Our apartment in Nutley!

Our apartment in Nutley!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The End Is Coming

It is now less than three weeks before we drive away from the New Jersey Morristown Mission and head for home in California.  It is hard to capture in words our feelings, but I will give it a try.

We have feelings of satisfaction with what we have accomplished.  Our main goal was to be a blessing in the lives of the young missionaries and Church members that we worked with.  We can clearly identify ways that this goal was achieved in general and in terms of specific people we were able to help.  In addition, we wanted to be devoted to full time service of many different kinds.  As we look back we can again see fulfillment of this desire in our service in the community, in our church branch, in the Manhattan Temple, and in the mission.  One very specific goal was to lighten the burden on our mission president by executing our mission assignments in such a way that he did not need to concern himself further with those tasks.  We did that.

We have had great feelings of camaraderie as we have worked and socialized with our fellow senior missionaries.  It was a humbling privilege to be a part of a team dedicated to serving the Savior's purposes here in New Jersey.  These are the kind of people we are trying to be like because they are trying to be like Jesus.  They will always be our friends.  This was an unexpected blessing of our senior mission.

Above all we have had feelings of love given and received.  We have felt the genuine love and appreciation the young missionaries have for us.  They are always anxious to give us hugs and tell us how happy they are to have us around.  It may have something to do with a combination of Sister Shaw's cookies and their view of us as their substitute grandparents.  Whatever it is, it is wonderful and we love them back.  They give us hope for the future of this world.  We have also had similar feelings for members of the Church here in the Paterson Branch.

We also are feeling a little sad because these experiences here are coming to an end and we will be left with only memories of our time here.  We are also feeling excitement at the prospect of being reunited with our family in the west.  Our mission has increased our awareness of just how much we love and appreciate them.  I have no doubt that our reunion will be sweet indeed.

So, we conclude our record, declaring that we have written according to the best of our knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives are passing away like as it were unto us a dream (Jacob 7:26).  Serving the Lord has made it a sweet dream indeed.  Brothers and Sisters, adieu.

 Looking down Edison Avenue.  Parking for our apartment is on the right.

 Our parking area.

 More snow out our kitchen window.  One thing about New Jersey we will not miss.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Grandparents To The Rescue

The other day we were home for the day and relaxing a little before going to bed when the phone rang.  It was Sisters Brown & Pastores over in zone 2 and they were frantic.

"Our kitchen sink is overflowing!  What should we do?"

"Well, first you need to turn the water off," I calmly replied.

"No, no.  The water is off.  It's coming up through the drain!"

"And now it's flowing over the front of the cabinets like Niagara Falls," I said, taking it to the logical conclusion.

"Yes, and it's hot. What should we do?"

"Wait, did I understand you to say that the water is hot?"

"Yes.  What should we do?"

"Okay, here's what you do.  Get all of your stuff off the floor.  Then call the building supervisor and get ready to leave.  Then call me back and tell me what the super said and I'll tell you where you are going."

"Thank you so much, Elder Shaw.  We knew that you would know just what to do.  You really are the greatest,"  They gushed.

Okay, I will admit that I made up that last part, but I am sure that is what they were thinking.  Meanwhile, I am thinking, "What on earth would cause hot water to come up the drain pipe into their kitchen sink?  Maybe a bathtub upstairs being drained and there is a plug in the drain downstream from where the two pipes come together."

I couldn't spend too much time pondering this curiosity.  I had to find somewhere to put a pair of homeless sisters.  Looking at the MAG (mission at a glance) I concluded that the best place for them was with the sisters over on Ozone Avenue in Cedar Grove.  I then called the zone leaders.  No answer.  I then called the mission office person in charge of apartment paperwork.  No answer.  Well, that leaves me in complete charge. 

The phone rang and it was my mermaid sisters who told me the water was still flowing and there was a lot of steam because the water was hot.  They also said they had been able to reach the supervisor who said he would be over in the morning to take a look at it.  What!?!  I guess after hurricane Sandy the thought of an apartment full of water to ceiling doesn't bother these people.  I said,  "That's it.  Load up what you need and head over to stay at least tonight with Sisters Taylor and Harvey."

