While We Wait

After selling the house, going to my class reunion, and taking our fun trip to Mackinac Island, we settled in to wait until time to leave for our mission. Pat and Harold Hargett have been very kind to let us live in their upstairs all these weeks, and we are very grateful to them. (We left our home on June 22 and leave for our mission Aug 9)
The Hargetts are such good people! We have the whole upstairs to ourselves, but we share their kitchen, so Pat and I take turns cooking and doing dishes.
As soon as we returned from Michigan, I needed to finish making a baptismal dress for our granddaughter, Lily. I loved being able to do it, and Pat had an extra machine in her sewing room that she let me use. I enjoyed sharing that space with Pat while we both sewed — she on a quilt, and me on the dress.
Lily's baptism was the Saturday after we got back, July 16th, and she looked precious in her new dress.
I love seeing our grandchildren being baptized! Such a sweet occasion. 

And. . . since Lily's baptism, we've been filling our time with an assortment of activities. 
I hired Dana Wood to finish a painting that I started last year because it became clear that in the midst of everything else, I wouldn't be able to complete it. He took some artistic liberties with it and I'm kind of disappointed with the final outcome, but I had already given it back to him once because he needed fix some things that weren't right, and, this time, I felt I just needed to take it and go. He said that Susy could bring it back to him any time if she wasn't satisfied with it, but I doubt that she will. I wanted the painting to be a surprise for Susy, but I could tell, she wasn't too excited with it. Oh well. . .
 This is the photo I started with.
 Here's the underpainting I did before giving it to Dana.
And, this is the final painting. 
It's a good enough painting, but their heads are not proportional to each other and the fact that he made her head so small, instead of painting from the photo and the underpainting I gave him, really bothers me. Oh well. . . I think Dana is a good artist, and I've seen portraits he's done of his own family members that are great - but, for some reason, he just couldn't seem to envision this one the way I expected. I wish I'd been able to finish it myself. It probably wouldn't have looked as "painterly", but, I think I might have been happier with it. I just had too much else going on to do it. . .

On a better note, I got John's quilt back from the long-arm quilter who was working it, and was able to finish it, and add the binding. I'm very happy to say I'm heading off on our mission with all of my children and my husband having quilts I've made for them. Woo Hoo! It was delightful to be able to present this quilt to John.

I think he's pretty happy with it - although, now it seems my other sons may be jealous that he got a cooler quilt than they did. . .

We also continue to pare down for the mission. We still had two cars when we got to the Hargetts, and didn't consolidate as much as we should have. Now, my car is sold and we can only take what we can fit in Bob's car, so we keep sorting through and taking more stuff to storage. We do have a couple of small boxes of things we don't need right away that we're giving to Heather to mail after we get there. But, since we're taking our time driving across country, we don't want to have so much stuff visible in the back seat that someone might be tempted to steal it — we only want to have as much in the back as we're willing to carry into the hotel each night along the way. (We feel it will be safe to leave things in the trunk, but not out where others can see it.)

It's fun that we already have our mission address and know we'll be living right across the street from the Conference Center in the West Temple apartments. (185 N. West Temple, Apt. 709, SLC) We'll be on the 7th floor, on the west side of the building, so won't have a view of the temple from our apartment, but, I think we'll still have a pleasant view. Its an older building — I understand we'll have formica counter tops and scratched up porcelain sinks with old metal rims — but that's okay. We'll be within walking distance of anywhere in the mission and these apartments have two bedrooms, which I really wanted. All the newer, fancier apartments are only one bedroom. This way we have a place for visitors to sleep and I'm hoping some of our kids will come even if we can only spend very limited time with them while they're there.

We're stopping in several places on the way west, and we're looking forward to the trip, as well as beginning our mission!

Mackinac Island

Several years ago, we realized that over the years we've managed to visit (not just drive through) most of the U.S., so we set a goal to visit each U.S. state at some point. Michigan is one of the states we hadn't gotten to, yet, so we decided to go.
We had sold our home and still had plenty of time before we leave for our mission, so, why not? On July 6, we flew to Michigan, then rented a car to take us to the ferry, which then took us to the island.

This is us on the ferry - on the way to the island.
We were blessed with beautiful weather while we were there!
No cars are allowed on the island (The ferry companies have parking facilities), so, one thing you notice is that its quieter than most places, You just have to watch out for lots of bicycles and horses when crossing the street.
When we first arrived, I noticed the smell of horse manure, but, they do a really good job of keeping the streets clean, so most of the time you don't notice that. There are men on bicycles, pulling small carts behind them, that sweep up throughout the day.
The horses you see in town are all hitched to carriages. There are places on the island that rent horses to ride, but, generally, you don't see them on the main streets of the town.
 We took a tour of the island with Daisy and Paisley and their driver, Blake.
Its a quaint place. Very relaxing - which is what I was looking for. 
It seems like every other shop on the main street sells fudge! And, we learned that visitors are called "fudgies" by the locals.
Of course, this is the island that became famous as the place where the movie Somewhere In Time was filmed. And, while there, we went to the Grand Hotel and enjoyed a nice lunch and a tour of the hotel and grounds.
This is us on the enormous porch of the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel
Close up of the endtrance
View from the portico 

There were several historic buildings on the island - with enactors who shared stories of the early settlers.

