Friday, December 30, 2011

'Twas the week before Christmas...

...and all through the office, it was pandemonium! crazy! swamped!  We started Monday morning with about 60 packages and 90 letters from the Post Office.  This was after a week of averaging 15 packages and 40-60 letters a day.  On top of all that, it was Transfer Week!  The missionaries returning home (pictured below) reported to the mission home around 4:00 Monday afternoon.  One of them was Elder Farrens, standing on the right, who served as an assistant to the President for the past transfer.  We really learned to love him and his great sense of humor and were sad to see him go.  He was the old man of the mission (26 years old), but he doesn't look it, does he?  I thought he was barely 20 when we first met him.  Elder Stone, standing in the center, looks like the oldest, but he just turned 21 a couple of months ago!  He is, however, the tallest in the mission, standing 6'8".  He was a Zone Leader in the Syracuse Zone.  Elder Burbank, just left of Elder Stone, is from Jackson, Wyoming, and also served as a Zone Leader.  Sitting are Elder Jensen, a young man with Autism who really grew and served a good mission; Sister Cox who was Sister Hales companion the past 4 transfers; and Elder Call.  We didn't know Sister Cox or Elder Call very well, just met them once.

Since Sister Cox was leaving, her companion Sister Hale needed a place to be, so we told President Bulloch we would be happy to have her stay with us, since we have an extra bedroom with two twin beds.  She stayed for two nights and helped us in the office Tuesday and Wednesday.  Her help was invaluable!  She helped sort packages, put labels on letters and packages to be forwarded, made lists, helped me sort out who would be transferring and who would not, etc.  We had around 45 packages, another 60 letters on Tuesday and so many packages on Wednesday I lost track.  We looked like a post office with wall-to-wall packages!  We really enjoyed having her.  Tuesday evening we made a batch of cookies from her favorite recipe.  They were really good.

The departing missionaries left Tuesday morning and flew out of Syracuse in the late morning.  The new missionaries arrived about 4:00 that afternoon--all eleven of them!  They stayed at the mission home that night and arrived at the office about 9:30 Wednesday morning.  I took individual pictures of them to go on their board cards, then they reported to the Relief Society room where they met their trainers.  The young man second from the right is Elder Gasetoto (pronounced Nasetoto), a convert of about two years from American Samoa.  He has been studying English for about a year and a half and still struggles a bit.  He has a great trainer who is very patient and glad to be working as a trainer.  He is Elder Israelsen's third missionary to attempt to train--his first newby went home the first week, his second was an Elder waiting to get his visa to Brazil who was here a total of three weeks.  Elder Gasetoto called me yesterday to order a new name tag (he called it a badge).  He described what he needed in rather halting English, but finished strong as we agreed on the type he needed.  About 10 minutes later Elder Israelsen called to make sure I had understood what he needed and I was happy to confirm that I had understood and that he had understood how much it would cost and how he should get it paid for.  I'm really looking forward to getting to know this great young man.

The rest of the transferring missionaries and the missionaries picking up different companions arrived Wednesday morning.  After lunch, they swamped the office looking for their packages and any that they could deliver to other missionaries on their way back to their areas.  When the dust settled, Sister Hale had gone with her new companion and all the packages were gone but four.  These were packages that couldn't be forwarded because they had been sent via Parcel Post, UPS or FedEx.  So on Saturday, we took the four packages and delivered one to the elders in Hamilton, two to the elders in Oneonta, and one to the elders in Delhi.  We left about 10:45 a.m. and were home about 5:00 p.m.  We drove two cars to Oneonta because their car had had a fatal accident that killed the deer and it will take several weeks to fix it.  We really enjoyed the trip, seeing a part of New York that we hadn't seen before, driving over a mountain on a dirt road between Hamilton and Oneonta (slow but fun), seeing all the cool, historic buildings in the quaint towns we drove through.  I kept kicking myself because we forgot to take the camera.  So ended a fun but exhausting week.