Thursday 21 March 2013

The First Photos

(Sent by email on March 17, 2013)

Not quite what they packed for!
Sister King
 Sis King is a woman we met when we were doing visits in Ottawa. She is amazing! She is crippled and uses a wheelchair and scooters to get around town. It's very painful for her to sit so she stands all day and moves around very gingerly. She is very independent and even changes her own light bulbs in the ceiling by using a ladder that she positions herself. It takes her a couple of hours, but she does it. She turned her living room into a nativity scene. There are several sets of characters representing their progress as they travel to the stable. She buys GI Joe and Ken dolls and makes all the costumes herself. (Her favorite place to shop is Value Village.) It is a work in progress. It actually looks more impressive in person.

Sister King's growing Nativity scene

Home Sweet Home. 

Moving in...

I assume that this is the message the Elders left behind when they moved out

Saturday 16 March 2013

Provo to Val D'or revisited

Montreal to Ottawa to Val D'or (image from Google Maps)

(Email sent by Ron March 15, 2013)

Dear Family, Well life goes on. We are so happy to finally get settled in and doing what we have been preparing for. It seems that it’s been two years of continually working for this day. We think of you often and hope you are all doing well. This is a section of our travels from when we got up at 2:30 am on Feb 20 2013 and were shuttled to the MTC to depart on one of the MTC tour buses they use for transporting missionaries from the Provo Missionary Training Center to the Salt Lake City airport, (about an hour trip ). We flew to Detroit and had an hour layover, half of which it took us to walk from arrivals to departures using speedy moving sidewalks. Then departed to Montreal.

We landed in Montreal and were met by Pres and Sister Cannon who took us home and kept us for five nights. We purchased a van got it insured and registered on Thurs, had a zone leaders training at the mission home on Fri morning (9 TO 1), then picked up our phone from the mission office on Friday afternoon. We did some shopping on Saturday and went to church on Sunday. Driving in Montreal is good practice to be a taxi driver in New Delhi. It’s a nightmare.

Monday morning we packed up and got out of that snowed in city. We went to Ottawa and were billeted at the home of the Stewarts for 4 nights, so that we didn't have to drive to Val D'or on Monday and back to Ottawa on Wed (a five and a half hour trip each way) for a Thurs zone study meeting. Finally we hit the road for Val D'Or on Fri after packing our van so nothing else would fit in with all the chairs, tables, desks, lamps and boxes of value village pots and pans and other treasures.

We arrived at the apt at 6:45 pm and the elders were anxiously waiting. They helped us move into their just vacated apartment, which I might add, they had just cleaned spotlessly. Unfortunately Sister Rhodes has developed a professional cleaner’s eye for dirt, dust etc. so 4 extra days was required to clean. (Actually, she’s still not done.)

 We were billeted out to a beautiful clean and comfortable bed and breakfast home for the next three nights. I must admit that living out of suitcases and having to drive 20 minutes each morning and night to get to our apt was too much on top of the 3 months we had just spent in that situation. I announced that Sunday night was our last night to put off settling into our more permanent home quarters.

 Monday evening I had a bed experience that still has me shaking my head. After wearing myself out trying to pump up our new Canadian Tire 1/2 price, queen sized luxury bed, I gave up and looked for the instructions. It worked lots better after I removed a plug that fits to keep the air from escaping after it is blown up.

At 11:00 am on Thurs morning, the day before our new Sears mattress and box spring was to be delivered we headed off taking the Elders and going to a place I haven't learned to pronounce yet, Rouyn-Noranda. It turned out to be 5 hours of travelling round trip.

Val D'or (A) to Rouyn-Noranda (B) to Lac Simon Reserve (C) (image from Google Maps)

Well I’m back. It’s now 6:30 on Sunday afternoon. Going back to our trip on Thursday, we did 3 visits with members, one with a non-member, Anne, and then headed another half hour north to have supper with a sister who used to be in the East Stake and then moved to Cardston, Monica Chamberland-Roy. Two years ago she married and moved to Rouyn-Noranda. Supper was comparable to Christmas dinner. Then headed for home, a 2 hour drive in the dark and with wet roads. Not much fun driving curves and hills with those conditions. The Elders travelled with us because they can’t drive after dark on highways and we knew it would be late.

Friday we had our bed delivered and got it set up, had our hour of French training with Elders Smith and Grant, then did visits to John and his mother, Richard, Yvette and her husband Jacob.
Saturday we went out to Lac Simon, an Algonquin reserve, where we were invited again to have lunch with Kris. But this time the Elders were invited too.

We got home and I worked on my talk for church tomorrow in Rouyn-Noranda. Next we went to the church building in Val d’Or to have pizza with the branch pres and his 1st coun who had just driven 5 hrs from Ottawa for church tomorrow. They drive up every 2nd week. Elder Smith who is 2nd coun in the branch pres., takes the responsibility of the meetings on the weeks they don’t come.

Sunday morning, with one hour less sleep, we got up at 6:40am, headed out to the reserve at 7:35 to pick up Kris, Kerry and 3 others. All of them were sleeping and we had to wait for both Kris and then Kerry and gave up on the other three who didn’t answer the door. We headed out about 8:40 on our two hour trip to church in Rouyn-Noranda. All went well and we added Jacob, Yvette and Abbey to our load for the trip home. Got back home at about 4:00pm. Did some e-mails, studied French and found my lost car keys. (that’s another story). Monday was P-Day (Preparation Day). Mom did more cleaning. Today Tuesday we did some running around and then two visits with investigators the missionaries have been teaching.

