January 25, 2015
Another adventurous week that was calm and peaceful sometimes and crazy and chaotic at other times. And generally those two opposing conditions occur in the exact same place - the office! At some times of the month, I have a fair amount of down time with not much financial work to do at the office. I have started indexing records for Family Search and find it quite interesting. I sometimes spend 15-20 minutes stuck on one name or set of names wondering what brought them to the U.S. or how they lived - were they farmers and mostly lived off the land or did they have some other occupation. This last week I did some census records from New York and found it interesting that in the time of that census, people were considered minors until age 21 unless they were married. That got me to thinking so I "googled" age of majority and found that is set by the states and most states have it set at 18, Alabama sets it at 19 and several others set it at 18 or graduation from high school. Very interesting since the definition of age of majority is the age at which a person is considered adult and is entitled to all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Funny how we continue to learn new things in most unusual ways.
This was a better week for Elder Ashton as there were NO ACCIDENTS!!! However, he is still trying to take care of all the details from the 3 that occurred on Friday, January 16 and I have heard him lecturing/encouraging the missionaries about safe driving habits :)
When we left our apartment on Thursday morning, we were greeted by foggy weather - couldn't even see to the corner from our parking lot. By mid-morning most of the fog had burned off but the weatherman was warning us of rain predicted for Friday and Saturday.
On Thursday the President and Sister Baker were in the office to interview missionaries. I think they had interviews scheduled every 15 minutes all day so there were missionaries coming in and out of the office all day long. It really brightens my day when they show up......makes me think of some of my grandkids who are about that age and I love to see how energetic and focused they are. They go around the mission (mostly to the North Carolina areas) and then have the Virginia missionaries come to the office to conduct interviews every quarter. That is a lot of interviews to conduct!!!! We are scheduled to have our first quarterly interview with the President tomorrow morning......that means we have been on our mission for 3 MONTHS already. We have served 1/6 of our time and it is hard to believe that --- seems like time is passing fast and I am still learning some new things about my "job" here. Last week I learned that I am supposed to be validating a credit card billing report and hadn't done that for the last two months, but I finally figured out how to run the report and got it reconciled on Friday morning. We are scheduled for an audit sometime in the next month so I hope I am doing things right :)
We played hooky for 1/2 day on Friday (with the President's permission) and headed south to Nags Head, North Carolina for a retreat with the other senior couple missionaries and President and Sister Baker. A member of the church owns some beach rental houses down there and because this is the off season and they aren't rented out, we were able to use two of them. I wasn't sure how enjoyable the weekend would be due to the RAIN - it had been raining most of Friday and the prediction was for rain most of Saturday, too. As we head over ANOTHER bridge on our way out of town Friday afternoon, I notice lots of boats and begin to realize what a huge role the water plays in the lives of people who live here.
We soon leave Virginia behind and enter North Carolina......and it is still raining :)
On of the continuing themes I have heard about North Carolina since I have been here is that the people are REALLY nice....and that seems to be true.
Looks like NC has some pretty strict rules about texting and driving. We saw about 10 of these warning signs as we drove down the coast.
Last week when we visited Edenton, NC we stopped and visited the Dismal Swamp and the Dismal Swamp Canal. I believe I mentioned that the Dismal Swamp canal lost some of its business for moving goods when the Albermarle-Norfolk canal was completed. We crossed over the Alobermarle-Norfolk canal several times on the trip down and in a couple of places noted water craft on it......but I was too slow getting my camera out (or maybe Elder Ashton was driving too fast ;-) ) so I missed getting a picture of that.
As we are driving along this beautiful 4 lane highway, right beside the road - with no protecting fences- is a small cemetery. You guessed it - we quickly did a u-turn and headed back, parked right on the side of the road so Elder Ashton could image the graves. It is a good thing I usually carry my Kindle with me because I can just pull it out and read a story while he images to his heart's content :) We saw many cemeteries during the trip - large, small and in-between. I wouldn't be surprised if we take a few more trips to NC so more images can be taken.
