Monday, December 28, 2015

Book of Mormon reading

For our Christmas gift to our missionaries this year, we gave each one of them a new Book of Mormon with our testimony inside the front cover.  We then invited each one of them to read it with us beginning on Christmas Day and ending on Easter Sunday.  To do this we will need to read about 5.6 pages per day--which is so doable!  As we read, we will circle each reference to the Savior and also underline each time He speaks.
We feel this will be a powerful experience for our mission--to all be studying together this wonderful book, and to once again realize just how much it testifies of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We know that the Book of Mormon was translated through divine means by the prophet Joseph Smith, and was brought forth to bless our lives.  There is a power in that book that can't be found anywhere else.  We know it is another testament of Jesus Christ.
  If any of you would like to join us in our reading of it we would love to have you do so!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Les & Jordan and Beck arrive!

On Tuesday Leslie and Jordan flew in from Salt Lake City!  And our little Beck!  We were so excited to get them here and have them share Christmas with us in our mission.  It was so fun to take them with us to our missionary Christmas social that night and show them off.  The sister missionaries loved seeing our little Beck!  Having them here with us made being away from home much easier!
We are so grateful for each one of our children, and for their love and support.  We feel of their prayers each day.  We think each one is just an amazing person, and we are so blessed to have each one.  We are grateful for how they are raising our sweet little grandsons.  We know our little guys are being taught that they are children of a loving Heavenly Father--just like our missionaries teach their new investigators.  We are so grateful for the wonderful homes they are growing up in...where there is love and goodness and the gospel.  And fun!
Grandpa (aka President Miles) with his 6th little grandson Beck!  Showing him off at the  Christmas party.

Beck with Jordan and Les

Beck discovering the ornaments!

Christmas eve dinner with Jordan and Les

Us with our assistants- Elders Warenski and Christensen--they called their families from  our home on Christmas

snuggling my little Beck!

More fun pictures of our missionaries

Our picture of our new arriving missionaries accidentally got deleted--but we were able to retrieve it, so I wanted to post it!  Along with our new office couple- Elder and Sister Thorley.
Also, wanted to post pictures from our Christmas party in Calgary with our missionaries.  It was another great night--we had a lot of fun, but also a very spiritual night with our program.
Our new missionaries that arrived Dec. 15, 2015

Enjoying the dinner

Some of our cute sisters!

Our missionaries love to get together!

Great Christmas dinner!

Getting ready to pass white elephant gifts!

Showing off the gifts they received!

Elder and Sister Thorley

Monday, December 21, 2015

Transfer week--hellos, good-byes & Christmas Parties.

