Monday, July 31, 2017

Lots of Visitors, New trainers meeting, preparing for huge transfer!

Last week Steve did 37 interviews for departing missionaries at 30 minutes an interview!  That's a lot of time spent!  The missionaries always enjoy this final interview with their mission president though--some are really sad to have it come.  But I have to think there is a twinge of excitement, too!
We also had our New Trainer's meeting on Friday.  We will have 30 missionaries training the new ones arriving tomorrow!  This is the biggest group we have ever had come--28 tomorrow, and then 2 Mandarin speaking elders arriving on the 15th.  We had a good meeting, and discussed the importance of loving and caring for your new companion, and setting a good example for them.  We also talked about striving to achieve our Standards of Excellence each transfer, effectively using Preach my Gospel, being obedient, and being humble enough to accept your new companion's suggestions for the work.  We have a good group of trainers and are excited for them to go forward with this new assignment.  This transfer will really change up our mission as we welcome 30 new missionaries with their enthusiasm and excitement, and I think in September we get 23 more!  It's quite a turnover!
So, we have been busy preparing for this week and all the little details that will happen with this transfer, with so many going and coming.  We also spoke in two different sacrament meetings on Sunday, one in the Confederation Park 6th ward, and one up in Airdrie.  Of course we spoke on member missionary work--we just hope something we said might have inspired someone to reach out to a friend, or acquaintance and share the gospel with them.  We realize that when we were home we weren't the best member missionaries, and so we feel like we need to repent and not only do better here, but do better when we get home!  We have committed to talk with everyone we can about the gospel, and we have had some great little experiences, with hotel clerks, housecleaning staff at the hotel, gas station attendants, servers in restaurants.  Two agreed to have the missionaries meet with them, one took a pass-along card and said she would watch the video of Christ on it, and we gave one a Book of Mormon.  It really has been fun to do, and we feel like we are doing what we should do, and we pray that one of them will actually embrace this wonderful, glorious gospel, and receive the blessings from it.  If every member of the church that is 12 and older would pray about just one person to share the gospel with--think what could happen!  It would be incredible!
We also had great visits this week--one from our returned missionary, Angel Rodriguez and his girlfriend Andrea.  Then, my dearest friends of 37 years, Sue and Annie and their husbands, Kery and Gary came to visit.  We were able to go to dinner with them and catch up!  It was so fun to see them!  And then on Thursday night my youngest brother Brett, and his two oldest twins, Devin and Hope, and my Mom came to visit.  It was so great to see them!  They spent the night with us and attended our New Trainer's meeting with us on Friday.  We even had Devin and Hope be the investigators in a role play with our assistants.  It was great!  It was wonderful to see them, and we sent them on their way home Friday after the meeting.
This transfer we say good-by to one of our assistants, Elder Assily who has served so faithfully and diligently.  We will miss him, but know there are great things in store for him as he returns home.  And so we welcome a new assistant in- Elder Wolfe.  And we are excited to have him serve in this capacity.  One thing I have learned, is that as we send wonderful, diligent great missionaries home, the Lord always sends us wonderful new ones to replace them!  And so the work keeps going!
Sue, Lori, Annie-friends for 37 years!

Andrea, Angel Rodriguez-one of our returned missionaries!

Devin, Mom, Brett, Hope--up for a quick visit!

Devin & Hope ready to go to our New Trainer's Meeting.

My cute Mom1

Hope & Devin being 'investigators'

Lunch after New Trainer's meeting!

All the sisters that will be training new missionaries, and Hope with them (4th from the right)

Selfie with the cute sisters!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Interviews finished! MLC & Retrainers Meeting

