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!


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
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].

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