After many years of sage brush green and cactus gray and dirt brown, my eyes are almost overwhelmed with the color I see around me everywhere!!! Seems I see vibrant color everywhere I look at this world abloom here in Virginia. We have daffodils, tulips, roses, and pansies everywhere (those are the flowers and bushes I know the names of). There are probably a hundred other blooming varieties that I DON'T know the names of but I love the beautiful colors!
These two beautiful tulips were found in the courtyard at the church. (Please disregard the portions of my skirt and shoes that made their way into the pictures - I am really a terrible photographer but maybe you can still get the idea of what it is like)
Monday and Tuesday were pretty regular days at the office and at home - plenty to do but not so much going on that it was overwhelming or chaotic. On Wednesday morning we arrived at the office just before 8 o'clock and found a couple of missionaries already there. I think we represent grandparents away from home to most of them so they usually come to our desks to give us hugs and to talk to us. I LOVE getting the hugs because they remind me of the hugs from my grandkids :) Elder Ashton immediately got busy setting up tables in the cultural hall for the Mission Leadership Conference scheduled to start at 10:00. I stayed in the office for a short time to man the phones and took about 5 calls in an hour. By that time, President and Sister Baker were there and Sister Shaw was ready for some help getting the tablecloths on the tables and the decorations set up. By 9 a.m. there were about 20 missionaries there and cars needed to be delivered to the repair shop, problems with phones needed to be solved, etc. While the missionaries were in their meeting, Elder Ashton took the new air compressor he bought and went around checking the tires on the missionary automobiles. He found one mini van where the back tires were completely bald - no tread! And the van had less than 20K miles on it. He ordered tires so they could be put on when those same two elders came back for a zone meeting on Friday. Finally, by 4:30 all the young missionaries had left the church/office and Elder Ashton and I headed home for some rest!
However, as we drove into the driveway at the apartment complex, I noticed that the tree by the entrance that had little red balls on it last week was starting to change. On Wednesday it looked like this.
Just starting to bloom. I looked online and think this may be a flowering crab apple tree but don't see any evidence of fruit yet so I'm not sure.
On Saturday, it looked like the 3 pictures shown above - mostly light pink/white flowers with only a very few red dots left.
Thursday and Friday, Elder Ashton went over to Virginia Beach and was given 40 minutes to do some training on how to take care of cars, etc. He was like a little boy at Christmas - so excited for the opportunity that he couldn't sleep and woke up at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. He has said that the training sessions went well and he thinks the missionaries are learning something. He is doing everything within his power to help them get and stay organized. He made a "coupon booklet" for every car. The missionaries are supposed to complete a weekly coupon about what maintenance they have done on their car - check oil, check tires, wash, vacuum, etc. He bought a 'bank bag" to fit in the glove box of every car that can hold the "coupon booklet", the mileage report and the gas receipts. The bags look like this and he has red, green and blue bags so they should be easy for the missionaries to keep track of.
On Saturday morning I woke up about 7:45 and came out of the bedroom to find the apartment deserted......but no note from Elder Ashton. I wondered where he was and then opened the blinds a bit and saw him out in the parking lot "working" on his pride and joy.....the new truck. He was organizing the things in the back, working under the hood, and polishing the truck......and whistling a tune while he was doing all of that ;-)
I got the laundry started, got dressed, ate some breakfast and went out to see what Elder Ashton's plan for the day was. He said he would do whatever I wanted and I told him I needed to have an adventure but hadn't decided on anyplace to go.....so I came back inside and checked out some things in the area that we might go see. After another hour and a half, Elder Ashton came in to get ready to go on our adventure. We decided to go to Elizabeth City, North Carolina that sits on Albermarle Sound where three rivers come together. We have been through there before but didn't really take time to stop. So, once Elder Ashton was showered and ready, off we went on our adventure.
We had yellow blossoms, white blossoms, purple blossoms and lots of green......
...All under a beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds and temperatures in the 70's!
We are traveling along at about 60 miles an hour when Elder Ashton says, "Oh, oh, oh.." I looked up from my reading sure we were going to have an accident.....but it was only a small cemetery off to the side of the road. Elder Ashton quickly put on the brakes and turned off the road to take pictures in the cemetery. I must admit it was a beautiful little final resting place for just over 200 souls.....the clearing was surrounded by trees and bushes and the birds were singing clearly. While Elder Ashton took photos, I got out and walked around the cemetery and back up the road a bit.
This cemetery was just along the road in Camden - before we ever got to Elizabeth city.
Light yellow dogwood blooms on a tiny tree in the cemetery. Elder Ashton is taking pictures in the background
I believe this is a Forsythia branch that was right beside the entrance to the cemetery.
A couple of nice, well-kept homes and yards along the roadway in Camden. It is interesting to see the condition of different houses back here.....there seems to be little or no zoning so you could have a really old, worn place right next to a new well-kept place. I notice more run-down places in the larger towns. Seems that in the more rural areas, most of the homes and yards are better taken care of.
Another of the nice homes. I LOVED the bright pink flowering tree in the yard. This house sat next to a berry stand and almost directly in front of a strawberry field. As I was walking along the road here my mouth starting watering just thinking of plump ripe strawberries. We may need to take another trip to Camden when the berries are ready.
Wasn't there a Beatles song about "Strawberry Fields Forever"?
Based on the number of blossoms it looks like there will be lots of strawberries. This is about a 3 foot section of just one in MANY rows of plants. I thought it was interesting to see them planted in holes cut into the black plastic.
