Monday, January 31, 2011

January's gone!

Our labors from prior weeks paid off this week. We taught 16 lessons, 6 on Saturday. I called the District Leader and said "I-Falls is....back!" The work is picking back up, and is all good. And even better, Elder Morris and I are staying together! This will be my first experience where something (companion/area) did not change. Elder Morris is going to be a good one to have that "first" with. The other missionaries in Warroad Minnesota are getting moved out, so that means that Elder Morris and I are the only missionaries in the States in the Canada Winnipeg Mission! Ha, It’s great...I cross the border quite a bit...being out in an outlying area (I-Falls is 5 hours away from the nearest missionaries now) is so fun, it feels like we have free reign to go anywhere. I mean, we went to this small town in Ontario called Emo (yes, really), which is 30k's from Fort Francis and we drove out there in a blizzard. Backing up---on Tuesday we met an inactive man in the sticks past Fort Francis and his interesting. Really interesting. I mean, this guy built a sweat-lodge in his backyard for himself. He told us how he can talk to bears, and more. Another lady we visited with last night told us some gross things she claimed to know about Joseph Smith, but I am NOT going to write those. What I am getting at is, there are some interesting visits that keep me on my toes. Don't worry about the other lessons we teach, they are "on-track" if you catch my drift.

Oh, my belt looks so good.
It took almost 4 hours to make! I struggled to decide what to put on it, because I wanted it to be good, of course, but also unique and not boring. So, I put CWM GALBRAITH BYU, with a unicorn stamp and a wolf-howling-at-the-moon stamp to provide some flavor. It looks good, let me tell you, and the belt buckles--oh yea.

Missionary companionships get copies of the Ensign, but when Conference issues roll around, we only get one, so I would please ask that you send me a personal copy that I can go through and mark up. That little Book of Mormon would make for a great b-day present, by the way.

No blender here, so I have not yet made a recipe that Auntie Sharon gave me for soup, but Elder Morris and I will pick one up in Winnipeg when we head in for District Meeting sometime next transfer.

Ok, ok, now for the IMPORTANT stuff.
Yesterday at church, there were 3 car guys who drove prototypes and fleet vehicles and ran tests for Hyundai. Ya, needless to say, I asked them a few questions. They took Mechanical Engineering classes, so I may switch my major...But oh, oh, what a great week for cars! I saw the new Dodge Durango--gross. Looks like a normal SUV that has had a few too many Pillsbury Dough Boy treats. I also saw a concept/prototype from Ford. Looked like it could be or should be the new Ranger. The car had its labels and emblems all taken off, but you can't fool these eyes: that was the next Ford Ranger. But it was a 4 door. I didn't think they made 4 door Rangers now. This Ranger looked like an egg up front, weird stuff for sure. So, these car guys at church told me they were driving around a fleet of about 8 cars, one of which was an unreleased Genesis coupe with an 8 speed. An 8 speed in a sports car? What the...?

So my scriptures for the week: 2 Nephi 25:23, Matt 7:21, which both proclaim that we have to DO SOMETHING (works) to get to heaven, but that it is ultimately through God's grace that we are saved. James states it best, "faith without works is dead".
Nephi eloquently says in that verse that it is through grace that we are saved after all we can do. See, passages where the Book of Mormon and the Bible work together. Also, 2 Nephi 25:26 is a great verse too, I will let you look that up.

On my 6-month mark (past Friday) I got letters from Mike and Kim, and a package from Brendin!
What great bump-day presents! I took a video of me opening Brendin's package, but it is too big to send through email. Sorry Bern. I still love you bro, and really appreciate all the goodies and stuff. All are going to be put to good use. I can be the "candy-man" of Canada that Bro. Litchfield was back in K1, with all those Tootsie-Rolls! Thanks you Tasha for the great letters, and ya, please send pictures! Pictures are golden Christmas presents, so...all that read that, you now know that pictures are the best!

