Sunday, February 7, 2016

An Adventure in the Sky

Sunday, February 7, 2016

In a little over a week, I have noticed many beautiful pictures in the Virginia sky and hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do.  On Friday, January 29th, the sky looked like this.

Leaving the office after a rainy afternoon.

I went to an appointment with the Sister Missionaries and as we came back we could see the sun trying to poke through the heavy clouds.

Monday, February 1, started as a regular Monday.   Elder Ashton and I were expecting Elder and Sister Rands to be in the office for further training and so we tried to keep ourselves somewhat busy but hold off on specific tasks so we could go through those tasks with the Rands as part of the raining.  They had not arrived by the time we started our regular Monday Staff Meeting and President Baker told us at that meeting that the Rands assignment had been changed and we would not be training them for the office as they will be focused on Member Leader Support for the Hampton ward.   We are hoping that Salt Lake will be able to get us another couple to be trained as office staff in the next month or six weeks.....keeping our fingers crossed :)

When we backed into our parking space at the apartment upon our arrival that evening, I noticed the bright pink line under the gray clouds.   I always knew that I liked the color combination of gray and pink.....I just didn't know that Mother Nature like it too :)

Tuesday I spent the day catching up on those tasks I did not complete on Monday and preparing for the annual audit, which would take place on Wednesday.  I remembered that the audit was a bit intense last year (took about 6 hours) so I was a little nervous about it this year.   I tried to have all the reports printed out and files readily at hand - hoping for a smooth audit.  As we left the office I noticed more beautiful scenes in the sky......and felt pretty calm about the audit scheduled for the next day.

Dark clouds closer to the ground with sun shining behind and white clouds above

More sunlit fluffly white clouds

In my mind I can see an artist with his canvas, brush and palette painting this sky scape.

Wednesday arrived - and that meant it was time for another MLC (Mission Leadership Conference).   When we first came to the mission it seemed like we rarely had these meetings but for the last few months, it has seemed that they occur every other week.  In reality, they have always occurred every month - time just seems to be flying by!!!  We had about 30 missionaries in the cultural hall of the building where the office is for most of the day.....and I got some WONDERFUL hugs from my "adopted granddaughters" - the Sister Missionaries.   We had a new adventure for lunch this time and bought party subs from Wal Mart instead of Subway.   They seemed much fresher and there were extra so the hungry Elders got to eat their fill.   It was so interesting to see them come out of a six hour meeting with huge smiles on their faces and excited about the prospect of teaching investigators about family history earlier in the teaching process.   When the meeting was over, most of them came to the office to ask for help with cars, supplies, etc.   As we had 25 or so missionaries crowding into our small work space, I was in the process of going through the audit and trying to locate individual receipts among thousands of receipts from last year......I thought it was a little intense but we only found a few very minor mistakes that are easily correctable so I'm OK with that.   In the middle of all this, I noticed lots of missionaries gathered around one particular car in the parking lot and went out to take a look (and a picture).   We have some very CREATIVE missionaries :)

Front passenger window with the square framing the head of the missionary.

Back passenger window  - with address and phone number :)

Back window - again with address and phone number and instructions to honk if they love Jesus :)
The back driver window says the same thing as the back passenger window.

Front driver window with square to frame the missionary:)

I did not get a chance to ask them about the success of their advertising but thought it was ingenious to get the word out there about what the missionaries stand for......and this is a car driven by ELDERS!!!!

Thursday turned out to be another day with a show from the skies - RAIN.   It poured down most of the day and we ended up with nearly 2" on the sidewalk around the church and in the parking lot.   The ground was so saturated that it "squished" when it was stepped on.   We also had some wind with the rain which made it quite breath-taking - LITERALLY!

Wind blowing the water down the street in small waves

HUGE raindrops pouring the drops hit the parking lot they made a splash about 1" high!

As we were driving home for lunch, I noticed that the raindrops were beading on the hood of the that is what I call a highly waxed surface.   Elder Ashton loves his red truck!

