Monday, October 5, 2020

27 September – 3 October 2020 Apartment Envy


On Sunday, September 27 we didn’t have Zoom Primary with Nana and Papa because Spencer and Elisa were driving their family to Arizona for a week with the Lymans.  Hopefully we can resume next week, because Nana and Papa sure like having Primary with the Grands.  At Church in our little Pagedale branch, we ended up giving our seats in the chapel to others and listening from the Foyer.  I had told the Elder’s Quorum President that if it ever looked like we would cross over county COVID meeting limitation rules (25% of room capacity), he could give me the sign and we’d be happy to help make room.  This week, I got the sign.  Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a trend of larger attendance!  After administering the sacrament to Annie Stewart, we joined the beginning of the mission presidency meeting back at the office.  We presented on JustServe, which is starting a community service promotional campaign for the rest of the year.  The two counselors in the mission presidency are taking the role of communicating with stake leaders about JustServe, while Sis Hatfield and I continue to train and encourage the young missionary leadership and the missionaries themselves.  We ended the day by hosting dinner with Elder Dayton and Elder Howard, the new companionship that has joined the Pagedale area, giving us four elders in the branch now, in addition to Sis Hatfield and me.

 Monday, September 28 started badly.  My housing coordinator email would not connect.  I spent all morning on the phone with mission technology support, and after several calls, I was finally back on line.  The tech said my computer’s Microsoft license had expired.  I was relieved to get back in the game, which primarily focused on a Pagedale apartment search for Elders Dayton and Howard.  Pagedale is a bit tricky:  the northern half of the branch is an area that most would consider somewhat to largely unsafe because of crime.  It is definitely one of the edgy parts of town.  But I have triangulated on a place called Hawthorne School Apartments, which had a manager that was very helpful and didn’t seem to be the least bothered about the Church being the renter.  I filled out the application and was cautiously optimistic. 

 Speaking of apartment searches, the family that once lived above us had abandoned the place late this spring or early summer, no doubt because of COVID related misfortunes.  Recently, it has been reoccupied.  RaDene has no desire to have a sixth sewage backup in our apartment, and now that someone has moved in upstairs from us, we are a bit nervous again.  We’ve asked a couple of times about the possibilities of alternatives, but nothing seemed to pan out.  Sis Hatfield made a new appointment with a leasing agent and he said that there was an available ground floor apartment on the other end of the building we could look at.  After looking at it, it has some deficiencies.  Recently, RaDene has noticed signs of the upstairs apartment on the other end of the building being renovated.  Obviously, an upstairs apartment offered some hope of being above any backup.  Tonight I noticed the lights were on in that upstairs apartment.  After trespassing to take a look, it seems like a very acceptable alternative.  The deck is smaller than our ground floor patio, and it isn’t obvious how we’d recreate our hanging flowers or bird feeders, but mostly, it would get us above the sewer backup zone.  The leasing agent said it wasn’t yet available.  Pressing him, RaDene learned that it should be available to take a look after a county inspection at the end of the week.  We made an appointment the first possible time to see it, the Saturday morning before General Conference.

 On Tuesday, September 29th I left the apartment early to go scout out the neighborhood of the Hawthorne School Apartments.  It is a leap of faith or stupidity to put in an application before knowing something about the neighborhood, but I had done just that yesterday.  I felt like I needed to.  But now I needed to confirm the feeling and take a look.  Like I said, Pagedale is a bit tricky, and honestly, an abandoned but repurposed school could be a cue to neighborhood problems.  On my drive out, I was getting nervous, but as I rounded the last turn, I was in the middle of a lovely middle class neighborhood with a beautiful city park and a very handsome old building, the Hawthorne School Apartments.  I saw signs of families, diversity, and people that didn’t seem afraid to be outside.  Whew.  

