Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rain, beautiful rain........!

This part of the country is finally getting some rain. It is truly an answer to the prayers of so many. Everything is looking so green and fresh as the pictures below show. These were shot from the north side of our building. As it turns out, there is a nice veranda that can be accessed by everyone in the building that looks out over the city. I especially like the one looking toward the downtown area.

I will start with some non-mission things that have involved some of my thoughts and efforts during the week. Our rental home in Lehi again has some wonderful tenants moving in, and, since we are losing our great tenants from one of our Miles City (MT) homes, I have been busy in my off duty moments screening prospective tenants as best as one can do when hundreds of miles away. Thank goodness for modern technology.  Other than this, my week was primarily involved with the tedious task of entering car inspection results into the system. This has to be done for each car one at a time which is time consuming enough, but it is especially so when I must also call the missionaries who have the particular car needing service or repair and arrange for the particular needed service revealed during the car inspection.

And speaking of cars; an unusual car turned up in our parking lot this past week. Wednesdays are the busiest days at the bishop’s storehouse during the week and so all people who work in the various Church offices in the building know this and everyone parks on the north side of the parking lot which frees up the south side of the lot for those coming to the bishop’s storehouse. This happened to also be a day when some workers from the local telephone/internet providers, Shaw Communications, were there to string a new line from their poles to the church offices. They wanted all vehicles cleared from one area of the parking lot while they were stringing wires. When I went outside to see which vehicles these might be, to my surprise, there sat a beautiful red Ferrari. Each of the offices was contacted to move their vehicles but no one claimed the Ferrari. Fearing that some car thief had possibly stashed the car there for a time, I went out and took pictures of the license plate, the VIN, etc. with a plan to inform the police if the car was still there later in the morning. The next time I looked out the car was gone but still no one knew anything about it. In any case, I couldn’t resist a vanity shot while the car was there. After all, I am a car guy! I think my knees would have a problem getting into and out of such a low-slung car, however. Do you know what sits in the back seat of a Ferrari? The engine!

Speaking of cars, this week I sold the Chevy Colorado truck we have had for a month, and I have a prospective buyer coming tomorrow who is very interested in the Dodge Caravan. Kathy and I also picked up two additional new Nissan Rogues early in the week. One of them has already gone south to Lethbridge and the Chevy Cruz it replaced is now sitting in the mission parking lot to be detailed and sold along with one other Cruz awaiting being sold. The latter car had been a loaner out to a pair of missionaries whose car had broken a timing chain which resulted in a total failure of the engine. It had to be towed to a Chevy dealer where they found a bent piston rod and some other damage. It could have been worse; sometimes when a timing chain or belt breaks, pistons are thrown through the side of an engine. Fortunately the Cruz was still under the 5-year drive train warranty so there was no charge for repairs. 

And now to the domestic front; we have bought a cherry tomato plant for our balcony so we will see how it goes. Since we have a south-facing apartment, it should do okay. We will keep you posted.

Yesterday we attended a baptism for a young man in his 20s who is Chinese and who was taught by our Mandarin speaking missionaries. The service was in the building where the Mandarin Branch meets and was done in Mandarin. Fortunately they have devices so we Anglos could each listen to the translation provided. It was a marvelous experience and was well attended by the Branch members.

Tonight we had the Elder and Sister Peppinger, a couple with whom we work in the mission office, here for dinner, and then we all went to a missionary fireside where President and Sister Miles were speaking. It has been a wonderful day.

We hope your week goes well. We love you all.

Evan & Kathy

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Less Stressful Week!

Wow, what a difference a week makes in the weather. This week we performed two different car inspections, 20 cars on Tuesday and 27 on Wednesday. This was done while the Elders and Sisters in two different parts of the north mission attended a temple session at the Calgary Temple followed by lunch and then their zone conference. The weather on both days was a comfortable temperature, around 82 degrees (28 degrees Celsius). We even got a little sunburned. This was in stark contrast to our experience the week before having 4 inches of wet sloppy snow fall on us during the car inspections. Given the beautiful weather, we could actually see the exterior of the cars so we were able to make a list of needed repairs and perform some minor repairs such as replacing worn windshield wipers. Since the Calgary Temple shares a parking lot with the Royal Oaks Ward building so it all worked out very well.

