Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Well, I feel like a total fool.  I was so excited to talk to you and hear your voice that I don't think I even thanked you for the gifts and I definitely did not tell you I love you enough.  So, thank you so much and I love you so much!  How's that?  Thank you Auntie Sharon for the toque!  It's not blisteringly cold yet, but I am sure that is still coming.  No games the rest of the day, and to answer your question, that dinner last night was pretty awkward.  Enough said.

Getting to attend 2 sacrament meetings in one day reminds me of good ol' I-Falls/Fort Frances.  Looking like I will be heading down there to do a baptismal interview on Saturday, and I am in Dryden now getting ready to do the same for tomorrow.

So Bro. Ladd did give you a call eh?  He is a great member and actually, Elder O'Driscoll and I stayed at their place for a few nights right as we arrived in Kenora because our apartment was not ready.  Bro. Ladd was touched by testimonies given in sacrament meeting and wanted to give you a call.  I really am trying out here and am learning that the best way to have fun while being a successful missionary is to be myself.  It's so easy to slip into the rut of trying to be perfect and almost "worshipping the Law".  So things that I am doing to be myself are like changing out of missionary clothes every night after planning and call-ins and teasing more, just who I am.  I feel that doing such helps relieve some of the stresses of missionary work and I am able to do just enough "unwinding".  Now, I still am diligent and devoted with all this, don't you think otherwise!  But, I am grateful that Bro. Ladd gave you a call.  Sometimes it's good to hear from another source, eh?

Did I sound any different than before?  What did you think?  I think you are getting the impression that I am fat because you asked about my physical health and commented on me putting on weight.  I laughed to myself.  I am filling out is all.  No, I am not running laps every day with my companion, but trying to eat fairly healthy.  That said, sorry Dad, I will never sink to the rice and beans diet.  Kill me first.  Ha.  I noticed a few differences in you two.  Well, maybe not differences, but things that I picked up.  I noticed that Mom said "awesome" and I kind of did a double-take sort of thing.  In the CWM we don't use words like awesome, cool, sweet.  Nope.  So I noticed that and kind of laughed to myself.  It was really weird being called "TJ", because that's not my name right now.  Just a few funny things...

Well I should probably tell you about yesterday, which ended up being one of the best Sundays on my mission, if not my life.  First, I started it off on an amazing note by talking to my parents.  Loved it.  45 minutes didn't even feel like a drop in the bucket.  One baptismal date we have, Alex, came to church after come coaxing and then had a tremendous experience while there.  A less-active couple we have been working with came to church too.  All in all, the turnout to church was pitiful--16 people, but it was a classic example of quality instead of quantity.  We all were invited to share things we are thankful for and Elder Perkins and I each went up and shared different insights about family and the gospel.  Of course I teared up, and it felt great because I haven't done that much lately.  You touch on my family and I get teary-eyed.  So I shared how grateful I am for my family and for temples and for the impact of the gospel upon my life, those sort of things.  Then the husband in the less-active family got up and said, "The branch president asked me to give the opening prayer this morning and I turned him down because I am a shy fellow.  Well, brothers and sisters, I stand before you now and want to tell you that the Holy Spirit has been working on me for the last 20 minutes and I want you all to know that I would be honored to say the opening prayer the next time I am asked.  In the name of Jesus Christ amen..."  I went up to him afterwards (and told him) that his testimony was simple, yet powerful.  Wow.  Then we coaxed Alex to get up and play and sing a song on the piano and with some hesitation he did and walked slowly past the podium, stopped, and went back and introduced himself and then shared how he met us missionaries.  Oh, it was so good.  Then, he went on to share how he has performed in lots of other churches in Kenora but that this Church has the "it" factor and that he has actually gotten so much from coming to church.  He said he feels great and knows he has received answers to prayers.  Wow.  That good.  I felt like if nothing else, I was a successful missionary in Kenora.  I know that is not how we measure success, but it has been a struggle here at times and things are finally coming together.  Kenora is the best it's been in the 5 months I have been here.  Seriously.

That is about it, I have plenty of other stories about great spiritual experiences from the past week, but this keyboard is driving me insane because I keep hitting 2 buttons at once.  Ugh.  So I ended up only sharing yesterday, but please share your spiritual experiences too.

Love you all,

Elder Galbraith

This computer does not have an SD card slot...no pictures this week...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Almost Christmas

Merry Christmas from Kenora!  Good to be here, but tomorrow I will be heading down to I-Falls to do District Meeting and for an exchange.  Then next week on Tuesday I will be in Dryden doing the same thing and another baptismal interview!  Then another possible baptismal interview in I-Falls the following week, and hopefully I will be staying in Kenora, but after 5 months, I never know, but I will know in 2 weeks what is happening.

Anyway, Merry Christmas!  It is snowing up here and definitely looks the part.  There is a huge 50-foot Christmas tree on Main St. in Kenora in the middle of the road.  I love it.  We have Christmas lights on the house and the tree looks great, thanks to Elder Perkins' parents sending him tons of stuff to load up the tree--I need to get a picture, I know, I know...

Speaking of Christmas, the Kenora branch had a Christmas party last Saturday and it was great.  We brought our 2 new baptismal dates, Jim and Veronica.  Ha, yup, we set baptismal dates with them an hour before the party and they wanted to come and so they did and they had an absolute blast!  (BDs are for Feb. 4th--we're talking 2012 here)  Elder Perkins and I tried to balance time between them and all the visitors we did not recognize, and the Less-Actives that came and members and other investigators.  Phew...what a job!  But I shouldn't be complaining, Elder Perkins was voluntold to be the merry, jolly, Santa Claus.  Ha, he did fantastic and just took a few pictures with people and got out of there.  He plays the part: a big red jolly guy.  During the Christmas party we were shown a quick movie from lds.org that is part of a brand-new series of videos of the life of Christ filmed in the new Jerusalem set in Utah that they built.  Wow, a wonderful, spirit-filled movie.  Compelling for sure.  I desperately wanted to watch all of the videos because they were so good.



Our other baptismal date Alex went to Winnipeg for the weekend and missed his bus coming back home to Kenora.  He couldn't come to church, and Derold...well, let's just say I am learning patience.  We woke him up and helped him get going off to church (he won't accept rides, but insists to walk the 4 or so km's to church) but he never showed.  He ended up going to this other church and he gave us a lame excuse.  But, enough of that.  I wrote plenty in my journal, so those are the kind of stories you get to hear more about later.  We have been teaching a lot of people and we feel that a lot of these people are taking baby steps, but, are still coming along.  If they were stagnant, we would drop them.  We were privileged to find more good people to teach this week, which is always exciting thinking of all their potential.  It’s always a game in my mind to stay positive.  For myself, it is easy to assume things if an appointment does not work out, when there are other possibilities.  I am trying to always be optomistic.  I am learning lots of life lessons out on my mission--more than I thought I would.  I know that I would not have been able to learn many things without my missionary service.

Some things I have learned on my mission are these:

More gratitude for SO many things: the love and effort my parents and family have for me.  Not many so-called families are based around love and wholesome things.  Many are not even families, more of "fend for yourself".  I have especially learned gratitude for the strength of the gospel where I grew up.  It's been very different on my mission.  In Winnipeg the ward had like 130 active members, in Saskatoon there were about 300, in IF (International Falls) about 40, in FF (Fort Frances) about 8 and in Kenora about 50 or 60.  Wow.  So, so very different.  Each area a unique situation.  Now, numbers do not reflect the strength of the members there, either.  Sheesh.  I am grateful for the spiritual and physical upbringing I had.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I am grateful to have had a temple so close to my house too.  I never really went all that often, which I plan to change, but that temple was a beacon of light and a source of spiritual strength to the members.  I have not even SEEN a temple for over 16 months.  People here sacrifice a lot to attend a temple that is about 9 hours away.  And I have learned gratitude for testimonies.  I have been thinking about this for a long time and this morning I was reviewing a random talk that happened to mention that.  I was reading Sis. Barbara Thompson's talk from the last Gen. Conf. (thanks Mom and Dad for the Ensign) and she said it clearly, something like this: "it does not matter how strong your testimony used to be, but how strong it is now".  That was the gist of if and I have seen how true that is my life and especially in people in these small branches.  Wow.  Testimonies need to be constantly nourished.  Constantly.  No wonder we are counseled to study the scriptures every day.  Hmm.  No wonder.  The Lord needs members with strong testimonies to magnify their callings and to bring other people to the gospel and to strengthen them.

