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!

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