Monday, September 25, 2017

Crazy, busy schedule!

With transfers over we started right into interviews!  Usually we have a day or two before they begin, but because this is a 5 week transfer we have to squish 6 weeks of activities into 5, and let me tell you, it has made us crazily busy!  We have done interviews even on P-day night, which is a first!
We also had our Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday, which is always a great meeting, where we council together with the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders, and discuss the needs of our mission and how to raise our expectations, and inspire all of our missionaries in this work.  We had some wonderful trainings by Elder Misiluki, and Sister HoChing, and a lot of great participation from everyone.  We always walk away inspired.
On Thursday after interviews we participated in a Coordinating Council Meeting in Lethbridge under the direction of Elder James E. Evanson, our Area Seventy down south.  The whole meeting was centered on missionary work, and it was a great meeting.  We are so grateful for all of the stake presidents we serve with and for their commitment and faith and devotion.  We just love them all, and we hope we can continue to unite together to bring more people to the waters of baptism.
Friday and Saturday we continued with interviews and didn't get home until 8:30 Saturday night.  And by then we were both sick with horrific colds, and we still needed to prepare for zone conferences which began today.  So, we spent Sunday preparing and planning.  And we prayed that we would be given energy to do it--we were both feeling so awful that we wondered how we could do it.  But, as always, Heavenly Father answered our prayers and blessed us with renewed energy to make it through zone conference, and not only to make it through but to have a wonderful, inspiring zone conference with our Calgary, Calgary North and Calgary West zones.
We closed the conference focusing on "What Think Ye of Christ?", and missionaries shared scriptures that emphasized what they thought of the Savior.  It was a really spiritual time, and was perfect to lead into our testimony meeting.  As usual, our testimony meeting is always so inspiring and uplifting.  I wish everyone could attend a missionary testimony meeting.  You would really feel the power of these disciples of Christ. We look forward to 3 more zone conferences this week.
Our weather lately has been so up and down!  We've had some nice fall days, and then it will dip to 6 and be so cold, and I pull my boots back out, and then it will warm right up again!  This week we will hit 23!  That's about 76 fahrenheit!  I love it--I'm hoping for a long, drawn out fall after the brutal winter we had last year.  But I have told all of our new missionaries to buy their winter coats and boots, because it will hit anytime and they need to be ready!  After talking with one of our doctors up here I am also encouraging all of them to take Vitamin D on a regular basis.  He told me that everyone in Canada is vitamin D deficient, so to take it from October through April, which I am strongly suggesting to our missionaries.  It is also cold and flu season already, and we have had so many sick missionaries already.  So, I keep reminding them to use hand sanitizer like crazy!
Besides that I had one missionary cut his leg open on a broken metal chair in the middle of the night getting up to use the bathroom, and so I had to find a doctor to stitch him up on a Sunday--that is another answer to prayers!  Thank heavens for our wonderful LDS doctors here in Canada.  They are always so willing to help out!  They are such a blessing.  I had tried to send this elder to two different urgent care clinics and they wanted to charge him $850 just for the visit--this would be outside of the fee for the stitches.  So thankful we didn't have to go that route!
We are really feeling great about our mission right now, and are loving the obedience, and faith and enthusiasm of our missionaries.  They are so willing to work, and wanting to know how to be better missionaries, and are trying their best.  We are so proud of them and just love them.  It's amazing how quickly we get to know our new missionaries as they come in.  With interviews and zone conferences each transfer you really become acquainted quickly and it is so fun.  It is such a blessing and privilege to work with these great missionaries.  We will always cherish this time.
Today we had to say good-by to one of our senior couples in the field,  Elder and Sister Gardiner, serving out in Banff.  They go home next Monday and we will be on the road so we had to hug them good-by today.  They have been such a blessing out there and to our mission and to our missionaries serving in the West zone.  We just love them and will miss them.  What a great example they have been for all of us.  Senior couples are THE BEST!!!  Everyone should plan to serve a mission as a senior couple--they are so needed!
We love this work.  And it's because we love our Savior.  We can never adequately express our love for Him, and for His atoning sacrifice.
All the sister trainer leaders at MLC!

Selfie at interviews with Sisters Williams, Hatch, Follett & Meiners

Saying good-by to Elder & Sister Gardiner

This is what happens when missionaries get my phone at zone conference!

Elder Peterson after zone conference

Elder Chen

Elders! when they get my phone!

Elders Fox, Henderson, Peterson & Chen

Getting as many in a selfie as possible!

Came home to find our door decorated by someone!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Transfer Week!

