Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 24 and 25 The Merriest of Christmas'

Jesus is the reason for all we do! He is the Way, the Truth and the Light! He is our Way back home to our Father, His way is Truth and He is the Light to help us find our way in the darkness of this world. I love Him, I love the Christmas Season to honor and celebrate Him. But most of all I'm grateful for His Love, the Hope He gives me, of being made enough, through Him and because of Him. Isn't it the most Amazing gift!

THANKS Angie for this sweet Nativity. We really appreciated our 25 days to Christmas!!!
On Christmas Eve all of the Seniors had a barbecue for the North Zone missionaries for lunch. Here's Elder and Sister Walker, Elder and Sister Thomas (in the back), Sister Marsh, me and Elder Stringfellow, and Sister Young.

My pictures got out of order. Doing a blog is a little bit tricky! Christmas Eve we had a huge thunderstorm and a power outage for about 45 minutes. I felt bad for those who were having dinners and partys. Poor Sister Marsh had her fruit cake in the oven, but (unfortunately-I'm not really a fan) it still survived. It's been very chilly here and I didn't bring a lot of warm clothes, I don't know why I thought it would always be hot! Thank heaven Santa brought me a nice warm sweater and some warm pj's! Christmas morning was certainly different being away from our children and grandchildren. We actually slept in and had a leisurely breakfast before we opened our gifts. But when we skyped all of them it was hard not giving eveyone hugs and kisses and wiping tears away when they didn't get what they wanted from Grandma! I just love the honesty of little children! On christmas we went over to the Mission Presidents home for a short time for an open house of crepes. That evening the Senior missionaries had a very lovely dinner at Sister Young and Sister Marsh's apartment.

Here's the North Zone: back row: Elders Atwood, Barker, Galbraith, Schultz, Anderson, Sorenson, Bernfield, Bateman and Smith; Front: Hayes, Burton, Harris, Bergener, and Austin. Since these young men live around the office we see them quite often and have really come to love them. Elder Austin checks on me all of the time to make sure I've taken my medicene every day at 2:30! I always forget that dose. I am doing so well that it's easy to forget but I know it's important Mom, to stay on my regime.

They all sang Angels We Have Heard on High as a thank-you for lunch. It was so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes! The Elders below came in on Christmas Eve (day)too to sing us a song. I think they were actually checking to see if they had any Christmas packages! But we loved their song too.
We hope and pray that you all had a wonderful and peace-filled Christmas as well! Merry Christmas...

Scott's Birthday

For Scott's birthday our Mission all got to go to the Houston temple, at different times of course. It really was to celebrate the Prophet Joseph Smith's birthday. We went in one of the 1st groups of the morning and went with most of the Katy Zone.

Our Mission Day Conference

Our Mission Conference started off acknowledging the mission-wide fast we'd held the day beofre. The goal for this fast was to ask the Lord to bless us in finding families prepared to hear the gospel, to meet the goals we'd set for 2011 and to become truly converted to the Lord.

Next the missionaries were split into 3 groups to go do service. One group went to NAM (sort of like the D.I.)to help sort clothing and do whatever service they needed. One group cleaned up Hafer Road, which is the road the Mission Office is on. There had been a set of mattresses on that road since we had gotten here in August. They filled the trash dumpster of both the mission office and the Employment Center. They picked up a lot of garbage.

The third group went to homes asking for food to give to NAM. They brought it back to the church and when everyone got back they had a big assembly line to put all the food in a truck to take to NAM. NAM told us we'd collected 2,895 pounds of food! Hopefully that helped others have a Merry Christmas.

While the younger missionaries were out doing their service, the Seniors were setting up lunch and preparing for the afternoons activities. Here's Sister Christensen and Sister Walker getting things done in the kitchen. We served pizza (barely enough, next year we need to buy more than 35 pizzas from Sam's Club!!!), a green salad, and lot's of Cuties oranges, with pumpkin bread for dessert.

After lunch there were all kind of games that were rotated to. The AP's were in charge of Ultimate Frisbee, which I guess is like football with a frisbee and no tackling. Elder Stringfellow and Elder Walker were in charge of Pioneer games which consister of a stick pull, tug of war and a "cow-pie throwing contest". This was Scott's suggestion - they threw beef pot pies and the contest was to see who could throw it the farthest, with a Elders division and a Sisters division. It went great until the middle of the 2nd group when the cow's innards started coming out! But no fear, in 2010 we have duct tape! By the end of the 3rd group they were throwing really squishy boxes of duct tape that still oozed a little something! It was great fun!

