Sunday, August 28, 2016

An Adventure in Busyness

Sunday afternoon, August 28, 2016

TIME FLIES - especially when you are busy, busy, busy.   It is hard to believe it has been two full weeks since I posted anything because I kept telling myself I was going to find time to sit down one evening after we got home from work and post something.   However, every evening was filled with work trying to put our house back together.....and it is FINALLY starting to look like a house again but still a ways to go.   I must say it is turning out much as I envisioned - I'll share a few pictures below.   But before that - a few adventures from the mission to share.

I have mentioned before that the small geographic area of the mission and mission policies specific to this mission make it so we have young missionaries in the office on a regular basis.   Preparation day for young missionaries is Monday and they usually spend part of the day hiking, playing soccer, playing basketball, playing softball, playing laser tag, etc., etc.   The Assistants to the President have responsibilities that they need to take care of on Monday mornings, and like most things in life, it takes longer than they had planned so other missionaries come into the office to encourage them to hurry with their responsibilities so they have some play time.   It is pretty interesting to watch the interactions between them.   It went a little different a couple of weeks ago as we didn't have many missionaries in the morning, but in the afternoon two Sister missionaries stopped by to pick up a phone because their's was not working properly.   Elder Partridge had received a bright pink phone a couple of days before that and was going to give it to some Elders but when the Sisters saw it, they begged to have the pink phone.
 Elder Partridge discussing the pink phone with Sister Young after he gave it to her.   Her companion, S
Sister Sorenson noticed I was taking a picture so she struck a pose :)
Elder Partidge explained that it was not a brand new phone but a refurbished one he had received but they loved the pink phone so much they didn't care that it was refurbished.    Sister Young decided to check it out and then she said, "No way, No way, NO WAY.   This is my Dad's phone number and he is the high councilor in Washington!!!"   She checked for a few more names and found others she recognized.   She was so excited to see her Dad's contact in the refurbished phone - it really made her day.   

We didn't let her send a message to him and Elder Partridge took the phone back to remove all the contact information (I guess AT&T forgot to do that) and load it with Arizona Gilbert contact information.    I got a few chills as I thought about all the "coincidences"(I think not) that occurred to give her that nice little surprise.   Tender mercies are so great!

The other day as I walked back home from the mail box, I felt like I just needed to stop and take a picture of these pretty yellow lantanna(sp?)   There is beauty all around when I look for it.

The same night as I drove home from the office, I noticed this shaft of sunlight to the west.....

With these puffy white clouds above the gray clouds just to the north of the shaft of sunlight.....

And still more white clouds above the gray a little farther to the north......all against a pretty blue sky.

One of the best parts of the Arizona Gilbert Mission - regular Sunday dinners with part of our family - Lori and Mary

Gray, Brendan, Kodi, and Rhett with Darby peaking out behind

Miranda, Tucker and Cooper

Duncan, Dallon, Colton, Grady and Teague.    
These make up about 1/3 of our family.........we love spending time with family members whenever we can!

Monday, August 22 began transfer week.   We expected 6 missionaries to go home on Tuesday morning and 28 to arrive at about noon on Tuesday.   Although we tried to prepare ahead of time, there is still lots to do at the last minute.

Early afternoon on Monday those missionaries that were going home started arriving in the office and bringing their luggage in to be weighed.   Some of them also make it a tradition to leave some gifts behind of other missionaries.   Elder McKnight preparing ties (rolling them up and putting a sticky note under a rubber band telling who he is gifting them to) to leave.  Elder partridge watching the scale reading for a couple of other missionaries.

Elder McKnight still working on ties, two missionaries having a picture taken during a farewell hug in the background.   As the missionaries bid farewell to one another, it is easy to see that they have formed a strong bond of friendship that will most likely last for years.

Missionaries in the background writing their farewell email and Elder Ashton preparing a bike to be shipped.
 Elder Ashton presenting one of the departing missionaries with a non-active souvenir TIWI card.   The Elder lost his card over a year ago for traveling much too fast and he has begged Elder Ashton to give it back to him every week since we arrived in the mission.   So Elder Ashton made one with a little tag on it that read it was a replacement for the one he lost due to a poor decision.   The Elder said he was going to hang it up on his wall when he got home ....hopefully he learned a lesson about driving too fast;-)
Pile of bedding waiting to be put into packets

28 bikes and accessories all lined up and ready.   It took two pickups and a trailer to haul all the bikes to the building.

