Sunday, April 15, 2018

Another transfer week complete!

Well, another transfer week has come and gone!  We sadly sent 5 missionaries home to their families, after completing their wonderful service here, but then we welcomed 10 new excited missionaries straight from the MTC!  Transfer week is always a week of emotions for me.  Our final testimony meeting with our departing missionaries is always so touching.  To witness the amazing missionaries they have become is nothing short of a miracle.  I wish everyone could hear their final testimonies--it is so powerful.  I'm always a little teary in that meeting!  But, I just think of their families waiting to greet them the next day, and I remember what it was like to have our missionaries come home, and it makes me so excited for them!
And then I love greeting our new missionaries at the airport and seeing their enthusiasm to be here.  It's so fun to have them come, and meet them and begin to get to know them.  I get excited for them to meet their new companions and get to their areas and begin being a missionary in the field!  Transfer week is really such a fun week!  We always tell the missionaries it is a great time to rededicate themselves to the work, and to set goals and make plans to have the best transfer ever!
Prior to transfer week we had to pack up and move downstairs to the basement of the mission home since the main floor is going to be remodeled prior to the new mission president coming in June.  So, we have a makeshift office in the training room, but it is all working out fine.  It can be a bit noisy when the workers are here hammering and pulling out tile, etc., but we make do!
On Saturday we began interviews again for this transfer, and so the cycle begins again!  Today we were able to speak in the Highlands Park YSA ward, which was really fun.  There were four non-members attending, which they were hoping to have happen.  So, we had prayed and prepared in advance something to say that might inspire them to want to investigate the church and this wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ.
 We are preparing for our Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday, and in 2 weeks we will have zone conferences.  In between those we will attend our Mission President's Seminar, which is always an incredible couple of days as we are taught by the General Authorities over our area.  So, we have a lot to do, and are excited for this new transfer.  We are so grateful for the renewal of both body and spirit as we go about this work.  So many times we feel so exhausted, but the Lord always blesses us to do His work, and we feel it.  We continue to pray that we might be an instrument in the Lord's hands to bless our missionaries and this mission and help further the missionary efforts here in the Canada Calgary Mission.  We love this gospel, and we love our Savior, and are grateful to have the blessing and privilege to be able to serve in this capacity.
Missionaries in the Bow River zone playing a p-day game!

At the temple with our 5 departing missionaries!

One more group shot at the airport before they leave to go home!

And of course, one last selfie with them!

Greeting our new missionaries at the airport!

The main floor of the mission home under renovation!  We now live in the basement!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Beautiful baptisms!

Last week we were able to attend 3 different convert baptisms.  Our schedule usually doesn't allow that to happen, but it just worked out and each one was so touching.  We were able to see a mother and her 11 year old son be baptized, Xinia & Kale Ketilson, then we saw Eulalie Akambu be baptized by her husband (talk about special!), and then Sally Deng, also be baptized.  I wish everyone could have witnessed them and have been able to hear them share their thoughts at the end.  Sally was just weeping with happiness--she said she felt so loved!  I also came to know of the importance of the members of the ward in each one of these instances.  The members really 'ministered' to each one of these sweet women, in many different ways;  always making them feel included and loved, and it made such a difference.  For every convert there is a spiritual conversion, where they have to have felt the spirit strong enough in their heart bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel for them to go forward with faith and want to be baptized.  Yet there is also a social conversion--where they truly feel adopted into a ward family, and loved and accepted.  This is so important as they are making crucial changes in their lives after having been baptized.  It is such a sweet thing to see how members fill this role, and love them, and help them along.  We each need to be aware of what more we can do for those who are investigating the church..we can give them the love they need as they are also seeking for the spirit to touch their lives.
On Friday we held our New Trainer's meeting for the missionaries that will be training our new missionaries arriving on Wednesday.  It was a great meeting and these trainers are going to be awesome!  We know they have been called by the Lord to this assignment at this time--and they will do a great job.
Sunday  morning we drove to Fort MacLeod to participate in the Stake Conference there with Elder K. David Scott of the Seventy.  We had more snow the night before and the roads weren't very good, but we made it in time!  It was a nice conference, and they had a beautiful Primary children's choir, which sounded like little angels.  We made it back safely to Calgary that afternoon to meet with our assistants to discuss the transfer this week.  We are excited to welcome 10 new missionaries on Wednesday!  And sad to see 5 go home--yet also excited for them to begin this new chapter of their lives.  It is always a revolving door in the mission field!  Every 6 weeks you sadly say good-by, and happily say hello!
Baptism of Eulalie Akambu, with Elders Leghorn and Higashi

Sisters Jorgensen, Anderson, Moffett & Hermansen at New Trainers lunch

Elders Dennison, Cleghorn, Higashi, Hatch, Tu, & Hancey (and the ward mission leader) singing at Sally's baptism with the primary children-"I Am a Child of God"
The elders at New Trainer's lunch!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Great Week!

