Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 in Vienna, Virginia
 We have had a wonderful Thanksgiving Week.  We have so very much to be grateful for:  being on this mission, our family, our health, our testimonies, this gospel, living in this country, the beauty we are surrounded by.  Today at church a wonderful young woman with a palsy of some sort bore her testimony of just how wonderful life was and admonished us to grab on to all that was good.  She had to speak slowly because of her condition--and she walked slowly as well, but her attitude and smile just filled the room with the spirit.  It was quite inspiring.  I echo her thoughts:  we have so much good and lovely around us that we need to grab onto it.

Monday 25 of our senior missionaries got together for a Thanksgiving Feast.  It was a wonderful time to gather, enjoy each other, be uplifted by each other and enjoy a delicious meal.  We have 3 senior couples leaving in Dec. and 2 were able to attend, so we heard their testimonies.  They all want to serve again.  The 3rd couple is doing records preservation and just felt that they needed to stay and complete all they could.  They are not presently being replaced.  Of the 3 leaving couples, only 1 has a replacement coming.  WE NEED MORE SENIOR COUPLE MISSIONARIES!
 Thanksgiving day we got up early and by 4:30 am we were on the road to Jen's.  We arrived before anyone was awake, even!  The traffic was almost nonexistent at that hour.  Jen and Angie had prepared most of the food the day before, so we did not have too much to do.  However, Jen is in the midst of having her kitchen remodeled, so we had but half of the kitchen to work with.  She somehow convinced the contractor to leave her a stove and sink and 1 frig until after this weekend.  David and his family were there, so we enjoyed spending time with 2 of our children and their families.  David and his family left us Sunday night of last week and headed towards New York City.  They stayed in Newark, NJ and did NYC all Monday.  The walked the Brooklyn Bridge, did Central Park, the ferry from Staten Island, Rockefeller Plaza and all the other NYC downtown things.  They liked it.  The next day they traveled to Jen's via Gettysburg and toured that historical site.  The younger children were fairly tired of history, but they did see 2 Smithsonians on Friday, and some monuments yesterday.  The pictures above and below are of the 21 guests for Thanksgiving.  We enjoyed meeting Gifty from Ghana, and another family from their ward, as well as Kim from their ward and Brian Jeffries who often comes.  The meal was wonderful!
 I think Chelsea only ate rolls...
 Chelsea, Hannah, and Gifty.  Gifty just became a member of the church this past summer.  We dared her to try mashed potatoes and gravy but she just would NOT.  She thought that was the weirdest combination ever.
 Hannah arose the morning after Thanksgiving to begin Christmas.  She had already taken Morgan and Chelsea to her store (Hallmark) and got them--and ME--Christmas stockings.  This is the Rudolph look for her truck and below, Hannah in the truck with the matching antlers...
 Correct, we are not done.  Apparently Hannah LOVES Christmas and she ordered this "Elf" sweater from Amazon, complete with hat.  I loved it!
 We brought Marbles and Jokers with us, as well as Skipbo and we had two tables of games going most of the time.  The Marbles game became a bit intense at times.  Joining us on Friday night was Sam, Hannah's boyfriend.  Everyone joined in learning this new game--and everyone played it.
 We could only play 8 at a time, so some played Skipbo in another room.
All and all we had a wonderful weekend.  We especially thank Jen and Brant for their hospitality and hard work in making it all turn out so nicely.  I even got to attend a Craft Fair where I saw lots of fun Christmas items that I had to turn away from, as I do not have room to take anything more home.  I did purchase a Christmas bracelet from Hallmark when we went in to see Hannah and take advantage of her wonderful discount.

