May 9, 2012
It’s Saturday and I’ve decided to stay home while Elder C finishes up his reports at the office. This was Transfer week and as expected, we were kept running. Monday morning began with us meeting two Elders in Tuscaloosa. The church and the mission have come up with a new policy on the bicycle program. Mission funds can no longer be used in any way to purchase or repair bikes. Even more of a setback, we are not longer able to purchase bikes from missionaries completing their mission to sell to incoming missionaries or to help incoming missionaries connect with a missionary going home to make their own arrangements. It has been hard to let go of the bikes as Elder Curtis had a pretty good thing going. There were usually several missionaries willing to sell their bikes for a reasonable price. We would buy them then spend another hundred or so having them gone over at the bike shop we work with. The final cost to the missionary was around $250, which was a big savings, paid us back and they ended up with a good bike. Now any missionary going home can either donate their bike or pay to have it shipped home. We were told “We are out of the bike business!” In time it will probably come together, but for now that is easier said than done. We have missionaries coming from other countries that have no funds and even in the US there are families that just can’t afford the high cost of the heavy duty bikes that are needed here. We also have the visa waiters who the mission provides bikes for and these bikes constantly need repairs or at times we don’t even get back the same bike we sent out. Hmmmmm
We got a good laugh over this visa bike that was returned….notice, no handle bars, seat, back wheel or chain then look to the next picture where it clearly states on the bike, “Do not add or REMOVE anything from Mission Bike”.
We had quite a go round this time making sure each of the 11 fulltime missionaries coming in had a bike, that the five unexpected visa missionaries were taken care as well as the two Temple Sq Sisters coming. You would think the Temple and visa missionaries would just be an easy trade with the ones leaving, but you can see from the picture above – that isn’t always the case. We have learned more about bicycles than we even knew there was to learn. Like the fact they have to be fitted to size. You can’t give a bike that a 5’7” Elder has been using to a 6’5” Elder, or one that fits a 140 lbs to someone 300 lbs. We had three bikes “smashed” by a 320 lb Tongan. He’s a great Elder, but we were glad when his visa came in.
We have had some happy experiences through all this, though. A few months ago an Elder arrived from Samoa and literally had nothing. The MTC had supplied him with ALL his clothes and even a suitcase. We gave him the best bike we could find at the time, but knew it wasn’t the right fit. Just a few weeks ago we were able to use donated funds to purchase him a brand new bike and boy, was he pleased. He is quite shy, but his face showed it all. These times are priceless in our mission memories.
That brings me back to why we traveled to Tuscaloosa early Monday morning. The two Elders above told us they would donate their bikes if we would take them out to dinner (this arrangement was made back when we were still in the bike buying business) We could never make dinner (they live over an hour from the office) but being down to the last minute they settled for breakfast and we picked up the bikes. A good trade. The bikes are already in use. To our surprise, three other Elders ended up donating theirs; that helps in the mission cause. Hopefully, this will catch on and we’ll end up with a good supply. Most of the others leaving either sold or gave to members, or shipped them home. That’s the bike story for now.
We had to hurry back from our breakfast date Monday to take three visa missionaries to the airport where they boarded a plane headed to Argentina. Just a few munities later I met five new visa waiters coming in. The following day we arrived at the airport to transport the eleven new Alabama missionaries that Pres. and Sister Holzapfel had met there. Great young missionaries. Elder Jarvis is from north Mesa. It’s always fun to find connections. That was a full day…interviews at the mission office and then dinner at the mission home and finally dropping them off at a hotel where I’m sure they fell asleep as soon as they hit the bed. It had been a long, exciting day for them as well.
Getting the missionaries where they need to be is only part of the Transfer planning. I didn’t get the final list of changes until the day before and with the office full of people wasn’t able to even think of working on IMOS. There were also large orders for media to be sorted out and packaged to take to Transfers on Wed. Once again, Elder C was dealing with Tiwi issues and had been making arrangements to have an installer as well as all the cars with issues be at the Stake Center. Will this problem ever go away? We got there early Wed. to be ready. It is so nice to only have to drive 15 min instead of 45.
I was able to sit in on most of the Transfer meeting. With Elder Mancera leaving we got a new Assistant, Elder Jardine. We work quite closely with the assistants and are pleased with that choice. After the changes are announced and the new companions join each other, the President then talks for an hour or more. All of the missionaries we picked up this week had heard good things about Pres Holzapfel and if they had any doubt about it, that was taken away after listening to him. Among other things, he spoke on the choices we make and how it is easy to blame other people or circumstances to why we are the way we are. “I have a temper because my dad had a temper, my family never supported me, I didn’t have a family, I just did what my friends did, we were always poor so I didn’t have a chance and so forth.” Pres used his own life as an example. I’ve told you before his father left when he was two weeks old. He had a step-father that was hard on him and has never joined the church. His mother wasn’t active so Pres. was mostly inactive growing up. When he left for college his mother took him aside and said, “Richard, you grew up in a dysfunctional family. You can leave and spend the rest of your life going nowhere because of your past, or you can decide to be a man and make your life better…..you can be a better father, a better husband, make better choices.” You can see he listened to his mother and we and the church are blessed because of that choice. I think he uses his own life as an example so often because there are so many of the missionaries that come from difficult backgrounds and it is easy for them to become discouraged. We know how much he cares not only about the work, but the growth and happiness of the missionaries – young and old. He also presented some great doctrinal material that day. You’ll have to read one of his 35 books…..he has given us several and they are very good and beautiful as well. He has a love for art and carefully designs all his covers. He designed the cover for Pres. Packer’s new book showing his artwork. He has also done others.
As I wrote last week, many of our favorite missionaries left this time including our Sister Narduzzi from Temple Sq. She is from Italy and has been telling Elder C that when she leaves she WILL give him a big hug….and she kept her word. Pres said just don’t let him see it. Ha…she hugged him too. Love her!
Just a little on the Tiwi’s. We had nine repaired that day and as you know, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to have them worked on. That night there was already one of the newly replaced ones that had fallen down again. Groan! The program is working…driving habits have improved, but keeping the tiwi working is the issue and even Salt Lake is starting to look at other options. It’s a process
With that note we will close for this week. Transfers are all in place on IMOS and reports should be in Salt Lake for Paul by the end of the day. We’ll see how long before new changes are made. This is a mission of being able to adapt as each day goes on, but we enjoy the challenge. We have a nice surprise planned for next week. I’ll write about it in our next letter. God bless and watch over you.
We love you all, Sister and Elder Curtis Mom /Dad