Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week 47 Report

Monday was off to a good start. I think we’re both feeling a little relief. I’m not sure if we’re actually better, or just taking more pain meds. Either way we’re glad to be a little more comfortable.

After our rainy, windy weekend it was a welcome sight to wake up to beautiful Hawaiian blue skies. Work at the office was a nice pace – just enough to keep busy. I was able to do the mail for Sister Shurtz and still get all my things done. My physical therapist cancelled our appointment because she had to stay home with her sick child. I’m sorry for us both.

Tuesday was another routine day. I’m still busy booking travel home for many senior missionaries. There are so many coming and going from BYUH and the PCC. We also have several MLS changes going on. It all takes time. Departing seniors also means creating letters for their stake presidents and release certificates. Fortunately I’m mid-transfer, so paperwork is slow for the junior missionaries. That will start to ramp up in another week.

Brother and Sister Mataele invited us to dinner with some of their friends that are in town for a couple of weeks. They are so generous and we love being with them. They took us to a buffet in town that has been in operation since 1944. The setting was beautiful and the food pretty good. I found out after the fact that it is about $45.00/person. I wouldn’t say it was that good!! Anyway, we had a wonderful time and are so grateful for our association with this wonderful couple.

Wednesday was a busy day. We worked in the office most of the day. Then we went to the airport to pick up a senior couple that is coming to serve at the Laie Temple Visitor’s Center. They are from Washington state, but were both born and raised on Oahu. It’s like coming home for them. After we picked them up, we drove to the mission office for a quick meet ‘n greet with the office staff. Then we drove them to their new pad in Laie. The Visitor’s Center Director met us there. After that we drove to the Visitor’s Center to drop off some supplies they requested from the office. Then a quick stop at an elders’ pad to give them some new bed frames and bed bug spray. They had their beds on the floor and were having a problem with bed bugs. It’s a process to get rid of the bugs. I hope they are successful. We met up with Elder and Sister Reeder at the Visitor’s Center. They had to deliver a car to a senior missionary and needed a ride back to Honolulu. We stopped at McDonald’s about 7:30 to pickup a little dinner and arrived home about 9:00. Early bed was a welcome sight.

Before President Warner left last July he gathered photos of the five previous mission homes used in Hawaii. Most are no longer standing. His dream was to have them framed and hung in the mission office. He didn’t get it done before he left, so he turned the assignment over to me. Part of the assignment was to take a photo of the current mission home. Well, we finally got that photo, so today Sister Reeder, Sister Shurtz, and I took the digital images to a photo place and had them printed. The next step will be getting them framed. Hopefully we’ll get that done next week.

Lanihuli Street Mission Home - Laie, Hawaii - 1850 - 1880 

Lusitana Mission Home - Honolulu, Hawaii 1880 - 1890

Kalihi Mission Home - Honolulu, Hawaii 1890 - 1950

Beretania Street Mission Home - Honolulu, Hawaii 1950 - 1960

Nuuanu Mission Home - Honolulu, Hawaii 1960 - 1985

Kahala Mission Home - Honolulu, Hawaii 1985 - present 

I made a reservation at the Pagoda Hotel for our last week here in Honolulu. They have little kitchenette studios, so we should be just fine. It seems impossible to be so close to the end.

Thursday and Friday we were blessed with more beautiful Hawaiian weather and good days in the office. President Bekker was in for a few hours on Thursday so we were all able to get questions answered. His schedule is beyond hectic. When you add in the problems that always come up, it becomes almost impossible. Fortunately, he can laugh about it…most of the time. The office staff all tries to handle as much as we can for him.

Friday I went to my physical therapist. We’re both disappointed with the lack of relief. She thinks I should be responding better. She gave me some new exercises and I will see her again on Monday.

Sister Reeder and I wore our "puffy" aloha dresses on Aloha Friday.

In the evening we went to dinner at Big City Diner with the other office couples. We’ve been to many expensive restaurants, but tonight we decided to go more basic. Both the food and the price were good, and we all enjoyed ourselves. We stopped in at Martin and McArthur’s – a fancy koa wood store. We admired everything, looked at the prices, and left with our wallets intact.

It’s Chinese New Year, so Saturday we decided to go to China Town. Someone mentioned that there would be lots going on – parades, booths, food samples, etc. Well, apparently it was last Saturday! So we bought yummy smoothies, walked around, and looked at some of the shops. Then we came home and had naps. Later we drove to the airport to meet a senior couple flying in from the MTC. They will be serving an MLS mission in Kona. They're so excited to begin their mission. 

On the way home from the airport we stopped at the Apple store. My phone has been having problems. Devon accidentally dropped it a few weeks ago and since then people have a hard time hearing me. The fall broke the microphone, and (of course) it can't be repaired. We ended up buying a new phone. That was a disappointment, but I can't believe how quickly we were able to get help and get the new phone set up. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store and then had a restful evening in our pad watching the BYU basketball game.

Sunday was another beautiful but VERY windy day. We went to church, rested, took a walk, and had wonderful phone conversations with some of our family. We're so excited! Our good friends, David and Gwen Dodge will be in Honolulu next week - so looking forward to their visit! 

We end another week stunned by how quickly time is passing, and amazed at the many little blessings that come our way. Oh there are challenges (broken phone, achy bodies), but when I see the whole, I realize these little things pale in comparison to the love and blessings I receive daily from the Lord. He truly makes my load light. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 46 Report

It’s Thursday already and I haven’t even thought of this blog. So far, the week has been rough. It’s a good thing work at the office hasn’t been crazy. My sciatic pain is getting worse. I started physical therapy on Monday and went again on Wednesday. I feel improved when I leave the session, but in between the pain gradually returns until sometimes it is unbearable. Sleep is hard. I know it’s early with physical therapy treatments, so I plan to carry on and be faithful with my home exercises…and my drugs – Prednisone, Tylenol, Naproxen, and Flexeril. I could open a pharmacy! I think one of the keys is to stay as pain free as possible. I tense up so much with pain and I’m sure that doesn’t help.

Devon’s jaw pain seems to be improving a little since he started back on his medication. He still needs Tylenol each day, but the pain is less. He has an appointment tomorrow with Dr. Wang. We’ll see if she has any ideas about what is causing the pain. I hope so.

It has been a real blessing that work has been quiet this week. If it was transfer week things would be impossible. A couple of our missionaries were in a car accident today – their fault. They were driving one of the new cars we got a couple of months ago. All four air bags deployed, so it will probably be totaled. The driver will be “black dotted” – lose his driving privileges. The good thing is that no one was hurt. Of course, they feel awful – we all feel awful. They are great missionaries. I told Elder Reeder, the car czar, they should have been driving our trashy little Cruz!

Devon’s doctor visit went well. She suggests trying a different medication to calm down the nerve and to try to get an appointment with an ENT here. So we’ll follow that plan. We had a lovely day at the office. I put the finishing touches on my instruction book for my replacement. I’m sure there are things I left out and every time I look through it I shuffle things around. My goal is two fold: have all the instructions written down, and be able to easily find what you’re looking for.

Friday evening we took the #2 bus to Waikiki with Elder and Sister Shurtz to have dinner at Duke’s. The bus was as packed as I’ve ever seen it. We stood the whole way down, which is fine with me. Sitting is so hard! The restaurant was packed, but we arrived early enough that we only had about a 5-minute wait to be seated. Then we had a lovely dinner and visit, and rode the bus back home. We found out that they like to play games. So do we! I hope we can find some time to do that with them. Elder and Sister Reeder didn’t join us for dinner. They have family in town.

Saturday was a lovely lazy day! We slept in, cleaned the pad, napped, and went grocery and Costco shopping. We stopped at the post office to pick up a few Flat Rate Mailing boxes. It’s time to start sending a few things home. I want to have everything organized so the end of our mission won’t be hectic. It’s so hard to get everything done at the last minute. It was one of my better days. But, I was late taking Tylenol in the evening and paid the price. Lesson learned!

I also reserved a house at Bear Lake, Utah in July for a 3-day family reunion with all our kids and their families. I’m super excited! I should have booked something sooner.  Most places are booked by now – at least the cheaper ones are. This has 16 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. It’s bigger than we need, but it was available for the dates we wanted, so I took it.

We ended our windy, rainy weekend with a nice day at church, a nap, and FaceTime with Daryn’s family. I feel rested, and incredibly blessed and grateful to be here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week 45 Report

Another week in paradise, although sometimes I have to be reminded it is paradise. We spend so much time in the office in Honolulu and there isn’t much paradise there. But, the people we work with make up for that – all wonderful – especially the missionaries.

Monday we spent a good amount of time in the morning going to Costco to pick up the food for Missionary Leadership Conference. And then in the afternoon we drove to the airport to pick up a sister who was arriving from the Canada Calgary Mission. She is from Canada, and was temporarily serving there while she waited for visa approval. It finally came last week, so they flew her to us on Monday. She’s adorable and so full of excitement and energy. She is the second oldest child of 5. Her family is all members of the church. They immigrated from the Philippines to Canada 6 years ago seeking better opportunities. She speaks great English and Tagalog, and will be serving at the Laie Temple Visitors Center.

Tuesday Devon made a trip to Laie to meet with an insurance adjustor. One of the apartments we rent for a senior couple had a water leak and sustained quite a bit of damage. No one was living in it at the time. The owner lives in California and she wanted Devon the meet with the insurance adjustor for her. We are not going to be able to keep the apartment (because we don’t need it) and the owner is really sad. It’s not a great apartment even without the water damage.

I’ve been so busy requesting travel for seniors going home in the next three months. We have so many. Most are easy to work with, but some have circumstances or requests that are difficult. I do my best to help, but a lot is out of my hands. I’ve also started working on documents/letters/etc. needed for the next transfer. It’s 5 weeks away, but if I don’t get started I won’t get it done. Problems come up daily and they distract from the routine.

Wednesday we were only in the office in the morning. We left early for a doctor’s appointment in Kahuku (by Laie). My sciatic nerve pain is getting worse, and added to that is a low-grade fever, body aches, and chills for about 10 days. So we made the hour and 15 minute drive. The doctor ordered x-rays of my chest and hip, but when I got to the hospital the order was for a lumbar spine and hip. I said, “Nope, that’s not right.” He checked with the doctor and then I had chest and hip x-rays, AND a series of spine x-rays. Whatever! The doctor called in a prescription of Prednisone to our pharmacy in Honolulu. He told me it would be 2 a day for 10 days, then 1 a day for 5 days, then ½ a day for 5 days. I get to the pharmacy and it’s only 2 a day for 10 days. What is going on? The pharmacist put a call into the doctor to clarify, but he wasn’t available, so we left without the med. We’ll have to go back tomorrow to get it. He was supposed to call me by now with the x-ray results, but no call yet. I’m beyond frustrated! I’m so used to great medical care and these two mistakes just drive me crazy. I feel sorry for people who don’t know when to speak up. Okay…rant over, but next time I’ll just go to the ER and pay the co-pay!

Today I am so grateful for a wonderful, patient husband and companion. He is worried about me and hates to see me hurting. He’s so good to take me to the doctor, and run get whatever I think will help make things feel better. I am truly blessed! So for now I’ll pull out the frozen peas and sit on them for a while!

Thursday morning came and my frustration with the sciatic pain and low-grade fever overcame me. We spent the morning in the ER. I was seen by a wonderful PA and doctor. The results were two fold: I don’t have a pelvic blood clot and I was referred to a local family practice doctor for follow-up. The rest of the day we worked in the office and Devon ran mission errands. Another medical problem has cropped up. Devon's jaw pain is back and as bad as ever. He has been off his meds for about 4 months, but will restart them and hope it will quiet down the nerve. We are falling apart!

Friday was a quiet day in the office. I was able to get a lot done updating the instruction binder for my replacement. Every time I look it over I find one more thing to update. Just let a few days go by and there is something new or different to add. Thankfully, we will overlap a week here in Hawaii so I should be able to show her everything. Actually, she has a lot more office experience than I do…she’ll probably show me a thing or two!

We left at 2:30 for my appointment with the new doctor. Her office is just down the street and she is WONDERFUL! I will be starting physical therapy on Monday and she ordered a short course of Prednisone to try to relieve the inflammation and irritation that we think is causing the pain. There’s always the off chance there is new cancer activity, but neither of us thinks that’s the case. If this course of action doesn’t help, we’ll pursue that avenue. Another good outcome from this doctor visit is that she will see Devon next week about his jaw pain.

We returned to the office to finish out our workday about 6:00 and then decided to catch a quick dinner and movie. We saw “Hidden Figures” and really enjoyed it.

Saturday we slept in and had a lazy morning that included doing a little laundry. At noon we arrived at the harbor to enjoy the Christmas present Daryn and Catie gave us – a whale watching lunch cruse. It was wonderful!

Our ship - Star of Honolulu.
It's funny...we see this ship from our apartment cruising back and forth almost daily.

Docked across the harbor from us was this sweet lady. She cruises around the Hawaiian islands.

Pulling out of the harbor. The white tower with the steeple is the Aloha Tower.

Waikiki Beach. I love the historic pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel among all the newer skyscrapers. Also, notice how they build homes up the side of the mountain. They are really packed in, but have beautiful views.


The next photos are of various ships we passed.

Tug boats bringing this sailing ship in.

Lunch - yum!

At the end of the cruise they had three different Hawaiian activities. One was lei making - I didn't get a photo of that.

Keike (children) getting ready to learn the hula. They were adorable!

And my favorite...a ukulele lesson. He taught us how to play "Diana" and "You Are My Sunshine." So much fun. He is playing a Kanilea ukulele - same brand as mine. He was quite impressed that I had one. I'm impressed with his. It's got a baritone body and tenor neck - custom made.

Ukulele band

Happy cruising senior missionaries!

You, no doubt, noticed there was not one photo of a whale. That's because we didn't see any! Such a disappointment. But since we were guaranteed to see whales, everyone was given a voucher to take another cruise. WIN WIN! I would love to go again, thank you very much! And a big THANK YOU to Daryn and Catie!

Our day ended with a little shopping. We need to pick out a refrigerator for our new Lehi home, so we went to Best Buy the check them out. I think we've made a decision. We also did a little grocery shopping and had a quiet evening. I worked on my Hawaiian appliqué project.

Our weather this week has been warmer and so nice. I wonder if winter is over in Hawaii (not that we had much winter). Sunday was no exception - a beautiful day. We enjoyed church and quiet time in our apartment. I'm beginning to feel like I need to start shipping things home. The weeks are flying by and time is creeping up on us. There are a few more places we want to visit before we leave and I hope we get it all done.

My cousin who is serving an office mission in Arkansas shared a scripture in her blog last week that I want to share here. It's found in Moroni 7:2. 
"And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the gift of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time."

In my arrogance, I thought of this mission as my gift to God. But I have come to know that it really has been His gift to me. I've learned so much, had such wonderful experiences (some that have challenged me), and met so many wonderful people. It truly has been a gift. I hope I will approach whatever calling comes next with this new attitude and feel grateful for all the opportunities God puts in my path.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Week 44 Blog

Monday – the first day of transfer week. Devon’s leg is looking pretty good – still a little red, but vastly improved. I’m also feeling rested and better.

I had a sweet surprise when Sister Liwai showed up in our office for visit, and brought us a box of yummy chocolate covered biscuits – made on the Big Island.

