Saturday, January 30, 2010

25th Post Monday Jan. 25 - Sunday Jan. 31, 2010

It was busy at the Hafer Road Office today. There were several who came in while the Sister's were at lunch, so we were able to help them get registered on the new web site. The center has 6 computers that are available for candidates to use. We just had the three who came in together sit down next to each other and we started the process to get them registered. There was one member, one non-member and a ward employment specialist. So each one was just a bit different. Very cool running this morning, in the low 40's.

Tuesday was a slow day no one came into the Bering center. Alex did not come in this morning as he as back to the Broadway center training the new church service missionary. That means we go in at 8 AM and leave at 5 PM, instead of 12 to 9 PM. We phoned and emailed our candidates with job postings and just trying to stay in touch. Beautiful day with lots of sun shine.

Wednesday we had planned a Career Workshop and had invited 14 people to come. Three or four contacted us at least, but no one showed for the class. It was another slow day with no one coming into the center. We did find out that two of our candidates have full time jobs this week, so that was very good news.

Thursday we went into the Broadway center about an hour late as Alex has our keys and he called and said he would be late. Sister Rios, our new church service missionary was not able to make it today either. Again no one showed up today. Sure makes the days long. We keep busy with our phone calls and emails to candidates.

Friday it rained hard during the night and most of the morning so we decided not to run. There were a few of our candidates who will contact us but not very many. Another day with no one coming into the center. The first week that I can remember when no one at all came into the center (Bering and Broadway). We had the senior sisters who live in this apartment complex over for dinner this evening. It was fun to visit and get to know them better. We even played a game of Ticket to Ride. They really seemed to enjoy that. The dermatologist called this evening and the lab results on the five spots that were removed last week - all was fine. We have been so blessed.

Today, Saturday, was Susan Taber's funeral. We sure have been thinking about her and Doug and their family over these past several weeks. As we returned home from work last night and went to get our mail, Doug had sent us a program of Susan's services for today. It was another "tender mercy" from heaven because we were wishing that we could be there and Doug, bless his heart, had sent us a program. What a great lady she was, an example of motherhood and service to all. She will be dearly missed. Our lives have truly been touched by her friendship and good example.

Saturday is our washing, cleaning and shopping day. It really turned cold and windy yesterday afternoon and all day today. It did not get out of the mid 40's. We made a fast trip to Costco, purchased three items and had a great time sampling their samples! We took down Christmas cards that have been on our dining room wall, sorted paper work and tried to get a bit more organized in that area.

Today, Sunday, we visited the Copperfield Ward. They have a new building, in fact it was dedicated last October. We enjoyed all of their meetings. The Sacrament Meeting talks were good, there were a lot of good thoughts on the subject of service. We spent some time with the ward employment specialist in the clerk's office on the computer. He was having trouble and unfortunately we couldn't answer all of his questions but we told him that we will get answers tomorrow from the employment manager. He is excited about his calling and wants to help the people in his ward.

We have had a good week. We are loving our time serving together. We are so thankful to be missionaries, for this great blessing in our lives. We love each of you. We have the best children(our daughters-in-law and sons-in-law are our children too) and grandchildren in the world!! Thank you for your prayers and support.
Love Mom & Dad

Saturday, January 23, 2010

24th Post Mon. Jan. 18 - Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010

What a difference a week makes. Last week it was cool and this week it has been in the 70's & 80's. We had Monday off as it was MLK day. We met the other senior missionaries up at the mission office and we all road out to Brenham, which is about 1 1/2 hours northwest of us. Brenham is the home of Blue Bell ice cream. Texans say it is the best ice cream and I have to say it is very good. The factory tour was very good, we got to see a lot of the operation, even ice cream sandwich making. They give you a cup of their ice cream (your choice of flavor) at the end of the tour. It was very interesting and I have to say a whole lot better than the Ben and Jerry's factory tour. The drive there and back was interesting as we were out in the country side most of the time. We also stopped at Washington which is where Texas first declared independence from Mexico. It was fun to be with the other missionaries and to visit as we travel (not unlike our 15 passenger van trips). When we got back to the mission office to get our car we decided to drive over to where the office missionaries live. We maybe should not have done that. Their apartments are not "missionary apartments" like ours is - for sure! But we have all that we need.

