Saturday, June 16, 2018

Final Zone Conferences of our Mission!

Well, on Thursday and Friday we held the final zone conferences of our mission.  It was a tender time.  Because of the 5 week transfer we have, we didn't have enough days to do full zone conferences, so we held two each day for 3 hours each.  On Thursday we held two in Calgary and on Friday we held two in Lethbridge.  They were wonderful, and there was a great spirit there as we discussed what we have learned from President Nelson since he has become the prophet.  The missionaries have all felt he is asking us all to 'rise up' and they love his enthusiasm and faith.  They all feel more committed to stay on the covenant path as he has asked us to do, and are so inspired by him.
We also had the missionaries break into groups and answer the question, "Why do we strive to be exactly obedient?"  It was a fantastic discussion afterwards as they shared scriptures about how we are blessed because of our obedience.  They also came to realize that as we choose to be more obedient we are fighting off the natural man and becoming more like Christ.  It is also one more way to show our level of conversion, and to live a more consecrated life.  They began to really realize that as we keep the commandments and the rules of the missionary handbook, we are allowing the Lord to bless us more.  It was such a great discussion.  I love the insights the missionaries always have to share.
We also spoke to them about the transition in 2 weeks when President and Sister Keung arrive to lead this great mission, and reassured them of our witness that they have been called of God at this time.  I know some of them have a little anxiety about it, but many said they have just had a peaceful feeling that it will be good, for which I am so thankful!  I know the Keung's will be such a blessing and I am excited for them to come have this experience and serve with these amazing missionaries.
Steve and I each took a little time to just share with them some things from our heart, and then we had a testimony meeting which is always powerful!  I wish everyone could hear a missionary testimony meeting.  There is such a strong spirit there.  And I love seeing missionaries grow in their faith and testimony.  We had some share their testimonies who when they first came out were so shy and nervous, and to see them stand and boldly declare what they know is quite a miracle!  That is truly one of the coolest parts about our calling!
We are so grateful for this experience and privilege to lead these missionaries and be part of this great work.  It is a time we will always cherish!
Our Bow River, Confederation Park, Fish Creek and Foothill Zones

Missionaries signing my tablecloth!

Sister Ziegner bought me German chocolate!

Our 2 elders from Spain-Elders Isern and DelMolino

Our Calgary, Calgary North, and Calgary West Zones

Our Lethbridge East, Medicine Hat, and British Columbia Zones

Our Lethbridge and Cardston Zones

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Visit from the Prophet!

Pictures with the Medicine Hat zone at their meeting on Monday!

They wanted a selfie picture!  Love them!
Well, it was quite an incredible weekend.  First off we participated in the Taber Stake Conference with President Baldry, the stake president, and Elder Thomas Priday of the Seventy.  We stayed with the Baldry's at their home Saturday evening, and they, as always, are so gracious and good to us!  They save their 'special' room downstairs for us and even leave us chocolates!  They are too good to us and we have grown to love them so much.  One of the greatest blessings of this mission has been the friendships we have developed with the stake presidents and their wives.  They are such good people, all of them, and we are so grateful for their support in this missionary work.  After the conference we were invited back to their home for a yummy lunch before we needed to leave for Raymond to see the prophet.
In Raymond we were invited to participate in the dinner with the prophet prior to the devotional.  It was held in an upstairs room (this is a pretty unique building!).  All of the tables were decorated by the cute little Achievement Day girls, and they left little messages for the prophet which were so cute.
Sister Nelson took him around and introduced him to all of her extended family and close friends that were invited to the dinner.  When it was our turn, we not only got a handshake, but a hug from the prophet!  He held both of my hands in his and asked how I was doing, to which I replied, "So good!"
How can you not be good when the prophet has just embraced you and is tenderly holding your hands? It was quite a special experience!
We were also able to shake Elder and Sister Rasband's hands and they thanked us for our service, and wished us luck as we return home.
The devotional was amazing-to hear from both Sister Rasband and Sister Nelson and Elder Rasband and then the prophet!  We were able to sit right behind them all, and it was just so special to be in their presence.  I just kept looking at President Nelson and thinking to myself, "I'm sitting right here by the prophet!"  It was a sweet experience to have close to the end of our mission.
I have such a testimony of a living prophet, and since President Nelson was called my testimony of them has grown even more.  He is truly leading us to do the things the Lord wants us to do.  I sustain him with all my heart, and hope I can always be found following the prophet.
Fun visit from one of our returned missionaries- Lydia Williams and her family!

This sign was on our door at  the Baldry's!

Elder Priday, President and Sister Baldry, and us, at the Baldry's home.

