Sunday, September 25, 2016

An Adventure in Preparing for Knight

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just now as I typed the date and realized that we have been back from Virginia for nearly 5 months, the lyrics to an old song entered my mind....."Oh it's a long, long while, from May to December, but the days grow short, when you reach September".    That's how I am that the remodeling project is essentially done, I can turn my thought to preparing for the holiday season and I realized the other day that there are not too many days left.    I was comforted, though, when I thought of preparing Thanksgiving dinner in my newly revised kitchen instead of in a small apartment kitchen :)

I've been noticing the signs of approaching Autumn all around...captured this "harvest moon" the other night.   I thought the aura around it was quite interesting.

The office was busy this past week as we started gearing up in preparation for the next group of missionaries who will arrive on Tuesday, October 4th.   I'm feeling just a little stressed because I like to prepare the binders for the new missionaries way ahead of time but the Assistants to the President have been working on updating the information in the binders and asked me to wait with a promise that I would have the new information at least 2 weeks prior to arrivals.   I don't have the new information yet and instead of the 10 we thought we arriving, we learned on Friday that an additional 3 missionaries are coming to our mission while they wait for visas.   That means I have 13 binders to prepare this week......hope I get that information tomorrow!!

The temperatures have been moderating and the sun doesn't seem quite so bright or so hot.   I have always said that fall is my favorite time of year, and was thinking about that the other day when I realized I have really been missing my "boys" (who are all grown men now).   It suddenly hit me that fall might have become my favorite time of year because I loved going out in the crisp evening air and watching the boys play football...I didn't like it when their shoes weren't firmly planted on the ground because I would get nervous that they were injured, but I sure like the atmosphere and the weather of watching them play.   And now I ask myself where did all those years go!

With moderating temperatures, the plants perk up a little.   Everything from different forms of cactus to roses take on a healthier glow.

I noticed this interesting cactus on the way to work...and was taken with the long spines and "flowers" on it.   When I stopped to take a picture, I realized the "flowers" may not be flowers after all, but appear to be cut ends of the arms of the cactus.   I still think it is interesting and the "flowers" are quite unique.    I'm glad to live in the beautiful world.!

The next day, driving home for lunch, I noticed a cactus I had never seen before, along with some varied colored roses.   Just had to stop and take a picture of the varied beauty!

Pretty yellow trumpet flowers on trees/bushes all around.   These little yellow flowers were not around in the broiling temperatures of mid-summer.

I call this the "pineapple" cactus.   It is in the yard across the street and is the first thing I see each morning as I back out of my driveway.   I think the "flowers" on this look like tiny little pineapples - some with the skin on and some without the skin.  

Just a few feet away is this pretty rose bush.  At this time of year the roses are plentiful but not very big.  This particular rose bush reminds me of my sister and her love for this particular color/variety of rose.   As a junior in high school she requested that my mom make her prom dress out of apricot colored satin and chiffon with a draped hemline caught up with chiffon roses in this color......her corsage could match perfectly.   What a beautiful creation of a dress my mom labored long and hard over and I think of it every time I see roses like these.

Seems to me that I saw quite a lot of purple flowers when we were in Virginia and not so much out here.   So when I saw this group of purple flowers at the base of the palm tree on the street where the mission office is, I had to stop and capture it.

On Wednesday, a very interesting referral came in.   I received a call from the referral secretary at the Mesa Mission who said she had received a call from a lady in Utah but the address was in our mission and the Mesa Referral Secretary wanted to give me details about it.   The referral was for a man named Jon who was in his late fifties.   He had grown up with the lady in Utah and went to church with her a few times.  
They grew up and went their separate ways and he is now divorced and has just moved to Mesa.   He called her to ask her if she could tell him how to find the kind of church they went to when they were growing up because he always felt so good when he went!   I gave the information to two of our missionaries who contacted him and he asked them to come over to teach him more the next day.    I think that is a seed that took at least 40 years to germinate and since Wednesday I have kept thinking about how we never know what kind of an influence we can have on someone's life.   I guess I better be more aware of how I respond to everyone.....don't know when/where/or if that seed to learn more about the gospel will be planted!   It is experiences like this that make me feel excited and keep me getting up in the morning to go to the office instead of sleeping in ;-)

I noticed that there was quite a bit of street flooding back in Portsmouth this past week - water on Clifford Street almost up to the knees.    We don't get rain like that, but we did get a 5 minute down pour on Thursday afternoon and I wanted to include a picture of the "Gilbert 2016 Flood".....see that big puddle across the street from the office :)

Rain didn't last long.

