Life is Full of Surprises!

25 Aug 2018
1968 2018
Yesterday was our 50th wedding anniversary and we had a lovely day. We enjoyed dinner at the new restaurant in Durham where our son, John, is the front-of-house manager. Its called "Its a Southern Thing" Great meal! And, John seems to love this job, and the people he works with.

After we got home, we received the news that we have an official, executed contract to buy a house. This is WAY ahead of schedule!! I thought we wouldn't be looking until next spring and haven't even finished unpacking into the apartment we're currently in. I never imagined that three weeks after we got back from our mission, we'd be making an offer on a house! (And, then, three days after that it would be finalized.) But, Bob felt prompted that we needed to look now - so, here we are!

Now, we're focusing on the whirlwind of getting ready to close and to move (again) by mid October. I'm surprised that I am at peace with this, but, it feels right.
Here is the house we're buying. It's a 3 bdrm, 2 bath house in Fuquay-Varina and we'll be attending church in the Sunset Lake Ward. The house is two years old and the first owners put in many things that I would have wanted if I had been doing the choosing myself. It feels like the Lord prepared this house just for us. This move will be our 24th and, we hope, final. We want to spend the rest of our lives here.

In addition to closing on our new house in Oct., since this is such a special year, we have treated ourselves to a trip to the Holy Land (this has been in the works for more than a year) and we leave for that on October 25. It adds a bit of stress to be leaving the country so soon after closing on, and moving into, a new house, but, somehow, it will all work out. Life is full of surprises!

Post-Mission Epilogue

11 Aug 2018
This is a short note to say we made it home safe and sound! We met with our stake president the same day we arrived in NC (Wed, Aug 1) and were officially released as missionaries. (A bittersweet moment.)
The next day, Aug 2, some of our furnishings and boxes of stuff were moved to our new place, and we’re now in the midst of stacks of stuff to unpack and sort through in our cozy little two-bedroom apartment. At some point we’ll buy a house, but, this will do for now.
Last Saturday, Aug 4, we took a break from the unpacking, and are now finishing up a week at the  beach with the family!! (Its been lovely, but, lots of unpacking still awaits.)

Final Mission Post

14 July 2018

This will be our last missive from the mission. We’ll be here another week and a half, but we’ll mostly be getting ready to leave – clearing out, cleaning, doing all the final packing up, etc. – plus our usual meetings in the zone and in the mission, daily mission tasks and my physical therapy appointments.
Us, in our best mission photo.
It’s bittersweet to think of leaving, but, we are very glad we came. It’s been a good experience and we’ve met some wonderful people!

Some people know that we were being recruited for another mission — to manage the Family History Data Center in Frankfort, Germany. If we were to go on that mission, we’d be in NC for about 8 months, then, head to Germany for 18 months. However, the timing for that no longer feels right. So, we’ve told them to take our names off the list, and we won’t be going to Germany in 2019 after all. Although I’m feeling a tiny bit disappointed, we’ll see what the future brings. . .  There may be another mission down the road for us one day.

We’ve been reading in 3 Nephi recently — the chapters that speak of the Lord’s kindness and mercy and tenderness towards us. Such sweet verses! They lift the spirit!

I stopped taking the heavy, narcotic meds last weekend. I’ve needed them until now for pain management, and the doc has been gradually decreasing the dosage, to facilitate getting off of them. I’ve been surprised at how much better my whole body feels not taking those, even though I feel more localized pain in my leg. (However, I’m optimistic that will get better soon.) The physical therapist says I’m ahead of schedule as far as strength and range of motion, but the last thing to return is balance (i.e. not needing a cane for walking) and the exercises they’re having me do help with all three. (Because, of course, increasing strength and range of motion improves balance.)

We will miss being so close to the beautiful Salt Lake City temple. (And, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever again live within a five-minute walk of any temple. What a blessing that has been!)

We enjoyed a Days of '47 Pops Concert at Abravanel Hall last night. The band, Joshua Creek, were the guest artists. It was a fun beginning to all the Pioneer Day activities in the next couple of weeks. We don't have plans to attend the rodeo this year, but we do have tickets for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Pioneer Day concert next weekend. Then, we'll really be ready to finish up the final packing and get on the road. We leave here right after our farewell luncheon with the mission presidency on July 25 and arrive in NC on August 1.

Starting to Wrap Up

7 July 2018

It’s hard to believe that in two and a half weeks we’ll be on our way home! Not looking forward to a whole week of driving across country – but, definitely looking forward to being back in NC.

Thanks to our familiarity with the area, and the benefit of the internet, we’ve already leased an apartment, so we’ll be able to unload the car as soon as we get there. We’ll get some of our furnishings out of storage the next day. That’s when we’ve arranged for a mover to help get our stuff from one place to the other. I suspect we’ll be unpacking boxes for a while after that. . .

Last weekend we had a wonderful visit with some friends in southern Utah (Dixie) and thoroughly enjoyed the Cedar City and the St. George Temples. We also got to see Brigham Young’s winter home in St. George, as well as the Jacob Hamlin home. Interesting history. . .

And, we now understand why so many people we know have been moving to St. George. It looks like a great place to live!

