Monday, August 29, 2011

End of August??

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! 40 years. I've been around for half of that! How does that make you feel? (OLD!!) I remember going and staying with the Crandalls at the beginning of most school years while you went on a brief get-away...Back on track...Exciting for you 2, for sure. Happy Anniversary!

Sounds like the open house went pretty well! Oh, the house definitely looks stunning! Wow. Things seem to be really moving along.

Well, Elder O'Driscoll is on his way out, and we are heading into Winnipeg on Wednesday a day early (transfers on Thursdays) because I am going to be training a brand new missionary! Ha! And the best part is that is all I know about him--nothing. He could be a big Tongan who could squash me, a Mexican who is a soccer star or a skinny little choir kid. I literally know nothing about this missionary, but I will meet him Thursday morning and we will then be heading back to Kenora. Yikes! I guess I am a little nervous, but I am really excited to be able to feed off his "greenie fire" and (hopefully) teach him a few things. If he is willing to work, we will get along.

To answer a few of your questions: numbers at sacrament meeting have been in the ballpark of about 60 people. Lots more than I-Falls and Fort Frances (what I am used to). Nick has been doing just as good as we can ask for: he fed us, so he is good in my book. He has actually fed us a few times now, but this time he fed us breakfast on Sunday morning. Oh, I love my breakfast. Anyway, Elder O'Driscoll and I have started teaching a Filipino guy named Jan, who I am really excited about. Jan the man. He is from the Philippines and saw Church buildings back there, but never asked any questions or talked to missionaries. Probably saw Elder Munk, who knows? No, he has been here for a number of years now and is working here to save up money to bring the rest of his family to Canada. He is in his 20s or 30s (all Filipinos look young) and is super humble. Initially he has said that he only wanted to talk to us to learn new knowledge, but has asked a few sincere questions showing more commitment. Other than that, this past week was another difficult one with a lot of effort and very little results. For example: My patience was beginning to wear thin when a man stopped us on the street and really just wanted to fight over doctrine. We answered his blatantly insulting questions calmly and clearly, but he kept spouting off (people are ridiculous when they are prideful and irrational) and even anti'd a golden contact that we had. He will stand accountable before God one day. Kenora has had more anti-mormon sentiment than all of my areas combined and people's negligent attitudes against us test my character. It's so easy to get frustrated, but I think I am getting better at shrugging it off--or laughing it off when people are super ridiculous. If people only knew what we believed and did not blow it out of proportion...Things began to pick up by Friday, and the past 2 days have been much better and I have had a better attitude as I have gone out.

Saturday night we went out to a member's parent's place - they are the people that have the dogsleds, so they showed us all 16 dogs they have. I took some pictures, and my favorite dog was one named Durango, who had tons of energy. I played around with him and had a blast for a couple of minutes. If I stay here another 2 transfers, I am going to try to do some dogsledding!

Elder O'Driscoll did a mission tradition this week: he burned a suit on his 2 year mark. Our mission is actually 2 years and 1 week, so on a missionary's 2-year mark it is tradition to burn a suit because they are always thrashed. So I got a video of him burning this thing. He doused it with lighter fluid and it was going. I still don't know if I am going to do that or not because my suits are pretty decent, but then again, I have only been out a little over a year...

I am still working on sewing my Kingsmere logo into my scripture case. It takes so long! Still haven't shown you a picture of our Kenora logo--that will come--hopefully next week. You definitely will not be able to guess what this one looks like!

I loved that car article you sent me about the Ford Super Duty! Poor M's...they need to get it in gear! How is Ichiro doing at this point of the season?

Keep up the good work, I am praying for you and the house daily.

Love you,

Elder Galbraith

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gone fishin' (again)

Hey, I am a little late in sending my email today because....I went fishing again! I caught my first walleye! Oh, it was great. The Dryden elders came in for exchanges and so a new missionary, Elder McDanel, and I went fishing off of the same member's dock as last time. Not as many fish as the week before, but still a good amount of fun.

