9 Mar 1998 -- JL Gets Baptized

Dear Family,

Things here in Canada are good. Happy. Actually, things were beginning to warm up for a while here, but the past two days have gotten colder. Last night when Elder A and I were street contacting, it was just cold enough to freeze the inside of my nose when I breathed in.

We were blessed. JL was finally baptized on March 7th. It was a good baptism. She asked me to baptizer her. Actually, the First Presidency has come out with a new policy -- all converts are confirmed in church the following Sunday. So it was with J. She was confirmed and then bore her testimony in sacrament meeting. I was so happy. She got up and said she knew the Book of Mormon was true, and if all her friends and family told her it wasn't, and persecuted her, she still could not deny it's truthfulness. She told how she gained her testimony: fasting and prayer, and reading the BofM. After the fast, we read Alma 5 with her, and I asked her to be baptized. She said yes. It was very sweet to see and hear her bear her testimony.

Wish you all well. Have a good one. Stand up tall, be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Let Christ shine through your countenance.

Love,

Elder Bettilyon


[This set of experiences is one if the highlights of my mission. "JL" and I still talk (not from my efforts, but b/c she has actually kept contact with me). I remember starting the fast with her very clearly. We started on Sunday and I went around the Riverbend YSA ward and rallied about 10 or 15 Stake Missionaries to come to a meeting with J right after the block schedule. "We're going to start a fast for her, please come join." The room was full of people. I taught a lesson about Alma the Younger and how fasting brought about his conversion. I said J wants to be converted but we need a little help with her Mom and her own commitment. J also fasted with us.

I didn't realize at the time, but she was scheduled to play an indoor soccer game on Monday afternoon or evening, but we had all committed to fast for 24 hours together. So, she went without water at her soccer game!! I can't believe it still.

I think her own sacrifice during that fast is what led to her solid commitment when she committed to be baptized a few days later. How great it is to still be friends with her and to know she is doing well!]

23 Feb 1998 -- Quite a Lecture

Dear Family,

Thank-you all so much for your support. Your letter, your prayers, and such. I know that Christ has blessed me much and in this time of trial and adversity, I have been very blessed. To put it in context, imagine the poem footprints, and think of that man as me. I look back, and con only see one set of footprints a Christ has carried me through the face of adversity; and is still carrying me.

The work is going okay. Both of our baptisms didn't go through. One of them is only 17, but will turn 18 on 25 Feb 1998, the other had a bunch of tests come up in her physics class and she had to take time out to see a tutor. But all should be okay.

[Actually, the one who was only 17 was quite the experience. We went to visit her mother out in Spruce Grove -- a little bedroom community about 15 miles out of Edmonton or so. I think she's Catholic. She wanted to meet us before JL was baptized. She was expecting the "Elders" and got the ...young Elders. Two pimply-faced guys who looked young enough to be dating her daughter, not teaching her. She raked us over the coals for inviting her to be baptized on only the second visit. I can't remember what else she got mad at us for, but it was pretty clear when we left that she wasn't interested in investigating the gospel with her daughter. :). She is the one who stalled the baptism b/c we couldn't get parental permission. I still remember sitting in her living room, her mad at me and Elder C (district leader) and both of us just kind of sat there, wondering what to say to make it better. How does the Proverb go, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" or something? Well, we understood pretty well that day. Now I look back on it and kind of chuckle.

As for the girl with the physics tests. I can't even remember who she is any more. I guess it didn't go okay after all. There's nothing like baptismal commitments falling through to bring you down.]

For the past week or so I've been getting letters where people say "I don't know what to write," and I want to tell you, sometimes I don't know what to write either. Tell me about school, tell me about church, tell me about which non-member friends you're trying to share the gospel with, tell me about the chapter you're studying in seminary, tell me about your job, tell me about Hogi Yogi gossip, tell me what you had for lunch yesterday, tell me about the power of prayer, your love for mom, your favorite vegetable, your favorite time to sleep, your favorite web site, your e-mail friend who lives across the world, your dad, your family, the ward, missionary moments, problems you're having finding answers to problems through the Holy Ghost, or through the scriptures, your new pari of shoes, the crash you almost got in, your new haircut, who spoke in sacrament meeting, other missionaries from other wards, your new favorite band, the school dance, the guy who cut you of while driving, your friends, the hold in your sock, ANYTHING -- Also, I've found a good solution to writing when you don't know what to write about. Put your pencil to the paper and follow Pres. Kimballs' advice "Just do it" If you're low in spirit or energy, pray, and the Comforter will comfort you and help you write.

Also, I've found what lifts my spirits a lot is to write and tell mom how much I love her. If you're still feeling upset at her, it's time to give that load to the Savior, D&C 64:10 puts it quite clearly. Give it a read.

The Savior sacrificed everything or us. We need to let Him take our pain from our sin and our sorrow.

The key to letting go of sin is the atonement.

Likewise

The key to letting go of pain brought about through adversity is the atonement.

Christ lives. I love you all.

Elder Matt Bettilyon

(over)

P.S. I included a litter to JH. The address I had was wrong -- please see that he gets it. C, M or R would get it to him if you asked/prodded them enough.

Thanks

love ya' lots

[I still remember writing this letter. I think I would get letters from home that would be like a paragraph long and not really tell me anything about what was going on at home. Everyone at home was coping with this divorce issue with each other and attending counseling sessions together and I was alone in the field, and to make matters worse, no one was talking about it. I guess frustration got the better of me. I hindsight, I probably should have called the mission president and said "I need to talk with my family to stay connected on this issue. I'm calling them when I think I need to connect with them on this." I never did. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. Sorry I was feeling so mean, family. I think I can understand just where you were. Feeling like "I should write Matt." Sit down...."well Matt, life at home sucks. how is the mission Love you, Bye" just doesn't cut it even though it was honest. We were all trying as hard as we could.]

16 Feb 1998

Dear Family,

I hope things are good at home -- they're good out here. I've ben receiving mail from you all regularly. (I suppose that means from mon and Utah). Anyhow, I've also enjoyed Dad's Faxes -- please keep me posted on how things are preogreessing w/ counseling/divorce and such. I am a part of the family also -- I'll be okay.

The work is also going okay -- acutally, quite well. We're teaching four people. Two of which are scheduled for baptism this Saturday (21st). JL and ST. It should be very exciting to see how they go through. The other Elders in the ward are doing quite successfully, also. Tow of their investigators are getting baptized this month.

I am so thankful to be on a mission. The Lord chastends us and keeps us on track, but we are constantly striving for self-improvement. We are working on our tracting and street-contacting -- trying to do more of it. It's fun.

Anyhow. Have a good week and we will write to you again.

Love,

Elder Bettilyon

P.S. Christmas Packages are still accepted - even if they have been halfway around the continent!

[The comment about packages going halfway around the continent is still referring to the mail strike. I must've missed a few packages at Christmastime? I can't remember any more]

Some pictures



Here is me, Elder R and DY (DY is the guy who "believed" and then left the church after a week or two...)













The Edson Branch Christmas party. Sometime December 1997.












A beautiful sunset in Edson, AB.












Me in my silly jammies and Rush Limbaugh tie.














Landscape of Lethbridge. I have always assumed the bridge in the picture is the "bridge" of Lethbridge though I can't verify that.

The other reason for mail angst

I was also a little sensitive to letters because of the Mail Poste strike in Novemnbe 1997! For two weeks the Canadian Mail Poste workers striked until the government 'forced' them back to work.

I found this NY Times article about it.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE3DA173AF935A15752C1A961958260

9 Feb 1998 -- Light in the tunnel?

Dear Family,

This has been an okay week. I'm beginning to get settled in to the city here. I'm starting to learn names and faces in the young single adult ward. It's good. I got the FAX last week -- it was good to read, thanks. From what I can tell, the family is happy. It always makes me sit back and think when I hear there's a different feeling, or spirit in the house. In a way, it makes me sad, and in a way, it makes me happy. It makes me realize that there was something different with mother. And that is hard for me, but it also lets me know that everyone now has the opportunity to be happier. Since there is a happier, lighter spirit at home, it will eventually reflect in each member's [member of the family] countenance, working eventually for a better, closer relationship between the family. That is the part that makes me happy.

