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.