Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rain doesn't slow us down. . . .

       We start each week with our Monday planning meeting.. We prayerfully go over all the names of the members in the ward.  There are those that we know we want to visit because of previous conversations with them and then those that we are inspired to visit.  Each wards bishop and relief society president give us the names of those they would like us to visit that for various reasons.  We always try to set up some appointments at church each Sunday and then we fill in the week on Monday morning.  We called several sisters and started to fill up our days.. which is always such a great feeling.  We had made plans to have lunch with Suz Martin from White Plains 1st ward.  It is always so nice to re-connect with those we have served in the past.  Bishop & Suz Martin and their family have been so supportive of us and our mission, and we love spending time with them. 

       I had promised Kristin of the stake relief society that I would help her with the project she is preparing for the up-coming stake leadership day by cutting out leaves to go on the 36 different letters.. So I cut out several of  8 different leaves in fall colors to go on each one. 

          Tuesday we had a luncheon meeting with Tracey, the relief society president of the Calvert ward to go over those sisters we have visited and discuss any needs or concerns we felt needed to be addressed for them.  She lives right on Chesapeake Beach and the view is amazing.. She had invited Andrea to lunch also, who is a recent convert and it was great to get to meet her. She is a senior in college and is just here for a few more days before she heads back to school.  After our meeting we visited with Ann who is in the hospital.  She was suffering what the doctors thought was severe gall bladder pain and after many tests had surgery to remove her gall bladder.. Her levels still aren't where they want them and they are keeping her in the hospital for a little longer to see if they can get a handle on everything.. She was so sweet when we arrived... she said "she hoped we would come to visit her". That always makes us feel so good and so happy we made the effort to go see her. 

 Tracey's beach front house


            Wednesday was our temple day as usual and I really do love to spend the day at the temple,  being of service to all those who come. Sister Brown & Bonnie and I ride up together and it so fun. This week I met a young woman and her brother who were here on vacation.  They grew up in Switzerland but now live in Dubi, where their father is now working. They were so sweet and loved the time they have spent in the US, especially the time they have been able to spend in Washington DC. 

         Thursday we had 3 great visits. . . . first was Alisa and her two youngest children. They moved here in June from Delaware.. Alisa is from Snowflake, Arizona and has spent some time in Phoenix, so it was really fun to talk to her. She worked for the fire department while she lived in Phoenix, so she knew the area I live in and the surrounding sites.. They spent two weeks in Snowflake this summer and she said they love to go home to Arizona whenever they can.  Her husband is a JAG attorney and had decided to stay in the Air Force a while longer, until the job market in Arizona is a little better.. Alisa's son Jacob reminded me so much of my grandson Kelly when he was little.. In his Spiderman costume.  He even sounded like Kelly when he talked.. brought back some great memories..
 Alisa & her boys
 Jacob in his Spiderman costume


            Our second visit was a repeat visit with Elaine. She is the sister who suffers from M S.. She was making granola and I was so happy I got to help her by putting in the oven and then stirring often.  She is such a up-beat person with a wonderful personality. She doesn't let her M S stop her at all.. She teases that she can get it done, it will just take a little longer.. Her son who is a senior in high school came home while we were there and it was such a joy to see how he helps his mom.. without even being asked to do so.  Elaine said that when they diagnosed her condition they had a family meeting and shared with their son and daughter that this was not just a disease that their mom had it was a disease the family had..  and they all have taken it to heart and help Elaine and make the home run smooth.. we even got a hug from him.. which his mom says is a very rare thing..

