Still in Nanaimo for now

Still in Nanaimo for now
Elder Samis on the ferry

Monday, 24 February 2014

February 24, 2014 - Nanaimo South

Hello again everyone and welcome to another weekly update. Good to hear that all my pictures went through! I was worried that I would need to resend everything the next week. The weather was great at the start of the week but it began snowing Saturday night. It hasn't quit since then and the city of Nanaimo is getting a small taste of what it's like back home! I never thought I would see so much white stuff on the island. It got so bad that the bishop ended up having to cancel church yesterday. We also got our car stuck in the snow facing uphill. Since the snow is wet and not dry it's really easy to get stuck in. We ended up having to leave the car behind and had the zone leaders pick us up. Not sure how soon it will be before we can get it out and we may have to tract on foot in some pretty gross weather! :(

 On Monday morning my companion and I got a pretty nasty wake up call before the sun rose. Some noisy neighbors were drinking, blasting music and yelling. The noise didn't stop until after a few hours. The Landlord kicked them off the property later that day after several complaints were filed by the other residence.  

On Wednesday we went to a zone conference at the stake center where we heard from Elder Christianson, a member of the 70 who was born in BC. He's truly an amazing speaker and he said something that I will never forget; "Everything that is on this earth, at this time, has been prepared for you!"   
We've met some pretty solid investigators this week. On Thursday we met one of them tracting Gallipse Road, a street just behind our apartment complex and one of the most ghetto places in the city. When we knocked on the 2nd door, we met Clara, a young First Nations woman who lived with her parents, son, and boyfriend all in a small house. When we told her who we were she invited us to come in immediately. It was my first time being in the house of an investigator and it was incredible how strong I felt the spirit when I walked into the the door of this humble home. The family had pictures of the savior all over the place! Elder Groeneveld and I taught her a little about the Book of Mormon and the plan of salvation. She took great interest and agreed to be baptized on March 22! 

On Sunday night as we tracted through the slushy streets near downtown, we came across a young man named Shrey who introduced us to a couple of girls he lived with named Divyath and Sherina. All 3 of them were university students who recently immigrated from India. When Sherina found out that we were missionaries, she told us that she had been baptized in India before coming to Canada and was active in the church. The problem was she didn't even know that there was a church building in Nanaimo! Divyhath and Shrey meanwhile seem pretty keen on learning more about the gospel.  

I never truly knew the great joy that missionary work would bring until meeting new people within their homes. My companion and I are looking forward to teaching more. The weather may be bad here, but we are ready to keep going about to hasten God's work. It sounds like I'll be going on exchanges with the Duncan Elders on Tuesday. I love you all and hope things are well at home. I keep praying for all of you, especially Grandma Samis and I hope she gets well soon. 

Elder Maclean Samis             


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Photos taken at the MTC

February 17,2014 - Nanaimo South, British Columbia (first area)

Hello again! I don't have a lot of time today so this email may be short. This week has been an interesting one. The rain has poured and my companion and I are finally settled in our new apartment! It's a nice one, in fact probably the nicest building for a few blocks. We are in a poorer area of town where quite a bit of crime has taken place. Moving in wasn't easy, we had to collect a bunch of items from the ward members including some very heavy furniture! As for meal appointments? Well we no longer get those nor have I ever had one. The mission president has this idea that "consecrated finding time" is the best time (or during meal time) to find investigators since it's the time of day when most people are home. We eat dinner at our apartments at 4:00pm and then go out at from 5:00-8:00pm.

The weather hasn't been kind to us, in fact it snowed yesterday when we went tracting! We got lucky. The Elders in Duncan were hammered by so much wind and rain that it got to the point where they had to go back to their apartment to change into a new set of clothes! 

On Tuesday and Thursday we went street contacting downtown. Though I'm getting more and more comfortable with going door to door, I'm still finding it hard to talk as much as my trainer, especially when talking to people on the street. Elder Groneveld is a talker and it seems that most of the people we have conversations with involve me not saying very much. Even when I do, it usually makes me unintentionally interrupt someone and then I feel bad. :P This is probably because I'm still "green." It's just not natural for me yet. Remember all those lessons we got from last week? Well all of them have fallen through and we still haven't been able to teach any investigators yet. They say the Canada, Vancouver Mission was not too long ago among the hardest missions in the world. Most of the people in British Columbia are not bad, but a lot of them are just not really interested in hearing the gospel. We have found a few more people to teach this week and it's still VERY early in the mission for me so I guess we just have to press forward and stay positive!

