Monday, March 26, 2012

Final transfer

Well...why was the phone call I received on Friday my final transfer call? I am writing you from the Canada Winnipeg Mission office, where I will spend my final 3 transfers as an Assistant to President Paulson. I am nervous out of my mind, but as a good friend of mine says, "It will all buff out". Just wanted to fire a quicky off to you, the main letter is coming...
A little later -
Yup, so I am in Winnipeg. Yikes. I drove here this morning with another elder and the fun starts in about an hour and a half, when P-Day ends. I have no idea what to expect. To keep it brief, I will attend the Waverley Ward, which is in the southwestern corner of the city. I hope to be able to contact Auntie Susan and Uncle Brent! I expect I should be able to see them a few times, but having not asked President, I cannot say for sure, so don't quote me on that just yet, but I do have their number. My address is the mission office address: 845 Shaftsbury Blvd, Winnipeg MB R3P 0M5. Like I said, I am nervous with the newfound(land) responsibility and do not want to come across as "oh look I am Assistant", but you should know where I am sort-of-thing. Phew. Oh, you should know that Elder Dunn is getting transferred to...noneother than Kenora, Ontario! He will be a District Leader and was specifically asked by President to help the district out there which could use a boost. 2 other Zone Leaders will "white-wash" our area, which we left them in great shape. Oh, and my name companion's name is Elder Skinner, from Rigby, Idaho. Ha. He and I should have a lot of similarities--he knows when to be "all business" and when to be a goof.

My past week has been one of the best of my mission. I cried Saturday night in bed of a combination of happiness from the events that happened that day and the sadness of leaving the people and area behind. The whole week was a great week, and we taught a lot of really effective lessons--the most I have had since I-Falls. Then, as if that were not enough, Sis. Harder went through the temple and I was able to join her! Then Tom got baptized! On Sunday, Sarah came to church and so did another investigator who is progressing well. Wow. Like I said, lots of good stuff.

It was an amazing experience with Sis. Harder in the temple. When I first saw her it was one of those deep memories you cherish for a very long time. I saw her and she looked up at me and it was like I got totally punched by the Spirit. A sense of total joy and intense happiness filled me as I returned her smile and then I sheepishly looked down and then back up, just to feel the same feelings. It was one of those rare experiences that I will always remember. I wrote it down in my journal, so it’s official, I always will. Wow. We took some pictures outside of the temple and will have to send them to you next week when I unpack my camera cord. I have a testimony that we can find the Lord's elect!

As if that were not enough, we dashed off to Tom's baptism which went well. The ward supported him well, and Elder Dunn and I did not have to do anything--which is best, so that the members get involved in fellowshipping the new member. Damon, another Chinese recent convert, baptized him. Undescribable.

Sarah had a profound experience at church. The entire ward buzzed to see her there. The ward has been amazing, and so has Sarah's progress. She has come more slowly than I had originally hoped for, but she is sure coming along on the Lord's time. That I know. Things are working out with her, and I can't go into specifics now, but just rest assured that everyone's prayers are being answered for all my investigators. Thank you for them!

I have a lot going through my head and am really scatterbrained, so I know that I am probably missing a lot of things. Uh...

Oh, classes...I did look things over. I would still like to hear what your thoughts are about me trying to go into Business. I think this experience as Assistant will help me better determine that. After reviewing the classes I had to choose from, would 14 credits be too much? I was thinking World Civilization from 1500+ (3.0), Persuasive Writing (3.0), Golden Age of Rome (3.0), Physics (3.0) and New Testament (2.0). Is that too much? That should give you a good idea for some general classes I will need out of the way, AND classes that I think I will like.

Thank you Auntie Sharon for your letter. I really appreciated your thoughts. I really like the "sandwich" idea for praise and encouragement, and I will try to let you know how it will go.

I wanted to include a little something for Delaney, Tayson, and Emma. For reasons I don't specifically know, you have been on my mind quite a bit lately. I really hope the best for you and am excited to share some thoughts from my mission with you when I see you. I care for you all, and want to reemphasize that the gospel is true, and that I KNOW that the greatest happiness in life comes from living it. Please make daily scripture study a habit, even if it is just a few verses a night, or a chapter or 2. Please have sincere prayers. Again, I do not know why I feel prompted to say this all, but I do. I love you, all the best.