Elder Morris and I taught the brightest 8 year-old I have ever met. His name is Boden Oster, and his family has been less-active for 11 years, and they came to church yesterday!
They live in Fort Francis but came to I-Falls, but still! I saw a love in their family that I do not think I have seen since I have been out. Family love is so rare! It really made me appreciate my own family and my own friends. I love all my friends, but I love my family SO much! It’s hard to express it through emails, but I really do love my family and the tremendous examples they are to me. They know the things that I look up to them for, and I again express my love and appreciation for them. I love you guys. I do enjoy hearing the highs and lows from my family, because family endures it together, and it helps me to feel a like I am still involved in my family somewhat. Family sticks it out with family. I love my family...I haven't cried very much on my mission, but I am crying now...You may not see me reading your letters or emails, but they are greatly appreciated.

While talking about family, Mike, I did meet that Elder Fisher once.
Ha, ya, he was from Magrath. So I kind of hastily sent those pictures off to you, but those were taken when that reflexologist in Saskatoon was working on me. I guess what I wanted you to notice was that my feet seem to connect up with my legs at an awkward angle, that my lower legs bow just below the knee and just above the ankle. That bowing apparently affects my upper back. My back is just uncomfortable after sitting for a little while and cracks easily. Ugh. The reflexologist said that the bowing in my legs has a direct link to my back and claims that the real "fix" is in my legs.

As far as investigators go, we woke up Zack and got him a ride to church.
He talks a lot, and I am not sure on his commitment level, but him coming to church helps the cause. His friend Tiffany whom we visit with, seems more interested. We will see. For now, we teach those 2 and another friend they have, Michelle, all together. That is a bit difficult to do because they all have different needs, but they would like to meet together. Other good investigators are Jeff and Desiree, an unmarried couple we are working with, and a single guy named Chris. They are both promising but I am now running low on time. I am meeting with them both within the next 2 days. Love you all, Godspeed.
Elder Galbraith

Monday, January 24, 2011

Heat Wave

International Falls was the cold spot in the nation on Friday, at -46, and again yesterday, at -37. Most other days the past two weeks, the extreme low has been within 50-75 miles of International Falls. Then it warmed up and was 11 degrees at about 11 pm last night - that's almost 50 degrees difference. (Sounds like Southern Alberta when a chinook blows in.)

Yep, it’s been cold. The morning that it was -46 I walked outside (@6:30 in p-jays just to feel how sub minus 40 feels. Weird things start to happen when it’s that cold! You take a breath and it just feels like you cannot get enough was so exciting! Just after that Elder Morris and I boiled water and threw it outside...yup, it vaporized before hitting the ground. Oh ya. We have been tracting in the cold, and it’s been mid -20s (C) for much of the past week. I am SO excited that I-Falls was the coldest place in the nation (twice!) this past week, while I am here! It makes the cold worth it. And, now I can finally say I know cold. Sheesh. There were a few days where I heard we literally had "arctic winds", and they sure felt like something from the arctic. It was the first time my nostrils had ever frozen, talk about a weird feeling. But, of course I am excited every time something like that happens and just laugh it off because it will make for great stories down the road. And yes, 10F feels like a warm spell, I mean, I am in a short sleeve white shirt and a light jacket, what is wrong with that?

An interesting week again, aside from the weather. Many more missed appointments, but we always seem to end the weeks on high notes, and this week we did that again to the tune of finding a great new investigator. His name is Zack, and he is the grandson of a member here. Zack is 20, and is looking to learn about "the Mormons" and change his current behavior. It’s situations like this where I just want to take my brain out and throw it at them because I have no idea where to even start, and just am so excited I have someone who is willing to listen. I feel that Elder Morris and I have built up a solid teaching pool here and will begin to really teach more this week.

One of our teaching appointments was with a stout "Born-again". Sheesh. It is so difficult to visit with someone who just has the intentions of proving me wrong. The whole time I just smiled. What else can I do to a man who literally will not stop talking? Thinking back on this appointment, it was pretty funny. He crossed himself several times in what he said. He thought we knew nothing about the Bible, so he would attempt to explain little things to us. He claimed that John 3:5 claimed that being born of water is at birth, and that some people even give childbirth in swimming pools to fulfill that. Ha...what do you say to that? Ha. Christ was obviously talking to Nicodemus there and he told Nicodemus to be born again, how can that man's interpretation of that scripture prove true, if Nicodemus had to be "born of water again"? Anyway, in preparation for that appointment, I read 3/4 of the way through the book of Acts to make sure I was familiar with the material he was presenting. I just finished the chapter "The Transfiguration" in Jesus the Christ. That book is good stuff!

