Sunday, October 28, 2012

40 Years

No, we don't have 40 years left on our mission - we have been married for 40 years. Wednesday was our anniversary, but we didn't do a lot of celebrating. It is different in the mission field - especially in a small town like Campbellford. We normally would go to dinner and a movie. We did have a dinner invitation with Mary and Penny, however. Since we were in Belleville on Thursday we had lunch at the Lone Star restaurant for our anniversary dinner.

We had our last Pearl of Great Price class last week so we didn't have to prepare a lesson this week. We did find out, however, that they want us to give a family home evening about music around the world on November 5th which will take some time to get ready.

We made a list of people we would like to visit before we leave the branch. President Holt also gave us another set of membership records of members to visit to see if there are any changes. On Monday we stopped by a family we met in January. The response was a steaming letter to President Holt and the district president. We suggested that it would be better for President Holt to send the memberships with a cover letter rather than have us visit homes where we are not welcome. He agreed - Whew!

Warkworth is an "artsy" village in our branch. On Wednesday (our anniversary) we decided to take a walk around the village studying the architectural features of 24 homes that were highlighted in a small brochure. It was a beautiful day for a walk.
19th century Ontario vernacular home
House with Italianate doors
 We saw a striking yellow frame house from across the street.
Yellow frame house - notice the barge-board trim
As we crossed the street we got a closer look. 
(Watch out for Ginny's shady ladies)
Halloween is coming soon, since Thanksgiving is already over. Many houses are decorated for the season - some more than others. We ran across a haunted house with a graveyard setting in Warkworth (not one of the heritage homes). It was enough to scare all the little children.
The haunted house
Looks are deceiving at times. You never know what you may find in the graveyard.
Children under the pile of leaves

On Thursday, Sister Wheeler had another rug hooking session in Belleville. This gave us an opportunity to go out to eat afterward. We have not gone out to eat a lot on our mission. Restaurant food is very expensive. In fact, everything is very expensive. They then add a 13% sales tax which makes us think twice before buying anything. 

She has also tried to do some crocheting. She enjoys it - especially the unraveling of rows when she finds out she made a little mistake. She is making them as thank-you gifts for those that have fed us. She will have made 13 by the time she is finished.

One of her doilies

Since we didn't have time for a morning walk we decided to take an afternoon walk in Ferris Park. It was a very warm day for October - this will soon change.
Autumn trail in the park

Milkweed is in season in the park
Friday was another beautiful day. Besides our morning walk we took a walk down town. We stopped at the Bulk Plus store (owned by the Rowans in the branch) where they were having a book signing for a grain-free cookbook written by a lady who works in the store. There is a gluten-free store just down the street from the grocery store. Sometimes when we go there we see our friend Eleanor, the mother of the store owner. 
Eleanor is in her 90s

We took a little drive on the outskirts of Campbellford (the Heritage Tour of Seymour) to see some more old houses. These were scattered around the farmland instead of in the village like Warkworth. 
Old schoolhouse turned residence
We missed one of the houses which we were able to walk to on our Saturday morning walk. It was back from the highway on a private drive, surrounded by a large yard. Maybe we should live here.
The Johnston home
Saturday morning we did some deep cleaning (under the stove and refrigerator and trying to get duct tape gunk off the window sill). We spared you the picture, but the floor under the refrigerator had not been cleaned since long before the elders moved into the apartment more than 3 years ago. 

Sister Wheeler got a phone call inviting her to join the sisters in the branch who were going to Madeleine's 80th birthday party. It was located in Solina, north of Oshawa. They had a good time while Elder Wheeler stayed home working on the family home evening presentation (just to lose a lot of the work when the program crashed). 
Madeleine cutting the birthday cake
Half the cake was chocolate and the other half was carrot cake
We had our last pot luck after church today. Trent Hills is a good place to be on a gluten-free diet. There were at least 4 gluten-free deserts to go along with gluten-free dishes (no not the plates, the food to put on the plates). We have been regularly welcomed to gluten-free meals in the members homes. They not only speak English in Trent hills, they speak gluten-free. We are so blessed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flecks of Gold

