Sunday, September 27, 2015

Welcomes, transfers and good-byes

Downtown Calgary at dusk--the chapel in the foreground is the Stake Center where N. Eldon Tanner was the first Stake President
This week is transfer week--which means it is ONE busy week.  On Tuesday we welcomed 22 new missionaries!  And they are a great group.  We just love the new missionaries that come fresh from the MTC, full of the spirit, and excitement and enthusiasm.  They also come a bit tired because they wake up at 2:00 a.m. or so to get to the airport!  This time we got through customs really quickly with  them, unlike last time when it took almost 5 hours to get them through.  We had them out of the airport by about 2:45 and were on the way to the mission home for some 'administrative training' on apartments, vehicles, insurance, etc.  Our office staff conducts this part of the training.   Then we had a delicious dinner prepared by our new cook, Natasha Zandbergen.  It was yummy and the missionaries were so excited to eat something besides MTC food.  Steve began interviewing them before dinner, and a few after--and this time he was able to get through all 22 on Tuesday evening!
We have a new elder, Elder Yang, from Taiwan, who doesn't speak any English, so Steve had to have the other Mandarin speaking elders come in to translate during his interview!  After dinner we took the 20 elders to the hotel to get a good nights sleep, and the two sisters stayed in the mission home.  Then about 9:00 we got a call that one of our elders was having chest pain and was at a health clinic and they were going to send him by ambulance to a hospital.  So, we headed to the hospital to meet him and the elders he had been with there.  We sent the other elders home--by this time it was about 10:30 p.m., and we stayed.  We were able to go in with Elder Mahoney and see how he was.  They had run some tests and given him some morphine for the pain.  After a few more hours we finally got word that he was just fine--they thought it could have even been acid reflux!  So, we left the hospital about 2:00 and got back home about 2:30 a.m. and crawled into bed.  Steve had to get up at 4:30 to take another missionary to the airport who was going home with medical problems.  So, he was back up at 4:30, and I stayed, although I really didn't sleep while he was gone.  So, we had maybe 2 hours of sleep max on Tuesday night.  We just prayed that Heavenly Father would renew us mentally and physically for everything we had to do on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning the missionaries were all back at the mission home at 9:00 for training where we just talk with them about many different things and get to know each other before we send them off with their new companions that afternoon.  We know they are nervous about this, so we try to put them at ease as much as possible.  After our training we walked over to the church where some great Relief Society sisters had prepared lunch for them.  Following lunch all of their new companions come to the church and we read off who their new companions are and what area they are going to.  It's a pretty fun thing to watch.  Many of our trainers have just completed their 12 weeks of training, so they are a little nervous about this new responsibility--but we have complete faith in them.

Our new missionaries at the Calgary Airport--so excited to finally be here!

Dinner at the mission home!
this is how your front entryway looks when 22 missionaries arrive!

After we get all of our new missionaries off with their trainers on Wednesday we get ready for Thursday where everyone else transfers to their new areas.  It's quite a feat to get ones from British Columbia in, and ones from Calgary moved down south, and ones from the south moved up; with all the exchanges of cars and phones and everything else.  We are trying to determine a way to simplify this whole process; but haven't figured that out yet.  Our mission has the largest fleet of cars of any mission in the world (we have 85) and that in and of itself is daunting!  But, by 3:30 on Thursday we had everyone that needed to be transferred all set and gone!
Then Thursday evening we had the 16 departing missionaries at the mission home for dinner (once again a lovely meal cooked by Natasha Zandbergen).  Following the dinner we walked over to the church for a departing fireside where these elders have invited converts or others they have worked with to it.  They all have the chance to share their testimonies at this time, and Steve and I both share a few words.  This is only our second time doing it, but it gets more difficult because the longer you have these missionaries, the more you love them!  So, it is harder to say good-bye!
Following the fireside they all came back to sleep at the mission home...all 16 down on mats in the basement!  It is fun to hear their thoughts and  nervousness about going home!  The next morning they get up and have breakfast (lots of cereal, bagels, fruit, milk, and juice!) and shower--(and let me tell you, you don't want to shower after 16 elders have showered, unless you like cold showers), and we take them to the airport to send them on their way.  This last Friday morning we had an extra 30 minutes because their flight left a little later, and while Steve and I were upstairs doing a few things, we could hear them all downstairs singing hymns.  It was the sweetest thing ever--they just took turns choosing different hymns, and sang  Acapella.  It just warmed my heart.  We truly feel that as we send them off they are different when they leave than when they came.  They have grown in so many ways...but most of all, they have a deep abiding testimony of the Savior and his atonement.  And they have experienced his love in their lives and it has changed them.  We are so thankful for that--that is what we want most of all.  We want their missions to have converted them forever.
Dinner for our departing missionaries

Final picture with our departing missionaries

Our new assistants- Elder Roberts, Dad, Elder Warenski
Dad on 'Stephen Avenue' in downtown Calgary

Stephen Avenue is a bustling street-no cars-lots of shops, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Those shoes remind me of everyone coming to hang at our house in high school!