Monday, December 27, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

 


2021 was a Fabulous one for the Hilton Clan

This year was filled with happy times-- some were blessings straight from heaven, some were from rolling with the punches, and some were from seizing the opportunity presented. A few family highlights include: intense rounds of Bang and Great Dalmuti; Tamaki, Hot Pot and Traeger grill meals at home; star gazing and cliff jumping in Lake Powell; learning old love songs and classy ballroom dance routines then performing them for grandparent’s anniversary; fun in the rivers of water in the street after a huge downpour; hot tubbing; biking; kayaking at Deer Creek; high ropes course at Aspen Grove; buffalo burgers in North Dakota; butterbeer at Harry Potter World; spider monkeys sitting on our heads; visiting ancient Mayan ruins; Redwoods; Mt. Rushmore.

Levi (20) – Serving and teaching the people of the Georgia Atlanta North Mission! Witnessing of Jesus Christ and being a part of miracles--amazing! Write to him at john.hilton@missionary.org  He returns home in August.

Annemarie (19) – Enjoying fun college life as a BYU freshman. Smart in chemistry and everything else. Has meals provided but still bakes in the dorm basement; National AP Scholar; Nelson Scholar; We miss her! Planning on departing on an 18-month mission shortly. A delight.

Maria (17) – Chamber and A Capella choir, is loved at her work--a retirement center, 3rd year in a row FCCLA nationals; Homecoming court; budding photographer; literature analyst. Ready for college next year, but we aren’t ready for her to go—she is seriously wonderful.

Joseph (15) – Kind brother! 2nd place in his tennis league; several magic shows with John; humanitarian trip to Guatemala with Lani during Thanksgiving week; 50-mile back packing trip to Kings Peak; church history trip with John.  Hard worker.

Katrina (12) – Fun sister; read Lord of the Rings & the Work and the Glory series; honored for high academic achievement at 6th grade graduation; reads imaginative stories. She is awesome.

Rebekah (8) – Went 100 days without sugar for $100; sang a short solo at her baptism; earned two 1st place awards in Irish dance; excited to get a retainer; fast runner, held a sloth in Honduras; wrote a 3-page persuasive essay on why she should have a dog, still no dog, but she is persuasive.

Lani- Planning for and celebrating her parents 50th wedding anniversary! So great to honor their incredible lives, their commitment to each other and to Jesus Christ! Zip line roller coaster in Puerta Vallarta with John; Brought children to Mt. Rushmore, the Redwoods, and San Francisco!

John- Published Considering the Cross, all about feeling love and connection with Jesus Christ through his death. Lani says it is the best thing he has ever written! Received an award for his research and for his book published last year The Founder of Our Peace.

Some of our favorite titles of Jesus Christ: Savior (Maria) The High Priest of good things to come (Levi) Alpha and Omega (John) Lamb of God (Rebekah) Omnipotent One (Joseph) Prince of Peace (Annemarie) Advocate (Lani) The Good Shepherd (Katrina). Through all the turmoil and uncertainty of the world it is a miracle to feel peace and stability through Jesus Christ. We are so grateful for this. We BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST and HIS POWER TO SAVE. Life is SO good when we LOOK to the Savior for the HOPE and LOVE that only He can give!   

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Love, John and Lani Hilton family


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

 2020 Year in Review the Hilton Family 1.0


If you're reading these words, it's most likely because you sent us a Christmas Card and we wanted to respond to you right away. Unfortunately, we haven't made a "real" card yet, or come up with "cute" things to say. But last year I (John) saved Christmas cards thinking I would respond to each one individually, but sadly that never happened. So this year, I'm not procrastinating--I'm responding to cards as they come in. But that means that those of you who were "early" with cards (early by my definition = before Dec. 25) you may have to put up with this 1.0 update.

John III is doing great! He published the book The Founder of our Peace and has enjoyed making weekly Come Follow Me videos focused on Jesus Christ (be notified when they come out each week).  

Lani is just as awesome as ever! She is an amazing wife, mom, homemaker and substitute seminary teacher. She loves all of these roles and is looking forward to 2021!

Elder Hilton is serving in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission and having incredible experiences. He sends spirit-filled letters each week and is working hard to bring people closer to Jesus Christ.

