Monday, August 31, 2015


I forgot to put this picture of this teepee in my last post.  When we were driving to Cardston we stopped by JoAnn's--she is a woman we visited with the elders on a teaching appointment  over a month ago.  She is from the Indian tribe First Blood...she is a returned missionary that actually served in Salt Lake City back in 1980.  Unfortunately, she had a really bad car accident about 5 years ago and suffered severe head trauma and other broken bones.  She has recovered quite well, but still loses her short term memory sometimes.  She is a really wonderful person, and is trying to help the natives here in Canada.  This teepee is a real Blackfoot teepee--they had just set it up that day.  This one is made of canvas, and not hides, but the poles were gathered from the reservation.  It was really neat to go inside and see it all.
Blackfoot TeePee

Last week we completed our Zone Conferences with our southern zones.  We have already come to love Zone Conferences and the chance to be with our missionaries and learn and train together.  We are so impressed by their faith and desire to serve and the highlight of each conference is the testimony meeting at the end.  They are so uplifting for us.  These missionaries are each coming to know the Savior as they never have before.
These zones also loved the game portion we implemented and are happy to know we will be doing it at each zone conference...but they also know they better get studying Preach My Gospel, the White Handbook, and the scriptures, because the questions come from these three sources!
We have also had some beautiful musical numbers in our conferences.  We have some talented missionaries--violinists, pianists, singers, etc.  It is so fun to see them share their talents.
We also were able to attend our first Corn Bust here in Canada.  There is a city named Taber in southern Alberta--where we had one of our zone conferences-and it is famous for the corn it grows.  So, our missionaries there invited us to their ward's corn bust.  Everyone just brings any potluck dish, and then they have tons of corn and big cubes of butter to roll it in.  And let me tell you--it is delicious corn!  We thoroughly enjoyed it and it was fun to meet the ward members and the bishop.
This week we traveled to BC for our zone conference there.  It is usually such a beautiful ride, but because of the fires in Washington and Montana it is so filled with smoke that you can't even see the mountains!  So we were a little bummed about our 4 hour ride not being breathtaking like it usually is.
We also attended the Calgary East Stake Conference this weekend, where Steve spoke twice in the priesthood session, we both spoke in the Saturday evening session, and then again on Sunday morning.  With as little time to prepare as we have we have learned to trust in the Lord for what we should say.  Steve is much better at that than I am because he has done it so much in the past in his callings.  But, I can say that I am learning that Heavenly Father opens your mind and helps you to know what He wants said in the meeting.  We have both learned that we can't neglect our personal scripture study--it is vital for us to have the spirit with us.  And as we do that each day, we are given what we need when we need it.  I am continually amazed at the guidance we receive--and I am learning to trust in it better, and not worry and panic inside about what I should say.  Here we are teaching our missionaries that if they prepare and study they will be given 'in the very hour' what they should say--and I am learning it myself in a very personal way.
This week we will hold another Mission Leadership council meeting on Wednesday, and prepare for our upcoming visit by Elder James B. Martino of the Quorum of the Seventy next week.  We are looking forward to having him come.  We have had some training with him before we even came out, and then we got to visit with him a bit in the MTC, and he is so nice and fun.  We will enjoy him coming and teaching our missionaries.

Eating Taber Corn!!

Lethbridge East Zone

Medicine Hat Zone

Our first corn bust-Sisters Kolkova and Jensen with Steve

Sisters Durrant, Tilley and Shields--stole the camera!!
Lethbridge Zone

Cardston Zone

British Columbia Zone

Elder Bennett, who is returning to our mission after being home on a medical release

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Zone Conferences!

Calgary Zone

Elders Heuer, Clabaux, Dredge-they love to steal my camera and take pictures of themselves on it without me knowing!
Calgary East Zone
Calgary South Zone
Calgary North Zone
Calgary West Zone
Sister Blake, Elder Law, Sister Jensen--stealing the camera!

