Sunday, December 26, 2010

72nd Post Mon Dec 20 - Sunday, Dec 26, 2010

Monday was spent mostly in preparation for Wednesday's mission wide devotional and activity day. I ran several errands and went to the hardware store and got several dowels about 4 feet long. Back at the office "work shop" I taped one end with electrical tape, drilled a small hole and inserted a large finish nail, then used the grinder to sharpen the exposed end. Some of the missionaries will use these "sticks" to pick up trash along Hafer road on Wednesday. The President wanted to do a tug of war on Wednesday so I have looked all over and asked many church members if there was a large rope that we could borrow - no luck - but I found a place on the Internet that sold big rope for ship mooring, etc. They had a 100 foot long, 2" diameter piece they would sell me, so I drove down south of I-10 and east of 59 to their location and got the rope. Lots of missionaries in and out of the office today, mostly looking to see if they had a package from home.

David called and did not get the job he interviewed for in Utah. They have cleaned out their apartment in Rexburg and are headed to Utah for Christmas with Raquel's mother. Jessica called and they are on the road to Delaware for Christmas. We started our mission wide fast this evening. Warm today in the mid 70's.

Tuesday we went shopping for more graham cracker house supplies and putting stuff together to haul to the church tomorrow. The contractor working on the lights around the mission office was back doing punch list items. I guess I am really doing the FM group's job on this little project, but I do not mind as I do like "project" work. We cleaned up the spare bedroom for Elder and Sister Christensen as they will spend tomorrow night with us.

Wednesday - WOW what a day. We started early moving things over to the church and getting set up. Ice in the ice chest and water coolers, setting up tables (the young missionaries do the "work" they just need supervision), and getting the outdoor activities ready. The missionaries had a service project at NAM (similar to Deseret Industries) and Pres. Hansen took the district that is right around the office and they cleaned up along Hafer Road. One of the groups of missionaries did a food drive for NAM in the local neighborhoods and collected just under 3000 pounds of food. They really did a good job with that project. The missionaries all came back to the church at noon to eat lunch. We had 35 large pizzas, green salad, oranges and pumkin bread. Not much left over at all. They were then divided into 3 groups. One went to the YW's room to make graham cracker "houses", one group outside to play ultimate frisbie, and one group to games. The games consisted of the tug of war ran by Elder Christensen (the big rope really worked out well for 25 or 30 missionaries per side), Elder Stringfellow had frozen beef pies to throw as "cow chip" throwing contest, and Elder Thomas ran the stick pull. Every 45 minutes the missionaries rotated between the three main activities. They really had a good time. After the activities we all changed into our proselyting clothes and had the mission picture taken. Let me say that having a family picture taken is a piece of cake compared to getting 170 or so missionaries (including seniors) positioned and ready for the photo. After the photo we quickly set up tables and chairs and had dinner. The sister that does the dinner for the departing missionaries at the temple also did this dinner. It all went well. After dinner we went into the chapel, where Pres and Sister Hansen briefly spoke, and then Elder Gifford Neilson (Area Authority 70) spoke. Following the devotional we went back into the culture hall and the seniors served Blue Bell ice cream and homemade cupcakes. Most all the Stake Presidents and their wives in our mission were also in attendance to the dinner and devotional. It was about 9 pm before we got back to the apartment. But what a wonderful day it was. It is so much fun being around the missionaries.

Thursday Leona fixed a nice breakfast for the Christensen's and we got them on their way. Leona spent the morning at the church cleaning the kitchen and putting things away. I unloaded the truck and put things away at the office. Today the missionaries all went to the temple at assigned times. Leona and I went to the temple later in the afternoon. This evening we went out to get a few things for the BBQ tomorrow.

Friday we got up and ran our 2 miles as usual, got ready and into the office by about 7:40. The office staff fixed a BBQ lunch for the North Zone. Their Zone meeting is held at the Hafer Building so they just came over to the office after their meeting was over. I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Others had brought potato salad, jello salad, soda, and all the fixin's. The missionaries really seemed to enjoy the lunch. and even sang a hymn for us. We cleaned up and left about 2:30 so I could get up to the mission home to take a family picture for President Hansen. All their kids and grandkids were there. It was fun to be with them for a few minutes.

Christmas day was a quiet day for us (thank goodness). We got to talk to all the kids which was great for us. The Seniors met at the sister's apartment for dinner about 5 pm. We enjoyed a nice meal and long visit together. We are so thankful for this Christmas season - what a blessing to know the true nature of Jesus Christ and the restoration. We are blessed to be serving this mission together and are very thankful for this experience.
Sunday the weather was very cool, but lots of sunshine. The speakers and the ward choir really did an inspiring job in sacrament meeting. One sister spoke on the light of Christ and how the light will always win over darkness - lots to think about.

We love you. Drive safely, you are in our prayers.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, December 19, 2010

71st Post Monday Dec 13 - Sunday, Dec 19, 2010

Monday we went into the office early, I got apartment inspection forms ready for tomorrow, updated some files, helped missionaries with vacuum issues (how to clean filters, etc) and with cleaning supplies. Leona and I went to Sam's Club to get paper goods for next weeks mission activities. The seniors had FHE at the Stringfellow's apartment. Sister Marsh taught the lesson on scriptures that prove the Book of Mormon is true.

Tuesday I inspected apartments in Sealy and Katy. Most of the apartments were in good shape. The Ashley House apartment had re-carpeted and painted so it looked real good. I am able to find most of the apartments with almost no help (GPS or maps) so I am learning something. I usually get back to the office in the mid afternoon. Worked on file updates and ordered some pictures for President Cue (2nd coun. in the mission presidency). The time goes by very fast, but we enjoy so much our work. It was warmer today, in the mid 60's with lots of sunshine.

Wednesday I inspected apartments in Tomball, Magnolia, and the area around the mission office. Even though I am on the road a lot I do enjoy the work I am assigned to perform. Talking with the missionaries in their apartments and getting to know them better is a real plus. Later in the day I went to the mattress store and ordered 25 more beds for the mission, then to Walmart for mattress covers, and Home Depot for padlocks for the new fence/gates that was recently completed behind the office.

Thursday I was back out to the Katy area delivering a bed for the Sisters and getting a drivers licence form to an Elder before his licence expires (his companion currently does not have a licence). Leona made carmel, chocolate covered pretzels for all the missionaries so I left a little treat bag for each missionary in their apartment. Elder Stringfellow called me on my way back to the office so I arranged to meet him at one of the apartments so he could drop off a car following repairs. This afternoon we left work early, about 4 pm and went to the temple. Just 7 of us on the session, but still a good experience. It is a real blessing for us to have a temple in our mission.

Friday, a great day, David will graduate this evening with a BA in accounting. Our thoughts and hearts are with him and Raquel in Idaho. We are proud of him and all his hard work. Way to go David!
In our office staff meeting President Hansen read 1 Nephi 11, Nephi's vision of the nativity 600 years before Christ's birth. What a sacred event that Nephi was able to see. How thankful we are for our saviour, Jesus Christ, for his life and love and willingness to atone for our sins.
During staff meeting we planned some of the details for next week's mission wide Christmas activity and devotional on Wednesday Dec. 22. Lots for the seniors to get ready. Leona said that she is going to keep tylenol on hand for the day and maybe some of the "special medicine" that was used at girls camp!
I ran several errands, went shopping for more supplies with Leona, and took Elder Stringfellow down to pick up a missionary car.
Much cooler this evening as the wind was coming out of the north.

Saturday, another great day, it is Jessica's 30th birthday today! My how fast the years have gone by. We are so thankful for Jessica. She is so lucky; she gets to spend her birthday preparing for and probably cleaning up their ward Christmas dinner!!
We did our P-day thing - shopping, cleaning and I even got the car washed. Leona sent me out with a long lists of items to get. She made treats for the ward Christmas party this evening. The party was fun, even though I thought it was way unorganized. The high priests did the 12 days of Christmas. They had 3 sisters sing the song and then each of us had one of the days we represented. I had 5 large "gold" rings, Elder Stringfellow was the 1st day. It was fun and seemed to be a big hit with the ward. Lots of people came out. The organizers had set up a table with large glass containers with all sorts of different candy and treats in them. By the time the evening was over the kids were "wired" big time. It was a hoot to sit back and watch the parents chase them!

Sunday, sacrament meeting was very inspirational. We enjoyed the speakers a lot, even the high councilor did a really good job of speaking with the spirit. He talked about service and "good will to all man kind" not just those we know or we think deserve our help; a very uplifting meeting. The teacher in the high priest quorum taught the exact same lesson he taught last week. About half way through I thought I was having an old age attack, but I noticed I was not the only one in the group having the same attack!

