Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moving day

So pretty much all of Canada shut down yesterday...including all libraries and school campuses, meaning no email for me! So today I am in a library in a sketchy part of town in Saskatoon. Nothing to really worry about, it’s just weird is all. But, me being in a library means less time on a computer. Sorry there.

Marge's confirmation went really well. She has really warmed up to the Church, it's amazing. Member-fellowshipping goes a long ways! Marge has really bonded well with a member, and that helps retention. Anyway, the confirmation. I was pretty nervous as the time kept getting closer and closer. Confirmation is a big thing! So right before I got up to confirm her, I checked the White Handbook, and was good to go. I know the ordinance is not for me, but is for her, so that helped ease some of the nerves. Everything went well, and I did everything right the first time. What I found interesting is what was (not) in my mind during the ordinance. Normally, my mind is continually jumping from one thing to another, worrying about this and that, but during any blessing or ordinance my mind literally clears. Giving the ordinance, my mind was completely blank: I could only hear the words I was saying. I was focusing SO hard on what was in my mind. I would have a few distant impressions surface, but because they were the only things in my mind, I would say them. I remember that a few things seemed to apply to Marge, but that is for her and the Lord to decide. Marge is so great, I am seeing her today and then leaving!

Yup, I found out that I am leaving today instead of Wednesday, and should arrive in the US Wednesday night. Oh man, here we go!

I wanted to thank Natalie, Tasha, Auntie Sharon, Mike and Kelly, and my Mom and Dad for their letters! I received some just before Christmas and those were Christmas letters themselves!

On Sunday I street-contacted a guy that only spoke Spanish, so I got to dust off my old Spanish skills. It was really fun! Elder McDowell will be proud of me. Sure tough though. I am surprised by how much I remembered, but with the Spirit, I guess I can remember anything really. He understood (well, I think he did) who we are, what we were doing, we gave him un Libro de Mormon, and got his address, but he didn't have a phone number. Ga. So I understood him, and I think he sort of understood me. Good.

Packing on a mission is a pain for sure. I had to sit on my bags to close the zippers! I know my Dad is saying "that's bad for the zippers". I know, and am sending you things that I could not fit and do not need. So much stuff! My 2 Qurans and 3 other Baha'i books fit, but my 5 inch Muslim philosophy book didn't. Sad day. Yup, measure it, 5 inches thick.

I will be sure to read D&C 6, but I challenge you all to reread my "mission scripture" this week and ponder what it means to you. With me leaving Saskatoon, a lot of members are asking me what my favorite scripture is, and I tell them Ether 12:4, and have had the chance to reread it and reapply it to myself. The Savior is the ultimate source of hope. He performed a perfect, and infinite, Atonement to save us from the effects of sin if we are willing to accept Him and follow His commandments, which are only meant for our own good. Reading the Bible and Book of Mormon, I am finding more sources describing "faith without works is dead". It is! Faith is not faith if we are not willing to follow the Savior and do His will. What does it profit us if we cannot take 3 hours of our schedule all week to attend church? NOTHING. Back to the scripture: the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been a tremendous anchor in my life to me, and it is that constant hope, as Ether 12:4 describes. The entire scripture is so packed with doctrine and "good stuff". I know I would be drastically different if it were not for the Gospel, the least I can do for Christ's eternal Atonement is to serve for 2 years and proclaim what He has done for us, and what he still does do for us each individually.

Well, I am out of time already. I really enjoyed talking to my family. That time definitely was not enough. I laughed when you said I sounded older. Ha, its just because I was not throwing down the slang, kind of thing like I did back home. I still know how to have fun, how to enjoy myself. It will certainly be different being in an outlying town because I will not have P-Day activity to go to. Oh man! I will find something to do.

I will keep you up to date with how my back is doing, and I will send Michael some of the pictures of my lower legs to show him the bending that is occurring. The bending is supposedly causing me all the problems. I have a few exercises to do, so I am hopeful, nothing to worry about just as of yet.


