Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013- Doubling Down!

Here we are at another week down!  The best news for the week is that Elder Gundersen found a good cyber.  One with power. That had an available computer. AND he only lost email service once today.  This is great for Africa standards!

The other really great news is that we are now officially to double digits on the countdown to his estimated return date. 
This calls for a celebration for sure! Chocolate cake anyone?
President told him to have us get him enrolled in school.
So I expect to have him back by the first week of January 2014.
This number should be really close to the actual date!
So for the week update- He says he had a really great week.  He is still awaiting the arrival of the last few packages that were sent to him.  Just a reminder- He requested that no more packages be sent from here on.  He may not be there when they arrive if you send something now. 
His companion continues to be awesome.  He says that he is cool and that he can trust him with anything.  He's a great missionary too.  Elder Lynch is still in the apartment too and he is doing well.  He says that his favorite candy from Scotland that Elder Lynch shares with him is the chocolate.  He loves chocolate from Scotland!  Elder Gundersen still did not elaborate on the mission work so I have absolutely no idea how many Amis they have, how many baptisms they have had or that they have coming up.  Sorry folks!  You'll just have to come to the homecoming to ask him yourself!
As for fun stuff that he did today for PDay- He scrubbed the bathroom!  Sounds like a really fun day!  Bleach eroded hands and all...
His big hit for the week was that he made fried potatoes.  He said that everyone in the apartment really loved them and the neighbors came over to eat fried potatoes too.  He is one talented Elder- he can fry potatoes! 
He also could not end the chat without giving me a bit of harassment for the week.  He made fun of me for planning to run in a team challenge event next year.  I asked if he would like to join me and this is how the conversation went:
Me: You can go to the gym with me and run the Go Ruck Challenge with me next fall.
Hunter: no

Me: Why not? Are you a whimp? It's not a race it's a team challenge. It will be fun. Old ladies do it!
Me: And young people...

Hunter: that is not fun at all

Me: Afraid that your MOM would out do you? Hahaha! Not!


Hunter: no i hate running

Me: You don't run too much on this thing. It's team work challenges. Not running. It's on a mountain course in Park City. It's finishing the course together and not leaving anyone behind. 
Hunter: absolutely not... thats not even fun... races have to have a winner and lots of losers
Me: I guess Mindy at work will just have to go with me. We can be losers together! haha!
Hunter: losers suck

Me: It's a CHALLENGE..not a race! haha!
You're funny! I guess I'm a loser then cause I remember winning nothing in my life!

Hunter: so is the challenge championships but there is a winner and a loser anyways.
Hunter: you said it not me.

Me: you have a valid point but that was a challenge race!
Hunter: same thing.
Me: Maybe you'll think I'm cool when Mindy and I finish and get our patches for being awesome
and not quitting.
Hunter: everyone gets a trophy in tee ball but not everyone wins. We all know who the losers are.
Me: You are not making this very rewarding for me....
Hunter: well i have to go now so have a good week and tell grandpa hi for me. I cant believe you are trying to be a loser.
Me: Haha! Love you. Hope you have a good week.
Hunter: I don't talk to losers.
Guess I will have to win the challenge that is not a race so he will talk to me next year!
Thanks to all for your continued prayers, love and support in his behalf. Love you all!

September 23, 2013- Power Please!

So this week was a bust!  I got just a few emails from Elder Gundersen. Pretty much all I got was "Hi Mom, I'm alive."  "I found a better cyber this week so the emails should be better."
Then...BAM! Power outage for nearly two hours! C'ect dommage!
In memory of the event...I post this video...
This would be some of the reason for the continued power loss. Remember these gems?

Cannot imagine why they have ANY power issues at all.
The rest of the Mission Experience for the week went well.  I was honored to be able to attend a lunch in Salt Lake with some of the other Moms of the mission. I am truly blessed to know each of these wonderful Sisters.  I cannot thank them enough for their love, support and friendship.  Lunch was at The Blue Lemon.  The food was great but the company was even better!  Thanks to Michelle Layton for being the group photographer / editor and sharing her pictures.
I took this one while I was waiting for the group to arrive. 
 It was a beautiful day and I parked down by The Gateway and enjoyed a walk in the sun.
 These are all the awesome Mom's that could attend the lunch.  All the Mission Moms are truly wonderful- some just live too far away to join us.  (LtoR- Moms of Elders- Sagers, Kunz, Hales, Christensen, Gray, Gundersen, Layton, Oliverson, and Hawkins.)

