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 mormon.org 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 http://www.lows-lowdown.blogspot.com/ .  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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Missions of a different kind

I want to start out this post by talking about someone else other than Katelyn for a minute.  But you will see how it all ties back to Katelyn and her mission in the end.  Katelyn had a friend named Michalla who she grew up with in our Ward.  Michalla (Michalla's Miracles Blog) was diagnosed with leukemia not long after she graduated from high school.  She went through chemotherapy and every other treatment that comes with cancer and was declared cancer free a little over a year ago.  She spent the next year preparing for a mission, submitting her mission papers and then finally receiving a mission call.  Unfortunately, two days before she was supposed to give her farewell talk in sacrament meeting, she had a final checkup and the cancer was back.  So instead of entering the MTC that week, she went back to the hospital for more treatments.  After six months of treatments and a lot of prayers and blessings, things didn't turn out quite as everyone had hoped and prayed for.  Michalla passed away on June 15, 2014.  Her funeral service was both beautiful and spiritual.  Katelyn's Mom was able to contribute to the services by playing prelude music and accompanying on the organ during the congregational hymns.  Katelyn's older brother along with one of his former mission companions, was able to play a piano and violin duet (If You Could Hie To Kolob/Come Thou Fount Medley) of Michalla and her mother's favorite hymns that Katelyn's brother just happened to have composed while serving as a missionary himself. 

We kept Katelyn informed of Michalla's condition during the last few weeks before Michalla passed away.  One of the common themes from the time that Michalla entered the hospital the second time and up until her passing was that Michalla simply has a different mission to fulfill.  This past week Katelyn sent home an email which contained the following insight into Michalla's current mission:

"Something else I wanted to tell you that has been really neat. Over the past 2 weeks I have talked to SOOO many people that have either had to fight cancer or have a relative who is in the midst of fighting against cancer. It has given me the opportunity to bear testimony about the plan of salvation and the Atonement and of course about Michalla's experience which has really softened peoples hearts. At the beginning of the conversation they really don't want much to do with us but after sharing these different experiences and doctrine they are open to the gospel. It has been so neat! So Michalla has been helping with missionary work all the way up in the Canada Edmonton Mission! It has been so amazing! Literally I have never talked with so many people who have had to deal with cancer than I have in the past two weeks. It has been really neat to tell them about Michalla and help them to understand that we each have a plan and there is a purpose for all we go through."
That was just one of the many miracles and experiences that Katelyn has shared with us from her mission.  Katelyn tells us all of the time how they seem to always be put in the right place at the right time to meet someone who is interested in learning about the Gospel.  Katelyn told us about a church tour that they gave to some members of a different faith. Afterwards one of the people who took the tour came up to them and expressed interest in knowing more.  Then just a few days later while Katelyn and her companion were doing volunteer work at a local thrift store, they ran into another person who had also been on the tour and who was a friend of the first person that they had met from the tour.  Now it appears that Katelyn and her companion will be teaching both of them at the same time.  Then just recently, Katelyn and her companion have been teaching another investigator who they have seen several times before.  During their latest visit, the woman asked the missionaries a simple question, "How are you able to do that?".  What she was referring to is how are the missionaries able to come to her house and share a message with her which is exactly what she needed to hear at that time.  Katelyn explained to her that it wasn't them.  It was the Lord.  The Lord knows what she needs and uses servants like two sister missionaries to communicate what needs to be said at that moment. 

Speaking of volunteer work, part of missionary service is to spend a certain amount of time volunteering in the community at places like a thrift store.  In a recent email message Katelyn told us about some volunteer work that she and her companion did.  This time it wasn't at a hospital or a thrift store.  Their volunteer work consisted of helping to organize and judge soccer skills for the little league soccer teams in their area.  Of course Katelyn being a dancer, has no clue about soccer and neither did her companion.  But they were put in charge of the kicking skills competition and given a radar gun to help them determine how fast the kids could kick a soccer ball.  One by one the kids would line up and kick the ball.  Katelyn and her companion would use the radar gun to see how fast the ball went.  Katelyn said that they were given only a brief set of instructions on what to do and then left alone to judge the completion.  I am assuming that everything turned out OK.  Katelyn said that it was a bit hectic but that it was super fun.

