Saturday, 27 September 2014

1st MTC Letter

Hey everyone!
     The MTC has been so legit so far! I don't have a ton of time to write, so I'll try my best to fit everything in that I need too.
     My companion's name is Elder Haydn Felts, he's from North Logan Utah. I'm living in an apartment with 4 Elders though, Elder Barfuus (Brett's nephew from Calgary) and Elder Spiedel (He played sports for Harry Ainley), and then elder Felts and I. The 3 Canadians are all going to the same mission in Salt Lake City, but my companion is serving in Texas.
     I am the district leader for our district, they called me to do that the first night. I'm so excited for my opportunity to lead our district to immense success, or at least try too. Our Branch President's name is President Bowen, him and all his counselors served Spanish missions, all in South America though. We have 7 people in our district, us 4 Elders, and 3 Hermanas (Sisters). Our district is by far the best to say the least.
     The Spanish is coming along good so far. I'm grateful that I did language training before I came. Our teacher is Sister Boyce, she's from Indiana and served in Bolivia on her mission, she's going to BYU right now. She's super nice and a really good teacher. She speaks in Spanish about 90% of the time, so I guess you can say she's nice enough to give us the benefit of the doubt most of the time.   
     The food is decent, but nothing beats our families Southern Alberta cooking. The 3 Canadians in our district are some of the best athletes here from what I've seen, which is a good sign for our country :) . We are the 3 best volleyball and basketball players at the moment, which is legit. I've seen Kieran Bennett at the cafeteria and the gym a few times, it was kind of funny because the first person I ran into on my first trip to the cafeteria was him. It was so sweet to see him, we had a good chat. I also saw Ben Thomson this morning, he was going to do his laundry. He got his mission call to South Carolina which is super cool! I'm so excited for him! 
      I'm sorry but I forgot my camera in the apartment so I can't send pictures today again! I'm so sorry I feel really dumb but I don't have the time right now to go and get it, I really am sorry. This means next letter I have to send like 20 pictures, because it will be from the last 3 weeks :/ . The flight was good, I sat by Elder Allan F. Packer (Seventy) and his wife while we were waiting to board, they were touring the Calgary mission on my last day in Calgary! It was cool to get to know him and his wife, he personally told me I'm going to be a great missionary and that he expects me to be a leader, and if I do those things, the Lord will bless me. 
      Last thing, but I just want to say I love all of you, friends, family, EVERYONE!!! I can feel your support, and I'm grateful the Spirit is guiding me through these training sessions. I can feel your prayers and I will continue to pray for all of you. 
     God bless and remember, the Church is true!
Adios mi familias y mi amigos!
Elder Strate

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


     Those of you that know Derek Strate can totally see this- since he's always ready to chat with people. He just called home from the Calgary Airport, he had 3 minutes before the boarding of the plane. Of course the past two hours he's been sitting with Allan F. Packer, General Authority from Utah who was up meeting with Stake Presidents and then the Calgary Missionaries.
     Sounds like he's doing great, has loved the Calgary experience and looks forward to the next phase of his mission in Utah. He's flying down with Elder Packer, Barfuss's nephew and a sister missionary who are all headed to the MTC.

New address

New address starting today until Nov 4.

Elder Derek Ronald Strate
2023 N 900 E Unit 800
Provo UT 84602

Monday, 22 September 2014

Letter #6 - last from Calgary

Hey guys,
     So my time in Calgary is pretty much over, I report to the Provo MTC in 2 days! Count it 2 days! I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. My companions, Elder Smith and Elder Cervantes, are doing very well. They are awesome to serve with and I'm definitely going to miss them! I got the package mom and I appreciate the fact that you remember that I love chocolate! :) haha it will be a tasty treat!
     We had my first baptism on Saturday, the 20th. It was an awesome experience. I lead the music, was a witness, and said the closing prayer at the baptism. Our investigator that got baptized is named Michael Lorenzo, he's a Phillipino guy. He has 3 little kids and his wife has been less active since she was 16. This experience was a great opportunity for their whole family and I hope they will continue to go to church and progress in the gospel. Now I can brag at the MTC that I have 1 more baptism than everyone else ;) haha. But the language has been good, Elder Cervantes is fluent in Spanish because in Costa Rica that's all they speak, so he's been helping me with the language. I'll have a bit of a head start from that aspect at the MTC too.
This is Elder Cervantes, he's from Costa Rica and he sold everything he had so he could come on a mission.
      I've seen Elder Quinton a lot because he's in Chestermere ward, so that's been cool. Lots of the Elders here are going to school in Utah and they said they're gonna try and come see me! That would be an awesome experience.
     Tomorrow we're having a missionary conference with all the Elders and Sisters in Calgary and a general authority is coming! His name is Allan F. Packer and we're super excited to see him tomorrow.
     I love you guys and I'm so happy to hear that the Seahawks snuck it out against the Broncos, make sure Darin Christensen and Mike Dick know that haha. It was nice news to hear. Nice to hear the Cardinals are doing good too. If you want I can email the Blue Jays and tell them that Grandma French should be their manager. She would do an awesome job.
     Thanks again for everything, and the MTC will surely be a gracious experience!
With love,
Elder Strate (The Taller one)
This is us 3 again but the missionary on the far right is named Elder Butler, he's from Utah and he's a Mandarin Missionary! He likes baseball!


