7 Jun 2015 Newsletter
I apologize for not writing more often. Unfortunately, I ended up back in the hospital for GI bleeds and I have kind of gotten behind in my office work. I was a little worried that the Mission President might send me home, but he was actually worried that I might ask to go home. We only have a little less than 5 months left and I actually feel great after transfusions.
11 June 2015
Well, the mission cars all started getting the TIWI's yesterday...the little black boxes that record your driving. The group from Salt Lake Global fleet came to install them and then to test them. We got to hear all about what the TIWI's can do! It knows exactly what the speed limit is in any given area and will tell you to "check speed". If you don't it will tell you the same thing every few seconds and an text/email sent to the Vehicle coordinator and the Mission President. What is checks for is seatbelt, speed and aggressive driving. Aggressive is considered stopping too fast, taking off too fast, flying over bumps,, too sharp turns (i.e. on two wheels) It sounds like to get an infraction of the rule you have to be a little "rebellious". Any breaking of the rules the TiWi gives you a verbal warning, if you correct the behavior, nothing happens, if you it shows up on the next report. If you get extremely reckless, or, in a really serious accident an email/text goes to the Vehicle Coordinator, the Mission President, the Area Authority, the Missionary Committee, 3 General Authorities, (one being Elder Russell M. Nelson) or as Brother Ott from Salt Lake said "everybody but the prophet" gets notified. Interesting that our mission had two accidents that met those qualifications just this last week. Obviously certain driving behaviors will get you a "suspension" for 1 or more transfers and those that are really reckless, or frequent may cause you to lose your driving privileges for the rest of your mission. We already have a handful of those. The purpose of the TIWI's is obviously to save lives, and the church money. Brother Ott told us that some missionaries have a sense of entitlement and they think they can get away with poor driving, causing damage to cars and the church just pays out and gets them a new car.
16 June 2015
Sunday we had Stake Conference in the Des Moines Stake and our visiting general authority from Salt Lake was Elder David Baxter of the Seventy. He was a lot of fun. He shared the story of his mother's conversion. His family is from Scotland. His mother had had two bad marriages which ended in divorce. She was poor, tired and had quite a sharp tongue. When the missionaries would stop by from time to time she could be quite firm and terse with them, chasing them off. One day during a terrible storm a knock came to the door and there were 2 missionaries there looking like "drowned rats". Even though she was not interested, she felt a moment of compassion and said to herself, "What if that were my son?" So she let them in so they could dry off and warm themselves next to her tiny fireplace. They mostly just talked, but by the time Elder Baxter got home from school they were having a gospel discussion and that was the beginning of the family's conversion. (Elder Baxter said little did she know then that one day her son would be one of those missionaries.)
Elder Baxter had a different way of presiding over conferences. On Sunday, we all noticed there weren't very many speakers on the program. He had warned us on Saturday night that he would call a few from the audience...."as directed by the Spirit....to come up and bear their testimonies. That was the bigger part of the meeting. After the usual opening business, he started naming people he felt prompted to invite to the stand. Imagine my surprise when he said, "Sister Stringham, one of our full-time Senior Couples serving in the Des Moines Mission." We were sitting by the Shelleys who are the other office couple. She gasped and said, "you don't have your name badge". I had forgotten it that morning because I had worn a jacket that I don't often wear and forgot to put the badge on. So she quickly gave me hers. She said that no one could tell that far away. Well, we didn't realize that the first three rows were mostly our young missionaries and they immediately noticed and all had big grins on their faces. Also, they have a big screen in the cultural hall showing the speakers. And it was broadcast to two other buildings in the Des Moines Zone. I think people from our ward were thoroughly confused. Well, the missionaries had fun with that! Glad I wasn't really aware while bearing my testimony! I have since ordered more badges so all sweaters, jackets and tops will have their own badge, plus one for my purse and one for the office.
Elder Baxter shared this sweet story. His mother was quite bitter with his dad after the divorce, and so was Elder Baxter. He was just a youth when the divorce happened. When he was called to be a missionary, he was attending the temple and he asked Heavenly Father to help him forgive his dad. While he was in the Chapel part of the temple he experienced a very strong feeling. For a short time he said he actually felt some of the feelings of his father.....his shame, his unfulfilled dreams, his sorrow and pains of his own childhood. It was a very strong, powerful feeling. His dad, in his last days, lived in an attic of someone's home and had never remarried. Elder Baxter had only visited him a couple of times after the divorce. For the first time in his life he felt love and compassion for his dad. He told us that the temple is not just a place to be sealed, but also a place to be healed".
Our President's wife told us today that they have received word that they have called a couple to be our replacements! Okay, I suddenly felt very sad! I so want to see my family and friends again, but I can emotional at the drop of a hat just thinking about leaving! Also, just remembering that we were given just 5 weeks and this couple will get 5 months to prepare to come.
Well, better go, We are up early to take an Elder to the Airport. We love you all and look forward to hugging you all in a few short months!