Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Puerto Rico Update Family and FEMA To the Rescue

This week, I thought I would update you on my family in Puerto Rico as things ate not going well there. This was the update on from my niece on her parents this week. "My parents are doing really well! And learning how to take selfies;) They are picking up humanitarian supplies from the church at the airport and delivering them to stake centers. They are also going to all the missionary apartments and trying to clean up what they can and save journals and pictures for the missionaries who had to leave everything behind! They still don't have water or electricity, but they are sure troopers!"

My cousin has been a trauma nurse and then PA for years and now I guess is working for FEMA. We got these updates today from her.

My cousin shared this with the family as his sister was being sent to Puerto Rico, "My sis, as she is leaving an Atlanta hotel for the flight line to board a plane to Puerto Rico. Her DMAT - Disaster Medical Assistant Team is being deployed by FEMA for 2-3 weeks to provide medical care in Puerto Rico. She might be sent up into the hills but is not sure. Good luck and say hi to cousin Missionaries (My brother and his wife) if you bump into them."

Here is her latest email to the family - "Hello all, pouring rain here in Puerto RICO. Saw Elder and Sister (My brothers name here) yesterday. They came to go to lunch with me here at the MASH tent outside of the Trauma Hospital in San Juan! They even brought us m&m's. What bliss. The whole team has enjoyed the comfort treats. Yesterday had a shooting car with 5 victims come roaring up to entrance doors. 2 died I am hearing. Today happened again, but another car following, shooting trying to finish the job. We have big heavily armed scary dudes protecting us. I am trying to send pics but, that might have to wait. I am having a hard time sending texts. I can receive fine, but can't send. Today, it's still pouring rain and now having flash floods around. We sleep in a large tent, but now flooded as well. Still trying to secure shower facilities. All is well here! Lots more of need, these poor folks will be a long time rebuilding! 
Love you all," 
This was an update earlier as we wrote asking if we could help in any way - "Roads are doing better, but some still non passable. No stop lights functioning anywhere. Electricity mostly in San Juan with some other bigger cities. But, even then not consistent or reliable. Water is contaminated. Flooding and slides happening today due to 24 hours of torrential rain. It's really hard to send anything right now in that there is no postal functioning. Really, rare to have any infrastructure functioning. I would say to contribute money to the church's humanitarian fund. The church is sending a tremendous amount of help being coordinated through (My brother and his wife).

This is a huge lesson to all of our family on why we are counseled to have at least 3 or more months stored of water, food, and heating. There are so many people just sitting in their destroyed homes complaining that the government has not done anything to help them. All they have to do was get up and walk to the distribution place, but they want the government to bring to their home. So sad the entitled mentality we are running into. Of course, just like in the states, it's not everyone, but that's all the stupid news chooses to report. Thanks for your prayers and support! Please spread the word to make sure your family is prepared!!!"

I thought I would share these updates as any of us could have a natural disaster of any kind at any time. With all the earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, etc we would be wise to have food and water storage / water filters on hand just in case! 

Hearing all this makes me count my blessings! Have a BLESSED Day! 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Persimmon on Her Mission - Update in Japan

Good Evening from さむいsamui(cold) すえひろSUEHIRO!!! IT IS SO COLD HERE! And I've already managed to lose 2 pairs of gloves already! But enough about that, you beautiful people you! Lets get to the good stuff! 

First. Fun food experiences.
We were fed by a nice old lady. The lesson was really deep and intense before... to be honest I don't really know what happened, but she fed us afterwards.... I found two hairs in my food... But luckily I have the gift of tongues to not only help me speak Japanese, but to also eat things I don't always want to eat! It really is a gift! 

The second fun food story... We were invited to a lamb party.. By the way, super yummy. So the food wasn't bad, but this man lives about 30-40 minutes away by bus, and he isn't even an investigator yet! He just comes to church. But the evening included him spontaneously singing, holding my hand after a hand shake very firmly for a long time and whispering I love you in English right before leaving, and him playing his nose whistle for us. Is missionary work fun, OR WHAT?!?!?!

But some miracles of the week!
We have a girl, with a baptismal date, but she is a little nervous to talk to her mom. She is only 12, but today she said that she wants to be baptized! So that was a tender moment! 

The elders find us SO many referrals. I appreciate them very much! Also new Elder, speaks better Japanese than me, so that is always a good time!! Ha

I was able to teach the Ukulele to a less active mom this week, so that was tons of fun. I can't teach well in English, so teaching in Japanese was a good time!! 
We have been teaching about the Plan of Salvation a lot recently. That plan really is perfect!

