December 2, 2014

The Last Week

Monday was the last P-day. It was pretty run of the mill, other than packing all of my things. We had a dinner appointment with Sister Betts, which was awesome as usual, and I was glad because she’s definitely one of my favourite members in the Sydney branch. We had an appointment we set up with Cheryl, one of the people we street contacted, but we didn’t get to it. First of all, Sister Betts’ DA’s always go over time. By the time we got there, we found that it was one of those super old houses that are chopped up into small apartments, and we couldn’t find hers. We finally ended up knocking on a sliding glass door at the top of a rickety staircase leading to the second or third floor, feeling like either nobody would be home or it would be super awkward. It turned out it was her place, but she wasn’t there. It was too bad because when we contacted her I kind of had the feeling that she was prepared and felt the Spirit, but at the same time that it wouldn’t go anywhere. We meet a lot of people like that, who have gone through a lot of trials and are at a hard place in life and even though they’re prepared in one way, their choices make it hard for them to go anywhere with it. After that we stopped by another appointment we had set up, which also cancelled, so we knocked Alexandra Street for a while and ended up knocking into a Muslim guy from Saudi Arabia, Hatin, who let us in. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and picked him up as a new investigator. He was mostly intellectually curious but it’s not often that we get any Muslims to let us in at all. I think they have a very intellectual approach to Islam and they often mistake being prepared or feeling the Spirit for intellectual curiosity. Sister Curtis was terrified to teach him without me in the future haha.

On Tuesday we drove out to Dominion and helped Sister Mercer out with the move some more. She was still convinced that she was moving out and John and Elaine are moving into Donald’s. It was super awkward so I hope everything went okay with sorting that out. We had lunch and then went around trying to see less actives and eventually stopped by the Porters. Sister Porter wrote something really lovely in my goodbye book about how I helped her and that made me feel good because I didn’t feel like I’d been helpful at all. We tried to see Ariel and Marlaine too, but they didn’t answer. Then we drove into Sydney to meet the LeBlanc’s for a DA. It was at a restaurant that was also a bit of a bar (classic Sister LeBlanc) and they were super late (also classic) but it was really nice to see them again. Sister LeBlanc told us she was getting married! To a non-member. Hope that goes well. I worry about people. Sister Powers was going to let us come by to say goodbye, but she called and cancelled because she forgot it was her husband’s birthday haha. We tried to stop by more people and eventually went to YW/YM to say goodbye because Sister Demeyere specifically asked us to. We got some stuff done on Facebook and whatever and then stopped by the Olivers’ to say goodbye before heading home.

Wednesday was awesome. We went street contacting and there were so many people! We shattered our contact goal of 45 super quickly — we got 60 in 1.5 hours — so we decided to keep talking and talking to more and more people. Around noon we tried to see Tracy, had lunch, then tried to see a bunch more people, but nobody was available. So we kept contacting until our appointment with Caitlyn, who bailed (her mom was not pleased she had set one up and told us off at the door), so we kept knocking. It was really good knocking, just really bold and focused. We were so close to 100 people and we totally wanted to break 100, so we pulled over in a parking lot on our way to our DA and talked to those last two people we needed. It was amazing. We had a DA with John and Elaine and they made some traditional Chinese food that was really good. Then we left to drive to New Glasgow. I think we got there around 10:30. There was lots of talking going on and I just wanted to go to bed haha.

I woke up around 4:45 on Thursday morning because we had to leave by 6 to make it to Truro to meet up with the transfer van. We got there and I met up with Sister Tegge and Sister Finn. We went back to their apartment, had breakfast, had studies, and went street contacting. It was really cool to work with Sister Tegge since I was her STL for so long. She’s grown. They were pretty good about not asking too many questions about going home and just letting me work. Street contacting was awesome. We met a long-lost less-active, who might be crazy but might just have had a hard life, and he let us take his information. Then we met a young couple that seemed really nice and I got to talk a bit about faith and getting answers, and they became potentials, Mark and Margaret. He’s from England and was visiting her, and they’re dating. We also met a lady named Melissa who was actually a former, and we got her information as well. The last guy we street contacted turned out to be from Moncton, which felt really special. He was going back soon and was sincerely interested but would be busy in the near future. I used the pamphlet to teach him the First Vision on the street and got to recite it word-for-word for the last time as a missionary. I explained that there currently weren’t missionaries in Moncton but left him with a pamphlet and an explanation of how to media referral himself. I really hope something comes of it. I love Moncton. After that, we went back to Wendy’s and I got some lunch and we met the transfer van and came into Halifax. We went through the temple for the last time and it was great. Nothing unusual, just peaceful. We talked and took pictures then went back to the mission home for dinner. We tried to have “normal” conversations and totally failed. We had a really powerful testimony meeting. I don’t remember what it was about, but I remember the Spirit was strong and I was so grateful for the opportunity to serve. I know the Church is true now. And I know it was part of God’s plan for me and that I accomplished something by going. Then PL sent the APs off to get pictures printed while he gave us advice on getting married well. He said:
(1) The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
(2) They have to pass the friends and family test
(3) One offer is no offer
(4) Marriage is the ace of spades — the decision trumps all your other good decisions
We then discussed other advice we’d been given and it was pretty funny. Nobody went to bed on time. We had to pack and weigh and re-pack and talk.

I woke up at 3:30 am on Friday and discovered I’d forgotten my razor in New Glasgow, but I didn’t want to wear tights on the plane so I shaved with just a spare razor blade held in soapy hands while still half asleep, balancing on one leg. Miracles happen because I didn’t cut myself. We drove to the airport and I didn’t really feel nervous, a bit sad, a bit excited, mostly tired and not looking forward to a plane ride. We split up at the airport and Sister Thompson and I got to wait for our flight together, which was cool since we were MTC companions. We got on and the guy to my left didn’t take out his headphones the whole time. The lady to my right, Houda, was from Syria and didn’t speak English well, but she formed a special connection with me because she was TERRIFIED to fly. So I held her hand during takeoff and landing and during turbulence. We talked a bit. She lives in Mabou Beach and was visiting friends or family in Calgary. The flight was long because I was too tired to read and couldn’t watch TV so I flipped through the channels on silent and saw there was a fire at the Chicago airport, which was sad since Sisters Echols, Lee, and Keeler had a layover there. But eventually the flight got into Calgary and I started feeling excited. Sister Thompson and I walked through the sliding doors and Chloe was crying and then everyone was crying but me. It didn’t feel weird at all; it just felt like I’d never left. We drove to the Stake Center and I got released and just like that, I was home.

My shoes

Sister Betts and I

Sister Mercer and I

Sister Mercer and Donald

Elder Belmonte, Henderson, Tincher, Sister Mercer, Sister Curtis

Sister Porter and I

St. Theresa’s church in Sydney. View from the last evening of knocking.

Sister Demeyere and I

The Olivers and I

John, Elaine and I

Sister Curtis and I

Sister Tegge and I

Sister Thompson, Sister Sandberg, Sister Pizzey

President and Sister Leavitt and I in the airport

September 22, 2014

Instrument in the hands of God

Dear Mom,

Haha, you did sort of unleash something, but that's okay. I haven't exactly been avoiding telling people I'm going home, but I have only brought it up if it's necessary for some reason. I just didn't want everyone like, "What are your plans after? are you excited? Do you have a boy waiting for you? Etc Etc etc?" the whole time I was here. (Like Elder Amaya.) So that was a good way for everybody to find out before this Sunday without me having to tell them. Haha. I thought the video was cute.

Friday plans sound good, thanks for letting me know so I don't have to wonder :) I think I forget sometimes that it's a really good thing I did because I'm just surrounded by a bunch of other people who did the same thing haha.

