Happy Valentine's Day to everyone - and here's hoping your heart is filled with love this day and every day! I can truly say I am learning to love this adventure we are on more every day....some days are extremely busy and some are a little less intense but all are rewarding and it was no different this week.
We started the week on Monday with regular duties and meetings. A couple of the sisters in the office spent a large part of the day decorating and preparing for a special Sister's Training meeting that was to be held on Tuesday, February 10th. One of the sisters is very artistic and she used branches and twigs to make unique and pretty decorations.
Who would have thought that twigs and branches could be so attractive. Of course, the crystal vase filled with pink silk tulips wasn't bad either :)
The theme of the conference was "Oh Lord, Write Thy Name Upon my Heart" and was to encourage us to live so that we can draw closer to the Savior in our thoughts and actions. We we taught be the President's wife, Sister Baker, four young sister missionaries and President Baker. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch of Chipotle style build your own burritos and brownies with pink heart-shaped strawberry marshmallows in the middle. I spent a lot of the time in the kitchen preparing the food and getting in ready for serving but was able to hear some of the teaching.....it was GREAT! The only males that were invited to the training were the husbands of the Senior Sister missionaries and President Baker so there was lots of chatter and giggling during the lunch break. Elder Ashton did pretty good with putting up with all that giggling :)
It's quite easy to tell that these were tables set up specifically for the Senior Couples.....just based on the color and amount of hair on the heads :)
During the lunch break the sisters were able to enjoy a clothing exchange. You can't imagine how boring it gets wearing the same 10 outfits over and over and over and over again (I speak for myself) so the sisters bring what they are tired of and other sisters can take at no cost. They had a great time finding "new" clothes!
By the time all the clean-up was done on Tuesday, I was ready to go back to the apartment and put my feet up! Back to work on Wednesday to pay the rent on 94 apartments. It took me all day to verify which apartments we were still in, which we had renewed leases on and experienced an increase in rent, and which we had moved out of. I finally finished that just before time to head home so I would be ready to process the data in the software on Thursday morning. This short month required me to process rent about 4 days early to be sure headquarters in Salt Lake City would have time to cut the checks, mail them, and have them arrive before March 1 to avoid any late fees or threatened evictions. Our US mail service here is TERRIBLE - it can take a week for a letter to go to the next town 30 miles away!....so it can take a full week to come from Salt Lake. Keeps me on my toes :)
Elder Ashton was really busy on Wednesday trying to deal with a problem with the mission trailer. The Assistants to the President took it to North Carolina on Tuesday evening to take 10 of the sister missionaries back and had a tire blow out, They were in a rather rural place and it was late on Tuesday so they waited until Wednesday to try to get back to Virginia. He was still getting phone calls from them with updates about their adventures in trying to get new tires on one axle of the trailer when we left the office and he said he was just going to go home and chill out. I told him I was fine with that but I was going to run over to Wal-Mart. When he heard that, he decided he would go get his haircut so we came up with a plan for him to drop me at Wal-,Mart, go get his hair cut and come back to get me. I only needed to pick up a couple of things so knew I would have some time to just wander around and relax (not too relaxing to go shopping with a very task oriented individual - there is no window shopping going on - get in, get what you came for, get out ;-) So, I am wandering around Wal-Mart and spot a pair of earrings that would go perfectly with a cardigan sweater I have been wearing. It goes something like this......I pick them up, I put them back and decide I really don't need them, I pick them back up because they really would go great with that sweater, I put them back because I really don't need them, and I pick them up-I WANT them even if I don't need them and they cost $2.88.
Now I am faced with another dilemma - they are so small that if I put them in the cart they will fall out, so I just keep them in my hand. I wander around the store a bit more and pick up a couple of other things then decide I better go check out because Elder Ashton will be coming. I go to the express lane so I can hurry and not keep Elder Ashton waiting. There are only 3 people in front of me in the line and 2 of them are together....I should be out of there in no time. NOT. The two that were together couldn't agree whether they should get the curtain that they already had in their cart or not and they went back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. I could see the clerk was getting edgy because the line was backing up and I was trying to be a good example and just remain calm. They finally decided to take the curtain and then they couldn't agree on who was going to pay for it. The clerk finally told them to quit arguing and move on that she had other customers to wait on! By this time I was reaching for my wallet so I could go through the line quickly without having to dig my wallet out of my purse. Finally! I'm checked out and go out to sit by the Ronald McDonald statue and wait for Elder Ashton. He comes in a few minutes and we head home and I begin to put my purchases away. I couldn't find the earrings and thought that was weird but decided I must have landed on the "I don't need them" argument because I certainly didn't get home with them and it wasn't a big deal.
