Sunday, February 27, 2011

81st Post Mon Feb 21 - Sun Feb 27, 2011

It seems like transfer week comes more often than every 6 weeks. We enjoyed seeing so many missionaries in the office today, P day. They mostly come to check the mail and to send emails to their families. I repaired a bookcase (put real plywood on the back) and a vacuum. With so much going on in the office it is a bit hard to concentrate on other work. I also ran several errands, including delivering packages to missionaries in Conroe. The Stringfellows invited us over for leftovers this evening. We had a nice evening visiting with them. Sister Stringfellow seems to be dealing with her MS very well. It was a bit warm and humid today.

Tuesday was the actual transfer day. Lots of missionaries in and out, dropping some off and picking others up. Elder Stringfellow and I cleaned out the big storage closet in the AP's office while we were waiting for the transfer bus (12 passenger van with trailer) to come back from College Station. That closet had stuff from many years ago that is no longer needed or used. Our mission office is really pretty nice with lots of storage, but we have found that many of the areas have not be cleaned out or properly organized for a very long time. President Hansen asked us all to get things as organized and cleaned up as possible before the new mission president arrives this summer. I spent time out in the garage (3 car garage) cleaning up the work bench and hanging up the tools (that is something that I have experience with!). When the AP's got back from College Station I drove the transfer bus out to the Katy area dropping of and picking up missionaries at various chapels along the way. The testimony meeting for the four departing missionaries was really good. Elder Hiatt is one that goes home this transfer, we will miss him. What a great missionary and person he is. He just makes everyone better around him. Leona and I left the office early to go to the temple and set up dinner for the departing missionaries. We enjoy doing that and being around those going home one last time. The mission is loosing 4 really outstanding elders. It is late by the time we clean up at the temple and get home, but are so thankful for what we are able to do. What a blessing it is to be here and to go home tired every night.

Wednesday I worked on apartment files and went to Sam's to pick up items for Sisters Marsh and Young as they are doing the dinner at the Hafer building this afternoon for the new missionaries and those who will be taking them out proselyting this evening. The 7 new missionaries arrived early this afternoon. What an excited and good looking group they are - 4 elders and 3 sisters. The office staff did our little orientation for them and then I took individual pictures for the tracking board and picture board. Lots of bills to pay so we were a bit late leaving the office this evening. Leona cooked bacon this evening for breakfast tomorrow.

Thursday we were up early and to the mission home by about 6:45. We get the bacon (6 pounds) and sausage (4 pounds) warming in one oven and start cooking french toast on the electric grill. We did about 5 loaves of bread. All the new missionaries (the sisters stay the night at the mission home) and their trainers arrive by 8 AM so we have everything ready by then. There were about 24 or so there. It makes for a big group and lots of excitement (especially the sisters!) but so fun to watch the interaction. President Hansen announces the companionship's and I take pictures of the new missionaries and the Hansens (to send along with a letter to their parents) and then a couple of group shots for the mission newsletter. We had help cleaning up and then the missionaries are off to the temple and we head back to the office. This is a long day, but we love doing our little part in the vineyard.
David called this afternoon and told us he had been accepted to Ohio State's Fisher School of Accounting. He was excited (as much as David gets excited) and so were we. Truly an answer to lots of prayers. He plans to wait to see what other options he has before making a decision.

Friday was our turn for an interview with President Hansen. He is so kind and complimentary of what we do. I know he really appreciates how well and carefully Leona handles all the finances, he just does not have to worry about that. I took over 60 letters to the post office that Leona had prepare as a result of transfer week. A letter goes to missionaries, bishops, stake presidents and parents depending on the situation, ie if the missionary was made a district leader, zone leader, trainer or just arrived in the field. Leona does a good job of making sure the right letter goes to the right person - no small task. It was one of the elder's birthday today so when he came into the office we all sang to him and had an ice cream sandwich ( Leona makes sure I have ice cream in the freezer at the office). What a beautiful day this was, cool this morning, no humidity and being on a full time mission - it just does not get any better than this!

Saturday we cleaned up the apartment and other p-day jobs. We went into the office for a while, as Leona wanted to pay some bills and I needed to wash and clean the car. Leona went to Costco with the other senior sisters and I went over to Elder Stringfellow's apartment to watch the BYU San Diego State basketball game - that was fun as BYU won. Leona and I went out to eat and do some grocery shopping this evening. It was nice to have a "not so fast paced" day.

