Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It started out hopeful thinking, kind of a joke, but our district pictured here is working hard to be the best district in the mission.  I guess a little competition never hurts.  It's all friendly and positive.  Elder VanKomen led our meeting this Wednesday and he shared a personal story which he apparently rarely does.  His mother had several serious addictions, ones that were leading to an early grave.  He said he tried everything; said everything he could think of to try and convince her to stop her destructive habits.  He said the power of agency was in force here.  He was afraid to come on his mission because she would not be alive when he finished.   He decided to trust Heavenly Father because "He will tell us in the very hour what we need."  He was applying this to Preach My Gospel: the section of helping investigators keep their commitment to the Lord.  The Lord blessed this young elder.  He and his older brother have been faithful servants and Elder VanKomen works harder than anyone I have ever seen.  Guess what?!  His mother went through recovery, repented, cleaned up her life and has recently gone to the Temple to be endowed.  Happy day for Elder VanKomen.  He finished his point (think of this with investigators & his mother): 1.  We have to love the people, 2.  Have pure motives, 3.  Be diligent and 4.  We have to desire the revelation to help each individual person.  His coming on a mission was a real leap of faith on his part.  He is inspiring.  Speaking of inspiring, dad gave the devotional the other morning.  We do this every morning in the office.  And then pray, hug (sisters) and shake hands (elders) and go to work.  His devotional was from the writings of the Apostle Paul.  This comes from the Institute manual.  "Every good cause advances on the shoulders of those who are willing to carry responsibility."  It always takes moral courage.  Sometimes it takes physical courage.  Often it takes a good deal of hard work, but always it takes the courage to act responsibly.  Here are Paul's steps to living a courageous life:  1.  Maintain personal purity so the Lord's Spirit can be a constant source of inspiration:  2.  Seek knowledge by every good means & from every proper source:  3.  Keep current with the counsel of the Brethren and obey it:  4.  Pray sincerely and often for guidance: 5.  Labor diligently for the kingdom:  6.  Have Charity.  If we can do these things, the Lord will strengthen us so we can teach and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ with power and be an influence for good.  I just thought I would send this to you.  I thought you might enjoy it as much as the office did.  We are learning a lot and loving it.  We have had some snow, sunshine and sub-zero temperatures.  Oh, I misspelled the name of the Metis tribe.  I saw it on a sign as Mates and assumed it correct.  We went to the Manitoba museum and now I have to correct my spelling.  Will tell you more later.  Love to all, you are the best family. 

 We love you forever! 

 Mom & Dad

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It has been a very good and challenging week.  We trained the full week in the office and helped the current missionaries with transfers.  It was not as difficult this time.  We did not have the mail and packages that accompanied Christmas.  Only 4 new missionaries came in and 4 went home.  The highlight of our week was meeting Tiffany Huntinghawk.  It that the coolest name or what?

We had been out searching last week and her address was the last on our daily list.  No phone number and we didn't hold out much hope.  So I went in alone to just try the buzzer and shock, a man answered.  He said she was at work but did live there.  Shock #2, he gave me her phone number!  I called her and she was excited to hear from someone representing the Church.  That was shock #3.  She invited us to come and meet her Monday evening.  She is a beautiful young Native, single mother, but engaged to the father of her children.  She is the daughter of an aboriginal and Mate' (half French and half aboriginal).  She was raised in the system and didn't know her father until she had her first child.  She now works in a home for abused girls and is looking to improve her education.  We asked how she became a member.  She said she was in a rough period of her life and was praying for help.  The next thing she knew, 2 missionaries knocked on her door.  She immediately received the good news.  Her job prevents her attendance at Church at present but she hopes to change that.  They are moving to a better location in 2 weeks.  I hope we get to see her again.  It was so cute, when we were leaving and after prayer, she comments rather loudly, "well are you coming back to see me?"  Thus far no one has been this excited to have us come visit.  Both of us had an immediate attachment to this kid.  We did remind her that she has the pure blood of Israel in her veins and asked if she had recently read about her ancestors in the Book of Mormon.  I think she will start reading.  At least, we hope so. 

Okay, icky, our first encounter with a bed bug.  During transfers, someone must have unknowingly transported him on their clothing.  The next morning Elder Skinner says, I have some bad news.  He stuck his arm out and he had a series of bites.  Elder Paulson drug Elder Basting and myself upstairs to gain first hand experience at defeating this pest.  I don't know how he did it but he found the sole bed bug.  He captured him and took him home, ooh, gross.  We had to either wash, dry in hot heat or freeze everything associated.  Then we came home and had to do the same thing with our clothes.  I still itch.  Hope he remains singular!