Annemarie is in her senior year and applying to colleges. Her high school has only met twice a week in person, which has led to her working 25 hours a week (on top of 5 AP/College classes). Go Annemarie!

Maria is loving being in leadership at her high school and being a mother's help (both in our home and in other people's). She's now driving and is doing great.

Joseph sets high goals in multiple areas and achieves them. Recently he memorized the Family Proclamation, The Living Christ, and the Restoration Proclamation. He also beats dad in ping pong.

Katrina is a light to the world. She is smart, funny, kind and loving. She enjoys tumbling and reading (but not at the same time).

Rebekah has been nominated by a former Jerusalem Center student as being a prime example of Christlike love. We couldn't agree more!

2020 wasn't the year we thought it would be, but we are so grateful for Jesus Christ. Because of him, we have hope--for today, tomorrow, and into the eternities!



Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019




2019 Year in Review in Numbers for the Hilton Family

42 # of bison we saw as we entered Yellowstone; 5 # of kittens the kids wished they could have taken home but didn’t;  2 # of exchange students we get to have spend the school year with us and we love; 16 # of car repairs paid for; 9 # of hours we survived in Bejing without water, food or local currency;
6 # of miles daily walking average on hot summer days in China and 25 # of scriptures recited while walking;   3 # of weeks the kids enjoyed the above ground pool before it turned green; 5 # of hours building snow forts;   30 # of breathtaking hikes; 2 # of cousins serving valiant missions; 1 # of hikes we did not freeze on while at Bryce Canyon; 15 # of times the kids rode Sea World Manta; 1 # of entire New Testaments read; 6 # of sand dunes ran down with cold feet; 1 # of raccoons trapped!

3 # of weeks Levi (18) avoided being “shot” during senior assassin game making it to the top ten;
475 # of pounds Levi can dead lift; 50 # of hours Levi spent preparing for Utah Sterling Scholar before coming in 2nd in State; 1.5 # of semesters Levi has been living at BYU.

24 # of recipes Annemarie (17) cooked for us and we loved; 80 # of practice driving hours prior to her license; 4 # of Rock Climbing ventures; 51,634 # of words Annemarie wrote during novel writing November; 3.5 # of days spent in Guadalarja; 6# AP classes she loves; #1 hardest working employee at Malawi’s Pizza.

1 # of sea turtles Maria (15) snorkeled by in Turtle bay; 1 # Maria’s Parli Pro FCCLA team placed then went to nationals in Anaheim; 45 # of dolphins she saw; 1 # of earthquakes she felt; 1 # of church history tours she assisted on; 9 # of hours weekly on violin & piano; 1000 # of good deeds she does.

450 # of college students Joseph (13) reported his research to;  0 # of varsity tennis matches lost;
18 # of pages of knowledge bowl facts memorized, and meals he assisted on; 1# of flag football games lost;    60 # of min most days on the piano; 1# of light fixtures he installed; 3# of languages he is learning

1# of fire sticks Katrina (10) twirled for an audience without being burned; 300 # minimum amount of books Katrina read; 200 minimum # of flips she did; 100 minimum # of funny voices she made; 6 # of hours she swims in a pool without getting tired; 3 # of hymns she can play; 2 # of outfits she prefers.

200 # of love notes Rebekah (6) wrote & delivered; 12 # of laughing outbursts she can have in 1minute; 17 # of minutes she practices the piano most days; 1000 # of minutes swinging in the back yard.

2 # of times Lani vomited after skydiving with John in Hawaii; 25 # of people at her family’s sibling retreat;   19 # of ski runs she loved; 1 # of books John authored and will be publishing Spring 2020.
Hundreds # of people John amazed with magic tricks, # times Lani and John were amazed by their children; # of youth & adults Lani taught; # of students John inspired; # of Chinese characters the kids each know; # of chores complained about but done; Countless  # of meals cooked that kids rejected;  # of messes made; # of frustrating or disappointing moments; # of joyous moments; # of blessings received 
Fun actual words said: “I am not arguing, I am just telling you why I am right.”  “I don’t make mean looks it is just the way I look.” To a younger cousin: “Oh, 3 was one of the best years of my life, well actually so was 4 and 5 (pause) and 6 (and then she giggles).”
We find joy in the peace and hope the Savior, Jesus Christ brings! We hope you do to! We rejoice in His Birth!  John 3:16!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Love, The Hilton Family

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An Interesting Morning at the Dome of the Rock

On Sunday May 13, Lani and I went to the Dome of the Rock with the other faculty members and service couples of the Jerusalem Center. We were excited to go inside of the Dome of the Rock with a special tour guide (usually it is closed to non-Muslims).