When we were driving home about 15 minutes later, I noticed the sun/sunbeams showing through the clouds.....and the crazy, busy traffic just keeps on going....they wouldn't leave the intersection clear for even a minute so I could get a good picture ;-)

The clouds were still hanging around a little the next morning, but I thought the blue sky, white clouds and palm trees were pretty.


 Elder Ashton is still having problems with his right leg - swelling is not going down and pain is still there.   He went to his PCP on Friday and the PCP told him he will need to get the fluid drained from his leg.   That is scheduled for this upcoming Friday at 8:00 a.m. - doesn't sound like much fun to me but hopefully it will resolve the problem.   It makes it easier when you are serving a mission from home and can go to your regular doctors.

The Assistants to the President (we have 4 right now because things have been very busy) have been in the office quite a bit this past week.   They are tasked with dividing up tickets to a Gladys Knight Fireside.  
Gladys is coming to Gilbert on Thursday, October 6 for two Firesides.   She is bringing the Saints Unified Voices Choir with her and they sing and Sister Knight bears testimony and tells her conversion story.   The mission was given 300 tickets to pass out and the four "sponsoring" stakes had 300 tickets each to pass out.   The mission had a request for 800 tickets so these poor Elders have been busy prioritizing who would receive tickets.   It has been grueling for them because they really want everyone to be able to come and hear her testimony.   These are good young men....and a couple of them are going home in just a few weeks.   From left to right is it Elder Stone, Elder Carattini, Elder Fuesner, and Elder Broughlim.   Elder Fuesner is from Cody Wyoming so we have some conversation about the state and the new Star Valley temple when he is in the office.  We are so blessed to have the opportunity to work with the young missionaries!

A busy day at home on Saturday - preserving 23 pints of salsa and 6 pints of diced 7 loads of laundry, plus Saturday cleaning.   As you can see, Elder Ashton is a man for all seasons.....he not only took the worst part of prep (chopping the onions and chilis) but did the floor clean-up afterward.   A man of many talents who can fix a car, fix a bike, build a warning light to tell him the garage door is open, tear out old walls, clean a house, wash the dishes, and even cook a simple meal.   Guess I'll keep him around :)

So as we begin to prepare for new missionaries on the 4th, transfers on the 4th, Gladys Knight and probably 500 referrals on the 6th, I'm planning to get some extra rest and to look for the beauty even in the midst of lots of work!   

Happy almost October from Gilbert, Arizona.

Beautiful blossoms on m neighbor's tree.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Real Life Adventures

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The past week was filled with multiple different adventures and most of them had little to do with our service as missionaries - mostly just adventures of making it through this journey here on earth.  It began last Sunday - September 11 as I contemplated the events that occurred 15 years ago - that started me thinking about the privilege of living in this country and enjoying the freedoms that we do.

When we arrived at the office on Monday morning, the assistants to the President were already there and were busy putting together baptism statistics for the past weekend.   There were 9 baptisms in the mission for the weekend of September 10-11 but we only had the forms for 3 of those baptisms.   Getting those records completed and entered in the computer correctly is always a bit of a challenge to make sure the information is all correct.   This one was even more challenging.   A young man (Brother Jones) was baptized and we received that form late on Monday morning.   The form was handwritten and the name looked like it said Brandun Jones.   I was unfamiliar with that spelling so I got out my trusty magnifying glass and studied it throroughly and finally came to the conclusion that I had guessed correctly and it was Brandun.   However, about 2 p.m. the zone leaders came into the office and I asked them about the name.   They corrected me and said it was "Brandon".    I showed them the form and they reiterated that while the form might say Brandun it actually should read Brandon.   I entered the information as Brandon with an "O" and a couple of days later the missionaries that performed the baptism came into the office.   They told me the name was actually "Brandyn".   I had already submitted the information to Salt Lake City so had to call and ask them to update the record.    That one little name was a huge reinforcement to what I have been telling the missionaries the last few months, asking them to make sure the information is accurate and legible.   I wonder how many reminders it will take before that occurs...........probably at least a few more!

Elder Ashton returned from his bike ride a little early on Monday morning and said his knee was bothering him so he cut his ride short.   He decided to give his leg a rest this week and see if it would get to feeling better.

Tuesday I decided I needed to prepare more binders for missionaries that would arrive 3 weeks from that day, so I started printing the nearly 100 pages that goes in each binder.   I was just ready to start putting them together when The assistants to the president arrived and indicated that they had almost finished the update to those binder pages and wanted to use the new pages for this next incoming group.   They assured me that the new pages would be ready by Thursday, so I put that project aside for a few days.

