Sunday, August 15, 2021

8 - 15 August 2021 We Have Lost One of Our Own

On Sunday, August 8th I went to church, and helped with the sacrament.  Silas, my primary charge, left with his parents immediately after the first hour.  So, I was not needed in primary today.  I had noticed a middle aged man dressed in gym shorts slip into the chapel about half way through the meeting.  As the meeting ended I expressed thanks to the speakers and Pres Nehring came up to me and pointed to the man and said his mother had died this morning and would I take him to the hospital where his family was gathering.  After a brief meeting with the priesthood brethren and a prayer, the elders and I took David Anderson out into the foyer and got more acquainted.  It turns out the missionaries had met David 10 days or so before in a street contact.  Today, as David was feeling the grief and pain of his mother’s passing from the effects of cancer, he stopped into our church, not knowing it was the meeting house of the elders.  David was hungry, and he was given some snacks by the members.  We took him to buy him lunch, then to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital by Forest Park.  I gave him a little cash and we made sure he got some help in the hospital, and then we said goodbye.  The missionaries will try to connect with him again tomorrow.  Sis Hatfield being out of town, the elders went with me to see Annie Stewart.  We were disappointed to learn on her front porch from her grandson Marcus Davis that Annie was hospitalized for some sort of digestive or intestinal illness.  As we were leaving, Marcus asked about Pres Erekson.  Now about 30, I estimate, Marcus said that Pres Erekson had given the eulogy at his mother’s funeral when he was 9-10 years old, and it had always remained in his memory.  I just happen to be friends with Rock Erekson and was able to connect Rock and Marcus.  This afternoon, the Decatur sisters called and explained that they had locked themselves out of their apartment.  We were having no luck getting ahold of the manager.  Just about when I was ready to give up on the manager and drive a key the 2.5 hours up to Decatur, the sisters called.  The manager had surfaced, and my night of driving was cancelled. 

Monday, August 9th was very likely the saddest of our mission.  Young Gabrielle Iverson, who had gone home about two months ago after a suicide attempt, has died.  Her father called Pres Bell who told the office staff.  We had frantically responded when the suicide attempt was made here in the mission, and have prayed for her ever since Sis Bell accompanied her home that week.  She was a sweet person.  I can only imagine the demons she must have been battling.  Now I know she is at peace with a loving, merciful God.  We hope her family can find some comfort in the midst of this tragedy. 

Rock Erekson invited me to join his wife Joy and the young elders for dinner tonight, hearing that Sis Hatfield is in Alabama.  He regaled us with tales of his great grandfather who was a Vermont convert and stalwart saint, pushed out of Missouri and then Illinois.  He was a member of the Nauvoo Legion and the Mormon Battalion, and Rock has temporary custody of his flint musket and sword.  I cannot imagine carrying them all the way from Iowa to California and back to Salt Lake.  They are heavy!  We helped the Erekson’s widowed neighbor, Sally Ledbetter, move a few pieces of furniture to Jill’s basement, another neighbor.  Jill’s husband has a vintage Land Rover which he proudly showed off to us.  Other than the fact that it must have been 110 degrees in the garage so I was sweating like a rag, it was great to meet these people.

Tuesday, August 10th was mostly an office day, holding fort while Sis Hatfield was in Alabama.  A family taking their daughter to college in Arizona drove through Missouri to drop a birthday present off for their son, the oldest child in the family.  It was a pleasure to meet them and feel the love they have for their missionary and for everyone serving with their son.  They expressed their gratitude to the office staff several times.  It was a blessing to hear.  And what an adorable family.  There must have been four kids I saw, plus one I didn’t traveling in the family van.  They had written cute notes all over the outside of the package, which they said I could read.  One stood out.  It was from the second born, the daughter on the way to school.  It said something like this:  “I may not have been the first out of the womb, but I was the first to get a job and the first to go to college.  How is second place suiting you now?”  I sensed some sibling rivalry.  I also collected a phone from a missionary, answered church travel calls, and took care of other secretary business as best I could.  I hope she can figure out what I’ve been doing!  Later, when Elder Jacob came into the office, I went to Webster Grove to glue down a carpet threshold and inspect the “roaches.”  These young ladies must be from Utah.  The pests were not roaches at all, just a species of cricket.  They were a little hard to identify with the boot prints along their backs.  I’m so glad the sisters left the crunched corpses on the floor for me to scrape off for them.  Then we went to Lake St Louis to rehang a TP holder, a towel rod, and patch those and other unrelated holes in the walls.  In Dardenne Creek, we resecured the stairway banister to the wall studs with long screws, replacing the bent 10 inch spike they had pounded in with a rock to hold it temporarily.  Goodness.  After work was done, to my surprise, the housing assistants invited me to Fuzzy’s for a taco Tuesday dinner.  Then it was back to the office to work with Elder Jacob until 10 pm.  I wish I could say I got as much done as most nights, but Elder Jacob has more stories than most, and I’m a willing audience.  

