Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Great transfer week!

Last week was another great transfer week as we said good-by to 19 missionaries and welcomed 9 new ones in.  It is always bitter sweet as we send wonderful missionaries home that we have grown to love--we enjoy taking them to the temple the night before and having a great dinner with them and their final testimony meeting.  I know I've said it before, but I wish everyone could listen in on a final testimony meeting and hear the power of their testimonies as they share their feelings about their mission and the Savior.  It's a pretty incredible thing to be part of.
We took all of those missionaries to the airport Wednesday morning and it took us so long to get them all on their way that we just stayed and waited for the new ones to come in!  Usually we have time to go home for awhile and then come back, but not this time.  So, it was great to meet our 9 new ones- only 1 sister and 8 elders!  The number of sisters we have is shrinking!
We had our usual training meeting with them that afternoon and a delicious home-cooked meal by Natasha (which they always love because they are so tired of MTC food!), and then a little more training before getting them to bed early at the hotel!  Then on Thursday morning we started at 8:00 a.m. with a little more training and by 9:30 they had met their companions and were on their way!  It's always fun to see them meet their trainers and head to their areas!  Then transfer day went on as usual as missionaries were being transferred in Calgary and some from the north to the south and vice versa!  But it always works out and everyone gets where they need to be!
This week was a special week because we also welcomed our very first granddaughter!  Little Nina Dee Stobbe arrived on Friday weighing in at 8 lbs. 15 ozs.  We are thrilled she is here healthy and strong, and her mom is doing so well.  After 8 little grandsons that we absolutely adore, it is fun to have a little girl! And then our youngest son, Mike and his wife Jillian, had the blessing of their little baby, Remington Stephen Miles, on Sunday.  We are so grateful for the blessing of eternal families!
We have such an incredible family who have supported us throughout our mission and we love them so much!
Our departing missionaries at the temple!

All of the departing sisters!

Our newly arrived missionaries at the airport!

The Stobbe's at the hospital with their new little Nina!

Nina Dee Stobbe-first granddaughter!

Jillian and Mike on Remi's blessing day!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Getting ready for transfers!

This past week was our week to prepare for transfers which happen this week.  Until you do it you would never realize what all goes in to making a transfer happen.  First off, many prayers offered to determine where the Lord wants missionaries to go, and with what companion.  It is really quite a special thing to watch unfold as Steve receives guidance on this.  I am just always praying for him to receive the inspiration he needs!  And he always does.  Then, there is what goes on in the mission office--our senior couples there, the McNary's, Stephenson's and Elder Cushman get housing, cars, phones, arrival packets all ready to go, along with transportation on Tuesday for the departing missionaries and then again on Wednesday morning when they go to the airport and Wednesday afternoon when we pick up the new ones, and again on Thursday when many missionaries get transferred between the north and south!  It's quite a remarkable thing to watch!  We are so grateful for these couples and their hard work!  They are amazing.
We also held departing interviews for the missionaries leaving this week--this is always a tender time for them to have their last interview with Steve.  On Wednesday afternoon we were able to pick up a new Mandarin speaking elder, Elder Chan,  from the airport.  He is from the UK, and had completed his training at the MTC.  We were excited to get him here in our mission!
On Friday we held our New Trainer's meeting for the 9 missionaries that will be training the 9 new ones arriving on Wednesday.  Because the one sister that is training was ill with the flu, we had 8 elders at this meeting, and it was a great meeting.  They are all enthused about training and are committed to do their best.  We are excited for them to get their new companions this week.  A lot of trust is given to a trainer because they really set the tone for the new missionary.  We have full confidence in them and know they are called by the Lord to fulfill this assignment.
Saturday and Sunday we were able to participate in the Fish Creek Stake Conference in Calgary with Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy.  He was so kind and humble and taught us about taking time to take care of our spouses and our children, and to hold family councils and the value that can come from them.  It was a great conference and their choir was amazing!  And we had 3 of our sisters singing in it which made it all the better!
We are looking forward to this week of transfers!
The elders at our New Trainer's lunch

Love these bunnies at the Tipton Road Chapel!

