Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Family Home Evening Russian Spiritual Thought.

One of the girls at YSA, Mikyla Young, gave this spiritual thought at the Young Single Adult Family Home Evening. Her father was Mission President when she was a girl. When she got her own mission call, she served in the Ukraine. She adapted her favorite Russian folk tale into this spiritual thought.

The Firebird 

The Firebird

Once upon a time there was a tsar named Berendey, who had three sons. The tsar's palace was surrounded by a beautiful orchard, and among the trees in the orchard was a wonderful apple-tree which bore golden apples. One day the tsar discovered that someone was getting into the orchard and stealing his golden apples. He was furious, and sent his guards to catch the thief. But though they watched all night they were quite unsuccessful.
    The tsar was so upset at the loss of his golden apples that he lost his appetite too. His sons tried to comfort him, and the eldest told him: "I will go and guard the orchard against the thief tonight, father."
    And he went off to the orchard. But although he arrived there quite early in the evening and walked about for some time, he saw no one. So he lay down on a grassy bank and soon fell asleep. Next morning his father asked him:
"Well, have you good news for me? Did you see the thief?"
"No, father," his son answered. "I did not sleep a wink all night, I did not even close my eyes. But I saw no one."
    The following night the tsar's second son went to guard the orchard. But he, too, slept all night, and next morning he told his father he, too, had seen no sign of a thief, although he had not closed his eyes.
    Now it was the turn of the youngest brother, Prince Ivan, to guard the orchard. And he was so anxious not to miss the thief that he was afraid even to sit down, let alone to lie down. When he felt he was getting drowsy he washed his face with dew, and this made him wide-awake again. About halfway through the night he thought he saw a light in the orchard. It grew brighter and brighter, until all the trees were lit up. Then he saw that the light was coming from a Firebird, which was sitting on the apple-tree and pecking at the golden apples.
    So he crept up very quietly to the tree and caught hold of the bird by the tail. But the Firebird spread its wings and flew away, leaving only one tail feather in Prince Ivan's hand.
    Next morning, when he went to report to his father, the tsar asked him:
"Well, Ivan, did you see the thief?"
"Dear father," Ivan answered, "I cannot say I caught him, but I have found out who is eating our apples. And I have brought you a tail feather in proof. It is the Firebird."
    The tsar took the feather and looked at it, and no longer felt sorrowful; but he thought a great deal about the Firebird, and one day he sent for his sons and told them:
"My dear children, I want you to saddle good horses and ride forth into the world to see whether you can find and bring back the Firebird."
    The young men bowed to their father, saddled good horses, and set out on their travels: the eldest in one direction, the second son in another, and Prince Ivan in a third direction.
    He rode near and far, high and low, along by-paths and by-ways - for speedily a tale is spun, but with less speed a deed is done - until he came to a wide, open field, a green meadow. And there in the field stood a pillar, and on the pillar these words were written: "Whosoever goes from this pillar on the road straight before him will be cold and hungry. "Whosoever goes to the right side will be safe and sound, but his horse will be killed. And whosoever goes to the left side will be killed himself, but his horse will be safe and sound." Prince Ivan read this inscription and went to the right, thinking that although his horse might be killed, he himself would remain alive and would in time get another horse.
    He rode one day, then a second day, then a third. Suddenly an enormous gray wolf came toward him and said: "Ah, so it's you, young lad, Prince Ivan! You saw the inscription on the pillar that said that your horse would be killed if you came this way. Why then have you come hither?" When he had said these words, he tore Prince Ivan's horse in twain and ran off to one side.
    Prince Ivan was sorely grieved for his horse; he shed bitter tears and then continued on foot. He walked a whole day and was utterly exhausted. He was about to sit down and rest for a while when all at once the gray wolf caught up with him and said: "I am sorry for you, Prince Ivan, because you are exhausted from walking; I am also sorry that I ate your good horse. Tell me why you have travelled so far, and where you are going"
"My father has sent me to ride through the world until I find the Firebird."
"Why, you could have ridden even on your good horse for three years and never found the Firebird for only I know where it lives. I ate your horse, so now I will serve you faithfully and well. Get on my back and hold on tight."

