Sunday, September 25, 2016

What, - you couldn't find our blog last week? ........

Blog for September 26, 2016

New snow on the western mountains 9/23/16

If you looked for last week’s blog and didn’t see it, it was for a good reason, - it wasn’t there. This blog will cover the past two weeks.

Last weekend we were in Montana for a great family occasion. Prior to that was a busy week of zone conferences and car inspections and the arrival of nine new Nissan Rogues to be placed in our mission fleet.

Nine new Rogues added to the mission fleet

The arrival of these new Rogues will complete the current round of expected new vehicles. These cars are gradually replacing vehicles that are due to come out of the fleet and be sold. Determining which cars need to come out of the fleet is the easy part; how and where to make the swap, getting all the paperwork ready for the swap, and shuttling the cars to the exchange location and getting the older cars back to the office is the more challenging part of the process. Then there is the problem of having the new vehicles show up in the fleet inventory so that they can be assigned to specific areas. Until the cars are available in the inventory electronically and are “clickable” by mouse, they can’t be assigned to an area and a driver. This complicates things greatly. Weeks pass before the specific vehicle shows up on the list of mission cars, so, until then they exist physically but not electronically.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job as Fleet Coordinator is to call the missionary pair who will be getting one of the new vehicles and inform them. This is usually met with a very brief moment of silence followed by exclamations of, “Oh, Wow!” “No way!” “Are you kidding?” “When do we get it?” It is also a moment of leverage; I tell them. “It won’t happen unless the car you have to exchange is absolutely clean.” So far, so good; no one’s new car has been withheld because of the old one not being clean. It works so well in fact, maybe I should assign new cars as determined by who keeps the cleanest cars. :^)

The challenge I have now we are back from our short trip to Montana is to get them prepped and ready for sale. Some are hail-damaged cars and whether the hail damaged vehicle gets repaired and sold or the car is “totaled” is a decision made by the Church fleet managers in Salt Lake City. For my part I have to get a cost of repairs estimate on each hail damaged car; then this cost estimate is factored into the value of the vehicle after local repairs verses what the insurance return is for the car if determined to be a “total loss”. Fortunately I don’t have to make this decision, but waiting for the Church fleet people to make this decision does slow up the selling process. Selling the car “as is” at a discounted price is also factored in but usually doesn’t happen. Again, for my part, there is no point in repairing dings, dents, and scratches and having the cars detailed and readied for sale if the car is also hail-damaged and will be totaled.

Last weekend was spent in eastern Montana, primarily Miles City. 

We filled the entire table at Mexico Lindos and a side table

The principal purpose of the trip was to be with family for a special occasion. All four daughters and their families were gathering along with us to see my twin grandsons, Ethan and Jonah, off for their own LDS missions. They will both be trained in American Sign Language. One will be serving in the Los Angeles area and the other in the Rochester, New York area. They will enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on October 5th. Both have some experience in ASL as they have a deaf sibling. Kathy and I drove to Billings and met their parents and them at the Billings Temple, then later in the day we drove to Miles City where they live. Some of you will recall that, following retirement, my first wife and I lived in Miles City for a time until she passed away in January of 2013. It was after that when I met my present wife and moved away from Miles City.

Ethan and Jonah and their parents all spoke in the Miles City Ward Sacrament Meeting and did such a good job. It seems so strange that Ethan and Jonah, who were just infants when their family moved to Miles City some 16 years ago, are now approaching adulthood and leaving for missions. The whole family is shown in the picture that follows.

Proud parents, one pregnant mama, and two missionary sons

After four biological children, my oldest daughter and her husband have adopted several children, - from China, Haiti, and Ethiopia. And now, wait for this……….my daughter is pregnant and expecting another son. The last time she was pregnant was 17 years ago when the twins were born. Their older brother, Joshua, also served a mission and has been home for two years now. He is now a Junior at BYU and has a wonderful wife, Natalie. Joshua left for his mission in 2012, just prior to my first wife’s death. So much history is such a short time!

Goofy Whicker family

On Kathy’s and my return to Canada from Montana, we stopped to visit some dear friends, the Huffs, whom I haven’t seen since 1980. They live in Havre, Montana. We had a wonderful reunion and had much to talk about as 36 years have passed since we were last together. Huffs, too, have served a mission and did so in Ithica, New York. They returned from their mission a couple of years ago.

On the way from Havre, we passed through an area in Alberta called Cyprus Hills, a beautiful mountain area that exists out in what is otherwise some pretty boring and flat prairie land. 

Cyprus Hills, Alberta

Afterwards we stopped in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and caught the last part of the missionaries’ district conference. Following their meeting, we treated them all to lunch. We enjoy seeing each of the areas where our missionaries serve. I was impressed that Medicine Hat is a thriving, beautiful city; not at all what I expected. We were told by the missionaries that we needed to see the world’s largest teepee and so we did. See below. We weren’t very impressed as it is more of a teepee frame than a true teepee. Oh well, it is a tourist stop and now we can say we saw it as well. 

World's Largest Teepee, Medicine Hat, Alberta

This week back in Calgary it was time to play catch up which required putting in some extra hours after the office had closed. Particularly this involves putting all the recent car inspections into the computer, and it requires contacting the missionaries regarding some of the issues that were made apparent in our car inspections such as the need for oil changes, some needing tires and windshield replacements.

The weather has been beautiful, and although a bit past its prime, Autumn is in full display here in Alberta. Yesterday we took a number of pictures to try to capture the beauty here this time of year. 

Calgary street, Autumn September 2016

Autumn at the Glenmore Reservoir

Add caption

Weaselhead in Autumn

The air is getting crisp and cool and nighttime temperatures have been hovering around the freezing mark. We just harvested what will probably be the last of the cherry tomatoes from our plant out on the balcony of our apartment.

We wish you a wonderful Fall season. We love and miss each of you, especially our families. It was wonderful to see my daughters and each of my grandchildren last weekend. Our prayers go with Jonah and Ethan as they leave for their own missionary service.

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