         Minsun and her family just moved here 2 weeks ago.  They have 3 children 5,2 & 4 months.  Minsun and her husband are from Korea.  When Minsun graduated from high school she was looking for a college in the US and ended up at BYU. She didn't know it was a college affiliated with the church.. She registered and said that she thought the ethics code was different for a college but respected it.. and the letter of recommendation from a religious leader kind of threw her.. but her high school was a private school run by religious leaders, so she had the head of the school sign her recommendation and headed for Utah.  She loved the campus and her English classes.  She said that her roommates were members of the church and so she attended church with them each Sunday.. she eventually had the missionary lessons and joined the church.. When she returned to Korea and started going to church there, she met the young man who would become her husband.  He had served a mission in Arcadia, California.. They moved to Washington DC so he could go to law school at  Georgetown University.. He is now working for a law firm with the Bishop of our ward.  Minsun had fixed us a yummy dessert and was so excited to have us try it.. It was a pudding cake (lots of dairy), but I wouldn't have told her that I couldn't eat it for the world.. She made it for us and I wanted to make her happy by eating the yummy dessert.. It was really fun to get to meet her and hear about her life in Korea and her conversion story..
 Minsun & Grace & Lilli


            On Friday we spent the morning working at the "End Hunger" warehouse sponsored by the Calvert Christian Church.. This charity feeds so many people in need and is such a worthwhile way to spend a morning.  They had a huge warehouse filled with boxes of food to be put into boxes to be passed out to those deserving families who need their help so much.  Our first assignment was to put potatoes from this huge container that was 4' x 4' x 4' into boxes that ended up weighing 50 pounds each.. There were 4 of us on this project, while others worked on boxing food stuffs and canned goods.. When our potato bin was empty we started another project filling boxes with green beans, cabbages, squash and carrots each weighing 35 pounds.. The produce is donated by local farmers in the area and came to the warehouse in large semi trucks.  It was really a fun day, we made new friends and had such a wonderful feeling of gratitude in helping such a superb charity meet their goals.  They had a goal of filling 250 boxes of produce and we filled 160!  We are anxious to help them again soon.. We were really tired, but it felt so good. . . . . 

 Huge bins of potatoes

Huge bins of green beans
 Volunteers busy at work
 Boxes to load with fresh produce
 A filled box with green beans, squash, cabbage & carrots
One of the farms that contributes for hunger

       It was a rainy Saturday, so our thoughts to go on a field trip to somewhere that was on our list to visit was out.. We decided to go to the movies instead and see the one everyone was talking about... the AMC by our apartment was just re-modeled from the lobby to the theaters, and it is fantastic.. a wall of serve yourself soda machines that are out of the future.. In the theater, the rows of standard seats have been replaced with rows of individual cushy red leather recliners.. the feet rest even goes up.. We were really impressed with the new look of the theater, it was really run down and in great need of up-dating.. The movie "The odd life of Timothy Green", was so good and we loved it... really sad at the end, but such good thoughts throughout the movie.  So it was popcorn for dinner...

        Today was our introduction to the Bowie Ward.  This new area we will be serving in for September and October.. We drove the one hour trip up to the building for church and met Norma and Beth of the Stake Relief Society Presidency.. The presidency always goes with us on our first visit to a new ward, to meet the wards relief society presidency and the bishop. They excited to have us start to serve in their ward and get to know us better.. I was even asked to say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting today.  We were introduced in relief society and then had a short meeting with the only member of the presidency who was there today.  When we walked out of church it was raining.. I mean RAINING.. like an Arizona monsoon rain.. so hard we couldn't see, even with the wipers going fast, so we pulled off the road for awhile until it let up a bit.. We had hard rain all the way home.. so we were glad to be back in our cozy apartment for the rest of the day. We still have one week of serving in the Calvert ward and are looking so forward to it. I will really miss seeing the Chesapeake Bay several times a week.. but there are always new adventures awaiting us in each new area..


       The weatherman here is saying that Maryland is in a drought situation.. that we are 8" below our rain needed for the year.. I really don't know about that. . . it rains at least one if not more days a week here.. We got over 2" this weekend.. So I guess being a desert gal, I don't know what rainy weather really is.  But it is really rainy enough for me..

