Sunday, June 4, 2017

Week of May 29 - June 4 (Memorial Day)

We have passed by this house many times because it is across the street from Sound Waves where we have the Tiwi's installed in the new mission cars. We always noticed the memorial they had and wondered what it was all about, so on Monday we stopped to take a picture of it. It is quite an impressive, permanent memorial to the armed forces.
Monday, Memorial Day, we welcomed 7 new missionaries to the Bakersfield California Mission. Five of those missionaries flew into the airport from the Provo MTC at noon and the other two came from the Mexico City MTC and did not arrive until about 3:30. We fed them lunch (Chinese sundaes, rolls & fruit-watermelon stars & blueberries and strawberries) and gave them their orientation.
 That evening, after the other two missionaries had arrived we had dinner at the Mission Home with all of them.
President & Sister Layton, Elder Moon, Elder Pitcher, Elder Spunagle
Hermana Ruiz, Sister Reed, Sister Pankratz, Sister Willyerd

Monday later in the evening, we went to Family Home Evening at Hermana Medina's house. Monday was a big day!      

The next day we made lunch again for the new missionaries, their trainers, and the departing missionaries also. There were 32 of us. We had our standard baked potato bar, sweet potatoes, salad, and fruit.         

That evening we had dinner again at the Mission Home with the 6 departing missionaries who leave early Wednesday morning. We had Chinese food in honor of Sister Kuang. Actually, Sister Kuang is from Taiwan. She gave us a lesson on how to use chopsticks and the proper way to eat the food. The lone elder going home is Elder Markwalter from Missouri City, Texas. His grandmother is not a member of the church and was very opposed to him going on a mission. She tried to talk him out of it by saying he was making a bad mistake and he should focus on his schooling. He invited her to church to hear him give his talk before he left. After the meeting, she told him, she now understood why he was going. Well, about a year later he sent the missionaries to visit her. On Saturday she will be baptized by her grandson, Elder Markwalter!    

Wednesday evening we attended West High School graduation to see Grace and Jayline Martinez graduate. Grace is the valedictorian and Jayline is the salutatorian in a class of 393 students with only three hundredths of a point separating them! Grace gave the "welcome". We sat by Philip and Karla Lewis, my Logan High classmate, who were also there to support the girls. Karla is their cello and violin teacher. Both of the girls received some more scholarships, so now they have enough grants and scholarships to cover their first year at BYU with some left over for the next year. Grace, Jayline, and their mother were on the early morning KGET news. It was a nice story about twins graduating at the top of their class, their love for education, and how they have inspired their mother to get an education also.

We met  a very interesting, nice man who was sitting in front of us at the graduation. Mr. Grasso will be 100 years old in August! He was pretty spry getting right up several times so people in his row could get in and out. His mind was sharp as a tack and he loved to talk. He served in World War II. He started smoking at 14 and quit at 65 only because it was getting so expensive. He worked until he was 90 when his kids made him quit. He drove until he was 97 and his kids made him stop. He said that was okay because he knows his reflexes aren't quite what they used to be. He worked as a cement contractor all his life. He recently was asked and put up a flagpole at an elementary school near where he lives. He is pretty amazing and looks like he has quite a bit of life left in him!

Friday many of the elders who came into the office were sporting flower ties. I commented how pretty they were and I was reminded it was "floral Friday". I took a picture of Elder Kent and Elder Werrett when they came in to bring their monthly mileage report.

On our P-day Saturday morning, we got up early and left at 6:00 am for a day trip to Death Valley National Park. The park is about four and a half hours from Bakersfield. It is one of the hottest places on earth and holds the record for the highest recorded temperature in the world of 134 degrees on July 10, 1913. It has mountains that are about 5,000 feet high and also has the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin. Only about eighty-four miles to the east/southeast is Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet.  Death Valley National Park has sand dunes, salt flats, minerals, volcanic rocks, colorful mountains, etc. It was stifling hot! At Furnace Creek Visitor Center it was 113 degrees about noon. It got up to 118 degrees a few hours later. Wow! We drank a lot of water as was advised. In several places along the road we felt like we were on a roller coaster ride with all the dips. It was kind of fun. We really enjoyed seeing another part of this beautiful world that was created for us to live on.
High on the mountain straight ahead of us we could see a big sign "Sea Level". It was kind of weird to be so much below that. 

President Carter, our stake president, was at our Spanish Group Sacrament today. After the meeting, he asked James if he could translate for him in temple recommend interviews. James said yes, and he did three of them. That was a good experience for him since it had probably been twenty five years or so since he had been a branch president and had the opportunity! President Carter thanked us for our service and wished us well in case he didn't see us again before we go home.