Katelyn attended a zone conference with her mission president recently.  Katelyn and her companion did some training on how to present the first chapter of the Book of Mormon to investigators.  Then the mission president talked about how the Edmonton mission was unique in that the Edmonton area is a melting pot of different cultures and people from all over the world.  Being that, the missionaries are able to teach and convert people in their mission who will then return back to their own countries and help spread the gospel further.  He talked about how just a few people from Russia who were converted, returned to Russia and were the foundation for the many branches that exist their today.  The whole point was that the missionaries in the Edmonton mission are actually able to teach the world from right within their own mission boundaries.  Kind of a neat way of looking at how the Gospel is being spread throughout the world.


A rare treat.  Panda Express!



Another rare... well something.  Haggis.  Apparent their district leader likes to cook and thought that Haggis would be a good idea.


 
The Sister Training Leaders in the Edmonton Canada mission.
 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Calling home for Mother's day and other assorted miracles

The most exciting news from Katelyn over the past few weeks was when she called us on Mother's day.  Actually, she was able to Skype so that we could see her and she could see us.  It was great!! The whole family was here, except for Katelyn obviously, and we well all able to talk to her.  We set the laptop up so that she could see all of us sitting around the family room.  We talked about the weather, we talked about all of the news from home and we talked about the people that she is currently teaching and her new responsibilities as a Sister Training Leader.  It was great to hear from her and she really looks good.  Having missionaries out in the mission field makes Mother's Day and Christmas the best holidays of the year. 

After having just talked with Katelyn on Mother's Day over Skype, we didn't think that we would hear from her again for at least another week.  But just two days later we got another email from her.  I asked her why she was emailing that day since we had just talked over Skype a couple of days before.  She told me that in the last couple of days she and her companion had some great spiritual experiences and they just needed to write home and tell us about them.  I can't really get into the details here of what Katelyn told us but basically while they were tracting the previous day, many different things came together all at once which allowed them to come in contact with some wonderful people who are very interested in learning more about the Gospel.  In fact these people have already had a lot of contact with other members of the Church in the area and love and respect many of them.  Katelyn described this whole experience of meeting these people as probably the best missionary experience that she has had so far.  She was just so excited to write home and tell us about it.

Things just keep moving forward for Katelyn in Spruce Grove.  In one of her most recent emails she told us that when she first arrived in Spruce Grove just a few weeks ago. They really didn't have anybody to teach.  Now just a few weeks later, they have nine new investigators and a ton of teaching opportunities.  As Katelyn put it:

"So we have found all these people to start teaching just in the past couple weeks! It has been so amazing. Seriously so many miracles are happening everywhere in the mission. Missionary work is blowing up! The work really is hastening! I love it here! I love serving in Spruce Grove! We have been so blessed! And so many people are so prepared for the gospel."
 It is amazing just how fast time is flying by.  Many of Katelyn's friends who have gone on missions are now coming home.  Some of her other friends are getting married and Katelyn is coming up on her one year mark on her mission.  It was only just a few weeks ago that she was transferred to Spruce Grove and now it is time for transfers again.  Katelyn told us this week that they received the transfer calls and she will be staying in Spruce Grove but her current companion will be moving to another area.  Katelyn referred to her new companion as her Grandma.  That sounds a little strange for missionaries and no her new companion isn't a single older sister.  What she meant by "Grandma" is that her new companion was the trainer of Katelyn's trainer.  So Katelyn's first companion, who was her trainer is referred to as Katelyn's mother.  And her trainer's trainer would be Katelyn's Grandma.  Got it?  Ok, it still sounds a little silly but hey, they are missionaries and that's the mission tradition.  So I guess Katelyn's Grandma (new companion) only has a couple of months left before she returns home.  This will probably be the first time that Katelyn actually sends a companion home.  The crazy thing is that by the time that happens, Katelyn will only have a few months left before she returns home as well.  Crazy how time flies.