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What a busy, fun week we had this week..
        On Monday we all met at the Tate's home in our Calvert ward for a sailing outing with the missionaries who are serving in the DC temple.  They had another sailing trip for our DC North missionaries earlier in July when I was in Arizona, so I was happy that I got to go with this group.  The Tate's have a 65 foot sailboat and the Talbot's have a 35 foot sail boat and their friend let them borrow a huge catamaran sail boat for the day.   Brother Tate said that if I wanted to sail with a real sailor to go with Brother Talbot on his boat the "Legacy", his nickname is Sinbad.  We had 10 on our boat and I got to steer for a little while..which was fun and sort of scary... Brother Talbot told me to sail toward a certain point and it was kind of hard to keep the boat going in that direction.. We were on the water for 2 1/2 hours and it was really a relaxing time.. The water was as smooth as glass so we had to use the motor, but he did put the sails up.  After the sailing we all gathered together at Tate's yard for a huge picnic.. It was a wonderful day that I will always remember. 

 My turn at the wheel

 Brother Talbot & me
Sailing on the Bay
 Relaxing on the Legacy
Our group picnic

       Tuesday we were so lucky to have 4 appointments:  Our first one was with Lianne.  She asked us to meet her at the church, because her house was overrun with her animals.  We sat and talked to her for over an hour and she really shared with us how hard her life is and the many things she is dealing with.  We listened and offered what help we could and asked if it would be all right if we shared with the bishop and relief society president her situation and needs, to see what help we could get her. She isn't active and so when she agreed  to let the church help we were so happy. She is a very sweet sister and was really glad that she got to spend some time with us.. I really hope she is able to get the help that both she and her daughter need..

        Our next visit was quite a drive out in the "woods", we had called Carol and she gave us vague directions once our GPS said we arrived.. but the area is very remote with dirt roads going in several directions, so we had to call her again and have her help us navigate our way to her house.  The road was overgrown and when we arrived, we discovered that they were major collectors of everything, the older the better.. Carol walked out to greet us and I noticed right away that she had a "Phoenix" tee shirt on.. Well I knew we would have something to talk about.  She has severe health issues and has been in and out of the hospital for years.. We were concerned about her being so far up in the woods alone, but she said she had wonderful neighbors, so that helped put our mind a little more at ease.  She said no-one ever comes to visit her and if they do come they never come back.. She had to have the EMT's come once and they didn't even know that those houses existed.. She was truly a lovely lady and we are going to make sure she is contacted at least once a month from now on. 

                                                             The road to Carol's home

The view when we arrived

        Jennifer and her family had just moved to Calvert 4 weeks ago.. She has 4 children and her husband is an attorney for the Air Force.  They love the area and want to stay here when they are out of the military.  They have a large yard and have been working very hard to get it weeded and under control.  She was so much fun to visit with and just know she & her family will be an asset to the ward..

         Our last visit of the day was with Vicki.. She was so excited, because their son Steve was returning from his mission the next day.  They were having lots of family arrive and so we didn't stay to long.. What a fun time for their family.. Her husband is a full time professor at the University of Alabama on loan to the US government. He heads up a program for the Air Force working on instruments to help the planes of the future with communications.  They have 5 children and Steve is their youngest.. Vicki said she was so sad that she wouldn't have a missionary to write to each week any longer.  I am so happy for their family.. We get to hear their missionary talk in church this Sunday. 
Vicki and me

Vicki's beautiful home
       Wednesday was temple day.  Sister Brown was in bed with a migraine, so I drove up with our friend Bonnie.  I got to work in the baptistery in the morning again. which you all know I love so much.  A father and son were there from the Netherlands.. He said that when his children turn 12 he brings them to the US for a church history tour.  His oldest daughter was taken to Salt Lake City and the surrounding area.  His next daughter went to St. George and San Diego and the sites in-between. This time he brought his son and they were touring, New York, Illinois and Washington DC.. It was such a pleasure to meet them and hear about their adventures.. The entire day was so inspirational and uplifting.. I just love being in the temple each week.  Had a great visit with Bonnie on the trip up and back. She is such a sweetheart. 

