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