So many cars in so many places……
What a week! This was the week for quarterly zone conferences, and with zone conferences also comes the time for car inspections. On Tuesday we (Elder and Sister Sefcik, Sister Thorley, Elder Peppinger, and I) inspected 28 cars, then 22 on Wednesday, 16 on Thursday, and 14 on Friday. The first two were done in the Calgary area and the last two in the southern part of the mission which required a trip to Lethbridge, and then on to Tabor east of Lethbridge. The visit to Tabor was our first and it proved to be a bigger community than we had expected. Tabor is famous for its wonderful sweet corn in the summer. We had it several times in late summer and into the fall and can authoritatively say, “It is great!”
Rather than have the missionaries travel in marginal weather from British Columbia, President and Sister Miles and Elder and Sister Sefcik will make the trip there on Tuesday for the zone conference. Elder Sefcik is the mission housing coordinator and has to go to Cranbrook anyway to close out one of the apartments so, lucky them, they will finish the car inspections while there. Fortunately, the weather this past week was much improved from the bitter cold we had been experiencing. We were praying for more temperate weather and our prayers were answered!
Car inspections are not very fun, especially in cold weather (or hot) but are necessary to identify what needs to be done for the upkeep of the mission cars. The inspections also hold the missionaries responsible for the upkeep and care expected of them as car stewards. Like the apartments, the care sometimes gets too casual and so both cars and apartments get inspected on a regular basis. I am typically one of the presenters at each zone conference as one of my duties is to touch on some aspect of safety and the appropriate upkeep of the cars. After my presentation, Kathy awards Subway gift cards to the winners of the cleanest car contest.
The actual inspections are just the start of the process for me. After returning to the office, I have to enter the inspection findings in to the data base for each car in the fleet. I also telephone each pair of missionaries having a car with a problem and discuss with them where to take the car and what needs to be done, then arranging for this at the service facility. This includes oil changes not caught in the regular scheduling process, new tires, body and fender repairs, etc. We take to the inspection sites an air compressor, wiper blades, light bulbs, common small repair parts, extra oil, windshield washer solution, antifreeze, brake fluid, and a battery or two to make whatever repairs we can on the spot and to top off fluids.
Continued monitoring of the condition of our cars and arranging for (or providing) timely upkeep for the mission cars is not a mystery, particularly in Church circles. As a consequence, we have a fairly long list of potential buyers. When cars don’t move fairly quickly, they go to the auction where they also do quite well. I have mentioned in past blogs what is involved with car sales and this keeps me quite busy; however, during car inspection time I have to curtail car sales as I simply can’t be here to facilitate the sale and there is more than once person can accomplish.
The older cars are brought to Calgary to be prepped and sold when they get around 80,000 km (about 50,000 miles). Selling and replacing the cars is an ongoing process and a big part of my job. We now have several additional cars on order to replace some of the older cars and they will begin arriving in about six weeks at which time the process of replacing cars, moving cars around, prepping them, and putting them up for sale begins all over again.
So, that has been our week. I am so grateful for Kathy and the others in the office for helping with the car inspections. We work in teams; they do the inspections while I go from car to car checking all the fluids and topping them off as needed plus the minor repairs and part replacements. Needless to say, we are not in our suits and office attire when we are out doing inspections. Some time ago Kathy and I bought a shopping cart to help with transporting groceries from our car up to our 12th floor apartment. This cart also gets used at inspection time to transport the jugs of oil, antifreeze, and other fluids from car to car. The cart has proved to be a great investment.
We have one more quarterly car inspection and then it will be time to return home (late May).
Have a great week, and may your car problems be few!