Now that we are approaching the end of our mission we have been reflecting back on our experiences. There are many comments encouraging senior couples to go on missions, such as: "You are really needed", "You will make such an impact on the mission"; "You will change many lives for the better". This sets a very high expectation that is not always met through the day-to-day attempt in doing the Lord's work. As we were preparing for our last Pearl of Great Price class we reviewed videos from Mormon Messages (examples of modern pearls of great price). One video stood out - Flecks of Gold by Elder Ballard. It tells about a man who sold everything he had and headed for the California gold rush in search of the large nuggets of gold he had heard about. After many days of hard labor and a large pile of rocks he was ready to quit, saying "There's no gold here!"Another prospector came by and showed him how he had gained his wealth by collecting large quantities of small flecks of gold like those found in the pile of rocks the man had dumped. We are making a list of experiences here in the Canada Toronto Mission and have realized that we have collected many small flecks of gold (and a few small nuggets) along the way. It has not been what we expected, but has been rewarding.

New senior couples are coming to the mission, but not to Trent Hills. Elder Caldwell (from the mission office) and Elders Green and Porter (APs) came with a truck on Tuesday to load up everything we could do without until the end of our mission. They also stopped by the church to pick up furniture left by the elders when they moved out. Sister Wheeler had a nice chicken dinner for them when they came. Once we move out they will return and pick up everything else. It almost brings a panicky feeling because time is so short.
Dinner time for the movers
Packing boxes
We made several visits on Wednesday. We were invited for dinner by Doris, Linda, and Eileen in Marmora. Sister Wheeler had crocheted a doily to give to each of them in gratitude for all the good food we have eaten there. Tammy, Doris' daughter from Toronto was visiting as well. On the way home we tried to find a media referral, but it was a bad address so we need to continue to try. We stopped by to see Madeleine since her daughter and husband went out west (Alberta and BC) and left her alone in the woods. Elder Wheeler also got a call from Gary Rowan for a late-night home teaching appointment to see Gail.
Ladies with doilies 
Thursday was our last Pearl of Great Price class. This has been a fun 15 weeks. We have had 10-12 participants each week. They have read the lesson material and were always prepared. We told them this was their final exam. Each of them were able to express their thoughts or feelings about what they had learned from the Pearl of Great Price and what it has meant in their lives. We ended with treats. Sister Wheeler made some Pearl of Great Price cookies, gluten free of course.
Pearl of Great Price cookies
Other treats in the kitchen
More from the class
 We had skills and interviews in Kingston on Friday. Elders Ashton and Nash always do a good job with the training. Elder Wheeler was able to have a role play in Portuguese with Elder Seabra. We had our final interview with President Scott. We will see him again at transfer time, but this was our last interview. Sisters Sutten and Jungert made some brownies for the elders to enjoy (and spill crumbs on the floor).
Sister Sutten (Cinderella)

We had time Saturday morning for a long walk through Ferris Park. We have been there every season and it is always enjoyable. With fall leaves all around the moss on the rocks was striking.
Green moss
Mossy rock
 We had district conference (the church unit kind, not the missionary kind) this Saturday and Sunday. It started with a 3 pm priesthood leadership meeting (we had a good turnout from Trent Hills) for which Elder Wheeler gave the closing prayer. Pres. Scott wanted the senior missionaries to participate in the conference so Elder Hutchinson and Elder Bosch had talks while Elder Wheeler gave a prayer. In his talk, President Scott referred to the parable of the talents emphasizing that the person doubling two talents got the same reward as the person doubling five talents. That means the same reward comes from giving a prayer as giving a talk (but it is a lot less work).