Something I learned yesterday from the discussion in Gospel Doctrine about agency (abilitiy to choose) and compulsion: Forcing someone to do right is just as wrong as doing bad.  That was Lucifer's plan in the first place and we would have done nothing in life to learn and grow.  Did you know that the most successful people are those that fall the most?  They fall and keep getting up again.

Something elder Perkins and I were discussing was the value of prayer rather than testimony.  Which would we rather hear?  A powerful prayer or a compelling testimony?  Think about it.  All too often I hear and feel powerful testimonies, but sometimes it is talking the talk without walking the walk, the DO without BE.  There really is not anything better than hearing an absolutely sincere prayer from someone seeking truth.  In that prayer you can FEEL the sincerity, and can listen to their concerns, their core beliefs, their testimony shines through, all of this through what is called the gift of prayer, which is communication between us and God.  What do you think, which would you rather hear?  A powerful, sincere prayer, or a compelling testimony?

That's all folks.  I look forward to being able to talk to you Christmas morning.  Talk to you soon!

Love you,

Elder Galbraith

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Travellin'men




Phew...I am finally back in Kenora!  I only spent 3 working days in Kenora the past week and it’s just good to be "home".  I was in Winnipeg for Tuesday and Wednesday and Dryden on Saturday---why?  In Winnipeg for Zone Conference and in Dryden for...MY FIRST EVER BAPTISMAL INTERVIEW! That's what I am talking about! How crazy is that?  I interviewed someone for baptism!  It came all sudden too.  The Dryden elders have been working with this family and trying to prepare them for baptism on the 7th of January, but one of the family members had a HUGE spiritual experience in the past week and said, "I can't wait any more for this" and wanted to be baptized that day.  So...everything got arranged as fast as possible and on Saturday, Elder Perkins and I drove out to Dryden and I did the interview.  It was weird for a number of reasons.  First, I interviewed someone for baptism. Me, little ol' me, interviewed someone for an ordinance of eternal significance. (Oh, and he passed by the way! kind of important...)  The other reason it was weird was because it was just me and this guy in the room--no companion. Talk about separation anxiety, just kidding.  It wasn't super weird because it was still me with another person, but not to be around my companion all the time is kind of...different. Ya.

Zone Conference was good.  After being in outlying areas for about a year now and not seeing other missionaries very often, Zone Conferences are really exciting because I get to see all my missionary friends and there is just a special excitement in the air.  That sounds really cheesy, but it’s true.

Guess who called me this week? The former Elder Zach Morris! (former missionaries can talk to companions still in the field)  Remember that he was my companion for 4 1/2 months in I-Falls?  I cannot believe how much I miss that man.  He was such an inspiration to me and gave me a wonderful example of a great missionary and we just clicked.  He is going to BYU-I and told me of some funny stories back home.  Oh, wow.  I didn't expect to develop such great relationships with my companions!  Elder Morris and Elder Bodily are the type of people I am going to keep in contact with for a long, long time, and they are now some of my closest friends too.  Sheesh, I now have RMs calling me in the missionary field.  Do you know what that means?  I am getting to be an "older" missionary.  That is ridiculous, but no worries, it just gives me more drive to work harder.

Just got Dad's email from his phone...2 blowouts?  Rough luck Dad.  My prayers are with you and the family, as always.

I read the Tryon's letter from Nov. 6th (finally got it and those amazing pumpkins pictures...ridiculously good...) and in it you said I will report to K1?  That's neat.

I had a neat experience with a 1st Nation family last night where I witnessed one of their sacred rituals duing a lesson.  I don't have time to go into it now, but it’s one of those "I seriously just did that on my mission" stories.

This morning I was studying during my Personal Studies (go figure) and I had some great insights.  I was reading in PMG for a bit, then skipping around in the standard works and eventually landed in the Bible Dictionary and was looking at all the names there and that all the names of people had meanings.  I thought that was interesting.  Many names had really special meanings and even blessings, and I wondered if those blessings and talents were given because of the name or if the person possessed the talents and was therefore given the name.  I read that the Hebrews held special significance to names, and some even had complete-sentence-meanings.  I began thinking about names even more and read more about the people in the Bible whose names were changed (Abram-->Abraham, Jacob-->Israel).  Interesting.  I then thought about my own names: Norweigen, English and Scottish. From there I thought about how those cultures seemed to come together in a special way in one name, in one person.  Sure God sees more in a name than just something to label someone as.  That is an important truth I learned this morning.  Thank you Mom, Dad and God for my names.  I was really moved this morning upon considering that.  Oh, by the way, the Bible Dictionary says something interesting about what "Michael" means.  When you look it up, I think my brother reflects the meaning. :)

That's about it here. Kenora is still coming along, and we are experiencing the highs and lows of missionary work. Like Kim said to me in an email, sometimes you are so high, and sometimes you just have to endure. But ultimately we are responsible for our own actions and how we react to things. Always good to remember, so thank you Kim.

I love you all,  Elder Galbraith

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas season is here


                          Hard at work


                         The Ontario Title of Liberty

Don't make fun of Canadian winters. I did, and it’s -23C. (about -9*F)  Enough said.

Yes it has snowed and is cold. To answer your question Dad, I drive a Chevrolet Colorado and yes it has 4-wheel drive and we have had to use that a few times. We are taking a trip into Winnipeg this week so we will be especially watchful on the roads.

This past week at district meeting we all got together and made our own unique Ontario Title of Liberty. Looks so good! Like I think I had mentioned last week, Elder Perkins and I went to a member’s place and he has got some beautiful land and we saw a big 8-point buck, got a beautiful view of the Winnipeg River and cut down a big tree and even got a Christmas tree out of the whole ordeal. So fun! I saw the whole process of the tree standing to becoming our Title of Liberty within hours! On the Title of Liberty we put a goal for investigators at Sacrament Meeting, 10 for the district (pretty ambitious), and put our big Ontario District logo and what we were willing to sacrifice to achieve our goal, with our signatures right next to it. I will send a picture. I think it inspired everyone and Elder Perkins and I certainly had Sacrament Meeting on our minds all week and as a district we had 5 people to church, which is great, but we all see room for improvement. We should be able to get more people here in Kenora next week, but Derold was able to come, which was really good. He came halfway into Sacrament Meeting and stayed the rest of church. Phew. Big sigh of relief! Back to the Title of Liberty---I knew that making our Title of Liberty out of wood would make our district unique, because I knew that the other districts would do theirs on something boring. So we cut down a tree and made ours on a log, and the other districts made theirs out of: a white shirt, a pillowcase and a bed-sheet. Ya. Now I know that what it stands for and what is written on it is far more important than what it is made out of, but I felt really good with what was on ours and what went onto it and, of course, what it was made out of.

I had an interesting experience with teaching an investigator and knowing that I was not talking to the investigator, but that the Adversary was there. Creepy. We said many prayers after that lesson and had to cast the spirit out after we had already left. I was on exchanges, and that elder and I were really spiritually drained after that lesson. That, compound with the normal emotions of missionary work made for a long day, but experiences like that make me appreciate "normal" days more, let me tell you.

