Sunday, March 29, 2009

Growth of a Missionary

This morning I was reading the March 2009 First Presidency Message written by President Monson, and as I read the first part of his message about rising above trying times through prayer and faith, I thought about how this relates to the growth of a missionary and the purpose of missionary work. President Monson began his message with counsel given to us from past Prophets, such as Solomon's words which say, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." He goes on to share this example to remind us of how we can apply this counsel in troubled times: "One human resource officer assigned to handle petty grievances concluded an unusually hectic day by placing facetiously a little sign on his desk for those with unsolved problems. It read, “Have you tried prayer?” What he may not have realized was that this simple counsel would solve more problems, alleviate more suffering, prevent more transgression, and bring about greater peace and contentment in the human soul than could be obtained in any other way."
As I read these words I thought of my little brother serving a mission, and how much he has grown spiritually, and the blessings that have come from him applying this "simple counsel." Brent, like most missionaries, struggled for the first few months as he adjusted to life as a missionary, and learned his purpose for being out on a mission. As I read his first few letters home, it was as though I was reliving the first few months of my mission in Germany, and sometimes I just had to smile, knowing that he was being molded into the missionary the Lord wanted him to be. Although it was difficult to see him struggle with homesickness and still wondering how this could be "The Best Two Years" of his life, I knew that Heavenly Father was allowing him to be torn down, so that Brent could be built back up one prayer and testimony building experience at a time. As I have pieced through Brent's letters to find experiences to put on this blog, it's been neat to see the change he has gone through as he learns to put his trust in Lord, and forget himself and go to work as he helps younger missionaries to learn their purpose, and to put their full trust in the Lord to guide them in this work, while continuing to teach the people to "Come unto the Lord in Prayer and Faith."
"Those who feel that prayer might denote a physical or intellectual weakness should remember that a man never stands taller than when he is upon his knees."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Angel Moroni in Langley

As Zone Leader, Brent travels down to the Mission Office in Vancouver on occasion for a Zone Leader Conference with the Mission President, to discuss the progress of the Mission. The last Zone Leader Conference was extra special for him because he had the opportunity to head back to his old stomping grounds in Langley, and see the Angel Moroni placed on the top of the temple. Here is what he had to say about the experience, and the awesome week he had:

"So I think I have some cool things to talk about!? This last week was the week I flew down to Vancouver where President flies the 10 zone leaders down for a conference which is way cool, but what made it even better, is it just so happened, Tuesday was the day they were putting the Angel Moroni on top at the Vancouver Temple, in Langley. So President calls me up Monday night, and says "Hey Elder Wilson, how would you like to join me and Sister Nelson to go see the temple on Tuesday morning when you get in?" Dang I was excited!!! Haha! So we got on a plane at 6 that morning and got into Vancouver and then I rode with President and Sister Nelson and the other two office people to the temple. And right when we got there, there was already a ton of people standing outside just a ton of members, so I got out and I was able to see everyone from Langley again. I know I am probably confusing you but it was way cool, it is almost a year ago since I left Langley!! So i got some pictures, Just a way cool day, then had to drive back to Vancouver and got back to the meeting stuff, it was definitely a highlight to be able to see the people again, and see the temple again!
Then the next day a long meeting but good, and then got back to PG and had a way cool weekend! We taught all of our investigators on Friday and Saturday, and then we were supposed to have 6 of them come to church but only 3 showed up, but they were a solid three!! One of them is a 19 year old kid named Jordan, he doesn't believe in God but he wants to know, and so he finally agreed to come to church, and it just so happened I was the speaker yesterday. Since they were having a Stake High Councilman speak, they asked a missionary to speak too, so I got to speak for the first time yesterday, but wow I was nervous going from a branch the last two areas to a ward!! But its ok :) I ended speaking a little long and didnt leave the High Councilman much time!! But after church Jordan just sat in the chapel and didn't say much, and i asked him, "so Jordan when you come to know this is true will you be baptised," and he said yes! Tight huh? He is just scared cause he is all about science and thinks science and God doesnt go together, but we will work through it!...But anyways one last thing, so this family here likes to cook the missionaries waffles, and they have always said there is a record of ten waffles by a missionary! So I just watched the first couple weeks to see if it's possible and yesterday I matched the ten. I was going to go more, but I didn't want to steal his glory, just join him in the glory!"

