Cannot believe that it is Wednesday already. This last week has flown by, and today I didn't even know what day it Was! Last week, Tuesday night, 25 new missionaries arrived in the mission. A lot of planning had to go into getting them picked up at the airport (Syracuse, NY), transported to Utica, etc. The mission president takes them for pizza first, and then they come back to the stake center for some training. There was too much luggage to bring to the mission home, so each missionary was given a white garbage bag to bring their "essentials" for spending the night and the luggage was left in the chapel overflow until the next morning. We had two elders stay with us -- both waiting for their Brazilian visas and reassigned to our mission. We had to be back over to the church at 7:15 in the morning to get ready for breakfast. Because of the size of the group, the breakfast had to be at the church. 40 people was too much, even for the mission home.
After breakfast (and during breakfast too) the mission president interviewed the new missionaries so he could assign trainers and decide on the transfers. This is a huge undertaking for the mission president, and I saw how much The Lord is a part of these undertakings. A man alone could not do the work -- the Spirit is such a huge part of these decisions, and the mission president is inspired. At 10:30 the trainers met, and then they separated and sat on the two sides of the chapel while the 24 new missionaries sat in the center. Then the president announced the companions. It was a neat experience to be part of this process. Pres. Wirthlin is a wonderful man, and I have a lot of respect for him. We took pictures and served lunch to about 100, then there was training until about 3:30. Lots of missionaries in the office looking for their mail -- a lot of energy in the office when the missionaries are there. I was responsible for getting about 250 letters out to missionaries, parents, bishops and stake presidents. Had no idea about all of the paperwork with transfers and the new missionaries!!!! I am getting the system into my brain a bit better, but now we have 24 missionaries coming the 30th of March and we do it again!!! Dad has to get 10 more apartments leased and the four of us (the other office couple) will be getting the furnishings.
Saturday we did some shopping, laundry at the laundromat and then had the other office couple over for chili. We realized that our vacuum was not working -- 3 weeks in the apartment and nothing being cleaned up. Kind of sickening, even though the carpet had been cleaned before we moved in. We had a nice evening, and it is fun to get to know the Barlow's better. We were able to get a new vacuum and vacuuming this apartment once filled up the canister!!
Our branch is a small group -- 50 people there on Sunday was a stretch. We have three or four in wheelchairs and several are heavy smokers. Many women come in pants and some in jeans. I do not say this in criticism, just to say that these are humble people, new in the church, and doing their best to make huge changes in their lives. The primary children sang in sacrament meeting--all eight of them, and five were from one family. Seminary is held on Tuesday nights, and there is no Mutual or scouting program because the number of youth is so small. It takes a lot of dedication for the active members to provide the regular church programs for their children. One family brings their two boys to Utica for scouts, and that is a 40 mile trip one way.
I came home from church, had a spoon of peanut butter and then took a 2 1/2 hour nap. I could not lie down fast enough! I was dragging on Sunday. When we came out of church the wind was blowing and the wind chill was -3'. It was soooooooo cold! Being under my minky blanket felt so good, and I did not even want to come out to have dinner.
We have had three missionaries go home since we have been here. Two had depression problems that could not be taken care of in the mission. Hopefully they will be able to come back. The other elder was a great missionary. Had just been made trainer, and he had physical problems (deformities) where his jaw would lock and he was in the ER three times in two days. Finally the ER doctor said he needed to go home to have extensive surgery. He needs to have major surgery and hopes to be back in 6 - 7 months. The other missionaries love him and he has a special spirit about him. I hope the surgery will be done so that he can come back to the mission. The president said today that he has never had so many homesick missionaries -- 7 of the new missionaries. They are young and many have not been away from home before -- a challenge for both missionaries and mission president. I have a great deal of admiration for young missionaries. It is not easy, and they have to be strong in mind and body. A mission is a great blessing in their lives, but there are challenges!
We are loving our office experiences. It is interesting to be a part of the inner-workings of a mission. There is so much that is done behind the scenes. A mission president has to be inspired to effectively lead, and I am so grateful for ours. I know we have been sent here for a reason, and I am grateful for this experience. I have never worked harder and longer in a day's time, but I am thrilled to be a part of this great work. I can see the Lord's hand and influence each day in this work and pray I can be worthy of the incredible blessings I have had in my life.
Have not taken any pictures this week -- only of new missionaries, and I did not want to send those. Love getting your pictures, so keep on sending them....
My life has been blessed because of each of you. Love you all, Mom