It's Saturday evening and I stayed at the apartment most of the day today so am feeling quite good about what was accomplished today.....The laundry is all done, the grocery shopping is done and put away, and the cookies are baked. The birthday gift and gift bag for Elder Ashton have been purchased - he took a bike ride to a cemetery this afternoon so I had time to do that without him seeing what I was purchasing. AAAAANNNNNDDD- I even got in a 1 hour nap today :) I think it got up to about 60 degrees today and the sun was shining most of the day so it was a great day!
A couple of weeks ago after we arrived home from Nags Head, we hurried to get ready for the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference. I was pretty tired and the though crossed my mind to just stay home, but I sure am glad we didn't! We found a seat near the front right next to a lady from our ward - I had not met her because I had only seen her at church twice before that, I noticed when I saw her at church that she was wearing a hat but she seemed to have a little bit of hair. I also noticed that the bottom 1/3 of her legs was swollen and red and thought she might have phlebitis. When I sat down by her, I introduced myself (not really necessary with the badge I wear but I usually do introduction anyway) and asked her how she was doing. In a cheery little brogue she responded that she was doing good. I mentioned to her that I noticed her legs seemed to be hurting her and asked if she had phlebitis - she said no, she has neuropathy from the chemo therapy. That formed an instant bond with us and we spent the 15 minutes before the meeting started discussing her cancer and treatment and also where she was from - Scotland. She said she came to the US in the early 80's and met her husband in Philadelphia and she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had metastisized to her spine and liver. She said she has been undergoing chemo for 2 YEARS and that her cancer will never go away but the chemo may keep it under control. She was on a 3 week break from chemo and was hoping to be well enough to make a trip to Scotland and do some family history work on her ancestors. I asked her if she ever got discouraged or depressed with all the treatments and not feeling well and she said (in her cute little brogue) "well now, I suppose I wouldn't be normal if I didn't feel that way sometimes but mostly I just leave it in the Lord's hand and keep doing the best I can do. WOW - put me to shame. I could learn a lesson or two from her in submitting my will CHEERFULLY to Heavenly Father's will! I know I will get a special warm feeling and a smile every time I see her from now on:)
I have mentioned a few times that we have lots of gray squirrels back here.....and we see them on a frequent basis. It is not uncommon for one or two to run across the road in front of us on our way to the office in the morning - with their tails flying out behind them. I don't want us to hit them so I always say, "oooohhh, squirrel, squirrel" and Elder Ashton swerves to miss them. Every time that happens I think of the commercial I used to see on TV in Arizona where the squirrel/chipmunk runs across the road and causes the car to crash, then gives his/her buddy on the other side of the road a high five. I think it was a Geico commercial......but after we swerve I always get a smile on my face wondering if that little squirrel is celebrating his/her ability to make the big white pickup truck swerve ;-)
I don't know anything about their reproductive habits, but the tree outside our office door has 3 squirrel nests in it......so maybe we will see some baby squirrels soon?
That mound of leaves and twigs right in the crook of the branch is one of the nests - the other two are higher up. I'll have to keep a watch out for babies :)
This past week was BUSY - they had Mission Leadership Conference at the building where the Mission Office is. That included all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders. The conference went ALL DAY on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - from 10 to 4. Each morning before the meeting began and each afternoon after the meeting ended, Elders and Sisters would come into the office....some needed assistance but most just wanted a hug or to visit with the Senior Couples who they seem to think of as surrogate grandparents.
Our main responsibility was to see that lunch was ready and provided for the group of about 35 each day. On Tuesday Elder Ashton and I picked up Papa Johns Pizza - 11 of them. They also had salad and dessert and when they got done, there was a little salad left, 3 pieces of pizza and some ice cream. Those young elders can put the food away!
On Wednesday Elder Ashton and I picked up sandwiches from Subway. There was a 6 inch sub for everyone, chips, carrot and celery sticks, veggie salad, and ice cream and cookies. There were 3 sandwiches left, some veggies and some ice cream.
On Wednesday, as I was cleaning up from lunch, the most beautiful rendition of Press Forward Saints could be heard coming from the cultural hall......I stuck my head in and snapped a picture of the group singing. Gave me chills!