We enjoyed this lovely scene on a morning walk.

The island has lots and lots of places to rent bikes - and I got a kick out of the "parking lot" of the local police station.

We had lunch one day at the Hotel Iroquois. Great food. Fabulous view. (We tried to stay here, but it was already booked, so we stayed across the street, at the Lake View Hotel.) After lunch, it was nice to sit on a bench by the water's edge and enjoy the day.
One last shot as we left the island. 
We had a wonderful, relaxing visit and would recommend it for a great getaway! This quote pretty well sums it up: "As a place of resort during the summer months, there can be none more desirable - none possessing more attractive features and health-restoring influences than this island of Mackinac." - New York Weekly Tribune, July 9, 1853.

50-Year High School Reunion

Early this year, Bob and I bought our plane tickets for a trip to St. Louis in late June, so I could attend my high school reunion, and he could visit with family nearby, as well. However, the closing on our home in Fuquay-Varina happened to coincide with this trip, so we had to be out of our house before we left on June 24th.

I boxed up everything ahead of time, then the moving company came on June 22nd and moved everything into our two storage units. The next day, June 23, a few sisters from the ward came and helped me do the final cleaning. Whew! So thankful for them!

Pat and Harold Hargett have been kind enough to offer us the upstairs of their home to stay in until we leave for our mission. They are SO nice to do this!! So we were able to move the stuff we're taking with us, plus items we need in the interim to their place. Late that Thursday afternoon (the 23rd) we drove to North Raleigh to pre-sign the closing papers. Our realtor represented us at the closing the following Tuesday, and we were officially homeless when we arrive back at RDU on June 28th.

On Aug 24, exhausted from everything related to the move, we flew to St. Louis. Bob's cousin, Judy, lives less than 1/2 hour drive from the airport so we went to her place to visit and spend the night. Judy and Bob grew up next door to each other and she's the closest relative he has (since he's an only child). She's like a sister to him. Bob didn't go to the reunion with me, but stayed with Judy and they hung our together and saw other family members.

Saturday morning, the 25th, I drove to my brother's house and enjoyed time with two of my brothers and one sister while there for the reunion.

But, a 50-year reunion??!! How can I be this old? It doesn't seem possible that I could have graduated from high school 50 years ago! Union, Missouri. is a small town —only about 3,000 people lived there when I was growing up. We had 123 people in our graduating class, and 69 of us made it to this reunion. 27 of our classmates have already died.

The organizers did a great job with all the planning and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It really was great to visit with old friends and to see how they're doing. (Mostly, though, everyone just looked old.)

Many of the friends from my first-grade class were at the reunion. And it was fun to
look at this old photo and be able to recognize each one. In many ways, they look the same, just older. 
My daughter, Laura, asked where my twin brother, Bill, was in this photo, but since they didn't put twins in the same class, he's not pictured here.
Glad that so many could make it to this reunion.
It was great to see everyone after so many years. Several people asked about the mission Bob and I will be going on, and one woman, came up and touched my face, and said, "You have such a glow about you! You look so happy!" It was really sweet.
Also, I won the prize for having the most grandchildren! Woohoo! It's a bag full of goodies to share with the grandkids - Moon Pies, Swedish Fish and Neon bracelets. 

Our Senior Mission Call

May 27, 2016

It took me almost two years to finish blogging about our trip to China and Bali — here's hoping I'll do a better job of keeping it updated from here. . .

This will be our "home" for a couple of years, beginning in August
 For a number of years Bob and I have discussed serving a full-time senior mission for the Church, and in January, this year, we decided it was time. We had our initial interview with our bishop (Keegan Hill) on Jan 17, then began completing the on-line forms and scheduled our physicals. Once we completed our physicals, and all the paperwork from the doctor and the dentist was received by the bishop, we had another interview with him (on Feb 28).
We saw our stake president (Ray Runyan) on March 3rd for our final interview. At that time, he hadn't yet seen the paperwork that was supposed to be forwarded from the bishop, but said he'd let us know when he had everything. Later that week, one of the stake clerks discovered that a couple of pieces of information had not been completed on my medical forms. Fortunately, I could access my on-line medical records and print out the information so those blanks could be filled in. We got word that our mission application papers were finally submitted on March 19th.

Then, we waited. . .

