Saturday, July 14, 2018

Final Blog!

Well, we have been home now for 14 days, and they have flown by since we have been so busy!
We had a wonderful final week in the mission as we said good-by to 21 elders and sisters and then welcomed in 16 new missionaries--14 sisters and 2 elders!  These missionaries were actually able to meet President and Sister Keung in the MTC, which was a real treat for all of them!  So, when they arrived at the airport, we really felt like we were welcoming them on behalf of the Keung's.  But, we immediately grew to love them, even though we would not serve with them at all!  We were excited for them to be in the great Canada Calgary Mission and to move the work along.
On Friday afternoon we were able to pick up President and Sister Keung from the airport, and it was so great to welcome them here!  We just felt an instant love for each other as we met and hugged each other.  We know they will be such a blessing for this mission, and they are exactly what the missionaries and the mission needs at this time.  We are so excited for them to have this experience and have the blessing of being with these great missionaries.  There really is nothing that compares to this calling and serving in this capacity.  My testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ has been strengthened in ways I never imagined as I have come to rely on Him and trust in Him as never before.  My testimony that this is the Lord's work has also been strengthened...I have seen His hand on almost a daily basis, in so many small ways, with not only our missionaries but with Steve and I.  I have felt of His goodness and love in abundance as I have seen Him bless our family in our absence, and have seen Him bless His missionaries as they go out to declare His gospel.  It is truly an incredibly remarkable, spiritual, grueling, demanding, rewarding experience!
Anyway, after we picked up the Keung's, we took them to the mission office to meet the couples serving there, and then we took them back to the mission home for a quick tour of it, and then Steve sat down with President Keung, and I sat down with Sister Keung to go over the few administrative items we each needed to cover.  We then took them to an early dinner at a nice little bistro, and went back to the mission home for them to meet with the assistants and two of our sister trainer leaders to go out teaching with them.  We all had a prayer together and hugged and said our good-byes.  It was such a strange feeling!  But good, too.
We then went to the Marriott Hotel at the airport for our final night in Canada.  We flew home at 2:00 on Saturday afternoon June 30 and were greeted by our 9 grandchildren, our 8 children, and our extended family!  It was such a thrill to come down that escalator and hear our little grandchildren screaming and waving their home-made signs!  I couldn't get enough hugs from each of them!  It was the best!
Three years is a long time to be away, but we are so grateful for the privilege and blessing it was to serve.  We are still humbled that we were asked to do it.  We have a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We love Him.  We know He lives.  We know the Book of Mormon is truly a second witness of Him, and was translated through divine means by the prophet, Joseph Smith.  We know He was the prophet of the restoration, and that we are led by a living prophet today, President Russell M. Nelson.  We LOVE the gospel of Jesus Christ!  Living it has brought so much happiness into our lives.  It gives us the peace, direction and hope that we need.  We wish everyone could know of it--and that is why God calls His missionaries to go out and teach everyone!  Our desire now is to be good member missionaries while we are back home!

Picking up President and Sister Keung at the airport!

Oldest grandson Miles with his sign-check out the  line through the  Canada flag!

Finn with his sign!

Wy with his sign!

Wy and Beck! Our 3 year olds!

Steve looking at all the signs from the grandkids!

Loving hugs from our boys!

Hugging our only granddaughter, Nina!

Hugging my mom!

All of our family together again!

Steve with his older brother Dick!  Happy reunion!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Moving van came, Final Stake Conference!

