So, last week, we were able to meet with our Spanish elders to help them in the work, and we felt like it was a great meeting with them, and they were motivated to go out and work hard. We were also able to attend a district meeting in the Calgary North Zone, with Elder Dredge as the district leader and it was also a great meeting. I am so proud of these district leaders and their abilities. They always put so much thought into their meetings, and try to make them edifying and uplifting. It was good to be there! And afterwards, Elder Dredge shared Oreo cookies from the states that his mom had sent up. The missionaries all swear that the U.S. Oreos are better than the Canadian ones. I wouldn't really know!
We were also able to interview all of our departing missionaries that will leave this Friday to return home. This is a great group of elders leaving us (no sisters this time), and we will miss them. I am so thankful to have had this past year with them and to see them grow in their testimonies and faith, and to see what dedicated, wonderful missionaries they have been.
We also had a new trainers meeting on Friday for the missionaries that will be training our new ones coming in tomorrow. We always love this meeting, and are grateful for these missionaries that are excited and ready to train. This is one of the most important assignments a missionary can be given-to train a new missionary, because they really set them on the path of how missionary work should be. They can really set the tone for their whole mission. We feel we have a great group. After the training we had a hotdog lunch for them upstairs.
Then this past weekend we were able to attend 3 incredible baptisms- Ben Venema, Ryan Ford, and Aydin Baltaci. As I've said before, to attend a convert baptism is so special. All 3 of these people being baptized are pioneers in their own families. They are the only ones to become members of the church, and one with a little bit of opposition. I am always amazed to see their faith to embrace the gospel and go forward even when they don't have any support from family. Both Ben and Ryan are young single adults, and have been greatly influenced by their friends. It was so neat to see the love and support from their peers. And Aydin's situation is so unique. He and his wife and son are from Turkey. They immigrated here about 2 1/2 years ago to escape the problems in that country. So, they are of the Muslim faith. But they moved into a neighborhood where they had a Mormon neighbor who befriended them. And, eventually they began taking the missionary lessons from Elders Roberts and Misiluki. Both he and his wife read the Book of Mormon and gained a testimony of it, and of the prophet Joseph Smith, and of living prophets. They both wanted to be baptized, but were a little hesitant because of her parents who are still living in Turkey, and were wondering what they would think. Aydin also didn't know if he could commit to paying tithing. But, then they both decided he should get baptized because they wanted to have him have the gift of the Holy Ghost to be in their home. How sweet is that? So, Steve interviewed him just to be sure he was really ready, and to determine if it would be alright with extended family, even though they are not returning to Turkey.
All throughout the lessons, and in Steve's interview, they have had a returned missionary from Turkey there to translate. Aydin's wife, speaks English quite well, but Aydin's english isn't nearly as good, so they wanted to be sure he was understanding everything being taught. This returned missionary, James Clark, loved being able to use his Turkish outside of the mission field! So, what a great experience for him, and he is the one that performed the actual baptism. Anyway, it was such a sweet, tender baptism. His wife told us afterwards that she just 'felt the Holy Ghost the whole time'. And their little boy, James, was upset, because he wanted to be baptized as well! We really feel that the mom and James will end up being baptized soon. Her parents are coming from Turkey to visit for 6 months--and they want to introduce them to the gospel and this new religion they have found and show them how wonderful it is. Another neat component in this story is that another couple from Turkey, who are also converts to the church and live in Edmonton, have been fellowshipping the Baltaci's over the phone and sharing their testimonies. And when we got to the baptism on Saturday, this couple had driven down from Edmonton to be part of it! It was all just so neat.
That's what this missionary work is all about. To bring these wonderful people, who knew nothing about our Savior, Jesus Christ, into his gospel. It is just inspiring to see them and hear of their faith.
|Meeting with Spanish elders in Calgary|
|Eating Oreos after district meeting!|
|Hotdog lunch with new trainers!|
|Another view of the hotdog lunch at mission home!|
|Sister Sears, Ryan Ford, Sister Lane|
|Elder Misiluki, James Clark (translator) Aydin Baltaci, his wife, Elder Roberts|
|The couple second from the right are the converts from Turkey who came from Edmonton|
|Ben Venema's baptism (middle back) with some of his friends|
Elders Moffitt, Stringam and Chen, who taught him.