We continue to be blessed so much to be on this mission. It is really a grand experience, one we are so thankful for.
Have a wonderful week. We wish ya'll a very Merry Christmas. Be safe.
We love you,
Dad and Mom

Sunday, December 12, 2010

70th Post Mon. Dec. 6 - Sunday Dec. 12, 2010

Monday and weigh in day. We still go over to the employment office on Monday mornings early and weigh in - it is good motivation not to gain weight. I spent most of the day getting the garage cleaned up and a place to put the furniture that was in the trailer. Got the parts I needed to fix a table lamp, showed one set of sister missionaries how to clean the vacuum filters, installed some hooks in the garage to hang electrical cords and air hoses and repaired a desk. Also got the Christmas tree down and in the office so the missionaries could decorate it. It looks real nice.
Doug Taber from our ward back home is in Houston teaching a class at one of the universities. He came by this evening and had a bowl of soup with us. It was fun to catch up on his family and the "new" ward back home.

Tuesday I started apartment inspections again, most looked good. Elder Herrman made cookies for me to take back to the office and Sisters Maxwell and Ferro left me a little bag of treats - apartment inspections can be quit rewarding. I had to take the truck in as it was not starting very well today - just needed a new battery. Leona is making carmel/chocolate covered pretzels for each missionary so I leave them at the apartments as I inspect them.

Wednesday I drove up to Huntsville, Conroe, Montgomery, and the Woodlands doing apartment inspections. I will put lots of miles on the truck this week. When I got back to the office I had a list of supplies to get at WalMart. As I was getting a box down from a high shelf at WalMart it slipped right through my hands and hit me square on the fore head. The edge of the heavy box cut my fore head and for a minute I thought I was going to lose my balance. The box really gave me a whack, I guess shopping can be hazardous to your health.

Thursday I went to College Station, Brenham, and Waller inspecting apartments - over 220 miles. Most of the trees in that area have lost their leaves so the country side is rather drab, but I enjoy seeing the large ranches and farms. At Elder Hiatt's apartment he had left me a note thanking Sister Walker and I for all our work and all we do for the missionaries. He is a very thoughtful young man, we miss him in the office.

Friday I started out with my jacket on as it was cool again, but by the afternoon it had really warmed up. I went out inspecting apartments again today. They all looked good except one was a real mess. I stopped by the office of one of the apartments to sign a lease renewal - I have a few more to sign before the month is over. The apartment assistant manager was telling me how good the "boys" were, how respectful and polite they were. It is always good to hear such kind words about our missionaries. President Hansen asked about our family in our interview with him this morning. We talked about each of you and mentioned that David & Raquel were looking for work and graduate school. He offered to send David's resume to people he knew in this area that have connections with accounting functions. As he closed our interview with prayer he offered a really wonderful blessing on David, by name. It was a very touching experience for us. President Hansen is a wonderful mission president.

Saturday I ran a few errands and got my hair cut and Leona cleaned the apartment and did the laundry. I got a call from the Elders at one of our Katy apartments - he thinks he has bed bugs. I loaded up a new bed, some permethalin and headed down to their apartment - about 45 minutes from our place. Elder Griffiths was very thankful that I was able to help out so quickly. When I asked how long there had been an issue his reply was "a few weeks". Anyway I hope we get the issue handled before it becomes a real infestation.
This evening we loaded up the van with senior missionaries (Thomas, Stringfellows, us and Sister Young) and we headed to Conroe, about 20 or so minutes north of us. We ate dinner at Ryan's Restaurant and then went to the Spring Stake Choir's Christmas Concert. The choir really did an outstanding job. They have an excellent group of very good singers. The music was very inspiring. A really great evening. The day started out very warm, but the wind blew most all evening and turned off cool.

Sunday we had really fine sacrament speakers. We enjoy going to church and are getting to know more people all the time. This has been another very busy week for us, but we enjoy what we are doing so much. It is such a blessing to be missionaries and we are thankful to be here.
Mom & Dad
<-- picture of Spencer and his "gingerbread" house

Sunday, December 5, 2010

69th Post Mon. Nov. 29 - Sunday Dec. 5, 2010

I had an early appointment at the dermatologist this morning. Not a bad drive down town as it was right after rush hour. The doctor cut a spot from my left cheek and left leg and "froze" a couple of spots on my face and ears. Leona had a missionary moment while we were at MD Anderson this morning. As we got on the elevator there were already three or four people on and as we stepped to the back a lady looked at Leona and at her missionary name tag and she said with her hands in the air pointing, "I am going to take it as a sign, I am going back to church. I have been away for a long time but I am going back. I haven't seen one of those LDS Mormon badges for a long time, it's a sign I am going back!" She said that she was baptized 10 years ago but had not been to church for a very long time. Leona told her she was always welcome and hoped she would come back. As we got off the elevator we wished her a good day. Leona said to me, "that was easy, didn't have to say much, just wear my name tag and look like missionary!"

We were back to the office by mid morning. I hooked up the truck and trailer and drove down to the sisters apartment at the Oaks of Wimbledon. There were some issues with their old apartment so we are moving them to a different building in the same complex. There were 6 elders from their district to help so the move went well. After we moved I took them all to lunch, which they enjoy. After I got back to the office Allen Smith (my cousin's husband) stopped by to see us. They leave to go back to Utah tomorrow. After work we we decorated cookies and fixed other little treats for the dinner at the temple tomorrow night.

Tuesday we were at the office by just after 7 AM as it is transfer week. Even though we only have 3 new missionaries coming in there were several missionaries being transferred. Lots of missionaries in the office all day. I drove the transfer van down to the Bear Creek and Mills Road chapels after the van got back from College Station. I got back in time for the departing testimonies. Elder Thomson (was an AP), Elder Lindsey, and Elder Woodruff and Sisters Hastings and Sorensen are all going home. It is sad to see them go, such wonderful young men and women. We left work a bit early to get up to the temple and set up for dinner. We enjoy doing that, but it does make for a very long day. Very windy and cold today.
Wednesday there was frost on the cars when we went out to go to the office. We left early again this morning this time to drive up to the mission home. All the departing missionaries and the AP meet there for breakfast. We picked up Elder Thomson and drove him to the airport because the other missionary's flights left later. We will miss him. Turns out his flight was delayed to Minn/St Paul and so he missed his flight to Hawaii. I know his folks were disappointed. Thanks goodness there was a member of the church working the airline counter that made sure they got him a hotel and meals, otherwise they were going to do nothing for him.

The new missionaries arrived this afternoon. Also Elder Barton returned with them. He went home several months ago to have his foot operated on. Glad he has returned. When the APs brought the van and trailer back to the office they said the trailer came off the hitch at the airport. Elder Stringfellow and I worked to see if we could get the trailer to disengage from the van, but if connected correctly we just could not make it happen. I did drill a hole through the hitch latch and put a pin in it. I also went through the proper hook up procedure (again) to make sure they understand the whole process. Hopefully we have solved the problem. Another long but wonderful day.

Thursday we are up early again and up to the mission home to have breakfast ready for the new missionaries and their trainers. We fix bacon, sausage, french toast, home made syrup, fruit, and juice. There is always plenty to eat. President Hansen announces the new companionship's, I take photos of the new missionaries and the Hansens to send to the parents and also photos of the new missionaries, their trainers and the Hansens for the history. Then they all go to the temple. Back to the office, I hooked up the trailer and truck and went to the store to pick up the remainder of the beds we purchased, then back to the office to unload the beds in the garage. I then drove up to the temple to meet Elders Foster and Reidhead and drove them to their area in Huntsville. On the way back I stopped in Conroe, purchased a small table at WalMart and delivered it to the Elders at the Autumn Wood Apartments. Lots of miles on the road and another long day, but so thankful we can do what we are asked to do - what a blessing.

Friday we were in the office early again. I loaded up cleaning supplies, a vacuum and empty boxes and headed down to Village in the Woods Apartment complex. We moved the elders out a few months ago thinking we may be back, but it appears we are just closing down that area so we needed to clean out the apartment. The Zone Leaders and 4 other elders came by to help me. They loaded the furniture in the trailer and helped clean up the apartment. I worked on the oven as it was real bad. Did not take long to get it all done. As the missionaries were waiting for me to finish checking the place out I noticed one ZL had engaged the Comcast repair man working next door in a gospel conversation. It was fun to watch him be such a good missionary. I signed a new lease at the Discoll Place Apts. Back at the office there were lots of my files that needed updating since the most recent transfers.
Leona drove to the temple at about 11am to help set up lunch for the three mission presidents in Houston and their wives, Elder Gifford Nielson and his wife and the temple president and his wife. They had done a session at 10am and were eating lunch at 12:30pm. Leona had called a lady who caters (Sister Sevy) and asked her about a month ago if she could fix the lunch. It was held in the temple cafeteria with glass dishes and fresh flowers. Sister Sevy served spinach salad with pear slices, cranraisins and candied nuts. Then beef tenderloin, carrott souffle', mashed potatoes (that were very different and good - Leona wishes she had the recipe) and green been almondine and homemade rolls. For dessert she had three things on each plate: small bite size carrott cake, choc souffle and a large strawberry dipped in chocolate. It was very nice and enjoyed by all. Sister Sevy had done alot of work. Mission presidents and area authority seventy eat different than plain missionaries!

