Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cape May at Dusk
 Yesterday we needed to go down to Cape May, New Jersey.  It all started innocently enough...We needed to take a phone to 2 Sisters in Woodstown, NJ and bikes to Elders in Vineland.  So we contacted the Senior Couple near Cape May and they were overjoyed to have company.  They are very isolated and have been out on their mission long enough that they are missing the association of other couples.  Anyway, we opted to go on our P-day to take care of this.  As it turned out, the Mission President did not want the Elders to have bikes--they will be closing down some areas next week and that will make a car available.
That is safer, as there are no shoulders on roads in this area.  By that time we decided not to disappoint the Senior Couple (The Johnsons) so we would go and take the phone and see them.  We had a party of 6 to go.  Saturday morning another couple wanted to join us, so we ended up taking a Mission van and away we went.  The people in the back of the van got an extra thrill from the thousands of potholes we encountered along the way.  We enjoyed seeing the Johnsons and we kidnapped the Sister Missionaries there and took them to lunch with us at the Lobster House.  I had monk fish and dad had stuffed shrimp.  I also enjoyed a bowl of lobster bisque--delicious!  We had a cold Atlantic wind blowing, but we braved the local attractions and shopping for a brief time.  Below are pictured, left to right, Jones', Holloways, Carrs, and Johnsons.
Smuins were the photographers.  We are pictured at the site of the WW II bunker on the beach.
 We finished our sight-seeing at the perfect time.  We pulled into the parking lot at Sunset Beach just as the sun was sinking into the Atlantic.  Great photo.  What you cannot see is that all of the people on the beach were clapping when the sun disappeared.
Some highlights of our week:

  • Teaching the Dixon's.  This family has been through a lot and Wednesday night we had a very tender experience with them as the father related the passing of his wife and doing her temple work and what he wanted for his children.  Elder Jones also got to teach Wendy with the Elders.
  • A break in the weather.  Friday it rained quite a bit and big chunks of ice fell loudly from the eaves around the office.
  • Hearing about some of the interesting experiences of our mission president and his wife.  They are so very busy taking care of the missionaries in this area.  Their phones seem to always be ringing...
  • Realizing again and again how very blessed we are to be on this mission with each other.  It truly is a blessing to serve together.
  • Feeling Heavenly Father bless us as we try to better comprehend how best to do our assignments at the mission office.  Elder Jones is learning lots about the new computer system to track all of the mission cars.  Sister Jones learned this week that she will need to learn to handle the finance secretary position at the office when the Smuins go home in May.  
  • Today the Mission Presidency was meeting, so President Hakes was at our ward.  He mentioned that he lived as a child in Lehi.  I mentioned that my great-great-grandfather had settled that town and he immediately responded with "you are related to David Evans--so am I!"  It is a very small world...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Continues
 This was the scene on Friday, 2/14/14 as we headed to the mission office.  It had snowed in the night and iced up.  Here in the east the snow is very wet and that causes frequent ice build-up.  Ice sticks to the windshield wipers, the doors of the car, the trees--everything!  And it makes for senior missionaries to be very cautious!  So far we have not slipped on it--although we have come close several times.  This represents about 12" on the level.  Last night it snowed again a bit and we are expecting snow twice this coming week.  This weekend we did see a couple of retail stores hauling the snow away because their parking lots have been compromised.  Below is a photo of Elder Jones using the heartier ice scraper that he purchased this week to get the car so he can see out when driving.  By the way, he is much more compliant in wearing his seat belt since becoming the "Car Czar".
We have been exceptionally busy with Zone Conferences this week.  We had to postpone one due to much snow, but we made it up on Saturday, so now all 275 missionaries have their very own I-Pad mini and are learning how to effectively use it to proselyte and teach.  We heard stories of missionaries teaching investigators in far away countries via Skype and having lots of success, so we know that great things await the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission.  We did so enjoy going to the various zones to see the missionaries. One Elder told of how he skyped his family for his Christmas call and taught them the Restoration.  He has a less active older brother and a father who was excommunicated so he was very pleased that his family willingly listened to the lesson and he prays that his family can be healed and become a forever family.  He was quite emotional telling this story and it touched me deeply.  Elder Jones was able to assist the Mission President this week by helping with a couple of missionaries who needed special help and Elder Jones greatly enjoyed that.  We hope that all of you had a very nice Valentine Celebration.  I did miss homemade sugar cookies frosted...I love those.  Tonight we are feeding our local missionaries and then next Saturday we have been invited for another Korean dinner to a sweet Sister's home in our ward.  Tomorrow night we are giving the lesson to the Senior Family Home Evening Group.  We are going to speak about being a missionary in this mission and what they can do to help.  It is going to be a great week for us!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