I love you all! Please keep the CWM in your prayers!

Elder Galbraith

Monday, March 19, 2012

Busy, busy

We had our P-Day activity at a "Candy Cane park". Look it up, it may be my favorite park ever. There we saw thousands of geese. One particular group nearly took up the entire sky! A loud, squawking, moving cloud.

On a more serious note, we also had one of the greatest weeks of my mission, with this next one looking even better. You have no idea. Again, you have no idea how good it will be. Someone has been praying for us missionaries in the CWM, seriously. PART of the greatness of this upcoming week will be on Saturday. Get this--I will be able to join Sis. Harder from Saskatoon (whom I baptized in Dec. 2010) in the temple to take out her endowments in the temple, followed by Tom's baptism.....followed by more teaching appointments already scheduled. How about that? But it doesn't even stop there. Elder Dunn and I were present at a lesson yesterday where we had with an investigator's mom show up. Now, to preface, her grandparents are members of the church. The investigator, Sarah, learned that her mom is a member just after she began meeting with us, and her mom was initially antagonistic towards Sarah joining the church. The mother refused offers from Sarah to join us at a lesson--until yesterday, when we had planned to meet with Sarah just after church. Now, Elder Dunn and I felt like we needed to take a different route with the member fellowship and bring one of Sarah's good friends in the ward (we don't usually take Relief Society sisters because we need a male at all lessons if meeting with a lady) and a guy. So we had 2 members there at the lesson and Sarah shows up does someone who looks nearly exactly like her--her mom. Whoa. We taught a short lesson to Sarah and then talked with her mom. I think her mom was initially a little up-tight and had wanted to meet with us privately after the lesson to talk about some concerns she has, but after introducing ourselves and having a short lesson she seemed comfortable enough to express some concerns she has about the Church and Sarah. She brought up some concerns she had--some easy to resolve, but a couple that were pretty difficult. But Sarah's member friend (whom we had never before taken to a lesson) proved to be an absolutely indispensable key to helping Sarah's mom's concerns that no other person could have helped out with. I was blown away. This usually-quiet member started off hesitantly and then began to be bold and even extended bold invitations. Whoa. Elder Dunn and I piped in with some very Spirit-driven comments and Sarah and her mom were even in tears. At one point, Elder Dunn brought up General Conference and asked Sarah's mom to explain what General Conference is to her daughter. Now, Sarah's mom has not been to church in over a decade, but she described it well and even added in something about how the Spirit feels, and Sarah has struggled to recognize how the Holy Ghost feels. So I then asked Sarah's mom to further describe how the Holy Ghost feels to her and how she has recognized answers to her prayers or questions. She did. She did, and even got teary-eyed. Sarah was crying, her mom was crying, my mom would have been crying...I was near tears. Here was this person who has not wanted any contact with the church for over a decade describing how she has recognized answers to her prayers and describing it all to her daughter who had never before seen this side of her! Poor Sarah was totally thrown for a loop. After all of this, Elder Dunn invited Sarah and her mom to come to church this Sunday, and Sarah's mom said she would genuinely think about it. I think Sarah is all-in now that she knows her mom supports her. Oh, I left out that Sarah's mom straight-up told her that she would support her if she wanted to join the church and be baptized. That was new! Oh...what a meeting...2 hours...but what a meeting. I probably left out a bunch of stuff because I am so excited, but I hope you get the gist of it. There may be another baptism and a reactivation here! Elder Dunn predicts that Sarah's mom comes to church this week and will even share her testimony in fast and testimony meeting. We will see. Please pray for them both.

