Monday, September 16, 2013

Saying goodbye to the NLVW Mission

I can't believe that two months have gone by since we left the NLVW Mission and I am now finishing this blog.  Where has the time gone?  I was tempted on many occasions to just not finish it, but I so want to remember what happened to the very last day of our mission, because every week that we were there for those final months we grew to love it more and more.  We knew it would be so hard to say goodbye!  
Our last week so SO busy!  We had so much to do to prepare the office for our departure and we had to do extra things to help the Ahlanders in their transition into the mission.  We wanted to leave no stone unturned in leaving the office with all the work up to date and organized.  And we knew that we would have a busy week to pack up and clean the condo!  Here's the recap on our final week:

On Sunday, July 7, we had our last dinner and teaching opportunity with Jamie and Wendy.  David, Juliann, Clarissa, and Michael Boyer had all come into town and Wendy really wanted to see Clarissa, so they were invited to the dinner also.  Elder Vieira and Elder Mavromatis were there to teach the lesson afterwards.  It went well, although I worry about Jamie progressing.  Wendy seems eager to move ahead, and Jamie seems to believe everything but has a hard time attending church and quitting smoking.  How I wish they would have more faith and respond to the teachings more!  We had a wonderful time with them.

We said goodbye to Elder Vieira, our dear friend.  We knew we wouldn't see him again unless we travel to Portugal or he travels here. How we have loved him!

On Monday, July 8, it was our last day at the mission office.  We knew it would be so sad!  But we had so many things to get done that the day just flew by.  The best part was having so many missionaries come to the office to say goodbye!  Elder Woodard came and brought us this HOMEMADE peach pie--probably the best pie I have ever eaten in my life!  Yes, he made the whole thing from scratch.  We just couldn't believe it!  What an excellent missionary he has been.

We said goodbye to Elder Carlson, an assistant that we had grown so close to--so sad!

And to Elder Torgersen, a brand new and excellent assistant--so sad!

And to Elder Hammond, an amazing assistant, who also went home a few weeks after us.  We will miss these assistants so much!

Elder Crapo, Elder Reel,  Elder West, (definitely one of our favorites) and Elder Stewart also came in to say goodbye.  We will always remember them!  

Elder Giullian came in to say goodbye.  We had seen all of these elders grow so much during the year that we were there.  It was so sad to think about leaving them!

Elder Peacock sent us this sweet card just before we left.  We will never forget Elder Peacock!

Brad Stirling also came in.  We met Brad at DI and he just latched on to us for some reason.  He came to visit 2-3 times a week the last month that we were there.  He was quite double jointed and loved to show the missionaries his body contortions.  What a sweet man he was.

Our wonderful friends, the Larkins, came to the office and brought us beautiful table runners for holidays.  They are so amazing and thoughtful!  We love them so much!

Sister Dyer, who worked at Family Services next door to our office had become a dear friend and I would really miss her.

And I hated saying goodbye to these wonderful senior missionaries who were also my dear friends at the Employment Center, which was next to Family Services.  What incredible sisters they are!  I will always love Sis. Houseman, Sis. Clark, Sis. Macdonald, and Sis. Splain.

President and Sister Ahlander came in to say goodbye and to give us this darling gift basket.  We couldn't believe their thoughtfulness!  They were so kind and appreciative of us and our work and showed their appreciation all the time, and how I wished we could have served longer with them!  They were amazing people and we knew the mission would be in GREAT hands with them.

My final minutes at "my" desk.  I had worked so many long hours here on the computer, answered a lot of phone calls, talked to a lot of missionaries and dedicated all that I did to the Lord.  It had been my home for a year!

This is the picture of me at my desk that was put on the mission blog, describing my role as mission secretary.

This is the picture of Glen that was on the mission blog, describing his duties.

The couple that would now take our place, the Sudweeks.  The Hunts would be here in a week to take the place of the Sudweeks.

The Sudweeks walk us out to the car to help us load up and to say goodbye.  It's hard to describe the emotions we had!  We worked full blast until about 5:30 that night trying to get everything done.

Even though this pose was in jest as we said our final goodbyes, Elder Sudweeks was especially nervous about us leaving, but Glen assured him that he could call Glen at any time for help.  He continued to call Glen nearly every day for a month, and then every few days for weeks after that. 

When we arrived at our condo, David, Juliann, Clarissa, and Michael came over and had dinner and then we went swimming for the last time at our wonderful pool.  And then we had to finish packing in earnest to leave the next day!  On Tuesday morning, we got up early to clean the condo and was shocked at how much more there was to do.  We wanted to leave the place perfectly clean, but we also wanted to leave in time to meet our family at Elk Ridge, near Zion's and Bryce National Parks.  We worked as hard and fast as we possibly could, and we packed the truck in about 110 degree heat.  Then Danny and Heidi and their family surprised us by arriving there also!  They went to the pool to swim for some rest from their long drive from California.

