Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Well it's been a bit since I have been in touch. Mom and I have been on our mission 6 months now, only one year left. Time is going by fast. I have been quite busy for the most part taking care of mission cars and missionary driver’s licenses. The weather has been sunny and reasonably warm. We had a great thunder storm last night and clouds and rain today, just like home. There is never any smog here. The prairie is flat and the wind always blows so the smog is blown east and dissipates.  

Here in Manitoba and over east in Ontario fire season has been active. It doesn't rain much and the wind blows like crazy. So the combo is just right for wildfires. The province of Manitoba has six Bombardier water bombers and Ontario has nine. They are the scooper types that carry 1600 gallons of water. There are so many lakes in the forested areas that the ability to scoop water is a quick way to get water on the fire. I have observed in the news that the planes have been used numerous times this season. The planes are hangered at the Winnipeg Airport which is only a couple of miles from our apartment. I hope to go out and see if I can get a tour before summer is over.

We get local news from Winnipeg and Minneapolis-St. Paul (twin cities) in Minnesota that include intense weather and violent thunderstorms and tornado warnings. Fortunately all that stuff stays well to the southeast of us by hundreds of miles so far. However there was a tornado 40 miles west of Winnipeg two years ago that destroyed a small town so it can happen here. The news broadcasts all the forest fire news complete with video. It’s interesting that fire season here is in the spring and early summer as compared to the west when it occupies summer through fall. Burn bans are in force in parts of Manitoba and Ontario. Several small towns have been threatened by forest fires but have been saved by moderating weather conditions, firefighters and intense air attacks with helicopters.

Last weekend we went to International Falls Minnesota. We have missionaries there and I had to go down and take a Canadian car through US customs to get it licensed in Minnesota. The boys totaled the car they had. The missionaries in that area actually live in the USA but pass across the border almost daily into Canada to the town of Fort Francis, Ontario. Anyway the the Border patrol saw that the car the missionaries were driving had MB plates and knew the boys lived in Minnesota which made them unhappy. So the Border Patrol said get it licensed in Minnesota. It was quite a process and took me several weeks of preparation to get all the paper work correct before we traveled to I-Falls. It was a great trip because the scenery was superb and it was nice to be in the USA if even for only 24 hours. Gas in I-Falls was cheap by today’s standards, only $3.66 per gallon. Gas in Winnipeg is about $1.20 per liter and in Kenora, Ontario we paid $1.34 per liter or about $5.34 per gallon. That’s pretty expensive. Crossing through the port of entry either way is a little nerve racking, it's like when a police car is following you and you don't know if he is going to stop you or he is just going the same way. Fortunately it went well although they ask a list of questions, look in the back of the car and never smile while they talk to you. The only way you can tell the difference between the US and Canadian customs folks is the Canadian may say eh.

I- Falls Minnesota's claim to fame is that it's the "ice box" of the US the coldest place in the lower 48. We also stumbled onto Smokey Bear Park where there is a 26 foot tall Smokey. That's all the great stuff about I- Falls except they have the Bronco Negurski museum. He was a famous college football player in Minnesota and played pro football for the Chicago Bears in the 1930's.

We go walking in Assiniboine Park as often as we can. We walk between two and three miles depending on the weather or our energy level for the day. One day we walked in a suburban forest called the Assiniboine Forest. It has a number of paths and lots of trees and a few ponds. In fact in late April someone accidently started a fire which burned several acres in the forest. The city fire department put it out. The park has other attractions in the Spring. All the Canadian Geese have returned and both the geese and ducks have little ones. We see them floating around in the duck pond in the park and they sure are cute.