Calgary Foothills Zone

This week we held our Zone Conferences in the Calgary area.  We have 6 zones in Calgary, so we hold two on each day.  We have been focusing on teaching the Restoration simply, clearly and for understanding.  We had them role-play within their zones and teach as companions the lesson of the restoration in 6 minutes.  There was really a great spirit as they did hear them teaching and testifying of the prophet Joseph Smith and the need for a restoration of the gospel after the great apostasy.  Steve did a wonderful job instructing and teaching them about raising their vision and increasing their faith to find those that have been prepared to receive the gospel. He shared four of his favorite stories on faith from the New Testament.  We also had a wonderful testimony each day with the zones.  Their testimonies are so inspiring.  They are each in their own way coming to know the Savior and feel of his atonement and love for them.  It is really sweet to hear them.
We also had a fun activity (with candy bars as prizes)..we asked questions from Preach My Gospel, the Missionary White Handbook, and scriptures.  The first  one to raise their hand and answer correctly wins the prize.  It was a good, fun game to play and they loved it.
Our last question was, "what night is President and Sister Miles' date night?"  The first answer was 'Monday'.  No one won!  Our date night is Friday night--and we told them unless they are on their deathbed, or bleeding like crazy, to avoid calling us between 6-9 p.m.  They actually thought it was pretty cool we could go on dates!

 Sister Blake, Gleason and Jensen

And again they steal my camera to be
sure they put their pictures on it!

We have loved our Zone Conferences with these amazing elders and sisters in the Calgary area.  To hear their testimonies, and feel of their faith and their desire to serve Christ is very inspiring.  We just love them.
Next week we have 3 more zone conferences with our elders and sisters in British Columbia, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Cardston and the surrounding small towns.  We are looking forward to those!
This week also began Stake we spoke at our first Saturday evening session on Saturday, and next week we will speak on Saturday evening and Sunday.  Although we have spoken at many Stake Conferences over the years, we have found that now we hardly have any time to prepare for them.  So, Friday evening I prayed that I would know what I was supposed to say for Saturday's session and that I would be able to have the spirit guide my thoughts and words.  As I laid in bed that night before falling asleep thoughts came to my mind, and when I woke up Saturday, they were still there.  So, I got up and studied my scriptures for a bit and those same thoughts stayed with I knew that was my answer.  It is still so amazing to me how mindful our Heavenly Father is of each of us.  He is so kind.
Steve did such a wonderful job in his comments.  He didn't have one note with him, and yet he gave such a powerful message, and yet so personal and warm.  He is such a great President, and I am so glad he is my companion and can never get transferred!!!
In the general session of the Stake Conference today the choir was from the Spanish Branch and they were incredible.  The last hymn they sang was 'How Great Thou Art' and it was beautiful.  It was so neat to hear it in Spanish.  Their singing brought such a wonderful spirit to the conference. We had Elder Paul Hintze from the Seventy as the visiting authority and he was very kind, and genuine.  It was good to get to know him and be instructed by him.
We now officially have our new counselors in the mission presidency--President Gedlaman and President Stephen.  (and their wives!)  We are excited to have them work with us and they will be a great help.  We feel like we are getting our feet on the ground!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hellos, transfers & goodbyes

This week has been an action packed week.  It was transfer week--which means we welcome new missionaries, transfers many others, and say good bye to those who have completed their missions.  So it is full of excitement, some anxiety, and some tears.
On Tuesday we welcomed 27 new missionaries fresh from the MTC in Provo.  They got up at 3:30 in the morning to catch the train to the airport.  They arrived in Calgary just a little after 12:00 p.m., but by the time we got them out of customs it was 4:30 p.m.!  They were exhausted--yet so excited to be in their mission!  We had 19 elders and 8 sisters arrive--all English speaking except one sister who is Spanish speaking.  We are thrilled to have them here, and feel of their enthusiasm and faith as they begin their missions.  We brought them straight from the airport to  the ward building by our home and gave them a snack while they put their luggage in a room where it would stay for the night (except their overnight bags).  Dad then began interviewing them and we let them just sit and relax while their dinner was being prepared.  I have had a cook help with these meals--her name is Pam Leavitt, and she is expecting her 3rd little boy in October, so this is her last week of cooking missionary meals.  I'm hoping I can find someone else soon!  Following dinner we had a little activity where they tried to guess where in the mission they would be assigned on Wednesday.  It was fun to
see them guess these places they knew nothing about.