In Katelyn's latest email she again told us about all of the miracles that are happening in Spruce Grove.  Katelyn and her new companion have met a few new investigators and their teaching pool just keep increasing.  They have also spent some of their time doing service for some of the people in their area.  This last week they helped to gut a trailer that will be remodeled and fixed up for one of the members in the area.  Katelyn said that she and some of the other missionaries had a lot of fun tearing out walls and ripping everything up.  I guess service is service even if it does involve a bit of demolition.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A month full of miracles

There have been some big changes for Katelyn in the last month.  For starters, Katelyn has been assigned to a new area.  She is now in a city called Spruce Grove which is just west of Edmonton.  On top of that, Katelyn has been called as a new Sister Training Leader.  This is actually the second time that Katelyn has served as a Sister Training Leader.  If you recall, Katelyn was called as an STL during her short time in the Provo MTC.  If you are not familiar with what a Sister Training Leader is, it is basically the equivalent of a Zone Leader except that a Sister Training Leader has a responsibility for the Sisters in the Zone.  So this is a pretty big responsibility for Katelyn and her companion.  Her new Zone in Spruce Grove extends northwest of Edmonton up to a town called Grande Prairie which is about a 5 hour drive.  This means that at least once a month, Katelyn and her companion will be driving to Grande Prairie to meet with the Sister Missionaries there, go on exchanges and do some training.  She will also be responsible for participating with the Zone training each month as well.  Even though this is a great opportunity to serve as an STL in the mission, Katelyn will really miss all of the people that she has come to know and love in the Panoka area.  She spent basically half of her mission in this area, serving in Red Deer, Panoka and Lancomb.  It will be hard for her to leave.

In the past few weeks, Katelyn has written us about some of the most spiritual experiences that she has had on her mission.  I will try to retell the stories here and hopefully my version of her stories will come close to the impact that we could feel through her emails.  The first story starts out with Katelyn and her companion going to Edmonton for a training meeting.  While they were in Edmonton, they got permission to attend a temple session.  Since they still had a little while before their scheduled session time, they decided to go to the mall to take care of some errands that they need to do.  On their way to the temple after leaving the mall, they both noticed that somewhere along the way they had misplaced their cell phone.  They searched the car thinking that maybe it dropped out on the floor but the phone wasn't there.  Then they started to retrace their steps through the mall hoping that they would run across the phone, but no luck.  It was now getting very close to their temple session time and they knew that they had to hurry.  Finally they got the idea to check with guest services at the mall and sure enough, somebody had turned in the phone and they were able to get it back.  They raced back to the temple but unfortunately they missed their session by about 10 minutes.  So rather than actually going through a temple session, they decided to do some initiatory work.  This is where the exciting part happens.  As Katelyn was going through the initiatory session for each of the names that she had been assigned, she noticed one name on the page who was from Ecuador.  If you have read this blog for very long, you know that Katelyn has a very close tie to Ecuador after having spent several months working in the orphanages in Cuenca.  Upon reading the name, Katelyn started crying and got an over whelming feeling that the sister for whom she was about to do the work, was right there with her.  At that moment Katelyn knew why it took them so long to find their cell phone and why they ended up missing the temple session.  Katelyn knew that she needed to be doing the initiatory work for that Ecuadorian sister at that moment.

These next stories came from Katelyn's most recent email home.  This email just started out with one word: MIRACLES!.  Katelyn and her companion had made the 5 hour drive to Grande Prairie to go on exchanges with the Sister missionaries in that area.  The sisters from Grande Praire had another meeting that they needed to attend so that gave Katelyn and her companion a little bit of time to go tracting.  The way that Katelyn usually goes about tracting is that she first starts out driving until she feels like they should turn or stop and this time was no different.  After driving around for a few minutes, Katelyn finally felt impressed to pull the car over and start knocking on doors.  Since Grande Prairie isn't their normal area, they both decided to try a few different kinds of door approaches.  The first house that they went to, nobody answered.  But the second house was a different story.  Katelyn said that a nice lady answered the door and immediately called them, SISTERS.  This took them by surprise and they thought that maybe they had tracted into a member's house without knowing.  They asked the lady if she was a member of the church and she responded, no.  But she knew some people who were members of the church who had sent some of their kids on missions.  So she knew about the Elder missionaries but was surprised to see sister missionaries.  The lady invited Katelyn and her companion in and ended up listening to the whole first lesson.  What are the odds that these Sister Missionaries would park right in front of this lady's house who was willing and ready to listen to a gospel lesson, if they weren't actually being lead by the spirit?

