Saturday, February 17, 2018

Zone Conferences & Interviews Complete!

We have just been so busy that I really haven't had time to sit down and write about the past few weeks!  We began our zone conferences on Monday Jan. 29 and ended in BC on Feb. 5.  In these conferences our morning was spent watching training videos from Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Brent H. Nielsen, director of the Missionary Department.   The videos were all on the use of smartphones and how to use them appropriately for missionary work.  We truly learned that these devices will be a great blessing to the work as long as we use them to fulfill our purpose as missionaries, which is to invite others to come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  Every time we open our phone we are to ask ourselves if we are using it to fulfill that purpose.  If we are, then use it!  If we aren't, then put it away!  We are excited about getting phones, but also know that it will require our missionaries to be more diligent and more focused, and determined to rely on the spirit than ever before.
The second part of our conferences was spent improving our teaching.  We are really trying to help our missionaries become effective teachers--teaching simply and with the spirit, and using scriptures and asking inspired questions so we can meet the needs of all those we teach.  It is an ongoing process, and one we will always work on.
We also had a wonderful, spirit filled testimony meeting in each conference.  As I've said before, I wish everyone could be at a zone conference and hear the testimonies shared of the missionaries.  It is  an incredible thing to experience.  It touches me every single time!  It is such a joy to see how these elders and sisters come to know the Savior, and come to feel how His atonement blesses them.
We are enjoying reading the Book of Mormon together as a mission, and it has been fun in interviews to hear the missionaries talk about how they are learning just how much it testifies of Jesus Christ.  They also are better able to use it in their teaching and also, to testify more powerfully of its truthfulness.
Besides interviews and zone conferences Steve and I have been involved in the Confederation Park Stake Conference with Elder Rulon F. Stacey of the Seventy.  We have been with him in several other stake conferences and really enjoy being with him.  We were also able to participate in the Lethbridge YSA stake conference, which was also a treat. And then we were able to be in the Calgary West Stake Conference with Elder James E. Evanson of the Seventy.  He is our Area Seventy we work with down in Lethbridge, and he and his wife have become good friends, so that was fun to be with them at this conference.  Although we attend many stake conferences, and have to speak in all of them, we are always blessed to feel the great spirit in each of them, and to hear the different messages given.  And also to hear the choirs!  There are some incredible choirs we get to hear!  Each stake conference is inspiring.
We also held our MLC on Feb. 7 which is always great.  We love meeting with these zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  We also role-played on teaching skills there, so that these leaders will know where they need to improve and will work hard at it so they can help their zones.  Over the past few weeks we have had several companionships teach us the Plan of Salvation, and then we evaluate with them, to help them improve.  It is fun to see their teaching improve as they practice.  Learning to teach simply determining which scriptures to use, and what questions to ask takes a lot of preparation, but the payoff is so worth it!  When they practice, and role-play, it really brings the spirit into their lessons.
We are now getting ready for transfers.  This week we will interview all the departing missionaries that leave the next week, and we will do everything else that needs to happen before the actual transfer.
We have also been able to Skype with the new mission president and his wife, President and Sister Keung, who have been called to take our place on July 1.  They are wonderful and will be such a blessing to this mission.  We pray for them as they prepare to come.
This is such great work, and my testimony of how it is truly the Lord's work has really grown.  He really does guide us in it, and we have to trust in that.  I am so grateful for this wonderful gospel and for how it has blessed my life and the lives of my family.  I have had so much happiness in my life because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Baptism of Richard LaRose- January 27with Elders Dolinar and Crawley

Hermanas Smith, Vera, Jorgensen, Perkins at zone conference lunch!

Role-plays in zone conference!

Lots of role-plays going on at zone conference!

More role-plays!

Young elders role-playing to Seniors!

Sisters Wright and Bushnell gave Steve some peach jam and sourdough bread!

Elders Wolfe, Mecham & Grinwis before Elder Mecham left to go home.

Elders Neulinger, Tate & Sessions look good in their grey suits!

