to see it all.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try right.  I can’t wait to see what Chicago has in store for us tomorrow.

Exploring Indiana

This was a crazy day.  We traveled about 250 miles and we hit some really cool things in Indiana.

We first left La Porte and we went over to South Bend, Indiana.  We went over to the famous University of Norte Dame.  I have to say that I really enjoyed being on the campus there.  The architecture on campus resembled a lot of European buildings.  I have to say that this is probably one of the coolest campus I have ever seen.  We went over to the famous sites here on campus.

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It was really cool to see it.  I couldn’t figure out if it was made of real gold or not but it seems logical that it would be plated gold.  Could you imagine if it was made of real gold?

We then went to The Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  This building is extremely important on campus.  Its were all the church services are held on campus.

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It is really awesome to be on the inside of this building.  The art in their is amazing and I really wanted to take photos.  However, right when I walked in, there was a service happening.  So I wasn’t able to take photos, but I guess that’s life at times.  If you ever visit Norte Dame you should look inside this building.

While exploring the campus I found the man that gets all the credit for finding the area.  His name is Edward Sorin.

ImageEdward Sorin right behind me.

Of course we just can’t go all religious on this visit for Norte Dame.  We have to see some of the cool spots.

We went over to Notre Dame football stadium.  However, it wouldn’t be a stop to see the stadium without seeing the famous touchdown Jesus.

ImageHad to do what he did every football game right?

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I wish I could have gone deeper into the stadium, but the gates were closed at the time.  Maybe I will be able to come back and take a tour of the building.  Who knows.

So my dad wanted to go see the Amish country so we did head out there.  However, we just wonder around for hours looking for some really Amish food and see some real Amish people.  We found them but we just couldn’t seem to find the food.  We did find the tourist place for the Amish community.

We landed at the place called the Stahly-Nissley-Kuhns farm and saw some interesting things.

I swear this is a game that the Amish play these days.

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This game is a pain in the butt.  The point of this game is to get a ring on the hook.  I tried it a couple of times and couldn’t get it.  It wasn’t until later that I figure out that you have to go to the side and let the ring drop down and get caught on the hook.

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I swear this game mocks anyone who can’t figure it out.

How many of you like Apple Cider?  Well, we saw one of the top ten apple cider places in America.  I was really hoping that it would be up and running when I saw it but sadly that wasn’t in the cards today.  So I guess next time I drink apple cider I guess I could imagine that it came from this place instead right?

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The last thing that we saw today before heading to Illinois was a lighthouse in Indiana.  I didn’t think there could be a lighthouse in this state, but then I shouldn’t underestimate my dad.  He always tends to find the most random things in states that no one else would find.  I really hope I am not like that when I am older but then again I am his son so who knows.

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The random lighthouse in Indiana.

Tomorrow we go into the city of Chicago so this is going to get exciting.

Catching up with people in La Porte

Today we left St. Charles, Illinois and went over to La Porte, Indiana.  While we were driving over to La Porte, Indiana, we decided to make a detour to see how the mission transfers were for the West Chicago mission.  It was also to catch up with my Mission President Jerry Fenn.  While I was there, I ran into some people who I didn’t think that I would run into at the transfer meeting.

I first ran into this kid

ImageThis is Elder Barnett, he was one of my mission companions when I was serving as a missionary.  I couldn’t believe it, I totally thought that this kid was apart of the other mission.  It was great talking to him for a couple of minutes.  He seems to be doing well.  His mission has been extended by two weeks.  So in seven weeks, Elder Barnett will be back in Ogden, Utah.  He can’t wait and I can’t wait to see him back in Utah.

While waiting to see President Jerry Fenn, my dad came up to me and said “Jacob, there is a lady here that is from Byron, Illinios and she knows you.  At first I couldn’t figure it out and then I realized who it was.

ImageIt was Carolyn Ashley.  I have to say that if there were ever a more happy person in Byron it would be her.  Carolyn Ashley laughter is so contagious that it always makes others smile.  I guess you can say that she is the life of the party.  I was able to learn by talking to her that she is now a grandma now.  Her son just had a baby boy and she is very proud of it.

