Sunday, September 29, 2013

Where Did September Go?

This silver knight met Elder Beckstrand when we went inside the new Mesa Mission Office.  This is a very effective reminder to all of the missionaries that we need to put on the Armor of God to be successful here.

And being successful is what we're all about.  This transfer there were so many new sisters that 8 of our Visitors' Center sisters have been recruited to train new full-field sisters.  This is the highest number of VC trainers with full-field greenies in the 20 months we have been here.  We're up to 36 under the Visitors' Center umbrella!  Wow!

Preparation Meetings on Friday morning give us the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together.  This morning's training was focused on teaching the sisters how to use the Armor of God costume that we have here at the center.
Sister Duffin was our model - she's not much bigger than most of the children we teach! 
Sometimes we need an excuse to be girls.  Today is Sister Hourrutiner's birthday, and the sisters dressed in purple - her favorite color.
Not to be outdone, just a week later Elder Ballard celebrated his birthday.  We all wore some shade of blue to help commemorate his special day.  The color blue - boy birthday, makes sense, right?
The temple gardeners have already removed the summer flowers from around the temple retaining wall.  It seemed quite early in the fall to take them out, but they explained that the retaining wall needed painting before the 'spring' flowers were planted.  Yes, I agree - it seems weird to think of planting spring flowers in October. 

Many hands make the work lighter.  They should have asked our sisters to help pull out the flowers - they love that kind of work.

I love this pretty bush on the lawn outside the Visitors' Center.  It has sprouted pretty white 'feather dusters' at the top of its greenery.

On Thursday, September 19th, Elder Beckstrand and I boarded the new metro light-rail train to go into Phoenix for the day.  We decided to enjoy our P-day (and celebrate our recent anniversary) by attending a Diamondbacks' baseball game.

Chase Field - the home of the Diamondbacks.  Never been here before.

Inside the stadium the temperature is 73 degrees, even though it's close to 100 degrees outside.  In Arizona you don't watch outdoor sports in the outdoors during the summer.  Thank goodness for air conditioning!   The Stars Spangled Banner is being sung, then we hear the call:  "Play Ball!"

I enjoyed these 'booble-head' players walking through the audience.  The heads on those costumes look heavy.  They were about 10 times normal head size.

Game over - Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 6.  With this win, the Dodgers clinch their division.  (Secretly, Elder Beckstrand was cheering for the Dodgers.  Not a popular choice in this stadium, however, so he kept his preference low-key.)  It was a fun day and a therapeutic escape for a few hours from our many duties at the Visitors' Center.

After many months of work and teaching, Rodney accepted the invitation to be baptized.  All of the Visitors' Center missionaries felt that they had contributed to his conversion.  Elder Andrus was asked by Rodney to baptize him, and these Visitors' Center sisters came to lend their love and support.

It was a busy week during September 24th-26th when Zone Conferences and temple excursions were held.  Following the Liahona and Citrus Heights Zone Conference the sister enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared by Relief Society Sisters in the Mesa Central Stake.

We have 9 VC companionships in these two zones!  It was like old home week for us. 
On the north side of the Visitors' Center this sight met our eyes when we came to Prep. Meeting on Saturday, September 28th.  These volunteers are placing Christmas lights in the palm trees already!

 The temple gardeners insist that the lights be hung before the Bermuda grass is shaved and the rye grass planted.  Once that transition takes place in October, no machines are allowed on the grass.

As you can see, it is a precarious job to get these lights installed.  We will be watching with great interest as more crews and more lights begin to appear.  Bring them on!!! 

The sky was unbelievably pretty when we walked from the VC after the Women's Conference on Saturday evening.  A bright blue layer near the ground was followed by a pretty pink layer about tree height, then the regular dusk color above the camera level.  SOOOO PRETTY!

One more view  -  I have never seen colors like these before.  This is a beautiful place!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Service is Who We Are

 August 27th brought a new group of missionaries to the Mesa Mission.  Alas, there weren't any VC- assigned among them, but we will be getting to know Sisters Evans, Simmons, Ricks, and Hamberger who will be trained by VC sisters.  Lucky girls on both sides!

