Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spine Tingling and Eye Watering Adventures

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our third week in the Arizona , Gilbert mission started out rather normally.   We were in the office by a few ,minutes after 8 a.m. and following our morning devotional where the missionaries in the office gather round the worktop seen in the picture below, we all got down to our various tasks and kept busy most of the day.   As the missionaries continue their transition from working with Elder and Sister Evans to working with us, both Elder Ashton and I get more requests from the missionaries.
We stopped on our way to the office to drop off bedding supplies at the storage space.....and now that it is my responsibility to put together bedding packets, I wish I had paid a little more attention to what Sister Goldade did in the Virginia Chesapeake mission.   I did get one packet put together and will put the other six packets together on Monday, May 30.   I'm already starting to gather materials for the packets that will need to be put together in July.  This  assignment might be a good thing or the budget - I'll get to do so much shopping for bedding packets and our home remodel that I won't have any desire to shop for anything else!

You might notice goodies sitting on top of the worktable.   There is an older man who works in the Mesa Temple a couple of mornings a week.   The other mornings he still gets up early and he likes to bake so at least once a week he brings us treat.   Sometimes it is home-made bread, sometimes it is pizza rolls, sometimes it is cinnamon rolls.   This week it was Jalapeno bread (wholewheat bread with pieces of Jalapeno) and Cinnamon Rolls.   Of course I chose the cinnamon rolls and they were so yummy!

Prior to going to the office on Tuesday and Thursday morning, I have been trying to get to the gym for 45 minutes to an hour.   Any of you who know how I love my sleep know that it is NOT my favorite thing to do, but seeing scenes of nature like the one below almost make it worthwhile :)

A ball of fire rising in the Eastern sky.

Tuesday morning as we stood around the work table for the morning devotional, I got a case of the shivers.   Elder and Sister Partridge, Elder Ashton and me and the Assistants to the President along with a third elder who is working with them right now joined in with us as we sang.   We were singing "Nearer My God to Thee" and when the voices of those three young Elders joined in it gave me the chills......The thought passed through my mind - here we are with two senior couples originally from various states in the U.S., and Elder from Arizona, one from Sweden, and one from New Zealand, all singing and praising our one loving Heavenly Father.    I could hardly keep singing as I listened to their clear strong voices blending with our older ones and felt the love Heavenly Father has for each one of his children!

We are trying to move the remodeling project along when we have time.   This week we accomplished some demolition in the evenings and made it "almost there" in making a decision about kitchen cabinets and a contractor to do the tiling and painting.

Making progress on the demolition of the pantry cupboard in the kitchen.

Doors, dividers, wall, and shelves removed.

Trash from the demolition and food on the floor in pullout shelves.   You might say we are kind of camping out in our home ;-)

Prepping for the main bathroom demolition

Partial main bathroom demolition

On Thursday we had quite a few missionaries in the office making preparations for upcoming meetings and transfers.   President Lowder (counselor to President Nattress) even popped in for awhile :)

I received a call from one of the Elders this past week asking me if he and his companion could have a Spanish copy of the Missionary Handbook.   I told him of course--if we had any.   I knew I had a few on order but didn't know if we had any in the office.   I got up from my desk and went over to the shelf where we keep those in a little basket.   The top one had a white cover on it, so I couldn't tell if it was Spanish or not.  I opened it up and was surprised to see that it had and MTC Standards card in the I turned to the back.....

...And was even more surprised to see that this particular handbook BELONGED TO ME!!!   I lost this handbook while I was in the MTC and never called to get it replaced. As you can see from the date, it was signed by me on October 27, 2014 and my release date shows as April 2016.   I asked a couple of people in the office and also Elder Ashton if they had any idea how that got to the Arizona Gilbert Mission office and in our supply basket.   No one had any idea!!!!   I have decided this was a special message to me from Heavenly Father and the Savior to let me know that they know exactly where I am and what I am doing.....and to remind me of how blessed I am to be able to serve as a missionary !

What a delightful surprise to see this!

This week I started on a new project and will carry it forward after Sister Edman is released at the end of June.   I am putting together a spreadsheet of the baptisms that have occurred in the Arizona Gilbert Mission in the last 2.5 years of the mission.   This mission has lots of baptisms - between 425 and 475 over the last 2.5 years.   And the baptisms come from all age groups and ethnicities.   As I look at the picture sheet that has been created for each baptism and see the smiling faces of missionaries and converts, I am stuck by what a difference one mission - even one missionary- can make in individual lives and in the church population as a whole.