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Food #s

Calgary Food Drive the Church and Missionaries assisted with. Derek is in the East Stake.

Here are some preliminary numbers:

2014 City-Wide Food Drive
Day-of Collections (expressed as pounds of food)

                              2013                 2014

West Stake            83,670               82,320

North Stake            57,480               53,785

East Stake             44, 615              48,250

Calgary Stake         65,090               78,875

Foothills Stake        53,370               40,010

South Stake            85,715               93,000

   Church Totals    389,940             396,240

Other Partners          9,000               93,330

   Totals               398,940             489,570

The Calgary Food Bank will add the coming week's donations to the totals as well as the donations in cash, so the numbers above are preliminary.  It represents nearly $800,000  in food value collected in a single day.

Day of service

What a great way to spend a Saturday - providing service! Thanks to the Crapo family for sending these to us. I'm sure Derek will fill us in on more details on Monday in his letter. If it's like what we do in our stake, bags are handed out earlier in the week for people to make donations to the food bank and on Saturday they are picked up and taken to a food bank. The fact that they have a semi to load it into...... people still have good hearts out there. Way to go Calgary!

Derek is in the bright lime shirt.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Travel Plans!

Received Derek's travel plans to head to the MTC!

Delta Air Lines Flight
24 Sep
Arrives in Salt Lake at 10 am.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Letter #5

Hello everyone!
    The computer this morning is not cooperating with me, so I can't send any pictures this week, but I will make sure to send lots of pictures next week!
    I've had a great week so far, Elder Smith and I picked up a new companion on Wednesday so I'm in a 3 leg until I go to the MTC. His name is Elder Cervantes, he's from Costa Rica. When he arrived here it was the first time he'd ever seen snow or touched it in his life, he said it was so cool to experience snow. He didn't know what it would be like because he's only seen it on TV, movies, and in his fridge haha. We made some snowballs and bombarded Elder Smith with them, Elder Cervantes loves the feeling of hitting someone with a snowball, but he isn't a big fan of being a target himself. He's a super cool guy and a convert to the church, he was baptized at the age of 21 and he is now 24 and serving a mission! I'm so young here, all the missionaries are like 20-22 by now and it makes me feel so young, but that's better than feeling old like them. The apartment is a bit tighter now with 3 people, but I leave in 9 days so that won't be a problem for very long.
    We have an investigator named Michael on date for baptism this upcoming Saturday, September 20th. His name is Michael and he has been investigating the church for awhile, but he was very hesitant about being baptized. He missed church for a while and I just met him a week ago, but now he's really solid and he's been reading his scriptures and praying everyday. We are very excited for him. I'm so excited, I hope he is worthy and is able to be baptized this Saturday, then I can go to the MTC with one more baptism than anyone else.
    Also during transfers, Elder Rylan Quinton from Cardston got transferred to the Chestermere ward, which means he's in my zone! I see him all the time now and it's really fun to hang out with him, he's such a nice kid. The Chestermere ward is led by Bishop Heaven and he has met him too. He wants me to team up with him in b-ball today because it'll make up for me not going to Cardston earlier this year haha. Well kind of... haha. Our zone is full of lots of super sweet people, and our zone is by far the best in the mission. The Calgary East Stake and the Magrath Stake are the best areas to serve in our mission! 
    Oh yeah transfers this week were also sad though because Elder Pacheco got transferred! But the Spanish Elders in our stake are now in a 3 leg too, Elder Mateos is with Elder Bosse (Brisbane, Australia) and Elder Keck (I don't know where he is from) but they are super cool too! I've learned that transfers are very bitter sweet because it's nice meeting new people but it's also hard to let people you've enjoyed serving with go.
    In closing, I just want to thank you guys for all you have done for me. I'm very grateful for all of you and I'm grateful to continue to receive letters and emails from you. GO ZENITHS!!! Congrats on winning the preseason tourney, what's the name of the kid that moved in? He sounds like a really good athlete, always nice to receive fresh bodies for sports. 
    I love the gospel and serving a mission is exactly what the lord wanted for me, and exactly what he wants for lots of you. Don't hesitate on putting your papers in, just do it. You won't regret it.
Elder Strate

