Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I forgot to tell you all what Mom and I did on our 40th anniversary Dec. 16th. It was on Friday which is our training day at the Mission Office. It had snowed about an inch so we drove over at the appointed 9 AM hour and found Elder Paulson just starting to shovel the parking area in front of the Mission Office. The Mission Assistants usually do that chore but they were gone on assignment. We pitched in with snow shovels and a broom and made short work of our snowfall. It was a bit brisk that morning, about 12 degrees F. After our brief workout we were off with Sister Paulson to inspect four missionary apartments. I am happy to report all apartments were in good order. The Mission is real big on clean apartments and clean cars. After some afternoon visits we went out to dinner and then home to our apartment. The days pass by quickly when we are busy.

Fast forward to last night Dec. 23rd. Sister Getz from our Ward invited us and our Ward Elders to her home for a Christmas dinner two days early. She is German lady and she can really cook. Reminds us of Michelle Kings great dinners. Today which is Christmas eve day, the Elders, ourselves and our Zone Leaders were invited to our Bishops home for breakfast. We arrived at 10:00 AM and were treated to a dando breakfast with all the usual bad stuff that tastes really good, bacon, eggs, pancakes, sausage etc. After a fun visit we dropped by the Ward building, tidied it up a bit for tomorrow and then came home mid afternoon. Tomorrow all the Wards in Winnipeg have Sacrament meeting only at 10:00 AM. I have been invited to be one of the speakers for our combined two Ward Sacrament meeting.

Tonight we will be home and tomorrow at 2 PM (Christmas Day) the senior missionaries are invited to the Mission Home for dinner and a get together. President Paulson likes ham with ham gravy on Belgium waffles. It is now after the fact and the ham gravy on waffles is magnificent. We had a wonderful time at President and Sister Paulson's home it was nice to have something to do on Christmas. On Monday (Boxing Day) all missionaries were invited to a one hour open house at the Mission Home by District. It was also fun because we got to rub shoulders with all the young missionaries and eat more delightful goodies. Mom and I missed you all but the skyping was great. It was fun to see everyone .

Good news the winter solstice has taken place. On Dec. 22 and 23 the hours of daylight were the same 8 hours and 5 minutes. Today Dec 24th was 12 seconds longer according to a local weather page. Spring is nearly here. Hurrah!! And keeping with the longer days we are now up to 8 hours and 6 minutes of daylight.

We are keeping fairly busy looking for lost members of the Church in our Ward area. We ran out of people who we could call and set a day time appointment with so now we are looking for those on the Ward list who don't have a listed phone number. So far not so successful. Lots of apartment houses with locked entries where you have to be "buzzed" in. Usually we find someone new in the apartment who didn't know the person we were looking for or can only tell us that the one we are seeking has been gone for a year.

As we travel around the city we are seeing more of the diversity of Winnipeg. There are lots of Churches that offer services in a variety of languages. We have see Spanish, Ukrainian, German and others' Also lots of old domed churches and others with great steeples. We have seen several that must Russian since they have the domes that look onions with the curl on top. The city is old and there are tons of building that look like Brian Beards bank in Cottage Grove. Also many have old time adds still painted on them from years ago. A photographers dream here in Winnipeg.

That's all for now. We love you all. Dad.

Christmas Day 2011

40th Anniversary!

Shoveling snow in 12 degree weather

Zone Conference December 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

     We are a long way from home this Christmas and are doing our Christmas letter a little bit differently.  We are for the next 18 months Elder & Sister Basting.  We have been called to the Canada Winnipeg Mission.  It is a warm winter for the Canadians however we are shivering.   The people are extremely friendly, helpful and kind, hence the phrase "Welcome to friendly Manitoba."  We didn't expect Canada to be a foreign country but surprise, surprise.  We feel fortunate that we don't have to learn another language, at the same time we admire all of you who have done so to serve God.  We have enough trauma navigating their roads.  For now, the roads are generally clear of snow and ice; that is a blessing.  Shana has a blog up and running if anyone is interested in more mission information.  It is  We were blessed with 3 new grandchildren this year.  Our family is such a treasure, so I will start with their news.

