Sunday, September 30, 2012

Smiths Falls

When we first got our call to the Canada Toronto East Mission we looked at the various areas where we might be assigned. Smiths Falls was the farthest from the mission home. Though the East and West missions were combined, we have always worked on the east side of the new Canada Toronto Mission. We have always been curious about Smiths Falls and this week we were able to see it for ourselves.
Smiths Falls tapestry 
Monday was spent preparing our Pearl of Great Price class followed by dinner at Mary's. She said her TV wasn't working right (no signal) so Elder Wheeler took all the cables off and reconnected them to see if there were a connection problem. He finally was able to check the TV settings to get the right combinations of source and channel for the cable box (instructions would have helped). At least it was working by the time we left.

Tuesday was our day for Smiths Falls, almost a 3-hour drive east from Trent Hills. The purpose was a senior couple activity for our zone, hosted by Elder and Sister Bosch from Smiths Falls and including Elder and Sister Hutchinson from Brockville.
Water tower

We took a tour of the Heritage House Museum, a restored 19th century house of an early businessman in Smiths Falls.

The Wheelers, Hutchinsons, and Boshes
Heritage House Museum
the old way of "tickling the ivories"
 We then went to the Carss House for lunch which has been restored as the Kilt and Castle, a Scottish restaurant. Elders Bruce and Seabra joined us briefly to say Hi. They have just been assigned to Smiths Falls. We worked with them in Toronto. Elder Seabra is a Portuguese missionary who is in English work at the moment but hopes to get to go back to Portuguese sometime.

Scottish restaurant
We were planning on seeing the Rideau Canal museum which tells about the 19th-century canal system passing through Smiths Falls. It was closed for the season so we all headed home in the afternoon.

We stopped in Perth on the way back to see Code's Mill, which is now holds a restaurant and some small shops. We took a little walk in Stewart Park across the street and encountered Barbara who told us about the history of the park. With our name tags she thought we were from the historical society. We explained what our name tags were for.
Code's Mill in Perth
Inside Code's Mill
Barbara with Sister Wheeler in the park
 We were able to do some shopping on Wednesday. Sister Wheeler needed to get some more thread so that she can work on the table cloths for the nativity display that the branch will put on in December. It gives us a chance to get out among the people in town. We had branch council in the evening. We are down to "last" now,  so next month will be our last branch council.

We spent most of the day Thursday in the family history center helping Mary. Thursday night was our Pearl of Great Price class at the church. The lesson was from Joseph Smith-History - the first vision. We were able to show "The Restoration" video as part of the class.

Friday we had a lot of small business items to catch up on, like calling Bell to arrange for cancelation of TV and internet and calling Deseret Mutual about forms to reenroll in Medicare. They sent the forms to the mission home so we probably wouldn't get them until it is too late. At several of the local fairs Sister Wheeler has noticed several of the women doing hooked rugs (it seems to be quite popular here). It is a skill that came from the Vikings when they came to Canada. She has been looking for a kit to try, but they don't seem to sell them. She met Karen Kaiser who has a studio in Belleville. We made an appointment to visit her on Friday to learn how to make hooked rugs (not latch hook). With a few simple instructions Sister Wheeler was able to pick up the technique like a pro (maybe a slight exaggeration, but Karen was surprised how fast she picked it up).

Karen showing sister Wheeler how to hook a rug
Ever since Sister Wheeler saw two alpaca at the Hastings Waterfront Festival she has thought about the possibility of raising a couple for herself. On Saturday they had an open-house at the farm where Dawn and Melody have a herd of 32 alpaca. We were able to visit and learn about raising alpaca and the six different grades of fleece. It was fun and very informative. Alpaca fleece is 8 times warmer than wool, it is hypoallergenic, and very very soft.
Alpaca herd
Buying alpaca gloves 
 We then went to Brighton for their Apple Festival. We got there later in the afternoon so much of it was closing down. We did take a tour of the 19th-century Proctor House. After that we went to the main street and saw long rows of booths selling food and other items. A rock band was playing full blast. Who ever invented electronic amplifiers anyway?
Proctor house
The blasting band
 Today (Sunday) ends September. As we drive around we see traces of Fall. Leaves are actually turning color instead of turning brown from the lack of water. There is also a nip in the air saying it must be Thanksgiving time (next week). We removed the air conditioner from the kitchen window and can cool off by opening the windows at night. We are looking forward to General Conference next week, even if the first session starts at noon (the life of east-coast living).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Primary Program

Today was a day of firsts. We had the first primary program for the Trent Hills branch. Someone seems to recall a program back when it was the Campbellford Branch, but no one seems to know how long ago that was. We had four children in the program (which exhibited all the personalities you find in a big ward - the shy boy, the runaway girl and eyes peeking over the railing). Two of the children were actually nursery age which would normally not be in the program but we needed each one to participate. Sister Wheeler played the piano. We also sang the theme song as a duet since no one had time to learn it (including us). It was a nice program which brought a nonmember grandmother to our sacrament meeting.

