Our apartment in Nutley!

Our apartment in Nutley!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Driving Miss Jersey

Well, we have been in our apartment for just over one week and it is becoming increasingly clear what some of our duties will be in the mission.  One of the senior couples, Elder & Sister Hendrickson, have sort of taken us under their wing and are giving us line upon line.  The Hendricksons are going home on May 15th (after more than 18 months of service) and we will be taking over some of their duties, the most frightening of which is driving the mission van all over creation.  It serves me right because when people ask what our experience in the Church has been and what our skills are, Sister Shaw always speaks first and after her impressive resume they turn to me whereupon I say, "I am just her driver."

So, why are there feelings of terror associated with driving the mission van?  Let me introduce the answer to that question by quoting from the book "New York City for Dummies" which was given to Sister Shaw by a few of the wonderful sisters in the Auburn 2nd Ward.  It essentially says, "Do not drive in New York City."

We have found that piece of advice could apply just as well to New Jersey.  There are a number of issues.  First, the roads are full of potholes, many of which are unavoidable, and some of which can swallow our Honda.  You must be constantly on the lookout for potholes.

Fortunately, the freeways and expressways do not have as many potholes, but they were designed by crazy people.  Most of the on and off ramps have extremely short acceleration or braking distances.  Some of the on ramps even have a stop sign just before the merge point!  I guess that's so you can take a moment to contemplate what kind of life you have lived before having your next near-death experience.

The freeways are a tangled web of ramps and connections.  Heaven help you if you are in the wrong lane.  It's not like you can take the next off ramp and just go back.  One mistake can put you into a tunnel or onto a bridge to New York City.  The signs are occasionally helpful.  The worst ones are those that tell you that you are in an exit only lane.  Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not.  They do not have the fat dashed lines that tell you that you are in an exit only lane.  One good thing:  I have not seen a commute lane!

Next, let's consider the drivers themselves.  I think they have traffic laws here to convince themselves that they are a civilized society; not that they are to be obeyed.  The basic rule of the road seems to be: Survive.  Other than that, almost anything goes.  I say almost anything because we have heard there are two things for which the law will show no mercy.  One is running a toll booth without paying and the other is turning right on a red light when there is a "no turn on red" sign.

There are places on the roads and even the freeways where there are no lane markings.  In some cases I think they may have just worn off from the snow, sand, and salt.  In other cases they have repaved and just didn't bother to re-stripe.  The rule in this circumstance seems to be "create as many lanes as you can fit cars in.  It is a little unsettling when someone passes you on the right and you are quite sure there is no lane there.
The irony is that in person the people here are very friendly and nice and even kind.  It's just that when they get behind the wheel they want to kill you.  I have promised Sister Shaw that I will remain a courteous and cautious California driver.  I wonder if we will survive.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New York City!

Okay, you are going to think all we do on a mission is have fun and you would be right!  It was fun spending all day on each of our first two full days with about 86 young Sisters and Elders as they were being trained on how to be effective missionaries.  It was fun on our third day (Saturday) to go with most of the senior missionaries on a trip to the Museum of Natural History in downtown New York City.  And, it was fun attending church for the first time in the branch where we have been assigned.

The thing that made all of these activities fun was the people we were privileged to be with.  Participating with those young Elders and Sisters as they worked together to become more powerful servants of the Lord filled us with many feelings, including hope for the future and a strong witness of the Spirit that this is the work of the Lord.  Those two days were essentially one giant spiritual experience that left us with feelings of peace, love and joy.  We were also exhausted.

We had similar feelings as we associated with other senior missionaries on our trip to NYC.  Here are people who are truly "the salt of the earth."  That means you could instantly trust any of them with your most precious possessions, including your life.  They all know that we are indeed children of our Heavenly Father and therefore their goal is to seek the interest of their brothers and sisters.  We instantly felt welcomed and loved!  Their diversity of experience in life was amazing.  There was a sugar beet farmer, a city manager, a medical doctor (87 years old!), educators, a nurse, and more.  But, they all recognized their most important work was as fathers and mothers or would be as such in the life to come.  If heaven means being with people like these then where do we sign up?  Oh, that's right, we already did when we were baptized.  Now all we have to do is endure to the end.  I think we have some motivation to do that.

We attended church today in the Paterson 2nd Branch which is one of three branches in the Paterson District.  When we walked in we were almost immediately surrounded by six young sister missionaries and two Elders who are currently serving in the branch. It was like we had suddenly acquired eight new grandchildren and that is exactly how we plan on treating them.  Sister Shaw has the cookie recipes all ready to go and I promised to help.  The members of this branch are from all over the world and that is no exaggeration.  We again had feelings of hope for the future as we watched these people from such different backgrounds rub shoulders and work together to learn and practice the gospel of Jesus Christ which will bring them closer and closer together.

There is no doubt.  We are having fun!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shaw's have left on their mission to...

the Morristown, New Jersey Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! They will be serving there for one year and they wanted me, Lisa, to start a mission blog for them. From here on out it will be my parents posting all of their adventures and experiences! Please save this link to hear updates from them! I know they would be grateful to hear from anybody while they are away! You can email them or post comments here!  

Lisa Packard

We Made It!

We made it to our apartment today.  It is quite nice.  It is very eclectic.  That means none of the furniture matches, but that is okay.  It will suffice.  It has been overcast all day with rain beginning this afternoon.  At least it wasn't snowing.  We met the mission president and his wife this morning.  They are very nice people.  We have been able to get most of our things put away this afternoon and evening.  We even found the Costco and Target.  Thank heavens for the GPS.  One of the senior missionary sisters called a while ago and in the course of our conversation told me that there is no such thing as a straight road in New Jersey.  She said traffic is insane.  Her husband drives some missionaries over the river to New York for some kind of doctor appointments.  She said they live about 12 miles from New York City and it takes up to 2 hours to get there.  Crazy!!  We also get to go to the temple in Manhattan regularly.  We start working hard tomorrow with two days worth of training with the missionaries.  We will have to go to the Morristown Chapel.  It is supposed to be only 25 minutes away, but we were told to leave an hour early due to traffic.  That means we will leave here by 7 am.  We have been assigned to work in an English speaking branch, although we are also supposed to help with two Spanish branches.  These branches are not in a stake, but in a district.  So our final responsibilities are not finalized yet. 

By the way.  The deli that is downstairs isn't in business. We were disappointed because we were going to have lunch there.

The above was by Sister Shaw.  The following is by Elder Shaw.

I looked through the window into the deli and it looks like it's being worked on.  So maybe it will be another apartment or a business.  As you can tell, we got the computer up and running with the internet through our portable hot spot.  The only problem is I can't find the power adapter for the speakers.  It may still be in the car somewhere.  I'll look tomorrow if I get a chance.  As Sister Shaw mentioned above, we have two days of missionary training starting tomorrow at 8AM.

It is hard to describe the feelings we have had as we attended the MTC and as we met the senior couples working in the mission office and then as we met with our mission president.  The Spirit is so incredibly strong; testifying that this is God's very work.  Seeing all of those young missionaries in the MTC reminded me of D&C 95:4 where the Lord refers to what He was going to do in our day as "my strange act."  What could be more strange than a church that sends out a bunch of teenagers to preach the gospel?  Maybe even more strange is the fact that they do it at their own expense!

Anyway, the gospel is true and we are completely enjoying this experience.

We love all of our children and our grandchildren and that includes Ron, Amy, Blair, Andrea, and Tyler.

Elder & Sister Shaw

P.S.  We have a washer and dryer in our apartment. Yea!!