The room where we had dinner with the prophet.

The Raymond Stake Relief Society President presenting Sister Nelson with a quilt from all the sisters in Raymond.  President Nelson is looking on.

One of the centerpieces made by primary girls!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Interviews and our last MLC!

This last week we began our final round of interviews with our missionaries and also held our last Mission Leadership Council.  It really is an unusual feeling to be doing things for the last time.  We will be very busy up until the day we leave, but knowing that each time we interview a zone of missionaries it is our last time to do it is bittersweet.  We never anticipated the love we would feel for our missionaries, and how deeply we would care for them--so it is a tender time to know we will be leaving them.  But, we also know that the Keung's are called of the Lord and will bless this mission immensely!  From the first time we skyped with them, the spirit confirmed to me that they are the ones to take this mission to new heights.  It took all of 30 seconds to love them!  So, we know our missionaries will be in good hands, and we are excited to see what happens.
We left Calgary on Tuesday evening and met with President and Sister Lybbert of the Cardston Stake on Tuesday evening.  We have so loved the friendships we have formed here on our mission-what a blessing!  Then on Wednesday we had a great MLC with our zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  I just love this meeting!  I love the faith and excitement and dedication and hard work of these great missionaries.  They are inspiring!  Following our MLC we drove to Glenwood so Steve could do an interview of a baptismal candidate, and I was able to sit in on the baptismal interview of her 9 year old daughter, Alyssa.  It was the sweetest experience to hear this cute little girl talk about Jesus, and repentance, and be so excited to get baptized!  After her interview, she demonstrated 'the flosser' for me!  Which is a new dance I didn't know much about, except that my 8 year old grandson has been doing it!  It gave me a real laugh!
On Thursday through Saturday we did interviews with our Lethbridge, Lethbridge East and Cardston zones, and after interviews on Saturday we drove to Magrath to participate in the Stake Conference there with Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy.  He is such a humble, kind person.  We have been with him in another conference in Calgary and enjoyed that one so much.  He is quite spontaneous though--and we thought we weren't participating in any of the meetings except Sunday morning.  But he asked us to speak in the Saturday afternoon leadership session, and then again on Saturday evening.  So, we spoke in all three sessions, only one of which we were prepared for.  But, it was a wonderful conference in Magrath, and we were grateful to be there with President Maxwell.  We have really come to love all of these stake presidents, and we will miss them!  But, they all come to Utah occasionally, and we will be able to go back to see them, so our friendships will be able to continue, for which we are grateful!
After the Magrath conference we drove to Medicine Hat and were invited for dinner by President and Sister Salmon, who we have also grown to love.  We had a wonderful visit with them before heading back to our hotel room.  Tomorrow we will do interviews in Medicine Hat and be there for their district meeting and will arrive back in Calgary tomorrow night.  So, it's been a six day road trip!  We laugh because we basically go from hotel to hotel to our 'home hotel' in Calgary!
This week we will do 4 days of interviews and on Saturday will drive to Taber to participate in their Stake Conference, and then to Raymond for the visit from the prophet!  Yes, the prophet is coming to Alberta!  We can't wait!  He and Sister Nelson and Elder and Sister Rasband will be in Calgary on Saturday evening, and then on Raymond on Sunday evening.  We are just so excited for him to come!
What a thrill it will be.  I am so grateful for a living prophet here on the earth.  Our lives have been so blessed by following the counsel of the prophets.  I am so grateful for the direction they give us, which I know is from the Lord, to assist us as we meet life's challenges and just navigate through this mortal existence.  Having a prophet to lead and guide us is a manifestation of the Lord's love for us--that He doesn't leave us alone, but gives us someone to lead us!
Our Mission Leadership Council!

Sisters Fonda, Bodily & Perez with Alyssa who got baptized!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Another great transfer week!

