Week #8 (Christmas Week)

Rather than sending an Email this week, Elder Ioannidis was able to call home. He called early Christmas Morning (6:30 am) but because of a poor telephone connection, we were only able to speak with him for 15 minutes. Next Morning was Elder Ioannidis’ P-day and he got permission to Skype us. Once again at 6:30 am we were able to speak with him. The Video part of the Skype session didn’t work but we able to converse very well.

All is well with Elder Ioannidis and he sends his love and good cheer to all. He did send a couple of nice photo of Christmas with his companions and Amis, which are now posted on the Blog.

By Robert Suranyi

Week #7

As always it is lovely to read your emails. I am so happy that you have had Christmas events to attend thus far. I am sure it was a blast at the Christmas party at work and church. 270 people, that is amazing. Something super cool that you can do at such large gatherings, is have a tour of the chapel after the main meal. You can break up the people into groups and have a tour leader for each group. You get the presidents of each auxiliary to explain a little bit about what they do. For instances the primary president would be in the primary room the whole time and explain to each group what they do there. The Bishop could be in chapel and explain about the importance of sacrament meeting and the sacrament. At the end, people learn a lot about our church and can be invited, while in the chapel, to attend church on Sunday or any other activity such as Tuesday night activities. I can imagine it being a lot of work but with some organization and delegation, it can be an effective way to teach and invite. BTW this was not my idea, I got the idea from an episode of the District, you can ask the missionaries in our ward about it. Maybe they could show that episode to you.

I have received the package you sent me. Thank you so much. I shared the cookies with all the Elders and Elder Wahlquist and I have been enjoying the chocolates. I have not read the card yet. I am going to wait till Christmas to do that. I also received a card from Grandma. I am currently in the process of sending her a letter back along with a letter to Yia Yia. I received a letter from The Newmans with 20 American dollars inside, they are way to nice. I received letters from Emily, Kim and Kassandra all from Kelowna. I also received a letter from Darren my mission prep teacher and Jacko. It was so nice to receive letters from my friends. I feel like a very well loved missionary. Some of them I am waiting to open till Christmas.

Our Amis are doing great. We have many Amis which we see regularly and they are just wonderful. Elder Wahlquist and I like to leave funny messages on their answering machines. Just yesterday we sang Christmas carols to them with a Ukelele on their answering machines. We also put on fake accents and leave them goofy messages to let them know we are thinking of them. Last night Elder Wahlquist and I went caroling. We grabbed his pink Ukelele and started knocking on doors. It was pretty cold outside but we were having a blast. One family invited us in and we left them with the Christmas DVD “Joy to the World” and they gave us chocolate. We are going to try to do a lot more caroling this week. Oh BTW we were also wearing pink ties to match the pink Ukelele.

I read a wonderful talk about being a missionary called “The Fourth Missionary”. It talks about the 4 different kinds of missionaries. I think this talk will completely change my mission and my life as I strive to become the fourth missionary. Can you passing this talk on to all my friends who are preparing to go on missions please. I would suggest that you read it too because it is truly amazing. I feel as though I am the 3rd missionary. It describes me quite well but there are a few differences and obviously you can’t really categorize everyone into 4 categories. I am striving to become the fourth missionary and I am glad their is a warning before the 4th missionary is explained in the talk. We have this incorrect thought that we will be perfect and need to be perfect. The talk explains that even the 4th missionary is not perfect and has difficulties and struggles. The biggest difference between the 4th kind of missionary and the other 3 kinds of missionaries is that the 4th missionary is changed by his mission. I am not going to explain any more then that because I want you to read the talk.

We have many Amis that are awesome. Normally we have 2 or 3 Amis who come to institute and family home evening every week. We have 2 Amis who come to church every Sunday and 2 more that are hopefully going to be coming more often. We have one Amis named Neil. Neil is amazing. He is so kind of funny. Neil is a student and speaks English as well as french. He has had us over for dinner many times and is so awesome. Neil comes to church every week, institute and family home evening. He has such a great heart and I know he wants a eternal family. Neil is just amazing and I love to teach and spend time with him. I can already imagine him as a member because he is so giving and kind. Oh BTW we were going to teach him about how to study scriptures but he showed us his scriptures and he had already been making highlights in different colours and had questions to ask. Neil is just awesome. He always says each new thing he experiences with the church, he is pleasantly surprised. Ahhh Neil he is just awesome.

Love Elder Ioannidis,

Joyeux Noel.

By Robert Suranyi

Week #6

Dear Parents and friends,

Thanks so much for the emails, I always love them. I feel like I have been very ungrateful and have not realized how amazing you are. I read your emails and see all the wonderful things you do and how giving you are. This is very important to me because it is one of my life goals to be giving. I received the package notice in the mail but have not had time to go and pick it up. I thank you very much for thinking of me.