 This was our scene on the way to the mission office Tuesday morning.  Snow was expected during the night, so the roads dept. lays a brine solution on the roads.  So it was not bad to drive.  The snow was very wet and stayed on the trees, making them quite heavy.  By Wednesday morning we had ice falling from the sky.  I had never seen anything exactly like this, but it was crystalline, stuck to the trees, glistened, and made the trees even heavier.  By the afternoon the tree limbs became so laden with snow, ice, etc. that they began to sag onto power lines or crack and hit power lines, snapping them.  By evening many people were without electricity with temps in to the teens.  The photo below is right by the mission office.  In a 3 block span there were 3 power lines laying in the road.  The mission office was without power Tues-Thurs.  When it finally came on the heating system went amiss and we did not have heat until Friday noon.  We stayed in the mission office to field calls until we were too cold to stand it, then we went home.  Wed. morning we heard a crack and both thought the other had fallen.  As it turned out, a tree limb next to our bedroom had cracked and hit the roof above our bed.  Within 2 hours we had a leak in the door casing which lasted 2 days--at which time it became frozen enough not to drip...
 Pennsylvania is laden with beautiful trees and when they become too heavy the limbs snap, leaving the tree scarred as the limb is ripped from its place.  It is actually very ugly to see the majestic trees lopsided now because of missing limbs.  I saw large 10" diameter branches stripped to the ground and even some trees just uprooted.  We are not talking just "some" but thousands of trees.  Yesterday while traveling on the freeway north of Philly, Elder Jones saw a pick up that was traveling ahead of him when a tree tell onto the road, hitting right in between the driver and passenger of the truck, making a hole in the cab of their pickup.  There is still much work to do to clean up the aftermath of this ice storm.  Below is a tree at the Mission office.

Special missionary moments this week:  Elder Jones mentioned to the mission president that he would like the assignment of dealing with a particular elder who might be having trouble (he explained his background in dealing with juvenile delinquents, etc.).  Anyway, within 4 hours the president called with an assignment, so Elder Jones contacted the Elder yesterday and got to visit with him.  Also, our mission Mom asked Elder Jones to meet with a Sister this next week to assist her with the emotional problems she is dealing with.  You all know just how much Elder Jones enjoys this and we are happy to be of some help to lighten the mission president and his wife as they have so very many missionaries to worry over.**Another moment was getting to meet with the Valley Forge West Zone in their training this week.  It was so very cold that we stayed until they completed the training and then Elder Jones insisted on taking them to a warm place for hot chocolate and a bite to eat.  They certainly are committed Elders and Sisters--no complaining, but they did ask me for tissues as their noses were running.  We enjoyed a ward fundraiser for girls camp last night and a pot luck today at our ward.  We were also asked to give a lesson in a week to a group of seniors at their FHE.  We are, of course, going to speak about member missionary work!  This coming week we will be engaged in 4 zone conferences.  One in Reading, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ, Dover, DE, and finally, Valley Forge, PA.  During these conferences Elder Jones inspects the cars and has prepared a short power point presentation on car safety.  I will speak just a bit about commissary.  AND, the missionaries will each be receiving their I-pad minis and will be trained on their use as a proselyting and accountability tool.  We feel very blessed to be on this mission and do so appreciate our children and their dedication to this cause.  We love you!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A New Month
 Yesterday began a new month.  And as of today, we have been on our mission for exactly 5 months!  Time is passing very rapidly.  We are a blazing 57 degrees today and it is helping to melt the snow we received 2 weeks ago.  But tomorrow we are expecting another 6-8 inches.  So I chose the photo of Philadelphia in the winter to start my blog today.  Philadelphia really has a striking skyline and can be very beautiful and it surely is in the photo above taken from a bridge over the Schuylkill River.

Today I want to tell you about Tom.  We pick up Tom each week for church.  He lives at a long term care facility run by the state of Pennsylvania.  He is an autistic adult about 70.  He is always ready when we go to pick him up, although I have to enter and sign papers to check him out.  He has a doctorate in Chemistry which he received only 10 years ago.  It took him a long time to go through college, but he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  He likes to tell us about things related to chemistry and things he has looked up on the computer the previous week.  He really likes where he lives and feels safe there.  Today we had a lesson on exaltation in our Gospel Principles class and we were talking about the requirement of temple marriage for the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom.  Tom raised his hand and asked if it would be possible to get married in the millenium--he has never married.  We enjoy taking Tom to church with us.  We know Heavenly Father loves him and is happy that he embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is doing all he can to be valiant and endure to the end.
This photo is for another Tom--Tom Jones.  We pass this old post office each Sunday as we drive to pick up Tom for church.  Since you collect photos of old post offices this is for you.

We have enjoyed missionary moments this week.  We got to go teaching with the Sisters to the Dixon family.  Elder Jones contributed to one of the kids' dance-a-thon for Juvenile Cancer and they have invited us to come for lunch tomorrow.  We are pleased to accept and hope that eventually the 3 Dixon children will come to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and want to be baptized.  We also got to serve the missionaries as they had training this week.  I did the lunch and Elder Jones inspected their cars.  He surprised them all by taking them to a local car wash, so they were sparkling clean.  Then we enjoyed visiting our friend "Sunny" at her restaurant in Chester, PA.  The bishop has asked us to watch over her family and she works so we go see her at work.  We ended the week by Elder Jones giving a blessing of comfort to one of our local missionaries.  Even missionaries sometimes become overwhelmed...

Other highlights this week:  Seeing our grandson, Cole Bishop take first place at district in high jump with a jump of 6'1" just outside of Baltimore.  He did not know we were coming.  Getting together with 8 other senior missionaries to see "Saratov Approach" about the 2 missionaries kidnapped in Russia in 1998.  We asked our mission president to accompany us, but when he heard the theme of the movie he just did not want to come.