Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Beach Town Adventure

Sunday, January 31, 2016

YIKES - 2016 is already 1/12 over - I can hardly believe that a full month has passed since we all rang in this New Year - seems like that was only a couple of weeks ago.   And even though it is still January, I think our weather is quite confused about whether or not it is still winter.

Some days and nights there is a real bite in the air!  In fact, it was quite chilly as we left the apartment to go to the office on Monday, January 25.

I liked this frost pattern on the door post on the pickup - Mother Nature knows how to create some beautiful things in the most common places.

Delicate ice crystals on the door handle.

The ice melted quickly as we prepared for the arrival in the office of Elder and Sister Rands.   We had about 1.5 hours of training with them before the President and Sister Baker arrived for our meeting and just a few minutes following the meeting.   It was then lunch time and the Rands needed to find a Fed Ex store to ship something back.  They arrived back at the office having been unsuccessful in finding the Fed Ex store (wow - I so remember feeling COMPLETELY lost when we first arrived here -  Now that I've been here for 14 months, I only feel 75% lost ;-D )  After a bit more training and Elder Ashton not being able to proceed with some of his "new car" training for Elder Rands because the cars were not yet ready to be picked up, the Rands headed back to Hampton in hopes of having better luck of finding a Fed Ex store over there.

On the way home a little after 5 p.m., I asked Elder Ashton to drop me off on the Portsmouth side of the bridge so I could take a couple of pictures of the renovations they are making on my favorite property back here.   What an adventure!!!   The headwind was extremely strong and I couldn't walk the bridge and I had only taken one picture before I passed Elder Ashton coming looking for me.   When he saw that I was still upright, he went back and parked to wait for me :)

I came upon this ivy like vine, trying to survive in the cold and snow and making it's way up the railroad tie retaining wall.    I think there are times in our lives when we feel like this tiny vine - trying our best to climb to the top but hampered by unexpected things in life - the equivalent of cold and snow- but we need to keep climbing because we will eventually reach the top just as this little vine has done.

If you look closely at the house in the background of this picture, you can see that they are adding a portico on the side of the house facing the river.   What a beautiful site they will have when the portico is finished and they can sit, and rock, and watch the river go by :)

As I was walking by, I noticed another scene that brought to mind a life lesson.   These ducks are all trapped at one end of the pond by the ice that has formed and seem to be trying to find a way around it.   Are we ever trapped in our lives by ice that has formed in our hearts when we lose our way or turn away from what we know is right?

Tuesday was a regular office day AND the sun decided to try to shine that day so all of us working in the office went around with big smiles on our faces that day :)

Wednesday the Rands came to the office for more training and we covered a few more areas of financials and started to get ready for the upcoming annual audit which will occur on Wednesday, February 3rd.  I had received 15 small amount checks from the electric company due to a decision made by the corporation commission that they had overcharged for electricity in 2013 and 2014.  It took Sister Rands and I about 2 hours to get all those checks receipted and recorded appropriately so we could deposit the money at the bank.   A tedious exercise but a great learning experience for her and me - I have never had a large group of checks arrive all at once.

It was cold again as we left our apartment on Thursday morning....and once again Mother Nature had left a beautiful display.

If you look closely you can see the lacy frost pattern on the windshield, partially blotting out the tree.
Today (Sunday) as we were talking in Sunday School about all things indicating there is a God, I thought again of the beautiful and unique displays that I had witnessed this week.  It makes me smile as I see the beauty :)

Friday started out as a rather quiet least until the mailman arrived with 25 utility bills.   I was just finishing the processing of those and Elder Rands had just arrived to go with Elder Ashton to pick up new cars, when the Sister Missionaries stopped in the office to ask if I could go with them to an appointment of a less active man.   I went and it was a very pleasant experience.   The guy is not ready to come back to church yet but is starting to think about it and he was a very kind and happy man, especially considering that he is alone, with no family around.   I think I would have a hard time being as happy as he is if I wasn't blessed with such a great and loving family!

