Sunday, August 28, 2016

Travel and more travel...........

Blog for August 28, 2016

This has been a week of considerable traveling; some enjoyable, some not so much. If you read last week’s blog, we had just been informed as I prepared to post it that Kathy and I would be traveling to SLC on Monday morning with a sick missionary.

Unfortunately, when travel arrangements are made at the last minute, flexibility for travel arrangements is pretty much gone. As it turned out, the only thing available (Alaskan Airlines) took us to Seattle and then on to SLC. Getting to SLC wasn’t too bad, but coming back on Tuesday via Delta Airlines necessitated a 4-hr layover in Seattle followed by a departure delay, followed by another delay once we arrived in Calgary where our plane couldn’t pull into our gate as it was occupied by another plane. It took ground personnel another 45 minutes to get the problem sorted out so we could taxi in and deplane. Fortunately, getting through Customs was a breeze; still, it was midnight by the time we got to our apartment so we were 12 hours just getting back home from SLC. As Kathy put it, add another hour and we could have driven it in less time.

We had a surprise to deal with in our home in Sandy. We had called ahead to the wonderful people taking care of our home to tell them we would be returning briefly and would be staying in the home overnight. They went over to turn the water on and get the water heater going. Then the fun began……Water could be heard spraying somewhere and after locating the source, discovered water spraying out of the top of the water heater where a weld had apparently failed. There would be no hot shower on Tuesday morning at home. So, before heading back to the SLC airport, we had to make arrangements for a new hot water heater, which will be installed tomorrow morning. While the timing was unfortunate, it is all good; no real damage was done during the brief time the water was spraying, and the hot water heater, now more than15 years old, needed to be replaced. This will be one thing we won’t have to deal with when we return home. Things have actually gone well with our home during our absence, thanks to the good care it is receiving.

Okay, so I am the car czar so I have to say something about cars.  We received one new Nissan Rogue during the week. The plan always is, upon receiving a new car, to take an older car out of service, get it all fixed up and sell it. Again, however, more new missionaries are arriving this coming week than are going home so two additional areas are being opened and the new Rogue will go to some Sisters in the new area. Another 11 Rogues are coming to us sometime over the next several weeks, so gradually I will soon be back in the car selling business. If you aren’t in a big hurry and are in the market for a used Chev Cruz, a Subaru Ipreza, a Chev Equinox, or a Chev Colorado crew cab truck, all in great condition, I know a guy……

If we hadn’t had enough traveling, Saturday Kathy and I decided to drive to Golden, British Columbia, - about 3 hours away. 

While Golden isn’t much of a destination in and of itself, it was the scenery on the way and back that was our motivation. We want to see as much as possible of Southern Alberta before winter arrives. The scenery didn’t disappoint. I will include several pictures and share our trip with you.


Unfortunately, some of the mountaintops were a bit obscured by clouds, and we had some intermittent rain on our way back; still the views were extraordinary. The route took us through Banff, past Lake Louise, and through a mountain pass and on into the Yoho National Park.


Of particular interest is the beautiful clear aquamarine rivers that flow down the east side of the Continental Divide. On the west side of the Divide the rivers are equally as beautiful but the water is a kind of a milky jade color. The western slope water gets its unique color from sediment and glacial water coming from the high mountain areas. The eastern slope water is a beautiful aquamarine color but quite different from the west slope.

After returning from our drive yesterday, we returned home, got dressed, and went to a baptism for a wonderful Hispanic lady in the Spanish Branch. While I didn’t understand much of what was said, the Spirit there was wonderful and I had Kathy to translate some of what was said. We have talked about the wonderful mix of ethnic groups here in Calgary. Such was also the case last evening at the baptism with a mix of Spanish speaking Saints from Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and several from Mexico. In his welcome, the Branch President commented that, even though they share a common language, they sometimes have difficulty understanding one another. It brought a chuckle from all who were in attendance.

Have a wonderful week. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So sad; the Olympics are nearly over.........

Blog for August 21, 2016

The Calgary Tower (revolving restaurant - too pricey for lunch today!

We have enjoyed being able to select what aspect of the Olympics we wanted to watch each evening. We appreciate having a VCR so we could capture the Olympic moments to be watched later. The problem has been what to watch each evening. I was rather pessimistic about Rio as host for the Games but it has turned out quite wonderfully. What a beautiful setting is Rio. The overhead shots were breathtaking.