Funny Story of the week! 
So we went with a member to visit some less actives. While talking they said something like,"You should go to the giant mall, and dendo!!!" "Yeah that's a great idea!" And then they kept talking.... and then the same member ended up driving us to the mall... Kind of against our will.... but it was just so funny! We weren't sure on the rules of proselyting in a mall but we got it sorted out! The member decided to buy us gyoza. So nice!! We managed to talk to about 10 young girls in two different groups, who really liked me being white. We invited them all to Eikaiwa. There was a group of boys staring at us from a distance, and they walked closer. The girls we were talking to told them to talk to us, but they walked away really fast to sit at a table to stare at us... It was all good fun! after that fun experience, we go out to the car, and her car has died... She thought it was just her key, but after calling a member, and a jumpstart that failed, we got a ride back home from the member...... It was quite the experience. Never a dull day of dendo here in Japan! 

I also found out I REALLY like kaki.... Aka Japanese Persimmons. SOOOO GOOOOOOD! Just FYI. 

Pictures. Sorry. I've gotten not so good at taking them recently! 

Shimai. The one who's car died. We are now best friends! 
We had district lunch, and zone activity. Say hello to the Suehiro district. A recent convert asked me to fill this out. She is 8. The question is "what do I want the boy I like to call me?" I tried to just write my name, But I spelled it the Japanese way, Yeah. That was a good time! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fun Cousin Reunion - Love These Women!

I was so grateful that I was feeling up to traveling today. I have been under the weather for several days and am not feeling well at the moment but went to bed super early last night as was able to get some decent sleep and actually had some dreams which doesn't always happen so I know I got deep sleep and awoke feeling better than I have in a few days. 

I traveled several hours and enjoyed getting to see my mothers brother and sister as my aunt and her husband have been serving as missionaries in London for the past 18 months and we were able to visit with them and some of their 10 children today which was WONDERFUL! 

I was SUPER happy to see these wonderful women there today. They are cousins from my mothers sister that passed away a few years back. Here is a post where I am at the hospital giving her a pedicure just before she passed away. 

I think the last time I saw all four of these women in the same place was my aunts funeral in 2013. Here is a link to my aunts funeral post.

I was so excited that all of these sisters were there today at the homecoming for my aunt. I used to babysit them for several weeks a year as their parents would travel or work on something. They were the cutest kids and we enjoyed playing games, especially hide and seek etc. I learned many useful things from my aunt while working for her and she was sweet to notice we needed money to purchase clothes in Jr. and high school and would pay us for babysitting so we could earn that money. I had to purchase my own clothes since I was about ten years old by babysitting and doing chores. 

Many of my clothes were used or hand me downs from my older sister or friends of the family so it was always great when I could "lay away" some new clothes and purchase them with my babysitting funds. 

When talking to my cousins today, I was touched once again by the fact that we all have trials. Each one of these women has had many issues in their life. They have lost two brothers and a sister before they lost their mother several years ago and they have had some similar issues as my girls dealing with estranged family members so I was so happy to see them all there smiling their way through their life trials. 

I had to get gas before heading home and when I pulled into the station, I am not sure why I went way to one side when there were many pumps open and I waited in my car for the person in front of me to pull out for at least a full minute as they had finished pumping but they didn't pull out so I got out and started filling up on the back pump. When I finished, I just smiled as I looked down and saw I filled up at pump 11 and filled up with 11.118 gallons of gas. So, there were 111111 ones in a row at the bottom of the receipt and 111 at the top of the receipt. I wasn't feeling that great as the long day took its toll on my not so well feelings from the week but that lifted my spirit a bit.

On my long drive home, I was able to think about each woman and how amazing they turned out even with all their trials.

They have been doing lots of construction on the highway and I was taking an exit in the middle of construction and the signs weren't very clean and I drove off the pavement dropped the car about 10 inches into the construction area and KNOW that angels were watching over me as the dirt gravel area had large mounds of dirt and I slid this way and that and was able to avoid hitting the huge mounds and ended up skidding to a stop sideways in the construction zone!

Thank heavens that there were no cars behind me following me. I am also grateful that I didn't hit the piles of dirt and fly off over the edge as I don't know that anyone would have found me over the edge as the main amount of traffic was on the opposite side of the highway and I wasn't near the exit as I went off before it as it wasn't marked well. 

I have lots to be grateful for today! I feel so blessed! I hope you have a Blessed day as well!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Best Way To Send Packages Out of Country - Overseas - To Missionary

As many of you know, Princess Four is serving as a Missionary in Japan! She has been out for coming up on a year in the next few weeks. 

With the holidays coming, I want to send her a package. When we got her packet before she left, it made all sorts of comments about NOT sending packages and how it cost more for them to get them out of customs than it was to purchase new stuff in the country etc. 