But now that I told you that, I will tell you about the good studies I had this morning. In fact, I have a goal this month that I begin studies 20 minutes early every morning. So far so good. The only day I missed was Sunday, which is near impossible anyway with everything that goes into church. So I have had more time to balance studying for investigators and also for myself. I finished the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi and I feel like I am understanding much more from them, yet that I am not yet getting some of the deeper, spiritual meaning yet, but one step at a time, right? I would study with the Book of Mormon and the Bible, reading from them both and looking at footnotes, especially the footnotes in the Bible, and would also use the Bible Dictionary a lot. It helps! So this morning I read 2 Nephi 25 and the entire Book seemed to jump out at me. Here are some of my insights: In the beginning of 2 Nephi chapter 25, Nephi keeps saying he will prophesy, and he got me really anxious because he kept saying that and then talking about Isaiah for like 5 verses, but then his prophecy begins and the verses explode with doctrine and prophecy. Some notable scriptures that stuck out to me were verses: 13) "my heart doth magnify his holy name" This really shows the type of person that Nephi was, that all of his heart and desires are towards the Lord. 16)"persuaded to believe in Christ" Speaking of the Jews here, Nephi sees that the Jews will not be forced to believe in Christ, but that at some point in time they will be persuaded to believe in Christ and therefore accept the true Messiah. The principle of free agency is apparent here.19) "the prophets", who prophesied that the Messiah would come on a specific year, which happened to be 600 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. This was not Nephi or Lehi prophesying when the Savior would come, but other prophets! The Jews truly were bitterly hard-hearted to still reject Jesus the Christ when they, at some point in time, definitively knew of His coming, yet still denied Christ. Wow. 20)"none other name given under heaven..." the Book of Mormon and the Bible clearly testify of the same Jesus Christ and anyone who says otherwise clearly has not read the Book of Mormon with a sincere intent. The Book of Mormon and the Bible work together, simply put, and I have heard many different pretended arguments that try to "prove" they don't. A closer look still proves they do. But everything still comes down to a humble seeker of truth, and no amount of scientific knowledge or evidence will persuade someone. I have tried, and the Spirit still does all the conversion. Point is, the 2 books work together. 23)"labor diligently to persuade our children, and our brethren..." to come and believe in God and in Christ, and that it is only by the Savior's grace are we saved, after everything we can do to show true desire and true faith. We cannot save ourselves. Only Christ can save us, but it takes more than a one-time confession of faith to secure eternal life. 24) they kept the Law of Moses until Christ and knew that the Law would be fulfilled in Christ. They did not worship the Law as the Jews did at the time of Christ, but worshipped the Lord, knowing that He would come and fulfill the Law (and every aspect of the Law pointed towards that Great and Everlasting Sacrifice). 26) "talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, and prophesy of Christ..." This scripture may be one of my favorite scriptures all time because it proves that everything points to Christ. The title "The Church of Jesus Christ" therefore is essential (3 Nephi 18 for more of that). 29) Verse 29 basically says worship God with everything we have and we will live with God again, no questions asked. So, those were the highlights of my studies this morning and to add even a little more, I am slowly reading through the Old Testament and am about to begin Leviticus 26. I have never read the Old Testament all the way through, and I am making a charge for it. I just learned about a lot of laws set forth about many things. After having read this, a lot of my reading in the New Testament and Book of Mormon seem to make a little more sense and I can pick out Old Testament....flavor. Flavor is not the right word, but I think you understand what I mean. See how I need the extra study time?

To answer another question, a man gave an elder in my district that OPP hat and so I snapped a few pictures with it. Looks good eh? He was part of the something like the Her Majesty’s Forces, so I got confused with the HMS thing, (which usually means Her Majesty’s Ship) the only hat is that OPP hat, and the man worked as a police officer for the OPP.

With things like those scriptures (a list relating to character traits of Christ), it costs me every time to print things off, and missionaries aren't made of money, so I really don't like printing things off, I strongly prefer having things sent off to me. Just send them to my address in Kenora please.

That's all folks. All I have for now. We are heading into Winnipeg for Zone Conference, and so I will get mail. So if someone has sent me something in the past 8 weeks, there is a good chance I haven't even seen it yet. Love you all and continue to keep me in your prayers,

Elder Galbraith

 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Almost December


 

Childlike, not childish, as a member of I-Falls would say. We need to become childlike, not childish--I thought it was profound.

Dad, how could you pass up on a chance to go goose hunting?!!! 5 out of my 6 past companions have been hunters, and after being in Ontario/Minnesota for a year, I just want to go hunting SO badly! Kade, I'll take you up, just you wait! This reminds me of something special our missionary Zone is doing. Each district in the zone is making their own "Title of Liberty" during tomorrow's district meeting and then putting them all together next week for Zone Conference. So Elder Perkins and I (and 3 other outdoorsmen in the district) want to make a Title of Liberty with some real northwestern Ontario flavor. So we talked to a member earlier today who lives just out of town and he offered to saw up a fallen tree on his property and give us a slab and on that slab we will make our distinct, unique Ontario district Title of Liberty. On this we are going to tag it up with all the logos from the different areas and whatever else we want. The only mandatory thing we have to put on this thing is a numerical goal for sacrament meeting and then we will all sign it! Long live the Ontario district! I'll let you know how it all pans out. I-Falls is coming up to do an exchange later today and district meeting is tomorrow. The Dryden elders are coming tomorrow and we will be exchanging with them tomorrow here in Kenora. I'm telling you, northwestern Ontario is such a great place to be! Oh, the 3 other districts in our "Manitoba Zone" are either on the plains or in Winnipeg, so no-one will ever come close to our unique Title of Liberty! What do they have to work with?

Because we have daily contact with at least 2 of our investigators and their lives are every-which-way, each day seems to be an adventure of highs and lows. Oh...yesterday Alex was able to come to church and he really looked comfortable and seemed to get more out of it than his first time there. He sat and played the piano and sang and members did a really good job of including him and welcoming him. After church he had an experience where he really felt the spirit and he called us and was excited. Not long after that he had a certain experience that really, really troubles him. Sorry, I can't go into the details over email. Oh, Derold didn't make it to church. Long story...that kid...he knows everything is true, it is him getting a testimony of church. Weird, eh? So those 2 are still coming along and we are really trying to help them set baptismal dates. Another investigator, Irene, really likes us. She refuses to come to church, but enjoys learning, and is slowly believing more and more. Her first 2 visits were full of "you won't convert me", but now she wants a subscription to the Ensign. Funny how things work sometimes, eh? Its a matter of getting her to church and helping her to feel that the Book of Mormon is true. She says she needs God to smack her aside the head and she'll go to church. We are preparing a 2x4 that we'll put "GO TO CHURCH" on it. She'll get a kick out of the effort and maybe it will work. Elder Bodily emailed me a picture of him doing that but writing "GET BAPTIZED" and it worked for the investigator. Irene has a coined phrase which she uses to describe what some people call "senior moments": she calls it 'sometimers'. I get a kick out of it every time. Just a side note: Elder Bodily is one of those people I will keep in close contact with during and after the mission. He is a hunter, and I love that man.

