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Excerpts from Mike's Letter Home:


Dear Family,

This week we had some more car trouble, believe it or not. We received a letter from Ford about some recall information. You would expect such a letter to begin "Because we care about your safety...", but not, it began with something like "This letter is being sent to you in accordance with National Transportation Safety Act." It then went on, "We have decided that there is a potential safety issue with your vehicle." The letter went on to explain that the torque on the pinch bolt for the steering column may be too loose. This problem leads to shaking and vibration in the steering column. Additionally, it said "This issue may lead to a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a collision." This simple cause and effect seems like a "No, duh!" statement. As you can tell, the document was worded very carefully to avoid as much liability as possible. There was another issue with prematurely worn wheel bearings that was mentioned in the letter. The mission office told us not to delay these important maintenance procedures. So, we called the Ford dealer and scheduled an appointment for the next day.

We arrived and were told that the wheel bearings would have to wait, because the parts were on backorder. They told us that the other repair should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Knowing this was a car dealership, we did not ask about our car until 2 1/2 hours later. We then were told it was done and went to fill out the paperwork. Elder Sorenson signed it, as the cashier put on a sticker stating, "You might be receiving a customer satisfaction survey from Ford. If you cannot rate us as excellent, contact the service manager immediately." Elder Sorenson and I looked at each other, thinking that the extra time waiting was expected by both of us, so no problem.

Elder Sorenson asked for the keys, and they said that they were in the ignition outside. We went out and them came back in to tell them that our car was not out there. They quickly responded "Oh it's probably out back. We'll bring it around." So, we stood patiently by the door waiting for our car. We were approached by a higher up from the service department, who said "Gentlemen, we have a problem with your car." Racing through my mind was 1) Did they hit something as they were bringing it around? 2) Did they improperly adjust the torque, causing a loss of steering control and consequently a collision? or 3) Was it sitting outside so long with the keys in it that it was stolen?

After a brief pause, it was explained, "Your car is on the way to Red Oak, OK. We have no way of contacting the driver and he does not have a cell phone." Then came the obvious, "We took the wrong car by mistake." They then dispatched a guy with the car that was supposed to be going to a lady in Red Oak. We then sat down and waited for our car. When it returned, they told us it was there and to go ahead and leave. We insisted that they write us a note stating what had happened because they had used 54 of our 1200 miles per month. After some hesitation (perhaps because the service center does not have a legal department), they wrote us a note and gave us a purchase order to refill our gas tank. A nice gesture, considering our tank was less than half full when we brought it in. So, our 1 - 1 1/2 hour service took us only 4 hours. Amazing!

Luckily, we were not sitting in the dealership bored the entire time. We were sitting there when one of the salesman walked up and said "Elders." Come to find out he is from Dillon Montana. He joined the Church about a year ago with his wife. He used to live in Poteau and moved back to Hodgen since he and his wife have separated. His wife lives in Poteau. We had a nice conversation with him. He said he wanted help to quit smoking and that he wanted to start coming back to church. We learned after much discussion that it seems like a wise idea to buy a car in Oklahoma and drive it home, if one has the time. It appears that it is much cheaper out here.

We had our interviews with President Peterson this week. It was nice. This one did not seem like the "standard" interview as my previous ones have. Which usually is a sign that the President trusts the missionary somewhat more. It went well, and motivated Elder Sorenson to work harder in his last 8 weeks. Due to President's comments, Elder Sorenson and I both feel that it is unlikely that either of us will be transferred on March 7th. So, that possibility is rather low right now. Also of interest, President passed out a "What to do in a Tornado" information sheet, so that time of year is approaching.

On a sadder note, our Branch Mission Leader will be moving within the next month. He is going to Durant, OK. This is sad to us because he is a great help. Also, with the Branch size, we wonder if we will get a good replacement. Most of the great people in the Branch are already bogged down with callings. Oh well, we shall see what happens.

The good news of the week is that we have finished teaching the sixth discussion to two of our investigators. They will probably be baptized in May, while visiting relatives in New Mexico. So, that is some good news.

Dad mentioned a consolidation at work as well as low morale. That is sad, but probably expected in today's world. Just remember, if you do decided to retire...I would like some new software from Microsoft before you leave. I do not desire to be really outdated software when I return from my mission. I am sorry that I am a little bit selfish when it comes to computers. Either way, good luck mom and dad in the working world!

Mom asked about gas prices here. Your $1.90 a gallon does not sound good. Here it is about a $1.51. The prices rose quickly enough that one of the stations out here had a sign that read "Sorry for the inconvenience." I was hoping to get a picture by a sign that was less than a dollar, but the lowest I saw was $1.10, before the prices went up. Either way, the prices don't effect us. The mission pays for all of our gas. Though, since they limit our miles, it is not like we go on a gas spending spree.

The fact that you had a member of the Seventies at Ward Conference is awesome. It is interesting that he is the father of someone in the Ward. I guess you learn something new everyday. Also, I am glad that they got my name right.

Also, you mentioned that you have not gotten any pictures recently. I believe that the cause of that might be that I haven't sent any. Though, I sent some today, so you should have received some by the time you receive this letter. Luckily, we have done a little cleaning so the next roll I send home will have some pictures of the apartment. Hopefully, you will enjoy the new pictures. I wonder what is on the roll that I sent home. So, let me know once they are developed.

One interesting thing I have seen out here is a bumper sticker on a truck. It said "Driver carries less than $20 in ammo." Interestingly enough, the truck had Texas license plates.

Also of interest is that we are teaching the President of the Women's Democrat Association for the county. She was telling us about how had been going door to door, which we could relate to for obvious reasons. She went on to tell us that at one door a lady said to her, " I read the Bible and a God says vote Republican!" The door was then slammed shut. Personally, I am no Bible scholar. But from all my studies, I have not found that one in there. Though, there are Publicans. However, Publican and Republican seem to be very different. So, it just goes to prove that a lot of people read what they want into the scriptures.

Also, thank you very much for the care package. The CDs are excellent. The AGO CD should tide me over quite well, while I wait for a home organ CD. The living scriptures CDs are wonderful, Thank You very much! The ramen was interesting. We normally don't buy the expensive kind. The Great Value brand is slightly cheaper. It is nice to have the good stuff for a change. Thank you Dad for standing in line to send me the package. I always enjoy the packages!

I tore one of the pairs of my suit pants. The tailor said that it would probably tear right away again. So you might send me one of the pairs that you have for me at home. Though, this Saturday is the last day that we have to wear our suits everyday. So, that should extend my suit's life. But, since the temperatures are in the low 20's and it is snowing, we might continue to wear our suits a little longer to stay warm.

Due to the snow, Elder Sorenson lost control of the car for a few seconds. This resulted in a tire hitting a curb at slow speed. He said that he will have to take turns at even slower speeds. There does not appear to be damage to the car, luckily.

Also of note, I received a letter from Elder Dan Czech this week. He is doing well and finding success. He got to return to his old area and baptize one of his old contacts (something our mission president would not allow.) So, it was good to hear from him.

Take care. I miss you all. May God be with you.

Elder Mike Robinson

P.S. Happy Ozone (O3) Day. 03/03/03 (O3/O3/O 3)