Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year from Tennessee

Here we are 3 days into 2015 and I believe I will survive the winter here in Tennessee.....then I saw the 5-day forecast for this week.  It has rained most of this last week, and some days were very cold.....with the highs in the 40s.  That may not sound so cold to you....but it is a very wet cold and it makes my bones hurt. The trees have lost their leaves and everything is brown and dreary. When we get home from the office and finish dinner my favorite spot is under the electric blanket.  So about this time of year I am very happy we were not sent to Nauvoo, Illinois where it is
much colder.
It has been a while since I posted as things have been quite busy around here before Christmas.
 One of the big problems in the Mission Office before Christmas is the amount of mail and packages that arrive there for missionaries all over the mission.  Elder Huntzinger works real hard to get them forwarded to the right place as fast as possible, but about a week before Christmas we hold them for personal deliveries.
This picture was taken the week before Christmas. We had to run over to Hermitage, TN to sign a lease on an apartment (about 26 miles from the office) so we took the opportunity to deliver several Christmas packages to Elders and Sisters who where serving in Mt. Juliet, Hermitage and Buena Vista, TN.
Then on Saturday we were back in that area again to sign another lease and that time we delivered more packages and were able to have our office Christmas party (Me and Elder Dunn) and we invited Elder Hanson and his companion to join us.  We found a pretty good Mexican Restaurant in Hendersonville to eat at.  It was that day that we ran into this wonderful trailer belonging to the Oak Ridge Boys.  The only thing that would have been more exciting was if they had been next to it.  But we had a great time in Hendersonville.
This is Sisters Kohler and Ferrin who get the prize for the most inventive Christmas tree.  They serve in Bellvue (West Nashville).  That night we found a new way home......when Elder Dunn missed a turn that the GPS said to take.  We went down the darkest, winding road I have seen since leaving Pikeville.  We found where the old trailer homes are parked and even one of those old style motels where you park in a carport next to your room (1950s style).  But when we came out of the dark we found that we were actually pretty close to the turnoff to our apartment.
Pretty soon it was the day before Christmas and we still had loads of packages for missionaries serving all over the mission.  The Old Hickory Ward and some others from the Stake were so kind to volunteer to spend their Christmas Eve
driving lots of miles to make sure the missionaries had gifts from their families to open on Christmas.  About 30 valiant members arrived at the office at about 9-10:00 am to determine their assignments.  The mission covers all of middle Tennessee and most of western Kentucky.  Some drove for hours to deliver the gifts they were assigned to.  When they left there were only 2 areas that did not get picked by those members.  Marion Kentucky and Hohenwald Tennessee.  Elder Dunn and I left the office at about noon and drove to Marion Kentucky....about 2-1/2 hours north-west of Nashville.  It was a very scenic drive and we really enjoyed it.  We met up with Elder Randall (who we knew from when we were in Pikeville) and Elder Ashby.  We got home in time to Skype with our family in Tucson to watch them open their Christmas gifts from each other.  It was so much fun to see Jacob, Andy and Lucy enjoying the Christmas Spirit.  Lucy didn't quite know how to handle having Grandma and Grandpa on the computer screen.
Christmas day we slept in a little and then took the trip to Hohenwald Tennessee.  This is the trailer-house I may have referred to before.  Not too long ago they had a real problem because they had an armadillo get stuck in one of their pipes under the house.  It was quite a process to get it out.  This house has too many problems to mention.  But the sisters here are wonderful and they were so happy to see us with their Christmas packages from home.  We also brought them some Chimichangas and
Potato-cheese soup.  They were anxious to call home to their families so we didn't stay too long.  They did have an original idea of how to make their little trailer-home comfy.  They drew a fire place with bricks and a fire on their white board.
From Hohenwald we went south-east to Lawrenceburg Tennessee where we met up with Elder Stradling.  It was such fun to see him.  He was excited (as usual).  This energizer bunny has lost no speed or enthusiasm.  We would have gone out for lunch, but, who knew that literally everything is closed on Christmas day.  Ultimately Elder Dunn did get a
small bag of Fritoes at the gas station.  Guess what Elder Stradling got for Christmas!  He can't play it yet, but I'm sure before he leaves for home in another 6 weeks he will have accomplished quite a bit.  His companion was leaving for home in just a few days so they were busy organizing.  Elder Stradling stayed in Lawrenceburg and got a new companion to train.
We had a long day on Christmas but it was so much fun to see the joy that these missionaries spread.  They are happy and full of excitement for the work they do.  We are so lucky to be able to spend time with them and feel of their testimonies, commitment and love for the people of Tennessee and Kentucky.
After delivering all of our packages we returned home to our little apartment and went to bed. The next week was going to be super, super busy and we needed lots of energy.

On December 29th we received 11 new missionaries into the Tennessee-Nashville Mission.

This is always exciting...this is was extra exciting because we received Elder Meldrum from Idaho.
 He is the nephew of our wonderful friend Joanne Hendrix.  This is a picture of him as he first arrived in the mission office.  Does he look a little nervous?  I'm sure he was, but he was soon just part of the mission family.
This is a picture of Elder Meldrum and his 1st companion, Elder Dickman.  They are serving in Dickson Tennessee.  He will enjoy Elder Dickman, one of the few missionaries that is taller than Elder Dunn.  That is Sister Andersen (the Mission President's wife) you see with the camera, making sure she has a picture of them too.  It is a fun day when they introduce all the new missionaries to their companions.  But it is also a sad day because we had 8 missionaries going home.  This was the first time when a missionary that I was especially fond of went home.

This is Elder Shiner from Fresno, California.  How much we grew to love this missionary.  He spent some time with us when we were in Pikeville.  We were in Crossville looking up some of his distant relatives that his mother had found while doing genealogy.  It took a very brave young man to go and serve a mission because he has a stutter.  Especially when he is nervous.  But his spirit always would shine through and you  just had to love him.  He is also a pretty good singer.  He was such a great teacher that when we first came to know him he was teaching training lessons at Zone Conference.  The President had a lot of faith in his abilities.  When he left it brought tears to everyone's eyes.

Being the party animals that we have become, we had a rather sedate New Years Eve party.  Elder Dunn was feeling punny when we left we left the office so we called it an early night and curled up under the electric blanket.  We didn't even hear the midnight celebrations.

We are looking forward to 2015 and all the new experiences we can stir up.  Hope you come along.

Love.......Darryl and Carolyn

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