Saturday we went into the office for a few hours. I have lots to catch up on so I am ready for next week and apartment inspections. We did some shopping and put out some Christmas decorations in the apartment. It looks like Christmas now! It was cool and breezy today, with lots of sunshine.

Sunday morning was very cool. I suppose it was in the 30's last night. Lots of real good testimonies in sacrament meeting today. Our priesthood meeting got off track as one member is so loud and negative with almost every thing he says. This evening we drove to Kingwood, one of the stakes there has the cultural hall nicely decorated with about two hundred different nativity desplays. They had dark blue fabric hanging against the walls as a backdrop painted with outlines of old world villages. The ceiling was draped with white fabric and strans of white lights. It was very beautiful. We were touched by the music and spirit we felt there, the true meaning of Christmas. There was a small framed nativity picture with the words "We all need a stable beginning" - how true that is.
Have a great week. We love you
Mom and Dad

Sunday, November 28, 2010

68th Post Mon Nov 22 - Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010

Another Monday already. Elder Stringfellow picked me up at the apartment early this morning (7 AM) and we drove out to get the mission truck that was parked at a secure place. After we got back to the office I had some emails and phone calls to make. Later I drove down to Village in the Woods apartment complex. We moved the Elders out a few months ago, and it looks like we have no intention of moving back in anytime soon. I took a letter to them of our intention to vacate and talked to the manager about our options which are not many. At least they will let us turn the keys in as soon as we clean out the place. Arranged with the Zone Leaders to have a crew of Elders there a week from this Friday. We will continue to pay the rent until the lease is completed (end of March I believe). Later in the afternoon the senior missionaries got together at our office for a few minutes to plan Thanksgiving dinner and a road trip on Friday. I think they just kind of wait for us to tell them what we are going to do and where I am going to take them. Another wonderful day in the mission field. Today was more warm and humid than the past few days.

Tuesday I spent a lot of time on line and making phone calls to find an apartment in Navasota. Pres. Hansen is not sure if we are going to Navasota or if we will need another apartment in College Station so be prepared for both I guess. Also worked on the photos for the elders coming in April and May. Brother Hellewell for the FM group came by today to get my ideas for additional lighting and security at the mission office (Mission Pres told me to "handle it"). It was sort of fun to do a little project management again for a couple of hours. Brother Hellewell had his contractor come over and we walked down the ideas for additional exterior lights and security cameras for the office parking areas.
Yesterday, Leona received a phone call from one of our sister missionaries who is from the Philippines. She asked Leona if she could call her brother for her who lives in California and ask him to send her $100 cash in the mail. Leona said that she didn't think that would be very wise since sometimes letters are "lost". The missionary said she needed the money and that her brother had told her that he could help if she ever needed money. Leona made the phone call and left a message and asked him to call the mission office. Well, today this dear sister called Leona. She said "Sister Walker, it's a miracle! Last night when we went to our mailbox I received a letter from a friend and he had sent me $100. That is just the amount I needed. My companions could not believe it when I opened the letter. Heavenly Father does hear our prayers, it's a miracle. If my brother calls, please tell him that I do not need him to send me money." This dear sister was so excited and so thankful her prayers had been answered. It truly was a miracle.
We had Elders Lindsey and Struthers over for dinner this evening. Elder Lindsey goes home next week.
Leona spent some time this evening helping out at the bishop's storehouse. Tuesdays they are opened late and many come to fill orders for themselves or others. It was her first time doing this and she enjoyed her time there.

Wednesday I went to WalMart to get several plastic mattress protectors, then back to the office to hook up the truck and trailer. I had a couple of new bed sets still in the trailer but stopped by Mattress Giant to get 5 more sets. I then drove out to Tomball to deliver new beds to the 3'some there, and then down to Stone Mist Apartments to drop off 4 bed sets to elders there. The missionaries were excited about getting new beds - "this is like Christmas Elder Walker"!! Back to the office to work on binders for the new missionaries. A package came in today that was marked "perishables" so Leona had me drive it down to Sister Ferro. There was another package for another sister in that same complex so I took it also. The Sisters were very excited to get their packages so quickly. Worked on a bed bug problem with a local member who is an exterminator and wants to help out. I hope we can get rid of the bed bugs at Spring Shadows apt. Another very busy day, but so thankful we can serve.

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day. The Stringfellows, Thomas, and Sisters Marsh and P. Young came to our place to dinner. Leona cooked a 23 pound turkey, made a fruit salad, cheese ball, vegetable tray and cooked some corn. Everyone brought things, we had sweet and mashed potatoes, jello, dressing, ham, green bean casserole, cherry pie, pumpkin dump cake, rolls, etc. Lots of good food and good conversation. Sister Stringfellow brought over a DVD of their stake youth conference which was a stage play of the life of the Savior. The kids really did a great job.

Friday I picked everyone up in the van and we drove up to Washington on the Brazos, which is where the Texans declared their independence from Mexico. Davy Crockett came through the little town on his way to the Alamo (we walked down the same little "road" (path is more like it). We enjoyed the museums and tour of "independence hall". We walked down to the confluence of the Brazos and Navasota Rivers. We then drove up to College Station for lunch and to visit the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the bonfire memorial at Texas A&M university. It was a very nice outing, even though it was a bit windy and cold (yes cold for Texas)! We stopped by the sister missionaries apartment to leave some packages and mail.

Saturday we just did our cleaning, shopping and laundry. Leona did some sewing for grandchildren. Just a nice easy day.

Sunday was another very nice day. Lots of speakers in sacrament meeting so we did go over time a bit, but the last speaker was the stake president. He reminded everyone that we need to be generous with our fast offerings - lots of unemployed and under-employed.
Sisters Mash and Young came over for dinner today.

Thank you all for your prayers. We love you and are thankful you are part of our life.
Love Mom and Dad

Sunday, November 21, 2010

67th Post Mon Nov 15 - Sunday Nov. 21, 2010

Monday was an interesting day. I went shopping to get an item for Leona and Elder Stringfellow asked me to get him some things for Zone Conferences this week. I stopped at Subway to get some gift cards for Elder Stringfellow and went to pay for the $160 worth of gift cards and the church credit card "rang up" insufficient funds. At first I thought that was a bit funny - the CHURCH has insufficient funds!!, so I just used my personal card. I just assumed the credit card had a limit at fast food places. The next stop was at an auto parts store to get several tire pressure gages. Again the church card came up insufficient funds, now it is no longer funny. I got back to the office and called SLC to see what was going on. The man in the finance department looked up our account and said you only have $27 in your account, now I am a bit excited. First I did not know we had a monthly limit ("to keep you within your budget", I was told), as we have never gone over that budget before. The long and the short was when this good brother put the approved $4000 for new beds in our budget last week he must of not really put the $4000 in, but only enough plus what was currently in the account to equal $4000. I spent the $4000 last week not realizing that our money was now gone for the month. The good brother told me he would put another $1000 in our account to "get us by until the end of the month". I have left out much of the details of our conversation as I do not want to shake any one's testimony or appear ungrateful for every one's service in the Kingdom. Suffices to say the church has it's bureaucracy also, but the Church is still true.
Monday evening we went to the mission home for dinner. All the senior missionaries, even the two couples in Huntsville came down. There were 19 of us including the mission president and his wife. The president tries to get us together when ever any of us are going home. Sister Billingsley goes home this coming Saturday. We will miss her, she is such a good person and a great example. Her husband was killed on the job many years ago so she raised her kids on her own. She was in the MTC with us (employment).

Tuesday we were at the Longenbaugh building for Zone Conference. I take a few minutes at each Zone Conference to talk about apartments. I talked about the school of the prophets in the Whitney Store and the clean up required following those meetings and the subsequent revelation on the Word of Wisdom. President and Sister Hansen always do a wonderful job with their remarks. We got back to the office late in the day with lots of emails, letters, and bills to deal with. We also had three missionaries arrive this evening who are waiting for visas to Brazil, and Taiwan. By the time we finished with a very brief orientation, photos and getting them money for the next couple of weeks, we did not leave the office until about 7pm. Small world one of the missionaries, Elder Alexandre, is Brother and Sister Martin's grandson. The Martins lived in the Wilmington ward, he was in the Stake Presidency. They invited us to their home on Christmas day that first Christmas in Delaware when we were homeless and staying in a motel. It was fun to visit for a few minutes with Elder Alexandre about his grandparents.

