Saturday, December 27, 2014

6 Months

Today is an anniversary of 6 months being in the California Ventura Mission.  
On July 6th I entered a post -- Things we wonder if we will ever get use to
Missionaries standing when we enter the room
Be asked to speak without warning
Getting up early without going to bed early
Not exercising every day (no time)
Phone ringing or texts with issues or problems
Not being organized
Having avocado and citrus fruit in the back yard
Not talking to family any time we want
Wearing a dress 7 days a week or Dell in a white shirt and tie 7 days a week
Having shoes on all day
Trying to pick a tie that wasn't worn that week
The Samsung phone
Getting around
The different vegetation, flowers and trees
Not having a keyless entry and ignition to the Avalon
The placement of the garbage under the sink
Remembering which cupboard has what
To not referring to the Elders as"guys" (it's not the mission culture)
"Foggy" each morning until the sun burns it off
Not eating
Being 15 minutes early to meetings
Missionaries getting sick
Being in awe of the missionaries
I feel I have gotten use to the above but I am still in awe of the missionaries!
It is hard when the missionaries leave to go home.  It amazes me how we love them all.  I was talking with an elder who was going home the next day.  When we first got here he was serving in the area where he would go to the mission office to email on Mondays.  We would talk every Monday.  I asked him if he has seen a difference in the President.  He told me when he met us at the first meeting that President Felix looked like a deer in the headlights BUT with confidence.  Now it's his mission.  We do feel more comfortable in our responsibilities.
We are very grateful for the love and support we feel from the missionaries.  It's nice to receive positive words of encouragement.
We are still amazed that we are actually on a mission.


This Christmas was very different for us.  There were times it really didn't feel like our regular Christmas because of life now.  Family is a big part of Christmas.
We received the 12 days of Christmas from our wonderful friends "The Bishopric."  It gave us such a connection with them.  They got together for their annual party and called us. It was fun face timing with them.  We laughed, which happens when we are with them.    
President Felix thought it would be good to make carmel corn for the bags we were doing for the missionaries.  The Hockins (friends we knew in Grand Junction and have since moved, first to this mission and then to Bakersfield) came for a Christmas party in Camarillo and wanted to drop by.  Dell told them we were going to be busy but they could come help.  They were angels as they helped with washing pans and bagging up carmel corn.
We had two devotionals this past week.  The mission was divided into the north and south.  We started each day in the chapel.  Thank you to my friend, Wendy Wixom, who shared with me last year how she presented to her family gospel analogies of the Polar Express.  I went with the idea.  We bought the book which had a CD and was narrated by Liam Neeson.  We wanted more that was in the movie so googled the movie.  We found clips that we could use.  Upon further looking though, Dell found a narrated version of a 12 minute video of parts of the movie.  It worked great.  After discussing different analogies (the missionaries are amazing with how they think) we played a summary of the movie with Josh Groben singing Believe.
We then went into the cultural hall for lunch.  Up north Bro. Abbott who is an institute instructor and caterer provided lunch.  Down south we bought food from Mimi's cafe.  Both days we had ham and sides to go with.  Bro. Abbott made apple crisp ala mode and Mimi's provided pecan and pumpkin pie.  There wasn't going to be enough so we bought apple pies from Costco as well.
In October an email was sent to all of the parents of the missionaries requesting a baby picture of their missionary. 
I realized that the missionaries do not all know each other and was a bit concerned that this activity was not going to work.  We used it as an opportunity for everyone to be identified and get acquainted.   When it was time to give out the answers, the missionaries all stood in front of their picture.  When their name was called and the number of their baby picture, we acknowledged who was who.  It was funny though when missionaries would say, "Sister Felix, which one is me?" It was a lot of fun. 
The missionaries had fun with this.  
President Felix MCd the program.  We asked for volunteers to perform in the program.  Both days we had 10 numbers.
This act was the most unique.  Hermana Hurley comes from a family of entertainers (clowns).  I knew she did balloons but I didn't know how funny she was.  She twisted and tied ballons to shape a flower, dog, giraffe, an elder, Elsa, and we are wearing crowns.  She twisted balloons all the time telling us puns or jokes.  Hopefully this isn't the last time we can see her entertain.
Elder and Sister Ruse are sorting some packages.
It was a blessing that we were able to take many packages to the devotionals but on the 24th more were delivered.  The Ruses drove north and we went south.
This sunset is what we saw as we were leaving the mission office with the presents.
We had some frustration in trying to find everyone's apartment.  We finally gave up on one and said we'd mail it.  We got up Christmas morning and the thought came that we could deliver it after talking with our kids and after district meeting.  It was very neat for us to do that even though we went to the wrong building (but found the right one).  This district is very talented musically.  All of them participated in the devotional program and then we asked them to sing a couple of songs for us before we left.
So this is the view driving back to Ventura.  We are loving the palm trees!
There was talk of the assistants coming to Christmas Eve dinner.  That wasn't going to work with us driving around delivering.  We had a memorable meal -- crackers and cheese, carmel corn, and clementines.
The assistants came to Christmas dinner.  We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner -- clam chowder in bread bowls (even sour dough), 7 layer dip, shrimp, raspberry jello with raspberries, and finished with baked alaska.
Our dinner was interrupted three times with missionaries.  One companionship brought us cookies, the four above sang to us, and then Elder and Sister Miles and their family came and sang to us.  It was so fun.  The assistants before leaving sang to us as well.
Yes, it was a different Christmas for us but we were able to feel of God's love and we feel very blessed.  We are very grateful for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and His example.
He is the Gift!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The envelope

