Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Christmas call home and a change of plans

Christmas time is very special.  Not only for the time of year and the season that Christmas represents, but also because missionaries get to call home on Christmas.  Actually in Katelyn's case, she got to skype home for Christmas.  It was really great to skype with Katelyn and get to see her face for the first time since last Mother's day (which is also a special time for parents of a missionary).  She is doing really well and enjoying every last second of her mission.

As I mentioned before on this blog, Katelyn's little brother received his mission call a couple of months ago and will be serving in the Winnipeg, Canada mission.  The timing of when Katelyn's little brother would be going into the MTC and when Katelyn would be returning home, was 10 days.  That meant that they would actually miss each other by 10 days.  During our skype call with Katelyn she dropped a bomb and said that she really wanted to be home when her little brother got set about as a full time missionary.  What that would mean is that she would need to return home 10 days earlier than expected.  She said that she would talk to her mission president to see if there was any way that should could return home in time to be there for the setting apart.  The next Monday after Christmas we got a call from the Missionary Dept. telling us that Katelyn's return flight from Edmonton would be 10 days earlier than previously expected.  By the time Katelyn emailed home on that Monday, she told us that she thought things were going to work out but didn't know for sure.  We told her that the Missionary Dept. had called and the plans were confirmed.

So here is what this change really means.  Katelyn will be returning home from her mission 10 days earlier than before.  That means that she and her little brother will have one day together before he enters the MTC.  Obviously that day will be packed with family pictures and a lot of catching up.  It will also be filled with Katelyn unpacking from a mission and her little brother packing to leave on his mission.  Essentially we will be  trading one Canadian missionary for another and we wouldn't have it any other way.  But here is the real treat.  Both Katelyn and her little brother will be released and set apart by the Stake President at the same time.  In other words, when we met with the Stake President as a family, he will release Katelyn from her responsibilities as a full time missionary and then turn around and set her little brother apart as a full time missionary.  How often does that happen?  Anyway, there will be more on that event later.

Getting back to Katelyn's mission and Christmas, this time of year also means that all of the missionaries get together for an all mission Christmas conference.  This is a time when they all get to enjoy the Christmas season together as missionaries and share in the spirit of Christmas.  It is also a time when each missionary receives some specially written letters from their families.  Katelyn wrote home and told us a little bit about the conference.  This is what she said,
"This years was really spiritual throughout the whole conference. We had lots of musical numbers and President called some of us missionaries to bear our testimonies. The second he said that he was going to call some missionaries to come and share their testimonies I knew he was going to say Sister Nicholes. And so the first round of missionaries he called went up and most of them were missionaries who were going to be leaving in January.. and then he got back up and said lets hear some more! And there came the words.. Sister Nicholes will you come up and bear your testimony.. As i began to walk up to the pulpit and walk pass Sister and President Manion, the tears began. It took me a couple of seconds standing in front of the pulpit before I could even speak. It is so surreal to know that this is all coming to an end. It really doesn't feel real until moments like that. It all kind of hits you and its hard to know how to control all of the emotions that come with it. I was reading through a past notes I had from mission tour and having down at the bottom of the page.. We are going to be teaching the gospel for a lot longer than just in this life... So lets get good at it now! Isn't that the truth!! And such a blessing!"
Katelyn told us a story about some of the experiences that she has had during the Christmas season.  Katelyn said that she and her companion had been out tracting when they knocked on the door of a woman who let them in and wanted to know more about what they were doing.  Katelyn and her companion asked this woman if she had ever met the missionaries before and she said that she had.  Several years back she was moving out of an apartment and a couple of missionaries just happened to be walking by.  The missionaries stopped and asked if this woman needed any help.  She said that she did and was very appreciative for the help that they gave.  Now several years later two sister missionaries just happened to knock on this woman's door and because of the service that was rendered several years back, this woman was open to learning more about the Gospel. As Katelyn put it,
"It's comforting to know that no effort is wasted. Those elders had no idea that the service they gave would years later turn into a teaching opportunity. Those elders were able to plant the seed and we are now able to harvest it. We really never know the impact our small acts of service or small conversations will lead to down the road."
 Obviously, missionary work isn't just about teaching and baptizing.  It is also about service and planting seeds that may take years before they are ready to harvest.

Again, Katelyn told us about the miracles that happened over the Christmas season.  Different miracles from a chance meeting of someone that was house sitting and wanted to know more about a Mormon pamphlet that she had picked up, to a member of the Ward that had been praying to know how to teach a friend about the church because this friend had been asking a lot of questions.  Then to have the Sister missionaries show up at that moment to lend a hand.  I can safely say that Katelyn has enjoyed every minute of her mission.  We are sure that there have been some bad times along with the good times and she will probably tell us more about those times after she gets home.  But it will be the good times that Katelyn will remember the most.  In fact it will be all of the miracles that Katelyn has talked about that will be the greatest memories.

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