Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zone Conference with Elder Duncan

It seems like we were busy this week, but didn't do anything. If that sounds contradictory, that's life on a mission.

Monday was our service day at the church. We had three goals: 1) update the message board in front of the church, 2) Shuffle pictures in the church to create a more meaningful theme, and 3) sort through the VHS tapes in the library. The message board has passed through the winter with a Christmas message still on it. We decided to announce the General Conference broadcast. We created a plan for pictures in the church so they could be used for a gospel lesson as tours are given. It ended up that we only switched two pictures due to special mounting to fit the exact size of the pictures on the walls. We did manage to prune down the VHS video collection in the library and eliminated more than we kept. Doesn't anyone use DVDs today?

Trent Hill Branch message board
Tuesday we had a special multi-zone conference with Elder Kevin R. Duncan (from Ogden, Utah) of the Seventy. It was held at the Pickering Ward Chapel in Ajax (about an hour drive). It was a foggy morning and the GPS got lost so it took us an extra half-hour to find it. It kept telling us we had arrived and we could not see a church or driveway. We finally saw a steeple through the fog. The entrance was on an intersecting street. When Sister Wheeler was asked if she loved her mission she was tongue-tied, analyzing all of the things we have done on our mission. We decided the answer can be simple - do we love the people? Since we love the people here, we love our mission. It has less to do with our daily activities and more with the people we encounter. In fact, the theme of the zone conference can be summarized by the fourth verse of Hymn 221 (Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd) - "Make us thy true under-shepherds; Give us a love that is deep. Send us out into the desert, Seeking thy wandering sheep." If we can really feel the love the Savior has for those we meet, they too can feel of that love through us which can lead them back to feeling the Savior's love for them.
Here we are with Elder and Sister Duncan
One of the great joys of the multi-zone conference was to visit with the Portuguese elders again. Even though we are currently assigned to an English-speaking branch, our hearts have a special place for the Portuguese work and the elders assigned there. We also met the sisters (Spanish-speaking) who are assigned to the Christie Ward.

Portuguese elders: Amorim, Crane, de Moura, and Seabra
Sister Varley and Carroll with Sister Wheeler
We had difficulty making appointments for Wednesday - everyone was gone - so we took a walk along the river (in addition to our normal morning walk).

Statue from our morning walk
Campbellford without snow
Bench along the river walk

We did have dinner with President and Sister Holt in the evening. After dinner we called Jim McComb (the first counselor in the branch) and found him home. He is a single software programmer who doesn't get a lot of visitors. He is a bit of a loner. We had a delightful visit where he showed us around his orchards and house. It was probably the most important thing we could have done that day.

Monument along the Trent River on the way to Havelock
Which bird is real?
Holt's home in Havelock (left hand side of the duplex)
 Summer came on Thursday. It got quite hot so we put the air conditioner (which we had in storage for the winter) in the window. We have a south-facing double glass door in the living room that lets in plenty of light. We decided to get some cheap curtains to keep it cool for the summer.

Our new curtains
Thursday evening we had a dinner appointment with Tim and Caroll Shearon in Sama Park (half way between Havalock and Marmora). Tim drives trucks and is gone for three weeks at a time, so we haven't seen him out to church. We were pleasantly surprised when he came this Sunday.

Caroll and Tim Shearon
Tin man in a field between Campbellford and Sama Park
Another tin man
 Just before we left for choir practice we got a call from the Campbellford Holts. They wanted us to tell Barbara (the choir director) they wouldn't be there. They got a call saying they were going to get some foster children (2 & 3-years old) and had to prepare a bedroom for them. This entailed removing a bunk bed, desk, etc. and pulling out two beds from the loft in the attic. We split up for the evening so Sister Wheeler went to choir practice to deliver the message and Elder Wheeler went to help the Holts. It was a good thing he did, since there wasn't anyone else available to help them.

The bedroom is ready for two small girls
We have not been able to get off for a drive for awhile (except for going to and from meetings) so on Friday we took a small road trip to western Northumberland County. We went down to Briton to deposit a check at the bank then took a drive along the "Apple Route" (route 2) to Colborne and Cobourg then on to Port Hope.

