Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 15 Report

Another week gone - amazing! We were as busy as ever. The routine things keep us busy, but the constant unpredictable things really make mission office life interesting. I had to call Salt Lake four mornings this last week. Each call was to a different department for a different problem. Thankfully there are people there who know what the answer is and how to proceed. I'll note some examples:
1. A senior couple noticed their release date was a month farther out than it should be. Usually there is an icon in the internet system you can click on and change dates. But the BYUH seniors don't have that icon and so only SL can make the change. After a call, the change was made and everyone was happy.
2. We were notified through a missionary recommendation and on the arrival report that a sister from New Zealand was arriving in our mission next week. Great! Except I hadn't received a travel itinerary for her. A call to SL reported that she was at the MTC, but was going back to New Zealand to serve until her visa was she's not coming next week. We'll just have to watch for her. She could show up with only a few day's notice.
3. All the letters the mission secretary before me sent out were done the old fashioned way - one at a time. She didn't go to the MTC and learn how to use the template feature on the mission website. So, I've been converting the letters to templates. The only problem is that the font and page margins are different, so often a letter that was one page the old fashioned way ends up being 2 pages in a template. I thought surely there was a way to format the text, but a call to IMOS support confirmed that it is what it is. The only way to format the letter is to edit it down to fit one page. That's unfortunate, but at least now I know. I need to review all the letters with our new mission president, President Bekker, when he arrives in a couple of weeks. We'll see then what changes, if any, he wants to make.
4. Another senior couple who has been serving at BYUH has decided to extend their service here. The only problem is that they have already served for 23 months, so they will have to be released, and stay on as "volunteers." This means their stake president will have to release them on Skype, which had to be approved by SL. Their flight home has already been booked, so I had to cancel that. Upon their release, they will go completely out of our system. They will take over their rent and utility payments (which will be more than they were paying as missionaries), and will have to book and pay for their own flights home in December. Usually the seniors are ready to go on time or a week or so early. This is the first time I've had a couple that wants to stay longer.

Devon had to deliver a new air conditioner to an apartment for some of our young sisters. He took the mission truck, but along the way the truck started making awful noises. Devon made the delivery, but the truck was out of commission to drive home. He was in Waipahu - about 30 minutes away with no traffic.  I left the office early to go pick him up - in traffic which took almost an hour. Fortunately I found him okay with the help of GPS, and the truck can be repaired.

Another challenge this week was being so far away when a beloved family member was ill. My brother-in-law has been in the hospital for a week and gave us all quite a scare. Many prayers and skilled physicians have worked and he is improving. We have other sweet family members and friends that are facing trials. I know a little about that. We try to pray for them all. I'm not sure we could do anything to help if we were home, but it would be satisfying for us to be able to at least give them a hug, look them in the eye, and reassure them that our loving Heavenly Father is in charge. He loves them. He knows them. He will help them through their trials.

We have so many wonderful missionaries. Some definitely struggle and your heart aches for them. Others are strong from the get go. One such elder is from the southeast part of the USA. He is the only member of the church in his family. He joined the church a couple of years ago and LOVES the gospel. He has an extremely rare genetic skin condition. Only 3 people in the whole world have it. Basically, his skin is morbidly scaly. It's so bad that there is also a bad odor with it. All his life he has been bullied, abused, and thrown aside. Before he arrived in our mission, our mission president was advised to consider sending him home because the odor was such a problem. Well, this sweet elder arrived...and yes, the odor was bad - or so I'm told. President said he got a clear impression that contradicted mission rules, but he decided to follow the impression. He bought the elder a swimsuit and told him to bathe in the ocean 15 minutes twice a day. This elder was assigned to an understanding companion in a rural area. The elder has been faithful in following the president's counsel, and the odor is almost gone! After the fact, our mission nurse looked up the skin condition and learned that one of the recommendations is that salt water might be beneficial. A few days ago the ward mission leader sent president a text praising this young elder and thanking president for sending him to them. This amazing elder has a powerful testimony and has been more successful in 2 weeks with the less actives than any other missionaries have been in months. President was in tears when he read the text. What a blessing this elder is to have in our mission...and what a blessing for this mission to have a president that is so in tune with the spirit.

A very sad thing happened in our mission. A sweet senior sister serving at the PCC passed away on Friday. She had been sick for over a month. We knew on Tuesday she was not expected to recover. Her husband is heartbroken. Their children flew in to be with them and help with delicate, heart wrenching decisions. They were scheduled to be released and go home on the 27th.

We have been working hard in the evenings trying to get things moved back into the commissary. It's the room where all the Books of Mormon, pamphlets, pass along cards, videos, stationary, etc., etc., etc. are kept. What a job!

Friday night the office staff got pizza and burritos and worked until late.
Hard to believe, but this is an improvement. We have literature in 30 to 40 different languages - many I've never heard of before. It took us a few tries before we settled on a system. We hope to have it finished by the end of next week.
Saturday, oh wonderful Saturday! We took a drive to Historic Haleiwa Town on the North Shore. It's basically a tourist trap, but very quaint and fun. I saw a beautiful painting of the coast of Hawaii with the tall, lush mountains and the beautiful blue waves crashing on the shore. The artist is Roy Tabora and one of his galleries is in Haleiwa. We found it and learned a couple of things: 1) the piece of art I wanted is sold out, and 2) I probably can't afford it anyway! I'm not giving up. I'll have to think about it. He does have pieces that are not limited editions - they are less, but I haven't found one I like as well. We'll see.

Unquestionably, the most popular place in Haleiwa is Matsumoto's. 
The lines of people waiting to buy his amazing shaved ice are as long as ever. If you've never had one, it is basically really good vanilla ice cream topped with finely shaved ice and a variety of flavors of syrup. There are about 15 flavors to choose from.

YUM!!! No other explanation needed!

Sunday was a wonderful Father's Day celebrated with "my man." He gave a great talk in sacrament meeting, had many phone/FaceTime calls, and we enjoyed a nice dinner with the elders assigned to our ward. He was one of many fathers sporting beautiful lei today.
Faith promoting experiences are all around us. Of course there are challenges and frustrations, but they help us to grow. We feel so much love and support from our family and friends. It is a joy to be a missionary and we are so grateful to be here. 

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