Sunday, June 26, 2011

98th Post (last THM post) - Mon Jun 20 - Sun Jun 26, 2011

Twenty three months ago today we started our mission.  Where has the time gone.  When Pres. Hansen moved transfer week forward one week we told him we would stay for an extra week to help the new couple.  I went over more apartment items with Elder Bowcutt and how to order office supplies through the Church's national account with Staples.  The Stringfellows took us out to lunch today.  We went to the new all you can eat place just north of us on I-45.  The food was very good and it was fun to visit with the Stringfellows, the Howes (Stringfellows replacements) and Sisters Nance and Young.  Leona stayed late at the office, but I went home with stuff from the office and started to sort papers.   A great day to be a missionary.

Tuesday was transfer day (this is transfer week!).  When the AP's got back from College Station with their load of missionaries I load up a group and head out to Katy.  I always check the trailer to make sure  everything is OK (hook up, lights, etc).  I noticed the electrical cable was hanging way lower than normal and that it had been dragging on the ground and had worn clear through the covering and the copper wire).  We had no break or signal lights on one side.  That could be a real problem as my route is mostly freeway or very busy 4 lane roads.  The new AP, Elder White, knew what to do and how to splice wire, so I did not have to do much except to "supervise".  We got the wiring fixed and the missionaries and their belonging loaded, only 20 minutes late or so.  The route takes us to the Bear Creek Chapel and then on the the Mills Road Chapel and back to the office.  We got back to the office on time so I was able to make the departing missionaries program.  We have attended a lot of those meetings but this one was very tender for us.  It was hard to say goodbye and to bear our testimony.  There are 8 elders, 2 sisters, us, Pres and Sister Hansen (departing July 1) and the Stringfellows (departing July 26).  A wonderful group of missionaries that we have great love and respect for.  After the meeting the departing missionaries go to the temple with Pres and Sister Hansen.  Leona and I went back to the office to gather up paper goods, etc and to our apartment to get other dinner items and then off to the temple.  We set up for dinner for the missionaries.  We had the departing elders and sisters, the Hansens, Stringfellows and the mother and younger sister of one of our departing sisters.  The dinner is served in the temple cafeteria.  Sister Tamayo provided the main course (chicken almondine, potato scuffle, and salad), we do home made Texas shaped cookies and fresh fruit.   The dinner went well, the food was great and the visit with the missionaries even better.  It was late when we got back to the apartment.  We found out that our family reunion reservations at Bear Lake were messed up (doubled booked) by the owner.  We pray things will work out as 32 of us have been looking forward to this for a year!
Wednesday we got to the office early to help set up a quick breakfast for the departing missionaries before they go to the airport (normally the Hansens do this meal at the mission home, but the mission home is being repainted, etc for the new mission president and his family and the Hansens are in a hotel). We said goodbye to the departing missionaries - a sad time, but happy for their faithful service and joyous reunions they will have with their families.  We received word that the arriving missionary's connecting flight had been cancelled.  Later in the morning we heard that SLC was able to rebook and the missionaries did arrive close to the original schedule.  Elder Bowcutt took the new arrival's photos and started that process.  The office staff did our orientation for the new arrivals.  Elder Bowcutt and I drove out to visit a perspective new missionary apartment.  Turns out they wanted us to pay for criminal background checks and wanted SS numbers of the missionaries.  We do not do either of those.  I asked them to double check with their corp headquarters to make sure - last time I went down this path the corporate folks agreed with me.  We left early as we had to go up to the mission home to gather stuff we needed for the breakfast in the morning.  It rain hard today, first real rain we have had since last fall.

Thursday we were up early and over to the church to set up and get breakfast ready for the new missionaries, their trainers, the AP's, the Hansens, and various other missionaries who looked like they were starving.  We fixed french toast, bacon, sausage, juice, and fruit.  We had enough "extra missionaries" that there was nothing left over.  President Hansen announced the new championships which is always an exciting thing.  He does such a good job when ever he talks to the missionaries.  He has such a good spirit about him and the missionaries feel it.  Elder Bowcutt took all the pictures and went with me to get them copied.  We send a picture of the new missionary and the Hansens to the missionaries parents along with a nice letter from the mission president.  We left the office a bit early to go home and get some of our furniture ready to ship down to the Cramers who are new employment missionaries down town (just like we were).  It rained a bit today.

