This week has been a virtual whirlwind of activity - and I think this set of "old" missionaries fared quite well - all things considered.
The crazy Virginia weather fit right in with a whirlwind. A week ago Saturday it rained nearly all day - a high of 57 degrees with 100% humidity, Sunday it was partly cloudy and 72 degrees, Monday and Tuesday it was sunny but the high was only 55 degrees, Wednesday the high was only 43 degrees and Thursday the low was 18 degrees in the morning with a high of 28 degrees. This morning it was 19 degrees when I finally woke up at 8 a.m. And the forecast for the first part of this week is for the high temperatures to range from 40 to 60 degrees but with lots of rain! I sure am glad I have an umbrella and a long trench coat to make the weather a little easier to deal with.
At our Monday morning staff meeting last Monday, President Baker asked us if we would be willing to drive a couple of mini vans and help with picking up the 23 incoming missionaries and transporting them from the airport to the church in Norfolk (about 2.5 miles) and then back to Portsmouth to the hotel for the night. Then we were to pick them up at the hotel on Wednesday morning and get them to the church building that holds the mission office for more orientation/training and for transfer meeting. Thanks to my new best friend, Siri, we did OK with finding our way. We even took a little side trip to my new doctor out here to fill out some paper work. When we drove up, I was surprised to see the statue in front of the building....maybe rather than being an oncology center it is a marine center and all the women who go there turn into beautiful mermaids - I can only hope :-)
After leaving the medical building we headed for the airport - another place we were totally unfamiliar with but Siri got us there and we even figured out which garage and area to park in......no thanks to Siri on the parking but I had a higher power than her helping me to read the signage and understand what we needed to do :)
I apologize for the quality of lots of the pictures......I can't seem to hold the camera still and I never was a very good photographer but hopefully you will get the basic idea......
We didn't have long to wait before 23 tired but very enthusiastic missionaries started coming down the concourse and we all headed to the baggage claim area. In the picture above you will see one very colorful suitcase. A sister from Canada had that suitcase and it was covered with things related to Canada......but I didn't hear her end one sentence with, Eh?
It was interesting to meet up with this young missionary who will be serving here in the Chesapeake mission. His name is Elder Burrgraff and he is from Utah. He is the grandson of one of Elder Ashton's companions when he was serving a mission in Mexico more than 50 years ago. There is also a Sister Burgraff serving here who is the cousin of this young elder.....so she is the grand-daughter of Elder Ashton's former companion. Small world happenings!
We got all the missionaries and all their luggage loaded up and headed off to the church where we had dinner and then the mission president and his wife interviewed all the missionaries. We tried to wait patiently to take them to the hotel.....but the interviews took almost two hours.
Here's a picture of President Baker briefly explaining to the missionaries what is going to happen. The president's wife, Sister Baker, is the tiny little lady in the light pink jacket. My passengers were the five sisters on the right hand side of the bottom row above. They had just finished six weeks of training and the MTC in Mexico City and had flown from there that morning....they were TIRED!!!
About 30 minutes before the President was through with interviews, some men starting showing up and waiting to get in the cultural hall. I could tell that they were waiting to play basketball and asked if they had a game scheduled and they said, "No, just a pickup game." They tried to be patient in waiting but by the time we were leaving and getting the last of the table and chairs put away, the men (about 10 of them by this time - of multiple races but all big guys) were standing in the hallway waiting. I had to walk between them to take some things to the kitchen so to make conversation in passing I said, "Whose going to win tonight?" One of the guys must have thought - "this old lady doesn't even know what she is talking about - I'll get a laugh from the guys out of this." So her replied, "Dallas". I quickly said (based on what had happened in their playoff game, "Not unless some ref doesn't call something." I wish you could have seen the jaws drop and then a big black guy said as he was laughing, "She really got you bro." I just laughed and explained that I have 5 sons and have watched lots of games in my life. I was still chuckling when we left a few minutes later to think I shocked all those "athletes" who thought I wouldn't know anything about sports :)
By the time we headed back to Portsmouth the tunnel under the river/bay was closed so we had to follow others that were taking the missionaries and knew a long way around where we could take bridges over the water. I still can't get over how much water there is around here......and with all the rain we have it seems like there is more water all the time.
These warning signs that say "Street may flood" are in many areas of town. This one has a marker that only goes to 3 feet but I have seen them clear up to 5 feet. The interesting thing is that this sign is literally in the easement in front of someone's house.....wonder how many times they have had flooding in their house?!?