At least the Ozone apartment is still in zone 2.  I knew why they were so agreeable with this plan.  They were thinking, "Hot dog!  A slumber party!"

A few minutes later they called again to say the fire department and police had arrived.  It seems that their apartment was not the only one being flooded and someone had called 911.  They said that so far, the fire department had no idea what to do.  I responded, "Go to Ozone!"

A couple of days later we visited with Sisters Brown & Pastores at the NJMM Christmas conference.  They said they had only stayed one night over on Ozone and that they had been told the problem had been a clogged pipe but that no one had explained why there had been so much hot water.  Their apartment is drying out but the mission supplied carpet is a total loss, which is okay since storage is overflowing with excess everything, including excess carpet.  The sisters tossed the water logged and stinking carpet into the apartment dumpster.  I guess I wasn't too surprised to hear that.  We have some tough sisters in the NJMM.  Now all we have to do is haul a carpet from storage over there.  Maybe next week.

This is just one example of the calls for help we receive.  Others have included the following:

"Our heater is not working and we are freezing."

"Our air conditioner is not working and we are cooking."

"We have bed bugs.  Please help us."

"We have roaches.  Please help us."

"The trunk on our car won't close."

"Our dryer has stopped working."

"We have a leak under the sink."

We really are very happy to help our vicarious grandchildren in any way we can.  It's just that we never "roll-played" any of this in the MTC.


First snow out our front window.

First snow out our kitchen window.

Three Shaws

David Shaw took this shot of New York City late one evening as we were returning from a day in The City.  It looks better from New Jersey than when you are over there.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fall In New Jersey

Fall in New Jersey is gorgeous!  Take a look at these photos and see if you don't agree.

 In the parking lot of missionary apartment.

 Senior missionary activity.  Yeah, all we do is have fun!  A passing policeman stopped and offered to take this photo.

 Senior missionary "Fabulous Fall Field Trip" to look at the color.  Above and below.

 Tree outside of our apartment in Nutley, above and four days later, below.

 Street views, above and below.

Outside our apartment window.

Friday, October 31, 2014

We Move Mountains!

Okay, that title may be a little misleading but it accurately portrays how we feel as we assist in moving mountains of missionary furniture all over most of New Jersey and even into New York.  Now I know why I was always volunteering in priesthood quorum to help someone move.  It was to get me ready for this.

Actually, in several ways this is much easier than moving ward members.  For one thing,  the young elders help us with much of the heavy lifting.  All I have to do is tremble a bit while carrying a box springs, with some perspiration showing on my 68 year old brow, and several young elders will come running to my aid.  I even had a sister missionary try to take the box springs away from me once.  No way was that going to happen.  I have standards, you know.

The young elders really are a big help.  Recently several of them moved a large and very heavy desk down three flights of stairs and out and into my trailer.  They made a lot of funny noises coming down the stairs but they made it with no serious bloodshed.  I cannot believe the size of some of these elders!  And, they all lift weights!

Each Sunday evening we call Elder & Sister Bailey to establish our moving plans for the coming week.  They oversee all missionary apartments in the mission, including acquiring new apartments and giving up ones we no longer need.  The mission has about 130 apartments under lease so it's a big job.

We occasionally help with the hunt for a new apartment which is an interesting exercise because at first the landlord is happy with the prospect of renting to this sweet grandparent looking couple, but then we have to use all of our selling skills as we explain that this apartment is not for us but rather for a couple of young men who are missionaries and who get transferred in and out every few months.  We hasten to point out that these young men or women do not smoke, drink, or party and that we inspect their apartment frequently to ensure they are keeping it neat and tidy.  At this point, one of two things happen: 1) They don't believe us but they are desperate so the rent the apartment to us or 2) They don't believe us and they are not desperate so they don't rent the apartment to us.