Well, I guess we really are going home since the moving company came on Tuesday and loaded up all of our belongings!  We really are just living with the things we can pack into our suitcases now!  I'm hoping mine will all fit!
The remodel of the mission home is completed, but there is cleaning to be done, draperies to be steamed, and a few odds and ends.  It looks beautiful and will be so nice for President and Sister Keung when they arrive on Friday.  There is such a great spirit in the mission home, and we have really missed living in it for the past month and a half.  Hotel living, even in a good hotel, is just that--hotel living!
This past week we held our New Trainer's meeting for all of the missionaries that will train the 16 new ones arriving this week.  It was such a great meeting!  We really left this meeting feeling like these new missionaries will be in good hands!  It is really weird to think that we won't be here to watch them progress.  We love watching the new missionaries come, and then be able to see them grow and blossom and gain confidence and everything else that happens in the first transfer.  We will miss that.  We will miss this whole mission experience--what an incredible blessing it has been for us.
We feel so privileged to have been able to serve in this capacity.
On Thursday evening a little social gathering was held for us for all the Stake Presidencies in the Calgary area to come and say good-by.  We have so grown to love these good men and their wives and are so grateful for the friendships that have been created.  One of the great blessings of serving in the church are the friendships that are made because of that service.  We know that we will be able to stay in touch for years to come, and are looking forward to it.
Friday we had a fun dinner at the Stephen's home with our mission presidency.  We have loved serving with the Gedlaman's and the Stephen's and are so grateful for their friendship and their devotion to the work.  Steve also released them that night as his counselors!  It was hard to hug them good-by!  We love them!
This Saturday we participated in the final stake conference of our mission, the Fish Creek Stake Conference with President Kipp Craig.  Originally we thought we were speaking only on Sunday morning, but when we looked on the program on Saturday evening, there were our names!  And also on Sunday morning!  So, I took a little gulp, said a silent prayer, and just shared what came to my mind.  I have learned to trust in the Lord to 'give me what to say in the very hour' when I need it.  He is so kind and merciful and wants to bless us.  I mean, He really wants to bless us!  It was such a great stake conference, filled with the spirit, as we learned more about ministering as the Savior would have us do.  And the music was incredible--I have loved listening to all of the choirs in the stake conferences!  Today, for the intermediate hymn we all stood to sing "The Spirit of God".  I have never felt more power as the whole stake stood in unison to sing that hymn than today.  There was an outpouring of the spirit, and as the hymn says, 'the spirit of God like a fire is burning'--I really felt that today as it was sung.  We were so grateful to be there.
We have attended about 27-28 stake conferences a year--so in doing the math, that's about 80 or so!
And have spoken in at least one or more of the sessions.  It's been such a blessing, but I am happy to go sit in the congregation now!
We are looking forward to our transfer week this week!  We say good-by to 21 missionaries on Wednesday morning and welcome 16 new ones that afternoon!  It's always a fun week.  This one is different for us, because we welcome them really for President and Sister Keung.  I actually think the Keung's will be able to meet them in the MTC on Tuesday, because they are there at their New Mission President's Seminar--so that would be wonderful if they do!
As our mission comes to a close, it is beyond difficult to articulate my feelings for this experience.  I will be forever grateful to the Lord for letting us have this time to serve with these incredible missionaries and be part of the gathering of Israel.
Boxed and ready to load!

Moving van is here!

President and Sister Nzojibwame of the West Stake, and us!

Us and President and Sister Thompson of the Bow River Stake

Us and President and Sister Craig of the Fish Creek Stake

lunch at New Trainer's meeting!

All of our New Trainers! They will be awesome!

Fun visit from two of our returned missionaries-Cally Rumbolt and Courtney Messick!

Us with Sassa & Tony Stephen- Steve's second counselor in the mission presidency.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Final Zone Conferences of our Mission!

Well, on Thursday and Friday we held the final zone conferences of our mission.  It was a tender time.  Because of the 5 week transfer we have, we didn't have enough days to do full zone conferences, so we held two each day for 3 hours each.  On Thursday we held two in Calgary and on Friday we held two in Lethbridge.  They were wonderful, and there was a great spirit there as we discussed what we have learned from President Nelson since he has become the prophet.  The missionaries have all felt he is asking us all to 'rise up' and they love his enthusiasm and faith.  They all feel more committed to stay on the covenant path as he has asked us to do, and are so inspired by him.
We also had the missionaries break into groups and answer the question, "Why do we strive to be exactly obedient?"  It was a fantastic discussion afterwards as they shared scriptures about how we are blessed because of our obedience.  They also came to realize that as we choose to be more obedient we are fighting off the natural man and becoming more like Christ.  It is also one more way to show our level of conversion, and to live a more consecrated life.  They began to really realize that as we keep the commandments and the rules of the missionary handbook, we are allowing the Lord to bless us more.  It was such a great discussion.  I love the insights the missionaries always have to share.
We also spoke to them about the transition in 2 weeks when President and Sister Keung arrive to lead this great mission, and reassured them of our witness that they have been called of God at this time.  I know some of them have a little anxiety about it, but many said they have just had a peaceful feeling that it will be good, for which I am so thankful!  I know the Keung's will be such a blessing and I am excited for them to come have this experience and serve with these amazing missionaries.
Steve and I each took a little time to just share with them some things from our heart, and then we had a testimony meeting which is always powerful!  I wish everyone could hear a missionary testimony meeting.  There is such a strong spirit there.  And I love seeing missionaries grow in their faith and testimony.  We had some share their testimonies who when they first came out were so shy and nervous, and to see them stand and boldly declare what they know is quite a miracle!  That is truly one of the coolest parts about our calling!
We are so grateful for this experience and privilege to lead these missionaries and be part of this great work.  It is a time we will always cherish!
Our Bow River, Confederation Park, Fish Creek and Foothill Zones