Going back to that’s really quite funny that so many churches up here tell people all this false doctrine about the Book of Mormon. A lot do! I think it is absolutely hilarious because of Christ's saying "by their fruits ye shall know them". If they preach hate....enough said. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world and anyone conscious enough to read its title page will know that much.

This past week we had a movie night for the Institute here and watched the movie "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration". Wow. I had never seen it before, and it really brings the Spirit and people walk out of that knowing that Joseph Smith was a true prophet (the parallels between Joseph Smith bringing forth the Book of Mormon and the early Christians bringing forth the Bible are amazing). The movie is only an hour and 2 minutes long, so Mom and Dad, I beg you to find a way to watch it for FHE sometime. You cannot help but feel like you are willing to sacrifice anything to share Christ's Gospel. Will you promise me that you will watch it? Then do something with the strength that it adds to your testimony. Gain every little lesson you can from every detail in the movie. See how the prophet labored among others, see how he was a family man. See how pure joy comes as we do good. As a missionary, I testify it does, and I don't use the word "testify" very often. How blessed we are to have the Book of Mormon, knowing the persecution it underwent, and the sacrifices others made so we can have it! Do not take it for granted.

Speaking of the Book of Mormon, I want to jog your memories of a few verses I read from a couple of weeks ago. Mormon 7, do you remember what it says? The last 3 verses clearly state that it was written to testify of, and to strengthen, the Bible. Read it. And, I finished the Book of Mormon while on my mission (and just before). I am reading through the Pearl of Great Price and will probably slowly chug through it as I focus my efforts on the New Testament and Jesus the Christ. Studying goes slowly when I spend about half my time studying the subjects that others need to hear. But its all good.

Thank you so much for the music and belt buckles! It was a 2nd Christmas for sure! Oh, ya! I love seeing those belt buckles again, and am excited to play Jurassic Park and ragtime again. Thank you!

Well, this week we should here about transfer calls. I don't expect much to change on my part (you never know!), and I hope Elder Morris and I stay together. He is stressing that he will leave. Other than that, I have nothing else to say. I'm off to make belts at a member's place. I love my family so much and thank them for their excellent support of me out here.


Elder Galbraith

Monday, January 17, 2011

Long letter!

He must have had extra time on his hands today, because this is really long. Enjoy.

Thanks so much for the mail and package of cookies! Oh, mail is heaven. Thanks to all that have written me in the past few weeks. I went into Winnipeg this past week for a District Meeting and picked up some mail. So, thanks to the Moss family, the Thompsons, Pono, Ashley, Elder McDowell and Alicia for letters. I was extremely excited to see that Lance--Elder McDowell--had written me, that was a great surprise!

What a great email Mom and Dad! It’s great to hear that Mom is searching for missionary opportunities, and I enjoyed hearing about Dad's insights in Matthew 2/Luke 2. Although Elder Morris and I teach Gospel Principles in I-Falls, we get to attend the Gospel Doctrine class in Fort Francis, so I can follow along with you!

I don't think I have told you much about my teaching pool here. Sure, I had another 16 lunched appointments this week, but I need to tell you about who I teach! But first...the light-hearted stuff...