Picking up Elder Chan at the airport!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mission Tour with Elder and Sister Nattress

I think our mission pace is accelerating!  I can't seem to find time to write, but hopefully can get a few things in today!  Clear last week- Nov. 16-17 we had the privilege and blessing of having Elder K. Brett Nattress of the Seventy, and his wife, come tour our mission.  We loved having them here with our missionaries and teaching and training them.  Our missionaries left feeling very inspired and uplifted.  We held two zone conferences with them--one for all the zones in Calgary, and one in Lethbridge for all of the southern zones.  Because of illness Elder Nattress wasn't able to arrive until Thursday afternoon (one day later than scheduled), so we re-arranged our first conference to begin a little later in the morning so our missionaries would have more time with him when he got here Thursday afternoon about 2:00.  So, the Calgary zones had him for two hours Thursday afternoon, and then the southern zones had him for all of Friday.  It is always so special to have a General Authority come to your mission, and to have his wife come with him.  They have served as Mission President and wife in the Gilbert, Arizona Mission, so they completely understand what we are doing and all of the challenges and blessings that come with this calling.  It is great to be able to visit with them.  Our missionaries loved hearing their testimonies and feeling of their love.
On Saturday and Sunday we were also able to join with them to participate in the Lethbridge East Stake Conference with Pres. Stewart.  It was a great conference, and we really enjoyed being there.  One of the blessings of this calling is to be able to attend 28 stake conferences each year and to feel of the great spirit in each one and be lifted and inspired.  I don't love speaking at them all, but have learned to trust in the spirit to help me know what to say at each one.
After that stake conference we drove home so we could be back in Calgary to do a youth fireside with youth from the Confederation Park Stake.  We did a question and answer with them, and with their leaders and it was a good night as well.  We were tired when it was all done, though!
On Monday we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary and were able to go out to dinner and we were happy that we were able to share a #LighttheWorld pass-along card with our cute little server.  She was young adult age and just had such a great smile and personality, and she said she would watch it, because she wanted to know about Mormons.  We hope she will be touched as she goes to the website!
On Tuesday morning we drove to Radium and met Elder and Sister Ebert, our senior couple serving in the Columbia River Valley.  It was great to be with them and to hear all that they are doing.  All of our senior couples serve in these unique branches, and are such a blessing and asset to the branch.  We don't know what this branch will do when the Eberts leave!  We are so grateful for all of our senior couples serving.  They are great examples of faith and devotion!  We have another new couple, the Manwarings, serving out in BC in the Trail Ward and Nelson Branch.  They arrived while we were at our mission president's seminar.  And then we had another couple arrive just prior to our mission tour, Elder and Sister Jarvis, who will be serving in Banff.  And this week Elder and Sister Amberson arrived who will be serving in the Diamond Valley Branch south of Calgary.  We are so grateful for them all!
After our meeting with the Eberts we drove clear out to Trail, BC, arriving about 8:00 Tuesday night. We had to travel some pretty slushy roads through the mountain passes to get there.  Then on Wednesday we began in Trail and interviewed our missionaries there, then we drove 1 1/2 hours to Creston to interview our missionaries there, and then we drove another hour into Cranbrook to interview the 4 there.  Then we drove 1 1/2 hours to Sparwood to interview the 2 serving there.  And then we took those two with us into Lethbridge, because the night before they had hit a deer with their car and it was in for repairs, so we had to get them into Lethbridge to be able to come up with other missionaries to our Retrainer's meeting on Friday.  Thursday we did all the interviews with the Lethbridge zone, which completed our interviews for the transfer!  We then drove to Cardston to go on a teaching appointment with Sisters Romney and Russell, and we were able to meet the sweetest family with 4 boys!  The wife is active in the church and the husband is not a member, and the sisters are teaching him.  They were such a great family and we pray he will feel a desire to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  After that we drove home to Calgary!  We were exhausted when we got home!  We had driven 1600 kilometers between Monday and Thursday!
Friday morning we had our Retrainer's Meeting with our 18 new missionaries and their trainers.  We always love this meeting and are so excited to see these new missionaries that arrived 4 weeks ago!
We love hearing what they have learned and are learning and to see how they are blossoming as missionaries and how their testimonies are growing.  It's a remarkable thing to watch.  We also see them grow in their confidence to be a missionary, and also in their trust in the Lord that He will truly guide them in this work.   We are excited to be utilizing Family History in our missionary work and also to begin the Christmas initiative this year #LighttheWorld.  We encourage everyone to go onto Mormon.org and participate in this great event--and determine how you will personally light the world this Christmas season.
Zone conference lunch!