Yesterday after church, we met with an inactive member who is interested in coming back to church. His name is Brother B. He was born in California and used to be a marine. An older fellow with a beaming attitude, Brother B was thrilled that we called him to set up and meet him. We didn't really teach him much but we had a great visit with him and we gave him a blessing before we left. He really is an amazing guy and it was great listening to him say that he wanted to start coming to church again! Though his wife is inactive and hasn't been to interested in the church in previous years, Brother B gave us a call after our meeting with him and told us that she was interested in meeting with the two of us again!

Despite the difficulties, my attitude has been positive. It's just amazing how well the Lord helps his servants. The fact that someone like me is serving a mission is an absolute miracle. I love you all and miss you and I look forward to hearing from you next week. I'll be sure to keep those photos coming!

Until next time,
Elder Maclean Samis

Monday, 10 February 2014

February 10, 2014 Nanaimo South (first area)

Hello everyone!

This is Elder Samis reporting from Nanaimo, British Columbia, my first ever mission area!  Being here on Vancouver Island still doesn't seem real. It's hard to believe I was leaving for the MTC just a couple of weeks ago. Oh how time goes fast!  Anyway, departing from the MTC was tough. We had to wake up at 5:00am to get to the airport, eat some cereal in the cafeteria, and carry our luggage to a bus that took us to a train station. The train took us from Provo to the Salt Lake City International Airport where we waited until 11:00am. The plane was tiny and cramped but many of the missionaries were seated close to each other so at least we were in each other's company. We socialized until we arrived at the airport at 1:30pm MST. I heard there were a lot of Asians is BC, but when I stepped inside the Vancouver Airport, I thought I had gotten off in Beijing. There were Asians everywhere!

 Anyway after we waited a couple hours for the American missionaries to clear their passports/Visas. We met President Tilleman and a few of the senior companion missionaries. Then we took our luggage out to a small trailer and were transported to the mission home in Richmond. The first thing I remember about that day was oddly enough how cold it was! I guess the damp cold from being so close to the ocean makes 0 feel like -10!       

 President and Sister Tilleman addressed us in a classroom when we got there. President Tilleman wasn't really what I expected him to be like, but for all the right reasons. He may be caring and very likable but when he explains doctrine or bares his testimony he turns into Jeffery R Holland. He is big on rules and exact obedience to the white handbook. I will be shocked if he doesn't become at least a member of the seventy one day! After eating dinner at the mission home, our mission zones went to stay at a hotel with some pretty fancy rooms. I was assigned with an Elder from Toronto named Elder Lou who was from Hong Kong originally, but moved to Toronto at a young age.

 The following morning was fairly unpleasant. We slept in too late and we were in such a rush to leave the hotel that we missed breakfast downstairs to get to the transfer meeting. All the greenies piled into the mission home chapel and waited nervously to find out who our companions were. When it was announced that I was serving in Nanaimo South and on Vancouver Island, I felt like leaping for joy! I was also assigned to work with Elder Groeneveld, who is form Spruce Grove, Alberta of all places! Couldn't have been placed in a better scenario and no doubt it was inspired by God! What's even cooler is the fact that that the two of us are going to be the first ever missionaries to open Ladysmith, a town of around 10,000 20 minutes south of the city.

