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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them     
John Fitzgerald Kennedy:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week "9"

     What a fun week I have had.  I have been in love with Amish novels for the last few years and have read about 40 or so.  We live near Amish communities and on Monday, Bonnie Ramon a friend in the 2nd ward invited us to go with her for a tour of the Amish areas.  As I said in my last post, we had a great time.    

 On Tuesday Sister Brown was down and out with a migraine, so I ventured out on my own over to Bonnie's home to help the Relief Society with the stars that they were giving everyone who attended the Holiday party on Thursday evening.  It was a fun day, talking and visiting and creating these cute paper 3D stars.  We finished about 45 of them. 

That evening we drove down to Indian Head to have dinner with Roz Brown, the Relief Society President of the 1st ward. Indian Head is about 45 minutes south west of us, near the Naval Base. When we arrived at the condo of Roz, we loved it.. It was so cute and decorated beautifully. She loves to cook and we had chicken broccoli casserole and salad with greens and poached pears and goat cheese. She is so much fun to be with and we had a wonderful evening. After dinner we discussed our visits with the different sisters and she gave us information on many new sisters that we can go see.
      Wednesday was our day at the temple and guess what?  Yes it was raining.. no not raining it was pouring.. We had a meeting to go to before we started our shift at the temple so we started out early and it took us over 1 1/2 hours to get to the temple.. but once there it was an amazing day.  I worked most of the day in the baptistery and was so happy to be there when a brand new member came in with her friends to do baptisms.  She was nervous and excited and I walked her through what would take place and what she would be doing.  She was so cute and it was so fun to see the joy in her eyes as she stepped down into the font.  When she was finished I was talking to her and asked her how her first day at the temple was and she said it was wonderful.  I told her that when she got home to write down about her experience in the temple and how she felt, so that she could look back and always remember this day.  She gave me a big hug and we both had tears in our eyes as she left.  What a wonderful spiritual experience for both of us.  The drive home in the dark pouring rain was a little scary.. traffic was heavy and with the pouring rain you couldn't see the lines on the road.. but we made it to our favorite restaurant the "Bonefish Grille" for dinner and were able to relax and enjoy a great dinner..
       Thursday was the 2nd Ward's Relief  Society holiday party.  Sister Brown and I went over to the church early to help set it all up.. The tables were set with green tablecloths and beautiful contrasting runners.  In the middle of each table were large round bowls full of bright Christmas balls.   Our dinner was catered from Panera Bakery and very good.  It was 3 different kind of soup and salad and great crusty french bread.  They had cream puffs for dessert.  After dinner we went into the gym and sat in a big circle about 45 of us and had a very fun gift exchange.  We each brought a gift  and then each of us drew a number and we took turns choosing a gift or stealing one that was already opened. Our gifts were suppose to represent something about each of us, so I took a box of homemade cards as my gift. I opened a very cute holiday wreath that looks great on our wall. 

       The weather has gotten very COLD, 27 degrees at night and a high of 46 during the day.  So we get all bundled up when we go out.. I get to wear the new coat I bought here a couple weeks ago.. It is so funny to see coat racks in the church buildings here, because we don't have them in Arizona..
     Saturday I went out and did a little shopping.. I need to get my gifts off to my missionaries, so they arrive in time for Christmas.
      On Sunday after our church meeting we drove up to the temple for a special holiday fireside.  It was for the temple workers and we met on the 7th floor of the beautiful DC temple.   This huge room looked like the conference center in SLC only in off white and gold.. It was so awe inspiring.  There were about 1,800 to 2,000 people there.  There were 5 speakers: The new temple President Swinton and his wife and 3 area representatives, Elder Smith, Elder Lansing & Elder Gerrard.  In between the speakers we were entertained by the temple choir.  The music was so beautiful.  We sat with Bishop Martin and Sister Martin of 1st ward and when the devotional was over we asked Bishop Martin if he would introduce us to Stake President Sakai.. President Sakai saw us and came running over and said, "Oh I am so happy to meet you two".. He is so very nice and so pleased with the work we are doing & how well our mission is going.. It was very nice to meet him.  He invited us to a family home evening in December..

