Monday, September 4, 2017

Beginning our mission.

2 October 2017 

We leave for the Provo MTC today. After one week we will leave for Accra Ghana on 9 October 2017. The following is a brief biography of Sister Russell and I as we have prepared for the Ghana Accra West Mission:

Elder Blaine R Russell and Sister Dawn E Russell are on our way back to Africa for a second time. Our first mission was to the Maputo Mozambique Mission in 2019 to 2011 for 23 months. We served under Pres. Loren Spendlove dividing our time between Beira, Mozambique to the north and Maputo to the south.

Since we have returned we have served in the Nauvoo Temple Mission from 2015 to 2016 for one year. 

Fortunately, we are able to continue to serve on another further full time mission. We will leave from the Idaho Falls 24th ward in the Idaho Falls Idaho stake. Since we have sold our home and moved our belongings into a condominium accommodating for extended leave. 

Sister Russell and I are packing our essentials for travel to Africa. We are so grateful to be joining President and Sister Simpson within the month.

Friday, April 14, 2017

03 March 2017

March – Home again!
Each time we have returned home from our wanderings, it takes an effort to remember our ward family again.  Yet, our old brains are warming up and we have met with success. 
        Dedication is given again to continue our classes at the Family History Center with Dorothy and Dennis Croft teaching us.  And yet, it seems that Dawn is “forever learning and never coming to an understanding,” because of her need to first take care of the years of pictures she has collected.  Her goal is to organize them in binders for her children and return others to the givers. Blaine works steadfastly at F.H. and applies what he has learned.
        Blaine has digitized the 1,200 slides with the help of a gadget that converts them to digital images.  He then put many of the pictures of his family on a CD and gave one to each of his children.  He also prepared pictures for Julia and Woody, giving them each a CD as well.  Blaine was slowed down only a little by a nasty, combative cold which Dawn was happy to repel.
        Dawn also spent many happy hours of scanning all of the family pictures from her ancient Treasures of Truth book with the hope of eventually converting these to the Family Search Gallery.  Vickie Hurley, a Nauvoo missionary, has convinced her that she should also scan all of her children’s childhood pictures as well, and putting them on a CD.  We enjoyed a meal with Neil and Vickie, a fun loving couple, who live in Rigby, only 20 minutes away.
        Perhaps the most exciting part of this month has been preparing and enjoying the joys of a colonoscopy.  The best part was having a partner to share the experience with, having two bathrooms and knowing that it’s over for 10 years.
        When at Brady’s one day, Blaine admired the pool tables and expressed a yearning for one.  Dawn, who had received no small sum for the sale of her brother’s home, thought she could afford one.  The purchase was sweetened by getting a shuffle board and a ping pong table topper thrown in the deal.  But the best deal of all is that Woody, Val and Julia are avid pool players and now enjoy visiting.
        Dawn’s birthday unfolded by first going to a breakfast at Christine’s ward, hanging out with Blaine at home and attending “Extrava-dance” that evening put on by BYU-I dance teams.  Sarah drove us to the event, Christine paid and we all loved it! The birthday girl also loved the two cakes given her – a chocolate cheese cake via the Crofts and a tiramisu cake, the most delicious ever, that Julia baked at great expense in time and effort.  Rumor has it that Julia forgot Dawn’s birthday and, out of guilt, made her the best cake ever.  Even with two cakes, no weight was gained.  Amazing!
        Second only to the colonoscopy in excitement came the selling of our home.  The good news, James Elston, our realtor explained, was that the buyers didn’t ask for a price reduction, would pay in cash, and would close early – on April 10th.  It’s a good thing that the price was stable because we learned that we needed to put on a new roof which Blaine suspected in the first place.  Drat!  However, we are delighted that the house sold.
        Our VW was taken out of obscurity in the depths of the garage when we had a need to use it while our Honda CRV’s dent was being obliterated.  The VW is a heroic little car, starting the first time after two years in isolation.  It is also admired by many such that Blaine is reconsidering its sale. 
For Home Teaching, Blaine had the great idea of taking the Bailey family to the Idaho Museum and to Mickey D’s beforehand.  We wanted to include Mason Hollingshead and while texting Jenny, I invited the entire family who met us at the museum.  The display was fascinating and benefited Mason who was studying the Roman Empire in school.
        Because Dawn didn’t make any R.S. birthday reminder calls nor any R.S. conference reminder calls, she felt a need to do something for General Conference and so put together notebooks with the apostles picture tabs to write notes in for many of the sisters that she visit teaches and home teaches with Blaine.  After a few days effort, she and Blaine delivered all of the notebooks and candy that went with it.  She knows that it has been appreciated as expressed by Sisters Kingsford, Brandon and Hollingshead.
        Margaret Barfuss sent me an email announcement of her choir, the Chauntennettes, singing at a special fireside where Lloyd Newell, voice of the “Music and the Spoken Word,” is the guest speaker.  I initially didn’t consider going since I knew Blaine wouldn’t want to drive.  But then I thought, “I COULD drive!” That is, if Christine were to come with me.  She agreed and we picked up Angie Bytheway and met Geri Brinley there.  It was a sweet presentation and it was marvelous to meet with Margaret and Janean Godbold who also sang in the choir. Independent was how I felt!

