Sunday, November 27, 2016

Transfers and #LighttheWorld

Well, we just completed another transfer week!  We welcomed 8 new elders and 4 new sisters to our mission on Tuesday afternoon.  We had them coming from Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain, Taiwan, Canada and the States.  It was great to get them here and see them in person.  Our missionary from Spain, Elder DelMolino, is actually from Bilbao where Brad served his mission!
After the usual 'administrative' training that teaches them about finances, vehicles, apartments, health insurance and other various things, they were able to have a nice home-cooked dinner here at the mission home made by our wonderful Natasha Zandbergen.  They loved it!  They all said they were so tired of the MTC food!  Following dinner we had the assistants do a Q & A with them, and also show them a map of the mission and let them guess where they will be assigned.  And by then, they are so worn out we just get them to bed.  The elders stayed here, and the sisters stayed with Elder and Sister Sefcik, one of our office senior couples.
Then on Wednesday at 9:00 we meet again in the training room of the mission home and do about 1 1/4 hour training with them before their new trainers show up.  This is always the exciting part--they are so anxious to get their companions and go to their areas!!  It's really fun to have them open up their 'first companion' letter and see who they are with and what area they are assigned to.  After that, we send them on their way to their areas--and to really begin their life as a missionary.
Wednesday night Steve had a meeting with his counselors and on Thursday, while you were all eating a Thanksgiving feast, we had our regular transfer day.  This transfer we didn't have quite as many missionaries moving as last transfer, but we did have new cars being taken places!  I'll tell you, the cars these missionaries are getting are fantastic!  Some are these cute candy apple red Rav4's that just don't look like a missionary car!  When they first came in Sister Thorley and I had to take one for a spin around the block just to check it out!  Anyway, our assistants had a lot of work to do coordinating new vehicles being taken to areas and old ones being driven back up to Calgary.  But, everything worked out, and transfer day went smoothly.
We took our 12 departing missionaries to the Calgary Temple on Thursday afternoon.  This is always a special time with them.  It's their last time to go to the temple as a full-time missionary, and so it is a tender time for them.  Following the session we come back to the mission home for again, another delicious dinner, and then we have our testimony meeting.  It is such a joy to hear their testimonies at the end of their mission.  The sisters in this group came out right before we got here--so we have watched them for almost 18 months grow in their faith and testimony, and it is inspiring.  We are so proud of them.  Then, on Friday morning we got them out to the airport to send them on their way.  The Calgary airport has had huge renovations, and so it was a little confusing this time trying to figure everything out!  They have now separated the international flights from the others, and so we have realized that we will also need to separate our missionaries accordingly, because the areas are so far apart from each other.  But, we got them all on their way home! We wish them all the best!
Saturday Steve and I were asked to participate in the Magrath Stake Youth Conference.  They had a missionary day, where all of the youth received 'mission calls' and were missionaries for a day.  It was an awesome event, and we were able to spend about an hour with them talking about how to be a missionary now, and things they could do right now in their lives to share this wonderful gospel.
We shared with them, and I invite anyone who reads this to go to and check out #Lighttheworld.
This is a Christmas initiative from the church inviting all of us to share the light of Christ in 25 ways over 25 days beginning Dec. 1.  It is such an amazing initiative and our missionaries will be focusing on it through all of December--but the key is for the members to do it!!!  So, get on the site, and check it out and do it with your families.  It has so many great ideas of ways to serve and follow what the Savior would do--and by doing so, we share His light throughout the world.  It is AWESOME!
We also found out some wonderful news this week that we will be getting our 7th grandchild next June!!  Brad and Katy are expecting another little one, and we are so excited and happy and grateful for this news!  The big question is: will the streak of boys continue, or will we get our first granddaughter?
Our assistants teaching a woman at the airport while we wait for new missionaries!

Our new missionaries!

Missionaries from our Bow River Zone made us a collage

Elders Owens, Linford, Fullmer & Marenco putting up a Christmas tree at a senior center in Lethbridge

Our departing missionaries at the temple

Magrath Youth Missionary Day-Elder Elliott standing at the right

Elder Pentz at the Magrath Missionary Day

Elders Gray and Fullmer at the Magrath Missionary Day

The amazing initiative we will be focusing on during December

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fun week, and 35 years together!

