Saturday, October 20, 2012

Winnipeg Biodiesel Explosion

Farmer's Market


Praire Dog Central Railroad

Zombie Walk

October snow

Canadian Pacific Water Tower, Winnipeg Beach

Lake Winnipeg

St. George's Angelican Church, Wakefield, MB

Trail of the Whispering Giants

Winnipeg Beach United Church


October 4, 2102

Hello from Winnipeg, Mom and I are doing well. We have been enjoying the late summer early fall weather and still try to walk most days in Assiniboine Park enjoying the sun and lingering flowers. We know that winter is on the way and I know it will be cold. I’m not sure we are looking forward to it. When I was a kid I dreamed of living someplace where it snowed all winter and I could play in it, camp in it, etc. I guess I read too many Hardy Boy Books. So now at 64 here I am. I did tell Mom I was thinking about getting a tube so I can slide down the man made hill by the church at least once before we leave. She said to “knock myself out”.
There are a few things to report that are leftover from August so here they are. Our previous Mission President got a photo cop speeding ticket the last day he was here. He left Canada for Utah and was not aware of the infraction since photo cop tickets are mailed to the mission office and take about one week to come in the mail. I had the privilege of calling him and telling him he owed the city of Winnipeg $305.00. Needless to say he was not thrilled with the news. He wrote a letter explaining he thought the photo radar was inaccurate and that he was in the U.S.A.  and would never be back in Canada again. He hoped they would consider his three years of voluntary service at his own expense in lieu of the ticket. He asked for a dismissal of the charges or a reduction in the dollar amount. The city ignored his request and sent the entire package to me since the church owns the car which is licensed in Winnipeg. The next step was for me to represent the President at traffic court. It’s a good thing I have watched so many Perry Mason episodes. I considered myself a polished defense advocate.  So with Mom as my Della Street off we went to traffic court. I first had to appear at a barred window and talk with an in-house Justice of The Peace in order to plead guilty before having an audience with a judge which in Canada is called Your Worship. So I plead guilty (once you have plead guilty you can no longer have a jury trial) and then we were off to see Your Worship. I was directed to a cubical that had a lectern to stand behind and Your Worship sat behind a traditional elevated stand like in a regular court room. She reviewed the traffic infraction, asked me a number of questions, scolded me slightly and reduced the fine to $150.00 which we paid. It was a bit stressful but it worked out well enough and The President was reasonably pleased with the outcome.

Mom and I went several times to a farmers market to buy locally grown produce. Since we used to grow our own it seemed strange to buy corn, beets, zucchini etc. It wasn’t a huge market but it had what we needed. I really enjoyed the corn. The Mennonite lady’s sold home baked pies but I was able to resist, especially at $9.00 per pie. Both times we went a Hispanic man was there playing his saxophone for donations. He was pretty good and sang “Oldies “as well.
The missionaries from our ward tracked into a unique family. There is a Mum, two adult daughters, as well as a teenage girl and a friend named Jim. They are eager to learn but have a limited knowledge of spiritual matters. Couple that with their addictions and they struggle mightily to be ready to come to church or even to stay for all the meetings. They have good hearts and we hope that some of them may be able to overcome the addictive habits which plague them. We feel blessed to have avoided all those choices that put people in misery. Jim seems the most likely to succeed. He is bright and free from the problems that affect the others in the household. He is a retired school teacher and is doing well. He may even be baptized in the future. He has attended another church and may still be. I visited with him and he told me he attends a church called “The House of the Risen Son”. I asked him about it and it is a “biker church” that is open to all people. He joins with them for the music and fellowship. I checked it out on the internet and it looks like a mellow group, most bikes look like Honda Gold Wings. I was interested in their pulpit; it was the front forks of a motorcycle complete with tire, handle bars and headlight with a flat top for books or papers. I confess that I have never seen that before. Jim likes music and was curious about our music because his church has a band. I told him we were pretty reserved and had no band. He smiled and afterwards said our music was different but he liked it.