We also held the first Elders Quorum presidency meeting since the formation of the branch. We only have a short time to figure out how an elders quorum should operate before it has to be reorganized.

Last week we had our service project which resulted in a front-page picture in one of the local newspapers.

Brother Rowan on the front page of the paper
On Monday we decided to go to the library in Warkworth. It was closed so we took a little walk along the river.
A stop along our Warkworth walk
Tuesday we spent the day preparing for our Pearl of Great Price class. We also had a planning session to figure out whom we needed to visit. There are not a lot. We have a few projects to finish up, like the branch boundary maps for the district. Tuesday was transfer day, but the temple is closed so we didn't have our normal visit to Brampton.
Cooking time
District map project
 Wednesday was district meeting (missionary district) in Trenton. More missionaries were added to the Kingston Zone so we are back to two districts again. We only have three areas in our district now so the meeting place will be Trenton rather than Belleville. We had a lesson on how to get referrals from members of the branch.

Cars lined up for district meeting
On the way home we went through Wooler and found the Birdhouse, which is a charming store with all sorts of supplies for feeding the birds - Mary Poppins, eat your heart out :-)
The yard of finches at the birdhouse
Our own finches
They go through half of the seed in a day
We had a little more time for our morning walk on Thursday so we had another walk through Ferris Park. We discovered that they had put up some new signs at trail junctions to show where you are.

We had a new idea for our class on the "signs of the times". Normally classes focus on all the scary things that will come before the second coming of Christ. One of the signs is that the gospel will be preached in all the world. We did a little research on the internet about the growth of the church. Satan declared himself to Adam as the god of this world. As the gospel is spreading, there are fewer and fewer countries where Satan has full reign without the presence of the gospel. there are only 41 countries or territories that do not currently have the gospel present, and many of these are small islands or city states. Satan is loosing his reign over the world. We decided to use this as the focus of our lesson on preparing for the second coming.

Sunlit trail in Ferris Park
We had several things to do in the apartment Friday morning, but we needed to get out so we went to find three mills. The first was Needler's Mill in Millbrook. There was a nice mill pond (which included a great blue heron) and a trail along the hillside.
Needler's Mill in Millbrook
Along the trail by Needler's Mill
Great blue heron in the millpond
 We then went to Port Hope and found Molson mill. There was a no-fishing area by the mill that had huge fish jumping from the water. Sister Wheeler thinks they were rainbow trout. There was a sign that mentioned some of the fish and it mentioned rainbow trout. When they surfaced their skin had rainbow colors shining from it.
Molson Mill in Port Hope
We then went to see Pratt's Mill in Cobourg which is now a restaurant.
Pratt's Mill in Cobourg
It was a nice break from all the studying and projects we have been doing in the apartment.

Saturday was district auxiliary training meeting in Kingston. Since Elder Wheeler is working with the elders quorum he was invited to go. Sister Wheeler was invited to attend with Sister Holt as if she were a counselor in the Relief Society. We rode with the Holts. Elder Wheeler was able to give the branch maps to President Davis who passed them out to each of the branch presidents. The Relief Society meeting was on the importance of being happy, which included yellow roses (why didn't they pass out Maple Leaf hockey tickets in the elder's session?)
She's the "yellow rose in Kingston"
We decided to take the scenic way home. This meant following highway 33 along the lake. We stopped outside of Bath to see a historical plaque about the early Mormons living in Ontario. It names the missionaries who first came to Canada and converted about 600 people.
Plaque for the Canadian Mormons
We also stopped at a fruit stand to buy some apples.
Which kind of apples do we want?
Suddenly Hwy 33 ends and you need to take a ferry to Prince Edward County (a peninsula).
Ferry to the peninsula.
On the ferry
 We stopped by at the Lake on the Mountain where we had previously visited.
We didn't take the horse ride
We stopped at Belleville for some dinner at Swiss Chalet. It was a productive day with good meetings and a scenic ride back. There will be a lot we will miss about Canada.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cleanup on the TCT

We don't know why it takes so long to prepare a simple lesson. Maybe Abraham 3 isn't so simple which includes everything we know about Kolob (except for Kolob Canyon in Utah) and the premortal life. Anyway, Monday was spent in getting ready for our Pearl of Great Price class.