So this week was pretty good. On Monday we just had a pretty chill P-day, because that's my favourite kind. We got our laundry done in time to go to a DA in North Sydney. It was probably the most "normal" DA I've been to in that they had normal food, we had a normal conversation and got to transition to talking about missionary work, we shared a normal thought, we left in under an hour...the only thing was all the pet hair. Hahaha. After that we went knocking for a while, which was interesting because it was like old-people-ville. We haven't worked out in North Sydney much since that was traditionally the Elders' area. But we had a good time and we were pretty bold with people and just went right into the First Vision and it felt great. Definitely gave them the best invitation possible and got a few potentials. After that we tried to find less-actives, but everybody was either not home or no longer lived there. Our last family we looked up had apparently moved, and the house was empty. We tried asking the people across the street if they knew where they'd moved to, and they tried to sell us the house. Hahaha. It was pretty awkward. After that we took a break to gas up and were trying to decide whether to knock for 20 minutes or do something else, and we noticed we were right by Canadian Tire, and we decided to buy little nails to hang our map. Then we stopped by the Oliver's on the way home to borrow a hammer and ended up chatting with Sister Oliver and Otto for a while before we went home. The missionaries used to hang out there all the time and it's a part-member family, so you end up with that balance of trying to be obedient and effective without cutting them off cold turkey and making them feel like you don't like them anymore. I love Sister Oliver though, she's like a mom and a best friend in one person somehow.

On Tuesday we had a skype call with the STLs to roleplay the new door approach thingy a little more, which was great, and then we tried to work on the map. Gong show with technological difficulties. Gaaaaaaah. Finally I just left a frustrated voicemail on the office elders' phone asking them to make us a map of North Sydney. Haha. We went to Sister Mercer's house to do service -- she had to move apartments very suddenly and needed help packing. Well, we show up, and who's there? DONALD!!! Our investigator who was busy last Saturday because he was getting a new tenant! What are the odds?! Especially because it's so random for Sister Mercer to move from Sydney to Dominion, of all places. So that was cool. We didn't have very long to do service though because we had a lesson with Elaine. We actually ended up helping her make an essay outline, haha, but that took about 10 minutes and then we shared D&C 130:18-19 about how the kind of knowledge and intelligence God cares about is the kind we gain from diligence and obedience. (Like many Chinese students, we're trying to help her not prioritize school over church). After that we went out to Glace Bay for a lesson with Ariel, but she wasn't home while we were there. So we sat in the car calling people and ended up getting sidetracked by a conversation about doctrine, and she got home and came and knocked on our car window. Ha. So we re-scheduled for Thursday and then just had the feeling that we needed to go see the Demeyere family. So we stopped by and it turned out that Sister Demeyere was having a really hard time with some of the members and we shared a thought from John 15 and 16 about being in the world and not of the world and having peace. She said she could tell that was directly sent from God and really helped her, so that was pretty cool, especially since I didn't really know what to say and just kind of shared that scripture on a limb. I love moments like that on my mission where I can tell that I really was in instrument in the hands of God, that I just did exactly what He prompted me and needed me to do for that person and I played some small role in His plan for them. (Then we ranted about members all the way home. Seriously, sometimes I think people are trying to make people go LA).

On Wednesday I woke up feeling super sick, just really stuffed up and with a sore throat. But we went street contacting and there were tons of people out, so that was great. On the way home we met this girl, Cheryl, who we have an appointment with today and I really feel good about. Last contact! Then we had lunch and worked on the map some more, which was really great because we got it all hung up and got a lot done, and then we were going to bike downtown, but Sister Curtis was having back problems and so we ended up driving and contacting a bit more before our DA with Sister Bauer. Last time she served us some pretty weird food, but this time she had hamburgers and french fries and celery and orange pop. It was a total tender mercy because I don't think I could have choked down anything weird. After that Sister Curtis was feeling sick too though, and I felt REALLY out of it, so we sat in the car for a bit and then we knocked for a while and then we went home and kept working on the map instead since we both felt so sick. We managed to talk to 67 people that day though, and the standard is 30, so that was pretty awesome seeing as we were sick, plus it totally made up for not getting any finding done on Tuesday.

We had district meeting on Thursday, since they move it from Tuesday to Thursday in week 5 since we don't have it week 6. It was a pretty average district meeting. I had a really good roleplay though where I ended up putting Elder Tincher on date, which was funny since the roleplay was just supposed to be teaching about Christ through the scriptures. I always figure that means you did something right. After district meeting, we had lunch and then went street contacting a bit before a chiropractic appointment for Sister Curtis. It was kind of funny because it was a SUPER small waiting room, so you had to interact with the staff, and the atmosphere totally reminded me of the lab at Sanjel, and I didn't feel awkward at all, but I could tell they thought I was being awkward, and I didn't even know what I was doing to be awkward, so be forewarned. Hahaha. After that I think we street contacted again before our DA with Sister Fennell, which was good, and then we drove out to Glace Bay and knocked a bit before Ariel's lesson. Sister Demeyere (the older one, not the one from Tuesday) cancelled last minute, which was stressful because our lesson plan had kind of depended on her conversion story, but we went in anyways and found Ariel's mom, Gloria, there. She's been pretty anti and is one of the big things holding Ariel back. So we talked with her and ended up teaching her most of the Restoration and part of the plan of salvation and resolving tons of concerns and even committed her to read the Book of Mormon. It turns out the issue is she knew one of those really out-there members like 20 years ago who gave her weird ideas. So that was a HUGE turning point and we could tell it was really meant to turn out that way. It took most of the evening though so I can't remember what we did after that. I think we might have contacted a referral or something.

Friday was our last weekly planning. It was surprisingly non-weird. I think that was partly because my exit interview was over Skype at 1 pm though, so it was a lot of motivation to stay focused and get stuff done, haha. PL likes to do them ahead of time so that they can be longer and more quality, apparently. It was pretty good. We talked about all my companionships and then he asked me, if I were to serve another mission, what would I do differently? My answer basically boiled down to focusing more on things that matter most and not feeling overly accountable to leaders above doing the right thing, which he then applied to the rest of my life. I also found out that he's pulled missionaries out of Moncton for the next transfer at least, which on one hand made me feel a little better about how stressed out I got there because apparently it wasn't all in my head, but on the other hand, I hope I didn't break Moncton. Haha. After that we went to CBU to teach a less-active Chinese student, and she brought a friend! It's pretty awesome because she's had like no contact with the church for at least a year, but she's still been praying daily and apparently doing member missionary work. Her friend doesn't want to meet with us yet, but she teared up during the First Vision and said that Zoe's helped her to believe in God, so some day. After that we went out to Glace Bay and were going to see Sister Toomey, but she wasn't there, so we ended up having dinner early at this chicken place. After that we were going to knock in Glace Bay, but it was unexpectedly 9 degrees and hailing, so we decided to go home and change into weather-appropriate clothing and then knock in Sydney, which is what we ended up doing. We contacted a media referral and ended up getting let into a few old people who weren't interested, which is always amusing.

On Saturday we went street contacting in the morning, but it was SUPER windy and nobody was really keen on having a good conversation. After that we came home for lunch and ended up getting the map completely done, other than North Sydney, which was AWESOME, and then we did some more contacting before a lesson with Kerianna. Her mom wasn't there, and I wanted to be able to teach her/say goodbye, so we were waiting around for a while, and then she ended up never coming, so that was a bit frustrating. We knocked for like 20 minutes before dinner, and their dog was following us around and it was pretty funny. Then we had dinner and tried to stop by some members, who weren't home, so we went knocking for a while. Except then Sister Curtis turned to me and said, "I think we need to go back to the house. I really really REALLY need to use the washroom." Somehow I knew it was one of those moments where you don't ask questions and just drive really fast. Haha. So we spent the rest of the night inside and called formers. But we got a few people say we could call them back, which was pretty cool! And managed to just barely meet our contacting goal.

