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.

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!

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.

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