May–One Year on Our Mission

 A trip to Mark and Brook’s for Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016, was special and so fun. 

Courtney, Adam, Porter, Molli 

We began our mission a year ago on May 18, 2015 and the time has flown along. The mission is having great success and is one of the top baptizing missions in North America.

May 17, 18, 19 was Zone Conference. Here we are (back center you can see Dave) at the lunch.
  
  
 Last weekend, May 21, we hung up a Texas Star in our apartment. I guess we’re getting a little Texan!  Texas Stars are everywhere — on houses, businesses, freeway pillars, inside businesses. It sort of grows on you. This star was bought at the Bluebonnet Festival we attended last month. 

 
Here’s an exciting trip to Walmart to buy cleaning supplies and bedding needs for the mission-aries. Dave has become an expert in which cleaning product really work. He’s been making lots of missionary moves. Some apartments are being closed, some need to move to be in their missionary area, some are moving because the lease ended and a better apartment was found. 

   
 Spring, rain and warmer weather has brought out lots of critters. The Assistants, Elder Wagner and Elder Taumoe’anga opened the garage door at the office May 22nd to find this little snake. Then something keeps biting Betty on legs and feet leaving red welts the itch and last two weeks. 

The missionaries are reporting bed bugs again. One apartment had to have a heat treatment.  

Outside the office on Friday, May 27, 2016, the rain began to pour again for the second day. The Taylors didn’t make it to the office as their streets were all flooded.  As we drove to the temple that night, all the creeks were running bank to bank. A couple of places the creek water was on the road even causing us one short detour.   

Normal water level

 Water level when flooding

A few days later we learned that the East TX Mission home was blocked all around by flood waters. We have stayed dry where we work and live but many places have suffered with flooding. One neighborhood north east of us was evacuated because an earthen dike could possibly break.

   
It’s been time to clean out all the old financial files in my office. This is just the beginning!

  Sister Jensen and Bates had fun learning to paint on their Preparation Day. 

April Showers & Storm

The wild flowers of Texas bloom in April. So off we went April 9th,  to see the state flower, the Bluebonnets.   

 
These purple ones are Bluebonnets. Then we also saw fields of pink poppies–acres and acres of them. 

With weather in the 70’s, a Bluebonnets Festival at Chappell Hill, TX, yummy food and our friends the Stevens, it was an enjoyable day. 

 

We toured an old firehouse museum in Brenham, TX   

   
Two of this unusual birds, the yellow crested night heron visited the little lake by our apartment and seem to be building a nest.

Sunday April 17, 2016 was our Houston North Stake Conference. Sister Jensen and I had to have a picture since we had similaiar colors. She’s a cutie.  With the Stevens and Elders Queen and James. 

 

That Sunday night the thunder started at 11:30 pm, continued with intense lightning all through the night with pouring rain. There was still lightning and thunder through the morning on Monday. A foot of rain fell in some area causing bayous, roads, and houses to flood. The street by the temple was flooded but not the temple.

Cypress Creek Bayou overflowing its banks near the temple.    The reflection of the temple in the picture below is the flooded street. The photographer used a blue lense to create the effect.

 Here are some of our elders helping flooded areas.

   

Elders Griffith, James, Barrus, Queen  

Elders Backstein, James, Queen & Hanks cleaned up tree branches at the office that were the result of the storm. 

  Dave worked at the peanut butter factory Friday night 22 April 2016 and earned his free jar take home.  

  We had a going away party for the Stevens as they are finished with their mission. Sisters Gardner, Diamond, Elder and Sister Andersen, Nelsons, Stevens, Huefners , Foxes 
Sisters Andersen, Gardner, Diamond, Fox, Nelson, Stevens , Huefner  

We gave them a print of a painting by a local artist, Ken Turner, called “I Will Go Before Your Face”. The print shows 2 actual sister missionaries of the Texas Houston Mission. As they walk a Texas road the Savior is before them with angels on the right, left and behind them.                                     “…I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” D & C 84: 88

Marvelous March

Saturday March 5, 2016 we helped at the Montgomery County Food Event. Some volunteers bagged various food item but we registered the families as they waited in a line inside their cars. There were about 10 people registering and it took 2 hours. 

   
Sisters Nelson, Weaver, Stevens and Soto

   
Nelson, Diamond, Blessing, Stevens

A young mother whom we had befriended in our apartments had a baby boy. We took several meals over for the family. Blessing, the mother, and her husband were amazed that anyone would be so kind.  

