Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week of November 21 - 27 (Thanksgiving)

It rained last Sunday night and Monday morning! Then it rained again yesterday (Sat) and this Sunday morning! Rain around these parts is quite an unusual event, so we had to make note of it.

Believe it or not both Ingrid and I finished our 30 day fitness challenge on Tuesday morning! We bragged about it to everyone we could that day. When we first looked at it and saw the last half and the last day, we thought no way. However, we persevered, told ourselves "you can do it", relished every "rest" and made it through. That's not bad for two 65 year old women (one, named Alecia,  who is almost 66)!  It just goes to show we and everyone can do hard things physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or whatever comes our way.

Tuesday afternoon we went to the Chat and Chew Restaurant, which is owned by five brothers, to help serve a Thanksgiving meal to homeless children from Champ Camp. Champ Camp is an afterschool program run by Bakersfield Homeless Center. The director said they have about 100 kids in the program, but could only bring about 25 of them. The kids were kind of somber at first, but then they livened up, except one 11yr old boy. Both James and I talked to him, but he hardly said anything and did not crack a smile. We felt so bad for him that he was so sad or troubled.

There was one woman who must have wandered in off the street. We tried to talk to her, but she also hardly said a word and did not have a smile. However, I think she was happy for a good meal.
Bakersfield's new mayor and one of the city council members were there along with TV camera crews.

Later in the week, we went to the Bakersfield Homeless Center and dropped off the 21 knitted hats I made since we have been here for the Champ Camp kids.

Bakersfield seems to have quite a large homeless population. We learned that California has the highest concentration of homeless persons in the US - close to 21% of all homeless in the country. Yet, California's total population is just 12% of the nation's total. We see lots of people pan handling at the intersections. You often see people with an old grocery cart or a little trailer on their bike filled with all their worldly goods. Bakersfield is probably a pretty good place to be homeless because the weather is fairly decent and there is hardly any precipitation.

Wednesday we drove to Ridgecrest (about two hours away) to attend Zone Conference there. It is a small zone with only four elders and eight sister missionaries. President and Sister Layton taught them about the "power" they as missionaries have and how they can get and improve that power. In the afternoon, James did a nice five minute vehicle presentation mostly about safety and defensive driving. Then before the missionaries left, he inspected their cars inside and outside. There is a form he has to fill out on each car. The Stake Relief Society fed us a delicious lunch of salad, soups, rolls, and pumpkin pie. After lunch at Zone Conferences all the missionaries gather around the sisters who provided the food and served to thank them. The Zone Leader asks them to share their name and any missionary affiliation they might have like if they, their spouse, children, or parents served a mission or if they were taught the Gospel by missionaries. It is always great to hear their stories. Then we sing "Called To Serve" to them.

(Elder Allen, on the left, is from Aurora, Colorado and knows our granddaughter, Gaby, from church dances. He asked about her.)

Four out of our five children live in and around Denver, so they all had Thanksgiving dinner at Troy's house. Our sweet grandchildren surprised us with a message video of them going around the table telling what each one is thankful for and then they ended with, "I love you Grandma and Grandpa." That melted our hearts!
One granddaughter is in Lithuania for a few months with the International Language Program. For our daughter who lives in London, it was just another day at work. Her husband and two boys are in Prague right now where it was just an ordinary day also. We miss them all.
We ate Thanksgiving Dinner at Dalila Medina's house. She invited all eight of the missionaries (that includes us) from our ward, her mother, her sister and her family, and Dalila's three kids. I made pumpkin cake to take. After dinner, we all went around the table and told what our Thanksgiving traditions are. Then she said it was her tradition to share our testimonies. So went back around the tables and each shared their testimony. The sister missionaries from the YSA ward came after the elders left. We learned it is against the rules for them to have dinner together. It was a really nice Thanksgiving, but we definitely missed our family!

On Saturday we attended two baptisms. Rochelle and her 9 year old son, Hasan, from our ward were baptized at 6:00 pm. She is a single mother who also has a 2 year old daughter, Selena. Rochelle said she was so happy and felt so good to have her sins washed away. The other baptism was at 7:30 pm for Yvonne Taylor who has been investigating the church for about a year. The woman who gave the talk on the Holy Ghost at her baptism has only been a member for five years. She told how they investigated the church for about eight months. They had lots of questions and didn't feel like they knew enough or were ready. Yvonne and her husband got a babysitter for their four small kids on a Friday night and drove to a special place where they poured out their hearts in prayer to ask Heavenly Father if they should be baptized. She said they did not receive an answer right away. Monday night they decided to have Family Home Evening. They did not have anything prepared, so they decided to watch a Mormon message video. They let their oldest child pick the video. It came on their old computer and then the computer froze up just as the words "You Know Enough" showed up on the screen. That was their answer and they were baptized!