Elder Galbraith

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be careful . . .

what you ask for, because you may get it. Long-time readers will remember that Elder Galbraith expressed a wish to experience cold weather. When he was growing up, he would look in the newspaper to see the high and low temperatures in the lower 48 state. International Falls, MN was often listed as the coldest. Read on . . .

Wow. This week has been a whirlwind of....EVERYTHING. Gee!

Last Monday night, I called my investigator Margaret Harder (the 86 year-old) to confirm an appointment and she said she had big news....and wanted to be baptized!!! Not just that, but she asked me to baptize and confirm her! Oh...this is insane, in a good way! The next part, is that the baptism is happening..... tomorrow. Yup, Tuesday the 21st of December, that soon. This is crazy: I am baptizing someone tomorrow. Me, in the font! You can probably tell that I am in shock. Just to jog your memory, Marge has come such a long way in 3 months. Such a long way! We found her by trying to stop by a former and she walked up and asked if we wanted to come by. Of course we said yes and she began by saying "I am Anglican and will not change." She first denounced the Book of Mormon, and after a few appointments she was so frustrated about us describing the Book of Mormon that she snatched Elder Butterfield's Book of Mormon out of his hand and looked at us and flipped open to a random page and started reading. She gave an acknowledging nod, and closed the Book, and opened it again, and did this a few times, each time she looked impressed. She then closed the Book of Mormon and gingerly handed it back to Elder Butterfield and said "yup, I'll read it." Boom! The power of the Book of Mormon! Once someone earnestly searches its pages, they see that it testifies of Christ, and that it goes hand in hand with the Bible. The problem is that so many people do not even give it a chance, and "discredit" it, just by false things they have heard. Back to Marge---she has since then read to Alma 5, which is the exact halfway point. She has seen that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ, and that it is proof of the Restoration of vital truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God's Plan for us, and the Priesthood authority that is necessary in the Church of Christ. Now, with all that said, and so much more growth that I and others have seen, she is now getting baptized, and I have the privilege to perform the sacred ordinance. A quote from Marge that really illustrates who she is is: "If you can't learn something every day then you might as well dig your hole and fall in". Well put Marge, very blunt. I like it.

Ok...take a breath....ok, I got a little excited there. Yes, I got my transfer call, and President told me that he called you before he called me! What the...?! That takes all the fun out of it. Yup, I am out of Saskatoon. Out of Canada even! I am going to International Falls, Minnesota. Another state down. Another province down. Ironic that you told me last week that I-Falls was the coldest place in the contiguous U.S. Hmmm...oh boy. I am really sad to leave Saskatoon, the members are great, I will miss Marge, I will miss P-Day activity (only me and my companion for a few hundred miles), but I know this is where I need to be going. So all is well, and I met my soon-to-be companion in Winnipeg when I was there. His name....drum roll...is Elder....Morris. He is a really good guy, and a hard worker, which I really value. He is a singer, works hard, plays sports and played golf--which is big. I am really excited to serve with him. 4 companions in 4 transfers...hopefully people like me. Just kidding, sometimes it just works out that way.

So I also went to a 7th Day Adventist church on their sabbath...which is Saturday. The service was sure different, and they even had a baby blessing, which was more like a dedication and sermon on life. It was interesting. The sermon from the preacher was great: it was on families. He talked a lot about Mary and Joseph, but applied it to our own parents and parenting techniques. So I thank my own parents for not being what he called "Helicopter Parents", and swooping down to help me in every possible situation, and allowing me to grow through trials. Thanks for that Mom and Dad. I also thank you Mom and Dad for not being what he termed "Drill Sargents". Pretty self-explainitory (?). He advised us to be "Consultant Parents". Thanks Mom and Dad for your constant love, care and the upbringing you provided me with, and being those Consultant Parents. Though your care and love are manifest very differently, I appreciate them both.