While we were on the grounds we noticed a group of Orthodox Jews walking around, accompanied by armed police. This was frustrating to our Palestinian guide who wondered why they felt a need to disrupt the worship of Muslims, who hold the area surrounding the Dome of the Rock to be sacred. All of this more complicated by the fact that May 13 was "Jerusalem Day" a controversial holiday that celebrates Jerusalem coming into Israeli control (one can see that while it's a holiday for Israel, it's a huge loss for Palestine).



We got to tour the inside of the Dome of the Rock and it was beautiful. The main feature inside the dome is a large rock, traditionally thought to be where Abraham sacrificed Isaac, and the spot where Solomon's temple stood. This would also have been the spot of the temple in the time of Christ, and is the traditional location of Muhammad's night journey. A lot of history took place here!



We got to go under the rock as well and enjoyed seeing the rock from that vantage point.



As we were going around taking pictures, our guide started to tell us to hurry. We could hear some kind of commotion outside and as we exited the building we could hear chanting outside. While it was not immediately clear what was happening, it seemed like there was some type of altercation between the Jews we had seen previously and Muslim worshipers.

We were told to leave the complex immediately, thus eliminating our tour of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was our second stop for the morning. I was sorely tempted to walk 20 yards over to where I could get a much better view of the shouting, but did not. Before we got home I found this headline on the Jerusalem Post:



If you watch the video, you'll hear exactly what we were hearing...we were within a rock's throw of it all...As explained in the article, some of the Jews who were there broke the law by worshiping in that area and were called out for it (one was arrested). I was disappointed that such an unnecessary provocation took place.

From the headline and the picture it might seem like the world was about to end. But I want to point out another observation from the morning.

Although we hurried out of the Dome of the Rock complex area, we noticed about 10 minutes later our guide was back at the entrance starting another tour with a new group of tourists. In other words, there was no permanent disruption and anybody who arrived 10 minutes later would have never been aware of the altercation. This taught me something about how news is sometimes packaged and reported. The headline is obviously meant to grab and hold attention -- a person in America reading this news story may have walked away thinking, "Wow, there is a lot of violence there," when actually it was a very safe place to be that Sunday morning.

In any event, we really appreciated the opportunity to tour this sacred spot. That afternoon we drove up with our family to another favorite destination -- the beach! It felt like we were in a completely different world from where we had been that morning...












Friday, May 11, 2018

To the Red Sea


Our trip to the Red Sea (Eliat) got off to an unusual start! As we were driving down the road, I was talking to my children about how this was possibly the route that Nephi and his family would have taken on their way to the wilderness and how cool it was that basically all of 1 Nephi 1-16 potentially takes place along the route that we were going to be on and/or our destination points (e.g., Jerusalem and the Red Sea). About 1 hour into our journey we got to a check point and found out that because of a flash flood they had closed the road to Eliat! There was an alternate road, but we would have to go all the way back to Jerusalem!!!

I was really cranky! Seriously? We have to drive an hour back? We wasted our time and money going this way? Why didn’t we figure this out before we left!? We could all feel a lot of sympathy for Laman and Lemuel! Their situation was a lot more dire than ours was!

So we drove back to Jerusalem and took a new route to Eliat. We traveled about 3 hours only to find out that this second road was also closed. Ahhhh! It just so happened that this was by a really famous crater so we visited the crater and took some time there. Great views.





There was one other road that could be taken to Eliat, it required another hour of backtracking. Altogether, the trip that should have been 3.75 hours was 7.25 – but the kids were for the most part really happy and kind on the drive, so it was pleasant.

The next morning we went to the Coral Beach National Park and went snorkeling. We were there all day and it went well. Everybody went out snorkeling several times except for Rebekah. The fish were really cool, it was a nice beach and a great, relaxing day. The area is naturally beautiful and it was fun to be there. 