As I was walking along the roadway trying to make sure I didn't step in the road or in the ditch of water, I noticed these tiny blue flowers.....and immediately thought of President Uchtdorf's talk about Forget-me-nots" - don't know if these are Forget-me-not flowers but that is what I immediately thought of.
By this time, Elder Ashton had photographed all the headstones in the cemetery and it was time to get back in the truck and head further down the road. We hadn't gone far when he saw another small cemetery, just off to the side of the road. He turned in and hopped out to begin taking pictures. I got out a little slower to take more pictures of dogwood blossoms that were along the edge of the cemetery.
Notice these blossoms are a creamy light yellow color. I've seen a number of those trees on our drive back and forth to the office.
This photo and the one below are white dogwood blossoms and are a little larger than the creamy yellow ones.
As Elder Ashton was taking photos in this cemetery he said he saw a black snake about 6 feet long!!!! I'm certainly glad I was busy taking pictures of beautiful flowers and didn't see it or I would have screamed and tried to run...and since the ground was very uneven I probably wouldn't have run very far before taking a tumble :)
It didn't take Elder Ashton long to finish the small cemetery - he said there were only about 25 images there - and we got back in the truck to head on to Elizabeth City.....but before we got very far we came to the Camden County Courthouse that was built in 1910.
This was an interesting structure and I would have liked to see the inside but since this still serves as a functioning courthouse, it was closed for the weekend.
This carved stone monument sat near the road.....explaining that this is a memorial. The brick walkways have some interesting tributes to those who have served.
It is common to see reminders that I truly am in the south and that many of the people here still consider the confederate soldiers to be heroes.
Honoring those who died in a more recent struggle.
On the same grounds was an old jail that had been restored - complete with stocks outside the jail. Elder Ashton frequently teases the young missionaries when they don't get something turned in on time that he is going to put them in the stocks and they just look blank.....so we decided we needed to take a picture of the stocks so they could see what they were.
This appears to be only for their legs - there is a small board behind that a "prisoner" might have sat on? Do you notice Elder Ashton trying to figure out how it works?
This appears to be for the arms and head.....but as you can see below, either those people were really small or I have a huge head...There was no way my head would fit in that hole ;-)
We finally reached Elizabeth City and while driving around trying to find the Museum of the Albermarle we ran across some pretty cool looking historic buildings. This particular one was not occupied, but appears that it was a bank.
Don't know how old this one is, but I thought it was pretty - a Methodist church.
And speaking of pretty churches, here are a few more.
These are in Norfolk....notice the one on the right and the one tall rectangle one on the left further down the street.
This one is also in Norfolk and the only time I see it is when I am exiting the tunnel and there is not place to slow down or turn off to get a better picture - or when I'm entering the tunnel and the same problem applies. Every time I see it I wish I could stop and get a close-up picture.
This is another one we saw in Elizabeth City today.....LOTS of Baptist churches every where we go.
We never found the museum in Elizabeth City but we did find a little seafood restaurant with a nice view of the sound. The food wasn't anything to rave about but the view was nice. There was a group outside decorating and getting prepared for a 4 p.m. wedding.
There was an interesting plant right outside the door to the building where the restaurant was with bright berries on it......I don't know what they were but they sure stood out against the green leaves.
While we were eating lunch, I asked Elder Ashton if he had his phone turned on because he hadn't received any phone calls from missionaries yesterday. He checked - the phone was on. But I think I jinxed us ;-) We had just started on the drive home about an hour later when his phone rang. It was Sister Missionaries saying they weren't able to get gas because they lost (or it was stolen) their gas credit card and when they tried to use their regular debit card that has money loaded on it every month for food and incidentals, the machine said it wouldn't accept it. We told them to go inside the store and talk to the clerk and never heard back from them so hopefully they were able to get the card to work and get some gas until a new card comes to replace the lost/stolen one.
About 30 minutes later as we were approaching our apartment, Elder Ashton's phone rang again. This time it was an elder to report a "little" accident where he ran into the back of someone. He said it really didn't do much damage - just a little baseball size dent in the bumper and a piece of the grille broken out. He said the driver of the other car jumped out of the car and ran away and the son she left behind tried to answer questions for the police officer. She had no insurance, no registration, no driver's license and left her son behind. I have no idea how old the boy was - but sure wanted to reach out and give him a hug. What a terrible situation to leave him in - and now what happens to the boy. I couldn't get that out of my mind when we got home---until Elder Ashton got a text about 30 minutes later from the same Elder who said, "Oh, and it knocked the license plate off which I am sure can easily be screwed back on." I just had to laugh at how these missionaries will try to minimize their accidents. Elder Ashton received a text from President Baker this morning saying that the Elder's driving privileges had been revoked because he had a "preventable" accident - they really hate it when their driving privileges are revoked!
Just outside our door the juvenile long needle pine is setting new pine cones......and they are putting out yellow pollen all over. Right after Elder Ashton had polished his truck all up, it was covered with yellow pollen coming from these and other plants!
We have a couple in our ward who are leaving Tuesday morning for a mission in Salt Lake City. They have a grandson named Wyatt and the Sister bore her testimony and was talking about how she was going to miss having Wyatt stop in.......hit a little too close to home for me cause I started thinking about how much I miss my family and friends I left behind, including my Wyatt. I'm sitting here in the dead quiet this afternoon reminiscing about the Sunday afternoon family dinners and family reunions when we have such a great time together. Hope you can all feel our love and support for you - we pray for you, we silently cheer you on, and we shake our heads when we see pictures that depict how grown-up our grandkids and great-grandkids are getting!
We are so blessed/lucky to have all of you in our lives and to have your support so we can serve.