Sunday, June 24, 2018

Training and Family History Fun

Elder and Sister Moore came in from Smiths Falls to start their training to take over for us when we leave next month.  They are going to be great.  They are quick learners and will have a lot of fun with their new assignment.

The new office staff as of July 9th, when the Moores officially start.  They will fit in very well with the Andersons and the Donnellys.

On Friday, Elder Swendsen and I went to Smiths Falls to visit my second cousin, Judie and her husband Gord.  It was an absolutely gorgeous drive, once we got out into the country.  We had a wonderful time with more family.  The "old" photo of Judie and I, below, is in 1956, the last time I was in Smiths Falls.

Friday afternoon we went for a walk along the Rideau Canal, a gentle walk from their home - past three houses and then cross the street.  Elder Swendsen and Gord then went to the museum about the locks that are on the canal.  Judie and I sat and talked by one of the locks.  We got to see the locks work as two boats went through.  It was fascinating to see.  We later went for dinner at a restaurant (My Place) owned by people from Prague.  The weinerschnitzel was wonderful as well as the Madras soup.  We watched a beautiful sunset.  Our hotel looked out over the canal which was great.



Saturday after a great breakfast at Perfect Thyming Restaurant.  Elder Swendsen and Gord went on a road trip to Carp, Ontario about 30 kilometres from Ottawa.  They visited the Diefenbunker Museum which is four levels underground.  They had a great time.  Judie and I spent the time sharing Family History.  She has a lot of wonderful photos of the Park side of my family that I did not have.  I was taking a lot of pictures with my phone.  She also had a small pair of leather boots made by my second great grandmother, Agnes McIntyre, who was a boot machinist.  They are a miniature sample of what she made for people.

We had a wonderful visit and rekindled families ties and love.  I love my extended family.

Time is going so quickly, we only have three weeks left until we leave this wonderful mission.  There is still so much to do.

With the Lord's help, we will get everything done to complete our mission.  He gave us a tender mercy in having the Moores agree to come and work in the office.  This is His work and He is in charge.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Busy Start to June

Monday, June 4th was our monthly senior's dinner at Ed & Sheila Ludlows' home.  They were hoping to be outside, but it was too cool, so we all crowded inside.  They do a wonderful job, as always.  The theme was Father's Day.

Elder Donnelly and poor raccoon
We had a bit of excitement at the Mission Office this week.  Sister Donnelly and I have been going for short walks around the church property.  One day we found a dead raccoon.  We sent the APs out to dispose of it.  All they could do was take pictures, so Elder Donnelly bagged it up and put it in the trash.

Thursday saw us back at the Mandarin for dinner with the Donnellys.  We hadn't been there for a while.  It was all decorated for spring.   The food is still amazing with my favorite dessert still their chocolate covered strawberries.

 Sunday was a beautiful day, so we took a walk around the lake.  The flora and fauna in Ontario is so beautiful and lush.  We love all the woodlands and natural areas that are in all the cities and towns.  Geese are everywhere and are not afraid of people.

Mike and Karen Finnegan

This past Monday was our last night at the Finnegan's Empty Nester Family Home Evening potluck dinner.  We have met some wonderful people there and had many enjoyable times.  We sang our two going home songs for this group as well.  Bishop and Sister Finnegan are amazing people and wonderful hosts.  We will miss them and all of those in this group.

Elders McLeod and Hanks

Wednesday, we had the Elders from our ward, Heart Lake Ward, for dinner.  Elder Hanks and Elder McLeod are amazing young men.  Elder Hanks goes home next week as his mission will be over then.  Elder McLeod is from Calgary and knows some people that we know.

Friday we drove to London to visit with my second cousin, Lynda and her husband Don.  I hadn't seen her since I was five years old.  As we pulled up to their lovely home, I thought we are the poor country bumpkin cousins.  They have a lovely home, with beautiful gardens all around it.  It backs on to a meadow and woodlands, valley and a creek.  We stayed till Saturday.  Lynda and I shared some genealogy information and photos.  We had some good gospel discussions with Lynda and shared some of our beliefs with her.  We had a great time.  We thoroughly enjoyed their sun room off of the kitchen.  It is open on one side.  We loved watching the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and even a deer.  We had an amazing time with Lynda and Don.

Lynda & Don Hamilton

Elders Lokatama and Wolford

Saturday, we had a baptism of a new convert, Ming Zhang.  She is Chinese.  Sunday during our church meeting was her confirmation.  One of our ward members, Brother Shultzke speaks Chinese.  He confirmed her in Chinese.  Elder Lokatama taught her the discussions.  He is from Indonesia.
Father's Day was the hottest day that we have had so far since we have been here.  The temperature was 34C and the humidex in the low 40s.  All of our children called to talk to Elder Swendsen, which was so enjoyed.  
 We saw lots of antics of the grandchildren.  Stick an i-Pad in their face and they start to do silly things.  After dinner, we went for a walk at Chinguacousy Park.  We walked for about 2 kilometers.  Not smart on a hot day.  On one of the walking paths, the have exercise stations all along the way.  We stopped and tried a few and decided they were for the younger crowd.  When we got to the wading pool, we took off our shoes and waded to the other end to cool off a bit.  All in all, it was a lovely day.

