Thursday, January 7, 2016

Holidays over, New Year Here!

P-day basketball with our BC zone

Elders Todd, Hopoi, Steve, Cervantes, Thomas

Me with Sisters Jakobi, Merkley, Wagner & Brown

Elders Hopoi and Cervantes waving our new Standards of Excellence!

One of the passes we drove through to BC
Well, the holidays have come and gone, and the New Year is here!  We really enjoyed our first Christmas season here in our mission!  We especially loved that some of our children were able to come up and share in our mission with us.  Brad and Katy and little Sam and Drew arrived late on Dec. 30--we didn't get back to the mission home with them until about midnight!  We spent Thursday just being with them and the little boys--we took them up to the Bass Pro Shop store, which is huge and full of all kinds of animal 'mounts'.  In one area there were about a dozen caribou--and did Sam and Drew ever love seeing these reindeer!  This was New Year's Eve, so we invited the zone closest to our home to come have sandwiches with us and meet our kids.  It was really fun to have our missionaries come and see them; and it was fun for our kids to meet our missionaries.
Then on Friday we took them into Banff to spend the night and go on a sleigh ride around Lake Louise and then a dog sled run.  The little boys loved the dog sled run the most...even though the weather was very cold!  It was about -13 celsius, which is about 8 degrees fahrenheit!  We had dressed as warm as possible, so we did pretty good!  It was difficult to kiss those little boys and Katy and Brad good-bye on Sunday.
Oh, and right as the kids were packing up Sam and I opened the door so I could go show him the 'secret' bathroom (which is the second bathroom downstairs which was added on for missionaries), and there was water all over the floor.  We came to realize that all of our pipes were backed up and water was coming up through the drain there.  So, we had to turn off all the water and call our physical facilities manager to get the help we needed..especially because we were leaving that afternoon to head to British Columbia to meet missionaries, bishops, and ward mission leaders.  So, we left the home in a mess and got the kids to the airport, then we left for BC.
First we went to Lethbridge to meet missionaries there, then on to Pincher Creek to meet a district leader there and do a little training with him.  We stayed the night in Pincher Creek and then Monday we drove to Cranbrook where we had our first P-day basketball game with the missionaries there!  Neither Steve or I twisted an ankle or anything during the games!  We also played 'chair soccer'--which was another first for us.  If I felt inadequate in basketball, it was much worse during soccer, ha ha!  But it was fun.  Later that evening we went out teaching with our two zone leaders and had a wonderful lesson with them.  I love seeing our missionaries teach and share their is so inspiring.
On Tuesday morning we attended their Zone Training meeting, which was incredible.  They introduced our new 'Standards of Excellence' (which we had previously developed with our MLC over the last couple of months).  We are so excited about our Standards of Excellence.  We feel that as our missionaries focus on these standards we will see true success in our mission.   The highlight of the zone training meeting was when our new zone leader, Elder Hopoi, closed with his testimony. It was so touching and tender.  I think every person there was in tears..the spirit was very strong and it was the perfect ending to a wonderful meeting.
Following that meeting we drove to Creston, which was our first time getting to this area, to meet our district leader there and do some training with he and his companion.  They are working hard and turning things around in that area.  They have developed great relationships with the members and it is paying off.  We were invited to have dinner at the ward mission leader's home, and he was so excited to be working with these missionaries.  We then were able to teach a lesson with this companionship to an older couple, Larry and Charlotte, who were just a delight.  Again, it was so wonderful to watch these missionaries teach.  They had practiced and prepared and taught a great lesson and brought the spirit with them.  I was so proud of them.  It was so neat to see how this couple was touched by many of the things the missionaries taught.
The next morning we had a training meeting with this companionship and following that we left to drive to Trail and Castlegar (also areas we hadn't been to yet).  We have a set of elders serving there, and to get there you go through absolutely gorgeous country, but the mountain passes can be a bit scary in the winter.  But we arrived safely and took these two elders to lunch in Castlegar.  They are so far away from everyone else in our mission that we decided they deserved a lunch!  They are hardworking elders and we know it can be hard to be so far away that you don't even see your zone very often.  Following lunch we went to their apartment and did some weekly planning with them, then we went to the church and had a meeting  with the bishop of the ward they serve in.  After that we were supposed to go out teaching with them, but their appointment fell through, so we checked into our hotel room to catch up on letters, and medical things and  phone calls.
It has been a busy week, and tomorrow we will drive back to Calgary (about an 8 hour drive with the winter conditions) so we can be ready for a District Leader training on Friday morning, and then an office staff meeting on Friday afternoon.  We are welcoming in the New Year with a bang!
We are excited for this New Year and all that it will bring.  We pray that our missionaries will develop greater faith in Jesus Christ and have a strong desire to work hard and find those who are prepared to hear the gospel.  We love them and want them to find joy in this great work.
Steve with Sam before the dog sled ride

Me and Sam ready to go in our dog sled

Drewbie loved the dogs
Katy & Brad and Sam & Drew at the teepee for a snack

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