Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's cherry blossom time. . . . .

     Monday's are the day we "prayerfully" plan our weeks activities and call to set up appointments for the coming week.  There are several sisters that we have been calling each week since we arrived to try to go visit and each week we leave a message and never get a return call.. this week was different we received calls back from 3 of the messages we left and set up appointments to visit these sweet sisters.. we were so excited to finally be able to get to know them.  We generally make from 15 to 20 calls to set up our appointments throughout the week and get to talk in person to very few and almost hardly get any return this was very special.
     What a great week we have had back here on the East coast.. the weather has been beautiful and the flowers and blossoms on the trees are spectacular.  One day we went with Pat Gourley (our cute little 80 year old friend that lives down by the river) to visit the Charlotte Hall Veterans Hospital.  Pat and her husband visit there quite often and she wanted us to go with her for this wonderful experience.  It was tough for me, as I remembered when my own dad was in the Veterans Hospital in Idaho.. and also tender memories of Kent in his last weeks that he was with me.  But I am glad that we could go, since is meant so much to her. 

     Pat asked us if we had a few minutes to go with her on an errand and we said sure.. She took us to the Amish farm of the Byerlie family... WOW what a cool experience.. Pat goes there to get embroidered handkerchiefs to send to friends and family.  Katie Byerlie and her husband have a small store attached to their home that sells fabrics, household needs, small hand tools, and scrapbooking supplies.. can you believe that.. well I was in heaven and picked out some great things that I hadn't seen before.  Katie was feeding the brand new "kids", (baby goats) and I asked if we could go with her and watch, she said we could help her feed these 4 little live wires.. we each took a baby bottle and started feeding our kid.. mine liked to butt his head and jump.. it was really fun.. while we were there a buckboard pulled up with 6 of the cutest children you have ever seen. They were coming back from school, and each boy had on his straw hat and the girls had on their bonnets.. they were darling.. On our way to the farm we had passed an Amish farmer plowing his field, with "6" big horses pulling him on his plow.. I really do love the Amish and love to see the simple life they live.. In our new area it is really all out in Amish country..  

 The Byerlie farm

 The kid I got to feed

     We had a planning day with our new Stake Relief Society President Bonnie Ramon, discussing our new assignments and talking about ideas and concerns we had.  We will be starting in our new wards the Lexington Park and the Patuxent on April 15th.. since the first week in April is General Conference and the next week is Easter and Bonnie wants to go down with us on our first Sunday there. 
      It was a beautiful day on Weds. as we traveled to the temple.  We met with our district at the visitors center for our district meeting before our shift.. There are only 6 in our district and so it is very personal and we each get to share some of the highlights of our visits with each other and feel of the wonderful spirit that is present in these meetings as we talk about our service.  We also discussed our up coming White House tour on April 14th and made the plans to meet and ride the metro together.. We get to have both a West Wing and an East Wing tour.. which should be so much fun. 
     The temple was busier than usual which was wonderful, I love to keep busy as I work there.  I just love the friendships I have with the sisters I work with.  They are all so fun and we really do have a fantastic time together.  
      We were invited over to Kathleen Sponaugle's home for dinner on Thursday and she is really a good cook and puts out a fantastic spread each time we are there.  Kathleen is the one who rides with us to the temple each week and since we won't take any money from her for gas she has us over for dinner each month.. fair trade, I think.  She and her husband Robert are such caring generous people and we really enjoy our evenings with them. 
     We got to visit Shirley this week (she is one we have been trying to see for a long time). She suffers from Pulmonary Hypertension and so she has ups and downs with her health and it effects her coming to church, and she hasn't been for quite a while.  After our call she attended not only the Stake Women's Conference last Saturday but was also at church on Sunday.  Shirley is a first grade teacher that had to quit when her health problems became an issue.  She has never married, so her students were her special children.. We had a wonderful visit with her and she opened up so much about her past and what she is going thru now.. It is so sad to see someone so loving and wonderful knowing that she may not live long.. She is so excited that she is getting her temple recommend and going thru the temple soon.. We were so happy for her and can't wait to share that special day with her.  She said that she needs both a heart and lung transplant and the prospects aren't good.. Shirley lives on our way to our two new wards that we will be serving in for the next 3 months so we told her we would stop and visit often.. What a beautiful, spiritual day it was spending time with her..