Tuesday we went into the Bering office at 8 AM as Alex was at the Broadway building training a new church service missionary. We spent the day calling and emailing those who have registered on line on the new employment website. We also made a new list for next weeks career workshop and invited those folks.

Wednesday we were back to the Bering office. We called one of our engineer candidates and he has found a full time job so we were both very happy about that. A fellow came in today that has been on the list even before we got here. He has a learning issue of some type, but is taking a class or two at the community college and working at a fast food place. I think he just wanted to talk to someone, so we talked for over an hour. He rode the bus and then walked to the church in the rain to see us. He was not what we expected from talking to him on the phone. I enjoyed my time with him - a very pleasant soul. We drove up to the temple this evening. The traffic was not bad at all. We enjoyed the drive and the session. It is a blessing to have a temple this close to us. Melissa called and told us Susan Taber died this morning. What a great soul she was. We will miss seeing and visiting with her. We always enjoyed her talks in sacrament meeting, her messages were always good. The thought came to us tonight that Michael, Christine, Jessica and David were priviledged to be involved in the Christmas orchestra that Susan did for years. It was a Newark Ward tradition. She will be missed.

Thursday and we were at the Broadway building. Alex was suppose to come and continue training the new church service missionary today, but he called and could not make it. He asked me to help Sister Rios with a few things. We went over the new web site and how to help people register and other follow up details. Sister Rios only can work mornings, but she will really be a great help to us. We had a young lady come in this afternoon. The missionaries are teaching her uncle and they told her about the church employment center. She is originally from Columbia, but has been in this country for most of her life. Her English is very good and she has good computer skills. We spent some time showing her the church employment website and getting her registered. Hopefully she will come back. She is a very nice person - seemed very young to have two children.

For Christmas Steven gave me some cash ($5 bills) that we just keep in the car. We see so many poor people with signs and cups asking for money at intersections and I always say "I wish we had some cash" so that is what I got for Christmas - cash for the poor. Well, this morning (Friday) on our way to Bering at an intersection there was an older black man needing help so when Steven put his window down and we handed him the money he was so appreciative. We were in missionary clothes so he asked Steven if he was a preacher and he answered that we were missionaries. He said "may God bless you and please pray for me" the light turned green and we started to leave and again he asked "please pray for me, my name is Tony". There are so many good people who are struggling - we pray for all the "Tonys" in the world.
We had a young sister and her husband come into the Bering building today. She is originally from Sri Lanka. She has been a member her whole life, attended BYU-H and Provo. She graduated in computer science, but has had a hard time finding work. We spent a lot of time going over her resume and suggesting how it could be improved (a lot). Also talked about interview skills, net working and on line job searching. I suggested she attend the career workshop, but she said she did not need another class, she needed a job. Well, that took another while to explain how the class would help, I mean how successful have you been to this point! Anyway it was a good day to be a missionary. This afternoon I went back to the skinner (dermatologist) to have some more hide removed. All went well and I am really thankful for the care and treatment I am receiving. The spots he removed last time were all fine except one that was a minor question. I go back next month for another round.

Saturday morning we wrote letters to grandkids, activity day girls and a youth SS class back home. We were invited over to the senior sisters apartment here in Colony Oaks, for lunch and get together with the senior couples from the Houston South Mission. We had a good time with them. So many stories of faith on how they got on their missions. It really makes us thankful to be serving at this time.
We attended the Westlake Ward this morning. It is about 20 miles west and north of us. It is a smaller church building but the ward about fills the place up with seating into the culture hall. Very friendly ward, they really made us feel at home. They introduced us in sacrament meeting and gave me a few minutes in priesthood meeting to tell about our mission and what we are doing. The ward employment specialist was at our last training meeting at Hafer Road office. He seems to be on the ball and has had conversations with the two people on our list from his ward. We also met Chris Atkin (Elder Atkin) who was a missionary in the Newark ward back in President Fillmore's day. He also was the one who taught Devorn Harris. It was fun to catch up with him and his family (wife and one son). The Sunday School and priesthood lesson were very good and we enjoyed sacrament meeting. Seems like a really nice ward. The weather is in the high 60's with no humidity so it is really nice today.

