Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How We Spend Our Time

I have been trying to do this post for several weeks now but I keep forgetting to get a desired picture and so I kept putting it off. I have decided I will just do it and if and when I remember to snap a picture I will come back and add it.

With that said, in September we were called to team teach the Sunbeams (3 year olds) in Church. There are between 5 and 7 kids, depending on the week. Two of the boys are very active and give us a run for our money. As Wayne has commented, it is babysitting with a theme. In my earlier years I taught the Sunbeams and I can remember being a wreck by the time I made it home. I have mellowed so much since then. All I can do is smile, they are so cute. I am told we will have more kids when we get our new class next year but they are all very mild mannered.

Just after we accepted the Sunbeam assignment, we were asked to work with the Fresno City College Institute program. They wanted it to be a Service Mission but since we babysit Adeline 4 days a week we did not think we would be able to give enough time. As it turns out, we are down there enough to qualify for the mission. Basically we provide food for the students. Tuesday mornings we (Adeline included) go to fix breakfast for whoever shows up. It is more of a come and go type thing so we usually go in about 8:30am and stay until about 11:00am. We return on Friday to do lunch for the Friday Forum where they have a guest speaker. There can be anywhere from 30 to 45 people to feed. When we are not cooking we are to just hang out with the kids. It has been a challenge but I think I can match names and faces for everyone there now. Wayne also stocks a "store" where the kids can purchase food for breakfast, snacks or lunch on their own. They also wanted us to visit the Single Adult Wards to do recruitment but with our Primary calling we are unable to do that. We are really enjoying our time with the students.

These pictures were taken at our last Friday lunch before Winter Break so there were a lot of kids just hanging out and having fun. There are chess sets set out all of the time and a closet full of other games. As you can see in the background, there is a ping pong table which is usually always in use and a pool table, also in use most of the time. There is also air hockey and darts. I look at this great facility and all its activities and just keep thinking about how the kids in Guam would love to have something like this available to them.

This is Michelle Vargas. She has received her Mission call and will be going to Florida soon. She will be one awesome Sister Missionary.

These are some non-members who seem to show up on Fridays. I think Wayne said they are on the FCC track team. We sometimes see them in the building but I think it is just to have a quiet place to pass time. This day, Wayne convinced them to join us for a free meal.

This is about half of the group we had for the closing social. A great group of kids.

This past weekend was a bit of a busy one, all dealing with food. After our duties at the Institute, Wayne, Ashley, Josh and Adeline joined Stacy at her company Christmas dinner. I stayed home to work on some crafts that Ashley was going to take to a Craft Fair the next morning.

Saturday morning Stacy had her office Christmas breakfast out at Sunnyside Country Club. Grandma and Grandpa took all of the little ones to join her. This is a much anticipated annual activity - mostly because of Santa and the stockings that they receive with a $10 bill and a gift card from McDonald's. There is a wonderful breakfast followed by company awards, a sing-a-long

story time, which the kids are amazingly quiet for,

and then the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. This couple is wonderful. Not only are their costumes fantastic but their personalities are so perfect for what they do.
Preston informed Santa that he would like a Lego Mindstorm

Ashlyn asked for a motorized Jeep ATV so she can ride with the little boy next door

and Adeline just screamed. I think I sat her on his lap a little to fast. She did not like it one bit.

These are the bags I crocheted for the craft fair. Unfortunately, hardly anyone attended the fair and only one of the bags sold. I think I will use them for gift bags now.

Saturday night was our Ward Christmas party. We had an Ugly Sweater Party. It was quite different than any previous Christmas party but it was really nice. The meal consisted of soups, salad and bread. So much easier than a turkey dinner and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. They had a really cute skit and Ashley won the ugliest sweater contest. We borrowed sweaters from my mother but I did not tell her they were being used as Ugly Sweaters. I just told her we needed Christmasy sweaters. Didn't want to hurt her feelings.

This week is being spent in shopping with the hope that it will all be done by next week and I can concentrate on a peaceful, family oriented Christmas. It is not so simple as our Christmas was last year but it is so good to be with family this year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Family Cruise

I know I am a bit behind but I finally am getting around to posting some activity since we returned home.

In September we gathered most of the family (we spent time with Jonathan's family in Australia in August) and headed for Florida to take a cruise ship headed for the Caribbean. My niece and nephew, Annaleesa and Corey, joined us with their two daughters. 17 of us had a great week. We went to Belize, Grand Cayman, Roatan and Cozumel. This is most of the group outside of the Cruise Terminal. Anna and Corey had not arrived yet.

