Sunday, May 3, 2020

19-25 April 2020 Can We Get Ready More Rapidly?

Sunday is fun in the COVID time because we have been teaching Nursery (more Nursery than Primary) to our grandkids.  We acted out King Benjamin on the tower, complete with foil covered crown and bathrobe on a step stool.  Taking our own challenge to our kids and grandkids to spread the love, we cut out valentines and taped them on the doors of our two lovely, aged sisters from Pagedale.  (Abbi did not accept the idea of a heart attack in April.  She is sure that Valentines are only appropriate in February.)  Then we headed to the office to print out boarding cards for our latest group of departing missionaries.  Will we ever start getting missionaries back?  President Bell held a mission wide devotional this Sunday evening.  In our time, this is a first.  Technology is providing some opportunities that we would have never done but for the virus shutdown and shut in. 

On Monday, April 20th I drove back down to Farmington, MO to turn in that apartment with the newly painted fan blades.  We still got dinged a couple of hundred dollars of our deposit for the heavily marked walls that need repainting.  It is frustrating to lose any of the Mission’s deposit money, but I must admit that sometimes we aren’t as careful as we could be.  Then (surprise!) I took a detour to Washington, Missouri to drop off some cloth masks to some sisters out there.  They are so brave as they become skilled at inside proselyting by technology while staying socially distant.  I’m convinced it will help the Work move forward at a better pace as more finding is done on line—where the rising generation spends their time and gives attention. 

Wednesday, April 22nd was transfers.  That is remarkable because we actually had missionary moves on the calendar this time, as opposed to emergency departures which we have experienced almost every week for the last 6 weeks.  I had to say goodbye to Elder Hamblin, a faithful, quiet housing assistant.  But he is off to be a zone leader in Springfield, Illinois.  I’ll miss him, but he will do good and stretch a bit more in Springfield.  As his replacement, I welcomed Elder John.  Elder John is from a ranch in Emmett, Idaho and very much looks and acts the part.  But his down-home style is very endearing.  He baptized 15 people in has last area.  He wouldn’t be mistaken for a gospel scholar, but he is tender-hearted and genuine.  People just relate to his honesty.  Bonus:  he is handy with pulling a trailer and fixing things, a couple of skills I can make use of.  To have everyone with a bed tonight, we jumped in the truck, loaded some furniture, and headed to Cape Girardeau to make room for a new three person companionship.  While we were down there, I installed a replacement part on some nearby missionaries’ broken blinds.  I could have searched in vain for that part in stores for days, but on Amazon I had it in days with no hassle.  Honestly, I’m afraid Amazon is going to rule our world soon.  They are just too good at filling our needs and wants!

On Friday, April 24th we had an office staff meeting that rocked my world.  With all the departing missionaries and resultant empty apartments, I had created a plan to clean and inventory all 23 of them during the next four weeks to be ready for hoped-for incoming missionaries.  But President Bell shared that a conversation with the Area Presidency advising that we may receive as many as 40 missionaries on May 5th, with 20 more or so every two weeks.  Apparently, 90 percent of early responders have told the Church that they want to be sent back out to the field as soon as possible.  That means that there will be thousands to absorb in US missions while the COVID environment stabilizes allowing for transfers to foreign countries.  RaDene helped me take my four weeks to readiness plan and turn it into a one week plan.  Yes, we organized a schedule that pressed the entire mission presidency and their families, all senior missionaries, and young missionaries near the empty apartments to work, with some of us cleaning multiple apartments every day of the week, starting Monday, April 27th through Saturday, May 2nd.  Honestly, I don’t know if we can pull it off.  Each apartment requires a great deal of elbow grease, not to mention a ruthless attitude of getting rid of accumulated stuff.  Somehow, with all she has to do, RaDene helped me not only redo my plan, but enlist the soldiers.  She has tremendous capacity.  At least it was the Jacobs’ 50th anniversary, and Sister Bell made a delicious chocolate cake.  And what’s more, an anonymous benefactor made arrangements with a local deli to cater lunch for the office.  How delightful.  Food is always a welcome gift to missionaries, even senior missionaries.

Elder Scheurman came in and sensing our need, displayed some marvelous talent at a much needed time.  He took apartment inventory and cleaning checklists and turned them into Google surveys.  Each group of apartment workers will have information as to what my expectations are for cleaning the apartments next week and automatically accumulate furnishing deficiencies into a report so we can see and fill the needs.  Now its time to start making calls to delegate the work.

On Saturday, April 25, RaDene and I and the housing assistants drove down to the vacant missionary apartment in the Rockwood 1st area.  We had scoped it out some weeks before, and frankly, the missionaries that had left it in terrible shape.  The kitchen and bathroom were downright dirty and the closets set a new standard for clutter.  Meanwhile, the beds and bedding were in really bad shape.  We divided in order to conquer.  RaDene and I put on gloves and tackled the kitchen and bathroom, respectively, and Elder Scheurman and Elder John were in charge of tossing stuff.  It was a good teaching experience since the elders experienced what our standard was for neat and clean.  Every few minutes I got up from standing on my head in the bathtub and answered questions about what to keep and what to toss.  My motto:  when in doubt, throw it out.  We filled a dumpster.  It took us almost three hours, but by the time we were done, it was someplace you wouldn’t mind staying yourself.  But, it was a bit ominous.  If every apartment would need this much grit and determination, we will have a difficult week next week indeed.

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