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
855 Columbia Boulvard
Lethbridge, AB Canada

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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