Monday, September 26, 2016

Baptism & Visit from Family

Me with my cute Mom

Jay, Jill, Melinda, Jed, Mom and Me

Jay, Jill, Jed, Mom and Us!  Saying good-bye!
This, as always, has been a great week in the Canada Calgary Mission.  We were able to attend two different Zone Training Meetings, one in our Calgary West Zone, and one in our Confederation Park Zone.  The main focus of the training (which was determined at MLC) was on the Book of Mormon--how to use it more in our teaching.  It is amazing to listen to these Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders stand and lead their zones in discussions, and help teach and train them.  And it is also wonderful to hear other missionaries give White Handbook Trainings and other things.  These missionaries have such great desires and good hearts.  They really are trying their best, and want so much to find people to teach and baptize.  We love to be in these meetings and really just sit back and watch them in action.  It is such a blessing and privilege to be working with them.  It was so powerful to hear them share how they came to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  When they stand with conviction and say, "I've read it, and I've had the spirit confirm to my heart it is true." is so incredibly touching.  There's nothing better!  We are so proud of them.
We've also been meeting with companionships throughout the mission just to discuss their areas and see how we can help them in the work.  Thursday we were gone all day just meeting with different elder and was a great day with them.  Steve was also able to go out teaching with some elders on Thursday night prior to a meeting he had with a stake president.
Friday we had our Retrainers Meeting where we met with all the brand new missionaries and their trainers.  We love that meeting.  The new missionaries have now been out about 4 weeks and they are more settled in, and it is so fun to see what they have learned.  Steve always has a session in that meeting where he asks, "What have you learned in the last 4 weeks?"  We hear a lot of answers such as-"we've learned that Preach My Gospel really works, we've learned to be patient, we've learned to love people, we've learned to rely on the Lord more, we've learned to communicate more, we've learned to be a better listener, we've learned that it is great to have a companion because they can fill in for you in a lesson when you don't know what to say, or they can back up your testimony, we've learned that everyone has strengths."
It really is amazing what they learn in such a short time.  What they learn on a mission is invaluable for life!
Friday evening we were able to attend the baptism of Rene Canales in the Spanish branch.  He is about mid fifties, and he was so excited.  The elders that taught him said he had called them, telling them he was basically tired of the life he was living and wanted to change.  So they began teaching him and he threw out all of his alcohol and began to accept every commitment they extended.  It was such a sweet baptism.  Even though it was all in Spanish, you could feel the spirit there, and I wish everyone could have seen the smile on his face.  The greatest miracle of all is the miracle of a changed heart--and you could definitely see it in Rene.  We are so blessed to be able to witness these miracles here.  To see someone completely change and accept the gospel, and feel the Savior's atonement in their lives and see the joy it brings truly is nothing short of a miracle.
Saturday afternoon was fun for us.  Two of my siblings and their spouses, Jill and Jay, and Jed and Melinda, and my mom came to visit.  It was so great to see them and hug them!  We were able to go to dinner with them on Saturday, and then my mom stayed with us in the mission home (in the one bedroom we have available due to the construction) while the others stayed at a local hotel.  Mom came to church with us on Sunday and then we all had lunch at the mission home before they took off for more sightseeing into Banff and Jasper.  We had our two assistants, Elders Lee and Moffitt, come on Saturday night and meet them and have donuts with us.  And then these two great elders shared a wonderful message from the book of Enos in the Book of Mormon with us.  It was a powerful message, and you could feel the spirit they had with them.  As I just sat there and watched these two missionaries speak I felt like I was really witnessing two true disciples of Christ.  I was so proud of them, and so grateful for the spirit they brought with them.
Tonight we were also able to meet a new senior couple that has come to our mission, Elder and Sister Anderson from Farmington, Utah.  We are excited to have them here in our mission.  They will be serving in the Siksika Branch, and in the Strathmore ward in the Confederation Park Stake.  They also have the responsibility to be in charge of the website--which is part of their official calling.  They will be a great addition here.
Elder Proctor, Rene Canales (new convert) Elders Tate & Ibanez

Our yard is completely back to normal--new sod down even!
The downstairs is still under construction though!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Zone Conferences Complete!

