April 29, 2013


We've got some sort of cool really old courthouse/government building downtown Mount Pearl

A ship in the harbour

Me at Cape Spear, which was the windiest place ever! I'd bring my hand out of my pockets long enough to take one picture, and they'd be numb!

Another picture of me standing on a rock by the ocean

Sister Judd and I

The lighthouse (Cape Spear?) 

Elder Diodati is behind me, Elder Beckert is behind him in the basketball shorts and goofy hat, and Elder Tait is walking away ignoring us. Haha. 


Dear Mom,

I still maintain that you don't have to do chi-squared unless both your manipulated and responding variables are qualitative. But then again, I remember exactly how impressed I was with my Stats prof last semester, so whatever.

Those are really cute pictures. I'm glad Ortensia liked my letter to Monte. The blue thing is supposed to be a dragon. And I ended up drawing an ostrich because I was trying to draw a horse, but then the head looked like an ostrich head instead, so I turned it into that. 

I think I met Elder Sloan, but I met like a trillion missionaries at the transfer lunch and I think I'd had like 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, so I don't remember what he looks like. But I've heard about him. The sisters in my district all think he's awesome.

That's so great about badminton divisionals. I'm pretty sure I lost two games in a row and was out of the tournament in Junior High. Beating Edison is pretty impressive. One time in high school, I only lost by two points to an Asian team from Western. I felt like that was pretty much as good as winning. 

Good job to Steven on the o-chem test, that's a pretty big deal. And yeah, you never want to be last presenter at ANYTHING. I think pathology is fascinating though. It would be pretty funny if Mason trained Federico. I don't know if that will happen since Mason's technically French-speaking and Federico is I think technically Spanish speaking, but hey, you never know. 

This week has been pretty crazy. On Monday we were supposed to have an appointment with Roseann, but it fell through (she later dropped us via text message and it was sad), so we went to Bay Roberts a few hours early after P-day to do exchanges. We worked in their area on Monday night and Tuesday, but didn't really accomplish much due to some messy planning. Also, nobody in Bay Roberts has addresses. So all the referrals are like, "They live down this road and you turn left by the pond and then it's the house with the long driveway and a fence and red trim." So we spent a long time looking for people, which led to various adventures, such as accidentally pulling up to the house of whatever the Newfoundlander equivalent of a redneck is, and then later having our car chased by a cow. It was great. And then we finally found this lady's house, and she didn't even answer the door. Yep.

That evening, Elder Walker came and gave a fireside in Bay Roberts. The branch only has about 8 people, but people from St. John's came too. I told him that he dated my Grandma. He would like Grandma Olson to know, for the record, that he didn't dump her; he went on a mission and she was married when he came home. Whatever. He told everyone in the chapel that he had dated my Grandma at the beginning of his talk. It was great.

Then on Wednesday we had Zone Conference with him in St. John's and we learned a lot of stuff. It was really good, but I forgot my notes. One thing he told us was that President Monson once told all the General Authorities in a meeting inside the temple that they needed to read their patriarchal blessings more often. I thought that was pretty cool; that even Apostles and General Authorities still benefit from their patriarchal blessings, so how much more can we benefit from studying them?

Then on Wednesday afternoon we were supposed to have an appointment with Michael, but he cancelled too. So we decided to go knocking in this one community that's really new. A few weeks ago, we were looking at the map and trying to decide where to knock, and I was getting this distinct impression about an area of the map that doesn't have any roads on it. And I said, "Okay, we know our map is incomplete, and I think there's a road right here that we don't know exists that we need to knock." So later on, we used the LDS meetinghouse locator to find a more accurate map, and I found the street I wanted. I even specifically knew what area of the street to knock. So we started knocking, and the second house in, this girl Erica let us in and we taught her. It was amazing, and also really funny. She's a foreman on some oilfield rig, and you could tell. For example, after we taught her the First Vision, it was silent for a moment, then she said, "Wow. You guys are f---ing powerful." Hahaha. And then we went over Moroni's promise with her, and before we could commit her to read, she said, "Can I have this book?" "...yes! Yes you can!" "Good. Because I already put my bookmark in it. I don't know if you noticed. But it's my book now." "Okay." And without us even committing her, she said, "I'm going to read this tonight. That's a promise. And then I'll pray, and then I'll know." 

Then on Friday we went back for our next appointment and she didn't answer, and she hasn't texted us back. When we were at the end of the street, we saw her going into her house with a friend, and when we taught her on Wednesday we could tell she felt like having religious feelings was really weird and something that people would generally laugh at, so we hope it's just because her friend was there.

