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!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Can you believe ANOTHER "sweet and sour" week?

So...this was a first for me, yesterday, not once but twice, I went to call Elder Steagall and then Sister Bullock about referrals I think it was and realized when I couldn't find them on the phone list that they had gone home 2 days earlier!!! I know it's just another group shot, but to me it's real people who will be missed A LOT! Hermana Taets, we still miss you!

Hermana Rodriguez and Hermana Smart were both transfered to areas that are quite far from the office so we really won't see them as often. I know they were both a little sad and so was I. But I assured them both that we would see them in just a few weeks at Zone Conference which is coming up June 7,8, & 9th. Hermana Rodriguez is going english speaking, she is a native spanish speaker from Guatamala (her parents now live in California and that's where she will go back home to) and she was very concerned that she would forget the spanish language. She hears the english Sisters say that all of the time, but I assured her she would not forget her native language. It will really help her English and benefit her for the rest of her life no matter where she lives. It's really quite the production on transfer day getting everyone to where they need to go. Thank Heaven that Elder Walker loves driving the "bus" to wherever it needs to go.

Yesterday Scott and I were driving along when all of a sudden he says, "hey, look! Free haircuts!"

Only in Texas will you see signs like this. I love how people are not afraid to talk about and show how much they love Jesus. And yet, the crime is unbelievable in the area we live in. This morning we got a call at 6:40 AM that someone had thrown a big stone paver through the Mission Office's front window. Luckily we have a great alarm system that probably scared the person off and the alarm company called the AP's who called Elder Stringfellow. Our downstairs neighbors lost all of their electronics on Wednesday as well, someone broke a window and stole it all in the middle of the day! Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone just kept the 10 Commandments? There would no more be any Nightly News here in Houston!

Senior Missionaries Night at the Astros

One of Scott's "hobbies" is going to major league baseball stadiums. He like the games too! Me, the games are okay but I like the food and the people and the jumbo-tron.... So we had to get to Minute Maid Park and see the Astros while we were here. Scott thinks this was his 17th or 18th baseball stadium. On June 30th the National Anthem is going to be sung by a multi-Stake Primary from the Church, but we didn't want to wait that long, plus Elder Walker is a big baseball fan and they are leaving around June 22nd! That is coming up fast, I will be so sad to see them go! It's amazing how close you feel to those you serve with. We miss the Elders and Sisters every transfer, they always leave a big hole, but it's amazing how the new missionaries come and quickly become a part of the Mission!

MINUTE MAID PARK! We got there an hour and a half early! The roof was closed but just before the game started it opened up! That was cool to see. Unfortunately, the Astro's lost after a 4-0 lead! "They really need to fire somebody!" that's what they always say on Sports radio here in Houston Texas. (I don't listen to that but Elder Stringfellow does every morning as he's shaving.)

Minute Maid Park is right in the middle of the city.

Sister Young, Sister Nance and Sister Christensen

Sister and Elder Walker and Brother and Sister Sulski.

Sister and Elder Buckway. They just got here a month ago. They are Member and Leadership support for the Hearne and Caldwell branches west of College Station.

me and Scott, we've made a pact that we can't go home until we've each lost 10 pounds! Well, I didn't promise anything because I'm going home NO MATTER HOW MUCH I WEIGH...BUT I really HOPE that I'm down 10 pounds. That would be so nice...but aren't we glad that we realize there are a lot more important things to care about.

Every Friday night they do fireworks at the ballgame, they were SPECTACULAR! I just love fireworks, plus we lucked out that night, it was not too hot, it was the perfect temperature for a ballgame.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Abby's Cafe and Bakery

We've been driving by Abby's cafe and Bakery for months now and have never stopped. I've wanted to get a picture of it send to my grandaughter Abby, they were closed and I was so disappointed, they must make everything fresh in the mornings and then close when they've sold it all because it closes everyday between 1 and 2 and we got there 30 minutes late. We'll have to go try again. So here you go Abigail! We sure do miss all of you!

It's Really All About the People!

For Mothers day Elder Stringfellow and Elder Walker wanted to either make us breakfast Saturday or Sunday or take us to dinner, after much himming and hawing, and checking everyones schedules, we ended up at Ryan's buffet in Conroe Satureday evening, thank you so much for your generosity Elder Walker! It is really good food, it's not your Chuck a Rama variety so get ready David and Lisa and Mom and all who are coming cuz we're going to have to go there! I'm so excited to see ya'll in just a few weeks. Don't worry, we've been warming up the place for you! It's been in the 90's for a few days now and I don't think any cooler weather is on the way! (I don't know if that's good or bad!) After dinner at Ryan's we drove over to lake Conroe to walk off some of that good food we ate!

