Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring? What spring?

The past week has been colder again in International Falls - highs below freezing and lows just below zero.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the package I got! I got it and your note on Monday night. It was very well-timed, I love you 2. Speaking of mail/packages, I am heading into Winnipeg later today for Zone Meeting, and will get mail. Because I have not picked up mail since about Valentine's Day, there may be people waiting responses to letters they wrote a while ago that I still haven't seen. Patience please.

So this week was another good week in the Falls. You know Dad, you said it's cold up here and that I need to brace myself for more cold—it’s not cold! Whether I like it or not, I am turning into one of those "up-north tough guys" who think anything above freezing is not cold. My favorite temperature is actually just below freezing and sunny, because tracting isn't muddy, the mosquitoes won't be out (not out yet, but probably soon), everything is just good! In weather like that I wear a summer jacket and I feel great and actually a little warm. I remember Auntie Susan saying that by March or so that I would think that temperatures about freezing would be t-shirt weather. I thought, "ya right",’s true. I do actually like this winter, but I have missed the morning fog and light showers from back home.

This week had some interesting stuff happen. Mom will love to know that Elder Morris and I actually fed a snake that an investigator has. We fed it baby mice and the snake was so fast! You blink and you miss the sudden snap! The investigator is Anna, our baptismal date we set last week (for April 23rd) and she went to visit family this weekend so she could watch General Conference next weekend, or else she would have visited family instead of Conference. She is in her mid-20s or so. She thought her father would be against the idea of her joining the Church because he is a non-denominational pastor--we'll see what happens when she comes back. She is working at overcoming smoking and coffee and has wanted to overcome them for a while, so its relieving knowing that she has the desire to overcome that. Sometimes that is the hard part, getting people to see that overcoming those is a commandment from God and then to actually ACT on that. Faith and works, right?

We met a younger guy at McDonalds one night. He said he wasn't very interested (they all start like that, fyi) but that he had a few questions. Well, I really felt for this guy, Andy. He shared a few dear experiences and said that he is looking for something that he feels is missing in his life, a hole, kind-of-thing. He added that he now feels like life is numb, senseless, without feeling. How depressing a thought! Like I said, I really wanted to help Andy. Like I said, he asked a number of questions and we shared our testimonies and some experiences that we felt might help. The Atonement of Jesus Christ really is our ultimate hope! Through it, God's great Plan of Salvation can work and we all can return to live with Him again. By Adam came mortality and death, while by Christ came immortality and eternal life. Don't quote me on that, I read from the Ensign this morning. By the way Mom, Elder Morris and I have been reading through recent Church magazines and I have actually read a few New Eras. To those who don't know what I am talking about, I hated reading the New Era because it was so corny and I always could predict the ending to every story. As a missionary its not too much different, but they occasionally can make for interesting and spiritual reading. Proud of me? There was this one story I got really into about a girl going on a trip with just her mom and best friend. A non-member who she really didn't know, approached this girl and asked if she could come along too. I found myself nearly begging the girl out loud to invite this non-member along. Yes, yes....only a missionary would do something like that. Once I realized what I was doing, I knew I had to tell my Mom that I got really into a story in the New Era.

I'm a missionary, and I looked at my ties this week and had a great thought. I used to think that giving someone a tie was the worst possible Christmas/birthday present, but now that I am a missionary, it is the best! Think about it--I wear a white shirt and dark pants every day, every missionary does, so what sets every missionary apart is their ties. It’s the one thing we can switch, so we missionaries love having good ties to wear. I have no idea what I am going to do with all my ties after the mission though....

Hey, so I am going to tell you a little bit about Elder Morris, because I don't think I have told you very much about him. He is probably the most determined missionary I have ever met, and is certainly the best goal setter and achiever that I have ever met. With that, he is a goof in the apartment. And maybe what I will remember best is his inability to remember people's names. We are always laughing because he inherited his dad's "trait" of instantly forgetting people's names. This past week we were teaching a Karen and Elder Morris invited her to be baptized when she received answers from her prayers. The only problem is he said "So Kathy, will you...." Oww. I told him afterward and he busted up laughing and got all red. What a guy.

We read Elder Richard G. Scott's talk from last conference about faith and character in priesthood in the Falls and in the Fort. It’s still my favorite talk, and I read it again this morning. It is so good. I urge you to reread some talks from last conference in preparation for this weekend's Gen. Conference. Also, go into Conference with a question. I keep hearing people say to go into Conference with a question and it will be answered. So, I need to come up with a question. Anyway, try it out for yourselves.

