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.