Saturday, December 31, 2011


I thought that as this new year started and I pondered on the word I would choose as my focus this year that I would choose the word "Love", but the more I thought about it, the more I knew that the word I really wanted was "gratitude".  I have such gratitude each day for the blessings I receive and I am so grateful for my family, and their support and love. I am grateful that I was chosen to serve in this mission at this time in my life. I am grateful for the wonderful people that live in these wards and the warmth and friendship they have shown us.  I am grateful for my companion Kathy Brown and the joy that we have with each other as we serve.  In past years I have chosen words such as Believe, Inspire, Cherish, Create and last years word "Adventure".. So I truly am having an adventure and am grateful for this experience.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Week. . . . .

     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone..  We had a very fun week with lots of different experiences.  We started the week by having dinner at the Hoefferle house.  Kristi is the mom of three boys, 14, 11 & 9.  The elders came to dinner also.. We always have fun at their house.. sat around the table after dinner and talked for a long time.. 

I love working at the desk at the visitors center; answering phones,
 fielding questions, greeting those who come in,
 This is Sister Allen from Gilbert

 Some of the cute sisters we get to work with

 Sister Humbert who left for home in Germany on the 20th and Sister Miller from Murry, Utah
Brother Brewer greets every visitor that comes to see the beautiful festival of lights. 
 He sits outside every night and has for 25 years..

     On Monday we drove up to work in the Visitors Center for the evening.. We really do have a great time there.. The performance in the huge theater that evening was the Suzuki Flutes.. It was a group of 100 young people from the age of 4 to 18.. I have never seen such a variety of flutes before.. bass and piccolos and really long flutes and colored flutes.. The music was amazing and I never realized a group made up of just flutes could produce such a variety of tones and make beautiful music that sounded like a wide variety of instruments in the group. 
 Tuesday we started our day making a list of those sisters we felt inspired to visit and then said a prayer asking our Father in Heaven to help guide us to those we needed to visit that day.  We visited 3 sisters and each one was at a very different time in their life.  Elizabeth, a young mom, of 3 ( 7, 5 & 2)..  We had tried to visit her a couple times before and she was not at home.. She is teaches in Relief Society, and is always there to help and give service when needed.  We had such a great visit and really got a grama fix with the girls, Lindsay and Lia.. Lia the 2 year old was calling me grama by the time we left.  Elizabeth said she was so happy that we came to see her.. Our next visit was with a retired school teacher, that is having some health issues.. When we called and asked if we could come, she was very quick to say yes, please come on over.  We had a great visit with her and hope that our friendship will help her to feel comfortable in coming back to church.. Our last visit was a elderly sister who has moved to our area from the district, because her apt. was broken in to and she didn't feel comfortable living there any longer.  She has full custody of her 15 year old grandson, who is a real handful.. We love to visit her and she was excited to see us.  She said that she had been thinking about us and was about to call us.  We were at her home for about 2 hours and she shared her concerns about her grandson and her health.  She lives with her daughter and so she is confined to the living room.. We were excited as she shared her conversion story with us.. the spirit was so strong as she shared this wonderful experience with us.. We really love to visit with her.  Each of these sisters have different concerns and lifestyles, but the one thing they each need is friendship and love..
     Wednesday is our usual temple day, but Sister Brown had an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to check out her back and so we stayed close to home. 
     Friday we helped Roz Brown the R.S. president of 1st ward sort and distribute food boxes to several families in our ward that are struggling.  We started out on our drive around 10:00 am and drove to our first two families, who lived not far from us.  We were greeted with gratitude by each sister as we delivered their box.  We then headed south to the shore to another visit, but on the way Roz asked us if we had ever been to the National Harbor on the Potomac.. We had not, so she suggested we go there on our way and have lunch and see the area.  We were so glad that she made the suggestion.. What a cool place.. a beautiful area kind of like Kierland in Scottsdale with the addition of the Gaylord National Resort. We decided to eat at the Cadillac Ranch Restaurant.  When we entered we were taken upstairs to our table and when our server Stephanie seated us, she looked at our missionary badges and when she returned to bring us water, she asked us " if there was a church in the area", in talking to her, we found out that she and her husband had just moved to the DC area.  He was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and she was working at the restaurant.    She said they didn't know anyone and that the only place she had been was home and work.. We were excited to talk to her and let her know that we know another couple in our ward that are a young married couple, no children and Arick is also stationed at Andrews.  We are going to get them together.. we told Stephanie and Arick about them at church on Sunday and they are anxious to have them for dinner and get to know them..  After a great lunch we drove to the shore to deliver our last box and had a great visit.  What a fun day. 
 Lunch at the Cadillac Ranch with Roz

   Stephanie Long our cute server with Roz

The Gaylord National Resort

 The lobby

The Large atrium


 Us with Kung Fu Panda.. 