Missionaries signing my tablecloth!

Sister Ziegner bought me German chocolate!

Our 2 elders from Spain-Elders Isern and DelMolino

Our Calgary, Calgary North, and Calgary West Zones

Our Lethbridge East, Medicine Hat, and British Columbia Zones

Our Lethbridge and Cardston Zones

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Visit from the Prophet!

Pictures with the Medicine Hat zone at their meeting on Monday!

They wanted a selfie picture!  Love them!
Well, it was quite an incredible weekend.  First off we participated in the Taber Stake Conference with President Baldry, the stake president, and Elder Thomas Priday of the Seventy.  We stayed with the Baldry's at their home Saturday evening, and they, as always, are so gracious and good to us!  They save their 'special' room downstairs for us and even leave us chocolates!  They are too good to us and we have grown to love them so much.  One of the greatest blessings of this mission has been the friendships we have developed with the stake presidents and their wives.  They are such good people, all of them, and we are so grateful for their support in this missionary work.  After the conference we were invited back to their home for a yummy lunch before we needed to leave for Raymond to see the prophet.
In Raymond we were invited to participate in the dinner with the prophet prior to the devotional.  It was held in an upstairs room (this is a pretty unique building!).  All of the tables were decorated by the cute little Achievement Day girls, and they left little messages for the prophet which were so cute.
Sister Nelson took him around and introduced him to all of her extended family and close friends that were invited to the dinner.  When it was our turn, we not only got a handshake, but a hug from the prophet!  He held both of my hands in his and asked how I was doing, to which I replied, "So good!"
How can you not be good when the prophet has just embraced you and is tenderly holding your hands? It was quite a special experience!
We were also able to shake Elder and Sister Rasband's hands and they thanked us for our service, and wished us luck as we return home.
The devotional was amazing-to hear from both Sister Rasband and Sister Nelson and Elder Rasband and then the prophet!  We were able to sit right behind them all, and it was just so special to be in their presence.  I just kept looking at President Nelson and thinking to myself, "I'm sitting right here by the prophet!"  It was a sweet experience to have close to the end of our mission.
I have such a testimony of a living prophet, and since President Nelson was called my testimony of them has grown even more.  He is truly leading us to do the things the Lord wants us to do.  I sustain him with all my heart, and hope I can always be found following the prophet.
Fun visit from one of our returned missionaries- Lydia Williams and her family!

This sign was on our door at  the Baldry's!

Elder Priday, President and Sister Baldry, and us, at the Baldry's home.

The room where we had dinner with the prophet.

The Raymond Stake Relief Society President presenting Sister Nelson with a quilt from all the sisters in Raymond.  President Nelson is looking on.

One of the centerpieces made by primary girls!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Interviews and our last MLC!

