Friday, October 23, 2015

Board Week

This week is what is called 'board week', which means Steve is working on the transfer board to determine who is being transferred where, who is going to train the new missionaries coming in, who will be new zone leaders, or district leaders and sister trainer leaders.  There is a lot of prayer that goes into this process...trying to determine what the Lord wants for our missionaries.  You can go in to it thinking 'logically', but that doesn't really work.  You have to go into it completely dependent upon the spirit and seeking divine guidance.  Steve will begin to 'settle in' on things, and feel the way it should go.  And it usually takes a week or two or sometimes even three to realize just how much he was guided.  He will begin to hear things such as, 'I love my new companion, they have helped me so much.'  or 'I have never worked so well with someone', and other comments that help you know the Lord's hand was in it.  It is really quite amazing.
We have also been to a district meeting, in our Calgary Zone, which is always fun to attend.  It is great to see our missionaries teach and train each other.  This week the training was on 'Praying with Faith', and I loved hearing them share their thoughts on how to improve their prayers and make them more sincere and meaningful.  Afterwards, one of the elders, Elder Adams, served homade bread!  With honey!  
We also met with all of our Mandarin speaking elders to discuss their needs and challenges and see how we could help them.  This is a great bunch of elders, and it was so good to spend time with them determining how things could go better and how we could help them, and how they can help each other.  Elder Shumway had given me a couple of phrases in Mandarin (I had asked him for them), so I could practice them and say them to the elders when we met.  I learned to say 'Hello, how are you?'
I was pretty proud of myself to master that!  It truly is the gift of tongues for these young elders to learn that difficult language.
Steve and I went over our schedule of speaking assignments for the next while and we are speaking at either a fireside or Stake Conference almost every weekend for the next 6-8 weeks.  We also spoke last week at the Calgary West Stake Conference.  I have really learned to trust Heavenly Father in what to say.  If I am diligent in studying my scriptures and pondering about it, I am always given what I should say in each meeting.  I am gaining confidence knowing that if I do my part, and am truly seeking the spirit, Heavenly Father will do His part and help me.  He always pulls through.  I just have to trust Him.
Our Mandarin speaking elders..left to right
Elders Whitney, Thomas, Smith, Shumway,Yang, Reetz, Schenk, Butler
missing:  Elders Abunuwara and Fong (they had to leave early for district meeting)

On Friday of this week we also hold our New Trainers meeting.  This meeting is where all the missionaries who are going to train the brand new missionaries coming from the MTC meet.  We train with them about their responsibilities as trainers for about 1 1/2 hours.  Being assigned to be a trainer is perhaps the most important assignment for a missionary.  We rely on them to set the best example of obedience and hard work, and to take this new missionary through the 12 Week Program so he or she can be confident in the work.  We have so much trust in them that they will teach this new missionary how to be a great missionary.  They really set the stage for the new missionary.
On Saturday we are going to Medicine Hat for a baptism there.  We will spend the night there and then meet with the Stake President on Sunday morning before traveling to Raymond to speak at a fireside Sunday evening.  The High Counselor over the fireside from Raymond invited us to their home for a bite to eat, and then he is going to drive us around the town and teach us of the history of Raymond.  We are looking forward to that!  After the fireside we will drive back up to Calgary (about a 2 hr. and 40 min. ride).  So, it will be a late night getting back.
We are both thankful we are finally feeling better.  We have both had horrible colds with coughs--Steve's lasted about 2 1/2 weeks and mine for about 12 days.  It is hard to do all that is required when you are feeling so crummy.  So we are both now feeling great, able to exercise again, and have energy!  All of our missionaries have been asked to go get their flu shots for the season, and we need to get ours as well.

At Costco in Canada you find hockey helmets and sticks!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Interviews complete! Visit from our girls!

