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