Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

                                    The back of the Tryons' van
                                         Tryons' theme of the night

                                            Captain Jack Sparrow

Our ward had a Halloween-themed party on Saturday, and some families brought carved pumpkins.  The photos above are of the Tryons' artistry.

Those Tryon pumpkins are unreal. Absolutely unreal!! I haven't been able to pick up a pumpkin yet because our "simple" truck repair last week took 8 hours instead of 2 and shot our P-day. But this week I should find time to try something on a pumpkin...I mean, it's kind of my last chance here...

Btw--Elder Perkins hails from Kaysville, UT. So most of my companions have been from the Mormon Belt, I call it. But hey, it just makes it easier to visit them all, right? He is a strong U of U fan, so he still has some soul-searching to do, but he will come out ok. He is a keeper. Every time he is at the pulpit in church he mentions how much he likes to eat---and by golly we get more meal appointments. Funny thing, eh? The funniest part is that I still eat nearly as much as he does--a lot-- and he is losing weight (his goal is to be down to 260 at end of mission) and I am staying at a flat 145. Thank you high metabolism.

Oh what a good week. Kenora is finally coming through and we are seeing much success. We added 5 people to our teaching pool this week and taught 15 lessons. Elder Perkins and I are doing things to keep finding time productive yet fun, and really trying to focus on people's needs. I tell you...missionary work can be so stressful though, but it is all worth it. I forgot my camera again but I have a picture with one of our new investigators named Derold. Oh, I feel a strong connection with Derold, and really want him to find the truth. Of course I want everyone to learn and progress, there are certain people that I feel very connected to on my mission, and Derold is the first I have felt in Kenora. That may sound bad, but Kenora has been a refining fire for me, but I feel that is a thing of the past and we are proceeding with what we have and will continue to go forward. Though we had to drop Leo's baptismal date (out of town for 3 weeks) we set a baptismal date with Kenny, a man we came back into contact with this past week. Kenny is a hoot, and wants to come closer to God. Although he and Derold both have their challenges, Elder Perkins and I have very positive feelings about both of them. Please pray for them. I am thankful to both of them because when I have strong connections with people I begin to eat, sleep and drink missionary work and as I do those things I definitely know that I am more confident and successful. Funny how that works. The past couple weeks have been just waiting for the breakthrough, and I feel this is the beginning. feels good fulfilling my purpose.

On top of missionary work, Elder Perkins and I gave talks in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and had a busy remainder of church teaching a lesson 2nd hour and then had a Primary fireside we attended last night. Elder Perkins talked on "keeping commitments" and I talked about "living testimonies and using them to further the Lord's work". I still write most of my talk, and one of the times I deviated I accidentally mixed up my words and said something terrible, but quickly corrected it and most people didn't notice, but one jokester let me know about it. That is a story for after my mission. But all in all, everything went really well. Some thoughts from my talk: I enjoyed rereading Pres. Eyring's talk from last April's Gen. Conference about Living Testimonies and how living testimonies and "normal" testimonies differ. I have always relied on past spiritual experiences to sustain my testimony, which is good, but Pres. Eyring said that he does not depend upon past spiritual experiences but continually is strengthening his own testimony and focusing on BEing a better disciple of Christ. I really liked that thought and now do not feel bad asking the Lord to sustain me in times when I need additional spiritual strength. I feel I need to be specific in my prayers. I also discussed the concept of having to "constantly nurture my testimony by prayer of faith, hungering for the Word of God and obeying God's commandments". I guess that really emphasizes having our testimony progress or regress. There is no middle ground, our testimonies are progressing or regressing. Sheesh, when put that way, we desperately need to search the scriptures often and pray with sincerity all the time!