Last week was a fun week.  We went to two different district meetings on Tuesday--one in our Calgary North Zone where Elder Fellows was the district leader and one in our Foothills Zone where Elder Rodriguez is the district leader.  They were both such good meetings.  I love going to these and seeing our missionaries teach and instruct each other...they do such a great job.  In the meeting in the Foothills zone we participated in the role plays, and I had to teach Elder Murphy the first lesson in about 5 minutes.  I have to admit I was a little rusty on it.  And then Elder Murphy had to teach me, and he did a fabulous job.  I told him I wanted to be his companion and just sit and listen to him teach.  It was really good.  The purpose of teaching in that short amount of time is just to help them learn how to focus and teach simply.  In a real teaching situation it wouldn't be that short, but this helps them know how to teach clearly and succinctly.  It is harder to do than you think!  We all like to ramble a little more than we should when we teach, and role-playing helps us hone our teaching skills!
We also had our interviews with our departing missionaries that leave this week.  On Wednesday we did the ones up in Calgary, and then on Thursday we drove to Taber to do the 3 down there.  From Taber we drove to Lethbridge to meet with the 3 Lethbridge stake presidents, President Stewart, President Atwood, and President MacLennan, and also Elder Evanson, the area authority.  We also had a few high councilors over missionary work there as well.  We just wanted to discuss the missionary work in their area, and see what the challenges are, as well as what is going well.  It was a good meeting and everyone came out with some things we could do.  We love these stake presidents, and are so grateful for all they do in the missionary efforts in their stake.  We know they carry heavy burdens, and we want to help them in their efforts.  We also love and are so grateful for the support of Elder Evanson.  He is always on board to assist us in any way.
On Friday we had our meeting for the missionaries that are going to train new missionaries this transfer.  It was a great group, one of our best, I think.  We are excited for them to train and love their enthusiasm, but also their willingness to learn and to work hard.  Our new missionaries coming tomorrow are getting good trainers!
Saturday and Sunday we participated in the Foothills Stake Conference under the direction of Elder Brian Rawson of the Seventy.  We spoke in the Saturday evening session.  I felt good about my remarks--I felt like I said what I was supposed to, and Steve did a great job too..he always does!
We learned much from Elder Rawson.  One question he posed, that really stuck with me was, "Do my habits match my hopes?"  He then spoke a bit on that question--if we have hopes of having a strong testimony, do we develop habits that will lead to it?  If we have hopes of having a strong, faithful, close family, do we do the things that will help produce that?  It's a great question to ask in so many aspects of our lives.  I have really loved attending the stake conferences and being taught by the general authorities.  It's a great blessing.
Sunday evening we had youth from the McKenzie ward of the Bow River stake come to the mission home for a little fireside.  We had two elders and two sisters teach them the first lesson, and then do a question and answer time with them.  We also showed them around the mission home a little bit and just talked with them about preparing for a mission, but also about being missionaries now.  They were a cute group.
Sunday we also celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary!  I never dreamed that I would celebrate that anniversary serving a mission, haha!  But here we are.  I have to say, I LOVE  my companion!  And I'm very glad I never get transferred from him!  We have had 35 wonderful years together and I am so grateful for him--he is the best husband ever.  And best mission president ever!!
District meeting in the Calgary North Zone

Lunch with our new trainers

McKenzie Ward youth at the mission home for a fireside

Elder Lee (our assistant who is going back into the field to train-we will miss him!!!), Elder Moffitt, who is staying, and Elder Stringam, our new assistant.  (we are excited to have him)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Interviews Done!

Last week we were able to complete all of the interviews--we finished with our Medicine Hat zone.  Our nurse, Sister Hanna, that  serves in that area agreed to bring sandwiches for lunch, so once the interviews were done we all had lunch together in the gym, which was kind of fun.  After that we took off to Magrath because Steve had his coordinating council meeting that began at 5:30 that evening.  This is the meeting with all of the stake presidents in southern Alberta, the Area Seventy, and the temple president.  And it's a long meeting!  Goes from 5:30 to about 9:30 p.m.  Usually while he is at this meeting (it is also held in different cities down south--each stake will take a turn hosting it), I can go out teaching with the sister missionaries, but in Magrath we only have elders, so I can't go out with them!  So, I spent the night in the church doing some medical logs, catching up on some emails, reading my scriptures and Preach My Gospel (to prepare for our retainer's meeting the next day), and I even face timed a couple of the kids.  Heck, when you have 4 hours, you can get a lot done! Once the meeting was done, we drove home and got into bed about 12:30 a.m.!
On Friday we had our Retrainer's meeting with all the new missionaries and their trainers.  We were able to finally hold it in the mission home, now that it is done being remodeled.  We had a good meeting with them, talking about planning, and role-playing, using the Book of Mormon, and also teaching the importance of teaching new investigators not only HOW to pray, but that they can truly receive answers to prayers.  After the training we went upstairs for a quick hotdog lunch!
Saturday we were able to attend two wonderful baptisms.  There really is nothing like a convert baptism.  It is just so sweet and wonderful to see someone take this step and embrace the gospel.  They are so happy!  One of the converts, Josh, had been investigating the church for about a year.  He is married to an active member (they are about in their mid 20's), and he spoke of his 'former' life where he drank and did drugs.  And now he speaks of how happy he is and how the gospel has changed his life.  It is such amazing thing to see!
And we love seeing the joy in our missionaries' faces as they watch someone they have taught enter into the waters of baptism!  It makes all of their hard days, and discouraging days, and long days worth it!
Sometimes as members I believe we take for granted the happiness we have in the gospel--the peace we feel, the direction it gives us, the hope we have because of it.  So, to see someone, whose life had none of those things, experience the blessings of the gospel for the first time, is just the best!
I love this gospel.  I love my life because of this gospel.  I love the happiness I feel because of the gospel.  I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I know He lives.  I love the Book of Mormon, and know it is true, and was translated by divine means through the prophet Joseph Smith.  Because of this knowledge my life has purpose and meaning and direction and happiness!!
Hotdog lunch at our retrainers meeting!

