Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post #20 Mon. Dec. 21 - Sun. Dec. 27, 2009

It has been another busy and blessings filled week for us. Monday was an easy ride to the employment office. The traffic was noticeably lighter, I guess probably because many had taken the week off from their jobs. Steve, the employment manager, is on vacation so we (employment missionaries) had staff meeting just with Alex. He is pretty casual and after the meeting he had made shrimp cocktail for us to try. I am not a real sea food fan but Elder Walker is and actually it was pretty good. We contacted some of our candidates and sent job postings. We received an email from one of our candidates telling us that he had had a couple of interviews with a company. In his email he said that during his interviews he felt that he had a lot more confidence in himself and thanked us for the career workshop that Elder Walker had taught. We hope and pray that he will soon be offered a job.
Suzanne and Allen Smith are in Houston visiting their son and his family for Christmas. They came to the center today and took us to lunch. It was fun to see and visit with them and talk about Alpine and family. Suzanne is Steven's cousin (Aunt Lucille's daughter).

On Tuesday we went to work early because we closed the office at about 3pm so we could attend the mission Christmas dinner, devotional and picture "shoot". At work we had one of our candidates come in. She is a single mom of two boys. She drives a school bus and makes $16.00 per hour but wanted a better paying job so she could provide a better life for her boys. She has friends who work at a refinery and make good money and have good benefits so she has been trying or thinking that she would like to work at a refinery. We talked to her about a school that she was looking at to take a class that will help her get into a refinery job. Steven advised her that she should make sure that after she takes the class that the school has a good track record of graduate placements. He also pointed out that at a refinery she most likely would have to work shift work. She had not thought of that and who would watch her boys while she was working? We then talked about her bus job and if there was a possibility of advancement there. Steven helped her think of things that she had not thought of before. She said that we were an answer to her prayer. We told her that we just wanted her to make sure that she had all the facts before paying lots of money for a class that might not help her get the employment that she thinks she wants. She said that right now she needs to be home with her boys at night so I think that she will check on advancing with the school district bus department. A very smart, ambitious young mother trying to do her best to take care of her boys and herself. When she left the church I could tell that she was happier, less confused and more at peace with her life.
I am so thankful that we were able to go to the mission Christmas conference. The devotional was great. One zone sang a Christmas song and read scriptures. One sister played the flute when her zone sang. Two sisters and two Elders sang together; all the musical numbers were just beautiful. President Hansen offered the closing prayer, what a powerful prayer as he blessed the missionaries and their families. He offered a special blessing on a young sister who is going home for emergency surgery. It was a very spiritual meeting and I am so thankful that we were there. After the meeting they passed out letters to the young Elders and Sisters from their parents and gave them time to read them there in the chapel. We then each received a gift from President and Sister Hansen and also a Christmas card from the First Presidency. I am thankful to be a missionary and the great army of missionaries we are serving with.
When we returned home Elder Cameron and his new companion stopped by. He has some slacks that need a stitch or two and I am very thankful that I can help. These young missionaries who are serving in these latter-days are the best!

Wednesday was real quiet at work, no one called or came in. We sent job postings, checked new church employment website and updated our candidates files. The weather was real damp and warm, kind of reminded me of Arabia in December. It was our mission temple day today so we closed an hour early and went to the temple. It is a beautiful temple. After the session, I was leaving the dressing room I saw Sister Beck who used to live in Delaware. Her husband was the Bishop of the Christiana Ward and while he was serving as bishop he had a heart attack and died.
She then moved to Houston and we lost track of her after that. She has remarried and works in the temple on Wednesday! Another "tender mercy" to be there at the right time and to meet her again. We caught up with Steven and met her husband for just a second, I hope we can get together with them at a latter time. Today is Prophet Joseph Smith's birthday. I know he truly is a prophet and through him the gospel was restored. It has been a great day. I am thankful to be a missionary and I have the best companion!

Thursday we went grocery shopping for just a few items that we needed. We delivered a Christmas treat to our Hispanic neighbors who live above us and to the side of us. Our neighbor above us is worried that her three children make too much noise but we assured her again that they were just fine. In the evening we went for a drive to see the Christmas lights in some of the nearby neighborhoods. The weather was cold and very windy today.

Friday was a very sunny beautiful Christmas Day. We slept in until 7am and had a very nice morning together, our first Christmas in the mission field and we are glad we are here. We received nice gifts from friends and family. Debbie had put together a book with the Family Proclamation and pictures of our family though out the book it is beautiful, tears flowed as we read it. What a beautiful day, with the flowers out and all (in front of the apartment complex).
We went to my cousin Kent Chamberlain's home for dinner. It was fun to visit and be with him and Diane. There was just the four of us and we talked of Alpine and our families. It was a wonderful day. We talked to our kids and some of the grandchildren, everyone is doing well and they have each enjoyed Christmas. We are thankful for our family.

On Saturday the senior missionaries came to our apartment for breakfast, it was fun to have them. We drove to the Johnson Space Center together and enjoyed our time there. It is an interesting place but very crowded today. The weather was a bit on the cool side so poor Elder Walker nearly froze.
Sunday we visited the Katy 4th ward. We met our only candidate in that ward, he is now employed and we were happy to get that news! Sacrament Meeting talks were very good and we enjoyed meeting with the members of that newly formed ward. The priesthood and RS lessons were very good. A very nice sabbath day, cool, lots of sunshine and no wind.

We love our mission experience and are so thankful to be able to serve together.
May the Lord bless you
Love Mom and Dad

Sunday, December 20, 2009

19th Post - Monday Dec 14 - Sunday Dec.20, 2009

It was a rainy drive up to the Hafer Road office Monday morning, but the traffic was not bad at all. We had our staff meeting this morning and reviewed every one's schedule, career workshop schedule and so on. Alex found several items in the fridge so he decided to make a breakfast casserole, which turned out real good. I think he leaves his home without breakfast most mornings. We spend the day contacting our candidates and reviewing their progress on the new website. It took us over an hour and ten minutes to get home this evening - the traffic was bad.

Tuesday morning we got the car serviced at a little shop just a couple of blocks away. This is our go to the office at noon day. We made several phone calls to candidates this afternoon. One was to a returned missionary that came into the office a week or so ago. We gave him a really good contact in the Methodist Hospital system last week so we wanted to follow up with that. Well he had not done much because he does not have a resume. We told him to come to the center right away and we would help with his resume. I can not believe how some folks never get out of low gear.

We got up early this morning and drove over to Alex's home to meet Sister Lish and Sister Billingsley. We left our car there and drove the office car to San Antonio. Steve Stott, the office manager, drove the storehouse pick up to San Antonio earlier in the morning. We moved the employment office in SA from the downstairs to the upstairs of a church building. The move was mostly completed by the time we got there (about 3 hour drive), but there were still some things for us to move. Following the move Steve drove us up to the temple to take some pictures. The temple is on one of the highest bits of land in the area. We could see all over San Antonio - what a beautiful location. The temple is really something. The stain glass, even from the outside, is magnificent- the windows are so large. We then drove to a real Texas BBQ place and ate some of the best BBQ we have ever had. Turkey, beef, sausage, potato salad, beans, cream corn that was really good, peach cobbler and coleslaw. The food was excellent. We then drove down to the Alamo. What an interesting place. For Texas this was the real beginning of their freedom from Mexico and a starting point of the Republic of Texas. We enjoyed the history and feeling for patriotism a lot. We then walked along the River Walk which was especially beautiful as they have the Christmas lights hanging from the big cypress trees along the river (more like a canal). It was really quite cold but we enjoyed the walk. Steve had hotel rooms for the night for us.

Thursday Steve had some office work to do and then training meetings in Austin so he told us to enjoy our day in San Antonio. We drove down to a market place down town which is the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. It was very interesting to walk around - so much stuff and things to see it was fun. We then went to see the story of the last few days of the Alamo. It was a movie made especially for the IMAX theater. Very interesting movie, even if at the end it was a bit to realistic - you were right there as the last defenders were over whelmed. Great story. We drove back to Houston in the late afternoon. Interesting country side around San Antonio, more hilly and not as flat as it is around Houston.