I called one of the moms who had her daughter in the same place and she said she had no problem sending packages so I went ahead and sent her a Bluetooth keyboard for her ipad. She got it no problem. 

A month or two back, she wanted some sunflower seeds and some hot Cheetos along with some other items, so I sent those and she got the package within two weeks or so. I got a video of her opening the package and was happy with how quickly she received the package.

I started gathering items I wanted to send a few months back trying to get things from each holiday. I went to the dollar store and purchased some Halloween items and then gathered the ones I had already purchased to send. 

It made me laugh that most of the items were made in China, Japan, and Taiwan for the dollar store but we are the only country that celebrates Halloween and they are making all our decorations. It just seemed funny that they can't buy them in Asia even though they are made there and then I am sending them back at $70 a box. 

I bought lots of "eye" items they would be able to wear as a "costume" to share our holiday there. However, I wanted to share how I save funds doing this and some other tips we have learned over the years. 

Don't send prescription items to Asia. There was one missionary mom who thought she would be smart and sewed them into a stuffed animal and the son was arrested for drug smuggling. They can't get even over the counter medications there without a prescription so DON'T sent them. 

If you are sending something expensive like shoes, send two packages a few days or a week apart and put one shoe in each package. My brothers never got things we sent until we split them up. If you want to give them a gift but they will have to send it home, don't send the gift. Send a picture of the gift! I sent her about five pictures of items I purchased for her for Christmas so she can have the excitement of opening a gift, the excitement of the gift but will have to wait until getting home to touch the gift. 

Send things they can leave behind. I sent things that she can "gift" to others or leave for another missionary. Most of the Christmas decorations, I look for at second hand stores or clearance after Christmas sales and purchase ahead of time knowing that the holiday will be coming or they will be on their mission for two Christmases, I bought stuff after the holiday last Christmas for this holiday. Tiny ornaments for the little tree. Funny hats for them to wear. Small games they can play with teens and kids, balloon animals, or origami paper and books etc. 

If you send it early enough, you can send it by sea but it isn't that much cheaper anymore so I just do airmail knowing that it will be anywhere from $40 to $80 depending on weight as the flat rate packages have gone up and down on weight and cost over the past few years. Also, if they go by sea, customs may be more of an issue. 

Send it early. Don't send liquids. Don't send any medications. Don't send anything of value or that is unreplaceable. Open the bags of treats and get the air out of them to make them smaller. Put any chocolate or things that may get smashed or broken that are edible into zip baggies in case it melts or the hard candy gets smashed and you have sticky messes in the humidity. I put all candy or food in zip bags. 

Roll any clothes into small rolls as they won't wrinkle and take up less space. Squeeze any airy items out and put in a zip bag to take up less space. 

Before closing your box, write down everything on a scrap paper as you pack the box so when you fill out the customs form, you can easily recall what is in the box as that can cause problems if you don't mention an item they see on x-rays like the prescription bottles in the stuffed animals I mentioned earlier. 

Don't send plastic / toy guns to any country. We had friends that were arrested while missionaries due to the family sending air soft / water guns to their missionary in Europe and someone thought they were real and that the missionaries were spies. So, never send things that could look like weapons. 

Feel free to ask any questions. We sent Halloween costumes, candy and decorations. We sent Thanksgiving decorations and I had all the girls and myself write "What we give thanks for about Princess Four" letters for her to open on Thanksgiving. We sent Christmas decorations for her to put up on Thanksgiving and then I sent a package to open on Christmas Eve and then a stocking and gifts for Christmas day. If they have a companion that is not American, it may be nice to send gifts for the companion as well as I did with the Halloween stuff as I know her companion won't be getting a package for the American holidays. 

Like I shared, I sent pictures of anything that was expensive and the rest was stuff that we could handle loosing if it was stolen, damaged, or lost in the mail. 

I hope you have a BLESSED Day!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ARRRRG - Internet Frustrations Will Hopefully Be Over Soon

I have been trying to upload this few minute video for well over an hour and it wasn't even starting for at least 1/2 hour. 

I have had to turn off my WiFi ten times and back on and it got stuck at 33% and hasn't moved for forty minutes. I had to re-upload my pictures about five or six times for the same photo as the "internet connection was lost" and they wouldn't upload. I wanted to go to bed hours ago so I am going to just post this. 

I called and switched internet carriers over a week ago but they couldn't get into a neighbors back yard to hook me up so they said they would get back with me the next day after contacting the neighbor and would probably be here to hook it up this week! 

It has been a week and a half and I haven't heard back from them at all in any way! It is hard living in a small town. If their customer service is anything like their service, I may be in trouble! 

Let's hope they are just having a bad week like my internet is having! I really am hoping to have better service soon. I talked to four different neighbors and two said they have the new internet provider and have great service. One said she has them and can't get the wifi to work in the basement but the installer said you can plug in "boosters" so I let them know that. The other neighbor said she has my current provider but it is hooked up on a different street and it works great. 

