We have been negligent in writing in our journal, but sometimes it seems as though we are saying the same things each week. Each week is very different, but in some ways much the same. We both have had bugs, but thankfully at different times, and now Dad is feeling better – that is a very good thing!!! It is hard to get up and keep going all day when one is so much under the weather. We have had three very full weeks. Dad is very involved in getting new apartments to handle the new missionaries. This transfer (Mar 20) he had to find nine apartments. Many tender mercies and miracles have occurred in the apartment leasing department. The first was in Canton, NY. Canton is a university town (two universities) and it is very difficult to find available apartments in the middle of the school year. So when Pres. Wirthlin said that he wanted to open up that area, we wondered how. After several disappointing tries, we were at a loss. But just as Elder Barlow and Dad were about to leave with furniture for a new apartment up north, the Zone Leaders called and said that they might have found a place. They sent pictures which Dad approved. He then called the landlord and within 30 minutes a lease was emailed and signed, checks were written and additional furniture was added for the trip. Once they finished unloading the furniture, the question was asked about who occupied the front unit. It was a 60 year old single man. Well, Dad & Elder Barlow were taken back, because they were told that Sisters would be occupying the apartment and that might not be good. They decided to think about it for the weekend and didn’t tell Pres. Wirthlin. That was Friday. On Sunday, we learned that Pres. Wirthlin had been prompted to put Elders in the area instead of Sisters. All without us saying a word to him.
Also earlier that week, Pres.Wirthlin, decided to add another area to open in Troy. So, the Zone Leaders went to work and found a possible unit. In the pictures, it looked really small, but the Elders said that it would work. So Dad called the landlord and asked when the unit could be available. The landlord said that it would be available on April 1st. Dad told him that we needed it by the 18th and the discussion was ended. Two hours later, the landlord called and said that he had heard that you never turn down an opportunity to lease an apartment to Mormon Missionaries. He decided that he was going to kick the existing tenant out over the weekend and the unit would be ready on the 18th. And it was furnished by Dad and Elder Barlow on the 18th. One question the Landlord had was this: “I know something about the Church, but could never understand how two people who have opposite political views could belong to the same Church (Romney & Reid).” Dad had found the only conservative in Up-State NY.
Our branch had a temple trip to the Palmyra Temple on the 9th. It is a two-hour trip, so we needed to leave fairly early (7:45 am). We did sealings for the first while, and then we went to the 11:00 session with just another couple from the branch. Another couple who have only been members of the church since July did 20 baptisms. This couple is really amazing, and they have a wonderful conversion story. His brother is in the stake presidency, also a convert. It was such a thrilling experience to enter the celestial room. The sun was shining and the light coming through stained-glass windows was breathtaking. The stained windows were of the sacred grove. Dad had a Primary lesson to give the next day about the printing of the Book of Mormon, so we wanted to go to the Grandin Print Shop, where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed. The other office couple wanted to see the Print Shop as well, and while standing there she saw her cousin and family there who were visiting from Texas. It was a wonderful experience for her. We did not stay in Palmyra long, but we had lunch with the Barlow’s and headed back to Utica.
The weeks are full – one of my responsibilities is getting the President’s Letter out to the missionaries on Monday morning by 10:00. Sometimes it goes easily, and others it is a huge challenge. I also have the monthly newsletter to print up each month. That can be an even bigger challenge. I am learning, but there are times when the frustration level reaches a very high point!! With the increase of the number of missionaries, it has increased a lot of paperwork. The mission president is trying to think of ways to decrease the amount of money spent on postage. The last transfer I sent out about 250 letters, and I think that some of those letters will be changed to emails – however that will take more time in some respects.One of the things I miss about home is having a washer and dryer. The basement has spooked both of us, so we go to a Laundromat. (Remember that the basement was flooded when we first moved in and some of our stuff was soaking wet. We just have not wanted to go downstairs -- who knows what kind of things I have going on in my head!) Trying to find time for the laundry has been a challenge, and though it is a little more expensive we just prefer to do it all at once. We are now saving our quarters. The plus side is that we can have ALL of the laundry done in less than 1.5 hours – plus folding time. So it is not all bad. At home it would take me most of the day because our washer is so small. We just do what we have to do, and I am glad not to have to go down into the basement.
Saturdays are our Preparation Days, but they have often been taken with mission activities. We have to try and fit in laundry, grocery shopping, errands, etc. whenever we can. Last Saturday was an exception. We took the morning and went to a Maple Syrup Factory where they served us pancakes, sausage and of course their famous maple syrup. Our GPS took us to the wrong town, but we had a grand time anyway. We saw a lot of very old homes, open spaces with a lot of snow. The problem we have is that what we think is interesting when we look at it does not turn out very well with the pictures because with the white snow, white sky, etc. there is not the contrast that is so pretty when we have blue sky. We had fresh snow on the ground, so it was pretty cold. We went to Ben & Judy’s Sugarhouse. It was a lot of fun. Their process for producing maple syrup is really interesting, and we did take pictures while we were there. We had to prepare our talks for Sacrament Meeting, so that took up time that afternoon. President and Sister Wirthlin surprised us by coming to our branch meetings last Sunday. Of course I was nervous as could be.This week was taken up with transfers. The plan was to pick up the missionaries on Tuesday night, bring them back to Utica and then serve them breakfast on Wednesday, training, lunch for the new missionaries and their trainers, pictures, and then more training in the afternoon. A big snow storm in Chicago changed the plans – all the missionaries (25) were stranded in Chicago. We had to change our plans as well. Instead of meeting here in Utica, we had to move to Liverpool, an hour away, closer to the Syracuse Airport. Everything worked out fine, but when we came back to the office (about 3:30), I received a call from Salt Lake asking about where the two Temple Square missionaries were. I told her they were safe in Syracuse – but she said they were supposed to be at the SLC airport. I don’t know how many of us thought their flight was on Thursday, but the Church Travel Department had to get them new tickets. That was the hugest blessing for me. They came into the office the next day and helped with the training packets, new missionary packets, baptism picture board, and printing of the pictures taken on Wednesday. It was such a blessing for me to have these projects done. That was something that I have wanted to do for a couple of weeks – get some of these things done for the next transfer the end of April!!! Then on Friday afternoon Dad was finished early and he helped me get my files organized so that I know where everything is. The previous secretary had her own system, and it just was not working well for me. It was a huge help. Now my next “organization” project is the files on my computer. They just do not make any sense—I will be much more effective when things are organized my way and I can find files and such without a lot of time. Now if I could just get the mail merge under control!!
Yesterday we had an all-mission conference. It was an incredible experience. Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Gordon H. Smith, Area Seventy of the Northeast plus their wives were there. Presidents Joseph B. Wirthlin Jr. of the New York Utica Mission and Jack R. Christianson of the New York Rochester Mission along with their wives were also in attendance. The priesthood power in the room was palpable, and the spirit was so strong during the meeting. Three hours of intense instruction under the direction of Elder Bednar – it was such a wonderful three hours. He had instructed the missionaries to read three of his talks, and then the instruction came from his asking how these talks had impressed the missionaries. He then asked the missionary (the one who had stood) several thought-provoking questions. The answers of the missionaries were incredible – he was teaching them (and us) how to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and not be afraid of opening our mouths. He had the other General Authorities and their wives speak on different topics, and then each of them bore strong testimonies. The Spirit was very strong, and I doubt if we will ever see that many General Authorities in one place giving instruction except at General Conference.