Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Zone Conferences complete! Merry Christmas!

We completed our final zone conference for the Lethbridge East and Medicine Hat zones in Taber on Friday.  And it was just as wonderful as the others!  The music was beautiful, we had a guitar and violin accompany  some sisters on one number, and then some sisters sang Acapella on another number, and they were so nice.  We love how the missionaries are always willing to share their talents and bless us with the spirit.  The testimony meeting of course was the highlight.
We are really excited to begin reading the Book of Mormon together as a mission beginning tomorrow and ending on Easter Sunday, April 1.  We know it will be a remarkable experience for our mission.  We love the Book of Mormon and know that it truly does testify of our Savior and of His love for each one of us.  Merry Christmas everyone!
Sisters Moss, Williams, Follet & Johnson  doing a selfie on my phone!

Elders Boss, Johnson & Eaves-another selfie!

Enjoying lunch in Taber at zone conference!

Elders enjoying lunch!

Showing off white elephant gifts!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

More zone conferences for Christmas!

On Wednesday we had our zone conference with the Fish Creek, Bow River, Confederation Park and Bow River zones.  And then on Thursday we had zone conference with our Lethbridge and Cardston Zones down in Magrath.  As with the other conferences, there was a great spirit in each one.  We had absolutely wonderful musical numbers in each one--cello, piano, singing, flute, and organ!  We have some very talented missionaries, and they try to do numbers that bring the spirit.  And the testimony meetings in each one were so powerful...they are my favorite part.  We also had yummy lunches, and a lot of fun doing our white elephant exchange.
In each conference we gave the missionaries a copy of the Book of Mormon with our testimony in it and invited them to read it with us beginning Christmas Day and ending on Easter Sunday, April 1.
We have done this before as a mission and it has been such a great experience to all be reading it together.  We know there is a power in the Book of Mormon that can't be found anywhere else, and we want to help our missionaries follow President Monson's counsel in his last conference address to read and study it daily.  We know it will bless their lives--it has blessed ours immensely!

The Sefciks helped make our lunch!

Bow River, Confederation Park, Foothills, Fish Creek zones showing off white elephant gifts!

The Lethbridge and Cardston zones showing off their white elephants!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Zone Conferences

On Thursday afternoon we drove out to BC to begin our Christmas zone conferences and to do their interviews.  We've been having really great weather lately and it was nice to NOT drive in snow and ice like we usually do when we go out there.  But the weather is changing and snow has come and freezing temps are on the way!  Have to admit I was enjoying the unusually warmer weather.
The zone conference in BC is always a small, intimate one, with only 10 elders serving there, and 2 senior couples...but, it is always a great conference and the spirit was really strong. Our zone conference today had 3 zones, the Calgary Zone, Calgary West, and Calgary North.   We made these zone conferences a little different in that we spent quite a bit of time focusing on the birth of the Savior and watching Christmas Mormon Messages that were very powerful. We had some wonderful musical numbers in the one today--our Mandarin missionaries sang a beautiful rendition of 'Away in a Manger', and our Spanish missionaries sang 'Oh Come All ye Faithful'.  Then 4 of our sisters sang, 'Mary did you Know?' We also spent time talking about finding and teaching through our service and sharing experiences as we have been doing the #LighttheWorld initiative. After lunch we had a fun white elephant exchange in the cultural hall, where we had a lot of laughs as we passed gifts right, left, right, right, left and so on!  We closed each conference with a testimony meeting--which in both instances was very touching.  As I've said before, we wish everyone could listen in on a missionary testimony meeting and hear them share their feelings about the Savior.  The spirit is so strong!
We love these missionaries and are so grateful for their testimonies and faith.  We know it is hard work, and they face a lot of rejection--but they keep going and are so resilient.  We are so grateful for their decision to serve and cherish our time to be involved in this great work with them.
Sunday evening we were able to attend the baptism of Sara Gundowry, who Elders Wolfe and Grinwis taught.  It was such a sweet baptism.  There is nothing more special than a baptism, especially of a new convert who is embracing the gospel for the first time.  We really love it when we are able to attend these baptisms--we can't get to all of them, and many times our schedule doesn't allow us to go, but we love it when we can.
Getting ready to pass white elephants in BC!

Elders Pugmire & Wolfe with their gifts!

BC zone showing off their white elephants!

Baptism of Sara Gundowry!

Cute sisters enjoy lunch at zone conference in Calgary!

Lunchtime at zone conference!

Calgary, Calgary West, Calgary North zones showing off their white elephants!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Great transfer week!