We continue to be very blessed to be missionaries at this time. We enjoy our mission very much and feel we are guided and blessed every day.
We love you and thanks for your prayers!
Love Dad & Mom

Saturday, January 16, 2010

23rd Post Mon. Jan11 - Sun. Jan.17, 2010

Monday and another new week already. It was well below freezing this morning as all the little puddles of water were frozen along our jogging route. We enjoy going to the Hafer Road office on Mondays as we get to visit with the other Senior Missionaries and the young missionaries who come in on their p-day to use the center's computers to email home. We got an email today from a fellow who took our career workshop back in September. He starts his new job next week. He thanks us for our help, that really made our day!

Tuesday we got an email from another fellow who took the same career workshop as the fellow who emailed on Monday. Anyway he also has found work (a job lead we sent him) and he starts next week. He was so grateful. It was really a neat thing that two candidates who "graduated" from the career workshop on the same day found work just one day apart. What a great feeling to think we might have been of help to someone. The Lord has blessed us so much. We found out that Aramco (oil company in Arabia that I use to work for) will be in town interviewing people for work in Saudi Arabia. We emailed our process engineer with the information and he sent back a note that he had already signed up, so I was glad he had heard about the opportunity. I had told him some months ago about our experience in Arabia and about Aramco. We found two more of our candidates who have full time work, hurrah! One of our west Africa candidates came in this evening. She needed help filling out applications on line. We also found a couple of jobs leads she was going to check out. Many of the on line job applications are a real pain to complete, so I see why so many candidates "give up".

Today, Wednesday, we went through all our candidates who registered on the new employment website and checked their profiles. So many have not completed or even started their profiles so it is impossible for potential employers to know or for us to know what type of employment they are looking for. We had a lady contact us who was trying to post a job on the website. That was interesting to go through that process with her. We also had a couple from west Africa come into the center. She needed a bit of help on her resume. After we worked on the resume we went on line to help them see how to find jobs on various websites. They have apparently been in the system for many years, so we hope they find work that is more permanent. It was warm - very nice and sunny today.

They have called a new church service missionary to help us in the Broadway building. She speaks Spanish and has her own tax service business (Sister Rios). Alex and Steve came to the Broadway building today to train her. She will be a wonderful help to those Spanish speaking job seekers. In fact while they were doing their training a member came in who spoke very little English and could not read or write Spanish very well. It was great to have Alex and Sister Rios there to help. We had stake and ward employment specialist training this evening up at the Hafer Road office. I do the new employment specialist training and Alex does the training for those who have been through the initial training. It makes for a very long day but the folks who attend seem to appreciate and get a lot out of the training so it makes it all worth it.

Friday it rained most of the day as it did yesterday. No one came into the Bering building today so we spent the day phoning and emailing our candidates who need to complete their online profiles. Before the new online registration process started, we would be able to meet the folks when they came in and could determine their employment needs at that time. However, with this new system we do not typically meet them and unless they call us back or email us we have no face to face time with them (which makes helping them a bit tough). We tried to send a job lead that we found to the couple that came to the Bering Building on Wednesday only to find that their phone (number they left with us) has been disconnected! Sometime we get a little frustrated with our candidates but we love them and want to help so we send emails (when they have a computer) and hopefully we will hear back from them.

We cleaned and did the laundry today (Saturday). Leona washed a couple rugs and used a different dryer than she had used earlier in the afternoon. When she removed them from the dryer she discovered someone's pen and the rugs were covered with ink. Thank goodness it wasn't our clothes! Our outing for P-day was to Costco to look at stuff and taste their samples! We only needed to buy a few things.

