Lil' Miss Daisy

This post is completely random and has nothing to do with our lives at present, but I'm being nostalgic at the moment and remembering back to my sweet friend Daisy.  So please bare with me for the next few minutes as I have a little mission moment:)

In October 2006, after serving for 6 months in Anaheim, CA, I was transferred to Santa Ana, CA.  It was heartbreaking for me to leave the ward I loved so much, but as all missionaries know, that time comes sooner or later.  Santa Ana is literally Little Mexico... the population is 98% Latino, and there are some areas that can be so dangerous that Sister missionaries don't serve there.  But our area was wonderful and we always had plenty of people to talk to on the streets.  One sunny day after I'd just moved there, my companion and I were street contacting and we ran into a beautiful woman who I would come to know as Hermana Flores.  She was the Relief Society President in our ward in Santa Ana, and she sweetly invited us over for lunch that very day.  We had an appointment soon after taking with her, but we stopped by a little later so that I could meet the family and we could have a late lunch.  While we were there, I not only had some of the best Mexican food EVER, but I met the 4 Flores kids.  The 2 oldest boys are 11 months apart ("what was I thinking?!" Hermana Flores always says), then Elizabeth, and then Daisy.  Well, this is where the story really begins.  Daisy and I became close friends during the 7 months I spent in Santa Ana.  We even had a little "handshake" so to speak, and whenever she saw me she'd run up to me, wrap her arms around my waist, shake my hand, and then we'd pound fists.  This was our "huuuuug, handshake, BONES!" ritual:)  Daisy was 7 when I served in that ward and she always talked about how excited she was to get baptized.  Unfortunately I was transferred before her baptism, but she has been the most excellent penpal!  She even writes me letters to this day, and to me, Daisy is the purest example of childlike innocence and love.  Here let me show you:  (this was a letter she wrote to me last month)

 "Dear Hermana Van, 
I miss u. The first day you came in our barillo (ward) I was scared of you because you were very tall and giant.  but as time past we became friends and I was not afraid of you. but now that I knew I thought If the blue sky is as beautiful as you and the birds sing as beautiful as your voice than that's the perfect person for me. and today that I saw the sun, sky, birds, and beautyness of the world it reminded me of you. I am always so cyriouse about what god created because it's so beautiful. and now that the bees are being ex tinked I grow a much bigger garden so they could come and live.  I love you!!! 
- Daisy"

Well, if that didn't completely melt your heart I don't know what would.  It's people like Daisy that make a person cherish their mission memories so much.  I met so many incredible people on my mission, and I rank the Flores family at the top of my list.  Daisy is now 9 years old and it's been over 2 years since I served in Santa Ana, but there's still a connection between my sweet little friend and I.  In her letters and phone calls, it's like I never left and we just pick up where we left off.  She's 16 years younger than me... she's still in Primary!... but our spirits touched and that's all we needed to start what I hope to be a lifelong friendship.  Oh how I love my sweet little Daisy girl:) 

Me and the Familia Flores on my last Sunday in Santa Ana.  L-R: Elias, Hermano Flores, me, Daisy, Hermana Flores, Isaias, and Elizabeth. What a beautiful family!

This is one of my favorite pictures.  Can you tell how much Daisy and I love each other??

Ahhh, it feels good to be a little nostalgic.  It's so wonderful to think that I could literally hop in a car and drive to my mission if I wanted... and be there in a day!  I know so many missionaries who hope to travel back to their missions at some point during their LIFETIME simply because they served so far away.  Vina del Mar, Chile (where I was first called to serve) is a distant memory, and maybe I'll go there one day.  But for now, I'm forever grateful for the people I met and the incredible experiences I had as a missionary of the California Anaheim Mission - "the happiest mission in the world!"



a lil' glimpse of Indy

Ross got a new camera for his birthday (thanks padres!), so we finally have some quality pictures.  Our other camera was just about to give up the ghost, so we are loving this new one!  Mom ordered it online and it came just before Ross left for Alaska.  It was PERFECT timing because Ross took some amazing pictures during his 2 weeks on tour.  And now we're able to document our new life here in Indy, which will be OH SO IMPORTANT once Gabey comes:)

Adenture #1: Chuck E Cheese lunch with all the technicians.  Now I know why our parents never took us to this place growing up... it is TOTALLY overpriced and the food isn't even that good!  But the boys sure had fun playing the games and taking pictures with Big C:)  

This is Chris (Ross' brother) and his sweet glasses.  Hiram, the lead tech, gave everybody 10 tokens as we came in.  Whoever played the games and got the most tickets from those 10 tokens got to cash in EVERYBODY'S tickets for a big prize.  Chris won the competition and decided to go with these amazing straw glasses and a big bag of cotton candy.  All for only 700 tickets... like I said, overpriced.  

Me and Gabey at 32 weeks... only 8 weeks to go!  Ross bought me the dress as part of my Mother's Day gift, so I just had to wear it to church!  When I woke up that morning, he had made the same DELICIOUS strawberry and ricotta cheese crepes that he made me for Valentine's Day.  There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me on the kitchen table, and then he surprised me with a fun new summer bag, 2 CD's, and 2 Mother's Day cards... one was from my sweet hubby (it made me cry), and the other was from Baby Gabey (whose handwriting looks an awful lot like Ross' handwriting... and it still made me cry!).  I have the most wonderful husband ever.  He is SO GOOD TO ME!

The view from our balcony is awesome!  Ross took this just after the sun had gone down. 