On Thursday, we had a "Ward Blitz Night," which is something new we tried for the first time. We got ward members to go on splits with us to visit less-active members. None of the members on my list were home, but Sister Larsen was just so great. She left little messages on all their doors and she was just so excited to do missionary work and she was telling me about all the people she just visits because she wants to be nice, and all her ideas about sharing the gospel with her neighbours. It made me really happy. And then we didn't have a sure address for the last person on our list, but Sister Larsen really wanted to go visit her, so she suggested that we just go knocking and ask people if they know where this lady lives. You don't get members offer to go knocking very often, haha. It was great. She totally contributed to door approaches and after every door she'd say something like, "That was amazing Sister Olson! You're so awesome!" Haha. I guess you can all figure out why I enjoyed going out with her so much :P

And then on Friday...that was an interesting day. So earlier in the week, we called the mission office for something, and Sister Calvert said something to Sister Judd about coming down on Monday. Sister Judd didn't know anything about this, but we thought that maybe Sister Nelson was getting transferred off the Rock and that Sister Judd would be the Sister Training Leader, because we knew there was a training conference in Halifax on Monday and Tuesday. So Friday is weekly planning, and we wanted to know if she was leaving and when her flight left before we scheduled appointments that conflicted or anything like that, so we called Sister Calvert and asked her. She said, "I can't tell you that. But when I do call you, you'll be moving quickly. Also, if you had to pack, how much stuff do you have to bring with you?" We were just like, um, what? And then a few hours later, she called Sister Judd and said, "Has President called you? No? Well, you didn't hear it from me, but it's a one-way ticket. Pack all your things." Sister Judd was just like, WHAT IS GOING ON???? because it isn't the end of the transfer yet. So we called up to the Zone Leaders, and they said they'd call the Assistants. They called back and said, "The Assistants say President will call you tonight, and not to worry about it," to which Sister Judd replied, "I'm a girl! I'm going to worry about it!" Haha. 

We called our District Leader, Elder Beckert, and he said, "Sister Judd, just go get a milkshake or something." "Thank you. I feel like I need to eat my feelings right now." "You eat those feelings. If you need anything, just let me know." You can totally tell he has four sisters, haha. So FINALLY, President Leavitt called that night. He's going to transfer her and make her a STL in a different area, and since transfers are next week but training is this week, he doesn't want to fly her down, then fly her back up, then fly her back down. So she's leaving this afternoon, and Sister Leavy is coming up from Bay Roberts to be my temporary companion, since they were in a trio there. Sister Leavy is only one transfer older than me, so she's pretty nervous about it, but I feel pretty excited. Although, I did feel the need to buy a GPS, because neither of us know our way around. Haha.

Then on Saturday we were supposed to teach our investigator who's on date, but she skipped the appointment AGAIN, and she didn't come to church, so now she's off-date. We're going to try to see her this week and figure out what's up. And then on Sunday we basically just went around saying goodbye to everyone, so it was rather unproductive. What with going to Bay Roberts, having Zone Conference, weekly planning day, and preparing for her to leave, we did a super lame job with key indicators this week, since we essentially only went out proselyting for two and a half days. So Elder Morin, one of the assistants, called me this morning to ask how my area was doing and discuss finding ideas with me and whatever, so I don't have as much time to email as usual. I think this is still a pretty long letter though.

Oh yeah, last P-day we went out to Cape Spear, and instead of just going up the path to the lighthouse and looking at the historic sites, Elder Raymant and Elder Diodati decided they wanted to climb along the edge of the cliff by the ocean all day. I thought I was going to die. It was so steep. And the Elders kept jumping off of stuff yelling "Parkour!!!" and then "I nearly died!!!" and I was just like, "Shut UP." Haha. It was a really fun day though. I'm going to send pictures in a separate email.

I love you all!
Sister Jaclyn Olson

April 22, 2013

"So what do I do now?"

Dear Mom and everyone,

So this week I received a book of stamps from you, and someone else also wrote me a letter that included a self-addressed and stamped envelope for return mail. Don't worry, I get the hint, haha. I'm trying to keep up on my correspondence. Also, if any of my American friends are reading this, I don't know which of you have moved for spring/summer semester, so you should tell me your addresses, because I'm not writing you until I know.


I'm not sure I know this Elder Brownlee, but I feel like his brother was in my high school class. Is he in the MTC right now? Because I definitely ran into someone and I THINK it was a Brownlee, but I can't remember. I ran into a lot of casual acquaintances there. No, I've never heard of Rita McNeil. It's cool that Christine Liddell's in Halifax, although I probably won't see her anytime soon. I guess Sister Judd might see her - we called the mission office to order supplies today, and we unexpectedly found out that she's apparently flying to Halifax next Tuesday for something. It's not transfers. I think it's Zone Leader Training, which probably means she'll be one of the new Sister Training Leaders, but we don't know yet. Sister Nelson from Bay Roberts is also going, which probably means I'll be in a trio with Sister Leavy and Sister Keeler in my area for a few days, which I'm SUPER excited about. Sister Leavy's on her second transfer and Sister Keeler came out with me, so that will be fun to have all new missionaries. Haha.

I don't mind that you grew bacteria in my room, because I intend to move out after my mission :P 

Sounds like the Kenya thing was super fun. 