    Our next special visit was with Tammy, she has been on our visiting teaching route for 5 months and we have left messages and sent cards and still haven't been able to visit with her.  We finally got to meet her when we attended her mother's funeral last month.  We introduced our selves and she was very excited to meet us and when we asked if we could visit with her she was very positive.  We met for breakfast and had a fun, wonderful visit. She works for a patent litigation law firm in DC and works long hours.  She and her husband have been working on weekends to get her mom's home cleared out and ready to sell.  So she has been really busy.. She shared some wonderful stories about her mom and I know it was really good for her to be able to share those stories.  She agreed to meeting for breakfast again soon.. which we are so excited about.. we will still meet with her even after our assignment changes...

     It is the "Cherry Blossom Festival"  and that is the one thing everyone said was a must see when they heard I was going to DC. So on Thursday, Suz Martin (our fantastic tour guide) took us to see the blossoms.  WOW.. they are amazing and so breathtaking..(I will have beautiful pictures on my blog). We arrived in DC around 9:15 and found a fantastic parking place and started walking around the Tidal Basin.. The weather overcast, so the walk was very pleasant.  Took lots of pictures and then we started to visit the monuments and the different memorials that are housed around the area close by.  We visited the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, & The World War I Memorial. We then took our sack lunches to a cute little sidewalk cafe and people watched while we ate our lunch.  After lunch the sun came out and it was warm and sunny so we decided to see if there were any tour tickets left for the Holocaust Museum.. I wasn't sure about it, but sister Brown and Suz wanted to see it so I went.. I am so glad I did, what an amazing piece of history.. I was so touched and overwhelmed by the spirit that I felt in so many places in the museum.. I was in tears as we read the horror stories of how these people were treated and how heartless the men were who did it.  To see genuine items from that period in history brought me to tears.  To step into an actual train that had transported the people to the death camps was crushing.. The museum was very crowded but also very silent.. even small children were quiet as we all took in the magnitude of the displays. I am so grateful that I was able to go and better understand this period in the history of the world.  I will always remember how I felt walking around in that museum.   We spent 6 hours walking around the beautiful area in DC and I am so thankful for our friend Suz and the time she takes out of her schedule to show us around..
 The Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

The cherry blossoms

Suz our fantastic tour guide

 The Korean Memorial

 The Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam The Faces of Honor Memorial
     Drove out to Welcome, Maryland to drive Stephanie to the store.  She was in sad shape and really in no shape to drive if she had a car.  She kept repeating everything she told us and it was really sad to see her like this.. I'm glad we could help her out.. when we arrived back at her house she asked us to stay for a minute and came outside with 2 cans of pure maple syrup for taking her to the store.. It was our pleasure to be of service to her. 

     Today was our last Sunday in the White Plains 2nd ward and it was very hard.. We have grown to love everyone so much and even though we won't be moving out of our apartment we probably won't see many of these people again very soon.  We were invited over to Steve and Becky Nichols home for dinner.. They are the neatest couple and we really have so much fun with them.  Becky was the Young Women's President in the ward and was just put into the stake Young Women Presidency.. Steve is a pilot and flies Air Force One and Air Force Two, his current assignment is on the Presidential advance team.  They go to where the President is scheduled to fly into and complete all preparations for his visit.  Becky is an occupational therapist and works at a Senior Center.  It was a great evening..

Steve & Becky Nichols

 When we arrived home we had a visit from our home teachers, Becky and Joe Michela.. they are such great people and we really look forward to their visits each month.  Joe has been so helpful fixing small things around our apartment and wanting to help us in any way he can. 

Joe & Becky Michela

     So you can see we had a very busy week and we really like it that way.........

     "In the search for our best selves, several questions will guide our thinking: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?  The years have come and the years have gone, but the need for a testimony of the gospel continues paramount. As we move toward the future, we must not neglect the lessons of the past."--President Thomas S. Monson

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