On Monday I was able to sell two of the older mission cars which have come out of the fleet. Both were Chevrolets, a Cruz and an Equinox. We still have a nice Chevy Colorado truck and a Dodge Caravan to sell.

During the car inspection on Tuesday we made an interesting discovery; the new Caravan we received about two weeks ago has no spare tire! The Dodge Caravan has a cranking system to lower the spare tire. Ordinarily it sits under the front row passenger seats. The device cranked with amazing ease but no spare tire appeared, just the device that connects to it, -  so I called the Dodge dealership involved in delivering the car to us. You won’t believe what I was told; “The spare tire is an accessory and must be ordered as an accessory item. The spare tire was not specified when the Church ordered the vehicle.” This is a new one for me. I was flabbergasted. I called the fleet managers at Church Headquarters and they, too, were amazed. They are working on resolving this for us. In the meantime I asked the Dodge fleet guy with whom we worked what it would cost. Are you ready for this: $712 CD (about $534 US)!

Other than the laborious task of putting the inspection results into the CARS system (entered item by item and one car at a time X 90 cars!), this has been a rather typical week so there isn’t much else to tell you except that it is finally raining. We have had rain on and off for over three days, sometimes mixed with some snowflakes. What a welcome blessing! It gets light now about 5:00 a.m. and I am enjoying being able to run outside. Lots of lilacs in bloom along my route but they are going fast. I have always loved the fragrance of lilacs; my personal favorite!

I am proud to tell you of the high school graduation of my twin grandsons, Ethan and Jonah. Their papers are in to serve missions so as the summer continues we will hope to hear where they will be assigned. They will both be great missionaries.

I’m sorry there were no new pictures to share this week.

Love, Elder and Sister Thorley

Sunday, May 15, 2016

So there we were when it started to snow……

We had a rather unique weather experience this week; one that I am not sure we will want to experience again for awhile. First let me lead into the story……

In last week’s blog I mentioned that our missionaries would have the opportunity to get together for a temple session, followed by lunch and a zone conference. Through much of Monday and Tuesday we prepared to make the trip to Cardston, Alberta, where the first of the temple visits and zone conferences would be held. This meant getting all of the car inspection stuff restocked and moved out into the mission truck which Elder and Sister Sefcik would be driving to Cardston along with a chest of drawers needed by one set of missionaries. Kathy and I would be driving a new Rogue to be swapped for an older Cruz which is to be sold. We loaded the Rogue with boxes containing copies of a booklet that Pres. and Sis. Miles have prepared for the missionaries who have gone home in the past few months. All of the missionaries presently serving have already received a copy of the same booklet. Because it is so much less expensive to mail stuff from the U.S., we would be taking advantage of this by hauling the mail across the border while in Cardston, which is just north of the border.

On Monday and Tuesday the weather was beautiful, and Wednesday was beautiful as well as we drove to Cardston. The weather forecasters, however, were warning of a change.

Arriving in Cardston, we checked into our motel and then drove south to Babb, Montana, which is just across the border. 

View of Old Chief Mountain from Babb, Montana
We carried in the boxes and boxes of mailing envelopes containing the booklets and the poor postmistress started the process of putting postage on each of the envelopes. Since it would take awhile for the postmistress to finish, Elder and Sister Sefcik and Kathy and I decided to take a drive to St Mary’s, just a bit further south, and continue on into the part of Glacier National Park that is nearby. For those who have not been there, may I say, this is a really beautiful area. I will include some pictures. The lake in the pictures is St. Mary’s Lake. Unfortunately, the area is still recovering from a couple of devastating fires, the last one just a year ago.

St Mary's Lake on the Northeastern edge of Glacier National Park
When we got back to the post office in Babb, the postmistress was finished with the mailers and so we paid for the postage and drove back to Cardston. We arrived back in time to go to the Cardston Temple to do a session. This is a beautifully unique temple and we greatly enjoyed the session and seeing the beauty of the building and the grounds.

While in the temple the clouds had started to thicken. Still the forecast was for light rain and cooler temperatures for Thursday. After returning to the motel, we had dinner and settled in for the night.

