Hello my Family!
Well there goes another week, and this one flew by. At the end of transfer week my head always feels heavy and my eyelids have a tendency to droop, but fortunately it's a lot of fun as well.
On Monday we had 13 new missionaries fly in. Twelve of them were coming straight from the MTC, but we had one missionary flying in from Canada. Elder Moffett and I got to the airport before President, and found out that the flight from Canada had gotten there early. Meaning chances were good that there was a new missionary wandering the airport by himself. We called President and then hopped on the escalator to go down to the luggage collection area. Sure enough we found where his bags were being unloaded, but no missionary. Starting to get a little anxious at this point, we decided to head back to his arrival gate. While we were walking back, I looked up and caught a glimpse of a suit, tie and little black badge, as our first new missionary came down on the escalator. Fortunately the rest of arrivals went smoothly. We had 10 English elders, 1 Spanish elder, an English sister, and 2 Spanish sisters. It's always really exciting to see new missionaries. They're so pumped to be here, and the feeling is contagious. After quick introduction we loaded all of their bags into a Uhaul trailer and then headed to the mission home. There we ate dinner together and then had some short trainings. Sister Summerhays covered health, and while President interviewed them one at a time Elder Moffett and I got to tell them about the mission. We talked about the culture of the mission, and how obedience and love were a way of life here. Following the discussion we went in a circle and everyone had the opportunity to bear their testimony. It was amazing to hear all of their different backgrounds, and yet they all had the same purpose: share the message of the restored gospel. I feel like so many of them are way ahead of where I was when I got here. I can still remember my first night in the mission so vividly, and feeling completely out of my element. Many of the missionaries in this group were confident and ready to hit the ground running. It'll be fun to see how they continue to grow. Well after their interviews, and asking us any questions that crossed their minds, they all got ready for bed. Once President finished his last interview we headed into his office. Throughout the night he made notes on a card about the missionaries and we did the same thing. Following a prayer, we try and figure which trainer the Lord would want us to put with each trainee. It's always amazing for me to see how things just fit together. Before we even meet these new missionaries the Lord knows who their trainer will be, and that became so evident once we finished and looked at the results. All the combinations seemed to match up perfectly. At this point it was about 11, so we said a closing prayer and headed back to our apartment to grab some sleep.
Tuesday of transfer week generally feels like organized chaos. After waking up and getting ready we headed over to President's home to load up all the luggage for the new missionaries. President was finalizing some training with them, and they all looked bright and ready. They all loaded up and we headed over to the Carrollwood church building (it's the closest one to the mission office). Lots of missionaries use it as a meeting point when they're getting transferred from one area to another, so from morning to early afternoon it's crawling with missionaries. We showed up there around 10 and got all the trainers into a meeting with President, and the trainees went in to a short meeting with the office couples where they cover car usage, credit cards, apartments, etc. During that time we got to talk with missionaries at the building, which was pretty fun. I'm starting to feel like I've known some of these people forever. After about an hour, the trainees were done and we guided them into the chapel. They all sat really close to each other on the first two rows, and there was definitely a feeling of nervousness in the air. After about ten minutes President finished up with the trainers, and they all filed into the pews a few back from the new missionaries. I love watching their faces as they all turn around and scan each face, trying to figure out which one they're going to be serving with. I was conducting, so after that I got up and welcomed everyone to the meeting. Following the opening prayer and song, it was time for me to announce the companionships. I pulled the card out of my pocket that had all the combinations written down, and started at the top. I had the first trainer come up in front of the stand, say her name, where she was from, what area she was currently serving in, and who her was her favorite character from the Book of Mormon or Bible. Then I announced the name of the trainee, and she came up and they hugged, and then answered most of the same questions, and then they went and sat down together. This same thing happened as I went down my card and placed the companionships together. Well this is where the story gets a little embarrassing....I decided to change up the order I was reading the card in for some reason, and skipped farther down on the list. I announced "Elder Heath!", and he came up and introduced himself. He's a really animated and outgoing missionary that everyone likes. After his intro I said, "Thank you Elder Heath. You will be training.....Elder Redd!". Elder Redd jumped up immediately and came to the front, and he and Elder Heath gave each other a huge hug. I heard some whispering going on behind me, but decided to just tune it out. Elder Redd started introducing himself and while I was trying to listen I heard "Elder Bartschi! Elder Bartschi!" being whispered urgently behind me. I turned me head and saw Elder Moffett with a worried look on his face. "What??", I responded. "You read the wrong name!", he responded. My eyes got really big and I immediately scanned the card....he was right, I had announced the wrong trainee. I looked over and Elder Heath had his arm around Elder Redd's shoulders as he was finishing his 'get to know you' questions. "So.....", I said into the microphone as all the missionaries looked up, "I lied". Everyone in the chapel burst out in shocked laughter as the two of them just looked at me with looks of disbelief. "I can't believe it, but I read the wrong trainee name." I admitted, as the laughter continued to roll, and this time I couldn't help but join in. I felt so dumb, but they all took it really well. President thought it was hilarious, and as Elder Redd returned to his seat Elder Heath let me know that I would never make it up to him. I was teased plenty as I read off the RIGHT name this time, and as I finished announcing the companionships. Haha it wasn't the most reverent meeting I've ever attended, but it made for a funny transition for the new missionaries into the mission.
Now I'll give you an update on Michelle. We had a lesson with her this morning, and it went extremely well. She had read the scriptures that we had left with her, and she had prayed. She recognized the added peace that was coming into her life, and let us know that she was taking that as an answer that what we were teaching is true. It's almost hard to believe how some people are just ready. Plain and simply, she has been prepared to learn about the gospel. It's in situations like this that I know I'm just acting as a guide on her journey into the church. Michelle was going to learn about it one way or another, I just feel blessed to be apart of it. She is still set for her baptism on January 1st, and let us know that she got off work for that day.
Well I love you all! Have a great week, and good luck with basketball games and finals!
Elder Kade Bartschi
Dear Sisters and Elders,
I love each one of you. Almost all of you are inspired in your daily service. You are giving Christ the best present ever-your hearts and your time. . We are so blessed to be serving Him in this sacred way. Giving our time in the service of others is pleasing to God and doing so draws us nearer to Him. Brigham Young taught, “We are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage and he will require of us a strict account of its disposition.”
It has been said that missionaries are like wise men of old who travel afar bearing gifts. And they find that when they’re miles away from friends and family at Christmas, they grow closer to Heavenly Father and catch a glimpse of their celestial home. Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights burning brightly for others to see and follow. We must use this precious time wisely. Elder Arden in our last conference reminds us that the poor use of time is a close cousin of idleness. As we follow the command to ‘cease to be idle’ we must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive. That is why we use our time wisely by setting goals and planning. Then we find, teach and baptize. It is our gift to Him.
Life is not perfect. It’s cut through with unexpected pain and hardships and trials tearing down our expectations and hopes. But because of the miraculous birth, life, and Atonement of Jesus Christ, because of His empathy, His mercy, and His triumph over death, life can still be beautiful. In His perfection, He was crucified. In His perfection, He lives. Through His perfect love, though we are not perfect, we can live too. With hope. We get to share this message. As you find new investigators try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for what you have to offer. To have the peace the Savior speaks of, we must devote our time to the things that matter most, and the things of God matter most.
You are becoming remarkable men and women who will meet the opportunities and challenges of your mission and your future lives. You are becoming remarkable men and women who are learning to manage time wisely. You are giving Him the gift of your time with all of your hearts. I have confidence that what you are doing is pleasing to God. I love you and believe in you.President Summerhays