Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Bobcat!

Forgot to tell about the bobcat spotted on our front lawn!  We didn't see it-but our facilities manager, Tom O'Brien, who has been overseeing the basement remodel, spotted it while we were at our mission president's seminar!  Crazy!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mission President's Seminar

Meeting with our Mandarin Missionaries
I'm finally getting a chance to write!  We've had a busy 10 days.  Last Monday evening we held a meeting with all of our Mandarin speaking elders to discuss the work in their areas, and address some of the challenges they face.  We love these elders!  They have great desires to bring the gospel to as many Chinese people as they can find.  At the end of the meeting we told them we wanted them to sing the closing hymn in Mandarin and they could choose what they wanted.  They chose, "Called to Serve".  It was so exhilarating to hear them sing with such enthusiasm!  I loved it!
Following that meeting we came home and packed because we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. to shower and get ready to catch our flight for Kansas City, Missouri to attend our Mission President's seminar.  When that alarm clock went off I felt like I had been asleep for 15 minutes.  It was a short night!
We arrived in Kansas City about 1:00 and then all 26  mission presidents and wives went to the Kansas City temple together.  We had a great session, and it was a wonderful way to begin our seminar.
On Wednesday and Thursday we had training from Elder Ulisses S. Soares, Elder Wilford Andersen, Elder Scott Grow, and Elder DeFeo, all of the Seventy.  It is so awesome to be taught by them.  And what is even more wonderful is to feel the love and encouragement they give us in this calling.  We really know they are there to support us and help us.  We were also able to have training from Brother Mills of the Missionary Department--he is the director of Training for the MTC's, and he gave us great training about planning and other things.  We also had training from Brother Gale from LDS Family Services on emotional health of the missionaries, and how to help those that struggle.  So, as you can see, we received so much great counsel and training.  To sit at the feet of General Authorities and have them teach you is really a special thing.  And then we are also lucky enough to be able to sit with them at lunch and dinner, and just visit and have fun with them!  They helped us to know how to inspire our missionaries with a greater vision of this work.  We are excited to take what we learned and felt and help our missionaries and our mission go forward.
On Friday of the seminar we had a day where they took us to tour the many church historic sites in that area.  We were able to go to Independence, Far West, Liberty Jail, and Adam- ondi-Ahman.  I can't even tell you how incredible it was to be in these places that you have heard and read about and actually see them.  As we walked around Adam- ondi-Ahman, I could feel the holiness of that place.  It was such a great experience for us.
And being at Liberty Jail (the floor is the original floor of the jail) gave me new love and admiration for Joseph Smith--seeing the conditions he and the 4 other men lived in for nearly 5 months in the dead of winter.  And to think that while he was there in those deplorable conditions, came sections 121, 122, 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  It's amazing to me that while he was imprisoned there he could write the words, "let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and of his arm to be revealed."  What great faith.
We arrived home late Saturday night in time to crawl into bed and be at a meeting in the Bow River Stake Conference the next morning at 8:30 a.m.  This was such a wonderful meeting.  It was under the direction of Elder Zevallos of the Seventy, and it was held for those that are less active in the church, any non-members that would want to come, any returning members, and our missionaries.  He invited any who wanted to to share their testimonies.  It was so neat to see people who had once been completely inactive, and even antagonistic, come and share what brought them back into the gospel.  It was so touching.  One of the best meetings I've been to!
Afterwards was the general session of Stake Conference which we were invited to speak at.  It was a great stake conference.  This is the new stake that was created last December.  And it's actually the stake where we live!
We have now begun interviews, so on Monday we drove to BC to do interviews with that zone on  Tuesday.  We were able to say good-by to Elder and Sister Sonntag, our senior couple who have been serving in the Columbia River Valley.  We will miss them so much.  They have done incredible work here.  And we were able to greet Elder and Sister Ebert, who will be taking their place.  And they will be marvelous.  They are from our stake at home--we did a little recruiting to get them here, and we are thrilled to have them.  Following interviews there we drove back to Calgary to begin interviews today.  It will take us 3 full weeks to complete all the interviews!
Kansas City Temple

Liberty Jail-the prophet was confined to the lower part

The Canadian Contingent- The Pattisons (Edmonton Mission), the Craigs (Winnipeg Mission), us

Adam-ondi-ahman sacred!