Sunday was church, which was pretty good. Everybody found out I was going home. Haha. We did a musical number, "The Olive Tree," and then I got to bear my testimony right afterwards, which was a really great experience. The YW brought cookies and had a mini party for me at the very end of YW, which was really cute. I didn't get to take any pictures after church though because we had correlation with President Kaine and then with Brother Porter. After that we went had lunch, went contacting for a while, and then knocking, and then we had dinner, and then we did more knocking. On the last house, we ended up knocking into someone who had spent some time as a substitute preacher in Montague, PEI, during February and March. Sister Sharp and Sister Smith had made an effort in that time to visit all the churches in Montague and get to know their beliefs better, and I was an STL, so we immediately had that connection. He invited us inside and we ended up jumping into the First Vision and Book of Mormon. He recognized Biblical prophecies of apostasy, but he saw it more as individual apostate leaders than a church-wide apostasy. But he said he'd always tried to keep himself open to the Spirit to know if he was ever being taught something falsely. He'd obviously run into doctrinal anti before, so we talked a bit about the role of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and the Trinity vs. the Godhead, and then I ended up sharing a scripture from Acts 28 about how many Jews had heard the church spoken against, and instead of just believing it, they went straight to the source and asked Paul. I pointed out that any Jews who were brave enough to do that gave themselves the opportunity to accept Christ as their Saviour. Similarly, what he needed to do was read the Book of Mormon and pray about it himself. I got to bear my testimony about doing that to him, which is something I've been working on because I think I have such a testimony of the things I'm teaching that I feel like I'm bearing my testimony the whole time, and I forget to really testify at the end. It was cool because you could really feel the Spirit testifying and you could see him struggling with that vs. the sacrifice it would be to accept it. We ended up just leaving him a Book of Mormon with Mosiah 3, 3 Nephi 11-26, and Moroni 10 marked for him. So he didn't become a NI, but it was a really great contact and was really meant to be. The cool thing is I learned that scripture in Acts 28 in NL to deal with anti, and I've never had the opportunity to use it until right now, at the end of my mission. But the Lord knew I'd meet Scott and that I'd need that scripture. After that we had a member visit with Sister Parks and that was the week.

I'm looking forward to seeing you on Friday! I love all of you!

Sister Olson

On Saturday, there was a street hockey tournament. The entire main street downtown was completely shut down with little rinks set up, like 10 of them. It looked like there were a variety of age categories, kids and adults. There was a cruise ship in too so people probably felt like this was the typical Canadian experience haha.
The map, completely correlated with members, less-actives, and formers.
It was really windy yesterday.

September 15, 2014

Losing your life to find it

Dear Mom,

That's pretty cool about Steve and his friends at the football game. And yes, everyone was telling me ALL WEEK about the snow in Calgary. Haha. I think my favourite thing I heard was "Calgary decided to nominate itself for the ALS ice bucket challenge...we'd like to nominate Edmonton and Toronto."

Okay, so this week...on Monday we went to the Fortress of Louisbourg, which was awesome. Half the people working there had Acadien accents in English and it really made me miss serving in Acadie. Sister Curtis and I kept joking around by pretending to give an "official tour" where she would say typical tour guide things like "And on your left, we see..." and then I'd repeat it in French. The American elders didn't get why it was so funny. It was really cool though. Basically like Heritage Park except 1700s instead of late 1800s/early 1900s. After that, we did some grocery shopping really quick and then went to a DA with Sister Betts. She's an old lady in the ward who joined a REALLY long time ago and she's a sweetheart. After that, we ended up going to Sportchek to see if we could get some lights for our bikes, since it's hard to bike around at 8 pm now, and then we ended up getting our investigator Amy a card and some earplugs in order to make effective contact with her. She was really touched and we found out her sister's in town and she doesn't really want to talk about it with her sister, which is why she's been avoiding us, but she's still interested. Yay! Then we ended up calling all of our other investigators and trying to touch base with them because everyone was being flaky, and we stopped by some less-actives and also had a really good phone conversation with a less-active family where we taught Sister Dalton about prayer, but we didn't really get in to teach anyone.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, and then we had a lunch appointment with Sister Oliver. She made French toast and scrambled eggs, which was surprisingly awesome feeling because NOBODY makes that for you on your mission. The only time you eat it, you made it yourself. After that we went street contacting for a bit and then we had a DA with the Boutiliers. They're a really strong family in the ward and to our surprise, their less-active daughter and her boyfriend were there. Her boyfriend is from India but he's Syrian Catholic. At one point he said he didn't know the difference between Roman and Syrian Catholics and I was all like, "Oh, I do!" So we basically got to review the Saviour's Earthly Ministry, teach a really in-depth Apostasy, and touched on the Restoration. We would have gotten more into the Resto but their daughter didn't really want to hear it. So that was cool. After dinner we checked some referrals and biked around and knocked, and we ended up getting to see a less-active, Sister Parris, that I've never met before. She knew she'd felt something special at our church that she'd never felt before, but it had been so long since she'd come to church that she'd kind of forgotten the significance of the Resto and had fallen into the feeling everyone has here, that you just have to keep the 10 commandments and you're good. (Everyone seems to forget about the sabbath day one though...). We shared a thought from 3 Ne 18 about how taking the sacrament weekly is a commandment, and the Spirit was so strong and she said she wants to come back to church. So that was sweet.

We were supposed to skype the STLs for companionship study on Wednesday, but it completely slipped our minds until halfway through comp study, so we rescheduled for next week. OOPS. After that, we went street contacting downtown and ended up running into some members from Wyoming. They insisted on buying each a footlong subway combo. It was pretty sweet. We spent some time at the library trying to look up service opportunities and then went home to work on our maps, which is supposed to happen every Wednesday afternoon. #fiasco. We decided to try to take the giant wall map down and relocate it to our study, where we could actually use it for planning, since it was in a hallway and it was super ineffective. Well, the previous sisters had stuck it to the wall using carpet tape, and it was impossible to take down without ripping up the drywall. As Sister Curtis found out too late. We called the office and they were pretty chill about it, but told us not to take the map down unless we could figure out a better way to do it. I eventually grabbed a steak knife and used it to saw off the carpet tape. Worked like a charm. I guess knives can be added to duct tape on the list of "things that fix everything." But yeah, that basically took the afternoon. We drove downtown for our DA but she wasn't home, so we went to the mall food court before heading to the church for correlation with our new Branch Mission Leader. He's a genuine Cape Bretoner so we end up talking a lot, haha. After that we were supposed to correlate with the Elders, since we've been contacting all the same people over and over. It ended up taking the rest of the evening, mostly because Elder Henderson is pretty stressed out trying to train 2 new missionaries. And it turns out he and his previous companion had whitewashed the area from some pretty disobedient missionaries and so he has some pretty strained relationships with ward members who were used to missionaries just hanging out or breaking rules with them. I think it was good for him though.

Thursday was more street contacting. One of the first people we met set up an appointment for 1 pm that day! It was pouring rain so we went to the indoor market that sells stuff to the cruise ship people. We have a few members who work there and they were used to the sisters coming and talking to them all the time (more hanging out and not doing work), but since it was pouring we decided this would be the best time to appease them. We ended up getting some cool souvenirs. After that we had lunch and then we went to our 1 o'clock appointment with Dani. She turned out to be SUPER golden. She'd met with senior missionaries before, I think in Ontario, but at the time she was just trying to get an overview of what all religions believe. Since she'd already heard the Resto we ended up going more into pray to know, the nature of truth, priesthood authority, Isaiah 29, the Book of Mormon as a touchstone for truth, and then church organization in Ephesians 4, in that order. It was a pretty cool lesson. Then her mom called and she said, "Okay. I have to go, but I just have one more question for you...what's the importance of baptism in your church?" Awesome. The only thing is, she was moving to Vancouver 2 days later! Gaaah. I guess she'll just get baptized there. (This week was full of stuff like this, where we did really good things that will never get reported. It kind of stressed me out because I didn't want anyone to look at our numbers and the end of the week and think I was dying.) After that we stopped by the Jacksons. Sister Jackson just stopped working to stay home with her daughter and is missing adult conversation, so hopefully we'll really get to work with her now :) Mulan was on for her daughter and it was super distracting. Then we went out to Glace Bay and followed up on some people and had dinner before our lesson with Ariel. We brought a YW, Sariah, and we weren't sure how it was going to go since she'd been in Utah all summer and we didn't know her, and her mom's a bit less-active. But she turned out to be awesome and really participated in the lesson. Ariel said she'd been thinking a lot about finding out which church was true and that she'd probably end up Mormon, but she didn't want to prematurely discount the Catholic faith. So she basically told us what kind of member present to have the next time -- someone who was REALLY Catholic, and who'd been Mormon for a long time. Sariah's grandma fits the bill perfectly, so we'll do that next time. After that, we went back into town and ended up stopping by Sister Fennel, an active member, and shared a thought before we went home.

