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)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

4th Post

Can you believe another week has gone by already. It is Saturday, Sept. 5, our P-day, so we got the laundry done and apartment cleaned. Speaking of cleaning - have you heard the one about ..... How many Elders (missionaries) does it take to clean an apartment? (go ahead and guess I will give you the correct answer). We don't know.... it's never been done! Ya I know that's real funny. But whoever made that one up never saw Sister Walker's apartment. She has her junior companion hopping most every Saturday morning. There is one real good thing about an apartment - it is small and real fast to vacuum/clean. I try not to go too fast otherwise by definition it is not clean yet.

Last Sunday we found out just how small the apartment is. We invited two sets of Elders to eat dinner with us. The power went off 20 minutes before our guests arrived. (The food was all cooked, thankgoodness.) Well, Sister Walker just about melted on the spot. I must admit it got real warm real fast. Part way through the meal however the power to the apartment complex was restored and all was well in ZION. What a blessing to have AC. We had a real good visit with the Elders. Both sets are Spanish speaking and I believe they are the Zone leaders and District Leaders. Really enthusiastic and very fun to talk with.

Earlier on Sunday we attended the Maplewood 2 Ward. That church building is just a couple of miles from our place. They have a real large ward. The Vietnam Branch and the Mandarin Chinese Ward also meet in that building. It was like being at the UN.

The Ennis' got on the webcam with us Sunday evening - that was fun to see the boys - Luke and Ronin are growing and full of life. Jessica also told us their wonderful news - we will be grandparents for the 20th time in February.

We spent a lot time this week contacting those on our "list". We have about 125 candidates. Of course we have not had any contact with most of them in the past, but this week we finally talked with them on the phone or emailed them. Many responded back, a few had jobs (hip hip hurrah), but most were still looking. So we did have some success with candidates being employed.

We had more people come into the office this week which was nice. It is always fun to talk with folks. One fellow came in on Tuesday to the Bering office. He has been unemployed since about March. As I reviewed his Career Assessment Plan (CAP) the thing that jumped out to me was good experience and skill so why no job? So when I ask that question ... he said that his early retirement had provided money and that was about to run out so the past couple of week he got busy looking for work. Money or lack thereof motivates most of us.

A Spanish speaking couple came in on Thursday looking for help. The wife spoke good English and the husband not so good. Anyway she had experience as a clown for events, parties, etc. and wanted to continue with that work. They do not have a computer at home so we spent a few minutes looking on the office computer for clown jobs in Houston. Well, as you might guess there were not many if any available at the current time. But that did not dampen her enthusiasm. She had recently performed for the children at their ward activity. She had made some business cards and handed them out after the social hoping that she might get some business; that is what is called "networking" in job searching! In fact as we were talking she got a call on her cell phone, someone interested in a clown. She seemed to be a real ambitious person, a real nice family. We really enjoy talking with people who are really looking for work and are trying their best - to the best of their knowledge to do what they can. The Church's employment program is very timely so it is great to be able to offer suggestions that will help if followed prayerfully.

We have talked with members from Africa who speak very little English and do not have many marketable skills. Your heart goes out to them as they find themselves in very desperate cucumstances. Others we have had contact with speak multiple languages and have degrees that are very marketable but just do not know the "system" in this country. A car or good transportation, a working phone, and access to a computer is just very basic, yet for many those would be more luxury items. So we offer access to the office computers or tell them about the public library's resources. As you know having a paying job is such a huge blessing - being able and WILLING to work is a blessing.

Another fellow I contacted yesterday had a great list of work experience and a chemical engineering degree with over 20 years of experience. Well from the time I introduced myself he lit into me non-stop. Nothing was working, no one was hiring, no interviews, he had done everything the Marlows (missionary couple before us) asked him to do, I was told I had nothing new to offer, that he had tried everything. He was so rude that I just about did my thing (some of you will know what that means), but I was blessed to hold my tongue and let him vent his frustration. I can understand how he might feel. To have really good marketable skills, a degree, and experience in the oil business and to be here in the center of the "o'bidness" and not be able to find work (guessing he may be about to lose his home, etc) would be very frustrating. Maybe next week I can call some of the folks I have met over the years in this area and see what can be done. I was told by the candidate he was going to have to pay big money to get some "professional" recuriting help. I may be alot of things but I have never been accused of being a professional job placement guy. Anyway even missionaries have to deal with fun folks. By the way he graduated from the Uof U so I had to cut him some real slack.

We enjoy our mission and being able to do what we can do. We are blessed everyday and are so thankful for that.

Have wonderful week and may the Lord bless you
Love, Grandpa, Dad, Steven, Elder Walker and Grandma, Mom, Leona, Sister Walker