(Sunday evening) Remember last email how I said that I was ok with sleep? Well that lasted until Tuesday. My schedule has allowed for no stops. I prefer this over the alternative! Friday I fell asleep looking at my planner with my eyes open during planning. Ha. Saturday night we drove back from Kenora, dropped Missionary Fireside fliers at our churches, got a call to assist in giving a missionary a blessing, then talked to the zone leaders in person about a few needs of the zone until 11:30. Lots to do, no time to slow down--perfect.
Interviews went well in Manitoba. We have round 2 this upcoming week in SK. We are traveling up to Saskatoon tomorrow and will begin an exchange at 6. Zone Conference went really well. There are lots of changes coming from church headquarters to the missionary world. For example we will be reporting our indicators online and a few small tweaks here and there. Looks like some interesting changes this upcoming transfer, but I do not know what is certain yet. Stay tuned, sort of thing.
My exchange to Kenora went well. We stayed Friday night there. Oh, brutal...no AC and on Saturday it got up to 38C. Scorcher...The current elders out there are really good. One is a new district leader that we are helping with some pointers. The other is a well-prepared new missionary full of greenie fire. Exchanges went well. One very interesting thing that I was told is that virtually the entire city of Kenora has good vibes towards the Church. The pastor of the biggest chuch in town is apparently telling everyone to "be nice to the Mormons". It was not always like that. I am not trying to elevate myself on a pedastal by saying this, but the senior companion in Kenora told me that a factor in the change in mentality of the people in Kenora towards the Church had to do with me singing in that little choir for a month or so, which ironically was at that "biggest church" in Kenora. It just leaves good feelings. Also while in Kenora I ate supper with a number of my favorite people from Kenora: the Wickhams, the Ladds, the Goodridges and Sister Irene Fredrickson. Oh ya. It was so good to see Irene "just one of the crowd" if you know what I mean. I love those people and I love that area. Bro. Wickham is like my mission dad. He helps people out so much. He has a house right on the Winnipeg River in the woods just out of town and it is BEAUTIFUL. I invited them to my Farewell Fireside. Ugh, that is coming up. I have only begun inviting people because I procrastinated it on purpose.
Regarding Zone Conference, it went well. Elder Deeble and I's portion was on teaching "Baptism, Our First Covenant" more clearly and with more of a focus on how baptism is a covenant and what a covenant is. After briefly teaching that, the practice continued with a direct invitation to be baptized, and then establishing expectations with the investigator. Throughout the practice we emphasized teaching doctrine clearly, being bold, direct and persistent. With all the new missionaries, the mission is lacking somewhat in those areas, especially in teaching doctrine simply and clearly. The MTC now prepares missionaries with teaching skills and allows missionaries to learn doctrine while out in the field. That is completely different from my experience in the MTC where I was taught straight doctrine and learned teaching skills out in the field. How lucky the new missionaries are!
This week will be spent in SK until coming home on Saturday.
Jessica and her family are doing ok. She got really discouraged this morning when things just did not work out for her to come to church today. We had stopped by at 8 (church at 10) to wake them up, as they had asked. No real response. At 9:40 I got a call saying she was coming but would be late, and then at 5 to 10 she called and was emotional that she was not able to make it to church with some things that came up. Still working there, but her desire is growing and she is recognizing distinct answers to prayers. She is working at quitting smoking and she mentioned how she feels a distinct urge to not want to smoke when she reads from the Book of Mormon. She enjoys reading it when she can. She is coming along.
(Monday morning) Sounds like things are plugging away in Boise. Way to go Mom on sharing your testimony like that! There are a lot of people who misunderstand that we are total Christians. I am proud of you. Sounds like Dad has been running some sort of marathon between states. Keep sprinting! You beat me in trip distance...by the end of this week I will have had just over 2100 kms travel over the prior 2 weeks, so about 1300 miles. It is weird, but I am really starting to like metric...
I think Mom will like this: the Paulsons had a "mission candy", M&M's, standing for members and missionaries. It was a great idea and worked well. The Thomas', wanting to carry on this tradition of a mission candy now have the motto "Search, Find and Rescue". Any guesses as to that candy? Lifesavers is right. Them being from Alaska makes it even better.
The most spiritual part of this past week for me was Zone Conference. The Spirit was so strong. The Thomas' gave powerful portions. Because departing missionaries give 5 minute testimonies at Zone Conference, I pondered what I wanted to say and reflected a lot. That brought the Spirit a lot. When it was time to give brief testimonies I had a few things jotted down and I followed Elder Dunn, a tough act to follow. Once I got up to the pulpit I was done. The waterworks were on for sure. I expressed my gratitude for Sister Thomas' portion on the importance of including Less-Active work into our efforts and I reflected on a few people that I have had the chance to work with. I thought of the Osters in Fort Frances, Brett Eidman in I-Falls and others. I expressed that I did not expect so many people to have such an impact on me while out here. I testified that the gospel is real and that it's cleansing is real. I encouraged anyone who was struggling to put others first and to dream of their success. I promised anyone who would do that would become lost in the work, and I can promise that because when I do that I forget about myself and "go to work". Lastly I exhorted everyone to give their best, because anything less than their best will cause them to miss out. God will bless us as we do. I also gave thanks and looked people in the eyes and called a few out by name. That is what I shared as part of my testimony and my remarks were directed at a few specific missionaries, but I think a number benefited (or so I hope).
That is all for now. The best part of the gospel is that it is all true. Love ya,
Friends in Kenora
With Bro. Wickham