We took several hours Saturday afternoon and went to Provencher Park and took in the ice sculptures and Festival du Voyageur.  You will note Fort Gibraltrar.  The festival is in its 40th year.  It portrays Canada in the early frontier years.  It was very enjoyable and we learned a lot.  You could talk to the people in costume and they would respond as if they were that person.  So note the Englishman in the dry goods store.  The brass around his neck denotes his rank as Lefttenant (don't know if I spelled that correctly or not).  So when I met the native man, he had the same thing around his neck with two others.  I asked him what the brass neck ornament meant to him.  He said, I just like trinkets that are shiny.  The English always made theirs out of gold or brass; the French made theirs out of silver (and it was beautifully engraved) and the tin one was made by a native.  I asked if he had to kill the soldier to get it.  No was the answer, it was traded for furs and other Canadian goods.  That is how the Hudson Bay Company started.  He also had a cross of Lorraine that came from Joan of Arc's time but they did not convert until many years later.  The ice sculptures weren't too impressive this year, because they had to truck in the snow.  I think that might have been a first.  Many countries participate, so we included Finland's for Mirja. 

Elder Basting and I are on our 3rd reading of the Book of Mormon this year.  This time we are studying it with the Institute Manual and this is very enjoyable.  For our individual study we have both chosen to study the life of our Savior in the New Testament.  I think scriptures are the only books that are fun to read and reread.  We can testify that the Book of Mormon is the greatest gathering tool for the last days and the most powerful witness of the Bible, Jesus Christ and His Infinite Atonement.  I hope you all love studying it and we promise your entire family will be blessed for your efforts. 

All our love, xoxoxoxo
mom & dad

 The gross bed bug

Inside Fort Gibraltar

Wheat grinder

Glass beads the English would trade for furs

A native

Neck ornament

Thought you might enjoy seeing what it was like last year at this time!  Wow, we only have a few inches now.  They have a place in town where they make hills from the snow they remove and it didn't disappear last year until late August!  We feel very blessed that we are experiencing such a mild winter.  Of course, we are freezing some days but generally it is quite workable.  We love the sunshine and are learning to deal with ice.  Dad has done a tremendous job driving; that includes dodging all the other hazards in a big city with terrible roads and crazy drivers!

The missionary in the picture is Sister Poulton, a woman of great faith.  She served as a missionary (before she married), that mission was in Australia.  She did not meet her husband until she was a bit older.  They married and were married for 13 years when he had a reoccurrence of skin cancer that had gone to his brain.  She worked for a while after his passing and then felt the urge to serve again.  She is not old enough to retire or to receive SSI; so she is living off her savings and is serving as the mission presidents personal secretary.  She is amazing.  She really relates to the young missionaries.  She lives in our building and it cracks me up; the other residents refer to her as the "skinny missionary," as she is very thin. 


 Canada's version of Target

Everything freezes

 Hudson Bay Company

 Road sign for the mission home

 Parliament Building

Parliament dome

 Sculpture of Moses and the Ten Commandments

Ice sculpture celebrating the Queen's 60 year reign

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday February 14th Mom and I will have been on our mission for three whole months. We are busy so time moves along. I commented to our Stake President that his blessing me with a happy heart has come to pass. I have been very happy serving here in Winnipeg as has your Mum. Our assignment (searching for lost members) has been interesting and has taken us over a large portion of the Northeast side of Winnipeg in some interesting winter weather. We have found that lots of people have moved and that the people that do answer the door have been friendly. Only one man was certain he didn't want us to stop by again and a couple of folks on the phone were a little grumpy.

We are still in training for our new jobs in the mission office. Next week is a transfer week and is always busy getting things ready for the new missionary arrivals on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday is transfer day and usually about 40 missionaries are at transfer to pick up new companions, trade vehicles etc. It's always great fun to watch all the hugging, back slapping and general good will among the Elders and Sisters. Last transfer one Elder was so happy to see an old companion, one had the other by the foot and made him hop all around over the snow covered parking lot. Both were laughing and having a good time. The planning that goes into the transfer is complicated since missionaries come from as far as the upper reaches of Saskatchewan and from Ontario and a chunk of Minnesota depending on who goes where. Lots of miles and distance to cover. There seems to be several vehicles accidents per month. It usually involves slick roads and fender benders. Many of our missionaries are new to snow covered roads but to their credit most accidents have been other drivers denting mission cars. Several have learned you don't park across from a driveway, it's almost certain your car will be hit by someone backing out onto the street. One older woman backed out of her driveway and down the street accidently hitting a mission car. She wound up on a neighbor's lawn after it all was said and done.