The winners of the "cow-pie throwing contest".

Elder Walker found a great rope that had NO chance of breaking and hurting anyone! Can you see the dust, these people took this contest very serious!

They also got to make gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. I can't believe I didn't put a picture in of the winner. It was a baptism font with little marshmallow gingerbread men getting baptized, the number 60 was by it, reminding the missionaries about the goal for January...I think that's why it won!

Sister Thomas and Sister Marsh did A LOT of work keeping the missionaries stocked with candy and frosting.

After all the festivities everyone cleaned up for Mission wide picture. You should try taking a picture of 170 of your closest friends. Talk about herding cats! I can't wait to see the picture.
We then had a very nice catered dinner of Chicken Enchilada Casserole, rice and beans and a salad. Elder Gifford Nelson, an Area Authority Seventy spoke at a devotional that evening and then we ended the night with ice cream and cupcakes. It was a wonderful day and evening. We felt the spirit of Christmas which is really Christs love and peace. What a great blessing it is for us to be here at this time.

My very favorite part of the mission is spending time with the missionaries, young and old alike. (not that you're older Sister Young-you will be Young forever!!!) The Sister missionaries love to give me hugs and I love practicing my Spanish on them (those who speak Spanish!)

Since I do the Mission history I'd been trying to remember for several weeks to get a picture of the Mission President and his assistants before the end of the year. Yeah! I remembered on this night. I am very grateful for all 4 of these wonderful people; Elder Anderson from Spanish Fork, Utah, Sister and President Hansen, and Elder Galbraith from Sugar City, Idaho. All of these people love the Lord and all of the missionries so much and put so much time, effort and prayer into their callings, they are truly looked up to and their examples inspire all of us.

Olde Oaks Christmas Party

This was our office the Monday or Tuesday before Christmas. Believe it or not we got even more! I saw how much Mothers of Missionaries love their kids!

Elder Stringfellow and Elder Walker were asked to participate in the High Priests group rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Scott was to be the "Partridge in a Pear Tree". I really tried to get him to wear bird feathers but he would have none of it! I liked his pear tree. Elder Walkers 5 golden rings was very clever too.

This beautiful child was a gift to me that night. She turned 1 the 1st of December and she let me hold her and even cuddled up to me (I was holding the blankie that she loves). Her mom told me she never cuddles up to anyone. I needed that!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Seniors Family Home Evening

I don't have a picture of this but I just have to mention how much I love getting together with our fellow Senior missionaries and making memories and being together. We went up to Conroe this past weekend to a Christmas concert that both Sister Young and I started singing with the choir when they sang the song "Were you there?" she the soprano part and I the alto. It made us both cry as well! Before the concert we went to Ryan's, an all you can eat buffet that was very good, they cooked you a steak on a fire grill and the rolls were to die for. Tonight we had a great family home evening and then discussed who was making what for all of next weeks activities. The Seniors are doing lunch (Yeah for Sam's Club pizza's!!!) for the P-Day mission conference on Wednesday, helping with gingerbread houses and pioneer games, as well as doing the dessert that evening, (luckily dinner is catered); Elder Gifford Nielsen who is an Area Autority here is speaking at the devotional that evening, we're having a bar-b-que for the Elders and Sisters that live around here at noon on Christmas Eve day and then having our own dinner Christmas evening. I think it will all be time well spent! Helps with the feelings of missing home and family.

The Thoughtfulness of Others!

Look at what a fun tree we have. It's full of the good deeds of others. Sister Marsh's tatted stars, pictures and letters and stars and hearts from wonderful children and grandchildren who have remenbered grandma and grandpa, there's even a hidden key, the Key of Christmas to help us remember the baby Jesus, thanks Kristian for remembering us!

And look at that Merry Christmas banner! Thanks Karen and all your wonderful activity day girls for making such an awesome banner, the perfect size for our living room wall. That was so thoughtful and a very fun surprise. P.S. Elder Stringfellow really is excited about it all!

Elders Smith, Atwood, Struthers and Lindsay are all excited too! Actually this was taken on Thanksgiving at a members home and Elder Lindsay is now back in California but I told them I wanted to put their Santa picture on my blog!

