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.