I took a minute or 2 break after writing that last sentence and though to myself: not doing spiritual things all the time is weird. Not being called Elder Galbraith is weird. Have you ever noticed that since the beginning of my mission I never "sign-off" using my first name, but always, Elder Galbraith? I cringe when people say stuff like "darnit and dangit" now. Interesting. I was doing a PMG activity this morning which had me imagine that it is the last day of my mission and I am reflecting on it and asking myself "have I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish on my mission?" (PMG 8, p.152, the 2nd bullet point) I asked myself 3 questions and wrote down my answers and then looked at the last 2 times I did that same PMG activity...last December, and Sept. from last year. Yikes. Some of the answers were similar, some were slightly different. Hmm. I would recommend trying it but applying the "deadline" to a major event in the next year or 2. See how you do, and also while you are at it, do the Christlike attribute evaluation at the end of PMG 6. Make it a goal to improve on at least 1 attribute every week, or day, or month. Try it out and enjoy your improvement.

Thanks for the ties! I got them a week and a half ago and forgot to mention it. Ha, I like a few of them and love a couple of them. There were a few ties that reminded me of people in the district so after my first district meeting I gave everyone a tie and explained why they got that one. Oh, it was a hoot. One of the ties looked like a never-ending staircase, so I called this one new elder up, Elder Ward, and asked him how much longer he had on his mission. He thought about it and said, 23 months, and I said, ok, pretty much an eternity, just like this eternal staircase, and I gave it to him. Oh, everyone was dying from laughing.

I wanted to include one more thing before I end. The primary activity last night was about being thankful for things. They asked everyone to write down 10 things they were thankful for, and I started off being serious, then being goofy with things and then we watched one of those Mormon Messages and I thought about a number of things I really am grateful for. Thank you Dad for helping to coach and umpire some of my little league games. Thank you Mom for coming to seemingly every sporting event. Careful, you may not realize the things that make an impression on your children, even if it does take them 15 years to finally be grateful for it.

I love you so much,

your son, Elder Galbraith

Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy week

A special week--literally--it started out with something called Specialized Training in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
That was pretty neat. We discussed a few trends in the mission and places where we can improve. I need to do a better job of following up on commitments I extend and by doing that I think people will be more apt to keep commitments and appointments we set up. Also at Specialized training we were given some surveys that we could go around and use. So Elder Perkins and I decided to try them out and have found some interesting trends. It is nearly an equal split of people that will even listen to us or take the survey: believers in Christ and nonbelievers in Christ. Many so-called believers just say I have my own religion and slam the door in our face when we say that "we are trying to get people's thoughts on Christ". Interesting. So what has come to mind is really how we live what we believe and again, that General Conference talk about BEing and DOing. I have been trying to BE a better missionary instead of DOing more missionary things. I am being better, not perfect, but better. While reading Alma 34 in the Book of Mormon this morning I seemed to have insight after insight. What a chapter! The concepts brought up there can apply to anyone in any answers the question: what is the purpose of life, and also talks about the doctrine of Christ and HOW it works. All throughout, I was thinking: Amulek is talking to former members of the church about how to develop faith. These former members had gone so astray as to forget how to develop faith and wanted to know what faith was! Amulek discusses the need for a Savior and an infinite and eternal Atonement and shares that we must "pour out our souls" in prayer. That should remind us to evaluate our own prayers. Are my prayers sincere? Mine are getting better. Amulek then tells the Zoramites (and we must liken the discourse to ourselves today) to "not harden their hearts and come forth and bring fruit unto repentance...this life is the life to prepare to meet God...and to work out our salvation with fear before God" and lots more good stuff. I thought my studies would be pretty poor this morning considering we had to study at Subway--our car getting maintenance on other side of town so we got shuttle to downtown and studied in Subway for an hour and then library opened after that and studied here and now emailing. you can probably sense a little frustration in people's attitudes towards us, but I always maintain a positive demeanor while finding, I am doing a better job of letting things go, its later that a little frustration comes out. So Elder Perkins and I are thinking of new ideas to try to get more commitment out of people. We would welcome any fresh ideas.
Elder Perkins is great. President Paulson has called a few times and teased me asking if my companion wanted to go home yet. Ha. That is just President though, I just slap myself in the forehead and laugh to myself. Elder Perkins played a year of football on the offensive line for Dixie College in St. George, UT and gave up a big scholarship to come on his mission. He has really turned his life around to come on a mission and is a happy, go-lucky guy. He likes eating. Ha, but seriously. Together we have been able to find a lot of new people like I had said, its just staying in contact with them and helping them progress is the difficult part. We have 9 people in our teaching pool and are trying to meet with people more frequently. The new surveys have helped us get in and teach a few lessons right on the spot which I think is fantastic. Leo, the baptismal date, has been sick and we have been unable to meet with him. This week we are really going to focus on helping investigators attend Sacrament Meeting. I think it is much needed because we have struggled the past few weeks. In fact, the Ontario district struggled this week after having a good prior week. I guess that is something I get to bring up first-ever District Meeting tomorrow! The Dryden and I-Falls elders will be coming up to Kenora and I will be making occasional trips to both those areas in the coming weeks. A return to I-Falls!!!
Speaking of Elder Perkins, he is so funny. He makes me laugh a bunch, but what really gets me to laugh is that he won't eat his veggies. Won't. I try to trick him into it...doesn't work. We had a guy invite us in for supper last night and he had veggie stew and Elder Perkins eyes got huge and he struggled through the entire meal. Ha. He also doesn't like fish and does not know how to tell this world-class-fishing town's people that he does not want Walleye. Ha. He reminds me how I have really expanded my horizons and taste buds. I like just about anything nowadays. Even brussel sprouts and all that stuff, I still do it and down it. Fish is good. Also, Elder Perkins has been teasing me about how "old" I am in the mission and he brought to mind something VERY SCARY: The number of months left on my mission is now in the single digits. That is terrible! I still have so much to do and to learn!
This week I have really tried applying the gospel of Jesus Christ into my life and I feel the power it does bring. It is so cleansing and strengthening, it just takes the humility to sincerely get down on your knees and repent and ask for forgiveness and right the wrong. What a concept! The basics of the gospel can sometimes be the most difficult. I love learning about all sorts of things, but it's in the BEing of things and living beliefs that the joy comes. Again, what a concept.
I sure love you all. Thanks for everything. My plan for the afternoon is to buy a pumpkin and carve something amazing into it. I will let you know how that goes. I will keep you all in my prayers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall is here