We attended the Baytown 1st ward, which was our third time for attending that ward. Steve Stotts, our employment manager, serves on the high council in his stake and he invited Leona and I to speak in sacrament meeting. We were thankful twice for that assignment, thankful to be asked and thankful it is over. We enjoyed the rest of the Sunday meetings - the lessons were good. We talked to two of our candidates that live in Baytown. They are both still looking for work. We were again able to shake hands with Elder Braithwaite. We met him the last time we were there, his mother and sister live in our ward in Newark. It is a beautiful sunny day , but still cool.
We have had another wonderful week and are so thankful that we can serve as missionaries at this time. Thanks to all of you for your love and support.
Love, Dad & Mom

Saturday, January 9, 2010

22nd Post Monday Jan. 4 to Sunday Jan.10, 2010

After our staff meeting at the Hafer Road office today we worked on our list of candidates. With the new LDS employment web site it is even harder now to keep up with those in our assigned units. They register on line but do not fill out their profile enough to know what their experience and education is. That makes it real tough to try and help them find work. We do enjoy being at the main office as we get to see the other staff members and to also walk over to the mission office and say hello to the senior missionaries working there. It was another cool day in Houston.

Our Tuesday morning run was real cold. The wind was blowing a bit and the temperature was in the high 20's or so. It is our day to go into the Bering building at noon. When we got to the office Alex was helping a couple with their resumes. We spend most all our time going through job leads and sending them to our candidates. We also contacted those whom we invited to the career workshop as a reminder. We have invited 18 folks. The phones in our office are still not working so we have to go to the other side of the building and use the stake clerk's phone. We did get in touch with several people today so hopefully some will come tomorrow and others will find the job postings we sent helpful.

We only had one person show up today to the Career Workshop. We did get emails from two others stating they either had part time work or they were on interviews this morning - that is a good thing! It is a bit tough to teach the CW with only one person, but he seemed to enjoy the class and the information he received. It was cold again today. On the way home we drive through a very upscale neighborhood and it looked like a hurricane had hit a laundromat - there were sheets, blankets and any type of material folks could find covering their plants to keep them from freezing.

Thursday morning's run was a real cool experience. The wind was blowing and the rain was coming sideways, but out we went. Needless to say we were cold and soaked when we got back to the apartment. No one came into the Broadway building today, which was not too much of a surprise - it was very cold and wet today.
We got all set up with our tables, materials, video camera, TV, etc for day two of the career workshop and our one candidate send an email saying his wife told him not to come in as the weather was to bad (very cold, sunshine and dry roads). Oh well, we were at the right place, doing the right thing, prepared to help those who are looking for help. I have really not been discouraged about the lack of activity with some of our candidates because we are doing about all we can to help them, the rest is up to them.

Saturday and our day to clean, do laundry and shop. After we got our jobs done we went out to a soup and salad place for an early dinner. The place is always packed but we enjoyed the outing. It is still very cold for Houston, but the sun was shining bright today.

Today we visited the Memorial Ward in the Richmond Stake. Many greeted us before sacrament meeting started and made us feel very welcome. It was a very diverse ward, South Africa, Central and South America. A young sister taught the RS lesson and she did an excellent job. The young church members are just a lot better than we were at that age. Our children are great members too. We are proud of them and the good parents and people that they are. They each do their best in serving in their wards and communitees. They are teaching their children by example and we are so thankful for them.

We are so grateful for this mission experience. For the many blessings that we have received throughout our life that have allowed us to serve at this time. We continue to enjoy good health and wonderful experiences that bring us much happiness and many blessings.
May the Lord bless you,
Love, Mom & Dad

Saturday, January 2, 2010

21st Post Mon. Dec 28 2009 - Sun Jan 3, 2010

Wow not only was this a fast week but where did this year go!! We had a nice drive up to the Hafer Road office this morning - traffic was very lite. Our staff meeting was short so we worked on our list of candidates, made some phone calls and sent some emails. It was a quiet day, but it is always nice to see and visit with the other senior missionaries both in the employment office and in the mission office which is right next door. Monday is also the young missionaries P-day so we have several come into the employment office to use the computers. They are really a good group of Elders and Sisters. It was very cool last night and today - nice Leona weather.

