Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Winding Up Goodbye Week

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I must admit I've shed a few tears this week as our departure is nearly upon us.   There have been a number of "lasts" during the week and each time I realized it was the last time we would do something or see someone, I fought the tears.   I'm trying to be philosophical about it and remember that "all good things must come to an end."   It's a really good thing I have so much excitement about seeing family and friends when we get home or I would be a crying mess :)

Monday - I helped Sister DeBow learn how to get the departing missionaries all checked in for their flights and pay their baggage fees.   We had 7 departing missionaries and we had one tiny glitch with one and a bigger glitch with a second one......but all is good, we got it all figured out.   That evening we went to the Mission Home and had dinner with President and Sister Baker and the 7 departing missionaries.

Here we are all looking very satisfied after a delicious dinner and some nice conversation :)

Tuesday morning our local Sister missionaries who we have been able to work closely with came into the office.   Sister Zsembery knew that she was being transferred and would be leaving on Wednesday so we had to get a picture with her and one with her AND Sister Bohn who is staying here.

Also, on Tuesday morning the departing missionaries flew out of Norfolk Airport and the newbies arrived on Tuesday afternoon.   We left the office about 3 p.m. to go to Norfolk and greet them, make sure they all had dinner to eat and called parents to let them know their missionary arrived safely.  This was our last arrival dinner where we would get to meet the new missionaries and I realized I am going to miss this opportunity - at least until we get our first batch of new missionaries in the Arizona, Gilbert mission.     This greeting/arrival dinner is held in a church building (the first Stake building in this area) in Norfolk.   As a new Senior Couple walked in they commented that they could smell petroleum or coal.   Our mission president explained that the wood for the beams was soaked in creosote as the building was built (I think he said it was in the early 50s).   I was amazed that she detected the scent this many years later.  

This pretty woodworking is in the Cultural Hall.

Part of our last group of arriving missionaries :)

Three of the four arriving missionaries (I think the 4th was getting more food) and the two Assistants to the President on the left.   I think they all look pretty happy.    Elder Wright (one of our co-workers in the office) is gathering the trash.   He has taken that on as one of his responsibilities and does a great job-----never letting the trash cans get too full

The four new Sister Missionaries - cute young ladies who seemed excited for the new adventure.

As we were driving to the church building, I noticed several places where the water was literally covered with lily pads.   We tried to get a picture on the way back but there was no place to pull off and get out of traffic so I had to shoot from the moving vehicle.....some of the pads seemed to be about 10" in diameter.

A smaller bunch of pads on the opposite side of the road.

As we left Norfolk and headed back to the apartment after we had completed our tasks, my breath caught a little as I noticed this sign and remembered my feelings when we arrived in the area 1 1/2 years ago and I saw a sign that indicated we were going through a tunnel that ran under the water.   Now I'm used to that adventure and even felt a little nostalgic because I don't think I'll be driving through any tunnels that run under water in Arizona ;-D

Our final transfer day with the young missionaries was on Wednesday.   I loved this picture of President and Sister Baker with some new missionaries and those who will be training them.   I can almost feel the love and concern that the President and Sister Baker have for these missionaries.   I grow to love the young missionaries so much that I feel like they are like my own grandchildren, but I have watched President and Sister Baker have instant love for each missionary that comes in as they continue to love those who are already here serving.   President Baker is a very bright man - his occupation is Electrical Engineer and while he has some mannerisms or thought processes that are pretty normal for engineers, he is one of the kindest and loving men I have ever met!   We will miss serving under him and Sister Baker.

Sister Bohn ("our" Portsmouth missionary) with her new companion, Sister Iverson.   I have seen tons of growth in Sister Bohn over the last 5 months while she has served in Portsmouth.   It will be hard to leave her behind.

Us and Elder Wardell after transfer meeting.   He was new to the mission when we came and will be going home soon.

Us and Elder Giles and Elder Parkinson.   Elder Giles had a real baby face when he came (looked like he was about 14) but he is one of the original Dismal Swamp Rat Pack (Elder Ashton and the young missionary bike riders) who we came to love alot.    Elder Parkinson (the tall one) has been here almost as long as we have......and he can play the piano (by ear, self taught) like WOW!

Us and Elder Sommer.   He always has the big grin on his face when he comes into the office and greets me.

The Azaleas are still in bloom and it has just been in the last week that the white ones have really burst forth......they are so snowy white and so abundant I just had to take a few picture of the beauty of these blooms.

Thursday and Friday were relatively quiet days in the office with us doing some final catch up and making sure that we have removed all of our personal belongings from our desk drawers

Saturday afternoon we took a few items to Goodwill and then I asked Elder Ashton if he would drive me down to the shipyard and into Old Town to find some old churches and the ship building site.   We were partly successful :) - never did see the actual ship building site.

I believe this one was called the Third Baptist Church.   A few blocks away we came around the corner and saw Fourth Baptists Church which was a totally modern building.   I think I prefer the looks of the historic church :)

St. Paul's Catholic Church - in 1897 the parish  which was founded in 1804 decided they wanted to build a new church - the result was the beautiful Gothic structure

This church, Central Methodist Church, was abandoned a few years ago, but I love the checkerboard pattern on the steeple and at the apex of the roof.

Portsmouth harbor - all kinds of boats and ships from yachts to tall mast sailing ships to much smaller motor powered boats (even a large naval or commercial ship in the background)

I wanted to see the dry dock that was the first one built and is located in Portsmouth as part of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.   The drydock was put into service in 1834 and still operates today.   We couldn't get in to see it, but did see this original wall around it.   

This is what the entrance to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard looked like yesterday with the flags flying and the white puffy clouds skittering across the blue sky.   Made my heart beat a little faster with a patriotic feeling.

The building where we have spent six days a week for the last 18 feels like a second home :)  As I hugged members we've known during that time and told them good-bye this morning, I felt so lucky and blessed to have been here and worked with the amazing people here.

I couldn't pass up this white flower on a bush in front of the is not the most beautiful of the flowers I've seen back here but I am sure it is one of the most interesting.  How many interesting characteristics do you see........Ahhhhhhh - the beauty of the earth!

In just 2.5 days we will get in the truck and drive out of Portsmouth/Virginia Chesapeake Mission, heading back to Arizona.   I am forever changed because of this experience!


  1. Oh, Carol...we will be SOOO happy to welcome you home! We have missed you so and look forward to visiting again with you. We will just love seeing you. Be safe driving home. It's exciting to think you'll be in church next Sunday - we hope! I have no doubt of your last line - you ARE forever changed by this experience. We love you!

  2. It's sure gone by fast! Be safe and we'll see you soon... And thanks for keeping this blog. I have loved reading it.