Sister Liwai (pronounced Levi) lives on the Big Island. She was in Oahu for a family wedding (that got cancelled, but she came anyway) and stopped by the office to meet me. She has been organizing the Mission Zone Conference Luncheons on the Big Island for 17 years. She was stake RS president many years ago and has kept the luncheon assignment all these years. She is wonderful and loves our missionaries so much!!! She has been such a cheerful support to me as I was learning how to organize the luncheons – so loving and patient. I was thrilled to meet her. Can’t you just tell by her beautiful smile that she is one in a million!

That was such a good start for my week. We were steady busy but not crazy. I finished the monthly mission newsletter and got that emailed to everyone. I finished the departing books for our missionaries that leave tomorrow. Eight beautiful new missionaries arrived safely from the Provo MTC. They were supposed to arrive about 3:30 but their plane was late. They gathered their luggage and then drove to Tantalus to see Honolulu. Sister Bekker likes to give them a history talk about Hawaii while they are there. She is a big history buff. It was 6:00 pm before they came to the office. We had pizza dinner ready for them. President and the AP’s did a short orientation and then the office staff did their orientation. It was almost 9:00 before we got home – a very long day as we started at 8:00 am. We may need to adjust this schedule.

Tuesday was truly crazy – transfer day. The office was buzzing with missionaries. They love to come see the office staff and we love them. A couple missionaries were pretty sad to be transferring, and, to tell the truth, I was sad to see them go. Oh well, that’s how it goes.

Elder Eborn (L) has been assigned to our ward for the last 5 months. We've enjoyed getting to know him, but he has been transferred. Elder Ashby (R) will be staying and getting a new companion. This is his first transfer cycles, so he is glad to be staying. They are both great missionaries.

Our AP's - Elder Lybbert (L) and Elder Roney (R). Elder Roney is a brand new AP and Elder Lybbert is fairly new himself. They will be great leaders.

Sister Yamamoto (L) and Sister Iino (R) - both from Japan. We bonded with Sister Iino when her apartment had mushrooms and we had to find them a new apartment. Both these sisters are so sweet and such good missionaries.

We had lots of mail because Monday was a holiday. I had multiple calls to make to various offices at the missionary department in SLC: requested a couple coming in March be delayed until April, requested a senior couple who went home in December on medical leave be released in the computer, verified that the missionary coming from Phoenix that we were hosting overnight was really coming (the last two didn’t show up), had an issue with IMOS, and I had to call a couple of senior missionaries on the mainland that are coming in a couple of months. B-U-S-Y! Then I downloaded the photos of the incoming missionaries and emailed them to their parents. Last, but not least, I did the weekly Come and Go Report. We had two new missionary recommendations for Visitor Center missionaries, so those had to be printed up and files made, and had to email a PDF copy to the Visitor Center Director.  We ended the day with a trip to Office Depot to pick up the printed newsletters, and Walgreens to pick up the photos of the new missionaries. We stopped at Panda Express for take out on the way home. After dinner we folded laundry and I ironed Devon’s shirts. I also enjoyed short phone calls with Lori, Emily, and Barbara during the day.

Devon was busy all day in the office getting all the moves straightened out in IMOS. Every transfer people get moved, phones get traded, so it’s a job to keep it all organized. It seems there is always a surprise move at the last minute and Devon has to deal with that.

Wednesday Devon was in the office all day working on letters to the landlords. Many of them want to be notified when our missionaries move in and out of their apartments, so Devon prepares letters letting them know who is now living in the apartment. I was busy all day as well. Previously I sent release certificates to only the MLS, MRS, and Office missionaries. The PCC and BYUH sent out their own. Well somewhere along the way this past year they stopped sending them. No one seems to know who was doing the job, so they have now decided to give it to me. It’s no problem, but now I have to go back and send certificates to those who didn’t get one. So that kept me busy. I found out that one of our sisters who has been temporarily serving in Canada Calgary Mission while she waits for her visa approval has been granted her visa. They were going to wait until our next transfer (6 weeks) to send her, but we want her now. So after a few phone calls I think it’s been worked out. As soon as the Calgary Mission has the visa in hand, travel will book her flight to us. 