Mural in Colborne on Rt 2
It is still early in the season and a little rainy, but not as cold as last time we went to Cobourg. We walked down to the beach along Lake Ontario (no swimmers yet).

Beach in Cobourn
 In Port Hope we found a very interesting store called Primitive Designs. It had a lot of wood carvings from around the world. It is the type of place the tour guides stop by in Tanzania so you can buy souvenirs.
One small section of the store

 On the way back we stopped by the "Big Apple" a local tourist trap. They have space for many tour busses to get off and buy apple pies before they have a chance to taste them (the pies are OK but Sister Wheeler's pies are much better).

We are a long ways from anywhere according to the signs
The Big Apple
 We left early Saturday morning for our branch temple day. We used two vans to take 10 people. It was really busy at the temple so some of the branch members got in a later (Spanish) session. Mary Longmuir had a lot of names for sealings, so we had a sealing session after the endowment sessions. We sealed 17 couples, 9 daughters to parents, and 19 sons to parents. One of the sons had his other temple work completed in 1924 and it has taken this long to get him sealed to his parents. We didn't get back until later in the evening.

The temple group at Swiss Chalet after the sessions
Another Sunday, which turned out to be eventful. Sister Wheeler was sustained (and set apart) as the assistant organist for the branch (which means she will be playing every week as long as we are here). She also gave the Relief Society lesson today. We mentioned that Tim Shearon showed up at church and stayed for the whole block (at least he stayed to help Caroll prepare the pot luck dinner we had after church). Two former investigators, Barb Rogers and Walter Bland showed up at church. We knew about them from going through previous progress reports and teaching records. They were welcomed by the branch members and seemed to fit right in.

Barb Rogers and Walter Bland

 As we said, we had a busy week with multi-zone conference and a temple trip. We had two former investigators and a less-active member attend church, though we didn't do anything to cause it. If you ask do we love our mission we would have to say YES, because we do love the people we work with every day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Birthday

It looks like spring has come. The snow and ice are mostly gone and everyone comments about what a mild winter we have had this year. It is warmer than normal for the middle of March.

Could this be a spring flower?
A Hairy Woodpecker tapping on a tree outside our apartment
A walk across a drumlin in the spring
We spent Monday as a service day working on our church tasks. Besides cleaning out the library we will be doing some rearranging (at least the pictures on the walls) and changing the messages on the sign along the highway. We filtered out a lot of old manuals from the library, only keeping the current editions. President Holt came by while we were working. We were able to have a long talk with him about the condition of the branch. It helped in getting insight about the difficulties of the members. A lot of health problems come with age. We were given the missionary progress reports for the past six years. The same people have been invited to church by different missionaries for years with the same result - they didn't attend. There have been a lot of lessons given to investigators over the years without much progress. In spite of all this, the active members continue to be positive and happy in their lives.

We had dinner with Mary Longmuir on Tuesday evening. She had a friend there named Penny who will be moving in with her in a couple of months. That will give another active member of the branch.

Wednesday brought our normal district meeting in Belleville. We are impressed how Elder Anderson (our district leader) keeps his cool when missionaries give strange answers to questions. We decided to return to Campbellford by way of Trenton. We got out and walked around town a little (a nice day, of course).
Trenton city hall
There are three music stores within a couple of blocks of each other demonstrating the interest in music in this small town. We had a nice talk with Devin, who worked in one of the stores. He plays drums in a small band. The bass player in the band is a member of the church who sets the example for the other band members by not smoking or drinking, even though they play in clubs at times.

Devin - drummer boy
We went to the family history center again on Thursday. Mary and Joan won't be able to be there in a couple of weeks so we will be substituting for them. She showed Sister Wheeler all of the procedures and gave her the codes for the computers. Now we are official family history library substitutes. Actually, Sister Wheeler now has a calling in the branch. President Holt asked if she were willing to be the organist (or at least substitute organist) for the balance of the time on our mission. She will be playing every week to give Sister Holt (C) a break. It is very different playing the small Hammond organ. We had another dinner appointment with Doris, Eileen, and Linda in Marmora. Linda's son, Todd, came up from the basement where he usually stays so we were able to meet another branch member.

