Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Responsibilities just keep coming

So there have been some changes for Brendan in his mission over the last month or so.  Some of the changes he announced to us in a very subtle way.  Around the beginning of April, Brendan sent us an email which started out in the same way that most of his emails start.  With Brendan, it means that he has picked some random topic to talk about and then ends up telling us all about the wonderful things that are going on.  So the random topic this week was all about tennis and the opportunity that he had to play a few sets with his companion.  In fact, the way that Brendan describes this innocent tennis match up in the great white north, make is sound like the pros on the grass courts in England.  I'll give you a taste of what I am talking about:
"Today has been the best p-day ever. We splurged and dropped like 30 bucks each on some tennis rackets and went and played the 3 most intense sets of tennis ever played. We played at an old folks home and all the old people lined the edge of the fence and just watched with awe as brute will and sure fire tenacity was dripping to the court floor. IT WAS WIMBLEDON OUT THERE!! Just instead of in beautiful England on lovely grass courts, we played on concrete and it was some where in the 20's (Fahrenheit) and we were wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts. And it felt tropical!
 But Elder Randall won the first set 5-1 (we were playing 5 game sets) and I thought I was down and out. He played in high school and I tried to haha. (failed) But, I had the comeback of the century and won the second set and then won the third one with a whopping 11-9 game win. It was a long set to say the least. ON TOP OF THE WORLD BABY!! all the old people lifted me up and carried me off the court singing that one song from Remember the Titans. It was crazy."

The image of all of the elderly residents of the neighboring senior center hoisting Brendan on their shoulders while they sing and carry him off the tennis court, just cracks me up.

Yes, Brendan won a well played tennis match on his P-day, but we haven't gotten to the big changes yet.  Brendan goes on to tell us about attending conference and watching the most wonderful and spiritually edifying 10 hours of General Conference that he has ever experienced.  Then he finally ends his email with the following subtle detail about the upcoming mission transfers:
"President grabbed me after MLC (mission leadership council) on Friday and brought me into his office. We sat down and he tells me that he is going to be giving me my transfer call early. Well, you might have guessed where this is going, but I'm going to be serving in the office for the next couple months. So Alex[Brendan's brother], you aren't the only AP in the family anymore..."
Yep, if you caught that little detail, Brendan has a new responsibility to be the assistant to the President for the next several months.  From what Brendan has told us so far, it is a very busy, sometimes tedious, occasionally boring but most importantly, a very a spiritually rewarding job.

I mentioned that Brendan's new responsibilities as an AP are sometimes tedious and boring.  The only reason why I say that is because of the size of the Winnipeg, Canada mission.  Part of his new responsibilities is to visit all of the zones in the mission every transfer.  If you have ever looked at the size of the mission, it is huge.  This means that getting from one zone to another or one city to another requires many hours of driving.  In the next email that we got from him, he was traveling from Winnipeg to Saskatoon.  Brendan and his companion had been in the car for about 11 hours and were just arriving in Saskatoon.  His email didn't really say a lot but what he did say is that his first week as an AP was extremely tiring and fun.  Then he ended his email with another challenge.
"Been listening to a lot of talks lately as we drive. And I have decided what talk is my favorite talk of ALL TIME. And the award goes toooooooooooo Dieter F Uchtdorf for his work with creating the literary masterpiece that is A Summer With Great Aunt Rose. If you have never read that talk GO AND READ IT NOW!! I won't be offended if you walk away from my email. Go. GO NOW!
 The whole talk is a story, a parable you could say of a girl that spends a summer with her great aunt rose and man is it packed with life lessons!! So go and read it and change your life."
So here is something that Brendan never expected to learn on his mission, another language.  When Brendan received his mission call it said that he would be serving in the Winnipeg, Canada mission and speaking English.  Well, that has been mostly true.  But with his new assignment as an AP in the office, he has also been assigned to a new Ward which includes several deaf members.  So Brendan has been learning American Sign Language.  In fact he has become quite good at it, even to the point where the Ward leadership has asked him to sign for the deaf members during the meetings.  When we talked to Brendan on Mother's Day, he did a little signing for us. Not that we really understood what he was saying.  He also talked all about his Ward, his new responsibilities and just how much he loves being a missionary.  He told us about how he had to translate the church meetings in ASL for the deaf members in the Ward and how he and his companion actually tracted into a deaf man and Brendan was able to talk to him for about 20 minutes.  He just loves all of the new experiences that are happening all of the time.

So here is another one of Brendan's random thoughts:
"I always do this, but I guess I will start by explaining my subject line. It is going to be really really bad when I get back to the U.S. and continue to ask black people where they are from. haha. In Winnipeg and for the most part a lot of Canada, if you run into a black person they are most likely NOT from Canada. So you ask them where they are from! They say Nigeria, you ask them if they are making any pepper soup, if they are from the Congo, you say something in swahili. They love it. But I have a feeling that is not going to cut it in the U.S.. "Hey man whats up?" "Not much man" "Nice, just out of curiosity, where are you from?" *Slap in the face "AMERICA!" "
In his latest email, Brendan told us all about his return to International Falls.  If you remember, International Falls was Brendan's first area when he arrived in the Winnipeg mission.  It is also a small slice of the U.S. which belongs to the Winnipeg, Canada mission.  It turned out that Elder Dale G. Renlund was visiting the Winnipeg mission last week and made a stop in Saskatoon.  From there Elder Renlund was headed to International Falls to preside over a very small LDS District in the area. Brendan and his companion got permission to travel to International Falls to attend the meetings.  They got up at 4:30 in the morning to travel for 4 hours to listen to an Apostle of the Lord speak as well as visit some of the members in the area that Brendan hasn't seen in over a year.  Brendan described it as one of the greatest experiences of his mission so far.

I mentioned that we were able to skype with Brendan on mother's day.  It was wonderful to see and talk to Brendan for a while and it was also amazing to think that we will only be skyping with him one more time before he comes home.  Some parents say that the time that their kids are on missions goes by very slowly.  That has not been the case for us.  The time has been flying by.  We can't even believe how fast a year and a half has gone by.  We told Brendan to enjoy every moment because it will all come to a close before he knows it.  One last thing to talk about.  This past weekend Brendan's sister got married in the Timpanogos Temple.  It was a wonderful event and obviously Brendan couldn't be there.  But during the same weekend we had a couple of visitors from the YSA Ward in Winnipeg where Brendan served, stay with us.  Even though we were exhausted from all of the wedding activities last weekend, we stayed up and talked to the kindest and sweetest young ladies from Winnipeg.  They both were fairly recent converts to the church and had the strongest testimonies.  It was great to get to know them, talk about Brendan a little bit and share some experiences.

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