Sunday, January 25, 2015

Upcoming:  The LAST week of January 2015

The week progressed normally with life at the Mission office.  I was dealing with a head cold all week (which is MUCH better now).  The week was cold and we did have about 2" of snow this week.  We are headed for much more snow this week, according to the weather reports.  That always makes Elder Jones nervous, as it usually amounts to more accidents.  We have been very blessed as we have had very little injuries associated with the various car accidents that have occurred.  Angels surely do attend these missionaries!

We had occasion this week to get to know one sister missionary's story.  She had a rough childhood.  Dad left and Mom was really unfit to raise her children.  This sister did have a friend, however, and that friend invited her to come to camp with her.  After much deliberation, she did go to camp and while she was there she felt the Spirit strongly and wanted to know more.  She began going over to her friend's house often.  This made her mother mad, and on her 16th birthday she had the daughter arrested as a runaway.  When the policeman came to take her from her friend's home, however, she told the policeman about her mom's boyfriend introducing her to drugs and how she had to steal for money for her mom and the boyfriend to get drugs.  So instead, she was placed in foster care and eventually she filed for emancipation from her mother and was adopted by this wonderful family who introduced her to the church--who are now supporting her on her mission.  What an amazing journey!  And we wish her the very best as she prepares to head home next week.

We are losing 29 missionaries next week and receiving 25 new ones.  Friday of this week we will help drive the vans to take these 29 missionaries who are leaving to the Washington DC Temple.  We are excited to get to do this--except we are nervous about the possibility of snow that day...Then the process begins again:  outgoing dinner, take them to the airport, transfers, pick up the new missionaries, dinner for the new missionaries, train the new missionaries, then assign them.  All of this while Elder Jones has to pick up and then take back the luggage of those in SEPTA areas (public transit), plus close down about 3 apartments.

Our car story for the week.  We are having Family Home Evening on Monday night when Elder Jones gets a call from some Elders down south.  Their car has made horrible noises and died.  Yes--they put diesel fuel in their car!  So Elder Jones has to arrange for a tow truck at 7 pm--which does pick up the car and take it to Pep Boys.  The next day the car is drained of fuel and the lines are all blown out--$700 later and all is well.  That was a first...

We have something special happening this weekend.  Our friends, Elder and Sister Harman, who have been serving at the Joseph Smith Birthplace, are being released from their mission and will pass through Philadelphia on their way home.  So we get to spend all day Saturday showing them around the Philadelphia area and then they are planning to come to church with us on Sunday and then head to Columbus, OH where they are catching a plane and taking a well deserved WARM vacation.  We look forward to Saturday!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Our LAST Zone Conference...
The week started normally on Monday.  Lots of mail and work.  On Mondays we stay for Family Home Evening.  The AP's, the Wilsons, The Ballards, and us gather for lesson, games and treats.  The AP's had to leave early so the 3 senior couples ended up playing games.  About half way through the games Elder Jones received a phone call from a Sister missionary and she was crying.  By the time she got the story out he had calmed her down, but what a story!  The Sisters had been going to an appointment about 7 pm.  They had plugged the address into their GPS and turned exactly where the GPS indicated.  The car went "thunk" dropping about 8" and they the horrible truth--they were straddling the railroad tracks!!!!!!!  They reacted calmly at first, both getting out of the car and away from the tracks.  They called 911 and the police came.  When they saw the situation they immediately put in a call to SEPTA (the train) to let them know what was amiss.  The police officer took a flashlight and began walking down the tracks, signalling to the oncoming train to stop.  They got it stopped in the nick of time, a tow truck was called and the car taken to the lot of the towing company with instructions she could come and get it in the morning.  She had also called her district leader and he picked the sisters up and brought them to us for hugs and a blessing by the district leader.  We had an extra set of keys to their apartment, so we then sent them home.  One hour later and they call again--the keys don't work.  So back again and they spent the night at the President's home.  The next day President took them to get the car--$450 later they were back to the office and I took them to a mechanic to see that all was OK on the underbelly of the car.  It was all OK other than a slight scratch on the exhaust.  We were most grateful for their safety and clear thinking.  That was a very original situation!  As a sidenote, the officer said that she was about the 3rd person to straddle the tracks...