Friday we got up early to exercise.  Leona drove me over to the office to get the truck and trailer.  Elders Gardner and Keliipuleole came by to help load some furniture from our apartment and some from the senior sisters apartment.  It did not take too long and then Elder Stringfellow drove the truck and trailer down to Elder and Sister Cramers apartment.  I changed clothes and went to the office. Elder Bowcutt and I drove out to Katy and Sealy to sign leases for four new apartments (two each at two different complexes).  It was a good day as Elder Bowcutt was able to see what that part of his job entails plus was able to ask lots of questions on the long drive out and back from Sealy.  We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sorting through stuff getting ready to leave.  We will leave a few boxes at the apartment ( the senior sisters are moving into our apartment when we depart) and a few at Kent Chamberlain's.  How did we accumulate so much stuff!!  The Stringfellows and Sister's Young and Nance came over this evening for a while.  They had made and framed a cross stitch "picture" that was really nice.  Very kind and thoughtful of them.

Saturday we spent all day sorting through stuff and putting things in boxes or piles depending on where it is to go.  This evening the Sulski's took us out to dinner and ice cream.  We had such a pleasant evening with them.  Their only child, a son, is on a mission in Utah.  They joined the church about 15 years ago and Sister Sulski is serving part time in the mission office as the President's secretary, she and Leona have become the best of friends. 

Sunday we went into the mission office before sacrament meeting to take care of some last minute things.  The Hansen's were at church so we were able to say goodbye to them.  What wonderful people they are!! It has been such a blessing to get to know them, so thankful for that association.
We hate to see this mission end, it has been such a wonderful experience and blessing.  We have felt our Father in Heavens's guidance and we have grown to love the other missionaries as we serve together in this great work.  The Spirit makes this such a great experience.  We do not want to leave full time missionary service here in Texas.  We pray we can do this again.  We have a deeper testimony of the reality of our Father in Heaven and His love for us.  We know from a deeper place in our hearts that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith truly did see what he said he saw and did restore the gospel back to the earth.  What blessed people we are.  We are thankful for our testimonies.  To our friends and family who have provided so much support and service - thank you, thank you.  We love you and so thankful for each one of you and that we are an eternal family.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, June 19, 2011

