Sunday, October 11, 2015

An Elfin Adventure

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Following all the rain the week of September 28 - October October 4, we have pretty much dried out. The ground is still a little spongy but not too bad.  However, when we arrived at the office on Monday morning, I noticed a brown paper bag on the lawn at the side of the parking lot.....but as I looked closer I decided maybe it wasn't a brown paper bag after all.   Elder Ashton and I walked over to inspect what it might be and it was this HUGE mushroom/toadstool that was literally the size of a brown paper lunch sack.   It was so large I was kind of surprised that there were no elves hanging out under it!

It stayed all week until the landscapers came on Thursday.....and I never did see any elf inhabitants :)

The week started out with a call from two young Sister Missionaries last Sunday telling Elder Ashton that they had been in an accident.   They were making a left turn onto a street and there was a large vehicle in the left turn lane on the other side of the intersection.....they thought it was clear but as they pulled out they met up with another car.   All the airbags deployed and Elder Ashton said he thinks both vehicles are totaled.   Since all 78 cars are currently assigned to missionaries, when one is down that poses somewhat of a problem.   Generally the missionaries would walk or ride bikes, but the sister who was driving at the time of the accident is no longer allowed to drive and the other sister didn't have all her driving paperwork turned in.   So, they tried biking for a day, but the "other" sister (the one who didn't have her paperwork turned in) has hip joint problems so she can't ride a bike around all day.   That set of events precipitated working with her parents in Utah to get the paperwork and switching cars around from other missionaries to get them a car....took a couple of days to get that all straightened out.  Thank goodness neither missionary or the other driver were injured badly.

To add another level of complexity to the situation, now that the cars all have "tattle-tale" boxes, that box needed to be removed from the totaled car and it was over in Virginia Beach about 25 miles away.   Aaannnnd, he got a call on Wednesday morning that 3 new cars had arrived at the Toyota dealership so he needs to decide which are the highest mileage cars and make arrangements to get them here to Portsmouth at the same time the new ones are ready to go so the "Tattle-tale" can be removed from the old car and put in the new one.   Kind of a scheduling challenge!

As the week flew by, I realized more and more that fall is upon us and that it will soon be winter/Christmas time.   Guess I better start thinking about that - especially my favorite gift to give - the Spiritual Christmas Eve Gift.   I have a few ideas but nothing is finalized and I don't have much spare time to work on it so it is decision time!

This tree is in our parking lot and every day it appears a little more least from a distance.   When I get up close to it I can tell that leaves are turning sort of orange and those nestled among the still green leaves makes the tree look almost pink.

 A close-up of another tree in our parking lot just as it was starting to bloom last Spring. 

This is the same tree from about the same angle - picture taken today.   All those pink/white blossoms turned to little red berries that really stand out now that the leaves are turning yellow and starting to fall!

This picture was taken last Spring of the pear trees in bloom.   The trees grow almost like weeds out here and don't produce an edible fruit but the fluffy white blossoms are gorgeous.   

This is what those same trees look like now - with hundreds of "pears" falling on the ground and most of those producing baby trees.   Now I see why the locals consider them like weeds!

On Friday morning Elder Ashton finally got all the driving paperwork for the young Sister Missionary so made arrangements with the Elder in another Senior Couple Missionary set to get a car to those Sisters at their district meeting that morning.   Elder Ashton needed to take a debit card for gasoline to some Elders over in Norfolk, get the "tattle-tale" box out of the wrecked car in Virginia beach and deliver a card for the "Tattle-tale" box to the Sister that is newly certified to drive.   I needed to make a visit to an apartment complex that has not sent a utility bill for two months but has been leaving late notices on the apartment door of the young missionaries.   I had sent 4 e-mails and had 3 phone conversations without resolution so decided to have a personal meeting with the apartment management and since the complex is located in Virginia Beach, I decided to go along with Elder Ashton.  I was able to meet with the management and get the problem worked out and Elder Ashton accomplished his tasks so we headed back to the office.   Before we arrived back there Elder Ashton got another call from the Toyota dealership that the cars could be picked up that afternoon, so he called the Assistants to the President to see if they would be available to help drive the cars back and they said they could help us about 2 p.m.  As we started out to pick up the cars, because I was driving and I get lost easily back here, I called On-Star to help navigate us the 20 miles to the dealership.   The navigation system was telling us where to go when Elder Ashton's phone rang and it was those young Sister Missionaries calling with problems with the car.   They had called just before we left the office to say that the "tattle-tale" yelled at them that they were revving the engine too much so he told them to call the company and they would fix the software in the box.  Now they were calling say that something was very wrong with the car.   The engine was really revving up and the car wouldn't go very fast at all.  Elder Ashton couldn't hear her very well because the navigation system was talking at the same time and I could sort of hear her .....

