On January 25th the Olympic Torch Relay went through Penticton where Gretchen was serving at the time. Then on February 4th her companion (Sister B.) completed her mission and Gretchen was transferred back to Vancouver Island (this time to Courtenay). Gretchen and Sister B. worked very hard and loved the people they served in Penticton. She is now assigned to serve again with Sister W., her Missionary Training Center (MTC) companion! Below are some excerpts from her emails on January 25th and February 8th.
"Okay, so I just had one of the coolest P-day experiences of my whole mission. The Olympic Torch ran its relay through Penticton this morning and I got to be a part of it! The Salvation Army was handing out free hot chocolate and needed volunteers, so we were the first to sign up. John and Christine--two of the Majors in the Salvation Army--were helping out and really like us missionaries. They made sure we got to hold the Olympic Torch AND bought us official Olympic mittens (kind of like the berets of the 2002 SLC Olympics) AND took pictures of us by the mascots AND got shots of us next to a real Canadian Mountie! I can die happy now. I honestly never thought it would happen on my mission, but I actually met a Canadian Mountie. Coca-Cola is the sponsor for VANOC2010 and "Open Happiness" is their slogan--I thought it was cute. Anyway, it was a fantastic morning. Remember, the church IS true!"
"Hello from Courtenay! (Pronounced Courtney...I've decided that if I have three girls, I will name them Victoria, Courtenay, and Penticton....ha.) Sister W. and I are off to a rolling start in our companionship. It's like we share the same brain. Lots of laughter, lots of reminiscing about the MTC. Here's a brief example of why I love her. At one of her very first dinner appointments in Courtenay, she was giving the closing prayer and in her extremely tired state, she said, "We pray that our farts may be filled with love," when she really meant to say "hearts." Also, she loves emailing just as much as I do, so you can be grateful for that. It's been fun to see the ways that we've both grown and how our attitudes about missionary work have changed for the better. We cover the area of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland. The total population is probably around 35,000. The weather here is rainy and chilly, although spring is breaking through. The trees are all covered in moss and there is green everywhere! About 100 people come to church each week and we do have a ward. Yes, we do live in a cabin. After spending 4 months in a beautiful home, it's a bit like being kicked from the Celestial Kingdom to the Telestial Kingdom. Opposition in all things, right? When I served with Sister H., she would tell me all her Courtenay stories and I would say, 'I can't help but feel that I'm hearing these things just so I can be prepared to serve there someday myself.'"
Some fun pictures from the Olympic Torch Relay day: