Christmas day - 2015
We have had a very eventful week and we have begun our office assignments. We are working with a neat couple, the Peppingers, who are from South Jordan, Utah. They have been in place since September. Elder Peppinger serves as the finance guru and keeps tract of all the vendor receipts (housing, office supplies, etc.) and this is a huge task. Sister Peppinger is the office receptionist and is much loved by the missionaries. She knows each of the 200 +/- missionaries serving by name and where they came from. She has an amazing memory for details. She knows where everything is and how it works. She is the glue that keeps everything running; for example, every six weeks there are changes made with reassignment of missionaries, new missionaries arriving, and others going home at the completion of their missions. She keeps tract of this. In addition, the Church recently added a new stake here in the Calgary area and this has affected the organization of the zones and districts and missionary assignments. She remains right on top of the assignments. She knows where each of the Elders and Sisters are serving and details about them that amazes us. She takes several dozen phone calls every day and always seems to know exactly who she is talking to and what they have discussed previously. Truly amazing!
The office staff includes a local couple, the Sefciks, who are in the office most days of the week but are presently away during the Christmas holidays with family in Baltimore, MD. Elder Sefcik, a retired attorney, is the housing coordinator and handles all the missionary lodging and furnishing requirements plus trying to keep landlords happy and paid. He is the one who found our apartment and made all the arrangements. He has also been managing the mission fleet of cars, which has now become my responsibility. I was able to get a rather brief overview of the fleet management before the Sefciks left but am finding I need much more instruction for handling all the fleet accounting requirements for the 87 cars in the mission fleet. Sister Sefcik handles ordering of supplies, which is a huge responsibility.
Kathy handles the office correspondence including the mission newsletter. Part of her responsibilities include assisting me with the recording and payment of vehicle maintenance receipts and monthly accounting for the vehicle logs and gas receipts. She will also serve as the recorder for findings as I inspect each of the mission vehicles at the quarterly zone conferences (what this means is that she will sit inside of a warm vehicle while I brave the cold while checking on vehicle cleanliness, fluid levels, tire condition, wiper blades, etc and call out the findings to her to record on the forms).
In our last blog we described having a dinner and program with 90+ missionaries serving in the southern half of the mission. On Tuesday of this week we did the same thing with the 100+ missionaries in the northern half of the mission, which was held here in Calgary in one of our church buildings. Again we served a ham, baked potato, and salad dinner and then had a white elephant gift exchange followed by a devotional program in the chapel and, again, it was a wonderful evening which the Elders and Sisters really enjoyed.
Light snow fell all day on Christmas Eve for a total accumulation of around 3" so the roads are slick but made for a nice White Christmas. Today, December 26th (Boxing Day in Canada) it was sunny, hazy, and cold. The high was around 14 degrees. We usually go to the office in the dark and come home in the dark due to the shortness of the day this far north so today has been fun to do some driving around while it is light. Of course, we will have the opposite condition in the summer; in June it will be light until 10:30/11:00 p.m. and become light before 4:30 a.m.
Today we were invited to President and Sister Miles home where we had a wonderful lunch. The group included President and Sister Miles' daughter, Leslie, and her husband and son, and the Assistants to the Mission President (APs). One of the APs is Elder Warenski who is from Springville, Utah, and the other is Elder Christensen who is from Logan, Utah. We had a wonderful time together. The mission home is very nice, and has been utilized as the home of the mission president and wife for over 30 years. We will include pictures at the end of the blog.
While most of the stores we like in the U.S. are available here in Canada the merchandise is often quite different. We are trying to find the Mexican food items we like but without much success despite looking in Safeway, Walmart, Costco, and other similar stores. There is a large Hispanic population here but obviously must shop in stores that cater to the population; we will have to find out where they are. Opening a bank account here was an interesting process. We had gone into a local bank to simply convert some U.S. currency to Canadian dollars but were told how much more favorable the exchange rate would be if we opened an account. Food and merchandise items are much more expensive here than in the States even after you figure in the exchange rate.
Today was our preparation day so we spent the morning cleaning our apartment and organizing it better. This afternoon we went to see Star Wars, which got mixed reviews in our household; I liked it but Kathy felt she had liked other episodes better.
Tonight we enjoyed having the two Elders serving in our ward for dinner. Our chicken enchiladas were a hit.
We hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and were able to spend time with family and loved ones. We were able to Skype or FaceTime with our children and some of our grandchildren and enjoyed being with them electronically. Thank goodness for technology!
Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve celebration. Wow, 2016 is nearly upon us!