Brent and Sister Nelson at the Vancouver British Columbia TempleBrent and Wade (Member from Langley)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Willy's Arrival in Prince George

When Brent received "the call" that he was leaving Prince Rupert, and being called as a Zone Leader in Prince George, it was definitely a bitter-sweet moment; probably more on the bitter side at first. Even though he knew it was the Lord's work and was willing to go wherever, there were a lot of people he didn't want to leave. Brent had a lot of great experiences in Prince Rupert, and although he knew he wouldn't be there forever, he was hoping his time to leave wouldn't have come just yet. These were his words as his time came to an end in Prince Rupert:

"Just a little more about Prince Rupert...I am gonna miss the people, our basketball team is doing good we only have two more weeks left so Elder Brown will have to finish the season! Then Chris is doing really good! I don't know, I just can say I love the people here! It will be tough to leave Brock, the kid we are teaching,...but hey life is good!"

Although this transfer was probably the hardest for him up to this point, I think it gave him a taste of what it will be like when his 2 years come to and end in December. I was able to chat with him through email the day he wrote telling us he was being transferred, and told him that the amount of love he has for the people he has served, is a testimony of what kind of missionary he has been and how hard he has worked. The fact that he was going to miss Prince Rupert so much, should make him feel like he had been a "True & Faithful Servant."

So the departure was difficult, but Brent hit the ground running in Prince George and of course like he has done in previous areas, he took time to "ponder" what lie ahead, and get a photo of him looking over his next challenge:Here he is dressed in his new "Zone Leader Armor" ready to dominate the Prince George Zone...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Prince Rupert to Prince George

Brent was transferred to Prince George BC, Canada towards the end of January. Known as BC's northern capital, Prince George is a bustling city of over 77,000 people situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, and the crossroads of Highways 97 & 16. The city is approximately 316 square kilometers big, and is the largest city in Northern British Columbia.
Wood drives the local economy, with forestry, plywood manufacture, 12 sawmills and three pulp mills as major employers and customers. Recreation opportunities are second to none and range from golfing, skiing, fishing and hunting to any team sport you can think of.
These cutbanks on the Nechako River are the signature natural landmark of Prince George

The official mascot of Prince George is "Mr. P. G.," an anthropomorphic (No idea what that means!!) assortment of logs who greets newcomers to the city at the intersection of Highways 97 and 16.

Here is photo of Prince George in early Fall

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Willy invades the Luscher Home

Brent has built many friendships with the members from each area he has served in. He always expresses his love for the members, and his appreciation for the support that is shown by those who take time to help the missionaries in their efforts. For a missionary, the members are often times the biggest strength that keep the work going, and often times the only kind and familiar face a missionary will see for days. In one of Brent's emails home, he introduced us to the Luscher Family, one of the families in the Prince Rupert Branch. He was excited that they had posted some photos of him on their blog, and wanted us to check them out, as well as express his appreciation for all this family does for the missionaries. Here is what he wrote:
"So this last week we had a sweet birthday party with a way cool family in the branch, they are just way neat people. She posted some pictures of us, I guess on her blog, so you should go check that out...The family is so cool, way strong testimony, and they go through so much that makes my testimony grow just seeing how strong they are in faith!!!"

It is nice to be able to get to know some of the members that take care of Brent, and be able to learn more about their family through their blog and emails. I hope they don't mind if I post some of their photos and comments of Brent on this blog. As you can see from the photos below, Brent was a hit with the kids, which is no surprise having grown up playing with all his cousins on Cox's Corner.