I was able to talk to President Jerry Fenn for a couple of minutes, but sadly I wasn’t able to get a photo with him.  He was extremely busy and he asked the famous question that he asks all return missionaries.  He said “Jacob, have you found a girl yet to take to the temple?”  My response to him was plan and simple.  I said “President, you told us that we should get married, but you didn’t tell us when we needed to get married.  In fact, you mostly focused on us getting an education and getting on with our life’s.  He didn’t know what to say so he just walked away and said I guess I need to change my finally talk with you missionaries before you go home.  I feel bad for the missionaries now, but I guess that is how the cookie crumbles.

We left the transfer meeting and we went over to La Porte, Indiana.  I couldn’t believe how much things have changed around since the last time I was there.  We stopped by and first said hello to the Keenes and Watkins.  It was great to see them all and to see how things were doing for them.  Not a whole lot has changed for them except for the fact that the kids are getting older and bigger.  I swear, I didn’t recognize Xander when If I first saw him.  He has grown a couple of inches and he is starting to talk now.  It is just crazy how fast time can go for kids.  Even Carson had grown as well.

ImageThe Watkins (left to right) Dexter, Kristen and Xander

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The Keenes (from left to right) Carson, Sister Keene and Isaac

Following the Keenes, we went over to see the Ames family down in Union Mills, Indiana.

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The Ames Family (right to left) Kyle, Nick, Reene, Tammy, Sarah, Emily and Jody Ames

The Ames haven’t changed that much.  Well that’s not true.  They have changed in one aspect that I didn’t think was possible.  They are even more hilarious then I thought they could be.  My dad was over with me at the Ames house and he made some of the Ames children squirm a little.  He was giving Jody Ames (the mom of the family) ideas on how to see their personal life at BYU-Idaho.  I have never seen all the kids go crazy on this topic.  It was like as if the younger ones were ganging up on the older ones just to see them freak out.  However, little do the younger ones know that they are next in line and as an adult gets older, they tend to get smarter on seeing how their children are doing.  So I wonder what this house hold will hold for years to come.  Also ladies my good friend Nick Ames you should go talk to him when you can.  I think that you will find that he is an awesome guy.  Don’t believe me then go talk to him and prove me wrong.

The Paulsens were are next visit on the list.  They are still going strong.  I guess since I left the area it seems like things have become a little crazy.  Their two daughters and leg injuries and they are slowly coming back into the scene.  The boys are still boys and they are just crazy.

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The Paulsens.

The Scroggins were next on my list of people to see.  Things are doing well for them as well.  Kyle Scroggin is still a die hard Cubs fan and Jennifer is the same as well.  Keep cheering for them Scroggins because eventually the Cubs should be able to break the curse.  I mean if the Red Sox did it then I am sure they can do it as well.  I guess we will have to be patient and see what happens.

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(left to right) Jennifer and Kyle Scroggin

Finally I got to see Veyeta Penn.  Learned the most exciting news from her.  Her daughter Star Penn will be graduating from school soon.  I think if I am not mistaken its going to be this coming December.  So maybe in a couple of years we will be reading psychology books from Star Penn on how the human mind works.  It could happen you never know.

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Veyeta Penn

Well tomorrow I will get to see what Indiana has to offer.  Can’t wait to see what it is.

Last day in St. Charles and Geneva

When the day started today I swear I was in a coma.  I didn’t even move until my dad forced me to get out of bed.  I guess you can say that I was a little tried from the last couple of days.  It might have been the combination of the time change, the traveling, and the constant on the move to see people.  However, it seems like this rest was needed in order to have gotten through all these activities today.

We first went up the Fox River in St. Charles, Illinois and went on the Freedom Walk or in better terms the

.  There were a lot of random things that were on this walk, but it was worth the experience.

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This isn’t your normal bell, in fact its a time capsule that was placed sometime on July 3, 1984.  It says that it won’t be open until 2034.  I really wanted to know what was in this time capsule and I thought of many ways to open it, but in the end, I guess I will have to wait until 2034 to know whats in this time capsule.Image

