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