Once again, it is another month gone...Our names appeared on the departing missionary list that the Mission secretary keeps on her desk.  It was sad...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Philly with David Jones Family
We had a really good and busy week.  The story of the week happened on Tuesday.  We were just about to sit down to dinner--so about 5:30 pm when the phone rand.  Elder Jones picked up the phone to this:  "Elder Jones I think we have a problem".  Elder Jones responded with "OK, what is the problem?"  Elder Cowley went on to explain the situation.  (Elder Cowley has CF, so he regularly has to come to visit the doctor in Philly).  They were in the doctor's office for about 3 hours and when they came out of the appointment their car was gone.  As it turned out they had parked in a NO PARKING zone.  The sign was obscured by a tree, so they did not see it.  As they looked harder at the sign they found out the number where the car was impounded, called, and were told they could come and get the car.  But the impound lot was a few miles away and it was very cold out and they did not have coats (in the car...)We were about 1 hour from them, so that was not a good option.  So Elder Jones instructed them to find a C Store with heat and remain inside and he contacted another senior couple who live downtown.  The Symes were gracious to help and they picked up the missionaries and took them to the impound lot.  $200 fine to repossess the car.  The missionaries luckily had personal credit cards from home and split the fine.  As they were waiting for the man to process the paperwork he got a phone call from his wife.  He explained what he was doing and apparently the wife talked him in to lowering the fine to $100.  Those missionaries were so very happy.  They traveled from the Scranton area for the doctor's appointment, so they decided to spend the night with the AP's.  So they headed for the freeway and somehow managed to get on the wrong one and ended up in New Jersey.  They had to pay the toll to get back to Philly!  They had quite the adventure.  We got to visit with them the next morning and Elder Jones was sure to give them a bad time.  The second thing that happened was on Wednesday night.  The service elders from the Widener Ward had a baptism last week of a young woman.  So this week she got married.  The wedding was to be at the ward building and the missionaries had decorated the place, etc.  Elder Bergman is funny anyway, and he was all ready to sit down and witness the ceremony (the bride was 1 1/2 hours late) when the bride approached him and said that she had no family able to attend as they lived in New York, so would he give her away--acting in her father's place.  He was very astonished and as he said "more confused than a chameleon in a skittles bag".  We teased him the next day to say that we did not know that the term "service" elder included that!  Elder Jones sold 2 cars this week--he is out of real estate and into used cars...
 We had a wonderful weekend as well.  Friday David and his family flew into Washington DC to visit with Jen and her family.  They rested a few hours and then came up to spend time with us.  So Friday we took them to "Tony Lukes" in South Philly for their famous sandwiches.  Dave had the pork sandwich with broccolirabe.  Some of the kids had inside out pizza and the rest of us had mostly Philly Cheese Steaks.  It was delicious.  The only bad thing--Chelsea fell asleep just before we ate and did not wake up til 2 am.
 Saturday was quite nippy in Philly.  It was mostly the wind.  It was about 45 but felt much colder.  This is Morgan at a store that is called "Mo-Mo's".  And that is her nickname so we had her pose.    We were able to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.  Then we toured the side streets and saw Betsy Ross' house and the old Christ Church.  Caleb (below) is pictured sitting in George Washington's pew.  It was the largest pew in the church as he was one of the wealthier parishioners..
 Bryce is pictured below at Elfreth's Alley--the oldest street in America that is still inhabited.  The houses here go for over 1 million and we saw 2 that were for sale.
I had them pick the door that they liked and Chelsea Rose picked this one.  She had a good time!  After touring we headed further uptown to the Reading Terminal Market which was really bustling because it was a Saturday afternoon.  We each got what we wanted and enjoyed it.  David had been there some 9 years ago and had a Reuben sandwich and he found the place and had it again and said that it was as good as he remembered it to be.  We also waited 15 minutes in the Amish Bakery line for hot doughnuts.  The best was deemed the Elvis--chocolate, peanut butter and bacon on top, I think.  Anyway, the fritters were wonderful too.  Elder Jones--plain old Glazed...
 Sunday the family attended Sacrament with us and then we showed them the mission office, took them to see our small apartment and had lunch, then headed to visit Valley Forge.  Every time I go to that place I get a lump in my throat.  It has a sacred feel to me.  I really like that park.  This is Chelsea and Caleb as George and Martha Washington.