110 missionaries at the church/office on Wednesday and it was a crazy day of answering questions, ferrying cars back and forth to the auto shop to get state inspections, picking up subway sandwiches to feed them lunch. When the clerk said it would be $364 for the sandwiches, I nearly fainted!!!! After the meetings, it seemed that half of those 110 missionaries needed to talk to Elder Ashton about something to do with their cars......it was total chaos for about 1.5 hours and when all the missionaries had gone, I could have taken a nap if I had been able to find a quiet warm place :)
Good thing Thursday and Friday were quiet in the office. We both got caught up on all our work and I even had some extra time to do some name indexing on Family Search. I was entering marriage records for Virginia for 1936 and 1938 for this area.....it was pretty interesting to see the age of the bride and groom, occupations, where they lived, parents names, etc. Since Elder Ashton's parents got married in 1936, made me think about what it must have been like to get married back then.
Saturday we didn't have a lot of time for exploring but decided we would go to Smithfield for a couple of hours and look at some of the historical places there. Elder Ashton had started the morning by doing a headstone imaging project with some of the people from church so he was pretty tired when he got home and needed some time to warm up before we went out again. About 1 p.m. we headed to Smithfield. As you can see in the photo above, it was a sunny day....but it wasn't very warm. We were going over what they call a "high bridge" - a bridge built like a hill so there is room for ships to pass underneath. I'm not very fond of bridges across large expanses of water, but better get used to them because they are on virtually every route into and out of Portsmouth where our office is. I thought this was an interesting picture.....don't know what the little building is out in the middle of the water and it looks like the only way to access it is by boat.....if only the waters could talk.
Smithfield was colonized in 1634 and is across the James River from Jamestown - one of the first settlements. Like may of the towns around here, battles of both the Revolutionary and Civil war were fought in or near the town because of the close proximity to the water. It has been interesting to hear a few comments about the Civil War (aka War of Northern Aggression) from long time Virginia residents. I've decided things may not always be as simple as they seem when you first hear the story.
By the time we finally found historic Smithfield, Elder Ashton was pretty tired and was hoping to find an old cemetery called Ivy Hill Cemetery .... thus most of the pictures were snapped as we drove by ;-)
This is a unique lighthouse in the bay near Smithfield Station - and area that has been built out and is a great spot for tourists.
This is one of the historic homes in Smithfield. It is called the Gwaltney house and is a private residence....in fact, it is for sale! You could probably pick it up for a few million $$
This is called the Mansion on Main and is another historic home. It has been turned into a bed and breakfast......this is a professional photo -mine is below.
Another thing Smithfield is known for is Smithfield Hams. I read something about the thousands of hams they produce each year.....there was a nice administrative complex and two packing plants. I must say that even though I like ham I wouldn't want to live anywhere near those packing plants as it smells strongly of brown sugar and whatever else they use to cure the hams with.
It does seem that the town has jumped on board and is OK with being known for that. We saw several "hogs" around the town.This one was covered with historical pictures and was on the sidewalk in front of the Isle of Wight County (Smithfield) museum. We did spend about 30 minutes wandering around in the small museum and found a few interesting things there.
I found this display of ammunition (a different kind) for a cannon to be very interesting.
I was also impressed with the ingenuity of human beings as I studied the knife/fork combo that was designed for those who came home from the war with a handicap.....this allowed them to cut their food with a rocking motion.
A really old peanut! Grown the same year my grandmother was born!
In most every food store, they have a specific area designated to the sale of Virginia peanuts.
Wildlife that is found along the Black River......I don't think I'll be doing any camping while we are back here....wait.....I don't want to do any camping anywhere ;-)
This is for my family/friends who like to grow their own pigs so they can have fresh pork. :) The steps are:
1. Kill and gut the hog
2. Put the entire hog in the scalding pot to loosen the hair
3. Scrape off the hair
4. Put the leftover fat in the scalding pot and boil it down to make lard.
For that son of mine who says he would have liked to live in the 1800's, will I find a hog scalding pot there the next time I visit your house? ;-)
We still had not located the historic cemetery and it was time to head back so we could get the grocery shopping done, grab a bite of dinner and change clothes before we went with the missionaries to teach some people.
I love to see the sun reflected in the water as it begins to set!
COLD again this morning....and if you look closely you can see the pretty pattern the frost made on the windshield. I guess there is always something good that can be found if we look hard enough!
Put a turkey breast in the crockpot before we went to church this morning and tried out the new angel food cake pan I received for Christmas. We had turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and Angel Food Cake. Not a full holiday dinner but pretty good for just the two of us. As I was frosting this cake this afternoon for dinner, I sure wished I was frosting at least two more of these and that my family was here for Sunday dinner. Miss opportunities to see family......but I'm happy and know we are where we need to be now. I think I might even be getting the hang of this apartment living because Elder Ashton told me dinner was delicious and I even surpassed his Mom's cooking ;-)
Ready for more adventures in the coming week!