Sunday, August 30, 2009

It is Sunday evening and all is well in Houston. We have had a wonderful week and thankful for the blessing of serving a full time mission together.

Last Sunday we visited the Rosenberg Ward, located in Richmond, Texas. While entering files into the computer we found a name of a sister who was a member of that ward so while we were there we had the chance to meet her and talk about her employment situation. She is still looking for work, a bit discouraged and depressed. I pray for all who are struggling and looking for jobs. While we were there I met a lady who was from Honeyville, Utah and she knows
Dave and Lois Cottle; in fact Dave was her bishop when he served as bishop. Small world!

I made cookies Sunday evening and two of the young Elders that live close by came to get some. What wonderful missionaries. They told us about a family they are teaching, the husband can not be baptized until he is divorced in Guatamala, so that he and his current wife can be legally married. (I think that David found this type of situation to be a real problem in Brazil on his mission.) Because it is impossible to obtain a divorce without being there in Guatamala and it is extremely expensive, they didn't see how they were ever going to be able to be baptized . Anyway, the missionaries had met with the stake presidency and others to discuss missionary efforts in the stake and when they told of this family's situation, a member of the stake presidency said that he had a brother who was a lawyer and living in the very city where this divorce needed to be taken care of. He said that he would contact his brother so this problem could be taken care of. The family is thrilled to think that in time they will be baptized and can go to the temple. The Lord is in charge and can put things into place when the time is right- nothing is impossible. It was a real testimony building experience; I am so thankful the Elders shared it with us. The missionaries were so excited and walking a "few inches" of the floor.

Work at the employment centers went well this week. On Mondays we are at the main center and I enjoy being able to see the other senior missionaries. It is P-day for the young elders and sisters so they come and use the computers to do their emails so it is fun to see and visit with them. (l to r Elder & Sister Walker, Alex LaMar, Steve Stotts, Sister Billingsley, Sister Lish).

On Tuesday we do not go to the Bering center (see photo on left) until noon and then we stay until 9pm. It is a long day but plenty to do to stay busy and time goes by very quickly. It is the Houston 1st ward (Spanish) night for mutual. They get there between 6:30 - 7pm and the place is "rockin". We left about 9:15 and the parking lot was full. I do not know what time their mutual ends. They have a fun time together!

On Wednesday I finished entering all the candidates names and information on the spreadsheet. It has been quite a project, hopefully it will help us better serve them.

On Thursday we had the Haywards for dinner. Their mission service ends tomorrow and they will leave to return home to Colorado. We haven't been able to get to know them too well but they are great people and have been very diligent in a project at the library putting records on line so that people can use these records for family history research.

Friday after work we were invited to Elder and Sister Childs home with the other senior missionaries who serve in the employment center and the mission office. It was a fun evening to visit and get to know everyone. This is the Childs' third mission - Africa, Jamaca and Houston. What great people.

Yesterday was our p-day so laundry and cleaning and shopping kept us busy. We have four Elders coming over for Sunday dinner so we picked up a few extra things for dinner. Steven got his first "Texas" hair cut and my what a handsome missionary! For fun we visited a "container store". It was a huge place with nothing but different kinds and sizes of containers. We didn't purchase anything but it was a fun place to just look around.

We are thankful for our call to serve and to be in the full time service of the Lord. We have truly been blessed to be able to serve.

Love Mom (Sister Walker)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2nd post

It has only taken me about 45 minutes to start this note for the week. My skills at blogging are not well honed at this point - maybe after 23 months (ya think!).
We invited the missionaries (threesome, and Elder and Sister Greenwood) that live here in our apartment complex over for ice cream last Sunday. It was nice to visit with them. The young elders seem like really good missionaries, I hope they invite me to go with them some evening.
On Sunday we attended the Mission Bend Ward in Sugarland. We have been asked to attend a different ward in our area each week so folks can get to know us and to promote use of the employment centers. It seems there are a fair number of members who are currently unemployed but not many have a pressing immediate need for help. Maybe as a church we are better prepared to care for ourselves for the short term. Anyway we did talk to some about their employment concerns. It seems each ward has its own little quirks. In this ward at least a 1/3 of the brethren had beards, some with real Santa-type whiskers! On our way back home we drove out past the Shell Westhollow Technology Center. That is where I use to go on my business trips to Houston 3 or so times a year for several years.

