On Sunday, August 9th we dropped by Sister Annie Stewart and said hello from the porch. It is certainly unsatisfying to us, and to her I am sure. But we don’t seem to be to good at finding meaningful alternatives to a sit down visit. That afternoon we hosted the Jacobs for dinner in our apartment. They are bright, happy people, and although their office contributions are important, their infectious smiles are priceless. They stayed to watch our second church history site video tour, this time of the Harmony, Pennsylvania home of Emma Smith, where she and Joseph also spent time. Sister Brown, one of the guides, will be coming to Missouri St Louis in a couple of weeks. These sisters are brimming with spirit.
Monday, August 10th was blistering, with a heat index of 106 degrees. If that wasn’t bad enough, the housing assistants and I needed to spend time in our metal storage unit hunting down items we might have for a new apartment. If it wasn’t 120 degrees in there then I am past feeling. Afterwards we headed to Walmart to buy things we didn’t have in storage. Besides Amazon, Walmart is the go to place. I even carry around the mission’s Walmart tax exemption card in my wallet. Then to our relief, Elder Nelson and Elder Merrill and I hooked up the hose at my apartment and “washed” items from storage. We might have had an unauthorized, impromptu water fight to find some relief from the heat.
The next few days I did some serious apartment searching, both on line and in person. I just need to make progress because the new group of 35 is coming soon and housing needs are solved at a remarkably slow pace. I’m even recruiting the housing assistants, teaching them how to do internet searches on the most helpful websites. Up until now, their work has pretty much been limited to the heavy lifting, or at least physical aspects of housing. But I need some front end help right now. They don’t always filter potential apartments the same way I do, meaning I need to check the work before doing calling and neighborhood visits, but they are learning some important life skills while helping the work move along. I feel like I may have found a good place in the Oakville ward in south St Louis and in Jacksonville in Springfield. They are only two places, but this elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time.
Meanwhile, Sister Hatfield is working very hard to try to create the new teaching areas that will be needed by the 17 or so new companionships as of August 26. Area work is complex, not only requiring boundary locations, but assigning logical area names, SIM card (phone number) activation, and other details. And it all needs to be entered into the church’s database, which is balky, to say the least. If this area work is not done before transfers, it will be 2-3 days after transfers before the system will digest the new area information and permit the missionaries to get referrals, find and use investigator notes, and publish contact information.
On Wednesday, August 13th we worked until 11 p.m., which is not particularly noteworthy. We are in the office until 10 or so at least a couple of nights a week almost every week. We have promised ourselves untold times that we would resolve again to leave by 9, but it is like a bad New Year’s resolution, broken almost before it is made. But this night was for a particular purpose. Tomorrow we head for Utah to Amelia Rose’s baby blessing. We are excited and anxious at the same time.
On Thursday, August 14th we manage to pull ourselves away from work and head for the airport. The Everton’s kindly offered to drop us off. Although we were in a bit of a rush, we really didn’t need to be. We were late in boarding the plane, and once on, sat for an hour. The pilot said that the back up oxygen supply for the cockpit had a bad sensor, but that it had been reset, and we should be on our way shortly. Well we weren’t, and eventually, we were deplaned. As we sat at the gate, we realized our opportunity to have dinner with the family in Utah and put Abbi and Ezra to bed that night was lost. If we left at all, we would be too late. Sister Bell, keeping up with our lack of progress, told Sis Hatfield that Delta should rebook our return flight from early Tuesday to Wednesday because of the lost time. We had felt bad about shortening our trip in the first place, but it had seemed like the right thing to do. Now we wanted that time back. With Sis Bell’s encouragement, Sis Hatfield got Delta to make the change. I am not sure that President Bell felt the same way, but he was not as fast to weigh in as Sis Bell, and it was done.
On Saturday, August 15th we spent some time with Spencer and his older kids, including having fun looking at the new rental in central Provo he picked out for Hatfield Holdings, LLC. Spencer and Elisabeth are managing the property, with newlyweds already upstairs, while Spencer is overseeing renovation of the downstairs. Later, we hosted a bbq at our house. Spencer had bought a brisket for me the day before, and I started it in the wee hours of the morning. I definitely felt I was at home. It was so good to see all the family, including Lilli, who I haven’t seen in 2+ years. My Mom and Dad seemed vigorous and well for late stage octogenarians. They are blessed with outstanding quality of life. I am so grateful for that. As gathering time rolled up, RaDene was somehow thinking about Mark and Kristen and their COVID concerns. The rest of the family is a bit relaxed about masks with each other. Mark and Kristen aren’t. RaDene confirmed with Mark that for them to be comfortable, we would need to all wear masks. She counseled with the family, and we decided to wear them to help Mark and Kristen. They joined the meal and stayed for several hours. This was the first time they had seen the family in months, to say nothing of sharing a meal with them, not even to see Lilli as she came home from Thailand. We were so grateful that we could facilitate the reunion not only for ourselves, but for all the extended family. And we are grateful that my extended family, including Ancsi, has been such a support to Spencer and Elisa while we have been away. There is no doubt that leaving family is the hardest sacrifice of missionary service.