This is how Sister Luscher described their Christmas FHE with Willy:

"This is our Elder Wilson. We had made Christmas ornaments for FHE and then we put them on the tree after we set it up later that evening. It isn't the best picture of the ornament but I can tell you that it has more hot glue than I have ever seen on an ornament before. There was a ribbon tail on the bottom and some fluffy pom-poms. Elder Wilson even has a Disney CARS sticker somewhere on the other side of the ornament as we have learned that he is a big CARS fan. Of course he had to persuade Grayson to give up one of his stickers. Though it wasn't very had on his part as Grayson adores our missionaries."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wisdom for Willy

Brent has had the opportunity to serve under two Mission Presidents, and has a lot of love and respect for both. Both have made a lasting impression on Brent, and have really helped his testimony grow. Everytime he has an opportunity to meet with his Mission President at a Zone Conference or on splits, he always writes home expressing the respect he has for his leaders, and how much their testimonies strengthen him and make him want to work harder.
He always enjoys the opportunity to go tracting with his Mission President, and to listen to him bear witness of the Savior, and to see the respect people have for this great mentor in his life. On one occasion, Brent had the opportunity to go out tracting with his Mission President on a cold night in Prince Rupert. Brent enjoyed the opportunity, and learned a valuable lesson from his President, that I'm sure has helped him to understand others. Here is how he told the story:
"This past week we took President Nelson street contacting. He had never been since becoming our mission president, and since it gets dark early here we usually dont tract too much in the dark. So yeah, we take him contacting and it was hilarious. He loved it because so many people listened to him more because they already knew us, but he was impressed!! It was freezing cold and rainy and I was like, "President, you see what you are doing to me," and he just laughed and said, "Yeah Elder Wilson, you just tell me when it's good days and I will come hang out up here any day." Ha!! But yeah so it was cool he wanted to see what its like, and after we finished talking to this one guy, got his number, and set an appointment, we walked away and President laughs and said, "Dang Elder Wilson, you will aruge anything until you are right, huh??" Haha. And I was like, "I dont know I guess so, if that is good." So he gave me a good lesson. He likes what I do, but told me to sit on their side of the fence more. His quote of the day for me was "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opionion still." Pretty good huh!!?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Willy & the Town Drunk

Not sure what it is, but for some reason drunks always seem to pop up where ever the missionaries are. While in Germany, I saw my fair share of drunkards, and even though it was nice to have someone that would stop and talk to you as a missionary, sometimes it just got old. It was as though we were wearing some sort of attractant that only "tipplers" could smell, and if they were in the area they would find us. The irony of it all, is the fact that the missionaries have something that would provide these people new hope and a way to change, but their capacity to think is obstructed by the alcohol; even though I will say many do posses the humility required to change.
Of course Willy has had his moments with a few drunkards, and this particular story he wrote home about was one of those classics that just makes you laugh. Here's how he told the story:
"This last week I wrote you Wednesday and not too much happened between then and now except for the breakfast we serve at the presbatarian church. Well this saturday a drunk tried to fight me but dont worry he got it!! So he comes in and starts swearing at this guy, causing some trouble, and the pastor of the church, her name is Pastor Cheryl, was tryin to get him out. So one of the ladies comes and gets me and ask me to go help the pastor get him out. So I walk over to the guy just kind of put my hand on his back, and say "hey bud we need to get outside come out here and we can talk about it," So yeah, the guy seems to get more mad and yelling more and then trys to hit me, ha, but he is drunk and couldn't move the quickest. Haha! So he was falling over and so I grab his arm just little more firmly so he can't do anything with it. Then he was like "fine" and swears and turns around quick and runs right into a brick pillar that is in the middle of the room. It was hilarious!!! Of course I felt bad, but one lady told me after, "Dang people shouldn't mess with you missionary boys!" Haha! I just like held the guy up while he was in a daze after he just smacked his face in the brick, then he just shakes his head kinda smiles and laughs and says to the guy he was trying to fight, "well I got myself this time but I'll be waiting for you." Then I go outside with him, we talk a bit then he leaves. It was just funny I guess he is known around town as a pretty mean drunk but hey it was cool. That was some excitment, but yeah not much chance of giving the guy the gospel..."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Service P-day at a Cabin

Brent and his companion had an opportunity to go help a member's husband build a deck on their cabin, and spend some time up in the wilderness on their P-day. Now I am sure Willy would have gone to help just to lend a helping hand, but the fact that the guy was also up there Moose hunting probably added a little incentive, even though he wasn't able to actually go out and hunt.
Here's what he wrote about the experience:

