Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sort of P-Day

Today was a funny day.  We were asked by one of the Elders in the mission office to check on two apartments.  The apartment leases are up for renewal, so they want to know if the apartments are in good shape and whether the lease should be renewed.  However, they didn't want us to let the Elders know that we were coming, so it would be sort of a surprise inspection.  But, we didn't have keys for the apartments, so we had to be there before 10 am when the missionaries are supposed to leave their apartments.

We found the apartments.  Both are in very nice apartment complexes in Bradenton, better than anything that we saw in Bradenton.  Both of the apartments seemed to be in good condition, except for a broken closet door in one of them.  We asked about it and were told that an Elder who previously resided there had decided that he wanted to sleep in a hammock.  He suspended the hammock from the closet door and another door, and the weight of the Elder in the hammock broke the closet door.  Renee thought that was crazy, and I said that she would likely see lots of crazy things done by the missionaries.

We then stopped by the apartment complex where we are hoping to live to pick up a needed form (W-9).  Our plan was to drive to the mission office and physically deliver it.  Unfortunately the business manager who has the form was not working, so we will try to pick up the form on Monday.

Since we had planned to drive to Tampa, we didn't have anything else planned for the day.  It was a sunny day, so we decided to drive to the beaches.  The two best known beaches in our area are Siesta Key and Lido.  Both have very fine, white sand.  Which do you like better?

Siesta Key Beach

Lido Beach

Needless to say, we were dressed differently from the other people at the beach.  While we were standing at Lido Beach, a young man came up to us.  He is originally from Sarasota and now lives in Lehi.  With his family, he is visiting his parents who still live here.  His father is the patriarch in the Sarasota Stake, so I am sure we will meet him.  He gave us a nice seashell that they had found on the beach.  Since I enjoy looking for seashells, now I have an excuse to go to the beach :-)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mission Leadership Council

We were invited by President Cusick to join with the missionary leaders for the monthly Mission Leadership Council.  Included are the assistants to the president, zone leaders, and sister training leaders.  The purpose is to provide administrative guidance and to set the training agenda for the district meetings for the coming month.  Pres. Cusick is concerned that the training agendas are not getting to the district leaders and are not being used in district meetings.  He asked me yesterday to think about how to improve this.  Then unexpectedly (at least to me) had me speak about how to carrying the training from the meeting to the district leaders.  I focused on the importance of writing down what was said and then referring to those notes often.  I used a statement I recently heard that the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.

Pres. Cusick said that for the next month, the training should focus on three topics -- and only these three topics: Personal conversion to the Book of Mormon, How to gift (present) the Book of Mormon to investigators, and Utilizing the pamphlets.  There was some discussion on these topics along with role playing with potential investigators.  I thought it was a good and very direct presentation.  I guess we will find out over the next month as we travel to district meetings.

Usually these meetings are held in different Church buildings, but occasionally they are held "off-site."  Today's was at Hurley Park adjacent to a beach in St. Pete Beach.  It was a cloudy, windy, cool day.  We were all wearing jackets, so there wasn't much temptation for the beach.  It is a nice beach though.

We then drove back to Sarasota and worked on getting our lease resolved.  Supposedly everything is now OK with the leasing company to accept a lease with the Church and provide the needed information.  However, things keep falling through the cracks.  If we didn't really like the apartment complex, I would have given up on this process.  It is still not entirely resolved, but I think with some additional pushing it just might get done.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Good Ending

We had a rather leisurely day with the big accomplishment having some extra keys made for the apartment that we visited yesterday.

However, the day ended well when we attended the baptism of the brother that we drove home from Church meetings two weeks ago.  He is 91 and a former member of the Community of Christ (Reorganized LDS Church).  He has a difficult time walking because of a motorcycle accident 40 years ago, but mentally he is very alert.  He was taught by the sister missionaries who are actually assigned to the Spanish-speaking branch.  As was said to him at his baptism, it is never too late to gain a testimony of the restored gospel.

