Saturday, April 21, 2012

Conny Curtis 4/21

 April 21, 2012
I was just thinking the other day of the varied experiences you have while on a mission that would probably never happen if you’d just stayed home.  Like trying to find a parking space in downtown Birmingham when you’re rushing to an appointment.  Or going to a Jefferson County Court House to register three different sets of new cars and each time finding there is a new procedure from the last time that must take before you can complete the task.  You may remember the aggravation we had in the fall at the main Birmingham office. It took over three months and countless trips to finally get those five cars tagged and on the road and then the only way we made it happen was to go to a smaller court in Bessemer.  This time we thought we’d found the trick so went back to the same court with the three new cars that just came in.  Surprise!  No registration or tags could be issued until they physically inspected each car.  Where did that come from? There was no convincing them that we had never had to do this in the past and these were brand new cars right off the lot.  No, they had to see for themselves which meant another sixty mile round trip and enlisting Elder Greenland’s help to take the cars there.  They took a quick look and said, “Yelp, they all match your paperwork”. This took less than five minutes, but that was only the beginning because the next process was to stand in a long line for our turn. You may have heard that Jefferson Co. has declared bankruptcy and are short on workers. To make a long story short, over three hours later we walked out with the tags.  It would have been shorter, but just as the clerk was ready to hand us the registrations she noticed an error and had to start all over.  The error was to our good, but at that point we probably would have just paid the extra if given the choice.  The good news, we will be giving these cars out for missionary use next week.
As for the parking…..that never changes, but this was the first time I’ve been all by myself. I had a dentist appointment and didn’t want Elder Curtis to have to wait (he always has so much to do). I was just glad it was a dentist I was seeing and not a doctor that would be taking my “blood pressure”.  I do have to say, though, that the whole dentist experience filled me with gratitude for kind, generous people that give of their talents to serve others.  It started with my having a tooth that was bothering me. I called our mission nurse to see if she knew a good dentist. That very day a dentist from her ward called me back saying he would see me the next day even though it was Sunday. I didn’t really feel that was necessary, but he insisted and met me at his office between meetings.  After x-rays he felt I needed to be seen by a pariodontist (sp?) and arranged for another member who is in dental school to see me a few days later.  Again, to make a long story short (hmmmmmm) I had some specialty work done and neither dentist charged me for it. It would have cost hundreds even at the school so I was very thankful to these two good men. I need one more procedure done, but have been referred to another student that is training in this area so even if I end up having to pay, it will be at a reduced cost. We have been blessed again.  I feel like I need to send both men’s wives flowers for the time I took them away from home.
We have made several trips up north to our car repair shop.  There is a dealer that is buying four of the cars that have been recently retired so we were back and forth dropping some off for repairs and picking up the ones that were done. We take Elder and Sister Smith with us when we have several cars and it’s always pleasant to spend time with them.  It is also nice to be able to sell these cars so easily.  We will have five more that will need to go through this same process after next week. Selling cars isn’t one of Elder Curtis’ favorite jobs.  He has also been busy getting ready for the ten new missionaries coming in next week. We have eight going home as well.  This transfer will be another time of “hellos and goodbyes”.  Five of our visa missionaries are also leaving so there will be a lot of movement in the mission.  As I’ve said before, time flies and it seems that we were just doing this.  Transfers are every six weeks.  Some of the missionaries that we have become close to will be going home this time.
One of the hardest parts of this coming transfer will be our goodbye to Elder and Sister Rugg.  They were the first couple to greet us after we got our mission call.  He contacted us in Arizona to tell us about our housing and a little of what to expect in the mission.  His wife is the mission nurse.  They live in Utah now, but she is from the south and is very “southern”. Her accent is about as thick as they come and she keeps us entertained.  He has been over the mission housing so he and I interact with all the changes involving that as I keep it updated on the computer.  We have enjoyed serving with them and having them as good friends.  They will be missed.  Last Thursday Pres and Sister Holzapfel had all the couples to the mission home for a going away luncheon in their honor.  There is a new couple arriving in May to replace them.  They will have big shoes to fill. 
Last but not least, our ward has another convert baptism tomorrow morning before church. We will pick up Miss Julia early so she can be ready. I will write more about her and the baptism next week.  Our Sisters are very excited.  They are such devoted and sweet missionaries. Our Italian, Sister Narduzzi, is so full of life….she finds something to get excited about in everything.  She never has a bad day even when it has been filled with doors shut in their faces.  The Sisters stop by our apartment most every evening to report on their day.  They also enjoy the fact that we can bring their mail from the office so they don’t have to wait.  We make big points with that service : -)  We love being able to work with them as well as all the young missionaries.
I can’t close without at least a couple pictures.  The first is one taken near our apartment. The woods here are filled with wild honeysuckle.  The roads and freeways are lined with it and it smells heavenly.  The other picture is of me trying out one of the new bikes that Elder Curtis has ready for a Sister.  I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike.  There are few ‘flat’ places in Alabama…. not even the office parking lot.  Our missionaries put in a day’s work when out biking on the rolling hills. It probably wouldn’t hurt Elder C and me to try it now and then. Whew!  Pres Holzapfel tells a funny story of him trying to keep up with the missionaries on his bike when he first came here.  He assured them he wasn’t dying while laying on the grass huffing and buffing halfway to the church.  That would be me for sure. It was fun for a minute or two around the parking lot today. 
Have a nice Sunday tomorrow.  We send our love and blessings. 
                                 Elder and Sister Curtis           Mom and Dad

