Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas in the Mission Field is Awesome

Christmas this year was awesome.  We had a beautiful Christmas program at Church.  It was combined with the other two wards in our building:  Brampton Ward and Chinguacousy Park (Spanish) Ward.  We had several short readings and lots of music.  English and Spanish - it was inspiring.  Elder Swendsen sang a duet with Sister Goobie (wife of our former Stake President)  They sang Silent Night and Elder Swendsen played his guitar.  That evening, we went over to the mission home and had a light dinner with President and Sister Shields and most of the missionaries from the Brampton Zone.  It was a great evening.  We all shared Christmas traditions from home.  We then sang some Christmas carols and enjoyed the spirit of Christmas.

It was really snowing as we left to go home.  We drove by Gage Park to see the lights again.  Once we got home, we were able to chat/Facetime with all of our kids and grand-kids.  It was so good to hear from all of them.

Christmas morning was fun with Elder Burton and Elder Ernest (Bert & Ernie).  We had them over for breakfast (honey fried ham, fried eggs, and hash-browns).  We had a good time with them.  We have such great elders serving in Heart Lake Ward.  We also completed the puzzle that Adam, Pam and the kids sent us.  Great pictures of the kids.

We left about 11:30 to drive to Oshawa to have Christmas dinner with The Salway cousins and their families.  All five of Uncle Monte's children were there with most of their kids and grand kids.  We met Craig, the cousin we didn't meet earlier this year.  There was about 30 or so people there.  It was a lot of fun.  We had a great visit and got to know more of the family.  Dinner was fabulous.  Shirley's daughter, Meagan did the whole dinner.  We took lots of pictures.  We had a group photo taken before every one started leaving, but I don't have a copy of it yet.  They have a family tradition that Uncle Monte used to do and now Janice does it.  It is called Salway Christmas Pie.  The tag with your name on it is attached to a small gift.  There is also a poem on the tag.  You have to read the poem and then try to guess what your gift is.  It was a ton of fun.

 Boxing Day we had a pot luck dinner at the Mission Home for all the senior missionaries.  Most were able to come.

This past week we were only in the Mission office for three days.  Most of the time was spent getting ready for transfers next week.  We get six new missionaries on Monday, Jan 1st and 14 are leaving on Wednesday, Jan 3rd.  One of our APs, Elder McBride is going home.  Our new AP is Elder Ballard.  He is going to be great.  Elder McBride is on the right, Elder McBeth in the middle, and Elder Ballard on the left.

Elder Swendsen and I have been sick since Wednesday.  We have stayed home Saturday and Sunday in hopes that we will be well enough for this very busy week.  We have colds and just feeling totally BLAH!!

We love our mission and serving the Lord here in the Canada Toronto Mission.  It has be great to remember his birth and the wondrous things that Jesus Christ has done for each one of us.  We are indeed grateful.  We love you all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

December and the Christmas spirit are filling our lives.

December started off with a senior's dinner put on by Ed and Sheila Ludlow.  They have been doing monthly dinners for the seniors for 27 years now.  They are an awesome couple.  They did a turkey dinner and had some great Christmas word games for us to play.  Sister Shields (President's wife) gave us a Christmas message.

We had a great ward Christmas party.  Almost half of the people there were friends of ward members.  They loved our party.  We started with a spiritual portion in the chapel and then went to the cultural hall for dinner.

Santa was vaguely familiar.  I think he was Jack Sparrow (see posting on our July picnic) in his December costume.

The second Monday was a FHE at the Finnigans for several seniors - missionaries, ward members and some of their neighbors.  We had a great pot luck and had a lot of fun playing a game with our white elephant gifts.  We ended the evening with some carolling.

  December had been a month of lots of partying.  We are doing a lot of work as well.

This past week, we had Zone Conference again.  We went to Oshawa, Barrie and Oakville.  Also on Monday, we had one missionary (Sister Choi from Calgary)leave for another mission in New York, one elder arrive from the MTC and two missionaries arrive from the Philippines.  Tuesday we had three missionaries go home.  We have been receiving Christmas packages for the missionaries since late October.  We got a lot of them delivered the first of the month at MLC - Mission Leadership Council.  The rest we  got out on the three days of Zone Conference.  I think we have had over 700 packages come for our wonderful missionaries.  A sad thing for this time of the year is that there are about 25 missionaries from poor homes who do not get any packages from home.  There were two Moms of two of our elders who got together, via e-mail, and ordered things to be sent to the mission office so we could put packages together for these elders and sisters.  A couple of other parents sent us some money to buy things for those who needed something.  Sister Anderson and Sister Donnelly put all their packages together.  The office sisters (3 of us) baked 96 muffins or cupcakes each as Sister Shields was putting together small bags for all 204  missionaries.

Zone Conference was the close of a chapter for one of our APs, Elder McBride.  He goes home on January 3rd.  The APs always do some teaching at Zone Conference.  Elder McBride was the "Ghost of Transfers Past".  It was hilarious but also a great teaching tool.  He and his companion taught the missionaries to "remember", remember successes from transfers past to help them to improve their current transfer.  Yes he is wearing a turban.