This next week is transfers and will be really busy.  We will also start training our replacements.  Our time here in the CTM (Canada Toronto Mission) is winding down.  We are going to miss the people and the work here.  We are looking forward to our trip home through Church History sites.  We are especially looking forward to getting home and seeing our wonderful family who have all been very supportive of us serving a mission.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

On the Go in Ontario

We have been so busy the last few weeks, we often have naps when we get home and then dinner later in the evening.  Friday, May 18th, we had a surprise birthday dinner at Vesuvios for Elder Donnelly, our medical advisor.  He was turning 70! We had a great time with lots of fun and laughter.  He got a free birthday dessert with our half of the restaurant all singing happy birthday to him.  There was a live guitar player there and so we even had musical accompaniment.  After dinner, we went for a lovely stroll through Gage Park which is just across the street from the restaurant.

On Saturday, Elder Swendsen and I went on a nature walk around the lake by our apartment.  They finished the construction at the south end and now there is a nice play area and picnic area.  So many beautiful trees in the area are in bloom.

On Sunday, Elder Swendsen gave a very good talk in Sacrament Meeting on the Restoration of the Priesthood.  I taught the Relief Society lesson that day on Temple and Family History work.

Monday, May 21st, was our monthly Silver Maple Family Home Evening.  We met at Elder and Sister Donnelly's apartment.  We all were invited to tell a story about one of our ancestors.  It was interesting and a lot of fun.  Treats were yummy.

May 23-25 was Zone Conference time.  It comes around so fast, it seems, every 6 weeks.  Wednesday we were in Oshawa, Thursday - Burlington, and Friday - Barrie.  We love Zone Conferences.  We get to see all the missionaries and feel of their great spirits.  Car inspections went well and most cars were fairly clean.  I also have now learned how to change the air filters in Toyota Rav 4s.  Elder Swendsen reminded the missionaries about getting their K reports (car reports) in the FIRST of the month.  He also reminded them that their kilometer allotment for the month is not a suggestion, but a mission rule.  Many of the missionaries are really trying to keep their kilometers down.  We  have had some great response.  Here are two postings by two different companionships:

So I got raked by the spirit during Elder Swendsen's instruction about k's, for not being as diligent as I could have been in the past with my kilometers. I always justified not walking places or driving more because I could do for effective things with my time if I drove to place with more people, but the K Limit is something we have been asked to do and is a mission rule. (1 Nephi 3:7) The Spirit told me I haven't been trusting The Lord with that one. Alas, I felt horrible and  needless to say I am currently in the process of repenting and on the next day after Zone Conference me and Elder Moulin decided we would walk to some of our appointments and like 3 minutes into our first walk, we walked up to a community garden and met a Former that hadn't been contacted for a year or so and she said we could come by again and teach her 9 year old son, and we met another lady that said she would like to meet up as well because of all the crazy things going on in life. It was a very humbling experience for me because we would have never had talked to either of them had we driven to the appointment. It was amazing to see The Lord truly does provide a way for his servents to accomplish his work and was a testimony builder for me. Thank you Elder Mike Swendsen
From Elder Talbot

Ok. So here's the deal. We are over our k's. So we had the choice to give up and just drive or try to save what we could our last few days. So we decided to walk an hour and a half to our dinner appointment. And lemme tell you MIRACLES ARE SO REAL. We are walking back along a main road, and we start talking to this family. They are super interested and as we start to walk away she runs after us and asks for another card so she can bring her friend to church. Miracle number one. Well little did we know this man and his wife who were pushing their little baby in a stroller on the OTHER side of the street had been watching us. They called after us from across the road and asked us to meet them at the next light. They asked if we were sharing the bible and we taught them all about the Book of Mormon and they are coming to church on Sunday!! Car fasts are real. Thank you Elder Mike Swendsen

From Sisters Fitzgerald and Shields

Early - parking lot is empty

Cars all lined up

checking the oil
  After Thursday's Zone Conference in Burlington, we went to the local Royal Botanical Gardens with Elder and Sister Donnelly.  The gardens are spread over a large area, so you drive a couple of minutes to each one and then get out and walk.  They were gorgeous.  Tulips were still in bloom and the lilac area was spectacular.  We didn't know that there were so many varieties of lilacs.  Watch out for turtles - crossing warning.  There was also a magnolia tree in bloom.  We then drove down Lakeshore Road, by Lake Ontario and stopped to take a look.

