Still in Nanaimo for now

Still in Nanaimo for now
Elder Samis on the ferry

Monday, 29 December 2014

December 29, 2014 - Area 2: Clearbrook (Abbotsford)

Green Christmas

Good tidings! This is Elder Samis reporting from Clearbrook. There is much to talk about with Christmas being last week and the new year is well on the way. Not much happened worthy to report leading up to Christmas Eve except that I got my glasses taken care of. We also dropped off a bunch of gifts for the ward's secret Santa project. 

On Christmas Eve we visited Tim and Sylvia. We played with Tim's old electric race car circuit for a while. At the end of our visit, they gave us each a really nice basket filled with a bunch of treats of all sorts. If there's one thing we got a lot of for Christmas this year, it was chocolate! For dinner we went to Sister Lougheed's place for a turkey dinner in Aldergrove. She brought a non-member friend named Bill whose been to church a few times, but says that he doesn't have any interest in learning from us. After that we went to the Hara's place where we hung out with a bunch of ward members and played Scrabble.

As soon as we woke up on the 25th we said our prayers and opened our presents. We studied and went to the Cervo's for a crape breakfast at 10:00am. Then came the moment most missionaries long for, making a Skype call home! :) I used the Cervo's computer to do it. What a cool feeling it was talking to my parents and my siblings face to face for the first time in 11 months! There's not much else quite like it! It didn't make me homesick at all even though it was a little hard to hang up once my time expired. After Elder Lamb finished up his call, we went with Bishop Vidal to contact a referral he gave us. We told him what our purpose was as missionaries. His name is Dan. He has a strong belief in Christ and he's willing to listen and keep an opened mind and learn even though he says that he won't become Mormon. After we made our calls we saw the Noftle family. For a gift they gave the 2 of us matching ties. From there we went to the Olson's for Christmas dinner at 3:00pm. Because Sister Olson is actually Bro. Noftle's sister, there was a big gathering of Noftles from Chilliwack and Abbotsford, all of them members of the church. Next up we went to the Kozak's place. We met Sister Kozak's father and younger sister there and we played the board game "Catan" in which I lost badly. It was my first time playing and there's no such thing as beginners luck when it comes to Elder Samis. To finish off what was a great Christmas Day, we visited Bishop Vidal at his home. He had the day off work so he wanted to come out with us to stop by some less active members the next day.

On boxing day we did just that! We saw several less active families and members. Our bishop is just so awesome! President Burt called us in the afternoon and said that he wanted to come over from Richmond to have an interview with everyone in the district. He took us out to eat at Wendy's first! Speaking to President Burt is a lot like talking to your father. He's very loving and its easy to talk to him.

Saturday was great! We contacted a potential the YSA sisters gave us named Gary. He's native and had somehow lost part of his right arm. We taught him the restoration and he's really intrigued by everything. He's Catholic and doesn't really see too many differences between them and the Mormons' beliefs. He's having some struggles but wants to change. A few hours after the lesson, we got invited to come to a pizza dinner party for the 12-14 year old youth at the Taylor's place and he suggested that we bring Devin and Nolan to it. We stopped by about an hour before the start to invite both of them but Devin wasn't up for it. We answered some questions Nolan had from things he learned at church and had a mini lesson before the party. The party itself was a lot of fun. We played board games and Nolan really seemed to have a good time!

Sadly, Nolan couldn't make it out to church on Sunday but Gary and Raj did. Gary loved church and the lesson that the sister missionaries taught in Sunday school. He said that he for sure wanted to come next week. Well, as I have named these events, I truly have been graetful for them, especially at this time of the year. It was hinted during our interviews with our president that there was a chance that Elder Lamb and I will be leaving the area after this transfer. I have loved being here but I almost feel like perhaps a change would be best... If so I'll sure miss the ward. Without their help, things just wouldn't be the same. Clearbrook has been a tougher proselyting area then Nanaimo, but there is still much to be grateful for. May you all enjoy the rest of the Christmas season and achieve your new years resolutions! Cheers to 2015!

Elder Maclean Samis          

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

December 22, 2014 - Area 2: Clearbrook (Abbotsford)

Winter Solstice Miracles

Today is my 11th month mark. Never would have dreamed that I would be able to make it this far! Well we have some good news in our teaching pool. These miracles happened over the last couple of days. The first half of the week before seemed to be quite slow. Our finding efforts seemed to not be very productive. 

Thursday evening, we helped set up Christmas lights with the sisters and a couple other members of the ward for the ward party. First we had to test a lot of the strings because many of them were the kind that would go out altogether if only one went out. We had to use a ladder to hang them on these small hooks that were nailed to the wall of the gym. It took quite a while. 

