Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A homecoming to remember

The day finally came for Katelyn to return home from her mission.  But this homecoming was a little more special due to the fact that Katelyn's little brother was scheduled to leave in just a couple of days to start his mission.  But let's go back to Katelyn's last week of her mission.  One of the most outstanding things about Katelyn's mission was just how much she enjoyed every minute of it.  Katelyn was determined to enjoy every minutes of everyday up her very last day in Edmonton.  Her final email home was the perfect last letter.  If I haven't mentioned this before, Katelyn's little brother received his mission call to serve in the Winnipeg, Canada mission and was scheduled to enter the MTC two days after Katelyn's return home.  On the Sunday before Katelyn's final P-day her little brother gave his farewell talk in Sacrament meeting and we were able to get an audio recording of the talk.  We sent the recording to Katelyn so that she would be able to hear what her brother said even though she wasn't able to be there.  This is what Katelyn said in her final letter home:
"There could have been no greater way to end my last p-day in the mission than to hear the farewell talk that Brendan gave yesterday. I have tears pouring down my face as I am sitting in the library.
This past week has been great! This week is going to be even better! The reality of going home is beginning to really hit me. SO MANY EMOTIONS. I am going to make this email short and sweet but know that I love you all and I am excited to see you on Monday night!! Have a great week!! Love you"
Katelyn's return flight home was just the starting to a long day.  She started out leaving Edmonton in the morning of January 19th and flew from there to Los Angeles.  Then she had a five hour layover in Los Angeles until she was finally able to board the plane that would bring her back to Salt Lake.  Even though it was a long day of traveling, Katelyn found ways to pass the time.  First of all, she talked to several people on the way home, about the gospel.  It also turned out that there was a new Sister missionary that was traveling from Guatemala to Provo, Utah to enter the MTC and start her mission.  Because of the bonds of being a missionary, they immediately became friends and spent much of the time while in Los Angeles, talking about missions.  This new Sister missionary became the perfect traveling companion for Katelyn as Katelyn was returning home. 

Katelyn was due to arrive in Salt Lake later that evening and we all arrived at the airport anticipating that we would be there 15 to 20 minutes before her plane was scheduled to land.  After we parked the car and made our way to the baggage claim area, we found out that her plane was actually early by about 15 to 20 minutes.  This meant that just as we were arriving at the airport, so was Katelyn.  Then within just a few minutes, Katelyn came walking down the escalator and we got to see her for the first time in 18 months.  Katelyn's Mom immediately ran up to her and gave her a big hug.  I was next and then the rest of the family.  As soon as she was with us all, the tears started to flow.  The reality  finally hit that she was now home from her mission and her days as a full time missionary were coming to an end.  We spent quite a while in the airport collecting Katelyn's luggage and making sure that the new Sister missionary from Guatemala was on her way as well.  Then we all made our way back to the car and on our way home.  But this is only the beginning of a of the missionary experiences that were to come over the next couple of days.  Katelyn returning home was just the first part.  Her little brother who would be leaving in just a couple of days meant that we only had a couple of days with all of our family together again.

The next day started out fairly normally except we now had one missionary coming and one missionary going.  Katelyn's Mom had hung up several signs in front of the house that told of everything that was going on.  There was one sign that welcomed Katelyn home and another sign that bid farewell to her little brother.  There was even a third sign that said that for the Nicholes' family, this was transfer day.  We were receiving one missionary back from Edmonton Canada and sending another out to Winnipeg Canada.  Of course the one day that we had all together was also the one day that we had to take a family picture.  So we spent a couple of hours traveling up the canyon to have a family portrait taken.  Then we spontaneously decided that it would be fun for the whole family to go to a place called Nickel City which is a nickel arcade full of games.  We enjoyed our time playing the arcade games and spending time as a whole family.  But this still isn't the end to the day.