    Prince Ivan seated himself astride the grey wolf, and it loped away, past the green forests, and the azure lakes. At last they came to a very high fortress. There the grey wolf told Ivan:
"Listen to me, and remember what I say. Climb over the wall and do not be afraid; all the guards are asleep. In the attic you will see a small window; in the window hangs a golden cage, and in that cage is the Firebird. Take the bird and hide it under your coat; but be sure not to touch the cage."
    Prince Ivan climbed over the wall and saw the attic. And, just as the wolf had said, in the attic window a golden cage was hanging, and the Firebird was in the cage. He took out the bird and put it under his coat. But as he looked at the golden cage he could not help coveting it. It was made of precious gold; how could he leave it behind? He completely forgot what the wolf had told him. But as soon as he touched the cage the alarm was sounded all through the fortress; drums rolled and trumpets blared, the guards woke up, captured Prince Ivan and took him to Tsar Afron. The tsar was furious at this attempt to steal the Firebird and the cage, and asked the prince:
"Who are you, and where are you from?"
"I am Prince Ivan, the son of Tsar Berendey," Ivan replied.
"How shameful! The son of a tsar coming here to steal!" the tsar exclaimed.
"That is as may be," the prince retorted. "But your bird flew to our orchard and stole the golden apples."
    In that case you should have come to me and asked me for the Firebird and I would have given it to you out of respect for your father. But now I shall see to it that all the world knows of your behavior! And in order to earn my forgiveness you will have to enter my service. A certain Tsar Kusman has a horse with a golden mane. Bring that horse to me, and I will give you the Firebird and the cage."
    Prince Ivan was downcast at the thought of having to undertake such a task, and he went to tell the grey wolf what had happened. But the wolf said to him:
"I told you not to touch the cage. Why did you disobey me?"
"I know I did wrong; but forgive me, grey wolf."
"It is easy enough to ask forgiveness," the wolf answered. "All right, get on my back again. We will not turn back now."
    Once more the grey wolf loped off with Prince Ivan on its back. And at last they came to the fortress where the horse with the golden mane was stabled. Then the wolf told Ivan:
"Climb over the wall; do not be afraid, the guards are asleep. Go to the stable and bring out the horse. But be sure not to touch the bridle you will see hanging there."
    The prince climbed over the wall into the fortress, and saw that the guards were asleep. He went straight to the stable and found the horse with the golden mane. But his eyes fell on a bridle hanging up; it was of gold and studded with precious stones: the only bridle fit for a horse with a golden mane. And he put out his hand to take it. But at once the alarm was sounded all through the fortress; drums rolled and trumpets blared, the guards woke up, took the prince a prisoner and led him before Tsar Kusman.
"Who are you, and where are you from ?" the tsar asked Ivan.
"I am Prince Ivan."
"To attempt to steal a horse shows little wisdom! Even a peasant would not try to do that. But I will let you off, Prince Ivan, if you agree to enter my service. A certain tsar named Dalmat has a daughter, the beautiful Helen. Carry her off and bring her to me, and then I will give you the golden-maned horse and the golden bridle."
    At this verdict Prince Ivan was even more downcast than before. Again he went to see the grey wolf. But the wolf said:
"I told you not to touch the bridle. You did not obey my orders."
"Nevertheless, forgive me, forgive me, grey wolf," the prince pleaded.
"It is all very well, saying “forgive”. All right, get on my back."
    Once more the grey wolf raced off with Prince Ivan on his back, until they came to Tsar Dalmat's fortress. But this time the grey wolf said to the prince:
    You have done enough. You stay here and I will go get the beautiful Helen. The grey wolf soon returned with the beautiful Helen for the prince.

In this act, the grey wolf is like the Savior. How many times have we disobeyed and fallen short? How many times have we repented and asked for forgiveness? When we have fallen short, the Lord says, it is enough and He makes up the difference.

In April conference 2016, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave this talk, Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You
The Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do.”6 Boy, aren’t we all thankful for that added provision “and … seeketh so to do”! That has been a lifesaver because sometimes that is all we can offer! We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list.
Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christ like virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.”7 He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek.
“As you desire of me so it shall be done unto you,” the Lord has declared.
“… Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously. …
“… [Then] whatsoever you desire of me [in] righteousness, … you shall receive.8
I love that doctrine! It says again and again that we are going to be blessed for our desire to do good, even as we actually strive to be so. And it reminds us that to qualify for those blessings, we must make certain we do not deny them to others: we are to deal justly, never unjustly, never unfairly; we are to walk humbly, never arrogantly, never pridefully; we are to judge righteously, never self-righteously, never unrighteously.
My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.
Now, with that majestic devotion ringing from heaven as the great constant in our lives, manifested most purely and perfectly in the life, death, and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can escape the consequences of both sin and stupidity—our own or that of others—in whatever form they may come to us in the course of daily living. If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children! It is a plan predicated on the truth “that all things work together for good to them that love God.”10 So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

Lots of love,
Robyn, Mom, Grandma, and Sister Brown

Friday, July 22, 2016

District Meeting

     Thursday, July 21, 2016 we were invited to attend the district meeting. We held the meeting via Skype. The Wapiti and Bear Creek Wards are here in Grande Prairie. Dawson Creek Ward is 70 miles away and it takes 1.5 hours to drive. Fort St. John Ward is 128 miles away and takes 2.5 hours. What a blessing that we have technology where we could all be together, participate in discussion, be trained, and help and support each other.  The Sisters in Fort St. John are teaching a Korean investigator who doesn't speak English, but they are all trying and making some progress. I suggested they get a copy of the Children's song book translated into Korean. That helped Eunmi so much. The Edmonton Mission office has copies of the Book of Mormon in 100 different languages. They have some of the other resources in those languages as well. There are actually language missionaries in the Edmonton Mission teaching in Spanish, Tagalog, and I think Chinese.
     I feel so blessed to be here and working with these fine young missionaries. They are blessing the lives of the people in Canada who have been prepared to receive them. The scripture in D&C: 31:7, "Yea, I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you."

     The people who live in Northern Alberta are so spread out. The Canada Edmonton Mission is the largest mission geographically in the church. I drew  a map of our stake. It has to be one of the biggest stakes by area in the church. There are also some big wards geographically.

     I have been really studying the Mission map. I thought the Wapati ward was the biggest I knew of, but it is not. It is about 70 miles by more than 150. The farthest community is 141 miles from our house. But the boundaries go farther than that. There are some in our stake way bigger.  The High Level Branch is the biggest area. And there are 57 households. We will be going to High Level at some time. It is another 300 miles and 5 hour drive from here. That is a long way for those members to come to Stake Conference.

     God . . . is mindful of all His children and is desirous that they will have the blessings of the gospel in their lives----wherever and whoever they are. Shauna Humphreys

This is pretty close to scale. It is the Grande Prairie Stake. Our stake is in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

There is a map of the whole Edmonton Mission. You will have to go to the internet to look it up. Look up Canada_Edmonton_Mission_Poster.pdf on the LDS.org sight.
Or at google prompt type, Canada Edmonton Mission Boundaries.
You can see the whole mission.

Thank you for your interest in our mission and following along with our blog. We love all of you.
Sister Brown, Robyn, Mom and Grandma


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

P-Day exploring and visiting

We live in Grande Prairie, Alberta Canada. We are a little more than 5 hours north and west of 
Edmonton. Edmonton is in North Alberta. Calgary is in South Alberta. 

It is the prairie and we can see forever.

We live at the edge of Grand Prairie.

Our apartment is on a busy road, but there are subdivisions behind us. This is from the edge. We decided to take a drive, on P-day, to the farthest edge of the Wapiti Ward. It is 141 miles from our house. 

On the way we saw a natural gas sub station.

Tucked away we saw oil well pumps. You will see them in other pictures we will show you.

The forest isn't too thick here. It is made up of deciduous (the leaves fall off) trees and conifers (could be a Christmas tree).

 We saw beautiful flowers.

There is logging going on in lots of parts of the mountains. We never saw one logging truck. They have their own private road, one way, to Grande Prairie, to make it safer for the other motorists.

As we drove farther we could see the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

We also saw a coal fueled power plant.

Across the highway was a mine cut in the side of the mountain, where coal had been taken.

This vein of coal is right next to the highway we were driving on. You could just pick up a big chunk of coal, except it might be illegal.

We had to cross a bridge.

The surface of the bridge is planks of wood.

We took a side trip to the Smoky River.

These huge cliffs are called Sulpher Gates.

Smoky River down stream.

The walk to the lookouts wasn't far.

There were 4 lookouts.

