Sunday, October 17th. I was asked to give a short talk today and I chose as my topic the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that the Resurrection is the keystone of Christianity. If it happened, Christ must be worshipped as who He proclaimed to be—the Son of God. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. The Resurrection is the single most important event evidencing Christ’s divinity. Because He was resurrected, Jesus had to have been a God, the Only Begotten Son of the Father. As mortals, we cannot understand how the Resurrection occurred. It is the supreme miracle. But because of the Resurrection, we can believe Christ’s words that He had a power to which we can look for redemption. The Resurrection was wrought by that same power that wipes away sin, pays for injustice, and heals the infirm. The Resurrection makes our bodies everlasting, physically at one with Christ and God, just as the Atonement promises to make our spirits one with God. Jesus Christ is the only name or way by which we can receive salvation. I also gave my final testimony to the Pagedale branch members. After services, Sis Hatfield and I provided a little lunch for the branch. It was delightful, and an important chance to say goodbye. We only wish we had had the opportunity to have more branch socials, but that wasn’t possible because of the Pandemic. Then we were off to the mission office for training. This is transfer Sunday, with much to be done and lots to share with the Sapps and the Winsors. While training Sis Winsor on departing missionary flight check-ins, boarding passes, and other final documents, it was discovered that Sis Leavitt still has a ticket to fly home tomorrow, although her mission was extended for a transfer. Sis Hatfield and Sis Winsor were on the phone with church travel to try to straighten that out. I showed Elder Winsor how to put together traveling missionary snack packs. The discrepancy of the level of training importance is obvious. Then were off to greet the departing missionaries at the mission home. They included three former housing assistants--Elders Buck, Dailami, and Smith. And it also included Sis Hatfield and me. We stayed for the departing missionary dinner at the mission home and testimonies, sweet traditions in missions all around the world. The growth and accomplishments of these young disciples of Christ is inspiring. Later that evening, Sis Hatfield jumped into the planning for Elder Wright who, heading for Ecuador, did not need a COVID test, surprisingly, but did need an original typhoid vaccination card. His parents had sent it to him via the USPS overnight mail on Thursday but it had not arrived and likely would not be here for his flight early tomorrow. He had a picture of the vaccination card, and church travel advised that he show up at the ticket counter in the morning and see if they would let him board. That strategy is a bit risky: even if the airline lets him board, will immigration let him enter?
Monday, October 18th began with a trip to the airport with the luggage for the departing missionaries. By now, I usually let the housing assistants take the luggage without me. But Elder Sapp hasn’t seen the process before, so we both go on the early morning run so that he has departure procedures better in mind. And there was a small miracle. Mr. Airport Parking Security was not at the entrance station, and the person on duty was more than willing to let us in. Avoiding the curb with the truck, trailer, and a van full of missionaries is a rare blessing. Back at the office, Elder Sapp and I continue with transfer planning, which by COVID mission standards, is light. With our schedule for the next couple of days mapped out, we head over to Fairmont City and Fairview Heights, Illinois to set up a tri and develop more information on possible locations for another apartment. The President feels like we need a place that could either get the two companionships out of one apartment, and leave open the possibility for a sisters companionship in the Fairmont City Spanish branch. Having a list of a few possibilities from an internet search, we are able to look at neighborhoods and eliminate 1 or 2 contenders. Things like suitability of neighborhoods for possible bike use and other safety issues are hard to judge on Google Maps. While there, we fixed a stove burner by plugging it into its socket, discarded a mostly full bag of cement, evaluated carpets for cleaning, sprayed down shower mold, cleaned dusty and dirty HVAC vents, and repaired torn sheetrock paper. How do some of these things happen? We have a new carpet cleaning man recommended by an apartment manager. We gave him a trial run on the Allemans’ carpet and had the chance to meet him at their apartment. He is a very kind, considerate person. We’ll see how he does at cleaning carpets. His business is new, and it would be nice to have someone that is anxious for the business. We stopped to see the sisters in Shilo/Lebanon, Ill. They need a set up for a third sister beginning on Wednesday, and as it turned out, a vacuum intervention, a furnace filter, and a few other minor things. We made it back to the office and I worked with Elder Sapp on the rent payment schedule until 10 pm. This may be the single most important recurring task that Elder Sapp will have. It seems like it should be the same every month, but there are prorations, adjustments, and new leases every month, so the work is detailed and painstaking. Meanwhile, Sis Sapp has run out of steam today. Sis Hatfield is filling in to be ready for foreign transferring missionaries, and since she has been training Sis Winsor on mission secretary duties all day, the foreign transfer work had to be done tonight. Yes, Sis Hatfield’s work really will be taken over in time by three other full time senior sisters.