Monday, November 7, 2016


The past two weeks we have been out doing interviews with our missionaries.  It takes 3 weeks to complete them all--so this week we will finish up with our last 3.  We drove to BC for our first zone, then back to Calgary, and interviewed 4 zones here, then we drove down to Lethbridge and did our Lethbridge zones, and our Cardston zone, then we came back up to Calgary, and we will finish two more Calgary zones on Tuesday and Wednesday, then down to Medicine Hat for theirs.  It is a busy time to interview 200 missionaries!  Interviews are really good though.  Steve asked them to come prepared to share their testimony of the Book of Mormon, and he said it has been just incredible to hear these missionaries share how much they love the Book of Mormon.  I wish I could sit in on those and hear it!  Instead I get to sit out with them and talk about getting flu shots, haha!!  It's that time of the year when the missionary department asks all missionaries to receive their flu shots.  I guess somebody has to deliver the news!
But, we love seeing all of our missionaries and being able to spend one on one time with them.  I always ask them how their families are because you come to know a missionary and their circumstances when you ask about their family.  Some come from gospel-centered, loving homes, that seem like the ideal situation.  And then others (many others) come from broken homes without a lot of love or support.  This always breaks my heart.  Then there are a few that are the first converts in their families, and have parents that are upset about this newfound religion, and even more upset that their child would choose to leave for 18 months to 2 years to go teach others about it.  I have so much admiration for these missionaries!  Such faith--it is amazing.  But we have also seen with them that their parent's hearts soften, and one mother even joined the church!  An elder this past week told me that his parents are reading the Book of Mormon.  So, we see that there are sweet blessings that come from their conversion.  I have really come to love these missionaries and their desire to serve.  Yes, they can have some immaturity, yes, they can have some quirkiness, but they have chosen to leave behind all the things in their lives that mean so much to them, and come with willing hearts and high hopes to share the gospel.  And I love them for that.
On Wednesday we held our Missionary Leadership Council meeting down in Lethbridge.  As always it was a great meeting with these zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  They really come with desires to help their zones and improve the work.  We are so grateful for them!!
Friday after we had interviewed our missionaries from Fort Macleod and from Claresholm, the members of the Fort Macleod ward invited us for their Harvest supper.  Everything they served was from their gardens, and beef from their cattle!  Steve had a hefty helping of that beef, let me tell you! The members all around our mission are so warm and welcoming.  We love getting to meet them.
We have had some beautiful fall weather--in Cardston on Saturday it was 20 degrees celsius--which means it was about 70!  I am loving every minute of it, because you never know when the cold is going to hit and stay!!
Our basement remodel is now complete and it looks so wonderful!  We were able to choose some more art work that is beautiful--it seems and feels like a whole new place!  Last night we were able to have the youth from the Woodbine ward in the Foothills Stake in Calgary come to the mission home and we had the elders in that ward teach them and answer questions from them.  We also took them on a little tour of the mission home--showed them the transfer board, where the missionaries eat their first meal when they arrive, etc.  It was fun to have them here.  We love our mission home, there is such a great spirit here.
Celebrating Elders Murdock, Hawkins & Todd's birthdays at MLC

Attending the Harvest Supper in Fort Macleod with Elders Jones, Barrus, Sisters Carillo, Jensen, Christensen

Youth of the Woodbine Ward at the mission home

Me with Hermanas Dean, Vera, Schnebly, Briones