It has been closer to a month since the last post than we care to admit. No one will be surprised to learn that it has been a little busy.
Here are some of the bigger things we have done. We did a round of interviews, which takes seven long days. President Bonham interviews for hours, and those always run a little behind. We haven’t had one yet that didn’t get a little behind, but often that's because the missionaries are getting comfortable with the President and feel like they can bring up concerns or worries. While he is doing the official interviews with individual Missionaries Sister Bonham pulls them out in companionships and just gets acquainted a little bit and has them tell about the people they have been teaching. While this is going on the Zone Leaders are busy teaching their Zone, one half at a time. We especially loved the Zone Leaders who spent lots of time talking about obedience, including to rules that seem unimportant, but can bring blessings when followed. If the whole mission could catch that vision it would be a miracle and would bring miracles. In connection with that lesson they reminded the about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who threw down their weapons of war. One set of Zone Leaders had each missionary write on a plastic knife (weapon) an example of a disobedience (their own favorite) and throw it down at Moroni’s feet (Okay, Elder G’s trash can by his feet). Then they also signed a “Tie-tle” of liberty and obedience promising to follow the rules. The “tie’tle” was the backs of a tie for each of the Zone Leaders. It was a powerful lesson, especially because they gave examples of some small obedient changes they had made themselves, and it had already yielded increased investigators.
Zone Conferences. These were already on the schedule in groups of 2-3 zones at a time, so we completed them in 3 days. We expected to feel like the groups were too large, and that we would want to make a change for the next time, but it wasn’t too bad and we are not sure which way we will do it next time. It is nice to do it in 3 days instead of 7. These were a series of training sessions where President and Sister Bonham, our Assistants and the Sister Training Leaders, as well as some of the Senior Missionaries in charge of housing and driving, presented classes and workshops on topics related to Missionary work. The Stake Relief Societies provided nice lunches. The Missionaries got to learn from President Bonham about spending their “marshmallows” wisely, which translates to using all the resources, like time and money and energy to help them achieve their missionary purpose. Sister Bonham taught about Priesthood Authority and explaining about the need for a second baptism in some cases graciously, and also gave a breakout class on healthy, quick, inexpensive eating; and exercise.
There’s been plenty happening on the health front also, which has led to President Bonham establishing a new Mission Rule: Whatever organs you bring with you in your body on the mission should also go home with you on the inside of your body. Yep, a sleepless night at the hospital leading to an early morning removal of an appendix from one of our Elders. For Sister Bonham the tender mercy was that when he called the night before, and she was just on the edge of trying to convince him that he might have to endure some stomach pain until morning, she had a quiet but "couldn’t ignore" thought that it might be an appendix, even though the pain was just up under the rib. The pain would have been more than a little intense if he had had to endure it without any pain meds. It was certainly better to get things progressing. Hospital timing is slow; is anyone surprised about that?
We are heading toward our next transfers. Most of the decisions will be made this week. At least there are only two more Departure interviews for President Bonham to give. We will have these remaining two missionaries over for dinner on Sunday night. We will be joined by our Assistants, and by the new office couple.
It will be another long day of transfer interviews and instruction but we will be able to have a service project that can be a part of the schedule, and it will help break up the long, all the same afternoon and evening. Twenty-one of the new missionaries coming are sisters. It is probably the most sisters that have come in one transfer in the history of the mission. Wow!
We have been talking about the diversity of experiences we are having. One day we are chauffeurs for an Elder coming home from the hospital, having been the medical consultants during the day as we have visited; another evening we are invited to a beautiful home on a five-acre heavily wooded lot filled with hundred foot tall evergreens on rolling hills, and touring the woodworking shop and the deluxe chicken coop, personally signed by the Elders who helped build it for the landlord in the past, fed a gourmet dinner by the delightful hosts. A favorite is when we get to meet a couple like we met last night: the husband was recently reactivated, apparently a wonderful and inspiring journey, and the wife will be baptized on Saturday, and she is so joyful and eager about it. The ward already loves and embraces them. I can so easily picture this couple, and maybe eventually their grown children, living a full and happy life immersed in the gospel and the discipleship of Jesus Christ. It doesn't get much better than that!
Washington is so beautiful when it is beautiful. Going to and coming back from the interview last night was through new territory out on an island. It is mostly rural, lots of trees, of course, the Sound, and other beautiful bodies of water, we were even additionally blessed by a full or nearly full moon. It was amazing! I think it has to be that great to make up for a little of the gloomy in the winter, I’m not sure… But it was really nice! And we rode the Whidbey Island Ferry back across. It’s not an everyday kind of thing for me, and I enjoyed it.
"The boat" along I-5 is now gone. Someone freed the boat. Now I miss it. I am thinking of starting a new refrain: “Bring back the boat!”