Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 29 Report

It's been a week full of blessings. It started with lots of rain. We frequently get little bursts of misty-type rain, but for a few days we had some pretty good down pours.

This culvert runs between the Tabernacle and our office building. It always has water in it, but usually not enough to reach each side of the culvert. This is a result of the recent rain.

Work proceeded at it's usual pace as far as correspondence goes. I have been working on updating the secretary instructions and was able to get some of that done. On Monday I received an email from church travel telling us that December 18 to 26 would be blackout days for church travel. That means they won't book any flights during that time. I think it's because the airlines hike up the prices so much during that time. Well, it's a bit of a problem for us as we have 5 missionaries who were planning to go home on the 21st. They are leaving between transfers so they can get back into school. President Bekker was busy all week with a visitor from the missionary department touring the mission, so it took a couple of days for him to be able to think about this problem and get back to me. The decision was made to move their date up to the 16th (no one complained!). I also have 3 senior couples and 3 senior sisters being released around that time. Most of them booked their flights before or after the blackout dates. Seniors have a little flexibility in picking the exact day of departure. One couple still wanted to fly home on the 22nd, so they booked their own flight. The church will reimburse them the amount they would have paid for their ticket. Fortunately, they found a great price, so all is well. All travel is booked. Everyone is happy - which makes me happy. Now I will begin thinking about the January departing missionaries - juniors and seniors.

This is Elder Ball from Coaldale, Alberta, Canada. His father went to school with Devon. He's been out 3 or 4 transfers. Will you look at that shoe! Yep, they were new when he arrived. He is one hard working elder, and his shoes prove it! His grandpa sent him some extra money and he's going shoe shopping next P-day.

Housing is ALWAYS busy for Devon. Wednesday after work we drove to Kaneohe to check out a new apartment for missionaries, and another apartment some elders are living in. We've heard stories about how run down it was, but Devon needed to see it. A lot of people here partition off part of their house and rent it as an apartment to help supplement their income. This apartment is in an older home where the owner is an older lady who is a member of the church. She loves having the missionaries live there and doesn't charge any rent, so of course, we would like to keep our elders there. But...it's in bad shape. Five windows don't close, or leak around the window casing causing things to get wet every time it rains (which is often in Kaneohe). There is no kitchen - just a fridge and microwave. The missionaries are fed almost every night by the members, but if they need to wash dishes it has to be done in the bathroom sink. The bathroom needs to be gutted - almost everything leaks in there. And, the deck is rotted through. Need I say more. The owner has no money for repairs, so Devon talked with President Bekker. He gave his approval to get an estimate of what it would cost to do some repairs. We'll see what happens.

After our apartment inspections, we stopped at Ruby Tuesday's for dinner. It was later than usual and we were hungry. Devon ordered the ribs and I had their grilled salmon - so good! We waited for our waiter to bring the check, but he brought us this instead:

It's the back of our receipt. Someone had paid our bill! We looked around, but couldn't figure out who it was, and of course the waiter said he didn't know. We've heard stories of this happening often for the elders, but it's the first time for us. I can't tell you how humbled and grateful we felt. There are angels everywhere!

Usually we have Mission Leadership Conference (MLC) on Mondays, but because of our visitor from Salt Lake it was moved to Thursday this week. Also because of the visitor we had about 20 extra missionaries, bumping our numbers up to 65ish. We served pulled pork on buns, kale salad, grapes, pineapple, chips, and cookies - all from Costco. What would we do without Costco?!

We all have assignments to bring different things. The Overduyns always bring the pineapple. Elder Overduyn loves cutting it up, and we're happy to let him do it. He's pretty fancy about it!

I'm not sure what Elder Reeder and Elder Overduyn are doing with the cookies, but there might have been a couple missing after this photo was taken.

After the clean up from MLC, we drove to Laie for a doctor's appointment. It's such a beautiful drive and so peaceful there - especially compared to Honolulu. We drive through the long Pali tunnel to get there. When you come out of the tunnel you are greeted by stunningly beautiful, tall mountains and blue, never ending ocean. It is always breathtaking for me. We had a nice visit with Dr. Hughes, a short stop at the Laie Temple Visitor's Center, a quick dinner at Seven Brothers, and coconut ice cream dessert at Angel's before we drove back to Honolulu.