Last week was another great transfer week!  Of course it is ALWAYS difficult to say good-by to missionaries we have grown to love for 18 months and 2 years, but it is always fun to welcome brand new missionaries straight from the MTC.
Tuesday afternoon we took our 10 departing elders to the Calgary Temple, which is always a wonderful and special experience.  I love to see them in the temple.  We really feel like this is a great way to complete their mission-being able to be in the temple.  Following that session we came back to the mission home for another yummy meal made by Natasha Zandbergen.  I wish you could all taste her cooking-she is fabulous!  We have a lot of fun at that meal just talking and reflecting on their missions.
Then we held our testimony meeting which is always touching.  One of the true joys of this calling is to hear the departing testimonies of missionaries, and to see how their faith has grown, and also their love for the Savior.  It is quite a thing to see them be transformed on their missions as they experience the atonement in their lives.
The next morning we took the 10 elders to the airport to check them in and send them off to reunite with their families!  It is exciting and a little tender.  It is difficult to hug them good-by!  But I always think of their mothers waiting at the other end to hug them for the first time in 2 years, and it makes me happy!
Then we came home for a bit to do a few things and headed back to the airport to pick up our 23 new arriving missionaries!  They looked great, and we are so excited to have them in our mission and to feel of their enthusiasm and faith.  They really revitalize our mission!  We brought them back to the mission home for the 'administrative' training done by our senior couples in the office, while Steve began interviewing each one.  And then we have another great meal made by Natasha.  These missionaries loved it!  They were so tired of MTC food, and so grateful to have a home cooked meal!
And they were full of energy and lots of conversation!  Sometimes they are quiet and we really have to work at getting them to talk, but not this group!  Following dinner we went back downstairs for some more training-on the lighter side, and then we got them to the hotel so they could get a good night's sleep before transfer day on Thursday.
Thursday morning we began at 8:00 a.m. with them at the Willow Park Chapel, and by 9:30 they had met their new companions (at least all of the ones serving in the Calgary area).  The ones serving down south had to wait until we transported everyone to Lethbridge to meet their companions down there.  But we got everyone to their new companions, and areas, and things went pretty smoothly.  It was another successful transfer week.  We really are so excited to have had over 50 new missionaries in the past two transfers.  We are excited to get to know them and work with them and help them become the best missionaries they can be.
Thursday night my brother Kerry and his wife Karrie came up and met us for dinner before heading to Banff the next morning.  It was great to see them and spend a little time with them.  Then we immediately began doing our interviews for the transfer!  So, in the last few days we've already been able to see many of our new missionaries again, which is great.  And it is fun to see them with their trainers, and to see how they are doing in their new areas.
Saturday and Sunday we participated in the Fort Macleod Stake Conference, which was really nice, and then we drove back Sunday to have a meeting with our assistants and then we had a special Youth and Parent Fireside on 'Preparing for Missions' in the Calgary Stake.  It was a great event planned mostly by our missionaries serving there, with Elder Fox spearheading it.  It really was such a nice night for these youth and their parents.  We were so proud of our missionaries and their preparation and participation.  Whenever we are in stake conferences and wards, members come up to us and tell us how much they love the missionaries, and thank us for them.  We love it!  Sometimes our missionaries don't realize the good they are doing just by serving in a ward and loving and serving the members.  They are such a good influence on the youth, and we have had many people over the time we have been here tell us how their child was impacted by the missionaries, and decided to serve a mission because of what the missionaries did.  It is so awesome!
This is great work, and it is hard work, and we are so proud of our missionaries' desire to serve and for their faith.
Departing elders at the temple

New missionaries at the airport!

New elders walking with their overnight bags to the mission home

Heading to the mission home!

Sisters Ziegner and Moffett loaded and ready to go to their area!