Later on that evening we had the rare chance to participate in the release of one full time missionary and the setting apart of another, all at the same time.  After returning home from our family day, we all got dressed in our suits and dresses so that we could meet with a member of the Stake Presidency.  Once we arrived, we were all ushered into the Stake Presidents office to meet with the first counselor in the Stake Presidency.  He proceeded to talk with Katelyn about her mission and with our whole family about how we felt to have Katelyn home with us.  Then he released her from her full time missionary duties.  There were a few tears as he read the letter that Katelyn's mission president sent to the Stake President which described the work that Katelyn had done over the previous 18 months.  Then the next order of business was to set Katelyn's little brother apart as a full time missionary.  Myself as well as Katelyn's two older brothers were able to participate in the setting apart of her little brother.  Again there were a few tears as he hugged each of us as a new full time missionary.  At this point the focus was switched from celebrating Katelyn's homecoming to looking forward to her little brother's departure.  I won't go into what happened over the next day because that story will all be part of Katelyn's little brother's blog that I will be starting in the next day or so.  But needless to say, it was a very enjoyable time for our whole family.  As much as we are going to miss Katelyn's little brother while he is serving his mission, we are also very excited to have Katelyn home again.

These last 18 months have gone by so quickly.  None of us could believe just how fast the time had passed.  It seemed like we just dropped her off at the MTC just last summer and now she was returning home.  But the reality is that a year and a half had gone by.  Katelyn has really grown and the experiences that she had on her mission will forever be a part of her life.  There are so many people to thank and we hope that at some point we will be able to thank them in person.  To all of the Ward Members in the places where Katelyn served, thank you for taking care of our daughter.  To all of the companions that Katelyn served with, thank you for being such wonderful companions and mentors.  And to all of the people that Katelyn was able to meet and teach, thank you for inviting her into your homes and listening to the message that she and her companions had to share.  These last 18 months have been a wonderful time for both Katelyn and our whole family.  They have been full of experiences that we will all never forget.

The Nicholes Family

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Christmas call home and a change of plans

Christmas time is very special.  Not only for the time of year and the season that Christmas represents, but also because missionaries get to call home on Christmas.  Actually in Katelyn's case, she got to skype home for Christmas.  It was really great to skype with Katelyn and get to see her face for the first time since last Mother's day (which is also a special time for parents of a missionary).  She is doing really well and enjoying every last second of her mission.

As I mentioned before on this blog, Katelyn's little brother received his mission call a couple of months ago and will be serving in the Winnipeg, Canada mission.  The timing of when Katelyn's little brother would be going into the MTC and when Katelyn would be returning home, was 10 days.  That meant that they would actually miss each other by 10 days.  During our skype call with Katelyn she dropped a bomb and said that she really wanted to be home when her little brother got set about as a full time missionary.  What that would mean is that she would need to return home 10 days earlier than expected.  She said that she would talk to her mission president to see if there was any way that should could return home in time to be there for the setting apart.  The next Monday after Christmas we got a call from the Missionary Dept. telling us that Katelyn's return flight from Edmonton would be 10 days earlier than previously expected.  By the time Katelyn emailed home on that Monday, she told us that she thought things were going to work out but didn't know for sure.  We told her that the Missionary Dept. had called and the plans were confirmed.

So here is what this change really means.  Katelyn will be returning home from her mission 10 days earlier than before.  That means that she and her little brother will have one day together before he enters the MTC.  Obviously that day will be packed with family pictures and a lot of catching up.  It will also be filled with Katelyn unpacking from a mission and her little brother packing to leave on his mission.  Essentially we will be  trading one Canadian missionary for another and we wouldn't have it any other way.  But here is the real treat.  Both Katelyn and her little brother will be released and set apart by the Stake President at the same time.  In other words, when we met with the Stake President as a family, he will release Katelyn from her responsibilities as a full time missionary and then turn around and set her little brother apart as a full time missionary.  How often does that happen?  Anyway, there will be more on that event later.