[My father's letter must have really lifted my spirits. You may have noticed that I am complaining a lot about not getting letters. I was so distraught that right after my parents had separated and at the same time, I stopped getting letters. I would go a week without getting any mail just after this horrible event. I could not understand what was wrong. I moved to Edmonton and my Father started faxing me letters again. I was so happy just to have something to read! I discovered about 2 weeks later that somehow, the apartment number on my address in Edson had been transposed -- everyone back home were mailing to apartment #102, not #201. The poste employee had to put the letters in the box they were addressed for. One day, the Elders happened upon him stuffing another letter to me in an already grossly full mailbox. He looked at them and knew that the letters were for them (or one like them) and he finally got the verbal permission he needed to reroute all the letters from the States to box #201. The Elders showed up at zone conference with a stack of letters about half a foot tall. Turns out everyone had written me but the letters and comfort were sitting several boxes away. It really is funny now, but I was crying when I got those letters.]

This week we taught J. the fourth and the fifth discussion. WofW, LofC and fasting, fast offering and tithing. She's accepted all of the commitments well. Actually, at this moment we are fasting for her. She has had a lot of witnesses that she needs to be baptized. We gave her a very spiritual priesthood blessing, then, on the 4th D. we all knelt and had a prayer circle, each of us asking for the strength for J; and that the Spirit and angels would keep her uplifted. She wanted to obey the WofW, but she didn't have faith in herself. But w/ the Spirit, she was able to commit to live the WofW. Now, we're fasting so she will have faith enough in herself that she can keep her commitments after baptism. She is committed to living them now, but is fearful she will mess up after baptism. With J's situation, I can see the importance of friends. Last week, she slept over at her friendshipper's house all week. Her friend said she was able to see a change in her because of that. Her friends keep their standards which, in turn, makes her keep her moral standards. It's cool.

That's about all I can think to do, except to persuade you to share your testimony with your friends -- Christ, coupled with the Book of Mormon, can help anyone improve their life, from President Hinckley to a murderer on death row -- everyone.

Thanks.

Love, Elder Bettilyon

26 Jan 1998 -- The New Diggs

Elder Bettilyon
#104 9808 149TH ST
Edmonton, AB T5P-1K4

Dear Family,

Well, I was transferred to Edmonton. The new address is, of course, in the upper left-hand corner, where it always is. Remember, letter writing is easy, especially now that there's a FAX machine here. The number is [not important anymore] so feel free to FAX anytime, though I'll continue with the Canadian Mail Poste. (It is exceedingly difficult to get hold of our computer just after you FAX, so I'll just continue w/ the old method).

Anyhow, I'm staying with the zone leaders. There's four of us here in the apartment, so it's quite crazy. My new comp is Elder A, he's from Torrance, CA. My Roomies, (The Zone Leaders) are Elder L and Elder P, from Buckeye, AZ and Rialto, CA, respectively.

Elder A and I are covering the Young Single Adult ward w/ the zonies. We're opening the area, so things are going slowly as of right now, but they will pick up.

I've actually gotten quite a nasty sickness. I have a fever, and a runny nose, aches, pains, clogged sinus. You know, all the good stuff. So we're having quite a sleepy P-day.

Hope you all have a good week.

Love,

Elder Bettilyon

20 Jan 1998 - Next Transfer

Dear Family,

Just a quick note. I got transferred again. I'll now be in Edmonton, covering a Young Single Adult ward with the zone leaders. It should be interesting. Usually only zone leaders cover the YSA ward, but Pres O. is trying something new.

As for the packages, in one of them is my raincoat. It does me no good up here -- it's just not warm enough. You can keep it for later use, or try to return it to ZCMI in the South Towne Mall. It was in the neighborhood of $200.00, and I"ve only worn it twice my whole mission. So it's basically just taking up space.
Love ya' tons.

Laterez,

Elder Bettilyon

[As far as time between trasnfers, this one was pretty close. I think it had more to do with the divorce than anything. I remember the week prior my mission president calling me and urging me to see an LDS Social Services counelor, detailed in a prior post. I wasn't sure how the President would manage me going to see the counselor. Duh! He'd just transfer me closer to the counselor. Sometimes simple things elude me and sadly, I think the only real reason I sent the raincoat back was b/c none of the other Elders wore theirs -- we were too scared we'd look like the Jehovah's Whitnesses.]

A map of the transfer:



View Larger Map

19 Jan 1998 -- Still Waiting for Letters

Dear Family,

It's been an okay week. Things just keep on going fast. Quicker and quicker. EC was baptized on Saturday. She stopped smoking, and her husband baptized her. It was cool. Elder R confirmed her; he did a good job; she's been coming out to church for such a long time, it was a relief to us, and to the branch, to see her get baptized.

I hope everyone is doing well w/ the situation and all. I've still yet to hear from anybody, and so now I'm just fighting to find something to write about. (guilt trip).

President O called a few nights ago, and said it would perhaps bee a good idea to see an LDS Social Services dude. It was a rough decision, perhaps I'll tell you how I decided to go see him.

E was very sick on Wednesday, and non-committal for a date, or a time, to get baptized. Elder R and I just didn't know what to do. So we made a plan. We fasted, and used the power of the priesthood, to help her commit for baptism. She was very sick, and we blessed her that she would be well enough to be baptized on Saturday, and, lo and behold, she was well enough to be baptized. We then fasted for her and J (her husband). That she would be baptized & that he would baptize her. (he was really nervous). And on Friday night, we were over at their house for dinner, and e was wanting to have her parents come. If they couldn't come, she didn't want to get baptized. (They're non-member).

Anyhow, Elder R & I had been working to commit her for so long, we were sick of hearing her excuses. She called her mom, to see, finally, if she could come. It was a very tense moment when she called her mom, I promise. And when she said she could get baptized, & her mom would come, Elder R & I were overjoyed.

Anyhow, through the fast, I decided I should see a counselor. It won't hurt me to talk; it could only help, so I'm gonna' talk to him.

That's about it for last week's events.

Love,

Elder Bettilyon

[What a bizarre way to tell the story that I fasted and got an answer. Oh well, it's how I thought of it at the time, I guess]

12 Jan 1998 -- A little more honest take

Dear Family,of ti

Hope all is well, & I hope you enjoyed that last letter that was beat to slime. I didn't want to rewrite it, so I just mailed it off.

Not much has happened since Dad and I spoke; I have quite a bad cold. I imagine that it's degree of seriousness reflects my mental condition. Not to say I'm not mentally healthy. for I am, but to say I was distressed & my cold hit at approx. the same time, so it hit a bit harder. I'm sure you all understand.

I got a card from Holly last week. It was great. I've also FAXed that thing to ... UNIPAC so I hope that should take care of it. Thanks so much, Dad, for taking care of that for me.

[I had taken out a student loan for my first year of college and never told the loan company I was going on a mission. Whoops. I ended up with a little hit on my credit report for being delinquent. Once I signed a letter they put it on hold for me until I graduated.]

Sheesh.

I think I'm still in shock, I just don't know what to write. Not too much has happened. *SIGH* I'm doing okay with everything but this whole experience just made me re-examine my life. Teaching people, talking to people. Everything I do or say reminds me of mom. I try to get away from it, but I can't face the truth. I'm nervous for her, as I'm sure every one of you at home are, also.

Last Saturday's baptism didn't go through, she was still smoking, she's quit now, so she should be baptized this Saturday. Hopefully.

Love you all

Elder Bettilyon

7 Jan 1998 -- First letter post separation

Dear Family,

I hope you're all doing okay. I'm surviving. I know this can pull all of us together and strengthen us. I know it's strengthened me, increased me faith and testimony, and also increased my capacity to love. It has also caused me to evaluate my own life, and realize all of the wonderful blessings our Father in Heaven has given to us.

We all have a knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can all be thankful for that. Many people are born, live, and die with out the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, we have it; let us be thankful, and let us follow the plan Father has given for us. I have a roof over my head, Mother has a roof over her head, everyone at home has a roof over their heads, we all have food to eat, we all have people to turn to for help, we all have the Power and Authority of the Priesthood. We all have so much to be happy for. While talking to mother last night, she told me to hold on to what is left; to hold on to what we have. It is always best to focus on the good. A scripture that almost always gives me comfort at times like this is (I think it's this one) 2 Timothy 1:7. God hath not given us the Spirit of Fear, but of power, and of love and of sound mind. God has given us power, love & a sound mind to deal with our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual problems. Let us use the tools God has given us to overcome our problems. And when we are fearful of the outcome, ask yourself "who is the Father of that thought, or feeling?" Satan is the father of people's actions as well as our Father in Heaven. We should all have Father in Heaven be the father of our thoughts and actions, otherwise, we will be sinning.