Sister Mathis, Bro. Lassen, Sister McGee, and Sister Paulsen

The congregation for Bro. Lassen's baptism

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Not Very Busy Day

We were asked by President Healey, the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency and financial secretary, to check out a currently unused apartment in St. Petersburg.  They are planning to put Elders in the apartment next week, so he wanted to know whether it needed additional furniture, utensils, etc.  As it turned out, the apartment is north of St. Petersbug, and it took an hour to get there.  We found the apartment, and Renee thought it was depressing.  It had the standard furnishings, two single beds, two desks (folding tables) and folding chairs, and a dining table and two folding chairs.  Other than the spartan furnishings, it was very dark.  There were no overhead lights, only floor lamps.  They are going to put some night stands and lamps in the apartment, so that might help.

Since we were in the vicinity of Clearwater, we decided to drive there.  That is the other famous beach in this area.  We can understand why people like the beach, powdery white sand, but the area is very crowded.  It was a cool, windy day, and still all of the parking lots were full.  If we decide to go to the beach, we will go to one in the Sarasota area.  We then continued to drive from one island to the next along the beaches until reaching the southernmost, St. Pete Beach, before Tampa Bay.  We will return to St. Pete Beach for a mission leadership council on Friday.

Another good thing about today was that we did not do any furniture shopping.  However, Renee has discovered that her shoes are not comfortable for walking (which women's shoes are?), so we stopped at a couple of stores to look for some shoes.  She found some that were not too expensive.  Now whether they are comfortable, only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

District Meeting

All District Meetings are held on Tuesdays, and we are encouraged to participate in those meetings.  Today, we decided to travel to the district meeting in Port Charlotte.  This was the last district in the Sarasota Zone that we had not visited.  Port Charlotte is about 45 minutes drive and the southernmost unit in our mission.  We planned on arriving early so that we could stop in a store in Port Charlotte to look at some lamps.  Everything worked out well, and we arrived at 12:45 for our 1 pm meeting.

Unfortunately, no missionaries were there.  We waited until after 1 pm, and no one arrived.  This is quite unlike the missionaries who are usually early for meetings.  There were some Church facilities management staff working on the building.  We spoke with them, and they had not seen any missionaries.  So we decided that we had been misinformed about the meeting.

However, since the Church building in Venice was on our way back to Sarasota, we decided to check there.  Sure enough, the missionaries were meeting there.  So we were able to participate in the last half of the meeting.  This is an interesting district with more sister missionaries than Elders.  Two of the district members are returning home next week.

We are quite enjoying the district meetings.  The district leaders who conduct the meetings are not polished or professional.  However they are earnest and committed.  And when provided an opportunity, the other missionaries are willing to participate.  Each district meeting is supposed to include some teaching role-playing.  The missionaries seem to enjoy the role-playing, and I believe it is helpful for them.

The good news for today is that our apartment situation may be resolved.  At least it appears to be resolved, but we won't know for certain until tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2015

P(urchasing) Day

Mondays are P-days in the mission, so I tried to move to the missionary schedule by doing some laundry.  We still aren't very good at arising at 6:30 am or companionship study.  Hopefully that will come once we get settled.

We did some purchasing today -- desk chair for Renee and towels and bedding.  My hope is that we will get our housing situation resolved soon, so we will know where we will be moving permanently and when.

We have driven past a Nature Preserve area, Red Bug Slough (sloo), on the way to the Sarasota building.  I assumed there might be some walking trails there.  So rather than spend our entire P-day in Home Goods, Target, and Wal-Mart, I suggested that we go for a walk there.  There were trails through some woods and alongside some ponds.  We saw a few birds and a lot of beware of alligator signs.  For me it was a pleasant change.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Palmetto Ward Visit

Today we visited the Palmetto Ward which meets in the Bradenton building.  There are three units that meet in that building, and it is also the stake center.  The Sarasota building houses four units.

The Palmetto Ward appears to be a very solid ward.  In speaking with Bishop Ririe, he indicated that they have over 50% Sacrament Meeting attendance, and he thought that was the highest in the stake.  He said five members of the high council and a member of the stake presidency are from the ward.  They have about 35 youth, and I met four priests who are preparing to serve missions.  The missionaries are teaching the girl friend of one of these young men.