Rain and snow today! This past week the wind has been blowing and howling and the temperatures have plummeted to around freezing. I am still not used to this when it is still only mid-October. 2 weeks ago it had been about 75 for a number of days in a row and my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys because they are still thawing out. Phew.

I guess you probably would like to know some about my new companion Elder Perkins. Let's see...this will be more fun if I hint at things first, then tell you the reality: he is bigger than I am, plays sports, wants to work hard (and stay in the field!) 6'3" and weighs 300 lbs, played college football on the offensive line and brings that kind of work-ethic into Kenora. Alright! Let's go to work! We have already had tons of stories--mostly good ones--after only 1/2 a week. The first night a member prepared an interesting stew for was really good, especially the fact that we were eating bear meat. Seriously. Really good too. The next night a Mennonite family invited us in for their Sabbath supper and fed us Bison meatballs. Tasted great. Saturday we knocked on a door and a guy offered us a piece of cow tongue. Guess who ate some?! Didn't really like that so much, it left a gross aftertaste, but I definitely ate it! (Even with all the crazy foods I have eaten on my mission, I still can't down tomatoes, they are just wrong...)
                Elder Galbraith, Elder Woods (TJ's trainer), and Elder Perkins
Some spiritual things...I really liked a quote from President Paulson during the trainers and new missionaries meeting: "The Lord disguises His miracles to the world as coincidences." I am pretty sure you would absolutely agree, but to further illustrate the point, let me share a story from a set of sister missionaries up in Saskatoon back in March or so: These 2 sister missionaries were walking along the street (as many missionaries commonly do) and 1 of them saw an onion on the side of the road and passed by it. The other, following along, stopped and picked it up, after seeing that it looked like it was still fresh from the store. The first asked, "Why did you pick up that onion?" The 2nd responded, "I don't know", but continued as if nothing happened. Just a short ways up the street they saw another onion. The same thing happened: the 1st sister missionary passed it by and the 2nd picked it up, and the same conversation took place. Now, both of these sisters ARE NORMAL, just to put that out there! Continuing along the street they saw an apple and this time the 1st sister picked it up thinking, "why not?" Now that they had these 3 items, they paused and decided that they should visit a nearby grocery store and see if a shopper had reported losing any food. They found one close by and talked to the manager and the manager referred them to the produce section, where they went. When they arrived back there, the worker at the produce section approached them and asked who they were. They said they were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon hearing that he turned around and went to the back of the store...and returned with a Book of Mormon and said "I have a few questions for you". 1 month later he was baptized. 1 month. Miracles happen, and can happen in the strangest ways. Honestly, who would think of grabbing and pocketing an onion on the side of the road--multiple onions--and then to return them to a grocery store? Who would do that? Who would do that unless inspired by the Holy Ghost to do so? That grocery-store worker had been prepared and the Lord saw fit to lead those sister missionaries to him while at work. Truly, as President Paulson said, "The Lord disguises His miracles to the world as coincidences."

