Sunday, March 13, 2016

Again a nice warm week, so much so that I was able to get outside in shirtsleeve weather and do some work on the cars that are here at the mission office in the parking lot. This was nothing heavy duty or involving greasy parts, just putting on windshield wiper blades, replacing some burned out signal and headlight bulbs, and other simple repairs including replacing a rear taillight assembly on one of the pickup trucks. Also, in anticipation of the upcoming full scale inspection of all 90 cars in the fleet, I went to a couple of auto part suppliers to get restock parts for some of the simpler repairs we do at the inspections. We keep small repair parts bins at the mission office to make simple repairs when the cars happen to come to the office and need something and we have antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, blake fluid, etc. to top off fluids. This saves the Church considerable money for when we send the work out to repair facilities, the charge is more for labor than the parts.  These repair bins go with us to the areas where Zone Conferences are held. This is done quarterly and the Zone Conferences begin this week and extend into next week so restocking was needed. When the missionaries arrive for Zone Conference they are directed to specific parking spaces where they back their cars in, raise the hoods and trunk lids, turn their wheels all the way to the left, and remove the contents of their glove compartments to ensure all the required documents are present. These are placed on the front car seat along with their car keys. We then go car by car and do a full inspection using documents that I prepare from the individual computerized car file we have in a systems called "CARS". The items needing repair or attention are listed and a copy is left with each car. The drivers then contact me and we arrange for the work to be done in their particular area where we are not able to correct some things on the spot. The whole business of lining up the cars reminds me of standing at attention for military inspections, except in this case it is the cars that are at attention. I will hope to include a picture of the line of cars ready for inspection.

In addition to the inspections, I am given 30 minutes to teach some aspect of car safety at the Zone Conference. This is done at the end of the conference. During the inspection we grade each car as to cleanliness and maintenance and award a Subway gift card to the top car in each of the zones. This is announced at the end of the Zone Conference. This safety presentation this time will involve a video presentation on parking lot safety and using one's companion to assist in backing up. Parking lot incidents were a big problem for us during the winter time and, from the reports I receive, this was true with missionary cars pretty much everywhere.

We made our usual trip to the temple on Friday with one of the couples with whom we serve in the office. Afterwards we stopped at a local steakhouse with a good reputation, known as 'Montana'. I will include a picture of a picture taken of Kathy and I standing under the head of one of the trophy heads mounted on the walls. Incidentally, the food was good and we will look forward to returning some day soon.

Kathy and I had been asked to help with food preparation and serving for the annual Relief Society Birthday Celebration which was held yesterday. I will include a picture or two from that as well. As you can see from the pictures, it was for a large group of women. It was well attended and the food was great. Incidentally, as you can see, the Calgary Stake Center has a full size basketball court, which is not common in the Church anymore.

Today was the first day for Daylight Savings Time.........Yes, they follow this ridiculous tradition here in Canada as well.

On Friday Kathy and I will head for Sandy, Utah, for the birth of a granddaughter. We plan to be there for two weeks and will return to Canada around April 1st; therefore, there may not be a blog entry for the next two weeks depending on whether or not I can find an internet connection to tap into. Ours was disconnected when we left in December. We will look forward to seeing many of your while we are there. To all...........have a great week.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

This has been a very busy week. This was "transfer week" which means new missionaries arriving, new missionaries being trained, moving missionaries around the mission to fill vacancies left by outgoing missionaries and other reasons for moving personnel around, and sending missionaries home who have reached the end of their service. This means a lot of driving and coordination.

Monday - involved with taking a big breath and getting a coordinated plan ready for transfer week.

Tuesday - greeting 16 new missionaries arriving from the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah. New missionaries leave Provo very early in the morning, take a bus to the SLC airport, catch their flights, and our group arrives in Calgary around 1:30 p.m. The new missionaries are already weary having had to get up so early. In Calgary they must go through Customs, and this seems to take unnecessarily long. Finally we get to greet and welcome them and lead them to the mission vehicles to transport them to the mission home (see inserted picture).