My MTC companion, Elder Bonfield was transferred to Prince George. Once all the announcements were over we filed into the gym to eat sandwiches for lunch. I also became reacquainted with Elder Rolfson who was part of my EFY group and is from Edmonton as well! He and his companion are serving in Duncan. The four of us and 12 other missionaries serving on the Island drove to a seaport and took a ferry ride from Richman to the Island later during the night. Because our new apartments weren't quite ready yet, all 16 of us were forced to sleep inside a spacious apartment suite on Nichol street, a sketchy area of town. I felt sorry for the poor people trying to sleep while all 16 of us marched up the stairs. They must of been freaked out! The 14 other Elders left the room the next morning leaving us behind for a few days until we could get the furniture for our newer apartment downtown. It's smaller, but much nicer. The building is only a couple years old! Our zone leaders have been staying in the same suite as ours. A couple of veterans, Elder Glover and Elder Duersch are both into their final months on their missions. The two of us have learned a lot from being with them and it's easy to get into deep doctrinal conversations with them. It's amazing to see how much someone can learn while being on a mission! 
My companion and I have been getting along well and we've both made great strides to keep the mission rules the best we can. Both of us have been planning like crazy trying to figure out how to navigate the area. The people here in Nanaimo are generally friendly and lovable. We have a few appointments scheduled for the coming week! Those who have said "no" to our message have been polite. Attending church on Sunday was great! I love the ward here! I did get really worried tracting on Thursday for the first time. In fact, I felt so nervous I began to feel sick to my stomach and a bit dazed. We had to stop and sit in the car for several minutes so I could take a deep breath before walking up to the first door. I was fine after the first block and I've been doing alright ever since then. Food has been scarce. On Friday night the two of us tried to make some Kraft Dinner. When we discovered that the cheese powder was a brownish-orange colour and had a funny tatse, we checked the best before date for a pretty nasty surprise. The boxes had expired Dec 31 2009 and had apparently been sitting in the kitchen cupboard ever since.   The weather hasn't been great since I arrived on the island. It snowed a lot this morning and it's been rainy the rest of the day with a high of plus 3.  

The first week of my mission has been a challenging one. My testimony of the gospel has continued to grow in the field as I've witnessed so many of the little miracles that occur here each and every day. I love you all and I love hearing from you. I hate how I haven't had the time to send the photos from the MTC yet but I'll try to get them up as soon as I can. I'm working on it, by for now!



Elder Maclean Samis  

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Just got off the phone with Elder Samis!   It was so good to talk to him, especially after missing his phone call this morning from the Salt Lake City airport.  Thankfully, he had a chance to call home from the Vancouver airport while waiting for the American elders and sisters to clear customs  (sadly, the rest of the family wasn't home to talk to him).  He is really exited to be in Vancouver.  He said surprisingly he isn't even nervous, just "stoked" to be in the mission field.  They will be eating dinner with President and Sister Tilleman this evening and then staying in a hotel for the night.  He is really happy to get to spend a little more time with his MTC district before they get separated.  It sounds like they have all grown really close and are really going to miss each other.  Apparently, his MTC companion, Elder B, is an actual chef and had a lot to say about cafeteria food :)  I'm thinking Elder B's companions in the mission field will eat really well, even when they don't have dinner appointments.  Maclean said he would love to have him as a companion again (we know that is highly unlikely). 

He is planning on sending some pictures next p-day, and I am really looking forward to getting them!  I am relieved that he has taken some.  I was starting to wonder since he hadn't sent us any.  Can't wait to find out how the next several days go for him.  Please keep him in your prayers.  Although he is excited to be there I am sure it will be a big adjustment!


Monday, 3 February 2014

February 3, 2014 - Week 2 in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah

Hello everyone! It's been great hearing from you over the past week! It's hard to believe that I've been in the mtc for almost a couple weeks now. I'm pretty sure I forgot to mention my thoughts on the food here so I will address it now before I forget again. :P It's been okay for the most part. Unfortunately breakfast is almost always disappointing and the infamous "efy" powdered eggs are often served. Lunches and dinners are usually good. There's also a lot to drink here. It's weird seeing caffiene free coke fountains all over the place in the cafe!

Anyway being here during the course of the week has had it's ups and downs. I have so much stuff in my dorm room that it's gotten really hard to stay organized and follow the schedule. At least I finally know my way around the campus now. It's been quite easy relating to the other members of my district since we are all going to the same mission! We also have seen and felt each others frustrations while learning to teach the gospel to others. Our lessons with investigators (both real and role playing with teachers) have been very interesting to say the least. I've seen missionaries from both the Elder and Sister districts of my zone come out of lessons crying after teaching investigators when things don't go well. One Elder in particular in our district has had a really rough time. On late Wednesday night he got a letter from his family that informed him that his best friend had been killed in a car accident back home. My companion and I gave him a blessing to overcome his grief for his loss and by the next evening he was the same fun loving missionary he's always been! Its been amazing watching him overcome such a massive obstacle in such a short period of time.