Tuesday, October 19th. It does seem there has been a bit of an epidemic in bedbugs. This morning, the Champaign sisters called to say that they believe they are infested. I had no choice to let Pres Bell know so he could consider whether transfers involving the Champaign sisters should be suspended until we have the bedbugs under control. Meanwhile, the sisters have found a member that has ownership in an Orkin pest control business in the area. He has agreed to send one of his technicians out to assess and address the problem. I gave him a call to thank him and he insists on taking care of the costs. Pres Bell has decided that the Champaign sisters will sit out the transfer for about 10 days until we have more clarity or control over the bedbug situation. We also discovered that Sis Johnson, who just went home from Champaign and stayed in the Lindell sisters’ dormitory apartment, left her sweatshirt there. So there is a chance that the Lindell apartment is now infested, with half a dozen new sisters arriving today and expecting to stay there overnight. The only thing worse than bedbugs in Champaign is bedbugs throughout the mission. I worked through the rent roll one more time with Elder Sapp. There were several wrinkles, like getting the Springfield elders apartment on credit card payment--that manager has stopped taking checks--and a landlord change in Smithton Ridge, Missouri. We continued our transfer planning until 10:30 pm, with Sis Hatfield fighting feelings that she is not doing enough. I don’t know how she could do more.
Tuesday, October 20th. Our last transfer day has finally arrived. I met Elder Sapp and the young missionaries at the Frontenac building early to set up, doing everything deliberately so that the uninitiated will have an idea what we are doing. One of those is Elder Steed, a young missionary that is joining the housing assistants in a tri so that when Elder Paulson goes next transfer there will be a little more continuity. Sis Hatfield gave the new missionary orientation for Sis Winsor and Sis Sapp so that they could see how it was done, but I sat in the pews and watched Elder Sapp give the housing orientation. He is a sensitive, big hearted man that will be a real blessing to the mission. The transfer went well, thanks in part to its moderate size. That has not happened in a great while. Afterwards, we treated the assistants to the President, housing assistants, and traveling technology trainers to lunch at Five Guys--my post transfer tradition with the housing assistants. It has been a blessing to serve with all these devoted disciples. Afterwards, it was time to finish the transfer set up. With the new housing assistant plus Elder Sapp, the truck’s four seats would be full. I sat out the afternoon’s housing fieldwork for the first time in almost two years. It now feels like my time is nearing the end. That night, a dishwasher water valve was broken by the housing assistants in the Parkway 1st apartment chasing mice. Water was gushing when they called me. I talked them through finding the cold water shut off in the mechanical room. They mopped things up and rounded up fans to start drying things out. We’ll deal with the water valve tomorrow.
Thursday, October 21st I organized Elder Sapp and the housing assistants to make a trip to the Springfield and Champaign zones. One of the odd tasks was to deliver luggage to two missionaries: one had left his for lack of room in the car right back to Springfield, Illinois. The other was luggage that was simply forgotten and left at transfers. How do you forget your luggage when you move? Another unusual task was to take the spare key kept in the office by the vehicle coordinator to the Springfield elders, zone leaders no less, who had locked themselves out of their car. I might have felt left out, but I had a lot to do to start getting ready for our return trip to Provo early next week. We have not had a minute to think about it. And I was able to do some important lease work, like meet the St Peters sisters to sign some lease renewal documents. Sometimes managers insist that residents sign the apartment rules and such, even if the church is the actual leasee and financially responsible party. It also gave Sis Hatfield and I an opportunity to meet with Pres Bell and have temple recommend and departing interviews. What a blessing it has been to serve alongside Sis Hatfield and under Pres Bell. Generously, the Bells invited us to dinner that evening where we celebrated our imminent departure. Who knew there would be such good cajun food in St Louis? The office staff is a completely different mix of personalities and talents now. I think the Bells are a bit wistful that we are leaving them. And that is probably the hardest part about leaving for us, knowing that the Bells will need to carry on without us.
Friday, October 22nd is our last day in the Missouri St Louis Mission office. Can it be? It has become second nature to us by now. One fear is not having a place to be at 9 am every morning. It was staff meeting today, and I gave my final devotional. It was centered around the story of Naaman and the difficulty he had in washing in the River Jordan, a rather simple matter. We all have our Jordan Rivers to wash in. Simple direction from the apostles and the whisperings of the Spirit. Recently, Pres Nelson has counselled us to make time for the Lord. That is a Jordan River I need to keep washing in. Sis Hatfield has done such a great job of patiently sharing her knowledge with Sis Winsor and Sis Sapp. I know that this is the Lord’s work and he will sustain them. Meanwhile, Elder Sapp and the housing assistants are in the Columbia zone today. I use the afternoon to help Elder Everton with finances, which he is still bridging until the Nielsons come in November. There are so many confusing details for which he has no context. I have been around the financial secretary, Elder Jacob long enough that I have much context and a decent familiarity with the financial software. I have invited Elder Everton to stay in touch if I can be of assistance in coming days. That evening, Sis Hatfield and I were in a quiet office by ourselves, much like we have been in the evenings for almost two years now. We took the opportunity to make a silly little video, saying “It is time to go!” and shared one last message on the zone chats for all the young missionaries to see. Goodbye friends.
Saturday, October 23rd. After a long day of packing and other preparations, we couldn’t leave St Louis without a last supper with Chris and Carmen Jacob, our dear office missionary friends. After dinner with them, it was our good luck that it was St Louis stake conference, so we headed together to the Saturday evening adult session. The messages were excellent, and we had the opportunity to say goodbye to many, members and missionaries alike. It was bittersweet for sure. We went home with some heaviness in our hearts, even though it was time for us to go.