Sunday, October 16, 2016

After the (K)night Adventures

Sunday, October 16, 2016

After last week's visit by Gladys Knight, we returned to the office on Monday morning to continue entering the requests for a CD and a visit into the computer.   By the time it was all said and done on Tuesday, we had 112 requests for missionaries to visit and bring a CD by.      I got those all entered and started sending emails on Tuesday to remind the missionaries that they needed to take the gift by.   That kept me really busy and it was exciting to hear some of the associated stories.    When the Tempe Mission President brought some requests for our area by, he said they had a lady show up on the doorstep of the church last Sunday who had attended the Gladys Knight fireside and the first words out of her mouth were "I want to be baptized.   What do I need to do to be baptized?"   So the missionaries had already met with her once on Sunday and were going to be teaching her more on Monday.   The lady said she felt the spirit so strongly that she cried through the whole fireside.    In our mission 35 people who made requests  have been visited so far and of those, 10 are actively being taught now.  I have certainly felt an increase in energy and enthusiasm coming from the younger missionaries.....and I believe it is due to the increased missionary activity but could also be due to the temperatures that are finally staying below 100 degrees.

When I came home from the office on Monday, the southern sky was mesmerizing to me.

I loved the wispiness of the clouds and the glow of red from the lowering sun.

In an effort to do a little bit to keep myself healthy, I try to get out of bed at 5 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and a little later on Saturday and go to the gym.   I am in no way a morning person and really detest getting up early but know exercise is something I need so I generally get up and do a bit of grumbling as I am getting dressed and heading out the door to the gym.   It is even harder now that it is not yet light outside when I leave for the gym, but arriving home to this picture was almost too much for me on Tuesday morning.
Even when I arrived home from the gym at 6:30 a.m., the night blooming cactus across the street was still in bull bloom and I muttered to myself......"If the night blooming cactus is still blooming, no wonder I'm grumpy about getting out of bed to go exercise."  :)

Wednesday and Thursday were busy days at the office filled with tasks - preparing binders for mini-missions that would start on Friday, still dealing with a larger than normal number of referrals, placing orders for supplies, etc.  On top of that, Elder Ashton went to the Southwest Eye Clinic and they confirmed what the optometrist told him a couple of weeks ago - he needs to have cataract surgery on both eyes.  The first surgery is scheduled for October 25th and they will do the second one a couple of weeks later if all goes well.  Guess we can't stop the aging process no matter how much we would like to!

So, I have decided to try to find at least one beautiful or inspiring thing each day.    My thing for Wednesday was this daytime moon.

Not only was it picturesque, but it got me wondering about seeing the moon in the daytime and I did some research on good old google.   I learned that the moon is regularly in the sky during the day, but we fail to notice it because we don't look up that often and it is often covered by clouds and not visible.   I invite you all to stare at the moon for a moment and contemplate the wonders that surround us.

When we got home Thursday afternoon, I noticed flowers on the rose bushes again.   We had some landscapers come in a few weeks ago and drastically trim everything back, but the rose bushes seem to like the cooler temperatures so they have decided to put on a display of flowers again.

I love these red with white small blooms.   Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but the fragrance is delicious.

A perfect example of the creator's handiwork.....

And a little closer up to  better show the color variation in the petals.   BEAUTIFUL!

For the past 5 months as I have driven to and from the mission office, I have noticed this palm tree that I have affectionately dubbed the "fuzzy" palm.   It is rare to see vines that can survive the summer heat and actually cover the trunk of a tree, but it happened with the "fuzzy" palm that stands guard beside the railroad track.

