Friday, January 1, 2021

13-19 Dec 2020 Candy Cane Lane


Sunday, Dec 13th we had a great video Primary with Abbi and Ezra.  Moroni’s lessons on Faith and Charity were planted in their fertile minds.  (The principle of Hope was one too many for our 20 minute lesson.)  It doesn’t always work too smoothly, but today was satisfying to Nana and Papa.  The sisters we visit in the branch were oh, so lucky this week.  Sis Hatfield has the best soft ginger cookie recipe ever, and she made some yesterday to share.  This is when we start putting on the holiday (waistline) spread.  We invited our beautiful missionary sisters from our neighborhood to dinner so that we could say goodbye to Sister Kyree Huffaker.  She was reassigned to Missouri St Louis in May from Korea Busan, and never left this teaching area.  As a consequence, we have come to know and love her well.  Tomorrow, she goes home to Montana.  Her companion, Sister Jarman, had a call to Korea also, but hasn’t made it there yet, arriving in MSLM this summer.  She shed many tears saying goodbye to her first and so far only infield companion, Sis Huffaker.  Like most things, there are a few advantages to our COVID environment.  This time, the entire mission has been invited to join a video fireside to hear the departing missionaries’ testimonies, something that was previously shared in a small group.  Pre-COVID, the senior missionaries were permitted to participate.  Since the pandemic, we have been excluded.  But today, 250 missionaries were strengthened by these stalwart missionary testimonies.

 Monday, December 14th’s highlight was reading to the grandkids from the Christmas story book we sent to them.  The activity included sipping hot chocolate seated under the tree.  Simple delights are often the best.  Then its back to the office to work late on the mission newsletter.  Sis Hatfield is formatting pictures and I’m editing written testimonies for space and clarity.  It’s a lot of work pulling this together each time, and it is always done in the thick of transfer preparations.  This transfer the process is split, with the missionaries leaving flying out today, in time to be home for Christmas.  The incoming missionaries won’t come until the week after Christmas.  The practical effect is that many temporary arrangements are being made and the transfer will be incomplete for a couple of weeks. 

 Tuesday, December 15th the housing assistants and I have a few chores.  We go to Fenton, Missouri in the South St Louis zone to set up a third bed, re-hang a bedroom door that has been torn off its hinges, and deliver a newly acquired kitchen table.  Then we are off to the O’Fallon, Illinois zone, where we deliver a bed to the O’Fallon YSA elders, make a spare key where an office copy has been lost, and deliver a few odd things to the Fairmont City Spanish elders.  Then its back to the office for the night shift.  There I learn that Sis Hatfield is very frustrated with missionary cell phones.  We have some very poor coverage in some areas and we have been trying to get help for months for these missionaries.  We are not supposed to make arrangements for WIFI, but have done so a couple of times where the missionaries are helpless to do any work without it.  Salt Lake wants to try some SIM cards from alternative cell signal carriers, but it has been a nightmare enabling and disabling SIM cards in an organized and timely fashion.  Our APs have been dead in the water with no phone connection for a day—an intolerable situation given their responsibilities.  And if that is not enough, I learn that Sis Hatfield’s work into the wee hours last night was all lost and she is has spent the day starting over again.  It is so easy to lose your work in the computer age.  Ugh.

 On Wednesday, December 16th I am off to the discount department stores.  Yesterday I learned that my regular pillow supplier for newly arriving missionaries is out of stock and availability is uncertain for the foreseeable future.  Alternatives are expensive.  Because it sometimes takes a while to receive ordered pillows, I am on the case with energy because it won’t be that long before 16 new missionaries arrive and now I am worried about pillows.  It turns out my concerns were not justified.  Target had lots of pillows at a great price.  We load the truck up so Elder Buck, sitting in the back seat, can hardly see or move.  We stop at the Overland Park Hardware store to find some odd shelf pegs for some mission office bookshelves.  When I couldn’t find what I needed at the big box hardware stores, a manager at one finally took pity on me and suggested the local Overland Park Hardware store.  Wow, was that a find.  It is a tool hound’s dream, stuffed from floor to ceiling with all manner of gadgets, hardware, and gleaming tools.  And yep, they had a supply of the out of current design shelf pegs.  The mission bookshelf will be saved, and I have a new place to go for the often time strange supplies I need.  After that find, we head downtown to the Lindell East apartment to replace a balky smoke alarm.  While we are there, we find broken bifold doors on the laundry closet.  We take them off completely to examine them and see broken rollers and handles.  I know just the place I can find some replacements for these ancient doors.  For the evening, I join Sis Hatfield back at the office for—wait for it—yes, you guessed it—another late night working on the Harvester newsletter.  It is a night time and weekend project mostly because during the day, there are a hundred other missionary needs that Sis Hatfield must address during missionary waking hours, and often during Salt Lake business hours.  Nighttime is quiet time for working on the Harvester.