Friday night we attended an activity which was advertised as a dinner event for President Nattress to thank all the 22 Stake Presidents he has worked with her in the mission.   The company and the food were lovely.   Afterward we went into the cultural hall for a group picture.   Above are President Lowder and his wife and a couple of other Sisters along with Sister Nattress (pink jacket)  getting ready to take the picture.

What President and Sister Nattress did not know was that missionaries who had completed service and returned home were invited to come and sing "Called to Serve" (the mission song) for them.   After the group picture the dividing curtain was opened and the returned missionaries broke out in song.   It was emotional to hear and see them and the emotion shared between them and President and Sister Nattress.   There were about 30 missionaries that made the trip from their homes back to Arizona and they were excited to see each other and the President and his wife.

President and Sister Lowder greeting some of the young Sister Missionaries who came to sing and surprise the Natress'.  Note the missionaries hugging stake presidents, Preseident and Sister Nattress,  and each other in the background.  It was a touching and enlightening evening.

Saturday morning we were to leave at 5:30 a.m. to drive to the Snowflake, Az temple where our grandson Levi was getting his endowment prior to leaving on a mission July 6.   I'm not much of a morning person but set my alarm for 4 a.m. so I could get ready in time.   Well, my heart started pounding and I woke right up when I opened the shower door and found the little friend below waiting for me!   I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get him out of the shower and finally took hold of his tail with Elder Ashton's all purpose (McGiver) tool and flushed him away.   What a startling beginning to the morning!


When we arrived at our destination and stepped out of the car we looked around to see our beautiful surroundings (including this flowering tree) and enjoy the cool (63 degrees) air.

What a wonderful morning we had in this beautiful temple.   My heart was full of gratitude as I looked around the room upon entering and noticed half of our children and their spouses there, along with one granddaughter and the soon to be missionary.   Elder Ashton and I are so very blessed to have a GREAT family and I felt so privileged to be in the temple with them! ( Right side -four of our family members sitting outside the temple)

Levi and his Mom and Dad following the session.   I can hardly wait to exchange "missionary emails" with him when he starts serving at the same time we continue to serve.  What a great Saturday we had!

As we returned home from spending time with family this afternoon, I noticed that our Mexican Bird of Paradise is finally starting to bloom nicely - vibrant colors.

And it looks like there are plenty more blooms to come -- lots of buds yet to pop out.

This upcoming week promises to bring more adventures as we experience our first transfer here in Arizona, Gilbert Mission and I attempt to perform my new tasks correctly.   We are missing friends and missionaries in the Virginia Chesapeake mission and I have felt compassion for you as I have kept track of all the rain you have been having.   Now, I ask that you feel compassion for us this week as temperatures are forecast to reach 107 degrees ;-D

We love the work, the missionaries and the opportunity to serve!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Whitewashing Adventure

Sunday, May 22, 2016

When I was in high school (about a 100 years ago) it was tradition to pile old tires on the letter "E" on the hill at the edge of town and burn those tires at homecoming.   It was also tradition that all freshmen class members had to assemble at the "E" at 5 a.m. the next morning and "whitewash" the "E" so it would be pristine and visible again.   That was the only experience I had with "whitewashing", so I was a little surprised when I learned while serving in the Virginia, Chesapeake mission that the term used for moving exiting missionaries from and area and replacing them with all new missionaries is also called "Whitewashing".

We are in our second week of service here in the Arizona, Gilbert Mission and we have just "whitewashed" the office staff.  

Elder and Sister Evans (left) completed their 18 month mission on Tuesday.   Elder Ashton and I are trying to take over their duties.   Elder Ashton is again taking care of cars and bikes, and I am doing Referrals, temple scheduling for missionaries, missionary supplies, bedding for missionaries and will start doing baptisms at the end of June (essentially doing the same functions that Sister Goldade takes care of in Virginia Chesapeake Mission.
Elder and Sister Brown (right) also finished their 18 month mission on Tuesday.   Their responsibilities have been financial tasks and mission secretary.   Elder and Sister Partridge started their mission here in Gilbert, Arizona on Friday, May 13.
It should be interesting to see how we get along with keeping the office running efficiently and then adjust to the inevitable changes that will come with a new mission president who arrives June 30.

