Elder David Vogel
One Last One
This will most likely be my last email for a long time. My mother has made it clear that I am to continue writing letters to her at least once a month, most likely under penalty of death but that would only be if I was so lucky. When given the opportunity I wouldn’t like to put to the test what she could come up with.
I need to remember all the way back to last Tuesday about two thousand miles away now. We got up and headed off to Fish. They are getting close to having all of their Christmas stuff sold. So much so that they’ve been moving a lot of what's left to the middle store to sell it off when the Christmas section isn’t open. Along with moving the Christmas stuff out of the Christmas store we’re also moving the candy cane shop stuff in. Every time something new looking comes into FISH instead of it getting put out to be sold it gets set aside for the Candy Cane shop. Then around Christmas they invite low-income kids from the local schools to come pick out presents for their family. Everything is sorted into categories like, Adult Female, Adult Male, Adult, boy, girl,.. and so on. When the kids come in they’re able to say who they’re getting presents for and be directed to the correct section. According to Sister Cabe, there is no political correctness at FISH. Girls get dolls, boys get trucks, women get make-up and guys get guy stuff. Obviously those aren’t the only things we had but that’s the idea. We moved everything out in preparation for it on Saturday.
That evening we went over to see the Martinez family again. Elder Harrison previously served in a Spanish branch with Brother Martinez’s brother, Mojo, and they’d invited him over. So, we sat and chatted with him for a bit. There’s about 13 years between Brother Martinez and his Brother, so Mojo has only been off of his mission for about 3 years. We chatted with him about what he’s done since then and what we might do when we get back. As we were talking it came up that he’d gone on a date with one of the daughters of Brother Wilson (the first councilor in the bishopric). Nothing came from it, but it was still funny. Then they gave us sweet bread and Mexican hot chocolate. The sweet bread was good, and the hot chocolate tasted like hot chocolate so no complaints.
We had two other appointments that evening but both of them were canceled. Both because of people getting sick. More accurately Ashley’s daughter got Covid and Brenda went in for another round of chemo. So, one person getting sick another trying to get over the sickness. Normally someone’s kid getting sick wouldn’t stop us from meeting and just being cautious, but when you have a flight in a week that you really want to be on, you’re a little more worried, so we opted out. We thought we might be able to set up a lesson with Holly but it turns out that her son has Covid. So we probably wouldn’t see her in person again.
Wednesday was my last time at Agape and I wanted to make the most of it. So after stocking some shelves we did a good comb through the shelves to see if there was anything worth packing home. The answer was there was not. They were running a 75% off sale on everything, so the shelves were rather barren. Probably good that I didn’t grab anything else to drag home. Said goodbye to Paul and Brooke who run the Food Pantry and the non-profit store respectively. Asked them to not go too hard on the next Elders who came in. Paul laughed, Brooke just rolled her eyes.
Immediately after Agape we had a District council. The big reason for it was so we could have Elder Thatcher there. He was leaving Thursday morning to head to Argentina. Because it was so soon after service, we planned on doing it in non-pros. Or basically come as you are. Or that was what I was expecting. We had to stop at our apartment to pick up our scriptures, but Elder Harrison ran upstairs. I figured it was to use the bathroom, but he went and changed into his suit. I did not have time to do that so off to the District council we went.
Turns out I would have had time because the Tipp City Elders forgot we changed the time of the District council. So, we had to wait for them to show up. They were the only other Elders not in suits/dresses. Why dress, well it’s because the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders came. So, I lead the District council in jeans and a red t-shirt. For our Testimony meeting I’d asked everyone to give a scripture that they most like to share. And I did not share Proverbs 21:19. I was tempted, but I didn’t. It was a good meeting, but it felt a little strange. Like we just had a district council testimony meeting. There were only two District Councils since the last testimony meeting and now we’re just missing a few Elders.
After the council we had our lesson with Sister Hurt at the church. It was a lesson on all the things that she’d done while meeting with us and how she was going to continue with those things. She’s made a lot of progress in the last few months and I really don’t want all of that to go to waste. With the progress she has made, the support from Sister Walker, and the future support of the Sisters Cabe. I think she’ll be okay. She still really does want to meet with the Elders every week, so we have that set as a repeating event for the Elders.
Now for the strange part of the meeting. As it came up that we would be leaving soon it of course went to dating. Two things came up from this. The first was Sister Hurt saying that she really wanted to find a husband that was in the church. It’s good to have goals. I just wouldn’t think of that as a first goal. The second thing was from Sister Walker. Little context here, Sister Walker is at least 80 years old, widow, and just one of the sweetest little old ladies you could ever meet. Here is her dating advice to us.
“Make sure you find someone who doesn’t only have sex for reproduction.”
Could have said something about sharing values, or making sure it’s true love. I think it mostly just caught me off guard.
We were supposed to see Brenda in the evening but she was still recovering from the chemo. We shared a quick message over the phone and wished her a good night.
Thursday we tried her again but she still wasn’t feeling it. So instead we tried to meet with Hannah. She couldn’t meet in person but she was able to video call us. We read through the Sermon on the Mount and talked about prayer. She is very devout in her desire to do prayer but very stubborn in only doing the prayers that she has been taught. Some pastor told her once that every time you do a Hail Mary prayer it’s like slapping Satan in the face. While a very fun visual, not really true. We didn’t get into her quitting with the other prayers quite yet, but we invited her to say a personal prayer and pay attention to how she felt after. I don’t know how into it she actually feels but at least she said she would try.
We also then gained Elder Bishop into our companionship because Elder Thatcher flew off to Argentina. Back to a trio for about five days. And I got to go to an actual eye doctor. He gave me some fancy new drugs and said I should be well improved in just a few days.