So on Monday we had an appointment with a Church Headquarters referral who's also a former investigator, Angela, but she keeps cancelling appointments and it's been really hard to set up a time for the past few weeks. Well, she called us AGAIN and cancelled, and we insisted on coming over for just 10 minutes. Well, it turns out she's already prayed and read the Book of Mormon and knows it's true, so 10 minutes turned into half an hour and I committed her to baptism! She's on date for June 4th, but there's a few problems with that. First of all, June 4th is a Tuesday, because we hadn't talked about a date, so I just said the first thing that popped into my head. So we'll have to move it back to at least June 8th. The second problem is that we were supposed to have an appointment on Saturday, but she didn't answer the door, and she didn't come to church on Sunday either like she said she would. She said she'd felt recently like she needs to come back to this church, but she clearly isn't making it a priority in her life, so even though we have someone on date, I'm not so sure about this. It was still cool though. Everyone's congratulating me for putting her on date, but really, she's felt impressed to join the church and she knows the Book of Mormon is true; I was sitting there in the lesson thinking, "If I don't put her on date, I'd be the biggest idiot ever."

On Tuesday we had district meeting as usual, and we planned to go sing hymns downtown as a finding activity. But it wasn't well-planned at all, so even though we went, it was brief and unsuccessful. After that we went to a member's house for dinner. These are the same members who ate up FIVE HOURS the one time. We deliberately scheduled a teaching appointment with the ward mission leader later in the evening to give us an out. We go teach him sometimes because he's only been active for like a year and a half of his life (the most recent year and a half). We brought Annie with us, who's one of the less-actives we're working with, but I'll get to her later.

On Wednesday we went to MUN, the university, where we have a table. It's technically in East's area, but it's too much for them to do alone and in theory there should be people from all three areas, although they get the lion's share of referrals from it. One guy came up to me and we started talking. I asked him where he was from, because he had an accent, and he's Iranian but spent a lot of time in France. So we started speaking French, and I understood everything! I was standing there thinking, it's a miracle! Then he left and I realized, it's not a miracle, he was just French and not Quebecois. Hahaha. So Iranian accents are officially easier than Quebecois accents in French.

On Thursday we went to MUN again. Sister Judd was really sick all week, so she spent a lot of time sitting in the back and talking to this one girl we've met there who isn't interested in such a way as to become an investigator, but who talks to us. She's from Nanton and her best friend was Mormon, but he died of cancer midway through his mission, so she feels like she has a connection to us. Anyways, while Sister Judd was out of the picture, people came up and started talking to me. Usually only the crazy people talk to me, so it was pretty awesome. (Although I still got a few crazy people. "That sounds like the teachings of this 15th-century mystic..."). One guy, Michael, came up to me and started asking questions right off the bat, then asked to buy a Book of Mormon! I was like, they're free, take one!!! And then I got his first name and address, but I forgot a last name and phone number because I was still so surprised by the experience of talking to someone who's actually interested, which made contacting him a bit difficult. But I'll get to that later.

Then we went and contacted a "referral" from the East Elders. They called us and said, "We were praying about a street to knock, and the street that came to mind is in your area." Um, pretty sure you can't get revelation from our area, but whatever Elders, we'll go knock it. We ended up knocking into a former who was previously in Central's area, but had moved. So it was starting to look pretty legit, but went back to visit them the next day and HOLY COW are we not teaching them. She's not really interested, she just likes talking to people and asking weird questions (which she told us straight-up). And then her boyfriend is one of those really smug atheists who thinks he's so much smarter than you just because he's not "hoodwinked" by religion. I find it so funny and annoying at the same time when people say condescendingly, "Well, believe in science." That's nice, so do I. So he kept interrupting with stupid things that he was just SURE would trip us up, like the fact that "psychology shows that the human mind created God." Well, I've actually read those studies, and what they actually show is that specific regions of the brain respond to spiritual influences. And that makes sense. Of course a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to know Him would create us with minds that are primed to seek him out, just like how babies can recognize their mothers before they're biologically capable of recognizing other people. We mostly just ignored him though. But he kept interrupting with dumb questions like that, so finally I answered another one of them, and he condescendingly shook my hand over the quality of my answer, which was clearly his way of shielding himself from the fact that my answer made sense. He kept thinking he has the upper hand in the conversation, but it was honestly really sad to see how blinded he was by pride. I found it interesting that all of his arguments were exactly like Korihor's - that belief is "the product of a frenzied mind." Despite all the "science" he thinks is backing him up, it's just the same arguments the devil has always made.

Then we tried to go find another referral from the East Elders, who had accidentally been working in our area. It's a brand new development, and the street wasn't on any maps, so we totally couldn't find it. But we looked up a current map of the area on the meetinghouse locator, so we'll go see it later. The East Elders are really funny. They're so enthusiastic, but they do all these WEIRD things. We definitely need them in our district though, they inject creativity and enthusiasm into the district. 