Have a great Thanksgiving.. I am so thankful for all of you. . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amish Country

Yesterday, our friend Bonnie Ramon from the White Plains 2nd Ward invited us to go with her to the Amish community that is around our area. 
I was so excited, for a couple of  reasons
 I have been reading Amish novels for a few years and have grown
to love the Amish people.  
Also to spend some special time together and get to know Bonnie better. 
Plus to get to interact with the Amish was exciting to me.
We first stopped at a cute store called "Everything Amish", and I found some great Christmas gifts. The store was filled with beautiful handmade furniture, hand sewen quilts, and other items. it was so much fun to see all the handcrafted things.  Then we drove around the countryside and stopped at a roadside stand owned by the Yoder family.  They had all kinds of wonderful produce and baked goods and home canned jams, jellies, pickles and fruit.  I bought some yummy cookies, oatmeal raisin and snickerdoodles, some home made oatmeal bread and whole wheat bread, a bottle of pickled beets and some elderberry jam.  Also bought an Amish cookbook.  The two ladies in the booth were Barbara a younger girl and Anna Yoder an older lady.  They were so nice and we had such a fun time visiting with them. I knew I couldn't take a picture of them but I asked if I could take a picture of their horse and buggy and they agreed.  Anna gave us her recipe for coconut cream pie.. I will have to get it from Bonnie who wrote it down and share it with all of you.  While driving down the road we saw a horse drawn buggy.. I wasn't fast enough to get a good picture of it, but was excited to see it.  November is the wedding month and I was told that most of the Amish were preparing for the weddings in their families during this time of year. 

 An Amish farm.. So well attended and maintained.
We are going to go out again soon and visit some more locations and I am sure during the time I am here in Maryland I will have the opportunity to see and visit with many of the Amish.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Busy. . . Busy . . . Week

The cute cabin of Rachel Oniones that we visited on Friday

Amazing trees that caught my eye this week
Zone conference; all the sisters in our zone with Sister Matsumori & Sister Kearon
Elder Patrick Kearon of the First Quorum of the Seventy
the visiting authoruty at our Zone conference.
Mangled pieces from the twin towers of 9/11
The tall ship "Constellation" moored at Baltimore Harbor
Us with the Murdocks from Utah
At Fort Mc Henry

My nephew Chris, he lives in Baltimore and was able to come spend an hour with me at the Fort.
A replica of the flag that was flying the night that the "Star Spangled Banner"
 was written by Francis Scott Key