I am HOPING to have new service by next week! Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

One Plus One Equals Three - Happy Grandma

Princess One made the GREATEST announcement recently. Totally LOVE that she is expecting! Would you imagine the creative process needed to come up with these cute shirts! 

This is how she announced to her friends she was expecting. They are wearing these as their Halloween costumes this year! I thought it was really cute and fun! 

This is really how I learned she was expecting! She sent and email to Princess Four who is currently serving as a missionary in Japan. She had Princess Four make a video telling the rest of the family that she was expecting. 

I was slow on viewing the video due to being busy cleaning  out a kitchen cupboard at the time it was sent. Princess Five saw the video and then took a hidden video of me watching the video. I don't look all that fabulous but my reaction is fun. I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I did! 

Since she was taking the video on stealth mode, the video was sideways so I video taped my computer screen sideways so that the video was upright, thus the little view bar going up the right of the video but it allowed me to delete names so it worked. 

This is one EXCITED Grandma!!!! Have a Blessed Day! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Following Her HEART - Lead in her First College Play - Princess Five

Princess Five started college this past semester and as all freshmen, there is a bit of apprehension involved in getting involved in clubs, groups, etc. A perfect example of that is the movie "Pitch Perfect." 

She LOVES to perform so I encouraged her to try out for the first play of the season. She went back and forth about trying out for the play but I always say "You know you won't make it if you don't try it out." 

She tried out and was really happy to be called back. There were 30 girls who tried out for the play and she was one of 8 that made it to callbacks. She was SO happy to call me and tell me she made it as one of the three girls in the play. 

There was only a month to practice and learn lines before the did the play. It is such a stressful time the first semester as you are getting used to the way college runs. The teachers are all so unique and have different expectations.

She started working for the first time in her life, she got the lead and I was impressed that she could get it all done without feeling overloaded. She had to meet new roommates and getting used to sharing a room with a stranger, sharing an apartment with 7 other girls and being on her own for cooking, cleaning, and doing her own shopping and laundry etc. 

I wanted to get her something more than flowers for the play and pondered on what to do.

I found this really cute locket type necklace in real silver with a real silver chain and thought that she could put a small memento from this and other plays into the heart locket to remember to "follow her heart" and to do things that make her have "Joy" so imagine my joy when I found a card that said, "Follow your heart" on the front and "Do things that make you have joy" on the inside! It was perfect to go along with the silver locket. I also got her some yummy Dove treats which I am sure she enjoyed! 

Princess Three and Two came down to see the play and spend the weekend. It was wonderful that they were able to get the time off to be able to support her. I know it meant a lot to her as she mentioned that one of the other girls had 9 siblings and they all came to watch her. 

There was no photography or video taping allowed so I snapped a picture of the set before it started but was sad that I wasn't able to get a video of her cute costume and acting on stage. 

It wasn't a musical and it wasn't a play I have ever heard of, but it was a comedy and she had some really cute lines which made us laugh. The best part for me was that she had this really cute English accent. She carried it off super well and it didn't drop as the play went on as some of the other actors did. 

When it was over, they allowed them into the hall to visit with people and she was so cute being adored by many. It really wasn't a play for kids but there were two little girls that asked if they could get a picture with her and I asked the mother if I could post a picture on my blog and she agreed so that was fun. 

She said that another day, a little girl asked for her autograph. A few days after the play was over, there were a few college students that acted like she was super famous when they saw her and asked if she was in the play. They asked if they could take pictures with her and told her they loved her in the play and were hoping to get to meet her. 

On the first night, she had a few people tell her that she was their favorite actor in the play and really thought she did a great job. 

There was a post on one of the "crush" boards saying that "Ida" had such a cute accent and he wished he could meet her in real life and go on a "semi" blind date with her and if anyone knew who played her in the play, if they could hook him up! 

She thought that was flattering and even with just that little bit of attention, I can't imagine what is would be like being really famous where you can't go anywhere without people treating you that way. 

She chose not to try out for the next play as she didn't want to get stressed out as she is struggling with one of her classes and is trying hard in that class and also is still working but wanted to try out for a musical they are doing before Christmas so I was proud of her decision to skip the next play and focus on what she really wants. 

Tryouts for the Christmas Musical parts are this week so we are hopeful she will get a part in that and then next semester, they are doing, "Into the Woods" so we are hopeful she can participate in that as she already has a great "Cinderella" costume from musical theater a few years back. Here is a link to that post. She also knows the main song and blocking so it would be a breeze for her if she can get the part. Keep your fingers crossed! 

Have a Blessed Day!