Tuesday was preparation day for our Saturday service project. Prime Minister Harper called for a day of service to remember 9/11 (Doug's birthday). The branch had selected a trail in Havelock to clean, but in walking the trail, they learned there wasn't anything to pick up. There is one section of the Trans-Canada Trail where we walk that has been used as a trash dump (for those not willing to pay the $2.75 per bag for a waste tag). We made arrangements with the Municipality of Trent Hills to clean up the trail. They probably didn't even know there was a problem there. We started the morning by walking along the trail to make sure there was work to do. We then picked up trash bags and gloves from the city to use on Saturday. We spent the afternoon driving to Madoc, Havelock, and Trent River to deliver notices about the activity to those who were not at church to hear the announcement.

Wednesday brought district meeting in Kingston. They talked about the Ward (branch) Mission Process which centers around the Branch Mission Leader (which we don't have in the Trent Hills branch). We had a new senior couple to serve in Brockville, the Hutchinsons, from Salt Lake.

Big horse ranch by the Kingston chapel
The Kingston zone
Sister and Elder Hutchinson
For the past several visits to Kingston we have looked for the Kingston Woolen Mill at the end of Cataraqui street. This time we looked it up on GoogleEarth and found it was in the opposite direction we had been looking. We could not find the street on the map. We passed by it on the way home.

Kingston Woolen Mill - now an office building
Sister Wheeler had a special Relief Society activity at the church on Thursday. For Christmas, the branch has a display of nativity scenes and invite the public to see them. For the activity the sisters sewed table clothes to be used for the display. Meanwhile, Elder Wheeler stayed home and prepared a DVD to be used for the class in the evening. It took over two hours to burn the DVD after it was all put together. The class in the evening was fun to teach.
It was a foggy morning, but not this foggy
Friday was a rainy day and we had a long list of things that needed catching up on. We at least needed to go to the store, but it was raining so hard we decided to postpone our shopping. We were very concerned about the weather for Saturday. We really need the rain, but we also need the service project.

Saturday was the big day - and no rain. We gathered about 10:00 am at our apartment building, put on our yellow "helping Hands" vests, went to the trail, and got to work. We underestimated the amount of trash piled up along side the trail. We filled 12 large bags plus some old carpeting and three tires. Debbie Holt (C) arranged for the newspapers to document the activity so we had two photographers (from two different newspapers) there. They were also surprised at the condition of the trail. It will look a lot better as we take a morning walk along that stretch. The city will pick up the bags on Monday.

Dressed in yellow
Ready to go
This was just from the roadside
Bags along the trail
After the activity we met in our apartment for a chili lunch prepared by Mary. Since she couldn't help with the cleanup she helped with the food. Overall the activity was very successful and we felt very good about it.
Ready for lunch in the apartment
 Sunday brought a surprise. As we walked into the chapel we saw Chris. We were able to teach him the first two missionary lessons a few month ago. He was baptized the first of July in Ohio (where he lives). Even though he was baptized in Ohio we will claim him in Trent Hills. The branch was very warm in welcoming him.
Here we are with Chris
It's finally official. Elder Wheeler was sustained and set apart by President Bennett today as the new Elder's Quorum president. Two counselors (Craig Goslin and Ed David) were also sustained and set apart. There was a good spirit in the meeting. This is the first time in many years there has been a elder's quorum presidency in Trent Hills. The purpose in the next few weeks is to train the presidency on how an elder's quorum functions in the church. After that, they are on their own. It was decided today that we will have the primary presentation for sacrament meeting next week. As long as there are now children in the primary there might as well be a presentation. Sister Wheeler will be helping with the program next week. She also volunteered to teach the Relief Society lesson today. Maybe we can stay out of trouble until our mission ends.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Take me out to the ball game"

This has been a very different week. Monday was Labor Day so the branch had their annual corn roast (where the corn is boiled, not roasted). We were asked to be there by 1:00 PM to help set everything up. It took about half an hour. We then sat around until the 4:00 PM activity. They built a big fire with a pot for cooking the corn. There were also barbecued hamburgers and sausages and lots of salads and desserts. We had more than 30 people attend with nine of them being non-members.
Pres Holt supervising Russ cutting wood
Russ building the fire
Food time
Dessert time
 We started a mini vacation on Tuesday. We drove to Toronto in the hardest rain we have had since arriving in Canada. The windshield wipers could hardly keep up with the rain. Last year when we were still living in Toronto my brother Wendell and his wife Yvette planned a visit. Being Baltimore Oriole fans (an understatement), their visit centered on three baseball games featuring the Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. They went to an afternoon game on Monday (Orioles winning 2-0), an evening game on Tuesday (Orioles winning 12-0), and invited us to join them for a game on Wednesday evening. We stayed in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto. We thought that was where they were staying, but they were at the Renaissance Hotel (sounded alike to us). Their hotel was right at the Rogers Center where the games were played. Ours was a couple of blocks away.