This from the side of the path.

It is hard to tell that this is REALLY far down. Those trees at the edge are REALLY tall.

We don't know what a stealth project would be, but there were 5  roads.

Trying to show the aspen trees. We found this grove on the edge of a lumber cut. The leaves are at the top of the trees. They are taller than quaking aspen in Utah.

They are not trimmed to look like that.

Our destination was Gande Cache. It is a little town tucked in the Rockies. We were half way to Jasper National Park. (Canada). There are a few member families from the ward living here. They make it to Grande Prairie about once a month, never in the winter. It is a long way, over 2 hours, and could be expensive depending on how good of gas mileage the car gets. We talked with one of the sisters for a while. Her husband and two sons have gone to Utah to visit relatives, but she had to work. This is a rough country. There are lots of people who live far from church buildings. They do the best they can. This little group of people get together for Sacrament Meeting on the weeks they don't come to Grand Prairie. I admire them. I'm sure we will meet lots of people in this ward who have same kinds of distance hardships.

Trip home took as long as going. Except we also had some rain. We did see an elk cow and a doe and her fawn. And a few crows.

Until later,
Sister Brown, Mom, Grandma, and Robyn

Saturday, July 16, 2016

First week in Canada

Sunday morning we woke up in Helena, MT and it was still raining. We had no problem finding the church where we attended Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and Relief Society/Priesthood. People welcomed us. We had a bite of lunch and drove the three hours to the Canadian border. There were no crowds of people on their way to the Calgary Stampede. We had a very nice, efficient female officer who interviewed us and prepared our visas. It only took 48 minutes and we were on our way. We stayed in Lethbridge Sunday night.

Monday morning we started on our 5 hour drive to Edmonton. It took us 7 hours because we stopped to stretch, run around and change drivers about every hour or so. The landscape is all prairie. The farmers even cut and bail the grass along the sides of the highway and in the median. We really love the bright yellow canola fields. The sky is BIG. It was big in Montana, too, but it was raining most of the time.

It was great meeting the mission office staff in Edmonton.  President Pattison told us we would be serving in Grande Prairie and that we still had to drive for 5 more hours. He then took us home to stay the night and he and Sister Pattison took us to dinner at a place called Montana. We met two of their sons and a nephew. What a nice family. The days are longer here than in Utah.

Tuesday morning and we were on our way at 8am. It rained on some of the drive to Grande Prairie. We met the Elders/Zone Leaders when we got into town. They told us where the apartment was and we met at a new apartment complex building. We are the first tenants of a first floor apartment in the Mission Pointe Apartments. The complex is in the Mission Heights District. Isn't that a coincidence.  It is a very nice apartment. The perks are 2 bedrooms, dishwasher, AND apartment size washer and dryer. We are so blessed. We got a lot of unpacking done before we went shopping to buy food, and other things we need, like waste baskets.

We got to look around as we found the grocery store, Safeway, and the Dollar Store, where everything is $1.25 or less. We stocked up on things we need, and then returned on Thursday, and Friday, to get the other things we need. I think we almost have it.

Wednesday, was a Zone Training Meeting, at 8am. We met the 8 missionary companionships assigned to the Grande Prairie Stake. It is one of the biggest stakes geographically speaking. The farthest north is High Level, another 5 hour drive. It also fans out East, South, and West. There are 1800 people in the stake. It was fun to meet the missionaries. Three of the companionships are Sisters. The Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders, gave good training. And of course we had role play.

After a very nice lunch, we attended a funeral in Richfield, UT. Elder Anderson's mother passed away 2 weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer. The funeral was skyped and Elder Anderson spoke at his mother's funeral. How blessed we are to have technology for this to take place. It was such a blessing for Elder Anderson and his family for him to "be there". It was an honor to support him at this time.

Thursday was the first time in weeks we didn't have to be somewhere at 8am. We could have slept until then, but woke up at 7:30 instead. I do need to make some light blocking curtains. We are so far north, at 55 degrees latitude and have no mountains. The sun comes up at 4:30 a.m. and it doesn't get dark until 11:30 p.m. When the sun gets as high as it would if it were coming over the Wasatch Mountains, it has been up for hours. We organized the office, and went to the store to order internet service. There is only so much one can do on a phone. We did other shopping as well.