On Friday we had weekly planning, which was kind of weird since it was the last full week I'd be in the area. It was good though because I just felt motivated through it to make it the best week EVER. Then we went to do service at a rest home, The Cove, for the Day of Service. I'm not sure if that's just our stake or a Canada-wide thing. Anyways, we had fun helping old people play bingo. The old women were flirting with the Elders and they felt super awkward. I got to play the piano for a bit. After that, we drove into Glace Bay again and visited a less-active, Sister Toomey, and committed her to work towards sealing her family in the temple. We decided we'd re-teach her the lessons to help. After that, we got a phone call from a member family inviting us to dinner in an hour "because I made too much food." So we had some time before that, so we stopped by Sister Demeyere's to invite her to Ariel's lesson the next week and prep her, which was great. Then we went to the Smith's for dinner. It ended up taking SUPER long because Brother Smith was still bringing the Lu's in from Sydney, who they'd also invited, and then they just wanted to sit and chat, and then we had dinner and there were like 3 courses plus dessert and they had to do prep in between each course...Brother Smith is a was awesome, this Asian soup with cilantro in it, and then some really good mussels, and then curry (which was actually surprisingly blah, but the rest was awesome), and then angel food cake. We managed to hopefully both strengthen them personally and in their missionary endeavours, and it was good that they're fellowshipping our recent converts, but seriously, it took forever. We went back in to Sydney and tried to knock for the rest of the evening but the Aerosmith concert was going on and just because it was happening, nobody wanted to open their doors.

Saturday was basically talking to ALL THE PEOPLE because we'd had a good week for visiting RCLA's and members, but not a very good one for contacts. It was actually awesome. The standard is 30/day and we talked to 60, and best of all, we really focused on testifying and inviting people boldly and we found lots of great potentials and it just felt really good. In the morning we went street contacting and ran into a bunch of JW's going knocking at 10 am. It was pretty funny. Then we came to the church for street hockey, but nobody showed, so we did some online stuff and ate lunch while we waited for Donald, since we were going to teach him at the church with the elders. But even though we'd confirmed like an hour before, he was a no-show, so we went to Dominion and knocked for a bit, which was pretty great. Although there was this one guy who was JUST in the middle of reading the story of Cornelius' conversion and him sending for the Apostles, and we were like, "Well our church has modern apostles, God is telling you to follow Cornelius' example," and he rejected it. People can be so blind to even the most obvious guidance from God. One of the last doors we ended up being greeted by two huge dogs and then a lady came out with a knife, but it turned out they were all nicer than initial appearances suggested. Hahaha. The Elders in Houlton, Maine, apparently had a gun pulled on them at a door, but the guy ended up getting baptized. Just a little tidbit that popped into my head. Anyways, eventually we went to Whitney Pier to contact some referrals and keep knocking until dinner. Sister Curtis went and had a nap during dinner, and she had the phone for an alarm clock. Ariel called in the middle of dinner with a moral dilemma she wanted advice on, so Sister Curtis answered but immediately handed the phone to me since she was still pretty groggy. I talked her through it and at the end she said, "Thanks for the advice, Sister Curtis." Hahaha. After that, we were going to go park contacting, but then I figured out that Sister Curtis is anemic and that's why she's been exhausted, so we walked to Lawtons instead and bought some iron pills. Then we went knocking for the rest of the night and it was great.

Church on Sunday was super good for some reason. We ended up teaching youth Sunday School last minute and we did some roleplays of how to respond when friends ask questions about our standards. Then we stayed for YW since a lot of the leaders and YW were away, and it was just really uplifting. We had correlation after church again and then we made lunch at the church and practiced our musical number for next week before going out to Dominion to continue knocking. We followed up on a former, but she wasn't interested, and another one who said to come back later, and then we had a DA with the Porters, our BML and his wife. It was kind of a last-minute thing when they found out we just planned to eat snacks out in Dominion instead of go home for dinner, but I'd already had a HUGE breakfast and lunch to prepare for that, so I ended up being super full. After that we went knocking again, but it turns out we hit a street full of pious old people after dark. Hahaha. We took some time to call Sister Dalton again and ended up teaching her about repentance and having a prayer over the phone, which was pretty cool. Then we went back to the church, which is conveniently on the way home, and watched the CES fireside. It was awesome. Seriously, everyone should watch it, it was good for all ages, not just YSAs. It was about losing your life to find it, which basically summed up all my thoughts about how I want to be as I finish my mission and also after I get home. 

Sister Olson


September 8, 2014

18 More Days until Jaclyn is Home!

Dear Mom,

Aww. I loved that part that you said about us being righteous. When I was at sisters' conference last year, I was one of the first into the Celestial room and I watched all these sisters come in that I loved so much, and it made me think of being in Spirit Paradise and the Celestial Kingdom and watching people enter, one by one, that I would want to be there. I realized how anxiously I'd look for certain people and had a small foretaste of the joy I'd feel. I remember thinking I understood, in some small measure, how you must have felt to see me come through. I think one of the things I'm most excited for coming home is to go to the temple more frequently, with you and Dad, and to do family names and have Carmen teach me how to do geneology.

Who is Carmen's English teacher?

So this week was pretty good. On Monday we spent the whole day deep-cleaning the apartment. It felt really good but I was also really disturbed that I hadn't done it sooner. I'm not sure if my advice would be "never deep-clean a missionary apartment" or "very first thing when you get to a new apartment, clean the heck out of it!" Hahaha. It seriously felt so nice all week though. After that, we stopped by a potential who wasn't home, so we kept knocking the street. It was interesting because Elder Henderson had recently said something about exercising faith, that if we felt impressed to knock a street, we KNOW there's a reason to knock it. But I'd kind of been losing faith in the street because we found out it had been knocked recently. Anyways, I thought about that while knocking, and a few doors later, we knocked into a long-lost less active who's not on the branch list! She let us right in and showed us her baptismal certificate, which she keeps folded in her wallet. It's yellowed by smoke, but still precious to her. Sister MacKenzie is 74 and homebound because she's in a wheelchair and her house has stairs leading up to the only entrance. She can't even go see her daughter who lives down the street...who is ANOTHER LA member that we're stopping by tonight! She also gave us a referral for her non-member granddaughter. It's going to be hard to help her quit smoking because she's stuck inside with nothing else to do. After that, we got lost a bit and biked around, and I ran into some guy who'd recently moved here from Québec. We had a fun conversation about the difference between Acadien and Québecois, and he told my my accent was understandable. Haha. We also had a pretty good gospel conversation, but he wasn't interested.