The next story happened the very next day while Katelyn was on an exchange with one of the other Sister missionaries from the area.  It was getting kind of late in the evening and they figured that they had about 10 minutes before they needed to get back to the apartment.  So again Katelyn suggested that they just do a little bit of tracting for the last 10 minutes.  They parked the car near their apartment and then started walking down the road.  They passed the first house and knocked on the door of the second house on the street.  A man answered the door and told the Sisters that he really wasn't interested.  So the Sisters wished him a good evening and decided to knock on one more door.  This time a lady answered the door and immediately invited the Sisters in.  They talked for a while about Jesus Christ and the missionaries shared the first lesson with this lady.  They even showed a video to her using her own laptop.  The lady loved the video and they all talked a little bit more about the plan of salvation.  As they turned to leave, the lady invited them back to talk some more.  Katelyn said that it was just an amazing experience.  When they got back to the apartment, they shared their experience with the other sister missionaries.  As it turned out, the other sisters had also gone tracting down the same street.  Except they tracted the first house and then decided to go somewhere else while Katelyn and her companion tracted the second and third house not knowing that the other sisters had been on the same road.  Again, what are the odds?

Needless to say, a lot of great things have been happening with Katelyn.  She is loving her new calling, she is loving the work and she is loving the people.  What more could a missionary ask for?

Just a few pictures to enjoy!


Happy 21st Birthday


 
Just enjoying a little birthday cake
 

 
Hamming it up with the Sista's
 


Katelyn and her companion outside of the Edmonton temple


Sunday, March 30, 2014

How great is missionary life...

   Oh, life as a missionary.  Let me start this entry out by talking about the little annoyances that missionaries have to put up with once in a while.  One of those little annoyances is ants.  That's right, I'm talking about the little creepy crawling things that usually don't hurt you but when you see them crawling around, they are just annoying. 
    Katelyn wrote us a few weeks ago and told us about the ants in her apartment.  The weather is still cold in Canada but warm enough for the ants to start moving again.  Of course just like every other living thing, they want to get warm too.  So the warmest place around is inside the missionary's apartment.  Katelyn and her companion have been keeping their apartment really clean, but the ants don't seem to care.  A few weeks ago Katelyn and her companion got home from an all day training meeting and interviews in Red Deer only to find ants all over their apartment.  The ants were crawling all over the floor, on their desk and who knows where else.  Katelyn has been spraying ant killer around the apartment to see if that will take care of the problem.  But there seems to be more ants than killer.  So these sister missionaries have just had to get inventive.  Everybody has been telling them how to get rid of the ants but nothing seems to work.  Therefore, turn it into a game.  Whenever you enter the apartment, go on an ant hunt.  Ants are pretty easy to hunt.  The only problem is that there are too many of them.  The good news is that spring is coming, the weather is warming up and soon the ants will like it better outside rather than inside.
    Now that we have started with a funny story, why not continue.  Katelyn told us that not long ago after a missionary meeting that they had, they went out to their car to find a sticky note on the rear-view mirror.  The sticky not said, "Gal. 1:8, Read it".  This scripture says something about being cursed if you preach any other gospel.  Since the sisters didn't know who left the note, they got a little worried that somebody might be stalking them.  Then it dawned on them that it was probably the Elders just playing a joke.  When they confronted the Elders, of course they denied doing anything.  A little later on, the Ward mission leader found out and was just about to report it to the housing coordinator for the mission.  Well, this scared the Elders a bit, because obviously they did it, so they fess'ed up and came clean.  I think that you would have probably had to be there in order to get why this story is so funny, but Katelyn assured us that it was and everybody had a good laugh over it. 
    Sticking with the funny story stuff, this one is sure to make you laugh.  Here is Katelyn just cheesing it up for the camera.


