Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Colorful Springtime Adventure

Sunday, April 10, 2016

This past week sped by as we were busy training Elder and Sister DeBow who will be our interim replacements in the office.   They live in Virginia Beach and drove to Portsmouth on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for some training in cars and finances.   They are catching on to everything VERY fast and I feel confident they will be able to do everything on their own with another few days of training.  They are a great couple and it is a real pleasure to work with them.   However, there is one problem with getting them trained up - that means we will not have any excuse to stay here longer and as the days pass and it gets closer and closer to the time when we will leave, I recognize more and more that I am really going to leave a part of my heart here with the people I've come to know!  In fact, as I bore my testimony this morning I said, "I love all y'all" and that phrase just slipped out of my mouth very naturally as I realized how much I meant it.

It had rained a little on Sunday night/early Monday morning and as we arrived we were greeted by this small Azalea bush along the sidewalk into the office.   It was such a bright, cheery pink that it really caught my eye.   So I decided to take a walk just around the church parking lot and see what else was in bloom.

I came upon this tree that was half dead, but was still putting out blossoms on the half that was still alive and these tulips that had been beaten down by the rain during the night.   

These two sights immediately brought to mind some of the messages from conference about how much Heavenly Father and the Savior love us, no matter the circumstances of our lives.  
I especially loved this counsel from Elder Holland and the half-dead tree and beaten down tulips made me think what he said in the final talk at conference.
"Now, with that majestic devotion ringing from heaven as the great constant in our lives, manifested most purely and perfectly in the life, death, and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can escape the consequences of both sin and stupidity—our own or that of others—in whatever form they may come to us in the course of daily living. If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."
One thing of beauty I noticed in the church atrium was this little rose.....with some of the rain drops still clinging to it.   I thought this was a perfect example of how going through hard things sometimes brings about very beautiful things - I think the same applies to our lives.

As we left the office on Monday afternoon, I noticed that the little Azalea bush that was mostly buds in the morning had burst into bloom - so pretty.

I am certainly going to miss the beautiful flowers, bushes and trees.

Tuesday morning I had a couple of  couple of short errands to run, so decided to take a few extra minutes away from the office and take a couple of pictures.
I call this a "tissue paper flower" tree.   They are just beginning to bloom all over town.

This really reminds me of tissue paper flowers I used to make when I was a girl.   I remember making LOTS of these to use a Prom decorations when I was in high school :)

Tuesday when we arrived home from the office and I started to get out of the truck, I noticed this cardinal sitting on the railing, singing a loud song.   I snuck as close as I could to get a picture of it, but it quickly flew away to a "camouflage" tree. 

Can you tell which one is the cardinal and which are red leaves?

Wednesday was a regular day at the office with regular tasks.   The main excitement was when the mail came and we had more bills to pay and Elders Ashton and DeBow got more gas receipts to reconcile.   I loved the outside of the envelope that contained one set of gas receipts.

Oh, how I am going to miss the wonderful young missionaries.   They bring a smile to my face with their smiles, their enthusiasm, and the little messages they send us.    Sometimes I think Elder Ashton is too hard on them about keeping their cars clean or that he teases them too muc, but we got two messages of love and thanks in the mail this week so I guess we are doing OK.

I had noticed some pretty pink dogwood trees growing close to the office, so Friday as we were getting ready to leave I told Elder Ashton I was going to walk over and take a couple of pictures and for him to pick me up on the way.  

I really like Dogwood trees and how lacy they look.   I thought this was an interesting picture with the lacy dogwood showing blue sky and clouds behind.

A closer version of the same tree.....I really like the shape of the flower petals and the pretty salmon pink.   I'm going to miss dogwood blossoms when I get back to Arizona.

I find many of the shrubs/trees around here are quite unique in that they have only green leaves for part of the year, but when they start to put on new growth in the spring, the new growth comes out orange or red.   In the plant above you can see the new growth with tiny buds of white flowers......not quite in full bloom yet.

I had only been standing outside taking these pictures for about 7 or 8 minutes, but the wind was FREEZING cold and I was really cold when I got in the truck! 

Saturday morning I woke up in good time so we decided to get our grocery shopping done early.   We got that done and as we were heading home I asked Elder Ashton to drop me off on the East end of the bridge across the river so I could get a couple of pictures.   I asked him to park on the West end of the bridge and wait for me.  

I really like this large Azalea plant - and the blooms that are dark pink in the middle edged with a very pale pink.  You might be able to tell from a few of the blooms in the foreground that we had a couple of cold nights this past week and some of the petals got a little frost and have started to brown.

I'm going to miss Azaleas when I get back to Arizona.

This is a view of the Elizabeth River from the other side of the bridge.....the bridge railing on this side is higher so I seldom get pictures of it.   If you look closely at the water you can tell that the wind was blowing pretty hard and it was VERY cold!  I won't miss the cold damp wind.

As I was walking across the bridge I noticed these mallards popping out from under the bridge and swimming and diving over to the dock ramp.   Their heads don't show it as well in the picture but they were a BRILLIANT green in the sunshine!

Here's more of the green with red bushes/shrubs.   Here you can see the white blossoms are a little more fully developed.

I forgot to get cheese at the grocery store so I ran over to WalMart to get some and when I returned home....IT WAS SNOWING - on April 9th!

I'm not going to miss snow in April!

More snow as we drove over to GoodWill to drop off 7 bags of did we acquire so much in just 17 months?

Catching our breath after some cleaning and packing - this is definitely a mixed feelings picture!
Today I realized it is our last Fast Sunday here in Virginia and started thinking about all I have learned while we've been here.   It has been hard in many ways, but so great and rewarding in so many other ways!

I hope Arizona will have some warm weather waiting for us :)


  1. Hi Carol. We are home and it feels so nice. It was as if we had never left our home. Amazed at how many new people are in the ward. Our missionaries in our district emailed that they miss us so much. ditto. It's hard to say goodbye as you are about to find out. Best of luck

    1. I am just beginning to feel how hard it is going to be to say good-bye. We had the sister missionaries over for dinner today and they both gave me hugs as they was hard to stop hugging them. We are about 50% done with packing up and I'm trying to use up food that I have in freezer and cupboards. Hopefully it will be almost all gone when we leave.
      Glad to hear you made it home safely

  2. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. It will be good to see you again - in person!

    1. It has gone by so fast - and has been such a great experience. Can't wait to see you back in Arizona in a couple of weeks!
      Did we lose the people from our ward who lived across Gilbert Road - the Walkers, the Reeves, the Sorenson's or just the apartment complex?