       Thursday was a special Stake Temple day for the Suitland Stake that we are serving in.  It was so much fun to see so many people I know.. Since we have served in 5 wards and met so many people.. A total of 450 people from the stake attended the temple  during the day & we performed 3,466 ordinances. The temple was so pleased with the turnout and all the hard work that was performed that day .. what an awesome area I get to serve in.. wonderful people, who are so dedicated to serving the Lord and doing all they can to be an example to all those a round them. Bonnie and I rode up together, Sister Brown was still not feeling well so she stayed home.  After we left the temple we went to lunch at Cafe Rio with Bonnie's son and daughter-in-law.. a very fun day..

       Thursday would have been my 48th wedding anniversary.. I think of Kent every day and know that he would be so proud of what I am doing.  He is busy working I'm sure and so am I..

         Friday we got to meet with Kathy who lives down by the Chesapeake Bay.. She is a full time helpmate to her husband who due to several surgeries over many years has to use crutches to get everywhere.  He has been on crutches for 22 years.. He is very up beat and really active and doesn't let his disability slow him down, with help from Kathy.  We asked her what her hobbies were and she said that would be her husband.. It was a very fun visit..

       One thing we noticed this week was all the butterflies that were fluttering around everywhere we went.. It was so neat to see them all over the area.. 

        We next stopped to spend some time with Ann and her mom Shirley.  We had visited with them before and Shirley who is 88 has asked to come visit her often.. She is such a sweet sister and it is fun to visit with her and hear her stories..

        Saturday was a day to run errands.. and then relax after such a busy week.. One set of the young elders that live in our apartment complex came by for a visit.. It really is nice that they look after us.. Such wonderful young men with a wonderful dedication to the gospel & serving those they serve with all their hearts..
Elder Watson & Elder Rushton

        At church today we met two new sisters in our ward and we talked to about visiting them this week.. should be a fun week ahead.. This Sunday was the last Sunday we will be at the Calvert ward Sunday meetings.. Next Sunday we will have a meeting with the Relief Society Presidency of the Bowie Ward and will visit their church services... We will be serving in that ward for Sept. & we like to meet with them before we actually start working in their area.. Then they know what our assignments are and how they can help us achieve our goals.

       Give Loving Service
Yea, and now behold, O my so
 the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy
 in the fruit of my labors.
                          Alma 36:25

               Tremendous happiness and peace of mind are the results of loving service to others.
Nobody can live fully and happily who lives only unto himself or herself.
President Gordon B. Hinckley

Sunday, August 12, 2012

         Back in the swing of things out here in Maryland on my mission.  I just have to say that serving a mission is one of the greatest times of my life.  To spend my days serving others is such a wonderful feeling.  Plus we get to meet the most amazing women and have some incredible experiences.  Senior missionaries have an easier schedule and can really set their day to meet the needs of the days activities.  We, as you know can go home for special occasions and go on outings and field trips with those we are serving with and those we are serving.  It is really a lot different than the young missionaries serving their missions.. As seasoned (as brother Tate calls us) missionaries we are in charge of our time and our days activities.. I really hope that my mission will inspire other's to consider serving missions, as senior couples or as a single senior sister..
         We drive great distances each day so we book our appointments ahead, so we don't make the trip and be stood up.. but even though we book ahead, it sometimes happens,  it has happened more than once with this sister.. Bonnie sounds anxious to have us visit and then when we get there she won't answer the door.. Her car is in the driveway and the dogs are going crazy in the we leave a little note and move on.. 