 By 9:30 a.m., I met the housing assistants back at the office and storage unit to load up for a trip to the Springfield zone.  We took mail, loaner phones, tools, and materials and headed out.  I received multiple calls along the way from the manager at the Hawthorne School Apartments asking pertinent questions about my application, which I was delighted to answer.  She was taking the application seriously and giving it her attention.  We stopped a couple of hours later in Jacksonville, Illinois first, to grab an extra couch from one of the elders’ apartments potentially needed in Springfield, and then at the second Jacksonville elders’ apartment to get a spare key, and install some window coverings.  I was happy to learn that all had been quiet there since the loud middle of the night commotion reported a few weeks ago, but which never could be verified by surveillance video.  Next we were off to Springfield to deliver that just acquired couch, and then to Decatur.  The stop in Decatur was made a little more tricky by the quarantine the elders were under because of a hernia operation to happen on Friday.  Too bad they didn’t mention that before today.  Delivering the desk was easy enough, but part of the task was to take a look at a door that had a hole punched in it by rough housing.  I wasn’t going to skip this task, so I invited the quarantined elders to go for a walk while I inspected the problem.  It looked repairable, so I mixed up some patch and made the first fill.  I left some sandpaper, the mix, and a putty knife for the elders to apply a second coat tomorrow.  This may go bad not doing the work myself, but the alternative couldn’t be worse than replacing the door, which is where we are if we don’t try.  Last, we gave them the mission loaner phone.  The newly arrived elder had brought a phone that turned out to be incompatible with the Missionary Department’s security software.  This happens all the time.  The Church tries to give instructions about what models of phones and operating systems will work with required security software, but the instructions are almost incomprehensible to anyone but the most tech savvy.  And constantly evolving phones are increasingly less compatible with the security software.  Sis Hatfield is spending an enormous amount of time coaching new missionaries, and often, giving them clunker loaner phones so they can send their fast, sleek phones home per mission department rules.  Ugh.  Leaving, the Decatur sisters pulled in and delivered some homemade chocolates to the elders, and we were part beneficiaries being in the right place at the right time.  And no, sisters are not supposed to bring treats to the elders.  I caught them!

 We were now off to our last stop in Litchfield, where the sisters there had been complaining generally about the quality of their apartment and specifically about some “black stuff” in their window.  I knew the place was an older duplex, so I knew an inspection could be warranted.  I haven’t seen it closely before, except from the front porch.  It was 7 pm before we arrived, and I took a look around.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The building itself was older, but had obvious signs of ownership that pays attention.  Things were in better than average shape, except for years of “stuff” accumulated in the apartment that clearly cluttered the look and livability.  We talked about it, and then and there did a sort, and carried out boxes of junk that greatly improved the situation.  As for the “black stuff” in the window, I concluded that there was indeed some mold staining the wood window casing.  I donned my rubber gloves, got out the cleaner and hot water, dried and applied some disinfectant, and made it go away.  I cleaned the sisters’ bathtub of the beginnings of some mold while I was at it.  We had prayers and were on our way.  Mission accomplished.  I think the sisters needed some of our attention and effort, which they received, and now feel better about their apartment.  We got back to the office at 9:30 that night, a solid 12 hours after starting our circle around the Springfield zone.

 Wednesday, September 30th started with a trip to Webster Groves North to look at a malfunctioning smoke alarm.  The sisters couldn’t figure out why it was beeping intermittently.  Since they were on quarantine, I told them a couple of days ago to just put it in their car until I could get there.  I got there, and figured out how to open the casing.  Alas, it needed a size battery I did not bring, so I raced to the Seven Eleven to buy some, then put in some anchors to reinstall.  I was in a bit of a hurry because I had an appointment in Centralia, Illinois.  The elders out there (way out there, I should say, most of the way to Indiana), had done some service and come across some furniture they thought might be of benefit to the mission.  I’m a little leery about such offers, because as often as not, donated furniture is in poor condition or the wrong sort of item (who can use an old style entertainment center?).  But I really need dressers, and the elders had sent some promising pictures.  I was a bit jaded though, because the donor had asked how much I was willing to pay, and had temporarily rebuffed my admittedly low offer while someone else took a look.  But we were back on for now.  It turned out we met the elders in Centralia, but the furniture was actually in a barn several towns and dirt roads away.  But I was pleasantly surprised by what I finally saw.  I picked 10 pieces and we secured it in the trailer.  The donor turned out to be a recently widowed member who was not at the barn because she was trying to sell a trailer to someone.  I asked to meet the member to give her the check, so off we went to the trailer, which was down a few more dirt roads.  She wasn’t there either, and now was reportedly at a place difficult to navigate a truck and trailer at all.  So, I gave the check to the elders and asked them to deliver it and have her call me.  As we were driving down the highway, she did call, and what a pleasant woman she was.  In the end, I was glad I was able to provide a small sum to a widow who needed the money, and very proud of the elders for providing service to her in her time of need, and helping fill mission needs for furniture too. 

