Monday, September 26, 2011


    A beautiful Lake of the Woods scene

What a week! I will start off with some of the best things that happened...Elder Pacis and I set a baptismal date with our investigator Lauri! We taught her twice this past week and I may not have mentioned her before because she is brand new to our teaching pool. She is preparing for October 29th for baptism. I gave her my baptismal interview questions and we have basically taught her the message of the Restoration and lots about the Holy Ghost and how it works and how we all can feel it differently. She is very spiritual and very "in-tune" with the Holy Spirit. What I really like about teaching her is her humility to learn, and what she already knows to be true is very similar to our beliefs, but she just has different names for each thing. It is a great experience when we can relate things like that. Lauri has a son named Jay, who is either 8 or 9, and she really wants him to associate with a good crowd. So there is a lot of potential here!

More funny things...2 separate birds on 2 separate occasions flew into our studyroom window. Ridiculous! Jehovah’s Witnesses came and knocked on our door. I had never had that happen before! They gave their shpeel, saw we were missionaries, asked us where we were from and left us with a small book and pamphlet. We gave them one too. They were very nice, very cordial--as were we. It was a pleasant experience, just weird being on the other side of the door for once, and weird hearing a different message...There are so many deer in downtown Kenora that the city just passed a law that people can LEGALLY shoot a deer with a bow within city limits! There are deer everywhere! I see the issue with it, but I think it's pretty neat!

This past week has been a trying week though. Kenora continues to help me grow in MANY different ways. Growing is tough sometimes! But if taken and endured with the right mindset, it is always worth it. One of the many challenges this week included maintaining a positive attitude when everything else around me seemed to be negative. That is work! I am definitely better than I used to be. The biggest struggle is that I will be getting a new companion or companions. Yup, Elder Pacis is going home. He has struggled and struggled minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and it has got the best of him. He will be leaving this week, President is currently working out the details and has already communicated with some church leaders back in Puyallup. He kind of gave up, and it breaks my heart. I have given him all the love, care and concern I could, but ultimately it is not my mission to serve but his, and he has decided to go home. He has been so homesick! What does this mean for me? Great question. I don't know. I am pretty sure I get to stay here in Kenora (I hope!) but will be taking on another companion for a couple of weeks or the assistants may come out for a bit...or I may go into Winnipeg for a few weeks...or...or...I really have no idea. President should be letting me know later today. Elder Pacis has a good heart, and helped me learn a lot. I feel that I am more patient and charitable after these experiences the past few weeks. I have really tried hard to reach out and help him out in ways that I could. A few scriptures come to mind: D&C 84:106 which states, "Let the strong in Spirit strengthen the weak that they too may be strong" and D&C 82:3 which says, "For unto whom much is given, much is required". I definitely have been given much and I too must give. I have felt so prompted and obligated to help him and feel I have done the best I could. I really had to push myself at times, sorry to say, but I knew it was my duty to do so. Why do I do it? Not only because of the reasons I just gave, but because it all is true. Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon and the Bible really are true and everything about the Gospel too. Considering all of this and much of the opposition I face daily, I really have learned what it means when I promised to "take the name of Christ upon me" through baptism and weekly through the sacrament. I promised to stand as a witness of Him. I promised to stand in need of those that need help, comfort those that need comfort. Man, with all of this I am starting to get a sense of what parenting must be like: you do all you can to help someone and give them all the ample opportunities to choose right, yet my efforts alone will not change someone else's will. Oh, imagine how God must feel!

The point of that last paragraph is really to show that Elder Pacis is leaving this week, and I do not know what will happen these next few weeks. The next transfer is October 15th or so, so a little ways away. We will see how everything comes along. I wonder where I will be next week? I am pretty sure that regardless of where I am the next couple of weeks, I will be back in Kenora with someone different. I love Kenora.

General Conference is this weekend! I promise I will watch all the sessions at the church! Will you? You better watch them all, whether at home or at the Stake Center. Words from a living prophet of God and his living Apostles?! Who wouldn't want to listen to that?! Ugh, I drastically underappreciated General Conference growing up...I still remember "only" wanting to "watch" it if I could play with my cars on the floormat in front of the TV. Genius, Mom and Dad, genius. I think that was one of the best ways you could have me be there for Conference and gain what I could from it. I don't think there was a better way to do it for me. Thank you. I love you for it.