Stunning windward side of O'ahu

Friday was business, as usual, and dinner with the office staff. This time we went to Tony Roma's.
Saturday was a quiet day with some much needed rest. We watched the BYU game, shopped for groceries, and watched the wonderful Women's Conference on BYU-TV. Sunday was church. I sang with the ward choir in Sacrament meeting and we had Elder Hardy and Elder Eborn over for dinner. Then we went to a tri-stake fireside.

The thought I want to record this week is from a talk given in church Sunday that was based on James 1:22 - "...be ye does of the word, and not hearers only..." The speaker reminded us that it was just a few short verses from familiar verse 5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberal, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Then she asked the question - what if Joseph had only read "the word" and not acted upon it? She reminded us that Conference is next weekend and invited us to be "doers" not just "hearers" of the word.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 28 Report

It has been another good week - actually pretty quiet. Oh, we were busy, always busy, but things seemed to move at a steady hum instead of spurts of problems to deal with. I was able to get some things started that aren't actually due for two to four weeks. We have a group of 4 missionaries going home mid-transfer in December, so I need to get the information to be able to request their travel. You would be surprise how many parents move while their sons/daughters are on their mission. Anyway, one of our sisters in this group has decided to surprise her parents and not tell them she is coming home early. She just plans to show up. I'm not sure how that will work. President Bekker gave his approval so I'll proceed. I also began working on the Departing Binders. I love being prepared and ahead of the game.

Devon has been able to secure all the needed new apartments. He spent Wednesday moving two sets of elders to the new pads and will do the same for two more companionships this week. Looks like the apartment with the mushrooms and mold has been cleaned/repaired and passes inspection, so we think the sisters will be moving back there. Everything is pretty stable this week with housing, but we have a huge group of new missionaries coming on October 10. The latest count is 28!!! If they all end up coming, Devon will probably have to find more apartments.

The coming and going of missionaries is in constant flux. We had 3 new elders come this week. Two are Marshallese speaking and thus were longer at the Provo MTC. The other one was serving in Japan, went home for knee surgery, and because he can no longer ride a bicycle, was assigned to finish his mission with us. All three wonderful, ready young men. On a sad note, we had two missionaries go home on early release. One sister has been ill for months. She's seen doctors, had lots of tests, and tried her hardest to say, but it finally became apparent that she needed to go home and get well. One elder wasn't ready to be here. He needed to go home and put some things in order. They are both wonderful young people with strong testimonies and a strong desire to be on a mission. Hopefully, they can work things out and return. We also had one of our military relations senior couples go home this week. We will miss them.

Friday night we went to dinner with Elder and Sister Overduyn. Elder and Sister Reeder wanted to come, but she was tied up with one of our sisters at the doctor's office (she's the mission nurse). We had dinner at Costco (if you can call it that) and then went to see the movie "Scully." We really enjoyed it. Saturday morning Sister Overduyn and I got pedicures. Afterward we went to Fabric Mart and bought Hawaiian fabric to use for table cloths at home. We have 2 mission sewing machines (both donated by members who were moving), so I'm hoping to get them hemmed and mailed home. Devon and I did some grocery shopping, and then settled in to watch the BYU football game - so disappointed that they lost.

Saturday evening I pulled out my ukulele. I played a little, but mostly looked for music on the internet. Sometimes I find a song with the chords and all I have to do is print it out, but more often I copy the lyrics, transpose the song to a key that works for me and the ukulele, and then add the chords to the lyrics. It's a process. I love my ukulele! Music has always brought me such joy.

Sunday was another peaceful Sabbath with good talks and classes at church. We've been blessed this weekend to FaceTime, text, and phone chat, with most of our family and a couple of good friends. We also had wonderful letters from Brad's family. As the songs says..."just another week in paradise."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 27 Report

Our week began with a holiday - Labor Day. The office was closed, so we took full advantage and slept in. In the afternoon we drove to the Waikele Premium Outlets. Devon loves the Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and they were half price at their outlet store during Labor Day Weekend. I have never seen so many people shopping at the same place before. There were a couple of tour buses full of Chinese tourists that had stopped there. A couple of stores had lines outside with people waiting for their turn to enter. We got the shirts, strolled around the complex and left. We had a late lunch at Chili's and then went to a movie - the first one we've seen since being in Hawaii. It was Devon's pick - "Jason Bourne" - and he loved it. Then we went home for dinner and a relaxing evening.