You asked for gift ideas last week. Well, I would still like my other flag jacket if possible, another memory card so I can send pictures home, and there is this pull-up bar at KMart here that is like $25 or so, and so I may treat myself to that.

The past couple of weeks I have seen the ability that individuals may have in other’s lives. Elder Cutler quotes Pres. Monson often, and there is one quote I really like: "The power to lead is the power to mislead. The power to mislead is the power to destroy." We ought to be careful with our agency and the way we live our lives, because our lives will have impacts on others, whether we are conscious of it or not. Oh how great the joy is to help another!

Well that's all I have, except that I just remembered that I have been out for 8 months as of today. Careful, pretty fast, EH?

Love you all, especially my family,

Elder Galbraith

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is here!

Acura is running a TV commercial about their cold-weather testing done at a facility near Baudette, MN (about 50 miles west of I-Falls). They end by saying, “If your winter is tougher than this, you don’t need a new car – you need a new place to live.”

I-Falls was the coldest spot in the nation yesterday? (+6 degrees) Not very cold! I am starting to realize I probably will be one of those "it-isn't-cold-out" guys who claims that anything above -40 is t-shirt weather.....ok, maybe not to that degree, but the cold has sure given me a different perspective on weather and thankfulness that I live nowadays where I have heaters. The snow is melting and everything is filthy muddy! Wow it’s muddy. Yesterday there was a light mist for most of the day and it just felt like I was back in the Northwest. Tender mercies...

I like that quote you wrote - "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." Elder Morris and I have that on our table. I feel that we have been blessed with success by the little things that we do to try to be obedient. I have sent you light-hearted pictures and videos the past few weeks of us having fun on P-days...we cannot take pictures while we are out working, so from pictures you really only get to see the lighter side of missionary work (on p-days). I learned a lesson this past week that I'd like to share regarding those pictures: last week Dad reminded me to stay focused, and I initially got frustrated by that because I felt like you only saw one side of missionary work and were judging me strictly by that. But as I pondered that parental counsel, I really saw the wisdom in that. As I thought back on that, I felt that you were just lovingly encouraging me to do my best and to give what I have to give. So I made a special effort this past week to do what I could to further the Lord's work. Thanks Dad. This past week we met a very promising young lady to teach, we set a baptismal date, we had Sacrament Meeting's highest attendance since I have been here, and even more. I feel that these things were not coincidental: when I put more into the Lord's work, the Lord gives back. D&C 82:10: the Lord is bound when we do what he says. Now, that success will not always be evidenced by baptismal dates, but it will be there. PMG (
Preach My Gospel) is very specific in saying that a successful missionary is not determined by the number of baptisms he/she has, but by their devotion to the work.

To wrap up my spiritual thought, I thought of Kim as I read 2 Ne. 5:1 this morning. I cannot remember off-hand what exactly it said, but that by substituting Kim's name in there that it had a very applicable meaning. Kim, you are in my prayers daily. Remember D&C 82:10's promise. I look up to you for using the gift of the temple that is near you. I envy you for having (and using!) that supernal gift. Not having a temple nearby is perhaps one the greatest difficulties of missionary work.

I gave a talk in the Fort on agency. It’s one of those topics that you could probably write a 1000-page book on and still have more to write about. What a gift it is. Agency: the gift to choose, use, misuse and/or abuse. Record attendance in the Fort due to visitors: 11. Although I poke fun at that branch occasionally, I really do enjoy the lessons there and the teaching that does take place.

Yesterday we had a lesson with a family in the branch that is very...busy. So Elder Morris and I tried a new tactic to teaching: enacting Book of Mormon stories. We talked about Enos and prayer last time; we decided to switch things up this week and throw in a biblical classic in David and Goliath. Elder Morris kicked it up a notch and cut up an old white shirt and bought 150 feet of string for a buck and made legit slings and we slung marshmallows with the kids. They loved it! I don't know how much they will retain, but I do know that they will remember that lesson for a long time. Our aim is to get them excited about the scriptures.

Ok, which reminds me of an inactive guy we are teaching. He grudgingly let us in his home when we met him a month or so ago, and we gave him a BofM and he started reading and got REALLY into it and was excited to see what would happen next with Nephi and his brothers. He was making ties to gospel principles and invited himself to church! Unheard of! I wanted to get a tape recorder and say "can you say that into the mike again please?" kind-of-thing. He ended up being sick, but I am confident he will attend church soon. All because he read the Book of Mormon. When we read and earnestly study God's scriptures, we cannot help but be captivated! The Book of Mormon has the power to change lives and I have seen it in Marge's life, Edilyn's life, Bro. Oster's life, and now in Brett Eidman's life.