Friday we were at the Bering building. No career workshop this week as those that were going to come either had temp jobs or one even had an interview - so that was all good. We left early to come home as Steven had another slice and dice appointment with the dermatologist. The Doctor removed 5 more moles or what ever they call those dark spots. He felt OK enough to attend a wedding reception for Alex's step-daughter that evening. The ring ceremony was to start at 6:30 pm but when we got to the church at 6:20 there were only 2 or 3 cars in the lot, we thought we were at the wrong building. After the people started to arrive things really started to hop. The ring ceremony finally began at about 7:30pm. It was a fun evening.

Saturday was washing and cleaning day. We also did Christmas cards, made candy and treats and went out to get a few groceries and to the post office.

Today we attended the Spring Branch Ward, which is about 15 miles from our apartment. They had their Christmas program which was really nice. Their choir was very good (not like Newark, but almost). The start of the program was different. They had a man singing a solo, and then a woman stood up in the audience and joined in and then another person stood up and then another until one by one the whole choir was standing in the aisles of the chapel singing. Then they made their way to the choir seats. Again the music was really good. They gave Steven a few minutes in priesthood meeting to introduce himself and talk about employment. There were some who wanted our cards to contact us later. The weather has been really nice the past three days, warm sunshine during the day and cool evening.
We pray you will have a very Merry Christmas and a healthy new year. Thank you for your love and support.
Love, Mom and Dad

Sunday, December 13, 2009

18 th Post Mon. Dec 7 - Sunday Dec. 13, 2009

Monday Dec 7 th - Pearl Harbor Day and our day to travel to the Hafer Road Office. It is also the day for our "welfare complex" Christmas dinner. The LDS Social Services, Employment office, Bishop Storehouse, and peanut factory folks all brought food for the dinner. It was great. We had fried turkey, ham, TurDukIn, all kinds of salads, veggies, rolls, pies and all the trimmings. Never heard of TurDukIn? It is boneless chicken stuffed in a boneless duck, stuffed in a boneless turkey. We had a great time visiting with many folks we have not met before, many are volunteers at the bishops storehouse or spouses of the employees. I just felt like having a big nap after such a big lunch. Diane Bromley (Dobson) was in town and called us. She came over to the center for a quick visit. Still the same old Diane, just goes a mile a minute. It was good to see her. We sure have great friends throughout the world who have blessed our lives.
Tuesday we got up early and ran as normal, but also fixed breakfast for the two sets of Spanish speaking Elders in the apartment complex. Leona really fixed a nice breakfast casserole, pull-apart-bread, fresh fruit salad, etc. I think the Elders were full by the time they left. We sure enjoy them. They even sang a Christmas hymn in Spanish for us before they left. As we were eating we said, "have some more casserole Elders". Well, one Elder wanted to know what a casserole was. In the explanation we made a comment "I'm sure your mother has made casseroles before" to which he commented that his mother does not cook. Poor kid. We had a fellow come into the center this afternoon who was born in Peru and is a returned missionary. He has lived in this country since he was about four. Real nice brother, with a big family. Hopefully we will be able to help him.

We had invited several to our Career Workshop today, but only one showed up. It's too bad, people who could use the help do avail themselves of what the church has to offer.
Tobiaus seemed to enjoy the class and the information. I also enjoyed my time with him. His English was not bad and he is a very intelligent person so I am sure it will not take long for him to find something.

Thursday and our day at the Broadway building. Another returned missionary came in today. He is not married and is looking for anything right now, especially at a hospital as he has worked at a hospital before. We started the registration process online and told him about the career workshop next week. I hope he will attend. We had to travel back to the Hafer Road office this afternoon for monthly Ward and Stake Employment training. It was really good training but not very many attended. The drive home was long as the traffic was real heavy even though it was late. Very cool and windy today.

Friday and back to the Bering building. We had just one at the final session of the career workshop today. He had lots of questions and comments so our time was well spent. We were just ready to sit down and have a bite of lunch when a sister came in for resume help. She is a graduate of our career workshop some months ago and has been to the special resume writing class. She has had writers block and just can not get her resume done. She told me she was disappointed in the resume class as she did not get what she needed. Well over 2 hours later she left with an outline and with a greatly increased sense that she could "do this". She could not thank us enough. While I was helping her with the resume a young couple and a fellow from Africa came in. Leona was really hopping to keep them all going. The young couple apparently were living with parents and did not have much of a clue on job search skills. Not sure they came into the center on their own (probably had some encouragement from parents!!). I got a chance to talk with the fellow from Africa before he left. He has been living in France, has a very good education and is very smart. I am sure he will get a job soon.

We completed our normal p-day activities in the morning and early afternoon. It was then off to the Houston South Mission Home for a dinner with the South Senior Missionaries and their mission president. President and Sister Saylin are new to the mission, they are young and have their 6 children with them (ages 15 to 4). What a challenge that would be! We have became acquainted with some of the South senior missionaries (as we live in the South Mission) so anyway we were invited by them (not sure the mission pres and his wife knew we were coming or a least that we were not part of their mission). Anyway they made us feel very welcome and it really was a great dinner. We all then went over to the Williams Trace Baptist Church to hear the Fort Bend Boys Choir and their Christmas program. The music was very good and we really enjoyed the evening.

We attended church in the Katy 3rd ward today. Leona met a lady sitting next to her in RS who was at the Uof Delaware with her husband years ago. She knew the Tabors, Ridges, and Bushmans. I got to spend a few minutes with the Bishop, but I do not think they have many that need employment help. The one candidate we have on our files is now in the Katy 4th ward after a very recent ward division. No one came up to us and shook our hand or welcomed us today. We made the first move in every case. The ward did seem more affluent than what we normally see. The talks and the special music were wonderful. The special music in sacrament meeting was provided by two young men, one on the cello and the other on the piano. They played "O Holy Night" it was really good. I was reminded of Charlie, he was such a good person and I have missed him. We had Elder and Sister Greenwood over for dinner today. They live in the apartment complex, work at the Clayton Library downtown and leave to go home this Wednesday. It has been good to have them close and to get to know them.

We sure love and appreciate all the good folks we have met since we arrived in Houston. Our mission experience has been such a blessing to us.
May Heavenly Father bless and watch over you all.
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, December 6, 2009

17th Post Mon Nov. 30 - Sun Dec.6, '09

It is hard to believe how fast each week slips by. We have had another wonderful week in the mission field and will be eternally grateful for this experience.

Monday took us to the main employment office located by the mission office. It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 70 minutes to get there from our apartment. The ride on Monday was good not much traffic. It was a quiet day, we had our weekly staff meeting and discussed little problems we are experiencing with the new website. We each received our assignment for the Christmas lunch that will be next Monday with all those who work in the bishop's storehouse and peanut butter factory. Sister Lish returns from Idaho (her sister's funeral) tonight, she has been missed.

It rained a lot on Tuesday, in fact we got wet on our early morning run. The furnace at the Bering Building is having problems so no heat in the part of the building where our office is. The chapel was warm so we opened the doors hoping some of the warmth would come down the short hallway. When our hands got too cold we would sit in the chapel to thaw out for a few minutes. A nonmember family came for help in the late afternoon. The missionaries are teaching them. They have a new baby and a three year old. He spoke pretty good English but his wife did not. We helped them on the computer with restaurant jobs and phone numbers and addresses. He has done construction work and we found a job lead for that type of work that he will call about tomorrow. A very nice family and they so appreciated our help. We told them to come back and use the computer if they needed to since they did not have one at home. If I was wealthy and had a business I would like to hire him and the many others just like him that we have met. Our side walk outside of our apartment was flooded by the time we returned at 9:30 pm so it was another one of those times of walking through ankle deep water to get home - another missionary memory for us!

On Wednesday it was very cold at the church. We usually take a lunch but today we left for a bit so we could go someplace a have a warm bowl of soup. A church maintenance man came to fix the heating problem but had to call the contractor because he could not figure what was wrong. A member came in for employment help. He wants to go to the Middle East to work. He has friends who are working there and "making lots of money". Steven told him that his best chance of getting a job over seas would be to contact his friends and get information from them of job opportunities. He plans to come to the career workshop next week. We left at about 4:30pm because it was so cold. I never thought in September that Texas could get this cold.

