Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

It’s sure Memorial Day, and I am still emailing you from a library. Confused? All I had to do was cross the border and email in Fort Frances library. Too easy. Oh, I love the benefits of having an area that includes 2 countries.

Elder McDowell sang in a Spurs vs. Jazz game?! He mentioned he might in a letter he sent me a while back, but wow! He was able to! So jealous.

I guess the biggest news from this week is what happened at church in the Falls. We had 3 investigators come, and Brett Eidman came--and brought his kids! To remind you, Brett was the inactive guy who we bumped into in January and we finally were able to meet with him in February and he really took off when he read the Book of Mormon. He comes to church every week (missed 3 weeks due to jail time...) and this week he brought his kids! They are 8 and 5, so the oldest could potentially be baptized. Wow. So exciting. More on the work this week...Mike, the chain smoker, had a family emergency down in the Twin Cities and we were not able to meet with him, but we have an appointment set up on Wednesday, so we will see how that comes. We had a great referral from a less-active member of the branch here and we have met with this guy, Thomas, a few times and he seems interested. Thomas is about 20 and is seeking direction and hope in his life. Golden! The hardest part is meeting with him, because he is difficult to catch. Elder Bodily and I invited 2 people to baptism this week. Neither feel they are ready to even set a date, even though they absolutely are. Both will be baptized in the long-term. Their names are Geri, and Connie. Geri is a former Jehovah's Witness and she found that she really does not agree with some of their doctrine due to sacred experiences. Because of her association with that particular group, she is of the mindset that she really has to think things through and totally understand things before acting. Connie is an interesting case, in that she is the mother of a recent convert and Connie believes the Book of Mormon to be scripture, she believes the doctrine of the Plan of Salvation and she believes in Joseph Smith and modern prophets, but is unable to overcome alcohol. She claims to just drink a glass or 2 a night and she does not see the need (or have the desire) to quit. Gah. But she has quit smoking and is reading and praying nearly every day, so she will come along.

This week in church the members got a triple dose of missionaries. In I-Falls, Elder Bodily and I both spoke in Sacrament Meeting, substituted Gospel Doctrine and shared a portion in a special 3rd hour meeting where we helped to unveil the new Branch Mission Plan. Then we spoke in Fort Frances too. Elder Bodily spoke on member-missionary work, and I spoke on some of the importance of missionary work and the effects it can have on people, and I shared some experiences too. Talks are always fun to prepare.

Elder Bodily mentioned one time that his dad was a general contractor and that seemed vaguely interesting. Dad, can you tell me a little about what a General Contractor does, what schooling is necessary and what their general daily schedule might be? Is that something that you may know from your field of work? It seemed interesting and something that was somewhat flexible enough so that I could enjoy my job and spend precious time with family too. Just curious...

We had a few funny experiences this week. I think people are naturally hilarious, whether its how scared they are of people in white shirts and ties, or how people try "burning out" in front of missionaries to be cool or whatever. People are funny, and 2 boys whizzed past us in a moped while shouting some words I won't repeat, but the joke really was on them with what they said and were wearing...People are just funny, especially when it comes to religion.

You mentioned me possibly moving this upcoming transfer? I hope not! Yes, we do find out about transfers later this week, but I expect to stay at least 6 more weeks here, but who knows, President can do what he wants. I would love to stay here and see things continue to improve. We are beginning to visit more less-actives in Fort Frances and hope to see things happen over there, especially with the Osters now deciding to attend over there so they can receive callings (live in Fort Frances, but attended I-Falls because bigger...could not receive callings though, so switched back). Wow I love that family and will miss them when I leave--whenever that is.

Well my mind is going about a million miles an hour, and I think....I think I am out of things to say. Keep I-Falls in your prayers please! Thanks, Love you all, and remember what the best part of the Gospel is.....that it’s all true.


Elder Galbraith

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Canadian, eh?

Happy birthday to Mike today, and happy birthday to my dad on Thursday! Both are not getting older, just wiser.

For whatever reason, this past week was long. It didn't feel long as it was happening, but when I look back at what I did Tuesday and Wednesday, that feels like forever ago. I say that because we set a baptismal date with a guy named Mike Wilcox on Wednesday, and that feels like an eternity ago. Weird. But Mike Wilcox is doing great--he knew the Book of Mormon was true before we met him, and knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I was kind of taken aback, and then invited him to be baptized. Really, his only trouble will be kicking his smoking problem. He smokes like a chimney and every time we walk in there (even if only 5 minutes) we have to go home, change our clothes and shower. Yes, seriously. During an hour-and-a-half visit he went through 6 cigarettes, so yes, he definitely has a challenge to overcome, but I believe he can do it. The date is for June 25th. Your prayers were heard!

