Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday morning was the only day to haul furnishings to Sisters Pinster and Selee for a newly leased apartment. They had been in the place for a week without furnishings but there were other apartment moves to make during the week plus  the missionaries were having Zone Conferences with President Mortensen. So 6 elders arrived to help load the trailor and 6 different ones did the unloading.  

   
On the way we bought gas at a famous service station/ store called Buc-ee’s. It is huge, interesting and full of all sorts of stuff. 

   
With us on our adventure were Elder and Sister Stevens. Elder Stevens drove the rig.  When the trailor was unloaded at the Sisters apartment in Caldwell, TX, we drove on to College Station.  

 Lunch was at Abuelo’s restaurant. With a full stomach, we were ready to visit the George Bush Memorial Library. We all enjoyed our time there immensely. 

    
 Dave had a chat with George about UN issues while I took care of his phone calls in the Oval Office.

Rewarding Weeks: July 13 – August 16, 2015

July 18 & 19 was birthday time for Porter and Brooke. We joined them on Sunday the 19th to have birthday cake and ice cream with them. It surely was fun. 
Our trainers, Elder and Sister Edwards, have left us on our own the last 2 weeks for part of the day or whole days at a time.  It’s a little daunting to be entirely responsible for these positions.  But even though we make mistakes, (and as our daughter, Stephanie, told us) that’s how we learn.

And so, the past two weeks have past by quickly.  Then the weekend of August 8-9, 2015 arrived with lots of interesting events in which to be engaged.

On Saturday, August 8th, Dave needed to investigate a few apartments in the north part of our mission in the area of Caldwell and College Station, Texas.

  
  

He was able to secure an apartment in College Station without difficulty, but Caldwell wasn’t so easy. He had to travel back to Caldwell (100 miles one way) three more times.


That evening we attended two baptisms. Here we are with: Elder Whitlock, Sister Stevens, Elder Stevens, the Nelsons, & Elder Schinn.


The second baptism was in Spanish. The sister are: Sister Jorgensen (she swam with Kaylani in high school) & Sister Sumison.


In the morning I played the organ for Sacrament Meeting. It’s vacation time for ward members but I am always there.  That evening was another Houston Temple ground tour.  Along with Elder and Sister Stevens, we helped transport the family of the young who had been baptized on Saturday.   This is the Antwine family at the front doors to the temple.

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August 12, 2015 has become known as the “Big Transfer!”  That day our mission received 32 new missionaries on one day which is a record.  Here are some picutres that Sister Mortensen took at the airport.  Some of the missionaries returning home from their mission on August 12th are in the first picture.

 

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Then it was time to greet the newly arriving 32 missionaries.

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President Mortensen is in the front with a red tie leading the gang down the escalator.

    

Working at the Office. ┬áJuly 8 – July 12, 2015

To start our day Monday through Friday, the two of us exercise. We either go to the apartment rec room and walk on a tread mill or walk around a small lake outside our apartment door. We see different animals in the mornings. There are also deer in this area which we’ve seen while driving to the office in the mornings.

   
Dave and Betty work at the Texas Houston Mission Office 9 am to 5 pm. Our apartment is on the same road as the office about a mile north. So we are able to drive home each day for lunch. 

   

It’s been interesting to watch the younger missionaries come into the office to aquire visuals and teaching supplies. A couple of Sisters wanted a large print set of scriptures for an elderly lady. Another day two Elders needed a Book of Mormon in Armenian for a man. In a metropolitan city like Houston, many ethnics and languages are present. 

   
   
These pictures show the variety of languages the missionaries can use if the need arises. Our mission also has American Sign Language missionaries. It’s quite impressive to me how everyone, no matter their native language or customs, are loved and sought after by our Heavenly Father. His eternal plan is for all men, women and children.

A huge thunderstorm, Transfer, & fireworks! June 22 – July 4, 2015

The next weekend on June 27th, we experienced a real Houston thunderstorm.  We were at the church 1/2 mile from our apartment when the rain was just beginning.  Betty was practicing hymns on the organ to play on Sunday services.  The lightning and thunder was all around us when it struck very nearby.  There was a crackling and sizzling sound on the speakers above the organ, the lights blinked, and the organ went off.  It was decided maybe we’d better get back to our apartment.  Dave drove the car around to a closer door, the parking lot was already a lake, Betty jumped in and off we went.

lightning-10The street was flooded as well as our apartment parking lot.  In ankle deep water we sloshed our way to the apartment with lightning and thunder flashing and booming around us.  It poured for hours and then again in the early morning the rain, lightning and thunder began again.  By 12:15 p.m. when we arrived at church, the 4 inches of rain water was all drained away.  The city of Houston knows how to build effecient drainage in all the parking lots and by streets.