Broadway center on Thursday. For the first 45 minutes Elder Walker does his normal routine in this building of trying to hookup/get the Internet to work and I busy myself with a vacuum and restock toilet paper and towels in the lady's restroom. This building is well used by several Spanish units and we enjoy our day serving here, just wish that we spoke Spanish. We spent the day on the phone trying to reach our candidates and sending emails. Elder Cameron and Elder Cole (they live in our apt. complex) stopped by at about 9:00pm with some pants that need to be repaired. I am so thankful to be able to help in this way. They are such fine Elders. I love to be around all the missionaries and so thankful for this blessing in our life to be called on a mission; for the bounties of life that we have been blessed with that allow us to be able to serve.

Another cold day at the center (56 degrees in the office!) . The contractor got the furnace working about 3pm so we were thankful for him and his skills. It snowed today in Houston! That was quite an event, it didn't last long but the car was covered. A member came to practice the piano and stopped by to visit with us about a job. He has a limo business but right now it is a slow time for him so he is looking (kind of) for something to supplement his income. He says his passion is piano and would like to play at weddings or fancy hotels. We had him fill out a form for us. When we left the office at 5pm we thought that we would have a crazy ride home in the traffic but was pleasantly surprised to find no traffic! I guess everyone went home early. We did turn the furnace on in our apartment for the first time - so you know it was cold.

Saturday was our clean the apartment, do the laundry and go shopping day. The snow was still on the car early this morning and there was frost on the roofs of the apartment buildings. We read some and I worked on mending the elders slacks.

Today we drove down to the Richmond Ward, which is west and south of Houston. It is a very large ward with over 60 kids age three and under. They have 4 large nurseries and two elders quorums. We were able to visit with one of our engineering candidates. It looks like his contract job may well turn into full time employment after the first of the year. They introduced us in sacrament meeting and several came up after and wanted to talk with us. The high priests gave Steven a few minutes to tell about the services provided by the employment center and after the high priest group leader said the elders need to hear that. He took Steven right down to the Elders quorum (they were combined today) and they gave him ten minutes to talk about employment. He had several express interest in the career workshop and other services we provide. It was a good sabbath day....well almost. I was sitting in Relief Society and looked down at my feet and could not believe my eyes - I had one brown shoe and one black shoe on! Well, I could not hide my feet fast enough. After the meeting Steven came to the Relief Society room to walk out to the car with me and I told him we had to leave now! He said not to worry if anyone said anything just say, "oh these are my favorite shoes and I have another pair just like them at home". Oh well, just old age and another missionary memory!!
We continue to be blessed and are so thankful for this marvelous opportunity in our life.
We love you - may Heavenly Father continue to bless you.
Mom & Dad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

16th Post Monday Nov. 23 to Sunday Nov. 29, '09

The traffic was light driving to the Hafer Road office on Monday. Not sure why unless folks had the week off. Alex called in sick and Sister Lish is still in Idaho for her sisters funeral, so things were quiet in the office today. I am still fighting a cold but the medication helps. We took advantage of being at the main office to get our questions answered about the new web site. Lots of little issues we needed help with.

Tuesday we had an interesting fellow come into the Bering center. He has a good job and does not anticipate being without work soon, but just wanted some suggestions on his resume. He has worked for the same company for 30 years and is in the process of applying for a different job within the company. He would also like to possibly get a job transfer to Florida which is home for him. We talked about several ways to improve his resume. He was such an up beat fellow and a convert to the church of several years, it was fun to visit with him. We also phoned several of our contacts to see how they were doing (not many ever contact us). We finally got a hold of one non-member who we had never had direct contact with before. We asked about all the job listings we had sent and he said he never received them. Well we knew the emails were sent so we got to thinking and asked him to check his spam mail. Sure enough there were all the emails with the job postings. He now understands how important it was to check his email more closely as at least one job would have been just right for him and probably would have resulted in an interview.

Wednesday we had our west Africa brother come back into the center. He had received the information we sent about the security company (he really wants to work as a security officer). He had started his online application at church but the person helping him did not have time to complete the application process. I told him we could help. Two hours later we were less than 50% complete with the process. He was tired and said he would come back "next week". It is so hard for some people from different cultures to figure out our USA system, but we do what we can to help.

Thanksgiving Day. We meet the other Senior Missionaries at the Hafer Road office for our Thanksgiving dinner. The Chesnuts, Dorius, Walkers, and Sisters Billingsley, Higham, and Young. Mom (Sister Walker) made pumpkin and lemon meringue pies, bake yams, dressing, and a cheese ball. We had turkey, ham, rolls, vegetables, pecan pie, green jello salad, a green salad and all the stuff that make a great dinner. The turkey had been fried so that was a first for us. It was really good. The weather was cool, never got out of the 60's (high). We had a wonderful day and a good visit with the other missionaries.

The employment office was closed Thursday and Friday so we had a long weekend. Friday we did some shopping and looking for candy supplies. We spent 2 + hours in Hobby Lobby so that was a real test for me (I believe I passed).

Saturday we got up and drove to the temple. The traffic was light so it was a really relaxing drive. Not too many on our session. We really enjoyed our visit and just relaxed in the temple for a while. We went to the "This is a Place Book Store" which is close to the temple, it's like the one in DC, just a bit larger.

Today, Sunday we drove down to the Sugar Land 1st Ward. We were there about a month ago but decided to go back as we have two new candidates (husband & wife) that we wanted to meet. I spoke to the husband about how we could be of help, but they want to move back to New Jersey. They have already contacted the LDS Employment Center for that area. Our other candidates were not at church again this time, so we missed seeing them once more.

The combined relief society priesthood meeting was very interesting. The stake YM president made a presentation about gifts, Christmas and the Savior. He talked about special gifts he had received during his life and shared with us the gift of Elder Bruce R. McConkie's last general conference address, what a powerful testimony he bore. It was a very touching experience to see that talk again after all these many years - it truly was a gift to us all. The YM president mentioned he was originally from Lehi, and that his patriarch and seminary teacher was Brother Hakes. I went up after and asked if he knew Russ Hakes and sure enough Russ was the Brother Hakes' son. (Russ was our Stake Ex. Sec, a bishop and former student of Dad's in Lehi). He also graduated with Chris Norman (my brother-in-law) and had taken shop from my dad. He told Leona and I that Brother Hakes and my dad were the two most influential teachers that he had in school. I have met people all over who have had dad as a school teacher and all have commented on his positive influence on their lives. It is really a small world.

We have had another wonderful week in the mission field. Each day we are so thankful for this experience. I have enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon this time like maybe never before. It seems every page has so many "new" lessons and applications for my life. I am so grateful for that wonderful "gift" in my life. I do have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
We love you all and are most thankful for our family and friends.
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, November 22, 2009

15th Post Sunday Nov. 15 - Sunday Nov 22

We had a interesting Sunday. We always try to decide where we should attend church, normally considering which candidates we could possible help by meeting with them. We print our list of candidates so we can review with the bishop, get the church address, and meeting times and print all this on Friday. Well we decided to go to the Baytown 1st Ward again as we have a candidate who is not making much progress. We had called the Bishop ahead of time to set up a meeting with the leadership and our candidate so we could all get on the same page. Well the church website for meeting times was wrong so we got there after sacrament meeting was over. I was feeling bad, but it turns out that was the best thing. The bishop (who was just called into the new stake presidency) walked into the building behind us so we got our candidate and had a good meeting. It was helpful as now the ward knows what we are doing and the candidate knows what he must do for himself. We were waiting in the foyer when we saw a couple of Elders we had not seen earlier, so we went over to say hello. Low and behold one of them was Elder Braithwaite who is Anna Timothy's son, our friend from Delaware (next to Sister Walker). Leona said I've been looking for you and he said I've been looking for you! He and his companion had just been transferred to the Baytown area, in fact missionaries had been pulled from that area and they were the first ones back for awhile. Anyway he had previously served in the Kingwood area and we asked if by chance he knew Perry Dobson. He said "oh yes, I have been in his home several times and he sure make a good chocolate shake." It is a small world. It was fun to be able to visit with him.