“Ok, so today was service p-day, but it was way fun. We went out to this family’s cabin to help build a deck. The mom is a member in the ward, but she didn’t come, so it was the dad, his son, and the dad’s brother. They are actually moose hunting too, so I was hoping they would shoot one while we were there, ha, but back to what is up. So we help put in a deck, and dad yes I am thinking a log cabin should be in the future plans, and I would love to help with what ever you need just if it’s money you need I am not your man! haha :) Ok, so while we are doing this, I asked his kid Aaron, who is 12 and has gone to a Christian school most of his life until it got shut down last year, what he thinks about church and all he says is “I love it and I cant wait until I can get baptized.” So I am thinking, “dang he is getting baptized somewhere else” and then I ask him which church and he looks at me and just says, “I want to get baptized in your church.” How tight is that!? So I am like, well why can’t you and he is just like, “I don’t know, no one has told me I could,” and I don’t know what the parents think but I just told him we should set up some teaching appointments, and so he can do it. I hope I did ok cause we didn’t tell the dad yet but I am going to call the mom and tell her and I am hoping it all goes cool!! It was just cool first we are building a deck and then we talk about why he isn’t playing volleyball for me, then we talk about girlfriends, (haha, it always gets to a mans heart) then we are tight friends and inside this kid is just waiting to be baptized. I don’t know just way cool, the only bad part about the day is its hard for me to enjoy the outdoors without everyone back home, but don’t worry I love the people we are helping!!!”

Brent & Aaron working hard at the cabin...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brent the town Polar Bear

Brent is never one to worry about being embarrassed, so when the opportunity came to help out with the town parade, he said "Yes" even without knowing what exactly he was getting into. I'm sure once he found out his "assignment" he was all for it, and who can't picture Brent in a 7 foot Polar Bear costume marching down the streets of Prince Rupert showing his "Canadian Pride!" Here's the story:

"...Cool story so the RCMP, the Canadian police department, got our number and asked us to help them in the parade so of course I said I would do it. So when President was here we get stopped by a road block in town, and the cops come up and just start talking to us because they know us. President is in the back just wondering what is up, haha but then the Chief comes over shakes my hand and says, so can you still help us and I looked back at President and smile and he was just like for sure, ha! But...what I got to do was dress up as the huge Canadian bear for the RCMP, and lead the parade for the town, it was hilarious, they usually have a cop do it but they wanted us to be active and have some fun and those old cops just cant do it you know :) :) or they wanted us to be the ones looking funny haha who knows...haha don't make fun, don't worry I asked the cops how many Americans get to wear the red Canadian Surge and I am thinking I am a select few!!! :) :) And I got to ride in a jail wagon..."
Way to play along Brenter!!! Looks like you were a hit! :)

Willy, Salmon, & an Eagle

There have been a few times on his mission where Brent has had the opportunity to take advantage of the the recreation Canada has to offer. Of course, it didn't take him long once he got to the beautiful area of Prince Rupert, to find someone that would loan him a fishing pole and find a spot to go catch a few salmon. This particular trip was one that I'm sure Brent will remember for a long time, and it wasn't because of size of Salmon he claimed to have caught, even though he has no picture to back it up. :) The coolest part of this particular fishing trip was the rare photo opportunity to snap a photo of a Bald Eagle snatching a trout from the river. This the condensed version of the story: (as I understood it)

"Elder Brown and I were fishing for Coho Salmon on the banks of a small tributary flowing into Prudent Lake just off the Skeena River, about 20 minutes outside of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. We happened to be fishing next to an older Native Indian Gentleman, who told us that when the trout are on the surface we should keep our eyes out for Eagles coming in to feed off the fish. As we were fishing the man came over with a dead trout he had caught, and told us he was going to throw this trout back in the water, and to watch for an eagle to come down from one of the peaks of the surrounding mountains. Sure enough, just as he had promised this Bald Eagle came soaring down out from the trees, swooped down and snatched up a day time snack. Fortunately I had my camera close, and was able to get this awesome picture..."

This is the only "proof" Brent sent of him "catching a fish," but it could just be a snag!!???

Friday, March 13, 2009

Willy coaching Volleyball???

