Monday, February 3, 2014

Farewell to the Beckstrands

On Friday, January 10th, President and Sister Jenkins invited all of the Visitors' Center missionaries to their home for a lovely farewell breakfast for the Beckstrands (us!).  It's hard to believe that two years have gone by so quickly.

President and Sister Jenkins have worked very hard to make this a lovely occasion.

These McMuffin sandwiches look really yummy.  There are also croissant sandwiches warming in the other oven.  Heaven!

WOW!  That's gorgeous.  The Andruses and Ballards prepared the gorgeous trays of fruit, and the Jenkins supplied the sandwiches and drinks.  What a feast!

Only the sisters who were very careful eaters were allowed to eat their food while sitting on the new couches. ( Everything is new in this lovely home since it has only been in use since July.)  Congratulations, sisters, for making the cut.

These sisters are sharing their breakfasts with the Hansens - our mission office couple who also handle the mission telephones, financial affairs, and I-pads.

These are the senior couples who serve at the Visitors' Center with us.  The Ballards are on the left and the Andruses on the right.  They are wonderful, one and all!  Thank you, thank you for your help, your support, and your timely input in regards to the efficient running of the center.

I made the mistake of handing my camera to Sister Orr.  BIG mistake!

Ain't they sweet?  Still in love after more than 50 years.

We feel privileged to have been able to serve with the Jenkins during the past 6 months.  They have truly been called of God to lead this mission at this time.  We are so grateful for their love and their continual support of the Visitors' Center.
Although it was a difficult task, we met with our trainers to plan a slightly different type of farewell for Januray 17th - the day before our departure.  We wanted this farewell to be a fun reminder of our experiences while serving here at the Visitors' Center.

Sister Longshore and Sister Finau, our current VC trainers, were willing to take on the assignment of organizing skits with the other sisters.  It is sometimes necessary to 'tell it like it is!"

 Meanwhile, back at our home there is a big empty.  We moved into a motel on Monday morning, and the temple crew had the house stripped by the end of the day.  It looks like someone came in and robbed the place!  I guess they weren't musical.....

 Oh, so this is where all of the furniture, dishes, and bedding ended up.  I guess we won't be able to park our cars in this garage like we planned.  It looks like a giant yard sale waiting to happen.

Friday morning, bright and early, we held our final Prep. Meeting.  Following the song, prayer, and recitations the fun began.  These sisters demonstrated how children were often caught trying to play in the neighborhood exhibit at the Visitors' Center.  They got a big kick out of showing Elder Beckstrand on his hands and knees up by the houses - no, no Elder Beckstrand!

Every VC missionary knew what it meant when Brother Teajan came to the Visitors' Center.  He always rode in his little cart and handed out granola bars (which he called candy bars) to all of the sisters on shift.
Is that you, Sister Leon?  You're a dead ringer for our candy man.
Another frequent visitor to the VC was Sister Zepeta, who was admirably played by Sister Andrus.  She never came without treats and snacks for the sisters to enjoy.  Sister Luna happily accepts her current offering.  (I especially enjoyed seeing Sister Andrus wearing white tennis shoes, which aren't visible in the photo, but were Sister Zepeta's trademark.)

 These sisters were making fun of Elder Beckstrand's obsession with keeping the pencils sharp.  It was a continual losing battle for him since there were so many of us using and abusing them.
Sister Longshore had the unenviable task of portraying me during my many shift assignment nightmares.  I swear, that's the only thing about serving at the Visitors' Center that I didn't enjoy. It was impossible to keep track of every sister during their shift assignments at the center, especially when the mission activities continually messed up my schedule.  Ugh!
Sister Longshore, (aka Sister Beckstrand) "Oh, you say you need a dress hemmed, a zipper replaced, and a blouse taken in?  No problem.  I can do that in a jiffy with one hand tied behind my back... "

Oh yes, making sure the sisters were groomed and dressed as missionaries should be was an ongoing challenge.  No Sister Tingey, pink tights will not work.  And by the way - that dress is too short!!! 

Sister Pickett did a brilliant job of narrating the skit: "The Case of the Missing Pencil Box".

Everyone was asked if they had seen (or moved) the missing box but no one would confess.

The sisters called everyone they could think of.  There was no sign of it anywhere.

 Not for a moment could I stop laughing!  It was hysterical to watch these sisters so ably reinact events here at the center during our not-so-illustrious career. 

Sister Brownell was a hoot as she portrayed Elder Beckstrand's frustration over the missing pencil box.  Finally, Sister Mayorca walked up to the podium, lifted the top box out of the box underneath, and went on her way.  NO WAY!  The missing box was there all the time!

But the act that really stole the show was Elder Beckstrand's chicken-cackling rendition of "In the Mood" in full farmyard regalia.  His number went viral on Facebook.  I couldn't resist posting the entire episode for everyone to enjoy.  What a riot!!!

No doubt about it - he really got 'In the Mood"!

I can't figure it out, but I love this crazy man like crazy!  He's sometimes stern, sometimes funny, and always a spiritual giant in my life and the lives of these sweet sister missionaries at the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center.

The sisters had several lovely gifts to give us after the skits and cackling were over.  Sister Orr presented Coach B with a football signed by all of the sisters.  I'm sure all of them will remember his football stories given as lessons for life.

There were three books with choice memories shared by all of the sisters for both Elder Beckstrand and myself.  What a sweet pleasure it was to read their thoughtful and very tender comments.

