Monday, June 20, 2016

An Acclimating to Arizona Adventure

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This past week was interesting as we tried to get acclimated to being back in Arizona and ENDURING the 115+ degree heat.   I check my phone regularly to see what is happening with the weather back in Chesapeake Virginia and I have noticed that they have been having a good deal of rain.   At this point, I'm not sure which would be the most challenging to deal with....gray skies and rain or blue skies and boiling heat!   Well, either one, I guess I should be thankful to be here on earth to experience the different weather patterns!

Monday is preparation day for the missionaries here in the Arizona Gilbert Mission.   It is not uncommon to have missionaries stop by the office on that day to take care of a little business before they head out for some exercise, shopping, etc.   This past Monday was no exception.   We had Elder Peterson stop by to entertain us as Stevie Wonder :)   I just love the enthusiasm for life these young missionaries have!

Elder Caratinni was not quite as entrtained by Stevie Wonder as I was ;-)  He was ruching around in the background trying to get his work done so they could go play soccer.

More Elders stopped in after the soccer match to say hello and grab supplies.   Elder Partridge is always good for a laugh as he interacts with the young Elders!

Tuesday I continued to work with getting all the baptism records for the last 2.5 years into a spreadsheet.   There are nearly 1200 records for that time period and it has been a very engaging project to see pictures of all those who have recognized the truth of the gospel and joined in the last 30 months.   I still have about 4 more hours worth of work on the project and we hope to put all the records on a flash drive so the outgoing president, President Nattress, can take that home with him.   I'm sure it will bring wonderful memories to him as he reviews the records!

As I drive the short route back and forth to the office, it gets a little mundane and I find myself missing a turn once in awhile.   It's a good thing we are in Arizona where I don't have to worry about making it across the river and I can usually get back on track just by going around the block.   This past week, I did just that - missed a turn on my way back to the office - but this time I ended up on a dead end street.   I was glad that I was forced to turn around in the cul-de-sac, because I got to see these beautiful hibiscus blooming even in the horrible heat!

Another thing I noticed a short 1/4 mile from the office is the gnarly saguaro cactus.   I think it has lots of personality with its twisted limbs and the holes pocking the body of the cactus.   One morning as I was on my way to the office, I noticed a small black bird tying to get in the little hole that looks like a duck........

...the bird did not fit ;-D

This young man is Elder Purchase.   He was in the office on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoon studying and waiting on his companion who was working on designing a web page for the mission.   I like having him around the office if I have time to strike up a conversation with him.   He is a very courteous and polite young man and I have never seen him with anything but a smile on his face.   He is from England (I like to tease him and tell him it is like looking at and listening to Simon Cowell).   His accent is GREAT - I could listen to it all day!  When he talks about his mother he says, "me mum" and that always brings a smile to my face.

Having just returned from spending 18 months in Virginia where there is LOTS of water and many water front properties, I decided I needed to take a picture of what waterfront property looks like in Arizona and post it here for my Virginia friends.   It may not be the Chesapeake Bay, but waterfront property still brings a premium price.

On Thursday, our cook who works part-time for Facilities Management, stopped by the office with gift sacks for all of the recently arrived missionaries.   I think we take pretty good care of the missionaries here in Gilbert, Arizona......but then again, maybe this is a bribe to get them to stay when they step off the plane into this oven of heat ;-)

We kept really busy in the office, trying to prepare for the departure of 6 missionaries, and the arrival of 14 new ones - those arrivals will be spread out over 3 days which should make for some interesting logistics.   We are also preparing for the passing of the torch from President Nattress to President Wheeler.   As part of that process, President Nattress and his family had to move out of the mission home to give Facilities Management a chance to clean, paint, etc.   I was asked to supply 3 sets of bedding for the Nattress children - which meant I needed to order 3 more sets in order to have enough for the next set of incoming missionaries.   I've never been a huge shopping fan and find that I am getting to be less and less of a fan due to shopping for mission things and trying to make some decisions about furniture, window coverings, flooring, etc as part of the home remodel.

As I went to the grocery store on Saturday, I noticed this Century Plant on the has grown very tall and is just on the verge of turning yellow and orange.   Once again I am reminded that Arizona has its own kind of beauty.

We left Gilbert early on Sunday morning to drive to St. Johns in the northeastern part of the state.  

As we drove along the Beeline Highway,  we went through what I refer to as the Saguaro Forest because there are cacti everywhere.   I was interested to see that most of the cacti looked like they had topknots, which were really buds for flowers.   There were only a very few that were actually in bloom and they were not close enough for me to snap a picture.   The blooms were white, yellow, and red......I like the red ones the best!

We traveled to St. Johns for a missionary farewell for our grandson and one of his classmates.   Our grandson is going to Birmingham, Alabama and his classmate is going to Nampa, Idaho.   It was a great meeting (even though I kept telling myself I could not possibly be old enough that my youngest son was sending a missionary out into the field......WOW the years fly by!

Alabama - here comes Elder Ashton an he has perfected the favorite Alabama greeting - "Roll Tide"!

Levi's sister, Brycelynn made him a great cake to send him on his way :)

We had a great day in St. Johns where the temperature was about 20 degrees cooler and a little breeze (by St. Johns standards) was blowing.   I loved this beautiful home and yard (and the people inside) when we drove up to it!

Just before we headed back to the heat, I took the opportunity to snap a picture of Elder Ashton and our 5 sons.   Some of these sons have started to suffer from pectoral muscles moving south so I think they were hoping that their ties would cover that problem up - but the St. Johns wind had another plan in mind and sent a little gust just as I snapped the picture;-)

 Sure do love these 6 awesome men and all the love and support they give me along this journey and during these mission adventures.

Happy Summer from the Ashton men ( and me, of course)

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