Thanks for the great afternoon ladies! Can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 16, 2013- Visitors!

Hello Everyone! 

Elder Gundersen had a pretty good week. He said good bye to his first companion, Elder Milambo, who went home after completing his mission. Somehow, the kitchen mixing bowls left at the same time. Hmmm...weird!  The Elder who replaced Elder Milambo is from the Ivory Coast. 

The highlight of Elder Gundersen's week was a visit from Mama and Bleck from Togo on P-Day!  So cool that they came to visit him!  Bleck sent some pictures for the blog of the big visit.

Here they are at Elder Gundersen's apartment- Bleck, Mama and Elder Gundersen

Nice courtyard for the visit.

Bleck, Mama, Elder Odonkor, Elder Gundersen

Elder G in his styling shirt!

What's for lunch? Cassava, banana, fish, peppers, onions and tomatoes! Looks pretty good!

Eating it traditional African style- with the hands.

Mama capturing memories!

I have no idea who the young man in the yellow shirt is!

Sweet duds!

I'm liking the plaid shorts with this shirt.

He has such a happy face listening to Mama!

I love Mama's smile in this one.

Unfortunately, all visits must come to an end.  Mama and Bleck made it safely back to Togo later that evening.  Elder Gundersen said the visit was wonderful. He says that Mama and Bleck are really nice people and the rest of the family is nice as well. I am truly grateful for this family and for their love and concern for Elder Gundersen...and of course for the pictures that they send!  Such a blessing!
In other news, Elder Lynch's Mom has been sending candy from Scotland.  Elder Gundersen and Elder Lynch have put together a list of American candy and treats that they would love me to send for Elder Lynch to try:
Slim Jims
Nerds Rope
Big Hunk
Swedish Fish
Almond, Pretzel and Coconut M&M's
Butterscotch Discs
Symphony Milk Chocolate
Tootsie Rolls
Cream Savers
Chocolate licorice
Reeses Minis
I went today and got the treats on the list and packaged it up. Wes is sending it tomorrow.  I had a really hard time finding Cream Savers, but finally found a small bag in a local convenience store.  I hope the package arrives before either of them transfer.  Sugar high for sure!  He is also getting Hershey's Hugs and Kisses, Papa Jays and Pop Tarts in a package.  Maybe it will all last until he comes home.  He is eagerly awaiting the package as it also contains the 2013 Los Alamitos sale catalog!  Reading material for a boy that misses the horses!
He mentioned that he thought it may be only a few more weeks until he gets his flight plans.  I am super excited for that! It still seems impossibly far away.  He is growing tired of Africa and wants to come home. "God really did bless America"- He has learned to love his country by living in another. He misses driving his truck to Logan. "It's a nice drive, tell Wes to register my truck so I can drive it when I get home."
He says he also misses church at home.  He can't wait to just be able to sit during sacrament meeting and just think about things instead of having to worry about everything.  I guess there was a moment of extremely "loud teaching" that occurred this week at church.  The training of the a few of the leaders and teachers seems to be a never ending challenge for our Elders. I cannot imagine how frustrated they must get sometimes. I know that they are making a difference though. It just takes time.
Thanks to all for your love, prayers and support.  A special thanks again to Kris. You're the best!  Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 9, 2013- Thanks For the Surprise!

So, I was seriously sad last week when Elder Gundersen signed off of his chat / email time without remembering to wish me a happy birthday for Saturday.  Now, I'm not really being a whiner about it, it's just that last year he missed my birthday because he was back at the apartment sick with malaria.  Between that and Ty being gone, I was certain that neither of my boys would remember or get a chance to brighten my birthday with well wishes for the day.  Boy was I WRONG!

At exactly midnight on the big day, Wes got a text message.  Wes never gets texts and because of that his volume was up ALL THE WAY! We practically flew out of bed!  Midnight messages always make you panic and think the worst...well not on my phone, I get messages 24/7, but Wes' phone- never happens.  As I was still trying to pry my heart off the ceiling, Wes read the message.  He smiled and said, "It's for you." and handed the phone to me.