We finally finished cleaning and doing the final loading of the truck and and car and found that we didn't have enough room to take everything home.  Michael graciously took several things back to his home so we could get them later.  We took the garbage in the car to the dumpster and drove away from the condo that had been our home for the past year.  It was so sad, and yet we were so excited to see our family again and spend time with them!  But oh, we were so exhausted!

 When we were about 20 miles outside of Las Vegas in 115 degree heat, our car started making funny noises!  Our faithful car had lasted through thousands of miles put on it during our stay in Las Vegas and now suddenly it was giving us trouble!  Glen pulled over to check out what was wrong, and lo and behold, Danny saw us on the side of the road as he drove by in his van and stopped to help us.  Glen discovered that the splash guard was coming off of the car, so he took it off, and we continued on our journey, hours later than we had planned because of the extra time spent cleaning and the car problem.

We went to a beautiful and spacious cabin at Elkridge and it was so fun to see everyone that we had missed so much and had been so homesick for!  Here we are decorating bags for the kids to put their treasures in.

Aren't they the cutest grandkids ever? They had grown up so much!

We took them to Mammoth Cave, a lava tube not far from our cabin.  It was dark inside and muddy, and we ventured off to see if we could make it to the end.

Brandon, Brigham, Turin, Scott and I were so excited that we were the first ones to make it through!  Then others went through as well.  Check out how muddy we got!

We went to Bryce Canyon to spend the day and what a sight this park is!  So beautiful!  We had to stop at the entrance sign for a picture of our beautiful family.  Pictured from left, Scott, Lily, Brigham (up above), Blake, Heidi, Adam, Kira, Lisa, Tyler, Danny, David, Juliann, Clarissa, Siena, Brockton, Michelle, Jade, me,  Lindsey, Brandon, Glen, and Turin up above.  They are so wonderful!

Scott, Tyler, Turin, Brandon, Brigham, Siena, Lily and Lindsey look at the spectacular formations--but the clouds were forming, and it wasn't long before the rain came down in buckets and we had to run for cover!  We were soaked!  Luckily, a returned senior missionary who was in one of the lodges let us stay there until the rain passed enough that we could go out again and catch the shuttle back to our cars.  What an adventure!

We let all the grandkids ride horses, and then we took an awesome walk to Crystal Falls, an underground stream that came down from Navajo Lake.  It was amazing!  We had a wonderful trip in a beautiful area.

We didn't know how to feel as we drove up Tanglewood Drive and turned onto Twin Peaks Drive.  What a fabulous surprise to see such a huge and awesome "Welcome Home" banner that Paola had made for us!  So so sweet and really meant a lot. 

 And now we will begin our new lives as returned missionaries, having served the Lord in the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission with all of our hearts, mights, minds and strengths.  It was a privilege and honor to serve and an amazing experience for us.  "Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!"  Alma 29:15

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our last transfer and celebrating Independence Day

It was our last full week at the office and it was one of our busiest weeks also.  It always feels like the work of a mother--mothers work SO hard and accomplish a lot, but their work is never done. 
We were excited to see how transfers would go with President and Sister Ahlander.  They were to do transfers after only four days in the mission, and we wanted to help them as much as possible so that it would go smoothly.  We thought about them all morning as they picked up the new missionaries at the airport and then went to the mission home to have breakfast and take the famous first pictures that I would then mail to the parents.  They and the assistants told us that it went well, and they were even on time to the Alexander building where we meet them to start their orientation.
I was impressed immediately with opening talk given by Pres. Ahlander.  It was so upbeat and positive and it seemed like he had already been the president for so long!  Sis. Ahlander was the same way, with such a wonderful and encouraging smile on her face.  Every interaction she had with the missionaries was endearing.

I follow Pres. Ahlander with my presentation and pass out the new missionary handbooks that I have made to the 22 new missionaries.  Sis. Sudweeks follows me and then Glen follows.  Sis. Ahlander follows Glen.  His last powerpoint presentation and it was kind of sad!

Our new missionaries were at the MTC the same time that the Ahlanders were and they were at the Marriott Center to see the amazing Missionary Worldwide Leadership Training meeting, which they were so excited about!  They are pretty tired at our training because they got up at 3:30 a.m. at the MTC to catch their plane to Las Vegas.  We served lunch after the morning orientation and it's always fun to talk to them as they fill their plates with pizza and salad.  This seemed like a great group.  We then clean up the kitchen and head back to the office to continue working while they are being trained by Elder Dana.