Elder Bodily is doing great. He went in for that ear appointment earlier in the week (feels so long ago). He has tiny tubes in each ear to help him hear, and one apparently got plugged with blood somehow. They cleaned it out and bada-bing he is good to go again. He is a tremendous help to me, as he is very bold and just wants to get things done. I can be bold, but he helps me out. I am the type that likes to always be working, and he has some creative ideas about how to go about the work.

I cannot remember if I have mentioned a short movie produced by the Church called the John Tanner Story. Wow, it is so good. It is 20 minutes long and tells of how John Tanner, a member back in the early days of the Church, gave EVERYTHING he had and then some. He understood the Law of Consecration and lived it. I cry at the end of it--every time. Look it up on YouTube or somewhere and watch it for FHE or something.

You are going down to the Munks’ for board games? So jealous. You have to tell all of them hi for me. Win a game or 2 for me too. I miss board games at the Munks’. We have played Risk and Monopoly with Bro. Oster and Boden on a few P-Days, and I love it. I miss board games, but I am still surviving.

Speaking of the Osters, they had us over for supper on Thursday. He marinated the meat for 5 days and then smoked the meat for 12 hours beforehand. Oh ya. So good! I just love them, they are so great to be with. They are heading back to the temple soon, and I am so excited for them. Remember how great the blessings of the temple are! I am not near one, and have not been for 10 months, and sure wish I could attend again. So take advantage of the opportunity to have a temple nearby!

I keep forgetting to tell you about the pumpkins up here. Oh....gross. Pumpkins? In May? Sort of. Many people just leave their pumpkins out after Halloween! Maybe it’s snow? It's disgusting! I am at a doorstep and the remnants of pumpkins are on the side of doorsteps--probably just kicked off--all black, yellow and nasty. Pumpkins in May! Ugh. Please, if you read this, throw your pumpkins away a week or 2 after Halloween. Sick.

I was wondering if you could send me my thumb-drive from school, because I was hoping to put a few Mormon Messages on it, and a few inspirational videos so that I could go to an investigator's place, pop it in their computer, and have different clips/videos right away. I suppose it’s no huge deal if you cannot find it. If you cannot find it, then do not worry about it, but I believe it would be in a school binder, in one of those pouches that I keep pens/pencils/erasers/pencil lead. The pouch is purple, if that helps.

That’s about it. I guess I will mention that I am sewing my International Falls "I-F" pattern into my scripture case. It takes so long! But it will all be worth it when all is said and done.


Elder Galbraith

Looks like spring has arrived. Note Little Red's rope ladder in the foreground.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May rain in Redmond

Some variety in their diet, I guess.

Remember this basketball hoop surrounded by snow? Looks like he fooled us all!

It looks like the weather is much nicer in International Falls than it has been in Redmond. We had record rainfalls over the weekend.

So I am emailing a little earlier today than I normally do because Elder Bodily has some ear problems he is seeing the doctor for and his appointment is for today at 1 (normal email time). He has tubes in his ears and he feels like something just does not feel right. He said he has had this happen before and he does not anticipate this being too big a deal. Long story short: I don't see your email yet, but that is probably because I am emailing earlier than I usually do. Savvy?

Thanks Mike for the ties and funny shirt. I can sympathize with Kelly why she thinks it’s...strange. Those Value Village ties are something else. I can't decide my favorite: the thin brown one, or the really fat one that looks like couch material. Now with that said, I DO wear them! Missionaries love ties! I love ties. Having ties really (for some strange reason) is great, I mean, it’s pretty much the only thing I change in my daily wardrobe, so having good ties is like girls having lots of great outfits to wear.

Thank you Kim for that beautiful tie and thoughtful card. Your card is right, it does not matter what our ages are, but that we are loving siblings. I hope you all know that I love you so much and feel bad that I do not write you as many letters as I wish I would.

Thank you Auntie Sharon for your card as well. Again, it looks like a common theme that I am not able to write everyone as often as I would like. It's just that it’s difficult in the 9 hours of my P-Day to find time to write everyone, let alone just one person each week. Thanks to the Thompson family as well and their interest in me. Thanks for the cards - they are all very well appreciated.

