Sunday, May 30, 2010

42nd Post Mon May 23 - Sun May 30, 2010

Another Monday already, can you believe it? I made several phone calls and follow ups with various apartments concerning lease renewals and renovations. I guess I am more inclined to get the apartment management to renovate the apartments (paint and re-carpet) rather than move. It is more "paper work" for me but moving and finding new apartments is lots of work also. I took two Elders with me this morning (their P-day) and we went out to a members home that called and wanted to know if the mission wanted their sectional sofa. It is really a big sofa/sleeper in an L shape so we decided to put it in our apartment. It really fills up the place but looks nice. This afternoon I had a follow up with the eye doctor and all is well from the bright light incident, but he said I have the very early stages of cataracts. He explained that cataracts are incident with getting older and that they are completely "curable" with surgery at some later date (I was worried that maybe there would be nothing else to whittle on in my more advanced years). The senior missionaries couples and Sister Billingsley went out for dinner this evening. We had a good visit with the Thomas' - they are really nice people.

Tuesday morning and I started the next round of apartment inspections. Many of the apartments that I checked today were much improved over last time (inspections about every 6 weeks). I drove into one apartment complex and thought "this does not look familiar", but there could not be two apartments on the same street with like a 1238 number. I found 1238 and knocked on the door. No one answered so I tried my key, it did not work. Then I knew I was in the wrong place. I was sure glad no one was home. I got back to the truck and called the elders, they answered so I asked why they did not answer the door - "No one knocked" was their reply. Now I knew I was all messed up. I told the elder to walk outside and tell me what color his apartment building is - "green" he said. I was parked in front of the white apartment complex. Oh well it was not the first time I have been lost. It was Elder Brady's birthday so we had a birthday pinata for him. Even Sister Walker took a swing!

Wednesday and another full day of checking apartments.

Thursday I went to College Station, Brenham, and Waller inspecting apartments. I am on the road for most all day but the country side is interesting with lots of wide open spaces and large ranches. Whenever there are missionaries in their apartments we talk a little about upkeep, but mostly I ask about the people they are teaching. The missionaries love to tell about their investigators. We went to the temple this evening after work. It is always a good experience to go to the Lord's house. We are thankful to have one so close.
Friday we had our office staff meeting. We enjoy so much meeting with President and Sister Hansen. President Hanson told the APs how much he appreciated their work and help. At the Zone Leaders Conference yesterday, apparently Pres. Hansen forgot his computer with the items he was going to discuss. So before the meeting he leaned over and told Elder Hiatt and Elder Brady to stand up and teach the zone leaders what the Spirit guided them to teach. President said without skipping a beat the two of them taught an inspired message, going back and forth between the two of them, for over 35 minutes. He said that no one in attendance(except for the APs and the President) knew that at the last minute the agenda had been changed. President Hansen then said, "I hope I never take for granted all that you two do for this mission". They are really fine missionaries and wonderful leaders and we are blessed to associate and serve with them.
Saturday we cleaned and did a bit of shopping as we had Elders Whittaker, Martin, Hiatt, & Brady over for dinner this evening. It is always a pleasure to have the elders for dinner and to visit with them and feel their wonderful spirit. After dinner, Leona and I went over to Sisters Billingsley and Young's apartment with the other seniors for ice cream and cookies and to meet Sister Young's two sons. They both came down to fix their mother's car AC. One is a bishop in Draper, Utah and the other lives in Bentonville and works for WalMart.

We attended the gospel essentials class today during Sunday School time. The teacher did not show up so Elder Hiatt just stood up and began the lesson just like it was his "turn". At the end he said during his individual study this morning he was prompted to read the lesson and prepare. He really did a very good job - the missionaries are great teachers - they follow the spirit.

We love our mission and count ourselves so blessed to be here at this time. We pray everyday for you and your family.
Dad & Mom

Sunday, May 23, 2010

41st Post - Mon May 17 - Sunday May 23, 2010

One set of Elders ran their car in deep water Friday night and sucked water into their engine. Their car had to be towed as they threw a rod right through the engine block. They forgot their apartment key on the car key ring so they asked me if I could help them with a spare key. I told them I would run them out to the car shop and retrieve they key, which I did. There is never a dull moment at the office. Lots of missionaries going and coming on Mondays at the office as it is their P-day. The tree behind the office is full of pink blossoms

