Thursday, August 22, 2013

A New Look and Important Visitors

And now, for the exciting conclusion of the "Bowl" Saga.  The leveling of the new soil was where we left off in last week's post.

The gardeners spent several days getting this step perfected.  The foundation needs to be smooth and free of stones or holes when the new grass is laid.
After dark on Tuesday, August 13th, two huge trailers of sod was delivered to the temple grounds.

By morning there were pallets of grass located all over the area, and the temple gardeners had started laying sod on the western rim in preparation for the volunteers to arrive in the evening.

Another truckload of sod was unloaded during the day.

About 6:30 the young men and women started to arrive and were put right to work.  Girls worked as hard as their male counterparts in the hot sun.  This was not an easy task but these young people were troopers!

Hey!  Here are two familiar faces!  Sister Weedman and Sister Finau joined their ward's YM and YW in helping with this huge service opportunity.  We can use everyone!

The young people and their leaders did an outstanding job.  What a great church we belong to!!! 
By dark the young people had laid half the bowl.  Their combined efforts made the task go quickly.

Already we can see a huge difference from the front doors of the Visitors' Center.

One more night of donated labor and VOILA! - the job is completed.  What a beautiful new look!  (And this is more what we're used to ---- brown is just not as pretty as green.)

A wonderful treat was in store for our mission on August 12th and 13th when Elder Craig Cardon from the First Quorum of the Seventy came to our mission to teach and uplift the elders and sisters.  (He is standing farthest to the right with his wife to his right.  Next to Sister Cardon is Elder Wright, our Area Authority, then Sister Jenkins, President Jenkins, and President Ahlstrom - President Jenkins First Counselor in the Mission Presidency.)  Before the meeting began, all missionaries were invited to come forward and shake Elder Cardon's hand.  He had each person tell him where they were from and how long they had been serving.

 Between sessions this picture was taken in the cultural hall.  This group represents half of the Arizona Mesa missionaries.  The other half attended the Mission Tour on Monday.  We currently have around 140 missionaries, but will be receiving a large new group on August 27th.  Eventually our complement will total around 250 missionaries.

Another important visitor arrived at the Visitors' Center from the Missionary Department on Monday evening, August 19th.  This is Melanie Cottam, Manager of Field Operations for all of the Visitors' Centers in the church.
Our sisters congregated on Tuesday morning at 7:00 am to receive training and instructions from Sister Cottam.  Our choir enjoyed sharing a rendition of "Consider the Lilies" to begin the meeting.
Melanie's training was well received by our sisters.  She has such a warm, fun personality and sincerely complimented our missionaries on the fabulous work they're doing here at the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center.
Sister Cottam enlisted Sister Weedman to help illustrate the process of greeting new guests as they come into the Visitors' Center.  As you can see, there are a lot of things to be considered.

 Following the training the sisters enjoyed 'fruit soup' and banana, zucchini, and pumpkin breads for breakfast.  They like this part of the training almost as much as the actual meeting.
Wednesday morning we were back at the center bright and early (7:00 am again) for more training.  We practiced, evaluated, and re-practiced all we had been taught the day before. 

The Christus area is such a beautiful place to learn how to be more effective as missionaries because the spirit is especially sweet in this area.
We took the opportunity to get a group picture with Sister Cottam and all of the sisters and couples who are serving here at the center.  This has been a very helpful training - we wish she could come at least once a month.

Following the group training, Sister Cottam set up a telephone conference with two men from the missionary department and the MTC who are in charge of the I-pad test program.  Our sisters had a lot of questions that they were able to discuss with these brethren.  It helped a TON!

Melanie shared some final counsel with Sister Valladares and Sister Miller, our VC trainers, before leaving for the airport to return to Salt Lake City.  Thank you SO MUCH for coming and please come again very soon.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Big Goings On in the 'Bowl"

One morning in July we were surprised to see this equipment in the 'bowl' north of the Visitors' Center cutting and removing the sod.  In just two days it was a large brown wasteland.

The next step was to dig trenches for a new sprinkler system.

The trenches were dug deep into the ground to allow the soil to be tilled above the sprinkler lines.

Machines moved the pipes around the field, placing them in the trenches to be manually connected to each other.  It took about a week.

Once the new sprinkler lines were buried, large dump trucks began to arrive.  They carried new soil that will be mixed with the existing ground to enrich the soil and provide a better foundation for the grass in this area.  The traffic in the bowl during Easter Pageant and Christmas Lights is very hard on the grass.

 New soil was dumped onto the existing dirt, providing a better, more stable foundation for the grass.

It took truckload after truckload to get the quantity of dirt required for the job.

Then the task of leveling the dirt began.  This tractor worked for several days moving the soil around to evenly distribute it and level it out.

The next procedure was to rotor-till the new soil into the existing ground.  This industrial-sized tiller blended the soils and then smoothed it back out.  We are told that an army of young men will be here later this week to lay sod over the finished area.  That will be fun to watch!  Stay tuned to this blog for the exciting finish and our NEW LOOK!  In the mean time, I think we should hold the national dirt bike championships here in the bowl.  That would bring a LOT of people to our visitors' center!

Meanwhile, back in missionary land, the senior couples met at the new mission home on July 22nd for our first Family Home Evening together.  Good food and lively conversation made the evening very enjoyable.

President and Sister Jenkins hosted the event and paused just long enough to let me get this picture of them standing in their lovely kitchen.  The home is large, with six bedrooms and a large office for the President.  They will be able to house quite a few missionaries coming and going from the field.

P-days often inspire shopping sprees.  We all got a kick out of Sister Duffin and Sister Longshore with their new look-alike blouses.  They really look like a coordinated companionship!

Speaking of coordinated - there were six of us who came dressed in pink and black on Sunday, July 28th.  This was too coincidental to pass unrecorded!  We obviously function on the same wavelength!
 Sister Brownell was very disappointed to be left out of the group.  I guess she didn't get the memo.....

Birthdays are always celebrated with a fun cubby sign and birthday cake.  Sister Castillo celebrated her 22nd birthday on July 30th, which was just one of the 4 birthdays we celebrated in July.

We said goodbye to the Jenkins on July 11th so the missionary department sent us a wonderful new couple, the Ballards, on July 12th.  They are from North Ogden, Utah, and are going to be a great addition to the Visitors' Center.  Sister Ballard if 5 foot 10 inches tall, which would make her husband easily 6 foot 4 inches.  When I stand next to the other couples in the VC I feel like a midget!  Their spirits are as large as their frames.  Welcome to the Visitors' Center - Arizona's 'jewel in the desert'.  You're going to LOVE it here!