Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bed bugs and bears

It has been a little while since I last updated this blog.  There are good reasons for that and most of them are because of how busy Brendan has been on his mission.  You would think that if he was so busy then there would be a lot to share with everyone.  That is probably true except for the fact that Brendan would have to share all of those things with us first.  Basically what I am saying is that Brendan has been so busy with all of the responsibilities that he has as an Assistant to the President that he hasn't had a lot of time to spend on sending emails home.  He has written us each week but his emails have been short, sweet and to the point.  Most of what he has said is that he and his companion are on long road trips around the Winnipeg mission area visiting the various zones and districts.  So that has been most of Brendan's life for the past several weeks.  Here is an example:
"Well, another P day spent on the road. So apologies for shooting this one late. But for the first time since I have been here, the drive from Winnipeg to Regina was actually super scenic. It was amazing!! One thing you need to know about the prairies is the fact that the sky is huge. HUGE!! You can see everything. There is not a single thing that is out of view. And when the sun sets, it shoots the most vibrant colours across the whole sky. I wish I got some pictures but I was to busy trying to not veer off the road into a moose or something.

This week has been a week full of office stuff, so there isn't much to share. But I just want to say something real quick. I hate North Americans. Well, I hate Canadians and Americans. Not really, but I definitely see us as an inferior species. There are some gems along the way but the true gold is found in the diversity of the world. Why? Because everyone not from North America is SOOOOO NICE!!

I don't get it. They are just the nicest people you have ever met. Exhibit A: Elder Deans and I are walking out of a less actives apartment. And this guy who we have met maybe two times before from the Caribbean, strikes up a conversation and then invites us to their home for some traditional Trinidadian food. AMAZING!! People just do things like that. All day. I love it

Anyways, I've got to jet off to a zone conference. Love yous."
Isn't that just the greatest email.  Short, sweet and full of good stuff.  Did you notice the Canadian influence in some of the word spellings?  There are a few other tidbits and experiences that have been shared along the way and now seems like a good time to share those experiences with everyone else.

Let's start out with every missionaries nightmare... BED BUGS!!!  I just love the way that Brendan told us about his bed bug problem.  Not just because it is Brendan telling the story in "Brendan" fashion but because of the way that Brendan turned his bed bug nightmare into a day dream.  Here is Brendan's version:
"You guessed it! this week sucked..... blood. No but for real, this week kind of sucked. and I will let you know whyyyyy.  We got bed bugs. Kill me now. And I don't know how many of you have dealt with bed bugs before, but they suck. (no pun intended this time) They are damnable little creatures and I hate them.  We live in a two story house. You know how many bed bugs can fit in a two story house? Hundreds of thousands and so we practically had to pack up our lives and machine dry it on high for 20 minutes and then double bag them in hefty bags. Worst experience of my life. And then after all of that. the exterminator comes and sprays everything you hold dear with toxic fumes.  And then, you can't even live there for like two weeks. So we are sleeping on the ground in another companionship apartment for two weeks while they do multiple treatments to our humble home. Shoot some prayers up for us and our backs. I can feel the scoliosis coming in hot.
But in all reality it is kind of fun. We are just roaming around living out an adventure and its been good.
Not much happened this week. Definitely not as eventful as the ones in the recent past.  To add to my list of troubles ;) my shoulder bag broke this week. So I bought a new one. And it is half camera bag half shoulder bag so life is good. I'm happy."
 Oh, but the story doesn't end there.  Every good nightmare has to have a sequel and so here comes "Bed Bugs 2, The return of the bite":
"Alright. Let me give you an update. You know how a couple weeks ago I was talking about how we got bed bugs at our home and we had to practically put or entire lives in the dryer on high for 20 minutes and then move and live out of a suitcase at another set of elders apartment for an entire transfer? well, today I am here to tell you that it was all in vain.
In our vacancy from our home, it got fumigated twice and just bathed in poisons that can apparently kill small children (and then without knowing that I went home to do some laundry real quick and practically touched everything in the house haha, I'm gonna die or have life midlife birth defects or something).
BUT IT WAS ALL IN VAIN. We went back this week. Because we got the go ahead and sure enough, I have a wonderful nights rest in one of the best mattresses in the mission no doubt. Only to wake up so covered in bites that I thought I was becoming a leper. haha, no it was not that bad but I straight up had like 20+ bites. Soooooo, we are back to living out of our suitcases for the next while. Wish me luck."
Moving on to probably the most profound experience that Brendan has had on his mission so far.  Brendan, his companion and the Bishop of the Ward recently visited a family who are new members of the Church.  The family had just received news of a tragic event.  Brendan sat in the living room of this family while they told the missionaries what had happened.  I won't go into any of the details here but I will share with you Brendan's reaction.
"We sit back and complain about so much. Really, we think we have it so hard some times, and some of us do. But we have no excuse. None. And that thought alone was enough. I balled. Like a child. Right in their living room. Bishop, Elder Dean and I. All three of us. I won't go into detail about the rest. But what I will share is that not even moments later did I hear a mother and a father, bear powerful testimony to us and their children, that this gospel brings hope and it brings peace. And that it is real because they have felt it. Through the hardest time of their lives, they have felt it. They have felt a burden lifted and strength added as they were yoked to the Savior. It was powerful, I hope that you can feel the power of it. Because its true. All of it. And the proof of that is in the details.

I hear people often on my mission ask me "why?" "Why if there really is a God in Heaven, does he allow such terrible things to happen to those who don't deserve it?" or "Why if God supposedly loves us, does he let hurt and anguish happen daily?" Do I have an answer to that question? No. No I don't, but I do know one thing and that is that this past Friday evening, I sat in the humble living room of a humble family and felt the Spirit of God, the Comforter, do exactly that. Bring comfort to those who were desperately in need of it. And for what ever reason, I, am almost 20 something kid, born and raised in comfort and excess, was given the opportunity to share with them the one and only thing that could bring lasting peace to their hearts.

So please, do us all a favor. The next time you feel to say "why me?" or "why this?" or even "why now?". Stop it. Just Stop it. Instead of thinking inwardly, stop, pause for a brief moment and think of someone you know who needs a burden lifted, a tear wiped or simply a kind word. And do everything that you can to do exactly that.

I had no intentions of writing such a letter when I started this. But I feel that I needed to hear it myself and that hopefully you did as well. I love you, but more importantly Our Heavenly Father does. If you don't know it, stop, pause for a brief moment, and practice what was a fore mentioned. You may not "know" it, but I promise you, you will feel it."
These are the kinds of experiences that missionaries have.  Maybe not every day but they happen.  And to illustrate another type of miracle, Brendan told us about how he went on splits with a former mission companion.  Both of them were new to the area of Winnipeg where they were, but had a desire to find a family to teach.  After several hours of knocking on doors in the rain, they found a house with a minivan in the driveway (always a good sign for a missionary).  When they knocked on the door, a young mother answered and invited them in as if she was expected the missionaries to show up.  Well, one thing lead to another and prayers were answered.  Wonderful experiences happen.  Hard experiences happen too.  But in the end, it is the wonderful ones that are always remembered.

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