Most of the ward council was devoted to discussions about progressing investigators.  They have an unusual situation with a young woman who was baptized last Wednesday.  She was supposed to be confirmed in Sacrament Meeting today.  However, she has since told the missionaries that she doesn't have a testimony and didn't want to be confirmed.  She also said that she didn't want to have contact with ward members.  The Elders and Bro. Jackson, the ward mission leader, will continue to work with her.

Elders Spach and Nelson who are assigned to the ward spoke in Sacrament Meeting.  They gave excellent talks which was not a surprise.  They are the zone leaders, and we have been very impressed by them. We were asked to sit on the stand and were introduced to the ward.

The High Priests Group Leader asked me to talk about missionary work in their meeting.  He was to teach the lesson, and he said that he wouldn't mind if I took all of the lesson time.  So I spoke a bit about our experiences in the MTC and told of the great need for senior missionaries.  They asked some questions about senior missionary work.  I don't know that it was a spiritually uplifting lesson, but perhaps someone might be encouraged to serve.

We finished the day by attending the choir rehearsal in the Sarasota building.  There were fewer men in attendance than last week.  I mentioned that to another brother, and he said that next week will be even worse because of the Super Bowl.  So even though I won't contribute much to the choir, I think they need whatever brethren they can get.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Looking Rather Than Shopping

We started the day by having a mattress set delivered to our apartment by three Elders.  Assuming that we ever move into a permanent apartment, we will need another bed.  The mission purchased one for us on sale at Costco.  There a three missionaries who work out of the office maintaining apartments, and they have a truck and trailer.  They were coming to Sarasota, so they brought our new mattress with them.  I wonder how they feel about maintaining apartments rather than teaching lessons to investigators, but they seem fine with their assignment.

We didn't have any appointments, meetings, or assignments for today, so I announced that I was tired of shopping.  Instead we drove to St. Armand's Circle, an area near one of the Sarasota beaches.  This is kind of a touristy area, sort of like Park City only much smaller.  As it turned out, there was an Art Festival going on with perhaps 200 booths.  I assume it was a "judged" festival because of the high quality (and prices).  Needless to say, there were a lot of people milling around and traffic was jammed, but we enjoyed walking around and looking.  Perhaps the highlight for us was seeing two people pushing small dogs in strollers rather than infants.

We then finished the day with some more shopping.  I purchased a desk chair and Renee bought shower curtains.  We ended the day with a nice fish dinner.  We went to the restaurant at about 4:30 pm because we had skipped lunch.  When we left the restaurant at about 5:30, there was a long line waiting to be seated!  We were glad we started dinner early.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Shopping Day

Unfortunately, today was just focused on shopping.  I had hoped to get all of the shopping finished today, but again I underestimated.  We looked for desks, desk chairs, a bed for the second bedroom, towels, etc.  We did get a few things purchased, but we still have much to do.

The bad news for today is there is some uncertainty about the lease on the apartment.  The lease will be in the name of the Church which means that the leasor needs to provide some information to the Church.  We learned today that the corporate owner of the apartment complex has some concerns about providing that information to the Church because of potential tax issues.  If we can't obtain the information, IRS Form W-9, then we won't be able to complete the lease.  So maybe we will be back to looking for an apartment.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another Combo Day

We started the day with some additional shopping.  We are now looking for desks, lamps, towels & sheets, and other accessories.  I hope that we are nearing an end to this so we can focus our missionary efforts.

In the afternoon, we drove to St. Petersburg for a missionary correlation meeting with the St. Petersburg stake presidency.  President Cusick wanted us to join him for the meeting, so the stake presidency could meet us.  In the future, if he has conflicts then I may represent him in these meetings with the stake presidencies.  I was quite impressed with President Emery, the stake president.  His parents are currently serving in Australia.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Meeting With President Cusick

This morning we stopped at a car wash and discovered that on Wednesdays they have a discount for seniors.  We have also found that many restaurants have senior discounts and early dining specials.  Although we are not here as retired seniors, I'm happy to take advantage of the discounts that local businesses have for them.

