Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hello From Tennessee!

My parents left the beginning of  February to serve an 18 month LDS mission to Nashville, Tennessee.  They are sooo busy, this is only the second letter that I have received from them so far.  And it sounds like I am lucky to get it!  I am glad that my parents are youthful enough - at 70 years old - to keep up with it all!
If any of you former missionaries ever wonder what those Senior missionary couples do in the office while on their missions, well, wonder no more!
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There is never a dull moment here. When we get to our apartment at night we are dead tired, we eat and go to bed.
The time is going very fast. We are already on our second transfer which means that we have to re-organize the missionaries and update all the lists, etc. The transfers occur every 6 weeks and we get a new group of missionaries, usually about 7 and roughly the same number go home. The new missionaries come in on Monday and we orient them and they go to the mission home for dinner, a testimony meeting and stay there overnight. The next day everyone that is involved in the transfers goes to the Franklin Stake Center and boy is that wild. The missionaries are really fired up over their experiences and we hear a lot of good experiences and then they find out who their new companions are going to be and off they go. That same afternoon we go to the Temple which is right next to the Franklin Stake Center and shares the same parking lot, and we attend a session with the missionaries who are going to be released. After the session, the missionaries that are going to be released go to the mission home have dinner, a program and a testimony meeting and stay all night there. On Wednesday they fly home. It is always a very emotional time as they want to go home and yet they don’t. It is very hard for some of them. The senior couple that went home the last transfer cried and cried and even weeks later were still unsettled about what to do with themselves once they got home.
Did you notice all the dinners? They don’t happen by magic. Sister Hutchings, Sister Christiansen, (of the other office couple) and I help with at least 3 group dinners a month. Sister Hutchings has it all figured out and does the same thing over and over for specific events as they don’t include the same missionaries for most dinners. In between time we get visa waiters who stay until they get their visa for a foreign mission. There are also temple sisters who are transferred from and back to their temple mission. They usually stay about 3 months. The church wants them to have a regular teaching mission experience. That are wonderful! We just transferred Sister Paterson back to Nauvoo. She was amazing! She and her companions were consistently teaching about 75 lessons a week. The average is around 25 in our mission. President Hutchings had her present her approach to all 7 zone conferences. The last one we had at 7 am so that she could be there before her flight to Nauvoo at 9:30 am. I was able to hear her presentation that morning, and what a sweet, sincere missionary with a message!

Elder Merritt’s responsibilities include: accidents to report, repairs to co-ordinate, registrations to renew, an oil change and tire rotations schedule to maintain, presentation of a safety program in every zone conference which can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 ½ hours one way travel time. There are 6 conferences with 7 zones and 50 cars to inspect every other month. He then enters the changes in the condition in the computer. There are also reports on mileage and gas receipts and credit card reconciliation for all repairs and oil changes and training drivers and updating their status.

We change 2-3 apartments a month and so I find the new apartment and close the old ones. I keep track of the money and supplies and make sure that 140 missionaries have their proper allowances and luggage fees. I pay rent and utilities on 55 apartments and reconcile credit card purchases on office supplies. There are also maintenance issues for the apartments, furniture and appliances to co-ordinate. I also help forward all the mail that comes to the missionaries through the office and fill in for Elder Merritt when I can. Needless to say there is very little down time. We aren’t complaining. We love being busy and still we don’t do as much as President & Sister Hutchings. They never have a day off. At least we can go to the apartment get some sleep. They survive on 4-5 hours a night because he is always on the phone with missionaries or there are medical issues that she is dealing with. He uses 5,000 minutes a month on his phone and I hear hers is more.
All in all we are busy and happy to be serving the Lord. We did get a chance to teach the gospel essentials class this week and we have been able to go on teaching appointments. We want to do more of that and probably will when we get a better handle on the office responsibilities.

Give our love to all. We would love to hear from y’all.

Love Elder and Sister Merritt

PS We love Tennessee!
I wonder - are they going to come home with a Southern accent?  My guess is Yes!
And if you want to read their first letter, go here.


Cherie said...

I loved reading their letter. I never actually knew what some of the Senior Missionaries did - this was an eye opening. They are busy!!! Wow!
I think it is great that they are having such a good mission - it is a wonderful example to their grandchildren.
Hooray for Missionaries!

Valerie said...

I loved reading it! Thanks for sharing. I had no idea that senior missionaries were in charge of some of those things. Now I have an idea of things I need to work on for the future. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to grasp a "mission trip" to Tennessee. I always think of mission trips to third world countries. But we have spiritually starving people in the USA too, don't we?! What a good point!

Sincerely~ Andrea