Friday, April 11, 2014

Serendipity when Traveling

We are in Salt Lake City where Jim has a Dead Sea Scrolls conference for two days.  I was happy enough to come here but really was looking forward to the days after the conference when we plan to go to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

However, today has been full of unplanned good things.  First, I had forgotten how the mountains dominate Salt Lake City.  They are still covered with snow and are beautiful.  Snow is in the distance, but tulips and pansies and hyacinths are at our feet in the beautiful gardens of Temple Square.

My seat-mate on the plane said that the geneology museum was amazing so we decided to take a quick look at what is called the Family History Library in Temple Square.  After warm greetings from Mormon volunteers, we watched a short video, were directed to a computer and were given instruction on how to go about finding information.  I decided to see if I could find out anything about my grandmother Anna Rietmeyer.  I knew nothing about her other than that she was not an immigrant but was born in Grand Rapids, unlike most of our other grandparents.  Within 15 minutes, I had her parents' names, her marriage record to my grandfather, her occupation as a domestic, as well as his parents' names--all of which I had not heard before.  So now there is one more goal for my retirement--a bit more searching into these names of the past.

I was sorry to see that the noon hour organ recital in the famous tabernacle was moved to the Conference Center, but it was not a disappointment after all.  The organ was another  impressive instrument and the organist gave us a recital of works ranging from a Sousa march to improvisations on hymn tunes to Vierne.  He came down from his perch to chat afterwards to the few of us who went forward and that too was very interesting.  He converted to Mormonism after "reading and much prayer" because of friends at a conservatory in Philadelphia.   I told him I have a recurring nightmare of sitting down to such an organ instead of our own small two manual organ and having to cope.  He said his recurring nightmare is similar but instead having to play for a service with no time for preparation even if he is used to five manuals and hundreds of options.

I assume the dozens of greeters I met this morning--most of them my age--were also volunteers doing their service for the church.

So there is still dinner this evening, a keynote address at the conference, and a reception--none of which has me very excited.  But who knows?  It may be as surprisingly good as the rest of the day has been.

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