Thursday, 31 August 2017

Today we went to Amercon park in the eastern part of Macon next to the Ocmulgee river. It was cloudy but we didn't expect to get caught in one of the stone pavilions. We tried waiting it out but finally made a run for the pickup and got soaked. Before it started raining, I got a couple of pictures of the river overlook:

Looking north.

Looking east.

One of the locals.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Someone brought in a grocery bag full of fresh okra. Okra is not everyone's idea of the ideal vegetable and I've eaten fried okra, okra with tomatoes and gumbo which usually has okra. I decided I would make gumbo. It turned out a little spicy but rather good. Here's what I did:

I browned a chicken breast and two chicken sausages in oil and then set them aside. I sautéed chopped onion, two celery stalks and a half a green pepper in the oil until the onion was browning on the edges and set this aside. I added oil until I had about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup, added flour to make a rue and cooked it until the flour was brown. I then added a quart of chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes, about two cups of chopped okra, diced and sliced the chicken and sausage and added that, added the onion/celery/pepper mix, about a 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, three bay leaves, some dried parsley and and thyme, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt. I then simmered this mix for two hours. The I added 12 ozs of frozen cleaned shrimp and cooked it long enough for the shrimp to cook through and served it over brown rice.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

We slept in—didn't even make it to breakfast by 10 AM. Packed up and then drove into downtown Savannah. There is a parking lot that charges $10 for the day. We found a place for breakfast and then bought tickets for the touring trolleys that go around the city. Here are some pictures of Savannah:

The rich and poor in historic Savannah.

Cotton: The source of all the wealth.

Savannah is a major port.

Savannah is built on a bluff overlooking the Savannah River. The streets leading down are paved with stones used as ballast on incoming ships. The captains replaced the stones with cotton and Savannah paved the streets with stones from all over the world.

Then we bought cookies, pecan candy and ice cream and drove home.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Tomorrow is fifty-one years since Sister Chadwick and I went to the Manti Temple to be married for Time and All Eternity. We're taking tomorrow off. With the assistance of Elders Coombs and Blair, we've remove the furniture and some of the trash from a missionary apartment in Georgetown. We'll come back in two weeks to complete the job. We are dirty and soaked in sweat, find a hotel and shower.

We start celebrating with dinner at the Shell House of low country boil and broiled mahi mahi. Outside the window is a small lake. A sign on the door out to the deck with dispensers of pellets available to feed the turtles and alligator says,
"Do not feed crackers to the fish:"

The alligator's head is between the piers.

Here he is with the turtles. There are two kinds of turtles and they climb all over the gator. The red color is reflection of the restaurant lights. The gator was about seven or eight feet long.

Monday, 21 August 2017

We arranged a trip to the northeaster most portion of the mission so we could be in the path of totality of today's eclipse of the sun. We work in Aiken and Barnwell in the morning and then head to Edgefield, SC. We spot the Aiken Memorial Garden and Mausoleum with wide open views of the sky and park the pickup and trailer. We are a little earlier and I'm taking pictures of long leave pines, the Cousin Itt of the plant kingdom, when a lady, Sharon Williams, walks down from the office. I'm concerned she's going to ask us to leave. She's asks if I will email pictures of the eclipse to her and, if possible, show the cemetery in the background. I promise her the pictures but that I cannot include the cemetery—the camera's going to be pointed skyward. I discover I'm a terrible photographer of celestial phenomenon. I get one good picture:

The eclipse is amazing. I've read about and seen pictures of solar eclipses and the various aspects, Bailey's beads, the diamond ring, the crescents that displays through the leaves of trees, and the corona at totality. Seeing it is about 100 levels above reading about it. We see it all except Bailey's beads. I lay a blanket under a pine tree and here is what it looks like near totality:

Because we're near the edge, totality is brief. A little over a minute and the sky is dark and I can see Venus high up just to the west of the sun. As the sky darkens, the gnats become more active and go away after the sky brightens again.

Then it's back to work delivering furniture and other housing stuff to missionaries in Augusta and Grovetown.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The niece of a sister we home teach is having neck surgery next week and ask for a blessing. She invited us for dinner and I offered to bring an angel food cake.