97th Post Monday June 13 - Sunday June 19, 2011

Monday already and another busy week.  I signed two apartment leases and visited a third apartment complex today - I was out most of the day with those issues.  Leona and I went over the apartment spreadsheet to make sure she was ready to make the rent payments.  Not so many missionaries in today, not sure why.  We made some treats for the missionaries that came in the office - did not take long for the treats to disappear.  We went over to the Stringfellows for FHE.  We watched a DVD by Cleon Skousen about the signs of the 2nd coming especially what will happen in the Holy Land.  Very interesting.  We enjoy our time with the senior sisters and the Stringfellows.
Tuesday I made a quick trip up to Conroe to deliver a rent check to Forrest Creek - just like last month!  Turns out we have a few apartment complexes that are owned by the same company and when we moved apartments at Forest Creek the computer some how got the wrong address.  Anyway we got that resolved - we hope.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning up both my paper and electronic files - our replacements the Bowcutts arrive tomorrow.
We had 6 elders over for dinner this evening, Elders Galbraith, Scoresby, Anderson (Vern Rice's grandson), Sleet, Angilau, and Webb.  All good elders and it is such a blessing to serve with them.  It was another hot hot day.
Wednesday, Elder and Sister Bowcutt arrived safely to the mission last night and they were in the office ready to go to work this morning.  They pulled their 5th wheel trailer from their home in Monroe, Utah.  We started right out reviewing how apartments are set up, leased, provided with utilities, tracked, etc.  We also went over how to set up the pictures for the transfer and picture boards.  Elder Bowcutt picks up things really quickly as he knows how to get around in the computer very well.  Sister Bowcutt and Leona spent the day training and going over finances, setting up new vendors and all the other responsibilities that she will have.  We are so glad they are here and ready to go.  Their son is the bishop in the ward we attend here in Houston, the Olde Oaks Ward.
Thursday Elder Bowcutt and I went to WalMart to get apartment cleaning supplies, and ran some other errands.  We visited an apartment to get the lease renewal process moving.  I reviewed lots of tasks around apartments and documentation again today.  Another wonderful day to be a missionary.
Friday we stopped by Cypress Lake Apartments (where we live) to sign a church lease for our apartment.  When Leona and I move out the senior sisters will move into our two bedroom apartment.  The Church will "sign" the lease and the sisters will reimburse the church for the rent.  They no longer need their 3 bedroom apartment.  It was nice that their apartment and ours both had leases come due June 30.  Leona and I and the Bowcutts went with Elder Stringfellow to pick up four new mission cars at the Ford dealer up I-45.  On the way back Leona took a little side trip (she got turned around) going the wrong direction.  I seen her and tried to get her attention but to no avail.  Because of traffic I could not follow her.  I just hoped she would not drive to far before she realized where she was.  She did make it back to the office after her tour of the I-45 frontage road.  I was so glad she got back (she did not have her cell phone).  Never a dull moment when you are a senior missionary.  I went over to the store and got some ice cream treats for Sister Donkin as it was here birthday today.  After their district meeting they all came back to the office and we sang and had ice cream.  One of the elders that went home several months ago sent Sister Donkin flowers - I'm not sure she knew how to take all that.
Saturday we fixed some chicken in the crock pot and Leona went into the office for a while.  The lady who cleans the mission home and mission office is from Tonga.  She wanted to do a luau for the Hansens before they go home (July 1), so we combined that with the senior missionary dinner.  It was great.  All the senior missionaries, the Hansens and their son and family and the cleaning ladies family (over 30 people from her family) were all that the TC Jester church building.  It was a fun evening.  The Tongans sang and danced and just had a wonderful time entertaining us.  We took lots of pictures and ate lots of good food.  This will probably be the last time we will see some of the seniors.  We have come to love and enjoy our service with them so much.  What a blessing to be a full time missionary.
Sunday and we are thankful for a day of rest.  The Sacrament meeting talks were very good.  Leona slipped back to the mission office during RS to get a letter typed in "Spanish" for the new mission president.  She said that she needed peace and quiet to get it done and knew that it would not be that way tomorrow with P-day for the young missionaries and more training with the Bowcutts.  The Young Women had made Father Day treats for all the dads in the ward.  They were leis made of candy wrapped in plastic wrap and pieces of ribbon tied between each piece.  They were quite decorative, the girls had done a good job and the dads appreciated their hard work.

Mom and Dad

Sunday, June 12, 2011

96th Post Monday June 6, Sunday June 12, 2011

Monday I spent most all day updating the iMOS computer system and the many apartment files as a result of the apartment moves of last Saturday,  lots of little details on lots of forms.  I also ran errands to the post office, bank, and hardware store.  We did not leave the office until about 6pm this evening, some days are long but we enjoy our mission so much and would not want to be doing anything else, what a blessing it has been.  As we were pulling out of the office driveway Leona noticed an armadillo in the flower bed.  It was a baby so we were able to get very close, in fact at one point I was able to pick it up by it's tail.

Tuesday we got up extra early to exercise as we had to be at Zone Conference just after 7AM.  We love our association with the missionaries and with the Hansens.  Pres. Hansen has all the departing missionaries bear their testimonies.  Leona and I were thankful for the opportunity.  Pres. Hansen's comments about our missionary purpose were so inspiring.  We will miss these special times together with the other missionaries - how we have grown to love them.
Pres & Sister Chappell were introduced to the missionaries,  he is the new councilor in the mission presidency.  His wife spoke about how good it felt there at the meeting and how strong she felt the spirit.  It was truly a spiritual experience. 
(Leona)  I must add that at zone conferences Steven always gives apartment training for 10-15 minutes and does a fine job.  He always relates it someway to the scriptures.  This time he talked about when Christ chased the money changers and animals from the temple and how the Spirit could not dwell where there is confussion.  He related that to the missionaries' apartments and how they needed to be clean and tidy so that they can feel the Spirit and be taught.  A great zone conference!

Wednesday we were up early again and on the road down to MD Anderson as Leona had a colonoscopy today.  They got her right in but recovery took a while.  All was fine and she got a good report.  I dropped her off at the apartment and made sure she was OK and then I went to the office.  Sister Sulski is on vacation (church service missionary) and the Stringfellows were at College Station Zone Conference.  I was the only one in the office so I was able to get stuff done (in between phone calls).  Leona felt a lot better after she had some soup this evening.