Sounds like a lot is happening! Sheesh, its weird having my family moving and I am not helping or anything. Just stay calm and relax. Although I think Seattle itself is infinitely better than Boise, I do agree that this is a wise move. Everything considered, definitely a wise move. No, the move won't affect me too much because I will probably be at school and such for most of the time. Don't worry about me at all. I have moved through a number of wards/branches lately anyway...Munks going through the same thing right now? K1 will sure be different, but will survive...

We get transfer calls this week. Elder O'Driscoll is wrapping up his mission and I will get a new companion. I have no idea who is coming out. I am pretty sure I will stay here for a while longer. Kenora is essentially Winnipeg's resort town, it is so beautiful here!

Nick is still doing well. He and Crystal came to church yesterday and stayed for Sacrament Meeting. He will definitely get baptized soon as we are just waiting on some paperwork to come through for him. What is challenging is that we do not have any other progressing investigators. We are still finding people to teach, but they are so non-commital! This past week we tracted into a 90 year old who reminded me of Grandma Jeannette because he had more energy and "spunk" than a 6-year-old at a carnival. This guy, Ken, goes on morning and evening jogs, reads his Bible numerous times every day and just prayed for God to lead him to a church. He had some nasty experiences in the past and then prayed to be led back to a church. Then we showed up. We taught him twice this week, but when we showed up for the 3rd appointment he told us that he wanted out and that he would be moving. We know that he had family in town for the weekend, and I am so convinced that his family either anti'd him or scared him out of joining The Church. I call those sorts of people "Agency-thieves" and I cannot stand them. Ken was prepared, but people still have their agency. I have such a testimony that God is preparing people! Either I am terrible at teaching people through referrals, or am just guided by the Spirit as I tract because 4 of the 5 baptisms I have been a part of have been through finding, and we found Nick who will soon be baptized. I don't say that to brag, but I know that the Lord is preparing people! Sometimes it is SO mentally difficult to keep going after hundreds of people slam doors or cuss at you or whatever. I have seen it all, and it all happens often. But people are out there. We have to have the courage and faith to find, then we have to be caring and bold, and guide people to the gospel. But like a horse to water, we can only bring people to the gospel, we cannot force it upon them, nor is that our objective at all. Obviously Heavenly Father's Plan for us is centered on the ability to choose. In fact, he watched 1/3 of all his children rebel in heaven. Imagine his pain as he then watches those spirit children attempt to harass and tear down his other children on earth. He truly is the perfect parent by not intervening and allowing each of us to grow from our trials....yes, I had good studies this morning, if you are wondering!

Oh, I have to tell you about the nasty room we cleaned up at a member's place. This individual that stayed with them literally up and left, and left EVERYTHING! His room was the nastiest pit of garbage I have ever seen. I didn't want to take too many pictures because I was kind of trying to hide the camera so the member didn't feel bad, even though he was amazed at the nasty pit of garbage that was left. I still tried to sheepishly take pictures. The carpet was literally caked in smoke ashes and cigarette butts, and pill bottles were EVERYWHERE (sketchy!). Clothes everywhere, garbage everywhere (he never took it out, just put it in garbage bags and left it), he used a mop bucket I said, nasty! From one room we filled up a truckbed with garbage and filth. Sick nasty! I included pictures and a video. Keep in mind that we had been cleaning the place for about 1/2 an hour by the time I took that video. Seriously.

I really appreciate your updates Mom and Dad, and family. I would like to hear a little more about HOW you are doing and your thoughts, worries and such. I appreciate the events and all that you include, but I would like to hear more about how you are reacting to things like the move. Obviously it is stressful, what else is running through your minds? I want to hear that.

Sure love you all, and I keep you all in my prayers. Enjoy the week with family!

Elder Galbraith

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fish stories - part 2

Wow. Sounds like you will be in Idaho in no-time. I agree that it sounds like the right thing to do, but you know that I will always tease you about moving to Idaho...Idaho? Seriously?!

