Today we celebrate 6 months into our mission. Hard to believe, but true. When we first arrived, we felt like we were drowning, couldn't keep our heads above water, with all the responsibilities we had to learn-FAST. Now we feel like we are at least swimming with the flow. Maybe by the end of our mission, we will feel like we are floating along without a care in the world. It has been quite a 6 month ride both physically and spiritually.
This past week was primarily spent in the office. However, on Tuesday, we took some new bed foundations over to the Elders in Greenwich which is just north of Albany. While there we looked at the possibility of moving the Elders to another apartment. The current apartment is nice and large, but the landlord has been apparently going into the apartment without telling the Elders. The Elders learned this from some Church members who said they saw this happening. The landlord apparently doesn't like the Church so is making it known. Fortunately, the Ward Mission Leader has a spare apartment above his house that he said he could fix up. We saw it but were not impressed. However after learning what he would do to fix it up, we said OK. We also went to see an apartment in Saratoga Springs -- where a famous thorough-bred horse race track is located. Saratoga Springs is a quaint little town -- the apartment was fine. We are trying to check on the apartments that have had long-term leases. The tendency is for the apartments to acquire a lot of junk furniture and such, which makes it difficult for incoming missionaries. This apartment was quite nice, actually, although it is a bit dark for me. We are going to have a Day of De-Junking in a couple of weeks. It is quite interesting that most of the villages allow their people to just put junk out on the side of the road and the garbage removal people take it all away. Guess there are no public dumping areas.
We are seeing more parts of the mission and it is beautiful this time of year...so green, but humid. We are preparing for the next group of new missionaries, but thankfully, only 8 this month. But that means 3 new apartments - one near the office and the other two at the far north and east (Glenns Falls -- Jimmer's home town).
Friday night we traveled to the south with the other office couple, AP's and Mission President and his wife to see a historical exhibit on Joseph & Emma Smith. They had quite a nice exhibit, and that was the area where Joseph and Emma were married. There is so MUCH church history here,
Friday and Saturday the President sent missionaries to help clean up the basements in the flooded areas of our branch and other places. It was hot and sticky, but the missionaries did work hard and cleaned about 20 homes, primarily not members of the church. The Mission President told me to purchase a pallet of bottled water which was delivered to the Salvation Army. The Church is partnering with the Salvation Army and the Methodist Church to help the community. Members of the Methodist Church were so impressed that they offered to feed the missionaries. We met a man whose basement was being cleaned by the missionaries and he was so grateful he had tears running down his face. Today in Sacrament Meeting the member of the stake presidency residing in the branch and in charge of the community clean-up effort related an experience he had yesterday. The missionaries are assigned to certain homes, and he was out checking to see how things were going. He went to the house where the missionaries were supposed to be and they were not there. He was a bit confused that they would not have been there -- he went out looking for the yellow "Mormon helping hands" tee shirts and located the missionaries. They thought they were at the right place, and it so happened that this was a single woman in dire circumstances and desperately needed their help. I am learning that there are no coincidences in this work -- the Lord is in charge -- He wanted the missionaries at this woman's home yesterday. It was a touching story about how these service projects can change not only the lives of the people being helped but change the lives of those who are giving the service.
Saturday, a man was baptized in the branch who is married to a member (Hawaiian). We have watched the transformation in this man that the gospel in his life has made. Truly wonderful.
After the baptism, the missionaries starting arriving after a day spent cleaning up the muck.They were so dirty, but had smiling faces and glad to be doing service. They will be going out again tomorrow and then again next Friday and Saturday. The whole stake is trying to provide the service, and there were a few people from the northern end of the mission about 3 1/2 hours away.
The missionaries were filthy dirty, smelly from the awful, mud and excited to have done this service. Might I add, the water in the village of Herkimer is not drinkable and the gas is turned off as well. The drinking fountains at the church were even off limits. Notice that every missionary has on something other than the yellow shirts that sets them apart from everyone else -- you have it, the black badges. These badges are worn with respect, and we love the name tags and what they mean in our lives. It is a privilege to be part of the Lord's army of missionaries, and I hope that we will always be worthy to wear these name tags.
We send you our love -- lots of love -- and hope this finds each one well and happy. We are very blessed.
Elder & Sister Cuter, Mom & Dad, Grammy & Papa, Friend