        Blaine and I feel extremely blessed for our kind ward family, for our good health, for our sweet families, the sale of our home and for the possibility or our next mission. We are also extremely grateful for each other and for the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.


Our temple is under remodel

Tough Winter 2016-17

Still walking the Green Belt in the winter

Another dent!

Colonoscopy prep!!

There is hope for warmer weather with ice melt

Birds of the Green Belt

Warmer days ahead

VW is out of hibernation


Sold our home on 13th Avenue

Woops another day of snow!!

New pool table downstairs

WE are HAPPY!

Bikes down and ready to ride

Sister Bolkcom after a session at the Rexburg temple

Home teaching with our families at the Museum of Idaho Falls

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

02 February - 2017
        As you recall, the buzz words for January were COLD, SNOW AND ICE – three of Blaine’s least favorite words.  When Christine asked if we could come to California and help with an enormous task, we jumped at the chance to get away from the cold.!
Prior to our going to Proberta, we drove to Susanville with hopes of visiting Nancy.  We had a check for her for her portion of Brian’s home that sold and wanted to give it to her directly.  I decided to knock at Nancy’s door for a long time and it wielded results! Nancy, thinking I was Karen, finally opened the door.  While Nancy had changed a good deal physically, she was indeed Nancy with her gorgeous hair intact!  She initially was concerned for her animals that had escaped but once Blaine made efforts at retrieving them, she showed interest.  Blaine gave Nancy a warm touch to her face meeting for the first time, and we both expressed delight in seeing and talking to her.  She explained her health issues and their care and explained her pet concerns.  She was subtlety grateful for the check. She is clearly a very bright lady and we felt our visit a success, albeit her declining our offer to give a ride to the July reunion.
On to Proberta, CA to assist Christine in pricing the humongous amount of items that had belonged to Linda, David’s sister who had passed away. We worked steadily on this project for a solid week, even when Christine was away assisting Emily.  Sadly, the weather wasn’t ideal, both rainy and windy.  Towards the end of the week, we stayed the evenings with our good friends, Harry and Connie Hunziker.  We went out to dinner, played cards, and had the wonderful dessert of frozen fruit from the Yonana machine and went on the longest hike ever.  But in the day time, we were hard at work!  Blaine was delighted that our “pay” for this was in the form of a record player. We were glad to help Christine since she really needed extra hands. 
Our next stop was to visit our wonderful Lau family in Grass Valley. We had a terrifying drive to their home because of the driving rain.  Wayne thoughtfully prepared two different meals for us while Robyn was concerned that we watch disturbing Dateline shows.  Indy was delighted to miss school for a day.  We also exercised with Robyn by doing a zillion squats from a video as well as going to a circuit class the next day. The next few days were leg muscle hell.  Jackie Popov and Pat Skidmore were happy to see us but the pleasure was ours after completing Blaine’s business at the college offices.
We headed on to Cameron Park to see Ben and Sage.  While Ben was very thin, Sage was a cutie who definitely frightened us with her good/evil stuffed cat.  She was excited to show off her snake and her dogs and tell about the things in her room.  . 
Flooded fields and roads met us as we traveled along to Bakersfield before heading to Adam and Monica’s.  Fresh Tomatoes, hiking around Pinnacle Peak, Temple, Jump Street, Burton’s bragging rights, Moana are a few words that describe our activities.  It is a joy to watch the children grow and develop their personalities.  Burton is much more reserved than Roxy who has such a strong sense of self.  Burton loves boy things – especially sticks! Monica and Adam both have a strong sense of self as well. Adam is the nurturer in that family while Monica is a great nutritional cook.  Both work hard in their careers. Kids do grow up as evidenced by our going to Stake Conference and observed Burton and Roxy sitting quietly, enjoying coloring and snacks in a reverent way.
Our Bullhead City stay at the Sunset Suites apartment was filled with exercise and golf scrambles.  We were put in groups of five with people we didn’t know, initially taking us out of our comfort zone.  Yet most of our team members showed great tact at our inexperience and we enjoyed getting to know new people.   On the rainy day, no one did well. Val was on my team the last day.  Julia was everyone’s hero with her wit and sassy talk.  Our gang loved seeing “The Lion,” a movie with the importance of family as the main theme.  We cheered for Rachel Russell as she crossed the finish line of a ½ marathon at Lake Mead called “Saints and Sinners” on a very rainy day. Woody treated afterwards at a Brazilian Barbeque where we were stuffed but only half as stuffed as Rachel who really put it away.
While in Bullhead City, we followed the hullaballoo of the possibility of the Oroville Dam flooding which was on national news. 300,000 people below the dam had to evacuate their homes which included both Yuba City and Marysville.  We both wondered how many families had their 3 day emergency supply kits ready.  Our prophets and apostles give instructions for good reasons. 
 Before heading home, we returned to Glendale for a day of soccer practices, birthday party plans, and Roxy’s birthday party for her turning FOUR years old.
It was a joy being with Monica in her time of triumph. She worked steadily on the party details making the Princess Poppy Piñata, the Troll candy bags and the troll headband party favors weeks in advance, leaving food details for the day of.  After the soccer practices, with the two at varying levels of interest, we dashed to Walmart for the fruit bowls and veggie trays supplies.  Monica was a skillful kitchen wizard at this.  The party at the selected park was spectacular; again Monica at her best and Adam taking charge of the RV and piñata hanging. The moms put together the Troll headbands for their children who loved the party.  The highlight was the cupcakes with the troll hair on top.
The buzz word for this month was FAMILY:  seeing and meeting Nancy after 20 years, helping Christine with her family, being with Harry and Connie, staying with the Indy, Robyn and Wayne Lau, visiting with Ben, helping Adam and Monica with birthday party details as well as attending Burton and Roxy’s soccer games and hanging out with Julia, Woody and Val in Bullhead City.  That’s a lot of FAMILY!