          Shana & Tim Heywood family:  Taylor is 13, beautiful, talented, a basketball legend in the making, an excellent student, upcoming scriptorian and just a great young woman.  Jeremy 11, a great young man, so good natured, athletic (multiple sports), an excellent student, involved in student government and the school mascot.  We just happened to be there last year when his (hum) car won the pinewood derby.  Should have seen his dad get air with glee!  Natalie 7, a dancer/comedian, good student and fearless when it comes to theme park rides and kayaking with sharks.  Now there is Bonus Baby-Troy (built). He was born January 22. He has brought great joy to the whole family.  Weighing in just shy of 10 pounds he was tough on his mom.  30 pounds at 9 months and wearing a size 2 or 3, I struggle to lift his giggling, wiggling little body.  Everyone else packs him around no sweat!  Shana is a busy mom juggling 4 schedules, helping Tim every chance she can, and she is back serving in Young Women's. Tim is a multi-tasking dad.  He did buy the family a ski boat this summer.  It is nice to see him get out of his office more often. 

          Pete and Christine Rudge family:  Aiden is 10, a good student, snowboarder, Lego constructor and computer whiz.  Hadley with the big eyes, good student, artist, jump rope expert in the making, and hates to ride in a car.  She doesn't even want to go to grandma's and the beach, she detests car rides so much!  Pete and Christine moved their family to Bend.  Now they are both closer to their places of employment.  Pete is in a new job, I just can't remember the name of the company.  They love to host Thanksgiving dinner and I think that has become a tradition.  Christine continues her long time service to Home Depot.  But now, she is closer to home, got a promotion that allows her to be home more and closer to Mt. Bachelor.

          Seth and Amber Basting family: Last year Seth took a job with an independent contractor who worked like a crazy man and expected everyone else to do the same.  Seth built roads all summer, 6 days a week 14-18 hours a day.  In the meantime, Amber delivered a beautiful Brad Swindle (named after Uncle George) June 4th.  She had to be a real trooper taking care of 4 children with Seth gone so much. Her mother, sister and 1 brother came and helped for a month.  They were a huge blessing. Seth has now taken a job with the Oregon Department of Forestry-the Forest Grove office.   Kase is 6, loves school, plays soccer and goes on service projects with his dad.  So does Grant who is 4, except he is not in to soccer as of yet.  They have a trampoline,  swing set and tree house.  They love the outdoors.  Molly is 2 and cute as she can be.  She is going to be tough with all those brothers, she can already hold her own.  Seth and Amber work all the time.  They have a huge piece of property to maintain.  Plus, they serve in their church callings, so they go non-stop. Oh, to be young again!

          Rex and Britney Basting family:  Olivia Sharen (named after Britney's mother) was born the 1st of April.  She is another beautiful addition.  Annie is 5, very artistic, loves books and so far has perfect form when she runs.  Macey 3, has a giggle that is so contagious you cannot restrain yourself from laughing right along with her.  Who cares why?  This Fall they moved to Cottage Grove because Rex got a job in his field.  Oh happy day.  We celebrated and offered many thankful prayers to God.  He is one of the two counselors for Cottage Grove High School.  He loves his job.  He has also started a mountain biking club and is enjoying associating with students and parents.  Britney is a busy homemaker, creative chef and baker.  She was going to receive a new calling when we left the USA but we have not heard what it is yet.  Rex teaches the Elder's Quorum. 