I wanted to also share a spiritual experience that I had yesterday at church during fast and tesimony meeting. I was thinking about where I would be without the gospel and where I am now. I reflected on a few occasions where my testimony grew or where I began feeling that something was there, that there was something to this "church thing". I waited for my turn at the pulpit (for those of you who don't know, once a month in the Church there is what is called a "Fast and Testimony Meeting" where individuals present can share their testimony of some aspect of the gospel) and brought a Book of Mormon and held it as I shared my testimony that I can see where I would have been without the gospel. Put simply, I would not be where I am today nor even close without the gospel of Jesus Christ to anchor my soul. I shared an experience from Young Men's that I still remember. I remember being about 14 years old and having all the young men 12-18 together in that tiny room in the church back in Kirkland, near the main entrance and being crammed in there, and Bro. Arneson and Callens felt like they should have every young man share their testimony. I did not know what to say, I was 14! I remember going to the front when it was my turn and holding a Book of Mormon and saying that I did not why I felt so good about it, or when I read it, but that I did. I remember my specific words as I held that Book and said, trying to hold back tears, "there is something to this book..." Later in the testimony meeting yesterday, someone commented and said to the effect, that those leaders had no idea that Sunday that some 7 or 8 years later that I would share that experience from Young Men's that day as a missionary in Kenora, Ontario. Thank you Bro. Callens, Bro. Arneson, and Bro. Crandall for being righteous examples to me in that program. Your efforts and examples were not wasted! God bless you! I love you.

I guess I can't really share much more than that. Always remember the best part of the gospel: it's all true!

Love, Elder Galbraith

                               Serious 5 o'clock shadow (?). Oh ya, yet oh no.  

                               Still likes cars - a 1979 Chrysler 300

Monday, September 19, 2011

End of summer

What a had all the emotions of a mission compounded into one little week. In the beginning of the week we had back-to-back-to-back exchanges with the Zone Leaders, District Leader and the Assistants and they all went really well and we all found very prepared people. I think they all wanted to come and see Kenora because it's the best place in the mission, so who can blame them? Then after Thursday things took a nosedive and no lessons went through and Elder Pacis got so homesick he was close to going home. Ugh. He called President and things are a lot better lunched appointments (no appointments yet), but no fish either (did go fishing). We did have some things go our way yesterday, as a family came to church that we had a misunderstanding with, and all is well. Phew. They invited us over tomorrow night. On a brighter note, we have a couple of meetings with very prepared people this week which I am confident will go well. On Friday the branch is having a pig roast where they will be roasting an entire pig, face and all! The ward I was in in Winnipeg last September (uh, I can now refer to missionary things I did this time last year) had a similar activity, but it was a brutally cold, windy Winnipeg day, so this year's should be much better. Back to the prepared people: 2 or 3 of them said that they would like to come to church this upcoming week, and Elder Pacis and I were able to give some service to one by painting a sunroom and helping put together part of a treehouse. I got to do the drilling, and I really like doing construction, it’s just really fun. Maybe I really should do construction management and get in on the action that I would be "managing". Another good thing that happened this past weekend was that Elder Pacis and I had a good heart-to-heart talk and it reminded me how I have been slacking in my nightly prayers. Sure, I pray every night, but I was not COMMUNICATING--but was more of a one-way conversation, and not heartfelt. So my prayers have been much, much better and I feel better as a result. So that is very good news there. Everything gets better when prayers get better, right? Yup.

On to lighter things...I saw Christmas lights on for the first time this season. This house had them on for probably a good 5 minutes before realizing they were jumping the gun 3 months, but I was really glad they did! It is now dark by 7:30 and so we tract for about an hour in the dark, which is really weird after not having done it for 6 months. Also, there was a member who didn't go to church yesterday because they were GETTING PAID FOR CAMPING. If it were not on Sunday, how good would that be?! I don't think there could be anything better! He is a teacher and they had some kind of paid retreat that he was invited to. Sheesh. Sign me up. Another member mentioned something about Ford buying Cummins? Is that true? That would be REALLY weird, but good for Ford. Please include some pictures of the new LW when you get back! I can't just go on Google or Facebook as a missionary and look it up or else I would. Ichiro really is having a rough "Ichiro year", isn't he? Ugh. Eh, I still think his 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons is still pretty good. BYU lost to Utah? I can't stand U of U...

 It is pretty neat stepping into more of a leadership role by training Elder Pacis. It helps me look back at the basics again and really go through PMG one step at a time. Practicing more helps too. Without going into any specifics, I know that Elder Pacis and I being companions was not just happen-chance, but was divine. Things will turn around here in Kenora, it’s just the refiner's fire sort of thing right now. Because my prayers have been better the past 24 hours, I feel better.