Last week we were able to complete all of the interviews for the transfer-3 weeks worth!  It is always good to have these done, especially for this week where we are preparing for transfers coming up next week!  Steve has found that interviewing the missionaries each transfer has really been beneficial and he has enjoyed doing it.  I think the missionaries have really enjoyed it as well!  It is always a good thing to see how they are doing, and encourage them in the work.  We really feel our missionaries are happy and trying their best to find people to bring into the gospel.  They have such righteous desires!
We held our Mission Leadership Council in Lethbridge on Wednesday, and as always, it was a great meeting.  We had a lot of trainings by different missionaries, and they do such a good job.  These zone leaders and sister trainer leaders are amazing and we love listening to them share their insights and ideas.  Steve always does such a great job in teaching and training these leaders.  He spoke to them about the Book of Mormon and challenged them to use it more effectively in their work.  It truly is the keystone of our religion, and if we can get people to read it with real intent, and then to pray about it, they will come to know for themselves it is true.  We love the Book of Mormon and have such a testimony of its truthfulness.  It is a powerful witness of Christ.
Then on Friday we had our Retrainer's meeting, where all of the new missionaries that arrived 5 weeks ago come with their trainers and we teach and train with that group.  It is so fun to see them a month after getting here!  They have already grown in confidence and experience and it is fun to see them and the great missionaries they are becoming.  We love their enthusiasm.
On Sunday we left at 7:20 a.m. and drove to Lethbridge for a special meeting with all three of the stakes in Lethbridge.  The meeting was held at the big Enmax center to accommodate everyone. Elder James E. Evanson of the Seventy was presiding, and they did a huge re-alignment of the stakes.  We knew this was coming, and it is going to be great!  New wards were created, and boundaries were changed, and it will have such a positive impact down there.  We think it is going to be great for the missionary work!  They also announced that a new Young Single Adult stake will be created in Lethbridge in August.  This is also monumental!  It is the ONLY YSA stake created outside of the U.S.  The only states that have YSA stakes are Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and one in Washington, D.C.
So, this is a big deal!  We are pretty excited about this, too!
After the meeting we then went to the Lethbridge stake center  to do interviews with the departing missionaries in that area.  Then we drove to Taber and interviewed two more departing missionaries.  Since we have 37 missionaries leaving next week, Steve has a lot of departing interviews to do this week!  This is the biggest group we have (or ever will have) going home.  And we will have 28 coming in!  That will also be our biggest group to arrive.  It is making this transfer a tricky one- determining who will be training new missionaries and all that, and then with the changes in Lethbridge and new wards, it adds a lot of dynamics!  But we know it will all work out.
After our Taber interviews we stopped by President and Sister Baldry's home to say Hi and talk about the changes for his stake, since one of the wards that had gone into Lethbridge is now assigned to his stake, and one ward in his stake was dissolved.  The Baldry's have become dear friends, and of course she had brownies and ice cream to feed us before we headed back to Calgary.
One of the great blessings of this calling has been the wonderful friends we have been able to meet!  We know they will be lifelong friends, and we love knowing that we will be able to see them because Canada just isn't that far away!  And they frequently come to Utah to visit for General Conference!
We got home Sunday night about 9:45!  I don't think we have ever been so tired in our lives!  But we find that the Lord renews our strength and keeps us going!  As I've said before, we go to bed exhausted and wake up tired!  This is great work, and we are so blessed to be part of it.  We pray we can be instruments in the Lord's hands to bless the lives of these missionaries.
Pizzas for lunch at MLC!

Me with all the Sister Trainer Leaders at MLC

Lunch after Retrainers Meeting

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Busy, On the Road, Zone Conferences

