Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vist Hongs in Seattle - Danny's Baptism

Tuesday means District Training meeting most weeks.  So we got our little district of 6 people together and had some good training.  These young elders are amazing.  They teach as if they have been Sunday School teachers for years.  We will be gone on the next transfer day since our trip to Seattle overlaps next Tuesday.  So we said goodbye to these good young men just in case they get transferred.  We will especially miss our District Leader, Elder Holloway.  We have really enjoyed getting to know him, a kind, smart, and dedicated young man. (Editorial note: Elder Holloway did not get transferred away but rather was made a Zone Leader here).  We also had our The Basic School family home evening tonight.  We are covering several of our favorite talks from conference as our lesson material.  We had a good lesson on Elder Klebingat’s talk about being spiritually ready.  We only had two attendees, our marine wife and her friend. But it was a good discussion and we greatly enjoyed being with them.
Since the Director of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society is out on vacation, she asked us to work a long shift today.  We have been volunteering for over a year now, and we actually are some of the more senior volunteers at this point.  We both have check signing authority, and the other volunteers working today did not.  So we were at the NMCRS office from 9am – 3pm.  It was a bit slow, but we did help out a few marines with some minor loans.  After dinner on the base and a little shopping at the Exchange we attended our Officer Candidate School family home evening.  It was lucky we made a lot of refreshments because we had 39 attendees.  Wow!  That is a new record for us.  I tried to capture the size of the group with a few pictures.  Lezlie gave her PowerPoint presentation on finding inspiration and spiritual insight in nature.  It is a great presentation and the lesson went exceptionally well, with lots of good discussion and interaction.  When the refreshment bar opened it was like a shark feeding frenzy.  There were not even any crumbs left from about 90 brownies, 8 dozen cookies, and $20 worth of fruit.  But it was a joy to see.  I had a heart-to-heart discussion with one young lady that is having doubts about whether she wants to become a Marine officer.  We have had a lot of OCS candidates go through those self-doubts so I was able to give her some objective input.  I told her that many candidates go through this because it is so hard, but that she should not take anything the drill sergeants say to her personally.  They are just doing their job when they yell at her.  It was a long but good day.  We are doing last minute travel preps.  We have to leave the apartment at 5:45am tomorrow morning. 

We have returned from our fabulous trip to Seattle to attend the baptism of our grandson Danny Hong, son of Carrie and Matt.  We were gone Oct 16 – 21, and we had a wonderful, wonderful time!  (Thanks Carrie and Matt).  It would be impossible to describe every enjoyable moment we had, so this will just cover the highlights.   After an early but uneventful flight to Seattle we were picked up by Carrie and my dog Joy.  It was so nice to see them both.  We got to go directly to the school and pick up Kaylee from kindergarten.  Shortly after that Abby woke up from a nap, and a few minutes later Danny got home from school.  We quickly got reacquainted and got to see Danny and Kaylee’s new room and new things.  Since we have been gone so long we thought the grandkids might be a little shy or something, but not at all.  They gave us huge hugs and immediately wanted to tell us things and play.  Although Abby definitely thinks Carrie is her best friend, she was very friendly to us, and her smiles and pleasant disposition gave us many happy moments.  Matt’s mom, LaRue, was also there for Danny’s baptism so we got to visit with her as well.  We had a great time visiting and playing.  Friday was a school day. Dan walked Danny and Kaylee to the bus stop. It is hard to believe that they are both getting so old!  It was also the day of Danny’s Harry Potter birthday party.  So after getting the kids off to school we spent a lot of time preparing for the well planned party. Danny was student of the week, because it is his birthday week, and he got to bring something in every day to tell about. He asked if we would be his show and tell Friday, so we went in and Carrie gave out cookies and we answered questions from  the second grade class. Danny put the airplane drawings we had done the night before on the overhead. Then we went home and the party started 30 minutes later.  Here are shots of the Honeyduke Store and the wands  (Carrie made cool wands with small dowels, hot glue, and some paint). 
After all the potential wizards and witches arrived we used the Sorting Hat to tell them if they had the correct wand.  I got to be the voice via a cell phone, which was great fun.  They found magical creatures (stuffed animals) in the yard and held a Quidditch practice, including finding Snitches in the yard.  Finally it was time for potions class, and Lezlie was the teacher.  She looked great in her witches outfit and taught a great class.  With some dry ice (angry glacier chips), pop rocks (mini moonstones), vinegar (horsesweat) and baking soda (powdered unicorn horn) and a variety of other ingredients, they brewed potions for Happiness, Good Luck, and Sleeping Well.  They finally chowed down on a Great Hall meal fit for Hogwarts students.  It was all so much fun and Danny had a blast.  Below are some pictures of Lezlie and the Potions Class students, as well as the spectacular Hogswarts birthday cake LaRue made.   

