July 3, 2016
Things were pretty quiet in the office this week, in part because of the events leading to and then the celebration of Canada Day, which is officially on July 1st. More particularly, it was quiet due to the fact that most missionaries were on foot the last week or two of the month. Going to Lethbridge a couple of weeks ago for Elder Nelson’s visit really ate into the total allotment of kilometers that each driving missionary pair had for the month. Once their allotted kilometers were gone they were on foot or on bikes. Somehow that also translated to a lot fewer calls to the office. I had time to continue my efforts to purge old and outdated stuff from the files.
One of my duties here in the mission is to serve as a Mission Medical Advisor (MMA). I should say a few words about that. In each mission the person who has primary responsibility for missionary health is the mission president’s wife (MPW). She is assisted by former health care professionals who are serving in the mission, or by retired medical persons living in the area, but she is at the center of all things health related.
Many missions have people called to that mission with the primary responsibility of assessing the health needs of the missionaries, teaching health and hygiene, keeping track of the medical records of those serving, and by maintaining a list of approved and prearranged facilities where missionaries can be referred for care. Since there is no medical missionary assigned here in the Canada Calgary Mission, Sister Miles, knowing of my past career in medicine, asked that I receive the same training offered to those who are called as health care missionaries. I did this in Salt Lake City prior to Kathy and I going to the MTC. The training focused on acquainting those serving with the Church insurance program, treatment policies, how to arrange referrals, how to use the 24-hour advice line the Church maintains, the purpose of and how to work with Area Medical Authorities (AMAs - physicians who serve to advise a whole cluster of missions), and the variety of problems missionaries have including the mental health issues of depression and anxiety and the many ways these problems are manifest.
Now more to the point; MMAs and AMAs don’t actively treat the missionaries as patients; rather they see, evaluate, and make recommendations to the MPW (and to the missionary) for treatment, which then, if needed, is arranged with an actual medical clinician in the local area. As implied, not all missionary health complaints require being seen by a local physician. This week, for example, I saw several missionaries at the request of the MPW. One Elder had injured his finger playing basketball on P-Day. No specialist treatment seemed indicated so the finger was splinted and will be watched. A Sister has had knee pain apparently due to increased walking now that nicer summer weather is here. This was found to be a hamstring bursitis and did not prove to be associated with her knee joint. Localized treatment measures, a short course of anti-inflammatories, and some stretching exercises should gradually help her, so no referral to an orthopedist was felt to be needed. Another missionary has numbness and tingling of the arm, either right or left depending on which shoulder he carries his backpack. He should do well by carrying a lighter load and by holding the bag by the hand strap instead of using the shoulder strap (in the military we call this “rucksack palsy”). Another missionary was seen earlier with a complaint of recurrent ingrown great toenails. He was referred to a local podiatrist who performed a toenail reduction procedure. We are following his progress and healing. And tomorrow I will accompany an Elder home to the Salt Lake airport with some health related problems that are not resolving. (I’ll probably have more to say about the trip in next week’s blog.)
Canada Day is not celebrated with quite as much fanfare as the people in the U.S. celebrate the 4th of July but it is a national holiday so most offices and many businesses were closed. We did keep the mission office open but had few calls. We had Elder and Sister Peppinger join us for dinner here in our apartment that evening and afterward we went up to the 17th floor observation area of our building where we enjoyed the beautiful sunset and view of the downtown area. This would have been a great vantage point to watch the fireworks downtown, but, as the fireworks wouldn’t start until 11:00 p.m. (remember how late it stays light here in the summer), we gave up and called it a night before the fireworks began. I will include some pictures taken from the observation area.
Yesterdy it was such a beautiful day I decided to take a long run (actually much of it was walking as well) along the southern side of Glenmore Reservoir and around the western end where the Bow River suns into the reservoir, an area called Weaselhead. It is so still and nice except for the sounds of nature and the occasional sound of an overhead jet or helicopter. It will be come a favorite place to run and I hope to eventually make my way all around this very large reservoir, but this will be in stages as the distance is too far for me to attempt to run it in one day. Even by bike it takes hours to go all the way around the reservoir.
Last night we had a special evening out with President and Sister Miles, the Peppingers, and the Sefciks – all missionary couples with whom we work so closely. The Sefciks are from Calgary and made us aware of a popular local dinner theater called Stage West, so some time ago we picked a night and made reservations for a production called, “Legends of Rock and Roll”. It was wonderful! The dinner proved to be a huge buffet of salads, fruits, meats, fish, poultry, breads, and deserts. The dining room looked onto a large stage where the show took place after an hour or so of eating. The desert bar remained open through the intermission. I will include a few pictures from Stage West as well.
Today in Church we got to stand and sing all verses of “O Canada”. While I had heard the first verse multiple times before, it was a treat to sing all of the verses and ponder the meaning. Like the “Star-Spangled Banner”, we get familiar with the first verse but the others verses have such great meaning and emotion. Anyway, it was wonderful to sing all of the verses. Truly Canada and the U.S. have been blest nations. The future survival of good and right in both nations is of concern to me. I hope you will join with me in praying and working for reason and right to prevail. I shudder to think of what the next four years will bring since both U.S. presidential candidates are prime examples of greed and corruption; two people who feel that they are above the law. Truly, how did this happen that we have two such horrible choices?! To quote from Alma 60:9-10 – “And now behold, I say unto you, I fear exceedingly that the judgments of God will come upon this people, because of their exceeding slothfulness, yea, even the slothfulness of our government, and their exceedingly great neglect towards their brethren…… For were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head, we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us.”