Sunday and we enjoyed a very inspiring Sacrament Meeting. The four young elders that serve in the Olde Oaks Ward and the ward mission leader spoke. They each did an outstanding job. Our Sunday School class had a good discussion - it was just a great day. We had invited Tosin and her husband Gide for dinner but when we saw her at church she asked if they could reschedule because of something that had come up; we told her sure. Elder Sorensen and Elder Gardner kindly said they would be glad to help eat turkey, potatoes, dressing etc when we asked if they were available.

We love being here and the missionaries and people we have met and grown to love. We love each one of you and are thankful for you. You are in our prayers each day and we know you are praying for us and we thank you for that. Have a great and safe week. Take care and be kind to those you love.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, February 20, 2011

80th Post Mon Feb 14 - Sunday Feb 20, 2011

A wonderful Monday Valentine's Day. I worked on the missionary photo's for the new mission president as requested by President Hansen. There are so many packages in the office and the local post office is giving us a bit of a hard time about forwarding them, I decided to run out to the Katy area and take a bunch of packages to the missionaries. It was P-day so the office had lots of missionaries in and out most of the day. We had made frozen fruit cups and cupcakes with a train engine on them made from Tootsie rolls and red hots. The train "smoke stack" had a little cloud above it that said "We choo-choose You" and a red heart. Needless to say the treats were a real hit.
The seniors met at the sisters apartment for dinner and FHE. We ordered our dinner from the sister that cooks the food for our departing missionary temple dinner. She fixed stuffed pork chops (stuffed with fruit and nuts - its was very good), broccoli, and rice. Sister Marsh made pecan and chocolate pies. We had a wonderful visit and meal together.

Tuesday I continued to work on the missionaries photos. I got a call from the sister missionaries in Montgomery and they believe they have bed bugs. I loaded up some "supplies" and drove up to their apartment. When I arrived they were not home so I waited for their return as they wanted me to take a table back to the garage; also I wanted to make sure they understood what they needed to do for bed bug treatment. On my way from Montgomery I stopped in Conroe and dropped more packages off at the elders apartments. While at the Forest Creek apartments I talked to the manager about moving out of the 2 bedroom and into two, one bedroom apartments. Looks like that will happen the end of next month. It was in the mid 70's today and a bit of humidity (OH NO!).
A former missionary stopped by the office today. Elder Hackett came back for a baptism. A member was taking him to the airport to return to California. Anyway, the baptism was for a young 16 year old boy that they said was amazing. There were over 180 people at his baptism - what a great support group he has!

Wednesday we left the office a bit early and when to the temple. It sure is nice to have a temple close. I saw several temple workers that we know, Randy the peanut butter factory manager, and the former bishop of the Olde Oakes Ward. The councilor in the temple presidency saw my name tag and came over and talked to me for a few minutes about our mission. It is great to be a missionary.

Thursday was another busy day. I delivered a table to the elders at Cypress Wood Crossing apts, worked on missionary photos and hauled a load of clothes down to NAM (like the DI). When the missionaries depart their luggage is usually over weight. We have bags of stuff left at the office, which I go through and either hang up for other missionaries to use or haul to NAM. The sisters, especially like to go through the "garage clothes rack" looking for a new outfit. There is a good turn over of stuff so it is worth the effort. I ran errands to the post office, the bank and to WalMart.
The local church auditor came in to do the annual audit this afternoon. Leona's financial stuff is always up to snuff so by the time he got to the rest of us he was dazzled with our files and paper work (or something like that). Anyway, after the mission president met with the auditor, he mentioned none of us would be going to jail - I was pretty worried about that.
We had an elder go home early. President Hansen took him to the airport, but the elder was at the wrong gate and missed his flight, so back to the airport to pick him up and then back the next morning for a 6 AM fight home. There is so much mental health and just emotional issues with many missionaries. The article in the March 2011 Ensign, "Preparing Emotionally for Missionary Service" is right on the money. Every parent of prospective missionaries should really read that article.

Friday in our office staff meeting President Hansen officially told us who his replacement would be. It is President Pingree, a just released stake president in the SLC area. He will be coming with 5 of their 6 children. It looks like we will miss meeting him by about a week or so. I fixed all the missionary photos in a book and mailed them to Pres. Pingree, and also ordered some maps of the mission for him.
It was Sister Rodriguez's birthday today so Leona had me run over to the store for some ice cream sandwiches. Her district has district meeting in the Hafer building so we knew they would be in the office some time today. Anyway when they all got to the office we sang happy birthday and had ice cream. Sister Rodriguez is such a sweet soul and a good missionary. Her family has only been in the USA for a couple of years.
Mike and Veloy Nelson were in town to see their newest grandchild so they called and came by to take us to lunch. It was great to catch up on their family and see them again.

