Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Week of Learning and Feeling the Spirit

I haven't had a chance to take any pictures of the Mission office yet but I'll try to get some this week. It's a busy place with missionaries in and out all the time. I love it! They just bring enthusiasm and energy and love where ever they go and it's a joy to be around them!

The Mission Office is located in the first chapel built in Charlotte. It was built in early 1950’s and I don’t think it’s ever been remodeled!  FM spent all last week fixing the antiquated heater in the chapel and in the building. The building has been freezing but in our little area we can keep the heat in if we keep the doors closed from the rest of the building. I have to wear a coat to the bathroom! Hopefully everything is warmer tomorrow. The YSA ward meets in the building for evening activities and Institute and church services on Sunday.

This is our Harrisburg Ward building. We're one of three wards meeting in the building.

We found a Family History Center here and immediately felt right at home.

GETALONG ROAD is a block from our church. Had to get a picture of that!

Food Lion is the first grocery store we went to last Saturday. It's close to our chapel.

Elder Frost (one of two APs), Elder Fajardo and Elder Lino hanging out at the Mission Office
Elder Lino is holding a reflective "taillyte" worn by missionaries when biking.

Every day we look out our window of the Mission Office and see this beautiful cardinal. It's great entertainment watching the different birds that live around us and enjoy the big trees. We've also seen a gorgeous blue bird but no photos yet. I do miss the Quail in our American Fork back yard. No quail here just squirrels!

Elder Andrus, Elder Urban and Elder Cornelius at the mission storage shed
 where assorted supplies and furnishings for apartments are stored. 

The Senior elders borrowed the mission's brand new 2014 Chevy Silverado from the APs to tow the mission trailer which they loaded with furniture and household items to take to the apartments.

Getting ready to eat our first care package of homemade raspberry jam and wheat bread we received from Annette last week. Everyone at the office was jealous! Nummy good! I think I cried!

Saturday, which was our first PD, we spent most of the day of moving furniture and taking bicycles to Concord to be repaired. We also picked up 9 new bikes for new missionaries coming on February 4th. Elder and Sister Andrus, Elder and Sister Cornelius and Elder and Sister Urban shared a delicious dinner at Ming Fu in Matthews, on the outskirts of Charlotte.

Today, Sunday January 26th we attended the first baptisms in our new Harrisburg Ward. Sisters Pace and Lambert taught these two investigators the gospel and it was a very special event. The room was full of ward members, missionaries and also others who are not members of the church. The Spirit in the room was warm even though we heard the water was not!

Carlos Moronchel

Lucy James

I’ve been learning many aspects of Missionary referrals. Our missionaries were among the first group testing Ipads as tools using social media and it’s been a great success. All the young missionaries now have Ipads and each companionship has an Iphone also.
Keeping 260 missionaries housed is an ever changing job and I’m learning all about setting up new apartment leases, extending the leases, connecting utilities, maintaining and changing all of the above including closing the apartments as needs change. I’m learning how to furnish apartments, replace broken or missing items for the missionaries and basically anything else that comes up at the moment.
There were 3 Zone Conferences this past week and Tom has been leaving our apartment as early as 5:30 AM. Even though “early” is not his favorite time of day, 
he’s been on his best Eeyore behavior!

At Zone Conference the Senior Elders work outside for hours checking out each car in the zone. The weather here has been in the low teens every morning and even the gloves and hat we bought him aren’t keeping him warm enough. Yesterday as he was carrying a bed down a flight of stairs, he fell down the last four stairs and landed in the rocks. Miraculously he was not badly injured. So grateful for that.
We’ve been eating dinner between 8:30 and 10 PM each night and going to bed right after dinner. Not so good for the waisteline J

Sundays have been a day of spiritual renewal for us and we love our new ward. There is much diversity here and everyone is great. During Sunday School we attended the Gospel Principles class and I was surprised that over 30 people were in attendance. The teacher asked each one of us to tell the year we were baptized. There were 3 of us baptized in 1956, 1 in 1952 and a few others baptized when they were 8 years old. Most were converts and most of those were recently baptized. There were 2 who were baptized later today and one non member. The lesson was on the Second Coming of Christ and I would encourage you to go to this link to study it if you'd like.

I'd like to share one last experience we had this past week that touched my heart. Tuesday night we were eating dinner about 8:30 PM at Panera Bread and as we finished, I stood up to clear our dishes from the table. A young woman who'd also been eating there,came up and said she'd be happy to take the dishes for us. I was tired and very appreciative but a little stunned. I don't remember that happening before. I studied her face and thanked her and after we left I had wished that I had gotten her name. Thursday night, as we were leaving the mission office, it was dark and as I walked out the door, a young woman was coming in to attend Institute and she looked familiar to me. I said hello to her and continued walking. Then I realized why I remembered her so I hurried back up the stairs and asked her if she was in Panera Bread on Tuesday.  Guess what? Yep, it was her! I was able to thank her again and it helped me remember that kindness is a great attribute to have!

We send our love to you.....

Thursday, January 23, 2014

North Carolina Here We Come!