 The Beach

 Our friend Tracy's home right on Chesapeake Beach

 Beautiful farms

Quaint church's
Tree lines roads
Beautiful homes dot the landscape

      I know I tell you often, how beautiful the landscape is here.. but each day as we drive by beautiful farms with huge red barns and green fields or beautiful homes with beautifully manicured huge lawns, we are saying "oh look"-"oh look".. it isn't fair for the one driving because she doesn't get to see all cool things we pass thank goodness we switch off driving..
      It is still in the 90's here and they say it is dry.. I really don't think it's dry by any stretch of the imagination.. but cooler than in Phoenix right now, so I'm not complaining about the weather..

       Our first visit this week was with Nina, who serves in the Primary Presidency in the ward and is such a sweetheart.. She has 3 daughters 10, 8 & 6.  They all play musical instruments.. such as the harp, the oboe & the piano.  They are a military family and have lived all over the US. Her husband is a helicopter pilot in the Air Force.  We had a wonderful visit with all of the family.

Nina and her wonderful family

      Chris is a very talented lady.. She sings beautifully, heads the choir at church and they are the best choir I have ever heard.. She plays the organ and the piano and is going to school to get her 2nd degree in music theory.  She has performed with the Washington DC Mormon choir.  She serves in the Relief Society presidency and has such an infectious laugh.. She is always happy and so much fun to be with..  Her husband is a mechanical engineer for NASA.. it was such a joy to spend time with Chris..

       Alaina is a military wife who's husband is deployed in Afghanistan.  He is in Naval intelligence. He left last November and will be gone until this coming November.. I really have to hand it to these wives who have husbands who are deployed.. They are so strong and so supportive.. Alaina herself was in Naval intelligence until her first baby arrived.  She is now the mom of a darling girl and a little boy.  She is living in the home of her uncle right on the Chesapeake Bay.. She is very athletic and loves running and rock climbing.. She teaches in Relief Society.  It was so fun to visit with her and her two little ones..
Alania and kids

 Her beautiful yard

The view from her yard

        When we make appointments by phone we hardly ever know who they are, unless we make the appointment at church.. So when they open the door like Katherine.. we say "oh I know who you are".. We meet so many people and they don't have name tags on.. Katherine is a very busy grama.. She lives next door to one of her children and her grandchildren.. She baby-sits them several days a week.. She works at the DC temple on Thursdays each week.. It was a great visit..

        When I got my schedule for the temple this week, I was very excited what I would be doing as I served in the temple.. I was starting out in the baptistery, one of my favorite places.  We had 3 young women and a family come to do baptisms.  The Rivera family consisted of a husband and wife and the wife's father and their 21 year old daughter who is a senior at BYU Idaho, a 19 year old son and a 12 year old son.  The father told me that they were all so thrilled because their son just received his mission call to the "Mesa Arizona Mission", I was so excited..I said "that is the mission where I live in Arizona, I was just in Arizona a week ago"..Brother Rivera asked why I was visiting Arizona and I told him I was home to see my grandson return from his mission".. He asked "where did he serve"?  I said "Peru", and his jaw dropped and said, "that is where we are from".... I couldn't believe that I got to meet this wonderful family..I told them that since my three children and their families all lived in that mission, I was sure that we would see Elder Rivera at some time on his mission.. He arrives at the MTC on Sept. 12th (the same day I entered the MTC a year ago).. and should arrive in Arizona the end of September.. So everyone keep an eye out for this young man.. I told Sister Gribbin the coordinator of the shift we work on at the temple about the experience and she said that as she was making the schedule she thought a couple of times of changing my assignment but was prompted to keep me in the baptistery.. I am so glad that I was able to share the entire experience with the Rivera family from start to finish.. I got their address and phone number and can't wait to find Elder Rivera in Arizona and take pictures and send them to his family back here..

         We met Jennifer several months ago when we helped her decorate for the Stake Women's Conference.. She was so fun to work with and we knew that it would be a great visit. Jennifer serves in the Young Women, and had a great time at girls camp.. She works part time since her youngest started school and loves her job.  Her husband is in the Stake Presidency. He is a lobbyist on Capital Hill.. We had a wonderful visit with Jennifer.. It is so important to us that we visit not only those who have issues or health concerns but also women whose with husbands have  demanding jobs plus very busy church callings.. Jennifer was so happy that we came to visit her, and so were we..