Monday, September 11, 2017

New trainers, prep for transfers, baby blessing

Last week was a great week as we were able to prepare for transfers this week.  Steve still had to interview the departing missionaries, but we were able to have some time in our office at home and get so much done!  There is a lot of praying, and pondering that goes into each and every transfer!
Steve feels it is such a remarkable thing as he seeks for the spirit to help him determine where missionaries should go and with whom.
We were both able to go do some weekly planning with  missionaries on Thursday which we always enjoy!  He was able to go with two sets of zone leaders, and I was able to go with one set of sisters.  I always like being able to go to weekly planning with the sisters.
Then on Friday we held our New Trainer's meeting for the missionaries that will be training the 24 missionaries arriving on Wednesday!  Actually only 23 come Wednesday and the last one comes on the 26th.  We are so excited to get them here in our mission!  We just love to welcome these new missionaries straight from the MTC full of faith and enthusiasm!  It brings great life to our mission.
We are sad to see the others go, but always excited to see what the future holds for them.  As we are sending one of our assistants home, Elder Stringam, we had to call a new one, Elder Grinwis.  We are excited to work with him and feel he will be a great blessing in this assignment.
Saturday we drove down to Lethbridge to participate in the Lethbridge Stake Conference with Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy.  He is the one who set me apart as a missionary, so it was special to be with him again.  We have the real blessing of being in many stake conferences- about 27 per year- and in each one there is always such a great spirit.  We only hope that when we are asked to speak we can add to that.  Following the conference we were invited to a delicious lunch at President MacLennan's home.  His wife Kathy is an incredible cook, and she fed us well!  They are always so kind to us.  We have loved the friendships we have made with these stake presidents and their wives!
Then we had to leave to get home for a meeting with our assistants, but on the way we were able to pull over for a few minutes and FaceTime in to see our oldest son, Brad, bless their new little baby, Jake, who we have never seen face to face!  They did the blessing in their home, so it was special for us to feel like we were a little part of the sweet event.  I have to say that it has tugged at my heartstrings a little bit to not be there for Miles' baptism last week, and this baby blessing yesterday.  So, I am really grateful to have at least been able to watch from afar!  The miracles of technology!
We are excited for this upcoming transfer week!  It is always a fun, hectic week.  On Thursday evening we always breathe a little sigh of relief!  And then we start up with interviews on Friday!
Weekly planning with Sisters Dewsnup & Hathaway

Cute sisters that will be training!

Elders at the New Trainers Meeting

More elders who will train

Elder Grinwis (new assistant), Elder Stringam (going home) Elder Wolfe

Elder Stringam insisted on one more selfie!

Brad and Katy with their sweet little Jake on his blessing day.

Proud Dad with his sweet little guy!
I need to be able to snuggle this little one!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Our Grandson, Miles, baptism!

Had to put up these pictures of our handsome Miles on his baptism day!
Our daughter Steph and husband Neil with Finn, Miles and Wyatt

Miles with his Dad

Miles with his two little brothers, Finn and Wy
It was such a special day!

Interviews complete, MLC, special baptism!

District meeting in the Calgary Zone
This week we were able to complete all of our interviews for the transfer--that is always a good thing!  The change to conduct interviews every transfer instead of once a quarter has been a big blessing for our missionaries.  All of them enjoy having more face to face personal time with Steve, and he also enjoys it.  He is able to help them where they need it, and resolve concerns earlier, and build their faith when they get discouraged.  After over 2 years of interviews I am still trying to figure out my 'role' during them.  I just pray that as I sit with the companion that I will be able to listen and love with the spirit, and if there is something I can say to help them, I will.  I try to find out how their areas are doing, and see who they are teaching and working with--I love to have them tell me about their investigators or less active people they are teaching.
Other times I just listen as they tell me about their families and what is going on there...which I love to hear.  It's fun to hear about siblings getting married, nieces and nephews being born, and all the other things that go on.  But I am also sad when I hear that our missionary didn't receive an email from their family that week--they always try to shrug it off, but inside it hurts.  I am also sad when they tell me of difficult things their families are experiencing; and so I try to be a good listener, and help if I can.  Some have had family members diagnosed with cancer, many have had grandparents pass away, some have parents lose jobs, some have had parents divorce, and a variety of other situations.  All of these things are difficult for missionaries to hear, especially being far from home.  So, we try to love them and help them through it, and encourage them to pray more earnestly, and draw closer to the Lord through their scripture study to get the peace they need.
And sometimes I just sit and have fun with them!
Monday morning before interviews we were able to attend a district meeting in the Calgary zone, which is in downtown Calgary.  We love going to these district meetings and hearing the missionaries teach and train each other.  Elder Chen did a great job as district leader--he had put a lot of thought into his meeting and prepared well.
On Wednesday we had a wonderful Mission Leadership Council in Lethbridge, and it was so filled with the spirit.  These leaders really have good hearts and are trying so hard to not only find people to teach and baptize, but also to minister to the other missionaries within their zones.  They really try to take a personal interest in each one.  We talk a lot about one on one ministry as the Savior did, and how we do that as leaders.  It was a great day, and as we left to drive to Medicine Hat for their interviews the next day we were inspired!
On Friday we had our retrainer's meeting.  It was like a big zone conference!  We had 62 missionaries there--our 31 brand new ones, and 31 trainers.  We discussed what they have learned so far, and the assistants taught about goal setting and planning, and I trained on striving for our Standards of Excellence.  Steve always does a great job in teaching them on the doctrine of Christ and helping them to see that their purpose is to teach repentance and baptize converts, and as we focus on the Savior, and remember that it is His work, we will be able to do that.  After the meeting we had a great lunch and sent them on their way!  Usually we have the retrainers meeting at the mission home, but because of the numbers we had to hold it at the church.
Saturday morning was VERY special for us because our oldest grandson, Miles, was baptized.  We are so proud of him and his decision to be baptized and for the wonderful boy he is.  He is such a delight in our lives, and we have loved him since the day he was born!  We are so grateful for his dad, Neil, who is a wonderful example of a worthy priesthood holder, that could perform this ordinance.  We are grateful for Steph and Neil who have created a home of love, and fun, and filled with the spirit, where our little grandsons can learn and grow in the gospel.  That brings us true joy!
We are so blessed with an amazing family, filled with faith, and devotion to the Savior, and also filled with fun personalities, and incredible love for each other.  As we have been gone from them for over 2 years, we have seen them grow together as a family and take care of each other and step in and help each other.  We are so grateful for them and that we are sealed together forever as a family!  We love them!  We want all of our missionaries to be able to go home and marry a wonderful person in the temple, and raise righteous families and to have what we have been so blessed to have.  We are so grateful for their desire to bring this knowledge of eternal families to the people here in Canada who don't know of it.
Elder Purvis, Leanne Lucas, Elder Misiluki at Leanne's baptism
Sister Grange, Leanne, Sister Kunzler 
Saturday night we were able to attend a baptism of a young single adult, Leanne Lucas.  It was such a sweet baptism.  She had been taught by several missionaries beginning clear last winter.  But through patience, she finally made the decision to be baptized.  It was such a beautiful service.  One gal that gave a talk on baptism was a convert of 6 years, and her talk was just so genuine and sincere.  These young adults that embrace the gospel and are baptized are incredible people!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On the road, Interviews, A Baptism!