Well, Jim retired after 42 years of service to the Oregon Department of Forestry.  They gave him a wonderful send off, better than any eulogy I've ever heard! C: We had to move out of the home there on the compound.  We decided to get rid of much of our clutter, put the good stuff in storage and go and serve the Lord on a mission.  We have been called here to Canada as Member and Leader support missionaries.  We have already learned so much.  It is fun to learn new things and be challenged.  This is a place with diverse cultures.  The Filipinos and South Americans are particularly friendly and gracious.  Although everyone (so far) has been kind, helpful and they possess very good manners.  We are not used to a big city yet.  It is very evident that we are small town hicks!  We have enjoyed a variety of foods so far.  I being partial to German and Filipino cuisine.  We miss our family but we have been promised that our grandchildren will be more blessed by our service here then if we were hovering over them.  We feel it an honor to serve the Lord and hope we can do a good job.  We love all of you,  We pray you have a joyous Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings and answered prayers.  Please forgive our form of a Christmas letter-Canada taxes everything, making it impossible for us to mail a card to everyone. 
 We love you, Merry Christmas, 
 Elder & Sister Basting (Jim & Donna).

Some additional pictures just for fun. I get such a kick out of the English and French on the groceries, I couldn't resist sending another photo. I don't remember if I explained the Mission and mission cars. There are 56 missionaries spread over the entire mission (Saskatchewan, Manitoba and a piece of Ontario). This number is just the young missionaries, so each companionship (28) has a car. It's just to cold and spread out to be on bikes or walk. The mission cars are Chevy Malibu's, a couple of Chevy Cobalt's and some Colorado 4x4 crew cab pickups. In the Manitoba Zone the Assistants to the Pres. and Zone leaders drive the Colorado's. They will eventually try to swap out most of the cars because they don't do as well in deeper snow. The cars are prone front bumper damage. If you pull into a parking spot and hit the concrete parking stops (they are extra high here) with the air dam under the front bumper it cracks (the cold helps the breakage) and then works into the bumper. It costs $1800.00 to replace the front bumper assembly. There have been three crashes this winter, none were the fault of the missionaries. Everyone else keeps running into them.

Wednesday we attended our first District Meeting. We missed the first two because we didn't know we were supposed to go. Just like a couple of newbie's. The District leader is from England and within 3 months of going home. I was impressed with his skill and enthusiasm. All the young Elders and Sisters handle themselves very well. Our meeting lasted 90 minutes and was filled with instruction and involvement from everyone present. The other neat thing here is the open affection between all the young missionaries. A great group of young people and with them as our future leaders we will be in good hands.

Today we were out visiting and had only one set appointment. We found the place and had a nice visit with a Filipino family. We did notice it seemed a bit brisk as we left their home but didn't get the real force of the cold until we parked the car and started walking. It was only a short distance to a small apartment complex where we were searching for a less active member. As the wind picked up Mom and I started gasping for breath as we walked into the light cool breeze. We were out for maybe 10 minutes and were frozen. It was a mild 10 degrees F. After we found the place the lady had the nerve not to be home. We searched out another less active man and found his place but not him. Nobody home today. We parked about two blocks from his apartment and slipped and slid down the sidewalk and back.

The Canadians are a hardy bunch and find humor that we think it's cold at 5 or 10 degrees F. These folks ride bikes, wait for the city buses and walk all over the place like it's normal and tell us wait until it gets to - 20 or 30 C. which translates to -4 to -22 F. The young missionaries have to be out until it's a -40 C. which is where celsius and fahrenheit equal one another, so -40C and -40 F. are the same, darned cold. Did I mention that everyone wears black including the missionaries. Black hats, coats, pants and boots to their knees. It's OK in daylight hours but at night it's hard to see them especially in downtown Winnipeg. The pedestrians dart out and run across the first three lanes of traffic and take refuge on the median until they get a break and then sprint across the remaining three lanes. Of course this is mostly done between cross walks. I have been impressed with how fast some of the old people are. One day we saw an older woman with a walker jogging across the street like everyone else. Sure enough she made the median and after a few breaths she was off across the last three lanes.