Another Manitoba attraction is the Prairie Dog Central Railroad which is on the North end of Winnipeg. It’ a tourist railroad and has both steam and diesel power depending on the day you choose to ride the rails. We went on a Saturday and arrived early enough to see the steam engine move about and hook up to the passenger cars. The car we were in was 101 years old and was comfortable enough for a one way ride of 45 minutes. We left Inkster, MB and rode to Gross Isle, MB where we purchased lunch provided by the local towns’ folk for a reasonable fee. During the hour layover you could listen to a local country singer, look and buy local handy work, go through a historical house or go watch the train turn around for the return trip. You could also look the engine over and climb up in the locomotive cab for a look see and visit with the fireman. The steam locomotive was small enough that the fireman had to shovel the coal by hand. At every crossing folks in their cars would wave and honk their horn… it must be an instinctive thing to do.
The Saturday after Labor Day we drove north through Selkirk and on to Winnipeg Beach located on Lake Winnipeg. The place was pretty well shut down in fact our car was the only one in a huge parking lot. The weather was cloudy, windy and cool so no one was on the beach or in the water. We walked around a bit had a burger then met an interesting woman who owned a store in a very small mall next to the lake front. She grew up South of Winnipeg and told us lots of local history. Winnipeg Beach was built by the CP Railroad as a tourist destination in the late 1890’s. It had a wooden rollercoaster, a movie theater, hotels, summer cottage rentals and a rail station, etc. It was the place to go for a summer vacation or even a weekend outing. Lake Winnipeg is 60 miles wide, 258 miles long and averages 39 feet deep. It is the 11th largest fresh water lake in the world and freezes over every winter encouraging lots of ice fishing and other winter activities The Lake is used for recreation, supports a large fresh water fishing industry and is used as a reservoir by Manitoba Hydro.

Let me explain Manitoba Hydro. When we first arrived in Canada we heard people talking about their Hydro bills, in fact we heard it all the time in the mission office because the missionary apartment rent and other bills are paid from the mission office.  In our way of thinking a hydro bill must be the water bill ergo hydro. Not so kimosahbee, your hydro bill is your electric bill and Manitoba Hydro is like Pacific Power and Light, Con Edison back east, Rocky Mtn. Power etc. Now you know.
Summer here has been very dry this year and blessings from that are lots of sunshine and very few mosquitoes. The negative side is the soil here is mostly clay and as it dries out it settles causing house foundations to crack and water mains to break. The city has had many water main breaks causing work crews to be extra busy. We can tell when the main in our area has broken and been repaired because the water in our apartment turns brown and looks pretty bad especially in the toilet. It usually takes a day for it to clear up. The city is working on our street replacing old pipes that will hopefully keep us in clean water.

Fall has definitely arrived. We have enjoyed the month of September which was mostly warm and sunny. The leaves have turned and it has been beautiful to see the fall colors. Assiniboine Forest is just across the street from the mission office and we have a great view of the hard wood trees which have turned mostly yellow but there are some red colors, too. I did a walkabout recently and discovered that some of that red color was due to Poison Ivy which I knew grew here. It looks just like Poison Oak, you know, “leaves of three let it be”. It grows along paths and roadways for sure, as well as throughout the forest.
With the long dry spell all the wildland fuels have dried out and were just right for fires to start. Earlier this week a strong wind (30-40 MPH) came from the south and fanned some previous burns back to life. We noticed a large smoke column coming from what we thought was Assiniboine Forest near the office but after further investigation found the fire to be south of our area burning in farm fields and islands of hardwood forest between the fields. The Winnipeg Fire Dept. was stymied due to lack of access but managed to get the blaze corralled by day’s end. The fire burned several hundred acres with no homes lost.

The small town of Vita located 40 miles southeast of Winnipeg did not fare so well. The same scenario developed there but several homes were lost due to fires being pushed by strong winds. The local news team was on hand and caught on film a car with several occupants trying to make their escape. The car was headed away from the camera crossing a bridge that was on fire. The weight of the car collapsed the burning bridge dropping the car into a shallow creek. Fortunately the car was going slow and the drop was only about six feet. The people in the car were rescued and were not hurt but the car burned. The next day October 4th the area has nearly six inches of snow. It was strange to see houses still smoldering with that much snow on the ground.
Monday was my 64th birthday. Mom couldn’t find a school coral group to sing the Beatles song “Will you still love me when I’m 64”. She did that a number of years ago and had the local SHHS coral group come to my work office and sing. I remember it vividly; I was surrounded by high school kids singing that song while I turned beet red and sweat profusely with embarrassment. I did get the opportunity several years later to return the favor. Cheryl Bricco helped set it up and had the same coral group go into Moms room at SHHS were she was a substitute teacher and serenade her with the same song.