Wednesday and Thursday were GREAT days for referrals.   On Wednesday morning a Sister Olsen called the office with a story about two sister missionaries who had knocked on the door of her son's house in Florence.  The lady said her son has been less active for many years and is married with 3 kids, the youngest one a baby just a few months old.   As parents do, this mother and father had been praying for their son and his family for a number of years and the wife had told them she was not interested in learning more about the gospel whenever they offered.   Sister Olsen reported that her son had called her on Wednesday morning to report that Spanish speaking lady missionaries had knocked on the door of their house and that they had a nice visit.   After the lady missionaries left, his wife told him she was ready to listen and learn more about the gospel and she wanted to know if she could be taught by those missionaries who knocked on her door.   Since they are assigned as Spanish speaking missionaries I needed to check with the President.   As soon as I explained the situation to him he said, "Yes, of course".   If she is asking to learn more lets accommodate her!"  I called the sisters missionaries to tell them that I had a referral for them and it was a family whose door they had knocked on the day before.   They were both very excited and emotional because they had felt such a strong connection to that family while they visited at the door.   They got a little emotional and so did I as we talked about how Heavenly Father loves each one of us and controls how things happen.   After I got home on Wednesday I got 3 text messages from those sister missionaries of other people whose doors they had knocked on or who they had contacted on the street.   They are super excited and just energized with the love of sharing the gospel with others!

These are a couple of our Spanish speaking sister missionaries but not the ones referred to above.   The girl on the left is from Venezuela and the one on the left is from New Jersey.   They both have really strong personalities but the companionship seems to work well.   The sister from Venezuela always tells Elder Ashton it was not her fault that she got an agressive driving warning while was a bump in the road, the car in front or her, a sharp corner or something.   We just love to listen to her excuses with her strong Spanish accent :)

Friday was a quiet day in the office because 93 of our total of 150 missionaries were helping with the Special Olympics.   Not too much going on that day and we generally close at 3 on Friday so we left the office at about 3:10.   I have lived in Gilbert for 18 years and have never visited the Riparian Preserve so I decided to go a little out of my way and visit that on the way home.   I think the next time I visit I will try to make it in the morning or the evening because the sun was too hot and I was soon sweating.   I did see a few native animals......

I saw several little bunnies but they were almost all faster than I was.....just barely caught this one ducking under the bush.

And speaking of ducking......there were lots of ducks and they certainly knew how to splash about in the water and cool off.

I loved how the sun made the head of the mallard such a bright green.

One just turned upside down in the water - he was quick!   Wonder if he caught anything.....

More ducks coming to join the group

 I found the ripples in the water that reflected the reeds along the bank really interesting.

The mission will be receiving 6 new cars tomorrow so Elder Ashton has been busy trying to line up helpers to go to the dealership with him (about  8 miles away) and drive the cars back to the office where he will switch out the Tiwi devices when the missionaries bring the old cars in.   However, he won't be required to don  his plaid sport coat and sell the cars.....The church offices in Salt Lake City have arranged for some dealer to buy then all.   It will be interesting to see how this new program works.

What a great afternoon we had today.   We had many of our family members come and join us for a meal.   And for about 30 minutes we had all 8 of our great grandchildren here......but guess who didn't think to snap a picture :/   Darn!   Each time I prepare a meal for our large group in my new kitchen I can't help but get excited and I just have to tell Elder Ashton how much I love my new kitchen!   It makes it a pleasure to cook for loved ones in a convenient and roomy new kitchen :)

Happy Fall to one and all.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Train Adventure

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I'm so glad it is Sunday and I have a few minutes to catch my breath.....this past week I felt like I was running and running but could never quite run fast enough to catch the train .....   then Monday as I tried to make it home for a quick lunch (because I had piles of work waiting for me at the office), I got stopped and had to wait for the long train to go by.   In the 18 years I have lived in Gilbert, I think this is only the 3rd time I have had to wait for a train.   To avoid frustration I decided to imagine where the cargo on each train car was going.....and before I knew it I was again on my way home for lunch.

The train lumbering along.

Finally....the end of the train.

When I returned to the office I got busy trying to complete the 14 binders that needed to be ready on Tuesday.  It was pretty challenging because the printer was not functioning properly and even after the repairman came, it would only print one sheet at a time before jamming.   Tense afternoon as I tried to finish. However, it seemed a little better as the departing missionaries began to arrive for their departure interviews with the President and to get their luggage weighed.

Sister Bischoff is ready to roll.  Her bags both came in at least 5 lbs under the allotted 50 lbs.