The next day was Tuesday, so it was district meeting, which was pretty good. After district meeting, I had a lesson over Facebook with my former from Moncton, Nick. It turns out she struggles with same-gender attraction, which she didn't feel comfortable telling the sisters in Moncton, but Facebook was easier for her and we got to have a really good discussion and I think it really helped her work towards resolving that concern. It also answered a lot of questions I had about why things worked out the way they did with her, because I think we were so convinced this was the answer to our prayers about our baptisms goal that we would have overlooked that. After that we went street contacting, and I had a funny experience. We get a lot of cruise ships coming in with people from different places, many from Québec because that's where the cruise starts. I street contacted an old lady and she said in a thick accent, "I only speak French." So obviously I just switched into French. But she kept trying to respond in English! Seriously, lady, you refuse to talk to me because you only speak French, and then when I speak French you refuse to talk to me in French? Haha. But I persisted and eventually she realized I could actually have a conversation and we had a nice chat about apostles. After that we drove to Glace Bay and ended up going knocking in the middle of the afternoon, and this girl Sasha answered the door right out of the shower. To our surprise, she invited us in without us even doing a door approach and went upstairs to get changed. So when she came back down I basically did the door approach sitting down in her living room to verify that she was actually interested, haha. But she was, so we launched into the Restoration and it was a great lesson. After that, the lesson we DID have scheduled cancelled, so we went around trying to see less-actives and we stopped in on this part-active family, the Porters. It turned out Sister Porter is super defensive about being less-active, so not much happened there, but it also turned out that Brother Porter was going to be called as our new branch mission leader, so we ended up coordinating with him about all the OTHER less-actives, and Sister Porter was perfectly happy to suggest ways that we could reactivate them. So that took up the rest of the evening.

We had "visits" with the elders on Wednesday, which was super weird because they're in a trio, so it was basically 5 missionaries going around accosting people on the street, haha. But we got to street contact on our own for an hour while they did 12-week, so that was awesome. We met some members from Utah on a cruise, which is always fun to see people HAPPY to see you. I think I also met another French lady from Chéticamp, who was super excited that I was learning Acadien French, but as soon as religion came up she was like "J'ai ma propre religion!" and walked away. #everyAcadiencontactever. So then we met up with the Elders and did some street contacting, then got lunch at Subway. After that we went to the park and were going to review what had been learned so far, etc., but some random guy I've street contacted before came up to us and kept talking to us, and it was basically a really unproductive conversation because he was trying to "prove" that we "couldn't reach him," but it gave us all the opportunity to basically practice teaching on someone, so it was alright. Then we went knocking and taught the Elders' investigator, Murray, who Sister Hughes and I actually found, so that was really fun. Then we went to the church for correlation and President Kaine brought us pizza and ice cream. Then we tried to stop by Kristy and Eileen before branch council, but they were still "sick" (Facebook stalking reveals that they're not sick) and then we had branch council, which was a really good one. I was on exchanges during the last one, so it was interesting to see how it worked here.

Thursday we biked and street contacted in the morning. I just had the thought pop into my head to take a different way into downtown, and we met a great potential almost right away. Then we biked past the elders, who were park contacting, and continued into downtown. Sister Curtis had the thought to stop by Sister Kennedy, who wasn't home yesterday. We got in to see her and it turned out she was sick, so we called the elders (who we knew were right there) and they came right then and gave her a blessing. As soon as we finished, a health care worker showed up. Divinely orchestrated timing. It was super cool. After that we kept street contacting and we met this one guy who kept saying to Sister Curtis, "Look at the light coming out of her!" It was weird but kind of cool. Then we had lunch and worked on our member book for a while, and then we biked to Amy's and met a really cool guy visiting from BC who's read the Book of Mormon before long in the past. It was a great conversation and I think we convinced him to look into it again and pray about it when he goes home. After that we had a lesson with Amy. We ended up talking about the armour of God because of some personal things she's going through, and then led that into the Word of Wisdom and baptism. She breaks basically all of it so it was big for her, but she said she'd pray about a baptismal date without us even committing her to, and she also asked for a ride to church, so it was a pretty decent lesson. Then we biked home and met the Ranglacks at our apartment. They're a senior couple that served with Sister Curtis, and since they're getting transferred to NL they were in Sydney to catch the ferry. So they took us to dinner at Swiss Chalet and then we went knocking and finding in the Pier for the rest of the evening. It was pretty unsuccessful but at the end of it we FINALLY managed to have a member visit with Sister Farrell, who is super hard to get ahold of since she works two jobs, and she gave us a can of homemade peaches.

On Friday we started studies early to get a bit of weekly planning done before doing service at Sister Oliver's house. We helped her get rid of the blown-in insulation in her basement because they're getting some people to come and re-insulate it. It's super messy. I'd never seen an old basement with stone walls before though, so that was cool. And it was honestly pretty enjoyable service. After that, we went home and had a shower, and all our lessons either cancelled or we couldn't find 3rd sisters, so we ended up just staying home and finishing weekly planning. After that, we decided to go to the church to work on printing out giant wall maps that all the apartments are supposed to have. Let's just say that technology is the worst. It took all evening and we didn't even get it all done. It was super frustrating. So a lot of Friday felt pretty unproductive.

We had a companionship study over skype with the STLs on Saturday, since they were showing us this new street contacting approach they developed where you basically teach the First Vision with the pamphlet right then and there. After that was a Relief Society activity, which was super fun. It was all about setting goals and developing yourself in all aspects of your life, and a LOT of things they brought up were how we set goals as a missionary, plus I could actually apply everything they said to when I got home, so it was pretty cool. After that were homemade Viatnemese rolls and sugar cookies. It was awesome. Then we drove out to Howie Centre to see Dawn, the potential from Thursday, but her address didn't exist, so we just knocked down there and then came up to Sydney and park contacted. While contacting, we met this guy Kyle, and he was interested, and thanks to the companionship study from this morning, we just sat down on the park bench that was literally right there, and taught him the Restoration right then! It was awesome. He wasn't sure if he believed in God or not because he'd never gotten an answer, but he was super excited to get an answer and come to church. Then we brought Kerianna to a lesson with Scott, who had called us. It turned out Scott was pretty crazy, so he didn't become a new investigator. I felt kind of bad for Kerianna because those lessons can be a little freaky until you get used to being let in to crazy people. Haha. So then we tried to contact a few referrals and then we went out to the Mira and contacted a less-active family, who we made an appointment with. Then we stopped by the Silversteins for a member visit, and they were literally just sitting down to dinner, so we got a DA out of it and it was pretty awesome, since I'd just been thinking to myself, "dang I had a super small dinner and we're fasting tomorrow!" hahaha.

Church on Sunday was pretty eventful. John, our recent convert, said the opening prayer in Chinese, which was cool, and it was a spiritual testimony meeting. Brother Desmond, the EQP, shared an experience where he basically contacted a guy in a grocery store, had him over, taught him the Restoration by himself, and invited him to church. So he basically has his own investigator. On the other hand, we had 4 people solidly committed to church and nobody came, which basically dashed all hopes of getting anyone baptized before I leave. The reason quickly became apparent, though, as Gospel Principles was full of false doctrine. Apparently, many members are under the impression that green tea and decaf coffee aren't against the Word of Wisdom. So we made some phone calls after church to straighten that out. Ha. In Relief Society Sister Hay bore a really cool testimony about how she never used to do missionary commitments, but she and her husband have been having missionary experiences recently (Sister Hughes and I visited them and committed them to pray about it), and how much she loves it, and she's been giving out pass-along cards. So that was awesome. Kind of a yo-yo of emotions at church. After church, we stopped by some referrals and got let into this one girl, Kerri, who I'll admit, I did NOT expect to be interested. It was kind of weird because she didn't have any reasons for wanting us over, she just let us in. So we didn't have much to work with. But I could feel the Spirit as we testified to her about why she should want to learn about it. It was a short visit since she was on her way out, but hopefully it goes well. We stopped by Amy, but she wasn't home, and the Jacksons, but only brother Jackson was home, and then we had dinner. After supper, we basically went knocking for the evening. The very first house was this Jewish/Christian couple. It was fun to testify of the gathering of Israel and have them actually get it. I had a really good feeling about the wife and she asked great questions about modern prophets, but then she had to go and the husband was super uninterested. But we kept knocking. And we got a few potentials and like 4 referrals, which was crazy! So it was a pretty okay end to the week. We got home and were going to eat some muffins a member brought for us that day, and discovered they were moldy. Ew. So glad I didn't go for that to break my fast because I was so hungry I think I might not have noticed. Haha.

