Sunday, June 26, 2011

98th Post (last THM post) - Mon Jun 20 - Sun Jun 26, 2011

Twenty three months ago today we started our mission.  Where has the time gone.  When Pres. Hansen moved transfer week forward one week we told him we would stay for an extra week to help the new couple.  I went over more apartment items with Elder Bowcutt and how to order office supplies through the Church's national account with Staples.  The Stringfellows took us out to lunch today.  We went to the new all you can eat place just north of us on I-45.  The food was very good and it was fun to visit with the Stringfellows, the Howes (Stringfellows replacements) and Sisters Nance and Young.  Leona stayed late at the office, but I went home with stuff from the office and started to sort papers.   A great day to be a missionary.

Tuesday was transfer day (this is transfer week!).  When the AP's got back from College Station with their load of missionaries I load up a group and head out to Katy.  I always check the trailer to make sure  everything is OK (hook up, lights, etc).  I noticed the electrical cable was hanging way lower than normal and that it had been dragging on the ground and had worn clear through the covering and the copper wire).  We had no break or signal lights on one side.  That could be a real problem as my route is mostly freeway or very busy 4 lane roads.  The new AP, Elder White, knew what to do and how to splice wire, so I did not have to do much except to "supervise".  We got the wiring fixed and the missionaries and their belonging loaded, only 20 minutes late or so.  The route takes us to the Bear Creek Chapel and then on the the Mills Road Chapel and back to the office.  We got back to the office on time so I was able to make the departing missionaries program.  We have attended a lot of those meetings but this one was very tender for us.  It was hard to say goodbye and to bear our testimony.  There are 8 elders, 2 sisters, us, Pres and Sister Hansen (departing July 1) and the Stringfellows (departing July 26).  A wonderful group of missionaries that we have great love and respect for.  After the meeting the departing missionaries go to the temple with Pres and Sister Hansen.  Leona and I went back to the office to gather up paper goods, etc and to our apartment to get other dinner items and then off to the temple.  We set up for dinner for the missionaries.  We had the departing elders and sisters, the Hansens, Stringfellows and the mother and younger sister of one of our departing sisters.  The dinner is served in the temple cafeteria.  Sister Tamayo provided the main course (chicken almondine, potato scuffle, and salad), we do home made Texas shaped cookies and fresh fruit.   The dinner went well, the food was great and the visit with the missionaries even better.  It was late when we got back to the apartment.  We found out that our family reunion reservations at Bear Lake were messed up (doubled booked) by the owner.  We pray things will work out as 32 of us have been looking forward to this for a year!
Wednesday we got to the office early to help set up a quick breakfast for the departing missionaries before they go to the airport (normally the Hansens do this meal at the mission home, but the mission home is being repainted, etc for the new mission president and his family and the Hansens are in a hotel). We said goodbye to the departing missionaries - a sad time, but happy for their faithful service and joyous reunions they will have with their families.  We received word that the arriving missionary's connecting flight had been cancelled.  Later in the morning we heard that SLC was able to rebook and the missionaries did arrive close to the original schedule.  Elder Bowcutt took the new arrival's photos and started that process.  The office staff did our orientation for the new arrivals.  Elder Bowcutt and I drove out to visit a perspective new missionary apartment.  Turns out they wanted us to pay for criminal background checks and wanted SS numbers of the missionaries.  We do not do either of those.  I asked them to double check with their corp headquarters to make sure - last time I went down this path the corporate folks agreed with me.  We left early as we had to go up to the mission home to gather stuff we needed for the breakfast in the morning.  It rain hard today, first real rain we have had since last fall.

Thursday we were up early and over to the church to set up and get breakfast ready for the new missionaries, their trainers, the AP's, the Hansens, and various other missionaries who looked like they were starving.  We fixed french toast, bacon, sausage, juice, and fruit.  We had enough "extra missionaries" that there was nothing left over.  President Hansen announced the new championships which is always an exciting thing.  He does such a good job when ever he talks to the missionaries.  He has such a good spirit about him and the missionaries feel it.  Elder Bowcutt took all the pictures and went with me to get them copied.  We send a picture of the new missionary and the Hansens to the missionaries parents along with a nice letter from the mission president.  We left the office a bit early to go home and get some of our furniture ready to ship down to the Cramers who are new employment missionaries down town (just like we were).  It rained a bit today.

Friday we got up early to exercise.  Leona drove me over to the office to get the truck and trailer.  Elders Gardner and Keliipuleole came by to help load some furniture from our apartment and some from the senior sisters apartment.  It did not take too long and then Elder Stringfellow drove the truck and trailer down to Elder and Sister Cramers apartment.  I changed clothes and went to the office. Elder Bowcutt and I drove out to Katy and Sealy to sign leases for four new apartments (two each at two different complexes).  It was a good day as Elder Bowcutt was able to see what that part of his job entails plus was able to ask lots of questions on the long drive out and back from Sealy.  We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sorting through stuff getting ready to leave.  We will leave a few boxes at the apartment ( the senior sisters are moving into our apartment when we depart) and a few at Kent Chamberlain's.  How did we accumulate so much stuff!!  The Stringfellows and Sister's Young and Nance came over this evening for a while.  They had made and framed a cross stitch "picture" that was really nice.  Very kind and thoughtful of them.

Saturday we spent all day sorting through stuff and putting things in boxes or piles depending on where it is to go.  This evening the Sulski's took us out to dinner and ice cream.  We had such a pleasant evening with them.  Their only child, a son, is on a mission in Utah.  They joined the church about 15 years ago and Sister Sulski is serving part time in the mission office as the President's secretary, she and Leona have become the best of friends. 

Sunday we went into the mission office before sacrament meeting to take care of some last minute things.  The Hansen's were at church so we were able to say goodbye to them.  What wonderful people they are!! It has been such a blessing to get to know them, so thankful for that association.
We hate to see this mission end, it has been such a wonderful experience and blessing.  We have felt our Father in Heavens's guidance and we have grown to love the other missionaries as we serve together in this great work.  The Spirit makes this such a great experience.  We do not want to leave full time missionary service here in Texas.  We pray we can do this again.  We have a deeper testimony of the reality of our Father in Heaven and His love for us.  We know from a deeper place in our hearts that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith truly did see what he said he saw and did restore the gospel back to the earth.  What blessed people we are.  We are thankful for our testimonies.  To our friends and family who have provided so much support and service - thank you, thank you.  We love you and so thankful for each one of you and that we are an eternal family.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, June 19, 2011

97th Post Monday June 13 - Sunday June 19, 2011

Monday already and another busy week.  I signed two apartment leases and visited a third apartment complex today - I was out most of the day with those issues.  Leona and I went over the apartment spreadsheet to make sure she was ready to make the rent payments.  Not so many missionaries in today, not sure why.  We made some treats for the missionaries that came in the office - did not take long for the treats to disappear.  We went over to the Stringfellows for FHE.  We watched a DVD by Cleon Skousen about the signs of the 2nd coming especially what will happen in the Holy Land.  Very interesting.  We enjoy our time with the senior sisters and the Stringfellows.
Tuesday I made a quick trip up to Conroe to deliver a rent check to Forrest Creek - just like last month!  Turns out we have a few apartment complexes that are owned by the same company and when we moved apartments at Forest Creek the computer some how got the wrong address.  Anyway we got that resolved - we hope.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning up both my paper and electronic files - our replacements the Bowcutts arrive tomorrow.
We had 6 elders over for dinner this evening, Elders Galbraith, Scoresby, Anderson (Vern Rice's grandson), Sleet, Angilau, and Webb.  All good elders and it is such a blessing to serve with them.  It was another hot hot day.
Wednesday, Elder and Sister Bowcutt arrived safely to the mission last night and they were in the office ready to go to work this morning.  They pulled their 5th wheel trailer from their home in Monroe, Utah.  We started right out reviewing how apartments are set up, leased, provided with utilities, tracked, etc.  We also went over how to set up the pictures for the transfer and picture boards.  Elder Bowcutt picks up things really quickly as he knows how to get around in the computer very well.  Sister Bowcutt and Leona spent the day training and going over finances, setting up new vendors and all the other responsibilities that she will have.  We are so glad they are here and ready to go.  Their son is the bishop in the ward we attend here in Houston, the Olde Oaks Ward.
Thursday Elder Bowcutt and I went to WalMart to get apartment cleaning supplies, and ran some other errands.  We visited an apartment to get the lease renewal process moving.  I reviewed lots of tasks around apartments and documentation again today.  Another wonderful day to be a missionary.
Friday we stopped by Cypress Lake Apartments (where we live) to sign a church lease for our apartment.  When Leona and I move out the senior sisters will move into our two bedroom apartment.  The Church will "sign" the lease and the sisters will reimburse the church for the rent.  They no longer need their 3 bedroom apartment.  It was nice that their apartment and ours both had leases come due June 30.  Leona and I and the Bowcutts went with Elder Stringfellow to pick up four new mission cars at the Ford dealer up I-45.  On the way back Leona took a little side trip (she got turned around) going the wrong direction.  I seen her and tried to get her attention but to no avail.  Because of traffic I could not follow her.  I just hoped she would not drive to far before she realized where she was.  She did make it back to the office after her tour of the I-45 frontage road.  I was so glad she got back (she did not have her cell phone).  Never a dull moment when you are a senior missionary.  I went over to the store and got some ice cream treats for Sister Donkin as it was here birthday today.  After their district meeting they all came back to the office and we sang and had ice cream.  One of the elders that went home several months ago sent Sister Donkin flowers - I'm not sure she knew how to take all that.
Saturday we fixed some chicken in the crock pot and Leona went into the office for a while.  The lady who cleans the mission home and mission office is from Tonga.  She wanted to do a luau for the Hansens before they go home (July 1), so we combined that with the senior missionary dinner.  It was great.  All the senior missionaries, the Hansens and their son and family and the cleaning ladies family (over 30 people from her family) were all that the TC Jester church building.  It was a fun evening.  The Tongans sang and danced and just had a wonderful time entertaining us.  We took lots of pictures and ate lots of good food.  This will probably be the last time we will see some of the seniors.  We have come to love and enjoy our service with them so much.  What a blessing to be a full time missionary.
Sunday and we are thankful for a day of rest.  The Sacrament meeting talks were very good.  Leona slipped back to the mission office during RS to get a letter typed in "Spanish" for the new mission president.  She said that she needed peace and quiet to get it done and knew that it would not be that way tomorrow with P-day for the young missionaries and more training with the Bowcutts.  The Young Women had made Father Day treats for all the dads in the ward.  They were leis made of candy wrapped in plastic wrap and pieces of ribbon tied between each piece.  They were quite decorative, the girls had done a good job and the dads appreciated their hard work.

