Hello All!Well here I am in Canada. I've been here for just under a week, and I've already learned a lot and I am trying to adjust to my new life for the next little while. I'll start with getting up here, though.
We flew from Salt Lake to Phoenix, don't ask me why, and had a long layover, so my district set out on our own to find some unoccupied payphones. There were 32 in our group going to Calgary, so that took a little bit of time. ;) We went down a couple of terminals and found a few and started calling home. After 12 days of being surrounded by people I'd never really known before my missionary life, it was really nice to hear some familiar voices. I talked to Mom and Dad for a while, and even got to talk to my great friend, Avonlea. (Who got her mission call to the Philippines this week! Woot woot!) I wish I could have said everything I have bottled up to tell them, but that would have taken a little too long. I guess I'll just have to remember all of it for a while. ;) I then got to call my big bro at work and get a few last words of wisdom from him. I'm so grateful to have him, and my sisters, and my dad, who have all served honorable missions. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have at least an inkling of what I was getting myself into beforehand! After a tearful goodbye, we loaded onto our plane to Calgary and headed off!
We arrived in Calgary a few hours later and after going through customs, were met by President and Sister Nicholas and the APs. They ferried us to the chapel just down the street from the mission home and we went through all sorts of boring administrative stuff. Then we got to have some much-needed dinner. After dinner, we had a fireside and heard from President and his wife as well as bore our testimonies. It was a really powerful experience. Then, we got to find out our first areas! We'd had a bit of guessing game before this, and I had guess that I would be going to the Nelson Branch way out to the west in BC (British Columbia, for you Yanks.), but I was rather off. I have been assigned to the Raymond, West area in Southern Alberta. Basically, I'm back in Utah, but with better weather.
We stayed the night in the mission home, the Nicholas's are wonderful, by the way, and the next morning, after some training, separated for our new areas. We drove down to Lethbridge which is where the Transfer Station for all of the southern missionaries was, and I got to meet my trainer/"dad". Elder Musselman is from West Valley and has only been out for two transfers! It's alright, though, I've learned a lot from him, and he knows what he's doing. He's a great guy with a really incredible story. I also got to me meet my "granddad", Elder Sorenson, who is now home in Idaho.
Anyway, after some words and singing "O Canada" (great song), we went and did a little grocery shopping, then Elder Musselman and I were off to Raymond!
Raymond is a great town. The population is something like 4,600 with 4,100 of those being members of the church. Needless to say, we've been visiting quite a few less-actives. The town is on a grid, just like every other Mormon town, and is about eight blocks by eight blocks. The stake center is just down the street from our house, which I'll tell you about in a bit, and I think is the largest church building in Alberta. There are also two other chapels in town. The town is one stake with nine wards in it. Pretty insane.
We live with a couple practically right in the middle of town. They've been gracious enough to let the missionaries take up their big basement. They house is pretty awesome. It's about 100 years old and was built for Raymond Knight, who I believe I'm related to, and was, apparently, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! For someone like me, that's pretty amazing.
The work here is progressing, and I'm trying to catch up to it. We have a couple of investigators with a lot of potential, and some more potential investigators we'll hopefully be able to work with. Until I learn more about the people here, I just wanted to tell the story of a recent convert here named Brandon. The elders found Brandon a couple of months ago. He and his brother were arguing about something on the side of the road trying to move a pool table. They were cussing up a storm and the elders offered to help them. They waved them off, but Elder Sorenson and Elder Musselman only got a little ways off before Brandon's brother stormed off, and they returned and insisted. To make a long story short, Brandon took the discussions, turned his life around, and was baptized. He just got back from "Moroni's Quest", which is a youth activity I really wish I could tell you about, and had a really amazing and spiritual experience. I'm pretty sure he's now planning on serving a mission,
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a wonderful thing. Nothing else can bring the happiness and joy and fulfillment that it brings to people's lives. I am trying my hardest to be a worthy bearer of it and a worthy representative of our Savior. I know I can be, and I hope I can become the best missionary I am capable of being. I know I can do it through Jesus Christ. The work is hard. It's made even harder when you have a wonderful family just a few hours away, but the work is good.
I can't wait to feel like I actually know what I'm doing! Hopefully, that will come sooner rather than later. ;) I love you all so much, and I can't wait to tell you more about this wonderful part of God's vineyard once I know more.
P.S.- the weather here in Raymond is pretty wonderful. It gets a little hot at times, but hot here averages about 90. It rarely gets to 100, and I love it! Have fun in Sunny St. George!
P.P.S.- thanks for all of the birthday wishes! I really appreciate them. The members here in Raymond have also been treating my wonderfully, and a family even made me a part Birthday/BBQ last night. They even made some lemon cake, my favorite!