Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sometimes it just feels right

Once everyone got back from holidays and school started, the wards started having ward council. During our first ward council the Bishop asked us to try and check on a member they hadn't seen for quite a while and they wanted to be sure he was OK. His name was Mel and he was one of the founders of the Church in the Peace Country. Heavenly Father helped us find Mel's house which was unmarked and out in the bush. His son Peder wasn't so sure he wanted us on his property. But when he saw we were missionaries we were greeted. He even invited us in to see his father, Mel. Unknown to us, that day was Mel's 93rd birthday. He was eating a bit of supper. He reminded me so much of my Dad, I just wanted to hug him and hold on to him. I'm sure he wouldn't have liked that.

It just felt like we were supposed to meet Mel and Peder, so we went to the house again and took Mel some oatmeal raisin cookies so we could get to know them better. They are his favorite and he enjoyed eating them. We intended to get back, but before we could make a third visit, Peder called us and Mel was in the hospital. We made a visit there. We visited every couple of days at first and then a little more frequently. One day Peder called and said "Dad just passed away, can you come?" We went to be with Peder and stayed with him 7 hours until the doctor came and pronounced Mel dead. Normally it wouldn't take that long, but Peder wanted the family doctor.

We had known Mel about 6 weeks. He didn't say many words to us, but we talked to him. We visited with Peder while he was at the hospital with his Dad and at a care center as he visited the "Dude". He told us lots of stories about his Dad, and with his Dad, and about the Peace Country where we are serving.  We love both of these special men, Mel and Peder.

The "Peace Country" known for its Prairie, the Boreal Forest, the Rocky Mountains and the Peace River, one of the longest river systems in Canada. Cities include Grande Prairie AB, Dawson Creek BC and the city of Fort St John BC. The Peace Country includes many Hamlets, Towns, Cities, Rural Farms and Ranches in north western Alberta and also north eastern British Columbia. Many refer to it as the Mighty Peace Country. 

Mel on his 90th birthday.

Mel had been a scouter in the Peace Country since he moved there from Saskatchewan in 1961. The local Scout Council wanted to have an Honor Guard at the funeral. Peder wanted me to be part of the Honor Guard. (I knew bringing my scout uniform would come in handy.) I read the tribute of the Old Wolf.

The Old Wolf has gone on to the Happy Hunting Ground.
We wish him all the best as he continues on his journey.
May the wind always be at his back.
May his compass always point true.
May his canteen always be full.
May he always have a warm bedroll.
May he always have dry matches and dry wood for his campfire.
May each night be a celebration - a big roaring campfire with songs and laughter.
And, may every hunt be a good hunt.
May the angels watch over him.
Good night, good hunting.

We went with Peder and the rest of the family to the cemetery. I took pictures of the road because you would never believe it, but they are nowhere to be found. I can explain it and I think you can imagine what it was like. The road in front of the little country cemetery was a mud quagmire. The cemetery is little and cars don't go into it. The cars parked on the side of the road and just sunk into the mud. The middle of the road was like sticky slime. It splooshed and splashed with each very careful step, so that mud was splattered on our lower clothes. It was snowing so we didn't stay long.

We returned to the church and all the people from the funeral were still there for a luncheon of finger foods. There was an  outpouring of love for everyone who knew Mel.

Now let me tell you about Chris, the "Dude". Chris was in a quading (four wheeler) accident 28 years ago, when he was 17. His injury left him as if he is paralyzed. He has full sensation in his body, but has no control over it, so he can't sit, stand or walk. He can't swallow so he has a feeding tube and he can't talk. His mind is totally functioning. He was from Grande Cache, two hours away. After he came out of the hospital in Edmonton, he came to Grande Prairie to be closer to his family. In 1998 Mel and Peder were assigned to home teach Chris. He didn't have a lot of visitors at the time. Mel and Peder have visited Chris three times a week ever since. They have taken other members of their family to see Chris, who has been nicknamed the "Dude" They have also included the missionaries serving in the area to see the Dude on Saturdays. We started to include ourselves in this as well. Mel stopped attending these visits in December.

Peder has the Dude's room decorated with things to look at. He keeps the Dude engaged. He gives him a spiritual lesson every time. He walks him around the care center and on good summer days will push him to a park a mile away. Peder quips that he has told the Dude more about his mission to North Carolina longer than he even served the mission.

