Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Colorful and Joyous Adventure

Easter Sunday - April 5, 2015
I think most of the gray has disappeared from Virginia in the last couple of weeks.   We still have one or two days a week where it is mostly gray and only partly sunny - but so much better than one or two days a week where we see the sun for a few hours and it is gray the rest of the time.   With the additional sunshine and warmer weather, the world around us has become a colorful canvas.   Seems there are trees or bushes of almost every color!  White trees, red trees, yellow trees, pink trees, green trees, lavender trees, orchid trees........seems like I can't swivel my head quickly enough to see all the beautiful foliage!

Beautiful light pink flowering trees in front of one of the churches we pass on our way to the office.

Beautiful lavender blooms on a tree in a yard on our way to the office.   I stopped to take this picture the other morning and the lady of the house must have wondered what I was thinking.....she stood in the window and watched me and even though I tried to explain I just wanted a picture of the tree I don't think she was too pleased.

The two trees shown above reminded me of our Hong Kong orchid tree in the backyard but the flowers are a much lighter color and there are not the large leaves.  Still so pretty!

The white Bradford Pear trees shown in full bloom last week have started to leaf out and are gradually turning to a spring green color.

Monday was just the beginning of a VERY busy week.   During our Monday morning meeting with President and Sister Baker, he requested that we pick up a couple of Elders at 6:45 on Tuesday morning and get them to the airport - their flight was at a different time than the other 11 missionaries.   One of the missionaries was going to Brazil after waiting 4 months for his visa and the other was going to Czech/Slav mission after being here in Virginia for 6 weeks.   But before I could even consider the early hour at which I would need to arise, I needed to pay baggage fees for 13 missionaries (one going to Brazil did not need any baggage fees), print out two receipts for each one, and print boarding passes for all.   I had a total of approximately 1.5 hours to accomplish this before the President and Sister Baker would leave the office and need to take all that documentation with them.  Wouldn't you know it......I couldn't get the web page to accept the credit card number.  I struggled with that for about 30 minutes and finally ended up calling Delta.   Thank goodness the wait for customer service was only about 5 minutes or I never would have accomplished what I needed to!!!   I was glad to go home and make a quick batch of hamburger/vegetable soup and fall into bed!

Up at 5:00 a.m. and out the door by 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning to pick up the two young missionaries and get them to the airport.   Thank goodness Elder Ashton got his new truck on Saturday so we had room to help haul the missionaries to the airport!  We met President and Sister Baker at the airport so they could give the young men their passports and visas to speed them on their way.

Elder Geier and Elder Nelson with President Baker  at the airport on Tuesday morning before they catch their flight to Prague to serve in the Czech/Slav mission.

Elders Geier and Nelson headed to Czech/Slav and Elder Hancock headed to Brazil.  As I looked at these young men getting ready to head out, I couldn't help but think of Matthew 24:14 which I think describes our day. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preaching in all the wold for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.   We are certainly taking the gospel forth to all the world.

We headed the 10 miles or so back to Portsmouth and spent the next 6 hours taking care of our regular assignments in the office.   The 7 new missionaries were due to arrive at the Norfolk airport at 3:40 and we had promised Sister Shaw and Elder Shaw that we would come over and help them get set up and serve the meal since this was their first time to be in charge of that.  So, about 2:45 we left the office to head back to Norfolk - using our fancy new truck and having On-Star give us turn by turn directions.   Just as we were ready to turn into the church parking lot, Elder Ashton's telephone came over the blue tooth connection.  It was President Baker with an assignment for Elder Ashton, but the two electronics were competing and Elder Ashton could not understand President Baker until we got the On-Star turned off.   Once they connected again, Elder Ashton learned that the young missionary Assistants to the President who take care of a lot of the transporting of missionaries had been in an accident - the trailer they were towing to carry luggage of the incoming missionaries was rear-ended as they left the tunnel between Portsmouth and Norfolk.   They were tied up with the state police, so Elder Ashton and his shiny new truck were needed to go to the airport and pickup incoming missionaries.   Elder Shaw also took his car so they would have enough room to haul all the missionaries and their luggage.   That left Sister Shaw and I at the church to get everything set up.  We got it set up with a little time to spare and it was a beautiful day outside so I decided to take a quick walk around the building....and I found some more beautiful signs of spring.

Their are lots of different kinds of daffodils here and you see them in abundance!

This ground cover was by the chapel doors.  I really liked the feathery little white blooms

I liked the positioning and shape of this tree placed in front of the rock wall on the chapel.

Because of the accident at the tunnel, Elder Hancock missed his plane to Brazil, but the church travel department was able to get him on a flight leaving just 1.25 hours later and he would still be able to make the connection in Atlanta to Brazil.   So, after all that excitement, Elder Ashton and Elder Shaw, along with the incoming missionaries and Sister Baker arrived at the chapel and we started serving the meal.   In just a few minutes the Assistants came in and although they seemed a little shaken up because of the accident, they went on with their responsibilities in welcoming the new missionaries.   Soon President Baker arrived and we got back on schedule. :)

As soon as the Assistants arrived, Elder Ashton interrupted his dinner to go check out the damage.   All this damage to the trailer and the ball hitch were caused by a VW Golf - going over the speed limit and not seeing the stopped traffic due to the traffic jam until it was too late.   Now Elder Ashton has another project. - get the trailer replaced :)

Because all the missionary luggage was already loaded in our truck, we kept it there and delivered it to them at the hotel in Portsmouth to end out our day.   We arrived home just after 9 p.m . and it was a very short time until my head hit the pillow!   Whew - this "oldster" missionary has a hard time keeping up some days but I surely am glad I'm here.

Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m. missionaries began arriving at the chapel/office.   This was the day the new missionaries would learn who their new companions would be and also the day to make changes/transfers for other missionaries.   We had received those flat primary children from the Catalina Ward Primary so I took some pictures of the missionaries (some who have been out a while and some who were just coming in) with the flat primary children.

Elders Martinez and Hidalgo and Sister Bunker (I think) currently serving and waiting for new companions.

Sister Rudy and Sister Parry had been out performing service for one of their investigators and stopped in the office to pick up supplies for a teaching appointment they had that afternoon.

Elder Hubbard, a newly arriving missionary, with his sack lunch and his bicycle (that you can't see) ready to head out with his new companion to his first assignment in North Carolina.  Based on his looks, I'm wondering if there might be some relationship to some of my family, but he didn't know.

Thursday was a regular day at the office until about 3 p.m. when Elder Ashton needed to go to the Toyota dealership about 18 miles away and pick up 4 new Toyota Corollas.  We could only find two other people (the Assistants) to help us, so that meant I had to drive back to Portsmouth by myself in rush hour traffic.   Have I told you lately that I LOVE Siri!!   She got me back to the church safe and sound with no wrong turns.   However, when we went back on Friday morning to pick up the 4th and final Corolla, she didn't do so well-----one wrong turn.   Wait, that was Sister Ashton that took the wrong turn...she didn't follow Siri's instructions with "exactness".  Luckily, I only went about 1 mile out of my way and was able to make a U-turn and get back on track :)   Friday went by quickly and most of my time was spent trying to solve a couple of problems - got one solved and still working on the other but I was glad to call it a week and looked forward to some "down time"

Friday evening Elder Ashton got a text from the Assistants asking us if we would go to a teaching appointment with them on Saturday morning.   That changed our schedule a bit for the day but was a good experience in the end.    When we got to the house where the had an appointment, the lady was not home, but they found someone in the yard next door and went over to talk to them.   I spent some time taking more pictures of flowers :)

I LOVE this flower - love the light/bright pink combination and the bright yellow center.  I don't know what it is called but I really like it.

Here's a bright reddish pink one of the same it, too but not quite as much as the other one.

The people at the house next door were not interested, so the Elders asked if we would be willing to stop in and visit Ernest (we went there with them a couple of weeks ago) as he lived only a couple of blocks away.   We readily agreed, but when we got to Ernest's apartment, he did not open the door when we knocked.  

Elder Tucker knocked a 3rd time and the door on my right opened and a young father looked out.  Most would just shut the door but he engaged in conversation with us.  He had beautiful large brown eyes with a special sparkle in them and had a cute little 2 year old boy.  He said he would like to learn more about the Elder's message and they were going to give him a call and set up a time to meet with him again.  He gripped my hand firmly as we exchanged good-byes and told each other it had been a pleasure to meet.   I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with others of Gods children!

As I walked by this tree in the parking lot on Saturday afternoon, I realized it had little red dots on it and decided to get a closer picture.

I could not tell if these little buds will break open to flowers - I'll have to keep an eye on it.

I also noticed this tree in the parking lot and the little green balls on it.  This tree is one of those that has the seed pod that looks like a prickly ball.  I originally noticed this when we were at the Great Dismal Swamp, but have noted the trees all around since then - in our parking lot, at the church, etc.   Just this week I learned (based on the mess in the church parking lot) that these pods soften and break open and seedlings much like dandelion seeds blow all over.   In fact, I looked out the window on Friday when the wind was blowing and it almost looked like it was snowing outside. I believe the little green balls will eventually turn into this prickly seed pod.

I'm sure most of you have heard the saying "What goes around comes around" and some of you have lived long enough to see that happen, especially in fashions.  There have been times when I have wished that I had kept some of my clothes from the 70s and 80s because they have become fashionable again :)  Several weeks ago as I was getting looking in the mirror and getting ready for the day, I suddenly realized that my hair style closely resembled one that I had half a century ago.   That sent me on a search of old pictures to see if that was true so I thought I would share what I found with all of you.
 15 years old
 28 years old
66 years old
My search found that my hairdo is similar and that I have had this same similar hairdo a few other times, but more importantly, my search made me realize that although life's challenges have added some pounds, some wrinkles, and some gray hairs, and I may not look as good physically as I did those 50 some years ago, I am an improved version of that younger me because of the lessons I have learned from family, friends, and associates as well as life's challenges.   I am so thankful for the life I have been allowed to live and for the great influence each of you have on me.  On this beautiful spring day, in this glorious Easter Season, I send my a love to each of you.  Wishing you joy and happiness as you travel along life's path.


  1. So happy to see all the color arriving in Virginia. I think the large pink flowering tree above is a magnolia. I see some redbud and other trees I don't recognize, but are beautiful. You and Elder Ashton are such an integral part of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission and I have no doubt you are an absolutely invaluable asset to President and Sister Baker. The joy you find in your service is palpable. We are so proud of you!!

  2. I think you are right....I have been waiting for the big dinner plate size white magnolias to come out but when I did some research last night I found that there are multiple varieties of magnolia trees and I think I have captured 3 or 4 different varieties in the pictures in the post. Whatever they are, I love to see the beauty in the world around me :)
    We are loving our mission and what we are doing and Elder Ashton is now thinking it might be fun to serve from home when we get back.......I was thinking that he might slow down when he passes on, but then I remembered there is work to do on the other side so I'm sure he will just keep going ;-) We miss you guys and hope your hearts are finding comfort.