Sunday, May 27, 2012

Surprise Visitor

We had a holiday this week. Victoria Day was on Monday. This holiday kicks off summer just like Memorial Day in the states. The branch celebrated by having a service project. We met at Mary's house to clean out her yard by pulling weeds, planting flowers, and drinking limeade. It gave us a chance to get to know the Sadore family better who just moved into the branch.

Sister Wheeler and Brother Holt in mint and oregano
Sister Wheeler's arm got some scratches on it from cleaning out this bed that later developed little blisters. It still looks sore but it is getting better. There must be something she reacted to in the oregano or mint.
Sister Sedore with Mark-James and Gabriella
Break time for Sister Holt and Sister Wheeler
Mary had some good limeade for us to drink
Following the work at Mary's we went to the church to straighten curbing and plant flowers.
Curbing duty at the church
Flower duty at the church
 This was followed by a barbeque.

Brother Sedore cooking the burgers
Since Monday was a branch service project we went to the church on Tuesday to clean out the primary toy cabinet. Many of the toys are broken and some are not age appropriate for the nursery.

The toys work OK for Elder Wheeler

Mark-James is getting ready to be baptized. His mother thought it would be a good idea for him to receive the missionary lessons, even though he is only eight years old, so on Tuesday evening we went to their house in Marmora and gave the first lesson. This was followed by dinner.

For our morning walk on Wednesday we went along the Trans Canada Trail. As we returned we found a construction sign that wasn't there a half-hour before. They were patching potholes in the road.

We were on call for hospital duty this week. President Holt was in the Campbellford hospital following surgery on his knees. Sister Holt has cataracts and can't drive, so we brought her to the hospital and took her back home to Havelock several times. On Wednesday President Holt was released so we took him home. By Sunday he was doing well enough to attend district conference at the church.

Ready for a ride home
We didn't know if we would be needed to take President Holt to Peterborough for a follow-up appointment on Thursday so we used the day as a planning day. We were able to call several families to get updated on their situations. We were also able to visit with Heather before she leaves for Europe, India, and Thailand. We gave her a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon to read on her travels and mark the passages referring to Jesus Christ. We had branch council on Thursday evening (instead of the normal Wednesday) with Brother McComb conducting. Maybe we don't do a lot here, but there were several members we knew and had updates on that are not known by anyone else in the branch.

For our preparation day Friday we broke down and went to one of the Toronto "biggies", the zoo. It was quite a drive to get there and even longer coming back (because of traffic). We had a good time walking around looking at all of the animals - it wore us out. We stopped in Coburg on the way back for dinner.
I thought of Richard - when we saw hippos in Africa
What's black and white and red all over? A sunburnt zebra
Sister Wheeler petting the stingrays
They planted wisteria to match Sister Wheeler's shirt
And you thought you had a bad-hair day this Alpaca had just been sheered.
Every Monday morning we do laundry. Marina is always there first so we are able to visit with her a little. She lives on the first floor and has really made her apartment a home. 

Our neighbor, Marina, in her garden
Saturday was district conference. We rode to Kingston with Mary and Penny (a woman who will soon be living with Mary) for the adult session. We really enjoyed it. President and Sister Scott were there and spoke. We didn't get back until about 10:30 pm.

Riding off in the sunset after district conference
 Sunday was stake conference (district conference for us) for all of Canada with a broadcast originating from Salt Lake. It included talks by Elder Christofferson and Elder Packer. When we got there we had a surprise visitor. His name is Chris, from Ohio. He drives trucks and happened to be passing through Trent Hills. He is not a member of the church, but has been investigation on his own. All of the members of the branch greeted him warmly (the pot-luck dinner after meeting didn't hurt either). He encountered the church in Oregon and has a testimony, but has not been able to have any missionary lessons. We fixed that! We gave him the lesson on the Restoration and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We reviewed with him what he needed to do to be baptized. We loaded him with a lot of reading materials (he is already reading the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles on his Kindle). It was a wonderful experience being able to teach someone so prepared, even though he doesn't live in this mission. We have his contact information and can keep in touch with him as he prepares for baptism.

Chris, our new investigator

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Anyone for scrambled brains?

As we described in the last blog, Mother's Day was a busy day, but not quite like a Mother's Day. At least sister Wheeler knew she was loved.
Mother's Day flowers from church
A big hug with all the hands from Andrea's family
 Elder Wheeler's birthday passed last month, but he got a care package from Don and Nadine - Thanks. It included three boxes of Corn Chex (gluten-free). that may sound strange, but we have not been able to find Corn Chex in Canada, Rice Chex, yes, but no Corn Chex. The care package went well with the gluten-free licorice sent by Richard & Virginia.