Wednesday we began our Zone conferences.  We traveled to Nazareth on Wed, Dover on Thursday and here in Broomall on Friday.  At each conference we both had presentations in the breakout sessions PLUS we had to bear our testimony as a departing missionary.  That was very hard and it was not any easier on Friday than it was on Wednesday.  On Thursday we had been in Dover and the missionaries pictured below, Elder Skeen (l) and Elder Marse (r) attended because Elder Marse was teaching a class on how to more effectively use Facebook to teach missionary lessons.  We offered them a ride home with us and since we were leaving about 45 minutes ahead of the AP's they took us up on it.  We had traveled all of the way back to Wilmington, DE, which is about 3/4 of the way home, when Elder Marse gets a text from the AP's saying that he has their car keys in his pocket.  And he did!  So we then had to travel BACK to Dover.  By this time it is about 7:30 and we are hungry, so we took the elders to the Hollywood Diner and all had a wonderful dinner of fish and chips.  So that was our adventure for the day.  I love Elder Marse because he is always smiling and he absolutely loves those he teaches.  Plus he teaches in Spanish and always tells me of the good Mexican food he ate.  I loved hearing their stories.  Elder Marse had been inactive and then decided to serve.  His bishop told him that he would be finished with his repentance process and ready to go March 15, so he put that on his papers.  When his call came, it was for Feb 22 and that concerned him so he went to his bishop to talk.  His bishop told him that the 12 Apostles pray over these assignments and that the date, in his case, reflected a distinct change of heart and he was ready to serve.  Since coming out his parents have reunited and been sealed, and his sister and her family have become active and been sealed.  Elder Skeen served about 8 months in the Philippines and had to come home for a surgery and then got reassigned to us.  He really misses the Phillipines.  We had a wonderful adventure with these 2 Elders and arrived home at 10 pm and immediately headed to bed.  
When we had passed over this very unique bridge for the FOURTH time on Thursday, I just had to take a photo.  Each time we passed over it the Elders would teach us that it is the highest place in Delaware.  (That means that Delaware is extremely flat...)
Today when we woke up it had been raining and the temps were very low, so the roads had sheets of ice on them.  Corry had been hearing sirens all morning.  There were many, many bad accidents.  They postponed church an hour, then called it off altogether.  So we have just been relaxing all day today hoping to get rid of our colds.  We are down to only 6 weeks left to enjoy this mission.  We will be very sad to leave, but are looking forward to our kids and grandkids.  We love them!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

P-day, January 10, 2015
 Our senior missionary friends, the Ballards and the Wilson's (Wilsons are pictured above) thought they had been to Reading Terminal Market, but actually, they had just been to the old Reading terminal, which is the end of the line for the trains and is now right under a very large 5-story mall.  So that was our outing yesterday--to show them the REAL Reading Terminal Market.  It is a very busy place, but I really love it.  Any kind of food you would ever want is somewhere inside this building.  Elder Jones chose his usual pork sandwich from Di'Nics.  This time he got it with hot peppers on it.  He loves that sandwich because it is full of flavor and very juice and is a very large sandwich.  Both the Ballards and Wilsons also got one.  I took David Jones' lead.  When David and his family was here in November, he told us of a Reuben sandwich he once had in this market while on a business trip many years ago.  He found the vendor and had it again that day, saying that it was just as good as he remembered.  So I stood in line at Hershels for my sandwich.  I chickened out on the Reuben because I do not like rye bread and sauerkraut is liked in moderation.  But I did order the brisket & cheese with Russian dressing, toasted on Hallah bread.  It was tasty!  That and a dill pickle completed my lunch.
 Then, of course, we headed for Beiler's Amish bakery and all had at least one donut.  They were warm and wonderful.  Pictured below are the Ballards joining Elder Jones while waiting for us all to gather.
 As we traveled home from Philly we received a call from Sisters Jolley (right) and Barlow (left).  Their registration had expired and they are serving in Cape May, NJ.  Because all of the mission cars are registered in Pennsylvania, they had to come here to have the inspection done prior to getting the current registration.  So we picked them up at Pep Boys and brought them home with us.  Sister Jolley is a 2013 graduate of Snow Canyon High School in St. George.  She is very much her name--jolly.  She is currently training Sister Barlow, who told us that her grandparents were raised in Colorado City and ran away, fully embracing the church and now living in the Springville, UT.  She is a golden (on her second 6 week transfer).  The sisters were a bit discouraged and Elder Jones gave them some good advice.  Then we took them for a light dinner at Freddy's and send them on their way back to Cape May.  So we had a wonderful day.
We spent the entire week trying to keep warm.  I know that this does not compare to states further north than PA, but it was quite cold, ranging from 12 to 19 degrees almost all week.  It was so very cold that for the first time in 16 months, we turned on the heat in our bedroom.  Okay, so I allowed the heat to be turned on because I was so cold at night.  Today the weather broke and it was 38 degrees.  We are expecting snow tomorrow.  We hope that the snow dumps on us and goes away, for we have zone conferences Wednesday through Friday of this week and will be traveling again to Nazareth, PA and Dover, DE.  This will be our last zone conference and we are quite sad about that.  President usually has all of the outgoing missionaries bear their testimonies at this time.  I hope he forgets us because I do not want to become so emotional that I cannot express myself intelligently--and that often happens.  So we are beginning our "lasts".  Today at our ward pot luck people must have sensed we were soon to leave because we received 3 dinner appointments.