I'll share one particularly inspiring story Elder Perkins and I had a few days ago. We were knocking doors on a street which has another church on it with a negative stigma in town. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from it and made a special effort to be super nice to everyone on the street to really set "the Mormons" apart as the nice guys. I think we did well, but one experience really confirmed that to me. On the 2nd door we knocked, a young boy came to the door and I said who we were and, because he was younger, I asked if his parents were home. He said yes and looked at us and back inside hesitantly, as if not wanting to go get his mom, and then went to go get her. His mother came to the door and again I explained who we were and that we were just doing a survey on the Bible. It went something like this: "Hi I'm Elder Galbraith from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we are just doing a survey on the Bible, trying to get people's opinions on it. It is only 8 questions long. Would you have 3 or 4 minutes to help us out?" She politely declined and we left and headed to the next door. After Elder Perkins had knocked on the next door, the mother from the last door opened her door and said, "Excuse me gentlemen, after you are done at that door, would you be able to come back? My son would like to ask you something." I had never had anything like this happen before and as we headed back I was wondering what was going on. I lightly knocked on the door and she answered and invited us in. She then said that her son Dylan had a question and as Mormon's would say in church, "turned the time over" to him. He innocently asked, "what are you doing?" We said a survey on the Bible. He said, "well I'll take it". I was thinking that this kid had guts. Turns out he is 10 and attends a Catholic school, where he has learned about Jesus Christ and reads from the Bible frequently and he has already felt the influence of God and has recognized it to the point that every time he plays hockey he plays with a necklace with a big cross on it. During one game an opposing player broke it and Dylan refused to play without his cross necklace because he feels Jesus Christ next to him every time he plays. Wow. He is 10 years old. Long story short, we left him with a Book of Mormon and 2 pamphlets, got their number and will call them tomorrow. Those surveys help get us into people's doors better than just the traditional tracting approach. Wow. People are there ready and willing to listen. Now remember, its not just the full-time missionaries duty to find people. Finding is something full-time missionaries do in an effort to find more people because members have not provided enough individuals or families for the missionaries to teach. To put it bluntly: find someone for the full-time missionaries to teach, wherever you live. Though finding is a good thing to do, teaching and directly inviting people to Christ is better and helps fulfill missionary's purposes more fully.

Elder Galbraith




Happy Thanksgiving!

This week's P-Day was changed to Thursday to coincide with American Thanksgiving.

 

You already know that I am still in Kenora so that spoils all the fun! I am SO glad to stay here with Elder Perkins and we have high expectations as to what will happen here in the next 6 weeks. Many people are "on the verge", but more about that later.

I am SO glad to hear that everything went well with the move and that everyone is ok--including Luigi, the little guy looks like he is gaining some weight, little chunker, ha. But seriously, I have been praying for you for the past 10 days that you both be blessed with patience, a sense of calm and safe travel. Wow, I had to wait 10 days to hear that you did travel safely, but it's worth the wait. Great to hear that it appears like life will immediately continue for you both, especially Mom starting work so soon. Good! That is a blessing in and of itself. So your new ward wanted a writeup about me? Don't tell them anything too scary. By the way, did I ever get a missionary plaque? Just curious. If I did, let me know which scripture made it on there. Do you need a picture for that, or for your writeup? The nice thing about this whole Thursday P-Day thing is that I can quickly respond to you by Monday. Fancy that. You mentioned how many boxes I had...ha. Funny thing is that right after I left I realized I did not do a good job of packing up anything. Ha. Sorry, sure love you though!

Oh this past week and a half. Lots of good things. Elder Perkins and I are definitely fulfilling our purpose. We are especially excited about Alex and Derold. Derold has been super nervous about coming to church and did not come and Alex has been busy with different things. Both of them have called us the past few days and told us that they have received answers but won't tell us what kind of answers until we meet with them. We are going to meet with Alex in about half an hour, so after this I expect some interesting news! All of this comes after a while of worrying for them both. Oh, this past week I have been stressing (not too badly, but a bit) about what they both need and trying to be personable and extend the types of commitments they need that will help them progress. Poor Derold, we have been super bold with him and he let Elder Perkins know about it. Poor Elder Perkins, he was dumbstruck for a day or two, but he is learning as a newer missionary. I am really impressed with how well he is doing because I don't treat him like a new missionary, I treat him like he has been out for a while, but every now and then something pops up and I am like, "oh ya, he is new". But Derold is forgiving and I am now taking the front on being bold with him in a loving way. He needs the boldness. Similar to Alma and his experience in Alma 36, I see that when you endure good times and tough times with someone that you grow closer to them. I see the same with Derold and think how difficult some things are because I want him to choose the right (and for the right reasons, not out of obligation to me, but out of a love for the Lord and a desire to grow closer) and see the blessings. He is coming closer and how exquisite is his joy at times, and bitter at other times. I hope that all made sense. Just before emailing today, Elder Perkins and I got fed by a Filipino investigator of ours and let me tell you, they know how to cook. Lucky Elder Munk, right? That individual is someone who is taking a little longer that others, but is making baby steps to Christ and the restored gospel. As I mentioned earlier, we are teaching 2 people specifically that are on the verge of receiving their necessary answers before committing to be baptized, its just that agonizing time when you want to give them your testimony. It is all good though. That is part of the fun, right?

Alex invited me to sing with an all men's choir, did I tell you that? Well he did, and it has been going really well. I have been there the past 3 weeks and am trying to sing tenor. Oh boy, that is sure up there. They hit Fs, Gs and a B flat. Ya, I go falsetto there. Elder Perkins and I were thinking of ways to get our name out and I believe this is a way of doing it. Everyone is remarkably friendly and ask me a few questions and even still call me "Elder" in respect. Members of the Kenora branch have told us to try new ideas of finding people. I believe this is a way of softening hearts and have seen one heart softened in particular. He gave a Dryden elder a former HMS hat, but that is a story for another time. You will have to make note of all the times I say that! That is about all I have for now. Have fun on black Friday right? I will be snuggly in bed.

Winter is pretending like its coming here. This past week has been weird. It was -20C for a few days and I didn't have wool socks on. Enough said. Elder Perkins has never been in sub 20F, so he's been in for a treat. Poor guy. His ears are as sensitive as my hands and feet. But right now, its above freezing and the snow is melting--in late November!!! What is going on? This is like winter in Seattle! Yes, Mom and Dad, I am driving more cautiously now that there is snow and ice. 4 wheel drive helps.

Well, I really am glad to hear that the big part of the move went well. That is a prayer answered. Continue to draw closer to God through kneeling prayers of sincere thanks and secure the Lord's blessings by binding him with your obedience to His commandments. There is sincere and everlasting joy in doing so. I love and keep you in my prayers and will email you in just a few days. Happy American Thanksgiving! I'm missing that traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl, but it will come in its own due time. I love you all!

Elder Galbraith
Enjoy this morning's sunrise in Kenora! I love this place!




Monday, November 14, 2011

Good things happening

Yikes, signing off from Redmond...scary, but definitely for a great cause.

Oh the trip to I-Falls was beautiful and a great trip!  It was lightly snowing that morning and then it stopped right as we got into the car and the roads were great.  Right as we returned to Kenora and stepp out of the car it began to snow again.  Coincidence?  Hmmm.  God disguises his miracles as pure coincidences to the world, and as Bro. Oster says, there is no such thing as a small miracle.  It was great seeing I-Falls again, definitely a little different, but not too much different.  I stopped and saw the Osters (minus Sis. Oster who was at work) and it was SO good to see them again, but don't tell Bro. Oster that.  Also visited with a few members as we were in the area finding.  Great to see them all.  I made sure that the I-Falls elders knew as I was coming down that the purpose of the trip was not for me to see everyone that I taught, but to have a productive exchange and if that included seeing members I would absolutely welcome it.  So Elder Mitton (my MTC companion now serving in I-Falls) and I went and taught...Bro. Wilcox! It was SO good to see him too and seeing him and others really reminded me how much I love the people I work with.  For the lesson, Elder Mitton and I did an object lesson (that Bro. Oster gave to me) that discussed doing the basics of the gospel, continually building oneself from the inside-out and then going to the temple. Bro. Wilcox is beginning to prepare for the Melchizedek Priesthood!  How amazing is that?!  Wow.  I look up to him as a MAN who has learned from his past and I told him that I look up to him because of that.  It was neat being there with Elder Mitton because it was almost symbolic of me being one (with Elder Bodily) who found him and helped him to baptism, and Elder Mitton assisting him to being a full-fledged member working towards the temple.  Oh, it was one of those legendary lessons.  As Elder Cutler would say, "A choice experience".  Speaking of the Cutlers, I will be paying them a visit after my mission down in good ol' Shelley, ID.  All in all, the exchange to I-Falls was productive and a spiritually strengthening, yet it is still good to be back in my own area of Kenora helping newer people here.

Speaking of Kenora, good things happened this past week.  Derold came to church!  Oh, finally. I really want him to do so well. Ha---he just walked in and gave me a hug.  Good timing Derold. He came and stayed for the first 2 hours of church and really enjoyed it.  He participated in 2nd hour and really felt welcome.  He did not want a ride to church and instead walked like 3 miles to church and we met him there.  What a trooper!  He had to walk by like 4 churches and his old church to get there!  Yikes.  He has limitless quotes, and my favorite is "I am a huggy, kissy guy".  Oh boy.  He always gives us hugs during lessons thanking us for different things.  He was so thankful that...well...he fulfilled his quote and my neck is scratchy.  But it was so worth it because he is receiving answers.  He is one of the most spiritually sensitive people I have ever met.  Other investigators...Kenny had an emergency over the weekend and could not come to church last minute, so we have to move his baptismal date back because he needs more Sundays to come to church and live commandments.  This next week will be very formative with the material we need to present (Lesson 4).  Keep praying.  We have a new investigator, Alex, who is hoping to hear back from a reality TV show tomorrow.  (I am learning that I have to be vague with some people's identities over the internet, so I can't tell you the show name or people's last names) Alex is really unique because he knows nothing about Christianity other than Jesus died on a cross.  Not his fault.  We are helping him out.  He literally knows nothing, yet he came to church last week.  He is super musical and he got me to go to some choir's practice in another church last week.  I figure it is a good use of 45 minutes to really get our name out in town showing that we are REAL people.

A member had us out to eat and had a Norweigen exchange student over named Jens.  We were talking and began to discuss differences between Canada and Norway.  He said a lot of things, and we asked him his last name and I slaughtered it trying to say it correctly.  He said it a few more times and between each time I would say it and he would emphasize a different part of the name.  I totally got it.  Elder Perkins tried and he and Jens were trying to go at it for like 5 minutes.  Jens would say his name and Elder Perkins would butcher it and Jens would slap his forehead (a really good sport about it all) and laugh and say it again and then Elder Perkins would try it and Jens would shake his head and Elder Perkins would laugh and say "what am I saying wrong?"  The response: "all of it".  He eventually got it.  Then I told Jens my first name, something I rarely do, and his eyes got wide and was like, seriously?  He pronounced it totally different than I have ever heard it pronounced before.  I always said Terje like ter-e-yuh but Jens said it like Tarr-euh, with an "a" like a cat sound and rolling his "r".  Whoa.  It took me the rest of the night to get it, but I think I did.  I'll stick to saying it the way I did, just knowing that Norweigens say it a little differently.  I will call it the Americanized or Canadianized version. Funny evening though.

Look for a big week ahead: transfer calls this weekend and hopefully lots of lessons.  Elder Perkins and I have a goal to always say positive things all week.  So far so good.  Next week is a special week, however, with my P-Day on Thursday instead of on Monday because of the way transfers and American Thanksgiving work out.  So don't expect an email from me on Monday, but on Thursday.  I expect a lot is going to happen back "home" with the move.  Good luck!  The yard and house look really good.  Funny that Mom included the little bit about Luigi because I was wondering how he was doing with the move and how he was going to get moved.  Cute cat. The last thing I still have to write is that razor model: Phillips Norelco 7110X, with 62V/4W power.  I figured I would include the power but I don't think it would matter too much.  Anyway, that is all from Kenora.  Elder Perkins is great, I am doing well, being a District Leader is not too different, but the extra work helps me focus better.  Thank you for your great email.  Over and out.  Love you all!

Elder Galbraith

 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter approaches



 
Well, last week's P-day was on Halloween, so I guess this is legitimate.  Remember Kenora's Holy Hand Grenades (exploding the Gospel)?


White specks falling from the sky...the most amazing part is that it is Nov. and we are finally getting snow for the first time. I would think this is all fun and fine except that...I am travelling to I-Falls today!!!!! Bittersweet! I am going to I-Falls for an exchange with the elders there, who are in my district, and we will be doing our weekly District Meeting in I-Falls. Oh, I am so excited! The only problem is that snow. Why did it decide to do that the day I am to drive to I-Falls? Ga.

Another great week to be a missionary in Kenora and the Ontario district.  We have been able to teach more, and to teach certain people more, which really is what I want to do.  To fill time with finding, not fill finding with appointments.  Oh, what a difference, even though finding is much more enjoyable with the surveys (I never have really not liked finding, but teaching is fulfilling my purpose better).  Derold and Kenny are coming along and I love them both.  Kenny came to church and just ate it all up and contributed a ton and said it felt like home.  He still has some challenges to overcome, but I think he is a solid baptismal date.  Derold loves us, he is just afraid of a few things and did not end up coming to church, ga.  He now knows the Book of Mormon is true, and we are working with that to help him to realize more.  A highlight of the week was last night, after we had met with him and he texted us this: "Hey you guys the Book of Mormon is really jumping out at me it’s really neat how God is showing me things in there that is really awesome thank you guys".  That is what missionary work is all about.  We gave Derold a winter coat, and were able to give him a blessing too.  What a great person!

This week I am still trying to focus on BEing a missionary and not just DOing missionary things.  I definitely can see some fruits of the Holy Ghost.  When the Holy Ghost is truly working within someone, they shine.  Wow.  What a difference.  When younger, I remember thinking that some people or phrases would come across as "fake", but I just had not understood that the Spirit can communicate that way.  Basically I am saying that some people describe the Holy Ghost using certain phrases and I did not believe them.  But sometimes, a phrase is often used a lot because it's true.  The Spirit just feels good and enlightens thoughts.

While out finding we ran into a lady whose family is mostly in Alberta and members of the Church.  She said they have long lived in Cardston.  Mom, do you recognize the names Phil and Colleen Parrot, from Cardston?  Their son married this individual's daughter.

I forgot to write down the razor's model.  Doh.  How much would replacement blades cost?  If they are like $40, I would just go ahead and get a nice razor I saw at Walmart.  It was a straight razor, instead of the circular blades, and I think those get better shaves.  But I will look at the model again, it had an X in it, but that probably gets you nowhere.

A member here makes Christmas treats.  Could you send some Christmas candy recipes?  Maybe just include them in your next letter or something.  Speaking of Christmas, I wouldn't mind something with the Winnipeg Jets.  Something Jets, that is blue, with the logo, instead of "Winnipeg Jets" written out.  I would much prefer the logo.  Whether it be a binder, toothbrush, hoodie, sunglasses, just Jets.

Why the earlier emails?  Today because of the I-Falls trip, but I think I will be emailing sooner with Elder Perkins.  He just really prefers it.  Every P-Day is very different from the prior one.

Sure love you,

Elder Galbraith 


Looks like he's still a little crazy - glad he's not all grown up and serious.





Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween




                                    The back of the Tryons' van
  
                                         Tryons' theme of the night

                                            Captain Jack Sparrow

Our ward had a Halloween-themed party on Saturday, and some families brought carved pumpkins.  The photos above are of the Tryons' artistry.

Those Tryon pumpkins are unreal. Absolutely unreal!! I haven't been able to pick up a pumpkin yet because our "simple" truck repair last week took 8 hours instead of 2 and shot our P-day. But this week I should find time to try something on a pumpkin...I mean, it's kind of my last chance here...