We have had mild weather most of the last two weeks with no new snow. Last Saturday was very mild and as Mom said we went to a local park for some sunshine and fresh air. It was a delightful afternoon. Last night on the way back from our area we stopped at the Manitoba parliament building for a walkabout. The building was impressive and in the legislative chamber there was a statue of Moses with the ten commandments. Hurrah for our Canadian brethren! From the front steps you can see toward downtown and with the lights reflecting off the snow it was beautiful. This month the city sponsors an ice sculpture festival called the Festival du Voyageur. Check it out on the internet. They usually use local snow from around town which is packed into large square blocks about 12 feet high by 10 feet square. The blocks of snow are set about town and snow carvers set to and carve some pretty nifty stuff. Since there is very little snow it has to be manmade and trucked in. We have only seen a few sculptures but hope to go to an area in town where many will be on display.

In our travels around the city we have seen some pretty impressive churches. Many are large domed structures that are Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, Serbian Orthodox and others. They are very impressive buildings. Looking at the city map we can see there are many more to find and check out when the weather improves. Today the high temperature was at 8 AM when it reached 17 F. It steadily got colder as the day wore on and 10:30 PM it is -7F. I can't wait to go out in the morning to start the car, to say the least it will be refreshing. (next day) I did go out and start the car and it was more than refreshing. A -14 F to start the day. It warmed up to 4F and was -3F when we got home at 5 PM. Brrrrr!

I may have told you about the driving hazards around town. With some snow still on the streets in shaded areas the traffic medians are a bit hard to see since the dirty snow blends them in nicely with the dirty streets especially at night. Well it happened this way. We left the Parliament Building and I was driving down a one way street and there was this divider I didn't see. Mom did but too late. The race car made it up and over the concrete divider with very little effort. There was however some crashing and grinding noises but we kept right on going. Checked her out at the gas station and all was OK. I proudly thought if I only had a lift kit I would be unstoppable.

An interesting story from a man we have met while serving in our ward. He told us that he joined the church 30 plus years ago. A friend explained the gospel to him and he was baptized without the usual process of meeting with the missionaries and hearing the discussions. He said his life was changed and he needed to make some additional changes as well. He used to fish a lot with his dad and others on Saturday and Sundays. He finally told his dad he could no longer fish on Sunday and the upcoming Sunday was General Conference. His dad asked what was so important about conference and his son told him it was because the Prophet was speaking. The dad was non-religious but seemed OK with what his son wanted to do, so afterwards he asked his son "what did the prophet say"? It gave the son an opportunity to explain what the Prophet had said in that conference and every other conference until his dad died. So my question was did the dad join the Church and the answer was no but he was very supportive of his son and family. I think it was interesting that the dad accepted his sons life change and supported him and was curious what the Prophet had said. Father and son remained close until the Dad passed away.

Mom and I love you all. Hope you are having a good week. Love Dad.

PS. ink freezes in our pens here, they need to be kept warm

 Ukranian Catholic Church

 Holy Trinity Cathedral

 The snowpile at Safeway

Our apartment building on Queen Street (look for the red dot)

Serbian Orthodox Church

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A beautiful, sunny Saturday.  We did a little laundry, tied a quilt for Sister Paulson and then splurged and went for a long walk in the beautiful Assiniboine Park.  We are pictured on the footbridge crossing the river.  Picture #2 shows children and adults ice skating, having a blast.  There is a large glass enclosed area to eat your lunch or warm up and watch your children, too.  Picture #3 joins the ice skating rink and is one of the biggest hills in Winnipeg.  The children are giggling as they ride their toboggans or sleds down this.  These people might have apoplexy if they were in the Cascades and saw a real hill or better yet a mountain!.  We could actually walk from our apartment across this park and down Shaftesbury to the office.  We figure it is about 51/2 kilometers.  Don't know if these feet could handle that every day though.  There is a conservatory with accompanying restaurant, zoo, miniature train, soccer and baseball fields, miles of trails (that are full), a museum, and lots more that we haven't seen yet.  Can't wait to see this place in the Spring when all the hardwoods bud and leaf out.  It is going to be beautiful.  The sun gets a little higher in the sky every day.  It is not getting dark until 5:45 now so the days are definitely getting longer.  Yeah!