This morning I spent my hourlong personal study just looking at certain aspects of the Atonement. Sheesh. It seems that I really have to be guided by the Spirit in learning, or I cannot focus. Good thing that this morning was guided by the Holy Ghost, because I was able to look at the Atonement from all sorts of different aspects. Jesus Christ's Atonement overcame physical and spiritual death, allows everyone to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15 and 2 Nephi 2), allows Christ to succor us because he has been through so much more than any of us have ever gone through (Alma 7) and so much, much more. I drew up this word-web of the Atonement and lots of the things it encompasses. Sure covers a lot, and as PMG states, "the more that you understand the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the more you will want to share the gospel" or something to that effect. Truly, we are saved by grace after all we can do. We need to show our faith and obedience, but there is nothing we can do by ourselves to warrant entrance into heaven because we have all sinned (Romans ?:3), but through Christ's cleansing sacrifice we can be clean by following his gospel. The parable that Elder Packer uses as found in the Atonement section in Gospel Principles is still my favorite way of illustrating the how Christ literally is the Mediator, and how He is able to help us. Good stuff.

That is great about Halle! Congrats Halle, sounds like she nailed the interview.

Attached are a few pictures of fishing. I saw a baby turtle! Last night I saw a skunk rummaging through our trash, so I am seeing all sorts of wildlife, just not the moose, bear and timberwolves I am looking for!

Love ya,

Elder Galbraith

                                                        A baby turtle

Guess what I got at transfers? Marj Harder from Saskatoon (the 86 year old I baptized) knitted me a wool sweater! They will go great with my wool socks she knit me...

Elder Pacis and I with the Zone Leaders. Elder Skinner and an old companion...Elder Morris,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Over a year

Kenora Holy Handgrenades: just exploding the gospel through missionary work

We got fed a ton this past week, which is good. I haven't had 5 member meals in one week since Saskatoon about 9 months ago. Weird that I was first transferred there 11 1/2 months ago, huh? I'm at the point in my mission where I can start saying things I did in the mission field a year ago. Weird. Good thing that the bed bugs were over a year ago. President Paulson still jokingly reminds me of that.

Nic and Crystal are still doing well. The past 2 weeks I had kind of wondered how Nic was doing because he really connected with Elder O'Driscoll. We visited with them on Thursday or Friday night and we had a good discussion about family history work, which was a follow-up lesson with Crystal because Relief Society talked about it a week ago. She had a few questions after things got going, and Nic even (being the tough-guy) contributed, which was good. Thanks, Mom, for the family pedigree chart, which I definitely pulled out for an example. It got used! I referred Nic and Crystal to a few family history sites, and Crystal even mentioned how her mom had some of their work done, and that she could look at her family's work. Oh ya, that lesson was for you, Mom! Last night we visited with them again and we read passages of the Book of Mormon with them and they both got really into it. That really shows the power of the Book of Mormon, trust me. Crystal asked if she could be baptized, knowing that Nic could not because he has to get divorced and then married first. It was so hard telling someone that they COULDN'T get baptized. UGH! I am not supposed to do that, ha. They both must get married before either can be baptized, and Nic needs to get divorced first (still waiting on papers, could take up to another 2 months...) before they can get married and then they can both get married (running out of breath) and get baptized and live happily ever after! So, that is their situation. Now I remember why I started the whole thing...a member asked the branch for help to do his roof, and we volunteered to help, and we brought Nic along. Perfect fit! Nic is a roofer and met the member and Nic said that was pretty much the first time he had ever given anyone service like that, and that it "kind of felt good". Funny how that works. AND...he came to help immediately after going and roofing for the entire morning for work. Other contacts...Elder Pacis and I tracted into an absolutely golden contact named Ginger and we taught her and she had questions about baptism! That doesn't happen too often. You really appreciate those kind of doors because of all the other 1000s in between. I was really glad that Elder Pacis was able to find someone like that for the first time because he is kind of homesick. On the other hand, his teaching skills have drastically improved the past week, but it's still funny every now and then...who knows what will come out of a greenie's mouth? He screamed again on a doorstep yesterday when he saw a spider, but this time did not sprint off like he did last week. Oh, he is a "good duck" as Elder Morris would say. One last thing about Elder Pacis--I have NEVER, and I mean NEVER, seen anyone take as many pictures as he does. We counted how many he took in his first week in the mission-field alone, and...any guesses as to how many he took? 250. I am constantly taking pictures of him, it's so ridiculous that it is just funny now. Oh boy...