Being in a small town, means you have to find unique ways of finding people to teach and make a difference through your example. Well, Brent and his companion were given the opportunity to coach an Elementary boys Volleyball team, and were given the permission to go ahead and do it. Here are a few of his stories from this experience:
“...Oh, so we got a call today we are gonna be the elementary volleyball coaches here, tight huh?? Coaching the 5th and 6th grades, this Presbyterian lady hooked us up. She is the lady we help serve breakfast for on Saturdays, so yeah we have a meeting today with some parents so this could be good!!"
"This last week has been good, our volleyball team dominated, and we have only had a few troubles. One teacher is threatening to take away some of our players because they aren't good in class, and dang I felt bad because she came right in the middle of practice and threw down on the kids. The principal asked us why we really are doing this, cause I guess the kids are loving it, but it is way cool. After our first game we had a few parents come and ask us why we are up from Utah and California, because that is who we are known as, ha!" :)
"Yeah with volleyball I am deciding it is the best thing we could of done to get to younger kids too. It is just way cool! Tomorrow we have a huge game, and our team said we wouldn't win cause the other school is too good so I made them run laps until they said we could, ha. I am a tough coach but hey I like to call it "tough love." :)
"We had another volleyball game and we ended losing a heart breaker the last game of the series we smoked them the first game they beat us by two the second game and the third we came back from down 10 and lost by two. :( Dang, I think I was the only one about to cry haha!! No, I was good until the other coach started getting into it so of course I had to rally the troops, but it was cool!! Then this week a young kid wanted us to come watch him play hockey so we did and the parents came up to us they are originally Shik but wanted to know about us it was cool!!!"
"Our volleyball team is doing awesome I laid down the law on them on Thursday, because we played horrible our last game, mostly because some kids don’t come to practice but come to the games. So I took a good Coach Carter approach to it all ha, and I made them run ladders or suicides, so only eight kids were there and I made them run ten suicides, and I kept track and the principal came in and just was amazed they were doing it. Then I made sure its ok but I told her kids cant play unless they run all the suicides the team has ran, so yeah, I know Shauna loves coach carter so she should appreciate that. :)"

Willy & Chris

One of Brent's greatest experiences in "Rupert," was the opportunity he had to be a part of the conversion of a man named Chris. Here are a few of the stories Brent sent about Chris' conversion:

"..We were just out contacting last week so our first few days here and we walk by this guy just say "hi" and twenty steps later I just turn to Elder Brown and say we gotta give that man the gospel. So I turned around, walk up to the guy and ask him does he believe in God. So, we talk a while get his number and then his friend which was Chris walks up to us and starts talking too, well the first guy didn't go anywhere but Chris came for a tour. We've taught him the first two lessons, and he wants to be baptized and says he has been waiting for this change in his life. Pretty cool looking back it was crazy!!"


"So yesterday Chris came to church, and absolutely loved it. I was worried because I don't know just how people react to it here, but it went well. This is the funniest part, guess what they decide to teach for Sunday School? Well it started on the "Millenium" and they pull out a movie on "Gog and Magog," haha and the battle of Armagedon" ha exactly what Chris needed!! :) No, it actually turned out well cause after the huge mess and some things that were said me and Chris had a good talk after and I think it helped him see the importance of the need to change now!! Not sure its the best way but hey it worked, and then after church he called us just all excited and asked how we thought he did, he was funny he just said he thought it was gonna be awkward but he felt so different and loved the feeling that was different from the world so good right??"


"..things are as tight as can be right now. Chris had his interview with President on Friday when he came into town, which went way good. Chris is scared because he has changed so much and he likes it, just it is big for him. Lookin back from when we met him I am just amazed at who he is now. I love seeing the gospel work! The baptism is set for December 19th :) He wanted his family to come so that weekend was best, and Brother Dalton, who is the basketball coach at the other school we coach against and was his basketball coach back in the day, so he wants to be there, and that is the date that works out best..."