Btw--Elder Perkins hails from Kaysville, UT. So most of my companions have been from the Mormon Belt, I call it. But hey, it just makes it easier to visit them all, right? He is a strong U of U fan, so he still has some soul-searching to do, but he will come out ok. He is a keeper. Every time he is at the pulpit in church he mentions how much he likes to eat---and by golly we get more meal appointments. Funny thing, eh? The funniest part is that I still eat nearly as much as he does--a lot-- and he is losing weight (his goal is to be down to 260 at end of mission) and I am staying at a flat 145. Thank you high metabolism.

Oh what a good week. Kenora is finally coming through and we are seeing much success. We added 5 people to our teaching pool this week and taught 15 lessons. Elder Perkins and I are doing things to keep finding time productive yet fun, and really trying to focus on people's needs. I tell you...missionary work can be so stressful though, but it is all worth it. I forgot my camera again but I have a picture with one of our new investigators named Derold. Oh, I feel a strong connection with Derold, and really want him to find the truth. Of course I want everyone to learn and progress, there are certain people that I feel very connected to on my mission, and Derold is the first I have felt in Kenora. That may sound bad, but Kenora has been a refining fire for me, but I feel that is a thing of the past and we are proceeding with what we have and will continue to go forward. Though we had to drop Leo's baptismal date (out of town for 3 weeks) we set a baptismal date with Kenny, a man we came back into contact with this past week. Kenny is a hoot, and wants to come closer to God. Although he and Derold both have their challenges, Elder Perkins and I have very positive feelings about both of them. Please pray for them. I am thankful to both of them because when I have strong connections with people I begin to eat, sleep and drink missionary work and as I do those things I definitely know that I am more confident and successful. Funny how that works. The past couple weeks have been just waiting for the breakthrough, and I feel this is the beginning. Ah...it feels good fulfilling my purpose.

On top of missionary work, Elder Perkins and I gave talks in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and had a busy remainder of church teaching a lesson 2nd hour and then had a Primary fireside we attended last night. Elder Perkins talked on "keeping commitments" and I talked about "living testimonies and using them to further the Lord's work". I still write most of my talk, and one of the times I deviated I accidentally mixed up my words and said something terrible, but quickly corrected it and most people didn't notice, but one jokester let me know about it. That is a story for after my mission. But all in all, everything went really well. Some thoughts from my talk: I enjoyed rereading Pres. Eyring's talk from last April's Gen. Conference about Living Testimonies and how living testimonies and "normal" testimonies differ. I have always relied on past spiritual experiences to sustain my testimony, which is good, but Pres. Eyring said that he does not depend upon past spiritual experiences but continually is strengthening his own testimony and focusing on BEing a better disciple of Christ. I really liked that thought and now do not feel bad asking the Lord to sustain me in times when I need additional spiritual strength. I feel I need to be specific in my prayers. I also discussed the concept of having to "constantly nurture my testimony by prayer of faith, hungering for the Word of God and obeying God's commandments". I guess that really emphasizes having our testimony progress or regress. There is no middle ground, our testimonies are progressing or regressing. Sheesh, when put that way, we desperately need to search the scriptures often and pray with sincerity all the time!

I took a minute or 2 break after writing that last sentence and though to myself: not doing spiritual things all the time is weird. Not being called Elder Galbraith is weird. Have you ever noticed that since the beginning of my mission I never "sign-off" using my first name, but always, Elder Galbraith? I cringe when people say stuff like "darnit and dangit" now. Interesting. I was doing a PMG activity this morning which had me imagine that it is the last day of my mission and I am reflecting on it and asking myself "have I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish on my mission?" (PMG 8, p.152, the 2nd bullet point) I asked myself 3 questions and wrote down my answers and then looked at the last 2 times I did that same PMG activity...last December, and Sept. from last year. Yikes. Some of the answers were similar, some were slightly different. Hmm. I would recommend trying it but applying the "deadline" to a major event in the next year or 2. See how you do, and also while you are at it, do the Christlike attribute evaluation at the end of PMG 6. Make it a goal to improve on at least 1 attribute every week, or day, or month. Try it out and enjoy your improvement.

Thanks for the ties! I got them a week and a half ago and forgot to mention it. Ha, I like a few of them and love a couple of them. There were a few ties that reminded me of people in the district so after my first district meeting I gave everyone a tie and explained why they got that one. Oh, it was a hoot. One of the ties looked like a never-ending staircase, so I called this one new elder up, Elder Ward, and asked him how much longer he had on his mission. He thought about it and said, 23 months, and I said, ok, pretty much an eternity, just like this eternal staircase, and I gave it to him. Oh, everyone was dying from laughing.

I wanted to include one more thing before I end. The primary activity last night was about being thankful for things. They asked everyone to write down 10 things they were thankful for, and I started off being serious, then being goofy with things and then we watched one of those Mormon Messages and I thought about a number of things I really am grateful for. Thank you Dad for helping to coach and umpire some of my little league games. Thank you Mom for coming to seemingly every sporting event. Careful, you may not realize the things that make an impression on your children, even if it does take them 15 years to finally be grateful for it.

I love you so much,

your son, Elder Galbraith

Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy week

A special week--literally--it started out with something called Specialized Training in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
 
That was pretty neat. We discussed a few trends in the mission and places where we can improve. I need to do a better job of following up on commitments I extend and by doing that I think people will be more apt to keep commitments and appointments we set up. Also at Specialized training we were given some surveys that we could go around and use. So Elder Perkins and I decided to try them out and have found some interesting trends. It is nearly an equal split of people that will even listen to us or take the survey: believers in Christ and nonbelievers in Christ. Many so-called believers just say I have my own religion and slam the door in our face when we say that "we are trying to get people's thoughts on Christ". Interesting. So what has come to mind is really how we live what we believe and again, that General Conference talk about BEing and DOing. I have been trying to BE a better missionary instead of DOing more missionary things. I am being better, not perfect, but better. While reading Alma 34 in the Book of Mormon this morning I seemed to have insight after insight. What a chapter! The concepts brought up there can apply to anyone in any situation...it answers the question: what is the purpose of life, and also talks about the doctrine of Christ and HOW it works. All throughout, I was thinking: Amulek is talking to former members of the church about how to develop faith. These former members had gone so astray as to forget how to develop faith and wanted to know what faith was! Amulek discusses the need for a Savior and an infinite and eternal Atonement and shares that we must "pour out our souls" in prayer. That should remind us to evaluate our own prayers. Are my prayers sincere? Mine are getting better. Amulek then tells the Zoramites (and we must liken the discourse to ourselves today) to "not harden their hearts and come forth and bring fruit unto repentance...this life is the life to prepare to meet God...and to work out our salvation with fear before God" and lots more good stuff. I thought my studies would be pretty poor this morning considering we had to study at Subway--our car getting maintenance on other side of town so we got shuttle to downtown and studied in Subway for an hour and then library opened after that and studied here and now emailing. Phew...so you can probably sense a little frustration in people's attitudes towards us, but I always maintain a positive demeanor while finding, I am doing a better job of letting things go, its later that a little frustration comes out. So Elder Perkins and I are thinking of new ideas to try to get more commitment out of people. We would welcome any fresh ideas.
 
Elder Perkins is great. President Paulson has called a few times and teased me asking if my companion wanted to go home yet. Ha. That is just President though, I just slap myself in the forehead and laugh to myself. Elder Perkins played a year of football on the offensive line for Dixie College in St. George, UT and gave up a big scholarship to come on his mission. He has really turned his life around to come on a mission and is a happy, go-lucky guy. He likes eating. Ha, but seriously. Together we have been able to find a lot of new people like I had said, its just staying in contact with them and helping them progress is the difficult part. We have 9 people in our teaching pool and are trying to meet with people more frequently. The new surveys have helped us get in and teach a few lessons right on the spot which I think is fantastic. Leo, the baptismal date, has been sick and we have been unable to meet with him. This week we are really going to focus on helping investigators attend Sacrament Meeting. I think it is much needed because we have struggled the past few weeks. In fact, the Ontario district struggled this week after having a good prior week. I guess that is something I get to bring up in...my first-ever District Meeting tomorrow! The Dryden and I-Falls elders will be coming up to Kenora and I will be making occasional trips to both those areas in the coming weeks. A return to I-Falls!!!
 