Everyone I would like to introduce my new friend.  His name is Ekwabet (Watching Over).  He is a statue that was name by the Pottawatomie Nation on June 29, 1989.  I guess according the the plaques that my family and I read, the Pottawatomie tribe use to live around the river before they were moved.  The plaque under my friend Ekwabet said something really interesting.  It is a quote from Jim Dowd 11/2/88.  It reads “Listen, for I speak but once….As I gaze across the waters of the shimmering Fox River, I see the smoke of thousands of teepees where I once saw only gentle prairies and lush forests abundant with game.
Many moons ago my people were among the first voices to be heard in this land. We came to live in peace with nature. We hunted and fished. We married, bore children and died at our appointed time. The bones of my people mingle here with the earth. We loved this Valley.
It was with great sadness that we had to leave our home. We were few, and the settlers were many. The spirits of my ancestors have never left this great Valley, and occasionally, you may glimpse our shadows or feel our presence as we tread silently along the shores of our beloved Fox River.
Our final prayer as we left our land was that you would love this Valley as much as we loved it. We were one with the earth, sky and water. We were the Neshnabek, the “People” of the Valley.”  It made me want to go back in time to see what the valley was like back in the day.  However, I have to only use my imagine nation in order to figure out what it was like here back in the day.

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This was really cool to see.  This is a fox of course and I have a feeling that it was placed here since the river is near the Fox River.  What was really cool about this is that this art work is made from all bicycle parts.  I mean how does an artist get an idea to take bicycle and turn it into a work of art?  Strange how people’s minds work, but I guess that is how we humans are.

This tower is called The James H. and Joann N. Collins Tower.  Last time I was in St. Charles I tried getting to the top of the tower, but sadly it was closed due to the fact that it was winter.  So I was able to get up there this time without any trouble.

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On top of the tower.  Janessa thinks she is being funny by giving me the bunny ears.

We went to a little forest preserve in the park.  While we were over here, I noticed that Sean Calkins was very comfortable in the preserve.  We soon figured out why

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So next time you see a red head feeling really comfortable in a preserve, then there must me a Wild Ginger plant nearby.

Caught up with some of the members today as well.

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The Parkers are doing really well.  Isabelle (pictured to my right) is still afraid of me for some reason.  We made fun of her since she isn’t afraid of a 7’2 kid but she is afraid of a 6’5 kid.  Maybe next time I see her, she won’t be so scared.  Mary is doing well, she is still trying to get baptized soon.  So maybe I will be back soon to see it.

Ran into trouble today.  Kathy Anderson (pictured to the right of me) is one of a few people that can get me off gaurd.  She was making fun of me since the first day I arrived to Chicago.  She is still that way and she still makes fun of me for that first day.  Its ok though because I can make fun of her for just as many things.

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Kathy Anderson is on the left. The camera seemed to have a problem when the picture was taken.

Finally saw the Secrist today as well.  The family is still rocking and it was great to play with Adam, Jacob and Emma.  They were full of life and energy and their smiles were contagious.  Really enjoyed seeing them again.  Over all an awesome day.  To bad it was my last day in St. Charles and tomorrow we leave to go to La Porte, Indiana.  Lets see how those adventures turn out.Image

The Secrist family

Memories, flashbacks, and wisdom

Today was Sunday and boy this was a flood of memories today.  I have to say that I have never been so overwhelmed in my life on trying to catch up with everyone in St. Charles and the Geneva ward.  I think it was the one time were I wish I was the super hero Multiple Man.  I mean it would have made it so much easier to talk to everyone.  However, I was able to get the job done and be able to talk to everyone.  The time spent was wonderful and hearing what was going on was amazing.  To hear the stories that they all had since the last time I saw them all (which was only about six months ago).  Even though it was a short amount of time since the last time we talked it seemed like they had just as many adventures like I had.

So I learned something today from a very wise member today.  It was one of those lessons that you hear a lot growing up about, but it doesn’t mean much to you until you are older.  Yea it was like that.  I was walking around the church building making my round talking to people when I ran into the very wise man.  I don’t remember his name, but lets call him Ray.  I was catching up with Ray and we started to talk about how things where going in my life.  I told him the usually stuff of how I am studying at BYU-Idaho and how school was.  We then went from that subject to how the world seems to be just doing what the cool thing was these days.  Just how people don’t tend to question things and they just accept what they have.  As Ray listened to me he stopped me and said “Jacob, the world might just be following the crowds these days, but it doesn’t mean all of us  follow them.  In fact, people who tend to question things are usually the ones who are always the thinkers.  They tend to do the thing that is logical instead of just doing things because everyone is doing it.  Its a good thing that you question so much because with the questioning comes the learning experience of a life time.  You learn more and you tend to notice things more if you question things.  You also learn from others mistakes so that you yourself don’t repeat those mistakes.  So keep questioning because you are learning something as you question.”  So it made me think about it and I have to say that the old man was right.  I tend to learn a lot of things as I question things.  Maybe this is how our founding fathers thought when they were finding America.  I serious wish I had taken a picture of this man, but I totally forgot to take out my camera.  Maybe I will be able to see this man next time and take the photo.  Which might not be for like another couple of years.