Saturday, May 26th, we went to the African Lion Safari out near Hamilton, with the Donnellys.  This is a great place for families.  We first drove through the animal preserve - took well over an hour.  So many animals to see, some up close and personal.  There were large flocks of Canada Geese everywhere.  We had a bison walk right past our car.  An ostrich tried to eat the side mirror on the car.  It also kept hitting the side windows with its beak - trying to get it.  There were other animals to walk around and see.  We got to watch the elephants play and swim in the lake.  There are the usual eating places and souvenir shops.  There is a huge water play area for kids.  We were so hot, we wanted to just walk through to get a little wet and cool off.

This past week in the Mission Office, we have been busy, as usual.  Wednesday was Mission Leadership Council (MLC).  The three office couples were at the Mission Office at 7 AM to make breakfast for the leadership of the mission.  There were about 36 young missionaries to feed - waffles, fruit, yogurt and juice.  Again, we just love being with these wonderful missionaries.  They are indeed - "Astonishing!"

Friday and Saturday (June 1st & 2nd), we had a Senior Missionary Conference.  We have such a great time when we get together.  Friday afternoon, most of the couples attended the 1:30 session at the Toronto Temple.  We later met at the Mission Home for appetizers and dinner.  We had a barbecue with lots of good food.  We had a program after dinner.  First up I talked about my pioneer ancestors, Samuel Wilcox and Martha Bolton, who joined the Church in 1839 in eastern Ontario and later went to Nauvoo, Illinois and then on the Utah.  After that, Elder Swendsen and I sang two songs while he played the guitar.  We had written four new verses to "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" - the seniors version and then also a take off on Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound".  We only have 6 weeks and we will be Alberta bound.  Next, Sister Morse told about one of her ancestors and sang a song that she wrote about her.  Our last activity was led by Sister Shields.  Everyone had to write down, on a card, something that no-one would know about them.  As each one was read out, we had to guess who it was.  Once you were discovered, you had to tell the story about the incident.  We laughed and laughed - what a motley group when we were young; and now we are all missionaries.
Here are the lyrics to the songs we sang:


We hoped they’d call us on a mission,
Though we’re no longer in our youth.
We hope that we’ll be truly ready
To work and serve the Lord like missionaries do.

Well we’re glad they called us on a mission.
We’re here serving with a smile.
We serve the Lord with dedication
And get up evr’y day, and make our time worthwhile.

We’re glad we went and served a mission.
We’re pleased we went to serve the Lord.
We loved being senior missionaries.
We showed the Lord we know the value of His word.

We hope they’ll call us on a mission,
Though we’re no longer in our youth.
We hope that we’ll be truly ready
To work and serve the Lord like missionaries do.

Alberta Bound,   
with apologies to Gordon Lightfoot

Oh, the Prairie Lights are burning bright
Chinook winds are movin’ in
Someday soon we’ll be Alberta bound.
We've always done the best we could
To serve the Lord where e’r we stood,
And someday soon we’ll be Alberta bound.
No one we met could e’r forget
A Rocky Mountain Sunset.
It’s a pleasure just to be Alberta Bound.
We long to see our next of kin,
To know what kind of shape they’re in,
Someday soon we’ll be Alberta Bound.

Alberta bound, Alberta bound,
It’s good to be Alberta bound.
Alberta bound, Alberta bound,
it’s good to be Alberta bound.

Oh, the skyline of Toronto
Is something you get onto,
but they say you got to live here for awhile.
You can go and serve a mission
With all of your ambition,
Then tread the Saviour’s footsteps for a mile.
The new folks that are comin’ in
Will be so blessed, they way we’ve bin’.
The blessings, they just keep goin’ round.
It’s homeward bound that we will go.
You gotta know we’ll miss you so,
It’s now’s our time to be Alberta bound.

Alberta bound, Alberta bound,
It’s good to be Alberta bound.
Alberta bound, Alberta bound,
it’s good to be Alberta bound.

Saturday morning started with a presentation by one of our guests, Carma Prete.  She and her husband, Roy, have written an extensive book about Canadian Mormons.  She talked about the early days of the Church in Ontario.  It was very interesting.  Elder and Sister Rozier followed with teaching us how to minister in the far corners of our mission and our assignments.  Elder and Sister Knight then shared some of the experiences that they have had serving in the Bishop's Storehouse.  President and Sister Shields ended the morning with some great thoughts and love.  Following a great lunch, we headed out for our afternoon activity.  We went to PAMA - Peel Area Museum and Archives. We all spent a couple of hours in their art gallery and the museum.  It was very interesting.  The week is over and we are tired but so very happy.

We are so grateful to be serving a mission.  We are grateful for our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  The Plan of Salvation is the great Plan of Happiness.  Our Father in Heaven hears and answers our prayers.