Saturday Leona made sloppy joes and cookies for transfer activities this coming week. Did the washing and cleaned the apartment, ran some errands and got ready for a birthday dinner at Olive Garden for Sister Marsh. We enjoyed another dinner and visit together. The weather continues to warm up with more humidity. The AP's came by this evening for some ice cream and cookies and to drop of the transfer list for next week. There will be several new zone leaders and lots of missionaries moving. Elder Austin has been close to the office for a long time and we see him often but he is being transferred - we will miss him lots. We find ourselves getting very attached to the missionaries and when they are transferred or their mission ends it is hard for us.
Sunday, a beautiful sunny day today. We went for an early morning walk to the pond to feed the ducks. No more baby ducks! The six that were there last week must of been "lunch" for something.
The sacrament meeting talks were good, they each talked about FHE. Alot of good thoughts shared. Sometimes when you think that FHE isn't working just think again and keep trying. Time spent together, memories made and loved shared so important.
After church we ran an errand for the AP's, picked up pictures at one missionary apt. about 30 minutes away and took them to missionaries in the opposite direction 30 minutes away, we had a nice drive.
We hope you each have a good week. Be careful and express your love to your families often!
We love you,
Mom and Dad

Sunday, February 13, 2011

79th Post Mon Feb 7 - Sunday Feb 13, 2011

We enjoy Mondays as there are always lots of missionaries in and out of the office on their P-day. We love each of them and feel priviledged to serve with them. Elder Vehrs and Harris brought a loaf of whole wheat bread to the office that they had made. They said, "we want to say thank you to the senior missionaries for all you do for us". Bless their hearts, it was very kind of them to make bread on their P-day to share with us - it was very tasty! We ran some errands , worked on apartment files and even went back to the apartment for lunch, which we rarely do. We had FHE evening at the Mission Home. We enjoy being with the Hansens and the other senior missionaries. Sister Hansen said it was so nice just to sit and not worry about having to talk or "be in charge". The seniors rotate FHE assignments each week (conducting, hymns, thoughts, lesson, treats, etc) just like a real FHE!

Tuesday I went back to Cypresswood Apts to change the new apartment locations. The manager had called late Friday and moved the two 1 bedroom apartments right next door to each other. Anyway I spent some time and got the proposed locations changed to different buildings. That will be a better arrangement. The North Zone arranged to have 8 elders come by the office to do some yard clean up. The missionaries are very willing to work, but some are not real familiar with the tools of the trade, ie shovels, pruners, ax, etc. We only had one injury, an elder pulled a limb onto his head and scraped his scalp pretty good. They trimmed some branches, weeded the flower beds in front, pulled out old abandoned fence posts, and picked up trash along Hafer Road in front of the office, welfare complex, and the church. A very nice day to do outside work - cool with lots of sunshine.
This evening Leona did some baking for lunch that will be tomorrow after zone leader council.

Wednesday morning I hooked up the trailer and went over to the four man apartment at the Preakness Apt. complex, which is just across the road from where we live. The elders are getting new carpet so we needed to move the furniture. We put the large items, sofa and beds in the trailer. I had just got to their apt when the carpet guys arrived. They looked at all the stuff in the living room and just shook their heads. I told them to start in the back bedroom, which was ready, and we would get the other rooms cleaned out by the time they finished that one room. Well, we were ready, but not by much. Those two guys really worked fast, no wasted motion at all. The carpet was laid, vacuumed and cleaned up in about 2 hours (two bedrooms, walk in closets, short hall way and closet, and living room. The elders were excited to get the new carpet. We also had their apt painted yesterday. The only bad news was the elders had to listen to my "father speech" about wiping their shoes and taking them off before coming in the apt, and cleaning up spills right a way. During the move a leg got broken off the sofa so I got the office "tool kit" and fixed the leg - not a bad job for a senior missionary.
Elder & Sister Nagle, CES missionaries assigned to Sam Houston State University in Huntsville drove down and had dinner with us and spent the night. Elder Nagle had an appointment at MD Anderson at 6:30 AM Thursday morning.
It was very cold, with a little freezing rain today.