Some big news was that a wolf was trapped less than 10 miles NE of Winnipeg in Birds Hill Provincial Park. I was surprised but it was in the local news. The wolf killed someone's dog and was seen committing the deed. Local fish and wildlife trapped and killed the critter. Once it hit the news it was familiar responses similar to when Ron Henthorne killed the cougars near Holly. Lots of whining in the media. A family we know from church lives about 60 miles East of Winnipeg in a town called White Mouth. He is a farmer and when I asked about wolves he said oh yeah I see them quite often on the farm. In fact he said a wolf will occasionally pass through his yard. He has a trapper’s license and has to either trap or shoot one once in a while. The opportunity to work in the mission office has some great benefits. The biggest one is to be in a place where the Spirit can dwell. We senior missionaries all get along well and we have the blessing of a morning spiritual thought and prayer to start the day. Another blessing is to be in regular contact with the young missionaries here in Winnipeg, we see them often and enjoy being with them. We talk by phone to the other missionaries in the far reaches of the mission and enjoy them as well. Some are so far away we will only meet them when they come to Winnipeg on their way home after serving for two years. Mom and I are enjoying our service here in Canada. I see why returned missionaries always say their mission was the best one in the world.

Mom does most of the cooking but I am going to try my hand at supper tonight and it will be fried rice. Take care and hope you are doing well. I will be it touch again. Love Dad.

Yesterday and today were Stake Conference.  It was tremendous!  And that is putting it mildly. 

President and Sister Paulson were the first speakers.  They are concluding their 3 years of service.  I admit to having no idea the extent of service mission presidents give.  President Paulson always says "eating and sleeping are highly overrated."  They both live by that, sometimes not by choice.  It is hard to fit every needful thing into a day.  Somehow they seem to get it all done.  He has a memory like a computer and remembers small details, names and dates.  It is amazing to witness.  The Lord knows who to call, when and where. I have an even greater respect and appreciation for Tim's parents who have served as Mission and Temple Presidents.  Talk about lives of service!!!!  What examples.   President Paulson mentioned in his talk the story of the " Jaguar and the Boy." I don't know if you have heard this so I will paraphrase.  A man had done well for himself financially so he rewarded himself by buying a Jaguar.  As he was cruising around in his beautiful new car he thought to slow down in one area with children present, just in case one ran out in the street.  Just when he thought he was safe, a big thump.  He slammed on his brakes and got out to find that a little boy had thrown a brick, visibly denting his new car.  Angry, he demanded to know why this little boy had done such a thing.  The little boy, crying said, "because I couldn't get anyone else to stop!  He proceeded to show the man  his brother.  He had fallen out of his wheelchair and the little boy wasn't strong enough to lift him back in by himself.  The man helped the boy and watched as they walked off.  As he perused the damage to his car, he left.  He never did have that dent fixed.  When asked why, he commented that I always want to remember , "Don't go so fast in life that God has to throw a brick at me to get my attention."  Life is moving at a rapid pace and Satan can win if he keeps us busy doing "things" even if they are good things, because we forget to slow down and take care of what is "most" important. 
A few more highlights include:  Repentance is much more than being sorry, it causes a change of heart that is permanent.   2. The safest road to hell is the gradual one, no rocks, no signs, it is the easy road. 3.  Make a change in your life and have the courage to stand by it. 4. We have to openly oppose evil. 5. We need to learn to unite the Gospel with the Church.  6.  When we judge others....we condemn ourselves.  (Good thought).  The theme Saturday night was from Matthew 6: 19-21.  7.  Family Home Evening needs a week's preparation in these last days, especially if you have older children.  We need to find out for example, is anyone having a big test that they could use help preparing for.  Or, is anyone going to a dance that they may face certain temptations.  Then you practice different scenarios, like what will you do if (this happens).  If they have practiced in advance they will be able to react in a positive light.   And in FHE, tell family history stories about your ancestors.  They will never remember the lessons you prepared but they will remember their ancestors and have love and affection for them.