On Thursday morning, there was evidence of some very light rain having fallen sometime during the night. We went to breakfast and then to the Stake Center across from the Temple grounds where we set up for the missionaries and, as they arrived, we directed them to the respective zone parking areas. I have described before how we have the missionaries park their cars by zone, turn the front wheels all the way to the left, raise the hood, and leave the key on the front seat in preparation for the car inspections. Since we would have some 40 cars to inspect, I had asked one of the Cardston Wards to provide us with three pairs of men to help with the car inspections and they did. With the help our hope was to be finished by noon. The men arrived right on schedule and I gave them some instructions, a clipboard, a tire gauge, a tread depth measuring device, and we all went to work. Some light rain was falling as we began.

As we worked there was an occasional snowflake amid the drizzling rain, then there were a few more snowflakes, and soon the precipitation was more snow than rain. Then the fun began,  - the snowflakes got bigger and bigger so much so that we could barely see across the parking lot. The snowflakes became the size of silver dollars and soon it was impossible to adequately inspect for exterior cleanliness, windshield condition, or body and fender damage due to the sticking snow. To make a long wet story shorter, before we were finished some three hours later, the snow depth had reached 4 inches of wet, dense snow! By the time we were finished with the inspection we were all cold, wet, and ready to be done. The heavy snow continued through the lunch period and into the afternoon. Before it quit, the forecast of light rain showers had become 9 inches of snow. Our return trip to Calgary quickly revealed less and less snow and none some 20 miles further north at Ft Macleod. Fortunately, next week when we will do it all over again (twice more), the weather should be better, but we are wary of forecasts.

Friday was a more typical day; oil changes, cracked windshields, a set of lost keys, an impounded car, and a speeding ticket to deal with.

Love to you all.

Evan and Kathy

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Greetings from Canmore, Alberta!

Well, here we are in beautiful Canmore. Our mission president has encouraged us to get out of the office every now and then so we made plans and traveled here after work on Thursday. It has been wonderful. We will include lots of pictures so you can appreciate the area and just how magnificent it is. Canmore holds a special place in our hearts so we really looked forward to coming back.

In 2013 Kathy and I met online and began corresponding, then after several weeks we met in person in Sandy, Utah. Thereafter about once a month I would make the 700+ mile trip from Montana to Sandy so we could get to know each other better. After four months of dating we decided we were sufficiently interested in each other to consider making it permanent but we needed to spend more time together to see whether we were just friends, in love, or if we might get on each others nerves. Kathy and her late husband had owned a World Mark Timeshare plan which has potential destinations all over the western U.S. and into Canada so we discussed where we could go to take advantage of the plan. I noticed that one of the locations was just west of Calgary in the Canadian Rockies. Since my family and I had had such a great time at the Calgary Stampede back in the 1980s, I suggested to Kathy that we go there and she agreed. The timeshare was available so off we went. It was while in Canmore that we became engaged. So here we are back again. As was the case the first time, the weather has been remarkably beautiful and the mountains just as grand.

Friday we drove around the area including a scenic two-hour drive south through the mountains from Canmore. The pictures above are mostly from that drive. Breath taking! We saw an elk, several dear, and a mountain sheep. 

Friday evening we had dinner at a restaurant at the Silver Tip Golf Course with Elder and Sister Gardiner, a senior missionary couple who arrived quite recently from a town very near Vancouver, BC. For all you golfers out there, I have to tell you that this is one of the most spectacular golf courses I have ever seen, - on a par with Pebble Beach for sheer beauty. 

Today we joined Elder and Sister Gardiner again, this time to attend Church in nearby Banff. 

The Branch is quite small in numbers of local members but always has a varying number of visitors as was the case today; - Boise, Idaho, Cokeville, Wyoming, Vancouver, Alberta, and Calgary. The couple from Cokeville, Wyoming had a history very much like ours; both have spouses who had passed away and were recently married. 

Yesterday we walked around downtown Canmore and then met a couple, the Perdormos whom we know from our own ward in Calgary. Bro. Perdormo makes custom jewelry and has a cute little shop here in Canmore. 