 The view from the back of the resort

The bellman was from Vietnam and so friendly,
we asked if we could take a picture and he said "sure pretty ladies"..

     Saturday, we worked in the visitors center again, it was Christmas Eve and PACKED.. about 5,000 people came that evening.  The performance was provided by the young sister missionaries.  They sang such beautiful, un-traditional  Christmas songs along with a narrator reading the Christmas story.  Wow, such talent.. beautiful voices and a very talented pianist to accompany them. 

     Christmas day:  We attended both wards on Christmas morning and each ward had a special program with music and a special program celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  After church we invited the missionaries in our ward over to give them the gift we had for them.. We asked them what time they got up and they surprised us by saying they got up at 4:30 am . . . . wow they were anxious to open their gifts.  Elder Hurd had talked to his family and Elder Nielsen's family called while they were at our place, so they left so he could have some private time to talk to them.  We then prepared our dishes that we were taking to Bishop Martin's home for Christmas dinner.  We took mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls and pumpkin pie.  We had such a fun evening, the Martin's had also invited the Hughes family ( they are in our other ward) to dinner also.. We ate, played fun games and then opened the stockings they had given us.  We then headed home to skype with our families and open our gifts from them.. What a fun evening.. I felt like I was right there in Steve and Karen's home with my family as we opened gifts.. I got to be on skype with them for a couple hours and it was really neat.. I love them so much and miss them, this made being away from them for Christmas so much easier..  A truly wonderful week..   
     We have one more week working in the visitors center, until next holiday season.. It has been so much fun to interact with the wonderful people we have met there . 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's beginning to feel like Winter. . . .

      This week started off with our Washington DC North Mission Christmas party.. We met at the temple visitors center on Monday morning for our mission picture.  There are 127 junior missionaries and 40 senior missionaries.. After the pictures were taken Sister Matsumori shared a Christmas story with us, then the young sister missionaries sang a beautiful song and then a group of them played in a strings quartet. Both songs were wonderful, what great talent we have in this mission.  After the music President Matsumori shared some stories with us all.  We then watched the movie "Kung Foo Panda 2".  The DVD was flown  from Australia since it wouldn't be released in the US until Friday.. it was so fun to sit and watch with the young missionaries.. they just laughed and laughed and we laughed at them . After the movie we all went next door to the church building for a Christmas turkey lunch.. It was a really fun day and the launch of a wonderful holiday season.
 with President & Sister Matsumori

 Sister Brown and I with Santa

 Sister  Knorr & her husband leave for home in Gilbert, Arizona soon. . ..

     We attended a special Christmas performance presented by Sister Haleigh Vance and her strings students at a local senior apartment complex.  She had students from the age of 4 to 14 and they entertained the residents.  Sister Vance is the bishops wife of the 2nd ward.  She and her students are so very talented and the music was really enjoyed by those in attendance..

      Wednesday was a full day, we started out leaving our apartment at 11:00 to drive up to the temple for our shift.  It was a wonderful day of service, that I always love.  I worked in the baptistery and a young peoples group from a Spanish branch came in to do baptisms.  I was talking to the Branch President and found out he was from Peru.. I told him about my grandson serving a mission in Peru and he wanted to know where Dylan had served and we had a wonderful talk about Peru.. There were 14 young women and 7 young men in their group and they were so cute.. What a wonderful way to end my shift at the temple.  We then went over to the visitors center to see the group that was performing there that evening.  It was "Harbor City Music Company Show Chorus".. They are a group of 60 women, ages 14 to 75 that perform all over, even internationally.  They have won many awards and the music was amazing.. They performed for 45 minutes and we loved every minute of it.  Arrived home about 10:45.. long, fun day.

      Thursday we helped at the funeral for one of the sisters in our ward that had passed away.  She had gone in for open heart surgery and died on the operating table.  We had only met her once and only for about 5 minutes, so we volunteered to help with the luncheon after the service. Selena Thomas was the one in charge of the luncheon and had planned on sitting around 60 to 100 people.. When we arrived at the church and looked in the hall where the tables were set, they had set enough for about 150 to 180 people.. Selena panicked and said if all the seats were filled we wouldn't have enough food.. We assured all would be ok.. she was really panicked. She had worked so hard to get families to donate the food and had prepared the hams, herself.  We set the tables with a salad at each place and waited for the service to end.  The wonderful thing about the luncheon was that all the tables were full and we not only ended up with enough food, but had food left over.. miracles do happen. It was a special day filled with such a wonderful spirit. 

