Saturday, January 28, 2017

Experiences in a Winter Wonderland

What is there not to love about Canadian weather? So it's a little cold. How do we know it's winter? Well when the snow inside the car hasn't melted in a month.

The best way to remove ice on the windshield inside the car is with the missionary tag.

You know it's a cold day in Canada when you have to go home, to take your groceries in the house, so your milk, eggs and produce won't freeze.

We attend two wards on Sunday. One is at 9AM and the other is at 1PM. We take our lunch in an insulated bag, so it WON'T freeze.

Removing snow in Canada is different. They use graders to plow the streets. These four graders are working downtown. They just skim it above the road.

 The snow is piled in the middle of the road. Later a front loader and dump truck comes by and the snow is hauled to a field outside of town. People do have snow shovels but quite often they also remove snow from the porch and walks with a broom.

The snow we have had so far is like sugar, sometimes even powdered sugar. We have seen people with leaf blowers clearing city sidewalks around town and other public places. We haven't once seen a snowblower.

                                                                                                                                                            This is a main road that bypasses                                                   This is in a major  shopping
downtown. This is about the                                                         area. Also slow traffic time.
best it gets. Slow traffic time.

This is the center of downtown, 100 Street and 100 Avenue. Usually these streets have lots of traffic. They stay home when such conditions happen. 

I wouldn't want to be a frontierswoman in this. No thank you very much! It is fun getting to experience new things. ie short days. The children have been in school for an hour in dark when the sun comes up and it goes down soon after they get home from school. The snow is also very different here. It is so cold it is not wet. More like sugar and sometimes powdered sugar.

Sunrise 9:14 a.m.
January 12, 2017
Sunset 4:54 p.m. January 12, 2017. 

This is the door we enter. The snow is as high as the curb, maybe 4". Not much snow so far.

There has been ice behind our car since the first snow storm. We wear cleats on our shoes between car and door.

Rocks are spread on streets and parking lots. This parking lot and Costco keep their lots clear.

The snow can be beautiful.

And then, the reason we are here.

YSA playing Twister.

The fellow in the front is an Elder from Arizona. The other two are Canadians, both RM's (returned missionaries) one to Australia, one to California.

We love our mission whether it is snowing, or sunny, cloudy, dark, cold and colder, or even freezing rain. There are many things to experience. I love to keep track of the temperatures and the hours of daylight because it is different than it is if I was home in Draper, Utah.

Today is Saturday, January 28, 2017. Today is the first day since around American Thanksgiving that the temperature has been above freezing. (I started writing it down December 1, 2016.) When we woke up this morning it was 37F feels like 37. The ice in the parking lot is actually soft. Today we had daylight for 8 hours 31 minutes 24 seconds. Today is 3 minutes and 44 seconds longer than yesterday. We will have a difference of exactly 4 minutes on February 3. We gain a little over 1 minute every morning and the rest is gained in the afternoon. Today, sunrise was 8:53 am and sunset 5:24 pm. 

We are excited about our missionary experiences. We were able to testify, and give a copy of the Book of Mormon to a man. I love being able to tell everyone we can, that Heavenly Father loves them. I love wearing my tag and have people come up to talk to us because they know someone who belongs to our church. I love the special experiences that happen that lets me know that Heavenly Father is aware of me, and that He loves me. I am so thankful for the angels that watch over us and have kept us out of harm's way. We know that we have been protected from some pretty serious situations while we have been driving in this sloppy weather. Bruce took a fall on some ice, and although he was shaken and embarrassed, he didn't even get a bruise. And there was no injury to his back, hip, head and neck. And he did not get stiff or ache in any way. Truly a huge blessing. We have not been sick. Our coats, gloves and boots keep us warm. Our apartment is nice, and efficient. And our car has been such a blessing. We were definitely guided to purchase the right car to bring with us. 

What would we be doing if we had not come on a mission and just stayed home? Well, we did miss this very special experience where our oldest grandson, Seth, baptized his little brother, our youngest grandson, Quinn. We are so happy with the choices that both of these grandsons have made. We will have lots of special times with them. Thank goodness we can call them, skype them, and write to them any time we want.  

If you are retired and have good health, think about going on a mission.Being on a mission might cost a little more than living at home in your own house. But, not much. There is no way to put a price on the blessings you and your family will receive. Maybe a mission isn't for every senior couple. But, the matter of the cost shouldn't be a reason for not going. And, not being around for your grandchildren also shouldn't be a reason. Somehow it balances out and you will still be indebted to the Lord.

We know many of you have had miserable winter weather. Be careful. We pray you will be safe and protected. We love all of you. Until the next blog.

Love, Mom, Grandma, Sister Brown and Robyn

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Six months down, one year to go.