Speaking of scripture mastery, I was hoping that you would be able to send a scripture mastery card with all 4 years of seminary scriptures on it. They shouldn't be much, and I have seen them before. There are cards that have all 4 years on that one card. Good for you Mom to try that. I have been terrible at memorizing scriptures and Elder Duncan of the Seventy urged us to do so. I figured I can always trust a General Authority, right?

I really liked Dad's comments on faith. I think I have mentioned a number of times that I am a huge proponent of faith and works, and faith in action. 2 Nephi 25:23 and 2 Nephi 25:26 are 2 of my all-time favorite scriptures. We are saved by the Lord's grace after all we can do. We do our part by obeying the Lord's commandments (why else would he give them to us?) and by doing so we show God that we really DO want to follow Him--even to the point of giving certain habits and activities up--but we cannot be saved by ourselves. The grace of God is what saves us, after we do all we can to show we really sincerely want to follow God. SAVED BY GRACE AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. Simple enough. This past week I reread a Conference talk from April that I really like called "What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?" I reread it a couple of times and gained a few ideas about the type of missionary I need to BE in Kenora. I need to BE a missionary, not just DO missionary things. You catch on? It has helped a lot, and Elder Perkins and I have already found so much success. We have already got 11 appointments set up this week and many are with new people we are excited to work with and have so much potential. We had to drop the baptismal date (BD) with Lauri because she needs to come to a minimum of 3 times to church prior to baptism and she only had 2 Sundays to do so, but while tracting yesterday we were let in and set one with a young father named Leo! Way exciting. He was glued to the Restoration pamphlet after we gave it to him after the lesson. I love seeing that. Lots of good things happening here, and I expect more good things to come. Thank you Mike for your loving email, I needed help refocusing, and it drove me to BE better.

You mentioned Kalai, and you should search for the song "Onward Christian Soldiers" by him. A very interesting rendition that frankly annoyed me when I first heard it, but I really enjoy his unique style. Hope that helps. No, I have not received anything from Grandma Jeannette lately, but I did send something off to her 3 or 4 weeks ago.

Way to be Jared Tryon! I love that kid more and more. Leading the choir, eh? Probably just prepping him for leading Mo-Tab someday. He could if he keeps up all the music he is doing. I love the Tryon's weekly letters too, oh, so good, and I literally CANNOT wait to see this year's pumpkins. I still have last year's taped to the wall. That impressive. Uncle Robert turns 70 on Halloween? That is scary. Ha. Go BYU. Way to be UW, someone told me they were #22 and I did not believe them.

That is about it. I love you and thank you for your emails and support. Godspeed, continue praying for Kenora, I will continue praying for the house.

Elder Galbraith

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The geese are heading south--the end is near. Winter is coming.

