Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Arizona

Most of the following I wrote in the present tense while travelling in the US in April. Rather than edit it I have just copied it in here.

Currently (4 April 2013) waiting for my flight to SLC to depart. Had a great timehere, staying with the Hatches the first three nights and the last 2 nights with the Spencers. 

I spent a couple of hours at San Francisco Airport waiting for my connecting 
flight through to Phoenix. Had a good flight from San Francisco with a young 
athlete from Liberty University sitting beside me. He was with his team at a 
track meet at Stanford and on his way home. He also told me he  was working as a youth pastor at his local church, so we had quite a good chat. He had become an 
admirer of Mitt Romney since he spoke at Liberty during his 2012 Presidential 
campaign.

I arrived at Phoenix Skyharbour about midnight on Saturday night,  very late and very tired. Joe and Brenda were waiting for me at Sky Harbour. 

The next day being Sunday meant that we were up early to go to Church at MacQueen2nd Ward. Compared with any ward in Australia it was huge. My guess is that 
there were about 300 people attending. It is a big chapel and it was open throughthe rec hall, so everyone was well spread out. Being Easter, the focus of the 
meeting was the atonement. 

The first speaker was a young lady. Demonstrating how homogeneous LDS culture is around the world, she started her talk just like many members do in Australia. "Iwas at a friend's place the otherday and my phone rang, and being basically a good kid I wondered why Brother Whatshisname, from the Bishopric would be calling me." Of course hewas calling her to assign her to speak today. The rest of her 
talk was actually very good. She was followed by a younger boy who did the fairlytypical reading of a talk that his mother probably helped him with. There were 
some good musical items from the choir which Brenda is a member of. The final twospeakers were a married couple who have a son on a mission . All good talks 
really.
The only thing I didn't really like was the huge amount of personal space that 
the locals seem to like. Every one seemed so distant to me. This feeling was 
changed with Sunday school  being in a good sized room but with quite a crowd in there and good class participation and an excellent teacher. It was very good. 
Joe introduced me to quite a few people of course and they were all very 
friendly. Being a fifth Sunday, for priesthood we had a combined meeting of 
Elders and High Priests, taught by the Bishop who presented a very good lesson.

After Church we went home and had an afternoon nap which we all needed. For 
dinner, we (Joe. Brenda, youngest daughter Sarah, and I) went to the middle 
daughters (Amy) house. Amy is married to Jed, and they are expecting their first baby, what will be Joe and Brendas fourth grandchild. Also there were Jeds 
parents and his two sisters, and arriving a little late was the Hatches oldest 
daughter Marie and her husband Jordan and their three gorgeous little kids, the 
youngest only about 8 months old. It was a really nice evening with great food, 
good company and just a really nice spirit.

Hatch family photos - 
Jordan, Marie and family

L to R Joe, Marie (holding baby), Brenda, Jordan, Jed (at back) Amy and Sarh

Amy looking elegantly pregnant

The next day was shopping day. Joe had the day off work. I bought two pairs of 
shoes for Miriam and two pairs for myseIf which may seem excessive, but shoes 
are half the price here in the States. 
For dinner on Monday night we went to the Tia Rosa, a very busy Mexican 
restaurant. We had arranged to meet a group of my old friends there, including 
Anthony Kaberry (from Geelong) with his wife Mary Anne and son Aiden, Lance and 
Judy Spencer, and Derrick Platt (my second last companion on my mission). It was really nice catching up with this group of friends. Lance was my first Zone 
Leader on my mission in New Zealand and Derrick was my second last companion. I 
had seen Lance and his family both in 2003 in NZ and in 2005 in the US but this 
was the first time I had seen  Derrick in nearly 30 years. 

Derrick and I had a great chat. He had worked as a probation officer for 
something like 20 years and he gave me a key ring with the Arizona State 
Probation Officers Association emblem on it, which looks incredibly like the 
Victorian Police emblem. (I have since had a bit of fun with that telling some 
fellow workers here when I first met them that I was an undercover cop. They 
actually believed me too, which was pretty funny.)
 
 
 
I think it was on the Tuesday in Arizona that Joe and I drove up to the Grand
Canyon. It was about a 3 hour drive and it was good seeing a bit more of Arizona, realizing that it is not all flat desert, but parts of it are hilly desert. It 
is pretty much all uphill from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. We stopped along the way and had breakfast at a classic little American diner (this was along the old Route 66) and we also stopped for some photos at an airport where they had some 
classic old planes.
 




The Grand Canyon was very, very grand! We didn't stay there all that long, maybe an hour or so I guess. Its a big hole in the ground and once you have looked at 
it for half an hour or so, well, it's still a big hole in the ground. It was 
quite cold there too as it is at quite a high elevation.

I think it was on Wednesday I went to the Mesa Temple. I met a nice old guy at 
Temple who took me out for lunch just because I helped him to do some of his 
family file names. I think the restaurant he took me too was the "Landmark", 
which was an old LDS chapel that had been converted to a restaurant.

Landmark Restaurant


My new friend Kent Measom, downstairs at Landmark Restaurant, looking at some historical photos


The Hatches also took me out to a Skydiving centre http://www.skyventureaz.com,
where they have an indoor skydiving set up. Marie (Joe and Brendas oldest) came out with us too and the she and I both did the indoor sky dive which was a lot of fun, but it took a week for my neck to recover from it.

Somewhere in all this I stayed two night with Lance and Judy Spencer and family. Lance was not able to take any time off work, but I was able to spend the 
evenings with them - except for the night I spent with Derrick Platt and family! That was an entertaining visit - Derricks wife is a real live wire and a lot of
fun to spend time with.
The Spencer Family (I think at least two kids are missing here)

Old photo that Derrick had of me when we were companions

A photo of an old photo of the Platts





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