Another week has passed in what seems like the blink of an eye! It was a busy week, but not so busy that it should have passed as quickly as it did - I really wonder sometimes if all the clocks and the revolutions of the earth have been sped up!!!
Monday started as a normal day at the office until we had our staff meeting. At that time the President told us that he is beginning to plan for the 20 new missionaries that are coming in on September 15. We only have 5 missionaries going home.....so that leaves us with a positive of 15 missionaries and only 2 empty apartments. With two missionaries per apartment, that means we need to find at least 5 or 6 new apartments. We have a rather new housing coordinator and in took him the full week to find and negotiate the lease for one of those new apartments. He was feeling a little overwhelmed about mid-week and wondering how he was going to accomplish what is expected. He then spoke his favorite saying about problems/challenges. He said, "More opportunities to excel" I like that way of looking at it ;-)
We also started to train a new sister to handle referrals and supplies. She is very nice and positive and a very quick learner. Our biggest problem has been getting Salt Lake to respond and grant her permission to the referral program on the computer. We finally got desperate and had her use my log in information - we've had more referrals in the last two weeks than we have had for months!
And some people who are VERY interested in learning more about the gospel and the church.
I think it is finally starting to cool off a bit and the humidity/hear index has not been quite so bad. Of course, that doesn't mean that I have quite dripping perspiration- it just means I only have one or two bouts of dripping a day instead of 4 or 5 ;-)
I have noticed that fall is approaching as I watched the trees and plants change.
When we arrived at the office on Monday, I noticed that almost all of the little plants along the tree right in front of where we park had shoots with purple flowers and the shoots are growing taller! There were too many spiders for me to get a close up of how tiny the purple flowers are on that shoot - Tiny but so perfect!
The crepe myrtle tree by the door is still blooming beautifully and one of the locals said the other day that this has been an especially long blooming season for them. They are starting to come to the end of new blooms and form seed pods. If you look closely at the lower right and upper center of this picture you will see the little green seed ball breaking out of the pod. While watching the flowers and trees grow back here I've found that I have a deep interest in horticulture, but with my black thumb all I can do is admire from a distance :)
Another seed pod - forming on the tree that sits at the edge of the parking lot, directly in front of our apartment window. Before this drops off the tree it will turn rusty brown and get hard and spiky....something I wouldn't want to step on with my bare feet! In the background you can see another tree (I think it is some kind of maple tree based on the shape of the leaves, just starting to turn golden.
Another view of the tree with the round seed pods.....they look like little brown dots on the tree in this picture.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were "regular" days at the office.....nothing out of the ordinary going on but spurts of busy-ness when all three phone lines were ringing at once or when the mail came in and lots of bills needed to be paid. I spent some time trying to set up a new spreadsheet to track all these changes that are going on with apartments so I know which are new ones, which ones we are moving into, ones we are moving out of, ones we are waiting for security deposits to be returned and ones that need to have an application fee and security deposit paid. I usually have a couple of weeks of lead time for those types of things, but right now it is moving much faster than that! I also got a bit of a surprise when I received an email from one of the apartment complexes indicating that we owed $125 plumbing fee because the toilet was clogged - with a toilet brush stuck down in there up to the top of the handle. The only way it could be removed was to get a plumber with a special tool. Ahhhhhhhh, sometimes 18-20 year old missionaries don't think of consequences before they act. I will find out on Monday if the President is going to expect the missionaries (or their parents) to reimburse the mission for that expense as a learning experience to the young missionaries or if he will let it go. I'm glad he has to be the tough guy if he decides to make them pay for it because they only get $145 a month to live on and it would probably take the two of them about 3 months to get it paid off!
After a day of paying bills and trying to balance credit card accounts, I find it soothing to see the puffy clouds moving across the sky as we drive back to the apartment!
Thursday was a good day as I had the opportunity to go with the missionaries to teach 2 different people about Jesus Christ. In the morning I went with the Sister Missionaries to teach Ms. Sewell from Jamaica. I just LOVE her. She is here staying with her son and trying to pass the test for her American Citizenship. She is studying hard for that and we are praying that she will do well. When we arrived, she was sitting on the step fanning herself with a piece of paper. She had on a brown skirt, yellow sandals, a royal blue t-shirt and a bright turquoise kerchief on her head. She looked exactly like she had just stepped out onto the street in Kingston (where she is from). She has a beautiful smile and kept thanking the young Sister Missionaries for finding her and visiting her because she had been feeling so lonely and said she now feels joy and peace - especially when she sees them! What a sweet person she is! Her son and 3 grandchildren are coming from Detroit area this weekend and she is really excited to see them!
Thursday evening after a quick dinner we met the young Elder Missionaries and went with them to teach Mariah. I told her I have a granddaughter named Mariah but we call her Mimi.....she said people call her Riah. Her father recently joined the chuch in Florida and when she went to visit him, the Sister Missionaries stopped by and she started asking them questions so they sent a referral to the missionaries here... (small world story - the Elder who got the referral and whose area Mariah lives in, is a friend of the Sister Missionary in Florida who baptized Mariah's father). Mariah said she is loving the story she is reading in the Book of Mormon and had suddenly realized that she is feeling more happiness and peace than she ever has. Her husband is returning from deployment with the Navy this weekend and knows she has been studying the lessons....we'll see if he is interested. They are expecting a baby in January and she is really interested in Forever Families. We didn't arrive home until about 8 p.m. so I was tired from a long day, but it was a good tired.
This week each afternoon I noticed quite a few birds flying from tree to tree around the office windows and even a tiny little woodpecker on the tree right outside my window. I tried to capture pictures but they were much too fast but they looked like those pictured here.
The internet calls this Grey White bird. When it flies the inside of its wings are white and the tail spreads out and it white underneath.....pretty.
Also lots of these Blue Gray Tanagers----they are quite small and fly really fast so I could never even gt my phone out before they were gone!
This is called a Downy Woodpecker. The one that comes to the tree outside my window blends right in with the gray of the tree trunk and I hardly can see him until he moves around the tree and I see a tiny glint of red. It seems that he pecks about 3 times in one place and then moves around the tree to another place. So many fascinating things in nature!
I love that a number of places between our apartment and the office look very peaceful.....it kind of offsets the constant sirens that go off! The scene below is from the bridge we cross on our way to and from the office......can you say idyllic?
Trees in the Baptist Church yard with about 1/3 of the leaves already turning yellow.
Leaves on the vines beginning to turn orange
Lawns turning brown (we haven't had much rain in the last two weeks) and leaves on the tree turning orange. As I noticed the orange leaves the other day, I mentioned to Elder Ashton that I thought it was much too early to be getting fall colors in the leaves.....then all of a sudden I realized that it is nearly September already-----I can hardly believe that!!!
I do realize that each day seems to be filled and there is not much time for boredom. In fact, I've been trying to find time to get to the gym to workout on a regular basis but haven't been able to work that out yet. Soooooooo, this afternoon I did a workout right here in the apartment......
As you can see from the bandana tied around my head, my "workout" of ironing 6 white shirts left me as drenched in sweat as a workout at the gym would have......and now Elder Ashton has white shirts ironed and ready to get him through the next week.
We are still loving this time of service, and even though I miss family and friends and long to give and get hugs and hold new great grandchilden, I know I am where I should be. I have many blessings, the most important being my family who I hope to be with forever. Spending a little time away from loved ones is worth it if I can be helpful in bringing happiness and blessings to others......besides, I hear I am missing record heat in the Valley of the Sun ;-)