Len & Kit's Missionary Adventures in California

Monday, May 8, 2017

On the Road Again

We hit a new high for time away from the office lately.  One day we completely reorganized and cleaned up two out of three of our storage units.  Another day was spent moving furniture and supplies from a senior couples’ apartment. Unloading it mid afternoon in 90+ temps only took half an hour, since we saved going through items they had boxed up for us, for a cooler morning job.  It was still hot and sticky enough to make us rethink summer moves: we will leave extra early on those mornings and try to finish before the hottest part of the day.  We will get lots of help to speed things along and we will never do a double move in one day.  Lunches for the crew will need to be packed and taken so we can finish faster than when we take our helpers out to eat, but hey, we’re talking survival here!

Thursday we wound up making two trips to Auberry to assess properties for a new senior couple.  Rentals are super scarce up there this summer.  No luck!  We will have to build on what we learned to find other possibilities and try again.  Tomorrow will be apartment visits and a side trip to sign a lease.  It will be a long day, but the weather is a little cooler just now and there is little physical labor involved.

Len has set up men’s choir for our ward; they will sing the Sunday following Mothers’ Day.  He also has arranged for men’s choirs to sing at the three zone conferences during the week after Mothers’ Day.  The last round was such a success that it is great they can do it at least once more.   There may be more singers because some elders volunteered after hearing how well it went the first time.

Mission vehicles have a small box called a Tiwi (rhymes with kiwi) attached to the upper left corner of the windshield.  All drivers carry cards which they swipe as they get in and out of the car.  If it is a successful swipe and the machine is cooperating, a deep gravelly monotone voice pronounces, “Driver logged in.”  When the driver is done using the car, he/she swipes and the voice says that the driver is logged out.  Many missionaries despise the Tiwi.  It keeps track of every infraction or possible infraction.  If someone goes more than five miles over the speed limit, the voice says, “Check your speed.”  Then the driver has 6 seconds to get the speed down before the infraction is recorded.  If someone tries to fool the Tiwi and go right back to speeding, it will be recorded. 

When someone goes over a speed bump or a railroad track or a pothole too fast, the message is “Aggressive driving.”  Sometimes the circumstances lead to unfair accumulations in the aggressive driving category, or at least the missionaries feel that happens.  When a missionary gets too many infractions, he/she is suspended from driving for a period of time.  Repeated failures lead to being banned from driving for the remainder of the mission.  The driving ban can affect how a missionary is able to serve.  Since the zone leaders deliver mail, etc. to their zone members and help those who do not have cars, at least one of them has to be able to drive and there sometimes have to be changes because both companions have lost driving privileges.  The Tiwi center of operations is out of state so it is independent of any local influence or favoritism.

Senior missionaries usually drive their own cars, but some of us drive the mission pickup truck so we have experiences with Tiwi too.  We’re not sure we’d lose driving privileges for bad reports, but it would seem that we should have the experience and patience to avoid those anyway.  Len can do a very creditable imitation of “Check your speed” and “Aggressive driving”.   (Sometimes we say that to each other when driving our own car, and backseat driving becomes joking.)  We have felt the irritation of getting busted for something that was due to the road conditions instead of bad driving.  Since we found out that one has six seconds to comply with “Check your speed” we can be more philosophical if we hear that message before actually passing a sign announcing the lowered speed limit.  As with Siri, we sometimes find ourselves talking to Tiwi in a less than friendly tone.  It is frustrating, for example, when he won’t respond to repeated attempts to log in.

One departing senior missionary told how he worried about his mission because of his allergies, including a terrible allergy to cats.  During his career as a school principal/superintendent, his eyes would swell shut, along with other symptoms, if a child simply carried a show and tell kitten down the hall adjacent to his office.  Hearing that, I finally understood the omnipresent redness around his eyes.   He then told that when visiting people in their Oakhurst, CA homes as MLS missionaries (Member & Leader Support) they encountered many cats, but he never experienced his allergic reactions.

Have a wonderful week,   Len and Kit