I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write about the last 2 1/2 weeks!  I don't think I will recap it all, but it has been action packed!  After transfers we began interviews again, and after our first week of interviews we left on Friday June 30 to drive out to BC, particularly to Trail and Nelson, the farthest west cities in our mission where we have elders serving.  We had set appointments to meet with the branch presidency in Nelson, and with the Ward Council in Trail.  We arrived in Cranbrook late on Friday evening, and then on Saturday, which was Canada Day (celebrating 150 years as a nation!), we decided to take a little detour before getting to Nelson and go to Nakusp, the little town we have skied out of.  It was fun to go see it in the summer, as we have only seen it in the dead of winter when we skied there with our kids. Sunday morning we were able to have our meetings in Nelson and Trail, and we also were able to interview the elders serving there.  Then we left and drove to Creston, BC, and interviewed the elders there before driving back to Cranbrook.  On Monday we attended their District meeting and completed the interviews with that zone.  We stayed in Cranbrook overnight so we could meet with President Anderson, the stake president on Tuesday, before driving back to Lethbridge. In Lethbridge we were able to meet with President Stewart of the Lethbridge East Stake on Tuesday night.  We then did interviews with both zones there and also the Cardston zone the rest of that week.  And Steve and I were both able to go out teaching with missionaries on Wednesday night in Lethbridge, and that is always good!  It's good for us to be out with our missionaries 'right in the work', so we can better know how to help them.  We got home on Friday night after being gone for 8 days.  It was a great road trip, and we put on a lot of miles!  It was so fun to get out to Trail and Nelson in the summer instead of winter!  The scenery is spectacular at this time of year.  We noticed lakes that we have never seen in the winter because the weather is always so bad that you can't see them!
The canola fields are also in full bloom right now in Alberta, and so when you drive from the south up to Calgary you see the beautiful fields of yellow!  They are spectacular!  We have also had some very hot weather!  A couple of days it has gotten to 36!  Which is about 97-98 Fahrenheit!  So hot for Canada!
On July 6-7 we had a mission wide fast to help us in our efforts to find more people to teach.  Each companionship began with a prayer around 7 p.m. on Thursday and would close the fast together about 5:00 on Friday. It was so neat to think that our whole mission was united in fasting and prayer to bring more souls to the Savior.  We designated the hours from 2-5 p.m. on Friday to be hours where every companionship would be outside talking with people, exercising the faith that if they were out working, they would find people who are receptive.  We had so many miracles happen, and we felt very blessed. Steve kept receiving texts from missionaries telling him of the events and miracles that were happening.  It was so powerful!  We truly do know that when we come together unitedly in fasting and prayer, the Lord will bless us, and He did!
We had the weekend home to prepare for zone conferences the next week and then on Monday evening we drove back to Lethbridge for our zone conference with every single southern zone.  We had to do it this way because we had Tiwi's being installed in all of the cars.  Tiwi's are devices to help our missionaries be more safe.  It has a GPS system in it, and it will actually alert the driver if they are going above the speed limit, so they can readjust their speed.  We are excited to have them in our vehicles.  As we've read the statistics from other missions that have them, it is amazing to see how their accidents and speeding violations have decreased.  It will bless our missionaries.
We had our 3 zone conferences, the one in Lethbridge and two up in Calgary this past week.  We focused on Teaching for Understanding, Applying Preach My Gospel more in our work, Having the Faith to Find, and Finding through the Spirit.  We felt like the conferences went really well, and the missionaries were uplifted and inspired.
At the end of our conference in Lethbridge as we were holding our testimony meeting, Joe Paul (the man in charge of the TiWi Installation) came in telling us that a senior's facility right next to the church was on fire and they needed help getting the senior residents out of it and into a safe place.  So, we stopped testimonies and headed outside to help.  The Firefighters were evacuating the people, and our missionaries helped walk them from the facility into the church where we set up chairs in the gym and got them comfortable.  We were able to get them bottles of water, and some snacks, and just visit with them and calm their nerves while they waited for family members to come and pick them up.  The Red Cross came and set up their station inside the gym and began helping with 'triage' and assessing if any of the seniors were in need of medical attention.  It was a great blessing that we could be there to serve and help, and an experience our missionaries won't forget!  It was quite an ending to the zone conference!
This first week of July we also had the difficult experience of informing one of our sweet sisters, Sister Poll, that her dad had unexpectedly passed away.  We have not had to do that before, and prayed for the spirit to be with us, with her, and with her family.  That was one of the hardest things I've done on my mission, is to relay that news.  We let all of our missionaries know what happened, and as it had happened  right before our fast began, they all included her in their fasting and prayers, so that was a sweet experience.
So, we have completed all of our zone conferences and this week we will complete interviews and start preparing for transfers.  There is never a dull moment, and we had a few days where we were literally exhausted.  But we are always renewed to do what needs to be done.  We know Heavenly Father blesses us beyond our capacity.  We were grateful for prayers from our children at home, who sent extra ones our way.  We are so grateful for their love and support.  
Beautiful BC scenery

Elders Hawkins & Bryner helping out on Canada Day!

Sisters Ence & Williams dropping me off after going out teaching with them!

Canola fields in full bloom!

Lunch at zone conferences in Lethbridge

Love these sisters!

Missionaries celebrating birthdays getting their 'gifts'

The seniors our missionaries brought to the church from the fire

The senior facility on fire in Lethbridge

Zone conferences in the north

More cute sisters!

and more cute sisters!

Spanish speakers!

We always enjoy lunchtime at zone conferences!

Selfie with Sisters King and Carillo