Sunday, February 28, 2016

This is home. We live on the 12th floor on this side of the building.

Another beautiful weather week has passed. Where is the snow and rain?! We had a very brief snow flurry yesterday, then a little bit of rain before the sun came out and then back into the mid 40s. No coats were needed today when we went to church.

On Monday we enjoyed another invitation to have dinner with some members of the ward, the Laycocks. Bro. Laycock is an artist and has made a very good living at it, of course because he is very good at what he does, - primarily landscapes. He sells his paintings through a variety of art galleries in Canada and elsewhere. He and his wife served a mission in Australia and returned just a few months ago so we had much in common to talk about. Dinner was wonderful and we were given a tour of their home and the art studio.

We are enjoying the ward we live in. It is an "older" ward for the most part; not many youth as young families cannot afford homes in this part of Calgary, but because there are a number of apartment buildings within the ward boundaries we have quite a few young couples and they enjoy being together. Thus the ward is mostly made up of a younger group and an older group, the older group having children who are away at college or have married and moved to other parts of the city or have moved away from the area.  Our building is shared with a Spanish speaking ward and another English speaking ward. We have the middle time block so our meetings run from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

President Miles father passed away during the week. It was not unexpected as his father has suffered from marked dementia for quite some time and his passing was considered pretty much a blessing. Typically mission presidents stay in the mission until their term of service is complete and such was the case with President Miles. Sister Miles returned home to be with the family. She returns tonight. She delivered his written talk for him at the funeral. As we have mentioned before, the Miles are great friends of ours from well before our missions and we were happy President Miles was able to come to our apartment and spend last evening with us and have dinner. He related that he was able to take part in all the proceedings via FaceTime and other media; - not quite like being there but perhaps the next best thing. We love President and Sister Miles and enjoy serving with them.

Friday night we went to the Calgary Temple again, this time with both of the couples with whom we serve in the mission office. We enjoyed a fun meal together at Chili's on our way there. By the time we got there, the session was full so we did sealings. Going to the temple is a great way to end our work week.

I have one funny event to relate: the two Zone Leaders who work in the southern part of British Columbia were working with the missionaries who live in Trail, BC. When they were finished with their work, because Trail is so close to the U.S. border, they decided they would cross the border into the U.S. just to take a picture of the border crossing from the U.S. side. That is when the "fun" started. Leaving one's mission is definitely against the rules but they did it anyway so that was the first mistake. Apparently they didn't have any difficulty crossing into the U.S. having U.S. driver's licenses, but when they attempted to return, they were turned away as they didn't have their passports with them. To make matters worse (as they related to the mission office when they called in a panic), "Since we are both brown they didn't believe our story" (one is Hispanic and the other is a Polynesian), The border patrol was not buying their story about why they needed to get back into Canada. We had to FAX a copy of their passports to the border patrol and after many phone calls and successfully passing some sort of background investigation the Border Patrol finally let them cross back. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on one's point of view, they related their stunt to others and the word of this is spreading throughout the mission. They will never live this down, but it will serve as an effective warning to the other missionaries to not try this. Rules exist for a reason; but every now and then someone thinks the rules don't apply to them and they end up regretting the poor decision when it turns agains them.

We have received an additional new vehicle, a Chevy Colorado crew cab pickup. This will replace another Colorado coming out of the fleet due to high mileage. Also, in a conversation with the Regional Fleet Manager in SLC, we jointly decided to order five more Nissan Rogues which will ultimately replace five of our higher mileage cars in several weeks when they arrive.

Well, that's it from me but I will pigtail some of what Kathy wrote recently to family and friends as her perspective is different from my own with her work. So what follows are Kathy's words:    