Lunch line at zone conference!

Elder & Sister Jarvis- our new senior couple serving in Banff

More lunch pics from zone conference!

Elder & Sister Nattress and us at Zone Conference

Love visits from our returned missionaries! Ali Blake, Kendra Frandsen,  Noelle Dobyns

Spotted this big guy on our way to BC

Retrainers lunch!

Everyone enjoys lunch!

Cute sisters at our Retrainers lunch!

Love these great elders!

More visits from returned missionaries-Erika Black and Brackin Stringam

Elder & Sister Amberson


Monday, November 13, 2017

Busy week-as usual!

This week we have been doing more interviews with our zones which is always great.  Tuesday night we were able to have a lesson in our home with Sisters Ho Ching and Kunzler and their investigator. They did a great job teaching about faith in Jesus Christ.  I am always so proud of these missionaries when they teach.  There is always a great spirit there. When the spirit is so present it's hard to believe that people can choose NOT to accept the message--but we respect their agency.  But, boy it can be frustrating and discouraging at times!  That's why I'm amazed at the resiliency and faith of our missionaries!  They are the best!
 Thursday we had to be in Cardston by 5:30 for Steve to attend his quarterly Coordinating Council Meeting with Elder Evanson of the Seventy, and all the Stake Presidents in the south.  While he was busy with that I was able to go to dinner with Shannon Lybbert, the wife of President Lybbert of the Cardston Stake.  One of the blessings of this calling are the wonderful friends we have made.  We have really grown to love these stake presidents and their wives.  She took me to the 'Little Mexico' restaurant there in Cardston, which is its own version of Cafe Rio.  It has been open for about a year and has been quite a hit down in Cardston!  Your only other choices are pretty much Subway, and A & W!
After dinner I was able to go out teaching with our sisters serving there in Cardston, Sisters Russell and Romney.  Their first appointment to teach a less active member canceled right at the last minute, so we went to visit a family who had just lost their 20 month old granddaughter.  It was a tender visit, and once again we were so reminded of how blessed we are for the sealing power that binds families together forever.  After that we were able to go visit an elderly brother whose wife is in a care facility because of her dementia.  The sisters shared a sweet message with him and he was so grateful for their visit, and told them how it just lifted him up!  He was so very grateful they would come see him.  These visits are so important even though they don't show up on any report as a new referral, or new investigator, or anything like that.  But they are doing what the Savior would do, and that night, this sweet man needed that visit.
On Saturday afternoon we were able to attend the baptism of Linda at our Mandarin Branch.  One of our returned missionaries, Ethan Fong, who had previously taught her, came back to baptize her.  It was such a beautiful baptism, and she was so happy.  I just love attending these convert baptisms--they are so special! Saturday evening and Sunday we participated in the Foothills Stake Conference with Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy.  It was good to be with him again-we were with him in Lethbridge in August.  After that conference we drove 2 1/2 hours down to Raymond to participate in a Face to face Youth event there with President Jensen and his wife Julie.  Brother Bridge, the high councilor over missionary work in that stake invited us for dinner, which was so nice.  The members here are truly so kind!!!   The Face to Face was a great success- about 250 youth attended, and we tried to answer as many questions as we could.  It was really fun to be with them!  Right after that we drove about 2 1/2 hours over to Medicine Hat to be ready for their interviews today.  We got in just before midnight.
So, today we spent the day interviewing the Medicine Hat zone, and arrived home tonight about 7:30.
We are now preparing for our upcoming Mission Tour with Elder K. Brett Nattress of the Seventy and his wife, Shawna.  We are excited to have them come--it is always a blessing for our missionaries!
Selfie with Sisters Russell & Romney

Baptism of Linda by Ethan Fong

Raymond Face to Face Youth Event

Selfie with Sisters Hatch & Carrillo

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bitter cold temps, teaching with sisters

