Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Last Call...

I know it has only been a couple of weeks since I wrote on this blog about Brendan.  But hey, there were a few times that I went almost two months without writing, so I figure I am just making up for that.  But on to the real news.  We talked to Brendan on his last Christmas call from his mission, just a couple of days ago.  In relation to that, here is kind of a funny story that is sort of about Brendan.  So with Christmas on Sunday this year, we were sitting in one of the pews at church when another family, who also have a missionary serving at this time, came and sat down behind us.  The father of this other missionary is kind of a jokester so he said to Brendan's Mom, "Hey I hear that with this weather, the missionaries from Canada won't be able to call home today".  Brendan's Mom replies, "That's OK, we will just talk to him next week when he gets home.".  I guess that joke kind of backfired, Ha-Ha.

OK, so on to the real missionary news.  Yes, this Christmas was Brendan's last call home.  We were able to talk to him for over an hour and this time the connection was really good (at least from our end).  When we are talking about calling home, we are really talking about skyping home.  That way we not only get to talk to him, we also get to see him as well.  Brendan's sister and her husband were not physically with us, so we skyped them in also.  It was a wonderful thing.  Mostly talking and joking and all of the normal Nicholes family banter.  If you have read any of the missionary blogs from our other kids, they all have a really great sense of humor, so when I say that there was mostly talking and joking, there really was a lot of laughing and humor going on.  We talked about how things have changed around the house while he has been gone. The snow which made for a White Christmas.  What we were doing for Christmas as well as what Brendan was doing that day.  When his homecoming talk would be and what the plans were for the night he gets home.  It was really a lot of fun and with Brendan's last call, that closes out our missionary era as parents, since Brendan is our last.  The next time we have a missionary skype home, it will probably be us calling our kids from somewhere in the world, some day.

So here are a couple of funny stories.  If you haven't realized this before, Canada is a very diverse country.  If you thought that the U.S. was a melting pot for world cultures, you have never been to Canada.  Most of the people that Brendan teaches are not originally from Canada.  Many are from various African countries, others from the Philippines and a lot from Asian countries.  So Brendan has really developed a taste for Asian food.  Some of the Asian members in the area take them out to real Asian restaurants for dinner.  I mean, restaurants where if you don't speak the language, you don't order your food and that has been the case for Brendan and his companion.  What this means is that the Asian people who are hosting you, end up ordering for you as well.  Here is the problem with that, according to Brendan:

"When you let the Chinese people order, you get a whole new world of food options you never thought existed. This week alone I have eaten everything from pig intestine to coagulated pig blood. With a little raw everything in between. But I am not complaining. To tell you the truth, I loved the blood and the intestine was not bad. Also we all ate peppers that came straight from you know where! ha-ha, I took it like a champ the best I could. But my companion and our member friend were flowing out their noses and eyes. Too fun. Anyways, I guess I'm Chinese now. "

The next story we will only be able to set up for now.  Only because it hasn't happened yet, but will.  For Brendan's final P-day in the mission, he and a few other missionaries got permission to enter a basketball tournament.  The last thing that Brendan told us about this tournament was that it was going to be his greatest P-day ever and that if he emailed home on his last P-day, it would be a picture of a bunch of tall white guys standing on the podium in their white shirts, ties and name tags.  We will get the rest of this story next week after Brendan gets home.  Or you can ask him about it the next time you see him.

 Brendan's companion after eating some very spicey chinese food.

Christmas is coming

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The time is short and going fast

There are hazards to being a missionary.  Things like deciding that you should help clean up some trash that somebody left behind, which requires you to scale a wall.  That wouldn't be so bad under normal circumstances except for a missionary who is usually dressed in a white shirt and tie with dress shoes.  Not the best climbing gear.  In Brendan's case he ended up slipping off the wall and hurting his foot.  He thought it might be broken, be since we haven't heard anything more about it in the last few weeks, we are just assuming the best.  Then after hurting his foot, he writes home and tells us about how he has strict instructions to stay off it for a few days.  But then the next sentence goes like this:

"Still hurts and playing floor hockey on it was not the best idea. But when you are a true Canadian and some one hands you a stick are you just going to let it pass? No.  No you're not."
To top that off, his next email a week later starts out like this, "I don't have a lot of time this week. Plus my hands hurt from playing too much four square.".  Good thing he has the Lord's work to do.  Otherwise he would just be a crumpled up mess from all of his P-Day activities.

Speaking of the Lord's work, Brendan is really working hard towards finishing his mission up well.  Each week he is telling us about the people that he and his companion are teaching and how they have set baptismal dates for them.  Just a week or so ago, they were able to follow through with one of the baptismal dates that they had set and they are expecting another one right after Christmas.  In fact there is a great story about the baptism that is coming up.  Originally the baptism was set for January 10th and unfortunately for Brendan, he would be home by then and obviously unable to attend.  Then just a few days ago Brendan got a call asking if the baptismal date could be moved up.  Brendan told us just how happy and excited he was to be able to literally finish off his mission with a baptism.  Not only that, but to also know that their investigator was willing to make a change in their life and to move forward.  What a great blessing.

Winnipeg is getting a new temple.  That announcement was made during General Conference a year or so ago.  The big new lately is that now they have a date for the ground breaking and that date is December 3rd.  In an email that Brendan sent, he told us about how he and his companion were literally the only two missionaries in the whole Winnipeg mission that were invited to attend the ground breaking ceremony.  The reason why is because there were a few of the members in the area who are deaf and Brendan, now that he has learned sign language, was invited to be one of the translators.  

So December 3rd came and Brendan told us about how the ground breaking went.  First of all, there was a bit of a problem with the visa papers of the General Authority who was supposed to be there to preside over the ceremony.  So instead, the Executive Director of the Temple Department had to pinch hit.  But other than that, it all went as planned.  As it turned out, Brendan didn't quite have the sign language translating responsibilities that he thought he was going to have, but he still got to do some translating during the meeting.  His picture even made it in the Mormon Newsroom.  

He wasn't actually signing at the time the picture was taken, but hey, he is ready to move those hands as soon as he is needed.  Then there were the golden shovels.  You can actually see them sitting up against the wall at the front of the chapel.  But Brendan was able to get his hands on them for at least as long as it took to take this picture.

The weather in Winnipeg is cold, to say the least.  Brendan arrived in Winnipeg almost two years ago, in the cold and he will leave in the cold as well.  In his latest email, he described the current winter cold front like this:

"Its finally getting cold out here. Like it has been in the -30's pretty much all week with the wind chill. And it feels like it is eating away your skin. Its crazy. You don't know cold until you have felt Winnipeg cold. Blows my mind everyday that people live here... and they like it. haha, jk jk. I love it here with all my heart!! But jeez man, I mean there are warmer places out there. But GO JETS GO! haha, Its funny to watch all the first year immigrants and see them look like they are walking around in the arctic. Honestly. Its great. I will take some pics. They look like the Michelin Man"

When Brendan gets home in just a few weeks, he is going to feel like he just took a trip to somewhere tropical.

This is the wall he fell off of.