Sunday 22 December 2013

Ending a Never-Ending Battle

Keeping this blog up to date is a never-ending battle, partly because of time constraints and partly because of our internet connections. As you know, I also have a difficult time being brief, so summarizing is not easy. When something interesting, fun or meaningful happens I like to include it, as my plan is for the blog to also become a summary of  our mission. On the other hand, when things aren't recorded shortly after they occur, I sometimes feel like I  miss conveying the spirit of the event. With that in mind I want to say that by the end of this month (9 days), I plan to either be current or to omit more than my obsessive-compulsive personality is comfortable with and start the new year off with current information. (I guess that's a new year's resolution)

In the meantime, the following is what we have experienced in the past few months.

In August we went to Ottawa for a Zone Conference and to meet our new mission president and his family. Pres. Patrick was featured on the church broadcast, “Hastening the Work of Salvation”. He was the Stake Pres. in the Florida stake that had such success with missionary work when one of the families in his stake included, in the birthday party invitations of their eight year old daughter, an invitation to her baptism as well.

We are excited to be working with Pres. and Sis. Patrick,
though we loved Pres. and Sis. Cannon and will miss them. 

We stayed in Ottawa an extra couple of days to help Pres. Conway pave his driveway with bricks. It was hard work and it was sooo hot! Plus 35 with the humidex! But we had a great time.
Freezie break.

 Elder Seaman and Elder Smith became proficient at tossing 11 lb. bricks.

Elder Rhodes became proficient at cutting bricks.

 I became proficient at laying bricks, over 400 of them.

Laying the last row with what crew was left at the end of a long, fun day - Elder Russell, Elder Piatorieo and Guy.

It’s so nice to have neighbors who like to bake! Elder Seaman made us a Baked Alaska. It’s a cake baked in a hot oven with ice cream in the middle and meringue on top. It was delicious!

You can tell the Elder Smith and Elder Seaman have been working hard and are tired. 
We often spend time from/in our kitchen chatting about the day’s events.
Evening Meeting Room

We discovered it was Frank Fengler’s birthday late in the evening.  So on the way home from English class we paid him a surprise visit to wish him “joyeux anniversaire”. 

Brother Fengler is one of our stalwart members.

Bonne féte frere Fènglar!

Elder Rhodes gave the van a good coat of wax to prepare it for winter.

Some of the vines turn a beautiful vibrant red in Sept. Then, in a matter of day, it seems, the vines are bare.
This house is across the street from our parking area.

At the end of September we had a corn bust at the home of the Simard-Ricard family in Rouyn-Noranda. The Stake Pres. and one of his counselors attended, as well as the Branch President, one of his counselors
and both of their wives. All six of them live in Ottawa. We are always thrilled to see them. They are so supportive of our remote and tiny branch.

However, you would think that, with so many leaders and wives from Ottawa visiting at the same time, I would have suspected that something else may have been afoot, but I did not.
I was taken completely by surprise when Pres. McAteer announced, on Sunday, that Pres. Conway was being released as Branch President. Of course that meant his counselors were also released. I was heartbroken, even though I knew it was bound to happen before our mission ended. Pres. Conway is such a dedicated man, and so close to the Spirit. We have grown to love him very much. (Missions are a great place to make eternal friends)
Outgoing Branch Presidency
Bro. Brulé, Pres. Conway, Elder Rhodes
It didn't change things much for Elder Rhodes. He just changed titles, as did Brother Brulé.
New Branch Presidency
Pres. Brulé and Elder Rhodes, First Counselor
First Counselor in Stake Pres, Stake Pres. McAteer, Branch Pres. Brulé, Elder Rhodes, First Counselor

All the members who attended that Sunday. Taken in the Chapel.

Hopefully I'll get the last couple of months up in the next few days, but in case I don't, I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. 
This will be our first Christmas away from our family, and though we will miss everyone very much, it's wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Savior by serving him here and having this special opportunity to share the message that He lives and loves us all!

Monday 7 October 2013

Will I Ever Get Caught Up?

Our High Counsel visitor in July was Brother Chris Olsen. We really enjoyed him and his lovely family. In conversation he mentioned he had served his mission in France. Imagine our surprise when we discovered he was one of Chuck's companions! What a small world, as they say.

On the last transfer we didn't have to say goodbye to anyone. We were happy got to keep both Elder Smith and Elder Messinger and were excited to get two new Elders as well - Elder Seaman and Elder Newman. That gave us enough missionaries to make up our own district. Elder Smith became our new District Leader.

Elder Messinger, Elder Newman, Elder Seaman, Elder Smith, & Elder Rhodes
The day after they arrived we had our first district meeting. Then we made lunch together at our apartment before Elders Messinger and Newman headed up to Rouyn-Noranda to settle in. They're excited to be opening up new territory. I don't think there have been missionaries living there for ten years.
Elder Smith is still our next door neighbor, but now Elder Seaman is his companion.

Typical P-days at Our Apartment:

Hanging out waiting for the laundry to finish.

Elder Smith discovering the value of paper bags in creasing pants.