We hope you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!!! We started the Christmas Season this year by going to Edmonton for a Missionary Christmas Conference on December 16. The mission was divided into two groups and went on different days. We were in the second group. We had spiritual messages, played games and visited with other missionaries we have served with, but were transferred, and had a nice Christmas dinner. All the six missionary couples were assigned the conference on the 16th. It is the first time we have met any of the other couples. It was so fun getting to know them.That night, the six couples joined the Mission Office couples and the Mission Presidency and their wives, and attended the musical Anne of Green Gables. It was so well done. It started the year long celebration for the Sesquicentennial of Canada. We went to the Mission Home Saturday morning with the other couples and had breakfast before we all headed towards our homes. We got home in time for a ward Christmas Party.

While in Edmonton we looked for a new nativity to buy. This was too big, but we loved the extra character in this scene. He is laying by the manger.

Our Christmas was great, and different. It was our first Christmas Eve, since 1973, that was just the two of us. The ZLs, (pronounced ZedLs), the Tagalog teaching Elders, and us, were invited to a members home where we played games for an hour, then ate Chinese take-out. Then the Elders met up with  the STLs (Sister Training Leaders) and went caroling. We stayed and visited with the member couple for an hour. We then came home and watched a Christmas movie from a DVD on the computer, stuffed each other's sock and went to bed.

They aren't stuffed yet. I need to make them more Canadian and put a moose on them.

Our Christmas Sacrament meeting service was both wards in Grande Prairie combined for a one hour meeting. It didn't start until 11am to allow all the families who live a long way from the church to have time to get to the church, and not have to rush. We had many invites to come to dinner, but we declined. We made a Christmas dinner for us and spent the afternoon and evening talking and skyping with family. That was fun. We visited with every one of our kids and grandkids.

One thing we missed about Christmas was going to the mailbox every day and getting Christmas cards. Jill scanned the few that came. We missed having our open house inviting you all into our home, sharing our Nativity scenes, treats and visiting with you. We brought with us, the three new nativities that were new last year. One was from Kenya, one from the Philippines, and one from St. Kitts, an island in the West Indies. We added a few more this year. Some were gifts and a few we made.

This is our nativity display. Some are ornaments and one is hanging on the wall.

This came in the mail to us after Christmas.

I was instructed to open this gift as soon as it came. It took exactly 2 weeks to be shipped from California in sub zero temperatures. This is what it looked like when I opened it. They were in need of water and still they were very healthy. 


We both had something to play with on Boxing Day.

We have loved all the experiences that are new to us. For instance, the days were really long when we first got here. But in October we lost daylight by the hours. Then the days slowly got shorter. December 21st was the shortest day of the year. In Grande Prairie it was 7 hours, 7 minutes, and 53 seconds long. There were days before and after the 21st that were 7 hours, 7 minutes and a few more seconds than 53. I think there were 5 days. Today is January 4, two weeks later, and the day was 7 hours and 22 minutes. Today was 1 minute 45 seconds longer than yesterday. Each day is 5 to 8 seconds longer. Today sunrise was 9:19 am and sunset was 4:41 pm. I am going to write a winter blog in a few days and tell you other neat stuff we enjoy.

Some of the animals in Grande Prairie. The full size elephant can be yours for $3,000 Canadian. The lion is $1,000. 

And wouldn't you love to play in the snow with this guy. He lives in Edmonton.

The schools closed on December 22 this year. School will start again on Monday, January 9. And since there was so much time off, many families went to Edmonton, Calgary or any place south of here to see family or play someplace warmer. It is not a lot warmer, but they do have family they can see. Lots of other business that provide services are closed during that time. It is a pain if there is something you need,

We don't want this globe to fly away in the strong gusts we've had today.

And finally, today, January 4, it has been exactly 6 months since we entered the MTC. It is hard to believe 1/3 of the mission is over. Technically our mission ends one year from today. We have so much to do. (These Canadians have got to stop taking holidays.) We have had 6 months of faith promoting experiences, We both know that Heavenly Father loves us. We know that Heavenly Father loves the people in Canada. We know Heavenly Father loves the YSA. We know Heavenly Father loves all of you.

One of the things we will always treasure is an envelope we received from the Canada Edmonton Mission Staff when we were at the conference. There was a beautiful card signed by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. AND, a letter from each of our children and grandchildren: Jill, Clinton, James, JoAnne, Delaney, Nevyn, Jet, Scott, Seth, Claire, Quinn, Jolyn, Jon, and Jen.

In the letters, our family shared experiences they are having and talked about enjoying the experiences we are having. They expressed their love to us. Our hearts were deeply touched. We love these 14 people and appreciate the love they show to us and to each other. We love hearing how their lives are going in these letters. We love the emails, and texts they send. We are not under the same restraints of calling family that the younger missionaries are. And we enjoy talking to them whenever we can. Our lives are more at ease by the correspondence. We appreciate all your prayers offered for us. We appreciate the shared experiences from the RM's in our family. We love getting any news from people at home. We realize, often, how far from home we are. We are also 5 hours from our mission headquarters and far from other senior missionaries in our mission. We are the only YSA missionaries. If anyone has a good ideas or experiences, that could work for YSA,that you would like to share; email us, comment on this blog, text us, or even call us. Our email and telephone numbers are still the same. Thank you.

Sister Brown, Robyn, Mom, and Grandma