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!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ready for transfer week!

Last week we prepared for our transfer week this week--we did departing interviews with the missionaries that are going home, and we held our New Trainers' meeting for  the 16 missionaries that will be training the new missionaries arriving tomorrow.  This is always an exciting meeting as they receive an assignment to train.  Our assistants, Elder Grinwis and Elder Wolfe, gave great training for these new missionaries, and we had a lot of good discussion on what they have learned and how they will apply it going forward.  Afterwards we had a hotdog lunch upstairs in the mission home.
On Friday afternoon we drove to BC to not only participate in a stake conference there with Elder Matthew Carpenter of the Seventy, but to finish up our last zone's interviews for the transfer.  This is a little later than we usually like to do interviews, but being we had a stake conference to be to there, we put the two together so we wouldn't have to make the trip way out there twice.  It was a beautiful drive out--there are still so many yellow leaves on the trees in BC, and they had had just a little bit of snow, so it frosted the trees and was spectacular!  We're always grateful for good weather driving out there, because we've had some pretty treacherous conditions in the mountains passes there.  We had wonderful stake conference meetings and Steve was able to participate in trainings with bishoprics and ward mission leaders regarding the work which were very valuable.  We have been at a stake conference in the Lethbridge West stake before with Elder Carpenter, and we really enjoy him.  He was very inspiring, and also very genuine.
Today we go to the temple with 10 departing elders, who we will put on a plane tomorrow morning.  We are so grateful for their service and testimonies and faith.  It is a joy to see how they have grown in the gospel.  Every single one.  And we are so grateful to have worked with them in this great work of salvation.
Tomorrow we welcome 16 new missionaries!  We can't wait to meet them and have them be part of the great Canada Calgary Mission!
Love visits from our returned missionaries-Ashley King, Cassidy Taylor

Hotdog lunch with all the missionaries that will be training this transfer!

Beautiful landscape on the way to BC!

Elder DeYoung enjoying a cupcake in our car on the way back to Calgary from BC-he leaves tomorrow!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Another busy week-Getting to see our Baby!

The past few days we did more interviews-Wednesday and Thursday, and when we finished on Thursday we went to the airport to meet our kids, Brad, Katy and Sam, Drew and Baby Jake.  This was our first time seeing sweet little Jake since his birth on June 19!  Suffice it to say, we were beyond thrilled to meet this new little grandson, and to see our Sam and Drew!  It was a great day and  we were so happy to have them staying with us at the mission home!
On Friday we held our retrainers meeting with all of our new missionaries and their trainers.  We love this meeting because the new missionaries have now been out one whole month, and are beginning to feel what it is really like to be a missionary.  They are learning so much, yet they are also teaching so much.  They have great faith, and they are ready to work, and are so excited about the work, and it really helps their companions.  We had a great meeting.  The assistants trained on using Preach My Gospel in conjunction with the Book of Mormon.  It was just super.  I trained on our Standards of Excellence and Steve talked with them about what they have learned, and how they are applying it, and he also read some great scriptures with them reminding them of how amazing their calling is.  We felt like everyone was doing quite well, and are excited to watch them go forward.  One of the joys of this calling is seeing the missionaries come out brand new, and then to watch them grow in the gospel over 18 months to 2 years.  We really see how they are transformed as they come to know their Savior as never before.  It is a remarkable thing to watch.
This upcoming week is our week to prepare for transfers and do the interviews with the departing missionaries.  It is always a good week, and we will be going to BC for their interviews and a stake conference for the weekend.  Looking forward to it all!
Meeting our little grandsons at the airport-seeing baby Jake for the first time!

We had 23 pizzas for lunch after retrainers meeting!

Sisters having lunch after retrainers meeting!

Drew and Sam with all of the elders at Retrainers Meeting!

