Sunday, April 17, 2016

Cars, trucks, and a special visit.

My blogs remind me of my grandson, Brady. As he was learning to talk all he could talk about were his matchbox trucks. Pretty much everything he said was unintelligible except the word, “trucks” and he loved his trucks (still does). I am guessing you are probably thinking this is true of my blogs, - everything is “cars”. It is a good thing I like cars as my life pretty much revolves around them. So here is the update on mission cars for the week (and a few other things as well).

This past week we were informed of the arrival of two new Nissan Rogues, and one more is due in on Monday or Tuesday of this next week. Later in the month or early in May we will get two more Rogues. The arrival of new cars means the older cars must eventually come out of the fleet; however, since we have been adding new missionaries and opening new areas, until now I haven’t had to prepare anything for sale. That is changing. The truck I mentioned in my last blog is ready for sale and the process should be completed by the end of the week when the truck will probably head south to Cardston. The potential buyer is just waiting for the truck to be priced before he commits, which makes perfect sense. Personally, I would really like to have this truck. It has nearly 100,000 km on it but is in wonderful shape and condition.

The weather has been so nice that Kathy decided she would like to go with me to pick up the new Rogues at the Nissan dealership. On Wednesday the fleet sales guy picked us up and away we went. The previous Rogues had silver paint jobs; these were a sort of gun metal grey, which looks really good but will certainly show the dirt and grime of winter more than the silver ones. When we go in to pick up the new vehicles, we have to do an inspection, fill out the specific car checklist(s), get in them and drive away, - much easier than haggling with a salesman over price, accessories, etc. if I were buying a car for myself!

Now that winter driving is pretty much over and the number of accidents is down, I am concentrating on gradually getting each of the cars in the fleet touched up, bumpers and windshields replaced, and windshield dings repaired. I discovered, however, that this has to be handled just so. Since other than simple repairs are covered by the Church’s automobile insurance, I have to fill out an incident report just like when one of our cars is involved in an accident, only on this incident report I indicate “accumulated damage”.  Filing out an incident report triggers an insurance case number and a file is automatically generated. One of the first cars for which I started this process was a Subaru Impreza that was otherwise in great shape. While we were in Utah in March, without warning the insurance adjustor simply ‘totaled’ it, the insurance company sent the Church a check for its salvage value, the car disappeared from the fleet inventory without warning, and after returning from our Utah trip I am scratching my head trying to figure out why this car was no longer showing up in the inventory. Then the Calgary towing company the insurer uses called to see where they could pick up the car. I said, “Whoa, wait just a darn minute.” I called the Church Fleet people in SLC and asked what was going on. They verified that they had been paid for the car and it was indeed going to a salvage yard. So this was a double whammy; not only does the car come out of the fleet but another car has to be put in place to replace it. Lesson learned; get the windshield replaced, then a bit later arrange for the dings, dents, and scrapes and scratches to be repaired at another time so that no one assumes it isn’t worth the cost of repairs.

Yesterday was a special day for the mission. We learned after returning from Utah that Elder Christofferson (one of the Twelve Apostles for my non-Mormon friends) was coming to the area (together with a couple Seventies) and would be meeting with all of the missionaries. Rarely is there an event that has such importance that the entire mission meets together in one location. For some of our missionaries this means a six-hour drive, working out carpooling, making arrangements for an overnight stay, and then a return long trip back to their areas, - it is not a simple undertaking. So far it appears that everything has gone without a hitch and everyone is safely back home.

You may recall in a previous blog I described how we had a guy here in Calgary come to the zone conferences held in the northern part of the mission to fix the windshield rock chips while the missionaries were in meetings. For the cars in the south mission we were planning the same thing at the next zone conferences. We determined, however, that the gathering of cars for Elder Christofferson’s visit would enable fixing the rock chips in the remaining cars. I sent out word, when planning for which cars would be driven to Calgary, the cars with windshield rock chips should make the drive. And so the plan was to have the cars from the south mission park on the east side of the building where the gathering was to occur and the cars from the north mission on the other side. The meeting was to start at 9:00 a.m. We planned to arrive at 8:15 to begin directing the cars. We arrived shortly after 8:00 thinking we could get set up and be ready at 8:15. As we rounded the corner 50-60 cars were already there! Now picture trying to get the attention of the excited groups of reuniting missionaries; getting them to move their cars and park according to the plan we had so carefully worked out brought to mind the phrase “herding cats”.

The meeting with Elder Christofferson, Elder Martino, and Elder Spackman was wonderful. As the meeting started, President Miles announced that our visitors wanted to shake hands with each of the missionaries. 

The entire chapel was filled with young Sisters and Elders and so the pews emptied one at a time coming around from the back of the chapel and up the aisle to the front where each had an opportunity to shake hands. 

This was our opportunity as well. I will include a picture shot by one of our fellow office workers, Elder Sefcik, when Kathy and my opportunity to shake hands occurred.

Of note is that many of our missionaries think that Elder Christofferson and I look alike and often say so. While we were sitting waiting for the dignitaries to arrive, Elder Sefcik, knowing of the opinion that Elder Christofferson and I look alike, poked me in the shoulder and said, “You should go out the side door and come in through the back of the chapel and up the aisle to see what would happen.”  I didn’t have to think about it very long…. “I don’t think so.”

I was sitting in the right front of the chapel so I could slip out when the guy fixing the rock chips was finished and texted me he was done. This happened right in the middle of Elder Christofferson’s talk. I slipped out the rostrum door as quietly as possible and went outside to meet the repair guy and settle with him (22 rock chip repairs!). When I returned and attempted to come back inside using the front chapel doors, I discovered they were locked. I could see some men dressed in suits sitting in the foyer and so motioned for them to let me in, and one of them did so. Then I got the 3rd degree as to why I was there. It turned out that these men were Elder Christofferson’s security detail. They listened to my story and allowed me to return through the rostrum door I had come through earlier, but it caused me to think what a sad commentary of the time where it is necessary for a security protection detail to travel with the Apostles. I suppose this is true for all General Authorities as well.

Still, life is good. There are still many good people in the world; just getting to be more and more people who have no respect or regard for preserving the good and sacred things of the world. We are delighted to be here. We love those whom we serve. This includes the Master Himself.

We are so saddened to hear of the passing of two of our good friends and neighbors just a few days apart. Kathy and I both know the pain of losing a spouse and our hearts go out to them. We are so grateful to know where they are and to know they are now free from the pain and suffering they had to endure.

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