Things have been pretty mellow this week. Only a few brief stories with dumb rotweillers and trying my first Jones Soda. All in all, kind of a trying week because our baptismal date Nick found out that putting his divorce papers through will take a lot longer than he originally thought (and cost more $), so he won't be getting baptized this weekend, but is still planning on getting baptized sometime in the near future when his divorce papers come through and we can get him married to his current partner. We had to drop our other baptismal dates because both do not want to meet anymore. No motivation for one, and one would only look up anti-material and not give the real stuff a chance. THAT was frustrating. What can I do? I know that I did all that I could do. I would say that our biggest news this week has come through working with a less-active family. I seem to have a knack for less-actives, don't I? Well this family moved here from northern Alberta and was active before, but did not feel comfortable coming to church here for whatever reason, but is excited to come to church now. It is a single mom, Brandy, and her 13 year-old Royce and his baby sister Michaela. They all came to church and Royce invited 2 friends his age who loved it and we taught them and one of them, Cody, really opened up. Cody really asked sincere questions. I mean, how many 14 year-olds ask if God and Jesus are the same person? Not many. If you know of any others, let me know. So we have started teaching them and taught the Great Apostasy using 2 games: one was called Pictionary telephone, and the other was using an empty Jones bottle and smashing it. Good stuff, and they liked it.

We have really been trying to gain the trust of the members here because the last set of elders here really turned the members off of missionary work. On Sunday there were 3 people who said they really trusted us, which was a huge relief. Now, about those referrals...

Things are coming slowly but surely. The past few weeks I have not been as bold with people as I should have been, but I got that in check!

So I finished the New Testament from start to finish a week or so ago and read through most of Kings to get familiar with more of the history of the Old Testament. I remember watching those animated scripture stories. Those things helped! But I am finding that the stories straight from the Bible are pretty ruthless at times. I am picking Acts apart and looking at details of things. Pretty interesting. I am chugging through the Book of Mormon again and am finishing Helaman and the people are in the pride-cycle again. It seems so easy to identify the pride-cycle when it is written like that. While walking through Wal-Mart to buy groceries I really don't think that nowadays is too far behind--extremely prideful and very promiscuous. We constantly have to evaluate ourselves and our spiritual health, and missionaries are definitely no exception! The world can VERY easily suck people in and not spit them out. Be careful!

This morning we went to a few car dealerships in town. The Hyundai dealer didn't have the V8 Genesis--ridiculous. The Chrysler dealer didn't have any new Chargers--big letdown. BUT, the Ford dealer had the new 2012 Boss 302 Mustang. Oh, oh! So good! So pretty. A great way to kick p-day off. Anything new and exciting from the rest of the automotive world? Is there supposed to be a Bronco coming out? Elder O'Driscoll has a 69 Bronco back home and keeps telling me about it. Just curious.

So I had a dream that Ichiro was traded to the A's. It was terrible.

Love you all, please keep me in your prayers.

Elder Galbraith

PS--I included some fishing pictures from last week. We mainly fished off a member's dock, but there is one of us right next to a bridge on the Lake of the Woods. I love the Lake of the Woods!

The first fish was a real was only 4 inches long. The next few were medium sized perch, and then I caught a northern pike! I was really excited because I caught the biggest fish of the day. We fished off a member's dock and my companion's first cast off landed him a walleye. Very first cast ! He was catching perch like crazy after that and I could not catch anything for a long time, until that 4 incher...Elder O'Driscoll would just set his pole down on the dock to help me with something and he would walk back to his pole after he helped me and would pull up his fishing pole and a fish! Ridiculous! Things really started getting rolling for me after the big Mr. 4 inch and it was a great experience. Fishing was fun, but probably not something I will take up like golf. I have to limit my expensive hobbies you know! We fished for about 2 1/2 hours and had a blast.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Holy Hand Grenades