Tuesday we started the current round of Zone Conferences. Today's conference was at the Longenbough building. We enjoy so much being with the other missionaries. President Hansen told the missionaries that he had prayed last night while laying in bed that he would say what the Lord would have him say. He then spoke for about 45 minutes with no notes on the importance of treating each other with kindness and not saying "cute or sharp" things that hurt others. He also talked a bit about baptism. He then told the missionaries that when we bent over to get his notes from his brief case he remembered he had left them at home. He then thought "no problem" I will just show the power point presentation he had prepare, but when he turned on his lap top the battery was dead. He said we had heard the message the Lord wanted us to hear not the one he had prepared. There was a very strong spirit in the meeting.
Kent and Diane Chamberlin came for dinner this evening. It was fun to visit with them. Sure was warm and humid today.

Wednesday we held Zone Conference in College Station. The stake president in College station was given about 30 minutes to speak. He talked on the many symbols of baptism. The person performing the ordnance is standing in for Jesus himself and that He holds on to us as we hold on to Him and that He pulls us out of the watery grave. We also lay back into His arms. We must learn to lay back completely. Do not hang on to the side of the fount (hanging on to our favorite sins....). Anyway it was a very good talk. President Hansen used the Joseph William Turner painting that President Monson refers to as the "rescue". He used the painting to draw comments from the missionaries and then to liken that to their service. Great spirit in the meeting. What a blessing to be a missionary.

Thursday was the Zone Conference at the Hafer building. I helped Elder Chesnut unload the truck of all the "car supplies, etc" he uses for the zone conferences. I had to go to Huntsville to load up Elder and Sister Marlow who have completed their CES mission. Leona went with me. It was a nice drive up I-45 to Huntsville. The Elders in Huntsville came over and loaded the apartment stuff in the trailer for us. We stopped in Spring to drop off some furniture at their daughter's home. We then brought the rest of the stuff to the mission office. It sure is hot and humid.

Friday, it was our turn to meet with President Hansen before our staff meeting. He is sure a kind man. He is genuinely concerned about our health, how we are liking the office and our assignments. He always asks if we are worried or concerned about anything. He asks about our children and grandchildren. He thanked Elder Walker for teaching "doctrine" about apartment issues instead of "nagging" at zone conferences. He gave the closing prayer and blessed us and our family. As we left he said, "you don't know the peace I feel knowing that you will be here in the office for the duration of my mission assignment, thank you for your service." President and Sister Hansen work tirelessly, they are wonderful servants, we are blessed to know them.
Friday is our staff meeting day. President Hansen is so good at bringing the spirit to our meetings. He always has such good, uplifting stories. He shared a note he received from one of the Sisters. They were teaching a man in the park last week because his apartment just was not a good environment. They were teaching him about the love of God and repentance when suddenly the clouds burst and rain came pouring down. They had nowhere to go so they continued to teach. They all got soaking wet. They had an amazing lesson about the power of God and the atonement of Christ that allows us to repent and be different people as they watched God shake the heavens. It was overshelmingly powerful. The man (Sam) committed to come to church the next day and he did!
This afternoon I went back to the dermatologist. He removed 4 more spots, three off my legs and one from my side. Thank heaven for good medical treatment

Saturday we spent a good part of the day in the office getting some items done. I unloaded the trailer of stuff the elders had picked up from a member. We also drove up to Conroe to get a few items from a member who is moving and wanted to get rid of some furniture. We took a few items but not it all. Worked in the garage getting things put away and fixed another vacuum. We came home tired but grateful we can serve the Lord full time. What a blessing it is.

We were invited to the Endicot's for dinner after church today (Necka Beck). They also invited the 2 sets of Elders in our ward (it was Elder Brady's birthday so we sang and had ice cream). This picture is of Elder Brady with a pinata he bought at the pulga (flea market). The missionaries set up a booth at the pulga on Saturdays. They talk and hand out pass-a-long cards to people who come to shop. He has become friends with one of the merchants so she made this pinata for his birthday. Tomorrow (24th) is the young missionaries p-day so they will fill "Elder Brady" with candy and start swinging. Elder Brady is a fine missionary and has been serving as one of the assistants to President Hansen. He goes home next transfer and is going to be greatly missed. We have grown to love him.
We are so thankful for our children and their families. What a great treasure you are to us. We love our mission. It just does not seem real sometimes that we are actually "living our dream". We have been given such choice blessings.
Take care,
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 16, 2010

40th Post Mon May 10 - Sunday May 16, 2010

The week started out in a rather dark manner - the power went off while we were getting ready this morning. We got dressed and went early and finished getting ready at the mission office. Leona took a break and went with me to deliver a check to an apartment about 20 minutes away. It is nice to be able to spend a few minutes together during the day. We went over to the Chesnuts for family home evening. We enjoy visiting with the other senior missionaries. It is really nice that most of us live right here in the same apartment complex and in fact in adjacent buildings. Jessica and her family are in Utah staying with the Vances. They all went up to Marvins to a family party this evening so while they were there they called us on the webcam. It was fun to see those that were there and to say hello.

