It was a week before Christmas and in this very Virginia town
A bag had an adventure - and the bag was not brown
This bag is a cheery, beautiful Christmas red,
Sister Ashton was oh so lucky, enough said!!!!
Last Thursday, with Christmas Day drawing ever closer, I thought I had come up with a clever way to stealthily do a little Christmas shopping for Elder Ashton without him knowing.....it is quite difficult to get away and do any secret shopping when you spend 24/7 together. It just so happened that I needed to go to the bank to make a deposit for the mission office, so I told Elder Ashton I was going to take the truck and run to the bank, then run home to grab some quick lunch. I told him I wouldn't be gone long and then he could go to lunch when I got back. He was very agreeable to my plan so off I went with a smile on my face.....thinking of my secret plan to quickly stop at Target and JC Penney before returning to the office. The problem was that I didn't take into account that it was just a week before Christmas and that the stores might be busy. I made it through the line at the bank swiftly, then drove over to Target which is close to our apartment. It was a ZOO in there with long lines at the registers. I quickly grabbed what I planned on picking up there and went to the shortest register line I could find - with my pretty red bag sitting in the "seat" of the shopping cart. Best laid plans so astray....the person in front of me in line was trying to use a coupon that could only be used on line. I waited, and waited, and waited.....glancing at my watch several times as I noted time slipping away. FINALLY, it was my turn to check out and it went smoothly but I knew I was not going to have time to go to JC Penney. I hurried out to the truck and hurried (over the speed limit) home to grab the lunch. Imagine my consternation when I drove up to the apartment and reached for my pretty red purse....it was not there. I suddenly realized that my pretty red purse was left sitting in the "seat" of the cart at Target - and that red bag had credit cards, debit cards, check book, driver's license, social security card, and passport inside! I hurried (even more over the speed limit) back to Target, finally found a place to park and went inside where I approached a security guard and asked if a purse had been turned in. He said, "A white purse?" I said, "No, it was red." He directed me to register 4 and told me to see if they had anything in lost and found. By this time I was just imagining the problems that would crop up as I tried to replace all my pieced of identification in just one week so I could fly back to Arizona this Thursday to attend a wedding of one of our granddaughters. I was feeling a little sick and hyperventilating just a little as I walked up to register 4 and asked if a red purse had been turned in. The clerk said, "Yes, just a minute and I will go get it." That was a long minute by a huge smile covered my face when she came walking out with my pretty red bag - which still contained all the things that were in it when I left it sitting in that "seat". I thanked the young woman profusely, but she nodded in the direction of a maintenance man who had been working on the door locks when I left and he had immediately turned it in. I then thanked him profusely and his response to me was "No problem, you are very welcome." I'm sure he could read the relief on my face as I rushed out the door, jumped in the truck and drove SLOWLY to my apartment counting my blessings. I've tried extra hard to keep my red bag close to my side since then ;-) Although I didn't get the secret shopping in that I had planned on, I went out again on Saturday and fought those crowds so all is well!
Friday we attended a Christmas devotional conference in Virginia Beach with half the missionaries. We all watched "The Polar Expresss" (first time I had seen it) and then had a lovely dinner prepared by some women from the area. The afternoon consisted of a variety of musical numbers performed by the young missionaries (they are really talented) and a talk by Brother Hancock who lives on Harker's island and told alot about the history of this area. He related a story about some young missionaries from Logan Utah who gave a blessing to his grandmother in 1897 when she was a girl and she was healed from a serious illness. He expressed deep gratitude for those missionaries being willing to serve - he said without their service he probably would not be here today...or at least he wouldn't have the ancestors that he does. After the program we handed out packages, letters, and goodie bags to all the young missionaries and then rushed back to Portsmouth where we went to dinner at Sister Hoal's house. She had fixed a delicious meal and I really enjoyed talking with her. She came here from Taiwan in the early 1980's and did not speak English at the time. She speaks very well now and has a son who lives in Gilbert, AZ and is married to a daughter of Merlyn (I believe that is the name) Pace. She showed us a big family picture of the Pace family (including her son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandsons) in front of the Gilbert Temple.
Waiting for the movie to start
Young Elders looking for more popcorn to eat
Waiting for packages
After handing out the packages and preparing to clean up. Note that I took a picture of the red bag on the stage just to make sure it was still there.
Sisters waiting to talk to Elder Ashton about the air cleaner in their car but Elder Ashton is nowhere to be found. He and Elder Wilson took some young Elders to pick up there car and got lost trying to find their way (the sisters finally gave up).
By the time we arrived home at a little after 8 p.m. we had been gone for 12 hours and I was one tired senior missionary!
Other than going out to do a very little Christmas shopping and to pick up a few baking supplies at WalMart, I spent Saturday in the apartment cooking, baking, cooking, stirring, baking, etc. I made fudge, caramels, two types of cookies and caramel popcorn. I cooked the caramel a tad too long, but Elder Ashton was being very helpful and using his muscles to cut them for me. I was busy cooking cookies - just put a pan in the oven and had another pan sitting on top of the stove cooling - and
the pan shattered sending shards of glass all over the kitchen. I'm happy to report there was no screaming, no tantrums, no cussing, and no crying. Elder Ashton cleaned it up, Sister Ashton threw away the one pan of cookies and got out the ingredients to make a second batch of caramels.
Sunday we attended church and a beautiful Christmas program......great music and a mom, dad, and darling little 5 year old girl as narrators. The 5 year old read most of Luke Chapter 2 and did a GREAT job!!! After church we came home to more cooking (dinner this time and a few more goodies), then made some goodie plates to take to our neighbors here in the apartment building. We have 11 neighbors so it was quite a few plates, but we didn't go in and spend time chatting with them as we did when our children were young and we delivered goodie plates to friends and neighbors in Saint Johns. Although it was a little different, it was good to keep up some of the Christmas traditions we have had over the years.
Back to the office on Monday with the usual tasks to complete. I took the leftover goodies to the office to share with the rest of the staff and both the other Sisters who work there requested copies of the caramel and caramel corn recipes. I learned just this week while talking to my mom that the caramel recipe was my grandma's recipe so it seems pretty special to know that women have been making caramels using that recipe for over 100 years! I am excited when the mail comes and I get mail from friends and family back home. I've made a little galary in my corner of the office :)
I love looking up from my work to see pictures of family
It has been gray and rainy here this week - it poured all day long yesterday and was very foggy and gray this morning. Even after the fog burned off it was still a gray sky all day. Supposed to be more of the same for the next two days :( This morning when we arrived at the office, it was pretty foggy and one of our little squirrel friends was sitting on the lawn picking things up in its front paws, peeling what it picked up and then putting the item up to its mouth to eat. It was so cute - I wished all of my grandkids and great grandkids were here to see it!
Sitting in the windowsill beside my desk is this little "ladybug plant" It is solar powered so when we have sunny days the lady bug really dances, but after a few gray days it is pretty quiet. She was hardly moving this morning :(
Hopefully she will start dancing again soon;-)
But no worries for me - I'll just take a quick vacation to Arizona to attend a wedding of this cute couple.......
in this beautiful building! We fly out on Christmas day and return Sunday. I'm excited! and I'm taking the red bag with me :)
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!