We enjoyed a nice dinner (gluten free) between sessions. We then had the adult session. As Pres. Scott was talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan we realized the Good Samaritan is really Jesus Christ who heals us then pays all our bills when he returns. Pres. Piasetski (in the district presidency) talked about family - going back and going forward. We had a chance to meet part of his family since we were able to spent the night with his daughter Diane Elliott, her husband Jay, and their daughter Isabella. We learned the strength of the church comes from multiple generations of church members who have actually been raised and live in eastern Canada. Jay and Diane have both been on missions and are raising a gospel-centered family. The church here is in good hands.
The Elliott home
Jay, Isabella, and Diane Elliott
 When we arrived at the their house Saturday night, Cassondra Cudd was there to help with their daughter. We commented on the name Cassondra since it is used in the song "Metaphor" in the musical "Fantasticks". Sis. Elliot found the song on line and played it for Cassondra. We decided to take a picture of Cassondra with Elder Wheeler playing the parts from Fantasticks. There was a wall (chair) between them, just as in the play.
Cassondra and Elder Wheeler doing a "Fantastick" job
The final session of district conference was on Sunday. Due to the hospitality of the Elliotts we didn't need to drive back to Campbellford late Saturday night just to return to Kingston on Sunday morning. We had another spiritual conference session followed by a scenic ride home. It has been a great weekend.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving

Fall has come and it's time for Thanksgiving - at least in Canada. We took a ride to see some fall colors then sat down to a simple Thanksgiving dinner. We only had turkey thighs, but we did have some pumpkin and apple pie (gluten-free, of course).
Our simple thanksgiving dinner
The pictures on the blog don't represent the time we spend as missionaries. We received a text message from our district leader telling us we didn't need to be at their meeting on Tuesday since they would only be going over Area Books. We changed our schedule for class preparation on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. The Pearl of Great Price class takes a lot of time in preparation. Elder and sister Gay were called as CES missionaries. They work with the young single adults and teach three institute classes each term. Even for them, a lot of the time is spent in preparation. On Tuesday we did take a break to walk around the canal.
The lock connecting the Trent Canal and the Trent River
As our mission winds down we are putting together a list of what we have done here in Canada. As we review our activities we have decided that maybe we have made a difference in the lives of individuals here in Canada. Wednesday we had our morning walk through the park, which is beautiful with the leaves and fall colors. We also went to the church to change the marquee and select pictures to use in our class.
Autumn is here for these people
The snow path is now a leaf path
 One of the difficulties in this area is finding activities where we can be in contact with people in the community. Sister Wheeler has found the ideal activity - rug hooking. We went to Belleville on Thursday for her rug hooking session. The leader showed the group the quality of her work and mentioned that she was only a beginner. The studio is located on a farm with a beautiful pond.
Sister Wheeler with the other "hookers"

The pond
Our evening class was on the thirteen Articles of Faith. We have talked about the restoration of scriptures, the priesthood, and the church so we decided to use the Articles of Faith as an example of the restoration of doctrine. For each article of faith we compared what was taught by the churches in the day of Joseph Smith with the truths restored through the Articles of Faith.

We take different paths for our morning walks. When we walk past the hospital we come to a street crossing near a school. Safety guards help stop traffic for the children to cross. In most cases adults are ignored - except for John. He always helps us across the street (going the extra mile - no the crossings are not that long). One day he commented about us always being happy so early in the morning. We replied that was because we didn't drink coffee to wake us up.
John - the extra miler
It was a clear, but cold day on Friday so we decided to visit the Canoe Museum in Peterborough. It showed canoes and kayaks from First Nation times to modern times. There were films along the way that showed how they were made by early Americans.
The birch-bark Teepee - no dogs allowed
Trapper Paul
Quality beaver pelts for sale
We went past the hydraulic lift lock that is famous in Peterborough. The museum was closed for the season, but they didn't move the lock.

Peterborough lift lock

 Friday we hit a milestone - we completed reading the book of Mormon in Portuguese. It has taken almost two years to complete. On Saturday we started reading the Golden Pamphlets (handouts for missionary lessons) in Portuguese.

The first pamphlet

After cleaning our apartment in the morning we went on a walk in the Seymour Conservation area.
Rock sitters
We decided we are not as remote from Utah as we sometimes feel. Last week we received General Conference over satellite from Salt Lake City. this week we were able to see our first (and probably our only) BYU football game on TV. Too bad they didn't beat Oregon State.
Didn't he play for USU?
We had district visitors for our Sunday meetings. We are still trying to get the Elder's Quorum in gear. I enjoy hearing the members of the priesthood making arrangements with families they home teach. This is the first time the Trent Hills branch has ever had a full presidency. My counselors are Craig Goslin and Ed David. The secretary is Russ Dishington (who got last month's home teaching report in on time).
The Elder's Quorum presidency: Craig, Ed, Me, Russ
We learned that Tuesday will be moving day. There are two new senior couples coming into the mission so a crew will come from Brampton to pick up the extra queen bed we have and other items we can do without until we finish.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Beehive State

Diane is another year older today, though she doesn't feel like it. It has been a strange birthday, being conference Sunday and being in the mission field means we don't have a big celebration. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in Canada so she made a pumpkin and a French apple pie for her birthday. 