         We felt it was important to make another visit to Nicole, who we had visited a few weeks ago.. She is so very busy with her many endeavors: She is the founder of a  non profit foundation for helping those suffering with PTSD..she is also counselor for those suffering from PTSD. She has her business of lotions, soaps and bath salts.. and now she is back in uniform for the Army Guard.. On top of being a wife & part time  mother to her daughter Tatania.. Nicole is about to start a cross country trip of lectures for her PTSD foundation..and her daughter is ending her summer visit with her mom & going back with her dad.. Nicole has a lot on her plate and seems ready to take it on full steam.. We wanted to make sure she was ok with all that is going on in her life. She was so happy with our visit and we are wishing her well on her up-coming ventures.

         There was a big storm in our area on Thurs. torrential rain, wind, hail & even tornado warnings kept us home bound.  The storms down here in the area we serve can be very violent.

            Saturday Sister Brown and I were in charge of our mission district outing.  Since the rest of our district serve up in DC, we wanted to share with them the wonderful area that we get to serve in.  The six of us  met at our apartment and headed south to the southern tip of Maryland to Solomon's Island for a lunch of the best crab cakes as noted by the Washington  Post.  We ate at Stoney's on the pier and everyone agreed that the crab cakes were wonderful.  We then headed up the peninsula to Chesapeake Beach.. which is one of our favorite spots to spend time between appointments and have lunch, or sit by the shore and listen to the waves.  We knew that one of the things they wanted to see was some of the wonderful Amish sites.  We stopped at our favorite Amish farmers market.. It was a great success and we each found some produce or baked goodies that we were able to take home.  Our last stop was at the quilt shop of Magadelina Stoltzfus. She is such a sweet lady and so very talented and we love to visit her shop.  It started to rain just as we were leaving her shop and it was pouring by the time we mad it to our car. So glad that the rain waited until our field trip was coming to an end.  We were so happy that we could share our beautiful area with the other missionaries in our district.. we made sure to tell them that we would "not" switch places with them..
 Me, Sister & Brother Noel, Sister Larsen & Sister Wege

Lunch at Stoney's on Solomon's Island

         We have a very busy week ahead and are looking forward to it.  It is filled with a lot of different things than we get to usually do.. So I will be anxious to share it with you next week..

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My time in Phoenix. . . . .

      What a marvelous time I had in Phoenix with my family.  I love that my family is all such good friends and love spending time together and doing the same activities.. I am very lucky to have all 3 of my children's families live close to me in Phoenix. My daughter is the farthest away and she is only about 8 minutes.. So it is easy to go between their home. 
         Monday I spent the day with my son Jason's family.. two of my granddaughters are very involved in their high school's drama and music performances and I love to be there for each and every one.  Since I am serving on my mission I really missed seeing them this year, so we watched the DVD's of the play  "Into the Woods",  and the end of the year  "Pop's Concert".  It was so much fun to see them both, since there are so many of the kids that I know that also perform in these productions.  What a fun day..

Zack shared a song with me.. he is great on his guitar

        Since my condo is so close, I am able to spend some time there also.  It is really fun to be there among my own things and get some projects finished.  While I am here on my visit we are having "Christmas in July".. since I will still be away in December, I wanted to share Christmas with my family.. It is going to be next Sunday.. So I am busy wrapping all the goodies I brought from Maryland for them.