Sister Younce helped me tie on the pink sparkly apron the sisters signed in gratitude for all of the food that they enjoyed from my kitchen.  Bless their hearts!  That's just fun for me, not work.
Sister Brownell presented us with a framed photo of the Visitors' Center missionaries from Christmas Lights, with beautiful scenes of the Savior's life arranged around the outside edge.  A treasure!

Elder Beckstrand looked right at home with this football in his hands, (but he soon got rid of the bow.) 

 So this is the whole gang, and what a dear group of sisters and elders they have been to us.  We will miss each and everyone of them more than we can say.  I'm going to be sad to get along without my 20+ hugs each day.  These young women are sooooo loving.  They've been raised right by their parents at home.  Good luck to all of you.  Continue to work hard and devote all your energies to being the best missionaries you can be.  We love you! 

And so our time here ends and the Camerons begin their adventure at the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center.  We know they'll have a choice experience, just as we have had.  Thank you, thank you, sisters and elders, for everything.  It has been a never-to-be-equaled, magical two years.  We have loved every minute and feel so privileged to have been allowed to serve here with all of the wonderful missionaries past and present.  The Lord has blessed us far beyond what we deserve, and we'll be ever grateful.

Christmas through New Year's Day = Party, Party, Party!

  It's been a L-O-N-G while since I posted.  I've  been experiencing technical difficulties (a tired computer).  Thankfully, I have a talented son who has me back up and running.  Thanks, Tim!

If you had been in Mesa on Christmas Day, 2013  you would have found us celebrating the day with our extended family - the Visitors' Center missionaries.  Sister Ballard had the sisters play a crazy game after they finished up the Mexican Train Domino tournament.
These sisters were trying to draw a Christmas scene (via Sister Ballard's instructions).  The scene featured a fireplace, a Christmas Tree, and some other traditional holiday items. 

As you can imagine, the items in the pictures weren't always recognizable.  It was fun to try and make out exactly what the girls had been trying to draw.  We saw some amazing creativity!
 They easily worked up an appetite after expending all that energy on games and the hilarity that followed.  As you can see, they're exhibiting the joy of the season.  (Lots of good food contributed to their happy smiles!)

We have such a variety of cultures and ethnic backgrounds that comprise our Visitors' Center sisters.  We are learning a lot from each of them.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

 Some of the sisters had to leave before I got this final shot, but we were grateful for all who stayed to make our Christmas celebration special.  These young women are part of our family now, and will always hold a special place in our hearts!

 Just two days later (on December 27th) we held a farewell breakfast for Sister Miller.  The time has come for her to return to Oregon.  Sister Andrus and Sister Ballard were at our home bright and early to help prepare French toast for all of the VC missionaries.  They are such a huge help to me.

 Everyone was happy to help us get rid of the food.  That nice plate of ham was left over from our Christmas feast.  Nothing goes to waste (or should I say waist?) when these young sisters are invited for a meal.  They are not shy about filling up their plates, thank goodness.

Sister Miller had many happy memories to share with us.  Her testimony was very powerful, and we enjoyed her story about the starfish.  I will always associate it with her whenever I hear it again. 
 Our final picture with this special sister was tearful.  We will miss her!  Good luck, Megan, in all your future plans.  I know the Lord will bless you for your faithful service.

On her way to the Mission Home we caught one final picture with our departing sister.  We love her so much!  She has been a faithful missionary and was a VC trainer for several transfers.  We truly benefited from her wonderful example and leadership. 

 The final night of Christmas Lights ended on December 31st.  These tired, but very successful and happy sisters rejoice over the huge stack of referrals they received during the lights.  1758 referrals were garnered over the 33 days of the lights.  It was especially awesome that 862 of those were self-referrals (the most productive kind)  because those people requested missionaries for themselves as a result of being touched by the spirit they felt here at the Visitors' Center.

 As we began the New Year - 2014, the mission celebrated this grand occasion with a mission-wide activity.  The missionaries were especially excited to be given permission to wear P-day attire.

 The party began with a nice lunch of sub sandwiches, chips, drinks, and dessert.  Now the young elders and sisters will be given the opportunity to work off those calories playing group games.  Sister Jenkins is going from table to table with last minute instructions.

This bean-bag toss game was more difficult than it looked, but Sister Hamstead demonstrated to the other players how to get the job done right.

Because of their high score they were awarded $20 each.  Way to GO. girls! 

These sisters (Finau and Brownell) were playing kick baseball with a ball that came almost to their knees.  They were having a great time!

Sister Brown shows thumbs up for her team's performance.  Sisters stick together in all kinds of weather.

 This group of missionaries were fighting over chairs in the circle, and it seemed that they were doing a pretty good job of unseating the person whose seat they coveted.

These young people were human foosball players.  Sisters DeMille and Jeppson were holding up their end of the line while waiting for the ball to come to them.

I caught Sister Orr with a big smile on her face.  These young people really deserve a chance to let down their hair and have some fun after working so hard during Christmas Lights.  We are so proud of their efforts and how effective they were.
To replace Sister Miller,  we were happy to welcome Sister Tingey to the Mesa Temple Visitors' Center.  Sister Tingey came to us from Brigham City, Utah.

Sister Tingey's trainer is the very capable Sister Avanesjan from Germany.  She couldn't have received a more capable missionary to be her trainer.  Lucky girl!

Just for fun I couldn't resist posting our newest "look alike" photo.  Sister Weedman (left) and Sister Orr (right) bought the exact same outfit, and Sister Weber (center) just happened to wear the same colors on the day these other sisters wore theirs.  I guess what they say about 'great minds' must be true.  We are definitely one big happy family!