Monday, December 29, 2014

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas Miracle for Elder Bates

 Written by Sister Reynolds

On Tuesday, December 23, 2014, we learned from our Zone Leaders, that one of the Elders in our Zone was not going to be receiving any Christmas presents from his family on Christmas Day because of a little snafu at the Mission Home.  

Because Elder Reynolds and I were so upset at the thought of this Elder being so disappointed at such a tender time of the year -- and also in a new Mission area for him -- we had considered driving to Edinburgh early today to pick up Elder Bates' presents and find a way to get them to him by Boxing Day at the very least, since the Zone Leaders thought it might even be the seventh of January before they could get them to him.  

However, that hope was dashed when the young family we were going to spend Christmas Eve with tonight called us late last night to tell us that they had to move our Christmas Eve dinner with them up from 7:00 p.m. in the evening to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon because the Bishop of our Ward had asked them to help with a service project for the Ward at 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve.  Once we heard that, we knew that we wouldn't be able to get to Edinburgh and back in time to still make the dinner appointment with this family by 3:00 today. 

Even though I knew it was fruitless to even still try to figure out a way to get this Elder his Christmas presents, I still thought about this situation most of the night last night (so I didn't sleep very well)!  

When we got up this morning, I finally had another idea -- not an idea of how to get his "real" presents to him (I had finally given up on that) but an idea to just get at least ONE present to him so he'd have something to open on Christmas morning.  

With this new thought in mind, I asked Elder Reynolds if he had the phone number for the Bishop in Inverness (which is this Elder's new area).  My thought was that we could contact that Bishop and see if he and his Ward could put together something to give this Elder on Christmas morning.  

Elder Reynolds said that he didn't have the Bishop's phone number, and so I asked him to call one of our YSA's (Curtis Goldstraw) who was once the Ward Clerk for the Inverness Ward.  (Interestingly, had I remembered that I could access that number on the online Church Directory through, I would have totally short-circuited the eventual miracle that happened regarding the delivery of these presents, as we would never have called Curtis!)

Curtis -- thankfully -- answered his phone!  (Most YSA's just send you back a text, instead of actually speaking with you!)  Jim explained the problem; and Curtis said that he was in Edinburgh, but would call the Bishop and see what help he could get rolling for Elder Bates.   Elder Reynolds said that was great, hung up the phone.  To which I said, -- "Did you just say that Curtis is in Edinburgh???  Well, call him back and see if he IS going back to Inverness tonight and if there is a possibility that HE could take Elder Bates' presents to him if the Mission Home can connect with him today."  

So, Elder Reynolds got back on the phone and asked him if he would be willing to take the presents back to Inverness with him if he was going back home tonight, and if the Mission Home could get them to him while he was in Edinburgh.  Curtis answered, "Yes" to all of those questions, so Elder Reynolds said he would call the Mission Home and see if they could get the presents to Curtis, since Curtis wasn't familiar with Edinburgh and had no idea where the Mission Home was or how to get there.

Elder Reynolds then called the Mission Home and got hold of Sister Ferguson, who is the Mission Home Secretary.  She told Elder Reynolds that it had been her fault that the presents got misdirected in the first place (they were sent with the AP's to Belfast last weekend.   She said she had been sick about that mistake and had been praying for a solution to the problem ever since she found out that the mix-up had happened. She also said that the presents had just arrived back at the Mission Home from Belfast last night.  

Elder Reynolds gave her Curtis' phone number so she could find out exactly where to send the AP's with the presents.  Long story short, when he called both parties back a few minutes later, the hand-off had been arranged; and the presents were on their way to Curtis and his Mom.

When I found out that Elder Bates was actually going to receive his presents, I just bawled, because I knew that the Lord was aware of all of us.  He was aware of Sister Ferguson, who had made the mistake in the first place, and who had been praying for days to find a way to rectify it -- something that couldn't be done until the presents were actually back to the Mission Home.  He was aware of Elder Reynolds and me, as we had also been praying for a solution to the problem for a day and a half.  He was aware of the Zone Leaders who also felt bad that Elder Bates wasn't going to get his gifts, but who felt they could do nothing to fix the problem.  AND he was aware of Elder Bates, who thought he wasn't going to get any Christmas presents from his family on Christmas because of the snafu, since Sister Ferguson had called him yesterday to give him that news.  The other folks the Lord was aware of were Elder Bates' parents and family who would feel really bad to know that their son and brother didn't get the gifts that they had lovingly purchased for him and sent to him for Christmas.  