Mom I am so happy you are keeping healthy. It is very important to exercise and you are very dedicated because it is hard at times to work out. I thank you for keeping me updated on Yiayia.
I am so happy that you are still in contact with our lovely friends, especially during the holidays.

Dad you are a super hero. I am so proud of you for helping James out. He is a great guy and needs a good role model like you. I am so happy every time I read about your acts of service along with mom. I hope you have a wonderful Birthday Dad. I love you and I can’t wait to hang out and learn more from you after my mission. I am so glad to hear you are planning something for mom and you. I hope you two will continue to grow in love and joy together. It is really the little everyday things which make the biggest difference. Elder Wahlquist stumbled upon that thought during personal study as he read the scripture “by small and simple means are great things brought to pass”.

Elder Wahlquist and I spent our whole preparation day helping a lady move. We were running up and down stairs with tables, couches and loads of stuff. The other Elders who live with us helped as well, Elder Peart and Elder Cattin. The four of us get along really really well. We have a lot of fun together. We usually cook and eat together whenever we have time and we also give service to one another. The sister missionaries were there as well and they were super stars; Soeur Fernandez and Soeur Hyrkas are amazing missionaries. It is such an honor to be serving with such valiant women. They are so kind and giving it is amazing. Soeur Hrykas was in my MTC district as well so it is awesome to be serving with her. Soeur Fernandez is the most gentle women that I have ever met. She is more chivalrous then most men, it is awesome. We worked really hard all day helping the lady move and we returned the moving truck with one minute to spare on the rental. It was almost like a scene from a movie with Elder Wahlquist and I trying to beat the clock.

This last week I went on my first exchange to a place called Montauban. It is ridiculously beautiful there. The city, which is very small, is covered in Christmas decorations and is incredible to see at night. My companion, during my exchange, was Elder Ormand. They have the nicest apartement there. His companion is Elder Fitch, who then served the day with Elder Wahlquist. Elder Fitch left funny notes on his bed and desk which I used during my exchange there. He is such a great guy. Edler Ormand is awesome. We taught a family of 9 people during my exchange, they are so awesome. We did service at the Red Cross and gave out food to those in need. Everyone who volunteers there loves and knows Elder Ormand. Everyone was like “oh there is a new guy”. It was awesome to give service and speak with the people in need, as well as, the other volunteers. We had a meal with a member family called the Dieutre Family. They were awesome to spend time with. The mom is also a seminary teacher. They have 3 kids and they made me laugh as they would annoy each other. It was really cool to spend a day in another city and teach with another Elder.

We have tons of dinner appointments for the holiday season which is amazing. I cannot believe how much food I can eat now. It is actually crazy. I eat the most food out of all the Elders in the apartment. It reminds me of High school when I used to eat my lunch and anyone else’s lunch who couldn’t finish it. I am a good Greek boy.

I want to write letters but we have been very busy. I will find time though to do so though.

You are amazing parents. I thank you so much for your good example and for raising me with good morals and values. I know as you continue to give of yourselves freely to others you will bless the lives of many. You will not only help other but you will find true happiness as well. It is difficult at times to forget ourselves but mom is someone who has that gift of selflessness. I need to work on that and lose myself in the work.

Love you all,

Elder Ioannidis

By Robert Suranyi

Week #5

Dearest parents and friends,

Thank you so much for your emails. I always get a tad emotional as I read them. I feel so grateful for you two and the amazing example you have set for me. I feel so touched that I have parents who love the lord, their children; and others.

Thanks so much for sending a package mom. That is so nice of you and I appreciate it. You are always doing kind things for others and it is something I hope to follow in your footsteps. I am so grateful you are taking care of the missionaries. I know realize what a difference it makes to have members warmly greet you when you are in a brand new ward. I can relate to the feeling that my Amis (investigators) feel when they come to church for the first time.

France is pretty cool. The transportation is awesome here. There are many buses and an awesome metro station. We pretty much walk everywhere which is wonderful. I do miss the wonderful nature that BC has to offer but I am more focused on meeting people and serving them.

Please pass on my congratulation to the Lee Wen Family. That is so exciting and a very important step they are taking.

Dad that is perfect that you brought up your experience at work because Elder Wahlquist and I discussed that topic this morning. We related the feeling of being unappreciated to the Savior. The Savior suffered for us and gave his all for us yet he is still unappreciated. Even though he is unappreciated he still loves us perfectly and unconditionally. In our moments of feeling unappreciated we should think of the Savior and how he must feel. We should also see that he did perform the atonement to gain recognition but out of pure love. Finally, we can learn to appreciate those that are around us. I better understand how mom feels when people do not show their appreciation after I have experienced it myself. We cannot change other but we can change ourselves.

I love you. You are wonderful. I am so proud of you.
Please pass my love on to Grandma and Yai Ya and everyone else.

Love,

Elder Ioannidis

By Robert Suranyi