Sunday, January 29, 2012

      This week started with an ice storm.. On Sunday I had to sit in my freezing car and let it warm up so I could put my trusty ice scrapper to work removing the thick layer of ice that was covering my car.. This Arizona girl is getting handy with many things here in on the East coast.  I turned out to be a beautiful day, sunny but bitter cold.. We had made an appointment to visit one of the sisters in the ward after church & decided to go with the Young Women's President Becky to 3 homes.  Becky needed to visit the girls & we wanted to get to know the families as well.   All three of the houses that we were visiting were in Amish communities and we saw "10" Amish buggies driving down the roads as we traveled.. I just love seeing them..
     The weatherman advised all to stay in on Monday morning due to severe ice on the roads, they had closed the government offices and the schools until 11:00 am. So we stayed put and made phone calls and talked to sisters and made appointments for visits later in the week. Tues. the apartment management said that all our apartments would have our quarterly visit by the exterminator and so we waited for them to come.. the time frame they gave us was 8 to 5.. We waited all day and no one showed. So while we were at home I worked on the cards for our 1st wards monthly card group that meets the first Tuesday of each month.  Sister Brown worked on mending the elders pants..
     Wednesday was our day at the temple and we now have a passenger traveling with us each Weds.  It is Kathleen Sponaugle, she asked if she could ride up with us and we thought it was a great idea.. She is excited to be able to go and do work while we are on our shifts..
 The holly tree in the Stevens yard, it was beautiful
Tina Stevens
     Thursday we visited 3 sisters from the first ward. Ann is a mom with 4 kids and is going to nursing school, it has been hard to schedule a visit with her, so we were glad that we finally worked it out.  We next visited Tina, she is a very talented lady. She teaches piano in her home and is taking guitar lessons. She is the teacher in our card group that we have each month.  In their front yard they have a holly tree that is huge and so pretty with the red berries on it.  I had never seen a holly tree before and so it was amazing to me.  Her husband is in the Air Force and holds the highest rank for an enlisted man.  He is the High Priest Group leader in the 1st ward and they are really so much fun. Our next visit was with Sarah.. she is a mom of 4 and her husband is in the military. They are moving to North Carolina in a few weeks.  We have gotten to know Sarah and her kids and they always run up and give us big hugs.  We will miss them. 
     On Friday we visited a cute little sister named Vera. She is a retired critical care nurse and was so much fun to get to know.  She came to church today for the first time in a long time and we were so glad to see her.  We stopped in at the bank on our way to our next visit and a woman approached me and said " well hello sister Harper, it's so nice to see you again", I didn't know who she was and she explained that she had been at the relief society evening meeting last week and really enjoyed our tasting demo.  She just started coming back to church and when I asked her if we could come see her she readily accepted our invitation for a visit. We then went to visit Ashley, who is a darling young sister who just moved back to Maryland from Utah.  She graduated in interior design and is currently looking for a job. She grew up here so it was really fun to visit with her.  One of the families in our ward own a health food store so our next stop was at Country Nutrition, we found some great things and they offered to order some dairy free things for me that I have been having a hard time finding out here.. On Friday evening we were invited to dinner at the home of the Morningstar's.. sister Morningstar is from Spain and met her husband while he was serving in the military there.  They live right around the corner from us and we love to visit with her.  The elders came to dinner also and we were treated to a wonderful meal. 
     Today was so much fun walking into church and being able to greet so many people by name that I met.. I really do love our wards and the friends we have made here.  I saw someone who looked like she was a little lost and stopped to talk to her.. She said it was her first time to our ward, that she had just moved here and so I introduced her to several people before church started and we sat with her.  We are going over to visit with her next week.. We took our day timers to church with us and made several appointments for next week.. yeah !  This evening we were invited over to brother Henrichsen's home for dinner, he also invited 2 of the sisters in the ward and his home teaching companion.  Brother Henrichsen lost his wife in December. When he called and asked us to dinner I asked what we could bring and he said just your appetite.  When we arrived the table was set beautifully.. We had a salad bar first, then salmon stuffed with crab, baked potatoes and peas.. and a fruit compote for dessert.. We were so impressed at his cooking skills.. After dinner we visited Rebekah and her family.  Her husband is in the army and is the equivalent of a senior special agent in the NCIS for the Army.  He had some great stories to share. They have 4 of the cutest boys and a baby girl.  We got lots of hugs and kisses and really helped with our grama fix.
      This coming week we have appointments set already for several visits and evening RS in 1st ward, the temple on Weds. so we should have a fantastic week..