Monday we were at the Hafer Road office. We found out that Sister Lish's younger sister passed away and so she went home for the funeral. I miss her good sense of humor. There were two people who came into the center to use the computers today that were not real computer literate so I spent most of my day going between them. They need to know how/where to search for jobs and to understand the questions on job applications (one did not read English very well). After work the senior missionaries were invited to the mission home for dinner. President and Sister Hansen are such gracious people. The dinner was a farewell for Sister Higham who is leaving and a welcome to Sister Young who just arrived. It is always a good time when the seniors get together. President Hansen gave me a temple recommend interview after the evening activities were over. It was good to get to know him better, we had a good visit (and yes I did get my recommend). While I was visiting with President Hansen Leona helped Sister Hansen wash dishes. Sister Hansen told her about their mission call and family. She said that after President Hansen retired they turned in their mission papers thinking they would be going to Costa Rica because a couple from their stake was serving as mission president there and needed (ask) if they would come as proselyting missionaries. A few days before they anticipated receiving their call they got a phone call from SLC and they were told "when your call comes in the mail do not open it, just send it back" A short time after they had returned the envelope they received a call from Elder Uchtdorf (he was not in the presidency at the time) saying he was going to be in Mesa and wanted to meet them. That took place and they just visited and Elder Uchtdorf told them not to worry he just wanted to meet them! A short time later they received a call from President Monson and they were extended the call to be mission president. They then had to wait to find out what mission when their call came in the mail. They are great people and doing a great job - what a responsibility, they are on the move constantly. We had a nice evening.

Tuesday afternoon we had a woman and her brother come into the Bering building for employment help. She is in real estate and needs to find additional work. I believe her brother has a learning disability. We invited them to the career workshop on Wednesday and they said they would attend. (It was cool running this morning, in the 40's and it didn't get out of the 60's all day - very nice).
We had four show up to our career workshop this morning. A fellow we met last week (he is one step above homeless), and a young man who recently lost his job at a big shopping complex - he was the loss prevention and security manager. Also our sister and brother from yesterday came late, but we got them caught up. It was a good group and they seemed to get a lot out of the material.

Thursday and we are at the Broadway Building. There were three relatives (?) who came in this afternoon. They were young had two very small children with them and were looking for jobs. We talked about what LDS Employment does and how we could help. We only have one computer at this center so we did the best we could at showing them how to log on the new web site and get registered, where to find possible job leads and so on. We also gave them some hand outs that will be helpful for their job search. I believe many people come into the center expecting to get a big list of jobs they can go interview for. We do have some job listings and the new web site does have jobs listed, but some want a job given to them.

Friday we only had our two brothers show up for the workshop. The sister and her brother did call back later in the day and they do want to come and finish next week. It is interesting that our nearly homeless brother rides his bike and is always early (even in the rain - it was raining this morning). Our "west Africa" husband & wife came in late this afternoon. They had not checked their email since I set it up for them 3 or 4 weeks ago, nor had they done much job searching. We logged on and they had two emails from the company that I had helped him apply for work. Of course the emails were about 3 weeks old and same with the job leads we had subsequently sent. I think they got the message about how important it is to check their email at the library or here at the center several times a week. The day flew by even though this head cold is about to do me in.

Saturday and Sunday I have not felt like doing too much so I mostly took my Contact pills to keep my nose from running off my face and slept. It has been a wonderful week with lots of interaction with various candidates. That really make us feel like we are helping. We are so blessed to be full time missionaries, how thankful we are to be here at this time in our lives. Thank you for your love and support and for the autumn leaves from Delaware and the letters from grandchildren.
Love Dad & Mom (Steve & Leona)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

14th Post

Time for another blog post. Elder Walker wrote the last two times only because he has a short memory. Last week when he said "who's turn is it?" I said "go ahead" so he thought it was his turn again. I tried that strategy again this week but it didn't work! Of course you get wiser the older you get so for sure he should be wiser this week!

Last Sunday, November 8th we attended the Houston North Stake Conference. That stake was divided and my cousin, Kent Chamberlain, was in the stake presidency so I wanted to be there. Kent now serves as 1st counselor in the new Spring Texas Stake. Elder Craig C. Christensen, a member of the 1st Quorum of Seventy, was the general authority who presided for the weekend. It was a good conference and I am thankful to have been able to attend. I remember how nice it was when Kent's folks, Uncle Zenneth and Aunt Alta were serving a mission in our stake in Delaware and now we are serving here in Houston not in Kent's stake but in the area. I am sure my Grandpa and Grandma Dunsdon are proud of their grandsons. I believe right now at least two are serving as bishops and Kent in a stake presidency. I am thankful for my family and ancestors; for their faithfulness and sacrifices and the blessings of the gospel. It was a wonderful weekend.

We had a good day at the main office on Monday. Sister Lish and Sister Billingsley are such kind and faithful senior sister missionaries, we enjoy being with them on Mondays. Steven and I have been having trouble getting on the new church employment website but that was resolved for me on Monday and they continued to work on Steven's. We had our weekly staff meeting and discussed problems that we are having with computers, candidates, and etc. so our staff meeting went a bit long. It was a good meeting Alex and Steve (Center Manager) are helpful and knowledgeable.

Tuesday was our long day at the Bering Building. We had a nice couple come in to use the computers for job application and help with a resume. They are very nice and were at the center a few weeks ago. They stayed for a couple hours and then went to get something to eat and said "we will be right back". They said that the last time they were in and it was a month to get "right back". I think that he has a part time job and she must not be too anxious to find work yet. We are here to help and I pray that we do.

Wednesday was Veteran's Day. I am thankful that I live in America and grateful for those who are fighting and serving to keep our freedoms and keep us safe and helping others in far away places. We received an email from one of our candidates, unfortunately we had a misunderstanding. We had sent him a lead on a job a couple of weeks ago and said that we hoped it was something that would be of interest to him. He email back that it looked like a "perfect fit, thank you'. Well, unfortunately he thought that somehow we were going to submit his application but in reality we just send the job postings and the candidates have to apply themselves! So for the past couple of weeks he as been waiting to hear something back from us. We feel bad because it did look like a good job and he had all the qualifications. Steven spoke to him on the phone, I don't know if it is too late to apply now or not. The fridge needed to be cleaned at the church big time so I spent some time doing that in the morning - it looks much better.

We spent the day at the main center because we had training. Gustavo Estrada from SLC was here to spend the day to train and answer questions. It was a pretty quiet day. The new website will be good when it gets up and running - still a lot of questions and "bugs" to work out. It was a monthly ward and stake employment specialists meeting Thursday night, about 15 people attended. Everyone at the meeting registered on the new web site and began their profiles. This is going to be a long tedious process - trying to get all our candidates to do this. We went to dinner with Sister Billingsley and Sister Lish before the meeting. It was a place that "threw" warm rolls. A fellow just walked around and tossed you one if you wanted it, they were SO good. He also had chocolate chip muffins to toss too. Forget the meal - I loved the rolls!

Friday was a busy day. We had two men come for help and a lady wanting help over the phone all at one time! One man was a member and one was not. The member has been homeless in the past. He has been in trouble and is trying to get things back together. He seemed pretty good at the computer and got on sites to see if he could find work as a dish washer for now. He plans to come next week to the career workshop. The second fellow is Hispanic and has done carpentry work for over 20 years. He has a truck and tools so I hope he can find work quickly. His English was good. I asked him how he learned about LDS employment and he said that his wife's friend is a member and she told him to come see us. I told him we were glad to have him and he was very thankful for our help. He got on line and we found a couple of leads for him. He said that he will come to the workshop if he hasn't found a job. A lot of good kind people in the world and we were privileged today to meet two, just hope we can help them to help themselves.
Saturday was Happy Birthday to Steven! He is a year older and wiser. He got his haircut and helped with the apartment cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping, sounds like a fun birthday! We did celebrate in the early evening and went out for dinner. We have had a good day and wonderful week. It is great to be serving as missionaries together, we are so thankful for this blessing.
Love Mom & Dad

Sunday, November 8, 2009

13th Post Sunday Nov. 1 - Sat. Nov. 7, 2009

On Sunday we attended the Clear Lake 2nd Ward. Clear Lake is east and south of Houston on the road to Galveston and right next to the NASA space center. We met one of our candidates and had a good talk with her. She has a teaching degree and many talents so I am a bit surprised she is without work. A sister in the ward got our contact information and she email us job leads from a new motel opening up in the area. We emailed many of our candidates with that info. I hope they will follow up.

