Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Angela's Dad Passing Away

Angela and her Dad on his 90th birthday
Early our Monday morning (Sunday morning in Texas), we heard that Angela's Dad had passed away. He was 94 years old.  The possibility of this happening while we were gone was one of our concerns preparing for another mission.  We decided that given the distance, that we would not come back home.  And while this sounded good in theory, it was really hard for us (especially Angela), to not want to jump on a plane and go home.  As Angela said to me, "it's a good thing the mission president has our passports, or I'd be on a plane today."  Fortunately for technology, we were able to reach all our sons and let them know about his passing.  Some of them had already heard.  All of them are trying to be there to represent our family and participate in the funeral service.  Despite his often cantankerous spirit, we loved Grandpa Hare and will miss him.  We truly believe he is in a better place, and has been able to leave the frailities of this mortal life behind.

Back On Line

Whew! This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, both related to our assignment as education specialist and in getting set up in our new home for the next 12 months.  As they say, we have been drinking from the proverbial "fire hydrant"  We are doing well, just trying to catch our breath.

I always try to find the humorous in life (sometimes it only humorous to me).  On our short 36 hour flight over, I was amused to see they served us "Hokey Pokey" ice cream.  It brought back fond memories of teaching the youth in India the Hokey Pokey dance, and then waking up the next day with a sore back.

I was also amused when we got off the plane to Auckland, New Zealand to see painted on our plane the dragon, Smaugg, from the Hobbit movie.  That might explain some of our turbulence getting here.

Within a day, we had a two bedroom town home, a new car, a phone and beautiful surroundings. One of our kids asked, "Are you really on a mission". Not one to complain, while a few things are nice, between driving on the left side of the road and being almost 6000 miles from family, we definitely are on a mission.
Angela in front of our home and new car (Hyundai Tucson).
Solar water heater - hot when it's sunny, luke warm when it's
raining and this is the rainy season

Our living room, dining room, and study. Our 1950's kitchen
with salmon colored cabinets is off to the side, 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We're Off

Today we leave for Apia Samoa at 3:15 p.m.  We fly from Dallas to Los Angeles, then to Auckland, New Zealand and then finally to Apia. We should arrive after 3 flights and two long layovers in 36 hours on Wednesday evening Samoa time (Western Samoa is 20 hours ahead of Dallas/Houston).

Last night we met at Eric's house with his family and Bryan's for dinner and to be set apart as full-time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Being set apart involves having our Stake President, David Larsen, lay his hands on our heads (first Angela and then me) and call us as missionaries, and give us each a specific blessing of guidance/direction, support and comfort. Afterwards we spent some time talking about why we were serving another mission and express our love to our kids and grandkids.  And they in turn got to express their feelings to us.  Tears all around, but it was a great experience, only surpassed by having Tyler, Julie, Zachary, Brandon and Jared and Jen here.  We are grateful for all of our boys, their wives and our grandchildren and the support and love they have given us this past year as we have prepared to go.  We love them all and will miss them greatly!

Our Setting Apart by President David Larsen (far left)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

We're Almost Gone

Today is our last day in the home we are renting.  We leave for Samoa on Monday.  It's been 9 months since we made our decision to serve another mission.  We haven't needed all that time to prepare, but I thought I would provide some advice to those senior couples that are thinking about serving a mission

  • Start downsizing now - It's amazing how much "stuff" you acquire over the years.  I don't consider us to be pack rats.  We have moved 8 times since graduated from BYU and have tried to get rid of "non-essential" stuff each time (Angela and I have different definitions of that term).  With this move we gave away three beds, a couch, 2 overstuffed chairs, all our area rugs, an exercise bike, a treadmill, a large TV, and then made 8 trips to Goodwill with our SUV stuffed.  Even at that we needed to rent a 10x30 storage unit that is stacked to the top of it's 9 foot ceilings with our essentials.  
  • Think about what you're going to do with your cars.  We traded in Angela's SUV to the dealer, but since we weren't buying another car, we didn't get a great deal.  But keeping them means keeping them insured, registered, inspected and driven occasionally.  It's been good to keep my older 4-Runner to finish our last minute running around.
  • Start early on your physicals/dental - We are in relatively good health, but it was amazing how an out of range blood or urine test led to ultrasounds, MRI, cat scans, to confirm that "people of a certain age" like we are fit for duty.  If you're going overseas, make sure your teeth will last until you get back.
  • Getting untangled from life in the US is like the tar baby in Aesop's fable.  If you are selling your house, address and contact info needs to be changed for health plans, life/car insurance, pensions/401K, etc.  Utilities, phones, cable, etc need to be cancelled or disconnected.  If you have ever tried to cancel something you know how difficult it can be.  You wait on hold for extended periods of time, only to get an agent who must surely be paid to convince you not to cancel and to aggravate the heck out of you.
  • Spending time with family/friends before you go.  This is the best and hardest part of leaving. Taking time to travel to see siblings, parents and children/grandchildren and others in your life under the guise that this is the "last time" you'll see each other is both joyful and tearful.  But before you know it, you're back (hard to believe but we left for our first mission to India 2 years and 8 months ago).
  • The final angst, is trying to fit all you're going to need in your remote/3rd world home into 2 suitcases a piece (Valium anyone?).  It really helps you consider what you can and can't live without.
I hope I haven't discourage anyone from considering a mission.  In the end, preparing is a lot about "stuff" and is far outweighed by the great experiences you will have, the fabulous people you will meet, the new friendships you will make and the life altering way you will come home with a new perspective of what's really important in life.  We are excited to serve the Lord's people in Samoa. We hope we can help you feel what's it like through this blog. Talofa.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tender Mercies

Back yard of the home we have been renting
All of us receive blessings in our lives that make them better and help us overcome difficulties.  The Lord refers to these as tender mercies.  One such tender mercy relates to us finding a place to live temporarily before leaving for this mission.  We have lived in Houston since coming back from Nigeria in 2007.  It has been great to be able to spend time with our two grandsons, Zach and Brandon who live by us, we haven't had as much opportunity to do the same with our other 9 grand children in Sunnyvale (near Dallas).  We planned to spend Sept-Dec living closer to them so we could be involved in school and holiday events. Our son, Eric offered to let us stay in  their cabin near Athens, but it is 80 miles from Sunnyvale, which would not allow us to be around during the week and would involve a lot of driving each weekend (as well as living out of suitcase a lot).  We looked for homes to rent in the Sunnyvale area.  There wasn't much to choose from and most were unfurnished and required a year lease.  What to do?  Then a week before we moved from Houston, unexpectedly the home of a church couple (who are serving a mission until July 2015) became available, and we were asked if we were interested.  What an great blessing it has been.  The house was furnished and we have been able to rent for as long as we've needed without a contract.  It has allowed us to spend a lot of time with family here in Sunnyvale that we wouldn't have been able to have otherwise.

The world would call this a coincidence, but I believe there are no coincidences...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Are We Going on Another Church Mission

Several people, including our family, have asked us why we are going on another Church mission so soon after coming back from an 18 month mission to India.  The simple answer is as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are taught that being of service to others is one of the the fundamental prinicples Christ taught when he was upon the earth.  When we got back from India, we felt a need to be more fully involved in serving others and what better way than by being set apart to serve where we believe the Lord has called us (in this case, Western Samoa).

Senior couples that are assigned overseas generally serve for 18-23 months.   We decided that 12 months would be right for us at this point in our lives as we balance the desire to serve where we are needed with the desire to be involved in the lives of our grand kids as they grow up.  We hope they see that we love them even as we leave for a "short time" to serve.

Our Family - Our 4 boys, their wives and grandkids