Once at the mission home they have a few moments to catch their breath and have some dinner and then the local training begins. They hear from President Miles and then he begins to interview each of them to determine where best to place them. Sister Miles takes over and goes through mission policies, medical care, and other important issues. Then its the office staff's turn to brief them on our particular office assignments and how we serve them. They receive training on local customs, rules of the road and other things they need to be able to drive. They learn how to file reimbursement receipts, what regular reports are expected of them, housing and apartment cleanliness issues, what to do if ill, and a myriad of other topics. This is done as briefly as possible and as entertainingly as possible as these poor Elders and Sisters are fighting to stay awake at that point. Finally they receive their overnight lodging assignments and are able to get to bed.

Wednesday - the new missionaries go to a nearby church building for further training and are met there by their new companions. Each first companion is specifically called by Pres. Miles to serve as a "trainer" with whom they will serve for 12 weeks or more. Once they have met their trainer they head out to their areas with their trainer companion.

Thursday - this is really the nightmare day, at least for the office staff. Early in the day we meet all those in the north part of the mission who are being affected by transfers; this is at a nearby church building in Calgary.  16 missionaries were headed to the south mission and 18 missionaries were coming back with us from the south mission to the north mission. To make all this happen we needed the mission office's 11-passenger van, the mission office's crew-cab truck pulling a trailer for the baggage, the Assistant's to the Mission President's (APs) crew-cab truck, and the Mission President's SUV. The drive to Lethbridge in southern Alberta is just short of two hours. There the transferring missionaries hook up with their new companions, so all who are involved in a change are milling about. This becomes an absolute zoo; cars and missionaries all over the place with each missionary more interested in catching up with news from their former companions and getting news of areas and people they knew before. They become deaf to instruction so it is always like herding cats to get them to find and unload their bags and connect with their new companion and LEAVE the parking lot for their areas of assignment. Only then can we load up the transferring missionaries and head back to Calgary.  The process was further complicated by needed actions for two areas being completely changed (one companionship going in new and the old companionship coming out). This means attempting to isolate both sets of missionaries so that keys, phones, and gas cards get into the right hands. Additionally there was one totally new area being opened and so a car had to be assigned to that area along with a phone, apartment keys, and the gas card. Finally everyone is loaded up and we can gas up and head back to Calgary. Then in Calgary it is the same rodeo as missionaries greet each other and pretty much ignore instructions to get with new companions, load up their gear, make sure phones, keys, and gas cards are in the right hands, and head for their areas of assignment. It is exhausting for office staff to say the least, and transfer week still isn't over.

Friday -  early in the day we meet with the group of missionaries going home. They meet at the mission home for breakfast (see attached picture),

then after a brief devotional and a prayer, the baggage is loaded up and we head for the airport. I had a fun drive to the airport with the Sister missionaries while the Elders went in a couple of other vehicles. Meanwhile in the van, (see the inserted picture )

the Sisters are excited to go home and see their families again but it is a sad occasion as well as many of them have served together and know that they may never see each other again as they are from all over the U.S. and Canada. At the airport we offload them and their luggage and leave them in the hands of President and Sister Miles and wish them farewell. It is sad for us too. So it is back to the office to catch up on the work that has been shelved during "transfer week." In a few weeks we will do it all over again.

Saturday - our P-day (preparation day). We cleaned the apartment and did our laundry. We got in a brief nap, and then I spent part of the day preparing the Sunday School lesson for the Gospel Doctrine class which I had been asked to do in the absence of the regular instructor. Lucky was the Isaiah chapters contained in the Book of Mormon. And we saw a great movie: Brooklyn. We recommend it.

Sunday - Fast Sunday; great Fast and Testimony Meeting and then my lesson, which went pretty well; at least everyone stayed awake. Dinner was particularly yummy! - BBQ ribs, baked potato, veggies, sauteed mushrooms, and Kathy's delicious home-made bread. Tonight we attended a great multi-denominational Choral Festival which is held each year in our Stake Center in anticipation of Easter. It was wonderful; what a great way to "end the week" even though Saturday is officially the end of the week.

One last picture;

it is of me and one of the incoming missionaries who is my daughter Tana's nephew, Elder Whicker. He will make a great missionary. Also we welcomed a couple of Sister missionaries from our home area.

Life is good here in our mission. It is very busy but we are enjoying every minute of it. We love you all and are grateful to hear from you from time to time. You can respond to our blog or send an email to one of the following addresses: or