It seemed like a slow week as we had no one come to the centers on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. We spent our time sending job leads to candidates, making phone calls and reading. Not many responses back. We did hear from one candidate who does have a full time job now. That is aways great news.

Thursday at the Broadway building we had a sister in a wheel chair come into to see us. She did not speak very good English, but her soon to be husband, who is not a member, did speak a bit of English. We tried to call the Spanish speaking elders in our apartment complex but they did not pick up the phone. I thought of Sister Marlow, who with her husband, were the senior missionaries we replaced and she does speak Spanish. Well, we were able to figure out she needed a resume, but after Sister Marlow hung up we still could not get enough details to help this sister with her employment needs. We had a prayer in our hearts that somehow we would be able to help this good sister. Leona looked our the church door and saw a car pull up. It was the Spanish speaking elders who are assigned to the ward that meets in the Broadway building. Their arrival was an answer to prayer. They stayed with us and translated while we got the details to help the lady. Even though the computers would not hook up to the Internet again this week, we wrote a simple resume for her and made copies of many important papers she had with her. She is applying for a job at the Mexican Consulate here in Houston. She seemed so thankful and grateful for our help and the missionaries help. What a testimony of prayer and that Heavenly Father watches over ALL is children. This experience really made our week.

On Saturday morning we met the other senior missionaries at the Mission Office. We then all rode in the mission van to Huntsville. Huntsville is the home of Sam Houston, the "founder" of the republic of Texas, the prison museum, Sam Houston State University and many Sam Houston museums and home sites. Sam Houston was a real patriot and understood the real meaning of minimum government. Just outside of town next to the freeway is a 67 foot tall statue of Sam Houston - the largest of this kind in the world. I enjoyed the museums and learning more about Sam Houston. Lots of pecan trees so we even enjoyed picking up pecan nuts laying on the ground -good eating! The prison museum was interesting also. Made one feel glad not to be in prison. We had lunch at the LDS Institute of Religion. Elder and Sister Marlow are the new directors. They were here as employment missionaries, in fact they are the ones we replaced. We even saw a pomegranate tree (bush). It was a really fun day with the other missionaries.
Saturday evening we went to the Houston North Stake Conference. They are creating a new stake tomorrow and this is also the stake that Kent Chamberlin, Leona's cousin is in the Stake Presidency. Great Saturday evening conference session. Lots about following the Spirit.

A very wonderful day. What a blessing to be missionaries at this time. The weather has been mild with no humidity this week - dare we hope cool weather is here to stay??

We love you
Mom & Dad

Sunday, November 1, 2009

12th Post Sunday Oct 25 - Sat Oct 31, 2009

It has been another week of weather extremes. Hot, humid, wet and then a front moves in and the weather is really nice, just warm during the days and cool and no humidity in the evenings.

Last Sunday we drove west to the Sugar Land 1st Ward. It was their Primary Sacrament Meeting program. The kids really did well. They have a large primary and the kids liked to sing. They even had a couple of them who played the violin. Nice program. The Bishop gave me a few minutes before Priesthood to tell about our mission assignment, so that was nice to have folks know who we are and that they can get some help. The neighborhood around the church was really gearing up for Halloween.

Monday we were at the main employment office. We have our weekly staff meeting which normally takes the morning. I enjoy Mondays as it gives us a chance to see and talk with some of the other senior missionaries not only at the employment center but at the mission office, which is right next door.

Tuesday we had a couple come in to the Bering center that have been on the list for a couple of years. They are originally from east Africa, but have lived in the US for some time now. We have had a hard time getting in contact with them as they do not have email nor do they have a phone that always works and a car that apparently only works occasionally. Anyway they did make it to us. We sat them at the computer and got them signed up with an email account. Went online and found the nearest library to them and printed a map (so they would have access to a computer). Reviewed web sites that have job listings and helped him fill out and submit an online job application. It took awhile but they seem very thankful of the help. I just hope they will follow through. Later in the afternoon we had a fellow come in who is a lawyer. We reviewed his resume and career plan. I think he may be without work for awhile as his work experience is not real routine stuff. Hope we can help him find something.

Wednesday we only had one person come for the career workshop out of all those we had invited. We taught her the class, which was one of the most challenging for me thus far. This good sister is a nurse who's work experience does not include any job that lasted very long. She could be a poster child for ADD. Really had fun trying to keep on track.

On Thursday we had a young mother come into the Broadway building looking for work. She had just completed training as a medical receptionist and billing/coding. We really had a good visit with her. Her English was very good and her enthusiasm was great. She said things will work out for us, we are going to the temple tomorrow and we will pray.

It rained last night so the sidewalk out front was flooded this morning. Ankle deep water makes it a real challenge to get out of the apartment. Friday morning I had an appointment at MD Anderson with the dermatologist, as a followup to the stuff done in Delaware. He really checked me over good and decided to remove 4 more moles and will remove 4 more in 6 weeks and 4 more in another 6 weeks. I feel like I am being skinned a postage stamp size at a time! But I am grateful for the good care. The MD Anderson doctors reviewed the slides from the Delaware pathology and were of the opinion that what they call a melanoma in Delaware was not really a true melanoma, but what they in Delaware removed MD Anderson would have also removed. So good news sort of.

Saturday we drove to the Galleria not far from here. There are about 375 stores anchored by Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstroms, Macy's and two Westin hotels. The stores are in three levels with the center open from the bottom to the glass covered top floor. There is an ice skating rink in the bottom of the open area. The stores were having a special Halloween event. Some of the clerks were dress up and passing out candy to the kids who came dressed up trick or treating. It was fun to see the hoards of kids, some of which had bags of candy as big as they were. It was a real popular event. We only had a few kids come by our apartment for treats.

We are doing well. I am getting over a cold and seem to be getting better each day. Most days we wished we could do more for our candidates, but are very thankful to be called to do what we can at this time. What a blessing it is to serve. We are reading the Book of Mormon and how thankful we are for that wonderful treasure of truth. I have a testimony that it is true.
May the Lord bless you
Love Dad & Mom

Sunday, October 25, 2009

11th Post Sunday Oct.18 - Sat. Oct. 24, 2009

This past week we have enjoyed rather warm weather and cool weather and I prefer the cool by far! A couple of mornings when the weather feels really good to us, we have to smile at the people we pass by on our way to work. They are bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves and knitted hats. I guess they are truly used to the heat (don't understand how that could ever happen) and they are really cold!
We have had a good week and a busy one. We are in the fourth month of our mission already, the weeks are passing by quickly. It was transfers this past week and we are so thankful that our mission president left us together again!

Last Sunday we visited a small branch - Sunny Side Branch. It brought back memories of our days in Anacortes. They meet in a house that has been converted into a church and it is also where institute is taught. A very diverse group of people, Hispanics, Blacks, our kind, old and young. There were four or five young families that are really helping to carry this branch. The husbands are either in school or doing an internship at the medical center. They are a blessing to the branch. It was a nice meeting and the talks were good. I was able to meet one of our candidates that I have talked to on the phone several times. She is an interesting sister. Steven & I went for a walk in the late afternoon - one block the homes are very modest and the next block they are very spacious.