Once again we had a blizzard as we drove from Medicine Hat to Brooks!  Luckily we made it home!

Our retrainers meeting on Feb. 16.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Busy, Busy week!

This past week has to have been one of our busiest in our mission so far!  We covered a lot of territory and had a lot of meetings!  We left last Saturday and drove to Sparwood out in BC to speak in their sacrament meeting on Sunday.  We stayed the night with Bishop Prince and his wife Karen and enjoyed his yummy nachos as a treat!  It was great to be in their sacrament meeting and see their ward and meet the families.  Then after that meeting we drove back to Calgary so Steve could have his meeting with the assistants later that afternoon.  On Monday morning we attended a wonderful district meeting in the Bow River zone that was just a perfect district meeting.  We were so proud of our missionaries!  Then we did all the interviews with that zone and that night we met with our Spanish speaking elders and sisters to discuss their needs and help them in the work.  They are all doing a great job and have really committed to talk with everyone-english or spanish speaking!  After all we are here to invite 'all' to come unto Christ.  Tuesday we had our regular office meeting with our senior couples to discuss the needs of the office, and then we drove to the airport to pick up Elder Chitano who was coming from the MTC one week later than our regular transfer.  He is from Italy and they had him stay a little longer to increase his English speaking skills.  He rode with us down to Lethbridge to meet his new companion down there.  Then Tuesday evening we had a meeting with President MacLennan of the Lethbridge stake and all of their bishops and ward mission leaders and our missionaries serving in that stake.  It was a great, productive meeting.  Then Wednesday we had our Mission Leadership Council with all of our zone leaders and sister trainer leaders  which lasted all day long.  We had training videos on the proper use of the smartphones we will be using, and were able to realize the potential we will have to teach and reach people.  We are really excited about them!  And our missionaries are too!  You really come to realize that modern technology is just a blessing we have been given to hasten the Lord's work!  Then Wednesday evening Steve went out teaching with elders and I went out teaching with sisters, and we both had great nights doing that. I was able to meet Akelio, an investigator of the sisters, who is a single mother of 5 children who will be baptized on Jan. 27.  She had such faith, and spoke about how she prays to Heavenly Father and how He answers her prayers.  It was really such a sweet meeting with her!  It is so incredible to see how finding the gospel changes people's lives and blesses them.
 Thursday morning we started our interviews with our Lethbridge Zone.  It is one of our largest zones, so it is a lot of interviews, but our missionaries are all so excited about the work and are doing well.  Thursday night we had a meeting with President Atwood of the Lethbridge North Stake and one of his wards about their missionary efforts, which was also a good meeting.  Then on Friday morning we held a District Leader Training with all of our district leaders serving down south, and when that was complete we drove back to Calgary and held the same meeting with the district leaders serving up in the Calgary area.  They were both great meetings--we discussed how to plan for a District meeting, what it means to minister, how to conduct effective exchanges, and we also had a question and answer time.  We felt like it really gave our district  leaders good direction and inspiration as to how to serve as a district leader.  Their assignment is so important--they are in front of their missionaries every single week, so we depend on them to do a great job planning and teaching their districts.  Then on Saturday morning we held a tele-conference call with our district leaders out in BC and Medicine Hat and gave them the same training, which went well.  After all that, I was finally able to go to the grocery story and get us some food!  We didn't have any milk or anything to eat--so it was good to stock up!  We usually always have eggs, but we were even getting low on those!
Then, today we spoke in the McKenzie ward here in Calgary, as they are focusing on their missionary efforts as a ward.  We looked at our calendar and realized that we will speak in either a ward or stake conference 6 weeks in a row!  I always hope I am saying what the Lord would have me say, and so does Steve.  But sometimes, we have to admit, we worry that people are growing weary of hearing us.  This upcoming week we will do a lot of interviews and we will prepare for our zone conferences coming up the next week.  We were both pretty worn out on Saturday evening, and were grateful to be back in our own bed, too!  We are so grateful for how the Lord strengthens us to do the work--because we know we couldn't do it on our own!
Our great missionaries at district meeting in the Bow River Zone.

