We have been assigned to Zone 1, a.k.a. the Paterson Zone. The zone leaders are Elder Cuevas from East Los Angeles and Elder Leon from Honduras. They are fine young men that will make great sons-in-law for some lucky parents someday. For now, they are great missionaries. One thing I noticed about Elder Cuevas right away is that he is huge! Okay, I know what you are thinking which is, "Come on Elder Shaw, to you and Mark Fuller everyone is huge." No! On any absolute scale, Elder Cuevas is huge. Take a look at the photo below. What do you think?
Anyway, the first time we met him he gave me a big hug. At first I was a little concerned that I might suffocate but then I felt the genuine love he had for us and I felt the same for him. Why is that? How is it possible that two complete strangers can so immediately feel affection for each other? The answer is, of course, that we both know that we are sons of God and that we are together on His errand. No matter what our backgrounds, we know that we share the same values. We know that we are brothers!
The other day as I was reviewing our duties in the zone it suddenly dawned on me that what we really are is substitute grandparents for our 20 missionaries. I loved that thought! We know how to do grandpa and grandma. We went to the store and stocked up on baking supplies. Last week it was applesauce cookies for the zone and this week it will be Rice Krispies Treats. And, we took brownies when we inspected two missionary apartments. We think the message was clear: Keep your apartment clean and tidy and there will be more.
Last Tuesday we went to our first "Transfer Conference" which was held at the Morristown building. All missionaries who are being transferred gather in the chapel from all over the mission. New missionaries who have just arrived the day before are introduced and missionaries who will be leaving for home the next day are each asked to bear their testimonies. There were three returning home, plus a senior couple. After remarks by Sister Jeppson (mission president's wife) and President Jeppson it gets a little noisy as transfers are announced. Following a closing song and prayer everyone moved to the cultural hall where we sang the mission song and then there was a lot of hugging and tears as goodbyes were said and new companionships formed. Of course there were cookies supplied by us "grandparents." By that I mean each senior couple supplied three dozen cookies! That is a lot of cookies. They were gone in a flash!
Next, everything moved out to the parking lot where total chaos reigned as luggage was moved from one car to another. The Lord said it would be a strange act (D&C 95:4 and D&C 101:95)
Elders Shaw, Cuevas, Leon, and Sister Shaw.
Above and below: Singing the mission song.
Elder Fullmer, Sister Shaw, and Sister Fullmer.
Below: Chaos in the parking lot.