Drew and Sam with all the sisters!!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Zone Conferences, General Conference

We completed all of our zone conferences last week,  and each one was just so inspiring.  We had a big discussion on working with our members and what member/missionary work involves.  It was something our Mission Leadership Council felt our mission needed, and as we had the discussion and addressed the concerns, we knew it was the right thing to be training on at this zone conference.  We also had everyone come prepared to teach 'How to introduce the Book of Mormon' and 'Teaching someone to Pray' from Preach my Gospel and the pamphlets.  That was fun-everyone had to role play with each other and some had to do it in front of everyone.  We continue to emphasize how important it is to invite people to read the Book of Mormon since it is the keystone of our religion.  And then to have it so re-emphasized by our apostles at General Conference was great!  Our missionaries absolutely love watching General Conference.  It gives them the faith they need to do this work, and they are always so excited to watch it.  Steve and I just loved watching it as well.  We are so grateful for our church leaders and how they lead and teach us what the Lord would want us to know at this time.  We were saddened by the death of Elder Hales, and so were our missionaries.  They really do love the apostles.   We know they are men called of God by priesthood authority to lead the church.
We were also saddened with the tragic event in Las Vegas.  One of our missionaries lost his cousin in those shootings, and it was beyond difficult to deliver that news to him.  We have been praying for him and his family as they mourn the loss of their cousin, nephew, and son.  We are grateful this elder has a strong testimony of the plan of salvation, and for his amazing testimony.  Yet we know his heart is aching and pray he will feel the love and peace of the Savior.
On Sunday after General Conference we drove 3 hours to Medicine Hat so we could do their interviews the next day.  When we woke up it was a complete blizzard!  Heavy snow was coming down, and the winds were blowing like crazy.   We attended a district meeting with one district in the morning, and then did some interviews with them and then began the drive up to Brooks to interview the sisters serving there.  Brooks is normally about an hour drive.  But the weather conditions were so bad we had to travel very slowly--there were wind gusts from 60 to 90 mph and the drifting snow was a real problem.  Finally about 12 kilometers outside of Brooks all traffic stopped.  It was about 4:30 by now--so that shows you how slow we had been going.  There were many semis stopped and quite a few regular cars as well.  We found out that we could be there for hours, stuck on the freeway!  And since our car was very low on gas (lesson #1 learned--always fill up with gas!) we couldn't continue to run it to keep the heater going, because we needed to conserve fuel for when the road was open so we could make it to Brooks.  So, we sat in the car until we were getting pretty cold, and then we asked a trucker if we could come in his cab!  Turns out we found the nicest trucker around--Bill Leonard!  He invited us in, and we could tell he was pretty excited to have company to talk to!  We found out he had been a trucker for 44 years.  He was a great guy, and we had a lot of fun talking with him.  Because he had one of those radios in his truck, he could fill us in on what was happening.  We found out there was a semi with double trailers turned over blocking both sides of the freeway, which was one big problem, and then there were 8 foot snow drifts wreaking havoc with cars and semis.  By about 1:30 am we figured we would be there all night, but then the police came and told us if we could back up about 200 yards, we could cross over onto the south bound freeway and travel north to where they had cleared the northbound freeway.  So, we jumped in our car, and Bill also backed up his rig, and a few more cars and semis behind us and we all crossed over and slowly went on our way.
We arrived in Brooks and found a hotel about 3:45 am.  We were so grateful for Bill's kindness.  It reminded us again that there are many good people in the world!  He knew about Mormons and has been to temple square several times because one of his trucker friends who was Mormon invited him there.  He said he has also read about half of the Book of Mormon and really enjoyed it.  We encouraged him to read it again.  We exchanged phone numbers at the end so we could stay in touch.
We felt blessed to have made it safely, even if it was one long night!
This week we continue on with interviews and will have them all complete by October 14.  Just in time for transfer week!

Park Lake Provincial Park-after zone conference we had some time to go see this park and enjoy the fall leaves

Park Lake

Sisters HoChing & Romney trying to persuade Steve to become a Y fan with a  tie pin and frig magnet!

Snowstorm on October 2!

Inside trucker Bill's cab!