Elder and Sister Ebert and us

Saying good-by to the Sonntag's

District meeting in BC

Monday, October 17, 2016

Visit from Steve's siblings and MLC

Last week was another great week.   One fun reason though was that Steve's siblings and spouses came up to visit and say Hi.  We were able to spend a little time with them, and were able to attend the beautiful Cardston Temple together and they also went with us to the Cardston Stake Conference that we were involved with over the weekend.  It was so great to see them.  We are so grateful for their love, prayers and support in our behalf.
We also held our Mission Leadership Council in Calgary on Wednesday and it was such a fantastic meeting filled with the spirit, and it was so edifying and uplifting.  In the afternoon we pulled all 40 chairs into a circle and had discussions about leading the way the Savior would, and also about increasing our personal desire to find and teach more people.  These missionaries are so amazing with their insights and views and knowledge and faith!  MLC is really one of our favorite meetings.  We also discussed how to plan and prepare for a baptismal service and all the details that go along with that, and how important it is to invite our investigators to those baptisms.  The whole day was just wonderful.  Now we count on these leaders to take what we discussed to their zones and teach them.  And they always do a fantastic job at that.
After our MLC we went to meet Elder Tu, our new missionary from Taiwan that had just arrived in our mission.  They had kept him for one week longer in the MTC so he could work on his English a little bit.  He is a great young man and we are so excited to have him here working with the other Mandarin speaking elders in our mission!
On Saturday afternoon before the evening session of stake conference in Cardston I went out teaching with three sisters-Sisters Palmer, Hathaway and Blaser.  And Steve went out teaching with Elders Todd and Browning.  I had 3 great lessons!  One with a member family, one with a less active young single adult, and one with a non-member young single adult.  Each lesson was so good.  The sisters had planned and prepared well for them and did a great job.  It was really fun to be out teaching with them and see them in action.  I was so proud of them.
After that we went to the dinner at the stake centre with President Lybbert and his wife Shannon, and Elder and Sister Spackman (our visiting authority) and the other members of the stake presidency and their wives, and President and Sister Hardy of the Cardston Temple.  Oh, I forgot to mention that on Friday when we went to the Cardston Temple with Steve's siblings, after our session, President Hardy took us on a little tour of the temple and we were able to go to the baptismal font area, and it was so beautiful.  The Cardston Temple is just so unique!  It was the 6th temple built, and the first one outside of the United States.
Our Sunday morning session of Stake Conference was completely devoted to member missionary work!  It was so awesome!!!!  President Lybbert really challenged his stake to step up and improve in this area, and then Elder Spackman also echoed President Lybbert's words.  So we are ready for things to take off in Cardston!!
We drove home from Cardston and made a yummy dinner with Steve's siblings and had 4 of our missionaries come eat with us and then share a message.  We had Elders Moffitt and Lee, and Sisters Frandsen and Blake--and again, we were so proud of them and the messages they shared.  We just love our missionaries!  We then hugged Mike and Sandy, Marsha and Clark, and Dick and Brenda goodbye and sent them on their way to their hotel by the airport.  We are so grateful for amazing family that have been such good influences in our lives and in the lives of our children.
Zone leaders enjoying lunch at MLC

Lunch is always good!

Can you see why we love these missionaries?

Our new Elder Tu with his trainer, Elder Fong

At the temple with Steve's siblings

One last picture with the siblings & missionaries before saying good-bye

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Transfer week-9 new missionaries!

