Monday, February 20, 2017

Adventures in Edmonton

We recently went to Edmonton to a mission conference. It was supposed to happen in November and Elder C. Scott Grow was the visiting general authority. We were leaving at 7:15 am to give two of the Sisters a ride to Edmonton, early, so they could meet with the President before the conference. President Pattison called us at 6:45 to tell us the conference would be postponed. Elder Grow had pneumonia and was unable to get there. The conference took place a couple of weeks ago. Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk and his wife were the mission tour visitors. This time we went down a day before the conference. This was our second trip to Edmonton. The first time we went down for the Christmas Mission Conference.

We left at 7:45 am. By 8:30 we were at Crooked Creek. It is a country store run by the Mennonites. They make fantastic donuts. We stopped to buy fresh donuts to take to the Appletons, our billet hosts for the conference. As we were travelling east we were able to watch the sun through the trees peeping over the horizon. It was beautiful. During the almost five hour trip to Edmonton we drive through one city, Whitecourt, and pass by a few smaller villages and hamlets. The rest of the drive is through forests, over rivers and some agriculture acreage. When we first came to Canada the acreage was a sea of bright yellow blossoms of canola. Different perspective now, and beautiful in a different way.

On this trip to give us something to do, we watched the trucks hauling their huge cargo. We wondered where it was going and what it was going to do and in some cases, "What is that!!" Most of the trucks are logging trucks and oil tankers. One of the ways the Chamber of Commerce of Grande Prairie keeps track of growth in the area is by the number of oversize load permits allocated. When they say oversize loads, they aren't kidding.

Not sure what it is, but it is something for the oil patch.

We see logging trucks all the time on the private Canfor logging road that runs by our house. They are three trailers long. But this is an oversize logging truck. It is very long.   If I had taken the picture from the side I couldn't get the whole truck in.

Whatever it was it must have been long.  

 We passed three of these tanks. They are about 25 feet in diameter. 

All nicely covered, so we don't know what it is. As if we know what any of them are.

I wasn't fast enough to get many of the big things we saw. Sometimes we were driving on the inside shoulder to pass. This looks like a freeway, but it isn't. There is cross traffic on these roads. We didn't see any wildlife on the trip either way. I always pray for safety and my prayers are answered. Wildlife doesn't make it safe.

We got to Edmonton at 1:00 and had lunch at Milestones. We received a gift card for Christmas and could use it there. It was good place, good food. 

Trees in the shopping center. Edmonton gets the fairyland effect the same as Grande Prairie. They also have the big piles of dirty snow. The piles don't melt. Some shopping centers have the snow hauled away by dump truck. We went to a few stores. Fabricland in Edmonton is a bigger store than Grande Prairie, but was a disappointment. 

We shopped for things we can't get in Grande Prairie and then went to the stake center where the Senior Missionary couples in the Edmonton Mission were going to have dinner with Elder and Sister Echo Hawk. All the couples were there, but the building was locked. Never fear. Everything came together soon. It was fun to see the other missionary couples and meet two new. The McCollums will replace the Rhotons in Lloydminster and are being trained. The Kerrs are replacing the Salters in the office and are being trained. The Echo Hawks are wonderful people and we had a nice evening with them. The Appletons were at the dinner since Brother Appleton is the second counselor of the Edmonton Mission Presidency. After the dinner we went to their home which isn't far away. We stayed with them. They have four children, the oldest 16. They liked the donuts we brought. We had a nice big basement all to ourselves. Sister Appleton showed us around and they have some unique spaces. One of the rooms used to have a boxing ring, complete with everything, even mirrors on all the walls. 

One bedroom has two play houses and a play garage. It was built by the former owners and the Appleton children have always really enjoyed it.

They also have a stage. The walls are chalkboard so they can draw the scenery. Such a fun place in a huge big playroom.

The next day was the conference starting at 8:30 am. It was a great day. It is fun seeing some of the Elders and Sisters we have served with. Because of the size the conference takes place in two groups in two days. We were with the first day. We learned many good things. Other speakers were the Pattisons, and four missionaries. Every missionary came prepared with a five minute talk to share if they were called on. One Elder talked about things he learned from his high school wrestling coach. "Discipline wins titles." He talked about his desire to learn tricks and advanced skills as he practiced and got older. But his coach just taught discipline wins titles. They practiced the basics over and over and over. They became very good at the basics. And, they won titles. Even Olympic wrestlers win if they know and concentrate on the basics and execute them with exactness. So his talk was about keeping to the basics of the gospel. There is no need to get fancy and learn fluff. The foundation of the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the Priesthood keys being restored to the earth, learning the plan of happiness, God is our Heavenly Father and loves us, and wants us to return to Him. We can find out for ourselves through personal revelation if this is true. These are the basics.