On Wednesday 40 cases of Books of Mormon were delivered to the office at about 12:30 by Fed Ex.   I was certainly glad that the driver, Elder Ashton, Elder Partridge and Sister Partridge were there to help get all those cases stored in the storeroom.   We expect that we will use 13 of those cases to give out to attendees to the Gladys Knight Fireside when she comes to Gilbert on October 6.   I was hoping to attend that and hear her speak but I learned on Friday that they have already had 2900 ticket requests and there is only seating for 1800 people.   As of now, some of the organizers are trying to convince her to come back and give another Fireside to accommodate those that couldn't get in.  I sure hope I ordered enough books!

Wednesday we arrived home and found our private decorator was there finishing up some work.   IMO - she is really good at what she does - but I might be just a bit prejudiced since she is my daughter.   This is a picture of the completed gallery wall in the Family Room.

I love how "the decorator" can take various different items and put them all together to make it look good.   When my family came for dinner today (Sunday) they commented about how much they liked the decorating in the house and then said, "Did Aunt Felicia do that for you?"   Guess they know I have ZERO talent in that direction.....sure am glad my daughter got the talent!

By Friday, Elder Ashton's leg was not feeling any better and was really quite swollen.   I called our daughter-in-law who is a nurse and explained the symptoms and she convinced us that he needed to have it checked out to rule out a blood clot.   Sooooooo - we spent Friday evening here.

Staring out the window at the ER waiting for test results.   We made an appointment ahead of time so I was expecting we would be in and out of there in an hour or so.......but it took 3 hours for them to say it is not a blood clot and they think it "might" be that a Baker's Cyst ruptured but he should watch it and go to another doctor if it doesn't get better.    Sure hope he doesn't have to wait 5.5 months before someone figures it out like I did with my failed hip implant in 2012.    I'm thinking that getting older can have some annoying challenges ;-)

Since the ER ruled out a blood clot, Elder Ashton decided that cleared him to work as hard as he usually does on Saturday.  I was busy in the den making out the shopping list when I heard a strange noise behind me and turned around to find Elder Ashton decked out like this in preparation for climbing up in the attic to string wire for some more lights.

Elder Ashton all decked out to keep the dust and insulation out of his lungs.

After working hard most of the day, we decided to reward ourselves by attending the Constitution Fair that was held near our house at the City Complex.   

In preparation for the Constitution Fair, the committee in charge of the event lined the streets around City Hall with American Flags.   We had a nice little breeze yesterday afternoon and it was great to see the flags rippling a little in the breeze.

This display had pictures of all those from Gilbert who have died serving their country.   Quite stirring to look over all the standards.   I would guess there were at least 200 of them.

I think I caught a glimpse of George Washington talking with this family.

This display of a part of the beam from the World Trade Center brought a lump to my throat. as I contemplated what that day was like for so many American families.

Four skydivers dropped onto the lawn.   The announcer explained that we would see the lighted flairs on the pant legs of the skydivers (you can see one in the background).   I noticed a flair/flame coming from the plane and thought it was a little weird but decided it was part of the show.   It wasn't until a few minutes later when the fire engines and ambulance came screaming by that I wondered what was going on.   I learned that the flair/flame was not part of the show but the plane was actually on fire and went about a mile and crashed into a house, causing the house to be completely destroyed by the fire.   The pilot ejected but had to be taken to the hospital because of burns.

Just one shot of the beautiful fire works that ended the evening after we had been favored with beautiful patriotic music provided by the Millenial Choir/Orchestra.

I am so proud to be an American!!

Happy Constitution Week from Gilbert, Arizona.   Please take a little time this coming week to contemplate the sacrifices made by those who founded this great nation and determine what you can do to help keep this nation free and great!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Sigh of Relief Adventure

Sunday, September 11, 2016

First of all, I must say that I have been quite emotional today as I think of the things that transpired 15 years ago and how it changed my perception of the world.   When I woke up later than usual that morning I turned the TV on to listen to the news while I got ready and the first image I saw was of the plane hitting the second tower.   That image is permanently etched in my mind.   As I watched a couple of short videos this morning that showed pictures of some of the people who survived that day and saved many others (mostly first responders and firemen, the tears rolled down my cheeks as I contemplated their bravery and sacrifice and how we as Americans all pulled together......then I thought of the turmoil of today and can hardly believe we have digressed so far from out feelings of that day.   I am grateful to have a knowledge of who/what ultimately wins this war of terror and evil and hope my choices and actions will always keep me on the "winning team"!

As you know, we have been in the throes of a major remodeling project and I have felt like that project would NEVER end.   I'm happy to report that we are very close to the finish line and it feels just great, but more about that later.