Today we helped clean out an apartment that we no longer need in Rutherford, NJ.  Elder Bailey, Elder Shaw, and four young elders broke down the beds and furniture and hauled everything down and stuffed it into the truck and trailer.  Meanwhile, Sister Bailey and Sister Shaw cleaned and vacuumed.  When we were all finished we took the keys to the landlord.  He came out and voluntarily went on and on about how wonderful the young missionaries had been and how glad he was that he had rented to us, etc., etc.  I am thinking, "Well, it's nice to finally be believed."

We have thought about the idea of having our existing landlords write letters about their experiences with the missionaries.  We could then use those letters to help convince the skeptics that renting to the missionaries is a good idea.  So far we have "a stupor of thought" on this subject.  We have been able to obtain the apartments we need in spite of those who struggle with truth recognition so why try to convince them?  Maybe someday.

On a typical moving day, we leave our apartment in Nutley at 8:00 AM and drive the 27 miles to the LDS stake center in Morristown where the mission owned truck and trailer are stored in the back parking lot.  And, what a sweet truck it is!  Chevy Silverado 4 by 4 with an extended cab, complete with a massive V8 engine and heavy duty towing package.  It reeks of testosterone.  Let's just say that with a fully loaded truck and trailer I have no problem maintaining freeway speed on the steepest grade in New Jersey.  Of course we have to stop a lot for gas.

If we are lucky we arrive at the Morristown chapel at around 8:45 AM.  If we are not lucky, it's more like 9:00 AM or after.  The traffic here is completely unpredictable.  We transfer our gear to the truck, including our lunch, tools, and GPS.  I often check my joint with the trailer to make sure the lights are all working and everything looks secure.  I have heard horror stories that I won't repeat here.

Once I am happy with everything I fire up the engine and log in to the "TiWi" using my mission issued ID card.  The TiWi responds by saying, "Driver logged in."  That's right, the thing talks to me in a rather gruff male voice that is only slightly less annoying than Lola, the GPS lady.  At least I can shut Lola up.  There is no way to stop the TiWi guy from saying heartwarming things like, "Check your speed," and, "Aggressive driving!"

I have been told that if the TiWi guy gets too fed up with my driving he reports me to Salt Lake, whereupon my mission president gets a call asking why he has a maniac at the wheel of a mission vehicle.  As far as I know, that has not happened yet.  Either that or the president told them, "He may be a maniac but he gets the job done and none of my other MLS missionaries are crazy enough to do it."

I want to just say for the record that I am not a maniac driver.  The "Aggressive driving" tags I have received so far are completely unfair!  New Jersey roads and highways are smooth the way the surface of the moon is smooth and it's not just potholes.  You can be driving along at the posted speed limit on a seemingly nice highway and come upon a short bridge over something below.  As you approach you have no way of knowing that this bridge has been constructed with an upward arch and there has been no effort to match the roadway with the arch.  In other words, it's a speed bump!  I have learned from sad experience that these unannounced speed bumps vary in severity depending upon which lane you are in.  For example, there is one of these booby-trap bridges right over here on route 21.  In lane #3 it's not too bad.  In lanes #1 and #2 you are going to get some air at the 55 MPH speed limit.  "Aggressive driving!"

After driving around here for a while you actually begin to remember where many of the truly breathtaking hazards are located and you can take evasive action well in advance.  Unfortunately, there are millions more that you have not yet discovered, some of which can probably be seen from the moon.  If you are driving at night you will never see one of these coming.  Wham!  "Aggressive driving!"

Even if you are driving during the day and happen to see one of these craters in advance it will probably be too late.  Wham!  "Aggressive driving!"

If you take last second evasive action, also known as a swerve, and  are lucky enough to miss the pothole you will still get, "Aggressive driving!"  The TiWi guy does not like swerving.

Is it okay to hate an inanimate object?  I know I am supposed to love God and all of my brothers and sisters, but what about this computer generated nagger?