 Thursday, December 17th.  The newsletter is complete.  Hooray!  But not so fast, with the split transfer, we won’t be able to complete it all until the missionaries come after Christmas and the baptisms are known for the month.  Yes, Sis Hatfield will be at it again in a couple of weeks for the second installment that this transfer will require.  We are in need of getting some vacuums fixed.  We brought one in from a sisters’ apartment a week or so ago, and I have been putting off getting it to the shop, mostly because I knew it would be a project for me before hand.  I don’t mind taking in broken vacs that are dirty, but this one was beyond the pale.  The beater bar looked like it had a long haired Persian cat wound around it.  And the dirt collection cup was past full, by two or three times.  I recruited the ever-willing housing elders and we did emergency first aid on this particular vacuum before taking it in.  I would be too embarrassed to take it in without some preliminary effort.  Without the Harvester to work on that night, Sis Hatfield and I take on the project of helping missionaries in Columbia, Missouri figure out where to get their phone repaired.  The screen is badly cracked.  They can’t do the research themselves because of internet site access restrictions, and they probably couldn’t do it anyway because they couldn’t see through the cracks in the screen.  I hope the Yelp reviews turn out to be trustworthy.

 Friday, December 18th began with a notice that a new owner has purchased the apartment complex in Jacksonville, Illinois.  This is unfortunate timing, because we are scheduled to pay January rent on Monday, and it is a difficult process to get the centralized payables system of the church to approve a new vendor.  But by now I know the drill and draw up the necessary forms and immediately send them off to the buyer.  To my surprise, they have them back by the end of the day so we can submit them to the church.  We will keep our fingers crossed that the church approves the new buyer promptly next week so we can get payment to them on time.  The mail deliveries are enormous, and we spend a good deal of time sorting and organizing for deliveries.  The mailman is arriving later and later in the day lately.  He must be feeling the press of his increased load.  The Bells will be having family guests for Christmas and then for Addie’s wedding in early January.  Sis Bell like a room set up with a king size bed that has been stored for a while in a combination of places, the mission home, and our storage unit.  We loaded up the mattress from storage and set up the large wooden frame to get the room ready for the events of the season.  Afterwards, we head to the elders apartment in the Parkway 2nd area.  We need to take down an extra bed because an elder has headed off to his original assignment in Africa, and to do something about bathroom mold.  I’ve been putting this off, but today is the day to don my rubber gloves.  My regret was that I didn’t have time to put on some cleaning clothes.  I’ve ruined at least two pair of pants with bleach cleaning missionary apartments, and I’m in danger of that again today.  After scrubbing and bleaching, it looks better, if not perfect.  Some errant maintenance efforts of the past calked over mold so that there is some deep in the shower cracks and crevices, but I left some disinfectant and instructions for additional applications.  We’ll see how it looks in a couple of weeks when I come back to work on blinds that I saw were badly damaged and bring some floor coverings to catch bike tire grime. 

 Later we get some gyros to take to Bells at the mission home so we can plan Christmas zone conferences next week.  There is much to do.  Then we are back to the office to check in a missionary with the airlines departing tomorrow morning, print his boarding pass, and make his treat bag.  The brave young man has an injury that requires surgery and serious rehabilitation, but he sounds determined to get better and return. 

 Saturday, December 19th was mostly about shopping for Christmas conference food.  We store some at the mission home, and some we leave in the back of the car.  By tomorrow night we will be taking lots of it to the stake center kitchen.  It will be difficult to keep the office open to receive deliveries while we are at conferences Monday through Wednesday.  We recruited some help.  Sister Atkins, a delightful and dependable service missionary will take turns with the housing elders and Ancsi and Gareth to collect mail and then bring it to the St Louis stake center for handing out to the missionaries.

 We decide we needed some Christmas spirit so looked for some light displays we could see.  Some brief research yielded lists, but most seemed to be commercial sites, which wasn’t what I really had in mind.  Instead, I persuade Sis Hatfield to accompany me to Ted Drewes, a long St Louis tradition for frozen custard.  Sis Hatfield and Malory had made it there in July while I watched the grandkids, but the store had been closed shortly afterwards for a long time because of a COVID outbreak.  But now it is my turn.  The frozen custard counter remains popular indeed.  The night was cold, but the line was long.  I knew it would be good when I observed the teenagers with their parents.  It takes a good treat indeed to get a teenager to spend time with parents on a Saturday night.  RaDene had peppermint cream, and I had a turtle, the name for carmel, fudge, and pecans.  Both were delightful.  As we were leaving, we saw a long line of traffic being controlled by police.  We had an idea it might be a Christmas light destination.  We decided to get in line while we figured it out.  Sure enough, the queue was for Candy Cane Lane, rated number three on our must see lights list.  But the line of cars was a mile long and moving very slowly.  We decided to park and walk, which we probably needed to do after rich ice cream anyway.  Candy Cane Lane was a magical few blocks of intense lights on stately Eighteenth Century houses.  The residents have turned it into a street festival, with fire pits ringed with neighbors visiting one another, raising mugs of hot chocolate and beer (we are very near the Budweiser plant).  They raise money from the visiting line of cars for charity and have a great spirit about them.  We walk away thrilled with the luck of finding this gem very near the ice cream stand.

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