New missionaries in front of the horse statue at the airport.

First dinner in the mission field!

Trying to decide from the map where they will go

Hmmm..where will I be sent?
On Wednesday we held an orientation meeting for the new missionaries, had lunch with them, (fixed by a wonderful Relief Society group of sisters) and then they met their new trainer companions and were sent on their way!  It was so fun to watch them take off and see how excited they were!  We already love them.
On Thursday we had our huge transfer day where everyone that is getting transferred all around the mission meets at different chapels to be assigned to their new companions and sent to their new areas.
This is quite an event because we have missionaries coming from all over--as far as 7 hours away.
We do 3 different transfer meetings- the first in Calgary, then 2 hours south in Lethbridge, and then back up to Calgary.  It is a crazy day, but somehow it all works out.  This transfer has really been weighing on Steve's mind--he has been praying and thinking about it for two weeks, and trying to determine where the Lord would want these missionaries sent and with whom.  It is quite amazing to watch it all unfold.  It is also so funny to watch them with all their luggage and belongings!

Elder Corning loading up his things

Bringing all their baggage to move

Turning in keys and phones to their areas  

Thursday evening after we got everyone transferred the missionaries that are going home came to the mission home for dinner.  We had 21 going home, plus our two assistants for dinner.  You can tell there are really mixed feelings about  going home.  They are so excited to see their families, yet a little apprehensive about their futures.  It was fun to have them in the mission home instead of at a church.  Even though we have only had this particular group for 6 weeks, we have grown to love them, and we wish them all the best.  Following dinner we go to the ward house by the mission home and have a 'departure fireside' with a little slideshow, and testimony meeting.  The missionaries are allowed to invite 12 people each to the fireside--recent converts, investigators, etc.  The chapel was full of people to wish them well.  It was a nice night.  Then the 4 sisters leaving stayed with us in the mission home and the 16 elders were put up in a hotel for the night.
We took them all to the airport at 9:00 so they could go through customs and make their flights.  I was excited for them, and a bit sad all at the same time.  I just kept thinking about when our boys came home from their missions how excited I was to see I was excited for their families to see their missionary.  All in all it was a great week.  It was a good one to get under our belt.
This is great work here in the mission field; and it is also the busiest thing we have ever done.  We always feel inadequate, and not equal to the task; so we feel a real reliance on the Lord to bless us and strengthen us in the work.  The words to the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour" ring constantly in our minds..we truly do need Him every hour in this work.

Our departing missionaries            

The elders shoes in the mission home

Sisters Matheson, Pippert, Condie, Hernandez-Alfaro-we love them!

Last departing picture!

Oh, and we had one more broken wrist this week!  That makes 3 since we have been here!
Next week we begin our first round of zone conferences!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Broken bones and baptisms

This week has been a good, busy week.   Tuesday afternoon we were driving home from a meeting with some sister missionaries and got caught in a huge hailstorm.  It was so loud in the car we couldn't even hear each other talk!  We found out later that the hail storm had caused $20,000 of damage to the roofs of one of the church buildings.  We had our assistants over to dinner that evening and our power went out about 3/4 of the way through dinner!  After dinner we sent the assistants on their way and we tried to clean up dinner in the dark..but after a few minutes the power came back on.   We then drove down to Lethbridge, which is 2 hours south of Calgary, for interviews with the departing missionaries on Wednesday.  While Steve interviews each missionary who will be leaving us next week, the others attend a church employment seminar to help them with resumes and job seeking once they get home.  They all have mixed feelings about leaving...they are excited, but it is also a tender time as they prepare to leave their mission.  This week he will interview the missionaries from the Calgary area prior to their leaving on Friday.  Although we haven't known these elders and sisters for very long, we have grown to love them.  We also lost one sister who went home early this week.  We were very sad to see her go; but at the same time we felt it was best for her.  We love her and wish her all the best as she returns home.
 On Thursday I received a frantic call from our new young elder, Elder Murdock, saying his companion, Elder Harris, had fallen off his bike and they thought his wrist was broken.  They are serving in the Lethbridge area, and thankfully in that area we have a Stake President and a bishop who are both doctors.  So, the stake president saw Elder Harris and sent him in for x-rays, and it ended up being quite a bad break...after 2 days of sitting in a hospital bed he is finally going in to surgery to have a plate and pins put in.  This is our second broken wrist with pins since we arrived!

