Brendan finished up his time as an Assistant to the President almost two months ago. He said that it was really strange knowing that he was going to be transferred out of the office and at the same time helping to plan out the transfers in the mission. In a way he was helping to plan his own transfer. So as part of the transfer planning, his mission president asked Brendan where he would like to go and what he would like to be doing for his final few months as a missionary. Brendan said that he would like to train a new missionary, be a district leader and stay in Winnipeg. As things go, Brendan's mission president was fine with all three requests. So Brendan ended up as a district leader in Winnipeg, training a brand new missionary and serving in the YSA Ward (again). If you remember, Brendan was serving in the YSA Ward just before he was called to be an AP in the office. Apparently he loved that Ward so much, that he was assigned back to that Ward to finish out is mission. Another great thing is that he has the opportunity to train new missionaries. He was assigned a brand new missionary to train and they both have hit it off very well.
Each week Brendan writes home about how much work they are accomplishing in their area and just how well things are going. Brendan also said that he will really miss serving in the Waverley Ward and working with deaf members there. Brendan wasn't called to be an ASL missionary but during his time in Winnipeg and in the Waverley Ward, Brendan has learned sign language and has been able to help out significantly with these members of the Ward. In fact Brendan was asked to translate both sessions of their Stake Conference for the deaf members in the Stake. He said that it was something like 4 hours of sign language. Then he said that he went home and ended up dreaming in ASL that night.
Here is a rather interesting story about sign language and how it works in combination with giving blessings. Not too long ago, a deaf member of Brendan's Ward was rather seriously injured in a car accident. Brendan has asked that we keep this member in our prayers. Anyway, Brendan had the opportunity to go to the hospital to give this Ward member a blessing. Here is how Brendan described it:
"Immediate panic. Honestly. But luckily and miraculously, after breaking his neck in two places, he was in stable condition and had full movement of his legs and arms. And we raced to the hospital and had the opportunity to give him a blessing in ASL. It was a very powerful experience.With Sign Language blessings, you place your hands on their head, then the person acting as voice, pulls their hands off, and stands in front of the person and gives the blessing in ASL, then when he finishes, he puts his hands back on the persons head to finish.But it was honestly an extremely powerful moment and I was more grateful than ever that the spirit speaks all languages and has no boundaries."
Over the last couple of months Brendan and his companion have enjoyed the blessing of being able to teach people and see them progress all the way to baptism. One of those baptisms happened during general conference weekend. In fact it happened right between the Sunday conference sessions. What makes that even better is that it wasn't just a single baptism but a whole family that was baptized. It isn't very often that a whole family decides to be baptized let alone on conference weekend. Brendan was really excited about this baptism and I am sure that it will be a highlight that he will remember for a long time. Another baptism also just happened recently. It was an investigator that Brendan had met several months ago and had lost track of for a while. But the Lord placed this investigator back in the missionary's path so that they could continue to teach them. One interesting story about the actual baptismal ordinance was that it was done in Chinese rather than English. This required that their be two witnesses that could understand the baptismal prayer in Chinese so that they could verify that it was said correctly. What makes that a little more difficult is the fact that the witnesses also have to be Melchizedek priesthood holders. Brendan and his companion had lined up two Chinese speaking witnesses until one had to cancel just a few days before the service. So just as Brendan did with learning sign language when he saw a need, he also memorized the baptismal prayer in Chinese so that he could act as one of the witnesses. Well, everything turned out well, the baptism went on as scheduled and Brendan can now speak Chinese. Well, as long as what he needs to say in Chinese is the baptismal prayer.
So a bit of a funny story. Well, knowing Brendan and imagining him telling the story, actually makes it funnier than it will probably sound here. But I will do my best to retell the story. So recently the Winnipeg Zone was split into the Winnipeg North and the Winnipeg South zones. Also, in Canada they celebrate Thanksgiving about a month earlier that we do here the United States. So what do these two things have to do with each other? The annual Turkey Bowl of course. Thanksgiving requires that you play in a Turkey Bowl and a rivalry of north and south naturally means that this bowl with be between the Winnipeg North vs. Winnipeg South zones. Then there comes the references from Brendan about how the south will rise again and an interesting graphic of a maple leaf overlaid on a southern flag (I would post the graphic here but you know how politically incorrect that might appear to some people). Anyway, if taken in the right spirit, it is actually pretty funny. Here is Brendan's short descriptions of the big game and Canadian Thanksgiving in general.
"So Canada actually understands when harvest season is and so their Thanksgiving actually makes sense. So today is truly Canadian Thanksgiving. And we have been getting meal appointments out the shoot. Its amazing! Turkey and gravy is always a good deal. Always. And then when the people make a whole turkey and they give you all the left overs and you just eat turkey sandwiches for like 10 days after. That is what dreams are made of.By the way, if you don't know what Tim Hortons is, look it up. It is basically the Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts of Canada.
But we had a good turkey bowl today as tradition goes. It was the Winnipeg North Zone vs. The Winnipeg South Zone, and lets just say that the South will rise again! Because we dropped some hammers. But just like all Canadian sports, it ended in a draw and we all shook hands after and told each other we were sorry. And then we went to Tim Hortons. Canada."
So, as I have tried to do in my last several posts, here is a random thought from Brendan:
"The times they are a changin... Well, at least the weather is. Its getting a bit nippy out. I'm not a fan. I have forgotten what it is like and I'm lusting for some good summer street contacting. But its ok, I do sin in my wish.
But as a side note, I'm so down for sweaters. My mission has really been a two year sweater hoard. And I'm so ok with that. The sweater life chose me. I have more cardigans than Mr. Rogers. And that's a fact. Been wearing one on the daily for the last three weeks. Haven't missed a day since."