Sunday, July 13, 2014

Return to Brazil

One evening during the first part of April we were bored so we read through the "Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin" just to see if there were anything of interest. We weren't even considering going on another mission so soon. Among other things we saw an opening for an Area Technology Specialist (ATS) for Brazil (we didn't even know it existed). It said that they provide training and technical support for Stake Technology Specialists (STS). We put it aside and didn't think about it any more.

A few days later we got an email with the following notice:
Ad attached to a generic email
We thought, "It won't hurt to give a call and find out what it is all about". The next thing we knew we had an interview scheduled on April 16th in Riverton, Utah (headquarters of the church ICS department). After chatting a bit they introduced us to a young lady from Brazil. We recognized right off that it was a Portuguese test to see if we could communicate in Portuguese. Apparently we passed the interview because they told us the next step was an interview with the director of technology in Brazil.

On April 25th we had an interview (personal video conference) with Emerson and Paulo from Brazil. Apparently we passed that interview too (all in Portuguese) because a during the next week we were told to submit our papers for a mission. 

Completing the mission application wasn't easy because of our travel schedule. We had a conference in Rhode Island (and a visit to Canada) from May 5-16. We then had medical procedures and exams every day from May 19-23. We then went to California and Washington from May 27th to April 5th. We got everything done, however before leaving for California.

After completing our physical on May 22nd we pushed the button to submit our papers and called the ICS department so they could flag our application. We had an interview with the bishop on May 23rd and an interview with the stake president on May 26th (Memorial Day). We were committed. 

Then came the long wait for the call. We were told there was a 90% chance we would get the call we interviewed for, but that could always be changed when the apostles met to determine the calls. After waiting 6 weeks (it normally takes 4-6 weeks) we still hadn't received the call so we decided they probably didn't want us. Then the next day we got the call.

Diane opening the call
We got called to serve in the Brazil São Paulo East Mission (the administrative mission for the ICS department) with a primary assignment in the Brazil Area Information and Computer Services Office as area technology specialists. Even though we will live in São Paul (in a condo across the street from the temple and area offices) we will likely need to travel throughout Brazil in our assignment. 

Brazil has about 250 stakes and 50 districts that should each have a stake (or district) technology specialist. Only about a third of them do, most of whom are newly called. Our job will be to encourage the other stakes to call technology specialists and to train the specialists throughout Brazil. It should be a lot of fun increasing technology capability in Brazil to hasten the work.

We are scheduled to report directly to mission headquarters on Monday, October 6, 2014 and serve for 18 months. Visas for Brazil have been quicker lately so we will see when we actually start this new phase of our lives. Meanwhile, we have training in Riverton. Since we have recently been to the MTC, we will not have to return for this mission.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June 2014 Highlights

Even though it is nice to visit family, it is good to be home again. As soon as we got home from California and Washington, Diane had a Relief Society dinner in the back yard of  our Relief Society president's home. It is the final activity until next fall for which she has responsibility. It was an enjoyable evening with 27 sisters in attendance.

Summer is in full swing. We are volunteering at AWHC again this summer. We are both working at the pioneer site, since they have made other arrangements for train drivers. Alyssa dressed up as a pioneer girl and had a lot of fun showing guests how to play pioneer games.
Our pioneer ladies
Every year, Logan holds Summer Fest on the grounds of the Logan Tabernacle. Many artists of all sorts come to display their wares. This year we split up (2 kids per adult) and Paul had a lot of fun walking around with Kamary and Alyssa, listening to their comments about the art work.
Sisters at the Summer Fest
Why can't we take this hammock home with us?
Music continues in the summer with Diane giving piano lessons to each of her six grandchildren, Andrea and Alyssa playing in the summer youth orchestra, attending free Sunday evening concerts with the Cache Valley Symphony Orchestra, attending musicals at the Lyric Theater, and attending the premiere of a new rock group in town - The Toxic Fumes.