On the way to and from the Calgary Temple we pass the Olympic park where we can see the ski jumps and some of the skiing hills – quite a sight at night when they are lit up.  (Calgarians take their quadrants very seriously.  Every address has either NW, SW, SE, or NE at the end of the street address.  And the postal codes!  Oh my!  They’re very important, but I’d hate to be a mailman.  There is a unique postal code for a small section of a neighborhood, like 5 or 6 houses.  The postal code is always letter, number, letter, space, number, letter, number, or vice versa.  For example, the mission office, where we get all of our mail, has the postal code T2H 0T2.  The actual address is (name), Canada Calgary Mission, 7044 Farrell Road SE, Calgary, AB T2H 0T2.  See?  And the mail is SLOW.  We joke that once it hits the border, it’s delivered by turtle.  Letters can take two weeks to get here.  A couple of missionaries are STILL looking for their Christmas packages.)
I thought maybe it would be interesting for you to see what a typical week is like for us here in Calgary.  Remember that the rules are VERY different for senior couples than they are for the young missionaries.  President Miles told us when we first arrived that our primary hours to serve are from 8:30 to 5:00 at the office.  Of course, there are times when we are there late, or are helping with other things, but we basically have office hours.  We wake up at 6:00 a.m.  Evan goes into the parkade (parking garage) three days a week and walks/runs while I am on the bike (every day) in the apartment.  Most of the time he comes back and rides the bike to cool down while I am in the shower.  We fix and eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and head for the office at about 8:15 (unless I’m running late – haha). 
At the office, we begin with a devotional.  There are between 4 and 6 of us there on any given day.  We have a song, a prayer, and a spiritual message to start our day.  Then we discuss anything major that needs to be taken care of that day and then we get to work.  Mondays we have a meeting with President and Sister Miles where we discuss concerns and coordinate with them.  They mostly work in their office at the mission home where they live.  There are simply too many interruptions when they come into the office.  But they are always available by phone, text or email.  As I’ve told you before, Evan is in charge of the fleet of cars, and that is a full-time job!  I can hear him groan when the phone rings and Sister Peppinger says to the person on it, “One moment.  I’ll get him for you”, because it seems like 4 out of 5 times, “him” means Evan, and it’s a car problem!  Right now he’s trying to take a few cars out of the fleet and replace them with new cars, which is a big deal!  The problem is, the number of missionaries in the mission keeps fluctuating, as most of the time nowadays we have “visa waiters” – missionaries from Canada who can’t get their visas into the U.S. and need to start their missions.  We love these visa waiters and it’s sad to see them leave, but they’re always really excited to go where they were originally called to go.  Right now we have 8 visa waiters, though this week three of them have received their visas and will go with the next transfer of their assigned mission (oops, one left yesterday).  Anyway, they need to live somewhere and also need to have transportation, so that is always a concern for the president and for Evan.  Most of the time they are assigned to a “three-leg”; in other words, instead of two companions serving together, there are three.  It keeps things interesting, for sure.  I have some opinions about why they can’t get their visas, but I think I’ll keep them to myself. L
I have a variety of responsibilities.  As I’ve said before, I take care of hotel reservations, reserving buildings for zone conferences, arranging luncheons with Relief Societies, some of the President’s correspondence, etc.  I’m also in charge of referrals.  The Church has a great computer system where if someone expresses interest in the Church in any aspect on the internet, they send the pertinent information to the correct mission, and then the referral person finds the right missionaries and sends them the information.  I can get a referral, the computer tells me which area the person lives in, along with the missionaries serving there (unless there is an error in the address, in which case I have to “dig”), I get everything ready on my end and “click” – it’s sent to the missionaries.  They receive a text with all the information they need (unless there’s additional information which I will then either send in another text or a phone call), and they can contact them that same day.  The missionaries love it! 
My other big responsibilities are the newsletter (which goes out just before a transfer – usually every 6 weeks, though sometimes it’s 5 and sometimes 7), and the mission history.  I’m working on the history right now.  It’s ironic, because I wasn’t even here in 2015, so I have no idea what happened then, but I guess it’s like compiling someone’s history when I do family history.  I just have to dig and get the information from those who were there.  It’s coming together, and I’m learning a lot more about Microsoft Word and Publisher!!!  The next transfer is next week, so I published The Harvester (newsletter) and distributed it yesterday. 
We also help the missionaries who come into the office for supplies, to turn in receipts, or to get mail or an encouraging word.  They’re great!  We have a large closet filled with supplies in many languages.  We have missionaries in this mission who speak English (the majority), Spanish, and Mandarin.  But the missionaries call requesting literature in so many different languages.  Lately we’ve seen a large number of requests for Tagalog, Arabic, French, etc.  Calgary is truly another “melting pot”, and you meet people from everywhere!  As part of the mission history, I compiled lists of the baptisms during 2015.  One third of those baptized were born outside of Canada!  We work hard, and by the time we head home at 5 or 5:30, we’re pretty bushed!  Usually it’s all we can do to pull together some dinner and then either read, write or watch something on TV.  We also try to do a small load of laundry most evenings.  Usually once a week we make a Costco run to get our fruit, milk, and other supplies (not much with this tiny apartment), or we go to one of the supermarkets for smaller items.  Friday evenings we try to go to the temple with the Peppingers, though it was closed the first two weeks of February. Saturdays are our day to sleep in (!), do laundry, clean the apartment, write letters, sometimes go shopping, and whatever else we find time for. We find that we NEED to do something for a change of pace.  Last weekend we found the cheap theater, so we went to a movie.  We just need to chill for a day!  Sunday is filled with choir practice (yep, we’re singing), church, and whatever else.  We have been invited to dinner at the homes of a couple of families in the ward.  They’re our age, and it’s nice to have new friends in the ward.
That’s pretty much our lives right now.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s also fun, most of the time.  We love all of you! 
Finally, I will include a nice picture looking at downtown Calgary from across the Glenmore Reservoir. We will be back to take a similar picture when the trees are out and the ice is gone. 

Have a wonderful week.
Evan and Kathy

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