Monday we were at the employment center, it is nice to spend the day working there with the other senior missionaries at the center and the mission office. We started training for the new church employment website. There are a few "bugs" that need to be worked out and change is always hard so one of the managers was having a hard time. When it gets up and running it will be a great asset for the members

Tuesday is our late night at work so getting home at about 9:30 pm makes it a long day for us old people. They have been refinishing the cultural hall floor at the church so there was a very strong smell, at times I thought that I was for sure going to get a headache but we made it. A couple came in for help with a resume and to use the computer. They were there for about three hours it was nice to visit with them, she is a member but he is not. I guess their computer at home isn't the best so they appreciated using ours. It is Michael's birthday today! It sure doesn't seem that he is as old as he is, the years have passed by so quickly. I remember very well that Sunday he was born. We were excited to have a baby boy. After he was born the nurse said, "now you have a girl and a boy - you can quit". I am glad we didn't and that the Lord blessed us with three more! I am thankful for our children and for their spouses and families, they truly are our greatest treasure.

On Wednesday we sent many, many emails trying to get information from our candidates and inviting them to the CWS (career workshop). We did receive positive response from three and hopefully there will be more later.

We had a lot of rain through the night and early morning. Elder Walker is getting a cold so wasn't feeling up to exercise this morning and Sister Walker celebrated! (The no exercise part) Because it was raining so hard we didn't leave the apartment until after 8am, hoping that it would slow down a bit. We were quite a sight, even the Hispanic lady upstairs was smiling at us. We walked to the car barefoot, the water in front of the apt. was up to our ankles. I held my dress up and Steven rolled up his pant legs and of course our arms were loaded with bags (computer, etc). It would of been a good picture. We get this water problem in front of the apt. every time it rains hard for long periods. Thank goodness by the time we returned in the evening the sidewalk was dry. Today we received a couple of emails from candidates that had never responded to our emails before. They thanked us for the job leads and said they were still looking for work. It is nice when we hear back so we know that they are getting our emails and what help they need. Today we received fun notes from a family in Delaware. One of the notes made us smile, it said "My dad is making me write this letter". Family Home Evening lessons and "activities" are great!

Friday was pretty quiet at work. We kept busy on the computer and phone. Two of our candidates are now employed so that makes it a great day for us too! Elder Walker is still dragging a bit but his cold hasn't gotten as bad as they usually get so he has been blessed.

Saturday is our p-day so that means - cleaning, shopping, shining our shoes and get the work done day. The apartment complex had a Halloween party in the evening so we went for a bit so we could see the kids in costume. It was fun to sit back and watch them run around and adults try to get them in one line to judge the costumes!! The adults were more fun to watch than the kids.
We have had a good week, so thankful for this blessing of being missionaries, for our great kids and all the many good things they are doing and the great people that they are. Our grandchildren are wonderful even better than their parents. Life is good.
Love, Mom & Dad

Saturday, October 17, 2009

10 Post Sunday Oct11 - Sat. Oct 17,2009

We drove west to the Katy 2 ward on Sunday. It is about 40 minutes away. We talked with the bishop about some of our candidates from his ward, but was only able to talk with one of them. It is nice to visit a different ward each Sunday but we miss getting to know ward members better. The weather was nice today.

Monday is our day at the main employment office. It is always good to be with the other senior missionaries, not only at the mission office, but also the two senior sisters at our employment center. Traffic was bad this evening so we were late getting home. It rained hard today and the sidewalk out in front of our apartment had about 2 or 3 inches of water on it when we got home (it sits in a low spot).

Tuesday and Wednesday were sorta slow days for us. We did not have anyone come in to the Bering center. We made phone calls, and sent emails to our candidates to encourage them and in some cases provide job leads for them to follow up on. Not many get back with us on their status.

Thursday we had a young man (37 or 38) come into the center looking for help with his employment search. He just got out of the Army after 9 or so years. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is married with a small daughter. We had a good visit and I believe he will attend our next Career Workshop which I know will help him. He was a medic so I am sure he will be able to find something. I pray we can help him.

Friday we were back at the Bering building. Three of our candidates had found jobs so that was great news for them and for us. It is uplifting for us to know of their success. They are so excited when they tell us they have a job! We had a sister come in this afternoon who wants to work overseas as a nurse. To say it was a challenge to keep her on subject would be an under statement. She is in her 50's and could be a poster child for ADD. Anyway if she will attend the Career Workshop I am sure it will help her. This was a great Friday no BCG treatment.

Today, Saturday after we cleaned up the apartment and did the laundry we decided to go for a ride as the weather was so nice, high 60's with very little humidity. We drove down to Kemah. It is a very small town south of Houston on the way to Galveston. There is a small boardwalk with lots of restaurants, shops and some carnival type rides, including a roller coaster. Landry's Restaurants owns the Boardwalk and all the many restaurants on it. We just walked around and enjoyed the sights. There were a couple of wedding parties walking around getting pictures taken. They were all deck out in their very brightest of wedding clothes. I guess Kemah is the place for wedding pictures?? On the way home I had to pull of the freeway to check out these two large heavy lift cranes I see on our way to the Broadway Center every week. Note the size of the lifting block compared to the "conex" box next to it! It was interesting for me anyway and I am sure Leona really enjoyed it (about like me in the Kemah Christmas shop!). We had a fun day!

We enjoy serving together and doing what we can to help folks. The Lord continues to bless us with good health and energy to do the work.
Thanks for your love and prayers

Love, Mom & Dad (Leona and Steven)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

9th Post Sunday, Oct 4 - Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009

Another week gone by already and all is well in Houston. We thoroughly enjoyed conference last weekend. We watched it on our computer at the apartment both Saturday and Sunday. I am very grateful for modern technology that allowed me to dress "casual" and be at home to see conference. So many words of counsel and powerful testimonies shared. I especially was touched by Elder Holland's testimony on the Book of Mormon. I look forward to reading the talks in the Ensign next month. Sunday evening we went to Elder and Sister Greenwood's apt. for peach cobbler and ice cream and a nice visit. Sunday was also a special day for our beautiful Granddaughter, Jenette Pratt. It was her eighth birthday and she was baptized between sessions of conference. Christine and Derek and their family were able to be there and participate in that special day and we are thankful for that.

Monday, the traffic was bad going to the employment center and it took us about one hour to get there. We enjoy being able to be around the other senior missionaries on Monday. We went to lunch with Elder and Sister Dorius. They are proselyting missionaries and are also over the missionary apartments. We were in Saudi Arabia at the same time but we did not meet them while they were there. Anyway, they knew of this Middle Eastern shop and we had chicken that were very tasty and a nice visit with the Dorius'.

Tuesday, we were up at 4:45 to exercise and to a doctor appointment at 7am! Elder Walker keeps me on the move and a TIGHT SCHEDULE! Dr. Poliack will be our family doctor while we are in Houston. He was very nice and it was a beautiful office. We were impressed by nurses, receptionists and labs. We had blood work, chest xrays, ekg's, three immunizations, EAR WASHES, and we didn't have to wait more than a minute for any of the above! It was quite impressive. I hope that we are not doubly impressed by a bill also! Since Tuesday is our late day it worked well for the doctor appointments that we had. At the Bering building (employment center) we met very nice representatives from BYU, BYUI, and LDS Business College. They came on Tuesday late afternoon to set up for a fireside at 7pm for youth and parents. There were over 700 people that came, the place was packed. The fellow from BYU is not married so I wrote Aimee Vincent's name and phone and email on a card for him! The sister from BYUI visited with us for awhile. She has been working there for about 16 years and lives in St Anthony. She came back to visit after they had set up and brought us BYUI gifts - fleese blanket and small flashlight. She said that she would take a letter back to David and Raquel so we quickly wrote a note and gave her a hug to give to them when she returned on Friday.
After the fireside we met President Perez, Stake President of the Houston Texas West Stake (Spanish). He told of us of his concern for those who are here without proper documentation and their employment needs and welfare. It is sad. He said that a young man in the stake, who is now a missionary did not have the experience of the MTC because he is without proper documentation and does not have a drivers license so can not get on an airplane. He came with his parents when he was about seven years old. His dad was sick so they came on humanitarian papers for medical help. Well, his dad died and he and his mother just stayed. I don't know where he is serving his mission, I assume it is close by and his mission president is giving his MTC training. I am sorry too that he was not able to have the MTC experience. My heart aches for those who do not have proper papers and employment that they need so badly. I pray for them and the many others who have so many needs. We are truly blessed. I am grateful for this mission experience and the fine companion that I have, how I love him.

