Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I MADE IT TO CANADA!

Well, Sort of. On Tuesday we flew basically all day. Coming from the MTC to the airport is probably the biggest 180 somebody can make. We went from being 12 in a crowd of thousands of missionaries, to most people looking at us strangely as if we were from a foreign country. (I guess the airport in Chicago is kind  of a foreign country though).




We made it to Halifax at about 11:30, and we went to the mission home at around 12:30 for immigration. It was weird. They had kilometres, litres, french everywhere, and it certainly felt different. That night, President Leavitt told each one of us what area we would be serving in. One Elder went to New Brunswick, two to PEI, three to Newfoundland, and five to Nova Scotia. And then there was me.

I guess Canada really didn't want me for long, because I was the only missionary sent back to the States! Caribou, Maine here I come! I had a seven hour long drive to get to my area, which was the longest by far, but I finally got to meet my companions and cross the border. I like Canada, but there was a feeling of patriotism I got when I got to cross the border and see the MPH signs and the American Fleg once again! Only US missionaries can serve in Maine for whatever reason, so my companions and I had a huge talk about why America was so great. 'MUrica!

I keep saying my companions! I will clarify, I'm in a trio. One of my companions is Elder Woodbury, and he's my height and has been out 20 months, so he's super experienced. My other companion is Elder Bate, who is 6' 10" and has been out six weeks. So for those who said I would be with somebody really tall, you got your wish I suppose! The funny thing is, Elder Woodbury is probably going to be transferred, so that leaves me and Elder Bate! Exciting!


For those who have no idea where Caribou is (most, I assume), it is on the border of Maine and Canada. The name is a bit of a lie, however, considering you don't even get to see Caribou. Only Moose. Throughout the small town, there are about 100 different churches, and most people are very religious in their particular faith. It's honestly pretty cool, because even though there are a lot of religious people, nobody has been mean to us. They actually support missionary work. So they won't accept it, but they give us drinks anyway. We also have an investigator who was trying to convert us to be a Seventh Day Adventist. (Not sure what is is still)




Caribou actually has the strongest ward by far in my entire mission. The congregation is about 200 people, and we have a few really faithful investigators right now. The growth of the church here is astounding! We have three on date to be baptized in November, and hopefully a couple more will commit! With so many members, we've also had a 3 dinner appointments in the last 5 days. We do a lot of member service up here as well. I actually have a bit of a miracle that happened on my second day. Us Elders were helping the Hudson family move in to their apartment. As we started loading furniture in, a car parked in the driveway, and an old man came out livid. It turns out he was a landlord. He was screaming that we weren't allowed to do this, and that his assistant made a mistake and that he was going to make us move them back out. The old man went and yelled at the dad, and I thought we were going to have to pack everything back up. As he continued to shout, I said a silent prayer that his heart would be changed. Soon after, the man had calmed down, and allowed the family to move in once he knew they were LDS. He met us, and was actually quite polite. After that, he went outside, drove to a different apartment, and started yelling at someone else. Nice guy. Nice guy.

I also got to dedicate their house for them! Which was pretty cool, I had never done it before.

The most momentous occasion happened on Saturday. We went Subway contacting at the local Subway, and I figured out that the sandwiches are cheaper up here! We also met this really nice guy named Donald and talked to him about what we do.

Basically, a lot has happened since I last wrote. Mondays are now my designated P days, so you should receive emails a little more often. I love you all! I hope you are doing well, and I am constantly praying for you!

Love,

Elder Wanlass

PS: Some fun facts about Caribou:

1. The trees are incredibly beautiful here. Unlike anything I've ever seen. Red, Yellow, Brown, Orange. It's so nice.
2. There is an old man that smokes a different colored pipe everyday, and he just walks around town.
3. There are two guys that I guess have been trying to sell this old bike since may, and they walk door to door trying to sell it.

My new address is:

40 Sweden Street
Caribou, Maine
04736



The "Beg" the "Fleg" and the Name "Teg"

Hello everybody! I guess it's been a while! It's been super busy here at the MTC, but it's been quite an amazing week. First of all, I've been teaching, planning, studying, and that's basically all for quite a while now. The food here at the MTC is pretty good, but I can't wait to actually head out into the mission field. I actually get a Diet Coke every lunch and dinner just because it reminds me of home.

My companion is Elder Astle. He is from Colorado Springs, and he loves lacrosse and somehow figured out how to play the kazoo with his nameteg. He is my height, and looks young, just like me! We get along really well. The rest of our District is all pretty fun as well. We are kind of a family, and there are four Elders and four Sisters. The Elders in our district are pretty lucky, because there are six beds in our room and only four of us, so we have a lot more space. Sadly, our room still was written up as "Unacceptable" even though we did the best in our zone. Hmm...