The Dude loves his lumberjack hat. He has a hat collection of all sorts of hats.

All the missionaries have written their hometowns on labels and they are all over the wall.

This wall has some of his memorabilia.

He can sometimes make his right arm do what he wants, especially in a sword fight. He is taking on Elder Brown and two other elders in these pictures.

There is a small refrigerator in his room. Peder keeps a few of Elder Holland's favorite soda pop in there in case Elder Holland ever happens to visit the Dude. I don't know the significance of this. Every guest is offered a beverage when they visit Chris.

It takes a long time to communicate with Chris. He can answer yes and no questions with two of his fingers. It is slow going, but can be important. Chris communicates really will with me with just his smile and his eyes. He has heard all of Peder's stories for years and he seems to be enjoying mine on the times we go in to see the Dude and Peder is not there.

One of the highlights of our mission is meeting all three of these special men. God knows and loves each of these men.

I know God is our Father in Heaven. He knows all of us personally and loves us more than we can comprehend. He wants us to be happy in this life and return to live with Him. He provided a plan for us to accomplish that. The plan is called the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses all who accept and live it. It is in the family that we learn these truths and happiness the best. Family relationships can be challenging at times, but our Heavenly Father blesses us as we strive to learn and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

God talked to His prophets and His word was recorded to His children who lived in the Holy land in the Bible. Some of the prophets He talked to were Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. He also talked to His prophets who were living in the New World, the Americas. And those prophets recorded God's word given to His children living there. Some of those prophets were Lehi, Nephi, Samuel, Mormon and Moroni. God's word to His people in the Americas is recorded in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. All scriptures teach about God and are a special witness of His Son, Jesus Christ. He gives revelation (direction from the Lord) to the people,  Prophets hold the priesthood, or the authority to speak and act in the name of God to lead His children. When people follow the prophets they receive the blessings God has promised to His children.

The prophet who is Heavenly Father's representative today, is Thomas S. Monson. I know President Monson is our prophet. It was revealed to me by the Holy Ghost. I testify that these things are true.

I know God knows and loves all of you. And I love you, too.
Sister Brown, Robyn, Mom, and Grandma

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thanksgiving is over. Winter is here.

Thanksgiving is over in Canada and winter has come. It is not rare for an early winter, but having it this early is unusual. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a really bad winter in the Peace area this year. Maybe everywhere in Canada.

We were getting the oil changed in our car when we got a message from the Mission Office to park all cars and continue with activities on foot. We did go home first and waited for the storm to finish.

Dealership car lot. They plowed the parking lot.

View from our patio.

Parking lots don't get plowed. And neither do main or side roads.

The plan of attack for roads is to let them get a little snow packed and then to put gravel on the road for traction. And of course you can't plow a gravel parking lot. You would just have more mud.

More differences about driving in Canada. We have seen two accidents while living here. Both were animal caused. We have never seen even a fender bender while being here. I'm sure there are a few. The speed is tracked by robo cop. The fines for speeding are stiff. A camera will take a picture of the back of your car as you run a red light and the ticket mailed is expensive. So, people stop on a yellow light. And the speed limits are less than in the states. If there are people picking up trash, or mowing, or work of any kind on the shoulder of the road, you better not go over 30 km/hour. Fines are doubled. They only put out a temporary sign to warn you. School zones have one simple sign, no cones or blinking lights. The speed limit is 30 km/hour, ALL day.

30 km/hour = 18.6 mph, School zone and workers along road.
50 km/hour = 31 mph. Residential streets
70 km/hour = 43.5 mph. Divided bypass road in city, and any highway construction zones.
100 km/hour = 62 mph. Highway, 2 lane. Cross traffic.
110 km/hour = 68.4 mph. divided highway. Cross traffic. There are no freeways or interstates.
The speed signs posted say Maximum speed limits. There is no wiggle room for 1 or 2 km/hour over.

There are so many trucks. Pickup trucks make up the majority of personal vehicles. And then there are the commercial trucks. Logging, and lumber trucks are three trailers long. Gravel, fuel, sand, trucks and flatbed haulers are 2 trailers long. There are specialty trucks - drilling rigs, crane trucks, vacuum trucks, and specially outfitted oil patch trucks carrying fuel and supplies for the equipment in the field. Trucks make up a huge portion of traffic.

