Hello Kenora, Ontario!!! Yup, after over 6-1/2 months, I am forced to leave I-Falls and all the good memories behind. Kenora has not had young full-time missionaries for something like 10-15 years, and the past year or so have had a senior couple up there. Now, they are bold enough to send me and an "old" missionary up there. I will be serving with an Elder O'Driscoll, from somewhere east of Provo, Utah. It will be his last transfer, so I will likely serve with him until mid-September and then get a new companion. But Kenora! Sheesh. I hear it is beautiful up there, and it even has hills! Big news. Kenora is either 2 or 3 hours away from Winnipeg and is on the Lake of the Woods. Oh, I am so spoiled!
I leave Thursday morning for Winnipeg for transfer meeting, then Kenora later in the day. What that means is that you probably should not send anything directly to my I-Falls address anymore. Ya, ya, goodbye to the quick and cheap U.S. mail service. I will get you my direct Kenora address next week, I hope, because it looks like we will not move into our apartment for a few days due to some painting...get to live at member's places. Oh boy.
Mike! Mike's baptismal date was originally for this upcoming Friday, but after a call to President we rescheduled it for Wednesday, meaning I will finish off my time here in I-Falls with a baptism! Oh ya! So excited! Mike has quit smoking and is doing so well. He is best fellowshipped by a semi-active member who now has not missed a Sunday in nearly 3 months and....who will be doing the baptism! Now, I can't explain the circumstances until I see you in person after my mission, but let me tell you, that it is a BIG deal that this brother is doing Mike's baptism.
No jokes---yesterday may have been my favorite day so far on my mission. Elder Bodily and I put a special effort into getting people to church this week. On a normal week in I-Falls I have gotten about 2 investigators to church. Yesterday we got 5! We had 9 people commit themselves to come to church, and I feel blessed to have had 5 show up. Mike and his brother Larry came, and Phil, and Connie, and Geri. I had to play the "I have taught you for 7 months" card to get Geri to come to church, but she came, which is a huge deal when you consider her background. Ok, so 5 investigators were at church, and there were 41 people in I-Falls, and 18 in Fort Frances. Big numbers for these places! Brett Eidman gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting (!) and did SO well. Haha, I assigned him to speak on how we can apply the Book of Mormon to today. Wow, he made some great connections using the first 2 books of Nephi. Then, they asked me to share my testimony in both branches because I was leaving. I hadn't cried in a while...not anymore! In each I shared how there is not anything that is not worth sacrificing for the blessings of the Gospel. In I-Falls I shared the experience I had when I prayed whether I should go on a mission or not--powerful! My most-quickly answered prayer without a doubt. In Fort Frances I shared how my family's examples affected me. I cried in both, and it felt so good! In I-Falls I had Phil and Geri come up to me seperately and thank me for what I shared. Phil, the Vietnam War vet, was in tears and we embraced and it was one of the most tender experiences I have had. Oh, he is so close to being baptized...maybe he is ready now? A semi-active sister in Fort Frances asked me to write my testimony down so she could put it in her journal. Now I don't say these things to boast, but those are the moments that you wait for when on a mission! Also, the time of Mike's baptism was finalized yesterday, so I knew that I would be here for it, and the member found out he would be baptizing Mike. All great things. I'm probably missing things too, but those are what are sticking out in my mind right now. And to top it off, we have found investigators in Fort Frances this week, which is something I have literally been unable to do there until the past few weeks. Things are happening here, and its sad to leave, but Elder Bodily and his new companion Elder Mitton (remember him? my MTC companion, still a great missionary) will have a lot to work with. Marlene was unable to come to church because her mom's plumbing pipes burst, yikes. She is the type that is honest about coming but keeps having things creep up. Anyway, a good day, a great week.
Thanks Mom and Dad (and Mike and Kim) for helping me while growing up. The lesson in Priesthood (that I taught) was about eternal families, and I was thinking about the support I had while growing up. I never realized how special it was to me to have my parents, especially my mom, at so many sport events! It built a subconscious trust that enabled me to trust them enough to at least TRY the Gospel. And that is all that the prophet Alma really asks for: to experiment upon the Gospel of Christ and things will happen. So thank you Mom and Dad for your encouragement. I am beginning to realize that there is a whole lot more to parenting than I originally thought. Mike was right when he said that on his mission he saw ways he did and did not want to raise his children, and things he did and did not want to do while raising them. Wow. I say to myself "Seriously?" I'm going to leave it at that.
While you have been freezing, I have been baking! Ugh, it is so humid here!!! I thought I knew what humidity was! Guess not. I walk outside and in 5 seconds my hands are sweaty. In the mornings there is a haze that floats around the trees. It’s like a furnace! The past few days have been 90s. That is way too hot for a place that hit -46F 5 months ago. Way too much fluctuation for me. But it makes it a fun experience and Elder Bodily and I have moved our mattresses out of our bedroom because the AC never gets in there.
Sure love you all, I guess I will email you next from Kenora.