Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Christmas call

It is that time of year again when we celebrate Christmas.  It is also the time of year when our missionary gets to call home.  This has been our tradition for the past seven years.  For the past seven years our family has had a missionary serving in one part of the world or another.  So getting a missionary call on Christmas is just what we expect.  This year was a little bit different though.  All of our kids were spending Christmas in different places so the family togetherness was more of a virtual thing than a physical thing.  You can put it this way, there were a lot of skype windows open and getting the skype conference call working was a trick.  But in the end, we all had a great time talking to Brendan and knowing that he is doing well.  We talked to Brendan for about 40 minutes and also got the chance to meet his companion and some of the Sisters that he works with.  Brendan looked really good and his sense of humor is still pure Brendan.  Here is just a sampling of that humor for those who have missed it over the last year:
"Ya know what I don't get. I watched all the missionaries in my district start calling home and immediately when their family popped up on screen everyone started crying and Kleenex were everywhere. They were sharing all these intimate moments and I was sitting in the corner just thinking "thank you Heavenly Father, for giving me the family I have. Truly, thank you" I hopped on Skype and called Alex and Annie and immediately when they popped up, me and Alex were just WAZZZZZ UP????!! it was great. No tears. never tears. Fake tears were shed on my part. But that was to check if I still had that youngest child talent of busting out the waterworks on command. The verdict... I can't."

So Brendan told us about an interesting experience that he and his companion had in the YSA Ward.  One evening before Christmas, the Ward decided to go Christmas caroling for their activity.  When Brendan told us this story, he put in the subject line of the email, "Caroling to Muslims".  Not that Muslims had anything to do with the story really, it was more that Muslims as well as a few other religious sects don't really celebrate Christmas.  If you are at all familiar with Canada, the country is much more of a melting pot for different ethnicities and religions than is the United States.  So when the YSA Ward decided to go caroling, it turned out that many of the people they visited didn't even know that caroling during the Christmas season is really a thing.  Needless to say, they really enjoyed the experience and also had an opportunity to explain to people why they were there and what Christmas is all about.  You really can't ask for a better missionary experience than that.

Things have been going great for Brendan and his companion when it comes to being able to teach and baptize new members of the church.  Brendan told us just a few weeks ago that another person that they had been teaching was just baptized as well.  He also told us a story about how he and his companion decided to start calling phone numbers in the Ward directory and setting up appointments.  Calling one of the less active members of the Ward really turned out to be "the right thing at the right time".  I won't go into the details of the story here but during some of the teaching moments that the missionaries had with this Ward member, those exact words were said.  This was a real testimony builder for both Brendan and the Ward member.  To make the call at the right time and then teach the lesson that was needed, just shows that the Lord is in control.

Brendan was really excited about Christmas and the Christmas package that was sent from home.  There was stuff in the package like vitamins, candy, games and a camera.  You can probably understand why a missionary might not be too excited about vitamins and stuff like that but you might think that he would be excited about a camera.  Not Brendan.  No, the thing that he was most excited about was the new Junior Ranger badge that his Mom sent him.  Last summer we took a trip up though Wyoming and South Dakota.  Brendan's Mom was able to pick up a Junior Ranger badge from a few places along the way.  The reason why she did this was because every time Brendan had an opportunity to get a Junior Ranger badge from one of the National Parks we visited during family trips, he did.  In fact during high school Brendan would proudly wear his Junior Ranger badges to school.  You might think that wearing Junior Ranger badges to high school is kind of a strange thing for a kid to do, but hey, that's just Brendan's personality.  Anyway, in his email home after opening his package, his new Junior Ranger badge was all he could talk about.  

It has turned really cold in Winnipeg.  Brendan said that December wasn't really bad but once January hit, the temperatures have really dropped.  Here is how Brendan describes it:

"So winter has finally come. Winnipeg style. Its been below freezing for about all of December but January hits and everything drops even more. It has been in the minus 20's (Celsius) all this week and with windchill it has been a steady -38 Celsius. That's probably about -38 Fahrenheit. Its been good. I like it. You go out in that kind of cold and you are warm if you are smart and you feel like the MAN. We went street contacting yesterday evening in -35 and my eyebrows and eyelashes froze. I'll send some pics. It makes for an interesting time.

I will say, the strangest part of it all is when your nose hairs freeze. That is some crazy stuff! Feels wack. The wind here is gnarly. That just feels like it goes straight through your skin and straight to the bones. It is wack as well. But maybe the #2 strangest thing, people are out here walking their dogs! And they put these little dog shoes on their dogs. Its hilarious to watch. Truly."