Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home

What a great reunion with our wonderful children and grandchildren! Wasn't this such a fun banner on our garage. I should have gotten a better picture of it before it was taken down. I always have so many regrets when it comes to taking pictures! (Even though Scott thinks all I do is take pictures, I always feel like I didn't get the ones I wanted.)
BUT at least we got the most important picture - us with the grandkids! We also had a fantastic barbecue, THANKS for the fun party and Welcome Home Pete, Angie and BJ, David and Angela, and Sarah and Joe. Like Dorothy says: "There's no place like home!"

Abby, Lizzie, Scott holding Elise, Quintin, Eli, Jonah and me!
My children came the Saturday before and scrubbed the house and made this cute banner. I guess a whole army of friends from the ward came and pulled weeds out of the flower beds and garden spot and planted flowers! It looked so beautiful. I will take a picture of that sometime and post it.
Grandma getting to know Missy Elise Kristine Allen! (She was born just a few weeks into our mission)

Hanging out in the kitchen with friends and family catching up on the last year! That Pete, he always has to make a face! We love you Pete! Thanks for doing your best to take care of our house and dog! We were so happy to see Dutch still alive and the house still standing :) PS Pete, the driveway looked FANTASTIC!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Driving Home to Utah!

I can't believe it's been 4 weeks since I last posted! It has been a super busy time rearranging and de-cluttering and de-junking our home! Not to mention catching up with our grandchildren, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. So I will start with our trip home!

We drove home by way of Dallas and then up to the Oklahoma City Temple. We also went and saw the monument they built in Oklahoma City for the bombing victims at the Federal Building, it was so beautifully done. Why is it taking them so long with the 9/11 monument in New York City? Unfortunately, I packed away our charger for the camera and didn't get too many pictures of the trip home. Funny side note, the alarm on our clock/radio that we packed away, kept going off, we finally had to unpack a bunch of stuff to get to it to turn it off. I just figured that it would be fine once unplugged, I didn't realize it had a battery in it!
We spent our 2nd night in Colby, Kansas where we stayed in a hotel that was worse than the Bates motel!!! The next day we drove to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and had a wonderful reunion with Scott's parents. Karen and Kyle and Jayne were there and so was Clark and Wendi's daughter Sydney. It was a very nice and relaxing 24 hours, wish we could have stayed longer! We then drove on to Vernal and saw Dad and Lu. My dad is now in a Care Center and that was very hard to see him there but I know that Lu has done all she can to take care of him.

Beautiful skyline of Dallas, Texas

Our trip was a long drive, about 8 hours each day the first 3 days and then a 3 hour drive to my dad's and 3 1/2 the next day to Farmington. We did stretch it out but it was okay. Unfortunately the Monday before we left I started having some kind of wierd pain in my stomach that we are still trying to figure out what it is. I had such a bad attack in Vernal that we made an appointment with Dr. Hibbard and that was the 1st place we stopped when we got into Farmington. I've had 2 expensive tests on my gallbladder (that's really what I thought it was) but they were both negative and this week I'm having a test on my stomach to see if I have an ulcer. Scott and I have been doing some research and think it might be what they call the "MS hug", let's hope and pray it's not that because I don't think there's an easy fix for that! Luckily it's not every day and it lasts only an hour or two, not all day long like the first day I got it.

Life with MS is always a big unknown adventure!

Here's Sister Carrie's bear watching as we drive from Houston, Texas to Farmington, Utah. Sister Carrie, if you're reading this I want you to know that I love your bear and am taking good care of it for you!
Below is Elder Stringfellow tying Hermana Maxwell's bike to the top of our car! OH HOW WE LOVE AND MISS THE MISSIONARIES!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Beautiful End to a Wonderful Experience

I wish I had a picture to blog about right now BUT my camera is dead and the charger and the cord to put pictures on the computer and packed away somewhere in the car.

First things first! Yesterday morning we had our departing interview with President Pingree and it truly was so beautiful. He is such a loving, caring man and we felt that. He said that he felt impressed to tell us that the Lord wanted us to know that our service was accepted by Him and He was pleased by our efforts. We are so GRATEFUL that we have been able to have this experience together.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Feeding Frenzy!

All of a sudden towards the end of June I realized that I only had a few weeks left to feed all of the missionaries! I wish I could have had them all to my house, BUT I know that they only have so many miles and I only have so much energy. PLUS Scott (Elder Stringfellow)keeps reminding me that we're not running a restaurant here, you know!

