The Greatest Blessing of being a Serve from Home Missionary is being able to enjoy the love and company of family while still serving full time as a Missionary. On those special days when we get to do both, I get a special little feeling that makes me believe this will be what is is like when we have eternal life with our family members---We can work diligently to do good works and serve the Lord and still enjoy the wonderful companionship of our family members. I am really looking forward to that!
One of the disadvantages of being a Serve from Home Missionary is that there is not enough time in each day to give as much service as we want and still spend as much time with family as we want to. Hence, the scarcity of blog posts over the last couple of months - family and mission are totally filling the hours in each day. Here are the highlights from November and the first few days of December (Oh, my, how can it be December already!?!)
First week of November we had a visit from Elder Cornish. He spent two days in meetings with the missionaries and gave them some very wise counsel about missionary work and making the most of the opportunities they have at this time in their life. On the first evening he was here, Elder Ashton and I were privileged to attend a dinner at one of the church buildings with him. He brought his wife on the trip and Elder Ashton and I and the other couple of Senior Missionaries from the office sat at his table during dinner and got a chance to know them a little better. Elder Cornish wanted us to tell him how we thought the mission was running and what could make it better.....I couldn't think of anything but Elder Ashton said he thought it could be better if missionaries learned some basic life skills before they entered the mission field. When he said life skills I was thinking cooking, ironing shirts, budgeting money, etc. but Elder Ashton was thinking of keeping your car clean and knowing how to change a bike tire, etc. He explained to Elder Cornish that he has been going to planning meetings on Fridays and trying to give some of that training but most of the missionaries don't seem too interested. Elder Cornish' response to Elder Ashton was thought provoking. He said, "in your training you are trying to answer a question they haven't asked. They don't think they will ever need to know how to change a bike tire because they can bring it to you and you will change it for them." I realized how true that is with most of us......we don't want training on something we don't think we need to know - whether it be in a temporal or spiritual context. I remember about a couple of months before I got married my mother offered to let me prepare some meals that I might be able to cook. I told her I didn't need to do that because I knew how to cook - cookies, muffins, etc. that I had learned in 4-H. Little did I know it would be MUCH different to prepare a meal and have everything ready at the same time. Thank goodness Elder Ashton was patient with me ;-) Now, after nearly 50 years of marriage I can almost always make it come out right - but still not every time!
During Elder Cornish's visit his time with the missionaries was spent at Zone Conferences. Elder Ashton and his helpers always inspect cars for cleanliness and safety at those Zone conferences.
Elder Bradstreet receiving award from Elder Ashton for cleanest car in their zone.
At this same time, Elder Ashton was assigning new cars to missionary companionships. He had received 6 cars and had one that was not yet assigned so in his weekly email he decided to up the competition and told the missionaries that the companionship that had the highest inspection score in the whole mission would get the last new car! Elder Cornish thought that might make an interesting story to tell to the leaders in Salt Lake!
And the winners were Sister Angeloudis (from Australia) and her companion. Sister Angeloudis is still excited about the new car, but unfortunately the companion got transferred the very next week :(
We have missionaries visit the office quite often and these two sisters stopped in one day --- they are two of my favorite sister missionaries. Sister Bolormaa from Mongolia and Sister Butler (I think from Montana). Sister Bolormaa came in the office to work on an application to BYU as she would like to stay in the states and study.
The very next Monday the office started filling with missionaries at about noon as those 11 missionaries who were going home on Tuesday brought their luggage in to be weighed. Sister Kilsby (from Missippi) and her companion (don't remember her name but she went home) came in. Sister Kilsby was having a bit of a hard time thinking about her companion leaving as they had developed a strong friendship.
A few Elders waiting for Elder Partridge to weight their luggage
Sister Ledua will have a long travel time making it home to Tonga. I'll miss her great smile and her great hugs.
Elder DeRosia and Elder Randall - finishing their mission strong and with smiles on their faces. I didn't realize when I snapped the picture that Elder DeRosia had turned his tag around......guess that was a sign that his mission was almost over.