March 8th with our departing missionaries. Thorne, Fa’asao, Edwards, Ita’ahau, Larson Elder Fa’asao is from Samoa, Sister Ita’ahau is from Tonga

  
There was a Special Stake Conference with Elder Dallin H. Oaks in our stake March 13th. It was a wonderful meeting.

  
Tuesday night we go to the temple with the Stevens. March 15th we found these THM missionaries. They had been there with their own family names.

   
 Saturday, March 19th was a road trip with the Stevens to Schulenburg, TX to visit the painted churches. In the mid 1860’s the Bovarian and Cezh immigrants build humble little churches but painted the insides like their home country cathedrals. We saw 3 different ones. Pretty amazing.   

 Lunch was at this darling garden cafe where all the food was delicious!

The monthly “Faith in Family” night at the temple was March 25th. The missionaries bring their new converts to the baptistery with family names for baptism and confirmation. It’s a great experience for everyone. Dave and I check them in and take pictures afterwards.

Easter weekend took us to Mark’s family to celebrate the holiday plus Molli’s 12th birthday.

   
 It was so much fun being with them! We love living close to them.

Birthday month—February 2016

The first weekend of February found us traveling to the San Antonio area Friday evening. The Stevens and Nelson spent the night and in the morning went to Natural Bridge Caverns. We ventured down into two different caverns, the second being the largest. 

    
 One area of the larger cavern was the size of a football field. Pretty fascinating.  

After a boat ride on the Riverwalk of San Antonio, we breezed through the Alamo because the time was getting late. A phone call to Elder Stevens hastened our return. Some missionaries had their car towed and impounded. That meant the men had to go provide proof of ownership, pay money, and drive it to wherever the missionaries lived. 

   
Beautiful birthday flowers from Brent’s family brightened my office. 

 February 8th our senior missionaries went to A Taste of Texas to celebrate my birthday and Sister Stevens.  From left Foxes, Nelsons, Sister Diamond, Andersons, & Sister Davis  

 

Nelson, Stevens, Roberts, Nielson, Hendrickson, Talbot, Moray, Thorne, Mattson

 The week of February 16th-18th was Zone Conferences. We attended on the 18th and Betty along with the other February birthday missionaries were sung to and given a treat.

 Sister Sheila Butler, a convert of about 14 months, went to the temple to receive her endowments. With her is a son, Necko, recently baptized. He was being baptized at the temple for family names the same day. Many ward member were there as well as the Stevens and Nelsons. 

Missionaries who taught Necko: Griffith, Croft, Necko, young girl from the ward, Christensen, Tuigamala    

Our husbands: “Two Peas in a Pod”. They both have to be working, cleaning, or moving all the time!

Senior Conference at the Chappels home. Back -Mortensens Foxes, Huefners, Andersons,Chappell, Larsens. Front-Stevens, Nelsons, Dismond  

January 2016

The new year arrived after we left a party with fellow Senior Missionaries gathered at Sisters Diamond and Davis’ apartment. Everyone brought a treat or snack type food. Some in the group played games while eating. We had lots of fun.    

 Sister Tuigamala, Elders Craig, Whitlock, Pogroszewski , Ferrin, Vickers, Queen,  Norton, Guzman, Sister Christensen in the office during transfer week.  
In the office one day we enjoyed seeing Elder Schloer, Hermanas Van Dyke and Christensen, plus Elder Norton. They are all wonderful missionaries. The Hermanas are teaching English classes at a school. The first day of class 100 people arrived. Now the class is split and they teach 60. From teaching English, the class members get to know the Hermanas and many will start asking questions about why they are in Houston etc.

 Saturday, January 15, 2016 we drove over to Waller, TX to see this couple married. Hermanas Sherbon and Renteria have been teaching them. Hermanas Renteria is from Mexicali, Mexico but her family has a house in Yuma just off 8th Street not far from our home there.

   
This fun Saturday, January 23rd, began with a breakfast cooked by the Stevens honoring Elder Ferrin who was leaving during the next week. From left Elder Renouard, Nelson’s, Elders Progrewski, Norton, Yanzon, Visser, and Ferrin.  

 
  

Then we went to see the San Jacinto Monument dedicated to the battle Sam Houston fought near this location that lead to the acquisition of much land from Mexico. 