Then we had another Headquarters referral, so we ran up to Paradise to contact her. She met us at the door and was like, "Do you have the rosary beads I ordered?" Um, no. It was weird. But Sister Judd was like, we should knock this street! So we did, and on the third door, we asked if we could come in, and the lady said, "Yeah, sure!" I've never had that happen before, so I was like in shock for the entire lesson. We taught Roseann the Restoration, and she's great. She's Catholic, but she's never been to church, but she and her husband pray every morning and night together, and she has a strong testimony of prayer. We could tell she was so excited to read the Book of Mormon. It was great. Her husband was out of town on a fishing trip, but we're going to teach her again tonight and hopefully we can pick up their whole family! Then we tried to contact Michael, the awesome guy from MUN, but he wasn't home.

On Friday we went to Bridges to Hope, a food bank we volunteer at. We're not sure we'll keep volunteering there, because it's not a great finding activity, but I really enjoyed it. Then we went to visit a less-active named Elizabeth. She's been making a lot of progress. Usually she's super tentative in responding to commitments, but that time when we asked her to read the Book of Mormon and come to church she was like, "Oh yes," very emphatically. But then she didn't come this Sunday, and she'd been coming consistently. Her husband was super against the church, and when we left her 9-year-old daughter kept talking about how she wanted to come to church this Sunday, and I think that caused problems. But it was a great lesson. Also, my near-encyclopedic knowledge of Spongebob totally lets me bond with 9-year-olds. Sister Judd was like, "How many Spongebob episodes have you seen????" and I was like, "..."

After Elizabeth, we taught Annie at Sister Cooper's house. Sister Cooper is soooooo awesome. She's been having us teach Annie at her house and combining it with dinner appointments, and she's an awesome cook and an awesome fellowshipper. She used to be so afraid of coming on missionary lessons, apparently, but since having Annie in her house, she's warmed up to it and even came to the lesson with Angela we had on Saturday! Which fell through, but still, it's huge progress that she was willing to come. Anyways, we taught Annie and it was great. She has this huge love for the scripture now, and only a few lessons ago she was having trouble reading. And she has a huge trust in prayer, and just a few weeks ago she was complaining that she didn't know what to pray about. Her sister's inactive and she was telling us about all these objections her sister brought up, and she said that she said, "You know what, none of that even matters. Just pray tonight and ask Heavenly Father if it's true." She has such a strong foundational testimony now. The only thing holding her back is moving out of her boyfriend's place. On Sunday we talked more about that and committed her to decide to move out soon and pray about her decision, so hopefully it will work out. It's kind of sad on our end, because the last thing she needs to do will send her back to the States and we won't be able to see her anymore, and we just love her so much.

Then on Saturday we tried to take Annie to contact Michael, since he's a single guy, but that fell through, and the lesson with Angela fell through, as I said previously. We did manage to teach Lisa, a mentally handicapped less-active we work with. She's so nice. I love teaching her, because it forces me to really look and simplify things, and she has such simple childlike faith. We asked her why we need to be obedient, and she said, "To show God we love him." She's so amazing.

Then on Sunday after correlation, we brought a member, Juliet, who served a 3-month mission in New Brunswick with Sister Judd because of an unexpected dearth of Sister missionaries, to visit Michael. And he was home! He's geophysics student from Zimbabwe. He is SO prepared. He's been earnestly searching for the truth for about 3 years, and he knows things about the Reformation and stuff that I don't even know! It's probably prideful that I was surprised by that, haha. But we were teaching him and he was really excited by all of it and had sooooooo many questions. At one point he just said, "So what do I do now?". BEST QUESTION EVER. We probably could have put him on date, but his roommate was with us, and he was weird. He wanted to call a soothsayer from the Dominican Republic on his iPhone. We were just like, no. But we have an appointment with him on Wednesday and we are SO PUMPED.

So that's what's going on right now. We've seen an explosion of success, which was super cool. What's interesting to me is that none of it really came by our own efforts - it was all Headquarters referrals and people just coming up to us and asking questions and stuff. But I feel like it was a reward for working hard.

Give the missionaries in your ward referrals. It's so frustrating to have meagre member support. I think it was Elder Anderson who promised that as you pray, names and faces will come to your minds.

Love you all!
Sister Jaclyn Olson
PS - Some other random tidbits:

When we tried to contact Michael with Annie, our car wouldn't let the key or the wheel turn afterwards. Sister Judd and I both tried and it wasn't working at all! We had to call Central to come rescue us. Elder Beckert just turned the car on. Why do boys have magic car powers?

We tried to contact a referral yesterday, and the woman had EIGHT DOGS in this TINY LITTLE HOUSE. I feel like missions let you really see the depth of human weirdness. It was insane. She couldn't hear a thing we said because of the dogs barking. We're not going back.

Sister Leavy wants Steven to know that she was his EFY counselor. I showed her the family pictures Mom sent me and she was just like, I KNOW THAT KID!

Anyways. Love you all!

April 15, 2013

Valiant Effort

Dear Mom and Everyone,

Jeremy's talk sounds like it was really great, and it's cool to see how much a mission has blessed him and changed him. It will be interesting to run into him when I get back.