The other unique information that tells me just how much the Lord was into the details of this solution to Elder Bates'  "Present Problem" was that when we got to the Shellhouses this afternoon at 3:00 p.m., the Dad got a phone call within just a few minutes of our arrival saying that the service project which had necessitated pushing our get-together earlier in the day had just been called off.  Had we not thought we needed to be to the Shellhouse's early, we most certainly would have made a needless trip down to Edinburgh today to pick up the presents the Lord already had a plan in mind to deliver.  We would have gone down to get them, and -- because we didn't have time to actually get Elder Bates' presents as far as Inverness tonight (or even tomorrow) Elder Bates still would NOT have had his presents for Christmas.  

We had a plan put together by a couple of mortals, BUT -- the Lord had a plan put together by a God, who knew that Curtis and his Mother would be in Edinburgh today; that the presents would be back at the Mission Home today; and that He could plant a thought in my head to try to get Elder Bates "A" present for Christmas, after which I would ask Elder Reynolds to call Curtis!!  (Thus, with God, even the impossible -- getting those presents to Elder Bates tonight, so he would have them for Christmas Day -- wasn't impossible.)  

So, there you have it -- a genuine, real live, Christmas Miracle!!

Love, Sister and Elder Reynolds

YSA Senior Missionaries

Aberdeen Stake

Aberdeen, Scotland


Christmas Eve 2014

December 22, 2014 Skype!

Sounds like a good old fashioned Bates Family Christmas!!

I'm glad you got my package! I'm very glad you enjoyed it so much! I'd love to answer any questions you have during the Skype. I can totally picture Marie dancing around the lawn with my package hahaha

I'm glad Makayla's papers are in. That's so cool! She's gonna love it!

Okay, so this is the information I know about SKYPE. On Christmas Day we're hanging out with one family from 9:30 till 12. Then we're going  with the Clark family from 3 to 9. They're the ones I'm going to be doing Skype with. I'll try to Skype with you starting between 4 and 6 our time. I'll email you before I get on Skype so you can be ready. Our phones can't call or text outside of the UK. I'll just email you when I want to Skype, so keep your phone handy and the wifi ready!  If you guys have any questions, I'm happy to answer them! But I also want to hear from YOU!!! ALL of you! I won't be satisfied if all I do is talk the entire 40 minutes! Hahaha  Sound good?

Well, I would tell you about Inverness, but I'll save it for Skype, fair enough? Just know that it is beautiful!! AND FREEZING!!! 

Anyways, can't wait to talk with you!!!! AAAHHH!  Love you!!! I'll be seeing you soon!! Give M a big birthday hug for me!! LOVE YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!
Elder Bates

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 15, 2014 Guess where I'm going?

Hello! How are things?

I am being transferred. And yes, I'm very sad to be leaving Cumbernauld literally a week before Christmas. Wednesday is actually the Ward Christmas party! I'm missing it! James Cowie is going to be Santa. I'd have loved to see that. I'm going to miss those guys, but especially the kids. I loved those little kids! You want to know something? We got the call right after this Stake Christmas Truce show. I told Sister Black, the wife of the Bishop, and a bunch of other members. Anyhow, so little Ben Black comes running up to me and is like "You're leaving! No!" Oh, I just melted. We're having dinner with them tonight, so I'll have a proper goodbye with him then. It's so sad! Don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to Inverness, but I'm going to miss Cumbernauld Ward.

Last week you asked for a play-by-play on my week. So I took extra care to write in my journal as much as I could about the week!


So today was a really great day. A Five Guys opened up in downtown Glasgow!! Us and the Airdrie Elders met up there and bought our burgers. We weren't the only ones with this idea in mind! By the time our food arrived, there were at least 12 missionaries at the restaurant! Oh it was so good!! It was an American burger! They must've shipped the meat from America, because it was NOT a British burger! Elder Hanson had to pay nearly fifteen pounds to get a bacon cheeseburger and some fries and a drink!! We realized that he'd spent over $20!!!! It was definitely worth it, but we won't be able to go there often. We just walked around Glasgow after that. I told you about studying my patriarchal blessing, right? That night, we were going to go to James Cowie's, but he had to cancel, he had to get a tooth pulled. We moved it to Thursday.


Today was District Meeting! We had an awesome district meeting! We were talking about some really deep stuff! Basically the meat of it was that the whole purpose of life is to gain intelligence. And apparently, that and the Fall are the only things that are keeping us from becoming Gods! And we found a scripture that says that following Satan actually decreases your intelligence! How crazy is that! So on our way home after that, Brother McDonald invited us over for dinner! Our train was running late, so we arrived just in time! Then we went to Ward Council, and finally went home! So a good day! Oh, and I've been keeping track and today was day number 160 on my mission!


