Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Seaside Adventure to Celebrate our "Anniversary"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

We spent part of the weekend on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (more about that later in this blog) to celebrate our upcoming 1 year anniversary of leaving on this excellent adventure.   On this coming Tuesday it will be exactly 1 year since we entered the Missionary Training Center.   I had no idea what to expect and must say that this experience has been GREAT!!!  I have learned many things and seen many things I never expected to see.   I've found lots of new friends and even catch myself once in awhile getting ready to say "y'all" :)   What a wonderful year we have had!

This past week was no exception to others we have experienced here.   We had heat, sunshine, cold, wind, and even a little rain - all in one week.   I remember when we first arrived last year, the mission secretary said, "You are in Virginia now.   If you don't like the weather wait about 10 minutes and it will change."   That has proven to be true in many instances.

Monday afternoon when we arrived back at the apartment, I told Elder Ashton that I needed to go out and make a Charitable Contribution to Society.   He looked at me askance as if I had lost my mind.   It wasn't until Tuesday following a day at the office that I was able to make that contribution and it turned out to be a $30 contribution to replace makeup that I was completely out of.....I think society is better off if they don't have to see me without makeup:)  I ended up having to shop in two different places but was finally able to find makeup similar to what I have used while living in Arizona.  Hope "society" appreciates the charitable contribution.

We are really getting a show of color here now.   As we returned to the apartment on Monday evening, I noticed this tree that was beginning to show some bright red leaves among the green.

The red/green tree

A single branch with only red leaves.
Each morning as we open the door to our apartment we are greeted with this beautiful sight!

It has taken about 3 1/2 weeks for this tree to go from mostly green to this gorgeous display of color.   Every morning it brings a smile to my face when I think of the beauty of this world - in all its diversity!

I walked under the tree and found a few green leaves remaining, but am still awed at the beauty.

On Thursday afternoon we returned to the apartment by a different route and crossed the Elizabeth River in a different place......but I still find the flowing river and the large houses that sit beside bring a peace to me.   It was a beautiful afternoon and even though this picture doesn't do it justice, the scene seemed very peaceful to me.
Friday morning was district meeting in our building and as we are getting ready to send 10 missionaries home on Tuesday and change areas for others, I asked them if I could get a picture of the group (there are 3 extra Elders in the picture who were visiting our district and there's one "old" elder on the end). Just as I pushed the button to take the picture, Elder Reed decided he wanted a picture with his camera and most everyone started laughing.....

  So we tried again :)  Sure have grown to love these missionaries and hate to see some of them go!

Friday late afternoon we left to drive over to the Eastern Shore to have a celebratory weekend.   Elder Ashton had signed up to ride in a bike tour for charity over there -The proceeds from all the entries will go to the Historical Society to help preserve the history of the area.   The Eastern Shore is a little over 75 miles away and we had to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel....17 miles of combined bridges and tunnels.

A few white caps as we start across the bridge with some of Norfolk showing in the background.

Approaching the first tunnel

Approaching the opposite (Eastern) shore

As we approached the Eastern Shore, I looked very hard to spot the Cape Charles Lighthouse. If you look very closely, you can see it in this picture.   The original Cape Charles Lighthouse was built with $10,000 provided by Congress in 1826 to build a lighthouse to protect the northern side of the bay.   The final cost for that first lighthouse was $7399 and was lit with 15 lamps.   Later Congress decided the light needed to be brighter and there were problems with beach erosion so a second lighthouse was started in a different location but was not completed by the time the Civil War broke out in 1861 and the area was taken by Confederate troops.  Finally, the Union recovered the land later in 1861 and the lighthouse construction was begun again but was only about half the needed height when fighting became fierce again and the supplies to complete the lighthouse were stored for later use.   During the fighting, the second lighthouse was completed and placed in operation in 1864 but again suffered from beach erosion.  So a 3rd lighthouse of a different design that would better withstand the weather was built 1.25 miles away on the marshy island and began operation in 1895.  Only the lighting has been changed in this lighthouse.....the current structure is the same as that which began operation more than 100 years ago.  This lighthouse is 191 feet tall and the second tallest in the U.S. 

Since the operating lighthouse is too difficult to reach (requires a trip across open water), the town has painted the water tower to look like a replica of the lighthouse.

When we arrived in Cape Charles, the sun was just setting.....we decided to eat dinner at the "Oyster Farm" and were able to capture the beautiful sunset.

What a way to spend an evening!

I think the residents of these houses must get to enjoy beautiful sunsets on a regular basis.