I feel like I am finally mastering the language....Looks like I will be doing those belts next week or so, but if you send my buckles this week, they will probably get here just in time. I have to love the 3-day mail, versus the 2-week stuff up in Canada. So...its funny you mentioned something about not getting cold. It was something like -30F yesterday morning before church. But, the funny part was, that it wasn't all that bad because there was no wind (sorry that Mike may hear that). Ya, no wind! It was great! It was the coldest I had ever been in, but without the wind it wasn't too bad. In fact, I was so excited that it was that cold that I took every opportunity to go outside just in my suit while waiting for people to show up. It wasn't bad, I was only out there for a few minutes, then I would come in. Going from a warm building outside for a few minutes is not very bad at all. Anyone who complains it is cold when they are just walking to the car needs to try tracting in the cold, then their view will change pretty fast. The cold is tolerable, any wind just makes things terrible. Sorry Mike. At least southern Alberta gets chinooks every so often....So you tell me not to freeze. Too late. The past few weeks there have been a few times where my feet will go numb and I won't even realize it. So I have learned to wear boots. Ha, a few times before I put my boots on I would have to thaw my feet out. I would just laugh because I knew I brought it upon myself. I am glad to be somewhere really cold on my mission instead of really hot because if I were in somewhere hot I would be pitting-out like no-other. Instead, I just bundle up, no problem....Moving on, I have mentioned that there is a forest immediately outside our window (like 50 feet), and each morning we see deer, but the best thing to see is this little squirrel that jumps from tree branch to tree branch. Oh, he is so good! We call him Little Red, and we always get excited when we see him prancing around up there. Thought you would like to know the little things about missions, ha....Oh! So, this is pretty much just to my Dad, so Dad, you know how new car models do cold weather testing? I saw 2 cars this past week with the black sheets over them, concealing the unique aspects of the car. One was in a parking lot we were in and I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. It was like the car show all over again! It was great! The car was pretty well concealed, but it was the new Hyundai Equus. Psh, 6 months out and I still know 'em. What now? The problem is that the Hyundai Equus was pretty much the last new car I read about before I left, so from here on out is the dark abyss. I saw the other car from a distance, and it was driving, but I think it was the new Ford Focus, but not positive. So exciting! Ok, now for the last good story: Elder Morris and I visited an inactive family last night for supper. (how does someone go totally inactive but still have a testimony? Sheesh) Upon leaving, they gave us 2 things of meat the husband hunted: some steak, and MOOSE MEAT. Ya, I was so excited to be able to eat moose. As we walked out the door, we thought, "we probably can't cross the border with this stuff." We decided to try anyway. When it was our turn at the window, they asked us all the normal questions and we had to admit we were bringing some meat across. The border patrol guy had us pull over to the side and searched our car. When he found the meat he said, "Hmm. You aren't supposed to bring back hunted meat without having a license. But, since this is such a small quantity, I will let it slide this time." YES!!! So I have moose meat! You know what I will be having tonight.

This past week was a fairly trying one. To preface, last week we set a baptismal date with a man for Feb. 5, knowing that he would have to get married before the baptism. We gave him the baptismal interview questions to read and we read them together, and said he would be fine and ready by Feb. 5. So on Monday we taught the Law of Chastity and apparently he somehow did not realize that in order to obey the Law of Chastity, he would have to be married first before the baptism. He said his fiancee feels like she has to get married in Florida, and they have a date in the fall that she does not want to move. So we do not have a baptismal date anymore. Lots of no-show appointments were rough again, and the trip to Winnipeg took up over 24 hours of our proselyting time. We still taught 9 lessons this week, which is average, but not good for I-Falls. We are kind of in a transition, because the missionary I replaced liked teaching a lot, and taught people, that were not going anywhere, about 3 times a week, so it inflated their numbers somewhat. So I have felt some pressure like I need to perform and teach a lot of lessons. I feel like a lot is expected of me in I-Falls, and a lot is. I felt like I was underperforming by not teaching as many lessons. So, with those 3 or so "eternigators" (eternal investigators that go no-where), we will meet with them once every 2 or 3 weeks until they show promise and do something--like read. (Side note: how hard is it to read for 5 minutes, at least ONCE to tell the missionaries that you have read. SO FRUSTRATING when people do not read or pray or do anything. AT LEAST tell us no or something. So, we are meeting with those people less.) We have been doing a lot of finding AKA tracting here (~15 hours a week), and are beginning to build up a teaching pool. The problem is that people do not have phones here. Ya, it is so weird. In Winnipeg NO-ONE had cars, here no-one has phones. Ok, its something like 1/3 or people do not have a phone. It’s certainly a different America than I am used to. The investigator that had the Baptismal Date is Jeff, and his fiancee is Desiree. They are about 30. We found a man named Chris, who is in his early-mid 20s, and he is searching for truth--the best kind of person to find. We also tracted into an unmarried couple named Tony and Colleen. Hopefully they will be married soon, as the missionaries here are going to really try to push them in that direction. We also teach a man named Gerald, who is impossible to get a hold of, but when we are able to teach him, he receives it well. Kind of shady when people do that...Those are most of the main investigators. Oh, this past week we stopped by a recent convert to see how she was doing and she had someone over to buy a dog from her, and the girl that was buying the dog began asking us questions. I thought, "Wait, aren't I supposed to be the one asking questions?" It was good though, we taught her a lesson right on the spot and she should be coming to Institute here, taught by the great senior couple here in town, the Cutlers. The Cutlers actually live directly across the hall from us, which is handy; he is Branch President in I-Falls, and they are from Shelley, Idaho.

