Sunday, March 27, 2011

85th Post Mon March 21 - Sunday Mar. 27, 2011

We were up early to start a new week in the Texas Houston Mission. Leona had a doctors appointment at MD Anderson this morning - just routine check up. We waited our obligatory 2 hours - the medical center is great and for us the cost is right, but boy they sure run behind schedule regardless of the department. My cousin Suzanne and her husband Alan were down visiting one of their kids and family. They called and took us out to lunch and then over to their condo (really a home) to show us around (we will stay there in September when I come back for the last - I hope - BCG treatment). They have a very nice place to stay whenever they come to Houston.

For FHE this evening the senior missionaries did a pot luck stir fry. It was very good. We enjoyed a great visit together.

Tuesday we were up and on the road by 6:30 to College Station for Zone Conference. The leaves are coming out on the trees and the grass is getting green - just a very pleasant drive of about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Elder Stringfellow and I do short vehicle and apartment training at the beginning of the meeting. President and Sister Hansen always do a great job. Their subject is from the simplified curriculum of Preach My Gospel - Revelation through Church Attendance. A wonderful perspective on keeping the sabbath day holy and why we (children of Israel) must remember that covenant. The AP's always do a good job of teaching. Elder Galbriath is especially a gifted teacher. The RS always does a great job with lunch. We left to come back to the office after lunch was cleaned up. This evening after dinner we went back to the office as Leona wanted to get some bills paid. A great day to be a missionary.

Wednesday we drove down to the Longebough building for Zone Conference. Not as far as yesterday, only about 45 minutes west on FM 1960. President Hansen did not talk about the sabbath day, but said how he appreciated how Elder Walker always teaches the "doctrine of apartments" using the scriptures. He then proceeded to teach how we can solve our challenges, by teaching the following concept. If we understand the doctrine and form a strategy, then like Nephi (1Ne 4:6-15) we will act even if the strategy is not 100% complete or known, we then become doers of the word (James 1:22) and receive the blessing/answers to our challenges (D&C130:20-21). It was a wonderful lesson and you could feel and see how he was being lead by the Spirit the whole time. A great experience for us all.

We did not stay for lunch as we wanted to get back to the welfare complex for the re-dedication of the peanut butter cannery. What a great event that was. Elder Nielsen, an area 70, and one of the Stake RS Presidents spoke. There were government, community, law enforcement, and media representatives there. The meeting was held in the new addition, which houses the new peanut roaster and the 2000 lb bags of shelled peanuts. They had refreshments that were made from peanuts/peanut butter, including sandwich wraps, smoothie drinks and dips and hot sauce -they were just outstanding - if you like peanut butter this was the place to be. The visitors were given tours of the Bishop's Storehouse, and donned hairnets and were able to go in where the peanut butter is made and bottled and boxed for shipment. The Church allows the Houston Food Bank and their corporate volunteers to make peanut butter one day a week. That has been a great project with wide spread community impact. Peanut butter is the single most requested food item of the Food Bank. The President of that organization made a special presentation to the Church and the Cannery Manager. He said that they have identified young children who are poor and hungry in 200 schools and they fix "boxes" for them to take home on the weekend and the peanut butter is the main item and the favorite item. He said this past Christmas he received an email from a school teacher. She told how the children in her class were excited for the Christmas break all but one who seemed worried. She questioned the young student if there was something wrong. This young child was worried and began to cry about being hungry through the holiday, there would be no "boxes". This little child was not excited about Christmas or not having to go to school, he was worried about being hungry. We are so blessed. What a great missionary tool this dedication was, we truely felt the Spirit in abundance. It was a real blessing to be a part of this wonderful day.

Thursday and another MD Anderson day. I had my last BCG treatment for this series. All went well. I just stayed at the apartment and drank and disposed of LOTS of water.

