Sunday, November 23, 2014

Be Thankful

I love cornucopias!

 The Cornucopia is also known as the Horn of Plenty. According to Wikipedia
it is a symbol of "abundance and nourishment."
To me, it represents the bounty of blessings that are mine.
 It represents the best of me, My Grateful Heart.
It reminds me to count my many blessings!

The traditional cornucopia we have had on our table for many years
is still packed carefully in a box in our home in American Fork, Utah. 
Though I'm missing it this year,
I know that it will be waiting for us next Thanksgiving.
It's a tradition that will continue!

The cornucopia has extra special significance because it reminds me of my mom. 
Many years ago, mom and I purchased matching cornucopias
that we lovingly unpacked each Thanksgiving, year after year. I knew that
when we visited her in her home, it would be fondly displayed just as it
was in my home. Today, though Mom has progressed from earth life
 on her eternal journey and I'm still finding my way through mortality, 
our cornucopias represent the connection of our grateful hearts. 
This is one of the many beautiful lessons mom taught me!

This morning, I received an email that had this beautiful poem included in it.
It is simple and yet it is so true.

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything your desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something,
For it gives you opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
For  they can become your blessings.

Author Unknown

I wish I could thank Author Unknown aka Anonymous. He/She often teaches me great things and I haven't been able to find a way to email, like, tweet or text to express my gratitude!

Transfer week begins tomorrow morning with our 19 incoming missionaries
leaving the MTC about 4 AM. They are all on the same flight and
will arrive about 4 PM tomorrow afternoon, exhausted, excited and a little dazed.
Elder Urban usually drives a 15 passenger rental van,
the Assistants drive the mission van complete with the trailer for luggage,
 and Elder Hunt drives the President and Sister Craven to greet the new missionaries.
They are driven to the Mission Home where Sister Craven
feeds them dinner and President Craven interviews each one of them.
Tuesday morning begins before 8 AM at the Mission Office with a Southern breakfast
of eggs and grits casserole (it's really nummy), fresh fruit,
 Krispy Kream Donuts (a NC original), chocolate milk and Orange juice.
Sister Scott is amazing and prepares this food for the new missionaries and us too.
We take care of each missionary's paperwork and photos
before they begin training from President, Sister Craven, Elder Urban and Elder Hunt.

Meanwhile, the missionaries being transferred throughout the mission
as well as  those 20 outgoing missionaries
 (who are saying farewell to North Carolina Charlotte Mission)
are traveling to the Mission Office for the 2:30 PM Transfer Meeting.
It is a joy to participate in this powerful, spirit filled meeting.
The chapel is full of wonderful missionaries.
Those headed home share their heartfelt testimonies.
Sister Craven also bears her witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then President Craven will teach an inspiring gospel message.
New companionships are announced, lots of hugging is going around
 and new adventures and friendships are formed.

Then my favorite part is when we all sing,
"We Sure Love Ya, North Carolina"  (the Mission song).

It's an eventful wonderful exhausting day and we love it!

Those 20 missionaries leaving Wednesday morning will be having dinner
with the Cravens at the Mission Home, exit interviews, a little sleep
 and will leave at 6:15 AM for the airport.
Guess who leaves for the Mission Home at 5:30 AM on Wednesday to take them to the airport?
Guess who cries a little when we have to say good bye to these valiant
Sisters and Elders we love so very much?

All in all, it is a logistical nightmare but Elder Urban has helped it become a well oiled machine!

Elder Shumway will be home with his family for Thanksgiving.
I'm sure they are counting the hours!

Sister Phillips is being transferred as a new Sister Training Leader.
She's been with us for 6 months and we'll miss her!

I'm thankful for so many blessings.
 My relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ
 Our family, children, grandchildren, dear friends who are family too.
Technology that allows us to communicate with those we love.
The opportunity to serve this mission with my Sweetheart.
The amazing relationships we are making with people we are blessed to know here.
The Book of Mormon and teachings of the Prophets

I will continue adding to my list...
perhaps you are doing the same.

Sending our Thanksgiving love to y'all!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Unexpected Visitors and Other Blessings

Fall has been beautiful in Charlotte! This photo was taken one morning 
as we were leaving for the Mission Office a couple of weeks ago. 
The weather has been dry and mild and the colors have been spectacular!

Of course the one day we did have rain we were  cleaning out an apartment
in Matthews. Elder Henderson and Elder Matthews helped us carry furniture
down the stairs and load it in the trailer. This apartment had special
meaning for us, because our granddaughter, Rachel 
(Sister Hatton-Ward)  lived there the last few months of her mission.

When we picked up the Elders to help us move, we thought we were at the wrong address 
because of these cute Halloween decorations!
Missionary moms take good care of their sons and daughters! 

We attended a very special baptism for Hemie Dickson on November 8th.
He has been in the US for 15 years and all his family are still in Liberia. He
is a tailor and designer by profession but more importantly, 
Hemie is a valiant, faith filled young man with the Light of Christ in his countenance.
The Spirit was there in abundance!
The Sisters are teaching his family in Liberia by Skype! I love technology! 

Elder Youngstrom is 21! 
We celebrated his Birthday at his favorite place, Red Robin 
with Elder Call, Elder Mautz, Elder Benham and Elder Bagley.
Elder Youngstrom will be released on November 25th 
and will fly home the day before Thanksgiving. We will miss him.

The Kunz family from Riverton, Utah surprised us at the Mission office a few days ago.
Bishop Kunz was Elder Kunz in our mission some 35 years ago. It was delightful to
visit with them and I felt like we'd known them forever. They have a beautiful story.

The biggest surprise was RYAN coming to visit. 

Ryan called Wednesday and said he had a last minute meeting in Greensboro.
Would it be possible to meet him Thursday evening after his meeting?
As he was talking I had this overwhelming feeling whisper to my heart,
"This is a special gift, a tender mercy from Me (Heavenly Father) because I love you!"

No coincidence! Not just luck! A beautiful GIFT!

Thursday, we drove in the Mission Van complete with trailer to Lancaster, SC with
the Hunts and the Slades to empty out an apartment and clean it.
I appreciate these wonderful friends and fellow missionaries
for the great help and support they are to me in taking care of apartments.
 We get the work done AND we have a fun time being with them!
On our way back to Charlotte, we had lunch at 521 Barbeque.
Elder Urban's new favorite rib place!

From the Mission Office we drove the van and trailer to Greensboro
to pick up our special surprise!
It was dark, traffic was horrid but the drive was certainly worth it!

Hugging my little boy again, made this mommy so happy!

We had one last errand to accomplish before we left Greensboro.
Ryan  helped us pick up a washer and dryer from a vacated apartment we needed to close.

Friday morning, Ryan came with us to the office and worked, while we worked.
Then we took a late lunch at Mac's Speed Shop (barbeque of course)

We drove to beautiful Lake Norman and did some exploring. 
We'd never taken time to look around the lake before and it truly is idyllic!

It was a relaxing wonderful afternoon and evening. 
We took Ryan to Huntersville and walked around Birkdale Village for a short time. 
(These pictures are from google so just imagine a cold fall afternoon
and the blossoms are beautiful fall leaves and 
children were bundled in coats and scarves instead of swim suits!)

The rest of the evening we just visited and told stories and laughed, 
ate some leftover soup and just enjoyed the unexpected "tender mercy"moments.

My heart is full of gratitude for the blessings I receive daily.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on our blessings 
and to express love and gratitude to God and to our family and friends.

Dieter F Uchtdorf reminds us beautifully....


Sending our LOVE to y'all!

Happy Thanksgiving from Elder and Sister Urban