Sunday, February 22, 2015


This week has been bitter cold.  The coldest was 5 degrees one morning, but mostly it was between 10 and 15 each morning this past week.  Then yesterday snow was predicted--and it cam right on time.  It was actually almost magical to watch those huge fluffy flakes come down at a rate of 5" of snow in just 4 hours.  We worked yesterday training our replacements and the photo below was us coming back from picking up some things from Walmart.  There were cars off the road or stalled in the road.  Yesterday one Elder lost his gas card in the snow and today another lost his phone...
 About our replacements.  Their names are Greg and Wendy Rose from Blackfoot, ID.  He just got released as the stake president after 9 years in the stake presidency and another 9 years as stake president.  They are really nice and we think they will do well.  The whole process of training seems just weird, though.  Corry thinks he will be done training and ready to head home by Thursday and I think I will not be done training until Saturday.  My trainee takes extensive notes (plus the 6 page instruction sheet I prepared) and his trainee has taken NONE.  I hope this all works out!
 The photo above is also us traveling home yesterday.  There were 3 heavy duty snow plows lined up side by side and slightly overlapping plowing the main road.  They do not even begin to plow until the snow is done falling.  Last night we must have got some rain because this morning it got up to 41 degrees and we basically had nothing but slush.  Church got delayed 3 hours and they just had Sacrament meeting.  So we got to say good bye once again.
When we arrived home to our little apartment this is what it looked like.  They plowed and cleared walks in the night so it is all good now.  

We are excited about tomorrow.  It is the very first conference of its kind in any mission.  We have been the beta test mission for I-pads with Facebook.  So tomorrow Elder Allen of the Mission Dept. and Elder David F. Evans of the 70's and head of the Missionary Dept. will be with us for a 5 hour training having to do with digital devices and proselyting.  Every missionary in our mission will be at the mission office building for this.  We will be busy before as Elder Jones is dispensing 3 cars to areas that have not previously had a car and I will be activating 6 phones for companionships whose phone has gone bad recently.  So no training for tomorrow...

As we commence the very last week of our mission we do so with very mixed feelings.  We have so loved this experience!  We are sad to bring it to a close, but look very much forward to enjoying our place as real grandparents to our 20 wonderful grandchildren.  Our testimonies have grown, we have made friends with senior couples that we will treasure the rest of our lives, and we have become very attached to some awesome missionaries who we hope to see in the future.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

This winter has been very mild compared to last winter, but yesterday changed all of that.  It was predicted we would get a bit of snow--and we did.  And it was also predicted that the wind would be vicious and that the temps would drop--and they did.  Today at 9:30 am when we left for church it was 9 degrees.  When we headed home almost 4 hours later it had gone up to 18 degrees--and all of this was accompanied by swirling crazy winds that froze everything they touched.  This trend is supposed to continue through the week and by next Saturday we may get up to 36 degrees.  This is weather that you avoid at all cost and just stay inside.

The week was not too eventful, but we did get one milestone.  We have a quirky older lady that we met a year ago--Josephine Chavez.  She is in her 80's and has suffered some really serious health problems this past year, making it difficult to come to church, take care of herself and everything in between.  Her husband is still alive, Dr. Hector Chavez, retired surgeon.  He also has health issues.  His neck is fused such that he must always have his chin nearly touching his chest, making it incredible hard to see anything taller than him.  I have known Josephine for a year but just met Hector Friday.  Josephine is a great photographer and many of you have received cards from me that have her photos attached.  She has given us a couple of treasured photos, my favorite being the Valley Forge Covered Bridge.  Anyway, she has wanted to see the temple that is in process here in Philly for some time.  We have agreed to take her, but she kept being unable to go the planned day, due to health problems.  But Friday she could go--and Hector too!  Sister Susan McElroy (visiting teacher to Josephine and recently released RS pres.) brought them to the office Friday morning and we headed for downtown to see the temple.  It was very cold, so we drove around the temple a couple of times and then went in to the visitors center where they could see the plans for the entire block.  They enjoyed it very much.  They had lived just a couple of blocks away from the temple site as newlyweds some 50 years ago and were most happy to tell us what building used to be at each location we drove by.  We rounded off the morning by lunch at Panera, Josephine's treat.  We felt so glad to take these two to see the temple.  

Friday night we had a Valentine party for the Senior Missionaries and Elder Jones and I got to bear our testimony again, as the next departing missionaries.  We had lots of fun with these wonderful people we have met while serving here.  We love them!  Today in Sacrament meeting we were again asked to bear our testimonies.  That makes 5 times in the last few weeks.  So we will finish the week tonight by enjoying dinner with all of our Korean friends from the Broomall Ward.  We look forward to this meal as we do so enjoy their food.  We just returned from the meal.  The photo at the end of this post is us with our Korean friends.  We enjoyed their company and the food was really fabulous.  They surprised us with a cake and some gifts--a special set of chopsticks in a case for each of us and a decoration of miniature wooden Korean shoes.  It was difficult to say goodbye to them, but they promise to visit us in St. George.  