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Letter #4

        Hello everyone,                                                                                Sept 9, 2014
          So to start off I heard that the Seahawks destroyed the Packers 36-16 so that's my weekly gift to my father haha. I'm missing football season so far but it's still awesome being a missionary!
Calgary is still treating me well, I'm enjoying myself and working hard every chance I get. Transfers are on Wednesday and I just found out one of the Spanish Elders, Elder Pachecho is getting transferred! NOOOO! haha it's ok, he's just upset because he said he's going to miss us so much! I'm staying in the East stake, big surprise there! Haha Bill and Amy Heaven took my companion and I out to dinner last week and that was awesome! We went to a Chinese food buffet and their family has good taste. I can't believe how tall Sam is, he's like 6'0 already and he looks like 4 years older than Max!
         It's already snowing here, which is bitter sweet. The bitter part is that it's snow... haha but the sweet part is listening to all the American kids complaining about the snow. It's actually hilarious. Elder Pachecho freaks out about it all the time because he's from LA and he hates the cold and the snow way more than anyone else I've ever met in my life.
          The language training is going well, but it's tough. The MTC will be way harder than this obviously, but at least I'll have a head start when I get there!
          I'd like to send a personal shout out to Bro. and Sister Henderson from our ward, they sent me a magnificent card and I'm very grateful for their family and the role they've played in my life, yes I have been playing the piano.
          Grandma French told me that Miranda challenged her to do the ice bucket challenge, which means Miranda has already done it! I want to see the video Miranda, I need proof! Haha and I also want to see the video when Grandma does it, if she even ends up doing it... haha
        We've been working out every morning and I can jump higher than I used to be able to by a bit already, we've been getting up early every morning and working out at the stake center, cardio stuff mainly. It's been good.
         On Saturday night I crashed my bike, yes I will send pictures. I was trying to jump a high curb but the curb beat my front bike tire in that battle. I didn't get hurt don't worry, a few grass stains but nothing bad enough that stain remover can't fix. I did a front flip over the front of the tire, Elder Smith was infront of me so he never saw it, but he heard the thump.

         So all in all, it's been a great last week. Transfers are tomorrow and we'll also be receiving a new Elder to serve with Elder Smith and I. Starting tomorrow we'll be in a 3 leg until I leave, it's going to be so sweet.
          Oh yeah this is kind of cool, we met a Native guy named AJ Many Grey Horses and he grew up on the Blood Reserve. He is paralyzed and he's a less active member of the church. To make money he has friends that bring him ammonite fossils, and he polishes and makes jewelry out of them. We've been helping him with the sanding, buffing, etc., with this ammonite. It's been really cool so far, here's a pic of one of the ammonite fossils as a finished product. This fossil will immediately made into some very nice jewelry.

Lots of love, thanks for all the support.
Elder Strate
 Me with the Zone leaders

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Letter #3 pictures

Derek’s food challenges

            Derek has had a variety of food so far in Calgary. Speaking of food, I've had plenty of interesting foods on my mission so far. I've eaten Balut, which is basically a boiled duck embryo which is still in the egg, it's a delicacy in the Philippines. It honestly didn't taste that bad, the actual duck inside tasted a lot better than it looked!

            Yeah it wasn't as bad as it looked trust me haha, but I just closed my eyes and popped the whole thing it. The guy who fed us that is named Bro. Hernandez, he's a super sweet guy and has an awesome family. He gave it to us for the reason that we could tell people that we ate it haha, but yeah it was crazy!

       Bill Heaven and his family are taking us out to dinner tonight and we're going to a Chinese buffet!

            I've also eaten some squid (tasted good but too squishy), and we ate some senior citizen Chinese food which tasted extremely weird. What I mean by senior citizen Chinese food is that it was plenty of steamed vegetables, rice, and fish just covered in this weird sauce, and since the people we ate with were old, Elder Smith and I decided to call it Senior Citizen Chinese food. I've also had lumpa which is a Pilipino spring roll and those are delicious! They've probably been my favorite new food I've had so far.