Wednesday was just a normal day at the Bering building. Read a lot on BJM (between job ministries) and about job leads. It is hard to try to match them with our candidates because we don't know exactly what they are looking for or qualified to do but we keep trying. We did discover that one of our candidates has found work and another is in school full time now so that is good news and of course we celebrate with them. On our way home from work we received a call from Michael telling us that Niki's mother was very ill and had been taken to the hospital. He called back later telling us that she had died. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and Niki's father and siblings.

On Thursday we were thankful to arrive at the Broadway building and find the phones and Internet working! The room was still filled with boxes needing to be taken to the Bishop's storehouse though. A couple came in for help on starting their own business. She had made a small table centerpiece to show us. She had done a nice job and we referred her to Steve Stotts, who teaches that class. On the second Thursday night of each month we have to return to the center for a ward and stake employment specialists meeting. Elder Walker had to teach one of the classes again and he did a great job. It was a full day and a late night.

Friday was Elder Walker's last BCG treatment for another six months. He felt pretty lousy for the rest of the day. He was running a fever in the evening. Kept saying it was cold and we needed more BLANKETS - I knew he was sick! BLANKETS, we did not need! Instead I gave him Aleve.

Saturday, Steven felt a lot better. We did some laundry and then at 11:30 we went to the Clayton Library. This is where Elder and Sister Greenwood work, cleaning very old books and records and scanning them and sending them to SLC and from there they go on line. This is a great tool for family history research. There were other senior missionaries there from the Houston South Mission we had lunch together and had a tour of the process. It was a fun day and we met more missionaries.

We are enjoying our mission and just being here together. We take turns being senior companion - I am very good at letting Elder Walker know when it is his turn. We have had a great week!
Love, Mom & Dad

Sunday, October 4, 2009

8th Post (Sunday Sept 27 - Sat.Oct 3, 2009)

It seems the weeks do go by fast. We are blest to be serving at this time and place. We attended church with Christine and her family today. It was fast day as next Sunday is General Conference. Lots of faithful testimonies spoken today, it is always an uplifting thing to hear others express their faith and testimony. We came home and had lunch. It was funny to listen to the kids as they asked their mother if this was dinner or lunch and would they have something to eat before they went to bed. We got to visit with Jessica and her family on the "computer camera". That is always fun. Carson and Ronin really had a fun time "talking" to each other.

Monday morning we were at the Hafer Road employment office as usual. The kids came to say goodby. We introduced them to the employment staff and took them over to the bishop's storehouse and the peanut factory. Randy the manager took them on a tour and even gave them a couple of bottles of peanut butter. After work today we drove up to the Woodlands and had dinner with Kent & Diane Chamberlain, Leona's cousin. We had a really nice meal and a great visit with them. It was fun to catch up on them and their family.

Tuesday is our late day at the Bering building. Leona had scheduled a hair cut in town so I drove her to the appointment. The traffic was not bad at all and the shop is only about 4 miles away. I know she was nervous about a new person cutting her hair, but it really does look good. The Bering building was busy today. Steve, our employment manager, taught a Self-Employment workshop today, and Alex, the assistant manager, was also with us for part of the day. So it was not as quiet as normal, which is a good thing. We did contact many of our candidates today and two of them had found work, so that was exciting for us and for them.

We had one person show up to our workshop today, Wednesday. Actually there were two, a man and his wife, but his wife completed the workshop last week. He was a bit hesitant to participate, but as the morning went on he got into the class routine more, and seemed to appreciate the information he received. I have really come to appreciate this great employment program of the Lord. The information is so helpful and if practiced so very powerful in helping people in their job search.
Thursday we were at the Broadway building, but the Internet was not working so we were not able to send any job leads or email our candidates. We did make some phone calls however. A couple came into the center today wanting some help on the wife's resume. It was fun to work with them and even though she had been a stay at home mom most of her married life she did have some work experience and the beginnings of a resume that we could work with. I really believe she was thankful for the help and suggestions. It is interesting that this was the same engineer that gave me such a hard time on the phone a few weeks ago and here he is bringing his wife in to see us for help. He was a much different person today. It is always humbling to see how members act in faith. We had a person walk to the center, in the rain, to see if we could help him.
We drove up to the temple to do a session after we closed the center today. We missed the 6pm session so we did some sealings while we waited for the 7pm session. What great blessings are ours when we are sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. It was wonderful to be reminded of those blessing.

Friday and the day for my second BCG treatment at MD Anderson. It went well - thank goodness for good medical facilities.

We really enjoyed watching both sessions of General Conference today, Saturday. We are able to see conference on the computer. The picture is very clear - thank goodness for all the modern conveniences. We enjoyed the talks and messages that are so helpful in our lives. I called Elder Greenwood and he rode over to the priesthood session this evening with me. The Herman Park ward building was packed with priesthood holders this evening. When we sang the intermediate hymn I thought they would raise the roof. A really great spirit at that meeting.

We are so thankful to be missionaries and to be able to serve at this time. We enjoy so many blessings from our Father in heaven, we cannot number them. We are grateful for all our friends and family for their love and support.

Love Mom & Dad (Steve & Leona)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

7th Post

Another busy week - they do go by fast for us. On Monday we were able to attend our first zone conference. It was held at the chapel next to the bishops storehouse and employment center. Elder Johnson, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, and his wife were visiting the mission so we were able to be there and hear them speak. Before the meeting started President Hansen, our mission president, said that Elder Johnson wanted to shake everyone's hand and he wanted to know our name and where we were from and how long we had been on our mission. So row by row the missionaries stood and met Elder Johnson, that was a great experience. The meeting was wonderful. President and Sister Hansen spoke; Sister Hansen talked about the emblems we want on our soul (faith, obedience, hard work, etc.) President Hansen gave instructions to the missionaries on needing to focus all we do on the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Sister Johnson told a bit about Elder Johnson; how he is totally obedient. She told of the blessings that we will receive by being obedient. Elder Johnson told us to lead by example, make sure investigators understand the lessons before moving to the next. Don't get caught up in the number of lessons taught. One of the Elders asked "How do we know that it is the Spirit prompting us and not just our own thoughts?" Elder Johnson answered "If we are obedient and doing everything we can to do good - our thoughts will be guided by the Spirit; so it is the same and don't worry."

After zone conference all the senior missionaries went to the mission president's home for dinner with Elder and Sister Johnson. There were 21 there (total). The mission home is beautiful. We were each assigned something to bring and dinner was lovely. What a great day!

Tuesday is our late day at the Bering Building, we don't arrive home until about 9:30 pm so it is a long day for us old missionaries. We stay busy on the computer and contacting our candidates. We think about them a lot, especially those who have no papers, car, phone, or computer. If we have a job lead how will we contact them - sometime all we can do is pray.

We just had one come to the career workshop on Wednesday, we were expecting four. The sister who came was very kind and appreciated the help and will be back on Friday to finish up; hopefully her husband will be able to come with her. Christine called this afternoon and said that they were coming for the weekend!! We are excited to see them and I am already dreading having to say goodbye!

When we got to work on Thursday the phones and computer were not working so by the time things were up and running it was early afternoon. We had three people come to the Broadway center today and they were all non members. The missionaries were teaching two of them, they didn't speak much English but understood it pretty good. One was from Cuba and had been a merchant marine for 28 years the other one was a trucker. The third visitor came with his brother-in-law (who is a member) that we met at church last Sunday. I wish we had lots of jobs we could give them, we will do our best to help.

Christine and Derek called when they got to their hotel and we drove up to see them and give the kids a hug. They were excited to see us and we were more excited to see them. The kids were bouncing on the beds and busy checking things out. Of course they wanted to go swimming as soon as they saw the pool, but Christine told them "tomorrow".

On Friday morning Elder Walker had his first of three BCG treatments. He got along a lot better than he did in Delaware. It was less painful and not near the blood or blood clots. It was a female doctor who did the procedure this time and I told him that was probably why because women are just more gentle and do things RIGHT! He took it pretty easy for the rest of the day, by nighttime he was not feeling real good but not near as bad as he did after his treatments in Delaware. Another tender mercy from our Father in Heaven.

