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.
Our storage is in the garage and the large room behind the garage. Missionary apartment is next floor up.
To the left of storage.
To the left of Katherine's apartment.