During Insititute this past week (we attend), they had a brief section on temples and showed a few clips from Now, President Cutler had a slideshow as well and put in pictures of the Las Vegas and Seattle temples just for Elder Morris and I, and I have never been so excited to see the temple before. Everyone back home is so lucky to have the chance to attend the temple! Unless I serve in Regina, I do not have the opportunity to attend the temple, and I know a few missionaries that have gone home without being able to attend the temple on their missions. SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! I wanted to attend the temple so badly, so dearly, I almost desperately wanted to attend it. Mom and Dad are so lucky to have a temple 10 minutes from home. I am screaming "ATTEND THE TEMPLE". Can I say it any louder?! While in 2 branches, one just being a remnant of a branch, I see the absolute necessity the temple is in strengthening our testimonies. Attend the temple. I can better see why the prophets want every member worthy or a temple recommend. Attend the temple, because I cannot when I do not serve in Regina. Attend it, learn more about it, read from the scriptures! I now can better see that when individuals, or families, do not attend Church, Pray and Read the scriptures (CPR coincidentally) regularily, daily, it puts them and their testimonies in harm's way, and more susceptible to Satan's army. Put on the whole armor of God by doing these things every day. How hard is it to read for even 5 minutes every night? Not hard! I have little patience with people when they say they are too busy to do all that. Nonsense. Now, I do not show them that I think their excuse is bogus, but I gently push them in the right direction. Agency is so frustrating sometimes. Anyway, go to church weekly, read and pray daily, can you promise me that?

If not, we have to talk. In fact, tell God you don't have time for him. (Can you not tell that I have no patience for this?)

I guess while writing that I realize that I have become much more passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it helps me and helps us all individually. It just takes some effort! Ether 12:4, my mission good. Having Elder Morris as a companion is still great, he loves studies as much as I do, which is a ton.

My spiritual thought for the week: Miracles have not ceased, which means God still works today, and because God still works today, we still have revelations given, and because we still have revelations given, we still need a prophet! Isn't it great? And the best part is its all true! Thank you Adams

I love my family so much, and its weird to think I have been on a mission for nearly 6 months.

Elder Galbraith

PS--while writing that paragraph, I hope you didn't get the impression that I am mad, just that I am passionate about people doing something with God's message to us.

Oh, it feels better getting that off my chest.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January in Minnesota

We have been watching the newspaper every morning to see the coldest place in the lower 48. Probably 6 out of the last 7 days have been withing 50-75 miles of International Falls. He wanted cold!!

Hey, before I forget, I remembered from last week's email...about the printer stuff, it may be in my drawer with all the other manuals and manila folders. Give it a try.

Well I do have the opportunity to speak fairly often here, seeing as I gave 2 talks yesterday. Ok, I gave the same talk once, but I spoke regarding the 8th Article of Faith in both Fort Francis and I-Falls. Isn't it interesting that in the wording of the Article of Faith that the Bible comes first when we, as a LDS culture, tend to put so much emphasis on the Book of Mormon alone? I think it is to show all members everywhere of the importance the Bible has in the Standard Works of the Church. Reading Christ's words in the Gospels is pretty important, wouldn't you think? So, as a missionary, I have now spent more study time in the Bible than I previously did, while not neglecting the Book of Mormon of course. Preach My Gospel chapter 5 and True to the Faith describe our use and importance of the Book of Mormon and the Bible together. Read Mormon 7, the last 3 verses, and that tells you the Book of Mormon and Bible grow together!

Yup, its cold, but not too cold. Our car thermometer is in C, so I still think in Celsius when I say that it has fluctuated between -14C and -24ish. As church began here, it was -32C (No tracting below -40). That was pretty cold, but the wind was not blowing, so its somewhat tolerable. When that wind starts blowing...everything is miserable. I feel for Mike! The wind is terrible. I do not want to live in a place where the wind constantly blows. Remember how I used to say that I did not want to live in a small town, a place that is flat without mountains, or somewhere really cold? Well somewhere windy trumps all that, especially if its cold. Ugh, wind and tracting is the worst combination. Small towns, can be kind of fun. Flat is tolerable as long as there are trees (lots of trees here in Minnesota). So I feel for Mikey - hopefully he isn't outside for too long each day! Love you, Mike!