This week we completed all of our interviews with the Calgary Zones--so we are finished for another quarter.  We really enjoy the interview process because it gives us such a great time to be one on one with the missionaries.  Actually, Steve always gets one on one--and sometimes I do, but sometimes I have 3 or 4 or 5 out with me, depending on if they had to car pool, of if they are going to hold district meetings right after.  But I enjoy getting to be with them in smaller groups or individually.  We discuss a lot of things together in that time!  They want to know how we met, how long we dated, how we knew we wanted to marry each other!  They also talk to me about their families, which I always like to hear.  They talk to me about being homesick, about their area they are working in, about the people they are teaching, and we discuss lots of things like how to work more effectively in the ward council, or how to engage members more.  I like to ask them what they love about being a missionary, and so much of the time I get the same one or two answers or both.  They say they love seeing what the gospel does for someone who has never had see the joy it brings, and to see their face light up when something they have taught really resonates with someone and the spirit touches them.  They also say that they love how much their own testimonies have grown and how they are changing and growing closer to the Savior.  I just love to hear that.  Because at the end of their mission, the person we want most converted is the missionary. We want them to go home being built on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ and committed to being a true disciple throughout their lives.  When we were in interviews with our Calgary West Zone I told them that Steve and I had to speak in a branch in about 6 weeks and they want us to speak to their youth and parents and try to get them excited to prepare for missions.  They said some of the youth are preparing to go, but others, as well as their families are struggling in the gospel.  So, I asked this group of missionaries what they would say, and how would they talk to this group.  It was amazing to hear their insights. It was also very special to have many of them tell how they personally made the decision to serve a mission, and how it had to be their own decision--and not to go just to please their parents.  Many of them also said that these youth need to know that missions are fun.  One of our zone leaders told me how he was so surprised at how fun a mission was.  He said that although it is the hardest work ever, it was also so much fun, and he was so grateful for the wonderful friends he had met and knows that now his best friends will be elders he has met from his mission.  When I hear things like this my heart just soars.  I just love these missionaries.  We just love these missionaries!
This week was also very fun because our two girls, Les and Steph and their babies came to visit for a few days.  It was so fun to pick them up on Wednesday afternoon and hug them and snuggle those babies.  We all shed tears when we hugged at the airport!
We were able to take them into Banff one day and show them around a little bit, and then on Friday they came to our 'retraining meeting' with us and met our missionaries there--it was fun for us to show them to our missionaries, and we were also excited to 'show off' our missionaries to them! We also visited the Spruce Meadows Equestrian Park and were able to see a horse jumping competition which none of us had ever seen in person.  It was a beautiful fall day and the weather was gorgeous.
We also took them with us to a convert baptism down in Okotoks of a 17 year old girl named Haleigh Guenther.  She was such a darling girl, and so excited to be getting baptized.  She was taught by Elders McNeil and Kelly.  Her whole family was there, including her grandparents.  And even though they aren't members of the LDS church, they were excited for her and for this step she was making.
They are Christian, and believe in Christ and in the scriptures and it was fun to see how proud they were of her.
We had such a great time being together.  We ate way too much, laughed a lot, and probably my favorite parts of our time together was just laying on the bed or out in the family room talking.  I am so grateful for our wonderful children and for their love and support while we serve.  We couldn't do it without them.  We feel their prayers for us and are so grateful for their testimonies and faith.  They are amazing people and we love each one of them--and when I say children, I am meaning our in-law
children, too.  We are sooooo thankful for the spouses of each of our children. We have been so blessed!
Steve hugging Les and Steph for the first time in 3 1/2 months!

Grandpa with Beck-first time seeing each other  since he was 6 weeks old!

Steve with Wyatt in pack, Steph, Les with Beck in Banff

Our little hike by the Bow River in Banff

Bow River Falls

Les w/ Beck, Lori, Steph w/ Wyatt at Spruce Meadows Equestrian Park

Our last snuggle with Beck & Wyatt before we had to leave for a stake conference

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More Interviews, and visit to Waterton Park

Steve with some of our cute sister missionaries-
Sisters Tilley, Shields, Blake, Freeman, Lowe, Connors

Elders Einfeldt and Fullmer with all the sister's cameras

Elder Fullmer got my camera for a 'selfie' 
Cameron Falls

Lake Cameron

This trail goes right by Lake Cameron, and on the side was a cow moose with her calf standing in the water.

We have still been doing our interviews this past week--and this was the week where we traveled the most.  We have also been meeting with Stake Presidents after our interviews, so we have been going literally from sun up to sundown.  On Monday though, we did get a little respite because President Lybbert (from the Cardston Stake) and his wife Shannon wanted to take us to Waterton Park and discuss missionary work there instead of sitting in his office at the Stake Center.  We thought that sounded like a grand idea!  So we finished our meeting with President MacLennan in Lethbridge at 1:00, and then drove to Cardston where President and Sister Lybbert picked us up at 3:30 to go to Waterton Park.  Waterton is the Canadian side of Glacier National Park--so we have wanted to go see it but have never had the time.  Everyone has told us how beautiful it is, and it didn't let us down.
It was fun to go with the Lybbert's, too, because they know Waterton well, and so they could take us to many of the neat places.  It was a fun afternoon and evening with them.
After being in Cardston for interviews we left and drove to British Columbia to interview our missionaries there, and drove home late Wednesday evening.  Then Steve had a call from missionaries in Lethbridge where we had an elder really struggling, so he drove down to Lethbridge to help him.  He ended up bringing him back up to the mission home and got here about 3:30 in the morning.  We then had to begin all of our Calgary interviews starting Thursday--so we were a bit weary.  But we love the interviews and being with our missionaries.  Their testimonies are strong, and growing, and we are so proud of them.  We are so grateful to be able to serve with them.  Some of our newer ones are still homesick, but they are pushing through and trying to work hard.  When they sit with me and tell me about how homesick they are I tell them that the reason they are homesick is because there is love in their home and family, so that is a blessing.  And then I tell them to hang in there and stay busy and work hard, and it will eventually go away.  On Saturday one sister that had been especially homesick in the beginning told me that all of a sudden it was just gone!  She was so excited about that!  It was pretty cute.