Yes, those are cheetos in her mouth.  I'm not sure what possessed her to make lips out of cheetos but she said that it took her quite a while to find the exact size of cheetos to fit just right in her mouth.
     Have you ever seen a video or wondered what happens when you take a cup of hot water and throw it into the air in -40 degree weather.  If you haven't ever seen this, well here is your chance.  Or you could just Google it, there are plenty of other videos on the Internet.  But we kind of like this one because it features someone that we love.

video

    Katelyn wrote us a week or so ago and told us that the primary had asked her and her companion to play two different parts in a little skit for the primary children.  So one of them dressed up as a Nephite and the other one dressed up as Mary Magdalene.  During the skit they had to play their parts as someone was narrating the story.  Katelyn played the part of May Magdalene seeing the resurrected Savior.  Basically, their customs where made out of some table clothes that they wrapped around themselves.  But nevertheless, Katelyn said that it was really a spiritual experience playing these parts for the primary children.


    Even though these Sisters are having a great time serving the Lord in any way that they can, not everything always goes their way.  Katelyn told us in her latest letter that she had kind of a tough week.  She told us about some of the struggles that they have been having with the people that they have been teaching.  She also told us about some of the struggles that some of the members of their Ward have been having due to health issues and other things.  A mission is a growing experience.  Sometimes the experiences are great and sometime they are not so great.  Either way these experiences make you a better person.  Katelyn has and is finding this out on her mission.  Her older brothers found this out while they were serving as missionaries not long ago and hopefully her younger brother will also come to find out just how much a mission can serve him while he is serving others.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Serving the Lord at 40 below

First of all, we need to start out this blog entry with the fact that Katelyn is now famous.  Well, maybe she is famous if you are visitor to the Canadian version of LDS.org.  But hey, famous is famous right?  Take a look at this article that was recently posted on the Canadian LDS.org site.  It is an article that is all about the increased number of missionaries in the Canadian missions.  Just click on this link to read this article.  It is called "Responding to the call for more missionaries".  This article not only talks about Katelyn's mission but several other Canadian missions and missionaries.  So out of  all of the missions and missionaries now serving in Canada, Katelyn was one of the few chosen to share her story about why she decided to serve a mission.

Over the past few weeks, a new opportunity has come about for Katelyn and her companion.  Just a few weeks ago, Katelyn and her companion were trying to find different ways in which they could serve the community of Ponoka.  Their main idea was to call around to different community centers and other similar places to see if they could volunteer in any way possible.  They quickly discovered that volunteering to work and serve, although counter intuitive, was just about as hard as simply finding a job.  The problem that they ran into was that many of the places wanted volunteers but they required a background check and a commitment that the volunteer would be around for a certain period of time.  As missionaries who are constantly changing areas every six weeks, by the time they completed a background check and started their volunteer work, it would be time to move to a new area.  But after a lot of calling and talking with people, they were able to find a great opportunity.   They will be volunteering at the local hospital every Tuesday morning, helping to organize and lead a multi-denominational church service.  So far they have only be doing this for just the past couple of weeks.  Katelyn hasn't really told us a lot about what they have done yet, but she said in her latest email that they had a really great discussion with one of the Pastors of a church there in Ponoka.  She really feels that this opportunity will yield a lot more great experiences and I'm sure that as those experiences come, we will hear more about them.

There seems to be a lot of opportunities in Ponoka for service.  Everything from visiting people in the hospitals to working as a volunteer to shoveling snow and helping others move to new locations.  Recently Katelyn told us a story about how she had over heard a lady talking with someone at the library and saying that she needed help moving out of her house.  In the conversation she said that she would even be willing to pay someone a hundred dollars if they would help her.  At that point Katelyn jumped into the conversation and told the lady that she would be able to find a truck and a group of people to help her move and the lady wouldn't even need to pay them.  They were willing to do the work for free.  A few days later, Katelyn was able to coordinate with Branch President and the Elders quorum to help the lady move out of her house into a nearby apartment.  After the work was done and everything was moved, Katelyn told us just how grateful the lady was for all of the help and how much she wanted to stay in touch with the missionaries.  Who knows if this contact will go any farther than that, but at least Katelyn, her companion and the other volunteers were able to leave a good impression on this lady of who they are and what they stand for.