One night last week we had an evening appointment and were early so we went up the street and parked at school parking lot. As we sat there we noticed a kid hockey game in progress on an outdoor rink. We watched awhile and I noticed over on the wall of the school a sign that said Park at Own Risk. I thought what could be the risk. We thought it might be from snow or ice sickles falling on cars from the roof. After a brief discussion we saw the hockey puck crash into the side of the school right where cars could park "at their own risk". It still makes me smile when I see a kid packing a hockey stick like you would see a kid in The States carrying his basketball or baseball gear.

Tomorrow Mom and I get to go on apartment checks again with Sis. Paulson. Their are four apartments to check. It will prove enlightening I am sure. Love you all. Dad

 This is what $10 at the car wash will get you.

Mission cars, or should we say trucks.

 Ouch! A little mission car mishap.

Bilingual labels

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For Tim, this is our little but very warm, comfortable apartment.  We even cleaned it yesterday and did laundry.  Love you, ma basting

Jim took the picture of the Canadian products in the cupboard.  He gets a big kick out of French and the
special packaging here.

 Home Sweet Home

Notice the lables : )

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mom and I went with Sister Paulson to do two Missionary apartment checks. The first one was good because she forewarned them. The second was pure disaster because Sister Paulson called them from the parking lot. They at least made their beds. The remainder of their apartment looked like a tornado went through it. Anyway it will eventually be part of our responsibilities to check apartments. Mom broke out Rex' Russian coat. It does curl our toes at 5 degrees F. making coats, hats and gloves are mandatory. Mom and Sister Paulson are smiling despite the cold.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


 Baby, it's COLD outside!
 Downtown Winnipeg

 Future site for the Winnipeg Temple
The price of gas!
Hockey sticks at Costco

December 5, 2011

We are here in Canada. It's strange though since it's almost like home but it isn't. We can see Safeway and Sears from our window and of course there is Mc Donald's, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Wall Mart and even Home Depot. Road signs are the same but everything is in metric. It's a pain to go to the store and try to compare. Although I now know that 1 Kilogram is 2.2 pounds. Also everything is double labeled one side in English and the other in French. The people in general are very  friendly. Their license plate does say friendly Manitoba. It took us several days to get settled and set up a Canadian checking account. Fortunately the American dollar was worth more than the Canadian dollar for the exchange.

We travel across town to our assigned area which takes us through downtown Winnipeg which is like any big city. Lots of busses, foot traffic, cars and bikes. The bicyclists ride in the buss lane, so far we have seen no carnage. Everyone wears black, maybe to attract the heat from the sun? Makes them hard to see at night. We travel mostly by GPS but have learned some main routes. One night on the way back we pushed the home button on the GPS supposing our apartment address was "home". Sarah our GPS voice led us  astray. We had driven quite a long way when she said turn left and drive 72 miles South. I knew something was a muck. Donna checked and Sarah was sending back to the border perhaps to Oregon. I looked at a map after we got home and discovered we had driven about 25 extra miles around the perimeter highway that circles the city. It was truly the scenic route, too bad it was in the dark.

The Red and Assiniboine Rivers run through the city and join at a place the locals call The Forks. It's similar to Portland's water front area with lots of stuff going on at least in warm weather. The Red River is the only river that flows North from the States into Canada. The country side here is absolutely flat and the Red meanders allot setting up the potential every year for flooding. The rivers freeze over (they are frozen now) and as the ice breaks up in the spring the water can't get past the ice dams and the water begins to back up, ergo flooding.

 Everything is very expensive especially groceries. Food from the market is not taxed but everything else is. They have a 12 percent sales tax, 7 percent goes to the Province and 5 percent to the federal government. The locals say if you bleed in Canada you are taxed. I suspect in part the heavy tax pays for their socialized medicine. I bought gas today for $1.05 per liter or $4.20 per gallon. Fortunately the tax is already figured into the gas price. Across the border in ND gas in $3.35 per gallon.