As we leave the Morristown chapel we typically will be headed to an existing missionary apartment that we are cleaning out or to the storage area to pick up a load of furniture to take to a new missionary apartment that we are setting up.  Depending upon the circumstances, Elder and Sister Bailey may meet us at Morristown and will be riding with us or they will meet us at storage or the apartment.

I don't think I want to try describing the 'hood where storage is located.  Let's just say that our anxiety level about going there is not nearly as high as it used to be.  The accompanying photos should clear up any misunderstanding.

While my skill at backing up the trailer is good enough in most circumstances, storage is one place where my confidence completely fails.  It is a narrow, one way street where cars are typically parked on both sides and the place where the trailer needs to go is very tight.  Fortunately, Elder Bailey is a trailer backing pro.  Time and again I marvel at his skill as he "threads the needle."  The funny thing is, he does not like driving the truck and trailer forward.  Just backing.  So, we make a great pair.  In fact, until recently he was not even authorized to drive the truck.  He only obtained authorization because there have been some occasions when I could not drive due to other obligations and he desperately needed to move some furniture.  So, he now drives, but only when I am not available or the circumstances are such that it does not make sense for me to drive.  Even in those cases, when we are finally together he tries to get me to take over.  I tell him that occasionally I just like to be along for the ride.  We make a great team.  Elder Bailey is a great man and I enjoy working with him.

With the trailer backed up to storage we go to work loading or unloading, with Elders Bailey and Shaw dealing with the large items and Sisters Bailey and Shaw moving the smaller items.  We rarely have help at this location, but we still have some fight left in us.  We stop and rest occasionally,  Another thing that makes moving missionary furniture easier is that we do not need to be overly careful.  Missionary furniture is functional and not stylish or cosmetically attractive.  In other words, it's not exactly what you will run across in the temple.  Things rarely match and, of course, we save the best for senior apartments.

The number of missionaries in our mission has been declining over the last several months due to the fact that we are now on the other side of the "bubble" created by the age change.  This means that we have had to become very creative in the way we organize the stuff in storage.  We finally decided we had to get rid some of it.  Our friendship with Katherine helped substantially in this effort.  Katherine is a grandmother that spends most of her waking hours sitting on her porch across the street from storage.  She sort of watches over the 'hood and as such has become familiar with our operation.  She always greets us and we always return the gesture.  So, one day we asked her if she would like some furniture.  I think we have furnished her entire apartment and those of her family members and beyond, including the patio chair where she sits on her porch.  We figure it can't hurt to have a friend or two in the 'hood.

But, we had way more stuff than even Katherine and family could absorb.  So, we hauled three loads to three different LDS church parking lots located in poor areas and invited members to come take what they wanted.  This worked out very well, mainly because Sister Shaw developed a "round robin" system that prevented any one person from walking off with the entire load and at the same time minimized contention  that might develop over who got what.

Well, that about explains what the Bailey and Shaw Moving Company does.  It's not very spiritual or glamorous, but it needs to be done and we are glad to do it.  Just please do not ask us to help someone move for at least a week or two after we return home.  Thanks.

 Our storage is in the garage and the large room behind the garage.  Missionary apartment is next     floor up.

                                                                To the left of storage.

                                                Katherine's apartment across the street.

                                                        To the left of Katherine's apartment.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We Went Walking This Morning

We try to go walking as often as we can in order to provide us with the illusion that we can obtain eternal life through exercise.  When doing so we often encounter other walkers who are pursuing some variation of the same illusion.  We always try to greet such fellow pilgrims with a cheerful, "Good morning!"

Most of the time they return the greeting as we pass, usually with somewhat less enthusiasm.  I think our name tags worry people a little.  Occasionally our salutation is completely ignored.  Oh, I am sure it is not intentional.  They probably just had a death in the family or some equally traumatic event in their life that has soaked up their entire bandwidth of awareness.  Who am I to judge otherwise?  After all, I have been known to focus on a problem or other attractions with such intensity that the world could cease to exist and I would hardly notice.

