Sunday, December 29, 2013

Saturday in Columbia, SC

When we got home from the temple, we had lunch at the apartment.  Sister Holm gave us the makings for an Italian Meatball Soup for Christmas.  It was delicious!  After lunch we drove over to Chapin so Lisa could see where people in our branch live.  Then we drove into downtown Columbia.

Lisa got a few shots of the giant fire hydrant (Clifford's fire hydrant)

And a few shots of the tunnel wall mural.  I hadn't noticed before, but the mural is an optical illusion. 
 No matter which side of it you stand on, it looks like you're headed straight for the tunnel!

We parked across from the State Capitol 
and Lisa waited at least 10 minutes to cross the street and get a good shot of the building.

After a SHORT tour of downtown and a stop at Mast General Store, we came home to make dinner.  Salsa chicken had cooked in the crock pot all afternoon, and Lisa and I made tortillas.  I made the dough and cooked.  Lisa pressed the tortillas.  She got very good at it!  After dinner, there was time for a quick stop next door at Cold Stone Creamery.  Then we went to "Frozen."  It was great having Lisa with us!!!

   Had to get a picture, so we could send it to Dad.  He looks forward to our Cold Stone visits every week.

Columbia Temple with Lisa

We got up way early Saturday morning and drove out to the temple for an 8 AM endowment session.  The temple wasn't as busy was we thought it would be.  We ran into two Sister missionaries who were in our session... Sister Roundy and Sister Bartholomew, who were up from the eastern part of the state.

Lisa took this great shot of the temple.  Ya gotta love a Carolina sky!

Me, Lisa and Jack 


Thursday at noon, we took off for Charleston!  On the way out of the apartment complex, we had to stop and drop off our garbage.  Jack had to show Lisa how the compactor works.  :o)

Battery Park

One of the beautiful mansions along the waterfront

Still love the ivy on the fronts of the steps!

We drove around Charleston - got out and walked through Battery Park and along the waterfront.  Then we went and ate at the Charleston Crab House.  After dinner, we drove over the Ravanel Bridge to Mt. Pleasant.  What a beautiful city!  We stayed over night there and went back to Charleston after breakfast.

We visited Magnolia Plantation where the Drayton family still lives, just outside of Charleston.

We also visited four cabins that were homes to some of the Drayton's slaves.  Stark contrast!  Many of those who were enslaved at one time are very good friends of the Drayton family, and still work for them.

We also visited the Market, where I bought a bouquet of...

...woven sweet grass roses.  
It was fun to watch the many shop owners sit and weave beautiful baskets and flowers.

On the way home from Charleston, we stopped for dinner in Ridgeway, SC.  Lisa had found a 5 Star restaurant in Summerville called Duke's BBQ.  We had already passed that, but she said there was another one in Ridgeway.  I knew they were NOT the same Duke's when we pulled up in front and the sign said, "Open Friday and Saturday 5 PM till 9 PM."  Inside was another sign that said they had absolutely nothing to do with the Duke's BBQ in Summerville, or any other Duke's BBQ."  Inside was a cafeteria-style buffet of everything southern!  Pulled pork, fried chicken, hush puppies, corn fritters etc.  "All you can eat for $8.99" On each table was a roll of paper towel and a pitcher of iced tea.  The diner had tables, booths and picnic tables and the place was about packed by the time we left.  I wish I had gotten a pic of one of the customers - straight out of Duck Dynasty!  The grandpa!  He had stepped outside for a cigarette and we talked to him on our way back to the car.  He said pretty much the whole town turns out to dinner on Friday or Saturday nights.  And he invited us to stop back anytime.  :o)

Jack, at Duke's

A Morning at the Office

We had to go into the office Thursday morning to take care of some mail and bills.Lisa found out, first hand, how much fun re-routing mail can be!!!

Blacking out and labeling mail.  That's what we do!  :o)

To the Atlanta Airport to Pick up Lisa

After breakfast, we cleaned up, had a little nap and left for the Atlanta Airport to pick up Lisa from a 3:30 PM flight.  3 hrs and 10 minutes!  That's a lot of sitting!

I texted her to see what she was wearing, so we could spot her at the terminal.  She said, "Look for my striped beanie."