This morning I drove down to the Katy area to check out an apartment we moved out of last week. The Sisters who lived there really did a nice job of leaving the place clean. I will have to arrange with the elders to move the rest of the furniture out. Stopped on the way back to the office to talk to an apartment manager where we gave notice that we were moving out. Turns out we are now going to stay, but we will move into a cheaper apartment (smaller) in the same complex. We agreed on the date and I signed the papers, etc for the new apartment. Worked on paper work this afternoon and fixed another vacuum and got it running. This evening Leona went over to the senior sisters' apartment to do some sewing. They all try to get together one evening a week to work on sewing projects.

Wednesday I worked on the July arrivals photos and got the tracking board and mission office board photo templates ready. I ran some apartment errands and fixed another vacuum (I have a second job to fall back on when we get released!). It gets a bit warmer and more humid it seems each day now.

I met 4 elders at the Katy apartment that we needed to move the furniture out of this Thursday morning. They loaded up beds, kitchen table and chairs, a desk, easy chairs, dresser, book case and washer and dryer. The missionaries are sure good to help me when I ask. I stopped on the way back to drop a bed off at one of the sister's apartment as one of their beds was in poor condition. They also had extra furniture and several boxes of kitchen stuff to send back to the mission office. I had a real load of stuff when I got back. Elders Whitaker and Martin just happened to come into the office so I got them to unload the furniture for me. Thank goodness they were in the area.
This evening I taught the stake and ward employment specialists at the employment office. I remembered not to look into the projector light this time so all went real well. I believe this will be my last time with that assignment as Elder and Sister Thomas were there so they will take over next month.

We always enjoy our staff meeting with President and Sister Hansen on Friday mornings. He is very close to the Spirit and you feel that whenever you are around him. He talked a bit about the new "Leadership Emphasis Training" with the focus now on the "Gathering", and how that will encompass redeem the dead, proclaim the gospel, and perfect the saints. "Care for the poor and needy" has also be added to the emphasis. All this makes so much sense as we prepare on both sides of the veil for the second coming. What a blessing to have inspired prophets and apostles on the earth today.
Sister Hansen told of an experience their daughter Jessica had. She and has been with her folks for the past few weeks because she came to Houston to have knee surgery. When it was time to return to Provo she was going to leave on Wednesday but told her dad (President Hansen) that she felt that she should leave on Thursday instead so arrangements were made. At the airport, she was allowed to pre-board the plane because of her disability and quickly made herself comfortable with her immobilized knee. After a layover in Arizona, a blind man boarded early and sat next to her with his seeing-eye dog. He was very warm and friendly and didn't hold back at all, making it easy for Jessica to respond in the same way. He told her that he didn't mind being blind because it made his hearing more acute and he could tell a person's countenance by their voice. He also said he could sense her sincerity from her voice. She learned that he was 35 years old, had three children and that he was on his way to Salt Lake City for a Goalball Competition. He asked about her and she explained that she had been to Houston for surgery on her knee and when asked why she went all the way to Houston for that, she explained that her parents were serving a mission there for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and that her dad was the mission president. When the plane landed someone was supposed to be there to help him get to baggage but they were not, so Jessica said, "come with me." (Sister Hansen said, "it must of been quite a sight - the lame leading the blind." He invited her to come to the competition and Jessica did the next night. After the game he asked questions about her beliefs and Jessica asked him if she could send two missionaries to visit with him and his family when he returned home to Arizona. He didn't hesitate, "of course, I would love to talk to them!"
We must love others and not be afraid to open our mouth and share our testimonies of the gosple with them. As President Hansen says "We must pray, prepare, and proclaim".
The Vances called us on the webcam this evening so we got to see the Ennis and the Utah Walkers. It was fun to talk to grandchildren and to see how they are growing, little Braydon is not so little any more.

