Sunday, September 11, 2016

Zone Conferences, car inspections, a birthday, and a whole lot more……..

Blog of September 10, 2016


Usually we don’t have zone conferences immediately following transfer week but such was the case this past week with hardly time to catch our collective breath before we were on the road again. Monday morning involved a concerted effort to get a bit caught up before loading up what would be needed for the car inspections and for missionary instruction. Preparing for the inspections involves printing out a separate sheet by vehicle identification number for each car. The inspection sheets show what failed to pass inspection the previous inspection and a list of repair items for that car previously. These sheets can’t be printed out until all the changes in the missionary assignments had been completed late last week.

We are equipped to do limited repairs on our mission vehicles and we keep a supply of items that are relatively easy to replace such as wiper blades, light bulbs, some filters, floor mats, window scrapers, tire gauges, etc.  We also keep a supply of a few trim type body parts that can be replaced easily and prove to be frequently needed. We keep containers of synthetic oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, and windshield washer solution. All this is kept on a pallet in our storage area and we roll this out and load it all onto the mission truck which we drive to each zone conference location. 2-3 zones meet with the mission president each day in the different locations around the mission. While the missionaries meet with President and Sister Miles, Elder and Sister Sefcik and my wife and I do the car inspections. This includes topping off fluids, checking on engines for smooth starting and running, checking on tire wear and tire pressures, determining if windshields need to be replaced or if dings need to be repaired, checking to see if lights, windshield wipers, horn, seatbelts and other safety features are all operating properly, and then rating the cars as to cleanliness of the interior and exterior and overall good care of the car. At each conference we award the drivers having the best-maintained cars with food gift cards. 

Late Monday afternoon we drove to Lethbridge and stayed overnight in a hotel. Then on Tuesday morning we drove a few blocks to the designated gathering point at one of our Lethbridge churches. We have to arrive before the bulk of the missionaries arrive and direct them to park according to their particular zone. They pull into the assigned area, turn the front wheels all the way to the left, raise the hood, take everything out of the trunk and the back seat, leave their keys and their car log on the car seat, and go into the building for their conference. We had 21 cars to inspect that day. The weather was very nice and the inspections went smoothly. We finished around 12:30 p.m., ate lunch with the missionaries, and then gave a presentation on vehicle safety, gas card receipt handling and log book maintenance, and awarded the gift cards. We two couples then loaded everything up and drove to Cardston where we were to stay for the next two nights.

The next zone conference would not happen until Thursday; however, instead of returning all the way to Calgary on Tuesday, only to turn around and drive all the way south to Cardston, the Sefciks and Kathy and I had decided to stay in Cardston on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 

Chief Mountain just southwest of Cardston

On Tuesday night Kathy and I walked around a bit and took some pictures around the Cardston Temple. 

Temple grounds walkway

After it got dark we had a very pleasant visit with the couple who were manning the visitor center, - both long time residents of Cardston and had served a mission earlier in Ireland. They were able to share some very interesting historical information with us including the tremendous difficulties the temple had gone through in the Depression years. Many of the pews and light fixtures were sold to help meet costs for operating the temple and pay for expenses such as light and heat. Later when the temple was renovated (actually restored in this case), which took three years, a call went out to identify where the pews and fixtures had ended up. Many were still in the local area and were either given back to the temple or were purchased. This allowed for the original splendor to be restored. The temple has one of the most beautiful interiors, in my estimation, of any and is truly a work of art. It was originally built in the early 1900s and the woodworking and artwork is spectacular. 

Temple with newer enclosed courtyard - Beautiful inside with running fountain and flowers

Cardston Temple at twilight

Elder Sefcik’s great-grandfather fell from a tall scaffolding during the finish work being done on the inside of the temple and was killed; this was, fortunately, the only death during the construction.  In more recent years the fountain and the courtyard approach to the temple were enclosed and it is magnificent.

On Wednesday morning we met the Sefciks for breakfast and drove south from Cardston across the U.S. – Canadian border, then along the St. Mary’s Lake and up and over into Glacier National Park. 

Northern end of St Mary's Lake

Western end of St Mary's Lake

The higher we went the more cloudy and misty it became, but this only added to the intrigue as we could occasionally glimpse down the steep mountainsides through gaps in the clouds. 

New snow is visible to the eye high up but not to the camera I guess

Breathtaking, especially as you peer over the side of the road!

Some waterfalls are still running this late in the season

Later as we walked through a cedar grove on the west side of the Park, we enjoyed the lush tropical setting including some rain as well. On the return up and over the Logan Pass, we could see a layer of new snow in the mountaintops. Winter is coming to Glacier National Park! 

That same evening, we again joined the Sefciks and went to the Calgary Temple for a session and then to dinner.  

Thursday morning the day started out sunny and a bit windy. We made good time with the car inspections and were finished before it was time to join the missionaries for lunch. We inspected 18 cars that morning and then gave our presentation again to the missionaries gathered there. The Thursday zone conference involved a car swap at the end of the conference so this added a new wrinkle to the day. Because all of our mission cars are licensed in Alberta, the cars serving in the British Columbia part of our mission can only be in B.C. for a maximum of six months, otherwise they have to be registered in B.C. as well. The cost of licensing and registering a car in B.C. is much more expensive than is true in Alberta, hence the reason for only registering them in Alberta. Knowing this, we had to have the six cars from B.C. Zone swap for six of the cars from the Cardston Zone. Adding to the confusion was introducing one new Nissan Rogue (which Kathy and I drove on our trip south) into the mix and bringing back a Chevrolet Equinox, a high mileage car needing to be sold. The Equinox also has some hail damage to the body and on our way back to Calgary, we went through some intense rain with some hail mixed in but I don’t think it added to the hail damage.

Friday was a very busy day getting caught up on work that had piled up and with arranging for repairs and service items for the cars identified in the inspections.

Yesterday, Saturday, we mostly rested up and cleaned the apartment, then joined the Sefciks and the Peppingers for some pizza and to watch the BYU-Utah football game. Fortunately the game was carried on Fox, which we get here in Calgary.

This week was Kathy’s birthday. We celebrated it by inspecting cars! - not the way she would have preferred it, I’m sure, but she has had birthday all week long including being sung to by the missionaries, flowers, cards, and calls. I just asked, and she said, “It was a poopy birthday!” Next year we’ll do better.

We love you all and hope your week goes well.

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