July 14, 2012
Elder Curtis is spending the day at the Mission Home bike work area getting ready for the 17 missionaries that will arrive on Tue. He has been so thankful for the help of Elder Smith in this as well as many of our other responsibilities. The Smiths have been our right hand helpers, but they just learned this week that they will be transferred from Bessemer to the Huntsville area (two hours away) Not only are they both a great help to us, but as you can see from past letters, they have also become good friends. I don’t know how we will manage without them around. It will definitely mean more work for Elder C. and we’ll miss their company. We have two new couples coming in soon; however, both are being assigned to areas far from the office. It all seems to work out one way or another, though. We picked up a brand new car yesterday and that should be the last one for a while so if we can keep accidents down, maybe there won’t be as much movement with that. Speaking of accidents, two of our Elders in Hamilton (NE almost to MS /TN state lines) were hit by another car that turned from a side street right into them. Thankfully no one was hurt, but anytime there is an accident it takes time away from getting the regular work done. Besides my office work, a lot of my time is spent helping and working with Elder Curtis.
We have been doing much more traveling the last month. We have visited several District Meetings, most an hour to two hour drive from the office. We have been doing various trainings and also inspecting their cars with them right there so they can see for themselves how to care for their vehicle. It’s surprising to us how many young men and women just haven’t had experience with how to care for a car. We have to remind ourselves they are still young and not all have HAD a car or been responsible for one. We received a call from an Elder the other day saying that his tire was flat and he needed to buy a new one. “Well”, asked Elder Curtis, “Did you take it in and try having it fixed?” The repair was $10. Even though these are temporal lessons, hopefully they will be blessed throughout their lives for having learned them. We loved being able to meet with the missionaries in smaller groups and spend that one on one time with them. We get to know and love them even more. We also made several trips to apts of Elders to help them through issues and again, it is nice to not only get closer to them, but see the areas where they work. Alabama really is a beautiful place. The more we see, the more we appreciate this.
The 4th of July was another workday for us in the mission; only it was spent filling a new assignment that has come down from Salt Lake. Each Zone has been asked to hold ‘monthly’ zone training in their area with all in attendance. The Zone Leaders plan and oversee these meetings. Obviously, the Pres. can’t be in all the meetings (they are hundreds of miles apart) and isn’t required to attend any of them. The Zone Leaders go through a day of training with the Pres. Holzapfel and then take that information and train their area missionaries. My guess is that with his love for teaching, it is probably hard for President not to step in. They will still have the quarterly Multi Zone Conferences where he will preside.
Anyway, the announcement for the 4th of July conferences was last minute, but Elder C saw it as an opportunity to cover a lot of the monthly car inspection. He asked the Smiths to do the inspections in Bessemer Zone and the Caudles to cover Huntsville. We drove to Montgomery and got all of theirs done. That was one of the 106 days and we experienced our first real discomfort with the Alabama heat. Like many other areas of the country, we have had unusually warm days, but for the most part, we haven’t had complaints. It cools off in the evenings and we have had some nice rain and overcast days. This was a good way to spend Independence Day doing our work and being around the fine missionaries. Elder Withers, our first District Leader, is now Zone Leader in Montgomery. He is a wonderful teacher and the missionaries were rewarded for being there. On our way back we stopped in Clanton which holds the claim to the best peaches in the country. Everyone talks about Clanton peaches.
We also finished up the last of the temple days with two Zones this week. We were able to attend all five temple trips. How wonderful it was seeing all our Elders and Sister dressed in white and feeling of their spirits. There was a Zone in the morning session that day then another at the 1:00 session so it was a full and spiritual day. That evening we had planned to go out to dinner with Elder and Sister Callister. His brother is a member of the Presidency of the Quorum of Seventy and our Callisters are just as great. They travel the mission working one on one with companions giving direction and training to improve their teaching. They had been teaching all day and needed to get a few things at Costco so we decided to just eat there (our kind of people). We were having such a nice visit…..they are not only spiritual, interesting, but fun, that we didn’t notice until we got up to leave that the store had closed. The doors were locked and shoppers gone. We told them we were so sorry, but they just laughed and said if we’d been much longer they would have given us a mop to help the cleaning crew. We all had a good laugh too.
We have been trying to get more involved in our ward missionary work, but with our unpredictable schedules, it hasn’t been easy. We have met with the ward mission leader and one week we gave a ride to a member who doesn’t have a car. He lives in the projects and hasn’t had an easy life, but has been active in the church for 16 years. Our only problem with helping him is that it ends up being over a ninety mile trip for us to drive him on Sundays. Even in the city there are long distances in the ward boundaries.
We were asked to speak in church last week. The subject was “Freedom from sin”. Just a few quotes from my talk, “Obedience leads to true freedom. The more we obey revealed truth, the more we become liberated.” And, “When obedience becomes our goal, it is no longer an irritation; instead of a stumbling block, it becomes a building block”. These are both from Pres. James E Faust. Part of being obedient is giving of our time and service. Quote from Elder Ballard: “We should be committed to a lifetime of service in the kingdom of God”, and quoting Pres. Marion G Romney; “Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made. There is no retirement from service in the church.”
I don’t have a copy of Elder Curtis’ talk to give you quotes, but he did a wonderful job as usual. This will probably be our last sacrament meeting talks of this mission.
For not even planning to write a letter, I’ve ended up giving you a lot to read, or skim, or delete, or just not open at all. This is a little taste of our life here in Alabama. If we hadn’t extended we would be coming home in three weeks. We’re not ready for that so we’re glad we have more time, but even with that our release date is approaching at a much faster pace than seems possible. It is good to stay busy and feel needed. Other than loving on our grandkids and children, we aren’t sure what we’ll do at home.
Blessings and love from Alabama, Elder and Sister Curtis Mom/Dad