Elder Echo Hawk talked about our missionary efforts to find people ready to hear and accept the gospel. We do not convert them, we teach them. The Spirit of the Holy Ghost converts them. No one will be converted without their own, personal, true, and real experience with God. Gaining a testimony is not intellectual, or logical. It is spiritual. Conversion is not a onetime event, but a lifetime process. If we fall, the Savior will pick us up. As missionaries our greatest resource is the Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit. We are the instrument and the Savior does the work. We need to give everything we have and the Lord will make up the difference. People are converted to the Lord. For behold, this is my work, and my glory to bring to pass --the immortality and eternal life of man. Moses 1:39 The whole conference was amazing.

Elder Echo Hawk is a general authority in the 1st Quorum of the 70. He and his wife are converts. They were both living in Albuquerque when they converted. They met in the 4th grade, and became friends later after they had both been converted. They have had some amazing opportunities. Elder Echo Hawk is Native American from the Pawnee Nation. He was a lawyer; He was elected attorney general of Idaho in 1990, the first American Indian in U.S. history elected as a state attorney general. He served in political positions in Idaho. He was teaching at the BYU law school. At the time he was called as a Seventy, he was serving as assistant secretary for Indian affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has also been a Bishop, Stake President, plus other service in the Church. Sister Echo Hawk bore a strong testimony. She told a bit about their family. She said their six children are all brown, have brown eyes and black hair. One of the daughters had a friend who was politely asking questions, when the daughter said, "Do you want to know where my brownness comes from?" The children are proud of their heritage. They were an amazing couple. We learned something that is very important to them. They don't think anyone should stand around and visit in the chapel. They believe worshippers should sit quietly and enjoy prelude music, and then do their short visiting in the hall outside the chapel. Our meetings in the chapel were very reverent and the Spirit was strong. 

The conference ended at 3:30. Knowing we would only have an hour of daylight to travel home in, we had arranged to stay with Appletons one more night. After the conference we traveled through Edmonton to End of Steel Park to see Ice on Whyte. It was one of the Canada 150 activities. 


 This is a huge ice slide. Lots of people were having fun sliding down.

Carved blocks                            Block of Ice                                        Ice carving team

                                        A display from Jasper National Park.  

The carvers competing were from other countries. The Canadian team was from Vancouver BC. Each team had the same amount of ice. A block of ice weighed 130 kg, 286 lbs. Carving ice comes from Ice Culture in Hensall, Ontario. Carving ice is made from a special process freezing from the bottom up so it is perfectly clear. We stayed a while. We talked to some of the carvers, a blacksmith and people from Jasper National Park.

We saw some interesting things while driving through Edmonton on our way to the park.

Alberta Legislature House in Edmonton

 Bridges are one way. This one has the train tracks above the cars.

After it got quite dark and cold at the Ice on Whyte, we made our way back to the Appletons. We left about 9 the next morning. We took the express that goes around metropolitan Edmonton and headed off through the countryside, eventually coming back to highway 43 and home. There were lots of greenhouses and nurseries out in the country. One truck we saw on the way home was very unique, it drives on the shoulder and stops at each sign and washes it. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough. A funny truck, but very needed.

Missionary conferences are very rewarding. We all learn. We all feel the Spirit. We fill our tanks to continue with missionary work. The gospel is true. We love what we are doing. We know we are in the right place for this time. We love spending time with each other. We know our family is being blessed. That doesn't mean their lives got easier. But Heavenly Father is blessing them. We are anxiously waiting for Jon to get a new job. He has had some great interviews. It is hopefully any day now. We love you Jon. Heavenly Father loves you. He is waiting to bless you with the best job for you. Hang in there. 

Heavenly Father loves all of you. Be grateful. We love the way you help each other.

Love, Mom, Grandma, Robyn, Sister Brown and Dadoo

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