Back to the 7th Day Adventists...we have one that is an investigator of ours, and she came to church with 2 of her friends...and the topic in 3rd hour was, of course, on the Sabbath Day. The irony! It took every ounce of effort I had to hold in my laughter because I was thinking "they finally came, and...you have got to be kidding me!" It was ridiculous. Another missionary made the comment, "well, other than the actual day, we pretty much believe the same thing, right?" Ha. Oh man, being a missionary you really hope that people explain things basically and really notice little quirks about church that I otherwise would not have noticed. An example is that we play an organ...some churches (not all obviously) play pianos during their main services. Things like that.

The Atonement analogy I mentioned about a month or 2 ago, if you remember, is found in Chapter 12 of the Gospel Principles manual under the "Atonement" chapter. So good! Read it if you have not.

About the phone call on Christmas. It was still happen of course, but my Christmas Day just literally filled up yesterday. Ridiculous! All the missionaries will open presents together at the church in the morning, and then a member invited us over for Breakfast at 10, we were invited to a Caran party at 11 (see how multi-cultural I am? Ha, seriously) and then invited to the Stake President's place for supper at 4, and his place is out of town and takes a while to get there. So the earliest you could call is at like 7 my time. So, 7 it is. Hopefully that works for you...? Because its that or later, and my companion needs to call after me. I hope that works! My number is 306-241-6439...don't abuse it! The plan would be for you to call me, because the mission does not have a long-distance plan, but I can receive long-distance calls. I will only have that number for another week or so. To answer your question, I do have a different number for each area I am in. Each area has its own phone.

Tell Callens I am still waiting for a letter from him, I have not forgotten. To his credit, a letter may be waiting for me in Winnipeg. Love you Callens, eager to hear from you. I give you a hard time because you are my FRIEND.

Reading my last email, does President call you and report to you how I am doing? Good thing I am being a good boy, worthy of Santa for sure! Just curious.

Good for BYU and Jake Heaps! Keep it up. The important thing is that they are good in 2 years, that's all. Speaking of BYU, to all my BYU friends: a member showed us a Divine Comedy skit about "Provo, Utah Girls" or something like that. Hilarious, sadly true to an extent, but hilarious. I loved seeing Divine Comedy when I was there and its good to see they are still doing well at what they do best. Yes, a member volutarily showed us.

Thanks for the Mariner's updates Dad. Now I just need to hear about the new Dodge Charger, its driving me insane. Dad, I need help there please. Anything else in the car world that is interesting? How is the Volt? Did it come out? AH!

Well, I am out of things to say, I sure love you all. Merry Christmas to my family. I am coming back to the States (Minnesota), so I am excited about cheaper mail. Watch out.

Love you,

Elder Galbraith

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec. 13

I enjoy the emails when you ask a lot! I will try to get to as much as I can...

I will try to answer your stuff first and then get to "my end of it":

So I get to call you on Christmas as you know, I believe it is whenever you are available. You will have to call me, just tell me when works for you in your next email...the morning sometime would probably be better for me. Do you have my number from the time I called you about Grandpa? (For those who don't know, I was given the OK to call home about my grandpa's passing, so I am not "piling-out", as we missionaries would say). Nope, I have Christmas supper to myself, but there is someone feeding us for Christmas-eve if that counts...No football. I am crushed. I want to play smear-the-queer or something at least, but I doubt that will happen. Too cold! Dodgeball is definitely my best hope. Dodgeball is by far the best indoor missionary sport. Hands down. We play it on lots of P-Days, so I have my fingers-crossed for Christmas too! So it is sure cold here. -22C yesterday, with -33 wind chill. Cold! Yes I was tracting in it. I have been doing a lot more of that the past few weeks, ~15 hours a week average. The weather is supposed to warm up this week getting up to +1! Today is -10, and I am not even wearing gloves, its not bad at all. Its a big jump down to -20. Sheesh. We plug in our truck every night. Weird. Suddenly, plug-in cars do not sound so far-fetched...wait, the Volt was supposed to arrive last month. Did it?! Its funny you jokingly asked about sticking my tongue to a pole...I have NOT done it yet, but have been tempted for sure. So Genny Allred is now Genny Mckay, married and active in my (I guess HER) ward with 2 young kids. Her husband is just about to begin medical rotations. Mikey is probably SO glad that is over.