Waterton Lake with the town of Waterton in the background

Found these celebrities at the lake- ha ha!
Another beautiful view of Waterton

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Prayers for a missionary

So much of this missionary work is just wonderful, but every once in awhile we have very difficult things come our way.  This week was one of them.  On Monday we had to inform one of our sweet elders that his mother had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and in the same week his aunt had also been diagnosed with leukemia.  We drove down to the city he is serving in so we could tell him in person and so Steve would be able to put his arm around him and hug him while he heard this news.  Steve said it was so heart breaking to deliver this news, and it caused many tears.  He was able to give him a priesthood blessing, and we decided we would all fast together later this week prior to his mother's surgery.  As Steve met with this elder I sat with his companion and told him the situation so he could be aware of what is going on and we could discuss how he could help his companion at this difficult time.  After we were finished we went out to our car and the elders climbed on their bikes to ride away; and as we watched them ride off, we both shed tears for this elder.  Our hearts were heavy as we thought about this faithful, young elder who is so excited to serve, and doing such a great  job, ride away with tear filled eyes.  We pray that he will feel an abundance of Heavenly Father's love at this time, and pray also for his mom and his aunt.  So, we humbly invite any who happen to read this blog to please pray for this young elder and his family at this time.  It is times like these when you are so grateful to know that you have a Heavenly Father who knows and loves you and is truly aware of what is going on in your life, and will strengthen and bless you as you turn to him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Forgot to post some Pictures!

I forgot to post these pictures of our missionaries having lunch at the mission home in between General Conference sessions!
Missionaries and office staff at the mission home for lunch--the table can seat 22!

Sister Hatch and Sister Egbert grabbing lunch

Monday, October 5, 2015

Interviews and General Conference

Zone leaders & sister trainer leaders at MLC lunch

More lunch pics from MLC.  We ordered 17 large pizzas!

As usual, this past week has been very busy.  We began with interviews in Medicine Hat on Tuesday, then Missionary Leadership Council on Wednesday, more interviews on Thursday and Friday in Lethbridge before returning to Calgary for General Conference.  This is our second round of interviews and we are really enjoying them because we know the missionaries so much better!  We love spending time with them individually.  I love to be able to chat with the companions while Steve is interviewing the other one.  Sometimes though, I will have 5 or 6 there, depending on if a whole district has come in, or if they are sharing cars, etc.
We are now also really looking forward to and enjoying our Missionary Leadership Council meetings.  These meetings are where all the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders gather together and we council and discuss the needs of the mission.  These are fantastic missionaries and the leaders of the mission.  This month we are focusing on 'Recognizing the Spirit in our Lives'.  This is a topic the missionaries had requested in a survey they had taken.  We know the missionaries have a great desire to discern when the spirit is speaking to them and to act upon the promptings they receive.  I think this is something all of us want to improve on, and so we are excited to make this a focus.
We were so grateful to be able to listen to General Conference this weekend and witness the historic event of having 3 new apostles sustained.  We are so blessed to be led by a prophet and apostles.  We know they are men called of God and will lead us and guide us in the way that will keep us spiritually safe.
On Saturday we watched the sessions at the Stake Center with our missionaries.  Then on Sunday we were headed out to the stake Center again only to find that our road was closed due to a city wide 'Cancer Walk'.  So, we had to turn around and go back to our home and watch it on the computer!
In between sessions we had the Calgary South zone come over for lunch along with our office staff.  It was really fun to have them all over.  It is also fun to hear our missionaries talk about General Conference.  They  really 'soak it up' and feel such a renewal and new commitment to increase their faith and work hard.  They love to hear the prophet and the apostles and gain such strength from them.  They also loved being able to watch Elder Martino speak in the Saturday afternoon session, as he was just here visiting our mission.
Interview time!  Me, Elders Owens, Manarii, Chen, Marenco
Elder Chen stole my camera to take this one!

MLC lunch

more MLC lunch pics--