Transfers always mean 'Grab Bag' items show up on the sofa in our break room.  Usually that just means that our sisters can go 'shopping' for free.  However, this transfer a tender mercy of the Lord really touched my heart.  A Young Women's leader and a teenage girl came into the center on the Saturday morning after transfers.  The young girl was supposed to do baptisms for the dead at the temple but had come in pants from Casa Grande - about an hour drive south of Mesa.  The Young Women's leader asked if any of our sisters might have a skirt that the young girl could borrow to go into the temple.  We went into the break room and the girl was able to find a skirt in the grab-bag  that fit her and allowed her to participate with her ward in the temple.  Because her mother was not a member and her father basically inactive, this young sister needed the uplift that a temple baptism experience would provide.  The YW leader tearfully said, "There are still miracles happening in our lives every day."  Any other weekend of the transfer this sofa would have been bare.  It is plain that the Lord's hand is in even the tiny details of our lives. 
Transfers brought an unexpected surprise.  Because President Jenkins desperately needed good trainers for the newly arriving sisters, Sister Valladares was released from her calling as VC Trainer and reassigned to train in the field.  Sister Longshore was then called to fill the vacancy created by Sister Valladares' new assignment.  We are so grateful to have such amazing young sisters who cheerfully do whatever the Lord requires of them whether in the VC or in the field. 

Also arriving in Mesa the week of transfers were two technicians from Salt Lake City who came to work on the aging equipment at the Visitors' Center.  Here we see Scott installing a new DVD player in teaching room #1.  We were so grateful to have these upgrades since a lot of our equipment is feeling its' age.

Mat worked on the DVD player in Teaching Room #2.  It hasn't had sound for over a week.  The upgrades these technicians provided will be a welcome change for the center.  But the BIG NEWS is:  Ta-da!   Wait for it.....

WE HAVE WIFI!!!  These big smiles represent the satisfaction of knowing our new WiFi connection is available anywhere in the Center.  (I know - it's 2013, we should have had WiFi several year ago.  That's why we're so excited to finally have it available throughout the center!)  Thanks guys!

 Polka Dot Day was observed at the center on August 30th.  When these missionaries appeared at our prep. meeting I thought I was seeing spots before my eyes.  Oh, wait - I really was!  Elder Ballard even got into the spirit of the occasion and wore a red tie with big spots. What fun!  I don't think I've seen so many polka dots in one place in my entire life!
We started the month of September with a service project for Christmas Lights.  Bright and early on Monday, Sept. 2nd, the sisters arrived to help string lights for the annual display. 

Sister Jackson, the Christmas Lights Chairman, instructed the sisters on the task at hand.   She asked us to add clear lights to the strands of orange lights that were going to be hung in the trees south of the Visitors' Center.

She carefully explained what needed to be done as Sister Jeppson and Leon observed the process. 

These young ladies got right to work.  Sisters Younce, Hourrutiner, Rios, and Luna were a very efficient team.

Each table had four sisters working together. 

Sister Brown demonstrates how she straightens the orange strands before adding the clear lights.  Yes, she's quite a character!

Sisters Orr, Fry, and Brown are also an efficient team (when they're not stopping to pose for the camera, that is..)

Sister Ibuyan - don't eat the lights!  There is always a comedian in the group.
Here I caught Sisters Simmons, Evans, Weedman, and Smith 'anxiously engaged' in this good cause.
Sister Jackson is helping Sister Valladares and Sister Picket with their lights.  She spends many hours a week here at the Tri-Stake Center getting everything ready for the eventual hanging of the lights on temple grounds.  That process will begin in less than a month - it's hard to believe.
All of us had a great time helping with the lights.  It is always such fun to serve together, and when we have the opportunity to prepare for an event that brings so many people to the Temple Grounds (and hopefully into the Visitors' Center) it is especially rewarding.

The Visitors' Center looks beautiful again with the new lawn in the bowl greening up so nicely.  This is a wonderful place to serve.

Elder Beckstrand and I feel so blessed to be here in Mesa, and we love working with all of these amazing senior couples.  On Wednesday, September 4th we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Tia Rosa following a staff meeting at the Mission Office.  President and Sister Jenkins, Elder and Sister Hansen, Elder and Sister Nilsen, and Elder Inglish unknowingly helped us celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary on this occasion.  I can't think of a nicer way to commemorate the day.