Alex changed our schedule today so we went into the Bering building at 8 AM instead of 12 noon. That was nice not to be there until 9 pm as normal. We had three people come into the center today. The first was a man who is retired from the city of Houston and needs to find work to make ends meet. We got him set up on the new web site, shared some job leads with him and other items. His sister has a computer and so she will help him get an email account. I offered to do that for him but I think he felt he had been in the office long enough. A couple came in later in the afternoon. They were both very educated and had some very good experience. I suspect they will not have too much trouble finding jobs. They had already registered online on the new web site so they were already a long way ahead of where most of our folks are. It rained and was very cool today.

It was still raining this morning (Wednesday) when we went out running. We were soaked to the bone and cold when we got home. The Bering office phones were not working today, but we sent emails to about 17 or so candidates inviting them to the career workshop next week. Hopefully we will have several show up as we know it will be very helpful for them. Alex called this morning and told us to meet him at a Mexican restaurant not too far from our office. Alex had his two young sons with him (his wife is in Utah with a new grand baby) and Sisters Lish and Billingsley. The place we met him looked like the typical fast food Mexican place, but the food was very good. We will have to go back.
Thursday (New Years Eve) we were at the Broadway building. We only had one fellow come in. He has his own business and has done well the past several years, but the last couple of months business has dropped off a bit. He came in to get a few ideas and to talk to us. Not sure I ever did get a real straight answer concerning what he was looking for. He just knew he did not want a full time job and nothing heavy duty. We had a good chat and offered a few suggestions that he had not thought off. They had us close the office early today so we would not be on the roads in the early evening. We were invited over to the Senior Sister Missionaries place for dinner along with Elder and Sister Dunning from American Fork. They are all missionaries from the Houston South Mission, but because we live in that mission and the sisters now live in our apartment complex we do get to do things and visit with them from time to time. We had a very nice dinner and played a few games. It was great to visit and fun to get to know those senior missionaries. It was very foggy and damp all day and evening.

We had Friday off so it was nice not to have to get up so early and just take it easy. We went for a ride to find the location of some discount stores and then drove over to the Galleria to see the big Christmas tree in the ice rink. Very pretty tree. We walked through the Neman Marcus store to get to the Galleria area from the parking garage. They had a "bargain basement" sale set up in their downstairs. We looked at the Christmas socks that were on sale. Regular price was $195, on sale for $100. We were going to pick up several at that bargain price, but decided it was not that good of a deal (ya right). The Galleria area is full of high end stores, ie Saks Fifth Ave, Dillard's, Nordstrom, and diamond shops like you would not believe. Anyway a fun place to look, but not so much to buy.

Saturday we got up to another really nice day. Sunny and cool. Some previous Senior Missionaries from Katy Texas have a "ranch" about 90 miles west of Houston, out in the sticks. It is 50 or so acres, but not what you might think of as a ranch. They have a very small shack with a bed in it and an outhouse. There is running water and electricity. Anyway this couple invited a few folks from their ward and the Senior Missionaries from our Mission. They had BBQ beef, blackened catfish, which was really very good, and all kinds of pot luck salads and goodies. They have several Texas long horns. It is just a really out of the way place to go and relax. It was a very enjoyable afternoon and very delicious food. It was a great time, they are really good folks and fun to talk with. We are getting better at understanding Texan, even though we don't speak it yet.
We attended the Friendswoods 1st Ward today. Friendswood is south of Houston on the way to Galveston. It took us about 40 minutes to get there on the freeway. We drove past Reliant Stadium where the Houston Texans play football, on the way to church this morning. They were already setting up for their tail gate parties at 8:15 this morning, for a 1 pm game start. We enjoyed the ward meetings. They introduced us in sacrament meeting and then gave us some time in priesthood and relief society to tell about what we are doing. They are a very friendly bunch that is for sure. We really enjoyed the testimony meeting, so many humble and heart felt testimonies. It was wonderful to be in church today and to be on a mission. We are truly blessed. Have a great week and a prosperous new year.
Love, Dad and Mom