We left in the middle of this chaos to go over to the other church building and make packets of bedding for the missionaries that would arrive on Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m. As I was driving over there and into the parking lot, I noticed that the plants were starting to blossom in brighter colors again now that the air is cooler.
Don't know what this plant is called but I loved the bright reddish-orange bell shaped flowers.
This is a HUGE Bouganvillea bush on the corner of one lot. I think it is at least 10 feet tall and just covered in flowers which are not really flowers but just like the leaves only they are red. They are gorgeous but pretty messy to clean up after a hard freeze and some wind.
The luncheon for the arriving missionaries on Tuesday. We have a lady and her sister who always make the food and decorate the tables......this time it was cute fall decorations.
After lunch we start training - Elder Ashton and I train in the Primary room. He trains on over-all safety for missionaries and talks to them about driving, their TIWI (tattle tale) cards and has their bikes there for them. I tell them a little about referrals, baptisms, and get their temple clothing sizes.
As I was listening to Elder Ashton's training, I looked up and noticed this sign in the Primary Room. I immediately felt a tingling in my body and thought - "I do - I know the scriptures are true, and I am so glad I have them to help me find my way!"
Following the new arrivals we are in full swing for transfers in areas and companionships on Wednesday. This time there were quite a large number of changes and it took me the rest of the week to update spreadsheets and temple information so the weekend was a welcome little rest. I'm thinking there won't be too much more of that until 2017 is here.
One of the transfers resulted in the pairing of these two Elders. When I saw them in the office on Wednesday I was startled by how much they look alike and even asked them if they were brothers before looking at their tags.....they are not. Just two Elders who happened to get assigned as companions. What do you think - don't they look like brothers?
The next week was Thanksgiving so we only worked in the office on Monday, Tuesday and half a day on Wednesday. For the missionaries, they kept up with their normal work except on Thanksgiving Day. I did hear some of the Elders say that they ate 4 dinners on that day and when they made it home that night, they were sorry they had eaten so much.
We had a nice group of family members come to our house for Thanksgiving......I think we had about 18 come. Some of my favorite guests are shown below :)
Cousins Grayson (10 months) and Luke (8 months) had a great time dumping out the blocks and playing with them. Ahhh, I LOVE to spend time with grandkids and great-grandkids!
Brothers Wyatt Keisel and Sean, along with cousin Griffin had a great time collecting snail shells in the back yard! Such handsome and energetic boys :)
Our family visitors from Thanksgiving went home Thursday night and Elder Ashton went over to the office on Friday to get caught up on work. I stayed home and continued preparations for Christmas. With a family numbering 49 it takes a bit of time to prepare and my spare minutes are few and far between so I decided to take advantage of the time I had!
Christmas Eve gifts (mostly focused on the Savior and our relationship to Him) lined up and ready. Each family gets one gift....the silver ones are for our children and their unmarried children. The red ones are for our married grandchildren and their children. This has been a fun gift to prepare for while providing and opportunity for much pondering during the preparation :)
Elder Ashton and I put up the tree on Friday and I found that I didn't have any hangers for the new ornaments I bought to go along with the new color scheme in our house......and there was NO WAY I was going to brave Black Friday crowds for a little package of ornament hangers. I got those early Saturday morning and Elder Ashton and I worked together to get the tree all decorated. I think we did pretty good for a couple of Senior Missionaries with not much creative talent....and the skinny tree fits right in the corner by our dining room table;)
I drive past this tree every day on my way to the mission office and as I drove by the other day the thought crossed my mind that it is a good daily reminder for me of the Tree of Life. It can remind me to keep grasping the iron rod and moving along even when the mists of darkness arise as they do in all of our lives.
Driving home the other day I noticed these bright pink bulb-like things on an organ cactus in my neighborhood. I thought they were buds and would open in bloom in the night....however when I went by before the sun was up the next morning and got up a little closer I found these are really the fruit formed from the night blooms earlier in the year. I guess some think they are edible and even squeeze them to make juice.....too many tiny spines for me. I'll just admire how bright and pretty they are ;-)
As I indicated before, with the cooler temperatures many of the plants are coming out with bright blooms.....these are bright berry clusters on a tree - looks like it is doing it's own decorating for Christmas.
