It is really hard to believe that it is August already.....seems like just yesterday I was singing "Let It Go" in six inches of snow in the parking lot. And today I am wiping beads of sweat as I type - even sitting in the air-conditioned apartment the humidity gets to me!!!
Although this past week was relatively quiet, it still rushed by as we did things to prepare for the large influx of missionaries arriving this coming Tuesday. And, or course, the regular business of the mission continued...Monday we met with the President and his wife and they gave us the run down on what this upcoming week looks like. This mission does not have enough larger/cargo type vehicles to tote 30 missionaries and their baggage from the airport to the church to the hotel. So, Elder Ashton is renting a 12 passenger van, I will drive his pickup, one young missionary will drive the mission van, another will drive the extended cab pickup pulling the 14' trailer and the President and his wife will each drive their Toyota Highlanders. We should make quite the caravan ;-)
Following the meeting on Monday I went to an appointment with the oncologist in Norfolk (about 15 minutes away from the office.) They drew blood and checked me over for lumps, asked questions and sent me on my way with instructions to schedule a mammogram for September/October and come back to see them December 1. For now everything looks good :)
Elder Ashton spent a few days walking like me as he tried to recover from his bike crash last Saturday but he seems to be doing OK now.....or he is working hard enough that he doesn't have time to think about it. He has been gone since 6 a.m. this morning working on various bikes that have been left lying around the mission trying to get them road worthy for missionaries. He already had that planned before he got a surprise phone call on Friday. A trio of missionaries went to a meeting on Friday morning at their local LDS church, chained their bikes together and to a column at the church. When they came out of their meeting the cable lock(s) had been cut and all three bikes were gone. These particular missionaries are on bikes all the time so until Elder Ashton can get some bikes ready for them or they can purchase new ones, they will be walking everywhere they go......lots of exercise for them! Picture those 3 missionaries like this.....the ones pictured here are not from our mission but the scenery even resembles Virginia so I could see them walking along like this.
Wednesday we had 32 missionaries in the church building for most of the day being trained. When they come in from around Virginia and North Carolina, one of the other office missionaries has supplies organized and ready for them to take back and share with the other missionaries in their immediate area. This month they got a special surprise - a carpet cleaner. We've had complaints from several landlords that the missionaries left the carpet filthy so we purchased carpet cleaners and they will be instructed that they should shampoo the carpet every six weeks.
Carpet cleaners, shampoo, boxes of books and supplies lined up waiting for the missionaries to get them on Wednesday.
And missionaries are always hungry so we feed them lunch when they come in. Pizza was on the menu on Wednesday and these missionaries were anxious to get theirs :)
Once the training meeting is over, they come to the office to pick up supplies and at least half of them need to talk with Elder Ashton or drop something off for him.....it gets a little crazy. The Elder in the front of this picture is a nice young man and we spent a few minutes talking about Arizona. He lived in the area of Higley and Guadalupe and attended Highland High School. His name is Elder Johnson.
Noticed a bush with these beautiful white flowers on Thursday as we were heading home from the office, so I asked Elder Ashton to drop me off at that corner and I would walk up to the next corner to meet him. I thought the bush might be a Gardenia plant but when I got up close I could tell it was not - the flowers were too delicate to be Gardenias and did not have that distinctive smell. I still thought they were beautiful!
And as I walked along the sidewalk I noticed this Wisteria vine blooming again. I think the weathered wood, the cascading vine and the pretty purple bloom make for an interesting image.
As for walking to the next corner to meet Elder Ashton, I found that wasn't a very good idea in this humidity! By the time I made it to the truck I could hardly see where I was going because of the sweat running in my eyes.....and I continued to pour sweat for the next hour! At least I got some pictures of God's handiwork!
More handiwork......I noticed flowers like these in a yard along the street but they were not this big so I took pictures of the ones at the nursery instead. The ones in the yard were about 4 inches across - these about 6 inches. Again, based on the looks I think these must be related to Hibiscus but not sure.
Same flower in a darker color.....soooooo pretty!
Lots of Sunflowers back here......I haven't seen any that are 10 feet tall but this yard has two plots about this same size full of them.
Thursday in the middle of the night we had a short but severe thunder storm. It started about 3 a.m. and probably lasted a little over an hour. The thunder and lightening were fierce!
We had a few strikes immediately followed by thunder and shaking of the entire apartment building.
I laid awake until the storm calmed and then fell back asleep. The next thing I knew I heard someone trying to get in the door of the apartment and looked out the bedroom window to see flashing red lights, followed by plain lights, followed by darkness. My heart started to race and then I heard Elder Ashton clear his throat so got up to see what was going on.....The storm had knocked out the electricity and he went out to the truck to get his "head light" - it can show a plain steady light or a blinking red light and he was trying out the different modes outside the bedroom window! When my heart rate slowed, I decided it was still early and since the electricity was off I would just go back to sleep for awhile. The next thing I knew there was shouting and slamming of doors and I was sure someone had broken into the apartment......it was only Elder Ashton watching a video (sounded like the pirates boarding the ship in Captain Phillips move) on his computer - the power wasback on. I think I lost about 3 years off my life in those 3 hours in the early morning on Friday! All is calm here once again :)
Two other sisters who work in the office spent a couple of hours on Friday morning preparing bedding packets for the missionaries who will arrive on Tuesday. The 30 bags of bedding did not take up as much space as we expected, but we still used some unique space to hold them until the missionaries arrive.
We stacked some behind chairs in the foyer of the mission office.....
And some under the sign in another part of the foyer of the mission office. You will see that the bags are tagged with a name and each one contains a pillow, pillowcase, mattress cover, blanket, and comforter. Once they take the bedding out, they have a nice laundry bag to use.....and we expect after they have used the bedding for 2 years it will be ready to throw away!!!
And here's pics related to the "hundred dollar" adventure. Elder Ashton planted tomatoes and chilis in two containers which sit out on our patio. Between the cost of the pots, the "soil", the caging material and the blossom set, we have spent close to $100......and look what we have!
Three small green tomatoes and.....
..One tiny green pepper. That should add up to a $100 bottle of Salsa ;-)
I had a couple more opportunities this week to work with the young Sister Missionaries as they met with Ms. Sewell from Jamaica. She is such a gracious lady and I am enjoying getting to know her. I hope her upcoming attempt to pass the citizenship test goes well. She told us on Friday that she had a dream the other night in which her mother visited her and called her by the pet name she always called her and told her not to worry - that everything would be OK. It was so good to hear that she felt like that was an important message - don't worry. I believe that is probably a good message for all of us as we face challenging things in our lives.
Wishing you all a great upcoming week as we enjoy a busy week here in Virginia.