Friday was really fun! We went to the Mays out in Aldergrove. Elder Lamb and I didn't have a Christmas tree so Brother May suggested that we could make one in his shed. We took some scraps of wood and stapled them together. The result was perhaps the trashiest artificial tree ever made. It was awesome! The same evening was the Christmas party in which Elder Lamb and I sang a parody of the song "We're Gonna Be Friends" by Jack White about missionary life around Christmas time. We wrote it around a week before we actually performed it. Even though neither of us can sing that well, it was great to just have a little fun. I didn't even feel too nervous about it.

On Saturday morning, we had a brunch appointment after our studies with the Bumby family who fed us enough Bacon, eggs, and hash browns to last us well until late in the afternoon. It had to have been the best breakfast I've had in close to a year. After we were done eating we received a call from one of the assistants who told us that they wanted to split up and have one of them join us while the other would go with our zone leaders. That exchange was EXACTLY what Elder Lamb and I needed to give us some motivation so close to Christmas, a time when everyone is "too busy to meet". 

We went contacting at the high street mall as soon as we began the exchange which was busy with shoppers. Let me tell you, it rained hard. So hard, that there was security workers walking around giving away free umbrellas to everyone who needed one! The assistant that we went with was Elder Gomez who used be a Chinese speaking missionary before he moved to English work in Richmond. When he began speaking Chinese to a group of Asian college students at the mall, one of them blurted out "What the- this white kid can speak Chinese!" Like seemingly all assistants, Elder Gomez can keep talking to people and make it sound like he's talking to his best friend and not some random stranger on the street. It's a skill I covet sometimes...

After racking up a bunch of quality gospel conversations, we dropped by a few potential investigators and 3 of them are willing to start meeting with us again! Elder Gomez had heard all about Devin so he was keen on meeting with him. We went over to his place and taught him with Bishop Vidal that night. We met his step dad and his younger brother, Nolan. We asked Nolan if he wanted to join us. He told us that it was best he didn't but listened from the other room. Eventually, he came out and sat in.

After the lesson, he told us that when the YSA sisters found and taught Devin for the first time, they also taught Nolan. He told us that he lost interest but wanted to start learning over again because he wants to do what he can to change his lifestyle. Both him and Devin wanted to come to church but Devin sent us a text the next morning saying that his mother wanted to take them to visit their cousins and they wouldn't be able to come. (D'oh!) About a half hour later though, Devin sent us another text saying that Nolan wanted to go to church! This really surprised us, but he was able to go and it was a great experience for him. We thought he would feel uncomfortable but he interacted with the young men really well. It was great seeing how happy he was there. He's a really sociable guy while Devin is more quiet and shy. 

Our friend, Raj also came out to sacrament meeting but he was called into work and had to leave right after. He said he enjoyed it though and wanted to meet with us on Friday night. And thus ends the last week before Christmas. My family will be thrilled to know that the zone leaders called us this morning to inform us that President Burt has permitted the missionaries of the Canada, Vancouver Mission to SKYPE their families! :D Wha hoo! So stoked for that!

Also a very special thank you to all those who signed the card I received in the mail from the Kingsway YSA ward in Edmonton. You guys Rock! Christmas is gonna be a good one indeed! We'll be going to the Hara's for dinner on Christmas day and then to both sets of Noftle's, the Olson's, and the Kozak's for some fun on Christmas day. Have a wonderful Christmas and don't forget why we celebrate it. Talk to you face to face Thursday Samis family! :)     

Elder Maclean Samis    


Monday, 15 December 2014

December 15, 2014 - Area 2: Clearbrook (Abbotsford)

Some Holiday Cheer!

It's finally truly starting to feel like the holidays in Clearbrook. Monday night we went to Mandarin Garden Restaurant and ate with the seniors of the ward for their family home evening activity.   

Tuesday night was a night to remember! We went caroling with the youth at high street mall. We took some pictures by the big Christmas tree after.

We had a big zone meeting on Wednesday. We watched an old short film the church put out some years ago called "Missionary Christmas"  which was a really touching story about a new missionary and his companion who find a family while shopping for a Christmas tree. They teach them in their homes and all three of them get taught and baptized. 

We saw Devin on Thursday and we invited him to the big stake conference on Sunday in which Elder Bednar came as a special guest, unfortunately, he got sick and couldn't come.

Friday I went on an exchange with Elder Orr, who just became our zone leader this transfer. He's a remarkable missionary. He's a little more quiet and reserved, much like myself. He's from Salt Lake City. We taught Chris and we showed him and his brother Richard the "He Is the Gift" video. Richard really seems to liked it and he said that he would be happy to start learning! 

We exchanged back the next morning and ate dinner at a big gathering at Sister Jonasen's home. The Taylors and Noftles were there. We went to the adult fireside. Elder Bednar was at this one too and he spoke in a humorous way you don't see him use in general conference. He told the congregation about the time he was on a tv broadcast getting interviewed. He answered all the questions he claimed even a primary kid could answer. The message? That telling our friends about the gospel is easier then one would think. 