By the time I arrived back at the office, I had 3 messages waiting for me, Elder Ashton and Elder Rands were still gone and the phone was ringing almost constantly with only me to answer it.   I felt like I was trying to juggle balls and any of my family that have seen me attempt something like that knows that I fail miserably and drop every ball.....that almost what all the phone calls felt like ;-)

Since we have been sticking rather close to home for a few weekends, we decided to go "play" a bit over in Virginia Beach.   We were expecting the weather to be pretty nice, so after a couple of loads of laundry and grocery shopping, we headed out the door to explore.  

First stop, Francis Land House in Virginia Beach - circa 1805-1819
Francis land was a wealthy plantation owner and had grown tobacco which wore out the soil.  He then started raising grains, corn, oats, wheat, etc.

Our guide told us that the reason the mortar is different around the windows is because the windows were replaced and made a little larger so it would be lighter in the house to accommodate the tours.

I liked this flower (I think it is a crocus) trying to brave the cold wind.

This bush with no leaves and just a few berries reminded me of the story told by Hugh B Brown - "I'm the gardener here.'

I liked this large tree silhouetted against the bright blue sky as we made our way around the end of the house to enter.  

The end of the house....with one of the chimneys.   This house had two chimneys and the entire house was heated with fireplaces.....must have been some fancy duct work that carried all that smoke away!

As we were walking around the house to enter, I stopped to take a picture of the trunk of this tree.....I find the different types of tree bark back here very interesting....and our tour guide said, "This is our granddaughter tree."   I didn't quite understand that until she pointed to the other side of the yard and said, "That's the grandma tree - and she is 300+ years old."

Quite an imposing tree.   I mentioned to Elder Ashton today that I noticed the "grandma tree" was more white and he said, "Hmmm, guess it's like humans white hair."

You can see the trunk is still gray, but most of the limbs are white.   If it had been warmer yesterday I probably would have spent a few minutes just staring at this try and the different twists and turns in the branches, but the wind was really blowing and I was FREEZING!
These are Sycamore trees.

The front walk - square cut bricks.  I thought the scalloped shingles were interesting as was the "fan" of bricks over the door and windows.  This picture shows that the steps are different than the first picture.   Apparently the steps gave out and were just recently replaced - they are much less ornamental than the first picture shows.

Inside the house

The painted canvas "carpet" in the walkthrough (entry/exit) to the house.   This was recycled canvas ship sails painted to look like faux marble and was laid down over the hardwood floors in the places where there was the most traffic to preserve the wood.   It was quite interesting to look at and even felt a little softer than the hardwood underneath (I don't know how many layers of canvas were used)

A framed hand drawn map of the Chesapeake bay area hangs in the entry/exit.

An embellished fireplace mantle and gilt mirror hang in the parlor.   The little table on the right is a little sewing table....the green silk "bag" underneath held fabric and the drawers held notions, e.g., thread, buttons, needles, scissors, etc.

This is an upholstered settee from that era.   Many of the settees were not upholstered but research has indicated that the one in the parlor of this house was.

Square brick floor in the basement of the home.   The basement was pretty much just a crawl space under the house until the 1930-1040 era when it was dug out.

It was dug out and you can see the gray mortar where this column was repaired.

Next stop - The Beach

There were a few brave souls at the edge of the water but not many....the wind was too cold.   A few of the white spots you see are waves kicking up, but most of them are seagulls flying along the water looking for something to eat :)
After snapping a couple of pictures and ran back to the truck.   By this time we were hungry too and spent the next hour trying to find someplace to eat.   We were sure we would find something along the beach, but over 90% of the places were closed for the season.   We finally ate at Neptunes which was part of one of the 100 or so hotels strung out along the beach.   I think Elder Ashton was a little disappointed because the name would lead you to believe it would be a seafood restaurant but it wasn't.   Plain old American food - which I was 100% OK with.

Next Stop - Atlantic Wildfowl Museum - housed in the DeWitt Cottage

This is the DeWitt Cottage as it appears today.   This houses the museum dedicated to preserving the history of water fowl in the region.

I found it interesting that this building was the first brick building built at the waterfront and was built by the mayor of Virginia Beach in 1895.   In 1909, Cornelius DeWitt bought the house and moved his family there.....the "Cottage" had 22 rooms so it was large enough for DeWitt and his family, consisting of his wife and 10 children.