Last week was another great transfer week as we said good-by to 19 missionaries and welcomed 9 new ones in.  It is always bitter sweet as we send wonderful missionaries home that we have grown to love--we enjoy taking them to the temple the night before and having a great dinner with them and their final testimony meeting.  I know I've said it before, but I wish everyone could listen in on a final testimony meeting and hear the power of their testimonies as they share their feelings about their mission and the Savior.  It's a pretty incredible thing to be part of.
We took all of those missionaries to the airport Wednesday morning and it took us so long to get them all on their way that we just stayed and waited for the new ones to come in!  Usually we have time to go home for awhile and then come back, but not this time.  So, it was great to meet our 9 new ones- only 1 sister and 8 elders!  The number of sisters we have is shrinking!
We had our usual training meeting with them that afternoon and a delicious home-cooked meal by Natasha (which they always love because they are so tired of MTC food!), and then a little more training before getting them to bed early at the hotel!  Then on Thursday morning we started at 8:00 a.m. with a little more training and by 9:30 they had met their companions and were on their way!  It's always fun to see them meet their trainers and head to their areas!  Then transfer day went on as usual as missionaries were being transferred in Calgary and some from the north to the south and vice versa!  But it always works out and everyone gets where they need to be!
This week was a special week because we also welcomed our very first granddaughter!  Little Nina Dee Stobbe arrived on Friday weighing in at 8 lbs. 15 ozs.  We are thrilled she is here healthy and strong, and her mom is doing so well.  After 8 little grandsons that we absolutely adore, it is fun to have a little girl! And then our youngest son, Mike and his wife Jillian, had the blessing of their little baby, Remington Stephen Miles, on Sunday.  We are so grateful for the blessing of eternal families!
We have such an incredible family who have supported us throughout our mission and we love them so much!
Our departing missionaries at the temple!

All of the departing sisters!

Our newly arrived missionaries at the airport!

The Stobbe's at the hospital with their new little Nina!

Nina Dee Stobbe-first granddaughter!

Jillian and Mike on Remi's blessing day!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Getting ready for transfers!

This past week was our week to prepare for transfers which happen this week.  Until you do it you would never realize what all goes in to making a transfer happen.  First off, many prayers offered to determine where the Lord wants missionaries to go, and with what companion.  It is really quite a special thing to watch unfold as Steve receives guidance on this.  I am just always praying for him to receive the inspiration he needs!  And he always does.  Then, there is what goes on in the mission office--our senior couples there, the McNary's, Stephenson's and Elder Cushman get housing, cars, phones, arrival packets all ready to go, along with transportation on Tuesday for the departing missionaries and then again on Wednesday morning when they go to the airport and Wednesday afternoon when we pick up the new ones, and again on Thursday when many missionaries get transferred between the north and south!  It's quite a remarkable thing to watch!  We are so grateful for these couples and their hard work!  They are amazing.
We also held departing interviews for the missionaries leaving this week--this is always a tender time for them to have their last interview with Steve.  On Wednesday afternoon we were able to pick up a new Mandarin speaking elder, Elder Chan,  from the airport.  He is from the UK, and had completed his training at the MTC.  We were excited to get him here in our mission!
On Friday we held our New Trainer's meeting for the 9 missionaries that will be training the 9 new ones arriving on Wednesday.  Because the one sister that is training was ill with the flu, we had 8 elders at this meeting, and it was a great meeting.  They are all enthused about training and are committed to do their best.  We are excited for them to get their new companions this week.  A lot of trust is given to a trainer because they really set the tone for the new missionary.  We have full confidence in them and know they are called by the Lord to fulfill this assignment.
Saturday and Sunday we were able to participate in the Fish Creek Stake Conference in Calgary with Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy.  He was so kind and humble and taught us about taking time to take care of our spouses and our children, and to hold family councils and the value that can come from them.  It was a great conference and their choir was amazing!  And we had 3 of our sisters singing in it which made it all the better!
We are looking forward to this week of transfers!
The elders at our New Trainer's lunch

Love these bunnies at the Tipton Road Chapel!