After work we drove to Costco to pick up a few things for us, and a couple of study tables for missionaries. Unfortunately, Costco was out of the tables. We’ll have to go to another Costco tomorrow to get them. We came home, had a quick and easy dinner, and just kicked back.

Thursday Devon was out of the office all day delivering and moving furniture, and then he went to Costco to get the tables. It seemed I had one thing after another all day. President was in the office all afternoon doing interviews, so we had quite a few missionaries in and out. I had to talk to a couple of missionaries whose release date falls between transfers. When this happens, President gives them their choice of which date they want to go home on. One sweet missionary was devastated just thinking about going home much less making a decision about when. We had a long talk. I hope he can work it out. Another elder is thinking about what he wants to do, and the third one knew right away he wanted to stay as long as he could.

We found out that one of our missionaries had a seizure last night and had to go to the emergency room. He is an excellent missionary, but he is being sent home to be evaluated and treated. Hopefully, he will be back. His companion is also fairly new. He did a great job getting help, but it shook him to the core.

Friday – wonderful Friday! All the advancement letters to the parents went out today. This is the fastest I’ve had them out after transfers. I think that’s because President is getting the transfer board finalized quicker in IMOS. When that it done it makes everything easier after transfers. I have about 5 senior couples that need travel home. A couple know what they want to do and were easy to request. But a couple more just can’t make up their minds about when to leave. I encouraged them to talk it over and let me know ASAP – I’m already overdue requesting them. We have 5 senior missionaries that want to change their release dates. It’s not a problem if it’s within 30 days of their original date, but if it is outside that date it gets complicated. So I’ve been working on that as they are all outside the 30 days. Two stand a chance, but I’m not sure about the other three. We’ll see.

Devon was in and out of the office today, but was able to get a lot done. After office hours we went to dinner with the other office couples to a wonderful Asian restaurant in Manoa Valley. It is the best Asian food I’ve had – everything is good, especially the honey walnut shrimp! It was fun to just relax and enjoy time together.

Saturday – our first totally free P-day in quite a while. We slept in! Then we did a little laundry and got cleaned up for the day. We decided to go check out the blowhole at Halona Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day so we were excited to be out in the sun. Well, the rock formations at the blowhole were amazing, and we enjoyed seeing the ocean crash into the rocks, but it was low tide and thus no activity from the blowhole. Oh well. Next time we’ll check the tide charts before we go see it.

We drove a little way farther down the road and stopped at a beach. We pulled our mats and chairs out of the trunk of the car and set up on the beach for an hour. It was glorious basking in the sun and hearing the ocean waves roll in and out. Well, glorious until the clouds rolled in and it started to sprinkle. At that we folded up our stuff and headed back to town.

Sister Shurtz and I meet up when we got home and went to get pedicures. I used to go with Sister Overduyn all the time and she’s gone home. I’m grateful to have a new buddy to do this with me.

I drove home, dropped off Sister Shurtz, picked up Devon, and headed to the theater to see “La La Land.” We both really enjoyed it, but Devon was worried for the first half hour. After the movie we went to Safeway for groceries and then home for dinner and rest. It was a good Saturday.

Sunday was wonderful – sunny and warm. We enjoyed watching the Golden Globe Awards in the evening – especially as we just had seen “La La Land” last night.

I really enjoyed Sunday School today. We are studying the Doctrine and Covenants and today’s lesson was specifically about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. We read and discussed many scriptures – interesting discussion. Our teacher ended with a personal experience I will try to share. He said he told the Lord once that he really didn’t need adversity to keep him faithful, active, obedient. He was going to do that no matter what. But then a strong impression came to him….”But how will you come to know Me?”

I read a quote from Jeffrey Holland this week, “…man’s extremity is God’s opportunity…” This resonates so powerfully in me. I have experienced God’s companionship and comfort most in the moments of my greatest despair. I don’t seek for adversity – but I know it can come at any time, in any form. I try to live to have God’s companionship all the time. How sweet is His peace. But how powerful when His all encompassing love and peace lifts me in my affliction and carries me to a place of peace and hope. My testimony is sure and my heart is full.