All Greyhound buses pull Greyhound trailers.

We got out to Saskatoon Island Provincial Park before it snowed. The trumpeter swans were in range for us to watch. And we also saw a red squirrel so close he could have sat on Elder Brown's shoulder.

Red Squirrel

Frost on the grass.

Canadian Geese standing on the ice sheet.

Ruffed Grouse

Swans moved away from the ice as we approached.

Swans were close to the ice until we got there.

Large gathering of geese in sheltered bay.

We continue to find neat places as we explore the Peace river countryside. This old barn and this Lutheran Church are nearby.

We headed to Fort St. John and had thanksgiving Lunch with the YSA there. They wanted to make sure we had Canadian food. We had ham, poutine, corn, salad, candied yams with marshmallows, butter tarts, and Smarties. We made Lion House rolls, definitely not Canadian. but, the raspberry jam I took is. Raspberries grow well here and are plentiful. Poutine is Canadian. However it is showing up in places around the States. Smarties turned out to be a version of M&Ms. The butter tarts with the pecans sure looked like pecan pies to me and the plain tarts just didn't have pecans. They were proud to tell me that pecan pie is Canadian because the French invented it. We reminded them that the pecans come from the Southern United States and maybe Creole French cooks from New Orleans invented it, but they were definitely Southern bakers and chefs.

We have been on our mission 3 months and a few days. We still feel new. YSA is a constantly changing field. We still have many more ysa to find. Our October activity for the entire stake will be this weekend. We are excited about it, just not sure the participants are. It is too bad that the weather turned bad.

We also love teaching Institute.We are studying Foundations of the Restoration. Last night's lesson was the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And what we learned - - it is the same organization as the Church of Jesus Christ that Christ established during His ministry. Christ's church went away for almost 2000 years. It was called the Apostasy. Heavenly Father knew there would be an apostasy. Through an Old Testament prophet, He said:

"Behold, the days come...that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And [people] shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11-12

After the death of Jesus Christ, the members of His church were persecuted and the Apostles were killed, and the priesthood authority-including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church-was taken from the earth. Because the Church of Jesus Christ no longer had the priesthood authority, the teachings changed. There were many good people who still believed and searched for truth. People like Martin Luther and John Calvin recognized that things had changed and many parts of the original Church of Jesus Christ were lost. They tried to reform the churches, but without the priesthood authority, Christ's gospel could not be returned to its original form. Christ's church was like a beautiful plate. The plate broke. Many churches had pieces of the beautiful plate. But nobody had all the pieces and could put it back together.

That is why we are on this mission. To tell the people in this little part of the world, Grande Prairie, that the plate has been put back together. All the pieces have been found. The Church of Jesus Christ that was formed while Christ was on the earth, has been restored in the latter days. That is now. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormon Church, is on the earth today. Our Heavenly Father has brought back-restored-divine truths that you can learn and live. If you don't know this and would like to know more, ask us. We can share more.

We were both born in families where our parents were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were taught these principles. But being born into is not enough. Even if you have heard these things all your life, or you are hearing them for the first time, you need to find out for yourself if they are true. Everyone can know if the things they are learning are true. You can ask your Father in Heaven if it is true and He will testify the truthfulness to you by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I know God is my Heavenly Father and He loves me. I know Jesus Christ is His only Begotten son. I know Jesus atoned for my sins and voluntarily allowed Himself to be taken and crucified that through His resurrection we can live with Heavenly Father and Him when we leave this life. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same church as the original Church of Jesus Christ. I am glad that I am a member. I'm thankful I am on a mission, so I can share with others, that they may also know. I know these things are true. I know you can pray and find out for yourself.

I love all of you. I pray for all of you. I miss all of you.
Sister Brown, Robyn, Mom and Grandma

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trivia and Significancy

We had a great time watching General Conference via satellite at the church on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday it was just us, and the Elders, one of the YSA, and two other men who don't have computer wifi in their homes. All other members watched from their homes. There were quite a few men and boys at the Priesthood session. I went with Bruce to the church, but took the opportunity to play the piano in the Primary room. I had a delightful time. Sunday morning had about 30 people plus those who were there Saturday. The afternoon was us, the Elders, and one of the men. We loved all the talks. What great messages of hope and joy. And such good advice. I took pages and pages of notes and will watch my favorite talks again on the internet. I am also looking forward to the Ensign (Church magazine) so I can read them.