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It is a beautiful SPRING day here in'
Alabama.  We hop you day is nice as well.
Love, Elder and Sister Curtis

April 6, 2012
We had a typical Alabama Spring storm today…..foggy on our way to work, a clear morning, hard rain and winds mid-afternoon followed by a beautiful clear sky and everything looking it’s best from the fresh rains. Then tonight we were rushing to beat the severe storm advisory blasting us on our way home from the office.  The rain was so hard we were soaked just running from the office door to our car.  When we got home our weather radio was still calling out warnings for our area, but we were blessed again to be spared anything more than rain.  Unlike Arizona, when they predict rain, it does rains.
We’ve had some nice activities.  Last Wed. Pres. and Sister Holzapfel hosted a potluck luncheon for the couple missionaries.  (We are told we are no longer called ‘seniors’)  They provided grilled chicken and the couples brought various dishes and desserts…..all very good and we had our share and then some.
While on the subject of the mission, I’ve wanted to share a little about how the Alabama Mission came about.  Up to 1978 Alabama was included in the Georgia mission. What change that? Believe it or not, it was the civil war in Iran. The missionionaries had to be immediately evacuated.  Did you even know there had been a Mission in Iran? It’s hard to believe with the conditions there today.  Anyway, that Mission Pres. expected that he would be released but was sent to start up the Alabama Birmingham Mission instead.  A mission home was found, purchased and ready to move into within a week’s time. They started with only the 22 missionaries that were already in the area.  Others were soon brought in from Georgia and Florida. We have had two former Elders who served back then visit the office and it’s interesting to hear of that time and the changes that have taken place in the years since. The mission home still has a large painting on the wall of a scene from Iran.  I’m sure that first Pres. felt he’d gone from one cultural shock to another.  The membership has grown since then and so has the mission, but in many ways it still has a new feel as the church is not always welcomed here.  There is change in the air though.
We made another trip to our body shop in Boaz to pick up a retired car that had been repaired.  A lady was coming from MS to look at it and since it is lime green and we had been sure it wouldn’t sell, we were willing to drop everything and make the hurried drive.  I do have to say that the drive has become so beautiful now that all is lush green again.  And the best part….the lady loved the car and bought it on the spot.  Whew!  We really hadn’t expected that.  We gave out four new cars at last transfers and have three more new ones ready to pick up from the dealer.  That means retiring cars and more cars to get ready to sell.  It’s been nice not having to worry about that.  More work for Elder C.  He is so, so busy.
