"Whoa!! Did you see that?!" exclaimed Elder Stirland.
"Two cougars...huge ones...they just flew across the road!"
"Aw, man! I missed it....How close are we, do you think?"
"Probably still about an hour away..."
There was silence in the car, only interrupted by the muffled tune of an EFY song.
"Anything for a baptism..." grinned Elder Stock, as they tore down the scenic highway to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
This week, my companion and I embarked on an epic adventure that spanned an entire Canadian island, and involved wild cougars, extremely prepared investigators, and an incredibly beautiful tucked-away town called Port Alice... if that's not exciting, I don't know what is!
A few weeks ago, the branch president from North Island (a branch of twenty members up in Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Port Alice) called us and notified us of some children who wanted to be baptized in their branch. We made some calls and were cleared to go and take a trip up there to teach them and start helping them prepare for their baptisms. We drove all the way from Nanaimo to Port McNeill, which is about a 5 hour drive of pure, natural beauty.
My companion and I found that once you pass Campbell River, which is the last major city before it goes into basically pure wilderness, you are in the celestial kingdom on earth. It's a touch of what heaven's postcards look like, I'm pretty sure...
We arrived in Port McNeill this Tuesday, and were greeted by the incredible President and Sister Terry from the branch. They had a place for us to stay and everything. We enjoyed a meal with them and got the bearings on the area. We decided to go out and work, and to see if we could find some new investigators in the area. We realized very quickly that the town was INCREDIBLY small. Like, we're talking SMALL... We started prayerfully tracting and were able to meet a lot of incredible people...that all knew the missionaries from the past when the area was still open VERY well. We found an investigator named B and were able to teach her with President Terry. We visited some of the members in the branch and helped strengthen them. It was a blessed trip.
The highlight of it all, though, was being able to go to Port Alice (which is GORGEOUS) and teach the Rydalch children who want to be baptized really bad. We met with them and taught a very simple lesson on the Restoration, and helped them understand why it matters to them, and how much God loves them. We watched these nifty little cartoons on beta.mormon.org that explained to them VERY well who God is and the concept of the apostasy and the restoration. We can't go up to Port Alice all the time, so we are face timing them until their baptism in March. They are doing so well, and it's been incredible to start to teach them!
I am learning each and every day just how much Heavenly Father loves me and loves all of us, and just how patient He is. Whatever we face, no matter how challenging life may get, we are never alone. What a glorious message we all have to share to the world! That God has not abandoned us, but that He speaks today! Truth is restored, people. Let's share it!
After our trip to Port McNeill, we traveled back to Nanaimo and finished our week strong. We have found some really cool families to teach, and are just being continually blessed from the Lord. He is at the helm of this Church and this great and marvelous Work. I know that to be true with every fiber of my being!
We went on a hike this preparation day to the top of a mountain near Westwood lake. The view from up there looks out on all of Nanaimo and you can even see the tip of Vancouver (on the mainland) if you look across the Georgia Strait. It was a tremendous view. It's the city I am called to serve in. It's where God has placed me at this time. For a wise purpose in Him. And I am enthralled to be here.
My sentiments of the work are echoed in the allegory of the olive tree. "And thus they labored, with all diligence., according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard...and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal...[and] the Lord of the vineyard...called up his servants, and said unto them.... behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard" (Jacob 5:74-75). I know that as we labor with all of our diligence, that He will direct us in this work, and we will be able to bring forth fruit, or success. And joy comes from successful missionary work.
I am grateful to be here in British Columbia and to be serving the Lord as His missionary. Let us all press on, in the work of the Lord. And let us all do whatever lies in our power cheerfully. I know as we open our mouths and share the light of the gospel, that the Lord will direct us to those whom He has prepared to receive this restored gospel. And I hope that I will be able to continue to serve Him until the very end of my life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The long road from Nanaimo...to PORT MCNEILL!!!
The view of the ocean on a blustery day....
The Rydalch kids!
President and Sister Terry from North Island branch!
THE place to be!
The road back...
Face time lesson with the Rydalch kids!
Stock and Stirland. Dream Team!
Dream Team and the city they are called to preach repentance unto!!!
Elder Stirland's flight through the woods...
I don't want to forget to mention that Elder Stock hit his 18 MONTH MARK two days ago!!!!!!! I was thinking of him all day and was so happy to receive an email from Sister (and Elder) Wilson. They are a missionary couple serving in his mission and helped him and Elder Stirland move to a different apartment on Saturday. She took these photos and sent it to me. Best present for a missionary mom.....EVER!!!!!!!!