     Mom and dad - I have also been doing an hour each morning of studying Spanish  with the Spanish Elders who live in our apartment complex. It has been great. This will help me big time before I get to the MTC.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Letter #3

Hey everyone,
     I'm still enjoying my time in the wonderful city of Calgary. Bill Heaven and his family are taking us out to dinner tonight and we're going to a Chinese buffet! It's going to be awesome! 
     Speaking of food, I've had plenty of interesting foods on my mission so far. I've eaten Baloot, which is basically a boiled duck embryo which is still in the egg, it's a delicacy in the Phillipines. It honestly didn't taste that bad, the actual duck inside tasted a lot better than it looked! I've also eaten some squid (tasted good but too squishy), and we ate some senior citizen chinese food which tasted extremely weird. What I mean by senior citizen chinese food is that it was plenty of steemed vegitables, rice, and fish just covered in this weird sauce, and since the people we ate with were old, Elder Smith and I decided to call it Senior Citizen Chinese food. I've also had lumpa which is a Phillipino spring roll and those are delicious! They've probably been my favorite new food I've had so far. Since we've continued to have plenty of dinner appointments, we also have plenty of leftovers. So in other words, were eating just fine. the other Elders dared me to drink a whole gallon if milk in a 24 hour time period and that was super easy, the next step in the gallon challenge! Well that's the plan anyways... haha. We've had a few perogy parties with the Spanish Elders and Zone leaders because we all live in the same appartment complex, so we like to eat together when we get the chance. We also hang out a lot and it's lots of fun.
     Elder Smith and I have been doing very well with our missionary work, we now have 3 investigators on date for baptism, 2 men from Nigeria and 1 Native gentleman from the Siksika reserve. He lives in our area and has quit smoking and has been coming to church too! The Lord truly does have work for me here, and I'm happy to be a tool for the Lord's hand. Last Sunday was the fifth Sunday of the month, so the bishopric told us to each give a 15-20 min talk about missionary work. I spoke about everyone being missionaries and trying to bring others to the truthfulness of the gospel. It went really well and everyone thinks I'm a fantastic speaker for my age and for how long I've been on the mission. 
     So I would like to give all of you a challenge, help be an example to those around you and bring others unto Christ! Just because you aren't set apart as a missionary like me doesn't mean we can't still be one. I know when I get home I will continue my service to the Lord throughout the rest of my life. A way to make missionary work easier is simple, it's all about your mind set. Look at it like this; we know this is the perfect and true church on this Earth that brings all of us eternal happiness if we live it's teachings, correct? If we love the Church and know it is true, then why would we not want to let other's know it is true? God loves all of his children, and we should try to love all of them too, no matter how annoying they may be. That's my two bits for the day, haha. But Elder Smith doesn't want me to leave! We're having way too much fun, and the work is going very well. Transfers are next Wednesday so I'll have more pictures of the Elders I'm with next week, I promise.
     I've been working out somewhat often now, and I've been stretching everyday. My left knee, the one with tendinitis has been killing me lately. I've been icing it and wearing my knee brace, but I would appreciate it a lot if you guys would mention that in your prayers for me, thanks! We go to the Stake Center every morning and do this workout program called Insanity, and it's insanely hard. It's pushing my limits, which is good for me. I've enjoyed it thus far. Oh yeah, last week we were playing basketball at a public park on P-Day, we played lots of things like volleyball, soccer, etc., but while we were playing basketball these 2 random kids showed up, these brown kids and they asked if they could play. We obviously accepted, and it was one of the funnest games I have ever played. My team had me, Elder Wilson, and Elder Hafen, and we were versing Elder Pachecho and the 2 brown kids. They were both pretty good, but my team still won. It felt awesome because I had one of those games where I couldn't miss, it was the best feeling and it's was awesome to get that feeling again. All the Elders here are beauties :)
      I'm so grateful to have all the support at home from all my friends and family. Thank you for your support, life would be much harder out here without your prayers and friendship to me, so thanks again for that. I love all of you so much and I'm so happy you're all in my life! Continue to be good people and help those around you!
                                                                    Elder Strate
Grandma and Grandpa Strate:
Thanks for all the support you guys have given me over the years, I got your letter Grandma and I'm so grateful you were willing to send me that! Everytime I ready letters I always feel good and the spirit reminds me how much my family loves me at home. I'll continue to pray for you Grandma, and I hope your health gets better! I love both of you so much, and I pray for you both every night. May the Lord and Spirit continue to affect your lives, and let the spirit guide you. Sometimes you're guided in odd ways, but the Lord knows best!
Your tallest grandson :)
This is a random picture of me, it's from the inside of a building in downtown Calgary!

Monday, 1 September 2014