Katelyn and her companion spend quite a lot of their time visiting less active members of the church in their area.  As Katelyn has explained to us on several different occasions,  some of their visits are great and very inspiring and others are just strange.  But for the most part, Katelyn is very happy with every opportunity to serve, no matter how big or small the task.  She has told us that since her area is so small, trying to find new people to teach is challenging.  Over the past several months they have been able to find new investigators and done their best to teach them the Gospel, but it has been difficult to actually get some of these people to come to church.  Katelyn knows that they feel the spirit when the missionaries are in their homes and teaching them the lessons.  She knows this because the people have told them so and are usually very excited to have the missionaries return.  But when it comes to taking the next step, that is when the feelings start to weaken and things don't quite come together.  One thing is for sure however, Katelyn is learning a lot, serving a lot and very happy with what she is doing.

Spring, or anything close to it, has definitely not yet arrived in Canada.  In Utah the temperatures have been hovering in the 40 and 50 degree range which is a bit warm for this time of year.  But in Ponoka Canada and every where else in that area, it is still the dead of winter.  Katelyn has told us several times that they wake up to -40 degree temperatures almost every morning.  In her email last week she said that they had been helping several people move in -38 to -45 degree weather.  The snow just doesn't seem to quit either.  Katelyn said that they just got a few more inches of snow the night before.  Having to spend even one winter in Canada really makes you appreciate the fact that even our coldest winter days are nothing like Ponoka.  If nothing else, be grateful for that.

Finally, Katelyn related to us a really neat story about a lady that she had met in Red Deer.  This lady had been through some very trying times and just before Katelyn was transferred from Red Deer to Ponoka, the Elders had given this lady a blessing.  Katelyn said that the experience that evening was very powerful and she had thought about this lady many times and had wondered how she was doing.  This last week Katelyn had the opportunity to see and visit with this lady on a chance meeting while waiting at the church building for the Zone Leaders to arrive.  This gave Katelyn the opportunity to learn a little bit about how this lady was doing and also to tell this lady just how meaningful she had been in Katelyn's life.  A little later as Katelyn and her companion were driving home, they were listening to some church music when the hymn "Be Still My Soul" started playing.  There is a line in the song that says, "He'll guide the future as he has the past".  This line hit Katelyn really hard as she thought about this lady and all that she had been through in the past and what she will be doing in the future.  Katelyn said this line in the hymn was the perfect thing to hear and it was very meaningful to her in that moment.

To finish off this entry, here are just a few pictures that Katelyn sent home over the last few weeks. 


Trying a little too hard to take advantage of the grocery store coupons, these two sisters went a little overboard on the Rice Krispy treats.



This one is a bit of an inside family joke.  Katelyn is referring to this place as the recommended Bed and Breakfast when we tour her mission in a year or so.


Receiving her Valentine's Day package from home.


Fun in the Canadian snow with the whole district.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

A little snow and a little service brings opportunities

Katelyn is doing well in Canada but she is growing a little tired of the short days and long nights.  Luckily the Winter Solstice has passed and the days are slowly getting longer instead of shorter.  But the weather has still been very cold and snowy.  Katelyn sent us a few pictures recently of all of the snow.  Some of the snow banks are taller than the trucks that are parked next to them.


In fact, the Edmonton area gets so much snow that snow plows alone don't really cut it.  The snow banks pile up so high that they literally have to truck the snow away.  Check this out.


If you can't quite tell what is going on in this picture, there is a very large snow blower mounted to the front of a tractor which is blowing the snow into the back of a semi-trailer.  Somewhere outside of town there must be a very large pile of snow where it gets dumped.