You may be wondering more about what is happening on Saturday. Elder Bodily did his baptismal interview on Saturday and Tom "passed with flying colors". It is amazing to me that this man hardly knew anything about God 3 1/2 weeks ago, yet here is being baptized on Saturday. After the interview he initially asked me to baptize him, but I think he did so thinking that he had to "reward his teachers", sort-of-thing. (China has a very high respect for their teachers) We explained that he did not need to feel obligated to ask us to baptize him, and after he recognized that he picked another Chinese recent-convert within the past year to baptize him. Yes! He then picked the newly-called Ward Mission Leader to confirm him. Perfect! Statistics generally show that retention is better when members baptize investigators, and so that is what we were hoping for. However, I was honored that Tom would choose me to baptize him. Oh, Tom wants me to come stay with him in China. I told him that it probably wouldn't be for a little while. Oh, and when Tom was told that the Church is not yet in China, he said that he would become a government leader and then allow the Church in. He also said he looks forward to the 12 hour train ride to the Hong Kong temple from his home of Changsha. What a stallion! He will make a great member. Sunday morning he gave us a scare by arriving 25 minutes late to Sacrament Meeting. Had he not been there his baptism would have had to be pushed back because he would not have been to church enough. I was so stressed...we couldn't get a hold of him, and then it all just worked out...I am glad that investigators need to be at sacrament meeting at least 3 times to show increased commitment, but sometimes it can provide scares like yesterday morning...

As for Sis. Marj Harder, I got a call last week from elders in Saskatoon in the Wildwood Ward that she was coming down to the temple. I immediately called President and asked for permission to go to the temple with her on Saturday. Needless to say, I will be in the temple at noon on Saturday. I am also attending the temple with the missionaries this Wednesday morning, bright and early, so I am getting a double-dose of the temple this week. To be honest, it just feels too good to be true. Is this really happening?

Adding to that, the mission and our zone had a really good week, as did our area. We taught a lot of meaningful lessons, helped a few people come to church, found a number of new investigators and enjoyed it all. I really feel that Elder Dunn and I have set strong examples the past few weeks. The zone needs to be shown that it can achieve more than it is doing. Things are on the way up, and there is still room to improve. Good! I was emotionally drained last night and actually went to bed on time last night (zone leaders are RARELY able to go to bed on time, or so I find). I feel good, and like I can take on another week, but boy, missionary work sure is tiring.

Because I am in a YSA (Young Single Adult) ward, I get to go to FHE (Family Home Evening) and bring investigators and LAs Less-Actives). I was in charge of the activity and guess what we played? Mike's game. And everyone absolutely loved it. Nailed it!

Something interesting is that my Patriarchal Blessing is extremely specific with some gifts of the Spirit I have been given, and I literally can see the fulfillment in me at times, sometimes restraining me, sometimes propelling me forward. Wow.

I don't want to look through all the emails you have sent me, could you tell me my email again? I totally forgot. I will write it down this time.

I am so glad to hear about the house! Oh, it will be such a relief and a weight off your shoulders. I am excited for it, but more excited for both of you and the weight of the situation being lifted off your shoulders.

As for BYU, I didn't look at the classes too closely. I looked at the available ones. What do you think about me going into business? I want your opinions. At this point, do not sign me up for the civil engineering courses. Nothing sounds more boring to me that a class on "measurements". I think I remember that at some point there was the option for a persuasive writing class. That could really help me. The Roman history class sounds very interesting, but I don't know how helpful that will be. Sign me up for that if it clears me of some requirements. I would LOVE to take that class and read Talmage's "The Great Apostasy". Oh, I will race through that book! Although I do not enjoy biology or chemistry, it sounds like I need to take those for general classes. I wouldn't know what math to take, because Math113 was incredibly difficult. So hard! Actually, I could see Statistics helping me. Please don't overwhelm me, I am thinking something like 12-14 credits. Tell me what you think.

I appreciate all the updates and the spiritual insights. This is God's work and the Book of Mormon is true and of God. It is that simple. Through a modern prophet, God has restored vital truths to His Plan of Salvation. If you don't know that, then start studying, searching and get on your knees. Don't fool around. As Elder Holland said last conference, "we cannot afford to dribble out of bounds". Go to church, pray often--on your knees--and study the scriptures. I am grateful for my upbringing and my loving family, and for the peace that living God's commandments brings. God bless.