Wednesday, August 11th was notable because there was no invitation from President Bell to join a Zoom workout Wednesday as there has been almost without fail for 21 months.  I’m guessing that Pres Bell is taking a much needed break while his family is in town for a reunion this week.  I hope he is reconnecting and energizing.  He so deserves it.  Their vacation was sadly shortened by an important day planned at Six Flags and Busch Stadium because of flight cancellations on Friday night that could not be rectified until Saturday night.  They were so sad.  I’m hoping they are making up the lost time somehow.  I met Elder Dailami and Elder Paulson at 8:30 am to head to Springfield.  On the way, I called Rafael Morris and talked about the September 11th JustServe project we are working to organize at the Greenwood Cemetery, planning to clear a section of the Cemetery long lost to nature.  I also talked to Ancsi, who is trying to think about how to help Gareth organize his growing painting business.  And I talked to the family history coordinator in the Champaign stake who is more than a little upset at the missionaries up there who have apparently put some Adobe software on the family history center computers without church authorization.  I guess the church techies found it in some sort of remote audit.  He was fuming about the possible need to wipe the computers and take away the missionaries’ keys.  I think I was able to calm him down a bit and broker a peace.  I called the missionaries up there and coached them on the approach to take.  There certainly is a tension between the rarely used family history computers and the missionaries’ need to proselyte with technology, but few technical resources.  The family history computers are a shared asset, but the sharing rules are not always easy to abide, made more difficult by the constant turnover in missionaries.  Meanwhile, I learned that the Springfield sisters had locks changed recently and were not planning to be home when we arrived.  I persuaded them to leave the back door open and keys on the table so I could make copies.  I also circled the Springfield neighborhood several times, trying to sort out any feelings about whether the neighborhood was safe.  Two of the three sisters recently living there have had some vague concerns about safety.  My conclusion is the neighborhood is good.  The location is not in the new suburbs of Springfield, but in the older, more modest part of downtown.  But the residents clearly take pride in their smallish homes, and I believe where the sisters are is an important part of the city for the church to be in.  Now I’ll see what the Lord thinks about my conclusion after prayer.

Thursday, August 12th.  Stunned is too strong, but I’m still processing the news emailed to the mission from the church last night that 14 additional reassigned missionaries are coming our way on September 7th, bringing the current total to 29 incoming missionaries that day.  With about half that number going home in the September transfer, we need to find areas, phone numbers, beds, and transportation for about 7-8 additional companionships.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough beds for that many new missionaries anymore.  Could it be that I will need to buy more?  I’ll need to do a careful inventory.  The housing assistants, Elder Dailami and Elder Paulson and I headed to Cape Girardeau to secure an apartment that was vacated there in late July.  I’ve been too busy to get there and get my eyes on it.  Today is the day.  It was a sisters’ apartment, so while it needs some cleaning for sure, it needs cleaning out even more.  The closets are loaded with clothing, much of it in really good shape, and some of it still with tags on it.  How does that happen?  It will be a really good day for Goodwill.  We bagged up about 5 trash bags full of donations, and a few more with trash.  The closets of outer darkness live on, despite my preachings.  We also visited a nearby elders apartment where I had requested some maintenance from the landlord, which I wanted to check on, and for whom we had brought a proper kitchen table to replace the plastic folding table they have been using.  I was surprised to find a church-style couch on the back porch, covered with a tarp.  I surmised that the elders had obtained the couch when the nearby stake center burned down a few months ago.  But Missouri humidity would not be kind to couch kept outside for long.  I sized it up, and it looks okay at the moment, so I had the housing assistants haul it into the house.  Because the elders aren’t home and I can’t seem to reach them by phone, I won’t haul their front room couch out without warning to them, but I have been itching to get rid of that 12 foot long circular couch for a year now.  Now I have something to replace it with, and so I will.  My conversations with Sis Hatfield let me know that she is trying to instill a little peace into Kennedy’s life.  She is really struggling with potty training, and we are convinced it is all emotional.  Her life seems a little chaotic and rushed, which is absolutely understandable given the stressful dynamic of three children under five and two parents employed in demanding professions.