With this much snow you would think that just shoveling your driveway would be a large task.  Well it is. But for the missionaries it is also a big opportunity.  Katelyn told us a story about going out to help some of their neighbors shovel their walks as a service project.  On one occasion as Katelyn and her companion were going to borrow a snow shovel from a church member, they came across a lady and her kids out shoveling their driveway.  So Katelyn and her companion took that as an opportunity to stop and help out.  While they were all clearing the snow off of the driveway, they took the chance to talk a little bit about the church and found out that this lady and her family were very interested in knowing more.  So from a little hard work and a bit of service, a little more missionary work was done.

Katelyn and her companion have also been doing a lot of visiting with some of the less active members in the area.  Some of their experiences have been good and some not so good.  I won't go into detail about the visits here but I can say that in some of there visits, aliens and outhouses seemed to be prime topics of conversation.  But never the less, Katelyn was still able to share a few scriptures and thoughts and sometimes that is all that can be done.  At least for now.

It is transfer time again so as soon as Katelyn had a chance to email home to tell us about it, she did. But when we got her email, she started it out with "We got transfer calls this morning... and...", and that was all that the email said.  Oh great, she is going to leave us hanging.  Then she followed up with another email that said that she would be staying in Panoka but her companion was being transferred back to Edmonton.  I asked Katelyn what was going on with her and companions.  This is the third companion she has had since moving to Panoka.  Is she just working them so hard that they are getting worn out or what.  No, actually her companion was being transferred to Edmonton because she had been called as a Sister Training Leader.  This meant that Katelyn needed to stay in Panoka to train another companion on the area.  So Katelyn told us a little about her new companion and that they are getting along really well.  Katelyn has really been blessed with great companions and she has been able to do some great missionary work with them all.

Katelyn told us a story about how they were having dinner at one of the member's houses and the member asked if the sisters had gotten their flu shots yet.  Apparently the availability of flu shots is a bit scares in their area so they would have to travel to a clinic in Red Deer to find the shots.  This member was going to go the early the next morning so that they could get a good place in line at the clinic.  Katelyn and her companion cleared the flu shot trip with their mission president and the next morning they were on their way.  When they got to the clinic, Katelyn told us that it was like Black Friday before Christmas.  People were lined up around the block waiting their turn to get a flu shot.  Being early in the morning, the sky was still dark and the temperatures were still extremely cold.  Like -25 degrees cold.  So they got in line and waited outside in the cold for about 35 minutes.  Katelyn said that by the time they got in to the clinic, they were all frozen.  Katelyn doesn't really do well with needles and getting a flu shot was no exception.  So after all of the little kids had already gotten their shots and were doing great, it was Katelyn's turn.  The little kids rallied around Katelyn and told her to think about unicorns and puppies and that everything would be fine.  Well she got through the trauma of a flu shot and they even gave her a juice box to make her feel better.  Here they are standing outside of the clinic waiting to get their shots.

   
  Katelyn included a little poem that she likes so I will include it here.
"Faith to be faith must be centered around something that is not known.  Faith to be faith must go beyond that which there is confirming evidence.  Faith to be faith must go into the unknown.  Faith to be faith must walk to the edge of the light and then a few steps into the darkness.  Strive to gain greater faith this week by taking a few steps into the darkness.  The Lord is with us, he loves us and will not let us fail."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas time in Canada

It's Christmas and guess what that means?  Well besides the obvious which is what Christmas is all about, it also means that we get a call from our missionary daughter.  This is actually the fifth Christmas in a row that we have received a call from one of our missionary children and this year it is Katelyn's turn to call home.  But rather than just calling home on the phone like her brothers did, we got to skype with her on Christmas which meant that we were able to see her as well as talk to her.

