This week was one of those rare weeks when we didn’t have missionaries coming or going. But we knew that was temporary. For my part, I used it to get better prepared for transfers next week. On Tuesday, we moved the Assistants to the President from Renew Creve Coeur, a near by apartment complex, to the Arlington apartments, where we live. A couple of months ago the Arlington apartment had been left by our senior CES missionaries, the Thomsons. We had used the apartment on and off for various meetings and dinners, but had not moved anyone back in. We wondered if we might see the Thomsons return or have some other senior missionary need. That didn’t seem to be happening any time soon. But, we did need space for young missionaries being sent to us. So we decided to move the APs for two reasons: first, it freed up another apartment for Spanish teaching elders that were expected, and second, we could set up a second dormitory of sorts for incoming and departing young missionaries. When I first got here, we had set up a sisters apartment with six bunkbeds for that purpose. Elders stayed at the mission home with the President’s family. But because the Bell’s have a son with a compromised immune system, it didn’t seem wise to introduce virus pathways to the mission home. We would expose the APs instead! But with two bathrooms and a large kitchen table (not to be confused with a large kitchen), the apartment was suited for the temporary housing purpose.
There were some challenges though, like what to do with the king size bed in the formerly senior couple apartment, not useful to the APs. We jammed the mattress, frame, and headboard into the walk in closet, rendering it useless. Rather cleverly though, we repurposed the two king box springs by setting them on twin frames and extra long twin mattresses. Thank you, Amazon. We have been buying mattresses in a box by the dozens, which I’m sure our local Amazon delivery man has found odd. What could an office do with all of these, and why do I need to go to the hassle of carrying them through double glass doors and up elevators to an office? One time during a meeting I got a Seattle originated call, which I stepped out to take. It was the Amazon driver. I told him to pile my mattresses by the outside front door, for which he was relieved. Most of the office workers weren’t coming in these days, so they probably didn’t think too much about it. Less humorous, Amazon ships metal bedframes by USPS. Our postman is not amused by carting around those long, heavy boxes. One day he made a stop at the office next to ours making his delivery before our office. Someone exited that office unexpectedly, and with the door, started our frame boxes tumbling, landing on the postman’s ankle. He has a very friendly relationship with Sister Hatfield, seeing her face to face almost daily. So he related the tale of why he was smarting. I felt a little sorry that my housing order had contributed to his pain. Hey, Amazon, the postman is not set up to deliver large, heavy items! Use UPS or your own delivery trucks.
On Wednesday, May 20th we made a few more forward looking efforts. We moved the O’Fallon, IL zone leaders from their one bedroom apartment in the Shilo West teaching area to another apartment in the nearby town of Fairview Heights that has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, to be shared with a set of elders already there. The thinking is that the vacated zone leader apartment would be a good place to put a second set of sisters in the area. Honestly, I was pretty depressed when I walked into Shilo West. First, I expect more from the zone leaders, whether that is justified or not. They were not ready to move and their apartment was a mess. It seems that their only real concern was to make sure that a huge collection of barbells, dumb bells, and other exercise equipment made it over to Fairview Heights with them. We obliged, loading all the weights in the back of the mission pickup truck, which sagged under the weight. And if that weren’t enough, the existing missionaries in Fairview were not the least ready for the arrival. We quickly moved their desks, chairs, and general overflow out of the second bedroom, piling the second set of beds, desks, chairs, to say nothing of large pile of weights in the living room. No one turn around in place. Ordinarily, I would have had preliminary discussions with the missionaries to be ready for us. This time, I spoke only to the lead zone leader and he took the responsibility of making the necessary communications and preparation. I could say he sorely let me down, but my expectations were probably wrong. Moreover, Sis Hatfield believes that he has been struggling with some issues of his own. So I will withhold judgment. Still, I told the ZLs I needed them to go back to the apartment we moved them out of and clean it deeply. I won’t hold my breath. But I have a report that it does look better. I’m sure I need to take my rag and bucket back there before I will feel good about sending in sisters to live there.
We still had the problem of the king mattress and headboard in the assistants’ apartment making the bedroom closet unusable. President Bell had made an offhand comment that he didn’t love his mattress in the mission home. So we picked it up from the APs’ closet and dropped it off in the living room of the mission home for President to give a real try. I couldn’t figure out what to do with the headboard, though. It was massive (and ugly, in my opinion; note the past tense). Elder Schuerman new what to do. As housing missionaries, we specialize in dumpsters. We often have stuff to discard. So we know where they are in all the apartment complexes and business parks. We try not to use more than our share of dumpster space, spreading things out between them, and try to stick to places where we are tenants anyway. But we do know about a lot of them. One of them has a hydraulic compaction mechanism. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the young elders love to smash things in that dumpster. Buttons, motors, pistons, and pressure plates are always a male attraction. You get the picture. Yep, Elder Schuerman wanted to compact the kingsize headboard. I relented, not really feeling like I had any other options: It would basically cap off most dumpsters, and the donation centers are all closed because of COVID. In the headboard went, to the squeals of delight of the elders as it bent, moaned, and finally cracked into pieces. Secretly, I hope those seniors don’t return so I don’t need to tell them why we don’t have their headboard anymore.
On Friday, May 22nd we made our last major influx preparation for the week. We had given our notice to not extend a lease to management two months before a senior couple was scheduled to leave because we had no prospects of senior missionaries being assigned to replace them. When it was time to vacate, we had stored the departing senior couple’s furniture away into a temporarily vacant young missionary apartment. (Vacancies happen from time to time as missionaries are moved around, but where it is too expensive to break a lease, particularly when the President thinks we will soon be coming back.) I do hate to just throw things away, although my ability to store in this time of major apartment disruption is limited. But now I knew I was probably out of time with the transfers coming next week and the need for young missionaries to have additional places to live and serve. We went back to this young missionary apartment in Hazelwood and removed all the senior missionary furniture that we hadn’t found places to use in the meantime and then deep cleaned it. By now, Elder Schuerman and Elder John were pretty skilled at all this—they do a great job of decluttering, which is mostly being able and willing to make decisions about what is usable and what is a distraction, often accumulated over years. While they decluttered, I donned the rubber gloves. I’m really good with Ajax and Pinesol.