So you and dad both talked about Life of Pi and the metaphors, but you didn't actually tell me if the movie was any good, haha. I must admit, when I read the book I didn't really bother to look for metaphors, I enjoyed the story on the surface level, and even though I knew there were supposed to be a lot of metaphors, I wasn't reading it for English class and I don't think I ever really discussed the book with anybody, so I had a rare moment of intellectual laziness there.

That's a super cute story about Elianna. She's just adorable. Teaching Primary is like the best calling ever. Our Ward Mission Leader here always jokes that the reason he does a "bad job" on this or that is so that he gets released and he can work in nursery.

This week's been pretty good. We ended up spending all of P-day with the two sets of Elders in St. John's, since we didn't have our car, and the East Elders had to get their car serviced, so Central drove us all around in the van all day. We spent forEVER emailing home, because Elder Diodadi types really slow. Then we went downtown to Smoke's Poutinerie, which they were all raving about. It was good, but I wasn't super impressed; I've made poutine just as good last semester. Then after that, we went and tried to look up some formers, which didn't really pan out, but one of them gave us a couple of referrals that might be promising.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, which was pretty fun. The Zone Leaders came up from Grand Falls to participate. Then we went on exchanges. I went to Bay Roberts with Sister Nelson and Sister Leavy, and Sister Keeler stayed in Mt Pearl with Sister Judd. It was an...interesting...experience. I learned the importance of good planning by counterexample, I guess. I did make it into a nonmember's house for the first time, and we taught the Plan of Salvation. She accepted all of it, but the thing is, everybody here is a "Strong Catholic" or a "Strong Pentacostal" because their family has been that religion for generations, but none of them know what their religion actually teaches. So they agree with and accept everything you say, but then they say "But that's what my church teaches. Your church isn't any different than my church, so I'm going to keep going to my church." And I'm just sitting there thinking, seriously, go ask your pastor if that's what you believe, okay? And people here are REALLY resistant to change, so they refuse to really consider the fact that the restoration means that their church isn't true. And if people don't have real intent or if they shut their eyes to the truth, then we're not going to convince them.

On Wednesday I came back, and then Sister Judd and I tried to contact some people, and they all did this thing where they act like they're being really nice even though they know they're being really rude, which I think is more annoying than when people are just flat-out rude. It's okay though because even though the referrals fell through, the member who gave us the referrals was really positive when we told her because she had basically just been afraid of people saying no, and now she faced that fear and she sees it isn't so bad, so now she feels a lot more comfortable with member missionary work, which is great.

We got our car back! It was one of the greatest moments ever!

We've been working with a less-active member named Elizabeth. She speaks Spanish as her first language, and then she lived in Montréal so French and English are both kind of her second languages, so there's a bit of a language barrier. Her husband is also a member but is totally against the church now, and her children haven't been baptized. Her husband said we couldn't teach her children, but we've been working with her. She basically doesn't want to acknowledge that she's getting an answer right now, because she knows that then she'd know she needs to go to church and become active, and she doesn't want to bring contention into her family. But we watched Elder Holland's talk with her and she was really touched by it. Eventually she broke down crying in the lesson, and we were able to comfort her and she gave a really great closing prayer and then she came to church on Sunday! It was awesome. I was playing the organ and she had come in late, so after I finished the opening hymn I looked out over the congregation and saw her sitting there, and I was just so happy :)

That evening, we went and looked up a referral from a family in our ward, and she said we could teach her! So we called the members and they said they'd call her and set up a time for us to teach her in their house, which is pretty much the ideal situation, so hopefully that pans out! 

Afterwards, we went and looked up another referral, and she actually let us inside, which is the first time I've made it into someone's house in my own area, and it was also my first "first lesson." Too bad she's crazy. Well, she's not legitimately crazy, but teaching her was a total gong show. She believes very strongly in Jesus, but she also believes very strongly that you don't have to go to church, and she was jumping all over the place from topic to topic about her mom and her first husband and her common-law boyfriend who's Buddhist, and all this stuff that happened in her life, and we could barely get a word in edgewise. It was becoming pretty clear that picking her up as an investigator would be the wrong choice, and we were both kind of giving up on trying to teach a lesson. She's one of the sweetest people I've met, but not prepared.

But then I remembered this dream I had once in high school. I was in the Spirit World, and I was with my family and friends and it was all happy and whatnot, just like you'd expect. But then someone came up to me, and as soon as I saw them, my heart sank. It was someone I'd known on Earth (not in real life, just in my dream), and I had avoided sharing the gospel with them for all the usual little reasons we don't share the gospel with people in our lives. And as soon as I saw them, I felt guilty for that, because they'd obviously accepted the gospel. They came up to me, and with the most profound look of hurt on their face and in a tone of complete betrayal, they said, "Why didn't you tell me???" I just wanted to crumple up and sink into the ground. I thought of all the reasons I didn't share the gospel with people, and they all seemed so weak and trivial that offering those as an excuse just felt completely feeble and useless. I had absolutely nothing I could say to them, and I just stood there speechless. I don't think I've ever felt so utterly in the wrong in my life. I wasn't humble enough for an apology to be my instinct then, but if I had that dream now, all I would have been able to say is, "I'm so sorry."

