Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Only Thing Better Than a Mission is Having Family Visit You on Your Mission!
 So after working very hard all week (the training for my replacement was difficult and at times very frustrating to him as he is not really the clerk type--he is more the mechanic type) so that we could take Friday off, we headed to connect with John, Jessica, Lauren, Bridger and Abby Jones.  The first place we took them was the Wawa.  They had not eaten breakfast, so we took them to this Pennsylvania famous chain.  We do love the Wawa stores as they do not charge ATM fees, so it is very convenient for the missionaries to get cash.  Then we went straight to the Philadelphia Temple site.  As you can see from the photo, the temple exterior is going up.  They are lifting the end pieces up on the rest of the building.  Next will come the marble.  Brother Alex Carr, the Temple project director, explained some interesting things about the building of this temple and then gave them a piece of the granite that was hit when digging for the underground parking.  He then explained how important it is to build our testimony upon a strong foundation. This temple is built to last, as it is drilled in and connected to that granite.  The temple will be completed in just about 1 more year.  Next we decided to walk to the Rocky steps, as the parking is hard to find at that location.  We had no idea it was quite so far away, but it was a beautiful day for a walk!
 John had his kids watch the "Rocky" movies in preparation for coming here.  Bridger just finished Rocky I on the plane coming here.  Below is us at the Rocky steps.  This is actually the Philadelphia Museum of Art building.  It is quite impressive and old.  Lots of history in this town...
 We went on a "Duck" tour of Philadelphia and then took in the Liberty Bell.  The line was short and we were able to fit it in before the boys took off to see a Phillies vs Dodger baseball game.  The men and boy took the subway to the ballpark and the girls took the subway back to the hotel.  The kids liked riding the subway.
 Below are Jessica, Bridger and Grandpa (Elder Jones) just outside the Liberty Bell before we headed off.  Grandpa had lots of walking that day and he was sure wore out.
 We were worried about the rain while John was here.  There was a 30% chance of rain both days.  We prepared by taking umbrellas, but we never did have to open them.  It rained for a time while the boys were at the ballgame (there was a game delay) but they were under a canopy, and it rained just a few sprinkles the next day.  Below is the view out of their room at the Courtyard Marriott Center City, 12th floor.  This shot was taken just before it rained.
 This shot below was at the Ben Franklin Museum.  They are standing on the site of Ben's home.  We were interested to learn about all of the things Ben Franklin figured out and invented.  He truly was a brilliant man.
Other points of interest were Elfreth's Alley (oldest street in America that is still standing and inhabited), the US Mint where we learned how money is made, Betsy Ross' home, Christ Church Cemetery and Valley Forge.  We certainly enjoyed our family this weekend.  They came to church with us this morning and we showed them around the mission office and introduced them to a few missionaries.  We do so appreciate their visit!

This week starts with a bang!  Tomorrow Elder Jones is taking some elders and sisters to see a horse show closeby, then tomorrow night is our dinner for outgoing missionaries.  Tuesday we get new missionaries and Wednesday we transfer 120 other missionaries.  This means lots of details to manage and lots of work for both of us.  But we LOVE it!  We have truly been blessed to be missionaries in the PPM!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Goodbyes and Welcomes
 Our partners, Elder and Sister Smuin left on Thursday, so the week was a long one of "lasts" with them.  We went out to dinner for the last time and pictured above we went to Zwalen's Ice Cream for the last time with 10 senior missionaries.  By the time they left on Thursday, I was teary eyed.  Elder Smuin has been training me to do the finances, and I have just simply been a bit nervous about it.  I called him 4 times on Thursday and twice Friday.  I wonder when I will not need to call anymore...I know Heavenly Father will help me to accomplish the finance part of the mission office, but it is a bit daunting to pay $110,000 in rent of the Lord's money.  By Friday at 5 I had received a past due utility bill that the caller insisted needed to be cleared up right now.  So I called back and waited on hold 30 minutes and decided that after researching out the problem and finding that we had not been in that apartment since July 2013, the problem could wait.  My only other unresolved issue:  a missionary who insisted that he should have more $$ on his MSF card than he did.
 This photo is of Elder and Sister Ballard from the Logan area.  They are our new co-workers in the mission office.  I am training Elder Ballard to do what I used to do, so we are both a bit stressed...They used to be neighbors to our mission president, so that makes 3 couples that are here because of him.  The Ballards arrived Monday noon and we have also been busy taking them around, getting them settled into their apartment (which is in our building) and moving things from one vacated apartment into theirs.  We did take a break yesterday, however to play an interesting marble game with them.