Monday is our normal wash day. There are only two washing machines and two dryers. We get there about 8:15 in the morning and chat with Joy and Marina just as the washing machines become available. We divide the clothes into a white load and a dark load then put them all in a single dryer. It cost $3 per wash and $3 per dry. 

Joy and Marina in the Laundry
Many of the apartments have door hangings to liven up the stark hallways in the apartment building.
Door hanging
Door hanging

Door hanging
 It has been awhile since we changed the marque at the church, but thought it would be good to announce General Conference in case someone drove by and wanted to know when the church is meeting. It was a good thing we did, since a "cottage" family stopped by for the Sunday morning session (at 12:00 noon).
Changing the marque
We had a district meeting in Trenton on Tuesday. The subject was on setting goals with the spirit. That's a little difficult since we still don't know what we are doing. The mission is well defined for the younger elders and sisters where their goal setting is based on "key indicators" which map the progression of investigators. We stopped at Brighton on the way back to cash a check. In the evening we broke down and watched the presidential debates.

Elder Gummow (new) with Elder Sveinson
Wednesday we worked on our Pearl of Great Price class. The topic was Moroni's visit, the Book of Mormon, and the restoration of the priesthood. We decided to introduce Moroni's teaching method when he visited Joseph Smith. Most people talk about teaching the gospel by repetition, that really gets boring. We extended it to teaching by theme and variation - learning the theme of the gospel topic then adding variation to make it interesting. As an object lesson Sister Wheeler played some of Mozart's variations on  "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman" (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Variations on Twinkle
We walked to the library to return a book. It was very humid, but not as hot as last month.

Sister Wheeler at the library
Fall is coming which brings Halloween (after Thanksgiving, of course). Leaves have really started to change this week.

Halloween decorations 

Sumac turning red
On Thursday we went to Belleville so Sister Wheeler could meet with a rug hooking class. Karen, the leader of the class was going to make a beehive pattern for Sister Wheeler's first rug hooking project. This is not the modern latch hooking with yarn you find in all the craft stores throughout the world, this is the old-fashioned rug hooking with strips of cloth. She was able to talk to several of the ladies in the class. She was also very pleased about the pattern Karen made. The supplies for the project will be her birthday present. 
The beehive pattern
We stopped by the mall in Belleville for lunch. Elder Wheeler ate poutine at the New York Fries stand. The lady there has always been very helpful with his gluten-free diet, so he decided to give her a gift of the Book of Mormon. Sister Wheeler got a falafel sandwich at the Pita Pazzaz. After we got home she noticed they gave her a toony ($1) change instead of a quarter. We passed by there on Friday on our way back from Kingston to return the 75 cents. 

We got a call about having a zone training meeting in Kingston on Friday. There are several new companionships in the zone. Elder Gwilliam (who had been in Trenton 2 transfers ago) and Elder Nelson are now in Napanee. As mentioned in our visit to Smiths Falls, Elder Bruce and Elder Seabra are working there. We know both of them very well when Elder Bruce was working in the Toronto Ward and Elder Seabra was working as a Portuguese elder. He spent one transfer as a Czech elder.
The three musketeers 
Elder Gwilliam and Elder Nelson
 We have had two enjoyable days of General conference. We could have watched it on the computer from our apartment, but we decided to go to the church where we could be with members of the branch. We are excited about the announcement of allowing missionaries at a younger age, that should help in our shortage of missionaries. It should also help increase the number of sister missionaries who can do so much good here.

Took a little walk between sessions on the road that goes along side the church. Now you can visualize our neighborhood.

Old barn
On the Trent River
We are going to miss the scenery here. It is so beautiful now with the fall colors.