Elder Murdock taking care of his companion Elder Harris!

On Saturday we were invited by Elders Cervantes and Owens to come to a baptism in the small town of Rosemary, which is about 2 hours east and south of Calgary.  This is a town that many of the missionaries want to serve in, even though it is small.  Richard Watson, the man being baptized, is a man of very little means,  not much to look upon, and you can tell he has had a rugged life. The missionaries found him about 4-5 weeks ago out on the street, when they were out inviting people to come to another man's baptism-Erik Davidson.  Richard said he would come and watch the baptism, and he was so touched by it that he let the missionaries teach him, and here he is one month later, being baptized himself.  It was a very sacred and solemn occasion for him.  You could see that he knew his life was changing.  After his baptism, he wanted to just say a few words to everyone that came and he said, 'I have never felt this much peace in my life-ever.'  It was very touching and a sweet experience for us to watch this humble man enter the waters of baptism.  These are the joys of being on a mission!  You really can't describe what it is like to see someone feel the joy of the gospel for the first time.  Richard said he felt like he was 'home'.

                            Elder Cervantes, Richard-the one being baptized, Erik-who baptized him, Elder Owens, and us.
Elder Marenco, Elder Cervantes, Richard, Elder Farnsworth, Erik, Elder Owens

This next week we start our first round of transfers--so wish us luck!!!  We have 27 new missionaries arriving on Tuesday!  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Finally found wildlife!

As I have mentioned before, we have been looking for wildlife as we've been driving through British Columbia.  Well, we finally found one!  In a parking lot in downtown Cranbrook, BC!
pretty impressive, eh?

Home again after our road trip!

We arrived back in Calgary on Wednesday night after having been gone 10 days doing interviews.  It was good to get back home, sleep in our own bed, get some laundry done and regroup a bit.  And then we got this picture sent to us from Elders Corning and Ellison of Sina's baptism--she looks so beautiful and happy.  The man standing next to her is her brother who is now taking the missionary lessons.  This is what missionary work is all about!  Someone coming into the gospel, and feeling so much joy and happiness.
Sina's baptism
We have now been here one whole month, and in that month we have toured the mission twice doing our 'meet the new president' meetings, and then going back to do interviews.  It has been a whirlwind to say the least--but we have loved it.  I was surprised that I hadn't felt homesick...and I decided that the spirit really 'carries' you and also you are running on adrenaline as well.  But Wednesday when we got home I felt this wave of homesickness come over me.  I debated whether to share it in this blog, but decided it is definitely a part of missionary life, so I guess I have to.  I just really began missing my kids and our little grandsons.  I wanted so much to hug each one of them!  So, of course the tears came, and the I kept praying that it wouldn't last long, and that it wouldn't affect my ability to work and serve. I also decided that maybe I was given this experience so I could better understand our missionaries that are homesick, and know how to love them and help them.  It was easy to walk away from our house, and sell the vehicles, turn the bill paying over to our kids, and things like that.  But walking away from the ones you love most is extremely hard!  But, we are so grateful for our wonderful children who love and support us and we are grateful for their strength and testimonies and and for their fun personalities.  We love face timing with them each week and love getting their texts.  They give us a chuckle during the day...
Drewbie, Finn, Miles and Sam on the afternoon we were set apart.

Miles and Sam trying to be reverent!
When you look at all these pictures you can see why leaving them was so hard for me!  They are my little guys!!!!!  We love them so much, and hope that they will always remember that Gram and Grandpa served a mission.
Our youngest--little Beck!

Wyatt is getting ready to crawl

Finn with his worms to go fishing!  

Drewbie, the nut!

You can see why we miss these little nuggets!  They are our pride and joy.
The only reason we can walk away from these sweet little boys is because we have a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We know that His atonement is real, and that He suffered and died for each one of us, so that we may be resurrected and live again together as eternal families.  We are so grateful to know this, and so grateful for the joy the gospel brings into our lives.  It is our greatest treasure.