As always we had another great transfer week!  We sent 5 wonderful elders home to their families, and welcomed 13 missionaries from 8 different countries-Finland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Cook Islands, Japan, and the United States!  It was our most diverse group yet and so fun to have them here!
 We had a wonderful temple session with our 5 departing elders on Tuesday evening as well as a special testimony meeting.  I always love hearing their final testimonies as missionaries in the field.  It is so powerful.  It is quite remarkable to see their growth over the two years they have been here--nothing short of a miracle, really.  We always pray that their faith will continue to remain strong as they go home and start their new era of life!
We went to the airport a total of 4 times on Wednesday getting missionaries to and from the airport!  Well, Steve went 4, and I went 2!  He took two elders out that had to go really early--he got up at 3:30 for that.  And we picked up our last little sister at about 11:30 Wednesday evening--so by the time we got home, it was 12:30 a.m.  We climbed into bed about 1:00 a.m. and were up again at 6:00 to be ready for our training meeting with our new missionaries.  It is always so fun to get these new missionaries straight from the MTC!  I love their enthusiasm and excitement and faith.
Thursday they all met their new trainers and went to their areas, and the rest of our missionaries being transferred all met their new companions and went to their new areas.  Transfers are such a great thing--it's a new beginning every 6 weeks!  A time to recommit, re-evaluate, and rededicate themselves to the work.  Sometimes there is some anxiety that comes with transfers and I always share this quote with our missionaries:  'Stop being afraid of what can go wrong, and start getting excited about what can go right!'  I always tell them that this might be their best companionship yet, their best area yet, and the best part of their mission--so be optimistic and hopeful and happy!
The past 3 Sundays we have actually been able to be in a sacrament meeting!  I have truly come to love being able to partake of the sacrament, because there are times when we will go 4 weeks without being able to.  I look forward to being able to renew my covenants.  Our next 4 weeks will all be stake conferences, so the next time I am able to partake of the sacrament is when I am home--that is a weird thought!  But, I have come to love this gift the Savior instituted to help us always remember Him.  I love Him.
At the temple with our 5 departing elders!
Elders MacJanet, Zolman, Reed, Pugmire & Paletua

We piled 5 elders and some big pieces of luggage into our car to get them to the hotel!

Elders Grinwis, Chapman & Grider-enjoying Chick-fil-A while waiting for new missionaries to arrive!

Elder Grider (our new assistant), Elder Grinwis (our assistant who is going back into the field)

Our brand new missionaries from the MTC!

Sister Ichimi who arrived late Wednesday night.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hotel Living, Preparing for Transfers!

Well, we are officially living in a hotel as of Tuesday evening!  For the past month while the top floor of the mission home has been under renovation we have been living in the basement, which has worked out ok.  We still had access to the kitchen, but everything in it was full of sheetrock dust and sawdust from all the work; even though it was 'shielded' with a plastic tarp.   Then the decision was made to also tear up the floor in the kitchen and redo it with the same hardwood floor going throughout the rest of the main floor--so this brought on a little bit of a problem, being that we would not really be able to be in there, and it was so dirty, you wouldn't want to be in there!  This, compounded with the extreme noise from the hammering and sawing was making it not real conducive to studying and working.  So, on Tuesday night we moved into a Marriott Residence Inn for the next 30 days until construction is complete.  We are in a little one bedroom suite with a kitchenette, and it has a little desk area we can work at, and it's clean and quiet.  So, we are good!
We can still go to the mission home in the evenings to use our computer and printer there when we need to, so it will all work out.
This past week has been a good one--we've been preparing for our transfer week this week, so we did the interviews with the 5 departing elders that will be leaving us on Wednesday.  The missionaries always enjoy this last, longer interview with Steve.
On Friday we also held our 'New Trainer's' Meeting, with the 13 missionaries that will be training the 13 new ones coming on Wednesday.  This was a great meeting, and we are so excited for these trainers.  We think they will be just fantastic, and will teach and help these new missionaries as they come into the field.  We also called a new assistant, Elder Grider, as Elder Grinwis will be going back out to be a 'regular' missionary for his last transfer.  We have been so grateful for his service and diligence and example.  And we are excited to have Elder Grider on board with Elder Chapman.  They will play key roles as they help with the transition to a new mission president.  We know they will be great, and will be just what is needed for President and Sister Keung when they arrive.
Friday evening we had a fun visit with Evan and Kathy Thorley who served here in our office for 18 months.  They completed their mission last summer, and had come back up to visit.  It was great to see them, and I realized after they had gone, I had forgotten to get a picture with them!
Saturday we also had a visit from one of our returned missionaries, Charlotte Romney and her dad.  That was also fun, and especially to know that she and another one of our returned missionaries, Creig Jewkes, had just gotten engaged!  It has been really fun to see the weddings that have come from our mission!  What better place to meet your spouse?
We are enjoying beautiful weather and love every minute of it!  This week it could actually hit 29 celsius--which is HOT!  About 88 Fahrenheit!  That is considered high in the middle of summer!
Our missionaries are really liking it.  This past winter was so brutal, and long and cold, and the snow just kept coming.  So, no one is complaining at all about what we have now.
Today we attended the Spanish ward and enjoyed that.  It was nice to be able to partake of the sacrament again.  We will have one more week to be able to be in a sacrament meeting and then we have 4 stake conferences in a row--so I cherish the time I am able to take the sacrament.  I have come to love and appreciate it more on our mission because we haven't been able to take it on a regular basis.  It is so nice each week to recommit, and to reflect on what the Savior's atoning sacrifice means for me personally, and to just feel the power of it.  
We are looking forward to this next week and welcoming our new missionaries into the great Canada Calgary Mission!  It is always a fun week!
Our new home!