Wednesday we drove up to College Station for Zone Conference there. It is about 1 3/4 hours drive from here. We left early as Leona sets out all the supplies the missionaries have ordered. There were some missing cleaning supplies so I ran to WalMart to get the items. The Relief Society's always do a good job in providing lunch. Again the music and the talks and the teaching were all very inspiring - always a good experience. We did not get back to the office until late in the afternoon, but lots to do when we got there so it was another late evening for us. We are tired at the end of day but feel so blessed to be able to serve at this time in our life.

Thursday the Zone Conference was at the Hafer building which is right next to the mission office. Pres. Hansen again answered questions during his part on the program, which was a bit longer today as Sister Hansen was at the hospital with one of our elders who was having a kidney stone attack. One of the questions was how do we respond to questions about the Mountain Meadow Massacre? Pres Hansen has read lots of books including the latest one by the BYU professors on that subject. He also grew up in Ceder City and so was very familiar with the "feelings" to still exist with the posterity of those involved in that great tragedy. His response was very enlightening. After we finished at Zone Conference I went over to the mattress store and picked up 8 new bed sets (this is all I could get in the truck and trailer). When I tried to hook the trailer on the truck the trailer jack finally gave out. What a beautiful day, cool and windy this morning and just nice and warm this afternoon.

Friday and our normal office staff meeting. I was asked to give a thought, which I did (2Ne 22 - these words from Isaiah just sounded like Nephi when I read them the other morning). After staff meeting I headed out with the new beds. My first stop was the Green Tree Place Apt. Sisters Wardle and Smart were so excited to get new beds, "now the springs will not poke me any more" they said. Next stop was to sign a new lease at one of our Katy apartments and then off to Sealy. I had arranged to get there just after the elders district meeting. They were also excited to get new beds (there are 4 elders in the Sealy apartment). After they got their old beds out and the new ones in we went to lunch. I had wanted to get out to Sealy to take these elders to lunch for some time. Their apartment was without power this summer for 2 or 3 nights and they never complained. Anyway we went to a BBQ place in town which the elders had never been before. It was very good and they really enjoyed their lunch.
On the way back to the mission office I stopped at a trailer place to buy a new jack for the mission trailer. I missed the exist and was headed towards the 610 loop when I knew I had gone to far south. I pulled into a very large parking lot at the far end by the fence to see if I could get a location entered in the GPS. A security guard pulled up in his truck and asked what I was doing (no other vehicles in the whole area of that lot). I told him were I was trying to go, and he was a bit helpful. He told me not to stay here as this is a "ghetto" and it was not safe. Anyway I found the store, got the jack and arrived back at the mission office safe and sound.
The office and employment Seniors all went out to dinner to visit with Sister Billingsley on her last night in the mission field. She leaves early in the morning for home which is in Queen Creek, AZ. After dinner we all came back to our place for ice cream and to visit. Sister Billingsley will be missed.

Saturday we got up early and Leona rode to the air port with Sisters Young and Billingsley. We hated to see Sister Billingsley go. The AP's called me this morning and said someone had broken the window out of the truck last night. I told them to call Elder Stringfellow which they did. After running some errands and doing some shopping I went to the office to put the new jack on the trailer. Who ever broke into the truck also took the gas card. Elder Stringfellow called to cancel the card and of course it had been used at 5 am. This evening we took Sister Young (Sister Marsh stayed home as she is not feeling well) and we went down to the Shadowdale building to a Spanish Ward talent night. Alex LaMar from the employment office and his wife were in it so that is the main reason we went. What a night. The adults really are into the singing and the little primary kids are into the dancing. The program was to start at 7 pm but didn't start until about 7:30 and then went until 9:30. Little toddlers were running all over the place. The audience were just visiting with each other and some were putting up chairs during the last two or three numbers. It was a fun experience.

This morning we attended the Old Oaks ward, that is the ward that we usually attend. The last few weeks we have been going to stake conferences in the area or delivering supplies to our missionaries and attending church with them so it seemed like a long time since seeing the members of the Old Oaks ward. You know, I don't even think they noticed we hadn't been there for three weeks! But we missed them! Sacrament meeting was great, two high counselors spoke; in this stake they send them in twos! Our Sunday School lesson was on giving service. Alot of good comments and stories on charity and service. Just as President Kimball said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." Giving service helps you more than the person receiving the service.
We have had another "perfect week". We are so thankful for this experience and for the blessing of serving a mission. We are grateful for the missionaries and members and investigators that we meet each week. Our lives have been richly blessed by the people we have met and grown to love.
Have a great week. Be careful in your travels. Love and serve your eternal companion and your wonderful children. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We each have so much to to grateful for.
We love you,
Dad and Mom

Sunday, November 14, 2010

66th Post Monday Nov 8 - Sunday Nov 14, 2010

Monday already! It was such a nice day I wanted to be outside so I went to purchase some cleaning supplies for the missionaries and also picked up some tie down hooks for the inside of the trailer. I spent the rest of the morning installing the tie downs in the trailer. There are a few tools in the mission garage so I found what I needed to complete the job. When we transport furniture, especially desks or tables without the trailer being full it seems with all the shifting around the stuff gets damaged/broken. I figured if I secured the items maybe there would be less damage (we shall see). Elder Stringfellow asked me to follow him down to Katy this afternoon in the truck as he had to take a loaner car to the elders. It seems earlier in the day the elders were at the library doing email and as they were leaving the parking lot to enter the main road two cars hit each other and one came across the lane and hit the mission car in the parking lot exist. No one was hurt, but there was considerable car body damage. The elder driving had just received his email authorization to drive a mission vehicle that morning so he was behind the wheel of a church car for the first time for all of about 30 seconds when they got hit.

This evening we had Elder and Sister Thomas to dinner and then we all gathered for FHE at the Stringfellows apartment. Sister Billingsley taught the lesson on gratitude. We had the song and had picked "Come Ye Thankful People Come" and Elder Thomas had the thought and it was on gratitude. It was wonderful how all the parts of FHE fit so well together without any such planning. We are blessed to be associated with such good, faithful folks. Love this mission.

Tuesday I drove up to Tomball to do a walk-through with the apartment manager of the apartment we recently moved out off, plus I hand carried rent checks to replace the checks that never arrived from SLC. Paper and office work consumed the rest of our day. Leona spent a lot of time calling missionaries about their electricity bill today. She calls each month to remind them about turning lights and fans and AC off when they leave their apartment each morning. Each month, since she has been doing this, the electricity bill has dropped a bit. The missionaries are always so good and want to be obedient.

Wednesday I spent some time in the garage cleaning stuff out and hanging clothes up on the clothes rack. Missionaries bring stuff, especially clothes in and just leave them in the garage so every once in awhile I have to clean the place up.
Leona made copies of handouts that President Hansen wants each missionary to receive next week at zone conferences.
There is going to be a change in the departing DVD that each missionary receives as he or she leaves. President and Sister Hansen are going to talk for a few minutes and bare their testimonies at the end. Hunter (man who puts the DVD together) and his friend came today to work on lighting and set up because it is going to be done in the President's office. They spent a good amount of time working and experimenting this afternoon.
This evening we went to Costco with the Stringfellows (our membership expired last spring). Sam's Club is OK, but I think I like Costco's better, but it is a drive to get there.

Thursday - Veterans Day - Happy Veterans Day to all you veteran's and thanks for your service. We are thankful to live in America and the blessings we enjoy. We are grateful for all those who are keeping us safe and free. I spent most of the day working on apartment and utility issues. I got a call from a collection agency about an unpaid bill from back in April/May. We moved out of the apartment, but there was some damage that they charged us for. As I went back into the file I remembered the issue and found notes of our claims dispute and then resolution. We had SLC email a copy the check the apartment had cashed so I hope that resolves the issue. I went to two different apartment complexes to sign lease renewals this afternoon.
The weather as been on the warm and humid side this week - we are ready for winter -especially Leona!!
A few weeks ago I requested funding to buy some new beds for the missionaries. We received that approval and so I went to the mattress store to buy 20 new bed sets and frames. As the clerk was writing up the order it occurred to me that my purchasing card may have a limit so I called SLC and sure enough I would be about $2000 short, so the church worker told me to have the Mission President call to have a one time adjustment to the card limit. I called President Hansen and found he had a few available minutes. He called SLC and within 5 minutes I was able to purchase the beds. The clerk asked me if things always worked that fast in our Church (of course they do in these matters I said).