For those of you who know Elder Ashton, you may not be surprised to learn that one of his first orders of business is going to be getting all the files and shelves organized.   I will also need to help with that as I am having a hard time locating supplies - particularly pamphlets and pass along cards.   We have a small space to keep all of that (about 7 shelves) to replace all the cupboard space the mission had in Virginia.    I think Elder Ashton and I will have plenty to keep us busy for several weeks.  Monday and Tuesday of the week were spent with last minute training from the Evans and when Wednesday arrived, we were on out own.  I lasted about 3 hours before I had to call Sister Evans and ask her a question.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday interviews were held in different areas of the mission.  Elder Ashton had an opportunity to train at each of those sessions.   I also have an opportunity to talk with the missionaries a little about referrals, baptisms, supplies, etc. but only made it to one of the sessions this past week.....,.busy schedule!

I'm still excited to e home and be seeing the Arizona scenery.   I've started going to the gym early in the morning 3 times a week and enjoy what I see on my sleepy drive there ;-)

Sun rising on a cloudy day

Old Glory against a blue sky with puffy white clouds

A typical Arizona front yard with organ cactus, oleander bush, and bougainvillea 

More bougainvillea and oleander along with a bottle brush tree in the side yard of the same house.

Wednesday we had a furniture delivery scheduled.   I thought it was going to come between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. but it did not so I had to stay back from the training.   The furniture was finally delivered at 4 p.m........first piece of new furniture that will go in our newly remodeled house.   Thursday I stayed at the office in the morning to catch up on some requests from missionaries and Friday I had medical appointments.

At my desk in the mission office on Friday following my appointment for medical tests.  I was really "sweating" the outcome of the tests and now that I am back in Arizona my hair has decided it wants to curl a little more, especially when I perspire.   Elder Ashton would say he has always known I was contrary and I guess my hair is too......I was warned that it would get more curly when I went to Virginia - instead it lost the curl about 2 weeks after I got there.   I thought the curl was all gone, but now that I am back here in Arizona where it should stay straight, it has decided to curl. Pretty crazy:)!  But the very best news - the tests all came back clear!!!   Yea, breathing a big sigh of relief!

I mentioned that we are doing some remodeling on our is a frightful mess and we have been busy trying to clean it out and get it ready for the new flooring, paint, cabinets and counters in every spare minute we have.   We have been busy meeting with contractors to get bids and trying to decide exactly what we want to do about cabinets.  My son and daughter-in-law warned me to expect everything to cost more and take longer than I had true!

Packing boxes waiting to be filled

Starting the demo and tearing out the carpet

Today we had a young man who was just a baby when we moved into the ward report that he has received his mission call to Columbia, South Carolina.   He is really excited to go - the 3rd boy in a family of 4 boys.   It has been great to watch those young men grow up and serve missions - what a great example to other boys in the ward!

I'm loving being at home - cooking in my own kitchen, sleeping in my own bed, and hugging my own grandkids - but find that I am missing my Virginia friends.   I think of you and your kindness to us on a regular basis - so "Thank You" for making our stay there in Virginia so wonderful! - and "hello" from Arizona!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Adventures Again!

Sunday May 15, 2016

We had one week +14 hours from the time we arrived back home until we started out second adventure (mission).   There are several specific things I already love about this second adventure.

Beautiful roses blooming by my front door that greeted us!

Grandsons that took a lampshade that fell apart while we were gone and made us all laugh at their antics.

This handsome grandson is Grady and he put on the "cone of shame" like a dog gets following surgery,   I can hear his delighted giggle as I post this picture - it makes my heart smile!

Before we could even get unpacked, we started tearing things apart and out in our house to prepare for a major remodeling project.    My own "personal decorator" (our extremely talented daughter) took me shopping at some furniture stores she has been checking out.   We found this decorator accent for Elder Ashton....... and it cost less than 1/100th of what his favorite "real" bike cost!

Elder Ashton's "new bike". 

We started our second adventure last Sunday, May 8, when we met with our Stake President and were set apart as missionaries for the Arizona, Gilbert Mission.   WOW - it felt good to be able to put that missionary tag back on!   And it was a very special day, because, after being away from my family for two mother's days......on this 3rd one I was able to spend part of the day with them in one of our usual chaotic Sunday dinners!    We had 24 for dinner at our house and that put a smile on my face that lasted for several days:)

Another thing I loved about Mother's day  (last Sunday) was this beautiful rose that we received at church last Sunday.   I am really surprised that it has not wilted yet, but I take time to "smell the rose" each time I walk by.....even a week later.

