Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Look into Arizona's Past

I neglected to put a picture of our new greenie with her trainer on my last post.  Sister Longshore has had the great good-fortune to get Sister Valladares (right) as her trainer.  The interesting thing about these sisters is that they are both very talented singers.  I'd like to be a mouse in the corner when they occasionally break into song during the course of their days.

We learned on Sunday, February 17th, that Sister Mendoza was going to have to go home to Eagle Mountain, Utah for health reasons.  We were so sorry that the doctors here couldn't give her the help she needed.  Sister Noble looks on as Sister Mendoza cleans out her cubby.  Hurry back as quickly as you can, sweet sister.

Sister Hamstead is all smiles at the new addition of phones which connect to the computers in the work room.  Our new VC schedule, which has five companionships in the VC at a time, made it necessary to have more computers (and phones) available for their use.  These new work stations will be a big blessing to our center.

Outside the Easter Pageant preparations continue.  Today the light standards were raised.  The huge spots that hang from these poles can be seen from miles away.

The stage is almost finished being erected.  The cosmetic additions of rocks, trees, shrubs, etc. will be added soon because rehearsals begin on stage this coming Saturday.
 We have P-Day on Thursdays, and we decided to take advantage of our day off to visit the Phoenix Temple building site.  We were surprised at how much of the outisde was finished. 
It looks like only the steeple has yet to be covered.
This is an artist's rendition of how the temple will look when it is completed.  Another beautiful temple will be very welcome in this valley.
Spring is finally starting to appear in Mesa.  I was delighted to see daffodils dotting the temple grounds.   Pansies and other spring flowers are beginning to take hold, although they are about a month behind where they were last year at this time.

Elder Beckstrand enjoys a moment with some of the sisters who have gathered in his office.  It looks like it's black and white day - how come I didn't get the memo?

Whoops, I bragged about spring too soon.  We were surprised to look out the windows of the VC last week and see hail coming down quite heavily.

Sister Noble stood on the steps and tried to catch some of the pieces in her hand.

The hail eventually left a white layer on the grass, planting areas, and concrete walks.  The weather has been a very changeable this month - from freezing to temperatures in the 70's.  At least this white stuff melted quickly and we didn't have to shovel it.  (Utahns, eat your heart out.)

 I've been wanting to learn more about Arizona's history, so we spent our most recent P-Day at the old state capitol building in Phoenix.  This building was used in the early years of Arizona's statehood, but has been turned into a museum since the legislative bodies are now housed in newer, larger facilities. 

The grounds have many statues depicting important events in the state's military history.  This statue represents the Navajo code-talkers who served in WWII.  The Navajo language was used to prevent the enemy from understanding messages being sent and received.

Statues to soldiers who served in every major conflict were evident on the capitol grounds.

This one was interesting because it paid tribute to the peace officers who tried to bring law and order to a territory that was known for its notorious outlaws. (Think Wyatt Earp and the like.)

This was a depiction of the suffering that was endured in the Vietnam conflict.  Many other statues and monuments paid homage to the soldiers who had fought and died for this state and our country.

 The inside of the capitol building was beautiful - carved wood and old-fashioned chandeliers graced every level.
 This was the former meeting room of the state senate.  A guide pointed out that there would not have been any women in this room during the early years of statehood.  Women weren't allowed to run for public office until much later in the state's history.

Looking down upon the former meeting place of the House of Representatives.
The flag in the front of the room was used during the Cuban conflict and was carried by the "Rough Riders" of which Teddy Roosevelt was a member.

Back at the VC we're experiencing an unusual situation.  Seven of our VC sisters have full-field sisters as companions.  That is the largest number of full field sisters we have had under our 'umbrella' since we came last January.  The sudden increase of sisters coming into the mission has necessitated using VC sisters as trainers and full-field companions.  These lovely young ladies are Sisters Winn (full-field) and Brownell.

Sister Hamstead (left) is training this cute 'greenie' during her first transfer in the Arizona Mesa Mission.  Sister Remington and Hamstead are enjoying yogurt parfaits following our weekly prep. meeting.

Here we have Sister Cottrell (left) with her full-field companion, Sister Newton.   I've wondered if Sister Noble might be a tiny bit jealous - she and Sister Newton are first cousins and would love to serve together while they're here.

But Sister Noble is all smiles at the pleasure of training Sister Arevalo, a new sister who just arrived from El Salvador.  Sister Arevalo is quickly learning English and is picking up the responsibilities of the VC very quickly.  She will be a great asset during Easter Pageant for our Spanish guests.

Sister Gordon (left) is sharing her experience in the mission as she trains Sister Hollist, who is our first 19 year old sister at the VC.  Welcome to Arizona!
Sister Shurtz and Sister Crawford are back together after a year of separation.  Sister Shurtz trained Sister Crawford when she first arrived in the mission, then Sister Crawford went full field until last transfer.  She is back with us, and loves being back with her mission 'mom'. 