When church ended, I went over to visit a couple of families that I wasn’t able to talk to at church.  The first was the Hohmans.

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This photo describes the family in more ways then you all can imagine.

The Hohmans are doing well.  For those of you who followed my mission emails, Johnny is still be Johnny.  He is living life the way he sees fit in his life at this time.  It was fun being here because it was like being home again.  The memories that we had and the funny stories, they were all great.  It seems like nothing has changed here in this family.

The Wolcotts were next.  Boy that was a trip to remember.

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Brother Wolcott (pictured far left) was the first one to find me at church today.  I totally thought that by not wearing a suit and a name tag reading Elder Lee that I thought that I would be unnoticed.  I thought that my tan would keep me hidden as well.  However, he spotted me as soon as he walked in the chapel and gave me the smile of “ha I win.  Better luck hiding next time.”  Challenge accepted brother Wolcott.  Next time you won’t be able to find me that easy.  Maybe it would have helped had I had not told so many people that I was coming back.  Oh well, it will be a fun game to play when I come back to visit.  The Wolcotts are doing great as well.  The kids are still fun and crazy like most kids and that is something that is hard to forget.  The kids might want to control themselves or else there dating life will be filled with stories to tell there dates and we all know how that feels when those stories start to come out.  It ends with us being tomato red by the time its over.

Finally the Deems

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The Deems are doing great as well.  Trevor (pictured left) has grown his sword collection since the last time we meet.  He only had three swords last time now he has seven.  The one that you see over his shoulder is his new baby.  He just got it recently and he aloud me to hold it.

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Had to examine it like they would in the olden days.

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Then I took my photo of how I would have looked like back in the day holding this bad boy.  Minus the twenty-first century clothing.  I think I would have been a stud back in the day with this sword.

After that I called it a night because I was tired.  However, it wasn’t until now that I discovered that my flash was turned off this entire time.  Someone messed with my flash of my camera and I just fixed it.  Hopefully the photos will be better now.

Hello Dixon, Illinois!

A lot of you might be a little confused about why I am talking about Dixon, Illinois when my last blog post talked about being in Chicago.  Well, when I lived in Illinois from 2011-2013 I lived in a small little town called Byron, Illinois.  It’s a little town of a population of 3,700.  It was interesting living there and being a missionary for six months, but I had some amazing experiences there and meet some really cool people there.  I just only wish I had time to see them all today.

The first family that I saw was the Galster family in Byron.  It was fun catching up with them and seeing how much they all have grown up since the last time I was there.  We talked and caught up and enjoyed the time with them.  After seeing them, we went over and say the Johnson family.

ImageThe famous photo that every missionary takes at this house when they leave the area.  Have to keep tradition alive right?

After the Galster’s we went over to the Johnson’s.  We were catching up with them and seeing how they were since the last time I was there.  They suprissed me when they pulled a cake out and started to sing happy birthday to my sister.  Yes, today was my sisters birthday and we were going to celebrate it in Chicago later this week, but this was a supprise to all of us.  I guess Jordan Johnson had been in contact with one of my sister’s roommate from college and told her to make her a cake.  So we were able to sing happy birthday to my sister and she was able to eat a cake for her birthday.

ImageLook at the birthday girl.

Ran into some converts that I taught while I was in Forreston, Illinois.  It was wonderful to see how much they have all grown since the last time I saw them.  I didn’t recognize them when I got up to the house, but luckly they were in the same boat as well.  Caught up and they are all doing great.

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Now lets talk about Dixon.  Dixon is not that well known to most Americans.  Well at least to my knowledge it seems that way.  It should be a better known place because if there is anything to be known about this town its were President Ronald Reagan was raised for three years of his life.  In fact, his childhood house is in that town and is a historical monument.  Reagan and his family moved to the house around 1920 and he considered it to be his childhood home growing up.  I wasn’t able to get a full tour of the house, but just seeing the house was cool enough to me.  I mean its not everyday that you get to go see a President’s house in a town that he considered to be home.  So maybe you are in a little sleepy town of Dixon, Illinois, maybe just maybe you can go see were President Ronald Reagan grew up.

ImageRonald Reagan’s statue right next to the house.

ImageThe President’s childhood house.