Friday after staff meeting, Hunter worked with President and Sister Hansen to get the recording for the departing DVD. I know they were nervous and had to do it a couple of times but when it was all over and President and Sister Hansen had gone, Hunter said it went well and will be the perfect ending on the DVD.
I worked on tracking and picture board photos for the 3 missionaries that will arrived next Tuesday. We have 3 "visa waiters" coming to our mission. One is going to the same mission in Brazil that David went to. The second is going to another mission in Brazil and the Sister is going to Taiwan. We do not know how long they will be here waiting for a visa but they will be put to work!
The AP's had requested that we get new art work for their use at the Spanish flea markets (they set up church pictures - BofM, pictures of Christ, etc, like at a street meeting). Anyway one of the mission president's counselors got these really nice, large pictures from SLC. As we looked at them I knew the missionaries would need a way to transport the pictures back and forth each Saturday. I found a place near the Bering church building (where we use to work), that sold large portfolio cases so off I went to get a couple of them for the AP's. I was reminded as I drove down town why I like living by the mission office.

<-- You never know what you will see out my mission office window!

Saturday we shopped, cleaned and went into the office for a while to work on new missionary binders. While at the office I noticed the return address on a letter written to Elder Joshua Anderson. The return address said, Vernon R. Rice; I kept thinking could it be President Rice. I finally couldn't stand it any longer so I phoned Elder Anderson and told him there was a letter in the mission office for him. I then asked him who Vernon R. Rice was. He said, "He is my grandpa". I asked, "did he use to live in Delaware?" Elder Anderson answered "Yes". I told him that I knew his grandpa well and that I had served as his counselor in the stake presidency. Small world. Another amazing thing is that I never check the mail but Leona wanted to know how many bills she would be dealing with on Monday morning and asked me to go through it. Another tender mercy from the Lord to make this connection with President Rice and our Elder Anderson!
This afternoon Leona fixed a really good taco soup, salad, and made a birthday cake and invited the Stringfellows, and the senior sisters over for dinner and birthday celebration. We had a very enjoyable evening visiting with the other seniors. Sister Billingsley goes home a week from today so it was good to be with her, we will miss her sweet spirit - what a great lady she is. It rained a bit this morning and was cool all day - very nice.

Sunday we got up early and drove up to the Navasoda Branch (just south of College Station) to meet Sisters Naufahu Talakai and Stevenson. They needed some plastic covers for their mattress and box springs (bed bugs!). We have the bug man coming to spray next Tuesday. The Branch is very small, but they have some wonderful people there. Many came up to us and wanted to know if we were assigned to their Branch - we could tell they were a bit disappointed that we were not. We learned in church today that we can find our problems and their answers in the scriptures and that we must make scripture study a habit. You know it is a habit when you can not go to sleep at night if you have not read your scriptures.
Leona gave me Pres. Monson's biography for my birthday. Just reading the introduction and the first few pages I can tell this will be a good read.

We are enjoying our mission so much. It is hard to explain, but we just love what we are doing, maybe because we are doing what we have been asked to do. Thanks for your prayers and love.
Love Dad & Mom

Sunday, November 7, 2010

65th Post Mon Nov 1 - Sun Nov 7, 2010

Monday, November 1st, another month already, time is passing so quickly. I worked on the new missionary binders, ordered some office supplies and got apartment inspection forms ready for tomorrow. It was Sister Billingsley's birthday today so the employment folks had cake and ice cream for her at lunch time. They are good to invite Sister Walker and I to those functions. FHE was at our place this evening. Sister Marsh shared a CD with us called "Fishers of Men - The Greatest Brotherhood". It was statements by apostles and prophets about the Savior with a music background. Very inspirational. Sister Peggy Jo Young asked us to give her a blessing. She is doing much better, but is still feeling some effects of being mugged. She told us she felt very strongly that she should not turn around and "face down" the guy as he came up behind her and that as she was down on the ground, clinging to her purse she felt/heard the words "just let go", which she did. She feels she was blessed as it could have been much worse.

Tuesday I drove out to Sealy and Katy inspecting apartments. I got an early start so there were several of the missionaries at home when I arrived. I spend a bit of time visiting with them just to see how they are doing. We really do have some very faithful missionaries in this mission.
It rained a lot last night and early this morning, so it was a bit cool today. Tuesday is sewing night so Leona went over to the Senior Sister's apartment.

Wednesday I inspected apartments in Magnolia, Tomball and those around the mission office. It rained on and off today, but not while I was walking to or from the apartments so I stayed dry. Cypress Lake apartments (where we live), had the security man give a little presentation this evening on personal security and what we should be looking for. It was worth our time to be there.

Thursday was a beautiful day, in the 60's with warm sun shine. We had staff meeting today as Pres and Sister Hansen will not be around Friday morning. Sister Stringfellow gave the thought. She listed five things that would help us endure and become more like Christ. They were: faith, hope, love, gratitude and service; together they are charity. Those are the qualities we should strive for. She did a good job - lots to think about and work on.
I worked on updating inspection sheets, fixed a vacuum, and repaired a large picture frame. The elders use the picture at the Spanish flea markets to share the message of the restoration.
We went to the temple this evening. What a blessing it is to have a temple so close to us. We enjoy going to the temple, and feeling the good spirit that is there.

Friday I hooked up the trailer and took a desk to the sisters in Bear Creek area, a vacuum to the Zone Leaders in the Hollister area and picked up a table and floor lamp from the deaf elders. When I arrived at the sisters place and opened the trailer, the two pedestal legs were completely broken off the desk (cheap particle board!!). I could tell the sisters were disappointed, but I asked if they had a hammer or nails. They had nails, but no hammer so I found the apartment maintenance guy and borrowed his hammer. I was able to get the desk put back together well enough to set it up in their apartment, so not all was lost. I cleaned and repaired two vacuums today and completed more paper worked this afternoon. Anther wonderful day to be a missionary.
We had dinner with Perry and Celeste Dobson this evening and then back to their home to play a few games and catch up on our families. It was a fun evening and nice to get to know Celeste better.

Saturday we shopped, cleaned and ran a few errands. Leona went to to the fabric store with the senior sisters (I stayed home - darn it!). We drove up to the Woodlands this evening to attend the Spring Stake Conference. That is the stake that Kent Chamberlin lives in. It was a wonderful meeting. Much said about families and raising our children not just to be good adults, but to be good parents. After the meeting we were able to visit with Kent and Diane for a few minutes, it was good to see them again. Kent spoke (he is 1st counselor in the Stake presidency) and he did a fine job.

Today, Sunday, I went over to the office and got the van and we all loaded up and went up to the Spring Stake conference. The talks and testimonies were so good. The area authority from Gilbert, Arizona liked to call people to bear their testimonies extemporaneously. It was a wonderful experience. The stake choir did a good job.

This afternoon we (seniors) gathered at the Stringfellow's apartment for dinner. She had cooked a turkey and we each were assigned a dish. It was very tasty especially since we (Walkers) pretty much have apples, crackers and cheese for Sunday lunch! We had a nice visit.

It has been another week full of activity and testimony building experiences. We are so thankful to be here and serving together. We love our mission and the great missionaries we serve with. We become very close to the young missionaries and the seniors and we truely feel that we must of known each other in the pre-existence and we are thankful to meet again.

We are so thankful for our children and their spouses and the great adults they have become. One of the speakers at the stake conference said that as a parent he wanted his children to be obedient and good. He discovered later that what he really wanted was for his children to want to be obedient and good. How true that is. Our family is our greatest treasure.

Have a great safe week. You are always in our prayers.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, October 31, 2010

64th Post Monday Oct 25 - Sun Oct 31, 2010

Can the weeks go by any faster? Monday and a new week already. Today was Sister Marsh's first day in the office. Sister Young will be training her all week. Busy with office duties and missionaries coming and going all day. This evening for FHE we did a BBQ at the office on the back patio. We had burgers and hot dogs, salad, chips, soda, cake and ice cream. Pres & Sister Hansen were there and Sister Marsh's granddaughter, Crystal. It was a bit windy but a very enjoyable evening. We sat out on the lawn just visiting until after dark. What a good group of folks to be associated with.

Tuesday I started the next round of apartment inspections and completed 13 apartments today. There were several of the missionaries that I collect stuff from. Some of which will go in the garage but most will go to the dumpster. We worked at the office until 6 or so this evening. As we were eating supper a loud knock came at the door. I answered the door and it was Sister Peggy Jo Young (employment). She had just had her purse stolen and she was knocked to the ground not 50 paces from our front door. Of course she was very shaken up. The young man was long gone of course. We got her back to her apartment and called the police and I went over and got the apartment security man (who is a Houston police officer). The local officers responded very quickly. It was a blessing Sister Young was not hurt or worse, she did scrape her knee up a bit. We will all be more observant from now on.