Mom and Dad

Sunday, June 12, 2011

96th Post Monday June 6, Sunday June 12, 2011

Monday I spent most all day updating the iMOS computer system and the many apartment files as a result of the apartment moves of last Saturday,  lots of little details on lots of forms.  I also ran errands to the post office, bank, and hardware store.  We did not leave the office until about 6pm this evening, some days are long but we enjoy our mission so much and would not want to be doing anything else, what a blessing it has been.  As we were pulling out of the office driveway Leona noticed an armadillo in the flower bed.  It was a baby so we were able to get very close, in fact at one point I was able to pick it up by it's tail.

Tuesday we got up extra early to exercise as we had to be at Zone Conference just after 7AM.  We love our association with the missionaries and with the Hansens.  Pres. Hansen has all the departing missionaries bear their testimonies.  Leona and I were thankful for the opportunity.  Pres. Hansen's comments about our missionary purpose were so inspiring.  We will miss these special times together with the other missionaries - how we have grown to love them.
Pres & Sister Chappell were introduced to the missionaries,  he is the new councilor in the mission presidency.  His wife spoke about how good it felt there at the meeting and how strong she felt the spirit.  It was truly a spiritual experience. 
(Leona)  I must add that at zone conferences Steven always gives apartment training for 10-15 minutes and does a fine job.  He always relates it someway to the scriptures.  This time he talked about when Christ chased the money changers and animals from the temple and how the Spirit could not dwell where there is confussion.  He related that to the missionaries' apartments and how they needed to be clean and tidy so that they can feel the Spirit and be taught.  A great zone conference!

Wednesday we were up early again and on the road down to MD Anderson as Leona had a colonoscopy today.  They got her right in but recovery took a while.  All was fine and she got a good report.  I dropped her off at the apartment and made sure she was OK and then I went to the office.  Sister Sulski is on vacation (church service missionary) and the Stringfellows were at College Station Zone Conference.  I was the only one in the office so I was able to get stuff done (in between phone calls).  Leona felt a lot better after she had some soup this evening.

Thursday was another wonderful day in the Texas Houston Mission.  It was Zone Conference at the Hafer Road building, which is right next to the mission office.  Again it was just a really spiritual feast.  The departing missionaries testimonies were very good .  They almost all said how they had changed in the 18 to 24 months.  For those missionaries who really "get it" there is a big change in them - you can see and feel it.  The member who puts together the departing DVD for the missionaries came and was invited to bear his testimony.  He is a person of great faith and faithfulness.  Pres. Hansen offered the closing prayer and invited us all to kneel (we were in the chapel).  He offered such a wonderful prayer.  Again the spirit was so strong no one wanted to leave, an experience we will never forget. 
We went back to the office - lots to catch up on - didn't leave until around 7pm.  We love it here, we love the missionaries and what we have been asked to do.

Friday, before staff meeting, it was our turn for an interview with Pres. Hansen.  He is so kind and very complimentary of our efforts.  What a great blessing we have had to be able to serve with the Hansens.  I just cannot imagine serving anywhere else, but know we would have if called.  President Hansen offered the prayer at the end of our interview and gave us a wonderful blessing, that of health and knowledge of what direction we should take as we return home.  He also blest our children and their families.  He expressed his thankfulness for our service, but most importantly our example and love toward the missionaries. 
We have received much more from this experience than we have given.  What a blessing this has been. 
There was so much to talk about and plan for in staff meeting this morning.  We will be staying until after this next transfer is over.  So the plan is to leave Texas around June 28th. 
In the next two transfers (August and October) there will be about 20 new missionaries each transfers!!  Those transfers will be very challenging to say the least.  Our largest transfer was 14 missionaries and that was overwhelming.  Needless to say, our thoughts and prayers will be in Houston.  
This evening the Stringfellows, us, and the two senior sisters went down to Alwadi's for dinner.  The others had not been there before, but really enjoyed the food.  They all came back to our place for ice cream and to visit.  A nice evening just to relax for a few minutes with the other seniors.

Saturday Leona went into the office to catch up on some work.  I washed the car and started to sort through some stuff to take home with us.  We are not ready for this "going home" part of our mission.  We did our regular P-day things, washing, shopping and the like. 
Sunday the seniors went to the Magnolia Ward to hear President and Sister Hansen speak in sacrament meeting.  The spirit is always strong when the Hansen's speak.  We enjoyed the  meetings a lot.  The people were very friendly, so down to earth.  Leona said after the meeting on the way out to the van, "I could live here in this ward".  What a nice sabbath day.  We are so blessed to be associated with such good people.  Elder Martin is serving in the Magnolia Ward.  He was transferred there after he left the office about 9 or so months ago (when the Chesnuts left).  It was fun to visit with him and to get a picture at his request.  We are going to be way sad when we leave!

We love you and thankful for each one.  You bring much joy and happiness into our lives, we are so proud of each one of you.  Have a wonderful week.  Be safe!
Mom and Dad