 Left to right:  Caled, Angie, Corry, Bryce, Chelsea, David and Morgan Jones in one of the 12 man cabins that have been restored in the park.  This one had a fireplace.  Below are Corry, Morgan and David in front of a similar cabin.

 The whole family in front of one of the cabins.  We certainly enjoyed their visit.  We parted at Valley Forge and they headed up to see New York City for a couple of days.  We will reunite at Jen's for Thanksgiving in Vienna.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Transfer Week, November 2014
It was a very busy week.  It all began last Saturday as Elder Jones has the Service Missionaries go downtown and pick up all of the luggage from the missionaries who do not have cars.  They ride the bus and they can get here, but the mass transit system does not allow for them to take that much luggage on the bus.  So we store it here at the mission office (Elder Jones found an unused room and convinced the FM person to let him use it).  Then Monday all 26 of these missionaries came to the mission office and turned in their I-pads, then headed for downtown Philadelphia for a last look at the city, and the temple.  Then they come to the mission home where we enjoyed a lovely ham dinner, took photos, saw a slideshow, bore testimonies and just enjoyed each other's company.  This was the first departure dinner that was really sad for us.  We just know most of these missionaries and have had personal experiences with them and they are dear to us.  We will miss them and always remember them!  Sister Amy McNeil, front with a red scarf, has been very special to Elder Jones as they have met together.  Her parents came to pick her up and it was wonderful to meet them.
 Sister Stephenson.  She is such a sweetheart.  She sings like an angel, is a bit spicy, and BEAT Elder Jones in a game of PIG once.  So when she arrived at the mission office he made her go play another few games until he could end on a winning note.  She was gracious and obliged.
 Sisters Hyatt (L) and Sagers (R).  They are both really good Sister trainers.  Such cuties!
 Sister Suckow.  You think you had it bad, Tom and Dave--her parents moved to ALASKA while she was serving!  She loves to tease Elder Jones.
 Elder Taylor.  Personality plus.  I have loved him for almost a year.  He was our Zone Leader when we arrived.  We have inspected his apartment and he has convinced me to make treats for his zone meeting.
 Sister Wilson.  She has served with us here in Broomall.  She is an excellent missionary, person, teacher, friend, etc.  We absolutely adore her.
 Sister Hall.  She also sings like an angel.  She plays the guitar as well.
 Elder Mower.  Everyone who serves with him has crazy stories to tell about him.
 Elder Jensen.  He has served as a service Elder these past 6 weeks.  He attended our ward so I got to feed him a few times.  Good Elder!
Sister Kaydee Taylor.  We are practically related!  I love her.  She is from St. George and her mom is best friends with Jessica's sister Amy Christensen. 
 Sister Palmer.  She is one of the Sisters stuck on the mountain last winter in the snow.  She is a fine missionary.
 Elder Toilolo.  He has served with us a VERY long time in the office as an AP.  He is 25, has his bachelors degree, will be married next month and I predict he will eventually be a stake president in Hawaii.  He is just a natural leader--and very dedicated and humble as well.  We will so miss him!
 Sister Foote.  She served in our ward for several transfers and we came to count on and appreciate her gentle way, her patience, and her great ability to teach.  She is ONE TERRIFIC MISSIONARY!
 Elder Spackman.  I call him "Spackie".  He is rather crazy, but so much fun.  He got mad last year and put his fist through a wall, breaking it and requiring surgery.  When he trained his last Golden, he "knighted" him.
 Elder Stucki.  He is a computer whiz and created a program for Elder Jones to help the missionaries keep within their allotted miles for the month.
 Elder DeMoors.  He served with Elder Taylor as our Zone Leaders and I sure do love him.  He is from Atlanta.  His dad died in the Gulf War.  The Church uses his family often for videos and stories in the Ensign.  A Fine Elder.  These departing missionaries stayed at the Mission Home for the night, then Tuesday at 5 am Elder Jones headed back to the Mission Home to drive the U-Haul loaded with all of their luggage to the airport.  Then Tuesday Morning at 10 am we had transfers.  They transferred about 160 missionaries, so the Mission office was busy!  They also closed down some areas, so that involved giving keys and phones and cars from one area to another.  We did pretty good to keep up with it all...Then we fed the 19 new Trainers who would soon be getting "golden" companions and held their training.  As soon as that was over we headed back to the airport to pick up the 19 "goldens".  Then we had dinner with them and Elder Jones has to interview each one to determine their ability and desire to drive a car.