We hope to get in a routine to send more organized reports with less time in between. It has been challenging to get on our feet and at the same time try to get in several other routines. We feel that we are always a little behind with never enough time to catch up.

We are however very happy to be here and feel it is a worthwhile effort.

Enough said for now or you will never know that we are thinking of you and love you all. All that is left is to try sending this to everyone at one time. We can never count on our internet here at our apartment because it is a very weak signal and is free for all, but not at all times.

Love to you all and we pray every one is doing well and is happy.

Elder and Sister Rhodes / Ron and Tina / Mom and Dad.

Monday 11 March 2013

Provo to Val D'or

New home in Val D'or, Quebec (image from Google Street View)
Our stay in Ottawa was as busy as our stay in Montreal. We were there three and a half  days and four nights. Our Branch President had us scheduled for several visits to shut - ins and for dinner in four different member's homes and lunch in two. Unfortunately, the food was as good as at the MTC, which didn't help our waistlines. (Sis. Cannon, our mission president's wife, says she will be taking home  a Canadian Tire when her mission is over.)

The people in Ottawa are wonderful. They took good care of us and did all they could to make us comfortable. They also loaded us up with supplies for our apartment in Val d'Or.

We happened to be in Ottawa during an unusual winter storm and survived it. I heard that over 60 buses got stuck in the snow. We saw two on our way to our dinner appointment that evening so decided to cancel the visit to Ron and Mariann that we had planned for after dinner.

Walking around in dress shoes every day has been hard on my feet so I finally broke down and bought some orthotics. The man who sold them to me had been recommended by three separate people when they realized I was having difficulties. After giving me an understanding of how our shoes affect our feet, I've decided I need to replace all but the pair I got in Utah. I started with a good pair of boots, which I needed anyway. I'll work on the others a little at a time. He thinks he should be able to get my toes to go back to where they belong if I follow his instructions.

We had Zone Training on Thursday and then headed to Val d'Or on Friday afternoon. It was a five and a half hour drive, even though it's only about 335 kms from Ottawa. The roads are winding and hilly. It's like driving through the mountains but not as high an elevation. Very nice drive, though not as majestic as the Rockies. It had snowed, rained and snowed again in the area so we saw some beautiful icicled cliffs on the drive.

So here we are finally, in our newly assigned area. We're excited to get busy doing missionary work. Unfortunately, we have to set up our apartment first.  Yesterday we ordered a bed from Sears, which won't arrive until Friday. So tomorrow we'll buy an air mattress from Canadian Tire to tide us over. I cleaned the fridge yesterday and did some grocery shopping so I could make supper tonight. We're staying with the sister of a member right now. She and her husband are very nice people. But we're tired of living out of suitcases. We want to set up our own home, no matter how humble it is. Our apartment is right next to the Elders so it will be very convenient for working together. And they're great elders! We love them!

Abitibi, which is the name of this whole area, is like a different country. Much of the housing is older and modest. The language is foreign to us; most of the people speak very little English. (We could just as well be in India.)   I think there are four reservations within an hours drive. They are very friendly and many of them have the spirit of Elijah. They are excited about genealogy! It's no coincidence we chose to spend our extra week in Utah taking the Family History course.
We're happy to be serving here. There is so much good to be done in this area. Besides bringing souls unto Christ, which is our main purpose as missionaries, we can be a positive influence on the lives of many people. There is even some talk of setting up an addiction recovery program (which is sorely needed), and English classes. And we still get to learn a second language, it just isn't Hindi!

Au revoir de Val d'Or,
Elder et Soeur Rhodes

Sent by e-mail March 5, 2013

Our Sunday was really good. The people are mostly French so you can expect bilingual parents in about 17 months. The Elders have started giving us French lessons. We'll be taught every day for about an hour. They say that most of it will come in the day to day interactions with people, especially the investigators, or Friend of the Church, which they are called in French. 

Sent by e-mail March 8, 2013

We've been very busy here trying to set up the apartment. There is still a lot of cleaning to do. The elders did the best they knew how, but there are things that they didn't even know were here, such as bake ware and pots in the drawer of the stove and even UNDER the drawer. So you can see that nothing had been thoroughly cleaned in a long time. I'm trying to get to it a little at a time as we have also been trying to make visits with the elders and had district training yesterday.

We have wonderful elders! I'm already worrying about losing them in the next transfers and that's 5 weeks away. During our training we were told not to think about transfers or even bother to discuss them as it's distracting and causes unnecessary stress. I didn't think that would be much of a problem for anyone. But now I can relate to it. I even think it's a shame that Elder Grant and Elder Smith will probably be split because they get along SO well and are so dedicated and enthusiastic. We love them.

Whoever said language wouldn't be a problem didn't know what they were talking about! Of necessity, we will be bi-lingual when we get home, if these old brains retain what the elders are teaching us.

We're on our way to Rouyn-Noranda (roll the "r"s with  the back of your tongue) about an hour and a half west, to do visits so I need to go.