Sunday, March 26, 2017

A busy and exciting week.  We had the start of our first set of Zone Conferences since we came.  We had one in Oakville on Wednesday and one in Toronto on Friday.  When the missionaries arrive at the chapel, they pop the hoods of their cars and leave the keys on the seat.  They go into the chapel to start their training for the day.  Then our work begins.  Elder Swendsen checks the outside of each vehicle for damage.  He checks fluid levels and tops up those that need to be topped up.  Mostly oil and windshield washer fluid.  We went through 8 gallons of washer fluid both days.  He has bought 16 gallons of washer fluid for the next two conferences next week.  I check the inside of the vehicle for cleanliness and make sure they have all the necessary documents and other things in their glove boxes.  Then we check the head lights, brake lights and signal lights.  We have about 20 or so cars to do each conference and it takes a good two hours.  Wednesday in Oakville, it was very windy, damp and cold.  I have never been so cold in my life.  I will take -35 and blowing snow in Calgary any day.  After we inspect the cars, we choose 2 or 3 of the cleanest and they get a small prize.  This time it is Kinder eggs and chocolate eggs.  The Dollar Store is great to find little fun things.  Once we have finished the inspections, we go in and listen to the training.  We have the last half hour before lunch to do our training.  I talk about what we found in the inspections and award the prizes.  Elder Swendsen then talks to them about safety when driving.  He shows them a short video.  Then he introduced the new Mission Safety Acronym - PRAY!  P is for Pray.  R is for plan your Route.  A is for Attitude - be in a good frame of mind before driving, if not go back to R and Repent.  Once P, R and A are in a good place, then Y - Yes you can drive.
The assignment for a set of Elders was to teach for 15 minutes on Obedience and a set of Sisters to teach for 15 minutes on Diligence.  We have listened to this in two conferences with two more next week.  The young missionaries are awesome in the way that they teach each other.  It was interesting to see the different things that were mentioned on each day.  These young missionaries are inspiring.  It is awesome to watch them in action.
After our presentation is a break for lunch.  The Relief Society sisters in the area prepare a lunch for us.  Oakville it was chili on top of baked potatoes, salad and then brownies and fruit for dessert.  Toronto, the Bayview Relief Society did home made Chinese food.  It was fantastic.  They went to a lot of work.  We had special fried rice, noodles, chicken drumsticks, spring rolls, veggies and oranges and egg tarts for dessert.  Egg tarts are phenomenal.  They are also a lot of work to prepare.  Here is a link for a recipe:
We are keeping very busy and loving what we are doing.  We are so grateful that the Lord sent us to the Canada Toronto Mission.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What an amazing week.  We have now experienced our first transfer week.  Monday, we had twelve new missionaries arrive from the MTC in Provo, Utah.  Their plane landed an hour late due to bad weather in Detroit.  They were taken to the mission home for dinner with President and Sister Shields.  They had some paperwork to do and have an interview with the President.  We were called just after 8 PM to go to the mission home and meet them and pick up their paperwork and documents.  Then we headed to the mission office to sort it all out.  We had to check that all the paperwork was filled out and signed - some was not.  Then we had to photocopy their driver's licenses, Visas and passports.  Their licenses, copies of their passports and visas and unfinished paperwork went back in their envelopes to be given to them the next morning.  We got home at 10:45 PM (way past my bedtime).  Tuesday, we had to be at the Brampton Stake Centre for orientation at 7:30 AM.  Each of the mission couples had to do some of the orientation as to what we do in the office and how we can help the missionaries.  We were back to the mission office by 9:45 AM.  Mike had to be back at the stake centre by 11:30 to take pictures of the new missionaries - singles, with their companions, with the Shields, and the group.  Late morning lots of other missionaries who were in to be transferred started arriving at the mission office to get supplies, ask questions, and just share their excitement and enthusiasm.  The office finally quieted down just after 3:45 PM.  What a day, what a glorious day.  We went home very tired, exhausted, but feeling so good.  Wednesday some missionaries went home after finishing a great mission.  They will be missed.  Lots of paperwork and reports to be completed and printed on Wednesday.  Thursday slowed down a bit but still trying to get get caught up.  When we went to leave, I said to one of the other couples "See you on Monday!"  Sister Wolfley said "WHAT???  Aren't you going to be here tomorrow??  I was so tired, I thought is was Friday already.