On Mondays we are up at the Hafer Road employment office. We have staff meetings and some training from the center manager, Steve Stotts and the assistant manager, Alex LaMar. The Mission Office is right next door so it is nice to see some of the other senior couples in our mission (the senior couples in our apt. complex are in the Houston South Mission). Monday evening we invited the other senior couple in our apt. complex, the Haywards, over for ice cream and a visit. They go home (Colorado) in a couple weeks. They are very nice folks, just real quite. They have a married son and two single daughters who live in this area so they visit with family often on the week ends.

We are at the Bering building (church house on Bering Drive) on Tuesdays. Our office is in a large clerks office. They have an old computer, printer, files, & etc for us. It is actually a nice set up. We have keys to the whole building, so we have access to rooms for teaching, interviewing and what ever we need. Brother Alex LaMar is with us all week for more training and to help us get situated in our new surroundings. We worked on the old files and started to get things organized so we can find stuff.

Back to the Bering building on Wednesday. More training on the audio/visual aids part of our Career Work Shop responsibilities. A non-member woman came into the center for help today. She spoke pretty good English - thanks goodness Alex was with us. He was born in Columbia, but has lived in the USA for most of his life. Anyway he is so good at helping folks see how they can help themselves, including speaking English even though it is hard for the candidates at times. The woman seemed so thankful for the suggestions and information and help Alex provided.
We went to the Broadway building (church house on Broadway) 0n Thursday. It is about 15 miles southeast of our apartmen and is the oldest LDS church building in Houston. It is also the stake center for one of the Spanish Stakes. The building is well maintained. Our office (stake clerks office) is smaller but we have all the facilities we need. Alex has been in stake leadership positions over the many years he has lived in Houston, so he knows lots of people and history of the growth of the church in this area. He has many interesting stories to tell. All the buildings have tile floors in the kitchen, hallways, and multipurpose room areas. Much better for food clean up (Leona tells me) and all the buildings we have been in so far have multiple rest room facilities, like 3 or 4 different ones. For those who know about the Newark building (stake center) there is only ONE rest room facility (one men's and one women's). Also the parking lots at all these building are huge. When I told Alex about our Newark building he said it was because the Stake President did not "demand" the additional facilities. Well I know for sure there were many requests, but no action from the building department except no.

Friday we were back to the Bering building. We worked on files and made some contacts with some of our newest candidates (phone calls and emails). Right now we look for appropriate jobs on various websites and then contact the candidates to see how they are doing and what progress they have made. Then we suggest where they might look for a job that may be a fit for them. It is a bit of a slow process, but we are getting our files and spreadsheets organized so we are better at what we are doing. After we left the office we drove up to the temple. It is about 25 miles north of the Bering building and the Bering building is about 3.5 miles north of our apt. The temple is small, but beautiful. They run sessions every hour and there were about 16 on our session. The temple is in a very nice area. In fact the main road just to the north of the temple property is lined with homes that are larger than the temple, some much, much larger - unbelievable. We could hear thunder during the session and the lights flickered a couple of times but did not go off. The storm was going basically south so on the way home it was in front of us. I have never seen lightning like we saw. The lightning would go horizontally across the sky, it was really spectacular. We got home without any incident and never did have to drive in the rain, which is a good thing especially on the very busy freeway's here.
It remains very warm, in the 90's and very humid 90% most all day. But we are thankful to be able to serve and pray we will do what is expected of us at all times.
Love, Dad (Elder Walker)

