Sunday, October 16, 2016

New cars are nice but ..................

October 16, 2016

New cars are nice but…………

Winter in Heritage Park

We’re not ready for winter, - emotionally, or physically. Can’t we just postpone it for another few more months, but, like it or not, winter is here. We got snow each day over the last weekend and into the early week. Fortunately, we have had more temperate weather since, which is much more to our liking, and the snow has melted.

On Monday the office was closed for Canadian Thanksgiving. Kathy and I celebrated by returning to Heritage Park and to the winter wonderland there. We had dinner in the Wainwright Hotel and then returned home. It was enjoyable despite the snow and cold. I spent the better part of the day trying to get caught up on a mountain of paperwork which I will explain below.

As the title of this blog states, new cars are nice but a whole lot of work comes with their arrival. As mentioned last week, we received six new Toyota RAV 4s, and another six are due to arrive tomorrow. Let me give you an idea of what must be done for each new vehicle and why the arrival of new cars is a lot of work:
*First an inspection form has to be created and an inspection has to be done to certify the car is ready to go, no damage was done at the dealers, and the ordered equipment and necessary transfer paperwork is in place.
*Each vehicle has to have a car specific file made, both a physical file and an electronic one.
*A brass ID plate has to be created which is attached to each set of keys. This requires stamping out the vehicle VIN and the license plate one letter/number at a time onto a brass circle that is about 1.5 inches in diameter.
*A key box is prepared by attaching an ID label and the spare key is placed inside. Once the car is assigned to a specific area, this key box is placed in a container holding the spare keys for each vehicle in a particular zone.
*A car log book must be prepared for each vehicle and placed in a plastic bag along with an envelope containing the car registration, the insurance ID card, and forms to be used in the event of an accident.
*A car maintenance folder is prepared into which all maintenance items and inspection forms are to be placed by the missionaries as maintenance happens.
*A gas card (credit card) has to be assigned to each car and this requires an electronic assignment of the card to each specific vehicle.
*Now the car is ready to be assigned to an area but this area may be over 300 miles away so a plan must be developed for how to get the car to that area.

For each car going to an area, an older car needs to come out of that area and this triggers yet another series of actions:
*A car exchange form needs to be prepared showing by VIN, license number, car description, and assigned gas card to track which car is going in and which car is coming out of an area.
*Usually the older car coming out of an area is one being considered for sale. This car is brought to the mission office.
*An inspection form must be generated for the older car and a thorough inspection done to identify everything that must be done to prepare the car for sale. This includes checking for old oil, worn tires, missing floor mats, failing batteries, burned out bulbs, making a listing of body and paint defects, dings, and dents and anything else that may need to be replaced or repaired. All of these must be arranged through the various vendors we use for repairs and maintenance.

As you can see, moving and placing multiple vehicles translates into an abundance of coordination and scheduling. Once a car has all of these items corrected, it is ready for detailing and this, too, must be scheduled. Once detailing has occurred, the vehicle needs to have a set of photographs taken which are sent electronically to Salt Lake City for pricing. I maintain a list of interested buyers and I keep them advised regarding what cars are coming up for sale, but the item they most want to know is the cost, and this is the last step in the process. Now the “buyers” show up to try out the car and, if they like the car and the price, they pay with a bank draft and away goes the car. Whew!

One of the frustrations I have in the process is the time it takes for the new cars to be reflected in the church car inventory. Until the vehicle appears officially in the fleet as assigned to the mission, I am unable to complete the electronic assignment of the new car, - it is not “clickable”. While it exists in reality it does not exist electronically. Sometimes it takes weeks to show up in the inventory so I have to remember during the interim what I did with each new car.

So, enough about cars except to say, the process is very time consuming, and trying to keep all of this straight is a challenge while taking calls from the 200 missionaries with car related problems - oil changes, tire problems, gas card issues, cars that won't start, streaky wiper blades, accidents, etc. I hope none of this sounds like complaining; it is what the job requires and mostly it is very rewarding. I have a chance to teach and demonstrate car maintenance skills that these young Elders and Sisters will remember when they have their own cars (but then their car problems will be their own!). 

We were delighted to read emails posted by our twin grandsons who are currently in the Missionary Training Center. They are learning American Sign Language along with how to teach and how to be effective missionaries. We are delighted to hear of their progress and their growing love for the work despite the challenges of learning a “foreign” language.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them daily. We know what a wonderful yet challenging experience being at the MTC can be.

Other activities - On Wednesday Kathy and I drove a missionary with a chronic but manageable illness to and from a specialist in Lethbridge. On Thursday we participated with others from our ward in the ward’s periodic cleaning assignment at the Calgary Temple, and then on Friday we made our weekly visit to the temple to do some family names. On Saturday we participated in a special event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Calgary North Stake. This was a huge celebration with activities and food in every room of the stake center. All of the missionaries in the North Stake as well as we office workers were asked to be there to assist in the event. The missionaries worked as greeters, food preparers, food servers, etc. Kathy and I cooked over 600 quesadillas during the course of the evening as others placed them out on tables under food warmers. Other rooms had roast beef sliders, pulled pork, salads, and then at 9:00 p.m. the deserts appeared. There was live entertainment and dancing. The decorations were beautiful. All around the hallways surrounding the Cultural Hall there were pictures and displays of significant events involving the stake over the past 50 years. It was truly a great event. I will include a number of pictures to give you some ideas. 

Missionaries waiting for assignments

Guests are arriving - time to get to work

L -> R: Sis Jacobi (Germany), Elder Reetz (Illinois), Elder Chen (Taiwan), Sis. McDonald (Canadian) 

Elder Peppinger, Sister Sefcik, Elder Sefcik

Elders Fellows, Elder Klingensmith, Elder Bryner, Elder King (all from the U.S. I think)

Live music, dancing, good food

Whoever said, “Mormons don’t know how to have a good time.” was sorely wrong!

We love and miss you all. Stay warm, and above all, acknowledge the Lord’s blessings in your life. Remember: “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” (D&C 59:21)

Evan and Kathy Thorley

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