Getting back to Katelyn's mission and Christmas, this time of year also means that all of the missionaries get together for an all mission Christmas conference.  This is a time when they all get to enjoy the Christmas season together as missionaries and share in the spirit of Christmas.  It is also a time when each missionary receives some specially written letters from their families.  Katelyn wrote home and told us a little bit about the conference.  This is what she said,
"This years was really spiritual throughout the whole conference. We had lots of musical numbers and President called some of us missionaries to bear our testimonies. The second he said that he was going to call some missionaries to come and share their testimonies I knew he was going to say Sister Nicholes. And so the first round of missionaries he called went up and most of them were missionaries who were going to be leaving in January.. and then he got back up and said lets hear some more! And there came the words.. Sister Nicholes will you come up and bear your testimony.. As i began to walk up to the pulpit and walk pass Sister and President Manion, the tears began. It took me a couple of seconds standing in front of the pulpit before I could even speak. It is so surreal to know that this is all coming to an end. It really doesn't feel real until moments like that. It all kind of hits you and its hard to know how to control all of the emotions that come with it. I was reading through a past notes I had from mission tour and having down at the bottom of the page.. We are going to be teaching the gospel for a lot longer than just in this life... So lets get good at it now! Isn't that the truth!! And such a blessing!"
Katelyn told us a story about some of the experiences that she has had during the Christmas season.  Katelyn said that she and her companion had been out tracting when they knocked on the door of a woman who let them in and wanted to know more about what they were doing.  Katelyn and her companion asked this woman if she had ever met the missionaries before and she said that she had.  Several years back she was moving out of an apartment and a couple of missionaries just happened to be walking by.  The missionaries stopped and asked if this woman needed any help.  She said that she did and was very appreciative for the help that they gave.  Now several years later two sister missionaries just happened to knock on this woman's door and because of the service that was rendered several years back, this woman was open to learning more about the Gospel. As Katelyn put it,
"It's comforting to know that no effort is wasted. Those elders had no idea that the service they gave would years later turn into a teaching opportunity. Those elders were able to plant the seed and we are now able to harvest it. We really never know the impact our small acts of service or small conversations will lead to down the road."
 Obviously, missionary work isn't just about teaching and baptizing.  It is also about service and planting seeds that may take years before they are ready to harvest.

Again, Katelyn told us about the miracles that happened over the Christmas season.  Different miracles from a chance meeting of someone that was house sitting and wanted to know more about a Mormon pamphlet that she had picked up, to a member of the Ward that had been praying to know how to teach a friend about the church because this friend had been asking a lot of questions.  Then to have the Sister missionaries show up at that moment to lend a hand.  I can safely say that Katelyn has enjoyed every minute of her mission.  We are sure that there have been some bad times along with the good times and she will probably tell us more about those times after she gets home.  But it will be the good times that Katelyn will remember the most.  In fact it will be all of the miracles that Katelyn has talked about that will be the greatest memories.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giving your all

There is a lot of working going on in the YSA Ward where Katelyn is currently serving.  Over the past few weeks Katelyn has been telling us story after story about how they have met new people and started teaching them about the Gospel.  I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog that the theme of Katelyn's mission seems to be miracles and that theme hasn't slowed down a bit.  Each week Katelyn is sharing with us little miracles about being in the right place at the right time to share the right message.  In the past few weeks they have met people who were down and ready to make a change in their life and others who were just looking for something different.  Some have really embraced the lessons that the missionaries have taught them and others have just been interested in learning something new.  But each one of them have a story as to why they decided to let the missionaries in to teach them.  Here is how Katelyn has described some of her experiences as she and her companion have been out tracting:

"I absolutely love the new Christmas initiative that the church is doing!!! I love watching the "He Is The Gift" video and the message it produces! Giving the gift of Christ is eternal! It changes lives! It is so much greater then any amount of worldly gifts we could buy or give to someone! The gift of Christ brings everlasting happiness and joy!! I love sharing that message with all those that we meet!"
"Last night we were tracting and we knocked on a door. A younger man came to the door and we began talking to him and he was telling us how he used to have a belief in Christ but he doesn't anymore. You could just see the sadness in his face and eyes. I wanted so badly to just push through the door and tell him EVERYTHING! Tell him the hope and the happiness this Gospel brings. There are so many of our brothers and sisters who are so burdened down and lost through the trials and experiences we each have in this life. I could tell this man had been through a lot and if he only new his true divinity and potential he would begin to realize how wonderful this life is and how much clarity and joy we can experience even amidst our heartaches! I really want to see someone come closer to the Savior these last couple of months that I am here in Canada! I hope I can do that and leave here knowing that I have given and done all that Heavenly Father wants me to do."