Sunday, June 5, 2011

95th Post Monday May 31 - Sunday June 5,2011

Memorial Day and the Salt Lake offices were closed today so we had the day off. I am thankful to be an American. I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy and so appreciate those who are preserving our freedoms and those who have given their lives doing so. We got up and did our normal exercise routine, then got ready, picked up Sisters Nance and Young and went to IHop for breakfast. I do not remember the last time I ate at IHop. We enjoyed our visit with the sisters and breakfast was rather tasty. 
I completed my on line defensive driving course today. We fixed dinner for Sister Young, Nance, Elder & Sister Stringfellow and her mother and niece who are visiting. The sisters wanted us to come over and watch a video with them. It was a documentary of the Lewis and Clark expedition - very interesting. Just a nice easy going day today.
Tuesday I drove out to Sealy and Katy inspecting apartments. I stopped back at the Concord at Little York apartment complex to sign leases for two, one bedroom apartments. Hot and humid today.
Wednesday I was back down to the Little York apartments moving the elders. Actually it was an easy move as the one apartment was just across the hall and the other apartment was down stairs. When I first arrived one elder said we just about got it done Elder Walker! I looked around and told them maybe 3 more hours. They could not believe it. About 3 hours later we were done. I took the 4 elders to lunch which they enjoyed. They asked me lots of questions about going to college and finding jobs, being a senior missionary and family. It was a rewarding experience being with those elders. The power was turned on, but one apartment's A/C and frig were not working. I talked to the manager about it and they said they would take care of it. They had things running by late afternoon. A long but wonderful day to be a missionary.
Thursday was probably my last apartment inspecting day before we go home. I checked apartments in Magnolia, Tomball and the area around the Temple and mission office. All were in pretty good shape. Lots of ZL's in the office this afternoon following their ZL council. We sure have some fine missionaries.
Friday we drove down to MD Anderson as Leona had an appointment with the dermatologist. It was afternoon before we got back to the office. We were told that Elders Morgan and Struthers had been in an automobile accident and were in the hospital. I called President Hansen just before we left the office to see if I could do anything. Pres Hansen said they were taking the elders back to their apartment so I told him I would meet them at their apartment with their keys that were retrieved from their wrecked car. Elders Struther's eye was all swollen shut and he had a few little cuts. Elder Morgan was real stiff and sore but had no other apparent problems. They are very blessed as the front of their car was pushed up to the windshield and their air bags did not deploy. A lady had pulled out in front of them and they hit her broadside going about 50 miles an hour. (Guardian Angels work double time watching over missionaries!)
We got up early again today (Saturday) and I got the truck and trailer and headed for College Station to move 8 missionaries from two bedroom apartments to 4-one bedroom apartments. Leona stayed and worked in the office. The move went OK considering I had to re-hang closet doors, take apart and reassemble a desk, take shelves off the wall that elders in the distant past had put up, etc.
We had invited Elder Brady (Justin) and his parents to dinner this evening. They have been here visiting for a few days. Elder Brady left about a year ago, he was an AP when we began our service in the office last February. It was fun to see and and visit with him and to meet his parents; good folks and fun to visit with. Brother Brady graduated from AF High in 1980 and his parents were neighbors with June Pack when she lived on Nob Hill in AF - small world.
Michael called this afternoon from San Francisco, he was on his way to catch his flight to Japan. His assignment is to help load or unload a navy ship there, we pray for his safety and that of Niki and kids in his absence.
Sunday morning we drove back to College Station to deliver rent checks to one of the new apartments we moved into. iMos was down yesterday so we could not print checks before I left. The apartment manager was good enough to let us have the keys and move in yesterday without the money. She said your guys have been here for a few years and we have never had a problem and you always pay your bills. We enjoyed the long ride to College Station and attended Fast meeting in the CS 2nd Ward. Very inspiring testimonies about missionary work.
On our drive back home we saw a "Texas mobile home". Maybe that is what we should buy for our next mission??????
We love you and pray for you every day. Have a great week. Find someone to give service to this week - it will bring you much joy and many blessings.
Mom and Dad

Sunday, May 29, 2011

94th Post Monday May 23 - Sunday, May 29, 2011

Can it be Monday already? Time passes quickly when you are having fun! Unfortunately, sometime around 2am Saturday morning someone threw a paving brick through the side window next to the front door of the mission office. The alarm scared them off and as far as we know nothing was taken. The AP's and Elder Stringfellow cleaned it up on Saturday and the FM group made temporary repairs.
As we were exercising this morning we saw pictures of the bad storms and tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri. So many lives lost and property destroyed, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered from these natural disasters.
Today we kept busy with our normal office responsibilities: updating apartment files, paying bills, arranging of lease renewal signings, and just trying to keep up. We had a visit from three elders who left the mission some time ago. One we knew (Elder Neilson AP) and the other two left before we got to the office.
Family home evening was at our place and Sister Young taught the lesson from Preach My Gospel. FHE. We enjoy our time together discussing the lesson and solving "world problems" especially since we really do not know what is going on in the world anyway!

Tuesday I started the next round of apartment inspections. The apartments looked pretty good. I also took the mail and any packages that were in the office. I did the walk through of two apartments we will be moving into next Wednesday. They had installed new carpet and painted so the places looked good. We had Elders Scoresby, Gardner, Galbraith and Keliipuleole for dinner this evening. They are great young men and it is a blessing to know and serve with them. Hot and humid today.

Wednesday I inspected apartments in Conroe, Huntsville, Montgomery, and the Woodlands. Many apartments had improved from last inspection and the missionaries had really tried to correct the negative items. A long drive today. We went to the temple this afternoon. About 10 or so on the session. It was so good to be in the temple - so peaceful and such a great reminder of the really important things in life. We have been blessed with so much including being missionaries.

Thursday I was in College Station, Brenham, and Waller inspecting apartments. We had our staff meeting this morning so I did not get a very early start so it was late in the afternoon when I returned to the office. Over 225 miles today. I stopped by two apartment complexes in College Station to check and make sure the apartments we are moving into will be ready the first Saturday in June. Looks like they are all ready to go. We are moving from a two bedroom apt into two - one bedroom apartments at each location. The country side sure is dry, except between Navasota and Brenham which was green and looked like they had got a lot of rain - must have been very localized, because everywhere else it was dry. I have not seen the grass/plants along the road side so dry.

Friday was another apartment inspection day. I left just after 8 this morning so I was back in the early afternoon. I signed another lease renewal today. When I got back to the office Leona helped me load up a bed and extra box springs. I delivered them to missionaries about 30 minutes north.

Just as we were about to leave the office for the day we received a phone call from an elder who had locked their keys in the trunk of their car. Elder Stringfellow normally handles those kind of car issues but they have family in town and left the office early today. Anyway, we figured out which spare keys to take and off I went. It was rush hour traffic but I did make good time. The elders had gone to some other missionaries apartment so when I got to their car I phoned them. They were so thankful to get their keys and be able to get back to their schedule. Another long day but a great day to be in the Texas Houston Mission.

Sister Stringfellow's brother and sister-in-law spent the night with us. She has several family members in town for the weekend.

Saturday was a BIG shopping day. We went to Krogers, Sam's, HEB, Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and Old Town Spring (looking for fabric). Nothing short of a miracle that I was able to shop so much and live to tell about it. We ate an early dinner at Chipotles and visited with the senior sisters for a while this evening. Very hot and windy today, but not so humid - everything is so dry.

I forgot to set my cell phone to vibrate in church today and of course it rings during sacrament meeting. I have it set to "wake the dead" setting so I can hear it, which makes is even louder when someone is speaking in sacrament meeting. I could not get out the door soon enough! We had planned to have 11 sister missionaries over for dinner this evening and the call was to tell us that the planned baptism had been changed and could they come earlier to dinner! I said yes and when I told Leona about the change of plan we quickly and quietly slipped out while they were singing the intermediate song. We had 9 sisters actually come for dinner. It was fun to be with them and to see their love for each other. We had a good visit/lesson after we ate. Great missionaries we will miss them. In the future, when the time is right, we pray that our grandchildren will find eternal companions just like the young elders and sisters that we have grown to love here.

A wonderful week in Texas - so blessed to be missionaries. We love this work and are blessed to be doing what we are doing.

Have a safe week. We love you and are thankful for you.


Dad & Mom

Sunday, May 22, 2011

93 Post Mon. May 16 - Sunday May 22, 2011

Another Monday and another week gone by way too fast! Apartment issues, utility changes and paying the bills filled our day. I did go out to get the truck and van fueled up for tomorrow and discovered that the wiring for the trailer had either been cut or worn completely through. I found some wire, connectors and the tools I needed in the garage. I got the wires fixed and power to the trailer lights but no turn signals on the left side. I finally took the trailer down to the garage we use to service the office vehicles and they fixed the lights for me. When we pull the trailer with the van it makes for a long "vehicle". We went shopping this evening for missionary dinner and breakfast items for the next few days - this is transfer week.

Tuesday - transfer day! We were at the office before 7:30 this morning. Not many being transferred in the College Station area so the AP's drove the truck up there. They scheduled me to drive the van and trailer to make the Katy/Mills Road Chapel run. I had 8-10 missionaries and all their things at each leg of the journey. I depart the mission office and drive to the Bear Creek Chapel in the Katy area and drop off missionaries and pick up others. We then go to the Mills Road Chapel and unload and load others and then drive back to the mission office. There were lots of missionaries in the office today. Many came to say goodbye to departing missionaries. It is hard to get much done with so many in the office, but we enjoy visiting with the missionaries and to see those we do not see very often. Leona made a big batch of sloppy joes for lunch for those going home, but of course others in the office get fed also. The departing missionaries' testimony meeting was very good. We have some really good sisters and elders going home, they will be missed. After the testimony meeting they all go through a session at the temple. Leona and I go to set up the dinner. Leona's Texas shaped cookies are always a hit. We enjoy being around the departing missionaries in that setting. Hard to see them go. The parents and step parents of one elder from Highland, Utah were there (they even traveled to Houston together). I asked if any were from AF and the step dad said he was from Lehi. I asked did he take shop and he looked at my name tag and said Mr. Walker. He did have dad as a teacher and said that Mr. Walker saved him from cutting off his fingers. By the time we clean up and get back home it is late. A long day but so enjoyable - we are so blessed to be missionaries.