Selfie at district meeting!

Welcoming Elder Chitano at the airport!

Our Missionary Leadership Council!

Selfie after going out teaching with Sisters  Rhead and Mikesell!

Friday, January 12, 2018

One COLD transfer week!

We had another successful transfer week this week!  We sent 5 missionaries home to reunite with their families on Wednesday morning, and welcomed 9 new ones in Wednesday afternoon.  It is always hard to let the old ones go, but exciting to get the new ones in--it is pretty much a revolving door in a mission every 6 weeks!  We love hearing the final testimonies of those really is such an incredible thing to hear them verbalize how much they have grown, and how they have come to know the Savior.  I cherish every single final testimony meeting.
And then it's so fun to be at the airport to welcome the new ones and to see their excitement and also their nerves!  We love to have that first dinner with them and begin to get to know them on a more personal level--and then it's even more fun to see them meet their new companions the next day!
This week has been very cold, after having a week last week that had warmed up significantly!  So when those new missionaries arrived it was -20.  And then on Thursday, which is our regular transfer day, it was close to -30!  It was so cold outside while missionaries were hauling their luggage around  that you really just froze!  I had to keep going inside the church to warm up for a few minutes, even though I had layered up, and had on my warmest boots!  Because of the weather we didn't bring our BC missionaries in that were being transferred because they were having snow and the night before part of the road had been closed.  So, we held them off, because we don't like them traveling in those conditions.  Today the few that were being transferred to and from BC did their moving.  It's such a nice feeling when transfers are over and everyone is to their new area with their new companion!  It feels like a new beginning every time!  It's a great time for missionaries to re-commit and rededicate themselves to the work, and we get re-energized, too.
Our mission is going to be using smartphones in the near future, so we are in the process of having families purchase the phones for their  missionary and have them shipped to the office through a special website.  Steve and I have been receiving online training which features Elder Bednar teaching missionaries in the Gilbert, Arizona mission about the use of smartphones as a missionary.  It is pretty exciting, and will enhance the work.  And the missionaries will also develop good habits of phone use that they can use when they go back home.  The Lord is wanting them to learn to be good agents and use these devices for righteous purposes.  Missionary work in the traditional sense is changing and it will be exciting to see what happens in the next few years.  Our purpose is always the same: to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.  Modern technology, if used correctly, can help us do this!
Today we had all of our missionaries watch President Monson's funeral.  We felt like this would be a spiritual experience for each of them, as he was the prophet that called them on their missions.  We will so miss President Monson, and are so grateful for the remarkable example he was to each of us.
We know he was the prophet of God here on the earth.

Our missionaries that will be training new missionaries this transfer!  Great group!

At the temple with our departing missionaries.