Friday I stayed at home again. I was up every half hour to 45 minutes last night. I feel fair, just tired. I worked on our taxes all day. That is enough to make anyone ill. We went for a short walk this evening as I am feeling a bit better.

Saturday I feel a whole lot better. Went into the office for awhile, washed the car and ran a few errands. We went to Sam's, Krogers, and then to Al Waidi's for an early dinner. Much more warm and humid today. I guess summer is just about here.

Sunday, it was Fast and Testimony meeting today and the Spirit was strong, many heart-felt testimonies were shared. Brother and Sister Johnson, Brother Johnson's sister and her husband, and Sister Johnson's son and his wife came for dinner this evening. Brother and Sister Johnson have been so good to us, we have been in their home many times this past year to share a meal with them. Anyway, they will be leaving tomorrow they have sold their home and are moving to Spanish Fork, Utah. We enjoyed our visit with them, they will be missed.

We are to another Sunday evening, the weeks pass by quickly. We love our mission. We are so thankful for this great blessing.

We hope that you each have a wonderful week. Tell your eternal companion "I love you" at least twice each day. Give each one of our perfect beautiful grandchildren a hug and kiss from Grandpa and Grandma Walker! We love you. Be safe.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, March 20, 2011

84th Post Monday Mar. 14 - Sunday Mar., 20, 2011

We went into the office early this Monday morning - lots to catch up on. Being out of the office Thursday and Friday put me a bit behind. I worked on photos for 7 new missionaries coming in the next several months, updated my apartment spreadsheet and distributed it and drove up to an apartment complex near the Temple to sign new leases for 2 - one bedroom apartments. The apartments are very nice. They are on the third floor, but the elders are young and strong and used to moving stuff up stairs.
Elder and Sister Thomas came to our place to eat dinner prior to FHE. The topic was on miracles and tender mercies we have experienced on our missions. Many great blessing we all shared as a result of being full time missionaries. My main contribution to the evening was refreshments (yes I made pumpkin cookies- under the careful supervision of Sister Walker, and root beer floats). We have a new Senior Sister, Sister Nance from Georgia. She is assigned in the employment office and replaces Sister Billingsley who went home in November.

Tuesday I hooked up the truck and trailer and drove up to move the Elders at the Cypresswood apartments near the Temple. The Mission President is having me slowly move out of the 4 man apartments, just to many "distractions", if you know what I mean. The Elders were boxed up and pretty much ready to go. They were excited to get into the new apartments.
After we completed moving their stuff I drove down to one of our apartments that missionaries no longer occupy. The last missionaries who had lived there met me there and we moved the furniture out and cleaned the place up. The elders had done a good job of getting the place ready to move out. There were only a few items worth keeping, a desk, table & chairs, bookcase and beds. There were two old sofas that we set down on the sidewalk and before you could turn around there were folks there wanting to know if they could have the stuff. It was great to get rid of many items not worth taking back to the mission office. When I first came to this apartment complex about a year ago it was nice for the area, but boy has it gone down hill fast. We were glad to move the missionaries out. When I did the walk through with the apartment manager she mentioned how much she missed seeing the sisters we had living there. Even the manager did not like the area and the sisters would come into her office and say hello and really brighten up her day. She missed that interaction. We moved the sisters out a few transfers ago and moved elders in. The elders were moved out two transfers ago and now we are out of that apartment all together It was a great moving day with very nice cool weather in the morning.

Wednesday more paper work. Seems like I am not as caught up as I normally am. I drove down to the Copperfield area to pick up Elder Stringfellow as he had to take a loaner car to some elders who got into an accident the other day. President Hansen was in today and asked Elder Stringfellow and I to meet with him. We have a couple of Senior sisters who are just not getting along at all and wanted our council on options.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with the help of Elders Gardner & Sorsenson arranging things in the garage, hauling a few things to NAM (like Deseret Industries) and unloading the truck and trailer. The elders are always good to help me when ever I ask.