Wednesday I spent doing apartment paper work. I have 4 new apartments to get ready (paper work) by the end of the month. The new missionaries came in this afternoon. Four Spanish speaking sisters, and 7 English speaking elders. One elder is from Hong Kong. He has been in the MTC in Provo learning English. The office staff give the arrivals a short orientation of what we do and have them fill out various papers. I also take a picture of them that I use for the photo board and the transfer board in the President's office. Sisters Young and Nance from the employment center were in charge of the dinner for the new missionaries and the missionaries that will be taking them tracking or teaching this evening. We walked over to the church to see how the meal was going. There was lots of food so we ate with them. The sisters had fixed colorful center pieces and things really looked great. This evening I ran some errands and Leona cooked 6 lbs. of bacon, made syrup and got things ready for tomorrow morning.

Thursday we were up early and to the Mission Home before 7 AM. We made French toast and got the fruit and bacon & sausage ready by 8 AM. We fed about 24 or so. The trainers are invited and of course the new missionaries are there. After breakfast President Hansen announces the new companionships, I then take pictures of Pres & Sister Hansen and each new missionary to send home to their parents. I also do a couple of group shots for the history and then they are off to the temple. After things are cleaned up we stop by the drug store to get copies made of the pictures to put in the mail. Sisters Donkin, Ang, Porter, Perez & Ferro (3'some) are all trainers. It seems just like yesterday those sisters arrived in the field.

At breakfast this morning Elder Galbraith was telling of his experience last evening tracking with Elder Yu, our new missionary from Hong Kong. It seems that some weeks ago Elder Galbraith (EG) and Elder Scoresby(ES) tracked this couple out that seemed interested in the gospel, but the husband was very busy and wanted them to come back in 3 weeks. They spoke Mandarin and some English. When Elder Yu and EG were put together for the evening EG thought it has not been 3 weeks but maybe we should go by this couple's home anyway. The woman answered the door and seemed a bit annoyed at which point EG apologized, but told her he wanted her to meet Elder Yu. Elder Yu began to speak to her in Mandarin and she just lit up. She was so excited. She invited them in, the husband was busy, but again when Elder Yu spoke to him he too got excited to have them stay. EG said he did not understand the "lesson", but sure felt the spirit. He said this couple was truly golden. Elder Yu was scheduled to arrived some months ago, but with visa issues and needing more MTC language time he did not arrive until now - AFTER EG and ES found this couple. The Lord has His hand in this work and is so mindful of ALL His children.

Friday we paid bills, sorted out utility issues, updated apartment inspection check lists for next week, and continued working to complete the new tracking sheets for the new mission president. I delivered a package to one of the missionaries that needed to receive it right away. We were on the go all day. What a wonderful experience this is.

Saturday morning I ran to the store and the post office to mail all the letters(and photos) to parents of new missionaries that Leona had prepared. We decided to go down to the Houston Museum of Science. We went to the butterfly exhibit. That was very interesting to see all the many varieties and colorful butterflies and moths. The huge enclosure is made up of tropical trees and plants with the butterflies everywhere. We also went to a couple of the iMax presentations, TRex of the Sea, and Born to be Free (about orphaned elephants and orangutans and those who raise them so they can return to the wild). We enjoyed our day together.

Sunday, a day of rest - thank goodness! The Sacrament Meeting talks were good. A recent convert spoke about going to the temple. She was baptized in April, conference weekend, and has been to the temple every Saturday since doing baptisms and enjoying the peaceful Spirit there. She said each time she goes she does not want to leave. She is so enthused about the gospel. She invites and brings many to church with her that she meets at work and at her apartment complex, she is an example of being a missionary to everyone. Another speaker told his story of conversion, he said when growing up his best friend was a member and invited him often to activities and church ball games. After he married, he and his wife were trying to find a church to attend and his wife suggested one Sunday morning "why don't we attend the Mormon church". He said that it was the small things that his member friend and church members did for him that made him want to investigate the church when he was older. He made the comment that sometimes we do not ever know what influence we have or the harvest that we help to create - by small and simple things, great things come to pass. Great talks, lots to think about and to work on.

Hope you have a great week and a safe week. We love and pray for each of you every day.


Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 15, 2011

92nd Post Mon May 9 - Sunday May 15, 2011

We spent Monday paying bills, preparing forms, for a perspective new missionary apartment and running errands. We are also trying to clean up files/records of security deposits -some go back many years. Lots of missionaries in and out of the office today. Leona was in my office this afternoon preparing new missionary study binders. Two sister missionary came in the office to visit and ask questions. The one sister goes home next week. She was asking about marriage and how do you know when you find the right person. We had an enjoyable discussion with two very good sisters that are very faithful missionaries. We held FHE at the Stringfellows this evening. Sister Stringfellow showed the new Joseph Smith DVD. What a faithful person he was, and his wife and brother. The weather was hot and humid today.

Tuesday we did our typical missionary work paying bills, apartment issues, phone calls, etc. I had to make a trip up to Conroe as one apartment did not get their rent check from SLC. When I gave the apartment manager the check she said "I was going to call you." She had received a compliant about one of our sets of missionaries. The neighbor below the missionaries complained they were making lots of noise late last night. I got the details and went right over to see the missionaries. The missionaries said they had come home late and were jumping up to see if they could touch the ceiling (it is a high ceiling). In those apartments any heavy walking can be heard below let alone jumping! Anyway I had a good talk with them and I know they felt bad about the compliant. I only have had 3 real complaints about missionaries, one was a false report and the other two involved the same missionary. He is a good young man, just not real focused sometimes.

Wednesday already!!! SLOW DOWN Days!! I entered apartment data into the church's iMOS computer system, ran errands (post office, buying apt cleaning supplies, delivering medication to a missionary). Elder Stringfellow has been working on a new tracking sheet format for the new mission president. The data will come more directly from iMOS so the sheets should be more accurate. We had Sisters Smart, Ang, Donkin and Rodriguez for dinner this evening. I think they would have stayed all evening to visit with us but we sorted of told them "good-bye". They are wonderful sisters and they work is a rough part of this area speaking Spanish. Sister Rodriguez is the only native Spanish speaker. She came from Guatemala just a few years ago with her family. Her English has really improved over these many months. What a great day to be a missionary!

Thursday we continued working on the new tracking sheets, and apartment issues. I drove back down to Katy to fill out the apartment application for the Park Fall Apartments. The 4 elders in that area will move into two - one bedroom apartments. The apartment manager was new and had never done a corporate lease. I had all our insurance letters, credit letters, etc, but she was not "getting it". I told her to call two of our apartments that we have been in for some time and where we have two or more apartments on lease. One of the managers is a member of the church so that worked well when she was contacted. It really rained hard on the way back to the office. This is the first measurable amount of rain we have had in over 100 days. Things are really dry in this part of Texas.

Friday is staff meeting day. We enjoy meeting with President & Sister Hansen and the AP's. There is always such a good spirit there. President Hansen is a good mission president. We left a bit early today to get ready for the ball game. The seniors all loaded into the van and went to the Astros/NY Mets game at Minute Maid Park this evening. There were twelve of us in the van. The only ones missing were the CES missionaries from Huntsville (school is out and they had to go back to Utah for a week or so). We enjoy the evening together, the ball park food and the fireworks after. The weather was very pleasant, cool with no humidity. It was very late when we got back. The Christensons (Huntsville) stayed with us and the Buckways(College Station) stayed with the senior sisters in their spare bedroom.

Saturday the Christensens and Buckways (the senior sisters slept in) came over to our place for breakfast. We enjoyed visiting with them. This is the Buckways 2nd mission (both proselyting -first one was in Alaska). We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, making sloppy joes for transfer week, shopping, making cookies, and in general getting ready for next week. It was such a beautiful day, cool with a lite breeze. The AP's and Elders Sorenson and Gardner came by this evening to bring us the list of transfers for next week. Elder Sorenson is moving and will be a new ZL. We had ice cream and a good visit with these outstanding missionaries.

We enjoyed our meetings at church today. The talks in sacrament meeting were about missionary work and both high councilors really did a great job in covering the subject. Sisters Perez and Ferro called and invited us to the baptism this evening down at the Mills Road Chapel. We picked up the Stringfellows to go with us. The service was in a Spanish Ward but there were missionaries to translate for us so we knew what was being said. It was a great service and actually 3 people were baptized. We enjoyed a wonderful sabbath day and pray you did to.
Have a wonderful week, be careful. We love you and pray for you every day.

Love Mom & Dad

Sunday, May 8, 2011

91st Post Monday May 2 - Sunday May 8, 2011

Yet another week goes by at a "break neck speed". Lots of missionaries in and out of the office today (Monday). I was able to get a few things done. I worked on the interview schedule, that will be held in the missionary's apartments for the new mission president and put together a map to help him and the new apartment coordinator. We picked up Sister Sulski at her home this evening after work and she rode with us to the mission home for FHE. Her husband could not come because of work. The Hansen's shared with us there experience of being visited by Pres. Uchtdorf in Arizona and later with Pres. Monson via teleconference as President Hansen was called as mission president. It was a wonderful evening as the Hansens bore strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith. Just a great evening - we will miss our association with the Hansens.

