Sunday, April 30, 2017

One busy week! Interviews complete!

This last week has been so super busy!  We felt like we were running the whole week...late nights, 10 minutes to eat lunch, and lots of miles put on!
But on Monday we had an answer to prayers--we found a senior couple to serve in our office!  We have been praying and praying for this.  It is Elder and Sister Stephenson who are already serving as one of our housing inspector couples.  They have already served one mission in California, but after Steve spoke with them, they readily said, "Yes".  We can't even tell you how thrilled we are!  They will be great, and they begin tomorrow, which will be great because Elder and Sister Thorley and Eler and Sister Sefick, who have all extended their missions just to help us out, will be here to help train them.  We are just so grateful for all of our senior couples!
Monday we needed to drive to Medicine Hat for Tuesday's interviews, but we had to stop in Taber first--so we went the 'round about' way, and finally got to Medicine Hat about midnight.  Tuesday we were able to begin our interviews with the Medicine Hat zone, and attend one of their district meetings.  It was such a great meeting.  I wish you could see these elders and sisters teach and train.  They are quite remarkable.  I learn something from them in every meeting.  I love it.  Following that district meeting we finished up with the interviews there, and then drove on to Rosemary and then Brooks to interview the missionaries serving in those areas.  Then we headed back to Calgary, getting home about 9:30 that night.  Wednesday and Thursday we had more interviews, and Steve had his Coordinating Council Meeting with all the stake presidents and Elder Spackman up in Calgary on Wednesday night.  Friday we had our 'retrainer's meeting with our new missionaries and their trainers and it was also a great meeting.  I just love being with these missionaries.  Our assistants both did awesome trainings, and we had good discussion and training with everyone, followed by a hotdog lunch!  After that we finished up interviewing our last zone!  So, interviews for this transfer are now complete.  Saturday morning we were actually able to catch up on emails and many other things that had been neglected because of our earlier schedule and then we headed to Cardston (about 2 hours 15 minutes away), to attend the stake conference there with Elder Larry Y. Wilson and Elder James Evanson of the Seventy.  They came to reorganize a new stake presidency.  We spoke at the Saturday evening session, and then on Sunday President Low, McKenzie and Beazer were released and President Ferguson, Quinton and Nunn were sustained.  This is always such a tender time--for the old stake presidency and the new one!  We've been there and completely understand how all of them are feeling.  We have appreciated working with President Low and for his support.  And we are excited to work with President Ferguson.  And as always, it was fun to see our 6 missionaries serving in the Cardston area.  The members there tell us how much they love these missionaries--which makes us so proud!
This was our weather on Monday!

District meeting in Medicine Hat!

I think spring is coming because we see all the new little calves as we drive!
Hotdog lunch after Retrainers Meeting!

Stake Conference dinner with our sisters serving in Cardston!
Sisters Rasmussen, Stash, Ence, Smith

Steve with our Cardston Zone Leaders- Elders Wilgar & Harrison

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#8 Grandson, Will Spring Ever Come?

I forgot to write that last week we found out we will be getting our 8th grandson in October!  The boy streak continues in the Miles family! Mike and Jillian had their appointment that afternoon to determine what it would be! On Tuesday afternoon in our zone conference we asked the missionaries if they thought we would get our first granddaughter or our 8th grandson.  The vote was about 15 for a girl, and 23 for a boy!  We are pretty excited to welcome a sweet new little grandson in June, and then this one in October.  But THEN, we have another grand baby coming in December (Leslie and Jordan are expecting baby #2)--we will find out in the summer if the boy streak continues, or if a girl is on the way!
We are also wondering if we will ever get spring!  Monday as we drove to the airport the snow really began falling hard!  I have even had to wear a coat this week, and boots!  I have never wanted spring to come so badly in my entire life!
One thing I wanted to touch on is how difficult it is when we receive word that one of our missionary's grandparents has passed away.  It is such a hard phone call for Steve to make, or if he can do it in person, he tell them they have lost a sweet grandma or grandpa.  Our heart always aches for them.  We keep them in our prayers, and their families, too.  We remember when Mike was serving his mission and my dad passed away just 3 weeks before he was to come home.  I was so sad that they just 'missed' each other; especially because my dad loved Mike so much and was so proud of him.  But we know where these grandparents are; and our missionaries can go out and boldly testify of the plan of salvation, and because of their Savior, they will see their grandparents again.  The plan of salvation really becomes efficacious for them.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Zone Conferences & Mission President's Seminar