Thursday was a typical office day except that we sat in on a missionary lesson/discussion at 2 p.m. that afternoon. While wandering back to the office I passed the window to the inner courtyard and noticed this tree/bush with large buds on it. I think it might be a Magnolia tree and if it is, I have heard that the blossoms can be as big as a dinner plate. I'm anxious for spring to come - to get some warm air and to see a Magnolia blossom!
There are also a large number of these trees around the church parking lot and up closer to the church. I find them very interesting because they don't have thick bark like I am accustomed to, more like a paper bark. I keep asking Elder Ashton what he thinks they are and he says maybe a Birch tree, but I was doing some research the other day and I think they may be Crape Myrtle trees. If so, I can hardly wait to see them in bloom......I hear they are beautiful!
Most of Thursday, Elder Ashton spent dealing with the issues of the Mission trailer and trying to make sure it had a good spare in it so the Elders wouldn't get caught in the same situation again. He finally got to the point late in the afternoon that he decided he needed to fabricate a piece to hang the tire from inside the trailer. About the time he decided that (about 3 p.m.) it started to snow. First the flakes were small, but they kept getting larger and larger until they were the size of dimes. Elder Ashton decided it was time to go home so he could have access to his tools to fabricate the piece and work on it inside where it was warm until it was ready to mount in the trailer. He was going to drive the van/trailer to the apartment and I was going to drive the pickup. So I needed to get my own set of keys out and began digging in the bottom of my purse to find the keys.
Yes - the white spots are the real size of the snowflakes!!!
Just imagine my surprise and my consternation when I found my keys in the bottom of my purse, laying on top of ......... THE EARRINGS!
Oh No!!! I could just imagine the headlines "Senior Mormon Sister Missionary Nabbed for Shoplifting"!! My mind started running trying to figure out how those ended up in my purse. I have no recollection of putting them in there - but have decided maybe I dropped them in when I reached for my wallet and was so concentrated on trying to remain calm and nice that I didn't even remember it happened. BUT - I tell you I had to remind myself to obey the speed limit as I drove home and then over to Wal-Mart to make myself an honest woman!! And I breathed a sigh of relief when I had parted with the $3.11 to pay for the earrings. After all that I decided to wear the sweater and earrings on Friday and when I came out of the bedroom/bathroom ready for the day, Elder Ashton said, "I see you have your stolen earrings on this morning." Made us both laugh at the craziness that comes as we get older and get more forgetful.
Weather was FRIGID on Friday with a really cold, damp wind and each time I stepped outside it literally took my breath away. We needed to be up and getting Saturday chores done early because Elder Ashton had been invited to baptize a new convert who was taught by the Sister Missionaries that serve in our ward. So, up we hopped, got the laundry started, the vacuuming and grocery shopping done before the baptism.
Linda Su was baptized today. She is a tiny little woman whose family is from Taiwan. Her family has practiced the Buddhist faith but her father died a little over a year ago and she has been searching for something since then. She was really nervous but did great! And it was so great to feel the spirit and see how happy she was. She was radiant.
Elder Ashton with the first baptism of his second full-time mission :)
After the baptism we went for a "little" drive to find a JoAnns fabric and craft store. I was looking for flannel to make a little blanket for our 6th great grandchild that is expected to be born in a few months. We had to drive 30 miles to find a fabric store.....can I just say once again that I am really not impressed with the shopping facilities here in Virginia!!! Finally got to the store in Virginia Beach and all I could say was "Can't wait to get back to my store in Arizona" The store was dirty, terrible organization, and could not find anyone to answer my questions. Oh well, I did find some flannel but may keep looking for another chance to pick some up. While we were out we took the opportunity to drive another 15 minutes and see the lighthouses and Cape Henry.
This original Cape Henry Lighthouse was completed in 1792 and cost $17,700 to build. It is built of stone and needless to say, I did not climb to the top. Elder Ashton did climb to the top and said even though it is built entirely of stone, when you are at the top you can fee the wind blowing the lighthouse and it sways a little in the wind. This original lighthouse was damaged by confederate forces during the civil war and later repaired by union forces but questions arose about its stability so a second lighthouse was constructed and opened in 1881.
This second lighthouse is only 350 feet from the original lighthouse and is owned and operated, still today, by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Since I wasn't thrown in the clink for shoplifting ;-), I really enjoyed some of the idyllic scenes we saw today. I loved this peaceful setting of the houses along the bay, under the blue sky.
I promise from this time forward I will follow the examples of George Washington and Honest Abe -
No more heists for me ;-)