Sharon gave her a Christmas Eve beanie to open when the rest of her own kids opened their Christmas pjs.
  I love how she wore her Irmo Okra Strut t-shirt on the flight out to SC.  :o)

The day before she flew out, Lisa drove to Bountiful
 and picked us up a couple of  raisin filled cookies at Parson's Bakery.  Mmmmm!

Christmas Breakfast with the Elders and the Sisters

The Sister Training Leaders came for breakfast at 7:00 AM!  They were up at 4:30, taking Sister Barlow to the airport.  She had to fly back to UT for her mother-in-law's funeral.  I was up at 4:45, making cinnamon rolls to go with the breakfast casserole I had put together the night before.  It had been so long since I'd made cinnamon rolls!  They were YUM!!!
Sisters Allison Garlic and Sydney Creager

The Sisters left about 7:45 to go north to visit with a missionary who was having a hard time on Christmas. I sent some cinnamon rolls up with them.  Cinnamon rolls make everything better, right?  I love Sister Garlic and Sister Creager!

At 8:10, there was a rap on the door.  Jack opened it and there stood the four elders...the APs, Elder Stadel and Elder Hatch, and Elders Loos and Elder Wadsworth.  Elder Stadel had reindeer antlers on, and Elder Hatch, a Santa hat.  They were singing "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" at the tops of their lungs.  I couldn't quit laughing!  They did a great job!!!

Elders Dylan Stadel, Kendon Hatch, Eric Loos and Kade Wadsworth

Sure did love having the missionaries over on Christmas Morning!

Christmas Eve Eve

This post is out of order, but...

Our family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve.  This year was no exception!  Everyone met at Bryan and Becky's church for dinner, Santa, gift exchange and games.  Everyone was there but us, Danny and Dalena and their kids, the two missionaries, Justin and Tyler, and Alexis - who was off getting engaged to Matt Jackson!

We got to FaceTime the party while we opened our Christmas gifts from the family.  They sent us a bunch of goodies (which we re-gifted, because we don't need all that sugar, folks!) and two aprons that say Elder and Sister on the front.  They also gave us a Walmart gift card to help pay for Sunday evening dinners we feed to the Elders and Sisters.  :o)  The missionaries thank you!  We thank you!!!  We LOVE you all!!!!!

LOVE the Elder/Sister aprons our family gave us for Christmas!!!

LOVE this beautiful family!!!  Just LOVE 'em!!!  Every one of them!!!

Ho! Ho! Ho! All over the state of South Carolina We Go!!!

Our first stop was in Sumter, where we were met by two sets of Elders.
Elders Wright, Townsend, Franco and Sabin from the Sumter area

Elder Lavulo, Sisters Bean, LeFevre,  Jorgenson and Jackson from Florence

Such a beautiful sight!  Have you ever seen a happier group of young men and women???

Wonderful missionaries in the Marion was great to see Elder AhKui again!!!

One of the sisters who was on an exchange took a pic of the rest of us with our companions.

When we drove up to the chapel in Marion, we had to laugh out loud!  There were the two Elders, waiting for us...standing like sentinels in front of the church building.  We LOVE these missionaries!


Craziest day EVER at the office - the Monday before Christmas!  The place was already stacked with boxes and packages because we hadn't sent anything out since Zone Conferences on the 19th.  The east wall was stacked with gifts!  The west wall was stacked with gifts!  Then the mail arrived!  We probably got another 100 gifts and over 200 cards and letters!  We were up to our necks in Christmas!!!  Elder and Sister Fenton helped sort and alphabetize, and so did Jack and I.  We bundled all the mail, along with the stacks of boxes and packages, into areas for delivery on Christmas Eve.  The Fentons would go northwest to Greenville and Spartanberg;  we would go Northeast to Florence, Sumter and Marion; the President would go to Charleston; and the APs and Sisters would cover Columbia and West Columbia.  Ho!  Ho!  Ho!
The office reminded me of that TV show, "Hoarders!"
Barely a trail from the front door through the reception area!  CRAZY!!!

Dena's Gift

Dena had our name for Christmas this year.  She asked what I'd like and I told her, "Something that would make our apartment a little more homey."  She said, "I know just the thing!  It worked for me!"  I had no idea what she was thinking...but when I opened up the box and saw the picture...I totally agreed with her! We grew up with this picture hanging in our parents' kitchen - and Dad still has it hanging in his home.  I LOVE it!  Thank you, Dena!

