Neeley Ops

Family Letter March 2016

One of the great traditions I inherited when I married Amanda has been family letters. Amanda’s relatives on her father’s side of the family have lived all across the country but have always managed to stay close. Each family writes a monthly letter and sends a copy to her aunt, who copies them and sends the set of letters out to all members of the family. They’ve been doing this since long before Facebook.

As the family has grown, the ‘family letters’ distribution list has grown to include all of the married cousins and their families. The letters get sent to each cousin when they have served missions for the church, and to the college students away from home. Of course, all of these people are encouraged to write as well!

For my children, reading these letters is a highlight of the month. We usually dedicate a Monday evening to reading them as part of our Family Home Evening activities. We know all the authors personally thanks to bi-annual family reunions. These started about twenty years ago, and have taken place all over the country. Most recently we went to Yellowstone National Park, but previously we’ve been to Colorado Springs, New York City, Cedar City, and Pineview Reservoir. The letters keep us connected to each other in between these crazy events.

I tried writing a family letter years ago, but it was struck down by the editing committee. This year I’ve decided writing a monthly letter is a great minimum standard for journaling.

Dear Family,

Jill has been actively engaged in two theater groups. The first is a musical revue at her school called ‘Broadway Kids’. She gets up early four days a week for practice, and coupled with flute practice, she stays after school three days a week. Jill will be singing songs from several different broadway musicals, including ‘King and I’. I found this interesting because my mother talked about being in ‘King and I’ when she was a youth.

Thankfully, Broadway Kids will wrap up about the same time that ‘Up with Kids’ gets really busy. This second group runs the length of the school year, with once a week practices. The members are from all over the community. This year, they are doing a mixed up version of Aladdin. One of the goals is for every member to have a speaking part. We hope Jill knows her lines!

Ben has been attending pre-school in the neighborhood. He can write his own name. He also attends speecch school once a week. We haven’t enrolled him in any extra-curricular activities as of yet. He loves to play with cars and watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He just turned five.

Jon started crawling. C-r-a-w-l-i-n-g. Except much faster than that. He has also started pulling himself up on couches and things. I had forgotten what it was like to have a crawler in the house. Thankfully, we’ve just kept the cabinet locks in place even though Ben was never terribly curious about getting into them (though he has since made up for that).

Amanda recieved a potted orchid last year. It had one large blossom, then went seemingly dormant for a year. But now it has five smaller blossoms, and there are several more buds. It’s in the kitchen windowsill, right where I do the dishes. She told me she had heard that orchids were rather difficult to care for, and several times we had wondered if it was dead. But it sure is pretty to look at now. Amanda keeps several low maintance plants in our front room.

We had a special sacrament meeting in February where I was released as the second counselor in the bishopric of our ward after just 18 months. The following Sunday was stake conference, where I was sustained as the first counselor in the Stake Young Men’s presidency. What I find most interesting about this change is that it seems that I am following a particular trio of boys as they grow up. I was their eleven year old scout leader, then I was in Deacon’s quorum with them every week as a bishopric member, and now as they are turning 14 and becoming teachers, I will still get to attend their quorum meetings somewhat regularly, in addition to meeting a whole heap of new young men.

During presidency meeting today, I was told that family comes first and it’s OK to not be to everything. After all, there’s a potential for 18 different summer camps (6 wards, 3 units each), quarterly courts of honor, Sunday quorum visits, weekly youth nights, stake youth dances, firesides, roundtable, and the list goes on. Pretty much all of those things that Gerry has been writing about for the last several years. With that spinning around in my head, I went to be set apart, where I was promised that this calling will strengthen my marriage. With God all things are possible to them that believe!

We hope you are all doing well, and we really appreciate these family letters. Thanks for diligently recording and sharing. We took our family to RootsTech Family Discovery Day, and also heard talks about family history in church all last month. Recording the now is every bit as important as researching the past. I love to go into Family Search and read the stories of our ancestors that are posted there. Imagine our posterity being able to glean from years and years of family letters with the tap of a finger. No pressure, right? We love you for who you are and are so glad to be with you when we can.


Dave, Amanda, Jill, Ben, and Jon