  

During the week at transfer day we said good-bye to a terrific missionary, Elder DeLuca.   

 The Stevens family became interested in the church because their son’s friend invited him to the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Here they are at the temple.

On the fourth Friday of each month the mission is scheduling the baptistery at the Houston Temple so new members can bring family names and be baptized for them. This was the first time and 45 new members arrived with missionaries and/or ward members. What a terrific occasion.

  
Robert Saenz, left, was baptized with his parents fall of 2015. The missionaries knocked on their door during tracting the neighborhood.

  
A Special Tri-Mission Conference was scheduled January 30th while President Russel M. Nelson was in Houston.  Each missionary got to shake his hand before the meeting started. Then we were spiritually feed by this marvelous servant of God.

  Sisters Nelson, Stevens, and Mortensen 
Elder Corbridge, President & Sister Mortensen, President Nelson

 December Activities 2015

  A great gift to us from Mark, Brooke and family. Our favorite gift.
Love these cute grandkids.  It was a very Merry Christmas.
  The favorite Christmas gift. 
Christmas morning was a lot of fun!

December 24th we worked in the office but left in the early afternoon loaded with packages that arrived that day. Out to Katy, TX, we found some of the recipients of the packages, left them very happy while we drove to Mark’s house.   
 December 23, 2015 the Senior missionaries cooked, served, cleaned up, and packed up all the things needed to serve 225 hungry missionaries. The conference was wonderful, we were able to be a part of the instruction/program for a part of it. Afterwards we were exhausted!!    

 

Some Spanish speaking Elders back: Bonzo, Thorne, Schloer, Brasher, Cabrera, Norton, ___, Iosefa, Murdock. Front: Pigott, Gibbs, Hernandez, Chavez

The Stevens grandchildren, daughter and husband were in town for a visit. They were so much help both with the set up and the food prep the next day.   
On December 22nd the packages filled up the trailer when it was time for transporting them to the conference sight the night before. They had to be sorted alphabetically, moved with a dolly to the appropriate room by Dave and Elder Stevens which took 1 1/2 hours. Sisters Sumsion and Woodard made door signs and Sister Stevens checked the gift list one more time. In the background you can see Dave wheeling the dolly full of presents into a room.

 

Sisters Woodard and Sumsion were our office sisters for two weeks before Christmas. They finished their missions on December 28th.  

Here is the office mail room filling up with packages. Sometimes Fed Ex came 2 or 3 times a day in December. There were already 100’s in the garage by the time of this picture.  
Beginning in November the missionary’s parents were asked to send one Christmas package for missionaries to receive at the end of our Christmas Conference.   

 The next afternoon we drove back to  our apartment but going through the western side of the mission. Dave needed to make some apartment inspections. The last one was in Bellville which has a darling old downtown.   
 A drive down to Missouri City, Texas on December 11th brought us to Courtney and Molli’s Piano Recital. What a great performance by all the students. The thrill of the night was that Molli received most improved student trophy.   
    
 Decorating a small apartment is fun. Small touches add the Christmas feeling. Then we decorated the mission office with the help of missionaries.

First you get the decorations out.  
Elders Murdock, Graves, Toolson, Schloer

  Hermanas Christensen, Jorgenson, Elders Roberts, Hendrickson

  
Elders DeLuca, Nielsen, and Myers put sugar cookies on the tree for missionaries to eat when visiting the office.
   Zone Conference December 3, 2015

President and Sister Mortensen’s training was outstanding. She taught about unity using Mark 3: 1-5 while President instructed us concerning the Ward Mission Purpose/Vision. Likening Nephi 8, Lehi’s dream of the iron rod to bringing non members unto making covenants.

Dave helps Elder Stevens check the mission cars on a very cold morning ( frost on the church roof) while the missionaries were inside for the meeting.  

 
   
Betty helped Sister Stevens set the tables for lunch.

The second day at a different building for Zone Conference , we had to take pictures by a tree full of fall leaves. 

   
Other fall leaves were found at our apartments and behind the mission office. 

   
This next weekend we had a heavy rainstorm with a stiff wind which lasted 2 days and stripped or blew off most of the leaves.

There’s Fall in the Air!

  
Some turkeys found their way to our apartment when the smell of pumpkin pie was strong. It’s so nice outside now.

