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