Dylan arriving at the Phoenix Airport from Lima, Peru
We were anxious to see our missionary
The two of us. . .
       Tuesday we all met at the airport to greet my grandson Dylan who was returning from his mission in Peru.  There were about 30 of us with signs and posters awaiting his arrival.  What a joy it was to see that handsome missionary walk thru the security into the arms of his family.. Of course his mom got the first hug.. I am so proud of him and the amazing work he accomplished while serving the people of  Peru. He is such a strong, humble young man who loves the Lord and loves his family.  After we retrieved his luggage we proceeded to Kristan & Don's home to spend some time with Dylan.  He shared with us the treasures he brought back from Peru and many stories.  What a wonderful day, to be surrounded by family and so much love.

        Wednesday my daughter-in-law Karen and my granddaughter Alli went to the airport to pick up my oldest granddaughter Marissa.  She is Dylan's older sister and was coming in from Chicago to be with us this weekend. Marissa is in school at Columbia in Chicago and I was  so excited that she got to be here too.  My entire family is here with the exception of my grandson Kelly who is currently serving a mission in South Carolina.. Kristan had invited us to stay for lunch when we dropped Marissa off, so it was a fun afternoon. 

         Wednesday evening we "all"  (19 of us) went to the Arizona Diamondback's baseball game.. It was so much fun, to all be there together.. As you can tell it was a together kind of week.. which I love so much.   

Kristan and her family at the game (Don had to work)
Dylan's first outing after coming home that day...

      Friday Karen, Alli and I went to lunch at the Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli. It was wonderful food.. I had a small Greek salad and a bowl of  Avgolemono soup.. which came with the best pita bread.. Then we visited Williams Sonoma and saw old friends that I had worked with. It was so nice to walk in and have them say "Jean, you're here"..many fond memories of working there for so many years,

Great Middle Eastern Restaurant
        That evening we had a family party to celebrate the Olympics Opening Ceremonies..  We love to watch the Olympics as a family, all great sport fans... We had a bar-b-cue and a  wonderful get together with most of my family.. a few of the older teens were missing, due to plans with friends.. It is always fun to spend time with my kids and grandkids and of course those 2 precious great grand babies.. Malorie is 2 now and she walks by me and says, "oh hi G.G."..  Delainie is 8 months old and has made friends with me.. such a sweetie..

                                                   My sweet great grandaughter Delainie

Steve at the bar-b-cue
Malorie loved the playhouse
           Saturday, I headed out and drove around to see what things had changed around the area.. I drove by my old neighborhood and the house we used to live in.. Saw some new stores and some stores are gone.. wow it has only been 11 months and there have been many changes.. then headed to one of my favorite stores. . . Hobby Lobby and spent over an hour walking the isles and looking at all the fun things.. even had a couple things jump into my basket..

        I ran an errand for Kristan to help her out with her brunch that she is having after church on Sunday.  Then I headed to Jason and Jamie's house to spend the day with their family.. 3 of their children are going to be in the up-coming production of  "The Wizard of Oz" musical put on my Don Bluth Front Row Theater, and they had measurements for costume fittings..  We then dropped the kids off at home and Jason and Jamie and I went out for a bite to eat at one of my favorite places, Rubio's.. then headed to a movie.  A very fun day.. I ended my Saturday watching the Olympics with Steve. 
 Dinner at Rubio's

         Sunday was a very special day at church.. it was the homecoming of my grandson Dylan from his 2 year mission in Lima, Peru.  They invited all the Spanish speaking men in the chapel to join in a choir singing "The Spirit of God" in Spanish.. It was so inspiring to hear the 29 men sing with such spirit.. It was truly beautiful.  Then Dylan spoke.... he is amazing (I know I say that a lot, but it is true).  He has grown into a confident, well spoken young man. He talked for 30 minutes sharing experiences from his mission and didn't look at a note.. Such self-assurance and humility as he spoke of those very meaningful times that touched his heart while serving the people in Peru.  After church we all gathered at Kristan's home for a wonderful afternoon of good food and friends sharing time together with Dylan.  I wanted to spend some special time with my granddaughter Marissa before she had to fly back to Chicago, so she came with me to my condo so I could give her a special gift I had for her..since she would be gone when we celebrated "Christmas in July" later that evening.  She loved the necklace that I had gotten her.  It was created by Colleen Martinez one of the very talented sisters in my mission. I love spending time with my oldest granddaughter. She is such a sweet soul, with so much love in her heart for everyone and everything. Later that evening we all met at Kristan's for my gift giving.. Since I will be gone over Christmas again this year I wanted to be able to give my children and grandchildren their gifts while I was here.. It was a very fun evening..