Dave and Betty experienced the business of transfer day for the first time on July 1st.  President and Sister Mortensen with the Assistants to the President, transport all the departing missionaries who have completed their mission to the airport. There they wait until all missionaries are safely on their flights.

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This photo shows only part of the group leaving.

Then with anticipation of meeting all the new missionaries arriving, they wait some more.  Here are the 24 new missionaries that arrived July 1st.

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The office workers, that’s us, are busy at the church building next to the Mission Office setting up food, tables, booklets, and folders for all the new arrivals. When they arrive, the President says a few words and then leaves the new missionaries to be trained by the office staff while they eat a snack.

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Elder Whitlock, newly arrived, and companion Elder Schinn

One new arrival, Elder Whitlock, is from Indio, California where lots of dates are grown.  We were excited to talk with him.  As we mentioned that we were from Yuma, Arizona, Elder Whitlock gave no recognition to our statement.  He’d never heard of Yuma.  But he has arrived with great readiness for the work  and along with Elder Schinn are assigned to the ward we attend on Sundays.

In the arriving July 1st group, four sister missionaries were not able to travel with the larger group.  At the MTC, a small bat was found in their room.  So all four were required to stay in Provo at the MTC for 10 days and receive rabies shots.

The following Friday, July 10th, the “Bat Sisters”, as they lovingly became named, arrived.  This was the first time for Dave and Betty to instruct new missionaries.

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Betty trained these cute sisters about their support cards (debit cards for daily living costs), turning in their utilities bills quickly, the necessity of recording their expenditures to track their balance, and about their medical cards.  Each Elder receives $140/month while the Sisters are given $150.  In a companionship, that’s $240/$300 per month. Dave instructed them concerning taking care of their apartments, being good stewards and representing the church with orderly living quarters.  Also he talked about the rules in using cell phones.

Elder Stevens tells new missionaries about driving their cars, the electronic tracking devise, Tiwi, in the car which monitors agressive driving, speeding, and hard braking with a computer voice prompting.  Too many violations means that missionary can’t be a driver.  Sister Stevens informs them to notify her about their progress in missionary work and baptism information.  The office workers are a support system for missionary work.

The week of 4th of July we had several activities to celebrate this holiday. The Senior missionaries, Elder and Sister Wolfley were given free baseball tickets at the church’s peanut butter factory where they serve and work. This factory is next door to the mission office. So after work on July 1st we all loaded into the Stevens’ truck, traveled downtown to the Minute Maid Sunkist stadium to watch the Astros play.

 
Sister Wolfley, Sister Stevens, Nelsons

The Wolfleys and Stevens in front of us.

  
It was dollar hot dog night. Can’t pass that up. And the Astros won the game.

On the 4th, the same group went to a very nice area called the Woodlands to watch fireworks.

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Tropical Storm Bill and a Busy Week: June 15-21, 2015

Monday afternoon, June 15, we were at the mission office when a call came from President Mortensen for all missionaries to make sure they had food and water for the coming Tropical Storm, Bill.  We left to shop at the grocery store where we found a busy crowd also stocking up.  The water was almost all gone. The next two days were raining now and then and a little windy the second morning.  But Bill didn’t produce the heavy rain that was predicted.

 

We had a Senior Missionary Conference to attend on Saturday, June 20th, at President Chappel’s home.  President Chappel is a counselor in the Mission Presidency.  He and his wife hosted a luncheon serving the main course while all the missionaries brought pot luck items.  We took some date stuffed with cream cheese which were quite popular plus a dessert.  The luncheon was enjoyable and we were able to meet some new Senior Missionaries who serve in other parts of the mission.

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Front row:  Wolfleys, Diamond, LeBarons, Edwards, Johnson, Betty, Stevens       Back row: Chappel, Ardmores, Edwards, Johnson, Dave

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Sunday, June 21, 2015, Mark and Brooke invited us to spend Father’s Day with them.  We drove down, attended church with the family, enjoyed a wonderful dinner, and had fun being with them.  While the adults were talking, the children went outside, began to investigate the garden, and came back with a surprise.

 

The garden hadn’t been tended for a couple of weeks because of all the rain Houston had been receiving. So the kids found these giant zucchinis.

June 8 – June 14, 2015 Lots of Activities at the Temple

The second week of serving in the mission office found us learning more about our duties.   Elder and Sister Edwards are our trainers and we learned new responsibilities each day.  The Edwards will be training us for the first month and then leaving us on our own part of the time during the second month.  After the second month, their mission will be complete.  We are grateful for their diligence and teaching.

Betty is learning the responsibilities of the financial secretary: pay bills for the mission, write lots of letters related to missionaries arriving and being released, requesting the airline tickets, adding money to individual missionary support cards, and etc.