Love you all,

Elder Galbraith

They call me the "Gally Goose"!

The goose is part of a playground at the park we had P-Day activity at and I couldn't pass up getting pictures.

You can't tell from the pictures but the neck is actually a tube slide, one wing is a climbing wall and the other is a set of 3 open slides. Talk about fun. I felt like I really had a chance to release energy. I have not had a normal P-Day activity outside since October 2010. Felt good to run around, play frisbee, toss a big foam airplane around (a missionary had one), go to Wascana lake and walkaround, and, of course, play on the playground. What a great start to the day, seriously...

I did get my camera cord, by the way. I have only taken a few pictures the past few weeks partially because I forget that my camera is working again. More will come, just keep on me for them.

Elder Galbraith


Monday, March 12, 2012

Fast fingers

Seems like a lot to write about and respond to this week. I will do my best!

I just about roasted the past few days: plus 7! (about 45F) Jackets off and let’s go, sort of thing.

This past week was a great week for Elder Dunn and I, and a so-so week for the zone. Despite that, however, I feel like I need to do a better job setting the example and the bar high so that others can follow. Coming from previous areas with great success, it has been a gradual building process here, but now we feel like we are at the beginning of a big wave of success. We are now teaching many people and teaching more lessons too. Now, I know that success is not strictly based on numbers, but Key Indicators sure "indicate" how the work is coming along pretty well. I am trying to improve our Key Indicators for the people we are in contact with, not solely for the numbers. Like I said already, I just need to provide an example for the rest of the zone. There are so many new missionaries, and I am finding that they need more training, positive feedback and quality examples than I originally supposed. What a challenge! I am up to the task.

Elder Dunn and I's week was pretty busy. The Assistants came through and we exchanged with them a couple of times and they helped us find a few promising people. Elder Bodily (the district leader in Regina and my former companion whom I love) and I also went on an exchange with the elders down in Weyburn. He is going through a difficult point in his mission and our talk helped him some. He has had some difficult companions as of late and he expressed that without his first 3 companions (I was his 2nd) that he would not have made it, so I saw that as a big compliment. Thanks Elder Bodily! We discussed how we can better help the work in his area and the district and had a good chat. I reminded him that much is expected of the leaders in the zone and that we need to set better examples. "To whom much is given, much is required." We discussed ideas. Anyway, the exchange in Weyburn really seemed to help the Weyburn elders. We found a bunch of potentials for them and set up a number of appointments. The visit really boosted their confidence in the work and in their abilities....Now getting to my week...I am contacting as many people as I can, and seem to be drawn to the Chinese people here. Oh, many are humble and eager to learn more about God! One in particular has been progressing. Tom approached me a couple weeks back and asked if he could come to our church and learn more. I said, "sure!" We have visited and he has enjoyed the learning process and we invited him to be baptized and he accepted a BD for April 7th. He also said that he wanted to meet EVERY DAY until then so he could be ready. He has already learned so much, considering he started at ground-zero. But...the biggest news is that he said he reviewed his schedule and that he wanted to reschedule the BD--for earlier. So ya, the building is all booked and set to go for March 24th at 1:30! Elder Dunn and I are going to have a baptism together! He has been discouraged for a while because he has not had a baptism for nearly a year. Now, no more! Oh, Tom is so eager to learn and he and another Chinese member are developing a good friendship. He will need more friends and this week we need to get him ready for his Baptismal Interview, which Elder Bodily will do. Phew. As far as Elder Dunn and the area go, the Assistants dropped a hint that we can expect changes in a few weeks, so stay tuned, I guess.

Before I share an experience from the past week, I wanted to throw in a few random things. I absolutely love this Recent Convert from Nigeria, named Kuami. He is so dynamic. Another Recent Convert from Chinese really helps us out a bunch, Damon. Damon is our main source of support for the Chinese investigators and we are trying to help out some of the other Chinese recent converts get to the point where they are spiritually mature enough that they can help us with appointments and fellowshipping. We also had a Ward Mission Leader (WML) called for our little ward. He is preparing for a mission himself and is a die-hard member. He will do amazingly well, its just weird having a WML who is younger than I am...I was asked last-minute to conduct the music during Sacrament Meeting and I was comfortable with that--until I got up and saw that the first song was in 9/8 time for the 2nd half of it. Phew...I just did a quick 3/4 time swath and it seemed to buff-out.

