Monday, February 1, 2016

Transfer week and a real chinook!

This past week was transfer week--which is always exciting as we welcome in new missionaries, and then it is sad as we say good bye to the others.  We received 14 new missionaries--4 of them are visa waiters who are waiting to get into their regular missions in the states.  It usually takes one transfer for their visas to arrive-but right now we still have our 4 from the last transfer, so we now have 8 visa waiters.  But, we treat them like our own and will keep them as long as we can!  They all usually end up having a great experience here.
So, on Tuesday our missionaries arrived about 2:00 and they were out of customs by 3:00, which is the earliest ever!  We had them back to the mission home for training by 4:00, which was great.  I get so excited to see these new missionaries walk through those doors at the airport!   They always looks so excited, yet tired from getting up at 2:00 in the morning!
Our wonderful cook, Natasha, made them a fabulous meal that evening, after which we went back downstairs in the mission home for more training, while Steve completed interviewing them all.  When we were finished we sent the 3 sisters home with Elder and Sister Sefcik, and the elders stayed here.  We have 18 pads here at the mission home for missionaries to sleep on--so the elders pull those out, throw on sheets, and down they go!  We always try to get them to bed early because they are so tired.  Wednesday morning we have 3 more hours of training with them, then a sandwich lunch, and then their companions come to meet them.  This is always so fun to see them meet their new trainers!
Once they have met, we talk to them all together for just a few minutes and then send them off to their areas!  They are soooo excited to finally be going into 'the field'!
Later Wednesday evening Steve begins interviewing the departing missionaries.  So, while he was busy with that, I was on the phone with a missionary who had been having headaches and dizziness.  I called two different doctors that we use a lot here in our mission, and after much discussion (because this elder was being transferred out of Calgary the next day), they told us to take him to the ER for evaluation.  So, we had his zone leaders take him to the hospital and we met them there.  We got there about 9:30 p.m.  After the doctor examined him, and consulted with a neurologist, they were pretty sure it was all migraine related, so they discharged him.  This doctor came in and told us he wasn't going to charge us-when he found out we were missionaries!  He said, 'just go give to a charity and that is good enough for me.  You do good work.'  What a nice person!  So, we left the hospital at a 12:20 a.m. and took this elder and his companion back to their apartment.  Steve and I climbed back into bed about 1:20 a.m.!
On Thursday we had our regular transfer day, but following the new guidelines we were given, and it all went quite smoothly.  We really liked it being simpler, and most of the missionaries did too.  Once transfers were done we took our 8 departing missionaries to the Calgary Temple.  This is always such a sweet experience.  I love seeing them dressed in their temple clothing.  I know this is a tender time for them as they contemplate going home and what all that will involve.  Following our temple session we were able to have President and Sister Guenther (2nd counselor in the temple presidency) come speak to our missionaries in a sealing room.  He gave them such great counsel--about keeping the 'fire of the covenant' burning brightly within them.  He reminded them of how their temple covenants bless them with power to do all that they need to in life.  It was really a wonderful time with them.
Following the temple, we came back to the mission home for a delicious dinner.  It was so fun to just sit and visit with these missionaries and enjoy them on this their last night.  After dinner we went downstairs and held our own testimony meeting with them.  This was our first time to be able to do it this way, and we loved it.  To just have them to ourselves and listen to their testimonies is so touching.  We love hearing them share what they have learned and how their faith has grown, and how much they love the Savior.  You feel good sending them home when they have grown in the gospel as they have.  We always counsel them to go home and be a 'light that shines in the darkness'.
We just love them!  Once our testimony meeting is over, we weigh their bags and they get their customs declarations forms filled out and they go to bed.  I don't really know if they sleep too much, though!
Then on Friday morning we sing one last time together, 'I Know that my Redeemer Lives' and we kneel together and Steve offers one last prayer with them.  The spirit is always so strong, and I am always very teary-eyed.   We then get to hug them all--yes, I get to hug the elders at this point!  I don't ever hug them until this last morning, and then I give them all a big hug good-bye.  It is always so hard for me to do this!  Then off to the airport we go.  Another transfer complete.
Friday night we were able to spend some time with Elder and Sister Spackman, our Area Seventy here in Calgary.  They served as mission president and wife in New York about 15 years ago--so they are a great sounding board for us.  We love them.
Saturday evening we attended the Confederation Park Stake Conference where Steve spoke in the priesthood leadership meeting at 4:00 and we both spoke in the Saturday Evening session.  This conference Elder Evanson, the Area Seventy from Lethbridge was the visiting authority, so it was nice to be with he and his wife again.  An 18 year old gal named Shanice who was just baptized on Friday night was one of the speakers on Saturday evening.  She was so excited about her baptism, and so excited to be a member of the church!  Her enthusiasm was just so great!  Her whole life has been changed...and it was so neat to listen to her.  When we have grown up in the church, we sometimes take for granted how it feels to be a member.  I have loved seeing these new converts and feeling of their excitement and gratitude for having found the gospel. It's what it is all about!
The past week we have had a real chinook here in Calgary--which means the warm air comes in and thaws everything.  There were a couple of days when it got up to almost 48 Fahrenheit!  Crazy!  But we loved it.  You get this taste of spring--but we know the cold will be coming back.  We think on the average, Calgary is about 10-12 degrees colder than in Sandy, Utah.  But, we have not had nearly the snow as we hear they are having down there.
We can't believe it is Feb. 1.  We have now been on our mission for 7 months.  Time has flown by.
This is great work to be involved with 24/7.  There is nothing like getting up and just focusing on nothing but our missionaries and missionary work.  We pray constantly for guidance because it is so overwhelming sometimes.  We feel like we are on a treadmill that never stops--and sometimes it goes pretty fast!  But we love it.  We love seeing our missionaries grow in their testimonies.  We love it when we see them experience miracles they have been praying for.  We love it when they come to know that as they are more obedient the Lord blesses them abundantly.
We know this is the Lord's work and He will bless and guide us in it.  We are so grateful for our Savior and for His love.
Our new missionaries at the airport.  1/28/16

The trainers waiting to meet their new companions.

The new missionaries waiting to meet their trainers.

Sisters Palmer & Kendrick getting to drive the newest car to transfers!

Loading up the trailer at transfers!

At the Calgary Temple with our departing missionaries.

Dinner for the new missionaries!

Our wonderful cook Natasha!

Sisters Milius & Shields with Shanice (newly baptized) and us.

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