Another tree with the early morning sun peaking through. This one has clusters of reddish-pink flowers scattered throughout the tree.
As I stopped at the dentist office last Wednesday, there was a huge bush of flowering sage.....I just had to grab a picture of the contrast between the bright purple flowers and the muted sage green leaves. At least the beauty of the plant took my mind off going to the dentist for a few minutes. I'm headed toward a root canal this week :/
Walking into the mission office I heard a buzzing behind me and turned around to see a few bees drinking the nectar from the honeysuckle (I think it is called cape honeysuckle). Can you see the bee?
A little over a week ago a man came in the mission office and said he was there to pick up a couple of mission cars that were ready to be sold. In this area the local mission no longer sells the cars - they are hauled to Salt Lake and a dealership up there has contracted with the church to take the used cars and sell them. He parked the hauler in the middle lane of the road and told us he would be a few minutes moving cars around because he needed to drop one off the carrier......
I went outside to check out the process and was surprised to see this Dodge Viper sitting in the road. The missionaries that were around thought that would make a pretty sweet mission car - but the transport driving was only moving it to a different place on the hauler - darn!
Elder Ashton and I had the pleasure of attending a piano recital for two of our younger grandsons. It was held in the piano teachers home and it was a really nice affair. Of course, I thought my grandsons were musical geniuses - especially for their ages :) Things like this are a great benefit to serving a mission from home!!!
Duncan seriously concentrating at the piano......he did a great job playing the piano and introducing himself and the piece he would play. What a great experience for them!
Grady concentrating on his piece. He has only been taking lessons for two months and his teacher wrote a special piece for him.....he did great and the best part was the smile on his face when he finished!
Caught this pre-sunset on the way home the other day.....I love how the sunbeams are reaching into the sky!
Thursday one of our new housing coordinators came in the office and brought a big box of supplies that he cleaned out of an apartment that is empty. Because I am responsible for supplies, it was my responsibility to go through the box and see what was in mint condition and could be used when teaching investigators and what should be stored away for personal missionary use. I found this drawing sticking out of a lesson manual - it appears a very talented missionary did some drawing while he/she was sitting in class. I was intrigued with the detail in this ink drawing and wanted to share it with you.
The president met with a new Senior couple on Friday - here they are being introduced to a couple of the younger missionaries. Elder Ashton is in the background waiting for a chance to "sneak" through and not interrupt the conversation. :)
Saturday night our granddaughter Kodi got married. The wedding was held in one of the churches and turned out to be a nice affair.
Our great granddaughter Shelby (in the lower right) spreading flower petals along the way as she walks toward the groom and groomsmen.
The groom watching the bride walk in
Dad and daughter (our son Wyatt and his daughter/bride Kodi) I see the love shining through dad's eyes :)
Sister Bridesmaids. On the left is the groom's sister, in the middle the bride's younger sister and on the right the bride's older sister. These girls have loved each other, argued about sharing clothes and totally been there to support each other for their entire lives.
Mr and Mrs Baldry
A much better view of the flower girl with her "cowboy" little brother hiding in the background......he was not about to let me get a picture of him.
Two of my great grandsons (Griffen and Sean) occupying themselves with phone games during the reception they thought was boring except for the cupcakes. One of the highlights of my night was when I walked in the door and Sean (on the right) ran up to me, grabbed my legs and hugged me and said, "Hi GG" Those little voices calling me GG just melt my heart. Another perk of a serve from home mission.
We live in a beautiful and interesting world. Walking home from church yesterday I noticed this piece of honeycomb laying in the middle of this bush and bees flying all around gathering nectar from the flowers. I'm waiting to hear details about how all this would work from my bee keeping son. I marvel at the design and function of all things created by our Heavenly Father.
We are still loving our missionary service - especially at this time of year. We are excited to be part of the "lighttheworld" initiative and have opportunity to serve others every single day. This time of year fills my heart with gratitude for my Savior and my Heavenly Father and all the blessings I have in my life.
May you have joy and peace in your hearts and homes this holiday season.....and we'll keep enjoying the perks of a serve from home mission :)