Our zone went to our Sunday devotional and watched the Joseph Smith film they used to show in Salt Lake. Never before then had I ever had a stronger testimony that he was truly a prophet of God. I also realized that if a man like Joseph Smith could suffer through so much, I could successfully serve a mission. I've learned so much about teaching the gospel. I'll miss the mtc and the friends I've made here but I look forward to going to BC in a couple days to serve the Lord! I love you all so much and I thank you for the letters/emails you send me. I'm praying hard for you all and thank you for praying for me! :)

Until next Monday,

Elder Maclean Samis

Saturday, 1 February 2014

January 27, 2014 - Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah

Greetings everyone! This is Elder Samis reporting from the MTC in Provo, Utah. First off I would like to thank you for the letters and that package of goodies in the mail! First off where do begin? So much has happened during my first week here that I won't even try and write every single experience I've had here! I suppose I should tell you that everything at the airport went smoothly, although the moment the airplane left the ground from Edmonton, the feeling hit me that I would not be returning home for a couple of years. It was a really hard idea for me to swallow but I was fine after a few moments. When my flight landed in Minneapolis, I discovered that the terminal I had to wait for going to Salt Lake was fairly close to the one I got off! What a blessing that was! I didn't even have to look at my map. On my way to the plane's bathroom just before the plane took off, I ran into a man who asked me "What's the word?" I replied to him "The gospel has been restored." "Good to here!" he said. Then I told him I was going to Salt Lake to train in the MTC. He wasn't a member, but he recognized who I was based on my clothing. He didn't seem to interested in learning about the church but he wished me luck and went back to take his seat. The woman sitting beside me asked me what I was traveling for. When I told her, she explained that she was a member and that she had a cousin serving in Seattle. When I told her that I was going to Vancouver and was from Edmonton she found that funny that I was going so close to home.

Once I got to the Salt Lake International, I got my luggage and waited for my shuttle. When I got on there was just one other missionary. His name was Elder Shaver and as it turns out he's from Vancouver, British Columbia! He told me he was going to Paris, France and when I told him where I was going he was very surprised! When the 2 of us arrived at the MTC we were instructed that we had to room together in a guest room for a night. The room was tiny with a couple sets of bunk beds and a bathroom smaller then my own back home. Needless to say, I got next to no sleep and the 2 of us got out of bed the next morning tired and sore. I barely ate anything for breakfast from feeling so anxious. The food seems good but I didn't eat much until the day after. I met the rest of the district after breakfast. My companion, Elder Bonfield is from Niagra Falls, Ontario. If you can believe it, 4 out of the 6 missionaries in my MTC district are Canadians! I've loved working with him so far. He's got a great sense of humor and he's helped me a lot since I've arrived here. My teachers have been awesome! Brother Payne and Brother Beuhit have taught us so much about teaching the gospel. The greatest experience so far has been attending last night's Sunday devotional. The first half was hosted by President Richard B Allan. He's a spiritual giant and his speaking skills rival that of General Authorities. Shortly after we watched a talk that Elder Bednar gave in the MTC a few years ago. It was on how to become more Christlike by putting off the natural man. It was the greatest talk I've ever heard. I also had the time to go to the Provo Temple earlier today.

I've been greatly challenged here at the MTC but it has also been an experience quite unlike any other. The days feel incredibly long, yet I haven't been had the time to write in my journal! As I've role played with my fellow zone members and teachers I feel like I'm learning how to become a great missionary. My schedule has been tight and getting ready in the morning is a great challenge but it's been worth it. I would love to tell you as much as I possibly can but I just don't have the time. In fact THERE'S NO TIME FOR ANYTHING! I love all of you and I miss you dearly! Thanks again for the letters. Until next Monday,

Elder Maclean Samis