Chris' conversion was really a highlight of Brent's time in Prince Rupert, and from his letters I could tell he really has a great love for this man, as well as many others he has served in Rupert. Here is a photo of Elder Brown, Chris, & Willy at Chris' baptism:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Willy at Pacific Mariners Park

Pacific Mariners Park is located in the hub of Prince Rupert on a rocky, grassy bluff, and is known for its spectacular viewpoints overlooking Prince Rupert Harbor. Brent sent a few photos of Elder Brown and him visiting this park, and the surrounding museums.

This is Brent standing/"posing" next to a statue of a "Mariner," which stands as a tribute to many of the Mariners lost at sea. The statue depicts a Mariner peering out to sea, and has an inscription reading, "We are out There." There is also a memorial wall out of bricks inscribed with the names of many of the lost mariners.Elder Wilson & Elder Brown next to one of the Totem-poles found near the park...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Willy's arrival in Prince Rupert

Brent arrived in, as he would call it, "Rupert" with tons of enthusiasm and ready to get to work. This was his letter home informing us that he was being sent to Prince Rupert:

"...Sorry this is gonna be way short, but I did get transferred, up to a place called Prince Rupert!!! It is clear up by Alaska, you should look it up it is way cool, but we are all by our selves. I took like an 18 hour road trip the last two days, cause I had to bring a car up, and then my comp got to fly up from the mission office. Me and my comp are opening the area so I am excited, his name is Elder Brown, from California. I am getting to train again so he his lost with me up here ha ha, so this is gonna be an adventure for sure. The place is awesome, crazy sweet moutains!! But hey I love you all, we got big plans and the branch is even smaller I guess only 15 members so hey all is good.."

When Brent got there, one of the first things he noticed as he toured the church building was that the Baptismal font had been turned into a storage closet. I'm sure Brent was like "What the heck!??" and not only did that provide extra motivation to work harder, but he was bound and determined to change that as quickly as possible. Here he is at the "crime scene"...Here is Brent taking in the Sunset at Rotary Waterfront Park, pondering about the adventures that await him in his new home...Yeah right who am I kidding!! He was probably looking at the water picturing himself jumping a wake on his wake board or reeling in a big salmon!? :)

Willy's Home on the Northern Coast

In September of 2008 Brent was transferred to Prince Rupert, a port city in the province of British Comlumbia, Canada. Prince Rupert is the land, air, and water transportation hub of British Columbia's North Coast, and home to approximately 12,800 people. It's beauty and attractions are best described with the following words found on a local tourism website: "On British Columbia’s North Coast you don’t control nature, you pay attention to her every mood. This is a place where eagles, bears, and whales outnumber people. An area with over 10,000 years of First Nations history. Where fishing is both a job and a form of recreation. A place where being friendly and out-going is just the natural way to be. This is Canada like you have never experienced..."
I think if Brent were to hand pick an area of his mission he could serve in, I don't think he could have chosen a more fitting place to fit everything that is "Willy." So far on his mission, I think Brent would call Prince Rupert his "home away from home."
Elder Wilson & Elder Brown
Prince Rupert Harbor
Waterfront in Prince Rupert

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zone Activities

Brent always enjoys a chance to get together with the other Elders and Sisters in his Zone whether it's for a P-day activity or a Zone Conference. Here are a few photos of his Zone activities during the first part of his mission:
Abbotsford Zone 2008

Brent's explanation of this photo: "We had a huge stake softball tournament, and this was our "missionary" team. Don't worry Jared I made us Wilsons proud :)"

Zone P-Day - Sand Volleyball and Standing on the Dock - Brent says this is a sweet calm lake but it drives him crazy that nobody uses it. (I'm sure Brent stared at the lake and pictured himself jumping the wake on the his wakeboard)

Called to "Serve"

Given the fact that Merritt is a small town and "everybody knows everybody," some of the best opportunities to teach people came through acts of service. Brent had many opportunities to use his "muscles" (or lack there of) and help out a number of people in the community.

Brent and Elder Stevenson (Poland) building a shed for some Members of the Merritt Ward...or at least standing on it :)

Brent and Elder Kirby helping a kid move a box spring from the second story down to the truck. As Brent put it, "We helped move this kid but had some "fun"...and threw this box spring off the 2nd story so we didn't have to carry it, ha ha!!!" Brent's face tells it all...