Thursday was another wonderful day in the Texas Houston Mission.  It was Zone Conference at the Hafer Road building, which is right next to the mission office.  Again it was just a really spiritual feast.  The departing missionaries testimonies were very good .  They almost all said how they had changed in the 18 to 24 months.  For those missionaries who really "get it" there is a big change in them - you can see and feel it.  The member who puts together the departing DVD for the missionaries came and was invited to bear his testimony.  He is a person of great faith and faithfulness.  Pres. Hansen offered the closing prayer and invited us all to kneel (we were in the chapel).  He offered such a wonderful prayer.  Again the spirit was so strong no one wanted to leave, an experience we will never forget. 
We went back to the office - lots to catch up on - didn't leave until around 7pm.  We love it here, we love the missionaries and what we have been asked to do.

Friday, before staff meeting, it was our turn for an interview with Pres. Hansen.  He is so kind and very complimentary of our efforts.  What a great blessing we have had to be able to serve with the Hansens.  I just cannot imagine serving anywhere else, but know we would have if called.  President Hansen offered the prayer at the end of our interview and gave us a wonderful blessing, that of health and knowledge of what direction we should take as we return home.  He also blest our children and their families.  He expressed his thankfulness for our service, but most importantly our example and love toward the missionaries. 
We have received much more from this experience than we have given.  What a blessing this has been. 
There was so much to talk about and plan for in staff meeting this morning.  We will be staying until after this next transfer is over.  So the plan is to leave Texas around June 28th. 
In the next two transfers (August and October) there will be about 20 new missionaries each transfers!!  Those transfers will be very challenging to say the least.  Our largest transfer was 14 missionaries and that was overwhelming.  Needless to say, our thoughts and prayers will be in Houston.  
This evening the Stringfellows, us, and the two senior sisters went down to Alwadi's for dinner.  The others had not been there before, but really enjoyed the food.  They all came back to our place for ice cream and to visit.  A nice evening just to relax for a few minutes with the other seniors.

Saturday Leona went into the office to catch up on some work.  I washed the car and started to sort through some stuff to take home with us.  We are not ready for this "going home" part of our mission.  We did our regular P-day things, washing, shopping and the like. 
Sunday the seniors went to the Magnolia Ward to hear President and Sister Hansen speak in sacrament meeting.  The spirit is always strong when the Hansen's speak.  We enjoyed the  meetings a lot.  The people were very friendly, so down to earth.  Leona said after the meeting on the way out to the van, "I could live here in this ward".  What a nice sabbath day.  We are so blessed to be associated with such good people.  Elder Martin is serving in the Magnolia Ward.  He was transferred there after he left the office about 9 or so months ago (when the Chesnuts left).  It was fun to visit with him and to get a picture at his request.  We are going to be way sad when we leave!

We love you and thankful for each one.  You bring much joy and happiness into our lives, we are so proud of each one of you.  Have a wonderful week.  Be safe!
Mom and Dad