I play the piano a little, mostly just during my district meetings on Tuesdays. No choir in my ward, but back in Winnipeg I participated in the ward choir and even sang a solo in Sacrament Meeting. In Winnipeg I also played the piano for Elder's Quorum, but I don't here because we just meet in the gym. So not much piano going on now...bummer. Congrats to Dad for singing it up lately! So transfers will be the 29th of this month, making this transfer a rare 7 week transfer, so the following will be 5 weeks, ending about the beginning of February. I doubt much will change in my district, but since there are 2 districts in the city, I do expect a lot of change in the city because the other district will have change. We will get a new Zone Leader and new District Leader in the other district. We still get our transfer calls the end of this week.
So that's that.

Thanks for the Mariners updates. There is still hope! I will come back right as they are doing well again.

Hey what is new on the auto-front?!

On to the rest of the good-stuff:

So the past weekend we locked our keys in our car. Elder Fackrell, myself and another Elder tried opening the door with a hangar and almost did it too! We pried the door open with our fingers just enough for the hangar to go through, but the hangar was not strong enough to press the button. Ga! It was SO close so many times. Once my fingers got pinched pretty well and my finger tips were numb for the rest of the week. But they are normal now, no worries. I have a picture of the whole thing, and I am sending pictures home with your letter today. I hope they make it by Christmas! Sorry!

Thanks for sending me all my buddies' emails! Oh, they were great. Lance's story about his companion saying he was single is a classic!

I have a few good stories this week too. About a week and a half ago, I was tracting and a lady opened the door and said "Missionaries? I am so glad to see you!" I was thinking "this is either really good or really bad..." She said "You know, I would love to meet with you sometime, and come to church, but I can't right now because I am drunk. But another time!" .......I don't think I said anything for a while..... I then asked her about coming to church the next Sunday and long story short is she could not come and just had surgery, so we are still working on getting over to teach her. She did call back when she was sober and said she wanted to attend church, so I think she does have some committment. Ok, the other story happened yesterday in the cold while tracting. We were knocking on doors and were having no success and a guy opened the door and said "Come on in". ---one of those things...really good or really bad---He graciously had us take off our coats and boots and we sat in his living room. He had the TV on and told us to sit down. Of course he had NFL on. Yes Dad, I did see that Seattle took a beating. He offered us eggs and toast and hashbrowns--a full meal! He gave me NICE gloves for the cold, and gave Elder Fackrell good shoes with special cold-weather stuff in them. Just gave them to us! We kept saying "No, you really don't have to, you REALLY don't have to..." But he insisted and...well I have new gloves and mitts! These gloves are a special something-or-another and are silver and shiney. My Michael Jackson gloves I call them. He also gave me wool mitts to wear with them, and they are WARM! The other gloves I have had just do not seem to work in the cold (so cold!) over a long period of time. These have so far. This man, named Bryan, and his wife Brenda, were so nice! Her mom was there and Bryan was teasing her the entire time, so funny! Anyway, he told us up-front that he is an atheist and that Brenda is a 7th Day Adventist, and did not want us coming back...so odd because he gave us all this stuff! I was laughing on the inside the entire time, especially because we had a supper appointment right after! Ha.

So I also had someone work on my back this past week. He is a reflexologist in the ward and enjoys treating missionaries. Mike, do you know much about reflexologists? My upper back has just been annoying lately, even to the point where I would just push my shoulder-blades all the way back and my back would go pop-pop-pop! So I had him look at it. I went to his place and my experience should have been in a movie. He had me go to this room in the basement--sketchy--and when I entered it, it just had this really faint light glowing and the room smelled of spices. I thought of 60s music. "What the...?" I barely made out the figure of an operating table---no, just kidding, there was a table in the middle of the room that I could barely make out, and all of it together was just so funny! I was so excited! He really worked on my back and I think it feels better. He had offered to work on me every-so-often, which I really think will help, because, as he described it, my back is hurting because my legs are so bowed-out, and he said he can work on that. Once again, fingers are crossed!