Mom and I did go out for birthday dinner at a place called Montana’s with the Olsen’s who serve in the mission office with us. The Elders said it was good food and if it’s your birthday you get to wear bull horns and be serenaded by the servers. With a free dessert and bull horns I thought it was quite the bargin. The food was good too, I had ribs. Yum.
When we came out of the restaurant we saw a huge black column of smoke about half a mile away. We thought maybe a scrap yard was burning but it turned out to be a bio diesel plant that had exploded and we just missed the fireball. Lots of people saw the fire ball so it hit the National Canadian and USA news. If you happened to see it was about one mile east of our apartment.

I had been mentioning fall and out of the blue winter hit with cold temperatures, wind and snow. I was amazed because we went from 60 + degree to 30 degrees overnight. It snowed all day on October 4th with little accumulation here in Winnipeg but other outlying areas had six to eight inches. Friday, October 5th, Mom and I were to go out to the town of Anola and help a ward member get the last of his fire wood in. He called and said we would delay the project until next week due to a generous early snow fall. We were grateful because we weren’t anxious to work in snow and 20 to 30 MPH winds. I guess we are just wimps in our older age.
I discovered something the other day that was interesting and decided to share. The province of Alberta has the largest supply of oil outside of Saudi Arabia; however it is in the form of “oil sands” and looks like tar. The particular mine that was giving the info said that they surface mine with six large “shovels” and 37 extra large Cat mining dump trucks. Each truck holds 345 tons of material which contains 190 barrels of oil or 3600 gallons of gasoline.

On a given day 300,000 tons of oil sands are mined with 150,000 tons of waste produced. From the 150,000 tons of good material 150,000 barrels of oil are produced. It takes seven days from mining to fuel. Their catch phrase is “one week from bank to tank”. This process produces 4 percent of all Canada’s green house gasses.
Saturday 10/14/2012 was our 11th month anniversary on our mission, only 7 months left. We occasionally get to teach with the Elders and Sisters which is a lot of fun. Saturday was such an occasion when we met David. David is Chinese and since Chinese names are too hard to pronounce they take a North American name so it’s easier for us to deal with. David is just learning English and is doing well but it took two hours for him to ask questions so he was sure of what he had been taught. We didn’t even get to the lesson, so the Sisters scheduled a new time to continue to teach him.

Mom and I went to The Forks to browse through a Christmas store. It was very nice with lots of great stuff. However the highlight at The Forks was the annual Zombie walk. We were unaware we were in for such a treat. We saw a few of the critters and I even got a couple of photos as we were leaving. We missed the event. Evidently it’s a big deal with perhaps many hundreds of people participating in the city. We saw them driving cars and even a few on the streets. The Zombie thing escapes’s all for now.

 Take care and remember Mom and I love you all.
Love Dad.

Winnipeg sunrise

Fall colors

Dear Family,

Dad had a great 64th birthday.  It started with the Assistants to the President.  They made him cards, bought him a play firetruck and made a short video that was very cute.  I provided lunch for the Elders and President, mostly from Costco because the Sisters were going out for lunch to celebrate Sister Christensen's birthday.  Then we got home and Elder and Sister Olsen took us to Montana's for dinner.  Dad has been wanting to go there.  They are famous for ribs which the 3 of them had.  The waitors brought him horns and sang to him.  All in all, I think he had a good birthday.  We finally got our absentee ballots today and we have already voted. 
Love to all,