Speaking of leaving, this week we received word that our replacements agreed to enter the MTC on Feb 9 instead of March 16.  That will enable us to have about a week to train them before we are scheduled for release.  It will be a little tough, because while they are going through training we have no transfers nor zone conferences, and these are the 2 things that make what we do complex.  So we will just do all we can and then pray for them.  Their names:  Elder and Sister Rose from Blackfoot, ID.  He has been a stake president.  They will not need our apartment, as Sister Rose has MS (controlled) and 2 knee replacements and Elder Rose has a hip replacement.  So they will be needing a ground floor apartment.  We have enjoyed our little apartment.  It is small, easy to clean, close to the mission office, and the stairs have actually been good for us.

We do so appreciate all of the blessings we have received by serving at this time.  We feel very blessed.  John called us last night to tell us that our home is now vacant and that the renters left it very clean--so clean that nothing needs to be done until just before we come home.  What a blessing! I have been searching google maps lately for just how to travel home.  We went to take the southern route and avoid snow and view some states we have never before seen.

My thought for this week:  I noticed on Facebook a post from a missionary that was originally quoted by Neal Maxwell"  "If it is fair, it isn't a true trial".  I have been pondering on it this week and have come to agree full-heartedly with the truthfulness of that statement.  It has helped me shake myself and realize that perhaps something that is bothering me is indeed a test and that it is for my best good to go through it and learn something from the experience.  So I have to adjust my thinking and re-evaluate my reaction.  Something I will be working on this year...

One last item.  Today when we arose there was something missing--HOT WATER!  and it was freezing cold, so a cold shower was not an option.  So I heated up pots of water and we had sponge baths.  Right now the water is off so the maintenance person can fix the leak that started all of this.  So it just helps us become very aware of how grateful we are for the very easy lives we lead.  It makes me think of the pioneers and the pilgrims who settled this part of the country and just how they survived the winters.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's January 2015!

The week just seemed to fly by.  We were both busy.  Corry had some accidents that he wanted to wrap up, some cars that he needed to get in for repairs, and some apartments that he wanted to get cleaned out, and a car to sell.  It was a busy time for him.  I just had some end-of-year financial things that I had to get done before year's end.  

Monday we began the week having our senior missionary Holiday Party.  We had 26 in attendance.  The photo below is all of us crowded into the family room at the mission home.  We enjoyed a lovely ham dinner with lots of other good food.  It is always good to visit with these special people that we have come to love.  We got to play some chimes to various Christmas carols, and then we exchanged gifts.  Again this year we ended up with a cozy throw which is exactly what we wanted.  This one is even a Christmas themed one.    
We learned from our mission president and his wife that since the age change for missionaries and the great influx that subsequently occurred there has been a drastic increase in the number of mission presidents hospitalized for cardiac problems.  So his take is that they will make smaller missions but more of them.  So we do wonder if our mission will be split off with some others to create more missions in the northeast.  President and Sister Anderson will be traveling to SLC for some meetings with mission presidents, so perhaps they will find out something there.  
On New Year's Eve The Ballards, Andersons, Wilsons, Jones' and Elder Carr went over to the Camden, NJ side of the Delaware River to watch the fireworks.  The city of Philadelphia shoots them off from a barge in the river at 6 pm and 12 midnight on New Year's Eve, so we picked the early show, bundled up very well (it was about 34 degrees) and enjoyed the 15 minute extravaganza.  The photo above is just a sample of the fireworks over the river with the city of Philadelphia in the background.  Afterwards we got together at the mission home for a light dinner and some games.  It was really fun.

January 1, 2015 saw us heading to Jen and Brant's in Vienna, VA to spend the weekend with them.  We found them without their kitchen, but doing quite well as Jen tries to cook from the basement entertainment area.  Her biggest problem is that the frig is upstairs in the laundry room, so she has to tote things lots.  That and the fact that there is only the bathroom sink where you can get any water on the main floor.  But her cabinets had all arrived, so hopefully the next few weeks will show a huge improvement in the new kitchen area.  We ate out a few times and utilized the crock pot and rice cooker and microwave for everything else.  We played lots of games and grandpa got to watch lots of football.  He tweaked his back somehow and is now paying for too much sitting, but a trip to the chiropractor will probably help that.  It was good to be able to see Cole on this visit.  The weather was mild with temps in the 40's and 50's and rain.  Today on the way home we saw 4 accidents so traveled very cautiously.  While away Corry had one minor car accident reported and I received 1 call that a companionship had lost their phone.  Not too bad...

We are just starting to talk of going home.  It is only 2 months away that we must leave this mission and return to normal retirement life.  We have been reviewing if there is anything else we want to see or do and just how to travel home.  We plan to take a southerly journey to minimize the winter driving conditions and see some country we have never seen.