Can I just say I LOVE this time of year? - filled with busyness, peace, childhood memories, Christmas music, wrapped packages, the smell of homemade candy cooking on the stove and much more. All of that, along with sending missionaries home and getting new missionaries was worked into the previous 7 days - which FLEW by!
Last Sunday evening was spent wrapping more packages and getting 20 packages ready to go to the mail.....and anticipating reaction of grandkids and kids when they open the packages. While my fingers were occupied with that task, my mind was occupied with thoughts of the birth of the Savior and the incredible gift of his life! I'm so lucky to know that he loves me!
Monday it rained, and rained, and rained some more....all day long! Then it rained again in the night on Tuesday so we had lots of moisture in the air! The last 3 days have been clear and pushing 70 degrees. I had to give a little chuckle last evening when I saw that it was 68 here in Chesapeake and only 58 in Gilbert - that's a switch and I probably won't be chuckling in a few weeks when the cold and snow arrive :)
Monday we prepared to send 5 missionaries home. I believe this is the smallest group to depart since we arrived in the mission - so printing the boarding passes and paying the luggage fees was really easy for me this time......I like that once in awhile. The missionaries are taken to the airport about 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning and most of them are in the air and headed home by 9:30. The longer we are here and the more I get to know these young missionaries, the harder it is for me to see them go home. So glad for social media where we can keep somewhat in touch with lots of them. I feel like a proud grandma when I see them taking positive steps forward in their lives.
Nine new missionaries were picked up about 3 p.m. on Tuesday. We made the trip from Portsmouth over to the chapel in Norfolk to help with serving the meal to the missionaries, doing the clean-up after the meal and notifying the parents that they had arrived safely. It is very fun to hear how happy and relieved the parents are to know that their child has arrived safely. We pass lots of water on our way to the chapel and I tried to capture a few shots.
This is the first thing I noticed....as we were driving through the tunnel. Traffic was really backed up so we were going very slow and I noticed there were signs about every 20 feet with a running figure indicating how far one would have to run to get to either end of the tunnel. That kind of made me nervous that they had the warning signs up "just in case". This one was at about thew halfway mark. Yikes!
I liked the rustic look of this.....with the lone dock visible in the water.
If you look closely at the water in the foreground, you can see a few lily pads in the water. When the weather was warmer, the water was COVERED in lily pads but we were always in such a rush I couldn't get a picture. I guess there is something good to be said for a traffic back-up ;-)
I think this sign warns fishermen that they should fish only from the shore - but I mostly captured the picture because of the glassy water in the background which reflected the trees nicely.
We arrived at the church about 3:45 due to the traffic back-up and by the time we completed the set-up and rested for a couple of minutes before the new group arrived.
Interesting group this time - 7 Elders and only 2 Sisters. We sat at the table with 4 of the Elders and it was a good chance to get to know them just a little. We feed them lasagna, salad, bread sticks, and ice cream cake. If they leave with an empty tummy they have no one to blame but themselves.
We also celebrated by 29th birthday on Tuesday. I find it quite embarrassing to have the attention focused on me, but the two other ladies from the office and Sister Backer insisted that the missionaries sing happy birthday to me. I tried to be gracious and thanked them profusely for coming all the way from Utah to help me celebrate my 29th birthday - I heard a few muffled laughs at that as the new Elders tried to be polite and hide that they were not fooled into thinking I was 29 :)
Wednesday started out pretty busy in the office.....the new missionaries came in about 8:15 to get some training for the morning and were scheduled to meet with their new companions and get their area assignments in the transfer meeting at 10:15.
Sister Thomas - one of our Sister Missionaries here in Portsmouth is being transferred to Norfolk so we needed to get a picture with her before she departed. She's a cutie and I've gotten used to having her drop in the office and give me a hug at least once a week, so I will miss her.
President Baker checking out some of the new bicycles and bedding packs to make sure everything is ready to go for the new missionaries.
These three sisters were hanging around the office waiting for their car to get done...it was one that was taken in for a state inspection and the mechanic didn't seem to be in any hurry that day!
By the time Elder Ashton and I left the office at about 5:15 we were both dragging and it was almost all we could do to get home and eat a little something before reading the scriptures and calling it a good day! We have managed to find a little time to do a tiny bit of decorating in our apartment.
We got these cute stockings in the mail from our family members the other day. We even took time while we were home for lunch to hang them up......I wonder if Santa will find us back here in Virginia and fill them up for us?
Elder Ashton "personalized" his - just while I took this picture.
Our tiny little "live" tree. I'm going to have to find someone to give this tree a home and plant it when we get ready to go back to Arizona.
Late Friday afternoon as I sat in the office, I looked out the window and saw a beautiful sunset. By the time I found my phone and walked outside to try to get a better shot, the orange ball had dropped a bit below the trees but I still liked how the setting sun silhouetted the tree branches. I continue to marvel at the beauty that surrounds us on a regular basis and how unobservant we usually are to that beauty.
Every morning as we drive past this yard on our way to the office I get a little chuckle. I think this scene looks like Santa and the Snow Man won the war against the rest of the inflatable decorations.....they are the only ones still standing :)
Saturday was a BUSY day that we had been preparing for over the past few weeks. Each of the "senior" couples had an assignment to provide 20 mini loaves of sweet bread and an item for a pot luck lunch. Sister Goldade had ordered and received items for gift bags for each missionary. All the supplies, mini loaves and lunch (along with the "senior" missionaries were invited to show up at the mission home on Saturday morning. Then the fun began :)
The mission home was beautifully decorated and soft Christmas music was playing to get us in the spirit of the season. We set up 5 tables to hold the supplies (tissues, sticky notes, thank you cards, hand sanitizer, chap stick, pens, duck tape, greeting cards, and candy-the sweet bread and oranges will be added the day they are handed out) and we each grabbed gift bags and walked around filling them. We filled 200 bags in 30 minutes.....we "senior" missionaries formed a great assembly line!
Duck tape and hand sanitizer waiting to be bagged.
Made it home about 3 p.m. and had time to do some more loads of laundry and cook a batch of caramels (still waiting for cutting and wrapping) before we headed off to the Stake Christmas concert. The theme was Christmas around the world and it was a real treat. We heard traditional Christmas music, German, French, Italian, Russian, Kenyan and several other cultures Christmas music. Some of the songs were funny, some jazzy and made me tap my feet, and some very beautiful and spiritual. These songs were interspersed with Christmas stories and a couple of them made me blink my eyes quickly to keep the tears at bay. They also had a display of many different creches.
I really liked the drawing depicting Bethlehem in the background.
USA, France, and Thailand
Peru and USA
USA - Suffolk area - right around where the Stake Center is located
As I walked around the room and looked at the displays from various countries, a small voice whispered to me......."He really is the Savior of all the world". What a beautiful depiction of that was right there before my eyes.
We finished off the week today by going to church and then providing dinner for the young Sister Missionaries and one of the people they are teaching who joined us. His name if Gerald but he goes by Jerry and he is very interested in the concept of eternal families. Even though he doesn't look at all like my brother, because they have the commonality of shared names I felt a special place in my heart for him.
Our adventure here in Virginia continues to keep us busy and happy and we send our greetings to all - wishing you a healthy and happy Christmas Season!