I titled this picture the 3 amigas! such sweet sisters who always check on me to see how I'm feeling and they know what I love!!! York peppermint patties pieces, YUMMMMMY!!! THANKS A BILLION!

Hermana Rodriguez has been wanting to teach me how to make tortillas the Guatamalan way for some time now. I'm giving it a try here, I didn't know they made corn flour that looks just like wheat flour, anyway, I guess they do. The tortillas were "delicioso", "son muy ricos". she also made rice the Guatamalan way which has green beans and carrots in it. I think I'm learning how to cook late in life! Last Tuesday I made pulled pork in barbecue sauce for the Zone Leader Council meeting and then made Cafe Rio chicken for our dinner with the Hermanas. And it actually tasted really good! Here's Sister Donkin learning how to make them too. Fresh tortillas make anything taste good.

This is Sister Fonua, Sister Maxwell, Sister Pincock, Sister Adaoag, and Elders Pliego (Diego Pleigo - cool name, huh?) and Elder Bernfeld (who really wants a name tag that says Burnsfields as a joke!) all up in College Station, which is far away so we don't get to see them too often and I just love every one of them! It's amazing to me how on a mission you feel such love and kinship with those you serve with and those you serve.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Family Home Evening with the Hansens

The last several months the Senior Missionaries have Family Home Evening on the 1st Monday of the month at the mission home with President and Sister Hansen. (we meet together every other Monday night with just each other) Tonight was a very special evening because President and Sister Hansen talked about how their call came about. They had been approached by their Stake President about serving a mission in Puerto Rico to help out a couple in their Stake who was serving there, I think as the President of the mission. Pres. Hansen decided to retire from his job and they put their papers in. Sometime before the official call came in the mail they got a very surprising phone call from President Uchtdorf's office saying that he wanted to meet with them in Arizona. They were stunned to say the least. They told us in depth about that visit. What a wonderful thing to sit at the feet of an Apostle of the Lord and feel of his deep love for God's children. At the end of their visit he told them "thank you very much for your time and all you do in the church." That was about it! A few weeks later when their mission call came, they hadn't opened it yet when they got a call from the missionary department saying, "Don't open your call, please send it back to us." then they didn't hear anything else for 3 weeks or so. (I'm not sure of the timing of the whole thing.) Then they get another call saying, "Can you visit with President Monson via teleconference?" Another "stunning" moment. They visited with him for an hour and a half. It was an amazing experience for them. It was amazing for us just hearing about it from them! This was just weeks before President Hinckley died, the middle of January 2008. That was when President Monson called them to preside over an English/Spanish mission here in the States, they found out later it would be in Houston Texas.

What a powerful testimony both President Hansen and Sister Hansen have of the church, of how much the brethren loves each one of us so much, of the gospel of Christ and just how much our Savior, Jesus Christ, and God our Heavenly Father loves each one of us. This missionary work is because of that love. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this great effort. I feel like I contribute so little but I know that that's okay. By small and simple things are God's purposes brought to pass. I love this gospel, I have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and I know, through personal experience, that if you read EVERY day from that book, even if it's for just 5 minutes, you will have a stronger faith in Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I can re-capture my testimony every single day through prayer and scripture study and studying the words of the latter-day prophets. AREN'T WE SO BLESSED TO HAVE WHAT WE HAVE????


This is our latest "office staff" picture. Left is our new Service Missionary Sister Sulski, from the Olde Oaks Ward right here next to the mission office. She is called for an 18 month mission but lives at home and her husband works his job. She is wonderful, very happy and positive and outgoing, loves the missionaries and will be a wonderful addition to the office. Her son is on a mission in UTAH and left in December so it's fun for her to be able to see what it's like behind the scenes. Sister and Elder Walker, Elder Galbraith and Elder Scoresby, the AP's are also in the picture.

Here's a fun picture of 2 very ingenius missionaries who had a major flat tire far from their apartment so they decided to rig up this "tandem bike" to get home! One of them carried the tire all the way home while the other one steered!

While there's a major drought going on here in Houston area (driest Winter since 1917 and only a trace of rain for the whole month of April, several days in the 90's - they said that was 15 degrees above normal) it's been the wettest April in Utah. April was 250% above normal and they've started sand-bagging, I hear. already preparing for floods! Pete sent me this picture of my tree in the front yard with snow falling on Friday, April 29th. A few days before that were the worst tornados ever recorded in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. I tell you this crazy weather has to be a sign of the times!