A week ago, on Saturday, September 24, when I came home from Woman's Broadcast, (a meeting for women and girls 8 and over broadcast over satellite)  it wasn't dark. The Saturday, one week later,  October 1, was different. It was actually quite dark and had been stormy all day. The high for the day was 3C (37F). It rained all day and sometimes there was some of that white stuff in the rain. And the wind was blowing. That Saturday night, conditions were: Rain at times mixed with wet snow ending early this evening then partly cloudy. 94% humidity. Fog patches developing after midnight. Wind northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light early this evening. Low minus 2.

We wanted cold and it is happening.  We're ready. We were told to buy our winter wear in Canada and we bought coats for both of us and my boots, yesterday. We think Bruce is set for footwear, time will tell. Sunday morning was cloudy, not raining and by the time afternoon session was over, the sun was shining brightly. It was 6 C (43F).

We have also looked forward to seeing the Northern Lights. On Wednesday night, September 28, we were able to see a faded version of them. It was 9:42 and we were still up. We drove a little way out of town and watched for about an hour. We tried to take pictures, but we would need a camera that we could manually set. But it was a really neat sight. We repeated the event on Monday, Oct. 3 and watched a faint version of Northern Lights for an hour between 9 and 10 pm. When we got back to town and were surrounded by traffic lights, commercial lights and street lights. All of a sudden, the sky lit up for about 5 minutes with the brightest colored display of Northern Lights. It was so exciting and one we will watch for in the long dark months to come.

We have watched the days get shorter, really fast. The unusual length of night and day is something we have looked forward to in Canada.

The bridge over the Wapiti River at O'Brien Provincial Park

Wapiti River at O'Brien Provincial Park

These are bear tracks by the river at O'Brien Provincial Park

It is noon, September 20, 2016, looking South. The sun moves from East to West, but it hangs in the sky on the South.
The shadows are long even at noon.

There are many other things that are Canadian and we are getting used to. One very different practice is shoes. We have taken our shoes off in our house for years and years. Our mission papers told us that all Canadians take their shoes off and to prepare accordingly. There are some things we weren't prepared for. We really weren't prepared to take our shoes off in some public places as well.

There are shelves in the churches to put shoes. All kids take their shoes off, most adults leave them on. The winter will be different, and especially if the shoes are wet.  I'll bet the kids take shoes off at school. 

This is a public washroom at one of the picnic/campgrounds.

We've spent hours at the hospital. At least they make it convenient. Also, everyone pays to park at the hospital; 1/2 hour = $1.

A Rubbermade tray like this is outside each door at a care center we visit. Homes have them by the front door, or in entryways. They are very nice to have. We have a rug. They aren't available to buy in the stores at the moment, but with the really bad weather coming they should be out on display, soon. I think they are awesome, so, I will bring some home with me at the end of the mission. 

In order to get a shopping cart at the grocery store, one places a loonie ($1) in the cart which releases the chain. Then you remove the cart from the other carts and proceed to shop. When you return the cart and put the chain in the back of the handle, the coin pops out.

We love our mission in Canada, even with the things that are different. They are just fun trivia. But we love the things that are the same. And the biggest thing that is the same everywhere is, Christ is our Savior, He atoned for our sins, He died on the cross for us. He makes it possible that we can be forgiven of our sins and return to our Heavenly Father and live with Him, again. These are the words to a Primary Hymn (LDS Church group for children 3-11). You may not recognize the story and want to know more. Please write to me and I will provide the explanation.

  1. I lived in heaven a long time ago, it is true;
    Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.
    Then Heav'nly Father presented a beautiful plan,
    All about earth and eternal salvation for man.
    Father said he needed someone who had enough love
    To give his life so we all could return there above.
    There was another who sought for the honor divine.
    Jesus said, "Father, send me, and the glory be thine."
    Jesus was chosen, and as the Messiah he came,
    Conquering evil and death through his glorious name,
    Giving us hope of a wonderful life yet to be--
    Home in that heaven where Father is waiting for me.
    Words and music: Janeen Jacobs Brady, b. 1934
    (c) 1987 by Janeen Jacobs Brady.

  2.  I love you all so much. I pray for your well being and happiness. Until the next blog....
  3. Love, Sister Brown, Mom, Grandma, Robyn