The rest of the week was business as usual: apartments to lease, repairs to arrange, cell phone to hand out, bicycles to get repaired, letters to write, luncheons to arrange, departing items to prepare for next transfer, etc., etc., etc. It really is one continual round. As soon as we finish with the paper work/business of one transfer, we begin preparing for the next. It's been fun to be in communication with my cousins, Pat and Jim Hartzell, who are office missionaries in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. We do many of the same things, but often a little differently.

Wednesday we had Elder Hardy (Spring City, Utah) and Elder Eborn (Kaysville, Utah) over for dinner. They serve in our Manoa Ward so have a special place in our hearts. I forgot to get their photo - too tired I guess. Anyway, we always enjoy having them over - GREAT elders!

This is Elder Villanueva (Philippines) and Elder Johnson (Colorado). Elder Villanueva has been out about 3 transfers and is trainer for Elder Johnson who arrived a couple of weeks ago. Most of our missionaries have cars, but these two are assigned to bicycles. Poor Elder Johnson had little to no experience on a bicycle and was so worried about it. Well, he practiced a lot in the parking lot and now absolutely loves riding his bicycle. Here they are with their new helmets. They are so cute, and so cute together as companions. They really like and compliment each other. They just make me smile every time they come to the office.

Friday evening we went to dinner with another office couple, the Overduyns. They are due to go home in December - I will miss them - but so far there are no replacements on the horizon. That's a little worrisome. They say they will stay a little longer if needed and it looks like it may be needed. After dinner Sister Overduyn and I did a little shopping/looking at Macy's while the guys sat patiently in the shoe department.

Saturday we went to Pearl Harbor to tour the USS Bowfin submarine. The USS Bowfin is a fleet attack submarine that fought in the Pacific during WWII, and helped to make famous the term, "Silent Service." Bowfin was launched on 7 December 1942, exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger, so it is fitting that her permanent home is at Pearl Harbor.

The USS Bowfin is named after this hard fighting, aggressive, and voracious fish found in fresh water from the Great Lakes to the Southern states. It is a descendant of a fish dating back to the Jurassic Period. Due to its ability to use its swim bladder as a primitive lung, it can live in water with low oxygen content, and can survive for days at a time in little or no water. It seems like a really good name for a fighting submarine. The USS Bowfin survived the war with great success against the enemy and a record of never losing a single sailor. Other submarines were not so lucky.

The USS Bowfin and Devon in his new Hawaiian Palaka shirt.

Torpedo room. Notice the bunks between and above the torpedos. Sweet dreams????

Officers' sleeping quarters.

Photo of another officers' sleeping quarters. This one shows the sink bowl in the down position. The one above shows it in the up position on the bottom left of the photo.

One of two engine rooms.

The galley where all the food was prepared. They cooked all day with the sailors eating in shifts. They had a big refrigerator/freezer below this deck. They had to crawl down a hole to get to it.

The mess hall.

One of the crew's bunk rooms. They didn't have enough beds for all the sailors, so just as they ate in shifts, they also slept in shifts. 

Navigation room. Notice how small the doorways are.

This photo was taken from the bow of the USS Bowfin. On the right is the USS Arizona Memorial. On the left is the USS Missouri - the place of the signing of the peace treaty between Japan and the United States at the end of WWII. The Pearl Harbor Memorial is amazing - a definite must see if ever in Honolulu. 

We end our week with a wonderful Sabbath day. We had great talks in Sacrament Meeting and great lessons in Sunday School, Relief Society and Priesthood. We have had phone conversations with several of our children this week - something that I love. Brad and Stephen are recovering and everyone else is doing well. We loved seeing photos of Natalie and Allison with their Homecoming dates - beautiful girls, if I do say so myself! With the good news, there is also sad news from home. My cousin, Julie, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is positive, upbeat, and her doctors think they have caught it early. Another cousin, Bryan, tragically lost his son this week. Our hearts and prayers are with them. 

I want to end this blog post with a scripture - shared by our good friends, Terry and Annette Hill who are serving in Lima, Peru - and say how grateful we are for good health, financial security, and a wonderful family that make it possible for us to be on this mission.

Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people that they might have everlasting life.
3 Nephi 5:13

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 26 Report

Transfer week - DONE! The new missionaries arrived safely on Monday - an outstanding group of young, spiritually prepared young men and women anxious and ready to share our Savior's love. I had their arrival letter and photos emailed to all the parents by 1 pm on Tuesday. The most labor intensive part is downloading and organizing the photos from the president's camera memory card. Three photos (solo missionary, with President and Sister Bekker, and the new group) are then attached to an email with a letter and sent to each parent. It takes a while! Also on Tuesday I printed off all the departing missionary's letters. These are the weekly letters each missionary has emailed to the president during his/her mission, and the president's response. Some missionaries are faithful - write every week and have 40 to 50 pages of letters. I had one with only 17 pages - such a missed opportunity. The good thing is that I only had 8 departing, so I was able to get the books finished quickly. I'm so grateful for pre-punched printer paper - what a time saver!

The monthly mission newsletter was also due this week, and was published on time. Good thing I started putting it together early. When the articles finally came, I could pop them into the document. I'm actually getting quicker with this project. It was just hard to have it fall on transfer week this time.

I received updated, and in some cases changed, flight itineraries for the October departing group. I wasn't sure if missionary travel had emailed them to the parents, so I did that and updated our reports.

The Zone Conference lunches are provided by the various stake Relief Society presidents. Our previous mission president's wife took care of organizing this, but our new president has given that job to me.

We had two hurricane watches issued this week - Madeline and Lester. Our area authority and mission president thought it would be a good idea to partner with the Red Cross in having our missionaries be volunteer shelter workers in the event that shelters would be needed. This meant we would need to inservice ALL the young missionaries and some of the seniors before the weekend so they would be ready to serve if called. A conference call was set up. About 5 Red Cross workers, the Honolulu zone leaders, our area authority's executive secretary, the mission nurse, and myself met in the mission office for the conference training call. It really was amazing to be able to reach 180+ missionaries at one time over the telephone. We even had a question and answer session after the call.  As it turned out, both hurricanes weakened, and pretty much missed Hawaii so no shelters were needed. Now we need to have everyone fill out forms and get officially registered with the Red Cross. Then, if they are needed in the future, all we need to do is initiate our phone tree. This also means we (probably me) will need to have every new missionary do the online training. I am the designated person to coordinate training and registering with the Red Cross.

We don't hear from parents very often, but this week we had several emails from parents of the new missionaries. They were worried about where their son/daughter was serving and if they were in danger from the hurricanes. I was glad to be able to reassure them.

I asked Devon how he would describe his week and he said "hectic/busy." He is still trying to find apartments for missionaries that are doubled up in other apartments. He has found some, but still needs two more. He found a wonderful one, but the landlord didn't like the idea that the tenants  would be rotating every 6 weeks. He had never rented with the church before and was skeptical. His loss. The missionaries don't party, drink, stay up late, play loud music....and the church ALWAYS pays on time. So the hunt continues. He is also busy delivering mattresses, cell phones, bicycles, fire alarms and extinguishers. He had the tough job of telling one landlord that we would not be renewing the contract. She is a single,  invalid lady, and really loved having the missionaries there. The apartment was the one with mold and mushrooms. The problem seems to have been fixed, but the sister missionaries are freaked out about going back. I think their parent's are worried about it as well. I would say nothing is ever stable for very long. You jump over one hurdle and there is always another waiting for you down the track.

Needless to say, the weekend was a welcome relief. Friday night we went to dinner with the Overduyn's to Eggs 'n Things where we had "br-inner".Saturday we did a little cleaning, a little grocery shopping, and lots of resting. It feels like a gift to think that we get a 3 day weekend! Saturday evening the Overduyn's came over and taught us a new card game - 99's. It was fun and we enjoyed laughing and relaxing. We also watched the last quarter of the BYU football game and were thrilled they won! GO COUGARS! Sunday we enjoyed church. I played the mighty tabernacle organ again...love it... and we had wonderful lessons. Sunday evening we drove to Laie for "break the fast" with the senior missionaries at the PCC and BYUH. Devon had to deliver some things to missionaries up there, so we made it a multi-task trip. It has been a wonderful weekend, and we still have one more day off - a tender mercy just when I need it!

The best part of our week is always when we get to talk with our family. We celebrate the positive - Marianne got a new job; and worry about the problems - Brad is sick and Stephen has a fractured clavicle and torn labrum. We do the best thing we could do whether there or here, and that is to turn to Heavenly Father to give thanks and pray for special blessings. We have faith that all will be well. There is purpose in everything, and God is with us every step of the way. We feel His love and are so grateful to have this opportunity to serve Him.