The Woodcarver
This man sat in a little room off to the side and spends his days carving water fowl, large and small.  You can see that he has various projects in different phases of completion.   As we chatted with him for a few minutes he was working with some of the smaller pieces of wood, said he like to make the smaller birds because they are easier for the kids to hold.

This pelican looked quite realistic to me.

I really liked all the details in this wooden model

Another view of the model

Still another view of the model

Do you notice the carved wooden water fowl in the display cases and along the shelves?

More carvings....finished in great detail.   Some of the carvings had actual feathers attached and I kept looking at this one trying to figure it out, but wasn't able to determine if there are any real feathers on this. 

Another one with a great deal of detail.   Do you notice the baby on the back of the adult?   How about the fish in the mouth of the adult?

By the time we were ready to leave, the sky was still very blue but the wind was still kicking up so we still didn't walk down into the sand.....maybe another time :)

Now that Elder and Sister Rands are here and we are beginning to train them, the reality of how fast our time here is passing is really setting in......seems the weeks just go flying by and I am beginning to decide which things to leave behind (like skirts I am sick of wearing) and what to take with me.   I know for a fact that I will be leaving a part of my heart behind with the great people I have had opportunity to know and work with here in Virginia!

Happy February - I'm thinking spring is just around the corner :)


Sunday, January 24, 2016

A "Cancelled" Adventure

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Some of you may have heard or seen announcements that the East Coast is closed this weekend due to snow......I must say this past week did turn out to be very interesting with more cancellations that usual....Let me tell you how it went.

Monday started out with staff meeting and the President telling us to get ready for a BUSY week.  When he starts a staff meeting like that, I know I need to have pen in hand to write down the schedule because there is no way I will remember it unless it is written down.   Monday would be farewell dinner for the 9 missionaries leaving for home on Tuesday, Tuesday would be 13 new missionaries arriving and dinner for them, Wednesday would be regular transfer meeting PLUS a 2 hour video training from the general missionary department of the church then making sure all the missionaries got to the correct places with all their luggage, etc.  We expected a new missionary couple to arrive on Thursday and we already knew a storm was predicted.   Ready, set, GO!

Monday went fairly smooth with the Assistants to the President going to North Carolina to pick up a few missionaries that would be going home and attend the farewell dinner at the mission home.  They are instructed to be at the mission home at 4 p.m. but didn't arrive back at the office until 3:55 and the mission home is 30 minutes away.   I guess they made it and got some dinner because I didn't hear any complaining from them on Tuesday.   We left the office and came home to find some dinner.   As I reached under the kitchen sink to get a new roll of paper towels, I noticed water sitting on the bottom of the cabinet and on the top of the paper towel package....indicating some type of a leak.   We removed everything from the cabinet and wiped it out with a towel.....and on Tuesday morning I called the rental office to ask them to come fix the leak.

Tuesday when we went to the apartment for lunch the maintenance people came over and found that we had a leak in our disposal and within 15 minutes they had it replaced and we were as good as new!
We returned top the office with plans set to leave about 2:45 to go over to Norfolk to meet the new arrivals and feed them dinner........then things got a little crazy!

The president asked Sister Slater to check on the status of the incoming flight and when we got on-line to check we found that it was delayed by one hour leaving Salt Lake City and the group would only have about 18 minutes to catch their next flight.   Sister Slater called Missionary Travel and was told they had a contingency plan for the missionaries......

...From Atlanta they would wait a couple of hours and catch a plane to Detroit, have a 2.5 hour layover and then catch a plane to Norfolk, arriving about midnight.   Our plan to serve them Chicken Alfredo, salad, breadsticks and dessert probably wouldn't work very well at midnight.  We took a few moments to gather in the President's office and offer a prayer for the safe arrival of the missionaries - hoping and praying that they would be able to catch their connecting flight.   Elder Ashton pulled up flightradar24 and was trying to track the plane and us three Sisters in the office were trying to figure out what to do for dinner.....should we prepare sack lunches for them or just snacks? 