This week we completed all of our Zone Conferences, and just like last week, they were wonderful!
We again are so amazed at the testimonies and faith of these young elders and sisters.  We are also amazed at their resiliency!  This is hard work, and baptisms are hard to come by, yet they keep working hard and exercising their faith to find those the Lord has prepared. We felt good about our zone conferences, and had many missionaries say they left inspired and motivated to do the work, which is exactly what we wanted.  I do know that there was a wonderful spirit in each one.  In each zone conference we try to have a special musical number from members in one of the zones, and so this time we asked two of our elders from the 'islands' to sing a musical number-Elder Peihopa (from New Zealand) and Elder Manarii (from French Polynesia).  They sang a beautiful arrangement of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", but in the middle verses you switch and sing the words to "Joseph Smith's First Prayer".  So they sang in English the first verse, then Elder Peihopa sang in Mauri on one verse, then Elder Manarii in French on one, and then both back to English. It was so neat--they were both very nervous, yet excited to do it.  They have never done it before, and couldn't believe I would ask them; but it was such a great experience for them and really brought a great spirit to our zone Conference.  I just wanted to hug them after--but I can't!
  This week on Friday we held a special mission wide fast.  We prayed and fasted that we would be inspired as how to help our investigators progress, and also that we would be able to find those that the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel.  We have already had missionaries call us to tell us of new investigators they have found.  We truly know that the Lord accepts of our fasting and prayers, especially when 204 young missionaries (and senior couples!) unite together in it.
Fall is definitely in the air here--the leaves are turning yellow and it cools right down at night, but we have had some beautiful fall days.  We drove to BC on Friday to participate in a stake conference with Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy.  The drive down was beautiful- we actually took a little more time and took off on some different roads just to see other scenery.  This is such a beautiful time of year here.  I remember last year thinking fall was pretty, but we were still in such a state of shock (ha ha) that I don't think I could really appreciate it!  The colors are really gorgeous!  We are enjoying every  bit of it, since they are predicting a harsh winter ahead!!
Selfies on my phone!

Sisters Dean & Jakobi- another selfie!

Calgary West Zone

Sisters Williams, Blake, Page, Sims- selfie!

Calgary North Zone

Elders excited about their new Rogue!

Calgary Zone

Fish Creek Zone

Foothills Zone

Elder Sefcik doing his thing at car inspections!

Sister Thorley & Sefcik working at car inspections at Zone Conferences!

Elder Thorley doing inspections!

Confederation Park Zone

Bow River Zone

These sisters are pretty excited about this new Rogue!

Showing off the new car!

Island Lake in Crowsnest Pass going to BC

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beginning of Zone Conferences..

This week we began our zone conferences--one of our favorite things ever!  We began in Lethbridge with the Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Lethbridge East zones on Tuesday, and on Thursday we had the Cardston and British Columbia zones together.  In-between on Wednesday we held a Mission Leadership Council in it was a busy week.  But a great one!
In our zone conferences we review the things we taught in our mini zone conferences in August, and then we spend a whole section on how to teach repentance.  This is such a key concept to teach new investigators.  It is through repentance that people begin to feel the atonement working in their lives and begin to feel the Savior's love for them.  So, we watched video from the Preach My Gospel DVD's on 'How to teach Repentance', using the pamphlet, then we discussed it, and then we had a little role play where each companion took a turn for 7 minutes teaching the other one on the principle of repentance.  It was really good.  We also taught about the Christlike attribute of "NOT Gossiping".  We had each of the missionaries come prepared to share a Christlike attribute they admired in their companion.  For 5 minutes we just let them share these attributes, and it brought such a great spirit into the room.  We then contrasted that with what happens when we gossip and say hurtful things about others--how the spirit is 'grieved' and leaves us, and also about the damage done.
We quoted from the book of James where he tells us the tongue can be used as a blessing and a cursing--and 'these things ought not so to be'. We encouraged the missionaries to be true disciples of Christ and following his example by not gossiping-ever.
   We also played a fun question & answer game where we reward the winners with candy bars!  That was our morning session, and then we have lunch which is made by Relief Society sisters in the area (and it is always good!).  Following lunch we have a little training by Elder Thorley on vehicles (which is supposed to happen at each zone conference), and then we did something a little different.  We broke out into two groups--just the elders in one, and the sisters in the other.  I spoke with the sisters about dress and grooming, and also appropriate behavior with the elders, and then we ended by referring to Pres. Nelson's talk that he gave a year ago in General Conference, "A Plea to My Sisters".   Steve spoke with the elders also about dress and grooming, and also about appropriate behavior with the sisters, and then respect for women in general, not only on their missions, but throughout life.  He also spoke with them about being non-judgmental of other missionaries.  We felt the breakout sessions went well.
After that we spent the remainder of the conference discussing Elder Holland's talk on the atonement titled, "None Were With Him".  We had asked all of the missionaries to study and read this talk in preparation for the conference.  I wish everyone could have heard the discussions we have had.  These missionaries have such wonderful insights, and share what they have learned and how they have been touched through the atonement.  It is so powerful to hear them.  Following the discussion we actually watch Elder Holland give the talk, and then we ended with a testimony meeting, which is really quite incredible.  There is nothing quite like a testimony meeting filled with missionaries sharing what they know to be true.  It is nothing short of extraordinary.  I wish all of their parents could be there to hear them.  It is truly so amazing.  We are uplifted after every conference!  We can't wait to do the 3 in Calgary this week, beginning tomorrow!
Thursday night Steve had a Coordinating Council Meeting in Lethbridge, so we stayed there again for the night and drove home Friday, only to turn around Saturday and drive 3 hours to Medicine Hat to participate in the Stake Conference there, which was a wonderful Stake Conference.  After the Sunday session, President and Sister Salmon invited us to their home for a bite of lunch before getting back on the road to Calgary.  That was really nice--usually on Sundays after a Stake Conference that is away from Calgary, we just take some snacks in the car to eat on the way it was great to have a true lunch!  We made it home safe and sound about 5:00 to have a meeting with our assistants.  It was a great week, and we look forward to this one.
Medicine Hat Zone