Thursday we were up early for the drive to MD Anderson. Steven's appointment was at 8am but he wanted to be there early so we were there about 7:30am. After completing his check in stuff they told him that they would order the medication from the pharmacy and would call his name again but that it was going to be a wait - and it was, about two hours. When his name was called the second time he was finished very quickly and we were back to the apartment about noon. He spent the rest of the afternoon resting, drinking LOTS of water, and in the bathroom. Two treatments done and one to go!
Friday: I am not sure how much sleep Steven got last night. He said that he was feeling ok. He did not go to office. We had staff meeting and President Hansen shared an email that he had sent to Elder and Sister Kikuchi and their response back. Elder and Sister Kikuchi have children, grandchildren and siblings in different parts of Japan. After more than four days they had finally received word that everyone is safe. Elder Kikuchi said, "so many people have died, I feel so bad I am here and could not help them". President Hansen offered the closing prayer in staff meeting. It was filled with love and blessings for Elder Walker's health. Sister Stringfellow offered the opening paryer and she too poured out her heart for a blessing of health and speedy recovery for Elder Walker. With prayers like were offered today, no wonder Steven is doing so well. We are so thankful and so blessed.
After I got home from the mission office Steven did feel well enough to go for a short walk around the lake and to feed the ducks. He is doing much better this evening.
Saturday I felt better so we decided to go on the senior outing down to the Houston Ship Channel and San Jacinto Battleground Historic site. Most rode in the van, but we decided to drive in case I needed to leave early. President and Sister Hansen also drove down. This is a first time they have gone with the seniors on P-day. We enjoyed the boat tour of the shipping channel, the Battleship Texas, and the San Jacinto site (Leona and I did this same trip in early Feb). The Christensons and Nagels from Huntsville joined us, as well as the Thomas's from downtown (employment missionaries) and the Shipleys from the South Mission and of course the seniors from the mission office and employment office. It was a very enjoyable day, warm and a light breeze. Fun to be with the other seniors. I did fine and glad we went.
We enjoyed Sacrament meeting. Lots of babies and small children in the Olde Oaks Ward and some Sundays they are quite entertaining. It brings back "fond" memories as we watch the families. The talks were given by two high counselors and they both did well. We were reminded to look to Christ and the prophet and other church leaders for guidance - they are our lighthouses".
Elder and Sister Stringfellow invited us over after church to eat dinner with them. They are great people with strong testimonies and faith. We had a nice visit and we sure enjoy serving with them in the mission office.
We hope you each have a great week. Be careful in all you do.
We love you,
Dad and Mom

Sunday, March 13, 2011

83rd Post Monday Mar 7 - Sunday March 13, 2011

Mondays are always "busy" as there are lots of missionaries who come in the office on their P-day to use the computers, check the mail, or to just "check in". We did get to the office early so Leona could get a check ready for an apartment that never received their check from SLC. We also went to WalMart to get cleaning supplies and to the post office.
The senior's FHE was at the mission home. We enjoy having FHE with the Hansens once a month. Sister Young had the lesson which was a video about the tabernacle of ancient Israel. It was very interesting. We enjoyed our evening together and the wonderful refreshments that Leona provided. Another wonderful day in the mission field.

Tuesday I hit the road again to inspect apartments. I drove out to Sealy, and the Katy area. The apartments looked good.
Leona goes over to the bishop's storehouse on Tuesdays right after work to see if they need her help. This evening they did. I went home changed, grabbed something to eat and then went back to the storehouse. We stayed until about 7:30 filling orders and stocking shelves. Every "Deseret" item I handled I thought what a great program the Lord has for helping all His children. We are so blessed to be in His church.

