Saturday, April 28, 2012

Goodbye Sister Tejada, Hello Sister Noble

 It's always hard to say goodbye to our wonderful sister missionaries.  Sister Tejada (center, pink sweater) has been here eighteen months, however, and we have to let her go.  We'll miss her!

The sisters gather round to sing "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again."

Time for hugs - Sister Avila gets to her first, while the other sisters patiently wait their turns.

A final picture with Sister Javed.  This is a happy-sad occasion.  Sister Tejada has had a wonderful mission and is going home with honor, but we will feel a huge hole at the VC in her absence.

Welcome Sister Noble!  It is so nice to have a shining new sister to replace Sister Tejada.  Sister Noble is from Indiana via Utah State University.  (Go Aggies!)

We stole an opportunity to take a picture at the Christus with our newest sister missionary.  What a privilege it is to work so closely with these wonderful young women.

We were SHOCKED to walk toward the Visitors' Center one morning and find all of the flowers removed from the front of the temple.  While the flower bed was empty and could be walked on, there were some cracks in the  retaining wall that needed repair. 

These workers did a great job rebuilding the wall.

The final coat was smoothed over and made ready for repainting.  It will soon look good as new.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the Visitors' Center there is work being done in the reflecting pool.  The tile around the perimeter is being replaced, and a new surface put on the floor of the pool.

The temple grounds are always so beautifully tended.  We're right in the transition between spring flowers and summer flowers.  The rim of dirt around the edge of the pool will soon be full of beautiful summer flowers - hearty enough to withstand 120 degree temperatures.

Hey!  It does rain in Arizona!  The first real rain we've seen since our arrival came on April 26th.  The state is especially dry this year.

Outside to the north of the center we watched a huge crane take down the light towers in front of the pageant stage.  These huge metal stanchions are unbolted from their casings in the grass, and then lifted up and gently laid on the ground by cranes.  This is quite an undertaking.

Now that they are down they can be dismantled and stored until next year.

NEWS FLASH!  We have chicken pox in the mission!  Sister Hansen is the lucky new recipient of chicken pox.  She's feeling pretty rotten, and is quarantined from the other sisters.  She spent the day on our sofa while I made cinnamon rolls for the Prep. Meeting breakfast on Friday.  We're hoping and praying that we can stop the spread of the disease to the other sisters. 

 We had a great prep meeting on April 27th in which Sisters Anderson, Fors, and Carlson demonstrated the Armor of God presentation that we do for Primary groups.  Sister Carlson reads the scriptural reference from Ephesians 6 as Sister Anderson helps dress our cute volunteer.

Sister Fors looks pretty well protected with all of her gospel armor.  Now she's ready to face the adversities that are so prevalent all around us.

Following the meeting the girls enjoyed cinnamon rolls and fruit, juice and cereal - whatever they were in the mood for.

Sister Cottrell is finishing a cinnamon roll while Sister Lamb visits with her.  They get these few moments of time together then they're back to work, fulfilling their missionary purpose.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Farewell to Some Wonderful Senior Couples

Sister Schwartz (in imitation of the Ten Virgins scene in the Easter Pageant) begs Sister Parker for more oil for her lamp, but of course Sister Parker is unable to help her.  It is April 7th, the day before Easter, and we have been given permission to take pictures on the pageant stage.  The day is sunny and warm.  What an amazingly beautiful place to serve as missionaries!

Some of our sisters get creative with flowers to add color to their photo.  Going in a clockwise circle from the bottom left, Sister Dashjav, Sister Solorzano, Sister Javed, Sister Falcon, and Sister Tejada.

We are saying goodbye today to the Pecks, a local couple who have been here as service missionaries at the Center.  We have enjoyed working with them and will miss seeing them at the Center.  Although they are both in their eighties, they told us they are planning to submit their papers to serve another mission.   Amazing!

Elder and Sister Romrell are completing their seventh mission today.  They will return to St. Anthony, Idaho at the beginning of next week.  We have LOVED working with the Romrells.  Sister Romrell is so organized and efficient, and Elder Romrell does so many "magical" things on the computer that makes scheduling shifts at the center much easier.  I don't know if we'll be able to get along without them.

The couple on the far left, The Hennigs, have also served a local mission which actually ended in January.  We wanted them to come today to show our appreciation for the wonderful job they did.  We are so blessed with the caliber of help that we have at the Visitors' Center.  Sister Hennig is a remarkable missionary!  Nobody leaves the Center without being welcomed and taught valuable gospel principles when Sister Hennig is around. 