Corn Chex - not labeled in French

We got permission from the primary president to clean out the primary closet. Since she is helping her husband recover from open-heart surgery, she doesn't have time to do it herself. That gave us a good activity for Monday.
Primary closet looking better
Tuesday was transfer day which meant going to the temple in Brampton with the out-going missionaries. We will really miss Sister Fotheringham who had been with us the whole time we were in Toronto. We had a very nice session, handing out 28 male names and 8 female names for Mary in our branch. Instead of the traditional pot luck for the senior missionaries after the session we went to a fish-and-chips restaurant. We have a lot of couples leaving and several arriving.

Sister Cheng, Fotheringham, and Wheeler
Mission mother, Sister Scott - always on the phone
Missionary couples
Elder Germann and Henderson - tired APs
 We were back in Belleville on Wednesday for district meeting. The missionaries from Nappanee, Elder Stubbs and Tripp (both went home) were replaced by Sister Hurst (from Idaho) and Sister Meng (from China). We knew Sister Hurst in Toronto. It will be fun having her back in our district.
Sister Meng and Hurst join Sister Jungert
We were able to have another long walk through Ferris Park on Thursday. We mentioned the hymn "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning" in our last blog. We understand that poetic license is often taken in writing hymns. No mention is made of mosquitos, biting black flies, nor poison ivy.
Poison ivy season is starting
This log would make a giant didjeridu

Thursday gave us a chance to catch up on several members of the branch. We called Lisa to find out when we could meet her mother who lived in the same duplex (we had just learned that she was also a member of the branch). We learned that their house burned down on Monday. They didn't need any immediate assistance, but at least they know members of the church are asking about them. If we had not met Lisa earlier and got her new phone number we would not have been able to contact them at all.

We were informed that the city had a dedication service for a new splash pad that they installed in a city park. We decided it would be good to show a presence at the community activity, and sure enough, some of the members of the choir were also there and recognized us.
The mayor and foundation officers at the dedication
The new splash pad in action
The skateboard (and bike) attraction in the park

 We hurried off to dinner with Doris and Eileen in Marmora. After dinner we passed by to see if we could finally meet Angel after many attempts. She is a delightful lady with three daughters. She is not interested in visits from the church (except maybe one a year), but said we could return before we end our mission.
Angel with Sister Wheeler
On Friday, our normal preparation day, we had a long walk in Seymour Conservation area, this time visiting the limestone quarry. We went to the library and had a nice dinner with Mary.
The limestone quarry 
Where do orphans eat breakfast? - The mushroom (were you stumped?)
When we had dinner with Mary on Friday she told us she was planning to go to Buckhorn (way up north) on Saturday and invited us to go along. She does very well at getting around in her wheel chair, and driving her van, but she likes having others join her on her excursions (incase she may need some help). This time it was for a crafts fair. It was a beautiful drive through the woods and a lovely small village. There were a lot of booths set up with crafts for sale. Sister Wheeler found a hat to keep her head from burning in the summer. Elder Wheeler made friends with an Italian glass blower named Asem who said he would like to read the Book of Mormon.
Mary, Joan, and Sister Wheeler
Elder Wheeler with Asem
Lunch time
 On the way back we stopped at the Gallery by the Lake, a top-notch art gallery.

Beautiful art for those who can afford it
Our three new investigators?
The lake by the gallery
President Holt has been down all week with a sore leg. He was taken to the hospital in Campbellford on Friday. After we returned from Buckhorn, we took Sister Holt from her home in Havelock to the hospital. She is waiting for cataract surgery on  her eyes and can't drive. Monday is Victoria Day in Canada and the branch has a service project planned. We volunteered to do the shopping for the food for the Monday activity. It made for a long day.

Elder Wheeler is going senile. He was enthralled in listening to the Sunday School lesson when Sister Rowan came up and asked if he could give a primary lesson in case she couldn't get back from taking her husband home. Brother Rowan is still recovering from his heart surgery and attended sacrament meeting, but felt too tired to stay for the other meetings. He quickly read through the lesson and was ready to give it when Russ came looking for him. He was scheduled to give the priesthood lesson and forgot all about it. Fortunately, Sister Holt (C) was in primary with Sister Wheeler and was able to give the primary lesson with less preparation than Elder Wheeler had. Such is life on a mission.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day?