 Saturday began with some wet soccer matches.  Danny and Kaylee both had games in the rain on muddy fields.  Danny’s game was quite enjoyable and he played well.  His team won 4 -0, and the kids were old enough to play some good soccer.  Danny made one particularly spectacular pass to a teammate right in front of the goal.  But alas, his teammate did not make the dramatic shot.  Kaylee’s group had great fun, but it was more of a chase the ball type game.  She enjoyed it and so did we.  But I think she had almost as much fun playing in the mud as playing soccer.  After a quick cleanup and lunch it was time for the baptism.  All of us family members were choked up over how many people showed up.  It was overwhelming to see the support Danny and the Hong family received from so many different friends.  One touching attendee was Danny’s soccer coach, who is not a member of the Church.  But he was there with his son, who is also on Danny’s team, full of good words and smiles for Danny.  It was very nice.  Of course we are not unbiased, but we thought it was an exceptionally good baptism service.  Everything went so well, and there were definitely strong feeling of the Spirit.  Danny was grinning the whole time.   Another highlight was Kaylee and Carrie singing I Am a Child of God.   At home they practiced and Kaylee danced while she sang, calling it her baptism dance.  Mom said she could not dance at the real baptism and asked if she was sure she still wanted to sing.  Kaylee said yes.  And it was just beautiful.  It was mostly Kaylee singing with her mom singing along to help her remember the words.  It was another very touching moment.  Both the Primary President and the Bishop said some encouraging and inspiring words congratulating Danny for his decision to be baptized.  After the baptism all of the family went to Pizza Hut for a feast, and Danny got to open his family birthday gifts.  It was great, great fun!  Here are some pictures of the whole afternoon. Kaylee is wearing a dress Matt brought her back from India. Abby is wearing one of her many cute hair flowers, so people know she is a girl.

Sunday was Stake Conference for Carrie and Matt’s stake so we all attended that together in the morning.  It was an excellent meeting with several inspiring and uplifting talks.  We enjoyed helping keeping the kids entertained, especially Abby.  We had a pleasant walk around the temple while we waited for some of the traffic to clear out.  We got some nice pictures on the temple grounds

In the afternoon it was a glorious, sunny Pacific Northwest day.  Nothing is more beautiful than a sunny day in Seattle.  It was just the right temperature for an outdoor activity, so we went to Snoqualmie Falls and took a nice walk.  The falls and the river were beautiful, and we had an excellent time.  It was one of those days when Washington is at its best, with spectacular mountains views, a crystal clear river, and blankets of evergreen trees dotted with fall colors as far as you can see.  After a scrumptious roast beef dinner we had a quiet evening at home visiting and playing with the grandkids. 
Monday was a school day again, so we saw the kids off to the bus.  We did some packing, catching up and cleaning up as the evidence from Danny’s party was still in plain sight.  We had to close down Honeyduke’s candy store because all of us were snacking on the sweets a little too much.  Lezlie and I each got some individual time with each grandchild since Kaylee got home at noon and Danny did not get home until 4pm.  Building Lego kits, designing and making horses, and playing games with Danny and Kaylee was super fun.  Danny enjoyed trying out his new bow and arrow as well as his new chess set. Kaylee loved doing anything with art. It was so delightful to spend time with them and just listen to them talk about their day at school.  I am sure that this will make us miss them all the more for the last 4 months of our mission, but it was worth it.  Monday evening we had a nice dinner out at Panda Express and enjoyed some good Asian food.  Then we had a fun family home evening about Family Communication, topped off with eating the remainder of Danny’s birthday cake.  All too soon we had to get to bed because of our early morning flight.  We were out to door at 5:15am to catch begin our long but smooth trip home.  So we are back in Woodbridge, Virginia ready to get back to our mission responsibilities, refreshed and inspired by our outstanding trip to visit Carrie, Matt, Danny and Kaylee in Seattle.  Seeing the blessings this dear family enjoys was a very personal reminder of why we are out here in the first place. The Gospel works…

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