Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Weather Report

Weather Report: low 34 f; high 42 f
Snow and wind 10-14 mph
Today and tomorrow are Transfer Days. That means that about a third of the missionaries are moving to another assignment. Sometimes this means a 7 hour plane ride. Sometimes a 4 hour bus ride. Often it means an overnight train trip in a coupe which is a compartment that sleeps 2 or 4 depending on how many elders are traveling on the train.

Speaking of the train, one temporary companionship (elders traveling together) missed their train this morning. We didn't hear about it until this afternoon when elder Watson, Cindy's new "travel" elder commented on it. It seems that one of the elders was a little poky this morning and since they have to stay together, both of them missed the train.

Being resourceful missionaries, they caught a cab and raced to the next city, to catch their train there as it stopped to exchange passengers. That cab ride probably cost several thousand roubles and will be worth a good scolding when they get to the office. They had better hope that I get to them first. President Mickelsen might get creative himself in getting their attention.

It is touching to see these elders meet one another in the office as they come and go during Transfers. They hug, they express love in many ways, they help each other to and from transportation. They truly value each other and the experience that they are sharing. Only they know what the others are doing and suffering. Very touching.

We are sending away two elders that we have become very close to these past three months. One of the Assistants, Elder Jones, on the left, is going to Barnaul as a straight missionary for his last transfer. he will be leaving the mission before November. He is a class act and a nice person on top of that. He's a great motivator and loves the missionaries. I am sorry to see him leave the office, but this is how he wants to finish out his mission. Elder Egan, on the right, will continue as an Assistant with Elder Robertson. I'm sure we will learn to love him too.

Elder Lunt, Cindy's "travel" elder is going to Ulan-Ude, the farthest city in the mission as a senior companion and Zone Leader. He has been so patient in teaching us our jobs that we will genuinely miss him. He is kind, patient, soft-spoken, and very good for Sister Simmons. She is going to feel the loss. Here he and Jones are pointing at the wall bearing the sheep with the names of those baptised this year in the mission; the found sheep. On the other wall ate sheep without names because they haven't been found yet.

We are sending our first elders to Kazakhstan next week. Actually, they left their cities for Omsk this week and will stay there until they get their Kazak visas. Four are going to the capital city and will be met by a senior humanitarian couple and stay in a daily-rate apartment. They will be there 3 days if all goes well. It is still expensive but maybe better time-wise.

Brat Pyotr, the travel agent, is gone for three weeks and Pres Gushin will be gone for 4 weeks starting Saturday. It is going to be hard on Sister Olga, doing her job and Pyotr's as well. It will be hard on us to loose President Gushin as our driver. We are shopping today and tomorrow to stock up.

Someone ( a missionary) asked me today how I was doing and an image came into my mind at that moment. I saw myself as snoopy in his Sopwith Camel flying along and suddenly the Red Baron would come swooping down from the clouds to rake him with his twin machine guns and then disappear into the clouds and wait for another pass.

When I come into the office each day I have plans as to what I want to do that day, but I don't know when the Red Baron, in the form of a telephone call from a desperate missionary will put my day into a tail-spin. I am keeping a log of my days and most of my time is spent putting out fires, answering questions, researching something for someone else, or getting cash into our out of the mission cash box to meet a need. In between emergencies I try to get my goals met and am satisfied at the end of the day that I served; maybe even well. That's why we are here, to serve others and not to get OUR work done.

The days are getting shorter with sunset about 8:30 pm now, but we try to get home before dark each night. After our visa trip we have been trying to get into an earlier routine of up at 7, scriptures and get ready by 9, and get home around 6pm. We have a lot to do at home each night and we are trying to get into bed before midnight. (says I)

The mission work is now becoming familiar and each task takes a little less time with each attempt. I hope to become efficient enough to get some long-term projects underway instead of constantly putting out fires. We'll see

The nights are colder and longer now and the sunsets more brilliant when we can see them under the cloud cover. The setting sun has moved to the west of the building across the street and sets where we can see it sometimes. This sunset was taken from the end of our office driveway-parking lot just before we turn left onto the newly paved road. Sometimes you just jave to stop and look.

This is a place of stark contrasts. People can be like ice or a warm marshmallow. The days can be balmy and comfortable or 40 below and chilled to the bone. The streets can be pocked with foot-deep potholes or newly paved for no apparent reason. The phones can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on the message. The skyline can be clear and sharp or misty and veiled. And you often can't predict which it will be.

What a country.


Trisha said...

Service is the KEY! No matter if the work is done that day or the next the Lord is PLEASED. And so am I.

Marilyn said...

I am truly enjoying the blog and all your positive comments along with the descriptions. It sounds as though your missionaries are becoming like your family/children. It is sad to see them go, even if they are going to bigger/better experiences, and home to their own families. You are making friendships that will last an eternity. Marilyn