So I asked her what gear she had the car in....did she have it in "D" or "M".   We could hear them talking about it in the background, then they said,  "We are going to try and see if it works any better now."   I waited a couple of minutes and said,  "is it working better now?"   "Yes!" was the reply :)   They had it in "M" funny!
I told Elder Ashton and the Assistants to the President that maybe they should make me the new fleet coordinator since I was the one to diagnose the problem :)

Saturday after a few loads of laundry I decided it was time to go grocery shopping.  I tried to get hold of Elder Ashton who was out riding his bike, but I couldn't get him to answer his phone so I decided to go to the store without him.   While I was driving to the store my phone rang and it was Elder Ashton.   I asked him where he was and he said, "I am in the back of a patrol car."   Well, my mind immediately started spinning.....did he have a crash and get hurt, did he get lost, or did he get "arrested" for something else?   All this time the theme song from "Cops" was running through my mind, "Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do when they come for you?"   About that time Elder Ashton said the law enforcement officer was giving him a ride because he thought the road Elder Ashton was riding on was too dangerous.....wish I had a picture of him sitting in the back of the patrol car - I could use it for blackmail ;-)   By the time I got back from grocery shopping he was home and we decided to take a short trip over to Hampton to see a historic church in Hampton.  It was originally founded in 1610 as the Elizabeth City Parish and has been in 4 different locations but is currently located at the fourth site since 1728.  The church is called St. Johns Episcopal Church.   It was a very interesting and well-kept old building - it has over 3000 graves surrounding it - some from the 1700's.   The sexton unlocked the building and let us go inside and look around, then let us go in the Parish Hall to look at it also.  Very interesting!

Pretty hanging baskets along the street near the church in Hampton

Nice welcome sign out front

Historic information about the church

I liked how the trees formed an arch around the arched doorway....and the pinkish color of the trees at this time of year.....the color of the trees looks like it was chosen to complement the brickwork of the walkway and the church.

Another one of the trees and some of the gravestones.

The alter and some beautiful stained glass windows.

Plaque memorializing five generations who worshiped at the church.

Another beautiful stained glass window.

Lovely pipe organ with a beautiful sound.   The organist for the congregation happened to be there practicing for the services for Sunday while we were looking around.

The oldest headstone - 1701!

A monument to the confederate dead who are buried there.   The small gray square cross to the left of the monument denotes a confederate grave.   There are a large number of those markers located throughout the cemetery portion of the church yard.

More gravestones looking towards the Parish Hall.

A different view of the church 

I found these plaques that listed those who fought in the war of 1812 and were interred in this cemetery

This one listed founders of Virginia and Revolutionary War Patriots that are buried here.

The two pictures above are the of the courthouse.   In the top picture you can see the old portion of the building with the rotunda.   The lower picture shows the addition that was added later.

As we were driving around trying to find someplace to get lunch in historic Hampton, I noticed this Wandering Jew plant with flowers......I've never seen one flowering before so had to get a picture of it!

These two cutie's came to dinner at our house today.   I fixed roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green beans and green jello salad.    They were both so excited when they came in and saw the salad.   They said, "Yea, Mormon Jello."  I haven't had any of that since I've been out on my mission....and they ate all of it except for the two helpings Elder Ashton and I had.
We think the blondie on the right of the picture looks alot like our grandson Brock's wife Mary....and her personality is sweet like Mary's too!

We are enjoying the cooler temperatures, dryer weather and beautiful, colorful leaves of October here in Virginia right now!


  1. It's been a few weeks since I've been able to catch up on your blog. Fall is so gorgeous in that part of the country. Hope you love every bit of it! You two are amazing with managing all the detailish details of the cars and apartments. The mission president wants you to go home NEVER! We miss you, though, and are excited that the months are marching on. Enjoy all of October!!

  2. Love the pictures of the church and the cemetery. We have many like that here with the graveyard attached. Our missionaries drive much safer with their tiwi's. They don't want to lose their driving privileges. And with a wonderful vehicle coordinator he has reduced incidents' dramatically. Glad you survived all that rain. Luckily the hurricane did not come ashore. We have been blessed with no tornadoes, just a couple of alerts. Aren't missions wonderful!