Wednesday, July 24, 2013

While waiting to go on my mission to Fiji, I kept busy.

I went to BYU Women's Conference where I was spiritually fed by great women speakers.

My family attended with me: Sister-in-law Bonnie Paxman, niece Ryn Paxman, daughters Laura Nielson, Jeanine Newsom, Chandy Bair, and me holding the pink flower.

While in Utah we visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City and attended a Tabernacle choir broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word". It was beautiful.

I attended my granddaughter Paige Newsom's musical on May 10 put on by her acting class. She was the lead in Annie and did a terrific job. She was so surprised and cute when the audience gave her a standing ovation.

Her cousins (five of my grandchildren ages 6 to 11) came from Safford and Mesa to support her: Shade Hargis, Brooke and Tessa Bair, Paige Newsom, Arrow and Sy Hargis.

I went to Canada to visit my friend Jessie Konopelski who had lost her husband in March. I have known her since 1970 when we roomed together in an apartment at the time I met my husband. I got introduced to farm life in Saskatchewan which has very cold winters but wonderful summers with long days for growing canola--their staple crop. She said that when the crop flowers, the fields are so bright yellow that it almost hurts your eyes.

Jessie gave me two of these beautifully hand-painted Ukrainian Easter Eggs. She had previously given me one when I was her bridesmaid many years ago, but it was broken by one of my overly curious children after surviving 19 years without incident. Her late husband's aunt had painted them all. It is becoming a lost art.

I got one big denim quilt done for John's family and two baby denim quilts done for the new grandbabies.

For Baby Israel Jimenez

For Baby Violet Nielson

I got my first real pedicure with my daughters Chandy Bair and Amberlee Jimenez in honor of Chandy's 40th birthday.

I helped my daughter Laura Nielson and family move into their home in June. She was 8 months pregnant, but her stamina was great. 

 I got to help with my two new grandbabies who were born just 9 days apart. 
As you can see both had lots of dark hair.

Israel Victor Jimenez, born June 22 in Mesa, Arizona and weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces. Held by me on his day of birth and
 by my son Jared at two days old.

 Violet Hazel Nielson born July 1 in Provo, Utah and weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces. 
Left taken at one day old and right taken at three weeks old.

Aren't they beautiful! They do look like cousins. 

In between my goings and comings, I worked on the five-page checklist of things I needed to do before leaving for Fiji. In a nutshell, I arranged for my finances while in Fiji, purchased clothing that would be comfortable in a warm muggy climate, purchased things I would need (camera, ipad, and luggage), started learning the Fijian language, got immunizations, collected my prescriptions and supplements (some for the full 18 months), collected recipes to prepare for the younger missionaries, got a great family to rent my furnished house, moved my personal things into a storage bedroom, prepared spiritually by reading the Book of Mormon in less than three months, and packed for 18 months (2 fifty pound rolling duffel bags, a carry-on, plus a huge personal bag). Whew! My family helped me in many ways. Aren't families great!

My children gave me an open house on Sunday evening, June 23, 2013. Friends and family came.

Left: Larry and Sandy Huish from Pima, AZ (friendship began in Douglas, AZ)

Right: Kent Huish family from Maricopa, AZ (son of Larry and Sandy)

Left: Carolyn and Eldon Hastings, my cousins from Gilbert, AZ

Right: Stan and Janell Hastings, my cousins from Mesa, AZ

Left: Darrel and Teresa Cheney and Marsha and Al Coon all from Mesa and friendships began in Douglas, AZ

Right: Jim, Jewell, and Von Himes of Mesa. Jewell is my mother-in-law's cousin.

Left: Alice and George Jarvis of Tempe. Alice was one of my roommates when I met John.

Right: Constance and Wayne Tanner of Mesa, friends since we lived in Tucson. She was Johnny's cub scout leader.

Left: James & Lisa Stock &children Daniel, Troy, Adam, and Krislyn. James was my home teacher and Lisa my walking buddy in Mesa.

Right: Jentry & Bonnie Harris, Corrinne Maldonado, all friends in Bella Via Ward in Mesa.

Left: Melanie Reeves from Bella Via Ward in Mesa.

Right: Toni and Chris Preder and children Hadleigh and Ryleigh of Maricopa. Toni and I worked together at NACOG Area Agency on Aging

My good friends, Gary and Sally Scott, of Snowflake also traveled to attend the open house. They left before I could get a picture of them. Their daughter-in-law, Marilyn Scott, also came to wish me well. Steve and Helen Bair, my son-in-law's parents also came and enjoyed the festivities. Of course, all my Mesa children were in attendance: Chandy and Dave Bair and family, Jeanine Newsom, and John Newsom. Amberlee and Victor had just arrived home from the hospital with their baby boy and so could not attend.

 I said goodbye to all my children 

Chandy Bair of Mesa, AZ


Jeanine Newsom of Mesa, AZ
John Newsom (& Israel Jimenez) of Mesa, AZ


Amberlee Jimenez now of Flagstaff, AZ
Laura Nielson & Violet of Provo, UT

Ivan Lopez (foster son, center) of El Paso, TX
Jared Newsom of Ukiah, CA

Departing for Provo on June 27, 2013

 Some of my grandchildren were able to come see me off at the airport: 
Ashlyn, Brooke, Brig, and Tessa Bair and Ruby Jimenez.

I completed my pre-mission Fijian training with my teacher, Lokahi Vuikadavu. If all the Fijian people are as patient, kind, and encouraging as he is, my adjustment to a new culture will go very well.

When I arrived in Fiji, I met Lokahi's parents at the LDS College in Tamavua Village. I recognized his father because he had the same beautiful smile as his son.

I entered the Mission Training Center (MTC) on Monday, July 8, 2013. 

My companion is Sister Suzanne Limburg--a childhood friend of mine who encouraged me to come on a mission with her. We both lost our husbands to cancer. She is a great example of compassion and dedication to the Lord's work.

We were taught the first week by Brother Sillitoe, Sister Zollenger, and Brother Carver--all young returned missionaries who taught us how to share the gospel by relying on the Spirit to guide us.  They are the "young" people in the photo.

Elder and Sister Reynolds going to Kentucky, Louisville Mission as leadership support (center). Elder and Sister Peery going to Europe Area as counselors (right). Sister Limburg and I going to Fiji Suva Mission as nurse and finance manager respectively.)

There were 46 senior couples and six single senior sisters who entered the MTC that week. In total with the younger missionaries, there were 3400 at the MTC, 960 of whom had arrived that week. There are a total of 70,000 full-time missionaries throughout the world who are inviting others to "Come Unto Christ."

My second week at the MTC I learned office software. Our teachers were Sister Fairbanks (not pictured), Brother Free, and Brother Chauncey. They know computers backwards and forwards and were very patient teaching us. I learned how to create a spreadsheet, how to enter expenditures, make receipts, record housing changes, pay rent and other bills, record missionary transfers, load expense cards for the younger missionaries, send referrals to the local missionaries, and keep track of missionary vehicles.

A great group of missionaries were in my office class. Left to right: Elder and Sister Clark going France, Elder and Sister Sheffield going to Australia (he will be the fleet manager), Elder and Sister Tolley going to Sweden to help with housing, and Elder and Sister Olsen going to Russia to help with young adults.