Our week has been pretty routine except for Friday. We have had a few missionaries who needed to go home during the week in order to get back home in time to start their school programs; likewise there will be some go home this week for the same reason. The bulk of them who are due to go home won’t go until next week, which is the time for the regular transfer week. It is that week we will have 28 new missionaries arriving plus two senior missionary couples, but back to Friday…….. On Thursday, President Miles called to ask Kathy and I to drive to Sparwood, BC to pick up an Elder who is replacing one who returned home on Saturday. He had been in a 3-leg companionship out in Creston, BC. We have mentioned Sparwood before; if you will recall the big green mining truck which was the backdrop in a picture once before for our blog when we made the trip to pick up a Sister missionary. This was about two months ago.  For us it is a nearly 3-hour trip, but Sparwood is only the halfway point; the missionary we picked up there also had to drive with his companions east from Creston for over 3 hours to get to Sparwood.

Elder Mahoney, Elder Bunch, and Elder Thackery. Elder Bunch was our passenger. 

 As we did with the Sister missionaries, we treated them all to Subway for lunch before making our way back to our destinations.

There are a couple of ways to drive south from Calgary; the interstate (Canadian Hwy 2) and the 2-lane road closer to the mountains called Rt 22. Rt 22 is our favorite way to go as the scenery is so beautiful. This time we noticed something I guess we had missed before; there is a stretch of fence along the western side of the road where there is a cap or hat on every fence post for 3-4 miles. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t do it justice but is included below. 

The Hat Zone

Rt 22 connects to the Crowsnest Pass, which is one of only two ways to get through the Colorado Rockies in Southern Alberta. As we turned west and passed through Frank’s Slide (see previous blog), we saw a weird site; a large cloud bank just sitting in the pass entrance (see the picture above).
Sort of like something from The Twilight Zone (for those of you who remember back that far!).

Entering the Twilight Zone? 
As we passed up and over the pass and entered the cloud bank, everything on the west side of the pass was overcast; then as we returned, we again broke out into the sunshine as we came down the east side of the pass and out of the mountains.

Yesterday, our P-day, we got up and cleaned the apartment, then headed into Calgary on the C-train. We haven’t really had a chance to explore downtown Calgary and it was such a nice day, we decided to do so. After getting off the train, we first went to a large mall known as the CORE Shopping Centre (I don’t know what CORE represents as to meaning, but it is in the core of the downtown area so maybe that is it); anyway, it covers three city blocks on four levels. On part of the fourth level is the Devonian Gardens, a glass-enclosed indoor botanical park, which was our primary purpose for going there, but, alas, it was closed for renovations so we could see only what was visible through the front doors. The food court was also on the 4th floor so we got something to eat there and then headed north for several blocks to walk past the Chinatown area and on to an “island” between two rivers, called Prince’s Island.

Going up!

Under construction

Skyscrapers and overhead walkways
Prince’s Island is home to walking and bike paths, some beautiful gardens, and lots of grass and shade trees, and even a Shakespearian play stage. The view of the downtown skyscrapers is very nice from there so I will include several pictures.

Calgary skyline from Prince's Island Park

Prince's Island garden

The south river boundary to Prince's Island

Prince's Island fountain

Bow River looking east

Bow River looking west

Anyway, we walked enough that we were quite tired when we got back home and up to our apartment so a nice nap was in order.

We have decided to assemble all of the blog entries into a book when we are finished with our mission so I will include even more pictures with the weekly entries than ever. We have seen the Shutterfly mission memory books President and Sister Miles have had assembled. They are into their third one and another they put together following a gathering of their family out in Banff earlier in the summer. This will be a neat way to document and preserve our mission experience.

Today in our ongoing effort to visit other areas were our missionaries serve, we went north from Calgary to Airdrie with a plan to attend two different Sacrament Meetings, one at 11:00 a.m. and the other at another building at 1:00 p.m. On the way we commented, “What if it is a Stake Conference Sunday?” When we got to the first building and walked in, sure enough it was Stake Conference. The proceedings were being televised from the Airdrie Stake Center to the building we were in, and it had started at 10:00 a.m. so we got to see the final hour. What we heard was wonderful, especially a talk from the visiting Seventy, Elder Scott, so it all worked out just fine. Afterward we got to visit with eight of our missionaries and that was nice, then we drove back to our own ward and attended the third hour. 

I would like to mention my sister, Ann Thorley Terry; she is on her way home from her 24-month records preservation mission in the New York New York North Mission. She was widowed soon after Kathy and I were married. While there she bought one of the available mission cars and is driving it home, She is accompanied by two of her daughters who flew out to be with her on her trip home to Southern Utah. Well done, Sister Terry!! Have a wonderful and safe trip home.

And speaking of a trip home, as I am writing this, we are learning that Kathy and I are likely headed to Salt Lake City with an ill Sister tomorrow, so stand by for more on this in next week’s blog. We are awaiting details from President Miles……………

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beautiful rainbow from our window as the rain continues......

Beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning........
August 13, 2016

After getting home from the office on Thursday, we captured a nice double rainbow visible out our 12th story window that appeared after a brief thunderstorm passed over us. The quality of the rainbow was much more intense than the picture captured. Beautiful!

We continue to get thunderstorms (sometimes with hail) nearly every afternoon. The Calgary area, and much of Alberta, has seen more rain this spring and summer than it has seen in 90 years. Mostly the storms have been brief but intense and are followed by bright sunshine, - perfect for the lawns and crops. Soon, however, if this pattern continues it will become a problem; many of the grain crops are awaiting harvesting. The rain is delaying crop maturation and it is problematic getting heavy equipment onto the fields when the ground is saturated, but in the meantime, everything is so beautiful and green.  

Yesterday (Saturday) was an exceptionally beautiful and clear all day with none of the usual buildup of thunderheads rolling off the Rockies. This worked out well for our P-day. We took advantage of the clear weather and drove to the northwest end of the Glenmore Reservoir where we had not yet hiked. The same trail we have included in other blogs continues all the way around the reservoir. The bridge you see in the distance in the one picture connects the trails from the south side with the trails along the north and enables getting over a delta where the Elbow River leads into the Glenmore Reservoir. This area, known as Weaselhead, is a very nice bird and game preserve. The area to the south is an Indian (Indians are called First Nation's in Canada) Reserve. The First Nation tribe living on the Reserve are known as the Tsuu T'ina Nation. They have a large casino and hotel on the Calgary side of the Reserve just a couple of miles further west from the site for this picture. If you look carefully in the one picture you can see a canoe and a kayak making their way upstream. toward the mountains. I hope to do that myself and get further back into the Weaselhead area than you can go on a trail. 

The Glenmore Reservoir provides much of the drinking water for the Calgary area. It is a flood control measure as well, although even the reservoir was not sufficient to keep the downtown area from flooding in 2013. While the reservoir controls flow from the Elbow River, another larger river called the Bow River, flows through the area west to east as well. The Elbow River outflow from the Glenmore Reservoir connects to the Bow. From the lessons learned in the flood of 2013, the reservoir is not maintained at or even near full capacity to accommodate another flood better than the last experience. 

The reservoir is a wonderful recreational resource. For example, we had a hard time finding a place to park yesterday as there was a large crowd there for a rowing event. There is a large rowing club on the northwest side of the reservoir and a beautiful 18-hole golf course. Then there is a large sailing school on the southeast side.  The rowing event had apparently drawn rowing teams from all around the area for a competitive event. 

We have been recording the NBC version of the Rio Olympic events. In addition, two Canadian broadcasting services have their coverage of the events as well so there is no shortage of coverage. We have been able to watch our NBC recordings in the evenings but have to fast forward through some of the events (and the commercials, of course - which is so nice!) in an effort to keep up. I usually watch the news daily but I had to be careful to change the channel quickly when the Olympic news would come on so it wouldn't spoil the results for us. We spent yesterday afternoon cleaning the apartment and doing our weekly domestic chores while trying to catch up on Olympic events and erasing what we had watched in order to clear out recording space so we can record more of the events today and into next week. 

We are having a wonderful young lady taught here in our home. We did this on three separate evenings during the week and this contributed to falling way behind on the Olympic coverage. We still have the final two events of "America's Got Talent" to get to as well. We appreciate being able to record what we want to watch but the storage capacity of our VCR is limited so we end up having to delete many of the events we have recorded earlier in the week but are selective in the process such as white water rafting, rowing, judo, etc. This is just as well. After all, we aren't here to watch TV.  

Mini Zone Conferences are underway in the mission. They are called "mini" in that they are shorter, are held just in the morning, and do not involve car inspections (yea!). Because the southern Zone Leaders had not been to the office lately, the mail for the south zones was piling up, so Kathy and I made a quick trip to Lethbridge on Wednesday to take the mail. We drove in rain much of the trip down and back. 

And that is the news from our Canada Calgary mission experience. Have a wonderful week. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Well, I can dream, can't I?

August 7, 2016

Greetings, once again from Calgary. I don’t have any pictures to share from our week’s activities as we have stayed home this weekend; however, I do have a couple of car pictures to share. No, none of them are mine nor are they in the mission fleet. I do like cars, though, and when I see a really nice one, I need a picture. I can tease President Miles by sending him the picture and tell him, “Your new mission car has arrived.” And, I can dream, can’t I?  ………

Very nice Jaguar!