Once in a great while we encounter someone who wants to talk.  Such was the case today.
He was a very nice man of 63 with full head of silver hair who was out walking his dog which looked like a miniature husky.  Very attractive dog.  Our name tags did not bother him a bit.  In fact, that was what started the conversation.  He said something like, "God bless you for what you do.  I am Roman Catholic, but it's all the same.  Right?  As long as you treat people right it's all the same God.  Right?"

We learned that he was a retired school teacher of special needs children and that his wife is still actively teaching such children.  I will not be surprised to someday learn that people who do that kind of work have a very special place reserved for them in our Father's Kingdom.

As the conversation continued we learned that they have one adult daughter who also works in education and that there are no grandchildren yet.  Our new sidewalk friend said their daughter has a boy friend and he made it abundantly clear, complete with expansive hand gestures (I think he is Italian), that he wishes they would get married and have children before he develops dementia and won't know who they are!

In this kind of situation we really do not enjoy mentioning that we happen to have seven wonderful children and 18 equally amazing grandchildren because it would be a little too much like going, "Nah, Nah, N', Nah, Nah" as we did when we were kids on the playground.  And, we are adults.  Right?

Actually, we kind of know how he might feel.  Many of the senior missionary couples we meet seem anxious to tell us they have 27 children and 3,509 grandchildren and only 75 great-grandchildren, so far.  "Nah, Nah, N', Nah, Nah."

Okay, okay, I am exaggerating a little.  I have never actually heard a senior couple say, "Nah, Nah, N', Nah, Nah."  How did I get this far off subject?

Anyway, as we said goodbye and parted ways I was feeling a little sorry for this very nice Italian gentleman (I think his name is Tony) because his desire for grandchildren is probably a forlorn hope.  Why?  Because all religions are not the same.  Yes, they all teach us to treat people right, but they do not all have the true doctrines of our Heavenly Father which, when coupled with the power of the Holy Ghost, make it much easier to develop the faith necessary to keep the commandments of God when it is very unpopular in our society to do so.  Now, that is a long sentence but it is so true.

So, while we are experiencing joy and rejoicing in our posterity, poor Tony is becoming more and more aware that he and his wife are missing out.  Mercifully, they are not fully aware of the depth or height of that joy and rejoicing.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Photo Of Elder Alforeza That Goes With The Story Below

What Is The Most Rewarding Part Of Being A Senior Missionary?

I can think of several contenders for the answer to that question.  So far I am reluctant to identify one that I would put above the rest.  However, one of those contenders that always comes to mind is the joy, privilege, pleasure, spiritual experience, and all around fun of working with the young Elders and Sisters.  Something happened this Sunday morning (08/31/2014) that reaffirmed that serving with these wonderful young people probably should be at the top of the list.

We received the following text message from Elders Alforeza & Cruz:

            Good morning oh so sweet and loving couple to zone 1 and the Paterson Branch!
            We don't know where we would be without you two!
            All we know is that we will be lost and that we appreciate all your help :)
            <Brazil ~ Saipan>

I think :) is a smiley face, but I am not sure.  Elder Alforeza is from Saipan and Elder Cruz is from Brazil.  I responded:

            Thank you so much!  It is wonderful to be appreciated.

Whereupon they texted back:

            :) youre welcome.  Its much deserved.
            I was just thinking about all the hard work you do for this mission, for us, and the           branch.
            The least I can do is say thank you for all your efforts!
            <Brazil ~ Saipan>

Someone who is a little cynical may be a slightly inclined at this point to think that these missionaries are looking for some major favor.  But, not me.  In fact, I was so touched that my eyes moistened up a bit and I began to wonder how hard it would be to adopt someone from Saipan.  (Note to our children:  Don't worry about your inheritance.  Zero divided by 7, 8 or 9 is still the same.)

If you are feeling under appreciated try serving an MLS (member and leadership support) mission.