Picking up Elder Chan at the airport!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mission Tour with Elder and Sister Nattress

I think our mission pace is accelerating!  I can't seem to find time to write, but hopefully can get a few things in today!  Clear last week- Nov. 16-17 we had the privilege and blessing of having Elder K. Brett Nattress of the Seventy, and his wife, come tour our mission.  We loved having them here with our missionaries and teaching and training them.  Our missionaries left feeling very inspired and uplifted.  We held two zone conferences with them--one for all the zones in Calgary, and one in Lethbridge for all of the southern zones.  Because of illness Elder Nattress wasn't able to arrive until Thursday afternoon (one day later than scheduled), so we re-arranged our first conference to begin a little later in the morning so our missionaries would have more time with him when he got here Thursday afternoon about 2:00.  So, the Calgary zones had him for two hours Thursday afternoon, and then the southern zones had him for all of Friday.  It is always so special to have a General Authority come to your mission, and to have his wife come with him.  They have served as Mission President and wife in the Gilbert, Arizona Mission, so they completely understand what we are doing and all of the challenges and blessings that come with this calling.  It is great to be able to visit with them.  Our missionaries loved hearing their testimonies and feeling of their love.
On Saturday and Sunday we were also able to join with them to participate in the Lethbridge East Stake Conference with Pres. Stewart.  It was a great conference, and we really enjoyed being there.  One of the blessings of this calling is to be able to attend 28 stake conferences each year and to feel of the great spirit in each one and be lifted and inspired.  I don't love speaking at them all, but have learned to trust in the spirit to help me know what to say at each one.
After that stake conference we drove home so we could be back in Calgary to do a youth fireside with youth from the Confederation Park Stake.  We did a question and answer with them, and with their leaders and it was a good night as well.  We were tired when it was all done, though!
On Monday we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary and were able to go out to dinner and we were happy that we were able to share a #LighttheWorld pass-along card with our cute little server.  She was young adult age and just had such a great smile and personality, and she said she would watch it, because she wanted to know about Mormons.  We hope she will be touched as she goes to the website!
On Tuesday morning we drove to Radium and met Elder and Sister Ebert, our senior couple serving in the Columbia River Valley.  It was great to be with them and to hear all that they are doing.  All of our senior couples serve in these unique branches, and are such a blessing and asset to the branch.  We don't know what this branch will do when the Eberts leave!  We are so grateful for all of our senior couples serving.  They are great examples of faith and devotion!  We have another new couple, the Manwarings, serving out in BC in the Trail Ward and Nelson Branch.  They arrived while we were at our mission president's seminar.  And then we had another couple arrive just prior to our mission tour, Elder and Sister Jarvis, who will be serving in Banff.  And this week Elder and Sister Amberson arrived who will be serving in the Diamond Valley Branch south of Calgary.  We are so grateful for them all!
After our meeting with the Eberts we drove clear out to Trail, BC, arriving about 8:00 Tuesday night. We had to travel some pretty slushy roads through the mountain passes to get there.  Then on Wednesday we began in Trail and interviewed our missionaries there, then we drove 1 1/2 hours to Creston to interview our missionaries there, and then we drove another hour into Cranbrook to interview the 4 there.  Then we drove 1 1/2 hours to Sparwood to interview the 2 serving there.  And then we took those two with us into Lethbridge, because the night before they had hit a deer with their car and it was in for repairs, so we had to get them into Lethbridge to be able to come up with other missionaries to our Retrainer's meeting on Friday.  Thursday we did all the interviews with the Lethbridge zone, which completed our interviews for the transfer!  We then drove to Cardston to go on a teaching appointment with Sisters Romney and Russell, and we were able to meet the sweetest family with 4 boys!  The wife is active in the church and the husband is not a member, and the sisters are teaching him.  They were such a great family and we pray he will feel a desire to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  After that we drove home to Calgary!  We were exhausted when we got home!  We had driven 1600 kilometers between Monday and Thursday!
Friday morning we had our Retrainer's Meeting with our 18 new missionaries and their trainers.  We always love this meeting and are so excited to see these new missionaries that arrived 4 weeks ago!
We love hearing what they have learned and are learning and to see how they are blossoming as missionaries and how their testimonies are growing.  It's a remarkable thing to watch.  We also see them grow in their confidence to be a missionary, and also in their trust in the Lord that He will truly guide them in this work.   We are excited to be utilizing Family History in our missionary work and also to begin the Christmas initiative this year #LighttheWorld.  We encourage everyone to go onto and participate in this great event--and determine how you will personally light the world this Christmas season.
Zone conference lunch!

Lunch line at zone conference!

Elder & Sister Jarvis- our new senior couple serving in Banff

More lunch pics from zone conference!

Elder & Sister Nattress and us at Zone Conference

Love visits from our returned missionaries! Ali Blake, Kendra Frandsen,  Noelle Dobyns

Spotted this big guy on our way to BC

Retrainers lunch!

Everyone enjoys lunch!

Cute sisters at our Retrainers lunch!

Love these great elders!

More visits from returned missionaries-Erika Black and Brackin Stringam

Elder & Sister Amberson