Dave’s duties include arranging for apartments, furnishings, monitoring any needed repairs or pest problems (bed bugs and roaches), and overseeing cell phones for the mission.so you could say we are concerned with billings and bed bugs!

  
Elder and Sister Stevens also work at the offic. Sister Stevens is the receptionist/office secretary. Here she is with Elders Perez and Serrano who stopped by the office.

Elder Stevens oversees all the vehicles in the mission which is a 24/7 job.

On Saturday, June 13th, Mark and Brooke, drove up to the Texas Houston Temple where we met them.  Also with us were our new friends from the mission office, Elder and Sister Stevens.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get a picture of all six of us together.  After the temple attendance, the group went out to dinner together at an Italian resturant.

Elder and Sister Nelson with Sister and Elder Stevens

The next day, Sunday June 14, 2015, the mission held a temple grounds tour.  Missionaries or members of various wards (congregations) in the mission area Inviited friends and investigators to attend with them. 300 people came that night. Tours were conducted every 15 minutes in English and Spanish, alternating. President Mortensen said some visitors always ask if they can be baptized because they want to have the sweet spiritual feeling they found on the temple grounds. The evening was a neat experience and very enjoyable.

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You can see us in the next to last picture.            Elder Barlow talking to a group

May 30-June 7, 2015

After staying the night with Stepanie, we drove south through the rest of Colorado, into New Mexico, and going east travelled as far as Wichita Falls Texas. Our friends, the Lawes, from the MTC contacted us about the time we arrived in Wichita Falls. They were driving to Baton Rouge, Lousiana and stopped at Wichita Falls also. We had dinner with them.

In the morning, our journey continued as we drove on south to Houston, Texas, where we spent the night with our son, Mark, and his family. Molli, the their oldest played her piano number for us.


Monday, June 1, 2015, we drove to the Texas Houston Mission Office.  Then we started moving into our apartment.


Monday, June 1, 2015, Dave and I drove from Mark’s home to the Texas Houston Mission Office which is about an hour drive north.  That day we meet President Mark A. Mortensen,  president of the mission, and his wife, Sister Kristina Mortensen.  They will serve for 3 years in Houston and then return to their home in Irvine, California.  With them are five of their six children.  Mallory, the oldest, is serving a mission in New Hampshire.  The President and his wife are very devoted, inspirational and such excellent role models for all of the young missionaries serving here.

   
 

Second Week: MTC and Colorado Bound

Because our mission call involves working in a mission home office, we had basic office training, May 25-28, 2015.  Here’s our office group:

  
Students from left: Lawes, Nelsons, Newman and Proctor. Teachers: front Sister Fairbanks, far right, Brothers Clark and Heaton. It gave us a small overview of possible responsibilities. Though we all struggled, we also survived.

  
One day a returned senior couple, named Bolliger, came to class. Kentucky was where they had served in a mission office. Our nephew, Zac Baker, served in that exact mission. The Bolligers told us about making a binder full of the missionaries’ experiences called “Tender Mercies.” Zac had told us about this couple but we never thought we would by chance meet them. Small world!

The Devotional on Tuesday night was very special. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle, was the speaker. He taught us about conversion and opening our mouths. He challenged everyone to find favorite 20 scriptures about opening one’s mouth when we returned to our rooms that night. We fulfilled this assignment and found more than 20.

   
   We said good-by Thursday after class to friends ( Lawes in Picture), took a few more photos, and began our trip to Texas by way of Colorado on May 28th. We spent the night in Grand Junction, CO. 

The next morning our trip resumed as we made our way to our daughter’s, Stephanie’s, home in Castle Rock.

   
     

After driving through the Colorado Mountains where we followed the Colorado River most of the way, we stopped in Castle Rock, CO to spend the night with our daughter, Stepanie, and family.

 Having dinner together are Dave, Trenton, Sam, Jeffrey, Stephanie and Jenna.

The Rest of the 1st Week…

The first week, May 18-24,2015, was spent learning the preach my gospel principles. Here is our district ( study group).

   
 

Top picture: Garsides, Diamond, Bockholt, Nelsons, Bro. Swallow, a teacher.  Bottom picture: Sister Moore, teacher

  
We studied the scriptures, the Preach My Gospel book. We found the spirit guided us in what we should teach even though it was a practice.

Thursday night, all senior missionaries viewed a talk by Elder David A. Bednar. He taught about the character of Jesus Christ. Christ always thought of other people first. One of the examples was about Christ’s fasting 40 days and nights. At the end he thought of his cousin John the Baptist who was in prison. Christ sent angles to comfort John. We were deeply touched by the talk. On Sunday Dave and Betty taught the men and women together concerning “Tender Mercies,” also a message by Elder Bednar.