Our 'New Trainer's' Meeting! They will be great trainers!

Visit from Charlotte Romney!  Love these returned missionaries!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Spring is here!

Today we had almost 80 degree weather--it is wonderful!  Our missionaries are in such good spirits because of it!  We were able to attend a great district meeting this morning with the Heritage District in the Calgary zone, and they all remarked on how great it is to have nice weather!  We love going to district meetings--our district leaders are doing such a nice job leading their districts, and in today's meeting everyone in the district had the chance to participate in some way, and they all were so good.
We are training in district meetings on Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel on Helping People Make and Keep Commitments.  This is such an important part of helping investigators progress; and so we really need to focus on what commitments we will extend to them, like reading the Book of Mormon, or praying; and then we need to do all we can to help them actually do it.  As they do, the spirit comes into their lives, and their hearts begin to change.
We were able to complete all of our interviews for the transfer last week.  We traveled from BC in the west to Medicine Hat in the east!  A lot of miles were put on our car!  Steve was able to go out teaching with Elders Grider and Wolfe in Medicine Hat and they had a great night out teaching.  And we were actually able to drive to Brooks on Highway 1 with no incidents!  Highway 1 has been our nemesis this past winter!
On Friday we had a great Retrainer's meeting with our new missionaries that arrived a month ago and their trainers.  We had a lot of discussion and focused in Preach My Gospel for our answers.  We always love this meeting and to see how much the new missionaries have grown in such a short time!
Saturday we were able to attend the baptism of Jessica McGaughey which was really sweet.  She has some physical challenges and it was really tender to see her enter the waters of baptism, and to see her excitement and joy.  Her non-member parents were there, as well as many friends, and they were all touched during the service.  We were able to visit with them afterwards, and they were all proud of her.
After her service we drove 1 1/2 hours to Fort Macleod so Steve could speak for a few minutes at a Missionary Youth Conference.  They had combined with the Cranbrook stake and had our missionaries help teach the youth how to teach lessons, and role-play, do p-day activities, service, and other things missionaries do.  It was fun to go down and eat dinner with them and see them.  We drove back that evening and crashed!
Mother's Day was a great day--we were able to actually attend a sacrament meeting!  We miss so many sacrament meetings because of Stake Conferences, that I really miss them.  And so, we really look forward to Sundays when we can attend a sacrament meeting.  I've grown to love the sacrament more than ever on our mission, and taking that time to reflect on the Savior and renew my covenants.
It was also great to FaceTime with all of our children and grandchildren!!!  We miss them like crazy and love to talk with them.  They are really beginning to count the days until we come home.
This week we are preparing for transfers next week.  So, we have lots to do!
Elders Wolfe and Grider--they had a great time teaching with Steve in Medicine Hat

Retrainers Meeting! All the new missionaries with their trainers!

Mother's Day Flowers from our kids!

Elders Crockett & Vance at interviews-they came from doing service!

Sisters Bailey & Romo with Jessica at her baptism

The Fort Macleod & Cranbrook Youth at their Missionary Youth Conference

Elders Williams, Fish, Horne, Bailey, Sisters Follett & Fetters at district meeting!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Pics from last zone conference!

Just had to add a few pictures from our final zone conference on Friday that was held in Raymond.  We haven't had one in Raymond for a long time, so it was fun to be back there; and wow, did they spoil us with their beautiful buffet!  All of the breads were homemade!  The missionaries ate just about every thing on that table!
After the zone conference we went back to Lethbridge for the night, and then the next morning we completed the interviews with our Cardston zone by doing interviews in Raymond, Magrath and Cardston.  Following that we drove back to Lethbridge to participate in the leadership meeting of the Lethbridge North Stake Conference with Elder Donald L. Hallstrom as the visiting General Authority.  It was a great stake conference with a wonderful spirit!  When it was over on Sunday we drove to Cranbrook, BC, to do interviews there.  And we are now having beautiful weather!  Driving to Cranbrook it was 25 celsius, which is about 80 Fahrenheit!  Spring is definitely here and we are loving it!
The incredible buffet from the Raymond Relief Society!

Our cute sisters ready to dig in!

Elders Allred, Ward, Snyder & Ellefson-celebrating birthdays!