Wednesday morning I headed for Conroe, Huntsville and Montgomery to inspect apartments. We have not had rain for weeks and the country side is sure dry. The apartments looked good for the most part. We got a new sister missionary in this afternoon. She is from the SLC Temple Square Mission. Those missionaries (all sisters) are transferred out to the "field" for about 12 weeks so they can have at least some normal proselyting experience. Sister Radin is from the Philippines and will be with us until Jan 19.

Thursday Sister Walker went with me to College Station. We had a very pleasant drive. After inspecting the apartments we met Elders Hiatt & Thomson and their companions for lunch at a restaurant across the street from the Texas A&M campus. It was good to visit with them, they enjoy their work more than being in the office I am sure. After lunch we drove down to Brenam and Waller, both places are out in the sticks, to check apartments there.

Friday I was out checking apartment again. There was one apartment that looked like a laundry hit by a tornado, clothes all over the place. I met with three different apartment managers today. One place had notified us that the rent was going up $50 a month when we sign the new lease. When I walked through the front door the manager said, "Elder Walker how you doing today?" I was surprised he remembered me as I have not had many dealings with him. I told him we would not be signing a new lease if the rent was going to increase that much, in fact most places the rent remains the same or goes down a few dollars. He told me they enjoyed having the "boys" as tenants and that the new rent would be the same as the previous rent. Some times you just have to play hard ball. Another apartment complex is going to move our sisters to a newly refurbished apartment as their old apartment smells of smoke.
Sister Young left to go home this morning. Two of her sons from SLC drove a truck and trailer down to load up her car and drive her back home. We will miss Sister Betty Jo Young a lot. She is a wonderful person.

Saturday morning was just beautiful, cool and warm sun. We got some P-day jobs done and then drove down town. We went to the Natural History Museum to see the iMax movie, Hubble 3D. It was very good. It sure makes us understand better that Heavenly Father has created worlds without number. Hubble can look at parts of space that was previously thought to be void, but it turns out there are billions of galaxies. We went over to visit with the Senior Sisters for a while this evening. Sister Marsh left our place Friday and moved in to Sister B. Young's bedroom.

Sunday we had the missionaries over after church for dinner. It is always good to be with the young elders. The four of them seemed to enjoy what Leona had prepared for them - they can eat a bunch.
If you get the Church News look at the October 16th publication. We know three people in it! On page 6, the picture of the three young adults - Elder Dashdorj just left our mission in August to attend BYU. He was a good missionary and has not seen his family for quite awhile and will not be seeing them for who knows how long. His folks live in Korea and his only sibling, a sister lives in Hong Kong. Picture on page 12 - the tallest white haired man in the back and his wife, she has dark hair, and is standing between two men in the back on the left hand side of the photo. Anyway that couple is from Snowflake, Arizona and they were in the MTC with us and went to Vietnam on a humanitarian mission. They had an interesting story, this was their second mission and they entered the MTC on July 20th. I believe they received their call about June 20th so they had one month to prepare. While visiting with them they were worried about their visa arriving so they could leave on schedule. The day before they were to leave the MTC they were notified that their papers were in order and the visa had been obtained. I just remember this sister, with tears in her eyes saying, the Lord knew what papers we were in need of, miracles really do happen! It was exciting for us to see their picture. What a grand experience they are having I am sure.
Another great week. We are so thankful to be here; what a blessing this is for us.
We love you. Our prayers are with you. Have a wonderful week.
Mom and Dad

Saturday, October 23, 2010

63rd Post Monday Oct 18 - Sunday Oct 24,2010

When we got to the office Monday the Internet was down so we could not get on iMOS (the Church's missionary system). Elder Stringfellow made a few phone calls to Salt Lake and to AT&T. The best guess was the modem was fried so off to BEST BUY we went to find a modem. It took awhile to get the new modem to work, but finally we got the system going. Several missionaries in and out today. The new AP, Elder Galbraith was in and will do well (his grandfather is the new Kyiv Temple Pres). The senior missionaries met this evening at the Sister's apartment for FHE. Elder Stringfellow had the lesson. We reviewed Bishop Edgley's conference talk on faith. We really have a wonderful time together.

Tuesday our day started just after 7 in the office. The van and trailer were about loaded ready to start transfers to College Station and points along the way. One poor sister was late getting to the office and came with all her stuff in the trunk of the car and the back seat, most of which was not packed. It took her about 45 minutes to get loaded up and ready. I play traffic cop during the early part of the morning, trying to keep the mission cars from blocking the drive way and road. Most missionaries just do not think about "abandoning" their cars any place and soon there is a mess. Anyway we got the cars sorted out and the "transfer bus" (van and trailer) on their way. I made the Katy transfer run this afternoon. It is like a boy scout camp out! "Elders do you have your bikes, luggage, backpacks, boxes, etc, loaded and ready???" "Oh yes Elder Walker we are ready". I get to the Bear Creek Church area and the first young Elders after I open the trailer door say "where is my bike?"another says "where is by backpack?" Those who know me well know what "helpful advice" I then provide. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Elder Thomson one of the AP's was transferred to College Station for his last 6 weeks of his mission. We will miss him
Leona and I set up for the departing missionary dinner at the temple cafeteria this evening. After we ate we were visiting with Pres. Hansen when he told us of an interesting experience he had on Saturday. As mentioned in last weeks blog Elder Jensen of the 70 attended the Klein Stake Conference. He asked Pres Hansen to take 25 minutes at the Saturday priesthood leadership meeting. As Pres. Hansen thought about what would be the best thing to review he thought of the simplified Preach My Gospel curriculum, and to have two Elders practice teach the principles for the leadership group. He thought I could have the AP's do it or the Zone Leaders, but instead he called the Klein Zone Leaders and asked them to pray and then call him who they would suggest. They called back the next day with their answer. The two elders they suggested were good missionaries, but were not the dynamic, out going elders, or even the "best teachers". In fact one of them had just returned to the field after being with us in the office for 6 weeks. But Pres Hansen thought I asked for recommendations so I need to take that recommendation and follow up. He called the two elders and told them to meet him at the church 1 hour before the meeting so they could practice teach the practice teaching. At the appointed time the President got a call. The member who was to pick up the elders never did show up - now what?? Well just as the meeting started the elders got there. Pres. Hansen thinking the whole time - here are 250 priesthood leaders and two timid missionaries - this is going to be a "train wreck". When the time was turned to Pres. Hansen he had a few introductory remarks and then ask for two volunteers to be "investigators" for the elders. Two hands in the back shot up and Pres. Hansen said come on down. When the audience saw who one of the volunteers was there was a collective sigh in the group. He came "swaggering" up the aisle, ready to do battle with the Pres Hansen described it. Then as he sat down and when Elder Martin got to the part of Joseph's first vision...."I saw a pillar of light"...... Pres Hansen said there was a feeling of profound reverence and spirit that filled that room like nothing he had experienced before. As the missionaries proceeded to bear their testimonies Pres Hansen said the "investigator" who started out as less than golden had tears running down his cheeks as did the other investigator and about half the audience. When Elder Martin paused and asked "how do you feel" it took the man well over a minute to compose himself enough to respond. The missionaries had taught just the way Elder Kikuchi had taught us 6 weeks ago when he was here. When Elder Jensen stood up after the demonstration, Pres Hansen said, he said, "I have been in hundreds of stake priesthood leadership meetings around the church and never felt the spirit any stronger than he did at that meeting". The young elders had done just what the Lord has asked them to do.....Teach with the spirit. Pres Hansen said those in the meeting were truly taught by the spirit by the weak and simple things of God. We are so blessed to be associated with good missionaries.

Wednesday was Michael's birthday, Happy Birthday to you, we are thankful for you. We had 7 new elders (no sisters this time) arrive today. The office staff does a brief orientation for them about what we do in the office and how we can help. We cooked the bacon this evening for breakfast tomorrow and gathered up all the other stuff we need for in the morning.