The other Elders names are Elder Kruger (As in Freddy), and Heimonen (not to be confused with Hermione). They are basically a part of our companionship, because we always sit together in class, lunch, and we share our room together. Kruger is the big teddy bear in our group, and Heimonen is kind of the buff guy that does impressions of Gollum. The Sisters are Sister Pitcher, Sister Lambert, Sister Bowden, and Sister Moore. We are all super fun and get along really well, which can lead to distraction, but we're working on it.

I didn't actually think this would happen, but it turns out that it did. I figured that a few people in my District would live in Provo or close to the MTC, but it turns out that I'm the closest one in the District! Three of the sisters and the other Elders live in Canada, and one Sister lives farther away from Provo than me, but still lives in Utah. So that's interesting! I have my Canadian initiation going on, where I learn all the different lingo, accents, and such. Like Name'teg', for instance.

Speaking of accents, there's a British guy in our zone. He asked me where the loo was, and then said cheers. So that's exciting :D.

We had a chance to meet our Branch President, and he selected District Leaders from our zone. President Stice is super cool. He looks like a military general, but he is really nice to the Elders as long as they do what they are supposed to. He wants us to practice giving blessings to each other, so we offer the sisters as well as give companionship blessings. It's pretty cool, because some Leaders actually don't allow the missionaries to practice. President Stice also told me that he had a son that did ballroom and that he married his partner! Maybe foreshadowing for me..?? 

Anyway, that leads me to my next point. They called me to be the District Leader. Which I guess makes me the Jeff Winger of my District. I have to call on people to give prayers, pick hymns, speak, and I also am in charge of picking up the mail. Thanks Grandma and Mom for giving me things! :) Nobody in my District except for me and Sister Pitcher receive things constantly. So that's been cool. 

This Sunday we got to go on a temple walk, and today we actually got to do an endowment session at the Provo Temple. It was nice to feel the peace of the temple. You know how at Disneyland, they play constant Disney songs? Well at the MTC, it's kind of the same thing except I have a constant hymn playing in my heart. 

As the week wrapped up, Richard G. Scott came to speak to all the missionaries. His talk was about prayer, which spoke to me at that particular moment. 

Well, I've really been thinking how to become more like Christ throughout the week, and the best way I think is by Charity. We watched Elder Bednar's "The Character of Christ" and he shared a story. It reminded me that "My mission isn't about me, it's for the Lord." I'm so excited to continue serving. Continue onward everybody! :D

Love,

Elder Wanlass

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mission Farewell Talk

Mission Farewell Talk on August 24, 2014

How to Find Peace


Hello brothers and sisters, I'm really glad to see all of you here today.  I want to take some time to thank all of you for everything that you've done for me.  I have really good friends that have helped me through hardships in my life, an amazing ward that I've been able to feel at home in, and a supportive family who I love, and I'm blessed to know they love me too.  For those of you who may not know, I have been called to serve in the Canada, Halifax mission.  My area is right above Maine, and covers all of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and a tiny sliver of Maine.  It's crazy, because there are some parts of my mission where the church is so small that they don't even consider themselves a branch of the church.  So they call themselves "The Sticks".  So luckily for me, even though I am a little nervous to speak to you today, this is probably the biggest group of people I'll have to speak to over the course of my mission.

While I was thinking of my topic for my farewell, I really wanted to talk about something that I've had experience with these past few months.  I'll be honest; it's been a pretty hard summer.  Sometimes I'd be feeling happy and confident in myself, while other days I felt really down.  We all have times like this in our life, and it is especially important that we seek for guidance and help during these times.  When we ask Heavenly Father for help in faith, we can feel a Spirit of Peace overcome us, and know that we are not alone.  I feel that everybody needs to know how to find this peace and love of God at some point in their life, and when they seek, they will be able to find.

Finding peace can be easier said than done.  Sometimes our trials can seem so tough that we can't handle them ourselves.  Luckily for us, in these times of struggle, we do not have to face these challenges alone.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome all things through him as long as we believe that we can.  Christ's Atonement doesn't only help us recover from sin and death, but it can help in all things that we may need help with.  In one of my favorite hymns:  "Where Can I Turn for Peace"  It says:

"Where is the quiet hand, to calm my anguish?"
"Who, who can understand? He, only One."