We come back at 4:30 with the mail and packages and to pick up the papers that I left with them to fill out.  We knew it was VERY HOT outside, but check out the outside temperature that registered on our car! 

Pres. Ahlander interviews all 22 missionaries during the orientation and then at 5:00 he presents the new missionaries to their trainers and all the missionaries who have come to transfers.  It was our last time to sing "Called to Serve" with these missionaries--it was so emotional!  I looked out across the cultural hall and knew every face and every name--and compared it to our first transfer when we were so overwhelmed and only knew a handful of missionaries!  I was just filled with wonder at the change that had taken place.  The transfer went smoothly and it was amazing to us that the Lord's work just goes on with a new mission president!
We said goodbye to three of our missionaries who are departing this month and we will really miss them:  Elder Seaman, Elder Ringer and Elder Pulsipher.  We drove home at 7:00 with a lot of feelings and knew that we would miss being at transfers as much as anything! 

On Tuesday, as usual, the zone leaders came in and my heart was full knowing that this was our last day to experience that as well.  This is a typical scene around my desk, where the missionaries gather and enjoy each other.

We gathered for our last picture of them and expressed our love to all of them.  They are Elders Murry, Dowdle, Herlin, Parker, Perez, Tews, Jones, Butler, Sister Hanson, Sister Christensen (sister training leaders), Elder Park, and Elder Wilcock.  We will miss Tuesdays at the office too!

Elder Kredt and Elder Ririe, Mesquite's zone leaders, came in later too after their drive into Las Vegas.

On Tuesday night, Elder Manning and Elder Wilkerson (Redrock's new zone leader--Elder West had been in our ward for the last 6 months and now Elder Wilkerson would now take his place) came over to our condo to pick up his camera and we had a wonderful visit.
On Wednesday I worked as hard and as fast as I could to finish the new leadership letters to the missionaries and the letters to the parents of the newly arriving missionaries.  The week after transfers is always my busiest week and this one was busier than usual because we had to talk to Pres. Ahlander about a lot of things and I was showing Sis. Sudweeks how to do a lot of things. 


 On Thursday we celebrated July 4 by first going to our ward breakfast and flag raising ceremony.  Can you see Elder Yee and Elder Madore with Glen on the far left? 

We went outside for the flag raising ceremony and it was really good--and really hot.

We were told by our ward members that there was a "small town" parade held about half a mile from the church known as the Summerlin Parade.  Of course we wanted to go see it!  We walked with them and Elder Manning and Elder Wilkerson where they had staked out a spot at 5:00 a.m. and put up a canopy.  This "small town" parade lasted over about two hours and had the neatest floats, military groups, Governor Sandoval (Nevada's governor) Senator Dean Heller, and all kinds of other entries, and was absolutely unbelievable!  We loved it and had so much fun there with the Judds.



Even Star Wars!

An amazing group of Native Americans in native dress and doing a dance.  It was awesome!  Possibly Shoshones?  We're not sure.

Even though it was so hot, we were so glad to be able to see it.  We loved it!
After it was over I went back to the office for a few hours to finish the letters that needed to be sent.  It was so funny because the assistants were also there getting their work done and so were the Sudweeks!
That night, the Larkins had invited us to their home for a barbeque and swimming.  So sweet!  Here is Melanie Larkin with her daughter Jane who made these red white and blue dipped strawberries.  So cute!  Melanie prepared an amazing meal.  Isn't she the cutest lady? 

They had rented a slide for the kids and a lot of the adults went on it too.  We couldn't resist going down either!  It was so fun.  We had such a great evening with them and were able to meet a lot of Wayne's family, who were so warm and friendly--especially his 86 year old mother who was an incredible lady!

On Friday I was invited to go to lunch with Sis. Hanson and Sis. Christensen who are amazing missionaries.  We went to Pollo Loco and talked about what experiences they had that helped them decide to go on a mission.  We had so much fun talking!

On Friday night we went out to dinner with Jay and Valerie Chapman at Garfield's, which was located on the edge of a small reservoir near Lake Mead Blvd.  It was a gorgeous setting and we had a great time.  Valerie even gave us a plaque and Willow Tree figurine.  So sweet!

All day Saturday we cleaned and packed and put the furniture back to it's original place and cleaned and packed some more--12 straight hours!  What a crazy feeling to pack up the last year of our lives! 

We were thrilled to be invited over to have dinner with Ron and Nancy Yocum--we sure needed the break! It was a yummy dinner and we had so much fun talking--and then they gave us a gift of chocolate and lotion, body splash etc. from Bath & Body Works.  So sweet!  We have loved all these wonderful people from the Buffalo Ward and will miss them so much.  They will be on our eternal friend list.  And today we will go to our last Buffalo Ward meetings.  So sad!