Sunday, June 5, 2011

95th Post Monday May 31 - Sunday June 5,2011

Memorial Day and the Salt Lake offices were closed today so we had the day off. I am thankful to be an American. I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy and so appreciate those who are preserving our freedoms and those who have given their lives doing so. We got up and did our normal exercise routine, then got ready, picked up Sisters Nance and Young and went to IHop for breakfast. I do not remember the last time I ate at IHop. We enjoyed our visit with the sisters and breakfast was rather tasty. 
I completed my on line defensive driving course today. We fixed dinner for Sister Young, Nance, Elder & Sister Stringfellow and her mother and niece who are visiting. The sisters wanted us to come over and watch a video with them. It was a documentary of the Lewis and Clark expedition - very interesting. Just a nice easy going day today.
Tuesday I drove out to Sealy and Katy inspecting apartments. I stopped back at the Concord at Little York apartment complex to sign leases for two, one bedroom apartments. Hot and humid today.
Wednesday I was back down to the Little York apartments moving the elders. Actually it was an easy move as the one apartment was just across the hall and the other apartment was down stairs. When I first arrived one elder said we just about got it done Elder Walker! I looked around and told them maybe 3 more hours. They could not believe it. About 3 hours later we were done. I took the 4 elders to lunch which they enjoyed. They asked me lots of questions about going to college and finding jobs, being a senior missionary and family. It was a rewarding experience being with those elders. The power was turned on, but one apartment's A/C and frig were not working. I talked to the manager about it and they said they would take care of it. They had things running by late afternoon. A long but wonderful day to be a missionary.
Thursday was probably my last apartment inspecting day before we go home. I checked apartments in Magnolia, Tomball and the area around the Temple and mission office. All were in pretty good shape. Lots of ZL's in the office this afternoon following their ZL council. We sure have some fine missionaries.
Friday we drove down to MD Anderson as Leona had an appointment with the dermatologist. It was afternoon before we got back to the office. We were told that Elders Morgan and Struthers had been in an automobile accident and were in the hospital. I called President Hansen just before we left the office to see if I could do anything. Pres Hansen said they were taking the elders back to their apartment so I told him I would meet them at their apartment with their keys that were retrieved from their wrecked car. Elders Struther's eye was all swollen shut and he had a few little cuts. Elder Morgan was real stiff and sore but had no other apparent problems. They are very blessed as the front of their car was pushed up to the windshield and their air bags did not deploy. A lady had pulled out in front of them and they hit her broadside going about 50 miles an hour. (Guardian Angels work double time watching over missionaries!)
We got up early again today (Saturday) and I got the truck and trailer and headed for College Station to move 8 missionaries from two bedroom apartments to 4-one bedroom apartments. Leona stayed and worked in the office. The move went OK considering I had to re-hang closet doors, take apart and reassemble a desk, take shelves off the wall that elders in the distant past had put up, etc.
We had invited Elder Brady (Justin) and his parents to dinner this evening. They have been here visiting for a few days. Elder Brady left about a year ago, he was an AP when we began our service in the office last February. It was fun to see and and visit with him and to meet his parents; good folks and fun to visit with. Brother Brady graduated from AF High in 1980 and his parents were neighbors with June Pack when she lived on Nob Hill in AF - small world.
Michael called this afternoon from San Francisco, he was on his way to catch his flight to Japan. His assignment is to help load or unload a navy ship there, we pray for his safety and that of Niki and kids in his absence.
Sunday morning we drove back to College Station to deliver rent checks to one of the new apartments we moved into. iMos was down yesterday so we could not print checks before I left. The apartment manager was good enough to let us have the keys and move in yesterday without the money. She said your guys have been here for a few years and we have never had a problem and you always pay your bills. We enjoyed the long ride to College Station and attended Fast meeting in the CS 2nd Ward. Very inspiring testimonies about missionary work.
On our drive back home we saw a "Texas mobile home". Maybe that is what we should buy for our next mission??????
We love you and pray for you every day. Have a great week. Find someone to give service to this week - it will bring you much joy and many blessings.
Mom and Dad

Sunday, May 29, 2011

94th Post Monday May 23 - Sunday, May 29, 2011

Can it be Monday already? Time passes quickly when you are having fun! Unfortunately, sometime around 2am Saturday morning someone threw a paving brick through the side window next to the front door of the mission office. The alarm scared them off and as far as we know nothing was taken. The AP's and Elder Stringfellow cleaned it up on Saturday and the FM group made temporary repairs.
As we were exercising this morning we saw pictures of the bad storms and tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri. So many lives lost and property destroyed, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered from these natural disasters.
Today we kept busy with our normal office responsibilities: updating apartment files, paying bills, arranging of lease renewal signings, and just trying to keep up. We had a visit from three elders who left the mission some time ago. One we knew (Elder Neilson AP) and the other two left before we got to the office.
Family home evening was at our place and Sister Young taught the lesson from Preach My Gospel. FHE. We enjoy our time together discussing the lesson and solving "world problems" especially since we really do not know what is going on in the world anyway!

Tuesday I started the next round of apartment inspections. The apartments looked pretty good. I also took the mail and any packages that were in the office. I did the walk through of two apartments we will be moving into next Wednesday. They had installed new carpet and painted so the places looked good. We had Elders Scoresby, Gardner, Galbraith and Keliipuleole for dinner this evening. They are great young men and it is a blessing to know and serve with them. Hot and humid today.

Wednesday I inspected apartments in Conroe, Huntsville, Montgomery, and the Woodlands. Many apartments had improved from last inspection and the missionaries had really tried to correct the negative items. A long drive today. We went to the temple this afternoon. About 10 or so on the session. It was so good to be in the temple - so peaceful and such a great reminder of the really important things in life. We have been blessed with so much including being missionaries.

