Len & Kit's Missionary Adventures in California

Monday, July 24, 2017

One of the missionaries from our Scottsdale ward, to whom we have sent letters for nearly two years, is about to return home.  Here are some comments he wrote in a June email to friends, “So this week was a great week.  I don’t think I have been this tired since the first few weeks of my mission.  I have been thinking a lot about what (Grandpa) has emailed me about how my last few weeks here are like the final push of a race.”   Considering that we are finishing soon ourselves (and that we also know his grandfather), those words have much meaning for us, too.

We made it through Transfers last week quite well!  It was probably the most difficult week our new couple will ever have here since she had so much paperwork to do for each missionary who was leaving as well as the ones who were coming.  It was also her first time to fly solo on making up the various rosters, which help us keep track of everyone.  He appeared calm as he helped ship old bikes home, get bikes for the new people and keep track of all the cars, gas receipts, oil changes, mileage reports, etc.

One senior couple was evacuated from Mariposa for most of the week because of a huge fire in that area.  It is still not a certainty that the threat is completely past, but they hoped/expected to return to their apartment yesterday. 

We planned to take a bus tour of main Yosemite Park sites on Saturday to check that off our bucket list.  However, heavy smoke in Yosemite Valley (from the Mariposa fire) led us to cancel.  Instead we spent the day enjoying giant trees and rushing rivers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, further south.

We also got a lead on an acceptable apartment in Auberry. We began that search in May and it should finally close August first.  We thought our apartment hunting days were behind, but there is still a couple that would do well to be replaced or at least upgraded somehow before we leave.  Rental apartments are just so sparse at the moment.

I am including an anecdote from final remarks made by a departing missionary, as far as I can remember and reconstruct from my notes: 

I am SO glad I have been able to finish my mission!  Things did not go well for me at the beginning and I often thought about going back home.  One day, as my trainer/companion and I were biking to an appointment, a truck swerved toward me and honked.  I lost control of my bicycle and crashed.  The impact was great enough that it somehow tore the pocket right off my shirt.  Of course I was banged up, too.  I was just lying there on the ground, hurting and completely ready to give up. After a minute or two, my trainer simply said, “Get up, Elder Rust.  Put on your name tag.”  How could I put on my name tag when the pocket had been ripped off my shirt?  He spoke again. “Get up Elder Rust.  Put your name tag on and get back on your bike.”  Slowly, I got up. Somehow, obeying those words helped create the resolve I needed to face whatever other adversities came, and see my mission through and I am so grateful!  My mission has absolutely been the most important experience I ever had in my ENTIRE life!  I know my Savior lives and that is everything.

With love from Len and Kit

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Time for Changes

This week the change of mission presidents went very smoothly.  The other office couple will leave July 13, so there is a lot of change happening.

At each of the two zone conferences, the arrangement of “God Be With You Till We Meet Again" was beautiful and poignant.  There were so many missionaries participating in the choir that we were all jammed into the choir space singing for the few left in the audience. At both buildings Len was just an arm’s length away from some sopranos.  At the second zone conference, two of the sister missionaries were so emotional even before the song began that Len had to make a serious effort to focus on his conducting.    

We were all sorry to see President and Sister Clark go.  It was especially fun that we were invited to spend Saturday evening with the Bradshaws and Clarks,  playing games and relaxing.  It was a real treat.  For my contribution to the evening’s snacks I made white chocolate popcorn, which everyone enjoyed. So glad I knew how to make it.  Thanks, Whitney!

Yesterday President and Sister Mackay arrived.  The Clarks took them to lunch and then brought them by the office to meet all of us and look around.  The Clarks "drove off into the sunset" and the 
Mackays stayed for a short chat.  They will also be wonderful.  Very easy to know and love.  After they did their first training of zone leaders and sister trainers today, they spent half an hour with each office person so we (and they) are quickly becoming comfortable together and feeling comforted that everything is going to be all right.

Love from Len and Kit

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Mission Adventures

You don’t go after your golf balls if they wind up in the ocean at Pebble Beach Golf Course. Too much undertow.

There was a wonderful temporary jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Aquarium.

No swimming suits on the beach that day!

Last weekend we drove over to Monterey.  In best times, the drive is supposed to take around 2 ½ hours.  Summer weekend traffic increased that about an hour, but we were not on a tight schedule.  While there, the 17.5 mile driving tour with lots of stops along the Pacific coast and by Pebble Beach golf course was great, and the local aquarium was very worthwhile. So nice to need a windbreaker for part of Sunday in Monterey with temperatures in the 50’s in early morning, combined with a chilly ocean breeze. Conversely, we had a 40 degree change in temperature on our return to the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno) Sunday afternoon, with temps topping 100 as the widespread hot wave began (highs of 104-110 last week and 95-99 this week, which was nothing compared to AZ.) Kit enjoyed Monterey style architecture and the beach houses too. The LDS church there was constructed of adobe style blocks instead of brick.

We have done all the shopping and finished packaging up all of the zone conference materials today for the two zone conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Clarks will finish their 3-year assignment this week and turn the reins over to President Mackay and his wife who will be in charge of training meetings on Friday.  The Mackays will tour the mission with the Assistants to the President next week.

We have long known that missionaries who serve in foreign countries often have to renew their visas at intervals during their missions.  The process can require a train trip and overnight stay or other major effort depending on the laws of the country where they serve.  Geographically small countries are often easier than large ones by virtue of distances.  We don’t know what the process was for missionaries from other countries who served in the United States decades ago.  It can certainly be a big deal nowadays.

For example, there was a missionary for whom the office personnel had to gather a lot of information, such as several specific photos of the person at the apartment where the missionary lived plus a copy of the lease and proof of rent payment for that apartment, in addition to other financial minutia.  It reminded me a lot of the movie Green Card.  

At times it can even be necessary for someone to travel to a city where there is an embassy of the country of origin in order to renew a visa.  We have had to go to similar lengths on occasion in our preparations for travels to other countries.  Mainly that involved having our host provide us with contact information so we could arrange with a travel business to go to the designated spot and “walk it through” in our place.  In our mission, getting necessary paperwork has even led to a cross-country bus trip.

Another thing about missionaries from other countries that was recently emphasized to me is that missionaries who come from grinding poverty adjust to life here but then return to the places and conditions from which they came.  I know that sometimes the proficiency they have achieved in English and knowledge of the U.S. can help them find job opportunities to improve their lot.  Too, they no doubt find that there are values and experiences in their own places which are more desirable than part of what they encountered in this country. Of course there are those who live in higher socio-economic conditions in their country of origin than they do while here, but insecurity about life’s necessities must be terrible for some who return to dire poverty.

Happy Independence Day!
With Love from Len and Kit