That evening we went back to our apartment and the youngest 4 kids swam in the pool.  Lani, Levi and I went and saw the new Avengers movie, while the older 5 children watched “Pete’s Dragon.” I was starting to get a little nervous about scuba diving…



The next morning, Lani and the younger three kids went to an aquarium, while the three older kids and I went to a scuba diving lesson. We had the indoor lesson then drove out to the Red Sea for our confined water swim and open water swim. For the confined water swim we basically practiced techniques like breathing underwater, clearing our mask, etc. but it was really cool, because there were several fish right where we were. Compared to the confined dive that would usually take place at a swimming pool, this was awesome.


Then we went out and swam by the coral. I didn’t have anything to be nervous about. Everything was fine – including my ears, which sometimes hurt underwater. We saw incredible fish. Large, beautiful colorful ones, tiny jelly fish, schools of bright orange fish. It was fun to be completely underwater and have a new experience. Sadly, no pics of the scuba diving...but it was better than the snorkeling!

Altogether it was a 4 hour experience, start to finish. Lani picked us up and we started the drive home. We stopped by a national park that is a drive through safari, which was pretty fun. Some ostriches came right up to our window. The roads were all open and we had a much quicker drive back to Jerusalem than our trip to Eliat had been.




All in all it was a great trip to the Red Sea. Now our family has been to the Med, the Dead, and the Red!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Celebrating Lent

Growing up I didn’t know very much about Lent, and it wasn’t part of my religious practice. But a few weeks ago, while talking with Father Fergus, currently a Franciscan Friar at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, he said that one of his favorite celebrations at the church takes place on the first Saturday of Lent. That got me thinking more about Lent and whether it was something that I should participate in.

After hours of research consulting a few websites and asking my friends on Facebook, I decided that it would be great to participate. One trusted friend told me that he has found his Easter to be much more meaningful as a result of Lent. A friend that I haven’t talked with in years shared that recently she has begun “doing a new good thing” for Lent instead of “stopping a bad thing.” I chose to go in this direction for Lent and have been having a good experience so far.

I also made arrangements to go with many other people, including Lani, five of our children, Scott and Karen Smith, and many BYU students. It was great to participate in the event, and much sweeter to be participating with so many people that I love and enjoy being with.


This was one of the first times I’ve heard the organ music playing. It was beautiful! The ceremony began with an entrance of the Bishop, who went into the holy sepulcher, and then into the chapel. Afterwards, there was a procession around the church where we essentially did the stations of the cross. Everybody received candles, and although the service was in Latin I was able to grasp bits and pieces. Altogether it was nearly two hours and our kids did great! Afterwards we all got to visit with Father Fergus and enjoyed doing that.





I think practicing Lent will become an ongoing part of my discipleship in the future!

Here's a video link to the procession if you're interested in watch more. The first couple minutes is of the initial entrance of the Bishop, towards the end is part of the stations of the cross while in chapel of Helena (I'd never seen it so bright), and the final part as we all walked around the aedicule. 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Egypt Highlights

Egypt was incredible! We'll let pictures tell most of the story:



Inside one of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings.


Driving in a horse-drawn carriage to see the Luxor temple at night. Too bad Levi is allergic to horses, that put a damper on the magic.

Sailing on the Nile heading to our camel ride. Spending time with these amazing students was an incredible highlight of the whole trip.


Annemarie riding a camel in Egypt!


Magnificent overlook of the Giza pyramid.


Same overlook!


At Sakkara in front of the step pyramid.


This is the big one! Feel the majesty of the Giza pyramid...the only of the ancient seven wonders of the world that still exists!



One of my favorite pictures -- Sphinx + pyramids + great kids == awesomeness.

There were some very interesting mummies at the Egypt Museum. Most could not be photographed, but this one was an exception.



The Karnak temple was truly incredible!


More Karnak Temple!


Enjoying good times at the Luxor temple evening tour


Incredible sites were everywhere to be seen! This is the Colossae of Memnon.


At the temple of Queen Hapshepsut.



After a joyful camel ride in Luxor.


Did I mention that we loved hanging out the amazing BYU students?


One highlight of our time in Cairo was visiting a mosque.


Thanks for the amazing memories Egypt!