This last week we began our final round of interviews with our missionaries and also held our last Mission Leadership Council.  It really is an unusual feeling to be doing things for the last time.  We will be very busy up until the day we leave, but knowing that each time we interview a zone of missionaries it is our last time to do it is bittersweet.  We never anticipated the love we would feel for our missionaries, and how deeply we would care for them--so it is a tender time to know we will be leaving them.  But, we also know that the Keung's are called of the Lord and will bless this mission immensely!  From the first time we skyped with them, the spirit confirmed to me that they are the ones to take this mission to new heights.  It took all of 30 seconds to love them!  So, we know our missionaries will be in good hands, and we are excited to see what happens.
We left Calgary on Tuesday evening and met with President and Sister Lybbert of the Cardston Stake on Tuesday evening.  We have so loved the friendships we have formed here on our mission-what a blessing!  Then on Wednesday we had a great MLC with our zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  I just love this meeting!  I love the faith and excitement and dedication and hard work of these great missionaries.  They are inspiring!  Following our MLC we drove to Glenwood so Steve could do an interview of a baptismal candidate, and I was able to sit in on the baptismal interview of her 9 year old daughter, Alyssa.  It was the sweetest experience to hear this cute little girl talk about Jesus, and repentance, and be so excited to get baptized!  After her interview, she demonstrated 'the flosser' for me!  Which is a new dance I didn't know much about, except that my 8 year old grandson has been doing it!  It gave me a real laugh!
On Thursday through Saturday we did interviews with our Lethbridge, Lethbridge East and Cardston zones, and after interviews on Saturday we drove to Magrath to participate in the Stake Conference there with Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy.  He is such a humble, kind person.  We have been with him in another conference in Calgary and enjoyed that one so much.  He is quite spontaneous though--and we thought we weren't participating in any of the meetings except Sunday morning.  But he asked us to speak in the Saturday afternoon leadership session, and then again on Saturday evening.  So, we spoke in all three sessions, only one of which we were prepared for.  But, it was a wonderful conference in Magrath, and we were grateful to be there with President Maxwell.  We have really come to love all of these stake presidents, and we will miss them!  But, they all come to Utah occasionally, and we will be able to go back to see them, so our friendships will be able to continue, for which we are grateful!
After the Magrath conference we drove to Medicine Hat and were invited for dinner by President and Sister Salmon, who we have also grown to love.  We had a wonderful visit with them before heading back to our hotel room.  Tomorrow we will do interviews in Medicine Hat and be there for their district meeting and will arrive back in Calgary tomorrow night.  So, it's been a six day road trip!  We laugh because we basically go from hotel to hotel to our 'home hotel' in Calgary!
This week we will do 4 days of interviews and on Saturday will drive to Taber to participate in their Stake Conference, and then to Raymond for the visit from the prophet!  Yes, the prophet is coming to Alberta!  We can't wait!  He and Sister Nelson and Elder and Sister Rasband will be in Calgary on Saturday evening, and then on Raymond on Sunday evening.  We are just so excited for him to come!
What a thrill it will be.  I am so grateful for a living prophet here on the earth.  Our lives have been so blessed by following the counsel of the prophets.  I am so grateful for the direction they give us, which I know is from the Lord, to assist us as we meet life's challenges and just navigate through this mortal existence.  Having a prophet to lead and guide us is a manifestation of the Lord's love for us--that He doesn't leave us alone, but gives us someone to lead us!
Our Mission Leadership Council!

Sisters Fonda, Bodily & Perez with Alyssa who got baptized!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Another great transfer week!

As always we had another great transfer week!  We sent 5 wonderful elders home to their families, and welcomed 13 missionaries from 8 different countries-Finland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Cook Islands, Japan, and the United States!  It was our most diverse group yet and so fun to have them here!
 We had a wonderful temple session with our 5 departing elders on Tuesday evening as well as a special testimony meeting.  I always love hearing their final testimonies as missionaries in the field.  It is so powerful.  It is quite remarkable to see their growth over the two years they have been here--nothing short of a miracle, really.  We always pray that their faith will continue to remain strong as they go home and start their new era of life!
We went to the airport a total of 4 times on Wednesday getting missionaries to and from the airport!  Well, Steve went 4, and I went 2!  He took two elders out that had to go really early--he got up at 3:30 for that.  And we picked up our last little sister at about 11:30 Wednesday evening--so by the time we got home, it was 12:30 a.m.  We climbed into bed about 1:00 a.m. and were up again at 6:00 to be ready for our training meeting with our new missionaries.  It is always so fun to get these new missionaries straight from the MTC!  I love their enthusiasm and excitement and faith.
Thursday they all met their new trainers and went to their areas, and the rest of our missionaries being transferred all met their new companions and went to their new areas.  Transfers are such a great thing--it's a new beginning every 6 weeks!  A time to recommit, re-evaluate, and rededicate themselves to the work.  Sometimes there is some anxiety that comes with transfers and I always share this quote with our missionaries:  'Stop being afraid of what can go wrong, and start getting excited about what can go right!'  I always tell them that this might be their best companionship yet, their best area yet, and the best part of their mission--so be optimistic and hopeful and happy!
The past 3 Sundays we have actually been able to be in a sacrament meeting!  I have truly come to love being able to partake of the sacrament, because there are times when we will go 4 weeks without being able to.  I look forward to being able to renew my covenants.  Our next 4 weeks will all be stake conferences, so the next time I am able to partake of the sacrament is when I am home--that is a weird thought!  But, I have come to love this gift the Savior instituted to help us always remember Him.  I love Him.
At the temple with our 5 departing elders!
Elders MacJanet, Zolman, Reed, Pugmire & Paletua