Saturday we did our preparation day activities of cleaning, washing, and shopping. We went down to the Willowbrook mall, which is about six miles away, to get some new running shoes. It took just over an hour to get there. The traffic was backed up for about 4 miles with a broken stop light. But we got what we went for and enjoyed our time together. While we were stuck in traffic we talked about the blessing of modern inventions like the webcam and being able to see some of the kids and grandchildren last evening. We were so thankful to be able to do that. It made us laugh as we talked about Michael holding Brayden in the air and his legs were still "jumbing", what a jumper he is!

We attended Stake Conference at the Hafer Road building. Elder Gibbon of the 70 was the visiting authority. The choir was very good and the talks were all so inspiring. President Hansen told of a member who came to see him a couple of days ago with a story to share. The man was in a fast food place waiting in line. At the head of the line where two African American men who looked at him with real interest and then whispered something and then look at him again. He wondered what he had done. It was so noticeable that others in the line were also wondering what was going on. One of the men motioned for him to join them at the head of the line, which he was reluctant to do but did anyway as the others in the line did not seem to mind. One of the men told the member that he had seen him in a dream, in fact had seen him in two dreams and that the member had something this man needed to know. So he said "what is it"? The member said I told them about my job, "no that is not it", he told them about his hobbies, "no that was not it". He then said that he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had studied and given seminars on black family history and that he had spoken with black congregations on that subject. The men in line told him they were ministers in their congregations and to "tell us more", which he did. By the time he left the restaurant they had invited him to speak at both their congregations and by the next day had received several phone calls from other black ministers to speak in their church's. What a powerful spirit that story brought to the meeting. Heavenly Father really does care for the one and is always looking out for His children.

We are so thankful to be missionaries, we have been blessed in so many ways. We love you and are grateful you are part of our lives.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 9, 2010

39th Post Monday May 3 - Sunday May 9, 2010

Early Monday morning we drove Jessica and Renae down to the Hobby Airport for their flight home - we sure have enjoyed their visit - hate to see it end. I then drove back up to College Station to take a bed for a new Sister that will be arriving tomorrow. The Sisters are moving to a new apartment in the same complex so I reviewed and signed the lease, and did the new apartment walk through and got the bed set up. The Sisters will begin the move with the help of the Elders. I got a call later in the day from Elders who's bath tub was cracked and leaking - the problem has been going on for some weeks now and has not be resolved. The apartment complex gave the Elders keys to the "show apartment" next door so they could shower, but still had not fixed the problem. I called and asked what their repair schedule was. The manager did not have a real good answer so I told them they should just allow the missionaries to move into the show apartment as it is all fixed up. Well the manager said we could not do that and even if we could it would cost a lot of additional money. I told her to call her boss and confirm that and oh by the way our lease is due the end of the month and I "hoped we could stay put". A couple of hours later she called back and said we have great news you can move into the show apartment at no additional cost and no increase in rent! Another tender mercy from our loving Heavenly Father. I went down and signed the new lease and got the elders starting to move. It worked out great - the missionaries were sure exicited to move.

Tuesday is transfer day. Lots of missionaries at the mission office. Leona and I prepare the snacks for the departing missionaries and those who come into the office who are going to new areas or waiting for missionaries coming from other areas. We had fresh fruit, muffins, bagels, cream cheese, etc. It all goes fast so I'm glad we always have extra. I took an elder up to Conroe to his new area as the APs were out with the van taking other missionaries to new areas and bringing others back to the mission office. In the evening, Leona and I went up to the temple to set up and to make sure the dinner was ready for the those departing missionaries and any family who came to take them home. The place where we get the Texas BBQ has one fellow who has a temple recommend so he always comes to bring and set up the meal. What a busy day.

Leona and the other senior sisters have been working with Sister Lish to help her make a "Texas quilt". Looks real nice so far.
Wednesday morning we set up snacks again for the departing missionaries and get ready for the new missionaries. President and Sister Hansen and the APs take the missionaries to the airport and get them on their way and then meet the newly arriving missionaries and bring them back to the mission office. We have a short orientation for them and the President interviews each one. I take photos of the new missionaries for the transferr board and mission office picture board. We stayed late this evening getting those photos prepared, printed and mounted. In my spare time I repaired a bed frame. Another busy day.

Thursday morning Elder Chesnut called and wanted me to take him over to an impound yard as a set of elders had their car towed. After we got that taken care of I drove a bed and the mail up to Montgomery for the sisters. The sister will be training a new sister that will be staying with them. Also dropped of a bed frame and other items to the Elders in Conroe.

