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

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