There has been other great news in Katelyn's family that not only involves missionary work but Canada as well.  Katelyn's little brother recently turned in his mission papers and received a call to serve as a full time missionary.  As it turns out, he will be following in his sister's footstep and will be heading to Canada as well.  However, the place that he will be serving is just a little bit south east of Edmonton.  Katelyn's little brother will be serving in the Winnipeg, Canada mission.  This has been some very exciting news for our whole.  The only downside, if there is really a downside to a mission call, is that Katelyn's little brother will be leaving to enter the Mission Training Center 8 days before Katelyn is due to return from her mission in Edmonton.  So she and her little brother will have to wait another two years before they see each other again.  But it's all worth it and neither one of them would change a thing.  Canada is the place to be.

Winter is back in Canada.  Over the past couple of months Katelyn has told us that the days are growing colder and the snow is starting to move in.  But in a recent email home, she said that they woke up to 2 to 3 feet of new snow and I'm sure that there will be plenty more to come.  Katelyn told us about how they went to visit someone that they have been teaching and couldn't find anywhere to park because of all of the piled up snow.  They ended up having to park several blocks away at a gas station and then walk back to their investigator's apartment.  Katelyn said that it was so cold outside that day that by the time they walked back to the apartment building, her eyelashes had accumulated a layer of frost.  Then to top that off, the person who they were going to visit, wasn't home so they had no choice but to stay out in the cold.  This is where knocking on doors takes on a little different meaning.  Rather than just knocking on a door hoping that they would find someone new to teach, now they were also knocking on doors hoping that someone would let them in so that they could get warm. 

Katelyn is now on her last transfer period.  In other words, she is only 6 weeks away from completing her mission and returning home.  She has been reflecting on the last 17 months of her mission and during this last week some of her early mission experiences came full circle.  Katelyn and her first companion from the MTC were able to spend a few days together on exchanges.  Katelyn told us that it was very interesting to think that just 17 months ago she and her first MTC companion were just starting out as missionaries together.  She was surprised at just how fast time has gone by.  It seemed like just yesterday that they were both starting out together in the MTC.  Now they are spending some time together as seasoned missionaries doing what they have learned to loved and that is teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the Edmonton Canada mission.  Katelyn also included the following thoughts in her latest email as she reflected upon some of the experiences during her mission:

"Over the past couple of weeks I have really been thinking about consecration and my own personal consecration. One morning during personal study I had decided to write down 10 things that I either wanted to improve or stop doing to become consecrated and to feel the spirit more abundantly. Some of those things included increasing my faith, talking with EVERYONE and coming home each night, accounting to the Lord and feeling as though I had given every ounce of energy and my all into the day. I was reminded of this scripture Helaman 10;4-5
"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will."
With the "He Is The Gift" video and thinking of the gift I would give to Christ this year, I decided it would be my will and my all. To become a more diligent and consecrated missionary... As I have done this we have seen MIRACLES.. Everyday! My goal before coming home is to find a new investigator each day and to bring one person closer to Christ."

I'm sure that Katelyn will come home from her mission feeling exactly as she described it.  She has told us many stories about the people that she has met and the lessons about Jesus Christ and his Church that she has taught.  If there is one thing that Katelyn has always done throughout her life, it is giving her all.  This has been true during her mission as well.

This is Katelyn with her first MTC companion, now 17 months later

Christmas time in the mission

Monday, November 10, 2014

From leadership to trainer in a new area with a new companion

     Katelyn's mission is quickly coming to a close.  She only has about three months left and she will be home.  But the Lord still has more things for her to do as a full-time missionary.  For the past seven months Katelyn has been serving as a Sister Training Leader.  Having this responsibility has really helped her to grow in many ways.  It has also given her the opportunity to meet and work with many other missionaries who are serving in leadership positions as well.  In addition to that, she has been able to work with many of the leaders in her Ward and Stake.  Katelyn recently was invited to attend a Priesthood meeting as well has a High Council meeting in her Stake.  In this particular High Council meeting, several missionaries who had recently returned home, were reporting their mission experiences to the High Council.  Katelyn told us that the best part of the meeting was when a Sister missionary who had recently returned from Peru, reported on her mission.  Katelyn said that it was wonderful to hear all about this Sister's mission experiences and just how much she truly loved her mission.  Then after the Sister missionary sat down, one of the High Council members leaned over and told Katelyn "now you know what to prepare for when you get home".  Katelyn will have that same opportunity to report on her mission to the High Council in our Stake as well.  I am sure that in her report, she will also be very grateful for her mission and express just how much it has changed her life.