1st of July Elders Scoresby, Tobchan, Trotter, & Keliipuleole
5th of July Elders Austin, Schultz, Mackey, Barker, Lewis & Jepson
8th of July Sisters Perez, Brookey, Cramer & Rodriguez
11th of July Sisters Porter, Casaday, Donkin, Coogan, Rivera, Perez and Pacific
13th of July Elders Scoresby and White
15th of July I didn't make this dinner but I got to help Sister Pingree serve dinner to all of the Stake Presidents and their wives, plus the counselors in the Mission Presidency and help clean up. That was fun to help with, Sister Pingree is going to do so great here! But I keep telling her she doesn't need to do it all, she's got to be sure to have people help her! Her girls were a big help cleaning up as well.

July 13 was also my last big group lunch for Zone Leader Council, it was held at the mission home, but that one doesn't really count because Sister Hansen and Sister Howe made the sweet n' sour for our Luau in June and we had so much left-overs that we used it for this meal and only had to make rice and salad. Sister Howe made the dessert, plus we had it at the mission home and it seemed easier for some reason. (Probably because the Howe's were helping with it also, they are our replacements and we showed them everything we do all of last week!) I never thought I would cook as much as I have this past year but I can honestly say I have loved it. There's just something about serving the missionaries who are serving the Lord that makes it just so worth it!

This is Sister Carrie who was baptized the first of April. We have become great friends and she calls me a lot to ask questions and advice. I don't think missionaries are supposed to give advice and I try not to say much but I do try to be supportive of her. She's got lot of adversity and obstacles in her way. I just try to love her. Today she gave me her very old red bear that her god-mother made for her many years ago. I really did not want to take it because it must have been very special to her, but I didn't want to affend her either and I know that she doesn't have much. She will always hold a special place in my heart and I will pray for her always, she represents to me what many people give up to join this church!

Here are the Pingree boys, they are so cute! the younger one is hilarious! At the dinner Friday night one of the Stake Presidents asked him his name and he told him a different one, totally straight faced and then told him he was a few years younger when asked his age! I think he's tired of answering those two questions! At ZLC meeting on Wednesday he kept climbing over the counter several times to get to the brownies, it was just refreshing for those of us who miss our grandchildren so much. It's going to be a little different around here, but different is good!

Elders Moreno, Hill (from Rexburg), Trotter, me, Elder Esplin, Sorenson and Reece. (We have 3 Elder Reeces, soon 2 Elder Trotters, 2 Elder Matthew Curtis', an Elder Segal and Elder Sagal! I know there are others with the same names...you should be the mail secretary, it gets interesting!

Sister Ang and Sister Brookey. Sister Brookey was with Sister Perez but there was an emergency transfer because one of their recent converts fell in love with Hermana Perez and she had to be transfered to a different area!

Here's Sisters Coogan, Rivera, Perez, Casaday, Porter, Pacific, me and Sister Donkin. they are all Spanish missionaries. sister Coogan's parents have disowned her for joining the church and especially for choosing to go on a mission. Sister Rivera, next to her had been working as a Sheriff's deputy in San Diego for 4 years before she came out on a mission! Every single person who is serving a mission has a story of why they are out here! Scott and I have a tradition that after dinner we ask each missionary to share their favorite scripture and to tell us why. It always ends the time with a very spiritual feeling and gratefulness that we get to spend this time serving our Savior as His ambassadors. It's all about LOVE, loving each other and loving our Heavenly Father and his Son.

Sister Cramer and Sister Rodriguez. I am so lucky to have been able to serve with so many fine young men and women as well as a few that were not so young! ;) he,he! I only regret that we are not able to serve with the Pingrees a little longer because they are just so wonderful. I must admit, now that it's closer, that I am getting a little trunky to see my family. I have missed my kids and grandchildren so much. Not being there to be with Angie and Elise at her birth, not being Jonah's preschool teacher, not being able to be more supportive of David and his family with all of his health challenges this past year, not being there for Sarah, and now with Pete moving just a few days after we get home (BTW Pete, congratulations on your job promotion and move to Chicago!) have all been sacrifices to my Heavenly Father but I'm grateful that we got to serve a mission at this time. It's been the best thing we could have done. I HIGHLY recommend it!!! A great BIG THANK YOU to my family and friends for their loving support.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Pingree Introductions

Last week was our first full week with Sister and President Pingree and their children and I am excited to have them here in Texas leading this mission. What a love for the Lord and a love for us the missionaries (young and old a like) they have. President Pingree expresses gratitude ALL OF THE TIME for all that we do.
We heard them speak on the 4th day of the Zone meetings and they still had an enthusiasim for telling about each other and sharing their testimonies of being called as missionaries. I guess I didn't really think about the children being called on a mission, but they were along with their parents!
Sister Pingree gave a great object lesson with 2 missionaries in running jerseys passing the baton. She talked about their differences and the ways they were alike and how they were in the race together working for the whole team. On the back of the jerseys were the names HANSEN and PINGREE and how the one did all he could for the team in running his laps and now he has passed the baton to the next runner to continue the race and he will do his best for the team. That's how I remember it. He had the runner with the Hansen jersey on run as fast as he could for 3 laps and then passed the baton. THEY ARE GOING TO BE WONDERFUL!

