July 31, 2010
Virginia Richmond Mission
We had our first transfers this week. It’s the saddest and happiest thing ever. You would not think that after one month we could love these young people so much. We sent home seven missionaries on Tuesday, who have completed their missions in a beautiful, honorable way.
They came to the mission home and we visited while they each had their final interview with president -- we ate lunch together, then had a sweet testimony meeting in the family room. It is such a happy and sad time for them – they are excited to go home and see their families, but so many of them cannot hold back the tears of sadness to be leaving their missions behind. Several of the Elders were so tender the whole morning, with tears in their eyes and hearts so full, that you could feel it. When they bore their testimonies they spoke so reverently of the Savior and so gratefully for the time they have spent learning to be His disciples. It is a time that has been transformational for them.
The next day our new missionaries came in – seven elders and four sisters. It was so much fun! We went to the airport to greet them with a pickup truck and the 12 passenger van with a trailer hooked up (the president’s assistants are both very experienced with the routine which has helped us so much!). They come out of the gate with brave smiles on their faces and their nametags on, rolling their luggage behind them. What follows is organized chaos – hugs, getting baggage, packing truck and trailer and what goes where with who, etc.
Then back to the mission home for dinner, pictures, interviews, medical evaluations and visiting. By the end of the evening we have fallen in love with each one! Later, everyone crawls into bed exhausted and nervous. Next morning is transfer meeting at the chapel. The new ones are nervous, their new trainers are nervous and all the others who come are anxious to meet and greet their new companions. What a sweet thing to watch as each new missionary is introduced to their trainer. Some of those trainers practically knocked their newbies over with a big hug. It really touched my heart to watch it.
OK, so here’s the rest of the rundown. In four weeks we have sent two missionaries home for medical help (they are both coming back), had one broken wrist and torn shoulder (bike accident), one sprained ankle and broken bike helmet (also a bike accident – thank heavens he was following the rules and wearing his helmet!!), one broken hand (basketball), one towed vehicle, one crashed car (a drunk driver hit the sister’s parked car – luckily they were inside teaching investigators), three or four bouts of the flu, several strained backs and lots of blisters, bug bites and infected ouchies. One of our new elders has had several miraculous heart surgeries – allowing him to serve. We also have several missionaries who battle with anxiety and depression at times and are fighting a good fight. We have missionaries in our mission who have had a liver transplant, a kidney transplant, a brain tumor removed and two with a brain tumor that is benign but inoperable and dormant (it’s not growing) at the moment. I know it’s hard to believe but this is not an exhaustive list of medical issues, just some of the highlights.
We have also in the last four weeks had to break the news to a missionary that one of his close friends had been killed, to another that her brother’s leukemia is back (she is taking a blood test this week to see if she is a match for a marrow transplant) and to several others -private, troubling news from home. And still they all press on.
We are so humbled by the company we are keeping.
The air is saturated in our meetings with a spirit of love, humility, reliance on the Lord and with sacrifice – especially the sacrifice. I hardly know how to act. Really it’s that marked.
In four weeks we have held two Mission Conferences, three all-day Leadership Training Meetings (during which we had six sisters staying at the house – GRAND FUN!!), had our Transfer Meeting, and president has interviewed roughly 226 missionaries individually (he also receives and reads a letter or E-mail from each of our 211 missionaries weekly).
President’s phone rings everyday, all day. We have changed lots of beds (there are 16 twin beds in this house!!!), washed and folded endless towels, made and served lots of missionary meals (but I don’t always have to do the dishes because there is a man in our ward who comes over and does the dishes for transfer dinners) and held lots of hands (our favorite part).
If we were not the king and queen of chaos, this would be overwhelming --- but since we are -- we’re having the time of our lives!