So this past week Elder Dunn and I were asked to give a blessing to a member of the ward. We knew the family of this stalwart member is living a very rough lifestyle, but we were still taken aback when we walked in the door. Piles of clothes and stuff were piled all over the place. To give you a little sample of what the atmosphere was: loud, stupid, rap music was blaring from downstairs and and rough "friends" of the family were there, who asked us "questions". Ugh. We had them turn the music WAY down for the blessing, which went well, but the whole ordeal (which I cannot even scrape the surface of) really reminded me of how truly fortunate I am for my life, and my upbringing. I would be extremely prideful to complain about my circumstances. My so-called "humble" livings all the sudden look like luxury living. Wow. The people there and their comments strengthened my testimony that there is peace and TRUE happiness in keeping the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom, which are given by God as commandments for our protection and eternal happiness. I also was reminded that the family unit is the best place to raise a family and that the family is under attack like never before. It is our duty as children of God to defend the true nature of the family, and to be bright examples of the true happiness that is found therein. The visit made that big of an impact on me. Now, before I finish, this member and her mom live valiant lives and earnestly try their best--and do well. Their family makes things difficult for them, but they are wonderful and delightful.

Ok, to try to answer a few things...I am really pleased to hear the house is coming along and I pray daily for a quick sale. Best of luck to Delaney with her volleyball tournaments. Oh, speaking of my family, I was also given a glimpse of what I want to do in the brief period I will be home before university. I want to spend a lot of time with family and go on walks and drives with my immediate family and nieces and nephews. I especially want to help them in any way I can. (I was teaching a first lesson and the individual asked about "back home" and instead of giving the easy answers I thought about back home and my family and these ideas came to my mind.) As far as classes go, I really don't know how I feel about engineering. It seems so boring and seems like it just isn't a passion of mine. I am rethinking...maybe business? I know that BYU's business college is like shooting for the stars, but the stars are still in reach, I could do it if I set my mind to it. What could be better than managing a car dealership?! I honestly don't know, maybe since I have been away from engineering for a while, it has cooled off. At this point, please do not sign me up for engineering classes. We'll leave it open. Please give me your opinion....Oh...the car news makes me drool. Can you send pictures? No, I have not heard about Mikey giving that talk. I look forward to that. I appreciate the occasional emails from Kim. Nothing is better than feeling connected with family. When I saw the name Dan Romero my heart skipped a beat. This rat-killing-dog loves that man. Yes, I still tell that joke.

Have I worn you out yet? That's all I got, and this may be a record-breaking length letter from a missionary. Can't promise I can do this every week, but the stars aligned for you. A good week for me, I hope for a good week for all of you.

Love ya,
Elder Galbraith
Basically, missionaries have been teaching too many members and nearly neglecting teaching investigators as a result. Ugh. President is instructing us on that. I will really miss the Paulsons. All the member teaching has been done with the best of intentions and to seek referrals, but we are instructing them to cut back member lessons and get teaching investigators--or finding. Like I said, lots of instruction. Elder Dunn and I had a good week, and I hope to build off of it. Will keep you updated!

Oh, big news: I spoiled myself and got a cuff-link shirt. Oh, it is beautiful. Yes, I have cuff-links to go with it, the hanky, and the smile to polish it all off.

Elder Galbraith

Monday, March 5, 2012

Almost spring

Sure is almost spring isn't it? It's been an eventful week, for sure. I will see what I can do to try to help you see just how busy it was.