     We have been asked to help the Relief Society by serving on the enrichment committee, and met with the chairman of the committee on Thurs. evening. We are excited to help out and help inspire the sisters to new and different ways with food, with new recipes, and ideas on how to utilize those staples they have at home. We will be responsible each month to come up with snacks or tastings to go along with the theme of the activity.

     It has been a beautiful week, weather wise too. . . mid 60's and high 50's.. until Friday and then a cold snap happened.. the high for the day was 44 degrees and the lows were in the 20's.  They are predicting snow this weekend.  We are on the 3rd floor and our apartment stays cozy warm.. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas at the DC Visitors Center

This was such a fun week for us.
     Sunday evening we were invited to dinner at Bishop Vance's home.   They live right around the corner from us.. They have 4 children and it was fun to spend the evening with them.  Sister Haleigh Vance is a very talented on the violin. She got her degree in Viola Performance at BYU and Bishop Vance got his music degree from BYU.  He now plays professionally in the Army concert band full time, and she teaches violin  They both sang a song that Bishop Vance had written and it was beautiful. 

     We started working at the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center "Festival of Lights".  They not only have beautiful display of lights outside with 500,000 lights on the trees and bushes, and a life size nativity scene. They start decorating the outside in August to make sure every tree and bush is covered with beautiful colored lights. On the inside there are huge trees throughout the building decorated from all over the world. Many of trees have ornaments and dolls from the embassy's in DC from their country.  Each one is so special and amazing.    There is a large room featuring  over 100 nativity sets from different countries.  The Ambassador from Brazil was the featured guest of honor this year that got to push the button and turn on the lights for the festival, so there is a large display of several nativity sets and a large tree honoring Brazil set up in the room.  The tree is decorated with orchids, glitter fish and sea life.. since it is summer in South America the tree represents summer in Brazil.  Each evening free performances are featured in the large theater that seats around 550. Musical talent from all over the area come and perform each night at 7 & 8 & 9.  There are choirs from the local high schools, individual professional entertainers, and various groups.  Some have been performing at the festival for many years.  On Friday night we saw the "Bells of Mt. Vernon".. it is a bells choir of 11 that use 37 bells to create beautiful holiday music.  The theater was packed on all three performances and the music was so beautiful and fun to listen to. Bishop Vance and two of his friends play at the festival in a group called "Trifecta"  they are a jazz group and word is one of the hottest performances of the season.. We were told that it is a do not miss event.. I have posted last years performance on my facebook page. 
      On Wednesday we drove up to the temple in a raging rain storm.. wow, something about Wednesday's and rain.  It has rained every Wednesday since we have been here except "3"..  Thank goodness Sister Brown doesn't mind driving at night in the rain.. so she agreed to drive on Weds.  It takes us about 1 1/2 hours to drive up to the temple, traffic going up at 11:00 am was very good and instead of the usual drivers that think it is the Indianapolis 500 and that they have to dart in and out of traffic going 80 they were great and going 40 to 45 miles an hour. Our day in the temple was great.. we love the people we get to serve with and have such a wonderful time with them.. our shift is from 1 to 7.. and so upon leaving we were told that one of the roads we take back to the freeway was closed due to flooding.. So we got sketchy alternate directions from a couple people.. each had a different idea of which way we should go.. so we decided on one and headed out.. It took us a little while and a couple of detours, but made it to our entrance of the right freeway and started home.. It was raining so hard and for some reason here in DC they don't have lights along the roads or freeways.. so it was black and raining and there was standing water on the roads. The traffic was very cautious and we drove slow as well.  The raindrops were the size of quarters and on the news it said it was raining 3 to 4 inches an hour.. We were very excited to see our apartment and get inside where it was warm and dry..  We awoke on Thursday morning to a beautiful day, sunshine and blue, blue sky. 
     Thursday, we took it easy in the morning and just worked around the apartment, I got my gifts all packed and ready to send out on Friday.  I also baked chocolate chip, coconut, walnut cookies for the 1st wards RS Christmas cookie exchange & Christmas party.  We headed out early afternoon for our scheduled hair appointments.. yeah. We are so happy with the salon we found..  Then at 7 we headed to the party.  Everyone brought 3 dozen cookies and a white elephant gift to exchange.  The party was really fun, a great attendance and lots of laughs as we chose and opened the gifts..  They had a hot chocolate bar to go with our cookie tasting.. We are making such great friends and loving it here. 
     Saturday is our day off, so we are getting last minute things ready for the holidays.. I miss you all, and would love to hear from each of you.. just e-mail me or write or even call.. if I am busy leave a message and I will call you back.. we have a lot of free time and I love to talk to my family and friends..