 I saw this quote this week and wanted to end my post tonight with it:

What we love determines what we seek,
What we seek determines what we think and do,
What we think and do determines what we become.      
 Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Whew, this week has flown by. . . . . .

        Sunday the 15th was a special day.. Sister Brown and I had asked the members of 1st ward to fast for Bishop Martin.  He is suffering from degenerative disk disease in his neck and is in great pain 24/7. The spirit was so strong during church service & I could feel the love we all have for our Bishop.  He has been cleared for a titanium joint replacement in his neck and they are waiting for the insurance and the doctors to work it out.. We are hoping it can be resolved soon so he can be relieved of his pain.  We visited sister Eileen Zimmer that evening.. with all the people in 2 wards to get to know we really don't always know who every sister is until they open their door for our visit. Such was the case with Eileen. We saw her at church, but didn't know her name.  We had a great visit & got to know her a little better.       On Monday we helped the Gillisen family pack to get ready to move.  Sister Brown, Janice Gardener & I loaded, books, and books and books.. and lots of craft things and then helped Jennifer pack up her office.. Jennifer is an event planner and works out of her home.. So we now know who to go to when we want a party!

     On Tuesday, we put together the recipe books for our relief society presentation on Thursday evening.  Sister Brown and I are in charge of coming up with tastings each month.  This month we decided to use two things from the cannery & help the sisters learn how to use these foods from their food storage.. We chose re-fried beans and powdered milk.  We asked Terry Prater in our ward to help by presenting things that can be made with powdered milk and she was excited to help out.  We put together several recipes using each of the products we were going to spotlight.. We will add recipes each month using the food items that we choose to spotlight, such as after school snacks, fruit in season, comfort foods, soups, and etc. By the end of the year they will each have a full recipe book of great ideas..
 Elder & Sister Noel, Sister Wege, Sister Larsen, Sister Brown & Me
       Wednesday was our day to work at the temple.. and it was a beautiful sunny day for a change, to drive up.  We had our District meeting at the visitors center prior to our temple shift. Our district is composed of the 4 of us that are the Auxiliary Specialists and the Noels who are our district leaders.  We got to meet the 4th member of our team who just arrived, Sister Larsen from Blackfoot, Idaho.  We meet each month and discuss our progress in our areas.
     Sister Wege is putting together a White House tour for the 6 of us.. We should be able to go sometime in April..
     At the temple I was given a new assignment.. I am now the initiatory director.. I really do love that assignment. I served in that position at the Mesa temple for a year so I sort of know the procedures, but each temple is different so I was trained on Weds..
       As we were leaving the temple I saw someone I thought I knew.. I said "Jodi", she turned around and said "Jean.. what are you doing here".. I have known Jodi for a long time thru the scrapbook industry and haven't seen here in several years, because she moved to Boston.  She moved to DC in July and just happened to be attending the temple on Weds. evening.. It was so much fun to see her and catch up, and we promised we will get together and do some fun things while I am in DC.  She will be going to California next week and will see my daughter Kristan, so she is giving her a hug from me.. what a treat to see an old friend. 

 From left: Mollyanne Margolis, Sister Brown, Me, Mary Smith, Elaine Bowie, Nicole Cusic, Kristi Hoefferle