Thursday morning we got up just after 5 to get ready and load up the car. We do the breakfast at the mission home for the new elders and their trainers. It is a great thing to watch that whole process as Pres Hansen announces who the new companionships will be. What a neat thing that is. We take pictures of the new elders and Pres & Sister Hansen to send to their parents, also do group shots, clean up, load up and head back to the office. The new companionship's, APs and President and Sister Hansen go to the temple. What a blessing to have the temple right in our mission. I worked on the new photos for the transfer board and photo board. This afternoon the APs asked me to take 2 elders to the Bear Creek Chapel to catch their ride to Sealy which I did. I picked up an elder at Bear Creek and took him up to College Station (this was a last minute change to the transfers earlier in the week). Elder Farnsworth and I had a nice visit all the way to College Station. It sure was dry along the side of the road - we have not had rain for several weeks now. I did not get back to the office until 6pm. We are so blessed to be able to do what we do.
Friday in our staff meeting Pres. Hansen asked us to remember Sister Stringfellow in our prayers. She has had a rough couple of days and nights. She thinks it is her MS that is acting up. Pres Hansen gave her a blessing after the meeting. What a wonderful blessing he gave her. Worked on updating the various spreadsheets with the changed companionship's the rest of the day. Helped the APs with some maps as they do not know their way around this part of Houston very well. The mission GPS was stolen out of the truck last Saturday so maps will have to do for now. We went out with the Senior sisters for dinner this evening. We enjoy being with each other and visiting. Another great day in the mission field.

Saturday we did our shopping, cleaning and just stayed close to home. We walked over and fed the ducks, turtles, fish and the swan. That is always fun.

Sunday we enjoyed our time at church. Its seems I get so much more out of sacrament meeting when I really listen and concentrate on the sacrament prayers and the atonement. We are so blessed to have the fullness of the gospel. Where would we be without it?
Sister Marsh arrived this afternoon. She will replace Sister Young in the office. It turns out the Marsh's were in Saudi Arabia, in Al-Kohbar, the same time we were there. Her husband was on the High Council the same time I was, maybe I will remember him when I see a picture.
We love you all and are thankful for all your support and prayers.
Love Mom & Dad

Sunday, October 17, 2010

62nd Post Monday Oct 11 - Sunday Oct 17, 2010

Another Monday and another wonderful week we get to be full time missionaries. What blessings we enjoy. I ran some errands today, including signing a couple of leases, which should do it for this month. There is always lots of follow up when I sign a lease renewal. There are several spreadsheets that I use for various purposes and so data from the lease is put in several of those spreadsheets. Not so many missionaries came into the office on their P-day, at least not all at the same time. We enjoyed our FHE with the other senior missionaries this evening. Sister P. Young taught the lesson on the Plan of Salvation from Preach My Gospel. We enjoy being together and always have a good discussion.

Tuesday Elder Stringfellow went with me to deliver a package to the South mission. I introduced him to the Dunnings (from American Fork), and the Rogers (from Highland), who are the office couples for their mission. On the way back to our office I dropped Elder Stringfellow off at a car repair shop to pick up one of our mission cars that needed repaired after a deer ran into the side of the car - only about $6000 worth of damage, but the deer paid the ultimate price. When I got back to the office I hooked up the trailer and headed up to Tomball; two Elders were moving from Tomball, back to Magnolia. I took the 4 elders out to lunch following the move which they really enjoy. This evening we had Elders Lindsay, Struthers, Smith and L. Hansen over for supper. They live in the apartment complex next to ours. Their lesson on Abinadi was a good reminder to do what we are asked by the Lord to do regardless of the consequences - He will always bless us in the way we need.

Wednesday Sisters Maylett and Donkin came into the office for some supplies. I arranged to meet them back at their apartment with the desk that I had repaired. They were happy to get it back, but were surprised that I was able to salvage it (the elders had dropped it when we moved last week). Leona went with me and we took the Sisters out to lunch as it was Sister Maylet's birthday. While at their apartment they said their vacuum was broken. So I checked it out, replaced the broken belt and it worked like a charm. They are very good missionaries and we enjoyed our time with them. More office work this afternoon. I also got tired of the yard tool mess in the garage, so I went over to the peanut butter factory construction project, salvaged a 2X6 and mounted it to the garage wall and hung the yard tools up. The days go by so fast, as we stay busy doing our "missionary work".

Thursday I drove down to the apartment complex that we moved sisters out off last week. The lease is not up, so we continue to pay. I met with the apartment manager and talked her into doing a walk through of the apartment (the sisters did a really great job of cleaning out the apartment) and in letting me turn in the keys. Normally they will not do either of those things until the lease is complete, but that is not until Dec. 31. Anyway it worked out better than I expected. The rest of the afternoon was spent getting office supplies, picking up another repaired mission car, printing tabs for new missionary binders and working on photos of missionaries that arrive in February. The weather sure has been nice, with little humidity the highs of 85 are not so bad and the evening are very pleasant.

Friday we had our staff meeting with President and Sister Hansen, the AP's and the office staff. Pres Hansen always brings such a good spirit to our meetings with his words and actions. He talked about being lost and the feelings of fear and anxiety that you have. He talked about the miners in Chile who were rescured this week after being trapped for more than two months. What great reunions they had with loved ones! The whole world has rejoiced with them. He then told us we were on a rescue, bringing the eternal blessings of the gospel to others who are searching. It was a great thought - lots to think about and apply. I believe it was President Monson who stood in a meeting with the Seventy and his talk was simply "Who have you rescued today?" and then sat down. We should always be mindful of others and the examples we are setting of love and service for we are all missionaries.
I drove the Stringfellows and Sister Walker down by the 290 & Beltway 8 area to a Chevy dealer to pick up three new mission cars. I then drove over to an apartment complex that had sent us a "2nd Overdue Notice". As soon as the young apartment manager saw me walk in he said "I knew you would come", but do not worry it was our mistake that the utility bills did not get sent out" (we had not got the 1st overdue notice!). Anyway it is nice to know that they know the church always pays the bills and that they could "bank" on that.
Sisters Billingsley and B. Young wanted to go out to dinner this evening so we took them out to the "Potato Patch". It is a good place for "home cooked" meals and hot rolls. We enjoyed the evening with them.

Saturday we loaded up the van with us, the Stringfellows and Sisters, Billingsley and B. Young and drove down to Traders Village. It has to be one of the biggest "flea markets" in permanent buildings ever. It was fun to see all the people looking for bargains and stuff you just can not live without! I did get a Texas cowboy hat to cover my poor balding head. Then we drove to the El Taqueria Rey for the best fish tacos in town (love that place). Then off to the big farmers market on Airline road. We got a couple of pumpkins for the metal "spider - pumpkin holders" Christine sent us. They look real nice in our apartment. After getting our fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc and all the fun of seeing the various "south of the border" stuff we drove up to the Flying Saucer Pie company. I enjoy the pie place way too much! We enjoyed our day together. I was able to get us from one place to the other without a GPS or looking at the map. I guess I am getting to know my way around (so what are you waiting for - come and visit us).

Sunday the senior missionaries in our apartment complex went to the Klein Stake conference. Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy was presiding. What a wonderful meeting it was. The stake choir was very good. The 9 year old girl and priest age boy who spoke really did an excellent job. The young girl spoke for several minutes with no notes. Sister Jensen spoke about not judging others. She told about a man who had bought a home near theirs. She said it was a lovely home and he was a paraplegic (wounded in Vietnam). Anyway, she began to judge and say things about him like - why did he need to play his music so loud? Why did he fence his front yard and move his horses to the front yard instead of keeping them in the back? Why was there always alot of people going and coming all the time and they did not look the best? Anyway, time went on and one day as the Jensen family had gathered for a Thanksgiving dinner she received a phone call from the Bishop asking her if she would check on this neighbor because he had no food and needed help. She fixed a plate of dinner and delivered it to him. As she visited with him she asked what he did all day to occupy his time and he explained he loved to listen to music and he hoped that he wasn't disturbing anyone for he loved to hear it throughout his home. He explained how he loved to watch his horses and since he had a better view out the front windows of his home that is why he had put up the fence and moved them to the front. He said that it was hard for him to find and keep good help and some of the people who came to help him didn't look the very best. By the time Sister Jensen left she was humbled by how she had been wrongfully judging her neighbor. It was a reminder for us not to judge others. Elder Jensen told us to be careful to not let our testimonies grow weak, we will need them to be strong. He said there will be those who will try to shake our faith. He said he knows what he knows by 1)observing ("by their fruits ye shall know them), by 2)experiencing (live it and then you will know it - ie word of wisdom, etc), and by 3) knowing (by the Holy Ghost). What a blessing we have to know the truth and the promised blessing that may be ours. The Church is true, I know it is. May we ever be faithful to what we know, by how we act and what we do.
Have a great week. We love you.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, October 10, 2010

61st Post Monday Oct 4 - Sunday Oct 10, 2010

Monday the office was full of missionaries. It seems the past month or so there have been more and more missionaries in the office on their P-day. It was very loud today, even had sisters in the bathroom doing hair. Hard to get a lot done, always someone wanting something. This evening the Thomas' took us out to dinner before our FHE. All the senior missionaries in our apartment complex plus the Thomas got together at our apartment for FHE. Elder Thomas gave the lesson on getting to know the 15 living apostles. It was a fun exercise. It is Jenette's birthday today, 9 years old already. She is sure a sweet girl.