Our family has a tradition that comes from a story we read years ago.  One year a wife did something special for her husband, Mike, as he didn't like the commercialism of Christmas.  One year their son was wrestling and there was a non-league match before Christmas.  They played a team that had no uniforms, sneakers without shoestrings, and no headgear.  
Mike loved kids.  The wife had an idea and bought an assortment of wrestling gear and sent them anonymously to the team.  On Christmas Eve she placed an envelope on the tree, the note inside told Mike what she had done and that this was his gift from her.
He loved it.  
The trandition was followed and the envelope became the highlight of their Christmas.  
Our family in their own little families find a service they can do at this time of year.  Their experience is written down and then we share on Christmas day what we've all done.
Our daughter, Brooke, called us and said for their white envelope she would like to cut the missionaries' hair.  Could we make it work?
Last Monday, on P-day she cut 18 missionaries hair, including us.  She did it on our deck. 
Probably the funnest cuts were two sisters who had Brooke change their styles.

The pictures below are all from one house.
At Halloween the same house was decked out with spooky decorations.

Today we were in Oxnard attending a Spanish Ward.  I spoke and the counselor in the Bishopric translated as I introduced us.  I then read testimony in Spanish.
President spoke on the missionary purpose and shared with the ward that there would be no more door knocking, that the members would have to help in finding people for the missionaries to teach.  This will happen just in this ward.  Kind of a pilot program.  Hopefully much success will come.  Honestly going door to door is not as successful as members referring.
The bishop presented the idea to us a couple of weeks ago.  He did it in his mission.  
(He's only 29 and amazing.)
This tree is across the street from the church.  It must be quite a chore to trim this tree.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Sunday after church. They commented that church wasn't the cookie cutter meeting.
 We see this building on our way to the Cross.  The architecture is great. 
 Tate wanted his picture taken.  These stairs lead down to the Cross. 

 This is to the right of the Cross. We think it is beautiful with the fields. The sky was so interesting.  We get kind of use to blue skies without clouds. 
 Nash was not wanting his picture taken. 
 This is at Ventura Harbor. 

The plan was to meet Jared's aunt and uncle at Andreas.  A restaurant at the harbor.  It was closed.  We ended up eating Mexican at Margarita Villa. With the recommendation of Andreas being good,  we will go back. 

Here is a mosaic of an otter. Whenever I see mosaics I think of my mom.
We had to do the Marina Bay park. 

Nash had the biggest expression.  I figured to take his picture,  he can't know about it. Then it works. 
The tide was so far out. The kids loved playing on the beach and in the water.  But no one more than Nash. The way Jared got him to get out of the ocean was to say we were going to go get ice cream.
His thermostat is definitely different than Ama's.

Annie is designing her mermaid trail. 

Tate needed to help out with the tail. 
I thought this was funny that the adults were all looking at their phones.  In defense for Shelby,  she was looking at her pictures as she needed to make more room.
As the tide was going back, waves were coming in which caused the different ripples. 
We were intrigued. 
Annie and Ama found these pelicans. 
The thought came that it would be neat to have the Hales help plant a flower. When they come visit they can see how much it's grown.