This is Elder Sorenson and Elder Austin. Both great missionaries. Very caring and helpful. Elder Austin asks me every day if I've taken my medicine and Elder Sorenson helps keep Elder Stringfellow in a job by rolling his car (very slowly I might add) in the church's parking lot one morning in front of a bunch of teens heading into early morning seminary. It wasn't about speed, it was all about momentum or the tree and the 2 other missionaries (unfortuantely the 2 AP's) on the one side of the car that made the car roll. Elder Sorenson was picking just the right time to tell Elder Stringfellow but unfortunately the Stake President called and asked him about it first. We love our mission! You just never know each day what's going to come your way!!! Poor Elder Sorenson, I don't think anyone will ever let him forget this.

My favorite nativity from the presentation we went to a week or so ago. This one is of children putting on the Christmas pageant. I love the little guy on the ladder holding the star. This year has been such a wonderful Christmas time because we aren't worrying at all about all the hustle and bustle (we've only been to the mall twice, both fairly short visits!) and concentrating more on the true meaning of Christmas. I just love the feeling of Christmas -

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Start of a Great Christmas Season

The Christmas Season started off with a great visit with my nephews Torrey and Courtney Hinson and their wonderful families! Kody and Jayde on the left, and Taylor, Gabe and Ty on the right! Sorry Devyn that I didn't get your picture this time around. Just wait, you're next! They are all just so delightful, we can't wait to return and get to know each one even better.

Here's the start of a very cute Christmas tree! Abby sent me some fun stars and hearts that she made (Thanks Abigail!) and the 1st envelope we opened from the package the kids sent had this cute silhouette ornament of David and Angela in it. I hear rumors that each envelope has the same kind of ornament for each member of the family!!!! I'm so excited. I will post another picture on the blog at Christmas to show it all off.

To get in the Christmas Spirit, Saturday, our P-day, we went to Kingwood, Texas to the nativity their Stake has done for the past 13 years. It was fantastic. There were over 300 Nativities, lots of Christmas trees and poinsettias, it was just so beautifully decorated. When you walked in it took your breath away. Very nicely done. They had singing groups, a room with Nativities just for children and a room where you could dress up and have your picture taken in a Nativity.

My sweet Sister Young pointing at a nativity just like one of the ones she has at home.

Here's one like the one her children gave to her a piece at a time. She got very emotional when she saw it. I love this dear lady. She makes me feel so loved whenever I'm around her. We had a fun time seeing all of these beautiful nativities. One of the things that she does that is such an inspiration to me is she goes to the temple every Tuesday after work and every Saturday morning, without fail! Sister Marsh goes with her now. They are both such great examples. Sister Marsh, below with Sister Young and I, makes the most beautiful tatted alter clothes for the temple. She's made over 20. She's now teaching Sister Young how to tatt. Sister Young has made a star and a wreath. It's just an exquisite art form.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Have the BEST kids ever!!!

THANKS SO MUCH to my kids for the great package we got in the mail today! Angie was the brain child of this fun project. She had everyone help her put together a little present for every day until Christmas! And December 1 started out with Angie scrapebooking a booklet with a thought for every day til Christmas! There's envelopes that the kids colored and I'm hoping that they drew pictures for Grandma and Grandpa. What a blessing our families are. That's one of the things I love about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the promise of being together forever as families and I know that we will be because of Christ's great Atonement. Oh how I love this gospel and am so thankful for the chance I have to serve my Father in Heaven and His Son on this mission. It's truly a blessing to me and Scott and I know it is for our children and granchildren, our parents and even our brothers and sisters. I know God is aware of every one of you. He knows you, He knows your feelings and desires, He loves you more than you will ever know. He allows you this mortal experience to find out for yourself, to find Him! I love the Christmas Season and all it represents.

Another "Sweet and Sour" week! That's what Sister Hansen, our Presidents wife calls transfer week. Saying good-bye to those we've come to love like our own children and then meeting those new missionaries we will come to love. Back row is Elder Thomson from Hawaii, Elder Lindsay from California, Elder Woodruff, front row: Pres & Sister Hansen, Sister Sorenson and Sister Hastings!

I had to have my picture with Elder Lindsay, my future chef and chocolatier. He's going to open up his own business and have Elder Stringfellow be the fleet coordinator! I hope it pays good is all I can say! He, he! Everyone loved Elder Lindsay because he is such an easy fellow to be around and has a big heart and nature. I told him to check out my blog when he got home so...Hi Elder Lindsay!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful day it was this Thanksgiving morning! It was a balmy 80 degrees at 10:00 am, which by the way, the internet said it was 5 in Utah!!! No worries, by 7:00 pm it had dropped to 60 degrees, so our "cold front" had come through!

