Sunday, April 2, 2017

General Conference and Transfer Week, and, oh yes, a birthday came and went…….

I am preparing this between sessions of LDS General Conference so it is very much on my mind. Unfortunately, the local community service TV channel decided not to carry the Conference as in previous years. Fortunately, the Internet provides a way to watch so we haven’t missed a thing.

This morning, and all of this past week, I have been able to run outside and am so pleased to be able to resume running out of doors. With all the snow that melted during the week, I decided to try the Glenmore Reservoir trail (asphalt) and was delighted to find it clear of snow and ice for the most part. As you will see in the pictures below, nothing turning green yet, but it will come. The trail along the shore of the reservoir is still muddy with some patches of snow.

Dry Glenmore Reservoir Trail - ready for use

The Weaselhead in early Spring

The trail immediately along the reservoir - muddy and not yet ready for running

It is so nice to have more daylight to enjoy. With the resumption of daylight savings time, the sun is now well up before we go to work and it stays light until well after we get home. By the time we go home in late May, it will again be light from around 4:00 a.m. until well after 11:30 p.m. I was recalling recently that the Calgary Stampede fireworks display this past summer didn’t begin until nearly midnight because it was not dark enough to enjoy it fully until then. And speaking of fully enjoying the fireworks, it didn’t quite happen that way for us; we were poised to watch it from our apartment building but decided we were more interested in turning in so we gave up and went to bed. I guess we are getting old.

Transfer Week

And speaking of old, my birthday was on Wednesday. Before the day was over I was tired and feeling pretty old. It was a long day. We had a group of new missionaries arrive on Wednesday morning and it is a part of my duties to go to the airport and haul at least some of them (and all their luggage) to the mission home. The remainder are driven by the mission president and the Assistants in their vehicles. After their arrival at the mission home, those of us who work in the office (housing, cars, supplies, finance, etc.) provide them the necessary training for how things are done in the mission and how we are there to help them with their work. Afterward it was back to the office to prepare things for transfers the next day. Kathy and I stopped on our way home and had a nice dinner at a restaurant we like and finally got home about 8:30 p.m.

On their travel day, the missionary day begins around 2:30 a.m. when they get up to finish packing, have breakfast, and leave the MTC in Provo to get to the Salt Lake Airport for their flight. This time their flights took them to Seattle where they had to change planes, and then continued on to Calgary. It makes for a long day for them, so having to sit through local training is just short of torture. It helps to have them take frequent breaks to stand and stretch and then resume, and have some snacks. This group did well. They are a smaller group so the Sisters were able to all stay overnight at the Mission Home and the Elders were taken to a nearby motel. On Thursday we gathered them up and took them to the Willow Park chapel to connect with their new companions and continue on to their assigned areas.

Arrival of new missionaries usually happens every six weeks. Though it not perfectly equal during each transfer week, for each arriving group of missionaries there is a corresponding number of missionaries who are headed home at the end of their missionary service (18 months for the Sisters, and 24 months for the Elders). Arrivals and departures trigger a general shift in missionary service locations for many of the others remaining in the mission and so they and their luggage are hauled (that would be me) to one of two exchange locations, Lethbridge and Calgary. At each location, they meet their new companions and have a chance to reconnect with those with whom they have served in previous locations. Once we arrive at the exchange points those being driven bail out of the vehicles and head directly for those they haven’t seen in awhile. All of their baggage and personal things are forgotten for the moment. To get them reorganized and on their way is a lot like herding cats, but it all works out in the end and usually there are only one or two bags remaining after everyone has left   :^) 

Transfer day is a time to also move cars. With all the potential drivers going south or coming north, it is a good time to transport the new cars to where they need to be and to drive the old ones back. Opening and closing of areas also requires some movement of cars. All of this car movement requires a great deal of advance planning and coordination. At the exchange points I end up having to look at some cars that need repairs or have issues that have not previously been brought to my attention. These present as, “Oh, Elder Thorley; we forgot to tell you about it before but there is something wrong with our car. Could you look at it?” I also usually end up doing a couple of curbside medical consultations as well, so it is a busy time.

Sometimes during transfers, as was the case this time, I also meet up with a person in the south mission who wants to buy one of the older cars and, for convenience, wants it brought to them to avoid the long trip to Calgary. Selling a car under these circumstances usually requires answering a number of questions since they have not previously seen the car, only the pictures. I end up having to show them that everything that is supposed to be there is there and completing the necessary bill of sale.

Fortunately, the Assistants to the President oversee assigning drivers and passengers to each of the cars and herding them to their respective rides. Also the Assistants and office staff (in Calgary) collect gas receipts and gas cards, apartment keys, and cell phones, etc. and make sure these get into the right hands. So, the bottom line – the hour between arriving and leaving at the exchange points is an extremely busy time for all concerned.

Easter Interdenominational Easter Choral Festival

In anticipation of Easter, the Calgary Stake hosts a number of choral groups from various denominations around Calgary. This has been a tradition in central Calgary for 10 years. Kathy and I attended the event last year and enjoyed it very much. This year we have the opportunity of singing with our stake choir. Each choir performs two numbers. I will try to get a couple of pictures of the event and include them at the bottom of this blog.

The choral groups sat in the middle with the audience on the sides and in the cultural hall overflow

Once of the choral groups performing their number

The choristers and their accompanists

At the Interdenominational Choral Easter Festival:
L to R: Kathy and I, Sis Peterson, Sis Bonus, Elder Ibanez, Elder Hatch. Middle row: Elder Tung, Elder Proctor, Elder Fox, Elder Cartrwright, Sis Caldwell, Sis Hatch. Back row: Elder Fish, Elder Smith, Elder Del Molino, Elder Schiel

I hope, wherever you are, that you have been able to listen to General Conference. The messages are so timely and the words truly inspired. It was wonderful to see President Monson take part, and announce five new temples to be built. As announced, membership in the Church will soon reach 16 million members. This is, of course, a result of missionary work. While Kathy and my roles are supportive in nature and not proselyting, we do get opportunities to share the message of the Restoration. Often the vendors with whom I work ask about what our missionaries do as they meet them dropping cars off or picking them up after the repairs, oil changes, etc. I am only too happy to oblige and tell them a bit about the work and the message our missionaries share, and then I challenge them to invite them into their homes.

Have a great week!

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