This has been a strange (but good) week. Went to Winnipeg for Monday and Tuesday, and had District Conference Saturday and Sunday. Zone Meeting (in Winnipeg) was really uplifting and gave me a great spiritual boost and some great ideas for I-Falls. The Spirit sure does wonders, eh?

I have been thinking a lot about my general experience as a missionary this past week. Wow. I look back at the kid I was in high school and...I was a bum! I complained about emptying the dish washer for crying out loud! Stupid....I feel like my testimony of the gospel and my work ethic have really grown while I have been on my mission. No wonder the prophet has told all able young men to go on missions! I worry when I see lukewarm members of the church who are not actively working to keep covenants, or who are not actively working to be better. If we are not progressing, we are regressing! All of this sounded so cliche, so "unachievably perfect" to say 9 months ago, but it is said because it’s all so true! Wow! The gospel elevates thoughts, elevates desires and changes lives. I know this because it has done it to me. I feel I am much more prepared to be the kind of person I have always wanted to be now that I am on my mission and am trying harder than ever before to live God's commandments--which DO make me happy. It’s when people DO NOT live them and DO NOT really apply them to their lives that we are unhappy. It’s amazing the changes that come because of service to others. Back in high school I was that 90% kid who only shot for that 90% to get me that A, and then I would do nothing more than I had to, to make sure that I had that A. I wanted to do the same with God. I would have been short-changing the Lord. BYU kicked some work ethic into me, and my mission has kicked some charity and service into me. I am privileged to serve the Lord. I know I am becoming the type of person I have wanted to be all my life. While pondering all this, I thought to myself: "I knew that on my mission I would help to change others, I just did not know that my mission would change me". And, I am sure that my brother would probably agree with that. I cannot stress I strongly I thought that Returned Missionaries were "full-of-it" to a degree and that the changes they say they experienced were nothing more than hyped-up experiences blown out of proportion. NOT TRUE. What I am really getting at is that I have seen so much growth in myself while serving a mission that I otherwise would not have had, and that my testimony is stronger than ever before and that I am more sure of myself than ever before. To wrap this up, I was talking to Elder Bodily earlier this week and I told him that my 8 months at BYU were the most fun I ever had, but my mission (after pondering how it has blessed me and others) has been the best 9 months ever. It took me 9 months to honestly say it, but I can finally say with vigor that my mission has been the best 9 months!

Ok...I will step off my soapbox after that. But I feel a lot better, for sure. I had a lot of those feelings early in the week while driving back from Winnipeg, and then listening to President Paulson's talk at District Conference really reinforced those feelings. It feels good, really good.

Hmm. I didn't write down much other than that. Oh, on Friday night President Paulson came on 2 appointments with us and he was SO bold. Whoa. It reminded me of what I still need to become, in a good way. Elder Bodily and I plan on extending at least 3 baptismal invitations this week to investigators, so stay tuned. This week was great, we got 2 former investigators back (set up appointments with them) and they both have a lot of potential. Elder Bodily is a great companion to have because he is quiet, yet very bold and just wants to get the work done. Interesting combo, but I can handle that. Not much more than that, I probably have forgotten a lot of things but I need to attach some pictures before time runs out. What is the best part of the Gospel? It’s all true.


Elder Galbraith

PS--quick story...yesterday morning I was eating breakfast and I thought Elder Bodily slammed his fist on his study table, but when I looked back at him, he was standing up and looking out the window. He said "come look at this", and I saw a bird struggling in the grass. Yes, a bird flew full-speed into our window, broke his neck and died. We held a burial for him, and named him Speedy, because he must have been speedy to have done what he did, and then ricochet back as far as he did. RIP Speedy the Bird. Ha.

Poor Speedy!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day Call

The much-anticipated call on Mother's Day happened about 6 pm Pacific time, and best of all, we were able to use Skype, so it was a video call. Elder Galbraith looks and sounds great, and from all reports that have come back to us, he is doing an excellent job of representing himself, his family, and the Church. People say he is a great missionary, but those who know him well would have expected nothing less.

He and Elder Bodily were off to Winnipeg for zone meetings yesterday, and because we had just spent an hour talking, there isn't a letter to share this week.. I have included a couple of pictures relating to last week's post, and a short video of Little Red and the rope ladder.