We stopped by the Superstore in Don Mills on the way there to pick up some items we have not been able to find in Campbellford. We used to shop here when we lived in Toronto.
We don't have stores this big in Campbellford
We met Wendell and Yvette in their hotel. It has been a long time since we have seen them. We decided to go to Boston Pizza for a bite to eat since they have gluten-free pizza available. We then wandered around the PATH (Toronto underground), a set of passage ways connecting downtown buildings with a lot of stores, etc. We ended up at Eaton Center Mall. There were several large groups going around competing for how much noise they could make. It ended up being FROSH, activities for freshman orientation. From there we separated, Wendell and Yvette going to the game while we went to visit Marzia, the Brazilian lady that we taught.

Rogers Center sculpture
Pizza time
Yvette fell in love with Glen Gould, piano artist
FROSH groups chanting
Wednesday we joined Wendell for breakfast at his hotel. It had a view into the stadium. 
Breakfast time
Yvette wanted to go to the AGO art museum. Wendell decided to go with us to the Toronto Islands. This was left over from our list of fun things to do in Toronto we made before we were transfered to Campbellford. We took the ferry to the islands then walked all around the islands.
Ferry to the Toronto Islands
We really enjoyed the islands. It provided excellent views of Toronto, an amusement park (closed at the time), and a beach. 
Cute couple with Toronto in the background
Is this Suelyn?
Rock of ages
The Three Islanders
 We planned on returning on the 3:45 ferry and were there 45 minutes early. We moved over into the shade and got in line when the ferry came. Just as we were to get on the ferry they stopped us, telling us the ferry was full so we would have to wait for the next ferry in 30-45 minutes. We finely got back to Toronto in time to grab a bite to eat and head for the game. The last baseball game we went to was to see the Padres when we lived in San Diego. We decided to root for the home team (the Blue Jays) while Wendell and Yvette rooted for the Orioles. They were kind enough to invite us to the only game the Blue Jays won (6-4). We really enjoyed the game and especially enjoyed being with Wendell and Yvette.

Baseball fans
This is "real" baseball
Thursday we got up early to go to Oshawa for a zone conference. We took a wrong turn from the hotel and ended up on King Street, which meant we couldn't turn left or right since it was rush hour. We followed King Street for a long way until we could finally make a right turn then unsuccessfully tried to  find the entrance to the Gardiner Expressway or the Don Valley Parkway. We finally ended up on Kingston Street and went through Scarborough until we got to Highway 401.

We got to the chapel just in time for the zone conference to start. At about noon President Scott got up and said he had some good news and some bad news. The good news - it was time for lunch. The bad news - there was no lunch. Apparently an assignment fell through so we had nothing to eat. Immediately the senior couples gathered around Sister Scott to take assignments to call Pizza places for quick service. We went across town to Double Pizza and brought back five pizzas (out of the 25 pizzas needed - including one gluten-free pizza). The missionaries continued their training for another hour and we were able to break for lunch. This was our last zone conference so we had the opportunity to bear our testimonies. There was a very nice spirit at the conference.

We hurried back to Campbellford then to the church just in time for our Pearl of Great Price class. It was from Abraham 2, the Abrahamic covenant. There was a very good spirit there also. Overall it was a very good day.

Three types of finches at the bird feeder
The branch was preparing to participate in the National Day of Service by cleaning up a trail in Havelock. When Sister Hold went on the trail there was nothing to clean up. President Holt asked us to check with Trent Hills to see if they had a project we could do. We stopped by the Municipality offices on Friday morning to see what was available. We made arrangements to clean a portion of the Trans Canada Trail where we sometimes walk. There is one section that has been used as a dump. The Relief Society had an activity planned for Saturday morning so we stopped by the store to get materials for a small luncheon.

There was rain Saturday morning so the Relief Society activity was postponed until next Thursday (even though the activity was to be indoors, they were worried about transporting materials to the car). We need to be flexible and go with the flow.

Sunday started with an early meeting. As we were crossing the bridge in Campbellford we saw a different sight, a wedding couple crossing the bridge. It called for a quick picture from the car.

I'm getting married Sunday morning
Sister Wheeler acts as an ex-facto counselor for both Relief Society and Primary. She helped in planning the Saturday activity (that was moved to Thursday) as well as helping plan the Primary sacrament program (to be held at some unknown time). This means long talks with several of the sisters in the branch after the meetings.
I'm hungary, let's go home!
We got a phone call today (Sunday) from the Campbellford Holts when we got back home from church inviting us to dinner at their house. We had a nice dinner including steak and rice. We always enjoy our visit at their house. We were able to Skype with Andrea and her family in the evening. We look forward to seeing our grandchildren again.