This last week has been a great one for two reasons--we had our zone conferences, and then we went to Denver to our interim Mission President's Seminar.
Because of the seminar we had to shorten our zone conferences and hold two in a day for two days.  So on Tuesday we held one from 9-12, and one from 1-4 and then did the same thing on Wednesday.
I know I've said this before, but zone conferences are the best!  I love the spirit in them and the excitement of our missionaries, and I love hearing their insights and thoughts.  This zone conference we began by watching President Monson's General Conference talk this past conference where he counseled us to always be reading the Book of Mormon, and gave us promises we would receive by doing so.  We thought this was a great way to begin our conferences especially because we had just completed reading it as a mission on Easter Sunday.  And then we just talked about what we had learned as we read it this time.  I wish you could hear what our missionaries say about the Book of Mormon.  It truly does testify of Christ and you can feel the spirit as you read it.
We also talked about working with our ward councils and finding those in the wards who are less active, or part member families, and 9 and over unbaptized children.  We want so much to bring them back into the gospel!
And then we also spoke a lot on improving our teaching.  The missionaries had studied Chapter 10 in Preach My Gospel on this and came prepared to teach the first lesson on the Restoration.  So we had a fun role-play doing it, and learned a lot from it.  Each companionship committed to identify 2-3 areas where they could improve in their teaching and to work on it.  We recognize that if the Lord is going to put people into our path, we need to be the best teachers we can be, always realizing that if we have the spirit with us, we can teach exactly what the Lord would have us teach.
We have been doing a 'spring fling' in our mission where we have been focusing heavily on being faithfully diligent!  Our missionaries are working harder than they ever have,  and are exercising their faith as never before, and we are seeing miracles happen.  They have come to realize that they can push themselves more than they thought they were capable of, and with the Lord's help, they can do it!!  And the Lord will bless them for their efforts.  It's been really exciting.
On Thursday morning we got up at 3:15 a.m. to get to the airport to catch our flight to Denver.
These seminars are so wonderful--how can they not be when you are taught by 4 General Authorities and their wives?  We had Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Wilford Andersen, and Elder Massimo DeFeo.  They are such caring and devoted servants of the Lord.  They instructed us in so many things...the power of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine of Christ, the missionary purpose, teaching repentance and baptizing converts, seeking the spirit, and so many other great things.  We were truly edified and uplifted and encouraged in our calling!  One of the other great things about these seminars is that we get to just visit with other mission presidents and their wives and talk to others who are doing exactly what we are.  It's nice to be able to bounce things off each other, and just see what each other is doing.  You really develop great friendships and its fun to see each other every 6 months.  Our seminar ended on Saturday at noon and then we caught our plane home at 3:15 and were back in Calgary Saturday night.
Today we attended the Mandarin Branch in Calgary and it was such a special meeting! Our Mandarin branch is growing, and they have a goal to get enough members to be able to move into the chapel from the Relief Society room.  One of our elders, Elder Chen, spoke and gave an awesome talk on prayer.  Then the branch president's wife spoke and gave a wonderful talk on faith, where she had one of the women in the branch translate for her.  There was such a great spirit in the meeting.  We were so glad we could be there.
  So, it has been a great week.  We are looking forward to finishing up our interviews this week.
President & Sister Pattison, (Edmonton Mission) us, President and Sister Craig (Winnipeg Mission)
the Canadian contingent at the seminar!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Where does the time go?