What a great week we have just had!  We completed interviews for the transfer and on Friday we held our 'Retrainer's' meeting where all the new missionaries with their trainers come for a 2 hour training.
This is such a great meeting because we can really talk about how they are adjusting as missionaries, what they have learned, what their challenges are, and we answer questions all pertaining to missionary work.  They don't realize it, but we have already seen them grow!  Yes, some are still quite homesick, and some are still overwhelmed, but they are beginning to really feel what it is like to be a missionary and are learning to throw themselves into the work.  The quicker they can do that, the
happier they are.  Sometimes it is hard to let go of home--but as they take the counsel that President Hinckley's father gave him, to 'forget yourself and go to work', the happier they are and the more effective missionary they become.  It's quite a unique thing to witness!  After the meeting we had a pizza lunch in the cultural hall before sending everyone on their way back to their areas.
Friday night we were able to attend the baptism of Rory Swoboda.  It is just so special to attend a convert baptism!  There is nothing like the sweet spirit there as you watch someone change and follow the example of the Savior and be baptized.  It is also so cool to see how it impacts the ward members.  It really unifies a ward, and builds their faith as they watch someone take this step.
General Conference weekend was so inspiring, and our missionaries loved it.  Of course, for all of them this was the first solemn assembly they can remember, and it was very special for them to participate in it and sustain our new prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.  And then to hear of all the inspired changes that were revealed--it was quite a conference to remember!
This weekend being Easter was also the day we completed our reading of the Book of Mormon together as a mission.  It was very fitting that this time we underlined all the references to Jesus Christ, and to realize just how much the Book of Mormon testifies of Him.  We have come to realize in an even more profound way just how much this book talks of Him.  I know it was powerful for our missionaries to read it this way, and their love for their Savior grew.  I know mine did.  I know as we read and study His life in the Bible and Book of Mormon, we come to realize His great love for us, and also His great mercy, and goodness, and his perfect example.  I am so grateful to know that He suffered for me, for each of us, because of His great love for us.  And I am so grateful to know that He lives, and because of His glorious resurrection, each of us will also be resurrected and have the opportunity to live with Him forever if we remain faithful in His gospel.  What a great blessing!
To have General Conference on Easter Sunday is just the best!  Our missionaries just loved it, and were so inspired and lifted up.
We keep hoping for spring, but we have had some cold temperatures and snow!  I don't think spring is coming until at least May!  I don't think the snow in our back yard will melt until July, haha!

Sisters ready to eat pizzas at the Retrainer's meeting & lunch!

All the elders at the Retrainers meeting!

All the sisters at Retrainer's meeting!

The snow in our backyard!

Baptism of Rory Swoboda with Elders Woltron, Barnwell & White

The 'warm' spring weather in Calgary!-ugh!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Zone Conferences and Interviews

Last week we held all 4 of our zone conferences-two in Calgary, one in Lethbridge, and one in Taber. They were all so great!  Our morning was spent learning more about using our smartphones and applying the Safeguards for Technology.  There are 4 safeguards the missionaries are to follow which will help them as they incorporate the phones into their missionary work.  They are 1-Always be in tune to spiritual promptings 2-Stay focused on your mission purpose 3-Be disciplined 4- Be one.
We spent time talking about the importance of each one, how everything we do with our phones should be guided by the spirit, and as we stay focused on our purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ, stay disciplined, and be united with our companion, we really won't fail.  The missionaries are learning to 're-learn' how to use modern technology--to use it for righteous purposes, not just out of boredom.  We know it will take some re-thinking and more self-mastery, but we really know our missionaries are ready for it.  We know that all of the modern technology has been created at this time to assist in hastening the Lord's work.  If we use it righteously, amazing things will happen!  We also talked a lot about using Facebook, and using it properly, as well.  We have already seen miracles happen by using it the right way, and it is really exciting.  We know as the missionaries develop good habits about how to use their phones on their mission, it will bless them as they go home.  Missionaries will conduct 'companion device audits' with their companions, where they will trade phones, and their companion will look through their phone and be sure everything they are doing is appropriate.  We determined that if we are following the safeguards, we will really have no problem with this, because everything on our phone is about missionary work.  We trust our missionaries and are excited to see what will happen as they use these smartphones!
As always, our testimony meetings at the end of each conference were a highlight.  They are so filled with the spirit, and it is powerful to hear such beautiful testimonies from missionaries as they speak about how they are coming to know their Savior and to love Him more than ever. I wrote down some of the phrases of testimonies that were shared because they were so touching:
"I feel closer to my Savior as I read the Book of Mormon."
"I'm so grateful that the gospel has become 'delicious' to me."
"I know that Heavenly Father loves us and gave us His son."
"I do know the Savior lives.  I've been completely changed by the gospel."
"Even if it's hard I can look at the end of the day and see the little miracles."
"I feel so much joy and happiness in the gospel and I want other people to feel it."
"I know that Jesus Christ lives."
"No matter what, we always have worth in the sight of our Heavenly Father."
So, you can see why we always love zone conferences!!
We were able to attend two baptisms on Saturday, one of a young single adult named Elli, and the other of a man named Ramon.  There is really nothing like witnessing a convert baptism.  To see people accept the gospel and make significant changes in their lives is so inspiring.  We love being able to attend these baptisms.
We participated in the Lethbridge East Stake Conference that weekend, and it was a great conference with many inspiring messages.  Afterwards, President and Sister Stewart invited us to their home for lunch, along with their counselors and their families.  Somehow, they knew it was Steve's birthday and they brought out a beautiful cake and sang Happy Birthday to him.  They are so good to us!  We have really loved our friendships with the Stake Presidents.
We returned home Sunday afternoon and then on Monday began interviews again and have been conducting interviews all week long.  It has been fun to have the missionaries  tell us what they learned from zone conference the week before.
This week we have actually some some warmer days--up to 8 celsius on Tuesday, which is 46 Fahrenheit!  It was wonderful!  But today it is snowing again--but we feel like spring is coming and we can't wait!  Even the Calgarians are tired of the snow we've had!  The good weather also lifts the spirits of our missionaries, too.  It can be hard to get out on those extremely cold winter days--it's hard to go out when it's -22 out there!  So, I admire our missionaries for their determination and faith to go do the work.  We love them!
Birthday cake for Steve from the Stewarts!

Baptism of Elli with Sisters Perez and Bushman

The Lethbridge East Stake Presidency and us

Fun visit from two of our returned missionaries who announced their engagement-Brittany Robison and Tyler Harrison!

Elder Buttars and Elder Cook came out to their car after interviews to find it decorated with balloons!

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.