Thursday, October 17, 2013

Great stories of great success from a great mission

It has been almost two weeks since General Conference and Katelyn has written us a couple of times since then.  In her first email home after conference, she told us just how much she loved it.  She had the most amazing week that week.  She told us about some of the lessons that they taught, interviews that they had with the mission president and his wife and of course GENERAL CONFERENCE. 

A few days before general conference weekend, Katelyn's mission president and his wife traveled down to Red Deer to hold interviews with the missionaries in that area.  Katelyn said that he was running about two hours late on interviews but that was OK with her.  The reason why was because it gave Katelyn and her companion more time to spend with the mission president's wife.  They all passed the time just baking cookies and talking.  Katelyn also said that she really likes her mission president.  She said that he is just hilarious and such a teddy bear.  Her mission president reminds her of her grandpa John.  Then on that Saturday and Sunday, which of course was conference weekend, they spent their time with the other missionaries just taking in everything that the general authorities and Prophet had to say.  There was one point during conference when the Tabernacle Choir sang "Called to Serve".  At that moment I told Katelyn's Mom to just imagine Katelyn standing in the chapel with a bunch of other missionaries singing along just as loud as they could.  I told Katelyn what I had said when I wrote to her the next day.  She responded and told me that it was exactly how I described it.  I told her that knowing exactly what she was doing at that moment made us feel like we were right there with her.

So here is a bit of a funny story that you will get when you see the pictures below.  A few weeks ago Katelyn's Mom put together a package and sent it to Katelyn.  Well, she finally received it right around the same time as conference weekend.  The package included a letter from a friend of her's and also some souvenirs which he had brought back from a recent trip to Bolivia.  One of the souvenirs was an indian head band which Katelyn is so beautifully sporting in the following picture.  In the next picture of the headband, there is a scripture which I think comes from the lost manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, or maybe not.  You decide:

Click on the picture to enlarge it if you are unable to read the scripture

Actually, it was Katelyn's clever companion that wrote the scripture.  I had  you going there didn't I.  You really thought that she had found the missing manuscript pages.  ;-)

So it turns out that Canada, being a different country and all, celebrates Thanksgiving just like we do in the United States.  The only difference is that the Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October.  So this last Monday was Thanksgiving and Katelyn said that some members of the church in her area invited her and her companion to their house for Thanksgiving dinner.  In fact this family loved having the missionaries over for dinner so much that they invited them for two nights in a row.  Katelyn told us that it felt a little strange celebrating Thanksgiving in October rather than November like we do in the U.S.  But nevertheless, the food is always good and you can never get enough pumpkin pie.

Katelyn told us that because of the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada, they had a very hard time filling their appointment book.  Actually, they weren't very successful at teaching any lessons at all that week.  So with time on their hands, they took a page out of Katelyn's older brother's missionary book and raked leaves for the neighbors.  They had a really good time raking leaves.  Katelyn said that the people were so grateful but they really couldn't believe that these two young missionaries were raking leaves for free.  At one house, the owner actually came out to help them rake leaves.  The whole time that they were working, the owner kept saying, "You guys really don't mind doing this?  You really aren't charging anything?".  They told him that they were just out doing service and there was no charge.  The owner still couldn't quite wrap is head around that idea.

This past week Katelyn and her companion were working on some new ways to find people to teach.  So one of the ideas that they decided to do was to set up a booth at the college in Red Deer with the LDSSA (Latter-day Saints School Association).  Then they had some of the college students that attend the Branch sit with them in the booth as they handed out balloons, cards with candy taped to them and played mormon messages in the background.  Katelyn said that they really had a lot of fun and really had a lot of success as well.  They gave away a lot of Books of Mormon and had some really great gospel conversations with some of the college students that came by.  In fact, they were so successful that they decided that they would set up this booth every week.

This past week in Church both Katelyn and her companion were asked to teach the Sunday School lesson as well as the Relief Society lesson.  On the way to church that day, knowing that they would be teaching during two hours of the three hour block, they joked with each other that maybe the Sacrament Meeting speaker wouldn't show up and they would be asked to speak in that meeting as well.  Fortunately for them, the speaker did show up but someone forgot to bring the sacrament bread.  So Katelyn and her companion went to the freezer in the kitchen and all they could find were some frozen blueberry waffles.  So guess what the congregation had for the sacrament that week?  You got it, they had probably one of the tastiest sacrament services ever.  I guess the moral of this story is that when you are in a bind, blueberry waffles will do.  :)

OK, Katelyn's email home this week was just filled with little gems like the following story.  But rather than retell it to you, I will just let you read it yourself.

"So on Wednesday night at 1 in the morning I hear this chirp chirp.. chirp chirp chirp chirp.. and I am thinking, what in the world is that noise?? So I walk out to our front hall area and it is coming from these boots that my companion had bought recently at Value Village (which is a thrift store). So I'm thinking, oh my.. there are birds living in the shoes she bought! I am freaking out! So I kick the boots and it stops! Then I go back and lay down in bed and not even a couple minutes later I hear it again... I go back and start moving the shoes and the noise continues so it's not in the boots and I am freaking out.  I go in and wake up my companion to come out and help me find this creature that is in our apartment and she comes out and we start tearing apart the front hall area where there is a bunch of random things.  There was an old pair of boots that someone had left in the apartment so my companion grabs the boot by the very top fur part and carefully takes it to the back deck and shuts the door... But nope the chirping remains. So we are going through everything and then all of a sudden a little cricket starts hopping around!! It was a cricket! So my companion grabs the broom and starts jabbing the cricket and it keeps hopping around and I am freaking out.  Then BAM..., she killed it. It was ridiculous."
There you have it.  The perfect missionary story.  What a great couple of weeks!