Canadians can enter the US and buy up to $400.00 in duty free goods every two weeks. They have to have receipts and they better not lie as the Canadian Govt. checks them closely. If you get caught you get put on a list and are restricted for a long period of time. I see why they cross over since tax here is so high. They travel to Grand Forks ND which must be 1 1/2 away. Grand Forks has all the attractive shopping things we are familiar with.

The weather is cold for us. The daytime highs have been in the mid 20's F and in the low teens at night. The wind is the killer. It blows a lot and you dress in layers according to the wind chill factor. It has only snowed once, about 5 cm. The city gets right after it with plows and a sand salt mixture. It does no good to wash your car as the sand salt gets on your car from the road spray and it looks like you have just come in from a Baja mud race. There are no do it yourself car washes. Too cold for that everything freezes pretty quick. You can pay between $8.00 and $60.00 for a drive through wash and air dry but with the road spray most folks let it go. We live on the 3rd floor of a 11 story apartment building and the road spray from a four lane boulevard reaches our balcony sliding glass door. Everyone tells us they are having a mild fall and early winter. They tell just wait and see. We are fine with the way it is but know it will get worse.

Since I started this letter (last week) the temps have dropped. Last night's low was -10 F and today's high will be about +15 F. The sun is out though. Before we left home I bought two pair of Cabela's silk long johns. Best buy I have made in a while. They keep the wind from going through you pants and freezing your legs.

A couple more things. When it snows it's here to stay at least on the lawns, roof tops, shaded areas and lots of residential shaded residential streets. I almost forgot no one has studded tires. You see lots of all season and traction tires but nary a stud. They may be outlawed. Something that stuck me funny is their two person traffic teams. These folks are on foot and wear the florescent green coats and hide behind phone poles, bushes etc. One has the radar gun and the other one pops out and waves you to the curb and gives you ticket. Of course they have the regular police officers in patrol cars too.

You need to know about "loonies" and "toonies". Since Canada has nothing smaller than a $5.00 bill they have a one dollar coin, a "loonie" because it has a Lune Bird on it and two dollar coin or "toonie" which is a tad bigger and is made up of two metals. The outer circle is silver and the inner circle looks like copper. They of course have quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. At some grocery stores to get a cart you put your "loonie" in a slot in the handle that unlocks a chain that locks one cart to another. After you use the cart if you want your dollar ("loonie") back you bring the cart all the way back into the store reattach the locking chain and out pops your "loonie". Most people have their own grocery bags made of cloth or heavy vinyl. If you use plastic as we do in the States they charge you a nickel per bag. Another Canadian custom is shoes off at the door. People take their shoes off so their house don't get all tracked up. Lots of winter sand from streets and sidewalks. Anyway makes for cleaner rugs and floors. The Canadians don't have post offices like we do. There in a corner of some drug stores. To post a letter inside Canada is $ .57 cents but to post one to the States it's $1.03 plus 12 percent tax. Ah the ever present tax.

There is Mission downtown Winnipeg where different churches work together volunteering to prepare and serve diner each night to about 330 people mostly men but a few women and kids. Donna and I participated one evening and were assigned lettuce; we unwrapped, cleaned and chopped up 72 heads. Also cut gallons of mushrooms while other grated carrots, sliced cucumbers, apples etc. Others cooked the spaghetti and a group of older high school kids served the meal. Quite an operation all supervised by some young fellow 22 years old. I must admit that while not minding kitchen work, going to and from the facility surrounded by a mass of homeless people made me uncomfortable. Looks like I have some things to work on eh!

Well that's all the news from Canada eh!. Take care and have a Merry Christmas.

Jim Bob.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Here are a few photos

 The mission home
 Elder Basting & Elder Christensen (the FBI agent)
President & Sister Paulsen

Two Weeks!