Willy's "Catch of the Day"

Brent and "catching fish" haven't always been on the "same page," especially the last couple years leading up to his mission. It's a running joke in our house that Brent's ability to catch fish was cursed years ago when we took him to an outdoor expo, and one of the volunteer's tried to "help" Brent catch fish out of the "anyone should be able to catch a fish" fishing pool that was set up, but somehow he was unsuccessful. Although he has had a few successful fishing trips since that time, the last few months, maybe even years, leading up to his mission were not kind to Willy in the way of actually catching even a single fish. So it was only fitting that Brent would be called to Canada, and be able to try and get past that fishing "curse" in a place known for it's natural beauty and fantastic hunting and fishing spots. As you can see from the pics he did get the opportunity to get out and fish and actually caught something, although this one isn't exactly one to write home about, but for Brent this one weighed more than anything he's snagged in a long time: Brent and Elder Kirby getting a few last casts in as the sun goes down...

I'm sure a little kid caught this for Brent and helped him grab onto it, but he said these make for a great feast

Willy "Americanizes" the Canucks

Candice sent Brent ingredients to make an "American Cake" during the 4th of July, and so of course Brent used it as a chance to make his fellow Canadians salute America. He sent some photos of thier "American Cake" feast and wrote: "The American cake Candice sent me, made the Canadians salute :)"

Brent eating his"American Cake" with the McConnells (Brent and his companion lived in the McConnell's basement, and he really grew to love this family. He said this family was "...a highlight of Merritt for sure!!"

Willy the "Merritt Cowboy"

Brent was transferred to Merritt in May and these were a few of his words he sent home after finding out he was being transferred:
“…today is great, I am getting transferred :) at first I was mad because I asked president to let me stay one more transfer to do some more work, but he had other things in mind and I like them. So I am going to a small town up north called Merritt. I will take a good bus ride on Thursday morning with elder Kirby, my MTC comp, we'll be in the same district but like an hour and a half a part. I hear good things about where I'm going, all twenty members love missionaries, but the missionary work is a little slow so I'm going in. They do not have a chapel, so they meet in a small meeting house. I'm excited and they are starting to prepare for a chapel so I'm hoping to do work on that. My comp is from Poland, just learning English, and he has only been out one I guess you could say I get to follow up train but I hate that term, so we are both veterans now. I haven't met him yet but I'll let you know more when I get there, but I am excited and ready for a change. Things are all good…”
The first few letters Brent wrote from Merritt revealed the frustrations of a young Elder learning to adjust to a new area, different companion, and the usual changes and emotions that come with every transfer. It took a few weeks for Brent to warm up to the little town of Merritt and its people, but once he did he really enjoyed the work in this town, even though at times he had to learn how to control his "temper" and the virtue of patience.
In order to fit in amongst the citizens of Merritt, the missionaries were allowed to wear Cowboy hats anytime they wanted to. Who knew that a cowboy hat would be something Brent would need to bring with him as part of his missionary attire??? Since he obviously hadn't brought a cowboy hat with him, one of the members took the missionaries shopping and allowed them to pick out a nice cowboy hat to wear as part of the missionary wardrobe. The majority of the pictures Brent sent from Merritt included a cowboy hat, regardless of whether he was out proselyting or just hanging out on P-day. Brent was able to meet a lot of great people, and one person he was able to work with and be a part of the conversion was a young man named Tyrone. Brent grew to love the people in Merritt, and from his letters home I could tell he developed a special friendship with Tyrone, and his conversion really meant a lot him. I know it was hard for him to leave Merritt when he was transferred, primarily because of the friendship he had built with Tryone, and just wanting to be there to help be apart of strengthening his testimony. Here are a few photos of Willy's time in Merritt:
Brent and Elder Stevenson (Poland) at the building where they hold church meetings
Willy and Elder Stephenson (Idaho Falls) taking the Coutry Music town of Merritt by "storm"...
Willy and Stephenson teaching, as Brent put it, "The Sermon on the Mount"

Brent and Jim Fountain strummin' on the guitars...

Willy in deep thought as he peers over Nicola Lake towards Merritt wondering where all those doors are that are "supposed" to "open" when he "knocks"...