Speaking of Elder Perkins, he is so funny. He makes me laugh a bunch, but what really gets me to laugh is that he won't eat his veggies. Won't. I try to trick him into it...doesn't work. We had a guy invite us in for supper last night and he had veggie stew and Elder Perkins eyes got huge and he struggled through the entire meal. Ha. He also doesn't like fish and does not know how to tell this world-class-fishing town's people that he does not want Walleye. Ha. He reminds me how I have really expanded my horizons and taste buds. I like just about anything nowadays. Even brussel sprouts and all that stuff, I still do it and down it. Fish is good. Also, Elder Perkins has been teasing me about how "old" I am in the mission and he brought to mind something VERY SCARY: The number of months left on my mission is now in the single digits. That is terrible! I still have so much to do and to learn!
 
This week I have really tried applying the gospel of Jesus Christ into my life and I feel the power it does bring. It is so cleansing and strengthening, it just takes the humility to sincerely get down on your knees and repent and ask for forgiveness and right the wrong. What a concept! The basics of the gospel can sometimes be the most difficult. I love learning about all sorts of things, but it's in the BEing of things and living beliefs that the joy comes. Again, what a concept.
 
I sure love you all. Thanks for everything. My plan for the afternoon is to buy a pumpkin and carve something amazing into it. I will let you know how that goes. I will keep you all in my prayers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall is here


Rain and snow today! This past week the wind has been blowing and howling and the temperatures have plummeted to around freezing. I am still not used to this when it is still only mid-October. 2 weeks ago it had been about 75 for a number of days in a row and my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys because they are still thawing out. Phew.

I guess you probably would like to know some about my new companion Elder Perkins. Let's see...this will be more fun if I hint at things first, then tell you the reality: he is bigger than I am, plays sports, wants to work hard (and stay in the field!).....is 6'3" and weighs 300 lbs, played college football on the offensive line and brings that kind of work-ethic into Kenora. Alright! Let's go to work! We have already had tons of stories--mostly good ones--after only 1/2 a week. The first night a member prepared an interesting stew for us...it was really good, especially the fact that we were eating bear meat. Seriously. Really good too. The next night a Mennonite family invited us in for their Sabbath supper and fed us Bison meatballs. Tasted great. Saturday we knocked on a door and a guy offered us a piece of cow tongue. Guess who ate some?! Didn't really like that so much, it left a gross aftertaste, but I definitely ate it! (Even with all the crazy foods I have eaten on my mission, I still can't down tomatoes, they are just wrong...)
 
                Elder Galbraith, Elder Woods (TJ's trainer), and Elder Perkins
 
Some spiritual things...I really liked a quote from President Paulson during the trainers and new missionaries meeting: "The Lord disguises His miracles to the world as coincidences." I am pretty sure you would absolutely agree, but to further illustrate the point, let me share a story from a set of sister missionaries up in Saskatoon back in March or so: These 2 sister missionaries were walking along the street (as many missionaries commonly do) and 1 of them saw an onion on the side of the road and passed by it. The other, following along, stopped and picked it up, after seeing that it looked like it was still fresh from the store. The first asked, "Why did you pick up that onion?" The 2nd responded, "I don't know", but continued as if nothing happened. Just a short ways up the street they saw another onion. The same thing happened: the 1st sister missionary passed it by and the 2nd picked it up, and the same conversation took place. Now, both of these sisters ARE NORMAL, just to put that out there! Continuing along the street they saw an apple and this time the 1st sister picked it up thinking, "why not?" Now that they had these 3 items, they paused and decided that they should visit a nearby grocery store and see if a shopper had reported losing any food. They found one close by and talked to the manager and the manager referred them to the produce section, where they went. When they arrived back there, the worker at the produce section approached them and asked who they were. They said they were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon hearing that he turned around and went to the back of the store...and returned with a Book of Mormon and said "I have a few questions for you". 1 month later he was baptized. 1 month. Miracles happen, and can happen in the strangest ways. Honestly, who would think of grabbing and pocketing an onion on the side of the road--multiple onions--and then to return them to a grocery store? Who would do that? Who would do that unless inspired by the Holy Ghost to do so? That grocery-store worker had been prepared and the Lord saw fit to lead those sister missionaries to him while at work. Truly, as President Paulson said, "The Lord disguises His miracles to the world as coincidences."

Speaking of scripture mastery, I was hoping that you would be able to send a scripture mastery card with all 4 years of seminary scriptures on it. They shouldn't be much, and I have seen them before. There are cards that have all 4 years on that one card. Good for you Mom to try that. I have been terrible at memorizing scriptures and Elder Duncan of the Seventy urged us to do so. I figured I can always trust a General Authority, right?

I really liked Dad's comments on faith. I think I have mentioned a number of times that I am a huge proponent of faith and works, and faith in action. 2 Nephi 25:23 and 2 Nephi 25:26 are 2 of my all-time favorite scriptures. We are saved by the Lord's grace after all we can do. We do our part by obeying the Lord's commandments (why else would he give them to us?) and by doing so we show God that we really DO want to follow Him--even to the point of giving certain habits and activities up--but we cannot be saved by ourselves. The grace of God is what saves us, after we do all we can to show we really sincerely want to follow God. SAVED BY GRACE AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. Simple enough. This past week I reread a Conference talk from April that I really like called "What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?" I reread it a couple of times and gained a few ideas about the type of missionary I need to BE in Kenora. I need to BE a missionary, not just DO missionary things. You catch on? It has helped a lot, and Elder Perkins and I have already found so much success. We have already got 11 appointments set up this week and many are with new people we are excited to work with and have so much potential. We had to drop the baptismal date (BD) with Lauri because she needs to come to a minimum of 3 times to church prior to baptism and she only had 2 Sundays to do so, but while tracting yesterday we were let in and set one with a young father named Leo! Way exciting. He was glued to the Restoration pamphlet after we gave it to him after the lesson. I love seeing that. Lots of good things happening here, and I expect more good things to come. Thank you Mike for your loving email, I needed help refocusing, and it drove me to BE better.

You mentioned Kalai, and you should search for the song "Onward Christian Soldiers" by him. A very interesting rendition that frankly annoyed me when I first heard it, but I really enjoy his unique style. Hope that helps. No, I have not received anything from Grandma Jeannette lately, but I did send something off to her 3 or 4 weeks ago.

Way to be Jared Tryon! I love that kid more and more. Leading the choir, eh? Probably just prepping him for leading Mo-Tab someday. He could if he keeps up all the music he is doing. I love the Tryon's weekly letters too, oh, so good, and I literally CANNOT wait to see this year's pumpkins. I still have last year's taped to the wall. That impressive. Uncle Robert turns 70 on Halloween? That is scary. Ha. Go BYU. Way to be UW, someone told me they were #22 and I did not believe them.

That is about it. I love you and thank you for your emails and support. Godspeed, continue praying for Kenora, I will continue praying for the house.

Elder Galbraith


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


The geese are heading south--the end is near. Winter is coming.

I greatly appreciate the email from my parents with many powerful scriptures and the needed encouragement. Thanks to Kim for responding to my letter and providing her spiritual insights, and to Mike for his encouraging email. Surely the past few weeks have been difficult and unfocusing, yet I have never stopped working. I feel that the hardest part has past and the end is in sight because I know that I am heading back to Kenora and getting a new companion--a brand new companion, again. Yes, I will be training again and this time I will be a district leader in Ontario. I know that these responsibilities will help me refocus on my missionary purpose. I think what I lacked to do was set goals for improving myself. I was so set on helping another person that I neglected setting goals for improving myself and then the past few weeks have been so tumultuous for me that it has been hard to really get my feet planted, so-to-speak. (I am in southern Winnipeg if I didn't tell you, sorry to Aunt Susan and family for not visiting them--so much going on!)

