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.