Tuesday we welcomed 9 new missionaries to our mission.  8 straight from the MTC, and then Sister Briones from Mexico arrived about 2 hours later.  She has been waiting for her visa to get here for at least 2 months, so we were really excited to get her here.  She has been serving in the Mexico mission while she waited.  They are a great group.  As always, they are very tired when they get here because of getting up so early; but they still have to go through the administrative training that is necessary.  But then we gave them a good dinner and got them to bed early that night.  On Wednesday morning before they received their new companions, they looked so much more refreshed and alert.  They still looked a little anxious and nervous, because they knew that real mission life was beginning!  Getting a new companion and going to a new area, new apartment, and going out teaching!  It is always fun to see them meet their trainers and to watch them all load up their cars and head to their new areas! Besides Sister Briones, we had one other sister from Mexico, and they were both so excited to see snow for their first time.  I told them they would see it on Friday, so to go buy their winter coats and be ready!! And it did snow Friday--our first snow of the season!  I think winter is here.
Thursday was our regular transfer day where we transfer all the missionaries throughout the mission.
It's always a fun, busy, crazy day.  We start in Calgary, go to Lethbridge, and then back to Calgary.  Everything went smoothly--even with bringing in new cars and getting them out to different companionships.  I have to say it's a little scary giving these brand new cars out to the missionaries--we hope they take good care of them, and that there are no accidents!  The main accident that happens is  backing up!  We train and train and train on it, and the companion is always outside the car helping them back up--and yet for some strange reason, it still happens!  We'll keep training.  And now we are adding winter driving to the mix!
Anyway, on Thursday after we got the transfers done, we took our departing missionaries to the temple.  This is always a wonderful time to be with them.  They are very reflective and their feelings are very tender.  They wonder if they will ever again see some of the people they have come to love.  Especially our missionaries that come from outside North America.
  Following the temple we come back to the mission home for a yummy dinner and then we have a testimony meeting.  I wish everyone could listen to these departing missionaries share their testimonies of the Savior.  It is really powerful and I am so proud of them and what they have become.  Some of them really fought to be here, and it is so gratifying to see that they made it, and gained a strong testimony in the process.
Friday morning we got them all off at the airport and sent them on their way!  It is hard to give that final hug good-by, but I keep picturing their family at the other end waiting to greet them, and that makes me happy to send them off.  We love them and are so grateful for their service.
This weekend in Canada is Thanksgiving weekend.  The actual day is Monday, but people will have their dinners anytime over the weekend.  So on Saturday, Elder and Sister Sefcik, who serve part time in our mission office, invited us to their family Thanksgiving dinner.  They also invited a number of our missionaries--so it was a fun time for us, and we were grateful for the invitation.
Our office couples are all amazing.  They put in so much time, and do so much for our mission.  People have no idea what it takes to run a mission--the finances, the housing, the cars, the scheduling, and so many other things.  We are so grateful for all of them!
Sunday morning we spoke in the Valley View Ward in Calgary, and used excerpts from both Elder Neil L. Andersen's and Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talks this past general conference on member missionary work.  We know that if members of the church worldwide will follow their counsel, it will have an incredible impact on people being brought into this wonderful gospel.  We want so much to grow the kingdom here in the Canada Calgary Mission!
New missionaries from the MTC!

Sister Briones from Mexico

Transfer day!

Elder Assily-aka the Cameraman!

Transfers in Lethbridge

Departing missionaries at the temple

First snow of the season!

Thanksgiving dinner with the Sefciks

Us with the Sefciks

Elders Rausch, Sanderson, Manarii doing a selfie!

another selfie of elders!

More elders at the Thanksgiving dinner


Monday, October 3, 2016

Another great week topped off with General Conference!