This is our view of the sun setting over the lake behind our complex.  We have several geese, a cute pair of ducks, and a crane that hang out right by our apartment.  One pair of geese has 3 fuzzy little goslings that have hatched since we've been here and they are so stinkin' cute!  The parents aren't very nice, but the goslings are fun to watch:)

I'll hopefully get Ross to write all about Alaska sometime soon.  He's at his 2nd install for the day, which is SPLENDID, and we hope he stays busy this week!  Working as a tech is a lot less stressful for him than selling, and although he's had some late nights (and will continue to have late nights), as a whole he's able to spend more time at home.  It's been great spending time together, but it will be a HUGE blessing to have him home once Gabey's here.  And from the sound of it, we'll have lots of help!  In his first month of life, he'll get to meet his Grammy and Poppy Van Leeuwen, Aunt Maddy, Grandma and Grandpa Graham and Aunt Julia, Uncle Chris, Aunt Lara and cousin Caden.  The more the merrier, so let us know if you're in Indy!

Life is great, the weather is beautiful, the birds are singing, and the trees are green.  That's all we could ask for!!!



We're HERE!!!

Well folks, we are SO HAPPY to finally be in Indiana!  We left last Monday (4/27) to drive down to my parent's house in Alpine, UT so that we could see them one last time before heading East.  After spending the night there and eating breakfast as a family, we left Tuesday morning for the first leg of the trip.  It's about 1600 miles from Alpine to Indianapolis, and Ross really wanted to cover about 1,000 miles the first day.  I figured that he would be driving most of the way anyway, so I let him do what he could do.  We ended up pulling into Salina, Kansas around 1 am and we were SO TIRED!  It took quite a bit longer to get there because we started losing air in one of our tires and had to stop several times to fill up the tire.  It was stressing both of us out because we thought the leak stemmed from my accident a while back (sliding perpendicular across the highway wore down my tires a bit...).  Ross woke up early the next morning to take the car to a shop (thank goodness for GPS!  We were in the middle of nowhere!), and they were able to fix the tire because we had only run over a nail.  PHEW!  We were VERY happy that it wasn't anything worse than a nail, although the guys did tell Ross that we should replace all 4 tires, and it would only cost us $650.00.  I DON'T THINK SO!  The tires might have been worn down a little from the accident, but we definitely did NOT need to replace all of them.  I think those guys were just bored and wanted to make a quick buck.  Anyway, back to the journey...

We left Salina after Ross came back with the fixed tire, and we hit a torrential downpour just outside of Topeka.  It was scary!  We turned the radio on to listen to the road report, and they were calling for flash floods in the exact area where we were driving.  There was standing water on the freeway simply because the rain was coming down so fast and so hard that it couldn't drain off the road fast enough.  We drove through the rain for about an hour, but after that we enjoyed rainless weather for the rest of the day:)  The only detour we made was to Independence, Missouri.  We hadn't ever seen the church historical sites there, and since it was so close to the freeway we decided to stop.  It was fun talking to the Sister Missionaries at the Visitor's Center, and I actually ran into a few who know some of the same people I know.  There were quite a few who spoke Spanish, so I took the opportunity to practice my Espanol.  And there was one Sister whose younger sister is leaving next month for her Spanish speaking mission to Anaheim, California!  My mission!  It was awesome to feel their beautiful spirits, and it was by far my favorite part of the trip:)

We finally pulled into Indianapolis around 10:30 on Wednesday night, and I was SO ready to get into our apartment and SLEEP.  HOWEVER, our apartment had been used as the "back up" apartment for when others had arrived and their apartments weren't ready yet.  I didn't really care that other people had stayed there before us, but because the keys had been passed around so much between several people, nobody knew where the keys were... THUS, we couldn't get into our apartment.  I wanted to cry.  BUT, our friend Chris (the sales manager) reserved a hotel room for us nearby and we were able to get some rest Wednesday night.  It felt GREAT to sleep in and take our time getting ready Thursday morning, and by the time we got back to the apartment complex, the leasing office had made us a copy of our key.  We have an awesome 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with a balcony that overlooks a lake.  It has a washer and dryer in a separate utility room right off the kitchen, and a cute little fireplace and mantle:)  And now that we have the internet set up in the apartment, life is pretty much complete!  I don't have pictures yet, but I will soon!  Ross shadowed some installs for the first 2 days, and now he has a few of his own installs under his belt.  It's amazing the stuff he's learning!  He'll be able to wire just about anything by the time this summer is over with!  As for me, I've been setting up house and getting things underway for having this little baby boy of ours.  There's an awesome hospital called St.Vincent Carmel Hospital, and not only is my insurance accepted there, but it is highly recommended in this area.  And it's less than 10 miles away!  Ross' manager's wife is a friend of mine, and she wants to go with me on Monday to take a look at the facility.  I have a good feeling about it, so now I just have to find a doctor!  Gabey is growing and his kicks are getting powerful enough that they sometimes throw me off balance.  He still gets the hiccups multiple times a day, and when he stretches I can feel pressure on both my bladder and my ribs.  It isn't the most comfortable thing I've ever felt, but I just love this little man!  I love feeling him move inside me, and we can't wait to have him with us.  Ross and I think that Gabey will look like his daddy, but that he'll have my eyes.  It's just a guess, but we'll know for sure in 8 short weeks!  The time is flying by and we can't wait to hold our little Baby Gabe!  

We are loving Indiana and it reminds us so much of our Virginia home.  We're having to re-acclimate to the humidity, but we are L-O-V-I-N-G the green lushness of this area!  Overall, life is good and we are blessed!