Tuesday I was on on the go running errands to the post office, office supply store, picture frame store (we had the picture of the new mission president and his wife framed). Most of the day was spent dealing with apartment issues, like leases, finding new apartments, and reviewing lease/contract terms, etc. One of the sister missionary's apartment has a mouse so they were all wound up. "This is not a mouse, Elder Walker it is a rat!"they said. Well I got them a different kind of trap and told them to call their apartment manager. The manager sent the maintenance guy over right away and he pulled the dishwasher out, plugged the hole in the wall, and yes they did see the "rat" - just a poor little mouse. The maintenance guy put out some traps and sticky pads - so far no other rat problems. This evening we went over to the pond to feed the ducks. There are no more baby duck to be found. Something is getting them. The weather is so nice, lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s.

Wednesday I drove back down to the Katy area to check out apartments. Spent most all day looking at apartments and talking with apt managers. I found a couple that should work so I called the elders and they were at their apartment just about ready to fix some lunch. I invited them to go to lunch with me and to talk about the apartment options. They enjoyed lunch and having some input into the decision on where to move. I also went by a brake shop in the Bear Creek area and paid the bill for a missionary car repair (Elder Stringfellow was at ZL council serving lunch). Another beautiful day to be a missionary.

Thursday I mounted a bulletin board in my office and put up the apartment map I have been working on. The map shows the 55 apartments all over the mission. We got word of 5 more missionaries coming over the next several months so I worked on getting their photos ready.

Friday we had staff meeting with the Hansens. The opening hymn was "Hark All Ye Nations". The Hansens are good singers so the group sounded good, but more importantly the hymn "felt" really good. A wonderful spirit in our meeting.

We had a young man come into the office this afternoon. What an interesting story. The young man had been searching on the Internet for information about Jesus. He found a reference that said the book that has the most references to Jesus was the Book of Mormon, so he started to read the BofM on line. He became convinced of its truth and wanted to know more. He went to the temple, walked inside and told them what he had come for, they sent him to the distribution center at the temple ??. Anyway, he wanted information but he did not want the missionaries to come to where he lived. The sister at the distribution office called the mission office and we told him that he could come to the mission office and we could give him things to read and study. He got to what he thought was the mission office but it was really the church building next door and of course it was locked. He then walked over to the LDS employment center and they walked with him to the mission office-finally he got to the right place. Elder Harris and Vehers (ZL's) were in the office when this young man arrived, so they began to teach him. Elder Harris told me later, "the man is just golden". He wanted to know why the church was "not out there", why were we not doing more to let people know about the truth, etc. He said he was going to go the Baptist church near his home and tell them they were all wrong - the missionaries cautioned him about that approach. The missionaries asked him where he lived - they thought "such a golden contact" and he probably lives out of our mission. Well it turns out he not only lives in our mission, he lives in Elders Harris & Vehrs area - how great was that!!! The missionaries were so excited as they were telling me about this whole experience - they hope he comes to church Sunday.

Elder & Sister Christenson from Huntsville spent the night with us. They have a nephew who is getting his temple work done and he and his wife and young daughter will be sealed tomorrow morning.

Saturday we got up and fixed a nice breakfast and enjoyed a long visit with the Christenson's before they had to depart for the temple. What great people they are. Elder Christenson served his mission in PA/DE area and remembers Bishop Ted Johnson in Wilmington - small world.

We cleaned up the apartment, washed the car and did some shopping. This afternoon the Stringfellows, and Sisters Nance & Young and us all went up to Conroe for dinner - Mother's Day celebration. After the "all you can eat" at Ryan's we drove up to Lake Conroe to walk along the marina area and enjoy the very warm evening.

Sunday, and we had a leasurely morning; we thought, in January, that having a church start time of 12:30pm would not be so good but we have discovered that we like it alot! There were many talks today on the blessing of "mothers". I am thankful for my mother and the lessons I learned from her and for her love for me. At the end of sacrament meeting they gave each mother a homemade blueberry muffin that the young women had made. Then after church the other ward was just leaving the chapel and a young man was handing small bags of candy to the mothers and he gave one to me and wished me "happy Mother's Day". Two treats, phone calls from each of our children, and dinner with my sweetheart-I couldn't ask for anything better! It has been another wonderful day and week in Texas!

We love you and our prayers are always with you. Have a great week.


Dad and Mom

Sunday, May 1, 2011

90th Post Mon April 25 - Sunday May 1, 2011

Monday we were in the office early after running our 2 1/4 miles on the treadmill and getting ready for work. Lots of new missionaries coming the next few transfers so I worked on the photos, and apartment lease issues (several coming due this month and next). The missionaries were in and out of the office most of the day picking up their mail and packages. They also had questions about the scriptures, about my first mission, about "what would you do with this investigator", about school, etc. Of course I am not short on answers so it was another good day. Sister Walker's alteration shop is always open for the missionaries and today was no exception. She also told some of the sisters who were in the office that we would bring ice cream to them at the park where their zone was going to have p-day activities. She had things to be done in the office so I was sent on the errand. I stopped on the way to pick up ice, bottled water, and ice cream treats. It was hot and windy so the missionaries really were thankful for my "stopping by". We enjoy so much our association with the young missionaries.

Tuesday I drove out I-10 to Sealy to try and find an apartment complex that will do corporate leases and that have one bedroom apartments. I had called one place the other day and they said they had all I was looking for. When I got there I recognized the place as the same place I stopped one year ago with the same questions and was told they do not do corporate leases. The manager was upset that I had been given bad information. Anyway the apartments looked OK and were available in the time frame I need them so I spent time filling out the paper work. There are very few choices in Sealy for acceptable apartments. I stopped back in Katy and looked in the north part of town for apartments to move the Kenwood Club at the Park elders to. Lots of apartments, many way too expensive, some not in a location that would be central for the four elders (2 on bikes and 2 have a car) and just one or two that may fit our needs. Spent most all day looking and talking with apartment managers. Warm and humid today.

Wednesday when we arrived at the mission office and checked email, we discovered that we now have 14 more new missionaries coming over the next few months! I worked on their photos and many apartment lease issues.

Our replacements (the Bowcutts) are bringing their 5-wheel to live in so they will not need our apartment. The senior sisters want to move from their apartment into our 2 bedroom apartment and since both leases are due the end of May it will work out well. I talked to the manager of our apartment complex and she will work with us on transferring our expiring lease to the sisters.

A lady came in the office this afternoon and asked for a blessing, she had just had a root canal. I was the only priesthood holder in the office at the time so we talked for awhile. Elders Harris and Vehrs, the North Zone Leaders, stopped in just at the right time. I annointed and Elder Harris sealed. He gave her a wonderful blessing of health and then blessed her that she would be a light to her family (it was like out of no where when he said that). The blessing was ended and she was in tears. It turns out she has been trying for some time to keep members of her family active in the church. She received the blessing that she needed, it may not result in the outcome she wanted, but if she continues faithful, it will be in the Lord's way and time. She was very thankful for the blessing. What amazing missionaries we have, they are very faithful and obedient and close to the Spirit - we love them.

Thursday I called all the apartments that have leases due the end of May to check on rent increases, etc. I then sent a fax confirming our intentions to renew the lease and stating the name that should be on the lease: The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Utah Corporation Sole. We use to do leases in the name of the Texas Houston Mission, but that is not a legal entity of the church. I also worked on a schedule of missionary interviews, in the missionary's apartments, for the new mission president. That should be very interesting. Most of the information can be down loaded from iMOS into a spreadsheet.

One of Sister Sulski's responsibilities is the missionary information sheets. Elder Stringfellow has been working on a new format that will be used. We are each going to help with this project to get all the current missionaries in the new format; then Sister Sulski will be able to keep up. Today I started on my assigned missionary information sheets. They are very time consuming but interesting as you read through their (missionary's) papers. They are amazing young adults; one I completed today is supporting himself - $400 per month. That is alot of money to save before you start your mission. Their testimonies are strong, it is a blessing for us to serve with them. The church is in good hands, they will be great leaders, fathers, and mothers.

We did not leave the office until after 6pm this evening. A long day, but we are so grateful to be here.