Our replacements, Elder and Sister Rose from Blackfoot, ID will arrive probably on Saturday, 2-21-15.  That gives us a week to train them and then we will pack and begin our journey home.  We have so enjoyed all that we have participated in these last 18 months and feel very grateful to have been able to enjoy this wonderful experience.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The LAST Transfer!
 The week began as a usual transfer week.  Monday night we had dinner with all of these wonderful missionaries pictured below.  Above is a picture of us with President and Sister Anderson.  We love them!  This was a hard outgoing dinner as we have had such personal dealings with so many of these departing missionaries.  Corry has counseled some, teased some and loved them all.  I have replaced phones, cards, taken them a phone, etc.  We just love them.  Below far right elder is Elder Beatty.  He got to stay an extra week because his parents are on a cruise with all of their siblings and it was just a couples cruise.  Elder Jones has really used him to help him around the office all week.  We had him and the AP's to dinner last night.
Below is Elder Seth Bloomfield (with a crooked smile).  He is one of my VERY favorites.  We speak Spanish together.  He was coming down a hill very fast on his bike about a year ago up in the Scranton area and collided with a truck.  It threw him over the truck but he just ended up with stitches under his nose and mouth.  He is a great missionary.  A very hard working missionary.
 Below are Elders (l to r) Hellyer, Wilcock and Hopkins.  Elder Hellyer and Hopkins were both service elders with Elder Jones.  Elder Wilcock recently crashed his car TWICE in a month.  He is not on Elder Jones' good list...
This is Sister Bennett.  She has been serving downtown near the temple.  She most recently served as a Sister Trainer.  She is a very good missionary and very sweet.
This is Sister Menlove.  We love her.  She is just a very caring sweet sister missionary.  I will miss her dedication. 
 This is Sister Clark.  She had probably the first accident Elder Jones dealt with and has been unable to drive since.  She most recently served here in Broomall so we have been able to get to know her and we love her lots!
These are the incoming missionaries.  They were a very smart looking bunch.  We had 9 come to us from the Mexico MTC and they were so very excited to eat semi-American food for dinner.  Notice the very large Elder right in the middle back.  He is Elder Pule and he is Samoan but most recently from New Zealand.  He joined the church about 2 years ago (he is 22) and his family disowned him.  Today he went tracting with his companion and a man told them to never come to his house and then pulled out a shotgun and cocked it at them.  Needless to say, they were quite scared.  President had them file a police report.  (and mark the area book to never go there again) 
So on Thursday after all of the transfers were done I went to the doctor about my neck, back and shoulder pain.  I decided about 2 weeks ago that my neck was out and have had 3 chiropractic visits but the pain continued, making it almost impossible to dress, fasten seatbelts, walk, etc.  Anyway, he gave me a medrol dose pack (steroids) and after 1 day the pain was gone and I was able to sleep and move without pain.  I am so very grateful to feel back to normal!  And Elder Jones is glad not to have to do tights anymore...

Other highlights of the week were a dinner at Bishop Kim's with President and Sister Anderson too.  It was wonderful Korean food and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now to another item.  I may have mentioned this at some time, but in November we had a workshop on genealogy for the senior Missionaries and we learned a bit about Family Search.  So for the next month when I was bored at the office I would look at my family tree. In particular, I was looking to see if I had any relatives that ever lived around Philadelphia.  For all of my Hamren relatives look at grandpa Ernest Evans.  His gg-grandpa was David E. Evans and David's wife was Lettie Thomas.  Lettie Thomas' grandparents on her mother's side were Doctor Edward Jones and Mary Wynne.  

Doctor Edward Jones set out from Bala, Wales in the summer of 1682 and traveled to Liverpool, England.  He sailed to America on the ship "Lyon", landing in a Swedish town called Upland (now called Chester, which is about 12 miles east of us).  Mary Wynne, his wife, was an approved Quaker minister and a daughter of Dr. Thomas Wynne of Caerwys, Wales.  Dr. Thomas Wynne descended from Sir William Gerard, Chancellor or Ireland.  Anyway, Dr. Edward Jones and his wife Mary had many children.  Their son John attended General Washington while in Philadelphia.  Mary and Edward came to America with the first group of Welsh immigrants.  They fled Wales for religious persecution.  They were friends and contemporaries of William Penn.  They settled in Merion (8 miles from us).  So Saturday we went to the cemetery where they were buried, The Merion Friends Cemetery.  It is very old and the grave markers that are still present are from the 1800's.  Corry visited with some people meeting there and found the area that they would have been buried as some of the first buried in this particular cemetery.  As we strolled through the cemetery we saw many Jones, Wynne, and Thomas graves--undoubtedly relatives.  In the Philadelphia area there are many towns with the name "wynne" in them:  Wynnewood, Wynnefield, Penn Wynne.  Edward Jones was born in 1645 and lived until 1737.  Mary Wynne was born in 1659 and died in 1738.  Their daughter Elizabeth Jones was also buried in Merion, PA, as well as their grand-daughter, Lettie Thomas.  If you look on the fan chart for grandpa Ernest Evans you can also see Caleb Evan 5 generations back and he was also buried in Merion, PA.  Who knew we had roots so close to here.  I also found many on thie very line who lived in Delaware and Maryland within 50 miles of us.  I am grateful that these ancestors had the bravery and fortitude to come to this new land of America so that we could enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy today.  
 So their cemetery is a national historic landmark.
 This is the general area they are buried.  You can see that only a few stones remain and they are mostly smooth and unreadable.
Entrance to the Merion Cemetery.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Oh My Goodness!  January is Gone!