Our newest missionaries, straight from the Provo and Mexico City MTC's.  They look pretty good for being up since 2:30 am.  They are pictured here in front of the Mission Home.  Wednesday morning we have training with them, and then they were paired up and sent off with their trainers.  The rest of the ween centered on recuperating from all of these changes.  Elder Jones had the service elders delivering luggage both days and then cleaning out apartments and moving missionaries the rest of the week.  My job--get their money correct and update the phones.

As for our missionary work, our ward is holding the "40 Day Fast:  That is where a family in the ward fasts one day, then another the next and so on, for 40 days.  They are to pray for a name to invite to investigate the church, have a missionary experience with, etc.   Elder Jones and I fasted for help to teach our investigator, Barbara Johnson.  Last week we taught her the Plan of Salvation.  She was quite responsive and Elder Jones was happy to use his visual aides.  Tomorrow we are teaching her more about the atonement.  She continues to attend church, reads the Book of Mormon and attends the Institute Class, but does not want to be rushed into actually joining the church.  We have promised to take our time and fully answer her questions.  Today she particularly enjoyed the Primary Program.  (She has taught elementary school and loves children).  It was a very good program.  2 of the girls, ages 11 and 6 even accompanied one song on their violins.  We are ending up the day by having the Sisters to dinner and then we will skype an "after baptism" lesson with them to their recent convert, John.  We have been teaching him with them for a couple of months and it was good today to see John bless the sacrament and hear of his joy at attending the temple yesterday to be baptized for 2 of his family members.

We have a busy week ahead.  Our son, David, and his entire family will be here sometime Nov. 21 to visit for a couple of days.  We are excited to be with them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Deep Vibrant Fall
 As I mentioned last week, I am concentrating on being thankful.  It really is not hard.  This past week we had a slight cold snap and some rain and that resulted in many leaves falling.  Those that remained, however, are the deep rich oranges, reds, and purples.  They are my favorite.  The photo above was taken as I drove home from dropping off Elder Jones as he picked up the president's new car, a GMC Acadia.  It is near the Merion Golf Course and is quite beautiful.  I am thankful that as fall closes in around us and the trees prepare for winter that the process is so enticingly beautiful.  It could have been created in shades of brown, but we get to enjoy yellow, green, purple, red, orange, gold and all colors in between.  I have enjoyed just riding around this week.  I have been in search of the "perfect tree"  The photo below is our church and a big old tree right in front.  Each day we get to see its progress in color.
 We are preparing for another transfer week.  Tomorrow we have the departing dinner for 26 very wonderful missionaries who have completed their service.  We know each of them personally and have had dealings with each of them and it is really hard to bid farewell.  We will miss them greatly!  Because our AP's will both be gone in the next 2 transfers, our one new AP began with us on Monday of this week.  His name is Elder Watt and he is a farm boy from Blackfoot, ID.  He is a good worker and seems to be blessed with common sense.  We are glad to have him.  On Tuesday we receive 19 new missionaries.  As we continue to decrease in numbers in the next few transfers we are going to be closing down 5 apartments this month.  That means work for Elder Jones to clear them out, and work for me to follow up on the paperwork involved.  Wednesday we train the new missionaries, and then we get back to our regular routine in the office.
Yesterday was a good day.  We traveled to Anabel's for a wonderful Mexican dinner in the early afternoon.  Then we joined our friends, the Wilsons, from Veyo, for games.  They had visitors:  Dave and Marty Zohner from Veyo.  They have just completed their mission in Palmyra, NY working as historical site missionaries.  They knew our friends, Neil and Deonna Fuller, who also served in Palmyra.  Turns out they are quite good game players and we enjoyed 3 rousing games of Marbles and Jokers.