Friday, when we went to excercise early this morning and turned on the TV the station was broadcasting the royal wedding in England. We watched the very end as we were pretending to "run". The inside of the cathedral was very beautiful, lots of people inside and outside, choir singing and orchestra playing and of course a beautiful couple. The thought crossed my mind of mine and Steven's eternal marriage. The quiet beautiful temple, the proper priesthood authority, a small group of family and being sealed together forever. I am so thankful for the gospel for the knowledge and testimony of eternal families. The royal wedding in England was beautiful and the world looked on thinking that the young couple had everything but they are missing the most important part - the gospel and proper priesthood authority that binds families together eternally. I am thankful for that blessing.

At the office had our staff meeting with the Hansen's and the AP's. President Hansen said that he had just concluded the last of his interviews with all the missionaries - for the last time before they are released. He told of one experience where one elder came in and sat down and asked Pres. Hansen if this was his last interview with him, when Pres. Hansen confirmed it was the elder began to weep. President Hansen said at that point they both stood and embraced each other (Pres Hansen always embraces the elders when he greets them) and just held each other for about 10 minutes. "This was the only interview that I have ever had with a missionary where no words were spoken, but where "volumes" were communicated", President Hansen said.

There were lots of missionaries in the office before and after district meetings today. The Spanish District from the North Zone came in well after lunch and were talking about where they were all going to go for lunch. Leona suggested I take them to lunch and she would stay in the office with Sister Sulski our new mission secretary. The four elders rode with me and the 4 sisters followed us down to Sam's Club (that is where they wanted to go). They really enjoyed the pizza, soda and ice cream shakes. Good missionaries all of them. Another beautiful day to be a missionary.

Saturday is a special day, a day to get ready for Sunday, so that is what we did in the morning. We met the Stringfellows over to the office and drove out to Tomball together. We met Elders Martin and Bateman and took them to lunch. It was Elder Martin's birthday (he served in the office with us one transfer and trained the Stringfellows). We enjoyed our visit with them.

Leona and I are reading Pres. Monson's book "To the Rescue". What a wonderful man he is and a real blessing he is the prophet at this time in history. He truely has spent his life serving and rescuing others.

It is always a blessing to attend church. There were many testimonies shared, the Spirit was very strong in Fast and Testimony meeting. There are alot of great members in the Olde Oaks Ward.

Another great week and it went by very quickly. Dan and Melissa Vincent were going to come for a visit this past weekend but Melissa decided to take up the roofing business - bless her heart she has shingles. We were disappointed that they could not come and we pray for a speedy recovery for Melissa.

We love each of you. Have a safe week.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, April 24, 2011

89th Post Monday April 18 - Sunday April 24, 2011

Good Monday morning. We pray that all is well with you and your family. We are doing great here in the Texas Houston Mission. The new mission secretary, Sister Sulski came today. She is a church service missionary and lives in our ward, the Olde Oaks Ward. She will be great and seems to fit right in. I spent the day on apartment issues, leases & updates, straighten up the garage, ran some errands and visited with the many missionaries that came in the office today. For FHE we went over to the Sister's apartment. I had the lesson so we talked about the parables in Luke 15, the poem read in General Conference by Elder Maynes by CC Miller, "The Echo" about the sheep and the lambs and then one of my favorite poems by Joseph Malines, "The Fence or the Ambulance". We had a good discussion.

Tuesday, we talked to David and wished him a happy birthday. He is twenty six today - the years have gone by quickly, we are thankful for him.

I drove out west to Katy and Sealy inspecting apartments. I also stopped by and signed another 12 month lease at the Platinum Apartments. Those folks are very nice and enjoy the missionaries (we have sisters at that location).

This evening we were invited over to Perry and Celeste Dobson's home for dinner. They had also invited Becky and Gary Chapman (Perry and the Chapmans were in Arabia with us). We had a great time catching up on their families, remembering friends and Arabia.

It has turned of warm and humid so I guess our cool weather is gone.

Wednesday I inspected apartments in Magnolia, Tomball, and the area around the office. The apartments looked good for the most part. Some missionaries just have never had to do much cleaning up after themselves, but they are learning now. I signed two more leases today. That is always a good experience as the managers have such good things to say about the missionaries.

The Houston Zone missionaries came and did service at the mission office this morning. They weeded, raked, filled many large black bags with yard waste, picked up fallen limbs, planted flowers, and spread mulch. They worked hard and the mission office grounds sure look alot nicer!

Seems like we were running all day so we were ready to call it a day at 5 pm. Tired but another wonderful day in the mission field.

Jessica called and said Renae had pulled herself up and climbed up one stair today! It will sure be good to see our kids and grandkids-we look forward to our reunion in August.

Thursday I drove up to Conroe, Huntsville, Montgomery, and the Woodlands inspecting apartments. At the last apartment the sisters had left us an Easter Basket and a note thanking us for all we do for them - very thoughtful. It was late in the afternoon when I got back, but I did get some files updated and Sister Sulski's picture taken and formatted for the photo and tracking boards. What a blessing to be able to serve this mission - we love it!! Hot and humid today.

Friday I spent most of the day updating my apartment inspection files, apartment spreadsheets and lease information. Lots of details to worry about, there must be a easier way, but I am use to the current method and it "works" - I think! Lots of missionaries in the office today as it is their district meetings over at the church. They stop by the office to check on the mail and to make sure we are working. We left early today to go to the temple. For me the temple is such a peaceful place. Particularly today I found it very peaceful and uplifting to be there. What a blessing to have the temple so close. We did not have staff meeting this morning as President and Sister Hanson's kids are in town to celebrate Sister Hanson's birthday.

We enjoyed our p-day, doing the laundry, shopping (a couple of times - one can never shop enough!), cleaning the apartment and feeding the ducks. Something must be eating the baby ducks as there are not very many left. We also fixed dinner for four elders this evening, Elders Scoresby, Galbraith (AP's), Sorenson (DL), and Vehers (ZL). They are really good young men and wonderful missionaries. We enjoy them so much. They always have a very spiritual message to leave with us.

Sunday, Happy Easter! Attending church is the highlight of the week. The Sacrament meeting talks were very good. Each spoke of our Savior and His willingness to atone for our sins. What a great blessing that is, the chance to repent and try to become more like Him.

The Stringfellows and Sister's Young and Nance came and ate dinner with us this evening. I should say, Sister Nance came late because she was napping at 5:00pm and was too tired - would rather sleep than eat - that is hard to imagine! Anyway, we had a nice evening and a nice Easter dinner.

Have a great week. We love you and you are always in our prayers. Be safe.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, April 17, 2011

88th Post Mon April 11 - Sunday April 17, 2011

Monday morning we were up extra early to exercise, get ready and then travel to MD Anderson. Leona had an consultation appointment for a colonoscopy - which she is looking forward to. The trip down was right at rush hour but we made good time until we hit 59 south to the 288 turn off, just three or four miles but it took 25 minutes. The appointment went well and the Dr was on time. When we returned to the office we answered emails, paid bills, handled apartment issues, visited with the missionaries as they came into the office and ran a few errands. For FHE we BBQ'ed burgers and hot dogs at the office - the Stringfellows, us and Sisters Young and Nance. A very pleasant evening, sitting on the back porch of the mission office and visiting.

As we drove into the apartment complex we saw a large woodpecker land in a tree so I turned the car around to get a closer look. It was an pileated woodpecker, the largest of the wood peckers. They have a very bright red top knot - the Woodywood Pecker type.

Tuesday I started the next round of apartment inspections. They all looked good except one. Worked on files and recently assigned missionary photos. A beautiful day, cool this morning and just warm this afternoon. A great day to be a full time missionary. We got word that they have called a church service missionary to take Sister Marsh's place in the office. She will start this coming Monday.

Wednesday I attended Zone Leaders Council at the invitation of President Hansen to make a followup presentation on I went up to the Glenn Loch Farms building and helped the Stringfellows set up for the missionary lunch. Leona made a big batch of very good brownies. While the group was eating I set up in the RS room and made sure the Internet connection, etc was working. is a great site and a wonderful missionary tool. You need to check it out and complete a profile. I think the discussion we had went well and Pres Hansen is always very complimentary about my teaching and approach. Back at the office I loaded up the truck with supplies for tomorrow's apartment run, helped Leona with the mail and phones, and worked on apartment lease issues. Another wonderful day in the Texas Houston Mission - we are so blessed to be here. It is a 23 month second honeymoon - we don't want it to end!!

Thursday I left the office right after our prayer meeting and drove to College Station/Bryan, then to Brenham, and Waller checking apartments. I drove over 22o miles on this apartment trip. The apartments looked good for the most part. I had several cases of Books of Mormon and other supplies for the missionaries. Many of the missionaries were home as it is their planning day. It is always fun to visit with them, especially if there are apartment cleaning issues that need attention - I do have fun with that!