At the Wildlife Reserve

The Muscle-Car Museum

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy May Day (a day late)

I forgot my planner at the apartment with all my little notes and things to write about, so this will probably be pretty scattered. I am sure you will forgive me.

Friday it was over 70 degrees! And then Sunday morning it snowed, bringing everything back into reality. No 9-foot tall snowman this time. It's nice out now though.

I want to thank the Griffiths for their card they sent a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of home-teachers while someone was on a mission, but I like the sound of that! I will try to get something off to them sometime.

Oh, I need to tell you about my epic adventure to the "Gentile Bear Man of Emo". So I think I told you about the crazy bear stories and bear sightings going on, so here is one for the ages: Seeing as I have not seen a bear, I was all hyped up to go to this Bear Preserve and some wild bear. Well, we drove the hour to the Reserve bears. Are you kidding me? No bears. The guy said that he was surprised that he had only seen a few, and that they should be coming out of hibernation soon. Psh. He was crazy--he believes the Bible and God and Christ but will not call himself a Christian because he claims it is an improper title or something. Lots of really weird stuff. But, he DOES feed bears donuts by his mouth. Interesting. I thought the whole trip was kind of funny, but there was a very bright spot to the trip: I FINALLY saw a new Charger. Oh, they are pretty cars. AND, I saw a Mercedes SLS AMG cruising Fort Frances of all places! What the?! I know what I saw, and it was white and really nice. They look ugly in pictures, but pretty in person. Speaking of cars, I am the driver in our companionship, and I am loving it. So that all about bears and cars, you probably want to hear about my new companion.

Well, his name is still Elder Bodily, and though I miss Elder Morris a lot, Elder Bodily is a great one. He is a farmboy and a great worker, so humble, and so determined! Just the kind of missionary I like to serve with: a good worker. We have a lot of things planned to help accelerate the area, it should be good. He and I will do really well together.

The past couple of weeks I have felt like I am much more missionary-minded. I have made a conscious effort to be more energetic about the work, and that has helped me a bunch. I am still sincere, just much more outgoing in every way. I find that I am more involved in the work and more passionate about it--I mean, for goodness sakes, I had a dream 2 nights ago that I was sharing my testimony at church. ONLY MISSIONARIES HAVE DREAMS LIKE THAT, sheesh. If I had told myself 9 months ago I would have dreams like that I probably would have thought I would be on something...nope, just the Gospel. Now that I have been completely and utterly immersed in the Gospel for a while, I can see changes in my outlook on life, throughout the day, about my own salvation and others...I guess I just view the world in a more positive light. I can seriously understand why RMs are so weird after they eat, sleep and dream the gospel, ha.

International Falls still has a special excitement about it. We are beginning to teach more people, they just won't come to church. So frustrating! Ridiculous. Please pray that our investigators will come to church. Those Sunday mornings...they are the most stressful times that missionaries have. Ugh. Its the waiting game, and its terrible. But I signed up for it, right?

Next Sunday is a special Sunday for mothers everywhere, especially missionary-mothers. So Mom and Dad, Elder Craig Cutler will be making contact with you sometime this week about trying to setup Skype. I gave him my name, so you may have to use my (MY former laptop perhaps) laptop to do Skype. Just open the Skype program and search for a Craig Cutler from Shelley, Idaho if he has not already searched you out. Hopefully all will work out and we should be able to Skype about 8pm my time, so about 6 your time. I can only do it at night because I have church twice and then supper at 5 my time. It we can do 8 my time, I can get in about an hour's worth or two of work beforehand. If that does not work and you need to call earlier, call me about 7 or so (my time, 2 hours ahead). I expect that you will not abuse my phone number, but just to call if Skype does not work out, so here it is: xxx-xxx-xxxx. (Sorry, edited out by Dad) I love you all so much, just remember that the best part of the Gospel is that its all true. AND that happiness will come as we learn of it and strive to live it to the absolute best of our abilities.

Elder Galbraith

PS--Elder Morris and I built a squirrel bridge for a red squirrel that is always running around in the field by our apartment. He finally started using the bridge and comes and eats some peanuts we leave for him. His name is Little Red. He is the best, and his presence spices up the area. He came up that ladder 16 times between 7 and 8:30 Sunday morning. Sheesh. And there will be a picture of a place in Warroad that has something like 50 classic muscle cars, and it wasn't open when we passed through, so I just snapped a picture of inside...oh wow...and there is a picture of the Bear Man in Emo...