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.

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