But when I said that the Lord still has more things for Katelyn to do on her mission, I was really talking about her new responsibilities.  As I mentioned previously, Katelyn has been serving as a Sister Training Leader for the past seven months and with this transfer, she has been released from that responsibility.  Her new assignment is to be a trainer for new missionaries that are just now entering the Edmonton, Canada mission.  Katelyn has also been assigned to the Young Single Adult Ward in the River Valley area and she and her new companion are replacing the missionary companionship that was there before.  So not only does Katelyn have to train a new missionary, she also has to get to know the members of the Ward and the area that she will be serving in.  Needless to say, Katelyn is very excited to be a trainer for the last few months of her mission.  When she wrote us last week to tell us about her new assignment, we could tell just from the tone of the email, just how excited she was.

Katelyn has been working with and teaching the Gospel to a number of people in their area.  Some of the people that she and her companion have been teaching have really come to know that what they are being taught is the truth and are preparing to be baptized members of the Church.  These experiences have been so exciting for Katelyn.  She has been able to teach and prepare some wonderful people who have accepted the Gospel in their lives and are ready to take the next step.  Katelyn and her companion have also been working very closely with some of the members of their Ward.  These members have assisted the missionaries in teaching some of the lessons and helping to testify of the truthfulness of the Gospel.  Katelyn told us about one recent experience where they were planing on teaching a lesson the next day and had prepared a very specific lesson to teach.  One of the members of the Ward had also agreed to accompany the missionaries and help them teach the lesson.  Just before Katelyn and her companion were about to leave for the teaching appointment, they had a feeling that they should change the topic of the lesson that they were going to teach.  Later on as they were teaching the lesson, the Ward member who accompanied them recounted how he had woken up the night before with the same feeling that a different topic needed to be taught the next day.  As it turned out, the topic that Katelyn and her companion were prompted to teach was the same topic that the Ward member had also had a feeling should be taught.  The message that they taught that night was just the right message and the whole evening was filled with the spirit.

Katelyn recently had another experience that, like many of her experiences, can be described as a miracle.  I won't go into a lot of the detail here so it may not sound as miraculous as when Katelyn described it in her email.  So this last week Katelyn and her new companion decided to go tracting.  Just like Katelyn has done many times before, she and her companion start out by driving around and stopping when they feel that they are in the right place.  They ended up at an apartment build and started knocking on some doors.  As tracting usually goes, some of the people politely told them that they weren't interested and others told them the same thing, but not quite so politely.  Finally they ended up talking with a person who seemed very interested and said that they already knew some members of the LDS church.  To make a longer story short, the person that they knew was a Ward member of the Ward that Katelyn had been serving in over the past few months.  So out of all of the places that Katelyn and her companion could have tracted, they ended up in the right place at the right time to talk with the right person.  How's that for being lead by the spirit?

So here is a really cute picture of Katelyn, until you look really closely and notice that her left eye is a little red.  Katelyn told us that the reason for the red eye is because of the fight she had with some toilet bowl cleaner.  Fortunately, she was able to wash the cleaner out of her eye and the worst of it was just having to explain why her eye was red all of the time.

The Elders and Sisters of Katelyn's district, celebrating a little for Halloween

Waking up to Canadian snow in mid-October

New companionship as a new trainer and trainee

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Being in the right place at the right time

Transfers came and went again and Katelyn is still in River Valley.  If you don't remember where River Valley is, it is very close to downtown Edmonton and sits along the river that runs through the middle of the city.  Katelyn had really expected to be transferred to a different area this month because her six months as a Sister Training Leader has pretty much come to an end.  But to her surprise, her mission president decided to keep her as a Sister Training Leader for at least one more transfer.  Katelyn was really excited about that.  She has really enjoyed leadership and has also really enjoyed working with the other leaders in the mission. 