We have a baptism scheduled for 10 Jan 98. Her name is EC, she is JC's spouse [JC is the one who had the really splashy baptism]. He was baptized last month. So after her baptism, we will have baptized a family!

I love you all. May God bless you!

Love,

Elder Bettilyon

P.S. Sorry for the rugged condition of the letter -- I put it on top of the car in my folder & we drove off & it fell off -- all over a snowy, dirty road.

[Funny little note at the end there. I remember picking up my binder and all the papers. It was the perfect event for a horrible feeling day. I tried my hardest to sound positive and upbeat in this letter -- because focusing on the good will help us to not dwell on the bad. OF course, I had not really even started dealing with the feelings of loss my parent's separation caused.]

Early 1998 -- The Worst Zone Conference Ever

This is not a post from my journal or letters, but from memory. I will remember this day for as long as I live. I am sorry if this comes off as hurtful or insulting to my mom or dad, it is really not meant in that regard, I love them both and have come to terms with the substance of this post. I think it is good for me to get this into a medium that can be preserved. So here goes.

We had driven into Edmonton for zone conference the week and a half after Christmas. I don't remember the conference, but after President O finished his talk and we had the closing prayer, my district leader came rushing for me and and said that the mission president wanted to talk with me. I was a little nervous, wondered if he was going to finally bust me for sleeping in (I wish that's all it was! More about sleeping in later, I guess, I always hated the fact that I did it...).

He took me to a room and sat me down and told me that my mother had gotten onto a plane, flown to Alaska to visit another man and that that man had proposed to her. Even as I relive it now I'm not sure how to respond. I think I just put my head down on the table and started to cry. He let me go on for a while. Maybe I asked a few questions. I'm sure I did out of disbelief.

I remember clearly that he told me my mom and my dad both wanted me to stay in the mission field, that this wasn't something worth coming home over. They both wanted me to serve my mission like I had committed I would do. He told me that I should go home and call each of them, I think he may have given me the phone number in Alaska. Then he gave me a long blessing and sent me on my way. I don't remember what the blessing said at all. I remember believing and trying to convince myself that I felt the ministering of angels while I was in there to strengthen me. I can't really say for sure any more, my emotions were so haywire, it's impossible to tell.

I remember getting into the car with Elder R and two other elders we had carpooled down with from a town about an hour north. I sat in the back seat just writhing and loathing. After an episode of anger, I decided to tell them all what President O had told me. My parents were getting divorced. We talked about it all the way home, I think.

Elder R and I talked about it that night. I would never wish anyone in his shoes. He tried and tried to find ways to comfort me and yet be honest at the same time. "Maybe my mom will marry him and he'll be baptised," I really hoped. Elder R said "No chance he's getting baptized, dude. Not with the current situation the way it is." I got mad and swore at him I think.

I remember going out on a teaching appointment with him the next day to visit a sister who was preparing for baptism. Elder R did all the talking that day. He looked me at one point so I could bear testimony and I remember trying to get words to come out of my mouth, but I just couldn't, I didn't feel it, couldn't feel it.

I think I called my dad first when we got home that evening. We talked about it. I don't remember much of that conversation. I called my mom next and tried to talk her out of it; I remember trying to tell doctrine and she just wouldn't budge. As if she didn't make this decision with a little bit of forethought! I was just trying to wrap my head around everything. I remember thinking over and over that the saddest part was that I wouldn't have the opportunity to be together in heaven with them all, that the sealing promises upon my family were broken and that my mother wouldn't be able to join with us in heaven any more.

I remember sitting in the chapel for long stretches of time in Edson playing Families Can Be Together Forever, just hoping that something would twitch and go back the way it was, put all the worms back into the can, take the pain and numbness away.

One day I remember having a fight with my companion and looking for answers. I found a passage of scripture that talked about Captain Moroni and the king men in Alma in the Book of Mormon. It talked about how the King Men defected in the home province/city when Cpn Moroni was out fighting a war. It made the fight for the war impossible to wage because everything in the center of the country was set at variance with itself. He couldn't get troops, he couldn't get supplies, because everyone at home was fighting. I felt like maybe I was like this country and this imminent divorce was like the king men causing disturbances and strife. I realized that this divorce would affect me in ways that I didn't understand or realize and if I wasn't careful it would destroy my relationship with my companion. I vowed to not let it eat me up inside to the point of self destruction.

I remember kneeling down at the bed and determining within myself that I would forgive my mom for causing all this pain. I really think I was able to let go of the anger I felt, and I think it helped me come to terms with the situation.

I later realized that my entire family had known that the divorce was going to happen on Christmas Day when I called home, but they had all been told to not tell me and not tip me off. It was agreed that I should hear this face to face instead, so President O told me at the next face to face chance he could, our zone conference. That is why everyone kept saying "it's so good to hear how happy you are!" I was the only one who didn't know that the next several years would be dark ones, so I was still happy.

The divorce and overcoming it are really the reasons I have come to believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ and that it's effects are real. Isaiah calls him a counselor and I really do believe that He took my pain away at times so it wouldn't crush me or overwhelm me. I think that I did eventually digest all the deep and dark feelings I had about it even though they regurgitate at the strangest of times still , but I think He helped me cope and spoon fed it to me while I grew to accept and move on.

I always considered Edson the furnace of my affliction. I still don't remember it that fondly. A dirty little town with a few saints who somehow kept it together despite the worst odds. A bunch of drugs. A really lousy Christmas memory (now it's lousy, anyway...). How horrible. It is so horrible I am actually chuckiling about it right now. But life goes on! I survived this drastic news some how and continued to function. Thank goodness for poor Elder R. He really kept me going. My next group of companions had to deal with my emotional mess, too. The poor guys. That heavens for them all.


[I'm sure the rest of the 18 months of blog posts will invariably cite back to this incident at one time or another. I'm not trying to be preachy or scolding. My family doesn't all ascribe to the same faith, but we all grew up in the church, I don't have any desire to 'preach' to them, so please, don't take it that way, guys. I guess I'm just trying to create an accurate depiction of how I felt about the divorce and how I feel about it now.]


29 Dec 1997 -- After the Holiday & Drunken Anger

Dear Family,

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. I did, and it sounded as if all were happy when we talked on the phone. I also called C. [my best friend from High School who was a member of the church but no longer practicing] that day, and talked to him. He was quite surprised when he heard my voice, and I suppose it made his Christmas. He’s still quite the same. Not caring too much about God, or religion, or anything much at all except his man-made beliefs. The third Discussion puts the ideas of man into their place. It’s about the apostasy, and states that god is the source of truth. But talking to C on the phone about religion was quite less-effective. So I opted to keep things simple. I just bore my testimony to him ~ about a zillion times. I’d just sit back and say, “I know the Church I true.”

This week was really quite less effective. Not too many doors are open to proselyting missionaries (on Christmas). We went to the Branch President’s house, & talked to his kids – one of his sons went to France on his mission, & the mission President said “no visiting members’ houses until five o’clock!” [on Christmas Day]. He said ½ of the mission got beat-up. Pretty harsh, -eh?

[not sure how much to buy in to this story any more. Maybe some people were threatened. I guess it is possible someone got beat up in France b/c they were knocking doors on Christmas.]

WE are, however, getting ready to start teaching two families! On Tuesday last week (Christmas eve, eve) we ate dinner w/ a non-member family. We usually eat at Sis G’s house (the one w/ the FAX machine) but she’s out of town for Christmas and talked one of her non-member friends to feed us. We all ready knew the family, they’d come to the Branch Christmas Party & their daughter sang Silent Night, while I accompanied on the guitar. So we invited them to watch “Together Forever,” & to hear the Discussions. WE wanted to show it to them that night, but one of their friends came & visited them & it was not our place to invite her to watch the video. Well, it probably was, but we didn’t. & we wanted to get out of there once they served her some liquor. But Edson is a town of drunk druggies, so where else could we get people serving hard drinks after dinner?