This has been another busy week--in fact I haven't had time to write about it until now!
On Tuesday we were able to attend two different district meetings in the Bow River Zone.  As always we love seeing these missionaries conduct these meetings and teach each other.  Their insights are always so amazing.  We were also able to attend another district meeting on Wednesday in the Calgary North Zone, which was great as well.
Tuesday night we were able to attend the baptism of Patrick Michael Joseph Cutler.  He was taught by Sisters Earnhardt, Frandsen, and Stash.  It is just so incredible to see someone's life change because of the gospel.  He is a man in his 50's, never married, and no family around.  But now he has these brethren in his ward to love and fellowship him.  It was so neat to see the men in the quorums rally around him.  The bishop of the ward was the one to baptize him.  These convert baptisms are just the best.  We love to be able to attend them.  There is always such a great spirit there.
On Thursday we left at 9:30 a.m. and drove to Ft. Macleod, Lethbridge, Raymond, Magrath and Cardston interviewing missionaries that will depart this week for home, and some other missionaries needing help.  We got home about 9:30 p.m.  But it was a great day--and we actually found a new little Mexican restaurant in Cardston to eat at!  We took 3 of the sisters serving there to dinner with us after we met with them since they didn't have a dinner with members that evening.  And the food was great!  An LDS family that had been living in Calgary decided to go after their dream of opening a restaurant, and so they moved to Cardston and did it!  It is great because there really aren't any options in Cardston but the Subway, and DQ!  Well, there are a couple of little places, but not much!  So this was a good find!  It was a great day seeing so many missionaries, and it was a great fall day to travel.
On Friday we had our New Trainers meeting with the missionaries that will be training our 10 new missionaries arriving tomorrow.  We feel so good about these trainers.  Training is such an important assignment as a missionary--they really set the example for this new missionary coming in.  The new trainers really feel the responsibility of this new assignment and are all a little nervous about it--but we think that is good.  When you are nervous you tend to be more humble and seek the Lord's help.
We think they will be great.
Saturday of course was General Conference which was so wonderful to be able to listen to.  We were so inspired and also very excited about the talks which Elder Andersen and Elder Oaks gave about member missionary work--how it is the responsibility of each one of us to share this wonderful gospel with those around us.  We have truly learned out here just how important that is.  When members bring referrals, or introduce missionaries to their friends, it is so much better!  Most of the time these people are prepared to hear this wonderful message.  I am trying to do my part and be more bold about sharing this gospel with anyone I come in contact with.  Today at the store where we had to pick up a suit for Steve the little gal helping us told us how she goes to Salt Lake all the time.  I asked her why and she said it was because she goes to see her favorite aunt and her cousin there, and her cousin just got home from a mission to Toronto.  So of course I asked her if she was a member of the church, and she said 'no.'  I asked her if she would let our missionaries come teach her what her cousin had been teaching in Toronto.  She was a little hesitant, and said she wanted to study more about all religions in the world-- I responded that I thought that was great, but why not let someone of our faith come and really teach her what we believe as Latter Day Saints?  So, she asked me if I had a card.  Do I have a card?  You bet I do!  So I gave her a pass along card with the link to the video "Because Of Him" and wrote my name and number on it.  I told her to watch it and then call me.  I'm hoping that video will speak to her heart!  Who knows if anything will come from it--but it felt good to open my mouth and not be fearful!  We have been teaching the members here that their success is  in extending the invitation...not in the outcome.  So, everyone  out there reading this--extend some invitations!
On Sunday after conference we were able to attend the sweetest baptism of a family of 4- the Reyes family who was taught by our Spanish sisters, Sisters Dean and Ratliff.  Sister Ratliff goes home on Friday, so what a wonderful way to end her mission!!  Actually there are 6 members in the family, but only the parents and two oldest children were baptized.  The other two children are only 6 and 4, but they are so excited for the day they can be baptized.  They are such a beautiful family--I can't tell you how special it was to see them be baptized.  That is what this wonderful gospel is all about--bringing families and others to the Savior, so they can have all the blessings possible to them.  It was such a spiritual baptism.
We are now getting ready to welcome 10 new missionaries tomorrow!  This will be another busy, but fun week.  This work is amazing.  It is incredibly hard; but the Lord sustains us and strengthens us in it every day.  He helps us do things way beyond our capacities and abilities.  I love this gospel and am so blessed because of it.  My testimony of the Savior truly is my greatest treasure.
District Mtg. with Sisters Ence, Dobyns, Frandsen, Earnhardt, Stash, Elders Miller & Brown

District Mtg. with Elders Harris, DeYoung, McNeil, Sisters Melville & Boylan

Role plays at District Mtg. in the Calgary North zone

Baptism of Pat Cutler- with Sisters Earnhardt, Frandsen and Stash

Sisters Gleason and Merritt

New trainers: Front row: Sisters Dean, Jensen, Sims, Caldwell, Ence
Back row: Elders King, Fong, Grinwis, Mecham

This stole our hearts-- we got a text picture of our youngest grandson Beck, watching Pres. Monson on tv during conference.  Is this the sweetest thing ever?

Lunch with the Fish Creek Zone at the mission home in-between conference sessions on Sunday.

Hot dog lunch!

Baptism of the Reyes Family--left back: Sisters Dean & Ratliff with Lorena
Front row: Avril, Christian, Junior, Melissa and Junior, Sr.
isn't this a beautiful family?