Always LOVED this picture!!!

Gingerbread Boys!

Every year we have Gingerbread Day with the grand-kids..until this year.  I saw a gingerbread boy cookie cutter at Walmart about a month ago, and it called out to me.  I knew if I was going to make them, it would have to be Sunday night, so...Sunday night it was!  36 of the little guys!  At home, I would have made Elders AND Sisters - but here, I only have a boy cutter.  Like the name tags?  ;o)
The apartment smelled like Christmas!  For real!

At home I use cinnamon red hots for the buttons.
Here, I had to settle for mini-M&Ms.  But they turned out cute, I think!

"The Stockings Were Hung..."

When we got to church this morning, Brother Cash handed us each a Christmas Stocking from the Chapin Branch.  How thoughtful!  They had made one for each of the missionaries assigned to the Branch.  Our stockings were loaded with choice goodies. What a nice thing to do!!!
With our names, even!

The little poem on the red flannel underwear said,
"We looked for a stocking, but we couldn't find a spare,
So we ended up stuffing Santa's red underwear."  :o)

Dinner with the Sowells

We got to meet up with Tanya and Will again, on the Saturday night before Christmas.  We went to Hu Hot and had a nice visit over dinner.  I had ordered six light-bulb ornaments from Tanya with the mission logo, SCCM, printed on them.  Tanya surprised us with six ornaments for OUR tree!  They're all small, bulbs and wooden ornaments, so they look wonderful on our little mission tree.

We gave ornaments to the Fentons and Sister Barlow, and President and Sister Holm and will send the other two to the Deckers and the Mihlbergers (couples we worked with who have returned home).  President Holm said, "Sister Holm LOVES our penguin ornament!"  I KNEW she would!  Tanya does great work!!!

Tanya found this mission emblem on-line and made it into an ornament.  I love it!
Along with the rest of her ornaments, it will always hang on our Christmas Tree,
to remind us of our time here in South Carolina.  :o)

One of the ornaments I ordered from Tanya...

"So are you, like, a nun?"

Jack and I went to Michael's Crafts shortly before Christmas.  When I was checking out, the young girl waiting on me said, "So are you, like, a nun?"  I must have looked surprised, because she pointed at my name tag and said, "It says "Sister" on your badge here."  Ahhh!  I can see how she might be confused!  I explained that I am a missionary, working in the office to support all the young Mormon missionaries in South Carolina.  I said, "You've seen them around, right?  Wearing name-tags like this?"  She said she'd seen them.  Hopefully, she'll listen to them.  She was a very nice young girl.  :o)


Someone posted this on FaceBook.  I loved it!!!

"Hello, I'd like to join your church..."

On December 19th, the phone rang, and when I answered, a man's voice said,"I'd like to attend your church and actually join your church.  Who would I need to talk to about that?"  I asked him how he knew about our church, and he said he had friends who were members.  I told him that all I needed was his name and address and I could send a couple of missionaries out to visit him.  He was happy to give me that information and I filled out a referral for him and sent a text to the missionaries in his area.  I need to check up on that and see how it's going.

Sacrifice Brings Blessings

President Holm told us last week that he and Sister Holm had missed the baptism of a grandson recently. But, he said that one of the General Authorities told them that every time they miss a baptism or a baby blessing or any special event in the life of a family member, it is a testimony to their family of the importance of their calling and their service to the Lord.

I know that our kids and grandkids KNOW there is no way on earth we'd leave them, and my dad and come clear across the country to serve for 18 months unless we KNEW that this is the Lord's work.  He LIVES and He is at the helm.  We are part of the Hastening of His work.  We are helping to bring souls unto Christ by what we do every day at the mission office - supporting the young missionaries who go out and teach and share the gospel message to those who are prepared to receive it at this time.

We love this work and we love the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Without Him, we are nothing!

My hope is that our friends and family members who are not yet members of His church, will get a feel for what is going on and have a desire to know for themselves that this church is the Church of Jesus Christ that He, Himself, has restored again to the earth.

I have family members on my mom's side who are not members of Christ's church, and family on my dad's side who aren't either.  Many of these are deeply religious people, meaning that they love the Lord with all their hearts!  I hope that some day they will recognize the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that it would be such a blessing in their lives!

