Monday, July 10, 2017

Week of July 3 - 9 (July 4th & end of mission)

Monday was our last day in the California Bakersfield Mission office. We gave Elder and Sister Stephenson a quick training and made sure everything was in order. Jayline and Grace came into the office to see what we have been doing this last year and say one more goodbye. It was fun showing them around. We had our last office staff meeting.
Elder Jacobson with us. Us with President and Sister Layton. Monday is their P-day and they forgot they had scheduled a staff meeting so they hurried over in their civilian clothes. Elder Porras with Elder Salvesen, Elder Jacobson, Elder Pena, and Elder Fry.
That evening they had a going away dinner for us at the Morris's; they called it the "Porras Pizza Party". Matt and Patti Morris have a pizza oven in their back yard that he built. We rolled out our own special Italian pizza dough and put on the toppings to our liking. The pizzas were yummy! After dinner we all shared how we came to serve a mission and what the most important things are that we learned. It was very inspirational.
It was after 10:00 pm when we got home. Elder and Sister Ball and Elder Stephenson helped us carry all our stuff out to the car and get packed up. We even had a few additional items than what we came with a year ago; a computer, printer, and TV. It was a miracle that we were able to fit everything in. As I was taking the last couple of things to the car our neighbor came out and asked me what we were doing. (Shawn, who is about 40, lives there with his grandmother.) I told him we were leaving in the morning to go home to Colorado. He was surprised and acted like he was really going to miss us. He told me we were so nice. He started asking about our mission and what we did. He asked lots of questions about the church. I had a Book of Mormon in the car, so I gave it to him along with a pass along card with Elder Bennett and Elder Bankhead's phone number. He thanked me and said he would read it. He actually had met the missionaries because they live about five houses from his mother.

Tuesday morning, July 4th, about 4:00 am we drove out of The Villas (our apartment complex) gate and out of Bakersfield, California. There were no fireworks, just twinkling stars in the sky.
We arrived in Salt Lake City about dinner time. We visited with Gayle and Rick, my sister, and ate a delicious, healthy dinner with them.
We then headed up to Logan with a stop in Clearfield to see Brad, my brother. It was very nice to see these siblings and catch up after being gone for a year. We saw fireworks light the sky from all the communities as we were driving along I 15. It was great to drive into Logan after being gone a year. Since it was so late, we just visited with my mom and brother, Rohn, for a few minutes before we went to Mark and Peggy's, my uncle, where we stay. Their little dog, Meggy, was happy to greet us also. We stayed in Logan two and a half days. It was so good to see my mom again. At 90 1/2 years old, she is doing amazing.

Wednesday morning when we walked out of Mark's house we were surprised to see some police action a couple of houses away. A policeman pulled over a car and told the guy to get out and get on the ground. The guy wasn't complying at first. The policeman was pointing his taser at him and yelling at him to get face down with his arms out. He finally did it. In just a couple minutes with sirens blaring three other police cars came to the scene. They handcuffed him and put him in the back of the police car while they searched his car. Soon a tow truck hauled off his car. Before they all left, one of the policemen came over to us and asked if we were okay. He said the guy had some warrants out for his arrest. They drove him off to jail.

We also got to see our oldest granddaughter, Sierra, who lives in Logan and check out her apartment. She is going to Utah State University.

As we were driving down Main Street in Logan one morning we saw an unusual sight; a mother duck and her ducklings crossing the road.

While in Logan, we visited the Logan Mission mission office. It occupies the former Seminary building at Logan Middle School. I attended seminary in that building about 52 years ago, and my grandpa, Alvin Harris, was the Seminary Principal. It was kind of fun walking in there after so many years. President Allred and his wife just happened to be in the office. We met them and the three senior missionary couples that work there. They told us they have an average of 60 baptisms per month. Also, there are about 65 senior missionary couples serving in the mission; one couple for each stake.
Friday after I took my mom to get her hair done and eat lunch at the Senior Citizen Center, we drove home to Parker, Colorado. James ate lunch at Fredrico's Pizza (his favorite place) with Sierra and her friend, Kyle, and Mark and Peggy. Sierra and Kyle left for Colorado about an hour before we did. Kyle lives in Fort Collins and Sierra's family lives in Castle Rock.

It was after 11:00 pm when we arrived home. It was kind of strange driving into our driveway and garage and walking back into the house after a year of being away. However, it was very nice and there is nothing like home. Tyson, the guy who lived in our house the past year, moved out and is staying at Troy's house for a month while they are on their European vacation.

Saturday we unloaded our car, got groceries, and finished preparing our talks for Sunday. Melissa, James's sister, got dropped off at our house Saturday morning. She was so excited to have us back! It is nice to be back in Colorado.

Sunday morning at 8:30 we met with President Lyman who released us from honorably serving a mission. We took off our name tags. It felt strange and like something was missing not to have them on. He asked us to share what we did on our mission and what we had learned. He told us that we will still see blessings in our family in the future that we will know are direct blessings from our missionary service.

We were the speakers for the Pinery Ward Sacrament Meeting. I talked on "How Service Brings Us Closer to Christ" and James's subject was "The Power of God's Love". We were able to weave in experiences of our mission in our talks. Bishop Hunter presented us with our mission plaque and welcomed us back. He said our ward was organized almost five years ago and we are the first and only senior couple to serve a mission so far. He said we have set a good example for all the rest of them. It felt like home being there with our "ward family". Most of our biological family were there also. Chloe's boyfriend, Damon, came with Tony's family. I told him it was nice to have a Chloe substitute since she is in the Dominican Republic. It was nice looking out on the audience and seeing our beautiful family and winking at some of our granddaughters. Troy's family and Janel FaceTimed us this morning from Paris where they are together. 
After church, everyone came over for a family potluck meal.
This has been a wonderful week of mixed emotions; our mission ending and returning home to family and friends! We feel very blessed to have been able to serve our mission and serve the Lord in that way. It was a wonderful experience that we will never forget and forever be blessed by!