The member lives with her older sister and the sister's son and daughter. The daughter, Cheryl Lyn Heath, is a get-things-done kind of person. By profession she's a beautician and good enough that when she decided to leave a shop in Macon and open her own shop in the county, most of her clients followed her and now take the 15-mile trip north of the city. Cheryl owns several acres and has horses, goats and peacocks. The peacocks hatched a single chick this year after a snake ate the other eggs. Cheryl built the home they all live in (A big house by my estimate over 2500 sq ft with a large porch across the front.), the shop she works in, and a barn—by herself. She canned jars of vegetables from her garden. We had some of the pickles which are really, really good:

Supper was pulled port BBQ, cold slaw, baked beans, and potato chips with water from the well. It was a pleasure to drink water that hadn't been chlorinated.

We brought raspberries and blueberries to go with the cake. Cheryl asked why they were hollow. She had never had raspberries before and suggested it would be fun to stuff them with something.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Elder Jensen came into our office about 11 this morning saying that the High Priests Group in Macon was having a family home evening with BBQ at the Grigsbys' home at 6 this evening and we are invited. About 12 of us showed up and it was great getting to know some of the local members. A couple of stories worth noting. When the Macon chapel was built in 1969, a road was cut through a pecan orchard to mark the boundary of the chapel grounds and named McKay Drive after David O. McKay. The second story involved a newly ordained deacon passing the sacrament for the first time. All of his grandparents, including two nonmembers, attended church that day. When it was time for the sacrament, his nonmember grandfather had dosed off. When the deacon tapped his arm to get his attention, the grandfather quickly reached in his pocket and deposited a $20 bill in on top of the bread.

Friday, 11 August 2017

I've been working on an Excel workbook. I needed something where I could keep track of all of the details involved with missionary apartments. After several months, I've got it to the point where it contains all that I could think of. I can create a sheet of facts on each apartment very quickly. Sister Chadwick did some proofreading and picked up places where I had transposed characters and number. I created several types of reports based on need such as the aforementioned apartment sheet, a condensed version of the apartment sheet to display on our white board with the missionaries currently assigned to the apartment arranged by zone, district and area, and a card for each apartment with details about how to contact the landlord for repairs and emergencies. The next report I'm thinking about is one that consolidates critical apartment information in a quick reference guide.

Recently, Sister Goff, the mission nurse, flew to San Antonio for the funeral of her ex-husband. On both flights she was seated next to the same woman, Angela. Angela is involved in ball room and step dance. Sister Goff said to contact her the next time Angela had an event. Angela did and the office staff put up $25 each to attend. We arrived at the Barrington Hall Golf Club at 8 PM, the appointed time.

There were not many cars in the lot but a enough people were going in that it was obvious that we were under-dressed. Inside Angela greeted us and sat us down with Ricky Moore and his wife, Cheryl. Ricky was to be one of the contestants with Angela in the competition later. He talked about how much work they had been doing over the last two weeks. The hall gradually filled and it we were still the only white faces in the crowd. Lots of people were step dancing and ball room dancing:

The function is fund raising to support local youth and their education. It is called Dance for Life, Dancing with the Ques. They served food and then Ashley, a student headed to Berklee College of Music in New York as the first student in their hip hop violin program, gave a violin solo. She's going with a full scholarship.

The ball room dance competition was next with eight contestants. The contestants were teachers, a college administrator, an extension agent, and various other well heeled individuals. We all voted for Ricky.

After the contest, more step dancing: Step Dancing. Everyone had a wonderful time and we got our $25 worth and more.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My anxiety about getting the bicycles assembled was unfounded. Everything went fine. One missionary just took the bike saying, "I'm a bike mechanic." Another just put it together on the spot and the third was already partially assemble and just took a few minutes to finish. Next time I'll worry less.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Fourteen missionaries went home today and twenty new missionaries arrived with a four hour wait between them. Made for a long day since after Sister Chadwick and I delivered five of them to the mission home, I had to prepare for transfer day tomorrow—twelve assembled bikes, three unassembled and twenty packages of bedding. In spite of clear instructions to arrange for having any bikes shipped to the mission assembled, all four shipped bikes arrived in their original box and original out-of-the-factory condition. One of them arrived in time to get it to the local bike shop and have it assembled. The other three are still in the boxes.