"Hi mom! Pres weed told elder odonkor and i that we could wish you a happy birthday. So have a good day and thanks for all you do! Love, Hunter Elder G-Unit & Elder Lord Odega"

Be still my heart...of course I immediately started to cry!  What a great way to start the day and exactly at midnight to be the first to say happy birthday! Awh! I love that kid!  I'm sure he text Wes' phone because he knew it would be too much of a temptation for me not to text him back! It was a tender mercy for sure. As a bonus, I now know that Elder G's companion is Elder Odonkor.

I was also surprised later that morning to get a text and pictures from Bleck and Mama with birthday greetings as well. Mama sent pictures of how to make pineapple juice. Thought I'd share the process. Hope I got the order correct!

Quarter and core pineapples and grate.

and grate...

Squeeze grated pulp through a mesh sieve to remove the juice.
Keep squeezing!

Fill prepared bottles with juice.
Pretty cool process, don't you think?  I bet it's really sweet juice.  Elder Gundersen says the pineapple there is awesome. Apparently, we only have garbage pineapple here!
Later that morning as I was on the way to Elder Kunz's sisters services, I got a few messages and pictures from my other boy at Fort Bliss!  So happy! My day was made and the bar was set extremely high! I don't think I could have had a better morning. My heart was singing.  I would share a few Ty pictures, but I'm feeling selfish...they are just for me! 
The service for Celeste was beautiful. There was nowhere else I'd of rather been at the time. I felt close to heaven in that chapel.  What beautiful testimonies were shared. It was really cool to have Elder Kunz Skyped in too!
Technology is a fantastic thing when properly used...Texts and pictures from Africa, Texas and an Elder attending his beloved sister's funeral halfway around the world. 
I also have to say that we have an AMAZING Missionary Mom group.  I feel very blessed to be part of such a special group of Sisters. The love and support for one another is second to none.  I am so blessed!
On to Elder G-Units update...
He is alive!  This is Elder Milambo's last week and a half before he heads home.  The weather is getting warmer there.  He ate the rest of the beef he purchased the previous week.  The "beach house" is roughly 150 yards from the ocean and really nice.  The breeze from the ocean is very good! He dries most of his clothes outside.
He will find out in about a month when his final release date is!  So exciting!  He's bought a few cool statues and some clothes for souvenirs. He also has a machete!  Just what every Utah farm kid drum for his brother...he does love me!
I almost forgot!  Elder G has been asked to put his mission testimony and a picture in a book for local Elders he went to school with.  Here is what he sent and the picture he selected.

Until next week, thanks to all for your love, prayers, emails and support! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 2, 2013- MTC Flashback!

Hello Everyone!!

Elder Gundersen is alive and well this week.  He is still enjoying his "beach house" that sits about 150 yards from the ocean.  The ocean air isn't quite as nice as that of the beaches in the Caribbean.  He says that it smells just like the rest of Benin.  He said the water to shower is cold.  Every apartment that he has been in has cold water.  Wes asked if anyone has hot water in the mission and Elder Gundersen replied, "yeah, President Weed!"  Haha!  What a kid!  He and his companion are working well together.  Elder Milambo has only a few days left on the mission. That will be a new mile marker...the first companion completing his mission and going home.

Speaking of mile markers, the Sisters that were in the same district as Elder Gundersen in the MTC are home now!  It was a great surprise this week to see that Sister Barbara Fairchild had posted a few pictures of Elder Gundersen and Elder Baird on Facebook.  It was really nice to be able to chat a bit with her on messenger.  She said her mission in France was great.  Attached below are two of the MTC pictures that she posted. Elder Gundersen looks so young...and chubby!  Thanks Barbara for the pictures! 


The fun thing that Elder Gundersen did for Pday was buy some beef. He says he bought both beef steak and ground beef.  He "just stuck the steak in a pan and cooked it...then I ate it" and said it was good.  It has been really hot in Benin.  He confirmed that there is an Elder there from Rupert, Idaho.  Elder Kent- He says he's a really nice kid.  Well, odds are that since he's from Rupert, he's a farm can he not like him?  Elder Kent made it to Africa just a bit after Elder Gundersen did. 
Not much more was emailed. He misses home, family and friends and is excited to get home and back into school..."no use just sitting around!".
Thanks to all for your continued prayers, love and support.  Until next week! Hakuna Matata!