APRIL!!!! 1/4 of 2016 has already passed - hard to believe. But here it is and time just keeps marching on.
On Monday we went to the office and had our weekly meeting with the President. We were pleasantly surprised when he told us during the meeting that he has found a couple to come into the office and take over our responsibilities on an interim basis until the new couple that has been called arrives at about the 1st of June. It sounded great........until we got out of the meeting and I really started to consider what that means - it means our going home to Arizona is getting to be a reality and I realized that I have a good deal of work ahead of me to clean out the apartment and get packed up. I also realized we have a l-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g drive looming ahead of us. However, the next thought that crossed my mind was that it would all be worth it when I get home and can hug all my friends and family on a regular basis. However, that means leaving behind good friends and wonderful experiences back here in the birthplace of our nation. WOW - talk about a basket of mixed feelings!
With all those thoughts in mind, I began to mentally prepare for the upcoming week - as did the rest of the office staff. Beginning Monday, August 4, Elder and Sister DeBow will be coming to the office 3 or more days a week to learn our tasks. I am currently trying to balance keeping up with tasks and saving a good cross-section of tasks to use as training opportunities.
On Tuesday, in preparation for Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday, Sister Goldade went to Costco (the $200 store) and purchased a little collapsible wagon with mission funds. We think that little wagon will be worth it's weight in gold as we haul food and supplies back and forth to missionary activities.
Sister Goldade has the wagon all loaded up with supplies for the "picnic" in the cultural hall at Mission Leadership Conference :)
One of Elder Ashton's nicknames that he received from the missionaries is "Chariot Master" One of the sister missionaries drew a very fancy chariot and horse with him driving the chariot on the envelope she used to send in her gas receipts. That will probably be one of the momentos we take home from this mission. With that nickname in mind, Sister Slatter, also an office missionary, decided we needed to use part of the box that the collapsible wagon came in and make Elder Ashton a sign. Here is the "Chariot Master" of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission.
All week I've been thinking about things I will miss when we leave here.....as I took this picture I realized I won't have to miss the "chariot master" because he is going back to Arizona with me ;-D
These pictures were taken Wednesday, following Mission Leadership Council. I found my eyes getting pretty misty as I realized that would probably be the last time I would see many of these missionaries. We have certainly grown to love them and I especially love the hugs I get from the sister missionaries - it almost feels like I am being hugged by one of my granddaughters
These two Elders always have great smiles when I see them. The one closest to Elder Ashton was serving in this area for a few months and went on quite a few bike rides with Elder Ashton. He LOVES to have fun and is also a great missionary! His name is Elder Reed. The other Elder camre in last summer and as we were preparing for that group of missionaries I was intrigued with his name - for 2 reasons. I thought it sounded Polynesian and I am really drawn to Polynesian people and his first and middle name are both "Israel". I asked him about it on the night he arrived and he said he wasn't sure why his parents named him that - but I have always thought it is a great name - it brings to mind the hymn , "Israel, Israel, God is Calling." What a great way to remind someone that they are a child of God!!! By the time these two young men came to shake my hand I was really fighting to hold back the tears
I WILL MISS ALL THE MISSIONARIES, YOUNG AND NOT SO YOUNG, THAT I HAVE GROWN TO LOVE!!!
As the week went on, it seemed that everywhere I turned I was reminded of things I will miss about being in Virginia.
I will miss coming out the door in the morning and hearing the birds singing to each other and flying from tree to apartment railing. I liked this little bird with the red throat and orange breast. It is too small to be a robin but it sure was pretty.
I will miss driving past my favorite property here a few times and day and watching for the llamas, the pony, the horse, the goat, etc.
I will miss this view as we cross over this branch of the Elizabeth River several times a day......the idyllic view calms me......and I love the blue sky with the fluffy white clouds that we occasionally see.
I will miss the colorful plants.....the beautiful flowering hedge is right across the street from our apartment complex.
Friday was zone conference and missionaries began arriving in the office about 8:30 a.m. It is amazing to me to watch these 19 and 20 year olds prepare training that will be helpful to their peers and to do it with such dedication.
The young Sister Missionaries from our zone. The sister on the left your left as you look at the picture and the tall sister third from the end on the right serve in this area. We get to go to appointments with them and to feed them dinner once in awhile. The sister third from the right comes from a family of 12 children and is pretty well versed in cooking and making things work..
I really wanted to just have a picture of them (because I hate to have my picture taken) but they begged me to get in. I tried to turn to the side so I looked skinny like them but that didn't work so I consoled myself by saying that I need to be fluffy to cushion those grand kids I'm looking forward to hugging ;-)
On Friday afternoon I needed to drive Elder Ashton to the automotive place to pick up a car and decided I was going to take a few minutes to drive around a couple of blocks and snap a few pictures of things I will miss about Virginia.
I will miss the beautiful Wisteria growing against the weathered fence. The people here really dislike Wisteria - they view it as a noxious weed because it tries to take over everything. I love it because I think it is so pretty.....and it smells really nice!
Beautiful details - that Heavenly Father provided for me!
I will miss the flowering dogwood - the trees that look like lace growing in the yard.
I will miss the open displays of Patriotism......it is very common to see flags flying in the yards of private residences.e I like the colonial look of this red brick with white trim home and the flag flying in the light breeze
I WILL NOT miss this....rain, rain, and more rain.....and trying to fight the rain to go grocery shopping. Both Elder Ashton and I were soaked by the time we arrived home.
Nor will I miss this tiny galley kitchen and trying to prepare a meal for more than two in limited space. Hopefully I can still remember how to cook for a group because I sure am looking forward to some family dinners when I get home!
As we finish out the last few weeks here, I am sure my emotions will be up and down constantly. I'm already dreading the goodbyes with friends, ward members and co-workers but anxiously awaiting the greetings in Arizona.
I am so glad we have had this opportunity to serve - another thing in my life where I have learned lessons that have changed me and received more blessings than I can begin to count!