As for Edson being a town of wine-bibbers, we had an experience a few nights ago w/ a drunk. Elder Ray was asleep & I was trying to sleep , but could not. Just as I was approaching shut-eye, this guy started yelling at the top of his voice, “Mike! You ^(^%(*^&%%%%!^&%, get out here right now, you spineless **&*&^&^%.” He was mad! He ran in and out of our apartment building, yelling and hollering. The door he was yelling at was across our hall and down three or four feet – it almost sounded like ye was yelling at our door! Then he went outside and yelled at the whole neighborhood, saying he knows he woke us up & that he didn’t care. He told us all his name, but he was so drunk, we didn’t understand it. I called the RCMP, but they took so long, he was gone by the time they got there. (RCMP is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ~ they use cars now, though).

Anyhow, things are going good & wish you well!

Love,

Elder Bettilyon

Editor's Side Note about Christmas

Christmas really is a bittersweet time in the mission field. I remember each Christmas's feeling quite well, but I don't remember the events of each one very well. I'm not sure which member's house we went to for much of anything with one exception. We had Christmas breakfast over at the branch president's house. All of his kids were home for the holidays, too. One of his sons had recently returned from Paris, France mission and had known one of the young men I grew up with back home, he had apparently been his trainer.

Missionaries get to call home on Christmas. It is happy and sad at the same time. It is always exciting to connect and chat, of course, but always brought up pangs of loss and sadness for me, too. Bittersweet. I remember this holiday that my family kept saying how it was great to hear how happy I was and that I was helping them feel happy, too.

20 Dec 1997 -- Last letter before Christmas

I think you’ve all pretty much what happened over the past week ~ at least, mother should know. (Placed 6 Book of Mormons in a day - ) most people just ton’t want a Book of Mormon, but in the wonderful Holiday Season, we have found people to be a bit happier. Also holding the Book out, it is natural for them to reach out and take it. And then, you have a Book of Mormon Placement.

The Edson Branch is taking good care of us. We have a real tree, with lights, tinsel & presents under it. J & her parents sent a box of stuff, I got a box from Grandma and Grandpa S today, also. So Christmas should be a Holly Jolly good time.

[funny that J’s parents sent me the care package and I had broken up with her, too. I think my letter and their package crossed in the mail. I felt guilty enjoying the candy they sent so much, but not guilty enough to send it back, I guess]

We had Zone Conference last week & President O. let us watch Beauty & the Beast’s Christmas cartoon & The Santa Clause w/ Tim Allen. It is truly amazing to see a bunch of Sisters & Elders watching Beauty and the Beast, and enjoying it! [I remember that I really did enjoy it, too.] Elder R has a funny saying about it: “missionaries have the gift of entertainment.” We can get excited from just about anything.

It sounds like it has snowed for good in Utah. Edson is still void of any snow ~ which is okay by Elder R & us, b/c then the car would get dirtier faster!

Have a Merry Christmas,

Elder Bettilyon

15 Dec 1997 -- 36 Charged in RCMP drug bust.... really

OK, so the last post died om me. Blogspot has this really annoying bug that if you select ALL of the text on the writing pane and then try to select the next line, too, ALL of the text you've selected automatically disappears. Last week, I came across the bug again and just gave up. Posted my title and then went to sleep.

Anyway, this is a real article from the local Edson rag. I think you can find them online here. In my journal I wrote "This drug bust happened while I was serving in Edson. It was sooo cool. I think our teaching pool must have dropped by 1/2. Along w/ the town's population!" I guess I was feeling a bit sarcastic that day:

"36 charged in RCMP drug bust

"There is a methamphetamine (AKA speed) problem in Edson and district", Edmonton RCMP drug section said in a prepared statement released last week by S/Sgt. Bob Young of the Edson RCMP detachment.

As a result of an undercover drug operation, Edson RCMP executed five search warrants within the Edson area. A total of 36 persons have been charged with trafficking mathamphetamines or cocaine or marijuana. To date 26 have been arrested. There are arrest warrants for the remaining 10.

Charges: methamphetamine (speed): 30 -- 28 trafficking and 2 possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Cannabis Marijuana: 17 -- 14 trafficking and 3 PPT.
Cocaine: 15 -- 10 trafficking and 5 PPT
Cannabis Resin: 5 Trafficking
LSD: 4 PPT.
Proceeds of Crime: 5.
Possession of Stolen Property 1.
Total charges: 76.

Undercover operators involved in a four month investigation that started in July this year stated that in their experience they have never seen an area o mall with this great of amount of methamphetamine usage and availability in Alberta or British Columbia.

RCMP statement also revealed that undercover operators were present when methamphetamine was being sold by youth as young as 14 years old.

During the investigation, speed, cocaine and cannabis products were purchased in multi-ounce quantities.

Bail hearings are expected to be held this week, at which time disposition of persons arrested will be determined.

Here is a list issued by the Edson RCMP of the persons charged:

[It goes on for another page].

15 Dec 1997 -- 36 Charged in RCMP Drug Bust

15 Dec 1997 -- Happy Santa

Dear Family,

We had two baptisms this month -- or, I mean, week. I doubt it'll ever happen again! Elder R & I are doing well & we're happy. DY has completely apostatized But we had another baptism on 13 Dec, which made us completely forget about him. We're totally getting blessed.

The only thing, really, I have to say is that I wrote J off today. her letters depress me, they bring me down. She talks down to me when she writes. I've been contemplating doing this since the MTC, and I've finally done it. How am I to know, after three short month, that she is right for me? That is not right. I will find my eternal mate after my mission. I hope you all don't think it's just totally sudden -- I know it seems that way, but I've been thinking of doing this for a while, and I finally decided to do it today.

Anyhow, I just read mother's wonderful letter in cursive type. Edson is a crazy place. It's famed the largest drug capital of Alberta, if not Canada [Okay, this is not true. Nelson, BC has to be a bigger pot haven. This was more of a white trash drug town (read: meth)]. How true that i, we cannot tell, but there are a lot of drugs here. A few weeks ago, Elder R & I were walking out of the building, and some teenagers were sitting on the steps, smoking. They asked if we smoked. R and I just laughed. No we don't smoke. "Well, you're never too young to start!" They called back. We laugh about that quite often. I think the other thing we laugh about is DY. Elder R called him, and asked him if it was all lies. D says, "Yup. I'm usually not this deceitful." We'll just be sitting in the car, nothing to talk about. One of us will say, "I'm usually not deceitful -- I just didn't get Thou shalt not bear false witness!!" or something to that effect.

I'll remember that guy for the rest of my life.

But all is jolly and merry. We had a branch Christmas party a few days ago & I favored some people w/ Silent Night on the guitar. There are some pictures of it, but they need to be developed, first. I was also the host of the party ~ which was quite exciting. There were a few non-members who we had play musical numbers, and I bore my testimony at the end, which was exciting.

Then Santa came - he was just a little drunk. The whole room just reeked like alcohol by the time he left. but he was holly, jolly, and merry, so we were content with it. [The kids sure liked him, too. I'm surprised he didn't crash his car on the way to the next visit. Maybe his wife was driving him around. Too bad we never checked on that]. The way we found him was kind of interesting. We GQ'd this guy on the street, and after he said he wasn't interested, we asked if he knew where Tiny lived -- who is a tall, tall fat dude w/ a big white beard. He(Tiny) gave us another name for Santa, we called [the number and reached the gentleman's]...wife. She called back & said he'd do it. We never even met the dude, but he showed up to play Santa Clause. He was toasted, but hey, he showed up!

That's about it for now. Love you!

Elder Bettilyon

[What I neglected to write here is that the Branch President put us, the missionaries, in charge of planning the activity. I still wonder about that decision. He never asked us to speak in the branch (while I was there, at least), but he had us plan the Christmas Party. One of the bedrock sisters in the ward helped up plan most of it and it was here nonmember friends who brought some guitars and we played Christmas Music together. The best part was finding someone to play Santa, though.

We had seen a man driving around town whom we had already thought to ourselves This Guy looks like Santa! So we asked one of the members if they'd seen him or knew him. Sure, that was "Tiny." So we asked a few people around town if they knew who Tiny was or where we could find him. Someone told us he liked to hang out at the Lion's club. (Still not sure what the Lion's club is). But we drove down and walked in. Boy, we were out of our element -- it was pool tables, beer and cigarette smoke. But we looked around and found Tiny. He was shooting a game of pool so we marched up to talk with him. Elder R did the talking, I was too scared. Tiny was the one who turned us on to the drunk Santa.]