After dinner we drove a little further up the peninsula to Exmore and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express.   There were a number of cars in the parking lot with bicycles on racks and we learned at breakfast the next morning that Elder Ashton would not be the oldest person riding in the Charity bicycle ride.   He met a man who was 83 years old who planned to ride 25 miles.  Elder Ashton registered to ride 60 miles!

Elder Ashton stowing his apple and banana as he prepares to ride

Ready to go!

Some of the 900+ riders  following registration in the restored historical building which now functions as a Civic Center.

Elder Ashton said their was a lot of variety in the riders from young to not so young, mothers with children, children riding their own bikes with their parents, retired couples riding tandem bikes, young couples each riding their own bikes, etc.   He also said he saw bikes from discount stores and bikes that cost a few thousand $ more than his cost!   We could not have asked for better weather - it was in the mid to high 60's with a nice ocean breeze.   Elder Ashton expected to be gone about six hours so I began to explore the historic town.

I started out finding the two interesting flora examples above.

I loved this restored home with the fall decorations

Love the columns and the wide surrounding porch

A restored home turned into a B&B with beautiful fall decorations

I liked the color combination on this restored home

Loved this restored building turned into apartments with balconies.
Another well restored home - love the lavender door.

At the beachfront park I learned that the Chesapeake Bay was formed by a meteor that struck in this area 35 million years ago and the resulting Tsunami left behind the myriad rivers that flow off the bay.   I am finding it very interesting to learn more about this part of the country and its history and how it all relates to that story of John Rolfe and Pocaho
ntus that I learned about a loooooooonng time ago in middle and high school.

Also found "LOVE"  (going along with the theme "Virginia is for Lovers" spelled out in objects that relate to the Eastern Shore - oyster shells, Large tire for the commercial ventures in the area, kayaks, and other things grown in the area.   We passed several fields of soy beans and of cotton.

I spent most of the morning people and bird watching along the beach while listening to the soft lapping of the waves.   Can you spot the wading seagulls?   They were funny to watch as they waded in the water :)

Beautiful pink flowers......maybe Azaleas but I thought those were only in the spring?

Interesting "flower" with a purple leaf

Two nicely restored homes.   As I drove and walked around town I noticed that a large percentage of the homes have historic value and many of them have already been restored or are currently undergoing renovation.

I loved this tree of various colors along with the dead wood in front of this well-kept house and yard.   I never see trees this colorful in Arizona.

I was drawn to this tree that was mostly just gnarled branches - I thought it had a lot of character and made me think about how some of our bodies become gnarled as we age and how much character those individuals have who struggle with some of the ravages of aging.

Although this marker indicates that the town was formed in 1884 there were settlers here much before that- in fact the volunteer in the museum indicated that John Rolfe and Pocahontus grew some crops in this area.....that the tribe had lots of land and some of the land on the Eastern shore was given to them by Powhatan.

This is one of the displays in the museum.   Do you recognize any of the items?

I really liked this bed of flowers outside the museum door - the daisies made me think of my daughters-in-law.

About 2:15 pm my phone rang and it was Elder Ashton telling me he was back at the Civic Center and ready to be picked up.  

Here he is after riding 50+ miles - took a little short cut because he didn't think he could make it the full sixty miles.  Elder Ashton was a little disappointed that he had to stop short of his goal, but I reminded him that he should be glad that he was able to ride over 50 miles in that short amount of time AND stop to take pictures of gravestones in a small cemetery.   I think he just wants to be able to do the things he did when he was 25 - don't we all ;-D

This morning we took Miss Sewell to church with us again.   It was the Primary Program and she fell in love  with all the kids and the parts they said and the songs they sang.   She said the children just "went into my heart".   She is such a sweet lady and we are all crossing our fingers and praying that she will pass the next test she has to gain her citizenship.   

What a wonderful 1 year celebration adventure.  How lucky I am to have this opportunity to meet and love new people.  Happy Autumn!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Week of Kinda "Spooky" Adventures

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Last Monday morning started off normally with Elder Ashton meeting about 7 or 8 young Elders at 5 a.m. for an early morning bike ride.   He loves the ride AND their company and they seem to like it too.   I usually sleep in till about 7 to take advantage of the last few hours of the weekend before a new week of busyness starts.    And that is exactly what I was doing on last Monday morning when I was startled awake by my phone ringing at 7:05 (must have slept right through the alarm)!   Elder Ashton didn't even say "good morning" or anything, but just said, "We've had an accident and I need you to get in the truck and come pick us up.  HURRY!"   Now that got my hear racing nice and fast.   I told him it would be a few minutes because I needed to get some clothes on and asked where they were.   He told me to go straight out the main road and again said, "HURRY".   So, I jumped out of bed and pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt and headed out the door without even brushing my hair!  I found the entire group of riders about 5 or 6 miles out of town, and this is what I saw when I drove of the young Elders (one of the Assistants to the President that works in this area and comes to our house for dinner once a month) on the ground bleeding and surrounded by other missionaries, including Elder Ashton.