I have many friends who aren't members yet.  Some of them are former ESL students, and are just the greatest people!  I hope that they too will someday have the desire to learn for themselves that the Gospel is true and membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could bring great blessings into their lives.

In the meantime, I will keep hoping and praying and livin' the life of a missionary here in the wonderful state of South Carolina!  I know I am (and we are) where the Lord wants us to be at this time.  I pray that we will be able to accomplish all that He desires of us.  :o)

Friday, December 20, 2013

A new source of help

Elders Martin and Roetker stopped by on their way to a teaching appointment - and just at the right time! We had over 200 cards and letters dropped off while we were at lunch.  The Elders sat down on the floor in the middle of the room and alphabetized all that!  It helped so much!  Afterward, Jack and Sister Barlow helped me black out postal marks and stick on the labels.  That will be the last mail we send out till after Christmas.  The rest, including all the packages and boxes, will be hand delivered on Christmas Eve.  Jack and I are assigned to go to Florence with the packages for the north-east part of the state.  :o)  It will be fun!

Our Fist Zone Conference

Loved our first Zone Conference!  It was a fun one, because it was combined with a Christmas Party. When the missionaries arrived at the Stake Center, they parked their cars in two long lines and opened up the hoods and the trunks for inspection.  Jack was there early to help with that.

Jack's checking the oil.
Sister Creager's checking the tail-lights

Sister Garlic checks the tire pressure

Next on the agenda was three hours of training, done by the Zone and District Leaders.  They did an amazing job!  One of my favorite segments was done by Sisters Burbank, Willis and Belyea.  They talked about the importance of using the pamphlets.  They did a little role play that depicted something that actually happened to them as they taught an investigator.  They had been teaching him about the Word of Wisdom.  He had previously overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol, but the Sisters wanted him to give up coffee also.  He said he knew that the alcohol and drugs were bad for his body, but he didn't see any harm in coffee.  They had him read the pamphlet so he could understand why he needed to quit his coffee habit, and he agreed that he'd work on it.  Then they had him read the bullet points in the pamphlet in the part about giving up harmful substances.  One of them was "Dispose of harmful substances, and do not get more."  The Sisters asked him to give them his coffee.  He wasn't ready to do that.  He agreed to think about it and pray about it, but he needed some time.  The Sisters left, and hadn't been gone 10 minutes when he called them.  "Come and get my coffee."  Then one of the Sisters went up behind the clerk's table in the front of the chapel and retrieved a 3 lb.(?)  jar of Maxwell House.  Classic!

In another training segment, by Elders Noyes and Zurita,  Elder Noyes told of an experience he had when they were asked to check on a couple of young brothers who had both planned on missions, but had suddenly stopped going to church.  Elder Noyes said they sat and talked with the brothers, and that he had the distinct impression to promise one of them that if he went on a mission, he would find a young family and baptize them.  Even more specifically, that he would find a young, sixteen-year-old girl, and baptize her.  The young boy was deeply affected by that promise and started going to church again.  He has filled out his mission papers and is waiting for his call.  Elder Noyes said that he has only had that happen twice during his mission, but the experience affected him profoundly.

These young missionaries never cease to amaze me!  They are so strong, so valiant, so qualified!  They have been endowed with the power of God to do His work.  Of that, I am sure.

After training, the missionaries were told to go into the Relief Society Room and pick up their mail and media orders.  Everything in that room was very well organized!  I was impressed!  Each chair was assigned to a missionary and all his/her stuff was on or in front of the chair.

After the training session, we had lunch, served up by the Relief Society Sisters in the 3 Wards that meet at the West Columbia Stake Center.  Food was amazing, and they went all out decorating the tables and making little cookie-cutter ornaments for each of the missionaries.  Bless their hearts!

After lunch, we had skits, video presentations and musical numbers.  I'm hoping to get some pictures from Sister Holm.  We laughed so hard at the skits and videos, and the music was fun and beautiful!  Sisters Willis, Burbank and Belyea sang a beautiful song about our hands being the hands of Christ - to do His work.  

The song about hands was so perfect for what followed.  We all went into the chapel and watched "Ephraim's Rescue. "The missionaries loved it, and it really impacted them in a spiritual way.  Great and amazing Zone Conference!!!