Friday, August 13th.  I guess by the calendar this is an unlucky day.  But I didn’t notice anything, particularly.  It started in the office early getting ready for new missionary training that will be held via video conference.  Technical difficulties kept the conference from starting on time, which was in some ways helpful because it gave me a few more minutes to practice a Zoom conference with Sis Hatfield in Alabama where the Wi-Fi signal has not been stellar for her.  It also gave me a chance to prepare a work list for Elders Dailami and Paulson to go out and work on for a few hours.  Sis Hatfield’s training was excellent on how to get help with phone problems, and even better as she invited the pioneering spirit into the meeting.  These missionaries are not always the genetic descendants of the Mormon pioneers, but each one of them is most certainly their spiritual legacy. 

President and Sister Bell said goodbye to their children and grandchildren yesterday who had come from Utah for a short week visit.  Things did not go particularly smoothly travel wise, either coming or going, which certainly adds to the stress and spoiling of plans.  Pres Bell looks tired to me.  Saying goodbye again is hard, I know.  I will pray for him.  His burden is so heavy and relentless.  And it is harder to imagine more difficult news than that Sis Iverson has moved beyond the veil.  It seems so premature to us.  I am confident that the Lord will make everything right in the end.  Elder Dailami has been almost excited the last couple of days.  After months of doctor, clinic, and surgery center visits, all without success, and suffering and pain all the while, he is finally on date for a procedure to definitively remove his kidney stones.  He was crestfallen this afternoon however, when the promised surgery date of Monday got moved back to next Friday, another week from now.  He is more than a little disappointed, verging on angry.  And why wouldn’t he be?  Poor man.  We headed to Carbondale, Illinois to assess a sister apartment.  I’ve been there, of course, and I think the location is ideal.  But some complaints have gotten to Pres Bell that maybe it is too crowded.  I don’t remember that, but will take a look.  Carbondale is the largest city in southern Illinois, established in the mid nineteenth century because of railroad lines.  It is the home to Southern Illinois University, and very much has a college town vibe.  It has been the location of a fair amount of racial strife and activism over the years, including a shoot out between the Black Panthers and police in 1970.  It was also the first place to begin celebrating what became our national Memorial Day.  It was immediately clear what was wrong at the sisters’ apartment.  They had a massive dresser that occupied an entire bedroom wall in a relatively small bedroom.  The beds were set up perpendicularly on the other two walls so that one sister’s feet were at the head of the other sister.  I suggested that we move the dresser out into the second bedroom, being used as an office, which had a practically empty wall.  With a little doing to get the large piece moved, and some needed cleaning underneath things, the problem looks to be solved.  We rehung a towel rack and fixed some broken lights while we were at it, had our prayer, and were on our way.  The sisters seemed genuinely grateful for the attention and assistance.  We stopped in the elders apartment in nearby Murphysboro and gathered up bed pieces stuffed behind a couch, door, and water heater.  We can find better use for it than this. 

Saturday, August 15th was preparation day.  Preparation for Sis Hatfield to return home after her week trip to Phenix City to help Malory and her family adjust to the new baby.  It was a blessing for her to go, and a blessing for her to come back.  We celebrated by eating out at the local Thai restaurant, which brought to mind our dear friends the Cooks, whom we texted while we ate.  I also sent out mission wide messages looking for beds that I may have lost track over the last six months or so.  With my experience in Murphysboro yesterday, I decided I needed to cast out the net and see what I come up with.  There are more missionaries now coming in September than I have beds for.

No comments:

Post a Comment