My back is ok I guess. Nothing new, but I don't lug around a backpack, just a winter coat with a pocket New Testament and a Book of Mormon (not a pocket size). So, somewhere down the line, a small Book of Mormon would probably be the best gift anyone could send, because its lighter, and I don't have to lug around my nice scriptures.

So Auntie Sharon accepted my challenge to read Jesus the Christ? Alright! She will love it, not only for the message it has and its insights, but because of knowledge it brings and its scholarly, well-thought-out presentation.

That would be great if you could tell me what Callens says in Gospel Doctrine.

Go Seahawks!

Hey, so mail only takes 3 days to get here! This is great, amazing, spectacular, wonderful!

So my P-Days are a little different out here. Last week Elder Morris and I went running through the woods by our apartment following deer tracks. We videoed the whole epic run into the woods. The snow is 3 feet deep! We never found any deer, and our 20 minute expedition turned into an hour long trek because we got lost. But it was so fun and definitely worth it! So for today we are thinking of going to the Fort Francis chapel and playing ping pong (there is a table and stuff there) and playing the pianos there. So...seeing as I am able to play the pianos on P-Day, I wonder if you could send me my Jurassic Park and ragtime music. I miss that stuff a ton. Don't worry, I will only play it on P-Day! That would be wonderful.

So there is a member here who is going to help us make custom belts. I am so excited! He is going to help us make them next P-Day. I don't know what to put on it! Apparently he has letter stencils and a knife or something so we can do our own custom stuff...This belt will be a P-Day only kind of belt. Problem is that these belts do not come with belt buckles. Well, I may be able to fix could you send me my fancy belt buckles? This is another P-Day only kind of thing, no worries.

So I was thinking the other day...have you heard anything, or do you know anything about Bro. Gaskill? I would love to know how he is doing.

Ok, the last thing I can think of is about the work here. It was a trying week. Lots of ups and downs. Elder Morris and I found a lot of potential investigators last week and set up appointments this week, but to no avail. 12 total appointments (which is really good for this mission, so-so for the I-Falls standard), and, get this...24 lunched (no-show) appointments. Man! So we are "rethinking our inks" and thinking of different ideas for finding and setting things up. However, we did find a few really promising people. This one guy was playing Xbox (how I remember him )and was way nice and he and his fiance are promising. Good stuff, the work is still progressing up here, we have a baptismal date with someone for Feb.5, but it likely will get pushed back because he needs to get married first, and a few people that are pending. Its frustrating when we cannot get a hold of people and when they do, they miss appointments. But like I said, things are moving along, and we have a positive view on things. Elder Morris and I are working hard, and getting along great. Love you all. Godspeed.

Elder Galbraith

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Previous readers may recall that Elder Galbraith's aunt lives in Winnipeg, had greeted him at the airport when he arrived from the MTC, and had him and his companion over for dinner just before he left for Saskatoon. They were hoping to see him again as he passed through Winnipeg on his way to his new assignment in International Falls, MN. The mission office told Susan that they could show up at the chapel where the missionaries were meeting for transfers, and visit with Elder Galbraith for a short time. She wrote, " . . . it took TJ a second or two to realize it was us, and we definitely surprised him!! It was quite fun to see the look of delight on his face, and I think he teared up a bit - not sure if Brent or the boys agree or not. We gave him big hugs, and then had about 10 minutes to visit." She sent us a couple of pictures, one of which is above.

Here is this week's letter.

Wow. I-Falls is SO different from Saskatoon or Winnipeg! The day after I arrived here it dumped snow, and the day afterward, to combine for about 2 new feet (not using metric anymore, sad day) of snow. So there is about 3 feet of snow here. Some of the plows make HUGE snowdrifts! There is this one intersection in town that is now a round-about because the mound is about 20 feet tall. Most of the roads have big drifts too, ranging from about 4 feet to like 6 or 7 feet. I have seen this in the Cascades before, but never lived in it. I mean, I came from Canada to the U.S., but there is way more snow here than there. What is going on? The cold here is wet cold and is SO different and -12 here feels like -20 in Saskatoon! With that in mind, it was about -26C this morning. It's not just the weather that is different either. People are so nice in small towns! I just thought it was something in the water, but so many people let us talk to them, and set up appointments. Saskatoon and Winnipeg, especially, were not like this!