Sisters Lamb and Larson look fresh as a daisy, even though they've been up until midnight every night for the past two weeks.  I think everyone will be relieved when the pageant closes tonight  and we return to a more normal schedule.
Here are three more of our Spanish-speaking sisters.  From left:  Sisters Slater, Hartvigsen, and Sordes.  I hope they'll be able to teach me some Spanish while we're serving here.  (They'll have their work cut out for them, however.)

Sister Sordes, center, joins her companion - Sister Avila, left, and Sister Crawford for a photo shoot.  Aren't they lovely?

Sisters Hartvigsen, Hollady, and Slater.  Big smiles, girls!

Sister Anderson is looking particularly 'Springy' today.  It's nice to put away the black clothes for a few months and enjoy the pretty spring colors.

Sister Kranendonk is standing where you can see the light stanchions and rows of chairs in the background.  This is the vantage point the cast sees each night as they perform.

Sisters Hansen and McKee hug for a quick picture.  They keep so busy that I was lucky to get this.  Sister Hansen is one of my administrative assistants and Sister McKee is one of our trainers.  They are both invaluable to the smooth running of the Visitors' Center.

Sisters Burton and Parker are companions this transfer and work very well together.  They are both hard workers and full of enthusiasm for missionary work.

Sister Lewis chooses a spot among the flowers for this pose.  She is as lovely as they are.

Sister Avila has fun with a basket of fruit.  Although raised in Texas and fluent in Spanish, she was called as an English-speaking sister.  So far she has only been with Spanish-speaking companions, however.  It will be interesting to see how long that continues.

And here is the lovely Sister Javed also sporting a basket of fruit on her head.  I wouldn't be surprised if she has seen women in her culture carry water and other things in this way.  Sister Javed is ALWAYS smiling - this is not just a pose for the camera.

Sister Romrell gives Sister Shurtz a big, final hug.  I'm sure it will be hard for them to leave these darling young women, but it will be wonderful to be back with their family again so it's a trade-off.  Goodbye - God Bless.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Pageant 2012

The much anticipated and  (to be honest) stressful day has arrived - the opening night of the 2012 Easter Pageant.  Sister Tejada and Solorzano explain to Sister Lewis the way the new posts will work during pageant.  Everyone is excited to get this year's event underway.

President and Sister Ellsworth join us for prayer meeting before we begin our night's work.  The sisters are raring to go!  This year our sister missionaries will have the entire responsibility of greeting people and looking for those 'golden' contacts because the Elders won't be working here.

The sisters working inside the VC depend on the sisters working outside to bring in the guests.  During the pageant we have the help of full field sisters from the Arizona Mesa Mission as well as the Arizona Tempe Mission.  We are thrice blessed!

Across the hall the cast missionaries are getting into costume to work outisde in the 'bowl'
along-side our full-time sisters.  These wonderful volunteers come every night to help encourage people to come inside the Visitors' Center to have their pictures taken with members of the cast.

When the sisters write down their names and addresses, the guests become a "Top" Box, which means that the guest has agreed to have the missionaries deliver the picture to their home and share a short message about our church.  It has become a very effective way to get quality referrals.
Sisters Schwartz and Dashjav encourage guests to go into one of the theaters to watch a short video presentation on the Savior's life and ministry.

 Outside, the chairs are beginning to fill up.  Some people come very early to get the front row seats. 

 The cast receives last minute instructions before going outside to get ready for the show.  There are over 400 people in the cast and at least that many working behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly.  There are even animal trainers who come each night to take care of the live animals that are in the show.

Sister Shurtz and Sister Burton greet the people who have come into the Savior of the World exhibit.
The diorama of Old Jerusalem in the center of the room is a favorite gathering place of guests.

These are two of the guests who came into the center to have their picture taken with cast members.  There were over 1200 pictures taken during the ten days of pageant.

Brother Jon Jackson (left) and one of the Roman soldiers pose for a photo.  Brother Jackson and his wife have been doing the pictures for the past three years.

 Sister Slater explains "God's Plan for His Family" before starting the video presentation.  This is one of the favorite exhibits in our center, depicting a family who live gospel principles in their home in order to earn the privilege to be a "Forever" family.

Elder and Sister Nilsen from the Mission Office came every night to work with the sister missionaries.  They were untiring in their zeal to meet and greet the pageant attendees, and Elder Nilsen even got a Top Box!  Way to go, Elder Nilsen! 

The Jenkins' smiles show their enjoyment at being part of this year's event.  The attendance, though down from last year, still totalled over 70,000 people.

Sisters Schwartz and Carlson pause to smile for the camera.  It's probably the only time all night that they took a break.  We have such dedicated, hard-working sisters!  We are so privileged to work with this caliber of young women.

This Roman Soldier gave me his flogging implement - how's that for brave?  (He probably knew I was much too soft-hearted to use it.)   This has been an incredible two weeks.