Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life is busier than ever

Now that Alex is an assistant to the President, we haven't heard from him quite as much.  In fact just this week we finally got his first real letter since we talked to him on Mother's Day.  Alex told us that life as an AP is crazier than he ever imagined.  He said that when he was a zone leader he thought life was busy.  But now as an AP, he and his companion are constantly on the move.  Alex gave us a brief run down of what he and his companion have to do.  Every transfer period, which is basically six weeks, they are traveling the mission and going on splits with every one of the zone leader companionships.  They use this time to do training and to find out just how well the zone leaders and their zones are doing.  In addition to that, they are helping to conduct the zone leader conference every month and also taking care of every odd and end that the mission president needs done in between.  On Sunday evenings Alex and his companion are at the mission office making phone calls and collection the weekly numbers so that they can report them back to Salt Lake.  We know this firsthand because during our Mother's Day call last month which happened to be on a Sunday night, Alex was constantly interrupted by phone calls from zones leaders who were calling to report their weekly progress.  Then on top of all of that, they are also expected to continue their normal proselyting and teaching just like every other missionary.   

Alex told us a story that is typical Alex.  When Alex was called to be an assistant to the president, he had to leave Manhattan and report to the mission office about a week before regular transfers.  His companion in Manhattan was also preparing to finish his mission a week later.  This meant that two new missionaries would be taking over the Manhattan 2nd Ward area where Alex has been serving for the past 8 months.  When his Manhattan companion arrived at the mission office week later, just before going home, Alex was obvious there.  Apparently the mission president and his wife invite all of the departing missionaries to have dinner with them in the mission home.  Alex told us that he and his Manhattan companion skipped out of the dinner that night and went tracting instead.   Alex told us that his former companion had a really hard time leaving the mission and that Alex had a really hard time watching him go.  During that final night of tracting, Alex told us that he and his former companion found 10 potential investigators.  Alex hasn't mention what has become of any of those 10 contacts but I can just imagine that when the time comes for Alex to return home, this is probably how he will spend his last night in Independence Missouri mission as well.

Alex told us in his most recent letter that he was able to travel back to Manhattan to perform the baptism of one of the people that he and his previous companion had been teaching.  He said that the baptism went very well and that he really misses the Manhattan Ward.  He also said that since both he and his previous companion basically left Manhattan at the same time, fortunately they were replace by two very good missionaries.  Of course the work will always go on no matter what, but it is good to know that when a missionary leaves an area, that there are good missionaries who are capable of picking up where they had left off. 

Alex told us kind of a funny story about what he and several other "white" missionaries did for Memorial Day.  Apparently Alex and his companion are currently teaching several black people.  So for a Memorial Day celebration, these good people invited Alex, his companion and several other missionaries over to their house for a good southern fish fry.  Alex told us that as these gatherings go, there were quite a few people at this house, all enjoying each others company and having a good time.  So many people that when one of the missionaries was asked to say grace, the line of people all holding hands during the prayer extended through the garage and into the house.   Of course everyone there were singing and dancing and having a good time.  At one point during the celebration, Alex's companion decided to join in by "busting a little dance move" just to show what he's got.  Well, I'm not sure what kind of moves this missionary had, but it caused the whole crowd to burst out laughing.  Alex said that they all had a very good time and it was a unique experience for all of them.

In closing his letter this last week, this is what Alex told us about his last few weeks as an AP:
"I am very grateful for this opportunity that I have been given. I feel like I have grown so much in the past three weeks, its incredible. My testimony is growing by leaps and bounds, and I am loving my mission more than ever! I love serving the Lord, and seeing the miracles that happen when we work as hard as we can! The church is true!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A quick transfer and a new set of responsibilities

As you probably all know and I would be surprised if you didn't, last Sunday was Mothers Day.  But when you have a missionary out in the field and in our case two missionaries out serving, Mothers Day is "our missionaries call home" day as well.  So obviously we got to talk to Alex on the phone this past Sunday.  He worried us just a little because when he was able to call home in the past, he usually called first thing in the morning.  This time was a little different.  We waited all day for Alex to call and by about 8:00 in the evening, we were wondering if he was going to call at all.  His older brother who is in the Rochester, New York mission had already called us earlier that day and we had a very good conversation with him.  But Alex hadn't called all day long.  Then finally at around 8:00 pm Alex called to tell us that he was someplace other than Manhattan, Kansas.  Yep you guessed it, after nine months in Manhattan, Alex finally got transferred.  But the funny thing was, this last week was not transfer week so something very interesting must have happened. 

So here is the interesting thing that happened.  Last Monday after P-Day was over, Alex and his companion traveled to Independence for their monthly zone leader conference.  Alex arrived a little early and when the mission president saw Alex at the mission office, he asked Alex to join him in his office.  Alex told us that when the mission president invited him into the office, he was a little nervous and had a hard time breathing.  After a little bit of chit-chat, the mission president finally asked Alex if he would accept a call to be the new AP.  That's right, Alex is now one of the assistants the mission president in the Independence, Missouri mission. 

When Alex called us on Mothers Day, he was calling from the mission office.  Being Sunday night, he and his new companion were in the middle of AP training.  Part of this training included contacting each of the zone leaders throughout the mission to gather the numbers for the week.  We asked Alex what else his new responsibilities would include and he told us that he was still learning all about what it means to be an assistant and what he would be doing.  Of course he and his companion will still be responsible for doing traditional missionary work which means finding new people and teaching the gospel.  But in addition to that, they will also be responsible for traveling throughout the mission and doing a lot of training themselves.  Then there is helping out with transfers, collecting and organizing mission data and who knows what else he will be asked to do.  One thing that will be very interesting however, is that Alex will most likely be in the mission office when the current mission president finishes his mission this summer and the new mission president arrives.  That whole transition will be a very interesting time in the life of an AP.

Obviously, with this news of Alex being transferred to the mission office, most of the Mothers Day phone call revolved around finding out more about this new responsibility.  But before Alex left Manhattan, which apparently, according to Alex, is now called "Manhappenin", Alex told us all about the new people that he and his companion had been teaching.  Alex mention again this week just how much he loves doing church tours and how the spirit is always so strong.  Alex talked all about how some of the people that they have been teaching have already experienced some great changes in their lives.  Alex referred to these changes as miracles.  As you can probably imagine, when a missionary watches these kinds of miracles happen quite frequently, it makes everything that is sacrificed for a mission, worth it. 

With the transfer to the mission office happening so quickly, Alex didn't get much of a chance to say goodbye to many of the people in the Manhattan 2nd Ward as well as the many other people he had come to know.  So if you are one of those people, don't worry, Alex will be back as he travels around the mission as part of is assistant duties.  Alex can't believe that he is on his last six months in the mission and has told us more than once that he doesn't want to come home.  Of course we can't believe how fast the time has gone by to this point and that the next time we talk to him, it will be face to face at the airport.  But there is still a lot of new experiences that Alex will have over the next six months and we are very excited to hear all about them.