Before reaching the Outer Banks, aka Nags Head, we had to cross over an arm of the bay. The bridge was only a couple of miles long but I though it was interesting that all I could see was different shades of gray - the gray bridge, the gray water, and the gray clouds!
We arrived at the property about 5 p.m. and many of the senior couples were already there and busy preparing dinner. My assignment was to bring fresh fruit to snack on so I spent a few minutes cutting the grape bunches into serving sizes, cutting up the pineapple, de-hulling the strawberries and peeling and sectioning the oranges that we received from Arizona. Everyone seemed to enjoy the fruit and the cheese and crackers so much that the sister in charge of the main dish finally threatened us all with no dinner if we didn't quit snacking ;-D
We were staying in a beach home with 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, a game room, a kitchen/great room, a pool and hot tub. Very nice property!
View from the back deck of the property. Note the two observation decks even further down toward the beach. I loved hearing the rush of the waves and it was just sprinkling rain when we got there but it soon opened up and began pouring rain.....so I went back inside.
We had a lovely dinner followed by a testimony meeting where the President and Sister Baker asked us to respond to one of three questions. 1) If you could do something for only one day, what would it be? 2) What is something you would never do again? 3) What is a favorite memory of a time you spent with one or more of your grandparents. Most of the group responded with a memory about a grand parent and it really hit home to me what a HUGE impact grandparents can have in the lives of their grandchildren - in just the little, everyday kinds of things.
I wanted to add a little variety so I told of the trip we took to Florida when the kids were all still at home (I think it was in 1985). I related about the rainstorm that soaked all of our clothing and then about waiting 3 extra days to see the shuttle blast off because it was delayed due to weather and hopping in the mini van at 4:30 in the morning and heading back to Arizona. Four drivers and 39 hours later we arrived home.....and I vow to never do that 39 straight hours of driving again!
After the testimony meeting we gravitated to smaller groups where we continued to snack, visit, play games.
I'm involved in a mean game of dominoes with two other couples - couldn't get Elder Ashton to join in but we had a great time. In fact. I was having so much fun that I stayed up until just after 10 p.m. and that is quite awhile after my normal bed time :)
President and Sister Baker and Elder and Sister Shaw playing Skip-Bo and munching on chips. This was the first time I saw President Baker in jeans. I knew he was tall and skinny but didn't realize how tall and skinny until I saw him in jeans. I think he must have a 45" inseam on those 501's :)
The "visiting" group. The Elder on the right of the picture is from Juneau, Alaska and he also shared what he won't ever do again.....He won't ever leave Alaska again- says he really misses it!
The elder sitting under the "tree" on the right hand side of the picture grew up in Green River Wyoming. His wife is the dark-haired lady on the right hand side of the picture. They have only been married 1.5 years and are the newest couple in the mission. They are working with military men and women in North Carolina and said it is quite a challenge. Both of them lost their original mates in motor vehicle accidents unexpectedly, met on the internet 10 years later and decided to marry. Between the two of them they have 18 children and 57 grandchildren. Maybe they came on a mission to have some time just for the two of them ;-)
We finally got tired and all headed off to bed. Breakfast was served the next morning at 7:30 but Elder Ashton had to come wake me up about 8:15. First thing I did was check out the back door only to find it was pouring rain and the tide was in so I knew I wasn't going to get a walk on the beach this time.
I had never tried a yogurt banana split before (that was one of the main courses for breakfast) and I skipped the banana part but found the rest of it (yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, sliced almonds, whipped cream) to be quite tasty. After some clean-up performed by the whole group, we were ready to head north again, but before we did, President and Sister Baker modeled some new jackets that Elder and Sister Steffler gave to them - their daughter does monogramming for an occupation and she had monogrammed each jacket with the name and logo of the Virginia, Chesapeake Mission.
I forgot to take a picture of the place we stayed but the following pictures are representative of what it looked like......ours was a sedate light brown color.
As you can see from the pictures above, the weather was really not nice at all, but I really wanted to see the Wright Brothers memorial which was only about 8 miles up the beach from us......so I agreed to brave the weather if we stopped.