Hammond organ in the Trent Hills Branch
The most interesting part of the organ - according to Elder Wheeler

There is also a piano in the chapel

It is nice having more light in the evenings. After the dinner appointment we went by to meet Donna Moore. We had passed by several times before, but she was always away from home. We finally found her. Her husband does not like the church so she doesn't want visits, but we were able to leave our phone number in case she needs something. She moved into the branch about three years ago and none of the members have met her. She did not know where the church was so we gave her directions.

On the way back home on Thursday night the car indicated that it needed servicing so we took it to Peterborough on Friday. Right across the highway from the Honda dealership is the Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park. While waiting for the car we went to the park for a little walk. We didn't go very far, however, because the ground was wet and muddy. We had big thunderstorms on Thursday night where the lightning flashes would be followed by long, rolling thunder. We were able to get some rice bowls for lunch at the mall. We then drove around town to get an idea of what Peterborough is like since a lot of the members of the branch talk about going there for their major shopping.

Honda dealership in Peterborough - exciting, Eh
Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park - across from the Honda dealership
Why did we wear our missionary clothes today?
Saturday was the 170th birthday for the Relief Society. Sister Holt (H), the Relief Society president, had a stupor of thought about an appropriate activity until someone suggested having a birthday part for Chris McLaughlin. Chris is a former member of the branch who now lives in Ottawa and has cancer with only a few months to live. She had never had a birthday party which was one of her dreams before she died. We held the birthday party on Saturday allowing her to invite all her friends. The church building was central to where all the people were coming from. We had a crowd of about 48 people from all over Ontario, members and nonmembers. Several came from Ottawa, others from St. Catherine (where she used to live), Hamilton, and as far away as Manitoulin Island (with a smaller branch than ours) by Sudbury. We didn't know most of the people, but it was a good activity which resulted in serving many by helping an individual. 

Chris ready to cut the cake
There were a few stragglers from the party who attended church with us today. A former member of the branch is building a home here and will be moving back from Toronto. She has not been active, but would like to return to the church. She is in the Toronto Ward so we told her about Bishop Landim. She said she would visit with him and extend our greetings. We had a primary today (for two people), but there was also Mitchell, a young deacon. He went in with the elders, but we thought it better for him to have his own class, so Elder Wheeler taught the "deacon's quorum" today and had a good time.
Elder Wheeler with Mitchell, the visiting deacon's quorum
So this week we have met two members of the branch we hadn't seen before (one of whom no one else had met) and two who will soon be moving into the branch. Our car has been serviced which should now last for us to run all over the countryside this spring and summer. So life goes on in Trent Hills.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Catalytic Converters

We all drive cars with catalytic converters which convert polluting gasses into none polluting gasses. They use a catalyst which helps accelerate a chemical reaction but is not one of the reactants nor products of the reaction. A example is platinum (the catalyst in the catalytic converter) which reduces NO and NO2 (smog producing gasses from the engine)  into O2 (oxygen) and N2 (nitrogen) which are normal gasses in the air we breathe.

So you may wonder what this has to do with missionary work. As senior couples we often act as catalytic converters. We may be part of the conversion process without playing an active role in the process. Here are a few examples: 1) On our last blog we mentioned that briefly meeting Jordon resulted in him having a conversation with his father about the church . 2) Last Sunday when Brenda (our most recent member of the branch) was asked what she wanted to get out of Relief Society she responded, "I want to learn how to read and write". Sister Wheeler remembered a literacy program developed by the Relief Society. We found the materials in the meetinghouse library and reviewed them, excited about having a worthwhile project to fill in some time. When Sister Wheeler talked to Sister Holt, the Relief Society president, everything fell into place. She suggested that Sister Tait (Brenda's neighbor) teach the literacy lessons to Brenda. They have been trying to find a calling for Sister Tait since she joined the church a year and a half ago, but her health makes it difficult to be regular in her attendance. It was a perfect fit and she was excited when we took the materials to her house on Thursday. 3) We noticed on the mission report that Evandro Pereira was baptized last Sunday. Before our transfer we had visited the Pereiras (a less-active family) a few times and talked about the importance of Evandro being baptized. We left it to the Portuguese elders and they brought it to pass. Our role as senior missionaries at times is a side role to assist the Lord in blessing the lives of others.