I forgot to mention in that last post that winter is definitely here!  We have had -11 and -12 temps as a high the past few days--and we did get a little snow along with it.  So, we have put back on our winter coats and gloves and boots.  I'm secretly, or maybe not so secretly, hoping for a mild winter!  I don't think I will get my wish.  I also forgot to mention that I was able to go out teaching with two of our sister trainer leaders, Sister Leonard and Sister Rumbolt, this week, and they did an amazing job teaching.  The investigators they taught were rather difficult, each in their own way, but each time these sisters shared something you could feel the spirit, and also the power of their calling as missionaries.  I was so proud of them.
Selfie after teaching with Sisters Leonard and Rumbolt!

Snow and cold temps are here!!

Mission President's Seminar, Interviews, Stake Conferences

It's been awhile since I've written!  We have been so busy, and with that busy-ness also comes exhaustion-haha!  As I've said before, we go to bed exhausted and wake up tired!  But it is amazing how the Lord strengthens us to do the work--and how we are revitalized when we are with our missionaries!
After our transfer week we drove to Cardston to meet with President Lybbert's bishops and ward mission leaders to discuss with them the missionary work in their wards, and see how we could help them.  The stake presidents we work with are such great men, and want so much to see success in their missionary efforts in their stakes. After that meeting on Saturday we participated in the Cardston West Stake Conference with President Ferguson, who was just called 6 months ago.  It was good to be with them and to feel the excitement of a new stake presidency. We were also able to go visit the Shipley family and express our condolences to them with the passing of Kevin, a church service missionary, who passed away earlier in the week.  I have written about Kevin before, and he has indexed over 2100 names by himself.  He loved being with our missionaries as he lay in his bed and feeling of their spirit, and knowing he was also a missionary.  We are so grateful for the wonderful example he was to all of us.
 We were invited to lunch afterwards at the home of the Olsen's and had a delightful time with them before driving over to Medicine Hat to do a Youth Face to Face with their stake.  That was a great night.  The youth and parents had good questions, and we tried to answer them the best we could!  We love helping the youth as they think about preparing for missions, and building their testimonies.  We ALWAYS encourage them to read the Book of Mormon and gain their own testimony of that powerful book.  They can't go testify of something they have never read or don't know about.  And you can't testify off of your parent's or friend's testimonies--you can only testify of what you know personally to be true.  So, we always issue that challenge.  And we always challenge them to learn to do hard things in their lives, because missions are hard, and if they have been able to achieve and do hard things during their teenage years, it will benefit them greatly as a missionary.  Anyway, after the fireside we drove home and got home about midnight.
On Tuesday we got up at 3:00 a.m. to get ready to go the airport for our flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for our Mission President's Seminar.  I think I'm getting too old for these early mornings!
This mission president's seminar was special because we had Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with us.  That never happens, so we were so blessed!  We also had Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Wilford Andersen, and Elder Brett Nattress (and all their wives) with us.  This is a great few days for us to be taught and trained by them, and also to be able to visit with the 27 other mission presidents and wives that are attending.  We were able to attend the Star Valley Temple together on Wednesday morning before our trainings began Wednesday afternoon.  These seminars are so uplifting and inspiring and really help us to go forward.  At the end of the seminar on Friday morning, Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke to us and at the end he bore his testimony to us as an apostle of the Lord.  It was so powerful.  To be so close to him and to hear it was such a special and unique experience for Steve and I.  We will always remember it.
Then on Saturday morning we got up at 4:30 to catch our flight home!  But we did have a layover in SLC for 3 hours so we were able to see ALL of our children and our  newest little grandson that was born 2 1/2 weeks ago.  It was such a treat!
Once home from the seminar we began right into interviews and we also had a Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday.  We had 8 new zone leaders and sister trainer leaders at that meeting.  It is always such a great meeting.  We discussed how we can better implement Preach My Gospel into our mission and it will be the focus of district meeting tomorrow.  These leaders really have desires to minister within their zones, and they really want to bring more people to Jesus Christ.  We just love their faith.
This week we also had two missionaries in the ER--one on Monday and one on Friday, and they are companions!  What a week for them!  But both are doing well, with their different situations, and we are grateful for priesthood blessings, and for good doctors.  We are so blessed in our mission to have good LDS doctors that look out for our missionaries.
Yesterday and today we participated in the Bow River Stake Conference--this is the area where we actually live, so it was great to be there!  Since we attend 29 stake conferences a year, we are rarely in the ward closest to us.  But it was a great conference with Elder K. David Scott of the Seventy as the visiting authority.  He reminded us of President Monson's admonition last April to read the Book of Mormon every day, and of the promises he gave.  He also counseled us to not become distracted with other things that take us away from the most essential things in our lives.  I am grateful for our general authorities who teach and lead us to bless us and help us to be happy!
We are looking forward to this week of interviews and being with our missionaries!
Elder Kevin Shipley