As I mentioned, this is the fifth Christmas in a row that we have received a call from one of our missionary children.  This also means that we haven't had our entire family physically together for Christmas in five years either.  But, through the miracle of the Internet and skype, we were all able to be together virtually.  This year for Christmas two of Katelyn's brothers were here at home, her other brother was in St. George and of course Katelyn was in Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.  When Katelyn finally skyped home on Christmas afternoon, we conferenced in her brother from St. George which allowed us to all be together for Christmas.  Well, at least on the computer screen.  Katelyn is doing very well and was just as excited to call home as we were to hear from her.  She told us all about some of the people that she and her companion are currently teaching.  She talked about how cold it is at this time of the year and how little sun light they get everyday.  Here in Utah during the winter we average about 9 1/2 hours of sun light.  But since Katelyn is much further north, the sun goes down at about 3:30 pm and they average about 7 1/2 hours of sun each day.  That makes the days short and the nights long and cold.  Also during the call, we told Katelyn all about some of the things that have been going on at home and laughed and joked just like we were all sitting around the dinner table.  It was a wonderful Christmas present for all of us and a great time to be together as a family.

Transfers came and went a couple of weeks ago.  Katelyn was sure that she and her companion would stay together for another transfer but to their surprise, her companion was asked to move to Edmonton.  This meant that Katelyn would be staying in Ponoka and would be getting a new companion.  Not long after that, Katelyn's new companion arrived and they immediately hit it off.  Katelyn told us that they are so similar that it seems strange some times.  Katelyn told us that they have some new ideas for moving the missionary work forward in their area.  But unfortunately on her companion's first night in Ponoka, they had a bit of an unpleasant experience with some of the people that they had just started teaching.  I won't go into the details here, but it was kind of an uncomfortable way for Katelyn's companion to be introduced to a new area.  Well, so goes missionary work.  You never really know what experiences you are going to gain each day.  But fortunately after that experience, things were all uphill from there.  Katelyn told us about some great lessons that they taught to a family that they had met not too long ago.  She was so excited about the progress that they had made and the changes that they were making in their lives. 

Just before Christmas, Katelyn and her companion got the opportunity to travel up to Edmonton for a few days.  Katelyn said that they stayed with some of the Sisters that were assigned to the Ellerslie area.  This is the same area where Katelyn's MTC companion was serving so Katelyn was able to talk to her and catch up on some of the experiences that she has had since the time that they both arrived in Canada together.  They also attended a Zone Conference while they were in Edmonton and got the opportunity to go to the temple as well.  Because their day was so full, they didn't actually get through until about 8:30 pm which didn't really give them enough time to drive back to Ponoka.  So instead, Katelyn and her companion ended up staying in the mission home with several other Sisters who were also assigned to areas outside of Edmonton.  Katelyn said that it was a lot of fun to be around some of the other Sisters in the Edmonton mission.  Since she and her companion are the only two Sisters serving in Ponoka, they don't have a lot of opportunities to interact with some of the other Sister missionaries.

Overall, Katelyn had a great Christmas.  Obviously it was a very different Christmas in a very different area of the world and very different experiences and circumstances as well.  But that is what makes life and missions interesting.  Katelyn's Mom sent a few packages containing Christmas presents for Katelyn to open on Christmas.  And in addition to that, the member of the Church in the Ponoka and Lancomb area were very good to Katelyn and her companion as well.  Katelyn sent us a picture of their tiny Christmas tree in their apartment with all of the present beneath it.  Many, if not most of the presents that they received this Christmas were from the kind people in their Ward.  Thank you all for taking care of our daughter and making sure that her first mission Christmas is one to remember.


Katelyn's little Christmas tree in the corner of her apartment.


With the help of her Mom and the Church members in the area, this is what Katelyn and her companion's Christmas tree looked like on Christmas day.



Take a look at the temperature.  -37c is actually about -35 F.  This is cold, but very useful when it comes to baking cookies.  See below...


Katelyn explained to us how they bake cookies in Canada.  12 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees.  Then chill for 30 seconds in the snow at -35 degrees.  Mmm... perfect!




Here is Katelyn at the Lancomb library emailing home.  What would a library be without a library cat?  Apparently this cat just wanders around the library and greets the patrons all day.



Katelyn and her companion building gingerbread houses at the community center.  This has been a Christmas tradition since Katelyn was a little girl.