Nice 4-door Porche

We have had a wonderful week, - rewarding and even a bit slower pace than usual. One of the most enjoyable aspects of our work is the opportunity to interact with the young Elders and Sisters as they come to the office for teaching supplies, for car issues, mail, etc. and sometimes they come in just because they enjoy visiting with the office staff. Sometimes several companionships are there at the same time, especially after training and leadership meetings. They usually make a trip to the office before they return to their areas and it is always fun to listen to their banter and overhear them discussing experiences. In many cases, some have served together for a time and love to update each other on what has happened since they were together last. At times we overhear things that particularly intrigue us. This also happens when I am transporting a group of them from one part of the mission to the other and they visit. Following are some things I have found particularly interesting…….:

1. Often we have heard references to certain missionaries as, ‘”happy guy”, “sad guy”, “tall guy”, “quiet guy”, “fly guy”, and another, “not a guy” (you’ll have to think about this for a moment). When we asked about these nicknames, it turns out, about a year ago, there were a bunch of missionaries with the last name of Johnson. To distinguish one Elder Johnson from another, over time these nicknames were developed and they stuck. The surprising thing is that everyone in the conversation who has been in the mission for awhile all seem to know exactly which Johnson the other is referring to. The one nickname that really cracks me up is the one missionary they refer to as, “Not a guy”. Have you figured this out? There was a Sister Johnson also serving here during that period; hence, not a guy. We presently have just two Johnsons serving and one goes home in a couple of weeks, but we have three Larsens/Larsons, three Christensens/Christensons, three Kings, three Chens, and four Smiths. Any way, I am constantly amazed about how clever the missionaries are, and how quick they are to start rumors! We have to be careful to keep information out of sight or out of our conversations while the missionaries are in the office because of how quickly news of this or that goes out, and sometimes conclusions and supposed insights are passed to others as fact that are totally incorrect, or the correct fact gets altered each time in the passing and what evolves is far from the truth. (This reminds me of the game of Gossip.)
The most recent example is; - we have a small number of missionaries who for reasons of athletic or academic scholarships must get home a week or two earlier than their scheduled release date. As word got out that so and so was going home early to start school, rumor spread throughout the mission that the entire transfer group would be going home early, and when some missionaries mentioned this in their weekly email home we began to get calls from anxious parents wondering why they weren’t informed.   

2. We commonly hear missionaries referring to certain missionaries as, “my father”, “my son”, “my grandpa”, etc. Recently, while transporting a dozen missionaries in the mission van, I asked for a translation. Here it is:
            A father for a given Elder is the trainer he had in his first area.
            A son is the Elder who was one’s trainee
            A grandpa is the trainer’s trainer in the trainee’s first area
            To die is to go home at the end of the mission. This is usually expressed as the area in which a missionary last served, as in, “He died in Clareshome.”
            Being born is the date one started his/her mission, or the date he entered the MTC.
            A mother is the most senior Sister who served in a missionary’s district at the time they were in their first area.
            Different from the Elders, a father for Sisters is the first District Leader they had in their first area.
            Since a missionary is “born” at the MTC, it is referred to as the womb, but sometimes it also means one’s first area.

There are probably a few more terms than I have here but this will give you some idea. Now picture me while driving and trying to follow a conversation between two Elders behind me:

“Elder, where are you coming from?” 
“Pincher Creek.”
“No way! I was born there?” (In this case it refers not to the MTC but to the first area where he served.) “Who was your companion?”
“Elder Smith.”
“Which one?”
“Sam Smith.”
“No way! He was my father!” 
“So who was your father?”
“Elder Jones.”
“Wow, I was in the womb with him. Really neat guy.”
And so forth. One needs a translation guide to follow the conversation.

We continue to have the most amazing summer weather. Each day we have some clouds roll in from the foothills to the west and give us a quarter inch of rain or so, but sometimes it becomes hail for a time. We have had some hail damaged cars as a result. These are reported to Fleet Headquarters in SLC and an insurance file is created for each but we will wait until they get to 80,000 +/- kilometers before considering what to do with them. Hail damaged cars are evaluated by an independent insurance adjuster and then a decision is made (not by me) whether the car will be totaled, fixed, or sold as a hail damaged car. I think I have mentioned before that we have several hail damaged cars mostly down in the Lethbridge area which were beat up in July of 2013 and these are some that are due to be taken out of the fleet but this won’t happen until we start having our missionary numbers go down a bit as we get into the Fall. I was informed during the week that we will be getting 11 new Rogues in 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, we have every one of our cars assigned. We are getting 28 new missionaries a the next transfer plus two senior couples (who will bring their own vehicles) but only 13 missionaries going home. In order to have enough cars, some areas will go back to walking/bicycling or sharing a car with another area.

Again on Friday we were able to go to the Calgary Temple with our office mates, the Peppingers. Afterward we went to dinner. It was a great way to cap off the week. Yesterday, we spent much of the day cleaning our apartment and ironing since it had been two weeks since we were last able to do so.