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".