 This is Elder Parker.  He is the same Elder who thinks he was shorted $$ on his MSF card.  At the end of church today he sheepishly called Elder Jones and admitted to locking his car keys in his trunk.  He begged for help, so we took a quick run (37 miles) up to Doylestown (NW of Philly) to take another set of keys to him to unlock the trunk.  So he is thinking that this is just a really unfortunate week for him.  We hope we brightened his day by helping him.  He is a good Elder.
We arrived home today from Doylestown just in time to have dinner with the Koreans at the Jung's home. The Koreans are very tight--they do lots of things together and we feel so happy that they invited us again to join in their Korean dinner.  Both Elder Jones and I tasted the squid, the spicy seaweed and the spicy pork.  I even ate my ENTIRE dinner with chopsticks!  We absolutely adore these Korean Saints.  I learned a couple of things tonight about Koreans:  They are not related to either the Chinese or Japanese but are descended from the Mongolians.  They are born with a blue spot on their rumps which disappears soon thereafter.  Pictured with them are Sister Handy in front and Sister Howard on the right.  We serve lots with these sisters and adore them as well.

We were surprised on Friday with a visit from our grandson, Cole Bishop, from Vienna, VA.  He and 3 friends has a sort of "senior skip day" and headed to Philly for a cheese steak.  We greeted them, introduced them to some missionaries having a meeting at the church, as well as our mission president and his wife, then took them for the cheese steak.  Thanks for coming, Cole!  We look forward this week to the visit of our son, John, and his family;  Jessica, Lauren, Bridger, and Abby.  We are taking off Friday to be with them. We feel so happy to be serving on this mission.  We enjoy each experience, especially getting to know the great missionaries serving here.  We know the gospel is true!  We know the Lord is blessing us.  We thank our children for their $$$ support!  We even enjoy the rain.  Friday it rained relentlessly for 7 hours straight.  When I say "rain" I do not mean Utah rain.  This is Pennsylvania rain.  It comes in buckets, not drops.  It is the kind of rain that you MUST use an umbrella for, or you are drenched to the skin in just 20 feet.  But that is what makes such green grass, trees, bushes, etc...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May Means Flowering Bushes/Zone Conferences
 We held Zone conferences this week, so Wednesday we traveled to Nazareth, PA, Thursday we had 6 zones in Broomall (140 missionaries) and Friday we traveled to Newark, DE.  The photo above is taken of the Dover, DE zone.  President and Sister Anderson are in the front.  We normally hold 4 conferences, but Doctor and Sister Dunn, our mission doctor who lives in Ohio and serves 14 missions came to speak to us, so we combined the closer zones so they would be able to speak all 3 times.  They gave a wonderful presentation on taking care of your body, spirit and mind.  The talk was mostly about STRESS.  Much of what they spoke of is used by Elder Jones as he counsels missionaries.  A mission is full of stress.  I think that potential missionaries are not sufficiently educated to realize that a mission is WORK, but I do not think that they realize that a mission is STRESS.  Long hours, companions, rejection, hard work, meetings, transfers, studying, disappointment...  The doctor has found that the common symptoms are acne, stomach aches, head aches, back aches, sleeplessness, etc.  The conferences were a wonderful time for hugs to missionaries we have not seen in awhile, renewing friendships with senior couples and listening to the testimonies of the outgoing missionaries.  We surely do love these missionaries!
 Left is Sister Kaydee Taylor from St. George, UT and Sister Carla Argueta from California.  Sister Argueta will be leaving this coming transfer (May 27).  They are sister trainers and are doing such a wonderful job.  We love them!
 I have never seen so many flowering  bushes!  The colors are vibrant in shades or purple, pink, red and orange, with some white and yellow mixed in for accent.  I absolutely love them.  Even just driving along the highway you see flowering trees and bushes.  Hostas and day lilies are growing everywhere.  Once planted they just seem to multiply.  And in St. George I work all summer long to keep those flowers watered and alive!  The secret--RAIN.  It rains very much here.  We have had rain almost every day this week, even though it has been as high as 84.  And I have now learned that 84 + 50% humidity =95 degrees...The humidity is going to be a challenge...
We always go to the Dixon's for FHE.  This time Rob (the dad who is an RN) invited us to have our ears candled.  It all started when Sister Handy complained that her ears hurt.  Upon examination Rob determined it was wax, so he candled one of her ears last week and she could hear so much better and without pain.  So this week was the other ear.  Elder Jones wanted his ear candled as well, so hence, the photo above.  It involves a 15" cloth candle in the form of a cotton candy wand.  It is hollow in the center.  You place the small end into the ear and light the top afire.  In about 10 minutes the candle burns to about 4" and you remove it, cut it open, and lots of ear wax is inside.  The principle:  heat and a vacuum.  It worked!  We even bought some of the candles and candled both of our ears and now we hear very well!

