Sunday, May 28, 2017

Week of May 22 - 28

We ate dinner in the "wine cellar" at Frugati's with our Mormon senior dinner group. It was a lovely place to have dinner and we were not required to drink wine thankfully.

James had to suspend driving privileges for two of our missionaries. When they get too many Tiwi violations like speeding or aggressive driving he gets an email from Salt Lake and has to take action. Elder Steel took it well, but Sister Harmon hung up on James twice when he was informing her and trying to explain it to her. Sister Harmon only has one more week before her mission ends.
This week I finally submitted our 2016 Mission History to the church. It was less than two months late; "better late than never"! I have been working on it for several months and then had to wait for other people to submit their contributions and give the okay. Then it was quite an ordeal getting it all in the proper electronic form to submit to Salt Lake. The Church History Department emailed back that it was received, processed, and submitted. Then we had a couple copies printed up at Office Depot. It is 140 pages.
Friday we had a staff potluck luncheon at the mission office after our staff meeting. Sister Layton shared the scripture, Jacob 6:3 "And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard..." She and President Layton told us all how much they appreciate what we do and they would not be able to do their jobs without us. It is nice to be appreciated! We talked about the plans for the new missionaries coming Monday and those leaving on Wednesday morning. We discussed the transition for the new senior missionary couples that will be arriving June 23rd and later in July. We talked about the rash of car accidents lately and discussed ideas to help the missionaries be more safe and responsible. President Layton said the Zone Conferences will have to be longer since there are no more Zone Training Meetings to give the Zone Leaders time to train their zones. Then we got talking about baptisms. I asked the question, "What is the average number of baptisms for our missionaries?" President Layton said it is about 2.2 baptisms per year per missionary. California is on the low end, as are most missions in the United States.
Saturday morning, we drove to Arvin (about 30 minutes south) to the Bakersfield National Cemetery. Along the way we passed field after field of grapes, fruit and nut trees, onions, and other produce. Bakersfield National Cemetery opened in 2009 and is nestled in the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains. It is a very peaceful and tranquil setting. Service men and women were directing where to park and they directed our car right to the front of a row instead of all the way back where we thought we were going to have to park. We figured it must have been due to our "Disabled Veteran" license plates. We arrived just in time for  the very moving and patriotic Memorial Day program. We sang the National Anthem, said the Pledge of Allegiance, listened to a couple of speakers, enjoyed Taps and a rifle salute. The program ended with a helicopter that served in Viet Nam flying in and circling above us, stopping, and bowing its nose. James said he remembers that sound of the helicopters when he served in Viet Nam. It was a welcome sound when the helicopters were bringing the mail, supplies, or new servicemen. It was not such a welcome sound when a helicopter flew in to pick up the wounded or the dead bodies. After the program, we were handed an armful of flags and got to help place an American flag at each of the headstones. We walked among the headstones reading some of the names and inscriptions. We noticed a woman standing by a headstone for a long time who was crying. We found out it was her sister's headstone who had died in Iraq a few years ago. We talked to another woman whose husband is buried there and she will be buried beside him. She pointed out to us that the spouse's name and info is engraved on the back of the headstones. She also told us about the significance of the coins left on some of the headstones. This practice dates back to the Roman Empire, but became popular in the United States during the Vietnam War. A visitor might leave a penny if they knew them, a nickel if they were in boot camp together, a dime if they served in the same platoon, and a quarter if they were close friends who served together or were together when the deceased died.
We left the cemetery and drove to Tulare, which is about 65 minutes to the north of Bakersfield. We met my friend and her husband, Helaine and Henry Lopez, at Apple Annie's for lunch. We have been friends for 60 years! She and her parents moved to Logan and she walked into my 1st grade class on March 17, 1957. They only lived in Logan for a couple years before they moved to California, but we have stayed friends all these years. They live in Fresno, but will soon be moving to Modesto to be near her only daughter and first grandchild. Before we parted ways, I gave Helaine a Book of Mormon with my testimony written in the front and some scriptures underlined. She thanked me. That afternoon she thanked me again for the Book of Mormon when she sent me a text about how she enjoyed our time together.                            (Apple Annie has quite the toothy smile and red lipstick!)

After church we took pictures with Elder Cruz and Elder Labrum who will be transferred out of our ward on Tuesday. We will miss them!
Top:  Elder Cruz, Elder & Sister Porras
Bottom:  Melva Arce, Sister & Elder Porras, Elder Labrum