8 Dec 1997 - Splish Splash & Struck Gold, The Conclusion

[This is the conclusion of two previous posts. DY had been baptized, it was quite a moving experience for everyone involved. He seemed to us as prepared as anyone could possibly be for the gospel].

Talk about a heck of a week. I suppose some good things have happened. JC was baptized yesterday -- it was nuts. President S [The Edson Branch President] baptized him and J is quite a large fellow. (Bluntly, he's fat). In the prayer meeting, Pres S said to J that he was going to push him down hard into the water, b/c fat floats. So he said the prayer, and then he just threw him into the water! J's so big & Pres S pushed him so hard, that water splashed out of the font all over the place. All over on the carpet. J almost hit his head on the side of the font -- but hey -- I watched him go all the way down, and then back up again. That's what counts, Adam's baptism was pretty crazy like that - (Moses 6:64). He was baptized, but no human baptized him - it was the spirit that did. It's the ordinance that counts.

The other hectic part of the week - goodness. I talked to Dad about it when I called -- D -- who was going apostate. [Remember this is the same guy we just baptized a few weeks ago]. I only have several things I want to say about the story. All we can tell now is that D was never sincere about joining the church. We went through all 6 D's withh im in two days. H resolved his own concern about the pre-mortal-life. So we thought he was good to go. There were several odd things about him. [My missionary companion] and I realized his testimony about the [Book of Mormon] wasn't quite as goo as it should have been. So we showed him Ezekiel 37:15 - 17 w/him about the sticks of Judah & one of Joseph combining together. He said "that makes me feel better." We're like, "okay, " -- that was an odd reaction, but we looked over it. Then he was sleeping over at her house - ["her" meaning the woman who brought him into the gospel. She had been a member for around 1 year give or take]. b/c he lived 3 hours away. ... Basically, we overlooked D's sleeping over b/c he seemed so sincere. A [Book of Mormon] guide classifies Anti-Christs by several points, one of which is them saying things the people want to hear. D told us everything, almost to a T, to the jot and tittle, of what we wanted to hear. Elder S, who gave him the Baptismal Interview, called him, and set things straight. But before that, he called on Sunday Evening, and told me the Lord had led him back to the Grace Gospel Church again, and that was where the Lord had led him. When he said that, I just had no desire to even talk to him anymore. I just said nothing I can say will change your mind, so I hung up the phone after that. Elder R called & basically said the same thing happened. elder S called & said when I gave you that BI, I was representing Jesus Christ? he says yup. S says, I heard you testify about the [Book of Mormon]. he says it was a lie. Basically, everything DY said to us was a lie. But whether he likes it or not, he's made covenants w/ God when he was baptized, and he's accountable for them ..... Basically the only thing we can sum up is that he had no desire to join the church except for Sis. C. He said he thought he could stand the church if he could have Sis C.

[I continue on in a non-faith-promoting rant about D standing before the judgement bar. I didn't come out and say just what happened between DY and Sis C, but I think you can put it together. This was the blackest period of my mission so far. I'd been out in the field for maybe five months. We had a lot of hopes and excitement and faith wrapped up in this guy and he just threw it back in our faces and told us he thought our faith was a bunch of crap. I'm not sure what D ever believed/felt and what he didn't believe/feel. It's pretty clear he was being subversive from the get go and once he made his mark on the sister in our branch, he left and wasn't interested in us any more.

On another note, shame on me for calling home! I called home to tell my family that I wrote a Dear Jane letter to my promised girlfriend. That is a funny story in itself. Perhaps I will just post the letter I just wrote to my sister about it. It tells the story in pretty good detail. But I wanted my family to know my relationship status, so I called to tell my dad. He handled it pretty well. Didn't say much of anything and probably wondered in the back of his mind "what the heck is my son calling home for against the rules??" I think the other reason I called is I was feeling pretty sorry and down'n out about DY leaving the church and revealing to us what he was. Don't know why I thought disobeying mission rules would help, but I tried. (By the way....it didn't help to call home.)]

7 Dec 1997

[If you are curious about Edson, you should Google it. I think there were about 7,000 people. Most of the people knew each other, if they didn't there were probably only 2 degrees of separation for everyone in the entire town. The town was being economically propped up by a local mine, and at it's peak, there were probably 25 active families in the branch, so a larger building was proposed and approved. Just when approval was granted, the mine closed its doors, and most of the town moved away. About 3 core member families stayed intact, but plans for the new building were already in action and weren't stopped. So there was this huge chapel, and about 15 - 20 regular attendees. After worshipping together for so many years, people's individual quirks become evident. People in the branch figured out what they thought about other people and after years of observations and judgments, most folks weren't willing to change. ....so people talked about other people, tried to maneuver w/out other people knowing, or held grudge for honest mistakes. It added to the spice of life and was some general excitement and flavor in a generally unexciting town, I guess. This letter is just a reflection of some of the "excitement"].


Dear Family,

I hope things are well with you all. I must comment again on something quite humorous. Remember those big rabbit fur gloves you sent me? WEll, my zone leader got quite a chuckle out of them! Things here are just quite nice this winter. Thanks to El Nino, I guess. I haven't heard too much about it except that down in Utah, Colorado and Arizona area, it's been very wet lately. But I'm all for the nice warm weather so nothing to worry about, I suposae!

But things are going quite nicely here in Edson - with missionary work. We've all fasted for a gal named MH. She's been wanting to get baptized for a long time, and her father will not allow it. We had a fast for her. (We comprimizing some of the youth & adults in the Edson Branch).

But, things from the mebers are just getting odd. So many good things here are happening. We have a baptism on 7 Dec for JB, his wife, a daughter of an LDS man, is beginning to prepare herelf for baptism, and M is getting baptized on 21 Dec. It seems as if we're making some of the members a bit anxious. We're "turning over the applie cart" if you will.

The Relief Society Pres. was getting involved in our fast - she told us to fast for the youth of the branch & to offer them all priesthood blessings -- where the fast was primarily focused on [our investigator]. It turns out that one of the young woman is quite depressed -- but she waited until 5 minutes before the fast to tell us to fast for the youth & offer them blessings, and she waited till after the fast to tell us the reason.

[I think what happened here (judging from my poorly written letter) is that the RS president hijacked our fast for an investigator and tried to get us to fast for this poor young woman and give her a priesthood blessing. If I remember correctly it was just a little bit awkward].

The teacher of the priesthood class is just nuts. He said at dinner last week, "so who'se gonna give the lesson this Sunday?" He wants to rotate teachingw/ us, but he never asked us, he just told us.

Another fellow, the father of the distressed daughter teaches the gospel doctrine clas, but he's so prideful, his daughter won't even ask him for a father's blessing -- b/c she's nervous he'll put his own thoughts into it. [I'm pretty sure this girl is the same one who was depressed a few paraghaphs above].

But, regardless of some nutty members up here, things in Edson are still great.

That's about all for this week. Love you all.


24 Nov 1997

Dear Family,

I hope you are all doing well. I am. There is a mail strike here, so I've not heard too much. We did have a zone conference last week, though, so I got some letters from Lethbridge, and I also got a very nice black scarf from mother. Thanks very much for it.

Well, today has been an exceptional P-day. We went shopping and I just couldn't resist the temptation to buy a steak. I bought it, and it was delicious. I smothered it with onions, salt, pepper, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and BBQ sauce. I let it cook in it's own blood for almost thirty minutes, it was delicious. I'm usually not a huge steak fan, but I figured a missionary-cooking success story was worthy of being written, as I've had some failures, too. Oh yes, E., another cooking story (just for you). Right after getting transferred to Edson, I bought some onions and cheese, for quite a few potatoes were at the new place. I shredded them [the potatoes] with a cheese grater, and grilled some onions and had hash browns with onions & of course, cheese melted on the top. But, alas, I had a bottle of Crisco right close, so when I feared the potatoes would stick to the pan, I would pour some Crisco in the pan. Well, alas, I put too much oil in the pan, and I had soggy hash-rounds. they were not very good. But I still had to think of you right when I began grilling the onions.