We have had the blessing of meeting so many wonderful people.  We have been able to make 10 visits this week, not as many as we would like but we are able to sit and listen for as long as they would care to share.  It is helping us get to know the special people in our ward.  Strangers in our building and in public places are friendly but no one has asked to have the discussions yet, C:  It is against the law for us to proselyte our apartment building because it is a locked facility and you can't get in unless someone invites you and buzzes you in. 

It snowed lightly all day but there is very little accumulation.  On the other side of town there is more snow than at our place, more ice, too.  We visited several interesting people today.  One family an older man, not as old as us, but middle aged and a very young beautiful Filipino wife.  They have a little girl Terah or Terra.  She has a Master's Degree in microbiology and works in a pharmaceutical lab.  Her teaching license is not valid in Canada but it is in the USA.  Back home, her father had 10 acres of land with guava, mango, pineapple,banana trees, etc.  And they would hunt cobra snakes especially to protect the children from the nearby school that jump the fence to pick fruit.  When her father was younger, he and his cousin were walking on this property and a snake(she says) or a lizard (he says) bit the cousin, he was dead in 10 minutes.  Jim was real glad we weren't called there. 

We visited the home of a wonderful German sister who is a widow.  What a story she has to tell.  She speaks very good English.  She made us lunch of turkey soup with spaetzel (sp), oh man, was it good.  Any way, her father and mother were not married when she was born in 1939, then tragically he was killed fighting Poland.  Her mother took her to her grandparents (father's side) and left her for care while she worked as a nurse.  She never came back. Later we find out, she had been told that they were killed in a bombing raid.  The grandfather was with the railroad and kept someplace for years?  The grandmother, with Sister G. and 2 other nieces survived by working on a farm for room and board.  After the war, the grandfather found them and the family was reunited.  All this time she thought her grandparents were her parents and the nieces were her sisters.  The grandma died and the grandfather was put in an isolation ward for tuberculosis.  He suggested she and her "sister" find the other sister that was living in West Berlin.  If you went with a ticket and didn't come back, your family was automatically thrown in jail until you returned.  He told her to go because they would be afraid to move him and spreading the TB.  She and her sister actually hopped the train when the engine was in West Berlin and the Caboose was in East.  For some reason she was never asked to produce her ticket so her father was safe.  After her father died, she immigrated to Canada with some friends and has been here ever since.  She married and said she never knew anything was wrong with her marriage, no clue.  Her husband abandoned her for a younger woman and left her devastated.  She quit Church at this point because she was mad at God for letting this happen to her.  I forgot, in order to immigrate you have to have a birth certificate.  This is when she finds outs she was raised by her grandparents.  So, a friend here in Canada suggested she find out if her mother was living.  She didn't want to, thinking she had been abandoned and not wanted; but relented and contacted the Red Cross.  That failed and the letter was returned, she thought rejected.  Finally she went through the police and it had been an address glitch.  She phoned her mum, she said she paid $50 to listen to her cry.  She went to Germany to meet her mom.  Her mother thought all those years that she was dead.  Her mom had remarried, he was killed in Hitler's army; she remarried again, and he was killed in the war.  Finally she married again and had had 2 more daughters (I don't know who the father's were).  So Sister G. met her mother and 2 half-sisters.  She only had a few encounters with her mother before she passed.  She desired to be sealed to her family after she came back to church and was done being angry.  Her niece (the one she thought was her sister) was best friends with Harriet Uchtdorf. President Uchtdorf had been their Stake President  and now, of course a member of the First Presidency, well he helped with that.  I will have to tell you about that later.  She had to leave Germany early because of a gall-bladder attack and make friends on the plane with some other German Canadians.  They invited her to dinner, not to be set up, but they always invited a widower that was also German.  They hit it off, but she said no to his marriage proposal because she would never marry out of her Church.  He said, what Church do you belong to?  She was just like me, I had never heard of a Mormon before, either.  As fate would have it, the missionaries knocked on her door, he thought it was a set up, she didn't have a clue they were coming by.  He started visiting with them.  They taught him the Great Plan of Happiness, he didn't accept right away.  He had a heart attack and needed 5 bypasses.  She said he was agitated and scared, etc.  She asked him if he would allow a Priesthood blessing.  He agreed.  She said from that moment on he was a changed man.  He threw away the few bad habits he had and was baptized.  They went to the Temple and she finally got to be sealed to the man of her dreams.  Then he died.  Her testimony is amazing though.  "Life doesn't always turn out or even go the way we plan, but the Lord knows me and He did provide everything I needed and wanted."  She looks forward to their reunion.  What a woman!  She has the most beautiful blue eyes; fair clear skin and incredible spirit.  Hope this all makes sense to you.  Let me know if I am giving too much detail.  I just get incredibly touched by these people and the things they have been through. 

