Monday morning was exciting as we welcomed sixteen new missionaries to our mission. We look forward to welcoming new arrivals about every six weeks. This time there were ten sisters (four of whom are Spanish speaking) and six elders. James and I kind of fell into the job of official organizers and seteruppers. We had a snow theme this time; from my snowflake necklace to the pile of cotton balls for a centerpiece on the tables, to the addition of cauliflower (like little snowballs) in the salad, to the acini de pepe, snowflake stickers for the orientation checklist, and the treat bags full of snowman treats. President Layton was horrified during lunch when someone called out "snowball fight" and everyone started throwing the cotton balls at each other, but it did lighten things up and was fun for a minute or two.
That evening we had dinner at the mission home (picture below) with all the newly arrived missionaries. Sister Morris takes care of that dinner. She had Sister Medina (our substitute granddaughter's mother) make beans, rice, and tamales which everyone enjoyed.
Then Tuesday morning at 9:00 am we were back over to the stake center for transfers. The missionaries usually find out on Saturday night if they are going to be transferred. It was a hubbub of activity in the parking lot. Everybody getting their suitcases and stuff out and transferring it to other cars, lots of hugs and excitement to see each other, and some tears to say goodbye to their old companions. Thank heavens the rain had stopped and it was a nice day. James had to put some license plates on some of the new cars and take care of other business. After about an hour everybody leaves and drives off to their new areas. The trainers stay and come into the building for training and to get paired up with their newly arrived companions. They leave just before noon and are off to save souls. Then we fed lunch to the missionaries who will be departing from their missions the next day. There are only four going home this time. They have dinner and a final testimony meeting at the mission home with President and Sister Layton in the evening. Then early on Wednesday morning they take them to the airport for their 6:00 am flights. This wonderful process of arrivals, transfers, and departures is repeated over and over again about every six weeks.
This is Sister Clegg and Sister Harmon. We used to see Sister Harmon very often in the mission office. She always seemed to find some reason to come in. She brightens our day, and when she is in the room everyone knows it! She is very outgoing, crazy, and knows how to get what she wants. It is a party whenever she is around! She will still be in Bakersfield, but not so close to the office now. She was assigned to the YSA ward, and that means they cover all of Bakersfield, so maybe we will still get to see her all the time. They are great missionaries!
Wednesday morning there was a worldwide missionary broadcast that reached the 74,079 missionaries serving in the 422 missions around the world. The broadcast was with the seven members of the Missionary Executive Council. The council is made up of three apostles, Elders Oaks, Bednar, and Anderson, and four others. We watched it on the computers in the office. They gave some very good training for the missionaries. Elder Oaks said, "establish good habits in the field and they will continue after your missions." Elder Bednar said, "to get out of the way, do your best, and the Holy Ghost will operate thru us in spite of our limitations." He also said, "Talk less, listen more, be still and let the Holy Ghost do His work." Elder Anderson said, "Always speak of the Savior from the heart. It's just not words. It is representing Him." Some of the mission rules pertaining to the schedule in the little, white Missionary Handbook were changed to give missionaries an opportunity to use their time wisely, exercise their agency, fit into the culture and time schedules of other countries better, to have more time on P-day, and to make it a smoother transition when they leave their missions and go back to their regular lives. Also, the information missionaries report related to those they are teaching, "key indicators" changed from the previous nine to only four now. They are: investigators baptized and confirmed, investigators with a baptismal date, investigators who attend sacrament meeting, and new investigators. Elder Oaks gave good advice to all of us when he said, "Miss no opportunity to serve your fellowman."
Help, what is happening! There was only one baptism in our mission this week. Julio Jimenez, an 86 year old man, was baptized. Usually there is a whole list of people getting baptized, which has been averaging out about seven or eight each week.
James and I try to "match" if we can. He usually waits to see what color I am wearing, and then he picks out his tie for the day. Some of the sisters at transfers noticed and commented on it. They said we were "so cute".
On Saturday we went to California City with Ingrid & Bruce to deliver some medication to one of our missionaries there. It is about an hour and a half southeast of here. There is not much in California City. It is a pretty desolate place out in the Mojave Desert. It was only started in 1958 and was going to be a planned community larger than Los Angeles, but it failed. They built Central Park and an artificial lake in the center. The population grew to only about 14,500. Even though it is a small city, it is the third largest in California by land area. It boasts a PGA golf course, small airport, a prison, and a professional independent baseball team, California City Whiptails in the Pecos League.
Elder Killian (one of our brand new missionaries) and Elder Rindlisbacher
Then we went to Boron, a small town about 27 miles from there. Boron only has a population of 2,500, but is home to the world's largest source of the boron compound boric acid. The U.S. Borax Boron Mine is California's largest open-pit mine and the largest borax mine in the world. It is owned by Rio Tinto Minerals. The twenty mule team was made famous there. Also, the movies "Erin Brockovich" with Julia Roberts and "The Carpetbaggers" were filmed there. In addition, the TV show "Death Valley Days" (1952-1975) was filmed in and around Boron.
THE LORD LOVES YOU AND SO DO WE!