Both Elder C and I gave short presentations at the Zone Training meetings last Thurs.  We planned to take the day off on Friday and attend a “Spring Antebellum” event in Columbus, MS with a couple from our ward.  We have been planning this for five months and now the day was here and the couple couldn’t go because of a family problem.  We talked of still going, but when both our phones started ringing at 7:00 that morning with missionaries needing help, we decided it just wasn’t working.  Sigh!  It was a disappointment.  They have beautiful 1800’s plantations there and this week were having many special events including people dressed in period costume and several different tours.  I’m not sure we’ll ever have a chance like this again.  We missed out, but perhaps can still see some of the homes another time.
On Thurs of this week we picked up six more visa waiters. All six will be going to Argentina…..nice, nice young men.  One of the group is from Snowflake, AZ where several of our children live. He said he meets in the same building as Lynn and Ben and has heard of their families. Another one is from Lilburn, GA which is right next to where we lived. He is in the same stake as Sis.Findlay whom we worked with and he knows her well. In fact, his mother used to volunteer at the Employment Center where we served.  It’s always fun to make connections.  We were invited to share dinner with them at the mission home as it was late by the time all their paperwork and interviews were finished and we needed to transport them to their motel for the night.  We always enjoy that time with the new missionaries.  Out of the eleven visa waiters that came a few weeks ago only two have left so our mission is bulging now, but that’s good. Our mission takes in more visa missionaries than all others combined thanks to Pres. Holzapfel.  We also have our first “Couple visa waiters”.  Elder and Sister Beckstead are waiting for their visa to New Zealand and didn’t want to just go back home so asked to come here.  He is a retired Rocket Scientist and has worked in Huntsville in the past. Their son is also married to Holzapfel’s daughter.
Of course, we so enjoyed General Conference last weekend.  We went to the Birmingham Stake for the first session then, other than Priesthood meeting, watched the rest on our Internet.  So many good subjects were covered and we learned from each. What a blessing to hear from the leaders.  The music seemed extra beautiful….we loved watching the Elders and Sister from the MTC and looked closely to see if any of them might be ours, but then realized our next group wouldn’t be going in until later that week.  I’m sure for those who were able to perform it will be a cherished memory.
We are looking forward to Easter weekend.  Our ward is having a breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt and then we were invited to Sunday dinner with our dear friend, Sis Tipper.  We will also have a phone conference devotional this evening with Pres. Holzapfel.  May you all have a wonderful Easter as we remember that God’s greatest love comes to us through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection, the love of God becomes real; we know that God loves us deeply and completely.  No matter where we are, we can be filled with joy as we praise God and give thanks for the gift of His son and His unending love for each of His children.
                      Blessings and love,   Sister and Elder Curtis      Mom/Dad 
P.S.  The pictures are of the Mission Home and office and our apartment in Calera

Sister Nivla Hatch's funeral was Monday April 9, 2012 in the San Tan Stake Center in Gilbert, AZ

The building was was also shown via closed-circuit TV in another Church building.  It was a beautiful and fitting celebration of a beautiful life.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