     Thursday we met with 5 sisters from the 2nd ward for a visiting teaching luncheon at Panera. It was the one way we could all get together.. It really was fun to be with them, we were all different ages and different stages in our lives, but we had so much to talk about and enjoy each others company. We decided to do it monthly..
     Thursday evening was the 2nd ward's relief society.  The theme was "Organization".. we have a really cute sister Melody Lusk, that comes as "Mrs. Bunch-a-hints", she is decked out to look like mama in the Carol Burnett show and she is a hoot.. she shared hints on organization and then we had another presentation from Deanna VanSlyke on her secrets for home organization.. Then it was our turn to share our new "tasting" program.. It went great and everyone love the samples.. For our tastings we did "Hot Chili Queso Dip", using refried beans, Queso is a Harper family favorite and I thought it would be good for a Super Bowl party.. Terry  fixed yogurt with strawberries, sour cream with carrot's to dip, and cream cheese on a cracker, all from powdered milk. Everyone loved the tastings and we felt so good to have completed our first night with a bang.. We then all went into the gym to cover composition notebooks into "joy Journals". what a fun day..
     On Friday we were asked to take a sister Shirley Blake to her Dr. appointment.. We had been trying to get a hold of Shirley for several weeks and we were told she wouldn't answer her phone if she didn't recognize the phone number.. So we were happy to finally get to meet her. She lives in a retirement apartment complex and she said for us to meet her at the front door.  When she walked out, we saw this darling little lady about 5 feet tall.. so cute and perky.  What a joy it is to be of help, and be so appreciated by those we help.  After her Dr. appointment she asked if we could stop at Safeway and we said "no problem".. She took her little cart and zipped around the store.. she really knew what she wanted and where she was going. She promised to put our phone number in her phone, so when we call she will know it is us and will answer. And we are going to visit her next week. 
      Friday evening was our 2nd ward temple night in conjunction with our ward conference on Sunday.  Sister Brown and I rode up to DC with Bonnie and Gary Ramon.. We left early in the afternoon so we could go to the bookstore and then out to dinner before going to the temple.  The restaurant that they took us to was the place they had their first date.  It was a fantastic Chinese restaurant called " Hong Kong Cafe".. the meal was so good.. we shared, chicken chow mien, shrimp fried rice & crispy shredded chicken with carrots and broccoli.  They have a fun tradition when the fortune cookies come.. each one reads their fortune followed by the statement "in the bathtub".. we had a good laugh as the fortunes were read.. The temple session was wonderful, we had a over 40 people from the ward attend..
      We were warned on the news that a severe winter storm was expected on Friday evening.. So we didn't know what to expect when we left the temple to go home, but the storm hadn't hit yet.  The Ramon's dropped us off at our car and by the time we drove the 10 minutes to our place it was starting to spit snow.. when I went to bed about 1 1/2 later I looked out the window and saw that everything was covered in a layer of "white".. I had missed the snow.. It was below freezing so as the mist continued to fall all night, everything is covered in a layer of ice.. the roads were salted so they were ok, but the parking lot of our apartment and the cars are covered in a layer of ice.. We are staying in all day today and will have to go out really early tomorrow morning to make sure we can get into our car and clear it off to get to church.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunshine, Rain, Wind, Snow, Sunshine, Cold, Really Cold

     Well the weatherman here is busy, because the weather seems to change every day.. One day we had 17 degrees and another day 40 mile an hour winds, then sunny and 50 degrees.  It snowed all day on Monday and that was really fun to see, but it was gone the next morning.. It is really COLD out today..high of 35 degrees..
My first snow in Maryland. . .Yes I was excited

      On Sunday we had Ward conference and it was so inspiring to hear the talks by the Bishop and the stake leaders who visited our ward.  We had dinner that evening with Kristi and her 3 boys and the elders.  She made the best chicken pasta dish and broccoli salad.. She asked to boys to choose their favorite things and they really did a great job.  We always have a great time at their house.  They are getting excited because Kristi's husband will be home from deployment in a little over a month..
Tynan, Tanner, Taynan & Kristi
Kristi & I

     On Monday we called 14 numbers and were able to talk to several sisters and got to go out and visit Dorothy. She is the terrific lady who is raising her 2 grandsons.. They are 10 and 4 and so well behaved and very fun to have around on our visits.  The 10 year old Jahar is very talented.. he gets straight A's in school, plays the violin, the clarinet, and is learning the piano.  He loves to give us a little recital while we are there.  Jadan the 4 year old is very shy and finally I have made friends with him and he will sit be me.. He is so stinkin cute..  

      Tuesday we made more phone calls and made 4 appointments, three that we could see on Weds. and one on Sunday.  Several of the sisters were not available for visits and so we had nice conversations with them and told them we would call them again soon.  So Wednesday we were able to visit some great sisters.. first we went to the home of Susie, she has 5 children and is expecting her 6th.. Her husband recently lost his job. He was working for the Navy as a civilian contractor.. So they are busy sending out resumes and looking for jobs.. Their children are so cute and when we drove up, her little girl asked " mommy is it a party"?  We had a great visit with Susie and are anxious to help them in any way we can.  Our next visit was to Kelley our RS president in 1st ward.. It is always so wonderful to visit with her and get her perspective on our work in her ward.. since we are under the guidance of the relief society.. Sometimes people think that the RS presidents, or wives of the leadership don't need to have visits and that is so wrong.  They need a visit just as much as everyone else.. They have a lot on their plates and can get so stressed out with the responsibilities of their callings or their husbands calling and doing so much alone.  So we were so glad we could visit with Kelley.. Our next visit was with Haleigh, the wife of one of our bishops.. when we got to their house, Haleigh was still picking up kids from school and the door was answered by the bishop, so we got to have some one on one time with the bishop, which was really great.  We were able to share our visits and concerns and highlights with him.  It was wonderful to get to have some time to just talk to him concerning our callings.. When Haleigh arrived we had a great visit with her..
Susie Kapeleris & Lori
Haleigh & Sarah