I learned that he hit a pot-hole and that made him crash, then Elder Ashton tried to stop quickly to help him and couldn't unclip his shoes from the bike pedal so he went down.   This young Elder was more worried about Elder Ashton than he was about himself so he tried to get up to check on Elder Ashton (who was uninjured) and passed out and fell hitting his head on the pavement.   We got he and his companion and their bikes loaded into the truck and headed to urgent care while Elder Ashton rode the rest of the way into town with the other Elders.   We stopped by the parking lot at our apartment so he could get his wallet and I started to laugh and tell them they would really have stories to tell their buddies about this old lady missionary who came to their rescue with no make-up and a bad case of bed head! Elder Ashton arrived at Urgent Care before they took him back to examine him so I came back to the apartment for 20 minutes to get dressed and fix my face and when I arrived back at Urgent Care they were just coming out of the examination area saying they had been directed to take him to the hospital so he could get a CT scan to check for a closed head injury.   So, off we went again with me (Sister Ashton) as the chauffeur.  The Elder kept apologizing and telling me he was so sorry that he was interrupting my day and putting me through all that, and I quickly assured him this was not the first time I took a young man to the hospital after some kind of accident - told him I got plenty of practice with that with my own 5 boys!  After they took him back to the treatment area at the ER, the receptionist started a conversation and asked me if I was the mom.   I explained that I was not......just the surrogate grandma and then she asked about our missionary badges so I explained to her a little bit about what we and the younger missionaries do.  About an hour later, he was all stitched up and ready to go.  
We dropped Elder Ashton off at the apartment to get cleaned up and then I dropped the Elders off at their apartment with surrogate grandma instructions to rest (I don't think they followed those instructions very well) then went back to pick up Elder Ashton and pick up some ice packs and then to the office.   We arrived at the office shortly after 11 a.m. and I felt like I had worked an entire day instead of just 4 hours!

PS - he had a headache for several days but when I saw him on Friday he seemed to be feeling better and was going around the office asking if anyone would be willing to take his stitches out....Elder Ashton took a look and told him they needed to stay in a few more days.

Tuesday - started off like a normal day taking care of details at the office.   About 8:45 the phone rang and it was one of the Elders serving in the Nags Head area.  He said, "We have a possum in our basement and don't know how to get it out!"  The sister who answered the phone suggested they call Animal Control and they agreed but called back shortly and said that Animal Control would only deal with domesticated animals.   In a very no nonsense tone she said, "Call them back and tell them it is your pet possum.".......long pause and then she started laughing.   The Elder over housing was finally able to locate a pest control person in that area who was willing to try to get the possum out, and he finally delivered a trap to the Elders on Wednesday evening.   As of Thursday evening the trap was empty and no one had seen the possum that day.....hmmmmm, it's pretty bad when you get outstmarted by a possum.   Sure am glad I haven't run onto one of these - I would be screaming loudly!

Wednesday was the day I had set aside to pay the rent for all the apartments/houses.   Housing has been in a state of flux for the last 2 months and we have a new Elder who is handling that.   He is of military background and still very much governed by chain of command so getting information from him about changing leases, etc. has been a very difficult thing.   I have talked with him about 5 times and reminded him that I need all information on housing PRIOR TO the 15th of each month so I can pay the appropriate amount of rent.  I spent 4.5 hours on Wednesday validated rent amounts and houses and verifying which ones were still occupied with the housing Elder and finally processed the payments for 95 residences that afternoon.  About 2 hours later I came back from a brief break to find a form on my chair with a new lease and NEW RENT AMOUNT - after I had already processed the rent.   I could feel my ire rising when he came to ask me if I found the form and quickly counted to 10 and reminded myself, "Sister Ashton, you should not get angry about this.   Just process a second check for the difference in rent."  So, after a deep breath or two, I responded and said I would need to process a second check for the difference and asked him again if he would please make sure he has all housing information to me BEFORE the 15th - to which he replied, "it is the afternoon of the 14th".   Thank goodness my granddaughter Lauren introduced me to adult coloring which is said to manage stress so Wednesday night I came home and practiced some adult coloring :)

If you look closely you can see that I have been practicing quite a bit of stress management - so much that I have developed a pencil bump where I hold the pencil.   I distinctly remember my accountant brother, Jerry, always had a pencil bump......sure do miss him!  