On the way back to Salt Lake City, we took a break along the road and got a tour of Cove Fort. I didn’t know much about the history there, and, enjoyed learning about this site. If you’re ever traveling along I-15 between Salt Lake City and Cedar City, Utah, stop and take the tour!

I had my final visit with my orthopedic surgeon this week and he said everything looks good, but, it will be another 6 – 9 months before I’m completely healed. I also started outpatient physical therapy (instead of in-home) and since we’re here for such a short time, now, I have appointments to see them four times a week, each week, until we leave. I was hoping to be in a lot less pain, and, be walking without a cane, before we head home – so maybe these guys can get me there. We’ll see. . .

We didn’t do anything special for July 4th (went out for Chinese food and saw the movie Incredibles 2) but, we did manage to pack a few more boxes in preparation for our move.  

Yesterday, we went to the Jordan River Temple, and it was wonderful to be there! (They reopened in May, after an extensive renovation.) We’ve now completed our goal to attend all 12 of the temples that are within our mission boundaries, plus we got to go to three others that are outside the approved mission area. (There are only two completed temples in Utah that we didn’t get to – Monticello and Vernal.) 

On our way home, we look forward to making a stop at the Columbia, SC temple.

Two More Temples

30 June 2018
As I post this, we are spending a few days in southern Utah. Sister Marlene Bollinger, our friend who recently left the mission we’re in, has kindly offered to put us up at her home in Enterprise for the weekend.

Yesterday we went with her to the Cedar City Temple (beautiful!) and today we’re going to the St. George, UT Temple! We’re excited that we got permission to travel outside our mission boundaries to attend these two temples — and to connect with friends.

Jim and Mary Mowrer are meeting us to do some sealings at the St. George Temple, today, then we’ll go to lunch and see some sites with them. The Mowrers moved to St. George last year, and it’s been quite a few years since the last time we saw them – so, we’re happy that this trip includes some time catching up with them. We’ve lived in, and, been in the same wards with them, in Texas, Indiana, and North Carolina.

This past Tuesday, our zone had a farewell dinner at the home of Elder and Sister Hinckley. Besides us, there are four others leaving our zone/mission within the next month, so they honored all six of us. The Hinckley’s have a lovely home, and we had a great evening. We look forward to going home, but it is bittersweet to leave all the dear people we serve with here!
​Sister Barry presented Bob with a homemade "brief" case.
Elder Blamires presented me with our real gift - a certificate made by Sister Blamires.
We love our cute certificate. Sister Blamires said her daughter helped design it.

We’re starting to get the hang of our Wiki projects and are feeling like we know a little more about what we’re supposed to be doing, now. 😉

Because of my broken leg, and even though it’s healing well, we decided to hire someone to do a move-out clean of the apartment for us. (Just before we leave.) A lot of the missionaries here live within a few hours' drive, so they make multiple trips back home with all their stuff. This mission has taught me that I really don’t need some of the stuff I thought I needed. We just have to leave it behind now that we're going because there's no room to take it with us. (And that's with mailing several boxes home ahead of us.) I think we can make do with a lot less the next time around.

Tomorrow is July!! Woohoo!! We are officially in the final month of our mission. Not that we’re counting down the days or anything. . . ☺

Gardens and Festivals

23 June 2018

It’s hard to believe we’re more than half way through the month of June. We’ve started doing a little packing and clearing out of things – preparing for going home the end of next month.

We traded work spaces with the new zone leaders this week and now have brand new assignments we’re working on as well. It’s odd to be learning how to do something entirely different so late in our mission. We’re editing articles and checking links, etc. on some of the FamilySearch Research Wiki pages, so it’s kind of interesting.

We had a great Mission Conference this week with Elder Craig Christensen and his wife. Part of what they shared had to do with what a transformative conversion experience translating the Book of Mormon was for Joseph Smith. 
It’s been a real treat to serve in a place where we have so many opportunities to hear directly from many of our Church leaders.

Last Saturday we finally made it to the Red Butte Garden, here in SLC, and it was beautiful! Fortunately, they had carts that were available for people like me, who can't walk too far, so we got to see most of the garden. Plus, right now, they have a special Lego exhibit. In various places around the garden there are larger-than-life creatures made from Legos.
(There is both a snake and a mouse in the last one, but it’s hard to see the mouse.)
It’s a beautiful and tranquil garden, interspersed with giant Lego creatures. What's not to love?!

Later today, we’re meeting up with Loren and Lillemor Hubbard and going to the Annual Swedish Heritage Sommerfest celebration in Jordan Park (here in Salt Lake City.) Should be lots of fun. (Lillemor was born and raised in Sweden and came to the U.S. when she was in her 20s. Loren served a mission in Sweden, and they met while he was there.) One of their sons, Christopher, and his family, are in the Sunset Lake Ward at home – and they introduced us to his parents before we came on our mission. Currently, Loren and Lillemor are working on a side business making and bottling their own Swedish-style soft drinks. They'll have a booth at the festival, today.

We continue to say good-bye to other missionaries we've come to know here, who are heading home at the end of their missions. It's been a joy to get to know them. The world is full of people with such a variety of backgrounds, talents and interests!!

Looking forward to seeing friends and family when we go home next month!