Birthday party

 
Roxy turns 4 years old



Rachel finishes Lake Mead "Saints or Sinners" 1/2 marathon 

Oatman!

Jet boat to Havasu, AZ

England Bridge comes to Havasu

Burton and soccer



Grand Canyon bridge


Proberta estate sale

Our Roxy

Dawn ready for the golf scramble at Chaparral 

Davis Dam walk




Monday, April 3, 2017

January – 2017

        Our New Year’s was actually celebrated two days early by having a crab feed at Julia’s with Holly, Brock and Ella.  We went cross-country skiing that morning at Kelly’s Canyon where Brock took his first snowboard lesson, performing well.
        The buzz words for the month were COLD, SNOW, and ICE!!!
January was both a “Get Caught Up” month as well as a “Return to Routines” month.
By “Get Caught Up”, I mean going to both the dentist and the doctor, keeping hair appointments and just general maintenance.  Also in this category included giving talks at church, and working on unpacking boxes in the “spare bedroom.”  Our talk assignment was basically on generating worthy goals and the talks gave us an opportunity to be introduced to our new ward.  The members were very receptive and kind.  Boxes were stored in the potential spare bedroom and because Rob Lewis was coming out on January 14th to measure and assess the room, I had to have the boxes – mostly my stuff - emptied and put away.  I worked steadily on the project, completing on schedule.
The “Return to Routines” showed us getting back into exercise, church callings, temple attendance and family history.  The exercise routine was intense since we returned to the YMCA – delighted to see the Crofts there! - as well as walk the Greenbelt. Sometimes we would mix things up at bit by cross-country skiing at Tauphaus Park and a few times we did all three.  My fit-bit has kept me very motivated to get at least 10,000 daily steps.  It’s been fun to report to our son-in-law, Adam Mariner, when over 18,000 have been reached. Sometimes I worry that this is such a big emphasis in our lives, but when I realize that our health reflects what we can do in life, I feel justified.
Jim and Arlene Seger along with their son Kevin stayed with us for a few days, assisting Kevin in setting up his BYU-I apartment and attending the orientation meeting with Kevin.  We were glad for their visit and continued the Skip-Bo tradition!
Other routines include completing our Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching, an activity that provides structure and is dear to us. While Blaine is the 4th Sunday High Priest teacher, I hope to receive a calling soon.  We also attend the temple weekly, and one week took Sister Delma Bolkcom with us.  Family History is picking up again by our attending both Brother Dodds course as well as Dorothy’s course and doing the associated homework. We had the opportunity to prepare food for a couple of families, clean our building and work in the soup kitchen, activities we enjoy.  We also attended a ward dinner and a R.S. activity.
January 20th was the inauguration of our 45th president, Donald John Trump.  Many of us look forward to how he will manage his campaign promises with hopefulness.  Blaine and I love his different approach to politics and genuinely hope for his success.  His inauguration wasn’t a traditional one, but he basically challenged the outgoing president with the main concept that his leadership is all about the people and doing what the people would like him to do. 

We’ve appreciated being back home for a short while but will leave again in February.  

Roxy Christmas Morning

Burton in his Ninja Turtle costume 

Walking the Green (White) Belt

New Year's Feast

Holly and family visiting for New Years

Down stairs making changes in the condo.

Front of the condo

Looking forward to warmer days (-15 F)

Snake River froze over

Deep snow !

Giant ice sickles

Mariners in Idaho

California Dungenous Crab for dinner

Cross country skiing at night in the park

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1 January 2017

The month of January began very cold. Fortunately we had family to keep us warm!
Shoveling snow in January