The work in Edson is going quite well. We have a fellow, JB who'se getting a bit close to baptism; we're hoping for December 7th. We also have another baptismal commitment for December 6th in Hinton, DD. He's just a little less golden than was DY. We found him through a media referral, and while on splits w/ the District Leader, Elder R and S taught him a first. R & I came back the next week & he'd kept his commitments to read and pray! [The first commitments of reading a passage and praying to discover it's truthfulness was really the barrier for having someone get converted or not. Most of the time, people would commit, but would not do it.] So we taught him the 2nd and the 3rd and committed him for baptism. Elder R asked him if he'd like to be baptized after we taught him about baptism, and he said "I'd like to get baptized!" So we were like, "okay! wow!" It was pretty cool.

We also taught a fellow named PL the 1st D, and at the end, he said he knew the [Book of Mormon] was true, so R asked if he understood what it meant to say the Book of Mormon was true. He says, "yes," continues Elder R: So you understand that if the [Book of Mormon]'s true, this is the only true church on the earth? And he just kind of said, "uh huh." After the closing prayer, we're getting ready to leave, and he says "Hold on, you guys, I've got a few questions." "Okay." He then asks Elder R if he's a lawyer. "No." "Well then how did you get me to say your church was the church? Did you guys go to law school?" (we just kept o thinking "we didn't twist your arm!").

He was quite surprised, I suppose, that the D's were so well organized as to make him accountable before the Lord when he realizes the [Book of Mormon] is true. The Holy Ghost told him it was true...now he had better act on it. Hopefully he will.

Well, love ya'll. Take good care.

Love,
Elder Bettilyon

[As for PL's dubious testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, I think I've decided he didn't really know. I'm not sure why he told us he believed it was true. Then again, maybe he really did believe it when he said it. Elder R and I were really trying to NOT put the poor man through the manipulation pattern, but it looks like we may have done so after all. We never did have another lesson with him that I can recall.]

[As for the hash browns. E. (my younger sister) and I always enjoyed potatoes and grilled onions together before my mission. It was one of the things we enjoyed doing together, so I was pretty excited to try it. I have since learned that blanching the potatoes before grilling them will solve the soggy potato problem. Oh well, live and learn.]

17 Nov 1997 - Struck Gold, Part 2

Dear Family,

This has been an exciting week -- the B kids have been baptized -- and it's for sure this time -- last week I hadn't heard any word, but I talked to -- or Elder R. talked to Elder C. (the one I switched places w/ on the Special Transfer). And he said they were baptized. So that was exciting.
Also, DY [this is the GOLD part] was baptized on 14 Nov by Elder R. and I confirmed him. It was a very spiritual baptism, he told (in his testimony) when he finally figured out the [Book of Mormon] was true -- he is a trucker, and he was driving & the spirit told him that the Bible was incomplete & the [Book of Mormon] was what filled in for all the incomplete parts. It was awesome.

Then, we all traveled out to Hinton. (All as in me, Elder R., Elder P. and Elder S., the district leader) to another baptism in Hinton, CC. The Branch President out there gave him all the Discussions, and Elder R and I just went out and made sure he knew everything. He did. His whole family is active members, and when his wife went to take out her endowments, he could finally, well, I don't know, he was finally converted, so he took all the discussions and was baptized. We just went and watched it happen. But, even thought we didn't even teach him, I still love him -- it's just amazing with how much charity the Lord has blessed me with.

Right now, I'm on exchanges in Spruce Grove, which is approx 20 min out of Edmonton. I'm with Elder P, and will be until zone conference in a few days. We drove in to Edmonton today, and are hanging out with missionaries from Edmonton.

Love you all,

Elder Bettilyon

To be concluded...

10 Nov 1997 -- Struck Gold part 1

Elder Bettilyon
#201A 1015 57th St.
Edson, AB T7E-1R2

Dear Family,

I hope you're all doing well. I imagine so, but I've not heard anything b/c of the transfer, but if something was drastically wrong, I'm sure I'd hear of it rather quickly.

Anyhow. It's finally begut to get cold in Edson. Not terribly cold yet, but it just started freezing, wheras I imagine it's been quite chilly in Sandy. But as to that I do not know.

I imagine the Bouvier kids were baptized on 5 Nov '97. I've not heard anything about it. But they were pretty ready to go, so I think they should be just fine.

As for the work in Edson, it's going quite well for us. There is a baptism for DY on Friday, and one on Saturday in a small town named Hinton. His name is CC. Both were just really "handed" to us.

Bro Y. is the most golden person I've ever seen, or ever taught. We taught him all 6 discussions in two days! He only had one or two concerns. One of them was about the pre-mortal life. "I've never heard of that before," he says, "But the Spirit's here, so it must be true..." Elder R. and I just sat there, bewildered. In the MTC, we're taught HOFRS -- Held Others Feel and Recognize the Spirit; here was D Y, doing it for himself. HOFRS, and he'd tell us each time he got a confirmation from the Spirit by looking up and saying, sincerely: "Thank-you, Lord," He's part native, so I guess he is quite open to feeling spirits -- good or evil. Which makes sense.

[Elder Matthew Cowley liked to talk about the New Zelandars and how they were more prone to faith, revelation, spirituality, etc, because they were an unbroken line from the House of Isarael. I'm trying to make the same argument here].

As for Bro CC, he lives in Hinton, and one Sunday, Elder R. called up to see if we could do any work out there . he announced that there was a baptism in two weeks, Bro C. He'd [the branch president] already taught him all the discussions, and most of his concerns had been resolved by his LDS wife. So he's been being prepared for quite a long time by her & we just went & talked to him to insure he'd been taught everything. Sure enough, he had. Another baptism, handed to us. But who am I to complain?

Everything in Edson is going quite well. Love you all. Take Care!

Love,
Elder Bettilyon

[As I continued my mission, I decided that every baptism was really handed to me. I'm sure I was never smart enough to say the right things by myself to get someone (even someone who is seeking) to understand the truth of the gospel. I was just in the places the Lord needed a missionary and tried to not mess the process up too badly. The Lord knew whom he wanted in His church, and He was preparing them long before I thought about going on a mission.]

3 Nov 1997 - From Edson

Dear Family,

If you can't tell yet by the change of adress, I got transferred! [some garbage I've already presented below...]

There is a little branch here, the Edson Branch. Which consists of about 60 families. 53 of which (or more) are less active. So there's A LOT of LA work, and a lot of non-member work to do. The B. kids are scheduled for baptism on 5 Nov (wednesday) But nothing's for sure 'till you get my next letter. I told them I'd call on Wednesday after the baptism. Sister B. bawled; well, cried a little, when I said bye to them. [After how corny a greenie I'd been they were probably tears of joy, sheesh...]. S., the 8 year old, when I was to baptize, got quite sad, also. Elder O. will be up on Wednesday, though [ to Lethbridge], for zone conference, and he will baptize them. Elder L. will confirm S.

But I'm not in Lethbridge anymore, I'm in Edson. I must say, I was shocked when I got called to get trasnferred, and I'm now just starting to get over the shock.

I'm not really sure what's going on yet here, but I'll know soon enough, then you'll know too!

Love, Elder Bettilyon

31 Oct 1997 -- Bus ride to Edson

The special transfer was an interesting change in my mission. The day before the bus ride, on 30 Oct, I was sitting with my zone leader, Elder S. in a Personal Priesthood Interview and I was explaining to him that I just didn't feel like I'd be comfortable becoming the missionary I wanted to be until I ws transfered into a new area. I had cut my teeth in Lethbridge, but felt like the other Elders knew me and understood me as a newbie, or a greenie, and I didn't know how to break out of those stereotypes. I really felt ready to move on to a new area and start fresh again and try to be a missionary 'on my own.'



Just after we finished that portion of the discussion, the phone rang, Elder S. answered and it was a call from the Assistants to the President. They told Elder S. that I was getting moved to a new area by Edmonton, AB. Pretty coincidental that a special transfer was needed and President decided I was the Elder to move.



For those who don't know, transfers in missions happen when new missionaries come out and departing misionaries go home. Inevitably, those changes stir up other companionships, and 1/2 or 1/3 of the mission usually ends up being transfered. Special transfers happen only when something seriously wrong or pressing occurs and the President can't wait for the next transfer date to move the affected missionaries around. This was such a case. The missionaries in Edson had been disobedient, or gotten into some sort of really bad situation that became necessary for Elder C. to get transferred and switch places with me. I never did find out what they/he were doing, but it was an interesting situation to happen in to.



