Yes, the moment I know you've ALL been waiting for...
the final blog post about our trip!
sometimes I suck at blogging...
But this last part of our trip wasn't the most "fun" or "exciting"
but it was probably my favorite.
Our final stretch took us west to Asheville and Weaverville,
Phil's last areas on his mission.
There he met the Dimsha family-
Donna had been an active member for a long time, Calvin was atheist.
Calvin had been diagnosed with cancer,
and had just gotten news that it was terminal
and he only had a few months to live.
The missionaries came over for dinner.
Phil said he could tell something was wrong, and they asked.
They told the missionaries the news,
and Calvin basically said he had nothing to lose.
He agreed to meet with the missionaries and hear their message.
Over the next few weeks/months, Calvin's health quickly deteriorated,
but he continued to meet with the missionaries, and was becoming converted.
There were many miracles of healing and witnesses of Calvin's faith,
but his faith was ultimately tested in accepting that he was going to die,
but he was going to trust God anyway.
Phil baptized him on the very last week of his mission
and a few weeks later, Calvin died.
Needless to say,
I was very excited to meet Donna and hear her version of the story.
We started out touring around the town trying to find Phil's apartment.
We first ran into a park he had lived by,
so we knew we were close.
We drove past the mailboxes he had crashing his car into.
And there they were!
Elder Home. In all it's Southern glory.
Apparently there was a sweet car parked behind this fence back in the day.
It wasn't there anymore.
Phil remembered this one
because one of his companions had wanted to go running on the trail around this park.
Phil didn't, obviously.
But he agreed to ride his bike while his companion ran.
And it hurt like the dickens.
So we arrived at the Dimsha home,
and Donna took us to Bojangles.
Then we ate, and sat and talked about Calvin.
It's hard to do justice to this part of our trip.
What a sweet woman, who still, after five years,
has such a sweet relationship with my husband.
Just an appreciation and gratitude for his role in her husband's conversion.
She told her version of Calvin's experience,
from the beginning of their marriage up to now.
How he had been offended by God early in his life and become atheist.
How patient she had been when he wouldn't let her be endowed.
When she had to miss her own son's sealing.
When he considered her religion "her hobby"
And then how she saw him change as he realized he could lose his family.
And how he recognized that if there was even the slightest chance
he could have them forever, he was going to give it a shot.
How sure she was that his was not death-bed repentance.
How sweet it was, after his baptism,
for him to receive the priesthood and bless the sacrament in their home.
And his final moments in their home.
And for him to die, and for her to have peace.
And her being sealed to him by proxy.
And the experiences she'd had with him since then,
of him letting her know that he would be with her forever.
And the journal entry she found just a few months ago
(which she gave us a copy of)
where he had written about having missionaries over to visit
and why he finally agreed to listen to them that one time.
Needless to say, there were many tears in that living room
as she shared their story with us.
Many details that even Phil didn't know.
Such a testament to missionary work.
The the Lord can prepare people to hear the message
in the exact way that they need,
and he can prepare missionaries to share the message
in the exact way that they need.
So they can be with their families forever.
It made me love my husband a little more,
and appreciate that he went on a mission.
Topped off with chocolate ice cream.
The next day we hit up the Biltmore Estate,
one of North Carolina's only tourist attractions.
Can I just say, HOLY CRAP?!!?
Pictures don't do it justice.
Look it up, seriously.
You're not allowed to take pictures inside.
But Phil forgot and accidentally captured this one.
Yep, evidence of Batman in the early 1900's.
Of all the incredible things in that house.
The gardens were beautiful!
This tree was in the gift shop, and I wanted it so bad!
It has little styrofoam balls at the base
that shoot up the middle and fall down the tree like snow!
Then we did the tour of the winery,
where we saw this priceless car -
don't ask me what it is, but it's the only one that exists today
On the tour we were offered to taste the wine.
It was actually the first time I'd ever been handed alcohol!
I totally could have drunk it if I wanted to!
Weird. Too bad I'm Mormon. :)
So yes, the Biltmore day was a CRAZY success!
We ended the day up at this mining place,
where they let us pan for gems.
Phil was getting very invested.
We ended up with some raw but pretty emeralds and rubies,
so now we're trying to find a way to get them finished
and set into some jewelry.
Just thought this was funny.
After the Batman experience.
That night was spent relaxing with the Dimsha's.
We invented a new game, like "fieldgoal"
but with water bottles.
You space the two at any distance apart you want,
and you have to slide the third bottle down the table and in between them
WITHOUT touching the two.
These pictures are not staged. This actually happened.
I won. :)
Donna, Allison, and Phil.
Blurry, but she's one of my favorites!
On our way back to the airport,
we made a stop to say hi to Calvin.
And Phil's house in Weddington.
Which, you can't tell by his place,
but is one of the richest areas in the country, apparently.
Flying home in the sunset.
Las Vegas, angry with the car at AutoZone.
We made it home safe!
Best trip ever!
I truly hope we get to see these people again!