This past week was crazy! We met on Friday morning to have a farewell breakfast for our sisters who are returning home. This is always a bittersweet occasion. Breakfast, of course, starts the morning off on a positive note.
Sisters Noble, Vargas, Andrus, Javed, Weedman, Schwartz, Brownell, and Knight are extra smiley for 7:00 am in the morning. I'm always buoyed up by their happy spirits!
These sisters enjoy visiting as much as they enjoy eating. They truly love each other, whether they are assigned to the Visitors' Center of to serve in the field.
The predominant age around this table is definitely over 60. Sister Schwartz and Sister Hartley do their best to keep things lively.
I was laughing while I watched Sister Dashjav fill her plate. How can she see what she's putting on it?
Our lovely Sister Shurtz, who has been such a wonderful asset to our mission and especially the Visitors' Center, will be returning to Clearfield, Utah. She has been a marvelous trainer and a very loving companion to so many. What a strong testimony she shared with us.
Sister Javed shows deep emotion as she shares her testimony with us. She will be returning to Pakistan, but is hopeful that she can return to the states and study at BYU. We'll keep our fingers crossed....
This is Sister Livingston's second time serving in the Arizona,Mesa Mission. She worked in the mission office during her first 18 months and then she and her husband applied for a second 18 months and were assigned to the Visitors' Center. Lucky us!
Elder Livingston is such a friendly, personable man. It has been fun to see him interact with people as they come into the Visitors' Center. His testimony and love for everyone he meets has been a wonderful asset to our center. We'll miss the Livingstons!
Goodbye, Sisters Shurtz, Dashjav, and Javed. You are AWESOME!
It's hard to lose 5 outstanding missionaries at one time. We'll feel a gigantic hole here at the VC for quite a while.
The same evening as our farewell breakfast, the senior couples in the mission met at the mission home for a get-together. This is also a wonderful group of missionaries. So many couples are needed to help keep the mission running smoothly. We're especially grateful to President and Sister Ellsworth, who keep everyone anxiously engaged in a great cause.
Sister Ellsworth shared a funny experience with my husband as they visited before dinner.
When this many seniors sisters get together there is always a lot of great food. We enjoyed pulled-pork sandwiches and all the trimmings. Mmm....Delicious!
It was nice to have President and Sister Castenada at the party. President Castenada is Second Counselor in the Mission Presidency.
President Porter (right), First Counselor in the Mission Presidency, and his wife visit with Elders Nilsen and Livingston. The Porters live in Heber and will no longer be in the Mesa Mission after July 1st. He'll certainly be a blessing to the Scottsdale Mission, however.
Fast-forwarding to Monday morning, the sisters gathered at 7:00 am to do a service project on the temple grounds. It is time for the spring flowers to be pulled up and the summer flowers planted before it gets too hot for them to get a good start.
Sister Gannon and Miller pull huge bunches of petunias.
These sisters are certainly getting into the swing of things. It's unusual seeing them in casual clothing. I know from experience that it feels good to occasionally get to wear something besides a skirt.
Sisters Dashjav and Avila show their muscles as they heft a crate of daffodil bulbs to the truck.
Each of the bulbs have to be carefully dug up so they can be re-planted in the fall.
Sisters Larson, Avila, and Lewis start on the plants around the reflecting pool.
Hey, even Sister Beckstrand put her camera down long enough to help out. Living on temple grounds, we aren't allowed to do any of the gardening around our house. This is kind of a nostalgic opportunity for me to get to work in the dirt again.
Sister Slater has both hands full of daffodil bulbs. When they were in bloom, they were GLORIOUS!
Many hands make quick work. It was just a little sad to see these beautiful flowers go into the dumpster. Sigh....
Sister Gordon has been filling this little truck that was parked here by the gardeners.
Don't get too close to the edge of the pool, Sisters Valladares and Smith. Even in Arizona that water would probably be cold at 7:00 in the morning.
Sister Longshore is pretty handy with that shovel. She seems to have had some previous experience.
Sister Weedman carries a big load of flowers to the truck. There are muscles on that girl!
Don't you just love these happy smiles? This will be Sister Dashjav's last activity with the mission - she leaves tomorrow to fly home. Left to right we see Sister Castillo, Sister Dashjav, Sister Valladares, Sister Aquino, and Sister Weedman.