I WENT FISHING!!! Oh ya! Elder O'Driscoll and I went fishing in the Lake of the Woods and caught some fish too! No worries, it was all from off the dock...The bad news is that I forgot my camera back in the apartment and you will have to wait until next week to see pictures from my first ever fishing experience. We fished off a member's dock and I went up to ask the member if we could (could still see Elder O'Driscoll, mom, no worries there) and by the time I came back he had a walleye on the dock and caught a fish with his first cast out. Sheesh. After a while I felt a tug and reeled in the fish that was a real fighter--he was only 4 inches long. Ga. Elder O'Driscoll said that his walleye (about a foot long) fought less than that thing. We were out there for about 2 hours and he was catching all sorts of stuff and I wasn't getting anything. I would get something hooked and then when I "reeled" it in the minnow was gone, but no fish. So one time I was getting a minnow onto my hook and Elder O'Driscoll bent over to help with something and picked up his rod---and a fish. That is how his fishing was. But I got the last say, because I walked away with a Northern Pike! It was the biggest fish we caught. Call it beginner's luck, but I got it. I probably caught 6 or 7 fish by the time we quit, but only kept my Northern Pike, about 18 inches long, and 2 perch, about 8 inches long. We took 5 or 6 fish home total, and will be eating some good fish this week. Oh ya. I took a number of pictures and a couple of videos...I can't believe I left my camera in the apartment. Ga. The lake country is some of my favorite. So beautiful! I almost feel like I am in Seattle because of the hills and lakes and trees, just no mountains. Mosquitoes aren't too bad--yet.

This past week had all the emotions of a mission compounded into 1 week--highs, lows, heartbreaks, everything. We set 2 baptismal dates with 2 people this past week. Garnet, and Matt, are totally different people that we found while street contacting in "downtown" Kenora. Garnett's date is for Sept. 3rd, but his date is kind of shaky, as he is not the most commital person. Matt has a BD for Sept. 17th, and he has some Word of Wisdom things to overcome, but he is willing to try the Book of Mormon and take Moroni's challenge. So those were good news. We have been working with Nick and Crystal and Crystal dropped her baptismal date, which was a big low, especially for Elder O'Driscoll because he is very emotionally involved in the conversion of that family. Nick is still set to go for his BD on August 20th, but the Branch President is still waiting on his paperwork to be able to marry them before that. Keep those prayers coming! Sunday was neat, with another 90 or 100 or so people at Sacrament Meeting. It was disappointing to see so many people that had said they would come to church not come, even with their rides all lined up and ready to go. We made almost 2 hours of calls trying to get 14 people rides, and 2 people came. Now, I know that I need to be grateful for the 2 people that did come, and I am, it’s just hard when a huge amount of people did not come. Ga. It was then, after that, that Crystal told us she was "done". But we honestly feel that we did all that we could, and we are satisfied with that. THAT is probably the hardest thing about missionary work: I can do everything in my power to do better, and be better, and get people prepared for baptism, but my efforts alone do not determine how people progress. My success is measured by my devotion to the work. When I was in high school track I would just practice harder and apply myself more and I would do better and hit my goals. Missionary work does not work the same way, and I sense that parenthood is not either. Maybe this is preparing me for that...yikes. This week just reinforced that principle to me.

We have run into A LOT of drunk people this week, and you will have to wait to hear most of those stories until after the mission. It all makes me despise alcohol so much more. Ugh, it ruins families! While tracting we heard a couple shouting at each other REALLY loudly and we stopped and listened and things got so out of hand that I made my first-ever 911 call. Being here in Kenora these few weeks has made me really appreciate the Word of Wisdom, because SO many people drink and smoke here. That garbage transforms people into indescribable things. Sick. I am realizing that blessings can simply be the absence of evil or destructive things. Blessings are seriously underappreciated, like clean houses, working appliances, working cars, decent mattresses, things like that. Luckily I have all of them in Kenora. See? I am blessed, especially with the absence of bed-bugs.

About my return trip...I guess we will see what happens when things get closer to that time. Which reminds me, when do I need to look at BYU stuff again? Dad, that is your job to keep me posted on when I need to look things up and when I need to do everything necessary. I do still have a lot of time left to serve, but I am now "over the hump".

We are now teaching an artist who can whip out just about any sketch in no-time. We spent a little time going over his sketches and stuff. Pretty neat, because his entire house was full of artistic stuff. Super creative. I have lots of little stories about random things. No real story here, it just stuck out from this past week.