And our final full-field greenie is Sister Homer (left) who is being trained by Sister Miller.  We have enjoyed getting to know these enthusiastic new sisters in our mission and hope they'll get to stay with us for a while.
Just one final note -  this post wouldn't be complete without a comment on the announcement of last Friday (February 22nd) that the Arizona Mesa Mission will be divided this July.  We will lose the northern section of our mission when it becomes the new Scottsdale Mission.  Many questions are circulating regarding who will serve in which mission, but since our Visitors' Center is firmly in the center of Mesa,  we feel sure that we'll continue as missionaries in the Arizona Mesa Mission.  We're glad about that, since this is the BEST MISSION in the church.   No question....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February Transfer - A Big Loss to the VC

It's the last week of January and the fence has been erected that will surround the stage for the Easter Pageant.  It seems early - but March will be here before we know it.

Within the week we began to see the framework put in place.  Huge cranes were necessary to hoist the steel support beams.

Inside the Visitors' Center Sister Avila works on the history book.  She has been our historian for the past 2 transfers, but she is trying to finish the remaining pictures because she has a new calling that will necessitate turning this project over to another sister.

Thursday, January 30th, we held a Farewell Preparation Meeting at our home.  The table was set with ham, hash brown potatoes, eggs, and orange knots for the missionaries to enjoy.

The sisters always love the conversation as much as the food.  They enjoy getting together and sharing experiences and events of the previous weeks.

A second table of happy young sisters! 

And a third table.   We are so lucky to have such wonderful young sisters with whom to associate on a daily basis.  They are definitely the cream of the crop!

Following breakfast Sister Noble gives a heartfelt legacy for Sister Holladay.  We enjoy hearing the missionary qualities and personality traits that have served as a positive example in the lives of the departing sisters' companions.

Sister Larson cheerfully gives a legacy for Sister Sordes.  You could easily feel the love and respect she feels for our "Frenchie".  We're going to miss having Sister Sordes as a VC Trainer.

Sister Avila shares her feelings for Sister Mackenzie.  She served as her companion for two transfers, and highlighted some of her unique qualities and strengths.  Sister Avila was sustained just a few minutes before as the new VC Trainer to replace Sister Sordes when she leaves on Tuesday.

Now the tender part of the morning began - the departing sisters shared their testimonies and the things they had learned on their missions.  Sister Holladay was the first speaker.  She shared how much the mission has changed her and strengthened  her testimony.

Then we heard from Sister Sordes.  She bore a powerful testimony of the atonement and it's effect in her life.  She has been a wonderful missionary and an outstanding trainer.
 The spirit in the room was very strong and an emotional Sister Mackenzie added her feelings about her mission and her love for all the sisters present.

We adjourned to the Visitors' Center where we had a group photo taken.  What a beautiful group of young sisters!  It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since we arrived.
The traditional "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" song is always a heart-wrencher.

And the group hug that followed probably threatened the departing sisters' safety.  Wow!  That's a lot of love!

Sad, but well satisfied with the time they've spent here in the Arizona Mesa Mission, these work-worn and well-seasoned sisters say a final goodbye.  We'll MISS them.

In just this week, great progress has been made on the stage.  It seems like it's bigger this year.  Some changes have been announced that seem to involve the width across the front.  I'll be interested to see what the final result will be.

As always, when we lose sisters, we gain sisters.  Yeah!  Sister Home has been assigned to the VC to be trained by Sister Miller.  Our only regret is that she isn't called to be a VC sister so her time here will probably be of short duration.  Dang it!

Sister Longshore, on the other hand, is a new VC sister from Washington State.  She is a very talented young sister who has a rich history of singing, acting, and dancing in her background.  I love it!  We'll certainly enjoy having her in our choir and will find many uses for her other gifts.
The day after the Farewell breakfast my son and his family arrived to spend a few days in Mesa.  Here I took a picture of Alyssa helping her mother pick some lemons.

On Saturday we went for a ride out to Apache Junction and enjoyed the ghost town of Goldfield.  Tim met some colorful characters on main street and got quite friendly with them.  I wonder where Cassie is.....

Oh, oh - she's found a colorful character of her own.  We were in time to witness a shoot-out and bank robbery right there on main street.  Alyssa wasn't sure that she liked all that noisy shooting.

But she definitely enjoyed panning for gold.  She found some pretty garnets and a few flakes of gold pyrite.  None of the real stuff, I'm afraid.

It's always hard to bid our family goodbye, but on Monday morning they loaded up their car and headed for Disneyland.  I'm sure they had an excited little girl when they arrived - it was a surprise!

The work of the mission continues as the new transfers bring new leadership to the mission.  On Friday, February 8th we attended Zone Leader Council.  Sister Ellsworth took a few minutes and instructed the new (and continuing) zone leaders on matters of importance.

Our trainers, Sisters Avila and Shurtz, helped the assistants do a training on helping investigators make commitments through careful lesson planning.  The VC trainers were able to share with the zone leaders that the VC had 15 baptisms reported in January.  That is an all-time record for the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center.  We're so proud of how hard our sisters work, and the Lord is truly blessing them with success.

We enjoyed the morning and were glad to participate in a group photo with such an elete group of mission leaders.  The elders are also very faithful and devoted missionaries.  What a privilege to be associated with each of them.  The Lord is hastening His work, and we're excited to be a part of it.