I am grateful today to be able to assist in teaching the gospel with the missionaries assigned to our ward.  Today we taught another "after baptism" lesson to John Wocjek.  Today he received the priesthood and he plans to go to the temple this coming weekend to do baptisms.  He got help from his friends at the family history center and they prepared the papers so John could be baptized for his paternal grandfather, Andrew Wocjek.  Monday Elder Jones and I are teaching the Plan of Salvation to our friend, Barbara Johnson, who we have been assigned to teach.  Basically she knows it is true, she just wants to go slowly and be absolutely sure of what she is committing to.  We promised to follow her wishes...  Today we decided to attend the Widner Ward in Chester, PA to see some wonderful outgoing missionaries, Sister McNeil and Sister LeCheminant.  Sister McNeil spoke and played the violin and Sister LeCheminant sang.  We were so glad we attended.  Then we returned to our own ward for the last meeting and our monthly pot luck.  Why don't they do these in Utah?

I am grateful for my children and for their support in every way as we serve this mission.  They have each helped financially as we have served.  I pray that this unselfish gift to us will serve your family with the spiritual gifts you desire.  We love you and thank you for your help to us!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November--A Month of Thanksgiving
 I am happy that Thanksgiving is late in November this year so that this very special holiday has almost 4 weeks of recognition.  Hopefully we are thankful all year, but I am going to concentrate this year on having a heart full of gratitude--because I really do have so very much to be grateful about!
Today Anabel (I found the correct spelling of her name...) Sanchez Velasquez was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Elder L. Corry Jones.  It was a great day.  Anabel even took her 2 boys and went to the Washington DC temple yesterday.  She has already sent referrals for missionaries to teach her family members in Mexico and she is anxious to do family history work and then ordinances for her deceased family members.  She is such a sweet lady.  AND, she invited us for some more wonderful Mexican food next Saturday, along with the young elders who taught her.
 The rest of the photos were taken on the way home from church today.  The fall colors were vivid all last week, but yesterday it rained and then blew wildly all night, so most of the leaves have fallen to the ground.  There were downed branches littering the back roads that we take to go to church.  But you can see the beauty that surrounds us as we head to church.  I really do like a Philly Fall!
 The next 2 photos were taken in the Cumberland Cemetery.  We pass this very old cemetery each week as we head to pick up Tom Lee and take him to church.  Above--a delicate tree with still vibrant coloring.  Below:  A backdrop of color amid the grave markers.
The week passed ever so quickly.  Elder Jones was busy all week attending to cars.  Last week he distributed 7 new cars and this week he has been taking them in for various servicing requirements prior to selling them.  Every time I saw him leave he was driving another car to either the body shop or Pep Boys.  This was in addition to helping various missionaries get their cars serviced.  By Friday he just wanted to come home and rest.  I also had a busy week.  Wednesday we had the head finance person for the Missionary Department come to visit.  I worked with him most of the day.  I learned lots and he helped me see some things that needed cleaning up in the books.  So I will work on taking care of those items this week.  We had two meetings this week where we fed the missionaries lunch, 50 on Tuesday and 40 on Friday.  We ended the week by attending our ward's fall festival/chili dinner/after Halloween party.  It was very enjoyable and there was tons of good food.

Today is Fast Sunday and as a mission we are fasting for Elders Evan Wilson and Gary Ballard, both senior missionaries who are experiencing difficult health challenges at this time.  Elder Wilson has Mineers and had a very bad bout with it for a couple of days this week.  Elder Ballard has a pinched nerve in his back and has yet to be pain free.  This week he is planning on a shot to help with the pain.  We have concern for both of them because completing their mission assignment has been hard. Their wives are also stressed out about them.  This just reinforces to Elder Jones and I how very blessed we have been while we have been serving here.  We have been in good health and are so thankful for that blessing.  We continue to thoroughly enjoy our mission here.  The time is passing too quickly.  The only reason to look forward to going home is seeing our family.  We do miss them.