So after Sacrament Meeting I was asked to teach Gospel Principles. I said "yes" of course, because I love teaching and I am a missionary, and then I saw that the lesson was on the Gathering of Israel. What the...?! Gee, I needed help there. I did quite well actually, its just one of those lessons you cannot just whip-out from memory. It was all good though. My recently-baptized member, Linda, was there, along with Marge Harder, the 86 year-old investigator. She is doing so well! She had us over for supper this past week and signed up to feed us twice more the next few weeks. Oh, she is so fun to teach. Talk about a love for the people! Her and Edilyn from Winnipeg are those that I have connected with most. Linda is up there too, its just that I did not find her.

I have been forced to work on Christlike attributes the past few weeks, mainly patience and the gift of charity. I definitely sense a difference in my approach to every-day situations/challenge(r)s. Using some "advice" from my Patriarchal Blessing, I have really been able to notice a difference in my spiritual life.

Lots of people have told me I talk in "American Slang". Hmmm.

People are so stubborn. I talked with a few people this past week who talked of Christ and "believed in the Bible", but would not even consider praying about the Book of Mormon. So frustrating! Just pray about it! The only thing stopping them, us, or anyone is pride. Stupid pride. Get rid of it voluntarily or the Lord will force it out of you. Our choice. I can understand (to an extent), people being skeptical about The Book of Mormon, but I cannot understand people not even praying to know if it is true. Ga, the frustrations of missionary work.

Mom and Dad, please offer to help the local missionaries by offerring to go on appointments if you can. I promise it will be rewarding and interesting. Let me know how that goes.

So, reading Alma 34, it perfectly describes my testimony because I know the seed is good. I have such good feeling about the Gospel, and I know it is true. Reread Alma 34 and that is how I know everything is true. I read it was closed my Book of Mormon, and was like, yep, that's my testimony eh. No, I didn't really say that, but that is how I felt!

Mom, remember you gave me a card a number of years ago that had the 17 Points of the True Church? Well I got another one from Winnipeg, but I heard the talk that that man gives about the 17 Points. Once I heard the talk AND THEN looked at the 17 Points of the True Church, it shed a whole new light on them! Incredible! Here is a brief rundown, but you have to promise to look at it yourself too: A genius, Mr. Dunbar, heard Albert Einstein conclude a 3 hour long lecture by saying "the more I learn, the more I am led to believe that a Higher Being created us". Eh, something like that. Then, this Mr. Dunbar went through the entire Bible and wrote down 17 Points that the true church of Christ would HAVE to have. And you have to look up the rest.

And of course, I love you all so much.

Elder Galbraith

Monday, December 6, 2010

Now December

Another week in Saskatoon. It has not been too cold, relatively. I am always wearing my winter coat, but it is not too bad--for the most part. Today I woke up to -20C, but it has warmed up as the day has gone by. Yes, I am still teaching that 86 year old, Marge Harder, and she is doing well. She attended my ward's Fast and Testimony meeting and got a lot out of it. I even shared my testimony, and it is always a good feeling to do so. Marge came up to me afterward and told me that she almost went up, and therefore thinks that she may be close to joining, and reinforced the MAY. She is funny because she is so stubborn, and I think she knows the message is true, but wants to appear to put up a fight. But she is still as sharp as a tack, let me tell you. She teases me all the time, and speaks her mind...a lot. But that's ok, she is full of energy and is enjoyable to teach. She feels like God speaks to her by "kicking her rear end", and she told me that she is expecting that in order to know that the Church is true. I have told her that is not how it always works, and every time she says that my insides scream "NO! That is not how is always works. Sometimes, but usually not, ah!" Something like that. Anyway, she told me after church that she felt like she was close to getting kicked in the rear, and how that is a testament to her that the Church is true. See...any time people earnestly seek after truth, and appeal to God, and approach with an open mind and open heart, and intend to act upon how they feel, then will they know that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is His restored gospel, and therefore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church.