After our BC zone conference on Monday we drove to Lethbridge and did 3 zones interviews on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday--Lethbridge Zone, Lethbridge East Zone, and the Cardston Zone.  We were also able to meet with two stake presidents in the evenings-so it was a good productive road trip!  We got home later on Friday evening, and it was good to be home again.  We don't mind the traveling, but it is always good to get out of a hotel room and back into your own bed and home!  Although we have become friends with the hotel front desk people, and have given them pass-a long cards, and we have given a Book of Mormon to a woman who works in housekeeping.  We keep hoping and praying that the messages we ask them to look at will touch their hearts and they will want to learn more about the gospel.
On Saturday evening we were able to attend a baptismal service for 2 different people in our Spanish ward!  It was such a sweet service and both Margarita and Kepler, the ones being baptized, had smiles from ear to ear the whole time.  There is nothing as great as seeing someone embrace the gospel and choose to be baptized.  Even though the whole service was in Spanish, you could feel the spirit and love there.  Elder Tate, who gave one of the talks, printed his talk for us in English, so we were able to read it while he gave it in Spanish.  He did a wonderful job.  I love seeing our missionaries participate in these services.  Hermana Vera sang "I am a Child of God" and Elder Crockett was the pianist.  Elder Ibanez performed one of the baptisms, and Elder Williams did one of the confirmations.  They are amazing missionaries with such powerful testimonies of the Savior.  We just love them all!
On Sunday morning we left early to drive to Lethbridge to participate in the creation of the first Young Single Adult stake outside of the US!  Elder Vern P. Stanfill and Elder James Evanson were the General Authorities there.  It was such an exciting day for the young single adults in southern Alberta!  Now they will have their own stake with a Stake President who holds priesthood keys to lead and guide them.  We know it will bless our missionary efforts too!  We look forward to finding many young adults to bring into the gospel, and also bringing back those who have wandered.  We are so excited about it!
This gospel is amazing, and  I am so blessed to know of it and to know I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.  I am so blessed to know I have a Savior who gave His life for me, and that because of Him I can return to my Father in Heaven, as well as my whole family!  I love having a prophet to lead and guide us, and I love the Book of Mormon.  That book has changed my life, and continues to do so.  I feel such power and peace when I read it.  If it has been awhile since you have read it, I would invite you to start again, and let it touch your heart as it testifies of Jesus Christ.
Hotels!  Where we spend a lot of time!

The Taber parade at beginning of Corn Fest!  We were there doing interviews.

At interviews Elders Ajeman & Mecham had us try a new soda called Dirt Soda--and that is exactly what it tasted like!

Baptism of Kepler Sanchez (3rd from left) and Margarita Deschner-great day!
Front row: Elders Tate & Schiel
Back row: Hermanas Amaller, Vera, Elders Ibanez & Williams

Kepler Sanchez with Hermanas Amaller & Vera, who taught him!

Found one of our returned missionaries, Eden Hardwick, (clear from England!) in Lethbridge at the YSA stake  creation!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Last zone conference-in BC!

Today we completed our final zone conference out in Cranbrook, BC.  It's a small group-just 10 elders, and one senior couple, the Ebert's.  But it is always a great conference, and fun to be out there with them!
Our great BC zone!