Almost every week Katelyn tells us about the people that she has met with and taught.  A lot of her stories seem to have the same theme which is no coincidence.  The theme is that Katelyn and her companion seem to always be in the right place at the right time.  Whether it is being at the Ward Mission Leader's house when a friend that they were just talking about just happens to drop by or when an appointment falls through which puts them in the right place to meet someone else who is interested in knowing more.  But no matter how it happens, Katelyn tells us just how strong the spirit is when they are teaching the Gospel.  Sometime these teaching opportunities happen in a house and other times it is on a front porch and every time it always feels like a miracle. 

So here is just a small example of what Katelyn is talking about.  A couple of weeks ago Katelyn and her companion were out delivering flyers for a food drive to help out the Edmonton Food Bank.  They had both been out for hours handing out flyers and were about ready to call it quits for the night and head home.  About that time they noticed a lady in front of them taking her dog for a walk.  For some reason the dog kept turning around and barking at them.  Then just as Katelyn and her companion decided to go and talk to the lady, she turned around to see why her dog was barking so much.  Then rather than the missionaries starting up a conversation which is usually the case, the lady asked Katelyn and her companion what they were doing.  Katelyn told her that they were out delivering flyers to help the food bank.  Then the lady asked if she could help and seemed very excited about the opportunity.  Of course Katelyn and her companion said yes and shared not only a pass along card with her but the name and telephone number of the person that was coordinating the food drive.  In this case, service was the thing that brought Katelyn and her companion together with someone else who was also looking for an opportunity to serve.  Letting the Lord put you in the right place at the right time is what missionary work is all about.

In Katelyn's latest email she told us how much she really enjoyed watching conference.  She also talked about the fact that they had several of the people that they had been teaching also attending General Conference as well.  Some of them came to the church to watch and others got together with some of the members in the area to watch conference in their homes.  They also had one experience where a man who had been searching for a christian church to attend just happened to walk in off the street, sit down and start to pray.  Since it happened to be conference weekend, obviously the church was full of missionaries as well as other members in the area.  What a perfect time for someone to walk in and want to know more.  Not only were the missionaries there to explain more about the church, but there was also a live broadcast from church headquarters with the prophet and apostles speaking. 

All in all it was a great conference weekend.  Not only did Katelyn have many great experiences but our family did as well.  A person that our oldest son Christopher had taught while on his mission, came out to Utah to visit and attend conference with us.  She stayed in hour home and we were able to do a little more missionary work here. 

A couple of pictures of fall in Canada.  But winter is coming...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A small world full of miracles

The latest news from Katelyn is that she is "doing more of the same".  You might not think that "doing more of the same" is big news, but in Katelyn's case, it is.  What I mean by doing more of the same is that every week Katelyn writes home and tells us all about the miracles that have been happening to her and her companion.  Katelyn's emails from the last few weeks have been "more of the same".  In other words, more miracles!  Without going into too much detail, this is what I mean.

Recently, Katelyn and her companion went to go visit with and older couple in their Ward but there was one problem.  They had forgotten to bring their appointment book and they weren't exactly sure what the apartment number was.  Katelyn thought that she knew what the correct number was so they knocked on the door of that apartment.  Then just before the person who lived there answered the door, Katelyn commented to her companion, "wouldn't it be funny if we got the wrong apartment".  Guess what?  A person who Katelyn had never seen before answered the door.  It was the wrong apartment.  Then the next thing that Katelyn knows, her companion starts talking with the apartment owner and it turned out to be a former investigator that they had lost track of.  Then suddenly the apartment door across the hall opens and it is the older couple that Katelyn and her companion had originally come to see.  So how is that for a miracle.  Katelyn and her companion were able to reconnect with a former investigator and set up a new appointment who just happened to live across the hall from members of their Ward.  It sounds to me like a miracle.  What do you think?