Elder Seaman's favorite pastime. (except maybe for origami) 

Elder Smith 's turn to nap...

while Elder Seaman mends his trousers, after a slight refresher course in using the sewing machine.
(He did a good job)

More Primary Fun
There are many lakes of varying sizes in this area which makes it very humid here.
On a hot day in August I took the children for a short hike and then swimming at Lac des Soeurs. 

It's a small lake with a tiny beach. It isn't very busy as it's very near a more popular, larger lake with a large beach and lifeguards.

It didn't take long for them to warm up.
It was perfect for us. 

They're really all fish in disguise.

What a winning smile!
With some effort, I managed to convince the kids not to drag me into the water with them.

After the swim we made a fire and had a wiener roast - one of my favorite activities.

There are no designated fire pits. You just find a spot you like and make your fire - with wood from the forest, although we brought our own.
Smoke gets in your eyes!
 I love being able to spend time with the children. It helps compensate for missing my grandchildren.

The kids enjoyed it so much they decided to do it again in September, but without the swim, as the water wasn't warm enough. The fall had already begun to invade our summer.

We were happy that Elder Rhodes decided to join us this time.

You can't have a fire without marshmallows.

Kitana and her brother, Seth. Kitana loves self portraits.
Crystal and her brother, Christopher. Be Happy! Fun kids!

We had more children this trip and only one vehicle, so I had to make two trips.
Elder Rhodes with Seth, Kitana, Crystal and Christopher.
Packed up and waiting for me to return for the second load.
Thank goodness Lac des Soeurs is only 12 minutes from downtown Val d'Or.

No message in scripture is repeated more often than the invitation, even the command, to pray—to ask. Prayer is so essential a part of revelation that without it the veil may remain closed to you. Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees.

 Pres. Boyd K. Packer
                                                                                                1994 Nov. Ensign

Thursday 5 September 2013

Almost Done

We love our landlady! Regina Gabrysz is 87 years old and loves to go about doing good. 
She kept me in a supply of lilacs from her yard during lilac season. 

We had a Branch activity at the end of June. 54 people attended; 14 were from Ottawa. That’s a great turnout when you consider we only have around 20 people attending church on Sundays.

I was in charge of the games, which included some relays, of course.

The adults really enjoyed bocci ball.

 The children’s favorite was soccer. 

The bubbles were also a great hit.

 Elder Rhodes is taking a picture of me taking a picture.

Food and visiting are always a great part of a fun activity.

Emma is checking to see if her new friend is saying cheese. Aren't they adorable?

The weather was a little cool, but better than too hot or too wet, which is what we had expected.

After the outdoor activities we went back to the Church for a short fireside where Pres. McAteer told his conversion story, which is very interesting. He used to be a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ. Then we had desert and more visiting. Everyone had such a great time it went much later than we had anticipated. But I forgot to take pictures. All in all it was a very enjoyable day!

I attended the Native Student Award Night in June with Abbey-gail's family. It is sponsored by the Native Friendship Center. It was filled with a lot of good humor and traditional native performances. This was a quad-lingual affair; I never knew if they were going to speak in French, English, Algonquin or Cree. It was very enjoyable. 

It was difficult to get clear pictures in the dark from where we were sitting.

 Abbey-gail and Ben, are siblings. They both earned awards for effort and achievement! 
Abby and her mother joined the Church last December.

This lovely young girl is Stephanie. She is not a member but attends many of the activities.

As a counselor in the Primary presidency I have been able to enjoy some activities with the Primary children in the past few months. 

Making cupcakes for Father’s Day.

 Only two of the girls are actually members.

One for Dad and one for me, right?

Ketrina and Abbey are great friends. They like me to take them to the park.

I enjoy hanging out with them.

On Saint Jean Baptiste Day they hold an annual native celebration in Val d'Or.
We were able to sample native foods like bannock and moose.
Unfortunately we weren't able to stay long enough to see the traditional music and dancing.

 From left to right, Katrina and Stephanie are sisters. Stephanie and Kitana (on the right) are best friends.
 Kitana was baptized last year. 

We were able to stay long enough to hear Kitana and Stephanie sing together for the pre-program.
I was proud of them.
They did a great job and can now sign off on one of their goals for developing talents .

Seth is Kitana's brother and one of only two boys who attend activities regularly.

At the end of July Elder Rhodes and I took Kitana, Abbey, Crystal and Isaiah
 to the splash park in Malartic, half an hour west of Val d'Or.

It was a hot day so they decided I needed to cool off!

    The splash park was built for the community by Sisco Gold Mine, the largest open pit mine in the country.
The hill behind me in this picture protects the town from the noise and dust of the blasting. Three times a day they open the gate to the steps leading to a platform overlooking the mine.

The equipment looks like Tonka toys from up here.

Each tire on those huge trucks costs $90,000!

Elder Rhodes always wanted to pan for gold!

    A view of the park and the town from the top. I didn't know a mine could operate on the edge of a town.

On a cool day in August Abbey and Kitana came with me to climb the hundred steps to the top of the Rotary Tower.

First we took the one km. hike through the near by woods. None of us had been there before.
The woods around here are full of beautiful ferns.

The view of the surrounding area from the top is impressive!

Two beautiful girls enhance a beautiful view!

It's very windy at the top, especially with a storm coming in. We had a great afternoon together.