It is amazing how fast the time goes out here!  I feel like Monday rolls around so quickly!  We had another busy week as usual.  Last Monday we drove Elder Wolfe to the airport so he can go home to have surgery on his back.  We were so sad to send him off, but we are just planning that he will be back here quickly!!  We hate seeing any missionary have to go home for medical reasons...and so we are always praying for a quick recovery.
Then we had our usual meeting with our senior couples serving in the office.  Can I just tell you again how much we love these couples?  A mission can't run without the couples in the office!  We are so grateful for them and all they do.
Then Monday we drove out to BC to attend their zone training meeting Tuesday morning and do their interviews.  On our way out we saw the most wildlife we have ever seen!  We saw a cow moose, and tons of elk, and deer, and some mountain goats, and then Steve saw a grizzly bear!  I was looking somewhere else, and it was almost dark when he spotted it.  So we hurried and turned around so I could see it, and it was gone.  But we saw the carcass of a dead deer that it had been eating--so we knew it wouldn't go far.  We drove back and forth several times hoping to see it again, but we didn't.  I was so disappointed!  I have been wanting to see a bear in our travels!  It was exciting!
Tuesday we attended the zone training meeting with the BC zone, and it was great.  This is a zone of all elders with the exception of Elder and Sister Ebert, our senior couple.  This zone is seeing wonderful things happen because of their hard work.  I had a special experience with this zone--while the elders were sitting in the foyer of the church waiting to be interviewed, Elder Forsyth suggested we do a companion study with all of us, so we all grabbed our scriptures and read together.  Elder Walker chose our first chapter to read and talk about.  It was such a great experience with these wonderful missionaries.  We each would read 2 verses, and whenever we wanted to we would stop and make comments and talk about what we were learning.  I love learning from these missionaries!  They are just so amazing with their insights.  It was really a great experience.
Following their interviews we drove back to Lethbridge so we could do interviews with the Lethbridge and Lethbridge East zones Wednesday and Thursday and then we drove back to Calgary Thursday night.  We then did the  Calgary zone interviews on Friday and the Fish Creek zone interviews on Saturday.
Saturday evening we were asked to speak at the first ever Alberta Korean fireside hosted by the Calgary First ward.  The members there invited friends and family from all over--even as far as Saskatchewan.  It was such a special night.  These Korean saints had such a wonderful spirit about them.  Everything was done in Korean (of course, even though most speak English), so Steve and I wore headphones for translation.  There were 2 youth speakers and one adult and they all gave amazing talks.  There was also a choir that performed and then a group of 6 youth playing the violins and cello and piano.  They performed "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing".  It was beautiful--you could feel their testimonies through their music.
Steve and I each shared a few words (with someone translating for us) although as we looked out into the audience we noticed that very few wore headphones--so we then knew they understood English quite well.
After that we went into the cultural hall for true Korean food!  It was so fun!  But I have learned that they like their food spicy!  I didn't even try the KimChi because some of the other stuff I had was enough spice for me!  But, it was such a great night, and they are hoping this is the beginning of an annual tradition.  We found out there are about 20,000 Koreans living in the Calgary area.  In the year 2,000 there were about 2,000.  So, their numbers are growing.  They are wonderful saints, and you could feel their spirits.  We were so glad we could attend.
This week we begin zone conferences.  We always love these!  We are doing a shortened version of them however because of our Mission President's Seminar in Denver that we will be going to on Thursday.  We always look forward to that where we receive training, and being taught by the General Authorities.  We look forward to that like our missionaries look forward to Zone Conference!
It uplifts us and keeps us going!
This gospel is true and we love it.  Everything in my life is better because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.   It gives me hope, peace, purpose, and direction, and great happiness.  I love this gospel.  I wish everyone could hear it and embrace it.  We love to be able to share it whenever we can, and give pass along cards to people.  We meet people in the hotels we stay in, at restaurants, the grocery store, etc., and we always try to share the gospel in some way with them.  We want everyone to have a chance to hear it.  It has blessed our lives so immensely that we want others to feel what we feel.  And that's why these great missionaries are out here!  They just want to bring this joy into the lives of others.
Saying good-by to Elder Wolfe(middle) before he goes home for surgery.

Elder & Sister Ebert bought pizza for the BC zone following zone training meeting.

District leader training on Friday

The Korean youth practicing for their musical number

The adorable primary children

Some of the young men!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Interviews & MLC

This week we began our interview cycle again--it will take us 3 weeks to get through them all.  We started here in Calgary on Tuesday.  Tuesday night I had the opportunity to go teaching with Sisters Carillo and Taylor to a single gal from the Philippines named June.  It was such a sweet experience!
She has a Christian background and believes in God and Jesus Christ and so the sisters began with the very first lesson.  When they taught her about the atonement of Jesus Christ and that He suffered for our sins, she understood that quite easily, and said that she had always tried to 'not do bad things'. But when we taught her that His suffering was not only for our sins, but for all of our pains and afflictions, and that He knows how we feel when we are struggling, she got teary.  She told us that this past Christmas she had cried a lot because she was far away from her family in the Philippines and missed them so much.  We explained that the Savior knows exactly how she is feeling because that is part of what He experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We read to her Alma 7:11-12.  At first she didn't understand it, but as we explained it and as she came to grasp what we were saying, she said, 'now I don't have to be alone.'  It was the best!!  And at the end of the lesson we invited her to pray, and at first she was very reluctant because she felt that she couldn't say a long prayer, or that we might judge her.  But we told her that prayers needn't be long, and that we would not judge her in any way.  We just told her to speak the feelings of her heart.  So, she said she would and she offered the sweetest prayer ever.  I rarely get to be in on a lesson when an investigator prays for their very first time, and it was so special!  Another cool thing was after the sisters had explained Joseph Smith's vision, they asked her how she felt about it.  She said that 'it must have been a wonderful thing for him'.  It was just so wonderful to be in on that lesson with her.  I have been praying all week that the sisters will be able to teach her again, and that her heart is ready to accept the gospel.
On Wednesday we had our Mission Leadership Council here in Calgary with all the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders.  It was an incredible day with them.  We had Hillary McLachlan come speak to them.  Hillary and her husband, Rob, and their family were baptized a year ago last November.  And then this past December they were all sealed in the Calgary Temple.  She just spoke of the power these missionaries have and encouraged them to just go out and find people!  It was so powerful!
We also had great discussion and counseled together on many things. These missionaries are just amazing.  We are so grateful for them and for their desire to lead their zones and help all the missionaries be successful.
Thursday we had more interviews up north, and then we headed down to Lethbridge so we could interview the Cardston zone on Friday.  We then stayed in Lethbridge because we were participating in the Fort Macleod Stake Conference with Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy.  It was good to see him again--he had been in on a couple of our trainings prior to our mission, so it was fun to reconnect with him.  It was a great stake conference.
Following the conference we held 2 more interviews with our Claresholm missionaries, and then we drove back to Calgary.  We are sleeping in our own bed for one night, and then Monday we head to BC to do interviews there, and from there to Lethbridge to interview the two zones there, and then back up to Calgary.
We've been getting a taste of spring now and then, but this morning we woke up to huge snowflakes in Lethbridge!  I didn't put my boots back on-- but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that spring is really coming!  I know I can't really can't plan on it until the middle of May most likely!
Interviews with Sisters Shaffer and Johnson in Fort Macleod