(Leona speaking) Wednesday, I am thankful for the gospel and the blessing of serving a mission with my wonderful eternal companion. Always plenty to do each day and the hours pass by so quickly. There was a missionary leadership training meeting at the Hafer building so when it was over there were lots of missionaries in the office checking mail and getting supplies, it was good to see each one.
We learned that we have a missionary going home in a couple days. He is having some emotional/mental health problems bless his heart; he is such a fine elder wanting to share the gospel with everyone. Our prayers are with him.
Paul and Marsha Johnson, members of the Olde Oaks Ward, invited us and the Stringfellows to dinner this evening. They are moving to Spanish Fork, Utah the end of the month and will be greatly missed. They have been so good to us. Dinner was delicious - chicken, green beans, potatoes, tossed salad and ice cream and Mississippi mud cake, yum yum! We had a very nice visit after dinner, Brother Johnson is a retired Shell oil man so he and Steven always have lots to talk about. Sister Johnson told how her mother joined the church in a little branch (she said it was more like a "twig") in Louisiana and then her father joined about 1 1/2 years later. She was nine years old at the time. She served a mission to Canada and Brother Johnson served in Australia. A great couple, we will miss them.

Thursday, we were up early did not exercise because Steven needed to be at MD Anderson at 7:45 a.m. We left the apartment at 6:30am and made our way into Houston along with everyone else in Texas it seemed! Traffic was heavy even on the Hardy Toll Road but we arrived on time. He got his lab work done quickly but his appointment with Dr. Grosman (urologist) was a long wait being moved from room to room (they do that to make you think that you are not waiting). They did the cystoscopy (TV camera look around his bladder) and it looked good - all is well, we are so thankful. After more waiting time they did the first BCG treatment and we arrived home about 2pm. After Steven got settled and resting I went to the mission office for a couple of hours. We are thankful for the medical help that Steven has received. These treatments are not pleasant, he has a lot of pain afterwards and just feeling sick - kind of like the flu and sometimes he has a fever. He never complains and tries to be upbeat, I am so thankful for him and love him with all my heart.

Friday, Steven had an OK night, he is up more than he is down. He needs to drink lots of fluids to flush his system. I left to go to the mission office at 7:30am. We did not have staff meeting as President and Sister Hansen needed to be in Huntsville early this morning. Steven called later in the morning and said to come get him at 1pm he wanted to come to the office for a couple hours. When I returned home he was dressed but looking pretty pale. I could tell he did not feel so good so WE decided that it would be better if he just stayed home.
We had a quiet evening, walked to the pond to feed the ducks - they are always starving! The swan is mean and bites the ducks; if the water was clean and I could swim I think I might jump in and wring her/his neck! I guess I won't.

Saturday, Steven is feeling better today and since he was I put him to work vacuuming and cleaning the apartment! He washed the car at the mission office and we spent some time going through papers, etc. that always seem to gather on the counter and table. We went to a Mexican place for a late lunch and stopped to get a few items at the grocery store on our way home.

Sunday we enjoyed our meetings. You all know this but it is so much better when you really concentrate on the words of the sacrament prayer and what they mean for us. I am so thankful I am a member of the Lord's church and for the many blessings we enjoy.
Another great week to enjoy our time in the Texas Houston Mission.
We love you all,
Dad and Mom

Sunday, March 6, 2011

82nd Post Monday Feb 28 - Sunday Mar 6, 2009

Monday and the beginning of another wonderful week in the Texas Houston Mission. We left the office late morning as I had an appointment with the dermatologist at MD Anderson. He took a "core sample" from a small bump on my chest and froze 4 spots on my face. The core sample required 2 stitches. All went well except for the two hour wait. By the time we got back to the office the day was about gone. We enjoyed FHE at the Stringfellow's apartment this evening. We watched an LDS therapist talk about the Book of Mormon. We enjoy our association with the other senior missionaries.

Tuesday I started another round of apartment inspections - most looked good. Leona had her computer "upgraded" so she had fun getting things back to normal (what ever normal is). Sisters Donkin and Rodriguez came to dinner this evening. What good missionaries they are, just a real inspiration to be around. Sister Rodriguez is from Guatemala (lived in the USA for a few years) and Sister Donkin is from the Portland area. Her family has a "vacation home" in Sea Side. The weather was very cool this morning, but nice and warm by afternoon.