We met with our Bishop on Thursday evening.  He wants us to work with some of the youth and some less active Young Single Adults (YSA) and maybe get them interested in Family History and Indexing.  The stake also wants us to serve in the Family History Centre.
It has been a long tiring week, but we have enjoyed every minute of it.  These young missionaries are awesome.  We are loving our mission and the opportunity that we have to serve the Lord.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mission life is so busy and so much fun.  Last night (early), five senior couples went to dinner at the Keg to celebrate a birthday of one of the Elders.  Then for some of us, it was off to Stake Conference, evening session.  The talks were amazing.  "The main thing is to make sure that we keep the main thing, the main thing." was the message from the Temple matron.  We are living in a very culturally diversified ward and stake.  There were translators for Spanish speaking members.  Headsets were passed out to those who needed them.  A couple of announcements were made in Spanish.  One prayer today was given in Spanish.  We do have a large Spanish population - 2 1/2 wards in our stake.  I don't know where the 1/2 ward goes.  We also have many orientals, south seas (Polynesian), middle eastern and Africans.  The gospel is for everyone and it is amazing to see the love in this stake.  As the names of stake leaders were read for our sustaining vote, very few were Caucasian names.  We have missionaries in our mission who are assigned to speak:  Spanish, Portuguese, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Farsi.  We have 21 missionaries serving from this stake and 17 service missionaries in this stake.
Yesterday was the mission's monthly proxy baptisms at the temple.  The missionaries encourage their new converts and recently reactivated members to find a family name and take it to the temple and to do the baptism.  They like to have them go within a month or so after their baptism.  They had seventeen people there.  The work is moving forward as our missionaries keep the faith and obey mission rules.
Tomorrow is the start of our first experience with transfers.  New missionaries arrive tomorrow from the MTC in Provo.  Transfers happen on Tuesday and then on Wednesday, some missionaries will be going home after serving a valiant mission.  It is going to be an exciting and super busy three days.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mission life is going great.  The pictures above are of the Toronto Temple and the Brampton Stake Centre.  We attend the Heart Lake Ward in this stake centre.  It is right beside the temple.  We have now been serving in the mission office for one month.  Elder Swendsen and I have learned a lot and are still learning.  We work with two super couples in the office, Elder and Sister Cannon and Elder and Sister Wolfley.  It is so nice to work with such humble people and the atmosphere in the office is so loving and peaceful.  It does get a bit rowdy/full of excitement when the young missionaries come to the office.  This past Wednesday we had MLC at the office.  This is Missionary Leadership Conference.  All the zone leaders, the APs and the sister trainers come for the day.  There was about 30 of them.  We started at 7 AM by making them waffles for breakfast.  There was also fruit and yogurt for them.  Our stake Relief Society president then made lunch for all of us.  She does this every month for this meeting.  The missionaries have training all day with President and Sister Shields.  Afterwards the zone leaders pick up supplies, and mail for their zone and they head home.
Elder Swendsen has been diligently trying to get more of the missionaries certified so that they can drive a car if needed.  He is also trying to update records on all the cars on when they last had their oil changed and their tires rotated.  He also has to rotate cars out of service and sell them or send them to an auction.  He is also trying to sort out which car has which TIWI.  A TIWI is a device that tracks how the missionary is driving - speeding, aggressive driving, etc.
Sister Swendsen has been hard at work getting all the tasks required for arrivals and departures of missionaries sorted out on the computer and in her head.  We have date sensitive things to do for each arrival and departure.  Arrivals/Transfers/Departures happen over a three day period (Monday to Wednesday) every six weeks.  Because of all the time sensitive things to do, I have to work on at least four to five transfer periods at all times.  My head is swimming.  I have put together a spread sheet with all the dates for each transfer time together, so I am not going through all my individual spread sheets.  I almost have it finished.
We are so loving our work and all those that we work with.
I have talked to my second cousin, Judie, who lives in Smiths Falls a couple of times and we chat on Facebook all the time.  We are looking forward to getting together a few times while we are here.
Three weeks ago, we went to West Hill, where I grew up, and had a wonderful visit and lunch with my god-father.
A week ago, Friday, we found a new place to eat called The Mandarin.  It is a Chinese food buffet.  It is a huge place.  The food was amazing, right down to the chocolate covered strawberries for dessert.
The weather here changes a lot, but not as much as in Calgary.  We had pouring rain a few days ago and then a small skiff of snow yesterday morning.  It has been very windy and the wind is cold.  We do enjoy the blue skies and sunshine which we have this morning.  Spring is coming.