Jan 20th. Martin Luther King day 2020 found us on a housing maintenance trip to Troy, O’Fallon, Belleville, and Fairmont Heights, Illinois. These apartments are within an hour or so across the Mississippi River. Naturally, to be efficient, we try to look at the needs and create several places relatively near each other and make one trip of them, particularly if the need is relatively minor. We’ll make a special trip if the need is great. It feels like I am in danger of discriminating against those missionaries that live more than about an hour away from the office. Within an hour, and it seems like we are pretty responsive. Over an hour, and we don’t seem to get there as often, so needs can go unaddressed. I think I need to try to do more training on self-help, which in the end, will be longer life skills for these young adults.
Jan 22nd. I’ve mentioned briefly that a missionary office couple that arrived a month or two before we did left the mission unexpectedly in December. Who knows why for certain, but it seemed to be a combination of disappointment with their assignment, serious personality conflicts, and family crisis back home. She was serving as assistant secretary over referrals, proselyting publication orders, baptism reports, and other important functions. He was serving as financial clerk. Needless to say, it left a big whole when they left, even if it did settle down some of the discord we had among some office missionaries. We would have been in a lurch to get the work done, except that the Ericksons and the Hatfields overlapped by two months, an odd timing arrangement, or so it seemed. As it turned out, the Ericksons trained us, and they took over much of what the prematurely departed couple had been assigned to do. The odd overlap turned out to be a big blessing. After some serious asking among stake presidents, the St Louis South Stake came up with a couple that was willing to serve part time in the office as service missionaries. The Jacobs are in the throes of retiring, and have been mulling over putting in their papers for a full time mission, perhaps later this year. But, in the interim, have taken on service mission work in the office. Whew!
Jan 26-29th. Sunday the 26th began transfers. After a couple of after church visits to members, and a trip downtown to the Lindell East apartment to drop off a missionary, we headed for the office so RaDene could print out boarding passes and make final travel arrangements for departing missionaries. We are trying hard to make our appearances in the office on Sunday the exception rather than the rule. So far, it has been the rule. It is all in the service of the Lord, but it still feels like we ought to have sufficient control of our work and schedule so we can spend Sundays worshipping and ministering, rather than paper and computer work at our desks. I am sure that Christ would be the minister to the one, but I sometimes wonder how he would act as mission secretary or housing coordinator? Missionaries and staff arrived at the mission home that evening for dinner and departure testimonies.
On Tuesday, we needed to move some beds, desks, and chairs so that there would be places for the new missionaries who would arrive that night and be transferred out to their teaching areas on Wednesday. We went as far as Macon, Missouri, which is a good three hour drive, one way. The Elders out there are pretty isolated. As I have said before, from there it feels like you are on the edge of the great plains, and that not much has changed in the last 150 years. If I squint, I think I can see pioneers, cowboys, and Indians. In addition to setting up for a threesome, I hauled out some broken, worn-out furniture that looked like it came across the plains in a wagon. I unloaded it in dumpsters on the way home. I took note of the broken toilet seat, tank float, and said a prayer with the elders and headed out.
Jan 29th. On transfer day, RaDene and I helped with the new missionary training, introduction to their trainer companions, and lunch at a centrally located church building. Then about 12:30 p.m. other missionaries involved in the transfer begin descending on the building. Because of snow and cold, the sisters were allowed into the hallway. The elders had to stay outside. After long experience, the mission president has learned that it is hard to get the missionaries back out to their teaching areas if they are made to comfortable at the transfer building. The pull of socialization still requires the assistants to the president to be shewing the missionaries along through the process. We deliver and disperse lots of mail and other necessary supplies during the process, and RaDene is the primary clerk. Meanwhile, cars are being inspected and impromptu interviews are going on by the mission nurse and president. All in all, it is quite a production.
Personally, I was sad that my senior housing assistant, Elder Renkert, was being made a zone leader in O’Fallon. He has served long and well as an HA, showing good judgment and organizational skills, as well as working hard not only with housing projects, but with proselyting. Elder Hamblin, his junior, will need to step up and fill the big shoes. I also met Elder Shuermann, the young man rotating into the junior role as housing assistant.
But there was no time for wistfulness. We had to take the truck and trailer to St Charles and take all the furniture from a sisters apartment that was being closed there and move it to Lindell South, and inner city teaching area which had been empty for a few weeks. This was one move that could not be done ahead of time because the sisters in St Charles needed their accomdations there right up until transfer day, but set up and ready to go in Lindell South before the day was over. Thankfully, Elder Shuermann, who looks a bit slight, is wiry, and up to the work. We wrestled couches, beds, dressers, desks, boxes, etc. down the St Charles stairs and carefully packed the truck and trailer so we would not need to make more than one trip. Then off to Lindell South to unload and set up. It was cold and showery, to keep things just a bit more interesting, but we did it. Everyone had a place to sleep by night time on transfer day.
Jan 30th. This day I knew I had to get a senior apartment cleaned because the lease was up and would be inspected the next day. I had hopes of going in early afternoon, but the press of things in the office just wouldn’t allow it. So, about 7 p.m. I headed over with my cleaning supplies. Is it impolite to say that the apartment was left in filthy condition? The couple leaving had plenty of reasons to have not kept it up really well. Their work was exceedingly demanding, leaving know time for deep cleaning. And I am pretty sure deep cleaning wasn’t their style anyway, particularly as they were well into their ninth decade of life. To my great pleasure, the Evertons, the sweet, demure couple newly arrived from Bountiful, showed up bucket in hand. They labored through the remnants of years of senior couple living along side of me and we overcame late that night all manner of mess, including mice remnants. The next day, on the exit walk through and turn over of keys, the manager was very happy with the condition. I had passed my first apartment inspection.
As a humorous side story to this, we had done a lot of furniture moving the week before in preparation for the apartment cleaning day and turnover. One appliance available for others was a toaster. It was packed in its box, and we delivered it to another couple who had expressed an interest in a toaster. RaDene and I came home late one night to find the toaster back on our doorstep with a note reading, “we changed our mind about the toaster.” Well it was a four slice toaster, and so it might have been just a bit too big, or so we speculated. We took it inside and RaDene took out the toaster, and to our horror, the box was ¼” deep with mice droppings. We had not opened the box before delivering it and so we had no idea. But the couple that “changed their mind” had said nothing about the awful contents of the toaster box. We said to ourselves, they surely must not have actually opened the box to see what was inside. Curiosity got the best of us, and so asked them, “did you see what was inside?” To our amazement, they said yes, but didn’t think to mention it to us. We still belly laugh thinking about what we would do if we had a box of crap to return to someone—would we say anything about it? Ha!