Speaking of Bro. Oster, he is probably laughing at the mention of his name. He google'd Boden Oster and my blog was the first thing that came up and he found my blog! Little trickster! Now he knows that my first name isn't Elder anymore...something like ter-hay or something like that. Which reminds me of a time when I was in high school (still weird saying that) and a substitute teacher was calling role and horrifically butchered my name and then some: "Is ter-ee-uh she here?" Oh, she did not have high marks on my books. It says “Male” right next to the name. Sheesh. I love my first name, just not the way she killed it.

Bro. Oster is a wonderful man. Someday on P-day I will play Monopoly or Risk with him and crush him. You will all definitely hear about that when (not if) it happens. Bring it Bro. Oster!

Anyway, I accidentally left my notes about what I was going to write about back in the apartment, so I am fresh out of what to say. Godspeed. Just remember the best part of the gospel: It’s all true. I love my family!

Elder Galbraith

Monday, March 14, 2011

No transfer for me!

Elder Morris and Elder Galbraith on P-Day a week ago. He says the reason we only see casual pictures is because they do not take pictures while they are proselyting. He says they really do work, not just play around in the snow.

Well, another week up North has passed away. The sun has shown a few times and it’s beginning to get warmer. It’s consistently just about freezing as daytime highs, which feels warm now.

Elder Morris and I are staying together for a third transfer! It’s really rare to stay with a companion for 3 transfers (4 1/2 months), but since we are like peanut butter and jelly, we are just hard to split. However, President did tell Elder Morris that he would be leaving after this upcoming transfer, which ends the end of April. So I will very likely be staying here for 6 months--at least, which I am happy about. I get all the perks of being in a foreign mission, with all the luxuries of being in the States--at the same time.

So I have a few funny stories this week. I got my Minnesota driver's license and saw my picture and thought that my neck looked thicker and I just looked a bit bigger. With that in mind: We visited a recent convert who has a 7 year old. After the lesson the 7 year old saw my scripture box and saw the picture of Brendin, Nate and I on it and asked if that was me (pointing to me). I said yes. She said I looked different. So I decided to exploit the brutal honesty of a small child. I asked her how I looked different...if I looked bigger, smaller, skinnier, fatter, different hair...She said "You look skinnier in the picture." AH! That is what a mission does to you. Now, I am not a chunker, but I am just filling out. Just filling out....Well, I wanted honesty, and I got it. I actually think its funnier more than anything.

But that is not the end of the story. The recent convert grabbed the box and saw the picture of my sister and I. She asked if that was my girlfriend--now, this happens A LOT. I laughed and said it was my sister. Her response was "oh, so how much younger is she than you?" I laughed again, because my sister is older than I am. Kudos to Kim for all the compliments!

Spiritual thoughts....2 Nephi 25:26, 29. Give 100% (on p.100 of BofM) of what we have. We must believe in Christ and act on that faith that we have. Can't you see how passionate I am about faith and works?! I run into a lot of people, and what I see and learn just reinforces that belief an hundredfold. Go and do, sort of thing.

From another short e-mail - "The ancient Jaredite transoceanic migration that lasted 344 days (Ether 6:11) ceases to seem so fantastic when it turns out to be exactly the length of time it takes the Pacific current to go from Asia to Mexico." ---John W. Welch

So I have a birthday gift idea for you. Elder Morris has this astounding book called "The Pocket Reference Book for Missionaries" by Adrian Parker Call Jr. It’s a small spiral-bound book that is so useful.

Teaching a lot of different people, and we have one person that is progressing. Her name is Geri and she is a Jehovah's Witness. She loves the concept of the Spirit World. Nothing much more to report about teaching really.

You mentioned work ethic. Wow, it is so important in the mission field too! Coming out, I thought all missionaries were perfect. I will be the first to tell you that not all are. A missionary's work ethic is very evident and is so vital to the work! I will leave that there for now, but it is something I am passionate about. I saw a great lack of ethic in the workplace at Bellevue Golf Course, and I think they liked me because I actually went out and worked. They would say, "you get things done quickly", when in fact all I did was get things done.

We went to Voyaguer's National Park this past week. The Cutlers took us. It was great! Everything was white, but it was still pretty to see. It was very relaxing just to get out into nature for that short while. Wow, do I miss camping.

That’s about it.

Love you,

Elder Galbraith