Bikes and accessories and bedding packets ready to go.

The new missionaries are arriving after being up since 3:00 a.m. and toting their luggage in.   Sister Partridge is greeting them as they arrive.

Bikes and accessories, bedding packets and luggage fill the primary room at the church.

Because this was such a large group of incoming missionaries, five new houses/apartments needed to be rented and set up with furniture, dishes, etc.   That also meant that mission zones needed to be re-organized and trainers were needed for the 28 new missionaries.   When it was all said and done about 90 % of the missionaries either changed companions, got a new calling, moved houses or any combination of those three. Since I am responsible for arranging the temple times and clothing for the missionaries, I spent one entire day on Friday rebuilding the spreadsheet because of the 125+ changes and still have more work to do when I get to the office on Monday.   I was certainly busy, busy, busy the entire week at the office.

Home was busy too as we kept working on the remodel - this is the new kitchen island with the granite counter top.   It was my desire to have granite counter tops that started this whole project :)

The extended cabinet section on the east side of the range.   I sure do like having more counter space!

We finally got some furniture into the living room and kitchen.....moved out the old kitchen table and recliners and moved in the sectional and new kitchen table.   We still need to do some positioning with the rug (design compliments of Felicia's good taste) and get a rocking chair for that room but we are making progress.

New dining table and chairs and part of the new living room furniture.   We ran out of muscles on Saturday and just had to stop.

As I drove up to the house on Friday, I noticed lots of little roses on the bushes in front of the house......trying to add a bright spot in this summer heat.    Me-----I'm counting down and think we only have about 7 more weeks of unbearable heat.....hurry up and get here October!

Happy "Almost Fall" from Arizona!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Change of Perspective Adventure

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Another week bites the dust......and we have plenty of that dust here in Arizona!!   This has been a week when we had a few dust storms and a few rain storms, hot days and not so hot days, and all busy days!

We arrived at the office on Monday morning to discover that there are some who have a grudge against the church and they had used some spray paint to express that grudge with this design and another one.   Seems like they must be uninformed about who and what we are ;-)

This was on the wall separating the office parking lot (behind the building) from the house next door.

I had been really excited to wake up on Monday morning - it was going to be a RED letter day - the day my kitchen cabinets would finally get installed after waiting 11 weeks from order date.   The company did let me know that they had a small early morning job and would probably not be at the house until about 10 - but I didn't get a call from them until 11:30 when they said they were on their way.   Elder Ashton and I took a little bit of an early lunch break and went home to meet with them so they could get started.   It was just one guy that showed up and he talked about the fact that they might not finish everything on Monday, but would be done by Tuesday evening for sure.   We went back to finish the day at the office.

 This fancy red bike arrived at the office for one of the new sister missionaries that is coming in on Aug 23 and caused quite a stir among the missionaries that happened to come to the office.  The bike does look really nice and Elder Ashton says it is a more expensive version of the bike the missionaries get so he can understand why they would be envious of it.    He was like a kid at Christmas on Monday afternoon as he put the bike back together after it was taken apart for shipment.

Later on Monday afternoon 2 Sister Missionaries came into the office and told Elder Ashton that they needed a new bike rack.   After a bit of questioning, he determined that it would be more economical for him to fix the bike rack than to replace it (I think he was just looking for another excuse to get some tools in his hands).....anyway, within 30 minutes or so, he had it all fixed up for them and they were on their way :)  His white shirt may never be the same again, though.

When we arrived home from the office about 5 p.m. to find all the cabinets still in boxes in the garage and no progress in the kitchen I was very sad and had to give a big sigh.   Getting really tired of the torn up mess in the house but Elder Ashton's response was to tell me it would all soon be over.   That wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear!

I felt much better when we arrived home for lunch on Tuesday and I found the garage full of tools to be used in the installation instead of boxes.   Finally some progress!!!!

It took the crew until Friday afternoon (5 days) to get the cabinets mostly installed but at least we could start putting some things away!   The corner/lazy Susan cabinet will take some getting used to.   The upper corner cabinet is really big and when I told the grand kids that the candy cupboard had doubled in size some of them got sparkling smiles on their faces!