Have a good week. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A happy GG (great grama)

Malorie is 18 months old now and such a sweetheart
She is talking up a storm and so full of wonderful energy
She loves books and loves to have stories read to her
I love to talk to her when I call on the phone, she kisses the phone and just chatters
She is now the big sister to her new baby sister Delainie
Delainie was born a week ago and is such an added joy to our family.

Delainie McKay Archer
Born November 29, 2011
weighed 7 lbs. 2 oz.

Thank you to my grandaughter Morgan and her husband Trent to giving me the two most beautiful great-grandaughters in the world.  I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful family of my 3 children, 13 grandchildren and 2 precious great grandbabies. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What a wonderful week we had .. We were able to spend quality time with 4 wonderful sisters during the week.
  • Monday: Bonnie Ramon called us in the morning and asked if we could go with her to Richmond, Virginia to see a dining room set that she was looking at. She felt uncomfortable going to the house it was at all alone.  We called President Matsumori and told him we were going out of the state and what we were doing.  He told us to have a great day, which we did.  The drive was about 2 1/2 hours to get there and the furniture was beautiful and Bonnie was so happy she came down to see it.  Her husband was going to go down with her on Tuesday to pick it up.  While we were in Richmond we saw a "Sonic".. and we were all so excited.. yum.. Then we were on our way home and saw a "Hobby Lobby".. we all knew that it was a must stop..  I was able to get a Christmas tree and decorations for our apartment.  We arrived home about 6:00 and we were so happy that we were able to go with her.
  • Tuesday:  We were asked by Linda Cornelison if we liked to decorate and when we said we did, she asked if we could come over to her house and help her decorate for Christmas. We arrived at Linda's house not knowing exactly what we would be doing, but happy to help her out and have a fun day too.  Linda was decorating the tree in the living room and asked us to unload the tubs of decorations in the storage room and showed us where she wanted things put.. On arriving in the storage room we saw floor to ceiling, wall to wall tubs filled with various holiday decorations.  There were about "40" filled with Christmas.. Linda loves Christmas and has made so many of the decorations herself.  We decorated and decorated and finally had every available spot in her home filled with holiday cheer.. She was so happy and fixed us a very nice dinner.. It was a fun day.. we were ready to relax when we arrived home. 

 Linda decorated the tree
 We unloaded tubs, & more tubs & more tubs
 Every available spot is filled with Christmas Spirit
  • Wednesday:  We had a meeting with Elder Olsen, the Director of the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center, before we started our shift working at the temple.  Part of our mission calling is to work at the Visitors center during the month of December.. We talked about our schedule and he told us that we could decide what days and shifts we wanted to work, since we had quite a drive to get there.. We then got to tour the building and see all the wonderful Christmas trees and the room filled with Nativity sets from all over the world. Weds. evening was the opening of the holiday season at the Visitors Center and the lightening of the trees and the temple grounds.. it is a very special event attended by general authority L. Tom Perry & Senators and Congressmen plus dignitaries and ambassadors from the embassy's in Washington DC. After our meeting with Elder Olsen we worked our shift at the temple, which is always a wonderful day..
 Two of the many trees decorated throughout the Visitors center