Evandro (striped shirt) with his mother and sister
 We had a special Family Home Evening at the church on Monday. Brother Holt (Campbellford) is an art teacher at the high school and gave a presentation on the art of Egypt. The nonmembers who were invited didn't come, but there was a good turnout of branch members. It piqued Elder Wheeler's curiosity about Egyptian art.

Oops, the projector lightbulb burned out - so much for modern technology
Mummy of the child king - King Tut
We bought some green bananas last week expecting them to be ripe by this week. They didn't seem to want to ripen up. Even by Tuesday they were too green to eat. They reminded Elder Wheeler of green bananas in Uganda from which they made matoke, their national dish. That's one way to loose weight.

Our green bananas
Cutting up green bananas in Uganda
Welcome to matoke
We did some more cleaning out of the church this week. On the way to the church we pass a kennel with many big dog houses. It doesn't look like dogs are living there however. There are also many silos around, some with fancy designs on top.

The big dog houses (actually calf houses)
Neighborhood silos
 We had district meeting again on Wednesday in Belleville. After the meeting Elder Stubbs said he was tired of Wendy's and wanted to know if we could go to the food court at the mall. We decided to try to see if Elder Wheeler could find anything he could eat there. He checked at New York Fries where they have Poutine, a Canadian dish of french fries with cheese curds and gravy. It ended up they use gluten-free gravy so Elder Wheeler found a nice lunch.
New York Fries
Sister Yi, Sister Jungart, and Elder Stubbs
 Thursday we went to the family history center at the church so Mary could show Sister Wheeler how to operate everything. It ended up that Mary's car wouldn't start so we were there on our own. President Holt stopped by with the keys and we managed (in spite of very slow computers for Family Search).

Are we in Utah?
We love the local library with old books from our childhood
 Elder and Sister Dodge contacted us about the Maple Syrup Festival in Warkworth this weekend. We invited them to join us for the activity. They end their mission in about a week so this is the last chance they had to see this part of Canada (which is very different from Toronto where they have been serving). There was a queen bed in storage at the church that Russ Dishington helped us move into our apartment on Monday. On Friday we had a long walk through Ferris Park on the Trans Canada Trail then scouted out Campbellford for restaurants.  We made a list of 13 places from the phonebook then walked through town to see what they offered. We got caught in a snowstorm as we were crossing the bridge to the west side of town. We found a good place called Capers where we ate with the Dodges on Friday evening.

Saturday was the Maple Festival. We drove to Warkworth (10 miles away), parked the cars, then took a school bus to the maple forest where they make maple syrup. It included a pancake and sausage breakfast.

Sister Wheeler and Sister Dodge getting on the bus
We saw how they produce maple syrup. It starts with the sap from the majestic maple tree. When the weather turns 5-6 degrees (C) during the daytime and freezes at night the sap flows. Taps in the trees collect the sap.

Filling a bucket - old method
Sap lines running from tree to tree - new method
The sap is only about 10% sugar so they need to boil off some of the water to concentrate the maple syrup.

Syrup making - old method
Syrup making - new method
 The activity included several old-time activities around the camp and a wagon ride through the maple forest. It was a cold, but clear day. We then returned to Warkworth where they had art and antique exhibits in various of the buildings around the village.

Horse-drawn wagon ride through the maple forest
The Dodges - do they look cold?
 Today was our regular Sunday meeting, except they seemed to start an hour earlier than normal. We had visitors from the district to give the talks in Sacrament meeting and a lesson on teacher improvement during a joint Priesthood/Relief Society meeting. We found out that they merged the Cataraqui Branch into the Kingston branch this week. Missionaries were taken out of Cataraqui at the same time they were taken out of Campbellford.
Wayne waiting for his ride home from church
Relief Society planning their March activity

 Well, another week has gone by and we are still doing well in the Trent Hills branch. Today was a spring-like day so we took a little walk in the extra-long evening to watch the birds in the neighborhood. Don't get the idea spring is here to stay, but at least for a day we enjoyed it.