Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Green Adventure

Sunday, May 17

Another busy week - touched with green.  We received some "green" (new) missionaries on Tuesday late afternoon, but before that we caught the outer edges of Tropical Depression Ana almost all day on Monday.   The rain came down heavily and steadily for most of the day - I looked out the office window at one point during the day and saw that there was nearly 2 inches of standing water covering most of the parking lot.

 It was "transfer week" which means we send some missionaries home and get a new batch of missionaries.  Some of the missionaries that went home are ones that I had gotten to know fairly well because they have been serving in this area for some of the time we have been there.  This cycle we sent 14 missionaries home and welcomed 10 new ones.  One of my responsibilities is to pay baggage fees and do check-in and boarding passes for the departing missionaries in a short period of time on the Monday morning before they leave on Tuesday morning. It went pretty smoothly this time with only one hang-up.....I was unable to take care of that for the Elder that was returning to Tonga because he had to show his passport and check in at the airport.  I count only one glitch as a success :)

Tuesday morning Elder Ashton asked me to help him pick up a Volkswagen  that was at the dealership about 20 miles away.   As I was driving back, I suddenly felt a little claustrophobic - the trees are so dense it is almost impossible to see the signs far enough in advance to make appropriate turns on the freeway-----it was a good thing I had On-Star guiding me because there were a couple of signs I absolutely could not see until I got right beside them.

There was one sign I was glad to see given that we are in hurricane season back here and the locals say we usually get at least one hurricane every season. (the blue sign designates the roadway as a hurricane evacuation route.

Tuesday afternoon we welcomed the 10 new missionaries - 7 Sisters and only 3 Elders.  The missionaries are picked up at the Norfolk Airport and brought to the church that is about 2 miles away where they are fed dinner and interviewed by the President so he can get to know them a little and decide where to assign them to serve.
This was an interesting arrival as we had "sort of" connections to one of the incoming missionaries.   Sister Olesen (seen at the top of the table in the striped shirt) was taught in 3rd grade by Emily Call (now Hepworth) who is married to our nephew.   I got a few minutes to talk with her and she said it was good to feel like she had someone waiting in Virginia that she had a little connection to.

Note the group of Elders at the top of the picture.   President Baker is a tall man and is at the head of the table, but we had an Elder arrive who is a couple of inches taller than the President (although his face looks like he is about 15).

We made it home early as soon as the missionaries were fed and we had cleaned up after the meal as we were not transporting any missionaries this time.   We made it home before 7 o'clock and that was nice!

Still lots of beautiful flowering plants all around.   One thing I have noticed is that roses grow really well in Virginia!  Almost every yard has at least one rose bush - most have many.   The row of roses below blooms in our parking lot median.

And the bushes are just COVERED in blooms!

Wednesday the new missionaries and those that have been assigned to work with them all come to the office for the morning for more orientation.   Some missionaries are going south, some are going north, some are going southeast to Nags Head.  It can get quite chaotic - with new missionaries, seasoned missionaries being assigned to a new place, and seasoned missionaries being assigned to teach/train the new missionaries - and luggage for most.   We consider it some kind of miracle if all missionaries end up where they are supposed to be with their own luggage :))

Elders getting ready to open the new trailer and load it with bike racks and luggage.

Sisters and Elders gathered around the cars getting ready to leave for their assigned areas.
A few minutes after taking this picture, I glanced out the window of the office and saw several small groups of Elders and Sisters gathered around various cars with their heads bowed.  I got a lump in my throat as I realized these young people were praying for safe travel before they set off and was touched by their faith.

I had an errand to run at Target after work on Thursday (while Elder Ashton was busy getting registrations for vehicles) and when I drove up I noticed trees with large white flowers.   I was confused because they looked almost like dogwood blooms but they were bigger and a little different shape, so I stopped to take a picture.....then came home and did some research.

My research leads me to "believe" that these are Chinese Dogwood - very pretty

Friday was a regular day in the office - spent paying the rent on 94 apartments......I spend a few hours verifying that all rent amounts and occupied apartments are up to date in the software, run the rent payment, and then record the payment in a spreadsheet that is searchable should we get any questions about the rent.