I see a lot of new Focuses and Fiestas on the streets here. Dad, remember to keep every Car and Driver while I am gone, it’s going to be a great day catching up with all that! Elder O'Driscoll and I call our companionship the "Holy Hand Grenades: just exploding the Gospel".

Say hi to Josiah Smith again for me. I hope he is doing really well.

Love you all,

Elder Galbraith

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First week in Kenora

Ah! I'm emailing on Tuesday, what is wrong?! Eh, Canadians love their holidays and it seems like once every few days there is a "holiday". Nah, I think it's once a month I will be emailing on Tuesdays because the library is closed on the long weekend's Monday. Of course I forgot the little notes of all the things I was going to write...bear with me.

This past week was pretty good. Almost went fishing for the first time yesterday! We got the poles and tacklebox from a member, and he advised us to get some fishing licenses (they seriously have licenses to fish? Ridiculous...shows how much I know, right?) so we went down to get some and they were out of the day-liceneses...those were $12! Yikes! The year-long ones were $40. Ouch...stupid prices! I think Elder O'Driscoll and I are going to bite the bullet early next P-Day and go get a day license and then I will have GONE FISHING. Instead of fishing, we cruised downtown Kenora and spent a good amount of time going through the town museum which happened to have a special exhibit for the history of video games. It was pretty neat! I took some pictures there. I will attach them...I had a face to face confrontation with a wolf, but you will just have to see the pictures...

Elder Galbraith and the wolf

So you asked about the branch. Because Kenora is a big tourist town, the summer attendance at church is higher than the year-round attendance. In the summer there are usually about 60-80 people. The Branch has been told that if they can get 70 people to church every week for 2 months, the Church will build them a new, bigger building. Apparently last Sunday was close to a record attendance with a visiting family's reunion, and we ran out of seats. It was pretty neat. I think there were about 100 people at church! I haven't seen that since Saskatoon! Our baptismal dates Nick and Crystal hadn't come by 10:30 (church starts at 10), even with us stopping by their place 30 minutes before church, so we called them and coaxed them to still come out for the last part of Sacrament Meeting. Phew...they came, and it was a huge relief to see them there. We also had another younger girl with her 2 very young girls, and she looked very uncomfortable the entire time. I felt so bad for her because her kids were very active and she often would take them outside alone. Luckily we had aske a member with similar needs to help her out, so I think she felt welcome, I am just not sure how much she got out of it. Oh, I was stressing over that bigtime...Everything went well though. Elder O'Driscoll and I taught the 3rd hour discussion on member-missionary work, using a missionary DVD, Preach My Gospel and using Luke 5. I think the members know that we mean business when it comes to missionary work, because former missionaries way back when were not...overly excited to be missionaries. You get to hear all my REALLY interesting stories about all my areas and their backgrounds AFTER my mission. Aren't you excited for that? Which reminds me, that I hit my year mark this past week, so I am closer to seeing you in person when I come home than when I left Seatac. Pretty neat, eh?

We went to Waterton 2 years ago? What the?! Where did the time go? I still remember all of that distinctly. I would love to be there with all my nieces and nephews next time though. Which reminds me of another thing: you mentioned driving up and picking me up in a year and driving back. I have mixed feelings about that. There is not much better than having my parents see me in my mission with my mission friends, in the mission atmosphere and all that. However, I am pretty certain that when the time comes for my release I will want to be a normal person doing normal things. If you picked me up, I would still be a missionary having to obey all mission rules until we got home and I was released. That means getting up at 6:30 and hitting the sack at 10:30, always wearing my missionary proselyting clothing, no swimming, etc. I think I would really like the experience meeting my family (whoever would be there) at the airport. Maybe you can share your thoughts on the matter, but that is what I think. Please, I want to hear your opinion, and there is still another year to sort those plans out. (We will check with our Stake President to see what the official policy is, and make plans from there.)

I sure love you all, Elder Galbraith, over and out.

Elder Galbraith

Elder Mitton and I holding our 1 year birthday cake (at a District meeting in Dryden, Ontario), courtesy of Elder Bodily. The neat thing is that Elder Mitton and I were MTC companions. (Elder Mitton is now Elder Bodily's companion.)