We wanted you all to know we made it to the beautiful state of Florida safe and sound. I'm just going to give you all a little rundown of what has been happening with us since we left all of you. After spending a great conference Sunday with Jared and Mary we headed off to Provo. We checked into the MTC on Monday morning at 10:30. It's hard to imagine that was almost two weeks ago. The MTC was amazing and such a great experience for us. We learned so very much, like how to approach people with boldness, how to and why we commit with the phrase "will you", and of course how plain and easy the scriptures are to teach from. There were 84 Senior missionaries in our group. It was one of the largest groups they have had in quite awhile. That made it a little hard to get to know very many of the couples but we did make some great friends.
There was another couple from Idaho Falls, the Crandalls, they will be serving in the Tallahassee Florida Mission. We also had another couple that were going to the Tampa Florida mission. They were an older (older than us) couple from the Provo area and this is their second mission. I really was surprised at how many Senior Couples were heading out on their third and fourth missions. Speaking of older couples, we are pretty sure we were the youngest couple in the bunch, even with me turning the big 60 at the MTC. Most were well over 65 and I would say most of them pushing 70.
We had a wonderful devotional on Tuesday night with Elder Neilson of the Seventy. He is over the Mission Department and gave such a great talk. He said there were 2,000 missionaries at that Devotional and before they are finished serving they will bring three stakes into the Church and baptize 10,000 people.
He brought out 11 points for all missionaries. He started with 1- You are normal 2- You can do hard things 3- It's not all about you 4- your companion is on your team 5- teach people not lessons 6- you will have another adjustment when you reach your mission 7- the heavens are open to everyone 8- you are the connection to heaven for an investigator 9- "Will You" invite to change? 10- your righteous efforts will produce change 11- it is all about YOU. Go and become! I really enjoyed it!
We had class everyday from 8:00-4:30, we were so not used to being given so much information and sitting all day long. By the time the day was finished we were pretty toasted. It was good but it was tiring, realized how old we are getting.
We left the MTC on Friday afternoon and headed to Colorado. We stopped that night in Glenwood Springs. The next morning we took off for Denver to see Frank and Georgiann Koscis. We spent the night with them and had a great visit. Headed for Kansas City the next night and then on to St. Louis the next morning to see if we could find Aunt Beth. It was pretty fun to just show up on her doorstep. We were so glad she was home and we were able to see her and meet her two grandsons Ethan and Zach. We didn't stay long because we were under a tornado watch and it was raining like crazy. We drove on to Paducha, Kentucky and went to the National Quilt Museum. I really enjoyed it and dad paced the hall watching the rain pour down and the wind pick up. They decided to close up early because of the storm so we hit the road again. We made it just south of Nashville and stopped for the night.
We would have loved to have stopped a little along the way but it was so blasted rainy we wouldn't have been able to see anything. It rained all the way for us until we stopped in Ocala, Florida for the night. We were about 1.5 hours from Tampa. We got up the next morning and made arrangements to meet with the housing director and President Cusick at 11:00. We didn't get as lost as we thought we might so we were early to meet them. President Cusick is very young, probably in his early 50's, very nice, and I believe he has a great handle on what his task is. We were able to see Elder Dallin Snell while in the Mission Office, he was preparing to come home on Saturday. It was a bit of a heart breaker.
We were given our area assignment, some materials and information, and sent on our way to find an apartment. They have put us into a temporary apartment in Clearwater until the end of the month. It is very nice and the furniture is very nice. It is about 45 minutes down to the Branch so they want us to find something closer to our area. So searching for an apartment is pretty much all we have done since then.
We are assigned to the Gulfport Branch in the St.Petersburg Stake. President Stretch is the Branch President, he is a cute little old man with very unruly hair. He reminds me a little of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. He has a great love for the members of his Branch and a strong desire to see this little Branch become a Ward some day. He has lived here for 38 years. They have their own building and it is very nice, quite new, small, clean and very nicely decorated. He had a couple of apartments for us to look at, but we were lead to believe they were maybe not in the safest neighbor hoods. We have seen one we quite like and will probably go with it. It is in the Chateau Towers, the condo is on the 11th floor and the view out the West window is breath taking. We will be able to sit and watch the sunset every evening. The apartment itself has a real 70's decor about it with lots of mirror tile on all of the walls and light colored hardwood laminate in all of the rooms. We looked at another apartment that I like, it is much more modern and neutral, but does not have a great view. Their are also a lot of law students that live in these apartment so the possibility of parties is strong. They are both two bedroom so we will have room for anyone that would like to come and visit - hint hint- We will make a final decision tomorrow.
We wondered around the area yesterday and today. We went to Madeira Beach, had lunch at a little fish house. It was very yummy! Yesterday we tried Cuban Sandwiches at a little shop in Old Gulfport. The weather has been beautiful, mid 70s with a nice breeze not to much humidity, although my hair would tell you differently. (Can you say bush woman). I think we will really love it here and can't wait to get started on the real work. We are excited to meet the people at church on Sunday. I will attach some pictures or send them separately. We have no internet just my "hot spot" on my phone so it's not great.
One scripture they shared with us at the MTC has become my favorite. It is Matthew 19:29:
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Not that we feel like we have forsaken anything but I do know we will all be blessed because of us serving.
We can't wait to get some decent internet so we can FaceTime with all of you. We do miss you and love you so very much. Thank you for your love and support. We will let you know as soon as we have an address. You can send stuff to the Mission office and we can pick it up there. 13510 North 42 Street. Tampa, Florida 33613. Email is great and so is texting. I have NOT been given any rules yet so I, guessing it is all free game until we hear differently.
Mom and Dad
The rain storms
Aunt Beth with Zach and Ethan, so glad we found them!