Today is Mother's Day. Some things are hard to celebrate on a mission. Since we are always together, gift giving is out of the question. It is even hard to buy a card (or even show her one if I had the time to find a good one). Some things are on hold until we return to a normal life. We got an e-mail from President Holt asking us to speak in sacrament meeting for Mother's Day. We wondered what we did wrong to deserve this curse. It ends up we were not his first choice. The first time he sent the e-mail he forgot to put the "21" in the e-mail address. He got a reply that said, "I don't know anyone named Elder, I don't have a sister, and Mother's Day was in March in England. I don't think I will be able to speak next week in Canada." At first President Holt was thinking we were just "pulling his leg", but then he noticed the err in the e-mail address and sent us the request. The result was that we both spoke in sacrament meeting today, Elder Wheeler gave the Sunday School lesson (in place of Brother Rowan who had heart surgery) , and Sister Wheeler taught a primary of 5 (in place of Sister Rowan who was caring for her husband) with an age range of 8 years old, 4 years old, two 3 year olds, and a two year old. We have a new family with children who just moved into the branch which added to the Holt's foster children to make a primary. We also had a family visiting.

This seemed to be a busy week, even though we aren't certain what we accomplished. We had several walks through Ferris Park this week . One morning it reminded us of the hymn "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning". The sun beamed radiantly above. Birds were singing; their music ringing through the grove. It was a shady woodland. Actually the Sacred Grove is not very far away (at least for a bird).

Path through the meadow
Stone Wall Wheeler
Sacred Grove
Creek crossing
Mud crossing
On Monday evening we had a Family Home Evening at the church. A tax specialist was invited to answer questions about Canadian taxes. They really do have a "tax and spend" system.

Our expert talking to Wayne
Jim and Ed discussing taxes
Sister Holt (H) and Sister Wheeler provide refreshments

 We went to Belleville on Tuesday for our regular district meeting. The problem was - no one showed up. We finally got hold of the sisters (the district leader didn't answer our call) and found out that they had changed the meeting to Wednesday without telling us; so we returned on Wednesday for the actual meeting.
Windmill on the way to Belleville

Before we returned to Belleville on Wednesday we stopped by Sister Rowan's bulk food store to help with a couple of emergencies. Normally her husband would be doing it, but he is still recovering from heart surgery. It sometimes helps to have a "second-string" when the first-string is not available.

How many missionaries does it take to change a lightbulb?
How many missionaries does it take to unplug a sink?
We finally had to use a wet vac and it sucked out a paper towel.
 Thursday we helped again at the Family History Center for Mary who had another doctor's appointment. With Canadian health care you wait for a call telling you the doctor is available then rearrange your schedule to match his.

We had our final choir practice on Thursday evening. This was followed by a concert on Friday evening and a Saturday matinée. This means we were at the St. John's United Church as often as we were at our own church. We have really enjoyed singing with the choir. Barb, the choir director, has a lot of energy and gets a lot of expression out of the choir. There were also many numbers by soloists. All of the pieces were from Broadway. We sang five medleys: "Rags to Ritz"(music of Irving Berlin), Rogers and Hammerstein, Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, and Phantom of the Opera.

Getting ready to sing in concert
Several of the branch members mention Tweed, a village to the east of us. On Friday we decided to see Tweed for ourselves. It was a delightful town on a lake with a nice art gallery. We love driving through the countryside, especially now that it is spring.

We have now been to Tweed
A fountain in the lake
Watch out for wild drivers
Smallest jailhouse in North America
 Mother's Day stacked up to be uneventful (other than speaking in sacrament meeting and giving lessons). We were invited to join the Campbellford Holts for a Mother's Day barbeque. They have a beautiful yard, surrounded by woods. We even saw some orioles.

Tim Holt at the grill
Lunch in the yard
Baltimore oriole

 We decided to put a bird feeder on our balcony. At first it was attached to the railing, so the birds couldn't find it. We then got a long stand to hang the feeder on. The grackles could land with their feet on the little perch, flap their wings to "tread air" and get some sunflower seeds. The bluejays were not as smart. They landed on top of the feeder and tried to eat the seeds through the plastic feeder. We decided to lower the feeder so birds can perch on the railing while they get the seeds. Now the bluejays can discard several seeds until they find on just right one then hold the seed in their feet to take the husk off and eat the kernel. They are fun to watch. They do not like to share however so if one is at the feeder it will chase all the others away.

A bluejay trying to get food

 We are loving spring here and the birds which start singing at about 4:30 or 5 am. There are things that we will miss when it is time for us to return home.