Sunday, February 24, 2013

Transfer Day

Every six weeks we receive new missionaries and send others home who have completed their missions. When the new missionaries arrive, President Trayner interviews each one and decides where they are to serve within the Mission. They learn all about the mission,  receive training for driving cars, riding bikes, and are introduced to the Mission office staff. That night they are treated to a Texas Barbeque at the Mission home. Elder Choules and I help Sister Trayner prepare and serve this yummy dinner. New missionaries feast on beef brisket, barbequed chicken, ribs, potato salad, veggie tray, fruit tray, corn bread and for dessert texas sheet cake with Blue Bell ice cream.
The next morning they meet at the Mission office where they put their bikes together and meet their  companions.
Then it's off to their Zone.  Elder Choules and I drive a 12 passenger van loaded with missionaries and pull a trailer loaded with luggage and bikes to Harlingen and Corpus Christi. Depending on where each missionary will serve will determine if they go in the transfer van or in a car or truck.  Transfer Days are wild and hectic and super fun.  We love this drive. We love getting to know new missionaries and other missionaries who are just being moved from one area to another. We have learned that all missionaries are hungry so we pack a big plastic container full of sandwiches, cheese sticks, water, granola bars, chips, apples and a treat. 
Our trip to Corpus Christi by way of Harlingen usually takes us about four hours where we unload and pick up missionaries coming back to McAllen.  Then we drive back another four hours making for a very long day.  We are always grateful when we have delivered every missionary safely and arrived back home.  We know the Lord blesses all of us.
Elders Mecham and Farrel praying that they have it correct.

How many elders does it take to put a bike together?

It must go in the front!

Are we having fun yet?

President Trayner giving last minute instructions.

Sister Choules is ready to roll!

Climb in, the van is leaving!

Elder Stott with a pick-up load headed to Laredo.

What a handsome driver!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Assistants to the President

We are loving our association with the Assistants to the President.  They are two elders who are assigned to help President and Sister Trayner with welcoming new missionaries, transfers, leadership training, and anything else the President needs done.  They are in the Mission Office often.
We love them. They are the "Cream of the Crop" missionaries who have proven themselves worthy to work so closely with the President.  They assist him in doing good.
Each morning that they come to the office they greet us with their "Good Morning" jingle and smiling faces.
They set a wonderful example to us of gospel living and sharing. They are obedient and just super young men. They work tirelessly beside the President and Sister Trayner.  They truly serve the other elders and sisters.  They encourage and inspire the other missionaries.  They help take some of the burden off of the President.
They also help us with various tasks and are always willing to serve us.  They are great!

When we first arrived the Assistants were Elder Maldonado (pictured here) and Elder Stone.  They had been submitting baptism and confirmation records and doing Key Indicator Reports as well as their assignments.  They were anxious to show us how to do both of those tasks so that they could focus on teaching.  Elder Maldonado is a great missionary and a great young man.  We adopted him quickly and love him.  He is still serving his mission and has been a Zone Leader in the Mission Zone.  He will be transfered next week and spend his last six weeks of his mission in Laredo.

Elder Stone (next to Elder Choules) was great as well and we came to love him too.  He was very kind and patient with us as we learned our new assignments.  When he was transfered to Laredo for the last three months of his mission the new Assistant was Elder Woodman (by Sister Choules).  Elder Stone finished his mission in June and we were able to meet his parents when they came and picked him up.

Elder Woodman served with Elder Maldonado.  Each new assistant has been a joy to work with and has brought a different personality to the Mission Office.  Elder Woodman was a very obedient, faithful missionary and we love him.  He finished his mission in June.  He returned home and got married in August.

The next Assistants were Elder Duncan (Holding the Pizza box) and Elder De La Fuente on the right.  They are super young men and great missionaries too.  One of their favorite things was having us take them out to Mama Mia's Pizza.  We have gotten to know them really well and feel close to them.  Elder Duncan extended his mission by three weeks so we added a third assistant for that time.  Elder Wilson on the left brings enthusiasm and is also a great missionary.
Elder Duncan was very interested in us and liked to hear about us.  We took him with us on our road trip to pick up washers and dryers from the San Antonio Mission.  He and Elder Choules were companions for the day.  Elder Duncan was very helpful to us and we enjoyed his company.  He also helped Elder Choules change a flat tire that we had on the trailer that day.  We were grateful for him.
We are so blessed to serve with these great missionaries.  They have such a wonderful spirit with them.  We can feel of their testimonies and ours are strengthened as we serve with them.  Elder Duncan finished his mission in October and returned to Tremonton, Utah.  He tells us he is coming to live in our basement when we get home.  We would welcome him but he will probably get married before that would happen.

Elders Wilson and Munsey were the assistants when we left the mission.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The "Birds"

Southern Texas is along the southern coastal birding trail.  There are birds of every variety here.  One of the most common is called a Grackle.  The male is shiny black and the female brown.  There are thousands of them and they all squawk. 

 In the evening they roost on the electric wires and in the trees.  The most popular area for them seems to be at the intersection of Tenth and Trenton streets here in McAllen.  There are thousands of them.  Every tree is full and the wires are loaded in all directions.



More Sights and Sounds of the Rio Grande Valley

Most people in South Texas do not drink the city water.  It contains " who knows what."  We have water stations called Water Mills where everyone takes their 5 gallon jugs and for .25 a gallon fills them up.  Our missionaries all have these 5 gallon water jugs in their apartments.  During the "Hurricane Season" which is June to November each missionary has their own jug filled at all times just in case they are evacuated.  We have our jugs as well but we bought a Brita filtering pitcher and we usually use that.  Water is never cold coming from the faucet. In the summer it is usually almost hot because the water is stored in water towers.

This water tower is right by our apartment and has McAllen Memorial Mustangs. We watched them paint it this summer with coat after coat of paint. The painters were up on scaffling and it was 110 degrees. Not our idea of a fun job.


Every city or town has it's own water tower and have the local high school mascot painted on them.  The city of San Benito is home to singer Freddy Fender and so that water tower has his picture on it.  We think they are kind of fun.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sights and Sounds of the Rio Grande Valley

As we have traveled the mission, we have seen some things that we are not use to seeing in Idaho.  You may see some of these in other parts of the US, but they are new to us. We have taken pictures and wish to share some these with all of you or you all!  We will add to this section, so check back often.

One of the first things we noticed was the Palm trees.  There are several varieties here
in the Rio Grande Valley.

Many of the churches and buildings make you feel as if you are in Mexico.

There are always flowers blooming in the Rio Grande Valley.
Even the Cactus have beautiful flowers.

Can you see the mountains in the background?  I didn't think so.  It is very flat although
it is called the Rio Grande Valley.  In this photograph, Mexico is just about a mile away.

Sorghum is a major crop in Southern Texas.  These fields are about two weeks away from harvest.

That is an oil well in the middle of this Sorghum field.
Cotton is also a big crop in Texas.  Here the cotton balls are beginning to form.
Ready for harvest.

The cotton is harvested and put in a big bale and then hauled by truck to the cotton gin.
A big bale of cotton.

Sugar cane is another crop grown in the Rio Grande Valley.
We got up close and personal with this Texas Longhorn. He wasn't quite sure about us and we didn't know if he would charge or pose. Luckily he posed!