For Jason's birthday, Kamary, Alyssa, and Kohler got together to create a performance he should never forget. Kamary made up a song, Alyssa played drums (boxes and pan lids), and Kohler played lead guitar (a toy electric guitar). They spent weeks practicing outside our bedroom window while Jason was away. We all looked forward to the performance of Toxic Fumes. It was very creative and a lot of fun. (Don't give up your day job kids).
Toxic Fumes' premere performance
The Stars!
One of the fun activities during the summer is to go up the canyon for Family Home Evening and have a campfire. We went to 2nd dam and had tinfoil dinners and roasted marshmallows. It was a lot of fun to wander around nature for an evening.
Alyssa is out on a limb again
Brynlie helps Dad with the fire
At least we have good water!
Kohler returning from "the Island"
We decided to make a couple of additions to the yard. the first was to hang a swing from a branch of our tree in the back yard. Alyssa went with us to Lowes to select the swing and helped Paul put it up. It makes a nice addition to the yard.
Alyssa in the swing
After being without a van to hold their whole family, Andrea and Jason finally got a 12-passenger van. they got a real good price for it because it had a wild "wrap" advertising a nightclub. Jason was able to remove the ads and found a white van underneath.
Even Grandpa & Grandma fit with all the family
Andrea and Jason have been renting a storage unit for everything they brought from Arizona. They finally got rid of enough things that we decided to get a shed for the back yard where they can store their things without paying rent. We got the idea from Diane's parents in Washington where they were storing many things before moving to Spokane. We finally found a small shed that would fit in the yard, but had to get it home and assemble it. We took the van down and it barely fit. After getting it loaded we noticed a nail in a rear tire. Fortunately the tire shop was just across the street and we got a new replacement tire for the van under warrantee. The gas was low so we filled up the tank (the first time it has had a full tank since they got the van). Yes, it was expensive!

As we started to put the shed together we found out that there were missing parts (of course). We were able to get it mostly together and call for part replacement. It has been a lot of effort, but the shed is finally in and full of "stuff". It actually looks nice in the southwest corner of our yard.
Our new shed

All Faces West

We didn't stay home long after our trip to the east before we headed west. Diane has always wanted to see the Shady Ladies of Tent Town in Columbia, California so off we went.

May 27
We left on Tuesday and drove as far as Carson City, Nevada. We took a brief stretch on Highway 30 which passes through northern Utah. It is beautiful countryside and cuts off about an hour versus going through Salt Lake.
View along Highway 30
We decided to stop in Virginia City. Last time we went through there it was early one morning when everything was closed. It was nice to walk around the shops in the town.
Diane picked up a new fella in Virginia City
How can I pass up a waterwheel?
And another one
We went on and found a place to stay in Carson City.

May 28
We left Wednesday morning to drive over Sonora Pass to Rich & Ginny's cabin near Long Barn (the GPS had no idea where Long Barn was). We passed a marine training camp and a group of marines hiking along the road. Sonora Pass is very beautiful, with granite peaks and streams. It takes longer to get there, but is worth it.
Sonora Pass road
We arrived at the cabin about noon. Sure enough, Richard had jobs for us to do - change the filters for the furnace vents (after 75 years it's about time, ha, ha, it was more like 28).
This vent has never been so clean!
May 29
We fondly remember the time we took Dad to Calaveras Big Trees State Park so we wanted to see it again. 
New visitor's center
We got there in time for a picnic lunch.
Lunch time
We're almost as big as the trees
 We stopped by the visitor's center and Diane started feeling sick. We let her lie down in the back of the car and in a few minutes she was feeling better and ready to go on our hike.
Portable bed
 Meanwhile, in the visitor's center we saw some of the wild animals in the park. Richard said he had seen a bobcat near the visitors center so we took off trying to find it. Sure enough, there was a bobcat.
The Bobcat
 We finally were ready to take the trail through the big trees. It is a very nice trail (about 1 1/2-miles long) with a lot of good views of the trees.
Start of the trail 
Rest time
That's a tall tree
 As we were going along the trail we encountered a family from Sweden from the same town Hulda Amelia Johnson (Dad's grandmother) was born. We had a nice visit with them.
True Swedes
A good time in the Big Trees
We were tired and hungry by the time we got back to the cabin, but sure enough, Ginny had a good supper ready for us.