We didn’t get to see Brenda but we still felt like we wanted to spend some time in a nursing home so we went over to Joe’s nursing home. He’s still a little off but we were able to teach him most of the restoration using the pamphlet so we had lots of pictures. We left him with the invitation to pray about what we read and hopefully he’ll be able to get an answer.
Friday was our last day at FISH. I did the same thing I did at Agape and combed the shelves for something worth taking home. I did find some good plates for my mother but those are a secret until further notice [Christmas]. In the end we said goodbye to everyone and headed home.
I’m going to skip some writing and say we reached out to Brenda everyday and every time she wasn’t up for it. Brother Wheeler did drop us off some dinner. It was like funeral potatoes but he’d put hamburgers in it. Full hamburger patties. It was really kinda strange, but not awful. Definitely needed some seasonings.
That evening Sister Cabe asked if we would be able to help decorate for the Ward Christmas party. That took just about two hours and a lot of candy canes. By the end it looked good but a little chaotic.
Saturday we went to the eye doctor and he said my eye was looking much better. Out of curiosity, I asked him how many of his appointments were regular check-ups -vs- infections/foreign objects. He said 9/10 were just routine check-ups. So, I guess I can say I am in the minority and I’m happy to make his day a little more interesting.
We ran to Fish to see if they were still running the candy cane shop but they apparently finished even earlier then they thought they would. So, we helped move some things back to the middle store, but overall were out of there pretty quick.
Sunday started out how you would expect, with church. Sister Hurt was at church again. It was good to see because she hasn’t come for about the last two months. Brother Wheeler still isn’t showing up and that’s frustrating after he was almost at two months of consistently coming.
Immediately after church was the ward Christmas Party. Seeing what we put up again makes me feel better about it because it looked better with all the people there and not like a complete explosion of candy canes and glitter. Lots of ham, lots of potatoes, and lots of green beans. Remember that for later. They ended the party singing Christmas carols with everyone and then we packed everything up to head home. Not before they handed us all the extra ham and potatoes.
That evening we headed over to the Russel’s. It was a bit of a surprise to me because we’d gotten a text saying that they weren’t feeding us that night. Turns out that didn’t mean don’t come over, it just meant they wouldn’t provide food. So, we headed over for a few hands of cards and some snacks before heading out.
Monday things started to get a little messy. It was a whirlwind of packing and cleaning. Not only did we need to clean our apartment, but we also needed to clean the other Elders apartment that they had left empty when Elder Thatcher left. I guess I did fail to point out, our area was going to become the new Zone Leader area for the New Dayton North Zone. Because of that, we needed to do a very thorough cleaning job.
Once everything was packed up, cleaning wasn’t too hard. Everything on the ground got thrown away and everything else got vacuumed or wiped. For dinner we had left over potatoes and ham. It was around 9:00pm, when I would normally remember to write my weekly letter, that I remembered that I needed to finish My Plan. My Plan is this program they have for missionaries going home to sort out things like school and dating for after the mission. I’d started it but I had definitely not finished. So around midnight I finally got to sleep.
Tuesday starts with us waiting for the Greenville Elders to get to our house. We have 2 cars and three elders. With 3 new Elders coming into the area, it would be easier for them to come up from transfers if they had both cars. They get there late so we throw everything in and go. We arrive at transfer and say goodbye to a few of the Elders I knew. Gave Elder Flamm back his scale, but it was a good thing he left it. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to weigh our luggage.
Eventually they kick out all the other missionaries and everyone going home files into the church building. They put us sitting in the relief society room with a T.V. and we think they’ve got a video for us but no, we just wait. Eventually someone starts playing hangman and everyone gets super into it. Then the President walks in and tells us lunch is ready. No complaints there. After lunch we headed towards the mission home just long enough to drop our stuff and headed into Cincinnati. They gave us a quick tour of the famous bridge. Or as I like to say it, we walked on a bridge. Then we headed to Jungle Jim's. Really they just had a bunch of extra time and it was a good way to entertain some missionaries for a few hours.
Then it was back to the mission home for a very lovely dinner of potatoes, ham, and green beans. Don’t tell Sidney ward but the mission home's tasted better. We ended the night playing some cards with the other Elders. We were pretty tame playing cards at the kitchen table. The Sisters in the basement on the other hand were having some sort of party. Lots of screaming. The Elders all went to bed by 11:30, I don’t know about the Sisters.
Wednesday morning, we got up and were at the airport by 7:30 with half a bagel for breakfast. Flew from Cincinnati to Salt Lake City sitting next to Sister Sparks. She’s a bit wild. She was originally called to Ukraine so she speaks Russian. We chatted for a good bit of the flight. She has a boyfriend that gets home the day after us and then they have a date on Friday. She also wants to become a profiler and get kidnapped by sex traffickers to help take them down. A very brave thing to want to do, and also very necessary work. Still think it’s wild that it’s something she already wants to actively do.
When we landed we sat on the tarmac for about an hour because of the big storm that went through Salt Lake. Once we got inside, I just did a few walking laps around the terminal and I went right on the plane. Sat next to some members who were heading to Vegas for the weekend. We chatted for a bit but it wasn’t a very long flight. Once we landed, I headed to baggage claim and there were my parents waiting for me. I’m not saying I was worried but there’s always that concern in the back of your head that they may have forgotten. We did stop at In-and-Out for a burger. Then we drove towards Mesquite and called President Anderson from the Mesa [about 10 minutes out of town]. Got released at about 3:00. Spent some time at home then went to the Family History center to check in with my parents. Turns out our ward Christmas party was that night, so we grabbed a few dinners to go and opened them up back at the Family history center. And there they were, the potatoes, the ham, and the green beans.
I don’t have much for final thoughts because if you’re reading this you’ve probably read most of the interesting things that I had to say. I love you all,
The Man formerly known as Elder Vogel.