We had a COLD week here in the Philadelphia area.  As you may remember, the big blizzard was predicted a week ago.  As it turned out we got maybe 1".  However, that is mostly still here on the grass and parking lots.  It has been too cold to melt.  Again tonight they predict snow.  The weathermen have even said that it is a 100% chance for precip.  They are getting quite brave after the 
cold week they had last week.  I must admit that the week was a tough one for me.  I have been experiencing pain in my hands and arms and mistook it for just more of my carpal tunnel.  WRONG...I should have recognized it--my upper back, shoulders and neck were tweaked.  After Monday I was unable to sleep at night so Tuesday I had to visit the chiropractor, then again Thursday and again tomorrow.  He has been moving things around, but I still have pain and weakness.  The highlight of the week was Elder Jones putting on my tights!  That was special.  He received some tips on how to gather up the tights so they will go on without giving wedgies...By Friday I was able to dress myself and that was much appreciated as we got to attend the temple with these fine looking departing missionaries pictured below.  The day was very cold and a bit windy, so we took photos quickly.  The session was absolutely full--no empty seats.  
 We have had some wonderful associations with these missionaries and will forever remember them.  We are getting quite sad that our mission is about to end.  The photo below was shot amid a gust of wind...But you can see the happiness we enjoy.  We have so loved our mission!  When we returned back to the office later that night we were greeted to the news that the internet was out all over our stake because they were replacing the firewall.  That is NOT good news to any of us to work in the office because this week is transfer week and that means that we need the computers AND the internet to do things like prepay luggage fees, get out new rosters, actually make the transfers in IMOS (the missionary operating system).  It should be an interesting week.  Elder Jones has 12 double outs which means he has to collect keys to cars and apartments and phones and redistribute them to unknown missionaries.  He ends up with 12 plates on his desk with names of proselyting areas on them.  He has this down by now.  I have had a rash of phone replacements and also have to swap out 8 phones by Wednesday.  That is hard to do with no internet, so I may just have to drive to a place where I can get a good signal.
It was our rare privilege to welcome Elder Kent and Sister Tami Harman to Philadelphia.  They ended their mission at the Joseph Smith Birthplace in Sharon, VT on Thursday.  They are headed to St. Louis and decided to stop and see us for a day.  We were so excited!  Tami wanted to see the various Philadelphia Historical Sites and Kent wanted Philly food, so we did both.  It was absolutely frigid (It finally got up to 36 degrees at around 10 pm, but for all the time we were in Philly it did not get above 28 degrees.  Kent and Tami (Elder and Sister Harman) said that we really did not know COLD.  They have been working all month in below freezing conditions--and their work is outside.  They learned that eyeball fluid does not freeze, but nose fluid does...On a happy note, there was hardly a tourist in Philly yesterday, so we did not have to wait in line for anything!

 Below is Philadelphia Tour Guide, Elder Corry Jones in his tour guide apparel.  He managed to get us safely around all of the Philadelphia sites plus Valley Forge and then we even took them to our mission office and apartment to show them what we do and where we live.
 This was for Kent.  Any of you who went with us to Reading Market will remember Beilers Bakery.  Yes, we bought a dozen donuts...BUT, we took them to The Wilsons to play some games later that night.  As I said, Philadelphia was almost vacant EXCEPT for the Reading Terminal Market.  It is located across the street from the Convention Center where a Car show was going on and apparently all of the car show people were having lunch when we got there.
 We did a drive through of Valley Forge.  (It was way too cold to do much else, but they did get pics of the cool statues and arch and covered bridge.)  Then we ended up at Zwalens and Kent was thrilled that they had named the flavor of the day after him!  Besides the Harmans, Philadelphia was also visited by President O'bama Thursday night and I-95 was closed for a time to accommodate his visit.  This was at the same time the missionaries were trying to get to the mission home from New Jersey...
Elder and Sister Harman were released via phone, pending an actual Stake President for the official release when they return home from a side-trip to St. Johns in the Carribean.  They both want to be really nice and warm for a week.  We wish them a safe trip.  See you soon!