Dear Family,

A hearty hello after a wonderful day in zone conference.  We had a General Authority and his wife:  Elder and Sister Swick taught us and it was a marvelous day.  They send a special hello to President and Sister Heywood who also served as Mission Presidents in Chile.  I thought I might highlight several inspiring stories that would interest you.  When they were called to serve in the Santiago Chile North Mission, they packed up their 4 children, Scotty being the oldest and mentally & physically challenged and their 3 younger children, the youngest being 9. Upon arrival Sister Swick wondered why there was a 10 foot fence around their home and why the children could not go out of the yard without an escort.  They were in the mission for 11/2 days and had just taken the previous mission presidents to the airport when they received their first phone call.  It went something like this.  "President, this is Elder _____, I am calling you from a phone booth (this was before cell phones), all I have on is my companions overcoat because while we were in the Chapel 7 terrorists came in with sub machine guns.  They made me take off all my clothes, in front of Seminary, they poured floor wax over them and set them on fire.  The Chapel is now on fire and is burning to the ground.  What would you like us to do?  Sister Swick, said, "I can't do this, I don't speak the language, my children are in danger, etc. etc.  When her 9 year old, Spencer spoke up, "Mom, don't worry Heavenly Father will help you do it."  They stayed, she and the children learned the language, they learned to love the people but more importantly they learned that we should not limit ourselves by what we think our capacity is because  Heavenly Father will expand us."  Sister Swick mentioned meeting a young sister missionary from the Midwest recently.  After she heard her bear her testimony she wanted to meet her and get to know her better.  She pulled a chair up at lunch and started to chat with her.  She found out that a few years previous, this young missionaries mother asked her to go and spend the night with grandma because grandma was not feeling good.  She went.  That night her home burned down with her mother, father and 3 siblings inside, all perished.  Sister Swick asked her how she made it through such a traumatic experience.  She answered I was faced with a choice.  I could choose fear and hatred or I could choose to develop a deeper more abiding faith.  I chose faith.  Now she serves as a missionary.  Then as part of Elder Swick's presentation he spoke of his first mission as a young elder.  He was sent to the Argentina/Bolivia, ? Mission (sorry, I missed writing some info down).  Some time while there, an Elder Arso (sp) told the Mission President, Richard G. Scott that if he would send missionaries across the border into Bolivia that 3 cities and I can't spell them, would surely convert being pure Lamanites.  Then President Scott discussed this with President Spencer W. Kimball.  President and Sister Kimball went to Argentina and took a 4 day jeep ride to this part of Bolivia.  He dedicated the land for the preaching of the Gospel.  Then he called 4 missionaries to begin the work there.  One was Elder Swick, his job was to build a chapel.  He and his companion first had to go some distance and buy 2 horses and ship them back by train.  Then they began they their calling.  The second elders job was to improve life for animals.  The third's was a medical calling and water purification.  The fourth is fuzzy in my memory but he, I think was over 22 burros that brought all the materials in to build with.  When the chapel was finished it was Elder Gordon B. Hinckley that came to dedicate it and yes, all 3 cities joined the Church and there are now 2 Stakes.  There was lots more to the training but I am at a loss to try and put it down on paper.  The end of the meeting was a 12 minute testimony meeting where the elders were told to keep their testimonies under 2 minutes. Most, took about 40 seconds.  It was an incredible meeting and the Spirit overwhelming.  It was definite proof that a testimony can be borne in a few seconds.  That is exactly what the missionaries do when they are teaching investigators and I think it is very effective.  I know my heart was moved.  It seems apparent that much in the world and church has been accelerated and we best make good use of our time granted us to help gather as many people as are willing to embrace truth and have the opportunity to bless families.  Time is getting short.  It was suggested that we use Preach My Gospel for family home evening and all of our other studies.  You might all take that into consideration. 
Love you all,


Dear Everyone,

Some of you have wondered what beg bugs and beg bug bites look like.  Here are some first hand pictures.  I won't identify the elder as he might be embarrassed.  And the pictures were taken by his companion.  He was willing to share so others might know what to look for and hopefully avoid what he went through.  I wonder how the pioneers rid themselves of this plague.  When we toured the governors mansion at Lower Fort Garry, mention was made of fighting these bugs and what a chore it was.  Hence the saying, sleep tight, don't let the beg bugs bite.  Hopefully, you will never know. 
Love to all of you,