Lethbridge Zone

Sisters Black & Meyer doing a selfie on my phone!

Lethbridge East Zone

British Columbia Zone

Cardston Zone

All the cute Sisters in the Cardston Zone- there's a lot!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Oops! Forgot a baptism!

I totally forgot to write about the sweet baptism we went to yesterday of Christille Bengson.  We actually met her last week at another baptism that she came to with the sister missionaries that are teaching her.  It got her so excited for her own baptism.
It was just the most special thing to see her be baptized by her boyfriend.  She was grinning from ear to ear throughout the whole service.  Afterwards, when asked how she felt, she said, "Light!"
There was just such a sweet spirit there, and to see the glow in her--it was pure happiness.  It really is amazing to see someone that hasn't had this wonderful gospel in their life come to know the Savior and feel of his love, and choose to follow him and be baptized.  This gospel is true!  I am so grateful for the happiness it gives me in my life.
Sister Rasmussen, Christille, Sister Sears, after Christille was baptized!

Our 6 little grandsons--we love getting pictures like this--it makes our day!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Another transfer week!

This past week has been our transfer week.  We welcomed in 23 new missionaries- 22 on Tuesday and then one cute sister, Sister Call, who will be speaking Spanish came on Thursday.  She was detained at the MTC because they had found a bat in her room that she shared with 3 other sisters; so they kept them there to be sure they were disease free and ok to come!  How's that for a funny story?
So, it is always great to get these new missionaries here...they are always so filled with enthusiasm and excitement, despite being tired from waking up so early to get here.  Since the mission home training room is under construction we did our training at the church close to the mission home.  It's nice there, but not as fun as when we do it here.  Following the training they walked to the mission home for a great dinner.  They are always so excited to have a home cooked meal, and not MTC food!  After dinner we had to go back to the church for the last little bit of training and they get their overnight bags and Elder and Sister Sefcik, one of our senior couples serving in the office, came and transported them all to the hotel and to their home--it took them 2 trips to do it all.  The missionaries were so glad to get to bed early!  We had them to the hotel by 9:00 p.m.--so they all got a great night's rest.
The next day after our 9:00 training with them, their new companions come and join us in the chapel at 10:15  and they find out who their trainers are and where they will be serving.  I love this meeting--to watch the new ones join with their new companions and head to their areas.  They are so excited--yet also a bit nervous..but hopefully some of the training sets them at ease.  We always teach them that this is the Lord's work, and He will guide them in it, and to trust in Him.
On Thursday we had our regular transfer day where we meet at 3 different locations to transfer everyone going north and south.  So we drive to Lethbridge and back on that day--and it's good for us to be there and see so many of the missionaries in one day.  We are able to answer some questions and are there for any problems that might arise.  There are always some tears as sisters have to leave each other and go to another area!  I always give them my quote that says, 'stop being afraid of what can go wrong and start being excited about what can go right'.  That's my official 'new companion, new area' quote!  But our transfer day went well, and everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic.
Since our departing missionaries had left the week before, we didn't have our regular afternoon at the temple and dinner.  It was kind of weird!
We spent Friday and Saturday preparing for our zone conferences which begin next week, and for our MLC which will also be next Wednesday.  So, we have a busy 2 weeks ahead of us--but they will be great.  We love zone conferences and are so excited for them.
One of our districts holding district meeting outside while the weather is good!

Our new group of missionaries from the MTC!

Elder Lee, and our new assistant, Elder Moffitt

Elders Wolfe, Eaves, Cleghorn and Ryden made us this poster in the MTC.

Meeting Hermana Call, who came on Thursday

Hermana Call (left) meeting the 3 other Spanish speaking sisters-
Hermanas Dean, Ratliff and Amaller