Thursday, March 15, 2018

Few more pics!

We've had record snows in Calgary this year!  We are soooo ready for spring!

Our mission leadership council-March 7, 2018---these are great leaders!

Our first little granddaughter on her blessing day-- Nina! 

Lethbridge Zone setting up their smartphones!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Another transfer week come and gone!

Last week we had another great transfer week!  We took 19 departing missionaries to the Calgary Temple on Tuesday afternoon, which as I've said before, is always special.  I love seeing these missionaries dressed in their white temple clothes!  And we then came back to have a yummy meal made by Natasha--and her desserts are even more yummy!  I couldn't resist the ones she made this week!  Then on Wednesday morning we got up early to take 2 missionaries to the airport early, at 6:00 a.m.  After getting those two off, we came back to the mission home and I even got a chance to exercise, before cleaning up and taking 16 more out to the airport to catch their flights. There is such a bittersweet feeling as we send these departing missionaries home.  We will miss them, but after listening to their final testimonies and seeing how they have grown throughout their missions, we are excited to send them into their next phase of life.   It took us so long to get those ones off that we just stayed there to greet our 12 new ones coming in at 1:30.  But by the time they got through customs, it was really about 3:15 or so.  We love greeting these new ones and seeing their enthusiasm and excitement.  We love welcoming them into the great Canada Calgary Mission.
We took the new ones to the mission home for our regular training with our senior couples serving in the office, and then we had a great meal (again, made by Natasha), followed up with a little more training with the assistants, and then we got them to their hotel for a fairly early bedtime.  Then we took our last missionary to the airport at 10:00 p.m. to catch her flight to Mexico!  3 Trips to the airport in one day! Crazy!
The next morning, on our regular transfer day, they were all able to meet their companions and go to their assigned areas.  I love seeing this!  As great as the MTC is, this is where they really feel like their mission has begun--they are really here and ready to go to work!
It was a good transfer and all went well!
Saturday after transfers we began interviews as we drove to Medicine Hat to participate in a Stake Conference with Elder Brian L. Rawson of the Seventy.  And of course, as we got on the infamous Highway 1, the wind was blowing drifting snow, visibility was poor, and we began to wonder if we were once again, going to get stranded on that highway!  But, we made it through!  We had a great stake conference, and afterwards we were able to FaceTime in and watch the baby blessing of our first little granddaughter, Nina!  It tugged at our heartstrings a little (again) to not be able to be there for this special event..but we are grateful for modern technology that allowed us to listen in and hear the beautiful blessing our son-in-law Jordan gave.
President and Sister Salmon invited us for lunch after, along with Elder and Sister Rawson, and we had such an enjoyable time with them.  We have so grown to love the Stake Presidents and their wives that we serve with.  They are such GOOD people, and we cherish our friendships with them.
We made it back safely to Calgary by 7:00 Sunday evening in time for a 7:00 meeting with our assistants.  This transfer we sent Elder Wolfe back out to be a regular missionary, and a new assistant, Elder Chapman was called.  We are so grateful for Elder Wolfe's service, and are excited to work with Elder Chapman and know that he will be great, as well.  These young missionaries are amazing!
Tuesday we were able to pick up one more missionary, who came late because of Visa troubles, and get him to his companion!  So we really had 13 arrive for this transfer.
Today we held our Mission Leadership Council in Lethbridge, and all of our leaders have their new smartphones, and most of our training today was on using these devices as a missionary.  We are really so excited for them to have this capability.  They are already thinking of wonderful things they can do to further the work, and they have a great desire to be obedient with them.  We know as they do this, they will see great things happen.  We are so proud of them, and of their righteous desires.
It is a privilege and blessing to serve with them.  We just love them.
Our departing missionaries at the temple

All the departing missionaries in the mission home before leaving!

Our garage full of luggage at transfer time!

Elders Grinwis, Chapman, Wolfe- enjoying Chik-fil-a before picking up new missionaries 

Our new missionaries at the airport!

Fun visit from former missionaries, Austin Dredge, Hunter Murdock

Our amazing family at Nina's baby blessing.

Elder Pole'o meeting his new companion, Elder Walquist.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beautiful baptisms!

As I've said before, one of the special things we get to do in this calling is attend convert baptisms.  We aren't able to get to all of them because of conflicts in or schedule, but when we can we always do.  This past weekend we were able to attend three and they were all beautiful.  We were able to see three sweet children, Xander, Damien, and Isabelle all be baptized.  They live with their grandparents who are raising them, and the grandparents are also taking the lessons and wanting to be baptized, yet they struggle with smoking, which they are trying so hard to overcome.  But the grandmother told everyone at the baptism that it will happen!  And she also expressed how grateful she was for the way everyone loved them and treated them and welcomed them at church.  I have come to realize more than ever how we need to be so matter how people look, dress, or smell.  We can tend to make quick judgments if we happen to smell smoke on someone sitting next to us at church--and yet they might desperately be trying to overcome that habit and repent of it.  They need us to love them and encourage them as they try to change their lives and come closer to the Savior.  I've also seen here how people who are recent converts or who are investigating the church might come to sacrament meeting wearing jeans or other every day clothes.  We need to remember that they are learning...they've never been to a church where people dress up.  And as they grow in their faith and learn more of the Savior, they will come to realize that we wear our best clothing because as we do, it shows the Lord we want to be at our best in his house.  And as we love them and accept them, we can help teach them these things.
We were also able to watch the baptism of Lily, in our Mandarin branch, and also of Elizabeth, who was baptized in the Midnapore ward in south Calgary.  She was introduced to the church through her friend of 27 years.  It was such a beautiful baptism as well.  It really is a privilege and blessing for us to see these people change their lives as they take the lessons and feel the spirit and begin to experience the atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives as they repent and come closer to him.  It's an incredible thing to see.
Last Friday we held our training meeting for the missionaries that will be training the new missionaries that arrive tomorrow.  They were all excited to receive the assignment to train, and we know they will be great.  We feel like we are being blessed with wonderful missionaries coming to our mission.  It's so fun to see how missionaries grow and progress--some of these trainers have just finished being trained, so they have only been out 3 months!  And others have been out over 18 months, and some anywhere in between that.  But we know as they are obedient and faithful the Lord will bless them and help them.  There is a lot of trust given to a trainer.  We know they can help set the tone for the new missionaries whole mission.
One of the more difficult things  we do on our mission is deliver the sad news of the death of a grandparent, or friend, or some other loved one to a missionary.  We never like making those calls.  It is very difficult for them to be away from home when they get that news.  We have had many missionaries lose their grandparents.  Some have lost family friends, some cousins, and a few have lost parents.  We always pray that they will each feel the peace and love that only the Savior can give.  We have also seen how the glorious Plan of Salvation becomes ever more meaningful to them--and as they teach it, they have more conviction as they tell someone that because of our Savior, there is life after death and we will all be resurrected, and that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us.
It is through some of these difficult times that their testimonies grow the most.
We were invited to have dinner with the cute Sandoval family and Hermanas Vera and Smith--best Mexican food!

Hotdog lunch with all of our missionaries who will be training new missionaries!

Sisters Romo & Carillo with Damien, Xander & Izzy at their baptism.

Baptism of Lily with Elders Chan and Tu.

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