The double outward facing pantry cupboard now holds the food that has been sitting on the floor in boxes for 2.5 months.   Yea!!!!

The outward facing pantry - also showing the other side cabinet that bookends the refrigerator (when it gets delivered) and the open spot for the kitchen sink.    I am really hoping we will be done in another week to avoid another notice from the HOA!

Thursday evening as I left Target at about 7 p.m., I noticed the storm clouds gathering and they were very dark.   As I saw this scene I thought, "the clouds are gathering but the sun is trying to keep the storm at bay" and pondered how much that is like our lives at times.

This picture is just because I liked the edges of the clouds with the sunlight reflecting off them....another example of the beautiful world we live in.

This past week, I have been enjoying the beautiful flowers and trees I see around me - even here in the dessert.   As I was driving to the office, admiring the beauty the thought crossed my mind that I have lived in this area for 18 years (minus the 1.5 we spent in Virginia) and don't believe I have noticed or appreciated the variety and beauty around me.   I contemplated what had changed my perspective on the world around me and came to the conclusion that it has been a gradual change of a number of years while I struggled with hip replacements, breast cancer and then had the opportunity to go to a different area of the country and serve the people around me and my Heavenly Father and Savior.   I do believe that those experiences have changed my perspective and helped me be more grateful for all that I have.   I have not quite mastered seeing beauty in a home in various stages of demolition as we remodel, but have noticed lots of other beautiful things around me :)

A fairy duster bush in my neighbor's yard.

Manicured purple sage in full bloom - Beautiful!  .....I wondered why my voice had been so scratchy the last week;-)

Un-manicured purple sage growing at the base of and under the orchid tree in my back yard - beautiful in it's own wild way!

On Friday, we received this email in the mission office from one of the young men serving here.   I think this pretty much says it all about why missionaries do what they do.
Hello everyone, 
Last Saturday we were able to participate in Renee and Estralla's baptism. It was preformed for Elliot who was baptized about a month ago and this is his first time performing an ordinance with the Aaronic Priesthood.
They have come really far to get to this point. They are a great family that love the Gospel and are grateful to have it in their lives.
It has been a humbling experience to be able to see the Holy Ghost to work in their hearts as they keep making changes in their lives to come closer to Christ.
I love the Gospel. I love the Book of Mormon for the testimony it shares of Jesus Christ to the whole world. For the lives that were changed and given to bring to pass the immortality of man and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

One last beautiful sight to share with all of you.   Today I cooked swiss steak in the electric frying pan sitting on the table and baked potatoes in the crock pot sitting on the top of the Lazy Susan cabinet.   It was a bit of a challenge, but when I saw this beautiful sight a few minutes later, it made it worth it.

Elder Ashton washing the Sunday dishes in the bathtub.    I love this Senior Elder and think I will keep him around :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

An Adventure in Surviving

Sunday, August 9, 2016

As I sit down each week to write this brief history of our adventures while serving as Senior Missionaries here in the Arizona, Gilbert mission, I shake my head and say, "I can't believe another week has gone by!"
AS I sat down by my good friends in church this morning I told them I was surprised to see them there since they just left for a trip to Utah and Idaho last Sunday and I thought they were going to be gone for at least a couple of weeks.   She laughed and said, "We were gone almost 2 weeks - we left two weeks ago today and we just got back on Wednesday."    So now I am at the point where I will need to start saying,"I can't believe two more weeks have gone by!"

We kept busy at the office this week trying to finish up preparations for the 28 missionaries that will be arriving on 23rd and at the same time trying to survive our remodeling project at home!

Monday night we came home from the office to find that our construction man had started to lay the tile that will be the flooring throughout most of the house.   The "mud" was not set yet so we had to make sure we stepped over the tile - but I sure was glad to see the progress!!!!

Tuesday night we came home and found that he had put the grout and the drain in the shower - the glass company would show up on Thursday to install the glass wall.

