Katelyn told us in her first email home that it was weird to think that she is in a different country. Other than the fact that there are no mountains and the people really do say "eh" a lot, things aren't really that much different. She arrived in the mission on a Tuesday and the next day was mission transfers. Katelyn has been assigned to serve in Red Deer which is a couple of hours south of Edmonton. She and her companion will be working with the Young Single Adults in the area. From what Katelyn told us, they will be spending most of their time working with the less active and other members of the Branch. She told us that working with the YSA Branch is great for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that they have 3-4 dinner appointments per week as well as the opportunity to attend and help out with the YSA activities. Of course the others reasons include all of the great people in the Branch that she is serving with.
Over and over again Katelyn has told us just how much she loves being a missionary. She is still trying to get used to teaching and tracting and everything else that goes on in the mission field, but she loves it. She has wasted no time in getting right into the work. Katelyn has told us about meeting with the Branch President, teaching lessons to some of the less active members of the Branch, sharing the gospel while tracting and even having to give her first Sacrament meeting talk as a missionary. She said that giving a talk in Sacrament meeting was not quite what she was used to. Since there are only about 30-40 members of the Branch, looking out at the audience was more like teaching a Gospel Doctrine class than it was speaking in a Sacrament meeting. Tracting has been a little rough though. Katelyn said that they get rejected a lot as well as running into some rude people who think it is appropriate to yell at the missionaries.
Not too long ago Katelyn was on an exchange with a sister missionary that was serving in a nearby city. One of their investigators canceled on them at the last minute so they both decided to go tracting. While tracting, they ran into a lot of houses where nobody was home and others that really weren't interested. Then they ran into one man who told them that he already knew about the Mormons and what they believed. So out of curiosity, Katelyn and her companion asked him to explain what he knew. He proceeded to tell them all about how Mormons worship Joseph Smith, how all of the men have multiple wives and even about members of the church digging up the bodies of dead people so that they could baptize the bones. Of course none of that is true. So they left the man with some truthful information and told him that if he really wanted to know more, they would be willing to teach him. We'll see if anything comes of that.
Then Katelyn told us about the hardest day that she has had so far. They met a another man who was sitting on his porch and began talking with him. He immediately told the sisters that he was an atheist and wanted nothing to do with religion. As the conversation went on, Katelyn said that everything just felt terrible. Finally, the man's wife came out and told them to leave along with some other choice words. As Katelyn and her companion left and started walking back to their car, Katelyn just felt overwhelmed by the worst feeling. This man believed that there was nothing to this life. We live, we die and that's it. Katelyn just kept thinking about all of the little children that she served in the Ecuadorian orphanages and the trials that they had in their little lives. She just knew that the Lord loved these little kids and that there would be purpose to their life. All would be made right for them through the atonement. She just felt bad for this man because she wanted him to understand this concept and knew that he didn't want to accept it. So before they went any further, both Katelyn and her companion walked across the street to a park and said a prayer. Of course this is just the first of probably many experiences both good and bad that Katelyn will have on her mission. The great thing about a mission is that when it is all over and the missionary returns home, they will remember all of the great experiences and forget about the bad ones.
Speaking of great experiences, Katelyn latest email home was filled with wonderful stories. She told us all about how she and her companion were able to travel to Edmonton for a conference with a General Authority of the church. She said that the General Authority gave a wonderful talk that was filled with inspirational stories. Then they were able to go through an endowment session in the temple in Edmonton and just how wonderful it was to be in the temple again.
Then after returning to Red Deer, the experiences didn't stop. Katelyn and her companion went out tracting again and Katelyn said that it was pretty rough. They were rejected over and over again and were about to give up for the night. When they got back to their car, Katelyn said that she just felt like they weren't done for the night. There was still someone around there that they needed to meet. She decided that they would drive through some of the neighborhoods until they felt prompted to stop. So they drove around for about fifteen minutes when Katelyn felt that it was time to stop and try again. No luck. House after house, no one was home. It was getting close to nine o'clock at night so again, they felt like they needed to head home. As they walked back to their car, they noticed that there was a light on at the house across the street from where they parked. Katelyn and her companion saw the light and decided to try just one more house. When they knocked on the door, a lady answered and began talking with them. They talked for about twenty minutes about the gospel and how it is centered around the family. When they had finished talking, they left the lady with some pamphlets and an appointment to return. At this point Katelyn was just amazed that even though it was literally the last door that they knocked on, the Lord knew where they needed to go and lead them right to the house.
Katelyn sent home a few pictures of her and some of the companions that she has been serving with.
As Katelyn explained it to us, this is one of their great meals that they fixed for themselves one night. Basically, it is a portebello mushroom burger. No meat, just mushroom. Katelyn said that it tasted a lot better than it looked. In fact it tasted really good.
This is a picture of Katelyn and one of the other sisters that she served with during exchanges.
If you weren't aware of this already, most of the bananas that we consume in the U.S. are from the country of Ecuador. I'm sure that this banana that Katelyn is holding was from Ecuador also. It probably just made her think about her time serving in the orphanages there. The fact that the banana is a bit over ripened, probably just reminded her about just how far away Ecuador is from Canada.
More mission companions. It is great to serve with such wonderful sisters.