     Thursday was our zone conference.. We had a visit from the area medical advisor and he talked about the things that the missionaries can do to be healthier and then had some one on one time for anyone who needed to ask specific medical questions.  We had talks from Sister Mastumori and Elder & Sister Bleak from the office on apartment cleanliness and car upkeep.  President Matsumori's talk was so motivating and he talked about making sure we are all spiritually prepared and gave us several scriptures to help us in times of trial. 
These are the scriptures that President Matsumori shared with us:
Isaiah 55:8-9
D&C 122:9
D&C 3:10
2 Kings 6:14-18
Abraham 3:24

     These 5 things are what make a successful missionary:  or I think a well rounded person no matter if they are a missionary or not.
Keep your eye on the "Big Picture" 

      While we were at zone conference I got to have my one on one interview with President Matsumori, he is such an awesome leader and so supportive.. He said the nicest things and is very pleased with the pilot program and has received such good reports from our RS presidents and bishops and stake president on how we are touching the lives of so many in their wards.. I always feel so good after I talk to him.. He is truly inspired to be the mission president over the Washington DC North mission and I respect him so much.

     Friday Bonnie Ramon took us on a "surprise adventure", you know I am always up for an adventure.. She took us up to Upper Marlboro, Maryland, about 45 minutes north east of us to the "Dutch Village Farmers Market".  This is a marketplace owned and run by the Amish community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  It is a very large building filled with  13  separate vendors specializing in fresh and delicious meals, produce, dairy products, baked goods, meat market, candy & pastries, furniture, quilts and much much more.  We had such a great time there.. found some great gifts for upcoming birthdays and some things for Christmas next year.. We came home with something from each vendor I think. . . We also had a very delicious lunch there.. What a fun day.. Bonnie is such a good friend and is showing us so much of Maryland..

Beautiful furniture and quilts


Sister Brown

Saturday was the memorial service for a 25 year old sister in our ward who died of breast cancer.  We helped with the luncheon.  We never got to meet Farran but everyone said she was a wonderful girl, so full of life and such an inspiration to everyone who ever met her. 

     The week was wonderful and very inspiring and we are looking forward to next week.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hello 2012

 On Sunday, New Years Day we spent the afternoon at the visitors center, it was slow and so when one of the cute sister missionaries asked us if we would like to go with her to the ward next door while she gave a talk in their sacrament meeting, we jumped at the chance.  It was sister Allen from Gilbert, who I just love and want to adopt her into our family.  She is amazing and her talk was so wonderful.  This ward is made up of  the couples that work in the there are no children, no primary or young men or young women in their ward.. I think I like being in wards that have a variety of families.. but it was fun to see a lot of the people that we work with in the temple each Wednesday.
Sister Allen from Gilbert

            It was really good to be back to our regular schedule this week, after spending the month of December at the Visitor's center most of the time.. We had a great week and are very happy that we are finally getting over our colds.. I guess when you are in the midst of the crowds that were at the visitors center, we caught it from one of those 90,000+ people that visited the center. 

            We had dinner at the home of the Gardeners on Tuesday. Janice is the RS secretary and her husband Dave is serving in the military as a "Watch".. he is responsible for keeping track of what is going on in the world on his watch, by looking at news broadcasts from all over the world.  They have 3 boys still at home and 2 grown sons that are in Colorado.  They also invited the missionaries to dinner and we had a great time. 

            We have been asked to be a part of the committee for the evening Relief Society meeting once a month. Sister Brown and I are in charge of the tasting table.  We are putting together a recipe book and adding recipes each month with the food we are highlighting in the tasting.. for the month of January we are preparing a tasting using the refried beans from the cannery and giving the sisters 5 other recipes using refried beans that they can fix for their families.