Well, all the sudden this dream flashed to my mind, and I could totally see her saying, "Why didn't you tell me?" in the next life. And the Spirit was just like, you have to tell her, even if nothing comes of it! So I made what Sister Judd later called a "valiant effort" to get her on topic long enough to teach the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, and Pray to Know. She really quieted down for the first vision and I could tell she was really touched by it, but as soon as I paused for breath, she tried to change the topic. And she successfully changed the topic before I could challenge her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, so it wasn't a very powerful challenge. So yeah, I taught my first First Vision and placed my first Book of Mormon in the biggest gong show situation of my life, haha. 

Then on Friday we were supposed to do weekly planning, but President Leavitt was up in Newfoundland, and he randomly decided to drop in on the meeting we were having with the Elders about finding idea. President Leavitt is very talkative, and then we each got interviewed, so that took a LONG time. We ended up doing our weekly planning into Saturday. Then we taught Lisa, a less-active we work with who's mentally disabled, and tried to contact a referral the East Elders gave us. Apparently they'd thought part of our area was in their area, so they'd just gone knocking and they had a few potentials. But she wasn't home.

Then yesterday, we managed to teach Annie again and committed her to pray specifically about how she can move out of her boyfriend's apartment. Her immigration status is complicated right now, so she can't work or leave the country, so that puts some extra challenges in her way.

We also went knocking on this one street we felt really impressed to go to. We got a really solid potential, who took the initiative to set up an appointment herself and everything, which NEVER happens, but everyone else was hilariously unfriendly. We had one guy tell us in the warmest, most welcoming voice that he "doesn't believe in harassing people with this Christian nonsense." From inside, we could hear a woman say, "Now Jack, be nice." Haha. We also had our first gay household. That was interesting.

The mission has been great so far! I love you all!

Sister Jaclyn Olson

April 8, 2013

How many blog posts will be titled SNOW?

Dear Mom and Everyone,

I guess I have to thank you for buying those stupid dogs and making me learn to accept dogs. This one inactive lady we've visited a few times has THREE dogs, and they climb up on the couches and sit on our laps, and they shed EVERYWHERE and they SMELL LIKE DOG. But they don't actually bother me too much, whereas Sister Judd is just going crazy.

Happy birthday to Dad! And that's cool that Chloe's getting so fast at running, I always forget that you guys go running together since it started after I left for university.

That's super great that Carmen loves music theory, I also really liked it. It's just so neat to see how everything works together and stuff like that. I think she'd really enjoy taking harmony someday, I know that was one of my favorite theory classes I took. That's awesome that you're going to Maui! Hahahaha, I can just imagine how Carmen feels about that. Hopefully Steven remembers to vacuum at some point during those 10 days...um...yeah...

Conference was really great. All of us missionaries loved how much they talk about member missionary work, because the branch has been less than enthusiastic about that, which is kind of understandable because we only have like one recent convert in the last 10 years who's stayed active, and they find it pretty discouraging. But the branch president actually asked President Leavitt to tell us to stop asking for dinner referrals when we went to dinner appointments, and President was just like, um, no. So now people don't feed us dinner, haha.

Well, that's not true. We had a dinner appointment on Tuesday. And we don't have our car, because Sister Huppe was driving downtown in St. John's in January and it was super icy, and the hills are SO steep, and the car slid down a hill and hit a snowbank and it's still getting fixed. So they said they'd pick us up, but then they were several HOURS late, but they kept saying they'd be there right away, so we kind of got strung along into not ditching. And then his wife called and asked us to tell him to stop at the grocery store on the way, and he bought a ton of groceries but not the one thing his wife asked for, and then we got to their house and they hadn't even started making dinner, and all told it ate up literally five hours. I was so frustrated. 

Oh hey, did you notice how much President Monson rolled his eyes during his talk? Just thought I'd point out that the prophet rolls his eyes too.

We had a funny experience where we had a headquarters referral, and so we called her, and one time we left a message, and then we tried to call her a couple times after that and it mysteriously kept cutting off. So finally we just went up to her house, and she wouldn't even come to the door. Her husband said she wasn't interested. We were just like, so whyyyyyyyy did you refer yourself? It was kind of funny, but we had to borrow the car from the Elders to go see her since she lives way up in this town called Paradise, and then we didn't even get to see her.

Actually, most of our experiences have been pretty much like that. Apparently Newfoundland is just weird - they send missionaries up here who have huge success in other areas, and they just can't make any headway. But the good thing about that is, everyone in my district and even my zone is a really GOOD missionary, because the province is so challenging that they just don't send slackers up here, so I get to learn from the best. And this week we had our best week in terms of key indicators EVER in the area, and even though it was pretty lame by the standards of the rest of the mission, we feel like we're ready to work hard and so the Lord is blessing us by beginning to turn this area around.