Any notion of this being a type of retirement was dispelled when we met with President Cusick.  He was in Sarasota for some missionary interviews, so he asked us to meet with him.  I was set apart as the 1st counselor in the mission presidency.  I had not thought about it before, but the mission president is given priesthood keys to preside over the mission.  That makes sense, but when talking about priesthood keys previously, I had not included mission presidents as holding keys.

Following my setting apart, we joined him for a long lunch.  During the lunch, he again reviewed what he would like us to do.  He slightly expanded his previous list.  One of the new tasks he gave us was to try to meet with and train the Ward Mission Leaders in three stakes we are to work with.  He also suggested that we let the missionaries know that we would like to go to teaching appointments with them.  He would also like us to train the zone leaders and district leaders on conducting baptism interviews.  So we are likely to have plenty to do.

He also suggested that we go to the chapels on Wednesday evenings when YM/YW meetings are held and just meet people.  He noted that the leaders who are in the buildings on Wednesday evenings are the core leaders in the wards.  So we hurried and had dinner and drove to the Sarasota chapel because it is the closest.  In addition to YM and YW, the Sarasota Ward also was holding Cub Scout meeting and Activity Day.  So we were able to meet several people, including the bishop, in the Sarasota Ward.  It was interesting that they were excited when we told them that we are new senior missionaries.  But when we say that we are assigned to work with all of the wards in the stake and not their ward, they lose some of their excitement.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We Did Some Missionary Work

All of the districts in the mission hold district meetings on Tuesdays.  This is a recent change in the schedule.  The idea of holding the meetings on Tuesday is to help the missionaries get back into the proper attitude for missionary work after the "diversions" of Monday preparation day.

Today we participated in two district meetings both with missionaries from the Sarasota zone.  The first was in the morning in Bradenton.  We then raced to Sebring, almost a two hour drive, to meet with the missionaries there.  Both groups of missionaries were surprised when we arrived.  They had not had a member of the mission presidency attend their district meetings before.  I'm sure that word will get around so in the future districts will not be surprised when we show up.  The plan is to rotate around and visit all of the missionaries in our three zones.

After returning to Sarasota, we spent the evening grocery shopping and then looking at more furniture.  I am hopeful, and Renee is especially hopeful, that we will finish with that soon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Task Accomplished

Today was P-day, so I spent the morning catching up on email and paying some bills online.  I thought we could go to the grocery store in the afternoon.  However, Renee spent the morning researching furniture.  Since our apartment is unfurnished, we need to purchase some furniture for it. We will be reimbursed out of the mission budget, and the furniture will be used for senior missionaries after we leave.  Looking for furniture has been a challenge because Pres. Cusick didn't give us a budget.  Rather he just said to spend what is needed for us to be comfortable.

After talking with Sister Cusick, Renee had a better sense for what would be reasonable, so she suggested that we go to some furniture stores.  After spending the afternoon looking, we made some purchases this evening.  We don't have everything we need, but we have enough for when we move into our new apartment.  It cost more than I would have spent.  But since I am comfortable with beanbag chairs, my spending level is not a good standard.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Is Game Day

In the mission, the expression "Sunday is game day" is regularly used.  Sunday's are busy days for the missionaries as they attend their meetings, coordinate with members, follow up with investigators who committed to attend Church meetings, etc.  Our Sunday wasn't that hectic, but we were busy.

We attended the meetings of the University Park Ward in Sarasota beginning with ward council.  I was quite impressed with how the meeting was very focused on individuals.  The missionaries and ward mission leader talked about the progressing investigators.  They have a baptism scheduled for the end of the month.  They also talked about less actives and the 15 names program.  The idea is for each organization in the ward to identify 3 individuals or families to approach about becoming more involved and perhaps having the missionaries teach them the lessons.  The discussion was really focused on individuals and Bishop Leedom seemed to know something about everyone.

We also met President Clover, the Sarasota Stake President.  He was visiting to set apart a new Elders Quorum President.  We visited a bit about the stake.  There are 13 units in the stake and two are a 2 hour (one way) drive from Sarasota.  I guess we will find out how far they are because we will be visiting them.