But the miracles don't stop there.  Katelyn and her companion were out street contacting one day.  Before they got out of their car to start tracting, Katelyn's companion said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father direct them to someone who would really be interested and be the one to ask them questions instead of the missionaries asking all of the questions.  Within about 10 minutes after leaving their car, they were walking through a neighborhood and stopped to look at an interesting sprinkler in the yard of a house.  Just then someone walked around from the back yard and Katelyn commented to the person that she liked the sprinkler.  Most of the time the person would have just said thanks and everybody would have moved on.  But this time the person walked over and started asking Katelyn and her companion who they were and what they were doing. So of course they started to explain to the home owner who they were and what they were doing there.  They shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon and immediately the home owner was interested.  In fact they were so interested that they invited the Sister Missionaries back so that the missionaries could talk to some of the home owners family and friends.  Katelyn commented to us that usually it is hard to find someone that would even talk to them let alone start asking them questions and invite them back to teach them more.  Another miracle?  I'm thinking so.

 If you think that the miracles stopped there, you would be wrong.  Not too long after that Katelyn and her companion were going to talk to some other people that they had recently met.  When they got there, there was a little girl that they didn't know, sitting on the front porch.  The Sisters asked the little girl if her mother was home.  When the mother (who they also didn't know) walked out, it turned out that she was visiting family from a different city and was actually a member of the church.  As they all started to talk, some of the other family member came out and sat on the porch with them as the woman who was visiting started bearing her testimony to her other family members.  Katelyn and her companion spent about 45 minutes sitting on the porch talking, teaching and listening.  Then just before they were about to ask if they could come back another time to teach them more, the lady who was visiting beat them to the punch and set up an appointment for them to come back.  There you go.  More of the same, miracles upon miracles.

Transfer time again in Katelyn's mission and the big news is that Katelyn will be staying in River Valley.  But, she will be getting a new companion.  I commented to Katelyn in an email that she seems to be going through companions like crazy.  It seems that every transfer lately, Katelyn is either moving to an area with a new companion or a new companion is moving to her area.  Well, this time it is the latter.  Katelyn is coming up on her six month mark as a Sister Training Leader.  She has told us that sisters in her mission usually only serve as an STL for six months.  This probably means that Katelyn will be getting at least one more new companion before she is done with her mission.

In Katelyn's most recent email she talked about a family in their Ward named the Lows'.  Katelyn said that they are an incredible family that has been through a lot in the past year.  To start out with, about a year or so ago Sister Low found out that she was pregnant with triplets.  That was the good news.  Then shortly after the triplets were born, they found out that each of the babies had a rare form of cancer in one of each of their eyes.  This meant that they would need to go to Toronto for treatment that ranged from a specialized laser surgery to localized chemo-therapy.  That was obviously the bad news.  But rather than try to tell the whole story here, you can find out more about them in a news story that appeared in the Deseret News, Faith carries LDS couple as each of their identical triplets battles rare eye cancer | Deseret News  or on their blog at .  Now for the reason why I mention this besides the obvious.  An interesting little tie-in here is that recently Katelyn and her companion were visiting with the Lows' in their home.  Sister Low's parents were also there visiting and helping with the triplets.  As they all got talking, it turned out that Sister Low's sister is married to Katelyn's Mom's cousin.  How is that for a small world.  

Here are a few pictures that Katelyn sent home recently.

Building a new sidewalk and doing a little service.

Here is the finished product. 

Doing a little more service as parking attendants during Heritage Days. 

Enjoying a little treat at the mall.

Dressing up with the Young Women at one of their activities.

Katelyn and her companion are "out-standing" in their field. 

Ok, Katelyn may not be out standing in a field in this picture but she is definitely "leaps and bounds" above the rest. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Miracles, service and a new area

Changes again and this one was a little unexpected.  Transfers came and Katelyn will now be serving in the big city.  She is actually going to be almost in downtown Edmonton.  The new area that she will be serving in is called River Valley and by the looks of it on Google Maps, it is called River Valley for a reason.  Obviously, the reason is that there is a big river running right through the valley.  As I looked a little closer to the map, the real name of the area should be "Golf Course Valley" because of the fact that there seems to be a golf course at every bend of the river.  Within about a ten mile stretch of the river, I was able to count six golf courses.  The funny story about the golf courses is that when I pointed this out to Katelyn, she told me later that she had the Elders believing that she was a pro golfer so this new area would be perfect for her.  Then she broke the news to them that she had barely gone mini-golfing a couple of times in her life and that was the closest that she had ever been to a golf course.