We love you all and are so grateful for you and for the love and support you give to us! We love serving the Lord in Houston, Texas and are so grateful at this time to be where we're at, doing what we're doing. We feel the Lord's blessings and His love in our lives and pray that you see and feel His tender mercies in your life also.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2 Zone Conferences down 2 to go

I can't believe how fast all of this is going! I know I really need to savor the moments because who knows if I will get to do this again. I hope I will! This past week was a busy but very rewarding week. Zone conference is always a fun experience, seeing all of the missionaries, hearing wonderful words of spiritual encouragement, feeling the spirit of missionary work, having great lunches (prepared by lots of wonderful R.S. sisters!) and doing our job of keeping the missionaries well stocked in new cell phones! More about that in a few minutes. I want to share one of my favorite parts of Zone Conference. After lunch all the missionaries take down the tables and chairs and help clean up. It's amazing how fast they do that! Then they have all of the ladies who prepared us lunch come out, and all of us missionaries start singing "Called to Serve", both verses, proudly and loudly. I always feel the spirit so strong when that is going on. Then all 60-80 missionaries go and hug (the sister missionaries always hug) or shake the R.S. sisters hands and tell them Thank You. It's just cool!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here we are at the mission President's home honoring Sister Billingsly before she goes home. They invited some couples who live around here and once served with Sis. B, that's why there are so many of us.

Elder Stringfellow didn't think this picture of the phone was very blog-worthy but that's because he didn't have to activate and then change all of the information from one phone to the other 54 times! At least it was over 3 days. The first day it took me 45 minutes to do ONE PHONE. I was a bit worried but then I got the hang of it and did the next 16 phones in less than an hour and a half. All went well. So the next day I was pretty confident that I knew what I was doing. I think I had 18 phones to activate. Oh by the way the 2nd day I forgot the 2 papers that had the instructions on them. I totally had the bluetooth (where you exchange information) down and did that fine, but when I was trying to activate it was a little different but I thought I had done it. Well, we left a few hours before the missionaries for the College Station Zones because we had a 2 hour drive (maybe a little less) back to the office and we needed to get a little work done if possible. We were almost back when I started getting calls that their phones weren't activated. Being the novice that I am I had a major anxiety attack because I had all of the old cell phones with me and didn't know if we needed to have them to activate the new ones and now missionaries were spread out hours apart. I was just a little stressed to say the least. I found out that Sprint had not done their part in the activation process and were able to do it wireless and all was well, but I learned a great lesson. Don't think you know it all because you will find out that you don't!

Elder Stringfellow spends most of his time at Zone conference doing a long check list of things to inspect cars. Missionaries have to have a clean car, fill out their paper work properly, have their gas mileage & receipts filled out and turned in and now need to be within their allotted miles to win the golden hub cap award. It's a highly coveted award (in a very spiritual way of course, he,he)because not only do they get to sign the golden hub cap you see in the picture, but they also get a $20 gift card to Subway! So many cars were within just a few miles that he gave honorable mention awards as well! He's such an old softie! Elder Lindsay and Struthers won the award for the Houston Zone. Sisters Donkin & Maylett were runner-ups as well as 2 other Elders whose names are not coming to me at this moment!

This is the North Zone and the 4 missionaries on the bottom work close to the mission office. The two on the right, elder Sorenson and Austin decided to try bribing Elder Stringfellow with cookies they put under their paper work, they actually came in a close 2nd or 3rd. I think they got an honorable mention.

Sister Billingsly before she left. She lives in the Mesa area and was here for 16 months as an employment specialist. And here is Sister Marsh, the secretary to the President. She served 4 other missions with her husband, Washington DC temple, Korea temple, Philipine temple mission and then one to Africa! Her husband passed away about a year ago and she decided that's what she wanted to do, serve another mission!

Another beautiful Houston sunset as we were driving home from work. Oh I heard that Bounitful got 12 inches of snow last night! Tomorrow it's supposed to be 83 degrees here and I'm back to complaining (not really, hopefully) about how hot and humid our apartment feels at night! They keep saying it gets cold here in Houston but we are enjoying the warm weather while we can.