Brayden Walker - Mike & Niki's latest addition - born 8/12/09

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1st Post

P-day again, and all is well in Texas. We had a good week at the employment center. We received training all week, went through the employment work shop again. It is a very good program and will give skills that will help anyone obtain a job or a better job quicker; I suggest that everyone should take it. They even have a work shop for those who are self employed or are thinking about starting their business. They video taped us doing a pretend job interview. Man, I was so excited to do that I could hardly contain myself. We had to write a "power" statement about one of our "skills" so that is what I used when he asked me what I had to offer to his company. After I met the "boss" he asked me what position I was applying for and I said "The cook". Then I proceeded to tell him about my organizational skills and how I could purchase and prepare food for 160 people for five days; the meals were "delicious", served on time and under budget $800. When I finished he said "you're hired!" Here I come McDonalds!
We met Elder Chapman this week. He is the son of Gary and Becky Chapman that we knew in Saudi Arabia. He is serving a church service mission at the Bishop's storehouse. He was only a few months old when we left Saudi. Christine took violin lessons from Sister Chapman. They had a little going away party for him and another Elder that was finishing their missions at the storehouse. Elder Chapman had brought some candy to share that his mother had made. It tasted like a butterfinger bar but only better, he also shared the recipe and it had Georgia McCurry's name on it so it was like a little "Saudi reunion" for me.

We were so excited to hear from Michael on Wednesday. So thankful that everything went well and Niki and Braydon (not sure of the spelling) are home. Another new grandson, we are truely blessed. Thank you Michael and Niki, he is beautiful/handsome.

We attended the Memorial Park ward last Sunday. It was a very diverse ward - older people and quite a few young marrieds, many are here for school or interships. In their program, on one side of the page, they had very small pictures of the ward leaders. I thought that was a good idea, you could recognize the auxillary presidents and ward mission leader, etc.

On Monday at the center, Steve Stotts (He is the employment manager) had us all weigh in! I believe that is to motivate us to take better care of ourselves. Every Monday that is what he does; he uses some wii computer program so it is up on a big screen. It also has you balance on one foot for 30 seconds and gives your BMI. It was alot of FUN, can't wait for Monday to get here again!

Also on Monday Brother LaMar (assistant employment specialist) helped us move a small dresser and two chairs from a missionary apartment that they are closing. I think that we are pretty much set up now with furniture. We just need a bed for the other bedroom.

On Monday we began our running again. We get up at 5:15am and run until about 6am. It is sure hot even early in the morning.

Tuesday we had to stay at the apt. to wait for Comcast to hook up the internet for us. Of course he didn't show up in the time frame promised and we had to call. We now have the service but comcast had problems and will have to return in a couple of weeks to fix the connections. We did some reading and wrote some letters.

What a night we had on Wednesday night! Our neighbors, who we didn't even know were there because it was so quiet, came home and had a party! We could "feel" the walls of our bedroom and livingroom vibrate with the beat of the drums! This went on until about 4am; we tried to call the after hours apt security but no one answered. We talked to the apt. office on Thursday morning and things have been good since. Living in an apartment complex is a new experience for us - very interesting!

On Thursday I got ear plugs! We had a extra long day on Thursday because there was a meeting for ward and stake employment people. Steven had to teach a class to the newly called people and Bro LaMar taught a class (at the same time) to those who had been before. They have these meetings once a month at the employment center. Steven did a good job, it was like he had been doing it forever.

On Friday I checked alot of what are called CAP papers to see that they were entered in the computer correctly. More training and getting familiar with computer things. Next Tuesday we will be begin at the Berring Building but Brother LaMar will be with us to help. Alot to learn - hopefully we will know what we are doing soon so that we can be of help to someone.

Before we returned to the apt last night we stopped at a mattress store and bought a queen size one for our other bedroom. The mission gave us permission because they didn't have one for us. It was delivered this morning so now we are ready for any party; whichever of our neighbor has it we will just move to the other bedroom!

Yes Debbie, shopping for teenagers can be "fun"! I finally learned, as I am sure you have, that you might as well let them pick it out because if you do they for sure will not wear it! I remember when I was a teenager going shopping with my cousins. My dad dropped us off some place in south SLC with our berry picking money and we had a great time. You'll have to try that.

Sorry about Christopher's math class program. I don't understand what age has to do with getting college credit. If someone can understand and do well why hold him back or not give him credit because of his age. Good luck. Big seminary class, too bad all the students aren't at the same high school. Way to go Jessica! Grandma could never play volleyball so I am glad you are! Wish we could see Debbie and Truman playing softball, keep your head away from the bat DEBBIE! Thankful that your business is doing so well and that you are very busy.

We love everyone and so thankful for each of you. Take care of each other. Be kind and loving to your spouses. Plan and prepare to serve a senior couple mission when you are old - it is wonderful! I love my companion (transfers are this week but we get to stay together! Thankgoodness!)

Love, Mom