Friday morning things were very quiet in the office as the new missionaries are in their new areas. Our ten new missionaries are enthused and excited. They are an interesting group and will be great. We are thankful to be able to serve with them and feel the spirit that they bring. We have two deaf elders now and boy was the one that was serving in our mission excited as he traveled to the airport with the AP's to pick up his new companion. I watched as they returned to the office, those two were signing back and forth so quickly and smiling from ear to ear. The companionship is a three some and the third elder can hear, it needs to be that way for obvious safety reasons.

Lots of paper work and apartment items to take care of today. I had a follow up appointment with the eye doctor late this afternoon. All seems well with my eyes, at least there appears to be no current effects of the incident of a couple of weeks ago.

This evening we did a 4 hour shift at the peanut butter factory. It was interesting to see the process up close and personnel. We sorted, packed full jars in boxes, put lids of jars, etc. It was a good experience to have at least once. Makes you thankful for the welfare system of the church.

Saturday we did preparation day stuff. We were invited to the Chesnuts to visit and have some fresh fruit this evening. It is always fun to spend time with the other senior missionaries.

Today is the Spring stake conference so we decided to go. This is the stake that Leona's cousin, Kent Chamberlain, is in the stake presidency. Conference was very nice. President and Sister Hansen, President and Sister Bradshaw (temple president and matron) and the stake presidency all spoke. It was a very uplifting conference the music and speakers all did well.

It has been a wonderful week to be missionaries - what a blessing!
Take care and may the Lord bless you all,
Love Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 2, 2010

38th Post Mon Apr 26 - Sun May 2, 2010

It has been a busy week again here in the Texas Houston Mission. Monday we just did office stuff, pay bills and worked on transfer board photos. We went to the mission home for dinner this evening. The bishop storehouse managers, the Huntsville CES couple, and a church service proselyting couple are all close to finishing their missions and the new employment couple that replaced us just arrived, so we all got together at President and Sister Hansens. President Hansen has a real talent for inviting the Spirit whenever he does anything. He asked each person tell something about themselves that the others may not know about them. Elder and Sister Pittman (bishop's storehouse) told about their conversion and testimony, which was very touching. They are really salt of the earth folks. It was a wonderful evening.

Tuesday I was out inspecting apartments again. I checked the apartments close to the mission office. Had a bit of an issue with one apartment where we have four elders and a "few broken windows", but all in all the apartments are in good shape.
Wednesday we went to College Station to check apartments and to sign a new apartment lease. Leona went with me. College Station is a little over 1 1/2 hours away. I was nice to have the company. There are still lots of wild flowers along the road and every thing is so green now - a very pleasant drive. While we were in College Station (home of Texas A&M University) we looked up Dan and Ruth Barbie who were our neighbors in Saudi Arabia. Dan was home so we visited with him for an hour or so. It was fun to catch up with them and their kids. They had two kids, Scott and Carol - both are married and have kids of their own.
When we got back to the apartment we were locked out as the maintenance man had broken his key off in the door and they had to replace the lock. Of course, they forgot to leave the new keys in our mail box and since we did not get back home until after the office had closed, we had to wait for the after hours guy to show up and retrieve our new keys. We finally got into our apartment at about 7pm. What a beautiful day, very cool this early morning in the low 50's.

Thursday I hooked the trailer and truck up and helped the elders get a sofa and love seat from a members home for their apartment. Worked on more paper work in the office the rest of the day.

Friday I drove out to Magnolia to inspect a newly renovated apartment and sign a new 12 month lease. The owners had really fixed the place up. I'm sure the elders will be excited to move back in. I have inspected all the apartments now for this cycle. This evening we picked up Jessica and Renae at the Hobby Airport south of Houston. So thankful to have them with us for a visit. It was much warmer and more humid today.

Saturday we visited the farmers market which is always a colorful sight. We also went to the Galleria shopping center which is not far from our old apartment. We went to lunch at a salad and soup place then came home. We had the senior missionaries here in the apartment complex over for ice cream and to meet Jessica and Renae. It was fun to visit with them for awhile.

Renae is such a good baby she hardly ever cries. She was good at church today. The fast and testimony meeting was very good. The new bishopric had put a note in the bulletin today stating what a testimony should be. I think the members really tried to follow the counsel. It has been fun to have family here. Renae is just like Luke was at this age, long and thin. So thankful they could come to visit.

We pray for you each day. What a great blessing you all are in our life. We are so thankful to be serving this mission, we feel it is such a great privilege.
We love you
Dad and Mom