Jesus Christ knows each and every one of us individually, and knows our feelings, our thoughts, and our hearts.  He suffered for us because he loves all of us, and wanted to help all of us return to our Heavenly Father to become more like him.  In D&C 6:36, the Lord tells Joseph Smith, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."  If we do this knowing that our Savior loves us, then we will be able to find peace through the Atonement.

We can also find peace by following Christ's example using the three main attributes of Christ: Hope, Faith, and Charity.  Hope assures us each day that Jesus Christ's atonement will be able to help every single person.  Faith in Jesus Christ gives us knowledge of the truth, and Charity offers us a chance to act as Christ would.  The best witness one can receive of a gospel principle is by acting on it first, and then seeing the blessings that come from them.  If we ever feel discouraged or troubled, the best way to fix that is to help somebody else who is going through a trial of their own.  If we constantly seek to follow Jesus Christ's example in this way, he will be able to grant us blessings of peace.

One of the best places to go when you feel you need guidance and peace is the temple.  A couple of weeks ago, I had a temple week.  Early on, I had the opportunity to go to the Ogden Temple Open House and see the new temple with my family.  It was a really cool experience, and it was a nice start to my week.  The spirit was strong, and you could tell that it is a place where amazing things will take place.

In his 2011 General Conference "The Holy Temple-A Beacon of the World" Thomas S. Monson said this regarding temples:  "My brothers and sisters, temples are more than stone and mortar.  They are filled with faith and fasting.  They are built of trials and testimonies.  They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."

I again had another temple experience a couple days later.  I'm a Primary teacher, and all the Stake Primary kids and teachers got together to walk to the Bountiful Temple.  Even before the walk started, the spirit was invited with hundreds of kids singing "I Love to See the Temple".  We couldn't see the temple over the mountain, but we could feel it in our presence, and when we made it, the peace there was amazing.  Sometimes we can't immediately feel peace that we need, but when we exercise even a particle of faith, and keep moving forward in our lives, Heavenly Father can grant us anything that we desire.  It will all be worth it.  Two days after that I had the opportunity to receive my endowments in the Jordan River Temple.

Some days we may not be able to make it to the temple.  However, that does not mean that we can't feel the spirit in our home. You can invite the spirit by reading your scriptures, listening to happy and good spirited music, learning more about the gospel, or simply praying to your Heavenly Father daily.  If you do these things consistently, you will feel a gradual strengthening of the Spirit in your life, and be stronger against trials and adversity in your life.

One really cool thing that I got to do in preparation for my mission was study some of my genealogy.  I had wondered for a while if I had relatives from my mission because my ancestors were Scottish and English, and Nova Scotia means New Scotland.  Well, I figured out that on both sides I have relatives that lived in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, both areas that are in my mission.  I'd like to talk specifically about my Great Great Great Great Grandfather who was born in Halifax, Daniel Starke.  Daniel Stark became a member of the church early on in his life in 1843 at 23 years of age.  He was a carpenter, and a very hardworking man.  A few years later, about the same time many of the Latter-Day Saints walked the plains to Zion, Daniel and his family, as well as 238 other members got on a boat headed to California.  On the boat, they had a room where all of them would gather for morning and evening prayer and devotionals.  They were to travel all the way around South America.  Later on in their travels, a really bad storm started to freeze the sails of the boat, and the strong wind prevented the ship from being controlled easily.  The captain of the boat, who was not a member of the church, went down to the room to warn and prepare the Saints for the worst.  However, rather than panicking, he found them singing hymns and praying with the utmost peace and composure.  They eventually made it to Hawaii, and then traveled to California after staying there.  Even in this possibly perilous storm, my grandfather and the other members of the church put their trust and faith in the Lord, and made it safely.

I have another story which is one of my favorite examples of peace.  It's in D&C 121.  Jospeh Smith and some of the Latter-Day apostles had been taken to Liberty Jail, the Saints were being persecuted and forced to leave and abandon their belongings in Missouri, it was a dark time for the church members.  While he was still in the jail, Joseph Smith prayed to God, saying:
"O God, where art thou?  And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" D&C 121:1.
He asks God for how much longer this torment of the Saints will last.  Surely, this was not a peaceful time for any of them.  Sometimes we may feel this way in our own lives, and may want to ask the same things.  However, after 6 verses of Joseph Smith pleading, Heavenly Father responds to him:

"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.  Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

The Lord is always beside us as long as we live righteously.  However, sometimes God will allow trials to impact the righteous because he wants us to become stronger, he knows we can handle them through the Atonement, and he knows that as long as we put our faith and trust in him we will have peace in the end.


O' Canada!

video

Receiving the Mission call on May 7, 2014.