We are coming close to the magical time of year here in Phoenix - and while some of you might think that I am speaking of Christmas - I am only speaking of the time of year when the temperature does not reach 100 degrees for several days in a row and the night time temperature lows are in the 80's.   I can feel the cooler weather right around the corner and my body really appreciates that!   As we approach that time of year, I am really enjoying the different pictures painted in the skies for me on many days of the week.  The following pictures have occurred as we returned home from the office during the last two weeks.

 I don't know that I remember ever seeing clouds look like handwriting in the sky before!

A couple of nights later I arrived home about 7:30 after running a couple of errands and saw that the sun was just slipping behind the homes across the street and tinting the higher clouds a beautiful shade of pink.

On Thursday, September 1st we had an Elder return to the mission.   He went home about six months ago to have some pretty invasive cancer surgery and has come back now with the doctors saying there is no more cancer in his body.   I've been really impressed with his positive attitude!   To prepare for his coming I needed to go to Target and pick up a pillow to make a bedding packet for him.   As I drove up to the store (about 3 miles from the mission office) I knew I would need to be fast because there was a dust storm blowing in from the southeast and I didn't want to get caught in the worst part of it.   Note the trees bending in the wind and the dust in the air.

Coming home from the grocery store on Saturday I noticed this fluffy big cloud that looked like a bunch of miniature marshmallows piled up in the sky :) ... maybe that was because I had just purchased miniature marshmallows at the store.

We have a very tall Eucalyptus tree in our back yard....and some of the top branches died while we were serving in Virginia.  We have been so busy working on our house that we have not done much in the yard yet and as I walked in the house I could see the white breast of a bird high in the bare branches of the tree and started to get really excited thinking maybe it was an Eagle up there......but alas, I was disappointed to find it was only a couple of doves with the sun glinting off the white feathers of their breasts.   Still kind of an interesting picture......

A few days prior to zone conference when they were going to get their cars inspected, some of the missionaries came into the office to ask Elder Ashton about the stuff they could just spray on their car ----wash and wax combined.   He grabbed his bottle of the cleaner and his hat and headed out the door.   I called to him to turn around so I could take a picture and this is what I got :)   He LOVES what he does in the mission!

Cars lined up following inspection at Zone Conference.   Note the ones with trunks still open....when I asked Elder Ashton about that he said they had too much junk in them and they had to take all the junk out to check the spare tire so he was going to "let" the missionaries put the junk back in :)   Both Elder Ashton and I did a little training at the Elder Ashton handed out 1st through 3rd place cleanest cars in the Zone.   It's interesting to see how competitive the missionaries get to win a chocolate bar!

On Saturday, September 3rd we gathered at the Gilbert Temple for the sealing of our daughter Felicia and her husband Dallon.   It will be 4 years in October since they got married and it has been quite a long process for them to get their clearance for sealing - so it was a day of celebration for all of us!

Dallon and Felicia emerging from the temple after the ceiling

The happy couple :)

And their cute blended family.  Bet you can't tell which kids belong to which.....guess that means they all belong together ;-)

Big brother Curtis who drove all the way from Denver with his wife Merilee to be there for the sealing......makes the final celebratory splash at the after sealing pool party :)

 More cars following inspection after the Zone Conference on September trunks left open so I guess word traveled around the mission that they needed to clean out their trunks prior to inspection.

Our neighbors across the street have a night blooming cactus and I have been really curious about what the blowers would look the day they are all closed up as shown here above.

The next morning when I left for the gym at 5:15 I was able to catch them blooming....and I must say the flash on my phone did a pretty good job of capturing the beauty of the flowers.

Here are two right next to each other on the same arm of the cactus.

As I look at this picture I think the flower is pure beauty......a prickly cactus with spines that draw blood, produces this beautiful, delicate flower.  Amazing!

A few weeks ago while driving to the office I was thinking about tasks that needed to be completed before the 28 missionaries arrived and not paying close attention to driving until I saw the flashing blue lights behind me.....DARN!

Yesterday and today I learned the consequences of those actions.   I had to sit in front of the computer for 4 hours and complete a Defensive Driving course ....... I thought I would go nuts spending all that time but kept reminding myself that choices have consequences.    I'll be more careful about watching my speed when I am driving now!

And now the great news......the remodel project is DONE!  I think we only have a few boxes left to unpack and the decorating has begun - provided by our private decorator, Felicia Hubbard.   It is a joy to watch her pick things out and put them together just so.
Throw pillows for the sectional to bring out the colors in the rug.   I especially like the "family" pillow :)

The start of the gallery wall in the family room - I love how this is all coming together around the throw back picture of our kids.

The fan chart set off nicely by wood pieces and.....

This small red table with basket and vase (plus the "grandma rocking chair").    I must say - I am loving how this is all coming together and am so glad it is nearly done!

Happy September from Arizona with our "perfect" weather just around the corner!