I know how she feels about being sealed to her family though.  I feel that way about all of you.  Heavenly Father has blessed us with a wonderful, loving family, surely one I want to be with for all eternity!   I love you!  xoxox mom

Getting Settled In

It continues to be a small world in the Church, although I haven't met anyone who knows Mollie yet, but I suspect that will happen.  But the first night we were here we went to a missionary farewell, 2 Elders were going home after completing their missions.  After the fireside we were introduced to some other senior missionaries.  Elder and Sister Christensen are the seminary and institute missionaries.  Did you know there is a pilot program for online seminary?  It reaches outlying areas, which here it is vast, some people are 6 hours away.  Anyhow, Elder Christensen is a former FBI agent, but that is not the interesting part.  He was the agent sent to Samara Russia when Andy Propst was kidnapped.  Now it gets interesting.  He has a picture of their meeting, Andy looked terrified still.  He was in the clothes his captors put him in, but being a photocopy it was not a good photo.  The KGB interrogated both elders, 14 hours a day for 3 or 4 days, I forget.  Elder C.  talked with the elders and asked them was there anything in their conduct that he needed to be apprised of. Thankfully, the answer was no. The story Elder C.  related was pretty exact to what Andy told in his fireside.  Elder Tuttle had gotten out of his cuffs, they could have overpowered their abductors but the Spirit told them not to.  This ended up to be a great blessing to the continuence of missionary work in Russia.  The head of the KGB said he had never met young men so pure and without guile.  Both Elders had forgiven these men, even though they had been severely beaten with a baseball bat.  In fact the KGB told Elder C.  if you ever have any trouble or need anything in Russia, you come to me.  Also, Elder C. said before he left for Russia, he asked (because he was required to) the First Presidency if they would pay the ransom.  President Faust's remark was, Jesus Christ has already ransomed them.  The timeline of when Elder Tuttle and Propst were released instead of being shot was when the Prophet was in the Temple praying for these two Elders with no guile.  They probably don't even know the missionary work they did in their short time in Russia or the hearts they softened in the KGB. 

I have to tell you one more story that Elder Christensen related in a YSA fireside.  You will be too young to know anything about this.  But some Croatian men who wanted to start a revolution back in Yugoslavia hijacked a plane going from LA to NY.  Well, this plane was not equipped to fly overseas so the Air Force sent a plane to lead the way.  They had to land in various places to refuel.  When they got to France, the police shot the tires out.  The hijackers demanded a direct phoneline to someone of importance in the USA.  As the workers were laying this line they cut into a conversation unaware to the people.  It was a man and a woman.  He was trying to convince her to rendevous with him and he was sure no one would ever know.  Little did he know that several hundred people heard the whole set up; in many countries.  His point to the young adults, what do you do when you think no one else is listening or watching?  The clean hands and a pure heart scenario.  Just so you will know the rest of the story.  These hijackers were not mean, they released everyone.  I don't know about the adulterers!