One of the missionary asked when he would be able to assemble his bike. Keep in mind that the instructions are to have a bike ready to ride when the missionary arrives. This group of missionaries were up until after 10 PM Sunday night. Elder Bednar help a fireside at the MTC with a Q&A. Then they got up this morning at 2:45 to catch a bus to Salt Lake City, flew across 2/3 of the country to arrive in Atlanta at 2:04. On the drive from Atlanta to Macon all five missionaries in the car with us fell asleep. When they arrived at the mission home, there was supper and then interviews with the president and some training. Sister Chadwick delivered the housing training while I was loading the trailer. She said they could barely keep their eyes open. Tomorrow we pick them up at 8:15 for a 9 AM meeting at the stake center when they will meet their new companions, pick up their bike and bedding and be gone before 11 AM to their assignments. And one of the missionaries wanted to assemble a bicycle. I have loaner bikes. They'll be able to get their assembled bikes at three week training later in the month. Good life lesson: Read the Instructions and then Follow the Instructions. Makes for a happy ending.

There was a lion at the airport:

Actually a white standard poodle with a dye job and lion hair cut. Her handler wanders around the airport to lighten to mood and bring smiles to people.

Friday and Saturday, 4 and 5 August 2017

We cleaned out an apartment in Columbus, GA on Friday. Couple of comments: There was a bench press with weights in one bedroom with a note, "This belongs to member, please do not remove." Why would a member store his bench press in a missionary apartment is beyond my understanding. I leave a note, "I suggest the member take it because the next time we clean this apartment, it goes." Then in the kitchen, I opened one of the cabinet doors and removed about a third of the grocery bags and realized I should take a picture:

By the time I had finished I had filled a large construction trash bag to a third of its capacity In the previous apartment we cleaned, we found a similar pile of bags with the additional lovely surprise of rotten potatoes at the bottom.

Let me be clear, we love these missionaries but they are young and part of our job is to help them take better care of themselves. They're all going to see this picture at the next zone conferences.

We spent Friday night with Summer, our oldest grandchild, and her husband Jake who is a newly commissioned lieutenant and assigned to Fort Benning to start training as an armored officer. He is so excited about driving tanks and firing all those big guns.

We went with them to the Infantry Museum at the base. The theme of the museum is, "The Last 100 Yards." Thats the infantry's mission, take the last 100 yards.

After the museum, we had lunch at Mike and Ed's BBQ. We've become fans—great food in a unpretentious atmosphere. And then Summer and Jake helped us finish up the apartment in Columbus.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

After six months even apartments in the far reaches of the mission are becoming familiar. I remembered I could turn around on a lawn in LaGrange but I didn't remember to not follow the GPS to the scenic route around a little section of Route 80 going to the LaGrange apartment. We delivered six study chairs and a dryer today and drove 281 miles—a somewhat average day for these trips.

Talked to President Grayson today. We kind of made a wrong choice not knowing which vacant apartments might be filled during this next transfer. It turns out that we raided one empty apartment to complete an apartment we did a clean on and the raided one is the one he decided, at this at this moment, to put missionaries in. It means we'll have to get a dryer and chairs into the apartment we raided.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Because we're going to the Columbus area for the rest of the week, today was crazy getting all the loose ends pulled together for the arrival of twenty new missionaries on Monday. We had to get bikes and put together bedding packages. The problem is that there are five bikes that are questionable for Tuesday. Hopefully, they will come in and be ready to pick up on Monday.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Today was Zone Conference for the Macon zone. Missionaries met in the High Counsel room at the stake center. Elder Jensen talked about being better than the average driver. Elder Nickel, the doctor for six missions in the Southeast, spoke about being healthy. Sister Nickel's interrupted him a couple of time to make sure he was covering the material just like Sister Chadwick does when I speak. The assistants to the president, Elders Glenn and Major, talked about the many things missionaries are expected to do and how to align and personalize the things that the missionaries have been taught.

We are overwhelmed at times by the knowledge, spirituality, and testimonies of these young men and women. Sister Chadwick and I talked about it as we were driving around getting various items we'll need later in the week for apartments in the western part of the mission. The skills Elders Glenn and Major exhibit as teachers and leaders are impressive. It's obvious they have spent a great deal of time studying the scriptures, pondering their roles as missionaries and leaders, and preparing the lessons they teach.

We talked about the qualities that the four of our kids exhibit as leaders in their chosen careers and can't help but imagine that the experience they had as missionaries contributed to their growth.