A member (artist) from Sealy, TX, delivered two paintings to the office that he had done for President and Sister Hansen. They are beautiful. One is a field of bluebonnets (flowers) that come up in the spring time, we enjoy them on our trips to College Station. The other painting is four missionaries - Elders Bone, Lang, Shaw and Maughan walking on a dirt road in Sealy. The mission truck is in the distant backgound with their bikes on the back. The scripture that goes with the painting is D&C 84:88 "And whoso receiveth you there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. In the painting you can see next to Elder Maughan, the face of his grandfather who died while Elder Maughan was serving his mission. The story is that this grandfather was a big part of why Elder Maughan came on his mission. Next to Elder Shaw there is an angel (a relative) and walking in front of the four Elders is Christ. You can see the nail prints in one of His feet. It is a beautiful picture and has great meaning. We asked the artist if we could come visit his studio and he said yes - another thing to be sure to do before we leave Texas.

We stayed late at the office this evening as Leona had payment items to deal with. A long, but great missionary day.

Friday I left the office just after 8 am, even before staff meeting as I wanted to catch some missionaries at home to help unload bikes and beds. The elder that needed a bike was at home so he was able to get it out of the truck. I missed the elder that needed a new box springs, they had early district meeting. Friday is district and or zone meetings day. It was encouraging that some of the apartments that really needed attention last inspection looked very good this time. I got back to the office just after lunch time. The mission van needed a bit of cleaning so I vacuumed it out and cleaned the windows. There is so much pollen from the trees and settles on the vehicles and turns them a "dusty shade of green". Anyway we loaded up the senior missionaries and headed to Huntsville. All the seniors and the Hansens met at the Sam Houston State University Institute building for dinner. The Stringfellow and us from the office, Sisters Young & Nance from the Employment office, Elder & Sister Peacock from the bishop's storehouse (managers), the Buckways from Bryan (member support and leadership mission), the Christensons (Huntsville) member support and leadership, the Nagels who are CES missionaries at the institute, Sister Nagel's, sister and brother in law (Brother & Sister Payne -he is the Provost at SHSU) and their neighbors were all gather for a wonderful New Orleans Jambalaya dinner. We had a wonderful visit then went over to the newly opened performing arts center on campus to watch the US Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants perform. We have seen this group perform in DC and really enjoyed them. They did not do as much patriotic music as I would have liked but a great performance none the less. At the end they had all the veterans stand as they performed each of the 5 branches of the military's "song". The conductor, Lt. Col. Waite, thanked each group for our service and saluted each group in turn. A touching tribute with color guard and all, a beautiful evening. There were enough senior missionaries there, in "uniform", that they could have played "When the Saints Come Marching Home" and had us all stand, but alas they did not.

Saturday we did our normal reading, cleaning, shopping, and errand running. A much warmer day - I think we are headed for summer.

Sunday morning we went over early to feed the ducks at the lake. There must have been 40 or so baby ducks all following their mothers around. What a sight.

Wonderful, inspiring talks in Sacrament meeting this morning about the blessings of the temple. Ace Endicott spoke, he is the son of Necka Beck Endicott, who we knew when she lived in Delaware. He bore a sweet testimony about when he walked through the temple doors to do baptisms for the dead and how he felt so good and warm and felt his real mother's arms around him. Ace has special needs and loves everyone and loves attending church. He is an inspiration to all each Sunday. President Hansen has given Ace a Texas Houston MIssion pin and he wears it proudly.

Happy Birthday to Christine today. Christine was born on a beautiful Sunday morning, just as it was today. We are so thankful for her and her example to our family.

We hope you each have a good week. Be careful. We love you with all our hearts and thankful for you and all you do.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, April 10, 2011

87th Post Mon April 4 - Sunday April 10, 2011

Can it be transfer week already? I left right after prayer meeting this morning to go help Elder & Sister Thomas move out of their apartment. They are the employment missionaries that replaced us. They lived a couple of miles closer to the Bering Church than we did when we lived "down town". Steve Stotts the employment manager had rented a large U-Haul truck to make the move. I needed to get furniture to Elder & Sister Buckway who just arrived and were assigned to the Bryan/College Station area as member support missionaries. There were 4 elders from the South Mission at the Thomas' to load the truck, it all went fairly well. After we got all the stuff into the truck I drove to College Station, about 2 hours north. The wind was blowing hard and it rain some on the way. I felt like I was pushing the accelerator so hard it was into the radiator and still was not moving very fast. What a trip. The gas gauge lay out was very confusing so I was not sure if I had 1/4 of a tank or it was empty. Well out in the middle of no where, on the freeway, the truck started to sputter, then I knew. Way up ahead I could see a gas sign so I pulled off the next "country exit". So off the freeway I went but the sign was up at the next exit (you had to have been there) and right back on the freeway with the truck sputtering the whole way. I was praying so hard just let there be enough gas to make it. The next exist seemed 100 miles away, but as I went down the exist ramp there was a major cross road ahead and a gas station just on the other side. The truck was now stopping and starting. I prayed even harder that no cars would be coming as I knew if I stopped at the stop sign I would never get the truck across the road. I looked both ways and not a vehicle was any where in sight so I coasted across the road and directly into the station and up to the closest pump where the truck died and I almost did too! What a blessing. I put $75 of gas in the truck (the pump cut off at that amount) and off I went. I got to the Buckways and 7 of our missionaries arrived shorty after (3 sisters and 4 elders). They had the truck unloaded in just a few minutes. Elder Scoresby, the College Station Zone Leader rode back to the office with me as he is the new AP. We enjoyed our ride and visit together, until he fell asleep. He had been up most of last night worried and thinking about his new assignment. I stopped and put another $124 of gas in the truck and it was still not full. The wind was behind us and so the truck moved along a lot better, I felt more like I was driving it rather than herding it. The seniors came over for root beer floats this evening. The Thomas are staying with us until they depart Wednesday morning. I went to the store to get fresh fruit for the dinner at the temple tomorrow evening. A long but wonderful day in the mission field.
Transfer day and the weather was beautiful. We always start each day as the office staff with prayer and we always gather in the President's office to have prayer. There were several missionaries in the office early because of transfers so we invited them to join us. Elder Mackey, our ASL (deaf) missionary offered the prayer in sign language. What a beautiful experience that was. At first I closed my eyes but then I thought how will I know when to say amen? So I watched Elder Mackey; his eyes were closed and his hands were speaking. I felt the Spirit and my heart was full of gratitude for my blessings and for the priviledge of serving a mission and having our morning prayer with the missionaries. Elder Mackey's prayer was so pure - I did not hear it with my ears but I saw and felt it in my heart.

We have 10 missionaries leaving, 9 arriving (tomorrow), plus all the other changes, which were a lot. The office is just a beehive of activity all day. The transfer bus was late getting back from College Station so I was late leaving for the Bear Creek Chapel (near the Katy area). I hustled the missionaries with their loading and unloading so I did get back for the departing testimonies. My route is from the office to the Bear Creek Chapel, then to the Mills Road Chapel and back to the office. Loading and unloading luggage, bikes and missionaries along the way. The departing missionaries testimonies were so good. They really have changed during their service. Elder & Sister Thomas also participated, we will miss them a lot. After the testimony meeting they went to the temple. Leona and I went back to the office for a while and then loaded up stuff for the dinner at the temple. We served 19 people; there was one guest, a father of one of the elders come to pick up his son. The dinner was great and Leona's THM cookies are always a big hit (especially with Pres Hansen).

As the missionaries were about to leave the temple cafeteria - the Elders were standing by the door and President Hansen was with them. Leona asked President Hansen if she could give the Elders a hug goodby (it has only been handshakes up until now). He said, "Sister Walker, you can give them a motherly hug", so that is what she did. Elder Barlow was first in line and as she held her arms wide he look at her and then at President Hansen and said "Is it alright?" and President Hansen said "yes" so Elder Barlow gave her a hug and said "thank you for all you have done for me, I love you". Elder Barlow is such an obedient missionary, always wants to do everything right. How we are going to miss these 10 missionaries!

It is late by the time we clean up, take the cooler back the Sister Tamya's home and drive back to our apartment. It was a very cool morning and nice all day. Another good day to be a missionary.

Wednesday the new missionaries arrived about 2 pm. What a wonderful group they are. Eight elders and one sister. One of the elders is from Alpine (Elder Asay). One is from here in Texas (his parents drove him here as he did not go to the MTC). He arrived before the others, so when I went out to the driveway to greet them I put my arms around him and told him how much we had looked forward to having him serve with us. He told me he had looked forward to this his whole life. You could just see how proud his parents were. As a matter of fact when we went into the office we gave him his name tag and he put it on and turned around to face his parents, his mother about lost it as did the rest of us. What a sweet spirit there was at that time. He will make such a good missionary. While we waited for the others to arrive I took this good elder and his parents over to the welfare complex to meet the employment Sisters, see the bishops storehouse and to tour the peanut butter cannery. Randy, the cannery manager, was there and gave us a real up close and personal tour of the operation. Our guests really were thankful for the experience. The peanuts are grown on the church farm over near where these folks live.