Our entire Mission Leadership Council

Looking out our hotel window at the snow on Sunday morning!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Departing Missionaries!

I forgot to put in the picture of our departing missionaries at the temple!
Us with Elders Smith and Sorvari and Sister Lyu

Another transfer week, General Conference

This has been a great week--transfers and General Conference!  You can't beat that!
Tuesday afternoon we took our 3 departing missionaries to the temple, as is our tradition.  It is always wonderful to be in the temple with them.  I love seeing them dressed in their white clothing.
Following our session we came back to the mission home for dinner (made by Natasha!), and had a little, intimate testimony meeting with just the five of us.  Even in a group that small you can feel the spirit, and it is so gratifying to see how these missionaries have grown throughout their service in the mission field.
Wednesday morning we took the two elders to the airport to catch their flights.  Sister Lyu, the only sister going home, didn't have her flight to Taiwan until 5:30 in the afternoon, so we took her out about 3:30.  But before that, we greeted our 6 new missionaries at the airport about 2:00.  So we sent some off, and welcomed the new!  We think we are going to like this new schedule of having them go and come on the same day.  It was a little cramped this time because of Sister Lyu's late flight, but other than that, it worked out great!
Thursday morning we had a training with the new missionaries for a bit, and then their new companions came and met them and transfers began!  It is always so exciting to have the new missionaries meet their trainers and head to their areas.  This is what they have been waiting for!!
Our transfer day went smoothly with no real hiccups, which is always a relief!  We are always grateful when transfer week is complete and things went well!  Our senior couples serving in the office do so much to make transfer week successful, and we are SO grateful for them and all that they do!  There are always some changes in housing, and always changes with automobiles, and there is just a lot that goes on behind the scenes that most people have no idea of.  Senior couples are so valuable in a mission- and if you think being an office couple would be boring, you are wrong!  They have so much interaction with the missionaries, and our couples have really enjoyed their service.
Friday for the first time in a long time we took a little bit of a p-day afternoon and went out to Banff just to get out of the city.  It was really great to have a few hours of relaxing!  We are hoping that once a transfer we can do that.  I say that, but looking ahead to April and May, I'm not really seeing that come to fruition! ha ha.
Then it was great to be able to listen to General Conference this weekend.  To be able to hear President Monson was wonderful, and to hear his words of counsel about reading the Book of Mormon and how it will bless our lives was so great.  I have a real testimony that as we follow the counsel of our prophet we will be blessed.  We have seen it throughout our lives.  And I can also testify of the power of the Book of Mormon, and the spirit that comes into our lives as we continually read and ponder it.  I love the Book of Mormon.  My testimony of the Savior and of this gospel was founded through that book, and it is one of my greatest treasures.  We have been reading it as a mission and will be finishing on Easter Sunday.  It has been such a great experience.
Watching General Conference with our missionaries!

Welcoming our new missionaries at the airport!

Taking a selfie with Sister Lyu before sending her home to Taiwan!

Banff in the springtime (?)

April 1 was Elders Johnson and Ibanez birthdays, so we sang to them after General  Conference!

The Prince of Peace
The Easter Initiative the church is doing is amazing.  Go to Mormon .org and check it out, and share it with everyone you can!  Our missionaries will be sharing this message!