Tuesday I took the truck and trailer down to move Sisters Maylett and Donkin. They had 4 elders and two other sisters there to help. The move went well. We got all their stuff moved over to their new apartment complex. Their new apartment is right below one of our apartments where 3 sisters live. They all seemed real excited. I took all the "movers" to lunch after we finished. They really like that.
Leona received the TriEagle (electricity) bill today. It is a consolidated bill for alot of the apartments in the mission. It was about $6,200. She spent most of the afternoon reviewing and comparing each apt. usage from last month to this month. She then began making phone calls reminding missionaries not to leave lights, fans and AC on when they are not at home. Some do very well but others need to improve. One of our two bedroom apartments' bill has been over $300 the past two months.
It is sewing night so Leona went over to the senior sister's apartment and I stayed home to work on a talk for tomorrow. Pres. Hansen asked me to take 20 minutes in Zone Leaders Council tomorrow. It is Spencer's birthday today - 6 years old! He has been looking forward to his birthday for a long time; lots of cake and ice cream at the Pratt home this week.

Wednesday, I took Leona into work early and I drove on out to the Glen Loch Farms building for Zone Leaders Council. I enjoy being with the missionaries. President Hansen was very complimentary about my remarks as were many of the missionaries. I left during one of the breaks to go back to the office as Leona was there by herself. Another wonderful day to be a full time missionary - how blessed we are. It is Donnie Johnson's birthday today and NOW he is older than I am! We had a nice visit with him and Linda. Good friends are such a blessing!

Thursday morning I updated apartment files. There are several bits of information on several different spreadsheets (leasing info, missionary companionship's, utility info, etc). I am sure there is a better system, but this is the one I inherited, and so far it works for me. I went back to the apartment at lunch time and changed into my "working" cloths. The elders dropped one of the desks during the move on Tuesday and broke it up pretty bad. I reattached the leg panels and reinforced them to the top and to each other. When I got through it was very sturdy and secure. Leona had me go get some contact paper and we put that on the desk top. It turned out well, all things considered. I worked on the desk in the shade of the big oak trees by the mission office garage - very pleasant.

Friday I went to Wal Mart to get more cleaning supplies for the missionaries. Worked on incoming missionaries photos for the tracking sheets, tracking board, and office photo board. Sister Young, the mission president's secretary, goes home in about three weeks and Sister Marsh, from Nebraska, will be coming as her replacement. We look forward to meeting her.
The senior missionaries all went out to dinner this evening - we do like to eat and to visit.

Saturday Elder Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy held a meeting for the missionaries in the three Houston Missions at the Hafer building. We invited the Dunnings and the Rogers from the Houston South Mission to eat lunch with us before the meeting. Elder Rogers had polo as a child, but seemed there were no bad effects in his youth. However the past few years it has returned and he is very bent over and has to walk with a cane. It is hard for him to get around but get around he does to get his mission office work done. He is a real inspiration.

Elder Costa had all the missionaries come up and shake his hand (Elder Gifford Nielson, an Area 70 was also there - yes the BYU quarterback). It was a great experience and wonderful meeting. We got to see Elder Braithwaite, Anna Timothy's son, at the meeting. This evening we had Elders Thomson, Anderson, Sorenson, and Austin over for dinner. Elder Sorenson came out the first transfer after we got to the office and Elder Austin came out the very next transfer. All good missionaries, such a joy to be associated with them.
Today we went to the Westfield Ward. One of our missionaries, Elder Logan Hansen, was speaking and he invited us to attend. He is a great missionary and will be going home next transfer. We will miss him. We get real close to the missionaries and it is hard for us when they leave to return home. The time is passing so quickly, the weeks just fly by.
We are so thankful to be here and we are loving every minute; this is truely a dream come true for us. We have such good neighbors and dear friends who are caring for our home and we are so thankful for their love and service.
Thank you for your prayers and love and support.
We love ya'll. Have a great week,
Dad and Mom

Sunday, October 3, 2010

60th Post Monday Sept. 27 - Sunday Oct. 3, 2010

Monday I spent time following up on possible apartment options for the Gulf Bank sisters who we have moved out of their current apartment. There are just not many choices in their area. All the nice "looking" apartments do not do corporate leases (low income). But not to worry things always work out. We had Elder and Sister Thomas come to our place for dinner this evening as they live down town (employment missionaries). The senior missionaries all got together at the Stringfellow's apartment for FHE. We had a good lesson on the doctrine of Christ as found in 2 Nephi 31 and in Preach my Gospel. We enjoyed a good discussion. It is wonderful to be associated with such good folks.
We woke up this morning to 50 degree temperatures and a very pleasant breeze. I hope we have seen the last of the 90's for awhile.

Tuesday I went apartment inspecting, the last inspections for this transfer cycle. The apartments were in good shape, but I'm sure it had nothing to do with Sister Walker giving the missionaries a phone call. I worked on the paper work for the new apartment we are going to move the sisters into next week. We currently have sister missionaries in the same complex. When I got all the information ready and made a recommendation to President Hansen he discussed the options with me and agreed that we should proceed as recommended. When I called the apartment complex to check on availablity they had an apartment right next the two sisters who are living there now. Things just always work out. Tuesday is sewing night for the sisters so Leona went over to the senior sisters apartment to work on one of her projects.

Wednesday I drove up to the Woodlands to sign a lease renewal with one of our apartment complexes in that area. I spent the rest of the day working on apartment paper work, electrical hook ups, etc. We are so thankful that we can do what we are asked to do. What a blessing to be performing this labor at this time and place.

Thursday morning I took the truck and trailer down to some elders to move them to a new apartment in the same complex. If we have been in the same apartment for a few years I always try to get the managers to "up grade" the apartment or to move us to a new upgraded apartment. The elders were excited to get into a place with clean carpet, freshly painted walls and completely cleaned or new appliances. For some elders cleaning an oven is still one of the kingdoms great mysteries. The missionaries had lined up two other companionship's to help. We have four ASL elders in the area so they came. Three are hearing or partial hearing and one is completely deaf. They worked so well together. The move went well. It was noon when they finished so I asked about their schedules, to which they all replied that they had "lunch" appointments - except one companionship. I had offered to take them all to lunch, but when they said they had appointments I just went to the truck to leave. The one ASL elder (new to the field about two weeks) could see I was about to leave so he came to the window and said is the lunch offer still good if just two of us go? I said of course and off we went to get some lunch. His senior companion is the deaf elder. It was an inspiration to watch them as they"talked" about what to order and how they treated each other. Good missionaries. I got a call this afternoon from a couple of elders in College Station. Their apartment had been broken into between about 1 pm and 3 pm. They had called Pres Hansen and the police. The police were there while they were talking to me. The front door had been broken in and their i pod and CD player were taken. They had also taken one elders temple suitcase, dumped all his temple clothes on the floor, but his recommend was in his bag. Pres Hansen called the temple on that issue. Never a dull moment in the mission field. So thankful the missionaries were not home during the break in and no one was hurt.

We sure had fun during our exercise time this morning. We've been going over to the work out room for the past few weeks. This morning I managed to lock us in and we could not get out. Not many people walking around between 5:30 and 6 AM; we were quite a sight peering out the class window into the dark trying to see someone that might be leaving their apartment. We finally attracted the attention of a woman leaving her apartment on the other side of the swimming pool by banging and tapping our keys against the window. She came and opened the door for us. How do you have a door that can be opened from the outside but not the inside? Anyway the apartment complex put another new door knob on the door today!

Friday we went into the office to attend staff meeting. As we were walking down the hall to the President's office I heard President Hansen ask Leona to give the spiritual thought. I did not dare turn around because I do not like to see terror on her face. But as usual she did a wonderful job. We left to go to the cancer center for my last BCG treatment for this 6 month cycle. Friday night was real tough. I did not sleep at all, up every 10 to 15 minutes. A very long night.

Saturday we watched conference and enjoyed so much what was said. It was hard for me to stay awake or to stay in by the computer. We were invited over to the Stringfellows for dinner with the senior sisters. We had a wonderful dinner and visit together. I thought I had best try to go to the priesthood session, so I took Elder Stringfellow with me. It was a real blessing to be able to sit for two hours. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading those wonderful messages next month. President Uchtdorf's message was just for me.

Sunday I feel so much better, sleep is a wonderful thing. Did you enjoy today's sessions of conference? The talks were wonderful and what I needed to here. What came to me however, where the words of the hymns. The music is always good, but for some reason the words struck me as never before.

We love you and are proud of each one of your families ( I can now say the word proud after Pres. Uchtdorf's priesthood talk). Keep up the good work, follow the prophet, and listen for the Spirit in your life.
Love, Mom & Dad