Lunch with the Olsen Family in Cardston

At the Star Valley Temple with the Canadian Mission Presidents-the Pattisons (left), The Craigs on the right

Our MTC group of Mission Presidents on an excursion to Jenny Lake

Holding our two youngest grandsons!  Remi and  Jake!

Me seeing little Remi for the first time!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Transfer Week, Grandson #8 born!

We had another wonderful transfer week, and we welcomed our 8th little grandson!
We knew our daughter-in-law Jillian would be induced on Monday evening and probably have the baby on Tuesday, so we were full of anticipation.  That was also the same day we took our departing missionaries to the temple prior to their leaving on Wednesday.  We got word just 35 minutes before we left for the temple that little Remington Stephen Miles was born, but he wasn't breathing, so he was being taken in an ambulance to another hospital's NICU.  Needless to say, we were extremely worried and upset, and here we were trying to 'keep it together' with these great elders.  So, we knelt in prayer in our bedroom and prayed for our little Remi, and for Mike and Jillian at this scary time.  We are so grateful for the power of prayer and the peace that comes with it.
We left with our elders to the temple and had a sweet temple session with them, and I felt grateful to be able to put our new little grandson's name, along with his parents, on the prayer roll at the temple.
After the temple, we took a picture together in front in some very windy weather that had rolled in!  We then went back to the mission home for dinner.  We also were able to speak with our kids and know that the baby was in good hands, and on oxygen to help him.  The pediatrician said he was the 'wellest' baby he had ever sent to the NICU.  So, we were very hopeful.
After dinner we had our usual testimony meeting with these departing missionaries, which I always love.  I love to hear them share their thoughts on their missions and on the Savior.  I wish everyone could experience a 'final missionary testimony meeting'.  It is quite a special experience.
Wednesday morning we took these wonderful missionaries to the airport and sent them on their way to reunite with their families.
Then Wednesday afternoon we went back to the airport to pick up 16 new missionaries straight from the MTC!  We just love getting new missionaries filled with faith, enthusiasm, and energy!  It revitalizes us!  We came back to the mission home for our usual training and dinner with them.  It is so fun to just get to know them and chat with them and welcome them to the great Canada Calgary Mission!  We also got word that night that our little Remi was doing great, and was off his oxygen, and they thought he would come home on Thursday--only 2 days in the NICU!  What a blessing!  He is so sweet and his parents were so anxious to hold him and snuggle him.  They were all troopers through the whole ordeal--and we felt like prayers had definitely been answered.  I don't know what people do who don't believe in a loving Heavenly Father and don't know that they can pray to Him for His help.  He is there and he listens and He answers prayers.
Thursday was our usual transfer day and all of our missionaries got their new companions and went to their new areas.  I love watching transfer day unfold!  Missionaries coming and going, some tears being shed, many hugs given, and lots of love and laughter.  It's a great thing to watch!  And we only had one backpack left behind and one bag of bedding!  But we found the owners and everything worked out!
So, it was a few days of emotional highs and lows, but in the end it all turned out just perfectly.
Little Remi in the NICU at one hospital with his dad and face timing with his mom in the other hospital!

At the temple with our 10 departing elders!

I told Elder Ajeman that I would drink 2 gulps of his unhealthy soda pop before he goes home-the one I always tell him not to drink!

Our new missionaries at the airport!

Elder Cushman with the trailer loaded up on transfer day!

Transfer day--2 of our German elders in the middle!

Mom, Dad and baby all reunited!  Joyful!