Elders Trotter, Moreno and Ordaz with President Hansen. You can just tell how much he loves these missionaries.

This is the Houston and North Zone (can you see me on the front row? I wish I had sat up a little straighter!)

Katy and West Zones

Cypress and Klein Zones

College Station and Spring Zones

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let Freedom Ring!!!

I am so grateful for this country and to all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for the freedom's I have! I am grateful that I can worship who, what and where I want; I am thankful for the safety I feel and for the laws of the land that help keep it that way. I know that our country is not perfect and it's definitely not run by perfect people, but I believe that we are all doing the best we know how with what we have at the time. There will always be those who tear down, try to get a free ride and step on and hurt whoever they have to to get what they want. But I believe that the majority of people just want to love their families, provide for them and live in a safe society. I AM GLAD I AM AN AMERICAN. THANK YOU GOD THAT I CAN LIVE IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY!!!

Fireworks curtesy of the Astro's baseball game we went to in May! There's a major drought in Texas and pretty much all fireworks have been banned this 4th of July! (Except downtown where I don't want to drive and fight the crowds. I'm missing my firework show in Farmington that I can see from my front yard!)

The Last and First Pictures of Presidents!

Just before President Hansen was taking President Pingree to his home, the AP's asked if they could get a picture of the two of them together! I was so glad, some historian I am! I forgot to get any pictures of the change. This church is so wonderful how change happens in leadership positions with much love and good will. Everyone wants what's best for the Lord's work to roll forward. And it will with much faith, love and charity.

What a beautiful family! At our first staff meeting on Friday morning President Pingree stated that the #1 thing on his mind is that the missionaries know how much they are loved; by their Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ, and by my him. Everything we do in the church is done because of love and with love. When the missionaries feel that love then they too teach with love and feel love for their investigators, their companions and for all of God's children! I know the missionaries are going to love President and Sister Pingree as much as they love President and Sister Hansen.

Thank You Sister Hansen for the Flowers

Our sweet Mission Presidents wife gave each of us a beautiful minature rose plant with a very nice thank you note. What a wonderful experience it has been rubbing shoulders with President and Sister Hansen and feeling their spirit and gleaning from their graciousness. We have learned a lot from them and love them dearly!

Above is me with Sister Bowcutt and Sister Sulski. Sister Bowcutt and her husband are taking the Walker's responsibilities with finance and the apartments. Sister Sulski has been here since mid April and is the President's secretary. Below are the Howe's who will be taking over for me and Scott. They are a local couple who have been called as Service Missionaries and will start officially on July 11th but have been to the May and June transfer as well as Zone Conference in June to see what we do. It seems so weird to think about training our replacements next week. I think I'm starting to get a little "trunky"!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Luau without the Hawaii June 18th

President and Sister Hansen with me and Scott. President Hansen served his mission in Hawaii many years ago. The sister who came and cleaned their house is from Tonga and she wanted to give them a Luau for a going away present. She also made Sister Hansen's lei from fresh flowers and leaves, it was so beautiful.

Sister Young and Sister Nance with the Hansen's.

Sister Young and Nance were asked to bring the paper goods, they always decorate the tables so cute! It was very festive. They do the dinner for the arriving missionaries the week of transfers and the tables are always decorated with pass a long cards, Book of Mormons, candy and confeti. When I do meals the missionaries are lucky to get food, I don't do the decorations! I only have so much energy!

President Hansen's grandson was at the Luau, his son Robby and family are going to school in Huntsville so they see them quite often! I am just drawn to little children, I have missed my grandchildren so much and my preschool kids as well. It has been a nice sabatical from all of that but I am definitely ready to get back into the swing of children! But I do have to say that the sister missionaries give as good a hug as I get from any child! I don't ever hug the Elders, unless they're going home, Elder Atwood below and in the middle went home in June and I had to give him a hug before he went, he felt like one of my sons. I think I saw him every day for the last 8 months, he lived right by the office and loved to stop by for this or that it seemed. He's from Raymond, Alberta, Canada and loved to quote Bruce R. McConkie.