We attended the Ponderosa Ward’s Truck or Treat activity on October 30, 2015. Then the next day Dave needed to go on a road trip around the west and north areas of the mission. The Stevens went along too. Part of the trip was to inspect three apartments for cleanliness. (The usual inspector is having health trouble.) The key didn’t work but no worries–Elder Stevens found an unlocked window. 

  
At another apartment the key also didn’t work and there was a board nailed on the outside window so it was taken off. Inside we went to look around. Besides inspecting apartments, helping empty furnishings at one being closed, we also were looking for a suitable apartment for an incoming senior couple. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015, Sister Butler, left of Dave, invited the missionaries for a dinner to show her appreciation. She was baptized a few years ago. 
   

It was raining that night and continued for 3 days. Our sidewalk at the apartments becomes a small stream as the water rushes to the parking lot.

 After the rain, sometimes mushrooms begin growing rapidly.  

 November 3, 2015, was a Transfer Day. Here we are saying good-bye to two great missionaries, Elder Awong, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Elder Platt, Utah standing in front of the office board of pictures. They were very trustworthy and helpful to Dave’s scheduled missionary moves. We will miss them both. 

   
The office fills up with lots of missionaries the two days of transfers as companionships are changed and temporary ones formed until new missionaries arrive. Elders Morris

s, Nelson, Sisters Renteria, Selee, Elders Perez, Cabrera,Whitlock, Queen.

November 7, 2015  found us at another Senior Missionary Conference at President & Sister Chappell’s (Counselor in the Mission Presidency) beautiful home. 

    
   

The day of the Senior Missionary Conference was Dave’s birthday by we didn’t sing to him. However the next day he was sung to at Mark and Brook’s house.

  

We got to meet President and Sister Mortensen’s oldest daughter, Mallory, the second week of November because she came home from her mission in New Jersey.

 
President, Mallory, Sophie, Sister Mortensen

November 16-17, 2015 the mission had a mission tour by Elder and Sister Allen Packer. (President Packer’s son) he taught the missionaries to use the family history booklets as a teaching tool. 

  
   
   
Before Thanksgiving, Sister Mortensen’s parents came for the holiday. Her parents are the President and Matron of the New Port Beach Temple in California.

  
Of course we went to Mark and Brooke’s for Thanksgiving. The first picture shows Dave and the kids after a bike ride. Then there are dinner preparation, dining and endulging in desserts.

   
    
 
On our way home the day after Thanksgiving, Dave and I stopped at several apartments to do inspections. In the ASL (American Sign Language) missionaries apartment we saw a large map of the Houston Metropolitian area on the wall which contained many colored flags. On each flag was written a person’s name representing deaf or hearing impaired individuals with whom they try to work.

   
 Meanwhile back at the office, sisters and elders come in frequently to get more teaching materials. Here are Hermanas Rupp and Dryden. (Spanish speaking)  

Now It’s October 2015

Good-bye September!  You were one super busy month.  Just take a look at this calendar for that month.  It’s filled with Financial and Travel responsibilities.  The blue, green, yellow and pink highlighting are a reminder of a travel need for one of four different transfer dates in the current month or in the months to come. Travel is in the works starting four months ahead of the actual transfer date when missionaries are being released and new ones arriving. And, of course, financials items are an everyday responsibility such as paying bills, reconciling the office credit cards, or requesting support money for the young missionaries.


 
 The Elders always find things to do outside or need to run errands. Wink, wink!

We welcomed the first weekend of October with an exciting and historical General Conference broadcast from Salt Lake City, UT.  Historical because three new apostles were called and sustained during the afternoon session of conference.  Exciting because we received so many wonderful talks by President Thomas S. Monson, the apostles, various members of the Seventy, women of the Relief Society General Presidency and Young Women’s Organization.  Dave and I watched conference at the church building where we attend meetings each Sunday.  Also watching were many of our missionaries which really was a delight to see.

Saturday Evening, while the men attended Priesthood General Meeting, the Senior Sisters traveled about 30 minutes to a restuarant called A Taste of Texas.  It was a very nice restuarant, we enjoyed the food, and celebrated Sister Betty Diamond’s birthday while there. 