Thursday was rather uneventful - except I stayed at the office until 5:30.   About 3:45 Elder Ashton got a call from some Sister Missionaries that they had a flat tire and didn't have the right tool to take the caps off the lug nuts.   Since they weren't too far away Elder Ashton told them he would come help them and I started gathering my stuff up thinking we would just go home from there, but when I turned around he was already out the door.   I called to him out the window and he assured me he wouldn't be gone long......but he had a hard time figuring it out and FINALLY got the owners manual out to learn what needed to be done, therefore, he arrived back at the office to pick me up at 5:30.   He got put in the doghouse for about 30 minutes for that one ;-D

Since it was such an eventful week, I was feeling a bit tired by Friday and thought I might stay home that afternoon but then I remembered that I had promised I would go out with the Sister Missionaries. We went to see Miss Sewell (from Jamaica) and she was so excited when we got there she couldn't wait to tell us that she has an appointment with Immigration to take the second part of her citizenship test in early November.   She is excited about that but also a little worried that she won't be able to remember everything, but she is praying that Heavenly Father will help her have a clear mind.   Then we went back to the office, picked up Elder Ashton and went to visit another investigator named Derrick.  He informed us that he had a disagreement with his landlord and would be moving in about 3 weeks, probably to Atlanta, Georgia.  Don't know if he will continue to learn about the church after he moves or not.

We are still seeing sign of fall approaching and the weather has been great except for Friday when it drizzled all day.   I'm really enjoying the fall colors here.

I have a clear view of this red tree at the edge of the parking lot from the office window and sometimes find myself just staring at it and thinking how pretty it is.

When we came home Friday evening I noticed this bright tree peaking out from the buildings just behind ours...

..and walking back to take the picture I passed this area under the pine trees where there are lots of cones - anyone up for making pine cone wreaths?

Saturday morning when Elder Ashton returned from his bike ride, I suggested we drive back down to Edenton, North Carolina where we had noticed a number of smaller cemeteries a few months ago and I could enjoy the historical homes and he could take pictures in the cemeteries.   He readily agreed so
  we headed out about 10:30 for an adventure.

On the way down, we noticed a small cemetery with about 20 graves in it so we stopped and Elder Ashton bounded out of the truck ready to take pictures only to discover that he left his phone at home.   He finally got the Billion Graves Ap loaded to my phone and was able to take the pictures but that put a halt to our plans to have him take pictures of graves while I looked at historic buildings.   Somehow we managed to wander around town for a few hours and he got a few pictures from different cemeteries and I got a few pictures of historic buildings.

Trees growing out of the water - something I don't remember ever seeing in Arizona.   I liked this line of trees standing in the water.

Looking across the sound to homes on the other side

Canoes on the sound

This was my favorite picture of the sound...,..the trees, and the Cypress knees.

Bank of Edenton on the main drag through town.   Notice the ornate carving at the top of the columns and the two US flags.

Two different views of the Cupola House in Edenton.  It was build in 1758 and is considered the finest wooden example of Jacobean Architecture in the south.

One of the older homes currently under renovation

The Josephine O'Leary Building on the main drag that was build in 1894 and now houses the newspaper office.   The whole block consisted of buildings constructed in 1894 and now housing various smaller businesses.

Two historic homes that have already been restored.....

And one waiting for some restoration and TLC

Another beautifully restored home - and its resident

I liked the colonial flag on this restored home and especially like the reflection of the flag on the home across the street.

One of the historic churches where Elder Ashton was able to take pictures for Billion Graves.

St Anne's church where he took more pictures of headstones for Billion Graves

Edenton is a town about 70 miles south of here - in North Carolina and it sits on the Albermarle Sound.   It was established in 1712 - but the site of the town was first discovered in 1658 when adventurers from Jamestown were exploring.   In 1774 several of the women living in Edenton stages a boycott on buying tea and that has now become known as the Edenton Tea Party.

Just as we were getting ready to leave town, Elder Ashton spotted two large headstones in a little yard and stopped to take pictures.  I was distracted by some people watching and when I turned to look at him he was flat on the ground and attempting to get up.   He finally made it back to his feet and returned to the truck saying that he tried to get up close to see if he could read the marker and ended up with his leg in the grave (where it had caved in near the marker) up to mid thigh.   He was limping around for awhile but seems to have escaped his escapade with the graveyard relatively unscathed.

As we left town I noticed this abandoned building on the edge of town - almost looks like a haunted house and I thought that was a fitting ending to our "spooky adventures"  :)

Still loving our service and gearing up for another influx of new missionaries.   Elder Ashton has four new cars that need to go out at the same time so that should add to the fun (AKA chaos) of that week!

Happy mid October!