Sunday was a broadcast from Salt Lake for all of Canada, its 47 Stakes and 6 districts.  The first speaker was born and raised in Raymond, Canada.  His name is Elder William Walker.  His entire talk was on pointing your children to the Temple.  His mother prayed every day without fail that everyone of her children would grow up to marry in the Temple.  When the children grew up they never wanted to disappoint their mom.   In 1912, there were 7,000 members in Canada.  On July 7, 1913, Joseph F. Smith broke ground in Cardston, Alberta for the temple.  He did not live to see its completion so Heber J. Grant came to dedicate it.  The Stake President was called as the first temple president.  He served as president for 25 years, while continuing to serve as Stake President for 19 of those years!!!  Wow!!!  In 1955, there was a total 9 temples functioning in the world.  When the Winnipeg and Halifax temples are complete there will be 9 temples in Canada.  We were challenged to replace a little time spent on our recreational activities with service to our ancestors in the temple.  Good idea.  He quoted President Hinckley at the Nauvoo Temple dedication as saying when he looked at the little children:  "Please, please, please never do anything to disqualify yourself from going to the Temple."
Carole M. Stephens spoke next.  She focused on strengthening our family.  She read 2 Chronicles 20 about the multitude that would come against Jehoshaphat.  She compared this story and the multitude of things that are thrown at us now.  Multitude is an understatement especially through the media.  She concluded with don't waste time on thinking, "I wish I would have.... start today to strengthen your home. "
Next was Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve.  His theme was service.  Why is it that the Lord must command us to serve one another?  Service is not something we endure in life but it is the fiber of an Eternal Life.  In the Celestial Kingdom God will no longer have to command us to serve, it will be our way of life.  It will come naturally.  As you know the Quorum meets once a week.  They each give an accounting of what they did with the past 7 days.  He said that President Monson, with all of his responsibilities still finds time to minister unto the one.  Little things but important acts of service. He refuted the premise  that a person can be fine not attending church because he is a good person and confines his religion to just himself.  This is contrary to everything the Savior taught by serving and loving everyone He came in contact with and taught His followers to do likewise.  We should give a life of service;  Church service,  missionary service (Elder Richard G. Scott was his mission president in Argentina) and most importantly service in our own home.  He told a story about a remarkable woman of the Presbyterian Faith.  Her name was Ophelia Compton (I have no idea if I spelled that correctly).  She was given an honorary doctor of Law degree for her service to her children.  You can look her up.  It is an amazing story. 
Then our concluding speaker was President Boyd K. Packer.  I fear his health is failing but his teaching is still powerful.  He focused on being proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  He said it may not be easy to be a member but it is easier than anything else, if you understand the patterns of life.  Are we strange people?  Yes, compared to the standards of the world.  We live the Word of Wisdom, we don't smoke, drink,  we eat healthy.  We believe in being moral people.  We do not believe in abusing the powers of procreation but waiting for marriage.  We don't swear in the sense of profaning......Yes, different from the world.  Then he related the story of Joseph F. Smith who when asked by a mobster holding a gun on him, "Are you a Mormon?"  His answer, Yes sirree, died in the wool, true blue through and through."  President Packer said that standing up for what he believed probably saved his life and it will do the same for us if we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the end of his talk he invoked an Apostolic blessing on Canadian Saints and it was quite touching.  He even promised that they would have no children missing from their families if they hold fast.  What a Promise!!!  We all know what is coming and soon but we need not fear if we strengthen our families and hold tight to our covenants, which is really a privilege. 
What a weekend.  It concluded with the missionary fireside in which our former FBI Agent and his wife give the message.  This was #5, Enduring to the End.  I will just share one story he told of his father.  He received a call from his mother telling him that his father had passed.  He returned home to help make the arrangements.  A younger sister from his ward said, I need to share a story with you.  The night your father died, he came first to my home, home teaching.  This was after a long day at work.  I am living in the mission presidents home while I attend BYU.  My husband left me with 5 children to support and I am trying to get an education so I can do that.  But, their term is up and they are coming home, I don't have any place to live.  Brother Christensen left and then returned with a fan, because the air conditioner had quit.  He told her not  worry about a place to live.  Two days later I received a phone call from, ___name?  He said I have been called to be a mission president and you can live in our home for the 3 years free of charge, if you just take care of the place for us.  She happily agreed but then asked him, how did you know to call me.  This brother said.  I had a dream last night and Phil Christensen appeared to me.  He told me your name, your dilemma, but said I don't know her number but you can get it by calling the BYU switchboard.  So I did!  What a valiant home teacher.  He finished after he was dead!  No wonder Elder Christensen is thankful for his father.
I love you all....send pictures.  xoxoxox  mom

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello dear family, sorry for the long hiatus in writing.  Our days are repetitious which leaves little new to write about. We try not to repeat ourselves too much as is common in older people, so we won't bore you.   The missionary work is going well here.  It is awe-inspiring to watch the young missionaries at work and the excitement in the new converts as they take this leap of faith and change their lives for the better. 