We have been to our ward once now.  It is a sister ward to Sweet Home, very, very friendly.  It covers a huge area.  Yesterday we drove 40 miles to visit 3 homes.  Then when I pressed home on the GPS, Sarah (GPS) got the USA in her sights.  I didn't catch on we were going the wrong way until she said, "go 73 miles"  what?  Oh well, it was a nice drive.  Our Bishop's name is Heieie, pronounced Hi yi.  We visited his parents yesterday, he was also one of the past bishops.  They are originally from Scandinavia, but their name was Petersen.  Well, one of his ancestors somehow joined up with Jesse James and somehow killed a little girl.  Well, Bishop H's grandfather was so embarrassed that he packed his family up and moved to Canada and changed his name.  The word Heieie has special meaning in his native tongue.  That is how they ended up in Winnipeg.

We visited a sweet Guatamalan family.  They moved from their beloved homeland to escape the Gadianton robbers.  They said it is too dangerous to live there anymore.  But they have a desire to retire there.  They showed us a beautiful picture of their dream location which he is sure is by the Waters of Mormon.  His wife Alma goes to the Catholic Church because it is in Spanish.  He is trying to get cleared to teach math, science and physics here like he did in Guatamala.  Just a lovely couple.  Then we visited a Filipino couple, and her name is also Alma.  Well, I have been told that many of the Lamanite and Nephite descendents named their sons and daughters after the great prophet in the Book of Mormon, (but these people are converts??)  I wonder if the Philippines were also discovered by Hagoth?  Filipino's insist on feeding you and then send more home with you.  It is delicious but I know expensive.  I feel guilty visiting them if it is going to cost them.

We have visited 4 other families and are trying to get acquainted with the ward members.  They asked dad right off if we were from Salt Lake.  They don't like people from Salt Lake coming here and telling them to do things differently.  We had no intention of doing that anyway.  But....missionary work would go better if they would follow the outline of the Church.  For instance, they don't believe in having ward correlation or PEC unless someone has something specific to bring up, then they will call a meeting.  We had to invite ourselves to ward council just so we could get a ward list and some recommendations of people to visit.  I get the impression that they don't have consistent YW's or YM's, and I don't know if they have a scouting program.  They only have 18% hometeaching and I don't know the statistics on visiting teaching.  But as I said, the boundaries are huge and petrol is very expensive.  The cold and ice don't seem to slow anybody down.  This is a warm winter for them, so far, but the bishop said hold on to your seat.  They actually call it "balmy."  Lots of people get around on bicycles.  They are dressed in black, no helmets usually, and just pedal amongst the cars.  Crazy.   Our mission president who is a wonderful brother, plans to leave us in London Ward for the entire time, unless he gets another senior couple.  He will have us work in the mission office during the day, after his brother and wife go home in 6 months.  Then we will have evenings to visit and reactivate or teach discussions if we ever get that privilege.  (sure hope so).  I have to tell you about our mission presidents brother and wife.  What a dynamic couple.  He was a Captain in the Air Force and a Major in the Army and served lastly as an air traffic controller.  He is built like a wrestler, with a Roman nose and can charm a snake.  I have never heard anyone handle people on the phone like him, but don't get me wrong, he is so kind but ???? at a loss for a word.  He gets things done now.  His wife, the mother of 9 is so soft-spoken and gentle but she can call a sloppy elder to repentance before he knows what hit him.  When President Paulson and Elder Paulson tease each other, it is hilarious.  They have me in stitches.  I had no idea the work, money and time that goes into running a mission and watching out for all the Elders, Sisters and Senior Couples.  The Lord is definitely the overseer, it would not be humanly possible to correlate the missions throughout this vast world without His Divine influence.  The Temple has been held up by the Jewish community.  They are next door to the mission office where the temple will be built.  The rabbi was afraid of the traffic that it would bring and the streets are very narrow and congested.  So that was understandable.  He influenced the commission to rezone.  I think that has almost been worked out now, but there are still some hoops to go through to get final approval.