Elder Marler and Elder Reynolds get their luggage weighed as Elder Macki looks on.   They both passed as well - no repacking needed.

These missionaries departed on Tuesday morning at about 9 a.m.    Incoming missionaries arrive at 11:30 and are brought to the church for lunch and some orientation.

Elder Ashton and I went to the church about 11:45 to take care of last minute preparations in the room where we provide the orientation training.  As you can see from the image below - as senior missionaries we get to try our hand at new things.....Elder Ashton was trying out a little artwork/signage to assist the incoming missionaries.

Evan as the missionaries walked in the door and this was on the wall directly in front of them, we had a couple ask what they were supposed to do with their luggage;-)

And speaking of luggage, I thought this was a really cute set - especially if you were taking a "road trip".

The Sisters who prepare the lunch for the missionaries do a great job - with the food and the decorations.   We really appreciate all that they do!

When I arrived at the office on Wednesday, I found a brightly colored envelope with a smiley face on it laying on my keyboard.   I opened it to find these two origami cranes inside.   It really touched me because earlier in the week I had read that origami cranes are considered good luck for cancer survivors.   One of our small Sister Missionaries (from Mangolia) had made these for Elder Ashton and I and written a very sweet note thanking us for all we do.   That, coupled with the teary eyes as I said good-bye to one of the Elders who left, reinforced that we are doing a good thing for these young missionaries.

Love these origami creations!

We had another surprise on Thursday (I think) morning at the office.   Elder McKnight who returned home about 2 months ago stopped in to say hello.   He looked and sounded really good.   He spent some time unable to drive while he was on his mission because he was speeding and had his Tiwi card (that allows him to drive) taken away.  He couldn't wait to tell  Elder Ashton that he has a video of him going 100 miles an hour after he got home - and saying "Take that Tiwi".   I would say a part of his frontal lobe of the brain has still not completely developed....but he was going on his first date with this young lady to the temple so I guess he can't be all bad;-)

Thursday afternoon/evening was the Gladys Knight and the Saints Unified Voices Choir fireside in our mission. (No, they did not sing Midnight Train to Georgia but that song has been running through my mind all week :) )  We had been working for weeks in preparation for this and it was a huge effort.   Firesides were also held in Mesa and Tempe. We helped with the administrative side of tracking people who requested that a packet be delivered to them.  As of today I see that we have about 200 people that live within our mission boundaries that requested the packet.   That should keep the missionaries pretty busy for awhile.

Yes - even though she is a few years older than me - she really does look like this!

We were privileged to take a short break from our duties and listen to Sister Knight talk about her family joining the church and her investigating to make sure her kids weren't joining a cult and some of the feelings and thoughts she experienced.   She talked about knowing that singing is what Heavenly Father wants her to do and she considers her voice a gift from Him.   She then sang a beautiful song about her feelings for Jesus.  I wish you all could have heard it!

Friday was spent updating spreadsheets in the office.......I only got about half done so I will have plenty to keep me busy this upcoming week, too.   After arriving home on Friday I checked FB and started to see a bit about Hurricane Matthew not treating my friends and ward members back in Virginia and North Carolina very good.   I continue to have a prayer in my heart for them as they had some pretty significant flooding in the area and will be mopping up for awhile.   In the 18 months we were there, we saw only a little flooding but we did see places along the road where markers indicated that water could get up to 3 or 4 feet in some areas.....I think it got that high yesterday/last night.

Sending special thoughts and prayers to those we came to love in Virginia and Georgia.   Hope you are all safe and recovering (even if it be slowly)!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Young Missionary Adventures

Sunday, October 2, 2016

It has really felt like October today - woke up to rain early this morning and have had drizzling rain off and on all day.   It was a nice day to be inside watching General Conference and feeling the spirit of the speakers while enjoying the sound of rain on the skylight.   Sunday afternoon session was especially meaningful to us as our nephew, Bro. Brian K. Ashton spoke and was followed shortly by our former Mission President here in Gilbert - K Brett Natress.   I really loved the messages from conference - they gave me much peace and calmness even though we live in a challenging time!   As our nephew spoke this afternoon, I had a strong feeling that his paternal grandparents (my in-laws) were aware of his participation in conference and were feeling blessed by all of their posterity.  

