Sunday, January 1, 2017

Goodbyes, New Years Eve, and more snow........

Blog for January 1, 2017

We have had to say goodbye to some more great missionaries.


It is always sad to see our missionaries go but it is important for them to get on with their lives and reconnect with family and friends. Facebook makes it easy to reconnect with many after they get home, - sometimes it is like the very next day we see a friend request! While senior couples can have Facebook pages, the young missionaries don’t, at least while they are here in the mission. It doesn’t take long for them to reactive their page once they get home. It is fun to hear through the grapevine and on Facebook of those who might be dating as a result of an initial acquaintance while serving here. We know of at least one engagement announcement between two of our missionaries. Quite a few others who have gone home are engaged and even married but not necessarily to missionaries they met here.

Like Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, snow began on New Year’s Eve day and continued into New Years Day so I fear tomorrow will begin a new round of missionary car accidents, especially since it is their Preparation Day. There is a definite connection to a spike in accidents and P-day activities.

We have had an enjoyable but hectic week. It was highlighted by picking up the missionaries preparing to return home and going with them to the Calgary Temple on Tuesday

On Wednesday we drove them to the airport on where we said goodbye. 

During the week I also sold another couple of cars, and I coordinated repair items and detailing of other cars being prepared for sale.

I mentioned missionary accidents above; almost daily in this kind of weather I receive a phone call or  two from a pair of missionaries who have been involved in an accident. This begins a cascade of events. First I guide them through the online process of reporting an incident. This generates an electronic file and then I prepare a paper file to monitor progress with the repair. This paper file will eventually end up in the car’s maintenance file when all actions are completed. The electronic file also goes to our insurance claims manager in Ontario who directs a request for an estimate and pictures. I have to arrange this. Once the estimate and pictures are received, I send these electronically to the insurance managers. They work through an independent appraiser company and a price is set for the repairs. I get a notice that the repair has been approved at which time I inform the missionaries that they can set up an appointment for the repair. Once the repair has been completed, the repair facility is paid (often I have to cosign the check) and the missionaries get their car back. During the interim they have to walk or make other arrangements for getting around to their appointments. This process takes considerable time out of my day. In the meantime I am on the phone about needed oil changes, tire purchases, windshield replacements or repairs of rock chips, gas card issues, speeding tickets, and with the end of the year, getting all the vehicle registrations renewed. Then there are all the details of preparing cars for sale, working with potential car buyers, and keeping track of where all 98 cars are and what is needed to keep them going. It is a busy job and most days I can do it cheerfully. In most missions the vehicle coordinator (AKA the Car Czar) is known by the missionaries as the grumpy one in the office. I am sure I sometimes come across this way. This is situational; for example:
            Phone rings……
            Missionary (driver), “We were driving into the Church parking lot and we slid into a bush.”
            Me: “So is everything okay?”
            Missionary: “We think we cracked the bumper.”
            Me: “Hitting a bush cracked the bumper?”
            Missionary: “Well, yah”
            Me: “So the bumper is cracked. Is the car driveable?”
            Missionary: “We think so, but now the check engine light is on…….and the engine is making a funny noise.”
            Me: “Can you describe the noise?”
            Missionary: “I think my companion can describe it best.” Companion makes a clicking noise.
            Me: “Does the clicking noise speed up as the engine speeds up?”
            Missionaries: “Yes. And it gets louder.”
            Me: “Have you looked to see if there is something broken, or can you see something that the engine is hitting as it turns?”
            Missionaries: “We’re not sure. We can’t really see anything.”
            Me: “Where exactly are you?” And the conversation continues as I determine where they are and who I can arrange to look “more officially” at the car. We determine that the car should at least get them to a repair facility that is not too far away. Once there and the mechanic takes a quick look at the car and the conversation continues…..
            Mechanic: “The bumper is badly broken and is hanging down. The radiator has been broken from all four of its mounts and the fan is hitting the radiator. The A/C condenser is broken off from its mount,”….and the list goes on for awhile.
            Me: (thinking……all this from hitting a bush.) “Elders, this is a lot of damage. Did you hit anything else?”
            Missionary: “Well, we kind of hit the curb also.”
            Me: “So what did you hit first?”
            Missionary: “The curb, - but the curb didn’t stop us. It was the bush.”
            Me: (Me - thinking, “Oh, brother!”) “Elder’s, don’t you think that the curb was what really did the damage; the curb is hard concrete. What happened when you hit the curb?”
            Missionary: “Well, we bounced up and then we slid until we hit the bush.”
            Me: (Thinking, “good grief!....Now we are getting somewhere.”) “So you hit the curb hard enough that you bounced up on to it and continued to slide until you finally stopped when you got to the bush?
Missionaries: “Yes, that sounds about right.”
Me: “Okay, Elders; the damage is going to take some time to repair. In the meantime you will be walking to your appointments. We are going to need mechanical work on the engine and the radiator, and then when that is done, it will be several more days getting the bumper fixed and whatever else needs repairing on the body of the car.” (I’m thinking, “And maybe when you finally get the car back, you will appreciate it more and be more careful.”)
            Me: “So what have you learned from this experience?”
            Missionaries: “Maybe that we need to be more careful?”
            Me: “Yes, you do need to be more careful, but you also need to learn that you cannot drive as fast when there’s snow and ice on the roads.”
            Missionaries: “Can we get another car until this one is fixed?”
            Me: “No.”

So perhaps being grumpy comes with the territory. Previously Kathy and I had been asked to speak in our Sacrament Meeting. My assigned topic today was, “What can we learn about patience from the example and teachings of Jesus Christ?” Certainly I need to learn to be more patient, but my tolerance for avoidable accidents, I’m afraid, is going down.

And finally, we had a very nice New Years Eve gathering at the home of the local couple with whom we work in the office, the Sefciks. We played games and ate Chinese take out and barely stayed awake until midnight. It was fun and the food was excellent, but as soon as the New Year officially arrived, we were out the door and on our way home. We had to drive in the deepening snow but fortunately the roads were pretty much deserted. I suspect the traffic picked up again once the revelers left their reveling and hit the roads, but by that time we were home safe in bed, which is where old folks should spend New Year’s Eve.

We hope you had a wonderful New Years Eve. It will be interesting to see what 2017 will bring to each of us, to say the least.

We love and miss you all.

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