Elder Galbraith (the tall one below) and Elder Scoresby (the Assistant's to the President) with Scott and Elder Walker. Elder Galbraith was also near the office for the last 8 months. I've seen quite a few AP's come and go but Elder Galbraith never forgot his purpose! He is a missionary, he didn't really like doing the office stuff he had to do because it took away from prosleyting and teaching. He was ALWAYS HAPPY, if he felt discouragement he never showed it, and HE LOVED HIS MISSION. He goes home in August and was transfered back into the field for his last transfer, he was so happy about that! Elder Scoresby is such a happy young man also! Whenever he comes into the office he always spreads his arms and does this little jump that reminds me so much of when Pete was a little guy and one morning when he woke up he comes into my room and spreads his arms like that and says to me, "I'm up!" It was so cute. I just love my children, even now as grown ups! It will be nice to be back home with them. We have missed our parents so much as well being out here! When you are away from family for a time you realize how important those relationships are. I HOPE with a brightness of hope (2 Nephi 31:20) that I can spend ETERNITY with my family...up and down the line.

Elders Scoresby and Galbraith, President and Sister Hansen, Sister and Elder Walker, Scott and me! It felt so different in the office last Friday because the only one out of this group that was there for staff meeting was Elder Scoresby and us! But the work moves forward! I always say that you know the gospel is true because if it wasn't a bunch of 19 year olds and "Senior" missionaries would have messsed it up a long time ago! BUT IN ALL REALITY, these missionaries out here, young and old alike are just doing the best they can to teach others about Christ as their testimonies of Him grow and as they practice those very things they teach.

Here's me and my friend Sister Walker. She has been so loving and caring to me, I am so grateful for all the friends I've made out here in the Texas Houston Mission . Isn't this quilt so beautiful? the Sisters that went to the Louetta building several years ago pieced it when they built the Houston temple to put in the R.S. room.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Generous Birthday!

I had such a great birthday I need to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who called, skyped, wrote letters or emails, sang Happy Birthday, wrote on my facebook wall, and the person who put the sign on the back door of the mission office telling everyone to come and tell me Happy Birthday, for the birthday cakes and ice cream and and post it notes! I not only got a happy birthday from the FedEx guy, but today when he delivered more boxes he asked how my day went on Monday! A BIG THANKS to my wonderful children and grandchildren for the letters and cards and pictures and loves and hugs (through skype) and the generosity of all of you!!! I felt an out-pouring of love. Turning 54 in Texas was worth it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Zone Conference - A Spiritual Feast

What a wonderful, exhausting week we had last week at Zone Conference. It was so filled with the spirit and beautiful teachings from President and Sister Hansen, the Chappells, (he was just called to be in the Mission Presidency), Elder Walker and even Elder Stringfellow and I got to say a few words. About cars, phones and apartments, but we did get to bear our testimonies of this great work and what a priviledge it's been to be here in the Texas Houston Mission serving with all of this wonderful people, young and old alike. We just finished FHE with the Walkers and Sister Nance and Sister Young. It's really going to be hard saying good-bye, to the Walkers in 2 weeks and then we leave about 3 weeks after that! I've spent the last 2 Saturdays in the office trying to catch up, but I don't think it's going to happen, maybe when Sister & Elder Howe come on July 11th and we're both working on things, We're trying to get a bunch of odd's and ends done before President Hansen leaves and the Pingree's arrive. Definitely sweet and sour. Transfers are happening again next week, a week early so it's not on the same week that the new president and his family come. Wow, I can't believe a year has gone by so quickly. The Lord has been with us every step of the way! You know what? I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and IT IS TRUE, IT'S REAL and WE ARE SO LUCKY TO BE A PART OF IT!!! Enjoy the pictures of Zone Conference. Maybe at a later date I will come back and put in names but I really need to go to bed, I'm still trying to catch up from last weeks whirlwind!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Finally Saw an Armadillo

Just this morning we were wondering who was eating our flowers, there are a herd of deer that live in a thickett just across the mission office, I know they eat lots of plants around your house. BUT now I think it might have been this little fellow! I was so excited to finally see an armadillo. I was afraid I was going to have to take a picture of the dead one that we saw on the road right across from the church near the mission office.

The armadillo was so cool because he was trying to bury himself near the sprinkler but he only buried his nose and ears and then flattened his body some and was very still. Animals are so cool. I miss my dog Dutch!