Saturday was full of chores, chores, and more chores and preparing dinner for the missionaries but we managed to get in a short trip to Norfolk to view some old churches/burying grounds.  We first topped to try to get a closer picture of St. Mary's (I've grabbed a couple of pictures from the freeway and included them in earlier posts).   When we arrived they were just concluding some kind of worship service and I felt like we were kind of in the way so didn't get as many  pictures as I wanted.
This is a beautifully ornate building that was originally built in 1842, destroyed by fire in 1856 and rebuilt in 1858.

We were unable to go inside but it is my understanding that it is extremely beautiful inside and that it was designated as  minor basillica in 1991.

We also visited St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Norfolk.   This is the oldest building in Norfolk and was built in 1739.   The building is the only structure that survived the British destruction of Norfolk on New Year's Day 1776.  A cannon ball fired by Lord Dunmoore of the British Fleet remains lodged in the Southeastern wall.   The churchyard is also the final resting place of Revolutionary war veterans, Civil war veterans and others.
Grave sites

One of the stained glass windows

A smaller stained glass window - note the fancy woodwork in the window above the door

A "lover's" tree - made me stop and wonder when these "lovers" carved their initials into the tree.

Multiple grave sites and and large gnarled trees - I loved the huge gnarled trees that stood watch over the graves.

Small fountain in the churchyard - I noticed several birds taking a bath in that fountain :)  I sat on a small bench and watched the birds and just looked around at the huge trees and all the grave sites. Although you can catch a glimpse of the "modern" world in the background, I felt totally surrounded by history and a special spirit that pervaded this church yard and final resting places.

A fancy flower shaped window.   How did they make these so many years ago - great workmanship!

The cannon ball that remains in the wall of the church.   While I was approaching this site, a young girl of about 11 came running around the corner saying, "Mom, mom, I found it."   Her mom explained that they had just finished studying the war in school and that she was driving by and thought this would be a fun and educational experience for her daughter :)

Another remnant from the past - a small sun dial that sits in the churchyard.

This columbarium is also located in the churchyard and we noticed several recent dates on this.   Most of the headstones are very old, but this was more recent.

Note the crack in the bricks around the portico - I guess even bricks get tired after 300 years and sometimes crack under pressure.

FINALLY - those Southern Magnolia trees that I have been waiting for are starting to bloom - do you see the bloom and the two large buds?

Other buds in various stages - this tree should have many blooms in a few weeks.  Notice the magnolia blooms on the trees in the background.

Another Magnolia tree in a yard in Portsmouth.   These trees grow to be huge - everything about them is huge - the tree, the blooms, the buds, the leaves.

As I enjoy these beautiful and fragrant magnolia blooms, it makes me think of a couple of quotes I have heard from the movie Steel Magnolias (I don't see hardly any movies but I think these quotes have application to our lives)

"Smile, it increases your face value"
"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion"

And after spending 6 months here in Virginia, I'm hearing those quotes in a lovely southern accent :)

One last shout out to my friends and family in Arizona.   Right now in Chesapeake, VA it is 82 degrees and 62% humidity.   In Gilbert, AZ it is 82 degrees and 19% humidity.   I now have a whole new appreciation for the "dry" heat of Arizona!


  1. Beautiful pictures. I can't believe all the flower varieties. It exceeds my imagination! Loved the old church.

  2. Love hearing about your adventures.

  3. Love reading about all your adventures...and, by the way, this is Chris, not TJ. He typed something on my computer and now I can't get my name back on the account. I'm sure your mission president is thrilled to have you and Denis doing what you're doing - very detailed and challenging work. With care and all your detail orientation. Such a thrill to see the missionaries come and go!

  4. Love your blog with all the glorious pictures. What you said about Arizona weather and humidity vs Virginia, and Wisconsin. When we went back to Utah for the funeral we got out of our motel in Wyoming. It was 28 deg and we said, Boy it feels warm. The humidity level says it all.