Anyway, that is a missionary rambling for you. Long story short, that 86 year old I am teaching is coming along.

I feel as though I am becoming a missionary. I cannot remember if I told you this before or not, but a week or 2 ago I dropped my scriptures in the snow. I brushed them off as best I could, but when some of the snow melted it did a little bit of water damage to the edges of the pages (nothing really bad, just that the silver on the edges of the pages is dulled and page-corners have crinkled some). Anyway, seeing my scriptures like that, no longer in pristine condition, felt like the end of the world. It felt like I had lost a long-time friend. I was so sad! I kind of moped for about an hour or so, and the scriptures are still fine and in pretty good shape--just not perfect. But, I thought that if I saw my scriptures as such a good friend, maybe I am becoming a missionary. Hmmm. I feel as though I am learning how to work DILIGENTLY. I focus on having an upbeat attitude while finding and teaching.

So I had a Zone Conference this past week and it was great. We learned about different ways of finding new investigators, because that is something we as a mission are struggling with. It was good, and I walked away with the mentality that finding is a privilege. Also, I cannot stand not working and lounging around. Ugh. I feel like a bum if I am not doing something. Hopefully that translates over to school when I return.

Each December Zone Conference we as a zone get to watch an inspirational Christmas movie. This year we watched "It's a Wonderful Life". Boy, I think that is my new favorite movie! I felt like I connected with everything in the movie: the guardian angel, the message on gratitude, the family message, everything....I think I want to make a tradition of watching that each Christmas when I return home.

So I no longer meet with the group of Muslims that I used to. That is no new news. But what is new news is that I now have 2 Qurans!!! I got one tracting Saturday night. I tracted into a guy that was mad and told me to read "his book", and was going off about who knows what, and I mentioned that I met with a group of Muslims in the past and that I have so much respect for them. Then he said, "hey, do you want to come in for a bit?" Things changed that fast. Now I am not teaching him, but it shows how fast people can change. No, I did not get my first Quran from him, but from a guy across the street from him, and then I got a REALLY nice one yesterday from the group of Muslims I taught. I will probably send those home sometime. But I love Muslim people! They are so great, and the "Muslims" we see on TV blowing people up, really are not good Muslims. But I have 2 Qurans!

Anyway, Mariners...good stuff. Lopez has needed to go for a while.

Please remember to save all Car and Drivers. Every one!

My quote for the week is one from last Conference: "Faith builds character, and character is a measure of what we are becoming" --Elder Richard G. Scott

So after Zone Conference (where missionaries going home share their testimonies), I wrote my own testimony in my journal. I will close with it:

"While listening to the other missionaries giving their testimonies, I thought of my own, especially regarding missions and missionary work. I know that I am happier because of my choices to follow the Savior. Although I am only 4 months into my mission service, I feel I am a better worker, a better person, more Christlike, and absolutely more sure of who I am, and pleased with the relationship that I am developing with my Heavenly Father. I have never seen an angel, but I have seen miracles occur. I know of about 3 or 4 major experiences where I had truly profound spiritual experiences, testifying to me that what I am learning is true. But those did not come without great effort and faith on my part! Long did I trudge on with hope in finding my so-called testimony. I did not know how to "find it", cultivate it, or even recognize it. But as my life tumbled onward I continued reading the Book of Mormon, attending church, seminary and Mutual, and slowly I began to see my faith, feel something at church that is NOT of this world, but divine. These feelings (often through prayer) have secured a knowledge that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer, and that He restored His Gospel through Joseph Smith, in these the latter-days. My hope in Christ's Gospel, which kept me from straying in my teenage years, truly was as Ether 12:4 claims to be "an anchor". Especially after seeing "It's a Wonderful Life", and my mission service to this point, I hope for a "better world". For these reasons, and many more, is Ether 12:4 my "mission scripture", because it so genuinely describes my experiences. This is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

With love,

Elder Galbraith