Sunday, January 31, 2016
This past week was Transfer Week and what a week it was! It happens every six weeks with the arrival of a new group of young missionaries, providing them with Canada specific training, announcing their assignments, and getting them to their assigned areas. At the same time another group of missionaries are at the end of their missions and are going home. They need to be transported back to Calgary where they meet together, stay overnight in the mission home, receive their airline tickets and itinerary, and prepare to return home. So its one trip to the airport for the incoming group (Tuesday), and a few days later a return to the airport to take those who are leaving (Friday). These two events are busy enough, but now picture in your minds what else is going on; remember that missionaries work as companionships and when one is going home or is being transferred to another area, the remaining Elder or Sister must travel to a central place to receive another missionary to complete the companionship.
For those who are not familiar with LDS missions; when our young Elder or Sister missionaries have served for a certain length of time in a particular area, they are transferred to another area. This is done for a number of reasons. Since there are more potential areas of service than there are missionary pairs, some areas are closed as to missionaries serving there and others are opened (and speaking from my own experience, a change of missionary companionships is good for compatibility reasons; there were definitely some of my companions whom I was happy to see moving on to be someone else's challenge, - just sayin').
For the "car czar" (read Elder Thorley), the week was stressful for other reasons. With all the missionary movements, there is the problem of needing to move some of the cars around. In the meantime two new cars had arrived (Wednesday) and needed to be placed in areas where the cars were being taken out of the fleet. Three cars needed to come to Calgary for some collision repairs (mostly dented car doors and bumpers from slick and icy road mishaps, and sheared off mirrors, etc.). Cars being moved to other areas had to be taken into consideration. Since not all missionaries are qualified drivers, each companionship with a car has to have an approved driver. Some cars needed to be taken out of the fleet for 1-3 weeks for repairs and adjustments had to be taken to try to keep the companionships mobile. This had to be worked out for two staging points, here in Calgary and the other in Lethbridge.
The transfer day was Thursday, so on Thursday morning we all gathered at the Willow Park Chapel, which is very close to the mission home, and loaded up those being transferred to the south mission, -some in the mission van and others driving the cars going south. Despite the leadership's best efforts to ensure that the apartment keys, the car gas cards, the cell phones, etc. that are intended to stay in the area do not go with the transferring missionaries, something always goes awry and it did on Thursday as well, but that is a story for another time.
The drive to Lethbridge is nearly two hours. Gathering there were all the Elders and Sisters from areas sometimes hundreds of miles away, including those who were going home or were being transferred to the north mission. The scene was initially total chaos with some 20-30 missionaries who had not seen each other for some time hugging and renewing friendships - and ignoring instructions. Also picture, even though the day was quite warm (47 degrees!), the usual Lethbridge wind was blowing and it was hard to be heard over the elements. The goal was to be on the road back to Calgary within 45 minutes and we nearly made it, but first luggage had to be transferred from the cars to the van and trailer, car assignments had to be made for the cars going out to the south areas (which included the two new vehicles), and drivers designated for each of the vehicles identified. Also there was an effort to ensure (again) that no one was taking keys, phones, or gas cards to their new areas that were intended to remain.
Arriving back in Calgary, the group was met by the missionaries awaiting their new companions and again, it was difficult to be heard over the exuberance of missionaries greeting former companions and other with whom they had served in their previous areas. The Chinook winds, while lighter in Calgary than Lethbridge, had turned the church parking lot into slush. Finally we got everyone on their way to their areas. The day ended up with arranging to get the mission van, the truck and trailer, and the three "injured" cars to the mission office. The mission staff was exhausted!, but it was a nice feeling as, all in all, it had gone well.
The remaining events involving the missionaries returning home included meeting with President and Sister Miles for a dinner followed by a trip to the Calgary temple, and then on Friday morning we hauled all of those returning home to the airport and bid them a sad goodbye. It is a touching event to see missionaries shed tears as they bid goodbye to each other and this area in which they have served. They have each been blessed and they return home as more mature adults and are so grateful for the many wonderful memories they have of the people they have served and the message of the Gospel and the restoration of Christ's ancient church.
Yesterday, after washing our car and cleaning our apartment, Kathy and I decided to drive to the Banff mountains and on to Lake Louise to see the ice sculptures we had heard about. Kathy and I visited Lake Louise while we were dating and loved it. That was summer time; this time during the dead of winter. The weather, as mentioned above, has been warm in the region, and while it was warmer than usual at Lake Louise, it was still quite cold. I will include a number of pictures so you can see what we saw. Unfortunately, the pictures do not do justice to the detail carved into the sculpted ice in part due to some fresh snow on them as well. I have posted a video clip of the house made of blocks of ice for you to see.
Have a wonderful week!
Please see the pictures below, and the video clip posted on FaceBook on my page.
Elk gathered in a meadow outside of Canmore.
Don't know how there is water that is not frozen on this end of the lake.
Looking east from the lake
The hotel at Lake Louise