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.

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