I will begin with the more important things to include:
Reflecting on General Conference, I wanted a spiritual reconfirmation of a few important truths, because PMG (Preach My Gospel) asks us to frequently go to the Lord and reconfirm our testimonies of important truths, like the Book of Mormon. I have struggled with that counsel because in the Doctrine and Covenants section 6, 8 or 9 (somewhere there) the Lord tells Oliver Cowdery to "cast his mind upon the night that [he] cried unto him...did [God] not speak peace concerning the matter?" So I have always looked back to a certain event that was a very spiritual event that confirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to me, and I have felt somewhat guilty asking of the Lord because I instantly think about "did I not speak peace concerning the matter?" So I have not reconfirmed that testimony, not that I do not believe it is true! I do! I brought this dilemma up to my district leader and he pointed a few things out to me: He pointed out that to ask an important question flippantly, without really putting in the required effort, would be wrong, but, as PMG tells us to do, to seriously study and reconfirm our testimonies, especially of the Book of Mormon.

SO.....what I have been leading up to was that I went to General Conference seeking to reconfirm my testimony of the Book of Mormon and I cannot remember exactly when or who was speaking when I felt the peace and the impression "yes, the Book of Mormon is true". What a comfort. I took something like 13 or 14 pages of notes from General Conference! Yikes. It was all so good, and quite the struggle because we needed to be in Dryden during the whole weekend and I could not get ahold of the people I wanted to remind about General Conference and no-one came out in Kenora. I was stressed and pretty frustrated about the whole situation that I could not be in my area during such an important event and remind investigators to come. I had also invited MANY people on the street with cards that I had made and laminated and I will never know if they came or not. So there was a lot of frustration there, but General Conference itself provided a lot of relief. I definitely needed it. Nothing is better than General Conference as a missionary. Last Monday in Dryden we were able to find 2 exciting new investigators. Because its been over a week I cannot remember what their names were...wait, Darren and George. They are great and it was another confirmation that the Lord is preparing people to accept His word.

I really enjoyed Pres. Monson's talk about being prepared to share the gospel and our testimonies. We have to stand as witnesses, and every week we take Christ's name upon us when we partake of the sacrament. We have to stand for good, for right, and to stand up for what we believe in. He had a quote that was something like "when the time comes, the time for preparation has passed". Something like that. I loved his story about being on the bus in Texas and the bus driver asking if anyone knew anything about the Mormons. The scripture he shared was 1 Peter 3:15, and it is a scripture that I have recently begun using to try to motivate members to do missionary work. Be ready to share the gospel and your testimony, and not being afraid of referring them to the missionaries.

I don't have time to share insights from Zone Conference, but Elder Kevin Duncan (who spoke in April''s Gen. Conf.) attended and instructed us on a number of things, mainly working with branches and wards better and getting members involved. Took lots more notes.

Well I have got to go because I have limited time on the computers in Dryden, but I did want to mention that I do know that the Gospel has been restored and that the Book of Mormon is true. No argument against it stands, and the Spirit has testified to me it is true, and because of that confirmation to me, I will not waver. Some fun things from the past week: I saw 5 bears! 4 in a tree in Kenora, and 1 in Dryden...a guy we tracted into offered us a ride in his 1930 Model A. An investigator here in Winnipeg dominated the 3rd hour discussion...and Fall is my favorite time of year. Thanks to everyone for your support! I love you all greatly.

Elder Galbraith

No pictures here (again), I need a cable to connect to the computers and didn't bring it. Have to wait another week...Thank you Mom and Dad for all the spiritual insights--they are THE most important part of your letters, honestly. Keep allowing your testimonies to shine through, and make sure you are progressing your testimonies, or else you ARE regressing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Golfing ! ? !


To be clear...Elder Pacis is long gone and is back in Washington.  I am in Dryden, Ontario working with another set of missionaries for a week then I am being sent into southern Winnipeg for a week and---not totally sure, but hopefully---going back to Kenora.  Kenora is proving to be a refining place, but I have the desire to go back and "finish what I started".

Now what I wanted to do for my email was to attach a picture of me golfing because I TOTALLY WENT GOLFING TODAY!  I wanted to just send a picture of me on the tee box and wait and send the big email later and see what you thought.  I took tons of pictures but these computers in Dryden are from the stone-age and won't accept my SD card, so you all will have to wait on the pictures and videos.  We played 9 holes and one of the missionaries kept score.  Even without golfing for over a year I still have got it!  I shot 43, (on a) par 36 with a couple of big drives.  As Bro. Crandall would say, I played with a couple of "amateur gomers", but it was SO fun.  I stepped up to the first tee without any practice swings or anything and belted a 265-yard drive dead straight down the fairway.  Still got it!  (Still humble, too!)  My short game was garbage but I managed to play with what I had and roll with it.  Problem was that the junky clubs I was playing with (rentals) hit the ball WAY too far.  I tagged my 8 iron over 200 yards, and it had a beautiful 8 iron arc, not like I hit it poorly or anything.  On the last hole I belted a PW about 170 yards and went about 40 yards past the green.  These clubs were insane, but so was my competition.  My furthest drive was 280 yards, dead straight down the fairway on hole 8.  Not bad for using a real wood driver.  I forgot how fun golf can be.  I'm glad I see the fun side and not the frustrating side of golf.  Club rentals, 4 balls and 9 holes for $11.  Ka-ching!

Northwestern Ontario is my absolute favorite place to be in the summer and fall.  I have NEVER seen so many vibrant colors before.  Wow!  I love the leaves on the streets, the lakes, the wetlands, everything...

Almost forgot I was emailing because I was dreaming there for a bit:  golf and leaves...back to missionary work.  Yes, the past few weeks have been some of the most trying weeks on my mission for so many reasons.  I won't go into it, but wow, it’s been so mentally grueling, and Conference was a huge relief.  I loved Elder Holland's and Elder Callister's talks the most.  I have used that 2-point analogy on my mission a lot.  Makes sense how by having 1 dot you can draw many lines through it (many interpretations of the Bible), but by having 2 dots (2 testaments of Christ) you can only draw 1 line through them--1 interpretation.  Makes sense, eh? I will show you dozens more analogies when I get home...they are limitless.  I like playing this game called "Telephone Pictionary" to illustrate the Great Apostasy.  Still haven't totally given up games!  Works great too.  Even though the past few weeks have been difficult, Zone Conference is in Winnipeg this week and I am excited for that and to see many missionary friends and then (hopefully) go back to Kenora next transfer.  Transfer calls are this week, and I should know by next week what my fate will be.  I will go anywhere and do anything, but I would love to stay in Kenora.

Do you remember in Conference when President Monson quoted an obscure scripture about being ready to share the gospel and your testimony when called upon to do so?  Well, I found that scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 about 2 weeks ago and have been telling people in Kenora to "be ready alway to give an answer for the hope within you".  I think that is it, I am not great at memorizing yet.  I thought that was really neat!  I liked when Sis. Dalton said that fathers spending time with children creates lasting memories.  It is so true.  Dad, you may not remember many things, but you will be surprised at the amount of things I remember.  I still remember when you took me to the redone original Star Wars movies, I still remember bike rides in Grasslawn.  That is the power of those memories!  Thank you so much for those memories. But they aren't done, let’s make our way back up to Seattle next October and go to the Car Show!

I am still praying for the house!

Hey, the mission office wants to know the email I use back home. Good question. What is it?

Love ya much, I will include pictures next week (if the computer will let me). The time on the computers in Dryden is almost up, super short. Love you!

Elder Galbraith