Celebrating this pretty pink rose I received at church last Sunday because I have been able to keep it pretty and fresh looking for an entire week!

We arrived at the mission office (about 4 miles from our house) on Monday morning.   The office is a re-purposed seminary building and the main work area is nice and roomy - I believe it was the original classroom.

Sister Brown, the Mission Secretary, at her desk by the front door.

Elder Brown, with the assistants to the President, Elders Johnston and Elder Kapua.  Elder Johnston is very friendly but also very focused on accomplishing his tasks.   I learned that he was originally serving in another mission, but injured his shoulder playing basketball and had to return home (Gilbert, Arizona) to have surgery and re-hab so they decided to let him stay here and finish out his mission.  I call that total dedication to your call to live within miles (maybe blocks) or your family and not see them but maintain your focus on your mission.

Elder Johnston and Elder Kapua (he was in the same district with Elder McCleary and Elder Brown - the current Assistants to the President in Chesapeake.)   Elder Kapua was excited to have his picture taken and excited to learn about Elders McCleary and Brown!

Monday and Tuesday we spent most of the day learning our responsibilities.....and both Elder Ashton and I learned that a smaller geographic mission area (30 miles across the mission) and a high concentration of members calls for a bit of a different approach to the mission administration.  This is mostly a biking mission so when the President told Elder Ashton that he would be responsible to perform vehicle inspections at different buildings around the mission each time they have a round of interviews, he was prepared for a heavy load.   But, he participated in vehicle inspections on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week and found that he only had 4, 5, and 3 cars at those interviews for inspection.......not 20 or 22 like he had at inspections in Virginia, Chesapeake Mission.  He also did Tiwi training at afternoon sessions those 3 days so it kept us busy.   I will be the referral secretary and also ordering supplies and doing baptism records.   This mission doesn't provide meals for the missionaries......they have a cook who works part time for FM group and she does all the meals for the mission.   I think it will take me awhile to adjust to the differences but I've already felt the same spirit as we immerse ourselves in the work.

Elder Kapua helped me find Elder Rose who was also in the same district with Elders Brown and McCleary at the MTC.

Elder Williams and his companion.   Elder Williams also went through the MTC with Elders Brown and McCleary.   Notice that these Elders have their missionary tags on the right side - President (Elder) Nattress likes the missionaries to wear the tag on the right side to remind them to Choose the left had struggles with getting the badge placed on my right side but I'm learning ;-)

Elder McKnight - another district mate of Elders Brown and McCleary- and Elder Kapua
Elder Kapua tells me his visa is running out so he will go home on the July transfer.   I already feel drawn to him because I love to hear him talk in his New Zealand accent!

We received this sticker in the mail to remind us of the time we spent in Portsmouth.   As you can see, it has a place of honor on the maroon Silverado truck.   Speaking of that truck, I listened to Elder Ashton tell a group of missionaries on both Thursday and Friday that he would give them permission to keep their cars as dirty as he keeps his truck......good luck to the missionaries with that!   I think Elder Ashton wiped down his truck 4 times the last day we were in Chesapeake/Portsmouth trying to keep it clean for the trip home ;-)

I loved the beauty of Virginia and North Carolina while we were on our last adventure and was sad to leave that beauty behind.   However, since arriving home I have realized that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and my eyes have changed to more readily see the beauty that is around me, regardless of where I am.   I have been enjoying the beauty of Arizona as I see plants, trees, and flowers that I have seen thousands of times before.   I feel blessed that our mission to Virginia gave me new eyes in several ways!

I loved this picture as I rounded the bend in my neighborhood - the bright blue sky and the full tree with multicolored tassels on the ends of the branches.

I thought this bush/tree was interesting.   Two very different colors of blooms from one single root ball.......pretty!

And the delicate Oleander flower which is really prevalent here.    Although the leaves are poisonous if ingested by humans and pets, the flowers are beautiful!

We had an opportunity this morning to report on our experiences in Virginia, Chesapeake Mission and preparing that talk caused me to pause and reflect on all the blessings we received while we were there.   We are missing our Virginia/North Carolina friends and all missionaries, but are loving the quality time with our family as we  start our service in this new mission.

Life is good (but hot) here in Arizona!