                                                                                                      March 26, 2012
We’re in Alabama and its SPRING!  Sometimes it feels like we are driving through a movie set or even a dream and it has only just begun.  Everyday nature brings new surprises. We’re remembering why we loved the south.  This is the beauty that we fell in love with and much of it just grows wild in the woods.
The first half of the weeks was busy with Zone Conferences.  You might ask, “Didn’t we just have Zone Meeting?”  And you are right.  This would have been an off month, however, Elder Smally, who is the doctor for the Southern states, was visiting and wanted to speak to all the missionaries.  Holding two multi conferences seemed to be the best way to accomplish this.  Elder and Sister Smally live in Georgia and don’t get this way often.  You can imagine how busy they are covering several missions.  They spoke for a good part of the two morning meetings, but we were out with the cars so didn’t spend much time with them.  I did visit with Sister Smally and enjoyed meeting her.  They live in Peach Tree City which we loved while in Georgia and said if we ever went back that is where we would want to settle.
The first Conference was in Huntsville which meant getting up at 4:00 in order to pick up the van and make the two plus hour drive to arrive and be ready at 8:00 am. We spent Monday putting together supply orders and setting everything else up for the trip. In fact, we were at the office Saturday as well so there had been no break from our last busy week.  It’s a good thing we love what we’re doing.
        Assistants helping to load the mission van             Elder and Sister Smally visit from Georgia
I had also been asked to give a short training on how to receive, act and report on refurrals during the meeting as well as put together another clothing exchange.  It’s amazing that we can keep doing the clothing and household items exchanges so often.  Most are things left from missionaries, but there are also a lot that are donated.  The missionaries seem to appreciate it.
Elder Curtis had put in a lot of time the weeks before the conferences making arrangements to finish up the TIWI program that I wrote about a while back.  We couldn’t give out the five new cars that have been sitting in the parking lot until they each had one installed and there were several others that had been missed from the first instalation as well as several that were having problems or not working at all.  Salt Lake would only arrange one day for this to be taken care of so it involved getting all those cars in one place on that day.  That place and day was during the second conference held in Birmingham. Huntsville had gone so smoothly we had even been able to join the afternoon portion of conference. As always, we enjoyed and learned from listening to Pres. Holzapfel.  Birmingham was another story.  Not only were there three times as many people, but that many more cars to inspect as well as the TIWI issues.  To top it off we were also exchanging out some of the cars for the new ones.  Everyone wanted a piece of Elder Curtis’ time. We have already seen benefits from the TIWI use, but there have also been some headaches. This was a big step for the Church to take adding these to so many missions at the same time.  It seems the company wasn’t prepared for such a large undertaking, but it is slowly working out the problems.  Someday having the divices in all the cars will probably be as natural as having all the missionaries wear bike helmets.  I remember when that change was made and now no one even questions it.  In the meantime, this is a big job for the church and for Elder Curtis.
Pres and Sister Holzapfel had a couple from their home ward in Utah here visiting and they both took part in the conference.  She spoke on getting a proper diet and he spoke on the scriptures. They both were very knowledgeable.  Elder C and I were invited to join them and another mission couple for dinner after the conference.  We warned them that it is usually hard for us to get away, but they insisted on waiting and it turned out to be a very nice evning.  It was nice to be able to visit in a relaxed setting.  The friends (I’m not using names) were interesting to get to know and it is unusual to visit with the President in this kind of situation.  We felt priviledges to be included and hope to be able to continue our association with the couple . They attended our office devotional the following morning and then he met with Elder Curtis and presented a sizable donation for the use of buying and repairing bycicles for those who can’t affored this. What a  blessing as we have been told mission funds can no longer be used in this way.  We have already had to figure out ways to get bikes for several missionaries and we have three more coming from Africa that will need help so this was a gift of great value.
Since Wed. things have settled down for us…..we didn’t even go to the office on Saturday!  We did, however, attended the “second” convert baptism in Columbiana since the Sisters have been here.  Every- one is excited about their work and accomplishments.  We love our new Sister.  She is not only knowledgeable, outgoing and sweet, but is delightful with her fun personality and Italian accent.  She stepped right in with Sister Robinson to finish teaching Bobby Jo Davis.  Sisters Robinson and Albright had tracted in to him.  He is a kind, gentle man who takes care of his invalade mother.  Although it was difficult for her, she did attend the service.  There was a strong spirit there.  Bro. Andrews from the ward baptized Jo and Elder Curtis comfirmed him during the Sac. Meeting this morning.  Nice day.
We hope this has been a nice Sunday for each of you as well.  We send our love and blessings.
       Mom and Dad      /    Elder and Sister Curtis