 Thursday, October 1st.  Wait, did I just write that its October?  Yep, its official, we have been through our first Missouri summer season.  I joked with RaDene while she was in her exercise shorts that her legs are whiter than I have ever seen them at the end of a summer—ever.  She could say the same thing about me.  No danger of advancing skin cancer on a mission.  But there is no time to reflect on legs.  We are out the door to help with a Mission Leadership Council being held in the St Louis stake center.  Sis Bell has planned and prepared a lunch, but has forgot some ingredients at the mission home.  And can we bring crockpots, and what gluten free desert do we have?  Sis Hatfield caucuses with Sis Bell and pulls together the loose ends and we are off.  Our main responsibility will be to execute Sis Bell’s lunch plans.  RaDene is an excellent kitchen field marshall, organizing the staff to make it happen.  I am chief dishwasher, because there is no barbeque today.  But we also give JustServe training to the zone leaders and sister training leaders, including the Real Lives. Real Change. campaign.  I think of an MLC as a ½ day event, but I’m always optimistic about that.  Once we have the leftovers put away and the pots clean and the floor mopped, we are deep into the afternoon.  We head back to the office to find some large deliveries having shown up while we were gone.  I dash back to the stake center while Sis Hatfield calls some missionaries to wait.  It is too good an opportunity to get some of these things out to missionaries driving long distances back to their teaching areas.  That evening in the office, Sis Hatfield spends more hours with the phone contractor and finally says she cannot afford any more time on this project until after transfers next week.  We will line up the new phones like soldiers on the counter.  No one seems to be able to make even these new phones work.  We turn our attention to the mission news letter and the draft of the transfer board.  There is much to do before the 19 new missionaries arrive next week. 

 Friday, October 2nd shows more progress on the transfer board, with two new teaching areas and 9 missionary trios.  I head over to University City, part of the Pagedale Branch, and get to see the inside of the Hawthorne School Apartments.  They exceed my expectations.  The early 20th Century four story stone building must have been an impressive school when it opened, but its bones outlived current school standards.  But the setting is beautiful, surrounded by lawns and a city park, stately oaks, and a old circle drive.  The neighborhood seems diverse and friendly.  Inside, the developer turned the architect loose and he divided the school into 41 unique apartments, preserving the hallways, stonework, thick hardwood paneling and high arched windows.  The apartment I’m trying to rent looks like part of a former classroom, with handsome windows that must be 15 feet tall, bathing the space in light.  The walls are covered in part with old painted chalk boards.  And to go with the charm, the bathroom and kitchen is 100 percent new construction within the old classroom space.  I’m taken with the place.  I wish I could live here myself. 

 After lunch, I meet up with the housing assistants who have had zone council all morning.  We head out to the apartment of the Hazelwood sisters, who tell me that their can opener no longer works to start their dryer.  Hmm.  When we examine things, we see that the timer switch has fallen back into the control panel and the knob that turns the switch is cracked.  We take the panel apart and reattach the timer, but the knob is not fixable.  I leave some pliers so they can turn the dryer control without a can opener.  I will check to see if I can order a replacement knob.  Of course, they get a complimentary cleaning under their clothes dryer.  That’s just the way we roll.  As we leave, we see an oversized dumpster in the apartment complex.  It is just the perfect spot to discard a couch that even missionaries can’t use any longer.  Back at the office, its late, but Sis Hatfield is still plugging away at the mission newsletter, trying to fit pictures of arriving missionaries, and looking for updated pictures of departing missionaries (they change a lot in two years at this age!) and edit and fit their written testimonies.  It is a labor of love that these young people will enjoy, but I don’t think they’ll ever fully appreciate the work that went into the project.  Isn’t that typical of service in the Kingdom? 

 Saturday, October 3rd is General Conference.  We’ve looked forward to this day for a long time.  We are so uplifted by the testimonies and instruction of our leaders.  The Prophet is unbelievably spry and sharp.  After the morning session, which we watch on BYUtv in our apartment, we head to the office.  I’m looking for hotels and Sis Hatfield is working on departing missionary paperwork.  It isn’t our plan, but we work through the afternoon session, listening to the talks as best we can while doing our mission work that has clear deadlines.  Blessedly, RaDene has made a plan to get together with the Jacobs and the Evertons for dinner out between the afternoon session and the Women’s session.  We are an unlikely trio of couples, by worldly measures.  We don’t match up in many ways.  But in the most important way, we are exactly aligned:  we love the Lord and His missionaries, and are honored to be serving them.  RaDene and I then go to the Jacobs for pie and to watch the evening session at their house.  As a bonus, Sis Hatfield gets to watch from the full body massage chair.  

No comments:

Post a Comment