May 30
We decided Friday would be our rest day to lounge around the cabin. We could only lounge so long before we noticed the pine needles on the cabin decks. We decided we would quickly sweep them off, but it isn't that simple. First they need to be swept off the roof, and as long as we are up there we may as well be a chimney sweep. 
Watch out below - here come the pine needles
Chim, chim, cheree
May 31
Today was the day for Tent Town (or the Diggins as they call it), an annual event in Columbia State Park. Just outside of Columbia they set up an old mining town. As you enter the town you have to exchange your money for the local currency - "eagles" that you can use throughout the town. The people around town are in costume and character, which makes it interesting. 
Cook making red-flannel hash
Diane makes candle lighters out of wood strips
Lunch time brought red-flannel hash (potatoes and onions with beets) and tamales (too cold).

Lunch time
Tent Town street
Two old-timers
We went to the theater show to see the Shady Ladies. There were only two of them (compared to many in the past), but the show was amusing.
Shady Lady singing
 They set up a boxing challenge that collected bets then took off (with the money) as soon as the sheriff came.
Put em up!
Overall it was a lot of fun; smaller than envisioned, but worth seeing.

Jun 1
We had a leisurely morning with Diane playing old MIA songs on the piano. We went to Sunday meetings at the Sonora 2nd Ward. 

Jun 2
Today we went to Jamestown to look at all the antique shops (which were many). Richard found several things he was looking for (including an old soldering iron). Diane bought a cute button-flower knickknack. We had lunch at the Willow (which could have been better).

Jun 3
We started the day with a short hike up the mountain to look at the valley below. It had some nice views and some interesting granite boulders. 
Don't take this hike for granite!
Break time
In the afternoon Diane and Ginny went to Twain Harte for some shopping while Paul and Richard stayed at the cabin investigating various USB connections.

Jun 4
Today was another travel day. We packed up and headed north toward Washington. We stopped in Donigan for a lunch at Wendy's then continued on to Lassen Volcano National Park.
Lassen Volcano NP
 This is a beautiful area with steam vents and mud pots along with beautiful streams and meadows and snow-capped mountains.
Overlooking a thermal area
Frozen lake
Mountain lake
Snow-capped mountain
a stream through a meadow
This was a beautiful park. We found a motel in Mount Shasta for the evening. It is a pleasant little town (but touristy).

Jun 5
We headed on north, stopping at Lava Beds National Monument. This is a park of lava flows and lava tube caves. 
Lava Beds NM
 We took a short walk through Mushpot Cave, a small lava tube. The monument is full of many such caves that require flashlights and hard hats to get through.
Mushpot Cave
This one is lit
 We then took a trail to Black Crater to see lava flows.
Black Crater trail
Lava flows
 This is also an area that the Modoc Indians were able to hold off the whites for an extended battle. We saw the battle site along the Captain Jacks trail.
Hideout for Modoc Indians
Modoc Indian monument
 The road took us along some nice water reserves.
Pelicans on the water
there is also an area of old petroglyphs.
After we left Lava Beds NM we started the long, slow (55 mph) drive through the middle of Oregon, arriving in Kennewick, Washington about 9 pm. 

Jun 6
The main purpose for this stage of the trip was to help Mom & Dad Mitchell (Diane's parents) to get their house ready to sale so they can move to Spokane to live with Blair and Janae. We took a load to 
Goodwill, went through books and wall hangings in the sewing room, ironed curtains, and took down curtains in the living area to shake off the dust outside. We decided to go to the Old Country Buffet for dinner.

Jun 7
Mom was really worn out from the work yesterday, so today was a bit slower. Paul managed to wash the outside windows, however. A neighbor came over and let him borrow a squeegee which really made the job go faster. We took a load of things to Don & Nadine's where they have a shed for storage until the things are needed. Don and Nadine came over in the evening for a visit.

Jun 8
We stayed most nights at John and Karen's. This morning Karen made some delicious gluten-free waffles with strawberries on top. We went to church with Mom & Dad (meetings starting at 9 am). We went to Don & Nadine's for a very delicious dinner. We don't know how much we accomplished while here, but we really enjoyed the visit. This may be our last time to visit the Tri-Cities.

Jun 9
We decided it was time to get home since we have been away so long (including our trip to the east coast and Canada). We drove all the way, listening to a book on tape as we traveled. We arrived in Logan about 6 pm. We really enjoyed the trip, but are ready to stay home for a while.