Well, yesterday the Holloways left for home and this week the Smuins will also.  The Ballards are due to arrive in Philly Monday late or Tuesday and we will have a whirlwind of training them.  I (Sister Jones) am nervous to be on my own doing the finances.  I realize the sacredness of the funds and am aware of the responsibility I have to get things done correctly and timely.  I know that through the Holy Ghost I will be prompted to remember the training I have received, but this senior mind is just a bit stressed...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Senior FHE and Trip to NYC
 Monday was still April.  We began the week by having a small golf tourney at the Paxon Hollow Golf Course just down the street.  Elder Jones organized it and they had 3 foursomes playing a scramble.  Lots of fun was had, but Elder Jones paid for that golf game all week long.  He has not golfed in over 15 years and he felt quite achy.  After the golfing the senior couples (pictured above) gathered with some additional seniors that help out the mission by inspecting apartments and had a bbq at the mission home.  It was a lovely night and we were able to eat outside.  The  couples pictured below are the Thunnels, Holloways and Smuins (left to right).  They will all be headed home after completing their missionary service by May 15.  We will miss them greatly!
 Tuesday was my birthday and I received this beautiful arrangement from John and Jessica Jones and family.  I had a really good birthday with lots of well wishes and kind gestures.  Thank you all!  That night it rained very hard and the president had to sandbag his back yard because the creek at the back of his property had burst its banks by about 75 feet.  There was significant flooding in downtown Philly as well.
 We had a fruitful week with several teaching assignment with the elders and sisters, and on Friday we headed to New York City for a two day trip.  We were joined by the Smuins, Holloways and Armstrongs, all senior couples from our mission.  We had a most delightful time.  We managed to enjoy good weather (it rained on us at the very end of our time in NYC so we ducked into a subway passage and kept out of the rain.)  The city of New York was bustling, busy, noisy and very full of traffic.  It was the first time there for both us and the Armstrongs.  We drove to Staten Island and caught the ferry to Manhattan.  Below are the sights from the ferry.

 We tried to get tickets for a tour of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island but would have had to wait most of the day to obtain tickets.  There were many school groups there on field trips.  So we took the Subway up to 42nd and when we surfaced to the street level were greeted by lots of tour agencies.  We decided to go to lunch at Bubba Gumps (delicious shrimp and fish) and decided upon the Grey Line tour.  We took advantage of 4 of the 5 tours they offered and really saw lots of the city, including Times Square, Bronx, Harlem, Broadway, Central Park, museums, Yankee Stadium, a night tour of Brooklyn, etc.  It was a very good 2 days and at the end of each day we were extremely tired.  We all decided that we liked to visit NYC but would not like to live there.
 Times Square is a very busy place with lots of neon lights.  If you have a business there you must have neon lights--it is a prerequisite.
 This is Freedom Tower.  It is being built right by the site of the twin towers.  When entirely completed it will be 1776 feet high.  Significant, right!  A very impressive sight.  Below is Elder Jones at the 9-11 Memorial pools.  The 9-11 museum will open later this month.  This is a sobering sight to even contemplate what happened here.
 Below are the Holloways, Armstrongs, Jones' and Smuins who we made this trip with.  We are standing at the only tree that survived 9-11.  It was transplated into the middle of this memorial park.  We did notice at this sight that the building directly across the street has char marks all up and down the front face.
 Central Park was very impressive.  We were there at such a perfect time--blossoming trees everywhere and tulips blooming, the leaves just coming on to the trees and New Yorkers enjoying a beautiful day.
 One of Elder Jones favorite sights was Yankee Stadium.  Close by is a memorial to Lou Gehrig.
 Animal rights activists are wanting to do away with the carriage rides, but for now they are available.
On our last bus tour the guide told us all of the spots the local New Yorkers frequent.  So when we got off the bus we headed to John's, where he said the best New York pizza was and enjoyed some really tasty pizza.  Then we headed back to the ferry on the subway and then home.  Philadelphia is only 2 hours away, so we were glad that we took this weekend to see New York City.  We are worn out, but we are looking forward to a busy and productive week.  The AP's are coming for dinner tonight.  We have zone conferences Wed, Thur, and Fri.  The office couple that we will be training are coming by next Monday.  We hope that they catch on quickly as the Smuins are leaving around the 14th of May.  We are so very blessed to be on this mission.  We are loving our service and all of these fun things make the time even more enjoyable.