Sister Lanae Anderson (newly arrived), Sister Betty Diamond, Sister Linda Davis, Sister Wyona Wolfley, and me

  

Saying hello to a Texas Ranger with Sister Mardeen Stevens

Thursday nights are usually a good time to invite some of the nearby missionaries to dinner.  This particular evening, October 8, 2015, we 

dined with Elders Stevens, Toolson, Whitlock, newly released AP Barlow, and Sister Stevens.  Elder Barlow’s appearance was a surprise.  He had returned to Houston to attend a baptism of someone he helped teach the gospel.

On an earlier week we had Elder Progrewski and Elder Murdock over for dinner. Here they are sharing a message with us.  

 On our way to Saturday night Stake Conference we found them walking along the road from our apartments to the office and church building. They were offered a ride but the missionaries weren’t allowed to attend that meeting. So they were planning to knock on some doors to share a message about Jesus Christ. There are 197 missionaries in the Texas Houston Mission both English speaking and Spanish Speaking. The mission had 40 baptisms in the month of September.                                     

 Notice how there are no sidewalks—just very deep bar pits on each side. Those pits fill up quickly when it rains.  

Speaking of rain brings up the weekend of October 24-25, 2015. That’s when the remnants of Hurricane Patricia rolled into Houston. It rained for 3 1/2 days. We drove to Mark’s that Sunday because their children were in the Primary Program. Here’s the freeway on the way there. 

   

The Primary Program was so nice. The ward has a large Primary of children. You can see Molli before church on the piano bench and all the children in the next picture showing their Perler creations. It’s so great to see them now and then.   

 Each Tuesday night we go to the Houston Temple with the Stevens taking our family names. This night, October 27,  2015, was the Stevens’ 1 year mark on their 18 month mission. So we are celebrating after the temple with a great meal at Willie’s. Seems like we are always eating out!  

It’s September already!

Seeing Mark, Brooke and the children was sure fun yesterday Saturday, September 19, 2015. We met them at the football field in their neighborhood where Adam was playing his first flag football game. Also there were Brooke’s parents who were visiting from Utah. After lunch we all headed down to Brazos Bend Wildlife Park to see the alligators.

  

There were super trees to climb, baby alligators to see, fishermen feeding their catch to a lurking alligator beneath the pier, birds, a turtle, and of course the bigger alligators.

  

It was sort of hot but we drank lots of water and had a great nature walk.

  

That evening, Elder Delucca and Edwards had a family of three who were baptized. We had met the parents last month after the President’s Missionary Fireside. These missionaries had found these three by just knocking on doors.


Elder Edwards, Sister & Brother Saenz with their son, Elder Delucca

The evening before our transfer September 23, 2015, Elder Louder called the Mission Office to ask if we had his passport.  Elder Louder is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  We had the passport so he came by to get it but before he could leave this picture was taken in front of the office’s big board of missionaires. Sister Stevens lovely prepares each picture for our missionaries.

  
Elder Nelson, Elder Croft, Elder Louder, Elder Visser, Sister Nelson

Elder Louder is a departing Assistant to the President, Elder Croft is a newly called AP, and Elder Visser is a current AP.

Time flies when you are–working hard. Our duties at the office have been filling our time 9-5 and some spilling over into the weekend. Another transfer is next week, new apartments must be secured. After the “Big Transfer” last month many threesome companionships were created because there weren’t enough experienced missionaries to assign as trainers. In fact a few missionaries who had only been on their mission 6 weeks were asked to be a trainer. So now the threesomes are being assigned into twosomes which calls for the need for new housing. Plus last Sunday two new wards were announced meaning new prosteying areas. Today, Sunday September 20, 2015, we attended church and then drove to Madisonville, Texas (about 1 1/4 hours north of Houston) to look at apartments. Here’s Dave checking one out.


We looked at several more then on our way out of town to see one more we noticed the church on the Main Street, a few cars parked there, and so we turned around. Out walked 2 couples. One couple Brother & Sister Murders have lived in this town 34 years. They said of all the apartments we had seen, the first one (pictured above) was the best location and that missionaries had lived there before. That made the decision much easier. The timing of meeting this couple was perfect. A perfect example of the Lord’s Tender Mercies in one’s life.


Here are the two cute sisters, Sister Renteria ( family lives in Mexicali, Sonora, Mexico). and Sister Jolley, who came by the Mission Office a few days later as they were moving up to Madisonville. Their car was packed with personal items. They needed some kitchen and bath things from the storage garages at the office. These items they crammed into all the little spaces. They were excited to be going to Madisonville, Texas.