We were also threatened with ominous looking storm clouds when we arrived home on Tuesday and it was only a couple of hours until the rain came down really hard for about 20 minutes - made it nice and sticky with some Virginia-like humidity :)

Wednesday when I arrived at the office, I noticed this lone bird sitting out on a dead branch (instead of in the leaves) just looking around like it was surveying the surrounding was pretty funny to just watch it bob its head around :)

About 1 p.m. on Wednesday, just after Elder Ashton arrived back from running an errand, a couple of the Sister Missionaries brought Sister Sorenson's bike in.   She has been in the field since May 31 and recently slid into third base while playing softball on preparation day.   She got lots of abrasions on her leg and one of them got pretty badly infected and had just healed up.    They were riding their bikes to the church and a lady coming out of a strip mall parking lot was trying to enter the roadway.   The Sisters thought she saw them and was waiting for them, but apparently she didn't see them because as soon as they started across the driveway, she drove out and hit Sister Sorenson.   It's a good thing both the bike and the car were not traveling very fast or there could have been serious injuries to more than the bike.  As it was, Sister Sorenson ended up breaking open her just healed sore and with lots more abrasions and bruises on her other leg.   I felt really bad for her but she said even though the driver who hit her didn't stay around to help her, there were lots of members, a man and several young mothers, who appeared out of the stores in the strip mall and helped them out.   She was so thankful for their help.

This is the wheel from her bike - only this was broken and her brakes messed up a little - Elder Ashton will soon have the bike back on the road but didn't have the parts to fix the brakes so he took it to the bike shop.   He also took this crunched up tire in and asked them if they could straighten it just to see their reaction :)   He loves to have a little fun with his work.

Wednesday night we arrived home to find about 1/2 of the family room with tile laid - YEA!!!  Progress makes me happy :)

Even more beautiful than the freshly laid tile that greeted us Wednesday evening was this beautiful sunset that peaked above the roof of our neighbor's home across the street.

A minute later the sun had moved a little and it looked like the trees were on fire.    I love this beautiful earth we live on!

Thursday evening we came home to freshly installed carpeting in the three bedrooms.....I like it and I like more progress even more!!!

The new "murphy" bed pulled down onto the new carpeting.

As we draw closer to this influx of 28 new missionaries in a couple of weeks, there are many decisions that need to be made about new areas, additional housing space, etc.    Friday afternoon, President Wheeler (left) and his counselor, President Lowder,(right) stand at the work table and discuss upcoming events.   I am thankful to be healthy enough to help in all this work.....and LOVE working with the young missionaries.

Friday all of our kitchen cabinets and the vanity in the master bathroom were removed and taken by habitat for humanity.   They will sell them in a second hand store and use the money to help build homes for low income families.   So, for now we have NO cabinets, NO countertops, and NO large mirrors, and NO sinks!  We do have one functioning shower, one functioning bathtub, and one functioning toilet.    For now we are brushing our teeth in the bathtub, and hoping the glimpse we can get of ourselves in my make-up mirror make us somewhat presentable.   What an adventure - I might even consider auditioning for the TV show "Survivor" - never mind - I think that show was on about 15 years ago ;-)

You can see that we have about 10 inches on one end of the table where we can eat, the rest is covered with things out of the kitchen cabinets, and multiple boxes are also full.  

Saturday we traveled to St Johns (our son Colby was our chauffeur) for the wedding of our grand-daughter, Sydney Ashton, to the grandson, Ryder Nielsen) of one of my dearest friends while we lived in SJ for 20 years.
Left to right in the picture - Luke Ashton (great grandson), Cade Ashton (grandson and brother of the bride), Ryan Ashton (son and father of the bride) Ryder Nielsen (the groom), Sydney Ashton (the beautiful bride), Lauren Ashton (granddaughter and sister of the bride) Marcie Ashton (daughter-in-law and mother of the bride), Jorden Ashton (granddaughter-in-law and wife of Cade).   The five year old great grandson Griffen was too busy playing with his young cousins and could not be bothered for pictures.

Another picture of the Ashton side of the bridal party - with smiles all around except for Luke ;-)

Also in "attendance at the wedding were these beautiful black-eyed Susan flowers and the geraniums above.   My daughter-in-law, Marcie, has a gift with growing beautiful flowers and Ryan keeps his lawn green and plush so the back-yard setting for the wedding was beautiful!

I'm hoping to see more progress on construction this coming week - with the end getting closer so I think We Will Survive!