Katelyn is still a Sister Training Leader and still going on a lot of exchanges with some of the other sister missionaries in the zone.  Just recently Katelyn had a chance to go back to Spruce Grove which was her previous area and go on exchanges with her previous companion.  Katelyn said that it was really a great experience and also one of the more interesting dinner appointments that she has ever had.  The menu consisted of things like cabbage and cole slaw mixed with eggs along with some old pickled beets.  But bless their hearts, the most important thing is that they were doing their best to serve the missionaries.  The next day Katelyn and her companion were able to meet with some the people that the sisters have been teaching in the area and had some really great lessons.   

Service is always at the center of missionary work.  Whether it is teaching the Gospel or helping someone move.  This time the service that they were doing was the latter.  Apparently the Elders in the area had promised to help some people load their truck during their move.  Unfortunately, it was pouring rain at the time.  But the work goes on despite the rain.  Of course it could have been worse.  They could have been helping someone move in a blinding snow storm in -40 degree temperatures in the middle of January.  Anyway, as it turned out, the people that were moving lived right next door to the Ward mission leader and the Ward mission leader didn't even know that his neighbors were moving.  Anyway, everything was good and the people that were moving were really grateful for the help.

So during the month of July, we in the U.S. celebrate the 4th of July.  But in Canada they celebrate Canada Day.  So continuing on in the spirit of service, Katelyn and her companion volunteered to help with all of the Canada Day celebrations.  Katelyn said that they were on their feet for 13 hours straight with no breaks.  Their first assignment was during the fair where there were a lot of food and clothing vendors all set up in a large parking lot.  With all of the vendors taking up the space in the parking lot, obviously where wasn't and room for the public to park.  So people who were attending the fair had to be bussed in or walk.  But occasionally one of the vendors would need to make a run to get more supplies or food to sell.  This is where Katelyn and her companion come in.  They would have to escort the vendor that needed to make a supply run, down a long drag and then escort them back all on foot.  That meant that during the day they probably walked about 10 miles or more.  Then after spending 4 hours escorting cars in and out of the fair, they were reassigned to bike storage detail.  This meant that they would take someone's bike, give them a claim ticket and then have to store the bike for the person until they returned.  Then after several hours of bike detail, they were assigned to parking lot detail again.  Only this time it was the VIP parking lot.  They could only let the cars in if they were on the VIP list.  Finally after a long day of volunteering, Katelyn still had to go back to their appartment and pack up all of her stuff for the move to her new area in River Valley.  Katelyn said that it was obviously a very exhausting day be a good day none-the-less.

So on the first Sunday after arriving in her new area, Katelyn and her new companion were in Ward Council meeting when the Bishop turned to the new Elder in the area and Katelyn and told them that he would like them to stand up and introduce themselves in Sacrament meeting.  Oh but there was one catch.  Elder Nelson of the quorum of the twelve Apostles will be attending their meeting, so no added pressure, right?  Actually, Katelyn said that it was great.  Both Elder Nelson and his wife spoke during the meeting and Katelyn was able to visit with them for a few minutes after the meeting.  This was one of the most memorable experiences that Katelyn has had on her mission.  It was quite the "Welcome" to the River Valley Ward.

Over the last few weeks Katelyn told us that things have been really up and down in her new area.  Unfortunately, they have had several Sisters who have had to return home due to medical problems.  Katelyn told us a story about one of the sisters and what happened at the airport when she was about to fly home.  Apparently, she was really struggling with having to fly home by herself.  So the mission president and his wife said a little prayer along with this sister and asked that all would be well.  Just as they finished their prayer, they heard someone behind them say, "Hey missionaries".  It turned out that it was a family that was returning home to Utah from an international trip and they just happen to be on the same plane as the sister missionary that was returning home.  The mission president's wife then asked the mother of this family if they would accompany this sister through security and stay with her on her way home.  They agreed and were happy to help.  In their prayer they had asked that all would be well, and all was well.  Definitely a miracle.

Katelyn loves being a missionary!

Celebrating Canada Day

Tracting in the park

Make follow up calls before zone conference

A random sculpture of silver balls off the side of the road in River Valley