Thursday I was in College Station, Brenham, and Waller inspecting apartments. We had our staff meeting this morning so I did not get a very early start so it was late in the afternoon when I returned to the office. Over 225 miles today. I stopped by two apartment complexes in College Station to check and make sure the apartments we are moving into will be ready the first Saturday in June. Looks like they are all ready to go. We are moving from a two bedroom apt into two - one bedroom apartments at each location. The country side sure is dry, except between Navasota and Brenham which was green and looked like they had got a lot of rain - must have been very localized, because everywhere else it was dry. I have not seen the grass/plants along the road side so dry.

Friday was another apartment inspection day. I left just after 8 this morning so I was back in the early afternoon. I signed another lease renewal today. When I got back to the office Leona helped me load up a bed and extra box springs. I delivered them to missionaries about 30 minutes north.

Just as we were about to leave the office for the day we received a phone call from an elder who had locked their keys in the trunk of their car. Elder Stringfellow normally handles those kind of car issues but they have family in town and left the office early today. Anyway, we figured out which spare keys to take and off I went. It was rush hour traffic but I did make good time. The elders had gone to some other missionaries apartment so when I got to their car I phoned them. They were so thankful to get their keys and be able to get back to their schedule. Another long day but a great day to be in the Texas Houston Mission.

Sister Stringfellow's brother and sister-in-law spent the night with us. She has several family members in town for the weekend.

Saturday was a BIG shopping day. We went to Krogers, Sam's, HEB, Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and Old Town Spring (looking for fabric). Nothing short of a miracle that I was able to shop so much and live to tell about it. We ate an early dinner at Chipotles and visited with the senior sisters for a while this evening. Very hot and windy today, but not so humid - everything is so dry.

I forgot to set my cell phone to vibrate in church today and of course it rings during sacrament meeting. I have it set to "wake the dead" setting so I can hear it, which makes is even louder when someone is speaking in sacrament meeting. I could not get out the door soon enough! We had planned to have 11 sister missionaries over for dinner this evening and the call was to tell us that the planned baptism had been changed and could they come earlier to dinner! I said yes and when I told Leona about the change of plan we quickly and quietly slipped out while they were singing the intermediate song. We had 9 sisters actually come for dinner. It was fun to be with them and to see their love for each other. We had a good visit/lesson after we ate. Great missionaries we will miss them. In the future, when the time is right, we pray that our grandchildren will find eternal companions just like the young elders and sisters that we have grown to love here.

A wonderful week in Texas - so blessed to be missionaries. We love this work and are blessed to be doing what we are doing.

Have a safe week. We love you and are thankful for you.


Dad & Mom

Sunday, May 22, 2011

93 Post Mon. May 16 - Sunday May 22, 2011

Another Monday and another week gone by way too fast! Apartment issues, utility changes and paying the bills filled our day. I did go out to get the truck and van fueled up for tomorrow and discovered that the wiring for the trailer had either been cut or worn completely through. I found some wire, connectors and the tools I needed in the garage. I got the wires fixed and power to the trailer lights but no turn signals on the left side. I finally took the trailer down to the garage we use to service the office vehicles and they fixed the lights for me. When we pull the trailer with the van it makes for a long "vehicle". We went shopping this evening for missionary dinner and breakfast items for the next few days - this is transfer week.

Tuesday - transfer day! We were at the office before 7:30 this morning. Not many being transferred in the College Station area so the AP's drove the truck up there. They scheduled me to drive the van and trailer to make the Katy/Mills Road Chapel run. I had 8-10 missionaries and all their things at each leg of the journey. I depart the mission office and drive to the Bear Creek Chapel in the Katy area and drop off missionaries and pick up others. We then go to the Mills Road Chapel and unload and load others and then drive back to the mission office. There were lots of missionaries in the office today. Many came to say goodbye to departing missionaries. It is hard to get much done with so many in the office, but we enjoy visiting with the missionaries and to see those we do not see very often. Leona made a big batch of sloppy joes for lunch for those going home, but of course others in the office get fed also. The departing missionaries' testimony meeting was very good. We have some really good sisters and elders going home, they will be missed. After the testimony meeting they all go through a session at the temple. Leona and I go to set up the dinner. Leona's Texas shaped cookies are always a hit. We enjoy being around the departing missionaries in that setting. Hard to see them go. The parents and step parents of one elder from Highland, Utah were there (they even traveled to Houston together). I asked if any were from AF and the step dad said he was from Lehi. I asked did he take shop and he looked at my name tag and said Mr. Walker. He did have dad as a teacher and said that Mr. Walker saved him from cutting off his fingers. By the time we clean up and get back home it is late. A long day but so enjoyable - we are so blessed to be missionaries.