We went by an AUF, and then had to high-tail it back to the Church building for Ward Choir Practice! After practice, this one member gave Elder Hanson and I some microwave meals! We were very glad to get those, because our oven wasn't in good shape. Anyhow, these "meals" were really in British proportion, not American. It was soooooooo small! But it was filling. So throughout the day we thought it was snowing! But then we realized it was hail. But then I felt it and I realized it wasn't really hail, it was just really really compact snow!! Like a cross between snow and hail. So was it snowing or hailing? Hmmmmm...


Thursdays are Weekly Planning days, so the entire first half of the day is spent in the flat. And thank goodness for that!! It was snowing like crazy!!! I haven't seen snowfall like that since Chicago!!! It was a complete blizzard!! We usually have Bridy, but she'd cancelled. So that night was dinner at the Foots. They had to end early, so we had an extra half hour before James. We spent it finishing up weekly planning with a Point thirteen. Ask Marie about what that is. James was great! He made us soup! I Love James. We're meeting with him tonight! I'll hopefully be able to say goodbye to him then. 


We worked at the Salvation Army for a while. They had us working on their books. We would take any tattered or worn books and put them in a box for shipping. It was kinda fun. Then we worked a little bit on our talks for Sunday. We both gave talks. After that we went by a couple of AUF's. Neither of them were in. 


We had a surprise Flat inspection! We were just getting some lunch when we got the call that they were on their way. We rushed back to the flat, cleaned up.  We passed! We weren't too organized looking, but yeah. We were good. And the Brownings (they're the senior couple that does flat checks) brought me your package!! The one that says don't open before December 1st! It was the thirteenth, but oh well! I loved it! Thanks for bringing us cheer! We loved it! 


So today was Moves Call. We both gave talks in Sacrament meeting. I spoke on Sharing the Gospel. I quoted from this talk by Elder Oaks of the same name. Then I talked about Ammon and Amulek and their examples of sharing the gospel. I picked up on something I haven't before! So after the servants of King Lamoni brought the arms to him, it says he was astonished at Ammon's power. But then when the servants told him that he was feeding the King's horses, it says that he was even MORE astonished!! More astonished than all the arms!! And I know a bit about warfare and swords, and I can tell you that it takes great strength and skill to slice off arms, but this King was more astonished that Ammon was so faithful than his fighting skills. So cool! So after church we had a dinner/lunch appointment with the McGregors. I love their kids! Ollie is the youngest, he's three. He's so energetic! It's awesome! And no one can understand him haha. So after that we had to get a bus to go to Glasgow. The Christmas Devotional was showing that night at the Glasgow Stake Center, and they were also doing a presentation on the Christmas Truce. So we got off the bus in downtown Glasgow and we were heading for the Train station when we were stopped by this woman passing out flyers to this Church Christmas Choir that was going on at the same time as the stuff we were going to. She was trying really hard to make us go to her thing instead. She wanted to show us the building it was in, but when we arrived, she tried to get us to go in. Oh all the side comments that were coming from her! It just makes my blood boil! As I was thinking about it, I made a promise to myself to never be that kind of missionary. I'm going to be respectful of others' time and religion for one. And if I leave someone with something to think about, it'll be something positive, like "Think about all the great things God has done" or whatever. Not "Think about your leadership." Yeah that's what she said. "Okay, I'll think about it. Hmmm... Twelve Apostles... And Prophets... Why does that sound so familiar!?" Anyways, we arrived at the Stake Center just in time for Elder Eyring's talk. But we couldn't go into the chapel because the place was absolutely filled!!! I've never seen that place with so many people!!! It was awesome! The Truce program was pretty good too. We stood outside while we got our calls. Elder Hanson was told he was staying in Cumbernauld with an Elder Rogers. Then he gave the phone to me and went inside. President told me that I'm going tooooooooo.......


Know where that is? NEITHER DO I!!! First thing President told me about the area is that it is absolutely beautiful! I'm serving with Elder Wells. Elder Fassold loves that guy, so I think it should be great! Elder Wells is the District Leader. I'll be the Assistant to the District Leader! The "Power behind the Throne", if you will. Mwahahaha!! Apparently that zone covers Loch Ness, and it's tradition for every elder to take a drink from Loch Ness! So if I see Nessie I'll be sure to shoot a pic for ya!

So that was my week! Hope you enjoyed it!

Thanks for the videos! I can't wait to watch them!

