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!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Border Patrol Checkpoints

Mexicans can enter the United States for 3 days at a time, but they cannot go farther than 50 kilometers(60 miles) into the country.  Therefore the Border Patrol has set up checkpoints along roads that lead from the border into Texas.  At the checkpoints there are Border Patrol Officers and drug sniffing dogs.  As we travel around the mission, we have to pass through these checkpoints.  They always ask if we are United States citizens and sometimes they look in the mission trasfer van that we drive.  I have an army ammunition box that I carry my tools in.  This caused some questions from one of the Border Patrolman on one occasion. 

This picture was taken on June 28, 2012.  So far this year at this checkpoint, 122,762 lbs of drugs had been seized and 8527 illegal aliens had be stopped.  Notice the cameras on the left side.  Every vehicle and person gets their picture taken.  It is all computerized and by the time you get up to the Border Patrol agent, they have run your license plate and know pretty much who you are.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Texas Size Storm

On March 29th we had a Texas sized storm.  It began raining, then the wind blew at 70 mph, then the hail came with 1 inch diameter frisbee shaped hail stones, and then it rained some more.  Oh yes, there was lightning and thunder throughout.  All in all it lasted about 3 hours and did lots of damage.   The way our apartment sits we had rain and hail hitting our kitchen sliding door and our front door. The hail stones hitting the windows and door sounded like gun shots. The storm dumped about 6 inches of rain.  Lots of damage in our area with broken windows, damaged roofs, and flooding. We were fortunate with no broken windows but we spent most of the time holding towels and rags up to the top of our windows catching water that was running down the inside. Several windows in our apartment complex were shattered. There were about 30 windows boarded up waiting to have glass replaced. Lots of cars in our parking lot have hail damage and two had their back windows completely shattered. We park under a metal cover but the front of the car sticks out and our car has hail damage too. We have to have our hood and right front fender replaced.
The mission home had their front windows broken out and several holes in the roof. Many homes still have plastic tarps covering their roofs. The roofing businesses and window shops are having a field day.
Some of the old timers tell us that this storm was worst than their last hurricane. We hope its not a preview of storms to come.

Standing at our front door, this is what we saw the next morning.

Even the dryer vents were not safe!
This was the north side of the apartment complex.

The mission home took a direct hit!

Missionaries from the area help out the neighborhood.

This was some of the wind damage at the mission office.
It looks like someone was shooting at the Colonel, but it was only hailstones!

This picture was taken at the end of April, a month after the storm and the windows had not been replaced.