Oh, by the way, after reaching 103 by noon today we had a little front come through and it sprinkled on us and the temperature dropped to 85! Yeah!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

God Does Watch Over His Missionaries

I don't have any pictures for this week! But I still wanted to post something to remind me of how much God watches over his missionaries. Friday morning right after our staff meeting a total stranger called Sister Hansen to say that she was at the scene of an accident where two missionaries car had just been hit and ambulances were on there way at that moment (we could hear them in the distance). Elder Struthers and Elder Morgan were going 50 on a highway when a car pulled out in front of them. They totally t-boned it. The airbags didn't go off, which you wonder if that was a blessing or a bad thing. Elder Struthers head hit the steering wheel and he got a bad gash on his forehead and he spent several hours waiting to have a cat-scan before they could stitch it up and Elder Morgan's chest hurt but X-rays didn't show anything. They were both blessed that they weren't hurt worse. When Scott saw the car (he had to track it down to get all of their stuff out of it) it just made him sick because the whole front end of the car was pracitically gone, there was blood and glass all over it. Tender mercies and miracles every day!

It's going to be a busy week with Zone Conference Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I've been scurrying to get the newsletter done so we can print it tomorow to give out at the conference, there's always so much to do...and that's a good thing.

My health is doing great, another tender mercy. Especially considering the weather this past month. The greater Houston area is in it's worst drought and heat spell in 75 years. For the past 2 weeks it's been in the upper 90's and reached 100 a couple of times. I just heard that at the airport for June 5 there was a new record. 105 degrees!!! And I have been feeling pretty good, the numbness in my legs is pretty much gone, occasionally I feel it, but nothing like Aug -March! So THANK YOU HEAVENLY FATHER.

My dad is still struggling with being in a care center and my heart not only goes out to him but to his wife Lu as well, I really think this has been harder on her than him and I acknowledge how disappointing and difficult it has been for my dad! Life is so complicated most of the time, no matter how old or young you are.

Next week I'll have lots of fun zone conference pictures on the blog!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We had the best Memorial Day weekend! But 1st I want to say: THANK YOU to all those who fight for our freedoms and to their families who sacrifice so much so that they can. We can NEVER repay you for what you have given all of us here in this great land of America!

Mom and Stormy flew here from Boise, Idaho and my brother David and his wife drove down from Kansas with their boys Dayne and Jordan and with daughter Jade and husband Brian and their little guy Ammon! It was so great being with family! I love you Mom, I am so grateful for the love and support you've given us on our mission.

Our wind-blown hair-dos before we got wet! (This is the beach in Galvaston! You have to walk through all of that sea-weed to get to the water, good thing we didn't want to go swimming!) We got very wet on the ferry ride we took when I was just going to have the spray cool me off and a big wave came over the side and I got sopping wet! ( I didn't post that picture.)

Stormy Banks, recent graduate from Timberline High and future student at U of I in Moscow Idaho! You are so patient to put up with our very hot weather and grandma beating you at the last second in a whopping game of Yatzee! A yatzee on your very 1st turn of ever playing the game is pretty lucky! And we were lucky to get to spend some time with you! (But we really missed you Lisa and Mike!!!)

We had such a great time at Courtney and Carman's home, what great hosts they were to all 23 of us who crashed at their house (luckily, that does include their family). It was something that Courtney told us about that inspired the title of this post. He had just returned from 6 weeks of training for the Air Force where he had heard a presentation from a man who had spent 6 YEARS in a POW prison called the Hanoi Hilton. He said the main thing he took away from the experience is that the things that matter most in life are FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS and FUN.

I loved that, I have learned that for myself this past year. I truly am so grateful for my faith in my God and also in myself and others around me, my family and friends who are such a blessing in my life and I thought that was interesting that he would pick the word fun. Probably because it started with an "F", but truly to be able to enjoy, finding joy in the journey, no matter what you are going through is more than half the battle. Thanks again Courtney for the wonderful example you are to all of us!

Torrey, you need to be thanked also! What a service you gave to all you worked on all weekend, you do have a special gift and we are grateful. I'm sure you would have liked to be able to relax all weekend too but that was so nice of you share your healing touch.

Brian and Jade, it is so fun to see you parent your child. That Ammon is so cute and what an out-going guy he is. It helped me not miss my grandchildren so much when I got to hang out with him and Gabe and Cole. Thanks for making the effort to come and see us!

Here's the 3 amigos! 2 year old Ammon, 3 year old Gabe and his cousin 4 year old Cole. Ammon really kept up with the "big boys"! It was so cute to watch them play.

Here's the whole crew after church on Sunday!

I think Scott and I found a fixer-upper if we ever want to move to Galvaston! It's definitely seen it's share of hurricanes! Pete, we found you a place to live in Texas! No worries, the beach is right behind it!