We had 2 Zone Meetings that we conducted this week.  One in Regina on Tuesday and one in Saskatoon the next day.  They were so different!  Elder Dunn and I do not want to set goals for the missionaries, instead we want to help them set effective goals.  Again, the 2 meetings were very different.  The faith of the elders in 1 was dismal and the faith of the elders in the other was very good.  The elders in the more faith-filled meeting were optimistic, yet realistic, and because they were, in general they posted more success in terms of their goal.  I was very excited about the other meeting though.  The zone requires Elder Dunn's and my utmost attention--so I apologize to anyone that may feel I have not written them lately, there are probably a few.  Sunrise to sunset I am busy.  I really enjoy this new responsibility but it sure stretches me.  I have never had to do anything like this before.  Perhaps what I enjoy most is seeing people do better and be better.  There is one missionary in particular up in Saskatoon that I am very impressed with.  He was a downer but changed areas and appears to have turned the corner.  He and his companion posted huge success this week despite being sick!  I also enjoy providing encouragement, especially in practicing.  I remember early on in my mission that encouragement really helped me feel as though I was going to be a good missionary.

Something that Mike hinted at in his last email to me in response to one I sent him, he mentioned how missionary work is not always easy.  The thought has crossed my mind: with such a divine work, shouldn't people be flooding to me?  I recently heard a talk from Elder Holland where he said "Why is missionary work not easy?  Because salvation is not cheap, because Christ's suffering was not easy."  He went on to discuss that we cannot feel an infinitesimally small amount (does that make sense?) of Christ's suffering, even with our trials, but with the trials we have, we can only begin to feel as He felt.  It sure is hard sometimes.  I can get to wit's end with rude people.  But it all helps me grow, and I recognize that.  I see that I am learning things as I experience it all.  I know that I am better prepared to stand up for what I believe than before.  To be honest, I don't really remember if I knew some things or not before my mission, but I am grateful for the experiences I have had and the added knowledge and faith I have.

Thinking back to the goals set in zone meetings, something that Elder Dunn frequently quotes Pres. Paulson goes like this, "high failure is better than low success".  Let me explain.  If I set a goal to read my scriptures for 1 hour every day of the week but only do that for 6 days, technically is a failure.  But if I set a goal to read my scriptures for 1 hour one day this week and do exactly that, that is a success.  Which is better?  I think this is profound coming from someone as experienced and accomplished as he in the workplace.

I want everyone to know that I am no longer a picky eater.  We went to a Nigerian's house for a meal and we ate some great chicken and beef and rice, and...the member taught me to eat the bones of the chicken.  So...what did I do?  Ya, I ate the meat of the chicken, and the bones.  Oh ya. I felt accomplished, and never would have done that one before coming to Canada.  I know that Nate and Brendin have probably eaten crazier things, but you know what, that's ok with me. While on the subject of food, I saw a can of butternut squash soup and instantly had a craving for it.  I know that the canned stuff cannot compete with Auntie Sharon's homemade soup, Oh...

We tracted into a less-active family yesterday. We are hoping that the YSA-age daughter will come to FHE tonight.  (That's Young Single Adult, and Family Home Evening.)

Well that's about it, except for one thing.  I did not mention my travels nor a big thing that happened.  I went to Saskatoon, to Prince Albert, back to Saskatoon and then to Regina.  Phew. While in Saskatoon I was street-contacting on a bridge with a new missionary (on exchanges) and I approached a guy whose response caught me off guard. "Mormon? Ya...I'm already a member".  Really?  Well, I struck up a conversation and was just as spunky as could be and we talked for probably 20 minutes and he said he has gone away from the Church and usually would never talk to anyone, but felt like he should to me.  He would not give me his address, but did give me his phone #, and I have yet to call him.  He felt really connected to me, and said he would not like other missionaries to visit unless I was there.  Ugh!  I wish I were in Saskatoon for a few more days!  Get this--I mentioned my Dad was from Vulcan and his eyes got big and he stepped back and said "NO!" in terror.  I was actually pretty scared, and then he said, “ I'm from Vulcan, no-one knows of Vulcan!” His name is Roger Brown, and his father was Carl Brown.  Ever heard of them Dad?  Let me know if you have, there could be a reactivation in the process here.

Love ya lots, and as always, I am eager to hear from you again,

Elder Galbraith

My new mission President's name is President Thomas, from Juneau Alaska. He will come June 28th, and will finish me up. Scary thought.