Sister Olson

September 1, 2014

Teaching and Contacting

Dear Mom,

That sounds like a really cool week. I've actually never been inside Helaman Halls before, I've just walked through the area, so that's interesting. I still think it's weird that everyone I know is at BYU without me haha.

So on Monday after emailing and grocery shopping we went home and just totally crashed for like 2.5 hours. It was awesome. I'm pretty sure I'm running 100% on grace at this point and as soon as I take the nametag off I'm going to pass out and sleep for like 3 days. We had to leave our apartment a little early because we had an appointment right at 6 pm in Glace Bay. I was actually kind of surprised it went through. We taught a really good Restoration but at the end we discerned that she had absolutely no real intent so she didn't become a new investigator. After that we had a few appointments set up with other potentials and less-actives, but they all fell through so we basically just knocked the whole evening out in Reserve Mines. It was a really beautiful evening, where it's been hot all day so it's just warm and peaceful and the sun is setting.

We had district meeting on Tuesday and talked about the faith to find and did a few roleplays that was basically about not being put off by how weird people are and seeing their potential anyways. It was pretty fun because you got to make up some pretty great investigator characters. After that we were supposed to have service at Sister Oliver's house but she cancelled, so we went home and had lunch instead and then I think we had a member visit with Sister Parks. After that we biked around and did some street contacting, and it was SUPER HOT outside and Sister Curtis was not having a good time with it, so we stopped by Downtown Nutrition, which turned out to basically be an independent version of Jugo Juice, and got a smoothie. After that we had an appointment wtih Amy, a potential the elders found. We got in and she's super awesome, she's really open to the Spirit and had questions about why there were so many different churches. So we taught the Restoration, obviously, and she said she'd get baptized if she knew it was true, but wouldn't commit to a date yet. After that we had dinner, then right at the end of dinner Sister Oliver called and said she had Elder Amaya over for a goodbye dinner and had WAY too much food, and would we like to come have some? So we said yes because we were running out of food so we just had a SANDWICH, which is LAME. So we went over and had awesome Guatemalan barbecque and that ended up taking the bulk of the evening. I think we did some park contacting afterwards to meet our contacting goal.

On Wednesday we biked all day. Sister Curtis claims I'm trying to kill her. It was super warm again. But it actually ended up being super effective. We talked to 37 people just street contacting and so we decided to stop by Kim, another potential, on the way home. We ended up getting into a lesson with her and she's one of those people who is very "spiritual" and doesn't believe in organized religion, and she had concerns about women and the priesthood, so we set up a lesson the next day to talk about those things so we'd have some time to figure out how to approach it, haha. After that we had lunch, and then we took our bikes to Sportchek because Sister Curtis' gears were malfunctioning. So after that got fixed we had correlation at the church, and then after dinner we tried to find some RCLAs again, but nobody was home, so we ended up having a member visit with Sister Bauer. Following that, we basically just bike contacted on the way home, I think. 

Thursday started off with more street contacting downtown before lunch, and then after lunch we brought Sister Betts, this super old sister in the ward, to a lesson with Kim. It turned out AWESOME, they really hit it off and Sister Betts basically taught the whole lesson for us. We had planned to go in with the Family Proclamation, but right at the beginning I realized we didn't even know if Kim believed in Christ, so we ended up talking about her belief in God and she really understands the concept of light/the Spirit, so we ended up leading that into the Godhead and talking about how she'd developed a belief in Heavenly Father and the Spirit, and now she needed to figure out Jesus Christ. And then we basically taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation to explain why we need Christ, and then Sister Betts bore a really powerful testimony that basically included overviewing the entire Restoration, and it was seriously just awesome. Then we had to rush to Glace Bay for our next lesson. We brought one of the Young Women to Ariel's and taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation again, with the goal of helping her understand why we need to know truth and that God wants to answer her prayers. So we managed to help her understand that she needs to figure the truth out to return to God, and then she was really stressed because she feels like it's too hard to figure out on her own, etc., and I was just like, "Well don't you see, God knew that would be difficult and that's exactly why he'd want to answer our prayers," and all of a sudden it just clicked for her. It was awesome. After that we tried to see some LA's again, but EVERYONE is out of town or something, so we checked on a potential. He told us to come back when his wife was home so we could go inside, so we stopped by and she was home, so he let us in and talked to us in the living room while she cooked dinner. He didn't have any real intent himself and was one of those people who has his own idea of what you're going to say before you say it, so it doesn't matter what you say, he just hears what he wants to. But he has a friend he's thinking of referring to us. And then they invited us to stay for dinner and had this really awesome steak stir-fry that was really spicy, and it was pretty great. After that, we had a member visit with Sister Rose and she gave us a referral for a former investigator she'd fellowshipped, and then we had a visit with Sister LeBlanc and had a really great discussion about how Christ can empathize with our temptations.

On Friday we did weekly planning in the morning, as usual, and then we had an appointment with someone who lived downtown, but it was a bad address, so we went street contacting a little bit before our lesson with Amy. We brought Sister LeBlanc and they totally hit it off, so we followed up on the Restoration and went more into prayer, since we didn't get to talk about prayer and how the Holy Ghost feels as much as we'd have liked to the last time. And towards the end Sister LeBlanc was just like, "You're coming to church with me, what time should I pick you up? Notice I didn't ask so you can't make excuses." Hahaha. It was great. Then we came outside to find that I'd left the car running through the whole lesson. *facepalm* *headdesk* After that we were supposed to have service, but it cancelled again, so we went home and had dinner and did a bit of contacting before our appointments out in Glace Bay, but they all fell through again and it was freeeeezing! So I think we just drove around and tried to contact people because neither of us were dressed for the weather at all. On the way home we stopped by Sister Rose's referral pretty late at night and it was totally inspired. She was just having such a hard time in her life recently and almost committed suicide the night before, and she said, "Last time I felt like this the missionaries showed up too!" So she really realized we were sent from God. It was pretty late so we set up a lesson for the next morning to figure out if Heavenly Father just sent us on an intervention or if she was actually an investigator.

So the next morning we biked around for an hour because our Zone has a goal that we get 10 contacts by noon each day, so when you have an appointment at 11 you just basically have to bike like crazy to find 10 people. Haha. We got up to Tracy and it was a really good lesson. We were going to read in Mosiah 24 with her, and we did, but then she just had all these questions about the Book of Mormon and the church instead of wanting to focus on how it applied to her personal problems, which was just like "real intent all over the place!" So we reviewed some of the Restoration and then resolved some concerns about the temple and such. Her husband's pretty Catholic and her kids are atheist and I think she got anti/family pressured out of it last time. She asked if she could keep the Book of Mormon. Um, yes? So after that we biked to the branch picnic, but only one person was there. But that turned out okay because Brother Boutlier's the second counselor so we got to bring him up to speed on a lot of what we're doing and eventually Sister Boutlier showed up with sandwiches and watermelon. Then members started gradually stopping by, because Maritime standard time + Mormon standard time = gong shows all over the place. We got to learn a lot about the members though and how everyone's related so that was good. After that we biked home and drove into Glace Bay, and we were going to knock, but then I pulled a time out to discuss our companionship for a bit. Nothing major, just a readjustment. Then we had a DA with Sister MacLean and invited her to a lesson the next day, which was great. She made the best hamburgers ever. After that, we went knocking for a bit, but the JW's had recently hit the street and it was pretty unproductive.