As we were discussing options, we could see on the internet that the plane from Salt Lake had landed but now they only had 17 minutes to catch their connecting flight.   I tried calling the airline to see if they could tell us if the missionaries had made their connecting flight.....because of FFA regulations they could tell me nothing.   Sister Slater got a text from the President indicating that he got a text from the airline saying the missionaries were now going to LaGuardia Airport in New York.  And the missionaries would arrive at 8:30 p.m. instead of midnight.   Sister Slater verified this information with the missionary travel department.  And we checked the internet again and found that the "connecting" flight had been delayed by 15 minutes so we thought there might be a chance they would make their flight.  So we started our meal discussion again.   During the discussion, the phone rang  and I answered.   It was the Sister from missionary travel and the first words out of her mouth were, "All the missionaries made their connecting flight in Atlanta."   We started cheering and thanked her profusely for the good news!   Supplies were quickly loaded and we soon all headed to Norfolk, back to plan A.  Missionaries arrived, ate some dinner, had an opportunity to teach a lesson to an investigator and get a good night's sleep before transfer meeting on Wednesday.  At the transfer meeting I heard President Baker tell the new missionaries that it was literally a miracle that they were in the meeting that morning and said he would tell them about it sometime.  So thankful for the Tender Mercies of Heavenly Father in delaying a connecting flight so the missionaries could catch it!

Bikes lined up waiting for new missionaries on Wednesday morning.  Elder Ashton gets to put some of the bikes together and others come assembled but he tags them and makes sure they have all their safety equipment - then tags the bikes.

We had about 125 missionaries in the office on Wednesday for the training which followed the transfer meeting.  Of course, many of them needed questions answered and help with cars, so it was a little crazy from 2:30 to 4:30 but we only ended up with one duffle bag that got left behind and it didn't have any extremely important items so that will be delivered sometime this next week.

As we left the office Wednesday evening, the air was crisp and cold with a bright blue sky and a bright white moon rising and just a tinge of pink near the horizon.....I love the appearance of the winter sky but the cold....not so much ;-)

Arriving at the apartment on Wednesday evening with the same blue sky - I looked up and was surprised to see how many pine cones were in the top of the tree branches

The new Missionary Senior Couple, Elder and Sister Rands, arrived in Chesapeake on Thursday evening and came into the office on Friday morning to meet us.   They are a delightful couple who will be working as MLS (Member/Leader Support) missionaries in one of the branches for a few months and we will be training them to do our tasks when we leave.  Since we will have a few months to do that, we should be able to walk them through each of our tasks in a "live" mode, such as actually paying the rent, receiving new cars, going through the annual audit, working car accidents, receiving new bikes, replacing lost debit cards, etc.   We are looking forward to having the opportunity to work with them.

In the last few days we have had.....Rain.....


...More snow...

...and ice! -  baby icicles on the patio railing.

In fact, due to the ice covered by snow/ice crystals church was cancelled today.   I know those of you who have lived in other parts of the country are wondering why there would be cancellations with so little snow, and I have been told it is because they don't have the equipment or supplies to deal with trying to keep the roads and bridges clear of ice and snow.   So we are sitting in our 'not so warm' apartment this morning listening to church music and writing to family and friends.   Hopefully it will have warmed enough that the Sister Missionaries will be able to make it to dinner as I am cooking a turkey breast with mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salad, and Banana Cream Pie.....too much food for Elder Ashton and I to eat alone.

I just had to post this picture of all the cars in the parking lot with their "antennae" sticking out.   This is required to keep the windshield wipers from freezing to the window :)

We are still having a great time!  But as we shiver back here in this icy weather, I'm thinking I just might like the feel of almost 100 degrees when we arrive back in Arizona in early May :)  Happy Winter from Virginia!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Countdown Adventure

Sunday, January 17, 2016

This past week flew by with us counting down and preparing for the next transfer which will occur on January 19th.   The Virginia Chesapeake Mission sent 5 missionaries home on January 1 to accommodate college schedules and we are sending an additional 9 missionaries home on Tuesday, January 19.....for a total of 14 missionaries.  Tuesday evening we will welcome 13 new/returning missionaries.  Sometimes, due to physical or mental health, a missionary will go home to seek treatment and end up returning to the mission.   We are welcoming one of those missionaries back this coming Tuesday and it feels almost as exciting as Christmas!