To top the day off, our internet connection failed at about 2:30 on Thursday afternoon.   Almost every task we perform in the mission office requires the internet.....even updating spreadsheets generally requires obtaining information from one of the software programs the mission secretary left a little early, the housing coordinator left a little early and Elder Ashton and I read a little in some magazines and I stared out the window at the rain.   There are certainly some days when I need to check the maps and the surrounding area to be sure I'm not back in Washington circa 1970-1971 ;-)

Friday morning.....yea our internet connection is restored and we have work waiting for us!   Bills to pay, cars to get ready to sell, missionaries to reimburse, etc.   It was not a terribly busy day, just enough work to keep me going steady all day.   After the adventures of the week, I was ready for some "normal" activity like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

Saturday, after some shopping and some laundry, we decided to take a "tiny" adventure to Norfolk and go to the  MacArthur Memorial.   It is only about 15 minutes from our apartment and since our fathers both served in World War II and we are baby boomers, we have heard about and read about MacArthur and his exploits for many years.   It was interesting to find that his mother lived in this area and so there is a connection which would explain the placement of the memorial here.  It is housed in the old City Hall/Court House, which in and of itself is quite an impressive building.

Front of the building - with the statue of MacArthur and rotunda framed by trees

A WWII era Harley Davidson  - this was the type used by army personnel

A WWII era Willy's Jeep - this type was used by the army

Elder Ashton and Douglas MacArthur (cardboard) standing beside MacArthur's car - Elder Ashton says this is a Chrysler 4 door sedan -- he thinks about a 1946/47

MacArthur's license plate he used first in the Philippines and again in Australia

General MacArthur had served in the Philippines and grew to love the people there.   However, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, followed by an attack on the Philippines, it became obvious that the Philippines were about to fall to the Japanese and MacArthur was ordered to go to Australia and make plans for the defeat of Japan.   He did not want to leave but promised the Filipino people that he would return.....which he eventually did.

Although the lighting is terrible and the picture is difficult to see, I loved this wood carving of MacArthur returning and the Filipino people celebrating that return.

MacArthur was charged with overseeing the surrender of Japan and presiding of the signing of the document.   The memorial depicted him as a man of strong character and a good heart, in that he did not want the vanquished to feel down-trodden.   Instead, he thought it was important to extend a hand to them and try to help them rebuild.

Instrument of surrender of Japan and Japanese controlled armed forces in the Philippines.

Because of his desire to help the vanquished foe, he soon endeared himself to the Japanese officials and received many expensive gifts while he was there.  Actually, it was MacArthur's wife who endeared herself to the people, as the General did not usually go out to societal functions.   MacArthur commented that marrying his wife was the smartest decision he ever made.

A set of "Tiffany" silverware

One of two matching vases presented to the MacArthurs.   These vases are each about 2.5 feet tall.

A gold teapot presented to the MacArthurs.

Even though Douglas MacArthur received many honors, medals, and much recognition, he maintained a strong Christian moral character.  

I love this quote by MacArthur and think the world would do well to try to more fully adopt his Christian morals in our day.

As we were driving home from our mini adventure I asked Elder Ashton contemplatively what would cause a person to choose to do what MacArthur did.   His response was that he guessed he believed his stated values.....some of which are shown above.

This is a portion of a 10 foot high monument that listed MacArthur's campaigns and ranks and overlooks the burial crypts of Douglas MacArthur and his wife Jean.   I like this portion of the monument the best and think something like that last phrase would be an epitaph that would be fitting for any one of us....just substitute a few words.  I sure hope I will leave this world with some folks realizing that I tried to do my duty the best I could as Heavenly Father helped me to understand what that duty was!

MacArthur's burial crypt

Mrs. Jean MacArthur's burial crypt

Sunday - We had great church meetings this morning, a quiet and restful afternoon (I took advantage of having church at 9:00 a.m. and took a nap in the afternoon), and dinner with a family in the other ward that meets in our building.  It was delicious food and great conversation.....and we came out the door to a mix of snow and rain - more scenarios provided by the Sky.

I heard conflicting reports about whether the groundhog saw his shadow around here so I don't know what to expect any further than the next five days and my weather channel tells me those are going to be COLD!!!!   Time to bundle up here in Virginia!    And crossing my fingers that we will hear something more about a replacement couple for us ;)


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