Wednesday I drove to Conroe, Huntsville, Montgomery, and the Woodlands doing apartment inspections. There was one apartment that was a real mess but the others were in good shape. I have several pending apartment moves this month, plus I start my next round of BCG treatments so I spent time trying to get the missionaries, the apartments managers, and my schedule all on the same page. The church computer system (iMOS) was down again today, so Leona went back to the office this evening, while I ran to the post office. David called and said his phone interview with Notre Dame grad school went well.
Thursday was another long distance driving day for me, about 230 miles. I went up to College Station, Brenham, and Waller inspecting apartments. This trip is always interesting as the country side is full of large ranches and farms. The trip started out foggy but cleared up by mid morning.

Friday we had our normal office staff meeting. It is always a blessing to meet with the Hansens. They are such good people. I inspected apartments closer to home today. Later in the morning Pres. Hansen called and asked me to look for apartments in the Bryan/College Station area for a senior couple. We just got word that we will be getting another proselyting couple at the end of the month. I did some checking online and made some phone calls to see what might be available, besides the apartments where we have young missionaries. I called the Buckways (from the Odgen area) this evening. They sound like great folks. We had Sisters Bullock and Porter over for dinner this evening. They are so enthusiastic and into their missionary work - fun to be around them.

Saturday we went into the office for a few hours to catch up on things. I got a call late last night that the sisters at the Oaks of Wimbledon had received an eviction notice for not paying rent. Even though Leona gets all the info to SLC early, some times the checks just get lost in the mail. Anyway we worked on that and several other "bill" issues.
We got most of our p-day work done and then went to the Texas Roadhouse for a late lunch; it seemed a very short day today. The weather remains cool.
I got a call this evening from some elders who got their car towed. Elder Stringfellow was out of town and not available so I called him to make sure I had all the paper work, the cash $207!! and then arranged with the elders to meet them at the "junk yard". It all worked out in the end but it took some effort. I suppose I should get hearing aids or something. When the elder called he said it was Elder Parker, I thought he said Barker (we have both). I told him I would call back after I talked to Elder Stringfellow to make sure I could get the car out of impound. To complicate things more, the elders were on exchanges, so I call Elder Barker's number and there is no answer, of course I had told Elder "Barker" to stay close to his phone so we could get things handled. Well I called several times and left messages of increasing urgency (the impound place would close and the cost goes up $30 after midnight - of course the elders are responsible for all parking and traffic fines). I even thought to call the other elders they had exchanged with and left them an urgent message. Well after 45 minutes Elder Barker calls me back and I start in on the poor guy - "where have you been? - why did you not stay by the phone? - do you want your car back or not?......" He said "has our car been towed"?? I could not believe it - Elder didn't you call and tell me your car was towed - to which he replied "no". Oh my - now what?? We finally figured it was Elder Parker who called not Barker. So I called Elder Parker and he picks right up and we made arrangements to meet and get his car. Later in the evening I get a call from Elder Lindsey ( he was involved with the exchange with the other elders). "Elder Walker I got your message - our car has been towed??" He was all concerned needless to say. Anyway I reminded all concerned that they were dealing with a hearing impaired senior missionary so please relax as all is now well in the car kingdom. Boy what a night.
We got up this morning and took bread and cheerios for the ducks at the pond here in the apartment complex. The swan is pretty much the boss when she gets around the rest of the ducks. They stay out of her way, if not they will loose a few tail feathers! Lots of sunshine and cool enough for a sweater with low humidity - perfect weather today!
Fast and Testimony meeting was very good, lots of humble testimonies shared. We have enjoyed a wonderful Sabbath Day and we are ready to begin a new week. We hope that you each have a good and safe week. We love you and so thankful for you. Take care.
Dad and Mom