In the session the next morning he gave an analogy of how the Christmas tree symbolizes the exact same idea as the tree in Lehi's dream found in the Book of Mormon. The tree itself represents Christ and the white lights represent the love that he has for us. He also pointed out we are the only church with doctrine of eternal families. 

Before I close up this week's email, here's a photo of me with Santa Claus (aka  Bro. Newman)!   

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

December 8, 2014 - Area 2: Clearbrook (Abbotsford)

Referals in December

Its hard to say that it feels like Christmas. Today it's 12 degrees and the snow is nowhere to be seen. Tuesday night we went to Aldergrove to contact a referal from Sister Lougheed. His name is Raj and he's lives in the same multi-suite home as she does. Sister Lougheed told us that he is very interested in learning about the church. We didn't teach him much since we caught him right as he was about to leave for his night shift, but he seems like a really friendly guy. He told us that he moved from India about 6 months ago. His English is pretty good. We told Sister Lougheed about the visit and she told us that he came with her to the "Why I believe" fireside and that he really admires and respects the way we present ourselves. Those suits and ties sure are good for something!

The week started off pretty slow. We taught the Bernards on Tuesday and they basically dropped themselves. :( They just don't believe there's enough evidence to suggest that the book is true. Brother Kozak was there and the 3 of us bore testimony that it was true before leaving. There was no hard feelings between us. They're still an awesome family and we were really glad they let us teach them for a while. 

Wednesday we taught Devin at Briana's place. We read a chapter in the Book of Mormon since he's been having trouble understanding what he's reading. A couple days later he went back to Kelowna.

Friday I finally went on my first exchange in Mission, a town a few kilometers north-east of Abbotsford. I was placed with Elder Petillot (pronounced Ped-a-low) and we spent a good part of the day tracting on a chilly day. I also got to drive again! We ate dinner that night with a part-member family from Mongolia. They're a fairly young couple, and the husband is the member and his name is Okna, and the wife who is interested in being baptized is Ogma. We taught her the first lesson and set a date with her for Jan 3. The spirit was so strong in that lesson as Elder Petillot exercised his great teaching ability. It seemed to be a little harder for me to try and simplify since Ogma doesn't speak English that well. Her husband did some translating for her so things were just fine in the end. 

Meanwhile in Clearbrook, Elder Lamb and Elder Butler received word that Brother Newman's new roommate, Bill wanted to hear about the gospel! I wasn't at the lesson but it sounded like it went pretty good. They also took Brother Newman out to teach Chris! We didn't have much luck with our investigator attendance for sacrament meeting. Only Kurtis came and he's decided that he wants to take a break form being taught.     

Sunday we saw most of the Christmas devotional after church. We went to the Hara's for dinner towards the end and missed the last speaker. As Christmas gets closer, the miracles are starting to arrive. It will take some time before the people we're teaching are baptized but I know that God works in his own time and no matter what happens, all will be well as long as we keep working hard. Hope you're all staying warm up in the Chuck and have had a great week!

Elder Maclean Samis   

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

December 1, 2014 - Area 2: Clearbrook (Abbotsford)

Staying Together
Yep, Elder Lamb and I are both staying in Clearbrook this holiday season. Meanwhile, Elder Maura and Elder Walker have both been transferred and Chilliwack has been closed down. Elder Lamb is also now the district leader. December is here and so is the cold! If you happen to be living in Alberta however, it doesn't seem that bad. It's only -5. It's unreal how close 2015 is. My year mark is not too far distant. 

Wednesday night we drove into Vancouver to pick up an Elder from the airport and drive him to the Mission. We had to take our car in for repairs so we took the Mission Elder's Subaru. Then it rained real hard the whole night and it took us seemingly forever to get back into Abbotsford in time for curfew.  

It's been a pretty quiet week. Thursday we helped a new family move into the ward from Mission. The family just so happened to live 4 doors down from the Noftle's home and a couple of their kids went to help out.  

On Saturday when we got our car back, we met with a new investigator at his home in Aldergrove. His name is Nick and he had a hard time with the restoration. He's still willing to read the Book of Mormon despite feeling skeptical about things. The problem is he's going with his wife to Australia until the New Year so we won't be able to see him for a while.

Once again, we taught Devin, this time at the church, Sunday evening. There's enough proof to say that he wasn't ready to be baptized. Elder Lamb and I have decided to just re-teach him everything. It'll be a little while before we set another baptismal date with him but we have no problems with that.  

And so ends another transfer in the Canada, Vancouver Mission. Looking forward to writing about next week. Sounds like there's plenty of snow in Edmonton, so it should feel easy to get into the Christmas spirit! Cheers!

Elder Maclean Samis