Here's the map of Lethbridge to Edson:




View Larger Map



One funny detail. I remember stoping at the bus depot in Calgary, AB. It was halloween, and a few of the people were dressed up. Some may have wondered if I was dressing up as a misionary, I wondered. I saw a woman about 60 years old walking through the bus depot with brown paper taped around her body, legs, and arms with black lines drawn in circles around her. She announced that she was a tornado, sweeping through the bus station. What an eclectic experience to have had.

30 Oct 1997 -- Special Transfer!!

Dear Fam;

Here's some letters 'n stuff that's about due time sent home. There's a CD somewhere in there of the SLCC [salt lake community college] choir if you'd like to listen to it. Other than that, it's pretty much "confidential" if you know what I mean.

[not sure what I meant by confidential. As for the CD, it was choral music I'd sung the year before I started my mission. I don't think any was bad, but it did not fall within the very specific mission guidelines].

I'm sending it b/c I'm getting a special transfer to Edmonton. I'm not sure what the circumstances are, but I'm off & I found out only 17 hrs. before I am to be on the bus, so I'm as surprized as you! Transfer day is sitll two weeks away!

Sure do love ya!

Elder Bettilyon

27 Oct 1997

Dear Fam --

Well shoot, there goes another month. October is going to be over on Friday; it had just barely started I thought.

We had some fun yesterday. Elder Robbins of the 70 came down and organized the Lethbridge West stake. I suppoe that's some gossip....

Anyhow, remember D.F.? She was committed for baptim & she uncommitted herself? Well, she asked to hear the discussions again. Hopefully she will follow through. Though she's what we call an eternal gator [eternal invetigator i.e. someone who never decides to commit to be baptized but never stops the missionaries from coming over. Sometimes just having someone listen helped me feel like I was being successful though in hindsight I think not spending time at this particular home would have been a good thing.] She seems to have had a change of heart, and is sincere, so we are hoping she won't bail out on us like she so often has.

But when the buffegins of Satan comes to keep her from the baptism, we hope she will not shrivel up & die. We will make sure she has sufficient strength to oversome atan. She will get sick, and she will get stressed. But she can overcome.

T. and S. B. are scheduled for baptism on Nov 5. That will be exciting to see. They've been through 13 sets of msionaries. T. the father, is working on his WOW problem [not world of warcraft, Word of Wistom]. And MJ, the mom, is working through the Bishop.

I do have somewhat to say concerning another subject, though. (Sounds like it's straight from the BofM). As for the family's relationshi to J. [my promissed girlfriend], I do not know, but let me tell you how I'm feeling. I do not know who I am to wed. My Patriarchal Blessing says o prayerfully chooe a wife after my mission. Not before, or not during, but after. I am not upet, but just wanted to clarify this. Please do not stray from it, or begin to rationalize from it. Do not say that there is a chance I could marry her b/c I've given her a promise ring, do not say I'll never talk to her again.

(I'm not angry, just wanting to clarify my point).

Hope all else is well. Elder L. is from Price, Utah, his mother is also an RN; she worked graveyards for 30 years in the Emergency Room and is now working home health. She enjoys it much, much more.

L. loves to hunt, & talk abt. motorcycles, so I'm learning a bit abt. bikes!

Love you,

Elder Bettilyon

[Appears that some of my doubts about my relationship with J. finally started coming out here. I think they had been brewing for quite a while.]

20 Oct 1997 - The Drunken Discussion

Dear Family,

Hope all is well. Thank you so much for the package. It was well received. We, Elder L. and I, had quite a time packing it back from the Post Office! Actually, there's a wonderful story to tell about packing it back.

We were almost home and I was carrying the blanket, Elder L. was carrying everything else in his bag. Anyhow, an old contact yelled out her window to us as we walked by the door. "How come you don't come by and visit me anymore!?!?" We had actually tried that morning, but we were happy to go back. So we went in the house and four native [as in Native American Indian] ladies were sitting around a kitchen table and were drunker than skunks! One kept passing out, one wanted to be baptized. One praised Jesus, but wouldn't stop yelling, the last, the original contact, just sort of sat there. We taught most of a 1st [discussion] to 'em and committed them to baptim on Nov 1st. Lo and Behold, they've missed all of our appts. since then, huh? But when we finished the prayer, they all yeled "AMEN" "PRAISE JESUS!" "HALLELUJAH!" And crossed themselves. When we pulled out Christ's picture on the flipchart, they all started to bawl. The one who wanted to be baptized was saying she was a sinner & had to stop drinking alcohol so she could be baptized. She said "Mormons make good people." She was a homeless RN; I feel for her, but , hey, I'll baptizer whenever she's ready. :)

[I remember this experience quite well in hindsight. The worst part is I really believed they wanted to get baptized and that behind the alcohol, somewhere, they really were sincere. How silly of me. I guess we see what we want to see sometimes, and I remember really wanting a lot of baptism commitments. I even reported the four commitments to the ZL but he never did report them as genuine commitments, I think].

Also, the B. kids are scheduled for baptism on Nov 5th. It shold be wonderful. We've been working w/them for quite a long time, so it'll be very good to see them baptized. Also A., another member of the family, 13, who'se a member, will be getting the priesthood around the same time. Sis. V. needs to go through [some repentance process]. But she'll be baptized one day.

13 Oct 1997 - Canadian Thanksgiving


Looks like I missed a week in there. Thanksgiving in Canada:

Dear Family,

I hope things are well with you all down there. Today is THANKSGIVING in CAnada. Pretty cool, eh? I really don't have any idea why Thanksgiving is today, and not November, but, hey, that's life, eh? We're having dinner with the G family. I hope you enjoyed the pictures, if they aren't any in this letter, there will be more coming.

Thanx for the FAX, Dad, it was good to get another Letter after a week or so.

Well, we're quite short of investigators right now. The B's are getting a bit nervous now, but we will see what happens. MJ (mom) and AJ (oldest son, already baptized) came to church yesterday. (also two weeks ago they came). MJ was x'd, but she is quite sincere about rejoining. AJ's 12 yrs old & been baptized. T is 9 or 10 and is not reading or praying...we'll keep working w/ him. & Sam. She is 8 & reads & has prayed about the Book of Mormon. She's ready to be baptized. & T. He's the Dad. I don't know what is keeping him from joining. He has a Word of Wisdom problem, but he is a strong-willed person. I know he could break his habits. We will, of course, continue working with them. They have progressed a lot. So, I will give them some credit. Actually, they were my first discussion. After my first Dinner Appointment, we went to their place, & watched a video, & Elder O. talked to them for awhile while I almost fell asleep. What a crazy day that was. My first day in Lethbridge. Wow.

There's not much else to say right now, 'cept thanks for talking w/ C [an inactive friend at home] and that J's birthday is coming up on Dec 5th. She'll be twenty-two.

P.S. enclosed is a pic. of the Alberta temple. Found in Cardston, Alberta. Lovely, isn't it? (This is before the remodel. Search on google and you'll see some pretty nice newer ones.)

A mention of J requires a little more information. I had dated her before my mission for 6 months or so. After being counseled in Priest's quorum for 2 years to not get steadily involved with any girls prior to departing for missionary service, I had finally gotten 'clean' and was planning on staying that way. (Just a nice way of saying that a girl I really liked dumped me, really). Then one day in choir at SLCC, she slides over to me and says "do you want to go to they symphony with me this Friday?" How could I say no to free tickets to the Utah Symphony! Turns out her father played in it and they had some really great seats, so we went and enjoyed dinner with her parents and then went to the symphony. Our relationship blossomed, oddly, since I didn't want it to...but faling in love with love is something that's easy to do as Ella Fitsgerald sings it. J decided to serve on a geneaology church service mission at the same time I was serving, so we were trying to enjoy our missions together. I will have to fish out a few journal entries that talk about her, it will add a fun element.

Anyway, as I departed on my mission, I have J a 'promise ring.' I think that we both deciphered this ring to mean something different, and my family was just as confused as I was. I was pretty sure the ring meant that J would wait for me and we would continue our relationship after the missions were served and see what happened. Silly of me to think that a relationship could stay static for 2 years.