The new training program for missionaries in the field is kind of interesting, because the training program assumes there are investigators to teach, and we don't really have any. We have two children who were taught before, but we just picked them up and we're not sure if we'll be able to keep teaching them because last time their dad was super against it. So I haven't actually taught a lesson to any new investigators yet, it's all been finding and less actives. Teaching less actives is also really great, though. We're teaching this one girl named Annie, and basically she wants to change, but she's here from America and is living with her boyfriend, and because of her immigration status she can't work, so she can't move  out unless she moves back home, so we've been working on that. And then there's this woman named Lisa who is mentally handicapped, and she's so sweet. I really enjoy teaching her because it REALLY forces me to learn how to teach the messages simply.

Because of how the area's set up, we're not super strict on staying within our boundaries - for example, the elders have to leave their area every single time they want to go to the church, and some really good contacting places like the mall and the university are outside our area, so we're allowed to go there all the time. The East Elders have a booth set up at MUN (the university) a couple times per week and we go there to help out. It's been funny, because everyone else gets people walking up to them and saying things like "Can you teach me about Jesus Christ?" or "I want to know about prophets and the Book of Mormon," and the people who walk up to me have opened with lines like, "Did you know Pluto isn't a planet anymore? I've always wondered what that meant for Sailor Pluto. Although I guess she's also the Keeper of Time; she's the daughter of Cronus. Do you know much about the Greek Gods?" or "You know, it's a pity the Mormon church is so unaccepting of queers." And I'm just standing there like, "Um...what?" Haha. I've actually enjoyed it though, people are just so funny.

Missions are just so great. It's funny because we'll have a day where everybody's slamming doors in our faces and cancelling appointments, and it's totally lame even though we're working hard, and we'll come home and plan for the next day and I'm just SO EXCITED, even though I know it will probably go the same way tomorrow. I'm not sure I've ever been this consistently excited for the next day before. It's awesome.

So the pictures I'm sending - one time it was a beautiful day all day, then we went inside for like 10 minutes, and when we came out it was just a TOTAL WHITEOUT. It was crazy! 

And since it was such a nice day I didn't have my toque, so I took a cue from 80-year-old ladies and wrapped my head in my scarf. It was actually super comfortable, I can't wait to be old and do that all the time. I made Sister Judd take a picture, but it totally doesn't capture how snowy it was, since the distinguishing feature of the snow is that it was snowing completely sideways, and you can't get that in a still frame, so it doesn't look very snowy. Also, it was too warm for the snow to stick, so you don't see that either. But within about 10 seconds, the side of us facing the wind was just completely white.

The other pictures are of downtown, because it's really pretty. I took them when we went for a dinner appointment there.

I love you all!
Sister Jaclyn Olson

Have you made a mormon.org profile?

Jaclyn did before she left. Find it here.

April 2, 2013

Top Shelf Bye

Dear Mom and everyone,

How are you guys? I'm top shelf bye! That's Newfie for "I'm good."

You're creepy, I can't believe you found my address on Google. Actually, I'm not sure that's my apartment, I'm in the basement suite of a yellow house, but that is my address. There aren't any apartment buildings in Mount Pearl, which is a city that's right next to St. John's; I can't even tell where one ends and the other begins. Kind of like Orem and Provo. My area takes in all of Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, and part of St. John's. My area is in the St. John's branch, which also takes in the areas of two companionships of Elders and about 30 to 50 active members come to church. We have something like 300 inactives, it's a bit crazy. Our district also has a trio of sisters in Bay Roberts, which is around the bay. So we actually have more sisters than Elders in our district! Our Zone is all of Newfoundland, and they're about a 4 hour drive away.

So we got up at 1 am to catch the bus at 3 am to fly out, and then we didn't get in until 9:30 pm. It was kind of funny when we were driving out, because one of the APs, Elder Morin, tried to drive the transfer van through a booth that was too short for the car, and it took like 15 minutes to back out. It was pretty funny. Then President Leavitt kept us up until like 3 am doing interviews, because apparently he's ridiculously hard working and stays up that late pretty much every night working. Then the next day, we did some orientation and then in the evening we went out with some of the Halifax missionaries, so Sister Keeler and I went with Sister Hart to teach a less active guy named Matt. It was pretty funny because she looked pretty alarmed every time we started talking, and then gradually she'd look relieved when she realized we weren't going to ruin the lesson.

That evening at dinner, President Leavitt noticed that I seemed to have a random fact for everything, so he decided that he was going to test me by telling me a random story, and then I'd tell him a random fact that related to it. After about 5 or so tries, he gave up trying to stump me and said, "You win...you're kind of scary." It also came out that I spoke French, so Elder Morin, who's from Quebec and actually didn't learn English until his mission really, decided to test me, and he concluded that I spoke better French than his Utahn companion, Elder Baskin. He was partly teasing Elder Baskin, but I think there's some truth to that statement. I was pretty proud of myself. Except when Elder Morin realizes I'm listening to him and Elder Baskin practice French when he was driving us around or whatever, he'd start speaking hardcore Quebecois to try to mess with me. At first I was just like, holy cow, WHAT THE HECK IS THIS. But then I realized what was going on, because Elder Baskin couldn't understand it either, hahaha.