I love the car news, keep it coming. Keep saving the Car and Drivers for the 2 years I'm gone. I am really looking forward to the day when I get to breeze through them all. Just a little piece of heaven right there...a member emailed me a car made by Chevrolet called the "789", which looks amazing. You probably have seen it. It looks like a 57 Chevy from the front, a 58 from the side, and a 59 from the back. You should send a picture of the new Beetle because Kenora does not have a VW dealer and after 14 years I am eager to see a redo of that "chick" car. Poor Seahawks...did I tell you that I traded Elder Bodily for a tie that has stripes that are the same color as the Seahawks? Oh, I love bright colored ties with stripes, they are the best, hint hint.

Sure love you all. Keep Kenora and the CWM in your prayers.

Elder Galbraith

Forgot to answer a question of yours. I played the piano last week for the first time for months. I am teaching Elder Pacis how to play. I miss playing it and relaxing that way.

Here are some pictures from the week.

One picture is of me feeding a deer at a doorstep. He actually came closer and licked my hand. The second is a view of Lake of the Woods from a member's place north of a town an hour away called Sioux Narrows. Use Google Earth and find that and look at the scenery out there. Lake of the Woods may be my favorite scenic place ever. Maybe. It's towards the top...the 3rd picture is of a beaver dam right next to that member's place. The member has a 200 foot dock and lots of snow and lake toys. But none are fun or allowed for missionaries...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Companion

Because of the holiday, we had wondered if Elder Galbraith could get to a library on Monday to send out his letter - guess not.

Looks like you are getting your email on Tuesday.

Elder O'Driscoll is gone and safely at home in Utah. Elder Pacis (pronounced passes) is my new companion and he is brand-new to missionary work--and the gospel. He is Filipino and a convert of about a year and 5 months ago--only member of his family--from Puyallup (Pew'-al-up, a city south and east of Seattle). Ever heard of it? President Paulson sure had a fun time trying to pronounce that and just gave up and asked me to. Ha. 2 missionaries from Washington serving in an area that looks a ton like western Washington. He is eager to share what he knows. Ha, I remember being really hesitant when I was first out, and training him has given me a chance to really see how much I have grown since I first came out into the mission field. Lots of growth, for sure. He asks me about things and brings up concerns that I don't think I have seriously contemplated since I was in northern Winnipeg my first transfer. Poor guy, he is nervous on doorsteps, as every new missionary is. This whole situation is interesting because it puts me in  the position of a teacher as opposed to the sponge which absorbs everything. Stark contrast between Elder O'Driscoll and Elder Pacis that way. Oh, he is deathly afraid of spiders and there are TONS of spiders here. Yesterday we were walking up to a door and I heard this shriek right next to me and I turned around and he was sprinting down the driveway...running from a spider. Funny sight. Lots of funny stories during someone's first transfer! Oh, another good story: Elder Pacis takes more pictures than I have seen anyone ever take before. So this morning we were driving into Dryden, ON (~2 hours away) for district meeting and he was taking all sorts of pictures and the car in front of us stopped at an intersection and he got out and came to our car upset, asking if we were taking pictures of him in his car, and Elder Pacis froze, and I explained that he was always taking pictures and that he wasn't targeting him (this guy worked for the postal service and had a postal service car). Elder Pacis put the camera away for...5 minutes.

The work is still slowly moving forward. We have a number of exciting potentials that we should soon be working with. We had 3 investigators at church: Rob, Crystal, and Warren. Nic and Crystal are still doing well, but Nic really misses Elder O'Driscoll. He had to work on Sunday. Crystal, however, is seeing some of the benefits of the gospel and has expressed that she has seen a difference in her family since we started teaching them. Things are going well. I feel a little weighed down because of an incident yesterday with someone in the branch. They are semi-active and we have been visiting them weekly and they have really, really enjoyed the visits. We had asked them to give a ride to someone to church and I won't go into specifics, but they showed up and were not able to give them a ride (I have to be super vague across email) and last night we called to at least tell them thank you for being there and willing and they told us they never wanted to see us again. Ugh. So I have called a few local priesthood leaders and explained the situation (in more detail, ha) and they say things should work out, but I still worry. I firmly believe I did not do anything wrong, but there is some miscommunication somewhere. Don't know. Ugh, you become so connected with people on your mission! Other than that, things are good, and suddenly the members are really excited to help out and give us finding ideas. I will let you know how everything goes!

That is great to hear all that from Max and Muna! Tell them hi for me and thanks for being great neighbors--sorry--neighbours. You mentioned that I would come back to Kirkland and give a talk? Was that right? I love the sound of that, just as long as we are able to fit into those busy few weeks I will have between my release and school. Anyway, I love you all, I pray for the selling of the house daily, and for you as well. Godspeed.

Elder Galbraith

  Old friends - Elders Galbraith, Mitton, Bodily, and Dunn