After settling in to our rooms we all ended up in Grandma Lue and Grandpa Al's room. We could not believe how big their room was.

All 17 of us were in their room at the same time. The kids loved the "window seats". All the girls could sit in it together. Ashlyn, MaCayela, Adeline and Ella.

The weather was great as we headed out of Miami.

Preston enjoyed exploring the ship and finding all kinds of fun things - don't worry, the snake was not real.

The kids had a great time going to Camp Carnival throughout the week. They did lots of crafts and just had fun being together. That is MaCayela, Ashlyn and Preston.

We enjoyed movies under the stars several times. It wasn't really cold but we still enjoyed hot chocolate as we watched.

Do I detect some happy cruisers? I think they all are ready to go again.

This was Jason and Tamera's room. Ella and MaCayela had a matching setup in their room. The kids really had fun with the drop down beds.

Adeline loved the water and Ashlyn and Preston spent many hours going down the waterslide.

Adeline waiting patiently for her dinner. She was a hit with all the wait staff.

In between meals, the soft serve ice cream machines were a big hit with both young and old.

On Grand Cayman most of the group went to Sting Ray City. A few of us (my parents and I) remained behind to let Adeline nap. They took a Zodiac ride out to the sand bar.

Everyone got a chance to get up close and personal with the stingrays.

Nick, the guide, was great and let the kids try their hands at driving.

On Roatan, we took Adeline to a private beach where she enjoyed the sand and water. The beach was really beautiful but it was SO crowded and SO hot and SO humid that we did not stay very long. We were really anxious to get back on the air conditioned ship.

On Belize, the majority of the group again boarded a boat for a trip down the river to see some Mayan ruins.

They climbed a really steep pyramid and had a fantastic view of the area.

They saw monkeys and lots of other interesting sights.

We celebrated two birthdays while we were on the ship. Wayne's birthday was the 22nd and Annaleesa's was the 25th so we had birthday cake for both of them on Thursday night. Wayne got chocolate.

Anna got a white cake and our waiters led us all in singing Happy Birthday twice.

In Cozamel we went to a park called Chankanaab with Jason and his family. There was quite a variety of attractions. They had a path going through gardens, kayaking, snorkling, swimming with dolphins, a seal show and a nice little area for the kids to swim and play in the sand. It was kind of an overcast day and there was a short down pour but we really enjoyed ourselves.

Waiting for the seals to perform.

With all the eating we did, Stacy and I tried to get in our walking each day. One day we neglected it and ended up walking kind of late. We had the track all to ourselves though.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cairns, Australia

I thought that I had posted pictures of our trip to Australia but I have just realized that I had posted them on my Facebook page. These pictures are all of our trip to Cairns. We arrived a few days earlier than Jonathan and his family so Wayne and I took a train up to the Kuranda area and then returned via a Skyrail. The ride was fun and the scenery was great but I did not really enjoy the Skyrail. It is just to high above everything.!

Jonathan and his family joined us a the next day and we spent time just driving through the countryside.

We stopped at the Curtain Fig Tree. Those are all roots or tendrils hanging from one tree. We went on to see waterfalls, pastureland and just plain old scenery. Interesting and beautiful.

One day we took a 90 minute boat ride (each way) out to a pontoon in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The weather was not the best that day and it made for a very rough trip. I was glad I had taken my dramamine. I think a lot of people forgot theirs!

There was snorkleing and glass bottom boat rides. A lot of coral and fish were seen. They served lunch on the pontoon. If it had not been so cold it would have been great.

Another day, we went to the Crocodile Adventure Park. We saw kookaburras, Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabys, Parrots and lots of Crocodiles.

We also got a chance to taste some crocodile meat.

This was a termite mound. Big HuH!

Later in the week we drove up to the Daintree Rainforest. Here and there along the way we saw Cassawary crossing signs. The birds are as big as an ostrich. We never really saw the actual birds but there were plenty of signs.

There were wonderful trails through the rainforest. We saw lots of really gnarly trees.

There were bird nest ferns all throughout the area.

Our last full day we went to an aboriginal theme park. We rotated through lots of areas where they presented the aborigine story and showed some of their skills. It was another cold day as you can tell by Lucas' attempts at staying warm.

The video is of a man playing the digaridoo. While we were in Cairns, Jonathan and Margo went to a workshop in Kuranda where they sell the digaridoo and he ordered one. When it arrived at his house in Melbourne the next week he entertained us with his attempts at playing it. I have to say, he did a pretty good job. Even Thomas was able to make some decent sounds.