The internet installer came on Friday and hooked us up. Mike was such an interesting man. He said no one is from Grande Prairie. That is not entirely true, But there are lots of people here because of the oil and natural gas fields. There is also a big lumber mill here. And there are farmers. And surprisingly to Elder Brown is the plethora of golf courses. E. Brown notes, "Farmers don't take time to golf. Oil field workers aren't the golfing type. Why are there so many places to golf?" Well, according to Mike, the farmers own the golf courses. They are 9 hole courses, everybody walks, and it is usually associated with a Bed and Breakfast. Well, OK. Since we have so many daylight hours after quitting time, what better way to spend time?

We were able to talk to the Stake President, who is on vacation. Our assignment in Grande Prairie is Young Single Adult, activation, and Prospective Elders. We will get started on Sunday. We did meet the 2nd Councilor in the Stake Presidency at Staples. He saw the tags and visited with us for a long time. He told us other stores we could shop at, and acquainted us with the areas of the city. He actually lives in Mission Heights.

Tuesday is P-day and we moved in that day. But today is Saturday. We vacuumed and dusted, and cleaned the bathroom. We went to the post office and a few other places to compare prices. We are feeling confident in navigating and direction. Avenues run East to West, and streets run North to South. There are no mountains for reference, so it is a good thing the car has a compass. Grande Prairie Village started at 100 Ave. and 100 St. The City of Grande Prairie is now about 4 miles by 4 miles. We also now have two computers set up and they both speak to the printer. We have had a productive week.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Our week at the MTC

Wow, what an awesome week we just had. The classes have been awesome. The teachers were awesome. Our district was a big one and had 11 couples. We had two morning teachers and two afternoon teachers. Many of the other teachers taught in the Big Group Meetings. We learned so much. The other couples are wonderful. We got to know the other 10 in our district quite well. One of the 11 was a companionship of two single sisters. We had fun interacting with both of them. Sister Ferrington is from Louisiana and I really enjoyed her accent. (Remembering Lucille.)

We loved the MTC video of Elder David Bednar, talking about the Character of Christ.
      Turn outward, not inward.
      It's not about you.
      A testimony is not enough, you have to be converted to Christ.
      Be like him.
      Do things for people, not to for the recognition.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen was the Tuesday night devotional speaker. That was an amazing meeting. Besides the 130 senior couples, there were 2,000 missionaries. The missionary choir was so moving. Elder Jensen had 5 grandsons and 1 granddaughter in the audience. That was awesome. His talk was on the levels of Faith in the Book of Mormon. He started with Ether 12:12-16.
12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
 13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.
 14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
 15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
16 Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.

I wish I could write all my notes, but I'm not going to. 

The roll plays were only roll plays, but they were also so real. I really felt the Spirit testifying to me. And you know about my leaky right eye when I feel the spirit. Well both eyes leaked a lot. I have never cried, or smiled, or sometimes both at the same time, so much in my life. But, I wasn't the only one. I have decided that the MTC is the Happiest place on earth,--not Disneyland or Disney World. If you don't believe me, I challenge you to see for yourself.

Our training was finished Friday at 4:00. We were taught and challenged to the end, but it was also a very relaxed week. Everyone treats the Senior Missionaries so special, but they all are very special. No one is there because they might be feeling pressure to go on a mission. There is no pushing the envelope to see what you can get away with. They are paying all their mission expenses. They come with such expertise and talents. They are humble and teachable, and at the same time they can teach so much.

The next 18 months seems like a long time, but with what we have experienced we don't want it to end. 

I love you all. Robyn, Mom, Grandma and Sister Brown

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

We understand that this is a required picture.


We have spent two fabulous days at the MTC. We have been learning how to use "Preach My Gospel" on our mission. The teachers are great and have a sense of humor and make learning fun.  We get to teach our first mock discussion tomorrow.  Should be great. We are staying in student housing and it is quite nice. Not the Ritz but clean and comfortable.  There were 130 senior missionaries that arrived on Monday.  A bigger group than usual.  We are meeting lots of great people, both seniors and young missionaries. One of our teachers is the grandson of Andre and Teppa Mostert from Illinois. One of the senior missionary couples is from Blackfoot, Idaho and knows my cousin Katherine (Brown) Smith.  Small world, isn't it.

Elder Brown, Bruce, Dadoo