Thursday we knocked on doors checking addresses again.  This was one of our better days.  We found a few people home and had some nice visits.  We found many people moved as per usual.  The longest period of time has been 10 years and as short as 6 months.  People are very guarded and cautious.  They usually won't give out addresses but one fellow gave us some phone numbers.  Elder B. called them and left messages.  We actually got a ring back; unfortunately is was 4:56 a.m. and I didn't make the phone in time.  Tuesday night we had a visit with a non-member.  We cannot call it an actual discussion because we did not begin or end with prayer.  He is married to a member who has never really been active, but she desires to be sealed to him for all eternity and not just for time.  He thinks he believes in God but is not sure yet.  He cannot join a church just for her, bully for him, we applauded him for that.  We told him there was only one reason to join.  Of course you know what that is.  We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and to pray.  He is wondering why God hasn't spoke to him to tell him if He lives or if the Church is true or not.  We explained the gift of Agency, and that God will never force anyone.  He is very bright and a deep thinker, so he retorted with, so you are saying that I am going to have to do the work, read and find out for myself?  We left after an hour and a half.  His wife never came out, she was on the phone.  He invited us to come back, so that is good.  His wife told us in advance that he does not like to be pushed.  I don't think we did.  He has a teaching degree in history but is working for the Canadian lottery and tutors on the side.  He has been a security guard and has experience in martial arts.  Super nice guy.  He and his wife just got married.  She has 2 sons from a previous boyfriend and they have the cutest little 2 year old girl and are expecting #4.

Last night we were invited to a members home.  It was really fun.  She made wheat chili, cornbread and sugarless carrot cake for Elder B.  It was all delicious.  They have 3 awesome children, Brandon, 13 who is the Deacon's Quorum President ( he was one of the first to welcome us to the London ward and shake our hands, really nice young man), Dylan (probably 10 or 11) and Morgan, another darling little girl, she is 6.  The amazing thing is, all the kids visited at the dinner table for 2 hours without leaving.  I haven't seen kids sit that still for years.  Their dad is a master at solving rubit's cube.  So we timed him.  Wow how does he do that?  The kids are learning, too.  The father told us an amazing story that just happened to him last year.  He had to have his tonsils out, they were huge?  He went to ICU afterwards not knowing why.  He had a blessing previous to the surgery, thankfully.  Some nurse made an error and left the ICU.  He got up to go to the washroom and could feel something running down his throat.  He made it back and commented that he wasn't feeling to good and thought he was going to pass out.  The next thing he remembers was coming to with the nurse sitting on him doing chest compressions, calling his name and telling him to come back.  When he opened his eyes he was surrounded by doctors and nurses and a crash kit.  He recognized a member of his stake, he was one of the doctors working on him.  He threw up 3 liters of blood so had to have a transfusion and suffered from anemia for a short time.  I am happy to report that he fares well today.  I am so glad he was spared after meeting his wonderful family. 

We have so much to be thankful for.  We are more grateful for our family and friends, as each day passes.  We don't know what we ever did in this life anyway to deserve such wonderful people in our lives, but there you are.  We appreciate your support, we have felt protection from your prayers and we love hearing from you.  Have to admit seeing a letter in the mailbox or the inbox of the email machine is very exciting.  God lives, He loves us individually.  He sent us here to live on the earth at this particular time in history because He knew we could navigate through enemy territory and still teach our family the Gospel.  If Mormon could raise Moroni successfully, we can do the same.  We have so much more help: The Church and righteous leaders: the wonderful Book of Mormon and the Bible; and lots of good, strong, faithful people to help us.  We count our blessings every day and are so thankful for you.  Carry on!  This work is true. 

Love to all! 
Sister B.  Mom, grandma

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hi everyone!

Last Saturday was a great day.  Elder Rothey and Elder Duford had a baptism.  They serve in the Young Single Adult Ward.  The young man is Xiao Che Chi, affectionately referred to as Teddy.  He is the only child of an orthopedic surgeon in Mainland China.  His parents sent him here to study electrical engineering.  He met an LDS young returned missionary who apparently invited him to Church.  The YSA group are wonderful young people.  They quickly became friends;  the elders taught him; his friend David baptized him.  The baptism was a wonderful experience.  I hope Teddy's family will be alright with him becoming a Christian.  Word has it that the Church has many little branches in China.  If you are already a member you can meet together in a member's home.  Tracting is still not legal there.  That must be why so many join while visiting other countries and then take the Gospel back to China with them.  The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.  There is a picture attached of his friends who sang at his baptism.  They are a group of wonderful, talented Filipino young adults.  After the baptism, lots more joined with them and Teddy and circled the piano and sang hymns and primary songs.  The rest of the world would call them strange, peculiar, geeks.  The Lord calls them His and they are loved.  Great young people!!!!
Bye for now, I love you.  Mom

Teddy and Elder Skinner after the baptism

Elder Rothey and Elder Duford

YSA (young single adult group)