A little about the branches I serve in...I serve in 2 branches, the International Falls Minnesota branch, and the Fort Francis Ontario branch. Ya, 1 new state and 1 new province. Ka-ching! (For those who don't know, I count how many states and provinces I have been in.) The I-Falls branch is growing, and averages about 30 people to church now. There have been a lot of baptisms here, and some reactivations that have really made the branch bigger. But Fort Francis....oh, it is such a different story...oh. To preface, I-Falls has a small, yet nice, building suited for the branch. Fort Francis has a full-sized chapel, and the works. But Fort Francis is a dying branch. A few years ago I hear it had 70-80 people. Yesterday was typical, and 10 people showed up to church---that includes 4 missionaries (Senior couple, more on them later). Not only that, but the Branch President lives in another branch and commutes there, and there was a visitor from Thompson Manitoba, so there really are only 4 active members in this town. The feeling across the river is very different. I am determined to set that branch back on the right path soon, because there is talk that they are thinking of closing the branch. Not on my watch, forget that. Elder Morris and I are going to do some re-activating there and get it promising again. Sounds like we will spend about 1/2 a day over there a week...but why spend more when I-Falls is so promising?

My new companion Elder Morris is great! He is from Vegas, and is not used to the cold either. But he has been out just over a year and is sort of used to it, at least as used to it as you can get. But he is great, he is a real hard-worker, a friendly personality and he loves golf. Can I ask for much more? I can tell that Elder Morris is one of those people that I will want to see after my mission sometime--that kind of guy. He and Elder Butterfield seem pretty similar, which is a compliment to them both.

In the new Ensign, there Elder Ballard (I think) throws out some statistics about what people think about Latter-day Saints. They are really interesting, but the funniest one really did not have much to do with our church, but it said that something like 10% of people thought that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife. I laughed so hard, and I had just finished reading a letter from the Tryon's so I though Sis. Tryon would get a kick out of it. Thanks again to Sis. Tryon for the weekly letters. She is such a trooper! I'm excited to give her a big hug when I get home...but that is a ways off, so I am not dwelling on that yet.

I read a letter from Auntie Sharon, and she said that she read the Bible a year back. Well, with that in mind, I have been reading the New Testament while reading Jesus the Christ, and now I have decided that I will read the New Testament by my year mark. Considering that I do not often study for myself each day, it will be quite the task. Thanks Auntie Sharon for indirectly helping me set a goal for scripture study! My challenge to her is to read Jesus the Christ. It is intense, and I think she will get a lot from it. Let me know what you think, Auntie Sharon.

Thinking of Ashley Johnson here--sitting at my desk here in I-Falls I see outside into a forest, and I see these crazy red squirrels that jump from tree to tree. They are insane! And I see deer pretty often. Apparently a bear came by last fall and left paw prints on the window below our apartment. Maybe in the spring I will see a bear maul a deer during my Personal Studies...I am crossing my fingers! That would be great!

Dad, I wonder if you could mail me my Priesthood line of authority?

With the New Year in mind, I shared my testimony yesterday and shared my favorite scripture, Ether 12:4. Its message of hope should radiate the entire year, but the New Year reminds us of hope for a great New Year. It reads: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope come of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." That is my favorite scripture! I know that I am a different person because of the Gospel, and I know that it has been an anchor in my life, and of course, Christ's perfect and infinite Atonement is our ultimate source of hope!

To answer your questions: If that printer stuff is not in a box in the attic by the other box, it may be under my desk. If not...good luck, I love ya.

Oh, the Charger news sounds great, I just wish I could see it! Ga! I have seen a few Fiestas already, how good are they? Yup, I am grilling you for more info again. Speaking of which, I bought a Mustang calendar for 2011. I love that thing.

As for pictures, I have already printed off the ones I want, so you just need to send it back. That is all.

Go Seahawks! 7-9, psh, win the Bowl and stick it to all the rest.

I have to be quick and go now, because I only have an hour to email nowadays and got here 15 minutes late, so I love you all so much! The Gospel is great, and as Adams always says, "the best part is, IT’S ALL TRUE".

Elder Galbraith