When we arrived at the chapel and greeted some missionaries, they greeted me as President.  President Cusick had sent out a letter telling them that I was to be the 1st Counselor in the Mission Presidency.  One of them asked if I needed to get new name tags with President Wilson, which I will be getting.

Following the block of meetings, we were asked to drive an investigator home.  He is 91 and a member of the RLDS Church.  He is an interesting person.  As we were driving him home, he told us that he has been married seven times.  He has some children but doesn't have much contact with them.

We concluded the day by returning to the Sarasota chapel to attend a choir rehearsal.  The Sarasota Stake is participating in (organizing) a multi-faith choir concert in mid-February.  It is an effort for community involvement.  Renee likes to sing in choirs, so we thought we would see what it was.  Of course, since I was there, I got to sing as well.  It will take quite a bit of time for the rehearsals, so we will need to check with Pres. Cusick to see if it is OK for us to participate.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Moving Day

Our main activity for today was to pack up everything from our temporary home in the hotel to move to our next temporary home.  This apartment is in Sarasota where we will be living.  Since we will not be able to move into our apartment until February 7th, we will be living in an apartment that had been used by young missionaries.  The mission signs long-term leases on apartments for the missionaries.  However the number of missionaries in the mission fluctuates.  For example at the next transfer which is in the first week of February, we will have a net increase of ten missionaries.  So there often are a few extra, unused apartments.

Whereas the hotel room was cramped with all of our stuff, the one-bedroom missionary apartment is much more spacious. On the other hand, we had furniture in the hotel.  Here we have a bed, two chairs, a folding table to use as a desk, another another folding table for a dining table, and two folding chairs.  I guess the theory is not to make the missionary apartments so comfortable that the missionaries want to spend any time there.

Our other accomplishment of the day was to find the Sarasota Costco.  It is about 15 minutes from our apartment.  There isn't a Costco in Tampa, so the other senior missionaries are jealous.

Our Little "Home"

Our New "Empty" Home

Friday, January 16, 2015


We found an apartment!! We had pretty much decided on an apartment but were still a bit unsettled.  So we decided to look at one more complex.  We were quite impressed with it.  We then drove to the previous frontrunner.  We decided that the other complex better meets our needs, so we returned and started the rental process.  Unfortunately, we won't be able to move into the apartment until February 7th.

It is a relief to have the apartment search completed.  After arriving in Tampa a week ago, we have driven 1000 miles looking at about 20 different apartment complexes.  It was a difficult task trying to remember the details of each complex.  Taking pictures as we looked at them was helpful.

We were in Sam's Club looking for a mattress cover, and a man approached us and introduced himself as Bro. McPherson, 2nd counselor in the Palmetto Ward.  That is one of the wards in the Sarasota Stake where we have been assigned.  We had a nice visit about the missionary activity in the ward.  Then latter we ate dinner at Taco Bell.  When the order taker asked for my name, he then said, "Oh, I will put Elder Wilson."  The power of the name tags!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Combo Day

Today was an interesting combination of activities.  We started with a zone training meeting held at the Mission Office.  We were told this was a special meeting because of the missionaries in the mission were attending.

It was interesting to see all of the missionaries with their cars lined up in the parking lot before the meeting started.  At the zone conferences, all of the cars are inspected.  One of the sisters asked me to help her find the transmission fluid dipstick.  Unfortunately, I wasn't much help.

President Cusick announced at the beginning of the meeting that the mission boundaries have been changed.  The southernmost part of the mission is now part of the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission.  That included the 30 missionaries serving in that area.  So now the mission includes about 130 missionaries, with the expectation that the number of missionaries will slowing increase.

One of the other changes announced was that each companionship was to turn in one of their iPad minis.  As part of the Church's "experiment," the Florida Tampa Mission was one of 30 selected to use iPad minis.  Each missionary was issued one.  Unfortunately, some of the missionaries have not used them effectively.  So now the experiment will consist of having one iPad for each companionship.  I see how the iPads could be useful in studying and teaching, but there is obviously great potential for abuse as well.  It will be interesting to see how the change works.

President Cusick also announced that Sister Larson, one of the sisters we met earlier in the week, had been hit by a car while riding her bicycle.  He said that she wouldn't be able to attend the training, but then later in the meeting she arrived.  She is really banged up, she is expected to recover.