Welcoming our new missionaries at the airport!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!  We are so excited for what this year will bring to the Canada Calgary Mission.  I think our missionaries are ready to work, and as much as they loved the holidays, they are ready for people to be back into a normal routine, which will help them in their work.  They all loved their Christmas phone calls home- for many it was their first phone call, which is always exciting and special.  For a few, it was their last as they go home next week!
We had a nice relaxing Christmas Day where we were able to talk to all of our children at different times and share a little in their day with each of them. We also began our reading of the Book of Mormon with our mission, which we are loving. Along with this our missionaries have been looking through the scriptures- the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, for their top 10 scriptures that describe 'What Think Ye of Christ'?  Steve and I have also been coming up with ours, and it has been a neat experience to be reading in the New Testament, Old Testament, and the Book of Mormon, and D & C to find the ones we would put on that list.  I still haven't decided exactly on my 10 yet, but I did just put one on it from Isaiah 41:10 &13, where the Lord tells us to 'fear not, for I am with thee..I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee..I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand..'  I just love those words from the Savior telling us how He will help us, and I have felt it personally in my life.  He is so kind, and so loving, and truly does carry us in our times of trial. You ought to try this if you want to have a wonderful experience.
 The weather the past couple of weeks has been downright freezing!  As we drove to Lethbridge on the 26th our temperature gage in our car reached -29, which was a record for us while driving.  And then the next morning it was -30!  That is COLD!!  Needless to say, I have been wearing tights and another pair of socks over them, and layering like crazy!  In Lethbridge we were able  to complete our interviews down south, and while we were there we were able to attend a great district meeting in Taber with our missionaries serving there and in Coaldale.  We got home Thursday evening and then on Friday had a great 'retrainer's meeting' with all of our new missionaries and their trainers.  We discussed and addressed their needs, referring to Preach My Gospel, and it was just a great meeting.  We are so blessed to have these missionaries that have such a great desire to be the most effective missionary they can be and to go spread the gospel!
Sunday, New Year's Eve, we had dinner at the mission home with 5 of our missionaries that were returning home the next day, after completing their missions.  It was great to be with these wonderful missionaries that have truly consecrated the last 2 years or 18 months to the Lord.  Following dinner we had a nice little intimate testimony meeting with them.  As always, it was very special to hear them all share their testimony of the Savior and how much they love Him, and also their testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
Then on Monday morning we took them to the airport and sent them on their way home to have wonderful reunions with their families.
This week we are preparing for transfers next week and for the 10 new missionaries that will be coming to our mission!
Proof of the cold temps!

District meeting in Taber!

Elders Ellefson & Steiner ready to brave the cold weather!

Our entryway as missionaries arrive for Retrainers Meeting

Dinner with our departing missionaries

Final picture with our 5 departing missionaries!
Sisters Ence, Caldwell, Call, Elders Fellows & Davis

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Zone Conferences complete! Merry Christmas!

We completed our final zone conference for the Lethbridge East and Medicine Hat zones in Taber on Friday.  And it was just as wonderful as the others!  The music was beautiful, we had a guitar and violin accompany  some sisters on one number, and then some sisters sang Acapella on another number, and they were so nice.  We love how the missionaries are always willing to share their talents and bless us with the spirit.  The testimony meeting of course was the highlight.
We are really excited to begin reading the Book of Mormon together as a mission beginning tomorrow and ending on Easter Sunday, April 1.  We know it will be a remarkable experience for our mission.  We love the Book of Mormon and know that it truly does testify of our Savior and of His love for each one of us.  Merry Christmas everyone!
Sisters Moss, Williams, Follet & Johnson  doing a selfie on my phone!

Elders Boss, Johnson & Eaves-another selfie!

Enjoying lunch in Taber at zone conference!

Elders enjoying lunch!

Showing off white elephant gifts!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

More zone conferences for Christmas!

On Wednesday we had our zone conference with the Fish Creek, Bow River, Confederation Park and Bow River zones.  And then on Thursday we had zone conference with our Lethbridge and Cardston Zones down in Magrath.  As with the other conferences, there was a great spirit in each one.  We had absolutely wonderful musical numbers in each one--cello, piano, singing, flute, and organ!  We have some very talented missionaries, and they try to do numbers that bring the spirit.  And the testimony meetings in each one were so powerful...they are my favorite part.  We also had yummy lunches, and a lot of fun doing our white elephant exchange.
In each conference we gave the missionaries a copy of the Book of Mormon with our testimony in it and invited them to read it with us beginning Christmas Day and ending on Easter Sunday, April 1.
We have done this before as a mission and it has been such a great experience to all be reading it together.  We know there is a power in the Book of Mormon that can't be found anywhere else, and we want to help our missionaries follow President Monson's counsel in his last conference address to read and study it daily.  We know it will bless their lives--it has blessed ours immensely!

The Sefciks helped make our lunch!

Bow River, Confederation Park, Foothills, Fish Creek zones showing off white elephant gifts!

The Lethbridge and Cardston zones showing off their white elephants!