So I did find out a bit about what's going to happen next week. So next Monday I'm only going to get 1 hour for emailing, so I'm not going to respond to any family emails. I'll read them! So still send them to me! But I won't respond unless there's something important or whatever. Now as for Christmas day! You'll have to send me your Skype account username so I can Skype you from a Members place. I don't know anything about Inverness yet, so I don't know how it'll all work. I'll send you more details when I get there. They say we're limited to 40 minutes.  Can't wait!!!  So about Christmas... I sent a package for the fam to Mom and Dad last Wednesday. Hopefully it'll arrive on time! Now, I want you guys to open it BEFORE Christmas! Or at least before I skype you guys. That way, if you have any questions about what's in it, you can just ask.

I love you sooooooo much!! Can't wait to hear from you!  And see you!!  Do you realize that this week my mission is already 1/4 done!?!?!?!?!?!? AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I'm heading off to become buds with Nessie! 
Elder Bates

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014 17 more days but who's counting?

Hi ya fam!

Not that I'm counting, or anything, but 17 more days until we talk!!!  This is going to be a very exciting couple of weeks!!!! 

I had a great week this week! I'm feeling 98% normal now! No more sickness for me! I'm excited to hear from you and to see you! We met with Bridy, James, Margaret, and Billy this week! That was really fun! On Monday we met with James for the first time in months! That was very exciting! On Tuesday, after District Meeting, I went on an Exchange with Elder Fassold. What an awesome guy! We had a great time, and we both said we'd love to serve together some day. He thinks it's going to happen! I hope so! He's a great missionary. He's really short haha he got a package from the YW of his home ward! The ironic thing is his parents moved to a new ward so he doesn't know any of them! We had dinner with the Foots for the first time in forever. (Oh great, now that song's in my head...) They were on holiday (or on vacation in American) in Turkey! Also, Saturday was that big Missionary Christmas choir! They performed at the Glasgow Stake Center, and they were really good! I got to meet up with Elder Livingstone (he was in my MTC group), and I also finally met my "brother", Elder Johnson. It was a good concert. I'll have to sign up next year. So funny story! At church on Sunday, I made a mistake and accidentally wore my blue trousers with my black suit coat!!!! It looked awful!! Luckily nobody said anything (except for Bishop, but that's only because Elder Hanson told him). Because of that, I was determined not to go up to the stand to bear my testimony, but I kept thinking of "I am not ashamed of the gospel", so I did. Oh! And I got four letters this week!! Two were from you! One was a card, the other was a Dear Elder.  The others were from the Bullard's and Bro. Cratch!  That was AWESOME!

You mentioned this book you were reading that is set in Edinburgh. All I can say is that you'd be absolutely amazed just how different people are here. Most people literally are born, live, and die in the exact same town/city. Because of that, two towns can be completely different, but only 30 minutes apart! So the people in Glasgow don't do almost any of the things you asked about, but that doesn't mean what you read isn't true.

Literally every investigator and Less Active we were working with just dropped off the radar! Some of them are trickling back, but that's why I haven't really been talking about lessons with investigators: because we haven't had any!! It's been really hard on us, we've been pretty discouraged. But things are going better, so that's good.  My Comp's Dad has cancer and has been going through some serious treatment lately. Last I heard he's pulled out all right, but you can tell it's really weighing on him.

We've been sharing the He is the Gift video with everyone. If you haven't seen that video, watch it! It's really good!  President Brown is ecstatic about it!  We love the cards! We're handing them out as much as we can and we're supposed to report how many people contact us because of them and such. We've been sharing the video with every member we go by! They like it! Love it, actually.


But don't be too excited. It was the kind of snow where it snows and rains at the same time. It just went right through you. Not fun. But it looked great from our window! I've never felt this cold in my life! Even when I almost got frostbite on Mount Rainier on a camping trip, it wasn't like this. This is bitter cold. Biting cold. But you know what? Beautiful Wife Points! They're adding up!! 

That reminds me of your question about Christmas in Scotland. Most people I talk to love Christmas just as much as we do. But you NEVER see any Christmas lights. There'll maybe be that one house on the block, but usually there isn't a single light. So I really don't know! There are decorations all over the Town Center (I'll have to take a picture. It's pretty sweet), but maybe five total homes with lights for the entire town of Cumbernauld. But everyone has a tree.