Along with preparations for this upcoming transfer, I have realized that I need to spend more hours each week writing instructions/lists for tasks that the Financial Secretary is responsible for.   I spent quite a few hours concentrating on that this past week, and although I wrote 7 pages of instructions, my list of things that needed to be addressed did not get shorter----it got longer.   Each time I was working on a set of instructions, I would think of one or two other tasks that needed to be explained.  So, I'll keep working on that for the next few months and hopefully have everything documented for the new financial secretary.   The couple that will be taking over our responsibilities in the office will arrive in the mission on this coming Wednesday, January 20th.   They will be working with one of the branches that is about 15 miles from here and also coming into the office one or two days a week to train with us.  I'm sure they will catch on fast and it will be a smooth transition when we leave.

Once again we had a week of diverse weather - cloudy, rainy, sunny, windy, and snowy.   Of course, my favorite is sunny.   In fact, I walked out of the office at lunchtime on Tuesday and just could not help but stare at the beautiful blue sky with white clouds.   I was sooooooooo glad to see sun and blue sky after a couple of rainy, gray days!

FINALLY, some blue sky with white clouds!   That kind of weather just makes me smile :)

I also love to see the huge trees back here with the gnarled branches and like it even more when parts of the tree are covered in vines.   If you look closely in this picture, you will note that the leaves have fallen off the trees, but there are two trees in this picture which are almost totally covered in vines.  I find them very interesting and can stare at them for a long time.

Thursday I spent the day making sure utilities are set up and turned on ready for missionaries to move in .  We have a new senior missionary couple arriving this week and we have a companionship of Sister Missionaries who have been living with members in Kinston, North Carolina.   Those members have decided to sell their home and serve a mission so we had to find a new place for the Sister Missionaries.   I'm hoping I got all the i's dotted and all the t's crossed so the moves to the new apartments will go flawlessly!

As I was just climbing into bed on Thursday night, my cell phone rang and when I answered it one of the Sister Missionaries started immediately apologizing for calling so late (9:30).  She said she had a problem with her MSF (Missionary Support Fund) card being damaged.   I told her we could report it damaged the next day and asked her to give me a call on Friday morning so we could discuss details of replacing her card and how she was going to have money for food until her new card gets here.  I did tell her that Salt Lake would want to know what was the matter with her card - was it broken, scratched, etc.   She hesitated for a minute and then said, "Um, well, it is in little squares" followed by another pause.   I told her we would talk about it on Friday and went to bed.....but I couldn't get that "little squares" out of my mind.  What would cause a debit card to be in little squares"?  My mind must have been mulling that over all night because when I woke up on Friday morning, I thought I knew what had happened to her card.....

Friday morning I tried to contact the Sister Missionary as soon as Study Time was over, but when she didn't answer her phone I realized she was probably at her District Meeting so I didn't get to talk to her until a little after lunch time.   When I spoke with her I said, we were going to talk about what happened to your card.   I asked, "Did you cut your card up by mistake?"   I heard a little scream and she said, "How did you know?  I'm so embarrassed.   My personal debit card expired and I pulled it out of my purse to destroy it and after I cut it up I realized I had cut up the wrong card."   We had a good laugh when I told her I knew because I had done the same thing once or twice myself.   She finally laughed a little and said she guessed we could share company with each other while we were embarrassed by our mistake :)  I got her old card cancelled and  new one we just have to wait and see if she gets a new companion with this transfer to determine who her companion is going to be....I can usually put money on the companions card so the missionary can at least have food to eat!

Friday was spent processing rent payments for February.....96 of them.   Some were for a partial month because we are moving from one apartment in a complex to another, some are not due yet for a few weeks so I had to change the software to hold that one payment out of the 96.   All in all, between creating the payments, validating the payments, and recording everything in a spreadsheet so I can find it quickly should questions arise about payments,  I spent 5 hours working on rent.....and I won't even say how many $$$$ were involved!

As we were leaving the church on Friday I looked down at my feet and saw this pretty little is one of those seed balls that grow on the trees back here and it had been run over while it was damp so it flattened out instead for breaking up.   Mother Nature is soooooo interesting!

Saturday was a stay at home day - washing and drying clothes, a little cleaning, a little sewing and a little baking.   I almost feel like Holly Homemaker again :)

The temperatures were in the mid-forties when we left at 8:45 for church, so imagine our surprise when we came out three hours later to this......

Snow covering the windshield of the truck

Huge snowflakes coming down as we are almost to our home away from home

Covered vehicles and still snowing lightly - from the front door of our apartment

Snow and slush just outside our front door.   I think I may need to wear my combat boots tomorrow to keep from slipping and sliding away!

This will be a busy week and we need to be prepared for long busy days.   Elder Ashton has been busy putting together bicycles for incoming missionaries and taking apart bicycles to ship home for departing missionaries.   We have packets of bedding lines up for the new missionaries and pages of instructions for them, so I think we are ready for the busyness :)    As we were driving to church this morning Elder Ashton commented that there will be only 2 more transfers before it is time for us to go home.....and it seems like we barely have time to catch our breath between transfers.   So, if we can just survive the cold and snow, we will be headed back to sunny Arizona before we can catch our breath!

Happy Winter from the East Coast!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Week of Eclectic Adventures

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Definitely a crazy, eclectic week - starting with the weather.   We had rain, sun, wind, and snow.....quite a mix,   One day it didn't get above 36 degrees and the next day it was nearly 60 degrees.   Sure makes it interesting to determine what type of clothing to wear....but it also produces some pretty scenery!

A beautiful ball of fire in the sky as we leave the office.

I forgot something and had to run back in the office.   When I came back outside 5 minutes later, the sky looked like tinged clouds were beautiful but a sign of things to come the next day.

There was no precipitation forecast for Tuesday so I was not wearing my warmest clothes.   Just a few minutes after we arrived at the office I looked out the window and discovered we were experiencing snow showers.   It snowed for an hour or two and then stopped but a cold wind was blowing and did a pretty good job of blowing the tiny bit of snow around the parking lot.

You may have guessed that I am mostly a fair weather kind of gal and get tired of the rain and don't like snow and cold.....or the gray skies that go with those things.   So, this week was a bit challenging, but I felt a little better when I checked the weather in Northern Arizona, Evanston, Wyoming, and Gilbert, Arizona.   All of them were having some weather challenges as well so I decided to try to control the whining ;-)

Wednesday as we left the apartment headed for the office, I noticed this when we came to the first stop light after leaving the apartment complex.

Look at all those birds sitting on the wire in almost the exact same position.   As we turned the corner and got a closer view we could see that they all had their heads tucked under their wings.....either sleeping or trying to avoid the cold!

As we  left the office for lunch, we were greeted by these 3 big ravens looking for food.   It is not uncommon to see a single raven on a fairly regular basis but I had not seen a group of them all searching for food.

As we left the grocery store on Saturday afternoon, I looked up to see the sky full of birds.   Hmmmm....I'm wondering if we have more birds here than Arizona because we have more trees - I think there might be a correlation.   I jokingly told Elder Ashton, "Well, I think this mission is 'for the birds'........not serious though because we do still love what we are doing!

One of the challenges I deal with living back here is that the culture is quite different and since I don't know my way around very well, nothing seems familiar so I find myself feeling anxious quite often.    As we were sitting in the apartment on New Year's Eve, I was sure there was gunfire going off in the parking lot, and Elder Ashton assured me it was fireworks.   I finally decided he was right, but still find myself feeling anxious.   It doesn't help that we live about a mile away from a fire station and we hear sirens on a very regular basis,   This week, one of my co-workers pointed out a news article naming the 10 most dangerous cities in Virginia.......Guess which city had the distinction of being named #1 - Portsmouth where the office/church is.   Guess that explains all the sirens.

I've been keeping my eye on this unique tree that is across the street from the mission office.   I looks like only half the tree has produced berries/blossoms and I really couldn't tell what it was, so I drove over there on my way back from and errand and found this interesting speciman.   There really are a few berries on the other parts of the tree,but they pale in comparison to the huge clumps on the one side.   Elder Ashton and I were discussing what might cause this and he guessed it might be related to the side of the tree that faces the sun for the most hours each day........don't know the reason but find the tree very interesting!

Large clumps of berries

A closer view of the large clumps

Some of you may remember our earlier adventures in crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel.   Although I am getting a little more confident in crossing over or under the water, when the news reported this week that a tractor/trailer drove off the edge of the bridge and into the bay, I felt my anxiety levels rise again. 

You will note that the guard rail is totally missing where the truck went over the edge and as we were setting out on our Saturday adventure, Elder Ashton misunderstood a question I asked him and told me we were going to go over the big bridge/tunnel.   I felt my heart rate speed up as I asked a follow-up question and was relieved to learn he had misunderstood me and we were only going over the smaller bridge/tunnel to get to NewPort News.  

After a week of paying bills and writing some instructions for my replacement, I was ready for some kind of an adventure on Saturday.   Elder Ashton wanted to go to a car show and rather than stay home and do laundry and clean, I told him I would go with him and I was sure I could find something interesting to look at.   I was right.......but felt like I needed to have multiple wardrobes to fit in with the eclectic mix of people and vehicles.  I couldn't decide if I should have worn bell bottoms and peace signs,  a tube top, overalls/county clothes, or diamonds and furs.  Check out the variety of vehicles below.

I liked this one - it could pass as a St. Johns Redskins vehicle with its nice red and white paint job.

This fancy red and black one reminded me of my high school days - probably should have had my bell bottoms and peace signs on:

This one was interesting because it sat right on the floor.   Elder Ashton was studying it out closely to see how they could drive it - he thinks there is a mechanism attached under the cross bar that lifts the car.

These "rat" vehicles were pretty interesting - I think these deserve a tube top wardrobe :)

Notice the rats accessorizing this bike - made me laugh

This is a mint green Fiat - notice the "comfy" back seats.

Another Fiat - notice the rattan seats and the fringe on top.
I'm thinking these call for a southern belle type wardrobe with a big floppy hat.

Orange is not my favorite color, but this 1941 Willys was so shiny I just had to snap a picture.

I wonder how many hours a week are spent working on this and polishing it up?

This Barn Find that will begin restoration in 2016 was interesting to me.   I look at it and see nothing but dollar signs and lots of hard work.   Elder Ashton looks at something like this and sees an exciting project!   As I listened to the owners talking to one another I was surprised at the dollar amounts they were talking about.   One man was talking about a car he just acquired for $46,000 and said he was planning to put at least another $40,000 into the car.   I would not have guessed by his jeans and t-shirt wardrobe that he had that kind of money readily available!

 I like to call this car shown in the 3 shots above the Americana Cruiser.   You can see that patriotic scenes are displayed on both sides and a working water feature embedded in a star studded structure fits in the hatch back.  All I can say is "Unique"

The shot is blurry but as you can see Elder Ashton was intently studying the Dusenberg information.   There were 2 of them and they were really fancy.   I think these cars demand a diamond and furs wardrobe :)

We had a good time on our adventure and I thought it was very appropriate for Elder Ashton who is affectionately called, "The Chariot Master", the Car Czar", "the Car Guy", etc.   I could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he thought about the mechanics and engineering of each car that he was interested in.

We came back to Portsmouth to the grocery store and then fixed dinner for the young Sister Missionaries.   On Friday they asked me if I had any neighbors they  could take cookies to so I told them maybe they could take them to the neighbor behind us.   She actually stopped in on Friday evening and I asked her if we could bring some cookies by on Saturday night.   She seemed reticent but said she might drop in at our apartment.   I didn't hear anything more from here so I was totally surprised when she knocked on our door at 5 p.m. and agreed to stay for dinner and to let the missionaries teach her a little about the church.   Eldre Ashton and I were both able to bear out testimonies about the gospel and the sisters did as well.   The feelings were strong in the room and our friend/neighbor was touched and thanked the sisters for teaching her.   She didn't invite them to come back again or agree to go to church but she did agree that she would like a Book of Mormon so Elder Ashton gave her one with our testimony inside the front cover and the Proclamation on the Family inside the back cover.  She said she had not planned to come but all of a sudden she decided she wanted to come.   I hope she enjoyed the dinner, the conversation, and our friendship.   She told me the other day that she will really miss us when we return to Arizona.

I feel much more confident working in the office, paying bills and keeping records but am learning that I can tell others about the happiness the gospel brings to my life.   We keep very busy and hope we are making a difference in lives.

Happy January!