Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gratitude for good companions

Transfer week is always interesting and we are kept busy from morning til night as we help missionaries go home and welcome the new missionaries here.  This past week we said goodbye to 7 of our favorites who headed home.  Elder Freitag and Vermeulen have become our friends and we hated to say goodbye.  But life moves on and so do they.  On transfer day, Monday, many of the Elders and Sisters come to the office as they prepare to head back to their new areas with their new companions.  They fill the office asking questions, needing help, having fun and telling stories.  It is crazy and disconcerting as we strive to be patient, cheerful, and helpful.  As old people, we are getting better at multi-tasking amid chaos.  That should be good news for the grandchildren and the children who are worried about their parents getting Alzheimer's.  We are building the synapsis in the brain and serving all at the same time!  

 Elders Tangi, Afu, and Vatuvei are lots of fun.  They were all changing companions.  We are glad we don't have to change companions.  It sure makes our work easier and Elder Feil knows just what to say to keep me calm.  I don't want to train another!
My cubicle gets invaded and I struggle to keep order!  But, having children and grandchildren has been great training for this job and both Elder Feil and I are finally starting to feel comfortable with these busy weeks.

 Elder Simeavao, from Samoa has been learning English.  He can now talk to us on the phone and we can understand him.  He told us of his greatest miracle last week - frozen rain fell from the sky!  Then he also mentioned that while studying the Book of Mormon he learned about the "Iron Man" that we should all hold to.  Of course, we have translated that to be the "iron rod"!  He is really a great missionary. We love him and enjoy watching his growth.
Some missionaries are lucky enough to have family come and get them.  Elder Barnes' family came from Idaho.  His father had also served in Australia.  We enjoyed dinner with the Freitags on Sunday night. They also came to get their son.  It is enjoyable to meet their families and reminds us that we sure miss all of you!! 

And then the new ones all come in.  President and Sister Howes go to the airport to take the leaving missionaries and go back again the next day to get all of the new ones.  They make sure that all feel their love and support. We appreciate their amazing example.

We have shown you in the past, the training that happens with the new missionaries.  What we were able to do this time was get pictures of the process of getting their trainers. The trainers are chosen before transfer Monday and while we are finishing paperwork with the new missionaries, the trainers are preparing to meet their new companions.

 The moment finally arrives when President announces who their companions will be.  He has each trainer stand and tell about his area and then he tells them who they will be training.  It was fun to watch the emotion and excitement as they stood and gave their new companion a hug and then sat together while President announced the next companionship.  It was really fun to watch and I felt the excitement for each companionship.  A new start, a chance to be in a new country, new opportunities to serve all contribute to the moment.

3 of these missionaries had been waiting 6 months for their visas and they were ready to be here and move forward.  I still haven't figured out all of the ins and outs of visas but I am committed to learning as much as possible so that I can help in any way possible.

Sister Sonbudnak is from Thailand and learning English.  She is so kind and humble.  Elders Cecilio and Clemente are from the Philippines.  Elder Clemente's house was destroyed in Tacloban and his father is still there.  My challenge this week is to find a way to get information to him that his son is here and safe.   

Elders Moore and Arona came to dinner on Wednesday and taught us a lesson.  When they taught, it was if they had been teaching together for several months.  

  So after we get the missionaries all off to their new areas, Elder Feil and I work hard to clean up the details.  We love all of the missionaries and have finally achieved the ultimate.  We know all of their names and can even remember most of their areas where they serve!  That has only taken six months to achieve.   While it is Thanksgiving week, we won't be celebrating it here.  But we are grateful that we are healthy enough to serve here and appreciate being together as companions.  We are learning a lot about each other and our duties.  We appreciate each other's strengths.  It helps us be successful in our service.  We love each other and every one of you.  Enjoy your companions, enjoy your children this week, and enjoy eating lots of good food.  Elder Tom Turkey and Sister Molly Pumpkin Pie

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