Thursday I went to Walmart to get apartment cleaning supplies as we were out of several items for the missionaries. I helped Leona and Sister Marsh with some handouts the president wanted each missionary to have. The original copy was poor and almost unreadable but Leona retyped it and the final product looked very nice. We made the handout "pocket size" and laminated it. I worked on the transfer board pictures. The space on the back was never large enough for all the transfers that an elder will have in two years. I am not the best at that type of thing but by trial and error (mostly error) I got the revision made for the future photos.
We had Elders Wood, Steagal, Parker and Allbee over for dinner this evening. They really liked the funeral potatoes Leona made - ate the whole thing so we think they liked it! We sure enjoy having the missionaries for dinner. It was very cold and windy today even though there was lots of sunshine.

Our Friday morning staff meeting with the Hansens and the AP's is always a good experience. They are such good people, you just feel better for being in their presence. President Hansen shared a scripture on unity Psalms 133:1. Sister Hansen told two separate stories of missionaries who were at the right place at the right time to help recently relocated members who were not successful in finding the church, and how good the elders felt after a whole day of tracting with no positive responses. Heavenly Father is certainly aware of each and everyone of His children and just what they need. Leona spent time today going through the apartment changes and getting ready to pay the rents, what a job. Pres Hansen wanted missionary photos and names ready to send to the new mission president when that announcement is made. I worked on that for the rest of the day. Lots of sunshine today, but still cool.

Saturday we got up early so Leona could go up to the TC Jester building as they were hosting a MD Anderson blood drive. After she got back we worked on valentine treats for the office on Monday. We went out to Itch-a-Stitch, a fabric store and I got a very nice l o n g nap in the warm car as Leona got to touch every piece of fabric in the store (I believe). We then drove over to Al Wadi's for dinner. They have very good Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food. When we got back to the apartment we walked over to feed the ducks and low and behold there are new baby duck all ready (just one batch so far). They are pretty cute when they are little!
We enjoyed sacrament meeting in the Olde Oaks Ward. Three fine talks. The youth speaker, probably about 13 years old, spoke with few notes about controling the natural man and following the spirit in our lives. Tosin, she is from Africa, and her husband (who is not a member) have been a couple of times to our apt for dinner - a very nice couple anyway she spoke on anger and the harm those feelings can have. The Bishop spoke on the blessings of tithing. A lot of good thoughts and words of wisdom to apply in our lives.
We took another loaf of bread and fed the ducks this morning and all six babies were right with the big ducks. They are fun to watch.
We love you and thankful you are each our Valentines! Have a great week. Be safe and careful in all you do.
Dad and Mom

Sunday, February 6, 2011

78th Post Mon Jan 31 - Sunday Feb 6, 2011

Another busy Monday updating apartment files following my inspections. I also had some help getting furniture loaded in the trailer to take to Conroe tomorrow. Leona made bread bowls and broccoli soup and a large green salad for FHE this evening. We had all the seniors come over for supper. Leona told them it was an activity night and the activity was cutting the top off their bread bowls, scooping out the bread ready for soup. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together and a good visit. Elder Thomas is not reserved like me and has a real sense of humor. We had more than a few good laughs.

Tuesday I drove up to Conroe to move the 4 elders out of their apartment into two separate, one bedroom apartments in the same complex. They were not as ready as I had hoped, so it took us a while to get moved, the old apartment cleaned up, the keys turned in and the walk through completed. The mission will have to pay for a couple of mini blinds that were broken some time in the past but that should be all the damage. The elders did a good job of cleaning, but you have to stay right with them or they get distracted. It was after lunch time when we finished so I took the four of them to Ryan's to eat. They really enjoyed that part of the "move". It was so cold today. The wind was blowing and it never got much above the high 30's. When we went over early this morning to run on the tread mills it was almost 70, but by 7:30 when we went into the office it was 43 and kept dropping the rest of the day.

Wednesday I had to go back up to Conroe to get the washer and dryer hooked up. The apartment people were suppose to fixed the broken water supply taps before we moved in. Anyway I purchased the hoses, dryer vent hose and went to the apartment to get the washer and dryer installed. The taps were still not fixed so I got the dryer hooked up. What a job that turned out to be. The wall connection for the vent was in such bad shape it really took me a lot of time and one more trip to the store to make it all work (almost like home - every project takes at least two trips to the hardware store). I went by the apartment office and told them they would have to hook up the washer as their work was still not completed, which they agreed to do. The water supply to the mission office was frozen this morning, so I had called the FM group before I left for Conroe. One of the FM guys was there when I got back thawing the outside supply line. It had frozen where it comes into the office from underground. Elder Stringfellow was installing a new computer for me and was just about done when I got back. I spent the next few hours getting things set up and "re-programed" so I could do my thing.