This last week was another transfer week...and boy was it a busy one.  With the new addition of a stake in Calgary it made for some very interesting changes...adding a new zone, rearranging of districts, changes of phones, cars, and other details.  We were doing a lot of praying for guidance on where missionaries should be and with whom.  And changes were being made up until the last minute.  It's funny, but Steve will have everything done on the transfer board, but will still just be unsettled on a couple of companionships, and then the inspiration will just come..and sometimes it comes at the last minute--but then it feels right.  So, he goes for it.
We welcomed on Tuesday 15 new elders, 4 of which are Visa Waiters, and 4 new sisters, 2 of which are Visa Waiters.  I still just love watching them come through those doors at the airport--to look at their faces full of excitement and nerves, and they are so tired.  They've been up since 2:00 in the morning at the MTC getting ready to come.  So, we load them in the vehicles and this time since they came in 2 hours later than usual, we dropped their luggage off at the church and brought them right to the mission home for their 'arrival dinner'.  Then we did our training on vehicles, apartments, medical, etc. after dinner.  Usually all of this happens before dinner, but we did it after.  Then the 15 elders stayed the night at the mission home, and the 4 sisters went to Steve's counselor's home- President Stephen.  They are so tired, we try to let them go to bed by 9:00!  And they love that!
On Wednesday morning, we have our more spiritual training for them.  We also let them look at a map of the mission and try to guess where they will be assigned.  That is always fun.  Following this training we have lunch at the mission home, then walk over to the church where they meet their new trainers--which is always exciting!  And then we send them on their way...I know they are filled with trepidation and nerves as they are really truly leaving to go into the field.  We are always praying for them on this day.  We are praying that they will get along with their companions, we are praying that they will feel the spirit, praying that they will be obedient, and have a desire to work hard, and praying that their faith and testimonies will grow.  And we want them to be happy!
After we got them on their way, we came home and Steve read letters and I washed 30 sheets to get them ready for missionaries coming that night and Thursday night.  Our departing missionaries come spend the  night prior to going to the temple on Thursday with us.  This is only our second time doing this..and we just love being able to to have their last day on their mission be at the temple.
So, Thursday morning we went to the first transfer station where get all the missionaries that are being transferred south come and meet so they can load in the van and get headed down.  After that, we go meet our departing missionaries for a quick bite of lunch and then go to the temple.  This temple experience is such a special time.  To just be in there with our missionaries is so wonderful.  It is really a tender time for them.  We have time to sit in the celestial room and just ponder and think, and then President Stonehocker (the temple president) takes us into another room where he visits with us and teaches us.  It is really so special.  We hope we can do this for every group of departing missionaries.  After the temple we have our last dinner with them at the mission home, which is always fun, and then we have a departing fireside at the church.  Steve and  I always have to speak at this, after the missionaries have shared their testimonies, and it is such an emotional time for me to talk to these missionaries.  The longer we are here, the tougher it gets because the longer you have them the more you grow to love them!  Steve teased me the yesterday saying, 'I have never known you to cry so much!'  Yes, I have turned into a real crier!
Friday morning is even worse because we have to put these missionaries on a plane and send them home!  We gather in the living room of the mission home and sing one last time, "I Know that My Redeemer Lives".  That is always touching.  Then we all kneel together and Steve offers a final prayer before we go.  There is such a strong spirit there--and it is so hard to hug these missionaries and say good bye.  Then off to the airport we go.
This week we also welcomed Evan and Kathy Thorley to our mission, they are going to serve for 18 months in our office, and are from our home ward in Sandy.  We are so excited to have them come!  They came at about the busiest week ever!  They got thrown right into transfers and parties!  Next week they will begin learning all of their office duties.
Elder Bunch & Elder Sanderson showing off their white elephant gifts!- cut outs of other missionaries!

Then, this week on Saturday we held a Christmas social for all of our missionaries down south.  It was so fun!  Our wonderful office staff made a delicious Christmas lunch-ham, baked potatoes, caesar salad, rolls, and dessert.  Then we had a fun white elephant exchange and afterwards went into the chapel for a program where we had some of our missionaries share their musical talents--singing, violin, and piano.  We have some very talented missionaries!  We also had missionaries read the story of the nativity in Luke in Mandarin, Spanish and then English, so those are the languages used by missionaries in our mission.  It was really neat to hear those.  The little sister who did it in English, Sister Lyu, is from Taiwan, and hardly spoke any English when she got here..and when she stood and read in the scriptures about the birth of the Savior it was the sweetest thing you have ever heard.
For a gift for our missionaries Steve and I gave them each a copy of the Book of Mormon with our testimony in it, and we asked them to read it with us beginning on Christmas Day, and we will finish on Easter.  It will mean we will read about 5.6 pages per day.  As we read, we are going to circle every reference to the Savior.  We are really excited to do this as a whole mission, and to feel the power of that great book and how it testifies of Christ.  And to be united in our effort we think will be very powerful.  So, all in all, it has been a wonderful, busy, emotional week!
On Tuesday we will have another Christmas party for all the missionaries in Calgary, which we are looking forward to.  And then we have Leslie and Jordan and baby Beck coming to visit for Christmas, which will be so fun.  And after they leave Brad and Katy with Sam and Drew will come spend a few days.  We can't wait to see all of them and have them see our mission!
Dinner for our new missionaries!

At the temple with our departing missionaries

Us with Elder and Sister Halladay-she is our nurse in Medicine Hat and  he  works in housing.  We love them!

Washing sheets after missionaries have slept here!

Our new missionaries shoveling the snow on Wednesday morning!

Brother and Sister-
Elder and Sister Ince--he is our regular missionary, she is waiting for her visa here in our mission!