            It is so fun to visit with sisters that we don't really know and get to know them better. 
  • Elsie is a  single senior sister who we love to visit, she is the one who is a Washington Redskins fan to the max.  She is really a delight to sit and talk with, she has wonderful stories to share about her life.  Her husband was a weatherman when he was living and they have lived in the area for most of her life.
  • Ethyl is one of our favorite senior sisters to visit.. she is the one who was the high school Chemistry teacher and she is just a hoot..
  • Carol is one we have been trying to visit for a while and she has been under the weather each time we called, so we were happy that she invited us to come over and see her.  She is a crafter and scrapbooker and grandmother.  Her husband is an aeronautical engineer in the military.
  • Jane asked us if we needed any dishes and gave us two sets of very nice white on white dinnerware that she no longer needed.  We were excited to go over and get it since our dish situation was poor.. so now we are feeling pretty up-town with all matching dishes.. You all should come over to dinner..  Jane is the mom to 5 kids, two are married and each have one child, she has a 21 year old, an 18 year old and a 14 year old.  We had a wonderful visit with her.. She is in the card group we go to, but we really didn't know her that well and she is now one of our best friends.. Her husband is in the Army and is sent all over the world to diffuse different kinds of bombs.
  • Lucille was our next visit and we were just inspired to go visit her and get to know her. She is very quiet at church and we knew we wanted to get to know her better.  We met with her and her husband and had a wonderful visit.  It is so wonderful when you are with people outside of church and can get to know them in their own settings and find out just how special they really are.
  • Our last visit this week was with our cute Stephanie, the young wife who just returned from deployment.  She is now enrolled in college again and taking a physics  class.. What a smart young woman and so dedicated to working hard getting her masters.  She is the one who when deployed in Afghanistan repaired all the medical equipment.  Her husband Arik was also there for our visit.  He is in the Navy and protects the president.  We have really adopted them as both of their families are back in Utah..
         Sister Brown has been drafted as the seamstress of the ward and has been mending the missionaries pants and even altered a couple dresses for a sister in the ward.

            Thursday evening was the Relief Society activity for 1st ward.. It was taught by Elizabeth and was a very fun evening.. When we came in we had to write on thing we have on our "bucket list".. and then everyone had to try and guess who had written each thing.. Out lesson was on goals.. those goals that we make daily or weekly or yearly and the different "buckets" in our lives;  our goal bucket, our love bucket, our should bucket.. Elizabeth also read Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8  "For everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven". . . . .  which reminds us that each of us have different goals and different needs in our lives at various times and no ones needs are the same.. what is right for me at this time in my life is just that.. it is right for me, and what is right for someone else is right for them. 

            I am looking forward to next week, every day is booked with fun things and I know I will have a lot to share next weekend with all of you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012

Happy New Year everyone. . . .
Well the holidays are over and now Sister Brown and I will get back to our regular schedule.. This past month has really been fun as we have served in the Visitors Center for the Festival of Lights.. Today was our last shift until next Decembers festival.  Elder Olsen the Director of the Visitors Center said that we broke all records this year, we had 90,000 + people walk through the doors to see the beautiful trees and the nativity scenes from all over the world and of course the evening musical performances.  As we left this evening, it was sad because some of those wonderful people that we worked with will have gone home by the next time we work there, and we made so many friends. 

 Elder and Sister Noel

 Elder & Sister Crowley

Sisters Cardall, Olsen & Crowley getting dinner ready for all the workers 

Sister & Elder Cardall

  • Last Tuesday night at the Visitors Center our Bishop of 1st ward was in a group called "Trifecta".  It is a trio made up of a Bishop Vance on the saxophone, another guy on the piano and one on bass. They are all professionals playing in the US Army Band and the US Air Force Band.  They were fantastic and got a standing ovation.. we saw a whole different side to Bishop Vance..
They played traditional Christmas music with a jazz touch.  They also played an original song the Bishop Vance and his wife Haleigh composed.  She played with them on that song. She plays the violin and the song was fantastic.  They are so talented.
  • Our day at the temple was really fun, we were swamped all day and that really makes the day go so much faster.  I was in the baptistery and we had several youth groups come to do baptisms..
  • A very sad note; we have had 5 sisters pass away this past 3 weeks.. 3 from one ward and 2 from another.  A young sister just 25 years old passed away on Saturday of breast cancer.. so sad.. the others were elderly, but it is still so sad when a family loses a loved one.
I love this scripture and the thought by Pres. Hinckley
"Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you".  1 Corinthians 13:11
"We are all in this together, all of us, and we have a great work to do. Every teacher can be a better teacher than he or she is today. Every officer can be a better officer than he or she is today.  Every father can be a better father. Every mother can be a better mother. Every husband a better husband, every wife a better wife, and every child a better child.  We are on the road that leads to immortality and eternal life and today is part of it. Let us never forget it."
President Gordon B. Hinckley

A beautiful sunset for our last night at the Visitors Center

We are excited to get back to our schedule and work with the sisters all week in our wards.. I hope you all have a wonderful week. 

Washington DC North Mission Christmas 2011

This is the Christmas picture taken of our entire mission at our Christmas party.  I am in the front row to the right of center.. These are the wonderful people we get to serve with and what a joy it has been.