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!!)

More Bali . . .

Tuesday, June 3

Our second full day in Bali, we were up early and boarded buses to take us to the interior of the island for some white water rafting!
After about an hour and 15 min., our first stop was at a community theatre where we were entertained with a traditional, local performance. The costumes and dancing were unique and, though, we couldn't understand anything being said, we enjoyed it.

From there, we drove another hour inland for our whitewater rafting adventure - in the middle of a tropical jungle. After getting fitted for our life vests, oars, and helmets and receiving safety instructions, we proceeded to climb down about 700 (we counted them) rough-hewn rock stairs that twisted and turned until we finally made it down to the river. (Somehow I don't think OSHA would ever approve those stairs!)
The guide in our raft was named Wayan. We've been told that the custom here is that you never tell anyone your real first name - only family members and those very close to you ever know that name. Instead, the children, generally, are called by their birth order. Wayan means first.
We had a great time!
Our float trip lasted about an hour-and-a-half, then we pulled into the bank on the shore side of the Pita Manor Hotel (which is owned by the royal family of Ubud.) Our tour company rented two villas near the shore (one for men, one for women, so we could shower and change before we went up to partake of a fabulous buffet lunch.
Fortunately, we didn't have to climb another 700 steps to get to the main part of the hotel. They provided this lovely elevator for us.
 This is the hall of the hotel, leading to our outdoor eating area

The lunch buffet was wonderful, and the service exceptional! It's hard to imagine living year-round in a climate like this where all the buildings are open to the outside, and most of the dining is al fresco. I hardly ever go outside to eat at home.

After lunch we got to tour a silver factory (beautiful jewelry!) and a batik outlet. Then, it took us about 2 hours to get back to our hotel.
Here's a pic of some of the street traffic we saw on our way back:
Normally, we would have stayed in this one resort for our whole time on Bali, but the tour owners got some kind of special deal at a place called The Mulia on the other side of the island, so we're moving there tomorrow. It was rated as one of the top 5 new hotels in the world by Conde Nast! We'll stay there for our last two nights and final full day in Bali.
Side note: It surprises me how early the sun sets in Bali — about 6 pm each night. Perhaps, since we're near the equator, sun rise and sun set are more constant, rather than the fluxuations we have at home.

Beautiful Bali!!

It's been almost two years since our trip to China and Bali and I'm FINALLY finishing up this record of it! I can't believe it took me this long. . .
We took a late, overnight flight from Beijing to Bali and landed just after noon on Sunday, June 1.

All of us received leis and a cool washcloth upon our arrival. The frangiapani blooms in the leis smelled wonderful! 

I took this photo as we were leaving the Bali airport. The tall "reed" ornamentation, blowing in the wind, were everywhere on the island. They were left from a recent festival of giving thanks to their gods. 
In Bali, the population is about 93% Hindu. However, they are the exception in Indonesia. In the rest of Indonesia, the population is more than 80% Muslim (which I did not know.) 
Other sites from the bus showed us the disparity between the way many people live on the island and the luxury resorts we stayed in while there. 
We received a welcome dance at the entrance to our hotel — The Pan Pacific Nirwana 
Our room at the Pan Pacific Nirwana

They brought a treat to our room of fresh oranges and these little packages of handmade marshmallows wrapped in palm leaves and frangiapani blooms.

The view from our balcony. There were turtle doves all around the resort, and whenever you were outside, you could hear their gentle cooing.
Sunset, looking toward Tanah Lot Temple 

Twice, at dinner, they started our meal with an Amuse-bouche. (If it wasn't for my son, John, who was in culinary school, I wouldn't have known what that was.) This one was salmon and cream cheese. The other was like a sushi roll, with fruit in the center. Both were delicious! 
Our hotel dining room
You could also choose to eat at one of several floating dining areas
We exchanged $100 and found that it was equal to more than a million bucks!! (Rupiah) 
The Indian Ocean is quite rough on this side of the island, and the beach is very rocky, so they discourage people from swimming there. Instead, there are several pools on the grounds
This woman is making a morning offering at one of the many Hindu shrines. Those who are devout give offerings twice a day — in little, woven-reed containers. The contents I saw included small flowers, candy, and even cigarettes. (People who don't have time to give offerings pay others to do it for them.
In Bali, each home has a shrine (in the northeast corner); each neighborhood has one, each workplace has one, and then there are the large, community temples like this one at Tanah Lot
We were amused by this rock formation they labeled as a "holy snake" There is a legend that goes with this, but I don't remember the details. 
Bob at Tanah Lot (we didn't go to the snake park)
A Hindu god statue near the temple 

Below is one view of the market near Tanah Lot Temple. I really enjoyed shopping here. All of the people are so friendly and sweet. We were supposed to bargain for whatever we buy here, like we did in China, but I only did it half-heartedly. The people are so nice, and live in such poor conditions, I wanted to give them the money. 
Bali is wonderful! More to come. . .