Monday, January 13, 3014  The long anticipated journey begins....

An early sendoff surprise. Nikki came bearing "Daylight" donuts and HUGS....

A packed car and a few tears

and we were off on our adventure

 Breakfast at McDonald's in Park City

High Winds and blowing snow through Wyoming

First night we stayed in Sidney, Nebraska

    Ate a delicious dinner with a buffalo in Sidney.

Driving though Nebraska going out of our way to go to Omaha

to see Winter Quarters Temple. It was well worth the extra time!

Winter Quarters Mormon Pioneer Cemetery. 

This is the only picture we took there because it was FREEZING!
If you know Tom at all, you know that cemeteries are his favorite hangout
and even he didn't want to spend any time prowling around
because of the frigid temperatures.
How did our Pioneer ancestors survive the trek?!

We met two great missionaries, Sister Lewis and Sister Frisbee in the Mormon Trail Center.

Sister Frisbee is waiting for her visa to continue serving in Brazil. When she found out we were on our way to North Carolina, Charlotte she was so excited because she has a brother serving in our same mission, Elder Plants. We can't wait to meet him and share this picture with him!

 This is the Kansas City Temple where we able to perform sacred ordinances for our ancestors.
It is a beautiful place to feel close to our Heavenly Father and to find peace and feel renewed.

We continued on our journey and saw the St. Louis Temple in the afternoon.

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting with a longtime friend I grew up
 with in Hayward, California, Fawn Stewart Silva and her husband, Denny. 
What a great reunion that was to be with them 
in their beautiful home and meet some of their family.

 After spending the night in Mt. Vernon, Illinois we were delighted when we arrived in Tennessee!

We took a little drive around Nashville and then made our way to the Nashville Temple.

Our last night on the road, we stayed in Knoxville, Tennessee anticipating an easy drive to Charlotte on Friday morning. However, Tom had a recurring episode of vertigo 
in the middle of the night, which left him unable to even get out of bed. Yikers! 
I sort of panicked and posted my angst on Facebook. 
In just a short time I had many family and friends posting encouragement, 
suggestions and prayers in our behalf! I was amazed and knew that everything would be OK. 

About 2 hours later, Tom was able to make it to the car and I drove the 4 hours to Charlotte, 
through the beautiful Great Smokey Mountains. 
I wish that I had been able to stop every few minutes and take pictures!

Friday, January 17, we arrived at the North Carolina Charlotte Mission Office.
Now our real adventure begins!

PS. We haven't had internet in our new apartment so this is being posted almost a week later. I've got lots more to share since we arrived but I'll save that for next week. We send our love to our family and friends. Thank you for all the love and support you so generously give us. 
We are richly blessed!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Goodbye to the MTC

The next 2 group photos are the wonderful missionaries 
we shared our 1st week with at the MTC

(Hint) We're in this photo. It's sort of like Where's Waldo. Good luck finding us!

 Our 2nd week at the MTC learning Office Computer Programs

                The Ransoms          The Burris          The Poulsons      The Urbans        The Hursts
(Lisbon Portugal) (Carlsbad, California)(Can't remember)(Charlotte, NC)(New Delhi, India)
Trainers kneeling   Sister Fairbanks    Brother Bennett     Brother Free   Brother Tyler

This is "Where in the World" we are going.

We're busy packing for the next couple of days, loading every inch of our car with our stuff
 and then driving to North Carolina. We're excited!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ella's Baptism

We are so grateful that we could attend Ella's baptism today!
 It was a very special day for a special little 8 year old girl.
Ella is our 20th grandchild to be baptized. 
Only one left....James (Jimmy). He'll turn 8 just in time for us to return home in 2015.

Ella, Dad Ryan and Mom Vilayphone


Ella, Grandma Justus, GrampaTom and GramaCindy

Friday, January 3, 2014

Our First Week at the MTC

When we first arrived Monday morning December 30, 2013 we met this darling couple, 
Marc and Mimi Lauper. Out of curiosity, I mentioned that I had a long time friend who's maiden name is Lauper living in California and did they happen to have any relatives there. No coincidence that my friend, Rica and Marc are cousins! Everywhere we go we find connections that bind our hearts. 
It just feels so good!

These young Returned Missionaries, Brother Taylor Kenndrick and Brother Hawkes 
were our morning trainers all week. They took us out of our comfort zone,
taught us well and were patient and kind and funny too!

This is our district and the missionaries we grew to love.
 Elder and Sister Terry (going to Fiji), Elder and Sister Crapo 
(going to Des Moines, Iowa) and Elder and Sister Vassel (going to Frankfurt Germany)

   Brother Pearson was our Awesome Afternoon Trainer

Tom and I learned how to plan and teach together as a team. I've always thought that we made a great team but this experience has been a blessing and confidence builder. We began the week a little tentative (SCARED)! We were stretched way out of our comfort zone right from the beginning but we were given great tools to listen, rely on scriptures, life experiences, and our testimonies to teach and love more completely. And most importantly we learned that the 3rd member of our team is the Holy Ghost. It was truly an inspirational week (AWESOME)!