29 SEP 1997 -- Cranbrook, BC

Dear Family,

I hope all is well with everybody! I'm sure it is, and I'm guessing that Mom and H. are both in school now, meaning that Dad is the only oe left who is not attending school. I hope you don't feel too left out, dad; I'm sure you don't -- I'm sure that you're having a fun enough time switching jobs -- or trying to switch, or trying to find one to switch to.
[not sure where this job switching line came from, my Dad was employed at the same place when I got home as when I wrote this letter. Hmm...]

Anyhow, I'm having fun -- The zone leaders decided that it was my turn to go on zone tour. So Elder S. and I took off for Cranbrook, British Columbia [the SW corner of the Canada Calgary Mission, as chance would have it] on Friday, 26 Sept, and I'm having a wonderful time. My temporary comp. is Elder G who came out last transfer (been in the field 1.5 - 2 weeks). He's from somewhere in Oregon, don't know quite where, though.

We had an interesting experience yesterday. A fellow named S.A. was baptized. He lives out in the woods and is a farmer. Well, I suppose that when he was baptized, he wanted to keep his traditions as a "woods man," if you will, and was baptized in a lake! I took several shots of the lake; it was gorgeous. But that day, I learned why we have fonts .... reverence. Nobody dressed up for the occaion, main fact, some peopke dressed immodestly - and the confirmation was at his father's house -- And before the confirmation, he asked his brother to read some poetry, which was also quite inappropriate. : it was an interesting experience, that is for sure.

Anyhow, we're just having a dandy 'ol time in Cranbrook, and we're just havin a dandy 'ol time bringing souls to Christ. Take care, love you all.

[The zone tour is where the zone leader tours the zone and meets with each elder or at least most of the elders and makes sure they're doing okay, trains, comforts, builds up, that sort of thing. It was a chance for me to molt my greenie skin from my trainer and figure out who I was without his guidance -- it was that for both Elder G and myself, I imagine. Elder G. and I developed a friendship that existed throughout the mission from this 1 - 2 week stay in Cranbrook.]

22 SEP 1997

Dear Family,

Well, it seems like everything is going well at home right now, which is good to hear. Things are going quite well out ehre, except for those two baptismal commitments which fell through, but that is what a mission is all about. [Pretty sure I meant dealing with people who make saddening decisions, not failing to baptize people.] I haven't told you what happened with them yet [actually I did in the last letter, so I'm skipping that part]....What is really stupid about D'd denial of the truth is she is stopping her children from progressing. She has two children who are ready to be baptized, and all 4 of her children loved us, and she decided, "No...I've just got some things I've got to work out first." [seems pretty clear the anti-mormon literature did the trick. I never did feel like I developed a good strategy for combating it].

But, people are under the plan of Free Agency. They are free to choose; which can be rather unfortunate sometimes, because people don't always make the correct choices.

But, there is another family we are working with right now that is progressing rather well. One child is baptized, the other two are not...But the parents are doing uiqte well. M.J., the mother, wanted a priesthood blessing. The family moved to a different location in the ward a hile ago & she was/is getting very stressed out. So Elder O annointed & I Blessed. It was an awesome experienced. The Spirit told me everything I was supposed to say to her, so I said it, and we all knew the words I spake were from Heavenly Father. That was a good feeling.

Also, I did receive the socks and cookies, and thank you so much for them, I do so appreciate them.

Everything is going well, and I do love to hear from you all.

[Giving this blessing was a pretty important milestone for me. I remember that I gave a blessing or two in the MTC that were also very spiritual experiences, but this one felt very Spiritually poignant to the situation and to myself. It was pretty Spiritually satisying for me to know that I could function as a priesthood holder successfully in this capacity.]

15 SEP 1997

Dear Family,

I hope all is well; haven't heard from some of you in a while, but the ladies are doing great! (As in, the ladies in the famiy are great at writing). I love all the wonderful letters, and am thankful for them.

The mission life is going well, I'm settling in quite well adn am starting to have a "sound mind" about the work -- gaining some confidence here & there, obtaining the word so that my tongue can be loosed (D&C 11:21).

The baptism when well, thought I think I already wrote home about that. The next marvelous thing I acquired after the baptism was a very mean sprained ankle. Twisted while playing ball last week. It's bruised up quite beautifully & my favorite part about having the injury is accepting advice from so many different people: "Wrap it up like this" or "Don't walk on it!" or "Walk it off" or "ice it" or "let's play basketball" or "don't let it tighten up." So many decisions.....*sigh* -- not really, it's doing better, it'll just take a little time.

As for current investigators, we ran into some people the other day who were ...[nervous]...about what happens after death, she said she'd never ahd a religion before, but wanted to learn more, we'll see what we can teach her! [sad part is I can't even remember who this letter is referring to!] I suppose the most difficult investigators would be D & D. Don't get me wrong, I love both of them to death, but we had committed both of them to baptism, and then they were anti-ed. [which means that someone shared some anti-LDS literature with them -- generally very emotionally-based and pretty inflammatory stuff]. I don't know what materials were used on them, but now they've uncomitted themselves themselves. D's data was the 16th (tomorrow), but we will recommit her; and D's is the 21st; which could still happen, but I don't think so, b/c we still haven't taught her the 4th D (Law of Chastity and [Word of Wisdom]), and she smokes a bit & drinks a little coffee; we will see, though. ...

We are having more luck w/ less-actives right now, though. Helping a Bro C to stop smoking so he can be sealed, and other L.A. couples to attend the temple again. There's always work to do!

Love you all!

Sep 6, 1997

Elder Bettilyon
#102
855 Columbia Boulvard
Lethbridge, AB Canada
T1K-5B8


Dear Family,

I hope you all enjoyed general conference. I know I did, It’s something I’ve not really experienced to it’s fullest until I came out on my mission. Appreciating the /Brethren is so much easier, and enjoyable, now. I had a fun time in Cranbrook, BC with Elder Griffith, we worked hard, and we did some good work. I helped them commit an 8 year old for baptism (whose parents are very less-active). Also, we got another family to come out to church who had stopped coming, which was good.

Mother, it sounds as if all the time you’ve put in to becoming an RN has paid off. You sound happy, things are starting to Jell, and, well, that’s about it. I guess. I haven’t worn my CTR socks yet, but it hasn’t been cold enough yet! I don’t know what the usual temperature is here, but it’s been a bit nippy lately. The wind is what makes it nippy. But, alas, it is all for the good. It would normally be colder right now, except “El Nino” is making the weather quite warmer. So, I’m lucky this year to not get so cold. I was getting nervous that the winter clothes wouldn’t work out, but I think they will. I was going to have to spent A LOT of money, except my coats & boots & gloves, so far, I’m guessing will be okay. All I need is a scarf, which shouldn’t set me back too much, now should it?

I have changed a lot – in my countenance, I think. In Cranbrook & on the way back from Cranbrook to Lethbridge, I grew a lot. Elder [S…], my Zone leader, who goes home in a month, talked to me about always being a builder, never tearing anyone down, and we talked about husbands not loving their wives, but being selfish. Somewhere, I grew enough to have a rather dramatic change in my appearance. Happier, beaming eyes, smiling; Elder [H…] said, “Bettilyon, you look different!” When we got back to Lethbridge. ([H…] leaves to go home in a week or two & is my other ZL). I can see myself looking different, and you can, perhaps, see what I mean in some of these pictures I’ll send home today!

Also, we’re continuing to work with the [B…] famly. The children look like they’ll be baptized by the end of October. […], the youngest girl, prays for me every night, and that my ankle will get better. Her prayers, along with yours, have & are being answered. My ankle is doing quite well. I have some wonderful pictures enclosed of it’s bruising. It should be wonderful.

Also, the pic’s w/ the Children are at the …’s house. I love those kids, & the parents have just started on the non-smoking program, so we’ll be going over there continually for a while. It should be lovely.

Oh yes, as for the [B…]’s whom I forgot to write about: T and MJ are coming around quite well, also. T knows it’s true, but I don’t think he wants to admit it b/c he is afraid of quitting smoking & coffee. He has nothing to fear, for “God will provide a way, and when there is no way, God will provide a way.” -- Hinckley. And Also 2 Timothy 1:7-8. “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of pwer, and of love, and of a sound mind.” T will do okay.

I love you, and look forward to your letters!

Elder Bettilyon


[pretty clear I was completely fascinated by the idea presented in Alma 5 enought to fill a page about it. I remember wondering if I truly had received His image in my countenance as Alma asks in this chapter, really hoping that I had.]

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