In two circles getting ready for the white elephant exchange!

Showing off white elephant gifts!

More crazy gifts!

The elders loving their white elephants!

The t-shirt has President Miles face on it!

More gifts!

Our Christmas social turned out to be a great success.  We had a lot of fun, and then we also had a  wonderful meeting where we felt the spirit and remembered the true meaning of Christmas.  We wish everyone who reads this blog a very Merry Christmas, and share our testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We know that the tiny babe born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is our redeemer, and the savior of the world.  We are so grateful for his life and his atoning sacrifice for each of us.  We love this season to be able to celebrate his birth.
Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 14, 2015

First Tim Tam Slam, First visit to Drumheller

This week we were able to attend the play, "Savior of the World" down in Cardston.  It was really nice--put on by local people from that town.  The next morning we went to a district meeting there and had a great meeting with that district.  Elder Dial gave great training, and we role-played teaching someone about repentance from the pamphlets.  I was able to role play with Elder Thompson, who did a great job.  I was a little dusty--so I need to practice up! After the meeting, Elder Dial served us our first Tim Tam with hot chocolate!  This is a little chocolate caramel bar, and you bite off the opposite corners of it, dip it in the hot chocolate, suck up the hot chocolate through it which melts it a bit, and then you eat it!  It was yummy!  We had heard about these 'Tim Tam Slams' before--so it was fun to experience it!
We had a busy week just preparing for the transfer this week.  On Friday we had our meeting for our new trainers.  We have 12 elders and 2 sisters all training our new missionaries coming in.  We also have 6 Visa Waiters coming as well, so they will all be in 3-leg companionships and serve there until their visas come.  Our visa waiters have been great.  We wish we could keep them!  This week, between taking Visa Waiters to the airport, picking up our new missionaries, and taking all of our departing missionaries out, we will have gone to the airport 8 times!  Three of our visa waiters have had to be at the airport at 4:30 in the morning!  That gets a bit crazy for us.  Last night (Sunday) we drove one to the airport to be there at 10:00.  After getting him all checked in and on his way we got home and into bed about 11:30, and then Steve had to get up at 4:00 to take another one to the airport...I volunteered to stay home and sleep--ha ha!  Tomorrow morning he will be taking another elder to the airport at 4:30 a.m. as well.  Then at 2:00 all of our new missionaries from the MTC will be arriving!
It is always so exciting.
Last night we were also able to attend the Calgary South (or new Fish Creek Stake) Christmas Choir Festival.  It was amazing--so much talent.  Singers, pianists, cellists, flutists, drummers-- it was really a great night filled with wonderful Christmas music.  We really enjoyed it.  And we loved looking up and seeing two of our elders singing in the choir!  Elder Todd and Elder King.  I love that!
This week will be an incredibly busy week with transfers, and then on Saturday we are having our southern Christmas social for our missionaries in the southern zones--about 100 of them!  We will be serving a wonderful lunch (ham, potatoes, salads, desserts) for them, and then having a devotional.  All of our office couples are helping to put on this function--they are doing most of it.  They are the best.  No one knows how much work goes on in a mission office.  We are so grateful for all of our senior couples that serve so willingly.  We don't know what we would do without them.  Then we will hold another social for our zones in Calgary on Tuesday night the 22nd.  I keep praying that I will be strengthened to make it through everything that will go on this week.  Transfer week is always a happy and sad week--welcoming new ones in, and saying good bye to the old ones.  I hate the good-bye part.  The longer you are with them, the harder it becomes.
This is our first Christmas season on our mission, and we haven't really known what to expect.  For the most part, it is just the same--the work keeps going and going and going!  We know our missionaries are excited to make their Christmas phone calls to their families.  And some of them are a bit sad to be transferred right before Christmas, as they have grown to love their areas and the people in them.  But we have felt the Lord's hand in the transfer process and we hope they will too.
District meeting with our Cardston district

Our first Tim Tam Slam!

We got the Christmas tree put up in the mission home!

On Sunday we had our first visit to Drumheller- which is about
1 hour 40 minutes from Calgary.  It is known for its dinosaur artifacts and museum.  We spoke in the branch there on Sunday morning.  It is a town of about 8000 people.