Keep reading the Book of Mormon! It's great! And read your Patriarchal Blessing too! I did on Sunday and it was a great experience! Write down your thoughts and questions that come into your mind while you read it. Any thought and question! It was really great doing that. That's my spiritual homework for you guys. Due next week. I want an essay. Don't worry, you'll be graded on a curve. ;)

Love you guys so much! I can't wait to skype with you guys!! Luv ya! I love you so much! I've been very trunky lately, but that's Christmas for a missionary! Thanks for your love and emails! I am soooooooo grateful that I had such a great childhood! Thank you!
Elder Bates

Monday, December 1, 2014

Elder Hanson with our Tree


December 1, 2014 It's December!

Hello Fam!

It's December! 24 days until I speak with all of ya! So exciting!!!  I also thought it'd be cool if you guys could have me on your laptop and you hold me while you run down the stairs on Christmas morning hahahaha I dunno if that's possible, but I thought that'd be cool :)

Well this week has been unfortunate sprinkled with a few moments of awesomeness. The entire time I've been sick with a horrible throat. Coughing all over the place. I was feeling particularly crummy on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm feeling much better now, but I'm still coughing a lot. I hear Claire isn't doing so hot either! Poor girl.  I'll pray for ya, Claire!

We also didn't get to pass out any Book of Mormons this week. No "biters", as I put it, so all week we just went by AUF's and did "ten-a-side", or chap ten doors each side of the door. But yeah, no biters yet. A nibble here and there maaaaaaybe but no bites.  

What a great talk Dad sent! I hope we all can stay grateful! A missionary has to remain grateful to stand through all the rejections, and being grateful in your prayers reminds you what you have to be thankful for! Thanks for sharing that Dad! :)

We had a Dinner Appointment with the Greers on Thursday, but we weren't sure if they knew about Thanksgiving. So on Wednesday we quickly bought a full chicken and cooked that up for dinner with some potatoes and veggies. Also whipped up a little gravy. It wasn't bad, though the chicken was a little dry. Then on Thanksgiving proper, we went over to the Greers, and turns out, they did know about Thanksgiving! They served us almost the EXACT SAME meal!! Of course, it was much more tasty, particularly the potatoes. Man, those potatoes were really good! But yeah, good family. They're the ones that have two sons age 16 and 18. They're both in college, so can't come out with us anymore, but they're good kids. So that was our thanksgiving! If there's anything I missed, it was Mom's rolls!!!! Ohhhhhhhh I miss those rolls.... Oh, and you guys too. I miss you guys.  I'm glad Thanksgiving was so fun! I loved the pictures, they looked like you guys had a great time! I wish you could send me rolls in your packages, but obviously that's impossible haha. When I come home, I hope there's a whole mountain of rolls waiting for me!!! Lol

We put up our tiny tree last night, I'll send you guys a pic when I can.

Anyhow, none of our appointments kept. Both Bridy and James could only meet with us on Friday, but Friday was Zone Interview Training, or ZIT. So they cancelled on us. Shame. James came to church though! Gave us two huge grocery bags full of treats!! Good ol James, keeping us fed.

So, ZIT! ZIT is where we're personally interviewed by the President and have a lot of talks from the AP's and ZL's. It was a really good meeting! Afterwards I went on an exchange with Elder Yates, my new District Leader. We had a good time. Gordon took us out for lunch at McDonalds! We tried this new burger, the winter burger. Then we helped Gordon with his talk. 

I'm sure I've mentioned helping Gordon with his talk before? He's been working on it for months, with a lot of help from us missionaries. He was VERY nervous about it! Well, he finally gave his talk yesterday!! It was really good! We were so proud of him! He was soooooooo nervous! I was sitting up on the stand because we were blessing sacrament yesterday, and I could just see how nervous he was! Then after Sacrament he goes up and begins to speak. Only, he wasn't speaking from the pulpit. He was speaking from the Music stand!!! It was so hilarious!!! The Bishop tapped his shoulder and directed him to the pulpit and he gave his talk. I was worried after that, but it really was a good talk! Honestly!

When you have the missionaries over this week remember, Missionaries love Dinner Appointments! Feed them lots of food! 

Well, that's me, I'm afraid. Good week! Some annoyances, but overall good. I'm glad you guys had a great Thanksgiving! I really missed you this week! Not that I don't other weeks, but I missed Thanksgiving with the fam! Good ol' Bingo and the Indian Names. Did you guys refer to me as Callused Knuckles? Either way, I love you so much! Thanks for the love and the packages! I'm told they're withholding all packages for Christmas, so I won't be getting anything for the next three weeks. Oh, and does Claire ever talk about any boys??? ;)

Also, I love the pictures you send, but Mom's NEVER IN THEM!! Please take a selfie or something for your son.

Keep up the good work! Can't wait for 24 days from now! Sleep tight! 
Elder Bates

Cumbernauld Elders in Kilts