Wednesday I spent doing apartment paper work. I have 4 new apartments to get ready (paper work) by the end of the month. The new missionaries came in this afternoon. Four Spanish speaking sisters, and 7 English speaking elders. One elder is from Hong Kong. He has been in the MTC in Provo learning English. The office staff give the arrivals a short orientation of what we do and have them fill out various papers. I also take a picture of them that I use for the photo board and the transfer board in the President's office. Sisters Young and Nance from the employment center were in charge of the dinner for the new missionaries and the missionaries that will be taking them tracking or teaching this evening. We walked over to the church to see how the meal was going. There was lots of food so we ate with them. The sisters had fixed colorful center pieces and things really looked great. This evening I ran some errands and Leona cooked 6 lbs. of bacon, made syrup and got things ready for tomorrow morning.

Thursday we were up early and to the Mission Home before 7 AM. We made French toast and got the fruit and bacon & sausage ready by 8 AM. We fed about 24 or so. The trainers are invited and of course the new missionaries are there. After breakfast President Hansen announces the new companionships, I then take pictures of Pres & Sister Hansen and each new missionary to send home to their parents. I also do a couple of group shots for the history and then they are off to the temple. After things are cleaned up we stop by the drug store to get copies made of the pictures to put in the mail. Sisters Donkin, Ang, Porter, Perez & Ferro (3'some) are all trainers. It seems just like yesterday those sisters arrived in the field.

At breakfast this morning Elder Galbraith was telling of his experience last evening tracking with Elder Yu, our new missionary from Hong Kong. It seems that some weeks ago Elder Galbraith (EG) and Elder Scoresby(ES) tracked this couple out that seemed interested in the gospel, but the husband was very busy and wanted them to come back in 3 weeks. They spoke Mandarin and some English. When Elder Yu and EG were put together for the evening EG thought it has not been 3 weeks but maybe we should go by this couple's home anyway. The woman answered the door and seemed a bit annoyed at which point EG apologized, but told her he wanted her to meet Elder Yu. Elder Yu began to speak to her in Mandarin and she just lit up. She was so excited. She invited them in, the husband was busy, but again when Elder Yu spoke to him he too got excited to have them stay. EG said he did not understand the "lesson", but sure felt the spirit. He said this couple was truly golden. Elder Yu was scheduled to arrived some months ago, but with visa issues and needing more MTC language time he did not arrive until now - AFTER EG and ES found this couple. The Lord has His hand in this work and is so mindful of ALL His children.

Friday we paid bills, sorted out utility issues, updated apartment inspection check lists for next week, and continued working to complete the new tracking sheets for the new mission president. I delivered a package to one of the missionaries that needed to receive it right away. We were on the go all day. What a wonderful experience this is.

Saturday morning I ran to the store and the post office to mail all the letters(and photos) to parents of new missionaries that Leona had prepared. We decided to go down to the Houston Museum of Science. We went to the butterfly exhibit. That was very interesting to see all the many varieties and colorful butterflies and moths. The huge enclosure is made up of tropical trees and plants with the butterflies everywhere. We also went to a couple of the iMax presentations, TRex of the Sea, and Born to be Free (about orphaned elephants and orangutans and those who raise them so they can return to the wild). We enjoyed our day together.

Sunday, a day of rest - thank goodness! The Sacrament Meeting talks were good. A recent convert spoke about going to the temple. She was baptized in April, conference weekend, and has been to the temple every Saturday since doing baptisms and enjoying the peaceful Spirit there. She said each time she goes she does not want to leave. She is so enthused about the gospel. She invites and brings many to church with her that she meets at work and at her apartment complex, she is an example of being a missionary to everyone. Another speaker told his story of conversion, he said when growing up his best friend was a member and invited him often to activities and church ball games. After he married, he and his wife were trying to find a church to attend and his wife suggested one Sunday morning "why don't we attend the Mormon church". He said that it was the small things that his member friend and church members did for him that made him want to investigate the church when he was older. He made the comment that sometimes we do not ever know what influence we have or the harvest that we help to create - by small and simple things, great things come to pass. Great talks, lots to think about and to work on.

Hope you have a great week and a safe week. We love and pray for each of you every day.


Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 15, 2011

92nd Post Mon May 9 - Sunday May 15, 2011

We spent Monday paying bills, preparing forms, for a perspective new missionary apartment and running errands. We are also trying to clean up files/records of security deposits -some go back many years. Lots of missionaries in and out of the office today. Leona was in my office this afternoon preparing new missionary study binders. Two sister missionary came in the office to visit and ask questions. The one sister goes home next week. She was asking about marriage and how do you know when you find the right person. We had an enjoyable discussion with two very good sisters that are very faithful missionaries. We held FHE at the Stringfellows this evening. Sister Stringfellow showed the new Joseph Smith DVD. What a faithful person he was, and his wife and brother. The weather was hot and humid today.

Tuesday we did our typical missionary work paying bills, apartment issues, phone calls, etc. I had to make a trip up to Conroe as one apartment did not get their rent check from SLC. When I gave the apartment manager the check she said "I was going to call you." She had received a compliant about one of our sets of missionaries. The neighbor below the missionaries complained they were making lots of noise late last night. I got the details and went right over to see the missionaries. The missionaries said they had come home late and were jumping up to see if they could touch the ceiling (it is a high ceiling). In those apartments any heavy walking can be heard below let alone jumping! Anyway I had a good talk with them and I know they felt bad about the compliant. I only have had 3 real complaints about missionaries, one was a false report and the other two involved the same missionary. He is a good young man, just not real focused sometimes.

Wednesday already!!! SLOW DOWN Days!! I entered apartment data into the church's iMOS computer system, ran errands (post office, buying apt cleaning supplies, delivering medication to a missionary). Elder Stringfellow has been working on a new tracking sheet format for the new mission president. The data will come more directly from iMOS so the sheets should be more accurate. We had Sisters Smart, Ang, Donkin and Rodriguez for dinner this evening. I think they would have stayed all evening to visit with us but we sorted of told them "good-bye". They are wonderful sisters and they work is a rough part of this area speaking Spanish. Sister Rodriguez is the only native Spanish speaker. She came from Guatemala just a few years ago with her family. Her English has really improved over these many months. What a great day to be a missionary!

Thursday we continued working on the new tracking sheets, and apartment issues. I drove back down to Katy to fill out the apartment application for the Park Fall Apartments. The 4 elders in that area will move into two - one bedroom apartments. The apartment manager was new and had never done a corporate lease. I had all our insurance letters, credit letters, etc, but she was not "getting it". I told her to call two of our apartments that we have been in for some time and where we have two or more apartments on lease. One of the managers is a member of the church so that worked well when she was contacted. It really rained hard on the way back to the office. This is the first measurable amount of rain we have had in over 100 days. Things are really dry in this part of Texas.

Friday is staff meeting day. We enjoy meeting with President & Sister Hansen and the AP's. There is always such a good spirit there. President Hansen is a good mission president. We left a bit early today to get ready for the ball game. The seniors all loaded into the van and went to the Astros/NY Mets game at Minute Maid Park this evening. There were twelve of us in the van. The only ones missing were the CES missionaries from Huntsville (school is out and they had to go back to Utah for a week or so). We enjoy the evening together, the ball park food and the fireworks after. The weather was very pleasant, cool with no humidity. It was very late when we got back. The Christensons (Huntsville) stayed with us and the Buckways(College Station) stayed with the senior sisters in their spare bedroom.

Saturday the Christensens and Buckways (the senior sisters slept in) came over to our place for breakfast. We enjoyed visiting with them. This is the Buckways 2nd mission (both proselyting -first one was in Alaska). We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, making sloppy joes for transfer week, shopping, making cookies, and in general getting ready for next week. It was such a beautiful day, cool with a lite breeze. The AP's and Elders Sorenson and Gardner came by this evening to bring us the list of transfers for next week. Elder Sorenson is moving and will be a new ZL. We had ice cream and a good visit with these outstanding missionaries.

We enjoyed our meetings at church today. The talks in sacrament meeting were about missionary work and both high councilors really did a great job in covering the subject. Sisters Perez and Ferro called and invited us to the baptism this evening down at the Mills Road Chapel. We picked up the Stringfellows to go with us. The service was in a Spanish Ward but there were missionaries to translate for us so we knew what was being said. It was a great service and actually 3 people were baptized. We enjoyed a wonderful sabbath day and pray you did to.
Have a wonderful week, be careful. We love you and pray for you every day.

Love Mom & Dad