Here are a few more great pictures from Canada.  Enjoy!

Instead of a snow angel, Katelyn made a leaf angel.

Taking a break after a hard day of service.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Working hard and being guided by the spirit

Katelyn is still working with the Young Single Adult Branch in Red Deer.  The problem that the Branch is having now is that most of the young singles have gone back to school.  That means that there are very few members of the Branch still left in Red Deer.  Katelyn said a few weeks ago that there were only about 18-20 people at church on Sunday which makes it very hard to get much done. Katelyn said that she doesn't know if they can continue to meet as a Branch for much longer because it is so small.  They have no Relief Society presidency, no Sunday School presidency and no Elder's Quorum presidency.  Everybody in the Branch has 3-4 callings and just doing the best that they can.  In fact in Katelyn's letter a week or so ago, she told us about how she and her companion had to teach Elders Quorum.  She said that it was definitely a first and probably a last as well.  Katelyn said that the lesson went great but at the same time it also felt a little strange teaching the guys in Elders Quorum.

Katelyn is also having another problem as well.  But this one is a little different.  Katelyn told us about how nice all of the members are in the other Ward and how they just love to feed the missionaries.  She told us a story about how they went to dinner at one of the member family's home and the Elders were there also.  The family feed them all really well and of course when it came to just how much everybody could eat, the Elders always win.  But that didn't stop Katelyn and her companion from trying.  The Elders would give the Sisters such a hard time about not eating enough that Katelyn just wanted to prove them wrong (Katelyn has that competitive spirit just like her brothers).  But in the end, the Elders won and Katelyn said that she doesn't ever want to see Chinese food again.

Katelyn and her companion have been teaching a lot of lessons.  Some of the lessons are to new investigators and some of them are to members who have been less active.  She tells us over and over again just how much she loves teaching and talking to the people there.  In addition to teaching, they are also doing a lot of service as well.  They have helped decorate and work in the kitchen at a wedding reception.  Helped organize food items and other things for a member that gathers donated items and takes them to people in need. They even helped another Lady who needed help painting her kitchen.  Katelyn said that she really enjoyed painting.  She must get that from her mother.

Katelyn told us a really neat story about one of the members in Red Deer.  Katelyn and her companion were supposed to meet with one of their investigators for a lesson that night but for some reason the investigator didn't show up.  But as Katelyn put it, the Lord really knows what is going on and where they needed to be.  They ended up going with the Elders to the house of a member who was going through some tough things.  This member has had some really rough times over the years and is struggling with the Gospel a bit.  As I have mentioned before, Katelyn spent some time last year serving as a volunteer in Ecuador and it just so happened that this member also has a tie to Ecuador.  Right there Katelyn had something in common and started talking about how she learned so much about the Atonement in Ecuador and what it can do for people who are struggling.  One of the Elders then gave this member a beautiful blessing.  Katelyn said that she knew that she was supposed to be there that evening to share her experiences with this person and that it is times like that that makes everything a mission is about, worth it.

So here is a bit of a funny story.  So Katelyn likes banana's but one day one of the Elders who is from the Congo decided that he needed Katelyn's banana, so he took it and said he would pay her back.  For some reason this Elder gave Katelyn the nick name of "Big Money Nicholes" and it seems to have stuck.  So a few days later Katelyn and her companion were sitting in their car eating some food after church when the Elders texted them and told them to check the fridge in the church kitchen.  So they went to the kitchen and found a white bag that had written on it, "Sister Nicholes (Big Money)".  Inside the bag was a banana and written on the banana as well was "Big Money Nicholes".

Katelyn has been playing the piano again which has really made her Mom happy.  Katelyn took piano lessons for several years when she was little but hasn't played much since then.  But just like her Mom always said, there will be a time when you really need that talent and apparently the time has come.  Katelyn and her companion organized a talent show for the YSA Branch.  Since there really aren't that many members of the Branch, they weren't really sure how well it was going to work out.  But Katelyn told us that it actually went better than she thought it would.  During the talent show Katelyn played "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" and "Praise To The Man".  She said that somebody had taken a video of it and was going to send it to us but we haven't seen it yet.  I'm sure that she did a really good job.

So here is another little tidbit.  Apparently one of the members of the Branch is part of a battle group.  This is a group that meets one a month or so and each member of the group dresses up like a medieval warrior or something like that.  So here is a picture of Katelyn and her companion after they had borrowed some of the swords and shields from the battle group.

 Things have been going great for Katelyn in Red Deer.  She is loving what she is doing and every week she tells us great stories about the members of the Ward and Branch.  She has also told us some great stories about some of the people that they have met while they have been out tracting.  Stories about how the Lord guides them to a specific neighborhoods and how there is always one house where someone is just waiting for them to come.  Katelyn has only been out for a couple of months now but she has already had some great experiences and I'm sure that she will have many more in the months to come.