On Monday, April 18, our mission calls arrived!! We invited all our kids and grandkids who live locally over that evening (and included Laura and her family on Facetime) to reveal our mission call to them. (We actually opened the envelope as soon as we got it, but, revealed it to the family that evening.)
We've been called to serve in the Family and Church History Headquarters Mission in Salt Lake City, Utah for a period of 23 months!! We're very excited!!! We report to the Mission Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah on August 29 and will be there for one week. Then we report to Salt Lake City to get our housing and begin all the orientation and training for our mission.
We plan to leave NC on Aug 10 and take our time driving to Utah. We'll visit family along the way and take in some tourist sites (like Mt. Rushmore) as well. . .  (We learned that if our stake president authorizes it [and he said he would] we can be set apart after we get to the MTC instead of having that done before we leave. That will make traveling a little less restrictive, I think.)

We decided to sell our home in Fuquay-Varina so we could serve our mission "unencumbered"
In the meantime, we've also been using the time since January to get our house ready to sell. We painted a few rooms, packed up a bunch of stuff to put in storage (for staging), got rid of stuff, and finished up the spring landscaping tasks. We have loved living in this home and it has been a blessing to us, but, we felt it was best to sell it so we didn't have to worry about managing it (with renters, etc) while we were gone. (Then, when we return, we can downsize into something smaller.)
The house was officially listed on April 6th and was on the market for 38 days. After some negotiating back and forth, we agreed on a price, and were under contract on May 14, 2016.
We've now had the inspection and the appraisal and are waiting to hear what the findings are. Hopefully, there will be no big surprises.
I donated a whole load of excess furnishings (mostly from the upstairs) to a local refugee services agency and have been doing more packing. The movers will be here on June 22 and everything will go into storage. We're not yet sure where we'll be living for the six weeks between moving out of the house and leaving for the mission, but it will work out.
The Lord has blessed us in every way to prepare to serve this mission! We have much to be grateful for!

The Mulia

June 4–6

Oh my, oh my, oh my! So this is how the rich live!!
We left the Pan Pacific Nirwana about noon on Wednesday, the 4th, and rode an hour-and-a-half to the eastern tip of the island to The Mulia. As we traveled you could see the look of the shops and buildings improved greatly until we were in "the high-rent" district. As we were about to enter the grounds of The Mulia, we had to go through a security area where they even ran mirrors under the bus. I haven't been through that kind of security since we went through checkpoints in Berlin (before the wall came down).
What a magnificent place!! There are no words. . .
 View as we arrived, looking toward the hotel
 The entrance fountain
 The lobby "ceiling"
The three women on the right are friends who came together on this tour (with their husbands) They are all from Idaho. Small world story - The woman on the far right has a daughter who moved into our ward with her family shortly after we took this trip - so I've seen her a few times since this.
View toward the Indian Ocean from the end of the enormous, multi-part lobby

 There were lots of public spaces, and hallways, each more grand than the next.
Our room was luxurious and beautiful:
The balcony was truly an extension of the room and people a couple of floors above us watched monkeys playing in the trees outside their rooms! (We only saw birds from ours)
When you open the frosted glass door to the toilet area, the lid automatically lifts and a small light comes on. When you sit, you discover that the seat is heated, and when you stand up, after using it, it automatically flushes. Once you exit the area, the lid closes itself.
These were the controls on the wall, for the bidet. You can adjust the water spray pressure and the position and at the end, warm air dries you. There was one couple in our group who said they have one like this at home. The rest of us couldn't stop talking about it - and we all took pictures!
We spent most of our time at this resort wandering around the parts of the hotel we had access to and enjoying the beach. (Evidently, there are parts of the hotel that are inaccessible to us regular folks so their VIP guests can have their privacy.)

 I got up early and enjoyed taking some pictures at sunrise - with hardly anyone else around. . .

Later, we went swimming — in the ocean and in one of several pools. The water temperature in the Indian Ocean was perfect! As beautiful as the Pan Pacific Nirwana was, I'm really glad we got to stay somewhere with beach access, as well. By the pool we had large lounge chairs with huge sun visors overhead so we could be out of the sun.
The man in the pic below, with his arms crossed, is part of the security that was evident all around the resort.

And, can we talk about the food!! Wow! There is a hotel buffet we ate at a couple of times that is unbelievable — a huge space filled with offerings to appeal to people from all over the world. Plus, a side room full of desserts (including a chocolate fountain) The hotel also offered several areas where you could order from a menu. And, all of it was fantastic!

After our swim we had lunch at a poolside cafe, The Soleil.
(Pic of their entrance wall is above)
No matter where you go, sometimes, you just can't beat a burger and fries. . .
When we checked out the next day, (June 6) we were reminded of the advice we read a few months ago — When you travel, take fewer clothes and more money! We were down to our last $20 as we headed for the airport and the L-O-N-G flight home. 
(It took days and days for me to recover from this trip. Later I read that you should expect your body to take one day to adjust for each time zone you went through. For this trip, that would be 12 days, and I think that's about how long it was. Nevertheless, I'd do it all again!!! Trip of a lifetime! I am so blessed!!)