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 front....so 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!