 A couple of the Nativity sets
  •   Thursday:  We met with a young sister Stephanie Drake, she had called us and asked if we could meet with her for lunch.  We were excited to meet with her again.  We had called on her at her home a couple weeks ago and had a very good visit.. She is in the Army and has just returned from a year deployment in Afghanistan.  She is a specialist at repairing medical equipment.  Her duties while deployed were to keep the medical equipment in the hospitals up and running.. She had great stories to share and we talked a lot about her duties while she was over there.  Her husband Eric is in the Marines and is on the hazard duties detail involving any threat to the President, or the White House.  They have been married for two years and have been have only been together for about 3 months during that time.  We had a fun lunch and then she wanted to do some shopping, so we walked around the mall together.  It was a fun day, I know we were able to answer her questions and help her feel loved.  She is one of 12 children and the only one who is married.  Her family lives in Utah and she really misses them and I think we can help fill the gap..
Stephanie & I at lunch 
  •   Friday morning we were getting started in our morning and had just finished our prayers, asking our Father in Heaven to help us know who might need our help and who we could visit that day, when we received a phone call from the Relief Society President in 2nd ward.  Melody Lusk (a sister in 2nd ward) had just been taken to the emergency room and didn't have anyone who could be with her.. She asked if we could go and we immediately said of course, we will leave right away.  Saint Mary's Hospital was a little over an hour away, and we drove through a lot of Amish countryside.  When we arrived Melody was in severe pain with a debilitating migraine.  We let her know that we were there and that her husband Kevin was on his way.  He works in DC, so his drive would be over 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get there.  They did a cat scan and then brought her back to  her room, that we kept quiet and dark.  When Kevin arrived he thanked us, and was so happy that we were able to be there with Melody until he arrived.  They released her to go home that evening and we are happy for that. 
 Bishop Martin and his kids
 Emily McCammon, Salena Thomas & Elizabeth Amorino
 Roz Brown
 Michelle Parnes
We had Santa & Mrs. Claus to greet the Children
·        Saturday: This was the day that both wards had chosen for their Christmas party.  1st ward held a Christmas breakfast and it started at 10:00.  They served; stuffed french toast, cinnamon rolls, cereal, fruit, sausage and milk and orange & apple juice.  The cultural hall was packed and the atmosphere was exciting.. We ate and then they presented a program featuring different families sharing the traditions they have in their family on ways to keep the Christ in Christmas.. it was a very fun morning.. we then hit the grocery store and stocked up for the week ahead.  About half way through shopping my head started throbbing and so  stayed home from the party in the evening, and let Sister Brown go to represent us.  I really do hate to not feel good.. don't have time for that.. but all is well now. 
  • Today is Sunday:  Attended 1st ward this morning and then this evening we are going to Bishop Vance's home for dinner and then watch the First Presidencies Christmas Devotional..
We start our first shift at the Visitors Center tomorrow morning and I am excited for a new adventure.  We will work there each Monday and Friday during December, and on Christmas Eve. 
I hope everyone has a wonderful week and it is filled with love and the spirit of the season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week of November 22, 2011

Since this was the week of Thanksgiving, we decided that most people would be getting ready for the holiday and so instead of driving and trying to visit during this busy week we called over 65 families in our wards to let them know that we were thinking of them and to wish them a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Everyone was very grateful for our phone call and so well received. 

We were invited to join the Ramon family for Thanksgiving dinner. They are in White Plains 2nd ward. Gary is the High Priest Group Leader and Bonnie is a counselor in the Relief Society. They have been so wonderful to us, and treat us just like family.  Sister Brown and I offered to bring one of our favorite things to dinner.  She made macaroni and cheese and I made stuffing.  On Thursday morning I got up early and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Then chopped the veggies and got my stuffing ready.. It brings back so many fond memories.... it's what I have done for many, many years and it felt so good to cook and remember many fun days with my family.  We had also picked up a pumpkin pie at Costco to take.  In several of the stores here they are selling bags of cinnamon scented pine cones.  We have some in our apartment and it makes it smell so nice and if you have a fireplace they are great to throw into the fire and it makes the room smell like Christmas.  So we bought a bag to take over to Bonnie and Gary to thank them for having us for dinner.  It was a very fun day, 2 of their children were there along with a friend of the family and 6 of the cutest kids all under 5.. It was so nice to have a grama fix and lots of hugs and snuggles from the cute kids.  One little girl, Mia was the exact age of my great-grandaughter Malorie.. So it was fun to see the cute things that she was doing and thinking that was what Malorie was probably doing also.  Dinner was so good and we all filled our plates and had fun conversations around the table. It was so nice to get to know Bonnie's kids and their families.
Me - Bonnie - Sister Brown

 Gary & Bonnie Ramon
 The guys watching the football games !

     On Friday we were invited to drive over to the Chesapeake Bay shore with the Ramon's.  We jumped at the chance to see the Bay.  We followed each other in 3 cars for the 45 minutes to the beach.  It was amazing. . . I just love to be at a beach...I could sit and listen to the waves lap upon the shore all day.  We were looking for sharks teeth but didn't find any, just shells.  I had put a turkey breast in the oven before we left for the beach and the apartment smelled so good when we arrived home.. so we had a Thanksgiving dinner with our turkey and the leftovers from the day before.. Love Thanksgiving leftovers...

 The whole crew on the beach
Sailboats on the Chesapeake
The weather here has been beautiful, blue, blue skies and temps. in the mid 60's..perfect Fall weather as far as I am concerned.