This monument to Orville and Wilbur Wright is at the top of a hill (you may remember that they launched their flight from the top of a sand dune). The marquees indicated that the dune had moved 400+ feet south by the time they started to build the memorial so it is not in exact same location.
A view of the front of the memorial. Elder Ashton said the hike up the hill to the memorial was about a 28% grade, it was raining so I was carrying an umbrella, and because it was so steep I was using a cane to help me up the hill......I must have been quite a sight, especially when I kept putting the umbrella down to try to snap a picture. I don't know if the goosebumps I got were related to my admiration for their bravery and tenacity or from the wind and rain.....but I'm going to say they were from admiration!
We stopped to see this replica of the aircraft. As I looked at it, the thought crossed my mind that these brothers must have been very brave men.....that plane looks rather fragile to me and here they were trying to make it fly - something no other person had been successful at. Just imagine what that would feel like when it lifted off the ground.....I would probably forget to manipulate the rudder and end up nose down in the dirt!
This photo depicts some of the local men who helped them with the aircraft.....they had to literally carry it to the top of the sand dune and it weighed about 400 pounds. I read that the wind was blowing at about 20 miles per hour so I'm sure the journey to the top of the dune was quite a challenge. It is great to have loyal friends who support you in your adventures and dreams!!!!
And this view.....brought tears to my eyes - the brother running along side and cheering him on. It made me think of all the times I have observed my kids supporting and cheering each other on as they follow their dreams. It really tugged at my heart!
Next stop - the museum to learn more details about the Wright brothers.
I learned they opened and ran a bicycle shop (first repairing and then manufacturing) to make money to pay for their experiments in flight. The two bachelor brothers lived in a small house in Dayton, Ohio with their father and their sister and I imaging they spent hours and hours and hours and lots of dollars trying to make their dream come true.
In 1901 they build a wind tunnel to test the lifting effects of the wing surface.
Note the Old Man in the background reading EVERY word on EVERY placard :)
I found this intriguing.......Elder Ashton had some drawing tools much like those and in a case much like that one when we got married.
Drawings of the propellers.
Terrible picture of the bicycle sprocket that drove the propellers.
One of the propellers.
Some of the tools of the trade used by the Wright Brothers in various occupations they held over the years as they followed their dreams. As you can see they are described as Newspaper men, mechanics, inventors, designers, builders, engineers, pilots - pioneers!
As I walked through the museum and learned more about these men, I was struck by how many of their characteristics are held by Elder Ashton....bicycle repair, mechanic, printer using a printing press, inventor, designer, builder.........it made me pause and reflect on the many gifts we are given by our Heavenly Father to benefit us and others while we journey here on earth. Sure am glad I am married to a man who has and uses many talents! We experienced a sad day a couple of weeks ago when we had to pay $150 to have our vehicle repaired......I've never had to do that before because Elder Ashton has always taken care of that.
Model of the aircraft
Model of the glider
As we got ready to leave the museum, I noticed the "gaggle" of geese - 33 to be exact. Maybe they also know something about this being a perfect place to take off on a flight ;-)
Still raining and by now I am soaking wet - both my jeans and my sox and shoes so I tell Elder Ashton I am ready to head on home - we will have to do more sightseeing on another day. As we are heading back up the coast of North Carolina, we see lots of interesting things that I think our family members would be interested in.....on large Harley Davidson rental place that I'm thinking my son-in-law might want to check out and a few "monster" race tracks that other family members might like.
Arrived home Saturday afternoon, hurried to start the laundry and go grocery shopping before heading to Saturday evening session of Stake Conference. It was a a great session but I liked the session this morning even better......it focused on Coming to Christ. Made me do some soul searching about my relationship with Him......and also made me think about how glad I am that I am healthy enough to be out here trying to serve others. I still miss family and friends like crazy but I may have found a resolution to that problem when I went to the post office the other day. I ran across this apartment complex and it looks like it has plenty of apartments to house all my family and friends if you want to move back here so I won't miss you for the next 15 months!
Unfortunately I didn't get close enough to take the picture of this but it is named "Ashton Village" Anybody game to come live in this rainy place ;-) ?