September 20,2 015
What a week! We had a lot to do. We had zone conferences 3 days of the week. We started our week on Monday one hour earlier at the office than usual. We had our weekly meeting early because we had a church representative coming to the mission to work with Elder Merrill on the TIWI system. (a black box for each missionary car) We finished our meeting just as Brother Paul came to the office. He spent the rest of the day with Elder Merrill, teaching and training him. (they also had a long meeting with the President)
On Tuesday we had to get up extra early to be to Buffalo by 7:45. (which is about a 2 hour drive) I was wishing I could be one of those little kids that parents just pick up out of bed and gently put into the car and drive without waking them up. BUT, NO—I’m not. We arrived in Amherst and got things ready for the meeting and Elder Merrill was off. He had to inspect cars, help with the TIWI installation and then test drive the cars to make sure they worked properly. He ran his bottom off all day long. He came into the meeting and set down by me and I could feel the heat radiating off of him. He was soaked with sweat. (he hadn’t worn his suit jacket outside, but was still way too hot) I had to pass out new cell phones to each companionship and help them get the contacts, etc. ported over from their old phones. They were so excited to get new phones and thought that I had something wonderful up my sleeve when I passed out their new phone. It was the same model that they already had (so disappointing!) but we moved from Sprint to AT &T and we are hoping for much better service. I do believe that they will be an improvement. When I received calls from them with the Sprint phones I could only hear about 1/3 of what they were saying.
After the meeting in Buffalo we stopped in Albion and did a home teaching visit and then to Batavia to meet with the missionaries and a recent convert. We were really tired when we finally flopped into bed.
Wednesday we met in Palmyra and Thursday we met in Rochester. Those days were a little easier, but still long. Easier because we didn’t have to travel quite so far to get set up.
We had many great talks at Zone Conference. Brother Paul took almost 2 hours each day discussing the TIWI system. He was very interesting. He said that the church has been concerned for missionary safety for a number of years and have been considering doing something like the TIWI system. This system stands for Teen driver safety (I don’t remember all of the words of the acronym). When the church went to calling missionaries at a younger age they lost about 2600 years of driving experience. (the number of missionaries time the years they practiced at home) The church is self-insured and so every accident is costly. He said that the church pays out about $42 million a year in mission accidents. (plus the pain, suffering, and death—yes, there are missionaries killed driving church cars on missions) He said that they felt if they could help drivers more with safety they could save lives and money. That amount of money is sacred tithing and could be used to build more temples, etc. The system helps drivers by reminding them that they are going too fast, not wearing their seat belts, or being an aggressive driver. If they persist in poor driving habits, they will be given demerits and if bad enough they will have their driving privileges revoked. Having a missionary that cannot drive is really a problem for the mission president because he has such a vast amount of area and won’t be able to place missionaries with companions as easily. Brother Paul told us of 2 sisters that wanted to be the first ones to zone conference and were clocked at 116 miles an hour on their drive. The cars we have are not safe at that speed (and NO ONE should be driving that fast). It was all pretty sobering when he talked about the dumb things that missionaries do with their cars. (in other missions) I hope that our missionaries here got the message of how to be obedient drivers. We shall see. Elder Merrill now has an additional responsibility to monitor the driving of the missionaries and report and call them. He is going to be very busy!
Sister Francis is really a good speaker and she told of a time in their family when they had 8 children at home and were living in California. Their oldest son was on the basketball team for the high school and they had scheduled a tournament in San Diego. They had decided that they couldn’t attend because it was right after Christmas and they had several conflicts. As the date drew closer their schedule opened up and they decided that they would go on a family vacation and to the tournament. Sister Francis began looking for hotels in San Diego, online and by the phone. She wasn’t having any luck because they were late in looking. She was just finishing up a search online and as her computer was shutting down a pop up came up for a little hotel in San Diego that she hadn’t heard of. She called them and they said they were full, but they had 2 rooms that were just being refurbished and should be done. Did they want them? She said yes. The day of the adventure came and they got into their 15 passenger van and started down the freeway. Outside of San Diego the check engine light came on and then went off again. President Francis asked her if that was normal and she sad that it had never happened. A few miles later it came on again, but didn’t shut off. Now the engine shut off too while they were driving. So that took out the power steering and they were slowing down. President got over a couple of lanes and they noticed another 2 or more lanes merging onto the freeway. He was lucky to get over to the far right and then had enough speed to slowly go down the incline and around a corner and into the back of a service station. They all were very tense when they came to a stop and relieved. She then noticed that he had a huge smile on his face and she wanted to punch him. What could he be smiling about?? He told her to turn and look out the back window. When she did she saw the name of the hotel they were going to be staying at. They were able to get a new alternator, get to all the games, and have fun with their family. What a great story, right?
We have so many blessings in this life! Heavenly Father watches over us and knows what we need! Sometimes I want to shout out, “How great is our Church?” “How great is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ!” We are blessed. Keep your eyes open for the small, tender mercies in your life!
Happy Birthday to Almedis, Chris, and Joslyn!