Derek brought Carson to our apartment to take a nap Friday afternoon. They had been at the children's museum for the morning. He took a good nap and Christine and Derek took the rest of the kids and went swimming at the hotel. Afterwards, they all came and had dinner with us, it was sure fun to have them here.

Saturday was a fun day with the Vances. We went to NASA and the Johnson Space Center. It was very interesting, but some of it was "boring" for the small kids. Steven and I will return and check it out closer. We tried to eat our lunch outdoors on the picnic tables but the mosquitoes were eating us faster than we could eat our lunch, so we ended up in the car instead! After NASA we drove to Galveston and put our hands and feet in the water. The kids were very disappointed that they couldn't go swimming, but we were not prepared. We had dinner at the Cracker Barrel and all returned home tired but happy.

We are thankful that Heavenly Father planned for us to be part of a loving family and we are so grateful for ours!

Love Mom & Dad

Saturday, September 19, 2009

6th Post

What a wonderful Saturday morning we have had (Sept. 19, 2009). We were invited to a missionary meeting with President Claudio Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy, at the Bering building. He talked about the conversion story of his parents family and himself. He explained about the quorums of the seventy and their authority, also the mission presidents and the missionaries. It was a really a spiritual experience for us. All three of the Houston mission presidents and their wives were there and a great congregation of missionaries. So thankful for our experience to be missionaries at this time.

Last Sunday we attended the Alief Ward which is about 15 or 20 miles southwest of us. We were able to spend a few minutes with the Bishop and also the ward employment specialist reviewing the candidates we have on our list. It is really important that the quorums and the relief society are doing their part to help the unemployed. Later in the evening we took some peanuts to the other missionary couple in our apartment complex, the Greenwoods and visited with them. They are on a family history mission and work in the Clayton Library down town. Elders Blair, Chacon, and Pehrson came by to pick up their pants that Leona has been altering for them and to pick up some peanuts. We got a box of peanuts from the peanut butter factory a while back - more than we will ever eat. They are really good. I think of Jerold every time I eat them or the peanut butter cookies or peanut butter brownies that we get on Mondays at the mission office.

Monday we were at the Employment Office at Hafer Road so we were able to go to lunch with the Mission Office couples. It was fun to visit with them - such good people. One couple lived in Damman, Saudi Arabia for a year while we were there, but did not recognize them.

Tuesday we were back at the Bering building. One young man came in who was an experienced auto mechanic and electrician. His English was very good, but his computer skills were a bit lacking. We sat at the computer with him and helped him find a couple of job leads. The very first one he called was for an auto mechanic and they wanted him to come the very next day to talk with them about their job opening. That was exciting. I have also been contacting some of the people who I used to work with at Shell just to network and see what engineering jobs might be out there for some of our engineering candidates.

Wednesday and Thursday we made contact either via email or phone calls with some of our candidates to check on the current job status. Some are making better progress than others - just depends on how much work they are willing to put into their job search. We had another lawyer contact us, he had lost his job in San Antonio and moved to Houston hoping to find work. Our other lawyer did get a job within a few weeks so I hope this fellow does the same.
Yesterday, Friday, we spent almost the whole day at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Institute. MD Anderson is one of the world's leading research, teaching, and treatment facilities. The whole medical complex is huge. It is like a small city, many multi story buildings all clustered together. The nurses and doctors that I met were quite impressive. The first doctor that visited with me (after a long wait) told me "after reviewing your records and talking with my colleagues, you do not really want to see me". He deals with those who have had or need to have major bladder surgery. So he referred me to a Urologist. The Urologist that will be handling my treatment while we are in Houston is the Deputy Chairman and Professor in the Dept of Urology. As the nurse was explaining who he was, etc I pictured in my mind the typical college professor - the nerd. Well sure enough the doctor had the slicked back hair parted in the middle, bow tie (yes that is right), and the "look over the top" glasses. I just about laughed, but he was very good, very informative and they really do try to tailor each treatment regimen to the patient. Anyway, I had another cystoscopy, boy are they fun. The equipment they have must be top of the line. I was able to see a small monitor next to the table I was on and the doctors (2 of them) were looking at the big screen behind me and of course "driving" the "TV camera" all over the place. Most of the time it was not to bad but the "going and coming" felt like the TV camera you see on the nightly news! The one doctor said she could not even see where the tumor had been removed and they both commented on how good my bladder looked. In as much as I have now only seen the inside of one bladder, I thought it looked very good also. I am scheduled for the next series of BCG treatments starting next Friday and continuing for three weeks - oh what joy - I can hardly wait - but as the medical team all remind me it sure beats the alternatives. So brothers make sure you get your yearly lab work done and prostate checked. I will go in the last of the month to have another dermatology check. The MD Anderson folks told me that my melanoma was not really melanoma but was "mela" something or other, and that I should continue to be checked, and that all my siblings and children should be on the look for possible issues themselves - very much a heredity thing. So get checked!

The weather seems to be a bit less humid and the temps are in the high 80's so it does feel a bit better.
We love our mission experience and are really blessed to be able to serve. Thanks for your love and support.

Love Elder and Sister Walker (Mom & Dad)

PS I thought this school sign was kind of neat "Holy Ghost School" first line "Welcome back God".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

5th Post

It is Sunday morning, September 13th, all is well in Houston. We have had a full and good week. We are thankful to be able to serve and for the people we meet.

Last Sunday evening we received a phone call from Mike Nelson who was in Houston. He and his oldest son, Michael, came for the BYU football game that was held in Dallas. They were staying with another son Matthew and family for the weekend so we drove up to see them. It was fun to visit and to see Michael and Matthew again; they are now grown men with families of their own. Veloy was not able to come because her mother now lives with them and she needed to stay home to care for her. The Nelson's are good friends that we knew and loved in Saudi Arabia. Mike is still working at BYU and loving it.

Monday was Labor Day so the centers were closed and we had the day off. It is so hot outside that we didn't want to go site seeing hopefully cooler weather will come some day so we can, or I should say want to be outdoors. We did go to Hobby Lobby and got supplies to make red and green flags for our workshops this week. Elder Walker cut the flannel and I did the sewing. We made 12 sets of flags. We are very optimistic that some weeks we will have lots to our workshop. Our first workshops were held on Wednesday and Friday. We invited several of the candidates over the past couple of weeks to attend. Three men came on Wednesday but one of those could not return on Friday. Steven did the teaching and lead the discussions, it went well and those who attended appreciated the information and asked many questions. They felt that the mock interviews that were videoed and played back were very helpful. We pray that they will obtain work soon. The Career Workshop is a very good program. The information is so good and if followed the job search is usually cut in half. It is interesting as we talk with people about their job search that some do not put much effort in the search at all and others are doing so much but sometimes it is not very productive effort. That is why the Career Workshop is so powerful, it identifies what efforts are the most productive.

Derek and Christine have had a busy week and it will continue to be busy and exciting for them for the next few months. Derek has new employment at Davis Hospital in Layton, Utah. Last weekend they were in Seattle, WA for the marriage of Derek's youngest sister (Debbie watched their children) and this weekend they are in Utah looking for a home (Jessica is in Parson, Kansas tending children). Thank goodness Heavenly Father planned for us to be part of a family. We are grateful for ours and the perfect children and grandchildren they are, how we love them!

I finished altering five pair of slacks yesterday for three elders that live in the apartment complex. We are thoroughly enjoying our time with the young missionaries who live near us. They are enthused and excited about their missions and life. They told us that we were like another set of grandparents to them. I quickly informed them that we could be their parents but we were definitely not old enough to be their grandparents! I guess we could but we are not going to admit it!

On Thursday we had a meeting at the Employment Center so we closed at the Broadway Building early. This meeting is for all Ward and Stake Employment Specialists. We went to eat with Alex and the Sister Missionaries before the meeting so that was fun to spend some time with them. Steven had to do part of the training and did a great job.

How I love my companion, he is very patient and always tells me "thank you for all your help" or "I am so thankful you are my companion".

We are doing great and have been truly blessed. We are so thankful for this opportunity to serve.
We love you and pray for you

Love, Mom and Dad (Leona & Steven)