The next day, Sisters Thompson, Pizzey, and Sandberg got up super early to take the transfer van out to PEI and Saint John, and the rest of us stayed behind and met a bunch of people at the transfer lunch. Then we went out with the Halifax sisters again for the afternoon. I committed an investigator to read Alma 32. That totally wasn't in the lesson plan, but the Spirit was like "ALMA 32!!!" so I just went ahead and hijacked Sister Hart's lesson for her. On the way back, I taught a guy that Uzbekistan is one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world, and I also taught him about the necessity for the Atonement and that God loves him. Sister Drew was listening to me talk to him and she thought it was totally hilarious.

I was so excited when I found out I was going to Newfoundland! President Leavitt told us pretty much right as soon as we got in that two sisters were both going to Newfoundland, and both Sister Keeler and I just thought, I hope that's me! And it was! So on Thursday night, we went to the airport and boarded a plane to Newfoundland. We got in super late. Sister Judd, my trainer who is from Strathmore and who reminds me a lot of my cousin Marissa and who is awesome, told us a funny story on the way there. Elder Raymant and Elder Diodadi (two of the Elders in our district) were teaching this guy, and they extended the commitment to be baptized, and he went off on this long extended metaphor about not getting married right away. So he wants to get to know the Book of Mormon, then he wants to date the Book of Mormon, then he wants to get engaged to the Book of Mormon, and THEN he wants to marry it. So the Elders talked a bit about the importance of committing to baptism and stuff, and then Elder Diodadi said, "Would you at least be willing to give a promise ring to the Book of Mormon?"

On Friday we did weekly planning pretty much ALL DAY. I like planning, so it wasn't too bad, but I STILL haven't had an entire day where we actually go find and teach people and whatnot, and I was getting a bit impatient. Then on Saturday, we drove out to Grand Falls for Zone Conference, which ended up taking up the entire day since the trip to and from is so long. It was a really good Zone Conference though. My zone leader, Elder Houle, is apparently from the ward that Mason is serving in right now, which was pretty funny.

I went to church on Sunday and played the organ. Apparently Elder Thompson used to play the piano, and when Pres. Leavitt told President Reid (the branch president) that Elder Thompson was being transferred, Pres. Reid was pretty upset. But Pres. Leavitt said, don't worry, I'm sending you someone even BETTER. Haha. We had some less actives come to church, which was great. And then we were going to go contact people, but then Pres. Reid found out nobody signed up to feed the missionaries for Easter, so he had us all over for Easter dinner, which was delicious. It was pretty interesting, because one of his daughters is less active, and Elder Raymant totally connected with her and ended up committing her to read the Book of Mormon and come back to church. It was cool to watch, because I'd only seen the 19-year-old-boy side of him on the long drive to Grand Falls, and then all the sudden he was totally teaching with what can only be described as power and authority, just like it says in Preach My Gospel. It reminded me of what people always say, that the Church must be true, because 19-year-olds can teach it. Then we went to institute and taught a less-active and got a referral, so the day wasn't a total wash.

So NL is weird about holidays. Apparently, the library was closed on Monday for St. Patrick's day, which was on a Sunday, just for example. So instead, we drove out to Bay Roberts for P-day and went to the bay out there. It was uncharacteristically good weather.

Oh, have I mentioned the weather? I'm pretty sure I've seen more snow here than I did all last winter in Calgary.

And the snow is basically just this gigantic sponge. I've never been so wet in my life! But yesterday was a GREAT P-day. And then we came back and taught some people, got some potentials, and got some referrals. It was really nice to actually teach and go knocking and feel like a missionary finally!

Oh, on P-day, we also got "screeched in." It's basically like the NL version of hazing. We had to dance to traditional music while being whacked with oars, eat gross food (the whole dried fish was actually pretty tasty), repeat a phrase in Newfie without mispronouncing (or else we'd get whacked with the oar - oh, and in a Newfie accent, "oar" is said with an h. So it's a "hoar." Yes. Seriously.), and then we had to kiss a codfish.

Today we had district meeting, which was pretty great, and now we're just stopping by to email before we got and do even more SERVING THE LORD, which I am super excited for, because I have definitely had enough with lots of talking and not doing anything, even though I know it's important.

Oh, and for my missionary plaque, I think I'd like 2 Nephi 16:8.

Sister Jaclyn Olson

April 1, 2013

Easter Monday


So Newfoundland basically takes any chance it can get for a holiday, so the library is closed. I'm just stopping by really quick at the church to let you know I'll email you later in the week and that I've settled into Newfoundland happily and safely. Love you!
Sister Jaclyn Olson