When Brendan first got his mission call and we were looking at the map of his mission, we noticed that the Winnipeg mission took in one tiny slice of the north end of Minnesota. Well, that is where Brendan ended up for his first transfer. He told us that after they got off the plane in Winnipeg, they went to the mission home, met the Assistants to the President and also the Mission President and his Wife. Then after spending time doing the normal orientation stuff and spending the night in the mission home, he finally got to meet his new companion. Then it was off to Minnesota and back in the good old USA. Oh and BTW, Brendan's new companion is taller than Brendan. So somewhere just off the border of Minnesota and Canada are two 6 foot something Elders walking around and preaching the Gospel. If you read this and happen to see them, say hi from his family.
Brendan says that he has learned a lot in just the few short weeks that he has been out. And he is still learning. That is a good thing. The learning should never stop. Here is what Brendan had to say about it:
"I'm seriously learning so much. It's been really hard and tiring and the whole bit. But I'm loving it. Sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm loving it during the middle of the day but every night I get done and I'm so happy for the opportunity that I have to be out here and offering people their salvation. That is so insane to me, that me, the immature lurpey know it all 18 year old is trusted enough by the Lord to go out and teach his restored gospel. I've taken 3rd Nephi 5:13 to heart. I AM A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST!! As hard as it is and as hard as I know it is going to be, I'm ready. I'm changing lives and in return changing my own."So the funny missionary stories are already starting to come in. In Brendan's first couple of weeks out in Minnesota, he has already driven on an ice road. It turns out that Brendan and his companion ended up meeting with some people who are investigating the church. The problem was that they were out on the ice on Rainy Lake. So they drove on an ice road to get there and taught a lesson in an ice trailer. Brendan also told us about a unique tracting encounter that they had. He said that he and his companion were out tracting one day when they knocked on a door. Brendan said that a man opened the door and had a baseball sized wad of chew in his lip. Brendan started out by telling the man that they were missionaries and asked if he would be interested in knowing more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The man's reply was, "So like... fill out some paperwork". Brendan was stumped by the man's reply and didn't know how to respond, so he just said "no". The man said OK and shut the door. I'm guessing that they won't be going back for a follow up.
Brendan is learning a lot about life outside of Utah Valley. He told us a little bit about International Falls and how hard of a life many people have who live there. Their branch only as about 40 members and they have an average attendance each week of about 20. That is very different from the Ward that Brendan grew up in. But he has ready met some great people who are interested in knowing more about the gospel. Some who haven't been to church in a long time and others who are just learning about the church for the first time. Brendan is also learning about how to deal with the extreme cold. On one P-day when we emailed home, he said that it was about -20 outside with the wind blowing very hard. Brendan said that when it gets that cold, it actually hurts to breath. One night they got a call from a member in the branch whose well pump had frozen. They spent quite a while out in -35 degree weather helping to fix the pump. Brendan said that he had never been so cold in his entire life.
So here is a funny story that Brendan told us. He said that he has been working on humility lately because he felt that he has a huge pride and stubbornness problem. As a result of working on this, Brendan said that he has just been so happy that he is smiling all of the time. He told us that there is an older lady that lives in the apartment below them that they see every once in a while. Brendan said that she is just the sweetest old lady ever. So the other day he decided to knock on her door to say hi. She opened the door and said, "You have looked so happy the last couple of days... Are you in love?" Brendan said that he lost it right there and just had to laugh. He told her that he was in love with life, that's all.
From what we understood from Brendan's email, apparently the Sisters had two nice couches in their apartment and the Elders just had junk. So the Sisters were nice enough to drop off one of the couches along with some treats so that the Elders wouldn't have to suffer any more without a couch. And I thought that the extreme cold was enough suffering. No couch too??
Not sure where Brendan found this truck or who it belongs to, but it has a great name.
Smokey the Bear in Minnesota. It looks like a pair of ice skates that he is holding. I didn't know that Smokey ice skated. Apparently he does.