He and his wife are our Home Teachers. They are both originally from Uruguay, lived in Brazil for a time, and later immigrated here to Alberta. They took us to a Brazilian Rodizio Grill called the Gaucho Grill. We had enough meat to last us for quite awhile!

Our work in the office this past week was pretty much routine so there is nothing particularly newsworthy to report. This next week starts a new round of zone conferences and car inspections. The zone conferences will start first in the south followed the next week by two zone conferences in the north. These will be special because the missionaries will be able to go to the temple in the morning and then meet for their respective zone conferences in the afternoon. Because we will be inspecting cars on Friday while the missionaries are in the temple, the office couples will go down to Cardston on Thursday evening so we can attend the temple ourselves. The Cardston Temple is one of the early temples in the Church and is quite unique so we are really looking forward to being there. Stay tuned next week for details.

So, in closing, Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers. We hope the day was wonderful and special. I got some roses for Kathy before we left so we hope they are still alive when we return later this evening.

We love you all.  Please join us praying for rain for Alberta, especially in the fire devastated area of Ft. McMurray. What a tragedy; 80,000 people had to be evacuated. There are many miraculous stories coming out of the tragedy. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Spring is truly here.

Despite a rather cool week, it is safe to say Spring is here; the leaves are out, many bushes and trees are in bloom, the days are noticeably longer, and my walk-jog-run activities have moved outside. I first go along the road you see southward down to the tall buildings in the distance, then west, then north, then south in a sort of rectangle and back to our building. 

Much more interesting than running inside of a heated parking garage. In one of first blogs I posted a wintertime picture when it was below zero outside. It is quite different now. In the second picture you can see the snow covered Canadian Rockies. This also is the view to the west from our balcony. In next week’s post I will show more of the mountains as we are headed to Canmore next weekend for a brief stay.

The car highlight, I suppose, for this past week was getting a new Dodge Caravan, a replacement for one of two Caravans in our fleet of cars. Except for being a different color and having the new car smell, it looks the same as the older Caravan proving that the design has not changed in a few years. As the district or zone leaders come to the office for supplies and mail, they are quick to notice a new car in the office parking lot. They come into the office and come to my desk, “This one is coming to us, right?” Sometimes I respond by asking, “Perhaps this car should go to the companionship that has the cleanest car. Would that be yours if we go out and look?” Usually this puts things back into perspective. Hmmmm, as I think about it; maybe that would work as a more serious incentive than a Subway gift card.

We have again had a rash of parking lot accidents over the past week. Fortunately there was only one case where the missionaries were at fault. The others involved people backing into missionary cars. This is always interesting when our missionaries are not the at fault party; I get a call from the at fault person wanting to know (as I would want to know if I were at fault) where the estimate is going to be done and how much it will cost. I usually have no idea at the time they call as the estimate is pending so I get their name and number and promise to keep them in the loop. What they are trying to decide, of course, is whether they want to pay out-of-pocket and avoid their insurance company either jacking up their monthly premium or dropping them altogether.

The best highlight of the week was the baptism of grandson, Austin, in Colorado. While we couldn’t be there in person we were there in spirit. I will include a picture of Austin and his proud father. We, too, are so proud of Austin and the handsome and good young man he is turning out to be.

After our weekly visit to the Calgary Temple we shot some pictures looking out to the Calgary skyline. This is taken from the hill where the temple sits. In the next picture, which is just to the west of the skyline shot, is the site of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. This is known locally as COP, Calgary Olympic Park. The ski runs stay busy all winter long with day and night skiing but the snow is nearly gone. Unfortunately, most of the snow this year was man made.

We drive along the bottom end of the ski jump each Friday on our way returning to our apartment from the temple.

The final picture I will include is a visit to the downtown Calgary’s Knox United Church for a choral presentation. A friend and ward member who sings with “The Festival Chorus” knows of our involvement with choral groups in the Salt Lake area and invited us to attend. It was wonderful. The choral group was excellent, the soloists were great, and the orchestra was superb. 

Attending the concert was the first time we have been downtown other than to drive through since we arrived on our mission. We visited downtown briefly when we were here two years ago during the Calgary Stampede but there is obviously much to see and do so we plan to spend much more time there. We hope you will visit Calgary this summer and go with us.

Have a wonderful week!