Monday, May 30, 2016

MLC, teaching, and squirrels!

This past week was yet another busy one!  Since we had our monthly Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday we decided to get down to Lethbridge early enough on Tuesday evening to go out teaching with our missionaries.  Steve went with some elders and I went out with Sisters Blake and King.  We had two great visits--both with less active young adults who are struggling but wanting to come back into full activity.  The sisters were so great with them, and came with lessons in mind to address their needs--and most of all they brought a wonderful  spirit with them.  When you sit in on a lesson of someone that is struggling with alcohol addiction and you see how weary they are of it, and how difficult it is to overcome, your heart aches for them.  And you know it is only through the atonement they can receive the help they need to overcome it.    I was so proud of our sisters and how they are trying to teach and help these two come back into full activity.
Then on Wednesday we had another great MLC with all of our zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  As I've said before, this is always such a great meeting.  These leaders really come wanting to learn and wanting to discuss how to best help not only their own zones, but how to help our whole mission.  We had great discussions on the strengths and weaknesses in our mission, and how to re-focus our mission on Preach My Gospel.  We also reviewed our Standards of Excellence and discussed how we can keep this in the forefront with our missionaries and encourage them to continue daily to strive for it.  We know if our missionaries are doing their best to achieve the Standards of Excellence that we will increase in not only our baptisms but reactivations.  We had a great spirit throughout the whole day and are so grateful for the devotion of these leaders.
Wednesday evening we both went out teaching again--I went with Sisters Page and Merritt.  This time we visited two active young single adults to chat with them about being member missionaries.  They were both returned missionaries themselves, so they both totally get what needs to happen; and were both willing to try and do some new things.  Then we went to visit a completely inactive young single adult who is trying to decide if he wants to get active...he has an active girlfriend who told him she wouldn't marry outside of the temple; so he is trying to figure out if he wants to gain a testimony. It was quite an interesting visit--he had a lot of questions that were pretty bizarre, and also some theories to go along with them.  He mostly wanted to debate everything.  But as these sisters spoke with him and tried to teach him, he came to realize that he had felt the spirit in his life, which was a huge realization.  But we also realized he doesn't have a testimony that God truly is his loving Heavenly Father.  He had some theories about that.  So, all we could do was bear our own simple, but bold testimonies that we knew, even if he didn't, that God was his Father in Heaven, and that He loved him immensely and wanted him to become more than what he is now.  And that we also knew that Jesus Christ is our Savior and redeemer and through his atonement we can all repent and change. As we testified, the feeling in the apartment changed, and the spirit was there.  So, it was a good night, and again I was so proud of these sisters and of their faith and desire to bring the gospel into people's lives.
Thursday Steve went and did a little bit of weekly planning with two elders in Stirling and I stayed back at the hotel because I came down with a horrible sore throat and cold.  When he was done we drove back to Calgary.
Friday we had our 'retrainers' meeting with all of our new missionaries from last transfer and their trainers.  We had a great meeting with them, discussing how they have been doing and what we could do to help them going forward.  The new ones seemed to be settling in more, and they all seemed excited about the work.  After the meeting we had a hotdog lunch with them and sent them on their way!
This week we have also been doing some squirrel hunting!  Last Sunday night when we were sitting in our living room we could hear critters up in the ceiling!  And then when we went to bed we could hear them running all over in the ceiling!  So we called our facilities manager and told him.  We knew they were skeptical--they thought for sure we were hearing something outside.  But boy were they surprised on Wednesday when the carpet cleaners came in and there was a little brown squirrel running across the training room floor down stairs!!  So, they came and set traps, and over the next few days we caught 5 squirrels.  We think it was a little family.  So, we would catch them and then take them out a few blocks away and let them go.  The workers found an outside plumbing pipe that they thought they were getting in through--so they sealed everything up.  We will see!
On Sunday we spoke in 3 different meetings.  At 9:00 a.m. we spoke in the Spanish branch--in Spanish!  I had written my short talk a month earlier and had Brad translate it for me so I could practice it.  So, then Steve decided last minute Saturday night to write his partially out and he had our assistant , Elder Cervantes, from Costa Rica translate it.  So, he didn't have much time to practice his.
We did ok giving them--but I know the people in the branch really appreciated our efforts--even if we sounded funny!  Then we spoke in a YSA ward at 1:00 and then Sunday night we spoke at a High Priest fireside in the Sefcik's ward.  Elder and Sister Sefcik serve in our mission office, and we love them.  He is also the High Priest group leader, so he had asked us to speak on 'Understanding the Atonement'.  That was humbling in and of itself, because any of those high priests could have delivered a wonderful message.  Steve did an amazing job--and he really didn't have anything written down.  I, on the other hand, had my whole talk written out.  When it's a 20 minute talk, I don't feel like I can just stand up without having it written.  Maybe that shows I'm not trusting in the Lord enough.  But, it was a nice meeting, and we were happy to do it.  So, we had another great week here on our mission.  Now we are preparing for transfers next week, and this Thursday we have a special training with our missionaries on 'How to Prepare for Ward Councils'.  Our two area seventies, Elder Spackman and Elder Evanson, will be joining us.  We are doing one in Calgary, and one in Lethbridge.  We are looking forward to this training and believe it will further our missionary work in a great way.
We can't believe May is almost over.  Each day goes by so quickly.  We are so grateful for this time to serve together.  We really have come to rely so much on each other and to be there for each other.  They told us in the MTC that our love would grow and it is so true.  I am so proud of Steve, and love watching him teach and work with these missionaries.  He is SO good with them!  I think he is the best mission president in the world!
Sister Brown had her birthday the day of MLC, so we had to get her a cake to celebrate!

Elder Stringam showing off his 'small' piece of cake

Our cute sister trainer leaders!  They are the best!

Some of our STL's and zone leaders at MLC

One of our squirrels we caught!

And here's the little critter roaming free!

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