Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is risen

This has been Easter Week in Canada and the people seem to celebrate a lot more than we do in Logan. Stores were closed for Good Friday, there were many family activities on Saturday, Worship services on Sunday, and a holiday tomorrow.

On Monday we went to the church and changed the sign from general conference to Easter. We also completed a puzzle at the church that has been there since before Christmas. We decided his birth should be finished before his resurrection.

Sign by the church
Nativity puzzle
Tuesday was transfer day. The Firmages passed through Campbellford from Smith Falls so we could ride to Brampton together to attend the temple with the departing missionaries.

Departing sisters: Sisters Tuisku (Finland), Phillips, Rosenlauf, and Wheeler (not departing)
The senior couples have a dinner at the steakhouse (oops, stake center) after the temple session. It is always a treat to meet together, especially where we see them so seldom here in the country. Elder Firmage gave a special presentation about the last week of the Saviors life, using pictures he took while living in Israel. We rode back to Campbellford where they stayed the night with us, making the drive for the day shorter for them. After breakfast the next morning they returned to Smith Falls, 2 1/2 hours away. (I guess we are running a bed-and-breakfast operation here.) The Firmages are completing their mission and will be returning to their home in Maine on Saturday (14th).
Presentation by Elder and Sister Firmage 
We had our district meeting in Belleville on Wednesday. Our new district leader is Elder Pineira whom we knew in the Christie Ward. Sister Beasley replaced Sister Yi who was transfered to Peterborough. Pictures will have to wait until next week. Passing through Stirling we saw a lot of hockey displays. Stirling is now Hockeyville, having won a national competition (with thousands of communities competing from all across Canada) by Kraft foods for the community with the most enthusiastic hockey fans. We missed the big parade last Saturday. They will receive $100,000 to renovate their arena and have an NHL game (Toronto Maple Leafs) played there (actually in Belleville since the hockey arena in Stirling is too small.

Display on the road between Stirling and Belleville
Hockey is a contact sport
Are these the new hockey uniforms
 We had a very interesting event on Wednesday evening. During branch council we discussed what we may be able to do to help some of our less-active members. The Grattons and Buotts (daughter and granddaughter) have had various health problems. The branch decided they could use blessings so we met with them Wednesday evening. There were five Melchizedek priesthood holders who gave six blessings, including a nonmember friend. We really enjoy visiting the Grattons and Buotts and hope it was helpful.

An evening of blessings
Thursday was planning day. Being the first of the month we needed to decide on our activities for April. We have 18 families we have seen at church. If they were all there at the same time we would have an attendance of 29 (including us). We have been able to contact 11 families who don't attend and will try to visit each of them again in April. We have met family members of three additional families and hope to meet the church member living there.  Five families are lost (they have moved and we can't find them) which we will try again to find. There are also 10 families who do not want any contact with the church (we have met six of them). Many of the senior couples in the mission do a lot of visiting less-active members of their wards and branches, but there are only four less-active families who welcome our visits. The challenge is rescuing without smothering the families. This leaves a lot of time for finding other things to do without feeling guilty.

After spending many hours planning we needed to get out, so back to Ferris Park for a stroll (which turned out a lot longer than expected). This was followed by a choir practice with the community choir.

A swift nesting area - event the birds have moved away
No, there are no birds there either
We found some while walking along the Trent Canal 
 We decided to take a little road trip (only 115 miles) on Friday. We went to Brighton and took some of the back roads suggested by the Northumberland County travel guide. We saw a lot of farmland, lakes (including Lake Ontario), and even some birds. We ended with a nice walk in Seymour Conservation Area. Being Good Friday, all the stores were closed.

A small lake in the countryside
On the shore of Lake Ontario
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Canadian geese bobbing for food
A walk through the woods
 We were invited to join the Campbellford Holts for their Saturday family Easter activities. They had several of their children and grandchildren there from Oshawa and Peterborough. The day included a frog hunt in the pond, putting up the trampoline, an Easter egg hunt in the house, an Easter story, sharing germs with balloons, and a nice meal. They have two new foster daughters we were able to get to know. We like the way they have made Easter day to bring the family together for fun and for teaching.

Where are the frogs?
Sister Holt tells the Easter story 
It takes a lot of hot air to blow up two balloons at once

 We had a special Easter program for church today. It included seven narrators and nine hymns. Gail Shannon, our branch music director, put the program together. We had 37 in attendance (only 3 of the active members were missing) which included a family from Etobicoke and Mike, Dani, and Ezmarelda  (nonmembers who live just up the street from the church) who decided to come. Sister Wheeler was the organist and gave the Relief Society lesson. Gail invited us to her house for dinner after church.

Gail with her dog Forman
As days go by we wonder what we do, but by the end of the week it seems like we have done quite a bit. We have learned to love the members, both active and non-active, and even those who would just as soon not see us. One of the blessings of being missionaries is having the gift of charity, the pure love of Christ, toward those whom we meet. We sometimes feel like Alma who wished he were an angel to declare the word of God, but we must be resigned to our simple role as senior missionaries leaving it up to the Lord to fill in the gaps.

1 comment:

AZ SMITHS said...

It's interesting to see how other cultures celebrate the holidays.