We called Amy Sunday morning to wake her up for church and she was pretty stressed since she'd had friends over late last night, but she still wanted to come (more real intent!) So we got to church and she came, but then Sister LeBlanc took her home after sacrament meeting, which was a bit of a bummer but also pretty cool because she got to find out that Amy really enjoyed church, but is worried that we'll refuse to keep teaching her when we find out about her Word of Wisdom problems, so Sister LeBlanc got to resolve some of those concerns. She'd found out on the way here that we don't drink coffee and she told me before sacrament, "So I guess I have to figure out how to give that up!" Haha. She totally wants to get baptized. We'll probably put her on date this week. After church, we took Sister MacLean to Donald's lesson. That was a little rougher. Sister MacLean likes to talk a lot, so we kept getting off track, plus I hadn't noticed at the beginning of the lesson that the TV was on silent in the other room, but after the lesson got going I realized it was right across from me, and it was really distracting. Plus whatever show it was was really gory. I don't understand how you can kill that many people in a single episode and sustain a whole season. So I probably just should have asked to turn it off but there was never a good moment and it was just frustrating. But on the plus side, we established that Donald understands the Restoration, wants to figure out if it's true, and hopefully he understands the role of the Book of Mormon and prayer a little better now. After the lesson we dropped off Sister MacLean and then we parked and ate a bunch of junk food a member brought us because we forgot to pack lunch, hahaha. Then we went to an appointment with Kristy and Eileen, but they have strep throat or something and were still sick, so we stopped by some people and then went knocking a bit before dinner. 

After dinner was pretty cool. We seriously had the worst time tracking down RCLA's this week, and we were biking and I felt impressed to visit someone we had planned for later. Well, we stopped by and she wasn't home, so we just moved on to the next backup, who ended up being so far down on Victoria Road to be in Whitney Pier. So I didn't tell Sister Curtis that, I just led us there because I knew she'd think the Pier was too far to bike even though the map is kind of deceptive about that. Well we get there and the house is abandoned. But the thought comes to me, "Hey since we're in the Pier we should stop the Campbells." So we bike to the OTHER end of the Pier and we managed to crash a family dinner, haha. It was the Campbells, who we've never met, the Jacksons, another LA family we really want to work with, and an active family who's visiting them from Manitoba. So that was AWESOME. Since they were just finishing up dessert, the active family had no problem letting us right in and giving us some awesome cake, and then the Jacksons came in and talked with us and we ended up sharing a thought from John 20 about not getting distracted from discipleship/missionary work by good, but worldly things. It was great because all the other stuff we did just killed time enough that we caught them at the PERFECT moment and it was a really great experience. Then we biked home at 8 and it was slightly sketchy, but whatever, it was worth it, haha.

Sister Olson

Elder Amaya wanted to go down to the Big Fiddle and take pictures for his last Monday. It was super sunny!

August 25, 2014

Zone Conference

Dear Mom,

We actually have an app installed on Facebook so that we can't see the Newsfeed. Once in a while I look people up on FB, but not often because it can be distracting. But I looked up Janie's photos and I agree, her dress is AWESOME. Those photos were sooo cute. Aah. Haha. Good thing Marissa's photo was pretty cool too to balance it out :)

Sounds like everyone had a great week. Good for Carmen for being careful. I agree, that's pretty cool that the same people who blessed Steven were able to ordain him. You've kind of mentioned how you cried in the van, but I haven't heard the rest of that, haha. 

So this week was pretty cool. I think we just did laundry and stuff on P-day. Took a nap. Then in the evening we had some people to stop in on and whatnot, and a few appointments fell through, and we ended up going knocking in Reserve Mines. It was kind of cool because I'd decided that week to focus on really having the desire to actually FIND someone when we went finding. So we were knocking, and it was pouring, and we found a GREAT potential family that knows a member! (Pretty much everyone we found this week knows a member. Member missionary work is SO important.) So that was some pretty cool success already. Then at the end of the evening, we decided to knock one last house, and she invited us in because it was raining so bad! I almost said "no" on autopilot just because I didn't want her to feel bad about the rain, then my brain kicked in and was like, "She just invited you in, go in!!!" haha. So we go in and it turns out to be a mom and adult daughter, Eileen and Krysty, who are Anglican. They've recently really been feeling the need to go back to church, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the Anglican church, they're just searching for something. (Golden!) And then knew a lot about the church from the Osmonds and the Shaytards and love it. They said they'd "very probably" be baptized when they knew it was true. Great end to the evening.

On Tuesday we went bike contacting in the morning, and it RAINED. It was one of those good/bad caught-in-the-rain moments. We stopped by Sister Parks on the way home and had a member visit, and then we had lunch. During lunch I put tights and rubber boots on, and then it didn't rain the rest of the day. Go figure. We went out to Glace Bay, but Marlaine cancelled our appointment, so we ended up stopping by a former, Ariel, who's boyfriend is a less-active member. It turns out the previous missionaries had pressured her a bit too much, she'd been anti'd, and she didn't feel like she could go to church if she didn't want to get baptized yet. But she wanted to find a church for her daughters. So we resolved all those concerns and picked her up as a new investigators. It's funny because she has BRIGHT red hair, like Ariel or Anne of Green Gables. And she has all the mannerisms of Anne. Funniest of all, her daughter is named "Cordelia" and has dark hair, blue eyes and dimples. Ariel claims to have never read the book. Haha. So after that I think we went knocking and then had dinner at Tim Horton's, and then we visited with a member, Cindy Demeyere, before going knocking for the last little bit of the evening. Both people we knocked into became potentials, so that was cool.

And then it was Wednesday and we had to leave at 5 IN THE MORNING to drive to Sackville, which is right outside Halifax, for Zone Conference. *sigh*. It was a pretty cool drive in the dark and with the sunrise though, Cape Breton is beautiful. It was a really good and uplifting Zone Conference. Sister Echols, Sister Lee and I did a last minute musical number -- I got to play the piece twice before we performed it -- but it was great. I was kind of nervous all Zone Conference though because at the end of Zone Conference, all the missionaries in their last transfer always bear their testimonies, and it was kind of a big "you're going home!" moment and I wanted to make sure I said the right things. It turned out really well though. I ended up sharing a cool experience I had where I was kind of frustrated with all my weaknesses over my mission and I prayed to ask if Heavenly Father could accept my mission anyways, and I just had this mental image of myself as a 3-year-old coming to him with a picture I drew, and of course it's a little 3-year-old picture that looks ridiculous, and like any parent, he didn't condemn me for not drawing it perfectly; he gave me a hug and said he was proud of me and put it on his refrigerator (using a magnet on stainless steel, the Celestial Kingdom's going to be awesome). And I could really feel that even though he recognized my weaknesses, he really was happy with my mission and knew it was the best I could offer at that point in my spiritual progression and that I had wanted to give him my best offering. 

After Zone Conference, we ended up sticking around because the STL's had a leadership meeting and we were going on visits afterwards, and Sister Lewis called from Charlottetown because apparently Stephanie's been working on Sundays and is now LA, which is sad. But it totally made my day to talk to Sister Lewis again! I love her. Then we went with the Cole Harbour sisters back to Cole Harbour, and the RS was having an activity that was basically "eat fajitas and way too much dessert," so that was our dinner. It was pretty fun since I knew most of the members there so I didn't feel awkward being at another ward's dinner party. Then Sister Howell and I went boardwalk contacting, which was ALSO pretty cool because it was in Eastern Passage. When I was in that area, I really never felt good about working in Eastern Passage, especially boardwalk contacting. Which was partly because it genuinely was a harder area and not where the Lord always needed us, but partly also due to just a lack of skill for that kind of area. So I tried to really exercise faith this time and it was a really great experience! It felt so different even from just when I went contacting there before the French temple trip a few months previous to that. We met a Pentecostal couple who were actually really open and recognized that their church wasn't perfectly true. But they're also pretty sure that because they went to Bible school and have so much more "life experience" than us, they didn't feel the need to really hear us out whenever we were teaching. So that was a bit frustrating. Hopefully they listen to the Spirit when they read and pray though. Then we went back to the CH apartment for the night. We found out that our phone had been off the whole time and Sister Howell had had the other car keys, so the sisters had to get member to drive them to their appointments. Oops. Yay for members.

