Sunday, May 3, 2020

12-18 April 2020 Get the Masks Out

Sunday, April 12th was a delight.  Although birthdays generally mean gatherings, grand food, and presents, this year was different.  We made an omelet for breakfast, which was about as close to familiar as this day got to a normal birthday in recent years.  We rarely cook breakfast since being on the mission.  But afterwards, RaDene made German chocolate cupcakes while I read a touching set of tributes she had collected for me from family, work colleagues, friends, and neighbors.  Some of the people she coaxed to write to me were quite unexpected and flattering, like former lawyers, co-workers, and directors at Headwaters.  Those were deep, rich associations.  But most special of course were the messages from my dear family.  Reading memories of my now-grown children, I was struck by how much outdoor adventures had meant to them.  One thing is for certain, the houseboat has been a good investment.  At any rate, the effort yielded the best birthday gift I could have imagined out here in the mission field, and it was a total surprise.

Then we did some reverse birthday giving.  We wrapped plates of cupcakes, donned our masks and gloves, and made deliveries from the edge of front porches, respecting our social distances.  For Annie Stewart and Dee Marche, our aged ministering sisters from the Pagedale Branch, we thought that if we were not allowed to visit them in their homes, we ought not give them our baked goods.  So, they received instead what they had said were their needs—rolls of precious toilet paper, beautifully wrapped.  Our missionary friends in the vicinity—the “Frontenac Sisters,” the Housing Assistants, the APs, the Evertons, and the Bells were the lucky recipients of RaDene’s German chocolate cupcakes.  For dinner, we made the unimaginable.  Barbequed pork chops steamed in the Instant Pot.  The smoker gods must have thought I had lost my marbles.  But, without so much as a barbeque grill here, it was the best we could do.  And surprisingly delicious. 

Tuesday, April 14th was a bit crazy.  I had given notice to vacate an apartment in Farmington in the Cape Girardeau zone before COVID-19 looked at all serious and long before the instruction to keep apartments for reassigned missionaries.  So, I had to get moved out by the end of the month.  The landlord had found a new renter and so asked me to get possession back ASAP.  I had told him I thought I could get it back to him about 10 days early, but to do it, I accelerated the moveout to this day.  Storage is at an absolute premium so what to do with the furnishings?  I had a solution:  take it to the Mexico apartment in the Columbia zone which we had vacated two weeks earlier to move some sisters into a new apartment in a new area.  Of course that meant careful packing of the truck and trailer and a long 3 hour, 180 mile road trip between zones.  And of course, this being the season it is, we dropped off home made face masks to the elders in the Farmington area which mothers were sending by the box full.  If that wasn’t crazy enough, just getting to Farmington from St Louis takes over an hour, and home from Mexico is about 2 hours.  So we had 6 hours of windshield time, not counting the loading and unloading.  Yes, it was a long day. 

Wednesday, April 15th, was easy by comparison.  We needed to vacate a senior apartment for which we had also given notice because the MLS couple was released and no replacement seniors were in the pipeline in this era of pandemic.  I didn’t want to throw it all away—at least not yet, but again, storage was a problem.  In what seems like a never ending shuffle board game, we took it all to a nearby apartment in the Hazelwood North area that had no missionaries because they were sent home.  But that didn’t mean it had no furniture.  Indeed, it was fully furnished.  So, we moved things around in the front room and dining room, and filled the available space with the senior missionary furnishings, including the bed, which certainly is not helpful for young missionary purposes.

On Saturday, April 18th, I had the pleasure of taking Sister Hatfield with me back down to Farmington to clean the apartment we had moved out of on Tuesday.  Can I just say that RaDene is a great worker?  One of the crazy things we had to deal with was glow in the dark stars stuck all over the ceiling and ceiling fan.  The came off the ceiling pretty well, but they peeled the paint right off the ceiling fan blades.  While RaDene finished cleaning the fridge, I uninstalled fan blades and painted them.  It wasn’t perfect, but probably up to apartment standards.  The hardest part was standing on an overturned plastic mop bucket ever so gingerly to get the blades reinstalled.  It is so hard to convince folks that putting sticky stuff on apartment surfaces is not a good idea.  I’m sure it seemed cute and harmless at the time.  On the drive home, you won’t be surprised to know we stopped in Crystal City/Riverview area and then in St Louis Hills to—wait for it—drop of homemade cloth masks, as well as mail, which pretty much goes without saying.  The housing workers are part of the mission pony express.

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