We piled 5 elders and some big pieces of luggage into our car to get them to the hotel!

Elders Grinwis, Chapman & Grider-enjoying Chick-fil-A while waiting for new missionaries to arrive!

Elder Grider (our new assistant), Elder Grinwis (our assistant who is going back into the field)

Our brand new missionaries from the MTC!

Sister Ichimi who arrived late Wednesday night.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Hotel Living, Preparing for Transfers!

Well, we are officially living in a hotel as of Tuesday evening!  For the past month while the top floor of the mission home has been under renovation we have been living in the basement, which has worked out ok.  We still had access to the kitchen, but everything in it was full of sheetrock dust and sawdust from all the work; even though it was 'shielded' with a plastic tarp.   Then the decision was made to also tear up the floor in the kitchen and redo it with the same hardwood floor going throughout the rest of the main floor--so this brought on a little bit of a problem, being that we would not really be able to be in there, and it was so dirty, you wouldn't want to be in there!  This, compounded with the extreme noise from the hammering and sawing was making it not real conducive to studying and working.  So, on Tuesday night we moved into a Marriott Residence Inn for the next 30 days until construction is complete.  We are in a little one bedroom suite with a kitchenette, and it has a little desk area we can work at, and it's clean and quiet.  So, we are good!
We can still go to the mission home in the evenings to use our computer and printer there when we need to, so it will all work out.
This past week has been a good one--we've been preparing for our transfer week this week, so we did the interviews with the 5 departing elders that will be leaving us on Wednesday.  The missionaries always enjoy this last, longer interview with Steve.
On Friday we also held our 'New Trainer's' Meeting, with the 13 missionaries that will be training the 13 new ones coming on Wednesday.  This was a great meeting, and we are so excited for these trainers.  We think they will be just fantastic, and will teach and help these new missionaries as they come into the field.  We also called a new assistant, Elder Grider, as Elder Grinwis will be going back out to be a 'regular' missionary for his last transfer.  We have been so grateful for his service and diligence and example.  And we are excited to have Elder Grider on board with Elder Chapman.  They will play key roles as they help with the transition to a new mission president.  We know they will be great, and will be just what is needed for President and Sister Keung when they arrive.
Friday evening we had a fun visit with Evan and Kathy Thorley who served here in our office for 18 months.  They completed their mission last summer, and had come back up to visit.  It was great to see them, and I realized after they had gone, I had forgotten to get a picture with them!
Saturday we also had a visit from one of our returned missionaries, Charlotte Romney and her dad.  That was also fun, and especially to know that she and another one of our returned missionaries, Creig Jewkes, had just gotten engaged!  It has been really fun to see the weddings that have come from our mission!  What better place to meet your spouse?
We are enjoying beautiful weather and love every minute of it!  This week it could actually hit 29 celsius--which is HOT!  About 88 Fahrenheit!  That is considered high in the middle of summer!
Our missionaries are really liking it.  This past winter was so brutal, and long and cold, and the snow just kept coming.  So, no one is complaining at all about what we have now.
Today we attended the Spanish ward and enjoyed that.  It was nice to be able to partake of the sacrament again.  We will have one more week to be able to be in a sacrament meeting and then we have 4 stake conferences in a row--so I cherish the time I am able to take the sacrament.  I have come to love and appreciate it more on our mission because we haven't been able to take it on a regular basis.  It is so nice each week to recommit, and to reflect on what the Savior's atoning sacrifice means for me personally, and to just feel the power of it.  
We are looking forward to this next week and welcoming our new missionaries into the great Canada Calgary Mission!  It is always a fun week!
Our new home!

Our 'New Trainer's' Meeting! They will be great trainers!

Visit from Charlotte Romney!  Love these returned missionaries!