On Thursday I went with Sister Howell to teach their investigator Debbie who's on date, which was a good lesson. It was about forgiveness since they also have her neighbour on date and they're enemies. Haha. It went well. Then we stopped in on a potential, and she let us right in, but when we got in it turned out that she's blind and didn't realize we were Mormons, and always would chase the Mormon missionaries away with her dog! Hahaha. It was cool though because her heart was softened as we taught and I could tell she was really feeling the Spirit and was willing to have us back, even if she doesn't fully understand why or that it means it's true yet. It was really neat to see the way the Lord prepared to get at her. Then we went home for a REALLY short lunch, since our plans went long since Debbie got a 15-minute-long important phone call in the middle of the lesson. (It gave me some career ideas though so that was cool.) Then I went with Sister Pizzey to teach their other on-date investigator, the neighbour, which was also a really good lesson, and then we ended up getting a call about organizing a musical number for a funeral on Saturday. So we went to pick up the music from the member, and it turned out that Sister Cosman, the WML's wife from Saint John, was staying there since she's related to the family, and she was in charge of the musical number! So that was cool. Sister Pizzey didn't realize how stressful it can be to organize musical numbers when she volunteered though, so we ended up getting a Diet Coke to de-stress her and then spending the rest of the exchange on that, haha. Then we picked up the elders and drove them back to Sydney. We got home around 10. Sister Curtis insisted on driving on the way back, which was slightly annoying, but whatever.

Friday was weekly planning, and then we went with the Eskazoni elders to teach a less-active, who was actually Elder Amaya's first baptism! It was cool because she's really just been sidetracked with work and school, and consequently a few bad choices, but she's so ready to come back. She had all her church books in a prominent place on her bookshelf and called it her "treasure." And she's stopping working on Sundays in a few weeks ANYWAYS. So that was a great lesson. Then we drove to Glace Bay for some appointments with potentials, but they fell through, so we went knocking and found some new potentials to make appointments with. Then we went to Subway, and the STL's were supposed to call to review our exchange, but they never did. So after dinner, we just did more knocking and met MORE great people, but then our appointment with Krysty and Eileen fell through. Bummer. But on their street, we found a less-active member that set up an appointment with us! That street is just bizarrely full of great potential. At the end of the day, we stopped by the Smiths to invite her to a lesson tomorrow and prep her on what we'd teach, and then we went home.

We did park contacting in the morning on Saturday, and then we drove out to Glace Bay. On the way we stopped at Tim Horton's because we were STARVING and I ordered a hazelnut white hot chocolate. But they made it with regular. So Sister Curtis said she's take it. Apparently not realizing it had hazelnuts. Which she wasn't sure if she was allergic to or not -- she went into anaphylactic shock over a mystery nut once, and there's tons of hazelnut allergies in her family. But then she drank the rest of the hot chocolate even AFTER realizing it had a hazelnut shot. *facepalm* *headdesk*. So we switched our plans around and decided to knock a street close to the Glace Bay hospital, just in case. I had kind of a mental image of where to stop, so we pulled over and started knocking. The first house we knock on, this YSA-age girl answers. It turns out she went on a trip to Nicaragua and EVERYONE else in her group was a bunch of LDS friends. And she started dating a Mormon guy, and she has a Book of Mormon with all their favourite scriptures marked in it. It was a miracle! So we got her information -- she's going to be out of town for a bit so setting up an appointment didn't work -- and kept knocking. Eventually I made her go back to the car so I could call potentials since her throat and tongue were swelling and I didn't want to have to carry her back to the car. So I got a few appointments set up and then the reaction started going down. Haha. This is how missionaries deal with health concerns.... After that, we had our lesson with Donald, who we knocked into the previous day. He's an old French guy who moved here from Montréal about 5 years ago. But he speaks really good English so we just taught him in English. He's searching for piece of mind and is pretty Catholic, but just because that's what he was brought up with and he loves Jesus. Sister Smith came with us and it was great. After that we were supposed to have a branch picnic, but it got cancelled due to weather, so we visited with Kerianna instead and talked some more about the Lord's guidance in making decisions. Then we stopped by Julie, but she wasn't home, so we went street contacting a bit before dinner. Then we checked a media referral. Turns out her brother-in-law referred her as a prank. It was pretty funny. We played it cool though and had a good conversation and I think it was a good seed planted. They offered to drive us home, and I really wished we didn't have our car so we could have said yes. After that we went knocking, but there were some people close by who sounded like they were on a REALLY freaky trip, and I didn't feel safe about it so we ended up going home before they got between us and the car. The STL's called us that night and had call night/reviewed the exchange, so we got to bed kind of late.

Sunday was church. We'd considered planning a backup plan for church because of the water problems, but decided not to. It turned out that the last 2 hours were cancelled again, but since it was Elder Amaya's last Sunday (he's going home early for school), everyone hung around and took pictures and it took even LONGER than we had planned. I was kind of frustrated. We went home for dinner...I mean lunch...stupid Québecois keeps mixing me up on those...and then tried to stop by a potential, but they had company. So we went street contacting, but we kept running into the Elders, so we stopped by Julie, who wasn't home, and I think we did a bit more knocking before going home for supper. After that, we stopped by the Jackson family, who are less-active, and they were just headed out but we got to know them and share a short thought. I think it was for the best since they hopefully won't have their guard up so much next time we go over. We managed to contact a part-member family we got as a referral, and then tried stopping by some members, but they were busy, so we decided to knock the street of the media referral from yesterday. We actually got let in to a Jehovah Witness' house! It was neat because the wife answered the door, and I could just tell they had some light in their eyes and it was a family. Then the husband came to the door and I just felt the Spirit as soon as I saw him. So we went in and they had another JW couple over, and we had a really good discussion. I ended up teaching the Saviour's Earthly Ministry through Pray to Know in their doorway. The one guy who didn't live their, Richard, was pretty respectful and appreciated our shared values on missionary work and morals, but he was also a bit Bible-bash-y. But the first guy, Luke, really just seemed genuinely curious and wanted to know what God wanted him to do. It was kind of cool because he actually showed me how natural member missionary work can be when you're one point he brought up their website, kind of, and I could tell it was really just because he genuinely loved his church and God's teachings and was sharing it out of love, and it wasn't offensive or awkward at all. So yeah, a JW is now my model for how to share the gospel naturally as a member. Hahaha. It was interesting because I managed to bring it back at the end to "So the only way to know which of us is right is to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it," in such a way that they couldn't deny that that was what they needed to do. And as soon as I did, Richard started being like, "Well it was nice to talk to you, it's getting late..." hahaha. The Book of Mormon and being willing to read and pray is the greatest litmus test for real intent ever! I really hope Luke can find his way to the truth though, I've been praying for him. (The wives got bored and were across the hall in the kitchen making something.)

Sister Olson

I took a selfie of us driving to Zone Conference because this sums up so much of my mission experience...driving very long distances when ridiculously tired.

Awkward Elder/Sister photo with Elder Amaya and I.

Sister Jarvis and I, my middle child. She was supposed to be training this transfer, and I TOTALLY remember being in Zone Conference training Sister Coleman when Sister Judd bore her farewell testimony. Weird weird weird.

Sister Tegge and I. I was her STL for 4 transfers and I think she's great. She made a Facebook post about it and it was like a GOODBYE post. Seriously what is this I don't even.

Sister Echols and I. We always end up serving around each other.

I hadn't seen Sister Christensen since Newfoundland. All three of us. We served together at the beginning of our missions.

Elder Torrie, the AP. I whitewashed into his area. Note Elder Widdup photobombing and both of them being weird. 

(We actually tried to make it look awkward because elder/sister photos are the best that way.)
Street contacting on the Eastern Passage boardwalk:

Sister Pizzey and I. We're "half-sisters"...Sister Judd did my first transfer and her second transfer.

My picture wall.

The sunset on Sunday night.