As promised, this is a continuation of the letter I sent just a few days ago. We have had so many wonderful experiences, but first I want to go back to the transfers. I mentioned the new missionaries coming in and said briefly that we were losing many of those who have been here since we arrived. We have become close to them and it was an emotional goodbye. We had ten leave; among them Elder Burdette, our first trainer, Elder Bowles, who taught me how to use the phone in referrals, Elder Fisher, who lives in our old Sunny Mesa Ward back home, Elder Ruff who ordered more media from me than any other missionary. He reminds us of our son Jarad….a hard worker and so caring. Also, Elder Klabacka, who has been an assistant to the Pres. much of the time we’ve been in the office so we have worked closely with him and Elder Hawks, who is another hard working missionary and has become a dear friend. He and Elder Curtis have a fishing date set up for when we get home. I could share something special about each one and am holding back tears as I mention them. A few of them admitted to being on the verge of tears that day as well. When we dropped them off at the hotel they wanted to just keep hanging around. They weren’t ready for their mission experience to close. We love and miss them.
Usually the demands of Transfers become even more urgent once the actual day is over as I then would update IMOS on the computer with all the new information and would have people calling immediately for a roster with all the changes. This was always time consuming and a challenge. For several months, however, Salt Lake has been asking all the Mission Presidents to take over this responsibility. Pres. H tried it once soon after I started in the office and it ended up being such a mess that it took us weeks to get it back in order. I’m not saying it was Pres’ doing; IMOS has made a lot of improvements since then. In fact, the last transfer went quite smoothly for me. Now, I don’t do any of it….none. I have to admit I felt a little left out and I also have to admit, I was a little pleased to see that even the Pres. and assistants took several tries before they got all the kinks out of the roster. Another issue this brings is that while they are working on transfer scenarios the weeks before the actual transfers many of the programs that the rest of us in the office use are blocked from us. It’s all a process and is for the good. Everyone, including Salt Lake, will learn and continue to improve. This means nothing to most of you, but Sis Sessions, who I took over for, may find it interesting. My job definition has definitely changed, but there seem to be new things coming up to still keep me on my toes and Elder Curtis can always use more of my help. There are changes being made on IMOS for car care as well. Changes can be and are good!
The Birmingham Stake was holding a 9:00 to 3:00 Family History Fair the Saturday after transfers and I was asked to get a group of missionaries together to help with the day’s activities. We had Elder C and me as well as two Elders and two Sisters who serve in that building. We helped put together and serve the lunch and then were asked to just mingle and make our presence known. Out of the 175 or so in attendance, about a third were non-members and four of the class presenters were also not members. We were very impressed with how well everything was arranged and how lovely the building and displays were set up. They had two or three classes going on each hour throughout the day. From the few that we were able to listen in on they were very professionally done. A lot of good information. Sis Anne Norris from our Branch had made the whole thing happen and on all accounts, it was a successful day. We were glad we could help and be a part of it. Our young missionaries represented the mission well.
People stayed the full day which is always a good sign that things are going well.
As soon as we walked in the door after finishing with the Family History Fair, Pres. Holzapfel called and asked if I would be in charge of the food for another event coming up the next Wed. The former Governor of Alabama had called and asked if the Mission would host an open house for a group of youth from one of the mega Baptist Churches in Birmingham. His brother is Pastor of the church and with the political climate these days; he wanted his congregation to know something about these ‘Mormons’. This isn’t the first time that President has met with other churches, but it was the first time a BAPTIST church had requested to come to one of our buildings. I didn’t have a lot of time or resources to plan with. They expected around 30 youth between 14 and 18 years of age plus their leaders. I was warned that nothing I did would measure up to the grand events of their church (we’re told it looks like a small college campus) so just don’t have cookies and punch, but also not to worry….????? Ummmmm We already had plans to be away from the office much of Monday and Tuesday so I had to rely on Costco – good old Costco chocolate mousse cake. It was a success and so was the evening.
There was a good turnout. We met in the RS room where our Branch Pres. explained how he was called and how all of our leaders and teachers are regular members of the church who have been called to that position for a season and serve without pay while carrying on their lives with normal responsibilities (work, school, parenting etc) Next, two Seminary students explained how they meet each morning at 6:00 for scripture study. They then showed clips of outstanding youth that are known nationally and are members of the church. President also talked and explained some of the similarities of our church and theirs as well as some of the differences. He is so good at this with his great knowledge of religion and the scriptures. The group was then taken on a quick tour of the building (as I said, theirs is mega so this wasn’t expected to be too impressive) They ended in the chapel where the young missionaries sang a beautiful Christian hymn and then a question and answer time was opened. We had expected the whole evening to last only an hour, but there was a good interest and many questions were asked. Again, Pres. Holzapfel is the perfect one for this type of exchange. We were all impressed. Refreshments followed along with mingling with youth from the two wards meeting there for YW/YM and Institute. All good….
Thankfully because of helping the Sat before I knew where to borrow a table cloth and some decorations. Taking pictures of the group didn’t seem appropriate. Chocolate is always a way to win people over. Paul and the missionaries were great help
We have a Branch baptism on Saturday morning. I’ll write about that next time. We’ve had some other good things going on this week, but this is enough for now. Paul says if he were writing he would just share spiritual thoughts and events, but for me, these things are spiritual and have brought joy to our missionary service. God bless each of you. We send our love, Elder and Sister Curtis Mom/Dad
There were several displays of well known people who came from Alabama…..didn’t know there were so many in all fields, sports, history, music, government, and so forth. Interesting