What a fantastic time we had this week.. Every day was filled to the brim with activities and spiritual events.
  • Monday started off with our planning meeting and deciding which sisters we would visit this week. We scheduled 9 from each ward to call on.  I started making phone calls to see if we could come over to visit and only 2 calls were answered..of the 19 calls I made,  and one of those wanted to know who was calling because it comes up as unknown when we call from our mission cell.  In talking to several people this week they all admitted that they do not answer the phone if unknown comes up as the caller.. So we have to get the wards to put our phone number in the program and ask everyone to put us in their phone so we can get in touch with them.   So that day was discouraging to say the least.  Of the 2 that answered only one was available for us to come visit. It was a wonderful visit.  She is a sweet lady in her 80's who has lived in the area her whole life and my son-in-law Don would have loved to visit with her, because she is a die-hard Redskins fan. 
  • At the temple on Weds.  I was working in the baptistery helping a group of young men and young women get ready for baptisms.  One of their leaders came up and I was talking to him and he asked where I was from and I said Arizona and  he asked if I knew any Neil's, I said yes I did and then he said, do you know Betty and Scotty Neil.. Wow.. I have known them since 1973.. and then I discovered that he is the cousin of Scott Neil.. His name is Jay Nair and it was so much fun talking to him.  I got to work all over the temple this week which was really fun and one of the areas was as a greeter.  The DC temple has a long corridor after you check in that has floor to ceiling windows the entire length of the area.  I got to sit in their for an hour and look at the beautiful trees in all their splendor of reds, gold's, yellows and many shades of green.  It was so beautiful and peaceful and very spiritual..  We leave the temple around 7:30 in the evening and drive thru a park on our way to the freeway.. as we were driving Sister Brown said "deer, deer, deer" and I looked and standing right next to the roadway was a fawn looking right at us and it was so amazing. Then about a minute later it was "deer, deer, deer" again.. Wow I was so shocked to see them so close, everyone says that there are deer everywhere here and we have seen them a ways away but never this close. 
  • On Thursday we had Mission Zone Conference with Elder Patrick Kearon  of the first quorum of the seventy and his wife Jennifer.  The elders in our wards asked if they could ride up with us, so we had a car full.  It started at 9:00 and before the meeting started Elder Kearon, Sister Kearon & the Matsumori's stood in a receiving line and we each got to meet them and shake their hand and give Sister Kearon a hug. Then everyone stood and sang "Call to Serve".. it was so moving.. to hear 150 young elders and 15 young sisters and the others sing this song with such enthusiasm that I couldn't sing, I just cried as I felt the spirit wash over me as they sang. Then President Matsumori and Sister Matsumori both spoke and then the  Kearon's spoke.  It was an amazing day, and we learned many things to help make our mission more meaningful and productive. Sister Kearon asked all the sisters, both young and senior to meet with her when the meeting was over and she shared some thoughts with us and we had a picture taken with her.   It lasted until 4:00.. What a wonderful day.   
  • On Friday, Sister Brown and I prayerfully laid out our day.  We decided to go to the part of our mission called Indian Head and call on a few of the sisters who live down there.  It is about 45 minutes from our apartment.. We drove through beautiful countryside to get down there.  We got to see all the sisters that we had on our list that day which was wonderful.  Two that stood out were:
  •             Sister Stephanie Drake, she has just returned from deployment in Afghanistan.  She and her husband are both in the Air Force. Stephanie repairs medical equipment & Brother Drake is assigned to special duty to guard the President and make sure that he is kept out of harms way.  They were both there when we visited them and it was such a wonderful visit.  They shared some of the things they had been doing, showed us pictures of the Marine Ball that they had attended the weekend before and told us several facts about their duties.  It was a great visit.  
  •             Our next visit was a darling sister who just had a baby, and lives in the coolest log cabin in the woods.  I loved it as we drove up to her house and saw her house, it was so neat.  She is alone all day and has no car and living so far out in the woods.  She was so happy that we came to see her and we loved being able to spend time with her and baby Elizabeth.
  • On Saturday our senior group of missionaries had our monthly field trip.  We went up to Baltimore to Fort Mc Henry.  This is where Francis Scott Key was when he wrote the "Star Spangled Banner".  The fort is right on the waterfront and it was a beautiful day as we toured and learned all about the history of this historic battlefront.  My nephew Chris Harper lives in Baltimore and he was able to come and spend about an hour with me there, which was a highlight of my day.  After we left the Fort we went to the Harbor for lunch at Uno Pizza.. Our table was right by the window, so we could see the waterfront and downtown too.  We walked around the harbor after lunch and I loved to be near the water. The tall ship the Constellation is moored there.  They have a memorial dedicated to the tragedy of 9/11 in front of the Baltimore Trade Center.  It has some large pieces from the Pentagon and a huge piece of twisted metal from the twin towers.  The city also erected a large monument in honor of the men and women of Baltimore who died that day.  
  • Today we were able to attend the baptism of Jasmine and Michael Wallace.  They are the children of a family who are just getting re-activated in the church.  The room was full with those who were there to support the Wallace family.  It was a very special day. 
I am so very thankful for the love that we feel in the wards we serve in.  Everyone is so loving and thoughtful.  We feel so at home here and love each day that we can serve in this amazing mission.  Tomorrow one of the sisters is taking us to Amish country and I am so excited.. Since I love reading Amish novels.  May the Lord bless each of you and may you have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My letter home this week:

Sunday November 6, 2011
Hi all,
We had a great week this week. Lots of different things dotted our days. 
·      My companion  hurt her back and she is in great pain. She was able to get into a doctor 2 days for treatment and going again tomorrow,she is feeling a lot better.  The elders gave her a blessing, which was so beautiful and tender.  It was Elder Kinne from Prescott, Arizona.
·      We drove down to Indian Head(about 45 minutes south west), for our monthly "card club".  We are instructed by a Stampin Up rep. we made two cards  and then we exchanged the cards that we each prepared.  There were12 there, so we got some very cute cards.. We make 12 to trade and take 12 home..
·      We were able to help a sister out this week that can't drive.  We took her on her errands to the bank and grocery store.  She was so grateful for the help.. she was having to take taxi's to do these errands and she is on welfare and really couldn't afford that. So we are glad we can be of service to her. We will pick her up each month on the 3rd, the day she gets her check and drive her where she needs to go.
·      Our two wards take in the southern 1/3 of Maryland, so we drive a lot each week.. It really is beautiful and we love the drives.  On Thursday, we drove down to a small town called Mechanicsville to visit some sisters. It is a beautiful drive down.. We saw a sign that was something like"admiral way - water drive". So we knew we had to take that road to see where it led.. We drove by beautiful homes that each had their own docks and at the end of the road, a beautiful park with a long pier that stretched out into the water about 2 blocks.. There was a fisherman down at the end of the pier, so we walked to the end of the pier and I asked him "what body of water it was" he said "it is the Wicomico River and it empties into the Chesapeake right around that bend"  it was so peaceful out there and I loved it.  This Arizona girl loves to be near the water..
       We visited several sisters this week and loved each and every one. Each one is so different and their needs are different.. Some have illness, some are lonely, some just need a friend, some need service rendered.. We love to sit and visit with each one.  This week at church we met some of the sisters that we will be visiting this week.. One sister has stage 4 lung cancer, we went to her home last week but she wasn't feeling well so we will try again this week.  Several of our sisters have husbands who are in the armed services and are deployed and need all kinds of help. 
·      We drove up north of DC on Friday to meet with our mission president. President Matsumori is such an amazing man.  He gives such wise counsel and we really do enjoy our meeting with him always. He is very pleased with the success of our pilot program and the progress we are making in our two wards..
·      When you drive around DC, unlike Arizona or Utah, they don't have frontage roads beside their freeways.  We were driving along and our GPS said to stay left at the next fork in the freeway and then to take the next left, which was about 1/2 block away and across 6 lane of traffic.. Needless to say we missed that turn.. which then resulted in our drive through Bethesda, Dupont  Circle and downtown DC.. wow the traffic here is crazy.. They drive so FAST. . . weaving in and out of traffic at speeds of about 80 mph. 
·      The weather has been beautiful. .. I have my window open at night and sleep under the covers and during the day,it has been in the high 60's and low 70's.. just wonderful.
·      Found a fantastic salon upon the recommendation of a few cute sisters in our ward and were so pleased.  The best haircut I have had in a long time..Love it so much.
·      We were invited to dinner tonight at the Hoeffelies.. Kristi and her 3 boys have adopted us and we just love them.  Her husband is deployed, he is an officer in the Airforce. He is stationed in an un-disclosed area and cannot tell anyone where he is stationed.   The Elders were also invited along with a family from our ward.  It was really a fun evening.
·      This week is transfers for the elders and we know that we are going to lose two of the great missionaries that we have in our wards.  We have been close and developed a great friendship.. It is always tough when transfers come and missionaries are shipped to new areas.. Sister Brown and I are very lucky, we will be together the entire time and we will be in this area. 
We are loving it here and making many friends, each week just gets better than the last.  I hope you all have a great week..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's November

It's November and the weather is gorgeous, here in Maryland.  We are having perfect fall weather and enjoying it every day.  We can have the slider patio open during the day and I even get to have my window open at night. 
 We have several ponds in our area and the Canadian geese are in each of the areas around the ponds.  They fly between the ponds and I love to hear their calls as they fly overhead.  One day as I was driving out of our apartments I had to stop and wait for the geese to walk across the road, and they were in no hurry.
I had to share this darling picture of Malorie, my great-grandaughter that was taken this week by my daughter-in-law Jamie.  She is 18 months old and so sweet.  When I call and she is there and I ask to talk to her, she looks at the phone and sees my picture and just kisses the phone.. I really do miss her.

This is the view that we see each week when we drive to the temple from the freeway.  It is so neat to see the temple so beautiful  right in front of your eyes as you drive down the freeway.  The traffic alerts use the temple in their reports when they talk about the traffic on that section of the freeway..

This is the view we see when we take the freeway to the mission office..
So awe inspiring to see the nations capitol up close.

These are the cute brownstones in Georgetown that we drove by after we missed the off ramp on our way home from the mission office on Friday. .. So we are seeing a lot of  Georgetown, Bethesda, Arlington and Washington DC, as we miss one off ramp or another.. 

On Thursday we drove down to visit sisters at the southern end of our mission. It is the tip of Maryland and we saw a sign that led us down to the waters edge.  We parked and walked out on the long pier.  I talked to a man who was fishing off the end of the pier and asked which body of water it was and he said it was the Wicomico river that empties into the Chesapeake around the bend.  It was beautiful there and the homes all had their own private docks off the back of their houses.

These are the other 2 elders in our wards that we serve in.  Elder Karlinsky and Elder Goodman.  Elder Goodman is from Tucson .  Transfers are this coming Weds. and I know that we will probably be losing 2 of the elders and getting new ones.  We have gotten so close with these 4 and will really miss whoever gets transferred.