After the others arrived, the office staff did our little orientation, had them fill out paper work, and I took photos for the transfer and picture boards. I worked on getting those pictures formatted and mounted until about 6:30. Leona had gone home to start cooking bacon for tomorrow's mission home breakfast.

Thursday we were up extra early and up to the mission home before 7 am. We fix a nice french toast, bacon, sausage, and fruit breakfast for the new missionaries and their companions, etc. There were 28 at breakfast this morning. Five big loaves of bread, 6 pounds of bacon and 4 pounds of sasuage and a very large bowl of fruit. They do love the breakfast. The butter milk syrup is especially a big hit. After breakfast Pres Hansen announces companionships (that is always exciting to see the missionaries reaction), I then take photos of the new missionaries and the Hansen (to send to the parents) and a couple of group shots. This group of missionaries seems so ready to go to work - they are great. One missionary's parents are divorced, father is not a member and mother has asked to have her name removed from the records. Not much support at all but so ready and excited to serve - what a faithful missionary. Another one has been home from his first mission about 10 months (went home early) and is now back ready to finished the mission he started in South America.

Back to the mission office, we stayed very busy getting our photos ready and mailed, updating iMOS and all our other records. We took the letters to the new missionaries' parents up to the mission home this evening for Pres Hansen to sign (he will not be in the office tomorrow). He sat and visited with us for sometime. There were some issues that were weighing on his mind and he just likes to talk things through sometimes. As we left he thanked us for our service (as he always does) and for the wonderful "home teaching visit". What a heavy weight the mission presidents carry

Friday was a busy day of updating apartment files, apartment inspection sheets and just getting things in order for next week. Leona always has much to do keeping up with all the bills and with Sister Marsh gone she is answering the phone all the time. I help a little bit with that and with the mail. It was a long day so we decided to go to dinner with the Stringfellows this evening. After we went back to their place for ice cream and to play Yahtzee. It was a fun evening even though Leona won both games (as usual). Much warmer and humid today.

Saturday we did our laundry, shopping, reading and all the other P-day stuff. We even made flight reservations for our trip to Utah. FYI - We depart PHL Monday July 25 and return Monday Aug 8 (well actually Aug 9 at 1:30 AM !!). We went over to feed the ducks this evening. The pair of mallards have baby ducks and are they ever little.

It is always a blessing to attend church. I am thankful for being born in America and the many freedoms that we enjoy and so often take for granted. I am thankful for those serving our country, helping to preserve those freedoms.

We took a loaf of bread and fed the ducks at the pond. There were five baby ducks last night but only four tonight! They are fun to watch and to watch their mother and father guard and keep them together and safe.

We pray for your safety. Safe guard your families and homes from the worldly influences that surround them. We love you. Have a good week.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, April 3, 2011

86th Post Monday Mar 28 - Sunday April 3,2011

Can it be Monday again so soon? Where does the time go? We are so blessed to be here at this place and time. We love our mission. I updated the ever present apartment files, bought apartment cleaning supplies and signed another 12 month lease down at the Concord at Little York apartments. The new management there really seems to be trying to clean the place up and it does show. I went over to the employment office for a few minutes to chat with Elder & Sister Thomas and just for fun compare our old employment list with their current one. There were not many candidates from our list that are still on the current list. The Thomas now use the new employment computer system to track all their candidates. We were going in that direction when we were transferred to the office.

I drove the van and the senior missionaries up to the mission home for FHE. All the senior missionaries were there except Sister Marsh. We had a wonderful dinner and visit. The Thomas are completing their mission next week and we welcomed Sister Nance. What a wonderful day and it was even cool (I opened the apartment windows this morning it was so nice).

Tuesday I got my apartment inspection forms updated, worked on tracking board photos for the new senior missionaries, ran some errands and bought what I needed to repair an all wood dinning table. The base (round table) had split and one of the legs was broken off. A couple of elders came by as I was out in front of the office garage fixing the table and after watching me for awhile asked if I was a "handy man" back in my employment days. I ran a bed down to the elders in the Copperfield area and made other apartment stops along the way. President Hansen was in the office for a short time today so we spent some time reviewing up coming apartment leases, apartment issues and what to do with the 3 bedroom apartment that the senior sisters are in. Sister Marsh has been transferred to the Family History Center in SLC. She leaves this Thursday.

We went out for dinner this evening with the Stringfellows, Sisters Nance and Young, also Sister Young's daughter who is visiting from SLC. We all came back to our place for ice cream (St. Patrick's Day dessert).

Wednesday I loaded up a washer and dryer, stopped at the hardware store for washer hose gaskets and dryer vent hose and hauled them all down to the ZL's in the Seasons Apartment Complex. I took our hand truck as the elders live on the 3rd floor. They were very excited to get a washer and dryer. The missionaries do not like having to use their support money for laundry. Went back to the garage and had some elders help load up several items to haul to NAM (similar to Deseret Industries). I needed to get the garage cleaned out a bit. Elder and Sister Buckway from Utah came in this afternoon. President Hansen met with them, they will be going to the Bryan/College Station area as member support missionaries. They seem like great folks (this is their 2nd mission).

This evening we walked over and fed the ducks and stopped by the senior sisters apartment to say goodbye to Sister Marsh. What a beautiful day the weather was so nice, did not get to 70 which is great. A wonderful day to be a missionary.

Thursday I left the office right after our staff prayer meeting. We are moving the English elders in Conroe out of the 2 bedroom apartment into 2 - one bedroom apartments. For the most part they were ready to move, but they had a lot of clean up to do. This apartment was one I moved the elders into almost a year ago to the day. The first few sets of elders were really hard on the place. The carpet was stained and had not been cleaned, one of the bathrooms was just filthy. After all the stuff was moved the elders spent a lot of time cleaning their apartment. One set of elders had never cleaned the tub or toilet. They got a real lesson on how to clean. They had a washer and dryer but the new apartments do not have laundry hook ups. We took the washer and dryer over to the Conroe Spanish elders place. In as much as I had to do my "dad speech" concerning keeping the new apartment cleaned up and cleaning up the old apartment, I thought "reproving at times with sharpness - showing an increase of love less he esteem thee as an enemy" - I took the 4 of them to Ryan's for lunch. The elders love Ryan's all you can eat and good food. Anyway it was a good move to get completed.

President and Sister Hansen took Sister Marsh to the airport this morning. She will serve in the Family History Center in SLC and we pray she will enjoy her new assignment.

We went shopping this evening for fresh fruit and then spent the evening cutting it all up for a BBQ the Hansen's are having at the mission home tomorrow. The West Zone missionaries are weeding, trimming and spreading new mulch at the mission home and then having lunch afterwards - the BBQ. On the run all day and into the night, but what a blessing to be a missionary.

Friday -The Stringfellows and us met with President Hansen this morning since he did not have an interview scheduled. He wanted to go over Sister Marsh's responsibilities and how we could divide them until a replacement for her could be found. Sometimes I wonder how we can do more but I have found all works out; the Lord always provides a way. Staff meeting was good, there is always a good feeling when we are together. Pres Hansen called on Steven for the spiritural thought and he did a good job as usual. President Hansen announced that Elder Miller (one of the APs) was going back to the field. He said that he was planning on keeping Elder Miller as an AP until he went home (Elder Miller) in June. There was a problem and Elder Miller said "maybe I could help" so the President is sending him. We will miss Elder Miller - he is a fine dedicated missionary.

Derek drove over from his meetings in San Antonio this evening. It was great to see him and spend the evening visiting.

The APs stopped by this evening with the new "bunny sheet" (transfer sheet). We will have a new AP, four new zone leaders, four new distict leaders and nine great trainers. I pray that each of the missionaries adjust to their new areas and companions next Tuesday. The missionaries are wonderful - the future of the church is in good hands!

Saturday - Derek left early to fly back to SLC. We are glad he was able to come even for a short time. We did our P-day jobs today and enjoyed General Conference on the Internet. The quality was so much better today than it has been in the past. We really enjoy seeing and hearing from apostles and prophets - how blessed we are. Elder Stringfellow rode over to General Priesthood meeting with me this evening. President Monson really was very direct in his counsel to young single adult men and marriage.

Sunday -We enjoyed both sessions of conference today and the music was inspiring and beautiful. One quote that struck me was "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words". Our examples are so important. I am so thankful for good parents, brothers and sisters, for our children and grandchildren and for my eternal sweetheart. I have so many wonderful righteous examples to follow. We are so blessed.

We love you and pray you each have a wonderful safe week.


Mom and Dad