I greatly appreciate the email from my parents with many powerful scriptures and the needed encouragement. Thanks to Kim for responding to my letter and providing her spiritual insights, and to Mike for his encouraging email. Surely the past few weeks have been difficult and unfocusing, yet I have never stopped working. I feel that the hardest part has past and the end is in sight because I know that I am heading back to Kenora and getting a new companion--a brand new companion, again. Yes, I will be training again and this time I will be a district leader in Ontario. I know that these responsibilities will help me refocus on my missionary purpose. I think what I lacked to do was set goals for improving myself. I was so set on helping another person that I neglected setting goals for improving myself and then the past few weeks have been so tumultuous for me that it has been hard to really get my feet planted, so-to-speak. (I am in southern Winnipeg if I didn't tell you, sorry to Aunt Susan and family for not visiting them--so much going on!)

I will begin with the more important things to include:
Reflecting on General Conference, I wanted a spiritual reconfirmation of a few important truths, because PMG (Preach My Gospel) asks us to frequently go to the Lord and reconfirm our testimonies of important truths, like the Book of Mormon. I have struggled with that counsel because in the Doctrine and Covenants section 6, 8 or 9 (somewhere there) the Lord tells Oliver Cowdery to "cast his mind upon the night that [he] cried unto him...did [God] not speak peace concerning the matter?" So I have always looked back to a certain event that was a very spiritual event that confirmed the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to me, and I have felt somewhat guilty asking of the Lord because I instantly think about "did I not speak peace concerning the matter?" So I have not reconfirmed that testimony, not that I do not believe it is true! I do! I brought this dilemma up to my district leader and he pointed a few things out to me: He pointed out that to ask an important question flippantly, without really putting in the required effort, would be wrong, but, as PMG tells us to do, to seriously study and reconfirm our testimonies, especially of the Book of Mormon.

SO.....what I have been leading up to was that I went to General Conference seeking to reconfirm my testimony of the Book of Mormon and I cannot remember exactly when or who was speaking when I felt the peace and the impression "yes, the Book of Mormon is true". What a comfort. I took something like 13 or 14 pages of notes from General Conference! Yikes. It was all so good, and quite the struggle because we needed to be in Dryden during the whole weekend and I could not get ahold of the people I wanted to remind about General Conference and no-one came out in Kenora. I was stressed and pretty frustrated about the whole situation that I could not be in my area during such an important event and remind investigators to come. I had also invited MANY people on the street with cards that I had made and laminated and I will never know if they came or not. So there was a lot of frustration there, but General Conference itself provided a lot of relief. I definitely needed it. Nothing is better than General Conference as a missionary. Last Monday in Dryden we were able to find 2 exciting new investigators. Because its been over a week I cannot remember what their names were...wait, Darren and George. They are great and it was another confirmation that the Lord is preparing people to accept His word.

I really enjoyed Pres. Monson's talk about being prepared to share the gospel and our testimonies. We have to stand as witnesses, and every week we take Christ's name upon us when we partake of the sacrament. We have to stand for good, for right, and to stand up for what we believe in. He had a quote that was something like "when the time comes, the time for preparation has passed". Something like that. I loved his story about being on the bus in Texas and the bus driver asking if anyone knew anything about the Mormons. The scripture he shared was 1 Peter 3:15, and it is a scripture that I have recently begun using to try to motivate members to do missionary work. Be ready to share the gospel and your testimony, and not being afraid of referring them to the missionaries.

I don't have time to share insights from Zone Conference, but Elder Kevin Duncan (who spoke in April''s Gen. Conf.) attended and instructed us on a number of things, mainly working with branches and wards better and getting members involved. Took lots more notes.

Well I have got to go because I have limited time on the computers in Dryden, but I did want to mention that I do know that the Gospel has been restored and that the Book of Mormon is true. No argument against it stands, and the Spirit has testified to me it is true, and because of that confirmation to me, I will not waver. Some fun things from the past week: I saw 5 bears! 4 in a tree in Kenora, and 1 in Dryden...a guy we tracted into offered us a ride in his 1930 Model A. An investigator here in Winnipeg dominated the 3rd hour discussion...and Fall is my favorite time of year. Thanks to everyone for your support! I love you all greatly.

Elder Galbraith

No pictures here (again), I need a cable to connect to the computers and didn't bring it. Have to wait another week...Thank you Mom and Dad for all the spiritual insights--they are THE most important part of your letters, honestly. Keep allowing your testimonies to shine through, and make sure you are progressing your testimonies, or else you ARE regressing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Golfing ! ? !