We have gone out with the young missionaries on several occasions which is great fun.  One night we were to pick up the member who would translate for a Chinese sister who speaks no English.  She didn't come but this afforded us the opportunity to hear the conversion story of Sister Chan.  I think you will enjoy this.  She was actually born into a Christian family in China.  I am guessing that is rare.  This was before communism.  She married young (18).  Her husband graduated university with a degree in entomology.  He briefly went to the USA to do some research on food and bugs???  She moved to Hong Kong with their 5 month old baby.  Living with his family,  their baby died.  I don't know what caused his death.  She was extremely sad and lonely.  She started reading her brother's Bible.  She was raised Anglican but noticed something was missing.  "Love." "Where is the love as spoken by our Savior?"  Every sermon they preached told us we were sinners and going  to hell.  She searched other churches.  This took 8 years.  She couldn't find anything better so she returned to her church for another 7 years. Then one afternoon 2 missionaries (one from Indiana and one from Idaho) knocked on their door.  In the interim her husband had been asked to be a principal of a Christian school, so he decided he should become a Christian and joined his wife's church.  On her first meeting with the missionaries  she told them to return at 5:00.  She called her husband and told him to come home early from school because they had an appointment with these missionaries.  The first good impression they made was coming at that hour because dinner was at 5:00 p.m. and if you missed, you received no food.  They missed dinner for the Chan's, without blinking an eye.  "Back in the day"  the missionaries taught 17 lessons.  Chan's were very interested but were afraid to join in case it wasn't true and they had made irreversible changes.  They asked how much it cost to receive the discussions because in China everything cost money.  They were excited to find out there was no cost, a bit shocked, too.  The night after the 16th discussion she had a dream.  She saw a bright light.  She said isn't that funny, I was already asleep with my eyes closed, but in my dream I had to close my eyes.  A voice said to her, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."  She never mentioned the dream to her husband.  The next morning she announced they would be baptized.  He agreed.  This was 1958!  She has been active for 50 years.  They had 6  children, 4 are still living and he has since passed away.  She said her husband made many sacrifices for their family. Sacrifices so they could have a family:  so their children could have the Gospel, freedom and an education.  They were sealed in the Hawaii Temple and their children were sealed to them in the Salt Lake Temple.  Sister Chan, this tiny little 84 year old Saint, melted my heart.  I walked her back to her building and offered to walk her to her apartment.  She takes the stairs not the elevator.  At parting, she was hugging and kissing me, telling me that she loves me.  She was not a stranger but surely a fellow Saint and I love her too.  My life was lifted by this short encounter with a Saintly woman who has given all to know Christ.  I will try and attach some pictures of her and our trip to Minnesota.  I love you all, you are the greatest treasures in my life.



Assiniboine Park

Assiniboine Park

More of the park

Sister Chan and Sister Basting

Seth, whose twin is this?  Moore's Clothing store, buying dad new suites

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our trip to Minnesota was wonderful.  I wanted to get out of the car when we crossed the border and kiss the ground.  After meeting the border guards I thought better of it.  But how great is America!!!  International Falls is a cute little city, very quaint.  We took the Sorensens out to dinner, did some banking so we didn't lose any money and dad took care of the Elders car licensing, importing.  All went smoothly. The Sorensens have encountered much mental illness in their area, too.  Plus, lots of apathy.
We drove back through Kenora which is one of the most beautiful, scenic rides I have ever had.  The President let us take the mission van which added to the comfort and fun of the trip.
I love you very much, mom

Nestor Lake

Kenora Rail Bridge