         I wanted my family to meet a couple of the sweet sister's that I had the pleasure of serving with at the temple visitors center on my mission. They both returned home a week ago.. So my daughter Kristan and my newly returned missionary grandson Dylan, my daughter-in-laws Karen and Jamie went with me to the VC.. it was so much fun to spend time with these amazing young women.. Kelly Allen and Kendra Marcy.. They wanted to jump in my suitcase and come back to DC with me.. Love them.
Kelly Allen & Me

Kendra Marcy & Me

         My birthday was on Wednesday, and I share it with my granddaughter Morgan. I started the day, going to meet the girls of the 3 C's (chocolate, cards and conversation), a great group of friends that I love spending a morning with and sharing in their talents.  It was so fun to be with them again.
 Karen, Joanne, Kathleen & Glenda
 Kathy, Me & C.J.

        Steve., Karen and Alli took me out to lunch at the new Zupa's restaurant in Desert Ridge.. What a fun place plus great food..  I was invited to Jason & Jamie's home for a birthday dinner and then everyone else in my family joined us for one last family party for my grandaughter Morgan & I, before I left back to Maryland on Thursday morning. I love spending time with my fantastic family.. It is so fun that they are all friends. 

Shayne from my home ward is the 3rd from left front to see her at Zupa's
My grandaughter Morgan share our birthday !

 My sons Steve & Jason and their sons Grant & Tyler playing a card game

 Madi, Jamie & Taylor

Alli was baking for the birthday party.
          I was sad to leave my family, but excited to return to my mission.  My flight was very smooth returning to the East coast.. My friend Suz drove to pick me up along with her daughter Emily and my companion Sister Brown.. It was really good to be "home".

 Friday we had 4 great appointments:
      We first saw Naomi, who lived right next to the water and it was great getting to know this special lady. She is a member of the Chippewa tribe in Wisconsin.  She worked in DC for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the land management dept. and traveled all over the US visiting the various tribes, to asses their use of land. She is a very talented artist and has many pieces of her art work displayed in her home.  It was a very fun visit.

 Naomi & Me

One of the beautiful pieces of art Naomi has created

      We had tried to visit Tara a couple weeks ago and no one was home, so it was nice to visit with her.  She is the mother of 2 boys, ages 1 & 3.  She and her husband are both structural engineers and work with many insurance companies to evaluate damage in buildings.  So they have been really busy with all the storms back here over the last year.  They live on a 7 1/2 acre farm, and raise ducks, chickens, turkey's, geese and goats. 

         Sandra was our next visit. She is the wife of the Suitland Stake Patriarch.  She teaches in Relief Society & works at the temple each Thurs. She is the grandmother of 15.   She and her husband are avid sailors and own their own sailboat.. They take trips all over and have for many years.  She was really fun to talk with and I loved the stories she told us. 


      Diane was our last visit of the day. She suffers from both lung and brain cancer.  She has been inactive for many years and usually doesn't let anyone from church visit with her, so we were very happy that she agreed to let us come visit with her.  She is very weak and has a hard time walking.. We had a good visit with her and she "thanked"
 us for coming to visit her.. maybe it was a start to let others in to see her. 

 The Chesapeake Bay. . .

It's good to be see this amazing view often

  It was very good to be back in the Calvert ward, and to be welcomed back by so many. We were able to book some appointments for the coming week, and turn in our re-cap of the work we accomplished in the month of July in this area.