On Thursday Elder Ashton and I picked up lasagna for 40 from Olive Garden. They also supplied breadsticks and salad and we had purchased some sour cream pound cake to go with the leftover ice cream. There was 1 piece of lasagna left and Elder Ashton put that on a plate planning to bring it home for dinner.....but I think one of the Elders got it while on a break because it was not in the fridge when we went to get it before coming home. We had a few laughs about the cakes - the President's wife had purchased 4 cakes from WalMart on Monday evening but when she brought them in on Thursday morning she had noticed that two of them had little black dots on them - probably mold - so Sister Wilson and I went to Kroger and purchased new cakes. Elder Wilson kept asking the young Elders and Sisters if they were sure they wouldn't like to try the cake with "pepper" on it ;-)
At the close of Thursday's meetings, the office FLOODED with missionaries needing to pick up supplies to take back to their zones. It was loud with lots of Elders and Sisters talking at once and I couldn't concentrate to get any financial work done, so I pulled out my phone to take a picture.
In this first picture you will notice only a couple of Elders plus Elder Ashton.....he looks like he wonders why I am taking his picture. The Elder in the center of the picture asked me why I was taking his picture and I replied, "I'm taking it to send it home to my beautiful 20 year old grand-daughters :)
Suddenly the din of voices quieted and several Elders came running (thus the blurry picture) - they heard beautiful 20-year-old granddaughters - note there are now 6 elders in the picture with more coming. Sooooooo, Brynna and Kodi, take note of these Elders - they wanted you to have their picture taken :)
It was a great week to be here and working in the office and feel of the enthusiasm and spiritual strength of these young missionaries. They are so full of fun and so grateful for every little thing we do for them! I think they must have said "thank you" about 5 times for every meal. There is one big Elder from Tonga and he is so polite and humble......he just kept saying "Thank you so much, thank you so much." I think he put down about 12 pieces of pizza!
The conference started at 9:30 instead of 10:00 on Thursday and Elder Ashton had a dental appointment that morning so I knew I would need to get up a little earlier than usual. Elder Ashton says either his memory is getting worse or his forgetter is getting better, so I was quite sure he would forget to wake me up in time to get ready. So, Wednesday evening about dusk I told him I was going to run over to WalMart and buy a really cheap, obnoxious alarm clock to wake me up. As I've mentioned before, the businesses back here have a crazy set-up in that you can't turn into them off the main street. We have a Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target, JC Penney, Macy's, Burlington Coat Factory and a few other businesses quite close to us. To reach them, you must exit the main road and get on a circular road that goes all the way around the "mall". Sam's Club and WalMart are on another outer circle. At one end (between the two circles) there is a man made pond and quite frequently there are Canadian geese there. (It was just getting dark when I came out of WalMart and when I went to turn onto the outer circular road, I looked up to see two Canadian geese standing side by side at the edge of the road - it was too dark to get a picture but imagine these two standing at the edge of the outer road waiting to cross the street to get to the WalMart parking lot. There were lots of cars going by and they stood there and each time a car would go by one or the other of them would turn its head and "honk". I broke out laughing because I could imaging they were telling each other, "Don't go yet, here comes another car". Entertaining and amazing things in the world around us.
I know I have mentioned before but I am quite intrigued with the plant life in this area. One of the things I have noticed is that Kudzu tries to take over in some places. This plant is not native to the US but was brought here and used and an ornamental plant and a vine to provide shade before the people realized that it soon takes over everything around it. Now they have programs for trying to eradicate it. We see these two Kudzu covered things several times a day on our way to and from the office. I thought it was interesting in the picture above that the Kudzu has covered the lamp post but not the lamp.
Here the Kudzu has grown up and nearly reached the top of the tree branches.
Another thing that makes me smile is that Elder Ashton will be 72 years old tomorrow - but he is not going to let that slow him down. He and some of the young Elders are hoping and planning to take a bike ride through the Great Dismal Swamp when it warms up. He continues to keep busy with the cars and drivers here.....the mission is getting 3 new VW Jetta's. When they went to pick them up at the dealer on Friday, one of the 3 cars started up but quit running before it left the parking lot of the dealership, The guy from the dealership called Elder Ashton today and told him they were going to have to put a new engine in that brand new car before the mission can take it.....and he already has lots of Elders and Sisters begging to be the ones to get the new cars! Maybe he can convince the missionaries that biking is better than driving ;-)
I miss Arizona - friends, family and weather.....in fact I miss friends and family whether they are in Arizona or not!
I love the missionaries and this opportunity to serve them!
We are having a great time!