First off, we were surprised by an invitation we received to attend a special training/video taping for Mission Presidents and Wives in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29. So, that meant we got to fly down on Monday the 28th, and see our kids!!!!! It was so fun to see each one--Mike and Leslie (& little Beck) picked us up at the airport and from there we drove to the Memory Care Center where Mom Miles is living. It was so fun to go see her and hug her. Of course she doesn't understand that we've been gone, or what we are doing, but it was so special (especially for Steve) to hug his Mom and chat with her for a bit. Dick and Brenda also came to see us with Mom, and that was really fun.
After we saw Mom we drove to our home and all of the kids came over--of course the day we arrived was the worst snowstorm they had had in awhile! So it took Katy and her boys, and the Krauss family a long time to get there. I can't even tell you how fun it was to hug our little grandsons (and our kids!) Unfortunately, Les wasn't feeling very well at all, and we were even a little worried she might have meningitis. So, she stayed back at her home-we kept Beck with us until Jord came to pick him up and go be with Les and give her a blessing. Jordan also picked up my Mom and brought her up to join the party. It was so great to see her and hug her! It was so fun to be together and have dinner together and then just chat and hang out! I was just sick that Les couldn't be there. Steve went in with Jordan to give her a blessing. She continued to get a little worse, and she kept in touch with her doctor to see if she should be going to the hospital. Finally by morning she was doing quite a bit better. All of the other kids slept over at our home--the little boys had a big sleepover downstairs in the basement, which they thought was a blast. The next morning the kids fixed 'Big Steve's', which are Steve's version of a breakfast sandwich--toasted English muffin, fried egg, ham, and cheese! They were making the most of us being together, that's for sure. Then everyone had to get on their way to work and other things, so we hugged all the little boys good-bye. The adult kids were all getting together for dinner that night for their 'sibling dinner', so it worked out so perfect, that we could just join them after our training, before heading to the airport.
Now, about our training! It was done by Elder Bednar, Elder Andersen, and Elder Oaks--three of our apostles, and then Elder Brent Nielsen, the executive director of the missionary committee, and brother Steve Allen, who is managing director of the missionary committee. There were 7 other couples besides us. I had to pinch myself that I was in a room with 3 apostles, shaking their hands, and sitting at their feet, learning from them. It was quite an experience! We had been given materials to study and prepare with, to be able to discuss. I was kind of nervous beforehand, but I had a prayer in my heart to not be nervous and to try to glean all I could so I could be better prepared to help our missionaries. It was such a wonderful experience. We felt very blessed to be able to attend in person! They re-emphasized 'teaching repentance and baptizing converts' that they had trained us on last year. It was videotaped, and then it will go out to all the mission presidents and their wives that are serving at the end of this month, to view and learn from. One thing that is changing for 2017 that will really impact us is we are going to be conducting interviews and zone conferences EVERY transfer--not just quarterly. So, that means we will be twice as busy, haha! It's hard to imagine how we can be busier, but it will all work out. We sat down to schedule out our next few months, and every single day is booked, with the exception of a few days before the transfer. It is going to take some creative scheduling, but we will figure it out!
After our training, we left the Conference center and walked down to Crown Burger and ate dinner with the kids. It was just so dang fun to be with all of our children! Then Mike and Jillian drove us to the airport to catch our plane. We got home Tuesday night about midnight.
Then we had a couple of days to catch up, then we drove to Taber to participate in their stake conference. Taber is about 30 minutes east of Lethbridge, and it is the first time we have been able to attend their stake conference, so we were really happy about it. President and Sister Baldry invited us to stay in their home--and they have a beautiful new home. We felt like we were in a star hotel! They had put chocolates by our bed, and President Baldry had folded a towel into what was supposed to be a swan--but he left us a note saying it looked more like a goose that had been hit by a car! They are so gracious--and such great people. We love the Stake Presidents we are able to become friends with and work with. I mentioned in my remarks in the stake conference that my dad had come goose hunting in Taber years ago, and afterwards I had lots of goose hunters, and farmers that owned land coming up to visit with me! It was pretty funny!
After the conference we had a wonderful lunch at the Baldry's (Teresa is a fabulous cook), and then we headed to Lethbridge to meet Elder Weatherford T. Clayton, and his wife Lisa who were coming to tour our mission. We had dinner at President and Sister Gedlaman's home (Steve's first counselor), and then we went back to the hotel to plan our zone conferences and MLC with the Claytons. They were a true delight. He had been serving as the mission president of the Canada Toronto mission when he was called to be a General Authority. So, he only served two years as mission president. I can't even imagine that happening! But, because of that, it was so great to have them with us, because they had so recently done exactly what we are doing. They were so filled with insights and great counsel. We held two zone conferences with them in Lethbridge on Monday, then we drove to Calgary Monday evening (stopping at Roy's in Claresholm to eat, and we finally had one of their famous HUGE cinnamon rolls-split between all 4 of us!--so delicious!). We got to Calgary about 9:30 or so, and all went to bed so we could meet about 7:00 the next morning to finish our planning. We then had a wonderful MLC from 9-12, followed by another zone conference from 1-5. Then we grabbed a very quick bite of dinner, and Steve and Elder Clayton went out teaching with missionaries, and Sister Clayton and I stayed back to help a sister missionary with some struggles.
Then, we had our final zone conference with them on Wednesday morning from 8-12, and then we drove them out to the airport to catch their plane. It was such a delight to have them with us. We focused in our zone conferences on our teaching skills--we role-played teaching the Plan of Salvation in 8 minutes, so we could learn to teach more succinctly. It was great. We also spoke about the importance of the sacrament, the Book of Mormon, staying obedient, and helping members use social media to spread the gospel. It was just a great conference. We were tired at the end--it has been a real whirlwind!
AND, we are having the coldest weather in 1000 days they say! And let me tell you--it is freezing!
The record low we have seen, as we were driving down to Hillspring on Wednesday to take a sister missionary down there, was -26 Celsius! That is about -14 Fahrenheit. As much as I hate wearing tights--I am wearing them!
|Steve with Beck in SLC!|
|Seeing Mom Miles in SLC|
|Teaching in Taber with Sisters Halliday and Poll|
|Note on our bed from President Baldry|
|My new friend Amy Baldry (who has special needs). We hit it off!|
|Sisters Taylor and King- our STL's in Taber|
|Sisters Taylor & King with Steve|
|Took this picture in the car while we were driving-thinking it was our new record low, but then it went to -26!|
|Elder Clayton doing a selfie with us before we left for Zone Conference!|