Following the conclusion of the zone training, we did some furniture "looking."  We will need some furniture whenever we find an apartment, so we checked out IKEA and other home furnishing stores.  The only IKEA in this area is in Tampa, so we took advantage of being in Tampa for the training meeting.  Renee also went to the mission's excess furniture storage facility to see what might be available, but she didn't find much.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Another Day and More Apartments

We spent the first part of the day looking at apartments -- some new ones and returning to some that we have seen before and liked.  We found one new one that we liked.  Unfortunately, later we checked the on-line ratings and found some negative comments.  So that has dropped in our evaluation though it may still be on the not-so-short list.

During the middle of the day, we drove south on some of the off-shore islands to Siesta Key.  This is reported to be one of the best beaches in the U.S.  Fortunately, it was a cool, cloudy day so not many people were at the beach and we could find a parking spot.  The sand is very fine and very white.  I can understand why it is so highly regarded as a beach.  I suspect that on warm, sunny days it is packed even though there is a long distance from the beginning of the beach to the ocean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Combo Day

We started the day by driving to the church building in Sarasota.  President Cusick was conducting interviews with missionaries, and he invited us to participate as a way to meet some of the missionaries.  The missionaries who were being interviewed were from the Sarasota Zone, which is one of the zones assigned to us.  We were there for about three hours participating in discussions with the missionaries while President Cusick conducted individual interviews.  The Assistants to the President, Elders Lloyd and Hawkes were providing training for the missionaries while they waiting to be interviewed, and we, along with Sister Cusick, participated in that.  Basically, they were responding to questions that the Elders had.  I was very impressed with how the AP handled the questions and used Preach My Gospel in responding.

We then revisited two of the apartment complexes that we are seriously considering.  Not surprisingly, they each have positives and negatives.  I'm hopeful that we have looked at enough to make a decision.  If not, I don't know where else we can look.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Yet Another Day of Apartment Hunting

Well, we spent another day looking for apartments.  We have now looked at 16 apartment models.  In addition, we drove through a couple of complexes but didn't stop to look at any models.  I'm sure that we haven't looked at all of the alternatives, but it feels as though we have.

We have narrowed the selection to three prime alternatives.  We will revisit those tomorrow and hopefully be able to then make a decision.  A couple of the alternatives won't have apartments available for a week or more.  If needed we will move out of our extended stay hotel in Tampa and into an apartment in Sarasota that has been used by Elders in the past.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Busy Sunday

We had a busy day today.  First we attended the Temple Terrace Ward meetings.  When we told them that we were newly arrived senior missionaries, the ward members, including the bishop, suggested that we ask the mission president to assign us to their ward.  Apparently, they like senior missionary couples.

We then drove to the mission home to meet with President Cusick.  The mission home is about a 20 minute drive north of the mission office.  The home is quite nice and was just recently purchased by the Church to use as a mission home.  The Cusicks have their youngest child, Kate, living with them.  She is a junior in high school and is attending a tennis academy.  I asked her to let us know when she would be playing in a tournament so we could watch her.

President Cusick called me to be the 1st counselor in the mission presidency.  He then gave us a 4 page listing of things that we should do.  He emphasized that with the exception of any occasional interviews that I would be conducting, the assignments are for both of us.  Although there are a couple of tasks that he asked Renee to do, such as work on public relations.

We are assigned to "supervise" the missionaries in three zones which correspond to three stakes in the mission; Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Brandon.  Our primary focus is the Sarasota Stake, which includes Bradenton, which is why he would like us to live in that area.  We are to regularly visit each of the units in the stake to assess how the missionaries are working with the members -- and vice versa.  There are 13 units in the Sarasota Stake, so we be on a quarterly rotation to visit the units.  Two of the units are Spanish-speaking, so that might be a challenge for us.  When we visit the units, we are to attend all of the meetings, included ward council should that be held on that Sunday.  President Cusick indicated that we might be asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting, and he encouraged us, both of us, to speak.  He said that we have one topic -- missionary work.