To be clear...Elder Pacis is long gone and is back in Washington.  I am in Dryden, Ontario working with another set of missionaries for a week then I am being sent into southern Winnipeg for a week and---not totally sure, but hopefully---going back to Kenora.  Kenora is proving to be a refining place, but I have the desire to go back and "finish what I started".

Now what I wanted to do for my email was to attach a picture of me golfing because I TOTALLY WENT GOLFING TODAY!  I wanted to just send a picture of me on the tee box and wait and send the big email later and see what you thought.  I took tons of pictures but these computers in Dryden are from the stone-age and won't accept my SD card, so you all will have to wait on the pictures and videos.  We played 9 holes and one of the missionaries kept score.  Even without golfing for over a year I still have got it!  I shot 43, (on a) par 36 with a couple of big drives.  As Bro. Crandall would say, I played with a couple of "amateur gomers", but it was SO fun.  I stepped up to the first tee without any practice swings or anything and belted a 265-yard drive dead straight down the fairway.  Still got it!  (Still humble, too!)  My short game was garbage but I managed to play with what I had and roll with it.  Problem was that the junky clubs I was playing with (rentals) hit the ball WAY too far.  I tagged my 8 iron over 200 yards, and it had a beautiful 8 iron arc, not like I hit it poorly or anything.  On the last hole I belted a PW about 170 yards and went about 40 yards past the green.  These clubs were insane, but so was my competition.  My furthest drive was 280 yards, dead straight down the fairway on hole 8.  Not bad for using a real wood driver.  I forgot how fun golf can be.  I'm glad I see the fun side and not the frustrating side of golf.  Club rentals, 4 balls and 9 holes for $11.  Ka-ching!

Northwestern Ontario is my absolute favorite place to be in the summer and fall.  I have NEVER seen so many vibrant colors before.  Wow!  I love the leaves on the streets, the lakes, the wetlands, everything...

Almost forgot I was emailing because I was dreaming there for a bit:  golf and leaves...back to missionary work.  Yes, the past few weeks have been some of the most trying weeks on my mission for so many reasons.  I won't go into it, but wow, it’s been so mentally grueling, and Conference was a huge relief.  I loved Elder Holland's and Elder Callister's talks the most.  I have used that 2-point analogy on my mission a lot.  Makes sense how by having 1 dot you can draw many lines through it (many interpretations of the Bible), but by having 2 dots (2 testaments of Christ) you can only draw 1 line through them--1 interpretation.  Makes sense, eh? I will show you dozens more analogies when I get home...they are limitless.  I like playing this game called "Telephone Pictionary" to illustrate the Great Apostasy.  Still haven't totally given up games!  Works great too.  Even though the past few weeks have been difficult, Zone Conference is in Winnipeg this week and I am excited for that and to see many missionary friends and then (hopefully) go back to Kenora next transfer.  Transfer calls are this week, and I should know by next week what my fate will be.  I will go anywhere and do anything, but I would love to stay in Kenora.

Do you remember in Conference when President Monson quoted an obscure scripture about being ready to share the gospel and your testimony when called upon to do so?  Well, I found that scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 about 2 weeks ago and have been telling people in Kenora to "be ready alway to give an answer for the hope within you".  I think that is it, I am not great at memorizing yet.  I thought that was really neat!  I liked when Sis. Dalton said that fathers spending time with children creates lasting memories.  It is so true.  Dad, you may not remember many things, but you will be surprised at the amount of things I remember.  I still remember when you took me to the redone original Star Wars movies, I still remember bike rides in Grasslawn.  That is the power of those memories!  Thank you so much for those memories. But they aren't done, let’s make our way back up to Seattle next October and go to the Car Show!

I am still praying for the house!

Hey, the mission office wants to know the email I use back home. Good question. What is it?

Love ya much, I will include pictures next week (if the computer will let me). The time on the computers in Dryden is almost up, super short. Love you!

Elder Galbraith