They also taught us to listen to the spirit.  Each day, they had a missionary bear their testimony in their native language (Mandarin, Haitian Creole, and Japanese).  It was amazing.  The first day, when Elder Lokatama (from Indonesia) bore his testimony in Mandarin, I didn't have a clue what he was saying.  I was in tears for the whole thing.  I did indeed feel of his spirit.  I learned later that he did not end in the name of Jesus Christ.  He ended with "I know, I KNOW!"  It was so powerful.

It is such a privilege to work with these wonderful young missionaries.  They are the future leaders of the Church.  We have an amazing group of future leaders here in the Canada Toronto Mission.  They are great examples to us.  We love them.  We love the gospel.  We love serving the Lord!

November whizzed on by so fast

We passed the half way point of our mission - October 16, 2017.  The time is passing so quickly.  Our two new office couples are settling in quite nicely and things in the mission office are moving along.

Elder Donnelly (on the left) is the mission medical adviser and his wife is his assistant.  Elder Anderson (middle) is in charge of finances, apartments and phones.  Sister Anderson in responsible for referrals, baptisms and supplies.  Then there is us (vehicles and secretary).  We are so blessed to work with these super senior missionaries.  We have quickly become good friends.

November 6th and 7th was our Mission Tour/Zone Conference with our area representative, Elder Pearson.  It was a great two days.  Elder Pearson was a super motivational speaker.  He spent a lot of his time boosting the morale of the missionaries, letting them know that they CAN do this work.  His questions to them were:
What do I need to let go of
What do I need to change

What do I need to do

On Monday, November 6th, we had a musical number by the North York Zone.  They sang "I am a Child of God."  It was amazing.  There are 20 missionaries in that zone.  They all sang the first verse in English.  Then the first verse was sang in the languages that those missionaries are preaching in - Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Farsi.  They sang the last verse in English.  It was so beautiful.

During the morning of Zone Conferences, Elder Swendsen and I have to inspect the cars.  On Monday, by 9:15 AM I had checked the oil of over 25 cars and changed the air filters in 12 Nissan Rogues.  The tasks of the Mission Secretary keep expanding.

The third week of November was transfers and we had good missionaries go home and good missionaries arrive.  I love transfer week.  It is exciting in the mission.

The fourth Thursday of the month is our ward baptismal temple night.  We had worked with a couple in our ward, to help them get some family names to take to the temple.  They still have a problem with coffee, but the bishop thought that a one time use recommend to do baptisms might give them the incentive to prepare to get a full time recommend.  It was an amazing night at the temple with them.  They were so excited and they definitely felt the spirit.  We have gotten hugs from them every time we see them since that night.  I hope they can go to the temple soon for their own endowments and get sealed.

The last Saturday of November, the senior missionaries met at the Mission Home for a Thanksgiving Party.  We had a great turkey dinner and a good time was had by all.

Serving a mission is one of the greatest thing seniors can do.  We are so loving serving here in Ontario.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

October moving into November

We have sure enjoyed the fall weather here in Brampton.  Flowers blooming well into November and grass still green in December.  No shoveling here, yet...
We have been working hard at the mission office - never a dull moment.  We so love the young missionaries.  They are awesome.  We are also keeping busy in our ward, the Heart Lake Ward.  Elder Swendsen is the High Priest Group Leader and is enjoying that.  We are still helping ward members with their Family History during Sunday School time each week.  We are getting members more enthused about searching for their ancestors.
Here are some of the flowers outside of our apartment building.

November 1st we took our new office staff to the Mandarin for dinner.  We had an enjoyable time at this wonderful Chinese buffet.  The food is awesome. 
Our two new office couples are getting settled as they are learning their new responsibilities in the office.

Again still beautiful flowers in November.
We are loving serving our Heavenly Father as missionaries in the Canada Toronto Mission.

Estate Grounds, Cars and Meeting Salway Cousins

Saturday, October 28, 2017, we did a day excursion and went to Oshawa, Ontario.  It was a beautiful drive as we could enjoy the beginning of fall colors.  We did have a lot of rain that day, but we still enjoyed the trip.  Our first stop was Parkwood Estate.  This was the home of Sam McLaughlin, the car magnate.  Here is a link, if you would like to learn more about it.
The grounds are very extensive.  We strolled through some of the gardens even though it was raining.  The lawns were still very green (some were being mowed that day).  Most of the gardens had been prepared for winter, but the rose garden still had beautiful roses blooming.  The fountains had been drained for winter as well.  We did not tour the house as did not have a lot of time.  We are planning to go back in the late spring to see the gardens in full bloom.

We then went to the CanadianAutomotive Museum in Oshawa - there were over 100 cars there - most made in Canada - some even by the McLaughlin Car Company.
It was amazing.

We then met up with some of Mike's cousins from the Salway Family - Uncle Monte's clan - Shirley, Karen, Janice, and David, and David's Wife.  We had a great visit and a wonderful dinner in a quaint pub in Oshawa.

It was a great day.  We will be meeting with these cousins again for Christmas dinner.  It was fun to learn a little more about Uncle Monte (the magician).