Following our meeting with him, we joined the Cusicks and several missionaries for dinner.  One of the missionaries, Sister Upshaw, is headed home tomorrow after completing her mission.  Her father is not a member, so she still has missionary work to do.

Dinner outdoors at the mission home -- in January!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Another Day Of Apartment Hunting

Today our focus on apartment hunting was in the Sarasota area.  Several people had told us that the apartments in Sarasota are more expensive than Bradenton.  We found that to be true, but maybe we were just looking at more expensive rental units.  We discovered that one of the complexes we quite liked has two Elders already living in it.  I don't know if it would be good or bad to be living close to some Elders.  At least we would have some "muscle" to help us move furniture (if we had any).

We have found some good possibilities, so we aren't too stressed about the search. Now the question is whether we have seen enough to make an informed decision.  Needless to say, they are all beginning to blur together.  At least tomorrow we will have a full day of Church and other meetings, so no apartment hunting.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Apartment Hunting

We spent the day looking for an apartment in Bradenton and Sarasota.  Today we focused on the Bradenton area.  There are a lot of large apartment complexes with 200+ apartments.  Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of available apartments since this is the height of the "snowbird" season.  But we have found a couple of possibilities.  Tomorrow we will continue the search in Sarasota.

I'm sure that the snowbirds are disappointed right now because the high temperature today was 60.  But it is supposed to warm up next week.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We Have Arrived In Tampa

After 5 nights on the road and 2364 miles, we arrived this afternoon at the Mission Office in Tampa.  Thank goodness for our Garmin GPS navigator.  We stopped overnight in Monticello, UT; Santa Fe, NM, Wichita Falls, TX; Jackson, MS; and Lake City, FL.  The trip was generally uneventful except for the cold temperatures and an unplanned trip to an Urgent Care facility in Santa Fe.  (Renee was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection and we purchased some medicine.  She is now fine.)

We met briefly with President Cusick.  He would like us to find an apartment in the Sarasota/Bradenton area.  However, first he has some projects in the mission office that he would like us to work on.  So we will be living in an extended stay hotel in Tampa for several days.  Since it may take us some time to find an apartment, he suggested that we start looking tomorrow and start on the projects on Monday.  We also have an assignment for which ward to attend this Sunday and some meetings for next week.

It is good to be here, and we are looking forward to beginning the work.

Do you think this will be sufficient for our needs?

Friday, January 2, 2015

MTC Day 5

We completed the MTC today.  I think that we both agree that it was a good experience.  Although my bias is against role playing, I can see the value as we practiced teaching.  Today we had some presentations and discussion with returned senior missionaries who shared their experiences.  That helped us understand that our work and hopefully influence will not be limited to just our formal assignments.
Our District (Peterson's, Selle'rs, Wilson's, and Tracy's) and Teachers

I greatly enjoyed the association with the other senior missionary couples.  They are just good people who will have a great impact in the various locations around the world where they are assigned.  We learned that only about half the needed senior couples are currently serving.

Tomorrow we start our 34 hour drive to Tampa.  I won't mind leaving the single digit temperatures that we have had the last few days.  I'm not sure how much posting we will do while underway.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

MTC Day 4

Today we had another practice teaching opportunity.  In a way, I feel sorry for the volunteer "investigators" who have to listen to us struggle to teach a coherent lesson.  And each of them have to sit through three consecutive lessons during the morning.  I understand why the role playing and practice teaching is useful.  That doesn't make it exciting though!

Elder Tracy in our district has been feeling poorly, so he went to the doctor.  He was diagnosed with pneumonia.  (Glad that it wasn't something communicable.)  Yesterday he missed the entire day to rest.  Today apparently the medication had some effect, and he was able to participate the entire day, 8 - 4:30.

We had an "elective" class session today during part of our lunch break.  The session was on how to use the Church's Gospel Library app.  As it turned out, almost all of the senior missionary group attended.  Perhaps they should make that a regular part of the curriculum.

Our training has focused primarily on how to teach and invite.  Very little time has been spent on the content of the lessons in Preach My Gospel.  I guess they assume that the senior missionary couples already have an understanding of the gospel.