On Monday, I woke up feeling energized when the alarm went off at 5 a.m. so I got up, put my work-out clothes on and headed to the gym.   As I drove toward the gym it was barely getting light.   I felt good all through the work-out and as I left the gym I noticed a beautiful sunrise to the east.   Immediately the words, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I've got a beautiful feeling, Everything's going my way" popped into my head and I began humming the tune.   That seemed a little strange to me as I am not usually a fan of Mondays but this past one turned out to be a good one!

Pretty sunrise on Monday.   Looking forward to a great week.

For the rest of the week, the office got quite busy every afternoon with missionaries coming in and out.   There was so much going on that it was a little challenging to get my work done - and I was trying to prep for the missionaries that will be arriving on October 4.   I still needed to make 5 binders for incoming missionaries, but I was waiting for some updates to be completed.

When we arrived at the office, we learned that we should expect 3 more missionaries who would be coming to Gilbert until their visas arrive and they can go to their field of service outside the US.   That meant I would need to make 8 binders.    In a couple of hours I was handed a folder that had 27 applications from young people who want to serve a mini-mission starting Friday, October 7.   Each of those need a personalized binder prepared for them.....seemed like I would be printing and collating binders most of the week.  I tried to get all of that done around the interruptions of missionaries coming in and asking for supplies.

Tuesday afternoon - missionaries in the office waiting for interviews, picking up supplies, waiting for
Elder Ashton to look at their car, etc.   In the meantime, I had started preparing binders (note box of binders) for the mini-missions and two boxes of supplies arrived that needed to be put away or given out to the waiting missionaries.   It was just a little crazy busy :)

The Assistants to the President also came into the office for at least part of every day trying to finalize tickets for the Gladys Knight fireside that will occur on October 6 and October 8.  I think they finally completed the division of tickets on Thursday afternoon.

Figuring out Gladys Knight ticket allocation.

Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. I was rudely awakened when I fell out of bed (don't know why) and hit my eye/forehead on the night stand.   OUCH!   It hurt and Elder Ashton had to jump out of bed and doctor me up :)

Only a little butterfly to mark the injury on Wednesday.  I was almost able to hide the rest of the injury with make-up.

By Thursday I was no longer able to hide the injury - I really have a shiner.   In fact, a guy at the grocery store on Saturday told me I had the best shiner he has ever seen ;-)

I was still trying to get all those binders done, and by the time the updates were complete, we had a melt down with the printer.   It won't pull the pages through without them being crooked or crumpled on the color printer and about 1/8 of the pages in each binder need to be printed on a color printer.   They (Xerox) sent us a new part but that didn't fix it.   They are supposed to send another one and if that doesn't fix the printer they will sent a repair man out.   I'm beginning to panic just a little because the 8 binders need to be completed by Tuesday morning.   

This is the stack of papers that have already been printed.....I still need to print about 50 more pages on the color printer.   Crossing my fingers that they get it working by Monday afternoon!

Next week's schedule looks daunting - prepare for arriving missionaries on Monday,  arrivals and training on Tuesday, Wednesday is transfers when we need to implement all the updates to companionships, Thursday is Gladys Knight Firesides beginning in the afternoon and ending after 10 p.m.   We are expecting about 400 referrals from that day, so we will be busy!   Friday we will continue to work with the referrals from Fireside and update the spreadsheet for temple attendance with the new transfer information.  We expect more referrals from the Saturday afternoon Fireside and I'm not sure yet what my role will be in that but I'm sure there will be some involvement.   I think I will be tired by the time the week is over!

I've been going to the mission office 5 days a week for the past 5 months and just this week I noticed that the bark on the trees by the office is polka-dotted......found that pretty interesting.

Perfect end to the week today when we had family over for dinner.   We had 22 there and had a great time talking with kids, grandkids and watching these two youngest great grand kids hug on each other!   Luke and Grayson seem to really like each other!

Happy Fall from the Arizona Desert!