Thursday I went to the apartment complex near the temple, Lodge at Cypresswood, to discuss moving the 4 elders into two, one bedroom apartments. President Hansen wants us to move most of the elders out of the 4'somes and into one bedroom apartments. It looked like the apartment complex has some available apartments, but I needed to give a 30 day notice and secure the transfer with deposit money. I went back to the office and Leona started the check process for me. We got the checks approved and printed, so I took them back to the apartment office. We should be good to move about the 2nd week in March. I was just about back to the office when one of the elders, who lives in the same apt complex I had just been to, twice before, call and said he thought he had bed bugs. "How long have you had bed bugs?" I asked. Well his companion who was transferred a couple of weeks ago had a problem. Why didn't you all call before now - no answer. I got the permethlin and spray bottle and drove back to their apartment. Thank goodness it is only 7 or so miles away, but lots of traffic. Oh well, that is my mission to help with apartments and I am thankful I can do what I do. Another very cold day.

Friday the big ice and snow storm never happened, well almost never happened. We did get just enough freezing rain to close the major freeways as the overpasses and bridges were very bad. Lots of accidents. President Hansen made it into the office so we held our staff meeting. We enjoy so much meeting with him and the other office staff on Friday mornings. He is still hurting following his knee surgery, but is still trying to "get around". All the district and zone meetings were postponed until 1 pm today, because of the bad roads. The weather did warm up and the roads were fine by lunch time. Elder Harris, the North Zone leader, asked me to take time in their zone meeting to talk about the Word of Wisdom as part of their health training. It was a good experience for me, we enjoy being with the young elders every chance we get. The training concentrated on the "do's" of the WofW and not the "don'ts". The opening hymn was "Ye Elders of Israel" which reminded me so much of my first companion in England. We memorized that hymn and use to sing it often. Great memories and tender feelings to start the meeting. The seniors had planned a big outing for tomorrow, but some wanted to cancel as the weather was so cold and bad, even though the forecast was for a nice day.
The Stringfellows, us and Sisters Young & Marsh went over to the Potato Patch for dinner this evening. They have great rolls and the food is not bad. Cloudy and cold all day.

Saturday morning Leona and I decided that we would go ahead with the planned outing as the sun was shinning yet cold. What a wonderful day we had. We went on a boat tour of the Houston Ship channel, which was very interesting. The tour boat was very nice and there was lots of room as many cancelled their reservations as the weather was cold. The boat trip lasted over an hour. Lots of interesting industrial operations, including oil refineries, chemical plants, bulk cargo facilities, scrap metal operations and of course lots and lots of big ships. We then drove over to the Battleship Texas Historic Site. The Battleship Texas is the only remaining Navy ship that was involved in both WW I & II. It has a rather distinguished history and was the most powerful "weapon" in the world when commissioned in early 1914. The 10, 14" main guns are very impressive. We enjoyed climbing and exploring from the bottom to the top of the wheel house. The battleship is located next to the San Jacinto Battleground historic site. This is the place where General Sam Houston defeated the larger Mexican force following the great lose at the Alamo and where Texas won its independence as a separated nation from Mexico. We went through the museum, rode the elevator up the 480 feet or so to the observation room at the top of the monument and enjoyed the great views from that vantage point. We drove all around the site to the various markers that interpret the battle details. All very interesting history. There are protected wetlands and marsh's in that same park so we watched the pelicans, spoonbills, egrets, and all kinds of other birds. We really enjoyed the day together. It was cool, yet very pleasant.

Sunday was a special stake conference that was transmitted from SLC. Elder Jensen of the 70 spoke and conducted, Sister Dibbs of the General YW's Presidency spoke, as did Elder Ballard and then Pres. Monson. What a great blessing that was. We enjoyed the counsel we received, so wonderful to have a living prophet and modern technology that allows us to see and hear him speak. There were 75 stakes, 2 or 3 Districts, and about 11 missions from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico invited.

We have had another great week. We love working with the young Elders and Sisters they are an inspiration to us. We love each of you and pray that you will have a good and safe week and you each are well and happy.
We love you,
Mom and Dad